Petrolea 14c

“Of course.” Feroza’s lips thinned. “So what happens if the attack does not only fails, but also further antagonizes the ecosystem?”

“Let them,” said Victor. “Now that we know what’s happening, we’ll fight back. The only reason a Rocket-seed destroyed the orbital station was because they didn’t see it coming. A real battle between humans and some ancient mutant robot ecosystem–“

Feroza made a ball with her hands and exploded it with a “Poosh!”

“Exactly,” said Victor. “We’d win. We’d blow the damn moon to pieces!”

“No,” said Feroza. “I meant ‘poosh, we would cause the moon to sporulate.'”

And again his mental map lead him to a dead end. A cliff over a waterfall with sharp rocks at the bottom. Victor closed his eyes. “I don’t know what ‘sporulate’ means.”

“Imagine more than one rocket launching at the same time,” said Feroza. “Imagine all of them launching all at once.”

Obediently, horribly, Victor did imagine it. A puff of silver specks flying out from Titan like the seeds from a dandelion. But not drifting randomly on the winds of space. These Rocket-seeds would direct themselves toward orbital stations, ships, even groundside bases in the inner system. Human weapons might blow apart a rocket, but so what? Its payload of mechanoids would spread out through space, waiting until the little robots hit a metallic asteroid or something else digestible, like a space-craft. He imagined waves of factors overwhelming a trans-Jovian liner, an iron spider-crab clicking across a Martian dome.

“It would make sense in many ways,” said Feroza. “Both scatter your genetic material and reduce your competition.”

“We have to warn someone,” said Victor. “Even if,” it was physically impossible to say “if no rescue comes,” his throat would not open to let the words through. They could not be true. “No matter what happens. If this place…sporulates, it could threaten people all over the solar system. Hell, what if one of those things falls on Earth?”

Feroza looked thoughtful. “The mechanoids inside would probably die of oxidation.”

“Well, alright, but what about the Jovian stations, or Mars or any of the other habitats? Not to mention uninhabited asteroids. These things could digest the solar system right out from under us! We have to get the word out so they can–“

“What,” said Feroza, “put Petrolea in the autoclave and sterilize the place? Because that’s what we do with competitors, don’t we, stupid apes that we are. The second our precious patch of real estate is in danger, we drop all our enlightened talk of peaceful research and start clawing and biting.”

This entry was posted in Serialized Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.