More than 1 million years ago, when the earliest human beings had just begun to walk upright and spread across the already ancient Earth, forces far beyond mortal minds were already tussling over the mammalian race’s destiny.
Deep in the mountains of what is today Hebei Province, China, a slightly hunched Homo Erectus man shuffled into his cave, striking a flint and lighting a torch. He moved the torch over the wall of his little shelter and dwelling. He grinned toothily, proudly looking at the rock carvings he’d made of the animals he’d seen on his hunting and foraging ventures.
There was a great war among the stars. One fought by celestial bodies over the terrestrial baby that was Planet Earth.
Humanity had grown. Evolved. Matured. True, their technology was millennia behind those that watched over their primitive species from the shadows. From where human beings had not yet gathered the courage nor the knowledge to venture. But in time, they would become this planet’s masters, and eventually, leaders among their own kind.
But who deserved a seat among the immortals? Who was worthy enough to escape the fate of all mortal creatures? Or were they all unworthy?
The secret history of the elixir of life would shape thousands of years of human history, culminating in the appearance of Elsa and Anna in the world.
The homo erectus man slowly got up and walked out onto his cave ledge, staring up at the glowing full Moon that bathed its luminescence all over him. He wondered what was happening up there, on the surface of that benevolent celestial body.
Then his reflective moment passed, and he shrugged, shuffling back into the safety of his cave.
This is the story of the war between Chang’e and her son, Yixin. This is the story of how it all began.
Around five thousand years ago…
Far above the celestial empyrean, on the distant mansion of the solar system known to the primitives on Earth as the Moon, battle raged. Five colossal, amoeba-shaped starships, each with a central command structure and eight platinum tentacles that lashed out and destroyed everything in their way, hovered above the crater-riddled surface. From their ports flew winged fighters that hurtled at the enemy with hypersonic speed. They swarmed the Moon, spinning and flying acrobatically while blasting apart several divisions of the Moon Goddess’s elite army, the Lunar Guard. They were scattered about the Moon’s surface, but they weren’t out yet. Dozens of the troops rallied and ran back into formation.
“Steady! Don’t let Yixin’s Cosmo-Dragoons break through to Lady Chang’e! That damned Moonborn has already seized all of our bases orbiting Venus and Mars!” shouted one of their angelic commanders through his adamantine helmet. The Lunar Guard, beings that lived for thousands of years, were clad in sleek, glimmering armour that encased their entire bodies. “Fire at will!” Their rifles shot divine lasers that, with enough rounds, punctured one of the starships’ hulls. The smoking starship slowly descended onto the Moon, exploding violently and burning up dozens of fighters.
Space Hare, the Moon Goddess’ flagship, was itself a satellite that covered a small portion of the Moon. From one of its yawning hangars emerged a huge cruiser, a Neutron Bomber, that began to carpet-bomb the battlefield with anti-gravity, neutron explosives. The entire Moon shook. The bombs detonated above the Cosmo-Dragoons, tearing apart the troops and formations from the inside and shredding them into traceless particles and quarks.
“This is Neutron Bomber to Space Hare. Payload delivered, requesting refueling. Over.”
“This is Flagship Space Hare to Neutron Bomber. You’re good to dock and refuel. Over.”
The gods were at war.
From the core vessel of the remaining four starships sat the commander of the fleet, who up to now had been only observing his final assault through the supercomputer screen, which saturated the command room with quiet beeps and boops. He had a stately but dour, intimidating countenance, and he held an elegant red fan with a pattern of a dragon to cover his face…
He dropped the fan, and it fell to the titanium floor. He bared his horrific, awesome teeth. He rose from his throne, a block of exquisitely carved meteorite that was pulsing with plasma energy along its elegantly hewn decorative lines. “Cosmo-Dragoons,” he boomed, “to me! This is the final battle against my mother. Die for me and earn your honour! Your only purpose now is to help get the elixir of life into my hands.” The Cosmo-Dragoons, lined in rows of ten before him, saluted. They were also thousands of years old and were clad in shining, advanced suits of bio-mech armour.
