AresJoxerCupidStrife - StarSteel


Prologue
To Open A Bottle
Desperate Measures
To Be Strong Again
Michael
A Meeting With Command
Deep Space Nine
Q'apla Rotarran
Conversations About Divinity
Great Grandmother
Hermes
The Many Battles of Betazed
The Battle For Breathing Room
Marching To Battle
Battle Won
Battle Against The Council
Mirror Image
Scorched Earth
White Clad Ares
In The Forge
Helena
Section 31
Mars and Michellis
Children in the War
Transformation
Another Meeting With A Different Command
The First New World
En Route
The Assault
The Conversion
Scientific Explanations
Answers
Voices From the Past
Aye Lad, I Knew Your Brother
The Best, The Only Ship
You Have Problems, You Just Don't Know It
It's About Family
We Couldn't, They Can
You Are The One I Didn't Want To Meet
The Ceremony
We're Family
What Happened There and Then
There Is A New Girl In Town
Deciphering Ancient Tongues
A Mission For The Dissatisfied
Stranger In The Temple
My Brother, Still The Same
This Is Where I Show You You're Wrong
A Long Overdue Talk
Meeting The Rest Of The Family
What Have I Done
The Leader
Admiral Khiel
Reactions On The Romulan Side
Reports, Requests, And Refits
To Boldly Strike Where No One Thought Before
Off We Go To Battle
The Theft Of the Millenium
The Last Voice Of The Past
Another Weave In The Pattern
Light In The Sky
A Mirror
Again With Admiralty
World of Darkness
Red and Black
Combat
Turning
A Little Fall Of Rain
Time of Woe
Shock
Grief
Recovering Lost Ground
San Francisco
Shipyard Autolycus
The Delving
The Beginning Of The End
Walking The Edge
One Is A God, The Other Is Not
The Puppet Master
The Reckoning
Part I
Part II
Alternate Ending
Epilogue I
Epilogue II

How did this story began:

After the Xena episode 'Amphipolis Under Siege' I was on another list, saying how Xena's attitude had been very unethical toward Ares in that episode. One of those listsibs called me an 'Ares worshipper', I think he intended it as an insult, but I can't remember.

That phrase is what brought a group. KSA. Kevin Smith Ares.

About the same time, my cable company began airing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for the first time, two episodes every day. I remember seeing the episode 'Statistical Probabilities', and asking myself at the end of it 'how the hell is the Federation going to win this war?' At the end of the series, that question still troubled me, how in two short years, they turned losing badly to winning.

That began this thing.

I want to thank JaimeBlue and Tacitah for the coaching they gave me for the year and more I've been writing this. Thanks also to Gisela Vazquez for the beta.

Standard Disclaimer:
The concept of Star Trek belong to Paramount Pictures and Majel Roddenberry.
Ares belongs to Greek Mythology, but this concept of Ares belongs to Renaissance Pictures and is majestly portrayed by Kevin Smith.
Feedback: Please, oh please.
Archive: Yes to KSA Archive, yes to AJCS. Anyone else, please just let me know where my baby is going.
Rating: PG-13 Pairings: Sorry, no grafic sex, only suggested.

This takes place a little before the ST:DS9 Episode 'A Time to Stand'

The Last Olympic
Prologue

"Acting Captain, Chief Engineer Dylan Maxtor Log, stardate 51087.4 U.S.S. Paladin.

"I have the sad duty of commanding this fine starship to be decommissioned. After 2 months, I really don't know how can we stop the Dominion from taking over the quadrant. Quite frankly, I was more sure of our survival before our captain, our first officer, our second officer and our security chief died.

"I just hope we can keep the night at bay."

"That is a little pessimistic, isn't it sir?" asks Commander Andoni.

"Maybe Simon, maybe." Answers the captain. "But can you honestly say that we've recuperated after our conflict with the Klingons?"

"No sir, I can't"

"You've been a wonderful first officer, Mr. Andoni." Praises Dylan. "I can say you're more capable of doing this captain gig than I am."

"You brought us home sir," says Simon with emotion Simon. "After our third encounter with the Jem'Hadar, I wasn't sure we'd make it."

"Have you received your orders yet?" asks Maxtor.

"Only that I'm to present myself in Admiral Jellico's office as soon as we dock."

"Your former commander, eh? I'm sure you'll do fine."

"I hope so, sir, I really hope so."

---

"This is only the beginning." Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

Chapter I
To open a bottle.

Lieutenant Commander Simon Andoni paced in front of the Admiral's office. He looked up and read the words next to the door one more time: Admiral Jellico. His first captain, he had served under him on the U.S.S. Cairo. It had been years since he'd seen the man and now his fate lay in the hands of that same man.

He was between posts and was waiting to be called into the office and told where he was needed. He winced as he remembered his last ship, the Paladin. So many good officers had died on that ship at the hands of the Dominion. He'd been forced into the role of Acting First Officer when the two highest ranking members of the crew had perished as so many others had.

It seemed to be the pattern in his life, that he was to take the places of so many others when their times came. The Captain and First Officer of the ship had also been killed in the first attack of the Jem'Hadar on the Federation, and he'd temporarily become both Chief of Security and assistant to the head of Engineering. He suspected his adaptability was one of the many factors that led to his quick rise to Commander in Starfleet. He just wished it had not come at the expense of so many lives.

He looked up as a voice spoke to him over the speakers. "Admiral Jellico will see you now." He took a deep breath and entered the Admiral's office.

The Admiral had not looked up when he entered, but was still reading something on his desktop viewscreen. Andoni stopped in front of the desk and came to attention.

"At ease Commander." Jellico finally looked up from his screen. "Have a seat." He reached forward to shut off the computer. "How have you been, Simon."

"I've been all right, Sir. Considering..."

Jellico nodded in understanding. "This war has been hard on all of us. We've all lost so many: friends, family, shipmates. If we are to finish this war on the winning side, we need good commanders on our ships at the front." Andoni simply nodded his agreement. "You've proven your abilities, Simon. I won't deny that I feel a little pride in that. That's why it is my honor and privilege to tell you that you have been given the rank of Captain, and effective immediately you're taking command of an Ambassador class ship that is currently under heavy refit at spacedock. Admiral Castillo has asked that you be sent over immediately to help with the refit."

Andoni was in shock. He couldn't believe it -- his own ship. He'd dreamed of being a Captain since before his first day at the Academy, yet he'd never imagined it happening so soon. He was about to voice his thoughts when Jellico was paged by his secretary.

"Admiral, there is an urgent message for you from Admiral Nechayev."

"Patch it through."

Within moments, the Admiral's face appeared on the small monitor.

"Admiral, what is it?"

"Edward, the 7th Fleet has just been decimated. Only 14 ships survived."

"14 ships! But there were over a hundred of them!"(*)

"I know. And it gets worse."

"How could it get any worse?"

"The Dominion has Betazed."(**)

Jellico sat back in his seat, rendered speechless by the news.

"I'm sorry, but I'm needed to help sort through this mess. We're going to need all our skills to get out of this one. Nechayev out."

Jellico and Andoni exchanged a glance. The pain was evident in both their eyes. All those people. And more coming, now that Betazed was just another Dominion concentration camp.

"Is that all, Admiral?" Asks Simon. "I think I'm needed aboard my ship."

Jellico nods and Andoni rises from his seat, heading for the door when the Admiral interrupts his departure, "Oh, and Simon..." Andoni stops before he reaches the door and turns to his former commanding officer. "Congratulations. I'm certain you'll be an asset to the fleet."

"Thank you sir," answers Starfleet's newest captain with a heavy heart, his tone flat from the shock. "What is the name of my ship."

"Oh, it's the U.S.S. Ares."

* * *

Simon entered his quarters, 'My ship!' he thinks. 'Is the name really a sign? Must be... this is IT.' Walking to the communication unit, he opened a channel to his cousin, Helena Dubois, at the family manor in Macedonia.

"Simon!" she exclaims excitedly. "I haven't heard from you in quite a while; Is that four pips in your collar? You're a captain now?"

"Yes, yes and yes I am, cousin." He responds with a smile, Helena is still the same babbling girl he remembered. "But this is not a particularly happy occasion. This is the moment to open the wine bottle that came with the house, we have 4 months before leave for the front and if we don't open it now, there is a good chance that it will remain unopened forever."

Helena hesitated for a moment, she had really never believed this moment would arrive. "Are you... sure?" she asks, "We all agreed to leave the bottle closed until it is really needed."

"If there is a time when it will ever really be needed it's now, Helena." He told her. "I have to go to work, and you know that I'm not kidding. Good bye, cousin." Then he closes the communication channel and reports for duty, the U.S.S. Ares needs a lot of work.

(*) From ST:DS9 episode 'A Time To Stand'
(**) I know that Betazed didn't fall until the ST:DS9 episode 'In The Pale Moonlight' I apologize for the mix up, but I hadn't seen that episode until after I wrote this chapter.

Chapter II
Desperate measures

At the manor, Helena begins calling all the family members that she has on the planet, close family, only those who know the secret under the house. When her great-great-grandfather bought the place, about 200 years ago, it was in the belief that here it was located _his_ tomb, and it was their duty to make sure that _he_ never got out of there.

The 3 friends that had been with him were sure that this was the right place. They all had family histories together, according to legend, the four friends were descendants from almost mythical figures from a long time ago... Xena Warrior Princess, Gabrielle Amazon Queen, Iolaus Golden Hunter and Joxer the Mighty.

Helena remembered the legends, the 4 families had agreed long ago, that only in case of the greatest of emergencies would they consider letting the god out. That moment had almost come about 108 years ago, when the Federation had been close to war with the Klingon Empire, but thankfully, the Organians had intervened (*).

Then there was the encounter of the Enterprise NCC1701 with Apollo (**). Helena's Grandfather had laughed at the ridiculous conclusions that the officers of Starfleet had jumped to when he read the log entries.

There had been no other emergency that required even consideration of opening the tomb, until 9 years ago, when the Borg cube had wiped out 40 ships on Wolf 359, the problem was, that no one on Earth was informed of the impending doom. Capt. Picard pulled the rabbit out of his hat and bested the Borg right out of Earth's orbit.(***)

"It's different now," she says to all those she contacts. "According to Simon, the Dominion has come to the Alpha quadrant, and they are not going to leave, until they take control of all the powers in the quadrant, Federation, Klingons, Romulans, even Ferengi, and they already have control of the Cardassians."

Along with her best friend, Antonia, they make plans to pull Ares out of his grave. Over the next weeks they build a temple, all according to the descriptions of the remaining scrolls; replicating all the elements (swords, axes, pikes, knives...) everything but the throne, that was not replicated, but constructed, they really didn't want to offend the God of War.

After the temple was finished, Helena, Fritz Woitor (descendent of Iolaus), Johan Tomlinson (descendant of Joxer) and Antonia Kruoff (descendant of Gabrielle) descended to the entrance of the grave. They managed to collect a small fortune in dilithium crystals and an invaluable sculpture by Rena Taylor Gustafson(****), to serve as a sacrifice to the god that they were about to awaken.

When they finally open it, the coffin easily slid open and someone comes out, but is not what they were expecting. The figure is an old... ancient, weak man, dressed in black leathers, that are far too big for him.

"Is that you Celesta?" The old one asks, his voice quavering a lot. "Have you finally come to take me away?"

"If this is who we hoped was going to save Earth," says Fritz, "we're fucked good."

(*) From ST episode 'Errand of Mercy'
(**) From ST episode 'Who mourns of Adonis'
(***) From ST:TNG episode 'The Best of Both Worlds, Part II
(****) From the ST:TNG FanFic 'A la Q' c. 1993 by Julia Kosatka and Kellie Matthews-Simmons. Highly recommended. Available at:
www.trekiverse.org/startrek/startrek/story/tng/AlaQ

Chapter III
To be strong again

Helena shuts him up with a solid punch in the jaw, and turned to Ares "Great Olympian," she said "Will sacrifices and prayers restore you to health?"

"I don't know." Ares replies in a weak voice, "who are you? who are all of you?

Helena just places the intended sacrifices on the floor, goes to her knees and recited a prayer, asking Ares to accept this humble sacrifice, that they all make for him to grow strong, and vaporized the dilithium and the sculpture with a phaser.

After the sacrifice, Helena notices that Ares looks somewhat different, his face is still withered, but he's standing straighter, and seems to have filled out a little. "I am Helena Dubois," she introduces herself, "descendant of Xena, and my companions here are descendants of her legendary ancestor friends. We brought you back because of who you are, because you once were Ares God of War, protector and defender of Greece, now you'll have to do the same job, but throughout all the Alpha Quadrant."

"Alpha Quadrant?" Ares questions, his voice was very different from what it had been just a few moments ago. Stronger, more commanding, just like him. "What in Tartarus is that?"

With help from Johan and Antonia, Helena calmly explains of the Federation/Dominion war. She takes the time to describe in great detail how the founders consider themselves gods. How their troops, the Jem'Hadar would gladly die on their orders. The small group also tells the Olympian just how badly the Federation is loosing this war.

"I am too weak," Ares claims after listening to them. "I survived entombed for 2,000 years, but there was conflict on the planet, I could draw energy from it. These last 300 years, there hasn't been much violence to feed me. I'm dying. And to grow strong, I'll need something very special. I'm not even sure I want to go on living anyway."

Helena then whispers something to Antonia and Johan, they both nod and the 3 of them go to their knees. Helena, being the leader says "We, the families of Ares' old enemies are surrendering to your will, we will serve you, and only you, for as long as you require it from us."

"I hope you know what you're doing, Hel," Fritz is the first to end the silence after the offer "'Cause I'm out of here." With that, he turns heel and leaves the tomb.

"Good riddance." Says Johan. "We don't need him anyway."

Then they each cut the palms of their hands, allowing a few drops of their blood to mingle in a bowl and offer it to Ares. After he drinks it, the transformation is immediate, he morphs from an old man to an athletic middle aged man. And while not the same as described in the scrolls, it's a huge improvement over what they had seen just a few minutes ago.

"Come on, my god." Helena says holding out a hand for the black clad god. "We'll take you to your temple." Once there, they begin the prayers, opening channels to the rest of their families that are both on and off world. They did this so that Ares would always have prayers being directed at him to keep him strong.

That night, Ares raised from his throne, extending a hand to Helena, who takes it. He leads her to his bedroom. "Do you know what the position of priestess entitles?" He asks with a smile.

"Err, yes I know." She answered stammering "But I'm not sure... I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not a virgin, it's just that, I met you just a few hours ago."

"Leave if you want." Says the Olympian. "I've never, ever, taken an unwilling partner. Go!"

"Could we, can I, stay?" Helena asks hesitating. "I just wanted you to, err, take it slow."

"Don't worry about that." He grins at her. "I assure you, you're in for the time of your life."

Chapter IV
Michael

Three months after his awakening, Ares was feeling good. His strength was almost what it had been when he had been one of the twelve but the need to know what had happened to his family was overwhelming him. He knew of only person who could answer his questions.

According to the Enterprise logs, Apollo claimed to have left Earth 5,000 years ago. That was ridiculous, Apollo was good with music, but not math. He also claimed that the Gods had left the planet on their own volition, his brother's ego wouldn't let him admit that they had been driven out. Ares had felt it even in his grave.

And if they WERE driven out, there is one being that can answer what really had happened. Ares knows him, they aren't particularly good friends, but the God needs that information.

Leaving the safety of his temple for the first time, and transporting himself to Paris, he remains invisible to mortal eyes, he goes the fountain of the Archangel Michael. He pulls out his sword and screams the winged being's name in the tone of voice that can only be heard by immortals.

Michael popped in, smiling at Ares but with his eyes a little wild, "Ares, well, I knew I'd see you again. It's been a long time."

The God sends his sword away and laughs "It has. So, you knew we'd meet again?" He asks. "That's good, because I have need of some information that you _will_ provide. We may however do this in a civilized manner."

"Fine by me," says the archangel. "Let's only change clothes though." A light envelopes them, and when they turn visible, Michael had lost his wings, and Ares isn't dressed all in black leather. They sit at a cafe, and talked.

Ares starts the conversation, "What really happened with the Olympians?"

"The old gods were indeed driven away," Michael responded. "When the mortals stopped believing in them. Your lockup was the key to their exile. You see, a few months after Xena trapped you, the roman legions swarmed all over Greece, setting the scene for the exile of the Greek gods."

The next question that came from Ares' mouth is angered "WHY? Why did you exile them? Your religion dedicated to light and 'love' destroyed all the knowledge that we had accumulated, and plunged the world into a thousand years of darkness."(*)

Michael's answer is calm in contrast to Ares' outburst. "It wasn't the god of light who plunged the world in darkness. The gods were there to help mankind out of his infancy. When mortals reached certain stage in development, the gods would pull them back.

"What was done to you, was done to protect the free will of humans. Mankind did all that harm to themselves, the God of light had nothing to do with it."

Ares and Michael keep arguing, the God saying that with the gods around, the mortals would be thousands of years ahead in technology, Michael responding that if Apollo's encounter with the Enterprise was any indication, the gods wouldn't let mankind advance. Ares counters that not all the gods had been like that, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes and himself had been pressing forces for change and advancement. Michael's answer to everything is that the time for the gods had passed, and mankind needed to exercise their free will, and the conversation ended.

Before he departs, Michael turns to Ares and tells him "There is a good reason for you to be the final Olympian alive; the God of light doesn't play with dices.(**) You must fulfill your destiny, for while mortals have free will, immortals, such as us, have a fate that must be accomplished. You and me, we're the same."

Before Ares could respond, Michael disappears and the GOW transports himself back to his temple.

(*) Ares is referring to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria and the recollection of all knowledge on monasteries in the Middle Ages.
(**) Copyright Albert Einstein

Chapter V
A meeting with Command

A week before the refitting of the USS Ares is complete, Captain Andoni visits again the office of Admiral Jellico, to receive his final orders, but he has a plan of his own. When he enters the office, and after the normal pleasantries, Jellico gave him final instructions. "You'll go directly to Deep Space Nine. We were fortunate enough to retake it from the Dominion/Cardassian alliance a few weeks ago."(*)

It is at that moment, that Andoni decides to tell the Admiral. "Sir, I have to... reveal many things, in my family, we have a manor in Macedonia, under it, there is an ancient grave, the tomb of Ares, the Greek God of War. "He was trapped in there over 2,000 years ago by an ancestor of mine."

"Simon?" asks the Admiral. "Are you all right?"

"Yes sir," He answers. "We've known each other for quite a while, and I think you know me well enough to realize I wouldn't be joking about this, will you please let me finish?" After a second Jellico nods and Simon continues. "My family and I know for a fact that the conclusion reached by Capt. Kirk on Stardate 3468.1 was wrong. The Greek gods weren't aliens. They were or rather, are beings from Earth, who were driven from it when humanity stopped believing in them.

"That is, all but one, Ares, the War God. Sir, I've looked at the war projections, and I believe, HE is the key to defeating the Dominion. Admiral, if the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar think that the Founders are gods, and therefore invincible, only by facing them with a real god, will they know fear."

"I am very skeptical to say the least captain," says Jellico. "but as always, my skepticism is based in scientific curiosity, can you show me this 'super-being' of yours?"

Simon smiles and says "He's here already, he has been since I entered the office."

Ares then shows himself, in his normal shower-of-sparks way. Jellico is about to hit the alarm button, but the God stops him, saying "You wanted to meet me, it would be rude to have security on this meeting."

Jellico chuckles, but says "I'm still going to have to call security, for policy reasons if nothing else."

"Very well," Ares agrees, "but may I suggest that the ones that come are only ones who can keep their mouths shut? Otherwise, my presence would be known before you can sneeze, and while that would be fine by me, but what about Starfleet Command?"

The admiral calls for 4 senior security officers well known for their discretion, and also calls for an expert doctor in xeno-biology, armed with his medical tricorder to examine this so-called god.

When all arrive, Ares allows himself to be analyzed with care, but Dr. Korian has no explanation. She says "This is extraordinary, I'm unable to come up with a proper explanation of what Ares 'is'. There are some coincidences with the being that was encountered on Pollux 4, but the comparisons between them come as negative."

"I am also interested in knowing what happened on this planet, Pollux 4?" Ares says. "But right now, I think I'd better show you what I can do." He then shows them a few tricks, like being undetectable to all tricorders, nullifying the phasers of the security officers, and transporting all of them, office included, to a part of his temple, in Macedonia.

When the show ends, Jellico then interrogates him. "What do you plan to do to help us win this war?"

"Well, even with my powers getting to the levels that I had 2500 years ago, it might not be enough for this conflict. I'll need more followers, I want transport on board my namesake ship to DS9, where I think I'll get the support I need, mainly from the klingons. As a token of good faith, I will take the USS Ares all the way to the space station in the blink of an eye."

"Can you really do that?" asks Jellico still with skepticism. When the God nods, he adds. "Well, I give my permission, as long as Capt. Andoni vouches for you, but remember this, like James Kirk said, a scientific civilization, like the Federation, doesn't bow to a creature with a bag of tricks."

Ares just laughs, and takes his leave saying "I hope I'm the kind of creature who has enough tricks to beat the enemy on this war."

Chapter VI
Deep Space 9

After Andoni beams back to the USS Ares, he tells the members of his crew who need to know. "We're taking a guest with us who's just been cleared."

"Who is this person, sir?" asks the chief of security Cruzeiro.

"I'm not at liberty to say," answers the Captain. "I can only tell you that this individual has already been cleared by Admiral Jellico, and he requires a link established between the guest quarters and a manor in Macedonia. There are other special requests from our guest as well, but they will be addressed as they present themselves."

Over the protest of some of his officers, Security Chief Cruzeiro and Science officer Quasom, the passenger is cleared and beamed aboard from Macedonia, where he was engaged in a good-bye sexual intercourse with his priestess.

"I don't need your damned beaming system." Ares objects almost whining. "I can do it myself."

"I'm sorry my god, but there is no choice," says Andoni. "Your identity must be kept secret.

After beaming to his namesake ship the Olympian goes directly to his quarters to prepare himself for his task, it wouldn't be easy to transport this vessel hundreds of light years away.

"We're ready to go to warp." the officer at the helm informs everyone.

"Put that order on stand by, Commander Cruzeiro," says Simon. "Please contact our guest and ask him to come to the bridge."

"Sir, I must object to the presence of this stranger on the command center of the ship."

"Commander," begins Simon very upset. "I was once a security officer, and I understand the requirements for the job. But this is MY ship, and if the great Mr. Cruzeiro doesn't like it, you can be put off the USS Ares any time you want, we're still close enough to space dock to return if you wish."

"I'm sorry, captain," Cruzeiro says. "I guess I was out of line, but I'm just trying to do my job."

"Apology accepted." says Simon. "And I do understand, but this should never, ever happen again."

Just then Ares enters the bridge, he's dressed in his normal black leathers, but isn't carrying his sword. His appearance calls the attention of many in the crew, the female officer in ops stares at him with 'that' look and the first officer, Commander Angeles Trevi 'checks him out'.

"We are ready to proceed if you are." Says Andoni.

Ares smiles and puts himself between the ops and helm consoles and vanishes, to appear only a few seconds later. "What happened?" The captain asks.

Ares just smiles nodding at commander Cruzeiro, who says "We are being hailed by DS9; the space station wants to know where the hell we've come from."

Ares appears to be losing consciousness, and Simon helps him, he gives some orders before leaving the bridge. Lt. Quasom is to find any scientific explanation of how they got here, and Commander Cruzeiro is to inform Capt. Sisko that they are to meet the next day at 1300 hrs. Mr. Cruzeiro is also to reestablish the link with Earth ASAP, THAT has the highest priority.

"I think I overextended myself." Says the GOW when they reach his quarters, "I spent most of my energy on this stunt."

Andoni begins praying to him, hoping to strengthen him until the link with Macedonia can be on-line. It works, and when the communication is on, his recovery is astonishing.

* * *

When the captain leaves Ares' quarters, heading to a senior staff meeting, he's joined by his first officer, Commander Trevi, who asks him "Who is our guest Captain? How did we get here?"

Andoni just says "He's an special being, and most of your questions will be addressed at the meeting."

Simon enters and says "Report."

All department heads inform him that no systems have been damaged by this transport. "And have you got any explanation how this could be happening Mr. Quasom?" Adds the Captain.

"I'm sorry sir," says the science officer "I can't give one. There is no way that the ship could have traveled this far in such a short time."

"Do you think that the only possible explanation would be 'by the will of a superior life form?'" Questions the captain and the andorian responds that it would be a likely explanation.

"Very well," the captain tells them. "The identity of the guest. He's Ares, the God of War, a superior life form that will help us defeat the Dominion."

A bombardment of questions follows, but Simon evades them, saying only "Desperate times breed desperate measures, if the Jem'Hadar think that the founders are gods, the Federation needs someone on our side with a claim on divinity. Now, I want you to tell me all you remember of history class in the academy, the incident of the Enterprise on Stardate 3468."

"I remember that one," says the security chief. "Captain Kirk encountered a being calling himself Apollo... wait a second, are you telling us that this twentieth century biker reject is..."

"That is correct," finishes Andoni passing them a PADD for each. "Now, study the material that I've just given you, I want you to become familiar with our guest."

* * *

Commander Trevi finds herself going to Ares' quarters, and when she gets there she realizes that she has no idea why she's gone she's about to leave but the door opens and Ares is there, he grabs her, pulls her inside and kisses her passionately.

* * *

"What did you do with me?" Angeles asks him when the sex bout is over, "I've always been a centered woman."

"I can see the sexual tension that you have," Ares answers, caressing her leg and kissing lightly her shoulder. "All I tried to do was to help. If you wish, I'll never help you again."

"Well," Commander Trevi tells him. "it was enjoyable, but maybe we shouldn't do this, we've just met."

Ares laughs at this, setting her free, and telling her with an evil smile, "Next time, when the urge comes, bring an offering and be prepared to say a prayer, for I am not an easy guy." Angeles departs Ares' quarters disgusted with him.

* * *

At 1200 hrs the next day, Simon checks on Ares telling him "We are expected on the command center of DS9."

"OK, Simon," The God answers. "I'll meet you in your transporter room."

When they meet Sisko, he asks Simon who is this leather clad man and how was it possible for them to be there, according to his information, the USS Ares left space dock 26 hrs ago.

"Captain Sisko," begins Andoni "It is an honor to meet you, as to answer your question, well, you may not believe this, but we got here via Ares-express."

"You what?" Asks Ben, "Please explain yourself."

When the entire explanation that had been given both to Admiral Jellico and the senior crew of the USS Ares finishes, Sisko is skeptical, 'But who am I to speak,' he thinks to himself. "I happen to be the emissary to the bajoran prophets.'

"I need information about these 'wormhole' beings." Ares speaks for the first time. "I find them... very interesting."

"Very well," Captain Sisko tells him, "as far as I know, the prophets are beings that exist outside time, are extremely powerful and live in the wormhole that exist between the Alpha and the Gamma quadrants."

"I'd like to meet them." Ares says, and in that moment, he goes completely still.

* * *

Ares finds himself in a room very much like the halls of Olympus, with his brother Hermes in front of him. "You are corporeal." Says the being.

"Hermes?" asks the Olympian. "Is that you?"

The scene changes and now they are in the halls of war, "You're different from the other corporeals." Says the messenger of the gods. "Interesting."

"This is the 'prophets realm', isn't it?" Asks Ares.

The prophet doesn't answer, he seems to be listening to someone else, when Ares says "I don't like to be abducted, and I can play too." He snaps his fingers, and transports both of them to Sisko's office in DS9.

* * *

"What in hell happened to him?" asks Simon very surprised.

"I've seen this before," answers Sisko. "It's very possible that he is having a vision from the prophets, they're not harmful."

When Ares snaps back and a middle aged blonde man appears in the room both captains stare, but the GOW speaks first, "Allow me to introduce you to one of the prophets, I think he's leaving his non-linear continuum for the first time, you can call him Hermes."

'Hermes' however, screams with terror and begins babbling until Ares waves his hand and puts him to sleep.

"What right do you have to take a prophet out of his realm?" asks Ben. "You could have killed him."

"I was taken as well, against my will," answers Ares angrily. "These prophets take anyone they want, whenever they want to their realm. I'm just playing as they do. 'Hermes' will sleep for a while, maybe the doctor of this facility will want to make a complete examination of him? Just like they did to me at Starfleet Headquarters."

Sisko gets even angrier, and seems about to explode, when Simon puts a hand on his shoulder telling him, "I can understand that as the emissary, you're protective over the prophets, but Ares is an EARTH god, and since you're a child from Earth, maybe you should be more kind to one that is a god of his people."

