The leading edge of the wave that was the blob broke against the wall behind which was the room sheltering me. I was still looking at the scene from the view the team provided me, above and outside. Not sure how the team was doing it. Did they send a contingent, configured as a drone, just to provide me a suitable view? Not likely. More likely, they’d assembled a perspective they thought I could deal with from the mass of data millions of units provided, even though none of them actually held that perspective. They’re trying to tell me the truth through a visual story that’s technically a lie. The team probably doesn’t see it that way. Yet another philosophical discussion for later.
Suddenly, I was dropped back into my own head, and found myself in darkness, curled up against a wall behind the barrier the team had thrown up. I felt a shock through the barrier, a rumble through the floor and heard a swirling sound, like sand and water tossed by a big wave.
Some finger of the wave that had been the alien blob had entered the hole and filled the room. After a moment, I could hear the motion calm, then a sound like the sea withdrawing from the beach. After a few seconds of silence, the team disassembled the barrier. I was able to stand and walk back to the opening outside.
Twilight had come. In the gloam I could see faint blue light forming ribbons which weaved their way slowly toward me. The vast floor of the ruins was buried under what looked like sickly yellow sand. Dim blue dots were scattered across the dune. Some moved to join the ribbons, but some blinked out.
The river of blue stopped about 10 meters from me, and formed itself into a mass about the size of a jet pack. After a minute more, no more ribbons formed. Any blue lights remaining on the dune blinked out.
The darkness defeated my unaided eyes. The visor enhanced the failing light. The team, or whatever part of it made up that meter-tall mass, faded from blue into gray.
“We apologize, Commander.”
“When we tried to communicate with the aliens, we could not make them understand why we needed to live.”
“So – you’re sorry you killed them?” Man, in 6 months of training, we never got this deep. I was hoping the team was OK, just having a little moment.
“We didn’t kill them.”
I spread my arms, gesturing at the massive pile of yellow sand. I shrugged, and gestured again, palms to the sky.
And froze. A faint yellow glow lit the middle of the pile. As I watched, yellow threads arose from the sand, intertwined, and formed a shape. A human shape. A familiar human shape.
“We are sorry. We had to tell them about you.”