“Seriously, it’s not moving anymore.”
There were now just the two of us on that hill. She wore khaki pants and a black tank top, long hair, and angry eyes. Her entire figure shone in the daylight. At her feet a small machine crackled and shifted. It was too damaged to continue.
I, in comparison, felt fine. I looked at her and said nothing. I usually didn’t speak.
She swore then, looked down at the crippled thing and then at me. “Damnit,” She finally said. The wind gently disturbed her hair. “Damnit.”
For a moment, we shared that space in silence. I had nothing useful to say, so I stared off at the distant trees. There was the barest hint of civilization, hiding behind the tallest branches. Excepting the animals and the insects, we were alone.
“Well?” She said, looking at me. I stared back at her. The machine clattered, then, and pushed itself up on one broken leg.
She looked at it. I could see the barest tears in her eyes. “Poor little guy,” She said. She was silent for another long moment. “Why did you do it?”
What kind of response could I offer? I gave her a shrug. Sometimes that worked.
Not this time. She turned fully to face me, and crossed her arms. She was displeased. “No. Speak. Why did you do it?”
“I couldn’t let it hurt you,” I said.
“Was it going to hurt me?” She challenged. I couldn’t answer that. I didn’t know. “Well?” She prompted.
“There was a probability,” I said, then added, “As it was classified as a non-human, non-living identity, it was considered expendable.”
“Expendable,” She scoffed. “I can’t believe this!” She took a step away, then twirled around. “You have no idea what you have done.”
“I have offended you,” I replied. “But only because I did my job.”
“Damn simpleton,” She spat. “You just botched the first encounter.”
Those words didn’t make any sense. I just stared at her.
“This,” She said, pointing at the machine. “This is not human. We didn’t build this. It didn’t come from us.”
I had noticed this. It was different than the others. It didn’t match with what I already knew. That too factored into my decision. With as mad as she was, was it wise to mention this? The numbers suggested otherwise. I kept silent.
“This was our first encounter with an alien race. This drone, or whatever it was, had come to our little world, and you went ahead and blasted it.”
I continued to wait. She paced around for a moment, then looked at me. “Do you understand? Does this compute?”
“No,” I replied. “Not really.”
She fell to the ground, resting her head in her hands, and screamed. It was loud, but not panicked. It wasn’t scared. It was frustrated. I didn’t have a protocol for that.
“I know that I have hurt you, madame. I apologize for that.”
She ran her fingers through her hair, and stared at the machine, which was still balancing on one limb. At length she sighed.
“Send a message to base camp. The message reads: ‘Unidentified object encountered, suspect alien drone. Drone damaged by bodyguard. Send team to our coordinates.’ Let me know when they’ve responded.”
I sent the message as directed, and then continued to wait. I’m good at waiting.