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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Writing, Again: Part I

Where, oh where, have I been?

Around.  Doing stuff.  Not writing, though.  Believe me, I'd rather be writing than just about anything else.

I've had a taste for Kobol for a few months now.  I get a germ of an idea of how to handle something in Book Five ... and I scribble it down, hoping I don't forget the essence of it whenever I decide to get cracking on that again.

I got tired of having those thoughts and feelings and decided to just go for it.  I can't, however, dive into Book Five without my head in the right place, so I'm re-reading the Trilogy.

A few chapters into Book One, I decided that a rewriting was in order, too.

Book One was always, always a mean pill.  Almost a chore.  Don't get me wrong; I love it, but it was a tough nut to crack.

I knew I wanted to parallel the Thirteenth Tribe with the Lords themselves and that meant not only setting up this Utopia that the Lords created, but also showing the creation of the organic Cylons and coming up with a reason to get them to leave Kobol.  I went through a few different versions of the book before I clicked "publish."

In the end, I was satisfied if not entirely pleased.  Reading it again ... I don't know.  I'm a hard critic, especially on myself.  I found that it drags in places (something echoed by a few reviews, too).  More egregious than that, I realized how often I "told" instead of "showed."  Meaning, instead of presenting action or dialogue about a subject or scene, the author just typed a bunch of paragraphs about it.  That's lazy.

So I re-wrote.  I "showed" where I quite unnecessarily "told."  In tightening things up, I removed five chapters that didn't add to the overarching narrative (a couple were about establishing the Lords and their place in the world, a couple were about the organic Cylons).

I hit "publish" again.  Yes, the edits are final and they're available now on Smashwords (filtering out to other ebook retailers in the coming days/weeks).  Click the banner:

The chapters I removed?  You can read them after the JUMP.

This Demeter chapter is one of those "world-building chapters" I mentioned.  Even though it presents a mood piece about the gods and how they're worshipped, its characters and the situation don't factor into the main tale (beyond the fact that the Lords are feeling old and stale).  Also, I got to show off a bit of my ancient Greek worship and mythology knowledge.

2,609 Years Before the Final Exodus

"Hail, Demeter Anesidora," the priestess said from atop the steps.  "May her fertile fields continue to reap great bounties!"

Demeter stood and bowed.  She flung her arms wide and from the flaming cauldron, shoots of wheat sprayed into the air and rained down onto the crowd.  They applauded and pulled the grain from their hair.  Demeter rose and said, her voice booming, "The ground will provide."

The gathered thousands applauded again and turned toward their plates.  Demeter walked around the end of her table and sat behind her own plate of fruit, beside the Goddess Hestia.

"Nice trick," she said quietly.

Demeter grinned, "Poseidon did something like it with fish a while back."

"Oh, Poseidon," Hestia said.  "I haven't heard you mention his name in some time."

Demeter shook her head and looked toward the crowds.  "There hasn't been a need to mention it."

They sat on the marble platform above the small square and cordoned-off streets of downtown Theonpolis.  The Opera House loomed nearby and traffic had to make do with only two thirds of that circle being open.  Centuries ago, these harvest festivals were held in the nearby town of Eleusis, the first true farming community Demeter established with the humans on Kobol.  That village faded as did Kobol's reliance on traditional agriculture.

"Don't you wish you had a temple to call your own?" Demeter asked.  "A place to gather hundreds or thousands of people to listen to your every word?"

Hestia shook her head and ate an orange.  "No.  You know every hearth in every home is an altar to me."

Demeter laughed.  "That's more than enough."

"You've always been a hard one to placate with worship," Demeter said.

"You used to be," Hestia responded.  "What changed?"

She tilted her head and said, softly, "Once it dwindled a while back, I missed it."

Hestia nodded and lifted an apple slice.  "What changed?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean," Hestia tried to say with part of an apple in her mouth.  She chewed a few times and then said from the left side of her mouth, "I mean, what changed as far as the worship?  This doesn't look like dwindling to me."

Demeter nodded and she looked at her plate.  Colorful fruits and a few vegetables.  She turned toward one of the attending priestesses, "Melissa Carme, can you bring us some fresh bread?"

