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Author's Note : A lot of this fic's plot (even if it's going to look like there isn't one for a long time) really doesn't make sense if you're not at least marginally aware of what happened in the manga. A few relevant things are Lucia becoming the new Aqua Regina and Michel being a chimera/clone with an identity of his own, rather his "true self" being the fossil. There are a number of powers in the manga not seen in the anime, like Michel's transforming flute (whips and bow + arrow), the Dream Circuit (a stairway that crosses the physical world and astral plane, which Seira can use kinda like a wormhole), a world healing wave that undid the results of that monster invasion that didn't happen in the anime either, etcetera.

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Himmel, Tenkai, Caelum, Cennet, Heaven, and a whole lot more words could describe Michel's new home as long as one limited their meaning to mystical realm far above earth full with feathery winged people. Would the meaning be expanded to, say, a happy place full of good people, then something was left to be desired.

The bitter truth was that the creatures of heaven beheld earth as their lost eden, like mankind often looked to heaven for paradise. There was no fire, forest or water here, let alone food, sleep or dreams. The Ancients were sustained by raw aether and a complicated art of illusions. As happy as Michel had been to find a family, he had started missing those things within a day.

Now, an unkind eleven years later, it wasn't getting any better. He'd been across all the sky castles in the thermosphere and the most real thing he had found was music.

Michel was in his own room, which was as glorious as ancient spirit magic could craft it and therefore absolutely perfect. The pillars were perfect, the curtains were perfect, the totally useless bed was perfect, the gold trimming was perfect, the sculptures and paintings were perfect and Michel was so bored he might have died if he wasn't a spirit already. There was way too much free time to think about himself and everything he didn't live up to. Focusing on anything else, whether it be (orange) mermaids, Fuku hatching more world plans, the distant awareness of Michal or his non-feathery winged family always led back that nagging little voice that said, "You jerk, you nearly tried destroying the world, stop whining and be a better person."

That was said easier than it was done. The Ancients didn't really need a new Emperor, since they didn't really have a life anyway. What hierarchy they had had been established millions of years ago, and Michel had no experience leading what so ever. At least, no experience that didn't involve abusing his underlings and commanding monsters to invade cities.

All of this amounted to him being nothing but a needy child surrounded by spirits so old they'd nearly forgotten what real life was like.

So it came that he was sitting on his bed, purely for pretending there was gravity here, and looking at a manmade satellite passing through his room. While this realm was invisible to human eyes, the Ancients could see into the core world just fine.

He had been told repeatedly to ignore the satellites, because touching them might bridge the two realms. For eleven years and a desire to not disappoint anyone had kept him from answering his curiosity.

Floating over, he reached out a hand. The satellite passed through it with a shimmer.

His expectations had been to see what the satellite saw, and perhaps those watching through the satellite would see a ghostly hand. That was not what he got.

All those who had somehow been involved in the satellite's creation, be it first, third or seventh generation, a rush of moments of a hundred lives poured into Michel's mind.

The first smile of a baby; the phone that rang when someone needed it; wordless signs of love; the trust of a child in her parents; all pieces of what life was worth living for. He also got the moments not worth anything. The beat-down girl in the kitchen while her boyfriend told her it was her own fault; the Alzheimer patient who forced a smile on his face for his wife; an engagement ring with a diamond that was harvested in blood.

As a spirit, the limitations of a moral brain to handle information were the last thing he expected. Overloaded with more information than he could handle, his sight became hazy and the surrounded became as silent as space without magic. Even the floor disappeared and he saw vague blotches of white and green below him, whatever land the castle was over now. He couldn't remember which, not enough room in his awareness right now.

There was just a feeling about how criminal it was that he was here, in peace, and down there, punishment came to innocents. Then he passed out.

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"True, they are not our kin on a biological level, but we're spirits now. It matters even less than before. Why did you send Lanhua, Lady Bat and Alala away?"

"They deserve a real life without being some sort of accessoire to me."

"You're saying that you don't deserve it, then?"

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"Fuku, have you lost your mind? Why in God's name did you do that?"

"Lord Michel, how can you have forgotten so easily? The old Michel would have been heartbroken to see his lovely earth destroyed as it is."

"Then what would he think of you unleashing a global meteorite shower?"

"He would surely not be that happy, but I only targeted the cities. He would have understood. Don't you, Michel? Nothing changed that day about our desire to save the planet, did it? Humans deserve to be taken down a few notches, abominations as they are."

"Oh, I'm understanding you perfectly well. Some things don't deserve forgiveness. Humans as a whole still have a chance, but I'm reconsidering the forgiveness I gave you."

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It was possible after all to feel ill in this realm, Michel learned upon waking up. The sticky unease of his astral body didn't approach the pain he'd known when an incomplete clone, so he bit it back and got off the divan.

"You really ought to rest, lord Michel."

Turning, he saw a form possible that of Yehariel, but his vision was still a bit blurry and the surrounded overlapped with the dark of space and stars. She was attending to a bowl with nectar, the chosen form of the food of spirits. Using her fingers, she wove the fake liquid into threads and finally bread, which she then took to Michel.

She gestured him to sit down again, but he stayed on his feet and just took the bread, eating it silently. He didn't have the focus to imagine a taste to it, so it was a hollow gesture. At least he got the energy from it.

"Oh, lord Michel ... you are not healing very well."

"I'm not Michel," he said sharply.

"That attitude is exactly what I mean," she said.

"Then you know it's impossible. I have the form of someone whom I will never live up to. This is the spirit realm, can't I get another form?"

