BLOODBATH AT SPARTA'S CLOSE (2024)

Dear Bright,

INTRODUCING THE WAR OF THE GOD¤WORLDS

I have flipped the switch!

My literary switch, of course, not the all-important mental switch! Some will euphemistically say that I have flipped the script; my American friends. Bless them!

How would you like to read a smash-hit action thriller that reads and feels like GOD OF WAR (THE NOVEL)? Something with the composition of THE TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, AVATAR, and ALIEN? THE WAR OF THE GOD¤WORLDS is it!

I realise that, these days, most people are leery of clicling ANY link, that's why I got zero opens on the google document attachment of THE GODWORLD prologue/chapter I posted on Sunday... For this reason I will be pasting ALL future posts here...

I had an idea, a brainwave; which flipped my literary switch. Why not offer one novel serial for the 'not subscribed' and 'free subscribers', and another (much better?) serial of the same novel to paying subscribers?... This will waken everybody up -- including my good self! -- to the fact that this story has different ramifications that I ought to explore. Actually, I already had two versions, long before now, one for Wattpad and other blogs, and another for traditional publishers... So, we are right on track.

Both are mouth-watering prospects, I can assure you all of that, but one of them tastes better... Also, as the weeks go by, the magazine WORDSSCAPE TODAY, will gradually take shape. That's one big reason I need your support wholeheartedly. I can't do all of that by myself!.. Please, start subscribing, so we can get this bus off the ground... The pasted version of ANGEL OF DEATH continues at the end of this chapter, so you can compare and contrast... Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE:

BLOODBATH AT SPARTA'S CLOSE

THE OTHER WORLD

SPARTA, 356 B.C.E., EARTH 211 UNIVERSE

Death littered the ground with evidence of the frailty of mammals. Bone-white skeletons with laughably oversized heads of humans, goats and dogs were scattered generously here and there amongst the deserted, mostly roofless bungalows, sheds, stores, villas and mansions. Annoying hums were aplenty here, too, as those terrible little beastly houseflies, greenbottles and wildflies roved in droves thousands-strong, around the decaying bodies of eviscerated pregnant mothers.

The sun is hot on the backs of the twelve horse riders as they rode slowly through the outskirts of the empty village; the stale air was desolate, dry and dusty.

Puffs of sudden wind blew lazy bursts of dirty air into, and past some drab, hollowed-out husks of fired-clay and brick roofless buildings. The wind is resonant, too, with the subtle buzzing hum of insects feeding and multiplying at the same time. All around, everywhere the heavily armed strangers -- in golden body armor, red flowing capes and black iron swords -- looked, the scenes cried to the heavens of abominations beyond the memory of mankind.

"CROW SQUAD LAUNCH!" A pealing voice called out.

The group slightly parted as a lone warrior, garbed all in black, his horse a massive, almost prehistoric-looking ancestor of the present day breed of horses, raced past them and is soon lost to view. The others suddenly remained very still, almost like unliving statues, as they waited. Soon, the sound of a bugle carried clearly through the air; indicating that the scoutvhad reached the village's center.

Centurion primus pilus, Romus Cannibal -- formerly of the Roman army 10th Artillery decathlon -- dismounted from his horse and a moment later his actions had been duplicated by his corps of officers that were with him. A slight grimace flitted past his saturnine face as he gave a mental shudder, while handing over the reins of his horse to an aide.

"This is even worse than we suspected," he muttered under his breath. His voice was thick and heave with phlegm, as if he was suffering from a terminal growth in his throat. Does Rome even know what she was doing, involving herself in the affairs of a fallen empire?

His features looked foreign for a Roman, and he had been the butt of crude jokes made at his expense, during military training in his younger years. The most brutal, and most to the mark, was that he must have been sired in a brothel, during a tryst between a Mongol whor* and a Roman cook with mongrel Celtic blood. His facial features were rough, brutal and sardonic: beaked nose, wide slits of eyes, perpetually sneering cruel, twisted, thin lips and a nonexistent facial hair or beard. He was a true barbarian from the wild North. His brutish, giant form brooked no nonsense from anyone.

Then, there was a small commotion and two little boys, not much older than six or seven years old at the most, crawled, stumbled and ran out of the gloom of a cluster of rubble that had previously formed the huge temple entrance to an underground vault.

One of the boys, a gingerhead with a pugface no mother would sincerely love, was clutching a translucent, blue-green sphere in his hands. Their smoke pasted and mud-grimed faces glistened with sweat from their exertions, or from an aweful fear, noone could tell. They ran towards the mercenaries and the sphere carrier gave up his treasure to one of the Centurion's lieutenants.

