Far above the atmosphere of Earth a sleek, silver spacecraft came to a halt. Inside of the spacecraft, which was shaped like a giant metal kidney bean, a group of alien scientists from the planet Castenor sat as they observed life on planet Earth.
The Castenorians were smaller and more disgusting than the humans of Earth. If a man or woman from Earth were to see one, they might say that it looked like a shriveled, wrinkly raisin of a man. Other than that, they mostly resembled humans. Their heads were proportionally larger and, like their ship, reflected the same bean-like nature. The Castenorians had small black beans for eyes, but no mouths for eating or speaking. Large suction cups in the center of each of their palms were used to ingest the large variety of small berries and beans found on Castenor, and they communicated telepathically to one another, sending their thoughts from mind to mind.
“So, planet Earth is finally up for inspection then,” thought Jorgen.
“Took them long enough,” mused Harken, as he sucked up another pickled frumberry. “For such a primitive species, their opinions of themselves seem to be quite great. Frankly, I’m surprised we even got the approval for this.”
“Oh, lay off them, Harken,” thought Burgel. “This is how every young species starts. At one point in our own history, our ancestors were likely quite similar to the humans you see now. But you are right. Their next evolution will be of the mind, not the body.”
“How many subjects will we be testing, then?” thought Jorgen.
“Let’s see,” Harken thought. He consulted his notes on the flatscreen in front of him. “Twelve dozen. A dozen each from various randomized locations.”
“Oh, this always gives me flesh bumps,” thought Burgel. “It’s so exciting. Seeing a species so close to such a monumental change. We could be witnessing history here, my friends. This is why I love my job.”
Harken rolled his eyes and sucked up another pickled frumberry.
“Well then,” thought Jorgen. “We should probably get started on it, then.”
“May as well,” thought Harken.
“Yippee,” thought Burgel.
The three Castenorians focused their attention on Earth, deciding where the dozen dozens would be drawn from. To decide, they spun a model globe and stopped it with a single spindly finger. They stopped on China, and they stopped on Alaska. Sudan, Brazil, Australia, and Costa Rica were also chosen. One stopped somewhere in the Pacific, and another in the Arctic. Russia, Scotland, and Greenland were picked next.
The last was somewhere in North America.
“Shall we place the usual bets, then?” Jorgen thought.
“Ninety-percent failure,” thought Harken. “Ten-percent success.”
“That’s a bit pessimistic, don’t you think?” thought Burgel. “Forty-six-percent failure. Fifty-four-percent success. I’d like to see this planet do well. Humans are fascinating.”
“Fifty-percent failure, fifty-percent success, then,” thought Jorgen.
“Always even odds with you, Jorgen,” thought Harken.
“At least he gives them a chance,” thought Burgel.
With the lots drawn, the Castenorians began selecting separate regions from each initial pick. From every selected region one human being was chosen, again at random, for testing. The process could take an indefinite amount of time, but time was one thing that the Castenorians had in good supply. Once their subjects were selected they began their study.
They began their study, and they watched, and they waited.