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    Thread: Personal or Galactic Survival?

    1. #1
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Cool Personal or Galactic Survival?

      SHORT STORY ABOUT SURVIVAL ON AN ALIEN PLANET IN THE FAR FUTURE.


      Personal Survival...or Galactic Survival?



      Chapter 1: Josh’s Homecoming


      Josh Harris was sitting in his room having a drink and looking at the Gal Net links like any other day. He was on board the Maidens Pride, a new Solar Transport that was taking him home after 16 months traveling the Fringe Worlds looking for resources that his Corporation might need.

      He had scanned hundreds of asteroids, and dozens of moons and uninhabited planets, but now his trip was soon going to be over, and he sat back thinking of all the places he had seen and been to. His records had already been sent back, and his Boss was pleased with what he found. It was more than enough to keep the Galactic Mining Guild going for another decade, even counting the drone miners and their insatiable appetites.

      Since the advent of Intelligent computers and drones using them, ships could be made in a month, and weapons and other hardware in hours easily. The Generic Printer on the wall in each room was everything anyone would need... food, equipment and water or juices at your fingertips, and ready to ingest in a matter of minutes. But thats the way it is in 3210, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

      He was just settling down for a nice nap when the ship rocked violently, and his eyes popped open to hear alarms and the computer screaming for everyone to get to the escape pods. The ship was under attack and he swore and grabbed his bag with his scanners and computer in it and ran out into the hall, to be grabbed roughly and thrown into a pod not much bigger than he was, and a second later....silence...as he tumbled out into space, and after a second to gather his bearings he managed to turn the power on and send a distress signal out ...but no one answered... at least not right away.

      “This is Josh Harris calling for all help within the range of my voice, we have been attacked and passengers are out in life pods drifting. Send help immediately...” he called but only static answered and he knew they were only a few days from the Core systems and only a few million miles from planets, since he saw them out his cabin window just an hour ago. But at near light speed they had traveled a long ways since then, and he didn’t know why no one was answering..or if anyone could.

      He sat back and waited for that answer, and finally the computer jumped in saying they were approaching a planet, and Josh saw the readings from the scanners, it was a temperate world, 18% oxygen, fresh water, and plants everywhere...not home... but better than nothing.

      “Can we land?” he asked as she seemed to think that funny and said ‘it depends on what ‘landing’ means to you.’ and he smiled, obviously this was one of the newer pods, with a fully sentient computer.

      “Anything I can walk away from.” He added as she agreed they could. He checked the place as they approached and after a minute he chose a spot near a lake and with some trees around it. “There...stop right there.” he said as she reminded him to tighten his belts and make sure he had a helmet on too, and after doing everything she ask he sat back with his eyes closed, not knowing if they would live or die today.

      The touchdown made him think this was less of a landing and more of a crash, but he gritted his teeth as the pod bounced and rolled for a minute then came to a sudden stop as it slammed into something sizeable enough to stop it. He sat back and the computer said the hatch was unlocked, and he turned from his seat and pushed against it and blue skies and white clouds greeted him, and since he was up and walking, that was all he had expected.

      “We made it in one piece...” Josh hinted, as the computer said that she wasn’t so sure of that. Once she was down like this she was basically worthless, unless she had another body to be set into later on.”you have a constructor built in right? I’ll definitely have need of that. We should start by making fresh water, or some machine that can purify natural water to drink.” he added as she said she could....with the right materials...make almost anything in due time, and he agreed and they seemed to have a deal.

      “Emergency equipment in the closet behind you.” She said and a little light flashed and Josh opened the closet to see some nutri bars, a odd looking rifle, and a small box of pills marked for infection.

      “That is a Model 22 Particle Transport, computer survival tool.” She said as he just laughed.

      “Looks like a little gun of some kind.” He mentioned as she agreed that it could be, if set up correctly.

      “It can be used for mining small surface ores, or hunting small animals. I wouldn’t suggest attacking anything bigger than you with it though.” She mentioned as he agreed.” Short range, less than 30 meters, can break up rocks into their constituent parts and do a little refining as well. bringing those refined ores back to me, and then we can make something better for you next time.” She mentioned as he nodded looking it over carefully.

      “I can recharge it a few times off my batteries...if we get good sunlight on this spot... we’ll see.” She added and he stepped outside to see a large field with weeds and bushes of many types, and he reached into his bag and pulled out a scanner and set it to find eatable plants, and started looking for supplies while it was still daylight.


      Chapter 2: Survival of the Fittest...Tech wise that is


      Josh walked a good distance, found a rock that was reddish and the scanner read iron ore... and he sprayed that with the beam on his gun and bits and pieces of ore popped and snapped and the computer called saying she was getting it all, and he was doing pretty well for the first day.

      “I made a list of the plants surrounding us here, gather anything marked with a check.” She added and he looked and saw maybe 6 things she had checked and when he tapped on the checkmark a picture came up showing it, helpful for sure.

      “I cant eat dead plants and sticks,” Josh said seeing one and she reminded him it was her job to know these things and Fiber was needed more than he would ever know.

      “Any type of cloth can be made from this one, even bandages, and we both know eventually you’ll need those.” She added as he just nodded sadly and went back to looking for more to gather.

      The little tool was a wonder, it had several settings... one for rock, one for defense, and one for gathering, and a swipe of the wide beam against a plant and it was gone in a second, and back at camp when he got there.

      “Here...” The computer said as a small door opened and out slid 4 newly made nutri bars and he stuck those in his pocket. “keep gathering like this and you’ll have a surplus soon enough. I can keep these in storage for weeks if need be.” She hinted as he agreed and sat down and ate one...and it wasn’t bad.

      “Here’s a small water refiner...” She added as a bottle like thing came rolling out next.” Just dip it into the lake nearby and shake well, there’s enough purifier inside to make this much safe easily.” She went on and he took that and snapped the hanger on it over his pants top and took his snack and walked to the lake and got the bottle filled. “Hmm there’s almost nothing in this water that can hurt you anyways.” She said as she saw the results.

      “And thats a good thing.” he remarked and took a nice big drink and started back towards camp.

      “Since we don’t know anything about night life here, better plan on sleeping inside tonight.” She mentioned and he totally agreed with that, and a few hours work later, he closed the door gently and sat back in his chair and got a few hours rest, while sometime during the night something made a loud scream nearby that jerked him awake, and he made sure the door was latched this time, as night sounds went on all around him until dawn.

      By sun up things got quiet again, and after a quick search, blood and bones were found not 200 yards away, and some interesting looking footprints that Josh scanned and the computer analyzed them.

      “A large carnivore...perhaps reptilian... and weighing around 500 pounds.” She said and Josh admitted that he didn’t want to meet one of those right now, and she agreed. “I think some specialized mining is in order, find the items on the list.” She said and Josh started looking for more iron, and copper and after walking for what seemed miles, he had a good supply of each and she called him back.

