Will Phoenix

Starsmine

“So, this is the place?”



“Yes, according to the coordinates. And if it isn’t, I’m not going back to frozen sleep until it’s harvested.”

Drum stood with his colleague Bell in the bridge of his Starsmine ship, gazing through a screen at a yellow star; a beacon of light much brighter than its brethren in the sky. The faint bubble of the heliosphere was highlighted in the screen, and they would shortly enter it.

“Well, time to get to work. Tell the boys in the harvester to warm up the Machine. We’ll jet past this system back to the Hives by slingshotting. We’ll get fuel from the star as it’s harvested.”



“Uhhh, Drum?”

“What now Bell?”

“There are planets. A gas giant, but there are two terrestrials in the habitable zone.”



Drum refrained himself from cursing, although Bell heard a grunt escape Drum’s mouth.



“Why does this always happen? Are we that unlucky?”



“Apparently. The Creator seems to dislike us. Personally I think its true, keeping in mind what our job is…”



“Please don’t start with the Keeper philosophy. You know how Starsmine thinks of that. Plus I’m not sure we need to hear crew hear how their leaders question their sole mission.”



“Of course… I’ll tell everyone to start readying up and to survey those planets. We still have a couple of months before we have to face that problem.”



“Keep me informed.”




The harvester ship of the Starsmine Corporation flew at a significant fraction of lightspeed towards the system POS-29103. Automated systems and living crew woke up from the slumber of the interstellar travel.

While the crew slowly recovering from their hibernation, the spaceship itself was ready within seconds of turning on. Automatic telescopes were quick to gather as much data of the system and it’s planets as they could. The onboard computer swiftly calculated an ideal path for the ship to follow, to minimize the amount of fuel used but allowing for an easy harvesting.

And as Starsmine protocol commanded, the ship sent two probes to each of the potentially habitable planets.

Twin hydrogen fueled rockets accelerate towards both planets, each carrying a small surveyor robot.

“Drum?”



“Hello Tris”



“We’ve got the data and some images from the probes to the planets.”



“About time. We’re behind schedule on the preparations.”

 Drum sipped his drink in his cramped office. Tris stood by the door, leaned against a wall, knowing both would be more comfortable with only one person in the utilitarian room.



“So,” Said Drum “What do the report say? Is there life?”

“I’m afraid so. The first of the planets has complex sea life and some land grasses. None sentient”


“Well, that’s good. And the other?”



“Well…”

 Drum raised an eyebrow at Tris’ hesitance.



“So there’s life and possibly sentient?”



“Erm… yes. Long story short a medieval civilization of aliens destroyed the probe”



“Shit. Well, you know the drill. Tell the tech team to ready up the shuttles and-“



“Drum” She interrupted” May I ask something?”



Drum noticed that Tris had begun to shift in her place. After years of being in the same crew he had learned something may be up. He nodded.



“Y’know, we could always lie. We could report to Starsmine that there was no life in the planet. It would be better for us, avoid paperwork and not putting stains in the Company’s reputation.”



Drum absentmindedly looked away from Tris and to a picture of a beautiful verdant planet taken from space.



“True, we could do that…” He said with a cracked voice ”But I’m not sure I can stomach the weight of such genocide.”

The Starsmine Company ship flew out of the Oort Cloud and into the system, its main thruster offline as it followed the instructions of very precise calculations. The star they were after was visibly becoming a disk as they got near.

The automated systems unfurled the radiator panels to avoid overheat by the sun’s light. The crew inside considered turning off the fusion reactor at the core of the ship, but decided against it, considering the maneuver too dangerous.

To the side of the ship, two of four automated shuttles detached themselves and activated their thrusters, accelerating until their orbits were just right for a rendezvous with the planets.



Shuttle 01 landed in the closest planet to the sun, a hot planet with most of its surface covered in water. It chose a lagoon as a place to land, as it would be easy to recover fuel by electrolysis. During the time it was on the planet, it deployed multiple drones, rovers and scientific equipment to try to learn as much from it before the body was rendered uninhabitable by the harvesting. Just hours before it was time to take off, the shuttle’s robots gathered a small amount of local flora and fauna, securing them in alien containment terrariums, and lifted off back to the ship

.

Shuttle 02 meanwhile spent more time traveling than its sibling to a green planet covered in a canopy of trees. It eventually touched down in a lake, near the structures of the native sapients. It did similar actions to its sibling, but had a different mission regarding the denizens of the planet.



Once it had secured a small sample of the biosphere, the shuttle released three tripod vessels, each with 2 robotic arms and armored against kinetic weapons. These tripods proceeded to go to the native’s structures, and capture about a dozen sentients. They were met with resistance, but the tripods easily shrugged it off. 

The tripods released their payload two the shuttle, and with the cargo secured, both shuttles took off, meeting with the main ship after days of voyage through the void.

Unfinished

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License