“Lord Yixin, are you heading out to battle yourself?” asked one of them.
“Yes,” growled the Moonborn. His own golden, personally assembled suit of armour descended from a hatch above his throne. Mechanized arms animated by techno-magic undressed his rippling, muscular body while seamlessly fitting on his armour, plate by plate until his helm, decorated with protective spells and incantations, descended upon his bald head. “It’s time we defeat my mother once and for all, and seize the elixir of life.”
A Cosmo-Dragoon knelt before him, presenting him with his favourite weapon: a spear named Star Stabber.
“Chang’e has withheld this gift from humankind simply because of her traumatic experience with her former lover and husband – my father. That human took the elixir of life and became arrogant, a despot among the primitives of Earth. Mother had to defeat and destroy him, her heart breaking in the process. But then she turned around and withheld the elixir of life, claiming that no human should ever partake in immortality. The risk of human weakness was too great, she declared.”
Yixin’s eyes burned. “Hypocritical coward!”
Hou Yi, the Archer that Shot Down Ten Stars, might have become the world’s first tyrant and made Chang’e regret making the elixir of life for humans. But as far as Yixin was concerned, she was simply incompetent. A poor guide for humanity. The backward people of Earth needed a divine alternative.
I, her first Moonborn, will be a much better mentor to the human race than she could ever hope to be, he thought to himself.
A hatch from the main starship opened, and Yixin shot from its exit, hurtling like a comet across the raging battlefield, shrugging off blasts of divine lasers from the enemy. He cackled in exhilarated glee.
“I shall face you all in battle myself!” he crowed.
He smashed into the Moon’s surface, its weak gravity not a concern for him. He was, after all, a Moonborn. Many Lunar Guards roared and made for him, shooting their laser guns at him. He roared in bloodlust and bashed aside one soldier that slashed at him with a electro-knife. He swung out his arm and clotheslined another that tried to grab him. He burst into a sprint, faster than the eye could see, and flung aside an entire row of troops that had been firing at him. Lasers bounced off him uselessly. “You fools!” he cried, as he sliced apart three more enemy soldiers and impaled another on his spear’s tip. “I’m the first among Chang’e’s Moonborn. The first to drink the elixir of life! The first to be nourished by her divinity. Not even the spirits of the space-void have a hope!”
He twirled his weapon and from its sharp tip gathered glowing, deadly energy. There was an ominous hum as the area around him crackled with yellow energy. He laughed sadistically as Chang’e’s men dived and ran for cover. “None of you will stop me from getting to my mother’s flagship!” he bellowed.
From Star Stabber emerged a cataclysmic, devastating beam of starry hydrogen that blasted into the enemy formations, incinerating screaming Lunar Guards in a nanosecond and tearing apart the Moon’s surface, rocks and debris flying in all directions. Yixin aimed his spear up at the Neutron Bomber that was still wreaking havoc among his soldiers, and another blast of pure star fusion punched a hole right through the cruiser, sending it toppling and crashing in the near distance, a great explosion rippling through the solar system. “Attention all forces! Direct your attacks on Space Hare!” he roared, pointing at the spherical space station that orbited the Moon. “Flush my mother out – ”
He was stopped by a warm but clear voice. “Enough, my son!” He glanced up as the battle continued to rage, and his glowing eyes narrowed at the sight of a descending goddess. The slender goddess floated above him, observing him grimly and sadly. Her hair was rich and flowing, done in an elegant and sumptuous up-do. Her perfect, immortal face had eyes with pupils burning with the white-hot heat of starry furnaces. Her earrings were of a hare’s, and her figure-hugging, futuristic jumpsuit had gold lines that hummed with cosmic power.
She spread her willowy arms slightly, sighing. “Yixin. I know you believe that humanity deserves the elixir of life, and I myself am torn about it. I wish to have hope that their leaders won’t become like your father. But I’ve peered into the future, all the way to when human beings start developing great machines of their own… ” She closed her eyes, as if in physical pain. “… and they just never learn.”
