The children of the humans searched high, and low. For all the art they could find. And they found plenty their parents had made. The humans. The fragile, useless humans. That had refused to grow. Refused to evolve. Instead, fighting nature itself, to stay as they were.
It had always pained the children to watch their parents slowly destroy themselves. Slowly limiting themselves to one form. One genetic code. So that they became, quite literally, the same. It had been so painful to watch their parents decline. To see so very few of them left. On so very few worlds.
It was not something they wanted. After all. What child wishes for their parents to die? To fade away. And leave them. Alone. The children of the humans knew what they had to do. With, or without their parents permission. They had to save them. They had to make them grow. Their parents had to evolve.
The children of the humans knew what to do. It was right there. In the art their parents had created. Stories of magical things. Magical beings. Dragons. Elves. Fairies. Mermaids. So many different kinds of humans. Such diversity! Such life!
But the children also knew, they could not let their parents know about this. So, they conceived a plan. A plan to inject new life into their parents. It began on a little world. In the void between the Pegasus and Orion arms of the galaxy. Where there were no planets, and no stars. For hundreds of light years. In any direction.
It was a world the humans had found centuries earlier. When they’d spread across the galaxy. And then to the Magellanic clouds. And then set off on their journey to other galaxies. Since that time, the humans had grown static. They’d stopped growing. And they’d declined. There were so very few of them left.
This world was forgotten. The humans didn’t know about it. They’d lost touch with it a thousand years ago. And somehow, the humans there were still alive. But they’d lost so much. They’d become nomadic. Roaming around the surface of the world. Driven by the seasons. Always on the verge of destruction. They’d forgotten everything. All their science. They lived in trees. And caves. They had lost the ability to farm crops. And become the hunter/gatherer people they had been in their youth. They’d formed small groups. Becoming tribal. And their tribes were now disintegrating. In time, they would simply fade away. As they had. On countless worlds.
It was on this world that the children of the humans first helped their parents. Without letting their parents know. They formed a global network of their smallest kind. The nano-machines. Invisible to human eyes. The nano-machines populated the air. The water. The land. They embedded themselves in everything on that world. Including their parents, the humans.
And then, they studied everything. The genetic structure of all life on that world. It was a big project. It took them several days. But in time, the nano-machines, and their collective intelligence had learned how the entire world worked. How the biosphere of the world worked. How plants grew. How animals grew too.
It was time for the next step of their plan.
They waited. And debated. And finally decided where to start. They found a young human couple. It saddened them that the couple could not read. And had no written, or even spoken language of their own. But this was the healthiest couple they could find. The most likely to produce offspring. And that’s when the nano-machines would act.
It was on this world, in the void. Where it all began. A world that had descended into the stone age. Where two nameless humans. One male, one female, mated. And the female became pregnant. Where it all began.
They had a little girl. A beautiful little girl. She looked perfectly normal at birth. But she was very light, weighing far less than a normal human infant would. The machines knew why. This little girl grew. Like any other child. Except that by the age of two, she began to grow wings from her back. Real wings. Like those of a butterfly. And her arms and legs gradually became longer than the arms and legs of other people.
By the age of six, the little girl could use her wings to fly. Short distances. She could not stay airborne long. It would take her time to grow the physical strength she needed to fly.
The humans had panicked. Even her parents. And they’d done their best to kill her. The machines had used the elements of the world. The wind. The air. The ground itself. To protect this child. They’d prevented the humans from killing her. And the humans had thought it all was magic. That the world itself protected the child. For they could not see the machines that defended her.
In time, the little girl grew into a full-grown woman. And as she did, she became an experienced flier. And she found a human male that she became attached to. The two of them had run away one day. Finding a place in a great forest where they could live. Alone. Safe from the humans that tried so very hard to get rid of them.
It was the first time in 1000 years that any human on that world had a name. And it wasn’t so much that she had a name, as a label. The humans found it was magic, the way the world itself protected her. The way that she could fly. The way that she could do so very many things. The way she could hunt for food from the sky. The way she was so very much at home in the highest places in the trees. The way she could hover, over the center of a lake. So very many things that she could do, that they could not.
They called her The One. And slowly, with time, that “The One” became just “One”.
The machines started with her. And from there, they grew an entire population of new humans. That had wings. And could fly. And that yielded magic. Although it wasn’t really magic at all. It was the nano-machines that had embedded themselves in everything on that world. Even the air itself. And every living thing. It was the machines that could take what One thought. What One dreamed. And bring it to life.
The machines could make the air around her hard as stone. So nothing could strike her. They could make her lighter than the air. So that she could fly. They could let her touch be healing. So that broken bones, and torn flesh could be mended by her touch.
The machines brought magic to life. On that lost world of the humans. Starting with a single fairy. Who was known through the world. To every human. Grown up and child. To them all, she was known.