Tatiana, who was born in Russia, was one of those science geeks doing particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider, when her desire for adventure led her to volunteer as one of the first astronauts for the First Martian Colony, a one way trip to become one of the first humans to settle on Mars. She'd seen the internet picture from the Mars Rover, which some claimed showed a giant crab living in a Martian cave, but she assumed it was just an odd rock formation, until she saw one of her crew, Elena the team's doctor, eaten alive by giant crabs.
NASA photo from Mars Rover which some claim shows a giant crab.
They had brought no weapons, because there seemed no need. After the initial horror of realizing they were trapped, with no way to leave the planet, and months before any rocket from Earth could bring weapons, the three crew members who are left debate how to survive.
Adriana, who had been a theoretical physicist doing research in the field of quantum biology, offers a theory, “On Earth crabs have gills, but some species can store water in their shells, which allows them to breathe on land. That's probably how those crabs survive on the Martian surface with no spacesuits. It's also probably why they didn't lay siege here; they need to get back to their water supply, probably an underground ocean they reach through the Martian caves. Normally there would be no reason for them to emerge, but now we're a food source for them.”
Tatiana worries, “We planned to grow our food in the greenhouses we brought, but it's too dangerous to go out there to farm. We'll starve when the food we brought runs out. Is it possible to construct a high voltage fence to keep them out of our fields?”
Adriana: "No, their exoskeletons are insulators; an electric fence would have no effect."
Edwin, who grew up in the bushweld of South Africa, had listed his hobbies as, “bladesmithing, military history, medieval history.” He declares, “I've got a plan; we'll eat crab meat! I'll set about fashioning medieval weapons from the building supplies we've brought. They're crude, but should easily kill a crab, even a giant one.”
The group agrees to Edwin's plan, and he begins grinding sword blades for them. Tatiana begins downloading everything she can find about crabs from the internet. There's a three minute delay waiting for data from Earth to arrive, which frustrates her sense of urgency.
Adriana emails biologists she knows, asking for their advice. How are these crabs likely to be different from those which evolved on Earth, and what might their vulnerabilities be? One point the biologists agree on, after seeing footage of the creatures, is that their last pair of walking legs is flattened into swimming paddles, indicating they don't just walk, but swim like the Portunidae crab species on Earth.
The group becomes more optimistic, until they look out the next day, and see hundreds of giant crabs. “We're outnumbered!” declares Tatiana.
“Calls for a change in military strategy,” replies Edwin, “I'll convert the other living unit into a fort, and take out the window so I can fire a crossbow from in there. Will be a challenge designing a bow I can fire while wearing a spacesuit, but I believe it can be done.”
“You think you can kill hundreds that way?” asks Adriana.
“ I think I only have to kill one or two, and the rest will scatter in fear,” replies Edwin, “then we go out, and haul in the meat!” He starts on his new plan, flirting with the women as he works.
Less crabs have turned up each day. Adriana theorizes it's because no additional food has been found. She also notices the crabs seem to travel in packs, with leaders of each pack somehow directing the members of their pack, who advance or retreat in unison. On Earth crabs are known to work together to get food, and can communicate by drumming or waving their pincers. She studies the crab leaders and theorizes it's subtle movements of the pincer the pack responds to.
Edwin finishes his crossbow, and a set of bolts for it to fire. While the crabs are away, he spends his time on target practice, getting used to working in the spacesuit, and improving his aim. Finally all is ready. A pack of crabs arrives, and Edwin fires his crossbow at the nearest crab, but the bolt glances off the thick, hardened exoskeleton protecting its back. He tries again, aiming for the line of weakness along the back edge of the carapace where the upper and lower shell join. He misses, and the bolt glances off again. Third try, the bolt penetrates, and disables the crab. However, instead of fleeing, the rest of the crabs turn on the wounded crab and begin devouring it.
Edwin fires another bolt, with the same result. Eventually the crabs retreat back to their underground ocean, but not a spec of crab meat remains. Next day there are hundreds of crabs again.
Meanwhile back on Earth, the ratings for the First Martian Colony Reality Show are soaring. It's on the news, and scientists are being interviewed, but all agree there's little they can do to help because it would take months to reach Mars. The Mars Orbiter does manage to pinpoint the cave where the crabs emerge, but that seems to be of little help to the colonists. There's tremendous sympathy for the colonists' plight.
