On the fourth planet of a red sun was fertile land with lush vegetation. Teaming oceans filled with aquatic animals. All life centered on the warmth of Buzi, the water, both fresh and salt, soil, and the tillers.
The oceans, rivers and streams developed life similar to all other planets with similar atmosphere and abundance of water and land.
On land the vegetation grew giving life to all other forms of life. Insects crawled and buzzed. Herbivores ate the vegetation. Predators: reptilian, avian, mammalian and other types feasted on the plants, insects, and herbivores and each other. Primates, the apex predators, lived off all the abundance.
There were three types of primates. The hairy Prails stood around five to six feet in height. They had hands with apposable thumbs making them capable of using tools. They discovered fire and its use. They built houses to live in, married and had families. They had no tails. The four to five-foot, smooth skinned Drails were hunters. Their arms ended in sharp ivory spikes. The males were round with a sharp point, used for stabbing their prey. The females were thin with a sharp edge used for skinning, slicing, dicing and chopping their food.
The Prails and Drails fought over the sources of food for centuries. The Prails used tools such as bows and arrows, spear and clubs. The Drails were deadly with their ivory arms. The Grails or tillers were left alone. Other predator animals culled their ranks, but the Prails and Drails left them alone. The tillers made all land life possible. The nutrients in their tails made the soil fertile.
The six to seven-foot tall Grails didn’t eat or drink. Their skin absorbs moisture and they feast on the nutrients in the soil they till. They were covered in a thick coat of smooth hair, not like the course, curly fur of the Prails. They had eyes and ears for sight and hearing, but no mouth. They were mute as there was not need for speech. Their communication was by touch.
They were not male and female as the other primates. There was the mother, the one who gave birth, and the nurturer, the one who fed their young. The mother had an abdominal orifice through which the child birthed. The nurturer had breasts to feed the child for the first season.
They tilled the soil during the dry season close to the equator, In other climes, during the warm season. From sun up to sun down they left furrows in their path. The mother with the thin sharp-edged tail that cut the soil, walked in front, The child with soft tail was behind mother carried by the nurturer. The nurturers’ larger round tail dug the furrow. For months they walked in a straight line following the path of the herd beasts that left the ground barren. For the whole season they tilled the plains, meadows, valleys and sides of hills and mountains.
When the seasons changed, they huddled in groups of a hundred. They sought shelter from the weather under trees and other large leafed plants. Upon finding their spot they planted their tails in the ground. The mother’s tail fit into a slot in the nurturers and they remained bound together and to the soil for the whole season. Midway through the season the mother began the life of another child. The one they guarded while tilling huddled beside them and would find a mate during the next tilling season.
The season of rest was the most dangerous. All animals left them alone during tilling season. Should any avian or ground predator try to attack them they found the ivory tails deadly.
During rest season they were tethered to the ground and unable to protect themselves. The older pairs took their places on the outside of the huddle. They were least likely to survive the next seasons planting and their place would be taken by the young couples. Of the hundred pairs, by the next tilling season they would be down to sixty, but there would be that many new pairs from the previous season’s young.
For millennia life remained the same over the entire planet. There was a delicate balance of nature and all life prospered and thrived. Then the hunters came.
Matthew Fontaine Maury and his team arrived at Able corporate headquarters one hundred years after landfall. His vanguard was fifty Federation operatives. Twenty were special forces and well-armed. Ten including himself were administrators. Ten were auditors and the others were scientists.
The hundred years of plunder was at an end. The corporations were pushing the boundaries of known space and frontiers and this always created chaos and anarchy. The Federation gave them a hundred years of unfettered profit, then they established law and order. Maury and his team were the vanguard responsible for civilizing the David System.
Virgocorp. HQ was still on Alpha Moon Able. Maury thought, by now they should be well established on planet Able. A huge red flag.
Being greeted by VC executives his group were given quarters and allowed to rest since it was Able Moon Alpha’s midnight.
Maury met with the team. “Each of the scientists take a guard and explore this complex. Find an observatory and look at planet Able. Why are they still headquartered here? Report in two days.”
The team reassembled. Maury pointed at the person to his right. “For the last ten years noting has been able to grow on Able,” Audrey Smith, the biologist, said. The whole planet’s sterile.”
Maury gave her a double take, “How is that possible?”
Juan Esteban, the anthropologist, answered, “When the planet was first discovered there were numerous indigenous groups. Two distinct species of sentient life. One group were merchants the other hunters. They existed off a third group that farmed. The merchants resembled great apes, the hunters more monkeys with their forward arms made of very sharp ivory. The farmers didn’t speak, build tools or use fire. They gathered in small family clusters. All species are now extinct.”
Maury was impatient, “How did they farm without tools?”
“It’s rather strange from what’s been documented, they could never determine the sex of this species. One of the pair had a tail of ivory around four feet in length that was thin and sharp edged. The other one had an ivory tail that was six feet in length, but it was six inches in width with a sharp point. The first one would lead, and the tail would cut into the ground. The other one holding the first from behind would dig the furrows.”
“I’m sure you find this fascinating,” Maury said, impatiently, “How did these species become extinct?”
“I think I know that sir,” Janice Pullman the head of security answered, “The farmers didn’t follow the rules of being sentient beings and were considered game. They were hunted for their tails and meat.”
Getting a little exasperated, “And???” Maury blurted out.
The biologist answered, “When the farmers were wiped out, corporate farmers began tilling the soil. For the first decade they grew respectable crops, but then the soil became depleted. The two sentient species adapted to our food, but when all our methods of fertilizing the soil failed Virgocorp shifted manufacture of food to the moons. There wasn’t enough to feed the indigenous population and most of them died of starvation.”
