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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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      Chapter 6: Surviving

      They traveled back out and went straight to the field of plants. They moved in as slowly and quietly as they could and caught a group of turtles working on eating the dead animal they had left behind before. They were so happily chewing away they didn’t notice them until a rocket hit nearby, and several fell to the floor, while the rest disappeared as fast as you might expect.

      “Looks like turtles can be meat eaters too.” Jake mentioned. As they drifted into position above them and dropped slowly down.

      They landed on the bottom, and when the side door opened out flew Jake with two big bags for collecting. He had a knife and went to cutting plants and filling bags, while Florence grabbed the dead turtles and put them on board too.

      They worked there for several hours, stopping to have a meal and get something to drink, and Jake joked that they lived in a fluid, but still got thirsty, and Florence went into a long winded speech about hydration, and the fact that water was needed in its pure form and the fluid around them might not let some things like dry skin happen here, but their internal organs and muscles needed it regardless.

      “Just kidding...” he hinted as she finally stopped her big talk and looked embarrassed.”Science major?” he hinted as she smiled and looked away.

      “Gee, how can you tell?” She whispered as they both got a little chuckle in there.

      They stayed all day there and finally turned and went back with many bags full of the leafy plants, and 4 big turtles for them to work on. The food department went into high gear and within two days new food was made and in the machines in the break area. The turtles had a nice sweet meat and mixed with the leafy vegetables made a decent meal. There were notes on the bulletin board explaining that several news foods were found, and that as they got brought in they would be available to all. So while they were here Jake loaded his ship with fresh food and water packets and away they went again, only this time with new tools to try.

      The Metallurgy Department made some new tools and Jake got a small one handed sickle to use to cut plants with. It had a 18 inch blade and a short wooden handle but compared to crawling around on his knees with a knife this was a world apart, and easier on his back and knees too.

      It also would be quite a bit faster, and he cut and Florence gathered and stuffed the bags and in a day they had as much as the little ship had room for, and Jake decided to go exploring again, and they ran out further still, charting things as they went.

      They started seeing viny plants like before only out here they were monstrous. At least 50 feet tall as they came off the ground and reached towards the sun far above. The leaves were now as big as a mans arm and hundreds were on the stalks so gathering some of those wasn’t hard at all. But as Jake grabbed some for the research teams another animal went by. This was smaller maybe 4 feet long , and then another, and he swam back inside until he saw what was going on.

      Florence managed to get some video of them as one stopped nearby to grab something and started eating it. She saw nothing there but after zooming in the camera she saw specks that darted around the big plants, and when a few went by the cockpit she saw what looked very much like minnows for the first time.

      “They’re baby fish.” She mentioned as Jake said maybe this was all bigger they get, and that made them perfect size for bait for bigger animals, and the video she got showed a creature with tentacles, and looking a little like a squid from Earth, only red in color and a little more wide on the body.

      The report got sent back with the result Jake already knew was coming...’get samples’ and so after considering his very few options, he fired several of the little rockets into the forest of plants and then dropped down to see what they might have accidentally hit.

      Compression from a small explosion under water is intense, and when they searched they found a dozen little fish and one new squid laying there, and that was good enough for Jake, and they took all this back to the base again, and another round of testing to see how this new animal worked out.

      By now the base knew exactly what to look for, and in a day they declared these squids safe to eat too. And weighting more than a hundred pounds each it wouldnt take a lot to make some good meals.

      Now things were really looking up, and a variety of different foods were going to make cooking and vending food more challenging. But that would reduce boredom as well and that was always a good thing in a confined area.

      And Jake got a call from a station owner saying he had the only claim for iron ore so far, and they had been sitting empty for weeks now...so Jake did some mining and filled the mans station with ore and made some good cash too, and Collins called and thanked him and suggested that maybe he could hire someone to mine his claim and then they could get iron and he could continue to explore at the same time, and Jake decided that would work and made a deal with a young couple to mine for him and he had a income even when he wasn’t there to see it.

      And Research called and said by the time he returned again they would have a new weapon for his ship, and then he could hunt easier, and Jake agreed that anything was better than firing blindly and hoping for the best, and even Doctor Collins looked surprised the little rockets were that bad, and decided to look into it.

      Chapter 7: Adjusting to a new World


      In another month Collins called everyone in for a meeting. He turned on the screens all over the base and gave a little speech about how well things were going. He also showed a short video of some of the new animals they found and even named Jake as the main reason they had these now.

      “Now that we have better maps, we know where to hunt for food and farming might become gathering instead. Of course we’ll still continue setting up the farm next door, that would be ideal, but finding acres of plants growing in the wild is a good thing, and we’ll take advantage of that into the Future.” he added as many smiled wide hearing things getting better.

