Blood in alien snow
I see the blood when I pause to admire the setting of this planetís two suns.
At first, I mistake the red liquid for melting snow reflecting the rich colors in the sky. But this high up on the tundra, the snow does not melt with anything short of a blaster blast.
And I can smell the stench of human blood as sharply as if it is my own.
The humans in the village resented my coming, claiming the beasts of the north are harmless, even though from time to time they carry off some of the women.
I know better. I have been beasts on every planet turn mean after extended contact with the human race.
I cannot fault them. Humanís have a way of spreading hatred with every planet they touch, carrying with them disease and pollution that drives out those who lived in these places first.
Perhaps I would ban humans from colonization, but they have the vote on the council, so we all must live with their bad habits and their bad attitudes.
Still, their arrogance stings as I look north for the signs of the winged creatures who took off with their two women.
The humans seeing me and my profession as vulgar, thinking because I come from a war like race I must want to destroy them.
Maybe I do. But I serve them none the less, doing their bidding at moments like this, fighting their wars with these savage races of the rim when treaties fail.
I try to imagine the beast that carried off the women here, leather wings flapping as they fly close to the ground.
Maybe the wound comes from some accidental contact with ice or tree limb, though the more I think of the talons digging into the humanís soft flesh, I suspect the worst.
Although members of the council called me from a near by planet to investigate, local humans pleaded with me not to harm the creatures, telling me that they have been peaceful all these years and would not suddenly become vicious.
I ignorant these humans are of the slow boiling of outrage other races feel when having spent too much time in close proximity with the human race.
Yet the explanation may not be so nefarious.
Planets change for reasons of their own, with or without the help of humanityís foul habits.
One planet recently saw its atmosphere turn poisonous, whipping out the entire unsuspecting human population over night.
Others turned volcanic, or melted into some gaseous state making their surface no longer suitable to human occupation.
While members of the council do not believe this is unusual, I suspect some greater phenomena in process, as if the body of the universe was finally rejecting the spreading human virus, turning off those places where humanity might breed in the hope of putting an end to it.
I move on, my foot steps cracking the surface of icy snow that the beasts ahead of me never touched, as if I am the first being to wander into this space, my footsteps leaving a mark by which the other races, human and non-human may follow.
Guilt floods me as I hurry, hoping to reach the beasts and kill them before the last of the blood drains out of the women they have captured.
When I come upon the beasts, they are still sucking at the veins of the clearly dead women, drunk on the blood the way humanís get drunk on alcohol.
The idea stuns me, but I take aim just the same, knowing I am wrong in killing these poor beasts, knowing that in the end, they must all die in order that humanity must live, and I -- pulling the trigger of my blaster -- will continue to be humanityís instrument.