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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writing, Part III: Deleted Scenes

SPOILERS galore in this post, natch.

I won't bore you guys with why I chose certain things (yet), but I will pepper you with hints of what may have been.  Stuff that I changed mid-writing.

Now Book Four is a whole book of "what may have been," so that's not covered here.

Book Three had a pretty rigid structure from the start, thanks to all the talk in BSG itself about the end of days on Kobol.  Other than the occasional stylistic choice or character motivation, nothing really changed until I was done.

Books One and Two are different stories, though.

(Full examples will follow after the jump.)

Again, SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven't read the trilogy yet, please do so and then come back.

In Book One, the revelation about the gods came much later in the novel.  Also, there was more focus on the makers of the Thirteenth Tribe (Helena & Thersites).  I came to realize that there should be greater attention paid the Lords.  Seems pretty obvious, right?  Well, part of the reason I didn't want to shine the spotlight on them too much was because doing so meant it would be harder to conceal their secret for as long as I wanted.

I decided that the reveal should come earlier in the book, some of the extraneous stuff about Helena and Thersites would be dropped and more gods stuff can be inserted.  (I no longer have the deleted Helena & Thersites passages.)  So I added more chapters focusing on the Lords, but a new problem arose.

A big theme for the gods in Book One is that they're feeling stagnant after three thousand years of dominion.  It doesn't do much for the mood of your novel/show/movie when characters are standing around lamenting how bored they are.  I dropped the chapters relating to the non-central Lords and moved some of their dialogue into scenes with the more important characters.

There's a scene with Hecate that gives some more background for her (wait 'til you see who she was shacked up with), one focused on Aphrodite and her feelings of being "just a pretty face" in the experiment, another with her and her son, Eros and, lastly, a different version of the Pegasus' return to Kobol with Athena and Apollo in attendance (and not Zeus - I later realized Zeus needed to be there).  Full chapters are posted after the jump.

Another big thing with Book One.  Once the revelation about the gods came, the focus shifted exclusively to the gods with the occasional Thirteenth Tribe tidbit thrown in.  Yes, there was Aurora and the Iole Cylon, but not much else.

That's right: the second Iole Cylon, Tydea, was not in the first pass.  Nor was her realization about the Lords or the Cylon beach massacre.  The Thirteenth Tribe was, as a whole, pissed at the gods and the Draco were bombing stuff, too.  Very disjointed.  I had to reread it a few times to pinpoint the problems and add in the intrigue with Tydea.  Looking back, it's hard to fathom why I didn't do this from the start.  I mean, one of Zeus' greatest fears was that the Olympians would be found out so why wouldn't I have one of his "cousins" figure it out?  Stupid author.  Hey, at least I recognized the problem and fixed it.

On to Book Two.  Posted below you'll find a one-off chapter with Hermes walking on another planet in the last gasp of Kobol's space program.  I dropped it because it just felt like a bit of unneeded fluff.

Now here's the big thing with Book Two.  This is one of those where I got pretty far along in the writing before I realized the error of my ways.  Originally, Larsa was going to be a planet on the far side of the galaxy, and Kobol was a planet they knew about that they would be jumping to.  So, I typed and typed.  It wasn't until I got to Zeus' big speech (outlining the "Experiment") that I realized why this wouldn't work.

I'll get into the rules I set for myself in a later post, but here's a preview.  I wanted to preserve the uniquity of much of what we knew from BSG.  It was almost too late before I realized that I had violated this rule.

Baltar says in "Daybreak" while viewing the early humans on the plains of Africa that these people, on a world so far from Kobol, indicates a divine hand.  OK, fine.  In my first pass, I would have had humans on Larsa, Kobol and then Earth II.  The absurdity of this crept up on me while Zeus is in that meeting and Prometheus is trying to tell him about God.  Having humans on this planet, too, should confound Zeus and it would have given more credence to Prometheus' position (convincing more than just a few to go along with him).

Why didn't I see this before?  Frankly, I was obsessed with maintaining Pythia's cycle.  Humans make Cylons; Cylons and humans war; survivors flee the planet and start over somewhere else.  It didn't occur to me at the start that the planet they flee and start over upon could be one and the same.

There's a sample passage from the old way posted below after the jump (no need to post full chapters, since most of the rest is the same as the published version):

Another Book Two bit.  I really liked this one, but I got rid of it because it was too long and at the very end of the novel.  Once Ares finishes off the Draco and we see Zeus slump in his chair as he can't shake Hades and Leto from his thoughts, we need to tie the bow with Kaladen and the Draco's revenge and get the other side of the bookend with Apollo and Acastus.  The Zeus chapter you'll find after the jump was interesting and includes lots of cool tidbits, but it just wasn't necessary.

So.  If you want more Lords of Kobol, click the JUMP and start reading.  Thanks again.

From Book One - Apotheosis:


2,609 Years Before the Final Exodus

“Wake up, sleepy-head,” Demeter said, leaning over to kiss Hecate on the cheek.

The younger woman grunted and tried to pull the covers up even higher.  “I don’t want to wake up.”

Demeter laughed and walked out of the bedroom.  “I think you already are.”  She returned to the kitchen and pulled oranges from a basket.  She took a knife from a chopping block and began to slice each one in half.  “Well?  Are you coming?”

“Frak!  I’m up!” Heacte said, shuffling into the dining area.  She slumped into a chair and leaned her head against a pillow.  She looked young and her black hair was mussed from being asleep.  As Demeter looked at her, she smiled. 

Demeter was older, for certain.  Her sandy blonde hair had some white in it.  He skin had a few wrinkles.  More importantly, she was older in attitude.  She always felt more mature.  Hecate, of course, was always immature.  The daughter of Zeus and Hera was nearly three thousand years old and yet she acted as brash as if she were merely a teen.

“Why did you wake me so early?” Hecate asked.

Demeter placed half of an orange into her juicer.  “Today’s the day of the festival in Phigaleia.”

“Frak, all the way over in Gemini?”

Demeter nodded.  “Yes.”

Hecate shook her head, “You still have followers there?”

Demeter stopped moving the crank and she looked up.  Outside of her window, she could see birds fighting over seeds near her feeder.  “Yes, I still have followers there.” 

“Sorry,” Hecate said, now cradling the pillow.

Demeter slowly pulled the emptied orange rind from the juicer.  “No, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for that to sound as … angry as it did.”  She put another orange half inside.  “I don’t know why, but I do kind of miss the attention.”

“No, it makes sense.”  Hecate stood up and walked into the kitchen and wrapped an arm around Demeter’s waist.  “Even if you weren’t fond of the idea of being worshipped, you can get used to it after a couple of millennia.”

Demeter smiled and patted Hecate’s hand.  “Thank you.”  She pulled the lever, squeezing the orange.  She then took the glass out and handed it to Hecate.  “There you go, drink up.”

Hecate stepped away and looked at the drink.  “Don’t you have any coffee?”

Demeter turned, “Not this again.”

“Frak you!”  Hecate slammed the glass on the counter, sloshing orange juice all over.  She stormed into the dining area and collapsed on the couch. 