      “Only very few knew how close we were cutting it on food.” he went on, as some looked shocked.” When we got here we had a 6 months supply, thats all, but now we have that much and more. Some of the original meals are still here,and now we have new meals being made. Sea food will become quite regular as I’m sure you know, and couples working together will help move this base and the 2 others around the world into the future as well.” he added as everyone nodded and Jake just figured saying ‘couples’ was a figure of speech, since they assigned him a partner.

      “We now have metal being made daily and electronics too, soon new and bigger ships will become available, and I’m sure our explorers will be the first to get one of those.” he hinted as Jake got a big grin at that.

      “So continue doing your best, thats all I ask, and we’ll be sending our first message to the other bases soon asking them how well they are doing. Lets hope they are all doing as well or better than us, because Humans don’t have another chance. Earth had 9 billion Humans on it when the War started, and by now there isn’t much hope for any more survivors making it this far. Our alien friend did a huge thing bringing us here, and we officially name him as our savior and it will be taught that way as our History into the Future. Its the least we can do for someone who risked his own life to save someone not even of his own species.” he added as many agreed and the meeting was over then and everyone went back to their jobs and got ready for another day.

      And Collins was more right than he knew. Caal, the alien scientist that moved them here and got the stations ready for them worked tirelessly for months to help out. These Humans were his species salvation, and so they owed them no matter what the Leaders said. And so he worked for weeks dropping off hundreds at a time in different locations. Alpha 1 had 1200 Humans, where Jake was living. Alpha 2 roughly 250k away had 800, and Alpha 3 had barely enough to set up the station and get it running, just over a hundred.

      But that was all there would ever be...because on his last trip a wave of cruisers jumped in right beside him and the commander asked why a science vessel was still in the system, and Caal told them he wanted one last trip of Humans for testing...and the Commander left him go. But seeing him got reported, and he was forced back home because his Teams were through with this little world,and the last 300 Humans went to become test subjects, and Caal got a big reputation boost for looking ahead, and he just nodded and thanked them for their faith in him, and jumped home. Deleting every mention of the new colony from his data base... and in a few months or years... even his memory of the exact coordinates would fade, and his friends would be safe forever.

      When Collins made his call he found out what had happened and it saddened him greatly. There was supposed to be 1200 at each base, and each one was supposed to have resources they could use, but it seemed that wasn’t true.

      He told them about Alpha 1 and his chances to find food for his people. The man running Alpha 2 demanded he send them some because not a single scout there had found anything worth using. Of course he admitted that they only had 2 miners and they brought in ores that even Collins didn’t find yet, but no one was a good hunter, and so they did what they wanted and the station was slowly going to starve if they didn’t find something soon.

      Collins sent them all the info about animals they found and the test results showing them eatable, and they thanked him for the help...but it seemed the man running Alpha 2 wasn’t a real leader... since he never seemed to know what to do.

      “I suggest you arm one of your miners and send them out exploring...” Collins added as the man immediately declared that no one but security would be allowed arms,and Collins started to see light at the end of the tunnel. “then send security...” he added as the man looked thoughtful.” being the leader means you do what it takes to survive, for yourself and your people. If you don’t you’ll all die, and how does that help us?” He asked as the man agreed, though through clenched teeth.

      “We’ll see..” the man said grinning,” but don’t assume to tell me what to do, this is MY base and your opinion means nothing here.” he demanded and closed the link and Collins sat back thinking. Doctor Hammond was supposed to be the leader there but over the last few months something must have happened,and he thought for sure that some little dictator was running it now, and that wasn’t good at all.

      The Leader at Alpha 3 agreed, saying Hammond was always too easy to get along with, and probably made this man his second and right after that got dethroned or replaced for some reason. But either way, as it stood now Alpha 2 looked like a base in rebellion, and only the long distances between them might be keeping them safe.

      But at Alpha 2 Phil Harding was now ruler here, and thats exactly how he said it. He armed half a dozen men and had them follow him everywhere, and anyone who had the nerve to question his authority got beaten badly and one man died. But this was the biggest chance anyone could ever hope for, a new world and no real government at this time. Perfect for a man who knew beyond a doubt that he was born to lead...everyone...and he saw his new kingdom starting right here.

      Things were bad right now, they weren’t finding enough food to live on very well. But this new info would help, and once he cemented his position here then he’d send envoys to the other stations to see how they were doing...and check out their security...because sooner or later they would all be his, and anyone who didn’t listen would pay... because no one knew better than him how the future should go...and he’d see that everyone agreed with him, like it or not.


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      Chapter 8: Security in Paradise


      That gave them something else to worry about. And Collins made a station security team and drilled them until they acted like soldiers. It was their job to see that no one made any attempts to disrupt the station and its people. An order some thought was too far reaching, and said so.

      So Collins went on the open air, explaining his reasons and saying that if they weren’t ready someday people from Alpha 2 might come to take their station from them, and he wanted them to be ready to expel any attackers. That did silence a few, but the idea was wide spread that Scientists had used secrecy and back door deals back on Earth , and look what that got them.

