Emelie sat in silence, watching from her ship’s cockpit. God, she had fucked up royally on this one.

The planet had been outstanding. It had extremely valuable resources, the type you only found in one out of a hundred star systems, and she was sure that success in this mission would’ve gotten her a promotion.

But damn, she had completely underestimated the people of this planet. Within weeks, the damned conspiracy theories had started pushing out information about aliens being among them. And that quickly moved up to a lot of trouble with the government. And then they just started asking too many damn questions.

Now, her finger lingered over the red button, the one she was only supposed to press in the case of an absolute failure. Shit, there went the promotion

When she was young, she used to read the newspapers back home. Every other week, they talked about how aliens were among humans and how they would kill all humans. The irony was that ten years later, humans would make first contact.

The worst part—or the best part as Emelie saw it—those aliens were dumb as a brick and tasted extremely well when sautéed. It was just strange getting over what they looked like. But companies had managed to grind them, process them, and package them in slabs of meat so no one really cared.

Within thirty years of discovering faster than light travel, humans had expanded their cosmic knowledge and their maps beyond the wildest dreams of any sci-fi writer of centuries past. And after several thousand worlds discovered, tagged, and registered, they’d found plenty of alien life, but it was all extremely backward.

This last one Emelie had been assigned to was what they would call a level five, the highest level to date. A picture of 20th-century human civilization, they had already gotten out of their planet, but not further. They were still about 30 centuries before they could achieve any sort of discovery that would get them any further. And as with any of these level five planets, Emelie was tasked with the three basic missions. She had to sabotage the civilization’s advancement in technology. She had to explore both the planet and the civilizations in it. And she had to exploit the planet.

But she had been caught red-handed, and the people there led a massive witch hunt for anything alien. Even within the few months she had been stationed, a whole world war had broken out over her, and then they quickly targeted her as if she were their common enemy.

Even now, her finger about to hit the emergency button, she knew her supervisor would scold her for this. It should’ve been an easy infiltration mission. Some of the better agents out there could even get the native species working for them.

With a sigh, Emelie pressed the button and said goodbye to the promotion. A little bubble formed on the north pole of the planet, first looking like a soap bubble. But then it popped and fired spread until the entire planet’s atmosphere was gone.

With that, she checked on her computer that the planet was free of any native species and signed off the planet to the mining crew.