I arrive at the scene late, the brothers are already arguing suspended in mid-air, ghostly figurines which barely resemble the outlines of a man. I cannot get too close, for the older of the two can sense my presence; remarkable really. There is not a single world I have visited where creatures such as these live, although naturally every creation has it's flaws, I've yet to witness any from the elder whom I have come to know as Aries, his patience and lack of human emotion is what separates him from humanity and his brother, Vega. However, they are on this planet for a reason, and my curiosity has driven me to find out what that may be.
“We are one with this world, for thousands of years we have survived on this planet.”
“I wouldn't exactly call it surviving, brother, we are after all, infinite.”
“Everything has an end brother, everything!”
“That does not give you the right to damage their minds. They are a simple race, their evolution does not facilitate the complexities you make them endure.”
“They can handle it, besides, am I not entitled to have fun?!”
“At the expense of a race we are trying to protect?”
“Hmph! Protection is the last thing they need.”
“Calm yourself, brother, there is no use in anger. I swear you are becoming more human with every passing century.”
“I have had quite enough of you for one night, brother!”
“Then begone, have your fun, but do not forget your duties.”
Vega's anger shows and speeds off to the East, he is gone but I can still feel his presence moving swiftly through the city, luckily though I can materialise anywhere I please in an atmosphere such as this, he would not be hard to find. Aries does not seem pleased, I hear him whisper words under his breath.
“Your lack of empathy, will be the death of you, brother.”
He waits silently until his sibling is out of reach and then starts to free fall as if gravity were simply switched on, I watch closely looking for the direction he will take. He leaves it to the last second before swooping off to the north, although he can pass through any object he glides through the streets taking what appears to be the shortest human route to somewhere he knows well. I stay elevated above the city and follow his progress from on high, tracking is so simple from here. He stops dead in front of an old building with large pillars which span several floors. The city library.
Aries glides through the face of the building and is headed somewhere specific, I quickly follow suit keeping my distance as best I can. Now we are in a grand room with high ceilings, there are stairs leading to a mezzanine which creates a second floor, every wall is covered in bookshelves and there are no spaces for more. The books look old and some even show signs of deterioration, there are glass cases in the centre which house the worst and likely the oldest books here. There are tables everywhere each with an individual lamp and chair. There is only one person in the room, a young woman, perhaps a student of some kind. The room is well lit for the early hour but she is tucked away in the far corner under the mezzanine. Aries is here standing behind her with a ghostly hand placed upon her shoulder. She is looking very tired, her head is slowly starting to dip and before long she is resting her head upon a pile of books.
He shifts his hand gently to the base of her skull and rests his twisted fingers upon her, though his face is barely recognisable from this distance I can tell that his eyes are closed and he is concentrating very hard. What he is trying to accomplish is beyond me at this point so I wait, and for a short time they are both motionless, he does not appear to be harming the young woman at all. Suddenly he jerks to attention and unclasps his touch, he has been startled by something and he is searching the room for something he cannot see. Surely he cannot sense me from this distance, I'm farther away than before, but nonetheless he slowly backs outward through the wall of books and I can feel him speed off to the West.
I transport myself directly in front of the table, she is slowly beginning to awaken and having fallen asleep with her glasses on removes them and massages the bridge of her nose. She does not appear to know what has just happened. She turns a page almost all the way over and is overcome with deep thought placing the frame of her glasses in her mouth and staring off into space. What was the purpose of Aries' interaction with this girl? He does not appear to be harming her in any way but now she is seemingly inspired in thought, the outcome of which I did not have time to wait for.
I de-materialise myself and reform miles east where Vega's presence lurked last. He's close. I'm in front of one of the older apartment buildings, all brick and decorative trimmings. I slowly rise through the air above the noisy traffic which terrorises the streets otherwise calm aesthetics reaching the 23rd floor where the presence is most strong. From here the sounds fade, and all that remains are streaks of light passing through the veins of the city straight from it's heart.
