Chapter I

"The Fire Ignites"

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by
drawbacks and discomforts."
-Arnold Bennett

The planet earth had an especially eerie aura about it that day. It was awfully small. Its greens, blues, and browns with their swirling whites scattered about were ominously aglow. Yet it seemed so insignificant to me. With its billions upon billions of inhabitants not a single one had anticipated the coming of my people that fateful day.
Were someone to ask me if I feel guilty for the things my people did that day-or what we were to do in the following days-I would have to say no. According to the humans, we were invaders, a horrible race of extraterrestrial beings. However, I personally believe what we did had to be done. My people agree with me, for that is why we went at all. Humans described it as enslavement. I call it enlightenment.
What we did had to be done. There is no doubt in my mind about that. Were I to use a human phrase to describe it, I would call it tough love. We do not detest the human race, nor did we ever wish to destroy it. The only thing we wanted was to give it a little push. That is exactly what we did. I'd like to think we changed things for the better. That's what we do. Sure, we can be harsh at times, but that's what humans call tough love.
I remember that first, fateful day. There were so many times before that day, during our study of the earth, that I felt something strange from that planet-something strange from its people. I believe part of me had always felt there was something special about those humans. Something inside me ignited with them. That first, fateful day was the first time a human ever laid eyes on me. It was the first time any human ever laid eyes on any of us. It was something in their faces. I saw a lot in their faces that day. Inside those small, pink layers of smooth epidermis.inside their eyes.there was the fear, the confusion, the anger.the pain.
Maybe the pain we inflicted at times was a little excessive. But it's what we had to do. Those people, those humans, needed us; they needed someone to watch over them. They needed to grow up. We were simply the parents. Strict, harsh parents, but parents nonetheless. We weren't always brutal in our ways. We rewarded them when they did something right or just plain when they deserved it. We gave them the nudge they needed. It's what we do. We did it before with other alien races, many times. All of them had turned out all right. Some were still in progress, but they were progressing.
Still, I suppose it hurt me a little at times. Especially when I looked into their eyes.
I was part of the "round-up" that day. I was part of the many hundreds of our people designated the job of getting the humans together. It took hours. There was fighting, crying, everything you can imagine. Sadly, there was even death. A lot of my people were killed that day. Over three hundred as I recall. Only about a hundred humans died. Like I said, we weren't there to kill anyone. The humans, however, got scared. They didn't know what to do. They felt they were defending themselves, and perhaps part of me didn't blame them for it. That's why we didn't kill them afterward as punishment.
Once they were all finally round up, our leader, King Ligzoj, gave his speech. We broadcast it to the humans all over the earth through holographic projection. I was part of Unit 47-L, assigned to Area 512, along the southern coast of northern continent 2. Humans called it North America-Houston Texas, to be exact. We had all of the humans grouped up together in a large area of the land that we flattened out and prepared for our own constructions. Before them we used a mass projection unit to project a single, huge holographic recording of our King giving his speech. A lot of the humans watched curiously. Some couldn't look at all. Others watched with hatred in their eyes and vengeance burning in their hearts.
The wind in their clear blue sky blew like the breath of an immense monster swallowing the earth with its shadow. Our ships loomed over the land like drifting stars in the sky. There were hundreds of my people, all a part of Unit 47-L, nicknamed the Star Dust Unit, that were scattered around the humans, watching them, keeping them in line, making sure they didn't try anything. I remember feeling that wind. I was standing before them all on a stage set up at the front where there was a few other guards, the Unit Master, and the Senior Staff. I wasn't personally assigned to watch anyone, so I'd strolled up to the stage myself. I wanted to get a good look at them all. There had to have been thousands of humans. About as far as I could see. When the wind hit me, my eyes fell from the humans to the ground. I didn't feel guilty. I wasn't sure what I felt. Maybe it was my empathic abilities gripping the halo of fear and sadness about the humans.
