A read-aloud of this story https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Never-Forget-esf849
Planet: Sectine II
Aliens: Uanyi are slim creatures with rubbery exoskeletons as well as internal bones and enormous eyes.
Setting: Riko’s home, late evening after a surprise attack by Uanyi Extremists.
Riko held his mother’s body in his arms, rocking silently as tears streamed down his face. Burning rocks flew to pieces, and raging flames cast his spartan living room into eerie, violent shadows.
With his legs tucked under him, he sobbed silently. He had scrambled across the room to her when the first blast broke the west wall sending shrapnel in all directions. A section of the window frame protruded from her side.
Bending close, he pressed his ear to her chest, but no sound, no movement other than his own rocking motion signaled life. “Aw, Ma!”
A Lunar Cycle Later
Riko stood next to a grave mound while his sister, Rhianna, hunched next to him. A tall stone with a picture of a falling star etched in the middle perched at the head of the mound. Riko bowed his head.
Rhianna placed her arm around his shoulders. “Ma would want us to move on. It was a mistake coming here. We thought we could keep the race wars from following us, but it was a dream. We’re not meant to live in Old-world Uanyi. To be honest, Old-world Uanyi wasn’t so so great, even back in its glory days.”
Riko lifted his head and stared at the two suns in the sky, one only a third of the size of the other. “Let’s go. We don’t want to be late for the transport.” He peered around. “Where’s Zero?”
The woman bellowed a trumpet-like call across the brown, moss-covered expanse.
A miniature Uanyi came trotting from around the side of an octagonal structure with dirt smeared across his white shirtfront, a tear in his brown leggings, and his bulbous, black, insect-like eyes wide and blinking.
The woman shook a slender finger at him. “Zero! You’ve been fighting again?”
Zero stared, his gaze as frozen as his little body.
Riko glanced at his sister. “You gotta train that kid. He’ll never survive on Newearth.”
The woman shrugged. “He’s survived so far. Better than some.” She stretched out her long, rubbery arm. “Come on, little one. You’ll have to carry things for me. You’ll do that won’t you?”
Riko watched his sister and nephew pad away to the round-shaped house with vivid colors painted on it in a pattern unique to their family line. He shook his head.
A larger, hulking Uanyi trotted forward, waving one hand. “Hey, Riko, glad I caught you before you left.” He stopped suddenly, peered sharply at the stone and the grave mound, bowed low, and then turned his attention to Riko, taking him by the arm. “Your ma left you something. I had to wrestle your mother’s brother for it, but I got it. Stupid fool thought that no one knew.” He struggled to get something out of a deep pocket. “Your ma was a better businesswoman than most gave her credit for. Pity. She should’ve lived to see us transform this place—”
Riko held up his hand. “She died trying to transform this place.” He heaved a sigh. “Never mind. What ya got?”
“Units. Over twenty thousand, and they’re in your name.” He lifted a data-chip into the air and handed it onto Riko’s open palm. “Look, I know it was terrible, what happened to your ma and all, but sporadic fighting isn’t the end of the world. Not this world anyway. Don’t give up on us. We’re trying to dig down to our roots, grow a new culture from the ancient soil of our—”
Riko stared at the chip in his palm and lifted his other hand to stall his friend. “Stop, Uncle Clem! Your brother is gone, and ma is dead. I’ve heard all the propaganda I ever want to. I’m done changing the world, saving our race, or whatever it is you think you’re doing. I’m heading to Newearth to find work and mind my own business.”
Clem glanced away. “And what about Rhianna? And Zero?”
“I’ll look after them. Best as I can. Rhianna’s like Ma—headstrong with good business sense. They’ll be fine.” He looked up and stared at the structure. “I think.” He shrugged and started toward the house. “Anyway, you can always check in on us. I’ll send my contact info as soon as I get to Newearth.” He shoved the chip deep into his own pocket. “I appreciate everything you’ve done—and this.” He tapped his pocket. “Few would’ve cared what happened to us—at least to me.”
Clem threw his arm around Riko and jiggled him, friendly-like. “You saved my life once, remember? I’ll never forget that.”
“Yeah, well, it was luck on both our parts. Sometimes you get lucky, you know.” He stopped and glanced back at the grave mound. “Sometimes—not so much.”
Clem shoved Riko forward. “Better hurry. I bet you’ll have zillions of units by the time I visit.” He chuckled. “You better.”
Riko sighed. “We’ll see.” He looked up at the suns. “God knows, it’ll take more than units to make Newearth feel like home. Never really had a home.”
Clem shrugged. “We’re all trying to find our place. Your Ma wanted you to set down roots. But never forget—” He wagged a finger in Riko’s face, “—you’re a Uanyi!”
Riko nodded and padded away, leaving his uncle and his mother’s silent grave behind.
A. K. Frailey, author of 13 books, teacher of 35 years, and homeschooling mother of 8—making the most of life’s journey.
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