CHILDREN of PYGMALION-enlarged version

C H I L D R E N      O F    P Y G M A L I O N

 

“Every person that you meet is a potential healer of something that still hurts within your heart. You perfectly attract each person as if by magnet. Allow each relationship, even those that are brief, to help you to further understand your true feelings and bring you new realizations. In this way, you can learn from and then release old negative patterns. May all of your relationships be bathed in the sunlight of gentleness, mutual respect, and kindness.” (Anonymous)
 

The tiny, silver-spotted blue bead was spinning diligently around its yellow sun, lost in the star-spotted arm of the mighty galaxy. Time has flown and shaped the planet during hundreds and thousands of years, while life has constantly flourished on its welcoming or sometimes harsh shores. But the most brilliant of her children had left the premises as soon as they opened eyes on the marvels of distant spaces.

Like the seeds of a planetary dandelion-flower they fled the warmth of the nest and riding the powerful currents of Space, they spread along the pathways of light and dust. Only a few remnants of Humanity still inhabited the Earth. They were mainly maintenance technicians, watching over the vital systems of the few active cities and supervising the weather balance around the world.

There were also people so deeply connected to this fragile speck of star-dust that they had no heart to leave her behind and move to one of the external colonies. After long decades of being an overcrowded planet, the cradle of human race was now more like a museum. People were coming and going but this wasn’t considered a place to stay anymore.

And, of course, here there were those hopeless dreamers, artists, bohemians, cloud-walking daydreamers like us, two girls and a guy who had not decided yet what to do with their crazy lives.

The same inquisitive mind and unquenched curiosity brought us together and word by word, a new idea emerged in our restless minds: let’s find a planet for us only and shape it at will. Foolish and unrealizable as it might have sounded, this idea wasn’t totally hopeless. And we were just the perfect team to explore an unmapped planet: one artful yet practical girl with a mindset of fantasy,

Athena, one half spirit-half human creature, shy, elusive and secretive, me, Kiera and of course the one and only male that connected us, a daredevil, the passionate and creative Ulysses, poet and magician. An explosive concoction of characters, crazy enough to leave all worry behind and jump into unknown head first.

After we decided upon our quest, we spent a few months on looking for a medium sized star-ship that would allow us to go far enough and find a suitable place to plant and grow the seeds of imagination. We relied on Ulysses to pilot the ship while we supplied the crew. Two huge solar flares that rocked our home-planet sped up the preparations. We had no one to say good-bye, except maybe to the unique world that had given birth to our restless species. After depart the first space-jump proved to be the hardest; we went through it with tearful eyes, choking with the emotion of parting…forever.

And then….Space opened before us, displaying its treasures to our eyes and hungry souls, leaving us speechless and filled with amazement. We dealt with the ups and downs of the successive space-jumps according to our peculiar personalities. Days in a row Athena kept roaming the corridors like a sleep-walker, her mind feverishly working.  She was walking and waving fantastic dreams about the planet we might reach. It wasn’t a futile activity as you might think; her high-strung mind accorded to the subtle flow of cosmic energy was subtly curving our trajectory towards a place that would fit our collective dream. Slightly unbalanced by the loss of firm ground under my feet, I delved in my half- spirit entity and tuned into the force-fields of space, tracing the same destination from another perspective. At the end of each day, Athena and I, we were confronting our findings with the star-maps, getting sometimes on the nerves of our enlighten leader and commander. Ulysses listened to us, half amused, half exasperated, noted down our pieces of information and then sent us off smirking.

-Go, go now, ladies….Fix something to eat until I’ll decipher your stories, will you?

In his own moments of meditation, our adventurous poet was dreaming big and magical. He was constantly shaping the image of the planetary paradise he sought with undiminished passion. There were eventless days when he amazed us with his sensitive and catchy lines of poetry. These were the moments when we doted on him and he was our beloved source of warmth and inner light.

All this time our boisterous star-ship bounced over rocky depths of hollow darkness and scorching flows of solar-bursts, it spun around star geysers, electric-blue, hot star-twins…We joined gigantic boulders rolling through the shadows of deep space, we rode comets victoriously unfolding their sparkling tails, we twisted our imagination to rename the infinite variety of galactic masses and star-bearing nebulas.

Then one day, as the milky sheen of stardust cleaned before us, the young star that was to become our sun showered us with the first, welcoming rays. We stood there on the main deck, holding hands, eyes glued to the holographic image of a planet hidden under a protective layer of opalescent clouds. It was a soft ball of rock, gently rolling on its invisible trail around his life-giving star. Two tiny moons were chasing each-other around our home-to-be, making us wonder about how that night sky adorned with two celestial bodies might look.

We joined our spiritual energies into one coherent beam that fingered the surface below and read as much as it could about the features of the planet. The readings were encouragingly familiar: the planet had oceans and lands, mountains and valleys, rivers and fields and meadows. And there was something else, something that made this hidden planet special and precious. It had…hopes and expectations, a surprising feature that resonated in the smallest element or atom encompassed in its wholeness.

The planet knew we were coming and it also knew that we had plans and dreams about it. So the moment we closed on it, a window opened into the dense layer of clouds and we safely landed on a dry spot situated in the middle of the large continent. The air was fresh and breathable so we stepped out of the starship, scrutinizing the surroundings in awe and deep curiosity. As we already knew from the previous measurements, the planet had one major continent with an almost circular shape and there were several islands scattered in the immensity of the globe-round ocean.

Since the contours of the land were blurred by a constantly shifting curtain of mist we could rely only on the readings of the beam of inner light tapping out the shapes and surfaces. We decided to divide the continent into three equal sized territories and use them as personal creating grounds. The invisible lines of division merged into a center point that later became our meeting ground free of magic and where we were just three bold and dreaming humans in a common quest. Restless Ulysses took the Land of Dawn, the one situated on North and East. I received the Land of Sunset, from North to West and the largely opened of the South became the kingdom of Athena.

Before we immersed into the creative contest we had one last late-night talk over dinner under the stars. The two moons, Alpha and Omega were under the horizon so the sky above us was splashed with twinkling diamond sparks, coiling constellations, dark clouds of dust clearly cut out over the blaze of the heights.

Ulysses set the stage by handing us a dozen of his scented candles and we diligently placed them in a large circle around our dinner table. He lit them with a quick move of his hand, scattering a fistful of sizzling sparks over the protective circle surrounding us. The table was already set with some of the bold concoctions Athena and I made in our space-kitchen so our leading poet and commander filled the glasses from a bottle of golden wine brought from the home planet. The memory of translucent grapes ripening under the shower of warmth swirled inside the glass, smoothly curving around the delicate walls, then rose and joined the harmony of scents released by the shimmering candles. We sipped the amber like liquor in silence, recalling the light-bathed hills, the joy and laughter echoing in time of harvest, the blaze of the last days of the Indian summer…Melancholy spread her wings, hovering in circles above us…

-Let me show you something, ladies…

Ulysses’ soft, purring voice pulled us back to reality. He smiled and his deep, ocean-green eyes filled with playful lights. He took out a notebook and placed it on the table. He flipped it open and moved a hand over the pages; a dim glow gathered in a tiny cluster above. A quick rotation of the wrist lifted the bright maze, turning it into fiery letters floating in the air before our eyes. Lines of poetry written by Ulysses formed and they talked about the beauty of the garden, of the roses and the birds inhabiting it. Then, one by one the letters turned into leaves, sticks and branches, petals and rivering rows of flowers, while their scent enveloped us, shutting out the reality beyond.  Shiny hummingbirds like gems were flying in frenzy up and down this corner of Eden….We stood there mesmerized. Then, after a while the flowers faded into…words, hummingbirds returned to the letters of their own name, the lines of poetry dissipated in a graceful dance and the light died out between the covers of the notebook.

Ulysses chuckled at the sighting of our faces: Athena’s cheeks were burning red, her eyes shining with excitement, while I was so overwhelmed by emotions that I couldn’t stop tears streaming down my face. I shook my head in embarrassment ad took a deep breath to regain my balance.

-That was beautiful…the words slipped from my mouth instinctively.

We burst in laughter and relaxed. In the meantime, the larger moon, Alpha reached the top of the sky, blurring the stars. Its sharp silver light enhanced the glow of the silky mist swaying above the land. We were back to reality.

-So, ladies…On whose kingdom are we going to start the creative work tomorrow?

We looked at each other…and the decision came almost instantly.

-Well, Athena you’re the first to move in. After all you’re the one who wants something brand new and never seen before.

Happiness washed over the lively face and you could see she was beaming.

-You’ll see!-she exclaimed. I promise that you won’t be disappointed…

The moon plunged into the sea of mist so we resumed our dinner and went to sleep. While Athena stormed to her room, I touched Ulysses and he turned towards me questioningly.

