Captain Xiortag twitched his tentacles impatiently. A great deal was riding on this: System Yellow 8713 was a hyperspace nexus and it was imperative that they get some spies among the population to ensure they could gather current intelligence. He had 300 pods in the hold, each with a control unit ready to implant in one of these ‘humans’.
“Well Mister Tyrgadz, how many candidates have you selected so far?”
The sensor operator drooped his eyestalks in shame. “None, sir.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Yes sir. I think the excluder program is acting up.”
That was typical of these young officers; blame the computer. Xiortag found that the real cause was often lack of focus. He would have to talk to the Academy Master about this. In the meantime, it meant that Xiortag would have to talk this fool lieutenant through his job.
“You do have it set to identify humans, Mister Tyrgadz?”
“Yes sir. There are approximately 7.2 billion creatures on the planet that match the first-level biological parameters of humans. The problem is occurring when we run the second-level scan to remove unsuitable candidates. They’re all being flagged.”
“What are you excluding?”
“Well, first the usuals. Tabragans, Olethids, Nicrone, Gestalvans, Yodebin, all twenty-three member species of the Cactan Alliance, …”
“Yes, yes, you don’t need to read the entire list. How many species are on it?”
“One thousand four hundred and twelve, sir.”
“Double check the list please, Mister Tyrgadz. Are ‘humans’ on the exclusion list?” It would be just like a rookie to exclude the candidate species.
Tyrgadz searched the list on the computer, then sorted it by hieroglyph and did a manual scan. Finally he looked back at the captain. “No sir, humans are not on the exclusion list.”
“And yet this list is excluding everyone?”
“Not at that level, sir. The racial exclusion list is eliminating 74% of candidates; the rest are being taken out on the situational exclusion list.”
“Situational exclusion list?”
“Yes sir. Robots, synthetic organics, undead, shape shifters, and extradimensional beings. So far nothing has managed to pass both filters.”
“Mister Tyrgadz, are you telling me that there are no actual humans on that planet?”
“Correct, sir. It seems they’re all taken.”
“So I have three hundred infiltration agents ready to deploy and no humans to deploy them in?”
“Yes, Captain. If I may suggest something…”
“What is it, Tyrgadz?”
“We’ve had some luck with synthetic organic hosts, sir. Lab tests have shown a sixteen percent rate of successful implantation.”
“It’s better than zero, sir.”
Xiortag squirted ink into the life-support medium in disgust. Sixteen percent; that meant fifty spies if they were lucky. They would crack his shell for this.
“Make it happen, Mister Tyrgadz.” It was better than nothing.