She bowed and said, "Of course, Goddess."  She ran into the temple.

Demeter opened her mouth as though she was about to speak, but she didn't make a sound.  She closed her mouth and sank in her chair a little.  The priestess emerged with a platter of bread, and as she placed it on the table, she sensed the change in Demeter's Chara.  Frightened, she ran back to her position on the steps, outside of the Chara's range.  Finally, Demeter spoke, "It started again about eight years ago.  The harvest season after Persephone … died."

Hestia stopped chewing and she turned toward Demeter slowly.  Her eyes were wide and then, as she realized where Demeter was going with this, her eyes rolled back into her head.  A silent cursing of her own stupidity.

"There was a drought.  It wasn't damaging to the world, really.  No one went hungry."  Demeter cleared her throat.  "But the smaller communities that still relied on local farming and harvests … they were hit hard."

"I'm sorry, Demeter," Hestia said.  "I didn't think."

"No, that's fine," she said.  "The people connected one with the other.  Especially since I didn't attend the Spring festival that year."  Demeter pulled the red poppy from her gown and looked at it for a moment before tossing it to the table.

Hestia took a piece of bread and ate it quickly.  The people below were eating and laughing cheerfully.  She glanced over at Demeter.  She seemed to be forcing a grin onto her face.

"I'm worried, Hestia."

She swallowed the bread and asked, quietly, "Why?"

Demeter sighed.  "I'm worried that Persephone was only the beginning."

This next chapter is all about the creation of the organic Cylons.  The information in it is nothing that couldn't have been summarized and included in other chapters.

2,606 Years Before the Final Exodus

It was a beautiful day in the park.  Tritos was in his usual place, sitting under a tree, while his mother and father sat at separate tables in the sunlight.  The birds sang above him.  Bicyclists rolled past along the nearby path.  The Temple of Poseidon sat on the hilltop.  There was a new addition, though.  Tritos' young father.  He was lying on a third table between his parents.

"It is complete," Helena said.  She stood from her table and went to look at young Thersites closely.

"Ready for transfer."  Thersites hadn't looked at his younger self all day.  Tritos noticed this.

Young father began to twitch.  Helena walked around the table, checking on the young man.  And then the twitching stopped.

"Thersites, can you hear me?" she said.

Tritos instinctively looked to his father, still sitting at his table.  But his father didn't look away.  Tritos looked back to the table and saw young father – young Thersites – moving his head.  He wasn't moving a while ago.

"Yes.  I hear you," he said.

Helena shined a light into young father's eyes.  "When we spoke at breakfast this morning, I said three, unrelated words.  What were they?"

Young Thersites licked his lips loudly.  "Boat. Grandmother.  Asteroid."

Helena glanced over at older Thersites, "And you?  What were the three words I told you?"

Without turning away, Thersites responded, "Yesterday, you told me, 'Boat, grandmother and asteroid.'  This morning it was, 'Piano, grass and moon.'"

Yesterday?  Tritos tried to remember yesterday.  Ah, yes.  Yesterday afternoon, old father and young father were connected by gray tubes stuck in their heads. 

Helena nodded and went back to her table.  "I just wanted to make sure there wasn't any kind of residual connection."

Young father looked as though he was struggling to get off the table.  Tritos wanted to help.  He tried to get up from under the tree, but then he realized he couldn't move.  He was still tied to a chair.

The realization took the image of the park away.  No more birds.  No more sunlight.  He was back in the dimly lit laboratory under a barn.  But it seemed so real!  Every time he "went" to the park, there seemed to be new details.  The birds flying above were geese.  He hadn't noticed that before.

Tritos tried to remember the birds and he found himself denying that there wasn't a real park.  His parents had never taken him there.  It was "implanted" in his memory, if he had understood them correctly.  So many places and things in his head!  He had walked the streets of Theonpolis.  He stood at the top of a skyscraper in Delphi.  He smelled the ocean air by the docks in Argos.  All of those sensations were there, in his mind, but he knew he had never really been in those places.

