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    Thread: Project New Earth

    1. #1
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Cool Project New Earth

      (PROJECT NEW EARTH... TOP SECRET... YOUR EYES ONLY)

      Introduction:

      In every Age there are those that seem to be there for some reason. In an Age of combat it might be some great General, or in an Age of Science some great scholar. But even when people feel they are doing their best, things can get out of hand. And when greed and selfishness rules a certain group with too much power, then bad things even on a planetary scale, can occur.

      When there is pressure to do great things, then someone needs to make decisions that effect the entire group, no matter how large it might be. So when a mistake is made, it can quickly become something that cant be stopped or forgotten in a single lifetime.

      And when one group with serious needs finds another with greedy intent, it seems the Universe itself takes their side, for better or for worse.



      Chapter 1: The Reason

      General George Cummings was coming in today for one of those meetings. It wasn’t just a meeting, but one of THOSE meetings, he hated having to deal with scientists, and they made him feel like a simple soldier. Something he had never been or wanted to be. He could arm a nuclear device or set coordinates for an air strike in his head, but these people made him look stupid, and he hated dealing with them.

      They were the top tier, the alien watchers, and he didn’t even like their whole idea. If we wanted to deal with those creatures we could do it right out front, but NOOO, the President had special commissions, and special science panels, and on and on… and he was so sick of it... but it was his job as the military advisor to talk with them from time to time. True, they did get them stealth technology, but we would have figured it out ourselves, eventually, and microwave energy, used in every home, and in many secret installations doing what it was REALLY meant to do. So he always held his breath and hoped it was one of the good times he was seeing them. Something new we could actually use, but not just to flex their brain power and make him feel small. He swears someday he’s going to punch one of these guys for some of the things they say, but he hadn’t yet, except in his daydreams.

      The door opens to a large well lit conference room and the General is ushered in by security. He stands by the table in his usual position as the last few people are led in. The meeting comes to order as a wooden mallet is tapped on the desk and everyone sits down.

      “This meeting of the Alien Technology Division is officially underway, we thank General Cummings for being here and all the science delegates, so let the meeting commence. Dr. Harris has the floor.” The announcement said and General Cummings smiled a weak smile and waited.

      “We have a huge responsibility,” Dr Harris started, but everything he has ever said was a “huge responsibility” so General Cummings failed to be immediately impressed.

      “The Alien Committee has asked once more for more cooperation, and that means one thing, more experiments. As scientists we agreed all those years ago to these kinds of things, we can understand the need for understanding among scientists the universe over, but this is becoming too much. We didn’t sign on for all the world to be their playground, but as they keep telling the President and other world leaders that we will reap the benefits of our cooperation for generations to come, we have been forced to go along, but no more!” he demanded, and at this the General was wide awake. He had demanded himself these inhuman experiments stop many times, but he never could convince anyone, what had changed, he wondered.


      “The aliens have overstepped their authority too many times, and it’s getting harder and harder to cover for them, at first we used a few accidents to cover them, then missing persons, but now even the average person on the street knows something is happening, and we will soon have a revolution on our hands, probably followed by an invasion.” He said stopping for air. He was livid, and General Cummings had never seen him so upset, but here he was, demanding a hard change, so maybe this fool wasn’t so bad after all.

      General Cummings raised his hand and stood without being recognized, if this was true, he had been grossly misled, and he was going to get to the bottom of it.

      “I was told many times by YOU... personally... we needed these people to help us, but today we don’t, what has happened since the last meeting to change your mind? You have always been against even the idea of controls, or military intervention with the aliens, why NOW?” he demanded and sits down as the science team as a group gets a very red face, all around the room... to the last man and woman... and General Cummings doesn’t like the looks of this one bit.

      “We were in control, for a while, a LONG while.” Harris starts, ”But they are sidestepping our authority, and even though we have friends in their science community, they are no longer telling us what’s going on. General... you must understand... by now they are using and discarding a dozen times the number of people we allowed them to experiment with. The idea of genetic experiments has, over the years, given us a lot of good information. Including the genome project and the possibility of controlling diseases forever, but even that isn’t worth it any longer. What good is it to have perfect health to be used as slaves or worse?” he demanded as the General was getting upset himself. They had never told him any of this, and he was pissed, to say the least.

      “Or worse? What the hell are you saying DR. spit it out, no more ass kissing and back stabbing, me and you, face to face. What is REALLY going on?” the General demanded while jumping to his feet, Harris was also mad himself, to be called so many things right out loud was against all he believed in, but this man had a lot of responsibilities too, and they had lied to him a thousand times over.

      “The genetic experiments have for many years, offered them a chance to learn about us, all the way down to the atomic level. Now that they have all this info they started doing experiments having young with us, trying with both men and women.” Harris said stopping to let it sink in.
      “They tried having kids with MEN?” the general demanded, “What happened?” he waited to hear this, it had to be good.

      “It worked, they became pregnant, but men are not capable of having children, and even with some… modifications... they still have the babies inserted and the patients died trying to conceive.” Harris said looking away. General Cummings sat back to think, the people they experimented with had died trying to have children, but a man trying give birth, then dying from what… the pain alone would have done it. The fact that the body wasn’t built for it and the forcing of the fertilized eggs into into… He turned his head away. It would be like cutting a man in two without anesthetic, or worse, they may not have cut the poor *******s at all, just stood, and watched them die from the pain. He wanted more than ever to kill those little grey *******s right now, but that wasn’t new.

      “What else, Dr.?” General Cummings asked, not knowing if he even wanted to know.

      “The experiments have led to off world uses too.” Harris said as the Generals eyes opened wide.

      “Their taking people home with them?” Cummings asked, knowing the answer.

      “Yes, by the thousands now.” Harris said as the room started to whisper among themselves.

      “THOUSANDS??!! How damn many were they allowed to have, you scientific morons??” demanded the General.

      “Only a few hundred a year, it was easy to cover that many and we got some good stuff, like some of YOUR new weapons, and the fighters, and a lot of other stuff. We will have 5 Terabyte computers in almost every home in a decade... maybe.” He said looking away.

      “Maybe, it’s down to that now, we don’t even know if it’s going to happen anymore?” Cummings asks and the whole team started babbling,

      “We do know that we have the technology, the blueprints are available right now, but we aren’t sure we have the time.” Another man beside Harris butted in.

      “Time for what? Or BEFORE what, I swear if you called me here to tell me we have a decade to get ready for a war, I’ll kick your asses right here.” He demanded, as every face in the room went white... really white.

      “Genocide,” was the only word he heard and he fell into his chair with a loud thump.

      “They are a dying race, we knew that, and we had them over a barrel, they had to deal with us, but they needed to find someone who wasn’t sterile, to have a new generation of children to carry on their world, and now they have it, and they have a military too, and they like us as much as you like them.” Harris said shaking his head, maybe if he’d come forward sooner they’d have a chance.

      General Cummings sat there in shock, these, these... traitors... had given away the one ace they had, and now they had the nerve to come here and say it’s too late. How dare them, they should be shot, or worse let them be used for their own experiments, that would fix them, but now he had a lot to consider, and he needed more info.

      “What are our chances, at say, 10 % survival?” he asked as they looked around the room.

      “Not good,” came an answer from another man at the end of the table, “Picture the Enterprise from Star Trek, sitting in orbit around our planet with a madman at the controls, that’s the picture, General.” He said and Cummings wanted to cry, but it wouldn’t help, and he’d like at least some serious pay back, but he wasn’t sure he’d get that either.

      “We do have one chance though,” Came a voice from across the table.

      “What chance?” General Cummings asked, he wanted every chance he could get right now.

      “We have friends, and we had some serious scanning and mapping done on a few planets to prove our theories,” he started, “there’s a planet, a huge thing they showed us to prove we didn’t know jack about planet growth, and they were right. It circles a new star, a thousand light-years from here; in a system we call Xerxis 672. It’s big, bigger than 10 Jupiter’s in diameter and it’s an oddity too, it’s covered with a shallow ocean, actually not even water, like... well…“ He was straining to find the words.

      “Spit it out man, I’m not as stupid as some of you have come to believe.” Cummings demanded as the room looked away in embarrassment.

      “Like embryonic fluid, with rich oxygen content, and mountains under there with valleys, it would be like living here, with water to breathe instead of air, and the water has enough oxygen to keep us alive, well even more than here.” He tried to explain.

      “So you’re saying it’s a gigantic mother’s womb?” Cummings asked smiling,

      “Very close, millions of miles wide, and anywhere from 10 meters to 2 km deep, it’s around a small, new sun and its close enough that the temperature even in normal depths is 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, like swimming in bath water.” The scientist said smiling, he obviously liked that thought.

      “But we don’t breathe water, and we don’t have star travel.” Cummings said and the room agreed.

      “But we have friends, and we CAN breathe this water, since it’s really not water at all.” He said and Cummings looked up, ‘how was this possible’, he wondered.

