Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Microstory 858: Scorpion Virus

The Scorpion Virus. My people first encountered this deadly pathogen millions of years ago on our home planet, which you now call Mars, in your primary language. Symptoms begin like any flu, but quickly become something much worse. Your body weight will dramatically shift to the upper body parts, and your legs will become weak. Within days, you won’t be able to hold yourself up, and you’ll be forced to crawl on your hands and knees. Over the course of the next few weeks, a tumor will develop on your lower back, and curl upwards, resembling a tail with a barb on the end. It will keep you alive like this indefinitely, but only if you do what it tells you. Now, while it’s a highly intelligent virus, it is not capable of taking over your mind. In fact, our scientists never found any significant change to the neural makeup of the infected. As long as you agree to become a vector, and spread the virus to healthy individuals, it will let you live long enough to do so. If you refuse, or if you do not detect any nonsymptomatic people around, it will cut its losses, and kill you. S3V9 nearly wiped out our entire species, leaving only a few survivors who managed to sequester themselves on a secret island while the rest of our planet succumbed to this pandemic, and died. The majority of these survivors were engineers and scientists, but they also included a hefty portion of general laborers. Some of our ancestors wanted to wait the virus out, but there was no proof it couldn’t go dormant, then return once they tried to go back to the mainlands. Their best option was to simply leave, and fortunately they were on a mineral rich island, so they built two giant exodus ships to take them offworld. At the time, we had only progressed far enough to reach just over half the speed of light, but we did know how to place people in stasis, so we set the ships on autopilot, and went to sleep.

One ship ended up in a galaxy millions of light years away, so you may ask, why didn’t we find some new world closer? Well, we believe the second ship did just that, but we have not seen them since. The people on the first ship wanted to be as far from ground zero as possible. My people have a history of intense paranoia, which is why we positively decimated the surface of our home planet as we left. We hit it so hard that it destroyed our atmosphere, and our magnetosphere. We wanted to be absolutely sure that the virus would have no way of surviving, which we’re not certain was good enough. Once we settled on our new home, we set about populating it, and developing our technology, starting pretty close from scratch. Generations later, some of us became curious about where we had come from, so we used our faster-than-light ships to come back. We were surprised to find you humans in this solar system, having evolved independently right next door to our old home. Had we stayed, we could have been neighbors. But seeing you made some of us angry and spiteful. Our forefathers spent all this time traveling so far away, and it was pointless. We could have gone somewhere closer, and been so much more advanced by now. Hell, we could have gone to Earth, and lived amongst you, if we wanted. Envy supplanted the anger, and a faction has now formed that’s intent on making you suffer the way our species once did, just because they don’t think it’s fair. My team and I think they are on their way back here as we speak, planning to wipe you out with samples of the virus that we kept preserved in the exodus ship, which many of us now worship as a holy place. They will start a war trying to get to the samples, and our projections show them winning. We can protect you, but you have to do what we say. Firstly, we need to study a few specimens from your homeworld that we believe hold the key to understanding how the virus started on Mars, and whether it already exists on Earth. I believe you call them...scorpions? It’s an interesting coincidence that we are eager to understand.

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