Darrian stared aghast at what he had just seen.
"Wh-what was that?" he stammered, his eyes transfixed on the hologram.
"Was that a Guillae?" Ugul quickly added, sounded just as shocked.
Everyone looked to the old judge. However the old judge seemed just as transfixed on the near-silent hologram.
In the image of the overgrown laboratory, there were still a few little green and brown specks floating harmlessly in the air. The quickly deflating plant cocoon could be seen wilting near the edge of the image. In the distance, the audio could barely pick out the sound of scattered screams and occasional bangs.
Those were quickly silenced.
After a drawn out moment of watching the dust settle in the hologram, Illiquina spoke up.
"Judge." she said in a soft yet demanding tone. "Answer him."
"No." he said shortly before glancing at Ugul. "That was not a Guillae."
"Then what the hell was it?" Ferris asked with more composure than Darrian thought he could muster at the moment.
Once again the old judge did not respond. Instead, he glanced from Ferris to Ugul to Illiquina and finally back to the derelict image.
"I don't know." he said after another eternity of shocked silence.
Reaching down, he picked up his datapad and began typing something. The entire conference table watched as his fingers flew over the screen in a flurry of speed. In the quiet, the tapping sounded as deafening as if he were pounding on a table.
A moment later, the hologram flickered out of existence and he set the datapad down.
"I've informed Harris and his team to investigate the incident further." he said quietly. "I've also insisted they use utmost caution to avoid those things."
"They were human..." Darrian said aloud as the thought pervaded his mind. "Those things...they used to be human.
"It certainly seems like that would be the case." the old judge agreed.
"But how?" Illiquina asked quietly.
The old judge could only shrug in response.
Darrian found himself glancing at A'alan't 32, the only one in their little group that had an intact archive regarding the floramorphs. Illiquina and Ferris were both doing the same. A'alan't 32 was simply shaking her head.
She doesn't know either. he thought.
They were in uncharted waters.
However, Illiquina either mistook that idea or couldn't accept it as a possibility. In an instant, Darrian saw her dismay and horror turn to unfettered rage.
Rage that was directed towards the old judge.
"You knew this would happen, didn't you?" she growled.
Several heads around the table stared at her in surprise. The old judge being one of them.
"Come again?" he asked, the shock plain on his robotic features.
"YOU KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!" Illiquina bellowed; a surprising sound from her small frame. "DIDN'T YOU?!"
The old judge stood, looking utterly incredulous as he tilted his head. Some of the other ambassadors were backing up a bit from the table. Some look shocked. Other confused. Only A'alan't 32 looked almost embarrased.
Or was it annoyance?
"Why would you think that?" the old judge asked, sounding almost offended.
"Oh please!" Illiquina snapped. "You kept going on and on about how this would be some kind of an important experiment. How we needed to use the time we had to study what we could. You knew!"
"Of course I didn't." the old judge defended himself. "If I realized it would create..."
The old judge stared at the empty space where the hologram had been for a brief second before continuing.
"Whatever that was, then maybe I'd have had the analytics team get involved."
"Sure." Illiquina grumbled. "To plant more cameras maybe."
If the old judge had looked offended earlier, now he looked outright angry.
"What are you trying to imply, ambassador?"
Illiquina barked a fake laugh.
"I'll actually don't know. I don't know anything about you OR the Guillae. That's actually the problem!"
A'alan't 32 looked up in shock and surprise; as did Ferris and Darrian. While it wasn't unlawful to yell at a robot, Illiquina's hacking into the archive code certainly had been.
"Tell me, 'bot." she said with utter disrespect. "Why don't you tell me why it is that your file-"
"Enough!" A'alan't 32 yelled as she shot out of her spot. "Sit. Down. Illiquina."
Illiquina's wrath turned towards A'alan't 32. For the briefest moment she looked as though she might start shouting at her too. But, as she glared at the Bivvie, a flicker of realization crossed the little Cadrax's face.
She let out an angry yell and, with nothing further, stormed out of the conference room.
"Keep this up." Ferris muttered under his breath. "And we're not gonna have much of a council left."
"Guess it won't matter soon anyway." Ugul regarded back quietly.
A'alan't 32 shot them threatening glances before turning her attention towards the old judge.
"My apologies for her disrespect, judge."
"It's not your place to apologize for another species' ambassador." he said, clearly collecting himself.
"Of course not." she agreed. "But you must be able to see where she's coming from can you not?"
A'alan't 32 glanced around the table at the worried and shocked faces of the other ambassadors.
"It all seems a bit suspicious. First your enthusiasm and now...this."
"I suppose it is." he agreed quietly.
"So tell us judge." Ferris said, speaking up. "What is it that you did expect?"