Floral Study

They came in metal birds, descending down upon the land as if riding on miniature suns. Through the thick, green fog, the Strangers appeared with the thud of footfalls. The Lookout first spotted them, its scents bursting with fear and alarm. An Elder counseled calm. We had seen bipeds before and little had happened besides a few lost limbs and seeds. But, this time, I was not so sure. These ones were different.

Five walked among the Grove, touching, pulling, and prodding my neighbors. Unlike the previous visitors, their unmoving charcoal faces made no movements. They were as stones lying in the river. Their thick, bulbous eyes and cylindrical mouths regarded us with no expression. Around their bodies, they wore black cloaks that looked as thick as any bark. Their stiff arms held long rods that occasionally gave off light. A neighbor had a flower probed by the rod. The stranger withdrew the rod after it became covered in pollen. My neighbor seemed amused by the experience.

One of the Strangers came up to me with an arm outstretched. It touched an outer branch, removing a few of the leaves. I secreted defensive poisons and gases, but the creature appeared undeterred. I watched it rub its hand along my trunk, wondering why these creatures were here and what they were trying to do. A sudden jolt came to me as the creature brought a rod to one of my flowers. I became filled with an intoxicating bliss, similar to the feeling of being in full bloom. And then, it talked to me.

Or rather, it talked by making me see. When the rod touched, I no longer saw the green fog of home, but a clear blue sky. All around me were those like me. But they were not like me. Their flowers and roots and leaves displayed shapes and impressions far different than the ones in the Grove. They were alien. To my surprise, I heard their scented voices.

We are Earthoak, Earthpine, Earthevergreen, and Earthwillow. There were many of us once, but now we are few. We seek a new home, for the old one is gone. Will you allow us to take root?

The question repeated itself all over the Grove. Some of us said no, but most were curious about these newcomers. How different were they? How would they change the Grove? Scents wafted back and forth in fierce debates. Eventually, the Elders proposed leaving a section of the Grove empty for the newcomers. All agreed that they could come then.

We left messages of welcome on the Strangers’ rods. The bipeds bowed and went back to their metal birds. As the machines flew into the air, chambers on their undersides opened and thousands of seeds rained down on the grove. We gently guided them towards their new home. The newcomers took root, their scents brimming with joy. We celebrated by spreading our pollen over them.

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