Nathen drifted in and out of consciousness as the trek wore on. How he managed to keep from falling off Cass’s back, he had no idea. Had to be some kind of deep-seated survival instinct that kept him from letting go and slamming to the ground in what most certainly would’ve been a neck snapping impact.
Crossing the barren flatlands, Nathan’s mind trudged on in fitful reflection, thoughts derived from both sides of the consciousness fence. His headspace teemed with the haunting images of the recently puréed GIs—Garenov, Kaliss, Zellenger—their final screaming features, along with the faces of Adams and Diaz, roving across his mind like some neuro-surreal Baatan death march.
Save for maybe Kaliss, these were not bad men, he reflected in a fleeting upswing of clarity. They were just doing what they were trained to do, what they believed to be the right thing. Even way back when, while he and Helen were living back on earth in their little off-the-grid cabin up in Northern Oregon, trying to distance themselves from the warlike ways of humankind, they had no issue with those who served. It was the forces of instigation that drew the crosshairs of their dissent, the various shape-shifting corporate entities that perpetuated and profited off the endless violence, then skillfully sold their actions to the general public in grey-washed sound bites. At the time when they’d relocated to Lunatopia, there were over fifty “conflicts” going on around the globe. And more than a few among other human settlements within the solar system.
Then came the war with the Phraaks, the mother of all conflicts, the first time humankind went to battle with an alien foe. Nathan could hardly remember what started the whole confrontation, some kind of dispute over the natural resource rights to a “newborn” planet that wandered between intergalactic territories. A small skirmish among the two groups had taken place, from what he could recall; lives were lost, one side suffering more casualties than the other. Then the inevitable escalation had begun, as the score had to be evened. From there it bloomed into an all-out clash between the two species that went on and on for years, even as the wayward planet had moved into an entirely new galactic region, one belonging to a third deep space race—the Drutarks—who had assumed all mining rights.
Not for the first time Nathan scowled as the story replayed in his mind. On the upside, the conflict had united the people of earth and those relocated across the solar system—Mars, Europa, Titan, the moon and Ourea (a massive man-made planetoid set parallel to the earth’s orbit) against a common foe, which had nearly ended human on human violence entirely.
But it had done nothing to curb the output of violence as a whole, he fumed as up ahead the crash site finally came into sight; the mayhem, the destruction, the killing just channeled into another cause—a cause that put the military industrial complex in position for the easiest sell ever. Following the initial loss of human life, there were no shortages in rationalizations—the differences in appearance, the inferiority of their alien ways, the sacrilege of their Gods, and the go-to tactic of all; fear—if we don’t wipe them out now they will eventually try and conquer us. Justifiable genocide.