FIC: Harvest Quest Chapter 6
Title: Harvest Quest Chapter 6
Characters: Joel/Teegan; Lars; Arvad
Series: Another Life
Joel tightened his hold on Teegan as he slowly woke. The heat on his back had sweat dripping down his body. Blinking, he opened his eyes and suddenly everything became clear. He was back on Earth! Quickly he sat up.
“You are safe. Do not fear.” Lars’s shadow and voice soothed him. The warrior was less than three feet from them sitting on a rock. “We left Gliese in the depth of winter, but it must be summer here.”
“How long have you been awake? Do you feel ill?” Joel remembered his arrival on Gliese. He’d been ill for days. Enoch had been ill even longer.
Lars shook his head. “I emptied the contents of my stomach when I first woke, but since have not felt any ill effects. I’ve been awake an hour or so. I make the assumption that it was harder on those who came from Earth because you were malnourished.
Joel nodded. That made sense to him. By the time he and the others left Earth, hope for any kind of survival had been lost. He laid his hand on Teegan’s chest. The rhythmic rise and fall of his sub’s breathing reassured him.
“Arvad hasn’t woke yet. I moved him to the shade of the rocks. You were protecting Teegan, so I thought it best not to try and move you. The heat is startling after the cold we just left.”
Joel agreed as the sun beat down on them. Slowly, he stood up. The scene around him was mostly desolate browns and tans. But he could see green dotted across the land. He squinted as he looked up. The sky glowed blue and pink; the grey haze of pollution he’d always known was gone. He couldn’t take his eyes from the sky. “It’s so different than what I remember.”
“How so?” Lars asked curiously.
“The sky. It’s not grey. Like all the pollution is gone. The sky had gone grey and dirty before I was born. I can’t believe it cleared up so soon.”
“Time is not constant. It is like a river that twists and turns. Wide in some places, thinner in others. Flowing faster and then pooling to a stand-still. There is no way to tell how much Earth has aged and healed since you left.”
Before Joel could respond, the men heard retching. The link pulsed between Joel and Teegan. Joel could feel rolling nausea that was in Teegan’s stomach. He knelt down and rubbed Teegan’s back. “It’ll be ok. Let it out.” Joel continued to murmur words of comfort.
“Is he ok?” Arvad’s voice was full of concern as he woke.
Joel concentrated on his sub but heard Lars reassure Arvad. When Teegan’s stomach settled, Joel reached into one of the satchels and brought out a flask of water. Joel could feel the coldness of the water as Teegan drank greedily. He knew they’d have to be cautious with the limited amount of water they had. He glanced over and saw Lars offering Arvad a flask as well.
Looking back over the barren landscape, Joel made a decision. “We’ll set a camp here. Rest the night, then start fresh in the morning.”
“We’ve only seven days supplies,” Teegan argued sitting up. “We should set out.”
“I know. But the sun is setting.”
Lars interrupted. “We know not of the dangers. Joel is correct. We’ll set camp for the night. I’ll make a safe perimeter. We’d be refreshed to start out in the morning.”
“We don’t even know where we are going!” Teegan began. Then he looked from Lars to Joel and took a calming breath. Joel knew the discipline the night before had settled his sub. Through their link, he could feel the slight discomfort as Teegan sat up. The warmth on his butt helped the sub to compose himself. Joel smiled to himself in relief. Never again would he hide his dominance.
“I do.” Arvad’s quiet announcement gained the attention of the other three. He wiped sweat from his forehead. “Or I think I do. If the stories are true.”
“Let’s make camp. Then you can tell us of what you know.” Lars pointed to a large outcrop of boulders. “We’ll settle the night there. The rocks will protect one side. If you’ll assist me, we can make spears that are activated should anyone step on them.”
“I thought everyone had died.” Joel remembered his first days on Gliese. Archer and Ryder had told him that only the ones who had been transported to that planet had survived. That all life on Earth was gone.
“Yes, but we don’t know how long ago that was. If new creatures have arisen. Or if those from other planets have decided to colonize here. Safety is always the primary factor.”
Joel nodded. Lars was a warrior. Undoubtedly, whatever had decided on this group of four had chosen him as their protector.
The men gathered their belongings and carried them to the rocks. Lars instructed them to gather long sticks as they walked. Setting everything down, the warrior instructed them on how to whittle the sticks. One side was to be sharped while the other side was bent. Lars explained how he would bury the sticks under the sandy dirt. If an intruder was to step on the sticks, the spear would spring up and impale them.
“Depending on the height of the intruder, the spear will enter their legs and disable them,” Lars explained.
By the time the camp was prepared, the sun was setting, painting the sky a dusky purple. But the spears were made and buried. A campfire was built; a cooking pot hanging above heating their evening meal. They’d settled down to hear what Arvad had to say.
“For six generations, a story had been told in my family. Every night the same story was told and committed to memory. I thought it was just that-a story. But to please my parents, I memorized it until I could repeat it back without prompt. I’ve not been asked to repeat it in years.” Arvad took a sip of water and leaned back.
Joel knew the grief he was feeling at the loss of his family. Memories of ones lost gripped the heart unmercifully.
Arvad took a breath and continued. “A long time ago one of my relatives was a scientist. He was part of a team that was studying the changes the Earth was going through. He and several others thought that our planet wouldn’t recover. They knew of the seed banks. Places that many countries had stored seeds and DNA. Countries that believed that once the worse was over, they could rebuild. Grow food again. Replenish the forest, the animals to what they once were. Wars were fought over resources.” Taking another sip of water, Arvad tried to banish the memories of the cruelty that spread over the world. “The team that my relative was part of decided to raid the seed banks. By that time, so many had lost their lives. The earth’s population was a fraction of what it had once been. Once they reached the vaults, they could see that others had already been there. But there were no more nutrients left in the soil. So nothing would grow.”
Joel nodded his head. He had studied every book he could find on alternative farming methods. The soil on the farm his family had owned had turned to sand years before he was born. They were able to coax a few root vegetables, but not enough to save them. Never enough. Of anything.
“There were still some locked containers in the lower levels. My relative and those in his team took them. They wanted to protect them. They knew that the seeds wouldn’t grow, but they felt compelled to save what had once provided life to millions. They took them far away and buried them.”
“How will we find them?” Teegan asked.
Joel could feel Teegan’s worry flow through his own veins. He didn’t know if it was his own concern or that of his sub as their link was always flowing through them. The Earth was enormous. Where would they even start?
“I don’t know,” Arvad admitted. “The seeds are said to be buried in indestructible containers near an underground spring. A spring that quenched the thirst of soldiers in a long-ago war. The spring ran under their battlefield. When night came upon them a couple of young soldiers found the spring in a cave. The legend told that the two young soldiers saved their battalion by leading them to the water.”
Defeat seeped into Joel. He looked at his sub and knew that the defeat he felt came from Teegan. He lifted his eyes and met those of Lars.
“The stars wouldn’t have sent us here if failure was the only possibility. We’ll find it. Let us eat and rest tonight. We’ll start in the morning.”
End chapter 6
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