TOUGH

My name is Glot. Yes, I know it’s a silly name, but then it’s no worse than Elspeth Hogglethwight, or Damion Hogsnipple, now is it. Those are just two of many strange appellations I culled from your local telephone directories.

I have to say, I find your moon a most unwelcoming planetoid. It’s not my place to criticize, being as I’m only here to observe, but the moons of Alpha Cantari 32 and 33 are much more hospitable, with thoroughly modern facilities including a suite of Orobial massage parlors, and at least three Planktonium female pleasure instillers, and some damn fine Robostian cuisine kitchens to satisfy the most diligent of discerning taste buds; the beer’s pretty darn quaffable as well.

By comparison, what do we have here? A lump of Triassic rock without even a porta-potti, or a tree to pee behind.

Still, as already stated, I’m only here to observe, and my replacement will be along in three of your millennia, so it could be worse.

What am I doing here? Oh, we’ve been observing you ever since your planet first developed an atmosphere. Evolving lifeforms need to be monitored, especially when they reach the stage of evolution categorized as a “TtGE”.

That’s, “Threat to Galactic Environment”, of course.

Unfortunately, your planet was polluted by a rogue Hevenian some hundred, or so, millennia ago. Your species was in its early development and very sensitive to influence. The Hevenian, a corrupt ex-leader from the planet, Heva – take IGH36 and turn right at Betelgeuse, it’s on your left, past the third moon – was fleeing retribution and decided to take refuge on your planet. He wrought havoc, and eventually left after causing a huge flood – and other minor cataclysms – that virtually wiped out most of the evolving species, including your own.

The effects of his visit passed into your species’ collective memory. Within a few millennia it warped into what we call an ESMI, or “External Species Memory Impulse”. It’s not uncommon. The last planet to suffer in that way was Mitares III. It was doing really well till three teenagers from the Crab got drunk on Levithion carrot wine and took a joyride down to the surface. It was twenty-three millennia before the damage was negated. Even now, most of the populace just sit around all day and chant.

What’s that? What’s an ESMI?

I told you, it’s an “External Species Memory Impulse”. Not that you would know it as that. The name you have for it is, ‘Religion’.

Of course, the difference between your planet and Mitares III is that the dominant species on Mitares has always been peaceable. It never developed the brain structures that invited violence, or developed weaponry. Like certain of your own kind, they worship imaginary exterior beings – the Crab teenagers – whom they believe created them, but are happy to live off the land, in harmony with each other, unlike certain others I could mention.

Take the Orgarian Federation, for example. Now they’re a competitive lot. It’s likely they’d never have survived to maturity if their planet hadn’t suffered a cataclysmic volcanic eruption late in their evolutionary cycle, which annihilated most of them and scared the others half to death. It taught them a lesson. They’ve never fought each other since, and renounced all violence – except on the Scubary Field. The Orgarians love their Scubary games.

And then, of course, there’s you lot down there.

Frankly, I doubt I’ll be here one millennia, let alone three. I hope not. I’m not sure my bladder will hold out that long. Your planet is a classic case, you see. We call it “ESMI Fragmentation”. Your “TtGE” level is already nine point two, and the scale only goes to ten.

The situation is very common. According to the Galactic Records Office, only three out of every ten planets with evolving species ever make it to maturity. The species self-destruct and the planet reverts to being a barren lump of rock, a bit like this moon, really.

ESMI Fragmentation occurs when the dominant species splits into different tribes, and, instead of evolving away from such primitive notions, becomes more and more fragmented. They end up hating each other. The ESMI of each tribe develops differently. Consequently, they never agree on anything the external entity they worship said, did, or even if it is the same being. Eventually, they either end up like the Mitarians, and sit around gazing dreamily at the sky all day, or stockpile a huge load of weaponry and blow each other, and their planet, to bits.

It’s known as Termination Of Unilateral Galactic Husbandry, or “TOUGH”. It’s the last thing I write on my report sheet before closing my observations and going home.

Judging by the state of your planet it won’t be long in happening. Observations over the last millenia have shown an alarming increase in the violent confrontations between tribes. Of all your landmasses, only two are relatively free of violent pugilistic encounters, and then only because they’re covered with ice and inhospitable to life for your species. But that’s changing. Your planet’s become poisoned. Your climate is heating. It’s quite normal, and happens in almost all cases of ESMI Fragmentation combined with a high incidence of species inter-violence.

I’m afraid it’s irreversible. According to the GRO’s statistics, no species has ever reached maturity from this point. It’s all fairly typical, I’m afraid. The planet heats up; sustenance becomes scarce; violent interactions over land ownership reach a high level and finally, either the planet erupts and destroys the atmosphere, or one of the species leaders breaks its programming and commences nuclear annihilation.

Another failure, I’m afraid. Still, as the saying goes, one can’t win them all. I’ll hang on a bit longer, just to record the endgame and sign off my report for your creator, Professor Musetuni, at the Galactic University. He won’t be happy, but it’s what he expected. We’ve had lots of failures with these types of atmospheres. O2/N/CO2 combinations always work well at first, but seem to cause problems as the experiment progresses. We’ve generally had more success with helium/methane atmospheres. I think that’s the way Prof Musetuni will be looking in future. He’ll probably order early termination of 59736/B Sector 19W.

Creator? Experiment?

Oh, didn’t I mention? We’ve been experimenting with atmospheres for millenia now. It’s part of the Galactic research project. Creating planets with different atmospheres is what we do. It’s part of our research. You’re number 59736/B Sector 19W.

Hopefully, I’ll be home before my bladder starts complaining too much. Now, where’s that flask of Levithion carrot wine? I could do with a nip. It’s bloody cold on this barren moon.

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