Demeter stood still, dumbfounded.  “What’s wrong?” she asked softly.

Hecate didn’t respond.

Demeter walked toward her, speaking quietly as she approached.  “I don’t understand why this sort of thing bothers you.”

Hecate pulled her face off the couch and looked at Demeter.  Tears were streaming from her dark eyes.  “I don’t need you looking after me like this.”

Demeter stopped her approach and sighed.  “I’m not trying to be your mother.”

Hecate laughed.  “Sometimes it feels like it.”

“I know,” Demeter began to say as Hecate leapt off the couch and went to the bedroom.  Demeter followed, “I know your living with her was difficult.”

Hecate laughed from behind the closed door.

“I know living with your father was no better.”

“You’ve got that right,” Hecate said.

“I’m not trying to be a parent.  I just want to help you because I love you,” Demeter said.

“Sometimes, I don’t need or want your help.”

Demeter bit her lip and placed her hand on the wall by the door to the room.  She winced at what she was about to say.  “Have you thought about talking to Selene?”

“What?”  Hecate yanked open the door and stood closely to Demeter’s face.  “I don’t need a frakking psychologist.”

“It might be helpful to talk over some of the issues ...”

“I doubt she’d be much help.  I heard she’s thinking about leaving.”

This news caught Demeter off guard.  Another Lord, ready to depart Kobol? 

Hecate scoffed again and pushed her way past Demeter toward the bathroom.  “Besides, I don’t need to talk anything over.  I just need to go.”


“I’ve been here too long.”

Demeter looked toward the kitchen and then back to Hecate as she tossed items in a travel bag.  “We’ve only been together for thirty years.”

“Long enough,” Hecate said.  She left the bathroom and returned to the spare bedroom where she kept her things.  She picked up her bags and coat and tried to walk away but Demeter was standing in the door.  “Move, please.”

Demeter shook her head.  She felt a headache coming on and her heart was pounding in her throat.  “I … don’t want you to leave like this.”

“Would you rather I left in the middle of the night?”  Hecate tilted her head to catch Demeter’s drifting gaze.  “Maybe after we made love one last time?”  Hecate spoke with false sincerity.  Demeter’s expression betrayed confusion and Hecate leaned forward, kissing her lips.  Demeter reached behind Hecate’s head to hold her there, but Hecate pulled away.  “No.”

“I’m sorry!” Demeter said.  Hecate had stomped into the living room toward the door.  “I’m sorry your family has frakked up your head so badly.”

Hecate stopped at the door and dropped a bag.  She turned her head back toward Demeter, “Is that what you think this is about?  Mommy’s a bitch and Daddy doesn’t love me?”

Demeter’s headache had fully landed now and her breathing was labored.  Still, she endured.  “Yes.  Yes I do.”

Hecate scoffed.  “You’re not even considering that this was all a rebound thing for both of us?”  Demeter’s brow furrowed and Hecate turned around fully.  “You from Poseidon and me from … all of what I used to do?”

“It’s more than that, Hecate.  You know that.”

Hecate smiled and pulled open the door.  “No, it’s not.”

“You need help,” Demeter said.  Hecate picked up her bag and walked out of the door.  Demeter walked to the opening and yelled after her as she trudged down the path.  “You’re going to need help one day, Hecate.”  She never looked back.

Demeter walked back into her home and closed the door.  After staring at the floor for a few moments, she slowly moved into the kitchen and cleaned up the orange juice spill and the sliced fruit.  She leaned against the counter and looked across the room.

If she was going to fly to Gemini this morning, she had better get moving.  Demeter didn’t really feel like it now, but she knew she should still aim to please however many followers she had left.


2,597 Years Before the Final Exodus

It wasn’t looking the way she intended.

Aphrodite had only been trying sculpture for a few months, and this mound of clay wasn’t looking anything like her husband, Hephaestus, at all.

“Crap.”  She flung a wad of moist clay at the shape and it slapped against the form’s chest before slowly peeling off to fall onto the pedestal.

Aphrodite leaned back and sighed.  Next to Apollo, she was the tallest Olympian, but she was regarded as the sexiest.  Long, brown hair, perfect skin, voluptuous figure, and large, bright green eyes.  She was worshipped the world over as a goddess of love and beauty.  She never really understood the following she attracted.  Very well, she understood the men who followed her, but as for the worship, she never felt like she did anything.

She wasn’t an engineer like her husband.  She wasn’t a doctor like Apollo or Asclepius.  She wasn’t a warrior like Artemis or Ares.  She wasn’t a millennia-long friend and advocate of the people like Athena.  Quite simply, she was married to Hephaestus and she was beautiful.

She sat down on the edge of the table and looked at her dirty hands.  She was bored.  She had to occupy herself as much as possible.  So this is what she did now.  Moving from hobby to hobby.  After three thousand years, she had managed to circle back to some she gave up long ago. 

Aphrodite had no part to play in the experiment, really.  She had taken part in a few of Apollo’s plays and Dionysus’ concerts, but that’s it.  She went among the people a few times a year.  She officiated large groups of couples’ weddings.  But … most of her time was spent in her home at Cythera, waiting for Hephaestus.

“I’m back,” he said as the door swung open.

Aphrodite smiled and walked over to him.  “Hello.”  She hugged him tightly but he pulled her arms away.

“What’s on your hands?” he asked.

“Oh,” she looked down.  “Clay.  I was giving sculpture another go.”

Hephaestus smiled and kissed her cheek.  “Great.  Let me see.”

She rolled her eyes and walked toward the corner of the living room where the clay and pedestal stood.  “If you must.  I’m not happy with it.”

Hephaestus followed her and looked at the tall, lanky shape intently.  He noted the thick arms and legs.  The angular slope of the torso.  “It’s … good.  I like it.”

“Shut up,” she said.

“No, I’m serious.”  He pointed at the head, “Who’s it supposed to be?”

She scoffed and folded her arms.  “You.”

He smiled.  “Well, I’m flattered.”

“Shut up!” she said and pushed at him playfully.  “You’re just saying you like it because you’re trying to flatter me.”

“No, really.”  He leaned to one side and looked at it again.  “The only thing …”

“Ah,” she said.  “Here we go.”

“I can’t really tell that it’s me.  I mean, I really do like it, but there’s nothing about it that says who it is.”

“Oh.”  Aphrodite scrunched up her face and she tilted her head as she looked at it.  “I could give him a hammer, I suppose.”

Hephaestus grinned and quietly applauded.  “There you go.  Awesome.”

Aphrodite shook her head again and Hephaestus walked away from the sculpture, kissing her on the cheek as he walked toward the kitchen.  She inhaled deeply and turned to follow him.  “Heph, I … have a problem.”

He was getting a glass from the cabinet and he turned on the water tap.  “What’s that?”

She bit her lip and watched the glass fill.  “I’m feeling …”  Hephaestus looked at her and slowly brought the glass to his mouth to sip.  “Listless.  Like ...,” she shook her hands, “I need to be doing something or I’ll just go crazy.”

