issue 3

Acquisition: Earth, by Steven Berger

Hon. Sciorek, I am sorry again for what happened during my last assignment. Yurfiga was a challenging planet to integrate into Quarrex’s operations, and I would have liked to oversee the mass cleanup efforts myself. However, I understand you need me on Earth, and I promise to send regular reports.

As you’ll remember, Quarrex acquired Earth three fiscal years ago (terms undisclosed). The acquisition was intended to offer new product lines for the galaxy’s wealthiest customers, leveraging Earth’s extensive resources already devoted to producing non-essentials, primarily intoxicants and jewelry.

I doubt the current Earther executives had seen a live Quodiverin before I stepped off the bus-jet. We were to immediately report to one of the north district wineries for a tour. Their eagerness to arrive at the operation impressed me, with my host commanding the driver to speed at multiples of the recommended limit, winking at me in what I imagine to be an early effort to build rapport.

Things took a turn at the winery. Even though the Earther executives arranged the tour, they seemed to be participants on it as well. The Earth definition of “tasting” differs starkly from our own.

My translator struggled to decipher the Earthers’ slurred exclamations on the ride to the hotel, and so I let them babble without interruption, focusing instead on the tinny sound of the rainglobs pounding the car’s roof. At the hotel, the host showed me to my accommodations, a peeling room on the ground floor. I closed the door and assessed the bed: perhaps suitable for a pre-germinated Quodiverin but not a full sprout like myself. It is fortunate I sleep standing up.

I can’t fault them for their lack of finesse. I’m sure you recall the rumor that their predecessors leapt at Quarrex’s opening offer, and, once the deal closed, promptly abandoned their planet for the diamond hills of Ayoneayone. I ran into some of them at a gas bar there while on sabbatical. They can really hold their gas.

When we arrived at a junkyard the next day, I asked the Earthers about the need for this detour from the jewelry operation. You can imagine the curvature of my quills when I learned the junkyard is the jewelry operation. Fortunately, I believe the whole business can be automated quickly. I would appreciate if you could expedite my request for an industrial strainer.

They sleep often, and every evening, too. I try not to leave my quarters during the night because I do not wish to appear boastful of my superior physiology. If you have other projects I can work on, 72% of my capacity is uncommitted. I plead for an update with new assignment details. For now, I lie coiled on the bed and stare at the popcorn ceiling.

You may remember the shareholders’ uproar when the Earthers murdered a pair of Groriak contractors that Quarrex sent shortly after the acquisition. After broaching this subject over glasses of a clear liquid one Earther had made in his hotel room’s bathtub, I have new details for the shareholders: they believed the two mild-mannered accountants were a species known as the Predators, a fearsome folkloric invention the Earthers recalled from centuries past. I suppose I can see a resemblance.

I continue to await new orders. The nights pass with little to show for them. Meanwhile, I’ve taken up tub brewing.

During one of my nightly recesses, I consumed a bony macaw caged in the lobby. This has caused a considerable problem, because the bird proved to have been one of the host’s dependents, presumably his favorite based on my analysis of his prolonged lamentations (see attached). I am working to suture relations, and have followed the Earther custom of looking the host in the eyes and saying “I’m sorry, I did not mean to do that,” even though I clearly did.

I assure you, Hon. Sciorek, this was an unavoidable mistake. Before you rush to judgment, know that I reviewed the limited Earth-sensitivity training available on our intranet during my bus-flight here. I have learned from the accidental revenge-marriage on Woost-7.

This is not going to be like Woost-7.

I have sent many reports to no reply. Are these updates meaningful? Have you heard from the shareholders?

Every corner of Earth is filled with history. Half of the planet is ruins, all brimming with the richness of cultures the Earthers keep alive in drunken toasts. We’ll want to establish continuity with these histories when we rebrand the planet in several years. Please see the attached report for my proposals (I prefer Quarrex Veneration).

Since I have not heard from you yet, I’ve also appended all the prior reports I’ve sent for your convenience.

Exciting to hear that Quarrex acquired Or-Telt. The feed said twelve integration officers with full staff are being sent to ensure Or-Telt’s legendary gum mines are incorporated into Quarrex’s operations within the year. As an integration team of one, I have taken this as an affirmation of your confidence in me.

If you divert some of those integration officers here, though, I will not be insulted.

I noticed Earth was not even mentioned in the quarterly update. I looked forward to the shareholders’ feedback on my Tipsy Tours proposal, after a full quarter of on-the-ground research. Without word from above, I’ve taken the project forward on my own. Our first scheduled trips already have waiting lists, even if they are all Earthers.

Do the shareholders even care about Earth?

It is with several emotions that I inform you I am resigning my post as integration officer, effective immediately. I am unsure why Quarrex has decided to let Earth wither, and in the meantime I recognize that the never-ending alternation of sleeping and binge drinking is an agreeable life choice. If you wish to engage my services on a contractual basis, or learn more about my fledgling moonshine business, do not hesitate to reach out.

Steven Berger is a speculative fiction writer who occasionally veers into humor. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Despite living in an endless summer since he moved to Austin, Texas, he still prefers his coffee hot and puts Chicago-style giardiniera on everything. Find him on Twitter @steber.

5 thoughts on “Acquisition: Earth, by Steven Berger”

  1. Steven Berger is a writer to watch. What a clever and well-written story Too often, I see either a good story or skillful writing. Mr. Berger has given us both.
    Very thought-provoking and entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

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