My companion had ground to a complete stop before me and I had nearly walked right over her. But when I looked at what held her eyes, I too stepped back in shock.
The being before us was like a man and yet unlike one. It was sexless. Its hide was run through with small fissures where it had dried under the harsh winds. In some spots it had blackened with age. Its hands loosely rested on the exposed rock that somehow resembled a chair; no a throne. The skin over the fingers was cracked at the joints and metal, though pitted, shone through. Its head hung forward and its eyes were closed.
Was this the Watcher? What did it see with its eyes closed? Did it still live or was it dead?
“Has our journey been a waste?” cried my companion. “Was all this just to find another carcass among many? Was it all for naught?”
My hand reached out to touch her shoulder, but I held back. A small, simian-like creature had arrayed itself across the being’s shoulder and glared at us. My companion moved away as the thing chittered at her in annoyance. The strange little eyes of the ape spoke with a dark intellect as they bored into mine. One of its hands rapped a repeating pattern against the large head of the being until the eyelids of it split open.
My companion and I crumpled under the strange gaze. Its machine eyes measured us and we felt small in comparison. It was hard not to look away, but we had come to this forsaken planet for this very meeting. My companion fell to her knees and I joined her. We clasped hands and whispered our request.
The being’s voice stuttered out from long disuse, “You wish to ask of me questions?”
We both nodded, though mine was with the slightest hesitation.
“You traveled all this way for that? What would you ask of me that you couldn’t find elsewhere?”
The voice of my companion echoed out into the wind of this dead planet, “What are you?”