June 8, 1974

“Robert” was a human name. Robert himself was not human.

He stood at the edge of the empty battlefield, staring with four eyes across the soft, white terrain. He leaned against one pale blue tree, claws sinking deeply into the plant’s soft, velvety flesh. Metallic brown blood oozed from a gash in his side, darkening his red robes. Robert paid the wound no mind – one more battle scar would only earn him that much more respect from his soldiers.

Robert watched Leir, his wife, walk across the empty field and stand in the morning sunlight. She knelt and dragged one slender, amber-colored claw across the white ground, drawing the shape of a little man on the planet’s surface. This morning, under Robert’s command, she had wiped out an entire contingent of enemy troops.

There were no bodies to lay out this morning, because the planet did not allow them to remain. All dead tissue was absorbed by the planet’s living surface. Leir had a signature comeback to this: she scratched the shapes of the fallen onto the ground, just so deep that it would take the living planet years to heal, so as long as they lay there, it would be remembered that this was the place where they had passed.

There were eight warriors etched into the ground by the time Leir had finished. It had been a good day.