Many humans didn't believe in the gods. She couldn't blame them. She hadn't believed in them either – until she met one.
That experience changed her. It challenged the empty lifeless universe of her engineer worldview. Suddenly her world expanded to include beings vastly more powerful than humans. Okay, so they didn't create the universe and they didn't know everything, but it was easy to see how the ancient Greeks had thought of them as gods.
Meeting one changed other things as well. It got her pregnant. Well actually, it got her avatar pregnant. She was pregnant when she logged into the UNET, but non-pregnant in the real world. (Pregnant by the digital incarnation of Asklepios, Homer's “Blameless Physician” in cyberspace.)
Asklepios, however, hadn't incarnated in the PanGames quantum computer to sire a child. He'd been placed there by Zeus, who chose the son of Apollo to be his first champion fighting for the self-determination of Earth's humans. His opponent in this fight turned out to be Am-heh, the hound-headed Devourer of Millions, representing the Children of Nuit (rhymes with sweet) – the alien superbeings thought to be gods by the Egyptians.
Asklepios defeated Am-heh thanks to the help of Darla Kaplan, but he departed leaving her avatar carrying his child. Do you know how difficult it is to find costumes for a pregnant superhero? It's not really something the game designers had included in the avatar creation and editing menus.
What worried Darla was the thought of what would happen when it came time give birth. Would she actually deliver a new virtual person – made of living software – into the virtual world? Or was her new look just something to console her over losing Asklepios? Would her avatar simply snap back to its “normal” configuration?
Then one night while logged in she felt the first kick. There was definitely someone in there. Would it be another doomed demigod, outgrowing the memory capacity of its online Realm? Would it be conflicted, a child of Asklepios, the healer, and Darla, the dual-wielding fighter dedicated to causing, not curing, damage?
The question she should have been asking herself was: is the war over?
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