Disclaimer: The characters and situations of "Space: Above and Beyond" are the legal property of Glen Morgan & James Wong, Hard Eight Pictures, and Fox Television. Borrowed with love but without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's note: This is a piece I wrote for a class in Creative Writing at university. Since none of my classmates were "Space"-fans, or even knew what it was (sad, but true), I had to do a lot of explaining. So if I'm stating the obvious, there's the reason. Sorry. Also a huge warning: this contains MONUMENTAL spoilers for "And If They Lay Us Down To Rest…" and "Tell Our Moms We Done Our Best."

Rating: PG-13 for wartime violence.

To Greg, for giving me such wonderful ideas <:-*




"… And yet, by an inexplicable somehow, life became. The first cell, every tree in the Amazon, everything… everyone, that is alive or has ever lived, is descendant from the same ancestral form of life. You, me, friends, enemies… and all the life we can, and are yet to, see."
Captain Shane Vansen, "And If They Lay…"

I watch them leave, these "humans", as they call themselves, from so far away. Their strange ship lifts off, its wake whipping the trees around me, its sharp lights hurting my eyes. But I don't look away. The roaring turmoil surrounding me is a perfect match for the turmoil inside me. Even when it's nothing more than a tiny speck of light among a myriad of stars I still stand looking up, seeing in my mind that which I can no longer discern with my eyes, not wanting to let go quite yet. And the connection is there. The connection between these humans and me, standing on this moon beneath a never-ending sky. Maybe it's always been there, I can't really say. But I feel it now. And so do they. A cross-road lies ominously before us, both our futures depend upon the choices we make now. And I know, simply know, that this is either a beginning… or an end.

This sacred forest moon is my world; these chambers and caves of embryos my universe. Our civilization first evolved here, on this moon, and it's still where we come to be born. I am the Caretaker. The guardian of life. What do I know of war and battles and strategies? To me they are empty words. I have seen images of the planet our Heads of Council say we come from, this "Earth" as the humans call it. It's a beautiful place. They tell me that is where the very first strains of our DNA originated, and that by pure chance a comet impact catapulted that first life to this moon. I've also heard what they say about humans, about the threat that they pose to us. How they are zombies, demons, evil and blood-thirsty, and that they have to be stopped before their expansionism swallows our home worlds too. That we are the ones who by right of origin, if not birth, should inhabit Earth. I accepted this, as it was the only truth I knew. At the time, I'd rarely ever seen a picture of a human, let alone ever met one. But I cannot reconcile this with what I've seen today, not all of it, and I can no longer accept that that is the whole truth. There has to be something more. Because today I did meet some of those humans.

I had never expected to meet any humans, not here in our home system, far away from any of the front-lines. When I first saw them, by a stream not far from the chambers, I was horrified. All kinds of nightmare scenarios played out in my mind, all including grisly death at the hands of the blood-thirsty humans. This was surely the end, I thought. I hid and watched in paralyzed fascination mingled with fear as they meticulously ambushed one of our patrols, and killed them. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, the pure violence of it took my breath away and repulsed me. I huddled trembling in my hiding place, frightened and sickened by what I'd just witnessed, and in that moment one of them saw me. Looked me straight in the eye. It was already alerting the other humans when I ran from there as fast as I could. Ran and ran for my own life, and for the lives I guarded, towards the subterranean chambers where I would be safe. I had to protect them.

It wasn't until much later that I dared set my foot outside again. When I did, the first thing I heard was one of my traps being sprung. It was the net, and when I drew closer I saw that one of the humans was caught in it, the strong-willed one I had perceived as their leader. It was frantically trying to get loose. A fierce, satisfying stab of vengeance, almost triumphant, shot through me and compelled me to edge even closer to it. As I looked into its huge, dark eyes, I thought I recognized what I saw in them. Fear. It was afraid. Could it really be that the evil and blood-thirsty human was as afraid of me as I was of it? No, impossible. Yet… The thought stuck in my mind, and for the first time a spark of curiosity flickered briefly deep within me. I reached out a hand towards the Leader, but at the same time it broke free from the net, and frightened I once again ran back to the chambers. I wasn't quite ready to embrace that strange, new sense of curiosity, my initial emotions of fear and repulsion had been too great for that, but it was there.

