Price knew that he should avoid any contact with the locals but it had taken so long to find any that he didn't want to lose the opportunity to gather a little intelligence. If they had a radio on the bulldozer, or other communications gear, then they could alert the city that aliens had landed, if those in the city didn't know it already. If those on the bulldozer even cared that aliens had landed.
He walked out of the forest like a man on a stroll through the park thinking of all the UFO reports that had been made on Earth. If they were on Earth and someone reported such an incident, no one would have believed it figuring the witness was more interested in getting his face on video or on one of the morning talk shows.
He watched the creatures as they worked. One of them looked up, stared at him for a moment and then bent back to work. It couldn't have cared less that he was around. It held a long silver pipe while another of the creatures worked on the bottom of it. The one on the bulldozer sat there, its face turned toward the sun looking as if it was sunning itself.
When he got closer, he expected them to stop and warn him away, but none of them seemed interested in his approach. They were standing around, working on the pipe. One grabbed a tool, banged on the pipe several times. It was the first sound that he'd heard that didn't fit the environment as a nature sound of some kind.
Price walked right up to them and stood there, looking down into the hole the creatures had dug. Two more were in the bottom of it, covered with mud. They were trying to fit two ends of pipe together.
Price stood there watching for several minutes, but the creatures ignored him. It was as if he was part of the landscape that they would have to work around.
Now that he was close to them, he could tell that these beings were like the one he'd seen on the asteroid. There was no question about it.
"Afternoon," said Price.
The creatures continued working without acknowledging him.
"What's going on here?" Price didn't expect them to understand a word he said. He hoped the sound of his voice was interest them.
But it didn't. The one on the bulldozer twisted around, started the engine and backed up, lifting the blade, but that was the only response from any of them. It had nothing to do with Price.
"Well, I guess I'll be going." Price walked around the hole and headed off toward the north. He reached the other side of the field and moved into the trees. Once there, he turned, but the creatures hadn't stopped their work. They were still near the bulldozer and working in the hole.
A moment later Coollege approached him from inside the trees. "Well?"
"Like I wasn't there."
"So what do we do now?"
"Continue on toward the city."
"Leaving them behind us? On our lines of communication?" asked Coollege.
"I don't think they understand about lines of communication," said Price. "Further, I don't think they care about them." He looked at Monier. "Well?"
"They don't care about anything other than getting their job completed. There was no reaction from them when you approached them. Nothing at all."
"Jackknife, get that encoded and ready for transmission."
"We're not scheduled to check in again for another two hours."
"Get it ready now," said Price.