ST: Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow. That is how people see it all across the world. While other Cities might be the Hub of Commerce or Sport. Metropolis is the City that Lex Luthor built. Luthor Corp was founded here by the Luthor family over two hundred years ago. Lionel Luthor’s grand pappy put the first stones in to the foundation of what would one day be Luthor Tower. The shining beacon of the City. Center stage, right in the middle of New Troy. The island epicenter of the City of Tomorrow. Named for the Past.

You see Metropolis may be the City of Tomorrow, but it has never forgotten it’s past. Never forgotten it’s heritage. It’s creators had a very specific vision for it when they sewed those founder’s stone in to the bedrock. That tiny Island was, like it’s namesake, meant to be the center of the world. The modern Greek Empire. From which the font of all things should spring. Technology. Science. Literature. Culture. This was the plan from the beginning, yet it didn’t get there solely on the back of it’s founders. Nor the Luthor money. Metropolis was carried in to the Tomorrow, by it’s bastion. The Superman. Fashioned, even now, at the Peak, in the same honor of the Gods of old. With a statue that rises up and points to the Heavens.

New Troy isn’t the only place in the ‘Modern World’ that remembers it’s heritage though. As young Cassandra Sandsmark just discovered the seeds of Greece have been planted elsewhere. Fawcett City. It made no sense, why there? For all the questions, there could be no doubt as to the veracity of it. The little city that Time Forgot is shrouded in magic and mystery. So to then, is it difficult to deny the clues she has been given. As if the name itself did not give it away, it was easy to search the internet for Daily Planet news.

….seven years ago….

The United States was rocked by the news that a small portion of Gotham City had been rendered uninhabitable. Across the Globe, the Headlines ranged from muted to hysterical. As people raced to put blame on someone, something. Eventually they found their scapegoat. Not the deranged men who poisoned the water, but the man who sought to stop them. Many would herald it as the Batman’s fault, by sheer right of existence. His presence caused an irreversible escalation.

Later that year a similar situation brought the unassailable Superman in to question. Would there have been an Alien invasion, if they hadn’t come here looking for the Kryptonian in the first place? It all boiled down to that age-old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Was Batman or Superman the cause or the effect? That year would serve as a catalyst to changing the landscape of the world for ever. The History books say so.

Conveniently they say very little, Cassandra finds, about the incident that year. An otherwise quiet night, a swath of the Subway in New Troy erupted in chaos. The reports were never clear. The internet was still in it’s infancy. Lois Lane had called it a terrible tragedy. She spoke of the damage that was caused by two colliding subway cars as ‘inexplicable.’ There were little explanations. Even fewer that made sense. Until she looked deeper. Until Cassandra caught upon a clue that the authorities and Miss Lane lacked.

Teth Adam.

A stray photo caught the eye. He was a man she would never forget. But even recognizing him in a single photo only confirmed what Conner said. He had been there. It didn’t answer the question about why? That would require a trip. Excuses made to Mom, that only got accepted without scrutiny because Helena Sandsmark was distracted by the Amulet being put in to her hands. In to the air. Out of the burbs. Over to the middle of the Island. Down two flights of stares, down in to the interior of the world’s fastest subway system.

It takes but a casual search to realize that the Subway of today, replaced the Subways of before. The accident had only given opportunity to Upgrade, but isn’t that the way of this City? While plain clothing might be less conspicuous in the moment of getting to the Subways unnoticed. No one is going to overlook a young woman like Cassie, slipping off the guarded rails. Down in to the tracks, where she could get deeper. Down in to the cavernous underbelly of the Subway system. What does Cassie have to fear in the Dark?

Once she has found her way beyond. Managed not to be run down by an on-coming Rail. Carefully avoided stepping on the electrified third rail herself. She’ll eventually find herself far enough down, to see the closed off access hatches. Sealed off now, because they lead to the old station. The one that was at the center of whatever happened with Teth-Adam nearly ten years ago.

Cassie: I like to believe that I’m an open, earnest kind of person. For fifteen years of my life I had no reason for secrets. Not one. I spent all of those years traveling the world with my Mother, moving from one location to another, dig after dig, repositories of ancient lore and objects that I was allowed to see and experience first hand. It never occurred to me, not once, that everything wasn’t exactly what it looked like on the outside. That things wouldn’t always be like that. It was pretty naive, honestly. Then I got not so much uprooted, as rooted. Plunked down in St. Mary’s. In Metropolis.

The first secret I ever kept was from my Mother was when I was fifteen. I didn’t tell her how much I hated the place, because I promised I’d try. I didn’t tell her how cruel the other girls were, or how boring the classes got. No place teaches you what insecurity looks and feels like better than a school where the girls don’t have any boys to behave for. Whoever thought that was a good idea was…well. Stupid. When I was sixteen, my secrets got bigger and scarier. Until I had someone to share them with and that wasn’t my Mom. Eventually, Conner talked me in to spilling it.

It was then that I first learned that my Mother had been the one keeping secrets. A whole lot bigger than mine. And that my big one she already knew. Things have been…strained since then. Still mostly good, don’t get me wrong, but definitely not like our Wanderlust glory days had been. Secrets started to be more of a necessary thing. Secrets also lend themselves to lies, and I tell myself I’m not good at them but… it gets easier. Which is really crappy. Once you start keeping one or the other, you can’t stop. They lead to more. And more. Then you realize you’re not being open to anyone. Or talking with the people you ought to be.

This week? Apparently the week for changing that. For talking. Some of those conversations have gone a lot better than others if I”m being totally honest. The burning questions for my Mom, that didn’t entirely get answered how I wanted but… I could accept why. The talk with Conner, which turned into another talk with Freddy and Conner and… that is going to lead to even more talking. There were just other things first. Delivering the Amulet to Helena Sansmark for safe keeping for one. Excusing myself to slip off for another long, long overdue conversation. With someone that I”ve never talked to in my life.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone. I’d talked to Conner about trying. Talked to Mom about how it would even be done. It’s time to stop talking about it and just. Do it. No time like the present, before something else goes catastrophically wrong with my week and it’s too late, right? New Troy isn’t far, not when you’re already in Metropolis. Ferry is usually the best way. It’s what I would have been told to do because someone’s mother doesn’t exactly appreciate flying like she does. I just don’t take the time. Up, up and over more than away. To the site that stuck out in my mind. I could have gone back to Fawcett but it seemed like a bad idea just now. New Troy was a name I’d been given. Easy to understand, with a little research why it might be a ‘special.’ Place. A site for Gods. New and old. Then there’d been the information my boyfriend had let slip at the library. About Black Adam, what he’d done and where.

