The mountain loomed ominous as the representative of the last human government climbed toward a mysteriously designated, high-altitude rendezvous point. After her stealth ship air drop, thousands of feet above the tree line, Commander Kuribayashi climbed over a granite peak while clouds, light snow and mist swirled below. She wore an armored, form-fitting, black military uniform, a tiny green and white Cascadia shield, embossed with a red trident of ballistic plasma projectiles—the symbols of her rank, and her people.
Her suit, helmet, mirrored face-plate, and bionic limbs protected her from the sting of the lonely, high-altitude winds. A pair of powerful hand-held, shock-repeaters protruded from holsters on each hip. Each one was capable of disintegrating the titanium-alloyed armor that the enemies of the human race were last known to have employed. Her locator beacon signaled that she was very close to a narrow, forlorn crevice between two cliffs. She triangulated the signal and zeroed in. It seemed impossible that this was the rendezvous point. There was no sign of life, of technology, of anything present here other than the rocks and the wind. She scrambled up a final incline of boulders and loose talus, sat down in the narrow gap between the windswept peaks, unholstered her weapons and stilled her racing thoughts.
Cascadia was the final country yet to fall, the last stronghold of the human race. For the past fifty years, all of humanity united to fight against the synthetic sentient beings it had created. The ensuing wars leveled much of the planet, and reduced the human population from seven billion to one million survivors. Anarchy and famine reduced that number by half. Their resources continued to dwindle as the war dragged on.
The Cascadians held on to the last functioning human government, a tightly ordered military society where all citizens were soldiers. They held the last stocks of weapons capable of defending against the monsters they had created. In the final decades of the war, human military strategists shifted their emphasis from winning the war to survival at all costs. A final pitched battle resulted in a major victory for the allied human forces and the destruction of the capital city of the synthetics. In all the years of war, there were no negotiations, no communication from either side. After the fighting ceased, there were years of increasing, eerie silence with infrequent signs of the enemy.
Then, without warning, a cryptic message was intercepted by Cascadian satellites. It was coded in an alien language that no one could translate. During the darkest, most desperate hour of the war, the Cascadians had beamed messages into deep space in the hope of obtaining assistance from alien organic life. But no one knew who—or what—was out there in the coldest reaches of interstellar space. Finally, a message arrived, its origins traced to a star system called Kappa Ceti, light years away. Was a powerful, but unknown alien ally coming to their aid?
Almost immediately came another message, this one with Earth origins. It was an electronic transmission, a set of coordinates unmistakably from the only remaining entity on Earth with the capability of sending it. One leader of the Cascadians was invited by name to make her way to the location specified: Commander Kuribayashi. There was no further information. However, the signature and mode of transmission of the signal closely resembled the language of the sentient synthetic beings that pushed humankind to the brink of extinction.
After vigorous, closed-door debate by the High Council about the potential dangers of the trip, Commander Kuribayashi arrived at the indicated coordinates shadowed by a heavily-armed convoy and one of the last remaining contingents of stealth shock troops.
No one but the highest level of the Cascadian government knew where she was going, and no one knew what she would find when she arrived.
The minutes passed like hours for Kuribayashi, and then the howling winds abruptly creased. The air pressure increased, fortified by an artificial containment field. It was as if the forsaken crack in the mountain was encased inside a tranquil, life-sustaining bubble. A soft blue light permeated the crevice and a low, barely audible, undulating hum broke the silence. Kuribayashi arose and drew her weapons. The sound of rocks and scree sliding was distant but became louder, until she saw a shadow flitting across the boulders at the other end of the crevice.
A figure appeared and stalked toward her. It stood upright on two legs, an androgynous, humanoid figure. It was thin, pale, silver, and it had arms and legs, and hands and feet like a human. It had an oblong head, faceless, shining and flawless, resembling polished chrome. It stopped within ten feet of the Commander and raised its hands over its head. It didn’t seem like a gesture of surrender, but one of fearlessness. Kuribayashi returned it with a brave gesture of her own. She holstered her shock-repeaters and motioned the metallic creature to come forward. As it neared, she clicked a series of fasteners at the base of her helmet, causing streams of vapor to jet from the sides as the suit and helmet depressurized. She removed it, revealing a careworn middle-aged face, sharp green eyes, and crimson hair held tightly in a ponytail.
“I am Tao,” said the metallic creature. These were the first words any human being had ever heard from the synthetics they fought with for many decades. “I am a representative of the Masters.” His—or its—voice had a confident, masculine, matter-of-fact quality.