-What’s wrong?-I asked. You seem tensed…

He was surprised.

-How did you know? I thought it’s unnoticeable…

-I can feel it, you know that.

-Oh, yes. I forgot. Your spirit side…

I smiled to put him at ease.

-Right; my inner connection. Now, won’t you tell me what is bothering you?

We stopped in front of a port-hole. It was pit-black outside but we knew that the planet was there, cloaked in fog and shadows, waiting for a resurrection.

-I wonder…-said Ulysses pensively. We might encounter some unexpected difficulties. You saw my magic this evening; it doesn’t last. It lacks consistence…We might have to connect the planet if we want to reshape her and there is only one person who can do that…

Suddenly, I felt a lump in my throat; Ulysses’ voice was a distance whisper, echoing worry.

-Kiera, will you do it, if needed? I know what that implies for you…but…

For a brief moment the world spun around me and I shut my eyes, fighting back nausea. Oh, three hot-headed dreamers…we just jumped ahead, without even knowing what our limits were…whatever…it was too late for laments. This was by now our home and failure was not an option. I didn’t want to let Ulysses needlessly worry over me.

I opened my eyes, straightened my back and put up my bravest smile.

-I can handle it, don’t worry. We didn’t come this way long to give up. Sleep well, my poet. Good night.

He raised an eyebrow and watched me carefully, trying to see beyond my composure. It was a moment of fun and finally we both laughed. I quickly kissed him and fled to my cabin.

-Women…-he grumbled and turned to his headquarters.

Night took over the planet.

 

 

 

 

A new day dawned upon the pristine land. As the yellow sun soaked up the fog, vast expanse of flat land opened in front of us, stretching towards the bluish horizon. We took the small, emergency shuttle and flew over the Southern land.

Short, frosty-green grass covered the soil, rippling under the touch of the warm morning breeze. We landed in a place that was approximately in the center of that chosen area. Athena rushed out in boisterous excitement to feel and touch the place that would be the kingdom of her imagination. Ulysses and I, we followed her in silence, thoughts running through our minds, chasing doubts and the shadowing fears of unsuccessful attempt. I could read his concerns in the darkening of his eyes and the subtle twitch of the jaw. I touched his arm.

-Let’s try first. I am here…

He acknowledged my support with a faint smile and stepped forward, his tall and lean silhouette capturing the sunlight into an eerie halo around him. Ulysses pointed out a wide circle and stood there with stern, thoughtful face until we placed the candles one by one all around. He lit them with one quick move of his hand and raised the protective wall of spell to keep us undisturbed.

We took place in the three main points dividing the circle in equal parts and held hands to combine the resources of our souls. Eyes shut, we disconnected from the outside world and joined into gathering all the light and magic energies residing beyond conscientious grasp. Warm currents of spirit emerged, surging to the surface of our minds, seeping through the palms and fingertips to unite into a single orb of sizzling, blazing bundle of light.

-Athena…

Ulysses’ soft whisper rippled in the silence encompassing us.

-Try something simple at first…

As the echoes of the words died out, a bubbling source of crystal clear water erupted under our feet, right in the center of the magic circle. The source grew with every burst and spread over the grass, running ahead, conquering the plain beyond the wall of spells.  Emerald islands of tall, swaying grass emerged in the arms of the crisscrossing arteries of water, while the life-giving source followed its victorious run towards the ocean lost in the blur of the southern horizon.

The cooling freshness of the constantly surging source brushed over our skins, the promises of life overtaking our senses. It was a moment of bliss…that soon ended. The source vanished under our feet and the miracle outside the circle faded under the sun. Athena’s disappointment washed over me along with the deep concern coming from our protective leader in this quest.

-Just as I thought…-he murmured, avoiding my gaze.

But the anguish oozing from Athena has already broken down my reluctance. I turned and grabbed her firmly by the shoulders and told her:

-Don’t be afraid, I’ll fix it. Please, step aside, both of you.

Ulysses took away our airy friend and held her close in his comforting embrace. I lay face-down on the grass and closed my eyes, shutting everything out. My spirit-half took the lead and subtly reached out towards the planet below. As I dived deeper and deeper, the feeling of the surface under my body changed, softened until it felt warm and smooth like the skin of a living entity. From the sensitive body behind it, a tingling sensation seeped inside me, flowing through the pathways of my mind and soul. Light fingers of strange, alien energy tapped the layers of heartfelt memories of a planet that I was carrying hidden deep inside me. But with each reading, the images once encapsulated faded out and the planet connected intimately with my mind, filling the hollows, step by step.

It was a bitter-sweet victory. While this personal connection between me and the new planet ensured the success and the stability of our dream-creations, the loss of the memory of the earth was cutting deep inside me, my heart crying out with every withering image, every muffled sound or fading scent. Spirit as I was, from the three of us I was the least prepared to leave behind the Earth. Though I knew that our home was doomed, my foolishly romantic heart still ached for those realms. So I wept like a child for the loss of the cherished images of softly curved, grassy hills, soaring, snow-glazed mountains, mirroring lakes and spraying waterfalls. Familiar shapes of glittering constellations, the majestic ribbon of the Milky Way arching over the plains, the silver-showering companion of the Earth, the poetically elusive Moon…I’ve lost them all, giving space to a new beginning. When the last piece of memory got filled up and the connection completed, I felt awkwardly empty and fulfilled at the same time. My rivering pain that smashed through the pathways of my heart cleared the way and slowly calmed down, opening the gate for the conjunction with the cosmic entity that had acquired us.

New, wild, untamed energies surged from the planet, bold and wishful, waiting for a sign to get into action. Once again I reached consciousness and connected to reality. I didn’t realize that I was shaking until Ulysses helped me up. I staggered but he caught me and held me firmly until I regained my balance. Athena’s lilac eyes were watching me full of hope and expectations. I smiled reassuringly.

-Connection completed. Go, girl! It’s time to dream big!

 

 

Smoky-silver light showers from above as Alpha is slowly climbing the skies. The wondering face of the main moon looks down in astonishment to the new territory stretching below.

In the translucent ocean of vapor and thin air an intricate castle woven of silk thread and rays of light floats gracefully, as the three  bold dreamers watch in equal amazement the Southern kingdom unfolding.

A vast net of crystal clear waters, lacing the plain, small, gleaming arteries of streams running joyfully towards the sandy shores of the ocean, thousands of emerald-green islands nested between the life giving arms….tiny bridges arching over the crisscrossing channels, connecting the patches of land…long-stemmed flowers swaying under the breeze, while fern-like trees were twinkling in the all encompassing glow…Sweet, floral scents permeate the air…elegant, airy creatures like huge mantis-rays are swimming through the ocean of the atmosphere…Popping out from mushroom-like umbrellas, spores of iridescent bubbles float elegantly on the currents of air, moon-rays swirling across their delicate shell in shimmering rainbows…It’s a new world, a dream born inside the artful mind.

Athena points out every feature of her kingdom with enthusiastic awe to her two friends joining this magic ride on the hovering castle. The planet breathes peacefully, dreaming ahead about marvels yet unborn inside her mist covered remaining two-thirds…

 

 

Somewhere around midnight we left Athena and returned to the base, happy but exhausted. Our joined creative work has had its grand opening but there was still a lot to do. The grid of magic running around the planet ensured the success of our following creations so we were ready to go on with it first time in the morning. I knew that the dream-world of Ulysses was lying dormant between the covers of his poetry-book. Magic surprises were sleeping for now, carved out in blazing words. Of the three of us, he was the most enigmatic, spiritual being, insightful, connected intimately to the soft whispers of a hidden reality that was beyond our grasp. He was the vessel of an inner light that kept us floating and captured the hearts, an elusive light, alluring and irresistible…

I was about to say “good night” when he stopped me; he could sense my tribulations and he wanted to ease my inner turmoil.

-Kiera…don’t be afraid, it’ll be fine. I know it. Anyway, if you feel lost, I’m always around.

He gave me the sweetest smile and all of a sudden, everything brightened up and I went to sleep with a lighter heart.

 

 

The planet moved under the touch of dreams; it opened towards me and listened, following the light traveling through our inner connection. The land rose, turned and twisted, shaping new forms. Yellow-green triangles of trembling leaves danced on the tips of delicate branches and tiny sticks as the white silhouettes of birch groves took over the soft line of the hills. Tall, solemn-grey beech woods walked higher, mixing with majestic old oaks as the land grew into foothills then turned into soaring dragons of glistening rock.

Dark, steel-green columns of fir and pine trees built into organs of vegetation on the steep slopes, then dwarfed into crawling bushes of junipers and crimson mountain roses. Pointed peaks, like razor-sharp shark teeth bit into the chilling, high atmosphere, the sunrays gliding over facets of amethyst and smoky quartz.