Chances are he was after something. Did he get it? Would the place still hold power? Pulling the hood of the sweatshirt I’d grabbed at home, when I’d changed clothes while Con was talking to Mom, over my golden hair I’d slipped in. Moving quick enough that if anyone tries to stop me that I wouldn’t be caught. Through the tunnel before guards could be summoned to stop that darn teenager. Running, instead of flying, because I don’t know that there’s not cameras down here. They sure seem to be everywhere. What do I have to fear in the dark? Not much it turns out. If you think the flashlight function on your average iPhone is bright?

You should try Waynetech 9000. Serves me pretty well, as does not being electrocuted on accident, until I get to where I really shouldn’t be. No one should be, judging by the meant to be permanence of the seals on these hatches. Well. What are superpowers for if not getting where schoolgirls shouldn’t go? Reaching up, I wrap fingers around the old, unusable latch. Pulling with steadily increasing pressure until I can get it to come loose. A yank would be quicker. But it also might pull more free than I’m ready for.

ST: When this area was sealed, it was done so with the foresight that one day the City might need to re-open this area. It isn’t unheard of for the city to need to rebuild itself after a catastrophe. Nor is it unheard of for people of lesser scruples to make use of places just like this for some nefarious purpose. The result is that Cassandra finds herself without the proper tools needed to make this work easily. When all else fails there’s always brute force and she’s in luck, because apparently the real Superman didn’t help seal all of this off. The large duracrete seals eventually begin to give and she’ll be able to pry and lever them out of the way. Of course she could have just ripped them away, but she’s smart enough to avoid the collateral damage.

Speaking of Damage? The moment she is beyond the sealed off entrance, she’ll see -why- it was sealed in the first place. The Tram-Station has been preserved in the same state it was nearly ten years. The City repaired just enough to make the area stable, but otherwise they seem content to have simply insured this area never saw a visitor. It is a mess. The Dust and Spider-Webs are an actual improvement upon the debris that litters everywhere you can see with an iPhone camera’s flash-light.

At first it might seem like a busy. There’s very little here in obvious sight other than your standard Tram-Station that had been through a horrible fight with yet another Super-Villain. Cassie isn’t a Detective. She can follow a trail, but she isn’t trained to see the clues. That leaves her to rely upon something else. Her brains. Surely. Her strength. Obviously. But just before she’s ready to give up and go? Her eyes catch upon a years old newspaper. Preserved, in spite of the mangled bench it sets near too. The headline reads, ‘Freak Lightning Storm Hits Metropolis!’

That is when she feels it. For the second time today. That sense of the willies. Almost a sensation of deja vu. Though it’s impossible that she would have ever been there before. It beckons her. Calls to her. Just as it did during her lab class earlier when that sanctum door opened and Freddy stepped out. Only this time there is no immediate, obvious pay off. Not until she closes her. Not until she follows that feeling. That sixth sense that tingles as she nears it.

The world seems to tingle as she nears it. A small breach in the wall. To the naked eye it looks like an impact pocket.It looks that way, right up until Cassie’s hand nearly touches the cement. Perhaps she’ll recoil from the way the crater reacts to her presence. The way electricity crawls across the surface. Calling to her. Asking her to help. All she must do is reach in and pull it from …


The difference between abandoned subway platform and great Mount is stark. The transition instant. Gone is the Hoodie, in it’s place flowing robe and sandles. Gone is the iPhone, but instead there is gold and jewels. So too is gone pretense of being alone. Because for the first time in her life, Cassie is among the Gods. A sprawling city ranges in front of her, just past the altar she stands before. In the distance she can see people, multiple, fluttering through the sky upon winged feet. Children playing with their tridents in the streets. Fountains of gravity defying water. Everything glows. As if someone took the world and turned up the contrast.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Cassie: The silence is eerie. Creepy. Enveloping. Nothing, and no one, seems to have been here since it was sealed up in the first place. As I step through the opening I’ve forced, I can hear the crunch of my shoes play the sound back to me, the little bits of rubble grinding under the soul of my sneaker. It’s like an accusation, or a recording of what I’m doing. It’s also like something out of a book, or a movie. The space itself. Swinging my phone this way and that to take in the room with the powerful spotlight. No one here but me and the spiders. And the remnants of what happens when something gets in the way of someone of power, and something that they want.

So what was he after? Did Raven stop him in time? How do we stop this from being a thing all the time? Not Black Adam. The destruction. Sure, Metropolis had made sparkling lemonade prosecco punch when given this particular lemon, like it was their intention all along to make something so much better and they were just waiting for the reason. That’s kind of what Luthor does, too. The whole this was my idea all along, thing. I go deeper, and deeper into the terminal, but there’s not much to find. Nothing really. Nothing to jump out at me until I see that newspaper. Lightning storms happen all the time. World over. They just aren’t called ‘freak.’ Three’s just some things I’m on high alert for right now. That’s one of them.


There it is again. That feeling. I pull up short as the hairs on my arms, the back of my neck, stand up at attention and I catch myself shivering in my sweatshirt, despite the fact that it’s not really cold. A little chilly down here, underground, but not cold. Not to me at least. I’m built a bit more….sturdy than most people. Twice in one day though. Did another door just open somewhere? Did Freddy get back into the sanctum? It lingers though. Exhaling, a sound that had been soft but the room makes it echo much louder than it was in the first place, I close my eyes and pay attention to what I’m feeling. That’s what I’m good at. Not clues and facts like Tim. Batman, jeez I’m never going to get used to that… mine’s a different sort of intuition. But I still follow it.