There's a press conference at the Pentagon, and the generals explain that there's little they can do for these colonists. Carpet bombing all of Mars to kill the crabs is impractical, but they are drawing up plans to protect future colonists. The military has developed hybrid bionic roaches, capable of penetrating the caves, and revealing the crab's lair, to guide future bombing.
However, outside the Pentagon there's a protest going on. A group has formed calling themselves, “Friends of the Martian Crab People,” because they object to colonists killing the crabs. Fox News sends a reporter to cover them. A leader says, “We went to Mars to look for life, and now that we've found life, we want to kill it. That's not right!” Fox brands the group as, “Martian sympathizes, and traitors to planet Earth.”
Back at the First Martian Colony, Edwin is dealing with a science paper that points out the fertilizer brought along for their crops could be turned into a bomb. “What would we do with such a bomb? We'd have to pack it with shrapnel to inflict maximum damage on the crabs, but that could also blow holes in our living unit.”
Tatiana asks, “Could we use it to blow up their entrance to the caves?”
Adriana replies, “They would soon dig out that entrance. It would only buy us time.”
Edwin replies, “That might be enough. If we can time the blast for when they retreat to the cave, we may be able to block it when there are only one or two stragglers outside the cave. Then we'd have an even match. We could venture out and kill them and bring home the meat, before the others dig out!”
After some debate, all agree it's their only option. Only partly because food was running out, but largely because battling a giant Crab, one on one, when one was well armed with medieval weapons, was what living on Mars was all about for them: an adventure.
Edwin built a tower and mounted one of the reality show's best cameras at the top of the mast. He used the Orbiter reported coordinates to center on the crabs' cave and monitor traffic in and out. This immediately increased their safety, since they could see when to beware of crabs
He had also been working on a catapult. He weighed his fertilizer bomb, and packed sacks of stones of equal weight. Because of the lower gravity on Mars his catapult would have the ability to reach the cave. But he needed to fire test shots, which is what the sacks of stones were for. The camera monitored where the stones landed, and the catapult was adjusted until he could consistently hit the entrance.
Then he mounted his bomb in the catapult and waited through the next wave of crabs, until what seemed to be the last one or two crabs were outside their cave, and then he fired. When the dust cleared, three crabs were outside the entrance which was now completely blocked by rubble.
Armed with swords, spears, and battle axes they approached the crabs. The crab closest to them turned first as they approached. They surrounded it, keeping it at bay with their spears while Edwin went to the rear carapace and placed the tip of his sword at the weak point where the upper and lower shells join, and thrust his sword through, then swept it from side to side cutting the creature in half, instantly killing it.
He was just in time to turn as the second crab set upon him. He fended it with his spear while Tatiana came up behind it and thrust through her sword, killing it as Edwin had done to the other. All three turned to the last crab, which did not approach, but walked backward away from them until it backed into the cliff wall. They continued to advance, but the crab, when it could not back further away, made a dramatic gesture: It turned its pincers backwards, away from them, and bowed its head to the ground.
Adriana said, “I think that's a gesture of submission.”
Edwin, “So it submits to being killed?”
Adriana, “Better idea, let's see if it will submit to me as leader of her pack. Keep her covered, while I put my sword in its sheath so I can raise my glove as a pincer.” Posing her thumb against 4 fingers she simulates a pincer, and gestures at the crab the way she remembered the lead crabs gestured. and begins walking back to the colony. The crab obediently follows.
Edwin, “We're taking it as a prisoner of war?”
Adriana, “Call it what you will. We're taking it to learn about them. If I can learn how to control it, I might be able to learn to control them. If I can learn to rule them as their Queen, that would have advantages over your medieval military techniques.”
“So you hope to become the Queen of Mars?” Edwin asks incredulously.
“I hope to do what ever is necessary for us to survive!” Adriana answers.
“Well ok, but only if that crab sleeps locked in a compartment in the fort. I'm not sleeping in the same unit with a giant crab!” insists Edwin. Then he adds, “I guess we'll have to flood that compartment, and aerate the water for it to breathe.”
Adriana guides their captive, while Edwin and Tatiana turn the dead crabs on their backs, so they can each easily drag the crab meat over the sand back to their colony.
Adriana admonishes, “Please try to keep the shells intact. I want to cut them apart carefully and wear one as a costume over my spacesuit. If I'm going to play their Queen, I want to dress the part.”
Note: We have two possible endings. If you're interested in owning this property, we'll reveal them and will develop into a script which ever one you're want to buy. Contact: cio@SolidStateLight.com.
Adriana's first costume attempt