Afraid the Master would see my despondency I grimaced and let out a howling yawn as I stretched out my arms and wings. As the projection appeared in the sky, I feigned interest in a tear I pretended to just become aware of, along the upper spike of my right wing. I felt another breeze and the thin, silky flap of my wing blew against my bare belly. I stroked the tear just as King Ligzoj' voice came thundering through the air.
"I am King Ligzoj," he spoke, his tone overflowing with power and an almost disarming voice. "My people, we, the armira, are here on this day of your world to show you a new future. Though, some of you seem fearful and obviously defiant to us, we are not here to destroy you. We are here because this has to be done. We are here to enlighten you and show you the path that must be taken in order to achieve honor and greatness. We, the armira, the most powerful, ultimate of all greatness, will rid you of all faults and sins. Anything that holds you back now shall be done away with. Anything that does not adhere to our ways and orders will either succumb or be expelled from existence. The days of dishonor and ignorance are to be obliterated from this day forth. Your race will thrive. Your race will live among the stars. And, for now, your race will obey any armira to whom they are spoken. Do as you are told and you will be rewarded. Your only other choice is forced obedience. You should not fear us, nor become solemn due to us. You should all be glad we are here. We expect respect. For now, the units assigned to your areas will take care of you. Your lives are changing now. Always remember.it is for the better." He thrust his fist to the air above him and screeched triumphantly, "Enlightenment!"
There was immediate cheering from my people. All of us howled and growled, our voices booming throughout all distances. The humans watched quietly in utter confusion, some of them holding their ears closed from our screeches. My curious solemnity, I set aside. I thrust my arms and wings to the sky, filled with pride and loyalty. Other armira around me drew their swords and hovered in the air, flapping their wings in honor of our people. I loved my people. I loved what I was. I was proud of what we did.

The earth's sun peeked its way over the horizon on the morning of the second day. I could see it rising over the tall, human buildings in the distance, with the fiery, orange clouds that surrounded it and a dark blue sky over me. It was calm. There was no wind. There was nothing. It was as if it were the very first morning the earth had ever seen. As the sunlight hit me, I felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time. Everything around me was alien-the city, the sky, the sun, the grass. It was wholly unwelcome to me. I felt like the earth was looking at me, staring into me. It was angry. It hated me.
As that thought passed, I looked back over the sunrise. It was so amazing, so beautiful. Still, I found it hard to look at. It was too alien. It didn't want me here. It was just as if I was looking into the eyes of a human. Only there was no fear. There was just that hatred. That simple, desperate feeling, begging for me to leave.
I had been assigned my duty the night before. The humans had all been sheltered in multiple storage ships that had landed around the flatland area we'd created to construct our buildings on. I was assigned to a group of fifteen different teenage humans, nine males, six females, ranging from seventeen to nineteen Sol years old. I was assigned as their master and teacher. I was their master all the time, but I was only one of many teachers. My specific teachings were to be of philosophy. I wasn't just their master and teacher, though. I was their guide, their.father.
Before the sun made it entirely over the horizon, I made my way to their storage ship. They didn't even know I existed yet. It would be my first time to meet them, too. The only thing I knew about any of them was that the oldest was nearly twenty Sol years old, a female, named Maryline Nicole Wood.
I passed by a few of my fellow armira on the way and going in. Each storage ship held five hundred humans; all of them separated into groups with their own masters going to visit them for the first time. I rested my hand on the handle of my sword strapped to my left side. I wanted to look reasonably nice but, at the same time, powerful, like a master. I wasn't entirely ignorant. We'd been doing years of study on humans since long before we took over the day before. I'd been plenty briefed on the typical behavior of human adolescents. Needless to say, they were extremely.erratic individuals. However, I had looked forward to working with them.
I found cell room 31, their designated cell, and walked into a room of fifteen sleeping humans. On either side of me were cells, one with the females, the other with the males. The walkway between them was seven feet wide. I looked them all over. I was a little reluctant to wake them.