Hah. There. There it is. Unlike earlier, when the feeling had come and gone, this is getting stronger or at least more noticeable. Someone crashed here, but that can’t be the cause. Leaning in, I gingerly reach out to feel for a door, or some illusion and then pull back when it sparks and shifts. It’s not a warning though, it feels like an invitation. And you know what? I’m taking it.


I just about drop my phone in surprise. Shock really. Except it’s not there to drop anymore, and the peripheral edge of my hoodie vanishes from my view. I’m left blinking into the sudden light and it’s rather like in Wizard of Oz when they go from black and white to incredible technicolor. I don’t know where to look first. At the fact that my clothes are different and I’m dripping in more jewelry than I’ve worn in my entire life all at the same time. Usually it’s just a chain necklace, with a pendant and a ring dangling from it. Or to the people. No. Gods. Because that’s surely what they are. What catches my interest most are the children though. Obviously Gods have children. There’s me, for example though I’m half. Are these full? Is that why they get to be here? You don’t hear about them much in myths. Maybe for protection.

The voice’s, statement, accusation? makes me spin on a sandaled heel of my foot to face the source. Eyes getting even wider still, but there’s no apology in them for the intrusion, and definitely no guilt, either.

You, as in no one should be here that doesn’t live here or you, Cassie Sandsmark specifically?”

ST: The world around Cassandra is buzzing with so many things. Sounds of the children playing. The tones of music in the distance. Wind whispering through the grass and trees. Not only does everything glow with vibrant life, but the hills are alive with the sound of music. Focus will tell her that there is nothing really different about any of the things she sees. Grass is still grass. Trees are still trees. The Wind still pushes at you. Scents still permeate the nose. Everything is just richer than the world she knows, from living in it her whole life.

The figure behind her is at the same time larger than life and withered with age. His stature is that of someone who, at one time, stood a head taller than most anyone Cassie has ever met. Age has left him with the slightest stoop, that is in itself offset by the presence of the enamored trident. That too is a mish-mash of your standard fair, but topped with a Lightning Bolt crescent. What truly sets this man apart though? Is the eyes. They are lacking the white you would normally associate with an eyeball. Where the white should be is the stars, orbiting the electric Sunstone in the middle. Added to the sweeping beard that sways in the gusts of wind and factored along with the crown atop his head and you can of course take a leap of logic or faith to whom she has appeared before.


Ask a dumb question, get the shortest answer in the world, right? If she was expecting more she isn’t likely to get it. He seems willing, and able, to stand there for a fortnight looking upon her with expectant patient. She is trespassing here, while this is his land and the set of his jaw all but demands upon her to ‘Explain herself.’ He doesn’t have to say it. He just wills it to be so and Cassie is going to find herself hard pressed to fight that compulsion.

Cassie: Oh, so that’s how we’re going to play it, huh? Apparently close-lipped behavior runs in my family. On both sides. And they seem to have cancelled one another out in order to produce me. Zeus hasn’t said so much as ‘boo’ to me my entire life, so I would have had to be dumb to expect any kind of effusive, long awaited reunion. That sounds kind of dour and woe is me but the truth? I spent sixteen years of my life not even considering who it might be. I’m not one of those kids who, missing a parent, dreams of who and what they might be. Why they might have left. I knew the story, from when it was told to me when I asked but I’d never missed his presence. I had my Mom. Ask anyone I know. She’s all that and a bag of chips. I didn’t need anyone else.

Fast forward to present day, and hey. Guess what? Turns out my Dad’s Zeus. The Zeus. Who isn’t, apparently like people think, just the Head God of the Greek Pantheon, but God of the Gods. All of them. I’m actually a little offended that I now have to care. Because of who he is. Because of what that makes me, and apparently what that also has landed me in. I may be Helena Sandsmark’s daughter… but I’m Zeus’ too. That’s not something that goes away.

“Sure, right. Both.”

This is so much more awkward than it probably ought to be. Or maybe it’s just the right level. If anything, I’m probably under awed but…don’t get me wrong. Still awed, because look at him. And being told who your father is. Coming to grips with that. That’s one thing. Seeing him live, in person, this figure of stories that you grew up on. About the only thing that actually surprises me? The stoop. The age. That doesn’t seem right. Sure, he’s unknowable years old I’d bet but… I was kind of led to understand that I’m probably, in all likelihood, immortal. I’m going to hit a point where I stop aging. I can pretty much feel the power coming off of him, it’s the power that I’m housing right now, too. I wonder though, if the stoop is because he’s diminished.

There’s no question. No demands, just declaration that I shouldn’t be here. The end. And a look that Mom gave me the few times I’d done something wrong, and she was going to make me squirm until I confessed of my own ‘free will.’ I can feel the urge to squirm right now, too. The urge to talk getting stronger, and stronger…and… that actually makes me narrow blue eyes slightly. But I came here for answers. I should get to the questions and…get out. Though a big part of me wants to see how long I can go without caving under that gaze.

Right to the point then. Points.

“If I help Freddy Freeman, does that count as cheating? I want to help him. I don’t want to screw up the whole…thing, though.”

That’s a yes or no question, too. Which I’m probably going to get a yes or no answer to and that’s fine. But. Part of me wants more than that. Jeez. I don’t actually want an explanation do I? I find myself pursing my lips, and absently rubbing my elbow. I’m here. For all I know it may be the only time I’m here, or the only time I ever speak to him. I better make it count. For the questions I need, and the ones I don’t think I do.

“Did… you love my Mom? Or is my existence more along the lines of a calculated ‘overseas’ investment for you?”

ST: “Yes.”

His single word answer is far more than just that though. It may seem a single word, just as she expected, but there is more to it than that. She merely needs to open her mind to what just happened. She was told, in no uncertain terms by the God of the Gods that she was not supposed to be here. Then he answered her first question. Then here second. What isn’t being said is as important as what is. She hasn’t been evicted, sent back to where ever she is. She hasn’t been asked how she got here, when she apparently shouldn’t be. Nor has she been told not to ask her questions. Point in fact, she’s not been told anything. What to ask. What not to ask. Here’s merely stood there, looking at her, expecting information, but not shutting down her efforts to get some in return.

