Petrolea 1a

Petrolea

Image Credit Simon Roy

Chapter 1

It was raining gasoline on Titan.

Victor Toledo had his wipers on, but they didn’t do much except smear the petrochemicals over the visor of his environment suit.

Visibility: 3 meters

Outside temperature: -180 C

Suit batteries: full

O2 tanks: full

Signal strength: excellent

Handshake gauntlet status: stand by

Beyond the glowing readouts projected onto the inside of his visor, Victor could just make out the edges of the harvester he rode, defined by the endless churning movement of the caterpillar treads. Ahead, beyond the bumper of the huge forestry machine, he could see nothing but falling fuel.

The access road and the jungle beyond were invisible, but every few minutes, the glassy vane of a Windmill Tree sliced the curtain of rain. Mechanoids scurried like clockwork spiders. The feral robots froze as the harvester passed, tracking the machine with hungry sensors.

A human figure, clumsy and bulbous in his environment suit, swam out of the rain. Al-Waheed, one of the few biologists who hadn’t joined the strike. He planted his feet and stuck up his left hand to signal Victor. His right arm stuck out in front of him, providing a roost for his tame Punisher. The eagle-sized mechanoid hunched in the rain, a heap of dripping iron pinions and glowing red headlights.

“They’re close,” said the biologist over the comms net. Victor didn’t know whether “they” meant the striking scientists and engineers or the Tanker trees those strikers were risking their lives trying to protect. Both, he supposed.

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