Hephaestus put the glass down and he walked to the counter next to her.  He leaned back and drew his mouth into a tight line.  Folding his arms, he stared at her for a moment, processing what she had said.  “I understand.”

“You do?” she said.  Aphrodite’s shoulders sagged as though relieved.

“I do.”  He licked his lips and glanced around the kitchen.  “I’m a busy guy.  I’m building planes and cars and working on new technologies.  Visiting the Institute.  Flying all over the world.  You,” he put a hand on her shoulder, “Don’t really have that.”

She nodded slowly.  “I just feel … useless.”

“No,” Hephaestus pulled off the counter and wrapped his long arms around her body, “Don’t say that.  You’re not useless.”

“Then what am I?”

He held her shoulders and smiled.  “You’re everything.”

She raised an eyebrow.  “What?”

“I’ve seen you act.  You did fantastic.  I’ve heard you sing.  You have a great voice.  You’re beautiful, of course, so you can go back to modeling if you want.”

“Ugh,” she said and she pulled away.

“My point is the options are endless.  You can do anything.”

“But,” she said, turning and facing him again, “That’s not the point.  Kobol doesn’t need me like they need you.”

Hephaestus laughed.  “That’s funny, because Kobol still worships you more than me.”

“Shut up.”  She turned to one side.  “Really?”

“Oh, yeah.  I’ve seen the attendance figures.  You have twice as many weekly worshippers than I do at my temples.”

A smile slowly stretched across her face and she turned her head coyly to the door.  “Someone’s here.”  The bell rang and Aphrodite walked to the door.  As she reached for the knob, she saw that her hands were still caked with clay.  She shook her head and opened the door, regardless.  “Selene?”

Selene was one of the Lords, sister of Helios and Aurora.  Right now, her appearance was rather old and she was wearing a long coat, buttoned and tied tightly.  Her gray hair was pulled up into a loose bun.  “Hello, Aphrodite.  Is your husband home?”

“Yes, come on in.”  She stepped aside and motioned toward the living room.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

Selene walked inside slowly and sat in the first chair she came to.  “No, thank you.  I just wanted to talk to you two.”

Hephaestus and Aphrodite followed her into the living room and sat on the small couch facing her chair.  Hephaestus spoke first, “What can we do for you?”

Selene smiled and waved her hand, “No, nothing like that.  I just came to say goodbye.”  Aphrodite sat up and looked at Hephaestus.  “I’ll be leaving soon.”

Hephaestus sighed.  “I had heard you were considering it.”

Selene nodded.  “Yes.  I’ve already set everything up.  I’ve got a few weeks left so I’ve been traveling the world, seeing the sights, visiting everyone before I go.”

“Selene,” Aphrodite said, her voice low, “I don’t know what to say.”


“I said, ‘I don’t know what to say.’”

Selene smiled.  “Don’t worry about it.  There’s not much to say, I guess.”

Aphrodite looked down at the clay on her hands again.  She swallowed hard and looked up.  “Are you leaving because … you’re bored?”

Selene shrugged.  “That’s part of it.”  She sighed and looked out of the window.  “I’m also just tired.  How many thousands of years have we been here?  I’m … tired.”

“And the Kobollians?” Aphrodite asked.

Selene scoffed.  “Please.  I was never into Zeus’ experiment.”

Aphrodite smiled.  “What do we do if we need to talk to someone?”  Hephaestus looked over at her quickly and then toward Selene.

“Go see Asclepius.  He may not be an official psychologist like me, but he’s a good listener.”  She then put her hands on the arms of the chair and pushed herself up.  “I’ve got to get going, I suppose.”

“So soon?” Aphrodite asked.

“Yes.  I’m heading south to visit my brother for a while and then west to stay with Aurora.”  She walked to the door and opened it.  Turning, Selene again saw Hephaestus’ tight grip on Aphrodite’s shoulder.  She pointed at each of them, “You two take care of each other.”

They both smiled.  “Goodbye, Selene,” Aphrodite said.

They couple watched Selene walk down the path toward a parked airship.  She slowly climbed inside and Hephaestus closed their front door.  He stared at the floor for a moment before turning and seeing Aphrodite leaning against a wall, her hands over her face.  “What is it?”

She pulled her hands down and sniffled.  Her eyes were becoming wet with tears and she looked up, hoping to stop them from falling before they started.  She exhaled loudly and Hephaestus hugged her.  Tightly again.

“Don’t worry,” Aphrodite said.  “I don’t feel like that.”

Hephaestus kissed her head.  “Are you sure?  I mean, I just visited a lovely place at the base of an extinct volcano … We could move there, shake things up.”

She smiled and kissed his cheek.  “That sounds good.”  She looked out of the window by the door, watching Selene’s craft lift off.  “I might be bored, but,” she kissed him again, “I’m not hopeless.”


2,597 Years Before the Final Exodus

She stood atop the steps of her temple in Theonpolis and lifted her arms toward the sky.  It was dusk and the sun was setting behind the crowd already.

“This evening,” she said, her voice booming across the square, “We bring together thousands in the name of love.”  There was scattered applause and cheers.  Men and women held each other tighter.  Some men held their soon-to-be husbands more closely.  Female lovers kissed.

Eros stepped next to his mother and lifted his right arm.  The giant, marble shells on either side of the temple’s steps lifted into the air.  “In the name of the Lords of Kobol,” he began, “We bless these unions.”

Aphrodite smiled broadly and she flicked her wrists.  The shells opened and swans flew from inside and over the crowd.  After a hundred meters or so, the translucent birds faded away.  The lovers in attendance jumped and embraced.  They kissed and shouted their thanks to Aphrodite and Eros.

He lowered his arms and the shells closed.  Slowly, the giant marble shapes lowered to their platforms.  Aphrodite stepped toward the audience and said loudly, “May you all have happy lives filled with love.”

She moved down the temple steps and into the crowd.  Naturally, as a god, she stood taller than the people around her.  Her white gown flowed behind and her long, dark hair draped over her shoulders.  She lightly touched the shoulders of all that she passed.

“Thank you, goddess,” one woman said.  Her face was dominated by a beaming smile, undoubtedly aided by Aphrodite’s own Chara.

“You are quite welcome,” she said in return. 

“Mother,” Eros said, “Come help.”

Concerned for a moment, Aphrodite moved quickly through the throng and found Eros smiling, standing beside a large group of people.

“I wasn’t sure I could bless them all at once,” he said.

Aphrodite looked them over.  “Oh, a group family.  How nice.  How many of you were married before today?”

One couple, a man and woman, raised their hands.  They were surrounded by two other men and three other women.  “We don’t often see unions of this size, do we?” Eros said.

“No, we don’t.”  Aphrodite moved to their side and began placing her hands on their shoulders.  “May your hearts grow as big as your family.”

Eros chuckled, “And may your home grow in size, too, if you need it.”

They laughed and bowed to the Lords before moving back into the crowd.  Eros stepped near his mother and spoke quietly to her.

