History for Dummies - Part Two
Alex hesitated at the doorway. Last thing he wanted was to meet another psycho on this ship, and the other side of this door no doubt led to exactly that. One more freak to turn his life into chaos. No sir, Alex did not need, nor want, that.
"What is it?" Katlyn asked. She shifted her eyes toward the door, scanning it for the cause of Alex's reason for stopping.
Clenching his fists, Alex drew in a long breath through his nose. His close proximity to Katlyn took his mind off the impending horror. That tempting, all-natural scent of a woman always shook him to the core. Mixed with--what was that, strawberries? Must be her shampoo.
Charged, yet still dreading this meeting, Alex headed through the door.
Green assaulted Alex's vision, followed immediately by the floral strike to his nose. A virtual forest stretched out before him. Trees (trees?) of quite an assortment stood erect around him. Not really one for botany, Alex couldn't tell what the trees were, but he was fairly sure some of them shouldn't be coexisting in the same place--never mind the fact that they existed at all on a starship. The metal grating underneath his feet gave way to soil as he stepped farther into the room.
"I wasn't expecting this," Katlyn whispered next to Alex's ear. As her warm breath tickled at his ear, it took everything he had to suppress a shudder.
Alex, without really thinking about keeping his voice low, whispered, "Suppose there's some benefit here." His eyes scanned the walls only to find a mossy covering and more large, leafy plants everywhere he ventured to look. "Maybe to keep the passengers sane? What am I saying? If that's the case this experiment has failed."
"Or maybe it's just a hobby," a deep male voice said.
Startled at the new, loud voice, Alex jumped, swooping behind Katlyn. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment, eyes unwilling to look up for fear of discovering a rather disappointed look staring down at him. Smooth move hiding behind the woman, Alex thought. All his expectations, and then all the craziness of finding plants, it wasn't his fault. He just dove behind the first thing he could find... and that just happened to be Katlyn. Had there been any real danger, well, he would have done the same thing. But for now he told himself he would have pulled her to safety, too.
Once Katlyn moved away--she said nothing, thankfully; Alex didn't know if he could take such an utterly devastating jab from Katlyn right now--the wall of ferns directly ahead parted and an elderly man stepped through.
"You must be our two new recruits. Come to entertain an old man, have you?" Despite his age, which had to be nearing the hundreds if Alex were to guess, his eyes contained a life that didn't seem to be ready to surrender any time soon. "No, of course not. Nobody comes to entertain an old man. They come for answers to questions. Follow me."
They walked along a dirt path through the greenery. Already the humid air here took its toll on Alex, sweat rolling down his neck. Either this room was the biggest room in the ship or all the plant-life made it seem ten times bigger, in any event, by the time they reached a small clearing in the middle of the trees, Alex would have sworn they'd been walking for at least ten minutes.
A single chair and table occupied the clearing. Alex started to move toward the chair but a sharp glare from Katlyn made him reconsider the desire to sit there. A good choice for the old man, Anthony, sank his weary bones down into the chair and huffed a sigh of relief.
"That obvious?" Katlyn asked. She sat on the grassy surface of the floor beside a tree, legs crossed underneath her. Nature wasn't one of Alex's most favorite of things so he opted to just stand.
"No," Anthony said with a chuckle. "Sela told me you'd be coming."
"This is all your doing and it's just a hobby?"
Anthony nodded. "I'm a fugitive just like all the others, so it's safest for me to stay on this ship. While I can accept that... I can't stand being away from such beauty, such life. Enough about me, though--you came to get a history lesson, correct?"
Alex shuffled his feet, crossing and uncrossing his arms. Comfort didn't seem to be an option here. "That's right. What are these Elders we keep hearing about? Why exactly are all of you criminals?" He didn't really need an answer to that particular question.
Anthony fell silent, collecting his thoughts maybe, or just trying to find his thoughts. No telling with these ancient people. The only sound filled the air was the steady breathing of the three people present and the humming and buzzing of insects. Blinking, Alex glanced around for the first time noticing the sound of bugs. Yeeech. Bugs. Right on cue, something bit his neck, his hand automatically slapping at the irritated skin.
"I'm going to be perfectly honest with you two. I don't believe your story at all. That said, I'm sure you have your reasons and I'll allow you those reasons whether I understand them or not."
Katlyn didn't even flinch at the notion. Alex admired her ability to stay in character even when called on the blatant lie.
"We'll assume your story is true for the purposes of bringing you up to speed. That means your ancestors were on the ships that fled Earth after humanity almost destroyed themselves. Does that ring true to what you were taught as children?"
"Yes," Katlyn said.