      “Ok, you have my attention, make it good,” the general said looking squarely at the new man as Harris quietly sits down.

      “There is a scientist... I have worked with that thinks we are the salvation of his people... and we are, in a way. He doesn’t want to see us all wiped out, he’s the one who warned us it was coming. He said if we can “adapt” some people to breathe there he’ll take the risk to drop us off, we agreed and he started putting up a few small buildings and stations on the bottom for us to use.” He stopped for a pause to let it sink in.

      “Get on with it man, how can this help us?” Cummings asks, getting impatient.

      “DR Collins has been doing research for years into having humans living on the bottom of the ocean, with limited success. But on this new world, it would be much easier, and he has already tried one of his people in a tank full of the same fluid and they survived well. We think... using his modifications... we can make anyone into a fluid breathing human. It’s not a perfect solution, but it WILL work.” He stated as General Cummings thought about it, they might not be just like us, but maybe, just maybe they could live a long life and the species would survive.

      “How long will the change take, do we have time?” he asked and the room buzzed thinking about it.

      “If we hurry we can be done and have a good sized group off world before they come for us, they said we have 4 years from today, so we have a plan,” he said as everyone turned to look at him, ”OK... I have a plan.” He said smiling and the general was all ears.

      “We know what this will be like, just like here but different, anyways, like living in space. We have come up with a plan, to see who we can get quickly, it’s a Game actually...and we give it away.” He said as everyone shook their heads and a few laughed.

      “A game, how does that help us in such a short time?” Cummings asked.

      “It’s a trainer in disguise, it lets people see what it would be like to trade, live, work, even fight, in space. We give them a small ship, in our new world a small submarine, but in the game a space ship. Then we let them trade with each other, mine, work, whatever is needed and see what people have a natural talent for this type of thing.” He stated as the room sounded much more supportive after a second.

      “And then we?” General Cummings asked smiling, he knew the answer.

      “We SAVE them.” Was the answer he wasn’t looking to get, but true enough?

      “Begin your game Dr,” Cumming said and he stormed out of the room and the call was made, the game was available online by the end of the day, and they waited to see the results.




    2. #2
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Chapter 2: Passing the Time

      Jake was sitting looking over a list of new games that were for sale online. He was very particular, he wasn’t into first person shooters, unless it involved fighters or space ships. He loved the look of a space sim, it was our future, after all. We had some tiny little probes flying around out there now, but it was all just a matter of time.

      He saw many third person and old “arcade” type games but nothing that interested him, they were too, well... simple... and they couldn’t hold his interest past the first hour. He moved from site to site and still didn’t see anything he didn’t already have, good quality games with immersion were hard to come by.

      Finally he did a search to see what new might be available on sites he didn’t usually use. He found a lot of stuff, but nothing that was exactly what he wanted. Finally, on page 3 of his search he saw the heading, “Play the newest online sensation, be a captain of your own vessel and trade, mine, fight, in a new world of adventure and action on a massive scale” he stopped to see what it was, a new space sim... and free… you can’t beat that, and he started the download. It was big, and he had to let it run all day, but by evening he was making a name for his character and getting his first ship.

      Jake was an old guy with health problems who had tried to get a disability from the government for years. After all, he supported them for 40 years, they could support him for 20, but that’s not the way the games played, it seemed. He was told they agreed completely, he could never do anything he used to, his health wouldn’t allow it, but he was still capable of doing something... greeter at some store, Internet Sales, scam artist...but nothing he had ever done before, or would consider doing now. But then he was 63 and they knew they didn’t have long to wait to be rid of him, with bad health and limited health care he was a dead man walking, and he was sure that was the plan.

      He sat a lot, playing games and looking into the future, maybe his real life was there, in a future time when he could do all the things he was hoping to do now. He liked mining asteroids and even a job as a miner didn’t worry him. In the future you could be a miner without having a roof fall on you, but here they still had them and they died a lot from sicknesses and accidents, but people need to eat, and the government wasn’t worried, there was always another person even younger to fill their job when they fell... no problem.

      Jake sat back and read the game directions, it was a new concept, and it was a small limited universe of maybe 10 million miles. It said it was a new universe completely different from any before. You had to survive by your wits and, with cooperation, help others. He was into helping, but he liked his freedom to move around and do what he wanted. This might be ok, but he had a hard time understanding a small, limited universe, after all, wasn’t the universe endless? Maybe that was the plan, to get you wondering and drop a squadron of attack fighters on you, but he’d be ready, it wasn’t catching him by surprise.

