The sound of drumming fingernails rattled through the assembly room. “This could spell trouble,” the Prime Administrator said under his breath. He stared out the window toward the planet in question and shook his head in distress.
“Fellow praxeologists,” he continued, facing back toward the panoply of committee researchers from cultures spanning the galaxy, “I’m afraid we’ve come across a potential impasse. If said inhabitants,” he gestured toward the window, “barring their fickle behavior, find a way to escape their planet and spread across the heavens, I don’t think it would bode well for the rest of us; that is, if they don’t destroy themselves first.”
“Prime Administrator, sir?” one of the committee members said, raising his tentacle.
“There is a propensity, if it can be applied to this example,” he lowered his tentacle and clasped it to his other limb resting on the table, “that any civilization capable of interplanetary flight would be automatically smart enough from the beginning to cast aside their differences in favor of joint efforts to the stars. If not, their level of development wouldn't elevate them from their troglodytic roots.”
“If such is the case, the information gathered from the world below suggests they’re still throwing sticks and stones at each other and painting themselves blue.” The Prime Administrator took a deep pensive huff. “As a matter of fact, it looks as though their own technology hindered their development rather than accelerated it!”
“Sir, it's apparent from observation that most of the natives were looking down most of the time, as if they were in the middle of some ritual.”
“It’s plainly obvious from the data collected. Have you seen them walk around like that? Even across busy streets! They must have lost the flexibility in their cervical stems. After so many years, their upper vertebral spines fused into the current humbled positions while praying to a glowing screen that, in no uncertain terms, exerts full influence over their lives.”
“They're multimedia devices grant them instant telecommunication with anyone they choose, and they conversely suffer from instant community pressure in order to keep up with appearances. That must explain most of their reflexive behavior,” another committee member added who looked like a zooplankton the size of a soda pop bottle. “It’s a sight to see how they react to simple trifles!”
“Unfortunately,” the Administrator added, “emotion is their dominant trait, whether your observation is a direct cause or not. It’s likely that logic and reasoning were dispensed with long ago.”
“You mean they found a way to––”
“Yes. To discard their spacefaring capabilities for mere convenience,” he concluded.
“Yet their technological services didn’t exactly placate their desire to kill one another. It only satiated it!” a gryphon-like creature angrily inferred, snapping back and lazing onto his chin with his fist. His hairy brow line furrowed in contempt.
“My point taken,” said the Administrator, projecting out a hologram from a small annulus wrapped around one of his outstretched fingers. “Here. A few tokens of literary evidence to the argument.”
Articles, printed and electronic, popped across the room in full view of the committee. The Administrator began to read through snippets of current events illustrating in stark detail the daily lives of the inhabitants below.
“Please be mindful of any glitches in translation. We are dealing with as many languages crammed into a single alien world as there are grains of sand along a waterfront.”
Thus, he began…
Murder suspect caught crying in his room while sucking his thumb. Local enforcement, suspecting impulse manslaughter, was spared the heat of the quarry.
The sun was shining as brightly as ever on a late Tuesday morning over suburban Des Moines. The air was thick with a layer of humidity wafting through the streets. While neighbors enjoyed a nice dip in the pool and homeless transients strummed their favorite tunes off beat-up guitars found tossed among the city heaps with a plastic receptacle plopped out before them, came a series of blood curdling screams down the block. Some heads turned; most turned the other way, hunkering in cowardice. One eye witness spotted an obese figure waddling apace from the modular home in question. The witness was puzzled over how the suspect in flight didn’t register on the Richter scale; for the offbeat comment, <THEY> were promptly arrested for sensitivity crimes.
Investigators reported the body of Doug E. Flooburger was found splayed across the floor mutilated by repeated strikes with an axe. Cluttering the immediate vicinity Flooburger was found, were several Star Wars action figures. Officers found one of the toys stuffed into the back pocket of the victim after noticing a sizable bulge sticking out of his pants. The footprints drenched in blood trailed through the front door and petered out along the sidewalk that comported with eye witness reports. Judging by his physical size, local enforcement conjectured the suspect could not have travelled very far.
