Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
“It must be because they have such a short life,” chittered the softly glowing centipede pilot, easing back on the throttle near the viewscreen as it maintained a discreet distance from the planet. “With almost no time to experience life, the need to see life end must be strong. Why else would they kill? They seem quite bent on it and quite good at it. Look. Entire sections of their organizational structures are dedicated to it. Even the smaller organizations. Armies, they call them.”
The box-like creature with too many eyes in the chair next to the pilot hummed in thought before speaking. “I’m not sure I agree with your findings, Pilot. If that were the case, they’d all be dead by now. Mathematically speaking. There must be some that want to live with others and not see the end of life.”
“Maybe you’re both right.” vibrated the translucent skein of cells wafting on the air currents near the bridge vents, colours rippling across its surface. “Maybe there are factions of people devoted to death and factions devoted to living. Remember, they wear out quickly. No section of their population is long-livers. Perhaps the ones that want to live must kill the ones that want to kill.”
They all paused to consider that.
The green, moist creature with the huge mouth near the back spoke up. “Seems pretty confusing. Killing to protect yourself from killers. Can’t quite get my head around it. Surely one must be one or the other.”
“Well, you are rather binary, aren’t you?” whispered the cluster of feathers monitoring the radiation feeds and power levels. Some of the other creatures chuckled. The green, moist creature turned black with confusion and embarrassment.
“Shut up, here comes the captain.” said the eyeless red octopus lobster on the ceiling.
The doors from the lift parted and in walked the impressive bulk of the captain. “Well, how goes the findings? Does it classify?” the captain asked, beaks quivering with anticipation.
“It’s borderline, captain.” reported the centipede. “I don’t think we can start the procedure yet. We’ll have to leave a marker and come back.”
“That’s too bad. Well, proceed. We’ll return in two turns of the rim.” said the captain, visibly disappointed.
A marker left the ship and detonated high above the planet, leaving behind an invisible anchor in timespace after two weeks of drilling.
Far down below, three kings on camels saw it glowing and followed it.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows