Easy Targets

The missionaries crossed the dull gray landscape slowly, their buggy straining with the weight of their supplies, even at this low gravity. Easy targets.

Eunomia was well past its boomtown days. The ringwoodite deposits, rich in hydrates, had all been depleted and shipped across the Belt. It was a cruel irony, then, that generations later the desperately needed water and oxygen would have to be imported. Breathing was rationed, and the children grew up weak and slow.

Burduni’s children didn’t attend the mission’s schools—he had no intention of abandoning the gods of his father—and that meant they had no access to these basic materials that 16 billion earthbound souls took for granted by the second.

No more.

As the missionaries crossed the lip of the Taxalxa crater and descended into the shadow, Burduni painted them with a salvaged mining laser. In the introspective silence of Eunomia’s surface, the bubble of the buggy’s cabin burst open and spilled its contents like an egg shell dropped to the kitchen floor. His interest was not in watching them die, so he followed his tunnel vision directly to the bounty stowed in the trailer.

My water. And my oxygen. For my children.

Something swiped at his lower back, and he was suddenly laying face up on the regolith, his dismembered legs beside his torso. He smelled something foul in the upper half of his cauterized suit, and a strong taste of almonds wrapped his tongue.

A space-suited missionary stood above him with a pulse rifle—since when do missionaries carry weapons?—breathing onto his faceplate. She made the sign of her gods and sent Burduni to go find his.

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