I hadn't wanted this assignment. Terrestrial beings, bound to a single world’s surface are as a rule, either newly-evolved, unintelligent, too violent to form a rational, cooperative society, or some combination thereof. Otherwise they’d have joined us already in the Stars and the spaces beyond. We all, however, have our orders. And in a society so rational as that which I am fortunate enough to hail from, once a consensus among the Wise Elders has been reached, any further questioning is taken as social disorder, unbefitting of our kind. Trusting in the Elders’ greater wisdom, I set upon this duty, for the sake of our society, and ours alone.
It is our purpose, those assigned to my duty, to examine, observe new species nearing the cusp of consciousness, to determine ultimately, what course of action towards their civilization would be most rational. And this task, as many others, seemed quite dreary. As the Stars were properly aligned, it was a simple enough matter to project myself towards the target.
The first step in such a task is always an analysis of the target itself. 7.2 * 10^34 singularities along its longest axis. A billion and a hundred-fifty million or so singularities in mass. A carbon-based life-form, fitting approximately the elemental makeup of the planet. Analyzing on a cellular level, the subject’s genetic material appeared encoded in deoxyribonucleic acid, possessing a total of forty-six chromosomes. It was a sexually dimorphic species, and evidently, this particular specimen female. Judging by the lack of fusion in her bones, I’d estimate the subject to have been a child of the species; the maximum estimated height for those of similar genetic heritage being perhaps a factor of 1.75 or so the subject’s height.
Considering her biological sex, notations have been made of a chambered organelle, evidently drawing its origins from an ancient union of unicellular ancestors. Given the biology of sexual reproduction, such mutations of the chambered organelle would be carried solely down female lines. This could allow for potentially fruitful comparison to such DNA of other female specimens.
With a basic biological assessment complete, procedure dictated an analysis of the subject’s neurology. It was, as I’d expected, a rather primitive brain. Electro-chemical in structure, based on interconnected cells, something by nature so easily overridden or damaged by simple chemical interactions. It was little wonder why such creatures had yet to claw their way off this nigh worthless rock.
Most irritatingly, there was a slight complication to my work. A bit of metal lodged rather aberrantly in the specimen’s brain, penetrating several lobes. This, obviously, had been the means of the specimen’s death; and while by the very nature of my work, a freshly-dead specimen was required, the damage to the brain’s structure could prove troublesome.
On a cellular level, the specimen was still, for the most part, alive. Given the right input of energy, it would be a simple matter to induce the brain’s cells to regrow and rebuild the lost connections. Primitive as her species was, repairing the structure of her brain would be no matter; and indeed, within several thousand temporal singularities of the thought, the bullet had begun its arc of falling to the planet’s surface, pushed out by the same energy that stimulated her neurons to rebirth and reconnection. Unfortunately, my initial concerns were confirmed – as this species, in a similar manner to most terrestrials using electro-chemical neurology, stored its data in the form of electrical discharges in the brain, despite the brain’s structural integrity being restored, much of the specimen’s data stored therewithin had been damaged.
A most vexating turn of events. Normally protocol would simply call for an analysis of the subject’s brain for information on the specie’s cultural and material conditions. With the specimen’s brain in this state, an analysis of merely the specimen’s memories would likely be deemed incomplete. An unacceptable conclusion And so, though it would require far more effort than I would like to expend upon such an effectively meaningless task, I determined the only way forward was to observe this species firsthand.
The subject’s memories aside, the brain was functioning sufficiently for control of the body’s motor functions. It would be a simple enough matter then to assume her form, return to her settlement, and make observations thereupon. The first such coded motor action was that of opening the girl’s eyes. Light flooded her opened pupils, momentarily overloading the until-now inactive neurons of the girl’s occipital lobes.
It was now that I first saw the world through her eyes – an altogether unremarkable sight. Unless her particular eyes or occipital neurology were damaged – the latter of which I’d repaired myself, and thus seems a most improbable hypothesis – then human beings were capable of observing only a very narrow band of light frequencies.
Using the girl’s arms, I pushed the body to its feet. A rather odd sensation flooded the brain, electric, raw, buzzing. Had I not been controlling her neurology directly, had it been the girl directly, I’m almost certain she’d have fallen back over. Neural impulses indicating structural damage, effective enough to convey information, but only in a needlessly crude methodology. Based on their particular concentration of origin, they seemed to be emanating from the girl’s right hand, which indeed held moderate to severe structural damage; several of the bones in her fingers had fractured, muscle and skin tissue were warped, several blood vessels ruptured. There seemed signs of a developing infection as well, allowed by the broken skin.