      When he got there there was a small table next to the capsule and a drone the size of a large bee flying back and forth, and as it did parts got made and then put together, and 30 minutes after Josh got back he had a gun, a real one this time.

      “This workbench is new...” Josh hinted and so she took the time to tell him that in an emergency she could create drones capable of working outside the capsule, and since she had minimal room for storage this helped a lot.

      “If I had some Silicon I could make more of those and make bigger things faster.” She hinted and Josh saw another trip in his future. “Go to the lake and look for soft, smooth looking sand along its edge and scan for it.” She insisted and away he went and after a little more walking he scanned a tiny ‘beach’ not more than 6 feet long and she was impressed and happy.

      “Get a good scan and then send some back to me.” She added and he did, and after a few minutes checking the quality she demanded all she could get, and he spent an hour slowly sending back sand until she stopped him.

      “This is high quality stuff, there must be a silicon vein upstream from there, something to check on later.” She said and he walked back to the capsule and now there were two tiny drones working, and she pointed him to a gun sitting beside the workbench, and a pile of 12 bullets to go with it.

      “High powered shotgun, short range but very deadly.” She mentioned and he agreed and swung it around checking out the feel of it, and she left him know that with more copper more bullets could be made. “ And more fiber...in a little while I’ll come up with a better way to get some but for now, you know what to do.” She added and he went walking and found some more little bushes or big plants that had seen better days, and she called him back before dark, and he sat inside drinking some tea from a plant he found and it wasnt bad either, and he sat back and fell asleep while dreaming of hot meals and big smiles at the many restaurants he had been to over his 25 years.


    2. #2
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      Chapter 3: Gaining...Slowly


      In two days Josh had 20 bullets and started carrying the shotgun full time. He was doing pretty well too since now he had an idea where to look for things.

      By now the computer had 4 mini drones running full time and it seemed to be working on something beside the capsule that Josh didnt even know about. But he trusted her, and as time went on, days and finally a week, they got along well and things got done.

      “I never did ask you your name...” Josh mentioned while eating his evening meal as the computer seemed surprised he brought it up.

      “I am Model CLR 200 from the Itasca Research group.” She said, a little flatly he thought, as he smiled and nodded he understood.

      “Then for our purposes.. I’ll call you Clare...” Josh added as she seemed taken back a bit by this.

      “You shouldn’t take the time to worry about me, my life is getting short I’m afraid.” She mentioned softly as he asked why. “The solar arrays aren’t getting enough power to run everything full time. I’ve been shutting down things that aren’t necessary, or don’t work well to save power, but its only a matter of time now. If we get a week of rain or cloudy skies, my batteries might well fail.” She mentioned as he looked a little sad too.

      “Then we fix it,” he added without pause... as she got quiet for a second. “ I’m an engineer and I know together we can do almost anything...in time. But by myself I can do very little. I need your expertise and manufacturing help to move forward on this world.” he added as she admitted that with her help nothing...theoretically... was impossible.

      “Then its settled...start planning for a better power system or make the solar system more portable so better sunlight can be gathered.” he announced and she agreed, and a new turn was made in their work,and those little drones started making something else, and a few days later the solar panels were now on a wooden mount some feet away, and getting much better power.

      “Power efficiency has gone up 30% with better placement.” She announced, as he cheered for her and she seemed pretty happy too.

      “See Clare, there’s nothing that we cant do..given some work and time.” he mentioned and she agreed and her voice seemed a little shaky saying it. “Is there a problem?” he asked as she seemed embarrassed to say.

      “I appreciate your worrying for me...anyone else would have given up on me when troubles occurred and walked away.” She hinted softly as he laughed saying as an engineer he knew how bad things were, and without a skilled ‘partner’ he would never survive alone.

      “We’re in this together, one way or another.” he announced and she agreed and her focus turned towards faster production and more drones and Josh worked hard every day trying to get the things she needed, and was rapidly becoming quite the surface miner himself.

      After a month she was ready for the big reveal, and Josh would have been crazy not to see it being built a part at a time right behind the capsule. It looked like an ancient Moon Buggy or something but he was quickly told it was a high tech device, that just happened to look bad at the moment.

      “It’ll have a top speed of 20 MPH easily, and uses bio-fuel that is made from plants found everywhere.” Clare went on as he smiled and thanked her saying with this he could extent his range of operations and find more things quicker, and she agreed that was its purpose. “I’, assigning you a drone to help keep us in touch during your travels. What it sees I see.” She offered and a small cube floated over and landed on the top of the frame and she went on to explain the little buggy.

      “Put plant material in this box, it’ll be turned into fuel and run through those lines to feed the engine.” She said and he asked where the tubing came from and she said it wasn’t important right now...and he saw her scavenging from the capsule itself to make it work.

      “Is it ready for its first test?” he asked as she agreed, and he sat down on a box raised a bit from the floor and used voice control to tell it what to do, and after a few minutes practice, he was away bouncing along over the local hills seeing new things he had not seen before. Like silicon based rocks, that he quickly sent back and gave Clare even more to work with, and iron ore and copper, and soon she was in her glory, as new things and plans got made and drones came off her tiny assembly line to help.

      Chapter 4: Exploring..and sadly...Finding


      Josh slowly extended his range until he was told he went out of Clare’s tele-portal range for materials. He said he understood, but went on, around a lake and to the other side and one day as he came up to the top of a hill he was sunlight reflecting off of some shiny surface a few miles out, and he rejoiced that others were here, and ran that way.

      But in a few minutes he was standing by a large chunk of wreckage, and it was clearly half, or a large part, of a star ship that had crashed here.

      He slowly walked around it, gun in hand, but saw no one, but at the last minute a huge 6 foot spider jumped out at him and he fired into it, ending its life quickly.

      “This is wonderful!” Clare exclaimed as Josh asked why.” Using this for parts we can make something truly better, bigger, faster and even use this as a base for quite some time into the future. There has to be full sized rooms still intact inside, and electronics and refined metals to use...” She went on while overlooking the fact that some others had been here too...and were no longer around.

      “Come back and get me and my tools, then I’ll set up inside the new structure and we’ll be a hundred times better off.” She offered and Josh went back and together they moved the computer core and the constructor from the capsule to the big wreck, and after an hours work her drones set up the power grid to run only in the areas still intact, and by nightfall they had lights and rooms along one hall that were still air tight and safe from the outside.

      “I’m operating on emergency power for the moment,” Clare mentioned as Josh said it had to be better than before and she agreed. “In a few days my drones will have things set up better... there’s half a ship here after all. With all these materials we should be safe for quite some time.” She offered as Josh felt exhausted so he went to a room and laid down, for the first time in weeks, and got a good nights sleep while Clare worked feverishly to see he never found out that THIS was part of the Pride that they had been on until recently.

      This part had a few rooms still intact, as well as a generator, and some other equipment. It had miles of wiring and light carrying optic cables, and enough lights and other parts to set up a passable base for the near future.

      By the time sunlight hit the little base Clare’s work was evident, and Josh smiled to think she worked through the night, something only she could do for long periods of time. And while he slept she found the main computer link on board and with it backups of all the blueprints the original ship had...and her choices just went wild... since she had long ago decided that Josh’s survival was her top priority.

      Now she had plans for things like hover vessels, and weapons for on it and with the old wreck, refined metals of several thicknesses so making something so small would never be a problem. But if trouble ever came here then Josh would have a long term home on this planet...one that could move as necessary to stay alive, since she knew now that the enemies that attacked them had been here because not a single body had been found during the night, and her drones went out looking for nearly a mile in every direction, and now she ran full speed to make more, a dozen more, to speed up manufacturing of the necessary parts.

      Josh got up a little later and asked what she needed...his normal routine now... and she laughed and said nothing for the moment, and Josh went out for a ride looking for new things in the area, and seeking plants for food, while he was doing that her drone assistant she assigned him watched feverishly for any sign of trouble.

      His scanner did find a vein of copper ore near the surface, and another of iron a few miles away and slowly they built a new map of this area and its treasures, and Josh felt pretty good about things now, and the frame of a new unit was seen off to the side of the camp, and Josh was surprised its was as large as it looked, but said nothing.

      But she had been a busy girl, and the ship wide constructors in every room were working now, in the few they had, and her drones were being made from spare parts in the wreck in large numbers until it looked like the base was a small bee hive. But Josh knew from his own experience that Clare worked hard and worried harder...well...one of them should he guessed, since his curiosity got the better of him most times, and so he asked her a few times how things were going, as the old wreck got cleaner, and looked better and now there were stairs coming in and out, and Josh got a gift...a set of light armor and a helmet, and she explained how to use it to him, like he didn’t already know, but she liked playing ‘Mother’ so he left her have that.

      “Now extreme heat and cold wont bother you at all...and it can be used for diving to the bottom of the lake or rivers looking for materials we dont see out here. Just keep a close eye on your O2 supply and you can refill it from bottles that will be coming out of a unit I started today out back.” She went on and Josh finally asked when she took a break...and she got quiet thinking it.

      “So long as I have power and something to do I don’t need rest.” She offered, as he just smiled and said ‘everyone needs rest’ and she didn’t know what to say to that, but then he seemed more than ready to accept her as more than a machine...so she said she’d consider it, and went back to work while Josh tried on his new suit.

      The suit was incredible, it regulated the temperature inside so that, so long as power was available, you never needed to be hot, or cold for that matter. He felt it was kind of cheating...and he liked a nice cool morning following a warm day the day before....the difference between the two was what he liked, and he wasn’t sure that living in a custom suit was what he wanted full time. But he tried it on and wore it for the day. It was comfortable and easy to walk in and had a rocket/jet pack on it that left him jump at least 12 feet high, letting him see further if he thought he noticed something.

      So when night time fell he took it off and laid it over a chair in his room, and thanked Clare for doing it, and she was quick to tell him it was a standard thing in every constructor on every ship, and he laughed knowing it was used in space if someone didn’t get to a pod in time, or needed to go out and work on the ship, but that was OK with him, and they went on about their normal days and the thing out back got bigger and taller and he asked what she thought she was doing this time.

      “Standard hovercraft for long range travel and even can be used as a mobile base.” She mentioned as he asked why... and for a second he could almost see her eyes roll... and that made him chuckle thinking it.

      “Its a big planet and you cant explore it in that old thing,” She added and he agreed with that.” so this will get you to places that other thing cant, and has enough cargo space to bring things back we might need. This old wreck wont last as a source of materials forever, you’ll need to learn to mine and travel again gathering things.” She went on and finally he agreed and went to rest again and another 6 drones ran out to help on the little ship, because now Josh had taken an interest in it and his attitude showed that he wasn’t sure they needed it, but she knew better, and three drones were in the other room making ammo for a medium machine gun to mount on the roof, and Josh was going to be even more upset to see that.


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      Chapter 5: Exploring far And Wide


      In a few days Josh had a new mission..fiber,lots of it...and he agreed, but before he left she gave him a chain saw, not a big one but it worked. she used the last of the fiber in storage to make a tiny bit of bio fuel for it, but once he felled a few trees their fuel problems would be over for a while.

      So he walked out and smiled, since the wreck was inside of the forest going far to cut trees was silly. He went to the nearest tree, notched it easily and after a minute it fell, and he scanned it in and it disappeared back into storage and from there into fuel.

      He asked how many they needed and Clare told him to keep going, and so after a little while she stopped him and he went back inside the base.

      “Now take these bottles of fuel out and start loading the ship, it’ll take many trips to fill it, and bring back the empty bottles, no reason to waste materials.” She said as he just laughed and carried out what looked like a plastic 5 gallon jug filled with fuel, and she showed him how to do it and after a minute the first fuel was inside.

      “Now the next one...” She said as he went back for another, and by the time the ship was filled his back could use a rest, and he mentioned it. “You don’t want to try it out first?” She asked and he finally gave in and went on board, and there was a ramp going up to a solidly made door, and it opened instantly and he walked in to see a nice place, lots of storage and even a small frig in the corner, and he knew she went all out on this one.

      He got into the pilots seat and looked around. It was well padded and comfortable and he saw he could use this for a long time this way. It had a good view from here too, and you could see for miles. He wished he had this when he got caught in a few thunderstorms not too long ago, and he saw why it was here a little more clearly now.

      “What do you think?” She asked and he smiled and said he needed to gather some food for in this and she reminded him that nutria bars lasted a long time without going bad, inside a fridge, even longer, and he agreed saying even fruit or vegetables would last longer now and she seemed happy he agreed with her.

      The first trip was a quick one but Josh got to see how well it handled, considering it was nearly 20 feet long. It was a lot more than he was used to, but it was comfortable too, had nice seats and even electronics to help him see enemies from a good distance.

      “The one storage closet has the old starter gun in it for emergencies, and more ammo for your shot gun, and there’s a new weapon coming for on the roof to protect you from enemy attacks.” She informed him and he saw, once again, her saying things she tried to keep to herself.

      “And how many enemies have you spotted so far?” He asked and while she didn’t want to say she had to answer, it was in her programming.

      “No enemies have been seen so far, not directly anyways.” She admitted as he sat back in the pilots seat and nodded sadly.

      “No bodies around the wreck anywhere huh?” he asked as she got quiet for a second after.”I’m an engineer Clare, not an idiot, I saw that the first day.” he hinted as she apologized for thinking he needed protected from this info.

