Though Commander Bryant was scared, terrified, actually, he attempted to put on a good face for Shanrankar and Boisvert. Sharankar, loyal as she could be, and wholly devoted to the cause of salvaging a shred of dignity for the humans, was shivering slightly as she guided their shuttle the last few feet. Her east Asian skin, nearly as dark as her thick, straight hair, showed a few goosebumps - "goosed-bumpers", his son would have said. Boisvert, even on his third journey into space, was biting his lip like a nervous high-schooler. His strong shoulders and hard jaw line did little to mask his true feelings. Jordan Bryant, son of Rachelle and Jordan Bryant, husband of Myneka and father to Isaac and Rebecca, gave the last few commands as they bumped up against the hull of the Xelliate transport. An airlock began to attach, and soon Bryant was too busy regulating the pressure differences between the two craft to mourn his family, killed, like eighty percent of the people on the planet, in the first wave of attack, all but Myneka, who, with him, had somehow escaped the gluon bombs because of a trip to Atlantic City. She wept for all of them while he couldn’t. Two Xelli guards met them at the edge of the tunnel. They were unarmed - not like weapons would have done much good. Their thick, blubber-like skin had simply absorbed the dozen or so bullets the last "diplomatic" mission had managed to get off before being overpowered and decapitated. The shortest ones were twelve feet tall, and every single one of them was furious, ready to squash any human they could find within their muscular jaws - plant eaters, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t kill. Though they stood to welcome the three, the guards soon dropped to all fours and padded silently down the hallway; their calloused feet seemed to contain something metallic to act as magnets strong enough to simulate gravity. The humans were not so lucky. In zero-G they had to pull themselves hand over hand through the passageways, straining to keep up as their guards - Executioners, probably, thought Bryant - led the wa! y through the maze of corridors. The only upside was the fact that they, too, had an oxygen-based atmosphere, though at a slightly different concentration, and the diplomats needed no helmets. Neither of his companions said anything, nor did Bryant. Eventually they stopped, and stood beside an open room with three more Xelli inside. Boisvert went first, pulling in and strapping himself to a chair, then Bryant, followed by Shanrankar. Her jittering was done. She gave him a look of resignation, almost like she was sad they’d not already been eliminated. He smiled encouragement, then turned to face their jury. The delegates across from them stared with unblinking eyes, turned towards them from the sides of their heads, like those of a chameleon. The middle one spoke first, in English. "Two days later will be dead all your planet. Slaves to Xelli else. Choose now." Startled, Bryant glanced at Boisvert, who could only look back with confusion. "Wait, what, why?" Bryant stared at the middle one, who, even seated, towered over them. "For Xelli hate you. For all Xelli hate you. For you torture Xelli and destroy Xelli way to life." If an alien voice could be cold, it was. "Wait a minute," Shanrankar said. "We torture you? We didn’t even know you existed until two days ago, you destroyed half our cities, most of our people, right out of the sky, no warning." She met Bryant’s eye, apologetically, but he smiled again. "You humans not know?" It seemed to pause, to think, then leaned forward again. "You humans are Xelli fault to be like now. Xelli hate humans. Humans make Xelli not perfect. Xelli live beautiful. Xelli know Shaddai. The human called Adam," and all three spat on the ground at the name, "cursed us. ‘The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of the corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travalieth in pain together until now.’ That Xelli, groan in pain from humans, wait thousands years to revenging." Shanrankar was confused, but as Bryant looked to Boisvert, he was muttering. "What?" "I said, ‘That’s in the Bible.’ New Testament." He shook his head. "I never thought it wasn’t just about us." The Xelli were looking more agitated, shifting in their seats, conversing in whatever singsong language they used, when the middle one swiped at the one on its left, raking three deep gashes in the other’s throat, then backhanded it and knocked the head off. The body slumped over, bleeding out on the floor. The middle Xellite looked at the three diplomats, and said, "Take. Show what to happen when you not follow Xelli orders as slaves." It then made a motion with its arm / paw / hand, and turned to leave. The two guards came and grabbed the body, leading the three back the way they’d come, trailing black blood. On the shuttle, and smelling the flesh of the Xellite behind them, Boisvert was the first with the suggestion. Though Bryant wasn’t exactly thrilled, Shanrankar soon convinced him it was the only way. "What they don’t know won’t hurt them," she’d said. "I don’t know if I’d want to live in slavery to those," pointing to the floor, and Bryant thought that was probably the truest thing she’d ever said. "Mission Control," he radioed, "Regret to inform that mission has failed. Repeat, diplomatic mission has failed. Requesting permission for Hara-Kiri maneuver, but will not wait for authorization. Repeat, will not wait for authorization." He flipped the communication off before any response, and, with a last glance around, let roll a single tear from his eye. Myneka, I’m sorry, he thought, as they prepared to open the hatch. I hope it’s painless for you.
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