Finally, I walked to the end of the walkway where there was a panel on the wall that opened the cells. When I opened them, there was a loud "buzz" and the bars slid back into the walls. The humans woke, groaning and rubbing their eyes. A few of them gasped as they looked at me. They all stared at me, and I felt that same penetrating gaze I had felt from the sunrise. I guess it would be a little intimidating to look at a creature so much more tall than them, none of them were any taller than six feet, whilst I stood an inch over fifteen feet. Nonetheless, I raised my chin in the air, resting my wings in the crevice between my shoulder blades in my back, and fixed a stern look upon them as I walked over and stood in the doorway. My hand was still gripping my sword. However, I tried to be disarming in my tone. "Good morning."
I looked around a bit, expecting something. The humans didn't move. "How did you all sleep?" Looking around, I got nothing but that quiet stillness again. I frowned, took a deep breath and went right to business. "Which one of you is Maryline Nicole Wood?"
All of the males looked over at the females. The females looked over each other. Slowly, a short, blond girl, seemingly innocent, raised her hand into the air for a moment and mumbled, "I am."
I looked to my left at her. I couldn't find any words to say at first. I felt that ignition within me that I'd felt for the human race. Maybe it was something in her eyes or her admittedly adorable facial structure, but I couldn't help but smile when I looked at her. I don't know what it was, but there seemed to be something different about her. "Maryline," I said, "I understand you are the oldest?"
She looked down for a moment, most likely wondering how I knew this. I only knew it because my superiors had told me so. As far as how they knew, I hadn't a clue. She looked back at me and nodded nervously. "Yes," she said, quietly.
I continued to smile and gave her a nod. "Thank you," I said, "that's all, you may sit again." She looked at me, and I sensed some surprise, as I did from the other humans. As she took her seat, I looked around at all of them again. "I don't know how you all feel about us.or me. I don't want to hurt you.but I will.if necessary. All you have to do is do what I tell you. It's for the best. And it's for your own good. You are not slaves. I can not stress that enough."
I held my hands behind my back as I paused. I started stepping forward in a pace and let my tone drop a little less strict. "Today you will begin your daily routine. I will lead you to the nourishment grounds first where you will eat. When everyone is finished I will then take you to a landed ship where you will bathe, in your own privacy. However, I will be monitoring you all telepathically, so if you make any attempt to escape while you are to be bathing and grooming, I will know and your punishment will not be light."
I felt their eyes go off of me. Though, my eyes were fixed on the ground before me, I knew what they were watching. One of the human males had apparently considered my stepping away from the doorway an opportunity to run. I couldn't help but be slightly amused. My back turned to him as he inched his way along the wall toward the door, the others watching eagerly, I smiled and pushed him hard away from the doorway with my tail. I turned my head and looked at him. "Going somewhere?" He didn't say anything. He gave me a disappointed, menacing glower, though. "I'm sorry," I said, turning my entire body now to face him, "I suppose if you'd like to run, you can, but you will end up stopped by another of my people outside, and I doubt they'll give you a simple shove." He didn't move. "I see," I said, finally.
I shook my head at him and went back to my pace. "As I was saying, after your personal treatment, you will have five hours of schooling, you'll eat again, have another two hours of schooling, and then you will be led to the construction grounds where you will help in the construction of our buildings. Any noncompliance will be dealt with. If our means of force fail upon you, then you will be given the final choice of either complying.or death. If you then continue to refuse, you will be killed." I grew a solemn look. "I don't want any of you to die. And, furthermore, I don't want to hurt any of you. I want to see you live and thrive, and become the best that you can be. I beg of you now to comply, because there will be no warnings later. Tomorrow we will repeat this process. After three hours of working on the construction grounds the rest of your time is yours. You can interact, whatever you wish. I do suggest getting to sleep early, though. We will be waking at daybreak every morning. If you do as you are told and are respectful to each other and me, you will earn my trust. And with that trust, comes rewards. You can place requests for things that you would like for your time after the work on the construction grounds. You may be provided with such things as your music, "CD's" I believe you call them. Possibly a game or simply a certain something you like to have to pass the time. Anything recreational can and may be awarded to you."