“Do you ever get tired of this?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“The mass weddings,” he whispered, “The temple services.  Do you feel bored by it all?”

She hesitated and then replied, “It’s nice to feel needed.”

Eros nodded slowly.  “I know, but … it has been many centuries.”

Aphrodite laughed.  “I’m centuries older than you.”

Eros smiled weakly and looked away from his mother.  “Yes.  Though the years still have weight.”

Aphrodite’s chest pounded and her throat went dry.  She looked at the adoring crowd and then toward her son.  She didn’t want to lose him, too.  “Are you thinking of following your sister?”

Eros turned and hugged Aphrodite.  He pulled back, smiled and looked into her eyes.  “Not yet.  But the thought has crossed my mind.”

Here's another from Book One, it's the return of the Pegasus.  My dates are a bit off from what I later settled with and it features a startling bit of relationship knowledge regarding Athena. 


2,040 Years Before the Final Exodus

Life among the Kobollians was pleasant again.  Athena lived in Athens and enjoyed the company of its inhabitants.  The worship, not so much, but if there was an occasion, be it a party or a simple picnic, she wanted to attend.

She saw only two Cylons in Athens since their exodus.  They were just visitors, apparently.  Her unease about them had subsided greatly since they left. Apollo was right: their departure had stabilized society.  Even if Archon Eris had falsely blamed terrorist attacks on them, the presence of the Thirteenth Tribe was an unwelcome distraction and irritant.  Nowadays, people seemed to have returned to their easygoing ways.

Athena enjoyed autumn in the park.  The leaves had changed colors and some even fell from the trees but it was still warm enough for families to come out and play.  Athena crunched a few leaves under foot as she retrieved a flying disc for one group of children.

“Thank you, goddess,” a boy said as he accepted the disc.  “Would you like to join us?”

Athena looked over at the group and saw four boys and girls waiting for the disc to come back.  She smiled, “Of course.”

She followed the boy back and the other children jumped up and down as the goddess assumed her position.  They spread out in a circle and began throwing the disc to each other.  Each one caught it just fine, but Athena fumbled when it came to her.

“I’m the goddess of wisdom, not recreational sports,” she laughed.

The children laughed, too, and when Athena prepared to throw it back, they all jumped and held their arms high, hoping she would throw it to them.  “Me, goddess!”  “Throw it to me!”

Athena closed her eyes and spun around once.  Then she threw it at no one in particular and the two boys closest to it tackled each other to grab it.  One boy managed to get it first and he decided to throw it the same way Athena had.  In fact, for the next twenty minutes, everyone threw the disc with their eyes closed and in a random direction.  Until Athena’s pocket processor beeped.

“Athena, it’s Apollo.”

She backed away from the children while waving goodbye.  “I hear you.   Go ahead.”  She hadn’t heard from Apollo since the disastrous Olympic Council sixteen years ago.

“Something’s happening.  I need to pick you up.  I’m in a dartship above Athens and I see you in the park.  Can I get you?”

It had to be important.  “Of course.  Come on down.”

A moment later, the small silver craft quietly hovered above an open area and people backed away.  A door slid open and Athena jumped inside.  The craft never actually touched the ground.  The door closed and the dartship lifted back into the air and raced across the sky.

“How have you been?” Apollo asked as he piloted the vessel.

Athena squeezed into the rear seat uncomfortably.  “Well.  And you?”

Apollo nodded.  “An hour ago, we picked up a transponder signal from a Kobollian vessel.  It’s one of Aurora’s ships.”

Athena’s eyes widened and she looked at the back of Apollo’s head, hoping he’d turn around.  “Did it just jump back?”

“Apparently.  No communication signal was sent; just the transponder.  It seems to be on course to land on the fields just south of Megara and that’s where we’re going.”

She nodded and looked around before she asked, “Why me?”

“Hermes is too far south.  Ares is in Illyria training with his troops.  I don’t know where Asclepius is.  And the rest of the Olympic Council is scattered to the wind.  I … felt like this might be too important to do it alone.”

Athena noticed the omission.  “Why not your father?”

Apollo sighed.  “Zeus is on Olympus.  I haven’t spoken to him in sixteen years.”

Athena nodded and she leaned back in her seat.  After a few moments of silence, she spoke, “I tried to talk to him shortly after … He didn’t want to.”

“Why did you even try?  You should have known better.”

Athena shrugged, “We had a connection.  We both tried to … maintain.”

“’Maintain’ what?” he asked.

Athena smiled, “Years ago, we both had a bout of loneliness.  He was afraid he would be left all alone.  Now he is, kind of.”

“He may not want to be alone, but he only wants people around him who feed his ego,” Apollo said with disdain.

She looked at Apollo’s head again and decided to unburden herself.  “A few decades ago, we had a … relationship.”

Apollo turned from the controls and looked at her.  Without saying anything, he turned back to the datastream panel and said, “I see.”

Awkward silence followed.  “It didn’t last long, really.  It was mostly physical.”

“I … don’t need to know.”


“It’s fine.  Do you have any idea how many people he’s frakked over the millennia?”

Athena rolled her eyes, “I have no idea, but I know what you mean.”  The rest of the trip passed by silently, until Apollo slowed their speed and began to descend.  “We’re there already?”

“Yes,” Apollo said as he landed the craft.  A moment later, the door slid open and he spun his chair around.  “Come on.”

The two Lords left the craft and walked toward the field.  A few hundred people were already beginning to gather around the edges of the park near Megara.  They were all looking at the sky.

“It must have been on the news,” Athena said.

Apollo looked into the sky for a moment.  “We just made it.  There it is.”  Athena looked where he was pointing and she saw a small gray dot against the blue sky.  A moment later, vapor began to trail from the small wings on the craft and it began a spiral descent; circling the field.  A minute later, the ship positioned itself in the center of the grassy plain and engaged its landing engines.  The thud of their ignition took a split second longer to reach Athena’s ears than the sight of the exhaust plume.  Apollo and Athena walked toward the vessel and dozens of Megarans began to walk from the park after them.

After the lengthy stroll, the crowds had mostly encircled the ship.  Apollo and Athena, however, spotted the main door and they waited for it to open.  She stared at the name printed on the hatch, “PEGASUS.”  For several minutes, there was no activity.

“Could it have been automated?” Athena asked.


The crowd began to murmur.  It grew larger and more Megarans were leaving the city to come down to the field.  Athena looked around.  She was surrounded by Cylons.  She grew uncomfortable again, until she noticed a few humans.  They seemed to be romantically involved with Cylons, given their body language.  A fruitless endeavor, Athena knew, because humans and Cylons could not procreate.

Suddenly, there was an expulsion of gas and the door began to lower.  The crowd swelled toward the ship, but Apollo yelled, “Stay back!” 

“What’s wrong?” Athena asked. 

“We need to move everyone out of here,” he said.  Athena was about to ask why and then she realized, too.  If the ship contained people who had been to Earth, they might be bringing back a pathogen or disease that could kill them.  Apollo moved toward the ship and yelled, “I need everyone to clear the area for your own safety!  Please, return to Megara or the forest along the side of the fields, but I need everyone to clear out now!  There is a danger of contamination!”