Given the suspect's interests from the evidence found, deductive reasoning led the authorities to the comic shop a few blocks up the road. The owner recognized him from the description provided and said he was a regular customer whose debit card info revealed the name Blart Plumbody, age 37. He said that he had not seen Plumbody that day but suggested checking the toyshop just around the corner.
‘Tito’s Toys and Games’ was emblazoned across the transom of the entryway. Long wails ebbing and flowing were heard from outside. The authorities entered and the intensity of the wailing spiked. The owner looked pallid, but otherwise unperturbed. When questioned about the disturbance, he said many older customers were like that rummaging through the store on a daily basis. That was a no-brainer. Upon request in the interest of the authorities, the owner guided them to one of the back rooms. Stuck in a corner was the suspect having a temper tantrum. He was mottled with blood. Piled in front of Plumbody were six of the action figures stained with the same blood from his hands. Faced with interrogation, the suspect revealed all in a crying fit. He claimed Flooburger was trying to swipe his rare 1979 Boba Fett action figure handed down to him from a friend who found it at a flea market. What really ruffled his chin was when Flooburger tried to barter ten other action figures released the year before. In response, Plumbody levied the appropriate method of execution in an emotional spasm that would have put to shame any newborn nursery. That of course, raised a few eyebrows. The chief investigator commented that at least Plumbody didn’t eat the victim. For that, the chief investigator was jailed. As for Plumbody, he was given a spanking and told to go to his room.
“Was that for real?” cried the tentacled creature.
“Yes. This is only a local example of a much greater problem. If some of you fail to see what that is, let me proceed with another piece of documentation…”
He cleared his throat and read.
Riots and civil strife foment during football game. The mayor plays dumb.
In Denver, two high school football teams were locked in fierce competition while stuck in a draw past the 90-minute mark. A knock-out period was required, raising the tension of angry parents unable to control themselves past the second fifteen-minute half. Emotion surged and composure broke as both sides jumped from the bleachers, converging onto the field where they duked out their differences. The foray spread across the city, causing rioting, looting, and shooting of random passersby. The Denver mayor, cash-strapped after numerous teacher’s union payolas and already having requisitioned additional bonds on behalf of his creditors for reelection ad campaigns, declined to fortify the neighborhoods affected and recused himself from the uprising.
The city burned, taking with it much of its business and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents. Later on, when remaining communities were scraping by and looking to rebuild, the mayor, upon inquiry of the seven-thousand fatalities, shirked his dereliction of duty by claiming a conflict of interest. “We simply didn’t have the budget for the already bloated police departments,” he said, despite his role in defunding them.
“Of all the gumption––” the zooplankton began to shout.
“Cut me a break!” the gryphon grumbled. “How can the same species be at constant odds with itself? I’d hate to see what their greater political realm is like.” He sunk his head and shoulders into folded arms, creasing the fur around his neck and elbows.
The Administrator looked pensively at the committeeman and said in a deadpan tone, “Granted.”
Another article slid into view.
A political debate ends in tears…and cheers.
The polls changed like the wind, depending upon the emotional state of the surveyors, but that didn’t matter. What mattered were the numbers registering whoever watched the debate. It was also an opportune time to inundate potential voters with adverts on how to think and what products to buy, filling the pocketbooks of investors somewhere up the chain of influence.
It was the meeting of titans, blue verse red. The crowds watched with bated breath. Ballot pushers snickered like the liars in wait, the strings they pulled affected both sides. Salivation…
Then they were at it, pouting away at claims and promises spanning the mutual interests of both parties. The crowds cheered for their respective teams, even tag teaming when too oblivious to make heads or tails of what they heard. Arguments became heated, and the heat became screams. The blue team screamed hardest without tangible proof of their political prowess, attacking ad hominem and spouting hatred at their enemy who dawdled like a dementia patient, all to the cheers and jeers of the electorate.