"I only know that if the prophets feel themselves betrayed, they might let the Jem'Hadar reinforcements pass through the wormhole." Sisko then takes a deep breath and adds, "Ares, please take the prophet back to his realm."

"No!" says the God "I want to talk with him first, let him sleep for a while, and then we'll have one long conversation. Now, is the Rotarran docked in DS9?"

"What do you mean 'no'?" asks Sisko "Do you think that I was really asking you?"

"If you can find a way to get him back," comments the Olympian. "do it, in the meantime, answer ME!"

"No, the Rotarran is not here, she won't be here for another 3 days, then it will stay docked on the station for 3 days and again 7 days on patrol. Now, take the prophet back."

"Arrange it for me to be onboard her when she leaves, in 6 days."

"You think you can ask me anything?" Sisko says furious. When Ares just chuckles and looks at him raising an eyebrow, he lounges at him, but is pushed back by Simon.

"Yes I do, because if you don't do what I ask, your precious god will stay right here, where he is. Let me tell you something, Captain Sisko... I am the bad guy! Now are you going to do what I order, or not."

"The possibilities of you getting on the klingon ship are remote. Gral. Martok doesn't like strangers on his ship."

"It's because of the bad disposition of Martok, that I need your help, captain, if the Klingon general was kindly disposed toward strangers, there would be no need for you. Arrange it... please." The last word seems dragged of him by a rope, then he departs.

"That is the most rude, insolent, arrogant bastard that I've ever seen!" yells Sisko to Andoni. "Does Starfleet command really believe that he can help us? I am not impressed with this 'god'."

"The Federation/Klingon alliance is losing this war captain," says Simon. "Having a being with such an enormous amount of power on our side, may just tip the scales in our favor. Besides, the klingons are warriors, something about Ares being the god of war will have a nice ring for them, I think."

"I'll see what I can do." Sisko says resigned.

Chapter VII
Q'apla Rotarran

"I will not take that human aboard my ship!" says General Martok to Sisko. "Who does he think he is?"

"I must agree with the general, captain." Adds Worf "I do not trust any 'Q-like' beings."

"All things being equal, I'd agree." Counters Ben. "But all things aren't equal. Never has the Federation faced a foe like this, not even the Borg are more dangerous. I ask you as a friend, Martok, do me this favor."

"If that so-called 'god' can best me, then I'll accept."

"Any time, any place, any competition." Says Ares materializing. "Just be prepared to fulfill your end of the bargain."

"I'll let my Bat'leth, speak for me." Says the klingon general.

"And I'll add mine to yours." Commander Worf tells him. "We shall see how much of a coward you really are."

Two hours later, on one of Quark's holosuites, they meet, the klingons carry their ceremonial honor swords, but Ares prefers to ask the computer for a holographic sword. In this challenge Ares gets wounded, but manages to knock both of them. "There is no shame in being beaten by me." The God tells them, "I was fighting against multiple opponents centuries before Khaless himself was born."

"This proves nothing!" growls Martok. "I issue another challenge, one requiring is more than just muscle. I challenge you to a Targ hunt."

"My sister was the hunter of the family," says Ares. "She could fell a deer at 500 paces with one arrow. Anyway, what is a Targ, and where can we hunt it?"

"A Targ is a klingon quadruped," answers the general. "It can be found in the forests of Kronos... I guess we'll have to make a simulation."

"Not necessary," says Ares snapping his fingers.

* * *

"Here we are. Kronos. This is a forest, now, what is a Targ."

"You transported us all the way from Deep Space Nine to Kronos?" asks Worf.

"What can I say? I am a god. And forget the question, I've seen in your mind what it is, do we take weapons?"

"No..." says Martok after a second. He throws his bat'leth and knife to the ground. "Tonight we hunt with only our hands."

"How will we be sure that the 'god' won't cheat?" asks Worf. "I certainly wouldn't trust him farther than I could throw him."

"And since there is no way that you could throw me anywhere," adds Ares, "you don't trust me at all."

"We hunt together." Commands Martok. "We will find a herd of Targ, and then, each will take a prey."

Worf wins this one, but all three of them enjoy some real gagh for supper when they beam to the capital city, all come back with some gashes. "Since you beat me on this one," says the God. "I think I'll issue the final challenge."

"And what would you challenge us to?" asks general. "It must be something in which we have an even chance of winning."

The Olympian laughs, saying "It will be a fair test, one that you klingons will enjoy, we'll drink blood wine, until only one remains standing."

"We'd need an impartial judge." Comments Martok, "One whose integrity is beyond any doubt."

"Yes," agrees the other klingon. Looking at the black clad god, he adds, "You! Take us back to the station, I'll ask Odo to judge the contest."

Ares agrees, but promise to himself, 'I'll make you pay for thinking you can give me orders.' He snaps his fingers and they appear back in the holosuite, but as they exit, they see Quark, standing in front of the gate, with a pay PADD in his hand. "You owe me 12 bars, 7 slips of latinum," says the Ferengi. "I never thought that you'd be in there six hours."

"We weren't in there, innkeeper." Ares tells him. "Here." He adds creating a gem in his hand. "I believe this dilithium crystal will cover the bill, and then some."

"Oh yeah!" exclaims the Ferengi, changing his tune quickly. "Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"Bloodwine. As much as you have, bring the best first."

After Odo agrees, with some reluctance over such an idiotic competition, they begin drinking. Worf falls first, then after a long race, Martok hits the deck, with the changeling proclaiming Ares the winner, just before the God joins the Klingons on the floor.

* * *

Martok spends the next day recovering, but informs the crew of his ship that this human war god will be accompanying them on their next patrol.

When the time comes to leave DS9, Ares has socialized with quite a few of the klingons on the station, and he approves of them, they are, in every sense of the word, modern warriors. But that is not enough, if he's to get the worship of the empire, he'll need to show them that he invented the concept of honorable war.

Ares also takes one day to be with Alexander Roshenko, although he might now be Alexander of the house Martok(*). It seems fitting and a little amusing to Ares that finding a klingon wearing the name of his best warrior. He helps him with a little of his god powers, making him, not invincible, but at least passable with the bat'leth, and a good shot with the disruptor.

This upsets Worf, who goes to the GOW and tells him, "Stay away from my son, that ability with weapons that you're giving him, is supposed to be something earned with sweat and work."

"Yes, it should, I completely agree." Says Ares with a calm a Vulcan would envy. "But I'm only covering the mistakes _you_ made by not raising your son as a warrior, if now Alexander wants to be one, he deserves a little extra help. And I'm going to keep helping him, not because I want him to worship me, not because I want to upset you, but because I like him. Comprende?"

This shuts Worf up for the moment, time being. He only growls and departs.

* * *

For three days they're on patrol and nothing happens. After Ares made friends with some of the crew (much better than Jadzia Dax did (**)), and with the fact that he's trained with Alexander, makes for good rapport. Then on the 4th day, their scanners detect a Jem'Hadar ship closing on their position. "Red Alert! Crew to battle stations!" Cries the computer "This is not a simulation, Crew to battle stations."

Ares smiles to himself and transports himself to the bridge, startling Martok, "Leaves the bridge immediately human!" Says the general.

Ares ignores the order and activates the internal communications, addressing the entire crew of the Rotarran. "This is the God of War." he says in a firm tone. "You think you're honorable? You think that your strength equals you with gods? You think that your ancestors were powerful enough to kill your gods? Well, I say real warriors don't use disruptors. Real warriors don't kill the enemy at hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Real warriors kill with swords, so that they can look into the eyes of their enemy when the strike falls, and that is what I'm about to do." After that, he disappears in a flash of light.

"Where did that human went?" asks Martok.

After a few seconds, a female Klingon named Tavana, says "We're getting strange readings from the Jem'Hadar ship. The life signs seem to be reducing, there are weapon shots being fired, and the ship seems to have come to a sudden stop."

"Let's get closer to the enemy vessel with shields up and weapons locked," Martok orders. "But do not fire unless fired upon."

When they're closer, Tavana reports "The readings are clearer sir, the crew of the Jem'Hadar vessel are dying at a surprising rate."

"The Enemy ship is sending a distress signal!" says Alexander, at the communication post.

"Jam it!" Martok orders.

"Unable to block it sir." Replies Alexander. "It's on a completely different frequency."

"Officer Tavana," says Worf. "Review your tactical data, we may need to get out of here fast."

"Two enemy vessels are answering the distress signal sir," says Alexander. "One Cardassian and one Jem'Hadar. The first will be here in 30 minutes, the other in 45."

"Then there is not much of a hurry," sighs Martok. "Helm, set course to..." Then Ares pops-back to the bridge of the Rotarran; covered in blood, and with the head of a Jem'Hadar in one hand and his sword in the other. Its tip is digging into the neck of a very frightened Vorta.

"There are no life signs left on the enemy ship." Tavana reports to Martok.

"Of course not!" Ares responds, "Every enemy on that ship is dead, and everyone of them, saw who it was who killed them."

The whole bridge crew begins to chant 'ARES! ARES! ARES!' until Martok calls for order, and reminds them that two other vessels will be here soon.

"What vessels?" Ares asks.

"One Cardassian and one Jem'Hadar responded to the call for help." Alexander answers him directly.

"Excellent!" exclaims the GOW, "Put the Vorta inside an escape pod, and eject him. you," Ares addresses the alien, in a quite voice that makes him tremble even more, "will inform your masters that they are now fighting a real god." After the Vorta is taken away, the Olympian adds, "Mr. Worf, fire at the Jem'Hadar ship, but be careful, destroy it without igniting the core. The headless corpses and heads of the Jem'Hadar must be found floating in space, with the core intact. Those who find the them must know that the ship was destroyed after it was taken, and not during battle."

Worf looks at Martok for confirmation of these orders, and when the General nods, he takes the prisoner to be ejected.

"Helm!" Ares orders "Plot a course to intercept the Jem'Hadar vessel, the day is not over." The helmsman doesn't even bother to consult with Martok, plots a course and says "Ready when you wish it, joH'a'(***)".

Ares looks at the Klingon general, who says "Engage at best speed."

* * *

Martok and Worf meet with Ares in the conference room, Ares tells them "This must be quick, I have to address the crew. So yes, I know you both think that I'm trying to steal the crew from you, but that is not true, I need this crew to be victorious, and to have more confidence on themselves that they have even now. They've got to rely on themselves, not on the machines that fire energy discharges at the enemy."

"What is your plan for this crew?" Martok asks directly. "And why are we going deeper into enemy territory to engage a Jem'Hadar ship? The Cardassian would be an easier target."

"An easy target is not what I'm looking for, but that isn't the only reason. Think for a second, if the Jem'Hadar found the destroyed vessel, with headless corpses floating around, they would just put a lid on it. The Cardassians however, will be frightened. They will interrogate the surviving Vorta until they are sure they know everything. And the truth will frighten them even more. Fear, is a very effective weapon.

"As for what I plan for the crew, when we come close to the enemy ship, I'll neutralize all energy signatures, everything but life support will be disconnected, leaving BOTH ships dead in the water. Then I will make a proposition to the crew, any Klingon who wants, will be transported to the Jem'Hadar ship, armed with only a Bat'leth, to win honor on the blood of the enemy, to look them in the eyes before giving the final stroke. This is what I intend to do, and if the klingons are half the warriors that I think they are, they will take this challenge, and paint the enemy ship with the blood of the Jem'Hadar soldiers."

Worf is appalled by what he hears, but Martok's blood is inflamed, "I will lead the assault myself!" He exclaims. "If you can deliver what you promised, then yes, it will be far more honorable to kill with blades than with disruptors."

Ares leaves the conference room to address the crew, and Worf tries to talk Martok out of this crazy venture, "If Ares can't keep the enemy ship under control, our soldiers are going to be slaughtered."

"We're indeed losing this war my brother," Martok tells Worf, "and we need to take a few chances if we are to win it. Supporting this god might very well be the turning point."

The Rotarran closes on the Jem'Hadar ship, and true to his word, Ares offers the crew the chance to take the enemy with their own hands, not with disruptors, with steel. Almost all of the crew accepts, but Martok is the one that chooses who will go and who will stay on board, he knows better than anyone who has a better surviving chance, when armed with only with a Bat'leth.

Ares fulfills his end of the bargain, and the klingons return victorious from battle, losing only 12 to over a hundred enemy casualties. The Vorta is again put into an escape pod, to deliver his message. 'There is a real god fighting against the Dominion, and he will not stop until all Dominion soldiers are driven back to the Gamma Quadrant.'

The Rotarran crew goes back to DS9 full of songs and praise. For the first time, they have broken the Jem'Hadar, instead the other way around. All but Worf, who is still unsettled by the turn of events.

(*) Alexander was made a member or house Martok in ST:DS9 'Sons and Daughters'
(**) Jadzia Dax was on the Rotarran in ST:DS9 'Soldiers of the Empire'
(***) joH'a' means big lord or God in klingon.

Chapter VIII
Conversations about Divinity

Part I
Underworld

Ares left the Rotarran one day before they got back to DS9. Teleporting himself, he was feeling strong, this battle and the worship of real warriors was exactly what he needed. Now that he had positioned himself as a god, he needs to offer his worshippers something else, the kind of thing that the Greek gods offered, the Elysian Fields.

So, he transports himself to the Underworld, and as he expects, its empty, all the souls both in Tartarus and in Elysium departed during the exile. 'Just my luck,' he thinks, 'I'm finally king of the gods, and I have no gods to rule.' Then he hears something, when he gets closer to the source, he sees Charon and Celesta.

"Who are, - ARES?" asks Charon.

"That isn't possible," says Celesta. "All the Olympians died."

"Not this one," comments the GOW. "I avoided the exile by being stupid enough to get trapped in my tomb. What about you? Shouldn't you be dead?"

"I'm still linked to this damned boat," says Charon. "But what use is it, if no one ever comes to cross the Styx?"

When the Olympian at Celesta he notices that she's looking as young as ever, with her eternal flame ignited. She says "I'm still death, one of its incarnations anyway, but I can only guide the souls to this place, and since Hades isn't here to pass judgment, there isn't anyone to bring."

Ares smiles, thanking the fates, 'I'm the only Olympian alive, but these two were never really gods, Charon is an immortal, son of Nyx and Erebus; and Celesta is... well she's who she is, and in this war, I'm going to give them a lot of work.'

"I've begun to re-establish myself again as a god, and the Elysian Fields will be re-opening soon." He tells them. "I'll be remodeling Hades palace. Celesta, you will be carrying the souls of all the warriors that die in this war to the Styx; Charon you will ferry them free of charge." Then he points at the Palace, adding, "and there will be the new Sto'vo'kor."

"And what will I win from this?" Both Charon and Celesta ask him at the same time, sounding very funny. Charon clears his throat and adds. "We've been alone for so long, that our thoughts seem to be connected."

"Well," Ares answers, "relief from 2000 years of boredom is reward enough, but if you want more, then I promise that if I ever leave, I'll take you with me, I've suffered the same loneliness as you."

"I've got nothing better to do," says Charon. "But I expect everyone who comes to honor the old agreement, and pay me one obol for every soul that wants to cross Styx."

"And what will you do with all that money?" Ares asks with a smile. "You haven't been able to spend it in an eternity, and it doesn't seem like you'll do it soon."

"It doesn't matter!" Charon exclaims. "It is the agreement that I'll get one coin per crossed soul, and I expect the agreement to be honored."

"Very well," Ares agrees. "I'll tell my soldiers to carry a locket, yes that is a good idea, with it around their necks they'll have a coin to give you when they arrive, and let everyone know who is their lord."

"What do you mean by that?" asks Celesta. "How will the locket mean anything?"

"Oh, is something I've seen other religions do. It's like the cross for the Christians... or the six pointed star for the Jewish. I'll mark my symbol on the locket. That's how everyone will know the person belongs to me."

Celesta clears her throat before saying "I've no option but to bring the souls to the Underworld when their time comes, but I'm worried, who will judge the souls? What if a really evil person dies fighting for you, god of war? Will he deserve to go to the Elysium anyway?"

"Yes." answers Ares simply. "I'm not getting picky, and besides, it won't exactly be like the Fields were designed in the first place, Sto'vo'kor will be a lot more like Valhalla, the Fields will be reserved for humans and other, more peaceful species. And yes, since I'm the only Olympian left, I can command that every soul that comes here is sent to reward."

"But that wouldn't be fair!" Exclaims the messenger of death.

"Which part of 'I'm the only Olympian left, and can command you' don't you understand?"

Celesta sighs, knowing she can't argue with Ares on his last statement, 'It isn't my job to judge the actions of those I bring to the Underworld,' she thinks 'that was Hades' job'. "Very well, war god," she says resigned. "I'll follow your instructions."

"I knew you would." Smiles Ares as he transports himself to his main temple in Macedonia.

Part II
Great Grandmother

'Well, there is someone else in my family that is still alive,' Ares thinks to himself. 'and I'm sure of this because I'm standing over her, and she's full of life, more than ever before.'

"My priestess," he addresses Helena. "How are things going here on Earth?"

"More than fine, my god," she answers. "The news of the Rotarran victory over the Jem'Hadar has just reached the planet, and they include your participation, in the last 6 hours, we've received over 5,000 calls, asking about you!"

"So, the scientific society still wants divine guidance?" the Olympian asks sarcastically. Then he sobers up, and adds. "You know more about me and my cult than anyone alive, I leave in your hands the formation of a solid community, I just warn you, a large part of the congregation will be klingons."

"I figured as much, my god." Responds Helena. "Between me and Antonia, we've a good idea of how to structure your followers into a strong organization."

"Like I said, I leave it in your hands, I'm going to my private quarters, do not disturb me."

He gets inside his chambers, and goes to his knees, pulls out his sword, placing it on the floor, then using his power cuts across the foundation of the temple, until he reaches the dirt, takes a seed, and places it in the dirt, then says "Gaia, great grandmother, creator of everything and everyone, hear me, appear before this child of yours." From the seed grows a sapling, then a plant and finally, within a moment, a young bush stands full of flowers. From the plant emerges the form of Gaia.

"Great Grandmother!" greets the GOW. "Hello, you're looking good."

"Yes," she answers; "it has taken me a while to recover of almost 250 years of human abuse, but these last 380 years, the mortals have actually helped me to heal."

"I'm pleased they came to their senses," he tells her. "I could feel when I was almost released in 1940 that you were hurt, and hurt badly, but what I remember feeling 5 years after was incredible."

"I remember as well," says Gaia shivering "The first nuclear test in Arizona, and then the next 2 explosions in Japan. I screamed so loud that even you, trapped as you were, could hear me. Then the mortals kept having nuclear tests, some underground or below water. They didn't know that they were killing themselves."

"I wish I could have done more... I'd never let anyone hurt you."

"I know. So, what have you been doing?"

"Xena's descendant freed me to help the mortals in a war. What else would I be doing?"

"And why did you summon me?"

"I just wanted to see you." She just taps her foot on the floor and says "The truth please."

Ares raises his hands in defeat and says, "I want to know if what I'm doing is right. You're the wisest person I know, and I really could use your advise."

Gaia looks pensive, 'I haven't given any direct advise for hundreds of years,' she thinks. 'The last few times to give advice was to enable the creation of the first environmentalist movement in the late 1960's.'

"Well, I think that this is your calling in life. To help mortals under your care, to protect them against threats that are over them."

"I think that this statement might very well be a way for you to refuse any responsibility over what will happen to the humans." Ares smiles at his great grandmother. "But that is not who you are, Gaia you were always the strongest of all, and if you said something, it is true."

"Ares, I can't tell you what to do, you must follow your path to the end."

"Thank you for coming, great grandmother." Ares says, "It's good to know that I'm not all alone."

"I'm also glad I came," she answers. "It's good to see one of my children in charge of things again. It hasn't been too bad since the Olympians left. Mortals are also my children after a fashion, but I always had the strongest connection with my more powerful kids, the titans, the giants, the Cyclops and the gods."

She then smiles at Ares, and embraces him, telling him, "I'm proud of you, and I know that when this conflict ends, I'll be even more proud. Take care of yourself my child, and take care of the tree that is now growing in the middle of this temple."

When she disappears, the bush grows again, becoming taller, wider, and more beautiful. In a matter of minutes, it has flourished and is bearing fruit, full, beautiful, red apples.

Ares laughs. A rich, resonant laugh that reaches through doors and walls throughout the temple. When Helena investigates, she knocks on her god's door, knowing full well that she might get punished for disobedience.

"Come in!" screams Ares and when she opens the gate, she finds him with a grin on his face. "Look at this tree, Hel. Its a gift for me from Gaia. It must be cared and nurtured, hmm." He waves his hands and several windows are made. "That's it, sunlight can reach the tree now. When time comes, apples must be harvested and eaten by the members of the community. It was a generous gift, and I want to be generous with the harvest as well."

After delivering those instructions, he departs for the Rotarran. "Yes my god!" Helena mutters to the air.

Part III
'Hermes'

Ares gets back to the Rotarran as they are arriving at DS9, he's praised by the Klingon crew, and when docked, Sisko and the senior staff of the station are in the air lock. When he exits, the commander and Kira gently excuse him from the adoring crowd of praising Klingons, taking the GOW to a private quarters.

As soon as he enters, 'Hermes' tries to punch Ares, but the GOW easily catches his hand, twisting it and sending the prophet to the floor. "You shouldn't play with the big boys, kid. You might get hurt." Says the Olympian with a smile.

Kira then pulls out her phaser and points it at Ares head. "You will send the prophet back where he belongs, now."

"You know, Major." Laughs the GOW, "the Jem'Hadar tried to fire at me, and they had more powerful weapons. They couldn't harm me either."

Kira lowers the weapon, saying, "Anyway, I demand that you take him back to the Celestial Temple. You have no idea how hard it has been to put a lid on this. If the Bajoran population on the station found out, they'd be out for blood. Rumors are already beginning to circulate."

"Very well, I'll take him back, on two conditions: First, I'll go with him to the wormhole to talk with the prophets; and second, they'll agree NOT to pull me into the 'prophet realm' again. Ever."

'Hermes' stands up and says anxiously, "Sure, whatever, as long as I leave this material plane of existence."

Ares nods and they both disappear.

Outside the station, the wormhole opens and closes.

* * *

Ares appears as energy inside the wormhole, and the prophets don't have to create the virtual realm they use for others. Ares isn't one of their own, but is the closest thing they've ever encountered. Then, they opt to go again to 'the vision realm'. In it, they appear as his family: Hermes, Zeus, Hades, Aphrodite, Poseidon and Athena.

"He is corporeal." Says Zeus.

"No, he is not, not completely." Adds Athena.

"Still, he will interfere." Hades comments.

"That must not be allowed. The reckoning must come." Says Poseidon.

"You realize how stupid you sound?" asks Ares. "This changing of scenarios, the fact that one of you starts a phrase, and another ends it... I'm surprised your followers haven't deserted you."

"More aggressive." Says Aphrodite.

"An agreement must be reached." Says Zeus.

"What will we ask of him?" asks Athena.

"What makes you think that I would agree to anything with you?" asks back the GOW.

"We know the importance of the Celestial Temple." Says Hermes.

"Without us, the corporeals who can change form would take over Bajor." Says Hades.

"An agreement will be reached. We will keep our word." Says Poseidon.

"What do you want, and what do you offer?" asks finally the real Olympian.

"You will not interfere with Bajor." Says Hades. "Not until it can't be avoided."

"We are of Bajor." Says Aphrodite.

"Bajor is us." Adds Athena.

"What is so special about this backwater hole of a planet?" Asks Ares.

"An agreement reached first." Says Zeus

"Fine!" exclaims the GOW. "I'll stay away from the planet and won't accept followers from among the bajorans. Now, what is the relevance of Bajor?"

"We entrusted something to Bajor." Says Hades.

"Something valuable." Adds Poseidon

"The reckoning is coming." Says Athena. "You must be ready for the reckoning."

"What reckoning? What are you talking about?" Asks the black clad god. "You know what? I don't care, take your reckoning, and keep it, I'll stay away from your worshippers and that will be that."

"You must know." Says Zeus

"The responsibility given to bajorans must be revealed." Adds Poseidon.

"There are beings trapped in Bajor," says Athena. "They are our kind who were expelled out of our realm."

"Demons?" asks Ares, "Very well I'll stay away from Bajoran religion, but I might have to step into Bajor's soil sometime. And I can hear you thinking, so forget the pretence of not understanding me."

"The agreement has been reached," says Zeus. "Your word is acceptable. You may withdraw now."

Ares chuckles at this dismissal, telling them "You should study a little more about some mortal behavior called 'good manners'. It might make relations with others... smoother." With that he vanishes back to DS9.

Chapter IX
The many battles of Betazed

Part I
The battle to send a message (or, do you know where I can get a telepath?)

Two months have passed since the victorious return of the Rotarran to DS9, in that time, Ares has mostly been on a Klingon ship. His ability to transport himself and others from one place to another in the blink of an eye has been invaluable. Now aided by Martok, completely converted to the worship of Ares, like most of the klingons around the station the GOW has quickly grasped the tactical and strategical deployment of a fleet in this kind of war.

But still insists on trying to find more honorable ways to beat this enemy, but understands that not all battles can be fought with swords and Bat'leths. He has blessed the disruptors and the torpedoes on each individuals, and with each battle fought, he grows stronger. Aside from Klingons, terrans, tellarites, and andorians have joined his service and more temples are being dedicated to him every day. To make it easier for Celesta to take the dead warriors, the Klingons have lockets with the crossed sword (*) in red, while the other races have it in blue.

Although his combined forces are accomplishing a great deal, Ares knows they're not nearly enough. He'll need to find a miracle to win this war. He decides to go find one. Looking for the reports of battles that seem 'impossible to win'. If he can make his forces win an impossible victory, his following will increase dramatically. The question is: 'where?'

"Well," comments Martok "The Dominion has sent more reinforcements to Betazed."

Ares remembers a little about this world. According to what he read, Betazed is populated by a humanoid species, that have telepathic and empathic abilities, they are very good at diplomacy, pacifist to the core, and the world is very much like Earth.

Also the latest intelligence reports from both the Federation and the Klingon Empire, say that the Vorta have installed telepathic repressors in orbit, designed to inhibit the non-verbal communication on the planet. Reports also show since they had been in control of the planet, it has being systematically stripped of all its resources.

"According to intelligence," says the GOW. "If this isn't stopped, the beautiful planet will be a wasteland in less than 10 years. How many ships and warriors can you gather in the next 7 days?"

"One hundred and fifty ships, maybe 200 if I use some of my influence, and as for warriors, more than those ships can carry, about 250,000 brave Klingons, ready for battle."

"It's not enough," Ares says "I need at least 5 times that amount for what I have planned."

"And what have you planned?" Martok asks.

"Well, Betazed has just become a very likely target, if we liberate it, it will be a morale boost for the Federation, it will encourage the empire to close ranks and such a defeat will be demoralizing for the Dominion."

"I'll do all I can," Martok says. "But even those 150 ships will be hard to obtain and we'd better have a victory, or the council on Kronos will want my head if I lose that force. And the Federation will probably want an explanation of why the Klingons are amassing so many ships."

"Not to worry," Ares tells him "I'll speak with Captain Sisko and Admiral Ross, they don't like me much, but they like to win, and since I've entered the scene, the Federation has been winning more than before."

"And how do you plan to invade Betazed?" asks the klingon general. "According to the information, there are over 250 Jem'Hadar ships in orbit, and about 50 Cardassian ones. The occupying force on the planet is over 1,000,000 troops and the betazoids have been completely disarmed by their invaders."

"Damn it!" Ares curses, "When I eliminate all energy weapons from the surface, the invading troops would be outnumbered 10 to 1, and that is assuming that we don't lose anyone on the way, which seems unlikely."

"It's regrettable that we can't communicate with the betazoids," Martok sighs. "While the Jem'Hadar confiscated and destroyed all energy and chemical weapons, knifes, swords, pikes and maces would be easily replicated without much fuss."

"Then that's it!" Ares says "We'll let them know when we're coming and when all the energy leaves the planet, they will fall on the disoriented enemy troops."

Martok chuckles regretfully, before saying, "That will not be possible, if we as much as try to send a message to Betazed, it's very likely to be intercepted, and our plan will go to Tartarus." Then he laughs, "By the hand of Khaless, I'm beginning to change my perceptions of the Klingon afterlife."

"There is one way to make sure that the message reaches it's destination without any possibility of interception," Ares tells him. "If we send it telepathically, the Vorta will never know."

"There is a grid of anti-telepathy around Betazed," Martok reminds him. "And even if it wasn't, even the strongest telepath couldn't send a message from here to the taken world, the message wouldn't reach the receiver in decades, if not centuries."

