Brian woke suddenly and immediately looked at the clock: 12:00 midnight. The darkness was wet after the storm, and tranquility had settled in after the fiery lightning and booming thunder had left. Inexplicably, the wind whispered through the window, beckoning Brian to come.
Slipping out of bed, Brian walked to the window and poked his head out to look at the damp world. Water droplets shone in the unveiled moonlight. Brian didn't know what he was doing, until it was too late. He snuck out the window and sidled along a tree branch.
Finally, he stopped at the very end of the branch. His father's secret Wind-Surfer Fins were hanging on the branch above him. He slipped the flat parcel onto his back, secured it, and pulled the steering bar down within easy reaching distance.
Then, without thinking, he leapt and extended the fins. The moist night wind caught him and carried him were it wished. Brian floated with the wind, rather peacefully, until he realized what he had just done.
Fear and astonishment came over Brian, and he tried to steer back. The wind blew more urgently, as if trying to get him to a particular place at a particular time. Blowing swiftly, the wind drove the Wind-Surfer Fins and their cargo into the snagging branches of an old oak tree.
The fragile wing membrane was riddled with holes and had been torn by branches. Several of the frail, wooden wing frames snapped, rendering the Wind-Surfer Fins useless. A particularly sharp branch had punctured the parcel, wedging its sharp point among the delicate wooden workings. Brian hung from the harness, limp and bruised, but without serious injury.
A whitish creature, a bat, approached the dangling Brian, wondering how the Sky-Being had come so far from his home in such complete darkness. The bat looked at the fins, seeing how the branches held them in an extended fashion. He saw the branch jammed in the parcel, just centimeters from Brian's head. On one side of Brian's face, the bat observed, was a rather nasty bruise, suggesting a horrid knock to the head.
Realizing he couldn't leave Brain hanging there, the bat wormed his way through the mess of branches, using his slender toes and the minute thumb-claws on his wings. By means of his razor-sharp teeth, he snapped the harness. Catching Brain on his back, he crawled toward the edge of the tree.
Upon reaching the ends of the furthermost branches, the bat propelled himself into the clear night air. The bat caught up with a flock of other bats, his family. The bats had had it; and now were flying to a new home, one far, far away from the Sky-Beings.
The reason for the move was this: The Sky-Beings sung frequently of their impending rule over all flying creatures, bats included. The bats had gotten irritated with this and sent their leader and his mate to deal with it. The leader knew only one way to do so, and thus began the War of the Skies. The Sky-Beings won, and now, the bats were being forced to further lands. (The account of the War of the Skies is to be published twice later: once as the bats' version and once as the Sky-Beings' version.)
Brian awoke and felt the warm, soft fur of the creature underneath him. He yelped, but quickly clamped his mouth shut, not wanting the bat to hear him. Looking around, Brian found all the other bats, and had to struggle harder than ever to hold his tongue.
The bat upon which Brian was perched knew he was awake from all the motion. So, he purposely slowed down to have a more private word with the Sky-Being. "What were you doing in that tree?" the bat asked.
This was too much for Brian. He could no longer contain his scream. "Quiet," the bat hissed softly, "The others are sure to hear you if you continue screaming like that!" The bat soon realized that Brian planned on screaming until he was out of breath.
"Fine," the bat grumbled, "Have it your way." He folded his wings and went into the steepest dive possible. The force of the wind compressed Brian's lungs and windpipe for a moment, effectively shutting him up.
The bat pulled up at the last moment, saving both himself and Brian from a terrible crash. "Are you finished?" the bat asked, flying back up. Brian nodded, breathless.
The ensnaring branches of the oak were diminishing in size as the bat carried Brian further. Brian couldn't help thinking of the warmth of his home, how far away it must be from his current location. "What… what is your name?" he asked, still a little out of breath from the dive. He wasn't sure if bats had names, but it was a question worth asking, because there was nothing better that Brian could think of to say.
"Who, me?" the bat wondered aloud. "I'm Lorenzo," he answered. Lorenzo flapped his ghostly pale wings thoughtfully, then asked, "And what about you? Do you have a name?"
"My name's Brian," the Sky-Being responded.
Lorenzo flew on in silence. The flock of bats continued to chatter before him and Brian, talking of their dislike of the Sky-Beings, unaware that there was one in their midst. Brian observed the bats, his eyes lingering on one with fiery red fur. Lorenzo noticed. "That's Spyestra," he said, "She's the Leader's mate… and my mother."
Spyestra was beautiful, perhaps the most lovely of all the bats. She wore downy, fiery red fur that blew with the wind in such a way that it appeared on fire in the moonlight. Her wings seemed almost polished and her eyes were the deepest brown.
But, next to Spyestra, flew the ugliest, most skeletal bat on record. His black fur seemed to reflect all light, keeping the dark ways of the wearer inside. His even darker wings, on the contrary, soaked in all existing light, making them darker still. His eyes were a piercing, bloodstained scarlet and his knife-like fangs were spattered with dried blood.
Lorenzo hesitated before speaking that bat's name. "His name," Lorenzo said slowly, "is Slithe."
Brian tensed as soon as he heard the name. A flashing memory showed itself to him; and he wasn't sure if the memory was even his own. A Sky-Being stood before him and there was the skeletal bat, Slithe, flying towards them. At Slithe's side flew Spyestra. The bats attacked the Sky-Being and threw him from his perch.
The Sky-Being made no sound as he fell, a calm expression on his face. He flipped onto his back as he plummeted, looking Brian in the eye. He grinned softly as he passed through layer upon layer of leaves and plunged from sight. Brian started from the unusual recollection, looking about him, unsure of what he just saw.
Lorenzo swept into a tree and landed with ease. The Sky-Being on his back was jostled about, but wasn't too injured. The bruise on the side of his face was agitated by the whacking of branches against it. "We're staying here for the day," Lorenzo told Brian, "You can find a place to sleep. But don't leave the tree." Brian nodded to the bat. As soon as Lorenzo was asleep, however, the Sky-Being got straight to work.