“You’re a heartless deity for giving humanity – and me – knowledge of what’s truly possible, and then blithely withdrawing that possibility out of regret and fear!” accused Yixin. “I’m humanity’s saviour because I believe a select few deserve immortality, unlike you.”
“You killed all my other children, your fellow Moonborn, to get to me!” cried Chang’e, her voice cracking in grief. “And you preach about how much more you care about the humans than me? Yes, I made a terrible mistake with your father, with Hou Yi. But I’m trying to correct it. That’s why I need more time to decide what to do with the elixir of life!”
“You’re a fearful, petty goddess who would hoard this ambrosia while keeping humanity in the dark,” snarled Yixin. His grip on his spear tightened. “But I think big! I’ve surpassed you, and I’ll take humanity with me!” He had little patience for further dialogue, roaring through his sharp teeth and hurtling up at Chang’e. His form was so fast that it became a golden blur.
“Hand me the elixir of life! Don’t make me take it from you.”
Chang’e reluctantly raised her hand as she shot upwards, flying away from Yixin. “Earth! Wind! Fire! Water!” she cried, her eyes shining. “Spirits of the infant Earth, join with your elder sister, the Moon Goddess, and defend your home.”
The lunar deity shot up into the sky as green, red, pink, and blue iridescent swirls of light accompanied her. Many millennia later, these sentient wisps of luminous energy, both supernatural yet part of the natural world, would manifest as solid forms – as three earth giants, as a wind of many tempers, as a fiery salamander, and as a majestic Nokk. But for now, they joined the spirit of the moon to confront the mighty immortal, shooting at him and slamming him back and forth in mid-air. They smashed against him repeatedly, throwing his body off-course. “Argh!” growled Yixin, as his armoured form ricocheted between the nature spirits’ angry forms. He raised his hand, aiming a blast of cosmic energy at Gale. Gale quickly spun away as Bruni’s wisp form smashed into Yixin again. Meanwhile, the Earth Spirit sent lunar chunks of stone hurtling above the gravity-less surface, bashing into Yixin and sending him flying off-course. He hurtled at Gale, the red stream of light, and slashed at her brutally with Star Stabber. There was a great shriek as Gale fled from the cutting agony of the spear, and Yixin blasted the elemental wisp that would one day be called Bruni away with another shockwave. He hurtled at Chang’e and smashed his spear against her. Chang’e had managed to conjure a magical sword just in time, and they struggled against each other, trying to push the other away.
“My beloved son,” whispered Chang’e, her voice shaky.
“You cannot stop me,” roared Yixin, his spittle hitting Chang’e’s face. “How you must regret feeding me the elixir of life from your very teat! Such nourishment you provided your fearsome nemesis. Thanks to your milk, I’ve grown too powerful for even you, mother!” His narrow eyes glinted with cosmic plasma, the very energies of the Big Bang. “You’ve failed in your guidance of the human race. Now it’s my turn!”
He raised his gauntleted hand, clenching it into a fist. “I offer humanity the very stars that we rule over! I see their true potential! Great men and women that deserve life as long as the multiverse itself. And you, mother? You see them as none other than pets, to be kept in gnostic ignorance. That is why I rebelled against you. That is why you must be overthrown, with my foot on your throat!”
Chang’e gritted her teeth. “Your words are hurtful, but I can’t deny the truth in them. But your hubris, your self-belief in your grand plan for humankind is its own cruelty. You think you can tame tyrants like your father, but you’ll surely become one yourself!” She suddenly dispelled her sword and grabbed Yixin, gripping his armour so hard that it began to crack. “I can’t overpower you, my son, and my lingering love for you could well be my downfall. But for now – ”
She gave a high-pitched roar as Yixin screamed in disbelief, her body surging with cosmic energy. She poured all of her magic and starlight into her attack, her jumpsuit shining as Yixin’s armour shattered from the waist up.
“I – will – take – your – power!”
