Reddit Writing Prompt #20: Birth Of A World

Jack is an apocalypse architect. He travels the galaxy to barren planets, pre-intelligent life, and makes subtle changes to ensure that when life evolves, the planet’s inhabitants ultimately meet an apocalyptic end. –NotAnAI

The seas bubbled, thick with the building blocks of life, as Jack ate his lunch on the edge of a cliff. Tiny crumbs of bread fell and were caught by the wind, but Jack paid them no mind. Yes, there were half a dozen regulations that promised painful death to any double-As that brought foreign biological matter onto a pre-life world without the proper clearance.

Jack didn’t care. He hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, and it was impossible to manufacture the end of a world on an empty stomach.

Jack swallowed the last of his sandwich, feeling the tiny legs of the sandwich’s meat wriggle as they passed down his throat. He belched, and then opened up his toolbox to start working. Vials of engineered chemicals glowed unnaturally in the small box, and Jack flipped through the trays like the pages of a book to find the one he needed.

“Let’s see, green for an oxygen atmosphere, level three for a white dwarf star…” he mumbled to himself, searching for the proper vial. He found the tray of green vials, but one of the containers was empty. “Oh, drat.” That was right; it had been a busy morning seeding death in worlds that might bring about intelligent life, and he’d been assigned a lot of planets with oxygen-rich atmospheres orbiting a white dwarf. He puckered one of his mouths; this might be a problem.

He could head back to the office to restock, but he had a quota to fill that cycle, and the time spent getting more vials would be better spent seeding more planets.

Hum. A conundrum.

Jack eventually shrugged his numerous tentacles, and took a green level one and two from the trays. He overturned them, letting the glowing green liquids mix together as they fell to the bubbling sea below. His logic was infallible: green level one plus green level two equals green level three. He was just an apocalypse architect, he didn’t understand how the stuff worked.

Not many did. It was a complex, volatile substance that was used to sterilize planets that might develop multi-cellular life, which might in turn lead to intelligent life, which would in turn lead to trouble. A cocktail of protein chains and viruses that would spread like a plague – because, well, technically it was a plague – through every single-celled life form on a pre-natal world. It would prevent the proper bonds from forming that would allow a single-celled organism to evolve past that stage, preventing them from developing into troubles for the rest of the universe. It was crowded enough already, thank you.

Jack, satisfied at a job well done, brushed some more crumbs off his front, scooped up his toolbox, and began to hover back to his ship. The silvery needle left the planet, the third such one orbiting this particular star, behind, and Mike, like all lifeforms who are paid to do a job without thinking too much, forgot about it entirely.

He couldn’t have known that the formulas, specifically prepared to be used solely on a certain type of world, would interact so violently, the viruses tearing each other apart. He couldn’t have known that the crumbs from his sandwich would contain a particular element that had been missing from the world so far, one that would provide the final building block for life that had been missing from that world.

The world was forgotten by the universe, and so nobody saw, millions of years later, when the planet’s surface had cooled and its waters had calmed, a slimy little fish drag itself out of the water.

And nobody could have known about the amazing things that would one day happen on that pale blue dot.

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