Araa Jale Maen

Araa Jale Maen

image A native Acadian, born and raised in Corinthia at the start of the Cosmic Epoch, Eridanus Kytheran Jedicke Zenon was the black sheep of his family. Considered a rogue by the Xilon elders, he had never been fond of living amongst his own kind. He was a warrior of immense skill, having studied at the Raxxus Learning Center for combat training to join the prestigious ranks of the Guardians. But Eridanus spent most of his time beyond the Aeradisphere, getting lost in the wild lands of distant worlds that he came across during his travels. On these savage planets, he would often manipulate the evolutionary paths of lower life forms to produce a champion that he could engage in battle, much to the dismay of Acadian Council. Such endeavors were not only discouraged but went against their most basic beliefs and teachings.

Eridanus, however, cared little for his society's rules. The Book of Xilon was of no importance to him; he thought it archaic and in need of a rewrite. While he deeply respected his people in many ways, he was disgusted by them as well, feeling that they had grown far too complacent and overly cautious with their abilities, which he believed should be used to develop and recreate the universe rather than to merely keep it on a specific course set down by ancient explorers. Most Xilon stood by the creed that immense power did not merit the use of it, and did not give them the right to alter the existence of others unless there was a genuine need. To them, the Acadian's actions were a severe breach of moral code, even though Eridanus argued tirelessly that the type of conflict he created brought and even necessitated cultural and personal growth. He saw himself as a one-man guard, serving to protect the Xilon against those who envied and despised their power and way of life. By creating the most skilled warriors that he could find, from a plethora of different species throughout time and space, he felt that he could judge the relevance of those life forms and discover whether they had the potential to be a considerable threat or valuable allies.

image While Eridanus did have good intentions at heart, his reckless actions, questionable techniques and unchecked timeline manipulations drew negative attention to the Xilon. More and more hostile eyes became focused on the Aeradisphere, and the elders of Corinthia became increasingly concerned. They endured their fears for a time, but after a point, the rebel's actions could no longer be written off. His cosmic manipulations had grown far too daring and dangerous. As far as the Xilon were concerned, Eridanus had become a renegade who was completely out of control. Although his endeavors were causing little immediate damage, the ripple effects were alarming and threatened to become a massive disruption of the natural order of things. He had to be stopped, once and for all, before something truly terrible did occur.

image In the year 1Z17`7L`3J AZH, the Council chose a respected Guardian from Axiom City, Ariel Ilarian Arkraeden Geminius, to seek out Eridanus and bring him in. Despite her comparatively young age, Ariel was incredibly skilled in combat and yet far more diplomatic than the average fighter. She was renowned amongst the Watchmen for putting an end to the bloodthirsty ways of thousands of violent civilizations thoughout space, even when others had thought those cultures incurable. She had seen some of the most horrific sights of AZH era but always managed to recognize some form of beauty in the process. Her universal feats were unparalleled within her era, and the Council could think of no one better to help Eridanus see the error of his ways, or to stop him by force if there was no other choice.

Also a graduate of Raxxus, Ariel was willing to work with others, but was fond of taking her own journeys as well, during which most of her greatest accomplishments had been made. She was a frequent visitor to the Chamber of Mirrors on Zenon, which she often used as a personal guide. The chamber was an arrangement of six crystal mirrors in a remote region of the waterscape. They had been fashioned by the legendary scientist, Mars Xidonis, and were positioned to reflect potential timelines off each other.

image Using the mirrors, it didn't take long for the Guardian to find her charge. She caught up with him on a small farming planet, Bracyn, encouraging a group of youths to develop their fighting skills. Interrupting the exchange, Ariel stepped in and shooed the boys away, then turned on her fellow Xilon, who was not pleased with the intrusion. She informed him that his actions were being banned once and for all and that his presence was requested in Corinthia at once. Eridanus scoffed and asked what right they had to stop him when the universe had given their kind the power to move through time and to reshape it. The children that he was working with could grow into warriors and prevent a catastrophic invasion destined to befall the planet. Altering the timeline enough for the Bracyneks to encounter terrible conflict yet ultimately prevail would make them a stronger species with immense potential. They might one day even become allies of the Xilon.