Where had Tritos been?  Where had he really gone?  It took effort for him to parse the real from the implanted.  He spent nearly all of his time in the laboratory and in the side room where he slept under lock and key.  One time, his mother took him up into the barn and he touched a cow.  He even caught a glimpse of daylight before father found them and yelled.

And what memories were real?  Tritos had no way of knowing.  Some days he would awaken with a headache and his mother would ask about the time they went horseback riding, or something else.  Yes, he remembered it vividly then, as she asked, but he struggled to think of a time before that point when he recalled bouncing on the horse with the saddlehorn irritating his crotch.  After a lot of thought, Tritos came to the conclusion that it had been implanted.

"Can you wipe him clean?" Helena asked.

Thersites lowered his head, "We just got him going.  We should run more tests."

She shook her head.  "We've run tests on your clones for the last two years.  We've perfected the connected upload.  We need to develop a wireless upload."

He slammed his fist on the desk, "I'm not a communications expert!  And neither are you."

Helena stood, "Perhaps you have someone else in mind?  Someone else you can ensnare?"

For the first time in hours, Thersites turned to face her.  "'Ensnare?'  You came here of your own free will.  You have remained here of your own free will."

She walked over to Tritos while she spoke, "Only because I cannot fathom the punishment for what we've done."  She leaned over and brushed Tritos' cheek.  He smiled.

"If we're successful," Thersites said as he returned to his processors, "There will be no punishment."
Helena held her son's face in her hands, "Are you hungry?"

Thersites didn't like it when Tritos spoke, so he nodded, still smiling.  Helena disappeared and returned quickly with a drink and straw.  She held it for him so he could drink.  Fruit!  Tritos' favorite.  He swigged half the glass down and whispered to her, "Thank you, mother."  She answered with a smile.

Helena let Tritos finish and then she wiped his mouth with a cloth.  She returned to her workstation and began typing on the computer.  "Blank your younger self.  We can try a connected, non-invasive upload tomorrow."

Thersites said nothing.  He shook his head slowly and mumbled something that Tritos didn't hear.  Tritos didn't like the way his father treated his mother.  Sometimes it made him angry.

This next chapter is another "world-builder" with a Lord who isn't integral to this particular part of the story.

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 to her right already.

"This evening," she said, her voice booming across the festival square, "we bring together thousands in holy matrimony."  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.

Hera lifted her right arm.  The marble peacocks on either side of the temple's steps began to glow and streams of colored light poured into the air.  A bronze cow lifted from the altar and hovered down the steps.  Priests, priestesses and worshippers alike bowed toward the figure as it completed its circuit before returning to the altar.  "In the name of the Lords of Kobol," she began, "we bless these unions."

She smiled broadly and nodded toward waiting acolytes.  They carried large, brass bowls into the crowd.  Brides and grooms took pomegranate arils from the vessels and placed them on their tongues.  After several minutes, the acolytes returned and a single girl carried her bowl toward the altar before which Hera stood.

Taking one seed from the bowl, she looked across the audience and said, "May your marriages be as sweet as this."  She put the aril in her mouth and bit it.  The familiar taste washed over her tongue and, yes, it was sweet.  The lovers in attendance bit their seeds finally and then embraced their new spouses.  They kissed and shouted their thanks to the "Queen of Heaven."

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, brown hair was kept neatly restrained within her crown.  She lightly touched the shoulders of all that she passed.

"Thank you, goddess," one woman gushed.  Her face was dominated by a beaming smile undoubtedly aided by Hera's Chara.

"You are quite welcome," she said in return. 

"Goddess," a man called.  "I hope you can bless us."

Hera turned and looked toward the man.  "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.  "Do you often see unions of this size?" a wife asked.

"No, we don't."  Hera moved to their side and began placing her hands on their shoulders.  "May your hearts grow as big as your family."  They bowed as she touched them and she smirked.  "And may your home grow in size, too, if you need it."  They laughed and bowed to the goddess before she moved back into the crowd. 