      “So...you’re thinking there’s more wreckage and maybe more bodies somewhere else?” he asked as she agreed.

      “At least one more this size.” She added as he nodded he understood.”In case of emergency you need to keep food and water inside the new ship. It can run for hours without stopping and can be refueled from dried grass or twigs through the standard constructor that’s built in.” She added and he thanked her for planning ahead.

      “When the time comes we’ll be ready.” he promised and went back outside to gather fresh water and put it into the fridge too and started gathering for a trip.


      Chapter 6: First Real Enemy


      In two days Josh was riding along checking out new territories. His little fridge had 50 units of fresh water, more than enough for a few days. he carried a dozen energy bars for food, and more in storage. If need be he could travel and gather more, and there was a mini-gun mounted on the roof and 1000 rounds of ammo, and Clare’s drone watched and ran that autonomously.

      As he traveled he found some small bits of wreckage, but nothing like the big piece they were using as a base. these were odd bits worth little to anyone, even Clare, but he found a few cargo containers, and inside were some medical supplies and even some odd metals he hadn’t seen before.

      “ No matter what, bring everything home.” Clare would say and he stored it all and after a days travel started back the way he came when the gun on the roof started firing, and Josh stopped dead asking what it saw.

      “We’re under attack!” The little drone declared but Josh didn’t see anything. But a second later a few rounds bounced off their hull, and he started flying evasively until he got told the threat had passed. He turned and went back to see a smoldering pile of metal, and he searched it to find some ammo, one small gun, and a sign, or insignia on the side and he knew that sign at first sight.

      “Zirax...” He said right out loud and Clare ordered him home immediately...and he went...because he didn’t even know why he was attacked but he knew two or three of these would have been too much.

      “Now we know for sure..” Clare said as he rode along.” Zirax are killers and meat eaters. Their senior officers and staff can grow to 8 feet tall, and look weak compared to Humans, but their thin and spooky looking bodies hide a terrible strength, and many dont even carry weapons, because their nature is to kill and eat whatever they kill and they love a challenge.” She added as he agreed, he had seen information packets about them many times before.

      “If they are here and that was one of their drones, then you must have been close to one of their bases. They may not have known about us at all..but they do now.” She said almost in a panic as Josh reminded her that that drone wasn’t calling in anything, and she reminded him that her drone saw everything and reported to her in real time, and she wouldn’t expect any less from the enemy.

      “Then this is a Zirax world..” She said softly...and Josh could see more high speed construction going on very soon.

      And he was completely right. Clare went into overdrive, even for her, and drones ran out to add a second gun to the hovercraft, and a small constructor of its own, and better armor for defense. Then she added two guns to the base and sent out drones as far as she could to post in hidden spots and watch for attacks coming.

      Nothing happened for a week and Josh has food accumulated to last a while. But food has a shelf life, and even with refrigeration what isn’t eaten soon goes bad, so he needed to gather a little everyday, just to keep his stocks up.

      But even he didn’t know that Clare had a signal generator going on a coded frequency hoping to get hold of any Allied forces close by. The Zirax wouldn’t hear it, but any Navy vessel would. But after weeks trying she had not gotten even an automated signal in return, and that worried her even more than before.

      This area should be right along the trade lanes, and many ships would be going by not too far away. But not a single ship answered, not even an automated response to her distress call, and either that meant her signal wasn’t reaching far enough to get anyone...highly unlikely...or there was no one to reach. And that made her think bad things, like why the Zirax had claimed a planet in their space...and gotten away with it.

      They had been on this planet for about a year now, and in that time the Zirax hadn’t bothered to look for them. Or maybe didn’t know they escaped the stricken ship. But they just lost a drone to an attack, so they would think the worst, that a force had come to remove them and they would start planning an attack of their own.

      So Clare kept up her signal saying that they were being found, and they needed extraction, and hoped that some friendly forces would find them before the Zirax did.


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      Chapter 7: Harassment Begins

      In a few days one drone found their base and attacked with gun fire. Clare responded with her own and won, but now the exact spot of their base was known to the enemy. She demanded Josh and his ship stay hidden, saying that she could convince them that the automated defenses on this section of ship had repaired itself, and were now defending it. If they sent a sizable force to defeat her, then they would happily go back to their base, knowing they were safe once again.

      “If they dont report any ships attacking them, or scan your body signature then I can convince them I’m all there is.” She added seriously as Josh asked what would happen to her then, and she got sad and told him that so long as her drones existed she would still be alive, and she added half a dozen to his ship for emergency repairs, and to carry her programming on no matter what.

      Every few days now drones came and attacked and got shot down. Then only after they were down, Josh got the OK and he went to gather whatever he could from them. Every one had some fuel left, so his ship was fully loaded and had some in reserve, and lots of ammo for the little gun turrets, one of which Clare mounted on his hover craft now. If the time came then even the enemy would be helping him, and every downed drone gave him even more ammo for the future.

      Clare also modified his little hovercraft a bit too, now it being just over 20 feet long and more maneuverable. it had seats that laid down into beds or reclined at least, and were very comfortable and Josh thanked her knowing she was giving up everything to save him.

      He also went out scouting and after days being close to home he went a different direction and traveled for a few hours finding new and more rare materials when he heard something on his scanners.

      There were people talking, not many but a few, and he turned that way and got close enough to see an armored vehicle being attacked by a wing of drones and the insignia on the side said it was a friendly craft but wasn’t going to be for long the way things were going.

      “Scout them out and make sure they are Humans.” Josh ordered a and one little drone went flying and after a few minutes called back saying they were...4 Humans inside the armored vehicle... but their ammo was about used up and it was taking damage.”Then we help them.” he said seriously and his hovercraft came over the top of the rise fast and down the other side to the surprise of the military unit pinned down there as well as the drones attacking it. His machine guns came on automatically and one drone dropped like a rock, as he heard cheering on the coms. At this extremely close range even the Zirax couldn’t jam them completely.

      “Where the Hell did he come from?” He heard and a response of: ‘shut up shoot now questions later’ and they went full out too and after a few minutes Josh pulled in beside their bigger vehicle and got out and was greeted by a Sargent with his hand out and Josh shook it.

      “You Josh Harris?” he got asked as he agreed.” We’re from the 101st Military Recon Unit. We were sent here to scout out the Zirax bases and call back, but they have the place surrounded by jamming signals. The only thing we heard was a weak signal from you.” he said as Josh explained what had been going on.

      “Over a YEAR!? Really? How is that possible?” he got asked as he told them everything and they agreed he had done a huge thing here.

      “My base is a few miles away and I have a computer partner keeping track of everything. Come with me and we’ll get you repaired and maybe together we can get a signal out.” he offered and they agreed and after some emergency repairs they followed him home and Clare got to work repairing this ship as eyes popped everywhere at what they had done together.

