Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
Current Game: Dungeonseige series
Excerpt for my latest work; We need a Hero(ine)
Right now I'm working on something that might sell. The basic premise is this; The old gods decide to give one mortal super human powers, but the plan goes awry...
The World Needs a Hero(ine)
The leaders of all of the gods met in solemn assembly to discuss the latest insult humanity had dealt them...
Yeah, right. Face it; they were pissed at humanity, and they got together to kick ass and take names. The gods of every pantheon had sent representatives, and all of them were up in arms about how mankind had shafted them.
“They took our gods and made them missiles!” Zeus snarled. “All starting with that minor goddess Nike! Then turned her into a logo for tennis shoes!”
“And turned my son into a comic book character!” Odin snarled.
“Don't get me started on what they did to Isis.” Ra commented.
“We need to bring us back to life in their minds.” Amaterasu said. “Khristos is slipping in the popularity poles. All those people shoving pamphlets in your face and asking if you're born again. Humans are ready for the more friendly version of the gods again.”
“Friendly?” Zeus asked confused. “I use to level entire cities with disasters!”
“But you were up close and personal with them.” Ra commented.
“Yeah, if they had boobs and half a mind.” A voice commented. Everyone stopped, then looked at the 'cheap seats', where about a dozen other gods sat. Not the leaders, just some who came to kibitz as it were.
“What was that Loki?” Zeus asked pleasantly. A crackling of energy was forming in his hand.
“Oh give me a break, Lightning thrower. You're better known for every skirt you flipped than anything else. And only a weak minded woman would accept a shower of gold as a suitor. Or someone into bestiality when you come after them as a bull or a swan. Let's not get started with poor Ganymede. One minute a happy shepherd, the next he's got you doing him.”
“Is it my fault he looked like a girl?” Zeus asked defensively.
“Hey, I didn't have to get the fates to change him into one, did I?” Loki shot back.
Zeus looked down, fidgeting. “Well I had to think of my image. A God being outed as a Nancy boy just didn't cut it back then.”
“What we need is a symbol of our glory days.” Amaterasu dragged the conversation back to what they had been discussing. “Something recognizable, that will draw their minds back to us.”
“He could try the golden shower again, though the meaning has changed.” Loki quipped.
“We need something else, Loki. If you can't help us, kindly leave.” Odin said.
“Beowulf is big these days.” Loki replied. “Three movies in the past decades. And even if you bitch about it, Odin, having Thor in a movie made just this year brought some to think of us again.”
“You want us to place all our hopes on a human hero?” Ra asked, aghast.
“Why not?” Loki asked. “Don't you guys understand, we older gods gave the humans something that Khristos and his father didn't?” He looked around the table at all of the blank looks. He stood, walking over and leaned on it. “With Khristos and Jehovah, what do they get? 'You have free will, but if you exercise it, you go to hell', that's what they get. And if they just follow along like sheep? Gospel music, 24/7. Some choice.”
He slapped the table. “With us humans had a chance to strive for great causes, to face great perils, to achieve greatness with their own toil! Hell, Beowulf, Jason and his Argonauts, Perseus facing Medusa and the Kraken, Odysseus fighting to get home. They remember that better than us.” He sighed. “What we need, is a new hero. A hero with all of us behind him instead of one per pantheon.”
They looked at him, then at each other. “And who will be given such power?”
“We pick the most mediocre person on the planet. Someone who is the stereotype of what Americans call Joe Blow. Someone no one would suspect of such greatness. We even let his own mind form that hero, so he is recognizable as a hero by the people.” He pulled a book from thin air. He flipped halfway through it, and began to run his finger down the page. “Here, Nick Parker.”
The book passed hand to hand. It was actually nothing more than a dictionary, but while humans joke about a word meaning someone specific, in the dictionary of the gods, it was often the truth. In the Movie Xanadu the female lead tells the man in love with her that she was a muse. When he looked it up, it gave the definition then 'do you believe me now, Sonny?'. Beside the definition of Mediocre was a picture.
In every way that men defined the term he was ordinary; lackluster black hair, brown eyes, so nondescript that he would disappear into a crowd. If his face were used for a Where's Waldo picture, no one would ever find him; even if he were the only person on the page.
“Perfect.” Amaterasu whispered. “And how do we bestow this on him?”
“Usually through history it has been done by the discovery of an item from the gods. Perseus got a shield that was a mirror, a sword immune to damage and helmet that made him invisible.” Zeus told her.
“Well we can't very well give this person such things.” Ra said. “First, unless you're in an army, most people don't wear helmets in modern times.”
