The suns, Apollo and Artemis, were rising over the line of the Innes Mountains. A glow spread over the purple grass, covering everything with a glittery sheen. The man standing at the foot of the largest of the mountains shaded his eyes and looked skyward. He watched the slow progression of sapphire- colored clouds across the sky, a sight that usually calmed him. Aubrey Tessera raised his optical enhancers to his eyes, and closely examined his surroundings. The mountains that loomed in front of him were covered in sunlight, the only shade found behind the large boulders at the mountains' feet. Aubrey knelt in front of a weathered boulder and ran his fingers across its crystal striping. He noticed shallow scratches stretching from one end of the boulder to the other, as if a flying animal had landed there. As Aubrey rose to his feet, a loud, strangled cry reverberated through the mountains, a cry so loud it shook the tiny pebbles at Aubrey's feet. Excitement buzzed through him, up his back, out to his fingers. As the cry sounded again, a smile cracked his usually stone-like face. This was why he was here. It was the reason he was alive. The cry belonged to Aguamatisse. Aguamatisse was a creature documented only in the myths of the Elders. It was written to be a gentle half-man, half-unicorn. Its blood was the Blood of Life, healing and comforting. The most famous of Aguamatisse stories was a story of political turmoil. Twins Rescak and Roshan were the only sons of the king, the only men who could inherit the throne of Starea. They were not simple men. Rescak was sensible and gentle, Roshan was spontaneous and violent. There were arguments over who rightly deserved the throne. Mashkai, the royal adviser, said the crown should be passes to Roshan, who was older than Rescak by a minute. The king disagreed. "Rescak is suited to be king, he thinks with his brain and not his balls." "But the Law says that the oldest son must inherit the crown. It is only right," Mashkai argued. "The Law does not cover the happenstance birth of twins." The king continued, "We shall have a duel. Whoever wins is the rightful king." Roshan and Rescak trained vigorously for the upcoming duel. Their skill was soon rivaled only by each other. The day of the duel arrived. People from all over the planet of Starea gathered to see who would be their new ruler. Roshan and Rescak fought bravely, using swords, standard pistols, and, lastly, laser guns. They faced each other, lasers at ready. They squeezed the trigger at exactly the same time; both guns caught the men in the shoulders. Both would die of internal bleeding. Aguamatisse circled the dueling field, flying lower and lower until he stood on his hooves between the two brothers. He cut his hide, right near his chest, and let black blood drip over each brothers' shoulder wounds. Giving a neigh, Aguamatisse lifted off, soared back into the sky. From that day forward, the brothers ruled Starea, each receiving his own hemisphere. Never again had twins been born to the king, and never again had Aguamatisse been seen. Aubrey was convinced that he would be the one to see the Aguamatisse. As the cry echoed through the mountains yet again, his belief was reaffirmed. He started to climb over the boulders at the foot of the mountain, gaining altitude as he searched for some way through the colossal landform. There had to be a pass. Aubrey had seen it in his dreams. Still hiking, he pondered over how he had gotten there, to that moment. He had risked everything: his home, his friends, his love. Arabella had supported him at first, sticking by him, telling him to reach for the stars. "Just don't forget to take me along with you, cowboy," she'd said once. Aubrey hadn't listened. He'd lost her. Oh well, it didn't matter. What mattered was that he was here, now, and he would see Aguamatisse. Aubrey came to a rocky platform. Pulling his optical enhancers from around his neck, he focused on the boulders surrounding him. He felt a breeze slide over him, heard a slight whistling. "If I didn't know better." he said to himself. He turned northward. A flash of sliver caught his eye. He climbed on top of a rock in front of him. "The crevice," he said. It was a narrow division, about a foot wide, between two very tall rocks. Every night, it was the crevice he had seen in his dreams. Just when he would reach the division, he'd awaken. "Well, what am I doing standing here? Hell, what am I doing talking to myself? Onward, Aubrey." As he walked up to the crevice, he removed his backpack from his shoulders. He shoved it through the division. Rubbing his hands together, he said to himself, "This is it, Aubrey. This is it." He sucked in his breath, and turning sideways, pushed himself through the crevice. On the other side, he came to his knees, breathing heavily. Aubrey looked up, then to his left, then to his right. There was nothing. It was blank space. Aubrey felt as if white walls surrounded him, as if he were inside a padded room, with no shadows, no barriers. He turned in a circle, still looking around, searching for some sign of something, of anything. It was all white. White, white, white. "What.?" he stammered, slapping himself to see if he was awake. When he determined he was awake and fully functional, he remembered his purpose. Trying to overcome his astonishment, he pulled his visual recorder from his backpack. Turning it to record, he raised itto his eyes. A message flashed across the screen. NO POWER SOURCE "Damn it!' he turned it off and no again. NO POWER SOURCE "Of course, there's no solar power here." Aubrey's visual recorder was of the latest technology, running on solar power, and having a battery that lasted for hours. "Should have left it in the sun. Damn battery's dead!" As if by marionette strings, Aubrey was raised from the ground. While he tried to break free from the mysterious force, his visual recorder slipped out of his hands. As he pawed for it, it disintegrated into the air. Aubrey frantically looked around himself. His surroundings remained desolate, empty. A sweat broke out on his forehead. There was something there, something evil, dark, and foreboding. He could feel a cold sensation running up his neck. Aubrey heard the same cry he'd heard earlier, Aguamatisse's cry. This time, it was louder, closer. It had no echo. It hung in the thick air of the void. Aubrey's body began to move. He was turning, somersaulting, cartwheeling. He started to float, higher and higher. Every time he tried to break free, his body would stiffen, as if it wanted to obey the mysterious force. His mind refused, though nothing was in his control anymore. Aubrey began to panic. His memories flew everywhere. His mother, looking down on him with love in her blue eyes. His father, slamming the door. Arabella, the first time he'd seen her. Arabella, looking down on him with love in her eyes. Arabella, slamming the door. The memories ceased their flight. He heard a galloping noise. His body turned, and then he saw it. Aguamatisse was just as he'd pictured, chrome-colored, man and unicorn. It was galloping towards him, closer, closer. He reached his arm out, not even surprised that it was back in his control. Almost there. His body jerked backwards, as though he was riding on a roller coaster, headed the wrong direction to nowhere. "NO!" Aubrey screamed. The words were a desperate screech that hung in the air. Aubrey's body continued its retreat, and Aguamatisse got farther and farther away. Aubrey continued floating and flying until Aguamatisse could be seen no more. He sunk to stand on his feet. So had been so had it been taken away from him? Aubrey fell to his knees, unsure of what else to do. Nothing, he had nothing now. His life would be a desolate, as painfully desperate, as his surroundings. Arabella was could never get her back now. As tears stung his eyes, his air pipe tightened. The atmosphere surrounding his was vacuuming, pressurizing his body. Aubrey's eyes rolled back in his head as he gasped for air. His lips faded until they blended with his surroundings. His skin turned blue. He fell to his back, spasms claiming his body. As his eyes closed, thoughts, memories, of Arabella turned around and around through his mind. His expelled the breath that remained, the spasms stopped. The void flickered, and then disappeared, taking Aubrey, taking Aguamatisse, fading into a dream world that exists only in the depths of the night.