A HISTORY OF WAR
“If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.”
-Henry David Thoreau
We were kings and then cavemen. We were industrialists, then third world countries. Scientists became animals. Animals became men. Men became machines. Our history was erased and rewritten over and over again. Humans could have advanced centuries ago, had Versinon never attacked. We were stunted. Had Versinon never graced our planet with its monopoly on war and destruction, humans would have landed on the moon well before the Dark Ages.
There would have been no Dark Ages…
It took centuries for humans to be able to escape Earth, entirely. As for other living creatures, they found their own way – some hid beneath the ground, never to resurface. They lived in fear and secrecy. Versinon was not as concerned with the smaller creatures. Humans posed a threat.
So it tried to stop us. For centuries, humans were held back by lack of technological advancement. Versinon controlled absolutely everything – knowledge, resources, and wealth. It even gained control over genetic evolution and population numbers.
Sometime after the 20th century, we caught on. Versinon got lazy, perhaps too confident. It stole humans and turned them into things that possessed no Humanity. Versinon bred machines – soulless and empty. We called them Humanoids. The Humanoids obeyed only their programming.
Eventually Versinon created its own “Human Well” through the process of cloning. Natural born humans became sparse as cloning grew more and more popular. Often times, a human was cloned, then released, never to know what dark purpose their genetics served.
True humans dispersed, then scattered. We scoured the galaxy for new homes and new hiding places, no longer beneath a sun to call our own. We forgot our family names. Many were killed in the rebellion. Some fled. The majority was already changed over.
The humans left on earth had no idea, and Versinon worked hard to keep it that way. They bred and mechanized clones, causing Backsliders to distrust unnatural genetics. A clone was as much a product of Versinon as the Humanoids.
Over the decades, brave refugee leaders rose up to move the revolt. They were scientists and soldiers, each valiant but not strong enough to eliminate the fear of extinction. While Versinon remained the rebellion’s first enemy, malicious talk remained the second.
To those true to the cause, the goal was simple – sneak back to Earth and rescue the remaining humans. Even if we moved a dozen people at a time, we considered ourselves lucky. The problem was blending in. Drawing too much attention meant failure, because Versinon relished transforming Backsliders over anyone else.
Our success rate was low, and we lost many soldiers along the way. Despite setbacks, we recognized that a direct war with Versinon would be disastrous. On our missions, we lay low. Between the Puritan resistance and the predatory Humanoids, Backsliders blended in well. We did not reveal the truth about Versinon to the masses, for fear of widespread chaos. Likewise, Versinon did not reveal itself, in favor of a self-propagating resource: gullible humans.
The less naive humans dwelled in societies reluctant to change. Scattered African tribes, Nepalese hermits, and the Pennsylvanian Dutch were just some of the groups Versinon had difficulty infiltrating. In those cases, the Humanoids turned to disease rather than technology.
Failed attempts to save remote populations led to the evolution of groups like the Puritans, who blamed Versinon’s power on the rebellion itself. The Marburg Virus was a warning. It spread like wildfire, infecting most of the Puritans throughout their region. Convinced that all other humans were evil, they performed executions – ceremonies to cleanse the world.
I was Earth-born, but rescued at a young age. I lost most of my family to Versinon, except for my Grandfather. He managed to escape. Wrought with concern, he gathered a team of Backsliders to find me before it was too late. Barely a year old, I was brought to the Backslider outpost. Grandfather raised me for many years before he passed away.
He was a smart man. When he told stories, I listened carefully to every word. Grandfather read to me from an old book he found back on Earth – a forgotten book that he pulled from the rubble of a fallen city. When he passed away, the book came into my possession, but I fear I haven’t read it often enough.
I learned from Grandfather, wanting to be just like him. He was strong and very proud, and kept to himself, a quiet man. But he had stories to tell when asked. And of course… I always asked. I asked about my family. Grandfather told me he was the only family I knew, raising me from birth, for Versinon had killed my parents. I never knew them.
Mother and father were apparently Backsliders too. When I was born, we were captured and held prisoner at a remote enemy base. Grandfather and his unit came to rescue us, but they arrived too late. Father was killed during an interrogation and mother was captured in an attempt to escape. They executed her before she could tell Grandfather where she hid the baby. Grandfather and his unit scaled the base, destroying many Humanoids as they searched up and down for the baby. They could not find me.