With that last phrase, people began to comply.  They slowly walked away, most of them keeping their eyes on the craft.  After a few minutes, with the door fully lowered, the crowd had left the area.  Athena instinctively put her own hand over her mouth and nose.  “We can’t carry a contagion through a download, can we?”

Apollo put one foot on the lowered door.  “We shouldn’t be able to, though there are a few exceptions.”  As he was about to enter the craft, he spotted a clutch of people in white and carrying equipment come running down the field.  “What is this?”

The woman at the head of group said, breathlessly, “We’re from the hospital.  If these people are sick, we’ll treat them.”

Apollo hesitated but nodded.  He turned his attention back to the vessel and as he put his second foot on the door, a man dropped down from above, startling them all.

He was pale, sweaty and sickly.  His clothes were grimy and he appeared emaciated.  He collapsed into Apollo’s arms.  Apollo carried him from the ship and laid him out before the medical personnel.

“What’s wrong with him?” Athena asked, still covering her mouth and nose.

“It looks like radiation poisoning,” Apollo said.

The doctor nodded.  “Agreed.”  She listened to his heart and lungs while a nurse ran a scanner over him.  “Can you hear me?  Hello?”

He nodded slowly.  “Two more on board.”

Apollo turned back to the vessel and climbed inside.  Athena quickly followed.  The bay was dark.  A light in the corridor was visible and he walked toward it slowly.  Just inside the corridor, he spotted three bodies.  Athena leaned over and checked their pulses.  None of them were alive.  They traveled along the lower part of the ship, and took a ladder toward the control deck.  A few minutes later, after passing several more bodies, they arrived on the control deck and surprised two women who were resting against a console.

“Lord Apollo,” it would have been a shout if she weren’t so exhausted.

“Come with me,” he said as he leaned over to pick her up.  Athena pulled the arm of the other woman over her neck and they retraced their steps. 

“My gods,” one of the nurses said when Apollo appeared with the woman.  Athena followed close behind. 

After laying them gently on the grass, Apollo looked over at the man, but the doctor shook her head.  “I found these two near the center of the ship.  They would have been more protected from radiation there.”

The nurses scrambled around them.  Another nurse approached with a small case.  “Anti-radiation medication,” the doctor told Apollo.  “Hopefully, it will be enough for these two.”

Apollo and Athena stayed nearby while they worked.  Before long, a transport came onto the field and carried the two women to the Megaran hospital.  Apollo and Athena rode with them.

“What are your names?” Apollo asked.

“I’m Hylae.”  She seemed to be the better off of the two.

“I’m Polyta,” she said, followed by a cough.

Athena was still uncomfortable being surrounded by Cylons.  Her compassion won over and she took Hylae’s hand and rubbed it.  “How did the journey to Earth go?”

“Mostly well,” she said.  “It took us seven months to get to the algae planet.  We stayed there for four or five months.  And then we went to Earth.  We lost a few ships along the way.”  She turned to Apollo and grabbed his arm.  “Iole’s ship was one of them.”

Apollo’s face fell and his shoulders sagged.  “Iole Auroratous?”

Hylae nodded.  “Yes.  We were making a routine jump and her ship was there and then, when we arrived at the other end, it wasn’t.”

Athena put an arm around Apollo’s neck.  “I’m sorry,” she said. 

Apollo closed his eyes and his lips quivered.  Athena didn’t know if he was overcome with emotion or if he was muttering a silent prayer.  Finally, he nodded, lifted his head and looked at the women.  “What about Earth?”

“It is beautiful, no question,” Polyta coughed.

“When we landed on Earth,” Hylae said with a grin and not a little delirium, “Some of the scientists named the most prominent constellations after the Twelve Tribes.”

“But it’s not quite as hospitable as we had hoped.  We seem to have landed during a minor ice age and there was a virus spreading among some of the people.” 

Apollo and the others leaned back.  “Did you come in contact with it?”

Polyta shook her head, “I don’t believe so.  We didn’t get sick.” 

Athena nodded and asked, “Is yours the only ship coming?”

“Yes,” Polyta said.  “They dismantled all of the other ships for shelter and power generators.”

“Why did you come back?” Athena asked.

“A lot of us wanted to come back,” Polyta said.  “Life on Earth was hard, harder than we anticipated.  The winters were unbearable.  We lost hundreds of people every year.  And then the virus began to spread.  So we saved as much food as we could for the trip back, and then we were ready to go.  We just had one intact ship, but when we finally decided to actually come back, only one hundred twelve got on board.”

“And there’s only two of you left?” Athena asked.

Polyta nodded and pulled away her oxygen mask, “Our captain … he wanted to go straight through the Magadon Cluster to save time and supplies.”

“Oh no,” Apollo muttered.

“The radiation was unbearable,” Polyta said.  “We crowded into those central rooms.  We used up our anti-radiation meds most of the way here.  And then people started to die.”

The transport pulled up to the hospital and some of the personnel got ready to take the women inside.  In a rush, Apollo asked, “Tell me, was the temple built?”  Athena looked at him with a furrowed brow, thinking Apollo was being vain.

Hylae nodded, “The Temple of Aurora was the first permanent structure we built.  Everything else is ramshackle, but that temple is beautiful.”

Apollo shook his head, “No, I mean a temple … on the algae planet.”  Now Athena was puzzled.

Hylae looked over at Polyta, confused.  Polyta nodded slowly and removed her mask, “Yes.  Five priests … we thought they worshipped you, but they built a temple to a god they said couldn’t be named.  No one knew what they meant by that.”

Athena was bewildered.  Could they have meant … God?  Apollo sat back and nodded slowly.  “Thank you.  Get well soon.”

Athena watched the women being pulled from the transport and she started to follow them into the hospital. 

“We need a decon unit and set up a quarantine ward!” the doctor yelled into the building.

Athena paused for a moment beside the gurneys and looked at Apollo.  He was still sitting inside the vehicle, his face lowered into his hands.  

From Book Two - Descent:

First, a portion of the chapter illustrating the Olympians' escape from Larsa and the fact that Larsa was originally going to be a separate world from Kobol:

“Spooling complete,” Hephaestus said with a smile.  “Ready for jump.”

Zeus pushed into the pad harder, “Do it.”

A queasy feeling tugged at everyone’s belly and they felt as though their heads were being stretched.  For an instant, they felt every sense overload and then restore.  Just that quickly, they were several light years away.  “Jump complete,” Olympus announced.

“Olympus, spool again and plot the next jump,” Hephaestus said.

Zeus turned in his chair to face Hephaestus, “What’s the major problem you said we had?”

Hephaestus slowly walked across the room to Zeus’ side.  Hephaestus was always somewhat hunched over, as though he were perpetually leaning over and examining something that much more closely.  He knelt by Zeus’ chair and spoke softly.

“The attack came sooner than anyone expected,” he said.

Zeus nodded.  “No kidding.”

Olympus wasn’t fully stocked. Our supplies are only a fraction of what they should be.”