The Roman officer examined the bright orb with intense curiosity. The second kid, a handsome, golden haired young Adonis, stretched out a palm for their reward -- and as soon as the copper coins were in both their hands, the two mismatched pair were running away. One of them, the heartbreak-kid, stopped long enough to say in halting, broken Greek:

"Don't go in there, sires. Good, big treasures in the temple vaults, but big bad medicine, too... The sorcerer women, they come and kill you all!"

And he was gone.

"Three on me," the Centurion told his soldiers, and minutes later -- closely followed by three others of his hired personal guards -- fully equipped with sacks and weapons, they disappeared in an arrowhead formation into the mess of ruins from which the children had come from earlier.

The daylight environs was deathly still. There were no bird notes. No shrill sounds from insects. No wind. No rustling of leaves from surrounding trees. It was as if Nature was holding her breathe. Expecting something to happen...

One of the salaratus officers that was now left in charge of the remnants of the recon group: a tall, bulky, heavy-muscled blue-eyed blond hulk of a soldier shivered slightly and narrow-eyed the closest mercenary assigned with him. In his right palm was a wicked-looking, thirteen-inch, double-bladed hunting knife that had seen many campaigns.

The knifeman prayed silently to the gods that the Centurion would hurry it up, get the cached up treasures, and then they could leave this god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere. Even though the cartographer maps indicated that their position was somewhere in Lacedaemon, otherwise known as Sparta -- between two small towns: Gophar and Tibress in the southern hinterland of Greece -- they could as well be anyplace, in any savage wilderness in the known world, for all its remoteness from the civilization that he knew of...

This was Mycenae, and he always felt removed from reality, from existence, anytime he was here: as if he had become transported to another dimension. This sensation always preyed on his mind, anytime he was abroad on his bloody missions. The alienating feeling was always the same; whether in the deserts of Persia, the savaged savannahs of Nubia, the genocidal mountains of the Goths and Gaul; or even in the sordid, pest-ridden forests of the Celts and the Normans... He was getting fed up with fortune-hunting. He desperately longed for the day he would hang up his shields and swords, after a momentous heist. Sweet retirement, then, would beckon.

He was getting old, he knew. The deaths in their bushel full, the general mind-numbing destruction and dessication he had witnessed in all their haunts; the callous, inhuman disregard for the sanctity of human life; the starving brats, the pestilence of death and anarchy that was his everyday bread and butter was beginning to get to him. Only the assurance of the Centurion that this particular incursion into Greece will fetch them so much wealth that even the famed Emperor Xerxes of Persia would have envied. He smiled ironically... That could only probably happen in another realm not known to Mankind --

And then, By the balls of Apollo!, the Centurion and the three soldiers were hurrying back towards them, their small sacks crammed full with jewels and gems and gold and diamonds. These were fitted onto the three pack horses -- and moments later -- they all headed deeper inland to join the rest of the garrison. Two hours riding, and they were joined by the Centurion's elite first century of bodyguards, one of the finest unit of assassin-soldiers in the rising Roman enclave.

By evenfall, they had reached their main camp in Lacedaemon... Silence still pervaded through the wooded valley. It was the silence of the dead.

Even the flaming roar of exploded houses and burnt carts a while ago, had subsided to a barely audible murmur. That was how the twelve silent officers garbed all in black and gold weathered Roman battledress -- and the hundred-strong formation of assassin-soldiers that followed silently behind -- found them. The smell of death, of burning and charred flesh hung heavy and thick in the air. The Centurion primus pilus' vanguard, sent as full mercenaries here by the legatus in Rome, had been well and truly decimated -- even though, as evidence later showed, they seemed to have held the raiders at bay for all of twelve hours -- including an all-night savage battle.

Apparently, his men had been swamped by overbearing numbers six hours or so after they had left... Aside from the scores killed in the center of the village in the first ambush wave, the remainder had regrouped some distance down the valley, on the road that led to the next village or town. As the contingent of soldiers led by their centurion reached those positions, the scattered trails of blood told the beginnings of the gory tale.

They came next upon the bodies of the pilus posterior Centurion and the others of his junior officers, lying in an irregular line -- stripped of their uniforms -- their torsos shredded with multiple sword cuts; their intestines gone, their heads scalped and mutilated. The terrible trail pointed up the second valley, off the road. As the small group moved on, following the blood trails, the evidence of the massacre multiplied. They stopped just before the low hill was crested, a few feet from where two war chariots were piled one over the other and torn apart by axes; both vehicles were apparently trying to flee up the incline before the savage bands of Spartans had got to them.

