After humans fled from Earth, many were left behind. Fear, panic, and desperation swept across the planet as Earth’s fate was no secret. Some cities attempted to persevere in peace, while others fell to chaos and violence. It did not matter for long, as the radiation caused by the Priming increased and swept across the planet. The eldest fell first, but even the healthiest could not fight the radiation forever. As cities and their great infrastructures collapsed from the weight of this mass mortality event, few began to emerge, unaffected. Individuals with a unique skin condition, a genetic trait in less than one percent of the population, were immune to the radiation. The patches of varied pigmentation on their skin, which had sometimes been perceived as imperfections, were now their saving grace as it allowed them to absorb the radiation and metabolize it with no ill effect.
Their emergence as the immune brought out the worst of humanity. Some responded with jealousy and anger as they feared their own impending doom. They carried out atrocious hate crimes targeting the healthy. Driven by their envy, the most sinister amongst them would even hunt the immune, referring to them as unnatural and undeserving. The immune dodged one threat, only to be met by another. They were terrified. They would stay in hiding as long as they could, and ensured to cover themselves when they needed to scavenge for supplies. Some even tried to fight back, but their numbers were too few. Then, as their persecution became too widespread to ignore any longer, many of the dying realized the immune were humanity’s only hope for a future on Earth. They used what communication tools and resources they had left to bring the immune together and protect them, with their own lives if necessary. A final act of purpose before they perished forever.
They moved in secrecy and used code to communicate with other surviving groups of immune and their protectors. The world was collapsing around them, and they were in a constant struggle to find and relocate survivors while gathering supplies they needed to live. Conflict was avoided whenever possible to prevent casualties. Tensions were always high, making it nearly impossible to rest. Those that hunted them had begun to understand what was happening. If they could not find them, then they would not allow them to leave. Desperation had twisted their minds. They created barricades at city limits, for they believed that if they were not able to survive, then nobody should.
The survivor’s options were to either charge ahead into open conflict, losing countless lives, or to stay in hiding and wait for the radiation to run its course. The latter was quickly becoming impossible as resources were dwindling in urban areas. They needed to get to the wilderness to forage and hunt for food. They were trapped. Until one day aid came from outside their borders. The few cities and nations that were able to keep their populations and violence under control had also been working to gather the immune. At first, they closed their borders to the outside world and were only concerned with themselves. Now, in their final moments, they realized it was their obligation to help. They turned their eyes to the areas of the world that fell into anarchy. Droves of military units and transport carriers dispatched across the planet to liberate the immune and gather them into areas of Earth’s wilderness that were best suited for habitation. The best of humanity prevailed.
Thus, the immune left the cities, filled with ruin and death, and formed communities in the wilderness of Earth. Traumatized by the horrors they survived; they vowed to never again allow anyone to abuse their host planet to the point of collapse. Any surviving protectors stayed with them, and did what they could to ensure their survival. Eventually, they too would succumb to the radiation, but were able to rest in peace knowing they fought honorably to save humanity. All that was left, were the immune. From then on, every year in the Spring, they celebrate the emergence of new life, but also pay respect to life that has perished to make new growth possible. This is their way of remembering the kind empathetic souls that fought and died to make their lives possible.
As years passed, and their communities grew, the radiation from Earth became even stronger, changing the world’s flora and fauna. The immune, now living free of the hormone infused foods of their ancestors, became smaller in stature through passing generations. Nonetheless, living in the wild and off the land made them hearty and robust. What they did not realize, is that the radiation being absorbed by the patterns on their skin was slowly strengthening their bond with Earth. This proved rather serendipitous given their way of life. They discovered they could focus the absorbed energy to gently influence the lands, plant life, flow of water, and other forces of nature. To them, a sign that their chosen path is true.
After millenia, Earth completed its Priming. A spectacular moment that every person on Earth felt coursing through their entire body. From that moment, what they were merely able to influence before, they could now control at will. They could manipulate nature as easily as they could their own limbs. What was once considered a genetic disorder, passed on for thousands of years, became their salvation, and is now their strength. They are the Earthen.
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