      Jake saw a strange new universe before him, and he smiled, it was a little off color, he was used to space being black maybe with colored clouds , but this was sort of brown, but he had read that in reality, space was a “mocha” color, so maybe it was just more realistic. He got his first ship, as always a small, limited fighter/cargo ship. They always gave you those, it offered you a choice and in some games the choice was needed, but he liked to trade up and couldn’t wait to see the bigger ships.

      He took the new ship for a ride, it handled well, but he wasn’t impressed with the speed, he was only getting like, 250 mph out of it, another surprise. In space that wouldn’t get you past the Burger King, but maybe it was a trick. He was wondering seriously about this when he found his first deposit of uranium in a mountainside he was scanning, and the oddness of a mountainside in space quickly vanished. With a good find, he would be able to sell it and buy a real ship maybe even see another world or two, which was the ticket. He mined his ship full and returned to the station where he started and sold it, he got a good price, but no new ships were available there and he returned and mined some more. He was sure he’d get a chance to explore some more after this was done and he’d find that base to buy better ships. It was all a matter of time, and he had that for sure.

      It was month 2 of the game experiment and it was going well. Dr. Harris was not too pleased, it wasn’t his idea, but he was living with it since it was actually working. The game made a close association with the reality of the new world. It was limited in size and had a lot of the same minerals and problems that they knew existed there. There were a few that took to it immediately and those were tagged, he watched them daily to see if their patience lagged too soon or if they were all just killers waiting to strike, both a bad idea on a new world, but he saw a few good candidates, some were older, but with the cloning techniques they had learned that wasn’t a problem, all they needed was a few thousand people with the right attitude and the skills to survive, and they were finding them in record time, he had to admit.

      By month 6 he was sure they had enough to make it work, a message was received saying that several stations and buildings were set up and available but they needed to hurry, the plan to strike was speeding to a conclusion. General Cummings and his people were doing their level best to ready the military of the world... but that was giving it away. They had started shooting down the science ships that were on Earth for many years without being hassled, and their reports back were not being received as they should, so things were being escalated much faster than they liked, “military fools”, Harris thought. They barely had enough time now to get this all done and they speeded up the process on their end too. The collections time was at hand, then the “changing” and the drop... all in less than 2 years... for several thousand people it was going to be close, and a few corners might need to be cut, but only when safety was assured, killing the new settlers wasn’t going to be an option this time, they needed every one of them and more.

      Jake was sitting playing his game, there were options you could get to speed up your ship once you had the money. He hadn’t seen any large attack ships of any kind, but people at the stations talked about a few he never saw. He had traded the small fighter in on a medium sized freighter and set up a plan to mine as much as possible. He was doing well and making some good credits, now when the time came he should be all set to get something bigger and more powerful, after all, you can’t get a battleship first, but you can earn one later. He was sitting there when a knock came at his door, he opened it to see the new lady from across the hall standing there with an insulated box in her hand... smiling sweetly.

      “Hello, Mr. March, how are you today?” she asked and he smiled and nodded.
      “I get free meals sometimes and they dropped this off, but its hot sausage, and they know I can’t eat this, if you like it here, please have it, I hate to waste good food.” She said and he thanked her for her kindness and went back inside his room, he’d have to remember to drop something good off for her for being so thoughtful, he thought, and sat down and ate the sandwich and fries.

      It was pretty good, but having something right that second seemed to make him sleepy, so he closed the computer and went and lay down on the couch. It was only a few minutes later he dozed off, and was fast asleep.

      Jake was really sleeping well when he heard someone talking and opened his eyes and looked around. He seemed to be in the hospital, and the first thought was the old lady had given him bad food, food poisoning could kill you, and thankfully someone had found him and called for help.

      “Mr. March is awake,” someone said and he saw a doctor walking his way.


      “Hello, sir, you’re ok now, don’t worry, we are taking good care of you.” He said and Jake just smiled, they better, if he died in a hospital someone would be paying a big tab for sure. “How do you feel?” he asked and Jake smiled and said pretty good... in fact, Jake hadn’t felt this good in a while... it must be good drugs they gave him, his arthritis was all but gone for the moment, and he seemed to be able to breathe much better, his asthma was clearing up with whatever they had given him.

      “Well, you just rest, and we’ll check on you later, sleep well, sir.” The doctor said and before Jake could ask, he was out again.

      Jake was sure getting good sleep. But he wasn’t upset, he dreamed of good times and old friends... of ships from the future... and great places to see and visit, new friends, and old enemies, and all the fun in between. He was having a good time, actually, when he woke up again.

