Before the elite’s assault…
When Aether finished work for the day, he waved his boss off, and then headed home.
He remembered the days starting off as a simple scribe but quickly made his way to second in charge by being more competent than the others. He trained employees now.
As Aether opened the door to this apartment, a thought occurred to him. Why should he do this alone—there’s bound to be others who wanted to do something about the current system. He could gain a following. He didn’t want a cult or violence; however. Just likeminded people.
Legends state that the first of the fallen tried the cult thing and failed miserably.
Aether just wanted change. He wished for a fair system, fair justice, and true free will like the humans. One step at a time, he thought.
Aether brewed a pitcher of coffee then sat at his desk with a pen and pad. It was time to write a letter. After four tries of writing, ripping unsatisfactory pieces to shreds, the demigod finally finished with something worthy of his handwriting.
He started to call it a night but a knock at his door changed his mind. The demigod took a second to observe his large one-bedroom apartment. It was modern human-styled.
Contrary to popular belief, electricity was just as common in Paradise Realm as the human world. Even more so since lightning spirits replenished it infinitely. Communication sometimes differed but special cellular phones did exist here.
He focused and imagined the front door. Expulsing a tiny bit of essence, he visualized the person outside. In a half-second, he saw her in his mind as if viewing the person on a high-definition television. She was a short goddess with golden-brown skin, short reddish-brown hair, dressed in jeans and a purple designer shirt.
Human world style, huh? Aether put his letter away before taking off to the front door. The moment he opened it, a tiny feeling, maybe instinct in the back of his mind, suggested that he should listen to whatever this beautiful goddess had to say.
Aether didn’t think much of others within Paradise Realm, often dismissing them. He even labeled many as idiots, unable to see the universe and its actors on a large scale.
The goddess’s face lit up as if seeing Aether was one of her greatest accomplishments of all time. The demigod figured her age to be the same as his, give or take a year—though he couldn’t be sure, since most heavenly-beings chose to look youthful.
“Can I help you?” Aether said, his voice beaming pure disinterest.
The girl seemed to be taken aback, slightly, but quickly covered it up with resolve.
“I had a vision about the letter you were about to send,” she said, “and wanted to be a part of it.”
Aether froze, confused, shocked, and bewildered at the same time. He socialized with no one other than his father, so there shouldn’t be any psychic phenomenon involving his insignificant letter whatsoever. In fact, the letter would be going to the plane of Valkyries—not even Conus will know that it exists.
What the goddess said next, answered Aether’s confusion and perhaps, uneasiness. “I’m your destined one.”
Aether looked thoughtful for a second before speaking. “Heh, so demigods aren’t an exception to the birth pairing.”
“No,” said the goddess.
Aether shrugged. “I’m Aether. You are?”
“You…don’t already know me?” she said, disappointment plain as daylight on her face.
“No,” Aether replied, bluntness in his tone. He wasn’t in the mood for nonsense. “As a demigod, I’m clearly unaffected by whatever happens to everyone else.”
He felt a mix of anger and annoyance from her.
“I’m Marin of the Saturn clan,” she said as she placed her hands on her hips.
Her frown vanished when Aether suddenly smiled. A perfect smile.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said. “Come inside. The bulk of the Saturn clan is on the other half of the realm, right? I offer you my bed for the night.”
“So there is a gentleman behind that wall of grumpiness.”
Aether chuckled as he led Marin inside.
“Sorry. Must be the leftover bark from work.”
“That’s the office life for you, even for bosses like us.”
Aether pretended not to be a little disturbed by the insight Marin had on him.
“So…office job too, huh?”
“Prayer Corporation,” she replied then sighed. “It sucks.”
“Ah.” Aether pointed at his bedroom toward the back of his apartment. “There’s the room. Bathroom is opposite of it.”
“I won’t take your bed,” she said. “I can simply ascend home. I only came here to chat.”
“This late?” Aether challenged. “And why now?”
“I couldn’t sense you until today—and I’ve imprinted.”
Aether shrugged again.
“Fine. Let’s chat. Over dinner, I guess. I know a pretty good place you’ll like a few miles from here. If you don’t mind.”
“A date so suddenly. You’re either smooth or dense. I can’t figure it out.”
Aether blinked too, realizing the implications, but not caring. He hadn’t eaten in hours. Who cared how this arrangement sounded? Still, he’d roll with it. Something within urged him to do.
“Was that not smooth enough?” he joked.
Marin laughed. Aether grabbed the goddess’s hand, imagined the restaurant, and within a heartbeat, the duo stood in front of the door. Marin’s surprised showed all over her face.
“I can use quick-ascensions for up to eight miles,” the demigod explained in a voice that sounded as if this was a common ability.
He took into account that the normal maximum distance for the teleport was no more than one hundred yards.
Marin opened her mouth as if preparing to unleash a load of questions but Aether didn’t give her a chance. “Let’s go.”
Aether took a second to observe Paradise Realm’s night. It wasn’t too different from Earth’s nights. Sure, there were three moons, one pearly white, one emerald-green, and the third, a glowing orange-red, but that was beside the point. Bright, glistening stars paraded the sky like multicolored magic glitter.
Aether led the goddess inside the restaurant. Famous for human world cuisine, the demigod couldn’t get enough of this place.
“Table for two,” he said to the angelic waitress. She nodded then pointed at a golden table near a window.
“What human world nation are you looking to try today,” she asked, enthusiasm in her voice. Marin forced herself to ignore the angel’s seemingly over-interest in the half-angel, half-god. She did admit to herself how nice this place looked.
“Let’s go with Japan today,” he responded. “Make it a platter of various dishes.”
“Chef, you heard the man,” the angel shouted to a window behind her.
Aether led Marin to the assigned table.
“You and I have to chat,” he said. “So tell me about…” he paused as a revelation of information and feelings flooded into his mind and perhaps his soul. In fact, this felt overwhelming to the point of inducing a headache.
A second later, the pain that raged war with his head vanished completely. He knew. He just knew.
The new information and feelings didn’t change him of course and if he wanted, he could reject the goddess. However, the attraction he felt now mimicked the human’s, “love at first sight” phenomenon. “I guess you won’t have to tell me anything,” Aether said, gleam in his eyes.
“Wow…I guess I already know everything, at least now I do.”
Marin gasped then smiled.
Aether decided to crash the possibly growing romantic moment. “Which sounds a bit creepy. Something that should be logically impossible.”
Marin didn’t show any surprise, easily predicting how the demigod would respond to a possible imprint. She didn’t mind having a smart but dense life-mate.
“Nevermind,” Aether continued. “That’s something to look into later. Are you really up to what I have in mind? You know, the letter.”
“I’ve always wanted to change the system, even if the method you’re using is reckless.”
Aether nodded, is face solemn.
“People will get hurt, but it’s time for a change.”
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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