Zeus inhaled slowly and removed his hand from the datastream pad.  “Which supplies?”

“We’re fine on tyllium and all backup batteries are charged.  Basic energy will be a problem, but it’s the consumables we have to really worry about.”  He shifted knees as he continued, “Water, food, …”

“We have water reclamation and we can process food from basic proteins,” Zeus interrupted.

Hephaestus nodded, “Yes, but we have to have a baseline before we can sustain ourselves over ‘x’ amount of time.  Zeus, are we still going to the Kobol system?”

He nodded.  “Yes.  It has the best habitable world farthest away from Larsa that we know of.”

“It’s going to take fifteen years of jumping to get there.” 

Zeus nodded, knowingly.  “If we had a better FTL drive, it wouldn’t take so long, but I did the best I could.”

“No doubt.  But it requires us to take more conservative jumps.  Olympus will have to stop, on occasion, to perform maintenance and maybe even repairs.”  Hephaestus continued, “The point is, as for the supplies, we just don’t have enough to get us there.”

“We have detailed astronomic charts.  We can find worlds along the way to restock.”

“We could do that, yes.”  Hephaestus put his hand on Zeus’ arm.  “But believe me, the people on this ship wouldn’t be able to live like that.  I’m not even sure we could handle being cooped up fifteen years on the ship, even if we had the supplies.  We’ve been through too much.”

Here's Hermes' bit of planetary exploration fluff:


804 Years Before the Final Exodus

“Copy, Daedalus,” Hermes said.  “Beginning journey back.”

Hermes stood on the surface of Coronis, staring into the large disc of Kobol, the star.

His suit protected him, of course, from the vacuum of space, the radiation and the heat from the sun.  His polarized visor protected his eyes so he could look directly at it.  He was entranced.  By adjusting the level of filter, he could spot flares, sunspots and any number of other features.  It was a glorious sight to behold, and he was the only Olympian to have done so.

For the last few hundred years, Hermes had taken an interest in Kobol’s fading space program.  Without the Hephaestus Institute backing them up, developing new technology took more time than before and there was less of a push to go exploring as there had been.  Certainly, the mining facilities in the asteroid belt were bustling, but that was all. 

Hermes could wait.  He had traveled to two other nearby star systems and walked on the surface of other worlds with human travelers.  Now, with his mission to Coronis, his tour of the Kobollian star system was complete.

He had sailed an atmospheric skiff into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant, Dione.  He collected ice core samples from the frozen world, Hera, at the farthest reaches of the system.  Now, he was replacing solar study modules on Coronis.  Hermes had been to the other four planets, too, but these were the highlights.  It did unnerve him that the worlds he walked on were named for his now-deceased comrades, but he never let on.

Having been Kobol’s most well-known astronaut for the last three hundred years had many advantages.  First off, he knew a great deal more about space travel and the technology involved than ever before.  He was probably as much of an authority on the subject as Hephaestus ever was.  Hermes couldn’t build an FTL drive, true, but still.

Second, he had achieved greater fame among the people of Kobol.  Not necessarily important, but being adored by millions, nay, billions of people was exhilarating.  He always returned to Theonpolis with the latest chunk of rock from another world and received parades and adulation.  He often delayed his next mission just to sop up as much affection as he could.

Finally and most importantly, it kept him busy.  Off and on over the millennia, Hermes had been bored.  Entire centuries went by and he felt as though nothing had happened.  Once Kobollian society was brought up to the level that Zeus wanted about fifteen hundred years ago, this was especially true.  He had staved off the boredom as long as he could.  He had ventured to other worlds and other stars.  He certainly did his best.  Now, when he got back home, it was time to rest.

Hermes picked up the last of the tools and laid them gently in the basket of the rover.  He sat inside, flipped two switches and began the slow drive back to his vessel.  Red dust was kicked up by the textured wheels and he bounced over the slightest bumps in the surface.  The rocks and soil were primarily red, with great black and dark brown boulders scattered about.  Craters that dug deep enough exposed gray rock underneath.  It was all very fascinating, even though he wasn’t a geologist.  After cresting a small ridge, Daedalus became visible.  A few moments later, he drove the vehicle onto the lowered ramp and into the bay.

The ramp retracted and the bay was sealed.  Hermes walked into an airlock and secured the hatches before beginning the recompression procedure.  He pressed a button which engaged a system of vacuums and jets to blow the dangerous soil particles from his suit.  It was a polymer and metal suit, yet it still collected the red soil which could wreak havoc on equipment.  Once the soil was cleaned off, Hermes stepped out of the chamber and into suiting area where Andrea was waiting.

“Looks like the blowers got it all this time,” she said as she walked around to Hermes’ back.

Hermes didn’t say anything while she removed his consumables pack.  Once she stepped away, Hermes flipped the catches on the sides of his torso and arms, causing the gauntlets and armor of the suit to loosen and begin to pull away.  Andrea came back and started to remove the pieces.

“What are you going to do when we get back?” Hermes asked.

She smiled, “I’m thinking I might get married, Lord.”

Hermes nodded, “Well, if he’s been patient and faithful to you throughout all of the time we’ve put into the mission, he would definitely be a good man to have.”

Andrea placed the leg coverings in a cabinet and inhaled deeply, “I’ve been meaning to ask, Lord.  Would you be able to marry us?”

Hermes stretched his arms wide before bending over to pull off his boots.  “I’d be honored to.  Just let me know when.”

Andrea was beaming and she put the last of Hermes’ suit in his locker.  “That’s all.  I think we’re ready to go.”

Hermes said nothing and he climbed the nearby ladder up two levels.  Soon, he was on the command deck and he sat in his oversized chair.  Hermes was named commander of the mission because who could order a god around?  But he left many of the detail-oriented decisions to Captain Joseph Tyndaeus.  “Is everything ready to go, captain?”

Tyndaeus nodded while he pressed buttons and studied the power levels.  “Yes, Lord Hermes, we’re ready.”

Hermes nodded.  He looked at the monitor nearest his head.  It was a view from the bow of the ship.  A red portion of Coronis was visible, but the sun, Kobol, filled the screen.  He stared at the simple beauty of it and heaved a large sigh.  He was tired.

When he got home – after Andrea’s wedding, of course – he would ask Asclepius to put him under.  He didn’t want to cease to exist as so many of the Olympians had done before.  No, he just wanted to mix things up.  He would go under for a few centuries and then wake up into a whole new world.  Five seemed a little too short.  Maybe a whole millennium would do.

Captain Tyndaeus spun around in his chair, “On your word, Lord Hermes.”

Hermes leaned back and closed his eyes to take a nap.  He licked his lips and said quietly, “Do it.”

Lastly, here's my favorite excised chapter: Zeus with some archaeologists in Illyria:


4,047 Years Before the Final Exodus

He sat in the dartship and hovered far above the ground.  Zeus listened intently to the conversation going on below.