      And when Jake and Florence docked to get unloaded they got called in and given a crash course in weapons handling and security, and when Jake asked what the odds were they’d ever see those people herem no one was even sure, but they were turning the station into a small military outpost anyways, on Collins orders for now.

      And people noticed that ‘coupling’ became the password of the day too, and every eligible man had a woman assigned to him, and in some cases they thought that wonderful, but not in all.

      “I get it that teams need made to get things done.” Jake said while eating dinner at the station. But why does everyone need to couple up? We’ve only been here a few months and yes, we need all the help we can get, but cant we chose who we want to help us? Not every woman on board has the skills or experience to just jump in and do everything.” he complained as Florence looked embarrassed as well as one or two others.

      “How damn dense are you Jake?” Got mentioned as he looked surprised. “ We only have 2200 humans on the whole planet. And there’s a real chance no more will ever come. Wither you call it dating, or marriage or coupling what does it matter? Its our job to have kids to carry on the civilization, thats what this is all about.” he got told, and that made him even more angry.

      “And what if I’m not ready to just start pumping out kids yet?” he asked as everyone looked sad and a few agreed that demanding it be done wasn’t the same as wanting to do it. “I will chose when or if I want to make kids...and it’ll be with someone I have feelings for... not someone that got chosen for me.” he demanded and Florence looked like someone stabbed her through the heart.

      “How did Collins get you to come stay with me anyways? “ he asked as she looked embarrassed and a few other ladies nearby smiled but said nothing. “I bet it was some odd lottery or something, scientists never think like real people.” he ranted on as she looked sad and really bad for a second and as he slowed down a bit she spoke.

      “I volunteered...” She said softly, as Jake looked surprised.” I saw your file and what you had done so far and decided that if I was going to live with someone then I wanted it to be you.” She said as Jake got really quiet for a minute and people nodded towards other tables or the door and slowly they were left alone.

      “You volunteered for this....this...breeding thing too?” he whispered since they had never attempted anything together yet.

      “You said it yourself Jake, I’m a science person, we knew from the start what needed done, and Collins left us all choose who we wanted to be with. Sure... it would have been nice to take the time to meet socially, and date and all that, but frankly Jake... we don’t have the time.” She added as he finally got silent and said nothing for the rest of the meal, and others around them knew that he had a lot to think about right now, and his partner might not survive it if things went badly.

      “We need to get back to work...” he said finally and everyone noticed that he didn’t demand she stay behind , for now, and that said something anyways.

      It came as quite a shock to Jake that someone chose him over all the others, and it did show she wasn’t forced in any way. But it still made him think HE was being forced, and that upset him just as badly.

      Florence sort of understood that too...he was a fiercely independent guy who liked doing things his own way. But this new world needed thousands more people if they were to survive in the long haul, and she knew even Jake understood that, and would come around eventually.

      And as they traveled back out to work for another week or so she decided that trying to make any moves on him now would never work, and so she’d wait until his own thoughts turned that way, and then she’d smile and be ready.

      Chapter 9: Reinforcing Everything


      Harris was serious about this too, as well as getting ready for any attacks in the future. He called the Alpha 3 base and told them what was happening, and they weren’t any happier with it either.

      “So...without any Law and Order or ruling faction worldwide, he thinks he can do and say whatever he pleases then?” Their leader asked as Harris sadly agreed.

      “It appears he’s holding back weapons even from Hunters unless they fit his standards for Loyalty, and his people will be suffering because of it I’m sure.” Harris added as the other man just rolled his eyes and looked away.

      “There aren’t many of us over here, but we work together, and with the info you gave us we have a stockpile of good food and our one miner is bringing in things to get a few factories started. I’d say even with less people we’re 3x better off than him.” He added as Harris agreed and congratulated him on doing the best he could with the few people he got.

      “Just be careful, even if someone makes it to you, don’t take anything for granted.” Harris added as the man agreed and the link went closed. And the other bases were in agreement, and Harding wasn’t going to have his way no matter what.

      Jake and Florence were well out from the base now, and they had gotten a decent amount of food so far. They even did some scanning but didn’t find any minerals worth their time, and went back to hunting.

      They got several big bags of the leafy vegetables, and two medium sized squids that were close by and got hit with one of their mini missiles. So that was going to help, and when they made a turn and started back the opposite wall, they found a wave of fish coming their way that looked like they went on forever.

      Jake stopped the sub short and fired a missile but missed everything, and laughed that with a million fish in one school he didn’t hit a single one, but he fired three more and one went off maybe 75 yards out and when the school went by he had a half dozen of the new fish laying on the bottom, and they drifted down and he got out while Florence watched the sonar for bigger animals coming their way.

      These might be the grown up versions of those little minnows they saw earlier, but when he opened his bag to get them one or two were still moving, barely, and he knew they were just stunned by the blast, and threw them into the bag first.

      They were shiny silver and fairly thick up and down through. The average one was about 14 inches, so with all these there was a couple pounds to let the researchers work on tomorrow when they got back.

