Twin Thalocs

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Author: Chaos Jaguar

She cried out wordlessly, soundlessly... or at least, she thought she did. Her hearing had long been lost; her sight had been taken from her, she could smell nothing, and even her sense of touch had faded away. Although she had no food in her mouth - if she still possessed such a thing - she was relatively sure that she would taste nothing even if she did.

She didn't know if she'd even been a `she.' She couldn't remember, she had been in this place (whatever it was) for so long. She thought she was a female, but had none of the memories to back the thought up, couldn't touch herself to check, couldn't really tell if she thought she was female simply because she didn't know what she was and she couldn't exist in this state of mind if she wasn't sure of something, anything.

Her emotions, the only things that counted as feelings now that she couldn't feel any physical sensations, spiraled outwards and downwards. She could have sworn that they were a soft grayish blue in color, but she had neither the eyes nor the memory to make sure of it. She let her consciousness trail down the path her emotions took, spiraling along miserably. She pretended she was in a stream winding down a curvy stream-bed, rapids boiling at the point where anger pointed up through the overwhelming despair she was beginning to feel, and there it was. The stream then became wisps of smoke pouring up from the streambed, wandering along aimlessly, without purpose, simply drifting in the winding blackness that was her mental scenery.

Eventually, she recalled the rocks. The stream. She remembered that even know, she was a smoky substance floating in this new `here' that she had been trapped in (although she had no recollection of being trapped, just a vague sense that she had been here an eternity).

She didn't need to see with her eyes, she didn't need a body, she had everything she needed right here! The smoke lightened from darkest gray to an almost white, laughter bubbling along the edges of the smoke. She paused her slow drifting and considered what she could do with this new information. After a time, the smoke swirled inwards, collapsing in on itself and outlining what was to be her new body.

She thought - remembered? - that she had always been fascinated with animals. She had utter control over her form here in this mindscape that had become her new life; perhaps she should be one of the creatures she was so fond of? Abruptly, the smoke billowed outwards again, but it didn't spread out the way it had before. It merely circled around itself, chasing itself, forming itself into a sphere-like shape. A moving bubble of... essence. With a start, she realized that she had been thinking too small again - she could literally be whatever she wanted. The trilling sound of joy that was also pure innocence drifted through the place, assuring her that she was still capable of hearing. It deepened into a light rumble, setting the smoke to vibrating lightly. The sound reminded her slightly of a cat's purr, which called to mind a fairy tale that she had heard somewhere before. She remembered winged kittens, given the power to speak with angels or demons. Vaguely, she recalled that they were also associated with death, and this troubled her briefly; she wanted nothing to do with death, for she was bringing herself new life. The smoke darkened just a bit.

She turned this new thought over; it was a pearl drifting from one fleck of smoke to another, tossed gently, roughly, from one seam to another. What was life without death? She knew that all things had a cycle, and that cycle both ended and began at death. She had, in a sense, already experienced that death, she supposed - certainly being trapped inside her thoughts with nothing but the empty blackness that surrounded her even now counted as a form of death? She had almost lost herself, spread thin through the atmosphere - or non-atmosphere - of this existence.

But she had come back, like the phoenix of legend. She had been reborn, in a sense. Her feelings had become concrete, instead of the abstract things they had always been before. She had crafted from them first a stream, then rocks, then smoke. She had given herself life, in a way.

Thaloc it was then, for now if nothing else. After all, she had no reason to hold the form if she tired of playing in it! The smoke whirled faster, tightening in on itself once more. First it was a vague outline, nothing discernable from its form. Then the suggestion of wings and paws appeared, head piecing itself together out of thin air. Fur rippled over the form, starting at the snout and working its way backwards as the form behind it solidified. The wings stretched up, out, snapping in the air as they struggled to get physical feeling. The tail - her tail! - weaved back and forth, and suddenly she was looking into darkness from eyes that could see through infinity. She grinned to herself, though it shouldn't have been possible. Her captors had certainly not intended for this to happen, surely! Her feline lips stretched up and back, a mockery of anything humanity would recognize. She delighted in the feeling of muscle movements after so long without them, delighted in the way her new body curved beautifully and agilely through the blackness, blending in perfectly. The pearly white of her wings gave off an eerie, ghostly glow as she twisted her head to examine them more closely. Twice the length of her body, they were detailed beyond belief, the barb of each feather perfectly crafted and joined with the shaft effortlessly. The feathers themselves seemed to be liquid, the way they bent and shifted with each wing beat.

