Once upon a time, in a far away universe, comets and meteors

CLASHED

FELL

and the comets

BURNED

into flakes of ash, and the meteors

MELTED

into white-hot metal.

And a new planet was made.

Slowly, the ash turned to earth, and slowly, the metal cooled.

One day, a seed landed, and started to grow. And it grew into a Tree of Life, and bore only four leaves.

As the first leaf, the eldest leaf, dropped to the ground, it

TRANSFORMED

turning into a beautiful,

MAGICAL

being clothed in

FIRE

and

WATER

layered upon

DARKNESS

and with hair made out of

LIGHT.

Her breath became wind, and her tears became earth.

The Tree of Life mused upon her. 'She is fire, water, air, earth, light and darkness. She is a true paradox. And her name shall be Ophelia.'

Ophelia stood alone, rooted to the spot where she fell, for many years. But she did not feel constrained, because although she stood where she fell, her mind flew to the farthest corners of the planet.

After many years, during which Ophelia grew greatly, the Tree of Life felt ready to drop another leaf. But unlike Ophelia's leaf, which had plummeted straight to the ground, this leaf was caught upon one of Ophelia's breaths, and fluttered about.

Ophelia's new brothers and sisters had borne wings, and were able to

FLY.

Ophelia could not fly like them. But she had no jealousy, for her years of solitude had made her wise.

'They fly in circles like the comets that created the planet,' though the Tree of Life, for it knew of such things. 'Their race shall be the Comets, and the individuals can name themselves.'

So the Comets flew about the earth, tiny, but strong in numbers.

Ophelia was happy to sing for her new siblings, and although they had not been beautiful when born, soon their wings flushed with rainbow colors, and they, too, were beautiful, for such was the power of Ophelia's song.

A few months had passed when the Tree of Life noticed that one of its leaves was sick. Ophelia was very worried, and sang song after healing song, but the leaf continued to die.

At last the Tree of Life itself began to feel weaker. Death had come upon it in the form of a tiny, weak leaf.

'There is nothing else to do,' thought the Tree, 'I must drop the leaf, and if it dies, it dies.' And the Tree of Life mourned for the poor leaf's lost life, for although the leaf had endangered the Tree, the Tree of Life had much mercy.

But Ophelia was determined to not let the leaf die. As the leaf dropped, she sang a song of healing to carry it, and slowly shades of gentle silver came to the leaf. It transformed into a wholly different creature than the Comets, with thick, soft fur in beautiful shades silver, black, and gray. They seemed to merely be heads, with long, pointed necks, and they flew about in the Sky.

'They are the color of the burning meteors that helped form this planet,' thought the Tree. 'The meteors, too, were beautiful, but their metal covered much good earth. Perhaps these beings will not carry this hidden evil. To remind them of it, and protect this planet, I shall name them the Meteors. And as it is with the Comets, the individuals can name themselves.'

Ophelia spoke to the Tree. "But what will become of the last leaf?" she asked.

'Ahh,' said the Tree, 'It will remain attached to its branch. It shall be a Leaf of Life, and as long as it lives, no good creature on this planet will die.'

"Then I vow my life to the protection of this Leaf of Life," said Ophelia.

Some of the Comets, who were curious creatures, had heard Ophelia's conversation. "We, too, pledge our lives to the protection of the Leaf!" they cried. And they called the rest of the Comets to the hill where the Tree grew and Ophelia stood, and these other Comets pledged their lives as well.

The Meteors heard the commotion, and soared to the hill. "What is this all about?" they asked, and the Comets explained.

"This is all nonsense! What on our planet could wish to harm the Leaf?" exclaimed the Meteors.

The Tree spoke in her soft voice. 'Those who would wish for an everlasting moon,' she replied.

The Meteors scoffed at the Tree's concern, and flew away, all except one.

"I will pledge my life as well to the protection of the Leaf," she said, then flew away.

And silhouetted against the light of the sun, all saw that she had the head of a tiger, rather than the wolf-like heads of her kin, and her fur was orange and red and yellow.

'She must be the one named Felis,' thought the Tree of Life.

Felis flew to join the other Meteors. Ophelia watched her flight, and whispered a song of protection upon the wind. It flew to join Felis, and wrapped around her, cloaking her in light.

The Meteors could not stand her light, and flew away. Felis flew alone, battered upon the wind. But she did not thirst, or hunger, or feel the chilling cold of exile. Ophelia's song had carried safety for her.

But even Ophelia's song could not last forever. Slowly, the light faded. Slowly, Felis was accepted once more. And yet she remained an outcast, lost among the stars.

The Meteors began to plot among themselves. One, the eldest, spoke. "Why should we share this planet? Our namesakes created it, protected it. The Comets are weak, and the Tree, as well as Ophelia, stands rooted to the ground. Unlike us, they cannot fly."

The Meteors took great pride in their power of flight, unknowing, or unwilling to remember, that it was Ophelia herself that granted them that power. Without flight, the Meteors were powerless, weak, tiny, and unable to survive.

They began to plot the downfall of the Tree. And as they plotted, new creatures formed from the metal of the planet. Snake-like beings, sharp-fanged with deadly poison, with legs and claws. Deadly. Beasts with metallic eyes and metal-cold hearts—or no hearts at all. Animals came, with powers unknown to the Tree, for their forces were ones of evil.

And they allied themselves with the Meteors.

Felis saw it all, and was worried. She flew to the Tree, and to Ophelia, and told them what she saw, and heard.

One day, the Meteors caught Felis on her way back. Whispers of 'traitor' and 'spy' rippled throughout the crowd. They flew as one, and turned upon her.

Felis would fly no more. They had stripped that power from her, and taken it for themselves.

Weak and dying, Felis made her way to Ophelia. And although she was able to heal Felis, even her songs could not give her the power of flight once again. Once gone, some things are lost forever.

Both Tree and Ophelia were worried. No longer would they know what was planned, what deadly new creations had been born from the metal of the planet.

When would they strike? What would they bring? None knew.

The Comets kept close to the Tree, fulfilling their vow. "We swore to protect you, and we will. It may cost lives, but the protection of the Tree is worth it," said the eldest of the Comets.

The Tree mourned over the Meteors. 'The very name of our planet shows comets and meteors working together. Conis Metoris—comets and meteors, metal and ash.'

One Comet attempted to spy on the Meteors.

She returned wingless and bleeding.