Six headless bodies were scattered on and around the chariots. And there, under the upturned pedestals, near one castrated corpse slung over a fallen, ripped-apart horse were written -- in bold blood prints -- the Laconian character for the word: EXTERMINATION.

The deep thrumming of drums in the distance, gradually got deeper, heavier and louder. Huge cloud layers, black and red-rimmed, raced above as two centuries of elite legionnaires stood in a vista of seemingly unending grassland. A bald-headed, powerfully built man of indeterminate age dressed in white, loose-fitting official robes, with a long blue toga across one shoulder, stepped away from the two rigid-standing subalterns as Cannibal approached their formation.

The man's shiny pate gleamed in the setting sun, reflecting the yellow light of Sol off the annointing oil copiously applied to the shaved skull. In his hand was a staff of religious office with a large opalescent, glowing gemstone in the staff's bulbous head.

The winds began to whistle and howl as he spread out his arms up to the sky; tremendous lightning branches cracked and blazed within the stormy clouds, sometimes cutting off some of his words that he was yelling up at the clouds -- neck muscles and chest bulging with the effort he was putting into the invocation. But the Centurion standing stock-still now in due religious respect, could hear the last few words as the rumble of thunder eased off:

"Great Jupiter, son of Kronus and Rhea... Great descendant of Gaia and Uranus. Lord of the sky; mighty god of lightning, air and thunder... I invoke you to come and witness what your chosen children of war do wreak daily on themselves!..."

For a long moment he was silent, kneeling on the grass, head bent down in supplication. Cannibal strode up to him, briefly acknowledged the salutes of his junior centurions, and spoke to the kneeling priest.

"Well?"

The Priest of the High Oracle of Rome got to his feet and regarded Cannibal disparagingly. Then, conceding to his duty to the military commander, he said crisply: "He says we go on..."

"And do what, exactly?," Cannibal snapped at the priest's words.

"Save their bloody hides!," the Priest snorted as he turned and walked away.

II: THE LOST GENERATION

THE OTHER WORLD,

SPARTA, 356 B.C.E., Earth, 211 UNIVERSE

The Spartan warrior princess was an extraordinary spectacle of height, build and beauty; fully eight feet tall with long, jet-black, wavy cascades of lustrous hair and dressed in full hoplite armor -- her helm held in the hollow of her armpits: she was an ancient replica of the modern-day Amazonian princess, Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman.. She was exhorting her cohorts of elite soldiers to conquer the entire world with the power they were about to receive, after crossing the stream, and the spirit realm's lake bed.

"I curse the day you were born to the Palace of Olympus, you savage weakling who calls himself a divinity -- a god! You cowardly butcher that derives pleasure in seeing helpless women and children burn at the stakes...! I, Princess Melia, Sister-Queen to Locka of Huel, and of the Izul-Maz Clan, curse you, Ares!"

She was standimg well poised atop her prize white stallion -- now gaudily dressed in red leather-and-steel body- and head-armor. Her voice carried well across the picturesque scenery. The wind was a faint breath of air, as if it too was listening to her oratory. Slowly the fearsome group of warhounds walked beside and in front of her horse as she and her army walked on the surface of the vapor smothered, cold stream that led to the becalmed blue waters of the Lake Cepha.

A thousand-strong army followed quietly but confidently behind her. They were headed for the bottom of the lake, and the sacrifice that would imbue the elite army with unthinkable psychic might. While still praising their oncoming might and their future increasing numbers, General Melia revealed that they would become demigods, bound to no simpering. Olympian God of War…

The Maria clan was being raided by two other rival clans of the Spartan city states. It was barely a year after the epic contest between King Leonidas and Emperor Xerxes of Persia; a few months, really, after the 300 Spartan hoplites had defied monumental odds in quite easily one of the bravest battles in human history... And now, this --

Here was a show of extreme bloodlust; slicing of throats and bellies, killing of tiny babies, and shooting fire-arrow executions... A dark power had been summoned against the warriors of Bieh, for their opponents couldn't be touched -- the swords, clubs, arrows and lances simply slid past them. Devil hounds (big as lions, and handsome of face and features but evil of heart) were being led by Spartan soldiers of the Culeik Search and Destroy clans and they were tearing people to shreds.

Two unidentified gods of Olympus -- winged and dressed completely in white body armor and red helmets -- stood on a bank of white clouds above, and watched on a screen-like device as the carnage commenced below. They didn't seem to care if they were spotted by the human troops below.