      And since they were fairly far out yet they decided this was enough, and ran full out to get them all back before they went bad or something, and the research staff was thrilled to hear when Florence explained what happened, and even sent pictures back of one for them to see while they traveled.

      That gave a few something new to argue about, one man said they looked very much like Sea Bass, and since he grew up near the ocean he was pretty confident too. But others didn’t agree and while Jake was flying along at 50 MPH, they were screaming for him to hurry, so they could settle this once and for all.

      “You science nuts need to take a break...” he screamed after a while.” demanding we get there in an instant isn’t going to make it any faster..two hours, minimum. So chill out and get some rest. I’m sure once we get there you’ll be all ready to fight some more.” he said loudly and the link went down as he shook his head and pushed the little machine a tad harder to try and get there faster.

      “People who love what they do get really excited when something new comes up.” Florence mentioned in their defense.” It might be that these new fish are good eating too...and if thats true then fishing really will become a new job here.” She added as he nodded agreement.

      “I cant help but think if science people slowed down a bit and thought more before doing things we’d still be back home.” Jake mumbled and her eyes fell and she slowly agreed that might be true. “I don’t care what everybody says...we don’t have the luxury of messing up this time, and I don’t believe that Harris is the only person who should have the say about our lives. People like him caused all this, so how can we just sit back and accept that everything he thinks is going to be true here?” He grumbled and after a second Florence left the bridge and went back to rest a while and while he knew none of this was her fault, he wasn’t about to apologize for having a different opinion.


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      Chapter 10: Face to Face


      It took just 2 hours, like Jake said, and when they docked several researchers were waiting, among them Dr. Harris himself. They grabbed the bag with the new fish in it and ran, screaming at each other all the way, and Jake shook his head sadly and Harris tried not to smile too wide.

      “Once again you out did us all.” Harris said as Jake just huffed and said, so far, he was the only one going out further than they could see.

      “We’ll be finding new things for years to come..mark my words.” Jake said as both Florence and Harris looked surprised. “ I’m willing to bet every few miles something new is waiting out there..new animals new minerals, maybe some we’ve never seen before. Only Time will tell what we really find.”

      “Then our ancestors better like your name.” Harris said as Jake looked oddly at him.” We already voted that the plains outside the base will be called Marchlands...because you were the only one willing to go and see what was there. We dont even know how big it is yet, but every time you go out our maps get better and better. Someday all that land will be explored and part of someone’s back yard, but the main area will always be called Marchland, so better get used to it.” he added looking very smug.

      “If thats the only rule then you might as well give the planet to me...at least this side.” Jake said seriously as both Florence and Harris seemed to step back a bit.” Even after all these weeks, no one goes anywhere that I haven’t mapped...no one...so if seeing it first and naming something new are the only rules, then I’ll be a very well known man until the day we all die.” he mentioned as Harris had to think about that.

      “From now on I want to know everything...all your plans from the day we got here until the last day your have plans for. Because since I’m all you have out exploring, I want to know what you plan on doing with MY discoveries.” Jake demanded as Harris tried to explain that he didn’t have the clearance for that, but Jake reminded him that sneaking around behind people’s backs is how they got here...and he and many others here weren’t ready to live or die on his word alone.

      “You’re a smart guy..” Jake mentioned as everyone nearby got silent.” but you’re NOT infallible, and people like me want in on these decisions, and not just be pawns in your plans. No more hiding things from us, after all we’re the ones making the new world, all you’re doing is sitting back and hoping your plans work. If you want to know about this new world, get in a ship and go see for yourself. If not, that then trust us that do, to do our jobs well.” he declared as he went back inside the ship, and Harris looked like someone kicked him in the gutt, as he turned and went to his office to think about what was said.

      They got some more food and water and backed away and finally Florence mentioned that Jake might have gone overboard a bit on Harris and Jake just stuck his nose in the air and looked upset.

      “No one man can see everything.” he remarked and at that Florence decided that it was too soon to talk anymore, and she took the copilots seat and watched as things went by the glass in the front as they made a turn and started up the left side of the valley, and out onto that side of the new Marchlands Plain again.

      They traveled for half an hour with the mountain on one side and within sight this time and minerals of different types got seen and added to the map, as they went on and Jake knew some lazy person would run out and claim them now that they had been discovered, but cash here didn’t mean much when there really wasn’t anything to buy with it...at least not yet.

      But about 2 hours out there came an alarm, and Jake asked why that was happening and the computer reminded him they set this for special items, and she added a new resource to the map..Uranium ore...and they stopped and scanned it point blank, and it looked like a decent seam.

      “Now THAT I’ll claim.” Jake added as Florence agreed and sent all the info back, and Harris agreed it was theirs for the asking, and Jake got a second claim in his name, and after a few shots with the little missiles, tons of rock fell to the floor below, and they dropped down and vacuumed it up until the ship could hold no more, and started back.

