The world was silent.
Not a single creature stirred on the cold Arctic ice; not a single breath of wind caressed the soft snow. Even the oil rig was silent, abandoned by the humans who worked on it.
And with not a soul in sight, the heavens could stir.
The stars shone coldly down onto the ice, projecting onto it an unearthly silver sheen. The moon hung low in the sky, its beautiful white glow muddled by the reddish fumes which still surrounded the area, even though the humans had left it. The reddish tint blocked out some of the stars closer to the horizon; one could only truly see the constellations nearest the sky's highest point.
But being blocked by a red haze didn't stop the stars.
They swirled down, their silver glimmer intensifying and forming lines, shapes, as animals emerged from the stars and walked down onto the frozen tundra. Down came a scorpion; down came an eagle; down came a horse, a wolf, a fox, a phoenix; they all walked down the sky to pad onto the silent ice. And chief among them was a bear; the animals bowed their heads in awe and respect as Ursa Major came into existence from the very center of the sky, and she shone brightest of all, for within her pelt she contained the North Star. And behind her followed her son; Ursa Minor scampered after his starry mother onto the Arctic. Ursa Major let out a terrific roar, and above them the sky lit up with brilliant flame; the aurora borealis danced above their heads.
"This is the first chance we've had since the humans invaded the Arctic to have a decent discussion," Taurus muttered, lashing his whiplike tail. "We can't come down to the ice when the humans are on it."
"Are they gone for good?" asked Ursa Minor; his starry eyes were dark with grief. "I don't like those things they use. They're loud and they let off all that red haze and it stings my eyes." As if to illustrate his point, he pawed at one of his eyes wearily. Ursa Major shifted closer to him.
"They're never gone," Scorpio hissed. "They never will be gone. They came to the ice with the intent of drilling oil, not caring about the effect that has on the animals we watch and care for. Do you really think they're going to leave anytime soon?"
"The oil won't last forever," Leo pointed out, his brilliant starry mane rippling like waves in the ocean. "They'll have to leave eventually."
"And what will happen to the animals?" asked Taurus, turning in a circle impatiently. "What will happen to the animals? They'll starve or be poisoned and die in the meantime. And what then?"
His words sent prickles of fear rippling among the gathered animals. Aries looked up.
"We've tried to give them signs," the silver ram snarled. "They know we exist; they know we are here in the stars. But they don't heed the warnings we give them. They think we're just a trick of the light."
"They do not interpret the signs," Serpens hissed. "How can we hope to change their ways?"
"Who said anything about changing their ways?" asked Aries.
"Nobody," Serpens agreed. "But that seems to be the only way they'll ever stop what they are doing to the earth."
"They don't interpret the signs," Cygnus agreed. "They know we exist, but clearly they have not been listening to us, or they would not believe that there are beings in the stars that we do not inhabit."
Silence fell over the group as the looked up. Through the dancing flames in the sky they could see the stars that no animal lived in; the stars where humans had tried to find meaning when there was none. There was Orion, and there was Hercules, and there was Virgo and there was Gemini, and the list went on. The humans had tried to find meaning in every star in the sky - and then they had disregarded the warnings the stars had tried to give them.
"If they won't obey the signs," Ursa Major said, breaking the silence, "what if they obey something else?"
Leo tilted his head. "What do you mean?"
"What if one of us managed to convince them... in a bodily form?"
Draco snorted. "That's impossible," he scoffed. "We couldn't do such a thing."
Ursa Major looked up, her eyes bright. "Couldn't we?" she asked quietly. The group was uncomfortably silent; they had doubted Ursa Major.
"What if Ursa Minor and I went down to the earth? There is a possibility we could do something to make them believe us, believe the signs, realize what they are doing to their earth."
"How would you do that?" asked Taurus. "You would just be a normal bear on the earth, no different from any other."
"Are you sure?" asked Ursa Major. "We are the constellations which govern this earth. Our powers are great; I'm sure I could find something to differentiate us."
"Like what?" asked Cygnus. "Being able to fly?"
Ursa Major shook her head. "No," she replied. "The constellations appear different to every human on this earth. We shape-shift. What if we were able to shape-shift in a bodily form?"
The group was silent as they took in what this meant.
"Wait," growled Lupus, "you're not suggesting -"
"But I am," Ursa Major interrupted. "I will give Ursa Minor the ability to shape-shift." She paid no heed to the fact that her only son was still standing right behind her. She knew he didn't know what they were talking about. "I promise you, we will be able to make a difference. I swear it on my honor."
The animals murmured assent. One by one, they wordlessly turned and stalked back into the sky. The aurora borealis was beginning to fade, and the stars once again began to glow in the reddish night. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor stayed motionless as the sky slowly filled with the constellations. Ursa Major began to pad away, over the ice, her starry paws leaving glittering trails as she went. "Come, Ursa Minor," she called, beckoning to her son. The smaller bear scampered after her. "We are going to earth."
She did not tell her son of the ominous future she had seen for herself. She did not tell her son of her impending death.