A Quiet Invasion
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They came quietly.

The stories they tell are of blinding lights and descending skies, of hairless green men carrying clean metal devices that spit searing beams in the name of conquest. Stories of destruction, of war, of worlds forced to bend a knee before the invaders.

I do not know why they hide the truth behind such flashy imagery. Perhaps they are ashamed.

An epoch ago, a group washed ashore on our beaches. We fed them, clothed them, and we let them into our houses while we brought them back from the brink of death. We called them cousins, for they resembled us.

Time passed. We got used to them, and soon enough, the sight of them around the hearth, exchanging stories from their world with our oral histories, was no strange matter.

Their tales enamored us; they told us of lands distant and far beyond, with structures grandiose, lush fields and ripe fruit. Each word from their honeyed tongues was like a balm on our weary hearts. When they offered to bring these wonders to us, there was not a single person who refused.

A generation later, and they sat amongst the Elders, working alongside us to bring their promise into fruition. Their verdicts then struck some of us as odd, but the results of their guidance spoke for themselves, and quelled what doubts we had.

By that time, they had become a part of us, and our next generation bore some of their marks. They nurtured the new generation with traditions unlike our own, but we let them, for they were as much of us as we were a part of them.

When we realised what had happened, it was too late. They had infiltrated every facet of our society, and we had let them. Blinded by the results of their work, we neglected to see what it had and would cost us. We shrunk and shrunk, our majority becoming a minority as more of what was supposed to be us became a part of them. When the issue finally came into light, we were in no shape to retaliate.

We tried to anyway. A final wave of resistance, a generation too late, rallied by me and helmed by the most capable of ours.

But that did not mean much, not by then.

I had to watch as we were cut down, unable to save us from the doom I had led us to. There were no blades, no metallic tubes that emitted scouring light. Only words, then silence. A seed of doubt was planted into all of our minds, and it slowly grew and grew, choking away our spirit with its tendrils. The results proved their way just as effective; we were defeated, and left empty.

They said they forgave us, but their actions after said otherwise. There was nothing overt, nothing as crass as physical imprisonment, or the torment of our flesh. They just continued to move away from us.

The years passed by. I watched my village get taken down, piece by piece, all in the name of "progress". What rose in its place was an abomination, an amalgamate of hard edges that turned the sun's rays from the land and back towards the skies. Not a trace of respect or dedication to the gods were seen; not a single banner to the One-Who-Conquered, no ribboned bells for The-Bringer-Of-Rain, no offerings for the Nurturer. The people that bustled around had our features, with none of that which embodied who we were.

They like to end their stories with a dramatic turn-around, a victory from the natives' side. I can't help but laugh, but maybe…

Maybe that is a sign. A sign that there is a spark of us still buried deep within them. Maybe, despite the defilement that buries their wholeness, a bit of what we once were raises its head in hope, in hope that they will be free one day.

In the room, a horde of them stand. I see myself, in each and every one of them. A sliver of my smile in the smallest one, a hint of my jaw and the shape of the ears in one of the adolescents, the similarities climbing slowly between each of them before ultimately culminating in the one next to me.

Half my face is half of his, a random assortment of traits copied directly off my own likeness. Amidst the valleys and crevices that remind me so much of my mother's in her twilight years, a pair of eyes, framed by silver hair a shade darker than my own, looks at my discoloured palm, which lays resting on the soft white surface which my body lays on, only two handspans away from his own. His skin, as bright as the afternoon sun, is in stark contrast to my own more natural tan.

Maybe…

Then his maw opens, and a torrent of outlandish gibberish emerges. Disgust wells in me. I scream at my body to get further away from him, but it does not listen.

No. Any remnant of us that could have been within them is now long gone.

And so I lay here, the last of my kind, surrounded by aliens with the faces of my kin.

They came quietly, and they took quietly.

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