The third sun had set and the night was cooling. The sand had been absorbing the warming light of the day and it would glow a gentle fuscia until the suns came up again. Yousef stood up and dusted off his robes. He looked up at the night sky and silently named the constellations he knew. How quiet and peaceful it seemed up there. Then he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and began walking towards his village.
Yousef could feel the excitement coursing hot through his veins. He knew he decision was the right one, and to hell with what Father thought. Grandfather came here in search of a new start, and he almost lost his life with that new start barely in sight. The Zhukin saved Grandfather’s life, and by extension gave Yousef his life. Yousef owed his very existence to a race of beings that must have seemed very strange to Grandfather.
The Zhukin are very much like humans, but they are so much more advanced. Humans and Zhukins look almost identical, with eyes for seeing and a nose for breathing, but a Zhukin has neither ears nor a mouth. He doesn’t need them because they have evolved with the ability to communicate using brainwaves alone. They make no sounds at all. Grandfather must have found it quite bizarre the first time he walked into a Zhukin hall and found it to be absolutely silent.
The Zhukin had welcomed Grandfather and his companions as if they were Zhukin themselves. They were given care and food, homes and opportunity, and protection from the Zukhani.
For all the empathy and peaceful nature of the Zhukin, the Zukhani had none of these. Zhukin and Zukhani had been closely related, but generations of evolution and the Zukhani’s own genetic alterations of their DNA had created stark differences. The Zukhani were a violent and dominating people, and would have either killed Grandfather’s group or forced them into slavery.
Yousef was deep in thought when he noticed movement on the other side of the road. It was a figure walking towards him, but it didn’t seem to have noticed Yousef. Yousef was always quiet in his mannerisms and kept his movements to only those necessary. He was well-obscured by the night. Yousef stopped completely.
The figure continued walking and passed Yousef. Yousef watched and saw that the man was a Zukhani. He was also alone. Yousef picked up a rock and silently crossed the road. The Zukhani must have sensed Yousef’s presence because he wheeled around in one fluid motion. He threw off his robes, revealing a pale torso and long, reedy arms. His mouth gaped open, his teeth short and pointy, his eyes nearly closed in slits. He held a long knife in his right hand.
Yousef cocked his arm back and smashed the rock with enthusiasm into the Zukhani’s face. They both fell to the ground and Yousef raised the rock and brought it down in the Zukhani’s face over and over. Dark blood, first a trickle, now exploded out of his head as Yousef broke through his skull.
Yousef sat on top of the motionless body next to the road. He dropped the rock and wiped his face with his robe. He stood up and looked down at the man he just killed. It has begun, thought Yousef, and he continued walking home.