"Not to worry," Ares tells him. "I can get around the distance problem, and with enough focus, I'll make it possible for the message to pass across the enemy grid, and they won't even know I send it. I'll go speak with Admiral Ross right now."

When Ares leaves the room, going directly to the command center, he hopes to find both of the senior officers of the station there. Unfortunately, neither of them are, and Kira, who still doesn't like him due to his kidnapping of a prophet, tells him that he can wait, but not to touch anything.

"Agreed." When Kira leaves the office, Ares says "Computer! I need information on betazoids who escaped from their home world, or were not there when the occupation began." A long list appears on the screen. "Reduce that list to persons with very strong telepathic abilities."

"Please specify psi level." Says the impersonal computer voice.

"Maximum level." Ares answers. The list reduces again, over 10,000 names. "Computer, eliminate from the list everyone that hasn't had direct contact with Starfleet." The list reduces drastically and Ares thinks to himself that 'Maybe the strongest telepaths don't like Starfleet'. Still there are over 1,000 names left. "Now, eliminate all the persons that don't have close relatives on Betazed."

"Please specify level of contact." The computer once again asks.

"Only parents, siblings or offsprings." That reduces the list to less than 100 names. "Display on this screen at next to maximum velocity." It takes him less than 5 minutes to select 10 candidates for his special project. Just then, Sisko and Admiral Ross enter the command room.

"What are you doing here?" Sisko asks.

"I'm looking for a telepath," The GOW answers pleasantly. "Betazoid preferentially, and I could use your help to determine who I should call."

"Where did you get that information?" Ross asks looking at the screen.

"I just asked the computer." Ares answers.

"And how did you get past the security lockdowns?"

"Computers aren't really smart," the GOW responds. "If you ask the right way, it will do what you ask, regardless of what security has been installed."

"You broke down into those files!" Ross says angrily.

"Yes I did, what is the problem? It's not like this is top-secret information."

"While not that vital," Sisko speaks trying to stay calm. "This is not the kind of info that you leave lying around."

Ares sees no reason to apologize because in his eyes, he has done nothing wrong. Sighing, he says "I'll try not to do it again. Although if I had to go thru proper channels, the bureaucratic system would have driven me nuts. Wouldn't it be easier to give me access to classified information? I already have all the info from the Klingon intelligence service."

Ross is somewhat mollified by this news, but manages to somewhat hide it, and says "I'll pass your request to Starfleet HQ."

"Why are you looking for a telepath?" Sisko asks.

"I have a plan to liberate a world from the Dominion," Ares answers. "But I'll need a very strong telepath, one who has dealt with Starfleet before and has something at stake on the world that is about to be liberated."

"What world are you planning to attack?" Sisko asks.

"I prefer not to say. If you want to help me, that's wonderful, if you don't, then I'll contact all the names on the list and ask all of them for their help."

Ross then sighs and says "May I see the list?" after he does he adds, "Betazed? It will be awfully difficult, I know two of the names written there. Yosoni Erto and Lwaxana Troi. Are you really planning to free Betazed?"

"What if I am?" Ares answers.

"It will be a waste of resources," Sisko says angrily. "The Betazed home world is heavily fortified, and you can't really expect help from the population, even if you managed to get past the surrounding fleet, it will mean the death of dozens of millions of betazoids before they get all the invading forces."

"I AM the God of War," Ares tells him. "And I WILL make this possible, I'll contact these two people right away."

"Mr. Ares." Admiral Ross speaks before he leaves the command center, "If what you want is someone who doesn't give up, and is willing to face horrible odds in order to free her planet, you should contact Ambassador Troi."

After Ares leave the room, Sisko asks the Admiral "Why did you recommend Mrs. Troi?"

"He is a determined person," Ross answers. "He'll go after Betazed, if he has the best of the candidates or not. Besides, his assessment is correct, he IS the God of War, and so far, all of the battles he has fought have been nothing but victories. I'll have to notify Starfleet HQ and let them decide what to do about this, but if this issue goes public, the Federation congress will vote for liberating Betazed, of that I have no doubt."

* * *

In his quarters, Ares spends the next 2 hours trying to locate ambassador Troi, when he finally gets her, she's on earth. Trying, well, begging actually, for help to mount an offensive that will release her world from the dominion grip. He contacts her at the Betazed embassy.

"I need to talk to her." Ares says to one of the embassy aides. "I'm sorry sir, but she's very busy."

Ares doesn't take it well. Transporting himself to where the aide is, grabs him by the shirt and says, "Either you take me to the ambassador, or you're going to spend the rest of your life as a cripple. Without arms or legs OR tongue."

The noise attracts Mrs. Troi, who asks, "Who is this handsome stranger?"

Ares drops the aide on his butt, and walks to Lwaxana. Mr. Hom, tries to stop him, but he just picks him up and moves him out of the way. Lwaxana says, "I'm always very impressed with such a strong and attractive man, but," pulling out a phaser, "if you come closer, I'll fire."

"Go ahead," he says. "Fire if you want." And he continues advancing. She tells him "This is on stun so it won't hurt you much." Then fires. Ares continues advancing. Lwaxana, a little worried now, retreats and tells him, "I've increased the setting to kill, this is your last warning." Since he doesn't stop she fires closing her eyes, expecting not to find anything left, but when she opens them, it is to see the smiling and handsome face of the God of War.

He grabs the phaser from her hand and tells her "Don't worry, I'm not here to harm you in any way. I am Ares." He introduces himself, and after he does, she apologizes, inviting him to her personal quarters. Once there, she asks him "What can I do for you sir? I've heard many wonderful things that you have done, victories that you have pulled seemingly out of thin air for the Klingon fleet on DS9."

"The rumors are inaccurate," Ares says. "The Klingon fleet achieved those victories using their own courage and skills, I just leveled the battlefield a little. But now I will pull an impossible victory, I have a plan to liberate Betazed, and soon. To achieve it I'll need your complete and unconditional cooperation."

"No matter what, I'll do it." She answers. "Anything, any time, anywhere."

"I need two things from you, your telepathic abilities to send a message to Betazed, and your diplomatic influence on the Federation congress. I need them to assign at least the USS Ares to this mission, giving it Starfleet support."

"Consider it done," she says with determination. "There are many members of the congress who owe me, one way or another I'll get the support; they aren't going to approve a fleet to liberate Betazed, but giving us one ship? They'll do it." She then asks with a seductive voice, "Is there anything else you require?"

"As a matter of fact, yes there is," he answers. "I will need money in order to hire transport ships, the ground troops that will assist the citizens on Betazed to get rid of the invading forces."

"Money is a little difficult, but if you give me some time, three days, I'll get my hands on some real money for your needs. And since I'll need those three days to make sure that at least one ship gets assigned on this mission, I'll try to get the U.S.S. Ares, but if it's impossible, I'll get you another one."

"OK," Ares says nodding. "I'll be back in three days."

(*) The crossed sword was marked as Ares symbol in H:TLJ episode 'Ares'

Part II
The battle for breathing room (or How do you fit 1000 klingons in a compact ship?)

Two days later, Ares and Martok plan the deployment of forces that will accompany them to Betazed. "I'm fairly sure that the Dominion knows we'll make a push against one of their positions," the klingon says. "But Betazed should not be high on the list of suspected targets."

"I've also been contacting all commercial pilots that reach the station," comments the GOW. "Each day, more klingons are taking the locket and volunteering for this mission. Even with all the ships, there isn't enough room."

"Have you heard the news from the council?" Martok asks. "They ignored you at first, and now it's too late for them to stop you. I received a communication from Gowron, who has stated his confidence in our force stationed on DS9. That's politician language for, 'IF Ares fails, it will be the end of Martok as well."

"It's not a laughing matter," Ares says, "Those 189 klingon battleships that have been mobilized for this mission, even packing them to the rafters, they can't carry more than 1,000 troops per ship on average. And your estimates have been exceeded, there are about 320,000 warriors, in and around DS9, Bajor and the bajoran moons, and they all want a piece of this campaign."

"But how can we leave anyone behind? How can we choose who goes and who stays?" Martok says. "I don't even know 1 in every 100, it's impossible for me to choose with any objectivity. If you force me to choose, those who remain will feel excluded."

"And that is exactly what I want to avoid," adds Ares. "This victory is to put the Empire in a better position. It won't happen if people are divided between 'those who went, and those who stayed.' There has to be a way to bring them all."

They decide to call it a night and go to Quark's to enjoy a cup of blood-wine or three. After a few drinks, they see that Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir are playing darts, and Martok asks Ares if he'd like to challenge them, Ares nods and they go to the pair, saying "Hi, would you like a competition, the two of us against the two of you."

"I hardly think it would be fair," Bashir says. "Not when one person on the other team is a 'superior being'."

Ares laughs at this and says, "I promise not to use my godlike abilities, though we are evenly matched, I've never played with darts, and I'm pretty sure neither has Martok. You Doctor, on the other hand are genetically enhanced, all in all, it seems pretty fair."

Miles says "Why not?"' and the game begins. An hour and six games later, they are tied 3 games per team, and Ares has commented on his dilemma on how to choose the ones that are being left behind.

Miles scratches his head, he's been drinking genuine Irish whiskey, courtesy of the GOW, and feels a little light headed. He comments, "Well, maybe you can't take them all, but if their patterns get stored on the pattern buffer of a transporter, and then saved, they wouldn't occupy any space. And there would be a great advantage in not having to feed all those hungry klingons during the trip."

Ares asks "Is that possible chief?"

"Well, I knew one guy who survived over 70 years in that fashion,"(*) Miles answers. "Of course, the man was a living legend, but with the procedure established, I might be able to modify the transporters and make it possible."

"You're hired then." Ares tells him. "I'll arrange for you to board the Rotarran and do the procedure."

"Hold it!" O'Brien says raising his hand. "I've got enough work, and besides, he's not working for you, you pagan!"

"No you're not," the Olympian tells him. "You're working to end the war on the winning side, as are all of us. If you help, I promise you, I'll put a good word with a friend of yours. the name of this friend is Michael, and he's an Archangel."

"So, now you know an angel." Julian says laughing.

"ARCH Angel!" Ares corrects him with a smile.

"If you're ready to make up such preposterous lies," Miles says with a grin, "then you must be really desperate. "If you can clear it with captain Sisko, I'll show the engineers of the Rotarran how its done."

"Why did you withstand them laughing?" Martok asks after the two humans leave. "You could have blasted them into atoms."

"Time has taught me patience," Ares answers. "And I'll make sure that you're present, when I introduce Michael to Mr. O'Brien."

The next day, after a visit to Julian for a remedy for his hangover, Chief O'Brien checks his duty assignment for the day, and finds it empty. He goes to ops and asks Captain Sisko, "Did I do something wrong?"

"Not that I know," answers Ben, "Why do you ask?"

"It seems that I don't have any work scheduled for today."

"Oh that!" Exclaims the captain. "General Martok has requested your help on the transporter system of the Klingon Fleet."

"Damn!" Miles says nodding, "I've forgotten. I'll report to the Rotarran."

That same day, Ares goes to talk with Ambassador Troi, in her embassy. She's actually waiting for him, as soon as he arrives she informs him "Everything is ready, I have in my hand orders for the U.S.S. Ares to join the Klingon attack force on their journey to Betazed, and in my quarters I have a large amount of gold pressed latinum bars."

Ares smiles at her, and with a wave of his hand, Lwaxana, the latinum and himself are transported to his quarters on DS9.

Mrs. Troi goes to Admiral Ross office, to give him the orders issued by Starfleet command to the USS Ares, while the GOW seeks Martok, wanting to know how long until all the ships have the 'improved' transporter systems. Martok tells him that, in order to make this easier, O'Brien explained the procedure on a holosuite to all the klingon engineers, and if they work around the clock, everything will be ready within 24 hours.

(*) Miles is referring, of course, to Captain Scott, in the ST:TNG episode 'Relics'

Part III
Marching to battle (or 'Come on, you apes! You wanta live forever?' (*))

"The transportation system has been completely modified on all the ships," Martok announces in a conference room on DS9, Ares, Worf, Lwaxana and Simon are present. "That's enough to allow close to 300,000 warriors to be transported. The rest will be ferried on the hired transport ships, paid with Ambassador Troi's money."

"Excellent!" exclaims Ares. "I will be jumping from ship to ship, but the USS Ares more advanced sensor system will be the eyes of the operation. I want the 25 most powerful battle cruisers in the front and in the flanks. They won't be carrying extra klingons in their pattern buffers, leaving them more energy in their weapons and shields. Their job is to engage any and all threats that come close to the fleet. No enemy ships are to get near the fleet. Any ship that comes close is to be destroyed, no matter the cost. Let's move."

While a Cardassian squadron does attack at one point, they turn tail when they realize the size of the invading force. They retreat back to their closest stronghold. When they are still 20 hours away from Betazed, Ares appears on his namesake ship, and contacts Lwaxana, telling her to come to the observation lounge. Once there, they close their eyes, and Ares lets his power flow out of him, and into her mind. This increases her telepathic abilities a hundredfold. Along with power, he gives her control and focus. Any other way and she'd lose her mind.

She sends a message directly to the minds of the people she's familiar with on Betazed, people she has known for years. She is crestfallen to realize that just how many have died in the last few months. While physically crying, she still sends the message that Ares gave her.

"This is Ambassador Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. "I know that you are surprised to hear from me, but with some help, I am bypassing the anti-telepathic grid that the Dominion installed around our home world. "I am reaching you with a message of hope! In about 24 hours, an attack fleet of klingon ships will arrive on Betazed, when we arrive, the mighty god of war Ares will shut down every energy source and devise on the planet. All weapons, all scans, all methods of control that the invaders have devised, will cease to work. That will be the moment to rise against the oppressors.

"But you won't have energy weapons either. You have one day to prepare. Replicate swords, pikes, knives, axes, anything and everything that will do damage to a surprised enemy. And saying a prayer to the God of War, would be helpful as well. I'll be updating every four hours on our progress. Inform others, be ready and be well, Lwaxana Troi signing out."

When she finishes, she almost faints, even with the extra power from Ares, this is one of the most difficult things she has done. Ares takes her to her quarters and then reports the success to Captain Andoni and General Martok. He then reminds them to be on guard for any counterattack by the Dominion forces. He retires as well. When he enters his quarters, he finds himself alone again with Commander Angeles Trevi.

He ignores her for the moment, going to sit on his throne/chair. "Are you all right?" She asks and he nods. "Do you think this invasion will work?" she asks again, and he nods. "We haven't seen each other in quite a while." And again, he just nods. "Are you playing games with me?" she asks becoming upset. Ares chuckles, and nods. She screeches and tries to slap him, but he catches her hand pulls and she falls into his lap, kissing her deeply without saying a word.

Unfortunately for them, the intercom says, "Admiral Ares, report to the bridge. Commander Trevi, report to the bridge."

"Those are the pressures of command." Says the first officer.

With a growl, Ares dresses them both, and they leave for the bridge, when they arrive, Andoni informs them, "The squadron of Cardassian ships has returned, and they have company, 12 Jem'Hadar ships are closing on our position."

"I think this is a way for the Dominion to investigate just how serious this incursion is." Ares says. "Has Starfleet found a way to jam the communication signals of the Dominion?"

"Our intelligence reports have some theories," Commander Cruzeiro tells them, "But the results aren't definite."

"Forget it then," Ares says. "Tell Martok to order the battle cruisers to engage the enemy."

The formation of the attack wing is different than normal, but given the way that the Jem'Hadar ships engage in kamikaze tactics, it's justifiable. The wings attack in groups of five, leaving themselves more vulnerable to long distance attacks, but almost impossible to be rammed.

After 15 minutes, Cruzeiro reports, "The enemy is beaten, three klingon cruisers have been destroyed, and two more are badly damaged."

"The core of the fleet is intact." Comments Simon. "That is the most important thing."

As they continue advancing, Ares continues to help Lwaxana send message updates to the people on Betazed. The final instructions are to take alive any Cardassian that surrenders, try to take alive the Vorta, but show no mercy to the Jem'Hadar. No matter what happens, every single Jem'Hadar soldier must die, there is no room for them as prisoners.

As they enter the Betazed system, they see the whole fleet of Dominion ships surrounding Betazed prime. "Well, my warriors," says Ares "Lets go! Do you want to live forever?" With that, he engages his powers throughout the sector, leaving the entire solar system powerless, except for life support and transport.

(*) From the Novel Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein

Part IV
Battle won (Or 'Battle report anyone?')

The battle over Betazed is won, but the cost was higher than expected. The dominion, aware of Ares' tactics outfitted their soldiers with nasty weapons. They used blades with hooks and saws, more to hurt than to kill. Other unfair tactics included causing breeches on their own ships, suffocating themselves, along with the enemy. They also destroyed the gravitational grid on their ships, leaving the surprised Klingon attackers disoriented enough to be killed.

But Ares and his followers had prevailed in orbit, and the betazoids had prevailed on land. With the disconnection of the anti-telepathic grid, they had become an angry mob. Armed with only blades and spears, they had been undisciplined, but coordinated. The Jem'Hadar and Cardassians had been expecting an invasion from orbit, but they had certainly not expected the peaceful betazoids to revolt on masse. Though casualties staggering for the telepaths, by the next day, the only building that still remained in Dominion, hands was their Command Headquarters. an almost impregnable complex defended by over 2,000 Jem'Hadar soldiers, armed to the teeth, with both energy weapons and blades.

Ares, on board his namesake ship, is exhausted. He knows he can't keep the anti-technological field up much longer, but also knows that if he drops it while the Dominion still controls their HQ, they'll be able to destroy parts of Betazed before they can be evicted. "Lwaxana," he says, "tell your troops to hurry! They've got to find the weak point in that building... and fast! I'm on my last legs."

Mrs. Troi does just that, but on planet leader replies, "The complex is too heavily fortified ma'am. Even if we launch suicide attacks, the Jem'Hadar can keep us out for weeks."

After she relays the information, Ares says, "That's not good enough, every fortress has a weak point. In my time many fortresses fell, because of treason, but others fell when a brave group of soldiers went inside, the worst way possible. Think! If a building has running water, it has a sewer system. Use it to open the gates and storm the HQ, and do it NOW!"

Lwaxana relays those orders, and 10 minutes later, a team of 12 have been assembled and sent to the sewers. Lightly armed, only with knives and hand axes. When they are in position, they signal the main attacking force, and the brave betazoids send hundreds of men to their deaths attacking the front gate. While the Jem'Hadar are busy, the group enters the fortress, heading directly for the main gate. Once there, they remove the restraints, allowing the outside force in.

Within 30 minutes it's over. The Vorta committed suicide, his last words being, 'Death before capture! All glory to the Founders!'

That ends the battle for Betazed. When Ares finally ends his anti-technological field, he feels all the energy raised by the battle come to him, making him stronger than before. He's also finds himself extremely tired. Even so, he, along with captain Andoni and General Martok, beam down to the surface with Ambassador Troi. They go directly to the former Dominion HQ, once again Betazed Government Center.

"What in the darkest hell is that still doing there?" asks Lwaxana more than just irritated seeing the Dominion banner still on top of the building, "This building served as the Central Government of Betazed, why hasn't it been removed?"

"It is stuck, ma'am!" Answers a young man. "We can't get it down."

"My Lord, could you...?" Lwaxana asks Ares leaving it hanging there.

Ares smiles and nods, moving his hand in a chopping motion, the flag is ripped from the flagpole, coming down to the floor, but before it can reach the ground, Ares opens his palm, and it bursts to flames. All those gathered there cheer in approval.

Lwaxana raises her hands, calling for silence. When the crowd falls silent, she says, "This victory today, would not be possible without those who came to Betazed to release our dear planet, Starfleet," pointing at Andoni; "the Klingon Empire," pointing at Martok; "but it specially, it wouldn't be possible if not for the God of War, Ares."

Then she kneels before him adding, "If you wish it, join me in this prayer of thanks for the freedom that he has brought to us; freedom to choose if we thank him or not."

Then she prays:

"To Ares

Ares, exceeding in strength, chariot-rider, golden-helmed, doughty in heart, shield-bearer,

Saviour of cities, harnessed in bronze, strong of arm, unwearying, mighty with the spear,

O defence of Olympus, father of warlike Victory, ally of Themis, stern governor of the rebellious, leader of righteous men, sceptred King of manliness, who whirl your fiery sphere among the planets in their sevenfold courses through the aether wherein your blazing steeds ever bear you above the third firmament of heaven; hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth!

Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul.

Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death." (*)

When she ends, she sees that a lot, not everyone, but many, have kneeled and joined her in the prayer. Then she sees someone coming running at her, shouting at the top of his little lungs, she again kneels and embraces this person, who has been calling "Mommy, mommy!" from a long distance. With tears in the eyes of both, they embrace, he saying only 'Mommy' and she answering "My son, my baby, my little Odan".(**) She then looks at Ares and says again "Thank you". But this time she's thanking him for herself, not for the planet. Ares, realizing this, simply nods.

(*) Thanks to Sharon for the prayer: "Hymn of Ares" by Homer.
(**) Lwaxana Troi was pregnant during the ST:DS9 episode 'The Muse'. Curious note, on that episode, 'the Muse' was played by Meg Foster, Hera.

Part V

Battle against the council (or 'What is a corrupt Klingon like you, doing in a council like this?')

Ares beams back to the Rotarran along with Martok, and is pleased to hear the report of Alexander, "We received notice that the Empire and the Federation will send a team of engineers to modify and refit the 143 captured Jem'Hadar ships. They'll even use the space dock that the Dominion was beginning to build."

"Good!" Exclaims Martok. "The addition of those ships to our alliance will strengthen our position against the Dominion."

"Set course for Kronos Prime," Ares tells Martok, "it's time for me to meet the Klingon High Council."

"What do you plan to do?" The general asks.

"By the time we arrive, every klingon in the empire will have heard of this victory," the GOW answers. "Then I'll be able to put the council where it belongs."

Martok then rises from his command chair, and faces the GOW, saying "What do you mean by that?"

"The Empire is full of corruption, general. The council members are the most notorious thieves in the Alpha Quadrant. Or am I wrong?"

Martok growls, but try as he might, he is unable to disagree, "No, you're right, for a long time I've known it. When I rose thru the ranks of the army, I witnessed hundreds of bribes, thievery and sometimes even assassinations." Finally he sits again and asks again, "What did you mean by 'putting the council where it belongs'?"

"I can read minds," Ares answers "I can reach deep into the hearths of people and find their deepest most denied secrets. What I've found is that inside the soul of the most villainous person, there is decency and the desire to do the right thing.

"I can give the council a fresh start, a reason to turn away from the corruption that has seized them. I'll be able to do what emperor Khaless has been trying to for 6 years. But I have another advantage over emperor, Khaless, he is mortal, and he has to play politics with the council. I don't. I don't have to show mercy and I don't have to give explanations. I assure you, the council will turn away from their evil ways and on to the honorable path that is their birthright."

"I wish it would be that easy," Martok tells him. "But Chancellor Gowron won't back away easily, he had to fight his way to his position, and isn't likely to just give up all the privileges that he has won."

"Tell me general, are the council members true klingons?"

"They are." Martok nods

"Then that is all is needed."

* * *

It takes them 12 days to reach Kronos Prime, during that time, the imperial information net has relayed the victory of Martok and Ares to all the empire. A message from Helena on Earth informs them that she has been dispatching terran priests to the klingon worlds, in order to mark those who are found worthy with his symbol.

"Graduating new priest for your lordship's order is something dangerous," she tells him during a long range communication. "But I'll make sure that all of them know that they are assuring their place in the after-life, but also the price for disobedience is not pretty."

"You're my high priestess, Helena," he tells her. "I leave it to you."

* * *

They reach the Klingon solar system, and enter in orbit around Kronos, beaming directly to the council chamber. Once they are in the High Council Chamber, Gowron says. "The High Council gives welcome to the victorious Martok, but what have you brought with you? This human is not welcome here, this is a place only for Klingons."

Ares looks around, and notices that some of the guards in the chamber are wearing the crossed sword locket, and asks the chancellor "Are these, your personal guards, klingons or not?"

Martok chuckles as Gowron answers "Yes."

Then Ares says, "I'm the god of true klingons then, and without wanting to sound like a Vulcan, isn't it logical to welcome me as well?" This statement causes many of the guards to laugh.

"Clear the room!" Yells Gowron, and the guards, honor bound to obey, exit, leaving only Martok, Ares, and the 9 members of the council. "How dare you, Martok, to bring this alien life form here, to the most sacred of all places in Kronos. What were you..."

"It's too late for that," Ares interrupts him, using his 'god' voice. "Now sit down in your comfortable chair, and shut up, the council is going to listen for a change." Gowron, unable to resist the compel of the GOW's voice, falls down on his chair.

"I am considered the god of honorable warriors," the Olympian begins. "Something you're supposed to be; but I can't tell you how ashamed I am of you. Gowron, when you were but a boy, you dreamt of taking your father's place as head of his house and bring an end to all the dishonor that you thought, he brought to the family name. Instead, let's look at what you've done, you cowardly poisoned chancellor K'mpec to take his place. (*)

"And what about you, general Otnei, you wanted to leave your family behind, and make a name for yourself in the ranks of the klingon imperial forces. You gave in to the pressures of your father, going to the officers academy. You've never seen one battle, never commanded even a unit, but that doesn't stop you from dressing down good soldiers who didn't have a father to promote them; and now, you sit on the council, taking bribes for government contracts."

He points to each and everyone of them, reminding them all of the ideals; ideals they had when they were younger. Ideals they had sworn to live by, but abandoned, because the world turned them into what they are now. "Well, its all over now," he continues. "I know, and I can prove all your dirty deeds. I can ruin you all just by opening my mouth; but I won't do it. I will reach inside the pigsty you all call heart for the young klingon that still exist there, for the young warriors who still believes in honor and duty. If you want to wear the locket, or not, that's your business, but you will no longer be corrupt. Nor will you tolerate corruption in the empire."

"You're not a god." Says Gowron getting up from his chair. "You're only another life-form who now wants to take advantage of the Klingon Empire, but I'll not bend knee to you. You can't prove to me that you're the god that leads the dead warriors to the afterlife."

"So," Ares says grabbing the chancellor by his robes. "Seeing the spirits of the dead warriors will be enough for you."

"YES!" Gowron answers shaking himself lose. "But you can't do that, can you? Because you're a fraud."

"What about the rest of you?" Inquires the Olympian. "Will seeing those who had died in this war be enough for you?" All nod, though some reluctantly. Ares nods to himself, and with a wave of his hand, the entire council disappears.

* * *

They come to what once was the Palace of Hades, now inhabited by the klingons who died believing in the war god. "Please, mingle if you want," Ares tells the council members. "Find anyone who you knew met while alive, and talk to them; I warn you however _do_not_ eat nor drink anything, if you do, you'll stay behind here, but will be expelled from the castle to the darkness of the Abyss of Tartarus."

Ares leaves them, going to Earth to review Helena's plans for the formation of the hierarchy. He comes back to the Palace three hours later, to find a very happy Martok, singing with some of his comrades that fell in the last battles, and a somewhat sullen Gowron, he knows a few of those who are here, members of the Order of the Bat'leth mostly, and he knows that this is no fraud, Ares really has brought them to the afterlife.

He takes Martok and the rest of the council members back to Kronos, where the aides were initiating a planet-wide search to find their leaders. Gowron once again clears the room, then he addresses Ares, "I'll renounce the corrupt way that the empire has been bent into, I swear I'll try to make it go straight, and give everyone a clean slate if they require it. Now I know I have a soul, just like I knew it when I was young. I don't want to lose it again. I won't convert to your worship, I won't wear a locket, but officially, I give Ares an extended welcome to Kronos anytime he wants."

The other council members echo his thoughts. The corruption problem in the empire will not be solved overnight, but the government body of the klingons, would be clean from now on. Ares takes this pledge, and says that he'll be happy for them if they resist the temptations that will come. Then he vanishes, transporting himself back to Earth, he only got a glimpse of what Helena thought appropriate for an Ares priest, and he doesn't want mistakes with the clerical canon.

* I'm choosing to think that Gowron poisoned K'Mpec during the ST:TNG episode 'Reunion', because, logically, Duras wouldn't try a bomb if he knew the Chancellor was about to die, and the bomb was from Duras.

Chapter 10
Mirror image

Part I
Out of control

Ten weeks have past since the victory at Betazed, the war seems to be going in favor of the Federation. Especially since the Romulan Star Empire broke their non-aggression pact with the Dominion. The second front is making the Cardassians thin their lines and the Federation/Klingon Alliance is making the most of it.