But tensions grew. In an instant, the blue team snapped, pulled out a .357 and ended the debate with the drop of a hat. The blue team won by default.
The committee members were aghast. Heads and stalks pivoted in consternation at one another.
“Unfortunately, their politics do not end there,” said the Administrator. “We have a few developments out in the deserts on the other side of the planet––”
“I don’t think I wanna see any more of this––” the gryphon began.
Retaliatory strikes issued in defense of reaffirmation roles. The resulting conflagration broke several treatises. Foreign leaders vie for escalation.
The sun beat down on the mountains and every parched sliver of land. The air began to pulse. A flurry of helicopters were dropping the last of the command units along the Afghan border as back up for native proxy ensembles looking to annex critical territory. Several military experts expounded the move as a watershed landmark; what happened here would have repercussions throughout the region, and any tactical error would become a powder keg.
In the barracks near the enemy lines, a debacle arose over unisex stalls and bunks that sparked the ire of the foreign counter-insurgency detachments. The Pentagon insisted that it was all within protocol and helped to reaffirm the morale and sensitivity of the troops. Hence, they demanded full concession from the counter-insurgents if they wished to remain under US protection. They flat out refused, claiming the Pentagon's idea of integration was based on shallow pretenses and that they were living under the shadow of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Pentagon was duly offended, claiming they were personally ‘attacked,’ and threatened deadly force against their own allies.
Without warning, the garrisons housing the counter-insurgency forces were rocked by a series of explosions. When the smoke cleared and the body count was plain to see, the military tried to cover their action and blamed the enemy. However, the insurgents knew a false flag when they saw it and called their bluff. Rescinding their alliance, they sabotaged US interests by shooting several key strategists. With top intel figures gunned down, the US was at a tactical disadvantage. The enemy saw this gaping weakness as an opportunity and struck the occupation forces, inflicting heavy damage, the alliance’s mortality topping 80%. The helicopters evacuated, stranding the surviving proxy soldiers as well as crucial munitions and combat supplies.
With the loss of critical territory, the US threw a fit and shelled the other nation as a last-ditch effort to retake the spoils. Had they used proper logistics and held back their precarious vendetta, half the Asian continent with vested interests in the beleaguered nation would not have mobilized so feverishly. The precedent of a new front had been set and a world war loomed on the horizon.
The sitting US president began to cry and demanded his safe space…in an underground bunker.
“It’s madness, I tell you! Collective madness!” the gryphon barked as he pounded the table. “No one’s stupid enough to run a military like that! No one!” He punctuated the final words with a louder strike.
There was murmuring of assent.
“Do you see how hair-triggered they are? Drop a pin and they’ll go berserk!” said the tentacled committeeman.
“You'd have to throw them lots of money to shut them up. Even that would be temporary!” the gryphon said, lifting his weary head to speak, then plopped it back down.
“When emotion stifles reason,” the Administrator said, “thousands of years of cultural evolution goes down the drain in a heartbeat. Now, imagine how such iniquities affect their children!”
“I think I’m gonna wretch!”
Corporal punishment has long since been abolished, but the new flavor of the day is…
“The students were unruly—vrooomm!” Lizzie Bloatsplatt said, defending her unsightly decision as she rolled her fists in a trill of rage. “It’s their fault, you know. Their fault! I’m innocent and I’ll tell that to the judge’s face. Rrrrr––plunk!”
“What exactly are those noises, Ms. Bloatsplatt?”
“It’s what I identify as––ker-splooch! Rrrawww!” She splayed her hands out, then pulled them to her sides imitating the sound effect of a retreating motor. “Anyway, those little brats were obviously in the wrong. What they did was inexcusable, wounding my inner child and all that––brrumm!” The investigator looked around at the skeletal remains of four six-year-olds.
