Chapter 03 – The Role of an Overseer
It worked out much as I had hoped. The younger brother of Strong Light shared her same hard scales, and a fraction of her aggressiveness and adventurousness.
I felt tired, much like I needed to sleep, but there was one more thing I felt I needed to do. After he was grown, and his scales fully hardened, I reached out to him. I inspired him to be a Defender, much as I had the Little Leader to lead.
I could feel myself slipping away. I had done too much, overexerted myself trying to get the mother and father to copulate on numerous occasions.
My consciousness faded, and the swirl of lights and dissonance of sounds returned. Though it would seem chaotic, it was strangely calming. It was like I was connected to everything and nothing all at once. My thoughts calmed and lessened, and I let myself be taken away.
I rested in that state for some time before I ‘awoke’. My vision began focusing as the rest of me slowly came back to my previous state of awareness.
I was surprised by what I saw. Nearly a quarter of the lizards had those hardened scales of the Defender and Strong Light, and they were slightly larger than the rest. They had also expanded, and branched out into a few smaller groups, some heading into the forest, others farther down the shore.
There was also something else different about them. In each of the communities, the lizards grouped together in family units of two to five lizards. One was always a slightly larger Defender type, and there was at least one male and female per group. Some groups were split evenly between male and female, others more skewed. Although I didn’t have a face, I could feel my essence smile. My lizards now not only had a sense of community, but also a concept of family. When the breeding season came, most stayed to their own family units to breed, and when the young were born, all members of the family unit helped raise the young, even after their scales had hardened.
I felt like a proud parent. The influence from the Defenders has greatly reshaped their society. I also felt a mild pang of regret as I had been unable to watch them get to this point.
Amidst the family groups there were other groups without a Defender. They seemed to be stragglers banded together, often young ones that had recently grown out of their family unit. Just like the family groups, they assisted one another, and when a young bachelor or bachelorette Defender came of age, some would break off to form a family group with them.
The Defender had a very important place in the lizard society. They offered protection to their family, and the family provided for them. Seeing them form such close bonds with one another warmed my heart.
The family units usually stayed to themselves, but when larger predators threatened the colony, the Defenders would all band together to chase them off, protecting the community as a whole. That camaraderie was what I had hoped for. It was probably just as well that Strong Light had passed without a legacy; her kin would have been too aggressive to serve the needed function of a protector.
As time passed, not much changed within the societies. They branched out just a little farther into the forest and along the shore, but had reached a point of stagnation. Could it be that without my influence, the lizards couldn’t adapt further? It was more likely that I just sped it along, but the thought stayed with me.
By now, little lizards were practically born knowing the rock smashing technique, and it worked well on shelled sea urchin-like creatures for the shore groups. That technique hadn’t been influenced by me, the Little Leader had thought it up on his own. I merely gave him a means to spread that knowledge. But that seemed to be where ingenuity ended. There were some that tried other ideas without success, so they never really moved forward after that.
What could help them? The strong light that caused the harder scaled and mildly larger lizards seemed like a freak accident, it was probably asking too much to hope another one would come along soon. I was finally starting to understand my role. To advance, they needed my guidance. And I wanted them to advance, I wanted them to want more for themselves, not to stagnate and hope for the best.
They needed ingenuity. They needed more than just a rock, they needed tools. Tools. Where had that thought come from? It felt familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I watched them use the rock, lifting it and smashing it down. I payed closer attention and saw they lifted it awkwardly. It was hard for them to get a good grip. That’s why it often took a good amount of whacks to get things open, as they didn’t have much precision.
I looked at their little scaled and clawed hands and imagined. Grip. Manual dexterity. Thumbs. It came to me like shock. An opposable thumb. It felt so incredibly nostalgic, I might have cried had I the eyes to do so. When I imagined my own hands, I felt they too had been like that. Memories tried to surge within me, but they were not strong enough to make it past the tar-like mud that encased them. The murk cut them off before I could glimpse them. It was the first time I wondered who I was.
All this while I’d only been thinking of the lizards with no thought to myself. My current self, the Overseer, I was just starting to understand. But my past self remained shrouded in mystery, just beyond my reach, save for the flash of an inspiration.
Who was I? Where did I come from? How did I get here? All questions went unanswered. I was part of the world, but I was alone. I could not directly interact with lizards or anything else for that matter.
Left unanswered, the thoughts eventually faded away. I didn’t become hysterical, I may not even have been capable of such a thing. But I knew I would revisit those thoughts. Hopefully some clues would come next time. Perhaps influencing the lizards with my inspiration would help me remember. I hoped so.