Ariel was impressed by his passion and reasoning, and even felt that some of his beliefs were right. But she could also see the danger of his actions, which were extreme and without limits. The line between acceptable change and catastrophic manipulation would be all too easy to cross. It was why their people had such rules to begin with. If they began to change reality right and left, where would it end? With the potential for things to suddenly spiral out of control, it would be disastrous to allow anyone to wield such power unchecked. She told him as much, but Eridanus was not interested in hearing about rules or reason, and told the Guardian to return to Acadia Minor without him.

image When Ariel replied that she was authorized to use any means necessary to put a stop to his wild behavior, Eridanus lost what patience he had been holding onto. Whipping out a large double-edged axe, he warned his adversary to leave at once before their conflict was elevated to lethal levels. But Ariel unsheathed her own sword and a brutal battle ensued as the warriors clashed, evenly matched in both fervor and technique. Ariel had no desire to kill him, nor was she even sure that she could, but a thin spike through the third heart to permanently disable his chronospacial abilities might be in order. She did not wish to resort to such measures, but the bigger picture was at stake. That was what being a Guardian was about, she knew. The overall order of things, not the individual pieces. If Eridanus could not accept that, it would be his undoing.

Then something wholly unexpected happened, something that neither of them could have ever forseen. Ariel slammed her foot into her opponent's chest. Eridanus swung around full circle and sent a powerful blow to her head. Barely fazed, Ariel grabbed his wrist midair as he came in for a second round. And as she did, time itself froze. The second that they connected hand-to-wrist, the light emanating from both of their bodies dimmed for a moment, then seemed to merge and explode. All at once, their heads were full of memories that weren't their own; thoughts, emotions and sensations belonging to each other ripped through their minds as if their souls had been shattered and stitched back together as one. When the shock had subsided, they quickly broke apart, staring at each other with wonder and disbelief. The same thought ran through both of their minds: Araa Jale Maen. They were soul mates; genetic counterparts. Whatever their differences, they were bound to each other by forces of the universe far beyond their control.

image Stunned by the revelation, Eridanus agreed to return to Acadia Minor. Equally taken aback, Ariel simply nodded and the two of them silently journeyed home. Once there, Eridanus was summoned to Corinthia and told in no uncertain terms that his troublesome ways would come to an immediate end or he would be treated as an external threat to civilization. His anger overcoming all else, Eridanus fired back at the veterans with a furious response to their harsh ultimatum. A massive argument followed, the result of which was the young warrior storming out of the city with the assurance that they would not see him again and that his interventions would cease, but that they would come to regret their decision when the unchecked life forms surprised them. Ariel pursued him through the city gates but even their cosmic bond could not keep Eridanus home when he believed that they were making such a grave mistake.

image Flying to the outskirts of Chrysalian, Eridanus did not slow down until he reached Dryadakrain, an uninhabited border moon. In the heart of the barren landscape was his precious retreat. For years, he had come to this quiet place to store keepsakes from his travels. He stared out at the macabre scenery, struggling with what to do and where to go next. After hours of pacing, he left the comfort of his private trophy room and walked along the moon's volcanic surface, hoping to clear his head in the soothing light of the nearby sun. Around him, eruptions of lava and steam blew out of the ground like a maze of geisers. This nightmarish rock was where the vicious dryadak species had originated so long before. A cross between dragons and massive scorpions, with personalities to match, dryadaks had gone extinct ages ago. They had had their time in the universe, but it had come and gone well before his own birth, which disappointed him. They were creatures that he would have loved to fight once in a while, but time traveling within the Aeradisphere for the purposes of hunting or consuming resources was strictly forbidden, and even he knew to draw the line there.

After a long stroll through the empty landscape, Eridanus felt more at ease and calmly left the Aeradisphere. Upon exiting the vortex, he threw himself into a warp, aiming for nowhere in particular, loving the familiar feeling of freefalling through time and space to an unknown destination. When he landed, the warrior found himself on a surprisingly quiet planet, in the heart of a beautiful rainforest. It was surprising because such a destination rarely appeared on his travels. Most of his random leaps were guided by the subconscious, and his thoughts were generally focused on finding savage, barbaric lands filled with species whose civilizations he could help to expand or keep in check. This was very different from any place that he had come across before. The chlorine atmosphere was thick and heavy, and had a tint to it as if fine specks of dust filled the air. The surrounding jungle was high-grown and incredibly lush.

image Fascinated, Eridanus embarked on a two week trek through his gorgeous surroundings, searching for any semi-advanced form of life. But all he came across were the usual variations of mammalian and reptilian wildlife that one would expect to find on such a planet.