Wild streams bubbled, jumping, splashing, grumbling over the obstacles of rocks and boulders, gathering in clear-blue pools only to restart their rush into the hollows of cracks, straights and ravines. Dense rivers of mist clouded, floated, waved above the mountains, rivering down the deep valleys. The rocky spine of the mountain leaned towards the Eastern kingdom, and the stern woods of conifers smoothed into light-woven forests, filtering the sun. The air of the morning was fresh and crisp, the low humming of insects entwining with the high-pitched chirping of the boisterous singing birds.

I stepped at the edge of the forest, gazing into the golden glow ahead. I had leaded my forests towards Ulysses to help him set the stage for the birth of his dream-land. I stood there, half hidden in the shadow, waiting and silently watching his tall, slender shape surrounded by light. Unlike Athena who is an artful creature, a chip of a Greek goddess, comfortable with herself, I am an odd mix of conflicting features. Joyful and energetic on the outside, haunted by romantic bursts of melancholy on the inside, I’m an untamed child of Nature born into the body of a woman. Sometimes I feel like I am too much for myself and I shy away from my own feelings…

Ulysses flipped open his book and whispered a spell over the intricate rows of words inhabiting the pages. Just like at that late-night dinner show, the words rose in the air, then, as they embodied their content, spread around, adorning the Eastern kingdom with magic features.

Streams born inside the cooling belly of the mountain were cascading in spraying waterfalls…The light, penetrating through the tiny droplets burst out in shining beads of rainbow…The ever-moving rows of sizzling water-gems washed down over the deep-green curtains of moss and grass clinging to the rocky stairs, spread in vaporous, delicate veils from the dizzying heights in a harmonious, soul soothing move and sound. The streams gathered into rivers and the rivers plunged into deep holes carefully hidden under the greenery.

Caves opened inside the land under the thin crust of solid ground and the rivers coiled around columns of bright turquoise, wine-red rubies, fire opals and clear-blue sapphires. As the boiling waters left the underworld, the land slowly slid towards the awaiting ocean, taming into wide shores. Foam-crested waves kissed the white sands, leaving behind gifts of nacreous shells. A row of beautiful islands faced the horizon where the miracle of a new day kept rising on and on, under the touch of the sun. Large fans of undulating palm-trees flipped in the salty ocean breeze, graceful white birds cried over the rolling waters, spicy scents erupted in the warmth of the night from the velvet core of the exotic flowers…

Cozy, comfortable lodgings were scattered around this land in places of calm and serenity. Whenever Ulysses was at home in any of them, the shimmering, scented candles indicated his presence. The Eastern kingdom was Paradise reborn under new stars.

The work has been done.

 

 

 

Kiera sighed as Ulysses closed his book of poetry with an inward smile.

-We did it-he said, turning to the girl waiting for him. And I was right about you, wasn’t I?

She acknowledged.

-The planet has kept my memories and helped me reinstate them. It was an unexpected gift…

-It was an act of fairness to wards you. Now let’s go back and celebrate. I think we deserve a special treat and some fireworks…

The planet stretched imperceptibly and then relaxed. It was pleased with the result. It rocked herself into sleep as the shadows of the night conquered the land and small Omega rolled into the star-spotted stage of the skies.

 

 

There is no surge in Nature without a recess, so after months of arduous work in refining the features, balancing our kingdoms and the excitement of roaming new, unexpected sightings, we came to realize that no matter how wonderful things might have looked, we were only three humans in this whole, huge magic land. We had fled the restless, noisy and boisterous company of our fellow humans just to start missing them by now…

This was the moment when we decided to populate our lands with inhabitants that would fit the whole scenery. The only problem was how to create such high complexity creatures. Whatever the planet could do, it has been already done. It has helped us setting the scenery but sentient beings were connected to a more subtle flow of cosmic energies.

Athena and I, we were relying on Ulysses to gain access to those levels of reality. It was an area where he moved swiftly and he was at home. So we, the girls kept ourselves busy with the general features of each group of future inhabitants. Athena wanted nymphs and semi-gods from the myths of her ancestors; the world of Ulysses belonged to mermaids and mermen and I was an arduous admirer of elves, fairies and dwarfs.

To complete his work, Ulysses needed a peaceful spot to meditate and roam the hidden layers of reality; so one day he grace fully bowed towards us and disappeared inside his kingdom without any additional explanation. We acknowledged and delved into the work that was at hand for us.

Our graceful companion reappeared all of a sudden after more than a week, with an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile and some playful sparks in his eyes.

-Ladies. Nice to see you. We have things to do.

He smiled and continued.

-Athena. I need you to fly over the entire continent and map the spots where the two moons shed the brightest light. Kiera and I, we have to go up the mountain and find a window of high energy.

Athena smirked, gazing at us playfully:

-Do I have to? It looks boring. Are you sure you’re not shutting me out while the two of you have all the fun?

I reddened while Ulysses burst into laughter.

-Don’t be silly, Athena. Tracing those spots is half of the work to be done. We need that map to be ready the moment we would be back. Nothing can be achieved without it so I rely on your swiftness.

He lifted her from the ground and swirled her until she was breathless. He put her down with a smile.

-You’re an artist, Athena and you have a keen eye. I’m sure this will be a piece of cake for you. Think about your semi-gods and speed up. It has to be done till the end of this week. Alpha and Omega will be in conjunction.

We split in good spirit and headed to sleep.

 

The sun was fighting the morning fog as we took the road towards the mountain. Ulysses and I, we left the small shuttle on a pasture near the edge of the forest and took a narrow pathway leading to the highs. Ulysses knew the way; we had been there several times before, watching sunsets and counting shooting stars… when we had been on Earth.

The high arch that opened on the vastness of the sky was a replica of a place we often visited at home. According to Ulysses, this one was a place that connected high–level energies, a place that he found out through his inner compass. I followed him whole heartedly, despite the fact that I had no idea what was about to happen up there. All I knew was that he needed my connection to the planet and since I trusted him, all I worried about were my own abilities.

It took us two days to reach the peak. We slept under the stars, drank water from icy cold sources, picked forest fruits and laughed a lot. But I knew that Ulysses’ mind was constantly working on the task ahead, shaping and reshaping the way to complete it. These were days when I could see him from a different perspective and I fully enjoyed the opportunity.

Ulysses has always been an eye catcher, but his good looks were only a thin layer of appearance over a personality of incredible depths and labyrinth-like complexity. Beyond the courteous smile and good manners there was a strong and independent character, a brilliant mind and a thirst for opening of new horizons. Like the stars in the skies that he so easily and naturally connected, his core was made of blazing light that could ignite a universe…

But for now, he was our friend, our protector, poet and master magician with whom we kept building a world that never existed before. It was shortly after nightfall that we reached the peak. In the warm evening there was a strange chill in the air that brazed our skin and I shuddered.

Ulysses set up the circle of protective spell, leaving me time to rest and gather strength.  As the night deepened, the shape of the two moons was becoming increasingly bright. The moment of conjunction was near. We stepped inside the circle of candles and their light softly trembled at our closeness.

Ulysses took my hands; his touch was warm, soft and soothing. Calmness settled inside me and I shut my eyes.

-It’s time-he whispered and I plunged inside my inner world, following the trail of Spirit and Earth connections that webbed inside me ever since I mapped and connected with the planet.

On his side, Ulysses reached out to the stars and for a moment, the Universe halted, listening to his call.

-Open your eyes. NOW!

The word of command echoed inside me, its powerful wave shaking me back to reality. I gasped and woke up looking straight at him. A warm, golden light waved inside the green pools of his eyes. I gazed into their translucent waters and suddenly, the light erupted from the depths, washing over me.

Torrents of blaze ran down my veins, spreading inside me in a warm, rapidly pulsing net, until they filled up even the tiniest capillaries. Stardust rolled and swirled inside that stream, celestial harmony turned into rhythms that overtook my heart, tuning its beating to the faraway thumping of star-birth.

The planet responded to the challenge of the Universe and her cooling energies surged through my body in streams of blue sizzling, coiling around the flaming rush inside me, raising an arch of bright azure over our entwining entities. The blue halo enveloped both me and Ulysses and inside this creating turmoil of energies, the physical limits separating us disappeared. For a magic moment, we were one. The tides of Time halted as our merging completed.

Heart melted into heart, arteries and veins connected, eyes opened towards the same miracle and the seeds of life took shape, one by one. In the limited infinity between us there was a point of burning light that cradled those brilliant specks, those promises of life. They kept emerging and clustering until we had enough to fill our acquiring home. The cluster of light solidified into a faintly glowing fruit, floating in between the two of us.

