We curse them. We worship them. We are in of them. We despise them. They have shaped the Galaxy and the know Universe like no other species before or since.
Humanity. The Children of Man. The Children of Earth. The Spawn of Gaia. Those Who Shall Not Be Named.
They were once not what we know of or think we do, but we'll get to that later. They were once one hybridized, single-system confined species. They were once something simple.
Merely biped, they were mildly sexually dimorphic and slightly varied pheotypically. They bore live young. They were the sole species of sophont life on their world at the time of discovery and when they initially exploded into the galaxy.
They were a species of contradictions. Brave and craven, brilliant and stupid. Purely sophomoric. Even their origin was ironic: they seemed to have originated in a tropical environment...but during global glaciations.
They were not the strongest, smartest, best at anything, but yet were able and willing to endure more, try over and over and practice and gain wisdom through their errors: they learned by doing.
They had tamed their world. Nothing dared hunt Humanity. All of Humanity's competitors were wiped out. The ecosystem had been reorganized to support their population, then made more efficient and the footprint for their population purposefully shrunk so as to return parts of their world to the Wild once more.
At the time of the Attack, just after their discovery, they had 10 billion individuals living upon their world. With the majority living within great cities, their population had stabilized. There was little want for the minimum of necessities. Or so sayeth the oldest of the evidence we have.
They had, to be sure, spread within their stellar system: they had colonized the so called Red Planet and a few thousand lived there. They was even an odd claim they had balloon cities floating in the clouds of the second world.
No evidence of this has been found. In times after, when colonizing a gas giant or another world, they would often adapt their phenotype to their new environment. At first they made pains to allow the new traits to be passed on to the general population of Humanity. The creation of the Children of Humanity Movement would end the antispeciation bias. However, that was to be in the future.
Humanity, was still restricted to their stellar system and had shown no great hope, desire or drive to leave.
We do not know the exact date. We do not know the exact locale. We do know that the Gr#!z attacked what has been described as the Capital.
This city was described as the center of their 'world.' It was supposed to exist on the edge of a great sea derived from a continental rift in the supercontinent of their world.
It was utterly destroyed. A smoking crater existed where once a metropolis of 30 million used to exist. There was 100% death. No human survived.
And this was merely the opening shot of the Gr#!z's invasion of Earth.
The Gr#!z had assumed the Humans were like them and were very centralized. Take out the leaders. Take out the brain. The rest would die. Proverbially at least.
The Gr#!z completely underestimated Humanity. As so many would do so afterwards. You would think sentients would learn, but, no, they did not. Not until it was too late.
Humanity, with individual initiative, with individual courage, with individual sacrifice that added up to so much more, stomped the Gr#!z forces into the ground, burned them from the sky and chased them from their stellar system.
And, yet, did not pursue the Gr#!z. The Gr#!z prepared for the onslaught they was to come. Yet, it did not. No great fleets appeared above their worlds. No insurgent bombs. No relativistic projectiles to be thwarted. Nothing.
The Gr#!z were perplexed and built a fleet once more. Defense turned to offense, but they went back stealthily, at least as much as physics allows, to recon the system.
Humanity had prevailed. They had been rebuilding their worlds. Their lives. Their ways of life. They had seen enough of war. The Gr#!z were gone. Why do more? They were obviously not ready for the rest of the galaxy just yet. So, stay home, tend the garden, and not let that happen again.
The Gr#!z met this memetic mess with derision and attacked. They did not get past the Death World of the Five Moons. Their fleet was utterly destroyed.
With this, the Humans boiled out into the Galaxy. For two decades, the Humans fought their way through the Gr#!z Fleet. They conquered world after world. Taking place after place from the Gr#!z until only the Gr#!z homeworld was left.
The might of Humanity then massed against the Gr#!z. They rained fire upon the Gr#!z. They smashed the world. They tore apart and shredded the surface of the Gr#!z homeworld.
Then they landed. Then they fought from hut and hive to burrow and barrow. Humans fought and killed and destroyed any Gr#!z that resisted. Even in the slightest.
And, then, in the aftermath, with the Gr#!z defeated and expecting genocide, with the Galaxy shocked and looking on, with the might of Humanity poised to wipe the memory of the Gr#!z from existence, Humanity reached out its collective hand and grabbed the proverbial tentacle of the Gr#!z.
And lifted them up.
And rebuilt their worlds.
And saved the Gr#!z from extinction.
And returned home.
Despite having the righteous wrath of hundreds of millions dead, despite the split blood and ocher of billions, despite having the complete power to utterly end the Gr#!z as a warning to the Galaxy, Humanity did not leave behind a single garrison, a single trooper, a single bot.
Humanity only left a warning: do not do that again.
That was so Human of them. Burn worlds to ash, rebuild those worlds, and leave them in peace. That amazing contradiction. That amazing heavenly peace and hell fire in one.
Absorb it, taste it, know it and perceive it. This was what won them the galaxy.
That wondrous contradiction: that utterly merciful brutal humanity in Humanity.