Lieutenant Nic received an alert that someone was at her office door. Pulling up the alert, the camera embedded in her door showed her that Captain Filon was standing at attention, waiting to be let in. She pressed the button on her desk that opened her door to let him in.
“That took long enough,” she said by way of greeting.
“Apologies, ma’am,” Captain Filon said as he saluted. “But we wanted to be thorough.”
“We made several sweeps of the designated area, but found only one planet with semi-intelligent life.”
“They’ve managed to make it to their moon (they only have one), they’ve sent robots to one of their neighboring planets, and they’ve sent satellites a little farther, but that’s all.”
“That sounds pretty advanced. What made you put them in the ‘semi-intelligent’ category?”
“Because they’re poisoning their own planet and themselves. We had to conduct an investigation to be sure of our findings, which involved going under cover (hence the delay). They’re pumping artificial chemicals into their water supplies, their food, even their medication. It’s obvious their bodies can’t process the chemicals, but they keep using them anyway. They don’t appear to be capable of balancing technology with their own biological needs.”
“What sorts of effects are these chemicals causing?”
“Everything from birth defects to mental disorders. They have an astronomically high rate of chronic diseases in their population.”
“And they haven’t managed to figure out the cause?”
Captain Filon shrugged. “Some of them have, but they’re only a small percentage and they’re restricted to the elite classes of their civilization. Most of them either don’t know about the damage or they’re in denial.”
“Why would they deny that something is hurting them?”
“No logical reason we could discern, Lieutenant. That’s why I classed them in the semi-intelligent category.”
“You mentioned some members of their population had noticed the connection. Any chance they could survive?”
“I don’t see how. Their lower classes comprise the vast majority of their civilization, and as I said, they’re being poisoned. Without them, their society doesn’t stand a chance, and most members of the species have no idea how to survive outside the small niches they’ve constructed for themselves. I give them a few hundred of their cycles before they go extinct.”
“And is their planet inhabitable for us?”
“Now, sure. But by the time they’re done with it, it’s unlikely to be anything more than a scorched rock.”
“What a waste.”
“Well, thank you for your report, Captain. I’ll be sure to make a note in the log to stay out of their range for, let’s say 500 cycles?”
“Should be plenty of time.”
“Excellent. Your next mission starts in five rotations. I suggest you use that time to rest up.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Captain Filon saluted and marched out of Lieutenant Nic’s office, leaving her to her paperwork, and the other meetings she had scheduled for the day.