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Love, war and the fate of humanity rest in Neanderthal hands.

The Children Of Earth Return

By Joe Reister © 2016

The man smelled the coffee and smiled.  “I think I’ll miss this most when we leave,” he said, handing it to the woman in bed and getting under the covers. 

“You’re not wrong,” she said, savoring a sip and squinting at the world.  “But it’s not enough to keep me here, Lawimh.”

“Is anything, Tes?”

She watched him and brushed the hair from his face.  “I’m still surprised that no one has figured out that we’re not quite human,” she said and kissed him.

“Why would they think otherwise?” he said, looking at her

“You’re right,” she said, tugging on his beard.  “I don’t have antenna or tentacles.”

He smiled again.  “I can shave when we leave.”

“No,” she said, snuggling into him.  “Keep the beard if you like.”

“I thought you hated it,” he said, giving her a squeeze.

“It’s grown on me.”

“Like a fungus?”

“Pretty much,” she said and laughed, drinking more coffee and giving him the cup.

Lawimh finished it as a low buzz swept through the room.

“The Japanese started early today,” Tes said and sat up, seeing the empty cup and frowning.  “I think we’re done here, Lawimh.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“I thought we had decided.”

“I thought we were still talking about it, and I think we can do more.”

“We haven’t done enough?”

The sky flashed and they both counted the seconds until they heard the explosions.

“Did you even ready my report?” Tes said.

“I did,” Lawimh said and slipped out of bed, walking to his dresser.  “But it’s not the whole story, Tes.”

“How can say that?” she said, pushing back the blankets and standing up.  “We saw when …”

“The report focuses only on recent events,” Lawimh said and started dressing.  “And while they are some of the worst in human history you missed…”

“I reported on the most advanced parts of human society, Lawimh: just as you requested,” Tes said and opened her wardrobe.  “And it shows that too few men have too much power.  We know where the Nuremberg laws will go, we saw the mass starvation in the Ukraine and the Japanese are literally bleeding Nanjing to death as we get dressed.”  She turned to face him.  “How can you say we haven’t seen enough?”

Lawimh buttoned his shirt, not saying anything.

“Japanese soldiers are competing right now to see who can cut off the most Chinese heads, Lawimh.  Their newspapers are reporting on it like it’s a football match, with the public cheering the winners, and that’s just the beginning.  The Germans, Soviets and Japanese plan to tear down this world’s order while its guarantors do nothing but pray for a miracle.  The British and French Empires have barely functioned since their Great War, and America, your shining hope, has shut its eyes to all of it.  The forecasts are dire.  Humanity is going to destroy itself within a generation.”

“I agree that the world war halted humanity’s development, Tes, but you’re ignoring the advances they made in the last hundred years,” Lawimh said and knotted his tie.  “They ended slavery, fed the destitute and gave females increasing rights that we couldn’t dream of at home.”

“You can’t compare them to us.”

“They have so much potential, Tes.  Humanity will…”

“You see more than is there, Lawimh,” Tes said, cinching her dress.  “They’re literally killing themselves to get ahead.” 

“They’re the only species to have settled the planet, Tes: something we so called Neanderthals never came close to doing.”

“We would’ve never killed each other to do so, Lawimh.”

“And we wouldn’t have rejuvenated ourselves time and again, Tes,” Lawimh said, buttoning his suit coat.  “Could we have survived their world war?”

“We wouldn’t have started one,” Tes said and pointed to the smoke rising from the city.  “Their entire civilization is built on killing each other, Lawimh.  Their leaders have already killed millions, openly threaten to kill tens of millions more and will soon be able to kill billions if they develop atomic weapons.”

He turned to her when a knock came from the door.

“Come in,” Tes said in Mandarin.

“They might not discover nuclear technology,” Lawimh said as a servant bowed to them. 

“Then you’re being naïve, Lawimh.  Their scientis…”

“The reason we’re here…”

“I know why we’re here.”

“… is to access humanity’s potential value to the rest of the universe and…”

“That potential is what frightens me, Lawimh.  Can you imagine what humanity would do with higher technology?  They would turn the Confederacy upside down...”