As Hera touched the men and women on their shoulders, she pondered the irony of her station.  Popular as she was, Hera wasn't allowed on Mount Olympus.  Her marriage with the "King of Heaven" existed in name only, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of a divorce.  Yet, she was regarded as the goddess of marriage.  It was in her name that couples were wed.  Groups, too.  When she performed these mass ceremonies several times a year, she had to put on a good face.  It wasn't hard, though.  She enjoyed the attention.

Publicly, she maintained her love for Zeus and the Pantheon.  She was considered part of the Olympic Council, even though she never went to any of the meetings.  She knew that many people suspected strife between Zeus and Hera but she didn't have a problem with that.  Rumors of their difficulties were as ancient as Zeus' affairs with early tribal nymphs.  For many people, it was verified when Zeus claimed the strongman Heracles as his son.  Hera spoke against her husband for that at her temples, but it made no difference, really.  Some good literature was written, though.

"Goddess," one bride said as Hera touched her shoulder.


The woman looked up and then to her now-nervous husband.  "I am so sorry, but … what does it mean if the juice from my pomegranate seed was sour and not sweet?"

The husband's face showed dismay, but Hera put her hand on both of their arms.  "Do not fret, my dear.  It simply means you got a sour seed.  There's no need to read anything more into it than that."

"It's not a bad omen?" the young man asked.

"No," Hera said.  "Not at all."

She turned and walked away.  She maintained her smile but she couldn't help berate them in her mind.  Superstitious lot.  All of Kobol seemed to be, nearly by definition.  She couldn't blame them, though. 
The crowd around her began to thin out.  Hera turned back toward the temple and began to walk.  She spotted the group family from before and she paused.  She watched as the men and women laughed and spoke to each other.  They touched each other lovingly and seemed to genuinely care for one another.  Hera moved toward them and spoke as she approached.

"Aphrodite has certainly blessed you all."  The seven spouses turned quickly and bowed when they saw Hera again.  "You seem to be filled with love for each other.  An abundance of it."

"Yes, goddess," one wife said.  "We attended an engagement festival of hers last year.  We believe she did bless us."

"Indeed," Hera replied.

"Thank you again, my Lord," a husband said.

Hera smiled and nodded slowly.  She looked across their faces and she felt … alone.  "Tell me, when you leave here today, will you be returning home to some sort of feast?"

They smiled and nodded.  "Yes, goddess," a few said.

Hera bowed before them and said, softly, "I humbly ask if I may be invited."

All of the spouses' eyes widened and they looked at each other.  "Goddess," one husband began, "we would like nothing more.  I fear that our home is small and a bit untidy."

Hera laughed, "I'm not the goddess of cleanliness."

A short, blonde woman stepped forward, bowed and took Hera's hand.  "Please, Lord Hera.  Will you join us for dinner?"

She leaned forward.  "I would be honored."

The seven were overjoyed and they bounced across the sidewalk as they guided Hera away from the temple and along Ouranos Avenue, west from the city's center and over an arm of the Peneius River.  They emerged on the western side of Theonpolis and in the residential area.  Hundreds of homes and apartment buildings filled the landscape and the family led Hera and the now-burgeoning crowd toward their own home.

They passed a few newer complexes before they came to a road with nothing but older homes.  The buildings weren't ramshackle, but they were in need of upkeep.  The seven spouses waved for Hera to follow them and they walked through a white picket fence's gate and onto a crowded lawn.  Several older people were already there and cooking over two grills.

"Goddess Hera!" one elderly woman exclaimed. 

She almost felt embarrassed and Hera nodded toward her.  "Good evening.  I hope you have enough for one more."

"Just one?" she replied. 

Hera turned and saw the dozens of people crowding at the edges of the yard and along the fence.  They were all smiling and eager to see a Lord among them in their own neighborhood.  "Well, it's your home.  If you can't handle the extra visitors, I'll ask them to leave."

The women looked at each other while an older man strode to the fence.  He leaned against it and spoke to one of the neighbors.  "If you and some others want to drag your grills over and bring your own meats, I think we can turn this into a block party."

