One Way Or Another
Ares sat back in his throne and took a moment to think back on the last few months. He began to giggle. The giggle turned into a chuckle, which soon proceded to become a guffaw, and finally ended up a full blown belly laugh. All signs were pointing to the same inevitable conclusion.
The Balkan states were going to join together to form a Southern Slavic state.
It was a disaster waiting to happen, and Ares couldn't wait to see the sparks fly.
He'd needed the laugh. Over the last few years, affairs had become quite hectic. Ever since the assassination of that silly Archduke, he'd spent all his time watching over these mortals and this war that far outdid any he'd ever seen.
And what he thought was most ironic was that he hadn't had to lift a finger. They'd done it all themselves.
Things had slowed down for Ares, allowing him more and more time for contemplation. He'd left some of the other Gods and demi-Gods to watch over the Western Front, while he'd stayed close to home. Now that Russia had pulled out due toa revolutionary movement, he only had to keep up to date on the West through frequent meetings with his nephew.
He had some time before he had to meet with the younger God, so he sat back and remembered one of his favourite battles. The French had tried to take Vimy ridge early on in the war but had failed. However, just months ago the Canadians had stormed in and taken it back for the West. Man, could those Canadians fight. Better yet, they could celebrate just as well, jumping around like jackrabbits in their excitement.
Ares sighed as he felt the arrival of his nephew. "Hello, Strife."
"Hiya, Unk. You're not getting too bored, now are ya?"
"I'm just taking a well deserved break. How'd the Marne go?"
"They kept the Germans back again, just as you said. It's the second time those guys try for the river, but they just won't give up. It was soooo awesome, Unk!"
As Strife recounted the details, Ares allowed his mind to wander over the few prayers he still received. In over two thousand years, he'd lost so many worshippers. However, he'd managed to keep some who were either considered pagans or simply wished to cover all their bases when it came to almighty protection. One voice called to him, younger and stronger than the rest.
"Ares, help me, please!"
It was a small child. Apparently the boy must not yet have been taught that the Gods and Goddesses didn't exist. He set the prayer aside for further consideration after his meeting with Strife. He never knew when having an extra worshipper could come in handy.
Strife eventually finished his tale and Ares debriefed him on what battles he should oversee. Ares let out a sigh and relaxed when the God returned to the front.
His mind began to wander and came upon the boy's prayer. I've got some time to kill, he thought. Might as well find out who this kid is.
He traced the prayer and followed it to its source. Pushing out his senses, he was surprised to find he was in Russia. Ekaterinberg to be precise.
At first all he could see were a number of soldiers rushing about the small room he found himself standing in. They had gathered at one end and seemed to be pulling at something. He could see an arm here, a leg there, and several more body parts sticking out of the melee. The soldiers were pulling at a number of dead bodies to drag them out of the room. Looking above the pile on the floor, Ares could see a number of bullet holes in the wall. A number of people had been executed here, and it had happened within the last hour.
Ares followed the soldiers as they dragged the bodies outside and laid them side by side on the ground. There were two adults that had been brought out first, and five children that were laid beside them. Curious, Ares approached the adult male and laid a hand on his forehead. He knew this was Nicholas II, the now late Tsar of Russia, and the rest must have been his family.
But this couldn't be!
Ares took a closer look at him and the woman at his side. He could feel the remnants of their spirits, an imprint that remained after they'd left for the next plane of existence. These two had once, a very long time ago, been people he'd known when he'd been properly worshipped by mortals.
Autolycus and Gabrielle.
He passed over the four girls and realized he recognized their spirits as well. Iolaus, Hercules, Xena, and Iphicles.
Finally, he rested next to the body of the young boy who'd called to him. The child's dead hand still held fast to a small book. Peering at the cover, Ares saw it was a book written in German on Greek mythology. A small smile crept onto his face when he realized who this had been. Joxer.
He stood up and gazed at the seven bodies. They'd been such close friends in their past lives, perhaps it was only right that they'd been reborn as a family. It was too bad he hadn't found them sooner. He could have really amused himself.
He looked up as a soldier approached the bodies with a strange can and proceded to pour the contents over the last of the royal family. Once the can was empty, he took out a box of matches and struck one, looking over the bodies with a pyromaniacal gleam in his eyes. Before he could throw the match onto the corpses, another soldier came up and blew out the match. Apparently, plans had changed and the bodies were to be buried, not burnt.
Ares grinned one more time before he left for his temple on Olympus. He found them once, and he'd find them again. Hopefully, next time he'd find them while he could still have some fun with them. As long as in some way Joxer kept worshipping him, finding the group wouldn't be too difficult. He could always rely on the fool to lead him to them.
He left Ekaterinberg, noting that he'd have to keep an eye on this part of the world. With last year's revolution at the front of everyone's minds, this execution was bound to have some interesting repercussions.
Notes: This story takes place during WWI. The Battle of the Marne took place on July 15, 1918. The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place at the end of 1917. Two Russian Revolutions took place in 1917 (March and October). The first serious talks of Yugoslav unification took place in late 1917, and the state of Yugoslavia was actually created in December 1918 (and I don't think I need to tell you what's happened with that recently). The last of the Romanov family were executed in Ekaterinberg on July 16, 1918. They comprised Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and their son Alexis.