Land and sky separated as the rush of energies calmed down and the rivers of blaze faded into their originating nests. We slowly returned behind our personal boundaries, elated and exhausted. I stepped back, leaving Ulysses to take hold of the precious result of joined creation.

Alpha and Omega split in the skies; the short moment of conjunction has ended. The river of Time was flowing again over us. We looked at each-other silently; we needed no words. We had succeeded. The first step of populating the planet has been completed.

Ch6.

Two days later we reached the base; Athena was waiting for us, eager to start the work. We took a quick shower, changed clothes and gathered in the Commanding Room.

She unfolded the map, spreading it over the large desk. A web of blue and white dots covered the continent, always in pairs. It looked like the two moons had worked together despite the fact that, except for the conjunction, they seemed to rarely visit the skies at the same time. The energy spots were scattered along rivers, on islands, channels, ocean shores, high peaks or deep forests. Planting the seeds in all those places meant that we would have to work together at high speed.

Ulysses took out the protective box that nested the precious fruit. He lifted the lid and gently pushed the box towards Athena. The fruit-of-life was pulsing calmly as he moved his palm above it. I could feel the faint current of energy coming from the box, reaching towards each of us. The soft touch reverberated inside me; Athena closed her eyes and took a deep breath, captured by the new, unusual feeling.

During our moment of awe Ulysses assessed the data from the map and the readings about the two moon’s movements in the skies; he raised an eyebrow and tilted his head:

-Ladies, I hate to interrupt your daydreaming but we have no spare time. The window of opportunity we have to plant the seeds is less than two days. We have to hurry up.

So the data was loaded into the memory of the emergency shuttle and we left for Athena’s land. We worked day and night to plant the seeds. We slept in shifts and we, the girls were the gardeners most of the time. We needed Ulysses to fly the shuttle and to keep the fruit-of-life energized. He was the only one powerful enough to protect and keep alive that magical collection of seeds of light.

Athena and I, we dug up the soil and molded the small nests, placed the seeds inside and covered them carefully with the thin layer of soil. We held hands over the nest and summoned the magic of Earth and Skies through the portals of our souls, raising a protective spell over the cradle of the future children of dreams. When the last nest was finally secured under the slender palm-tree undulating on the ocean shore, we embraced each other, happy but exhausted. Ulysses lead us to one of his favorite lodgings and that night we all slept like new-born babies, deeply, comfortably and free from concerns.

 

 

Alpha and Omega rose from the frothy waves of the ocean, slowly approaching each other, their light showering over the land, faint blue and frosty silver entwining over the secret places that held the pulsing seeds. Like pulled by an unseen power, the two moons closed on each other in what looked like a strange dance in the skies.

Sizzling halo of light gathered above each spot, thin pencils of rays fingered the surface and the planet shuddered under the touch. The crust of soil cracked with a sift noise, the belly of the earth opened and widened. As the midnight meridian moved over the spots, a clear, high-pitched sound of an invisible bell announced that the magical birth has begun. Showered by moonlight, slender shapes emerged from the underworld, one by one. They filled the land, danced and laughed under the spray of light coming from above.

Graceful nymphs and handsome semi-gods took over the land of the Southern kingdom, quickly settling on the tiny islands, weaving nests of silk, dew and light or houses of magic-grass that were hanging in colorful rows from the fern-like trees. Some of them captured handfuls of iridescent bubbles and flew, riding the warm currents of air, reaching the hovering castle. They roamed the corridors and the crisscrossing, artful hallways then sat in some of the numerous rooms of that fantastic building.

On the Eastern kingdom, mermaids and mermen splashed and swam in happy gatherings, teasing the dolphins and the schools of rainbow fish. Horses of bubbling foam ran wildly over the breaking waves and pearly birds followed their rush, circling above.

The hills, meadows and valleys of the Western kingdom opened its arms of greenery and clear waters to acquire the boisterous elves, airy and wise fairies and diligent dwarfs. A majestic dragon of mist floated peacefully above them, watching over the elegant yet energetic creatures.

As the night faded into the pink Aurora, the birth of the three nations completed. The bold dreamers of the far Earth woke up to a world of new responsibilities.

Ch7.

 

It might be true that the old gods of humanity took a nap or a well-deserved rest after completing their creation but that was definitely not our case. I might even say that in our case, it was the contrary…As the rays of the sun hit the tip of the waves rolling in the ocean, the children of our creation woke up and scattered noisily, trying to set foot on each vantage point.  The three of us, we split and took the reins of each kingdom and soon, we were more than busy and feeling very much at home. Behind pointed ears, fins and tails, wings and whatever made the external differences, the new born nations were adorably and annoyingly human. So, we put our humor and imagination at work, squeezed the last drop of patience we’ve got and slowly but steadily set the necessary rules inside the originating chaos.

Months later, as we finally reached harmony, we’ve met again to share the story of each up and down, along with a glass of wine and Ulysses’ poetic recollection about our collective journey. After a relaxing chat, Athena was the first to speak about her achievements. She looked satisfied and slightly amused, lights twinkling in her eyes.

-I am content, my friends, really content. These young gods and nymphs are highly creative and eager to help me in fulfilling my wildest dreams and projects. I envision even some plays or musicals like, let’s say, “The Phantom of the Opera”…

She looked straight towards Ulysses, waiting for a reaction. After all, she was speaking about his favorite musical…The young man returned the look and winked.

-I might send you some of my mermaids. I have a feeling that some of them are seeking a career as singers. Give it a try, Madam Director of Celestial Opera House.

-Don’t worry, Ulysses; just send them to me. In the meantime I’d like some helping hands from the elves to. I know that they are artful craftsmen. How do you manage, Kiera?

How was I doing? Oh, well…it depends how you look at it. My elves and my fairies had a strong Irish ancestry so they were boisterous and hotheaded…both sides. Moments of peace and harmony rapidly turned into heated arguments…just to dissolve, moments later in hugs and laughter. So…they were a handful…and I loved them.

-I’m fine, Athena. It’s a “give and get”, day by day and the more they learn from me, the more I learn from them. So, yes, I’ll send you some of them to help you with this art-project.

-Now, ladies. Since you set things in order, let’s have some fun tonight. Alpha is almost at its peak and my Sea Horses are restless by now. It would be my greatest pleasure to take you both on a wave riding. What’d’you say?

I looked at Athena; she grinned and gave me a playful kick.

-Come, girl, don’t be shy. What can go wrong? If we fall off the horse, we take a splash; that’s all!

We laughed and joined Ulysses. The night wasn’t over yet.

 

 

Alpha took its vantage position above us all and unfurled its wings of light, dimming the stars. The Ocean became restless under the touch of the moon and her waves rolled towards the shore in thicker rows of frothing waves. Mermaids and mermen, closely followed by dolphin-like creatures enjoyed the growing swell. There was a feeling of expectation in the air, easily capturing us as well. We walked down to the soft, dimly glowing sand and stood behind Ulysses, watching him summoning the Horses of the Sea.

Eyes closed in concentration, he held out both hands and gracefully signaled the waters to rise. The foamy tip of the approaching waves bubbled up and took shape; three horses of iridescent lace emerged and galloped to the shore. Airy and harmonious creatures, bathed in silver light, they were holding all the energetic and passionate temperament of their Earth-born siblings. In the increasing salty, night-breeze their long mane looked like a flaming halo. The horses gathered around Ulysses, gently poking him for a caress. He laughed softly, touching and petting them, one by one…then turned towards us.

-Ladies, come. Come closer…These are my magic companions in my midnight roaming: Athor, Aras and Aelin. Athor is my friend and I hope his brothers would become your close companions in the future.

Athena and I, we were mesmerized. There was a flow of energy radiating from those marvelous creatures, soothing, calming and connecting to us almost instantly. Somehow, they were taming us just by their natural beauty and harmony. Ulysses helped us on their back and then, he took his faithful Athor. Although at first we couldn’t discern any difference between the three horses, I saw that Athor was more robust and confident. He had a star-shaped spot on its forehead. Aras was the next in line, a steady stallion, fitting Athena’s firm and determined personality. The younger ones, me and Aelin, we were an instant bond. My new friend was more delicate and nervous on the outside, but teaming with passionate inner energies…just like me. Though I never rode a horse, I trusted him. I embraced his gracefully arching neck and, before anybody notice, I quickly kissed him.

-Don’t let me make a fool of myself-I whispered in his ear, hoping that the horse will understand me.

