First to Last Drop
A Military SF Story by painebook
"One four niner niner on final approach." The voice of the pilot crackled over the command net. Dexter could hear the broadcast through his helmet speakers. He was near the back of the C-181 Super Lifter. He looked around at the other 400 airborne troopers seated in eight rows of 50 in the cavernous hold of the aircraft. More than half of them were asleep, waiting for the mission to begin. The bay was bathed in a blue light, signifying normal flight operations. The light changed to yellow as the jumpmaster yelled, "Three minutes!" and held up three fingers, in case anyone's communications failed.
Dexter's section member Annabelle leaned over. "We've come a long way from the crèche, haven't we?" she laughed. She yelled in his ear, "San Francisco, here we come!"
Trying not to throw up as the lifter descended to drop altitude like an amusement park ride, Dexter frowned at her. "This isn't funny." He thought back to his childhood.
Both of Dexter's parents worked at the Corvis Foundation, a mega-corporation that controlled much of California. When the Cocoa Plague designed to destroy the drug cartel's production of cocaine mutated, all chlorophyll producing plants were infected. The resulting famine killed billions of people worldwide, and the resulting anarchy had only recently been reversed.
The Corvis Foundation was a mega-company that specialized in software and research and development. It converted all its efforts from computer systems to propulsion and came up with a prototype plasma engine. The engine was simple and had a high lift capability. It was easy to assemble and operated on liquid hydrogen. In exchange for a tax-exempt status for the next 100 years, the foundation offered its design to the New United States Government (NUS), which immediately put it into production.
The new plasma engines lifted farming platforms into space. The first platform was nine square miles of flat surface on each side, surrounded by a globe made of clear plasteel. It took forty new plasma drives to lift it into low earth orbit. It was opened to space, sterilizing the soil and the interior. Replacement engines, globes of sea water, fertilizer and atmosphere generators were launched to rendezvous with the platform. Seeds from unaffected crops were shipped under heavy guard from sterile facilities and shipped to the platform.
Spinning slowly on its axis, it went through day and night cycles. Ten days after the first platform was seeded, sprouts appeared. Soon, platforms were producing much needed food for the staring survivors of the plague. NUS controlled the distribution of the food.
Steven Corvis set up assembly lines in Northern California and Oregon. He kept all the software patents that operated the plasma engines. The New US Army and a private security force protected his operations. The government provided him food and the electricity he needed to run his factories. He became the richest and most powerful man in the world overnight.
People flocked to California. Those who worked for Corvis got enough food to survive. In exchange, they produced and maintained the technology for every computer-controlled device in the world and in space.
Dexter was born in San Francisco the tenth year after the plague. Enrolled in playschool at age three, Dexter met Annabelle, a big, strong, six-year-old who was the crèche bully. She regularly beat up the other children, but had a special attraction for Dexter. She learned how to push him into a rage, and then stand back and watch as he went berserk, attacking other children. She enjoyed watching him being severely punished by the staff.
YOU ARE READING
Tevun-Krus #49 - Best of 2K17Science Fiction
Well, we here at Tevun-Krus have been doin' this sort of thing since 2014. What is "this sort of thing"? Best-Of issues, of course! And 2K17 is no different-- That's a lie! Best of 2K17 is different, in that this time we wanted* to bring you 38 bran...