      “He’s awake doctor,” he heard a nurse say.

      “Mr. March, good to see you coming around, how do you feel now?” he asked and Jake smiled, he asked him the same thing every time he was awake, was this a joke, or what? The doctor smiled and said he was watching him closely and just wanted to know and Jake said he felt good, real good actually, and he asked if they had these new drugs why didn’t his doctor give them to him years ago, he’d gladly have gone back to work feeling this good, and the doctor smiled and said he’d explain later, and he had a meal ordered and it was on the way. Jake was happy, he was famished and he hadn’t been this hungry in years. He smiled and when they set the tray down he wolfed down the sandwich and all the other food like he hadn’t seen food in a while. He couldn’t believe how really hungry he was.

      The doctor came in a while later and shut the door behind him. He started to check Jake’s blood pressure and eyes, everything to see how well he was doing. Jake was a little confused, but he waited to see what was going on next, the food poisoning must have been really bad for all this attention. Finally the doctor was sure he was ok, and sat down in a chair next to the bed and smiled, Jake smiled back and waited, there had to be some reason for all this and the doctor seemed ready to talk, when the cat gave his tongue back.

      “I am happy to tell you the restoration has been a complete success.” He said smiling and Jake nodded asking what restoration he was talking about.

      “Why yours of course, the process has taken some time, but with all the rest we gave you, you’re more than ok, you’re probably the best example we have here yet.” He said and Jake was starting to get a headache, this guy was talking in riddles, and he wasn’t in the mood.

      “Dr, I’m very happy that you’re very happy, but right now all I want to know is what the hell you’re talking about.” Jake said as the doctors eyes popped and he jumped up.


      “Oh, my God, I’ll be right back.” He said and ran from the room.

      “What??” Jake asked but he was gone and by now Jake was thinking something really weird was going on, and for some reason he was right in the middle of it. He wanted to get up and go see what this nut was doing now, but he was strapped in and had an IV in his arm, and he knew better than to mess with one of those himself, so he waited.

      In a few minutes another man walked in, this one was in a military uniform and was not looking too happy. He came into the room and closed the door, what Jake had to do with any of this he wasn’t sure but it looked like someone was going to tell him, eventually.

      “I am sorry we didn’t get the chance to explain all this, you must be terribly confused by now.” The officer started.

      “To say the least,” Jake said and waited.

      “You were chosen as a member of an elite team, and we are going to send you to colonize a new planet.” He said quickly and waited for a response, Jake started to laugh out loud, and he was sure he was on a hidden camera show when the officer asked what was so funny.

      “I have hoped for something like this my whole life, but we both know the politicians haven’t seen fit to make starships yet, and without that we aren’t going anywhere, so what’s the joke?” Jake said smiling and the officer tried to explain that it was real, and we do have access to starships, and Jake was actually looking around for the cameras.

      “Even if this was true... and I know better,” Jake started, ”I’m an old man, 63 years old and I wouldn’t have a chance of doing you any good out there, so please, spare me the jokes and let me go home.” He said as the officer stood and walked over to the small desk, opened it and pulled out a small hand mirror, he walked over and turned it for Jake to see and there was an image of Jake as he was at 20... with all his wavy brown hair and no mustache anymore... it only lasted a second... as Jake’s face fell into shock, he stopped laughing... and fainted.


      Chapter 3: A Different Reality

      In 24 hours Jake was up and walking around. Hell, he could run for a mile the way he felt and the doctor smiled when he said that. They gave him a set of cloths, really just a yellow jump suit similar to what janitors might wear, and some good comfortable boots, and then he got taken for ‘adjustment’ and they gave him a bed there too, and said he wouldn’t be going back again to his old room. He got put to sleep and slowly over a week things got done, and after that he woke to find himself in a room with a big window along the side, and people out there looking in.

      He had wires connected to him and as he opened his eyes the doctor called in asking him if he felt OK,and if he had any trouble breathing, as Jake laughed and said he never had lung problems before this so why start now, and the doctor laughed and agreed.

      “Things are looking good on this end.” he called to someone, and Jake waited to see what was happening now.

      “First Wave goes at noon tomorrow, make him comfortable until then with the others.” he heard and he watched as a nurse walked in, rather slowly he thought and removed his wires, and then asked him to follow her, and when he moved he felt like he was walking in sand or something, and she laughed and said he’d understand everything in a few minutes.

