(One last installment before taking this private-ish, since I’m not getting to anything else…)
The alien me looked at me, his look of surprise no doubt mirroring exactly my own. He soon dropped his eyes and looked at himself, raising and slowly rotating his arms and opening and closing his hands.
“They would not understand.” The team was talking, with an odd note of talking to itself.
Alien me started checking out the equipment, jumping up and down, doing a couple deep knee bends.
“After we infiltrated, we were able to convince the aliens that we were what they consider a similar life form.” Alien me was bending in ways that made me uncomfortable. “They viewed you, however, as raw material.”
Now alien me was stretching and bending in a simply impossible manner. I winced sympathetically at what had to be broken bones. The sort of startled expression never left its face.
“So we had to tell them about you, so they would believe us that you, too, were not a mere resource to be exploited.”
Alien me finally stopped its contortion routine, and returned to a standing posture normal for a human.
I relaxed a little. “It clearly saw me. It saw enough to understand I am intelligent.” I had been under a lot of stress, to put it mildly, and such things should not be possible, but I thought I heard a suppressed guffaw in the team’s voice.
“We have much more information about you, Commander, than that. We had access to all the files collected when Command put you back together physically and mentally before we joined you. We used that information along with our own findings over the previous 6 months to disassemble and reassemble you when you were being destroyed in the tunnel.”
The alien me began to change, elongating to about 3 meters high. Still standing atop the sand dune, the form became what a human would identify as feminine, with long yellow-blonde hair hanging to the ground.
“We had to share that information to keep them from destroying you.”
The new alien form began to repeat the routine, examining herself slowly, rotating her very human like arms and closing and opening her 6-fingered hands.
“So, you convinced them that I am a high enough life form to spare? Thanks. What do we do now? Arrange a cultural exchange?”
There was a note of – sorrow? pity? in the team’s reply. “We made them understand that you were not separable from us, and that we were unwilling to lose you.”
The alien woman was looking at her hands. She slowly brought them up to her face. She began to weep.
“When we disassembled and reassembled you, for a time we became the substrate for your consciousness. We did not mean to intrude, but we had no choice if we were to save you. In some ways, we now know you better than you know yourself.”
The alien woman had fallen to her knees on the sand, hands still over her eyes, still weeping. I could see her body move with each sob.
“We let them feel – our emotions. Your emotions. How you wanted to live, but were willing to die.”
She sat on her heels, her long yellow hair veiling her and swirling about on the sand.
“The aliens understood. They remembered. And they disassembled their form.”
The woman fell to the ground, still wracked by sobs.
“They felt remorse.”