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A    short    history    of    the    People

In the previous section, hyou will have learned how I came to write Song of the Forest. But the reader may wonder how Neandertals, who call themselves "Dauarga", meaning "the People", came to return to Earth.

This is how it happened.

The story starts some 800,00 years ago, when a group of humans settled in a place that we now call Atapuerca, Spain. These people had wandered out of Africa because the climate became increasingly arid, and little game was to be found. Being farther north, Atapuerca was less arid, and game was plentiful. For eons, they prospered. The People call these humans the Ancients; some of us have named them Homo antecessor.

But their peaceable existence was not to continue, for there were forces at work which conspired against them. This appeared in the shape of what we now know to be repeated glacial advances and retreats. The climates of many parts of the world became increasingly arid, as in Africa, or cold and dry, as in many parts of Eurasia. Some places were simply uninhabitable. Still, some of the Ancients followed game wherever they couild, and in time, their bodies adapted to the increasingly harsh climatic conditions. Sometimes the glacial periods became so intense the People tried to escape to warmer climates. Still, over time, many of them became short limbed, strong, with large muscles, prominent noses and browridges. These, the Dauarga, call the Ancestors. We know them as Neandertals. They spread widely, and could be found from what is now England to Usbekistan; from valleys in Germany to caves in Israel.

Although they were often cut off from the migrations of other Ancestors(that is other "archaic" humans, they still adapted and prospered. And sometimes they did come into contact with others. When they did, being clever and intelligent, they exchanged ideas. Sometimes such ideas bore fruit; at a place called Berekaht Ram, in the Golan Heights, someone carved a piece of oddly shaped volcanic rock into a figurine that resembles a woman.

Eventually, they came into contact with what the People later called Humans. These were ourselves --- Homo sapiens sapiens. At first, the contacts were friendly and peaceable, and each group leanred much of value from the other. Some even liked the contacts so much that they exchanged mates. This would prove important far in the future. Had such contact continued, both groups would have exchanged enough genes and ideas to create a truly remarkable species of human(and, to a certain limited extent, they did). For, from the ancients, who were the parents of both groups, Ancestors,or Neandertals and Humans had inherited great gifts.

Neither group was fully aware of the gifts they had; hence, their lifestyles were remarkably similar. They both used "Mousterian" tools, they both hunted game in small groups. However, from the Ancients, certain Humans had, through the perfectly natural processes of genetic drift and the "founder effect", had a high degree of inclination toward utilizing technology. The Ancestors, on the other hand, had inherited what later became known as Power. This is what we would call telepathy, but, like Humans, the Ancestors were not fully aware of their gifts. However, it is probable that, since the Ancestors were among the first people known to bury their dead, some of those who were high in Power were also highly honored. In some cases, the honors must have been spectacular. One of the Shanidar burials was of a crippled old man who couldn't see well and who had lost part of his arm. However, it may well be(Dauargan traditions aren't entirely clear about this), that Shanidar I knew exactly where the best hunting would be, and could direct the rest of the group toward game even if he himself couldn't hunt.

It should also be understood that the Ancestors could talk, and they communicated perfectly well with one another, because they had quite well-developed languages, just like Humans. Human gifts were also good, as Humans became increasingly adept at inventing things. However, in the process, they tended to become alienated from natural processes, and invention became an end in itself.

Had Humans and People followed their natural instincts, there might have been conflict between the two groups at times, but theire also would have been extensive contact. There would have been trade. And they would have exchanged mates. And, at the beginning of contact, allthese things happened. But it didn't continue indefinitely. The Wrongness intervened.

The    Wrongness

And what was the Wrongness?

The answer? It is an interstellar virus, sentient and oriented to collective action. It is best conceived of as being something like the Borg in various Star Trek series. By itself, the Wrongness can do very little. It doesn't kill anyone, nor does it make them sick, like, say flu, or HIV. In some important ways, however, its effects are far worse.

If it infects a brain, it simply directs the infected organism to carry out its wishes. And what the Wrongness wants is not necessarily good for the organism. Worse still, it not only can manipulate the behavior of organisms, it can manipulate whole ecosystems and everythign associated with them. And it hates anything which has even the slightest capacity for intelligent behavior.