      He got taken to an auditorium, and there he sat looking at all the other people sitting and talking back and forth. He wondered how many of them were over 60 when they arrived, and he chuckled to think it.

      Then another doctor walked out on stage and they got quiet, and he announced that all their adjustments had gone well and no one here was going to have any trouble on the new world, and many had questions and he tried to answer them.

      “You mean...right now...we’re all, breathing water?” One asked as the man told him no..it wasn’t water at all... and he told him that before they were born they lived in their mothers womb, and in there they were surrounded by a fluid that they breathed for 9 months. It was rich in oxygen and got recycled as they used it, and this was just like that, and was as perfectly natural to be breathing this as it was to breath air just a few days before.

      “Your mind and body remember...” the doctor added, as many thought that was impressive.” But as you grew older a few things changed to stop fluid from getting into your lungs and we adjusted to breathing air. Now with our help all those changes were reversed, and we are all breathing that fluid once more.” he mentioned as many looked scared or worried and he held out what looked like a paint can and sprayed it for a second, and the bubbles went right to the ceiling and bounced around until they disappeared, and one or two people fainted to see it, but were quickly checked to make sure they were alright.

      “Remember what you’ve just seen.” he said pointing up.” It’ll be important to you very soon.” And he waved and walked off the stage, and something odd happened and as they all sat there talking a soft sound was playing and they felt tired, and one by one they fell asleep, and didn’t realize for a second what was about to happen to them.

      Sometime later they awoke again, still sitting in their seats right where they had been before. But Now the doctor came back out onto the stage and smiled, and welcomed them to their new home.

      “Remember this?” he asked and sprayed the can again and again bubbles went to the roof and everyone agreed they did. That time was three days ago... since then you have been transported to a new world,a world where this fluid we breath is a mile or more deep and where new animals and fish live along side us. This world is ours now and will be forever, so go out the doors and talk to the people at the desks, and they will see you get jobs to do and skills to learn, and welcome my friends ...to Aquaria!” And he gave a deep bow and people laughed and applauded, and slowly they went out to see what this new world had to offer.

      Jake waited while the first bunch jumped up and ran, then slowly walked out to see several ladies sitting behind desks right across the hall. He walked over, got in line, and then smiled when his turn came.

      “I’m Jake March, got anything for me?” he asked as she checked her records and smiled very wide indeed. He got his ID, a plastic card with his name and occupation on it. It read: ‘miner/explorer’ and he smiled wide to see it. She told him they would need lots and lots of things to keep them going. Food and minerals too to get manufacturing going on the new world. So people like him that loved to be out there, searching and seeing new things would be their eyes and ears on this new world and see things before anyone else. And as she said all that people waiting behind him looked impressed, and Jake felt pretty good about it, and she waved him down the hall to the last door that led to the docking area, and he walked that way to see what kind of vehicle an explorer got on this world.

      Knowing what he did now he should have guessed. He walked out to see several small machines sitting floating there and they looked like very high tech submarines with plastic or glass domes up front...and thats because they were. They were probably 50 feet long. The engines were more like little jets, except they were very simple in design. The tube held a shaft and on it were 6 turbine wheels each with maybe 50 blades in them. It ran on electric and had solar cells for when it got close to the surface. But it got recharged every time it docked for free and it had a suction tube that dropped down from underneath to gather things and threw them into a large tank behind the Command Center where the pilot sat and lived while out exploring.

      It could hold up to 2 tons of materials and still ‘fly’ along easily so that gave him an idea how to judge what he had on board,and he checked to see a small refrigerator in the lunge area with bottled juice and water in it, and some food looking very much like microwave meals, and he laughed thinking that in air he had eaten a million of these but under water? And he had to remind himself this was their home now, and so this was all going to be standard, and he decided he probably had enough food and water for a few days and so he sat down in the drivers seat and brought up the specs and the computer asked if he needed anything, and they had a nice long talk about flying this machine and its range and capacities as they drifted away from the little dock for the first time.


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      Chapter 4: First Sight


      Jake drifted along noticing that the base was made in the dead end of the valley, nearly against the wall of the mountain behind it. It had high walls on three sides, and opened into what appeared to be a large plain just beyond this. He turned his new craft and started along one wall as a buzz was heard and a little 6 inch screen lit up showing a middle aged man wearing a nice suit smiling back at him.

      “I’m Doctor Collins...” he announced as Jake introduced himself as well.” You are the first adventurer to leave the station looking for ...whatever reason at the moment...what is that reason anyways?” he asked as Jake laughed and said he was just looking around at the moment, but he was probably going to do some mining later, and he asked what was needed most.

