We send robots down. They can’t tell them apart from their own kind. God are they dumb!
It’s actually amusing to watch. I know, I know, I shouldn’t say so! It’s cruel. They can’t help being so goddamn dumb. I know that. But still...
Let’s tune in to V9823:
“What have you sold this week on special?”
“We’ve nothing that’s so old we can’t sell! We can sell anything here. Even stuff we havn’t got.”
“What were your special offers this week?”
“Offal we don’t sell, sorry. But I can get you some tout suite!”
See what I mean? No human could do this work, they’d burn out at the end of their first day!
I saw what Control meant. This mission was not going to be easy, I could tell I was in for a rough time.
I’d shipped up a few hours previously and reported for duty soon after to ‘Monitoring’.
The room was a blaze of light from all the screens. Figures pulsated, doing jigs in every corner, gathering and processing data.
Of all the possible worlds that potentially held life, we had to find this one first. Its formal designation was Xebeus IX but you’ll have heard what we called it in the Team, ‘Dumbworld’.
To say we were disgusted, disappointed and downright disheartened would be an understatement. And yes, we had found ourselves dumbing down to overuse of alliteration ourselves!
All those dreams of childhood about locating alien races as nuclear fusion brought into being the possibility of interplanetary travel... made a mockery of by the Dumbos. Okay, the Xebeusarians if you must... but I’m not going to be vocalizing that even one more time, not ever. The Dumbos totally deflated our dreams.
I flicked to another bot, V2273.
“My name is Argos, what’s yours?
“No, I’m Pill thanks. I’ll have a small glass of gyle. Nice of you to offer!”
“Ah, you are Pill! Good! What is your occupation Pill?”
“Rations? I usually have a ration of Glix with it if you don’t mind...”
“I see... Are you busy now?”
“No, I havn’t seen him. What about that drink?”
“Just a moment...”
I switched off. Exactly what were we achieving here? It was utterly insane. I could see no sense in it.
Of course, we couldn’t press them too hard. They were certainly dumb, but something told me that if we started doing that they’d begin to suspect our bots weren’t the government inspectors of their cover story.
At the moment they weren’t asking for any credentials to be shown which was just as well.
I had already had enough for my first day. My nerves were frazzled and I could feel my brain losing some of its usual coherence.
“I’m going to turn in Major, it’s been a long day.”
I took a shower in my quarters and tried to put the Dumbos I’d seen out of my mind. Their very appearance was bad enough, that glazed look in the eyes, the dishevelled clothing and those non-sequitur answers... they all combined to make me feel.... yes, that was how I was feeling... depressed! The more I analyzed it the more affected I became. My mind was revolted that such stupid beings could be suffered to exist in God’s holy and truly magnificent universe.
I have to admit it. My instinct was to remove the entire moronic disfigurement from the face of the cosmos.
But, I figured I’d sleep on it.
I crept into my pod, pulled the blanket up around my chin and did everything I could to avoid the garish brown and pink blotch of Xebeus IX that leered at me through my viewport.
“Is it working Pill?
“I believe so.”
“They don’t suspect?”
“I believe not.”
The next day was not much better. The same kind of stuff. More idiotic back and forth with the natives.
At least we got some good data from the remotes. There are some good mining opportunities to be had. Comtel will be particularly interested, others too. We need to fund this fucking bitch of an op somehow.
Once geared up for bulk travel we’ll get Military & Industry in place.
But let me tell you, this socio-economic regimen is killing me. It truly is. And I’ve 6 months of this mindless crap ahead of me!
Pill and his team were sat around an oblong plastic table. Banks of monitors lined the walls and glowed softly in the dim light. No sunlight entered. They were around a mile down with a quarter-mile of deflecting material up top.
“So, what’s the next move?” Pill asked.
“We have them in the right mode now. We can progress.”
“To Step III then.”
All at the table then said in unison in a quiet, grimly determined way, “Agreed.”
V6629 had encountered an emergency.
“I need help. You must help me. Please!”
“What can I do?”
“Contact Med urgently for me! My child is sick. She’s dying...”
I was watching all this as the prompt had flashed red on this going on to alert me. I tried to get the bot to deflect but the Dumbo wasn’t having any.
“Can’t you call them yourself?”
“No, my Connect is broken and we’re here alone. No neighbour.”
Tell him it’s impossible. That...
I stopped. I didn’t know how to handle this and maintain our cover.
“Can you take her to the Med?”
I thought fast. What to do?
Okay. Take her. Log all this.
“Bring her in.”
This was an opportunity I hadn’t expected. Now we could learn something about the anatomy of these Dumbells.
She was somewhat different than I had expected when she was brought in. She was comatose of course. There was no way she could see us and our ship. Lab were there of course and they were taking the lead. I was able to observe close up, however.
“You think this one’s disabled?
“She looks that way. Hard to be sure.”
“Can we set up a convincing VR so we can wake her?”
“I believe so.”
“Okay, let’s do it. Get what you can from her.”
“Then to surgery for autopsy and maximum detail analysis.”
Pill was peering at one screen in particular when the others came in.
“It’s in place I see.”
“What are we waiting for? Do we wish to save one for inspection?”
“I think not. They seem a particularly uninteresting, a coarse race.”
“Then it’s time?”
“Are we in consensus?”
The flash was not seen on Earth of course. But it was registered. It was no great shakes of course, not anywhere near the pulse of a Nova... but the plasma from the fusion pods created identifiable radio waves that were unmistakable.
The setback would last close to fifteen years.
Fifteen years in which Pill readied his detailed plan for the elimination of what he had come to think of as... The “Underlings”.