The year was 2050. The Earth was on fire, and the people? They were dying by the millions. Three years prior, the world went dark, taking communication with. In 2053, countries began to invade each other for resources and land. It was a desperate attempt at keeping countries together. The population dwindled with each passing year, 9.7 billion to 7 billion in the span of three years.
Millions watched the ozone layer open up overhead and freeze thousands of miles in subzero temperatures. Entire cities were razed by nuclear weapons, and the cities that did survive disappeared over night. Civilization dispersed and cities were left behind, abandoned in their hurry. Food became sparse and diseases became numerous, Entire plagues swept their way through the world, unable to be stopped. Those that were alive lamented over the end of their world. Hit after hit, natural disaster after natural disaster people suffered. Those that had been too close to radiation started to mutate to survive. But they adapted too slowly and humanity faced mass extinction. As ash rained over the North American continent, survivors prepared to suffocate in their sleep when suddenly the ground beneath the Rocky Mountains opened up.
Those that had escaped into the mountains stared down into the hole and watched as thousands of people rose up from the ground, their bodies so abnormally different than humans that they were in shock. These people were different, stronger and more in tune with the Earth than the people before. Their skin was white as snow, and their hair was long and ink black. Long black lines crawled up their backs and curled around their shoulders, stopping just beneath their ears. Those lines, though, weren’t tattoos. They were power lines, forming at birth. But these people were kind, they reached out to the humans and offered salvation.
They healed the Earth with their own life forces, sacrificing hundreds of their own lives to save Earth and her inhabitants. Where the ground was dry and brittle, battered with never ending heat; they breathed life into it. Green grass started to peek through the sand and rain started to fall from the skies once more. The ozone layer closed slowly over the span of one hundred years. The water receded from the continents, and the people started to prosper once more. It was a time of peace and love.
The people were called the Kukouk, an isolated band of native americans who’d long since been trapped beneath the surface of Earth and adapted. They were forgiving and kind, with the strength of a tiger. But they looked to the future with grief.
While celebrations took off on the first day of 2200, the first Kukouk man had been killed. Two months later during the festival of the Sun, a Kukouk woman had been slaughtered. This time, a halfling. A human mother, and a Kukouk father. She’d been found lying face up in the water, clutching her newborn. Then another, and another. The Kukouk people started to see the pattern. Then the first human was killed by another Kukouk and the nation broke out into anger. They’d held resentment for years, and now, it had finally reared its ugly head. The Kukouk packed up and moved out of the city limits, watching the solar panels fade in the distance. They made a new life out near the northern villages, sticking together in the cold. Half of the tribe went south to search for a warmer life. The two chiefs of the split tribe came together and suggested going back down into the mountains and sealing the passage behind them. They agreed and moved out the next week.
They never made it. The humans came for them in large trucks with even bigger guns. They chanted as they gunned down those that fled. And they laughed as they shredded those that fought. During the fray, the son of the greatest chief was mortally injured and escaped with his life. He lay in a crop field, abandoned and dying when a human woman found his unconscious form and dragged him back into a deep, lush forest close to the fields of fire. What was once known as Yellowstone. She nursed him back to life and fell in love. They had three beautiful halfling children with one on the way when word got out of their existence.
Humans came for the chief, slaughtering his children right in front of him. Tiantok Ashturokma became enraged, and in a bloody fight, he was gunned down by fifty-three bullets. The woman fled for her life, towards the Rocky Mountains. She found the old passage way down into the mountains and followed it. Tian Ashturokma was born two months later beneath the surface of the Earth to a mother who was distant.
Beneath the surface, time passed quickly. At the age of 13, his mother’s face was wrinkled beyond recognition and her hair was ashen grey. She was weakening as if time was passing a lot faster for her then it was the boy. She still held the most beautiful smile, though, and used up her last days to teach him how to read and write both of the languages he was born from.
The next day, he ventured further into the underground world than ever before. He watched the cave birds fly above him and turn their feathery heads in confusion at him. He watched the bugs slink across the walls in fascination and tried imagining how people could live here for so long, and be content in a world so dark. Every day his mother was getting frailer and older.
When he returned the next day, he’d found the fire had died and his mother had laid still on her side, eyes wide open but there was no more life. He’d fallen to his knees and held her head in his lap. He stayed at her side until the gnawing of hunger was too much. He covered her body in a mound of rocks before packing all the stuff he could carry. He turned for the surface and left their home behind with one last look. Ignorant to the future that lay ahead of him.
Tian Ashturokma sighed, closing the book in front of him. He set his pen down and stretched his arms up over his head. He shouldn’t get too far ahead of himself, he had a long book to write, after all. And an even longer story to tell.
“Tian!” A familiar voice shouted and Tian’s heart beat quickly. Even after all those long years.
Only fools started their stories at the massacre of his people. Tian had a knack for being a fool.