The neural signals – “pain” as the girl would call them – were a mild distraction at most to me. However, as the success of the mission seemed predicated upon as intact a specimen as possible, it seemed rational to repair the girl’s hand as well. Leaving it to her body’s own limited physiology would take far longer than the mission itself, and likely would not ever fully heal properly; but concentrating the proper energies I could heal it nearly effortlessly; a few thousand temporal singularities and the cells began regrowing at a vastly accelerated rate, the infesting bacteria neutralized by precisely directed radiation.
Content that her hand would impede my efforts no longer, the next matter at hand seemed to be finding her settlement. Somewhat oddly, she seemed to have died some distance from any visible human settlements. There were, however, three sets of footprints in the mud – presumably human based upon the size and approximate weight required to produce indentations of such a depth – the two larger sets, certainly adults, leading both up to and away from the hill, the girl’s alone leading only to it. The rational conclusion from such data, then, was that the specimen was led there by two other humans who caused her death by putting that piece of metal into her brain, then left. A rather crude, barbaric species it would seem, but such behaviors are hardly surprising coming from terrestrial races.
Returning my thoughts to the mission, it followed that as the two humans who had killed the specimen likely had brought her from her home, if I were to follow the footprints, I might likely find her point of origin for further study. Yet after only a short distance away, these footprints were replaced by what appeared to be treadmarks of a somewhat heavier terrestrial vehicle. These in turn, I followed to a road. At this point, of course, it was impossible to retrace the path of an individual vehicle; however, in examining the treadmarks left by the vehicle as it left the road, I could deduce its direction immediately prior to leaving the road, and from there determine which of the two presented ways to move.
Somewhat a setback to the mission, the girl’s metabolism didn’t seem to provide altogether much energy; this compounded with her relatively short legs, made the journey a frustratingly tedious one. Often her limited energy stores forced me to stop and rest, or beyond this, seek out edible materials, to preclude further damage to her body. Limited in such a way, a journey of what was only about 10^40 singularities in length took three entire iterations of the planet’s rotation. Aside from a few observations on the planet’s flora and non-sapient fauna, little of value was attained during this time.
When I finally arrived at what seemed to be the nearest human settlement, it was evening. The most notable feature to it was a rather large tower, the closer to which I got, the more detail I could make out. A single human male stood on top of it, a strange metal rod in his hand. I’d have presumed him to have been a guard or sentry of some sort for the village except that his gaze was focused inward. While not entirely certain of his intentions, it seemed reasonable to avoid his attention in approaching the village, if only to avoid the possibility of further damage to the subject’s body.
Approaching yet closer to the village, via the forest running along the road rather than the road itself, hoping to avoid his attention, I came upon a metal, linked fence. For an actual human, this might have been something of an impediment, but for me it was no matter to simply melt a hole and walk through.
Entering the village itself, I came upon a somewhat large metal building. In the relative darkness of night, it was difficult to make out too many of its features the most readily observable being the odor of oxidized metal. There was no door present, so I simply entered rather quietly, attempting to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to myself. Looking around for a moment, I made out the forms of a number of other human children of both sexes, all relatively similar in age to the specimen; they were all asleep, lying on bits of padding on the floor. Judging by their physiology, even in their universally slender forms, it seemed an uncomfortable position, and I wondered why they wouldn’t have produced more accommodating bedding for their own forms.
Regardless, it was the task of my mission to infiltrate their society as seamlessly as possible. Accordingly, now was not the time for such inquiries; as the other human children were sleeping, it seemed most rational to do the same. Laying down in an open spot on the floor, I closed the girl’s eyes and activated a REM cycle.
Various tryptamines flooded the girl’s neuroreceptors causing hallucinations, hallucinations driven by prior memories, subconscious desires and thoughts. It was everything, the essence of her brought forth. Purple amorphous forms first against a black background. Moving entropically, dizzyingly faster and faster. Formless, chaotic, meaningless. Then less and less so. Order, reason began to take over as the girl’s mind rushed to make sense of the data flooding it.
