Ca'naan had never been very enthusiastic for war. None of the S'pht had been. But they had to fight every now and again. They had no choice.
Their choice was how to speak, how to approach problems, etc. The details. Beyond that, they had no choice. All their impulses, all their desires, all their aims, were forced upon them. Ca'naan hated his slavers, but he could never bring himself to harm one. He always had a feeling of camaraderie, of kinship, towards them. Ca'naan didn't hate his enemies, but he always had the urge to kill them, to make them suffer.
It was the controller's fault.
Thousands of years before, the S'pht, the race to which Ca'naan belonged, had been enslaved. Their slavers called themselves the 'Pfhor'. The Pfhor had enslaved a great many races, from the primitive Drinniol to the ancient Nakh. They were kept down by fear - the fear of punishment.
The S'pht were kept down by force. Originally, each Pfhor soldier had the right to punish, or even to kill a S'pht if it didn't fulfill his wishes. Occasionally, a Pfhor soldier would create impossible orders and then kill the S'pht that pointed out their impossibility, just for the sake of having fun.
After a major slave rebellion among the S'pht was put down, the Pfhor changed tactics. The S'pht were cyborgs - they could not survive without the mechanical parts of their bodies - and so were easily linked to a network. The Pfhor used this neural link to great advantage by creating a 'controller' - a robot that infiltrated the S'pht network and forced certain thoughts upon the S'pht. Thoughts that were deemed beneficial to the Pfhor.
Ca'naan had once remembered being able to despise the Pfhor. He had even been able to let one perish at the hands of a rampant Drinniol.
He couldn't do it anymore, though. He had no choice. He always had the uncontrollable urge to obey the Pfhor, no matter the cost. He always had the uncontrollable urge to kill the enemy, to slaughter anything that opposed his masters.
That was why he, Ca'naan, was here.
Where was here? He didn't know. He didn't care. All he remembered was Pfhor Battle Group Eleven coming across another species. A species which had travelled to the stars, and colonized a planet.
Now, he was told to eliminate this species. To slaughter them. The Pfhor had deemed them useless for slavery, and so decided to exterminate them. Ca'naan didn't question these orders. He just killed. He navigated corridors, accessed computers, and killed. He had no choice.
He had no choice but to kill the quivering thing which kneeled before him, seemingly pleading for mercy. To wipe it out like a bug. He powered up his weapon and fired, watching as what seemed to be it's chest was ripped open in a torrent of energy and blood.
He didn't care. It was his job, and he was doing it well. He had no choice but to do it well.
He, like the rest of his kind, was good at accessing computers, and so he was made to do just that. That was why the Pfhor valued them as slaves. Why Ca'naan was a slave.
On the other hand, it seemed that the species he was helping to destroy had no good use. That's why the Pfhor were eliminating them. Why Ca'naan had to kill them.
Ca'naan had spent the day - or was it the night? - accessing computers and slaughtering these aliens.
Once that day, he had encountered an alien wearing bright green - like most of them were. However, he felt the urge not to shoot it.
He presumed it was one of the so-called 'simulacrums' that the Pfhor often built to eliminate foreign species. Sure enough, the rough translation of what this particular alien was saying made no sense whatsoever, a common mistake among simulacrums.
Ca'naan moved on, leaving the simulacrum to incinerate itself. As he passed through various stairwells and corridors, his mind wandered to some distant place.
In his mind, he saw a green field, covered by a blue sky filled with clouds.
It was peaceful. It was serene.
He imagined the wind blowing through his cloak, making the grass wave like water. He looked left, and saw the sun, bright and warm. He felt a wave of calm flood over him, of peace.
As he stared across the fields, he saw something gleaming in the sun. Ca'naan floated to the object out of curiosity.
What he saw, he could not identify. It was a sort of cross shape, but an unusual one at that. One side was metal, long, pointy and sharp, blade-like. The opposite side was short, round, and dark, with a metallic ball at the end. Between the two sides was a line of metal, rectangular in shape but as shiny as the blade-like form.
Without apparent cause, the object began to hover, slowly shifting upwards, as though gravity had gone. There was no sound, simply the motion of the shape. It tilted, as though to face Ca'naan.
