Disclaimer of fandoms I don’t own anything of :
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stargate SG-1, Full Metal Panic, Macross Universe, Tenchi Muyo Ryo-Ohki (including elements from GXP and Okuta Manga), Appleseed (manga), Ghost in the Shell (manga), Battle Angel Alita (including Last Order), Once Upon a Time… Space!, Space Adventure Cobra, Leijiverse, G.I. Joe, Dune, Babylon 5, Star Wars. Author notes: While reading Campfire Stories is not mandatory to understand and (I hope) enjoy the Traveller Chronicles, this story will make little sense if you have not read the main story. This chapter was added after chapter 18 of the Traveller Chronicles.
The group of seven female had been enjoying an evening of rest, grilling some meat on the fire and thanking the fact their metabolism made it so that they did not have to fear for their figure. The evening was a little cool so they were all cuddling near the fire to compensate for their light clothes.
“Mom,” said a young Slayer as she turned to look at a gorgeous blonde in a bikini and a Tahitian pareo.
“Yes, Meghan?” asked Venus. “But please speak in Olympian so that everybody can understand.”
The girl from Toronto nodded, remembering that they could all speak that language as part of what Faith called the new and improved Slayer package.
“I remember seeing the painting of you by Botticelli…” she said in something resembling Latin.
“And you want to know if it did really happen like that, right? And you too?”
The six girls assembled near the campfire, in a small creek of Merida Island, all nodded cheerfully.
“Very well, my daughters. The answer is yes, I was born an adult in mind as in body and I came out of the sea the day Uranus died. The shell in the painting… artistic license. But to understand what happened that day, I must come back by a few months. Can one of you tell me how Uranus died?”
“He was... hem… neutered by Saturn,” said a girl with a thick Aussie accent.
“That’s the mythology, Zoe; it is not exactly what happened in reality. The myth says that in ancient times, Terra and Uranus, Mother Earth and Father Sky reigned but that Terra suffered under the too many embraces of her husband, as they prevented life to grow on her. This is but an allegory of what happened.”
“The Watchers told us that the demons reigned on Earth in the past,” said Meghan.
“The demons of that time, the Old Ones, were not beings of this universe. Their unnatural presence choked the ecosystem of this planet. In the myth, their collective presence was designed as Uranus. I can see on your faces that you wonder how the things that have been described to you can have been changed in a sky god. The answer is that most human want to forget that time and the story was rewritten more than once. The Watchers and various demon factions also played a part in it, by destroying or removing accounts that told otherwise from archeological sites.”
She waved her hand on the fire, making an Earth with slightly distorted continents appear.
“Then, eight million years ago, the Alterans came on this world. They were… humans from another galaxy. Intrigued by the demons and their magic, they set up a colony in a then ice-free part of Antarctica and observed. For a time, the Old Ones and the Alterans lived without bothering each other. Then, it was war. It went badly for the Alterans. Their population in this galaxy was almost all dead from a plague unleashed by the demons and most of the survivors had already fled to another galaxy in their spaceships. Only a small group of scientists, led by Saturn, remained here on Earth. Saturn was an expert in the physics of time and he created a weapon that would, he hoped, wipe the Old Ones out of this universe.”
“Let me guess,” said Zoe. “Something went wrong.”
“Indeed. The universe hiccupped as dimensions were torn apart and others created. More than all, this attracted the attention of the Parcae. Now, what did I tell you about them?”
“That they were far more than the goddesses of fate,” said a girl called Siobhan. “That they are older than the universe and probably to par with beings like Eternity or the Living Tribunal.”
“Yes. The oldest of the Parcae repaired the reality and condemned Saturn and his kin to be the guardians of the gates to hell until the last sun died. The middle Parcae, in her great mercy, gave to the Titans a link to Mother Earth, teaching them in the ways of magic. Finally, the youngest Parcae took the remnants of Saturn’s crime and breathed upon it, bringing them to life. They were… Ideas, entities of thought. Some drifted, not realizing the gift they were given. Others gained sentience. Among them was the Idea of Beauty, so dear to Plato. As she wanted to give love as well as receive, she molded for herself a body and rose out of the Primordial Sea.”
“She became Venus…” said a Senegalese girl called Julie.
The goddess smiled gently.
“The Titans that were former Alterans, the ones that were former Ideas and even some demons allied and founded Olympus. As you guessed, I am of the second category.”
“Hem… Mom,” said Siobhan. “I read about the Alterans in the library. It is said that some of the survivors Ascended…”
“Ah… the Others. Ascension is a very old principle where one sheds his bonds with desire and materiality to reach a higher state of existence.”
“I heard the monks tell about that, when I was a kid on Sulawesi,” said another girl. “That’s in Buddhism, right?”
“Yes, Banu. Having personally worked very hard to go the opposite way, to anchor myself in materiality and enjoy this world, I have some difficulties to understand them… but, as the Goddess of Love, I am a desire they must renounce anyway.”
She wiggled a finger. In the fire, the image of Earth was replaced with a being made of tendrils of light.
“This is how an Ascended One looks in his true form, a being of energy who can give itself the appearance of a mortal. We Olympians are different as Mother Earth wants us to be anchored in her, to participate in the flow of life and death. We are of flesh and blood; we can give life and die, even though the latter is rather difficult.”
“How difficult?” asked Zoe.
“For me… It would need the disintegration of my body and even then Pluto could bring me back to life. And Zoe… no reckless behavior. First you are not full Olympians… yet and being grounded for a century or more in my nephew’s realm is really no fun.”
The Australian grumbled.
“The Others’ main rule is not to interfere in the affairs of mortals, except if another of them broke that rule. But don’t fool yourselves, they are not good. Not so long ago, an Ascended One called Orlin gave a weapon to the people of a planet so that they could defend themselves against an invasion. Alas, the mortals’ leaders, emboldened by their victory started to plan a war of aggression. The Others did not care that the weapon was used for good the first time or that all of the population was not guilty. They only saw that one of them broke their rules. They destroyed all life on that world and condemned Orlin to haunt the ruins.”
“Mom, and you… us… I mean the Olympians… we’re the good guys, right?” asked Zoe.
“A fair question. A lot of mythology stories about us being jerks are, sadly, true. Another night, I will tell you how Saturn and the other Titans that were originally humans became mad and had to be neutralized or how the patriarchal viewpoint of the Greek contributed to paint Juno far blacker than she really is, while belittling the sins of Jupiter. For now, what I will tell is that some of us changed with the human society, particularly since Jupiter is not here to rule us.”
“Well… Bacchus and I, for example, were involved a lot in the hippie movement and Apollo has taken a liking to surfing and rock music. For some of us, it was deeper. Juno actually dropped the marriage part of her portfolio to become the goddess of feminism and wealth…”
“Hem… then who…”
“Not me, you can be sure of that, Meghan. While I have nothing against people needing to formalize their love, I am too fond of freedom for that… and, Siobhan, Vulcan and I were never really married. He quickly understood that I’m not the kind of bird that can thrive in a cage… to be back on topic, Concordia has taken marriage in her portfolio, as this is a form of agreement, until a new Goddess of Marriage emerges. Who knows, it will perhaps be one of you…”
She looked at the girls, seeing the yawns in many of them after a long day of training in the jungle.
“Time to take out your bedrolls, girls.”
“Yes, Mom!” said the assembled Slayers.