How could I possibly resist a name like Zbpotlatch Tweed? Thank you, Spam Folder ;P
"It looks like a good one, Captain."
The young crewmember excitedly flapped a fuzzy tentacle at the blotch on the screen.
Zbpotlatch Tweed sighed. How did the Council expect him to achieve anything with such a mismatched menagerie for a crew?
Then he suppressed his frustration and peered at the screen. The squid was right. It did look promising. If he could just find a thimble full of banarium, he could return to those pompous cloud creatures in triumph and demand to be returned home. This would be his fifth successful mission and the rule was: if you succeed five times, you're free.
For a moment Zbpotlatch allowed himself to dream of his beautiful planet - its deep blue seas and green continents, the fluffy white clouds, and at night, a sparkling tinsel of lights strung in a spiderweb of cities across the globe. This was as far as he would let himself to see, remembering only his last view of the earth as he was whisked away from it.
He hurriedly returned his attention to the data scrolling across his monitor. It was far too painful to risk contemplating those he had left behind.
Several thousand light years away, the Council of Guldil monitored his progress, their amorphous bodies pulsating green and purple with agitation and anxiety.
"Don't tell me he actually found some?"
"You assured us there was none to be found in that sector."
"How was I to know? Seven hundred candidates have died on that quest so far."
"Of course, he would be the one to succeed."
"How are we going to explain it to him? Sorry, due to a bureaucratic error of judgment, your planet was classified as disposable and has since been vaporised into cosmic dust."
"Couldn't we just..." a wisp of cloud reached from one of the creatures, plucking an insect out of the air and letting its lifeless body fall to the ground.
"If only," another sighed. "But we had to sign that blasted United Galaxies Convention in Species Survival. Otherwise they wouldn't let us continue our expansion. Even if he died accidentally now, you know their inspectors would be all over us, especially since we caused - inadvertently, of course - the extinction of so many other species on that planet. We're just going to have to keep him distracted until he dies of natural causes."
A wry laugh sounded from the rear of the crowd. When attention focussed in that direction, the source of the laughter flushed pink with embarrassment, but encouraged by those around her, she explained, "That might take longer than you think. From what I have found in that planet's archives, he has the potential to outlive all of us."
Speaking over the clamour of confusion that followed, she continued.
"My advice is to tell him the truth. Let him go back to the spot where his planet used to be. With any luck, with his scavenging skills, he will find more of his kind still surviving despite the demolition of his planet. After all, cockroaches are remarkably resilient."