"Okay. Interpol sealed off Earth after that in an effort to prevent as much looting as possible and the general idea was to let Earth be so she could repair herself. The ships that weren't lost ended up colonizing planets in several other galaxies. Those trips were indeed long, though, and everything that set out from Earth was long dead before they were able to find suitable planets. Still, suitable planets were a rarity and humanity struggled to stay alive.
"About two-hundred years after the exodus, first contact with, as far as anyone knows, the only other life in the universe, occurred. First contact didn't go so well. Battle was waged and half our ships were destroyed before the aliens fell. As far as they knew, these aliens were destroyed and we heard nothing from them for the next two hundred years.
"Then, they reappeared, stronger and wiser. We launched a preemptive strike in order to prevent the deaths from before. This time, the aliens destroyed all our ship. That was when the war started. We didn't even know what they looked like but we found out they are far more advanced. Boy did we ever.
"For the next fifty years, we kept sending out ship after ship, each time with a bigger, stronger fleet. And each time, we were annihilated, barely doing any damage at all to them."
After meeting the people on this ship, Alex feared a many great things for humanity in the future. Apparently, those fears were not too far fetched.
Anthony continued. "75 years into the war, we'd finally amassed a fleet of epic proportions. Over 500 ships, all top of the line, newly developed, ready for anything. They intercepted the alien fleet and the final battle took place. In less than an hour, half our fleet was destroyed. An hour after that, with less than 100 ships remaining, a young lieutenant that had taken command of the fleet after all the others above him had died, called off the assault and did what all of those before him refused to do. Against direct orders to establish no contact with the aliens--there was some kind of fear that they might be able to brainwash us through communications--the lieutenant opened a direct line of communications with the aliens.
"He had a lot going for him until he disobey that order and negotiated our complete surrender with those aliens. Before he was executed, in his final words, he said he did what had to be done in order to save humanity. Frankly, his shipmates should have killed him long before then. But none of them had what it took to take charge. His negotiations emboldened the aliens.
"They flew directly to Earth, guns hot, ready for anything we might try. Despite the treasonous act by that lieutenant, the government decided the time to stop this war had come. They renegotiated a surrender with the aliens. The terms of that surrender gave power to these aliens. While their agenda is never fully known, today they have seized nearly all control of the government. They're peaceful claims are a cover for the relentless dismantling of humanity. Already they've infiltrated our schools under the guise of merging human and Elder technology to form a new, more stable, more advanced technology. Our children are brainwashed by these creatures. The first generation of Elder taught children is now ruling the universe with several more generations hot on their heels."
"The Pure League is about human technology without the alien advances?" Alex shook his head. "What do they hope to accomplish against a superior brand?"
"We've accomplished much in those twenty-five years since peace was establish. But those prior accomplishments will mean nothing if we can't bring the Elders down. We'd intercepted millions of documents and communications between the Elders. They plan, as much as we can piece together, will be the end of humanity."
"What is their plan?" Katlyn asked.
"Their plan is to enslave our race. The Elders cannot exist in our time without a human host to contain their... essence, their being." Anthony held up a hand as Katlyn was about to speak. "How did they attack in the first place? They've been taking human hosts throughout all of human history. Do you think all those alien abduction stories from so long ago were the work of loonies? Even then, some say, our governments were aware of this threat in space, yet they did nothing."
Alex boggled. "This makes no sense. None at all. If these aliens are so advanced, why are they bothering with all this dicking around? Why don't they just get it over with and be done? Come on, they're more advanced than us yet they're helping us to evolve our technology so they can just destroy us down the line? Not sounding right to me."
Katlyn nodded, eyebrows slightly raised as she waited for the answer to that.
"Two reasons. A human host cannot reproduce once it's been infested with an Elder. That makes things extremely difficult for the scenario they are trying to bring about. If humanity is destroyed, how will they get hosts? Right now, as we speak, the Elders and human scientists are at work trying to figure out why the human host can no longer reproduce."
It was a good reason, Alex admitted. "And the other reason?"
"Our technology, while primitive to theirs, has proven resourceful. By merging the two technologies, the Elders are effectively creating a new technology level that surpasses even their own. But, again, they can't do this alone. All these advancements are coming because of humans and Elders working together."
"Which explains why they went after the schools first." Alex frowned, rubbing at the bites on the back of his neck. "If they can get complete power through shaping our children's minds, they can do anything they want, whenever they want."
"They have most of humanity fooled. Already people look upon the Pure League as those that truly want to destroy humanity. The Elders have thoroughly indoctrinated all of our children for the past twenty-five years into believing their only true goal is to help advance the human race into a more stable realm of existence."
All those cheap Hollywood movies with their countless evil aliens that everyone scoffed at turned out to be more right than anyone would know for several hundred years. Alex leaned against the rough bark of a tree lost in a daze of information that threatened to overload his brain.To be continued...