However. The very moment that he answered a second question? His level of expectation rises. So too then does that compulsion. Like the rising of a tide, that will eventually overtake the beach. Cassie is strong willed. She stands in defiance of her boyfriend, who is a superman in his own right. A Luthor on top of it. He is not the Godking. The eye of the stars, ruler of the heavens. He is not the one whom made his father vomit up his siblings, so that they could overthrow him and take all of creation in their name. Twice.

“I love all of my subjects,” it seems like a hedged answer, but there is a certain, if faint, smile that touches his lips in saying it. “She is a strong Woman. The mind of a scholar, the strength of ox and she’s as stubborn as one too. Admittedly, you did enhance my portfolio.”

By the time Zeus has finished speaking there is a really nothing left for Cassandra to do but explain why and how she came to be here. One might think that the All-Father of the Heaven and Earth would be omniscient, but the way his presence comes to bear upon her? Is born from a lack of knowledge. The All-Father is apparently not All-Seeing. Perhaps the myths and legends are wrong. Or perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye.

Cassie: It just keeps building. That feeling. Why should I need to explain myself? It ought to be pretty self-explanatory… the answer I get is…brief but I expected it to be. Helping Freddy however, is not the same as hindering Isis. You don’t have to be some verbal mastermind at wordplay to figure that one out. Especially not when you were already present to watch him smite the heck out of her once. Even he can step in if she’s the one doing the cheating.

Of course he loves all his subjects… and the things he says about my Mom are all true. She’s incredible. I happen to think he’s underselling it but you know. Can never talk too glowingly about your exes. I guess. I wouldn’t actually know, I’ve never had one. The comment about the portfolio makes my lips purse in a bit of a scowl. That stings a bit more than I think it should have, especially since I framed my presence in those terms in the first place.

“You don’t make babies with all your subjects, though.”

By the time I’m done muttering that, I’m practically squirming with the urge to blab. I don’t owe him an explanation, he owes me one if anything, but lately I’ve learned you don’t just get those kind of things. You apparently get tossed into the deep end without your water wings, and get encouraged to sink or swim. The truth, again which kind of stings and really shouldn’t, is that he’s a bazillion years old. All those years of ‘ignoring’ me were basically an eyeblink to him in all likelihood. Half an eyeblink. The compulsion makes the words come out in a rush though. More of one than I’d like.

“…I have more questions that I have answers, and I don’t understand what’s going on around me and it feels like I should have some idea and I was just fine with the way my life was going until it changed, and now everyone’s looking at me like I’m supposed to do something great, and I want to. Not the doing something great really but the helping, and I spent the last sixteen years not even being a little curious about who you are and now I have to know, because I need to know what I came from, but I can’t know because you’re up…here and I’m down there and so I figured I should just cut out the middleman and….”

Yiiiiiiiiie shut up, Cassie. Clearing my throat with a little bit of a flush to my face, I try to slow down what was a steadily increasing speech pace until I was just about babbling.

Zeus: “Is living a Good life not enough for you? Are you disappointed in the life your Mother provided that you? Do you find it unworthy? Or is the opinion of others what defines you?”

There is a sigh that comes. It bespeaks of how trying this is for a man of such advanced years. Not that Zeus is old and feeble, but that there is need to have this talk with her. As if he, actually, expected more or better from her than that particular explanation. Though his immediate resignation is also plain, because for the first time he takes a step towards her and the altar to his Name that she arrived at. Ambling up, Zeus puts his posterior right upon the edge of the altar and sprawls across it lazily. The massive trident is put in to her hands, for safe keeping, while he settles himself upon the one place that anyone should probably be sitting.

“The Trial was Broken, Cassandra. Two of the Avatars of the Gods have been slain, by one not anointed by Shazam to take part in the Trials. He cannot garner the Blessings of those Gods, the Avatar for their trial has been destroyed. So moving against Isis is not cheating. The question you should ask, not to me but to yourself, is whether the remaining Avatars would find Freddy Freeman worthy of their Blessing, if you right this wrong for him.”

“No. Not with all my subjects, but you see Cassandra. I will speak to your mother, I cannot believe she has not had this talk with you. Oh, very well. When a Mommy and a Daddy love one another. When they find themselves voraciously attracted to one another. When their loins ache for that single moment of inseperable contact to one another. When the sky weeps from their longing to suckle upon one another’s Nectar… a baby Godling is born of their yearnings.”

Cassie: “…yeah sorry, it wasn’t really meant that way. Okay. It was maybe in part meant that way but I’ve had kind of a rough week. Passive aggressive isn’t usually my thing.”

The word presume is getting thrown around a lot right now. I suppose that’s fitting, because I have to do a lot of that. Presume, or assume, there’s a subtle but distinct difference. Mostly in the tone. And I do actually look embarrassed by my little outburst, or at least the method that I did it. I’m not sorry for how I feel, but my delivery could have been a bit more…well. Better.

“I can do what I want, until you don’t like what I’m doing. You’re the boss, I get that. But the only rule I really have been told is that Gods aren’t supposed to be directly intervening in the world, except I live in the world. I intervene by existing.”

Especially if I’m out doing superheroics. And boy…I really know how Conner feels now, but maybe that only applies to the full-blooded, and not a demi-god like myself. It’d make sense, the distinction, except Tim had said it was a bunch of demigods that had triggered the edict in the first place. Either he misunderstood (unlikely) or there’s something to that.

“Are you telling me that the Trials this time were made to be broken? Ugh. Talk about a headache… okay. Fine.”

What a thing to wrap your head around. Maybe that’s something someone else could parse better than me, but I’m pretty sharp most of the time and this is mostly making me feel like my head’s wanting to spin. It’d be easier to just take what he said as fact. Not try to sort out the truth or reality of it. I’ve learned lately, though, that nothing really is what it seems like on the surface.