Vega is already toying with his first subject of the night. He preys on humans when they are at their most vulnerable; the early hours of the morning when almost everyone is asleep. I'm at the window now, the curtains are drawn but I can feel his cold chill clutching me. Moving inside I can see Vega crouched on the frame at the end of a double bed with one long, extended probe like finger stretched out and pressed firmly on the victims forehead. The victim, a young man with fair skin, lay helpless and unaware of his torturer. I glide over to the bed to get a better look, it's impossible to tell if he's being held down against his will but his discomfort is clear; eyes rapidly shifting in their sockets, sweat glistening from every pore on his body and the occasional struggle for movement. Vega is having the opposite reaction, a grin stretched far across his transparent face through gritted teeth, breathing heavily, eyes widened. He is controlling this man's dreams, but how? And for what reason? Surely a creature like this would not evolve naturally on such a planet? Why do Aries' motives seem to be so different?These are of course questions I cannot answer myself without obvious speculation.
The air is surprisingly thin and becoming colder with Vega's menacing aura pulsating all around me. He cannot even feel me because he is concentrating so hard. There is something else though, I can feel it drawing closer, but can't quite explain. It certainly does not feel like either of these entities. Moments later there was a terrifying shriek from all around me piercing through every thought and paralysing me, twisting my innards until I was breathless. Fear swarmed my consciousness. It took great effort to spin my body around and when I did I caught a glimpse of Aries' smoke like essence billowing like wild fire, powered by rage, but he was different than before, he had formed ghostly wings and now wielded a spear. My eyes widened as fear gripped me more intensely with sudden disbelief. I instantly transported myself to the far corner of the room. Vega had ceased his dream invasion and the young man was awake and upright in bed, almost as terrified as me. He cannot see us, probably for the best.
“What is it Aries?! I was in the middle of something.”
“Quiet! We are not alone.” His voice was far deeper than before, full of hatred and anger. His eyes were closed, probably trying to feel for my presence.
“Absurd brother, we are the only ones here, and we see everything.”
“Cleanse your mind, brother, something is here.”
Vega was calm for a few seconds, then suddenly he erupted with rage and was holding a spear drawing back his arm, I had no to time to think and before I knew it the spear was headed for my direction. There was no reason to believe that this primitive weapon could even harm me but I felt compelled to move out of fear alone. It shot straight through the wall barely missing me, I had outstayed my welcome and it was time to leave, if Aries screeched again it would be more than enough time to find out if I could be wounded or even killed. I leave them behind and re-materialise two miles above their original location, they may be powerful but they are slow compared to me and predictable to certain degree, they would surely come back to this meeting place just as they had every night.
When they arrive they are clearly arguing but I'm out of reach for eavesdropping. I ease myself closer and closer, appearing from a different direction each time in an attempt to disguise my presence.
“Time will tell, brother, this presence will show itself eventually and the more it is around the easier it will be to locate.”
“You are always so sure of yourself Aries, one of these centuries you will be wrong."
"Then I count the centuries.”
“Your arrogance is frustrating dear brother, and you were saying I was human?”
“This thing, has been around for days, it is following us of that I am sure, for what reason is unknown to me but it is irrelevant, it is here nonetheless and something must be done about it.”
“Killing something we cannot see will be a difficult task indeed.”
“Who said anything about killing, brother, there are always peaceful solutions to the most difficult circumstances.”
“Your faith in humanity is clouding your judgement Aries, everything begins with war here.”
“And why exactly did you have your wings out earlier if you were not prepared for war?!”
“You could have been in danger, brother, forgive me for caring.”
Choosing not to be visible always has it's benefits, if I were to appear to them now which form would be the best? They may not understand my true form which may in turn only anger or provoke them into unnecessary actions, more so on Vega although Aries is the more powerful of that I am sure. Perhaps a more recognisable form would be more appreciative, the human form perhaps.
I transport myself directly in front of them about five meters away. Aries is the first to notice and swiftly stops Vega from attacking me blind. I slowly start to materialise in human form, first the basics; organs, bones, muscles, tissue. Once the skin has developed I start to apply facial features, hair, nails and finally clothes for a touch of sophistication. I look myself over in amazement twisting my arms in front of me and clenching my fingers in various ways to assure they work properly before resting them at my side.
“Greetings.” They are speechless at first but Vega responds by trying to break through the grasp of his brother. I hold up one hand palm facing him. “Stop. I have no interest in war games Vega, hear me out.”
“Why should we?!” He proclaims with an air of anger.
