SW10: The Last Chocolate Crop
seiler at eilertech.com
Thu Feb 18 17:46:57 PST 2010
Author's Note: This story is inspired by the current RACC High
Concept Challenge (#6, I think) about hardwired aliens, chocolate, and
swimming. Since I helped craft the challenge, this story's ineligible
for voting. But that's no excuse for not writing.
WORLD JOURNAL MONTHLY
January 25, 2010 See Our Other Issues!
THE LAST CHOCOLATE CROP!
Can Science Save The Chocolate From Earth's New Climate?
The bus had taken the Warrior Ashanti across the border. But now he
had to swim - for his life.
Adu Asantemantse, the superhuman Warrior Prince of Ashanti-Ghana, was
on a mission for his people. Officially, he was a tour guide for the
National Geographic, to see where the alien "Trillions" had landed.
Secretly, Adu was carrying genetically-modified coffee and cocoa beans
for his people to plant in Ashanti-Cote d'Ivoire, just across the
international border the colonial powers had imposed upon his people.
The modified beans were designed by Adu's super-scientist contacts,
the same who'd given Adu his super strength and endurance. The beans
would supposedly grow better in cold temperatures - like those the
Earth would soon endure, since its orbit had been modified shortly
after the aliens arrived. (See Related Story) The beans came in
several varieties to plant in several places. At least one would work
- as far as the experts knew.
Adu was on this mission only for the Ashanti tribe. They'd already
arranged for the new beans to be planted in the Ashanti regions of
Ghana. But the neighboring country of Cote d'Ivoire (or "Ivory Coast"
in English) was jealous about the current cocoa crop (possibly the
last one ever) and suspicious of the new plants. To get these plants
across the border, Adu officially had to be on other business. So he
would be a celebrity tour guide.
There was no problem crossing the border. But at the first river
crossing, a new checkpoint had been set up for agricultural produce!
Cote d'Ivoire was enforcing its new restrictions on foreign coffee and
Adu had to admire his enemies' effectiveness. The Cote d'Ivoire
government knew, wherever Africans can walk, they can and will carry
anything they like. Only at choke points like river crossings could
they enforce their rules on travel.
It was time for Adu to leave the tour. Unfortunately his assistant
leader was sick and had stayed home. All he could do for the tourists
was put the bus in command of one of the translators, and promise to
meet them later. Then without hesitation, he ran out the bus door and
into the rain forest up the riverbank.
Normally Adu could have expected to find a native with a rowboat to
take him across the river. But the river was flooded. With the Earth
in a new orbit, December had been unusually warm, and there had been
storms. So Adu took his waterproof bag with the beans, and slipped
into the water.
But then a government gunboat came into view from down the river - and
started shooting at him. Local authorities knew about his escape!
Adu ducked under the murky water to save his life. He couldn't outswim
a gunboat while dragging a load of beans. So he dropped to the bottom
and waited for the ship to pass above him. But the ship stopped!
Thirty seconds, sixty seconds... Adu had to move.
He flutter-kicked down the river, then found a log he could surface
and hide behind. Ninety seconds... He headed for the surface.
But before he could get a breath, Adu felt a sharp pain in his leg -
and a downward tug. Crocodile!
Adu had to save the beans! He let the bag float to the surface, then
pulled his knife. One hundred twenty seconds.
One knife thrust to the brain cage and the crocodile was dead. But it
didn't loosen its grip. Adu had to kick its teeth out. One hundred
fifty seconds... finally a gasp of air at the surface. And gunfire!
Adu ducked back under. He knew the gun crew were as likely to shoot at
a crocodile as at him, just for target practice. He couldn't find the
crocodile's body, but he found another log that would look like one.
He shoved it out toward the boat. The machine guns obligingly followed
the log, while Adu swam back down river.
Adu's leg was tougher than most, but it was bleeding. He had to get to
shore and bind his leg wounds. He'd have to use his shirt.
The beans were still up river - next to the gunboat! Adu had to sneak
through the jungle to get there.
The bag of beans was by the shore, where Adu had thrown it - but it
was surrounded by a hunting pack of male chimpanzees. They were each
almost the size of a man, with more upper body strength. Together they
were enough to weigh even Adu down. And they almost had the bag open!
Adu went to one side, and growled like a leopard. The chimp pack
erupted with warning howls.
As Adu expected, the gunship opened up on the chimpanzees for target
practice. But Adu noticed the ship captain ordering a crew onto one of
the boats. They'd seen the bag!
Adu threw a large stone up river, into a bush. A flight of birds
erupted out. The gunship crew didn't use those for target practice for
once. But they were still distracted long enough for Adu to take the
bag of beans and run into the woods.
Adu hiked northwest. Several hours later, he came to the edge of the
Ashanti plantations. There one of the workers recognized Adu, his
tribal prince. Plantation trucks would take Adu the rest of the way on
Adu settled into the passenger seat, and let his mind wander while the
driver played gospel radio from Liberia. The preacher was saying, this
must be the Christian Apocalypse, the end of the world. But Adu knew
that wasn't true. When the end of the world was here, he'd finally
draw the holy Anokye Sword of the Ashanti to fight it. Until then,
he'd fight in other ways.
The vital beans of coffee and cocoa had come where they were needed.
This year's chocolate crop would be followed by more.
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