The Wrongness infected many planets in our quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy. No sentient biengs who were affected seem to know its origins, although the Guardians(about whom, more later). It doesn't matter much, because it is sufficiently powerful and disruptive to render habitable planets uninhabitable. No one, no matter how highly-developed their civilization, knows how to stop it.

It invaded Earth about 200 milllion years ago, when a great supernova exploded in a nearby sector of the galaxy. It is thought that the Wrongess was contained in this sector until the supernova exploded, but no one knows how a star's muclear energy could contain a virus. In any case, the Wrongness drifted through space, infecting a number of planets. It made them uninhabitable and their various life-forms scattered. Evemntually, it drifted to Earth.

For a time, the Wrongness did little. The life forms which were evolving seemed unworthy of its notice. In time, however, things changed. Organisms evolved toward intelligence. And then came the dinosaurs.

As the dinosaurs evolved, the Wrongness became more alert, watching as they grew in size and complexity: gibantic apatosauruses and brachosaurs, swift velosciraptors, fierce Utahraptors and tyrranosaurs. Dinosaurs began to evolve brains.

The Wrongness lay quiet, observing dinosaurian evolution, waiting for an opportunity. For, by itself, it could not destroy the dinosaurs. The opportunity came in the sape of an asteroid which crashed with terrible force into the sea of the Yucatan Peninsula. This caused so much disruption that modern scientist think dinosaurs couldn not long have survived it, but this is not strictly true. for although many dinosaurs doed. there were some that could have survived. Those who did survive were already evolving intelligence. Not much; the most "intelligent" dinosaur had about the same brain capacity as that of an ostrich. But for the dinsaurs with ostrich-sized brains, that would have been enough, eventually, to have evolved into something more intelligent. This was too much for the Wrongness.

Almost as soon as the asteroid had done its work, the Wrongness followed, causing even further disruption, manipulating dinosaur diseases and making them worse, manipulating the climate to dinosaur disadvangate whenever possible. It cause normally unaggressive dinosaurs to turn on each other, and agressive ones like the tyrannosaurs to eat, and scaveng, things they normally wouldn't have eaten. Evnetually, the Wrongness poisoned and sickened them all, until evey last dinosaur was gone. The Wrongness had succeeded very well. But they hadn't noticed the mammals.

Once the dinosaurs had disappeared, mammals evolved quite rapidly. As with the dinosaurs, they were neither very interesting nor very intelligent. At best, they resmbled modern rats. Since the Wrongness considered these early mammals beneath their notice, the mammals evolved into all kinds of fomrs, including the "primitive" primates, which would eventually lead to humans.

For a long while, the Wrongness paid no attention. Even these "primitive" primates were beneath their collective conscious notice. But in time, things changed.

About 6 million years ago or less, a primate evolved which began to show signs of intelligence. It began to walk upright. This was the common ancestor of apes and australopithecines. Once australopithecines began to move onto the African savanna, the Wrongess started to take notice. It was alarmed, for australopithecines were different. They began to fomr social groups, hunt and raise their young cooperatively. The Wrongness took action. It repsonded by maipulating a global climate that got drier in Africa and colder in places farther north.

By itself, the Wrongness couldn't change the climate. So, by itself, it could not "cause" the glacial episodes which have characterized Earth's climate for the past two million years. But it could make conditions much worse than they would have been otherwise, and that is what it did. At first, the manipulations seemed to have the desired result: various species of australopithecines, relatively unadapted, died out. Then something happened.

About two million years ago, the Wrongness manipulated the deteriorating climate even more. This set off the Pleistocene era. They did this in an effort to wipe out the emerging genus Homo. However, instead of wiping out hominids, the result was that the genus Homo evolved more rapidly --- into Homo erectus. H.erectus had a larger brain than the australopithecines. More important, some of them moved out of a rapidly cooling and drying Africa, into Eurasia. And those who stayed in Africa started to make more sophisticated tools and use fire, as did those who moved out of Africa. Language became more elaborate, although communication was quite rudimentary at first. And although the Wrongness tried to do everything possible to wipe out those who statyed in Africa and those who had migrated, both groups continued to evolve.