When the images solidified, I – she – it was becoming difficult to distinguish my consciousness from hers in this rather elaborate illusion – was standing on a grassy hill. Not unlike the one I first discovered her on, perhaps, but the tone was very different. The sun was shining; it was warm, but not uncomfortably so. I was running. A beautiful red cloth. Dancing, twirling it around. A woman played music, strings, vibrations. Singing in a pure, tonal language that seemed to resound from earth to the sky above. A man, a tall man, a long flowing raven beard, stood several paces back with a proud grin, clapping to the rhythm.
And then, suddenly as the images came, they went. There was darkness. A perceivable fear – though without a known object. Shouting. It materialized again. A house. The same woman before, but she was crying. Told me to run, hide. The man from before ran out. Ran with a metal rod like I’d seen the man on the tower holding. More men came running. Different men, hostile men. The bearded man shot the rod at them, they shot back. A few of the invaders were halted by the bearded man’s attack, but he too succumbed to theirs, falling to the ground in pain and clutching his chest.
Something imperceptible took over me. Fear, anguish, hatred, all boiling up at once. There was no logic in it, but I couldn’t stop myself. I ran, ran as fast as my legs could take me. Ran towards the bearded man, knelt over him and starting screaming. “Father!” Over and over again I shouted it, tears trickling down my cheeks. The woman came running too. Shouted for me to run. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave him. He couldn’t leave me. It wasn’t real. Those horrible, horrible men hadn’t actually killed him.
Then a rougher hand took my shoulder. A tall man, though without any of my father’s kindness. A long scar running down his right cheek. Black hair tied into a tight ponytail. Cold, uncaring coal eyes looking down at the woman and I.
“Such ingratitude,” the scarred man chided, shaking his head slowly. “We brought you food, water, the clothes on your back. We gave you the very roof over your heads. And in turn, not only could you not do your work properly, you raised arms against us, your providers for whom you already owed so great a debt. My mercy, I’m afraid has run out. No more concessions. You work off your debts, or you join him.”
And with that, the scarred man turned off to walk away, leaving the woman and I alone. I wanted so badly to pursue him, to hurt him, to make him suffer for what he’d done to my father, to all of us. Make him feel a double portion of the misery he’d made us endure all this time. But there was nothing I, a weak, partially malnourished child, could think to do against him and his armed thugs. Nothing but cry and mourn my father’s death.
I awoke that morning with a start at the sound of one of the children prodding me. “Koppa, you’re back?” There was a childish curiosity evident in the boy’s tone, but something else too, something more wary, an ominous undertone. As if they hadn’t expected me to return.
I tried my best to clear my own mind of the images I’d just witnessed and concentrate on the task of maintaining my cover for the mission. As the linguistic centers of the girl’s brain were relatively undamaged, filtering my thoughts through them, I would be able to communicate in their language sufficiently. Evidently the girl whose body I was inhabiting was named “Koppa”. It was unlikely that the boy would have known the exact manner of her death, but given that he was surprised to see me alive, he must have been able to at least partially guess what had happened. “I…” I paused, somewhat surprised at hearing the girl’s voice for the first time. “I’m back yes. I just went to have my injuries looked at.”
In the most literal sense, such was true, and I further reasoned that, seeing as how Koppa’s hand seemed to have been injured prior to her death, the other children might have known she was injured. That would account both for the cause of her disappearance the past few days, and her present lack of injuries.
“So you mean…” a girl asked, still looking a bit wary of me. “They really did treat you? You’re not a ghost…?”
A ghost? What absurd superstitions. Though I suppose given their young ages and the primitive nature of the species they hailed from, such a suggestion was to be expected. And, upon consideration, it actually wasn’t that far off.
“Of course I’m not a ghost; don’t be silly…” I responded, even adding a rather innocent, childlike laugh at the end. To drive the point further, I even went around touching each of the children with my newly-healed hand. The first few seemed nervous, but after this, they seemed to accept my assertion well enough.
Just as I’d tried to turn the conversation to details more pressing to our mission – the nature of the village, its history and customs – a man came to the door, armed with one of the same metal rods, and stoically informed us that it was time to begin work. A bit reluctantly – as I’d like to have had further opportunity to converse with the children after convincing them of my disguise – I made my way with the others to what seemed to be a large, metallic factory – the latter deduced by observation of the inordinate amount of gaseous byproducts of combustion that were escaping vents at the top.
