“And that day was a joyous one for the People, or so we thought, when the small silver machines of the Earthers first descended on the mauve and violet forests of our world.” Tipoli-Ti stands with her paws resting lightly on the glass cover of her smallest daughter’s coffin, watching the somnolent red form for any indication that her words are being heard. Aside from the small rise and fall of the chest however, there is no sign, as the slender metallic Earther instruments periodically dip and rise, tenderly probing and testing the flesh beneath the sleeping child’s fur.
“We met them with open arms” she continues, “as newcomers to our world; and did our best to communicate with them the pleasure of that meeting. We had never encountered those like ourselves from beyond the skies, and at first we thought there was much in common – they used machinery and electronics, and harnessed the powers of light and atom, much as we did in the past.” She turns her gaze from her sleeping child and surveys the ticking humming room around her. So much knowledge, so much power, and yet the Earthers were but children.
“If we had known the future…” She sighs, shaking her head. “If we had known, we would have done the same. We would still have watched in sorrow as the Earthers built their settlements, withdrew into their metal domes, shunned the People, and made their plans to take our world from us.” She moves slowly from casket to casket, speaking quietly to her sleeping children.
“Their invasion was one of stealth, seeding the land with the life of their world. The bright green alien grass that spread speedily across the hills and valleys, swamping our vegetation. The mindless encroachment of their animals upon our eco-structure. And the day they emerged from their domes to assault our forests with their weapons of fire and death, that day our world was changed.”
Her breathing quickens, and she feels her eyes grow hot.
“But the People would not allow their world to be taken without a fight. And fight we did!”
With a faint click she feels her claws slide from the smooth sheathes beneath the soft pelt of her fingertips, and she begins to drum them lightly upon the transparent surface of the casket in front of her. The sleeping form inside stirs not, save for a faint ripple of air-currents across the bright yellow fur.
“We had not forgotten our own savage and cunning past, and we made the Earthers pay for their presumption. We remembered our Fire, and our Arts of Battle, and our anger fuelled our retribution. We broke their machines when we could. We tore through the walls of their domes and slaughtered them with our bare hands, for we were physically stronger than they, and by colour-talking we could hide in plain sight. We made them pay, and the War for our world was shocking and bloody.”
She closes her eyes, exhaling slowly. With quiet regret she feels her anger subside, and her claws silently retract.
“And we won. And the Earthers departed. But they left us with the one foe we could not defeat. The virus.”
Opening her eyes, Tipoli-Ti looks down at the faint parallel scratches she has left on the casket lid, at the paws now soft and harmless. She feels a sudden raw taste in her mouth and instinctively spits. Yellow drops of blood spatter onto fur that has remained the same pale orange for the last 2 days.
“I am dying.” She whispers. “Your father is dying.
“We are all dying.”