      “Will having Uranium on board make us sick or anything from radiation?” Jake asked as Florence just smiled and said the walls in the cargo area were pretty thick, and Uranium wasn’t that dangerous, it was the refined stuff you had to watch out for, and he agreed even he knew that much and they pulled back into base a few hours later, and every grain of Uranium was swept up and ran to the refinery, because their power supply was in desperate need of fuel rods and this was the first time they ever found anything to use.

      “ We owe you again.” Harris added while on the coms, as Jake agreed saying that they were going to hire someone to mine that for them, and he and Florence were thinking of a long term mapping mission next, and Harris saw that Jake was taking their talk to heart. So he agreed and mentioned that with iron ore and silicon being mined daily now they would soon be making a new set of ships, and they would call them the Explorer Class...and Jake would get the first one.

      “Two to three times bigger than yours, and with more living space inside. Except for food and water you could live in the thing easily.” Harris said with a wink and Jake just nodded and turned to get more supplies and Harris saw he was just as grumpy as ever.

      “You having problems?” He whispered as Florence just smiled and shook her head no.

      “Its all about you.” She whispered and chuckled a bit as she ran to help Jake load their ship with enough supplies for at least a weeks travel, as Dr Harris dropped his head and shook it in disbelief. Things were not supposed to be going this way, so maybe Jake was right...they couldn’t plan ahead and hope for every situation to be in their favor...so the more eyes the better, and he rose Jake’s security clearance substantially and sent him a few files to get started on.




      Chapter 11: Partnership


      When Jake backed away again a message came in and the computer informed him that there were files for him to see, and he smiled and stuck his nose in the air and said: ‘as it should be’ and Florence tried her best not to laugh.

      But Jake had demanded it, and now he was in on many things he had no idea about before. With Florence to help him keep track of things he decided that Harris needed some advise, since much of what he was thinking had little to do with the people trying to get things done.

      He might know the details well, but Harris obviously didn’t know how to motivate people at all. So Jake took that upon himself, first by offering free map upgrades to whoever would use them to add new resources to the base, then advice about the best way to hunt and mine, since he was the only hunter out there yet, and finally he mentioned they saw schools of fish, thousands of them, and someone might want to make that their job, and one young couple agreed that needed looked into.

      Jake even had Florence mention to her friends in Research and Development that they needed a weapon capable of hitting more than one thing at a time, and his idea was more or less a shotgun, only bigger. With something like that they could fire at moving targets and have a decent chance of hitting something, and she was impressed herself that he came up with that, and she sent her ideas back too and they got started on it immediately.

      One idea someone had was an electric net for hunting and fishing. They had proven that the large squid like creatures hunted tiny fish in the kelp forest, and the tiny fish were babies of the larger silver fish they found, now ready to be caught and eaten.They just needed to be able to get more faster and so this new idea took shape.

      The net would float up from weights on the bottom, and be charged electrically from the ship.If the school of fish got close to it then the charge would stun or kill them, and they could gather a lot more faster, and so that become a test for them to try a week later.

      They traveled along watching the sonar and after a while a cloudy figure appeared and Florence mentioned they found a school. It seemed to be moving back and forth in one area, probably looking for food, she said, and they moved in and set up their net close by, and dropped down to the bottom and waited.

      It took a while but some came swimming over, maybe because the net got their attention, or maybe because the little sub was sitting nearby with its light son. Either way maybe 20 or so came swimming over and stopped to look the new over, and a charge hit them and they dropped to the bottom.

      “At least 30 pounds of food there.” Jake said and went out quickly to gather them up. One of the things Jake learned from his demands was that food was still at a minimum, only one large eel had come in and several bags of the cabbage type plants. This stretched their food supply for a month or so, but that too was slowly going down again.

      “Once we get this figured out we need to put this trap onto a ship and order someone to use it.” he said sourly as he loaded the fish into a big bag and Florence agreed they were working on that right now and had a couple in mind for the job. “Well while I’m out here I have an idea.” Jake said and took his knife and cut one fish in half and tied the parts to the net and then went back inside.

      “You’re baiting them?” She asked as he reminded her that sharks could smell blood for miles, and they didn’t have time to travel every single mile checking for new things.

      “Maybe we get lucky.” He hinted and after a while a dozen more fish swam over to check and started eating the bodies hanging there, and then fell to the bottom too. “If this keeps up we’ll get enough to last us a while, and new food for everyone to try.” Jake mentioned as she agreed but just then a beep went off and she turned to look at the sonar, and three fast objects were streaking towards them at high speed.

      Just then one ran in and started tearing at the bait and then another and Florence waited until the last second and charged the net heavily, and three squids dropped to the bottom, and they both cheered.

      “Baiting works..” Florence added and they dropped down to the very bottom and Jake went out to get them and found that two were average sized weighing maybe 50 pounds each but the third was an older one, and it was much larger.