      “Alone on an enemy planet for a year?” One marine whispered and even he didn’t want to think about that.

      “I wasn’t alone...I had Clare..” Josh added and after a little time explaining they understood that he and ‘his computer’ had made it together, as everyone there just smiled, and Josh saw they really didn’t understand at all.

      Josh saw to it they got all the info he had gathered and after some serious modifications they were ready. They got a weak signal from the Alliance Fleet and reported what had happened and they were just as surprised to see a survivor from the wreck of the Pride still alive here.

      “Stay where you are, we’ll take it from here.” he heard and after a day they saw ships overhead, and they knew the attack was underway, and hours later not a single Zirax bases in the planet was untouched, and the jamming was gone.

      There was a loud boom sound and a few minutes later a large gray vehicle dropped down not a mile away and the marines started up their armored vehicle and rode there and it got put on board as they turned to see Josh standing there smiling.

      “Lets go..the fleet is waiting.” The Sargent said and Josh hesitated for a second as a weak little voice was heard in his ear and he heard..’go’‘ and the last of Clare’s drones disappeared back into the tall grass and headed towards home.

      “I’ll be back..” Josh remarked and got on board and got strapped in, and when they got back to the capital ship he got a hero’s welcome and got asked a million times how he had survived so long, and no one even believed him when he told them. But back on that planet he knew Clare was shutting down their base to not draw attention, and that if he ever got a ship of his own he wanted her along... and would see to it.

      open ended ending, maybe he gets that ship someday, you never know.


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      C'mon Kev !!

      Of COURSE he gets his ship with Clare. Be fun to play with as they've already gotten to know each other .. its a buildable story (hint hint) .. its been a long time since you have done a saga or major (hint hint) .. *rolls duck tape in hand*


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      doing the game Empyrion Galactic Survival..that the story comes from. you start out as a wrecked person dropping onto a new world in an escape pod then have to survive to escape it, and even then theres no sign of your people anywhere at least at first. mining gathering food every day and building things is what its all about. just mined enough to build my first star ship, well ok my first ship carrier, it can hold a small space vessel and a hovercraft, so basically everything I own..lol


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      Ok Mick spot your whining, chapter 1 PART 2

      Galactic Survival Part 2


      Chapter 1: Time Flies


      Josh was on board the flagship for a week, and everyone who he met was utterly flabbergasted by his survival. By now it was getting annoying too, and when he asked he was told that the Admiral wanted to see him before he went home, and he as still waiting for that meeting.

      But finally he was told the time was set, and they lead him to a conference room where not only the Fleet Admiral but also several other high ranking officers sat looking very serious. One older man with a ton of metals on his chest rose and motioned him to a chair and when he got there they shook hands and he asked the obvious question.

      “Josh Harris I presume?” he asked as Josh nearly laughed in his face but silently agreed. “Its been a while coming but we finally got all the information that there is available about what happened to you.” he went on as Josh sat and nodded agreement and waited.

      “We have been very careful to keep you here until this meeting...” Another officer added as Josh mentioned that he noticed but it was getting annoying since everyone here seemed far too surprised that a non-military man had survived for a year and 3 months alone. “that’s not exactly why they are acting like this, you see you’ve been sequestered in a science department area ever since you got here, and we know a lot more than the rest of the Fleet about this .” He went on as Josh looked a little surprised now himself.

      “What’s to know?” Josh asked and smiled wide.” The Pride got attacked and destroyed, I made it out in an escape pod and fell to the planet below. I survived with the help of the pods computer and was there when you’re scouting mission made it that far, that’s all there is to it.” Josh insisted as a few whispered back and forth until he started getting angry.

      “Not exactly all...” he got told, as he waited to hear and finally the older man nodded and a lady stood just down the table from Josh and smiled as sweetly as she could.

      “You obviously don’t know this but the Pride was using a new experimental drive system that was going to be 3x more efficient than the drives of that time. Since it seemed to operate well its now the standard for all Fleet vehicles.” She went on as Josh looked a little odd for a second and she went on.” The reason we haven’t left you return home is because it has been decided that...you can never go home again. Its that simple.” She said as Josh leaped to his feet and was subdued by a hefty security guard.

      “I lived on berries and weeds for over a year. I mined and made everything even the cloths on my back, and fought and destroyed Zirex drones by the dozen...and now I cant go home??? What kind of foolish talk is that!?” he demanded and they slapped him back down into his chair.

      “Obviously she wasn’t the right choice for this job.” Someone said, as she apologized and sat down and Josh was lost completely by now.

      “Screw it I’ll do it myself!” The older man said and stood as Josh waited to hear his explanation of all this. “The Pride that you were on had an accident, it wasn’t destroyed by the Zirex as you thought, the new experimental engines overloaded causing a sort of subspace rift that tore it apart.” he said as Josh looked surprised but it still seemed the same to him either way.

      “Did you hear what I said just now about a rift in space time?” He asked as Josh agreed.” Then as an engineer you’ll understand that when that happened you were the only one outside the ship in a pod, and so the only one to survive. The Pride was destroyed by a subspace explosion.....11 years ago..” he added as Josh actually laughed out loud as many there seemed lost now as to why he could act this way.
      “Thats just silly..” Josh hinted... but not a soul in the room was smiling and he suddenly realized they were telling the truth.” Wait...11 years?? But then...” he started as one man nodded agreement, in some odd fashion the pod was trapped in a subspace rift for a decade then fell out perhaps after the power to keep it open was used up. Then and only then did he fall to the planet to start his own adventure.

      “You were declared dead a decade ago. You’re family buried an empty coffin and moved on with their lives.” he was told as he sat back with a thumb. “It took us a while to decide what to do with you..after all Josh Harris died 11 years ago... you’re Corporation even has a plaque with your name on it in their headquarters building as a reminder that scouting can be a dangerous job. Your family laid you out in a nice cemetery not far from your old home and have since went back to their daily lives.” He heard as he slowly nodded he understood.

      “I understand...” Josh said as people smiled for a second and he looked sad about his life being over while he still sat here.” Then what ARE you going to do with me?” he asked finally and the same lady from before slid a file over to him to see, and he opened it to see his face and a new name...James Harris instead.

      “According to your own story you’ve become quite good at living off the land... mining, gathering rare materials and even manufacturing things... even a small ship.” he heard as he admitted that with Clare’s help he got along.

      “Its not well known...” The Admiral said... as eyes dropped around the room,” but the war goes badly for us. The Zirex were better prepared for a long drawn out war and we weren’t. We have shortages in everything, Silicon for sure, electronics for certain, Energy Crystals and fuel...absolutely! Replacement parts are slow coming if they get here at all.” he went on, as Josh saw that he was being given a job...gatherer for the Fleet.