The children filed in from a number of such “houses” as I’d slept in the prior night, making their way towards a number of machines. Far more primitive than anything I was accustomed to, but their purpose, from what I could examine, walking in with the others and attempting not to stand out, seemed to be that of weaving various fibers together into a composite fabric – the end product similar in some ways to the red cloth from my dream.
It was, however, swelteringly hot inside. It was uncomfortable enough when one couldn’t find shade, but inside the heat seemed trapped, refracted, making it all the more miserable. None of the children seemed to complain, instead meekly taking their places at the machines. I stood for perhaps a moment too long observing, for one of the guards grunted, pointing me toward one of the machines in particular.
It was involved of multiple moving parts, pulling one row of parallel vertical filaments into mesh with those horizontal to form a composite fabric. It seemed, by my own standards, quite antiquated – but effective enough I supposed for the rather simple task to which it was assigned. While its utilization – pulling one lever across the other, seemed quite mindless, there was some degree of danger to it, as one’s hand would have to pull out quickly enough to avoid being crushed by the moving parts.
Incidentally, there seemed to be residue of blood on that part of the machine. Pausing for a moment, I scraped a bit of the residue off, then put the finger in my mouth, licking it off. Indeed, I was met with the rather metallic taste of human, hemoglobin-based blood. The reflexes from Koppa’s body made me want to spit it out, but the mandate of the mission called for me analyzing it. As suspected, the DNA was a direct match to Koppa’s – the implications being that this was where she’d first been injured, apparently causing the two others to take her into the forest and kill her.
The implications, taken to their furthest end, were somewhat disturbing. As it was likely that Koppa’s killers were present in this village, it stood to reason that, upon seeing her body, they might attempt to cause her further harm. I personally, was in no extant danger, projecting my consciousness from unfathomable millions of light-years away, but if her body was damaged too greatly, it could hamper my own further research.
The most rational course of action would be to do as little as possible to draw attention to myself. The machine I was assigned to was quite simple, if a bit tiring to Koppa’s body, to operate. I was almost lulled into a hypnotic state by the monotony of it, until nearly slipping and injuring Koppa’s hand once more. The resulting surge of adrenaline would have made it yet harder for a human to concentrate; fortunately it took little effort for me to ignore it and return to the task at hand.
While operating the machine, I’d been periodically surveying the room. The other children seemed similarly single-mindedly fixated on their rather monotonous tasks, and periodically, armed adults would walk past us, presumably to ensure we continued in our work. I was growing aware, however, of bits of hushed conversation by other children, always ceasing instantly as I turned to observe them. It seemed that despite my earlier efforts at maintaining my disguise, the other children were still somewhat suspicious of me.
Particularly as Koppa’s metabolism was beginning to weaken – which if taken too far could hamper my investigation – I began to become increasingly anxious to leave the factory; both for purpose of consuming edible material to restore her energy, and further as an opportunity to observe more social interactions of this community. It so happened as just as such thoughts were beginning to become more than a minor irritation, I was approached by two armed figures – one exceedingly fat, much at odds with at least all the children present; the other quite lanky, with a rather odd impediment to his right eye.
“We need to have a word with you.” The fat man grunted at me.
And with that, the two men grabbed either of my arms, beginning to drag me away. There was something obviously bellicose to their actions, yet there was little I could do. Koppa’s muscles, small and starved for energy as they were, provided little resistance to the two larger figures. I had, of course, other methodologies at my disposal for dealing with threats, but utilizing them here in front of the other children, and thus destroying my cover would compromise the mission. There was nothing I could do but be dragged along with them.
“Where are you taking me?!” I demanded, earning a firm smack to the cheekbone via the skinny man’s other hand. I fell to the ground momentarily, pain once more overriding Koppa’s motor functions. Yet more pain radiated from my arms as the two yanked me back to my feet, dragging me with them behind the factory. Stopping there, they threw me against the wall with nearly enough force to fracture a bone. Had that been the case, I certainly would have exterminated those primitive terrestrial bipeds then and there in retribution.
“So you were clever were you? Surviving that shot, pretending to be dead and walking back here? Leave it to Alak to fuck up something so simple as shooting a bitch in the head?” The skinny man sneered at the fat man, before turning back to me maliciously “Looks like Alak I just need to finish the job.”
