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12

At first, we thought it was a missile.

We were in hai’la after all, at the time of your coming, and in this state we do not wage war. So, from the beginning, it was obvious it must have come from you. The fact that it was not a missile does not really matter now. It was still a weapon of some sort, wouldn’t you say? But in hai’la we do not wage war and so we had no way to defend ourselves. We could only wait.

This is not maat, this is not how things ought to be! You came to us, after all, the first emissary of a foreign world! This should have been a day of joy! All that we could have learnt from you, our first visitor from another planet!

We were not naive, you know? We knew your appearance would change things profoundly. That you would seem strange to us, alien, possibly repulsive. We were prepared. Both our story-tellers and our scientists had seen to that, from back when we received your first transmissions. Even so, your eventual arrival was still a shock: such an unseemly, unstable creature you are, forever tottering on your two legs, looking heavy and fragile at the same time, and so soft! As a race, we worship beauty above all else and we couldn’t help but wonder: how could such ungainliness have mastered the stars?

But we are also a practical, logical people: you were here, and that fact alone was sufficient proof that you were far superior to us. We didn’t think for a moment that you could have cheated!

Maybe we were naive, after all.

Still, at the time we thought ourselves prepared, and well prepared, for your coming. From all over the planet, our best minds had come together to salute you, to understand you, to see to your needs. Your pitiful, monstrous appearance was a shock, yes, but all in all we were ready.

But what was that damn thing?

Nowadays, of course, we know perfectly well. We learnt the hard way. The Dog, the accursed Dog.

Later, when it became obvious that you did not come here to share and exchange your knowledge and your technology, but on the contrary to make slaves of us all, we thought for a while that this was what the Dogs were. Slaves, living weapons that you had at some point subjugated. How wrong we were! We had not yet probed the depth of your deviousness. People without maat, we didn’t know how well you could cheat!

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