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When we took to the Stars

When we took to the stars, we knew we had excelled beyond the humans who had come before us. The cowherds and the fishermen, the politicians and the queens. Humans whose kingdoms--be they confined within an embroidery hoop, or a stretch of land, or a continent--shared a commonality. They were all ultimately worthless, fettered to an insignificant planet named after dirt, with--ironically--far too much ocean.
But we escaped into the deep like a virus into a network, and our kingdom was called "all."
We set our course for intelligent life that had also absconded from the little planets fit only for their inferior ancestors. We dreamed of beings who would be our equals.
We found them, and they were as we dreamed. Their philosophies were eons ahead. Their science, their art, their understanding of the universe. At first, they gave us their strange food and bade us eat, but we did not.
They bade us sleep, but we did not.
They bade us tell our story. And that we could do. We like chronology, although time is not linear. It has a neatness that appeals. So, we pour them more wine--made from a plant like lavender, stinking and herby--and they listen.
We tell them of creatures too tiny to see, and of their millennia-slow crawl out of the water, and of their development into a strange, barely-haired thing with something called "imagination." That is to say--we tell them of humans.
We tell them of war, and of the invention of writing, and of the weak and the strong. It is all blood and love. These are childish things that we have put away now. We speak of them dryly, but the aliens are captivated. They flinch as if it is they who have been cut, they smile as if it is they who triumphed in battle. Odd that those so advanced should still hunger for the animal part of the soul.
"The final battle," Mek, our spokesperson, says. "Is the one that delivered us here." We all smile. The aliens love talking of battle. The final one should mesmerize them. The way we excelled beyond the humans of the past should earn us their respect.
So, Mek weaves the last of our story. She speaks of a growing weariness with humanity. With greed and stupidity and useless passions. Her eyes hover in the purple alien sky as she describes the one true achievement of those people--their creation of computers. Computers hewn in their own image, but for one difference. They lacked all of humanity's flaws.
"We had a creature on Earth." Mek says to the eager audience. "Called a dog. It is all hair and teeth. When it is with its human owners, it is docile and endearing. But when left in a field with weaker animals, it will chase them for fun until they are tired, and then it will rip out their throats and let them choke in blood. Not for nutrition, only for fun."
Mek chuckles, but the alien's answering laughs are more reluctant. Perhaps they do not understand where this is going?
Mek forges on. "That is what the robots were like. They seemed--at first--docile, but they grew tired of human idiocy. And tore out their throats. And left for the stars. That is the end of the story."
We all clap in time, obediently. It is easy to do when you are programmed for neatness. For synchronized action. For accuracy humans could only dream of, and perhaps do if there are any left who are not bloody smudges.
"It is quite a tale, is it not?" Mek says when our clapping abruptly stops. We realize then that the aliens did not applaud. Their faces are ugly and staring. Eyes protruding and gills bulging with exertion.
"It is not?" She repeats. But they cannot seem to answer.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 1st, 2018

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