The planets themselves are alive and conscious – drawing their sentience and their powers from the elemental material, which we mistakenly refer to as gemstone, that constitutes their cores. Each planet’s element is distinct from another’s, much like a fingerprint.
The planets are the offspring of the Sidera, the stars. The Sidera are entirely composed of “pure” element. It is pure in the sense of a full spectrum – the Siderean element consists of every type of planetary element. When they created the planets, they gave each a small section of their own element (or their own colour/wavelength of the full spectrum, so to speak). Because each star is made of this element, they are essentially the same being occupying different locations in space. They thus speak as one mind. The Sidera are not entirely omnipotent, but possess knowledge, foresight and power beyond that of any planet.
Should a planet choose to create children, a sentient species, of their own, they must first make their surface hospitable for the particulars of the species they will be fashioning. Once this task is completed, taking eons, they must then approach one of the three Alpha Planets - Gaia, Sage and Oliblish - to receive instructions on how to create their children. This information is not common knowledge because it is considered sacred to create a sentient species. More recently (if thousands of years can be called “recent”) it has also become potentially dangerous to the planet because to bestow a species with sentience they must be imbued with a portion of the planet’s own element. The danger lies in the occurrence of the soulstone phenomenon, which will be discussed later.
The first child created by a planet is called the “Eve”. If the species is gendered, the Eve is always of the child bearing sex – typically female. The Eve’s blood is entirely composed of the planet’s element, granting her powers akin to that of the planet. The Eve eventually chooses one singular power to control via the element (though the planet is subject to no such restrictions). Subsequent generations are also privy to this power, though the element concentration in the blood is gradually diluted and the powers of the children fade until they are mere myth.
Some planets chose to interact with their children and create a Manifest Stone for doing just this. It is a densely concentrated collection of their element, typically shaped as a cabochon, which allows them to focus their energies on their surface and to manifest an ethereal form with which their people can communicate. While all planets interact with the early generations of their progeny, most do not maintain the relationship for long…
“For a time, my siblings rejoiced in their children, but eventually they grew weary and drifted off into sleep. It was a deep sleep, with deep, slow dreams - dreams sweeter than waking. And so they spent more time in sleep until finally they forgot to wake again - their children naught but a fading memory.
But there was something that woke them... for a time.”
This brief and unwelcome awakening was the advent of the soulstone phenonmenon, a plague which was sweeping over the childbearing planets. At first it was dismissed as trivial, but during a planetary council it was revealed that it had claimed the life of Jericho and his children. The Alpha Planets explained the soulstone phenomenon in Chapter III:
“When we sleep deeply, the matter of our cores disperses, and tiny quantities of our element leak to the surface. But the free element does not die, or go dormant. It remains alive, and even dimly aware. It desires to return to the core, but cannot.
So instead, it seeks out the only other consciousness available: our children! And it ... infuses itself into them.”
“Over time, the element accumulates in the host. It prefers an existing host, and so the bearer attracts more and more. Eventually, it reaches a critical mass. Once that occurs, the element will crystallize into a symbiant jewel, a soulstone, when the host experiences an intense emotion.
As it assumes its final form, the soulstone reacts to the energy resonance of the core. It begins to channel that energy so that suddenly the host gains access to vast power - as much as an Eve, but unnaturally so!”
“But the children are too frail to wield such power. The soulstone forms, crystallizes, and then the surge of power annihilates both host and stone. And that is what killed Jericho. he slept deep, and became dissolute. Countless soulstones formed and disintegrated, countless children perished! His mass ebbed away until finally his mind died, leaving nothing but a husk of sterile, lifeless jewels.”
The initial theory was that inactivity was causing the element leakage – but Gaia revealed that despite her constant vigilance, she had experienced an extinguished soulstone as well. With wakefulness no longer providing a cure, the planets were at a loss until a nameless planet, later known as Beluosus, submitted a plan:
“… If it is proximity to the parent world that brings about its demise, then surely distance is the answer to this problem. Therefore, we must remove the host from their homeworld to another one, until host and stone may be separated without harming either.”
The Sidera and the Council approve of the plan itself, but decide that it must be a childless planet who carries it out. The then nameless Earthsong hesitates at first, but willingly volunteers for the task, forsaking her own unborn children which she had hoped to create soon. The Sidera accept her offer and give her the tools necessary to fulfill her duties as “Stonekeeper”: the Siderean Throne, which grants her access to the ample power of the Sidera, and two swords, also made of Siderean element, which Earthsong does not understand the use for, but humbly accepts.
Earthsong thrives in her Stonekeeper role, loving the visiting children as her own. But it did not last...
“I had for some time been experiencing what I thought were false soulstone alarms. I felt the formation, but when I reached for the stone… nothing. I was mystified at first, but one day - that day - the reason became all too clear! I was conversing with a group of my eldest children when I sensed it…”
Beluosus, mysteriously torn asunder shortly after the council and thought dead, reveals himself to have survived - though at what cost? He arrives on Earthsong's surface and begins to kill the children for their soulstones, using a "vile power" unfamiliar to Earthsong to warp their energies. After having shattered Earthsong's manifest stone, he collects the pieces and heads for the throne. Nanashi fruitlessly attempts to attack him, resulting in the partial removal of her soulstone which she manages to halt through channeling sheer willpower through the stone. The Sidera, observing the encounter via the throne, choose to save Nanashi by converting her soulstone to Siderean element and infusing her blood with the same - though it it not entirely converted to element like that of an Eve's. With her new found powers and the Siderean swords at her disposal, Nanashi disintegrates Beluosus' manifest stone and heals Earthsong's.
Their respite is brief, however, as Beluosus has brought the remnants of his entire core to Earthsong's surface and begins forming a new manifest stone immediately. He also unleases an army of soulstone laden children which he had collected and corrupted previous to arriving - the cause of the "false alarms". A great battle ensues and both sides are nearly decimated...
The war continues to this day, with each side fighting over every new arrival, for a single child could tip the scales. Earthsong used to be able to pull a child to an exact location, but since the arrival of Beluosus, he pulls at the energies she uses, ensuring only that they arrive within a particular radius of the Haven, the hidden fortress where the throne and the manifest stone are kept safe. Beluosus himself has not been seen in centuries, choosing to act through his minions instead. The motivations of his initial attack are still unknown, but the threat of his continued presence is most certain.
Aside from her comic making, Crystal enjoys playing her guitar - or rather would enjoy playing her guitar if her sons would let her - reading, mythology, Star Trek, henna tattooing, collecting fonts, cartoons, comics, coconut, concerts, cooking and alliteration with a side of pun. She thinks of herself as a "Tomgeek", a woman whose interests lie in the stereotypically geeky male domain, which inspired her to found the all-female webcomic collective, tomgeeks.com, in November 2007, which is open to any female creator.
Born in 1980, she was married in April 2006, has two adorable boys, and is currently persuing a career in the eternally underappreciated profession of a full-time mom while moonlighting as a comic artist. Needless to say, Crystal has yet to become a museum curator or teacher, but life seldom turns out as expected, eh?