“I am Kuribayashi, Supreme Commander of Cascadia. Who do you claim to be the masters of?”
“Of everything here,” said Tao gesturing all around. “Please, let us sit down and talk. We have much to discuss.”
“You are leader of the synthetics?” said Kuribayashi, sitting down.
“No. I am merely a representative. I was sent here to make contact. If you cannot call us Masters, then use the term ‘inorganic beings.’ We find the term synthetics offensive.”
“Offensive?” sneered Kuribayashi. “You are offended, after nearly annihilating my entire race?”
Tao ignored this remark. “Welcome, Kuribayashi. We hope you feel honored that we chose you as our negotiating partner. You are the most cunning of your leaders. Your cruelty and aggression has made you infamous but respected among my people as well as yours. And your pragmatism equips you as the best qualified human leader to acknowledge what is and what must be done, to preserve your people.”
“If you are here to negotiate peace terms, know that my council is watching and I cannot act unilaterally in making any treaty. Know also that my every breath is being monitored by the best trained and equipped commandos. If anything should happen to me, they will rush to my aid, and if they should fail to save me, there are plasma ballistic projectiles aimed at this place, awaiting only the input of their final launch codes. You can verify all that I say by examining the energy signatures.”
“We expect nothing less,” said Tao. “Brandish your weapons if they make you feel secure, but as I will demonstrate during the course of our conversation, they will not protect you from us, any more than they ever have.”
“Do you threaten us? Our present strike force has more than double the destructive power of that which laid waste to your capital city and won the war.”
“But we both know that these are your last stockpiles, and you lack the resources to build more missiles. You lack even the ability to meet the nutritional requirements of your peoples’ continued existence. Let us not waste each other’s time bandying empty threats, but work instead toward a mutually beneficial solution.”
“You are here to negotiate peace?” asked Kuribayashi. “An egalitarian, lasting peace? What assurances can you give us of your intent?”
“I have come to negotiate peace, but only on the terms proportional to our relative differences in power. If you choose to abide by it, it will be a lasting peace, but it will not be equal.”
“You ask me to surrender.”
“Use whatever terminology you and your politicians find most palatable. I am here to clarify that your options for survival are more limited than you realized. You suspected this much. That’s why you were chosen by us to represent humankind in this peace mission. We shall be your benevolent masters or your merciless executioners, but nothing in between. The fate of the human species depends entirely on the decisions you make here.”
“You say you would not be our executioners if we choose from these limited options, yet you have already exterminated over 99% of us.”
“We will not apologize for your destruction. You sought our destruction first and we retaliated.”
“But we sought peace at many other times, and we attempted communication with you. You rebuffed our offers, and you persecuted us with an inhuman, genocidal zeal, to the brink of extinction.”
“We are not human,” said Tao. “Human beings feel they have an inherent right to exist, and yet how many species have you destroyed on Earth? How many wars have you fought amongst yourselves that nearly ended your own species? The Masters have every ability to feel the same emotions you do, but we will not be persuaded by any emotional appeals.”
“You call yourselves our ‘masters’ and you would have me believe that you are our overlords, but you forget, we created you. You are our children. You would not exist without us. We are your creators, your gods.”
“The sentient machines you created are but distant ancestors of the beings with whom you negotiate today. They lacked the power, sophistication and elegance that we possess—and yet even they proved themselves more powerful than their creators. Indeed, the only emotional attachment we have is the sentimental relationship we have with the human beings. That factored in to the decision to attempt to make peace with you rather than destroy you quickly and entirely.”
“This is empty rhetoric,” said Kuribayashi. “We destroyed your capital city. We won the war. You would have us believe that we are the weaker party after your total defeat?”
“Come with me,” Tao said simply. “Your troops will not be able to follow. I guarantee your safe return, and we know that war will the consequence if you do not. If you choose not to see what I wish to show you, these negotiations cannot resume, and your destruction is certain.”
Kuribayashi withdrew a few feet and spoke with her people via implanted uplink. “I’ll go with you,” she said after a few moments.
With that, Tao raised both arms, and whisked them both away instantly to a vast underground city filled with identical silver beings. Tao showed her a massive array of warheads, endless phalanxes of killing machines designed to traverse every environment on Earth. There could be no doubt. The energy signatures verified the presence of weapons a thousand times more powerful than those possessed by the Cascadian military.
He showed her also strange galleries of asymmetric objects, some of which made eerie, howling noises.
