Read Harvester 7 Online

Authors: Andy Lang

Tags: #space exploration, #space battles, #sci fi action adventure, #alien diplomacy, #space fleets, #alien civilizations, #spaceship and deep space, #alien action adventure

Harvester 7

BOOK: Harvester 7
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Harvester
7

The
introduction to the "Rise of the Kressa" Trilogy

 

Andy
Lang

 

 

Copyright
Layout Copyright (C) 2015 by
PMO Publishing.
Published 2015 by
PMO Publishing.
eBook
design by
PMO
Publishing.
Cover art by Andy
Lang
.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are the product of the authors imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without the authors permission.

Chapter 1

For over seven
hundred and fifty years the harvesters had been voyaging into deep
space, but each journey was becoming longer and more dangerous
because suitable planets were getting fewer and more difficult for
the scouts to discover. Terrillia was a dying planet and nothing
could be done to prevent the inevitable.

Only in the
central archives could be found records of how the world had once
been, but the beautiful liquid methane oceans had long been
depleted, now barren and featureless deserts, the lush crystalline
forests were long gone and all other forms of life had been hunted
and harvested beyond the point of extinction. Only the Territes
remained on their desolate world.

Maulik entered
Harvester Command, he hadn't been summoned there, he simply wanted
to check out the coordinates for the next mission. Command had a
habit of keeping even the most senior pilots in the dark, which
meant that crew morale was low and discontent rife, each mission
was further into hostile sectors, each mission further than
implied, three months estimated usually meant six to nine months
actual.

He didn't mind
the distance or duration and actually relished the longer missions,
they satisfied his urge for exploration. For over seventy years he
had been applying to get a scout pilots licence, there was the real
action and adventure, true there was also the risk but it paled
when compared to the sights he would see, the new worlds, the new
sensations, the responsibility. If he attained the coveted
exploration licence he would be free to wander where his
adventurous spirit took him, he would set his own coordinates, the
days of schedules and pre-plotted courses and quotas would be gone,
he would have the fate of his species continuation in his
hands.

He had
responsibility of course, he was master of a two hundred million
ton Harvester, Harvester 7. That was two hundred million tons
unloaded, on the return trip the gross weight would be almost
triple, his job was vital to the survival of his people, but he
just couldn't escape the feeling that he should be out there
finding food, not simply harvesting and transporting.

"So where are
you sending me next?" his mind connected with the central
commander, Commander Trulek didn't move, his head nodded slightly
as he sent his reply.

"Come on, you
know the protocol, I can't give you that information until you have
left dock and are waiting at the jump gate."

Maulik smiled,
"And you know how curious I always am, come on, just a hint, I'm
the only pilot you have who doesn't care how far, or how long."

"You just want
me to lose my commission!" Trulek gave a mental grin before
continuing, "Far my friend, farther than you have been before,
almost uncharted space."

Maulik began
to question but was cut short by the mental block as Trulek's mind
closed to him.

"So I guess
that's all I'm getting then?"

The commander
turned and made eye contact for the first time.

"That's all,
but I can say that this trip was made for you, success might just
get you a scout licence."

With a blink
of his mirrored eyes the connection was cut and Maulik understood
that the conversation was over, but he didn't complain, that was
more information than he had ever managed to glean before and the
suggestion that completion could earn him an upgraded licence fed
his dreams.

***

Each short
visit to the planet’s surface left Maulik feeling depressed and
saddened, what his people had done to their home sickened him but
that had been three generations before his hatching, the billions
of Territes were now forced to live inside protective shields. The
once perfect methane atmosphere had been almost completely depleted
leaving only a toxic mix of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen. His
ancestors had a great deal to answer for, their abuse of the planet
had allowed a violently poisonous layer of ozone to form around the
planet blocking vital radiation and destroying all life below a
level 6 classification.

Territes were
of course level 8, they were the superior beings, top of the food
chain. Level 8 was clearly defined, as were levels 1 to 4, L1
covered bacteria and single celled organisms through to L4 which
encompassed sentient beings, considered sentient because although
they displayed a low level of intelligence they understood threat,
they had fight or flight instincts, it had even been rumoured that
they may even be able to sense pain.

Those
classifications were clear cut and beyond debate or dispute, but
then came levels 5 and 6.

L5 displayed
social activity and interaction beyond herding instincts and the
urge to reproduce, Level 6 was a very grey area, it covered a
multitude of possibilities. L6 life forms displayed problem solving
abilities, in some cases they could almost be considered as
civilizations, practising construction, performing complex
interactions.

L6 had
stimulated heated debate in the Senate, many were campaigning
against the harvesting of L6 organisms on distant worlds but
shortages on Terrillia had swung the vote, L6 harvesting would
continue.

In an effort
to clarify and end the constant debate L6 had been classified as
organisms that had not developed to the point of interstellar
travel, this ruling was decreed final and the debate died a slow
death. The protests dwindled to zero as hard facts were laid out to
the populous.

L6
harvesting... or starvation and extra restrictions on
reproduction.

The official
statement had been sufficient to silence all but a handful of
hardened activists, the status quo was maintained and all scouts
and harvester masters had their orders, for the good of Terrillia
the harvest would continue.

