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The Other Breed
by Carola "Ryűchan" Eriksson
Humanity thought it was the pinnacle of creation. That mankind was the rulers of the Earth simply because they stood highest on the evolutionary ladder.
They did not know that mankind was just... the second breed.
It was in the beginning of the 21st century and I'm told people were weary of wars and diseases, mainly concerned with the continuing pollution of the world, and computers were the most important and treasured possession and tool that man held. Man-made constructs were exploring Mars, while ironically the vast oceans of Earth itself remained untouched and uncharted by man's folly.
I have been told that the Internet was the first to go... overseas TV-broadcasts came next, and people stared uncomprehending at their dark screens, not grasping the monumental thing that had just occurred.
Local TV managed to stay up for a moment, fighting static just long enough to instil a general sense of mind-numbing fear and panic into people, before that too went down. A few more resourceful individuals managed to get the radio systems of old to work, and to mankind's credit, within days people all over the world had tuned in and gathered around their old radios to receive the painstakingly collected information broadcasted from a radio station in Cape Town.
They had arrived.
The irony was that THEY were not anything like what mankind had imagined an encounter with an extraterrestrial species to be... but then again, they were not. They did not come in big shiny saucers, floating in the skies above the major cities of the world. No, they came in undetectable vessels in the oceans, out of sight and out of reach of primitive human safety measures.
Humans would have remained unaware of their locations had They not come ashore. They did nothing, merely entered coastal cities and coastal stretches to watch momentarily before returning to the seas... they did nothing back then, just... observed.
Once mankind had determined that They existed, and where They were, the destruction of communication lines across the globe was perceived to be an act of aggression, and the united armies of the world amassed to strike back.
In a move as negligent as the swipe of the hand that waves an irritating fly away from one's face, They responded. And the armies, the warfare power of humanity, was not just defeated or destroyed, but completely eradicated.
In that one swift move, mankind lost all ability not just to do more then simply aim a gun at the newcomers, but all ability to take to the skies or cross the great oceans as well. Mankind was as it once had in ages past, each trapped upon it's own piece of soil, and in generations to come the idea of crossing these great divides became as ludicrous as walking on the moon.
I do not know what time these events spanned, but I know that eventually, when mankind had no more weapons to stave off the darkness of night than the occasional and ineffectual shotgun, They moved in.
Earth has been conquered and mankind put in colonies, much like the wildlife mankind in turn had denied the right to live freely and instead placed within secure boundaries where they could be studied in what man perceived to be their 'wild' and 'natural' state.
And mankind was indeed studied, and tested. Caught oh so easily, then measured, marked and tagged, like the beasts they were. Some were put down for defective genetic strains, while others relocated, regardless of family or social bonds, to other places where They perceived there was a shortage of strong males or reproductive females, or even a shortage of young to rejuvenate the flock.
There was no difference between mankind and the animals they had shared the Earth with anymore.
Some of Them moved onto dry land, and man-farms were built, breeding humans according to Their design. And that is where the story becomes personal.
In these breeding farms, humans were bred to be pets. Much like humanity once had bred dogs in accordance to traits to get different breeds, They altered their human breeders genetically to obtain pets of a more pleasing nature. In Their tongue, this breed of humans are called Purebred.
Humanity at large calls us Crossbreeds as best, but more often things I care not to repeat. Purebreds are uniformly hated among our human brothers, in our helpless servitude becoming a symbol of man's downfall, and if a Purebred is released into a wild colony of humans, it is always killed.
I am such a Purebred.
I never had a mother nor a father, grown as I was in a breeder lab. I am tall, my skin is patterned, and my eyes black and red without whites. I am faster, stronger, supposedly smarter than my human brethren, and upon my chest glows the organic chip, the orb, that marks me as a pet.
I was chosen in the kennel by my owner while I was still very small, and my owner was a young female that became my whole world. Before meeting her my only contact with other creatures was seeing them from within my small cubicle at the kennel, never knowing a touch or even a word spoken to me, as the few times the kennel keepers needed to examine me in person I was always first put to sleep.
She was kind, my owner, and gentle. She taught me much, and made sure I had what I needed in my pen, a sleeping mattress, a blanket, toys, my food bowl... still I often ended up sleeping at her feet at night, as we were unwilling to part. She would brush my hair and braid it, dress me in pretty clothing, and bring me with her where she went.
Once while I was still small, her parents brought her to a human colony, a... petting zoo of sorts. I only dimly recall the details why, but I clearly remember suddenly finding myself lost, alone, not seeing my owner or her parents anywhere... and angry humans all around me.
