"Sounds Armenian", I reply.
Ever since the (officially labelled and acknowledged by NATO), Teuthid Intervention in Stopping the Texan Mechanicule Infestation Designed to Turn All of Us Alterrans into Mind-Controlled Zombies, when the kraken had trashed Sam's Pub, I been banished to the newly constructed Alien Quarantine section of the bar. This section - filled with cheap, shoddy, mostly secondhand and easily replaceable furnishings - was housed in 4 inch thick bulletproof plexiglass, and had a pass-thru security door for delivering drinks from the bar.
As Sam, owner of Sam's Pub, put it to me: "You want to drink here? Then you're staying in there with all your giant fucking furry goddamn octopus monsters and that giant fucking robot of yours!"
"He's.. he's not mine" I protested weakly. He was referring to Edward Hopper, the twelve-foot-tall anthropomorphic living machine representative of The Empire of Texas, who, after above mentioned incident, had made himself scarce, no doubt licking his wounds.
"You're all gonna fucking stay in there away from my regulars, where they can be safe and that's that!"
A kraken had already drawn a cartoon penis-shaped doodle into the impenetrable plexiglass while we were talking. This is what comes from one billion years crafting and honing a sense of humor.
And so it is with the Kraken, hard to take anything they say seriously, seeing as it might just be a whimsy wrapped in a jest hidden inside a prank. Still, the one across from me, sipping on an ale through a krazy loopy straw and idly scratching sawdust into the air with its talons, seemed serious enough.
The kraken eyed me, mulling my comment, then said, "Probably close enough".
"Okay, I sigh, "I give. Who are the Phobogians?"
"Not whom, but what. The Phobogians was the legal entity in charge of Refreshments for the Illustrious Jubilation, and they were, in fact located, in Permian Gondwana proximate to what has since been named Armenia, so, again, probably close enough".
"Alright, wait. The Permian? 250 million years ago Permian?"
"Gorgon shit. That's what they would have said. Actually they didn't speak. They were olfactory mediated telepaths, so it would have been... spiral/spiral/penis-doodle".
"...Okay. Who is they?" I asked, trying sarcastically mimic the archness of the word.
|"Hey, how ya doin'?|
"The first sapient species on your planet, if you don't count the Vaster-Than-Empires-And-More-Slow global bacterial mat. Bipedal. Basically kangaroo rat-dogs. Closest relation in the fossil record would be Theriognathus microps. Killed themselves off in the late Changsingian Age of the latest Permian".
"That would be the Permian Extinction?"
"The Great Dying?"
"I was told yours was a touch faster than most ape brains. Perhaps I was misinformed".
"Ha. ha. They were sapient? Like us? Had technology? Successful eusocial species? Where are the fossils? And how do you know about them? You said you hadn't visited Earth until a few million years ago".
"You, a trained peranoscopist, should know better than to ask that last question".
Well, he had me there. A proper viewing of anything through a peranoscope is a proper viewing of everything, regardless of where or when it is/was. Still, I'm having a problem with that kraken sense of humor. It may be pulling my leg, and I'm stifling the cringe of anticipation when that runny snot cloud that is their substitute for laughter hits me in the face once the kraken figures I've fallen for its tall tale. But I'm getting nothing but earnestness and solemnity from the thing. It waggles the end of a tentacular limb for another beer.
"Eusocial. Technologically advanced, but not in the way you think. They were manipulators of life. Other creatures were their tools. Individually, not very bright, but in sufficient numbers, quite formidable intellects. And they numbered in the tens of billions. Witness their control of plate tectonics. The Siberian Traps? Magma upwellings? Mantel hotspots? Their idea."
"Wait. Fossils. You said there tens of billions-"
"I need to explain the fossil record? Can I help it if you people are poor diggers?"
I shrugged, and forged ahead. "So, what is this about the Illustrious Jubilation?"
"You'll be wanting to get that beer that's up for me".
I went to the bar and got his ale, turned and looked very closely at his posture, the glint of the eyes, the disposition of the limbs, the timing and writhing of the vagina dentata lips. This was one sincere kraken. All signs said he was being honest with me.
"The kangaroo rat-dogs were artists on a planetary scale. They little else to do, having satisfied all of their material wants and needs. The Bogosians had been contracted to supply refreshments for the big celebration marking the completion of their most ambitious art form to date - the volcano choreography known to you as the Siberian Traps. Ice was required for drinks. Gigatons of it. As you may or may not know, the only ice available was methane hydrates, buried off the coasts of Gondwana. Methane ice, by the way, the kangaroo rat-dogs found delicious in a way you couldn't appreciate. So, I don't know something went pear-shaped, and all of the ice got loose. Next thing you know, hazy green skies, purple bacteria pumping hydrogen sulfide, carbon cycle shut down, Strangelove oceans, runaway greenhouse. Get the picture?"
"Yeah I get, a delivery problem. Always comes down logistics".
The kraken raised his glass in recognition.
"So, one last question. Weren't they our indirect mammalian ancestors? How come we aren't.. olfactory mediated telepaths?"
"Quite simple. You haven't the nose hairs for it!"