What’s a-crackin’?

This job has gone to soil, thought Jim to himself. Whatever possessed me to take this position? He asked of himself, wearily.
The depths were always calming. The area known as the Mariana Trench to the species at the top of the food chain in this tiny planet was relatively devoid of noise. Jim liked that. He was taking a break from his shift and, as he had habitually done for the past century or so, recalled the halcyon days of early internship. Of course, back then the pay was as basic as it could get without it being indentured slavery, but the hours and the location had been prime, he mused.
Jim held a disc-shaped metal object in one of his colossal tentacles, applying elongated tools that resembled tweezers and a screwdriver – if tweezers and screwdrivers came in sizes battleship and aircraft carrier – with two other tentacles.
When the position as head of his own project was offered to him, Jim could not believe his luck. That he, a veritable neophyte at Yggdartillau Multiversal, would be considered for such a prestigious position was beyond his wildest dreams. Of course, as it usually happens, when things are too good to be true it is precisely because they are. Jim’s freshman naiveté got the best of him then and he simply did not bother to scrutinize the offer.
Things sure had changed around here in the past few orbital centicycles around Sol. It had been countless millicycles since the reptiles and the oh-so-savoury, decently sized fish that swam the oceans had been terminated, courtesy of the Board’s inane decisions. We have decided to introduce a new series of bioforms and it is imperative that the climate and atmosphere be adjusted for the introduction thereof. He thought that maybe these new bioforms would be tasty, at least. Well, they are tasty… just not large enough to do more than tickle his palate. And so the megafauna was phased out in favor of the apes.
It wasn’t bad enough that the planet itself was a virtual ghetto, but this entire bubbleverse provided little by way of significant or even pleasant interaction or stimuli. Nevermind that he was stranded with no means of transport off of this backwards quadrant, but he was directed to disturb the bioforms of the surface as little as possible. Screw that! He thought to himself, triumphantly, as the disc-shaped object began to propel itself through the water, white lights shining powerfully, as it ascended to the surface. Jim wondered with some pleasure if this one of his toys would cause enough of a commotion for the balding apes.
The project had been filled with such promise when he first got to the primordially oozing planet. The weather had been nice, the oceans quite warm owing to the constant tectonic activity.
He wistfully recalled that some of his colleagues had even displayed friendly jealousy at his seemingly good fortune. His very own project, calling all the shots, getting things done and making a difference for the Elder Ones… all a sham, really. It began to dawn on him, the realization that perhaps things were not quite so fortunate for him, when he realized that he was the only cephalopod considered for the task. That never happened to him, being singled out. Not for anything good, anyways. Of course, by then it was already too late. He was already secured – rather trapped! – in the meteoric seed that would deploy him to the project’s site. Plainly put, Jim had been hornswaggled.
Well, the apes proliferated, alright! They damn near collapsed the ecosystem several times in the past 2 centicycles. Despite his utter contempt for the project, Jim did not want to burn any bridges. Letting the project fail before official termination could spell a disaster for his career.
The tiny planet had become a terribly boring and obnoxious place, though. Especially after many of the land-dwelling species had been metabolically engineered to produce more greenhouse gasses – what the Board intended with that asinine decision was beyond him. So the once pleasant-smelling blue ball was now a cesspool planet. Thankfully, he thought, his sense of smell was quickly deteriorating to the point that he would likely lose it completely within the next centicycle.
The Board is full of morons and buffoons, Jim would tell himself, fanning his own rage until he would thrash in the oceanic depths. His gargantuan tentacles sending the world’s currents into a frenzy. Every centicycle or so, they would send him a directive ordering the termination of the project, but the manner in which it was to be done was always so slow! Jim would begin the process as specified and, about a quarter into it, a new directive would come halting and reversing the process. How he hated that! Every. Single. Time. The apes would go crazy every time this took place, of course. They had enough sentience by now to realize something might be pulling the strings of their planet’s nature and figure out that they might not be long for existence. The bald apes were dysfunctional enough by themselves, as it were. They may not even need a push and the Board could shove their directives up the excretory orifice of their choosing.
And then there was the noise; all this sonar noise going around, making everything screwy. His headaches were increasing and Jim was sure that the bumbling apes were to blame. But at least they mostly minded their own business. Save for a few excursions, which Jim easily avoided by mimicking the rocks in the basin, the balding apes hardly ever came around. He did enjoy messing with their heads, so now and then he would simply move quickly from under a submarine that likely thought they were near the floor only to find out quite suddenly that several thousand feet of floor depth had disappeared from underneath. He enjoyed hearing the panicked radio chatter. But the balding apes appeared more preoccupied with exploring the little rocky planets in the Sol system. If only they knew how positively drab this entire bubbleverse was.
There were other intelligent species. Well, intelligent was a very generous term where this planet was concerned. The little cetaceans, dolphins, they were all punks and vandals. Much smarter than the apes, though. They would do nothing but call Jim names and copulate around him, making fun of his loneliness. Not that he had ever been much with the ladies back home. He sighed with longing every time he thought of the females. It had been such a long time since, well… Jim even thought he saw one now and then, but he knew that it was just likely pareidolia.
He had requested that assistants be sent, he had asked the Board, claiming he could not keep track of all the processes any longer by himself. This was not true, of course, but he hoped they would send a pretty female nonetheless. In the remote closeness Jim thought intimacy would eventually flow. It would be inevitable. But no, the Board always denied his petitions. All of them.
Some of the larger cetaceans, the white, flat-headed ones, would often try to gang up on him and bombard him with sonar blasts. The blasts did little to Jim, but would cause migraine headaches later. He would eat the foolish cetaceans, though they didn’t taste all that good. He didn’t understand why the larger cephalopods in this planet would try to eat them. Speaking of the little runts, all cephalopods here were evolutionary retrogrades. They couldn’t even speak! The larger ones liked to play, but they were more like cute, stupid pets than actual company or special little brothers that your family only lets out when going to commune with the Elder Ones because how boorish of them to discriminate and aren’t we all made in their image and whatnot.
How he longed for the days when life was good and he would go guzzle down libations with his mates and try but fail miserably to woo some fetching female. Jim even missed his mother, of all cephalopods!
Well, he was certainly growing tired and wondering if the Board would ever actually terminate the project. He wondered – more playfully at first, but increasingly more seriously over time – if he would ever get desperate enough to destroy the project. It would mean suicide, of course. Jim had no way of getting out of this bubbleverse, let alone the planet, without the Board’s mercy. Perhaps he would. Perhaps he might not care enough anymore. He would make quite the spectacle for the surface-dwellers! Perhaps, he could set the little world on fire…


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