Yes, when humans get their hands on a Purebred, death is nearly always the outcome. Despite the fact that Purebreds are faster and stronger, our more violent instincts have been genetically subdued to such a point that most Purebreds will be torn apart without even attempting to defend themselves. And I was but a small child at the time, no more than two winters taken from my kennel... I would have been torn to shreds.
One of Them spotted me among the gathering adult humans, and sounded an alarm. The humans around me drew back, writhing in pain, while a pair of silver arms plucked my shaking and crying form from their midst. I sat then in a room alone for a little while, my clothes in rags and I in pain, until my owner found was located.
She took me home, bathed me and tended my wounds, clothed me and held me, promising to protect me from human animals from then on. I clung to her in fear, and she could not have received more loyalty and adoration than I gave her from that moment on.
Ordinary humans cannot understand Them. Their language consists of sounds far to high and to musical for the human ear to grasp, much in the same way the human tongues becomes the growlings of a dog to Their ears.
Purebreds however are so enhanced that we can hear Them speak, and although I lack the necessary vocal configuration to speak it myself, I understand Their language completely. My owner complimented me often on how clever I was to understand her so well, but in retrospect I doubt she fully guessed at how well I could understand her words.
Because I could understand Them, I found out things that ordinary humans to this day know not.
I know that They are still unaware that they cut all but the most basic radio communications between countries. Like a human would not notice if he washed away an ant's trail when he scrubbed the porch clean, so did They take no notice of the destruction of human communications they caused when they charted the Earth. They never noticed, and it did not occur to them that humanity had developed such a thing. They were merely mapping the world, comparing it with images of it of old.
Humanity in itself was a surprise to them.
When the last of their kind steered their vessels towards the stars, humanity's ancestors were still small furred things that hid in the dirt in fear of things with sharp teeth, barely surviving the great cold.
Yes... I learned that They originate from this world, this Earth. Far older than man, They evolved in the depths of the sea, finally abandoning their mother planet when yet another great cold struck to make their oceanic existence difficult.
They were Earth's firstborn, finest children... making humanity but the second breed.
Because They cannot grasp that mankind is more than slightly-smarter-than-average animals, we are reduced to pets and research subjects. It is a fate we share with the dolphins, who are found to be distantly related to Them, much like mankind found a fascination with it's furred cousins the chimpanzee or the gorilla. Though we are found to be intelligent, They have no compunctions about their actions for we are not found intelligent _enough_.
I as a Purebred had no contact with humans growing up. I only rarely came in contact with other Purebreds as well, and as such I never knew that the language we Purebreds have developed is completely different from any human tongue. Perhaps I did not know this because I simply did not know much of the Purebred language either, growing up so isolated as I did. But I could communicate with my owner in my own way, and that was, then, enough for me.
We grew older, my owner and I, and I entered what among humans is called puberty. They have not this phase in life, and since their lifespan is so much longer than ours, my owner did not grow much under this period. She was still an adolescent to her people, putting her at a level with myself despite the undoubtedly many years that parted us.
I do not know how to explain what happened then. Perhaps it was the fact that I knew not my own kind, or that the tampering with the Purebred genome had left us without that particular distinction that exists in other species, I do not know. They look so different from humans, so different that Purebreds and humans look identical by comparison, and most humans I have come to realise cannot even tell male from female among Them. That should have precluded any inappropriate feelings in me, and I know not why it did not. I only know that she treated me well, too well... and I lost my sense of propriety. I should have known better.
No matter how much one loves one's dog, one does not _love_ a dog. My mistake, and my shame.
Driven by a for me unknown instinct, I kissed her. In that rather small and innocent act I crossed the invisible barrier, and sent her fleeing from me. Fleeing right to her parents, whom in shock sealed me in my pen until a decision was made.
It did not take long until I was collected and brought back to the kennel. They examined me there for some time, before a final decision was made for me.
The orb in my chest which emits a light that pulses in rhythm to my hearth no longer glows red, marking me as a pet. It glows not green, for a Purebred made for work, nor gold for one created for sport. No, the marking on my chest now glows blue, for a pet discarded and unwanted.
I was transported far away, to another continent and a colony where many discarded Purebreds were left to live out their days. I was fortunate in that my now former owner still cared so much for me as to arrange that I be brought to one of the very few safe havens for Purebreds, as leaving me in a human colony would have meant death for me.
In this colony humans and Purebreds live together, side by side, mostly because They keep watch and will remove any element that disturbs the peace of this settlement, but also because the Purebreds in this colony have come to match their human neighbours in number. It was in this uneasy truce I was released.
Terrified still of humans, and unaccustomed to the company of others like myself, I was nonetheless installed in a small house of my own, another sign of my former owner's lingering affection. Other Purebreds, older and wiser in the ways of the world, took upon themselves to school me until I was as a productive member of our colony as anyone else.