“..that’s a lot of presuming but I followed. I think that’s… also one of the nicest things I’ve heard said about me.”

And Freddy laid out some pretty good compliments earlier today. It also makes me, in a little corner of my mind, suspicious. A feeling that I try to immediately squash down because it’s not going to serve anyone much good right now. Sucking in a deep breath, I puff it out again, ruffling blonde hair as I do.

“So. You can’t directly interfere or influence. Not just with the Trials, but with the world. What if it were… an exchange? Like. A favor for services rendered.”

Zeus: “I know that it isn’t your normal way, but you are under an awful lot of stress lately and you’ve under some pressure to be more assertive. Dreams will do that to a person. Drive them to be something that they aren’t necessarily. It’s why they are dreams. We must, at times, decide whether they are driving us to be the best or the worst version of who we want to be. But, it sure sounds like you were quite happy to be who you are. Until, suddenly. You weren’t happy with it anymore. I wonder what changed. Was it your mother’s decision to make you experience the life of an Average Teen Human? Was it that her Deal with me, meant you gaining access to your birthright at the age of Awakening? Was it the nightmares that your Brother gave you? Or the dreams you sleep with now? What was the catalyst that brought about your unhappiness. That is perhaps the only thing about you that I don’t know.”

“Who told you that rule? Certainly not I. If I were to have told you of such a rule, then I would have phrased it slightly different. The Gods are forbidden from Directlyintervening in the Mortal World. To use your words there are Loopholes to ever decree. Even ones from mine own lips. Strictly speaking, Cassandra, you are not truly a Goddess. You are born of a Mortal. One of your many Birthrights, is the right to take part in the world you choose to live in. Should you ever choose to ascend, to take your place here in the Heavens or descend to the fiery abyss of Hell. You would then be subject to the rule. As I said. You should not be here. You have not chosen nor are you ready to choose.”

“I did not say that the Trials themselves were made to be broken. I asked you, what would make you believe that one of the Gods that offer their Blessing had not chosen -this- as Freddy Freeman’s Trial? Your ability to presume is outstripped by your inability to listen. Look at what has occurred. Look closely. Freddy has gained three of the Blessings he needs. His rival has at least two. Thus there is but one blessing yet to be discovered. Who’s is left?”

Once again, the hand lifts from and then returns to Cassie’s shoulder, where it lightly squeezes for the effect of reasserting her focus. “Cassandra, I am Zeus. I can do as I wish. None can question me. I make the rules. I can break the rules. But having the power to do as one wishes, do not entitle them to do so. I play by the rules that I put in place, simply because it is right for me to do so. There is also something to be said about leading by example. My people see the sacrifices that I make, it emboldens many of them to do the same. As it also serves as warning to those who might seek to do otherwise. Would you not fear the Wrath of a God, if you knew he that his fury would be that much more keen for you having trespassed where he himself has not?”

When he chuckles it is a thing of full-bodied enjoyment. Almost as if she were watching a slim version of St. Nicholas chuckling over cookies. “You are a Godly little thing, aren’t you? Seeking another loophole. Having the Chutzpah to ask the Rule-Maker how to circumvent his own Rules. Very well, Cassandra. A barter such as you speak is not unheard of. There are manners in which such business could be conducted, that would not raise my ire. ”

“I should warn you, however, little Godling. It is less the Act and more the Meaning that might merit my notice in such things. Intentions make all the difference.

Cassie: I’m not sure what it was myself, either. Growing up is going to be filled with moments of unfairness or confusion. That’s life. I’m pretty sure normal people experience that kind of thing, too. Look at Tim Drake. He didn’t need a superpower, or any kind of higher power influence to make his life a total mess. Or to be a hero, but that’s a different matter. The things Zeus is saying tell me that yes, he was paying attention. Especially the part about my dreams. So what made the change? Was it the powers, the unleashing of them so I started to be what I’d actually been born to be? Was it all the things that had been kept from me? Or a sense of betrayal that nothing was how I thought it was. Not just from my mother, but the world. Life was simple before that. It’s easy to be happy when things are simple.

“You’re not kidding. Or wrong. It’s definitely been a rocky couple… wait. Wait, wait back up.”

Dreams will make a person more assertive? Maybe I’m still over thinking things here, as he’d already said, but I’m definitely listening. If you’re pursuing a dream, you have to push yourself to get there and achieve it. That means being more assertive. He mentioned it twice though. The second time, in tandem with referencing the horrors that Ares had been visiting on my unconscious mind. Most of the time? My dreams aren’t really remarkable. They’re pretty damn normal, in fact. Nothing that should really drive me to much of anything. My cheeks color slightly as I run through a mental list of them.

“What about my dreams? What pressure? And when you say Age of Awakening is that meaning my physical age when they kicked in, or the state of the world as a whole?”

No, Zeus hadn’t told me that rule because we’ve never spoken before. Not something I need to throw out there, because…like I said. I really am not that passive aggressive and we both already know that point. I’m also still listening, stopping the whirring of my brain to focus and absorb. Some of it I knew, or… presumed, and some? Talk about a heavy, larger than life kind of thought. I get to choose? I didn’t want to assume a Disney cartoon got any sort of important details right but… Birthrights. Choices. My place?

“Um. Yours.”

That would be an educated guess, even if I hadn’t spoken with my new friend about his Trials and gotten the explanations from him and Red Ro…er. Batman. Just from the way he phrased it. I guess I’d thought there would still be gaining gifts from the other Avatars but…as Zeus said. They’re destroyed. No longer able to bestow anything. The broken nature of the trial now, the cheating of Freddy’s rival. I guess it fits. And it also means that now that I know? I need to be extra careful. There’s no pleading ignorance, but the fact is I was never really ignorant of that notion in the first place. You can’t take someone’s driver’s license test for them. And I can’t overcome Freddy’s obstacles.

“It’d be an escalation of proverbial arms. And epic scale Monkey See, Monkey do. I. Understand. I do.”

