The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos, The Journey Homeward, Ambush on Platinum 9 and Refit, Retrain and Rethink. Today we get Episode 28
Jamison was holed up in a den under a water tank waiting for his eyes to adjust to find out what was moving around him in the dark. He knew by his senses that he was in no immediate danger, but his imagination was still having a field day. It could be spiders, reptiles, or almost anything else. He stayed calm but was still glad when a few minutes later he could begin to see.
Over the next few minutes he found that the bottom of the tank was leaking slightly. This allowed the soil beneath to be viable and a moss like substance was growing. A family group of some small rodent was living in there, and as he watched the animals both ate the moss and fed it to their young. Jamison thought to himself the whole family would be short lived. Unless it had some unusual qualities anything grown in such contaminated water would also be contaminated.
He spent the rest of the day listening as the men outside milled around and considered their options. Late in the day he heard a couple of them talking about the water. Apparently the colony was dreadfully low on water, would run out soon, and expected no more deliveries since they had no means of payment. They had few choices. Let their families die of hunger and thirst, or filter this water and let them be poisoned by what could not be filtered out.
Jamison’s heart broke at the choice. Soon he came to understand the king wanted him to intervene, but he didn’t know how or what to do yet. He also expected that he would be seen as a traitor if he showed himself. Everyone off world was seen as the enemy that had abandoned them there to die. He was from off world and worse, could only have been left behind by the ship that had rescued the administrators.
Jamison understood how they felt, he himself was hungry and thirsty. But he was especially thirsty. He had not had a drink in almost 24 hours. It would not be much longer before his mind began to cloud and become less trustworthy. In order to prevent focusing on these thoughts and on his thirst, he spent a lot of time focusing on the family of rodents. They were cute, and very friendly. The babies were curious and crawled all over him. The adults were equally friendly and soon were nuzzling up under his hand whenever he was not petting one of them.
The whole family was wiggling around like nothing was wrong. Jamison was getting curious. He waited till it was quiet outside, and risked turning on the sensor he had taken from the control room. When it beeped it seemed so loud he was sure someone would come. But when no sounds could be heard he scanned the water in the ground. Again it was full of heavy metals. But this seemed in opposition to the fact the creatures were healthy. He scanned one of the creatures and found it uncontaminated. This was puzzling. Next he scanned the moss. It was a great deal like the sweet moss dessert, and it was not contaminated either.
Further investigations proved the ground there was super saturated by heavy metals, Jamison came to the conclusion that the plant somehow filtered that stuff out. He scanned it again and when it registered as safe to eat he tried some. It was delicious and a bit like eating watermelon it was so saturated with cleaned water. He had his fill and began to feel his energy and strength return. Being full and warm, he napped and when he awoke it was still daylight. But he noticed the moss had already grown back. Then the makings of a plan took shape in his mind.
He stayed in that den all day long and didn’t come out until evening when he was sure he could move around undetected. He then used rubber hoses to release the water into the dirt landing field between the mine and the settlement. Then he made repeated trips into the den to bring out some of the moss. Each time he spread little bits of moss into the ever expanding puddle created by the water coming out of the tank. By morning the large flat area which had been dirt, looked like it was covered with grass. He tested the fast growing edible moss several times. He found it contained enough fresh water to keep the colonists alive and was totally safe.
When they approached to see what it was, they were anxious to hear from him, and elated to hear they had, not just a means of survival, but a product that would entice traders back to their colony. That is if any could get around the pirates.
Jamison helped the men harvest enough food for their families’ immediate needs and in the process came to know and be known by almost everyone in the colony. As he interacted with them about the new product, the people developed a degree of trust in him. He used this fact to garner shelter, and over the next few weeks considered with the miners what their next steps should be.
First was the question of legalities. After all, they had obtained their situation by rioting, but on the other side of the coin the company had abandoned them there to die, so under common law they had also forsaken any claim to the resources there. So the individuals who had remained would likely be considered the rightful owners of all land and resources.
But who would be in charge of the colony and what type of government would they use. Jamison saw the problems coming and decided to deal with them as straight on by asking for a general assembly. There was no place large enough so he organized it in the cool of the evening on the dry portion of the landing field.
He suggested that the colony form a coop. This allowed for everyone to be a partial owner of the enterprise. In regards to governing the colony, setting its laws and administrating the details of trade, he suggested they elect a temporary council to handle the most pressing details. During this period candidates could campaign by putting forth their plans and ideas. Then after an appropriate period of time they would hold elections for members of a permanent government.
The people approved of this idea, and many asked him if he would head up the council. He called for them to vote on it and after winning by a landslide he accepted. Then they worked out twelve others to work with him. They were men and women who were known and respected among the miners. These individuals would meet together nightly for the next several weeks to work out the basic details which would allow them to move forward.