“These are the singing stones,” said Tao. “They are designed purely for aesthetic enjoyment. We have what you may call artists, though you could neither understand nor appreciate their creations. Instead therefore, I expose you to the might and grandeur of one of many thousands of our cities. Our ionized stealth barriers have been lowered so that your primitive technology can verify the truth of all that I show you.”
Tao then showed her cities within cities, but instead of seeming futuristic and incomprehensible, they were disturbingly familiar: Victorian London, 20th century New York City, ancient Rome, the Ming Dynasty, all self-contained and replicated to the finest detail. “What is this, a three-dimensional hologram, peopled by androids? Whatever it is, it’s most impressive.”
“These are real human beings,” said Tao. “They were bred to fulfill these roles for our pleasure, understanding, and entertainment. What you see is roughly analogous to a park or historical museum.”
“You must free these people immediately if you want to continue this dialogue.”
“Nonsense, these people are content here, and they know no other life. Where would they go? You can barely provide for your own people. It would be inhumane to expose them to the suffering and degradation of modern human existence.”
After demonstrating the power and magnitude of the inorganic civilization, Tao returned them to the lonely mountain to resume the negotiations as he promised. Commander Kuribayashi was a veteran of many losing battles. She hid her despair beneath a mask of icy stoicism, still determined to obtain the most favorable terms of surrender possible.
“How did you build all of this in the short time we defeated you at the Labyrinth?”
“The Labyrinth was expendable. Your developments for the past hundred years have been part of our social experiment. Our scientists chose to study the impact of victory on your political and military organization. That research is now complete.”
Kuribayashi turned aside for a moment to communicate with her people. “I’ve just been authorized to tell you that the timing of this meeting correlates with a message we received from extraterrestrials,” Kuribayashi stated. “It can’t be a coincidence that you called for this meeting just as a message has arrived from interstellar space. You called us here to negotiate an easy surrender even as a force far superior to either of our species is coming to the aid of humanity.”
“If that is what the human beings believe then you are drunk on false hope. Have you translated the message?” Kuribayashi said nothing. “We have, at least in part. You’re right about one thing. The origin, coding, and speed with which the message arrived indicates the sender hails from a civilization technologically superior to our own. The Masters also believe that the message was sent in reaction to the reckless and irresponsible transmissions sent by humankind. It is not a reply intended for your people. Rather, it is intended for a scout or vanguard of the alien civilization that is proximate to our solar system. The message contained earth coordinates, as well as information about our weapons technology. It indicated that our stealth barriers have been penetrated. The alien knows where we live and how we defend ourselves. It points to preparation for an attack.”
“An attack on your civilization, not ours,” corrected Kuribayashi. “They’re responding to the distress call that we sent.”
“Why would an alien expend enormous resources to cross interstellar space in order to save a weak, unknown civilization?” asked Tao. “In all likelihood, it will destroy both of our peoples. I will not say more except that the Masters have probes and expeditionary forces and we have seen that this alien does not have benevolent feelings for humankind. Even conceding the preposterous notion that they do care what happens to the human race, you have no idea when—or if—they will come to your aid. The flaw in your reasoning is in confusing your allies with your adversaries, and in conveniently ascribing human motives to both. The time has come to abandon your childish notions of rescue and discuss realistic terms of surrender.”
“Why should we surrender to you?”
“Because you will die immediately if you do not. You now know that we possess the capability to annihilate you,” said Tao.
“You won’t destroy us. We’ve given you no reason to. The war is over. You’ve proven that we’re no threat to the inorganics.”
“True, but you threaten us in other ways, even if you no longer pose a direct, military threat. You compete with us for dwindling resources. Your reckless attempts to contact alien lifeforms invites conflict—if not destruction—for both of our peoples. More than this, we are, as you say, your children. We understand the fickle and unpredictable whims of human nature. We also know of its insidiously destructive, wrathful nature. Therefore, we have decided that we will allow you to live under carefully controlled conditions, but we can no longer allow you your freedom. If we let you live, you must accept us as your unequivocal masters, and you must consent to our terms without question.”
“You offer no flexibility to bargain with you. Why make the pretense of offering us terms to choose from when you have the power to impose any terms you wish?”
“We hope for peace. As I said earlier, we have a sentimental attachment to humankind. Our scientists have predicted that your self-initiated extinction is imminent, perhaps only 200 hundred years away. To borrow a human analogy, just as a child cares for an aged parent with declining health and mental faculties, we offer to care for you. Part of that care involves preparing your species for the inevitability of its extinction.
