I watch as the last of the other scouts leave our quarters to either meet with the Commander or to complete some other drill or task. Is there a reason why I’ve been left … alone?
To distract me from these thoughts, I wander over to the viewscreen.
“Show me S33-P19,” I command.
Immediately there is an image of Avoralo, as the inhabitants once called this planet. My last mission took place there.
“Show me Usera,” I ask quietly, wondering what I will now see of this city.
Where once regal structures stood, as a marvel to even their own people, destruction reigns. The buildings were razed down to the ground. Very little remained of the fair city, except for piles of rubble. I touch the screen, selecting other images to examine. Here and there are glimpses of the remnants of a once strong race, now reduced to slavery at the hands of the Nosram.
I review the footage of the initial takeover. The Nosram used another species as live bombs, dropping them from great heights. The life forms screamed as they plummeted from the ships causing panic to those below. As if that wasn’t demoralizing enough to those on the ground fighting, the bombs exploded mid-air, raining blood, gore and body parts all over. Those on the ground soon found the bombers had been poisoned, their sprayed blood spread a toxin in the air and wiped out any of the populace that was nearby.
“Show me, S11-P17.”
Another mission. Another planet gutted until all it’s good for is as a military base or a dump site.
I call up the other cities and planets on which I was assigned a mission. I move quickly through the images as though in preparation for yet another mission. Some planets are gutted and all the life forms are taken. The majority of them are either exterminated with only a few healthy select specimens remaining to study or the species is enslaved on a planet elsewhere. On one planet, the buildings are left abandoned. Food preparation and the labors of the day are all left within a moment of time. Entire cultures are wiped out down to the most minute piece of grit and grime. I stare with reluctance at images of craters that exist where mountains once loomed above fertile valleys of Nahkubar. The blossoming trees, the people, the way of life … all gone. All I can think about now is the Caysas haven’t done anything to deserve annihilation like this.
I flip through more images, recalling all the other missions I’ve ever heard about.
“What are you doing?” another scout asks quietly from behind me.
I was obviously so intent on my study that I didn’t hear it enter our quarters. I feel no guilt in looking at the images, nor, do I realize, was the question accusatory, more out of curiosity.
Without turning to face the other, I merely continue. “Reviewing the Nosram’s conquests.”
“Is that what happens when they take over?” the other scout asks, walking up alongside me.
“It looks that way,” I reply, willing my voice to remain steady.
“I didn’t realize …”
“Neither did I,” I murmur, unable to look away from the images saturated with destruction.
“If they’re going to destroy everything anyway, what do they need us for?” it asks.
“I don’t know.”