Jasper Mullins was one of the few remaining independent miners. There had been a mining boom fifty years before when technology created mineral scanners, mining lasers and ships capable of fast interstellar travel. Most of his kind had found sudden death rather than sudden riches. Mining was dangerous.
Jasper had survived by being cautious, but he had also never quite gotten rich enough to quit. As mining rights got more and more restricted he found a sweet deal in a star system named Eden 51. The local government was a monarchy, and the King had granted him exclusive mining rights to the asteroid belt between the fifth and sixth planets. The only catch was he could not mine one particular rock. It was sacred, but there were a thousands of others to choose from.
The King was a different race or maybe even species than the people he governed. Jasper thought they must be slaves of some sort. But they were peaceful, passive, happy, and more than willing to trade with him. He would not risk this opportunity worrying about those people.
He had been accumulating small amounts of gold, platinum, silver, copper, and latinum. The real money was in the metal crystals, he had a couple dozen gold crystals, hundreds of silver and one single platinum. These formed in the hardest of rocks, under conditions impossible on planets. Most colonies didn’t even know they existed, but the ones that did valued them higher than any jewel.
The computers had taken over the mechanical process of scanning different asteroids and planning which ones to mine, leaving Jasper with time on his hands. He used it to visit with the King. He studied non-planar calculus. He also wondered about that sacred rock.
The computer had scanned it along with the others. It was too hard for the scanner to penetrate; he had never seen that before. His imagination speculated what might be inside an asteroid that hard. No one had ever found a latinum crystal before. He figured, if such a thing existed, it was there in that rock.
He approached the King asking for rights to mine it. But was strongly rebuked. He offered to trade the gold and silver crystals for the rights. The king refused and positioned gunships nearby. Jasper felt this action signified a final answer. So instead of asking again he planned a way to do it without the rights
Although the gunships would be watching him, he would often go to the back side of the rocks. So he went behind a fast moving asteroid, then when it passed by the sacred stone he slipped around behind it, keeping out of sight of his guards. He left a drone on the other rock doing mining operations to cover the static he would make
So now that he was here, he had to work quickly. He scanned again with the more powerful short range scanner. But still the rock was too hard to penetrate. He made the decision then to use the mining laser to make a small incision. It would be hardest on the outside. Once through this layer he expected to be able to make a successful scan.
The laser took longer to bite into the hard rock than normal, and Jasper feared the electrical and radiowave whitenoise generated would attract the gunboats. Despite these fears he continued until finally he saw a crack open up on the surface. He withdrew the laser and prepared to scan again, but then noticed the crack was spreading.
He fearfully watched as the cracks spread over the entire surface of the asteroid. Jasper knew the gunboats would see it; they might already be gathering. His fate was sealed. But still he had to know what was in there
Then the sacred rock broke apart. He found out what was in it. Not minerals or crystals, but creatures came out. Something like winged dragons, which flew in space by spitting fireballs. Several were fired in his general direction, none hit him, but only because his small ship was nimble. Whatever they hit was destroyed. Entire asteroids shattered into thousands of pieces.
The gunships opened up on the creatures, but failed to hinder them. The creatures destroyed all the fleet in the next few seconds. Thousands of lives lost. Jasper then watched helplessly as the creatures headed toward the heavily populated fifth planet. Nothing in his experience allowed him to process what he was seeing. Not knowing what else to do, he followed them. The King’s ship met him in orbit above the planet.
He was taken to the King’s attending room. The King asked why Jasper had committed this crime. He could only answer he didn’t know this would be the result The King asked what price Jasper would pay for his crime. Jasper had no answer. Instead of executing him, the King made him watch what was happening on the surface of the planet.
The creatures settled down in different spots, and instead of killing the population, they enslaved them. They no longer worked for themselves, but instead were forced to spend their now shorter, unhappy lives feeding and serving the creatures. Billions of free and happy beings were transformed by bitter servitude. They were tortured for the entertainment of the creatures. They died young because of their hard labor and lack of care.
Jasper was forced to watch the process unfold over several months. Then one day the king said it was enough. Jasper was glad; he thought anything was better than watching the misery he had caused. The King made a new sacred stone, then defeated and gathered the creatures which had become fat and incapable of fighting. Once again they were imprisoned in the asteroid. Finally he came and took Jasper, who was transformed into a creature like the others, and placed him into that prison too.
The idea for the above flash fiction piece came to me last night. Now that it is written out I don’t especially like it. Can you see why? Do you see the parallels and what are the strengths and weaknesses of those correlations? Comments welcome, postive or negative. After all, I already admitted I don’t like it much.