As he raised his hand in a pre-emptive strike against the sweat that had been planning to assault his eyes from the ridge of his brows, his excitement kept screaming at him to hurry up.
He lowered his right hand back onto the handle of the ‘M12 Vacuum Shear’, gripping firmly like his father had taught him. He looked up at the fields to double-check how much of the ‘Silthyn’ crops were left to harvest.
“Yes!” he shrieked victoriously to himself: less than a quarter of the field stood un-harvested. It would take him two hours at the most, but if he was lucky he’d be finished in an hour & fifteen minutes.
Raising his head skyward, he noticed the 1st moon, ‘Almaar’, had barely become visible.
“O.k Jonah”, he thought to himself, bridling his excitement, “home stretch; let’s do this!”
He focused his eyes a few inches in front of the hovering machine he was guiding, spread his hands apart on the handle-bars & made sure each step his bare-feet took in the soil was firmly placed.
Harvesting the 1st of the final rows, he still remembered his father putting him on his shoulders when he was 4 & teaching him how to use the harvester properly: Too fast & the harvester destroys the Sylthyn; slicing the stalk & polluting the crop. Too slow & you vacuums in too much soil with each stalk eventually blowing the machine.
Walking steadily with the M12 humming as it hovered & harvested, he couldn’t imagine doing this with his bare hands. His father had jokingly threatened once to have him finish the harvest like it had been done over two centuries ago. His mind shivered at the thought; his body was too busy focusing on not messing up the task he begun at 6:00am that morning.
The light beneath the M12 turned blue, signalling that its current satchel was full. He flicked the standby switch on the handle, turning the light orange. As he unhitched his twenty seventh satchel of the day from the back of the machine, he caught a glimpse of his watch: 4:48pm. His eyes widened in horror. Every second seemed to conspire against him, flying by far too fast.
Hitching the satchel on his back, he tried his best to run awkwardly back to the “Trolley Runner”. He lined the stuffed satchel up alongside the others & strapped it in.
A few steps after he began racing back to the M12, he remembered he needed a new satchel. The soil kicked up as he screeched to a halt, stumbling over himself to run back to the Trolley. He couldn’t help cursing as he grabbed an empty satchel & resumed his sprint back to the Harvester.
After attaching the new satchel he flicked the standby switch & the machine made a drowning noise, its light turning red.
“Come ON You Little-!” the severe kick he gave it caused the M12 to whir to life, the sound drowning out his cursing as its lights tuned green.
“YEEEEEAAAAAAAHH!!” he roared through gritted teeth, grinning as he resumed the harvest.
The time was 5:20pm when he unhitched the last satchel from the harvester, slinging it over his back with his left hand & pulling the hovering M12 behind him with his right. Getting to the Trolley, he strapped in the last satchel then turned the harvester off. He loaded & secured it onto the back of the ‘Trolley Runner’, sprang forward & leapt into the seat up front. He initiated the start-up procedure making it hum & begin vibrating beneath him. Just before his finger hit the button to activate its mobility function, an image of his mothers face, awash with fury flashed through his mind causing his eyes to widen. His hand slowly moved away from the button to rest on the safety belts & carefully secure them into place around his body.
It had been a year ago she’d caught him driving the ‘Trolley Runner’ alone. & not safely strapped in no less. Suffice to say sitting had been a problem for him over the next week. She was altogether ready to keep him away from all the machinery on the farm after that, but his father negotiated a peace treaty between them. He had pointed out that Jonah, being a wilful child, would end up trying to use the machinery behind their backs which would lead to worse consequences.
The compromise: She would be with him anytime he was to use the more…“Safety Challenged” machinery around the farm. & she would also decide when she thought he was ready to use any of the aforementioned machinery alone. When his father put forth this last stipulation, Jonah had had an image of himself as an old man riding triumphantly alone on the ‘Trolley Runner’; believing it would take that long for his mother to decide he was ready. Shockingly however it had taken only 8months; for the ‘Trolley Runner’ anyway.
He flicked the button & the ‘Trolley Runner’ let out a louder thundering hum as its gravitational stabilizers came to life, lifting it 4ft above the ground.
Glancing up at the sky again, he took hold of the yoke for the Runner. The 1st moon was full in the sky now. Almaar was in truth less of a moon & more of a sister to their planet, “New Dantooine”; it was just over half the size of theirs. The 2nd moon was half out, the sky the soft pink of early evening around both celestial bodies.
