They Build ‘Em Tough on Magna Mater – R.W.W. Greene
George’s voice crackled over the headset radio. “You going tonight?”
“Not hardly. Pa fined me hard last time. Claimed I forgot to plug Bessie back in and cost us a day’s work.” Zeke spit a glob of bright orange newbacco juice into a can he’d taped to the inside of the tractor’s cockpit. “I plugged her in. Just didn’t have time for a full recharge.”
“Like your Pa would know anything about a day’s work,” George said. “He don’t remember the last time he done one.”
“He weren’t always like that.” Zeke moved the control sticks in unison, and Bessie reached out to grasp a four-ton bale of threefalfa in her heavy metal arms. The tractor hefted the bale, servos whining as it moved the load into position and added it to the neat, two-story stack on top of the crawler. “Used to be he worked as hard as anybody.”
Zeke’s pa hadn’t been the same since his wife died of Scylla, a native virus that seemed to take every Terrestrial mammal with two X chromosomes as a personal insult.