But there was no time for worries. Lead by Ulysses, we turned to the ocean and our wave-ride begun in splash! The other magic inhabitants of the depths excitedly followed us, diving and jumping, spreading sparkling droplets of water in the air. Galloping into the glowing horizon, the horses were barely touching the tip of the foaming rovers. Athena was laughing, Ulysses was smiling and I just closed my eyes, breathing in the light. Magic was flowing through us, finely tuning our cores to the heart-beat of the enchanted planet…

 

 

Days added up in weeks and weeks became months as we kept being busy with our kingdoms and young nations. The Celestial Theater and Opera House dreamed by Athena was taking shape with the help of enthusiasts of all sides. Summer was gradually fading into an early autumn, shades of yellow diluting the strong green of meadows and forests. My own boisterous kingdom was settling to; last time I have called a meeting on their ground, I’ve told them to work out a respectful way of life…without involving me. They were shocked. We gathered in a larger clearing and sat under the arching canopy of a row of architectural oak trees. Each group of my fantastic “children” had sent its boldest and most representative individuals. As I looked around to connect with them, my heart warmed up and a small lump was rising in my throat. I took a deep breath and swallowed. This was not the moment to fall apart and cry. I have foreseen this moment and I knew that it was unavoidable. But they still needed a bit to realize the same. For now, all they could do was to protest loudly.

-But Little Goddess, we can’t do that without your lead, your wisdom! You have created us! We want you to be our Queen!

-Please, please listen to me!

I had to raise my voice to make myself heard over the noise of shouts.

-I have watched over you ever since the night this planet gave birth to you. We worked side by side in order to make this kingdom a home for all. I am thankful for the efforts involved in reaching this complicated but hopeful goal. I am pleased with the results but now, time has come for me to step aside and let you work out your own future. I put my trust in you all, so there’s no need to be afraid.

There…I was able to say it without staggering. I closed my eyes, waiting to the message to sink in their mind. There was an awkward moment of silence but then, the miracle happened. My wise and diligent dwarfs, my graceful fairies and my playful elves…they all surrounded me and we hugged each other…and I left lightheartedly. They stood there and talked for hours. Their childhood came to an end and a new chapter was opening. Dwarfs, Elves and Fairies were now fully able to rule their land.

So I moved closer to Ulysses, in a quiet spot near the border of our kingdoms. Ever since that magic night of wave-riding, we’ve been too busy to meet. All I knew about him was that lately he became very interested in the Crystal Caves and that he was after something; but I had no idea what that could be.

The shrinking day-light, the chilling bite of some of the early mornings, the sudden-blue of the autumn skies, the melancholy in the song of the slim, swirling winds, all these piling signs of the new season were altering my personal harmony, rewiring me. My mood shifted towards a more dreaming state of mind, while sensitivity soared, sharpening my perception, adding new lights and shadows to the reality surrounding me. The planet was happily bouncing on its ellipse, fulfilled by its acquired sense of beauty. Universal peace seemed to become all encompassing…

It was a night of full Alpha when I finally took the decision to visit Ulysses. Somehow I couldn’t find the necessary courage to do that. I couldn’t explain why I was constantly finding something else to do…after I moved near him. Exasperated by my conflicting state of mind, I travelled mostly to Athena, helping her with arts and crafts. I tried to hide my turmoil behind my usual cheerfulness but my wise friend was seeing through me easily. She accepted my help, patiently listening to my ramblings until she decided it was enough.

-Girl-she said, looking at me with that “no-nonsense” expression on her face. Thank you for your help but go! Go and see what is he doing. It’s what you want. Now, don’t try to deny it. It’s written all over your face, silly girl.

She laughed and I laughed and then I left. When the wings of darkness spread above the land, I called my dragon and flew towards the cabin next to the caves. There was a warm, shimmering light in the windows so I hoped that Ulysses would be home.

 

 

The young man was sitting before the fireplace in deep thoughts. Lately, he has spent most of his days inside the magic world of the Crystal Caves. It was both a magic and scaring place to be.  The anomaly detected at the entrance was growing stronger as he travelled deeper and deeper inside the caves. The chain of high chambers decorated by slim pillars, daring arches and intricate laces of colorful crystals was opening into a final cave of epic proportion. An underground river was cascading from the ceiling-line hidden behind the mist generated by the spraying waters. The rushing body of bubbling liquid splashed in a seemingly bottomless pool, only to resurface and head on through the string of caves ahead.

A narrow and dangerously slippery path was leading to the unexpected curtain of water. But the closer you got to the relentlessly falling mass, the more aware you were becoming of its overpowering push on everything around. It was like a giant palm closing over you, shutting out the air you were trying to breathe in, compressing you lungs while your heart was running wild of anxiety. At the same time, the place was exerting an almost hypnotic attraction and Ulysses found hard to resist it every day. The place was deeply intriguing and it encompassed a menace he wasn’t able to point out yet. The young man decided to keep silent about his discovery. He didn’t want to worry his lady-companions unless it was necessary. For now, all he could do was to study the phenomenon and tune himself into the awkward energy-flows filling the caverns.

A log cracked in the fireplace, bringing him back to the immediate reality. Somebody was coming; his high-strung perception kept him alert most of the time. Luckily, this time it was a pleasant interruption. He stood up briskly and leapt to the door, opening it before Kiera could knock. Taken by surprise, she blushed; Ulysses smiled inwardly.

-Come, my lady. I’m glad you remembered this place….

 

If for the split of a moment I wish I could die and disappear, the moment Ulysses greeted me, I was already hoping this night would never end. Somehow, we both needed this encounter, we both needed to talk and talk and talk….I told him about my decision to leave the Land of Sunset in the hands of the people inhabiting it and he told me about the research he was conducting in the Crystal Caves. There was a hidden tension in his voice and in his composure while he went through the story of that special place of his kingdom. From what he shared with me, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong so I’ve decided to ask him directly. As much I knew him, Ulysses always protected Athena and me from the dangers ahead.

-Ulysses…

He turned to me.

-Tell me what’s wrong-I said. You know that I can sense your inner tension…

He chuckled.

-Damn, Kiera, a man cannot have a secret with you around…Ok, you’re right. Something is bothering me about this cave. There is a strong anomaly inside, one that indicates a presence from an outer space. I don’t know how that …something reached this particular planet but I have a feeling that it has to do with our landing here.

I took a deep breath and let the piece of information sink in. It was both disturbing and challenging news. Humanity had faced numerous encounters with intelligent creatures throughout its history. Not all of these ended up peacefully but on a long term, our Space-Age proved to be a success. Our colonies had spread around like dandelion-seeds carried by the Currents of Space. The immediate question was: what are the intentions of the one reaching out to us?

I must’ve looked lost and distressed ‘cause I’ve heard Ulysses saying:

-Hey…Kiera…Let’s ride some waves. We’ve worried enough for today.

He smiled encouragingly and we left the cabin. I summoned the dragon and he flew us to the shore. The night was still warm enough and Alpha was in full blaze. Athor and Aelin surfaced at once and the ride begun! We chased the moon-light dancing on the tips of the waves, outran the playful night-breeze and splashed each-other, laughing until Alpha set in the drizzle of the horizon and the sun tinted the fields of the ocean with lavender and pink. Touched by the early rays of the sun, the horses delved into the green depths, leaving us to rest on the sands, side by side, in meaningful silence. Our hands touched…and then entwined…and no words were needed to express the hope that, whatever the future was holding, it would not separate us.

 

 

The following week made it impossible for us to meet again. As Athena’s project was getting close to be finalized, she needed some extra help so I moved with her in the High Castle and made myself useful. During the preparations, Athena had put out some calls to some of her old friends who were living in the colonies. She invited them to the Grand Opening and they happily agreed, spreading the word around their own friends. So, it looked like this would be an opening for our planet itself. Between moments of frantic work, Athena asked about Ulysses and his doings. I’ve carefully censored the amount of information; after all, there was no foreseeable danger, so there was no need to worry her.

I could see her sighing with relief and sense her guilt for not being in touch with him. Athena was a great friend and support and though her dream was keeping her in constant excitement, her mind and her heart were at their proper place. Her enthusiasm was contagious and it kept me in line but the nights were becoming more and more difficult for me. Despite being deadly tired, I couldn’t sleep for hours. When the world quieted down and the rasp of the waves was a faint sound of the background, an eerie sensation enveloped me, stirring my inner waters, pushing me into the realms of elusive nightmares. I was worried; I’ve tried to talk with Ulysses several times but I seldom succeeded. Even when we talked, he sounded preoccupied and tired, though he kept reassuring me that all was fine there. He knew I won’t buy it, but he also knew I couldn’t leave Athena without raising unnecessary questions. I kept nagging him until he promised that he would come and supervise our finished work at the end of the week.

But he didn’t show up. That morning, the Sun rose crisp and red from the turquoise waters, its long path of light spread across the ocean like a trail of blood. I called Ulysses at the cabin but he didn’t take my call. My heart sank and I couldn’t stay anymore.

-I have to go, Athena-I said. I’m sorry…

She was visibly worried.

