Where Have All The Kittens Gone? by Alan DelaneySUMMARY: There wasn't much worth salvaging on the planet, but they did find something.
"'...the primary philosophy of the system is that the majority of the wealth, production and goods is in the hands of a small minority of private individuals leading to a competitive market that favours free trade and neutral state regulation. Supply-and-demand balance, fluctuating prices and a clear division of wealth are the hallmarks of this system. Another notable effect is that while individuals in the lower wealth brackets often require finance from private individuals and groups in order to compete, wealthier individuals can earn income simply by loaning money to the less wealthy and collecting the money back over time with interest, thereby, in effect, becoming wealthy simply by the fact that they are already wealthy. This in itself leads to other...' What am I reading exactly?"
"It's called Capitalism, Sir. It's the primary political system on Zeragan III."
"Savages. And this is how they run their government?"
"Well, ostensibly many of their governments follow a cumbersome form of democracy, but the capitalists run the governments so yes."
"Ah... yes. There's more than one, Sir. Hundreds in fact. But they're getting there. Plans are in operation for a one-world government as we speak. But... umm..."
"Umm what? Stop staring at your feet, man. Spit it out."
"Well it seems that not many people know about the plans. The political caste is being quite secretive about it."
"Indeed. So we have a small, low-resource planet with a population of seven trillion, who live..."
"Seven billion, actually. Not trillion."
"Seven billion? I assumed that was a typo. I've been on bigger mining colonies."
"No Sir. It wasn't a typo. I double-checked that myself."
"Indeed. So, seven billion, who can only live on one-third of the planet's surface, who don't have a global government, who operate under a barbaric political system... Does this species have any redeeming qualities? How about their technology?"
"Oh, that's quite advanced Sir. Long-range nuclear weapons, orbital lasers systems, microwave bombs, robot-mounted guns, missile defence arrays. They're quite resourceful really. If we gave them access to our technology there's no telling what they could do with it, if you catch my drift."
"Indeed. Wait... what the hell does a planet with the population of an average city need nukes for. Do they have many enemies here?"
"Only each other, Sir. In fact they don't even officially recognise the existence of non-terrestrial life forms."
"Wow. And you say this is the primary sapient species on the planet?"
"Actually Sir, it's the only one."
"Uh... Right, I've heard enough. How do you think the environmentalists would react to a Code Seven?"
"Umm, officially a Code Seven would be forbidden on any inhabited body, but, under the circumstances, I'm willing to bet that they'd be only to happy to overlook this one. Just this once, of course."
"Of course. Right, schedule a Code Seven sweep. Get back to me when the salvage ships are ready to move in."
"Sir, I do have one request?"
"There's one species on the planet that's worth saving. They're called kittens, Sir."
"And what's so special about them?"
"Well, they make great pets, are quite intelligent, keep themselves very clean, eat only when they're hungry, are easily domesticated yet can still survive in the wild, and, well, they're really cute."
"Yes Sir. Like baby Xibillin Sir, but cuter."
"Nothing in the universe is cuter than baby Xibillin."
"Well, I think I've found something cuter. Trust me on this one."
"Fine. Save the kittens. Bring me one. Destroy everything else.
"Yes Sir. Right away."
"OK, next target. How about this one, Zeragan II?"
"Ah, now that's more encouraging..."