Us Or Them

From the Story Arc: One of Two

Previous Story in the Arc: Hold The Line by Belladonna Aura (Wednesday, July 25, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Nuts! by Belladonna Aura (Wednesday, August 01, 2007)

(posted Thursday, July 26, 2007)

Warning: Spoiler alert. If you do not want spoilers for the Rikti arcs, do not read this post.

The wave was over. The next had not begun.

Bella stood before the group of physicians in the conference room in KR. Not a lot of them, only a handful of specialists, but the others were monitoring. All over the hospital. All over the city.

"Vanguard asked me to brief you on the Rikti..."

She interrupted the groans.

"Listen to me," she barked. "These are not the Rikti you are used to. These are not, no matter what you have been told all this time, 99% human. Not where it counts. Not in the brain. We have more in common with sharks than we have with these things." She grimaced. "In the first War, we called them the Bugs. That's not that far from the truth."

She laid it out for them, quickly putting up the slides Vanguard had given her "There are two places in the human brain that allow for socialization, the ability to have empathy, to recognize that 'other' is like 'self.' Here in the cerebral cortex, and here in the amygdala. These are brain-scan pics of active, alive brains. This is human, obviously. This is one of the Lost--as you can see, the areas are still there, but repressed: this is accomplished by chemical, hormonal, and psionic manipulation, the last by the Lost Prelates. This is a converted Lost, to Rikit, the kind you are used to. Now those areas are atrophying, but they are still there. This is a homeworld Rikti."

The slide elicited a gasp from the audience. "As you can see, those areas simply do not exist. They literally have been bred out of the homeworld Rikti. There is nothing there to reach, because there is nothing there. They do not, they cannot, recognize that we are...any more important than roaches to be eradicated. Those areas have been replaced by hypertrophy in this area--" she pointed "--which Vanguard believes represents their telepathic link. They do not need to have empathy, because to them, every homeworld Rikti is self. And everything that does not have that psychic link is vermin."

"You mean they're---Borg?" someone in the back hazarded.

She shrugged. "That's as good an analogy as any. And they are like the fictional Borg in that nothing will stop them. Nothing. They will keep coming at us until at some point their leaders--whose brains we have not been able to scan--decide to pull back. The important thing for you is this: you all must understand that there is nothing there for you to reach. You might just as well be trying to reason with a colony of fire ants. If in some remote circumstance, you manage to get one of these Bugs in here, notify Vanguard immediately, or put them down yourself. You will be in deadly danger, and the Zig can't hold them." She looked at them bleakly. "I know this seems like a contradiction of your Hypocratic Oath...but please remember, the Oath begins, 'First, do no harm.' By letting them live...you could kill every patient in here. You will have to choose. Because it really is them, or us."