Aftermath of the Water Wars

Submitted into Contest #158 in response to: Write about a character with questionable morals.... view prompt


Science Fiction Fiction

It’s been five years since our scouts found this planet. Our home was just like it once, before the population boomed and the planet developed into the technological, advanced civilization it is now. One thing we took for granted was the reason for our mission. We sought the fundamental resource our planet no longer had. Water. 

I thought back to my childhood when the Water Wars divided the world. The countries with natural water resources became the world powers. But even the most powerful and wealthy countries had a limit to their reservoirs. Thus, our society looked for solutions off-world. That's when the galactic fleet was formed. To search for new water sources. 

The bright planet came closer into view and we all gasped in awe at its beauty. The crew on my bridge started their scans. 

“Analysis?” I asked the nearest officer.

She gathered the data on her monitor. "It looks like the planet is almost 80% water. 95% of that is salt," she reported. 

"So, there is freshwater here?" I asked.

"Yes sir, my scans show freshwater sources within the land masses in lakes and rivers. Other sources are trapped in ice."

My heart raced. We had finally found salvation. I turned to face my bridge crew. They were the brightest engineers and scientists the world had to offer. I knew they were all just as excited about our mission as I was. We had all suffered from the water shortage back home. All of us had lost loved ones. Some died from dehydration. Most died from starvation when the lack of water depleted our agriculture and food supplies. Others died from the subsequent wars that followed.

A ceasefire to the war was called after long-distance telescopes discovered this new planet and hope was restored. It was the most peace the planet had seen in centuries. The crew was quickly selected from the best and brightest minds from around the globe. I was honored to be chosen as their captain. 

It was time to get the true mission underway. I started to give orders to my crew, "Prep the storage bay. Lieutenant, continue your scans. I want to find the largest source and start there."

"Yes, sir!" she said. 

The bridge exploded with a flurry of activity. Engineers tended to the machines and scientists rushed to their assigned sensors.

I turned back around and walked to the window looking down at the blue planet. So much water, so much potential here. I looked over at a monitor with the status of the storage bays. They were built specifically to hold and preserve freshwater. The size alone made this ship the largest ever constructed in the fleet. The world powers collaborated and constructed a vessel so massive that a single voyage could provide water planet-wide for a decade. 

The mission was simple. Find a large, suitable, freshwater location where we could land the ship. The storage bays would then vacuum up the freshwater, and then we leave. Some scientists advocated staying and studying the alien world. But the mission to bring back water was of utmost importance. A scientific voyage could be deployed after our safe, successful return. 

I thought back to home. My children would be able to brag to their friends that their father was a hero:captain of the ship that saved the world. I would be famous, my name put in every history book. I began to daydream about my upcoming fame. The bliss was interrupted when I heard shouting amongst the bustling crew. 

The door to the bridge whooshed open and I heard my first officer shout, "Ensign, stop!" 

A young ensign stormed on the bridge with my first officer following trying to stop him. I turned towards them, and the ensign reached out with both hands to me. "CAPTAIN! We need to abort the mission!" 

"I’m sorry sir, I tried to stop him." The first officer caught up, catching her breath. 

The ensign ignored his commander and continued; "Please captain, let me explain!" I studied the man. I recognized him from my crew roster. He was assigned to scanners. 

"So, you're disobeying orders from a superior?" I asked. 

"Sir, I’m sorry. Please, permission to speak."

I glanced at my first officer who looked utterly frustrated. I’m sure I would hear the story sooner or later. 

"Fine, permission granted." I said. 

The ensign straightened up and took out his tablet. "I found life forms on the planet."

I chuckled. "I assume you would. Water usually means life. I thought it was clear we would send another ship to study the alien flora/fauna after the initial mission."

"Sir, I know, but…"

I continued, "We knew there would be some impact to the environment, but our ecologists have reason to believe the local wildlife will be able to adjust with water loss."

"Intelligent life, sir!" He pointed to his tablet which had an image of cities sprinkled along the landscapes. 

I grabbed the tablet. Indeed, there were groupings of settlements, many of which were on or near water. I simply looked at the ensign. "This world has more water than they know what to do with," I said calmly. 

"But sir, we are stealing it! I don’t think they will be happy about it."

I gritted my teeth. Obviously, no one prepped this officer on the plan. There was no room for bleeding hearts on my bridge. Not when we were so close. Before I could dismiss the ensign, the communications officer cut in. "Sir, we may have a problem. I believe the locals have discovered us." 

"How is that possible?" I asked as I rushed to her monitor. 

"They appear to have satellites; we are receiving transmissions.” She pulled up a message that sounded like garbling and clicking. "Get the translator online." I ordered. 

The ensign was still on the bridge listening and perked up. "Translator?" he asked. "You mean you knew there was intelligent life here?"

