The Ark

They came to conquer.

Source: Pixabay

I wrote a (very) short story called “Earth”. This is a continuation of that. Enjoy!

They came in the dead of night, when everyone was sleeping. They descended from the heavens in giant grey ships of iron and steel. They came to kill. They came to destroy. They came to conquer.

They came from an alien world they called “Earth”.

Day 1, 2781

After hundreds of years of cryo-sleep, we have made it. The Captain says the planet we’re approaching is hospitable. Maybe appearances are deceiving. It looks dark and rocky. We don’t know as much about it as I feel we should.

It’s “tidally locked” meaning that it has no day/night cycle like our old home. One half of the planet is forever in sunlight, the other in darkness. There’s foliage — dense forests, we’ve been told — but they are charcoal black. Something to do with the infrared light, but I’m not sure. It’s not really my area of science.

There’s life there. Intelligent life. Smart enough to respond in kind to the Morse code signals we sent. I wonder if they will be smart enough to know why we’re really here.

It’s a cliche, as I understand now, but they told us that they came in peace. Hands aloft in a gesture of supplication, they greeted us in unwieldy orange suits and bowl-like helmets, looking more foreign than anyone who had speculated about alien contact would have guessed.

There were ten, in total. There were more, they said, out in the vastness of space. Those lonely ships would be heading to our planet should it prove hospitable enough.

The aliens said they were called “humans” and the Ark was filled with different types. The phrase they used was “the best and brightest”. I couldn’t say if it was true.

Our planet was not like theirs. Earth had great variance in landscape and climate, our forest-covered world didn’t have the deserts or iceflats that dotted Earth. Or at least, that used to.

Earth, their world, had been ruined. Barely capable of sustaining life. They told us stories, they showed us moving images via devices that beamed out from their helmets. We saw Earth…

Patterns of clouds, swirling and transforming into absurdly hot hurricanes…

Beaches hammered by seething, boiling rain, leaving steamy trails in the sand…

Fields of crops bursting into flame beneath an engorged sun, the land then nothing but flat, arid sand stretching to the horizon…

It was several days before I spoke to one of the humans. We had given them lodging as part of an agreed cultural exchange. They taught us one of their languages — “English”, which is…I believe the word is rudimentary — and explained why they had come.

Most of the group had gone exploring, with seeming endless enthusiasm for flora and fauna they had never seen before. With a fascination myself for anthropology, I wanted to have a look around where they lived.

I didn’t expect any of them to be there, but one of them — a female — was still there. She told me she had stayed behind due to feeling unwell.

I wanted to ask her about her species, her planet, about everything, but the words caught in my throat. Instead, she asked the questions about me and my world. Everything was alien to her. Forests were something she had learned about as a child, but verdant grass covered every inch of ground here. The seas that rose and claimed much of the land on Earth were nowhere to be seen. But of everything we spoke about, the demise of her planet was the most interesting. She spoke quietly and carefully, picking slowly over every word as though the wrong one could detonate a bomb.

“It wasn’t the planet, you know,” she said quietly at one stage after a pause.

I asked her to explain. The weather, the floods, the hurricanes — how was that not the planet?

“It was. But it was us, too,” she stared into the middle distance, absentmindedly playing with her hair. “We caused it. And we didn’t stop it.”

I offered vague platitudes, unsure of what to say. “That was then. You— the Arks — you’re the best Earth has to offer. Things will be different now.”

She shook her head. “No. You don’t know us. This is what we are. We destroyed our world, and if you’re not careful, we’ll destroy yours.”

It sounded like a threat, but was not spoken like one. She sounded tired. She sounded resigned.

Later, in response to my never ending questions, she explained how they had tried to cope with the worsening conditions on Earth. A World Government was set up to manage the crises, but even the government withered and died in the heat. The vestigial core of authority that remained did its best, hammering out as many ships — they called them “Arks” — as they could from iron, steel and ice.

There had been attempts to reach other planets before they found us. One called “Mars”, once a dead, red dust bowl, had been terraformed into a tropical paradise, but soon the sun took that too, melting even the ice below the surface, eventually wrapping the Earthling’s would-be second home in a shroud of solar cancer.

The other nearby planets followed suit, which is why some Arks went further. The one that landed on our planet was Ark 217, she said.

At first, there was no malice, no threats. We offered them what help we could and participated in cultural exchanges. They were perfect guests. They were respectful. Until they weren’t.

Day 3, year 2781

One of them came to see me today. One of the tiny, bat-faced creatures visited me, wanting to know more about us and our world. I told him…it…too much, I think. A moment of…what? Sympathy? Weakness? I said that the planet wasn’t turning against us. Or rather, that it wasn’t just that. I said that it was us. That we did it to ourselves. Guilt, maybe. I don’t know if it understood. I still don’t think any of them really understand why we’re here.

Eventually, the diseases touched us all. That’s how they did it. Not with weapons, not with guns, or bombs. We found out — too late — they had dropped vials on the ground upon exiting the Ark. Vials of everything they had, every disease their species had discovered or invented, seeded into the soil. They knew at least one of them was bound to take.

I watched, helpless, as our civilisation died. All the while, the female human’s words in my head scolded me.

“You don’t know us. This is what we are. We destroyed our world, and if you’re not careful, we’ll destroy yours.”

She told me. Not as a threat. As a warning. She told me. And I did nothing. I was just like they were on Earth.

More Arks came as we succumbed to illnesses we had no name for. A few survived — immune, somehow, or just resilient — and we now live in subterranian tunnels where light dies. Above our heads, we hear the hammer and crack of the humans building their new infrastructure. Slowly taking over our world. Other Arks, still, are taking off from the surface. Headed to other worlds to ravage.

I am sending this communication beyond the stars, to anywhere. I hope someone will hear it. If you do, don’t come to save us. It’s too late. But just know: don’t trust the humans. They destroyed their planet, and will do the same to ours in time. Don’t believe them when they offer peace. They come to kill. They come to destroy. They come to conquer.

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