“No, move over there.”  Pause.  “That’s it.  Brush it away slightly.”  Zeus sipped some water and studied the viewer.  The telescopic lens worked well, but he couldn’t make out any detail.  “Perfect.  Gently lift your side.  Gently.  Good.  Good.  Set it down now.  Good.  Excellent!”

Zeus watched the gray-haired man move.  He was obviously the one in charge.  There were six others in the group, two of whom appeared to be students of this history scholar.  Scholar Epimetheus he was called.  They were all in a pit of dirt and fishing bits and pieces from the ground.

“Scholar,” one of the women began, “is it the same as the one you found last month?”

“No,” he replied.  He was out of breath.  “It’s even better.” He laughed.  “There even seems to be more down there.  I can’t wait!  Look at the layers of sediment.  This must be four or five thousand years antediluvian.”

Zeus placed the water in a holder and put his hands on the inductive datapads.  The craft began to descend and it landed about fifty meters from the dig site.  He opened the door on the dartship and bit the inside of his cheek.  What would he need?  He picked up his satchel and decided to bring the whole thing.  He tossed the black bag over his shoulder and walked across the tall grass.  It was beautiful here, no question.  They weren’t far from the ocean and he closed his eyes, almost wistfully, as he inhaled the slightly salty air. 

Zeus arrived at the edge of the pit and looked down.  Ten meters below, seven people were busily clearing dirt from a cluster of objects.  The ground they worked on was sloped and sectioned off with a twine grid.  Zeus looked around the edge of the clearing and saw the horses and carts on the far side.  The wagons were still loaded with supplies and he began to walk toward them.

“Who goes there?” Epimetheus yelled.  The older man was looking up and shading his eyes.  He was grimy, of course, and wearing heavy wool breeches and a tightly buttoned shirt.  The other men also wore wool breeches but not shirts.    Not surprising.  That was the standard attire for workmen.  Robes didn’t lend themselves well to dirty work or hazardous conditions.  The two women that Zeus saw, however, wore the more traditional flowing robes, though some of the excess cloth had been bunched and tied.

“Lord Zeus!” one of the men said in a loud whisper.

“My Lord!” another man said.  Except for the scholar, all of them fell to their knees and bowed. 

Epimetheus seemed dazed.  “Is that really you, Lord Zeus?”

Zeus inhaled deeply and nodded.  “It is.”  Finally, the scholar dropped to one knee.  Zeus shook his head and waved his hands.  “Stand.  All of you, stand up.”  They complied.  They stared at him for several long moments and said nothing.  Part of their confusion was no doubt related to the almost-shining synthetic singlesuit he wore.  Olympians had always been seen in robes.

“My Lord,” Epimetheus began, “this is a great honor.”

“I’m sure.”

“We are so pleased you have come.  May I ask how you knew where to find us?  Did we find something worthy of your attention?”

Zeus raised an eyebrow.  “I am the Lord of Lords, correct?”  They all nodded their heads.  “There are certain parts of Kobol that I endeavor to monitor more closely than others.  This is one of those places.”

“I see, Lord.”  Epimetheus looked at his assistants and then he remembered his find.  “Lord Zeus, did you see what we have discovered here?”

Zeus walked calmly toward the horses and carts a dozen or so meters away.  “Not closely, but I can guess.”

Epimetheus picked up a chunk of brown and gray dirt.  A rounded edge emerged from one of the jagged sides.  “It seems to be some sort of pottery, Lord Zeus.  Oddly, it seems light.  Lighter than I would expect any kind of pottery to be.”

Zeus squinted and looked down at the lump the man held up.  “I see.  Knock some of that dirt off.”

Epimetheus hesitated and looked from the find back up to Zeus.  “My Lord, I’m afraid that if I were to do so too forcefully, it might damage this …”

“Don’t worry about it,” Zeus interrupted.  “Throw it on the ground and knock the dirt off.  It won’t break.”

Epimetheus licked his lips and looked at the confused, almost frightened, expressions of his helpers.  He took in a deep breath, lifted the chunk and threw it onto the solid ground near his foot.  He closed his eyes and a cloud of dust and dirt exploded.  A student leaned over and lifted the container from the ground.  “What is it?”

The find was dirty and dinged up but Zeus recognized it immediately.  He shook his head and chuckled lightly.  “It’s a bottle.”

Epimetheus looked at it closely and then back to Zeus.  “Like no bottle I’ve ever seen.”

Zeus tilted his head and scoffed, “It’s made of plastic.”  The team looked at each other and Zeus hedged off their next question by saying, “Plastic is a man-made material.  Very lightweight.  People used to use it for just about everything.  Cups, plates, toys, weapons, boxes, even clothes.  Prosthetic limbs.”

Epimetheus stared at the bottle with an open mouth.  “You said, ‘used to,’ Lord.  I’ve never heard or seen plastic before.”

“Of course you haven’t.  It hasn’t been used by the people of Kobol in thousands of years.”

Epimetheus’ students stepped closer to their scholar.  The old man staggered and laughed nervously.  “My Lord.  This is fantastic.”

He laughed again as one of his students raised her voice to be heard.  “My Lord, how did it get here?  Until just a few centuries ago, there were no settlements on Illyria.”

“True,” Zeus said as he continued to walk toward the carts.  “And also not true.”  He set his bag down by one of the large wooden wagon wheels and he turned toward the pit with his hands clasped behind his back.  “True, in that no one from the Twelve Tribes or any other tribe lived here.  Not true, in that people lived here long before the Twelve Tribes ever existed.”

They were quiet.  Zeus expected that and he turned to study the contents of the cart.  After the war against the Draco wrapped up, Zeus began to partition Scythia and the Thracian islands.  Many of the nations felt they were getting short shrift and they complained.  Loudly.  Finally, Zeus had to reveal the existence of Illyria and how it would be carved up for the Twelve Tribes.  That quieted them down until they realized the gods wouldn’t help them move to this “new” continent right away.

“My Lord,” Epimetheus began, “there were people on Kobol long before the Twelve Tribes?”

Zeus nodded as he lifted a box and then he shouted, “Yes.”

“And here?  In Illyria?”

Zeus straightened and walked toward the second wagon.  “Yes.  This is where mankind was born, really.  The first settlements on this world were here.”  He turned toward the pit and scanned their faces.  “I mean, literally, right here.”  He rifled through the goods on the second cart.  A box of dried foods, canteens of water, spare pick axes and shovels and … ah.  Good.  They did have some.  He pulled the heavy box from the wagon and set it on the ground.  “This is where I lived, too.”

“Here?” Epimetheus said.

“Yes.  This used to be called Fardan.  It was …” he paused and sighed, “the oldest city on Larsa.”

There was a moment of silence.  A single breeze blew over the grass and sent wisps of dust into the pit.   “What’s ‘Larsa,’ my Lord?”

“Kobol is,” Zeus answered.  “Larsa is what we used to call it before the war.”

Epimetheus chuckled again.  “’War?’”

Zeus nodded.  He didn’t smile.  “A war unlike anything you might imagine.  Billions of people were killed.  Only thousands survived.  Most of them were in Scythia.  They migrated north into Galatia and became the Twelve Tribes.  The people who were left after the war in Galatia and Illyria were too sick to reproduce successfully.  They died out.”