And then the thousand-strong Spartan army was underway, the riverwater stilling its flow, and then parting in the middle; rising magically in two towering columns of dammed water twenty-man deep. A carpet of snake-and-worms discharge of blue-and-purple-white, silent, almost solid lightning streaks laced the surprisingly clean, sandy, river bed.... But as the little army was about to reach the other sandy-beach bank of the lake, two women rode up from behind them. One of the two newcomers released the hood of her cloak dress and inhaled-screamed a supersonic shout that dissolved and took away the physical essences -- even some parts of the underclothings -- of the vanguard three hundred warriors.

The second cloaked woman removed her hood and, slowly, her face became the cruel, handsome, sneering face of the Mountain Olympus God of War: Ares. He was garbed in reddish, spiked armor that resembled a metallic version of a housefly's chitinous carapace. Three red-glowing, thick chains of wrought iron hung from his sword sheath, dripping molten fire to the ground as he dismounted from his horse. His face grew more severe, more evil-looking; the pale eyes ringed by black shadows of some evil presence within his soul. His slack jaws were open, the sensuous lips and mouth slightly open in dark anticipation, saliva dribbling slightly from the corner of his mouth. He laughed evilly as he spread out his hands to the sky; and power flowed from the writhing, cast-about souls of the dead three hundred.

"This is only the beginning, Locka!," he challenged the suddenly lightning-clad Amazonian woman. "Your warriors, your clans, your entire nation shall feel the might of the Fist of Ares!... The entire world will mourn your early fall!" He laughed long and loud again, as the female semi-divinity bowed her head low to him, but her defiant voice was a stark contrast to her demeanor.

A tiny smile on her face, she said evenly: "My loss this day bears fruits. Because of your vile deeds, that crosses the implicit rules of conduct set for deities and mankind alike, Ares, you shall from this day forth be denied the adoration, worship and divine energy flow that comes from your warrior subjects -- for all of eternity!...The entire Greek nation shall hate you, for helping to destroy their civilisation; the Spartans will progress to another dimension -- "

"Wha--what is this?!," the pugnacious son of Zeus spluttered, confused momentarily by the warrior princess's calm words to him. She should be raging in unbearable anger at what he had just done against a quarter of her elite corps of super hoplites. "Are you pretending now to have slipped into your other role as the Chief Priestess and Diviner of the Temple of Gaia?... Our ancestral mother will never listen to your trickery, bitch!..."He trailed off as he suddenly saw that the Amazonian woman probably hadn't heard a single word he had just uttered, and was violently shouting up to the clouds...

To her father, Zeus, maybe, the insidious thought slipped through his mind unbidden.

"...The new, mighty beyond imaginings, race of the Spartans would then be free to annoint their own Mountain Atlas God of War... He is named..." But before she could call out a name, some tremendous cosmic force of the universe grabbed ahold of her giant human form...and she blinked out of existence. The stunned Ares gaped around, to find that her remaining six hundred plus special army had disappeared as well.

One microsecond the glowing lake bed teemed with hundreds of scowling, furious, eager-to-do-battle fierce males -- and the even more determined female warriors. The next microsecond, he was all alone on the lake bed... Melia-Locka, and whatever force it was that had seized her and her terrible army, had even taken his adjutant, Yarku, with them -- probably to mete whatever punishments they deemed fit for her... The huge, piled masses of dammed waters on both sides of him began to roar ominously inwards as they gained movement and momentum; to fill back the wide gap that had separated the lake waters; the magics that formerly bound the parted lake now spent...

"Sister Locka!" The son of Zeus smiled grimly, just before the weight of megatonnes of cacading sea water pile-drived downwards in waves on top of his head -- the fast-creeping protective force-screen barely able to cover his entire form completely. And then all the now nebulous form of the God of War knew was whiteness, darkness, pain, incredible pressures... And then merciful blackness.

One of the Olympian's gaze was turned towards the village, while the other stared fixedly at the phenomenon going on at the bottom of the lake. Their visages and expressions were reminescent of Greek fathers in mourning; there were streaks of tears coursing down their pale, femininely handsome, boyish faces. Both now held golden scales held aloft in their left hands. Apparently, the actions of the humans below were being judged.

In the village and countryside, bands of Greek mercenary soldiers hunted down and killed any human that moved. None were spared in the gruesome genocide. Baby toddlers were put to the sword; pregnant women had their bellies and womb torn open, their unborn babies desecrated and smashed to pieces in vile hatred. Free citizens and slave helots alike were treated equally in the sheer brutality and butchery that seemed to have crazed the invading army of mercenaries. Crows and vultures circled the skies, patiently waiting for their chance to feed on human carrion. At the village market square, a helot (one of a slave class of Spartans) boy was about to die --

The tall, young, sixteen-year-old, rail-thin helot with owlishly big eyes and bushy eyebrows cringed inside; the terrible fear apparent in his eyes as he stared at imminent death. "Oh, by the Goddess Athena, no! No!... No!... Noooo!..." his cries for mercy from his persecutors went largely unheard.

The huge, fierce, slavering dog crouched low to the ground, coal-hot eyes glaring at its next victim as the beast made ready to pounce. A terrified, drawn out scream escaped his lips as he half-faced forward and began to run...The huge guard dog tore its leash from the grasp of its mercenary guide, who didn't put much effort into stopping the blood-thirsty dog.

The hound took about a dozen fast bounds and then launched itself like a missile -- jaws bared for the kill -- at the horrified human target. It thudded heavily into the boy and he crashed into a septic tank pit with a pitifully weak, frayed mortar cover across its top section. This disintegrated with the force of his impact on it; the hound nimbly side-stepping the debris and plunging human. A loud, almost inhuman, scream of utmost terror burst from the boy's lips as he began to sink into the greenish-black, evil-smelling mass of putrefescence. The hound and its master stood guard over him -- the dog never barking, the human not saying a word -- both beast and master seeming to relish the grim, grisly sight as the helot boy continued to sink to certain death within the depths of the septic tank...

"Please," the slave boy cried to the dog and the man, "don't let me die!"

The dog did nothing. The man did nothing; they merely snarled in pleasure --

And the boy sank out of view.

On a hill overlookng a small village, a group of adventurous village boys -- not one of them even nine years old yet -- attacked three middle-aged, comely women with a hail of sling shots when they saw what it was that they were doing. Their leader was causing the heads of about a dozen of the kneeling, captive, strange women to burst into glowing flames; while her two assistants held them immobilized by chants and mutters in a strange tongue that the brave, little boys did not understand.

The magical spell that the sorcerer women invoked seemed to draw out energy from the brains and bodies of the women and made their skulls glow brightly, like red-hot forges. The energy flow was somehow being diverted to the raiders below, the boys were sure. They suddenly made a combined brave dash for the women -- perhaps trying to copy the exploits of their older siblings who had been sent away to the Ludocs, the military training school for young boys. Young, shrill, war cries burst from their wide-open mouths as they almost got to the first woman; who, they could see now, was wearing the garments of a temple priestess of some kind.

The boys beat the three women down with cudgels and pestles, untying the bound hands and feet of four of the captive women in the process - urging the frightened women to escape to the third vilage after this one. As the freed lasses hared off down the hill, the boys were able to untie two more of the really comely young women. Two boys were undoing the binds of the third woman when there was a flurry of motion and sound and the boys found themseles surrounded by seasoned warriors -- about a score of them -- who, as soon as the little ones gave up their weapons, promptly handed them over to the fuming priestess.

Surprisingly, her first act was to send away three of the children with the message:

"She says, Gania the Terrible comes as a fore-warning of the coming of the Fist of Ares."

Then, with inhuman strength, she tore off an arm of the smallest boy and gnawed at the flesh while the boy stared stupidly at her eating him alive; the oncoming flush of mind-grinding pain from the severed limb not yet registering. The three other's skulls glowed white-hot quickly, and they ceased being human as the life-forces drained out of them and their bodies charred.

The priestess's assistants ceased their chanting and keening wails and looked expectantly at their Mistress. She interrupted her ritual feeding to touch the head of her now bloodied, sagging, very young sacrifice. That, too, became white hot.

Below, the swords of the defending soldiers were being shoved down their throats. The invaders' blades tore men to pieces by their roots; souls rushing visibly away, shocked by the evil vibrations in the air; and the ghoulish cries emanating from the streets... The streams of refugees to the next village -- blood-drenched with their own slaughtered kin -- with ragged looking, exhausted bodies, and the crazed eyes full of anguish and pain -- were everywhere.

One of the beautiful, young acolytes that had escaped the clutches of the foreign priestess, torn by the death and the pain about her, began to summon the Gods to come to their aid. Nothing came in response. As a desperate, last measure, she called to the God of Conflicts -- the God Eris -- flinging herself to the floor, tearing out all her clothes as she wept and prayed.

Her body began to glow bright with red fire and another acolyte had to stop her invocation when a slight tremor shook the ground. Outside, in the bright day surrounding the village temple, it was happening... They all ran outside and saw the huge, ebon black Delphin Monoliths; four of them, surrounding this new village -- apparently guarding it....

4 Hours Earlier,

Airendris, Realm of the Gods,

2350 B.C.

Like burly looking Angels, but typifying the symbology of their names, the two law enforcer captains of Zeus' domain - Kratos and Eris - flew at moderate speed towards the white picnic pavilions where Zeus and his retinue of attendant Gods were having some bites of venison snacks before going for their leisurely stroll through the parkland vistas of the gravity defying island of Lemnor.

The air whooshed all around the two as their huge, magnificent, black Roc wings beat the air. Their faces were stern as they slowed down their rushing flight, and as they landed deliberately heavily on the ground, showboating their terrifying presence to the other Gods they were meant to protect, the malevolent readiness of the two guards did not dim; even though they were amongst their God kins.

In appearance, the two looked to be in their middle ages: they surely were not young Gods.

They were perpetually stern-faced, athletic, blue-eyed and muscle-bound; the perfect, divine, soldier Gods. The gold-and-black colored breastplates that they wore were complimented by Kratos’ short, golden hair and Eris’ long, black mane of hair. Respectively also, the shining, bright-gold, tremendous energy sword that Kratos -- in his divine symbologies of strength, might, power and sovereign rule -- or the light-sucking, midnight-black, curved matchet that Eris - in his divine symbologies of strife, discord, contention and rivalry - tossed from one massive palm to the other as they approached Zeus' picnic party, was not calming to the nerves in the least.

Both Guard-Gods came to an abrupt halt only a score feet from the King of the Gods and silently waited for their presence to be acknowledged. The person that beckoned on them to come closer however, was Chronos, the red-haired old man with salt-and-pepper beard sitting beside Zeus at a white, food-decked table and conservatively dressed in some sort of stylish monk's robes, with a huge, green belt buckle that had a strange pattern of scrawls, vortices, arcs and moving figures within it; the famous Mega symbols of the Gods of Time.

“Speak, Kratos,” Chronos said merrily. “The Lord Zeus is in a good mood today!"

“My lord!”, Kratos bowed slightly as he faced Zeus, who had paused in his eating since the God of Time had given permission to the guards to address him. “The God Hephaestus is still indisposed and would not be able -- ”

“Then go it yourself,” Zeus interrupted before the great guard had even began. “Or better, delegate the task to Eris… We all know that Ares and Hephaestus are creating better, deadlier war machines for all of Airendris, not just Olympus and must not be disturbed. Besides, Eris is much better, much more subtle at bloodshed and peacemaking than Ares is!”

“But, sire!” Chronos put in, visibly alarmed now, “the transportation and the means to achieve the feat of mass extrication would be astronomical. Without Hephaestus’ help we stand no - "

“Come now, I need to clear my head today, my good Chronos,” Zeus said, almost rebukingly to the crestfallen Time-Lord. “Let me have a moment's peace! All you do is demand! Demands, and more demands!...” Suddenly Zeus' expression softened somewhat and he relented on his brusque, ascetic, verbal attacks.

“Okay”, he continued on a more friendly tone of voice “I will take into cognizance the fact that I’m supposed to be at peace out here. You may seek counsel of Hermes and Apollo. They’ve been good friends with Hephaestus for quite a while now… They will know what to take from the smith’s store-house… Inform that machine maniac guard of Hephaestus' that I’ve given the permission for the use of some of its lord's tools. That would grant you access.”

For a moment Chronos couldn’t believe his ears; he had been let off so easily this time that he almost didn’t believe he had heard right. Not only was he saved from the tongue lashings of his king, he had virtually been handed the keys to some of the greatest inventions known in the entire universe! Hephaestus, that hermit son of great Zeus, was indeed a very, very talented blacksmith and sculptor... And he knew just the transportation device they needed now... The mighty, legendary, deltoid monoliths; the same ones that had carried the Star City from Lemnor to the foot of Mountain Olympus. Now, that would be a toy to play with, indeed!

“Thank you -- my lord!” Chronos gasped happily, and in his joyous haste, he forgot to take permission to leave from the presence of the King of the Gods. He jumped towards the two huge, winged gods and -- in a bubble of transparent bubble airtime -- he took the silent Kratos and Eris with him as they all disappeared.

“That went well”, Zeus sighed contentedly, a tired smile on his imposing face.

Taking a deep sigh of resignation, Zeus picked up the toros, the event register scroll made of parchment and glass that Chronos had brought to him earlier. The Time God had assured him he would get to see what Ares had done through it; but at that time he had been occupied by more leisurely tasks. Now, he had all the time in the world...

As soon as it was fully open, the device began to repeat a sequence of images, then it cleared and showed Hephaestus' deltoids...

It was night, and all the carnage of daytime had gone by. The massive, granite-like, black edifices of the four deltoid monoliths guarded the besieged Spartan village with its mysterious force-fields. Waiting, biding their time... Then, suddenly, as if at a signal, all four pyramidal monoliths came on, glowing with bright, almost blinding lights that covered one entire face that fronted what was left of the clan; reflecting, first, the grimy faces in pimple-like images which quickly resolved into mirror–clear images. Behind their own images, in the far background, by a trick of lighting and spatial depths, it was soon revealed that the ebon monoliths were mercifully telling them the reason why their people were being decimated.

It showed them the rebellion led by Melia, the thousand strong of her special forces marching across a parted seabed, the exhortation of her troops; the confrontation with the darkly ominous Greek God of War; the vile, crippling curse he had unleashed on both Melia and the entire Maria clan... The warriors of Bieh being slaughtered like chickens, mercilessly and with vile distaste... And, finally, these respite from the blood-letting; the release of these transport vehicles by Zeus himself, assigning his son Eris to whisk what was left of the clan, millions of miles away...

The things were black as midnight and the surfaces of each was made up of myriads of smaller pentagonal triangles on widened rectangles; very much like the pyramids of the ancient Mayans.

And the whole ensemble spoke of an alien technology.

The pyramids dematerialized daring raiders that went underneath or through the gaps between them, and burned with green fires the lances and arrows that were shot through any space between them. The monoliths simply ignored the missiles that were shot at their stygian-black surfaces, half-lifing them on the ground after the harmless, scittering fall...

They stood silent and imposing, waiting: allowing straggler Bieh Spartans escorted by Roman legionnaires to join the other villagers.

Then it was night time.

The deltoids awakened their slumbering powers at the candle slag of nine. There came deep, echoing, Undertaker bells from within the depths of all four monoliths. The big, bright moon blinked, wavered. The Stargates opened. The Stargates closed

In the few seconds in between the two events, the Centurion primus pilus, eyes a blank white, was suddenly standing in front of Melissa, the pretty acolyte who had unwittingly summoned the massive machines... The next fraction of a second, the woman was pushed severely by the centurion and she found herself hurtling through the air and then hurled out through the material of the monolith -- which had...parted...to let her through.

Long, purple snakes of lightning branches shot out of the monolith and coursed through her frame; weakening her body momentarily with massive inputs of static charges. At the same time, the monolith had permanently altered her genetic constitution; and she had become more than human: with reams of knowledge fused into her mind dedicated to make her become a lantern of awesome power and prowess to any future earthly civilisation. The darkness of oblivion claimed her, and she fell in a dead faint.

Without a sound, without preambles even, the monoliths, the people, were all gone.

The acolyte woman woke seconds after to find herself floating in the air, about three feet off the ground, defying gravity. She gingerly got to her feet, finding herself light as thistledown for a moment. Quickly gathering her courage with a whoosh of expelled air, she ran away -- westwards over the mountains -- and then northwest across the desolations of barbaric, fledgling empires too numerous to mention.

Physically guarded by powers beyond human reckoning, she travelled thousands of miles in an indecently short time; safely and untouchable, towards the new superpower that was Rome.

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SNIPPET PITCH: Angel Gabriel receives shocking news of Earth's cosmic uprising. He lapses into total recall, after a skyscraper-busting accident...

PROLOGUE

ANGEL OF DEATH!

CITY OF CRAHOS, GATAN (HEAVENSGATE)

PRESENT DAY. 211 UNIVERSE

The travellers were gigantic, living comets.

The two Argelans, flying at mind-shattering supersonic speeds towards the white, blunt-at-the-top, closely spaced gigantic glass rods skyscrapers -- were like blowtorches of livid lightning. Their forms were sheated by milk-white, impenetrable fields of force. Their destination was the military city of Crahos...

In their Eagle vision, Earth was a blue-white jewel amidst the stars of the heavens, transdimensionally located below Gatan's crystalline grounds; like the opposing side of a two-faced coin. Clouds of storm lightnings of elemental vehemence raged across hundreds of miles, in a straight line on the surface of Gatan; tornados about two hundred miles tall, ten miles wide and three miles thick through their insides swirled like a rampant guard-army across a definite line of demarcation separating the moon-world and other heavenly bodies... A veritable cosmic gate. The Gate gave the planet-moon realm they were entering its nickname: HeavensGate.

The two humanoid beings -- Angels of Heaven, as humanity worshipfully referred to them -- both bore a message of dire urgency: Elements of mankind's top scientists had accidentally discovered Kraniac, using quantum detection technology: and had recognized it as one of a long list of lost, straying worlds out there in the infinities of space. Somehow too, the humans had triangulated that Kraniac regurgitated singularities, and newer universes. The gigantic planet must, in effect, be the planet of THE MAKERS!. The triple planet of Kraniac, Airendris and Gatan... The legendary Planet of the Gods --

"CORONATION, ELEVATION, AND TRANSFORMATION."

