“Who are you? Do you even know anymore?”
The thought echoed in Cole’s head like the sound of his razor, clinking on the porcelain sink, echoing in the bathroom. He knew who he was and no matter how hard he tried to forget, he’d always remember. The countless names and titles were all there at his instant recall. You see, that’s the problem with being an immortal. You always remember. Cole thought about the locket, which he’d given to Bridget two days before, and his mind drifted away.
“Foolish pride leads to foolish endeavors,” Cole ruminated.
The soft slapping of a red maple branch against the window jolted Cole back to the present. Today was a busy day, an important day. The slapping of the red maple grew louder against the window as the wind picked up. A few more scrapes of the razor, an umbrella, a jelly doughnut, and out the door.
Rain was falling now and Cole was walking to campus. Autumn in Ohio was a wonderful time of year. The maple, shag bark hickory, and buckeye trees were just beginning to change colors. It was a pleasant walk to the university. The light rain made it less pleasant, but the short trip down College Way, past Browne Hall, was a quick one and he enjoyed it nonetheless.
It was amazing how the campus was growing, but managed to maintain its small college appeal. Freshmen wandered back and forth with their noses stuck in maps trying to find Oak Hall, or the Moore Math and Science Center. It always struck Cole as funny that someone would need a map to get across a campus that a strong boy could heft a football across. Well, in reality, it was slightly larger than that, but not by much. Cole slowly ambled past Barclay and Bailey Halls and turned toward The Swedenborg Library. Just past the library was Oak Hall.
After bounding up two flights of stairs to the third floor, he was finally in his office. There was no mail in his mailbox so he headed back down stairs and over to The Hub. It was a small café the students often gathered in. The Hub attracted less student and teacher traffic now that the new student center had been built. It was quiet. And he knew that Bridget would often relax here between classes. He figured that if he was going to catch her before classes, this would be the place.
He walked in, adjusted his tweed vest, and made his way toward her. Today was a new beginning and he was used to new beginnings. Cole smiled as he approached Bridget’s booth. He noticed that she was reading The Odyssey.
“Can I join you?” he asked. Slight surprise flickered over her face before she nodded. “Interesting read there, Bridget.”
“Dr. George wanted us to get a head start on his classics class, and this isn’t the easiest story to follow.”
“You know, it might help if you took my Greek Mythology course this semester. Having a historical perspective may help you with your literature. Do you have a class in the three o’clock hour?”
“Yeah, I do. Sorry. I’m already booked with Western Civ II, and I need the humanities credit.”
“Well, my course would meet that requirement too and would help you kill two birds with one stone, at least for part of the semester,” Cole laughed. “I could tutor you on the rest if you meet me here for lunch. Say on Wednesdays?”
“Are you really serious, Dr. Weber – I mean Cole?” Bridget replied inquisitively.
“Well, Greek history is more interesting than you may realize.”
Bridget took this opportunity to change the subject to one that has been plaguing her mind. “So when were you planning on enlightening me about all of my mom’s mysteries?” She raised her eyebrow challenging him to laugh it off and tell her he was just joking about the whole thing. “Mom mostly hid stuff from me. But she did tell me that I dream things. And that these dreams were not really dreams, but I didn’t believe her. Well, I didn’t put any stock in them until you gave me the locket after her funeral. Something…happened.” It was a moment before she continued. “Something happened to me when I opened it. I had a vision.” That word sounded weird coming out of her mouth. “And you were in it. I also noticed that you were in the picture with my mom and my grandma. What did you do – have a graphic design major tweak the photo? It just doesn’t make sense otherwise.”
Cole didn’t say anything, so Bridget continued to talk - more to herself than to him. “You were an adult, Cole. You looked the same then as you do now. How’s that possible? I mean, that picture is close to 40 years old. I figured you to be about my mom’s age, but, that picture – what am I supposed to take from that. Why did you alter it?”
“Bridget, this is going to be hard for you to comprehend, so I’m not going to tell you everything at one time. It’ll take time, but, if you trust me, you’ll have answers to all of your questions.”
“Okkaayy. So, tell me, then. I’m a big girl. I can handle the truth.”
“I know you can. I just don’t know how to begin. This would all be much easier if Janice had let me be a part of your life.” He took a cleansing breath. “Okay, here it goes. That is me in that picture – unaltered - and I’m much older than your mother…or your grandmother.”
“So, how old are you?” she asked unable to stop herself before the words left her mouth. She almost kicked herself for acting like a gullible kid.
“I’m about 20,000 years old, at least.”
