††††††††††† It happened, it happened so long ago that even I am hard pressed to remember.† The world was dying, Earth had finally given all she had to offer.† What was left was a raped and barren rock.† The seas, once thought to have an endless bounty, lay barren and red with pollution.† The beast that roamed the land and flew the skies were nothing more than coded DNA files locked away in a government bunker.†
††††††††††† All that was left of the glory of Earth was a burning shell and a huddling mass of humanity.†
††††††††††† But mankind was not going to give up that easily.† Man was not going to quietly depart like the dinosaurs had done so many millions of years before.† They had a plan.† The Earth could not be rescued, it was much too far gone.† However, scientists had discovered a new world, a world circling a star much like our own.† A world that would support us, as Earth had, for millions of years to come.†
††††††††††† And so we left the only Home we had ever know.† Humanity was to be loaded onto what became called the Ark II.† Not all of us, of course.† At that time the Earth's buckling crust was infected with nearly 24 billion people.† The ship that had taken lifetimes to construct could only give safe passage to 800 million.† Those who were chosen to be save came from the strongest, bravest, smartest, and yes -the richest.
††††††††††† The rest?† They were callously left on a doomed world to perish.† Which is exactly what happened to the rest of humanity.† The Earth is now a ghost planet orbited by the remains of a broken moon.†
††††††††††† Life, however, pressed on.† The children the Earth had painfully given birth to moved to their new home.† It was a long journey and even with all of man's technology it still took ten years to reach our destination.† Not all of us survived, but those who did lived to see a new dawn of Man and a new Golden Age.† That is how we came to be living on the eight planet that circles what was once known as Alpha Centari, and is now known simply as the Sun.†
††††††††††† Man settled on this new world and began to create the life he'd once known.† DNA builders were used to recode and recreate the wildlife, beasts of burden, and plants, that had once populated the Earth.† The seas of Nuearth were stocked, the lands filled, and the skies felt the beating of avian wings.† Life was returning to the way it had been hundreds upon thousands of years ago when man lived in relative harmony with nature.
††††††††††† However there was a surprise waiting for the people of Earth.† It had never occurred to anyone that something might already live on this new world.† The aliens did not come and pound on the Earthling's doors demanding rent.† No, they were of a different breed.†
††††††††††† The aliens had not been evolving as long as we had.† They were still microscopic, bacteria, amoebas, and most importantly -viruses.† It was the viruses that were to be the undoing of mankind.† They were the ones that divided us into the races that we now know.† One by one, little by little we all became infected and we all changed.†
††††††††††† In most cases the diseases only appeared in the children.† Since humans now have a life span that can reach three hundred years (yes, there was a time when we only live 70 to 80) it took a while before we even noticed these changes.† The infected children passed it on to their children, and to their children, and the next...† So on and so forth for thousands of years.† At one time we saw ourselves as corrupted humans, now each of these diseases has spawned a new race.† Races that are proud, races that have history.† So much so that they have all forgotten their origins, or have chosen to deny them.
††††††††††† Some of us had amazing resistance to the genetic changes that took place once infected and only changed slightly.† Others became unrecognizable as having human ancestors at all.† The rarest of all however where those left unaffected.† Their descendants are the only true humans left in the Universe and their numbers are dwindling.†
††††††††††† The race that now call themselves the Elves were inflicted by a virus that did little to them physically, but made great changes to them mentally.† The virus attacked their central nervous system, making them light of foot and excellent marksmen.† They also became somewhat sensitive to light and therefore developed superior vision.
††††††††††† The Dwarves came from a strain that affected the physical before it attacked the mental.† The children of those infected had stunted growth, but enhanced muscular systems.† They of course became strong, proud warriors.† Generation upon generation still show the traits forced upon them by the alien viruses that infected their unsuspecting parents.
††††††††††† The virus that infected the were-people is a strange one.† Even when modern science was still trying to figure out what was happening to our children they could never fully explain the poor souls afflicted by this.† The virus seems to invade their bodies in tidal waves.† At times their DNA is so close to human that they are identical.† At others the virus swims in their system, changing the delicate helix as it goes.† This throws the victim into powerful and painful changes until what remains is practically animal.† Then the virus lies dormant once again reverting the victim back to human.
††††††††††† As you know there are many other variations.† The humans have split and now rage war against one another constantly.† Not that this is much different from life on Earth.† Even as one species we fought bitterly.† If you are wondering why all of us havenít simply been infected by all the different viruses by now and mutated into mixture, the answer lies in the viruses themselves.† It would seem that once the virus infects it protects its own from other viruses.† So now the free viruses no longer exist.† They only live in the DNA of the descendants of their victims.† Or at least thatís my theory, Iíve had a long time to think about it.
††††††††††† The humans were not the only to be infected.† The animals fell to the viruses as well, and it changed them just as quickly.† Other animals have simply evolved over the eons to adapt to their new surroundings.† The results, however, are still the same.† Things that used to only be fairy tale now roam the country side in great number.
††††††††††† And so it has been, generation after generation.† Earth and itís ways have long since been forgotten.† The old Gods have been replaced by new Gods, who are just as deaf to the cries of their disciples.†† The technology still exists, but only an elite few understand it.† All in all life goes on.
††††††††††† I can tell you this in confidence, even though I see that you scoff.† I can tell you this, because I was there.† There was another virus, a very rare yet extremely potent virus.† It attacked me so violently that a fever still burns in the back of my mind.† It has twisted and tortured my body and it has given me a life so long that I wonder sometimes if it shall ever end.† It has turned me into a creature of legend, a creature of myth.† My children now rule the skies of their territories.† However I, and I alone, am the soul survivor of Earth.† I am the oldest creature in the Universe.
††††††††††† I am the oldest Dragon!