"How about something a little more comfortable?" a male human to my left asked, sitting between some other males on the hard, rusty bench protruding from the wall.
"Of course, more.comfortable chambers are in the process of being set up for you. With any luck, you won't have to see this room again after we leave." I paused, looked them over, and asked, "Any more questions?" A few seconds of silence passed. "Good," I said, pleased. "If you will follow me." I began to head out when an armira stepped into the doorway. From the robes he wore, I could tell he was an aide for one of the senior officers of the unit. I stepped up to him.
In our language, something that sounded like a bunch of clicks and growls to humans, he said to me, "Commander Anar?"
"Yes, that's me," I answered.
"My master, Admiral Noltass, orders you to converse with him in his office aboard Star Dust this evening after you've returned your humans to their chambers."
I bowed shortly at him. "Send your master my acknowledgements."
He bowed back. "Aye, Sir."
As he left, I turned back to the humans. "My apologies. Now then, follow me."

The classrooms were set up aboard a landed ship just outside of the construction grounds. Thirty-six ships had been set up with classrooms. It wasn't just for the adolescents, either; it was for the adults as well. Yes, the adults (at least, most of them) had already had their earth schooling, but there was quite a bit of knowledge my people had that humans did not. If they were to join into our collective, they had to know such knowledge. The science of interplanetary travel, for example, was only one of those many things.
I led my fifteen humans into their first hour class, science, with Teacher Darv. I was having to keep up with my personal data-link computer, for that's how I knew such things as which classrooms to go and what chambers to lead them to. I kept it tucked safely into a pouch on my waist around my back.
When we entered the classroom, I learned that Teacher Darv apparently had a lot of experience under his wings, in other words, he was quite old. His cranial tentacles were especially wrinkled, and his skin's tone was already a dulling, dark purple aside from the usual, youthful angel-white. And his tail didn't appear to have much energy in it at all. I do have to admit, however, his wings were impressively muscular, plenty of energy left in them, as I could tell from how much he moved them around rather than simply letting them rest in the crevice between his shoulder-blades; which was where I liked to keep mine most of the time. He was also very knowledgeable. I took it upon myself to run a file on him via my data-link on the way. According to his file, he'd been a part of the highly esteemed Research and Development division in the Royal Sciences. He was a highly praised colleague and was the leading researcher in the development of many of the technologies used today. He had about one hundred-eleven Sol years of scientific research under his wings. I'd only been in His Majesty's Might for about thirty-two Sol years.
As the humans sat down at their desks, I took a pose up front before them all. I couldn't help but notice how they'd all flocked to the seats farther in the back, as if to get as far away from Teacher Darv and myself as possible. I scanned each face, looking for something to say. "Well, here we are. Your first hour will be spent with Teacher Darv," I motioned toward him with my hand. He took a bow, smiling, and gave me a nod. "Teacher Darv, here, will be giving you all the best scientific teachings, I think from his background, that anyone here could probably offer. Your last hour of school will be spent in my classroom." I bowed. "I leave you, now, in the hands of Teacher Darv."
I walked toward the doorway. As I passed Darv I said, in our language, "They're all yours. .Good luck." We shared a chuckle, and I stepped out. The next six and half-hours were mine to do with as I pleased.
Thank His Royal Majesty, I thought, walking down the corridor to exit the ship. The morning nourishments had gone well enough, the humans had hardly said a word all morning. A few of them had taken to whispering to each other across the table at which they all sat. I could hardly believe it when I actually saw them laughing, but it was good to see that they were relaxing a little more. Everyone had apparently taken great advantage of their personal grooming afterward. The males were done within an hour, whilst the females had taken a full hour and a half. Must be a human thing, I thought.
As I made my way down the ramp outside the ship and got to the ground, I decided to change into a more comfortable uniform in my quarters aboard the personnel ship that hung in orbit. I made my way to the transport pad where five hundred, one-person pods were set up for immediate transport to an orbital vessel. In the sky above, you could see them shooting straight up into or out of the sky like elevators on invisible cables. I found an open one with no reservation and tapped my pass code into its access panel that stood up out of the launch pad in a flat, sloping rectangular form. Once it accepted my code, it unlocked the hatch that sat embedded into the ground. I opened it, dropped in, and began launching procedures.
When I launched, it felt like an incredibly fast, shaky elevator ride into the sky, through the atmosphere, and into the darkness that is space. The ride went from shaky to smooth and the g-force was eliminated as I cleared the atmosphere. I scanned the area and locked in a course to an open docking port on the personnel ship. It was all personally automated. No control unit was necessary.
The whole process only took about five or ten minutes. It was designed to be quick and efficient.
As soon as I docked, I locked the pod chamber for myself so no one else would take it as their own and leave me stranded and made my way to my quarters. When I got there I let out a great yawn and stretched my arms, legs, and wings out all at once. Majesties, did I need that, I thought, feeling a little better from stretching.
I drank some nutritionally fused water and changed into some formal robes. That's when I heard the thud against my chamber doors. I let out a curious snort and opened the door to find Lieutenant Verbadnn, who was a friend of mine I'd made when I went aboard the ship for that mission. He worked on the bridge as a sensor officer. He was tapping a message into the panel beside my door for me.
"Lieutenant Verbadnn," I said, smiling.
"Anar," Verbadnn said, pleasantly surprised. "I thought you would be on the surface? I heard you got command of some humans."
"Indeed," I answered. "They're in schooling as we speak. I have about six hours to spare before I have to go." I took a look over at the message he'd been in the middle of typing. "What is it you want?"
He looked at the message screen. "Oh," he said, canceling it, "yes, actually. I was going to ask to speak with you." He paused, his mouth open. "I need to talk to you about something."
I looked down in thought for a moment until making up my mind, finally, of what to do with this extra time. "How about now?" I asked, looking up. "We can have nourishment aboard the Star Dust."
He seemed to relax more and let out a smile. "That would be excellent."

"I shouldn't be telling you this." Verbadnn said.
We were sitting in the Royal One nourishment center aboard Star Dust, the Alpha ship of the earth division of His Majesty's Might (HMM). The center was full and bustling with people, armira that is. A room that I assumed could probably fill a full hundred of my people could most likely fit an entire two hundred humans within it. The walls were entirely mirrored, a decorative style we enjoyed. The ceiling and floor were a refreshing, smooth silver. Ah, did it ever feel good to feel that hard, cold alloy under my feet and listen to the clacking of my toes against its surface.
Each table had a computer integrated into it. Looking around, I could see some leaned over, looking into the screen or pointing at something to their partner in a holographically projected image that hovered above the emitter at the very center of the table. It was the beautiful aura of camaraderie that I loved about it so much. The sense of unity and acceptance. It was the true epitome of sociality.
I felt that beautiful, happy sense shatter when I saw Verbadnn's dreary face. His reluctant tone didn't help. I only assumed from what he'd said, and the fact that he was sort of leaned over, whispering it to me, that what he was telling me was to be kept a secret.
".But I absolutely have to talk to someone about this," he said.
I assuaged him with a smile and said, "Well, I'm here. Talk."
He was obviously apprehensive. Once he finally spoke I realized why.

