A Short Story: A Debt Unpaid, Part Two

They brought atmospheric scrubbers to prevent an ash winter, firefighting vessels that could drop millions of gallons of water at a time to extinguish forest fires, housing units that could be erected in minutes with the capacity to hold hundreds of families, agricultural equipment that tilled acres upon acres of land a day to reestablish sustenance production, cloning systems to re-establish both domestic livestock and wild fauna. They carried the capacity to essentially re-terraform an entire continent.

It all came without cost, without expectation of recompense, without any strings attached. Millions of engineers, technicians, scientists, and workers volunteered five Earth months of their lives for a species that was not their own, to rebuild an ecosystem and a population on a planet that was not within their realms, all funded by donations, the wages of the labors of a hundred-different species and quadrillion different souls who could have used those credits for their own luxury.

Humanity was grateful. The entire species wondered how it would ever repay this debt. And some were deeply burdened by it.

It took three years for humanity to recover, far less time than any human had expected when the news broke of the Yosemite eruption. By the end of the fourth year, the Io shipyard had launched the new Mjek-class carrier-support ship, the UHS Asclepius. It came armed not with electromagnetic guns or missile pods or energy-based weapons but with a fleet of Arzt-class landing ships equipped with a full medical staff and enough medical bays to hold hundreds of patients as they recuperate. Within twenty-eight weeks, a dozen more were patrolling the human sector, landing in distant colonies to provide medical assistance, improve the health of the residents, and overall, healing the colonists before taking off and flying to the next colony.

Then the war started.

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