Hera smiled and watched the visitors disperse toward their own homes.  She noticed for the first time how loud the dozens of hangers-on were once they were gone.  With the newfound silence, she looked toward the newlyweds and asked, "So?  What are your names?"

The wife who spoke the most before stepped forward and pointed at each of them while they tended to the food, the extra chairs or the running children.  Hera listened and nodded, but she knew she would never remember them all.  "And these are your parents?  Or at least parents-in-law?"

The woman chuckled and pointed again, "Yes.  This is my mother.  The rest are the parents of my husbands and wives."

Hera smiled and sat at the picnic table.  The wood creaked and her knees brushed the underside of the table's planks.  She was a bit too large though she didn't know where else to sit.  She gathered a handful of her white gown, wadded it up and placed it on the bench next to her.

For the next several minutes, she watched the family dart about the yard, in and out of the house and after laughing children.  She smiled.  It was noisy, yes.  But the business and the activity seemed to invigorate her.  She breathed deeply and just studied them all.  She felt dejected only once: when she realized that, in a few hours, she'd have to return to her solitary home at the Gates of Hera.  Hecate might be there, but even if she was, it wouldn't matter much. 

Wedding ceremonies aside, Hera felt useless.  She had been outside the loop for millennia and for nearly that long she had not helped the people in a way that she felt substantive.  Demeter visited Hera a few years ago, before Persephone's departure.  She felt the same way.

After a short while, some of the newlyweds sat down at the table with a plate of food.  They brought Hera a large selection of meats and vegetables.  "I didn't know what you would like, goddess."

She smiled at the overflowing paper plate and lifted a sausage wrapped in a pita.  "It all looks good."  She took a large bite and hesitated to allow the juices to flow in her mouth.  She closed her eyes for a moment and looked across the table.  "It is delicious.  Homemade sausage?"

"Yes, goddess," the woman said.  "My husband, Lathos, works on a farm in Eleusis.  They make all kinds of meat there."

"Mmm," Hera grunted as she ate more.  "He's one of the few farmers left there, isn't he?"

"I am," he said.  He sat down on the far end of the same bench as Hera.

"You needn't stay so far away, Lathos," she said.  "I won't bite."  He chuckled and slid a little closer.  Hera brought the sandwich back toward her mouth and she quickly said, "Not unless you taste as good as this."
Everyone laughed and began to eat now that the Lord had been served.  Hera finished the sausage and began to eat a bit of the beans.

"Goddess," one of the other wives began, "do you mind if I ask why you came?"

Hera lowered her fork and grinned.  "I enjoy the company of others.  You are surrounded," she looked around the yard and saw that neighbors' grills were smoking now just outside the yard, "by life and happiness.  I wanted to see it all for myself."

The woman nodded and returned to her meal.

After a moment, Hera looked at the house again.  The chipping paint caught her eye.  The aging wood.  "You are happy here, yes?"

The spouses looked up, some with full mouths, and nodded.  Some said, "Yes, goddess."

"Sometimes I fear … I worry that we may have given mankind too much.  That our desire for you to be free and happy has made you all dependent."

Lathos shook his head and sipped his water.  "No, goddess.  Not at all."  He swallowed his food with force and looked toward Hera.  "My husbands all have jobs.  We like the work.  Salo is a musician," he pointed to the short, blonde wife, "and two of our other wives have a gardening business together.  We know we are free to do nothing, but we enjoy the tasks we take on."

Salo straightened up as she spoke, "The gods provide all.  Our homes, our food, clothes and more.  We would be happy to accept those but we know that the Lords want us to better ourselves and Kobol by being involved in society.  We thank you for those gifts, certainly …"

"So say we all," the people around the table said.

"… but we are more than willing to do our part."

Hera smiled and said, "Good.  At least we've done that much."

This next chapter is a tricky one.  It's certainly important as it sets up Iole as Aurora's assistant and a spokesperson for the Thirteenth Tribe.  But it does so in a way that strikes me as clichéd now.  Anytime a woman goes through trauma, it seems, the author subjects the character to rape.  Well, Iole was no different.  I transplanted some of the important information to a later chapter, wherein Iole meets with Aurora.  There's a kind of double flashback there that feels unwieldy, but editing that will have to wait for a later rewrite.

