Bright Red Star
by Bud Sparhawk
Survivors isn’t exactly the word. What they found were sixteen bodies without arms, legs, and most organs. What remained were essentially heads hooked up to life support and fueled by oxygenated glucose pumps. There were a couple hundred strands of glass fibre running from the ship’s walls into each skull, into each brain, into each soul. Four of the sixteen were still functioning–alive is not a word to describe their condition.
There was no hesitation on the part of Command. They ordered everyone, except combat types like us, from the most likely targets. Humanity couldn’t allow any more people to become components for the Shardie offense.
But civilians never listen. Farmers were the worse, hanging onto their little plots and crops until somebody dragged them away, kicking and screaming at the injustice of it all. That’s why we were here. Forty settlers had stupidly refused to be evacuated from New Mars. Forty we didn’t know about until we got that one brief burst.
My mission was to make certain that they didn’t become forty armless, legless, gutless, screamless weapon components.