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Mining Titan

Sean Vivier--pronounced like Vivian, but with an R--works full time as a web developer for a nonprofit, where he makes web apps that predict the results of health interventions around the world. He also moonlights as a ballroom dance instructor for his local Arthur Murray. Somehow, he finds time to write at least a scene of science fiction or fantasy every day. He is not a workaholic. He can stop working any time he likes.
It rained as they set foot on Titan. Liquid methane rolled down Bruce Villareal's suit and left a puddle beside the ice that served for ground. He noted Samira Boutros beside him, and her suit glistened wet with methane as well. The place abounded in it. Why else mine the moon for it?
Mountains of ice loomed beside an entire lake of liquid methane. Beneath the impenetrable orange sky and the dark methane clouds, they saw the azotosomic native lifeforms as they swam in the lake and gathered the methane in their sacs, only to disgorge their burdens on the frozen land. Slaves to the human colonists.
Samira took his hand in hers. He knew what the gesture meant without words. The atrocity of it all. They had to put a stop to this.
Longswimmer guided its latest budchild beneath its fins. The spawn had to learn the work somehow. The work kept The People safe. Upset the alien conquerors and they pulsed lightning into your very body. But gather the lake's contents for them, and their fury abated.
The budchild spoke in magnetic vibrations. "Why must we give them the stuff of our homes?"
Longswimmer watched to make sure the aliens stood too far to sense the meaning of the vibrations. "They use it to give life to their transportation."
"Well, why do they take it from us and not elsewhere? And why must we be the ones to bring it to them?"
For that, Longswimmer had no real answer. "They will hurt us if we do not."
"Then they are threats." The budchild released its nascent claws. "We kill threats."
Longswimmer had to admit, albeit in silence, the sentiment echoed in its own mind.
They'd agreed to stay radio silent, to avoid any chance of signal interception. A Villareal and a Boutros had every reason to be here, but even they must face security if their plans became revealed.
Besides, all the words had been spoken long ago by those far more eloquent. Slavers are hostis humani generis: enemies of all mankind. It is the right and duty of anyone who comes upon them to stand opposed to them. And when the machine robs you of your humanity, you must destroy that machine, even if you must throw your body into the gears to do it.
So there, beneath the many logos for Villareal Mining and Boutros Shipping, the unwitting children of slavemasters detonated an electromagnetic pulse. All around them, the machines that processed the methane and threatened the natives came to a standstill.
The workers fled, while Bruce and Samira awaited the liberated aliens
Something overwhelmed Longswimmer's language center. Something strong and overpowering. It had to clear its head many times to gain its bearings.
Upon the ice, the conqueror's monstrosities moved no more. The conquerors ran.
The budchild watched. "The aliens flee. They know fear."
Longswimmer pulsed negation, but the budchild had already reached the shore. The prods did nothing to harm it.
"The aliens have lost their weapons." The vibrations rippled across the entire lake. "We must take advantage. Kill them. Kill them all!"
The budchild surged onto ice, and the pod followed. Longswimmer had no more complaints. It followed alongside, filled with pride for its offspring, bud of its flesh.
Only two humans stood to face them. They raised their hands. Longswimmer knew not the significance, but it must be hostile, knowing them.
The pod tore them apart first. Served them right, to keep The People as slaves.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 29th, 2018


Sometimes, the oppressed--in their understandable and justified anger--will turn against those who would rather be their allies. This guilt by association on all sides is yet another perverse consequence of any oppressive system.

- Sean Vivier

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