It sucks, but I get it. Just like I hadn’t been happy with Mom’s explanations but…once she’d given them I understood. Why she wanted me to be a ‘real girl’ before I learned there was anything else to be. How would my perceptions be skewed if like Conner, I just came out into the world with all that power, knowing I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted? That means I’m probably an entirely different Cassie. On the flip side, having lived the last …entire…part of my life without wanting anything from a Father I didn’t know, or want to know, means that finding out he could choose to act, or see me, but just doesn’t isn’t really quite the blow it could be. There’s a reason. It’s not just a platitude to say it’s one I understand.

Zeus’ laughter makes me blink, and then cock my head once more and watch his amusement. Well. It’s not smiting for being uppity. I’m not sure how I feel about being laughed at, but I don’t think that’s actually what he’s doing. He said it. I can do whatever I want. Until I make him mad by doing it.

“I just mean… I’m a big girl. I’m going to try to fight my own battles. But if I’m putting myself out there, and I let the world see me for who I really am. What I really am. I presume that may lead in a pretty dramatic uptick in belief. And so it might not be completely unreasonable in that case, if someday down the road I’ve got an epic emergency to…ask for a little help. Whatever that might be.”

I realize I’ve just kind of put myself out there like some kind of NASCAR racing vehicle, prime to have sponsor’s stickers slapped on me. An analogy I find instantly humorous in my head, and absurd enough that I let out a little giggle before I smother it down again just as quickly. It also might have come out like I’m trying to coerce the God of the Gods by saying I don’t have to claim him, or glorify him by proxy with my actions. That wasn’t my intention. Seems like a good way to get smote. Well. Maybe it was. At least a little. Maybe I should clarify.

“I’m going to keep helping people regardless. I don’t need some favor cookie dangling on a stick to make me do it. Just. Thought I’d ask since. I’m here and all.”

Zeus: For a lot of the next couple moments he sits there in silence. Watching Cassie. Seeing the wheels turning as she works through the things that she had asked and how the answers were given. Not just the words offered, but how they were offered. She’s examining everything said. Re-thinking them all. Over-thinking some. Under-thinking others. Most of all though, she searches for hidden meanings. Which once more drives a chuckle of mirth from the man before her.

“Your Mother does that all the time. She thinks about the double meanings of everything I say to her. I have learned that often times your Mother uses the adage about Gods and Riddles to convince herself that she has heard that which she wishes to hear.” White haired head canting off to one side, like a wizened old owl peering at a slow-moving worm it might pluck from the ground as a morsel. “If a Nightmare can scare you, then why can’t a Dream embolden you? Is the Nightmare all the worse, simply because it terrifies you? If a Nightmare gives you a fright, scaring you from doing the wrong thing. Is it not good? Then wouldn’t a Dream that emboldens you to the wrong ends, be equally foul?”

“Think, little one. Think this through. Would help from me, knowing it was given because you empowered me through the belief of others. Would that be Help you would truly want? Or would that make me just some genetic donor, who was seeking to enhance his overseas portfolio? If then I refused to help, would it mean that I was simply refusing or that I never saw you as an investment that might pay a dividend? Your question has painted me in to a pickle of situation, from which there is no way in which I can ever win.”

“Instead. Perhaps you should take a different path of thought. What if I have already helped you? What would you say to the certain knowledge that I have put all the tools you should ever need in place, well within your grasp? That I have done this, before you asked for help. Without any promise of payment what so ever.”

Once more there is a roll of the shoulders. Not so much a shrugging to suggest that I do not care for the topic, but to hint at the fact that this is not supposition. “Your life is your own. Your choices are your own. Fate has no hold upon my children, ‘cept that greatness follow them closely. When the time is nigh and the stakes are high, you will find what you seek, Daughter. This be no riddle to be figured out. I say it plainly. My help was given long before your birth. It lays in wait, in your world waiting to be taken. Some of it will find you, others will need to be found. Your Mother has been teaching you how to look for it your whole life. She has been preparing you, Cassandra. Guiding you, Shaping you. Molding you like Clay, in to the woman you are. You came here for answers, but in reality you already had them.”

“Most. Of them anyway,” lightly reaching out then to tap the Trident she holds, the touch gives it life and it begins to thrum in her hands. “You are not supposed to be here. But there is no punishment to be given. An Avatar must confer with their Patron, if they are to conduct the Trial as their Patron demands it. I told you, Cassandra, I chose you.”

“You must test him. You must judge him. In the end, you must choose whether Freddy Freeman is worthy of the Blessing that only you may bestow. Thus, it is not cheating for you to aide such a man in the Trials. For you are one of them. But you must remember, that he must pass a trial of your creation. He must prove himself worthy of the Blessing from the King of the Gods.”

Cassie: “Analyze twice, dig once. Sounds like Mom.”

Or more correctly, four times, get more sources, hunt down some locals, then measure twice and cut once. Not the locals, obviously. The site of whatever it was she was after. A passion that I now know isn’t purely an academic pursuit. Yes, it satisfies that itch but there’s more driving her than just simple discovery. As for my Mother thinking about the double meanings of everything he says to her, present tense, I want to seize on that and ask. The tiny part of me that feels so out of control of my own life shrieking over how unfair that is. And the talk of my dreams? I wouldn’t say Ares’ little love notes had been about scaring me away from doing something so much as trying to terrify me until I caved into doing what he wanted. Don’t get me wrong, what Zeus just said makes sense, but the application to my circumstances doesn’t entirely.

My lips purse and pull to the side and this time, it’s my turn to look amused at what he’s said. Right after looking a little chagrined about the ‘genetic donor’ portion, which tells me he does know my mind because that’s often how I thought of the other half of my biological makeup. Not a father. Just a necessary part of creation, whomever he’d been.

“It’d be more like two folks helping each other out, but your way does make you sound much more magnanimous and kindly.”