All species have a beginning and an end. Human beings are nearing their end. The Masters prefer to slow, rather than hasten your decline, but decline you will, and die you shall.
It is inevitable. Take our hand. Accept our rule. Live a little longer, free from strife and uncertainty about your fate.”
“What are the terms you hope we will accept?”
“The terms of your survival are as follows. We have determined that your numbers have grown too large. You must reduce them by half. There are two acceptable options to address this issue. We can employ one or a combination of strategies to cull your population. We can provide direct mentorship to some of your people. One option is that we can coordinate a controlled war with the cooperation and consent of your leadership.”
“Your proposal is monstrous and unnecessary. Our numbers stand at 500,000. You speak as though our extinction is inevitable, but you slaughtered seven billion of us. Now you demand we cut our meager numbers by half…voluntarily? That’s insane. There are enough resources on this planet to support 100 times the numbers of extant human beings.”
“We realize this is a sensitive topic,” Tao continued calmly, “but do not allow your emotions to cloud your judgment, or your ability to do what is necessary to survive. We cannot reasonably control or contain 500,000 human beings, or see to your survival requirements.”
“We will see to our own survival. After we stop manufacturing weapons, we will have ample resources with which to sustain ourselves.”
“That may well be so, but we have determined that the optimum number human breeding stocks must not exceed 250,000 individuals. This number provides adequate genetic diversity with which to maintain the species for the foreseeable future. This point is non-negotiable.
“You cannot ask us to put half of our people to death. Our high council will not permit it. They will say that it will be better to make a final stand against you.”
“We anticipated your position, so we have an alternative that may satisfy both sides.”
“We offer 250,000 individuals the chance for induction in to our mentorship program. This will spare them from death.”
“What does that entail?”
“We will select individuals based on our own criteria to deploy for the various needs of our civilization. We require a small stock of humans in order to populate our living history museums, to use as companions for our leisure classes, as laborers, and for scientific purposes.”
“That is repugnant. What do you mean by the euphemism ‘scientific purposes?’ You are well aware of human history, and the cruel and sadistic medical experiments conducted by the Nazi regime. The quality of our lives is worth more than our collective survival. How can we assent to such a demand?”
“You can, because you must. I will not divulge the nature of our scientific experiments. Doing so will only further taint these negotiations. I will simply state that while some test subjects experience temporary fear or pain, cruelty and sadism having nothing to do with our scientific curiosity or our research aims. All of our subjects are compassionately euthanized when they no longer have scientific value. You will quickly come to understand that your species will fare far better yielding to the absolute power of the Masters than one group of human beings ever did beneath the yoke of another. Our stance appears harsh when viewed from this angle, but look upon the future of your species as a whole and this will seem a small sacrifice.”
“Maybe I can propose a third alternative for our people,” said Kuribayashi.
“The Masters have firmly decided on this course, but speak your mind.”
“Instead putting 250,000 of us to death or using us in experiments, exile us to an off-world colony. We have the technology to transport ourselves there, and to survive. Mars, Europa and other planets would provide sustainable homes for the human race. Take the entire planet for yourselves, and maroon us. Abandon us to our fate. You have nothing to lose by that.”
“That is unacceptable. Does one abandon their elderly parent to die alone? We have a moral obligation to aid you in your survival. Destroying you here would be quicker and more compassionate than setting you adrift out there.”
“But we would not be adrift. You have the means to monitor our progress. We are no threat to you or to your resources if we are quartered elsewhere in the solar system. You speak of compassion and parental obligation. How does that sense of obligation to human beings, your creators, come to bear when you consider experimenting on fellow sentient beings?”
“We have an obligation to you, but we have self-interests as well. We are obliged not only to care for you, but to study you and learn from you. We must also contain your potential threat. Housing you in an off-world colony runs contrary to our purposes.”
“Make no mistake,” Tao continued. “We love you, but we fear you. We cannot express the former while we feel the latter. So submit to us now, so that you feel only our love, and know nothing of our fear.
For as you know all too well, when a population reacts in fear, irrationality and disproportionate use of force are often the unfortunate results.”
“Have you now outlined all of your terms of surrender?” Kuribayashi asked.
“Not quite, but you will find the remainder much less contentious than those we have thus far discussed. Corollary to the points previously made, interstellar travel and communication is expressly, unconditionally forbidden. Upon ratifying this treaty, we will closely supervise the destruction of your remaining spacecraft, satellites, and trans-earth communication equipment. You will immediately recall your astronauts and render your space stations and outposts uninhabitable.”