2,509 Years Before the Final Exodus

"Watch out for snakes."

Iole was used to this by now.  Some random passerby on the street throwing out a phrase or some other insult.  She had endured it for nearly a decade ever since her people had been noticed by everyone else.
"Noticed," that is, and not "revealed."  As there are only twelve different versions, it only took observant Kobollians a few years to notice that there seemed to be an awfully large number of similar looking people running around.  For decades, Iole and her brothers and sisters spread out across the planet, minimizing the amount of saturation in any given city.  But after some time, the new siblings would just stay near where they were created.  Theonpolis.

This was tough for Iole.  She had lived in Theonpolis ever since she came down from Mount Olympus.  She had been transferred to a new body twice: once after dying of old age and then again after a stupid boating accident.  Having more "copies" running around, she began to get the double-takes and the whisperings on the street.  Now that there were three thousand of her people, almost half of whom in Theonpolis, they couldn't be unnoticed any longer.

"Who are these people?" a news commentator began one night nine years ago.  The dechopem's screen shifted to show various Mylenes, Crassuses, Jasons, and, yes, Ioles, walking along the street, eating, talking, whatever.  "A growing number of citizens have noticed an absurd amount of twins, triplets, and possibly more in recent months.  Is this something we should be worried about?  Is it some sort of new cult?  We go now to Calydos Decadontous for more."

Iole was sitting at home then.  She clutched her knees close to her chest and watched, horrified, as mankind awkwardly tried to figure her out.  Dissect her, her kin and her aims on the screens of every citizen. 

"We asked some of the residents what they thought about these people," the reporter said.

An older woman glanced over her shoulders as she spoke, "It is odd for so many people to have multiple identical children.  I don't understand it."

A younger man shrugged, "I didn't notice or think anything of it until you showed me the pictures."

Off camera, the reporter asked, "What do you think now?"

He shrugged again, "It is strange, certainly.  But I don't think it means anything."

"I think it must be some sort of medical experiment gone wrong," one pedestrian said.

"But the Lords have forbidden human cloning," Calydos said off camera.

"True, but," as he continued to speak, the pedestrian looked suddenly nervous, "who's to say the Lords didn't do this themselves?  I'm not blaspheming here," he held up his hands, "I'm just guessing because I don't know the whole story."

"No one knows the whole story, and that may be the point."  The reporter was walking in front of an open-air café in the market district.  "We asked Theonpolis' leaders for comment, including the Chief Quorum Archon herself, and we received only a written reply."  The text of the reply appeared on screen as she read it, "'We are unaware of any kind of new people, race or experiment from the gods.  We are not aware of any kind of subversive religious activity.  To speculate about this issue further would be pointless and may only serve to inflame the public.'  We tried talking to a few of these people, but they refused …"  Iole turned off the wall and tried to go to sleep, but it was not going to work.

In the weeks after the reports began airing, more people took notice of her and her siblings.  Rumors persisted: they were created by Zeus to fit into certain roles in society, that they were multiple-born children from a ridiculously fertile farm woman, that they were created in a laboratory.  None of Iole's people commented to anyone on any aspect of their history, thanks to Zeus' orders and advice from Aurora.

"Once you leave Olympus," Aurora said, holding Iole's shoulder, "you and your kind must keep quiet about your origins."

Iole was confused.  "That's what Lord Zeus said, but I don't understand.  Mother had said that we would be able to help mankind with the technology that created us."

"No doubt, but mankind is not ready yet for that responsibility, nor are they ready to deal with the manner in which you were created."  Aurora released Iole, "It would be best for all of you if none of you said anything."  And that's what she told her siblings when she returned from Olympus eighty years prior. 

Tonight, Iole sat in a nook of a small, upscale eatery in Theonpolis.  Three nights a week, she played piano here.  She enjoyed it for the music, of course, but because she was concealed from the public, she didn't get those looks or hear the comments she usually got when she walked to or from work. 

