Keeping the lines from blurring

 

I step off the shuttle with all intention of doing my duty.

For 18 years, I have lived my life giving and receiving orders, ignoring the minor deatil of whether I live or hate the men I command or those who command me.

My father raised me this way, teaching me to see the fine line between order and chaos.

The blur it is to invite disaster.

Over those years, I have found my own reasons for keeping the faith, needing to stay in control of the essential details of my life.

All this rocks a little when the hatch opens and I stand at the top of the metal stairs and look out at the surface of Faer III.

A wave of heat and stench flows over me like a physical blow and I stagger back against the on coming business men who have journeyed here with me from orbit.

Fright is the wrong word for how I feel.

I act a little giddy maybe even drunk so that the other passengers eye me as if thinking I have consumed a full gourd of Aljar Nectar.

One man in a well-tailored suit raises his nose so high with indignity I think hell soon get a nose bleed.

I press myself against the still-warm skin of the ship as he and others parade out into the hot air without fear.

I watch them as they reach the sandy soil below and then make their way across the surface towards the milk-colored dome in the distance, which makes life possible on this planet.

Why is there no transport?

Why are we walking when on any other civilized planet, vehicles would carry us from here to there?

The answer is obvious. This is not a civilized planet. This is a minor out post on a world with only one great city.

Such places at this provide only the barest of accommodations a back woods stop over in a world without much in the way of woods to speak of.

Most of what surrounds us here is plain and beyond the plains, ridges and gullies of the Thundies Mountains, a ragged spine miles high that runs up the center of the planet giving it the look of an alligator from space, or perhaps better a crouching gargoyle. At one point, the mountains even branch off giving the gargoyle wings.

As backward as this place is, Henbra Station is also vital in maintaining the planets strip mining operations. So for this reach it has become a military outpost against the mountain tribes that would drive the corporation off the planet if they could.

Since the corporation has no intentions of leaving, it employees people like me to fight back although for some reason most of those who preceded me failed miserably, despite having technology a thousand times more advanced that our savage enemies.

It is the mountains and crags that defeat us.

No occupation force regardless of how powerful can occupy all the caves and valleys here, and the best we can do it batter them where we can and hope to starve them out.

We level villages, cut supply lines, but the rebels always find off world dealers who make money trading weapons and food for the rare minerals the rebels provide.

We execute these dealers when we find them, but we find so few.

Down deep, I agree with many of the natives gripes. We occupy their world, export their natural resources and give them almost nothing in return.

But isnt this the price a people pay for siding with the wrong side after any war?

This planet was part of the greater revolution, and when the corporation won, they suffer.

A vehicle approaches from the direction of the dome, its jets leaving a trail of dust the travelers from the shuttle must inhale.

The vehicle stops at the foot of the ladder and a gnarled beast with tree limbs for arms and legs climbs out. While even the mans face looks more like something growing off a tree, I know he is a human, one of the countless varieties of human descendants that has survived the millenniums after we weeded the universe, by adapting to the environment it found.

This bred came from some forest world, clearly not the one upon which we currently stand.

Because I have not dressed in my uniform, he asks if I am General Stanton.

When I say I am, he says hes come to drive me to my appointment.

The man makes me uncomfortable, and at first, Im not sure why.

But I am so accustomed to following orders that I step down the ladder and into his air car where I am greeted by two other men just like him.  These two, however, are pointing guns at me.

I am still not yet afraid, although I foresee the next few hours filled with threats, torture even death.

I try to convince the three men of the folly of kidnapping me.

Others like me will come just as I followed those they previously killed.

We will keep coming until we wear out the planet, forcing their kind to become more and more savage so that in the end we will feel perfectly justified when we slaughter them all.

In the end, we will simply nuke all of the mountains and then worry about recovering the bodies later.

The first man tells me to shut up and then drives not towards the dome, but towards the mountains where I shall die, but never blurring that fine line between civilized and savage.

 

 


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