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Radiant Fire, to Things Ephemeral

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The title is taken from Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound.


Humans had war five thousand years ago, and ten thousand years ago, and fifteen thousand years ago. Of course they did. War in those days meant a band of twenty men raiding the neighboring village with bronze swords or wooden clubs or whatever stones they could find lying on the ground. Leeloo didn't like it then, but it wasn't anything compared to the darkness she was created to stop. There was no question that humanity was better off as they were than wiped out entirely.

It was not like war now.

The atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb and napalm and automatic machine guns and jet fuel and nerve gas and land mines and death, death, death. Blight as far as the eye could see, massacre, the long past end of the age when decimation was a terrible loss in a battle and genocide could happen.

Leeloo didn't understand it. The Mondoshawan had fusion and fission and the odd things you could open up when you started playing with quarks. The divine light they had created her to reveal was a kind of clean radiation that came from opening up a rent in time and letting out some of the stranger particles from the birth of the universe. The Mondoshawan had all these things, but they had never turned them to destruction. The Mondoshawan did not know how to fight. They didn't even consider her a weapon: it was the human priests who had named her that.

A weapon against evil, they named her. The ultimate weapon, they named her.

The Mondoshawan had named her Hope-Bearer, Fire-Bringer, Mother-of-All-Life.

In human stories, the woman who had hope in a box released every fear and terror and hatred into the world, never to be recaptured.

In human stories, the one who brought fire from the heavens was chained to a rock for an eagle to eat his liver for eternity.

In human stories, the first mother took knowledge from the tree of life, and was punished with pain in childbirth for herself and all her daughters to come.

And while Leeloo has never given birth to a child of her own womb, she has given life; been the fountain of life that pours from the beginning of all things, and it does hurt. She screams to open up that rent in space and time in her own body, to be the vessel for the endless light, to fill up and spill over and burn with life. Even though it's only a few moments every five thousand years, it does feel like an eternity.

She never thought of it as a punishment until the humans named it that in their stories. She thought of if as a sacrifice. A pain not separate from life, not an artificially imposed judgement, but a part of life itself. Yes, to birth life, a single life or all life, hurts: because you are tearing out part of yourself and giving it autonomy.

And it's worth it, isn't it? It's a worthy sacrifice, isn't it?

Leeloo had always thought so before. But now--but now--the reason for all those stories, the reason those who brought knowledge were punished, and knowledge itself was a horror--

Humans took everything they knew and bent it on destruction, on war, on killing for killing's sake, it seemed.

Leeloo is not a pacifist. Leeloo is a protector, as all mothers are protectors, and Leeloo has always fought to fend off darkness for light. There are always those who don't understand, who try to steal the stones for their own glory, their own power, who think that darkness will not touch them, will be grateful. She has killed them before. She has killed them now.

There are those who, maybe, actually understand what the darkness is, how evil, how complete the death of the universe will be. They are angry at everything and suicidal enough to invite the darkness in. There is a sickness in their heads that makes them so. These, Leeloo kills out of mercy. She kills them to protect those they would hurt, as well, but also because at heart, they want to die. She will not let them take the whole universe with them, but she will let them die.

Yet now it seems as if the whole universe is populated by such people. Humans kill and kill and kill and they do not seem to care if they are triumphant, if they protect their own, because they lose millions to their wars and pour more soldiers in, never stopping, never calling for peace.

Except--Korben Dallas got out. Korben Dallas was a soldier once, a fighter pilot, but six months ago he mustered out. He wanted no more to do with fighting. When the men came for her, the police, and she asked him for his help, he helped, but he did not want to fight: he ran. He carried her away from danger.

Korben Dallas has been fighting now, but the fight came to him. Trouble follows Leeloo and Korben Dallas follows Leeloo too, and he's gotten mixed up in her fight. She tried to tell him no, that she would protect him, that he didn't need to protect her, but it's hard to refuse his help when she asked for it in the first place and when there are so, so many fools ready to fight for the darkness.

So Korben Dallas is fighting for the light. He understands what's coming and he wants to stop it. He wants her to be a weapon because he doesn't know how to ask her to be Mother-of-All-Life. He would, she thinks, stand in her place and open up the universe, if he knew how, because he understands about sacrifice, and he would sacrifice himself for her. He would protect her.

He cannot, of course: Leeloo is the only one who can raise the light, tear off a piece of herself and give it to the universe. But Korben Dallas stands with her, makes her find the will to do it, reminds her of all the things that she is fighting for. So Leeloo tries, very hard, to keep the raw fire of creation from burning him up in the way that humans fear.

She will protect him. She will protect the universe, but here and now, in this moment, she will protect him.