As the rumors continued, ulterior motives were ascribed to her people.  They were called, "Serpens," meaning "snakes."  Thus, the "watch out for snakes" comment that seemed to be a favorite of humans in the city.  "Snake in the grass" was another.  After a time, some had even begun to refer to them as the "Thirteenth Tribe," mostly as a derogatory term.  Iole didn't have a problem with that, so much.  They were different than any of the other tribes that made up mankind.  Why not have their own designation?

Iole finished up her shift at the piano as the dining room was closed.  She pulled the cover over the keys and left the nook.  Iole walked around to the small tip box located by a partition and found a few coins inside.  Pocketing those, she went to see the manager in his office.

"I'm leaving now, if that's alright with you."

He didn't look up, "Certainly.  You'll be back tomorrow night since Meras is sick, right?"

"Yes.  I'll see you then."  He grunted as Iole left.  The manager had been more talkative and friendly before the word got out about her people.  Now he was as confused and frightened as anyone.  He didn't speak to her very much as a result.

Decades ago, she spoke with Asclepius about what to do with her life.  She pursued careers in the arts and she had the restaurant gig, low paying as it was.  She also was occasionally contracted to do mural work for a private museum.  It paid well, but it was not a steady job.  She felt sated by these things but not truly fulfilled.  She couldn't put her finger on it. 

Iole was not ashamed to say she was disappointed in Lord Asclepius.  After she left Mount Olympus, she sent messages to him with updates on her life.  He responded twice over the years.  But once news about her people broke and societal pressures came to bear, he didn't respond at all.  Occasionally, she wrote to him, pleading for a Lord go on the record as supporting her people, but she heard nothing back.

Iole walked down the street, hearing a din around the corner.  She furrowed her brow as she got closer and she looked ahead.  Near the Temple of Dionysus, there was a great party.  "That time of year again," she said to herself as she began to recognize the songs being sung.  The Bacchanalia was essentially god-sanctioned drunkenness and debauchery on a massive scale.  Thousands packed into a few city blocks around the Temple, played and listened to music, drank wine and liquor, ate all they could and fornicated right there in the street.  Normally that much excess would be frowned upon by Theonpolis police, but this was a special occasion.

Iole stopped at the intersection, watching the fire-lit revelry for a moment and then turning to mentally map out a course home.  She would have to go a couple of blocks out of her way.  She crossed the street after a vehicle glided past and walked along a row of cafés, each one darkened given the late hour.  She thought she heard someone behind her, but when she turned, she saw nothing.


The snake imitation was another favorite.  Iole didn't stop walking, but she did turn.  She saw three men following.  They must have been hiding under the eave of a closed restaurant.  She quickened her pace, knowing that a well-lit cross street was a hundred meters or so away.  The three men broke out into a slight jog, with one asking, "What's the rush, Iole?"

She didn't stop, but she rolled her eyes.  She might have to stop using her version's catch-all name.  "I'm going home and you better leave me be."

They laughed and walked alongside of her.  "I see, I see.  Back to your inbred mother?"

"I thought they were from labs?"

"I don't know.  Maybe Zeus will think ill of us for taking his prize."  He's the one that touched her first.

As soon as Iole felt his hand on her hair, she turned, crouched and punched him in the groin as hard as she could.  He dropped to the sidewalk instantly, but the other two grabbed her.  "Frak, she's strong."  They each had an arm and Iole threw her head back, smashing another's nose.  He nearly lost his grip.

"Let go of me.  Now."

The one man who hadn't been injured punched her in the side.  She collapsed somewhat, and kicked at them.  When her foot connected with a shin, it cracked and the man fell into a heap.  Before she could dispatch the other, the third – who had been punched in the crotch – tackled Iole by leaping from the street.  Both she and the man toppled over a café's fence, landed on a dining table, broke it and crashed the lot of them to the ground.

"Damn, Kadon," one of the wounded men said.

Iole was dazed, bleeding and lying on the cobblestone walk.  Wounded though he was, the first man she injured was now ripping her clothes.  The man with the broken shin was passed out from his compound fracture.  She turned to look them in their faces so she could remember them as much as possible.  Given the Bacchanalia nearby, she found it odd that she couldn't smell alcohol on them.  She tried to scream, but she couldn't breathe.  Every bit of air she had was knocked out of her.  She could only whisper, "Why?"

