Nova Farmers

“Captain”

“Yes, comm?”

“We have a report of a nova, sir.”

“Where?”

“Delta sector, zone 6, sir”

“How soon?”

“Seven galactic standard, sir.”

“Flagberk damn it, we will never beat the humans there. Why did we not get an advance notice?”

“This was the advance notice, sir”

Sigh “Set a course and notify groups four, seven and twenty six. They are the only ones close enough to make it worth the fuel.”

“Yes, sir.”

Some time later…

“Captain, entering Delta sector, zone 6.”

“Send out a hail and let whoever is here know we have arrived.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Welcome, this is Tex Shefield, captain of the United Earth Federation harvester Double O. I think all the front row seats are taken, but you should be able to find some spots in the second tier.”

“Tex, you Velum Snargwalb, figures you be the one to beat us here.”

“Jixunder is that you?”

“The one and only.”

“I’ll send you my location, you slide over here and we will see if we can scooch over a bit and get you a better view.”

“I would appreciate that, it is hard to make a living from second tier scraps.”

“Understood, I wouldn’t do this if that’s all I could get.”

“One of these days you are going to have to tell me how you humans manage to always find the novas first.”

“Well, buy me enough drinks and maybe I’ll tell you.”

“I may take you up on that when we are done, though I am not sure I could afford the tab.”

“Ha ha ha. Maybe not.”

Later, at a nearby refueling depot.

“Jix, over here.”

“Tex. Thank you for the extra space during that harvest, it made it just profitable enough to keep doing this. Let me buy you a drink, maybe ply you for some secrets.”

“Alright, but you may just have to spend all your profits for that.”

Many drinks and stories later…

“So, tell me, how is it humans always seem to get to the novas first? Is it some secret tech that lets you detect them early?”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret. When we find a star that is getting close… we give it a little push. Add a few trillion tons of iron and you can somewhat control when it is going to go. It’s not perfect, but good enough.”

“Where do you get that much iron? Seems that it would cost a fortune. I do not see how you can make money at it.”

“Usually we just hurl a few local planets and asteroids, but we also keep a large mass just for this purpose. Each time we use it, we replace it with iron we collect from the explosion, so it is a one time cost solution, other than the time and labor to put it back together. Those costs are well justified since we get front row seats.”

“That is cheating!”

“We aren’t breaking any laws. On Earth, the first to get their harvest in gets the highest price. So we will harvest early and let the goods ripen during transit or through artificial means later. This is no different, we are just prepping the crops for harvesting a little sooner.”

“Still not fair. Maybe you can give me a call the next time you are prepping for harvest. I would not mind seeing that.”

“Not much to see, just a quick flame up, but I might give you a call. If nothing else, I’ll get you to buy the drinks again.”

“Get me on the front row and you can count on it.”

Categories: HFY

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