"I was on duty on the bridge last night when a Fleet Lord of the Safeguard Division showed up aboard a Nobility class dreadnought." He paused for a moment to let that interesting bit of information set into my head. Then he added, "He sat in the Captain's office for some meeting for practically two hours. When they finally came out, they stopped right next to me in front of the elevator just before the Captain granted him permission to disembark. I couldn't help but overhear them saying something about a big meeting between them, Unit Master Ovarus, the Senior Staff, and a few other Fleet Lords from the Safeguard Division to 'discuss the combat procedures' for earth. After the Lord left the Captain looked at us around the bridge and ordered us to forget that the meeting had ever happened, to forget a ship had ever shown up."
What he said had quite an effect on me. Such a thing.what he was getting at.I couldn't begin to imagine. Despite my doubts.my hopeful doubts, I felt a horrible burning within my heart, my very soul. What he was suggesting.at least, what I thought he was suggesting.the fleets were preparing to attack the earth? Slowly, I looked up from the table at Verbadnn and said, wearily, "Verbadnn.what are you getting at?"
He gave me a deep, attentive look, himself, sitting rightly recumbent. "Anar," he said, quietly, "what else could it mean? Look at the logic."
"Verbadnn," I said again, more seriously, "what-are-you-getting-at?"
I noticed his almost surprise at my disbelief. "Anar," he said again, desperately, "the Safeguard Division is a combat division."
As if I didn't know it!
"They are famous for their lethal attacks and battles; known throughout the entire hierarchy for their defensive operations," he continued. "Look at what I'm telling you here."
I took on a monotonous look, withdrawing my sudden anger, majesties, my outrage! I sat there unbelieving that someone could accuse our people of such a thing. "Verbadnn," I said, easily, "I understand where you are coming from, but do you honestly believe His Majesty Himself would order such a thing? That planet down there is defenseless. They pose absolutely no threat. What possible reason could they have for." I paused, and my voice lowered to little more than a whisper, ".for.destroying it?"
"I am aware of what you are saying," Verbadnn said, understanding. "However you must look at this information I've shared with you. Please, Anar, try to understand. I was reluctant to accept the idea myself. But the whole thing.the bridge last night, it was as if a thirty-foot long monster had walked across the bridge and no one wanted to say anything. My empathic levels were overflowing with a thirst for war."
I was getting annoyed. However, wanting to avoid an argument, I silenced my bloodlust. "Alright," I said, "alright, let's just say you're right. What would you have me do about it? Why would you tell me this?"
Verbadnn pulled back. He gave thought for a moment. "I don't know," he said, finally. "I just.I just had to talk to someone about it. I don't know. I guess I needed to get someone else's opinion on it."
I looked at him a moment. I was trying to fully absorb what he'd been trying to tell me. My anger subsided and I was able to calm my insides. As I relaxed, my muscles settled, I spoke. "Of course," I said sympathetically. "It's alright, I understand, Verbadnn. You're right. There is a certain logic to it, what with the Safeguard Lords and 'combat procedures', and all." I paused, and my eyes fell to the table as if in a trance. "I guess I'd just rather not believe that.that we'd do such a thing. I mean, it does make sense, and then, yet, it doesn't. You could look at it your way, but then, look at it mine. The earth is completely defenseless; they pose no threat. Why would His Majesty approve an attack, especially after so much work put into the assimilation?"
"I suppose you're right," he said, accepting what I'd said. "But then there's no other explanation for what I saw."
I shot him a look suddenly. He had seemed like one to jump to conclusions. "I think if you examine things a little deeper, Verbadnn, you can realize that there's usually always an alternative.another.explanation." We both sat there for a moment in silence, unmoving, hardly breathing. Finally, I looked over at the wall behind the bar to see the time. I still had a good five hours. "Look," I said, "I'd like to get a little rest in before I head back down to the surface. If you.if anything else happens.let me know."