The voice of the Spirit of Kraniac appeared in the minds of the two flying Argelans, startling them from their ruminations. As one, they peered down through Gatan's crystalline bulk, to the realm of 'puny' humans...

The titanic world of Kraniac was a fiery fireball of a planet that had just stopped short of active, solar life. There were strings of multi-hued strands of light arising from the crystalline grounds and reaching miles up into the stratosphere; tapestries of glory in their own right. There were moving rainbows of all sizes that adorned strategic spheres of the realm, and also served as stargates or teleportation fields... There were hanging gardens -- floating islands of statueque beauty in great numbers; and land based mountains, lakes, forests and islands of breath-taking beauty. Only the mighty moon-world of Gatan -- almost 'pasted' a thousand miles above the surface of the sun-sized parent world, as cosmic distances went -- was an aberration. The two Argelans were Gabriel and Portighan -- news deliverer alpha-captains of the Realms of Kraniac, and the war world of Gatan.

In appearance, the two beings, built like slender looking, incredibly tall, winged humans, looked to be in their mid-thirties, courtesy of their immortality and the age-defying characteristics that was the nature of the planet itself. They were perpetually mild-faced, athletic, blue-eyed and with elegantly poised slim muscles all over their Adonis bodies. The perfect, almost female looking Angels of old... The gold-and-black colored breastplates that they wore were complemented by Portighan’s short, golden hair and Gabriel’s long, black mane of hair. Respectively also, the shining, bright-gold, tremendous energy sword that Portighan wore on his waist -- in his divine symbologies of strength, might, power and sovereign-rule -- or the light-sucking, midnight-black, curved matchet that Gabriel slung in a sheath on his back -- in his divine symbologies of strife, discord, contention and rivalry -- were like badges of authority.

"THREE MAJOR EVOLUTIONARY STEPS ARE HUMANKIND EXPECTED TO CLIMB TO BECOME A RACE OF GODS. BUT OUR SUPER ANGELS WOULD DO THEIR BEST TO HALT IT!..." The loud, booming words came with vividly clear mental images of a conglomeration of the past and future of that same message.

"You must speak to Humans thus: "Don't be so impatient to join us, for Kraniac is now at war. And Earth 1, the Ten Hell-worlds of the Antimatter realms, and The Last-Men's galaxy of Caerius II are next to be consumed by a darkside horror of Creation... A horror that eats Gods to survive... Renders Of Universes..."

But we shall abide. It is our birthright! Gabriel saluted the voice inwardly.

Spread out almost like an ice-pick pavilion, the military city spanned out below them, like raised blisters. "Watch out for that tree cloud!!", the softly echoing mental voice of Angel Gabriel was almost playful.

Portighan dived under Gabriel's hurtling form, stretching out his arms to ward off and divert a mighty, gree-trunk sized bolt of fiery-white lightning that hurtled for him even as he stood erect momentarily in midair. The firebolt of eye-dazzling light dissipated around him; a hollow boom of rolling thunder sounded. He laughed shortly and darted through the air to catch up with his ever cool companion. Portighan finally responded, "I bet the humans won't be too surprised to meet us as we truly are...the lugs!" Slightly short of breath, he continued:

"Those buggers had been cleverly utilising a technique that didn't apparently search for our world. They used quantum technology, detected Kraniac right in the stormy seas of galaxies of the 211 universe!..." His voice was slightly tinged with admiration for the 'lugs'.

The air shrieked all around the two Angels as their huge, magnificent, triple pairs of white wings automatically braked. They were approaching their destination: the exact middle of the breath-taking span of skyscraper city made solely for war. Their stern faces acknowledged nothing as they folded back their wings and dropped downwards, like gigantic Eagles, into the central enclosure of a ring of crystalline high-rises that rapidly expanded into a five-mile open square as their crystal-titanium shoe-boots-shod feet touched ground.

"Nice joint," Gabriel said approvingly, twistng his neck sharply side to side, as if to ease some crick in his neck.

"Damn suckers spared no expense to build their war galleries here," Portighan virtually spat the words. "War mongering louts!... They will get their comeuppance soon enough."

"Is that a wish? Come on, Port! They are our brothers, and not the enemy! Besides, they do their jobs well, even better than we once did, I have to admit -- "

"And being such cruel bastards at it!... It's almost as if they are not really Angels."

TO BE CONCLUDED...

BLOODBATH AT SPARTA'S CLOSE (2024)

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