Ares however finds himself in trouble; in the two months since he faced down the Klingon council, his worshipers have increased geometrically. He now has more priests, than there were inhabitants in Greece at the height of his family's power. He has more temples than there were houses and more sacrifices are made to him everyday, than he got in all his time as the active war god.

'I've got to control myself,' he thinks, constantly struggling. 'This is what I always wanted, 20 billion worshipers. I can control all that power directed at me. I've always been about control. Tartarus! Who am I kidding? It's only after sex I regain a measure of calmness. I can't let what happened a few days ago repeat itself.'

"My god." Antonia interrupts his thoughts. "You've saved more lives than were lost."

"That's a small comfort for those 3 Warbirds and 4 Klingon Battle cruisers that I destroyed."

"You were just trying to help. They were engaging fifteen Jem'Hadar ships. Had you not intervened, they would've been destroyed and let the enemy walk away."

"I... destroyed... everyone..." every word was harder for him than the last. "Destroyed them and kept silent. I will not leave here until I'm in complete control of my faculties."

"My god," adds Helena this time. "You can't stop now, the Dominion is falling back to dreadful techniques. They are ordering orbital bombardments on civilian targets, they're obliterating power sources and desecrating the dead. Without you, they'll stop the advance of the new tri-alliance using terrorism."

"I know... I understand. But right now I'm like an untrained swordsman. If I go to a battle, I'll be likely to cause more harm than help..."

* * *

The next morning, he feels slightly better. He spent all night in sexual intercourse with Helena and Antonia. He fucked them until he fell in to an exhausted sleep.

Walking out of his temple to breathe Earth's peaceful air, he feels another battle start within himself. Focusing, he sees a dozen Jem'Hadar ships attacking a lightly defended Federation outpost.

"ARES PLEASE!" he hears the cries. "HELP US!" Over and over again.

"I can... I can do this!" but when he tries to access his powers, a feeling like a cascade falls over him. It seems to Ares as if he's swimming in a river of lava among mountains of ice. He attempts to control it, to forge the power into a tool he can use, but fear prevents him from grasping it. He knows if he can't control the discharge of power he'll do the Dominion job for them. After a few moments, he senses the battle is over. The outpost couldn't resist such an attack, and all lives there are lost.

"AAAAAAHHHHH!" Ares screams, raising his hands into the air, and discharges some of the accumulated power to the clouds above him. The reaction is logical, and a lightning bolt falls close to where he is. What is not logical is that a vortex opens and sucks him in before he can react, closing soon afterward.

Part II
Scorched Earth

'Where the...' Ares thinks disoriented when he emerges on the other side of the vortex. 'Not this world again!" Then, after a second he gets his head together and says out loud "I'm not feeling the pressure of the worshippers. When I crossed over the power channel must have been cut." He then realizes he's talking to himself, and orders his thoughts, 'I'm not weak. I can reopen the vortex by myself. This might just be what I need to adjust.'

Then a high-pitched scream catches his attention. Close enough to investigate. He moves thru a large deforested field, thinking: 'Humans must be more stupid than usual in this universe. This soil is ruined.' When he gets close, he hears deep laughter. The kind that he's come to associate with klingons.

Over a hill he sees a group of Cardassians and Klingons laughing over the form of a woman, "Come on, you P'tak," says one of the klingons. "We're going to have a good time with you." When he turns her around, Ares sees her face, it's the face of Helena. In a split second, his sword is in his hand and yelling a challenge begins to decapitate the offenders.

"Human!" One Cardassian screams pulling his disrupter and firing. That's the last sound he utters before the sword-wielding god cuts him down. Three more shots hit Ares before the last of the would-be rapists die.

When Helena sees all the corpses and all the blood around her, she screams again. "What have you done? Why did you do it? Now more soldiers of the Alliance will come, and they will kill me, and all my family..." She continues babbling about all the horrible things that will happen because of this act of violence.

Ares puts his hand on her mouth to shut her up and at the same time, he reads her mind. He's horrified by what he sees. This is the same alternate universe that the Federation encountered(*), the one in which the terrans are enslaved by the Cardassian/Klingon alliance, and earth is nothing more than a huge slave camp(**). "All of this is going to change Helena," he tells her. "I swear by my brother's chariot and my sister's shield, that this will be the last day that an invader sets foot on Gaia."

"Who are you? How do you know my name?" She asks him "I've never seen you before."

"I am Ares, the Olympian God." he doesn't say of War, for he knows that in this universe, his counterpart is the sissy god of Love.

Putting his hands on the soil, he looks for a hint of Gaia's location, and has to search deep, for the living spirit of the mother earth is buried deeper than he can imagine.

Eventually he finds her, and she shows, but she bears very little resemblance to the full-of-life counterpart of his universe. Here, she takes the form of a woman in her late fifties, who bears scars in her face, her hands and her feet. Her eyes... those are the worst, they're the eyes of someone who has been raped time and again. Someone who has lost all hope of ever changing what she has become.

Ares tries to embrace her, but stops himself, unsure what her reaction will be. She seems not to know who he is, or even where she is. The GOW goes to his knees, and puts his hands together, gathering some of his power, he turns it into a healing balm. He sends it to his great grandmother, never touching her. Gaia takes a deep breath, and after a few minutes, her eyes finally seem to focus on reality, and on the man that is kneeling before her.

She puts her hands on Ares shoulder, and in that moment she knows that he is NOT her great grandchild. "Thank, you, whoever you are." She says. "You're the first one to try and heal me in... an eternity."

"I know what you've gone thru," Ares tells her, "Even though I'm not from this universe, I won't let anyone hurt you again- Ever."

According to what he remembers, the former terran empire consisted of an alliance between terran, vulcans and rigellians, who were conquered by the Klingon/Cardassian alliance after the reforms instigated by the Kirk and the Spock of this universe.

He looks at the beheaded corpses around him, and separates one klingon and one cardassian head. Taking one of them in each hand, He lets his power flow through them to familiarize himself with their genetic structure.

After a few minutes, he opens his eyes, drops the heads to the ground and pulls out his sword, raising it over his head. What happens is strange for Helena. She sees the sunlight turn green, and she receives something like an empathic message. A message that tells her that this 'god' is doing this light trick. Then she realizes that it's much more than a trick, when the dead bodies around her begin to dissolve.

'I have to keep the power flowing,' Ares thinks. 'Sixteen hours until the filtered sunlight destroys the molecular structure of every klingon or cardassian in this world. I must be careful too. I'm using the sunlight to deliver a message. Must let the slaves know what's happening and why it's happening. Otherwise, when the planet is purged of invaders, the slaves will turn on one another, and they'll use the alliance weapons. No, the terrans must be thinking rationally and have a new sense of purpose: To remain free, no matter the cost, and use the enemy's equipment to achieve their purpose.'

Then, as he extends his senses, Ares realizes what he's done won't be enough. He sets out to power down all the ships in orbit, The two space stations in earth orbit, and Luna City on the moon. He can't divert his attention from what he's doing, but he's going to make all the invaders pay, and it will be sooner rather than later.

As the last of the invaders die, the GOW realizes that his anger gave him enough focus to do this, something that he'd lacked in his own universe. Then he feels the praise being sent to him from all over the world. He REALIZES that he couldn't feel them as long as he was otherwise engaged. But what he's feeling is different, is a strange sensation, he can sense the worship, but it doesn't affect him, at least not in the way that they would in his universe. Then he knows that these prayers of thanks aren't directed to him, but to his twin on this universe, the sissy God of Love.(***)

(*) The 'mirror' universe was shown first in the ST episode 'Mirror, Mirror.'
(**) The enslaved humans in the mirror universe were from the ST:DS9 episode 'Crossover'.
(***) The Ares God of Love is from the Hercules: TLJ episode 'Stranger in a Strange World'

Part III
White Clad Ares

"Where is the sissy boy that calls himself Ares," the GOW asks Gaia.

"I don't know," she answers. "I haven't seen him in over 2,500 years."

"That distorted copy of mine must not have departed with the others when they were driven off the planet. I don't understand why he hasn't done anything about this invasion, but locating him will be easy. This surge of power directed at him will make him shine like a nova."

Helena meanwhile, is more than just a little bewildered, her mind cannot begin to comprehend who this handsome man, all clad in black leather is, but she feels like she should know him.

"Don't worry, my child." Ares says when he again notices her. "I'll take care of everything." Then he transports her to her house, a small hut close by. But the GOW doesn't stop there, and transforms the hut into a comfortable house. It's big enough for at least a dozen. He also has provided them with food, so that she and her family can have their first decent meal in a very long time.

Helena hears the voice of the GOW, telling her, "I'll come back for you, and you will serve me, and only me."

After he transports her, the GOW begins to search with his mind, trying to find his twin. He finds him almost immediately, but then loses him. 'That was weird!' he thinks. He sets to find him again, and the situation repeats itself. He finds the GOL, only to lose him a few moments before the location can be pinpointed.

The black clad god decides not to play this game, and sends a message that will reach all Olympians living on earth, and since the GOL is the only one, he will hear it, loud and clear. The message is short, "You sissy boy! If you don't get you're ass here, I'll find you and spank you. You have 1 minute to comply."

Given the options, the GOL shows himself in a shower of rose petals. As soon as he sees the face of his alternate universe twin, he says, "OH, I'm so sorry, I should have come sooner, but I was afraid of who was calling me; this last few hours have been very exciting, I didn't delight in the pain that the oppressors felt when they died, but most of the world was praising ME for the liberation."

The GOW shuts him up by drawing his sword and telling him "If you don't stop babbling, I'll cut a very important part of your anatomy: YOUR TONGUE!"

The GOL just raises his hands and keeps quiet. "Give me a minute," bearded Ares says, "I still have to eliminate the invaders outside the planet. The ones on the orbital shipyard, the two space stations, the city in the moon, and the ships around the world. They still need to be wiped out.

Then the GOW 'sees' something strange as he begins eliminating the remaining Klingons and Cardassians in the solar system. In this universe there is an atmosphere on Mars. The air is very low quality, and will cause death if its breathed for long, but is breathable. 'Something happened here, that hasn't in my universe.' He mutters to himself. "There are invaders on Mars as well," he comments to the love god. "And I have to kill them as well, this will only take a minute or so."

The GOL can only nod dumbly, 'How come he's got that much power?' he thinks. 'If we're supposed to be the same, I should have the same power, but even with the recharge I just received, I have only a small fraction. Why?'

"All done," the war god says, then adds, almost pulling his hair out from the roots. "OH FUCK!! Damn, if things still work the same way they did the first time I came here, I've just killed a few million klingons that just might be my worshipers in my universe. SHIT!"

"You've got... klingon worshippers?" asks the GOL.

"Must think calmly. Yes, breathe." Says the war god, putting his advise in effect. "This is not the same time, things don't work the same. The Benjamin Sisko of this universe is dead, while the Sisko on my side is still the same annoying bastard. There is a chance that the dying-in-both-universes-at-the-same-time rule doesn't apply anymore.

"First things first." He adds, turning to his twin. "You need to let the terrans know what really happened to calm them, violence is beginning to rise from the celebrations. I'll activate the communication array and you'll address the just liberated slaves."

"I can't address a crowd! I'm too shy!"

"This is your universe. you'll have to take responsibility for the events that are happening. I won't be here to solve all the problems, but maybe you should include in the speech the fact that Gaia is beginning to heal."

"W-what do you mean by that?" The GOL asks.

"No time, the communication begins in 3 seconds, two, one."

The GOL clears his throat, and says, "I am Ares. The Olympian. I have ridden earth of invaders. I ask for all the inhabitants of the terran system, those on and off planet to calm down. I'll need time to solve most problems, but right now, the most important part is not to destroy the invaders equipment. It holds the key to the continual freedom of this solar system.

"You should take this opportunity not to do violence unto our fellow children of Earth, nor vulcans, nor rigellians, nor all the other races that were enslaved by the Alliance. We must work together to remain free. I'm doing what is necessary to restore earth to the beautiful world that it was once." Taking that as cue, the GOW releases a strong surge of power to Gaia and through the crust of the earth. The power flow begins to dissolve the pollution on land, ocean and air. It doesn't disappear immediately, but the effects are beginning to show. "What you're seeing now," continues the white clad Ares, "is a clear sky! Those of you by the ocean, can see it as a shadow of what it was, but a promise of what will be again.

"For the moment, the solar system is secure, and I'll keep it that way, but I need your help. I need your worship, I need your prayers. This cleaning of mother Earth will give you something real to believe in, something bigger than yourselves; something, to unite you all again."

"I'm impressed by how good a sissy like you handled that," Ares GOW says, ending the communitation. "Maybe there is hope for you after all; not that there is an option really. You will have to take matters into your own hands, whether you can do it, or not.

"Just what in Tartarus do you mean by that?"

"Who was the god of the forge in this universe?" The GOW asks, ignoring the question.

Gaia beats the GOL, coming out of her revaire of healing and says "Winged-feet Hermes, of course."

Ares GOW smiles at this, trying to imagine his beach-loving brother in a forge, working with his muscles, instead of showing them off. "OK then, let's go there." When the GOL asks why, the black clad god answers, "We'll need what's in there, the sword of Cupid."

"Why? It's broken."

"I knew that!" Exclaims the wargod, not answering the question immediately. "I might not be the god of the forge in my own universe, but I can find my way in one, and with enough power, I'll forge the Sword of War anew, and with it, you, sissy, white clad, beardless god of love, will become the brand new God of War."

Part IV
In the forge

"No, no, no, no, no, no!" Ares GOL says when he hears what his twin has planned for him. "Not possible, no way, no..."

"Do you think I'm giving you an option?" Interrupts the bearded god. "Now, take it like a man and let's go to Hermes' forge."

"There is no way in Tartarus I'm picking up the mantle of war!" Says the love god. "I'd have to be insane to take Cupid's sword."

The GOW is about to grab his counterpart, but some instinct tells him that it would be a bad idea, but he doesn't really know why. He tries to reason with the love god instead. "You just promised the inhabitants of Gaia, that the invaders wouldn't return. The Alliance won't be pleased with the liberation of this system, if they return, they'll come looking for blood.

"The mortals need a protector, at least until they learn to defend themselves. You're the god of love, and love can be something wonderful, something powerful, something so passionate, that it can only compare to war.

"The only thing that will stop the Alliance is a God of War. Someone who can unite all the terrans under his banner, who can teach them how to be proud again, instead of the beaten, broken and pathetic race that they have become."

The GOL seems a little doubtful, and the GOW presses, his advantage. "Take me to the forge. We can continue our discussion there."

The GOL reluctantly agrees, and after saying goodbye to Gaia, who kept silent, feeling for the first time in centuries a sense of calmness, they both depart in a shower of rose petals. The forge of Hermes is inside a volcano, just like Hephaestus', but now, it lies dormant.

The GOW 'carefully' reactivates it, he doesn't want an explosion to devastate everything within several kilometers.

"How do you have so much control?" The GOL asks impressed.

"In my own universe," black clad Ares begins, "I have over one-billion worshippers. That gives me a lot of stored power. The same can be yours, if you just grab it."

"You're lying thru your teeth, brother mine. What's the catch."

"The catch, as you call it," the GOW answers while placing the two pieces of the broken sword in the fire, "is learning how to control your increasing abilities. Something I didn't really manage on my side of the vortex."

"You've shown very fine control so far."

"I'm not in my universe," the GOW answers. "The flow of power directed at me, has been cut, allowing me to better control my abilities. Combine that with the rage I felt when I saw the invaders on Earth, it was enough for me to focus and destroy them. The funny part is, what helped most, was the restoration I did on Gaia."

"That is not such a big surprise," the GOL comments. "Creating something is a lot harder than destroying it."

"What did you just say?" Asks the GOW when the words penetrate his brain, shocking him enough to stop working.

"I just said that creating something is a lot harder than destroying it."

"You sissy, you've found the answer! I've been bottling all the energy inside me, instead of using it in something creative. Fuck! The answer was staring me right in the face, and I didn't see it."

Beginning a new, he swings the hammer down on the sword more eagerly, adding, "This must be fate, I had to come here, to this universe to learn how to control my powers, and thanks to you, I've done it. You'll have the same problem, you know? Fortunately, you have lots of things to repair in this twisted universe. So, are you going to do it? Take your position as GOW I mean?"

"I'm a lover, not a fighter," The GOL says, scratching his head. "But you're right, love has started wars, crumbled empires and brought great men low. I guess I've always been a fighter, I just didn't know it."

"Even if you weren't, you'd have to learn, otherwise there wouldn't be a world left for you to be the God of Love."

White clad Ares sighs in defeat. This final argument of his dark twin is nothing but accurate. If this world was to survive, it would need a WAR god. "Does it mean necessarily that I'll have to stop being the God of Love?"

"I don't know. I am, and always have been, a passionate being, and sometimes, I think, lust can be confused with love. But no matter what else, you'll have to stop behaving the way you do. You can't command respect being a sissy." One last swing of the hammer and he adds, "OK. I'm finished, the Sword of War is good as new. But it's powerless; it will need a high burst of energy from the one that is claiming it: That means YOU!"

"I'm afraid... war god, I never thought... ok, I'll take the challenge!" He takes the recently forged sword, and asks "What am I to do with it?"

"We'll cross swords," the black clad Ares answers. "I'll begin the process of infusing the mended one with energy from my universe. It will act as a start-up, but you'll have to follow thru." When the Love God nods, they begin.

After a few seconds there is an explosion. The volcano errupts, despite the power that the GOW set to avoid it. Both gods are literally dumped on their asses several kilometers away. When he comes back, the GOW doesn't see his counterpart right away. After a few moments, his head clears enough to look for him.

When he finds him, the former GOL is still groggy, but slowly getting up, and when their eyes meet, there is something else behind the dark brown mirrors of the love god, a new understanding of gore and violence. The white clad Ares shakes his head, and says, "I wish I hadn't accepted this deal." Then he sighs adding, "what is done, is done. I'll be the God of War of this universe, and protect this planet and all the mortals that have found themselves enslaved by the Alliance."

Part V
Helena

"Ok now, it's time for me to go." Says the bearded Olympian.

"Do you have to? I could learn a lot from you."

"I'm needed in my own universe. If circumstances were different, I'd gladly stay and teach you. I have a war to deal with on my side so I've got to go." The new war god nods and transports them both to the devastated forest, where it is easier to open the vortex to the other universe.

"You'll need a temple," comments the black clad god. "This'd be the ideal place for it."

"I agree, hum... Gaia!" the white clad calls.

"For the first time in an eternity," she says appearing, "I'm enjoying being myself, what is so important?"

"I need your blessing for this place. I'd like to build a temple here."

"Very well, I cannot deny this to my last great grandson." She smiles and spreads her hands in blessing, adding her own increasing strength to regenerate the area surrounding them.

Both gods draw their swords, and focus power thru them, directing the energy towards the field. When the flash ends, a beautiful temple is standing there. It's a temple to the god of war, of that there is no doubt, but it is more beautiful than any temple dedicated to war has ever been. The black clad Ares provided the requirements, and his white clad twin provided the beauty.

"I guess this is it. Oh wait, You'll need a head priestess, to inhabit this temple and worship you, and I got the perfect candidate." He locates Helena with his mind, and sends her a message. The fact that they were connected when he saved her from the rape makes it easier to locate her and establish the link.

* * *

When Ares summons reach her, Helena is eating all that she hadn't been able to for the past 30 years. But when she hears the voice of that strange man that saved her, asking her to come to a place, very close, bringing nothing but faith and desire to serve she eaggerly decides to go. She takes one last swig of wine, and prepares to depart.

"What the hell are you doing?" Her sister asks.

"Ares is summoning me. I have to go."

"Is he really?" She asks excited. "Then I want to go as well!"

"As do I!" says her brother.

All of her family wants to go, but she says, "The Olympian god summoned me and only me, if anybody else shows, it might be displeasing, and you don't really want to displease our savior, do you?" When only silence answers, she leaves.

* * *

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" asks the new GOW. "The Xena of this universe was a manipulative, cold-blooded, machiavellian, murderous, back stabbing, betraying and thieving bitch. She never loved anyone in her life. To make her descendant my high priestess? It's a bad idea."

"She's very little like her ancestor," the black clad Ares answers. "She will serve you, willingly and well.

Just then, Helena arrives. She sees the woman that appeared out of nowhere after her attempted rape and that the strange god healed. Even stranger, there are two identical men there, the only difference between them is that one is dressed in black and the other in white. She also notices that the one clad in white lacks a beard. She really doesn't know what to do and just coughs to call attention to herself.

The one clad in black smiles at her, and tells her, "My twin is the one that you'll be serving, Helena. He's the god that liberated this world and will keep it free."

"And, and what should I do? Who is the other woman?"

"I'm Gaia," the earth goddess says smiling, "and kneeling might be a good start, if you plan to serve as priestess for Ares, my great grandson."

Helena smiles as well and quickly goes to her knees, asking "Will I be required to say a dedication prayer or formula to accept my priesthood?"

"Yes." The beardless Ares says, beginning to change his mind about her, 'She's smart all right,' he thinks. "Have you come willingly? Are you willing to dedicate your life, body and soul to the service of your master."

"Yes master, I have and I will."

"Do you understand this is a lifetime commitment? There won't be a way to turn back. You'll be renouncing everything you've ever known for me."

"All I've known is pain and suffering." She answers. "I gladly forego my past, hoping that the future you bring, is better, my master."

"Then rise, and kiss me." HE kisses her deeply, and a brilliant light surrounds them both. When the light show ends, she's dressed in a virginal white tunic, and bears the mark of Ares on her right forearm, a blue sword. Gaia also goes to her and kisses her on the cheek, saying, "I also put my mark upon you," On her left forearm, a tree appears. "Wear it proudly, High Priestess."

Unknown to them, the dark Ares is broadcasting this little ceremony to all channels on the planet. 'Smile, Ares,' he thinks to his counterpart. 'You have to give yet another speech to your waiting fans.'

'You... backstabbing, conniving, son of a...' The new GOW thinks back, mightily upset, directing a murderous look at his counterpart. 'OK. I know what the people love.'

His speech is very short, plagiarizing from many of the great speakers, Henry V, Napoleon, Hitler, Khan... the same heroic speeches that soldiers have loved since civilization began The difference is that it is being delivered by the God of War, and he'll keep his promises. He asks only that they remain faithful to him. Taking a page from his twin's book, he also makes a threat. If they are not faithful, if mankind turns on him, he'll make sure that they don't survive to regret it.

"I'm impressed," says the dark Ares when he ends the transmission. "I really didn't think that a sissy like you, could've realized that this culture will need a strong hand to survive, for the next few decades at least. They won't be ready for a self sustaining government for that long, at least."

Chapter XI
Section 31

"Now, I really have to go," says the black clad Ares. "I'm pretty tired, these last 3 days have been pure Tartarus. So, good bye to you." With a snap of his fingers, he opens the vortex and jumps in, thinking, 'The task of liberating every human in this universe won't be easy, but by the looks of things, the new god of war will be up to the task.'

As he arrives on the other side, he immediately feels the surge of energy directed at him. If he hadn't been prepared for it, its likely that it would have overwhelmed him in seconds. As it is, the worship he receives revitalizes him.

Entering his temple, he begins humming a happy tune. 'This is strange,' he thinks. 'There's nobody around, why isn't somebody here to receive me?'

Searching through the temple complex with his mind, he finds neither Helena nor any of his priests. 'What the fuck is happening?' He wonders beginning to feel worry. 'Something bad has happened, I know it.' He feels a surge of energy in the main temple and transports himself there to find the holographic projection of a blonde man in his late thirties.

"Good day, god of war." The man says. "My name is Mr. Sloan. I'm a member of an organization that is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to protect the Federation, and its way of life (*). At the moment, you are a liability to that security."

"I am not a danger to the Federation!" speaks Ares angrily.

"Oh, I must disagree." Starts Sloan, "since we can't attack you directly, Section 31 is doing the next best thing. Unless you agree to do exactly what you're told to do from now on, something unpleasant will happen to the fools that were here."

"Just dare hurt them, you worm! I'll make you wish you hadn't been born."

"We knew that would be your first reaction." The mortal comments calmly. "So, we've taken a little insurance. Bombs have been implanted in each and everyone of your temples, on the Federation and the Klingon Empire. They will detonate soon, if an agreement is not reached. Unless we're very much mistaken that would weaken you a lot. Following that, a large publicity campaign will be set in motion. Everyone will blame you. You've ten seconds to agree."

"You think you can threaten me?" Ares growls furious, but his fury is a cold one, not like in his younger days when he would be ripping this guys insides out by now. Instead, his actions are much simpler. He stops time. 'I can't do this for long,' he thinks, 'I've to visit all my temples, locate the bombs, and throw them away.'

After that, he returns to his main temple, where the projection is frozen. As he allows time to run again, he again feels the power of his worshippers flowing through his veins. This stunt has cost him almost all his energy, but it will be worth it, with the huge amount of followers that he has, he would recover in a matter of hours.

"You only have 5 seconds, 4, 3," Sloan tells him. "2, 1. Goodbye, powerless god." Then he disappears.

Ares however, smiles to himself, and transports to where Sloan is.

"Well, I suppose you still have some power," comments the mortal. "But it's two late, each and everyone of your temples are big piles of ruins right now.

"You vastly underestimate me," answers the Olympian, "if you bother to check, you'll see that the bombs didn't go off, and the temples are still standing."

Sloan's eyes widen when he looks at his monitor and confirms that what the GOW has told him is true. He then tries to activate his self-termination implant,

"Oh no, Luther!" Growls Ares stooping the suicide attempt. "You won't get away that easily!" Then, he takes the mortal by his neck and throws him to a wall, wishing chains on his opponent's hands and feet.

Groggy but still conscious, the secret agent tries to bargain with the god of war. "If you kill me you won't be able to find the members of the Macedonian Temple. And you can't pull that information out of my brain, for I don't know myself."

Ares grins evilly, saying "I don't need any help to find Helena or the others, they are my servants. And what's more by being devoted to me, even if they are killed, I can bring them back, so death threats won't work. You, on the other hand, have no guaranty of living out the next minutes."

"It doesn't matter," Sloan tells him. "Section 31 will survive, and eventually we will find your weakness."

This time, Ares laughs openly, and lets the mortal fall on his ass on the floor. When he can control himself, he asks: "And why am I such a threat? As a matter of fact, I'm just the opposite. I'm helping in the protection of the UFP, which was losing this war before I came."

"That is irrelevant," Sloan says. "You're an unknown factor in the complex equation of this galaxy. The only sure information that we have on you is mythology, and if that is any indication, then you're bad news."

All mirth has left Ares, and he asks, "What do you really think of me?"

Sloan tries to lie, but the will of a god makes him tell the truth. Section 31 has studied the myth of the God of War; according to most sources, you were unloved by both your mother and father, you weren't revered by most Greeks, with the exception of the Spartans in their last period. You were also known as cowardly and backstabbing; your children were Fear, Deimos, and Fright, Phobos. They were always present on a battlefield. Finally, you are a god that can't exist without bloodshed and gore, and THAT is the biggest threat to and fear of the UFP."

Ares finally lets Sloan off the hook, and tells him "You can go, I won't take any action against Section 31; for most of what you said is true. In ancient Greece I couldn't survive without the violence that I inspired every summer. Now I've changed, with all the worship I'm receiving, I can be sustained indefinitely, no war needed."

Sloan slowly rises, he has already confessed partly to this god, so he tells him the rest. "Section 31 is also worried about that aspect. First, all this worship seems to have gone to your head. We know for a fact that it was the God of War that caused the multiple destruction of klingon and romulan ships in the Otarra system."

Ares can't deny that, he still feels a little guilty over the destruction that he caused. "You're right," he tells Sloan. "I did destroy those ships, but I took 10 dominion ships along for the ride, and that was because I hadn't found the right valve to let go of the pressure. Now I have it. I won't lose control anymore, I won't be a danger to the Federation Alliance."

"Even if that were true," Sloan replies, "the citizens of the Federation are scientific people, and the klingons and the Romulans are as well. They may worship you now, but when the war ends, they'll realize that you are a leech on their spiritual life, and will stop their worshiping. And what will the war god do then? Will you turn against those who are abandoning you? Or will he accept the fact that he's not needed and leave peacefully? So? Answer me! What will you do?

"And then, there is that damn 'moral renovation' of the Klingon Empire. You just don't have any idea of the plans that you're upsetting. Many of Section 31's agents in high places of the empire are beginning to quit, thinking that they are selling out their homeland. Instead of the obvious truth, that they are working for a better cause than their government could ever hope to give them."

