Carnuga lies on his back outside the house, munching on one of the round crisp discs the house replicator calls food. The taste is strange, but Tipoli-Ti has assured him that it will fulfil their dietary needs. Unfortunately the dome is Earther-built, and the discs are the closest approximation to proper food the replication mechanism can reliably produce. That and the sticky pink liquid…
Hgghh!! Carnuga shudders. To live on these poor substitutes for a decent meal…it does not bear thinking about. He shakes his furry head and pushes the thought away. Instead he watches the clouds.
It is a peaceful day, and they have so needed some peace after the violent terrors of the War. But now the War is over, and has been for several many-days. Well and truly over.
The Earthers are gone, back to the stars. Leaving behind their strange green plants and their forgotten buildings.
It took us ten cycles to get them off our world, thinks Carnuga bitterly, but we finally did it. And now our world is ours again, for as long as we live.
As long as we live.
A sudden giggle makes him jump, and he lurches to his feet, spraying crumbs from his forgotten disc. Where did that come from? He looks to the left and right. Nothing, just the flop-eared Earther rodents chewing at the green carpet of grass. He shuffles round and looks through the archway into the dome. Nothing there. He blinks, and then some instinct makes him turn his attention to the skies..
“Aaaiiiiiiii!!!” Carnuga feels his fur turn as green as the surrounding hillside as he looks full into the face of the grinning yellow disc that stares down at him. “Tipo! Tipo!! What is it!!”
The slap of feet on metal announces the arrival of his wife, running out of the dome, paws clutching delicate electronic tools.
“What do you think, Carnoo? The house can display holographic projections.”
“But…what is it for?”Carnuga stares up at the smiling visage that hovers in the sky, where the sun used to be. Tipoli-Ti puts her hands on her hips and admires her work critically.
“I want our children to see a familiar face while they are growing. I want them to know they are not alone. I have instructed the house to generate the hologram for them. It will obey me, you know. I have modified the Earther brain command protocols.”
“Yes, yes..” Carnuga nods impatiently, pointing at the face. “But it is so…ugly! Why have you used an Earther face?”
“I cannot use one of ours, Carnoo. I can only project what is in the house brain. The scanning mechanisms no longer function, and there are no images of our people there. I have used representation of the head of an Earther infant. It is closest in form to our own.”
“It is still ugly.” Carnuga glances down suddenly and notices his paws. “Tipo…I am still green.”
“Yes.” His wife nods soberly. “It is a symptom that the Earther virus is progressing. We will lose the ability to colour-talk.”
“The children? You said they would be immune!”
“I do not know, Carnoo. They have resistance, but I do not know.”
“No, of course.” Carnuga turns away and resumes his contemplation of the hilly green horizon. “We will never know, will we?”