Author : S. P. Mahoney

There is an utterly absurd amount of mineral wealth sitting in Sol’s asteroid belt. Was. Whatever. A nickel-iron asteroid of middling size contains enough mineral wealth to choke a multinational, if you were to bring it back to Earth. Not to mention so expensive that none of those aforementioned multinationals, much less the national governments, could look more than five years down the line and see the advantages in building a civilization out there.

It was almost a relief when the message came in from the Great Beyond: “Hello, we’re aliens, and we need half of your asteroid belt. You can’t do anything about this, however, we are going to pay you for it. The down payment is in FTL drives, of which we will be giving at least one to every regional power on Earth.” That’s paraphrased, but basically the jist of it.

They were pretty clever, those aliens (we never learned their name for themselves). They figured we’d be out of commission, squabbling, for long enough. They’d looked us over and decided that, yup, those Humans have a real talent for tribalizing against each other, they’re going to be arguing about who gets how many drives for years. They knew it would take us a while to find a trading outpost where we could find out how badly we were being ripped off. And if that failed, they thought they’d skate by on our good feelings towards the race that gave us a path to the stars.

They were almost right, but they underestimated Humanity’s ability to think big when it comes to who’s in and out of the tribe. And they were completely off-base on that last thing. Polls still suggest a 90% approval rate on nuking their mining colony. A significant fraction of the population even think we shouldn’t have waited for them to give us the money at the end of the term, although that seems a little wasteful to me.

It was maybe eighteen months before we were pulling into a dozen systems to run the same con. We did it better, of course; we didn’t let the victims know what was up until we were actually done. And then two of them, it turned out, were our old pals’ colony worlds. So much the better. Those poor guys became further reinforcement to a message for their folks back home:

Don’t kid a kidder. Don’t trick a trickster. Don’t scam the Humans.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows

Previous Story ·
Random Story · MindShare

I’ve Seen Things…

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since.

Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Tomorrows Past

A Point in Time

July 2014
« Jun    

What is Flash Fiction?

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries, Founding Member