**The following story contains allegorical depictions of racism and genocide.**
“Look honey, that one’s a soldier! Watch out, he might try to shoot you with his bang bang!”
They’re speaking Drakellian but the translator installed in my cochlear nerve fixes that. Even without it I’d still understand, as often as I hear that joke. The child has three golden eyes in front, one in back, which makes it a boy. The rear optic hasn’t opened yet though. He’s still very young. He points his thinly scaled finger at me and mimics gun noises as best as he can, tongue flicking between the jagged incisors that have barely begun to protrude from his upper jaw.
“Can my son get a picture?”
This one has six eyes, lined up like teets. That’s the mother. “Sure thing, ma’am,” the second translator installed on my larynx allows her to comprehend my answer, though she giggles at the “human accent” my supervisor programmed into it. She’s taller than me by at least a foot, which is still short by Drakellian standards. They’re both wearing lime green “Earth World Minneapolis” shirts.
I muster my best “soldier pose,” pointing my prop rifle at the child while taking a knee, causing the child to hiss in delight, something I will never get used to. Mom taps the screen on one of her gauntlets, triggering the strobe lights in the room, capturing the photo. Glancing back at her screen, she’s satisfied and lifts the boy using her long, slender tail, placing him gently back into one of the wagons we rent at the gift shop.
This is life on the klantique - their term for the small slices of land they let us keep. Here, Reykjavik, Helsinki, Anchorage, Falkland Islands, Yakutsk, and for some reason they let us keep all of New Zealand. Pushed us towards the poles after they took hold of everything from 40 degrees south to 40 degrees north latitude.
Another group of young males approach. Only some of their rear eyes are open. Teenagers. “Is that a Mike over there? Hey Mike, where’s your Sally?” What I wouldn’t give sometimes to be able to turn this damn translator off. My name’s Thomas, my dad was Glen, hell, I only knew two guys named Mike. Assholes.
I was the Executive VP of Sales for AgriNon for 10 years for Christ’s sake and now here I am, dressed up like an Earth War soldier every day for their goddamn amusement.
A few years ago they finally allowed us to open theme resorts on Human Lands. The High Tribunal ruled that we “should be allowed the privilege of self-regulation, once again” since we were no longer a threat to them or the planet. We were never much of a threat to them to begin with, so it wasn’t really much of a war, more like an extermination. The planet, that’s a different story.
I see the next group approaching wearing matching outfits. Management told us that a team of Drakellian athletes was staying this weekend for training - the Crohntari Earthlings. They’re all wearing the team's logo on their clothing, a human face frozen in a scream. Each one is taller than the next, some approaching 13 feet. They see me, instantly drop to their knees and waddle over to gather around. I manage a smile but I wish this rifle was real, not that it would do much good if it were. “Ok everyone, two fingers and say USA!”. The twos are for the number of eyes I have. The strobe blasts again and they all check their arm screens. Another successful souvenir.
The first few months after the colonists landed were crazy. Public opinions ranged from “kill them all immediately” to “it’s a hoax” to “what can we learn.” They explained that due to their extremely long life cycles, 200 to 300 years, they had overpopulated their home planet. By 2031, our climate had warmed to the point that the Draks finally felt Earth could sustain their species and so after years of monitoring, they finally landed in the New Mexico desert. Conspiracy theorists loved that shit.
Naturally, their technologies were far superior to ours, but they had limited knowledge of our planet's physical make up. To survive here, they’d need to grow their food. That’s where we came in. My dad was the CEO of our company, AgriNon, and under his leadership we’d grown to be a $2 billion agricultural giant. The agreement was this: they would inhabit the desert spaces that we could not and we would share with them our knowledge of the soils. In exchange, they would share their technologies to help us survive in the new, harsher climate. The next three years could not have been greater - both species thrived. Diseases that had been around for centuries were eradicated. The planet continued to warm, but no one cared. We were protected now. We even created a world holiday to celebrate the success - Shavaksnia in Drakellian but we called it New Thanksgiving. More colonists began arriving on the planet monthly.
Three middle-aged Drak couples come strolling up. One of the females is wearing a sash. A wedding party. At least they have the decency to stand up for the picture. As they walk away, one of the males screeches “thanks Plusser,” and makes a pyramid symbol with his claws then crosses his arms to make a plus sign. His woman digs all seven digits or her left claw into his shoulder. “Aw c’mon Krzak, that’s racist. Leave the poor thing alone.”
It’s a reference to my blood, which right now is boiling. Two years after the first Shavaksnia, the climate took another drastic increase since we had stopped trying to mitigate it. In response, Drak scientists created a portable, wearable heat shield. Out of the kindness of all three of their hearts, they would provide a shield to every man, woman, and child. What we didn’t know - and they claimed ignorance of as well - was that one of the components was a pathogen that was incredibly deadly to humans. Two months after the rollout, people started developing festering scales all over their bodies. That was the tipping point. Realizing what was happening, the world’s armies went to war with the Drakellians, but that was a slaughter. The disease ripped through 70% of the population in just over eight months. The only people left were those that were immune - people with blood type A+. Plussers.
I watch the wedding party pause at the next exhibit. My buddy Larry is sitting at a news desk in a suit with the headline “Aliens Land On Earth” splashed across the backdrop. The same Drak does the same A Plus hand signal as he walks away, but Larry isn’t having it. He gets up from behind the desk and tries to throw a punch, but gets thumped in the jaw by a tail swing. The rear eye saw it coming. Larry flies back against the desk and slumps to the floor. Blood trickles from the side of his mouth. Security quickly circles in and pulls the guest off Larry but not soon enough. Larry had been a lawyer - my lawyer.
There will be no repercussions for the Drakellian, of course. Larry swung first and the High Tribunal had ruled that humans could not bring legal actions against any Drakellian for crimes committed on Human Land. I set down my rifle and scramble over to check on my friend.
“I can’t move my legs, Tom.” It looks like the force of the impact has broken his back.
“It’s alright Larry, I got you. We’ll get help.” I wave for security to come back, but they’re busy escorting the attacker to his room.
“It’s Ok, Tom, it’s ok,” he says. His breathing is sporadic. It slows. Then it stops.
Just another day on the klantique.