“We eat life, not sunshine.”
Shielding his dark eyes from the desert brightness, Sitanni surveyed the acres and acres of solar panels filling the valley floor and waited for Jub to respond to his provocation. It didn’t come. Jub stood silent soaking in the sunshine, thin and welcome in mid-winter.
“Life gives us muscle. Muscle makes us conquerors.” Sitanni patted his ample gut sure that Jub would try to slit his throat soon. If not today, by the end of the week. The rapacious rules Sittani lived by required it.
“You cannot change these things, Jub. The energy your solar farms collect will only feed my appetites. My designs. I will devour you.”
Jub’s green eyes flashed but his voice was threadbare. “Are you so hungry?”
Sitanni smiled. Jub spoke like death. He liked that.
“You mistake hunger for destiny, my brother. You cannot cut out the middle man. You cannot deny my pound of flesh. Going off grid or creating your own doesn’t change the basic equation, the underlying DNA of our predatory hierarchy. My muscle says I will feed first.”
“Not if I eat sunshine.”
“Does this desert teach you nothing?” Sitanni asked, losing patience. “You will starve. I will starve you.”
“In such abundance?”
Jub’s mildness put Sitanni on alert. He would strike soon. “Come, Jub, submit to sense. You cannot survive without me. It is the way of things.”
“There is always another way. Always,” Jub proclaimed turning his emerald eyes to the sun. He stared directly into it, unblinking.
For the first time in many years, Sitanni was unnerved by the thought of imminent death. Jub would really kill him. Feast on his time-tested muscle. “Another way? You are sun-crazed.”
“Precisely.” The glow of Jub’s eyes bathed his whole face. His whole aura. “I have learned all from the desert. From its light. It is not only my solar panels that harness the sun.”
Jub’s aura continued to brighten. “I’ve modded my DNA. I am no longer like you or your kind. I do eat sunshine.” The air around him crackled with threat. “And I will outmuscle you.”
Sitanni backed away. “What have you done? What have you become?”
“Much more than a conqueror. I am now a conduit. To channel the might of our sun.” Jub flexed his hand and sizzling bolts scorched the earth. “Are you still so hungry, my brother?”
His question cut like a knife, with which Sitanni sorely wished Jub had cut his throat ages ago.