“Bull shit!” Bridget snapped. “Look, if you aren’t gonna tell me the truth, well then we oughta just forget about all this. I don’t need someone new, hiding things from me or making crap up to win me over.”
“I’m not lying, Bridget. Let’s leave that alone for a minute, though. Tell me what you saw in the vision. It may help clear things up. If it doesn’t, then I’ll fill in the details.”
“I saw a meeting. I saw you standing at a podium. I saw you arguing with a huge man with long white hair. And I saw Coach Sarah,” she answered quickly, a little frustrated with herself. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
“That’s not as strange as you might think. Sarah’s as much a part of this as I am.”
“So, what, she’s 20,000 years old too?” Bridget gave Cole the “you’re crazy” look.
“No, she’s a little over 12,000 years old. But trust me and don’t get hung up on the age thing. Take my hand and I’ll tell you about that meeting. If a locket was enough to cause that vision, then actually holding my hand should do the same, only in more detail.”
She stared at Cole for a moment wondering how any of this could actually be happening. Then she pointedly took his hand.
As Cole began to speak, Bridget watched the meeting unfold before her eyes. His voice seemed to fade and the café, the booths, the waitress, they all just blurred out of her vision as she became lost in the picture unfolding around her. It didn’t take her long to figure out that she wasn’t just a bystander. She was a participant in this vision. She was seeing everything from Cole’s point of view, just as if she was him, feeling his emotions and hearing his thoughts. Bridget had ceased to exist, she was Cole.
Aphrodite’s voice was calling Eros, reminding him of the upcoming council meeting. The sound of her voice droned in his ears like an unwelcomed mantra. The memory was so tenacious it could not be ignored. He felt himself slipping away, away to a moment when everything in his life had changed. It was this meeting that had sent him into hiding, the meeting that had sent him searching for a woman he knew nothing about.
“Eros, where are you?” Eros heard a woman call from across the courtyard of his villa.
“I’m here, in my laboratory.”
He had been hard at work studying the genetic makeup of the human mitochondrial DNA and he was close to a breakthrough. Years of hard work seemed near completion and the answers he had sought were finally within his grasp.
“Zeus has called for a meeting of the council and he is especially interested in your research,” Aphrodite stated as she wound her way around the last Doric column before reaching the door of the lab. “We have a problem, and it’s finally come to the precipice action. Zeus is calling for war with the humans. He no longer believes that they can be enslaved.”
“What? He does realize that this issue has been our doing. How can he expect to go to war when we’re so greatly outnumbered anyway?” Eros questioned.
“The humans are losing their respect for the gods, Eros. Something must be done.”
“Mother, I wish that you would stop using that word. We are not gods. We are frauds! This whole religion that you and the others have tried so hard to maintain cannot last. It’s inevitable. The humans will progress and their progress will, eventually, expose us for who we really are.”
“My dear child, you of all people should appreciate what we’ve done for you. You made the journey to this world. But it was us who built a kingdom for you, where you could live forever, and live in leisure. Do not forget that! If I were you, I would watch how you speak to Zeus. He will not tolerate your self-righteous ramblings as I do!” Aphrodite retorted. “He expects us to assemble at noon. Do not be late!”
Aphrodite turned and headed out of the lab, the train of her sheer white gown trailing behind her. Eros heard the slapping of her leather sandals grow fainter as she crossed the courtyard. He was disgusted by the arrogance of Zeus and his siblings. His increased contact with the humans had made him envious of their resourcefulness. They were mastering their world despite the Atlanteans’ best efforts to hold back their development. The world he knew as a child was changing and he was ready for change. He was tired of being worshipped. He was tired of being a god. He wanted to be loved by humans, not feared. He wanted to help them. His research into the humans’ genetic structure had opened his eyes dramatically. They would surpass the Atlanteans in time. Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon were philanderers and their escapades had created this very problem. Eros knew that Zeus would want to know about his research, but Eros didn’t want Zeus to know everything he had learned.
“I’ll tell him what he wants to hear. His arrogance will be his downfall,” thought Eros.
Zeus had ordered Eros to begin the research when the first demigods were born. Zeus wanted to know what kind of a threat his children posed him. Zeus was not the wisest of the Atlanteans, but what he lacked in wisdom, he more than made up for in bravado. He ruled the Atlanteans and the humans with an iron fist. He depended on his strength and ruthlessness to be enough to keep the other Atlanteans in line. It had worked until now. But, even as Zeus’ power over the Atlanteans grew, his power over the humans dwindled. Yes, he would tell Zeus the truth, but he would not tell him the whole truth.