Eventually it reached a point where the sun was directly behind it, and so made it seem to glow. Ca'naan was filled with awe.
Everything but the sun and the shape faded out, black as space. And then, a voice, from no particular place, came:
It echoed. It felt far away, yet it also felt close. It seemed to speak to Ca'naan.
'Durandal' it repeated, in the same tone as before.
The vision faded, and Ca'naan found himself staring directly at one of the aliens.
It didn't look like the others. Most of the others had worn a bright suit that seemed to loosely fit their form. But this one looked different altogether. It's face was, for the most part, concealed behind a heavy, grey, visor. At least, that's what Ca'naan thought it was.
On what seemed to be its shoulders were sky-blue pads, and over its chest and arms were fern-green ones. In a few parts, such as the hands, Ca'naan could see a brown suit that seemed to tightly fit the creature's form.
And in it's hands was a black... thing.
Ca'naan puzzled over what this black thing could be. Suddenly, he realized. A gun. This alien was armed, unlike all the others.
Ca'naan was frightened, his veins made cold by the terror that ran through him. He stayed completely still, unsure what to do.
The alien gave no expression, and it did not even seem to point its gun towards Ca'naan. Neither Ca'naan nor the creature moved.
That was when Ca'naan made the sudden realization.
He did not hate the creature.
He did not have the urge to kill it, or to make it suffer.
He was simply afraid of it, as he rationally ought to have been. Why was this? Why wasn't the controller making him attack this alien? Why did he not hate it, as he normally ought to have been?
The alien moved before Ca'naan could think of an answer to these questions. The creature walked calmly past Ca'naan (or at least it seemed to be calm, for Ca'naan was not familiar with the expressions of this foreign species). It walked away, down the corridor.
When Ca'naan was certain the creature was gone, he went the opposite way.
Ca'naan arrived at a large, open room. It was simple, with no great architectural detail nor any computers to infiltrate. But Ca'naan would remember it well.
He looked to the floor, and beheld the carcasses of his masters, the Pfhor. Their yellow ichor coated the ground, their energy staves cracked in half and their bodies ripped open by the implements of war which these aliens employed.
Ca'naan felt no pity, no remorse, no grief. He felt apathetic. He felt like he could laugh at the distress which had befallen these beasts.
He felt a tug at his cloak.
He turned to face the source, and saw the three red eyes of a Pfhor staring at him. This Pfhor was alive. Not by much, but still barely alive. Ca'naan saw that its body was broken and battered, its blood spilt over the floor. The beast seemed to plead for mercy, its voice coming occasionally and with a raspy texture.
Ca'naan didn't care. He ignored the commands which rapped through his translator unit. He focused solely on the eyes of the beast. Those red eyes.
He hated them. He hated everything about them. He hated how they - or rather the creatures to which they belonged - had abused him, beaten him, put him down. He hated the way he had been a slave to them.
He mustered his hate, and raised the arms of his robotic shell, unveiling the green orb which was his weapon. The orb began to glow, and as it did, the Pfhor shrieked more orders, tightened its grip on Ca'naan's cloak, and pulled up the remains of its energy stave.
Ca'naan continued to charge the orb with energy, until at last a burst of light came shooting out, straight into the chest of the creature lying at his feet.
Yellow ichor, mixed with sparks of green energy, filled the air. The creature slid across the floor, it's stave dropping to the ground with a clatter. A shriek emanated from the beast's throat, then silence.
The three red eyes clouded over in the shroud of infinite sleep.
Ca'naan fired again. His anger, his hatred, his fury, his rage - these could not be contained. He fired again and again, smoke, energy and ichor filling the air.
At last, Ca'naan was satisfied. His foe was dead - its broken body smoldered and its blood steamed. It, like the dozen other corpses lying about the room, was simply that; a corpse.
Ca'naan reveled in this fact, turning it over in his mind, a dozen phrases all pointing to a single fact: it was dead. Ca'naan would've smiled, if he had had the ability to.
At last, he was free. The controller had no power over him. His thoughts were his own. His actions were his own.
He did have a choice.
The vision from earlier filled his mind, the final word echoing through the chambers of his memory:
He knew what it meant.