Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Gabriel pushed open the cockpit canopy of his shattered craft and watched as it broke free, tearing away at the hinge to fall to the earth below.

He wept.

Ahead of him, a tree many times as tall as his craft was long lay broken, it’s roots exposed from the soil, it’s trunk now battered horizontal to the ground. Gabriel felt the tightening in his chest, the warmth of tears course down his face. Heedless of the sharp, ragged edges of his vessel where it had been gored by the forest it had so ruthlessly torn through, Gabriel descended to the ground.

From the lower vantage point, he could more easily see the scorched tunnel through the woods behind him; broken trees and burnt undergrowth, some of it still in flames. The furrow he’d dug as he decelerated was charred black, poisoned now, he knew, from the fuel and other fluids leaking from his ship.

Above the crackling chatter of the flames slowly consuming his ship, blue and green tongues licking out from within, there was no other sound. All the life that had been here before his arrival appeared to have fled, no doubt terrified of the screaming ball of fire cast from the heavens to disturb the afternoon peace of their home.

The destruction he’d caused was more than he could bear and, clutching his head in long fingered hands, Gabriel fell to the earth and sobbed.

After some time he composed himself, struggled back to his feet and began trudging back alongside the trench his craft had dug towards the opening where he’d first penetrated the forest.

As he walked, he reached out and touched the damaged trees and bushes, letting the flames burn him where they still flickered, and the blackened remains draw long lines of ash across the bluish flesh of his body. The flames raised purplish welts that faded slowly, the ashen smudges remained until they were redefined by something new.

Gabriel absorbed as much of the pain of the forest as he could manage as he made his way to the sunlit opening at the end of the wooded tear.

Emerging from the woods at the side of the roadway he was confronted by two frightened men and a wheeled vehicle, the men both brandishing weapons and chirping in threatening, guttural tones, unclear in meaning but crystal in intent.

Gabriel began to weep again for the destruction he would have to bring.

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