-Go, go! Call me when you get there. Don’t let me simmer in my own stew…

She hugged me and helped me on the dragon’s back. She stood there, watching me until we lost sight of each other.

 

 

 

The silence around of the cabin was crushing; even the usual wind blowing through the nearby forest was missing as I arrived. The entrance door was unlocked and the fireplace still had some half-dormant charred logs. I searched around a bit, just to get an idea where Ulysses has gone. That he was missing, that was all very clear for me. But the most disturbing fact was that I couldn’t …sense him. I stood there for long moments, reached down to the planet and searched for any sign of his presence. Nothing. To the best of my knowledge, Ulysses was not on this planet anymore.

“Think. Think. Breathe, don’t panic. Look around and see what is missing. Now move!”

I pushed myself into action; all it was missing was his backpack and some of his instruments. I found a map of the caves, a torch-lamp and I improvised a back pack for me to. With a bottle of fresh water and an apple picked from the table I hurried towards the Crystal Caves. Ulysses couldn’t be anywhere else. On my way I called Athena to let her know what was going on .She was quick to answer.

-Hi, Athena. He’s not here and I couldn’t find him yet. I’m on my way to the caves. He was doing some research there lately. I hope he’s fine…

Athena’s voice was calm; too calm to be true.

-Don’t do anything stupid, girl. Take care, ok?

-Uh, ok. Listen, Athena; if neither of us would show up, I left you some notes on the table in his cabin. The door is open. I’ll be careful but that’s the only thing I can promise you…

She sighed.

-I know. Watch your steps and bring back our dreaming knight. This place tastes foul without him. Keep going! I’m going back to my chores; the show must go!

The connection broke; becoming emotional was not an option. In less than an hour I reached the entrance and, to my biggest surprise there was light inside and I could follow the pathway with less difficulty. Weren’t I desperate to find out about Ulysses, I would’ve enjoyed the splendor of the place.  Guided by the rich fantasy of our poetic leader, the Planet had surpassed all imagination. This could’ve become a Paradise for crystal lovers and researchers. But for now, it was only the place of unseen dangers, so I sharpened my senses and followed the trail.

The closer I got to the waterfall described by Ulysses, the stronger the pull of that place became. Facing the glowing wall of waters was overwhelming. The amount of energy radiating from it was huge. Like the hungry arms of a giant squid, the invisible waves were surrounding me, pressing from all sides in an attempt to overcome my inner control.

It was a scaring sensation but the more they pressed, the more I resisted. Despite my mild temperament, I deeply disliked to be pushed around. And the fact that…something was keeping my mind occupied, preventing me from searching for any sign of Ulysses was infuriating. To get back my control over my mind, I started to hum a mantra….and it worked! The pressure on my skull eased and the tentacles of energy retracted behind the curtain of water. My vision cleared and I caught a glimpse of a piece of paper on the proximity of the waterfall. I hurried there and picked it up; I recognized Ulysses’ handwriting. A fragment of poetry…the words were dancing before my eyes…Space, Void, Pain, Light…I closed my fist upon it and tried to connect with Ulysses. No response…nothing. The water kept falling, radiating light, pulsing in the space around me. The pathway was disappearing inside it. He must have gone further…so I stepped forward.

As the scintillating droplets washed over me, their luminous content seeping inside every bit of my spirit-side, the light exploded inside me with the power of a supernova. My boundaries stretched instantly, reaching out to the Universe. My core was signaling and listening, frantically searching for the faintest echo that would help me find him. I delved to the limits of the reality, down into the threads of almost nothingness that create the fabric of Space and Time. I listened with every bit of my wide spread energies and then, something moved. It was a response at the limit of deadly silence but its delicate waves reached my inner shores. I have found him….not in the hollows of interstellar space, not in the deep ravines of star-cradles…No; he was much closer…so close that I almost screamed! Shadowed by my constant denial, he was where he has always been: in my heart. All I had to do was to search for him inside me, in the fire that was giving my inner light. He was there, memorized to the tiniest detail, cherished to the faintest smile…In a split of a moment I retracted inside my own Universe, pushing the gates open, rushing down the steps and the coiling pathways of my inner lands. The imprints of his touch upon my soul were faintly glowing, forever carved in the soft walls; the warmth of his voice and the softness of his laughter echoed in the feverish thud of my heart. I sped around, collecting the bits and pieces of every personal memory of him and carried them into the blazing light. The fabric of Space and Time trembled as the portal opened inside it. It was a deep, black vortex, a mesmerizing, convoluted tempest of dark matter. I closed my eyes, I held tight the image of light born in my heart and jumped into the unknown. There was nothing of worth in this world left behind if Ulysses wasn’t part of it.

 

Despite the strange familiarity of the place, I couldn’t point out where I was. I’ve just stumbled out of a waterfall roughly the size of that of the Crystal Caves and I was on open ground. I made a quick mental check and searched for the presence of the one I came for. Oh, I was in the right place; his presence was clear and he seemed to be somewhere around. Looking around, I tried to assess the features of the surroundings. It was an alien planet, a peculiar one.

It felt home, yet the design of the whole place was somehow…sketchy, like a blueprint, not a three dimensional reality. The rocky wall behind me, the almost barren plateau ahead, the scarce grass blades, the faint-blue sky…all of them reminded me of the drawing made by a child. There were some spiky bushes and a patch of skeletal trees on my right so I decided to take a few steps on their direction. If Ulysses was somewhere around, he should’ve been there.

 

 

There was a faint sizzle and the space around him wavered for a moment; somebody else was coming. Ulysses stood up and turned to the source of the sound. He was tense…then relaxed and chuckled. At least something good happened in this messy situation. He waited until the familiar silhouette emerged behind the tangled vegetation.

-Clever girl-he said loudly. I’m glad you found me…

For a short moment, she was unable to speak. Relief, aftershock and desperate attempt to regain composure, he could read all of them on her face. Finally, she smiled and replied:

-You have no idea how glad I am. I hate to think where I could’ve ended falling through this wormhole…

They both laughed and Ulysses could feel her tension subside as he held her close.

-What is this place?-she asked, as they walked towards the shaded place where he had set his tent. It feels familiar but I’m sure that I’ve never been here before…

-This, my lady it’s the twin-sister of our planet, Pygmalion. They keep connected through the wormhole; the two waterfalls are just clever disguises.

Kiera was puzzled.

-What do you mean by “twin-sister”?

-Come-said Ulysses, taking her by the hand. Let me show you something.

They walked to the cluster of trees and stopped near one of them. It was a medium high tree, with dull-grey, rugged bark and dust-colored leaves. Inconspicuous small, round fruits hung from the branches and on the whole, the poor tree looked disappointing. Ulysses placed the palm of his left hand on the tree-trunk, while with his right hand he made a few magic signs. In a few moments, the color of the bark under his palm started to change into warm brown, spreading quickly, up and down to the last stick. After that, the magic touched the leaves, turning them into vivid-green while the color of the fruits changed into pink with yellow spikes. Ulysses picked some and offered them to his companion. Kiera looked at him questioningly.

-They are edible-chuckled the young man. It’s my alternative for litchi. You should try them. Our food supplies are scarce.

The fruit was soft on the inside, with a sour-sweet aroma…like an ice-cream. It was both nourishing and refreshing. They picked some more for later and returned to the tent.

-Now you see?-asked Ulysses.

-Yes, I see…This planet has the same living core as Pygmalion. She’s able to cooperate in creating with us. But I see some features that are implying a connection with people like us. Yet, all seems so sketchy, so clumsily done….It looks like a bad copy of Pygmalion.

-Exactly! You’ve nailed it.

Ulysses smiled.

-I’m proud of you, Little Goddess. As much as I could detect and learn about Amalthea (I gave this planet a name), she has closely followed the changes we made on Pygmalion and she tried to make the replicas. What you see is what she succeeded, which is satisfactory for now.

Kiera was impressed. To find a planet like Pygmalion was magic; but to find two of a kind was close to a miracle. Yet there was the question of those strange energy flows inside the waterfall of the Crystal Caves. There were so many layers in that message coming from this new planet. Kiera decided to ask more.

-So-she asked, gently touching the young man. While we engaged our creative energies to mould Pygmalion’s appearance, Amalthea was watching and learning. Then, why is her calling so full of pain?

A shadow crossed Ulysses’ face.

-I don’t really know-he said in a low voice. I was hoping to find out here.

-Kiera-he said, looking straight in her eyes. I’m glad that you’re here with me; I only dread the fact that we might face some unexpected dangers here. I’ll share with you my readings of the anomaly detected and maybe we could decrypt them more easily together.

The two youth worked themselves through the large amount of data previously collected. After long hours of comparison, one pattern was clearly emerging: a deep fear echoed inside all the messages. It was a disturbing discovery; fear was a familiar emotion to both of them. But what could possibly frighten a planet?