Ares gets back in Sloan's face and puts his right hand around the agent's throat again. Then he places his left hand on the agent's forehead. Finally, he uses his powers to read Sloan's mind about the rogue agency operations in the Klingon Empire. He is more than a little shocked realizing just how many warriors were on the payroll of these suckers. Ares is about to rip out the heart of every single traitor, but then he sees that they have saved him the trouble. 8 out of every 10 warrior that sold out to the humans have committed ritual suicide. They recognized their mistakes and paid with their blood. He decided he would visit the surviving warriors that sold their souls, and give them a chance to get them back.

The one thing he is not sure about is being able to go if the mortals don't need him anymore. He had honestly never thought about it. Would the klingons turn their backs on him in the future? He would like to think that they wouldn't but then again, who knows?

"I'm not going to destroy your agency, Mr. Sloan," the GOW says, "Because your investigation on me must continue. I don't ever want to become a threat to the Federation, or the Klingon Empire. You must have a means of stopping me, but not when I'm an asset, and definitely not now, with a war in the Alpha Quadrant."

Then the god sighs, he had never thought to give the mortals such an opportunity to get rid of him. But he cannot deny that they have grown, and if they ever stop needing him, he promises himself that he'll leave. The question is, how will he know when he's no longer needed?

He locates Helena and the rest and transports them back to his temple, and takes his leave from the agent. He tells him "I've found my pressure valve, and I'll show it to the brass of Starfleet and the Klingon Command soon. You have informers in both places, so be ready for a surprise." After that, he disappears.

Chapter 12
Mars and Michellis

Part I
Preparations

As soon as they appear in the main temple, Helena cries, Praised be Ares, we're free!"

"Well, of course you are!" comes a voice, before the war god materializes. "I wouldn't leave you."

"Master!" says Antonia. "When those men dressed in black came and you didn't, we feared the worst."

"Have no fear my sweet." replies the GOW. "I'm here and I'm in control again."

Before a swarm of questions can be asked Helena takes control of the situation and says, "Everyone! Leave the Lord alone, he'll answer the questions when and if he feels like it. You have chores, go and do them."

Ares smiles to himself, remembering how Xena could bring order to disorganized troops. "Yes, everyone leave." He adds, pointing at Helena. "But you and Antonia stay, there are some things, we must... discuss." He finishes with a seductive grin.

A couple of hours later, when Ares has finished with his two priestess, Helena manages to ask, "where have you been, My Lord?"

He recounts the story of how he went to the mirror universe, and found her double. How he saved her from a gang rape and helped his own counterpart, become the god of war. When he finishes, he notices that Antonia has a very thoughtful expression on her pretty face. "What is the matter, my sweet?" He asks.

"Do not be upset with your servant," she begins, "but I have studied the scrolls of Gabrielle, in them, it clearly states that when one person died, his counterpart died at the same time. I remember general Gravus died at the same time that his counterpart was beheaded by the Sovereign - the counterpart of Hercules. And later, the Sovereign himself admitted that his family died for no apparent cause when Hera fried Hercules' Deianeira and their children."

"I have no idea why that rule doesn apply anymore," Ares says, "but I'm certain that it doesn't. Now, however, I've a bigger fish to fry."

"But my god," Helena stops him. "Who were those men that took us and what did you do to them?"

Those men belong to something called 'Section 31'," he answers. "it's a rogue organization whose purpose is to defend the Federation against all foes, and they had wrongly included me in that list."

"And what punishment did you give to them?" Helena then asks, for she's sure that attacking the Big Bad God of War and his followers is punishable by something nasty.

"You can be sure that this agency will never bother the priesthood, ever." making them believe that Section 31 is destroyed. Then he adds, "Do not concern yourself with them Helena. I need you to arrange a meeting with the religious leaders of the world, I just might need them for something. Get them all together at the same time, what I'll propose will be only for those who attend."

After saying goodbye to his loyal, and exhausted, priestess, Ares then goes to Paris. He returns to the fountain of the Archangel Michael. Once there he calls for the winged being, and when he shows up, they sit at the same cafe where they had met before to talk. Some people look strangely at them, but they assume that Ares just an excentric, for wearing all the leather, and Michael must be from some race that is not very well known.

Somehow, Michael seems to know exactly what he wants, for he has a grin on his face that he tries unsuccessfully to hide.

"I might need your help soon," Ares says to Michael "I plan to ask for the help of some of the other religions of this world, and in many of them, the figure of an angel carries a lot of weight."

"And what are you planning?" Michael asks without losing his grin. When Ares answers, the archangel laughs outloud. "I should tell you that I'll pass your request to the creator, but I'm pretty sure the answer will be affirmative. When that happens, another angel will come to your aid."

"When will I have my answer?"

"Go ahead with your plan. Call the ministers. Trust me, one of my sisters will go to you at the right moment." After saying that, he vanishes, leaving a growling Ares to pay the bill.

Interlude
Chapter 12+
Children in the War(*)

Ares is ready to go and present his plan to Starfleet Command, certain it will be the answer to his problem. But his altercation with Section 31 left him rather tired, so he decides to take a few days to recover. During his second day of rest, he hears something in a prayer that calls his attention: "Ares help me! These are children fighting in the war!"

The God of War never allowed children in the middle of a battle in Greece, and was not going to start now. Deciding to take this matter personally, he blinks to the location of the person who issued the prayer, and is amazed to find that it was Jake Sisko, and they are now both inside a holding cell.

"Sisko?" the Olympian asks confused. "You called ME?"

"War god," Jake begins, looking up. "I'd like to explain everything, but there is no time, a Dominion Battle Cruiser is about to destroy this ship, and is only crewed by children. Idiots who have a huge superiority complex."

The GOW searches with his mind throughout the ship and finds that Jake is correct, there is a Dominion vessel outside, and this vessel is piloted only by youngsters. Nodding, he transports himself to the engine room of the enemy cruiser, at almost the same time that a Federation torpedo hits it. Ares can see how a part of engineering is liquefying, causing a small explosion in the room. Almost immediately, the emergency venting room comes into action, and a force field forms to support the core whose base was destroyed by the attack.

Then, a Jem'Hadar soldier notices him and fires, but that is of no consequence for Ares, with a gesture he sends the enemy warrior crashing into a bulkhead. The rest of the engineering crew has noticed him by now, calling for a red alert and firing in the intruder's direction. The Olympian god doesn't pay them any mind, walking to the core, which causes an immediate cease fire.

"Intruder!" calls a Vorta, who came down to engineering when he heard they had been boarded. "If you destroy the reactor, you'll die alongside us, maybe it would be better if we can reach an agreement."

"Oh, I would surely survive the explosion," Ares says turning. "For I AM ARES! The god of war! But I'm willing to exchange the pleasure of blowing this ship, for the lives in that little insect outside."

"We will break pursuit at once," the pale skinned alien says, turning on his virtual devise to pass the order.

"You'd better, or I'll be back."

* * *

On the bridge of the Valiant, damage reports are coming in, with the news that the enemy is breaking-off pursuit. Ares pops-in, with Jake at his side, and all Hell breaks loose. Someone screams intruder alert; the first officer, acting commander Farris, pulls out her phaser; Acting Captain Watters tries to tackle the intruder and Nog, acting chief engineer just screams loudly. The Olympian backhands the captain with his left hand and makes a gesture with his right one, causing the phaser to fly to him and yells "Silence Ferengi!"

The navigator, acting Lieutenant Shepherd, tries to attack Ares from behind, but Jake intercepts him, with a solid punch in the jaw, knocking him out. "I've stopped the pursuit, young Sisko," Ares says. "Now I want to know just why these children are on the bridge of the ship." To further complicate matters, a security detachment enters the room. Ares just growls angrily and pushes them out with his will, sealing the door. He then repeats his question very quietly, "I want to know what is happening."

Jake looks at Watters with some contempt and tells Ares what he knows. "Me and Nog were on our way to Ferenginaar, we were attacked by a Jem'Hadar fighter, and the USS Valiant came to our rescue. When they beamed us aboard, we saw that the entire crew was composed of cadets of the Red Squad, An elite training squad of the Academy."

"And how did you happen to get command of this ship?" Ares asks the youngster that sits on the captain's chair.

Watters is frightened, but answers, "I won't answer any questions until I know who you are you leather clad reject! And under who's authority you board my ship and start attacking my officers?"

Nog, however, answers this question. "Hum, Watters, the 'leather clad reject', is Ares, the 'Hew-Man' God of War, and before anyone scoffs, Ares also has the rank of Vice-Admiral on Starfleet.

The GOW continues when Nog ends, saying "I'm also a general of the Klingon Army, but those are just titles, now, answer me youngling! How did you get command of this ship!?"

The Acting captain clears his throat, and says "I took command of the Valiant when Captain Ramirez died during the break of the hostilities with the Dominion/Cardassian alliance. We received our orders, get intelligence of the Dominion Battleship that had just broken pursuit."

"Why didn't you inform Starfleet of the death of the captain?" Inquires the Olympian.

"Our orders called for complete silence."

Ares nods, looking first at the acting captain, then at the acting commander and then at the rest of the bridge crew. "Mr. Nog," he begins. "Get yourself down to engineering, I want this ship to arrive at DS9 ASAP."

"Aye, aye, sir." Nog says nodding, grateful to get out with his lobes intact, having heard of the GOW's temper.

The Olympian still keeps his cool, calmly ordering the just-awakening helmsman to man his station and set a course for the space station at best possible speed. Then he points to the 'senior officers' and says, "To the ready room, now." Once inside, he sits behind the desk, leaving no room for speculation on who is in charge. While standing at attention, the two cadets are surprised to hear Ares say "This little stunt is very likely to have ended your careers on the fleet."

At their shocked expression, the Olympian adds, "If you have anything to say in your favor, now is the right time."

"Sir," begins the acting captain, "we were only following the orders given to the commanding officer of the Valiant, me. I did my best, and he succeeded: the information of the enemy cruiser is in the ship's computer."

"Is that all you can say?" Ares asks and at Watters' nod, he begins laughing, "the reason you're both screwed is that you tasted a little power, and enjoyed it too much. There was no reason for either of you to go ahead with the mission issued for Captain Ramirez, there was not even a reason to open those orders. No, the truth is that you didn't want to go back to the cadet life, after being officers.

"Just the idea, that you could take down the enemy battle cruiser, is proof that you wouldn't go back to what you were. You had a death wish, and it would have been granted, had it not been for me."

Then Ares leans back into his chair, sighs and adds, "You have a choice. If the two of you take responsibility for this debacle, the rest of the crew will receive only a reprimand, but will be allowed to continue in the Academy. As for you, I promise I'll do my best to keep you from getting expelled. If you don't take the fall, however, everyone on this ship will be expelled, and will be brought on charges, and that is a promise."

Watters and Farris look at each other, passing a message before nodding, this wasn't much of a choice. Ares nods as well and sighs.

Three days later:

Admiral Bullock, head of the Academy (**) pronounces the sentence to the cadets that illegally took control of the USS Valiant. "The Red Squad will be disintegrated, and every former member, excepting cadet Watters and cadet Farris, will be repeating their final year. you will all carry on your shoulders the stigma of having hijacked a Federation Ship, something that will weigh heavely when you're considered for promotion.

"As for cadets Watters and Farris, your actions guaranteed expulsion from the Academy. However, thanks to the eloquent defense of Ares, the command is willing to put your skills to good use. You will be given a temporary commission, on probation and still as cadets, on board the USS Ares. This audience is at an end."

Farris and Watters look at one another, before beginning to laugh and embrace one another. Then they turn their eyes to the god of war, the one who saved them, twice. No words can convey their gratitude, so they simply mutter the words, "Thank you." and know the Olympian god is listening.

* This takes place during the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode 'Valiant'
** Bullock was head of the Academy during the Star Trek Voyager episode 'In the Flesh'.

Part III
Transformation

The next day comes soon. When Ares once again reports
to Starfleet HQ, the admirals inform him that the
entire scientific community has their eyes glued on
the promise of a full transformation of a planet. All
of the people of Mars were supposedly safe behind the
walls of the domed cities. Ares knew it wasn't true.
There were many that chose to ignore the government
advice of not leaving the shelters.

"Very well, to start with, the process will be slow,"
he tells the assembly, "it will begin today, but it
won't end for some days. During all of this time, do
NOT let me be disturbed. I'm choosing to do the
operation here, so that can see how much I trust you."
No one detected any hint of irony in his voice. "Also,
you should know, there are still people outside the
cities. They will be crying for help soon. The martian
orbital system should be ready to locate them, and
beam them out as soon as they request it. I will
begin, now." He finishes closing his eyes.

Nothing happens for a few minutes, then an hour passes
and there is no change in Mars. Some of the admirals
started talking about wasted time, this is obviously
not going to work, whatever this being that calls
himself a god is trying, is just not working. Admiral
Vasser, a strong opposer of Ares at his every turn,
motions for leaving and letting Ares make a fool of
himself by himself.

"EXCUSE ME!" states Admiral Sandra Castillo. "But let
me remind you all that, according to myth, Earth was
created by God on seven days, and you're willing to
quit after only an hour?"

Some of the joint chiefs look embarrassed, but Admiral
Chen says, "This is all very nice and scientific, but
I'm a commander, not a scientist. If this works, all
well and good, but it's not worth waiting for. Please
keep me posted." He then leaves the room.

Just then, the com link beeps. When it is put on, a
middle aged woman in a starfleet blue uniform says,
"Sirs, this is Lt. Canavati, of the science station on
Deimos. It's wonderful! The atmosphere of Mars is
growing. Right now, it has an altitude of 15,000
meters, an increase of 700%, and just as amazing,
water has begun to flow in the deepest canyons of the
planet."

"So," Admiral Castillo smugly says, looking at Admiral
Vasser. "This is working after all. Well, each and
everyone of you can withdraw whenever you wish, but
I'll stay for as long as I can. This will be the most
interesting development of the entire Federation
history, and unlike Admiral Chen here, I'm a
scientist."

As most of the chiefs leave, Edward Jellico stays with
Sandra. He waits until they're alone, and says, "You
know, personally, I like Ares. I think he's a great
guy and he's been responsible for the balancing of
forces in the war. But, as member of the Joint
Chiefs, you have responsibilities, and you're expected
to meet them with all the professionalism possible."

"And just what do you mean by that?"

"Ares said clearly, the transformation will be a long
process. You cannot stay in this room for as long as
it lasts. You have work to do and that comes first."

For a sixty year old woman, the Admiral blushes as a
teenager, and assures Jellico that her work won't be
affected. They both stand up and leave the room,
leaving the Olympian to do what he has to do.

* * *

Over the next hours, changes began to occur in the
Martian soil, the dry red sand becomes dust and
silicon sand, the atmosphere continues to rise,
forming the layers of a normal M class planet, but
with slight differences. It seemed designed to let
more light and heat pass and retain it.

"It's logical." Says a Vulcan scientist on the Deimos
station. "If whoever is doing this wants to make the
planet habitable to humans, the extra million
kilometers from the sun makes it necessary to change
the stratosphere."

For the next 2 days, all that was formed on the red
planet was water and atmosphere, with the composition
changing. The 95% CO2 was reduced to less than 40%,
and nitrogen began to rise to more than 40%. Still
not breathable, but it was turning into it fast.

The third day, another astonishing report came to the
admirals desks: Plankton was beginning to form in the
new Martian seas, reproducing at a geometric rate.
According to calculations from the science station,
the unicellular life form will transform the Carbon
Dioxide into oxygen in matter of days, also, the
coasts will begin to be washed with the unicellular
organisms.

The projections began to accumulate, what Ares was
doing would indeed transform Mars into a habitable
planet in a few more days. By the fifth day, the
atmosphere was complete, it had practically the same
composition of Earth, 75% nitrogen, 22% oxygen, 1% of
inert gases, and 2 % of CO2.

Over 60% of the planet is now covered with water, and
the landmass has also begun to change as well. The
soil is infected by some kind of rapid aging agent, it
causes the bacteria in it to reproduce and the land is
growing fertile at the same rate that the atmosphere
changed; that means that it will be possible to grow
real food in Mars within a week.

In the middle of the sixth day of transformation, Ares
opens his eyes and slumps to the floor, nearly
crashing his head with the meeting table. The noise
that he made while falling was enough to alert some
people, and they come rushing at him. Finding him
unconscious, they think of transporting him directly
to the San Francisco General Hospital, but one
commander that wears the locket under his uniform,
tells them that it might be better to take him to his
temple in Macedonia.

Admiral Jellico enters the room, and takes over,
"That's a good idea commander," he says. "But first
contact Ms. Dubois. It might be better if we
transport him directly to his chambers."

"Aye sir."

Ares begins to regain consciousness and mutters,
"Jellico, Mars is now habitable, but there are still a
few changes that need to be made on the new planet
before the change is permanent."

"Don't worry about it." Answers the admiral. "We'll
take it from here, you've done a wonderful job and,"
he smiles, "shut a lot of mouths."

"Coordinates are set." Says the commander. "Ready to
beam out at your command admiral."

"Get well soon, Ares." Jellico says patting his arm.
"We still need you. Energize."

Part IV
Another meeting, with a different command

It took 3 days for Ares to regain his feet. Turning
Mars into an almost class M planet was harder than
anything he'd ever done, except stopping time to
deactivate the bombs put into his temples. But it
worked. He felt pleasantly spent, far more than the
'after sex calmness'.

Helena and Antonia were with him almost every minute
since he was transported. They worried that this
might be too much for their god, and no comforting
words from Ares could calm them. The second day, when
he was still confined to his bedroom by the two
wonderful women, he established a com link with Star
Fleet command, and informed them of what they already
knew. Mars wasn't a balanced world, they need to
insert animal life, and soon, otherwise the atmosphere
would collapse in less than 20 years.

"Very well," says the GOW. "Now that I'm sure Mars
will be sustained, I need to know what happened with
my invitation to the religious leaders."

"Hum, my lord," Helena answers. "The Monotheism Triad
accepted, with some reservations; all the rest refused
or failed to acknowledge the invitation."

"You've done well," Ares says smiling, "I will only
need this 'Triad'. As I understand it, they represent
the union of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions. All
the rest, Buddhist-Shinto, Wiccan, Shamanists... they
would be nice to have on my side, but they aren't
essential for my plan."

Helena smiled. She was more than a little worried of
her god's reaction to the refusal of so many religions
to even acknowledge him. "The meeting will be held in
Jerusalem. They have a weekly meeting and the next
one is in 4 days. We have a standing invitation to go
and present our case. Of the regular cast, the
leaders present will be: Ruth Musbal, she's the
presiding chairperson, she's Jewish, and an expert on
ancient law. The other two members of the Triad of
Israeli ascend are Daniel Muller and James Goldsmith.
The two members from Catholic religion are Fray
Roberto Galvan and Monsignior Darius O'Malley;
Reverend Carl Mendelson and Dr. Diana van den Haas
compose the 'Protestant' delegation. The last two
members are Ahmed Raafat and Fhad Naggar, they
represent the Islamic part of this council."

When the day arrives, Ares transports himself and
Helena to Jerusalem. The scheduled meeting is at
14:00 hrs. local time.

At 14:05, Dr. Musbal called the meeting to order,
enjoying the fact that Ares is kept waiting outside
the chamber. She conducts the meeting as slow as
possible, although there aren't any real issues aside
from the GOW. The Monotheism Triad generally
discusses comparative theology, in order to shine the
aspects that bring them closer, instead of the
differences that separated them for so long.

"Madam chairperson," Reverend Mendelson interrupts
her. "I respect you a lot, but this thing you're
doing, keeping admiral Ares waiting, just for because
you can do it... that is wrong."

"Anyone else in favor of letting everything aside on
the agenda and see this being?"

"What agenda?" asks sarcastically Fray Galvan. "We've
been in basically the same spot for the past 3 years.
Let us change the pace, madam chairperson, please."

"As you will." Ruth says, she pushes a button and
calls her secretary. "Mr. Tapert, would you please
show in the two heathens out there to enter?"

After Ares and Helena are inside, Dr. Musbal calls for
order and says, "I just want to remind the rest of the
Triad members that the Hebrew community was opposed to
the presence of this being here. We hold him directly
responsible for the rise of power of the romans, and
the eventual destruction of the original Jerusalem,
which marked the beginning of the exile of the jews
that didn't end until almost 2,000 years later."

Reverend Mendelson once again interrupts the
chairperson, "Please, Ruth! The hall has heard this
speech before. The objections were overruled. This
might be a very important moment in history, one
moment in which we might be able to understand better
the true nature of God. Of what his intentions are in
the universe. So, please stop this and allow Ares to
proceed."

When Ares is conceded the floor to Ares, he takes a
deep breath, and begins, "In another minute, I might
become so impatient that I'll blast this building, and
everyone on it, to Tartarus, for the insolence of THAT
mortal," pointing at Dr. Musbal, "to call a superior
being to judgment for his actions. However, since I
AM innocent, I've no objection in answering the
accusations made at me.

"In the first place, Mars was a bastardization of my
name. The Romans were never my people. Need I remind
the hall, that years before the Italian wave destroyed
Jerusalem, they had conquered all of Greece? If I was
unable to stop them from taking Sparta - MY city - how
was I able to make them destroy Jerusalem?

Secondly, and more important, where is the logic in
holding me responsible for this, when I was trapped
one hundred years before it happened." The Triad
members look at each other, before he continues. "Yes,
I was cut off from everything that was outside my
prison for over 2,400 years. You want to compare
sufferings? I was exiled for 300 years more than the
entire Jewish community!"

Dr. Musbal seems a little ashamed after Ares finishes
his defense, and cleared her throat before saying,
"You may proceed with your petition."

The GOW keeps looking at the chairperson in the eye
until she blinks and looks away, with a slight flush
on her face. He smiles and looks around, saying, "I'm
waiting for the person that is supposed to make the
argument for me. Whoever it is, he, she or it should
be here already."

Then a flash of light appears, and a winged being,
with a white robe appears. She has long, light brown
hair, and her wings are obsidian black, a golden belt
is around her waist and silver bracelets on her
wrists. With all of the audience, except Ares,
perplexed she goes to the GOW and with a nod takes the
center of the hall.

"Greetings in the name of God." She begins. "My name
is Gabriel. I've served as the messenger of God since
the beginning of time. I've been with each of the
members of the Triad at one time or another of their
lives."

With a wave of her hand, all nine members of the Triad
seem lost for a second. When their eyes come back to
focus, they realized that Gabriel was with them, when
they decided that their vocation was religious. They
were literally, chosen by God. Ruth, Darius and Ahmed
have tears on their eyes...if they died on this
moment, it would be fine by them. They have seen that
their efforts haven't been in vain.

Gabriel continues smiling at them, sensing that they
need a moment to regain their composure.

The President once again clears her throat and wipes
her cheeks with a handkerchief, "Order in the hall
please." After a few seconds, she continues, "What
does God want with us, Messenger? For if we have
offended Him in consorting with this heathen, I'm sure
I speak for everyone here when I say we're willing to
call this session to an end, and pool all our
resources in the elimination of the pagan."

Gabriel still smiles while shaking her head. She then
tells them "It's the exact opposite. Ares has a
destiny. Something incredible, for mortals make their
own destiny. You have God's greatest gift, the gift
of free will. But immortals don't. The so-called
higher beings are in the universe for a diversity of
purposes, all according to God's design." Ares lets
out an irreverent chuckle, which Gabriel chooses to
ignore. "There has been an agreement between God and
Ares. This calls for the planets he's transforming
not to be dedicated to him in any way. There won't be
temples dedicated to him for 5 years, none of his
priest or priestess allowed there in 10 and, most
importantly, no weapons allowed for the next 15.

"What Ares is asking of this assembly is logistic
help; there are hundreds of nurses and doctors in the
different religious orders, and Ares will be
transporting refugees, wounded and otherwise, to
resettle on these new planets. The ones that volunteer
for this work," and she emphasizes the word volunteer,
"must be advised that they are not there to convert
anyone, only to give them help, medical and
psychological."

"It is customary to discuss this sort of thing first,"
Ruth begins, looking at everyone in the hall. "But I
doubt there will be any objection to the motion set
forth by an angel." She looks around once more to all
the agreeing faces, "Ares will have all our
cooperation."

Gabriel smiles at the Jewish leader and at each of the
members of the Triad. Then, she shakes hands with
Ares, and whispers to him 'You're doing well, my
brother', disappearing after that.

Part V
The first new world

A week after the reunion, he selected three star
systems far from the conflict zone on the edge of the
galaxy. Perfect for what he wants. They have distinct
designations, but he's about to rename them. In the
first system, there are planets, 2 of them are gas
giants, there is one class L planet, one class D, and
one of the moons on the Gas Giant closer to the yellow
star, is also L class.

Going to the class L planet first, he found the rain
showers a little toxic, and the plant life scarce.
All in all, a far easier task than Mars had been. He
began the change, once again transforming the violence
and the worship directed at him into a creation wave.
His experience with the red planet had been educative,
to say the least. He'd made several mistakes which
won't happen here.

Changing the composition of mineral salts in the water
of the world is the first step. There are very few
things that can withstand all the acid in the planet's
fluid. The next step is stabilizing the atmosphere.
It is too ionized and the ozone layer is practically
non-existing. Once that is done, he pauses, taking a
little time to recharge every few steps. That will
make the job easier, faster and not nearly as
exhausting.

His efforts soon pay off. It takes him about 36 hours
to make the planet inhabitable, or at least most of
it. There are some deserts, tundra, swamps, and other
not-so-nice places, along with the plains, hills and
snow-capped mountains. In a complete view, its a
rather nice world to be tamed. He also managed to
create a little animal. Not enough to provide all the
necessary CO2 for the plant life, but it will make
the colonizers jobs easier.

He contacts the ship in orbit, the Santa Maria, and
tells them that the first planet of the star system
Michellis is ready to be colonized. The planet's name
is Uriel.

Part I
En route

'Practice makes perfect,' was on the mind of Ares. It
had only taken him 27 hours to transform the final
world in the Raphaellis system into an M class world.
Where two short weeks ago, there were three useless
star systems named Nelda Gamma, Cora Delta and Erato
Theta, there was now the Michellis, Gabriellis and
Raphaellis systems. With the eight inhabitable planets
surrounding the 3 stars, Uriel, Camael, Cassiel,
Hapiel, Jophiel, Raziel, Zadkiel and Metatron(*).

The coordinator of the Triad relief team is a Catholic
nun of the order of 'Little Mothers', named Mother
Veronica . She's a strong woman and an even stronger
telepath(**). Strangely enough, she and Ares got along
well together, after she made it clear that she
wouldn't address him by anything else but his name.
They joked whenever possible, and were serious at
every other time.

The GOW had been working as a ferry for the past days.
When the Dominion attacked an unarmed colony post,
Ares evacuated the survivors to the safety planets.
Medical and psychological facilities were made
available to them, as well as a new beginning. With
the 'angelic' planets ready to be colonized, although
far from the normal trade routes, given some time,
they'll become the trade centers for many products.

However, this dull work was interrupted when his
presence was required on Deep Space 9. The
Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star
Empire have voted to go on the offensive, and attack
the Dominion controlled system of Chin'toka (***). It
must be done soon, for an automatic net of defense
satellites will be activated in the next few days.

"I'm pleased," he tells admiral Ross. "Finally, the
forces of the Alpha Quadrant mount an attack. But
where do you think I should be? On board the Rotarran
or the USS Ares?"

"What kind of question is that 'admiral'? Of course
your post is on a Starfleet vessel."

"But I have more followers among the klingons."

"And you 'should' be the god of humans. You know what?
Do as you wish, you're going to do that anyway."

After some pondering, the Olympian decided to go in
his namesake ship. The real reason - no matter how he
rationalized it - is that he enjoyed the company of
Commander Trevi. She's a strong woman who disliked his
arrogant personality, but enjoys his body immensely.
In the time it takes them to reach the battle site,
they'll both have some time to enjoy each other
several times.

* I took the names of the arch angels from Sarah's
Arch Angels, available at:
http://www.sarahsarchangels.com/

** Mother Veronica is a character from the Star Trek
The Next Generation Book, 'Guises of the Mind' by
Rebecca Neason

*** From the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode: Tears
of the Prophets.

Part II
The assault

"So, that's our objective." Says Ares as soon as the
invading fleet arrives to Chin'toka. "It seems the
automated satellite net isn't activated yet."

"So it seems, sir." Answers Simon. "We're to proceed
destroying the orbiting platforms. Mr. Cruzeiro, begin
firing."

"Aye sir."

Unfortunately for them, the satellite defense system
becomes active just a few minutes later. "Shields are
down to 78%." Reports Cruzeiro.

