††††††††††† 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 easily.† They were 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 Earthís 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 probably what happened to them, not that we ever looked back long enough to truly know what became of them.† In all likelihood the Earth is now a ghost planet orbited by the remains of a broken moon.†
††††††††††† Life, however, pressed on.† The children that the Earth had painfully given birth to moved to a new home.† It was a long journey and even with all of manís 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 eighth 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 heíd 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 Earthlingís doors demanding rent.† No, they were of a different breed.†
††††††††††† The aliens (or should I say Ďnativesí?) had not been evolving as long as we had.† They were still microscopic: bacteria, plankton, 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 became infected and we started to change.†
††††††††††† The diseases only appeared in the children of the infected.† Since humans now have a life span that can reach three hundred years (yes, there was a time when we only live 70 maybe 80) it took a while before we even noticed these changes.† The infected children passed their new defective DNA on to their children, and to their children, and the next...† So on and so forth for thousands of years.†
††††††††††† In the beginning we saw these people as simply 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.† Of course there were also those left unaffected.† Their descendants are now known simply as Human.† A divided race that considers itself more pure than any of the others without even knowing why.
††††††††††† The ones 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 sound, therefore developing superior sense.† This virus attacked more people than any other.† This lead to the social crux of the Elves and Humans being in constant combat for the title of Master Race, while the rest of us just try to scratch a living out of this new soil.
††††††††††† As you know there is practically a countless number of races and sub-races and these races wage war against one another constantly.† Not that this is much different from life on Earth.† Even as one species we fought bitterly.† Back then we only had things like skin colour and religion to fight and degrade one another over.†
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† And so it has been, generation after generation.† Earth and its 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.†† Technology still exists, but only an elite few understand it and more and more people fear it.† Most of what science had discovered is now lost again.† We have traded in our nuclear bombs for swords and arrows once more and sometimes I think that it may have been more of a step forward than back.
††††††††††† 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!