Her ears flicked from one side to the other, searching for a playmate to share her joy with. There was no one, and for a moment her tail stopped its movements and her head hung lower than it should have at a time like this.

She wondered, 'could I create someone to play with?' For a moment, she doubted herself, doubted this new land that she was making. Her form seemed to waver, and she almost lost contact with it... but she refused to go back to that horrible nothingness, would not be locked away inside her own mind again. She solidified, wings glowing more luminescent than ever. Her eyes took on a spark of defiance, radiating light as well. She stomped her paws and hissed - she had come back, she was here, she would not let it be taken away!

She turned her attentions to the task at hand, putting the anger aside for use at a later date if she should need it. What form should her playmate take? She wanted someone who could fly as well as she - it would be no fun, otherwise. She wanted someone as agile, as graceful, as lithe as her as well; what fun would it be to dash, twist, and wind through this place if her companion couldn't keep up? Her lips pulled back in another smile - fellow Thaloc it would be, then. Tilting her head to the side, she wondered just how she was to accomplish this task. She herself had come from something, smoke that had been a stream that was also rocks, that had been... what? She tried to remember.

Emotions. Her tail twitched faster, anxiety and curiosity entwined throughout her being with a thousand other things that she couldn't name. She tilted her head the other way, desire burning inside of her. She wanted this, but she was afraid of it - the intenseness of her feelings seemed near ready to tear her in two. She collapsed all of her feelings into a ball inside of her, centered deep in her belly to free her mind so she could think. Then, she was struck with a thought - she had been crafted from emotions; why shouldn't her partner? She imagined the balled up emotions drifting up through her abdomen and entering her lungs, and when she thought that they were all there, she breathed out, once, sharply. Light poured from her mouth, smoke billowed up from the edges of it.

Spreading out, the light and smoke seemed unsure for a moment of what its purpose was, like it was simply going to dissipate into nothingness as she had almost done. Had she been light, too? She couldn't remember. No matter; she willed the smoke to join in on itself, willed the light to pull itself together. She let her mind call to this substance that seemed so very fragile. Her mind seemed to reach out, guiding the smoky light back in towards itself. She seemed to be having little effect at first, but then it seemed to get the idea and swirled inwards, slowly at first, then more swiftly. As she herself had done, the smoke and light formed into a sphere at first, then coalesced into a Thaloc as well. Except... where her fur was black, this one's was white; where her wings were light, this one's was dark. It studied her for a moment, eyes boring into her own. She could sense it reaching out to her mentally, and she reached for it as well.

Twin viewpoints, alternating, blending, merging, they were one and yet two -

Amber eyes, silver eyes -

Black fur, white fur -

And then she was two, not one, again. There remained the connection, though, and should she reach for it, it would be there. She grinned and started purr-laughing then, the sound rumbling around them, and lowered her head playfully. Her twin grinned back, a twinkle in his eyes as he tackled her. They rolled through the nothingness, paws swiping at each other with claws pulled in, biting one another good-naturedly as each roughhoused with the other.

For a time, there was just the chase, the hunt, the capture, cycling over and over again. Then almost simultaneously, they looked at one another and knew that they wanted more. Settling themselves comfortably in the blackness, they looked around. Where to begin? What to create first?

Tilting their heads, they looked at one another. They remembered an old creation myth from sometime before - "Let there be light." It seemed a good a place as any to start, and so they focused their attentions on a place some distance away. They remembered the sun, though they didn't need to worry about the chemistry or makeup of it, here. They set the rules - it would be self-sustaining for so long, then it would enter its death phase, as all things must - and let their will do the rest. The focus of their eyes seemed to start a fire, fierce and bright, and it swelled outwards. They should have been burned by the ferociousness of it, but they were the ones making the laws for this place, and simply bent their essences out of the way of danger. They strolled among the fire for a while, judging if it was good enough, stable enough to last long enough to become the basis for life. It was.

