Christine's Dilemma


Tags: Science Fiction,

Desc: Science Fiction Story: A Martian scout discovers a choice world for colonization until she learns about its deadly consequences.

Christine leveled her beam weapon at the local native of ShekTaur IV, as she had designated the world. He was human, true, but a wild man and attacked her without provocation at first sight voicing a scary howl. He charged at full speed, raising his spear as if to throw it, and she quickly adjusted the pistol with the flick of her thumb to a wide setting then immediately fired almost at the exact moment the man chucked the spear. As it approached her in a high mid air ark, it seemed to and did stop as if in slow motion, then fell in a dusty cloud to the ground, particulating into a fine gray carbon dust while the stone spear head fell to the alien surface with a thump.

The spear would have missed her by at least three meters but she didn't want that thing around her, or him either. She lowered the setting, not wanting to kill the primitive man as he drew closer, in range, and waited. She'd only just stepped onto the planet surface five minutes ago and she hadn't the heart or desire to take out a local just because he was being a nuisance.

When the cave-human recovered from his dismay at seeing his first weapon turned to dust, he stopped in his charge and he drew something short and crude, but deadly looking, from the leather line he had around his waist. From the distance Christine stood from him, thirty or so meters, she didn't like the look of it. He threw it at Christine without hesitation. She fired again and unlike the last projectile, it stopped in mid-flight, but this one rolled to the ground as if it had hit an invisible rubber wall. It was a stone knife and just as dangerous as a metal one, in her eyes.

Christine picked up the knife and slipped it into her belt pouch. The low setting on the beam weapon had also stopped the wild man. He lay sprawled out on the ground, face down, knocked out as easily as if he'd been bumped on the head with that stone axe he still had in his waist band. There was also some kind of throwing strings, like bolas, with stones attached to three ends. Brother was this guy set up to do damage.

Christine took the remaining weapons from his waist band of leather after tapping the man's head with her foot, making certain he really was knocked out, and slid the crude stone axe into her own waist belt. She lifted him to a sitting position with ease and put plastic ties around his hands, both behind his back, and also around his ankles.

This was a lower gravity planet than she was prepared for. She was unused to people this light, for they felt as if they were made of card board, and the load in her backpack was almost none existent even though on her planet, it would have been substantial. Her strength was at least sixty percent more pronounced, here.

Kneeling beside her victim, Christine turned the head of the primitive towards her and studied the man's face, motioning the two waiting robots on board, at the top of the entrance ramp, to come down and approach.

"Miss?" one of them acknowledged his presence when he stepped up beside her.

"Take this man to the restraining room," she said. "Clean him up and sterilize everything. Cut his hair to a G-4 level and shave his beard. I can't read his features as well with that bushy mess on his face. Make sure he doesn't escape the restraint room."

"Yes, Miss," the one robot answered. The two of them took his arms and legs and carried him towards the extensive scout ship that could pass for a small freighter.

Christine holstered her pistol but set it on bubble. It would surround her with a protective force field from any attack she didn't notice, like a thrown stone or an accurate arrow sent her way.

She scanned the areas around the ship and beyond a deep gully with her pocket analyzer, taking her readings.

There was no one else around but there were a large number of herbivore animals about and they were big suckers. That meant big predators. It was a jungle region on one side, almost, but with plenty of plains with high green grasses as tall as she could reach on the other, with several clear streams, close by. A beautiful world and a most pleasant reprieve from the ones she'd found of late. It had a high mineral content, too, and that meant conflict and competition. But that was beyond her control and truthfully, she didn't care. She had her own worries.

Christine looked at the limp bag of bones as the robots carried him up the ramp and figured her little wild man was simply out on a hunting expedition, alone. Must be a brave bubby, the thought.

She tested the soil and found it to be conducive to crops. The consistency was similar to that of the highland soil standards, back on Mars, her home planet. This stuff could grow anything, if you could get enough water to it, especially grains, and around here she didn't think that would be a problem.