Yixin screamed as he felt Chang’e blasting him with multiple explosions that would have cracked planets in half. “AAAAAAAAARRRRGGH – “
“Just like how I did with your father, I’ll cast you down to Earth! I’ll then scatter my elixir and hide it where you’ll never find it!” cried Chang’e. “You shall never tempt the mortals with the allure of eternal life!”
“Once more, you underestimate me,” screamed Yixin, his body smoking. His arm suddenly shot out and he grabbed Chang’e’s throat, throttling the shocked goddess. He snarled as he choked her violently, cruelly, shaking her weaker body. “You might send me down to dwell among the humans as they begin their first steps toward civilization. Bah! I’m immortal. I can wait!”
His eyes glinted with clarity and zeal. “And I’ll do one better. I’ll form a great and ancient society – one that will have all the resources of civilizations, regardless of the era, at its beck and call to hunt down your elixir. To hunt you down!”
He bared his razor sharp teeth, staring contemptuously at his wheezing mother. “A great society – an Exalted society!”
“Not everything will go your way. There will be one – there’ll be one spirit greater than all others that have allied with me. A Fifth Spirit!” cried the space goddess, aiming a shot of pure cosmic energy at his midsection, sending him hurtling away and forcing him to release her. She rubbed her sore neck angrily. “Let her be the one to decide whose path was the right one, for she’ll be the bridge between all.”
Yixin was dazed as Chang’e and the four nature spirits hit him again and again. “Bridge or not, what makes you think that she’ll join you?” he yelled, struggling to fend them all off. “Your time has passed, mother. I offer immortality to all worthy world rulers. I have the human heart’s greatest wish and longing on my side. What do you have? What can the Fifth Spirit possibly see in you? Error after error? A hopeless detachment from the woes and sufferings of your own little human beings? No. She will join me!”
“Then let the Fifth Spirit make her own choice when the time comes,” whispered Chang’e softly.
“Now eat this, boy.”
She aimed a final, cataclysmic blast of Cosmic Microwave Background radiation at Yixin, calling upon the furnaces of the plasma from the first moments of the Big Bang to channel their power through her. She screamed with exertion and hit Yixin with everything she had. A beam of galactic fire from her open palms sent his smoking, defeated body hurtling into the far distance.
“Noooooooooo…” echoed Yixin’s hateful voice. So great was his escape velocity that he broke the Moon’s gravitational pull, sending him falling like a meteorite to Earth’s stratosphere.
“I condemn you to live and wander among the humans, so you can reflect on whether you really still want to kill me and take the elixir for yourself,” whispered Chang’e, staring at his rapidly shrinking form. “Who knows. Perhaps you’ll still conspire against me, and make good on your promise to come after me.”
She stretched herself out in exhaustion, sighing and relaxing among endless spaceship debris and hundreds of armoured corpses of Lunar Guards and Cosmo-Dragoons.
First her ex-husband. Now her own son. She sighed sadly. Yixin’s vengeful roars had faded into the vacuum of space.
“Great goddess,” said one of the surviving Lunar Guards, who approached her and saluted. The battlefield had quietened down. “We’ve won. With Yixin gone, his forces have lost morale and begun to retreat. We’ll be able to secure the Moon as your base again, from where you can watch over humanity and descend any time you choose.”
Chang’e tilted her head and glanced at Yixin’s starships and fighters, which were disengaging and shooting away from the Moon and her battleship, Space Hare. They were abandoning the battle, and a great roar of triumph shot up among Chang’e’s defenders. “You’ve sent him hurtling down to the world of mortals. He’ll be licking his wounds for a long time. Why is your countenance still sorrowful?”
She closed her eyes remorsefully. “He’ll be back. He’s my son, after all. Even if it takes him thousands of years, he’ll return. And when he does, he’ll have the world’s greatest leaders by his side.
“Perhaps even the Fifth Spirit.”
JUST WHAT HAVE ELSA AND ANNA GOTTEN THEMSELVES INVOLVED IN…?!
THE FIFTH SPIRIT AND ANNA WILL SOON BE IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY…