Author : Daniel Fuhr
Red rocks crumbled under my heavy boots. I looked around the desolate Martian landscape and destruction thereupon. I could taste the acrid smoke around me as I walked through the wreckage of the downed ship, even through the environmental suit and protective gear, something for psychologists to quack at me about.
Carefully I picked through the remains of the transport craft and charred remains of what used to be precious lives. Protocol requires carefully documenting everything and keeping the crash site spotless. I cared about protocol fifteen years ago; today I’m just looking for the goods.
The small group of people stood at the edge of the crater the crash site created. I knew they were watching my every move apprehensively. Dead eyes of a hundred people staring at me from beyond the grave bothered me less than the brigands carefully watching me work.
After minutes of examination, I struck the treasure worth more than gold. I flipped open my netbook and sent a report back to my office “Crash due to natural causes, no further action required”. I would fill in more details at my leisure back at the office.
I pulled the slug from the hole in the hull of the ship and carried it out of the crater. The crash was open to salvage the minute I transmitted my report. I handed the pirates their metal slug as they handed me a small case. I knew they would have the entire craft ravaged for salvageable parts and take the rest for scrap metal. In less than two hours only the crater would remain.
If my report had any mention of foreign sources of a crash, I would look forward to months of investigations, inquiries and paperwork. Carrying the case back to my craft I looked forward to a month of fresh steak and eggs, a treasure worth more than gold.