And if he really is all power, all knowing, it’s possible he did that. That he knew what I’d need, and arranged it all before I’d ever need it. Or he could be interjecting those things in the present. Who would ever actually know, besides him? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’m firming myself up to not dwell on that puzzle. Mom probably would. I’m just going to take him at the words that he says are exactly what he means. Especially because I’m very aware that he doesn’t actually have to tell me anything. It’s not like I’m in a position to compel the guy…God… Buying in to what he says isn’t really hard. Or a matter of buying in. I did know some of these things. Knowing and suspecting are different, but stories of Zeus’ children lingered through the ages. I’m already kicking at the edges of greatness. I don’t know if I could have helped it.

“Most of them?”

I don’t get to have an ‘aha!’ moment especially, because I’m distracted by the feel of the trident in my fingers, the other hand coming up to take hold of it as well like I’m concerned it’s going to wriggle its way out of my grasp, or I might drop it. The energy vibrates my palms, and fingertips. Like putting your hand on the casing of some giant turbine. Not so distracting as to keep me from hearing Zeus’ words, though. Blonde head rears back in surprise. When he said he Chose me, I didn’t think he’d meant for this. I had been thinking of it more along the lines of a representative in the world of…oh. Yeah. Nope. That makes, actually, perfect sense.

“I think I know a couple people that would probably agree I’m a bit of a Trial right now. Heh. I. I can do that.”

And now we’re back to heavy things. I’m a teenage girl, who barely has a handle on her own life and problems right now, I think most of the world might think was kind of a last resort sort of option for this sort of thing. I’ve also learned over the last few years, though, that my best and most important quality isn’t really the fact that I can bench a tank or fly, or put my teachers to shame in their own classrooms. It’s something else, that I think I’d probably have even if I didn’t have the muscle, the book smarts, or the looks from my Mother. Something special. And I think I already have seen hints of that in my new friend.

It takes guts, if nothing else, to do what he did earlier. Offering the trident back to Zeus, I actually smile at him, before letting my eyes wander over the scenery around me once again. Drinking it in because who knows when, if ever, I’ll be back here. I probably won’t get away with stumbling in half on accident, half on purpose again. And I don’t have to put deep thought into it to know that I’m not ready, or willing, to leave Earth right now, and leave behind the people I care about. Neither did he. I’d imagined I would come away from this like I had the talk with my Mother. More questions than answers, though I did get answers I needed. More frustrations to dig in. There’s a sort of sense of…ease… that probably is out of place with discussion that’s settled into my shoulders.

I’m not going to overthink that, either.

“Thank you. Really. Already having the answers or not, I feel a lot better about. Well. Everything. And I appreciate the explanations. I’ll get out of your hair now.”

Zeus: “Your Mother isn’t just an amazing Scientist, Cassandra. She is an amazing person. A wonder of a woman. That has raised one of her own.” Once she offers the Trident, Zeus simply touches it a second, before drawing back his hand. “What good would it do for me to tell you not to be too hard on her? You don’t need to hear that from your absentee Father and even if he said it what merit would it hold? So I won’t tell you to not be too hard on her. Instead I would tell you to look inward. Think about your situation. How hard is it to navigate this world you were thrust in to? Have you stumbled? Of course. But you’re doing the best you can, given the circumstances. You’re playing this game, without a handbook. No training. Blind, deaf, but thankfully never dumb. How much of that do you have to thank Helena for?” 

“You have your Mother for support. She had no one. Think about your life and what would you do, if you were alone with all of this?” 

With that Zeus rises from the Dais. His hand does not go to the Trident, but something begins to happen. The feeling of touching a live battery. That tingling sensation as the current surges through your topical flesh. The once lengthy, golden and ornate trident shifts. Losing it’s cohesion as it slowly becomes a single bolt of lightning. One that is not take away from her, but is left in her hands. 

“Your blessing, bestow it upon the Champion if you believe him worthy. Though his trials are broken, I caution you, Daughter. Be very mindful not to give your blessing unearned. Power unearned is often times abused. Even if you believe this boy to be different, your heart and your head should be of one mind on this Trial. You will knowwhen or if he is worthy.” 

“Most of them. You surprise me by not simply asking what Isis is up to or how to stop her. You didn’t ask me about the new dreams you’ve been having. Nor did you ask, even once, if you can contact me again.” Snorting softly, as he takes that first step to move around her. “I think I would be most insulted, if a child of mine wasn’t something of a Trial. Consider it this way. You’re the equivalent of a Godling Toddler. You only have one and three quarters more centuries before you’re out of your terrible twos.” 

Still chortling even as his hand lightly clasps her shoulder. The squeeze is gentle, supportive and safe. After all she’s a known hugger. “This discussion was long overdue. It is to my regret that I could not allow myself to initiate it sooner. You won’t be able to return the same again, but there are other means. Similar methods.A creative young woman such as yourself, can surely think her way back to Olympus if you put your mind to it.” 

“Cassandra. One final piece of advice. Other children were told stories of three pigs, wolves and riding hoods. You were told the sagas of the ages. Stories of Golden Bows, Fleece. Nemean Lions. Magical harps. My Aegis. The difference between the fairy tales other children were told and those you were given? Is that all of the ones Helena spoke of. Are true. They are the roadmap to all the help you might ever need. She even taught you how to seek them out.”

Cassie: I expect him to take the Trident away from me again, for him to instead switch courses and tell me, without telling me, not to be too hard on my Mother? Blue eyes narrow slightly, but it’s hardly a shocking thing to hear. He’s not even the first person to do it this month. I do have my mother for support. And while there was only so much support I could give her, I like to think that we were there for each other. I may be frustrated, but that’s a very normal sort of growing pains even when you’re not a demi-god. Hell, judging by the interactions I’ve seen between friends and their completely normal parents? Even when we’re fighting, we’re still on pretty good terms. And even if we’re not getting along as great as we once did, I can promise that if anyone messed with her? They’d get front row seats to seeing mild-mannered girl next door morph into raging Godpowered lioness. 

“I’d go crazy. But I’m not alone, and neither is she. Not anymore.” 