The Trolley whirled around as he turned the yoke to the left, careful not to turn too fast in case one of the satchels came loose; that was one of the last things he needed right now. He pointed the Trolley toward their house, just visible down the valley from the Silthyn fields & drove as fast as he could while maintaining a safe pace.
Getting to the back of the house, he lined up the Trolley’ with the wall, attempting to park it properly. His hands seemed to vibrate with not just the life of the machinery he was driving, but his impatience. Going through every safety measure he had been taught seemed to take an eternity to complete.
With the Trolley finally turned off, the non-stop barking of “Hyper-Drive”, the family dog, seemed to explode through the air. It was coming through the screen-door of the kitchen…meaning his mother was cooking.
He took a breath & let it out slowly. This would have to be played tactically.
As he ran up to open the door, a ball of white & auburn fur rocketed into him then proceeded to unrelentingly lap at his face.
“Calm Down Girl, DOWN!”
“I know your father & I had the talk with you about where babies come from, but we weren’t quite expecting you to get a girlfriend this quickly.”
“Oh ha ha ha ha very fun-Down Girl!”
His mother smirked, not turning from slicing the vegetables. Her flaming red hair was tied in a single thick braid down her back. Jonah calculated his chances of pulling off his escape attempt, his eyes slanted in concentration. When he finally decided she was engrossed in her cooking, he took a creeping step back towards the screen-door & tentatively began pulling it open.
The bark from the dog he was still holding caused him to jump & the door to slam.
“Not so fast mister…”
‘DAMN!’ he thought ‘So Close’.
“Did you harvest all the Silthyn?”
“Did you break any of the stalks?”
“Did you strap all the satchels in properly?”
“Did you strap yourself in properly when coming back?”
“YES!” he screamed triumphantly. She turned to look at him, an eyebrow raised questioningly.
“I Mean…” he tried to compose his voice “…Yes, I mean yes, a regular yes”.
She returned to assaulting the vegetables.
“Did the harvester stall at any point?”
His heart sank to his soles; he knew if he said yes, that meant taking it down NOW & cleaning it. He Had To Play This Smooth. He calmed himself, attempting to use his most reassuring voice
Her knife paused in motion. She seemed to hold still for several minutes, radiating impatience.
He finally broke
“O.k, yes it did, but-”
“MUM!” the endearment was used as a plea for freedom.
“You know what happened last time” she countered.
“It stalled & you didn’t check it”
“It did but-”
“If your father hadn’t checked it, it would’ve blown the next time you turned it on”
“You don’t know-”
“I’M SORRY?” It was a warning, not a question
“I meeaannnn…it would, but before I use all the equipment I always-”
She turned then, to look at her child. Every fibre of his freckled face was pleading; his eyes almost as wide as those of the dog he still held in his arms. She let out an exasperated breath
“You want to go to ‘Serenity Point’ & watch the ‘Vanyr’ with your friends, I know, but I want you to make sure the equipment is safe for your own good” She enunciated the last 3 words.
“I don’t want you to get used to putting fun before your safety”.
“I’m 14 woman; I’m pretty sure if I haven’t learnt it by now I’m never going to…” she didn’t even raise an eyebrow. Letting the statement trail off meant he’d realised it wasn’t working toward achieving his goal.
He then put on the most sombre face he could muster & looked directly at her
“I understand” his voice came out in an attempt to mimic a tone beyond his years.
Her eyes narrowed
“You do, do you?”
“Why yes madam I do” he affirmed, stroking the dog like all he needed was a monocle. Her face followed her eyes as she turned back to slicing vegetables.
“You know I’m not quite sure you d-”
“You’re concerned for the safety of your only son…Admirable. But we can offer assurances madam”
“Oh you can, can you?”
“Oh Yes, Oh Yes. We Here at the ‘Jonah Danton foundation, of Fun for Jonah Danton’ assure you that we will take all possible precautions above & beyond the-”
“Oh Come OOOOON! Plllllleeeeeeeeaaaaassssssseee…..”
He continued to stretch the word well past its intended use.
Her chopping put on hold, she braced herself on the counter letting out another breath. She glanced at him as he continued to bludgeon her guilt with the word & eventually couldn’t help shaking her head with laughter.
His ploy had succeeded. She turned & faced him, finger pointed to fully get her tone across
“First thing in the morning, you check & clean every single piece of equipment you use on this farm. I don’t want to hear a single complaint or have to hunt you down because if I do, you know you will regret it”.
He subconsciously clenched his rear end.
