As a race with unnatural longevity, it is nearly impossible to judge the age of a Lazloi by their appearance alone. Except for the elders we have met, the senior Lazloi aboard the ship are indistinguishable from their juniors and grown children. It is only by their demeanour and self-confidence that I can tell them apart.
I knew then that the Lazloi who welcomed us was very young. She greeted us profusely with a mixture of praise and apologies, and was constantly avoiding our eyes as she spoke to us. She seemed awkward around the simulacrum that followed her too, treating it more like a person than the machine it really was.
Beckoning shyly for us to follow, she led us out of the ship and on to a wide landing platform. I thought we would be received in some great metropolis, but instead found ourselves near a small community of houses surrounded by gardens and fields. The buildings were low and sleek, and centred around a large community area. Causeways led from the landing pad to these structures, lined by beds of shrubs, flowers and ferns.
When we reached ground level however, we saw that the structures were marked by dereliction and decay. The garden surrounding the platform seemed abandoned, with long channels of water being slowly choked by algae and rushes. The flowerbeds had been colonised by scrub and straggly bushes, while grass and weeds encrusted the pavement. After spending many weeks amongst the marvels of a Lazloi spacecraft, we had assumed their world would also be a place of wonder.
Moving through the garden, we would see an occasional simulacra standing motionless amongst the plants, some with garden tools in their hands. All of them would turn and follow our progress through the garden, but once we had passed, they returned to their passive state.
Our guide continued to apologise for the state of the settlement as we neared the doors of the settlement, a rambling stream of words that seemed unstoppable. She then started to talk to herself, telling herself to be careful the way a parent might warn a child. Stopping briefly, she knelt down to a large weed growing in the path. After regarding it carefully for a moment, she tore it out and flung it into a nearby bed of flowers, before continuing towards the settlement. We didn't follow at first, until she waved us forward again. This time it was with urgent and tearful cries.
An old Lazloi greeted us at the settlement walls with smiles and waved us towards a large veranda. Tables of food and drink were brought out and we rested a while. The young Lazloi who brought us here excused herself and wandered back into the garden with her hapless simulacrum following close behind. We watched her meander aimlessly about the vegetation, pulling out an occasional plant and then moving on. It was a task without sense or purpose.
We enquired about our guide from the old Lazloi.
"She was the gardener of our community, tending the flowers and herbs with great care," she explained sadly, "but the decline of our race falls heavily on some." The old woman wiped a tear from her face. "Her mind is broken by too many tragedies and too many deaths. For some of us, we are a people without hope."
-- Tara Alessia, on the Lazloi homeworld
V4 figure with Orion hair and Psyche outfit from DAZ. Spaceship and buildings are original models created in Cinema 4D.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R13 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2