      “Everything and anything.” he got told as the Doctor reminded him that even their power system needed recharged from time to time, and it would be OK for a few months, maybe a year, but uranium would be needed to make new fuel rods later, and then food, anything he found needed checked and researched, and any ore of any type, because they had several little factories waiting on something to do.

      “Mining will be fairly simple, you have a limited number of small missiles...rockets really...and when you find something the computer will guide you to it. Then set charges to loosen it up and vacuum it up with the drop down tube underneath, thats about it. If you run out of rockets you can, if you want, use a metal bar, or pick to loosen up the dirt and rock to save cash on replacing the rockets... thats all up to you.” he announced as Jake thanked him for the lesson.

      “I hope to see you soon then.” Jake said and closed the link and went exploring, and he got a message with a list of things they needed immediately, and he smiled that they really did need everything.

      He ordered the computer to scan for anything on his list and she agreed, but stopped a second later and said one was found.

      “Where?” he asked and they dropped down about 50 feet to see piles of dust, or dirt, gathered along the bottom of the wall and the computer scanned and found it to be nearly pure Silicon, and Jake smiled.

      “It appears this gets washed down here from the mountainside.” It said, as Jake agreed, saying scanners picked up a slight current here so it made sense.

      They lowered the 4 inch flexible tube and started working and it took no time at all to get a ton of wet silicon sand as Jake soon found out. He loaded everything he thought he could and slowly turned and started back calling ahead saying he had a load for someone.

      “That would be me...” he heard as a mans face came on the screen. Turn to the right when you get the the station and you’ll see station number 231 right along side. The bin for drop off is on top, just get into position and reverse the process, the tube will then drop the Silicon into the hatch on top of the station. We make electronics here, so we need a lot of this.” he mentioned as Jake agreed saying he could get a little more yet from the same spot, but in reality he could haul for quite a while, but didn’t mention it.

      “It will be mentioned that Jake March mined the first ever minerals on the new world.” He heard, as Doctor Collins popped up again, “And your maps will make exploring and hunting easier for everyone from this day forward.” he announced, as Jake just laughed and said...’please,please..no applause, just throw money...’ and everyone laughed and his account got its first deposit, and he saw that he woudln’t be starving anytime soon.

      “Doctor Collins...we ask permission to start our first electronics line... this drop was more than a ton, so we can start production immediately.” he announced as Collins agreed and the very first parts started coming off the line that afternoon. “We still need copper or gold for metals here so keep us in mind.” he called as Jake turned and started back out of the valley again.

      “I’ll see you later for sure, bye for now.” he said and he made his first friend here and Doctor Collins saw that he had a pretty level head on his shoulders and he smiled because here...they would all need that.

      Jake got a second load then went out exploring some more. The station called to thank him for working so hard and he laughed saying he was just getting started.

      He flew out into the open beyond the mouth of the valley and scanners couldn’t even see where it ended. It was like the Great Plains on Earth, maybe hundreds or thousands of miles across, all unseen by Human eyes.

      And while he was deciding what to do next the station was sitting back watching as the second little ship pulled out...now that they had some idea what was out there. Jake sent back a map of where he was and where he was going automatically, and some people just don’t have it in them to be first when its way safer to be second or third.

      So for now Jake was all alone, he decided to follow the right side as he came out of the valley, and turned and started cruising that direction, now running about 50 mph as he scanned for new things to gather.

      He had the computer watching too, because she could see further and faster than anything he could do alone, and after a little while she called to tell him some new ore was seen and they slid in next to some rocks at the bottom of a cliff and the scans showed iron ore, and he smiled pretty wide at that.

      “There’s at least a ton laying here, but it probably fell from higher up.” The computer said as Jake agreed. But that was enough for a load, and so he dropped two small rockets into the pile and disintegrated the bigger stones into something that could be vacuumed up. A short while later they moved up slowly scanning and then found a nice seam of ore along the side of the wall about 30 feet from the floor below.

      “And there’s the main seam.” Jake said as he cheered knowing this might go clear through the mountain and it would take years to mine it all. He called back with the info and got asked if he wanted to stake a claim to it, and after checking to see if he could..he did...and now forever, or until it ran out, this seam of ore belonged to him or his ancestors if it ran that long.

      He ran back and got unloaded at the refinery and they cheered as he started dumping the ore into their station. Now they had something to do too, and they heard he found a seam out there and expected him to drop load after load just for them and he laughed saying that he had a lot of exploring to do yet, and they seemed upset he wasn’t going to work exclusively for them.


