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The Return of the Emperors

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Written by   23
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-Twenty-five years ago, this whole place was a real mess, -said Sofi, as she adjusted the balaclava over her mouth-. Damn, the cold is awful.

-Thank you for not being in Cerberus, your ears can fall off if you leave them exposed for more than five seconds, - answered Lidia, watching her companion shake the snow off her thick coat.

They continued to walk around the white dome that covered much of the frozen landscape, further ahead they stopped in front of a bronze plaque attached to the thick wall of the building.

-Well, here we are, let's make it quick so we can get back before my ears fall off, -said Sofi.

Lidia shook the plate with her gloved hand to remove the snow and uncover its surface, stood beside it and pulled out her balaclava.

-Ready, do it now, before I lose my ears, -she said smiling and assuming her best pose.

-Enough of that please, - said Sofi, raising her communicator and pointing it in Lidia's direction -. Ready, we can go now.

-Let me see, -said Lidia taking the device-. I never thought I would look so good in a ten-pound thermal suit.

-Of course you look better in that than in a bathing suit, can we go now? -said Sofi Sardonic.

On the way to the coast they saw a line of emperor penguins walking towards the sea.

-Look how beautiful they look, -said Lidia- What are they, I had never seen them before.

-They are female emperor penguins, they only live here and on a few other planets, - replied Sofi, guiding the slider.

-And how do you know they're female? -asked Lidia.

-Because they go to the sea for food.

-And what, the males don't eat, they expect to be served lunch -said Lidia.

-Something like that, do you want to see? -said Sofi, deviating the course without waiting for an answer.

A few kilometers away, in the direction of the origin of the line, in the middle of a plain, where the wind was blowing hard, an army of about two hundred penguins was standing stoically, resisting the intense cold.

They stopped the slider at a prudential distance and observed with binoculars the curious scene.

-What the hell are they doing, they're just standing there, freezing -asked Lidia, surprised at what she saw.

-It's the males, adjust the zoom so you can see in detail -Sofi replied.

Lidia did what her partner told her to do and looked at a couple of them carefully -. Oh damn, what is that? -she said, when she saw how from between the legs of one of them a small chick was appearing, almost completely white in face, decorated with a small beak.

-They care for the eggs and the young, while the females look for food, -said Sofi-. They stand there on their nests for weeks, warming the eggs and chicks, until they are mature enough.

-Damn that's beautiful... and strange -Lidia said.
-Their population was reduced long after the attack on the radio station; the bombing was not accurate, because it did not detect with precision the origin of the signal, the army used a fission bomb, which destroyed part of their ecosystem and killed an immense number,

-So cruel -commented Lídia.

-Its population is just beginning to recover -said Sofi-. Let's go back before nightfall.

Later, in the boat, on the way to the port of the southern peninsula, Lídia was observing her photograph in front of the plate of the dome.

"Zone zero of the attack on the Penguin Bay communications station.
Day 33, month 6, year 534 of Cepheus.
This dome keeps the area contaminated by radiation, generated by the explosion of a fission device, used to destroy a communications station, used to guide the attack on the Castor and Pollux space stations, where 832,534 refugees from Cepheus perished".

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