Short Story: Meeksa and Benswint Are Called Home

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by Ralph Greco Jr.

“I’m sad to see them go.”

“Technically, we are the ones who are going.”

“Yes, I am aware of that, Benswint. But watching the planet recede in our viewer, it feels like they are going. Even now, you can’t lighten up?”

“‘Lighten up?’ You really have become infected by them, haven’t you?”

“I’d rather see it as affection.” 

“I guess I never succumbed to what you consider their charms.”

“Is that a surprise? Your caste is never about anything but the work.”

“You and I never would have survived a coupling, here or at home. You must know that Meeksa.” 

“That’s not what this is about, and you know it. All this time here, and you are not sad to be leaving, even a little?”

“No, I’m not.”

“As I said, it’s all about the work with you.”

“Why else were we here? We are scientists as much as we are soldiers. It is the way of us.”

           “It just all seems such a waste.”

“In attempting a full-scale invasion like this, set into motion across the span of decades, what happened here was an eventuality even the Overseers could not have foreseen.”

“You are aware of the human concept of irony?”

“Yes.”

“Wouldn’t you say it was realized here, tenfold?”

“As I understand the definition of that word and its inherent concept, yes, I would say that we have come up against quite a human irony, and since this is the only species, we have yet encountered who seemingly live their lives exploring that concept I’d say this irony is especially ironic.”

“Now you’re mocking me.”

“I was attempting to bring some levity into the discussion; ‘lighten up’ as you said. You are unusually morose today.”

“Because we are leaving!”

“Meeksa, consider this, especially as a student of their concepts and culture, as, admittedly, it was your job to be. This planet we leave today has seen plenty of instances in its history where an advanced human civilization has come to influence a less advanced one. We, a much more advanced civilization than any ever seen here, albeit not human and I dare think the most advanced that will ever be seen here, came to influence the lesser, wooed them with advancements to their advancements what they had and now have come to realize, and yes it is an ironic, I will grant you, that our very infiltration bled out of the lesser that which made the lesser in any way valuable enough to us to want to finally invade.”

“Exactly, and that doesn’t make me feel so good about being the more advanced.”

“That’s understandable, given your usual unyielding sense of compassion in these matters. And although I have no sense of or connection with it, please know I truly feel it is your greatest strength, as well as weakness, Meeksa. Surely, my lack of compassion for your compassion could very well be because of my caste, as you say…or simply the fact that I have realized better than you the futility of regret.”

“Another concept and word that we don’t know all that well.”

“Or at all. But why not consider how much worse you, particularly you, would feel had you been among the first grouping of us who came down, those of us who spent decades beyond what we had to endure, which led to interactions all for naught.”

“As you’ve said, I’d have to take some comfort in the fact that even the Overseers could not have foreseen that in us influencing this little green-blue ball in portable communication, it would bring about a planet-wide ennui. But they showed so much promise for eventual take over.”

“As much as invasion is the way of us, Meeksa, how they have succumbed to even our most benign of influences, and how they have now pretty much stilled their evolution even in the face of what they feel is their evolving, is, it seems, the way of them.”

“I know you cannot muster the compassion I need, Benswint, but for this long ride, can you at least offer me something to consider, something that will take my mind from this deep regret I do not want, but can’t help feeling? Please forget yourself for the moment; I so need comfort.”

“I…well…alright, here is what I can muster for now. You might find it comforting: Maybe just maybe, there is something to learn, not being able to conquer every world we reach out to.”

“You are right; we are scientists as much as we are soldiers.”

“Notice, I did say maybe.”