“You’re assuming the worst, Tes.  The Confederacy would never allow...”

“You asked me to assume the worst, Lawimh.  That’s why I’ve spent the last two generations on this planet.  To…”

“We’re here to access humanity’s potential and save them from themselves if necessary.  Just like the Confederacy saved us …”

“The Confederacy saved us from humanity, Lawimh?  We’d be dead if they hadn’t set us up on a colony beyond Earth.”

“That was 35,000 years ago, Tes.”

“And you don’t think they’d kill us today?”

“I think that a 35,000 year head start protects us, Tes, and the Confederacy would never allow them…”

“You have too much faith in the Confederacy.”

“And you have too little.  The Confederacy sees the same potential in humanity that they saw in us.”

“Because they’re ignoring the facts.”

“I know we’ve seen the worst of humanity, but you’re forgetting the best.”

“Tell that to the Chinese.”

They both turned to their servant, an older man who stood waiting, looking out the window. 

“Herr Rabe, a Japanese colonel and three soldiers are waiting outside,” the servant said into the silence.  “They would like to speak with you, sir.”

Tes’s face tightened.  “What?”

“I don’t know,” Lawimh said and left the bedroom.

“Rabe is the Nazi?” Tes said, following him

“I know who he is, Tes,” Lawimh said, frowning as he noticed the servant following her. 

“I thought you delivered…”

“I did,” Lawimh said, switching out of Mandarin and pointing to the servant.  “That man has been loyal to us since he was a boy.”

“And your point, Lawimh?” Tes said as they continued past two younger servants, ignoring their bows.

“Would you let him and those young girls and the other dozen servants we have die because you predict humanity will kill itself in a generation?”

“Excuse me?” Tes said and they stopped at the front entrance, another servant bowing to them.  “You know we’re taking them to America.”

“I do, but that doesn’t mean...” 

“They’re leaving tomorrow, Lawimh.”

“You said even America wasn’t safe, Tes.”

Her mouth tightened.  “I have hope no matter what the numbers say, Lawimh,” she said, biting back a frown.  “And you know I wouldn’t let anything happen to these people.”

“Good,” he said and nodded to the older servant. 

The man opened the doors and Lawimh stepped out onto the front courtyard to see two more servants looking pointedly past a Japanese colonel, three soldiers and a European businessman.  “I thought we had concluded our initial business, Herr Rabe,” he said in German.

“I am sorry, Mr. Lawimh,” Rabe said.  “We had.”

“Then why they you here, Herr Rabe?”

“I do not understand,” the colonel said in accented Mandarin.

Lawimh turned to the colonel.  “Why are you here?” he said in Mandarin.

The colonel’s eyes narrowed on Lawimh, and the three soldiers stepped forward.

Lawimh’s eyes stayed on the colonel.  “Again, why are they here, Herr Rabe?” he said as Tes slipped out onto the front courtyard and stood behind him.

“The colonel says the Japanese expect the second payment now that thousands of Chinese civilians have entered the safety zone, Mr. Lawimh.”

“That was not the agreement, Herr Rabe,” Lawimh said as Tes sized up the colonel and the three soldiers.

“I agree, Mr. Lawimh, and yet,” Rabe said, nodding to the soldiers.

The colonel frowned.

“The one with the sword is in the newspapers, Lawimh,” Tes said.

“That’s not helping matters, Tes.”

“My apologies,” she said, noticing the swastika pinned to Rabe’s lapel. 

“What are you speaking?” the colonel said and stepped toward Lawimh, his soldiers right with him.  “That’s not a language I’ve heard.”  He stared at Lawimh and Tes’s faces, his eyes narrowing on their broad features.  “They don’t look quite human, do they, Sergeant?” he said, switching to Japanese.

“No, sir,” the one with the sword said.

“Your army has shown a level of inhumanity I thought impossible from a millennia old civilization, Colonel,” Lawimh said in Japanese, looking the man right into the eye. 