“I have done nothing to harm you, yet you would attempt to slay me regardless? Tell me, what sort of species acts this way?”
“Ignore him stranger, but understand we are confounded.” Vega's essence starts billowing with rage and is still being held back by a surprisingly calm Aries. “Vega! Calm yourself, now!”
“I apologise for what I am about to do.” I outstretch an arm and surround Aries with part of my being and transport both of us upward far enough for the two of us to have a civilised conversation. To Vega it will look like we instantly vanished. Aries is enraged for a moment but seems to understand my actions and becomes calm again.
“My brother bothers you?”
"And you, it would appear. I apologise again for my rash decision but I have been here, watching you both, for days now and it has come to my attention that you are more civilised than your sibling.”
“Apology accepted, stranger, but tell me; how did you do that? We must be twenty miles above the city now and it was instantaneous.”
“The beings on my planet have many powers, we are not bound by the laws of physics as known on this planet.”
“Think of it more this way; instead of moving through the universe I am moving the universe around me while remaining stationary.”
“It seems impossible, yet I have witnessed it first hand and have no choice but to accept your answer as truth. Tell me, stranger, what is your name?”
“My people have no names, we recognise each other by energy waves.”
“Energy waves?” He pauses attempting to comprehend.
“Think back to when you first encountered my presence, that was your mind assimilating data it simply did not understand, foreign and distinct waves of energy, you could not see nor hear me but you knew I was there. I appear to you now in this form for two reasons; one because I cannot communicate to you in many other ways and two because my curiosity is absolutely insatiable.”
“I assume then you have many questions, as do I.”
“If you don't mind I'd like to begin with my main question; you obviously do not belong here so tell me, what is your sole purpose on this planet?”
“The purpose of the Arion is to overlook the human race and facilitate their evolution by inspiration, we enter their dreams and guide them toward great things, there are specific people on this planet and even this city who have the power to change mankind for the greater good. It is our job to make sure the human race is ready for anything the universe throws at them. You followed me to the library I am sure, that girl has such a power although she does not believe it.”
“What will she do for mankind?”
“She helps invents a propulsion system which will one day be used in every vehicle on the planet.”
“How do you know this? Can you see the future of individuals?”
“No, we merely interact with their intellect and desires and drive them toward their goals.”
“And what of Vega? What is his purpose on this planet?”
“Vega has lost his way, he lacks empathy and is hell bent on tormenting people who do not wish to better themselves. He has grown to despise the human race and has been the harbinger of many a war on this planet. In his defence though, times of war often create inventions which would previously have been unthinkable, although not always in the best interest of mankind.”
“My final question for the time being is; where are you from?”
“Originally, we were a race much similar to humans, not in form but in nature, we resided on a planet in this system called Mars billions of years ago, but slowly over time as our technology became more and more advanced our planet started dying because of the consequences that came with it. It was much like this planet once, although I am too young to remember it, lakes and rivers, green fields and blue skies as far as the eye could see. Over time our form mutated and we became similar to what you see now, eventually we had to abandon the planet and it was thought that if the planet itself was to survive any length of time in the universe that we would have we to eliminate everything which we had created. And soon it was a scorched, obsolete desert.”
“So this is the planet you came to?”
“No, Earth was still young then and was less habitable than our own, with our new form we moved to the planet know as Saturn, of course we have different names for all these planets but it is how they are known here. The beings on this planet are the future of the solar system, we see it as our prime objective to ensure their survival.”
“How very noble. I feel though that things would go smoother without Vega's presence if you don't mind my saying so.”
“Not at all, in fact there are dozens like him, and even more like me. So tell me, stranger, why are you here and where did you come from?”
“I am from a planet... a planet, which has turned its back on me, outcast if you will. Such a peaceful, serene world. When energies collided they created the most beautiful music, a constant symphony of happiness and joy. However, I could not control my powers when I was younger, I transported a loved one into a star by accident, and they died. As punishment I was pushed so far into space that I would never be able to find my way home, I've been to thousands of planets since and witnessed many an interesting life form. It is a lonely existence.”
“My heart weeps for you, stranger, it seems you have no purpose in life.”
“Perhaps I will never find it.”
“Perhaps, you already have? Help us, stranger, help make this world a better place.”
