Thursday, November 3, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 16

    After the meeting adjourned, Darrian found himself unwilling to return to his office. Everything had happened so fast. Was happening so fast. It felt like every time he rounded a bend, something else was already there waiting for him. 
    He just wanted time to recuperate. Needed it.
    Now, watching his fellow council members collect their things, he couldn't help but wonder how many of them felt the same as he did. A few of them wore anguished expressions. Even more seemed to walk with a heavy weight on them.
    All except Cagool, Darrian thought as he watched the slimy Yool slide out the door.
    His gaze drifted down to his datapad where the last reports were still open. Little more had been revealed regarding the Guillae. Despite the old judge's rather cryptic comment, he had no more to say on the creatures that Darrian had no real knowledge of. 
    Despite their best efforts, the councilors' willingness to participate further in the meeting quickly dwindled. While they attempted to review a number of other minor bits of information from the analytics team, their efforts fell flat. Their minds were all too preoccupied with questions.
    Too many questions with no definitive answers.
    "Are you okay?" asked A'alan't 32.
    Darrian looked up and then quickly around the room, only to realize that they were that A'alan't 32 was the only other one in the room. Everyone else, even the old judge, had gone.
    Glancing back at her, he hesitated before responding. Instead, his gaze drift down to her body. It never really struck him before, but she seemed so...odd. Her form seemed to phase in and out in place. Like, for just a minute, she would be solid. Then, just as quickly, she might have well have been a hologram. Little more than floating blue and grey energy.
    Even more strange, A'alan't 32 always seemed to be different with each flicker of light. One minute she might be child sized. The next: an old woman. Most times she seemed notably female. Other times, he caught a glimmer of a very powerful male form.
    This was, of course, the norm for any Bivvie; their species being what it was. But, in that moment, sitting in the empty meeting room with only her. It struck him as almost disturbing.
    Alien, he thought to himself.
    "Yes." he said, shaking off the antagonistic thoughts about his fellow councilor. "It's just everything that's happened recently."
    "I understand." she said reassuringly.
     Neither said more for several long moments. The silence drew out as they stared at each other from across the table.
    "What do we do?" he finally asked.
    "There's not much we can do." she reiterated the plain truth that was often mentioned whenever that question was brought up in meetings.
    "I know. It's just..."
    "You feel helpless."
    Darrian nodded his agreement.
    "Tell me." she said. "Is it everything that's happened or is it something in particular?"
    "I'm curious. You've always seemed relatively solid. Stable. You have your opinions yet listen to others. You live with caution, yet are fueled by compassion. A perfect example of the Merrenian way."
    Darrian said nothing, but her words made his guts feel rotten. Maybe it was just because Merrenians always strove to be better and 'perfect' was more of a backhanded insult than it was a compliment for them. Or maybe it was because he remember the bigoted thoughts he had of her just moments before.
    "Thanks?" he said shakily.
    "Yet today." she continued. "Here you sit. Crestfallen. Dejected. Depressed."
    "I'm not depressed." he retorted quickly.
    "But you are quick to snap." she observed. "Do not negate your own feelings. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
    He opened his mouth to respond, but quickly swallow his words.
    "I understand." she said again with the softness of a mother calming her litter. "But I must ask again: Is it something specific that got under your skin today?"
    Darrian looked up from his datapad and stared at her for a long moment. Her expression seemed kind but calculating. Reassuring yet unwavering in her curiosity. He replayed the events of the last few meetings over in his head. Considering if there had been something specific.
    And it all came back to the same thought.
    "The Guillae." he said quietly.
    "What about them?"
    "The old judge told us how these things seem to consume all water they find...use it to make their plants. Use it to replicate themselves..." said Darrian with more remorse in his voice than he had expected. "The humans rely heavily on water. Hell. Their BODIES are mostly water. We don't know what the Guillae are going to do to them."
    "True." she agreed. "But all in all, I don't believe the introduce of the Guillae will prove hazardous to the humans."
    This came as a shock to Darrian.
    "Why?" he blurted out.
    "To be candid, I've been researching the Guillae ever since they were first mentioned." she said with a hint of a smile. "And I'm pretty sure they will be working to the humans' benefit and not their downfall."


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  1. Well, that's certainly reassuring that it won't be hazardous to humans!

  2. You really are a master at maintaining tension...

    1. It's one of those weird skills that I have no idea where I picked up. haha

      That said, I'm glad you continue to enjoy. :)

  3. Hi Robert - certain Darrian's common sense will prevail ... but he has to overcome the strange ideas he is receiving as this story unfolds ... fascinating - cheers Hilary

  4. The humans will do more good? We can only hope.

  5. Good than harm is a twist, usually the other way around. Wouldn't hold my breath on humans doing it though lol

  6. Oh now there's a good twist. And it figures that the people in charge would tell others lies about other species. Doesn't surprise me at all.

  7. Hm... now I'm curious what that could really mean...

  8. Wait. I'm confused.
    "And I'm pretty sure they will be doing more good than harm."<--who's doing more good than harm?

    1. The Guillae. I actually reread that bit and concluded it definitely needed immediate editing. Here is the updated line.

      "To be candid, I've been researching the Guillae ever since they were first mentioned." she said with a hint of a smile. "And I'm pretty sure they will be working to the human's benefit and not their downfall."

  9. Human can sure be slot to react sometimes, so we'll see.

  10. Obviously I have come halfway through your story. I enjoyed it still. Now, I shall go back to previous chapters.

    Greetings from London.