For life to exist, however, it had to have a place to stay and grow; and so they formed a planet for this life to thrive on. Molten rock bubbled up from nowhere, the edges of it solidifying as it came into contact with reality. The surface churned, spewed up pieces of the core, only to have the bottom layer dissolve into the core again. As all things, it was a cycle, and eventually it stabilized. They looked at one another, satisfaction glowing within them. They flew closer to examine their new planet, and their twin purr-rumbles echoed around it, the sound solidifying into the air that would support and shield the life that was to come as it flowed over the ground effortlessly.

Their task was not done yet, however - there was still no life. And so they lighted upon the planet's surface, their paws causing greenery to sprout wherever they touched. They laughed again, and spontaneously sprang towards one another. Why shouldn't the creation of life be fun? Again, they wrestled; again, they played with one another. Every high place was covered with grass; where there was a natural hollow in the ground, there was none. They leaped from high place to high place, occasionally lifting themselves into the air and letting the wind stream through their feathers simply for the joy of flying.

They looked down, and saw that some of the plants - those first created - weren't doing well at all. Momentarily puzzled, they remembered that they had forgotten to create water. Grinning at one another - they had realized their error in time, after all - they flew down to the hollows and breathed on them, their breath combining and forming into the water that was just as important as everything else in sustaining and creating new life. The water poured from them in great torrents, splashing about as it reached up towards the high places, trying to touch the greenery that was so lush and seemed so happy.

They blinked at one another. Water had feelings? Of course, they agreed at the same time. It came from them, after all! Everything they had created so far had feelings, in one sense or another. Grinning again, they dove in. The water welcomed them, sliding into any nook and crevice it could find, covering every inch of them and hugging them close. It begged them to be given the pleasure of supporting life as the air had been given and the twins complied. Their lungs - gills now - drew the water in to absorb the oxygen and pushed it out to expel the carbon dioxide. Their paws became fins, their wings much larger fins. A dorsal fin grew up on their backs, following along it until it reached the ends of their tails, where it tapered off. In addition, their torsos elongated and narrowed, enabling them to cut through the water as supply as they had flown through the air. They had essentially become the water dragons of ancient lore, and wherever they swam, miniature plant life - phytoplankton as they remembered it was called - sprang up in their wake. The water seemed to thank them, but even as they continued playing, they sensed that something was still missing... because they were playing, however, they didn't think about what it was.

After a time, they remembered that the plants, although life, were not the life they had wanted so badly. The plants could not swim with them, could not move on their own. And so they paused, and summoned from their memory the image of flashing scales and quick, darting movements. Fish appeared around them, dashing among themselves and their creators. It became a game, seeing who was more agile.

The twins and the fish played together, the twins occasionally creating other species and creatures who all had a place in the cycle and could add to their fun. They created coral and seaweed, both of which would help stabilize their creations' environment. Through it all, there was the background of the water's emotions, laughing when they laughed. Time passed. They took to the air again, leaving the water sorrowful that it could not be with them forever, and returned to their Thaloc forms. They replicated their efforts underwater on the land, bringing life to it as well. Creatures great and small joined them in play, feeding when they were hungry and dying to give new life. The cycle had established itself, and they were happy. It was time to move on, time to create more life elsewhere. but they wanted to be a part of this always.

And so they began wondering how they could experience this living and dying, this constant renewal, this fun, even after they had gone elsewhere to create different forms of life that wouldn't damage the fragile ecosystem they had set up here. Looking around them, they realized that they were already a part of it - each thing had come from them, each creation was gifted with their own essence. All they had to do was open themselves to that connection, as they had opened themselves to each other at the beginning.

Laughing, they let a part of themselves join mingle with their creations, then left the planet to play elsewhere, to bring the gift of life - and through life, death - to other planets. They were born, they lived, and they died... but their essence never changed as they repeated this cycle over millennia.