“As long as Vega and the others are here it seems it will always be in danger.”
“Then we know, what must be done...”
Taken aback I paused for a moment.
“You mean, you wish to eliminate your brother of his burdens to help secure the future of the species?”
“Do not jump to conclusions, stranger, I am not one to take the death of my brother so lightly. It would be unwise to assume so.”
“Quite right. But what are your true intentions? Had I not arrived, what would you have done to solve this problem single handedly?”
“We, the Arion, are extremely difficult to kill and a war between just two of us could easily destroy this city. I have exhausted every thought on the matter, explored every possible scenario and came up with nothing viable.”
“Then perhaps you're looking from an incorrect angle? Just as you are outside of the humans field of vision, and I am naturally outside of yours, the answer is all around you.”
My attention was suddenly diverted by an energy force far greater than that of Vega's previous outburst chilling me to the core, even from here, and with my new eyes I gazed downward to search for it. Could it truly be Vega?
“What is it, stranger?”
“You can't feel that?”
He looked blankly at me awaiting some sort of an explanation.
“I fear Vega may have become, unstable.”
Aries' eyes widened with fear. Only he was aware of his brothers power and it seemed it was not something to be taken lightly. He plummeted to the ground in free fall intensely faster than before. It was not hard to catch up, I placed a hand on his shoulder and finished the rest of the journey for him materialising us about 50 meters behind Vega.
He spun around instantly screaming for his brother and when his dark eyes met mine he rushed toward me pulling back his arm and releasing the spear with tremendous velocity toward my corporeal head. Despite the speed of it a swift tilt would be enough to dodge, my eyes fixed in fear as it stormed past me far too close for comfort. Before I had time to relocate Vega he had already vanished from sight and caught the spear behind delivering another downward in the blink of an eye. I didn't even have time to transport myself elsewhere.
He caught me on the left shoulder slicing through flesh and and bone, revealing the greater part of my torso with an eruption of blood. I cried out gripping the open wound with my one good hand as Aries flew past me in rage to subdue his brother.
This was undoubtedly the most remarkable thing I had witnessed on this planet so far. It was almost impossible to comprehend but there it was, pain. Actual real, physical pain. But this was a human response, from my human form. I was far from dead or dying, in fact this corporeal form could be obliterated and I would still exist as the energy Vega cannot see. It was time to plan a ruse.
“Calm yourself brother! You cannot act like this!”
“Aaaaargh! You could've been dead Aries, you want me to forgive him so easy! We are not human and you would be wise to remember that!
At that instant Vega broke free and attacked Aries with a viscous punch which sent him soaring through the city, he clipped the edge of a building and to my astonishment it exploded as he made impact sending glass and mortar flying into the air and leaving a large hole in the side of the building. How was this possible? I'd seen both pass through walls willingly and do no damage at all. This was beginning to become a dangerous situation.
Aries had managed to steady himself in mid air and exploded with rage in the distance. Should I let them fight this out, or risk having the city and its inhabitants destroyed? No, I had to intervene, the most logical outcome would be to let Vega think that he had won, and the faster the better.
Despite Aries being covered in his own more powerful than before cloak of rage, he still did not seem to be a match in strength to his brother yet he charger forward without fear. If Vega had been more focussed he could have kept attacking but his attention was solely on his brother. I had a feeling that this battle between siblings was long overdue.
They collided mid air causing a massive explosion of energy which shattered every window in 100 meters and shaking the foundations of every building around. So strong in fact that it propelled me through the face of the building behind me like a stone skipping on water smashing through wall after wall until I came to a stop under a pile of rubble. The pain was intense and I lost all my senses for a short time. My clothes and skin were ripped to shreds and I had more broken bones than I could count, and as I lay trapped under segments of concrete a ringing slowly came to. I focussed on it more as pain surged through the body I had created, it was a voice, a voice filled with fear, a single tone or scream perhaps?
Looking up from the rubble I see a young couple crouched in the corner protecting each other, her hands covering her ears and bellowing with all her might and his defending her from anything that might happen next. I stood up with great difficulty surging more pain throughout me. Rubble collapsed from side to side and I reached with my left hand to grab hold of the wall falling back to my knees. My arm was gone, but I could still sense it, how marvelous human emotion is. The young man, to my astonishment, could see me. He was looking right at me in shock. I stumbled to my feet and smiled right at him, “Don't worry,” I said “this will all be over soon.” And with my right arm outstretched I extended my being around them and transported them to safety just outside the city border.
