Wan moved with the grace of a well oiled tractor. In fact, some of the seasoned engineers at Massey Ferguson would have taken offence at having their machinery compared to such disharmony.

As he walked to the collector, his pace was so erratic his left hand swung forward as his left foot stepped ahead. He often did a quick ‘change your step’ maneuver to correct it.  He was in grey overalls as he was every day of the week. It reduced decision fatigue saving it for a more important thought process; Improved efficiency for better efficacy.

He tilted his collection pod as the mother ship activated the Neset process. A red line on the pod indicated it was dangerously full. He connected it with care; each drop was at least 10 picahertz of computing power.

The Neset process never failed to fascinate. First he connected the collection pod full of devites to the turbine hose. The devites, creatures from Planet Harses, looked more like 50 caliber bullets than any living thing from earth. Years of isolation had bred them for one thing: speed. Powerful fins on their thick rear end made them able to move at 10000 miles per hour in water and its equivalents. Now Wan harnessed that power, creating an electromagnetic pulse at the top of the pod that attracted them.

The devites kicked up a storm. He had a hundred or so at the moment. Their force made the turbine turn and the second processor hummed to life. A drill icon started to blink on the pilot’s screen as the processor went into full throttle.

He adjusted the pilot’s seat as the Segcoin counter blinked. By its side was a Bitcoin and Dollar converter. The second one’s clock ran much faster than the first but both faster than the Segcoin meter. He minimized the screen and switched on a Ninja Warrior rerun.

The room doors slid open and Clive sauntered in. He stopped to check his reflection on the glass. He adjusted his hair slightly although he’d made no effort to comb it. He then straightened his black, bomber jacket before plopping on the co pilot seat with the air of celebrity in a VIP lounge.

Wan shot him a look of contempt. “Many people suffer from back problems in their older years because of improper sitting posture.”

“Thankfully, I’m not most people.” Clive shot back. He adjusted his jeans by their crotch. Wan focused on his counter until it was halfway complete.

“What are your tallies for today Clive?”

“I might have had some trouble but there’s tomorrow. It’s about getting as many as you can and learning better ways of harvesting. You know,” he smiled sheepishly.

“I’m aware that intrinsic reward improves production for cognitive tasks but how much did you collect?”

“Doing your best and not comparing yourself to the rest is the cornerstone of success.”

“Those are words used in defeat.”

“10000”

“10000 Segcoins? That’s good.”

“10000 Bitcoins.” Clive corrected.

“That’s it?”

Clive hunched his shoulders.

“How?”

“I think maybe my scanner wasn’t working well, I don’t think I can locate them as quickly as you do.”

“What do you mean isn’t functioning it was recalibrated last week.”

“Well I’m not too sure I’ll check up on it later.”

“Later? Clive, you know better than me the cost of such an operation. We need to at least achieve our daily targets.”

Clive’s hands pressed together his index fingers beating against each other.

“I don’t believe this.” Wan continued, “We switched sides to give you the better field. You know what, I want to see it.”

“See what?”  Clive asked straightening up.

“See it, the field.” Wan said. He punched coordinates into the astro projector.

“That’s unnecessary, what you don’t trust me Wan?”

Clive moved to him but Wan raised his hand at him forcing him to stop. Without option, Clive too switched on his astro projector and their two images were projected onto the Western hemisphere of Planet Harses.

The pair appeared above continent’s beach. To the horizons they were met by nothing but water and dry rock.

“See nothing,” Clive said.

“Wait, let’s take a closer look,” Wan teleported them again.

Their images reappeared at Dazniz bay and at once were blurred by the electromagnetic currents generated by a shoal of Devites swimming through.

The shoal blocked the light of Arseli major, the planet’s star; two times larger than the sun on a planet half the distance earth was.

“What in a thruster’s name…, Are you seeing this Clive?  This is more than the Killjoy harvest of 2556. This is. This has to be a new record.”

“I know,” came the somber reply.

Wan caught his partner’s face, “hold on there, you were aware of this weren’t you. This whole time while you’ve been bringing in a harvester’s shame and making jokes to save face, you’ve known about this place haven’t you.”

Clive deactivated the projectors bringing them back into the ship. Wan was in front of him before he could storm off to his quarters.

“If you haven’t been scouting this place then where are we getting all our processing power from?”

“From me.”

“What.”

“I found a way. I could show you”

“What? That doesn’t explain why you aren’t harvesting the creatures.”

“It’s not our planet Wan! We came here and now we’re taking them for a process that in the long run could lead to their extinction. I don’t like it and I don’t want to be a part of it.”

“What do you mean you don’t like it? This is natural selection in action if their population gets too low then we would start a breeding program they are too valuable to let them stay like that.”

“That’s my whole point, we choose. Why us? We come to a different galaxy, collect a species for whatever we want, and subject it to the Neset process that works them to death. I mean its even splitting nations on earth, could define the next election.”

“Those decisions haven’t been made yet and that’s that. Restart the process computer.” he said looking at the space ship’s front control. “And get over it Clive, it’s time you finally did your share of the lifting.”

“Cease operation computer,” Clive said to the mother ship, and its process stopped.

“Switch to hibernation mode CL122,” Wan said to Clive. At once Clive stiffened. In spite his resistance his eyes lowered as his power dimmed. “Don’t forget who the human here is.” Wan yelled.

Power fading, voice stuttering, Clive groaned, “don’t forget who is programmed to be humane.”

 

One thought on “Humanity for One

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