Who Loved On A World That Wouldn't
I’m one-hundred and four now and there are more things than not that I have forgotten in my life. I can’t tell you the first time I traveled to another planet. I can’t recall the name of my instructor from school. And, I've even forgotten the name of my first friend in under school. I can, however, remember to this day the first time I had seen a human.
Sophia Barton was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Sure, she was short like every human. Yeah, she had the unnecessarily long hair that most human females do. She even did the all too predatory action of bearing her teeth. Often. Despite being human, she was still my best friend.
“Why do we have to Mom?”
“Because they’re coming into the Council, now stop fussing.” My mother told me sternly, as we waited behind the large glass walls looking into the ship terminal.
“It’s stupid, why does she need to stay at our house?” I asked my mother, not seeing how selfish I was being at the time.
“Rules are rules, dear.” She never went into much depth, even as she got older.
When the ship landed, I remember how much I tried not to look. I even tried to wander into a different room, but the loud screaming that sounded after the engines silenced kept my eyes glued to the platform.
She was tiny. Her face was red and glistened from moisture oozing out of orifices. All I could think was how ugly humans are. What a shame they were being allowed into the Council. The little girl kept creating such a fuss that I didn't even notice the hand she was holding onto was the hand of my father, Third Admiral of Council Collective Space Fleet. But, after contact with the horrendous looking humans, he was brought down to nothing more than a baby sitter.
"Ew, she is not staying in my room.” I said, with my face smashed against the window, ears raised to the cold surface. My mother merely shushed me and led me to the entrance where my father was entering, with his new unfortunate luggage.
My parents embraced and my father even gave me some sort of wooden toy he had gotten on one of the human’s planets. I whispered my protests into his lowered ear, but he would be having none of it. The day felt like it would be the beginning of something horrible, especially if I was going to be listening to the disgusting sniveling sounds coming from the tiny human clinging to my father’s large grizzled one. It wasn't until I tripped down a flight of steps a few minutes later, as I was scuffing my feet in childish anger, that I realized that it was actually the exact opposite.
Empathy, compassion, mercy, call it what you like, but humanity has it. Every race in the Council is powerful, intelligent, clever, or resilient, but the humans are just plain nice. The lumbering Marins are the least opportune race to face head to head. The Yyes are known for their near perfect soldiers. Graes are the oldest and most intelligent of the races. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Nami who can’t con you out of the last credits you have left in your pocket. Then there are the Undarins who can withstand temperatures from 278K to 295K. It was barely ten cycles after humans were accepted into the Council that the status quo changed.
You can call the Council a plenty things, but perfectly cohesive isn't one of them. At least, not twenty cycles ago. Territory is a lot harder to keep track of in space than it was when we were all just terrestrial races, especially when half your races hunt and pick single planets from systems and the other half take over whole solar systems.
Some will say the war was the Marins’ fault, others will say the Nami needed to learn people are going to get angry when you’re always pulling the wool over their eyes. Either way, the Nami had talked the Council into giving them a planet from a system already promised to the Marins.
What started out as a small border conflict, quickly evolved into a full-out war between the Marins and the Nami. Races from throughout the whole galaxy were picking sides and Council was looking for anyway to end the war. The only thing the Council seemed to have accomplish was accepting the humans into the government and performing the usual protocol of hosting a thousand of the children of the new race throughout the alliance.
For the first couple cycles, the war was barely a dividing factor among the Council, everyone thought it wasn’t necessary. Most races tried diplomatic talks with both sides, but no one would yield. It took four cycles for the Marins to declare the war to be about the Nami being the undermining race of the entire Council. Their goal? Extermination of the every Nami, man, woman and child.
When I was nine, I wanted to be everything my father was. Strong, unyielding, commanding. Yet, that day in the cold terminal laying at the bottom of the stairwell I wanted nothing more than to be like Sophia.
She took no time at all to run down the steps which were nearly twice the size she would come to tell me she was used to. I lied on the floor whimpering holding onto the leg that I landed on, which now bent at an angle all too unnatural. Her face was still slightly red from just moments ago, but moisture no longer leaked from her face and she was completely silent. If it weren’t for the incredible pain in my leg, I would have gotten far away from her, but there was no escape.
“Oh no, oh no.” she whispered to herself, I had no idea why, “You're so hurt.” She said as if I didn’t know, but her voice wasn’t informative. No, it actually wavered as if she was going to start making those horrible noises from before.
“Get up.” My father barked down as he stepped down beside me. Coddling was looked down upon by every race in the Council. No race became sentient creatures by being weak. No, evolution took care of everything not needed.
“I don't think he can walk.” Sophia quietly said, as she looked up to my father, from her crouched position.
“Then leave him, child.” My father said, walking to catch up with the rest of the travelers from his flight.
“You can't leave him.” She said louder, not leaving her crouched position beside me, “You're his daddy. You have to help him.”
My father stopped. Silently waiting for the young girl to follow him. He doesn’t repeat himself.
“I’m not going leave him.” She had said, and she didn't. She sat there for minutes, maybe an hour. My father stood in front of us on those stairs, with his full Council regalia, staring into the defiant eyes of the tiny girl beside me. The pain regressed into a dull throb, but I wasn't going to test standing on the crooked appendage.
