Potato War

Author : David Stevenson

My uncle Frank was the first man ever to be killed by an interplanetary baked potato.

He had fought in the first war; the war between our beautiful planet of Prutashka and the savages of Binkaret, one planet nearer to our sun.

This war was fought by conventional means, and since our bountiful planet had abundant supplies of fossil fuels and fissionable materials whilst their backwards hellhole had neither, we soon triumphed and made them our slaves.

We made sure that they had no access to any military technology so that they would never again be a threat. This was purely for their own good, of course. We only allowed them to develop their agricultural economy. Soon they were producing millions of tons of vegetables each year for export to our planet.

Of course, allowing them ships to transport these goods was out of the question. They had a space elevator which could lift the exports out of their gravity well. The potatoes were coated in a metallic foil which both preserved them and also provided something for the linear accelerator to grab hold of. Several times a second a solitary potato was launched towards our planet. With no preservation problems, and no crewed spaceships to worry about they could be launched along highly energy efficient orbits, taking months to complete their journey. Tiny adjustments in acceleration and angle of launch meant that their time and place of destination could be accurately defined. Most arrivals were scheduled for mealtimes in the large cities. Large induction hoops, miles above the surface, grabbed the foil wrapped potatoes and decelerated them safely. Re-entry into the atmosphere and electrical induction heated them up so that delicious, individually wrapped meals arrived with the minimum of fuss.

We thought we had tamed their warlike instincts, but we could not have predicted the horror that their treachery would unleash.

Five years ago, they had a bumper crop of potatoes. The excess potatoes were launched in the usual way, but were sent on long, slow orbits which would take five years to complete. Their economy was working well now, and every year they increased their vegetable output until, by last year, we estimate that one in every three potatoes launched was being put in a delayed orbit to arrive on what has become known as P-Day.

It was a terrible day.

Millions of potatoes, all arriving in the same one hour window, completely overwhelmed the normal reception arrangements. We got only a few hours warning of the onslaught before piping hot, metallic wrapped missiles began hitting military targets. My uncle Frank was vaporised early on, and my aunt still bears the scars from a jet of scalding chili which hit her. I myself have lost an eye to a vicious gout of red hot coleslaw.

Now their entire output is being launched on short, fast orbits designed to impact and cause maximum damage. Our spaceports are destroyed, our military are mostly dead, and our cities lie ruined beneath giant mounds of potatoes.

I have no idea how we’ll fight back, but at least we have plenty to eat.

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