The first chapter of a book I will complete one day.
I hated this godforsaken world. The sun was blistering hot. The landscape was rocky and tan and boring. What little water fell bumped in holes on the ground from the heat of the rock. I was on patrol all day in this heat, hunting varmints. The first wave were back at the camp, lying on artificial beaches and drinking from artificial coconuts under artificial palm trees. Safely under the camp dome, they were relaxing and enjoying their afternoon. Out on patrol there was just withering heat. The cooling units in our uniforms had failed for pretty much all of the waves, but the first wave, being first, got the cooling rewards. The rest of us in the cleanup waves had to stay out in this hell, trying to find any of the varmints they missed. We needed to eradicate these things, but it was miserable out here. Sometimes I thought we should just decamp back to Casnine, leave this world and the things that lived here to die the long, slow, miserable heat death they were going to die anyway. But I guess that would be too inhumane.
I was hiding from the sun under a tarp when the motion detectors went off. The human emerged so nearby that it startled me. It stumbled out of a patch of cactus near a dilapidated concrete building that once housed a fueling station. Its tongue was swollen from thirst. It was wild-eyed and muttering, and very pregnant. It was a female. Somehow, they were still breeding. I watched it stumble along the walls of the fueling station, one hand on the wall, the other trying to steady itself. The engorged belly made it off balance, having to halt a fall every few feet. It managed to knock down the door of the building and go in. A minute later it came out, clutching cellophane wrapped food that had somehow survived the microwave bombing. And a bottle of liquid water. I didn’t even think that was possible with the microwave bombs, but then again, the varmints had survived somehow, too, and they were mostly water. The science team was not infallible despite their cleangenes. I made a mental note to bring that up to the brass when I got back to Casnine.
The human ambled toward the cactus, probably intending to creep back in and find shelter. I moved the tarp off me. The sun blistered my uniform again, and I lowered the neutral density filters on the helmet. I guess it didn’t see me or it would have moved faster, or maybe it was already dying. I walked up to it and brought out the gun. I shot it in the back, right through the belly. The best thing is to make sure to kill the offspring. Otherwise, those things might live and go on to breed again. The second shot was through the chest. Both shots came so rapidly that it barely made a sound as it died. Just like this whole planet.
I picked up the bottle of water. Artisani brand, the label read. Earth crazy. They pretended to own water. Somehow it was still sealed. I held up the bottle in a toast to the first wave. Those poor altgenes never got to personally rid The System of a varmint like this. Well, two varmints, technically. They never got to pause and enjoy the experience, the fruits of a job well done. I scanned the bottle with the gun, and it found no genes. I opened my helmet and the bottle, and drank the water down under the blistering sun.
It was so hot it nearly burned my tongue.
Smiling for the first time all day, I went back to hunting varmints.