A stern night, with strange stars scattered all over the black canopy, the eerie silence of an almost barren planet and a nagging question about a faceless fear were the coordinates of the moment when Ulysses and Kiera slept in the tent, holding each other. The planet itself was resting, comforted by the presence of those who were seemingly able to read her mind.

 

Somewhere far, inside the dark belly of the Universe a menacing shadow was taking flight from the scorched surface of a former vivid planet. A bird of prey with eyes of blood and fire and sharp teeth of hungry predator, a bird made by a ruthless, intelligent species in full expansion in this section of the ocean of stars. They were sending armies of indestructible robots ahead, to detect and to sow the seeds of life into the proper planets. These were extremely rare and thus, of high importance to the species. In order to grow their numbers, they needed the vital energy of such a planet. Despite their advanced technology, Nature refused to comply after countless generations had altered the basics of this species. Their all possessed an inborn energetic temperament and an urge to reach their goals on the shortest term possible. They were efficient and disciplined, meticulous and merciless. The planets they used were considered just tools and nothing more. Now, they have just set in motion, heading towards a planet that could read their intentions and who was living in constant fear…

 

 

Ulysses and Kiera woke up almost simultaneously, gasping for air and shivering. The waters of dream had carried them both towards murky depths inhabited by monsters. Horrible creatures had been chasing them, ready to suck their blood and vital energies. The named of those dreadful creatures was still ringing in their ears: The Harvesters.

-Oh, my goodness…What was this?!

Ulysses’ jaws tightened.

-This is what scares a Planet to death…

 

 

So now, fear had a name. The thought of draining a soul until it dies was sickening. We were members of a species that has proven so many times foolish, sometimes we followed horrible leaders and tainted our history with shameful moments; yet on the whole, Humanity was represented mostly by decent individuals and, by the time we have reached the stars, our evolution towards becoming respectful and respected citizens of the Universe was undeniable. Empathy is a trait shared by all the civilizations we are currently collaborating and our colonies are active members of a widespread net of thriving communities. These Harvesters put a threat on the lives of millions.

Ulysses was troubled by the discovery we made. He was feeling responsible for both the planet and our world left behind. His mind was feverishly working in search of a solution. I was tip-toeing around him, making myself useful discreetly. Making some additional adjustment to the neighboring trees diversified our meal and supplied the necessary amount of energy. I’ve turned my attention towards the connection with the planet. This way, I’ve learned that the worm-hole of the waterfalls was the result of a happy accident, allowing two very similar entities to connect and preserve communication. Unseen at first, the corridor became accessible the moment our presence proved to be benevolent and creative. Amalthea was dreaming of beauty and I was able to sense her short moments of joy with each colorful addition we made on her surface. But she was defenseless in face of the approaching danger and I wasn’t able to suggest her anything reassuring.

The nervous pacing of Ulysses up and down the place, the twitch of the muscles of his face, the bluish shadow underlining his eyes and the shadows troubling their green waters were distressing. I wished I could lift the pain that was engulfing us all and send those Harvesters back into the dark pit of the Space from where they emerged. Alas! It wasn’t that easy. But after several days of torment and sleepless nights, Ulysses came up with a solution.

-Little Goddess- he said, with an apologetic smile. I’m afraid that the next task will sit heavily on your shoulders.

-It’s fine with me-I said. Just tell me what I should do.

-Hmmm, let’s take a walk and I’ll explain you.

We left the tent and walked slowly to the rim of the plateau. The sun was setting on the distance and, in the dim light the contours were dissolving in the reddish afterglow. We stopped and Ulysses took my hands.

-We are dreamers and creators, Kiera. Our only hope resides in the power of creation we carry inside us. Do you remember the Seeds of Life?

-Yes…

-We have to help Amalthea to build up a protective wall around this Space; but for that, we have to start changing her the way we did with Pygmalion.

It was an ambitious plan but we were running out of time. I’ve expressed my worries to Ulysses.

-Do you think we can achieve that in such a short time? It’s only the two of us….

-Don’t worry; this time, we need only one seed. Luckily, we still have one left unused.

-We do? Where is it?

He cupped my face with both hands and gazed into my eyes.

-It’s…inside you.

 

 

The big night found us standing on the plateau, in the center of a magic circle drew by Ulysses. A constellation of five blazing stars was hanging above us, like a celestial chandelier. We set our connections to the planet and to the Universe. Hands in hands and eyes to eyes, we delved inside the subtle currents of light, gathering as much as we could in order to spark the life on Amalthea. Our connection set in rapidly and the flow of light went smoothly from one another. Hearts melted into one, beating at the rhythm of Universe, my mind following closely the intricate pattern of Ulysses’ thoughts. With no physical boundaries between us, we opened an Ocean of Light, with waves running freely between the shores we became. Ulysses reached out to me and the Seed of Life resonated to his touch. Hidden behind a corner of me heart, now our heart, it moved, rolling slowly into the acquiring ocean. As it reached the center, the waters of energy surrounded it, creating a huge vortex pointing into the opened core of the planet. With a deep breath, we released the epic flow inside Amalthea and she embraced the gift with all her might.

While we were regaining our individuality, Life was erupting under our feet. The surface of the planet exploded in a harmony of shapes and colors, the changing running from pole to pole at the speed of light. As beauty encompassed her, the planet found her hidden source of courage: she finally had something precious to protect and fight for. Four powerful dragons were reigning over the land, as guardians of the four principles: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. The worm-hole connecting the two planets strengthened and by now, we could travel back and fro safely.

We stood on the rim of the plateau, exhausted but fulfilled. The sun was rising above a world teaming with life. The sense of elation was in the air; the planet was content and grateful.

-Let’s go home, Little Goddess-said Ulysses. There’s still plenty of work to be done.

-Yeah, you’re right. If we survive to Athena’s anger. After all, we left her with a whole planet to lead, along with the opening of the Opera…

-She’ll chew off our heads, I’m sure…but after that, hopefully she’ll forgive us.

We laughed, gathered our belongings and headed towards the waterfall. Its rainbow flow was scintillating in the morning.

 

 

Athena was sitting on the porch of the cabin with a coffee mug in her hands. She jumped to her feet as she saw us, shaking her head and visibly fighting her emotions.

-Bastards!-she grumbled while we were squeezing in a collective hug.

We ended up laughing and crying, while Ulysses was holding the two of us murmuring:

-Come on, ladies. It wasn’t the end of the world…After all, we are still here, alive and kicking…

Finally, Athena regained her composure and declared:

-I’m not sure you’ll escape in one piece if you don’t tell me what happened! Come, there’s coffee for you and something to eat. After that, no more excuses! I die to hear what crazy things you have done…

Sharing the unfolding of the events on both sides of the wormhole revealed some happy developments. We gave life to a new planet, while Athena opened the gates of Pygmalion to our amazed human fellows. We became famous around many of the colonies after the grandiose opening of the Celestial Theater and Opera. Ulysses and me, we joyfully congratulated Athena; after all, this was her “dream come true” and she had put her whole heart in it.

But the pending danger didn’t leave us too much time for wonder. We were totally unprepared for a vicious attack from an unfriendly civilization. This new situation put everything in a different perspective.

-We could ask for support from the colonies-said Athena. Now that they discovered us, they might want to take us under their protection.

Ulysses shook his head incredulously.

-My graceful lady, I seriously doubt that. I still remember how bureaucracy works in our society. I’m glad they liked our creation but they were here as guests. The moment we become a source of problems, they might consider us…out of reach.

Athena sighed.

-Yes, I’m afraid you’re right. Even if I could find a few good people, there’s no hope for a protective star-fleet.

-And we know almost nothing of the menace-I added.  Imagine yourself explaining to our fellow humans that we had a chat with a planet…They need time to accept what they have seen here.

Ulysses seemed to reach a conclusion. I saw a twinkling in his eyes…

-We are no military; we are artists and we create life, not destroy it. Our only chance is to put to work our assets and outsmart the Harvesters. Athena! Would you organize our people into a local resistance?

Athena smirked.

-Give them to me and I’ll show those monsters who we are!

We laughed and the tension subsided.

-Kiera, you should use your connection with the planets to gather some information about these guys. I think I will go back to the Crystal Caverns to work out some large-scale magic.

We shared a glass of wine and then split. Ulysses led us to the door; I turned to him and he winked.

-Don’t worry, Little Goddess, we will succeed.

I rose on my toes, gave him a quick kiss and fled to my dragon.

 

 

 

-Here they come-said Ulysses, pointing to the triangle of shimmering dots on the screen. They are confident, aren’t they? Hmmm…let’s shake them a little.

Space wavered outside and the planet disappeared from the screen of the Mothership…or at least, that was what the Commander and his officers saw. A small havoc erupted on the bridge of the Harvesters, while the other crew members watched in bewilderment the strange behavior of their superiors.