I suppose it should be done for all the citizens but there wasn't time for that. I turned to look at the destruction behind me, it was hard to see through the darkness, some rooms had lights on and others didn't, people looked on in amazement unaware of was happening around them. After all, how can one comprehend something that one cannot see?
I de-materialised myself to a point above the city again. I couldn't believe my eyes, the air was filled with dust and all around were alarms and screams from every direction. At least three buildings had been brought roaring to the ground completely annihilated and lain to waste at street level. The brothers were still going strong battling it out throughout the city, they weren't far. Aries was no doubt trying to kill his brother for sure now. This had to be stopped, hundreds of humans had died in the last few minutes, it was unacceptable to me and something had to be done.
Transporting myself closer little by little from a different angle each time I gained a better perspective of the fight, Aries seemed heavily wounded or perhaps fatigued and they were arguing again at a stand still.
“You will never understand me brother, It is not I who have become more human, it is you! You have become weak with human emotion and you trust this stranger for what?!”
“This is not the answer, brother, you are an embarrassment to the Arion, to all that we stand for, you torture the humans for your own amusement and instead of inspiring them to do great things you inspire them to do evil and the ones that don't die end up insane. It is that simple, brother. How do you not understand? Take a look around you, you did this! You've grown complacent and lost your way, you thrive on war, you despise the humans, and for what?”
“Don't lecture me brother! You are fuelled by human emotion, do not forget where it is we come from.”
“How could I? You remind me of the correct path every day of every century that I am stuck here with you.”
“If you wish to leave brother, that is your choice.”
“And let you destroy the entire city? You have truly gone mad Vega. The others will be here soon, you know they feel it, and they will stop you.”
This was as good a time as any to intervene. I jumped in beside Aries.
“Allow me to interject.” And with my arm I transported Vega to the edge of the atmosphere directly above us. “Are you okay Aries?”
“Somewhat, I am more worried about the populous than myself though.”
“I know. This ends now.”
I transported us both to Vegas vicinity, he would surely want to kill me more than ever now and I would make him an offer he could not refuse. I could tell instantly that he was enraged with me, it must be disorienting arriving so far away on your own, the planet looks so small from here. Vega rushed toward me again and I rose my hand palm towards and spoke, “Stop” I proclaimed. Not surprisingly he altered course to come at me from another angle probably assuming that I couldn't transport him away without my arm pointing at him. “Hear me out Vega, if you do not like what I have to say then you may kill me.”
Aries rushed in to block his attack again despite the last outcome but Vega stopped voluntarily to hear what I had to say.
“Too many people have died today, this is almost certainly my fault. If I had not arrived here none of this would ever have happened.”
“Finally someone who speaks the truth.”
“This of course was not my intention, and if it would satisfy you and settle this dispute you may take my life. But in return I only ask that you treat humanity with the care that they deserve.”
“I will grant your wish, but only because I love my brother dearly.”
And with that his spear was thrown at close range, Aries tried to stop Vega but he was too fast. The spear passed straight trough my skull disintegrating the brain on impact. The lifeless body dropped to the surface at an incredible rate, there would be nothing left once it hit the ground.
At this point it was necessary to de-materialise to the outskirts of the city, it would take a while for the brothers to return to the surface, and if I was correct Vega would soon be back to normal, he had no intention of keeping his word of that I was sure.
The city was in chaos and emitted a disturbing noise, unlike the calm tones I had been used to all this time. Vega had truly disrupted humanities progress. I thought of the girl from the library that Aries had been helping, and quickly dropped in to see if she was still there. The room was empty but the books remained spread across the table, she had likely fled once the fighting had started. This was as good a place as any to wait for Aries.
Several hours passed before I could feel their presence again, they returned to their usual meeting place but I daren't get any closer. The sun had started to rise from the horizon and bathed the torn city in light. People tried frantically to rescue their fellow citizens from the rubble of the disaster site, no-one knew why it happened but somehow they didn't need to, something like this would bring the survivors closer together.
