by Robert Alan
He spotted the Kravarian down the
barrel of his laser. Short and squat, with those
Kravarian eyes spaced just far enough apart to make you feel uncomfortable. And that
sickly green skin. Yet, somehow through his scope there was something appealing about
his enemy. He had never seen one up close. Just those grisly pictures in the Strategy
Clips. But there was the Kravarian ten meters away, shivering in the cold dark ditch, with
dirt clumps clinging in his spidery hair.
Corporal Millig dug his feet deeper
into the trench and kept the laser aimed. The
Kravarian just lay there, staring back, its black slits for eyes unblinking. Millig choked
down a gritty gasp of dirt and parched air and tightened his grip on the
trigger. "Well, run for it, Kravarian!" he thought angrily to himself.
A burst of violet light split the blackness
of the night. Millig threw himself back down
into the soil. Thunder shook the dirt from the ground, sending it flying everywhere.
Quivering, Corporal Milling looked
up. The Kravarian was still there. Distant flashes
and rumbles lit the sky, illuminating the barren, desolate land.
"Why are we still fighting!" Millig
groaned as the light disappeared, but the image
burned in his mind. "We've practically destroyed the entire planet." He shuddered as he
remembered how he had eagerly volunteered to come to Kravaria to stop the militant
uprising once and for all. "They're not even people," he remembered his voice saying.
"And they want a seat on the Galactic Council? After all the trouble they've caused the
Settlers!" Now as he lay in a trench a million miles from home,
he wished he'd never set off on the marine ship. Never heard of this horrid planet.
All his friends were gone. They'd left
him for dead. Just a nasty wound in his side, and a
dark, cold night met him when he awoke. And the Kravarian, alone too, shaking in the
ditch, staring with frightened anticipation. Millig stared into those silent eyes and he felt a
rush of warmth running through his body.
* * *
He looked out across the field at
his son smiling in the grass. Laughing, they ran
toward each other. The bright sunshine smiled down on them as they embraced and fell to
the ground. And then Ross jumped on them both, licking them and whining contentedly.
* * *
The Kravarian stared unblinking.
"Go ahead, SHOOT!" he seemed to say. "It's
quiet now. But they'll be back to kill us both. Get it over with already!"
Millig blinked and steadied his laser.
He couldn't look away. "I . . . I don't want to kill
you," he thought. All the anger he had felt . . . it had consumed him when he heard story
after horrible story. Now it didn't seem as real. There was just him and the Kravarian.
The Kravarian just stared back. For
a moment Millig found himself looking out through
the Kravarian's eyes. He saw the pale white Invader and he remembered the hatred and the
horrible things they'd done to generation after generation of his people.
Milling shook himself and clutched
the laser closer, still unable to look away from the
Kravarian. What was that barbarian doing to his mind? He wanted to look away, but their
gaze remained locked together, and the air was deathly quiet.
Then they heard the sounds of shuttles
and voices, and the Kravarian seemed to scream
with his eyes, "THEY'RE GOING TO TORTURE US. IT'LL BE HORRIBLE. SHOOT ALREADY!
GET IT OVER WITH . . . ."
Millig closed his eyes tightly and
pressed the trigger. He fell back when he heard the
* * *
An eternity later he was being
lifted onto a stretcher. He stared down at the
ground, at the laser which lay in a massless heap — someone had shot it out of his hands.
The Kravarian might still be alive! He felt groggy and tried to focus his eyes. He tried to
push himself up on shaky arms.
"Relax, Corporal," his rescuers urged.
"The war is over!"
And then he saw the Kravarian across
the rock-strewn ground. He too was being
rescued by his own kind. For a moment their gaze met once again.
"Farewell," the Kravarian's eyes seemed
to say over the sounds of the voices around him
and the engine of the shuttle that awaited Corporal Millig. "Farewell, my friend," Millig
The shuttle door closed, taking the
Earthling away from Kravaria forever. But Millig
would never forget the Kravarian.
© 1994 by Robert Alan
Illustration copyright © 1994 by Andrew G. McCann
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