      Jake took another fish and cut it and mounted it too, and after several hours they started back with their new net, and over 400 pounds of fresh food, and Harris looked like someone had lifted the weight of the world off his shoulders,and Jake understood how he felt.

      They had gotten a load of cabbage in just recently and now meat, and after a quick check to be sure they got rushed into the food refinery and out came new and tasty meals combining the two, and the food supply around the base went up again for another week or so.

      “The squids weren’t afraid of the sub at all?” Harris asked as Jake told him they ignored it completely, and that made hunting them a lot easier. “Well this seems to work so now we have something else for you..it’s getting mounted on your ship right now.” Harris mentioned and Jake asked what it was, as another researcher stepped forward.

      “You mentioned something that could kill in a area instead of just one spot before. Then you mentioned something like a shotgun...a smooth bore weapon...but they were never very accurate at range so...we made you something a little different to try.” he added as Jake asked for information and they sat down to talk about it.

      “Not so much a shotgun, think more like a grenade launcher.” he got told as he had to think about that.” Aim using the standard interface and fire. It’ll run out until a certain range is reached, roughly 200 meters, or it hits something, and explodes. The compression will be enough to drop a lot of fish, or anything medium sized thats real close to the explosion. So Hunting just became a new job, if things work as we hope.” he added as Jake nodded seriously thinking about it.

      He asked a few more questions, like changing ammo, and they had it set up on a belt system but they only had a dozen rounds made so far.

      “OK then we’ll let you know.” Jake said and after getting some of the new food on board they were away again, and Harris added all their new info to the maps inside the station and on all the other ships and he hoped a few adventurous souls would get out there and help.


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      Chapter 12: Mapping the Future


      Jake decided they could do more mapping and hunting, they had mapped up each side of the plains a bit, but no one had gone up the center, or tried to ‘connect the dots’ to see what was there.

      They didn’t even know how far it was between those two points and scanners didn’t begin to see that far. So today thats what they decided on...traveling up one side to their furthest point, then turning 90 degrees and starting across to the other side, just to see how far it really was.

      For the first hour they saw the same things, some patches of vegetables on the bottom that they marked on the map, and a few fish, but nothing big. So onward they went until they found another larger patch of plants on the bottom, and a few had flowers on...something they never saw before... so they dropped down and Jake got out, and after looking around for a few minutes he came back in with a bag full of green bulbs of some type and laughed saying the flowering plants had some fruit or vegetables on them, whatever they were.The plants were about a meter tall and woody looking, but had blossoms on them and some green looking things he collected as samples.

      They were all green and oddly shaped but Jake called it in and Florence sent back pics showing them and again the science teams went into overdrive while Jake laughed at them, saying they weren’t coming back anytime soon so they might as well settle down.

      They were willing to give him an argument about it too but he cut them short by closing the link and just laughed at how childish they could be, while Florence looked away smiling to see him exerting his will on them again for fun.

      “We cant stop and go back every time we see something new. If we did it would take generations for us to claim this world, and as I’ve been told...we don’t have the time.” Jake offered as Florence finally agreed, and they went on looking for the other side of the plain and after another hour of travel they found a forest of tall, waving plants many 20-30 meters tall, and they recorded the biggest group of the fiber rich plants they had found yet.

      “Well done...” Harris said when Florence called it in.” I’ll have a team come out and begin harvesting them. Then we can start manufacturing new cloths or other things we’ll need.” He said as she agreed and Jake was told that a second team was on its way, and they waited and gave them the samples they found so far, and then disappeared into the vastness of the plains once again.

      They traveled all day like this, seeing some animals and fish schools, and finally they were sitting in sight of the other wall, and they knew for the first time how far it was between them.

      “It wasn’t a perfectly straight line...” Florence remarked as they recorded their data.” but it seems to be around 800 miles from point to point. Thats a lot of area that still needs explored.” She mentioned as Jake agreed, saying it would take them years to get a good idea about this place and even now other ships added a bit here and there when they came out hunting or mining, and now with things like the kelp forest, they traveled straight out from the base, seeing the areas directly in between.

      “It’ll get done slowly.” He remarked as she agreed.”In a few years we’ll know a lot more about this place, and everyone will have a job that they will think is just as boring as back home.” he said as she laughed and agreed that that was a sure sign of settling anywhere...when life started getting boring again.

      They took a few days and crossed the gap a few times at different angles, and when they finally pulled back in at the base they got a round of applause from everyone saying that they knew enough now about the first few hundred miles out from the base that teams were running wild looking for harvesting things or fishing and hunting, and the base’s supplies were coming up steadily for the first time.

      “We have a 3 month supply of food right now.” Harris said walking up and shaking their hands. “With all the new spots you’ve discovered we’ll not need to worry about food for quite some time, and the research department is finding new things to use those fibrous plants for everyday. Rope for sure, and maybe something like canvas, well see. But either way the base looks like it’ll be OK from now on, so exploring the local area is being called done...or what we scientists call ‘Phase 1‘ compete.” he added as some laughed and Jake and Florence were among them. Even if they didn’t go out any further for a while they found a lot of things they could use, and enough different types of food to keep from getting tired of the same things for a long time to come.