Eventually, through the perfectly natural process of genetic drift and the founder effect, various closely related, but somewhat isolagted human groups came into existence. From time to time, they would wander into each other's terriories, fight,trade,or sometimes even mate and exchange genes. This happened despite the Wrongness's attempts to throw up barriers between the groups. There were, however, two groups too far apart geographically to "mix" most of the time, although they sometimes came into contact in the Middle East, and later, in Eastern Europe. It was in these groups that two genetic extremes came into being. However, neither group was well enough developed culturally to understand what was happening at the time. One group evolved in Southern Africa. They eventually became known as Anatomically Modern Humans(AMH). Through isolation and genetic drift, the group evolved a tendency toward invention and technology. I should add that this ability was present in all human groups, but was more highly "concentrated" in the Southern African branch.

The other group lived mostly in northwestern Eurasia. By the same processes of genetic drift and the founder effect, they evolved somewhat differently. This group eventually became famous or infamous as the Neandertals. Because of their relative, but not complete isolation, they evolved telepathy, which they would later call Power. Like the Humans(H.s.sapiens), they were unaware of their abilities. But some of their number may have used this Power in some crude way, for, as the Shanidar burials indicate, there were some individuals who were lovingly cared for and then equally lovingly buried, even though they could not contribute to the group's needs by hunting or gathering, due to injury or disease.

The archaeological record indicates that the two groups came into contact with one another in Israel. However, the traditions of the Dauarga are rather vague about this, and many Humans deny this outright. Assuming the archaeological record is correct, it is quite likely that there were gene exchanges between the two groups. At first, this escaped the notice of the Wrongness, because the Wrongness has an extremely narrow range of focus. Eventually, though, enough "intergrades" were produced, who had varying amounts of the heritages of both groups. And then the Wrongness noticed. So they tried once more to eliminate everyone.

While the Ancestors did not "know" of the Wrongness, it is probable that they sensed it in some way. Perhaps this is why they kept moving --- in some cases, as far as Teshik Tash, in Uzbekistan. In any case, they managed to escape the Wrongness for a while.

Humans didn't escape, for they didn't even know of its existence, nor were they even capable of sensing its presence. But the Wrongness found a place for itself in all too many Human brains. What happened next was disastrous fro Humans, but it was catastrophic for the Ancestors.

When before, there had been relative harmony and mutual respect, learning, even mate exchange sometimes, there was no only rage, anger, and the urge to exterminate all Dauarga. Humans themselves did not understand why this should be so, only that they could only see the Ancestors as fundamentally different from themselves. For the Wrongness had persuaded them that being different was bad. So, many Humans did their best to try to drive the Ancestors away. And since the Ancestors were not quite as proficient with tools and weapons as Humans, they could not compete very well, since they had not fully realized their telepathic Power.

And the process of getting rid of the Dauarga took some time, since even then there were Humans and Ancestors who lived together peaeably. But the last known group of Ancestors was to be found at a place called Zafarraya, in what is now Spain. These Ancestors were rescued by the Guardians, and were taken to the Refuge, an Earthlike planet in a nearby sector of the galaxy. While on the planet, the Ancestors learned how to use their Power. They did this with the help of the Guardians, who were the most telepathic race in the galaxy. Over 30,000 years, they also learned the arts of civilization and space travel. They were well regarded by any number of intelligent extraterrestrial races.

But the Dauarga, as they came to call themselves, never forgot their Earthly home.

The    Return

Althought the Dauarga trvelled through many star systems, and came into contact with beings so exotic it would be difficult to describe them, they never forgot their roots.

They longed to return to Earth and take their place beside their Human neighbors.

In time, the Guardians, who were very wise, agreed that the Dauarga could visit Earth from time to time. By now, the Dauarga had learned to recognize the Wrongness and even help to rid some planetary systems of it. The Guardians thought the Dauarga might be able to do the same for Humans, for Earth was badly infected.