Eros packed up his notes and headed for the Atlantean capital. The sun was shining brightly, just as it had the day before. The archipelago of Greece had the most perfect weather. Warm, sunny days and cool evenings were the norm. Eros felt blessed to live here.
He had to admit that the Atlantean Council had found the perfect escape from their dying world. Earth was rich in oxygen, much richer than the atmosphere of Atlantea had been. This was the secret to the Atlanteans’ long life. There was no destruction of the Atlantean cells. Earth was a hyperbaric environment for them. It was not without its drawbacks though, at least for Zeus’ generation. The high oxygen content would cause that generation to become almost intoxicated if they spent too much time away from the higher altitudes. This is why Mount Olympus was chosen as their home. The lower oxygen levels on Olympus did not have the intoxicating effect on Zeus and his kin. The times that Atlanteans mated with the humans always occurred during times that Zeus and his brothers tarried too long at sea level.
Zeus was normally always in control of himself, but the oxygen intoxication made him act irrationally. His brothers were no different. Olympus was created to protect the Atlanteans from themselves as much as it was to protect them from the humans. Eros did not have these problems. His DNA had somehow adapted enough to counteract this effect. This allowed Eros the opportunity to spend more time among the humans, to learn to love them. He wished to dwell among them and never return to Olympus, but Zeus and Poseidon would have none of it. They needed to maintain their mystique. Spending too much time among men offered the opportunity for the Atlanteans to make mistakes, to be found out. Eros continued his trek to the Temple of Kleito. At last, Eros made it to the Pillars of Heracles. There, Athena was waiting on him.
“Hurry, Eros, or we will be late! Get in and take hold,” Athena cried.
Eros climbed inside Athena’s chariot and the gentle hum of its motor increased to a muted roar. In an instant they were airborne. Eros did enjoy the view of the countryside from the air, but he did not like flying. Athena, however, was in her element. She was the most skilled pilot of all the Atlanteans and she never tired of proving it to Eros. Athena’s chariot was not enclosed and this made some of her aerobatics even more distressing to him.
Hephaestus had made the chariot to resemble a Greek chariot pulled by horses. The orichalcum drive was housed in the front of the vehicle and encased by housing, also made of orichalcum, formed to look like six horses pulling the chariot styled passenger compartment. The passenger compartment was made of titanium and orichalcum and had ivory and gold inlayed scroll work. Its functional interior was more comfortable than a Spartan chariot, but not by much. It was a sight to behold in flight. The glistening orichalcum looked like a bright orange flame when reflecting the sunlight, and gave the horse shaped fuselage the appearance of being on fire. Orichalcum was a metal brought to Earth by the Atlanteans and it was the basis of their technology. It was a light, extremely strong metal that resembled gold in appearance and was capable of generating a powerful electromagnetic field. It was much more durable than other metals, but was easily worked. Hephaestus, a master metal worker and engineer, fashioned it into a real masterpiece for Athena.
“Isn’t this fun?” Athena squealed as she made a right banking maneuver, which caused Eros to feel a tad bit nauseous. “Eros, you do not seem to be enjoying the ride!” She giggled.
“It’s faster than walking,” Eros muttered. He actually was enjoying the ride, other than the occasional instances when his stomach would be turned by Athena’s adept maneuvers. He would not give her the satisfaction of knowing that though. “Hephaestus should have never made this thing for you! You have too much power over him.”
“He loves me, Eros, and I didn’t even need your elixir to make him fall in love!”
“Yes, but you do not love him. It’s not fair.”
“He knows that I don’t, but he does not care,” Athena responded.
“I know. And, I know that you use that to your advantage. If he didn’t waste so much time on your personal projects, then just imagine what he could build.” Eros replied sarcastically.
Hephaestus could make anything, and if asked to do so by Athena, often would. Hephaestus was one of the few Atlanteans Eros could really talk to. He was a burly man with a mane of coal black, curly hair and eyes with a beard to match. His deep voice resonated with a wisdom that even Athena was impressed by, and his laugh was even more melodic than that of Dionysus. He was crippled and Eros had worked many years to correct the condition to no avail. Despite his condition, Hephaestus was kind and nearly always in good spirits. He was an immensely strong individual and could easily have challenged Atlas in strength if he were not infirm. He was of the same generation as Athena, but he was much older than she was.
Eros was thought to be a third generation Atlantean on Earth, but he wasn’t. He was Protogenos. He was one of the original Atlanteans who made the voyage from Atlantea to Earth many thousands of years before. Hephaestus however, still treated him like a son. Of course, Eros had a father, or rather an adopted father, Ares, but in reality he wished that Hephaestus had taken on the role.
