When the final go-ahead came through from Zara, cosmic-carrom was put on hold and the crew scrambled around to get to their designated posts, and to make up for lost time, stepped on a gas-pedal so hard, so unexpectedly, that Platoon no.5 blew out a fuse and found the fleet stranded somewhere in the unremarkable belt of nothingness in the outer reaches of the solar system, precariously in line of Saturn’s orbit around the sun.[i] The mechanics quickly got to work – to save their lives, to prevent further delay – armed with hammers, with solders, and with complicated equations that had Greek letters in them. Nothing was spared because nothing could be allowed to eat into their overtime pay and they were well and truly out of Zara’s time and into their own time now.
But the task seemed unfeasible and Saturn lurked menacingly closer.
And then, something curious happened. The Earthmen got to work, with such frenzied dedication, that Platoon no.5’s delay was rendered moot. AI was dragged back on schedule.
It started with the launching of guided missiles, primitive penile tools of warfare used by Earthmen, towards all the major service centers that Platoon no.5 was supposed to be extracting from Earth.[ii] Whenever these missiles failed to reduce the service centers to debris, Earthmen numbering in hundreds of thousands all over the planet, adherents of different campaigns and faiths, showed tremendous solidarity and unity to Zara’s bottom-line and marched out, armed with pitchforks, cudgels, machetes, automatic rifles, and flame-throwers. They rushed the site, setting fire to (unnecessary), tearing down (helpful), and relieving themselves on top of (an Earthian quirk, the crew assumed) the said service centers.
Whatever incompetence you could blame on any one of these marauding flocks, their sheer number was getting the job done. The platoon watched amazed as the Earthmen went about eradicating any sign of the campaigns that they could lay their hands on, clearing out, in matter of hours, what the fleet would have needed days to accomplish.[iii] Words began to spread around the platoon that this is precisely what Zara was doing when he went AWOL: he was striking up a deal with the Earthmen to help the platoon complete the unfeasible task that has been assigned.
The crew onboard was touched by Zara’s thoughtfulness. They chanted his name. They clapped their hands spontaneously. And in a rare moment of solidarity with the management, announced that they were going to get the job done on time. In fact, there was now a race to fix the fuse and get on with the task ahead, making sure that the Earthmen did not end up doing all the work. Platoon no.5’s reputation was at stake and they had to get a move on.
When someone suggested that they go on a strike for Zara hiring low-paid workers without consulting with the workers’ union first, he was flung out into space, and when someone suggested that they may as well sit back and relax since the Earthians were doing all the work, he was set on fire and then flung out into space.
The crew was up for this unique challenge presented by the Earthians. And with no intentions of wasting any more time, while the repair was still going on, the members from the red team and the green team who did not know how to wield a hammer or read Greek merged their forces and formed the yellow team and went back to cosmic-carrom. There were plenty of asteroids still around, and they could all be used to take out a service center or take out a flock about to take out a service center.
Before long, the repair was done. The fleet moved into place. They could finally start the extraction.
Welcome to the Apocalypse.
[i] The ship itself was safe from collision since it was equipped with top-of-the-line phasing technology and could easily avoid Jupiter by phasing right through it. But the crew onboard could not. That presented two practical stumbling-blocks to overcome in the use of phasing technology: first, once activated, the phasing device effectively made the ship phase through and eject everyone onboard immediately and phased on, unmanned, into the endless space-horizon; and secondly, once activated, no one knew just how to turn off the phasing since every attempt at pressing the off button resulted in the finger phasing right through it.
This has led many to wonder what, if any, are the potential benefits of installing a phasing-device on the fleets of Zara-Decimators. The answer quite simply is this: new technology often receives hostile reception at first until a practical purpose has been developed for implementing the technology productively. Because no practical purpose of phasing technology has been developed decades after its invention, the hostilities have continued unabated, and the company holding the patent was about to go bankrupt. The devices were available dirt-cheap during a fire-sale, and Zara considered the opportunity too good to pass up.
[ii] These missiles were crude, blunt weapons, doing far more damage than necessary. But too much is always preferred to not enough. The same way why one might consider flattening an entire city with an Earthquake to punish a few people, when more precision-strikes using a few lightning-bolts would serve better.
[iii] Another curious Earthian quirk: whenever multiple mobs were crossing paths, at least one group was getting eradicated.