We nodded goodbye to each other and I found my way out of the nourishment center, leaving him behind at the table. I could sense he didn't want to accept what he was trying to tell me either. I don't think any of my people would. We were a proud, honorable race. I had liked to think we had gone a long way from murderous sins. I mean, in the Eyes of His Majesty, I couldn't imagine that the King himself would approve such a thing, much less, ordering it himself. No.no, there had to be another explanation. There had to be. I refused to believe something like that; I refused to throw away all of my pride in my people from so little information.
My heart drifted, however. Majesties.what if it was true?

The nap helped a little.I suppose. I'd taken a good, long three-hour nap in my quarters after I left Verbadnn in the nourishment center. I grabbed a little snack to nibble on from the synthesizers and took the pod back down to the surface.
Finding my classroom had been easy enough. The hard part was trying to get my mind off of what Verbadnn had said earlier that day.
"Forget it.." I had much rather not thought about it. I did my best to put it aside and forced my mind into thought of how I was going to start off my first day of class with fifteen human adolescents. Then again, surely the first day would be easy. The adolescents were so scared to death of me that they couldn't say anything. Ah, the sweet taste of a silent stare. Especially when it's filled with terror.
Oddly, I'd suddenly found myself in thought of Maryline. Curious. There was something about that Maryline. What a peculiar feeling it was. I was finding myself at a loss to explain it.
"I'm just being paranoid." I shrugged it off. Surely there was nothing special about that one little being. It must simply have been the feeling I'd been feeling that whole time for those humans, that strange, sad feeling. Perhaps.it didn't feel like sadness though. Odd, it didn't feel like anything that I could use to describe it. It certainly was something new. I could say that about it. Then I was simply perplexed. How I could I feel something and not know what it was?
Then I frowned. I was annoyed. I had this awful taste in my mouth. Actually, it was a churning in my stomach. I should have known things had been going too well. As soon as things started feeling good, something eventually came along to neutralize it. Not only was I annoyed about the fact that I couldn't figure out what in the Royal Majesties it was I was feeling for that Maryline, but then I had to worry about what Verbadnn had so "pleasantly" told me of. Why couldn't that infernal thing just have listened to his Captain and not told me, I thought to myself. I let out a slow exhale. Ah, I suppose I was, in a way, glad he told me. Something like that, even if it were only remotely possible, I was glad to know.
Why couldn't this wretched universe just leave us alone, I thought, thinking about how life always seemed to either be falling or just standing still. Sometimes it seemed like, no matter how hard you tried or how much you achieved, you never actually reached the top. Even as great a race as my people were, and before that mysterious news Verbadnn shared with me, I always had that realization deep down in my gut that we were far from perfection.far from reaching that top level.
I took a walk then. Stepped back outside the ship, strolled between the landed ships that held schooling humans and classrooms.
Then I felt a breeze. I stopped. It was strange, feeling that alien wind blowing against my face. That was another thing I couldn't understand. I'd been on so many alien worlds before, why was that one any different? Why had that one felt so awfully alien, so.unwelcome?
Frowning, I looked straight up into the sky, wrapping my wings around in front of me and resting my arms over them, letting my head rest upon them. There was so much blue there. There was a fading swirl of white cloud that passed slowly by overhead, but it was mostly that bright blue that seemed to dominate the skies of that world so often. Then there were the oceans. Despite the humans' pollution and destruction, it had still managed to hold a wholesome blue tone. At least, most of it had. Then again, that was one of the things my people were there to help those humans with. Honestly, how could they have been so abusive to their own world?
I looked off into the distance suddenly, as the sounds of my people shouting things at each other broke my thought. Unraveling my wings from before me, I allowed them to hang lifelessly at my sides as I held my hands behind my back. As soon as I did, I forced them back up to look more strong and powerful; I hated looking weak. I forced a profound look and held my chin up high, taking on a stride forward.
I stopped suddenly again, though, my sword dangling back and forth on my waist, and looked down at the alien ground, at the alien dirt.the alien world.
As the voices of my people once again broke my bemusement, I couldn't help but feel like we simply should not have been here.