This story came from something I read in the news. This one was about Elon Musk, who had apparently said there aren’t enough humans, and we need to spread to other planets to guarantee our survival if something happened to Earth. It’s quite a short piece, but it’s a complete story and I’m happy with it. I hope you like it too.
* * *
Mint looked up as a shadow passed across his table. His dinner guest, Sable, had arrived.
She smiled, “Sorry I’m late, the traffic is terrible today.”
Mint returned her smile and said, “it’s fine, just got here myself.”
After some small talk, they got down to business.
“I really need some advice on this, I’m stumped,” Sable said.
Mint smiled, “I’m all ears.”
“Well, I’ve got a problem with one of my colony worlds. The locals are being intransitive as usual, and nothing I’ve tried has worked.”
“Nuke them from orbit?”
“Unfortunately, not. I’ve already invested a huge amount in seeding the planet with cash crops, all of which are sensitive to radiation. I know, I should have scoured the planet first, but you know me, too sentimental.”
Mint laughed. “Indeed. Have you learned your lesson this time?”
Sable laughed in return. “Probably not.”
Mint grew serious. “So, what you need is something that can clear the planet of unwanted flora and fauna without destroying your cash crops?”
“Indeed. I don’t suppose you have anything? You’d be doing me a great favour.”
“I do have something you could try. A biological agent, a sort of self-guiding, self-sustaining parasite.”
“Ok, sounds interesting.”
“I can’t offer any guarantees, but I can give you a good price because of that.”
“Does it need anything special to survive, like atmosphere and nourishment?”
“Not really, it’s surprisingly flexible. It will need oxygen, liquid water, and local resources to feed from, that’s about it.”
“Sounds good. Have you used it yourself?”
“Yes, several times. It self-replicates rapidly and I now have a surplus.”
“Well, I don’t seem to have any other options. What sort of cost are we looking at?”
“Let’s say one million. You can pay me half now and half if it gets the job done. And because it’s you I’ll even deliver it.”
Sable smiled, “Thank you. That’s very kind of you.”
“Anything for a friend.”
“Here’s the navigation data. I’ll meet you there, I’d like to see it start to work.”
“Of course, we’ll make a day of it, have a picnic.”
A few months later Mine arrived on Sable’s planet in a deep-space hauler. The atmosphere-capable ship landed on a flat plane of a reddish grass-like plant and the huge door swung open. Sable was there to meet him as he disembarked. Together they sat in her land crawler to one side of the lowering ramp. Sable had put on a spread in the vehicle’s domed stateroom and the two sat side by side watching the action.
“So, what actually happens now?” Sable asked.
“Well, you understand the agent needs time to adapt and get established, it’s not going to be instant.”
“In a few moments you’ll see the agent emerge from the ship and move away a short distance, then it will build shelters and probably start burning things.”
“Oh, nothing to worry about, tiny little fires, nothing more.”
“Ah, good. And then.”
“Then it will start to spread and begin to attack the local wildlife.”
“It knows not to attack my cash crops?”
“Oh yes, it’s been fully programmed.”
“Oh, movement, here it comes.”
Small creatures began to walk down the ramp in groups, each carrying a heavy bundle or pulling small carts. They reached the bottom and walked away from the ship, heading towards a thin river that wound across the plane. Then they stopped and soon crude shelters had been built.
“That didn’t take them long,” Sable said.
“No, they soon adapt. Although it might make them some time to clear the whole planet.”
Sable laughed. “Of course, I’ll let you have the second payment as soon as they start to provide some results.”
“No rush dear, no rush at all. I’ll leave you to it then, got to get my ship back into space and earn money.”
“Thank you again, Mint. You’re a good friend.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Mint returned to his hauler using a small flier and went straight down to the hold. The cargo had left it in a total mess and the terrible smell lingered even now. The whole place would have to be fumigated and disinfected before he could use it again. Despite that, he smiled. He’d finally gotten rid of the horrible things. If those idiots on the council hadn’t declared them sentient, he’d have flushed them out into deep space a long time ago.
He signalled the captain and told him to get them off the planet and as far away from here as possible. He wiped his upper eyes with a couple of tentacles. Sable wasn’t going to be happy when she found out he’d infested her planet with humans.