I disregarded the ensign and focused on the message. It still sounded like nonsense. The translator computer would need time to buffer. 

I left the communications station and strode to the officer at the scanner. "We need to proceed now. Do we have a target?"

"Affirmative, sir." 

"Take us down then," I ordered to the helm. 

The ensign interrupted again, "No! We will cut off their freshwater! Thousands will die!"

I finally lost my patience. "And billions of OUR people will die without this water! You are relieved from duty, ensign. Take him off my bridge.”

Two security officers grabbed the ensign. He glared at me with utter disdain while he was dragged away. The other officers in the room remained silent. Only the soft beeping of the computers and scanners could be heard. 

What did this boy think was going to happen here? All of our jobs and all of our lives depended on this water. Of course, there were going to be casualties. 

When security left with the outspoken officer, I strode to the center of the bridge and sat in the captain’s chair. My first officer joined next to me. 

She nodded to me signaling we were ready to proceed. "We have our target. Helm, take us down,” I ordered.

"Yes, sir,” the pilot said. 

I stared out the window ahead as we began our descent to the lush planet below. We passed through clouds and saw the streaks of water press on the windows. This planet has plenty of water. The species will be able to survive. I kept telling myself. We approached the massive body of freshwater. I noticed an outline of a city on the coast. It reminded me of the pre-modern cities in the history books. It was nothing like the massive ecosystem of metal, industry and technology where we lived back home. The shadow of the ship dwarfed the city below. Our water landing will no doubt cause a tidal wave flooding the surrounding areas. But we need to land to take the water as fast as possible. Try not to think about it.

The ship hovered over the water. The helmsman waited for my order to proceed. It was standard procedure. I made our final checks. 

One station kept on beeping. It was communications. "What is it?" I asked. 

"We keep receiving transmissions. Translator is 50% complete.”

I ignored it. Our mission would take only a few moments. 

"Engineering, prepare the pumps. Helm, proceed" I said.

The communications station cut in again, “Sir. Translation is at 70%. I think you should listen.”

The helmsman froze. And the transmission played over the bridge. 

"Attention xxxshsssss aircraft. Leave nxxshhhess airspace immediately. We have zzrrxxxsh shxxzzz to your position. Retreat now or we will open fire."

Our translators needed more time to fully interpret the language. Some of the words were broken but the message was clear. I looked over to our defense chief. "What’s the status of their weapons?" 

"Pre-modern technology. No energy weaponry detected," he said.

"Then they are no threat, proceed," I responded. 

There was a pang of guilt with my actions. I knew these creatures had likely never encountered extraterrestrial life forms. But they were lesser creatures whose technology wasn’t as developed as ours. We came here on a mission. I was determined to see it through, without this water, my home planet would die out. 

The massive starship lowered towards the lake. As we made initial touchdown, the ship shook, and I heard a faint banging noise from the hull. 

"Status?" I asked. 

"They have opened fire. Shields are down to 25%." The defense chief responded. 

"How is that possible? I thought they didn’t have useful weapons." I asked.

The defense chief furiously typed at his station trying to find an explanation. I knew these creatures didn’t have our level of technology. We made sure of it before arriving. 

"They are using a type of kinetic projectile." The defense chief began to report before he was cut off by the communications station, “Sir, more transmissions. Translation at 100%."

"Play it," I demanded.

The full message was broadcast over the bridge. "Unidentified spacecraft. This is defense for the United States of America. We have opened fire. Retreat now or we will destroy your vessel."

I pointed a scaly finger at the officer on the engineering station. "What is the status of the pumps?" I hissed. 

Her claws typed away on the screen. "50%" she responded. 

Another barrage of kinetic weapons sprinkled the hull causing the ship to shake. The computers in the bridge let out their alarms. I saw the tiny machines fly over in front of the window. 

I shot up out of my seat, my tail flicked with rage. I hissed out orders, “Open fire!”

The defense officer started to shoot the lasers, but the little fighters were like insects compared to our massive vessel and we never landed a hit. 

“Give me reports!” I shouted. 

I heard shouts from all over the room. The shields were down. Power was being diverted from non-essential systems. 

I heard one of my ensigns’ reports, "Water storage at 75%." 

We were almost done here. So close to glory. We needed to finish this and return home as heroes. 

My mind went to my mission notes. The population of this water-rich civilization is a mammal-based society. The thought of simple mammals with the capabilities of weaponry that could stand against our superior reptilian race was impossible. They were like rats, small and helpless. This should be easy.

The defense chief cut in, "Sir, they are coming around again."

"Fire all weapons!" I hissed. 

The tiny flies buzzed around the ship. They spewed projectiles that exploded on the hull. 

“Hull is compromised.” The defense chief said.

"How?!" I shouted at him. 

"I’m not sure, sir. The weapons are registering as kinetic. They pass through the shields, but they land with an explosive force that breaks the hull."