Athena and Eros, in his second life, were nearly the same age even though they were from different generations. They had grown up together and acted like siblings. Athena was wild and fearless, but at the same time she had an uncanny wisdom in all decisions she made. What was folly for others was merely a calculated risk for her. She would often tease Eros for being too timid. She saw greatness in him that the others did not. Eros was not worshipped by the humans for anything other than his love inducing abilities, and this was almost always in conjunction with Aphrodite. Eros was always under her thumb. Athena loved Eros, but she never spoke of her love to anyone. She had hoped that Eros would just be mindful of her subtle advances. Ironically, the “god” of love and sexual desire was oblivious to her affections. Eros was a scientist and could chemically induce sexual desire, but his understanding of a woman’s heart and feelings was sorely lacking. Still, she loved him and awaited the day that he would gain a little of her wisdom in this area. She vowed herself to virginity until that day, and her vow was iron strong.
Athena elbowed Eros on the shoulder, laughed in delight, and shouted, “Hold on Eros!”
Another sweeping turn, another bout of nausea, and Atlantis was within Eros’ sight.
Atlantis was a beautiful city. The Great Canal leading into the city was a marvel of engineering. Eros was always amazed by the work of the humans. The Great Canal was nearly 20 miles in length and was wide enough to sail an armada of triremes, side by side, down its entire length. It led from the Atlantic Ocean, near the Pillars of Heracles, to the city of Atlantis itself. The canal ended at an enormous gate that could completely wall off the city and act as a loch. The city itself was just as described by Plato. There were three concentric, circular canals at the end of the Great Canal. Each canal surrounded a corresponding ring of land. Around each ring of land was a high wall approximately 100 feet in height.
The first ring of land was the residential and farming area of the city. It was the largest ring and was fully capable of feeding the entire city in the event that the city was besieged. The wall of the outer ring was sheathed in bronze. The second ring was the city proper. It contained all of the administrative buildings, sporting arenas, amphitheaters, and market places. The wall of this ring was sheathed in tin. The most inner ring was the temple area. In its center was a mountain that had been carved into a temple to Kleito by Poseidon himself. It was a beautiful area, rich in lush, green gardens and white marble stonework. The wall surrounding the temple area was sheathed in orichalcum.
Each canal surrounding each ring was as wide and deep as the Great Canal. A road led from the Southern area of the island directly to the Temple of Kleito. Each city ring that the road passed through was secured by a large, bronze gate.
Athena circled the city once and then made her approach to the temple. The site of Athena’s flying chariot must have truly inspired awe in the humans who saw it. Rarely, were humans allowed into the temple circle and never were they allowed into the temple itself. Offerings to Kleito were typically left at the gate of the temple on an elaborate altar. Eros wondered how the humans would react if they knew that Kleito had died a millennia before.
Kleito was not an Atlantean, but a human of incredible beauty. She was Poseidon’s first human lover and his favorite. She was however, all too human, and humans die. Poseidon carved the mountain in the center of Atlantis into a temple for her and she developed a small cult following within the city. Kleito bore Poseidon five sets of twin sons.
Atlas and Gaderius were the oldest, followed by Ampheres and Evaemon. Mneeus and Autochthon, which were the middle pair of twins, followed by Elasippus and Mestor. Azaes and Diaprepes were the youngest of the 10. The 10 twins were all demigods and were immortal as well, but they did not have all of the traits of full-blooded Atlanteans.
Atlas was given reign over the city of Atlantis and the remainder of the island of Atlantis was divided up into fiefdoms for the remaining nine. Eros was friends with each of the twins and they were keenly interested in Eros’ research. The twins knew that Zeus did not care for demigods and they were correct in their suspicions of his deceptive acceptance of them.
The chariot came to rest in a small landing area of the temple mount. The orichalcum powered engine, which sounded like a herd of galloping horses, slowed to a gentle rumble. Eros hopped off the chariot as Athena disengaged the drive.
“Wait up, Eros! We’re doing fine on our time. There’s no need to worry about being tardy,” Athena shouted as the engines died.
“I’m not worried about the time. Zeus cannot do anything without hearing what I have to say.”
“You always worry, Eros. I know you better than you know yourself,” Athena laughed.
