"What did these poor fuckers do?" Tyran drawled.
He wasn't really curious, he just wanted to jaw. You don't do what we are about to do if you give a shit about why, and I hadn't gotten this gig by asking too many questions. I knew what he was going to say after the first two words but had to wait a solar year for him to finish, you can always tell a Telaxian by the way they enunciate it's like someone dribbling luke warm molasses in your ear for twice as long as it should take to say anything.
I chewed on his question despite being fairly certain he was asking purely to fill up the silence that stretched seconds into hours. I managed a reply, my throat phlegmy to the point of it being almost unintelligible at first, it's hard to talk for the first few hours after the ships systems decant you. "Whatever it was, it doesn't matter now." He looked away while his hand found the confirmation patch.
I was the senior crewman on board so it falls to me to actually pull the damn thing, but it still required two sophonts to launch one of these babies.
I glanced through the minuscule iris of the view-port while my ungloved hand touched the stomach churning pinkish purple of the gelid ident patch. Fuck I hate these things I had time to think, but not enough time to even begin to tense up, before the burn of it's cilia penetrating my skin raced up my spine. It tasted my DNA making sure that whoever is grabbing hold of that big red handle is authorized to do what we were doing, and if they weren't... well it would make sure they never did anything else again. A clunk as the physical lock released, and then a chime as the HUD turned from red to green and I felt relief. I know it's fool proof but in the back of my mind I always think about how it's the lowest paid contractor that designed them, grew them , and installed the system.
I felt a moments pity for that big blue, red and green marble and whoever or whatever had pissed of the powers that be, and then I pulled the lever.
One nice thing about the big red middle finger, it makes a satisfying clunk when you kill a world.
The ugly sintered bronze planes that comprised the ship had translated into the system 2 standard solar hours ago, their angles assured the viewer it had never seen an atmosphere. Ironically it didn't seem hostile, and considering the mission it didn't stay long. Just long enough to let the crew wake up and perform their single task and then go back to sleep.
An oily sheen analogous to antifreeze in a dirty puddle of water coated it's bluntness lending an exotic look to the bronze if someone hadn't seen a werne field before. The sudden opening of a payload port could easily have been missed by even an attentive observer, after all it was only about the size of a maintenance hatch, or on a primitive world a manhole cover. Even more innocuous was the black speck that spat from the opening falling into the red streaked and dirty white turbulent clouds of the unnamed planet below with an unnatural speed. A careful observer, would grow suspicious at the lack of bow shock wave as the man sized speck picked up speed during it's decent. If the vessel was venting trash it should burn up on atmospheric entry. It didn't even flare as it passed through the upper atmosphere into the life supporting thick soup of the lower atmosphere. Seph the crew member who had sent the matte black cylinder on it's unremarkable trajectory to the planet, barely had time to think how fucked up it is that there is no fan fare when one of these things is deployed before the ship put him back to sleep, and translated out of system. The oiled bronze flank of the ship seemed to grow, and stretch like taffy until it was all there was in the sky for one brief impossible moment in time, and then it was gone. The only real change at first was an additional zero added to the two crew members respective bank accounts.
The cylinders ablative covering defied the laws of physics with casual ease. No heat built up, but at the same time the speed of the cylinder was not impeded by of Kerath's atmosphere. The usual heat and light were absent and the wind swirling around the tube so dark it seemed to eat light didn't even whistle much less shriek. Less than 30 seconds after launch the vessel slammed at terminal velocity into the wine dark sea without even a splash courtesy of the advanced field emitters that formed the nose and tail end of the vessel. If one of the two intelligences or one of the militaries had seen the vessel inbound they would have thought it a missile. But they didn't see it. And it was not a missile. It was a seed. And when that seed finally slammed home into the sediment at the bottom of the huge body of water known as Mori quisoth to the natives, the fate of their world was sealed. Unit 42 began working the moment the vessel lodged into the sediment the first order of business was to secure a power source.