The remainder of the day brought torrential rain, carried in on huge clouds from the rainforest which emptied themselves in a hiss of fat, angry droplets. The downpour lashed the terraces and stone structures of Machu Picchu, forming a misty-white haze that blurred the outlines of the mountains. The nest did not escape the rain, and two damp figures watched from their hiding place in the leaves as the flow of humans coming up the path into the ruined city dwindled to a trickle. Only the most adventurous would attempt the uneven pathways and slippery steps on a day like today, shielded by gaudy raincoats and umbrellas which were tugged and teased by the wind.
Hazel anxiously watched Manfred smoke. Rings of silver-blue curled from his lips and floated upwards, dissolving into oblivion in the branches.
"I just don't understand," she sighed, "One minute we're waving off our friends at the conference, and the next we're stuck in this strange place. I've been feeling so ill Manfred. All I want to do is sleep. I wish we were at home. I want to know what's been making me sick."
Manfred nodded, gently stroking her arm. "I hope that the platform and gear are still ok," he said, worriedly glancing towards the temple.
"Who cares about the gear?" Hazel snapped."Can't we leave it behind? Really, I don't know why the conference made us carry all that bulky stuff home. We don't even know what it's meant to do. All that matters is the platform, and getting it fixed."
The mournful weather matched their glum expressions, when a sudden commotion caught their attention. The saturated earth on the three terraces above the main path had collapsed, causing a small landslide that was now blocking the entrance to Machu Picchu. Before long humans in neon yellow jackets were swarming around the muddy mess, helping people back down the hillside and putting up large signs which announced that the whole site would be closed until it could be made safe.
Hazel and Manfred waited for the hubbub to die down before they descended from their nest. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun had set, temporarily painting the remaining clouds in a glorious symphony of colour, before fading into darkness.
Manfred studied the few stars which winked at him from breaks in the cloud while Hazel fished out her beacon and shone its beam into the gloom of the grass-carpeted Plaza.
"Manfred ... you ... you might want to have a look at this!"
"What is it Hazel? Why are you interrupting when you can see I'm ... oh ... oh, I see."
The pair beheld a sea of yellow eyes, illuminated by the beacon. There must have been dozens of them, all unblinking and focused on the travellers.
"We, uhhh, we mean you no harm," said Manfred, not doing a very good job of disguising the tremble in his voice. He took a furtive step backwards, whispering, "I knew the humans weren't capable of such an advanced society, these must be their masters."
Hazel, still gripping the beacon, rolled her eyes at her companion's clichéd attempts at diplomacy. She scanned the beam around them and leaned forwards, squinting in the darkness, trying to make out the creatures to which these eyes belonged.
"Manfred, we're in a herd of those herbivores that eat the grass on the terraces. I heard a human call them llamas."
"Oh, right. Actually, I was just thinking that myself. "
"Of course you were. Come on, the temple's just around the corner."
Upon arrival they found the platform and gear exactly where they had been left, untouched and unharmed, tucked out of sight down the side of the large rock.
They also found a small silver box, propped up neatly on the sill of one of the temple's trapezoidal windows. Manfred picked it up. "What is this?" he said, turning it over in his hands. The object whirred and gave off a tremendous flash, causing him to yelp and drop it in surprise.
The box landed at Hazel's feet. She grabbed it and noticed her companion's face displayed on the panel at the back. She couldn't help but snigger at the picture, Manfred's perturbed brows and expression of utter shock and bewilderment were perfectly captured in time.
"Look, it's an image transfer device."
"Bah, it's inferior human technology. Nothing compared to what we have at home. Now you try to get comfortable while I fix this thing."
Manfred turned his attention to his wristband and the platform, grumpily pressing buttons while Hazel drowsily rested by the doorway, inspecting her surroundings.
"Look at those markings on the rock. Aren't they similar to our home script?" she said quietly, tilting her head to one side for a better view.
"I see what you mean. It looks like: break ... rock ... prism ... light ... sound. That doesn't make much sense. Perhaps it's just a coincidence."
"You're probably right," murmured Hazel, as she drifted into sleep. Manfred continued to tinker with the machines, pausing only to stroke his companion's forehead as she gave occasional half-asleep moans.