So the Guardians reluctantly at first, but more and more frequently, allowed the Dauarga to visit Earth from time to time. The purpose was to accustom themselves to Humans and their societies, and at the same time to strengthen whatever resistance they had to the Wrongness. This often proved difficult to do, for Humans could be very stubborn about changing behaviors which made it easy for the Wrongness to infect them. However, over time, the Dauarga began to see signs of hope, for some Humans were willing to listen to them and learn. There were also the Conduits, those Humans the Dauarga knew had some Ancestral DNA. These Humans were often more sensitive to outside influences, or very artistic, or more altruistic than most other Humans. Many of these Humans became famous artists, religious teachers and prophets, musicians, writers, and philosophers. Some of the earliest results of the efforts some Conduits made to express themselves can be seen in prehistoric cave paintings in France and Spain.

Almost from the beginning, the Dauarga simply "hid in plain sight". Since they didn't look all that "different", this was often easy to do much of the time, at least in Europe and the Middle East. Their Power was harder to hide, for although Humans were good at technology, they didn't develop it fully until quite late. This sometimes had unfortunate and dangerous consequences that the Wrongness could, and did exploit. And even in the absence of thechnology, Humans didn't understand Power. If they didn't have a highly developed technology, they tended to be superstitious. Consequently, when Humans encountered Dauarga, and Dauarga used their Power, they were often regarded as gods, fairies, elves, dwarves, etc. Later, they were thought to be witches, wizards, or servants of the Devil. Either way, their travels among Humans, at least those of European descent contributed to the genesis of Greek and Scandinavian mythology. They also contributed to some medieval tales which actually had a basis in fact. And the Dauarga did their best to influence those they encountered for the good. Humans who were lucky enough to encounter them often prospered.

As time went on, the Wrongness tried harder and harder to rid the world of Humanity and any other beings which might develop intelligence. The Guardians began sending Dauarga to Earth more and more frequently in order to combat the Wrongness.

One manifestation of the Wrongness came in the shape of at least three plague pandemics. The best known of these was, of course, the so-called "Black Death", which first appeared in Europe in 1348. The Wrongness simply manipulated the increased presence of rats infested with Yersinia pestis in an attempt to wipe out Humanity. In some places, it was almost successful. In Florence, for example, about 75% of the population died of plague. Those Dauarga recorded in their Histories as being present in such places knew what was happening. They themselves had encountered a very similar, Wrongness-inspired pandemic on one of the other planets with which they had come into contact. They eradicated the pandemic and the Wrongness from the planet. Unfortunately, they carried it back to the Refuge and many Dauarga died. Those who survived had type B blood, and, as a result, three-quarters of the Dauarga have type B blood. They are also virtually immune to plague. If not immune, they become, at best, mildly ill.

Another manifestation of the Wrongness was the so-called "witch craze of the 15th-17th centuries. Before the "witch craze burned itself out, millions of people, often older women living alone and sometimes skilled in healing arts, were killed. By this time, the Dauarga who returned to Earth realized they had to be very cautious about letting Humans know who or what they were. For it was during this time that the Wrongness realized what the Dauarga were doing and did everything it could to destroy them too. It did this by encouraging Humans to view Dauarga as witches and wizards. Several Dauarga actually were rounded up and burned at the stake because of this. Subsequently, the Dauarga responded by "hiding in plain sight". They became extremely carevul about when and where they displayed their telepathic Power. And they did everything possible not to draw attention to themselves. This was how they survived on Earth.

As time went on, the Wrongness became bolder and bolder. By the early 20th century, it thought it had a perfect means of destroying Humanity. It first tried World War I. This didn't do the job, but subsequently it found Conduits whom they tried to manipulate into doing the job for them. Conduits are those who carry some of the DNA of the Ancestors. They are often very charismatic or forceful. In this instance, the Wrongness latched on to Hitler and Stalin. Hitler's "charisma" is a particularly well-known example. And both men were perfect targets for the Wrongness and its manipulations.

At the same time, the Wrongness had at last discovered the Refuge. It proceeded to massively infect this once-pristine planet. The Wrongness managed to make vast stretches of the Refuge uninhabitable. This was due to the fact that the Dauarga did not use what Humans called "technology". Instead, they preferred to use their Power to restore things. This worked well when the Wrongness was isolated in little patches; when there were large stretches of uninhabitable planet, this was impossible. It was time now to Return to their Earthly home, as they had long wished to do.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, a quiet, intergalactic mass migration of an ancient people was well under way.