The colonel looked back at Lawimh and one soldier leveled a rifle at his head, the bayonet pointed at his right eye.

“Do you think that will get you anything?” Lawimh said, not moving.

“Kill him, Sergeant,” the colonel said and turned to the other two soldiers.  “Then kill the woman and everyone in the house.” 

“No,” Lawimh said, moving suddenly and bashing the rifle into the soldier’s face. 

“Sergeant,” the colonel said before the first soldier hit the ground.

The second solider drew his sword as the third pulled up his rifle.

Lawimh pivoted as the sword flew toward him.

Then the second soldier fell.

Rabe turned wide-eyed to Tes when the third soldier collapsed, clutching his chest.  She turned her pistol onto the colonel.

He stood still.

Rabe and the servants stared as Lawimh snatched the colonel’s pistol from his belt. 

“Tell your superiors that the rest of the funds will be delivered as discussed,” Lawimh said.

The colonel looked down at his soldiers. 

“Escort the colonel out of the zone and then clean up this mess,” Tes said, her pistol still leveled on the colonel’s face.

The servants nodded.

Rabe turned to Lawimh.

“I trust this will not happen again, Herr Rabe,” Lawimh said, handing him the colonel’s pistol.  “Another meeting like this will be much less pleasant.”

“Yes,” Rabe said, blinking at the dead soldiers as Lawimh and Tes returned to the house.  “I imagine it would, Herr Lawimh.”

He walked through the door and Tes grabbed his bloody hand.  “The colonel will return with more men.”

“Those soldiers aren’t what we’re fighting for, Tes,” Lawimh said, taking a cloth from a servant and wrapping it around his wrist. 

“I didn’t say they were, Lawimh.”

“They’re a blip in human history, Tes, nothing more,” he said, turning to her.  “Nothing we can’t fix.”

She stared at him, took in a breath, and then turned, walking back to their bedroom.

Later that night she stood in front of their untouched bed, a suitcase at her feet. 

“The Japanese are firing parts of the city,” Lawimh said, coming into the room and seeing the flickering lights through the windows. 

“And it’ll get worse,” Tes said.  “The Japanese plan to kil…”

“I know it’s bad, Tes, but Rabe…”

“The Nazi?”

“Yes, the Nazi,” Lawimh said, straightening up.  “Rabe’s used the German/Japanese alliance to get as many Chinese into the diplomatic zone as he can.  Now he’s now distributing food and organizing the means to get them out of Nanjing.”

“I know, Lawimh, but what does it say if you’re counting on Nazis to lead the way?”

“Most humans will do the right thing in the end, Tes.”

“Tell that to the dead, Lawimh.”

“They just need a fresh start.”

“They’ll do the same thing whether they’re on this planet or another.  Their true nature won’t change.”

“If Rabe can see the light so can the rest of humanity,” Lawimh said.  “They’ve done great things, and will aga…”

“The Confederacy wants humanity for its ruthlessness, Lawimh: nothing more, nothing less,” Tes said and picked up her suitcase, looking him in the eye.  “They’re killers, and we’re bound to lose control.”

“The Confederacy won’t allow that, Tes.”

“They might not have a choice.”

“We will, Tes.  You’ll see.”

“This is beyond the mission, Lawimh,” she said, touching his face.  “And I’m leaving tonight.”

“I can’t allow that, Tes,” Lawimh said, taking her hand.  “We’re going to America tomorrow.”

“You’ll need me on the outside,” Tes said, squeezing his hand. 

He looked at her and let go.

She leaned in and kissed him, and he just watched her leave.

He walked to the window, but she was gone.  He saw a young woman with a girl scurry along the edge of his property, ducking down as two Japanese soldiers approached.  The woman pushed the girl further behind her and pulled out a pistol.  She pointed it awkwardly at the first soldier, but lowered it as they kept walking. 

Then the woman turned to the closed gates to the safety zone and looked at his house. 

He took in a breath.  “I hope I’m right.”


All material copyrighted by Joe. Please contact him at joe@joestories.com if you have any comments, queries or questions.
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