"If there's something to be said about the
Cardassians," comments Captain Andoni, "it's that
every weapon they build packs a lot of power."

"Sir, we have a problem." Reports Angeles.

"Just one?"

"The positioning of the satellites makes it extremely
difficult to destroy them," she replies, ignoring the
sarcasm. "Any ship that tries to get close enough to
fire on one, instantly becomes the bull's-eye on
another ten."

Ares, meanwhile, debated with himself over what should
he do... 'I can destroy all the platforms, or if not
all, at least a significant amount, but if I do that,
I'll be returning to the old times, when gods made all
the decisions for the mortals, instead of letting them
search and find their own solutions. I don't want
that.' A big dilemma all right, one that takes him a
full 17 seconds to solve.

'I won't destroy the satellites, but I'll help the
ships that are badly damaged. I'll take them outside
the battle zone, and the wounded that are beyond the
capabilities of the ship's medical bay to a safe
location, which just happens to be Raziel, in the
Raphaellis system.'

Ares knew that many of the captains wouldn't be happy
to have their crew transported to a distant world.
This was especially true of the Klingons and the
Romulans, who dislike the thought of being assisted by
the Federation, but he wasn't planning to let them
refuse.

Not everything goes as he'd hoped, though. The
patients themselves were the problem. The mere idea
of being in a Federation world, with Federation
personnel all around them, far away from their
borders, brings complaints, protests and even threats.


The GOW doesn't give the ship's commanders an option,
either. He's taking only the cases stated as 'lost
cases' by the medical officer. He also didn't care
what the wounded think. In this case, he IS
exercising his right as a superior life form, by
taking matters into his own hands because the mortals
happened to be too stupid to recognize that they need
help.

While onboard a Romulan Warbird, his communicator
beeps.

"Admiral Ares," says Captain Andoni. "Your presence is
required on the bridge of the U.S.S. Ares. Please
come."

When he pops in, he sees his namesake ship has taken
quite a pounding. The captain has his left arm in a
sling and the first officer is covering the tactical
station.

"Sir," Simon exclaims as soon as he sees him. "The
Defiant has found the weak link on the orbiting
platforms. They all draw power from the same source,
an asteroid orbiting in the higher atmosphere. If you
destroy it, the day will belong to us."

"Good reasoning," The Olympian god agrees. "I really
didn't want to interfere until you had a plan. Now
that you have it, the victory will belong to you."

"The meteorite is in this grid," Commander Trevi
informs the GOW, pointing at her tactical screen. "It
has a very strong force field surrounding it."

"No problem." Ares nods and disappears, just to
reappear in outer space, something that he hasn't done
in all his existence. The disorientation passes
quickly, and once he can focus Ares sees the asteroid.
He unleashes a huge burst of energy at it,
practically disintegrating the rock. Unfortunately,
the GOW didn't take into account that he was in a
zero-G environment. The energy discharge sends him
sprawling without a specific direction. It takes an
eternity or two for Ares to regain his senses enough
to transport himself back to the bridge of Captain
Andoni's ship.

After he takes a huge breath or two, Ares grabs Simon
by the tunic, and tells him "This is the last time
that I go in to space. For you or for anyone." Then
with a throaty growl lets go of the captain.

Commander Trevi clears her throat and reports,
"General Martok will begin beaming ground troops to
the planet below. Hmm, this is strange, we're
receiving an urgent message from DS9."

Part III
The conversion

The GOW was so busy that he didn't notice that at the
same time he destroyed the asteroid, a pah-wraith was
released into the wormhole, collapsing it. The message
informed them of that and the fact that Commander
Jadzia Dax was critically injured. Ares sees the
Defiant leave the battle zone at maximum speed, and he
hears a prayer from General Martok.

The Olympian transports himself to the bridge of the
Rotarran. He wanted to know what the klingon general
wanted. Martok points to the conference room, and
they both enter.

"I'm not going to beat around the bush. Jadzia is a
member of my house, and I would like to save her if
its possible. I'm willing to do anything to save her."

"I sympathizes with you, Martok," Ares responds. "But
Jadzia isn't my follower, and if the information we
received is correct, she's not in a condition to make
any pledge."

"Isn't there another way? Someone to recite the vows
in her name? I've heard that some religions they have
a... a... a godfather I think is called."

"I might make an exception if it wasn't for the fact
that she's a Trill. How can I take a joint being? One
part will eventually die, and the other might continue
living for another thousand years. Which part would I
take to the afterlife?"

"I understand." Martok says nodding. "Could you at
least transport the Defiant and the Rotarran to DS9?
If Jadzia can't be saved, I know Worf would like to be
with her when she passes away."

To this Ares nods, and tells the general to inform the
fleet that the Rotarran will be absent in a few
minutes, leaving the command squarely on the shoulders
of Admiral Ross.

The GOW takes first the Rotarran all the way to the
station. Then, he transports to the bridge of the
Defiant, where he tells Worf that Martok asked him to
take them to DS9 faster. Major Kira tells him to go
ahead, in a hurry to know what happened to the
Celestial Temple(*). Ares nods and the Defiant
appears in front of Deep Space Nine.

The moment they're docked, Worf runs to the infirmary,
where he manages to see Dr. Bashir remove the Dax
symbiod from the body of Jadzia. He knows what this
means: his wife is dying. When Martok puts a hand on
his shoulder he growls and shakes away, "The doctor
has given up on Jadzia," he tells his superior
officer. "He's just trying to save the slug."

"So, the 'Dax' part has been removed?" Martok asks.
Worf nods affirmative.

The Klingon general runs to see if he can find the God
of War. When he does, he quickly explains to him that
Jadzia is no longer a host so she can be saved now.
Ares nods, with a grin that might be considered evil,
transporting himself and Martok to where Worf is. The
general explains to the member of his house that Ares
is able to save his wife, if she swears allegiance to
him.

"It's a little beyond that," Ares interrupts. "The
only one that can stand in Jadzia's place to make the
oath is her closest relative, in this case, her
husband." He looks at Worf straight in the eye before
continuing. "And for the oath to be valid, her husband
must have taken the oath first. So, what will it be?
Will you take the oath and wear the locket in order to
save your wife or will you let her die, knowing that
you could have saved her?"

Martok recognizes what the evil grin meant. It was
giving Worf a choice between the two things he
considers wrong. He's torn between rage and laughter,
knowing what Worf's decision will be. There's really
no other honorable course of action.

"I'll take the oath." Worf says nodding in defeat.

"I must assure you, this isn't a light commitment.
This is an oath for life, and you'll also swear your
wife for life. There must be no misunderstanding
here," the Olympian god tells him "both of you are
becoming part of my flock. There's no going back, are
you sure?"

Worf nods, but Ares tells him that he wants to hear
it.

"Yes, damn it!" was Worf's irate answer, causing the
GOW to cross his arms and look at him with contempt in
his eyes.

Martok clears his throat and whispers to Worf, "You
might consider using a more respectful tone."

The Klingon of Starfleet takes a deep breath, closing
his eyes. He releases it before opening them again,
and said in a calmer tone, "Yes, I'm sure this is what
I want. I won't ever back from this decision. Ever."

"Okay, Martok. Instruct your brother on what the oath
is, and how it must be recited."

"We don't have the time!" Worf cries. "No disrespect
intended, but my wife is dying this very moment."

"You are right about that." Ares replied, nodding. He
snaps his fingers and continues. "There, I've stopped
time passing on the station, only we can move."

Both the klingons are impressed by this statement.
They looked around and saw everyone frozen in
mid-motion. Martok then tells Worf, to go to his knees
and pledge his eternal commitment to the cause of Ares
which was to obey him and serve him to the best of his
abilities, until death comes to take him to the
afterlife, or he's released from service.

The commander was hesitant to go to his knees. But, a
look from Martok tells him what he needs to know.
This is part of the price for saving Jadzia. So, going
to his knees, he recites the pledge. When it's over,
Ares materializes one locket, distinct from all
others, for it has the right sword, blue and the left,
red.

"You're looking at the differences between this and
every other locket." Ares says. "It's this way because
it means something. You're a Klingon, but you were
raised by humans, drawing from the best of both
cultures." Then he puts the locket around the kneeling
klingon throat.

The GOW lets time run again, and Worf and Martok
accompany him to the bed of Jadzia. She's alive, but
just barely. Her entire body was working, thanks to
the life support of the bio-bed. "Dr. Bashir," he
calls. "Clear the room, now. I'm about to do something
that is private."

"With all due respect, Admiral." Julian calls back. "I
refuse to be evicted from my own infirmary, Now, what
is going to happen?"

"I'm about to perform a miracle." Ares answers smugly.
"I'm about to save Jadzia's life. Mr. Worf, if you
please."

Worf then begins in a steady pace, saying every word
carefully.

"I am Worf, son of Mogh. Honorary member of house
Martok. Lieutenant Commander of Starfleet. Adoptive
son of Sergei and Helena Roshenko. Husband of Jadzia,
and in representation of my wife, I give the oath to
the God of War, Ares the Olympian."

The god materializes another locket, just like Worf's,
but the red sword is right, and the blue one is left.
After the husband puts it around his wife throat, he
asks, "What does the color mean in her case?"

"It's a compliment of yours." Ares answers. "The two
of you are one, and will be one, forever."

Then Celesta appears, she's invisible to everyone but
Ares. "Celesta," he says. "How nice of you to show up.
Please make yourself visible."

"I have come to take this woman to the afterlife,
Wargod." She says complying. Her sudden appearance
startles and pretty much scares the shit out of
everyone in the room.

"I'm sorry you made this long trip." Ares tells her.
"But this one isn't going to die."

Ares puts his hands around the head of Jadzia, letting
a healing power flow from him, finding the places
where she's been hurt and mending them. That includes
her link to the symbiod. It is repaired as if there
never was a 'Dax' in her belly. It takes 15 minutes
for all of her body to be healed, but then the GOW
turns to her mind. With the symbiod gone, the
memories will begin to vanish, leaving a husk in the
place of this woman.

"You've saved her Ares." The angel of death states.
"I'll go now."

After she vanishes, Martok finds his voice to say,
"That woman, was
she...?"

"The messenger of death?" The Olympian finishes.
"She's one of many. You can all breathe now. She's
gone. None of you is going to die today." Ares then
takes the fading memories of the symbiod and incrust
them firmly into the neural pathways of Jadzia. Her
memory will be intact when he finishes another thirty
minutes later.

Jadzia wakes up, surprising the hell out of Julian,
who had given up on her. The doctor tries to walk
past Ares, but Martok stops him. This is a reunion of
husband and wife, one that was possible thanks to a
miracle. Anything that the good doctor wants, can
wait a little while. Bashir nods, giving a smile to
Jadzia and leaves the room.

"I thought I was dead." Jadzia tells Worf. Then she
feels her belly, finding the Dax symbiod is no longer
there. "What happened to me? Where is Dax?"

"The God of War happened wife." Worf answers her. "He
was able to bring you back from the brink of death,
for a price."

"What price?"

"I swore both of us into his service. Permanently."

The Trill rises from the bed, going to her new god.
Once she's facing him, she makes the motion as if to
slap him, then kisses him on the cheek, saying "That
is for saving me." Then, she kicks him in the groin,
saying "that is for charging such a price."

Chapter 14
Scientific Explanations

Part I
Questions.

Two weeks have passed since the battle at Chin'toka.
In that time, there've been several interesting
developments. Federation scientists, experts on
subspace phenomenons, haven't been able to reopen the
wormhole. With rumors that the prophets are dead, the
Bajoran society is walking firmly toward the precipice
of chaos. Despite all the preaching of Kai Winn, and
all the calls for unity from Prime Minister Shakaar,
more disturbances surface every day.

Another consequence of the missing prophets is that
the Bajorans, anxious for spiritual help, begin crying
to be accepted on the flock of Ares, but since the GOW
had made a pact with the wormhole aliens, Bajor is
off-limits. So instructions dispatched from Helena
ordered all priesthood to reject every single Bajoran
that enters a temple.

On Deep Space Nine, Captain Sisko took a leave of
absence, trying to find out where he'd failed as the
Emissary, and how to rectify that mistake.

And the War...it doesn't go well...it doesn't go bad,
it goes nowhere. Both sides seem too well balanced.
Almost every attack to a target is repelled and nearly
every battle in space ends with both sides
withdrawing. Starfleet Command were concerned, for
they know they'll experience manpower shortage
eventually; while their enemies keep breeding legions
of Jem'Hadar in their Genetic Labs.

During this time, Ares kept transporting survivors and
refugees to the angelic planets. However, since even
he can get tired, in one of his few resting moments,
he allows himself to go to his main temple in
Macedonia. There, he ponders the question that's been
bothering him since his return from the mirror
universe: 'Why was there no longer immediate death on
both universes?'

"My Lord," Helena said when she saw him worried. "Is
there anything I can do to help?"

"There's just this puzzle concerning me. As Antonia
mentioned, there've been several documented cases of
people dying at the same moment in the two universes.
For example, one of my warlords named Gravus and the
family of the Sovereign."

"It's a big question all right." The priestess
commented, rubbing her chin. "Are you... close to an
answer?"

"No, the truth is that this baffles me. I've no idea
how to face this problem."

"Perhaps, if my Lord would take no offense, I could
suggest a course of action."

"Speak, please." he says, shrugging his shoulders as
if to say 'I'm at the end of my rope.'

"You could try a scientific approach," she said,
carefully watching his face. If he explodes, her best
option was to run for cover as quickly as her feet can
carry her. After a few seconds, when he hasn't yelled
yet, she decides to continue. "We mortals are trying
as well to decipher the secrets of the universe. Some
of us have even gotten good at it. You might try and
go to a place of learning. Find someone who can
dedicate all of his or her time to this riddle who
doesn't have to worry about the war, like you."

"That's not such a bad idea." He said after a few
silent seconds. "A mortal genius could probably solve
this for me. Yes, that's a good idea. Do you have any
suggestion of who could best help me?"

"There're many qualified universities here on Earth,"
the priestess answered with a smile. "Or even off the
planet. Maybe you should get more information before
presenting it to anyone. That would be regular
procedure if you were, you know, mortal."

"Ok," he whispered before continuing loudly, "I think
the Federation Library in London would be the best
place to look for this kind of information." He snaps
his fingers, and an eye-blink later, he downloads and
studies hundreds of essays about parallel universes,
bridges between them and the multiple consequences for
actions in one universe that's reflected in others.

Once he has all the data, he researches candidates,
experts in highly advanced physics, and quantum
mechanics. He finds someone at the Oxford University,
a Professor Edward Keyvan, who has a doctorate in
those areas. Transporting himself to the learning
center, he takes a moment to think 'Athena would love
this place.' before finding Professor Keyvan.

Knocking on the office door, he waited for the usual
'come', before entering into a messy den. The mortal,
well, he's strange, there is no other word for him.
Tall, skeletically skinny, dark haired, dark eyed and
dark skin.

"Good morning, professor," the Olympian begins. "I
have a problem, and I think you might be able to help
solve it."

"Let me guess," Keyvan answers, eyeing carefully, the
tall, dark stranger dressed entirely in black leather.
"You need help with simple math, no, that's not it,
maybe basic language skills."

"You don't know who I am, do you?"

"Nor do I care. Go and bother some elementary school
teacher. I'm busy."

Almost not believing the audacity of the mortal, Ares
considered leveling the building and dropping iton the
professor's head. But, instead, he chose to raise him
from his desk, shaking him a little.

"Telekinetic, eh?" Edward said when he could tell up
from down. "I'm still not helping you."

"Listen to me, MORTAL!
I-AM-ARES-AND-YOU-WILL-DO-AS-I-SAY."

"Ares? As in God of War, Ares? Why didn't you say so
in the first place? Of course I'd be glad to help the
one who's beating the Dominion for us. Um...you can
put me down now."

Professor Keyvan took the PADDs that are given to him,
and spends a few minutes reading them, before saying,
"Oh, yes, this will make one hell of a paper. It will
take me at least a year to begin narrowing the
possibilities and the answer shall arrive in about six
years."

"Six years?" asks Ares in a disbelieving tone. "Just
because I'm immortal doesn't mean my patience is
eternal. I want this problem solved yesterday, not
next year, not next month. NOW!"

"Well, I'm very sorry," Keyvan apologizes, "but
there's no ordinary mortal that can solve this in that
time window. It's too complicated. Even if the
university spends all that time on this project,
there's no guarantee there is an answer for this
question."

"So, that's it?" Ares asks, grabbing his info files.
I think I'm in the wrong place. Maybe I should have
gone directly to the Vulcan Science Academy."

"I wouldn't bother if I was you," Keyvan stated. "I
made my doctorate along with Senkir, who is now head
of Quantum Physics Department on Vulcan. Dr. Senkir
will say exactly the same thing I've told you, except
he'll give himself a window of 15 to 20 years. You
must understand, Vulcans won't say the sky on earth is
blue, without a thorough study."

Seeing that the GOW was getting pissed, he added
quickly, "Now, if you're really interested in getting
an answer quickly, there's an unorthodox group of
people who might help you. They're emotionally
unstable and have a somewhat limited attention span,
but they might get the job done."

"Tell me more."

"They're known as 'Jack's Pack'(*). They're sort of a
'Thinking Tank', composed of genetically engineered
humans."

"I thought that DNA re-coding was prohibited in the
Federation"

"It is, but it's been known to happen. Parents want
their children to have better opportunities and try to
provide a little extra help. The tragic truth is that
on many occasions, the re-sequence brings emotional
side effects. For example, these four..." He said,
pulling out a folder.

"Jack," the professor begins, "is physically and
mentally superior, but he's al so emotionally
aggressive, distrustful, and disrespectful. Patrick
is brilliant, but he has the emotional control of a
six year old child. Lauren is as intelligent as her
companions, but her sex drive is in overload. Last,
young Serena, whose nerve pathways are scrambled, is
unable to communicate."

"And why, tell me" Ares asks, "do you think that these
idiots might be able to help me?"

"Well, they're not just idiots," Keyvan replies.
"They're idiot savants. If you want this problem
solved soon, 'Jack's Pack' is your best bet. They're
right here on earth, in the Gabriel Bell Institute."

"I think I'll go and see them."

A few hours later, wasted from arguing with social
services, security officers and finally doctors, Ares
enters the room where Jack and company are kept.

"So, we have a visitor." Jack said as soon as Ares
crosses the door. "Ares, you say? Hmm? I've yet to
meet a being worth worshipping."

"Jack, you shouldn't be like that." Patrick exclaims
childishly. "We have so very few visitors. How about a
hug?"

"I'll hug him!" Lauren growls and a moans, while
Serena doesn't even acknowledge the newcomer.

It takes a few minutes for Ares to get things
straight, but he makes all the members of this
'Thinking Tank' sit and be quiet. Of course, Jack
pulled a muscle on his arm, but you can't have
everything.

"Now, that I have your attention," Ares begins. "I
have a problem. One, that I'm told you might be able
to help me solve. 25 centuries ago, when one person
died in one universe, his counterpart bought the farm
as well. Now, this is no longer true. I want to know
why."

Jack tried to stand, but at the GOW's look, he remains
seated. "But what will we win, if we solve this
problem for you? Hmm? Hmm?."

"It's not what you'll win if you solve it," Ares
answers. "It's what you'll lose if you don't try. Your
lives." He says that in such a quiet, simple tone,
that neither Jack, Patrick, nor Lauren doubt him for
an instant. "Anything else you want, can be discussed
after you've given me an answer. You've got one
week."

Just as he's blinking out, Jack screams "Wait!"

Ares appears again, saying "What now?"

"Can we at least have three weeks?" Jack asks. "This
isn't a simple matter. Hmm? Hmm?"

The GOW just answers "Two." And blinks out again.

*The group of genetically engineered individuals was
presented on Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode
'Statistical Probabilities'

Part II
Answers

Two weeks later, Ares entered the lab/club house of
'Jack's Pack'. Jack, Patrick and Lauren turned to
him. "Where's your silent companion?" the Olympian
asks.

"She's having some studies done," Jack replies. "But
we've got good news: we have an hypothesis which can
explain the problem you brought us."

"Following the scientific method," Patrick begins.
"We've formulated hundreds of possible explanations,
discarding one after another, until now. We have just
one supposition remaining. Unfortunately, it's
improvable, but it's also undisputable."

"What do you mean by that?" Ares asks.

Lauren points to a chair for the GOW to sit. She
takes over the explanation.

"This is what we have," she tells him, showing him
some charts. "There was a theory, developed by a
certain Dr. Lazarus (*) a little over 100 years ago.
Dr. Lazarus found a way to pass through parallel
dimensions. His theory said that if there was ever an
encounter of a person and his parallel double outside
the dimensional bridge, both universes would be
destroyed."

"This theory," interrupts Patrick, "was finally proved
wrong, 5 or so years ago, when Major Kira Nerys
encountered her counterpart, face to face, in the
mirror universe(**)."

"Yes, yes, yes," Jack takes over. "This also brings us
to your question. The report written by Major Kira
clearly states that during her time there, a Ferengi
called Quark was executed. His counterpart in this
universe remained alive. The exact stardate when this
happened, gave us one vital clue."

"Chroniton Particles." Smiles Patrick

"Examining the cosmic chroniton particles and their
decay," Jack continues, after a quick growl to his
childish companion. "We were able to determinate that
there was a small multiversal quake when the two Kiras
touched. When we went back to review the data you
provided, these so-called 'Xena Scrolls', we realized
that when the vortex first opened, courtesy of your
father's powers, this man called 'Iolaus' and his
double collided(***)."

"If Dr. Lazarus' theory had been correct," purrs
Lauren, "both universes should have been destroyed
then. Since they weren't, the question turned into
what happened. When we went back to study the cosmic
chroniton particles, through analysis, we found that
approximately 26 centuries ago, there was another
multiversal quake, one that shook the very foundations
of the cosmos. It seemed logical to assume that it
occurred when 'Iolaus' and 'the Jester' crashed into
one another."

"Yes, that would be logical," Ares says nodding. "But
what does that have to do with multiple deaths in
different universes?"

"Logical, hmm? But wrong," Jack took over again. "For
we detected yet another quake, less terrible, but
still of great magnitude, a few weeks before 'the big
one'."

"Our conclusion?" interrupted Patrick with an angelic
smile. "The first quake was when the portal first
opened. The collision between the 'Golden Hunter' and
the 'Cowardly Jester' paved the way for the second.
This one happened when Hercules and his double, the
Sovereign punched each other(****). We deduced that
because both beings were more than mortals, the
multiverse itself was almost ripped apart."

"Very interesting indeed," Ares commented, slowly
losing his patience. "But that still doesn't explain
how or why there was mutual death in both universes,
and now there isn't!"

"It's a shame, really." Lauren mutters, loudly enough
for everyone to hear. "So handsome, and yet not so
bright. Still, you can't have everything."

"Oh no." Patrick begins to cry, "now Ares will be
upset with all of us."

With a deep sigh, Ares put his hand on Patrick's
shoulder, telling him "I'm not upset. I won't lose my
cool, unless, of course, this presentation continues
without getting to the conclusion."

This makes Patrick smile. He continued himself, "Yes,
your question. An earthquake of such magnitude created
ripples in the space/time continuum. These ripples
extended for a long periods of time, decades at least,
centuries most likely. The interesting part is that
these shockwaves traveled through both sides of the
time continuum. This caused immediate parallel deaths,
but like all waves, they diminish the farther they get
from the blast point."

"In simple words," Jack continued over Patrick's
words, "Eventually, when a person died on one
universe, his or her counterpart would feel pain, but
not enough to kill. Even that would fade with enough
distance from the central point, such as 25 centuries
later, when a Ferengi bartender died, his doppelganger
on this universe didn't feel a thing."

"And why was the quake produced by Kira meeting the
Intendant less violent than the one from the collision
of Iolaus/Jester?" Ares demands

"While not alive," Lauren answers. "The universe is
never still. It's always adapting. For that, we
should all be thankful. If the first astral quake
hadn't prepared it, the second one would have made Dr.
Lazarus' theory correct. After adapting, the second
was less violent. This third one wasn't such a big
deal."

The GOW looked alarmed. He remembered his instinctive
feeling to avoid touching his white clad
counterpart(*****). "What would happen if two full
gods were to touch one another?"

"That is why the hypothesis must remain unproved,"
Jack responds. "We think if two beings with the power
of gods were to touch, the astral quake would destroy
the multiverse."

Ares breathed with relief, thanking the fates for his
instincts. All he'd heard sounds about right. Then,
he straightened up again, "Wait a second," exclaiming,
"That sick bastard, the Sovereign, turned more
merciless because the deaths of his family. If his
Deianeira and kids hadn't died, there was a good
chance he'd never have turned into the despotic
bastard I'd the honor to kill. How can that be?"

Patrick took a deep breath, saying, "There're still
many unknowns in quantum mechanics, but there exists
the 'inverse' theory(******). It says: the 'effect'
is the cause for the 'cause'. That seems to be real in
that case. Some people would call it 'fate', something
that you can't escape from."

"Just rewinding, to see if I've got everything," The
GOW states. "There've been three astral quakes. The
first one was when Iolaus crashed with the Jester;"
Patrick nods. "The second was when Hercules punched
the Sovereign," again a nod by Patrick. "And the third
and last was when Kira Nerys and her counterpart the
Intendant touched a few years ago." once again,
Patrick nods.

"Of these quakes," he continues, "the second one was
more violent than the first. This was because of the
divine nature of Hercules."

"By Zeus, he's got it!" Jack exclaims. "Maybe Ares
isn't that mentally inferior, after all!"

The Olympian chose to ignore it, continuing, "The
third quake was less violent than the first, even
though it was two mortals touching, because the
universe had adapted, improving itself."

"He might be little smart, after all." Comments Jack
with a grin, which fades when he flies through the
room and crashes into a distant wall.

"I have one last question," Ares says. "Is there any
way to avoid multiversal destruction if two full gods
touched?"

At this, the 3 members of 'Jack's Pack' looked at one
another, before saying at the same time "We don't
know".

"Find out." The GOW said as he stood. "I'll come for
the answer some other time."

He's almost at the door, preferring not to transport
in front of them, when Lauren tackles him. She keeps
him pinned down, saying, "I, at least, deserve a
reward. A night with the Big, Bad, Leather Clad, God
of War."

Ares smiled, transporting himself a few centimeters
up, so that he's on top of Lauren, "Is this what you
really want?" The girl nods without speaking, and they
both pop-out.

Epilogue:

10 hours later:

Lauren appeared in the room with a bright smile and a
light on her face.

"What happened to you?" Jack asks.

"Seventeen." She answered with a dreamy smile.

"Seventeen? Seventeen what?" Jack asks once again.

"That's my lucky number."

* From the Star Trek series episode 'The Alternate
Factor'
** From the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode
'Crossover'.
*** From the Hercules, the Legendary Journeys episode
'Stranger in a Strange World'.
**** From the Hercules, the Legendary Journeys episode
'Armageddon Now'.
***** From The Last Olympic series, Chapter 10 Part IV
****** From the Star Trek Voyager episode 'Parallax'

Chapter 15
Voices from the past

Part I
It was logical

Only a few days have passed since the report from
'Jack's Pack'. The revelations provided by them were
shattering. Thanks to the fight between Hercules and
himself, the first vortex opened. Because of that, a
whole chain of events, both in the past and in the
future, was set in motion. 'Makes one better
appreciate, history,' Ares thinks 'and family.'

Lately, he's been thinking a lot about his family.
The last member died a little over a hundred years
ago. Then again," he thought, "one hundred years
isn't really that much. There might be some living
witnesses of the event."

Ares isn't a detective, but it only takes him a few
hours to find what he needs. 'There were over 400
people on board the Enterprise at the time,' he read,
'and several are apparently still alive. But, of
those, only two are relevant. The best for his needs
of the two is renegade Ambassador Spock, who back then
was Commander Spock, first officer of the Enterprise.
According to the logs, the Vulcan never actually met
my brother, although he might shed some light on what
happened to my brother before he died.'

Spock's whereabouts were currently unknown. It's
believed, though, that he's on Romulus, attempting to
unify the Vulcan and Romulan peoples. It's rather
fortunate for the Olympian that one of the people he
saved during the battle of Chin'toka was a high
ranking Romulan admiral. The admiral had extended an
invitation to him to visit the Romulan Homeworld.

Thinking about informing Starfleet Command and the
Klingon High Council, so that they could provide a
suitable escort, he decides against it. It's better
for him to remain free and unchecked. It takes him but
a few minutes to locate where Romulus is. A few hours
later, he locates the office of his host and blinks
there directly.

