Despite being mid autopsy, no one could be seen attending to the body.
"What do you think is happening?" asked Ferris quietly.
Darrian glanced over at him, shook his head, and gave a non-committal shrug before returning his attention to the nearly still image. If it weren't for the blinking lights of a nearby computer console, he'd have thought that the holographic imager had frozen.
When the Guillae had been taken to the laboratory, the analytics team had acted with surprising fervor. Through some skillful infiltration of the humans' technology, the team had managed to gain control of a camera on one of the personal computers within the lab. All before the first incision had been made.
It had been very risky, but none of the humans had noticed. They were too preoccupied with the discovery of life outside of their own.
At first, the lab had been a hive of activity. At least four humans in full protective gear were seen working on the body at any given time. Another dozen could be seen behind the protective interference of a viewfinder that overlooked the operating table. For hours, the council watched and waited.
The human scientists worked diligently. They slowly began to dissect the long dead Guillae which, to Darrian's surprise, was incredibly well preserved. His guess was that it probably related to the atmosphere of Mars.
Piece by piece, they would make an incision and investigate what they found. Countless samples were removed. Notes were taken vocally to the computer system as well as by two other humans, one inside and one outside of the lab. They had catalogued at least a hundred or so samples when they found what the council had been waiting for.
Darrian knew it was a learned behavior, but it didn't make it anymore shocked when he heard the old judge gasp.
The main scientist slowly and smoothly drew out a long, podlike object from the body of the dead Guillae. It was about a meter long and a half meter wide and reminded him of the samples of "Soy Beans" that the analytics team had sent them from Earth. One of the humans made the same observation but qualified it as being "fuckin' huge". Some of the humans laughed while others chastised him.
Slowly, carefully, one of the scientists took the pod away somewhere off camera. Darrian could hear a door open and close. A moment later, there was a shout from that same direction and all of the humans looked up. Some of them looked confused, others scared at what they saw. Very quickly, all of them disappeared off screen. All of them running towards where the pod had been taken.
That had been at least an hour ago.
The council waited patiently for something to change. They had heard nothing except a clatter of metal about twenty minutes before. Except for that and the blinking lights, the image was seemingly static.
It would seem that Harris felt the same way.
As if on cue, the image of the laboratory and the dead Guillae dissolved. It was replaced by Harris' form. To everyone's surprise, he was lounging with the face plate to his robotic exosuit wide open. He looked utterly exhausted.
"I don't think there's much more to see." he said to the old judge.
"I agree. Update us when you have more, Captain."
Harris gave a nod but said nothing else. They could seem him enter a sequence on his control panel before the holographic image disappeared entirely.
The table sat in silence for another several minutes, digesting what they had seen and what might be happening. No one knew what to say. While they hadn't seen anything "bad" per say, the last images they'd seen of the humans left an uneasy feeling in their guts. Darrian's discussion with A'alan't 32 and the old judge still rang fresh in his mind.
This could be an exciting learning opportunity. he remembered again for the thousandth time.
"Well..." said the old judge with a mechanical sigh. "I don't believe there is anything else that we can cover today. If you would, I would like to reconvene-"
The door of the meeting room slid open as the old judge tried to wrap up the meeting. Many of them didn't bother looking up. They were frankly too tired. It wasn't until the old judge stopped what he was staying and stared at the person who had walked in that Darrian glanced over.
The heavy set, furry Gorderian made his way towards his spot at the council table. The exhaustion and fear in the room quickly gave way to shock and awe as everyone turned their attention to the long-missing ambassador.
For a moment, no one said anything. And then, everyone started speaking at once.
"What did they say?" demanded Ferris.
"Where have you been?!" asked Ugul.
"What took you so long?" chided A'alan't 32.
"Are they going to-" Darrian begin to ask when the old judge bellowed over all of them.
The table fell silent as Jin'thun, looking quite ruffled and annoyed, straightened himself out. The old judge smiled softly.
"I see you've returned." the old judge said quietly. "It's good to have you back."
"Yea. Took you long enough." grumbled Cagool.
Jin'thun jumped from his place and let out a bellowing, threatening roar right in Cagool's face. The slimy little Yool squeaked and looked as if he was attempting to crawl inside himself to get away from the Gorderian's ferocity. He was still quivering when Jin'thun settled back down.
"Thank you, judge." he finally said, giving everyone a threatening look as he did; as if daring them to try his patience further.
"Now," he continued, "I come with the results of your plea to my government."
"And what have the Gorderians decided, Jin'thun?" asked the old judge.
Jin'thun threw Cagool one more threatening glance, however the Yool was still shaking from his last misstep.
"The Gorderians will be sending aid to the humans."
The room let out a collective sigh and Darrian could even hear Ferris let out a quiet "Yes!" under his breath. Everyone looked relieved.
"That's wonderful, Jin'thun. Your government has our sincerest gratitude."
"Yes, of c-"
A loud beeping filled the room as the old judge's datapad began to flash. A priority one message.
Quickly, he tapped the message and the holographic imager once more glew with life. Harris could be seen once again but this time he looked a great deal more frazzled then before.
"Harris?" the old judge asked. "What is it?"
"The Tulgucks." Harris said with barely contained panic. "The Tulgucks are here! They've entered the solar system!"
Next Chapter (Coming Soon!)
Start at the Beginning
(Hello Lovelies. I do hope that you enjoyed the re-write of Chapter 18. As I mentioned before, I have no intent of making this a regular habit (with the exception of when I do my official editing for the book release) but I felt Chapter 18 was a special exception. I hope you are all doing well and enjoyed the slight alteration compared to the first time it came out.)