For you, my friend, all I can offer is a story and hope that you learn from it to build your faith from my words. You will require strength from this knowledge if you truly want to help. You are the only one I can trust this to in order to save mankind. Now listen, there is little time…
My tale begins on a dark day, when 1000 reptilian soldiers stood on top of the tall hill overlooking our small village of humans. They were poised to attack, awaiting the signal by their leader Pilius Salori. As far as I was aware, none of us ever had any sort of contact with reptiles before but realized the threat to our survival and that they had not come in peace.
I trembled as I watched the soldiers form a line on the top of the hill . Their long limbs contrasted sharply with their thick torsos, very alien to my eyes. Each held a pole arm with a long blade that ran half the length of its handle. I was uncertain of their reason for being her e, but the presence of such crude weaponry indicated that bloodshed factored into it . The village waited, watching while being watched, and after several hours, the night began closing in on the day .
The sky was clear, meaning we would have a bright moon that night. The reptiles didn’t care about the sunset; their tongues would smell us easily, making any attempt to hide in the dark futile. We gathered together toward the center of the village, one terrified huddled mass. It was a perceived protection at best. Salori was watching, smiling to himself. He enjoyed the thought of cleansing the area of human trash. Our deaths would be a problem solved for the lizards; however their superiors had a more pressing reason for this visit, to obtain something quite valuable. Still, for Salori, killing humans was reason enough to attend, damned be the prize. He glanced slowly side to side, surveying his troops. They were ready. He believed it would be a wonderful evening.
I watched Salori from the back of the crowd. A human form appeared behind Salori, and I recognized my father, Mindell. I could barely grasp his bravery. Mindell was the most senior of the Uncles and, for as long as I can remember, everybody depended upon him. Mindell must have been sure of himself to stand so close to such an imposing adversary.
My Uncles were older men, probably in their early 60’s if counting your Earth years. They each were of different human descent and varied in appearance by skin tone, hair color and physical stature. Each wore shoulder length hair, as did I and similar shallow length beards, which is something I lacked. Still, my Uncles paled in comparison to the obvious threat of our visitors.
A mere glance to his side was all it took for Salori to realize he was not alone. Mindell calmly moved up next to the reptilian chief officer and joined him in watching the village below. They were both the same height, but Salori far out massed my father. The reptile smelled the air with his tongue, his attention drawn to the near edge of the village. He turned to find the source of a new scent. Uncles Tastrane, Heratio and Smethe assembled at the road entering the village from the hillside. I suppose the Uncles smelled differently than the other humans, a far more complicated scent than simple prey.
Being outnumbered did not appear to intimidate the Uncles in the slightest. Salori acted as though nothing was wrong, but inside he was processing, analyzing. He hadn’t expected such bold resistance. Still, he tried to act coy. “Good day, dear Mindell. It’s been a long time” he hissed in an approximation of the humans’ language.
“Do you think the four of you can save the village today? Hmmm?” Salori continued.
“No, we cannot,” Mindell said, “but what you seek will not become yours no matter who meets their demise by morning; that much I can assure you.” As Mindell spoke these words, the Uncles unsheathed their weapons, narrow disks known as Arseanols. Their silver color glowed softly in the twilight.
Salori snorted through his teeth, making a strange huffing sound. “Mindell, when the dust clears today, you will wish that you weren’t so courageous. There is an easier means by which to save your friends and family. I would relish slaughtering you all simply on principal, but I have my orders. If you wish to make a deal with me, I will offer all of your lives for what my superiors seek.” Thinking he’d shaken the old man’s confidence, Salori appraised the grey haired warrior. Mindell’s demeanor stayed firm. Salori added, “You’re far too old to challenge me Mindell. I would have a ridiculously easy time tearing your arms from their sockets and laughing while you screamed in agony. You alone decide the day’s outcome.”
Salori turned away from the old man and stared back at the village. Mindell replied without speaking aloud, his words forming in the beast’s own mind. “Old as we may be, we could still each handle 2000 of you. Your soldiers are soulless, spineless and thoughtless. You command a sloppy military, capable of little more than stealing what you need to barely advance your species. Salori, you have a brain the size of a bean, and you are better off sunning yourself on a rock than engaging me. Leave while you still can.”
Salori’s cheek ticked almost imperceptibly. Mindell paused a moment to smile with a glimmer of arrogance, then continued out loud, “It is your mistake to have only brought 1000 of your men to face the 4 of us. You would have struck by now if you felt no hesitation otherwise. Shall we get this over with? I plan to wear a coat of lizard skin while cooking your remains for supper, with time enough to get in a good night’s rest .”
