@Hl_Blue, shared Green Nation I with us all last year, a government of plants, a story of feuds and a fierce will to surmount survival. A fierce will to be king of a world that we’re a part of but oblivious to.
Welcome to Green Nation II which is so much more!
Fear was not an emotion familiar to us. Our kindred community had survived the ravages of countless adversities to emerge as the fourth largest tribe in the Plant Kingdom. We could look back on our historical wars with green pride. But this… this was… different. Not the end of life, but the end of life as we knew it.
For three days the sun could not shine through. The column of invaders, who ironically derived their name from our family, continued to move slowly overhead, obliterating everything remotely edible in its path. In their millions they fell at intervals to devour, no, ravage and rape anything in the likeness of a plant. Stems, barks, and shallow roots disappeared in seconds. It was enough to sway the resolve of our figurehead ruler, the Bamboo. Yes, sway was the word, for we the Grass did not shake. Let Mother Nature howl and curse and rage. We would sway, bend, dance in the storm even, but we would never break, shake or be felled.
When the multi-mile horde was exhausted and sated, they decided to move on. They behaved like us because they fed on us. They had no ruler, but they advanced without breaking rank. When one decided it was time to move on, everyone decided at the same time. And after the action was taken, no one knew who had initiated it. No one would even care either way. This was no monarchy as with the Oaks or the four-footed simpletons who wandered by from time to time. Together we faced our issues, and together we had always overcome. Until now…
The landscape looked almost as deserted as the Sahara which lay just to the North. No, it was not the grasshopper horde that gave us major concern. It was the Sand to the north, the Sahara. Rumors of its approach had chilled the stems of even the most perennial among our tribe. Would we ever wake up from a catastrophe as huge as the barren Sand? The attempts we had made to bolster our defenses against the encroaching Sand had just suffered a most terrible setback – The grasshopper horde. Why we had neglected to focus on climate alteration efforts we had no idea. Wind control was not a fully developed weapon in our arsenal because we never imagined we would ever need to be so drastic as to sweep away a grasshopper horde with column dimensions in miles. The timing of their invasion, at the beginning of the Harmattan season, was as awful as it could get. The last tears of the preceding twin daughter of Climate, the Wet Season, had fallen just last week. We would not see Wet for the next eight full moons. Harmattan would be our Tyrannical Guide to sure extinction.
Perhaps the Grass actually needed a Benevolent Master. This abominable thought was silently whispered and even made possible just because of the humbling news of the utter devastation of our North American cousins, the LongStems of the Great Prairie. Their pride before such disgraceful disaster was a silent lesson to us that perhaps in the evolving world, we the Grass might be forced to adopt outlandish survival ideas. We would need to sway really low to conquer.
Behavior modification was our forte. We commanded the mobile neighbors to do our bidding in the annihilation of our pretender plant species. Plants would not easily yield to our forceful persuasions so we were left with the four-footed and six-legged creatures that came to derive sustenance from us. From the ants to the elephants, we ruled their minds and made them think they were in control whereas they were not. When our spores penetrated the heads of the ants, they would feel the sudden need for shade, hobbling over to the nearest leafy enemy to take shelter while our spores overloaded their miniscule imaginations with hallucinatory images of endless rivers of sugar and honey. They happily died with their mandibles securely fastened in a death grip on the undersides of the leaves of our competitors. Even the windstorm would not knock them off this vice-like hold. When our spores matured, the rich nutrients of the ant carcass would be ample food, until we could exert direct parasitic influence on those dregs of plant society known as the Leaf.
The boastful thoughts of our domination were necessary for our morale and the clear thinking needed to surmount our present challenge. So we continued to reminisce, turning our collective consciousness to the largest moving land animals – The Elephants. The introduction of a few tannins into their diet converted them to the most loyal of subjects. So gullible were these beasts! They immediately obeyed our instructions to push down the tall trees providing shade for our leafy pretenders to high plant society. The high dehydration rate resulting from exposure to the Sun meant only the true plants would survive, ensuring perpetuation of the Order of the Grass without competition from the Leaf. Did the elephants realize they could cool themselves under the shade of the very trees they pushed down? No! They believed what we told them and threw dust and clods of earth over their backs instead, helping propagate our spores while imagining they were cooling themselves. Yes, when the Grass fought, the elephants suffered.
But for the present trial we would need to hunt fairer game. The Buffalo came by in their search for food. Would they be able to serve a purpose superior to what we had commanded from others? One particular member of their species appeared restless and eager to be leader. His surefootedness did not subtract from our open disgust at his ignorant quest for competition. When would these walking creatures, one and all, realize that world domination would only be achieved by the species that most demonstrated its unity of mind and purpose sans competition?! Surefoot had engaged the head of his buffalo clan, Widowmaker, in a fight almost to the death over a fair cow-buffalo who showed no signs of caring about the outcome. The fight was brief. The Widowmaker retained his position as head of the flock, while banishment was decreed for Surefoot with no possibility of return or parole. Who made these barbaric rules?!
We watched the spectacle of the wandering young bull with interest, sensing that Mother Nature was about to slip us a message through this unfolding scene. Somehow we could not see Surefoot fitting into any of our plans as yet. But we noticed some new actors on our stage. We had not seen their kind before. They walked on two legs and made sounds like the clap of thunder, sounds at which birds took to flight and herds of buffalo and giraffes turned to flee. Even the elephants tacitly acknowledged their power. So these were the humans we had heard so many stories of, the very same humans whose cultivation and settlement activities had brought the LongStems of the Great American Prairie to naught. They appeared arrogant, irreverent, and aware of their surroundings. They walked as though they owned the whole world. We could not see any physical signs that these weak creatures were the perpetrators of all the heinous deeds that had been ascribed to them by the silent whispers and rumors borne by the wind to our collective ears. Apparently, they ruled the world by some superior intelligence and their flagrant disregard for nature.
The plot thickened. Surefoot was being challenged by the two-legged demon intruders. Thunder sounded in abnormally quick succession from these two humans as Surefoot charged madly at one of them unswervingly. The human was tossed sky-high on Surefoot’s horns and did not survive. His partner was forced to flee while Surefoot continued his mad flight of fear and survival far off into the distance.
The lesson was obvious. We had found the new mental slaves for catering to our needs in the new dispensation. Not the buffalo. Those dumb beasts knew nothing compared to the gods of thunder. The humans would do a good job. We would teach them what to do. They would study us. They would find out what we needed. They would reseed and replant us. They would churn the soil to soften it for our roots. Even hostile environments would be made hospitable. We would make them believe their future as a species, nay the whole planet as a whole, depended massively on our survival. And survive we would, as we had for countless millennia before now. After all, we remained the Grass of Green Nation.
Pretender – one who aspires to an office above his/her perceived status
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