In the office of Admiral Jankat, the admiral's
conducting a debriefing of a young sub-commander. His
flash of bright light startles both Romulans.

"What in the..." Jankat exclaims, reaching for his
disrupter. But as soon as the Admiral recognizes the
GOW, he lowers his weapon. "Lay down your arm,
sub-commander. Leave me with the Federation Admiral
and inform my aide not to disturb me until further
notice."

"Admiral, uncle..." the young one hesitates. "You
understand I say this only out of concern for you.
Staying alone with this being, will call the wrong
kind of attention from the Tal'Shiar."

"I understand. Now, leave."

Once alone, Ares says, "Thanks for the vote of
confidence. I'm here..."

"You think confidence had anything to do with it? I
gave my word and I'll stand by it. Now," he sat again
behind his desk. "What can I do for you."

"I'm told that you Romulans value family." Ares began,
sitting in the chair just vacated by the admiral's
nephew. "I'm here to do something about mine. I have
to locate Ambassador Spock in order to have a
conversation with him. A conversation about what
happened on the planet Pollux 4 over eighty years
ago."

"If you want my help," The admiral said to the
Olympian, "I've got to tell you that the Tal'Shiar
have been unable to find the ambassador. If you want
to find him, you'll have to do it alone."

The Olympian nods, thinking that this was a little
better than he'd expected. He's been given implicitly
charte blache to search for Spock, and he found that
weird. "Just wondering. What will happen to the
Ambassador if the Tal'Shiar finds him?"

"I don't know," and the admiral answered. "I'm with
the military, not with the sissies of intelligence."

"Oh, come on Admiral," Ares presses. "A man of your
rank and career must have some idea at least."

"Off the record," Jankat spoke softly, "Spock's
considered a huge threat to Romulus. The change he
wants to impose will leave the Romulan Star Empire
wide open. And no matter what he may think, Spock
won't lead a peaceful change. It's the same pattern
that's been played for centuries. As his followers
grow and become stronger, they'll create a schism
that'll only end in bloodbath."

"And you're doing what to avoid that?"

"When found," Jankat responds, "Spock will be arrested
and imprisoned for the rest of his life, but not
executed. The Romulan government doesn't want to turn
him into a martyr. However, if you could find him for
us, the Praetor would be very grateful. We Romulans
can be very generous with our friends."

"Sorry," Ares smiles. "But I'm here to talk with Spock
about the encounter he had with my brother, not to
discuss the socio-political impact of his philosophy
on Romulus. The Tal'Shiar had better not try to
follow me. However, if I could offer you advice on how
to deal with Spock, your government might want to
consider countering Spock's ideology with a different
one. Say, for example...the living, breathing God of
War." With a chuckle, he pops out, leaving the admiral
to ponder over what he's just said.

During the next few hours, Ares searches the
underground. He remains invisible and intangible, as
he read some minds, so that he could locate Spock.
He's amazed that the Romulans have almost no mental
shields. That was totally different from their Vulcan
cousins. About a day and a half later, in a
subterranean (subromulanean?) facility, he found the
Ambassador. He's holding a lecture about the benefits
of logical thinking and emotional control to a group
of young Romulans.

"What a load of bull!" The GOW chuckled while he
rendered himself visible. This precipitated almost
the same chaotic reaction that he did in Jankat's
office. Some of the students try to tackle Ares.
Others try to get Spock to safety. A few others just
run. The GOW, however, freezes them all, keeping them
conscious, but unable to move. "I'm not here to harm
anyone," he says. "Nor to snitch to the Tal'Shiar
about you. Please remain calm." After saying that, he
unfreezes them.

Spock is, naturally, the first to recover. "And who
might you be?" the Vulcan asks, "and what do you
want?"

"I'm Ares." introducing himself, "My purpose here is
somewhat private between you and me, Vulcan. But
after listening to you 'spew' that lecture...I can't
believe you have these youngsters here! Don't you
think it would be better to have a counterpoint to
your stupid arguments? I can debate with you, unless,
of course, you're afraid."

"Please! Come up here," Spock invited him, pointing
next to the podium. "I'll just wait until your own
illogic defeats you."

"Illogic!" the GOW began, "Illogic is the 'Emotional
Control' that you Vulcans are so pleased to brag
about. Indeed, I'll freely admit it has many benefits.
But, it creates an imbalance that eventually turns
into an illness."

"That is untrue," Spock says. "Vulcans have long
lives, and we don't experience any illness. In fact,
it's quite the contrary. A mind in control is less
likely to be affected by the sickness that affects
other less disciplined minds."

"Is that so?" The Olympian asks. "I've got empirical
evidence to support my theory: the 'Pon Farr' is
nothing more than a biological response to the
unnatural control the Vulcans try to keep on their
minds and bodies."

"Again, that is untrue." Spock denied again, "Pon Farr
is a natural process that has nothing to do with the
logic that rules our lives."

"As logic demands it," the GOW said with a smile, "I'm
willing to submit this hypothesis to test. In this
corner of the galaxy, there are hundreds, maybe
thousands, of sentient beings, and that is only in
this galaxy. There are many more sentients out there.
And of all those sentient beings, do you know how many
mammals have those urges? One. Vulcans."

"Completely circumstantial evidence."

"That would be if we didn't have an extremely similar
template to compare the Vulcans with as a control
group. As close cousins of the Romulans, why is it
that the Vulcans are the only ones to suffer the
mating heat? Why? Because they don't need an emotional
outlet every so often."

"Your hypothesis is nothing more than that," Spock
answered, "An unproven theorem, and the empirical
evidence that you've brought, isn't enough to prove
either way. And, a logical mind won't accept anything
that hasn't been completely and unequivocally proven."

"Which brings us to the next point," Ares responded
with a cynical smile. "What is not a theory is that
the followers of Surak don't believe in violence. Not
even to defend themselves. At least, so it is written.
But how can this be with an enemy out there like the
Dominion, not to mention the Borg. The philosophy of
Surak doesn't have a place in the real galaxy." He
pounded the pulpit for emphasis. "The Klingons have a
saying. 'It takes two to make peace, but only one to
make war'(*). If a person isn't willing to fight for
his way of life, its as if he's given up on that way
of life."

"It's interesting you brought that up, Admiral Ares,"
the ambassador counters. "Logic dictates that peace is
the most desirable. In order to archive it, the first
step is to analyze every conflict without emotional
baggage. That is the beginning of a mature and
peaceful solution. Vulcans have been willing to fight
for their way of life. Not just with weapons and
violence, but with faith in their beliefs. That is
more mature than a war. An armed conflict will always
leave at least one side with dissatisfaction, maybe
both."

"A logical discussion between government bodies has no
guarantee of leaving both sides content," Ares
countered again, "Or even one. For example, the
Federation-Cardassian treaty ended the conflict
without a winner. The 'dispassionate' negotiation was
so dissatisfying that a group of Federation citizens,
including logical Vulcans and Starfleet Officers,
formed a terrorist group called 'The Maquis'."

"The Maquis was an aberration," the vulcan stated. "It
was logical to be resettled. It was also logical to
have a demilitarized zone, in case the people refused
to be resettled. Those colonists that rebelled,
refused to see the logic in having peace with
Cardassia, and suffered for it."

"What was illogical was the Federation to whore her
citizens," the Vulcan objected to the term, but the
GOW doesn't back down, "'sell', 'offer' or 'give'.
All those terms could work, but 'whore'...it has just
the right terminology. All the salaries of the
negotiators was paid with taxes that came from the
hard work of those who then were then asked...no
scratch that...ordered to be resettled."

"Surak's philosophy says that peace is worth all
possessions. As a logical being, I stand behind the
government negotiators and their decisions."

"Just as any Vulcan would say," Ares snorts. "Just as
Surak himself said 'It is logical that one should
desire peace. Before peace can be achived, one must
master one's emotions'(**). But what is the point of
working, of trying to make the galaxy a better place
than the one we received, if, by logic, none of that
is worth a thing. At least learn this, Mr. Vulcan.
In a conflict, you must be willing to give everything
up, in case you're asked to in order to win."

"I'm more than a little amazed," Spock said, "that the
so-called God of War knows of a pacifist like Surak."

"I've studied a lot of philosophies since my
awakening," Ares told the audience. "while trying to
find my place in this new universe. The differences in
types of war is as big as the entire galaxy. During my
age, in war there were two armies, well balanced,
trying to outmaneuver each other. War brought
progress, new ideas, new technologies and helped to
control the population."

"It is not illogical to lose lives," the Vulcan
countered, "in order to bring progress. The progress
achived in war are too few to compensate for the lives
lost."

"Death by war is better than dying of starvation." He
held his hand up to stop whatever Spock was about to
say, "I admit, it wasn't an ideal solution. But, like
so many things in life, it was the best solution that
my family and I had at the time."

"If you're so opposed to the war of this age, you
should be working to bring peace. You should not
improve the armament and moral of any side."

"While he despises what this conflict has become, I'll
keep supporting the forces of the Alpha Quadrant, for
surrender isn't an option."

The ambassador looked at his chronometer, and tells
his students that the lecture has ended. After
dismissing there audience, when they were alone, Spock
asked Ares, what it is that he wants with him.

"It'd be better if we could talk in private." The
leather clad god quietly says.

Spock nods and replies, "Follow me to my quarters."

"There's one more point I didn't want to bring up
while we were in front of the students." Ares said
once they're alone in Spock's quarters. "Is it logical
for you to destroy the Romulan culture and replace it
with his own?"

"There is a huge flaw in that logic," Spock answers
calmly, "The Romulans were on their way to adopting
Surak's ideology. I'm only here to provide guidance,
and save lives."

Ares looked incredibly at Spock's face, before
laughing, "You can delude yourself all you want. The
truth is that the underground movements have indeed
existed for a long time. But, it is only now, when
they've someone to look up to, YOU, that their
movement is gaining strength. But, I regress, that
isn't why I'm here. I need to talk to you about the
encounter that the Enterprise, your ship, had with my
brother Apollo over a hundred years ago."

"What do you want to know?"

"Anything and everything that you can add to the
official logs would be welcome."

"The report was very accurate," Spock says, "and
Apollo never once directed a word to me. I do remember
that the 'sun god' said that 'the one with the pointy
ears' shouldn't come to the surface, for I reminded
him of Pan, and Pan always bored the him."

The GOW smiled, recalling Hermes' son. "It wasn't that
Pan bored Apollo," Ares explains. "It was that old
'goat-legs' was a musician. The sound of his pipes
was so beautiful that some thought he should have been
the god of music. That drove a wedge between my
brother and my nephew."

"There isn't anything else that I can add to the
logs," Spock stated. "As it was recorded, I found a
way to establish communication with Captain Kirk. I
also found a way to punch a hole in the hand-shaped
force field that Apollo was projecting, and fire thru
it to destroy the temple."

Ares grew more and more serious when Spock said that
and asks, "Were you the one who ordered the ship to
fire?" At Spock's nod, he visibly struggled to control
his temper. Succeeding with some difficulty, he calmly
asks, "Do you feel guilty for killing such an old
being?"

"I regret it." Spock answers "But I don't feel guilt.
That would be an illogical emotion."

"Do you know," Ares says, "that by killing my brother,
you have a death sentence hanging over your head? He
was the last kin that I had."

The Vulcan doesn't even bat an eyelid, answering,
"It'd be illogical for me to worry over something that
I have no control over."

The Olympian nods, "Emotional or not, you're brave,
Vulcan." As he stood up, he finishes their
conversation by saying, "I wish this project you have
on Romulus doesn't blow up in your face, Mr. Spock."
After that last statement, the GOW disappears.

* From the Star Trek: The Next Generation book
'Vendetta' by Peter David.
** From the Star Trek: The Next Generation Book,
'Guises of the Mind' by Rebecca Neason

Part II
Aye lad, I knew your brother.

Coming back to his temple of Macedonia, Ares
considered what little information Spock had given
him. Clearly, the Vulcan pulled the trigger that
killed Apollo, but there is something very strange.
'According to the logs, Apollo had the Enterprise
trapped. Something must have distracted him enough for
Spock to shoot him.'

'The other person who can tell me what happened, is
retired Captain Mongomery Scott, who back when the
Enterprise met my Olympian brother was Lieutenant
Commander Scott, chief engineer on his ship. The logs
clearly show that he did meet Apollo. Perhaps his
insight will be more productive than Spock's.'

Captain Scott is easier to locate than Spock. He's on
earth, in the Daystorm Institute, trying to develop
transwarp technology. Unlike with the Vulcan, Ares
researches on the person of Scott, and is surprised to
find he's very different from Spock.

'He's an emotional, fun-loving, scotch-drinking,
people person. I think he'd be more at ease in a
tavern...a bar, as they call it these days, than in a
conference room.' With that information in mind,
Ares transports back to his main temples, collecting
from the offerings, two bottles of single-malt scotch,
several of saurian brandy and blood wine. Then he
puts on his normal Admiral uniform and transports
himself to the Daystorm Institute.

"Yes, what do you want?" asks the guard at the
Institute's gate without looking up to see who's in
front of him.

"I'm here to see Captain Scott." Answers the Olympian
in an agreeable tone. "And I suggest you look at me
when you're talking to an admiral, ENSIGN!"

"Admiral!" the startled junior officer yells,
standing up. "I'm sorry, we had no brass visits...I
mean, we expected no extraordinary visitors from Star
Fleet Command."

"As I said," Ares explains again. "I'm only here to
talk with Captain Scott, I need to debrief him on an
incident from his past."

"Past sir? Captain Scott's past is very long indeed."

"Not as long as mine. Now, where is he?"

"Oh wow!" the ensign cries, pointing at the Olympian.
"You're him. Ares, the admiral who won us the battle
of Chin'toka."

"More or less. Now, would it kill you to take me to
CAPTAIN SCOTT!"

"Of course. Hum, he's in his laboratory." Mutters
the ensign. "Normally, we don't disturb him. He's
our best expert on trans-warp thanks to his experience
on the Excelsior NX-2000. But I can see you're not
interested in a history lesson. Give me a second,
please."

Finally, Ares enters the personal lab of Captain
Scott, who apparently knew an admiral was coming to
see him, but didn't know who, and frankly, didn't
care. But when they met face to face, the first words
that come out from Scott's mouth are "Aren't you a wee
young to be an admiral, laddie?"

Ares laughed very hard at this, and when he can
breathe again, he said, "I'm quite a bit older than I
look, and I'd like to discuss something with you.
But, not in a conference room. What do you think of
going out to a bar?"

"A BAR?!" Scott smiles, "What kind of brass person
are you? To tell the truth, I'd like the idea of
getting out. I've been working 12-hour shifts for
months, but only if the bar serves real whiskey, not
that slop of syntehol."

"I thought the same thing." Ares nods, "I know this
little bar in Edimburg, shall we transport there?"

"I've to clear it with the supervising officer."

"It's already been taken care of, Mr. Scott. Shall
we?"

They use the transporter to get to the bar and as they
sit, Scott tries to order. But, the barmaid brings
three bottles, putting them on the table and says,
"2294 single malt Laphroig, 2273 Saurian Brandy, and
2314 Blood wine, anything else m'lord?"

"Not at the moment, dear." Ares responded and she
left. At Scotty's questioning look, he adds, "I did a
little research." As he poured himself a cup of blood
wine, he asked the captain, "Are you not going to
drink anything?"

Scott cheerfully opens the scotch and serves himself a
shot of whiskey, then says "Bottoms" and they both
drain the contents of their respective glasses.

After Scott clears his throat (whiskey that aged can
do that), he asks the admiral what he want to talk
about. Ares pours himself another glass, and takes a
sip before answering.

"You may not have recognized me, but I'm Ares. I
am..."

"I know who you are!" Scotty exclaims. "You're that
heathen. What do you want with me?"

"I'm looking for any information you might add to the
logs of the encounter the Enterprise had with my
brother, Apollo. I require, no, I need to know more
than what was reported."

Scott was silent for a few seconds, then said, "I've
heard about you Ares. How you came out of nowhere and
have been helping with the war effort. I know many
officers have converted to your following. I also
know you were given the rank of Vice Admiral by the
Fleet brass. But, to be honest, I never related the
name and your origins with the arrogant bastard that
the Enterprise met on Pollux-4." Then, as he realized
who he's talking with, he attempts to rephrase.

But Ares, shaking his head, comments, "No, that is
exactly right. Apollo was arrogant, and a bastard to
boot. His mother, Leto, was never married to Zeus."

"As for what happened," Scott begins to recall.
"Apollo grabbed the ship and threatened to crush it
like an egg. The away team, the captain, the doctor,
Mr. Chekov and Carolyn beamed down to the planet.
There they found this arrogant man who said he was the
sun god. He was taken with the beauty of Lt. Carolyn
Palamis. When he grabbed her, I pulled my phaser and
pointed at him."

"You did?" Ares interrupts. "Then I'm surprised
you're still alive. Apollo was known for never
accepting a challenge if he didn't leave the opponent
dead. Once, he skinned alive a satyr who challenged
him to a music competition."

"Well, he answered my challenge all right." The
engineer recalls. "He punched the lights out of me.
Sent me flying like a rag doll."

"Did you..." the Olympian stops for a second,
"challeng my brother on any other occasion?"

"Well, yes." Scott replied, after scratching his
head. "On two other occasions, when he came back
without Carolyn and refused to say what had happened
with her, I tried to hit him with a small statue. I
even called him 'Bloody Sarracen'. And again, when
Captain Kirk ordered us all to insult the arrogant
bastard, hoping it would get him too exhausted. On
the first confrontation, Apollo responded with an
electric shock that would have killed me had Dr. McCoy
not been there. During the second confrontation, your
brother seemed ready to kill the four of us, Kirk,
McCoy, Chekov and myself, but Carolyn interfered,
begging him for our lives, and we were spared."

Ares sighed, muttering something to his glass, before
draining it. The Scott wanted to know what it was.
The admiral repeated, "Poor Apollo. He must have been
too weak. He could never, ever, stand anyone
challenging him. Once he was challenged, he always
responded with lethal force. To resist killing you
not once, but several times...is horrible."

After a few seconds of silence, Scott asked Ares,
"And, do you also have an extra appendix in your
chest?" At the Olympian's blank look, he added. "Dr.
McCoy clearly detected an unknown organ in your
brother's chest. We deduced that the 'god' was able
to channel his power thru that organ, like an eel
sends electric discharges."

Ares sighed, again and poured himself a full glass of
Saurian brandy, draining it before speaking. "No, I
don't have an extra organ," he said finally. "Apollo
was the god of medicine, however, and if by creating a
biological device, he could survive when the rest of
his family died, he would do it. It was a sign of how
weak he was that he had to fall back on an organic
appendix."

As Scotty clears his throat, he helped himself to
another glass of scotch, and adds, "For what It's
worth, I'm sorry for the fate of your brother. I
realized at the moment I saw the phaser fire hit the
temple, that by destroying the source of his power, we
were not only killing an intelligent being, we were
also destroying a piece of history."

They stayed in silence for a few seconds, thinking.
Finally, Ares shakes himself. "Enough of the sad
things," the Olympian says. "Lets turn back to happier
matters. How is the research for transwarp going?"
They make small talk over the three bottles, and after
the liquor disappears, they have another three, just
for good measure.

Their conversation eventually turns to how both are
adapting to living outside their time.

"You see, Scotty, even though my time was a lot
farther and more different than yours, we were both
taken from our respective era and physically dumped
here." Ares comments, saying, while taking a swill
from the bottle of blood wine (why do I need the glass
anyway?) "And anyway, we should be thankful we're
still alive. It's a better fate than the rest of my
family had."

"Mine as well. I was always the engineer. Never had
time for anything else. My only true love, was the
Enterprise." The engineer muttered, which depresses
them both again. Then, Scotty looked up with a bright
smile on his face and said, "Hey!! I've got an idea!
Lets build a memorial on Pollux-4. Something for
people to remember the your family. God knows, I'd
love to do something like that for my own family, but
it wouldn't be as easy."

"Yes, that's a great idea," Ares smiled as well. "Not
only will I immortalize the names of those who were
there when Apollo died, but I'll go one step further.
There won't just be a physical construction, but an
apology and eulogy as well, something that should have
been done a long time ago."

"I'm sure the Federation will grant the eulogy," Scott
grimaced. "And the building of the memorial, as long
as it doesn't cost them, but you'll definately need a
strong pull to make them issue an apology."

"I'm not worried about it," the Olympian grinned.
After taking the last swig of the Saurian Brandy,
responds, "I've a pretty strong pull by myself, and
lots of my followers that also have pull. You know
what, Scotty? Since it was the Captain of the
Enterprise who caused the death of my brother, it
should be the captain of the Enterprise who reads the
apology."

Part III
The Best, the only ship

On the bridge of the Sovereign class ship, Enterprise,
Captain Picard, as he was reading the recently posted
casualties list, commented to his commander, "This is
horrible, Number One. Even after Chin'Toka, we keep
losing numerous ships and people to the Dominion."

"That's what a war is, sir."

"Sir," Mr. Data reported to the Captain, "we're
receiving a communication from Deep Space 4."

"Another mission?" asked Deanna.

"Possibly," Commander William Riker replied. "They're
coordinating the Third Fleet and the Romulan Sixth
detachment."

Moments later, upon the view screen, instead of the
familiar face of Admiral McCullock, the bridge crew of
the Enterprise saw the handsome face of Ares, self
proclaimed God of War.

Picard, as always, is the first to recover. "Admiral,
it's a surprise to see you. What can we do for you?"

"Captain," the Olympian answered, "could you grant me
permission to come aboard."

"Certainly, sir. You're welcome aboard my ship
anytime you wish." As soon as the Captain had said
that, the bridge crew watched as the dark admiral
flashed from the view screen and appeared a second
later on the bridge of the Enterprise. "I didn't mean
it literally, sir." Claimed a startled Picard, "but
since you're here, once again, what can we do for
you."

"I've got a new mission for the Federation Flagship,"
the Olympian stated. "But it would be better if we
discussed it in private."

The captain nodded and answered, "Of course." Then,
they both entered the ready room.

As Jean-Luc sat behind his desk and motioned Ares to
sit as well, the Olympian looked around, pausing a
second to see the ready room, a reflection of the
captain's mind. The fishbowl, the ship's models and
the picture of the Enterprise, before turning back to
the captain.

"I don't need to be a betazoid to know that you aren't
comfortable with me. Can I ask why that is?"

"Nothing is wrong," Picard tries diplomatically, "you
just startled me with your sudden appearance."

"Now, that isn't a completely true statement," the GOW
commented with a smile, leaning back in the chair.
"But what reason would you have to lie? Oh, maybe
it's because as an admiral, any criticism could have
repercussions," he raised his hand to stop the
captain. "I know, I know. Let me rephrase that. I
promise you that anything you say to me right now,
will have no impact on my view of you, your ship or
your crew. But, I'd certainly appreciate a little
honesty."

Jean-Luc then rose from his chair, straightening his
vest. "Very well. My main problem with you is with
the uniform that you're using. It's not right that you
wear it with stars in your collar. Not without having
suffered and sweated and bled over it. Everyone else
has to rise through the ranks in the same way, why
should you be any different? I'm not trying to
diminish the brilliant participation that you've had
in the war effort," he quickly added, "but it's
disturbing to me that someone, anyone, just jumps over
the entire system that the fleet was founded upon."

During the entire the speech, Ares remained silent.
When Picard fell silent after that brief explanation,
he started speaking. "Are you finished?" When Picard
nods yes, he continues. "I admire the conviction and
will power that you have, Captain. In my day and age,
I have no doubt you'd be someone like Alexander of
Macedonia, a great lawgiver and statesman. But, to
answer your concerns, I've has sweated and bled, and
felt more pain than anyone in the entire history of
mankind. The reason for that is that I feel the pain
of everyone that suffers under my symbol. It doesn't
matter if they are Betazoids, Humans, Klingons, or
Romulans. Every drop of blood that falls, every bead
of sweat, every pain is mine, for I feel it. As for
the rank, being a Starfleet Vice Admiral, or a Klingon
General, or a Romulan Commodore, my newest title,
those have always been the ideas of the people in
charge of the system, not mine. Now, if the Captain
of the Enterprise has finished venting his
frustrations, maybe we can continue."

Suitable chastised, Picard sat again. "I apologize.
Situations have been tense lately, and neither my crew
nor I have had any leave for over ten months."

"I understand." Ares nodded. "Then my presence
should be welcome, for the mission I have for the
Enterprise is away from the war zone. The ship will
head for Starbase 104, where we'll will rendezvous
with the USS Apollo, proceeding then to Base 22 for
another rendezvous with the USS Ares, heading then to
their final destination, in Pollux 4."

"Why are we meeting with those ships, in that order?"
Jean-Luc Picard asked. "It makes no sense stopping at
those bases instead of going straight to Pollux 4, and
what is our mission in that planet?"

"To answer the first question, we're meeting the
Apollo and the Ares because they're accompanying the
Enterprise on this mission. As for the second
question," Ares pulled out a PADD, and gave it to
Picard, "Starfleet has received orders from the
Federation to have a memorial service on Pollux 4
which has been renamed 'Olympia'. There will also be
a monument dedicated to my family, whose last member
was murdered by the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701. Your
job, as Captain of the Flagship of the Federation,
will be to recite the apology and the eulogy."

"Apology?" Picard said.

Ares nods his head, yes. "The Federation Government
is issuing a formal apology to me, for the
participation of a Star Fleet vessel on the death of
Apollo. The presence of Captain Vargas and Captain
Andoni is just an added bonus, the Captains of the
ships with names of Olympians, names of beings that
really existed."

"I don't agree with this idea of an apology," Jean-Luc
says.

"It wouldn't be the first time." Ares interrupts
before the Captain could continue. "During the first
missions of the Star Fleet, before the Prime
Directive, many ships interfered and damaged other
cultures. There have been seventeen apologizes made
in the past fifty years alone."

"Yes, but never for murder."

"First time for everything, Captain. There's a first
time for everything."

"Yes, and orders are orders." sighed Jean-Luc. "You
won't have to concerned. I'll perform them to the
best of my abilities. In the meantime, if you wish
it, I offer you quarters on the Enterprise?"

"Thank you, captain." The Olympian replies. "Indeed,
I'll stay on board."

"Commander Riker," Picard calls, touching his badge.
"Admiral Ares will be staying. Please find him
appropriate quarters."

"Aye, sir," Will answered, entering the ready room.
"Would you please follow me, Admiral?"

"With pleasure, Mr. Riker, with pleasure."

Part IV
You have problems, you just don't know it.


As they passed through the bridge, Ares spotted
Deanna, and stops following Riker. "Excuse me," he
said to her. "Is there any relation between you and
ambassador Lwaxana Troi?"

"Yes." The counselor nods. "The ambassador is my
mother."

"Figures," chuckles Ares. "You're very much alike;
maybe you could stop by my quarters later. There are
a few things I'd like to discuss with you."

When she hesitates, he adds, "If you're uncomfortable
with me, I can make it an order to report to me.
Unless there is an emergency, come to my quarters in
one hour." Then he nods at her and proceeded to the
turbo lift.

At the lift, Riker asks, "If I may ask, what do you
want with Troi?"

"You may not," Ares answers. "It's a personal
conversation between an officer and the ship's
counselor. If she thinks it will affect my
performance, she will tell you. Otherwise, back off."

"I understand." The commander nods. "I must warn
you, however, if you even look the wrong way at
Deanna, I'll make you regret it."

"You're brave," Ares laughs. "Stupid, but brave; the
conversation I'll have with Deanna won't result in any
kind of harm for her, it might even bring her a few
benefits. I know is not easy, but trust me."

One hour later, the chime sounds in Ares quarters.
Deanna entered and made herself at attention. She's
wearing her uniform with commander pips, instead of
the informal purple dress she was wearing on the
bridge. Ares has also changed, leaving his Starfleet
uniform for his normal black leathers.

"Please sit down, counselor."

"First, I'd like to know first why have I been ordered
here."

"I asked you to come, because making an appointment to
see the counselor on a personal matter would reflect
badly on my image of an omnipotent being." He
answered her. "Now, will you sit or do I have to
order you to do that, as well."

"No, no I'm sorry!" She cried, surprise in her eyes.
"I just didn't expect, well, you, to have emotional
problems."

"Counselor," smiling, the Olympian tells her, "I woke
up in a completely different world and universe than
the one I left. Yet, everything is exactly the same
in many ways. Conflicts, wars, and death. Everything
is a constant. Only this time, the deaths number in
tens of millions, instead of thousands. They die and
call on my name."

"Do you feel responsible for all those deaths?"