      “And we’re looking into using some of those fiber panels for construction too.” one of the other researchers said as Harris agreed.” The plants have a natural sap that runs out, and with a few other things added it becomes very solid and sticky. It might well be the first glue we have on this planet.” he added as everyone there smiled and agreed that was probably a good thing.

      “If we use those plants to make panels from, then construction will go faster. The first tiny panel we made is just as strong as the natural wood itself, so there’s a ton of things we can use it for already. Maybe for inside walls on our new ships too.” He added as Florence asked if they were starting on any yet, and Harris admitted they started...and stopped... twice now as new things that were better came along.

      “The first ship will be three times bigger than yours is now.” he offered as Jake looked interested.” It can have many times the hauling capacity, and larger more spacious rooms to live in. Very possibly people could travel and live in one for months on end, and if we ever plan on seeing the other bases someday then larger, faster ships will be needed.” he mentioned as Jake looked sad and he got asked why.

      “If we thought of that, how long before Base 2 thinks about it too?” he asked, as eyes dropped all around. They hadn’t heard anything from them since their call offering them free advice and info, so maybe Jake was right, and maybe when they got here they would settle their differences...or not.

      “Make sure every ship has the new grenade launcher installed for hunting.” Jake offered and Harris agreed, and Jake and Florence walked away and Harris added that the new missiles needed finished too, and new tests got started to make sure they too would be ready in time.


      Chapter 13: New Home


      1 year after getting there the first new ships came out of the facility. They were more tall vertically then the little round subs. They looked more like a surface ship from the past with a missile launcher and a deck gun that shot grenades. It had a cargo capacity 4 time bigger than the starter sub and speed that was 10 MPH faster too. If you pushed it you could get almost 70..they said..and it had a large refrigerator inside big enough to keep meat for weeks on end without the risk of spoilage.

      As a matter of fact, one cargo unit was refrigerated for gathering and bringing in food on long trips, and Harris mentioned that even explorers could help keep the food supply going, and Jake agreed.

      They moved into their new ship and Harris assigned their little one to a new crew, and everyone was set.

      “This is the first of a new line..take it out and push it to its limit... we want to know what its capable of.” Harris added as Jake nodded agreement, and he and Florence backed away from the station and turned towards the open plain.

      “I’ll be sending back full telemetry showing everything from power output to speed and cargo capabilities.” Florence said and she went into ‘full on Science Mode’ as Jake just smiled and started pushing the engines as they sped out of the valley and into the open plains. He chose an open path right up the middle, no chance of hills or mountains getting in the way, and as he opened it up info from the ship came rolling back into the base and every detail was getting recorded and checked.

      “Hmm, power consumption at full speed seems higher than we first thought.” One researcher mentioned and that note was taken to be checked later. “ It might be a factor in their overall speed and acceleration.”

      “Cargo refrigeration unit and electrical system operating within specified parameters.” Another mentioned and that was recorded as well.

      “Speed passing 50 MPH and rising...rather slowly.” Got added as they watched and timed their acceleration and it was true, it was a bit slower than they had planned. They ran full out for over an hour and finally Harris called them back in and they turned and started back.

      “Adjust the fluid intake width and get the generator up to speed.” Harris ordered and Jake and Florence got rooms for a day or two while changes and improvements got made. They had the entire station working on it and things got better fast. In three days the ship got faster off the line, and had more electrical power to use doing it. The engines intakes were 4 inches wider than before, and now the fluid rushed through without being constrained in any way.

      The top speed after an hour of acceleration was now 72 MPH instead of 68 like last time, and Harris agreed that this ship was good enough, for now, and it hit the bulletin board as the newest vessel, the official Explorer Class, and many miners and gatherers saw it for the first time and many wanted one.

      “Now you can go out working, things should work fine , but keep an eye on things just to make sure. Some pieces of equipment haven’t been used for days and weeks on end yet, so call if there’s trouble.” Harris mentioned as they backed away again, this time with 2 weeks worth of food and water on board and they made that turn and went out to see what else they could get into.

      With more room and cargo space Florence now had her own little lab, and she worked in there on her own ideas when she got the time. Jake was back out exploring, and when they found anything good they gathered some and slowly the cargo area started to fill.

      They found a large area of the cabbage plants and dropped down and rested on the bottom for a day and gathered until Jake felt too stiff to move. Then they lifted off and rode around for a while as new maps got made back at the station once more.

      They traveled for a while and turned and started back down the left side of the mountain range, they hadn’t gone more than a few miles when an alarm went off and Florence turned to her station and checked to see why.

      “Ore seams along this wall less than a mile ahead. Copper and Iron.” she stated and they went to see. The Copper ore was a nice wide strip along the cliff side 50 feet up from the floor. The Iron ore was high above that on the same cliff and Jake smiled and sent in the info and staked a claim to it that was immediately approved.