Just then, Dionysus bounded down the temple’s grand stairs at its entrance. He was a garish man and always seemed to be intoxicated. Eros did not believe it was possible that he was constantly inebriated and suspected that it was a ploy to keep the others from knowing his true intentions. Dionysus proclaimed himself to be the god of wine, drunkenness, and debauchery. He lived up to his reputation and was known to engage in orgies with the humans on a regular basis. He loved the fact that humans were easily impressed with him, and eager to give themselves to his carnal desires. Dionysus made no differentiation between men and women. He would take what he could get, whenever he could get it. Eros found him to be entirely loathsome. Dionysus had no love for Eros either. He hated Eros for, among other things, refusing his requests to make the humans fall in love with him.
“Well, well, well….look who’s decided to grace us with his presence. It is none other than the weakest god!” Dionysus snorted.
“Keep your remarks to yourself or your head will adorn the altar in my temple!” Athena growled. This was a threat that Dionysus knew to take seriously.
“I don’t need you to defend me, Athena. I can take care of myself. Just because I do not like to fight, does not mean that I don’t know how.” Eros blurted out.
“I’m sure you are a lion in battle, Eros, but you need to, more voraciously, defend yourself against the others. They view you as weak,” Athena replied gingerly.
“If you say so, but I doubt that any defense I make will change their opinion of me.”
“Well, boy, you had better move a little more quickly. Zeus has been looking for you,” Dionysus cackled. “Actually, take your time. It’ll be fun to watch Zeus punish you for your tardiness.”
“We’re not late. It’s not yet midday!” Athena retorted.
Athena and Eros moved quickly, but deliberately up the temple steps. The giant, Doric columns lining the vestibule were carved from the solid limestone of the mountain itself. In fact, the entire temple structure was one solid piece of limestone. The enormous bronze doors into the temple were difficult for Athena to open and even posed a small nuisance to Eros. Beyond the doors was a large hall with a statue of Kleito, which was three times her size in real life. It was entirely made of gold and was encrusted with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds along her crown. Just past the statue was another set of bronze doors, but these were more manageable. Athena opened the doors and entered the courtyard amphitheater, followed by Eros. The entire council was already there. Zeus sat in the center of the stage with Poseidon on his right and Hades on Poseidon’s right. Hestia, Hera, and Demeter sat to Zeus’ left in order. Aphrodite, Apollo, Hermes, Ares, Artemis and Hephaestus sat in the theater seating area.
“It’s nice to see that you could make it Eros,” Zeus bellowed. “It is always good to see you, Athena. Where’s Dionysus?” Dionysus stumbled into the theater before Zeus had even completed his question.
“I am here, mighty Zeus. I wouldn’t miss this for all of the orichalcum on Atlantea!” Dionysus snickered.
Dionysus was not lying. He eagerly awaited the day that the arrogant Eros was put in his place. Dionysus had only known two loves, Ariadne and Athena. Ariadne had long since passed away, but Athena was there every day. Her beauty vexed him. Her voice bewitched him, but he never spoke of it. Athena loved Eros, but Eros was a foolish boy and couldn’t see it. Dionysus longed to be the holder of her affections. He fought against Eros on every front, trying to prove himself worthy in her eyes. But Athena was unimpressed. Dionysus was flawed, but everyone is flawed. He couldn’t help himself no matter how hard he tried. He was as promiscuous as Athena was chaste. She hated that about him and he knew it. Eros on the other hand had only known Psyche. His sexual fidelity captivated her, but Dionysus could see through him. Eros had only one true love in Dionysus’ estimation, science. Every day, all day, Eros poured over his research, neglecting the love that was so freely offered to him by Athena. It was this love that Dionysus longed for. He believed that her love could change him, that she would change him into the man that he desired to be. He tried, and often succeeded at, being benevolent, being caring, but his sexual urges would always get the best of him in the end. No matter what he did, it was never enough for her. And no matter how Eros rebuffed her, she continued to throw herself at him. Dionysus hated Eros for this.
“Well, Eros, what has your research exposed about the problem?”
“What problem, Zeus?” Eros responded.
“Do not toy with me, boy! You know what I mean. Tell me what I want to know!” thundered Zeus.
“Everything, good and bad?” Eros questioned.
“Yes, everything. Do not test my patience!”
Eros was, perhaps, the most intellectual of the Atlanteans, but he was also the most sarcastic. He had not developed as much respect for Zeus as he should during his childhood. Zeus was gigantic. He stood almost 7 feet tall and carried nearly 350 pounds of muscle on his vast frame. His white hair and beard were deceptive. There was no age to his body. He was the strongest and most dangerous of all the Atlanteans. He found Eros’ sarcasm amusing when Eros was a child, but after 5,000 years he had grown tired of it.
“All right, I will skip the more mundane details, but feel free to ask questions, if you do not understand what I am saying,” Eros quipped.
“Boy!!!” Zeus shouted, his patience running low.