I felt something like this once before, a little bit of a science experiment though I forget where we were living at the time, where a bunch of other children and myself joined hands and made a circuit with the exposed battery of a men’s shaver. You could feel it go into your body, from one linked hand to the next, and the urge was there to drop hands and make it stop until you got used to it. That’s like this, and hang onto it, watching in wonder as the weapon shifts to a weapon of a different sort. 

“Like you said. Broken world. Broken trials. I’ll figure out how to make it work.” 

It’s a semi-flippant answer I suppose, but I do take it seriously. The charge, and what I’m being asked to do. I’m in love with a prime example of what power with no filter, and no effort to acquire can do to a person. I’ve also already met a few other examples of people who have power that I don’t agree with how they use it. It’s not something to let go into the world lightly, even for someone I like. I came up here in part to make sure I wouldn’t cheat Freddy of his experience, and his Trials. Being part of it now won’t change that. 

“Frankly? I didn’t think you’d really answer, or it’d fall under the ‘you have the answers already’ clause. Isis, what she’s up to, and what to do about it? That’s something that can be figured out. And. You already warned me about the dreams.” 

Biting the corner of my lip almost impishly, I turn to watch him move around me. One hundred and seventy-fve more years and I’ll still be a toddler? I wasn’t kidding about the eyeblink part. Waiting sixteen years for me to be allowed to have my powers by my Mother really was no hardship. 

“Um. Well. There’s a saying about easier to ask forgiveness than permission. So if I haven’t been told that I can’t…” 

Then I’m also not knowingly breaking the rules. I’ve had a lot of experience lately in things unsaid, or unasked, for someone else’s protection, or my own use. I could ask now about the things I hadn’t asked, but I realize now that I’m here…that I really wasn’t actually looking for someone to tell me what to do. It’s my world. I can figure out what to do with it, I think I’m actually supposed to. After a moment of hesitation, I bring a hand away from the lighting bolt to lay it on top of the one on my shoulder. The contact is… nice. A little weird how nice actually. 

“Will anyone else? I’ll make sure to seal the hatches back up if they could. Thank you. For the advice. I won’t forget.” 

I’m pretty sure no one would, it’s kind of been one of those ‘days you’ll always remember’ kind of deals. Honest to Goodness Olympus. And Zeus. My Father. I really won’t forget. And I’d like to think I won’t let him down, but more importantly, I’m not going to let myself down. 

“Goodbye, your…” 

Holiness? Godliness? Cripes, what do I even call him. Zeusness? So I settle for what I guess, coming from me, is going to be more respectful than the others, and certainly not something I thought I’d ever say. 


Zeus: “Oh. I would certainly have answered, but I would have thought less of you for needing a man, even a man such as me, to tell you what to do.” When his hand lifts from her shoulder, there is just enough hesitation that for a brief moment he is squeezing her hand. “Ahh, so you truly are my daughter, aren’t you? I find it always better to ask forgiveness, than permission.” 

Once the contact of hands is broken, there is a feeling left behind. Not unlike touching the lightning, Zeus’ touch leaves the skin tingling. “While it is not the case for all manner of transport to Olympus, the door you used this day? Will never open again. You road a conduit of my power here. It was that conduit that Black Adam sought when he damaged your Metropolis. At the time he was searching for a means to bring back his deceased wife. Though he failed to garner one of my Bolts at the time, the residual energy left was able to interact with our mutual bloodline. Your divinity springs from my own. It brought you to me. Now that it is used, it is gone.” 

“Or rather. As your scientists would say. Not necessarily gone, but it shall become something else.” 

“Cassandra, there is one last thing you should know before you are on your way. You didn’t ask, but you are entitled to know that I do know you. I have always been there. Look back upon your life. Think about your own trials, though not as formal Freddy Freeman’s, each time you have faced a point of change in your life. How often has the inexplicable happened? Think it through. Your rational mind will tell you that there is a logical explanation. One perhaps. Twice even is luck. How many times have the inexplicable happened, just at the right time. If you look closely, you will see it.” 

“Of course, your logical mind is also going to tell you the same as it did about what I told you about my gifts always having been there too. You can never really know if it’s true. If I was always there or if I am telling you something so ambiguous as to be unbelievable. The question you should ask yourself, is which would you rather believe.” 

One fingertip lightly touches upon the tip of his own nose. Then with a simple snap of the fingers, Cassie is gone. Back to the Alcove beneath the City of Metropolis. In the same place she was before. Her hand still within the crater caused by the lightning. Only now there is a real bit of lightning in her hand. A single bolt. Was she ever really -in- Mount Olympus? Was that bolt really the Trident or was it the electricity that she felt when she put her hand in to the hole in the wall? The answer is not so difficult to come by. As she will realize soon enough that she is still draped in adornments of the Gods. Still clothed in silks, dripping in gold and decidedly lacking in concealing hoodie.

Cassie: I can’t really say this went incredibly better than expected. It’s hard to measure something you were trying to expect nothing from. Something you haven’t spent any amount of time building up thoughts of, because at first you weren’t interested, and then you weren’t sure if it would even be hostile. It could have gone one of a few ways, I suppose. Cool, distant, and GTFO. A warm welcome, worthy of some long lost Disney Princess. Or something in between. I’d say this actually ended up closer to option two, and that’s…pleasing. I wasn’t looking for justification. Or praise. 

I feel like I’m coming away with it regardless. And a feeling that he did actually care. Eyeblink or not. He’s just Zeus. And a mind reader. 

“I’m more of a bright side kind of girl, generally speaking.” 

And that means benefit of the doubt for my ‘long lost’ Father figure. Which is actually the opposite of how I would probably have guessed I came out of meeting him feeling. A literal snap of the fingers and…I’m in what might be the most depressing place I’ve ever seen. It was empty and gloomy before. Coming out of Olympus to a world of concrete just makes it feel like color’s been sucked out of my life. True to his word the conduit is gone, instead I’m left holding the bolt, the feel of the hand on my shoulder still there. Like the thrum in my hands. it takes a minute before I look past the ‘souvenir,’ to realize what I’m still wearing. And not wearing. 

“…that was my favorite sweatshirt…”