|(Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)|
People often ask me what the most important thing about colonising planets is. I swear, they ask questions like that all the time, and I'm convinced they want me to answer with something exciting, filled with much bravado and swinging between starships with plasma cannons held in our teeth.
This has never happened, ever. Also, don't try it. Ever. Plasma cannons have an annoying habit of going off unexpectedly, and your head won't grow back.
Trust me, I've seen it happen...
Anyway, here's the thing, right: the truth about planetary colonisation is that, well, it's boring. Everyone thinks it's going to be exciting, but it's just not. There's no death-defying fights against hostile aliens (plasma cannons again; hostile aliens tend to run away), the Science Institute's forcefield technology means that even hypercanes can't touch us, and if things do get a bit scary, standard colonisation procedure is to run away, and wait till the natives die out.
The point is this: none of those things really matter when you break ground on a new colony. No, I shall tell you what really matters:
Seriously, the standard colony size the Science Institute sends out is around 600 members, and once we've made planetfall, we have to find some way to feed them all. Sure, we can send out the agriculture-mechs, but people get bored when all they have to eat is scropweed, right? Right, and don't tell me you wouldn't get bored if you only had scropweed to eat.
I mean come on, it's scropweed.Yes, I know it's incredibly nutritious, and yes, I know we were incredibly lucky to find it on that planet we colonised in the Vala Rell system, but the simple fact is that it tastes like perforated anus.
I've seen crews mutiny over that stuff. Just... no...
We're omnivores, we need meat in our diet, it's as simple as that. But where oh where does one find meat that's safe to consume on a world where the biochemistry is so radically different to our own?
Well I'm proud to say that I was the one who found the solution, on a rather backwards planet the Institute had been keeping under surveillance for a while. None of us knew that the indigenous creatures of this little planet would be our saviours, until one of us (that would be me, by the way) wondered whether they might actually be edible...
Well, praise the ancients, they were!
Not only that, but as was belied by their hideously ugly forms, they were unbelievably tasty! And so, our solution was clear: we began husbandry trials on these ugly creatures, to bring out their docile traits, and better improve their flesh-value for livestock purposes.
I'm sure you remember the news reports around the time. Everyone does. All those wild stories about how we were killing intelligent animals, just because they could use tools. Well let me tell you, many creatures on our old homeworld use tools, and that never stopped us eating them. Besides, we ran every single test imaginable, and I can personally guarantee that those creatures are not sentient.
They may use tools, but trust me on this, they do not show any signs of true sapience, and as we all know, the ability to open your mouth and wobble bits of it at people is not a mark of intelligence. Walthron-beasts can do that, after all, and I don't see you complaining about having nice, big steak to eat.
You'd have more luck finding intelligence in a rock than in one of those beasts, is what I'm saying.
Still, the ethics committee found nothing wrong in all of our tests, so we steamed on ahead, and let me tell you right now, the only reason our colonisation plans took off so quickly, the only reason our civilisation now spans four hundred star systems, is because of those ugly, pink things from that backwards planet that nobody likes going to.
Like I said, the most important part of any colonisation effort is food supplies, and the simple fact is this:
We wouldn't be where we are today, if we hadn't started eating 'humans'...
© 2013 Mark W. Bonnett
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