Salori turned in rage and demanded, “Is that correct, Mindell?” My father nodded. Angrily the lizard raised his open hand in the air and lowered his clenched fist like a blacksmith’s hammer to signal his warriors to attack. As the storming of the village began Mindell snapped his Arseanol in an arc slicing the head off a lizard charging between him and Salori. Spinning around quickly like a man one-third his apparent age, he cut down another lizard coming at him from behind before the first even had a chance to hit the ground. Salori’s scales bristled and his breath came on quick huffs as he stepped forward to engage Mindell. The faint of heart would turn an eye for the old man, as Salori was at least twice Mindell’s mass.
Salori’s rage was obvious as he advanced on Mindell. However, my father met the attack with equal force. Meanwhile the reptiles descended the hill and entered the village through the bottlenecked road leading into it, where the three Uncles effortlessly stood their ground. Preventing the lizards from moving too far forward, the Uncles’ Arseanols could be heard cutting through the air as they destroyed all lizard flesh within reach.
Dismembered reptile limbs fell swiftly by the moon’s light. A few of the lizards detoured into the village from the alternate routes to avoid the swinging Arseanols. They went to work tearing apart dwellings and attacking every human in their path. I suddenly realized that their pace indicated they couldn’t find what they were looking for. What did they seek I wondered? Scattering disembowelled torsos and severed limbs behind them, the lizards rarely bothered to finish off the gravely injured humans as they searched. Instead of landing a specifically lethal attack, it seemed the lizards were simply cutting down any human caught in their path, letting their victims suffer as they bled to death. Marauding through the village, burning huts and cutting down anyone who got in their way, the heartless reptiles cared little as they continued to look through our dwellings.
After searching each house they set it on fire before proceeding to the next. The village was in turmoil and the Uncles, battling unscathed, stood their ground at the bottleneck. Once they ran out of incoming lizards to deflect, they turned their attention toward the beasts within the village, again dispatching reptiles with their Arseanols wielded to and fro as if they had performed this task millions of times in the past.
My Uncles Touchar and Sigfried had joined me in the group of huddled villagers. When the attack began, I was grabbed, towed toward the edge of the line of houses. Looking back over my shoulder as I escaped, I saw more and more of the lizards losing their lives as Tastrane, Heratio and Smethe edged forward. The dead beasts were spread out over the ground, and the advancing Uncles mowed through them as if the reptiles were no more than stalks of wheat. In a figure-eight motion like a machete clearing brush, Tastrane, Heratio and Smethe used their weapons to clear the town of the evil that consumed it.
Even though the Uncles fared well in their counter-attack, the village truly was all but destroyed. I was better off not seeing too much of the carnage up close, as I surely would have panicked or been killed. But I saw plenty, despite Touchar and Sigfried shielding me from seeing the carnage. I glimpsed back and saw the lizards beheading the last of our villagers before they themselves fell to the lethal Arseanols. Tastrane, Heratio and Smethe worked through the lizards until the last was dead. The Uncles and I were the only survivors. If you ask me now how I was able to know this for sure without being down there in person, I cannot answer.
I now know my mind’s eye captured it all including Mindell’s battle with Salori. After putting up the fight of his life, the reptilian leader fell to his knees. Mindell advanced on him only to watch the beast leap into the air beyond reach. Salori landed several hundred yards away where he scurried toward a 10 foot tall, white tadpole-shaped pod that sat near the tree line. A door opened on the side and the beast leapt into it. As the pod rose from the ground, I realized, it was a sky boat, a ship of sorts. This was the first time I’d seen one, but somehow I recognized it immediately . Mindell knew too and watched thoughtfully as the craft floated away . He finally harnessed his Arseanol when the craft was no longer in sight. Then he looked back toward the fires that dotted the hillside.
As I think back to that awful day, I can still hear Mindell’s voice in my mind when the lizards advanced. “Run boy!! Run while you can! They’re coming in droves!” Mindell’s voice echoed. That is what stands out above all the rest that day. I am still haunted by the fear that was scarcely shrouded in those words. That fear will haunt my memory for eternity. What an awful experience. My lungs sucked in all the air they could hold as Touchar and Sigfried pulled me away with them to safety.
The Uncles were practically dragging me as my legs were stretched to the limit in an attempt to keep up . My thighs ached from the flurry as my mind raced. My thoughts were blurred by emotion. Still, I relentlessly generated energy from strengths I had never used before in order to escape the reptiles.