So that was it? These two humans were threatening me? A being of a race capable of such things as their small minds could not even comprehend. Only the matter of maintaining my cover restrained me, and as they threatened to harm Koppa’s body, which would further compromise the mission, even that restraint was rapidly fading.
“Let. Me. Go!” I snarled at them. Unfortunately, the girl’s rather soft voice, and the tonal nature of their language reduced the desired intimidation significantly. Regardless, it was the last, and only warning these impudent humans would get for interfering in my research.
The two laughed, jeering that I had a lot of lip to stand up to them. Perhaps, had it been Koppa herself, they might have been right. Had they known who they truly threatened that moment, surely they’d have fallen to the ground and begged for mercy. Typical inferiors. Like most of their species. Unaware of the great, needless danger to which they subjected themselves.
“C’mon Alak, let’s kill the bitch right this time.” And with that, the two raised the metal rods, pointing them at me. Sensing the impending danger, I briefly disconnected my consciousness from Koppa’s brain. As the two pressed a lever on each of their rods, a bit of metal shot outwards, spinning with relatively strong gyroscopic force, travelling towards Koppa’s head. Processing the information much more rapidly than a human brain would, it took very little effort to hold the bullets motionless in the air for a few moments, sneering at the two thugs – now several shades more pale, turning to run, though altogether too slow for their own two metal fragments I whipped back towards each of their heads with over a hundredfold the velocity they’d shot at me with.
The force of it knocked the two of them to the ground, lifeless, head first. Skulls shattered, bits of brain, blood, and bone lying here and there. I nodded once, stoically, looking over their corpses – if they could even properly be called that. A slightly unfortunate development – not insomuch that those two had to die; they’d threatened a being ineffably more powerful than themselves, and so such was to be expected – but in that, when their bodies were discovered, further questions might be placed on my identity.
Still, I considered, I might as well examine the bodies. There was little more to be learned anatomically about humans after I’d already observed Koppa’s own body so thoroughly, but I could at least make comparison of their DNA. Bending down, I collected a sample of each man’s blood on my tongue.
Before I had a chance for analysis, yet more armed men, about twenty or so, appeared; these approaching more cautiously. I was told that a certain man, “the boss”, wished to see me; that if I cooperated with them, I was not to be harmed, and further, might be well rewarded. While the prospect of being led around by humans was hardly appealing, and whatever “rewards” a terrestrial species might think to offer me would be immaterial, it did stand to reason that I held a much better chance of observing their society by cooperating than by killing these ones as well. Accordingly, I acquiesced.
I was led back into the factory building, past the work floor filled with a strange, awed silence as the children watched us march past, to a rather large wooden door. Following it were wooden stairs and yet another wooden door. The air was notably cooler here, and lacked much of the rather pungent odor that permeated the factory floor behind us. One of the men knocked on this second door, and a rather deep voice replied.
“Yes, bring her in.”
At the man inside’s word, the thug opened the door, ushering me inside, the other thugs following behind. The room was rather large, filled with bookshelves on either side of the wall, specimens of various organisms preserved, various trinkets of metal, and a rather large desk, occupied by a certain man. The man who’d called us to enter. The scarred man. The man from my dream.
“So I hear you’ve been causing quite a stir…?”
Partly from my own dislike, partly from Koppa’s reflexes, I stepped back.
“Oh, don’t worry.” The scarred man continued, offering a smile in which all but one tooth – notably the top, center-left one – were present. “I’m not upset. In fact, I think I’m really beginning to like you. Pito and Alak were good enough muscle I suppose, but their lot is expendable enough. Amusing, isn’t it, to think that they still thought you were just a weak little girl? No mere girl could have survived that shot. You see, I know what you are. I’ve seen what you’ve done,” He motioned to the window, overlooking the rear of the factory where I’d moments before killed the two mentioned thugs. “You’re something more than that. Certainly with what you just did out there, people like you are far, far more valuable to me.”
I blinked, derisive at the thought that the man could possibly claim to understand my identity, waiting to hear exactly what this rather verbose man was going to propose, already having somewhat a distaste for whatever it was.
“You see,” he continued. “I’d like to think of myself as a fairly prosperous businessman. And, well, having someone as power you as an enemy is obviously bad for business. If we worked together though, I think we could go far. We’d be partners. Partners in some of the wealthiest ventures the world has to offer. What do you say?”