      Chapter 5: Seeing new Things, for the Official Record

      Jake had some cash now and enough food and water for a longer trip. Doctor Collins, the head of the facility, made sure everyone knew that Explorers were their eyes and ears and that not only minerals but their very future food might well be out there, and the provisions they brought along would only last a few months.

      They started setting up small farms near the base and some people worked them daily hoping to start some plants growing that they could eat later. But it was a stretch, since they never got the time to research wither the plants from Earth could grow here...so finding anything eatable growing here naturally was extremely important.

      By now they had been here a week. And Jake found that the sleeping quarters on the little sub were pretty decent. He got some good sleep this way, and even traveled out further knowing that he didnt need to worry about coming back every ‘night’.

      He would travel a bit then return and mine a little then go out again and his maps became the core of the new research for the world, and others used them to go out to mine or hunt food just days after they got there.

      After following that right hand wall for a full day Jake saw something odd. In the distance he saw grass growing on the bottom. Next to the base it was nothing but smooth rock, but out here more dirt was being seen and some plants too.

      He dropped down to investigate and when he did he saw small creatures scurrying about and running down holes in the ground. It was the first time he had seen anything besides the Humans, and he sat there just a few feet above the floor calling back that animals had been seen, as well as plants that they probably were living off of.

      He never got a good look at them, they stayed close to their dens and then disappeared the second anything got close, but after sitting there talking to the base about it he got ordered to gather samples, and so he dropped down and got a plastic sample bag full of the plants that resembled lettuce or something maybe 2 feet long, and another plant that was taller and more vine like, and the research team was screaming for him to return with them so their work could begin.

      But he just sat there watching, and after nearly an hour a few small creatures appeared again, they looked like long legged turtles of some sort and they ate the leaves from the plants and ran when they saw anything move. That told Jake two things...first: animals do live here, and second: these little animals were afraid of something...and he wanted to know what.

      He just hovered there making no sounds at all and he decided before he left he’d get one of these too, but then after over an hour taking pictures and watching them eat a large shadow went by at high speed, and his radar told him he was no longer alone here.

      The scan showed something half his length and very fast, and after a second one ran in and grabbed a turtle like creature and laid there chewing on it. He got scans and a video of the thing, a large snake like thing maybe 30 feet long and 5 feet thick, vertically. It had teeth too and a large mouth and Jake definitely didn’t want that seeing him outside the submarine either.

      The order came immediately...kill it and get samples. So he slowly turned to face it and it noticed and looked oddly at him. He got the sights on the target and sent a small rocket there and when it hit blood shot out everywhere and the creature screamed and flipped and flopped until it dropped to the bottom, motionless after a minute.

      Jake reported the success, and went out and carved a nice size piece of flesh from it and put that into a bag too. Then he got one of those little turtles, not as small as he first thought, and started back to the base.

      Once there they put a lock on any further exploring until further notice. They hadn’t been there very long and had found their first carnivore. It was large and fast, and humans might become its favorite food if it ever found one.

      The research team went into high gear and after sitting at the base for two weeks bored to death, the results came out. Both the turtles and what they were now calling an eel..were eatable... and that meant that their long term survival here was now assured. The leafy plants too were eatable and chemically resembled cabbage from Earth, and that too was going to help, as plans got made for making new meals once their supplies of the new plants was big enough.

      But the vine looking thing wasn’t, but they had plans for it too since it was high in fiber content, and with more to work on those they thought maybe new fabrics would come from it, and the science community went into high gear getting ready for new things and new ideas, and demanding more samples.

      But before Jake was allowed to go and gather more he got help. His first Team mate walked out to meet him and he saw Florence Harding for the first time. She smiled a lot, seemed friendly enough, and with this new help he was told to gather as much of the new plants as he could get, and watch for more of those eels too, or turtles if he got the chance, and he saw that he was getting leaned on heavily, and he asked why only him and his Team, and Collins admitted that knowing there were predators out there no one wanted to leave the protection of the valley.

      “Then Hunting will become a full time job someday.” Jake said loudly as Collins admitted it was true.” So you better get your people working on better weapons. These little rockets might be OK once in a while, but they are terribly inaccurate, and not everything will sit still for you to aim at it.” he hinted as Collins had to think about that one for a while.

      And Jake and Florence drifted away from the dock again and made the turn out towards the plains and he got cheers from a few that were busy mining nearby and he held back from calling them all cowards...for the moment.


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