The Mercy of Humans: Part One
I had heard about humans. Everyone in the Galactic Confederation knew about humans. Descended from predators, they were often violent, even to each other. They were contrary, illogical, confrontational and worse, easily angered. In the three hundred narns since the humans discovered FTL, they had dozens of armed confrontations with many peoples, including several Confederation members.
Once, they had gone to war with a trade consortium because the Tloung-hi had blockaded the Ublot’s home system. A human cargo ship had contracts to deliver products to the Ublots and when they attempted to do so, the Tloung-hi destroyed them.
The Tloung-hi were unprepared for what happened next. Humans have a fetish for something they call ‘free trade.’ Add to that, humans as a whole took offense to the Tloung-hi destroying that one ship. You would have thought they were of the same nest but most of their people did not even know the names of the thirty some humans who died.
Several hundred human warships descended upon the Ublot system and completely destroyed the Tloung-hi blockade and then proceeded to hunt down any Tloung-hi ship within fifty light years. They only stopped when the Tloung-hi capitulated, offered financial restitution, and agreed to never attack a human vessel again. Needless to say, after losing more than a hundred ships, the Tloung-hi were fully prepared for the third demand.
When the Confederation offered the humans membership, the humans refused, citing the laws of the Confederation were incompatible with their Constitution, something about universal rights. I do not completely understand it all. But the Confederation leaders, those with real power, decided to isolate the humans and refused them passage in Confederation space. That did not work. The humans still travelled brazenly in Federation space and no members desired to challenge them militarily.
I sat outside the ruins of my home, holding my youngest hatchling, wondering when she would take her last breath. I was not alone. All over my planet, other parents did the same. Some already mourned.
It had been thirty-nine days since a series of solar flares had decimated my home system. Overnight, the planet’s infrastructure was completely destroyed. There was no power and little clean water. Crops failed and livestock died. What land not suffering severe drought was subjected to monsoons or hurricanes. Some of these hurricanes spanned entire continents.
In space, all our orbital platforms had failed. The largest had even crashed to the ground. Further out, past the fifth planet and in the asteroid fields, some platforms and factories survived. But not enough to help. We asked the Confederation for help but so far, none has come. Oh, they had promised to help. They claimed it would just take time.
Not in time to save billions of lives. Not in time to save my little Y’dochka. Tears fell down my face as I looked at my little girl. Her feathers had fallen out days ago. Her skin burned and was painful to the touch. She occasionally regained consciousness, smiling up at me. Touching my face. Breaking my heart even further. I was helpless to save her.
I heard the crack of a distant sonic boom, then another. Dozens more followed. I looked up to see dozens, no hundreds of flaming paths as more debris entered the atmosphere. What now? More destruction? What had we done to displease the gods so?
But it was not debris crashing down. The objects slowed, changed directions and slowly I could see the outline of shuttlecraft. Ships I had never seen before. I stared in wonder as a second wave of booms cracked through the blistering heat. As far as the eye could see, ships dropped from space.
I felt a twinge of hope as one separated from the pack and slowed to a gentle stop over my home. Gracefully, almost delicately, the ship touched down. Steam hissed from exhaust ports and I could see the heat shimmering above the giant shuttle as the rear ramp lowered and dozens of beings ran out. Some pulling grav-pallets of cargo. One ran up to me and stopped.
Humans were the boogeymen of the Confederation . Nobody crossed them. Nobody really trusted them. Only criminals consorted with them.
Everyone knew that. I thought that. But I was wrong.
“Here,” the large human said as he dropped to my side. He had some sort of device on his shoulder that translated his words. “I have a medpac. We can save her.”
“But your medpacs will not work on Dalutians,” I answered. I dared not allow myself to hope.
“We planned for that,” the human waved a flashing metal wand over my child. “These medpacs are designed for your people. With the solar flares and your physiology, we knew we would need medicine for the burns and infections. Artificial skin to cover the worst. It has built in painkillers. But she needs fluids. I took a crash course on how to start IVs for your people.”
I must have looked stupid to the human. I just could not accept what was happening.
“Here. You are not as bad as her, but need some fluids, too. This has concentrated electrolytes and medicine to help you. Food will be ready pretty soon.”
The pouch he handed me, and it was a he as I had read that only their males had facial hair, was full of a cold fluid. I took the straw and drank greedily as I watched the man tend to my daughter. As he did, others dragged pallet after pallet out of the shuttle. Some started assembling some sort of prefabricated buildings while others ran through my little village, offering help where they found the need.
“Thank you,” I said softly. “I have nothing to repay you.”
“No need. We came to help.”
“But why? You are not part of the Confederation . My people have rarely even encountered yours.”
“So? You needed help. We had help to give,” the human never stopped treating Y’dochka. He had pierced the large artery in her left leg with a needle attached to a bag of greenish fluid. “Right now, there are fifty cargo vessels in orbit with relief supplies and a dozen Nightingale class hospital ships. Once my people have the hospital built, we can treat the worst of your injured.”
“Even the Confederation could not… did not send this kind of help.”
“Shit, this is just the first wave. In a day or so, a hundred more ships will be here, then even more after that.”
“Your government sent so much?” I was dumbfounded.
“No. I mean, some of them are Terran Navy, maybe six cargo ships and all the Nigthingales. The rest are private ships with volunteers and donations from my people to yours.”
“Again, why? We are not allies. Your people even dislike the Confederation .”
“One, your people are not the Confederation . And two, we do not need allies. Alliances are political things and allies can betray you when it is in their best interest. We find that having friends is better.”
“But we are not friends.”
“We weren’t. But we are now. My name is Oliver Pierre.”
“I am Lakhul Solmnar. My daughter is Y’dochka. You said that most of your people are civilians?”
“Yep. An odd bag, too. Got two ships of nuns from the Sisters of Charity, four ships full of Mormons. They always show up where there are disasters. Two ships from New Damascus. They provided most of the medical supplies. About a dozen ships full of the crazy Vikings from Ny Österlen. They are the closest to your planet. And a bunch more.”
“I still find it hard to believe. Just… why you would help us.”
“There is a saying among some of my people. We call it the Golden Rule. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Then there are others that believe in karma. Hell, old David over there was a Boy Scout. He always says to do one good deed every day.”
“I do not know this word, karma.”
“It is a belief that the good or bad you do in this life determine your next one. Put simply, ‘What goes around comes around.’ I don’t quite know if reincarnation is real. But why take a chance, eh?”
I did not know what to think. It was all so alien.
“Ok. I have Y’dochka stabilized. We can move her to the hospital. She might need to go up to one of the ships for full treatment. These burns look pretty bad.”
The human carefully picked up my daughter as if she was a precious toy. My people were barely half the size of humans.
I followed him as he trotted to this freshly built hospital. Everywhere I looked, humans were doing the same for others in my village. I felt hope for the first time in weeks.
Yes, humans were a bit scary. They were huge and powerful. They were descended from predators. Maybe they are a bit prone to violence at the smallest provocation, or even contrary, illogical, and confrontational. I say, so what? In our time of need, when our allies sent platitudes and empty promises, when the trade consortiums waited to pick over the corpse of our system, the humans sent help. Out of all the known peoples in the galaxy, only the humans showed up in our time of need.
I tell you that the humans are also kind, compassionate, selfless, and even friendly, though I still do not understand their humor.
Allies? The human was right. My people needed less allies and more friends. From this day forth, I would thank the gods for that lesson.
Part II coming soon!
Republished with permission from the author, Reddit user u/LordCoale. Image created using Stable Diffusion.