I frowned. His offer, however appealing perhaps to a human, meant nothing to me. Further, my mission was only to last a few more of this world’s rotations – I doubted whatever “business plans” he would have could be concluded so briefly.
“Not really interested…” I mused dully. “My only concern is observing this village, then leaving. Why would I want to spend my whole life making cloth?”
“That, I’m afraid, I cannot allow. You’re simply too valuable a commodity to let go that easily. My word is law in this town. I own the factory. I’m the mayor. The police, my guards, they all listen to me. The army in turn comes to our aid if we have to deal with pesky little workers getting out of line…
And this little cloth,” the man pointed to some material hanging on the wall. “There are men across the sea. Rich men. Stupid men. They pay me fifty, sixty times the cost it takes to pay these stupid workers to produce it. Work with me and we’ll be wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.”
My frown grew. This man was growing more and more odious by the moment. His insipid patronizing aside, his goals were simply not compatible with mine. Once more, it took tremendous restraint to not destroy him then and there as I had the other two.
“Well, what is it you want from me then?” I asked tonelessly.
“What do I want? What anyone in this world wants really? Wealth, money, silver, gold…”
How crude. This species was still so primitive in its development as to base all its value – apparently more value than even lives of other members of its species on pieces of paper and bits of metal. Little wonder they were so barbaric and violent.
“Silver?” I questioned, my eyes lighting up dangerously, holding out my hand. There was more than enough ambient energy and atoms present to produce a fusion reaction with end product silver. As a mass of pure silver suspended by an energy field grew hovering above my hand I continued, “Atomic number 47, atomic mass 107.8682…. Gold…” I continued, fusing gold in a similar manner in my other hand. “Atomic number 79, atomic mass 196.966569. Is this what you want? Is this what you destroy your fellow human beings for?”
“Yes, yes…” the man replied, his eyes seeming to gleam with lust.
“If I give you these, I can go?”
“We’ll see. Just let me have them…”
“Not yet.” I shook my head. It wasn’t so much a matter of wanting to keep them for myself; with ambient energy this high, it’s a relatively easy matter to fuse such elements. However, the fusion reactions produce extreme quantities of heat – thus requiring me to levitate them in a force field above Koppa’s hands to keep them safe. “It’s not ready yet.”
The man sneered. “I’ll just see what a little bitch like you says I can and can’t have,” coming forward, lunging at me.
“Fine.” I retorted. “Have them.” And with that, I threw the two superheated bits of metal at the man. His brain wouldn’t even have time to register the pain as his body vaporized, superheating the air. I had to quickly react to put up a force field to shield Koppa’s body from the radiating heat, having the byproduct of shielding the man’s thugs as well.
Unfortunately for them, rather than being grateful for my actions, they too turned their metal rods at me. Based on the numbers, it would be more difficult now for me to deflect each and every projectile individually, but that was no real matter. A simple electromagnetic wave worked well enough for the task, pulling the projectiles back with as the wave itself struck the belligerent parties. The immediate cause of death in their instance would be a complete cessation of all neural activity.
A rather notable side-effect, however, and secondary possible cause of death would be the near instantaneous draining of all blood from the victims’ bodies. Their blood’s hemoglobin holds ferromagnetic properties, and thus was pulled significantly more forcibly by the wave than the rest of their bodies’ constituents, effectively forcing it all out of them. The wave itself was attracted to the bolt of cloth their boss had previously mentioned, soaking it in the red fluid.
It looked remarkably similar to the cloth from my dream. So much so that Koppa’s subconscious, for a moment, took over. Before I’d even consciously realized what the body was doing, I was dancing out into the factory, twirling the red, still dripping cloth behind me. Wanting to analyze its contents, I put some of the cloth in my mouth, sucking on it, still smiling almost ferally with a certain wave of pleasure rising over me.
The children were there. Staring. Watching. Mostly in horror, disbelief. Some started to run, most were still fixated on the strange display.
“It’s me, Koppa.” I called, “There’s no need to be afraid. I’ve killed our oppressors. We’re free now.”
Slowly the children approached one at a time, taking my hand as I held it out. Curiosity overcame fear, and they crowded me, nearly suffocatingly so. We marched together out from the factory, singing. The air outside was clearer. Driven by the noise, other armed men came, but I easily dispatched them before they could aim their rods. Blood drenched the ground, yet the children and I were safe. The songs grew louder, louder yet.
