"The process of planet building today is a race between planetary engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof species, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."
--Professor Eucharistos, Head of Planetary Development Sciences
799,629.57 Arul Galactic Time
Galactic research vessel AeroStella circled planet P-5 having just left planet P-4 before its unpredicted demise. The FoodTek lab was closed for the daily twelve-hour Arulian break, so Xir, Zipnik and Georgi sat drinking an Arulian orange-colored tea mixed with an intoxicating neuro-relaxer juice called Liquid-Q. Xir was getting sloshed. He had trouble stabilizing his six-foot frame against a pole. He saw his flushed face, dishevelled blond hair, and blue, bloodshot eyes reflected in the port side space portal. He gave himself a meek, drunken nod.
Black-haired Zipnik's azure eyes stared out from a dark-skinned six-foot frame at the intoxicated Xir. On a nearby lounge chair sat Georgi, another six foot Arulian who was the standard brown-haired, emerald-green-eye model. Georgi's design had become the model-of-choice when a brain-wave virtual reality memory chip portrayed a six-foot, brown-haired hero as saving Arul from apathy.
All three were genetically engineered to have extremely high IQs. All three were designed by their mothers, who told them they were perfect. They weren't. No Arulian was. On Planet Arul laziness was built-in. Educational transfer devices (ETDs) made learning too quick and easy. Glitches in genetic codes were causing personality fluctuations. Though a few Arulian scientists were starting to notice, the genetic enhancement companies denied any problems. Of course that was thirty-five million years before; after so much time, and so many light years, who knew if the companies--or even the planet--existed.
Xir sipped the Liquid-Q tea, then said: "Men, I've about had it with this Swivarian pig Captain sending us 'round this blasted Universe, and I promise you, and I repeat, I do promise you--we're gonna find a way to make our lives better."
One of Xir's genetic glitches was promising things. He was addicted to raising expectations.
Georgi looked at Xir. "Yeah, how we gonna do that Blond Boy?"
Xir hated being called 'Blond Boy'. He put on a bandanna around his head and tried to look tough. The bandanna had a picture of an Arulian pyramid surrounded by flocking birds. This was the symbol of triangular energy and freedom. It was also a space pirate symbol. "Hey Georgi Boy, I'm the only one with balls enough to do somethin' to make my life better. You're a piece of squirming fish bait."
Xir took a swig and fell to the floor. He flopped on his back then stabilized himself in a sitting position.
Zipnik examined Xir's face. There was no cure for the red eye and face flushing effects of Liquid-Q. Some theorized that this was so the government would know who was intoxicated. Zipnik's face was just as flushed. "You're drinking too much Liquid-Q, you fool." Zipnik's defect was details. He didn't understand this, and it caused problems. He tried to analyze the problem but got bogged down. To Zipnik analysis was akin to failure.
"I'm fine--hiccup..." Xir said. "Excuse me ... just a little pissed that we're goin' to do 'nother blasted time burn--hiccup ... ah ... 'scuse me again. These damn planets keep blowin' up. We should listen to Herculus and stay put 'ere. We could be Gods!--hiccup." He swallowed, trying to stop the hiccups.
Georgi looked through the cabin portal at the shining green-blue planet. "I think she's a lucky planet. She's colored like my eyes. I bet there's a lot of adventure down here."
"Your eyes look like shitty green mold ... hiccup," said Xir.
"You're drinking too much," said Georgi.
"Hey, hey ... we'b been stuck on this blasted ship fer twenty five years ... you can ne'ber drink too muchi' ... I say too much errr ... in space." Xir said, wobbling. "Screw da Captain, let's sneaker down to P-4, errr ... P-5 or whatever the flunk the name is ... before ... before ... ah ... before the next time burn--hiccup ... and take ov'er da planet ... that's it!" Xir grasped a pole next to Georgi and Zipnik. Zipnik looked at the planet. Xir winked at Georgi.
Georgi and Xir had spoken earlier about the idea of sneaking off the ship but they weren't sure if Zipnik would agree. They'd modified the Liquid-Q to act as a truth serum. They had planned to get Zipnik intoxicated using Xir as the lead. Xir was doing his job too well.
"It's actually not a bad idea," said Zipnik, sipping his drink.
"Zipnik, are you serious?" asked Georgi.
"Sure, if we do it together we can live like gods on the planet below."
Georgi smiled. "Hell, if we beam down a few of the ARB kits we'd never need to do anything."
"What's an arbie?" asked Xir.
"ARB," corrected Georgi.
"Artificial Asshole Robot Bitch," Zipnik explained.
"Automatic Robotic Builder," corrected Georgi. "Robots we used in Planetary Ops. They build themselves from scratch from local materials. They can build a whole city. It'd be like one big game." Like all of his model, Georgi loved games. Some said this was another defect--at least, they'd said it before take-off thirty-five million years earlier.
"We can sneak out tomorrow before they start the 5K time burn," said Georgi.
"Sounds a good to me ... hiccup ... hiccup ... who's a gonna get the arbies sent out?" asked Xir.
"I'll set an automatic timer tonight," said Zipnik. "Meet me at 55 time units after sunrise on P-5's center desert at the L25J46 position--that sun worshipping colony, Egypter or somethin' like that ... Hey, we're outta Liquid-Q."
"That's a good thing," said Georgi.