A small mountain stood a short hike away, right outside the forest.
Amena and her entourage ascended the smooth walkway that spiraled up the rock toward the summit. She wondered why she needed ten people escorting her, but she hated to begrudge anyone their curiosity. After all, if she were in their place, she’d want to know what was up with her, too.
Thankfully, no one had the nerve to seize her weapons. Probably afraid to do so without permission from these “gods,” whoever or whatever they were.
She couldn’t wait to find out, nor could her associates chatting in her ear, so she hushed them.
“What was that?” one guy asked her.
“Don’t talk to her!” another snapped.
They finished the trip in silence.
The summit was unnaturally flat, and large enough to host a party. Three marble pillars anchored the center, and a golden throne fronted each one. Completing the scene was a stone altar situated near the edge, where the visitors arrived from the walkway.
Amena received a glare from the surliest of her escorts. “Why are you grinning like a fool?” he said in a hushed but harsh tone. “This is sacred ground. Show some respect.”
One of the natives approached the altar, placed his hands upon the surface, closed his eyes, and prayed. “Oh, great Jupiter, Juno, and Ceres—god and goddesses of men. How you thunder from above, with nary a cloud in sight. Your humble servants plead for your presence, so that you might bestow upon us your infinite wisdom.”
He stepped around to the front to kneel and bow. The rest of the group followed. They formed a line facing the throne area, but they maintained a respectable distance.
Amena didn’t join them, and the surly one noticed. “On your knees. Quickly.”
“No thank you,” Amena said. She received a few gasps in reply.
Her grin never faded. Alien gods. This should be good…
She had no idea what to expect, but she truly hoped it would be something supernatural, something no one from her world had ever seen. She couldn’t wait.
Then she waited. And waited.
“How long does this—”
She waited some more, until minutes later…
Lightning shot down from the clear sky, striking the pillars. As the smoke cleared, she found one man and two women seated in the thrones. Their pillars displayed their respective names in blazing letters.
They all looked completely human—and not nearly as beautiful or athletic as you’d expect gods to look. No, they were just so very average. Except that they sparkled and wore immaculate white togas.
Amena laughed. Togas? Really? Togas in space? Well, not technically in space…
The kneeling folk shuddered while the “gods” scowled at her from beneath their silly matching headbands. Amena wasn’t sure what those things were; therefore, they intrigued her. The material didn’t look like fabric. Plastic? Metal? Something else?
One of the ladies—Juno, according to the flaming letters—said from her throne, oh-so-seriously, “Who has dared to summon us?”
From his knees, one of her subjects answered, “We of Yorkshire have summoned you, my lords, seeking your great wisdom. One of our children found this stranger from another town lurking in our forest. We know you forbid such behavior. What would you have us do with her?”
The portly fellow claiming to be Jupiter stared at Amena and said, “Insolent one, why do you not kneel?”
“Lots of reasons, tons of reasons—oodles, even. Including the sparkly togas,” she said, trying not to laugh.
A kneeling man spoke quickly. “We fear her mind is addled somehow. She knows not what she says.”
The other goddess, “Ceres,” smiled at her subjects. “Before we delve deeper into this unseemly matter, tell us, is everyone enjoying their bountiful food and shelter?”
“Yes, my lords,” a kneeler said, bowing respectfully. “We humbly thank you for blessing us with such great abundance.”
Ceres turned her smug gaze upon Amena. “You are most welcome. We desire only the best for mankind.”
“But do you?” Amena asked, pointing to the kneelers.
“Do you really wish to continue down this blasphemous path?” Jupiter said, with a bit of bark in his tone.
Amena whipped out one of her special arrows this time—a grenade arrow—and shot it an inch above his head. The arrowhead exploded as it struck the pillar. Just a tiny explosion, but it should’ve at least scratched the marble, maybe even scuffed it.
Nothing was damaged, however. Not a single hair was singed. A force field of some kind? That could account for the sparkling.
But that didn’t matter. She observed the man and got the info she needed.
Jupiter huffed and puffed, and proclaimed, “We are gods, mortal woman.”
“Gods don’t flinch,” Amena said. “Or breathe heavily, I’d imagine.”
The pillars crackled with electricity, and the sky grew darker. The special effects proved impressive indeed. The natives cowered appropriately.
Ceres said, “If you would like to repent, we will grant you the opportunity.”
Juno said, imperiously, “What do you have to say for yourself now?”
“Three words, just three,” Amena said. “Up, up, and away.”
With that, she faded from solid, to transparent, to invisible, and she was gone.
That’s not how it looked from Amena’s point of view, of course.
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