“Shut up, Loki.” Ra said. “As for a shield or sword, why give him something if one of the powers we can bestow is the ability to manifest it for himself?”
“But we need that first gift.” Zeus said.
“How about a ring?” Odin said. “Alberich the dwarf in the opera Das Rheingold made a magic ring which would let its bearer rule the world, but only by someone who first renounces love.”
“Hey, wait a minute!” They looked over at Aphrodite, who until that moment, had been sitting on Thor's lap, discussing what had come up. She straightened her clothes so she was only fashionably deshabille, and stormed over to the table. “One thing heroes always face is the temptations of love.”
“Except for Alberich.”
“Shut up, Loki!” She snarled. “The Americans talk about the pursuit of happiness, and no one is happier than a man or woman pursuing sexual gratification. So we can't have that.”
“Fine, fine.” Odin said. “How about we allow him all the pursuit and capture of love he can handle, okay?”
“Fine by me.” She purred walking around the table to plunk herself in Odin's lap.
“So who gets to bell the cat as it were?” The gods looked confused, then at Loki. “An old fable by a Greek named Aesop. The mice vote to bell the cat.”
“Oh that.” Amaterasu, arguably the smartest one at the table proper murmured. “Well it was your idea-”
“Hey wait a Jotunheim minute!” Loki protested. “I've been trying to help mankind with cold fusion and how to extract hydrogen cheaply so they can stop burning fossil fuels! I've got a full dance card, here!”
“Not forever, Loki.” Odin purred as Aphrodite began wriggling around on his lap. “You just deliver the item and the proclamation.”
“But humans are dense. You all know that. Five minutes after he puts this ring, bracelet, necklace, whatever on, he's going to have questions, and I for one am not a bloody owner's manual.” Again the blank looks. “Humans get owner's manuals with devices they buy. It explains how the item works. Most of them aren't bright enough to put two and two together.” All of the gods nodded at that. They had run into human hardheadedness often in the past.
“Wait, humans made a movie about Perseus-” Zeus began.
“Clash of the Titans. Two versions, one in 1981, the other in 2010.” Loki cringed back at the glares at his interruption, then rallied. “When Perseus in the earlier version lost the helmet gifted on him by Athena, Sir Laurence Olivier, who played Zeus ordered Susan Fleetwood, who played Athena to give him her familiar, Bubo the owl. Rather than give him up, she instead had Hephaestus make a clockwork owl for the hero.”
“Damn straight.” They looked at Athena, who was standing off to the side throwing javelins at Baldur, who of course was uninjured. “I am not letting some human schlub have my favorite pet.” She reached up, rubbing the chest of her owl, who promptly bit her finger.
As she cursed, trying to get him to let go, the leading gods nodded. “Yes.” Zeus said. “I will command Hephaestus to make... What is it now, Loki?”
“Humans are working with the theory of what they call memory plastics. Something that can change it's shape with the right stimulus. Like Transformers.” Again with the blank look. “The Dwarfs have been working on it too, at my request. We can make him a plastic owl that will be a hell of a lot lighter than clockwork is.”
“Fine!” Zeus roared. “Just do it!”
As the subject of this story, I can tell you what happened when they saw their hero...
A collective 'Oops'.
A Hero is born
My name is Nick Parker. As much as I tried, I never seemed to excel at anything. I was not the jock, or the egghead, or even the nerd. I was the nonentity. I had been marked absent from class even while the teacher's gaze ran across me. After it happened a few times I grabbed a seat in the very front row of every class just to guarantee that I would make the roll call. My grades were adequate, but never that great. I entered St Swithins' Dual Academy at exactly the center of the class standing.
Oh, I wanted to be the best, but it was always outside of my grasp when I was younger. There were better students, better looking students. Girls liked Jocks for sex and eggheads for good grades, not wallflowers; if they remembered me at all it was as the guy you could always talk to who gave good advice, and never tried to cop a feel. I might as well have been the school's father confessor. So I merely became my own clique of one. and as much as I might wish to be remembered, I would have vanished from sight if the Gods hadn't chosen me for their gift.
Everything changed then. Within the first week after receiving it, I was one of the most popular students there. Everyone knew my name, and more than half wanted me in their beds. And I have those ancient gods to thank.
Gee, thanks, guys.
The day it happened I came home to find Loki standing in my room, idly running his fingers along my collection of anime. How did I know he was Loki? Because he looked exactly like Tom Hiddleston who played the role in the 2011 movie Thor. When 7-11 had the cups from the movie for Slurpees, I had wanted to get one of Thor or Sif. For some reason the local store only had Loki and the Destroyer. So I bought the Loki cup. I looked at it, stunned. The logo was still there, but the picture was missing.