“Can you tell us what happened again, Ms. Bloatsplatt?”
“These children were dangerous; dangerous to what makes us who we are––vrooooommm!"
The investigator shifted his brow with a mark of dubiety. “So, you had a fit, pulled a knife from your desk and proceeded to stab four children repeatedly, in front of the entire class...”
“You better believe it! Ggt-ght-ght,” she replied, emulating the shifting of a transmission stick.
“And once you were done with that, you threw them into the oven, and––”
“Lunchtime! No regrets from this set of wheels––brpbpbpb!” she said, proudly shoving a thumb at her chest and steered an imaginary truck.
“And you did it all because they showed blatant disrespect for your––”
“That’s right, inspector––brpbpbpb––pfffft! Those were the airbrakes.”
“Ah, I guess the case is closed. What are you supposed to be anyway?”
“What am I? Whaddeah think? I’m a dump truck––brummmmm! and don’t you forget it––rrrrr––thunk!!”
She was impounded for the remainder of the week.
“That does it!” the gryphon shouted, slamming his fists on the table. “We have to take evasive measures against these psychotic primates! I’d say we––”
“Please. Composure is demanded of us,” the tentacled creature interrupted.
“Compose what? Our bequeathments while we’re blasted to smithereens by these…these…”
“Easy now,” the Administrator said with conciliatory hands out. “There obviously needs to be a tentative solution to our dilemma…although it was rather alarming that they eat their own children.”
“And since when is an organic being suddenly a construction vehicle?” The gryphon splayed his paws out.
“Alright. Alright. Perhaps my empathy has outrun my logic. But let’s not fall to the level of these savages with tongues of poison, as much as I’m predisposed to agree with your sentiment.” The Prime Administrator got down to business. “Now gentlemen, I think we can all agree––” he was interrupted by a commotion in the second row. “Fellow praxeologist, what’s the matter now?”
The gryphon leered at something the Administrator was unable to see. Several members of the committee gathered around, equally aghast with horror.
“They’re changing their president’s diaper in a public forum!” He erupted and collapsed into folded arms again. A floating orb drifted over to him, dispensing a small carafe.
“So soon?” another committee member with bulging fisheyes said in response to the other’s chagrin.
The gryphon plucked the drink from the auto-garçon. “Just distilled slurpleberry. Takes the edge off things like this.” He gestured with an open palm and swilled the beverage.
The Prime Administrator timorously looked at the footage. Before his patience wore out, he concluded, “Well, that does it. There is no alternative solution that I could think of at this point.” Steepling his hands with a veneer of impassivity, he said, “Prepare the world virus. The galaxy has enough under its belt of dust clouds and stellar ejecta without having to deal with a planet full of infantile creatures. Imagine ourselves being on the other end of their affairs!”
Just as the Administrator was giving the command to launch a projectile loaded with a lethal bioweapon, a report came in of an explosion on one side of the planet. The committee crammed around the windows and if not, their holodisplays. Bright orange lights flashed and blossomed into black splotches everywhere across the planet, then carried through Coriolis across the latitudes. In a matter of minutes, the planet was enshrouded in a pall of soot, blocking out the surface.
“Well, whaddeah know?” said one committee member restricted to a vat of water.
“Great supernovae!” cried another.
“They did it. The actually finally did it!” the zooplankton shouted, his gelatinous form jumping up and down, incredulous at what he witnessed.
The Prime Administrator stood slack jawed and arms dangling at his side, reeling in everything that happened. “Well…looks like they were gracious enough to finish the job for us.” He shrugged in tacit acceptance. “I suppose that was inevitable, but at least we were spared an expensive mode of pacification. I think it's safe to say our hands are clean and we no longer have an existential threat to the starways!” He dusted his hands.
The ship reversed course and winked out toward the Ursa Major sector.
“Bring me another slurr––slurpleberry!” the gryphon called out with his finger extended toward the auto-garçon.