As he began to grow bored with the endlessly green and empty world, Eridanus stopped at the edge of a cliff and a large village came into view below. It was wonderfully constructed from polished wood and stone, filling the valley and spanning the waterfall up the edge of the opposite cliff by way of rope bridges and primitive platform lifts. Moments later, he had entered the commune, drawing disbelieving stares from the locals. Some basic inquiries revealed that they were the remnants of a Pterakain colony that had terraformed the planet thousands of years before and then promptly decided that the project was far too expensive, the planet too distant to effectively maintain. So the powers that be had dropped a few desperate settlers and token beasts into the wilderness with some basic supplies, then abandoned them. Unknown to the homeland, the settlers had not only survived the ages but also thrived, developing their own undisturbed Utopia, which they were happy to keep to themselves.

Eridanus was excitedly escorted by a horde of awestruck children to see the village leader, Malkin, who welcomed the traveler warmly. Withdrawing into the privacy of the chieftain's home, Eridanus explained who he was and how he had come to be there. Malkin, impressed and fascinated by the stranger, asked him if he would stay as their guest for a time, and Eridanus agreed.

image The following morning, the leader requested the visitor's presence at his home again. Eridanus obliged and was surprised when the chieftain led him out of his home and deep into the forest. After nearly an hour, they arrived at a small bungalow, hidden amongst the brush. Stepping inside, Eridanus found himself in a little sanctuary and within it, a blind young man surrounded by hand-made creations that ranged from spectacular weapons to basic household items. Malkin exchanged words with the craftsman, who smiled and disappeared behind a curtain in the back. He emerged moments later with a large, beautiful arrow. The shaft was made of incredibly smooth wood and the point was solid gold. The blind boy handed the arrow to the Xilon, explaining that his ailment had moved him to develop powerful technologies, none of which had cured his lack of sight, but some of which had turned out to be quite useful. He told Eridanus that the arrow had been forged with such a fine balance of elements that it could never miss its mark, and would strike a killing blow every time it was used. Despite the assumption that the isolation of the settlers had led to misguided beliefs in druidism, and that the story was nothing more than an extension of that ignorance, Eridanus did not wish to offend his hosts and graciously accepted the gift.

Quite at home with the simple jungle folk, Eridanus stayed on as their guest. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, and before he knew it, generations had passed. To a Xilon, such a period breezes by, but the people of Melanthios had come to adore and respect him as a member of the community, and he felt more comfortable with them than he ever had with his own kind. Locked within their private paradise, Eridanus and the settlers were oblivious to the terrible things happening in the universe beyond.

A little known and disastrously underestimated dragonoid species, the Nyazim, had come into power too fast for anyone to realize what was happening. A highly intelligent life form, they swiftly conquered their own world, enslaved and consumed the other species of Fragden, and had then moved on to just as quickly overpower every neighboring planet in the orbit system. Their race was spreading like wildfire, ravaging world after world throughout the Drachaide galaxy, and there seemed to be no end to their carnage in sight. The Xilon had attempted to intervene but had so far been unsuccessful due to a natural biological weapon used by the warmongering reptiles. The Nyazim naturally exhaled a thick toxic mist that cast the skies into perpetual darkness. Their vision allowed them to see through it but other species were unable to glimpse more than a few feet ahead, making airborn battles nearly impossible to win against the vicious and powerful hunters. A number of Xilon warriors had already lost their lives in the fight against them, and the universe was being thrown more and more into disarray with every world that the creatures destroyed.

