Greek legend dictates that Aether, Primordial god of the Universe, separated its vastness into galaxies to maintain order and balance. Hera, the powerful goddess of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and queen of all gods, organized her expansive domain into solar systems and she granted each system a great burning star to rule and provide life.
Helios, the powerful god of the Sun and ruler of our solar system, designed each unique planet and presides over them. Charged with originating life, Helios molded Gaia, the Goddess of Earth, to keep life safe and provide it with a suitable and thriving home, the only life granting planet in our solar system.
Gaia’s diverse ecosystems of life were born from the careful and methodical evolution of all living things. She granted humans the exceptional intellect of mind, the intricate composition of physical bodies, and the knowledge to prioritize the life of the planet, and of one another. These gifts of life aided humans in protecting Gaia and themselves.
Helios is protective over each of his planets, but must ensure that his life-giving planet, Earth (Gaia), survives and maintains Aether’s plan of a universe in balance. Gaia’s safety concerns Helios, and he will do anything to protect her.
So begins the Legacy.
They were shopping for a baby’s crib when Katherine lost her balance and fainted. “We were just chatting and waiting for the trolley!” Finn informed her as she attempted to piece together what happened.
Katherine stared up at strangers while feeling the most intense pain of her life, in the back of an ambulance racing down a busy street during the height of the summer tourist season in Brighton. Katherine and her unborn baby’s life were in jeopardy, and the young couple’s fears about the unplanned pregnancy just became their stark reality.
“It’s too soon!” Finn said to himself in a hush. “It’s only August 8th!” his sobs muffled his words, but she still heard them over her own cries of pain.
Finn’s gaze met his wife’s, and she tried to keep him from seeing her fear. His loving, large, brown eyes always looked at his wife with the greatest sense of adoration, and Katherine could always use Finn’s eyes as an indicator of his emotions.
She had a lot on her mind as she began the labor process a few short hours ago, prior to their impromptu ambulance ride to the hospital. Katherine shrieked in agony, realizing she wasn’t experiencing the normal labor pains of a woman about to give birth with no serious complications.
She was only a few days into her seventh month of pregnancy, and with this being her first child, they were already on edge about the baby. Katherine was very slight in her physique, and most people who met her didn’t notice that she was expecting.
* * *
They planned their lives well, as they did their first date, engagement to be married, wedding, and renting their first, very modest apartment.
“How could this have happened? Do you remember having a successful night?” Katherine asked Finn while facing him, holding the home pregnancy test.
Finn responded with a great deal of embarrassment, “Of course, I… I think it was that time after dinner near the pier… we had heaps of wine, remember?” Finn was a tall, attractive young man who always saw himself as virile and capable.
His inability to perform, now married, was a complete mystery. He loved Katherine and wanted to share everything with her. It was as if his body was rejecting their sexual intimacy.
Since their wedding day, Katherine couldn’t remember having an intimate night with Finn that ended in any activity that would cause the conception of this child. In fact, she remembered only failed attempts at intimacy. That didn’t matter to her, though, because she was in love with her husband and they were both very inexperienced.
“We didn’t plan the baby, so what? No one needs to know that minor detail of our lives,” she recalled Finn commenting.
She tossed her used pregnancy test into the waste can and tried not to fall to pieces in front of the young husband she so adored.
* * *
Thousands of kilometers from Brighton, Li Jie sat on the side of his modest bed. He thought about living the last one hundred years, through World War II and every major conflict that followed, to the current time, the age of extreme modernity, convenience and massive losses to the environment. He prepared himself for bed and unfolded the starch-crisp, white bedsheets from their fixed and tucked ensemble. His face was still quite youthful in appearance, with the lines of a life well-lived, despite most of it being marred with sadness and tragedy.
With the bustling activity of the busy Beijing streets below his apartment, Li Jie finished the letter he began writing many years ago, placed it within its clean envelope, and closed his eyes for the very last time.
At the exact moment Li Jie’s eyelids closed, Katherine pushed so hard she felt her organs shift, her bones crack and her breath grow shallow. Katherine was aware of what had happened and what was about to happen. She understood that her newborn daughter had done irreparable damage to her delicate frame. Katherine looked down at her baby being cleaned, looked at Finn’s doting eyes changing before her very own as he realized her fatal condition.
Gone before she could hold her daughter, Katherine would never learn her baby’s name. Finn called for his wife as the light dimmed from her eyes while he held their newborn, premature baby girl. He held his breath as he struggled to hold his daughter’s tiny, fragile body.
Finn named her Ellen, Katherine’s middle name.
* * *
Eleven years prior to his death, on his eighty-ninth birthday, Li Jie received a letter and his life changed forever. He suffered from a heroin addiction that ruined his relationship with his son and depleted much of the retirement savings he worked so hard to collect throughout his working years. The night they approached him with the letter, Li Jie was going through a difficult withdrawal to end the destructive cycle of this deadly habit.
There was a heavy knock at the door. “Who would knock on this door?” Li Jie asked himself, as the sweat rolled down his face, soaking the sheets under him.
The knocking, as it went unanswered, turned into banging, then what sounded like kicking. A tall young man forced open the door and stepped out of the way to reveal a less intimidating, but much older woman. She paid the man, then shuffled into Li Jie’s small, dark and stale studio apartment.
The woman handed him a letter and instructed him to read it and take every word seriously. She touched his clammy, pale face and apologized for her delay in delivering the letter. The stranger kissed his forehead with care, and exited the apartment through the door, now hanging wide open.
As she passed through the damaged door frame, she stopped, turned around to face him and said, “Li Jie, you must believe in, and act on, the instructions in the letter, for the sake of us all.” The old woman turned back to the hallway and continued to walk away.
Li Jie would have chased after the woman, but when he strained to stand he collapsed under the insignificant weight of his frail physique, emaciated from years of battling the demons of his addiction. The woman was much older than Li Jie, but she was driven with tenacity by her role in the Legacy that robbed him of any shred of his own.
Li Jie’s hands shook as he opened the folded letter to read its contents, each word written to him from someone he’d never met. The letter discussed how his mother died during his own birth, which led to his father’s suicide when Li Jie was only fourteen years old, forcing him to raise himself from that point to today, his last day on Earth. Li Jie, beaten and scarred, as the letter discussed, was his birthright, and the intended outcome of his entire existence was the ability to see the beauty in humanity, a realized outcome.