Christine realized that there would be a lot of greedy corporations vying for rights to this place. The astronomical figures it would go for to the governing body was beyond her comprehension and belief. But it would be another gold mine of renewable biological resources and its potential for growth, in the manufacture of renewable goods and resources, such as food as well as mineral products, would be a boon to some company. It would be a wonderful trophy for a corporate conglomerate or subordinate-headquarters, way out here in the expanding human field and exploration of this galactic arm; of which, there were becoming more and more of them as humanity reached further outward.

It would be a pleasant place to colonize, too. They, the corporations, would spill a lot of blood, actual, legal, and illegal, to get the rights to this planet. Even if out and out war didn't break out, things were going to heat up around here. In some ways, Christine regretted the discovery. The takeover of a world always came down to that; killing for land.

Corporations ruled the galaxy. She understood that ... everything ... was about profit and claims to resources, whether in space, like in an asteroid belt, on a dead world, or on a jewel-like planet such as this. Power, growth, and profit were all that mattered, it seemed, and there was little in the way of policing corporations. Governments had taken the back seat to profits. Still, they were there, but world governments usually were in the pocket of and the puppets of business concerns. They controlled everything and she was a mere extension of this raping of a new planet. But she had her job, a good paying one, and it would do no good to dwell on principles and dealings that were beyond her control.

Christine felt the heat in the force field bubble building up, even though it was semi-permeable to air and sounds, the heat always rose fast in the sunlight. She removed the top section of her flight suit, unzipping it down from the back of her neck to her lower spine. It revealed her back and shoulders to the magic of the pale blue, somewhat cool feeling, sky and released a lot of thermally built-up heat. It wasn't enough though and Christine pealed the suit off her front, her arms, and her back, tucking the garments arms under her belt so they wouldn't dangle and drag.

Naked to the waist, her skin was golden, in color, and her eyes were silver, bordering on a faint, crystalline blue. Her hair was truly like fine spun gold and hung in a long pony-tail behind her that fell to the narrowness of her thin, weak looking waist. Her eyelashes and brows were a very dark brown, however, and there was little other hair anywhere on her body. Christine was a prime example of Mars' effect on peoples genes.

The planet had miraculously changed their earth DNA into something very similar in resemblance to the perfectly preserved ancient bodies found in the tombs of the southern Martian hemisphere, back on her world. They had been discovered in the twenty-forth century while her kind had begun terra-forming the Martian world, creating new, more useful shapes to the land. After adding seas, with tugged in comets, and a suitable moon stolen from Jupiter's system, and with its spinning rotation, it influenced and started up the magnetic core of Mars, again, and it began to be a world that man could use, once more.

The magnetic core had been shattered by a planetoid, astrophysicists surmised, untold billions of years in its past, but now it had long since ceased to be a dead desert planet. It was useful to the ever expanding reality of human and now Martian peoples.

With such a shock that there truly had been men-like beings upon that world, once, with golden hair and eyes of silver-blue, the world had changed the introduced humans, from earth, as near as science could tell, into true ancient Martians with all their peculiar abilities and in the amazingly short span of a little more than a thousand years. But the coming of the terrans had been two thousand years ago and she was half way across the galactic arm, now, far and away from the birth-world of her beloved, once upon a time red planet, and into the dust and debris of the galactic arm's distant stars.

As far as Christine knew, she was the deepest outstretched scout in the field, at the moment. That was not an honor, just a fact of leap-frogging as one scout went further out during the next jump than the last, discovering and exploring new worlds for the good of all, as dictated by the whims of the central governments and business concerns. None of these worlds she had discovered so far were quite as choice as this one, though, and she looked forward to her substantial bonus, having discovered such a pleasant place, ripe for the picking.

She brought the scanner up to eye level and viewed the horizon. She was getting a massive reading about fifty kilometers away but she couldn't see anything.

She brought up her monocular.

.... There is more of this story ...

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