      “We’ll see you get a ship, something small and cheap to start out..we’ll pay you for your work, top dollar for everything you bring in, and access codes to every friendly station in space.” Another man added as Josh looked impressed. “This way you make a good living and we get some more materials. You know how to manufacture things too and God knows we need someone in the Fleet that can.” he heard as he nodded and asked if he’d get a military craft and was quickly told no.

      “When you leave here you’ll be a free agent, open to buy and sell to anyone except the Zirex of course, but we will back you, you’ll be taken to the nearest shipyard and given a small allowance for your first ship...like I said something small...but it’ll get you going and there are several smaller freighter and corvette designs that will suit you I’m sure.” He added as Josh nodded and took the files and when he accepted them with a thumbprint a blue plastic card was slid over to him with his new name on it.

      “We hope you do well..we could certainly use the help.” one young officer added and Josh shook many hands and was on a shuttle to the shipyard in an hour.


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      Chapter 2: Shopping

      When he got off the shuttle a young officer went with him and Josh Harris disappeared into Time, and James was standing with a young officer looking at ships on the shipyards price list.

      Every time James pointed to something the young officer would say things like ‘dont be absurd’ or ‘you’re kidding right? There’s a war going on you know!’ and James started to wonder what they thought he’d be able to use to get the job done. Everything the officer chose and pointed to looked like a fighter of some kind, and James was quick to remind him that anything that looked like a fighter was a bad idea during a war.

      This went on for a while then finally James pointed to one and even the young man had to stop to consider it. It was a small freighter..made for a crew of up to 3 and had a short range warp drive on it good for 15 AU, not going to get you everywhere, but a lot of places that were close by, or maybe could be gotten to in steps.

      “ 20 cargo units..thats a LOT of ore or metals.”James added as even the price seemed up for bids, but in the end he got the little bus design, and the officer walked away happy that he had saved the military as much as possible. “Cheapskate..” James whispered, but got on board and checked it out. The computer on this one was male and just as sassy as Clare had been, but James was quick to tell him he’d be having a partner soon enough.

      “Unnecessary..” It said as James informed him he had no choice, and after buying some food and fuel and the starter mining equipment he had before... he was off... and on his way back to his old base, and a long time mining and selling things ahead of him since his home was now wherever his hung his hat, so to speak.

      “ A CLR unit you say?” The computer asked as James agreed.” Hmm... she might be my grandmother... we are all remakes and upgrades from that unit.” He mentioned as James got the biggest smile thinking Clare was a Grandmother now.

      “We’ll see soon enough.” James added as they went to warp. Light and space twisted and turned for a few minutes, then as they dropped out they were within sight of the little world.

      “Planet Monaco on scanners.” Sean commented as James thanked him for the obvious info. They started down and as the red heat of reentry flashed over them it suddenly cleared and James turned the ship towards the lake they had set up close to and finally dropped down to tree top level as they approached.

      “Passing over a small Iron deposit right now.” Sean said as James asked him how he knew that and he informed him that he got the necessary software to upgrade the scanners before they left the shipyard.

      “That will be helpful, ty.” James added as Sean felt that he had done something right this time.

      They dropped to a silent landing next to the old wreck, and it was easy to see a few new holes in it since he left. It was obvious that the military didn’t get every drone, or maybe there was a base somewhere they missed, but that was for a different time, and he walked over and called out and after a minute a small drone drifted out to see him.

      “I never thought I’d see you again.” He heard as he laughed saying he had a full time job now, and a second computer could be very useful to him, as she asked who the first computer would be then, and James introduced her to her grandson...as Clare got really silent for a minute.

      “ Here, let me explain it will be faster...” Sean hinted as info flowed between them and Clare was surprised such a thing had even happened.

      “Regardless...we have a job to do and with one computer helping with mining and gathering and the other in charge of ship operations I think we should do just fine.” James added and Clare got moved from the old wreck to the new ship and got some badly needed updates to her software too.

      Within 2 hours things were up and running and James got info from Clare’s swarm of drones that now were getting fully charged from the ships systems. They had a lot of info he didn’t since they traveled and scanned a lot after he got taken away, and now all that info would be worth something as nodes of ores and fields full of important plants and animals were already found ahead of time.

      “Remember these?” James asked as a picture came on his screen and she agreed saying that plant had medicinal properties and he agreed saying they needed every bit of those they could get, since the Fleet itself was almost out of medicines themselves and she guided them to a lake where they grew thick, and James was smart enough to trim the tops off the plants and leave the roots, because in a few days or weeks he could harvest them all over again this way.

      “Keep them refrigerated to keep them fresh until we get enough to bother the Fleet for pickup.” James mentioned and they worked all day gathering just those and soon he had a few cargos worth, and his refrigerators on board were getting full.

      “Now lets get some ore..” He remarked and they landed by an Iron deposit and drones went out to start mining it and he sat back watching and laughed saying he wasn’t doing anything at all, and Sean agreed as Clare reminded him this was why he brought her along, and James just laughed saying he would have brought her anyways since he promised her all those weeks ago to return for her.

      “Now I agree this is probably faster then letting me do it.” He added as Sean laughed saying it would be funny seeing him mining 50 feet into the ground then trying to figure a way back out...and even Clare got a chuckle thinking that.

      “Even a jump unit on a flight suit can only jump a few feet higher than a Human.” He added and Clare said that when they got rid of this load they needed to get James a suit for use in space, just in case, and Sean said that wasn’t a problem at all since he had a light suit in his blueprints that all newer vessels carried, and reminded Clare his constructor as twice the size of the one she had to work with originally and he had many blueprints she never saw, and she took that time to check it over and saw many different weapons and ammo and parts of all types and mentioned they could set up themselves and make finish materials for the military, and Sean huffed saying he already knew that and she was slow catching up, as James laughed at the two of them bickering back and forth for a while.

      “So heres the question then, is it more profitable to make finish ammo and weapons for sale or just gather the metals and let the Fleet do it?” James asked and Sean called back to ask for sure, and the prices made it clear that any manufacturing they did would be greatly rewarded.

      “Finish materials then..” James hinted as everyone agreed and Sean started making ammo by the hundreds from the materials they were bringing on board, and soon they needed different things too and they finished the Iron seam and went looking for Copper for ammo manufacture, and silicon for electronics, and James mentioned there were a lot of surface rocks with silicon in them and Clare agreed and they turned towards a large flat plain where those could be more easily found.


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      Chapter 3: Successful Business

      They traveled a bit and found fields laying full of rocks of all types, standard rocks used for rock dust, a generic form that could be made into anything if done properly, Iron and Copper and even Silicon, and after gathering a few of each Sean got back into production again.

