The Kravarian
by Robert Alan Silverstein

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 his head 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 towards each other. The bright sunshine smiled down on them as they embraced and fell to the ground. And then Ross barked and jumped on them both, licking them and whining contentedly. Millig’s heart and his mind were filled peace and contentment and nothing else mattered. Nothing could shake this forever peacetopian moment, where there were no distant wars to fight and everything was fair and made sense and everyone got along peacefully and lived and let live…

He blinked to see the Kravarian staring at him, unblinking. "Go ahead, SHOOT!" the Kravarian seemed to say. "It's quiet now. But they'll be back to kill us both. Get it over with already!"

Millig blinked away the beads of sweat that stung his eyes and steadied his laser. He couldn't look away. "I...I don't want to kill you," he thought. All the anger he had 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 explosion.

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 whispered.

The shuttle door closed, taking the Earthling away from Kravaria forever. But Millig would never forget the Kravarian.




© 1984 Robert Alan Silverstein

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