Then he and his men heard a terrible sound. It sounded like a Monster, a terrifying thing that roamed the base. It hunted for men to eat. He said that it waited outside for him and his men to leave. They remained inside of the base. Grandfather radioed for help – for a ship to come – but he was told it would take some time.
“What did the Monster look like?” I once asked.
“Terrifying, Ati,” he said. “It had the face of the Devil. It stood tall and crooked, made of something Black. Its eyes – vacant, purposeless.”
“Pure evil,” he reminded me. “Pure evil.”
Then he said that from inside the base he heard a baby cry. He knew it was me. The sound came from a back room; I was tightly wrapped – slid within an air duct. Mother hoped Grandfather would rescue me, because she knew that if we were caught – we would both be killed. He pulled me from the duct and made his escape when the ship arrived. The Monster chased him and his men, snatching up two officers and crushing them between its black hands. Then it scooped up another man, swallowing him whole. Then another, and another…
Grandfather kept running toward the ship, which had arrived just in time. The Monster nearly knocked the ship from the sky as it hovered away. Grandfather remembered looking out the ship’s window – he saw the Monster, colossal and deadly. It screamed with a sound forcing men’s ears to bleed. Though the Monster swiped at the retreating ship, it did not knock Grandfather from the sky that day. He escaped with me in his arms.
Safe and sound.
He raised me to take care of myself, knowing full well that I would one day join the Backsliders’ rebellion against Versinon.
“We’ll be at war with the Humanoids for many more years,” he’d tell me. “But we’ll outlast them. You’ll see. We’re living things, after all. Versinon uses machines, and all machines have weaknesses.”
Often, Grandfather insisted that during his missions he’d come across control hubs – kill-switch computers that instantly deactivated hundreds of Humanoids. He said a comrade once managed to access a kill-switch, taking out thirty Humanoids with a single line of code.
“There are others out there, Ati,” he often reminded me. “As long as Versinon uses technology to oppress Humans, there will always be a way to exploit it.”
I remember when his heart finally gave out. I was eighteen years old. Grandfather was the only family I had. Then I lost him. From that point on, I joined the Backsliders, picking up where he left off. I didn’t realize what a messy job it would be. Nor did I realize how corrupt the system really was…
But he knew.
Man rarely apprehends his own extinction, though he realizes it is coming. Extinction doesn’t occur in one fell swoop, as the religion books guarantee. And it was in this world, and at this time, that Men and Women stomached oblivion. For most, their bodies discontinued producing children. Their industry metamorphosed into servitude, and the umbrella canopying this slavery remained faceless. Man had no name for the sovereign and omnipotent Thing that brought his species to its knees. What men were left that could produce children were pulled from their homes. The women were abandoned, speculating where the men had gone. They fled across nations, traveling by air and sea, yet found nothing – they recovered no one. The Extinction advanced to a point where there was no place to flee. There was no human untouched.
Some people were Deranged, thought Man. These humans warned of World’s End, demanding that people follow them away from it. They knew a way, they said. They knew how to desert this world and start over in a different place. Some listened and they disappeared with The Deranged. Other people did not listen. They remained in the path of obliteration.
Those that remained saw the Monster. It was a swarthy, colossal thing, darkly wrapped with muscle and radiantly veiled with bone. The eyes of the Monster swamped deep into its lurid skull and the mouth sagged low, jaws immeasurable, screaming painfully into the sky. Every inch of the Monster was ugly, ruptured, and black. It stood taller than any building. It was mammoth. The Monster ate men and women, devouring them in their cars, their homes, and their sleep. How they dreaded the Monster, and regretted their dismissal of The Deranged.
The animals, smarter than Man, disappeared before the Monster came. They swam deeper into the oceans and climbed higher into the trees. They buried themselves underground and called out to their own gods for help. Man never knew if the animals appropriated remedy from their gods, but he knew they were spared from his fate. It was in this bleak moment of human history that Man understood his own lack of foresight. Throughout time, Man was blinded by Human Things. Ironically, such Things had little to do with Humanity, and more in common with greed and power. These were the blinders on Man that broke his concentration, crushed his fortitude, and strangled his primal instinct: be mindful of Extinction.
Nails Jane – Chapter 1
If you’d like to finish Ati’s story, as well as have the artwork which is included in the official copy, you can purchase the full 25 chapters of Nails Jane via Amazon, lulu – digital, lulu – print, createspace, Barnes and Noble, or smashwords. Prices vary from vendor to vendor. Nails Jane is available in print and ebook format.