The lights in the living room blinked for a split second and in the chair across from him, where Jack had been a second before, Alex now saw a very tall man in a dark-red robe. The next thing Alex noticed after his enormous height were the brilliant blue eyes. Then he observed thick, black hair that hung to his shoulders on each side of a serene face, which bore a pleasant smile
“Hello, Mr. Clark,” the man said, his voice deep and resonate. “I am Apollo of Helios. I speak to you today through the Gardener whom you know as Jack Goodman. While I am speaking in my own language, and you will speak in your language, the Gardener will interpret our words so that we can communicate perfectly.”
“I understand,” Alex said.
“I realize, Mr. Clark, you have found yourself in a very strange situation, a situation that you probably would prefer to have avoided.”
“Yes,” Alex said.
“Yet, from this strange situation, you have the opportunity to bring enormous good to your planet and its inhabitants,” Apollo said.
“Or enormous evil if we fail,” Alex said.
“Even if we succeed, Mr. Clark, the evil will find a way. It always does.”
“Do you mean your brother?”
“No,” Apollo said. “Ares is not evil. We both love the Garden, but we have different views as to how to make it prosper. Ares believes that most of Eden’s finest achievements have been the result of wars, while I, on the other hand, believe that most of your greatest achievements have been the result of peace.”
“And some of our greatest achievements have been the result of your meddling,” Alex said.
“Whether our ‘meddling’ has been good or bad for Eden is impossible to know. We don’t know what it would have been like without us. We didn’t create war or science on Eden; those things were already present when our father purchased the Garden.”
“But your games have certainly affected us,” Alex said. “How much of our history is really ours, and how much is just part of some game?”
“It’s true that our contests have sometimes affected events on your planet, but the effect is probably much less than you imagine, Mr. Clark,” Apollo said. “I think you will find, however, that most of the effects have been beneficial to your planet.”
“Democracy, for one thing,” Apollo said. “Mathematics, for another. We also gave inspiration to great artists, like Da Vinci and Matisse. It might surprise you to realize how familiar I am with your artists. It’s because they have pure creativity, whereas, here on Uor, it’s the same thing over and over.”
“Interesting,” Alex allowed.
“From us,” Apollo continued, “your people also learned many types of sports and entertainment. The game you call soccer, for example, and golf and theater and Santa Claus. Those things came from us.”
“And you also inspired wars and destruction,” Alex said.
“Inspired?” Apollo questioned. “I don’t think so. I believe your wars have been your own creation. Maybe Ares and I wagered on the outcome, and perhaps we advised the belligerents, but the wars themselves were inevitable, because your people are at a warlike phase in their development.”
“Are we better off because of you?”
“You exist because of us,” Apollo said. “My ancestors sent forth from Uor the seeds of your population. The creatures that lived on your planet would not yet have discovered fire had we left them alone. We are your mother planet.”
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