“It's no wonder you humans are so small, if you let every member of your race reproduce even with their deficiencies.” My father finally said, causing the girl's face to angle into what I assumed was predatory anger. Her nostrils flared and her brows angled in such a way that made her look like a hunter's kitten. They stared off, but my father relented, “Fine, but we will have to have an important talk if you are going to stay in my house.”
My father lifted me for the first time in my life. It wasn’t until that moment that I knew that it was a feeling that I had always wanted. Sophia once told me that human parents are actually very affectionate with their children, they can carry them until they’re five cycles old even!
Regardless, that was the day I had really seen what true strength, endurance and command were. From an eight cycle old human girl, nonetheless.
There were many voices for the first four cycles of the war, too many, but once the Marins' extermination declaration was announced, the loudest was the humans. The first four cycles, the humans refused to enter the war, they sent aid to both sides and they cautiously took their first steps into being part of the Council’s political scene. They were the meekest of the races. Their voices swayed musically, though, and they often spoke with a passion. If emotion was ammunition then they would've been the apex race, but none of the others got where they were by feeling strongly on an issue. So, no one expected the humans to be the staunchest war supporters upon the declaration.
Hundreds of vids were made and sent to the leading Council members. They started private, but slowly trickled into the hands of the populace. They were ancient black and white shots of the humans, low quality videos of humans in their first information age, even a few videos of a sect of humans before their final step into the interstellar stage, but these were not just any humans, but according to them, the most retched humans to have ever existed.
The humans were adamant. This couldn't happen. They spoke elegantly. Fire like passion spit forth from their speeches and many races supported them and in turn, the Nami.
I can’t tell you what I believed when I first heard the humans’ war speeches. But, I can tell you what I felt, empowered. It was no surprise to me then that Sophia was one of them.
Sophia had stayed in our home for twenty cycles, and in those twenty cycles I had learned many more things then we taught her.
When I was eleven, I learned that they often keep other animals as pets. Not livestock mind you. No, they took animals in, not for food, or wool, not even security, but out of care. When I asked my father if we could have a pet, he told me I was being ridiculous and there was no need.
When I was thirteen, I found out that human's view a sort of power in ideas. Sophia would speak out against unfairness and would spoke often of justice, although her "justice" felt more like charity and less like vengeance.
When I was sixteen, Sophia told me that there are rules on her “Earth”, that makes sure everyone had equal chances. She said even the sick and those born with faults were taken care of unconditionally. The poor are given aid. Freedoms are not privileges, but rights. I was sixteen when I first felt shame for being born a Torpid.
When I was nineteen, the girl, no woman, yet again saved me. The Orion War, as the humans have named it after some warrior in the sky, was in its height.
The humans had persuaded, no, motivated, us to join the Nami in their war. We sent troopers and tech to every front of the war, because we have so many resources, but that didn't stop the Marin from pushing through to our base world. Not when they had Yyes troops and Grae tech. We were fighting an unbeatable war against an opponent who intended to conquer and exterminate.
Sophia, my mother and I stayed in the bunker of our home, with my father’s personnel as he fought of in some front by the Nami's base world. We expected the Marins to make it here, we even thought there would be some damage from aerial combat, but we never predicted that the Marins would have the ability to make to land. We fought for weeks, but they never gave an inch, only took miles.
Our bunker was blown open and it was then that I learned the unifying factor between all races. Fear. Sure, we have all survived to this point, but that doesn't guarantee anything. It was the first time I've ever felt like Sophia’s equal.
Everyone ran. No one stayed behind to help anyone else, not even my mother, well, no one but Sophia. Rubble that I could never imagine lifting trapped ten or so of my father’s previous attendants. They were trapped and just as good as dead, if it weren't for Sophia. Lifting what could have been easily 100 Kg, she saved not only their lives, but mine as well.
My leg has never healed properly since the day that I first met her. I often limped around, walking nearly perfect, but never again being able to run. But, that didn't affect little Sophia. She ran over to me, squatted in front of me and lifted me onto her back.
That day, Sophia, yet again, proved to me why the humans were so different from us. That week, after human troops landed and forced the Yyes soldiers into surrender with their tactical genius, they proved to the Torpids that caring for your brother made stronger bonds. A month and a half later, with the development of their pure antimatter bombs that pushed the Graes antimatter-fission bombs into obsoletion, humans proved to the Marin Alliance that genius could be born of desperation to help others. No more than a cycle later, when the Nami rushed forth from the last holding pen into the arms of the human troops, they proved to the entire universe why human compassion was not weakness.
It was the Orion War that showed all of us that there were still things we could learn. It was then after providing the Nami with aid and relocating the survivors that we started to understand the humans more. On their too hot and too cold planet, with its too many predators that were far larger, faster and deadly in every way, the humans' only asset for survival wasn't being strong, outlasting the elements, being stealthy or even intelligence. No, the humans best defense and most powerful offense was compassion for each other, because as humans say “United we stand, divided we fall”.
It was many years after of the Orion War, when Sophia was leaving my home, no, our home, for Earth, that I truly felt human. Sophia has said many words throughout the years, words that burned and words that soothed, but one always confused me, until now. Love.
So, as she was leaving, maybe as a last resort, or a final farewell, I said. “I love you”.
She turned back towards me, yet again with her mouth stretching into a soft smile, “And I have always loved you,” she said stepping onto the ship back to her true home.
Sophia, who loved on a world that wouldn't.