Galactic Hooch Harvest
by S Shane Thomas

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure we are gathered here today. As I’m sure you are all aware our colonial starship detoured for fourteen months, adding precious time to our sixty four year journey to our new home. While many reasons have tempted colonial leadership to delay our voyage in the name of scientific inquiry, none have been backed by near unanimous civilian support as the fluid harvest we have painstakingly undertaken in the name discovering the true essence of a substance mankind has produced on Earth since before earliest known history.” Admiral Conner raised a champagne flute in toast and throughout the starship every adult among its half million inhabitants mirrored the gesture.

Since the early twenty first century humanity knew of the enormous cloud of naturally occurring alcohol near the center of the galaxy. Of all the colonial starships launched from Earth to travel for lifetimes before reaching their new home worlds, theirs had the sole fortune of passing through the cloud. This far from Earth, radio signal was no longer fast enough for planetary leadership decisions and direction came from both the ship’s officers and civilian leadership. Most of the people aboard the colony were born during the transit and thousands would end life aboard the vessel before it reached their new home. Since the gas cloud lay near the half way mark of their journey, study and harvest provided quiet a sensational amount of morale to complete the mission.

Most scientific research and development came to a halt. All the routine mining missions to harvest precious metals, water, and valuable gasses from nearby asteroids had been put on hold and the equipment retrofitted to collect the free floating libations. All their resources and efforts had yielded not only enough for the entire colony to taste a sample, but for chemists to perfectly replicate the recipe and send it back to Earth on a probe with a radio signal. With years to go before reaching their new home world, the colonist had already made a contribution to their former home. The potential effects on Earth’s economy could be massive and the colonial league guidelines provided for royalties to be accumulated and eventually dispersed back to the colony when advancements in technology allowed for commute within a single lifetime.

So much excitement and anticipation had at last come to a head as hundreds of thousands of people put glass to lips and tilted their heads back, eager to savor for the first time the libation as it occurred from the act of the big bang. Quiet moments passed while palates slowly came to comprehend the sensory input. Some hasty second sips were pulled from the true connoisseurs among the colony.

Nearly in unison a wave of disgust passed through the starship. Women cried, men swore, uninitiated children cowered behind their parent’s legs. The swill was awful! Nothing on the bottom shelf of any establishment came close to the foul taste and palate wrecking assault.

The vessel slowly lurched away from the remains of the alcohol cloud as technicians worked feverishly to recall the satellite before the recipe reached home.

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