Chapter 5

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The Swarm destroyed any life they encountered. Energy extracted from the consumption allowed them to replicate themselves and continue their deadly purpose, but for only a finite number of generations.

The Swarm reported back to the Legion. This life was different than anticipated by the programming, less palatable, and it slowed their destructive progress.

But even slowed, the Swarm cleansed the area. Their task completed, the remaining Swarm perished alongside their hosts, and the Legion returned to sleep.

********

[Gan]

Mora helped me into the hovercar and graciously offered to retrieve my bags. I only had two, one with clothes and personal items, and the other with some of the tools of my trade. What else I brought with me would come down later, modest as it was though. I wanted to make as complete a break from my former home as I could so I brought little with me. She came back with my worn out bags and five crates of the buzzing critters stacked on a power cart.

I felt bad not helping her load, but I was in no shape to do that right now. I literally weighed almost four times as much as I did over the last twelve years. My body felt like it was made of stone.

Once she hefted the items into the back of the car she jumped in beside me, shook her hair back, and flashed me a smile.

"Hungry? We could go by the dining hall."

I nodded. "I am, and I am so looking forward to some real food rather than that synthetic stuff they have on the ark."

"Well, some would argue as to whether we have real food here or not, but I will let you be the judge. Food selections are still limited here."

She engaged the hovercar and took off in manual, kicking up a small cloud of dust behind us. Within a few minutes, we arrived at a very impressive dome building, the original habitat if I was not mistaken. She parked well away from any other vehicle or building. A wise precaution I think when hauling thousands of bees.

I felt better already and ventured inside on my own power. The dome bristled with activity. I understood there were only a few hundred or so humans on the planet surface at the moment, but it seemed most of them were here. Soon there would be many more.

I halted as we passed a large window that looked out over a vista of grassy hills dotted with flowers and forested valleys. Puffy clouds drifted across the sky. Not at all alien, rather as scenic as any on Earth, at least those not spoiled by greedy development. The pictures I viewed before had not done it justice. This was a big part of why I came here. She walked a few steps on, but then came back when she realized I stopped.

"Spectacular, isn't it?"

I could only nod. Paradise.

The food selections were limited as she implied: a vegetable protein burger, sautéed potatoes with mixed vegetables, and a fruit salad. I took some of each.

"Well, what do you think?"

I held up a finger as I finished chewing a bite too big. "This is good. Perhaps my expectations were lowered by what I had before, but I am enjoying this."

She nodded, holding her cup of tea. "That may be a good philosophy for some things here."

My hunger sated, we walked back to the hovercar. As I approached one of those stinging menaces buzzed my head. On instinct, I recoiled and ducked away, and probably put on much more of a show than I should.

She almost giggled. "Do you have a thing against bees?"

I sighed as I sat down. She still looked my way awaiting an answer. "Let's just say stinging insects and I do not get along very well. It comes from an incident in my childhood when I poked around in a hive with a stick. Not to be recommended, by the way."

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