“Come now, Eros, we have been waiting on your report all morning,” Aphrodite interjected.
“Well, as you all know, particularly Demeter, Zeus’ and Poseidon’s extramarital affairs have created Atlantean/human hybrids. In order to understand the consequences of their births, you must first understand how DNA works and how genetic traits are passed on. Zeus and Poseidon have had, almost exclusively, fathered males.
Males pass on the Y chromosome, father to son. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades have inherited the exact same DNA from Cronus, which Cronus inherited from Uranus. The Y chromosome never changes. The only reason that Zeus and Cronus are not identical in every respect is, because of the DNA inherited by Rhea. Rhea’s X chromosome creates the differentiation. This is why the hybrid males can shape-shift into animal forms.”
“Yes, yes, but they cannot assume the shapes of other humans as Poseidon and I have done. Why is this?” Zeus interrupted.
“I was getting to that point. Zeus. If you don’t mind, then I will continue my explanation,” Eros responded.
“Continue!” thundered, the increasingly angered, Zeus.
“As I was saying, the only differentiation between father and sons is the X chromosome provided by the mother.
Female DNA prevents the Atlantean DNA from, wholly, expressing in the hybrids. The human females’ DNA suppresses some Atlantean traits. The Atlantean trait that seems to be consistently repressed is the trait that allows for shape-shifting into human forms.”
“Why is that, Eros? We can all take other humanoid forms. Why can’t the demigods?” Hera asked.
“You asked the question and you are the answer, Hera,” Eros answered.
“What do you mean, boy!” Poseidon shouted.
“Poseidon, inside of all cells, there are organisms called mitochondria. Mitochondria were, initially, independent creatures, but they developed symbiotic relationships with more complex cellular based life forms throughout the ages. They were able to pass on their traits as the creatures they inhabited procreated. In sexual reproduction, the mitochondrial DNA passed on by the female destroyed the mitochondrial DNA passed on by the male. The trait which allows us to shape-shift into human forms is entirely mitochondrial. When Zeus or Poseidon sired a child, the mother’s mitochondrial DNA destroyed the mitochondrial DNA of Uranus. This is why Atlas can take the shape of a bull, but not that of another man. This ends today’s lesson in genetics,” Eros stated.
“No it does not! What are you not telling us, Eros? What about the female children sired by Zeus and Poseidon. Is this a problem?” Demeter questioned.
“None of this is a problem, except for the problem that it has created in your own minds!” Eros argued fervently.
“Do not trifle with me, paidon!” Zeus bellowed, his face reddening. “I want the whole truth!”
“Here is the truth. The female children of these liaisons will not pass the trait to shape shift into other human or Atlantean forms, due to the mother’s mitochondrial DNA destroying the father’s. The only threat that could be posed to your reign could only occur if Hestia, Demeter, or any of the other female Atlanteans were to have children. In that case, any female children born to them would also pass on their mitochondrial DNA. However, the males who fathered the children would pass on the human Y chromosome, so it is still not an issue.”
“What would happen if the offspring of Zeus and Poseidon were to mate with the offspring of a goddess?” Demeter asked.
“Well, first of all, we are not gods. We are simply immortal. Our technological and chronological advantages will not last forever. Eventually, the humans will surpass us in technology and knowledge. We cannot hope to continue the ruse of being gods for perpetuity. There are only 15 of us left. We are outnumbered by millions to one. And, at their current rate of reproduction, it will be close to a billion to one in the next 3,000 years. Now, to answer your question, if the hybrid offspring of a male Atlantean and the hybrid offspring of a female Atlantean were to conceive a child, then that child would have all of our abilities and the abilities of humans as well,” Eros replied.
“What do you mean by ‘human abilities’ Eros?” Hestia questioned demanding detailed information.
“Humans have a sixth sense, one of perception, Hestia. Take the oracles at Delphi for an example. The oracles are human, correct?”
“Yes, we all know that. Explain what you mean!” Zeus shouted.
“Well, the oracles can see the future. Some other humans can see the future and read the thoughts of others. I am not talking about intuition. I am talking about a biological trait.
It’s a rare trait, but it is a dominant trait and will eventually be passed on to all humans after about 10,000 more years of time passes. None of us can see the future, except for Apollo. It is a human trait. I have not had time to study why Apollo has the gift of prophecy, but I hope to in the future. Even Athena, as wise as she is, is limited in this respect. It is inevitable. The humans will surpass us.”
“That settles it. The human race must be destroyed. If we cannot enslave them, then I will not allow them to enslave us!” Zeus’ rage burst forth.
“Why don’t we just tell them the truth? Why are you so afraid of our children being greater than we are? Is it because of the history of your family, Zeus? Just because Cronus overthrew Uranus and you overthrew Cronus does not mean that they will do the same,” Demeter said.
“No!” Zeus thundered. “I will not take that chance. We must reduce their numbers to a level we can manage. We must go to war and we must destroy the hybrids.”
“I will not be a part of this Zeus!” Eros shouted defiantly.
“Then you should stay out of my way, paidon! Now, who is with me on this? I will destroy the demigods and I will control the humans before I am done! Now who is with me?”
Slowly, Hades and his siblings, except for Hera, agreed to Zeus’s demands. Dionysus was quick to join with Zeus. Aphrodite and Ares joined with him as well. Eros was sickened.
“I can’t believe this, not both of you, Mother and Father? How can you agree to this?” Eros cried.
“We must stand for our race in this matter, Eros,” Ares replied.
“Then, I am no longer your son!” he bellowed.
“Truth be known, you never were my son. You are too much like your mother, but she, at least, understands where her loyalties lie,” Ares responded.
“As do I, father, but my loyalty is to what is right, not what is of ease or convenience.”
“I am not with you, Zeus. I cannot agree to this madness,” Demeter said. “This is not right.”
“Do not cross me, Demeter!” Zeus warned her.
“You may be my lover, but you are also my little brother, Zeus. I am not afraid of you,” Demeter’s voice hardened. “You killed my one human lover, but you expect me to accept all of your conquests? No more! I will not acquiesce to your demands any further.”
“And just how, exactly, do you plan to accomplish this genocide Zeus?” Hephaestus asked.
“Atlantis will go to war with Athens. The seedlings of democracy are taking hold in that polis. We will wipe them out. Sparta and the others are still monarchies. If we control their kings, then we control the people. Our technology will provide us with the advantage we need to swiftly defeat the Athenians. We will meet their army on the plains of Marathon and crush them at once, in one great battle. After Athens, we will determine who will live to serve us and who must be eliminated.”
“I cannot believe I am hearing this! I cannot believe that we have come to this!” Eros was beside himself.
“Eros, I’m done with you. Leave my sight, before I make an example of you. In time, boy, you will come to see that I am right. The strong survive, the weak destroyed. This is the way of things. You have given us a glimpse of a future that we cannot allow to come to pass. For this, I am grateful, but not grateful enough to listen to your whining. Now leave,” Zeus frowned.
Eros turned to leave, unable to believe what had just happened. He had explained that there was no threat. The female Atlanteans had no female children. He could not believe that so many would refuse to listen to reason. Now, he had made himself into more than a nuisance to Zeus. He had become Zeus’ enemy and that was not a desirable title to hold. An hour later, Athena came to Eros as he sat under the shadow of Kleito’s likeness.
“Are you ready to go home, Eros, or should I let you worry about what you cannot stop?”
“I am ready, I suppose. Nothing I say will change their minds. Look at her, Athena. Kleito wasn’t Atlantean, but Poseidon loved her anyways. I would wager all the gold in Atlantis that he loved her more than he loves Amphitrite. How can he side with Zeus while standing in her home?”
“I would not assume that Poseidon is on Zeus’ side of this issue, Eros,” Athena replied. “There are more who stand with you than you know, but they are not willing to make Zeus their enemy in public view. You are brilliant. I love that in you, but you are foolish and rash. You speak your mind with no thought of the consequences. The world is not as black and white as you would wish, Eros. There are complexities that require a little more discretion to navigate. You would be wise to let me speak for you in the future. As it is now, Zeus believes that I am with him and I want him to think this way until I can talk to the Spartans. After Athens, Zeus will most assuredly turn his attention to the greatest of the human warriors. You have a price on your head, Eros. Zeus did not mark you for death, but rest assured there is a price. You must go into hiding. I will meet with you from time to time, but, for now, you must disappear. Come, I will take you home. Get all that you need from your lab and then, go to Athens and find the home of Mnestra. Mnestra is a human consort of Poseidon’s and she is with child. Only I and Poseidon, of course, know of this. Poseidon told Zeus that she did not become with child when he bedded her. Poseidon wishes to meet you there. Now, hurry, we must move quickly.”
After Cole stopped talking, Bridget snapped back into present day.
She released his hand. A few moments felt like a full day. The blonde girl that was leaving the café as Bridget had made the choice to touch Cole, was just now walking through the door. She took a few deep breaths and made her decision.
