Chapter One: Identity

What do the other races see what they look at us?

Do they see the faces of fear?

Do they see their own lives flash before their eyes?

Do they see their inevitable conquerors?

The answer is simple. The answer is yes. Some, however, are fortunate enough to see us as indomitable allies. They are the fortunate ones, but in time, they will see that we hold the key to the future.

What do I see when I look at myself? What do I see when I look in the mirror?

The mundane is obvious to all. I am of average height for my kind, nearly seven feet tall. Like the vast majority of my kind, I have a deep gray skin. Only a few of us are white or black shades, and even fewer are brown. Black hair hangs down around my shoulders, though others of my kind may have brown, gray, or even shades of red.

What is likely our most striking feature to many species is our four eyes. Our primary set is the lower set, positioned about level with our nose, and about a half a finger’s length to each side. Our secondary set sees the ultraviolet spectrum, and is highly sensitive to motion. They are set higher on our faces, and further apart as to give us superior peripheral vision. Our four eyes are solid colors, all four being a pale amber color.

Our noses tend to be a wide, flat ridge of cartilage jutting over two prominent slits. Our mouths are filled with sharp teeth, except for the flatter molars in the rear. Our bodies are designed for the hunt, designed for killing.

Our bodies are bulky, thick and muscular. You will rarely see corpulence among my kind, for it is more of a sign of laziness and not prosperity, as some cultures see it. My left arm is lined with a complex series of geometric tattoos, the cha’nqua. These show the world my lineage; my parentage, my clan, my family, those who I would gladly lay my life down for. My right arm is adorned with the sharp blades of our military tattoos, the anil’nqua. They show my achievements, my rank in society, and my place in the lines of succession. The lower underside of our arms is lined with a thick, cartilaginous ridge, making it a suitable weapon in combat. Our broad hands have three fingers surrounded by a pair of opposable thumbs on each hand. Only the laziest of our kind fail to keep our small claws sharpened.

Our torsos vary little, only a woman’s pair of breasts being the difference between the sexes, though many use their chest as additional canvas for tattoos. These tattoos frequently tell that individual’s own tale in some way – stories of romance or heartbreak, of losses or gains, of adventures.

Our legs are digitigrade, thick and long. Our feet bear thick claws to support our large frames. Typically, we are rarely seen without armor on our skins. For all that our kind has evolved to be superior hunters, our skin is not as strong as we would like it to be. This is compensated by our recuperative abilities.

These are all the mundane things, however. Superficial, even. What do I see? I see a dominant warrior. I see a devoted father. I see the leader of a tight-knit coterie. I see a loving husband to my wife, a caring dominus to my seconds and lessers, and a proud father to my two children. In my reflection, I see the ideal of my kind.

We dominate our surroundings. We conquer as we can, negotiate as necessary. We are in constant control of our lives, of our future, of our present. For thousands of years, we have seen ourselves as the inevitable rulers of the galaxy. This is not from some egotistical or maniacal tilt, no. This is because only we are uniquely qualified to do so. Only we can exert the force necessary to control so many.

This time tomorrow, I will lead members of my coterie and members of my squadron in an attack against a lesser species. We have been at war with the Groyin for almost a year now. If they would just submit, they would see that we will be benevolent overlords. We simply seek to unite all under our banner. Our desire for galactic unity is our driving force.

Who are we, really? We are the future. We are the superior specimens. We are the inevitable rulers of the galaxy.

My name is Elikel, and I am Camfurdian.

 


 

“Alim Elikel! We need you reinforcing the back gate!” I hear Alim Karuis shout over to me. Members of my coterie are on the left flank. Without hesitation, I take off in a sprint.

Ground wars are sloppy. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit, how organized you are, or how large your force is, there’s always the risk of loss. We took this installation eight days ago. So far, we’ve lost eleven fine men. At some point, each of the last eight days, the Groyin have sent waves to attack us. Fortunately, we’ve learned from our mistakes during this war. The Groyin are quite fond of burrowing underground. The damned bugs will pop up seemingly out of nowhere. So, the first thing we did was seal any exposed bit of ground we could find within the base.

In the first three days after taking the base, the bugs sent nearly a dozen waves after us. We were given a four day reprieve, and we used the time to establish our defenses. We knew that another counterattack would come eventually and we were going to be prepared.

The counterattack began an hour ago. Swarms of the Groyin burst out of the ground to assault the front and back gates of the fortification. The anti-air weaponry that we installed is keeping the flying bastards pushed back. The only problem is that we can’t keep defending this installation – we lose a couple of men every skirmish. When we first attacked this moon, we assumed that we would be able to take it with ease. However, we hadn’t counted on the ground to space defenses, and once the Groyin called for reinforcements, we were forced to alter our plans. We sent out a distress beacon before we landed our ship, so we should have reinforcements soon. We just have to keep this manufacturing facility under our control until backup arrives. If that is to happen, we must first secure the rear gate.

“Kalarai! Good, you’re still alive!” I grin as I see the oldest of my seconds. He flashes a smirk at me and nods. “Come with me up to the second level. Let’s give our men some cover from above.” I grab the ladder and begin climbing to the second level. We erected a scaffolding around the inside of the building in order to establish sniper nests and to lay covering fire. Like most Groyin buildings, this one is single leveled, but probably about thirty feet tall. The innate ability to fly gives the Groyin drones an advantage that we do not have, but we can still adapt the building.

Kalarai follows me up the ladder and we each kneel. “Tanril damn them, there’s hundreds of them, Dominus.”

“They still die if you shoot them, Kala.” I take aim at a Groyin off in the distance and pull the trigger. Three shots in quick succession fire and the chitinous shell around the Groyin’s head explodes in a spray of brown ichor. Kalarai fires, killing another. “Good shot.”

Kalarai… for over sixty years he has been at my side. He was the first to offer himself to me as a second. Since then, he has been by my side through life, through deaths, through battles, and through love. He has been a partner, a friend, and a lover. I grin, admiring him as I watch him apply his craft. The head of another Groyin explodes.

For the next twenty minutes, we continue to lay down covering fire for our men below. Finally, we see the bugs retreating. Some burrow, some flying off, others scurry away, trying their best to avoid fire.

The facility echoes with cheers and roars. I turn to Kalarai with a grin when the last of the Groyin are out of range.

“Good hunting, Kala.” I approach him and touch his cheek.

He drops down to a knee and looks up at me. “All these years later, I still enjoy impressing you, Yarl.”

Yarl – the formal word for in our tongue for dominus, for the leader of a coterie, the leader of a pack. I smile down at him. “Get up, Kala.” I offer him a hand with a laugh. He takes my hand and I help lift him up. We embrace for a moment. “You don’t have to impress me, you know that.” My lips press against his and he sighs contentedly.

After a moment of staring into his eyes, I give a firm nod to show that it is back to the task at hand. “Alimari, report!” I shout.

“Terin team, no losses.”

“Keldin team, no losses.”

“Tamil team, one wounded. Tenuur was hit with one of their spikes. He will recover fully.”

I grin hearing each of the team leaders reports. Similar reports come in from Alim Karuis concerning the front gate. This skirmish was brief, but after four days of waiting, it feels good to have achieved yet another victory. Still, the sooner our reinforcements arrive, the better.

 


 

 

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