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"Survival"

Jamin Robinson

     The night before the invasion had been a joyous one. For that day society had paused in the cultivation of the fields of their lives to give thanks and to gain a rest that they had earned. They earned this rest with the constant beating of their hearts, with each breath, with their survival on this new planet that they had named Rocom. Every day had been a struggle to find food that they could eat in an unfamiliar environment. Several of them had to be behind thirty years ago as they made a hasty exodus from the planet that had supported their species for countless years.

     On that planet, which they left so long ago, they had left many of their scientific achievements. They had used these achievements to help to restore their home planet's life and beauty. This was done out of necessity however, for they needed to after several centuries of simply raping from the environment of the planet. They had gone to the edge of global environmental disaster, pushing it right up to the point that the ice caps of the planet were giving way under the intense heat that was accumulating from their industries. After realizing that they would soon destroy their own planet, the people turned their creativity and money away from war machines to create machines that would give back to the planet that had supported them. For several years they nursed their home world into a virtual Eden, replenishing its water supply and replacing nutrients in the soil. With the planet's renewed health, the people flourished, experiencing a peace that was unparalleled by any other in their history.

     Now the ball of dirt that was formerly their home orbited hopelessly in space, a deathtrap for any living creature. The invaders had taken all they could from the planet and left a husk behind. From space, it seemed to be much like a planet overrun by pea soup, the atmosphere filled with toxins and poisons left by the invaders. The land, now constantly beaten by cruel winds, had given up all hopes of re-growing the once proud forests that once supplied shelter to the several species of animals that were now extinct. In the landscape, shells of mountains could be seen, slowly collapsing in on themselves, hollow from countless mining operations. Every night, as the sun set over these silent sentinels, the sky would flash brilliant colors as the chemicals in the sky could be seen. An awesome sight, if any living thing could survive long enough on the surface to see it.

     Now, on Rocom, they tried to repeat the success that they had found on their home world before the invaders came. The journey to their new home had been a long and hard one, so many had died in the makeshift barges that had carried them into the unknown. When they had finally landed on a suitable planet, they did have some difficulties taming the surrounding wild lands. These barges were later converted into the first meeting houses, since they would never be used again, providing safe shelter and storage from the dangerous environment. It had appeared that the planet had sensed that there were strange creatures walking on its surface. As if in response to their presence, the dirt seemed to be a little harder to break into to grow crops, the local animals seemed to stay in hiding for longer, and the clouds held on to their rain until the last possible moment. Local packs of predatory beasts had hunted the youth of their villages for years, leaping over the fences and walls and returning to the wild with wailing infants in their jaws. The number of the strangers always seemed to be kept in check by the forces of nature, as if they were sheep and the planet their shepherd.

     Yet, the people survived through this, proving that their presence would benefit the planet. In all their efforts, they always remembered where they had received the food, and had returned to the planet a hundredfold of what they took. With time, they had adapted to live comfortably on this new world and it had embraced them. They lived in small villages, each with no more than two hundred people, spread sporadically throughout the countryside. They had found and explored the mountains and sailed the countless seas. It was possible to live comfortably but only if you earned the privilege with hard work and constant perseverance.

     The work ethic had paid off in this village. The people, with their silvery tools gleaming in the soft moonlight as they rested on the ground for the first time, closed the large doors to the food store that would keep them alive for the bitter winter ahead. Fires were lit, the light reflecting off ornamental costumes. One small child danced and twirled with her doll pretending to be one of the dancers. A celebration had begun. The members of the village who did not work in the fields had spent months preparing for the celebration of the Turnover, a time when they gave thanks to the land. The dances that were practiced had been designed to symbolize the return of the land to the planet after a successful harvest. The food prepared would be the best any of them had ever experienced. Music and the sounds of voices wafted through the sky that night, only to be torn asunder by the scream of distant rocket propulsion.

     The sky was suddenly ablaze with small ships, each manned by one of the creatures. They swooped down, lasers tearing into homes and bodies indiscriminately. The people had started to scream moments after the attack had begun, but no sound could be heard above the sound of the engines that powered these machines. As they scattered for shelter, the invaders mowed everything in their sights down. The only thing they didn't touch was the food house. As soon as the villagers were gone, large cargo ships dropped out of orbit to rest easily on the ground. Countless workers were pushed out in suits designed to protect them from the poisonous air, forced to collect the food and return it to the ship. Five minutes passed and they were finished, propulsion systems pushing them back into the sky, where they would find another village. Like locusts leaving a now barren field, they left looking for more food. Later they would return to gain what they could from the land. For this was how they survived now. After destroying their own planet countless years ago, and being unable to find a planet to support them, they were forced to adopt this lifestyle of pillaging.

     As the last ship left, becoming a tiny dot in the night sky, the small girl, illuminated by the flames of her home, wandered out from the forest. She had seen the things that had stolen her food and her chance to survive. She clutched her doll tightly and ran into the woods searching for anyone who might be alive. She had been the first to be born on this new planet and was given the name of Gajame, meaning survivor in her alien tongue. She had survived to see the remainder of the human race.




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