Diego and Thomas sat in the afternoon shade on the other side, packing up the remains of lunch and giving their recording equipment a final once over. The sound man gave his thumbs up sign, and the interviewer started immediately.
"Last time we met, you mentioned that your race was somewhat divided on the issues regarding humans."
"Race? We're not running any where.""You people, the Planetary citizens, the [short whistle]"
"I appre see ate the attempt, but humans can't use our language.""Religious reasons?"
"No, but accor ding to our scientists, it con tains tones you can not hear, so you will never pro nounce correctly""How do you know what tones we can or can't hear?"
"I would guess cutting them apart? Hope fully no one you know.""I hope so too. Diego! Leave the grenade launcher alone!
"Its ok, its ok, just checking to see if I left the "no-dissecting-me-today" switch on?
"If it wanted to hurt us it would have done so already. They're trying to be friendly - the vocorder has been adjusted to less screechy for one."
"Only three nails on a chalkboard rather than five. If it really wants to be friendly, why doesn't it get out of the robot?"
"you're bigger than me"
"What?" Hobbes asked
"You're bigger than me. And there are two of you."
"Just how tall is a planetary citizen?"
"About half your height"
"Gee and with the size of that robot and gun, they must be really compensating for something.." Diego started
"I'm female by the way"
"How did you pick up that meaning? not from cutting people apart I hope?"
There you go Diego, joke with it, er sorry, her. Though we should probably move back into our planned topic. Is it common for females to pilot these things?"
"Families and guilds divIded, genders not so.""How do you tell a male from a female citizen?"
"It comes naturally, we have been doing it for thousands of years""I meant how can a human tell?"
"Number of antenna segMEnts, tail flared or strAIght, slight color difference, shape of genital slots"[I didn't need to know that last one whispered Diego." Nor I Hobbes added]
"There is that clans and guilds again, can you explain any better?
"Like minded extended famIL-ies come together, purchAse expertISE from guilds, become self sufficIEnt, begin to fight with other families. just like humans do.""Are there many of these families on Earth?"
"Representatives from many families, but none abandon home entirely."So what is it like to belong to a family?"
"Families vote on family business, most able in an area represent in larger negotiations... don't humans have families?"
"Not as a basis of political representation, not in most places at least."
"Are humans politics very complex?"That would be the understatement of the year."
"And you expect ours to be any diffERent?""Would the fact that there is roughly a even split between the chances of a Citizen helping, hurting, or ignoring a human be due to these politics?"
"Yes. And Religion. And VengeANce...""The other great understatement of the year - our first contact and greeting did not go too well. Perhaps you can tell us where you were during that even?"
"I was... "F--K!"
The incbus sprang to its feet, grabbed the laser cannon, and bolted north It had gotten almost 20 meters before it paused and turned around. "Sorry to cut this short, but I am needed" It then turned and continued sprinting away.
"How did that word make it into the translator's dictionary?"
"I don't know, Diego, but I'm sure it will make for a good story in the next interview."