image When her fifth comrade fell from the skies, Ariel deserted the battlefield and made her way home to Zenon as fast as she could. Entering the Chamber of Mirrors, she desperately studied the timelines until she managed to locate her lost mate. Wasting no time, she jumped to the distant planet and tore a path through the jungle until she stumbled across the same village that Eridanus had found millenia before. Her arrival caused quite a stir, but Ariel had no time to enjoy her celebrity status. She burst into Eridanus's home and, ignoring his shock, demanded that he return to his own kind at once. At first, Eridanus refused, saying that he was not the one who had chosen to abandon them. But then Ariel interlocked her hand with his and in an instant Eridanus felt all of the pain that she had experienced in recent weeks...the friends she had lost, the many lives that their people had been unable to save, the catastrophic state of the universe and the impending doom that surrounded it. He knew right away that he had no choice but to journey to Drachaide and fight alongside his people once more, whatever their differences might have been.

The villagers were disappointed to see him go, but they had known him for long enough to understand his purpose in the greater scheme of things, and wished him the best. After a hurried farewell, Eridanus departed with Ariel, leaping through time into the unknown. Reaching an uninhabited moon in the war-ridden galaxy, the two joined up with the nearest contingent of Guardians. Ariel seemed ready to wait for instructions, but Eridanus announced that he would join the battle on one condition only - that he would go into the fight alone, to face the Nyazim on his own. There was an immediate roar of disapproval, but Eridanus pressed them to stay back for the moment and let him have his turn. If he should fall, he told them, they could swarm the skies to their hearts' content. But until then, he insisted upon doing it alone. Thinking him mad or suicidal, the others told him to go. Ariel tried to stop him, but Eridanus assured her that he would defeat the fierce army of dragons and return to them by the day's end. And before anyone could raise further questions, he was gone.

image True to his word, Eridanus decimated the Nyazim Guard. Diving straight into the overwhelming mist, he notched the golden arrow that Malkin had entrusted to him and fired a shot into the darkness. There was an earsplitting shriek as the arrow found its mark and a terrible beast tumbled out of the sky and plunged to the ground below. Flying faster than he ever had before, Eridanus sped down to the surface after it. He ripped the arrow from the massive, motionless body, flew back into the mist and drew the bow again. Repeating the process with fierce resolve and amazing efficiency, he found and shot down one Nyazim after another until their numbers had been severely damaged. Realizing that a single warrior was to blame, the Nyazim leader called his soldiers to launch a full scale attack on the lone Xilon. As the swarm closed in, Eridanus saw that the use of a bow and a single arrow was no longer a realistic strategy. He hid the incredible weapon from sight and yanked out an axe that his father had given him as a child. Using every trick that he had learned from eons of fighting dirty, the Acadian threw himself into a series of warps, attacking the enemy with animalistic glee. The battle lasted for seven hours. Eridanus found himself rolling and twisting through the darkened skies, dodging attacks left and right with no relief as he slaughtered one beast after another. Every time one went down, five more shot out of the mist to take its place. By the time it was over, the determined warrior was barely standing but was standing nonetheless. He had taken a massive beating but had miraculously prevailed; the bulk of the Nyazim forces were completely destroyed and the renegade survivors would be easy to handle from there.

image Upon his return to Corinthia, Eridanus was hailed as a true hero. The Council rescinded their previous judgment, acknowledging that the entire incident may have been avoided if they had paid more mind to observing or even curbing the development of the vicious creatures. At the insistence of Ariel, who had been chosen to act as a mediator, it was decided that a compromise was in order. The Council agreed to follow the warrior's system of change and development if he was willing to first clear his actions with the Watchers, who would research and analyze each potential change first, to ensure that a solid balance was maintained. With Ariel's encouragement, Eridanus agreed to the terms and returned home, where he was lauded for his accomplishments in Drachaide, and his daring approach to universal manipulation.

Shortly afterwards, Eridanus and Ariel were joined in a binding ritual, attended by their comrades from all over Chrysalian. Eridanus had not only discovered his soul mate but had finally found a partner worthy of standing by his side in all ways as an equal, and Ariel readily joined him in his endeavors, keeping him grounded and focused. Together, the two Guardians took up the cause of seeking out dangers to the Xilon people and the universe that was entrusted to them, working as an unstoppable force for years against the storms of conflict that lay in wait, one of which is chronicled in War of the Cybernetics.

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