And then came others yet. Adults, older humans, yet unarmed. Also impoverished, malnourished from the looks of things. Perhaps from other nearby factories in the village. There was almost a frenzied feel to things, hands flying up into the air, religious praises perhaps being offered. For the first time in what seemed ages to them, these humans were free.
“How did you do it Koppa?” one of the children asked, trying to pull me aside from the ever-growing crowd.
“It was easy.” I replied, internally a bit glad he still thought of me as ‘Koppa’. “I mean, there’s more of us than there are of them. I don’t know why we didn’t just do this before.”
“Yes, but, we didn’t have your powers.”
“Neither did they.” I mused.
The child was still reflecting on this when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned around to see a woman – a familiar woman, the one from my dreams, standing behind me.
“Koppa,” she whispered. “I thought I’d never see you again.” Tears of joy rained down her face as she pressed her lips to my forehead, releasing a few cells. Analyzing the DNA, I found Koppa and this woman had identical organelle DNA and very similar general DNA. Thus, this woman was a direct maternal ancestor – considering her age, very likely Koppa’s mother.
“Mother…” I replied softly, returning her embrace. “I’ve come back. Back to free us…” It was a necessary deception to continue the act.
“Thank the heavens for keeping you safe…”
And with that a loud bang. A great force; I was flung from Koppa’s mother’s arms to the ground, painfully. Another, another. Bits of dirt and stone flung in every direction, some far-off projectiles being aimed at the village.
“It’s the military!” one of the villagers shrieked. “Protect Koppa!”
Leaping to my feet, I rushed as quickly as my body would allow towards the approaching troops. Shot after shot was met by wave after wave. Their vehicles and projectiles of metal were easily downed, their bodies easily shredded; but they had numbers while I stood alone, trapped in a human body so easily destroyed. Screams emerged from all directions – ahead of me from wounded and dying soldiers, behind me from villagers in the same condition.
The army could be stopped, I posited, but only at great cost to the villagers’ lives. Perhaps it was merely because my thoughts were processed through Koppa’s mind, but that seemed an unacceptable end. Running back towards the village, I touched another villager, bestowing upon him my abilities – the waves, the healing, manipulation of matter and energy. Everything but the technologies themselves that let us roam the stars.
“We can fight back now.” I shouted over the roar of artillery fire, “Give it to the others.”
With the villagers fighting together, the army was quickly repelled, at least that wave. All throughout the night, there was an uncomfortable silence periodically broken by raids, but these too slowed with passing time.
Somehow amidst the chaos, I found my way back towards Koppa’s mother. Once more she embraced me, expressing her deepest gratitude that I was still alive.
Uncomfortably, I realized that the mother’s hopes were, presently at least, based on a lie. I, personally, though inhabiting her body, was not Koppa. And with the mission to end, soon enough, from the mother’s perspective, Koppa’s body would die again, renewing her sorrow needlessly. Under normal circumstances, such concerns would not be of any value to the mission – however, strictly speaking, I reasoned, as I’d led the villagers to believe Koppa was alive, causing her to seemingly die would only further interfere with their culture, further violating the terms of the mission. At least, that’s how I would justify it.
“I must confess,” I said, turning to the mother, “I’m not actually Koppa.”
She looked at me in such fright I feared she might overload her neurology.
“However,” I quickly continued, “I can bring her back. I’ll go to sleep now, and when this body wakes up, it will be her. I only ask that you do what you can with the powers I’ve given you to make a better world for her to live in.” Koppa’s eyes closed, I could feel human arms, her mother’s no doubt, holding her body as I disconnected from her brain a final time, resparking the girl’s own consciousness.
Final Report: In summary, the rather hubristically self-designated Homo sapiens is typical of a sapient species early into its terrestrial development. They seem, as a species, exceedingly violent, willing to kill other members of their own species over bits of paper or metal. A few with access to such paper and rods of metal seem to have enslaved the rest of humanity who, if recognizing their slavery at all, are generally unwilling to confront it. As it presently stands, Homo sapiens is most at risk of extinction from its own irrational behavior, and as such, while exceedingly violent, because of its relatively primitive technological state, poses no large threat to the universe at large.
However, in the course of my research, I encountered a group of humans possibly an exception to some of the above stated characteristics. I have found it best in our interests, and those of humanity, to assist this faction of Homo sapiens in its development. Further observation into human development seems highly intriguing.