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Marked in Flesh (The Others #4)
Author: Anne Bishop

A Brief History of the World

Long ago, Namid gave birth to all kinds of life, including the beings known as humans. She gave the humans fertile pieces of herself, and she gave them good water. Understanding their nature and the nature of her other offspring, she also gave them enough isolation that they would have a chance to survive and grow. And they did.

They learned to build fires and shelters. They learned to farm and build cities. They built boats and fished in the Mediterran and Black seas. They bred and spread throughout their pieces of the world until they pushed into the wild places. That’s when they discovered that Namid’s other offspring already claimed the rest of the world.

The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat.

Wars were fought to possess the wild places. Sometimes the humans won and spread their seed a little farther. More often, pieces of civilization disappeared, and fearful survivors tried not to shiver when a howl went up in the night or a man, wandering too far from the safety of stout doors and light, was found the next morning drained of blood.

Centuries passed, and the humans built larger ships and sailed across the Atlantik Ocean. When they found virgin land, they built a settlement near the shore. Then they discovered that this land was also claimed by the terra indigene¸ the earth natives. The Others.

The terra indigene who ruled the continent called Thaisia became angry when the humans cut down trees and put a plow to land that was not theirs. So the Others ate the settlers and learned the shape of this particular meat, just as they had done many times in the past.

The second wave of explorers and settlers found the abandoned settlement and, once more, tried to claim the land as their own.

The Others ate them too.

The third wave of settlers had a leader who was smarter than his predecessors. He offered the Others warm blankets and lengths of cloth for clothes and interesting bits of shiny in exchange for being allowed to live in the settlement and have enough land to grow crops. The Others thought this was a fair exchange and walked off the boundaries of the land that the humans could use. More gifts were exchanged for hunting and fishing privileges. This arrangement satisfied both sides, even if one side regarded its new neighbors with snarling tolerance and the other side swallowed fear and made sure its people were safely inside the settlement’s walls before nightfall.

Years passed and more settlers arrived. Many died, but enough humans prospered. Settlements grew into villages, which grew into towns, which grew into cities. Little by little, humans moved across Thaisia, spreading out as much as they could on the land they were allowed to use.

Centuries passed. Humans were smart. So were the Others. Humans invented electricity and plumbing. The Others controlled all the rivers that could power the generators and all the lakes that supplied fresh drinking water. Humans invented steam engines and central heating. The Others controlled all the fuel needed to run the engines and heat the buildings. Humans invented and manufactured products. The Others controlled all the natural resources, thereby deciding what would and wouldn’t be made in their part of the world.

There were collisions, of course, and some places became dark memorials for the dead. Those memorials finally made it clear to human government that the terra indigene ruled Thaisia, and nothing short of the end of the world would change that.

So it comes to this current age. Small human villages exist within vast tracts of land that belong to the Others. And in larger human cities, there are fenced parks called Courtyards that are inhabited by the Others who have the task of keeping watch over the city’s residents and enforcing the agreements the humans made with the terra indigene.

There is still sharp-toothed tolerance on one side and fear of what walks in the dark on the other. But if they are careful, the humans survive.

Sometimes, they survive.

As humans it is our right, our destiny, to claim the world for ourselves. We must display the fortitude needed to wrest the land away from animals who hoard water and land, who have no use for resources such as timber and oil, who make no contributions to art or science or better living conditions for anyone. We cannot become the supreme beings we were meant to be as long as we allow animals to frighten us into believing we have to submit to the boundaries they set. The human race has no boundaries. If we stand together, we will be invincible. We will be the masters, and the world will belong to us first, last, and forever.

—Nicholas Scratch, speaker for the Humans First and Last movement

It’s always about territory. It’s about taking care of your pack, about having food and good water. It’s about having enough of those things so your pack can survive and your pups can grow up. Other or human, it’s what we all want. And when one kind of animal overruns an area to the point where many kinds of animal begin to starve, it’s up to the predators to thin out the herds before there’s nothing left for anyone. That’s a simple truth whether you’re talking about deer or humans.

—Simon Wolfgard, leader of the Lakeside Courtyard

N,

We must strike soon to achieve a swift and victorious result. Rally our allies and begin the diversions that will keep eyes focused away from Thaisia’s ports. Ship whatever you can, however you can. A hungry army cannot fight the enemy we face. As soon as those last ships are secured in our ports, we will claim what rightfully belongs to the Cel-Romano people and wipe out the vermin currently overrunning the virgin farmland.

—Pater

To: All HFL Plains Chapters, Thaisia

Proceed with stage one of the land reclamation project.

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