Not thinking. Processing. Darrian thought to himself as if that distinction meant something.
His gaze drifted back to the blank space where the hologram of the altered human had been before finally speaking.
"Not that." he said with surprising softness in his tone.
"Then what?" Ferris demanded, not nearly as harsh or aggressively as Illiquina before him, but plenty firm.
The robot continued to look past the ambassadors as if he was seeing the images stilling playing out before him.
"I'm not sure." he uttered quietly. "When I had originally considered the idea of the humans and Guillae interacting, I was deeply excited. I hadn't heard or remembered a water-based lifeform like humans interacting with the Guillae on a close personal level."
Darrian felt a twinge of surprise.
Remembered? Shouldn't all of that information be stored? Flawless and infallible?
"But with the Guillae's constant thirst for water...the way they absorb it, use it, and change it into something great and beautiful even if it's parasitic in nature..." the old judge continued. "I suppose I expected something a bit more elegant."
"Symbiotic, perhaps." he said with an expression somewhere between sad smile and a frown of regret.
A surprising emotional response for an automaton.
"Why would you expect that, judge?" A'alan't 32 asked, her tone matching the softness in his.
"I-I don't know." he responded, finally looking away from the blank air above the holographic imager to match gazes with A'alan't 32.
"Strange for a 'bot to not understand." Ferris said in a derisive tone.
"Enough." Ugul warned.
"No. He's right." the old judge said quickly. "Upon closer examination, I'm confused by my own calculations."
"What do you mean?" Darrian asked.
"My belief was garnered from a preconceived consideration that the Guillae were a relatively peaceful species that were generally beneficial while unintentionally damaging." the old judge said with a glance towards Darrian.
A'alant 32 and Darrian traded glances. They both looked surprised as, for the first time, this information sounded the same as to what A'alan't 32 had shared with him.
"That flies in the face of everything you've ever told us about them." Ugul noted.
The old judge's expression seemed to darken and go blank. Only his eyes twitched and shuddered. It was as if he were recollecting. Considering.
"You're not wrong." he said after a few moments of silence.
They looked around the table at each other. A'alan't 32 in particular looked surprised, if not distressed, and her full attention was on the old robot.
"Ambassadors." the old judge said in a notably louder, more determined tone. "I must apologize to all of you. In my haste and excitement, my miscalculations may have lead to the death or worse of those humans. I may finally be reaching my termination date."
Darrian sat back surprised at the blunt straightforwardness.
"Why would you think that, judge?" A'alan't 32 questioned.
"It's quite clear that I am missing previous variables. My thought process has produced faulty considerations regarding a clearly hostile race and my preconceived notions that something beneficial would occur has lead to deaths."
"Sir. You've never given us the idea that the Guillae were anything but hostile." Darrian stated with as much control as he could muster in his voice. "Why would you have ever thought otherwise?"
"More than that." A'alan't 32 quickly added. "You had no hand in the humans finding the Guillae body. Our single goal has been to research while maintaining the quarantine. Why would you think it was somehow your fault that the humans died?"
One again, the judge seemed to stand still for a very long time. Thinking. Considering. Deciding.
Finally, after an extended period of building silence, just as Darrian was considering to check if the robot had completely malfunctioned, the old judge responded.
"Insufficient Data." the old judge said in the most robotic voice he had ever heard from the unit.
The council just stared in shock.
"My apologies." the old judge quickly added, regaining his normal tone. "Ambassadors. You must excuse me."
He quickly began making his way towards the door before stopping briefly.
"If you contact the Merrenian embassy, they may be able to acquire another intermediary on short notice. It would seem I must deal with whatever-Well. Whatever this is." he said apologetically.
Before anyone could think of something to say, he was gone, leaving them sitting alone in an empty conference room wondering what had just happened.
Start at the Beginning
(Hello Lovelies. Hopefully I'm not saying too early, but 'there we go...getting back on track'. I also wanted to take a moment and say Thank you. I legitimately appreciate the kindness and well-wishing. While I wasn't looking for it, it certainly makes me feel warm inside and is comforting. Thank you.)