"Just that." A'alan't 32 stated. "The Guillae aren't some conquering race. They're little more than sentient plants. Their goal is to grow, not destroy."
Darrian stared at her in disbelief, trying to put together what little that he'd heard before. He realized that this was next to nothing, with the exception that they tended to destroy any planet they inhabited for an extended period of time.
That's when the question occurred to him.
"Wait. How do you even know this?"
"As I said," A'alan't 32 responded with that cautionary tone of annoyance he'd heard before. "I've been researching them since they were first mentioned."
Darrian considered the silence he'd received from the old judge. The blank archive entries he'd found when he'd gone to investigate. The security clearance required when he asked about the hard copies of data.
"I gave up looking after the first cycle." he admitted. "Where'd you find this supposed research?"
Her expression softened and she appeared bemused.
"I think you forget that I'm not bound to Consortium resources. My species was old when the Merrenians were first crawling about in the dirt. Long before you ever discovered robotics and even longer before you founded the little council we hold now."
Ignoring what felt like an unnecessary jab at his species, Darrian asked, "So this is Bivvie knowledge then? Local archives or something?"
A'alan't 32 nodded softly in agreement.
"We've been studying the cosmos for a very long time." she said with a tone that showed there was no condescension; she was stating a cold, hard fact.
Darrian studied her for a moment, choosing his words. He'd wondered about this creatures since they were first mentioned and here was a possible wellspring of knowledge. Yet...
"Why didn't you bring this up earlier? When the old judge refused to answer."
"For the same reason." she said. "If the old judge did not want to answer any questions, then I would imagine he wouldn't much like it if I shared what I knew."
A bad feeling tugged at the back of his mind. The Consortium's purpose was knowledge. Review. Understanding. Why would they not want knowledge shared? The Bivvie almost never shared their hidden knowledge, so the fact that they would share something sooner than the Consortium was even stranger.
"Fine." he said, feeling like she wouldn't give him anymore of an answer if he tried to dig. "You said that you think the Guillae might work to the humans' benefit. Why?"
A'alan't 32 drifted around the large meeting table and settled by his side. At this distance, he could see little crackles of blue energy that seemed to bubble beneath her semi-transparent skin.
"Well," she began, "as a whole they don't really seem to intend harm to anyone. At least, no anyone who hasn't directly harmed them first."
"But they destroy planets?"
"Strictly speaking. The Guillae are some confused cross between symbiotic and parasitic, in nature. The atmospheric disturbances and depressurization are a byproduct of their existence. It's not intentional."
"Do you remember the hologram of Mars? Back when the Guillae inhabited it?"
Darrian thought back to the image. To the blue, brown, and green orb that turned into a brilliant, emerald sphere before his eyes.
"I know it turned green." he said with a nod.
"The Guillae expand. It's in their nature. They build and they grow, but not in the same way most civilized races do. They have a love of living things."
"Are you suggesting that..."
"I'm suggesting that, unlike most other races, they have a disinterest in trading soil for metal." she said sharply, cutting him off.
Darrian stared at her quietly. At her blue, fluttering form. How she seemed to be there and not at the same time.
He'd heard before that the Bivvie hadn't looked this way long ago, but rather had made themselves this way over eons of technological advancements. Pushing themselves to see how far they could go. Pushed so hard that they seemed to exist almost as an energy form more than a being of life and blood.
"The Guillae..." she said with a sigh, "They tend to help those around them. They help them flourish. They've even been responsible for some sentient races escaping their planets long before the destruction of their atmosphere."
"So, if the humans resurrect the dead Guillae...Ressurect? Is that right?"
"Birth more might be more appropriate."
It didn't feel like it, but he wasn't going to argue.
"If they manage to birth more Guillae, you think they might help the humans then? Somehow?"
"It seems likely based on what I've seen about the species."
Darrian felt a weight start to lift off his chest. There was still the threat of the Tulgucks en route. Yet, the idea that the humans weren't going to wake some kind of monster was reassuring.
"The only thing is..." A'alan't32 said quietly.
A'alan't 32 remained quiet for a moment, seemingly staring through him. He got the sense that she was struggling with whether or not to tell him something.
"Well, you already figured out that they feed off of water." she said.
"Correct. It's why they target water heavy planets. Right?"
"Well, the humans have an oddly high water content. Anything from fifty to seventy five percent." she said thoughtfully.
"You think they will attack the humans then?" Darrian asked quickly, feeling panic swell again.
"No. No." she said quickly, shaking her head. "Not attack."
Once again, she simply to stare through him. Thinking. Debating.
"It's nothing." A'alan't 32 finally said with that same reassuring tone from earlier. "I'm just overthinking things."
Standing from her place at the table, she gave him another little smile before making her way for the door.
"Have a good evening, Darrian."
"And you, A'alan't 32."
He watched her go, but didn't move. He couldn't help but feel she'd intentionally cut him off. Like she knew something that she had thought better of to share. If the Guillae wouldn't attack the humans, what would there to be worry about?
This could prove to be an exciting learning opportunity. The old judge's words echoed in his mind as he made his way for the door and back towards his office.
Start at the Beginning