Again, the people in the pit were quiet.  Zeus however, was not.  He strangely felt unburdened.  He breathed easier as he told everyone the truth of this world. 

“We Olympians survived in a spacecraft.  We waited in space for thousands of years for the planet to heal itself after the cataclysm and then our ship stupidly crashed into the Cambunian Mountains.”  He looked down at Epimetheus’ face.  His mouth was still wide open.  “That ship was called Olympus and that’s why you call our home by that name.”

Epimetheus whipped out a small notebook and pulled a pencil from the book’s leather binding.  He scribbled furiously and then looked up at Zeus for more information.  “Please, my Lord.  If you’re willing to continue, I’m willing to write.”

Zeus nodded.  “After a while and some hemming and hawing on our part, we decided to come down the mountain and help out the humans that survived.”

“Just before the Great Flood?” a female student asked.

“Exactly.  So, we took it upon ourselves to teach and guide mankind.  We want mankind to flourish better than ever before.”  He reached onto the cart and removed a small tin.  “So you can avoid the wars that cost so very many lives.”

“My Lord,” Epimetheus said with a smile, “other than the purge of the heathens in the south fourteen centuries ago, you’ve been more than successful.”

“Yes,” Zeus said.  “I know.”

“So this,” a student said, speaking to the scholar, “is the oldest inhabited spot in the history of the world?”

“Yes,” Zeus said.  He unzipped his satchel.

“How old?” he asked.

The god stood and thought for a moment.  “Well, it’s, what, fifteen sixty-three postdiluvian?”  The group nodded.  “The war was about sixty-five hundred years before the Flood.  Fardan was inhabited, shit.”  He shook his head.  “I would say, Fardan was inhabited about twelve thousand years before that.  It was the city with the longest continual habitation.”  He pointed to the south.  “There used to be a great river there.  It was mostly gone even by my time, but that’s where the first settlements were made.”  The group turned and looked even though they couldn’t see out of the pit.

“So, about … twenty thousand years?” Epimetheus said.

“Sounds right.”  Zeus opened the box and removed one of the blue cylinders.  He chuckled for a moment.  “How did you guys find this place?”

“We were riding north,” Epimetheus began, “and Diamon spotted a long rod sticking out of the ground.”  A sweaty young man lifted a meter-long shaft of plastic.  “We decided to dig here.” 

Zeus motioned with his thumb and pointed over his shoulder.  “If you dug on that hill about a kilometer north, you would have found something really great.”

“What’s that?” Epimetheus asked eagerly.

“The biggest of the ancient stone temples.”  Zeus cleared his throat.  “A good six thousand years ago … sorry, I mean fourteen thousand years ago, this part of Illyria was ruled by monarchs of a kingdom that worshipped the sun, for the most part.  During that kingdom’s golden age, their greatest fayrakh … that’s their name for a king … built a huge temple made of stone.”  Again, Epimetheus was scribbling in his notebook.  “Once Nahaten died, it was made a tomb.  The people still held worship services there for centuries until they were conquered by the Caesar.”  Zeus looked up from the cylinder and saw one of the young men slowly moving toward the ladder.  “You.  Stop.”  He complied.

“The temple was a three-sided pyramid made of sandstone, limestone and granite.  It was an amazing sight, even millennia later.  Frak, it was still beautiful after the war.  Singed, a little.  Several centuries ago, Poseidon, Hades and I came here and just stared at it for hours.  It was … breathtaking.”

After a pause, Epimetheus furrowed his brow.  “Lord Zeus,” he started, “if you saw it just several centuries ago, why can’t we see it now?”

Zeus rose up onto his knees and opened the small tin.  “We covered it up.”  The group seemed shocked by this.  As they mumbled among themselves, Zeus continued, “Took a long time for Hermes, Hephaestus and Hades … I think Hestia helped, too …”

“My Lord,” Epimetheus interrupted, “why would you cover something like that up?”

Zeus pulled a match from the tin, lit the fuse on the blue stick of trinitrotoluene and threw it into the pit by the ladder.  As the people scattered, Zeus stood and said, “Because we didn’t want anyone to find it.”

When the explosive went off, it destroyed the ladder and collapsed part of the wall.  The seven people crowded toward the far corner of the pit and cowered.  Zeus stood and removed a large automatic rifle from his satchel.  Epimetheus stepped forward and pleaded, “Lord Zeus!  I beg you!  We had no idea!”

“I know,” Zeus said as he released the safety on the weapon, “and I’m sorry.  I can’t afford for anyone to know.”  He placed the butt against his shoulder and lined the man up in his sight.  With a squeeze of the trigger, several bullets leapt from the gun and tore into Epimetheus’ chest.  Zeus then lined up the others.  He fired.  And fired again.  Most of the group dropped but one of the women began to run away from the corner and Zeus stopped to watch her.  Where could she go?  Zeus struck another match, lit another stick of TNT and threw it in.  The woman screamed and ran toward a corner where Zeus shot her.  The TNT exploded and destroyed most of the group’s finds. 

He collected the tin of matches and two more sticks.  Zeus then walked along the perimeter of the pit and watched the bodies carefully.  None moved.  Zeus lit both fuses at once and tossed one toward the corpses and the other into the hole where they unearthed the plastic bottle.  Zeus trotted away from the pit before they exploded.  Rock, dirt and smoke rained down and Zeus moved toward the horse carts.  He unhitched the wagons and slapped the hindquarters of both animals.  They ran away.  Zeus angled the carts toward the pit and he moved behind them.  After digging his feet into the ground, Zeus pushed forward as hard as he could.  A few minutes later, both wagons were in the pit.

Zeus flipped the safety on his rifle and stowed it in the bag.  He removed an earpiece from his pocket and was prepared to put it in his ear but he paused.  He opened and closed his jaw a few times and ran his finger into his canals to try and stop the ringing.  No use.  He went ahead and put the communications device in and pressed a button.

“Hermes,” he said.

After a few beeps, he answered, “Go ahead, Zeus.”

“It’s done.”

“Understood,” Hermes replied.  “Did they get anything out of there?”

“No.”  Zeus walked around the edge of the pit.  “Truck in some dirt and regrade this whole area.”  He looked toward the hill that concealed Nahaten’s tomb.  “The pyramid hills, too.”

“That’ll take time without some help.”

Zeus inhaled deeply and looked toward his dartship.  “Fill in the pit first.  Then we bring in work crews to cover up everything else.  Maybe the best way to prevent this from happening again is to build a city on top of it all.”

Hermes answered, “Maybe.”

Zeus surveyed the area again and then strode toward the dartship.  “We’ll call it Olympia and make it a kind of gift from the gods.”

“Sure.  Why not?”

“Alright, Hermes.  Get cracking.”  Zeus pressed a button and the earpiece went dead.  He opened the door to the craft and tossed his satchel into the passenger seat.  He looked back one more time and sighed.  After a moment, he grinned.  It felt good to say the truth out loud like that.

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