A Broad Spectrum Solution
Author’s Note: You can’t write about Mars very long / often without seeing the humour in a plot line. Any plot line.
“Mission Update? Over,” asked the DS.
As we were 21 light minutes from Earth I had what was usually more than adequate time to formulate an answer. But this time it wasn’t going to be enough. Nope.
Well. Briefly what happened is Lt Smith, aka ‘Greenie’, the Mission Botanist and a bit of a nut case had ‘assisted’ one of the two Martian lifeforms we had found – the ‘oppressed’ one, according to him – by releasing an antibiotic agent into the underground cavity we had just examined to destroy the ‘oppressor’ lifeform, in the belief that he was ‘helping’ preserve the Martian environment.
Unfortunately the antibiotic had the same effect on both Martian lifeforms which, in case you aren’t aware, consists exclusively of just two kinds of microscopic bacteria. You’d think he would have done some preliminary tests or maybe, just thought about it a bit before playing God, but no, he didn’t. He just went off and ‘saved the planet’.
And as the entire habitable environment of Mars consists of a few brine-filled cavities interconnected by small fissures and crevices and occupies the volume of your typical Wal-Mart, it took neither much of the agent nor a long time to ‘settle the score’, as Greenie so succinctly, feverishly, and simply put it. As if!
“Hello? Anybody there? So what happened? The Boss is here and he wants an update, first hand. Over.” the DS asked, startling me out of a self-induced life-avoidance trance.
How was I to explain that we had just destroyed the only lifeform ever found off Earth? How was I going to explain the deaths of Lt Smith and Chief Engineer MacDonald, of half the crew? Poor old Mac, who had taken it upon himself to ‘avenge’ the Martian lifeforms as he had put it. Rock-tossing? Rock-tossing!!! Why couldn’t they have battled it out using rifles? Why did it have to be rocks. Savages!
And how could I spin this to good effect. How could I salvage my career? Er, save the mission.
I was interrupted by Lt Commander Ripley, the Communications Officer.
Normally I didn’t mind being interrupted by her, but today? Well today was different. It was not her job to explain this. No, inescapably it fell onto my shoulders to explain this PR disaster to his personage, the supreme leader. To a man well-known for his business acumen but not for his patience or compassion. Or intellect.
“This is not going to go down well,” I ventured.
“I have an idea.”
“Yes, go on.”
“You are aware the human body is largely composed of billions of bacteria?”
“Umm. Yes. Go on.”
“Well, it turns out that the bacteria are largely customized to the individual. My bacteria and your bacteria are different. Different from all others.”
“Umm. Yes. Go on.”
“So. We dump the bodies in the cavity and say they died during the exploration. Their bacteria will re-populate the whole planet. I’d wager it won’t take long.”
“That’s brilliant! That is completely believable.”
“All we need to do is keep quiet about it.”
“So are you in?”
“You bet.” Why not? What could possibly go wrong? We hugged. A deal. Done and done.
The comer beeped. I grinned at Ripley, turned to the screen and launched my sad face with my sad voice.
“Kirk here. Sad story. I’m afraid…..”
And so began the destruction of the Earth and all of its human population. Sure it took a few years, but…..