***

For Maulik the
debate was moot, he had no real feelings or opinions on the
subject, he followed orders and the rules, the decisions fell to
the scouts and the Senate, each new world discovered was studied
and mapped, they were thorough, harvesting was only approved after
months of careful planning and discussion.

As he waited
for the next transport from the city centre out to the docking port
where his harvester awaited orders to depart his mind wandered to
the ultimatum presented to the population, hunger wasn't an issue
for him, as a harvester master he was used to an abundance of food,
and his food was usually fresh, his command crew had their choice
before the harvested protein was processed and dried for the long
trip home, it never tasted quite the same after reconstitution and
for many he was the subject of great envy.

Reproduction
was no issue either, he had no immediate interest in continuing his
genetic line, his samples were stored safely in the genobank, if
his existence was suddenly terminated he was assured by his rank
that within weeks he would be cloned and almost ready to hatch
again, all his clone would be missing would be his most recent
memories and age.

"I must remember to download my memories before I leave," he
reminded himself, thus ensuring his new self would be conscious of
everything current happening in his life. Quite why many Territes
wanted to have their clones in existence while they still lived was
a mystery to him, and not just one clone, many wanted two or three,
such vanity and indulgence. They used the
old ways
as an excuse, but the old
ways had gone forever and the days of actual breeding were a
distant memory.

Possibly the
dangerous ozone had done his race a favour, there lingered no
longer the risk of genetic imperfection. When it was discovered
that fertility rates had dropped to virtually zero the scientists
had stepped in and taken cloning to the next level.

Continuation of the species
it had
been called, but Maulik had other ideas, he had toyed with the
concept that maybe the Senate had been behind the mass infertility.
Atmospheric degradation had led to a dramatic rise in genetic
abnormalities, younglings hatched with brown skin rather than the
natural silver, hatchlings began to emerge with more fingers and
toes, sometimes as many as five on either hand and foot, and the
eyes formed without the protective mirrored membrane, disgusting to
behold, no reflection just an exposed pupil.

Suddenly the hatching stopped,
Ozone
is to blame,
was the official line. Maulik
didn't doubt that the noxious gas had played it's part but the
sudden planet wide sterility seemed just a little too convenient,
but who was he to question the actions of the Senate, they had the
interests of his people at heart and sometimes the masses benefited
from a little forced guidance.

The transport
arrived and he placed the two fingers of his left hand on the
console, a bright green laser scanned his imprint and he was
prompted for a destination. Maintaining his finger contact he
pictured Harvester 7 in his mind and with the slightest electrical
whir the pod slipped away floating just above the ground as it
whisked him towards his waiting ship.

With minutes
to spare he allowed his mind to wander again, cloning had been an
excellent solution he decided, why not continue his line with a
perfect copy of himself? The copy being even better in many ways,
when he had given his sample at the genobank he had been scanned
for any imperfections, of course none had been found but if by
chance an error had been detected corrections would be made at a
genetic level ensuring his next self would be closer to perfection.
Cloning had also arrested the rampant reproductive urges of his
people, which he had to admit when he watched archive footage had
been completely out of control in the bad old days, now
continuation had become reserved for the most valued members of
society, and for almost five hundred years the population had
remained steady at around twenty eight billion. It was a manageable
number in the eyes of the Senate, a number that could be maintained
with current harvester numbers, yet he had heard rumours that
things were beginning to get tight. Every suitable system within
three months FTL travel was now stripped bare, a century before he
remembered how as a fresh recruit he had witnessed selective
harvesting, levels 1 to 4 were processed but not in such numbers
that damaged the ecosystem of the host world, a world that was left
then for years to re-populate. But greed and lazy harvester masters
had contributed to their current dilemma, too idle to harvest
several worlds on each trip they had avoided the weeks and months
of travel and filled their holds with the life of entire planets
leaving them dead and desolate. Their reward was always bonus
credits for speedy turnarounds, too late came the scouts reports,
the damage had been done and now only deep space offered the
supplies of protein so desperately needed on Terrillia.

Maulik studied the desolation outside the transport pod
window as he was carried beyond the city shields and out into the
wastelands that surrounded Terrus Major Space Port, he found it
difficult to imagine how the landscape had once looked, Terrus
Major had once been surrounded by a vast methane lake teeming with
life, now all that remained was barren space dotted with rippling
pools of water, the liquid had begun to form as the oxygen and
hydrogen levels had risen. Water, a very dangerous fluid and one of
the main reasons very few ever ventured beyond the protective
shields, even wearing silicon safety skin it had a habit of finding
its way through the seams and burned deep into the flesh, he
shuddered at the thought and tried to focus on the mission ahead.
Shortening his vision he concentrated on his own reflection in the
glass, he was in the prime of life, his smooth sliver skin glowed
with health and his slender physique clearly displayed his status.
As with all high status citizens he had no muscle mass and his long
arms were suitably thin, his was a life of button pushing, a life
lived within his quick mind, he would never suffer the indignity of
manual labour. He had a fair number of "
manuals
" as they were named under
his command but he only witnessed them on his periodic tours of the
ship, they were confined to the vast holds, out of sight, out of
mind.

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