"And as demonstrated here," An image of a protest flashes on the screen. "Racial inequality is still prevalent on Earth, despite hundreds of years of discrimination. It is in human nature to divide. Between race, sex, nationality. Hopefully, we will be able to amend this behavior once we arrive on Earth."
"I don't see why we just can't exterminate them right now." Catherine Goode rolls her eyes next to him, and Dr. Rachel Cameron reddens.
"The answer to everything is not destruction, Catherine." Rachel whispers, turning off her presentation.
"And besides, there are things we can learn from the humans." Abby Cameron ties up her hair easily.
"Like pollution and global warming?" Dr. Edward Townsend suggests blandly.
"I was going to say 'water parks', but..."
"This is besides the point." Joseph Solomon protests, and Rachel gives a nod of thanks.
"The human race is very different from ours, and from my research, easily offended. We must be careful when we arrive." Rachel concludes, and turns off the screen with a flick of the wrist.
"So, you and the Doctor Cameron." Catherine slides her chair next to him. "It was quite obvious that you two were eye fucking during her entire idiotic presentation."
"What the hell is 'eye fucking'?" Joe shuffles his papers around.
"Come on, Joe - did you learn nothing about human slang?"
"Her presentation was not idiotic, Catherine." Joe sighs, looking up at her.
"By the time we get back home, you better be sleeping together, or I'll have to intervene." She shakes her head, rising to her feet.
"Off to find Dr. Townsend?" Joe smirks.
"He and Abigail are the only fun ones on this ship."
"Funny, I never associate a biologist with the word 'fun'."
"Shut up and go find Rachel, Joe." Catherine rolls her eyes, boots clacking on the floor as she walks away, disappearing down the hall towards the bedrooms.
See, it turns out Earth is a pretty fucking awful place; the laughing stock of the universe, millenium behind other 'civilized' planets. Finally, during the 176th Intergalactic Convention, the universe decided something had to be done; Earth was not going to tarnish their representation any further. So, the planet of Avalon volunteered to create a team of professionals and send them to Earth, analyze the humans and their environment, and determine whether or not they were worthy of survival.
And somehow, Avalon had chosen the six most unlikely people to lead the aforementioned expedition. Doctor Rachel Cameron, the adorkable sociologist set on learning about human customs and society. Doctor Edward Townsend, the no-nonsense biologist studying the evolutionary patterns of humans and why they turned out so ridiculously stupid. Abigail Cameron, from the Department of Public Welfare, sent to determine if there was anything Avalon could actually adopt from the humans. Matthew Morgan, the lovable representive from the Department of Education. That left Catherine Goode and Joe Solomon, from the Department of Defense; representing the Intelligence Division and the War Division, respectively.
So, they downloaded some human movies from the Pirate Bay, got their hands on a few apparently classic human books, and set out on a two week trip across the universe. And so far, it just consisted of all six of them arguing about whether or not to bother with an actual analysis, or to just incinerate the planet now.
"Earth is so different from Avalon." Rachel whispers as he joins her, looking out of one of the windows, watching the universe zip by; planets and comets not known to humans, exotic and fantastic worlds right out of a story book. "Can you imagine a blue sky, Joe? Green grass? A world with so many different cultures, different environments?"
See, Avalon was hardly the pinnacle of diversity. Everyone was exactly the same; the same language, the same customs, the same coloring. The sky in Avalon was red - the grass, a ghostly white. The planet was covered in these white, white fields, the land dotted with the occasional turquoise lakes and sprawling, steel cities with towers the reached into the clouds. There was no such thing as countries, as counties or states - everyone was Avalonian, and everything was run by the Avalonic government.
"You are excited to go then?" Joe responds quietly.
"Edward and Catherine are dead set on destroying the place, and so are most of the people in the universe, but..." Rachel shook her head, their faces floating high above the stars on the glass. "These humans have the sensibilities of a child; they are children, and who are we to kill children? While they may be ignorant, they are generally good-hearted. They are not a threat."
"Some say they are." He argues, fingers brushing the glass.
"We are Avalonians - the greatest of the civilized planets, and we must remember that there is something to be learned from everyone."
He glances sidelong at her, at her dark blue eyes and long dark hair and tortoiseshell glasses, and his heart sort of squeezes in his chest, constricting with his lungs and he really, really wants to say something, but he can't.
He is pretty sure everyone, including Rachel, has noticed that he has been in love with her for years. Her voice, her smile, the way she bites her lip when she blushes.
Well, everyone knows he's in love with her except for Matthew Morgan, his best friend.
(If Joe wants to think about it, some part of him says that he knew Rachel first, saw her first, but Matt is his best friend and he can't do that to him and besides, it is quite obvious that Rachel is in love with Matt, so. There's that)
"When we get to Earth, Matthew and I want to go to Africa, to see where the human civilization truly began." Rachel grins, and Joe just stands there in pained silence. "Do you remember reading about the humans in our school textbooks?"
"With Mr. Hastings, yes. That vile man." Joe laughs, and Rachel grins.
"He used to make us recite all of the planets in the Intergalactic Convention if we did anything wrong." Rachel reminds him, her laughter dying down. "We have come so far since then, haven't we, Joe?"
No, he wants to say. No, I am just as much in love with you as I was when I was thirteen, and you know and feel bad for me, I can see it in your eyes; they glisten with pity because you can never love me, will never love me when you have Matt.
"Yes," He lies, the stars blinking all around them.
"Matt has asked me to marry him, once we go back to Avalon." She turns to face him, arms wrapped around herself.
"I know." He chokes on the words.
"And I know this upsets you." She gulps, and he freezes. "And I am so sorry, Joe."
"You love Matt." He says simply, not even looking at her.
"You love him, too." She replies, placing a hand on his shoulder and he is certain she can feel his heart beat faster. "And he does not deserve to be hurt in this way."
"No." He agrees, and her hand drifts down his arm, an oddly human gesture, as she steps closer to him.
"You must know," She whispers, her hand on his cheek, angling his eyes to meet hers. "That I have always, always loved you. But I love Matt, too. We love Matt, too, and he loves us."
"He would be happy for us." Joe weakly proclaims, but the thought is sickening in his mind and forms a pit in his stomach.
"Please don't, Joe." She insists tiredly, face pressing into his shoulder. "Please don't."
"I will not be the one to ruin your happiness." He confirms, and she takes a deep breath before stepping away, long steps backwards and away from him.
"Oh, Joe." She shakes her head sadly, eyes filled with tears. "You could never do that.
She is the most human of them all.