      “We need all the Copper we can get, you wouldn’t believe how we had to rig up the electrical system on your new ship without it.” One researcher said as Jake’s mouth dropped and Florence looked away chuckling to herself.

      They moved into position and Jake tried to get a lock on the seam but barely got close enough to do any good, as Florence made him stop and called out loud as the computer answered and the targeting system went into auto mode and a second later the seam was locked.

      “Don’t do everything the hard way...” Florence added as Jake laughed and agreed. They fired a pair of little rockets and some ore broke lose and fell but not very much and even the computer mentioned that this rock wall was pretty hard.

      “Then lets try this...” Jake added and Florence looked surprised as the main gun came online and a grenade went flying and made a substantially larger hole in the wall , and a few tons of ore fell this time , even some shaken lose from above.

      “A larger explosion doing more damage and even shaking the rock wall adding to the collection.” The computer added as Jake just nodded all smiles.

      “Well they did say to try everything, and even the improved missiles aren’t as powerful as these cannon shells.” he mentioned as Florence agreed, and that test was sent back for the researchers to see too. “ You know...” he whispered as she waited and he got a really serious look on his face and for a minute he just sat there staring ahead and she smiled and waited. Some times he got like this and something good usually came from it.

      “What if the detonator was on hold for say half a second? Give the shell a harder tip and let it penetrate the wall a little then explode.” he asked as Florence started to laugh and added that to their report too, and a return message came in a second later.

      “Armor piercing rounds for hunting, are you mad?” Harris asked as Jake said he wasn’t hunting today and if Harris was serious then he should know his new improved mining missiles weren’t strong enough for these hard rock walls, and Harris looked seriously pissed, but he finally agreed they hadn’t gone far enough with the new missiles.

      “Alright then, we’ll improve the missiles for next time, do what you can with what you’ve got.” he declared and the link went closed.

      “See even you can be a scientist from time to time.” Florence mentioned as Jake smiled and whispered not to say such terrible things about him, and she smiled and looked away.


      Chapter 14: New Ore, big Improvements


      They worked for two days and finally Jake decided that they had enough, and they started back a little slower than they came out here, and as they approached a flashing light came on the map and they moved in silently to get unloaded.

      “Boy am I glad to see you.” They heard, as a young woman came on the coms.” I’ve been making wire for construction out of Iron of all things, so I’m really glad someone found some Copper for once.” she added as Jake laughed and said they were glad they could help, and slowly the two tons of Copper ore got dropped into the factory and she cheered for joy that she could finally get that line started after all these months, and Harris chipped in too saying it was going to be a big improvement all around.

      “Iron wire? Really? “ Jake asked as Harris looked very serious and said ‘you use what you have’ and Jake just burst out laughing after a minute. “Probably part of the reason my new ship didn’t quite meet your standards right off the bat huh?” He mentioned as Harris looked away and said he didnt know what he was talking about...and the link went closed.

      “You two get along pretty well.” Florence said, laughing.” Maybe he should be here instead of me.”

      “Eww....” Jake said softly as she burst out laughing again.” don’t even joke about things like that.” And they moved in to another area and dropped a ton of Iron ore too and went to the main station and docked and unloaded some bags of cabbage too and many cheered saying that the new ship was living up to their expectations well, as Jake just shook his head and went to replenish their supplies again.

      “Having more cargo space comes in handy, but it wasn’t the ship that found all this...” he grumped and people that heard him smiled and looked away.

      “They all know it was you..or us...” Florence said smiling,” don’t get your panties in a bunch, people just get tired having to pat someone on the back every day they do something great.” She said seriously and Jake looked a little sad she had to remind him.

      “I know that...” He whispered and walked back towards the ship while some people that heard his comment got a bigger smile from it.

      “We do good work and everyone knows it,” She whispered again as he nodded silently,” don’t let your ego run away with you.”

      “I have no ego...you must be mistaken....” Jake said with his nose up and she got a good laugh from that one as they backed out and went for another load of copper, hoping they’d get enough to repair the electrical system on his ship first.

      And thats the way their lives began. Little things led to big things and children were born on Alpha 1 few months later. Alpha 2 wilted away and died, now an empty station, since their dictator had no clue how to survive on a new world, and Alpha 3 slowly improved and with info sent between them they both got better and stronger.

      One computer on each was set aside for their new History and as the years went by its length grew substantially. Now their ancestors would know that they didn’t evolve here from the start, that a group of people had made a huge mistake and because of that worked for generations to make it right. And that was how their civilization got started, and grew into a powerhouse on this single large world, and someday when they were sure they were ready they would leave for another, then another, and make sure Humanity would never be faced with such a problem again.

      The End


    8. #8
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      Mt next story is about a young man who was sold into slavery by his own father, and his attempts to survive in the great open Universe, alone.


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