The song of the cricket echoed as if a being had opened the lid to a box containing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, snapped it shut, and reopened it, repeating this pattern with the air of one suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Hopping onto a golden surface, a lonely cricket decided to join in the song. It rubbed together its forewings, tuning them for the proper pitch before joining in around measure 182. It missed the key change, crescendoing on anyway to a shrill volume that rose above the harmony. It was so lost in the music that it failed to notice the dark fist hovering over it. After a frenzy of high-pitched notes, the song concluded, and the cricket—now a crunchy puddle of exoskeleton, innards, and fluids—stained the golden armrest.

A pair of green eyes squinted down a pair of tubes, ignoring the state of the armrest and focusing instead on a small, blue-green planet.