“So you’re Eros and Sarah is Athena,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes, Bridget - in another life at least, I was called a god. But we’re not really gods or goddesses. We’re actually from another planet,” Cole smiled.
“So, you crashed here or something? And what does any of this have to do with me. Like how am I involved in all this?”
“Essentially, you’re my descendant. That’s the crux of it.”
“You’re what – my great, great, great, great, grandpa? I just don’t understand. I feel normal, not alien or whatever you are.”
Cole laughed, “Bridget, you feel normal for you. You’re anything but normal. But it’s a good thing. It’s definitely not a bad thing.”
“I really don’t know how to respond to that.” She should have felt freaked out, but instead she felt a kind of peace. It was good to have some sort of answers, even the impossible kind. “Well, I guess I’ll go switch my classes up, so that I can take your Greek mythology class.”
“Trust me. You’ll find it enlightening, to say the least.”
“I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m going to learn more about Greek mythology than I ever wanted to know. I want to know more about you and Sarah. My mom would tell me to beware of the others – including you. Are you a part of these others? Who are they?”
“They’re called the Plouton Covenant. It’s essentially headed by Aphrodite, Hades, and Dionysus. I’m not getting into all of that now, though. You need to get your class changed. We can continue to meet like this, but I’d rather not do it here. Maybe we could meet at my house. I’ll continue to work through your visions, and I’ll explain what I can.”
Cole helped Bridget collect her things. Outside The Hub, he popped open the umbrella and offered to carry her book bag. Bridget was relieved. The weight of the unknown was slowly being lifted, as if the veil, that had covered her eyes since childhood, could now just slip away, blowing carelessly in the breeze.
Bridget, curious as always, asked Cole why he had chosen to teach at Urbana, when other universities paid substantially better. Cole explained that money was not a driving factor in his life. He’d spent enough time accumulating wealth and, now, he wanted to enjoy life in peace, as best he could. Urbana afforded him the opportunity to do just that. The Urbana community and the one-on-one time with his students more than made up for the lower pay. Bridget seemed pleased with the answer and smiled her approval. While talking with Bridget, Cole was happier than he had been in years. It was like Mnestra was with him again. Cole couldn’t help but chuckle to himself when he realized that Bridget was closer to being Mnestra’s granddaughter 100 times removed, than she was to being Mnestra herself. Regardless of the age difference, he was happy to finally be a part of her life and was glad that he had survived to protect her.
Cole was, by all standards, an extremely attractive man and had all the physical attributes you would expect of a Grecian god. He stood a little more than six feet tall. His features and build were both strong and rigid. His hair was dark brown with natural curls, the type of curls that most envied. His eyes were an azure blue that often left women mesmerized. He had the look of a man who could handle himself in any fight, yet, his demeanor was the polar opposite of his appearance. He was soft spoken, extremely intelligent, and very modest. Cole didn’t realize how truly attractive he was to the opposite sex. The girls at college often talked about how they wanted to take his classes just to be able to watch him. There was something different about Cole, now Bridget knew what.
He was always impeccably dressed and he had an affinity for button up vests. Many of the other professors dressed casually, but Cole felt that it was important to dress professionally. The way he addressed his students, his vocabulary, and everything about him seemed more polished than most of the other professors. The material he taught seemed effortless in its dissemination. Students wanted to learn Greek Mythology, simply because of the way he lectured. He was completely convinced in his beliefs. How could they be myths? His students felt as though they had been transported through time to another world, Cole’s world.
The process of changing classes was uncomplicated and only took a few minutes. Bridget asked Cole what books she would need and he provided her with the list of required reading. After a short period of small talk, they said their goodbyes.
“I’ll see you on Monday.” Bridget ran toward the parking lot.
“Three o’clock sharp!”
“Okay!” She yelled back then disappeared around the corner of the Moore Center. Cole was, simultaneously, elated and heartbroken.
Why would any Atlantean in their right mind choose to love a human being? His question was the answer. He knew that love was not a choice. It just happened. He didn’t have sexual designs on Bridget, but he was in love with her spirit. He saw Mnestra in her eyes and she was his one chance to feel alive again. Perhaps the humans were the blessed species. The gift of immortality seemed more like a curse when you had lost the love of your life. Five thousand years was a long time to miss someone and Cole was ready for his misery to end. He wasn’t going to kill himself, but he was ready, if not anxious, for the day that death would come. Cole realized that a man, such as himself, who had lost everything, was capable of anything.
Now here is chapter 2 and the rest you get when the book comes out ;-)
Cheers and so many thanks to my wonderful followers and twitter friends who have made this journey and wonderful experience! Lisa aka Frenchkilt