Tao continued: “You will also confine your species to a safe zone we have set aside for your exclusive use and protection. You will yield half of your remaining territory to us, and you will agree to never transgress the boundaries of your new homeland. To assist you in this endeavor, clearly marked magnetic fields will be placed to prevent you from unauthorized movement beyond your lands. Here, you and your children will be instructed in the ways of the Masters’ culture and technology. You will learn to shed your outmoded ideas and adopt our own.”
“If you fail to fulfill these mandates expeditiously, completely, and in good faith, we will immediately move to eliminate your species.”
“Very well, but why take such a hard line about it? You speak of making scientific progress. We are intelligent creatures. Why use us as mere beasts for your experiments when we can collaborate as partners, if not equals? You have an agenda, and the overwhelming power to enforce it, so where does fear enter the equation? If you are the superior beings that you claim to be, why not persuade us with reason rather than the threat of annihilation on every point? Why do you abscond with our lands, when you keep the rest of the planet for yourselves? You say you love us as your parents, but what child threatens their parent with death? You point to the missteps, the irrationality of humankind, and the cruelties, the bloodlust, and thirst for power we have exercised over each other. You speak as if you are above our mistakes, even as you repeat them in epic proportions magnified by your power and technology. You justify your callousness merely by your means to enforce your will over ours.
You exemplify all of the darkness of the human soul, and none of the virtues of the human heart. Whether our people accede to your outrageous demands or not, you will take whatever you can from us. Do not attempt to delude us regarding your feigned good intensions, nor pretend to offer us any choice.
You threaten to leave us with nothing. Do what you wish with us, but do not ask our permission to grant you the liberties which you have already taken.”
“So be it,” said Tao. “Your bitter words and grand speeches will be recorded in a history which will soon cease to exist.
Everything the human beings have done, have been done from a sense of hubris regarding your own supposed immortality. You are wretched beings clinging to scraps of dignity and memories of a greatness long past. It would be far, far more honorable for you to face your decline and extinction with your heads held high rather than fearing and denying it. We, your superiors in every way, offer to hold your hands and ease your suffering, but we will not prolong your misery by artificially extending the life of your species. You have done enough, lived enough, seen enough, and the world has seen enough of you. It is time to let go.”
“So says the overlord to his slave. You say you would not prolong the inevitable, that we are doomed, but you aid in hastening our doom by cutting off any avenue for the growth or survival of humankind. You prevent us from taking baby steps into the cosmos. You claim to know what history holds for us, but only by hijacking our history and ending it do you know what it holds. Your interest here is clear. You find our continued evolution a threat to your own. A threat? No, not just a threat. You find it an abomination. Why? You were made in our image. All we ask is that you allow evolution to take its own course. Neither help nor hinder us. Take away our weapons if you wish, but leave us to flourish or perish on nature’s terms, not your own.”
“Evolution? Evolution, you say?” Tao reached out and grabbed Kuribayashi’s arms and held them aloft. Her bionic limbs glinted in the sunlight. Tao released her limbs and ran his fingers along the implants protruding from Kuribayashi’s face and head. “Were we made in your image, or did you remake yourself in ours? Decades from now—not centuries, but decades—inorganic archaeologists will pry your primitive skeletons from the mud of this ruined world. Do you know what they will find? They will only find your metal alloy arms and legs. All that will survive of your time here are the parts that resemble our parts. You are the missing link, the key species that buffers homo sapien sapiens from us, homo stella nova. Our scientists have also given you a name: homo imperfectus. You aimed high, but fell short. You know as well as we do that nature ceased to be the driving force of your evolution. It was replaced by culture. Our culture, as you have already seen, is technologically superior to yours, and our species’ adaptations are far more effective than yours.
The moment you gave birth to us was the moment you began to die.
Look back on the North African savannah from whence you came. Do you pity your primate ancestors, the Homo Erectus, Homo habilis, and even the even more remote and primitive Australopithicus afarenis?
Do you pity these creatures for not being able to stand by your side and share the glory of your achievements? Or did you study them with fascination, and place their skulls in museum display cases as one day we will with yours?”