Twenty-three winters passed since I was brought to this place, and I was finally a young adult. I had watched humans age during this span, and seen the resentment in their eyes that Purebreds have so much longer expected lifespan than they, but by then I had learned that I need not fear their angry glares in this place. Twenty-three winters, and then a change of monumental proportions entered my world.
Because I was a well-behaved former pet to Their eyes, I was not sedated when They installed her in my small home. I was taken with her loveliness at once, so much so that I did not notice that the orb on her chest did not shine blue like all other Purebreds in my colony, but an unfamiliar silver. It took me a bit longer still before I had fully realised the wonder of this woman.
She was a Purebred created for scientific research, and that was the reason her marker was an unfamiliar silver colour. No research-Purebred was ever merely discarded, and since they were kept in strictly scientific environs, no-one had seen a science Purebred before.
She was there not because she was discarded like the rest of us, but as a project on Their behalf. She told us that our colony was an attempt to see how well Purebreds and humans would be able to interact, and since she had been created specifically to be able to communicate with Them, she was placed in our colony to further the project. She was placed with myself because while she could speak and write the tongue of Them, she was unable to make the coarse sounds of human speech, and had never been outside of a scientific facility.
We were of an age and I was found to be calm and agreeable, so she was installed in my home, making me both her tutor, her guide and her translator. They had not counted on my finding her so lovely that I, with old fears of feelings of that kind, would protest the arrangement.
But I was not the only one who had found something madly compelling about my new house-mate, and the more I tried to run, the more she pursued... until I was weary of resisting when all I truly wanted was to hold her close.
A small ceremony was held for us by the other Purebreds of our colony, to commemorate our joining, and we were happy.
She told her overseer, the one I thought of as her owner, of our union which resulted in us being examined thoroughly and for quite some time before releasing us back into the colony. I could not understand why They acted this way, we were not the first coupling among the Purebreds in our colony, far from it. Purebred children played in the streets alongside human ones, born from couples rather than created in kennels, and while each expectant mother had been examined, none so thoroughly as we.
We received the answer a month later as we were summoned once again for an examination, or so we thought.
It turned out that They were interested in seeing how the ability to speak their language would be passed on in a child between us two, so quite without being asked, my wife and I received the injections that impregnated us both with the children of both our blood.
She fared better during the pregnancy than I, and in due time our twins were born, one from each of their mothers. Our daughters were strong and healthy, more beautiful than anything either of us have ever seen, and they laughed and played carefree in our home, not knowing why the world was what it was.
But the hatred of humans never truly disappeared, although it abated with the generations that passed. As such there were still children in our colony that were taught to hate, for no other sake than hatred itself, and so came the day when a boy at school hit one of my daughters so that she fell over and hurt her knee. Enraged, her sister hit the boy back, ending up in quite a fight until a teacher broke them up and sent them home.
In itself it was not a big event, a few bruises and a scraped knee since for some providential reason my daughter had not caused the boy any injury more severe than this despite her superior strength, so besides a reprimand about behaving, there was not much to the incident.
Except that a Purebred should not possess the instinct for violence that my daughter had displayed.
We waited anxiously while They examined our daughters for a long time, my wife and I, fearful that our girls would be taken away, or worse, found defective and killed. It felt like it took forever, and considering that the display of violence was something unheard of in a Purebred, They let down their guard around us... and my wife and I overheard a conversation that was not meant for our ears.
They had not come to Earth to stay. They came for archaeological and historical reasons, exploring the world of their origin, but they never meant to stay here for any long period of time.
Too anxious about our children were we to consider these facts as we heard them, but once the little ones were home and safe did we realized we had to speak with the others about what we had overheard. If They will leave Earth in a handful of our generations, then Purebreds and mankind may have their chance at true freedom at long last... provided the old hatred of Purebreds does not escalate into war.
At least I feel hope for the future, if not within my children's lifetime, then further down the line of my people... there will be freedom. And when that happens, perhaps my kind will not be so defenceless as to be slaughtered outright after all, though one could hope that by then Purebred and human may have learned how to live in this world together.
When the day comes that Earth's firstborns will sail away into the darkness of space for the last time, it will be time for those that remain to decide whether They were right or wrong. Are we but beasts, ready to lunge at each other's throats at the first given opportunity, or will we be able to move past the hate and the violence in hope of a future for us all?
No matter how long these altered genes of mine will allow me to live, I shall not see that day. All I can do is live my life as best I can, and together with my wife teach my children not to hate... and carry in my heart the hope that one day, that will be enough.
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