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Chapter 04 – Family
After the experience of overexerting myself, I set about the idea of opposable thumbs in a different manner. I looked around for the lizards whose thumbs were a bit abnormal to start. I kept watching them, waiting for them to breed. When they did, I performed tiny little adjustments to their offspring, very small. It would be many generations before my design came to fruition, but doing such small touches over a long period of time was easier to handle.
The development was slow, but certainly faster than it would have been, left to its own devices. It could even be that without my coaxing, it never would have happened to begin with. There was excitement in the waiting. Some generations continued to develop without direct influence, likely since I was urging them in that direction. I also urged the lightly-thumbed ones to breed outside their normal groups, so that more offspring could help develop the strain.
Even before the thumb was fully completed to my ideals, the lizards started making use of their changing hands. Their manual dexterity increased significantly, and gripping stones was much easier. Food was more abundant, since more could be cracked open with less time. They also started using the rocks on rotting wood to expose more delicious bugs.
Those by the shore began diving into the shallow water during low tide, eager to catch the little shrimps and shelled creatures that drifted close to shore. Those in the forest used their more powerful hands to grip the bark and scuttle up the trunks of trees to get at prey hiding out of reach of the land predators. They were all so very smart, I was incredibly proud of their advancement.
With more abundant food came larger populations. The territories expanded yet again. I could see just a little farther along the shore, a little further into the trees. As their world expanded, so did mine.
And once again they surprised me. The separate colonies, of which there were eight now, stopped mingling between other colonies. They began to protect their territory from other colonies that might seek to take their food sources.
I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. One part of me felt it was natural, and just the way of the world. It made sense, if another colony started in on someone else’s food source, their food would be depleted. Another part of me weeped that they could not all get along. I wanted the camaraderie to exist between all the lizards, not just between those of the same colony.
They did not have the intelligence for trade and rules, it was still all very basic. I did not know how to get them to understand that those of the same species were not enemies. I could only watch as they closed themselves off from each other.
Would it really be better this way? Was this the direction they should take? If they had all gotten along, and learned to help their kin, would my people have fared better?
There it was again. A mere wisp of a memory. My people. The memory wasn’t a vision, it was a feeling. A feeling of a bleeding heart, that strife between brothers and sisters had ruined everything I held precious.
The Defenders knew the meaning of banding together to overcome larger enemies, but without those larger enemies, they turned on themselves. Out of greed or gluttony. Out of wanting to provide for their families at the cost of others.
I didn’t want that, not for them. It may be the way of the world, but I didn’t want their world to be about warring against each other, stealing and defending what they thought to be theirs. Let them feel that way about the other species, but not each other.
The thumbs I’d worked so hard on were so close to fruition. I had already seen the positive results of their development. But they would have to wait. I brought together every part of my essence that I could muster. I pulled back every piece of me that reached out to them, watched them, and heard them.
And then I exploded. I washed over them, every single one of them in all eight colonies. All of my being was devoted to a single thought.
Family. You are all family, every single one of you. Your family extends beyond your family groups. Everyone is a brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter. You are all more than a single piece, together you are whole. You are family.
And then everything vanished.