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Living Memory

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My first memory is of my father's voice. It was not lovely, like my mother's, but it meant home in a way that I've never been able to describe correctly.

My parents were foreigners, who moved to this world for refuge from the war that raged in the rest of our galaxy. My father was scarred horribly by the war, and by the time I found the courage to ask him about his injuries, it was too late. When I was a child, I would ask him to tell me stories. It's something every child does, I think. We all want to know where we came from.

He used to tell the best stories.

The Chinaa speak of The Ancestors in hushed tones and with a reverent emphasis. All of my friends grew up with stories of the mighty Ancestors - how they shaped worlds and were once our guardians against the Wraith. My parents never said such things, and in fact my mother often criticized such blind devotion in the privacy of our home. She told me that ten thousand years is too far into the past for anyone's memory to stretch, and that the Ancients (as she called them) had cared for none but themselves. She never told me how she knew such things.

Instead of the Ancestors, my father told me stories about his own people. They were proud and honorable, in the days before the hives swept through our stars like a plague. Unlike the Chinaa, who have never left the ground, my father's people were given the gift of flight by the goddess of war. She came to them and showed them how to craft ships that cut cleanly through the great black of space. She taught them to speak across vast distances using only their minds, so that they might never be alone. And then, she charged that they leave their homes and travel to new worlds to spread the teachings of an honorable life.

For many years, they followed her teachings, and they prospered. But one day, one of the now-many queens made war upon another, and the ways of honor were left behind for the ways of greed. Many forgot the goddess, and embraced a chance for power of their own. Then, the Wraith came, and all life was forever changed.

When I was small - when the sun still shone with a friendly and welcoming warmth, before the coming of the clouds and the darkness and the endless rains - I would dress in my mother's shawl and run around the gardens as the goddess of war, ordering the herbs to go forth and spread honor. I begged my father for months to teach me the ways of the honorable warrior, but he always refused. He said that he had seen too much war, and that he wanted me to have no part in it. Finally, he told me that he could no longer do the goddess justice, because of his injuries, and to offer less than he had been capable of would be an insult. I believed him, then, for I saw the pain in his eyes. I never asked again. My only comfort was that he refused my brothers as well.

As I grew older, the stories became less frequent as my father grew frailer. The war had damaged him more than we knew, and during my eighteenth summer we cast his ashes to the wind. He did not live to see me marry, or to see my brothers take on the farm with my mother's death the year after. He did not see my sister join the service of the Ancestors (and neither did my mother, thank goodness). He did not see many things, yet I cannot believe that he is gone.

For I have a daughter, and every time I tell her of the goddess of war, I know that some part of him survives.

My name is Emma Kilgal, though my family name was Kenmore.

My father's name was Michael.

~ Finis ~