“Sir, the probe has completed its analysis.” Blothar reported to eir superior Jizmak.

“And?” the colonel replied, snuffing out the fat cigar ey had been mostly chewing but somewhat sucking on.

“I’ll let you read it for yourself. I’ve highlighted the most relevant bits,” said Blothar, gesticulating at the datasheet as ey passed it across the metallo-ceramic desk.

“Mm,” the superior grunted, taking the sheet and brushing some phlegm and cigar ash from the display and scanning for the relevant bits.

“As you can see, the first conclusion is that the atmosphere is unsuitable for life without significant terraforming. Toxic nitrogen levels and, as our spectoanalysis indicated, improper temperature for solid carbon dioxide, which is necessary for all life as we know it.”

The larger Jizmak picked up eir extinguished cigar and chewed on the butt a bit as ey flailed to eir junior to continue.

“Um,” Blothar stuttered, having anticipated the goopier officer to respond at least a little to the data already provided. “As we also already knew, the surface of the planet is largely covered in numerous toxic substances, which occasionally re-enter the atmosphere and rain down on the land masses as well, rendering a permanent output entirely unfeasible.”

“Get to the good bits already,” sputtered Jizmak, again wiping up the screen of the dataslate after eir spittle had settled.

“Ok, well, um, according to our scientists, the surface is increasingly displaying geological activity that can’t be explained by our current understanding of plate tectonics. Small, localized hollow mountains have been known to appear over a matter of mere decades, and dry riverbeds can turn up almost overnight, making no effort to flow according to topology. Along these riverbeds the probe has recorded bizarre boulders travelling, which are entirely inorganic in nature.”

“You know what I want to know,” Jizmak oozed with a threatening glance at the younger Blothar, who indeed knew but had been intentionally delaying due to scientific curiosity at the alien landscape.

“Yes, Mir. The surface has significant stores of pure unobtanium. Curiously, the significant underground stores of the resource have been evaporating into the atmosphere.”

“Directly from underground? Why now?”

“That is part of what we are unsure of. We think it has something to do with the heavy geographic activities. In fact, we’ve found that in areas with the densest activity, the subterranean unobtanium is subliming the quickest. Perhaps some kind of underground pressure vents are responsible for the activity as a means of releasing undetected tectonic stress. It certainly justifies more investigation--”

A grunt from the flabbier superior cut Blothar short. “Massive stores of unobtanium in the atmosphere? And it is rising from beneath the surface of its own accord in an increasingly rapid rate? This is perfect. If we set up mines at the largest of these geological events we could establish a hoard of unobtanium large enough to undersell the Skumites within two cycles!”

“Mir, I really think we should seek to understand--”

“Blothar, you need to understand. This is more important than your valued scientific inquiry. This is wealth and power!”

The younger, slimmer Martian with a much clearer mucous layer tried to object again but his superior was already dialing the phone.

“King Urungus, the probe results are in. It’s a glim mine of unobtanium. Set course for Earth!”

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