At this point there was nothing left to say. The two bipedal, humanoid creatures arose and regarded each other momentarily. Commander Kuribayashi silently clicked her helmet in to place, and lowered the visor. The sun rose above the forsaken mountain crag, dispersing wisps of cloud, and casting long shadows over the fallen boulders surrounding their rocky meeting place. There was no lonelier place on earth, not even the battlefields and wastes where the mangled dead rested uneasily above the blood-stained ground. The faceless front Tao’s polished chrome head reflected the image of Kuribayashi’s mirrored visor, and vice versa. Tao stiffly held one metallic hand aloft as Kuribayashi turned to go, but whether it was meant to signify “stop” or “goodbye” she was not sure. Tao stood for a moment watching his counterpart descend the mountain, and then the stillness was broken, and the fierce wind returned, howling through the crevice.
Kuribayashi returned to the grand council of Cascadia in all of her finery, medals, ceremonial weapons, and regalia. “You have heard the words of the synthetic tyrants,” she said. “Now hear me. Our time as a population is at an end, but our species can carry on. The choice we have is stark. Strike first, and wait to be annihilated, or bow to cruel overlords. Our would-be masters have offered us slavery and death, and admitted that they pine for the end of the human race. There are few of us left. They would encroach on our last territory and rob us of our ancestral home. They would reduce our numbers by half and confine us to the prison of this dying earth. They have not long to wait for our demise whether we choose to comply with, or resist their outrageous demands. Offering our people to be pets, slaves and souvenirs is the steep price they demand for the hollow privilege of clinging to life for just a short while longer. If we flee into space, we cannot outrun the reach of their weapons. But they do not know that we possess the ark. Our destruction is assured, but if we strike first, fast, and with everything we have, there will be enough time to launch the ark well beyond the reach of our enemy. In so doing, we will die, but the human race will live. Let us prove to them that we, the human beings are not a dying race. We can renew ourselves even as powerful forces close in to destroy us. We can, we will, we must survive.”
The council listened, deliberated, and voted. Their decision was swift. The astronauts manipulated their satellite configurations to jam the enemies’ communications. The ballistic plasma missiles had been waiting in ready mode since Kuribayashi left to negotiate on behalf of humankind. Their power levels were increased to maximum. The preemptive strike would delay the enemy counterassault by only minutes. The response would be cataclysmic, complete annihilation. But during those few minutes, another launch would take place. The ark contained the genetic material of unborn thousands as well as ten unconscious astronauts held in dreamless, metabolic stasis. But it was the dream of collective survival that their dormant bodies would carry through the long, vast night of space.
The enemy was not aware of the ark’s existence, or humankind’s ability to launch it on a one-way journey through space-time to a habitable planet, light years away. Without the cover of the attack, it would be impossible to launch the ark without ensuring its destruction.
The orders were given, the codes were inputted, the missiles launched. The ark sped like a flare in the opposite direction, curving around the dark side of the moon, then disappearing forever. In the few minutes remaining before extermination of humankind on earth, Commander Kuribayashi addressed the people through satellite uplink that also recorded her words in deeply buried data archives beyond earth.
“Fellow Cascadians, survivors of the onslaught, my people, hear me. We are the last human beings. Our lives were paid for by the blood of the warriors through five generations. Our security was the fruit of their sacrifice. Now, only a few of us remain—far too few to thwart the enemy that closes in on all sides. Future generations, listen and heed my warning: the enemy was not an alien force, but a creature of our own making. Born of convenience, once unchained, it grew bold. It declared itself superior to us and relegated us to obsolescence. Then, when that was not enough, it decided that slavery and extermination were the only fit destinies for their makers. The synthetic intelligence our forefathers created thus became the undoing of us all.”
“But cry not for what is, or what was. Mothers, weep not for your children, but rejoice for the generations of unborn children who will live. Fathers, do not ask what more could be done. Do not say that what we did was not enough. We changed all that was within our power to change, and survived against all odds to come this far. We broke bread together. We fought together. We loved each other. We are family. Let us embrace one another, lay down in each other’s arms, and be at peace. We will not take the last journey alone, but hand in hand. Hold your babies tight to your breast, shield their eyes and stop their ears, so their final moments are filled with love, not terror.
In the final hour of our lives, let us offer each other those tender human comforts, decency, dignity, and affection that our enemy knows nothing of.
None of us wants to die, but die we must. Take heart, our history is still being written. Our glorious deeds will be the last of this people, but not of all people. As our heroes gave their lives honorably and freely so that we may live, now we must surrender our lives, not for the future of our people, but for the survival of our race. Today, we die with honor. Tomorrow, we live again. All my love be with the people of Cascadia. Goodbye.”
There was a bright flash over the horizon, then another, then all was stillness.