“You’re tough…but…not fair at all”
“I know dear”
As he sprang for the door
“Don’t come back before 10-(sigh) I mean after-”
“Not BEFORE 10; Got It!” He pounced outside
“Jonah Danton Don’t You Dare-”
“Love you Mum” he screamed without looking back, as he raced into the distance.
He would have been aware of ‘Hyper-Drive’ running behind him even without her ecstatically barking like she usually did. The stars were out as he sped toward the outer reaches of their settlement. Seeing the northwest watchtower of the “Evynian Alliance” out-post let him know he was close.
‘New Dantooine’ was actually a large planet in comparison with most of the other colonies. But it was mainly agricultural, most of its mass covered in farmland. There were only 3 cities on the planet, so the most military presence people encountered was in the form of outposts dotted around for the residents’ protection.
“Hey Jonah, going to ‘Serenity’?”
“YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!” he screamed back wild-eyed with excitement as he streaked past Pvt.Jenkins, the serviceman stationed at the watchtower in the evenings. He could barely hear Jenkins laugh & customary cautionary warning
“Alright, you kids be careful out there”
The hilltop they called “Serenity Point” was just a few paces off. All the lights from the farmlands & outpost save the searchlights from the watchtower were drowned in the darkness. A sea of neon seemed to exist on the other side of the hill, silhouetting the figures on it.
“There you are ‘Hot-Head’?” one of the 5figures on the hill said, turning back to look at him. His best friend “Taer” was a Silman, one of the 7 member species alongside humans in the ‘Evynian Alliance’. Jonah could barely see his purple skin-tone & feathery blond hair in the darkness. The others turned to welcome him as ‘Hyper-Drive’ flew into the arms of “Tael”, Taer’s twin sister.
“C’mon hot-head, it hasn’t started yet”. Taer had given him the nick-name not so much for his personality, as for the flaming red-hair he inherited from his mother.
Once he reached the top of the hill, the reason it was called ‘Serenity Point’ became apparent. The other side of the hill slanted shallow into flat-land as far as the eyes could see. & in the midst of that was the planet’s largest city, “Serrice III”. In contrast to the farm-lands that covered most of the planet, it was technologically over-saturated. Floating ad-spaces, numerous spot-lights shining skywards, multi-layered roads & sky-scrapers. In the center of the city, an enormous bullet elevator ascended into orbit connecting the city to a space-station for ships too large to easily make planet-fall.
The sight always astounded Jonah. He sat beside Taer, the night breeze brushing over his bare back.
“Oooohhh, it’s starting” Taer let out happily as they all began screaming with excitement. Rockets shot up from the city& kept racing skyward. Then, just when the teenagers could barely make out their jetstream, they exploded in amazing firework explosions bright enough to give the entire valley the appearance of daytime.
They all screamed their approval exuberantly as similar sounds rose like a wave from the city. Tael put Hyper-Drive in her lap, turned to open a bag beside her brother & began passing round beverages. The fireworks continued in magnificent variations to their roaring applause for over thirty minutes.
And then a sound; It felt like the tone of a musical instrument, yet it rang through your entire being. It danced through your mind & down into your bones. The fireworks had ceased just before they heard it, as if perfectly anticipating its arrival.
Jonah smiled as Taer & two others leapt up, resuming their screams of joy with enthusiasm. Their jubilation was mirrored by explosive celebratory sounds erupting from the city. Finally, in a hue of spectral light & colours, enormous figures, each about the size of interstellar cruisers began appearing above the city & spreading out to soar through the valley.
These were the “Vanyr”.
Denizens of another dimension of existence, older than anything this universe had known. Through the ages they had saved countless species from natural disasters. The Vanyr had been accurately interpreted by the “Inari” (an empathic species of the Alliance) as saying that ‘saving a species from the wrath of celestial mechanics was intricately easy, but attempting to save them from self-imposed destruction only seemed to assure its completion’. On one occasion, they had moved a planet from one solar system to another to save its inhabitants from a dying sun: that was ‘The Great Debt’ the Silmans referred to in their people’s history.
Seven of the species who respected the value’s the Vanyr tried to teach had created a galactic governing body dedicated to aiding & defending it’s member species: The “Evynian Alliance”. This alliance was celebrated every harvest season & the Vanyr, three years after its formation had deigned to join the festivities.
The sounds had become songs now, dancing within every being on the planet; calming, reassuring, motivating. Jonah loved these nights. It was the reason he always looked forward to the harvest.