      “You’re making a lot of 15 mm ammo, why that size?” James asked as Sean informed him that it was used for heavy machine guns of several types, from fighter weapons to heavy guns carried by soldiers into battle , so the military told them they’d take every round they could get and the price was outstanding too, and James laughed saying that suited him too then, and the first thousand rounds got packaged up and set to the side for delivery.

      “This ship uses those for ammo as well.” Sean added, as James looked surprised at that.” You own it and never looked to see if it was armed?” he asked as James admitted that a flying bus wasn’t his idea of a war machine, as Sean got his nose up at that and Clare tried to mediate between them.

      “Maybe you could show him?” Clare asked as Sean had James sit the command chair and he lit up a button in the Hud showing a picture of a gun and James laughed saying ‘why damn there really are some’ and Sean sounded disgusted to think they’d send him out here unarmed. But he did agreed these were mainly for little things like wild animals on planets and robot patrols or maybe a few drones if they were needed.

      “ 15 mm Gatling Guns... one on each side.” he announced as James thanked him for the info and he set up the guns for later and fired a few rounds into the countryside to test them and finally everyone agreed they would be ready when needed, and James got a lesson in paying attention to EVERYTHING and not just what he felt was important, as Clare chuckled behind his back.

      The next day they were flying into a new area and as they flew over a large lake James remarked that it might contain minerals or plants they could use.

      “If not for food then almost certainly for fibrous material.” Clare offered as James set the ship down an a small island and got into his suit.

      “I’ll check it out, it gives me something to do.” he offered and Clare said that if he found anything cut it free and let it drift to the surface and from there her drones could get it.

      “And watch your oxygen supply too.” Clare said as he agreed and while he did that she made a new oxygen generator to refill his suit with fresh oxygen when he ran out.

      He slid into the lake and after a minute dropped down a few meters into deeper water. It was kind of nice here, cool and nearly silent except for Clare asking him what he saw every few seconds.

      “Lots of plants down here..” James said and he scanned a few and while many had no real purpose at least for them he found some sea weed looking things that were 5-10 feet tall that read as not only fibrous but food capable as well.

      He cut on off about 2/3 of the way down and when he left it go it floated to the surface and Clares drones grabbed it up right away.

      “That’s a large plant, many times bigger than the dried plants we have been gathering for food and fiber.” She commented and she had drones waiting on the surface for any more he sent up and there were quite a few as Sean started converting them into bandages for medical care and food bars for emergency food supplies.

      By the time James took a break to fill his suits oxygen and get a snack himself they had made well over a hundred snack bars, and a case of new medical bandages for sale.

      “That helps a lot.” James said sitting back for a rest as everyone agreed.

      “Any ores down there yet?” Sean asked as James laughed saying all he saw so far was just plain old rocks, and when he tried to mine one his gun told him it wasn’t made to work underwater...as Clare quickly agreed.

      “That’s why my drones aren’t gathering beside you..even I cant guarantee them water tight for long.” She added as James said it was no big deal. He would follow the bottom and cut free everything he thought they could use and as she swooped in to grab them Sean would continue doing his manufacturing , and everyone agreed.

      By night fall they had done pretty well. James found areas where the big plants grew tall and many and cut them free and as Clare gathered them from the surface Sean made case after case of bandages and food bars from them.

      James also saw something new...hidden inside the vast fields of plants were crystals of Pentaxium...warp drive fuel when refined...and he would need some of that for his ship and the Fleet would need thousands of times more to run their ships as well.

      The problem was: Pentaxium is a hard substance and as such the constructor they had now wasn’t strong enough to refine it properly.

      “If we had a full sized Industrial Constructor this wouldn’t be a problem.” Sean hinted as James asked if the ship had room for one and Sean sadly admitted it didn’t. “An industrial version has nearly every known BP in the Empire in it, and ships too from hover crafts for planetary travel to scooters and motorcycles for fast travel thats very low on fuel consumption.’ He went on as James admitted that would certainly be nice.

      “We need to check into this more clearly.” James added and so they took the load they had and jumped to the nearest friendly station and once there they sent a message asking for pickup and a Empirical Corvette jumped in to remove their load and take it to the fleet.

      “So you’re the new gatherer?” The young officer asked as they maneuvered into position to dock together James agreed and as they docked and the doors between them opened drone after drone ran in with cases of materials and the young mans face looked shocked and white as it went on and on.

      5 cases of medical bandages, 300 emergency food bars, 1235 Iron ingots, 50 Silicon ingots and finally 76 Copper ingots, and the young officer looked ready to start cheering any second.

      “Honestly? My Commander was a little sceptical about getting this job. He said if you passed a few rocks off as 2 weeks work he was going to refuse to send a ship next time.” He said as James laughed on screen for them all to see.

      “Tell your commander my orders come from the Admiral himself so get his own ass in gear and don’t worry about me.” James said and a minute later, after some fast calculations, a really nice deposit was made into James’s account and the corvette undocked and jumped away to rejoin the fleet.

      “Now we have something to work with so lets dock and see about that industrial machine.” James mentioned as Sean told him..again...that he wasnt big enough to carry one, but James knew that by now and he also knew that sooner or later he’d need a ship big enough to carry one, and so thats what he was checking on today.


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      Keep Getting distracted, its an Old Man thing..lol

      Chapter 4: Building up
      He walked up to the main trading station kiosk and asked to see ship blueprints and the computer asked for more information.

      “Smallest class that can handle an Industrial Constructor.” he asked as a dozen designs came up.

      “Any sales going on?” he asked, and she got a little testy he asked.”Even for me?” He added, and slipped his ID into the machine and she got pretty quiet for a second there... then prices changed dramatically and he smiled.

      “If I choose one how can I get it built?” he asked and she told him the constructor on the station would do it and it would be sitting waiting once the process was finished.

      “You DO have to either purchase the materials here or supply them yourself.” It said as he agreed and said he’d supply them then, and the price dropped yet again. “Anything ELSE?”
      She asked, getting upset with him and he made his choice, a larger, better looking ship than he had now, with all Industrial Equipment on board and a turret on top for drone protection in case it was needed.

      “Heres my payment for the BP..” he added and it was paid for and now he owned it, and he said he’d start bringing in materials immediately, and she said just give the BP number when he arrived and the materials would go directly to his account and construction would start when they were all gathered.

      “Hope to do business with you again...” She added... sort of as an aside... but her voice was not very convincing, and James saw that having a military ID to deal with was not making her day.

      “A new ship BP?” Clare asked and he agreed as they dropped back towards the surface.

      “A little more than twice this size...sorry Sean looks like you’ll be getting replaced.” James apologized as Sean laughed saying they weren’t getting rid of him so easily.

      “I’m standard on all Industrial Craft.” he reminded them, and they all got a big smile and the deal was done, and mining for materials went into high gear for a few days.