Aries finally returned to the library to check on the girl. She wasn't there, but I knew he could sense me in the room with him.
“You're here aren't you? I can feel you. You really had us both fooled.”
I materialise for Aries in human form again this time taking the form of the young man I saved inside the building.
“A different face this time?”
“I'm sorry, but I couldn't let you in on my plan. I had to make Vega think that he had killed me, but it was simpler than I was expecting to be honest. He jumped at the chance to kill me, and for what?”
“His own satisfaction, you told him it was all your fault, he felt absolved like he had to kill you in order to make it right. He still does not understand that what he is doing to humans is wrong. The others will be here to decide a punishment sooner or later.”
“That won't be necessary. My plan isn't finished yet, and though I cannot tell you what is to come I think you will find the outcome rather satisfactory.
A wave of concern enveloped Aries.
“You understand that he cannot be killed so easily, I would have thought our fight proved that to you.”
“It did, but it also made me realise something quite extraordinary.”
“And that is?”
“I cannot say Aries, though I would like nothing more, this is something I have to do alone. Please wait here, I shouldn't be too long.”
I vanish before he can say another word. Hopefully he would stay put and let me do what needs to be done. Somehow I know him well enough to think that will happen.
For this I would need to shed my flesh and bones and revert back to my original from. Vega wouldn't recognise the new face but he would certainly recognise how I felt. He was further East than before, some of the city was still asleep which led me to believe that he was back to his old habits without hesitation.
He was in a small town house before the suburbs started to sweep the plains, perched on the end of another bed, this time he preyed on a woman of middle age, scarred and tattooed, living in squalor. She was uncomfortably pressed down by that eerie finger extended beneath that sinister grin. Vega had not noticed me at all. The girl was in a lot of distress, her body trembling and sweating ice cold. This was likely the only chance I would get.
I wrapped my being slowly around the girl holding her gently and peered into her mind, she was running from something, unaware of what she just ran through a dark twisted labyrinth of despair. Eventually she came to a door which led to another labyrinth filled with walls of fire, her heart was racing faster than ever now, the flames were catching her skin but she couldn't stop fearing for her life and the thing that frantically chased her. I daren't look myself. She had to make it to the next door, that's when I'll do it. It was the only chance she would have to escape and the only chance I would have to right Vega's inherent mistakes.
It was getting closer now, she could feel its breath on the back of her neck and hear it's sharp talons scratching the walls, but she was getting slower, no matter how hard she ran it wasn't fast enough. Turning a corner she came to a door, her clothes were on fire now and the stench of burnish flesh filled her nostrils, the pain was almost too much but she knew she had to make it through that door.
She reached for the red hot handle and burst through running straight into a wall of brilliant white light, and suddenly and the pain was gone in a flash of ecstasy, I had taken it away from her and the thing that followed could not enter. She turned to face it bathed in the light that I had created for her and she had felt nothing more beautiful in her entire life. She reached her arm out palm facing the beast and simply said “Stop. It's over Vega.” And at that moment I dragged Vega's being into the void of light, he tried with all his strength to release his grip on the girl but it was too late, I was transporting his corporeal being inside the girl. He shrieked and groaned fighting for what was essentially his life, the girl convulsed violently eyes rolling back into her head, she was having difficulty breathing and was in considerable pain. But it wasn't her anymore, it was Vega.
I released my grip once Vegas new body had calmed down. It was inactive for the time being, I assumed it would take some getting used to but I did not want to take a chance of Vega breaking free.
There was a hospital on the outskirts of the city for the psychologically impaired, a small padded room and a straight jacket would be ideal, Vega wouldn't be going anywhere for a long time. I transported him there before returning to Aries and explaining the situation.
“What of the girl that Vega is trapped inside of?”
“She most likely did not survive the process.”
“That is truly unfortunate. But killing one to save the many? Perhaps you have found your calling afterall, stranger.”
I looked on in despair. I did not follow. He asked to see his brother one last time so I transported us both into the padded cell I had placed him. He was screaming and writhing in agony and complete confusion, somehow this seemed like a fitting end to Vegas reign of terror.
“What happens to Vega now?” asked Aries.
“You can kill him now if you wish, or you can let him live a life of misery for the next 50 years first. The choice is yours to make Aries, he is afterall, your brother.”