It was not much later when it happened. That which would change my life, and everything, forever. One of the humans must have tracked me, because suddenly the soft silence of the chambers was ripped apart by the sound of rifles. Bullets and laser pulses screamed through the air as the soldiers on guard returned fire. The chambers turned into an inferno of sparks and ricochets and ear-deafening echoes. Unprotected embryos were hit by stray shots and exploded in showers of amniotic fluid. I pressed myself against the wall and could only watch in horror as the last of the guards went down, and silence pervaded once more. In my mind I raged furiously against the humans for all the death they had brought, I cursed them for all the destruction and blood and horror. And I cursed my own people, my own leaders, for bringing war down upon this peaceful place, thereby causing this helplessness I felt when I couldn't protect my unborn. The human came towards me, its weapon raised, obviously intending to kill me too. I looked around at the destruction and the dead embryos littering the walls, and expected to die at any moment, wanted to die, but nothing happened.

I looked up at the human and saw that it was also looking around. Its face startled me, because as I once again looked into huge, dark eyes, what I saw was regret, and the same kind of horror at the death and destruction as I felt myself. My curiosity now resurfaced and I stood up slowly, gazing deeper into its eyes, more surprised with every passing second with what I discovered in them. The human was now gazing back, just as intently, and then it lowered its weapon. Its shoulders seemed to sag, as if it finally gave in, I didn't quite understand why. It pointed towards the entrance with its weapon, wordlessly ushering me out of the caves. I followed, if somewhat hesitantly. Before I knew it, I was standing face to face with them.

I was still afraid of them, but by now my curiosity was starting to reassert itself. I could tell they were trying to communicate with me. The Leader put its weapon down on the ground in front of me, and I was amazed over how they acted, these were no evil, blood-thirsty demons. Or maybe they were, in some way. I thought back to the first encounter at the stream. Maybe this violence wasn't their nature, but something forced on them by war, just as I knew was the case with our soldiers. Violence certainly wasn't our nature. Maybe what I'd heard and seen was only one facet of these humans, and what I was seeing now was another. They were trying to communicate something else. They raised their arms and waved, and I sensed their frustration when I didn't understand. But I also sensed despair and sorrow. Obviously they wanted to tell me something important. Then the Warm-Hearted one - the one who had brought me here - pulled something out. He showed me pictures of fire and explosions and dead soldiers, and then pointed down, to the place we were standing, and then to the pictures again. The meaning of it dawned on me, and with it came an ice-cold fear the likes of which I had never felt before. They were trying to warn me, to tell me a battle was going to take place here on the moon. I was completely and utterly horrified.

Anger once again bubbled up inside me and I wanted to scream out at the injustice of the universe. Who were these humans and my so-called leaders to come here with their war and their death and their destruction?!
A battle would ravage and devastate the moon, it could endanger our very existence! But then I realized something. Why had the humans told me? Surely they must know I am their enemy? Or maybe not..? Our soldiers did wear their armor all the time, including the helmets, could it be the humans didn't know what we really looked like? Yes, of course. They must have believed I was of some innocent, alien race that would be wiped out in the battle. That act of compassion made me question our harsh judgment of the humans. It planted the idea in my heart that maybe we aren't that different after all. And maybe some day, it will grow into an understanding of some sort. To show that I had understood their warning, and as a token of our shared origins, I picked up a fist of soil and slowly poured it into the Warm-Hearted's hand. I squeezed it gently and then let go, placing one hand over the human's heart. Eyes once again locked on eyes, and this time I saw pure wonder.

I stand here, on this moon, still gazing into a never-ending sky, the turmoil inside me now subsiding. A certainty fills me. This battle will not take place, it can't be allowed to. At the same time, I can't help but feel for the humans. We come from the same place, they will know that very soon now. This is the pivotal point where the war will change, where everything will change, depending on what road we, and they, decide to travel down. Will we choose the path of war and mutual destruction, or will we take the road less traveled by, peace? I don't know. What I do know, simply know, is that this is either a beginning… or an end.

© Darthy

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