Within a month of the arrival of ENS Divine Scepter at planet Genesis in 2181 CE, the third generation of human survivors from Earth are building the new capital city. ArcGeneral Thomas Hastings has persuaded High Chancellor Hayes to appoint Jethro Hodge as Director of Building Operations. Hodge and his teams of architects and engineers have toiled over plans created by a previous generation of experts for the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors of the capital. Since the surveys of the actual site are complete, they now have finalized the plans.
On this day, Hodge is supervising the completion of temporary quarters for the hundreds of workers, on the edge of the site, adjacent to the levelled landing area. Crews have drilled wells to tap into the abundant underground spring water, purified by systems transported down to the surface. A prefabricated building nearest the landing area houses Hodge, the lead engineers and architects, and their offices. In the center is a fully equipped conference area, allowing for easily arranged meetings. The Director’s colleagues have dubbed the entire area, Jethroville, and the HQ building, Hodge House. Hodge himself feigns annoyance, but is quietly pleased.
“Sir! Director Hodge! You must come at once!” Turning his swivel chair away from the screens he was studying behind his desk, Hodge saw his assistant, Tanya Sablicksen, just inside the door. The urgency in her voice prompted him to quit his chair and move quickly towards her. She is breathing hard and mopping her face of dust and perspiration.
“Tanya, calm yourself,” he replies, in his soft-spoken way. Jethro is an academic by training and isn’t given to emotional outbursts. Yet, he knows it must be a serious matter to get Tanya stirred up. Within seconds she has her breathing under control.
“Sir, there are several large beasts that just emerged from the jungle. The men driving the heavy dozers nearby stopped their work. They don’t know what to do, but they are prepared to fire on them if they attack.”
Wordlessly, Hodge grabs his hat hanging near the door and breaks into a trot as Sablicksen sprints to keep up with his long strides. The original landing teams had noted the existence of large beasts, but there has been no contact and therefore, nothing is known about them. The safety of the crews is his direct responsibility, so he has to deal with this.
Tanya has managed to stuff her blond mane back under her hat by the time she catches up to her boss. She is his eyes and ears around the capital city site and she needs to do her job effectively to justify his confidence in her. She points him in the right direction and they cover the ground in silence. Sablicksen, in her mid-twenties, had been Hodge’s intern while still aboard Scepter.
Five minutes later, they are in sight of the location and see that the big dozers have formed a defensive circle in case the beasts decide to attack. Hodge is already in communication with the lead driver through their mobile comm units.
“Jackson, how many are there? I don’t have a clear view from here.”
“There are four of the scariest beasts I’ve ever seen, at the edge of the clearing, Director, but there’s no telling if there’s more waiting nearby out of sight.”
Relieved there was no contact yet, Jethro slows his pace to a fast walk, not wanting to spook whatever was out there. As far as they know from the landing parties’ reports, there are no sentient lifeforms on Genesis, but if these specimens are self-aware and intelligent, there is a chance for communication with them. Sentient or not, Hodge is hoping for a peaceful resolution. He would rather not have to request a complement of heavily-armed marines to guard the site. Only the Gods know what that would cost in blood and lost time.
“Fair enough. Jackson, keep your firearms handy, but out of sight. If there’s trouble, I don’t want us to start it. Just sit tight until Tanya and I arrive.”
“Understood, sir.” The other four drivers respond in kind. Jackson had never seen anything quite like these creatures. They are huge, close to ten feet tall and have shiny black exoskeletons. Standing upright, they have four arms adorned with giant sword-like blades, as are their legs and torsos. Jackson shudders with dread as he studies their single-eyed heads with bony crests that stretch backwards – like the mythical dinosaurs on prehistoric Earth. At least, that’s what his teachers on Scepter taught him as a schoolboy.
What are these creatures? Watch for the next episode!