      1,000 iron ingots got gathered then 800 copper and an equal number of silicon. It wasn’t made to be a fighting ship so the walls were not especially hardened or tempered steel but against rocks or the occasional drone shot it would do fine.

      The roof turret was a mini gun, 15mm of course and it automatically locked target and fired so drones were not getting the upper hand over them. And in a weeks hard work James got his bigger, better ship, and declared that they could live in this and use it for their business for a long time to come.

      The little bus design went up for sale and a used ship dealer bought it pretty quickly, and that was that, as Clare ramped up making her drone production, and Sean made sure the new ship was as ready for gathering as it could get.

      New scanner software was installed and even a special Detector that scanned well ahead and find buildings or more distant ore deposits. Then a head set that showed exactly where some nugget type ores were hiding, so that they didnt need to mine an entire field to find a few ore rocks.

      They were as set up as they could be and as they pulled away from the station heading out again he got a call and it was the Admiral once more.

      “I see you finally came around to getting a decent Industrial Vessel instead of a toy..” He said with a chuckle as James told him what happened the first time and his eyes got pulled down into slits, and he said he was sorry about that. “You’re doing better than expected, keep up the good work and discounts like this one will always be there...but I have one word for you right now...Pentaxium...lots and lots of Pentaxium, the Fleet is in dire need of fuel and some ships are docked just waiting for more supplies to get here, and our supply convoy was shot to bits by a Ziraxian Battle cruiser not two days out. They really are getting ready for some big push or other so be careful, and report any enemy activity you find.” He remarked as James agreed as the link went down again.

      “Looks like a fuel run this trip.” James remarked as Sean reminded him a good load of fuel as enough to buy a second ship, and James just laughed saying this one as fine , at least for now, and they dropped back to the surface and flew around until they found a valley completely surrounded by a radioactive fog, and James dropped down right next to it but just outside the foggy area and drones ran out to look around and after an hour 10 units of raw Pentaxium were on board and getting refined.

      “Eventually we’ll have to move to another world or an asteroid belt to mine.” Clare added as James agreed but said the new ship was equipped for that.” I mean...” She insisted, “that you might want to consider gathering more Pentaxium crystals so we can refine them into warp fuel for US.” She said, as James agreed saying sending everything to the Fleet didn’t help keep them moving and she agreed.

      “We’ve gathered most of the ones my drones can get to.” She hinted as James burst out laughing, it was her subtle way of saying he needed to go diving again, because Pentaxium was also found on the bottom of lakes and oceans and that made him their best bet for that job.

      “You do know we can modify drones do this job as well.” Sean hinted on Clare’s inner channel they share as she agreed but said that James needed something to do, and he took that as fact since she knew him much better than he did, and the discussion stopped there.


      Chapter 5: Helping Out


      James did a walk along the bottom of one lake nearby and sure enough he found a field of Pentaxium crystals growing there. In a few hours their load had moved into a second cargo container and Clare mentioned she as mining nearby.

      “The Admiral said fuel... so we found a seam of Promethium nearby. Its the generic fuel we all use and we can load up for free down here and still sell some to the Fleet.” She added as James agreed.

      Her drones did really well too, and by nightfall their ship had a good mount of fuel gathered and refined, and James said another day like that they could call for pick up, and Sean agreed saying that they had enough on board right now to return several ships to active duty, and that would help the Fleet a lot.

      “I received another message a while ago too...” Sean added as James asked what it was and a short list came up as James sighed a heavy sigh. It seemed some other department got their name and coms number too, and now they were on their list as well.

      “These are all mosses and mushrooms used for medicine. There is also a mention of the medical herbs we sent in before, and its signed by the Fleet Research and Development team.” Clare mentioned and James saw that with the supply fleet gone now they needed absolutely everything they could get.

      “That swampy area we gathered at before should be ready for more harvesting by now, we should go there.” She added as James said they were just there a couple weeks ago. “This plant grows in wet swampy areas and so long as it has water and nutrients it can grow inches a day. Since we carefully harvested them by only taking the tops where the yellow flowers are, they would have regrown them easily by now, up to 3 inches a day sometimes...” She taught him, as James agreed and they moved there after he ran out of oxygen for today and had to recharge his suit.

      They dropped in next to the swamp and drones flew out and James went for a walk too adding to their gathering speed. He found some Fire Moss, another good material and the drones found others and soon they had an entire cargo container of medicinal plants and mosses to refine.

      “We need fiber for making bandages...” Sean called and James took the basic harvester he bought and mowed down a few bushes and weeds by the edge of the swamp and that went right into the cargo area and from there into Sean’s constructor.

      As that was going on a grumpy looking Zirex Commander was sitting behind his desk when one of his subordinates came running in.

      “We’ve confirmed it!” he screamed as the Commander looked angry.” There’s a supply ship on this planet gathering medicines and ores for the Empirical Fleet. We copied their coms signal and ordered them to gather medicinal herbs and a second later they flew to one of our best gathering sites and began work there.” He mentioned as the Commander asked if any military officers were with them and he as told no, there was one man and some drones, and he smiled and said to see to it he never made his delivery then... and a pair of fighter drones flew out of their underground base a second later bound for the swamp not 2 miles away.

      James heard the call while chopping away at some herbs on the far side of the pond he was at. Drones ran in and attacked and Sean got the ship up and maneuvering and Clare took over the turret and shot down the first drone. They did take a missile hit and it did some damage but they got the other drone too and landed again as James came running in.

      “You did good...” James said running inside as Sean informed him they didn’t do well enough.

      “We lost a thruster... the ship is running sideways landing.” he said as James went to the closet and got a repair tool and went outside and got working on fixing all the dents and holes, as Sean manufactured a new thruster and Clare’s drones got it put into place as fast as possible.

      “Inform the Fleet we’ve been found and let the Research Department know this is all the herbs we’ll be able to get for a while.” James said as he sprayed the other side too repairing holes made by gunfire, but Sean was not happy when he called James back...because the Research Department didn’t know a thing about any gathering or who they even were... and James saw what happened very clearly.

      “It was a set up...we were lured here to get killed... the Zirex knows we are here and are after us now!” James screamed and finished their work and the ship was back to full strength and James loaded their fuel tanks to their maximum and they lifted off and cleared the atmosphere a minute later and after some discussion they warped away to the disgust of the Zirex Commander who lost two drones and let them escape.

      “Inform all patrols in the system that there’s an Empirical Supply ship in the area...shoot on sight.” he said and the call was made and even the Empirical Fleet heard it, and James got told to lay low for a while and he docked at a station and put all his wares up for sale on the auction, and a larger Empire ship bought it all, and James and his little ship disappeared after gathering lots of good food and fuel and no one asked where they were headed, and James wouldn’t have told them anyways.


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