From the data gathered about this species, their social structure largely resembled to those of ants or other social insects and the respect for hierarchy was the basic trait connecting all members. So trust in the rulers was essential and there was a certain amount of competition between leaders. For the first time in their roaming through the stars, a celestial body vanished before their eyes.

-It’s not there! The instruments are reading it but…there’s nothing there. Where is it?!

The Commander felt a sharp pain in his skull and for a moment, green sparks were dancing before his golden eyes. His officers were going through similar pain…their faces contorted and some of them were vigorously shaking their head. The pain subsided and the planet reappeared before their eyes. In the next few hours, the vanishing planet added other disturbing elements to its behavior; it danced or doubled or even tripled before the puzzled leaders, while for the majority of the crew, the image on the crew has not changed a bit. The robots that were monitoring the exterior of the huge ship could not detect anything. After all, they were only machines set for limited tasks; interpretation, adjustment and decision belonged to their creators.

-I can detect a seed of mistrust in the collective mind-said Athena with a smirk. She turned and winked to a tall, handsome man sitting at some distance from her. –Raif, you’re a gem.

Raif Sig joined us shortly after Athena put out a call for help to some of her friends from the colonies. An engineer in communications, he was an old-time friend of her and a secret admirer. He was more than happy to join this battle; he had a healthy sense of humor and some Viking ancestry. The gadgets he brought, allowed us to use magic far beyond the vicinity of the two planets. It also enhanced our ability to read the reactions aboard the Mothership of the Harvesters. We had an ace in this game; we knew about them while they were oblivious that we existed. We were conducting the whole operation through the wormhole and the Children of Pygmalion were all connected in a planet-wide net of magic and illusion. Ulysses has turned the pillars of crystal inside the caves into powerful lasers, while Athena “wrote” the scenario of deception for the invaders.

Aboard the Harvesters’ ship, the tension was slowly rising. Finding the planet they sought was an emergency; deep in the belly of the huge machinery, hundreds of tiny translucent capsules were waiting to be connected to the vital energies that would allow them to develop and hatch. The new generation needed a cradle and the species needed its youth. We have decided to let them descend on planet; simply leading them away would have meant to transfer the danger to unsuspecting others. That was not an option; we all agreed on this, Pygmalion and Amalthea included.

So, after some tribulation over the fact that what they were reading on their instruments was a real planet or not, the Harvesters embarked on their smaller ships, loaded the precious capsules aboard and left the Mothership in the hands of the commanding team. The planet bellow was covered by a thick layer of clouds and the instruments were reading with difficulty the features of the land. The Dragon of Air had gathered clouds, mist and dust to build that protective blanket all around. As the cluster of ships closed to the surface of the ocean of vapors, small, round windows opened inside it, showing scattered   pieces of the surface, proper for landing. Running out of options, the Harvesters scattered…and landed. There were areas previously chosen, with a minimum of vegetation. The ships opened and we could see the invaders for the first time.

Strange creatures, born out of the marriage between living things and machines, they still held some sort of gracefulness in their long, thin limbs and the oval of their face. For the untrained eyes, all of them looked almost the same. They were dressed in overalls, the color of their equipment and the sequences of the actions separating leaders from crew members. For their delicate appearance, they were able to carry some pretty heavy crates; but we already knew that they were increasing their natural abilities by artificial replacements done throughout their lives. Their voices were light, a bit high pitched and the language was sequential and modulated by inflexions of the voice. Their closeness to human shape was deeply disturbing; I felt a knot in my stomach and I had to take a deep breath before I could speak.

-Oh my goodness…They are so much like us…

I looked around and read the same on the faces of my friends. Our enemy has just won a point without knowing it. We all stood in silence, thoughts running wild in the mind of each of us, while the Harvesters were still unloading their precious luggage…Ulysses was the first to get back his balance and control over the unfolding of the events.

-It’s time for Phase Two. Sylvain!-he said, addressing to the leader of the Elves. Please, greet our visitors.

He set the Lasers in action and suddenly, the world around the Harvesters became lively and…scary. Caught up in the unloading of the capsules, they didn’t notice the subtle shift in the mist surrounding them. Tall, strong creatures with stern faces and pointed ears were approaching them, like a moving, green wall. After the first moment of shock, the aliens started to line up, protecting their dormant offspring and opened fire towards to menacing features. But the green-dressed shapes faded away from their shots, just to regroup and face them over and over again. Strange sounds filled the air, shrieks and thundering…

-We are under attack!

Coming simultaneously from all the landing sites, the message of alert flooded the Commanding Deck of the Mothership. The leaders above were frantically searching for the source of the alleged attacks but their instruments were not reading any presence. They shouted back, trying to encourage those on the planet. But after several attempts to convince their superiors that they were in danger, the Harvesters on the ground lost their patience. Something was wrong with this place and something was also wrong with their leaders. After all, just recently they have acted  very, very strange…While they were pondering on how to handle the situation, the Dragon of Water joined the game and helped by his airy brother, unleashed some powerful rains over the disoriented gathering. The whirlwinds raised choking walls of water mixed with dust and washed over the aliens. The soil became slippery in an instant and Amalthea decided to spice the events by shaking her surface. Though she kept her powers strictly harnessed, what the invaders were witnessing it was a raging planet opening under their feet. They pushed aside their leaders and rushed towards the ships, leaving everything behind. The smoky skies filled with hurrying shuttles; behind them, an enraged Dragon of Fire was spitting blazing balls of flames…

By the time they’ve reached the Mothership, the seeds of revolt had been planted. The loss of an entire generation was a heavy blow for the species. Though what they were facing could hardly be called “pain” in its human acceptance, the Harvesters were no fools. Fighting an invisible enemy proved to be a futile attempt and they acknowledged it by now. In the light of the events, the changing of the leadership was foreseeable and it happened quickly. But what the harvesters didn’t realize was that by the time they’ve returned to their ship, they had already changed. The newly elected leaders of the ship were determined to make some deeper changes in the future, as much as they still had.

We watched them leaving the proximity of the planet, setting course back to the world where they were once born. The skies cleared above Amalthea and we all breathed freely…

-Well done, everyone!-said Ulysses, happily stretching his limbs.

Relaxed and content, he turned to us.

-I’ve told you to give them to me!-chuckled Athena.

She gave him a friendly push, winked at me and turned to Raif, embracing him affectionately. Elves, fairies, dwarfs, nymphs, semi-gods and the whole nation of Ocean People were celebrating!

I felt immensely relieved and yet, I couldn’t help not to be a bit saddened by the fate of the Harvesters. After all, they were intelligent creatures just like us and they have lost a battle, without truly understanding what caused their defeat. A soft tingling in my mind brought me back to reality; Amalthea was calling. I turned my attention to her and…oh, heavens!

-Ulysses…

I saw him talking on-line with Sirtis, the beautiful and determined Queen of the Mermaids and Mermen. They had been most helpful by covering, along with the dolphins the vast expanse of the Planetary Ocean, and thus sustaining the grid of spiritual energies necessary to set in motion the whole defense. I didn’t want to intrude in their conversation so I briefly greeted her and stood aside, watching on a surveillance camera the surface of Amalthea. Peace returned to the land and the light was pouring undisturbed over the colorful mosaic of life. In the landing spots, the abandoned crates were heating up in the sun; there was no one around to protect them…I couldn’t watch this! I almost jumped from my seat when Ulysses bent over me and asked in a soft voice:

-Hey…what’s wrong, Little Goddess?

-Oh, Ulysses! What are we going to do with the children?!

I desperately pointed to the image on the screen. He quickly understood my torment and his face shadowed.

-You’re perfectly right, Kiera. We forgot about them. Come!

He turned on the communication and asked for attention.

-People! We have won a battle today and we can be proud of it. But our victory left us with a responsibility. It’s hard to teach new tricks to an old dog; so we couldn’t expect to convince the Harvesters to change. But these babies have a chance for a new beginning. Amalthea, would you accept them on your land?

The response flashed on the screen: YES! Deep inside my mind, I could swear that I’ve heard the planet giggling with excitement. Before we set anything in motion, the Air Dragon pushed the sheen of clouds above every pile of abandoned crates, the cooling shadow rebalancing their temperature. Some of the elves and fairies moved to these spots to keep an eye on the hatching. With the help of both planets and our special knowledge, we worked out a new way of feeding and growing the little creatures, without draining their acquiring Mother, Amalthea. The Space was teaming with energies accessible to us; Ulysses turned the Crystal Pillars into enhancers of these energies and created a nourishing dome above each hatching spot. The birth of a redeemed species was unfolding step by step, under the love and protection of the Children of Pygmalion.

 

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