"Shut up," was the reply as one of them brought a large table leg down on her head.

And so they raped her.  At some point, she regained consciousness.  She didn't want to open her eyes.  Instead, she was lying in the river on a beautiful summer day.  Adrift.  Her imagination was vivid; every detail present.  The way the warm water covered her ears but occasionally rose over her cheeks.  A stick brushing past her leg as she moved downstream.  The large, puffy clouds moved across the face of the sun, giving her squinting eyes a respite.  Her vision was so vivid, so immersing, she didn't hear the men finish and leave.
After a time, she forced the beautiful river projection away and found herself lying on the ground.  Right where she was before.  She was breathing a little easier now, though it still hurt.  She slowly sat up and rose to her feet.  She stood under the canvas of the café's patio for a few moments deciding what to do.  She couldn't afford a hand processor, so calling the police that way wasn't an option.  After some thought, Iole realized it may be best to walk back to the Bacchanalia and find an officer there.

Once she dealt with this nightmare, she would try to reach Lord Aurora.  At this particular moment, Aurora seemed like her best bet for answers.

Lastly, this excised chapter just shows Iole being there for the birth of the first organic Cylon child via normal procreation.  Again, nothing important that couldn't have been shuffled off to a later chapter.

2,366 Years Before the Final Exodus

A maternity ward.  Iole never thought she would see one of those in the Megara medical clinic.  Now, there were two pregnant Megarans in there and either one could give birth at any time.

"It's a wonderful day," said the doctor.  Iole smiled and peered through the observation window into the operating theater.  Doctors and nurses had prepared two beds in case the children came at the same time.

"Archon!" called a nurse, another Iole version.  "Murrine's child is crowning!"

Iole darted down the hall after the nurse.  Everyone's face was beaming.  She couldn't help but laugh.  For the first time in almost three centuries, there would be a new face for people to see.  She passed a Jason, a Crassus, a Mylene, two Cimons, and an Iris.  But a new face.  The scholars and doctors who worked on it called this "code diversity."  Expanding the genetic capabilities of the tribe.  True, though it may be, it was difficult to get excited about "code diversity."

Iole waited by the door as doctors and nurses flooded in and out of the room.  Murrine was in pain, obviously, but Iole was told that all was going well.  She was nervous, pacing in front of the windows that lined the hall outside of the room.  She seemed to be waiting forever, but Iole didn't care.  She had waited centuries so a few extra minutes would be fine.

With this child, the Thirteenth Tribe could blend into society.  They could resume their place side-by-side with the other humans.  There would be difficult years ahead as they tried to reintegrate themselves.  Zeus had ordered them to keep their secrets, but their seclusion had been self-imposed.  In talking with Aurora, she got the impression that the rest of Kobol had mostly forgotten about the Thirteenth.  Fuzzy memories could only help, though it seemed that the goddess was almost apprehensive about Megaran children.  She wouldn't explain, but she definitely appeared fearful.

Murrine screamed again and applause erupted from the room.  Iole jumped to the doorway, waiting for anyone to come out and tell her what had happened.  A few doctors ran from the room laughing down the hallway.  Iole stepped inside, hesitantly.

The doctors and nurses were all gathered around a small diagnostic table.  There, in the center, a naked baby lay squealing.  Wires led from its head and chest to a machine that seemed to be registering normal signs.  The child was still covered in various bodily goos and a nurse was slowly wiping it off.  Iole walked over to the mother who was reclined in bed, her eyes closed.

"Congratulations," Iole whispered.

Murrine stirred and smiled, "Thank you."  She looked across the room as the doctors continued to study the child.  "It's a boy."


"My husband and I are naming him Proteus." 

Iole felt tears in her eyes and she bent over to hug the woman.  "That's beautiful."  Iole pulled away a little and held one hand against the woman's cheek.  "I believe you and Proteus may just save us all."

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