It was foretold by the Oracle that the dark days would come, when we—the Abassa sentinels—would have to lay down our glorious wings in sacrificial exchange for freedom. And of course, when the day came, it was much like any other ending: sudden, sharp and laden with the burden of knowing that everything was no longer to be the same.
On that fated day, we Abassa did not find it easy to release our wings to the enemy, but still we succumbed to the rituals of abject loss. We stood tall and unflinching—stretching our lanky, skeletal forms upright—before the chopping hand of the great Mikownas; where, we were de-winged: cut deep in our shoulder blades. We succumbed to the formation of our wounds that did not bleed, but forever will symbolize the scarification of defeat. We knew, by the laws of Kasaba, we had no choice but to abide to the findings of the Oracle; hence, this butchering ritual. Or else, we would doom the millions of generations to come to an existence worse than extinction.
Each of our wings was placed on the great slate; one on top of the other, until 30 scores high. At this point, green moss was sprinkled along the edges of the offering, along with urns half-filled with pure water from the Inkeneke Creek.
It was the Helpers who fetched the water and moss. They too laid our wings down gently, crisscrossing them for reinforcement. The Helpers, who suddenly appeared out of the Ether, arrived simply to fulfill prophesy, whose unrelenting time had come. The Helpers were the keepers of tradition, thus, performers of the unfolding of a tragic coming to pass of the foretold. They worked quickly and with humility, despite their—albeit temporary—importance. Those non-descript life forms, with a strength that belied their petite and amorphously inexpressive frames, darted hither and tither lifting those our mighty wings effortlessly.
In contrast, we fearless Abassa stood immobile—disbelieving—with our right hands placed over our missing left breasts, to recall the oft forgotten legend of how we had purposefully sliced them off to accommodate the use of titanium bows-and-arrows during the era of crude warfare.
Those had been the days: simple and bloody days of substance, in a time when battles were fought for worthy causes. And were won, only by the brave.
But those warring days were long gone: Since then, several of us Abassa sentinels had become soft, due to the plentiful years lived under the reign of hard-won peace.
It is during that time of amity that our greater empire also flourished: It increased exponentially from the small hamlets on insignificant stars, into gigantic conglomerations of planetary constellations, linked by pathways of diplomacy and compromise. That initial blood-letting of ours had served to annihilate the differences in speech and practice amongst us, subjecting the multitude of universes to a melding of ways, which created the melting mêlée of so many Other worlds turned Similar. It produced a galaxy of uniformity and conformity, which had no other destiny but that of a mediocre ceasefire-existence, plus—of course—we Abassa sentinels gone soft, in the absence of any unique principle to defend.
Yes, through that peace-time, we had all become nothing but an uneventful merger of mimicry that resided in configurations of certain confined places, within the norm called “Our (usual) Way of Life”.
This was until the Horn of Blunder sounded to mark the coming of the end and the need for we Abassa to fight once again—but only for one last time.
I Murati, chief warrior, still cannot believe that we are here, now, at the end of a magnificent empire that arose—numerous centenaries ago—to rule the galaxy in its infinitesimal infinity. It did so, as a kingdom, if such a word would suffice to describe the extent and benign beneficence of our, then, Odaman guardianship of the multitude of integrated universes.
At that time, the wise ones amongst our many diverse species benefited from our sentinel victories, for they became the leaders of our neatly packaged peaceful worlds within worlds, within worlds, within other worlds. Those elders of ours, formed a council of ten long-haired individuals, who over the very long peace-time also epitomized a slothful obese immobility, simply as a consequence of doing nothing more than sitting-and-thinking for far, far too long. No decision was left untouched by the minds of those wise ones, and soon their continued agreement meant there was no need for any decisions to be made at all. Through them, we were one in thought, mind and deed; we were captivated by the fear that is inherent in any paralysis of being, which is unable to understand what it means to be autonomous, different and negotiating of our places in opposition to those of others’, or what it means to strive for unity, in essence, amidst diversity in outward appearances.
They had been our wise rulers, or so we thought, until a small—but necessary—careless action set up a chain reaction, down a path that the wise ones had sought to reason out of existence. But they could not. Proving that wisdom too has its weakness, and it is that of flaunting itself against the divinity of destiny.
After all, what is foretold is to hold; if even it must wait patiently against the foolhardiness of those who are blind to the inevitability of the tides of time.
And now, finally, that time is here. It has wrested free from the stasis of our indifference. It is here, and it is our enemy: invisible and unseen. In fact, it has been living amongst us for what has been an eternity. It was the undetected enemy, who sat waiting patiently within our conceit, knowing the exact moment to no longer be revelation deferred. It is such a formidable foe, as can only be so when your adversary has been nurtured by one’s own self. It is the proverbial enemy within. And it is, now, out in full force, while we long for the cloistered complacency of life as we knew it to be.
And perhaps if someone had paid attention to the Oracle in that long-ago millennium, we would not be as we are now: defeated Abassa sentinels, who are also dejected, desolate and deprived of the one thing that makes us whole: defending our homeland.
But still some of us are glad that it has taken so long for this time too to come. For how else, would we have seen the folly of what we now know as our old world, soon to become another stage in our past existence; one that we leave behind as we move into the unknown but not unfounded, the undesired but not undeserved, the undetermined but not unconfirmed, the unpredictable but still, not a fate worse than the kind of inner-death we have known so well.