"They need our help," said the elder pacing back and forth in front of the wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor plasma screen.
At the moment, an image of the blue planet, teeming with life, filled the screen and everyone in the room looked at it, as they had a million times before.
Dark, green, metallic skin fused with organic matter, forming the natural, grotesque beauty that was the best appearance of his race, shaped his body. A soft, blue glow traced the pathways all along his body which looked as though his veins ran along the surface of his skin. Beneath that skin, wires and tissue merged effortlessly and naturally, creating an organically engineered cybernetic organism.
His voice was soft and monotone, reflecting no particular emotion, yet it conveyed a hint of tenderness and compassion. He looked at his apprentice, then looked back at the screen, then at his apprentice, then at the screen once more.
The new images were like a bad trainwreck from which he couldn't look away. For the thousandth time, he watched in disbelief as the fragile, tender race of the lesser gods of Terra destroyed themselves. Scene after scene of war, mass destruction, torture, horrific crimes, all played out before his eyes.
He had so desperately wished he could intervene and stop the atrocities himself, but knowing this race, they would see him as the enemy and direct their hatred accordingly.
"Why can't you just go down there? They'll listen to you. Everyone here on Agron 5 respects you. You have to do something."
His apprentice was a bit more impetuous, as it was with youth.
"Many others have tried that approach. Remember? They crucify their messiahs, yet they keep begging for someone to save them from themselves. A strange paradox, these creatures are. So pitifully weak, needing someone to care for them as a mother hen keeps her young under her wings, yet they kill anyone who gets close.”
"In my opinion, they don't deserve to be saved. Let them destroy themselves," muttered a cantankerous colleague who had twice the years of experience on both of them.
"And then the universe follows suit. They start the chain reaction and, like an infinite black hole, everything else is sucked in on itself. We are the guardians. We are the ones to maintain the balances. The Terran humans are there for a reason. Their annihilation would mean the end of us all."
"There are other universes," grumbled the old one.
The elder turned his attention back to the apprentice at his side.
"Be careful not to become so jaded as that one. It could be the end of us all," the elder winked.
"What's his story?"
"He was one of the ones we sent down a long time ago. He took on an avatar, because he knew how they would receive him directly. But even that didn't work. They still killed him. If left to his own devices, he would return in a vengeance and destroy everything himself. We can't allow that, at least, not until all other options have been exhausted."
"Even then, wouldn't it be better if we just left them to their own devices?"
"Perhaps, but in their ingenuity which drives their madness, they may expand their hatred to the rest of the stars. Others of my line suggested we contain them and allow the planet to sterilize itself from within. But that goes back to the balances. Everyone on Agron 5 hates to admit that the universe needs them."
"Why? Why do we need them? Perhaps the old one is right."
"Well, they aren't all like that. There are those who maintain our image and seek the good. They live for compassion just like you and I. And they need to be protected. All other ways of preserving the best of them have ultimately failed. We gave them government. We gave them law and order, but, left to their own devices, they managed to corrupt even those, and those became yet another weapon at their disposal.
"We then sent the saviors, or the messiahs. They created religions that embraced spiritual thought. But even those they twisted and used them as a part of their infernal machines of death." The elder instructed.
"There is another idea. We can't force them to become more enlightened with law and order. We can't beguile them with religion and thoughts of gods that rule over them. Those devices are becoming obsolete. The only thing we can do now is empower the individual by equipping them with the tools needed to protect themselves, maintaining a safe space long enough for love and compassion to manifest.”
"We could send the Kuri model," said the apprentice.
"That's where my mind was. But even in his current form, he would be considered a threat. Nothing we do can be perceived as oppression. At this stage of their evolution, they have become aware that the old ways of tyranny and oppression rob them of their lives. Unfortunately, anything else is unknown, and these creatures are scared of the unknown."
“But we want to continue to lead them past all that. So, we will send Kuri as a servant. If they realize that we serve them instead of telling them how to live and ruling it over them, they may be more receptive and there might be a chance, after all."
"So you want to make Kuri, our best intel bot, look cute and clean toilets?" The old one in the back shot out.
"Do you have a better idea?" asked the elder.
"Bah! You kids won't listen to my ideas! I'll watch your cute worker bee in action and they, too, will find a way to pervert it into yet another means to annihilate themselves. Remember our last gift to them? Nuclear power? BAH, I say! That's all these Terrans are good for, war and destruction!"
The old one turned back to his own work.
"We still love them. The model we send to them must communicate that. The Kuri droid will have to display a certain amount of humor and servitude. It will monitor their worlds and warn them of any perceived threat, yet we'll make it playful as well. With a low-standard AI program, it may just befriend them."
"But Terrans don't like anything different than them. In their minds, the word 'different' is synonymous with 'threat.'"
"So we ease them into it. Give them just enough technology to make gradual changes to their lives, but still allow them to be in control. That's the trick. If they feel in control, they'll feel safe. For that reason, Kuri must play the part of a servant, or even, perhaps as one of the household pets."
The access door slid open with a soft beep and a whooshing sound. In rolled the prototype model of the droid they were speaking of.
"Kuri, at your service," it announced.
The hull gave it the image of a military recon droid. Its eyes glowed red, cold and unfeeling. Service droids, especially those of that nature, were designed for functionality, not aesthetics.
"Raw material, but we can work with it," said the elder. "Take a note of Terra's inhabitants. Report images of anything they consider comforting, friendly, or even, as they say, 'cute'. We can give Kuri a facelift to be more presentable."
"They're just like children," the apprentice chuckled. "Still needing their soft, cuddly play things and security blankets."
The elder laughed.
"Maybe, soon, we'll convince them to put down their death machines and war toys, no?"
"Our toys are much cuter."
The droid looked at the apprentice. "Cute? Does not compute."
The apprentice and the elder exchanged glances and both started laughing.
Kuri's eyes looked up at his mothership one last time. He knew he would never return, and there was a hint of sorrow in his newly shaped eyes. His new body would have to take some getting used to. He would be sent to the Terrans unarmed, and perhaps adopted as a family pet. As humiliating as it was, even for a lesser droid, Kuri was willing to do it for the greater cause.
The small pod plummeted to Terra below, and landed with a clatter. The landing spot was strategically placed just outside of the laboratory of one of the most technologically advanced companies on the fledgling planet. It was twilight on that part of the globe when Kuri finally landed.
In but a few seconds, a man rushed outside to see what the noise was. The moment he saw the droid exit the small craft, he drew his gun. Kuri's speaking ability had been removed. All communication was done with his eyes. His masters decided that would be the most non-threatening approach.
Kuri tried to give the best “I come in peace, please don't shoot” look that he could muster. To the Terran, he looked like a pitiful, lost puppy. The Terran lowered his gun and grabbed the radio speaker in his shoulder.
“Dispatch, come in. You aren't going to believe this...”
The next thing he knew, Kuri was on a lab table, being analyzed by the best technicians in the place. Soon, they would recreate this marvelous droid, and soon, an entire line, with him as a prototype, would fill the homes of millions of people. Kuri was tired. He powered down and allowed the Terrans to have their way, hoping that his work would preserve the absolute best of them.