A Little Stab at Sci-Fi

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

The following Sci-Fi short story is for my buddy, Robbie Taylor, who thinks I should write more of such. Here it is:

 

SEVEN-EIGHTS RAINMAKER

COSMOS

Mars was always a dead planet, if you can imagine such.

There was never any moisture to be had anywhere but for the polar extremes, and even that had to be painstakingly extracted. So, when Jaim Tuhutu, the water merchant, arrived in Boys Town on the outskirts of Bear, not only was he not recognized by the locals but he was immediately mugged, his air tank stolen and left for dead. But such was Mars’ reputation.

Mars the Way Station. Mars the Penal Colony. Mars the Hell

hole.

Tuhutu survived by dragging himself a hundred meters to an

air station and puncturing his suit with the supply hose. Fortunately his credit chip was embedded in his chest plate and

all he had to do was lean against the machine. If it had been

visible, the chip too would have been taken by the teenage

bandits that waylaid him, and without the chip the air station

compressor would never have kicked over and Tuhutu’s last breath

would have expelled then and there beneath a beautiful yet deadly

pink sky.

Tuhutu however, was never known to quit and the one-eighth

Irish luck in him held true.

A debit for the air charge flicked to an orbiting satellite

and then to Earth and back again, approved. Round trip it took an

interminable five minutes, and one of the wealthiest men in space

survived alone on the air in his helmet and between his skin and

the inside of his suit.

When he left Mars a week later, fully recovered from his

initial welcome and fifty million credits lighter in wealth, he

did so with a sense of gratitude and a new-found faith in his

seven-eights Kenyan propensity to survive the very worst an

unforgiving environment had to throw at him.

Me? I was fifty million wealthier.

 

When he finally made it to the Scotch Armory Tavern a day

late to meet with me, sample the local hospitality and conclude

our business, he had that same irrepressible toothy smile painted

on his smooth African face that I had seen in news holos of him.

To his credit he mentioned nothing of the mugging, the story of

which I learned well after his departure from an old friend who

was coming back into town from The Wastes. I was told the story

of the pack of teenagers and the little Outsider who had fought

them savagely. And lost. As a side-note, I eventually made

every one of those kids pay for it. They had almost inadvertently

robbed me of fifty million.

I have since read Tuhutu’s report to the Town Sheriff. I

keep an electronic copy of it backed-up and shielded. I figure

one day I can use it. Perhaps when I’m writing my Memoirs.

“Buy you a drink?” Tuhutu asked me when he sat down at my

table.

“No. I own the bar.”

“Ahh,” he said, and smiled. Sparkling white teeth are so

rare on Mars. I didn’t feel so bad for what I was about to do.

My teeth are some fewer than they used to be. Maybe it’s the

local diet.

“To business then,” he said and took a proffered chair at my

right elbow.

“To business. Sure.”

“As you know, Sir, my company has a plan for Mars. We need

an associate here.”

“I gathered that much. Terraform projects come and go

around here. So do companies. And outsiders.”

He smiled again. I wanted to hit him. You don’t, however,

become the man that runs everything from behind the scenes

without learning some measure of restraint. I’ve become a master

at it.

“Yes,” he said. “I agree. They do come and go, as I

eventually will. I cannot see myself living here, although it is

not unlike some places I know back home. Except for the sky,” he

said and quivered almost imperceptibly. I caught it, though.

Student of human nature? That’s me.

“And the air,” I said.

“And the air. But the projects, the companies and the

outsiders–such as myself–they come and go. Which is why we

need an associate. Someone outside of government.”

“And incorruptible,” I said, and smiled. I couldn’t help

myself.

“Just so.”

“The only problem is,” I began. I raised my arms above my

head, leaned back in my chair and stretched as if I had all the

time in the world, which I did. He waited. “. . . Is that I

don’t associate. I hire and fire. Nobody is my partner, and for

damned sure nobody is my boss.”

“This is known,” he said and leaned back himself. He smiled

and spun the combination to his briefcase. “And appreciated.

Perhaps associate is too strong a word.”

“Friend?” I asked. “I don’t have any friends.” It was

true. I couldn’t afford them, not in my line of work.

“Not friend, then,” he said. “I will let you think of the

word. First I must tell you what we propose.”

And so he told me.

By the time our meeting was done an hour later he was headed

back to the spaceport in the inner city. I was fifty million

credits richer.

Also, if I was a betting man, I would have lost.

I watched the little Black man as he left. I noticed two

bodyguards flanking him after donning his helmet and stepping out

into the pale pink martian sunshine. They were toughs. Heavies.

Also, I’d never seen them before. They were spacers, brought

down from orbit during the night to accompany Tuhutu to our

meeting. You can always tell outsiders by the way they nervously

hop as they step, uncertain as they are in the lesser martian

gravity. That’s probably how the teenagers had marked Jaim

Tuhutu to begin with.

Mars. Dead old Mars. My Mars. She would never be the same again.

 

I’ve seen it all. The dream had been there since the time

of Percivel Lowell: to make Mars earth-like, with seas and

cloudy skies and dolphins playing in the surf. I’ve seen the

various plans and schemes from scientific agencies of national

governments. Pipe-dreams all; but for a one-eighth Irish Black

man from the Dark Continent of Old Earth. A man brought up from

a Nairobi shanty town to wealth and influence.

I had always known that it would take nothing less than

economic necessity–the necessity of balance-sheet figures and

corporate board meetings–to bring the dream to reality. And not

a little magic.

“Not in my lifetime” I had always thought, by way of meaning

“never”.

 

No one was killed in the initial onslaught. By that time

most of Mars was underground. Including yours truly.

The fusion bombs hit the ice caps on schedule, sending

millions of tons of dry ice and water vapor into the atmosphere.

The ancient Titan and Atlas rockets came later, their once deadly

fission warheads replaced with spores, molds, and micro-organisms of every ilk compacted into impossibly small spaces and numbering in the trillions.

What makes an earthlike planet? An aeon or two of extreme

vulcanism followed by slow geologic and hydrographic processes;

the subduction of land masses and the vomiting forth of the

materials that comprise life, again and again. I’d been studying

up on it lately. Studying up on Old Earth.

Tuhutu had known it all the whole time. He had seen it and

fundamentally understood it. Also–and this was the sheer genius

of it–-he had devised a way to compress it all down into one

weekend of bombardment from space.

Efficiency in the extreme. Most old-world plans for

terraforming said it would take lifetimes, centuries.

Not Tuhutu’s plan.

It was over before it had well begun.

 

“Boss, you got a call.” It was my bartender. The New

Scotch Armory Tavern had been rebuilt somewhere approximating the vicinity of where it had once stood. There was no way of knowing for sure where anything had been. Not even the satellite

computers could tell.

A year had passed.

It was raining out. I didn’t think I would ever get used to

rain.

“Yes?” I said into the comm.

“How is the weather?” It was Tuhutu.

“Nothing but rain. And mud,” I said.

“My projection allowed for that,” he said. “But grass will

grow.”

“Oh, It’s growing alright,” I said. “I’m just hoping it

will stop raining long enough to cut it. Which reminds me, we

need lawnmowers here.”

“I will put you in touch with a associate of mine,” he said.

“He makes lawnmowers. The best in the system.”

“You know,” I began. “I never believed you. I never

thought for a moment it would work.”

“You thought perhaps you were robbing me.” I couldn’t see

his smile, but I got a mental picture of a too-toothy grin.

“Well. . . Yes.”

“I come from a long line of tribesmen,” he said. “Holy

men.”

“Witch-doctors,” I said.

“Rain-makers. Even so,” he said.

“I feel like I should return the money,” I told him. I

couldn’t believe the words were coming out of my mouth. My

bartender just stared at me.

“You were paid for tacit consent,” he said.

“Tacit consent?”

“Yes.”

Just at that moment there was a lightning flash outside,

followed instants later by a rattling boom.

It was true. I had been paid to move not a muscle when the

Bill went through the Martian Senate. Most of the senators were

on my payroll. Nothing ever got moving on Mars if I shook my

head “no” from the second-floor gallery whenever the Senate was

in session every two years. Tuhutu and his company people had

known that. Senate approval had been unanimous. Julius Caesar,

eat your heart out.

“Rain-maker?” I mused. “More like Thor, God of Thunder.”

“Seven-eighths Thor,” he said.

 

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