I wrote this teaser intro to a story I desperately wanted to write after my first philosophy course i college, and intro to logic course. At the time I had become fascinated with the idea of humans adopting a purely logical culture and how that might effect their society. At the time I was more fixated on the social aspects and less so the technology and science, though if I ever do finish it, I would still call it a work of science fiction.
Colonization of the solar system was once a dream. But when I was born, there was thought to be a new found homeland for some. Sometime before I came along, a large group of scientists, philosophers, and the occasional dreamer had thought they had found a way of sustaining and eventually conquering a planet. The planet that was of course chosen was the god of war. I remember learning in school as a child about the moral outrage among the activists about terra-forming an alien planet and the debates that took place in the government over who had rights in space. In the end, an exodus still occurred. 100,000 people took the leap through the cosmos to our Martian neighbor.
But that was all I and the rest of the world really knew about the colonization of Mars. Politics have a way of slowing any ambition down to molasses in winter, and science was no exception. The world’s space organizations tried to spy on the settlers, but the dust clouds and tremendous distance between them and us made efforts both futile and taxing. In the long run everyone who talked about the settlers came to the conclusion that they had died en route or in the impossible process of terra-forming the Martian lands. That was the world I was born into.
At the top of my class in anthropology and minoring in political systems, it came as a shock to me that my government’s space program approached me after graduation. I had planned on doing my research on ancient cultures of the fertile crescent, a cliché to most, but a dream I had kept since learning about the origin of humanity in childhood. I am Dr. Oates, the first man to step foot on mars since the settlers did centuries ago.
Perhaps it was because I had written a paper on isolated cultures and their development for an anthropology class my third year of college or my devilish good looks, but for some reason I was asked by a man in a black suit at my graduation ceremony to accompany him to an isolated base in the desert. Along the way I was briefed by another man in a cheap blue suit, a politician, and a man in a green uniform, a general, that activity had been spotted near the equator of mars several months ago and an expedition was being arranged.
I of course had questions.
I wanted to know if they had tried to make contact with the people there?
And was there any luck?
No, apparently my government had never stopped trying to make contact with the Martian settlers since their emigration from earth. But until a satellite in geosynchronous orbit around the planet mars for almost 20 years had spotted what appeared to be a village, there was no contact.
And finally, the cherry to top it all: What did this have to do with me?
Apparently, they really did like my paper, along with some theories I had proposed in my dissertation about how cultures develop. Apparently my government had liked how I thought so much that they thought I should be the one to make contact with the settlers.
WHAT? ME? I was an dumb kid, sure I was 28, but still, ME?! The way the politician explained it, the psych exam I had taken a few years for a paid government experiment- a confidential one- asserted that I had a profound way of reading other people and interpreting them. I was rather flattered and insulted by the invasion of privacy, but my being an apparent super-sociopath and a degree in people made me an ideal candidate; I was also the only candidate for this top secret project that was under 50 and most likely to survive the rigors of an interplanetary journey. Personally it was all to far fetched for me and I finally came to the personal conclusion that the government figured it would be cheaper to send a civilian into space than some super soldier, I was expendable. But none the less, the politician and the general were very convincing, from the guilt of my duty to my country to a very generous sum of money that awaited me when- if I returned from the journey.
In the end, I agreed for a reason that probably sounds absurd, solitude. Apparently I was going solo to the planet. No back up team of super scientists to tell me the radiation levels or some linguist in case their language had gone in some bizarre direction. Just me. It didn’t make sense to me either, so I asked more questions.
Why would you send me there alone?
A very small shuttle is necessary to make the trek to mars without alerting the rest of the world to our activities.
What if I run into a situation in space I can’t handle?
The shuttle is equipped with the cutting edge in life support technology.
How do you know for sure its safe to step foot on the planet at all?
We don’t. But satellite photos have presented evidence that the atmosphere is now sustainable.
Why would you send me there alone again?
Current budget issues only allow for a small mission to mars, no one really cares about the space program any more.
Then why all the secrecy?
We still have enemies.
It was all so very confusing to me and for a while I thought it was a bad joke. The word ludicrous had crossed my mind more than once. Then the ultimate question:
What am I supposed to do once I get there?
Study the settlers, befriend them, and create an environment where we can foster a relationship with them.
I knew why it was classified. The bastards had it down to a science now, no more war, no instigating a revolution, simply make friends with a people to get whatever it is you want from them, while quietly bleeding them dry all the while. Tell them whatever they want to hear in treaties and diplomatic relations, sharing of technology, medicine, and culture. But in the end, the government simply takes and takes from them until their own people are starved of resources, culture, and humanity. Brilliant, honed by all the great empires of the past to such a sharp edge it would humble any black smith, and all with out a single drop of blood being shed. The perfect parasite. Brilliant.
Ethically I knew I was pitching for the bad guys, but the experience was to huge to pass up. Maybe I could feed them some half truths about the settler’s culture and customs and manage to play it off as a misinterpretation when the whole thing blows up in their face. Assuming there were settlers out there at all, and air.