“What the hell happened to my cup?” I asked.
“Sorry.” He told me. “I needed something in the room as a focus to enter, it was all you had available.” He spread his arms. “Would you mind if I change?”
“You're in my room and want to change? Into what?” I looked around. “You didn't bring any other clothes I can see.”
“Oh nothing so mundane.” As I watched he seemed to shrink in like a TV shutting off, then popped back into shape. Only now he was taller, more muscular, and had a beard and hair in a red so bright it looked like someone has set his head on fire.
I found myself on my ass back-pedaling into the door. “You know, back when we gods visited humans they would fall on their knees, or bow. Is this the new version of that?” I shook my head numbly. “Then may I ask a question?”
“If I can first.” I blurted out. He motioned his hand as if suggesting I continue. “What are you?”
“I thought that would be obvious from the form I chose at first. I am the god Loki.”
“The Norse devil.”
“So Khristos and his followers would claim. Actually I am the god of change. If the gods and I were together, I would be the one pushing evolution, and they would be claiming they made man from mud. My question is about your school. Why is a boy who has the religious leanings of leaf mold going to a Catholic Prep School?”
“My grandfather's will. He left me some money, about half a million. But only if I went to Catholic schools.”
“Ah. It makes as much sense any any other part of your life I have seen so far.”
“What do you mean about that? You've had the FBI run a background check on me?”
“I don't need the FBI. I have my own sources.” He sighed. “You have been chosen by the gods to receive a gift of great power.”
“All but Khristos and Jehovah. They have enough people talking them up. Primarily the Greek, Norse, Japanese and Egyptian pantheons.”
“But I am an atheist!”
“Oh no, you're not an atheist. No one but those Born Again idiots think more of god or gods than your average atheist, if only to find reasons to deny them. You are merely apostate.” At my blank look he sighed. “It means you might have believed, but merely ignore religion now. But that is what made you perfect for our gift. We are going to make you a hero.”
“What, a sandwich?”
He closed his eyes. “I should have read a book entitled 'dealing with dummies for dummies.” He whispered. “No, I mean like the heroes of old; Siegfried, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Genji, Hercules.” He noticed that I recognized the last name at least. “But the form of this hero will be determined by you.”
“Why us?” He shot back. “We've either allowed or created heroes through the centuries before Khristos supplanted us. Why can't the human race do the heavy lifting for once?”
“Why a hero then?”
“Because Khristos and his father pretty much did away with the idea of man doing anything for himself. But too many out there need a hero to protect them. Not all the time, but just often enough that they do not lose hope. That we elder gods can give them.”
“Right, fine. What kind of powers are you going to give me?”
“We weren't sure what would sit best with humanity, so we allowed all of the powers of four pantheons at your beck and call.”
“You used that word before. What does it mean?”
“Pantheon.” He sighed, and rubbed his temples. “Headache?”
“Yes, a headache named Nick Parker.” He clapped his hands. “Right, Religion for Dummies. Gods are divided up into those worshiped in certain areas, and all of them within that framework are within a listing called a pantheon. All of the gods I have mentioned were from various areas; Japan, Egypt, the Germanic peoples, and Greece. The Greek gods are the best known to most.”
“Sure, they named the planets and moons after them.”
He sighed, eyes closed. Then he spoke slowly, as if to an idiot. “Actually the Romans stole the Greek gods, filed off the serial numbers, changed the names, and claimed them as their own. It was the Roman gods they named the objects in your solar system after. Let us start simply, I will try not to use words of more than two syllables. What do you know of, say, Odin?”
“He's the king of the Norse gods, has only one eye, has two ravens that are his spies, and rides an eight legged horse.”
“Ah you remembered Sleipnir, my favorite son.”
He sighed, rubbing his temples again. “When Asgard was being built, the builder was using a stallion named Svaðilfari to haul the loads. The horse was very strong, and Odin was looking at having to pay for the work by giving him his daughter Freya-”
“The most beautiful of the Goddesses.”
“You would remember her. Everyone remembers her.” Loki sighed. “Anyway, to make sure he would not complete it in time, I took the form of a mare, and lured Svaðilfari away the way only a mare can, so the builder defaulted on the contract, and the Gods got Asgard for free. But I ended up giving birth to Sleipnir.” He waved his hand. “Don't ask.”