Shocked at the horror of what he’d heard, “They wiped out all sentient life on this planet?”
“Not quite, sir” Audrey said. They’ve set up a preserve on the smallest continent and preserved embryos to bring back the sentient species from extinction.”
Looking at the biologist, “Can you explain how an entire planet became sterile?”
“Sir,” she lowered her head, “The conclusion of the biologist working for Virgocorp concluded that the ivory in the tails of the farmers provided certain necessary nutrients for replenishing the soil. When they became extinct the soil became sterile.”
Maury thought of something, “What about the oceans? The planet is 85% water.”
“Records indicate,” Nathan Williams, the historian, said, “Virgocorp completely depopulated the oceans, lakes, rivers and streams of all edible aquatic life in the first twenty years.”
Maury exploded, “They did what?”
“Virgocorp leased the extraction of aquatic life to Orioncorp who has a high demand for sea food,” Williams answered.
Maury started pacing to calm down, “I’d like to talk with this corporate biologist.”
Audrey responded, “The man was fired and sent back to Virgo Prime five years ago. He left hidden files that only I could access, sir.”
The captain raised his right eyebrow.
The biologist continued, “It’s not the first-time corporate scientists were fired a few years before Federation personnel arrived. We’ve developed a way of accessing their research that corporate can’t delete.”
“That’s a lot of information to digest,” he waved them away. “Go get some rest, good work all of you.”
Since developing the technology for space exploration at light speed and interdimensional transportation a pattern developed. It took money to pay for the long-range exploration ships to reach solar systems and set up the ITD’s. All mineral and non-sentient life were exploitable for this time period. The only restriction was on sentient life forms. Those who could manipulate tools, the ability to speak, build fire, create cultures, villages, towns, cities. They were to be left unharmed.
If the planet or planets were civilized, they were encouraged to become trading partners. If capable of space flight they were encouraged to join the corporation as junior partners.
The maxim established on Terra Prime in antiquity still held: When two cultures intersect the more technological dominates.
For ten thousand years as the Terran Federation has cleaned up the mess the corporations left after a hundred years of unfettered control of a solar system. The indigenous populations didn’t take kindly to being invaded and their resources plundered. Entire species of sentient life were exterminated until the Federation imposed punitive sanctions on the Corporations.
The corporate officers were removed and replaced to set an example. The hardest part of making people accountable is that by the time the Feds discovers the problem the ones who were responsible were either in old age or dead. The current corporate leaders claim innocence.
The corporations took a page out of American history for indigenous peoples and set up reservations. Once the corporation removed all extractive substances, they began using the solar system for colonization and transportation centers.
The Feds stepped in and restored order. The indigenous population was given a planet or terraformed moon to live their lives without interference. Those that wished to assimilate were encouraged, enculturated, educated and brought into the alliance fold.
Virgo Corporation stepped over the line on planet Able. A mere fine isn’t going to be near enough to restore the damage done. If it can be undone at all. It’s not feasible to feed a planet twice the size of Terra Prime, much less a whole solar system with hydroponics and aeroponics. It would be cost prohibitive to feed the system through ITD’s.
“With every breath in my body I’m going to make sure the David Solar System is confiscated from Virgo Corporation and placed under the protectorate of UFA.”
Going to the DTD Maury transported back to Virgo Prime. Two days later he returned with a thousand scientists and two hundred thousand security personnel.
Immanuel Groves, the Governor of David met Maury at the DTD. The personnel he brought was already through and heading to a reserved module.
“Inspector Maury”, Groves addressed him with a supercilious attitude. He wasn’t used to being ignored by anyone. “Your actions are very rude. “You leave without meeting me and return with an invasion force.”
Maury felt like slapping him in handcuffs and sending back to Virgo Prime to face charges of genocide. I just might, if he keeps acting like an ass. “Governor Groves, Virgocorp has in the time allotted them to exploit the natural resources of this solar system turned the one planet capable of supporting life into a barren rock and murdered the sentient indigenous population. Those sentient beings, who if not left to starve, might have become a welcome addition to our alliance.”
Lifting his hands in a placating manner, “Inspector Maury I inherited this condition, this is how I found it. I was the one who set up the cryogenic labs to salvage sentient life once the planet becomes sustainable again.”
Giving the man a look of total disdain, “Locusts couldn’t have done this much damage.”
Puffing himself up, “What do you intend to do, sir?”
“I’ve already turned in my report. For the first time in over a thousand years Virgocorp will be brought before a corporate tribunal on Terra Prime. If found guilty of these and other charges we’ll discover, your charter will be revoked, and the Ministry of Reclamation will be given control of the David system.”
“Then we have nothing further to discuss,” the man said turning around and leaving.
“Colonel,” he said to the highest-ranking member of the security team near him. “Arrest that man and all the corporate management team. Have them transported to Terra Prime within the next three days.”
# # # # #
Maury gave a press conference that was broadcast throughout the David system.
“This is the dictate of the United Terran Alliance Judicial Review Board:
· The David solar system is under Alliance quarantine.
· All exploitation of the system is to stop immediately.
· All trade will cease.
· All Virgocorp personnel not deemed essential to the continued function of all the stations on the planet and elsewhere within the system will be evacuated.
· The alliance will begin replacing those left here within a year.
· A full investigation of the genocide against the sentient indigenous population will be conducted with the possibility of punitive measures taken against Virgocorp and its officers for the past one hundred years. Current corporate officers will be charged with negligence for not cleaning up the mess.
· The ministry of reclamation will begin the process of repairing the damage done to all the indigenous species that were present when the system was discovered.