This was infuriating. Our damaged hulls could be repaired once we return to space, but if they kept up the assault, we wouldn’t make it.

“What is the status of the storage bays?” I asked 

"80% But we are beginning to lose water,” The officer responded. 

It would have to be good enough. “Helm, take us out of here," I commanded.

We attempted to rise, but the extra weight in our storage bays forced us to stay grounded for a while longer. The excess power was being diverted to weapons. We needed to leave before another barrage. 

"Full power to the engines," I commanded. 

The ship began to rise. I heard the beeping of sensors signaling another round of the kinetic based explosives. The weapons passed through our shields like a rock through a bubble. Rocks that exploded on the hull. 

I felt the shudder of the attack on the ship, and I knew there would be no leaving this planet. The locals effectively destroyed our ship, and in turn, they destroyed the homeworld with it. I stood on the bridge, and I gazed at the clear water below before the heat of the fiery explosive consumed me. 

August 12, 2022 15:56

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Justus LeCates
12:36 Aug 24, 2022

Really enjoyed the story. Thank you.


Kendra Lindholm
19:44 Aug 24, 2022

Thanks for reading Justus!


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Tommy Goround
08:02 Aug 20, 2022

IDK. The reading was great. the prose was engulfing and it was just the right bit of tech ...(more of a story than someone stopping to explain the alien new world they created). But the obvious "payload" issue with tanks and the fact that we have oceans of water to desalinate (Like Israel does very successfully) --- honestly, I couldn't believe the first 1/3. Scrolled down. Found the reveal, "OH"... Read the story backward. It even flows backward. So this excellent story: How do you overcome the simple logic of payloads and Oceans to hid...


Kendra Lindholm
13:31 Aug 22, 2022

Hi Tommy, thanks for reading! I was afraid the reveal would be too obvious since I never said "Earth", but I think the focus of the bridge activity vs actually observing the planets features helped to mask the reveal. When I first started writing this, I was also thinking of reasons why they couldn't desalinate the water. The current (real-life) process of desalinating water is already expensive. I figured aliens would have similar problems. It's easier to take freshwater. I'm thinking of writing a sequel for this weeks prompt since th...


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Daniel R. Hayes
20:28 Aug 17, 2022

Hi Kendra! I thought this story was amazing! I really love Science Fiction tales and this one did not disappoint. Your writing is fantastic and the dialogue was fun and lively. I think this is the first story I've read from you and it blew my mind. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work!! Great job on this one, I loved it! :)


Kendra Lindholm
21:10 Aug 17, 2022

Thank you so much Daniel, that means a lot! I'm loving your stories as well!


Daniel R. Hayes
23:04 Aug 17, 2022

Thank you! :)


Kendra Lindholm
02:13 Sep 01, 2022

I couldn't resist the water prompt for the week. The sequel is here: Hope you enjoy!


Daniel R. Hayes
06:01 Sep 01, 2022

It was amazing!! I just left a comment there for you :)


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Graham Kinross
03:49 Aug 16, 2022

I guessed that the new planet was Earth about halfway through. Odd thing, if they were up to taking saltwater then it would possibly be beneficial as the tides rose due to melting at the poles. With their advanced technology they’d hopefully be able to purify the water, perhaps even secure a deal for trading tech with us primitive humans. It sounds like the aliens need any kind of water, which we do have a lot of, we need freshwater. I think you could have jumped straight to the action at the beginning and woven the set up in between the di...


Kendra Lindholm
13:43 Aug 16, 2022

Thanks for reading Graham! A lot of the "Bridge Crew" dialogue was inspired by Star Trek. I wanted to make the story so you are sympathetic with the protagonist, but when you discover they are stealing from Earth, you get mad and change sides. A clear Environmental message that's not super in-your-face about it.


Graham Kinross
13:50 Aug 16, 2022

Have you been watching all of the new Star Trek Shows? I saw Discovery and Picard on Netflix and Amazon but now it’s all moved to it’s own streaming channel I can’t see the new ones.


Kendra Lindholm
13:57 Aug 16, 2022

I finished TNG and Voyager last year and working through DS9 before watching Discovery or Picard (I did watch Lower Decks though). And yeah all Star Trek is moving over to Paramount Plus now, a bit disappointing since Netflix was so easy.


Graham Kinross
14:04 Aug 16, 2022

Netflix was awesome when it had that and the Marvel shows as well. What story are you working on now?


Kendra Lindholm
02:18 Sep 01, 2022

Hi Graham! I was working on this sequel: I'm taking a break this week, but I'll keep revisiting this story and more to come!


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Kendra Lindholm
02:17 Aug 26, 2022

The sequel to this story, Death of a Planet, has been submitted for contest #160: A Watery World. I couldn't resist writing a sequel for such a perfect prompt! Read here!


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