I have nightmares to this day of women dragging their children to the center of the village to wait for protection against the lizard army. Their husbands fought so desperately, but had no idea how to successfully defend themselves. I’m still terrified when I remember that crazed dance and the figures silhouetted against the flames that devoured the village . I have lost a lot of sleep thinking about the terrible price the villagers paid as I was pulled to my freedom.
My Uncles amazed me with their ability to hold their ground and fight for that which they held dear, but still they lost everything. I had no idea they were warriors, none whatsoever. They fought in ways I had never imagined, but their only focus was to save themselves and me. All that had been cultivated here on Xallanollis since I was an infant was lost in a single day . What we had shaped and established since my Uncles brought us all here to escape the wars in their home world of Klymiladron was gone in a few minutes, a lifetime of effort wasted.
Looking across the ridge from the adjacent hilltop I could barely make out the shape of my other four Uncles walking around the dwindling smoke and flames. I could not understand how those old men were capable of fending off so many reptilian soldiers. I was grateful that I was still standing, yet the feeling was empty. I didn’t fully understand at the time why the Uncles destroyed the enemy, yet failed to save anyone else but me. Why was that? Mindell told me once that I was part of a lost generation. Did that justify my survival in the face of so much death? The idea of defending and protecting a way of life had new meaning as the emotional toll of the attack washed over me.
The Uncles and I were not of the legion of men who cultivated this village when it was first founded; we were recent newcomers, or so I was led to believe. We had arrived there shortly after I was born, and we were all relatively new to Xallanollis. The Uncles did not come here to protect one another, nor the entire planet, but they had succeeded at protecting me from an enemy I’d never known of until this day.
At that moment, I realized what Pilius Salori and his army were looking for. Something important enough that he gave up the lives of 1000 soldiers to find… It was me. I fell to my knees and fought the emotions back as fiercely as I could. The memory of my fellow villagers dying at the hands of a reptilian army was too fresh to forget and I felt a terrible guilt knowing it was entirely my fault.
I wish there had been something I could have done. I wish I had stood my ground, I wish I had died with them. There were only 100 of us in the village before the attack; now only 7 remained alive, witnesses to the massacre of our friends and neighbors. Wasn’t there something I could have done? Was there that much of a risk? My mind played it again and again in slow motion, and my composure drained with each moment. I almost vomited as the images replayed in my mind. Wives, husbands and children chopped down, their limbs scattered through the ruins of the village; the people I laughed, worked and played with just one day before, all torn asunder. I saw the faces of my friends amongst the slain enemy. I watched those friends and their loved ones die, but for what?
“The Cause, Kenna. They died for the Cause,” Mindell told me.
“What cause? I ask you again father, what cause?” His reply was terrifying. No words, his agony-filled silence said it all. The respite hinted at a great physical pain that was reflected in his eyes. The Uncles gathered around us and bowed their heads as tears flowed endlessly. I was relieved the attack was over; but on the other hand, I was terrified of whatever this “Cause” might be.
“Son, let me speak with the Uncles alone,” Mindell told me as he took them aside. I walked away and up to the hillside above the still-burning wreckage of our village and hesitated to accept the beauty of it all as the dying flames lit the night. I looked back and saw the aged warriors holding a grim discussion. Waiting alone at a time of despair like that allowed me to explore deep, dark thoughts I had once hoped to purge from my mind.
I remember so little of the 25 years that passed before this day. I realize that there was the apparent influence my generation had cast upon me genetically but I cannot remember much, I was an infant when I arrived to the village and I became an infant again on this forsaken evening. My memory has served me well; do not get me wrong. Everything I am about to tell you seems fresh as I begin reflecting back. Yet on those days when the universe was filled with peace and kindness, instead of hatred and evil, I knew no past. I want my story to serve as a guide that will be of use to you if you are patient enough, willing and ready to hear them.
It has been many thousands of years since the time my group headed to Earth. I am too old now and have been asleep too long to know how much time is left. But the days when the colors of the sky were bright and cheerful, when traveling to the next nation was as joyful as seeing a newborn child, are long gone for you too, so you need to hear what destroyed my wor l d and then allowed it to be born again. I would just as soon allow it all to end for you as it ended abruptly for my own kind, but I cannot. As my story began, just before our village was put to waste, I had recently turned 25 years of age, the same age as you are today. All I knew about the universe was centered on living one day at a time by most standards. The industry 100 people could create, which is nothing to some people on Earth, was all I knew. And we were happy.
As the day ended sorrow and exhaustion engulfed me and I failed to find any comfort from the cool ground where I lay. Although my eyes were tightly shut all I could see was the red glow from the burning village with visions I could not understand. I turned my face to the ground and wept until the last of my energy drained itself away and I fell into a troubled slumber.