"Even as spirits, we are bound to our biological origins. Even if it was possible to change appearance, we would ask you to reconsider. Losing one's form can be greatly traumatic to the point of warping the mind. Doctor Amagi wasn't always bent on sacrificing the world either, was he?"

Michel didn't look at her and chewed harder than necessary.

"Please walk with me, lord Michel," she said with a sigh.

"For another encouragement speech?" Michel muttered. He was aware of how unkind that sounded, but such things slipped out of him often before he could stop himself. Part of him wanted them to get angry with him and put him in his place, but he'd been waiting for that in vain.

She held open the door and he followed her to the outer perimeters of the sky castle, all the way to the landing platform. The last door open, they looked out onto the white fake marble and the real horizon beyond that, where the sun was eternally rising.

This castle drifted on the edge of the day, circling along with the planet so that the sun never disappeared beyond their horizon. Distant castles like their own were visible from here, all located on the same edge of light.

"Another side effect of changing your form would be that you would likely lose the ability to return to earth," Yehariel casually said.

This caught Michel by surprise. "Wait, what?"

"Unlike us, your Panthalassan and human heritage through Michal allows you a body to can live in earth's current atmosphere. You merely need to manifest, though be warned you'll be low on energy."

Michel wasn't even certain whether he was surprised over being told so casually this was apparently the reason the Ancients never came back to earth — it should be easy to grow them more spare bodies — or the idea he technically never had needed to leave Seira with a vague promise of return, instead could have just told her he's drop by next week if she liked him to.

"Why didn't anyone mentioned this for the past decade?"

"We asked you countless times whether you wanted to go visit any mermaids or earth."

"I thought you were trying to provoke some soul searching about whether I'd really changed my opinion about destroyed the world."

Yehariel sighed again and rubbed her forehead pointlessly.

"You interpreting it that way rather comes across as a product of your perpetual self loathing, Michel."

"Maybe, but I spent the first seven years of my life as a spirit trying to get a physical body. When sending Michal back, we had to put her into a baby's body, for goodness sake! Let's not get started on the bents I went through to get bodies for Lanhua, Alala and Lady Bat, at the cost of their magic. I've got a good reason to think it wouldn't be easy!"

"But not that it would be impossible. Honestly, lord Michel, you'd rather stick your hand into satellites than come ask us about visiting those three, not to mention Michal and Seira."

Yehariel, normally an epitome of serenity as all Ancients were, was starting to look vexed to Michel's clearing eyes. It was dawning on him again that he was being horribly rude. The Ancients, his family, had always been patient with him, understanding and —

"I'm sorry for that remark, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful, I just —" he hurried to explain, but fell silent when she held up a hand.

"Well, lord Michel, I am about to deliver the mother of all soul searching speeches."

Michel started to feel uneasy for an entirely different reason. He didn't like to disappoint anyone.

"After seeing what happened to you today, we have come revoked an earlier decision. Lord Michel, you've spend enough time here tormenting yourself while trying to satisfy what you think we expect of you." With that, she shoved Michel out of the gate. Caught unaware, he stumbled across the marble floor and over the edge, spreading his wings on instinct.

He floated there for a moment, wondering whether he was hallucinating something as a result of the vision overload or ... turning around, he saw Yehariel smiling way too much and closing the door, and the aether stream feeding him. Nope, not hallucinating.

"You're kicking me out?"

"Why, yes. We're your family, we love you, so we're giving you something to do. Here's your flute," she said as she tossed him the golden instrument.

"But what am I supposed to do?"

"Go to Earth, off course. Go find your mutant animals."

"They're still around?"

"Certainly. Don't worry, they are being taken care of, but maybe you should check to make sure. Goodbye, and bring us home some beautiful memories!"

The gate shut with a loud slam of magically emphasized sound, then the dead silence of space set in and the sky castles became less substantial.

"What the heck?" Michel whispered to himself.

Millions of years of no experience with traumatized angels showed in Yehariel's approach to sending him on his way. Still, Michel was less offended than confused. Besides, who was he to be offended by anything? He once had eaten people alive, after all.

If he just stayed and asked to be let in repeatedly, he knew they would eventually open up. Whether he'd face the humiliation he'd feel and their disappointment, that was another question altogether. Besides, the blue on the horizon was rather inviting.

He didn't know what to begin with himself and didn't have any answers, except one : they were right, staying here was a dead end. The least he could do was head forward.

Or downward, same difference.

As if on cue, a form manifested on the horizon, not too far away. A brownhaired girl with a glowing cross on her forehead, he easily recognized her as Michal. Whether that was an astral projection or illusionary magic responding to him and a growing connection to earth, he didn't know.

She waved at him and then pointed down to Earth. At the same moment, a familiar song broke the silence. He smiled, as always, when he didn't want to. Seira's song never failed to.

Don't fear journeys. You can go forth in them with your blinding courage ...

The little orange mermaid who had been the first to reach out to him ... he'd seen her only a few times when visiting Michal as spectral form. After Michal had learned of her past, she had taken to making photographs and posting them on her wall. On them, Seira always seemed happy, he wondered how accurate that was. Michal always looked happy too on those photos, though he knew she was not. He still had a spiritual link to her, he knew enough.

In order to light up the dark galaxy, I'll pass the meaning of the light of life to you.

He'd actually heard these lyrics for years, but only at times when he needed to feel better. Not when thinking about how others felt.

Even the map written out for you in the future can be changed.

He spread his four wings, jumped off the castle and descended, with the song as his guidance. Time to change do the world some favors for a change.

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