He paced back and forth, still rubbing his head. “All of the gods within a pantheon have their own specialties and powers. I for example am a shape-shifter, able to take any form I can imagine. Hugin and Mungin, thought and memory are the Ravens of Odin, and his spear never misses if he throws it. Freya is the goddess of magic. Remember the old line 'like trying to herd cats'? She can do it. Baldur is invulnerable-”
“Wait. Didn't Baldur get killed because you gave someone some mistletoe to throw at him?”
“Yes! But it was because the Norse gods were mortal, and becoming immortal would have caused too many problems. After I resurrected him there were no more problems with that. Now to go on; all pantheons are like that with greater and lesser gods who have their own jobs assigned by those who worship them. So just from what I have told you, you can learn what you need to learn from wherever in the world by merely sending your thoughts in that direction...” He glared at me. “And if we find out you're peeking into the girl's showers at school one of us will come back down and thump you! These are to make humanity's life better; not to let you see girls undressed. To go on, you will be able to change form, be invulnerable to most attacks, and will be able to do magic in time. Other pantheons have additional powers as you will discover.”
He opened his hand, and a wide gold ring sat on it. There were tiny symbols that probably represented the gods he'd mentioned. “This is the key to all this power. Once you put it on, and change into the hero for the first time, it cannot be removed. It will be sealed to you alone as will the new form. If there is danger near by it will glow and pinch your finger, so unless you wish the people near you to know what you are, be sure to hide until the transformation is complete. Once you are transformed into your new body, you may call on any power of the gods, and it will be yours.”
I looked at it, then gingerly lifted it from his hand. It must have been pure gold. It was heavy. I started to put it on my left ring finger, but he stopped me. “If you wear it there, everyone will think you're married. Unlike a man cheating on his wife, you cannot remove it.” I slid it on my right ring finger instead.
“All right, what do I do?”
“Stand up, say 'I accept this gift of the gods', promise to use it to protect people everywhere with their help, and transform into your new form.”
“Okay.” I stood. “I accept this gift of the gods. I will always protect people anywhere with this divine help.” Nothing happened. “What's wrong?”
“With all of your newly bestowed powers, you must concentrate on becoming that power.”
“Oh.” I closed my eyes. Godlike powers, helping the people wherever I can. I felt a tingling all along my body.
I opened my eyes. “What's wrong?” As soon as I spoke I knew something was wrong. My voice was higher. Like a... I turned toward the mirror on my door. There was a girl my height with long flowing red hair to her waist, in a St Swithins' Girl's School uniform of neat white blouse and a plaid skirt. Behind me, Loki was clutching his head as if his headache had become a migraine. “Jesus Christ.” I blurted. Then I looked at Loki. “What the hell went wrong?”
“Give me a moment.” He walked over, sat in my chair, and leaned forward imitating Rodin's Thinker. While he was busy, I looked at myself in dawning horror. Frantically I reach down, lifting the skirt, and checked exactly what you would expect a guy to check if this happened to him. I've got- and I've got- and I don't have- I was in shock. My hands reached up, bouncing what was on my chest now. A bit bigger than the girls at school, I thought. I know the old saying 'more cushion for the pushin', but give me a break!
“What?” I spun around.
He was back at my anime collection. “Japanese Animation. Most of the male heroes run around as Samurai, martial artists, ship's captains or wearing some kind of battle armor or manning giant robots. But the ones who can control magic, and have magical weapons are almost always women. That explains it.” He turned to look at me. “If you'd been more into live action hero movies, or American Animation, you could have been any comic book character you've ever seen. But you like that,” he waved at my collection, “instead. So when you transformed, you took on this appearance.” He motioned at me. “Thallia is going to love this.” He caught my blank look. “The Muse who is in charge of comedy. This will definitely be worth a laugh or two.”
“I am not laughing.” I snarled. “How do I fix it?”
“Fix it? You chose that form, we did not. Once you chose, it is what you become. It is permanent.”
“Permanent! You mean I'm a girl forever?”
“Of course not, you moron. Only when you are exercising your powers. You will change back automatically after a time when your present mission is done.”
“What do you mean, 'after a time'?”
“Think. You help a ship at sea in a storm by calming the ocean. The storm goes away, and the ship is now safe. If it stopped immediately, you'd end up in the ocean trying to figure out how to swim home.” He clapped his hands again. “So, my job is done-”
“Wait a damn minute! I'm not in danger right now, why do I still look like this?”
“Because you're upset, and to a human that makes them defensive. So once you've calmed down, you'll change back.”
“And how am I going to know what I can do? What I know about the gods, whatever gods, is bupkas!”
He sighed. “We are sending a bird that will be able to explain the basics, but as for all you can do, I suggest that you study the gods as if it were a final exam with a pass-fail requirement. Because it is.” With that he waved his hand, and vanished.
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