That and I suck at research. As my college professors, or better yet don't since I kind hope they've forgotten me.
"You're what now?" Will's grip on the phone tightened.
Alice's calm was a stark contrast to Will's agitation. "Mister Lions I was under the impression you understood this would be a temporary job at best. You've done good work and you'll be transferred back to your old job with no break in your pay cycle. I fail to see the problem."
Will put a hand over the mouthpiece in hopes that Alice wouldn't hear the string of obscenities. Only after he had himself back under control did he uncover the phone. "I understand ma'am, but I thought given how often we had been reassured we were important to this project we would actually get a few details on what we're actually doing."
There was a long pause, and just when Will started to think he had gone too far laughter came from the phone's speaker. "Finally. One of you actually comes out and asks. I was wondering how long it would take." Alice laughed again. "Really now, that's all you had to do."
Will's computer beeped and a face showed up in a window at the corner. Stylized female face, blue-white skin and Eggplant hair. "Ah there we go." Same voice that was on the phone came from the computer's speakers. "I believe you wanted to see me face to face right?"
"Yea," There was hesitation in Will's voice. "but you shouldn't-"
"-Be able to just open a connection to your computer, start up skype, open a video chat window, and start calling everyone else that's been wondering about me?" As Alice spoke more windows were opening. "I do believe it's time I have a talk with all of you."
Surprisingly, or not given most of the people involved had little of any social life, most of those called actually answered. There were a variety of reactions at the new face to the crowd followed by questions, people talking over eachother, shouting, and then Alice muting all of them.
"Thank you for being so prompt about answering. I'm well aware all of you have questions about the work I've put all of you through-"
Fawkes mouthed something, but since his audio was cut one could only guess.
"Oh trust me this is no fancy vocaloid face or some sort of prank." Alice's tone remained calm as she looked to Fawkes's window-lette. "The largest hurdle to any of you believing my story is that some sort of physical proof is required and that proof is actually dependent on the repairs the materials you had gathered allowed us to make."
Will and everyone else just stared at their computers. Really what could they say?
Then one of them turned to look somewhere off camera. Alice smiled. "That would be your ride. Go outside. Have a look. Come back and tell everyone else what you think. Get in or not. Your choice."
Time passed. Seconds passed into minutes and ultimately it took a half hour before the person came back and started posting video he'd taken with his phone.
The video was of a car. Plain black but it looked like it had body features from several different models rather than one specific brand. There was no driver. Then the front wheels shifted, turned. Then the back wheels turned and twisted. Horn beeped and Alice's voice came from the driver's seat moments before a translucent image faded into view; same blue-white face, slender gymnast body.
The image flickered and wavered. "Go ahead poke around. No tricks. No photoshop." A hand, presumably belonging to the phone holder, moved in frame then moved gingerly through Alice's projection causing her to giggle. "That tickles!" The hand jerked back out of frame.
"Alright then." The hologram flickered, morphing from the blue-white not-person to a lightly tanned brunette wearing a too-large Letterman jacket. "I'll be waiting here while you upload and share. You in?"
"Yea, I'm in." The voice from off camera sounded skeptical and wary.
The video ended there leaving everyone else looking at the person who sent it. For his part he didn't seem too phased by suddenly being the center of everyone's attention. "I believe it's worth looking into." Then his feed cut out.
Alice nodded slow. "That's good. I'll send other units along to pick everyone else up shortly. I'm open to questions until then."
"Yea." Will spoke, hesitated when he heard his own voice through the feed since he hadn't realized Alice gave them back their voices. Why he spoke when he wasn't sure he would be heard is probably just one of those strange quirks of personality. "You're obviously very advanced. What are you, an AI, Alien?"
When there was no further elaboration Will made an annoyed noise. "Both then?" Alice nodded. "So what's the deal. We get recruited so you can find parts to help you rebuild your ship so you can leave?"
"Not far off the mark really." Alice took a breath, never mind the fact she didn't need to breath, and exhaled. "My ship was attacked several of your years ago. We were heavily damaged, but automated repair took care of the worst of it. Yet there's only so much that could be done with few supplies and being stuck in the proverbial middle of nowhere."
A flurry of voices then. We aren't alone? Is earth simply the middle of the boonies galacticly speaking or are we actively being kept in the dark? What's it like out there? How long did it take you to learn our languages? Are humans really monsters?
Their microphones were cut again. "Peace. Please We've been listening to your communications as soon as we came in range. At first it was just to get to know you better, figure out if it was safe to approach your governments for help or even if there was a nest of junkers or traders hiding in your system's Oort cloud we could deal with directly. Unfortunately we've had to hide, use subtlety and work through proxies, IE you guys, to get what we want."
Will and basically everyone else mouthed a single question. Why?
"To be blunt," Alice's avatar looked at all of them sadly, "We don't trust your governments to do anything other than take our arrival as an excuse to start blowing eachother up. So we've used tricks of all sorts to stay out of the spotlight. You though. I think a few of you are ready. I'm just sorry nobody's going to really believe you outside of the fringe groups.
Then Alice smiled. "Will, your ride's here."