"I _am_ responsible." Ares leaned his head back,
replying with emphasis. "I'm responsible for everyone
that wears the locket, and indirectly responsible for
everyone they kill."

"That would be a load too heavy for anyone to carry."
Deanna comments.

"I'm not anyone," answers Ares. "I'm a GOD."

"Assuming you're not just another life form," Troi
begins in her counselor voice, "with delusions of
grandeur and other things. Let's just say that,
indeed, you are a god, it will eventually become too
heavy."

Agreeing with that statement, Ares responded, "Yes,
let's assume all that, I'm not offended. Well, that
moment hasn't come yet, and hopefully, it won't come.
What's been hitting me very hard, lately, has been the
absence of my family; they were supposed to be with me
forever, but they are gone. 'Survivor complex', I
believe is what it's called by 24th century shrinks."

"Knowing and acknowledging a problem is only the first
step toward recovery." Deanna soothingly tells him in
her Counselor's tone of voice, "If you want, I might
be able to help. How long will you be staying on the
Enterprise?"

"Oh, you can help." Grinned the Olympian, "but not
with any of that psychobabble. Instead, there's
another way."

"And what's that?" Deanna asks him, suspiciously.

"It's nothing sexual in nature, if that's what you
thought. You psychiatrists always did have sex on
your minds." When she doesn't even crack a smile, he
added. "That was a joke, Counselor. Betazoids are
supposed to have sense of humor."

"Now when in session, Admiral."

"You asked how?" he continues, "It's by not making the
same mistakes that I did before."

"And what mistakes would those be?"

"I was never close to my family...to be honest, they
despised me. Most of them, at least. I kind of got
along with my sisters, Eris and Aphrodite. Then,
after a long discussion about his wife's sexual needs,
I also got along with my brother Hephaestus. But my
mother, my father, everyone else in my family -- to
say we were dysfunctional is to put it very lightly.
Now, I know they are gone, but your mother and baby
brother are still here, still alive."

"You don't have any right to meddle in my private
life!" Deanna exclaims. "Admiral or not, you don't
have any right!"

"It's you who don't understand!" the GOW cried out
loud. "I stood alongside Lwaxana in the battle of
Betazed. I saw her in the middle of a fight, with no
more protection than her conviction to free her world.
She might have gotten killed, and any opportunity to
get close to her would be gone. Have you even met your
baby brother? Odan?"

"Through...the com-link," Deanna answered him
hesitatingly.

"I knew you hadn't before the liberation of Betazed."
The GOW said, shaking his head, "but I'd hoped you'd
taken the time to meet him."

"In case you hadn't noticed, Admiral," Troi says,
"Because of the war, the Enterprise has been kept
busy."

"Indulge me, counselor? Why are you fighting in this
war?"

"If you had earned that uniform you're not wearing
right now, you'd know we're all fighting to protect
the Federation, which is our home."

"And why is this 'home' worth protecting?"

"Because," she answers between clenched teeth, "all
the people I love, live here."

"So," says Ares, "you're fighting for love; love of
persons you don't know, persons you hadn't even known
about, like your sister Kestra (*)."

"Admiral or not, you've no right to bring my dead
sister up."

"Why not?" asking her, "Is it because this is the same
thing? Are you afraid of meeting Odan in such
dangerous times? Or, is it that you resent you mother
for not staying faithful to the memory of your
father."

"Why are you doing this?" she asks, crying now.

"When I was linked with your mother, I found out that
Lwaxana thought she was successful in almost every
aspect of her life, except when it came to her
daughter. In that matter, she couldn't understand why
she didn't get along with the person most important in
her heart. The truth is," he says, "the ambassador
feels neglected by you counselor, and I like your
mother. That is why I've invited her and her son to
Pollux 4, for the commemoration. Maybe now you can
find the time to get together for a little while."

With difficulty, the counselor composed herself,
asking the admiral to be dismissed. At his nod, she
left, heading straight to Ten-Forward, where she
orders a chocolate and brandy sundae.

* From the Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode
'Dark Page'

Part V
It's about family

About an hour after Deanna Troi departed, suddenly,
the door to Ares' room opens without a chime.
Launching through the door, a furious, bearded man
goes straight for the throat of the Olympian.

"I warned you!" Commander Riker cried. "You shouldn't
have hurt Deanna!"

Despite his height and physique, the commander is no
match for the GOW. After the element of surprise
passes, Ares launched a kick to the commander's
midsection, putting Will flat on his chest. Two
seconds after that Riker has his arm painfully twisted
behind him in an elbow lock.

"Now," Ares asked, his voice heavy with amusement, "do
you have these violent impulses out of your system?"
When Riker grunts his assent, he releases the
commander's arms, letting him go.

"I know this attack'll probably end my career," Riker
mutters belligerently to him, as he stands proudly.
"But I will not allow you to hurt Deanna! After I
find out what you did to her, neither heaven nor hell,
God nor demon, will stop me from making you pay for
hurting her."


"And by some chance, did you happen to bother
questioning her as to why she was so upset?" The GOW
inquires.

"She wouldn't talk to me about it."

Going over to the soft couch within his quarters, he
elegantly sat down, presenting to the commander with a
regal bearing. A smile of inward amusement on his
face, the Admiral tells Riker, "Then, I guess it's up
to me to explain," Pointing to the chair next to the
couch, he continues, "Why don't you have a seat,
Commander." After Riker refuses to comply, he added
to that statement, "And since you're being entirely
too stubborn, that's an order! Now, since you're so
concerned with your Deanna, why don't we wait a moment
and talk about you, first?"

"What about me?"

"How's your relationship with your father?"

"I don't think that's any of your business. (*)"

"Then let me answer for you," Ares looks at the
commander calmly and states in a condescending tone,
"from the time you were a child, you've had trouble
accepting your mother's death. You blamed your father
for it, which drove the initial wedge between the two
of you.

"The young Will Riker thought that his father, Kyle
Riker had abandoned him, which in turn, led him to the
Academy, where he found his calling. How am I doing
so far?" When Riker's face becomes red from
embarrassment, the commander turns his face down, not
able to meet the GOW's eyes. Continuing to talk, Ares
went on, "But, during the entire time he was going
through the academy, being placed at his individual
posts and his final placement upon the Starship
Enterprise, where he became it's famous commander,
William Riker refused to even think about his father.
The relationship between father and son was so
nonexistent, that when Kyle Riker almost died during a
Tholian attack, Lieutenant Commander Riker, of the USS
Hood wasn't even notified. The reason was because the
Lieutenant Commander had made it quite clear that he
didn't have a father."

Stunned in silence as Ares reviewed his life, after
that last comment, Will finally cries out with his
conviction. "I made my peace with my father."

"OH, you did indeed!" the GOW cuts back in, agreeing.
"When Kyle Riker smuggled himself aboard the
Enterprise. Knowing he wasn't welcome, he came to try
to make peace with you somehow. Correct me if I'm
wrong, but isn't it a fact that once here, you did
everything you could to antagonize your father. And,
as far as the reconciliation goes, to get what you're
so quick to brag about, the two of you had a fight in
the Arena. What kind of 'burying the axe' was that?
It doesn't look to me as if that was any type of
reconciliation at all.

"Also, in the nine years that have passed, there
hasn't been one shore leave nor one minute of free
time you've had, that you spent with your father. You
don't have the same excuse Deanna had, about being too
far away. On several occasions, both of you have been
in the same sector and yet, not even a call was
made-on either side."

Riker cleared his throat and asks, "Is this same kind
of grilling that happened to Deanna?"

"Yes," Ares nods. "In her case, it was necessary. I
LIKE Lwaxana, and in a job like mine, one doesn't like
many people. And I'm liked even less than that. In
your case, however, I decided to tell you simply
because you wanted to know."

"Why was it necessary for Deanna to endure this?"
Riker queried the War God, very upset.

"Have you talked to your Captain? Has he told you what
this mission is about?" When Riker shakes his head
no, Ares explains further, "This mission is for the
remembrance of my family. A family that was far more
dysfunctional than either yours or Deanna's. But for
all the problems we had, I still loved them. Now,
they're all gone. It's too late to make peace with
them. All I can do is listen to an apology that is
not felt, and erect a monument, a memorial in
remembrance to them.

"You, on the other hand, still have a choice. The
chance for you to correct your mistakes is possible.
Kyle Riker and Lwaxana Troi are still alive. Maybe,
just maybe, if I make a few calls, your father can be
ferried to Pollux 4 or as it's now called Olympia.
Maybe then, you can have some quality time together.
IF you that's what you want. I won't go through with
bringing him here, if it isn't what you want."

Head down, Will mumbles something. Not able to see
Ares smile, for the God had clearly heard what he'd
said, Ares asks anyway. "What was that?"

"I'd like that, if possible." Riker told him loud and
clear, meeting his eyes directly for the first time
since they'd met.

After nodding in agreement and telling the commander
he'll arrange it, Ares watches as the first officer
leaves the room in pretty much the same state the
ship's counselor left some time ago, and in the
deepest reaches of his dark soul, the last Olympic
feels that this time, he's doing something worthwhile.

* Riker's relationship with his father was explained
in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, 'The
Icarus Factor'.

Part VI
We couldn't, they can.

Over the next few days, Ares is in and out of the
ship, making sure that someone on the Enterprise is
always aware when he leaves and when he arrives.
Difficult as it was for him to go through the motions
of normal people, he recognized the necessity of it.

When they rendezvoused with the Apollo, Captain Isabel
Vargas called Jean-Luc on a private frequency. "I'm
at a loss as to why we're doing something as useless
as building a memorial, especially when there is a war
going on."

"Admiral Ares gave me some good advice," Picard
replies. "He told me to think of it as a shore leave.
You know what Chavela? It's working."

"I know we all needed shore leave, Jean-Luc," she
commented. "But I've a lot of doubts concerning this
being. Who's he to issue orders to such experienced
officers as you or me?"

Unfortunately for her, Ares was paying attention to
their comlink. "I don't care what you think, Captain,"
he interrupted them and emphasized, "This memorial is
getting built. If you don't want to be present, you
can give command _permanently_ to your first officer,
who hopefully knows how to follow orders. Especially
orders that bring a leave in time of war to an
overstressed crew."

"Admiral," Captain Vargas tried to apologize, "I just
wanted to..."

"I don't care if you're sorry!" Ares cut her off with
a harsh reply. "Particularly since you're clearly not
sorry. Now be smart and shut your mouth." abruptly
finishing his side of the comlink.

A few minutes later, Picard contacted the GOW,
"Admiral," Jean-Luc began. "I wanted to..."

"Is that how I'll always be thought of?" the Olympian
stopped him. "As an outsider? A barbarian? Someone
who doesn't have a place in the here and now?"

"I wouldn't know." The captain answers. "I didn't
call you to talk about the incident with Captain
Vargas. I just wanted to invite you to have dinner
with me. There're a few things I want to go over with
you, and I prefer to say them in a rather informal
environment."

"Gladly, Captain." Ares calmly accepted. "I'll be in
your quarters at 1930 hrs, if that's all right with
you."

"1930, then."

At exactly 1930 hours, Ares rings the chimes on
Picard's door. The GOW had opted to wear his black and
red uniform, instead of his normal leathers. With the
disappointment over what Captain Vargas thought of
him, he didn't want to push his luck with the fleet's
best. What he didn't expect was an attractive dark
skinned woman, dressed in a very funny robe, answering
the door.

"Good evening, Admiral." She saluted. "I'm Guinan, a
close friend of Captain Picard, and unless you object,
I'll be joining you for dinner."

"Not at all, madam." Ares answered her as he entered
the Captain's quarters. "I'm pleased to meet you," He
continued to speak with a lot more respect than he
usually showed to anyone. There was something about
this woman that clearly demanded respect.

"Dinner will be ready in a matter of minutes,"
Jean-Luc called from the inside. "I hope you can eat
regular food, Admiral."

"I can," Ares said while producing a bottle of wine.
"I brought this for you. It's an original Picard
Chateau from 2212."

"What did you just say?" Captain Picard exclaimed.
"2212? That year is supposed to be the best of all
times. I'm impressed." Examining the bottle, he
adds, amazement in his voice, "this isn't wine, it's a
treasure."

"Then it should be shared," Ares told him. "Shared
with good company."

As they dined on a wonderful meal of steak au poivre,
Ares commented how surprised he is to find real meat
with real vegetables and condiments. Picard then
tells him he should thank Guinan, because she keeps a
small hydroponics cache for special occasions. This
certainly qualified as one for all of them. Ares
smiled while thanking her. Although he didn't need to
eat, Ares truly enjoyed food because if made him feel
more at home, and this recipe was excellent.

The three of them made small talk during the main
course, avoiding such themes as the war or the
mission. After they'd all finished, Jean-Luc served
his guests coffee and chocolate covered cheesecake for
desert. As they were consuming the desert, Picard
finally got down to the purpose of the evening.

"Tell me, Admiral, don't you think you were too hard
on the Captain of the Apollo?"

"Actually, no I don't." the Olympian answered his
question. "As I told you, it wasn't my idea to be
promoted to Admiralty. But, because that is my rank,
I expect to be treated and obeyed no differently than
any other who carries the same rank. However, no
matter what you may have heard of me, I'm not
vindictive. I won't put her on report."

"You don't consider yourself vindictive?" Guinan
asked him. "That's interesting. By all accounts in
mythology, all of the Greek Pantheon were petty and
cruel. What changed you?"

"The little of history of me and my family that was
preserved in legends became corrupted in later years,"
Ares replied, telling them truthfully, "For the most
part, we were completely forgotten in the dark
centuries of the middle age. Yes, the Olympians were
arrogant and maybe whimsical, but not evil, and of
course," he finished with a flourish, a grinning smirk
on his face. "Two and a half millennia years locked up
can change anyone."

"I'm extremely relieved to hear that," Picard told
him. "I've known Isabel for a long time. A little
slip of the tongue shouldn't end a career." Ares
nodded in silence which extends for a few seconds
until the Olympian asked them, "What's the real reason
I was invited over for dinner? Obviously, it wasn't
just for the company or the conversation so far."

Picard shook his head with a thoughtful frown, before
commencing. "As I've told you, I've many concerns over
your presence in this day and age. It concerns me
that people have begun following you as a god of war.
It concerns me what will you do after the war is over.
Finally, it definatelly concerns me, when the only two
of my senior officers who have seen you, have been
working well bellow their normal efficiency. The
first and the second matters, I'd like to discuss them
with you, but it's up to you if we do or don't. But
as for the last, if the change of behaviors in
Commander Riker and Counselor Troi are a result of you
being on the Enterprise...that's something that needs
to be resolved here and now."

The GOW looked at the Captain with a thoughtful gaze
and nodded, rubbing his beard for a few seconds, "Have
you talked with either Riker or Troi about their
recent change in mood?" he asked.

"I asked them both." Guinan was the one who answered
him. "The two of them responded that this mission has
brought unexpected complications, but refused to
elaborate."

Ares went still, finally taking the moments to just
analyze her presence. After looking at her for a
moment, "You're not...human, are you?" he asks. "I've
not met anyone with your sense of presence, in a very,
very long time."

"No, I'm El-Aurian."

"Of course," Ares exclaims, snapping his fingers.
"I've heard about your race. Too few of them are left
in the universe." Then, when he composed himself, he
added, "This mission is indeed as much about Deanna
Troi as myself. During the battle of Betazed, I
linked my consciousness with ambassador Troi. I came
to know that the powerful and lively Lwaxana feels she
isn't good enough as a mother. Her only wish is that
she could be as open with her daughter as she is with
the rest of the universe. I've just told that to
Deanna. I think it made her realize that for all her
empathic powers, she's as distant from her mother as
her mother is from her. Her change in behavior will
most likely end when she comes to terms with the
situation. I've high hopes it'll end when they're both
in the same place without arguing. That just might
happen on Olympia."

"And what's the deal with Riker?" Guinan inquired.

"It was pretty much the same thing," the Admiral
answered her. "For all the sentimental speeches
exchanged when Kyle Riker smuggled himself aboard the
Enterprise nine years ago, they've never gotten
together again, not for one minute. It might just be
me, but it sure doesn't look like they've reconciled.
With a little luck, they'll reconcile soon, for Mr.
Riker'll also be on Pollux 4 on a few days."

Picard took a last sip from his coffee before asking,
"Admiral, what gives you the right to mess with the
emotions of two persons?"

The GOW growled before taking a deep breath, holding
his temper with both hands. "Captain, while I don't
have the pleasure of meeting Kyle Riker, ambassador
Troi is a friend and being. Because of who I am, I
don't have many friends. So, I'm very much willing to
pull a few strings to make someone happy who truly
deserves it."

He looks at both of them, reading their souls as much
as he can without intruding into their private selfs.
"You should understand better than most, Captain."
Ares began. "This will be a chance for Will and
Deanna that the three of us don't have anymore." When
they looked at him with surprised expressions, he
added, "I know. I do know that neither of you ever
got along with your parents. I don't know why in your
case, Guinan, but the Captain's soul fairly screams
the reason. Your father was a traditional wine-maker
in France, wasn't he? He disapproved of your career
choice. In fact, he gave you a choice, didn't he?
Stay on the vineyards or stop being his son?"

"Yes," Picard replies with a lot of emotional control.
"He did, and I chose. And I've no regrets
whatsoever."

Then Ares turns to the El-Aurian, asking her, "And
you, what was your problem?"

"Like Jean-Luc," she quietly told him, "it was my
career choice. My studies of other-world cultures
made a rift between us. And then, the Borg came,
leaving nothing but destruction behind. I survived
because, as usual, I wasn't home when the attack
came."

"That devastation eliminated any possibility of
reconciliation?" Ares asked knowing it wasn't really
a question. He sighed, looking at the window. "My
case was a lot worse. Almost all of my family not just
hated, but despised me. Now, they're gone. All I can
do is to listen to an eulogy, recited by an officer
who doesn't even think that the Olympians deserve it."

"That's not true, Admiral." Picard defended himself,
but Guinan put a hand on his shoulder. "It's true
Jean-Luc. You're only doing the eulogy because you
were ordered to, not for any other reason."

"Yes," the Captain agreed, "but that doesn't mean I
think the Olympians don't deserve recognition. They
gave a lot to mankind, and mankind is grateful for
it."

Ares stood suddenly, telling them that while it's been
a lovely evening, right now, there's a Dominion
assault on Klingon Defense Station 17 that he needs to
go and help. With a thought, he changed his red and
black uniform to his usual black leathers, and
disappeared in a flash of light.

As they were cleaning, Jean-Luc questioned, "What's
your impression of the Olympian Admiral, Guinan?"

"He's troubled," she told him, "I'm willing to bet
that when his family was around, he thought he didn't
need them. But, now they're gone, he's feeling bad.
Guilty for surviving and sad for never making peace
with them. I know what he's going through, because I
feel the same way."

"There wasn't anything you could've done for your
planet," Picard said, hugging her.

"I know," Guinan nodded to him. "But Ares is right.
With any luck, neither Will nor Deanna will ever feel
this way."

"Luck?" Picard asked before putting the final dishes
in the dispenser. "Luck isn't what Ares needs to get
emotionally reunited with his parents."

---
Note: 'Chavela' is a diminutive of Isabel

Part VII
You are the one I didn't want to meet

With only one day from their final destination, Ares
came back to the Enterprise. He's exhausted! The
bloody Jem'Hadar just didn't know when to quit. On
their assault of Klingon Station 17, they'd extended
the battle for three days. Casualties had climbed,
over 70 enemy ships were destroyed. If truth were
known, the base wouldn't have been able to withstand
the assault on the final day. But, luckily, the
eleventh Romulan detachment arrived just when the
defenses were about to be breached.

'I could have stopped it.' Ares couldn't help but
think. 'I could have destroyed the entire enemy fleet
and saved thousands of lives. I was ready to do so,
if the shields had collapsed.' But what stopped him,
was his determination to let the mortals fight and win
on their own. It was only sometimes, with the death
toll so high, that his determination seemed to
falter.

Last night, he was aboard the USS Ares with Commander
Trevi, but tonight, he wanted to be alone, preparing
himself for the next day. He wanted to be able to
walk among the spirits of his family.

Resting on his bed, when the door chimes, he exclaims
in his mind, 'Fuck!' releasing it as a big sigh. He
knew who was outside and also knew what this person
wants. He knows there's no possible way for him to
help this unique individual. As another sigh escapes
him, he gets up and calls out, "Come in, Data."

"Admiral," The android said as he entered. "How did
you know who was at the door?"

"I felt it," Ares answered Data. "As an android,
you've a completely different 'feel' than any other
being. What can I do for you."

"As you may know," Data began, "for some time, I have
emulated humans. A few years ago, I acquired a chip
that provide me with emotions. Now, I can express
things I couldn't before. More than that, during the
years that I've been, 'active', I have grown mentally
and psychologically, with some interest in spiritual
growth."

"Are we near the point, Mr. Data?" Ares inquired a
little exasperated.

"I apologize," Data responds. "If I'm making you
uncomfortable, I can leave. There's no real reason to
disturb you sir."

"Mr. Data," when the android prepares to leave, Ares
called to Data, leaning back on his bed, "Go on,
please. Just hurry up! I'm very tired."

"Yes sir," Data responded. "I first became aware of
religious beliefs on Stardate 45716, when two catholic
nuns came aboard the Enterprise. I questioned what
could lead a person to give his or her own life to a
being that might not exist. Captain Picard answered to
me, saying" - adopting Picard's voice - "Consider this
Data, in all the myriad cultures we have encountered,
every one of them has included a philosophy, a
religion, that deals with questions surrounding the
meaning of existence. Are we more than a cosmic
accident? And if so, why are we here? Where did we
come from? Is there a God? Is death a finality or a
transition? Where do we go? These are the questions
asked by every sentient civilization. In everyone of
them, there've been those individuals whose lives are
dedicated to striving for the answers, answers that
each person must come by himself, by study, by talking
to others, by cultural background; some would say by
praying and meditation.(**)" He finished using the
Captain's voice and continued in his own. "In the last
6 years, I've dedicated a significant amount of time
to the study of religion, but this might be my only
chance to talk with somebody who calls himself 'God.'"

"Is that so?" Ares asks. "I've read that this ship
has been in contact with beings known as the 'Q'. By
all accounts, they're gods."

"That may be, Admiral." Data agreed. "But the
difference is that the Q have never claimed divinity.
Ever. Logically therefore, for all their power, they
don't consider themselves gods, unlike you."

"Very well, they're not gods." The Admiral nodded,
closing his eyes. He's sure what the next words
coming out of Data's mouth will be. "Please go on."

"Do I have a soul?".

The Olympian stood up, going over to a cabinet and
pulled a bottle of bloodwine. After taking a long
swing, he turned back to Data and said, "I don't
know." He went closer to the android and adds, "I
really can't answer. I'm sure mortals have souls,
but, myself, my family, and you, Mr. Data, I just
don't know."

"What do you mean?"

"Use that marvelous positronic brain, and consider the
following:" Ares wanted to make him think, "My family
and I, we were supposed to be immortal. And yet, the
entire Pantheon is dead. What happened to them?
Being an android would put you in the same position."

"So, I'm like you because I don't age?"

"Not only that," Ares nods. "All your body parts can
be replaced. Not only can you live forever, you can
also improve yourself physically, mentally and
psychologically. When we get down to the heart of the
matter, neither of us is mortal, even if it has been
proven that we can die."

"If you cannot answer me," Data asks, "who can?"

"As much as it pains me to say this," the GOW replied
with another deep sigh, "it's very likely that Picard
was right. It's a question of faith. One that must be
resolved by each individual. Personally."

The android remains thoughtful for a few seconds,
calculating different possibilities, before saying, "I
propose the following course of action, I'll swear
myself to your service, and then..."

"NO!" The Olympian interrupts him. "No matter what you
think, I'm not about to accept that pledge. I'm sorry,
but it's not going to happen."

At that final statement, the commander stood up. "I
apologize for having interrupted you, sir." he said,
then leaves the room. The GOW was left alone, thinking
to himself, 'I AM sorry Data, but there are some
things that are best left unexplored.'

** From the Star Trek: The Next Generation Book,
'Guises of the Mind' by Rebecca Neason

Part VIII
The Ceremony

The day finally came. The triad of ships entered
orbit around Pollux-4, finding to their surprise that
the Klingon Imperial Battleship Pik'rach was there as
well, with Gowron and some members of the High
Council. The USS Bellerophon served as transport for
Ambassador Troi, Mr. Kyle Riker, and State Secretary
Jaime B. Adams, in representation of the President of
the Federation.

"Have I said lately how much I hate these new dress
uniforms?" Riker asks rhetorically, pulling once again
on his white coat. "The old ones were so much better."

"Yes Will, you have." Troi replies. "You said pretty
much the same thing just a few minutes ago."

"I don't know why you complain, commander." Geordi
pipes in. "All you have to do is go down and look
pretty. I, on the other hand, had to construct a
platform these last 30 minutes to comply with the
secretary's wishes."

"And I'm sure everything will be fine, Mr. LaForge."
The Captain interrupts, walking into the Transporter
Room. "Everybody here? Good. Let's go down there."

"Are you upset you won't be addressing the eulogy?"
Troi whispers to Picard, so only he can hear. "Ms.
Adams just came and took charge of that."

"I'm not upset, counselor. She's a politician, after
all, but a nice person anyway. Leave it be."

The territory where Apollo's temple was located has
been respected by the colonists who settled there in
the last 70 years. '70 years!' thought Ares, a
little depressed himself. 'All this time, these
mortals have walked on the footprints of the gods, and
they don't even care.'

A small crowd of colonists have gathered for the
event, all is ready and Minister Adams touches a
button in the panel to amplify her voice. "Good
morning." She begins. "My name is Jaime Adams and I
stand here in representation of Federation President
Inyo. We are gathered here to honor..." but she's
amazed when Ares stands up with a surprised look on
his face. "Is there something wrong?"

"Not wrong," he whispered, talking more to himself
than to anyone else. "But something is definitely not
right." He looks into the crowd before setting his
sight on a young woman, blonde haired and blue eyed.

He blinks himself to where she is, not realizing that
his communicator is still active. Everyone will
listen to what he says. He grabs her by the
shoulders, asking her "Who are you? Why do you feel
this way? So different, and yet so familiar?"

"I'm...Apolonia Palamis," she replied with a
frightened look. "Your niece."

---

Jaime Adams is the real name of my friend, JaimeBlue.

Part IX
We're family

No one speaks for long seconds, until the minister clears her throat and says "Maybe this isn't the best time to erect the monument."

This shakes Ares from his stupor, "Of course it is," he said, turning to face the podium. "The ceremony will continue. Nothing is gonna stop me from doing this today of all days." He then turns off his comm-badge, whispering to his niece "Do you know what happened here? The whole story?"

"My mother told me." She nods.

Ares blinks both of them to the podium. After making a chair appear for her, they sit and listen as Minister Adams begins to speak. "Well, this has been quite a turn around. It should no longer a sad moment, but a happy encounter.

"As humans, we recognize the great benefits that were provided by Admiral Ares and his family. A great deal of our culture is based in the Greek philosophy, the first scientific thinkers were Greeks. The government that I represent is a spin off of an idea of Plato. And in representation of this government, I'm truly sorry for the death of Apollo, in this place, over a century ago." The speech continued for some time, following the long tradition of politicians never using one word when a dozen will do.

Finally, she turned toward the GOW, and as they had agreed, asks him if he wants to say a few words. She expected him to say 'no', so that the building of the monument can proceed. Instead, the Olympian admiral stands up saying, "I don't, but since there is someone who can tell us what really happened," pointing at the woman without uniform, inviting her to the presidium. "I want to hear it himself."

"I, I, I'd rather not." Apolonia mumbles, "I can and will speak of this, but, but not in a public occasion. This day has been overwhelming enough."

As Ares looks at her, he smiles, whispering to himself, "So young!" Turning to Minister Adams, he nods his head, telling her, "We'll proceed."

Suddenly, the ground starts to shake, the wind began to increase and something starts to emerge from the ground. All of this happens at the same time that the GOW raises his hand. It's a structure, made completely from white marble, with twelve huge columns in the front, and a golden statue on the top of every column. Right bellow every statue is a name. The names read, from left to right: Hermes, Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hades, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus and Hestia. Bellow the names there is a symbol, again, left to right: a caduceus, a shell, a lute, a javelin, a trident, a lightning bolt, a peacock feather, a helmet, a bow with an arrow notched, a sword, a hammer and a flame.

The entire structure is magnificent, over two kilometers wide, and about ten kilometers long. Ares offered his arm to his niece, saying "Anyone who wants to look inside is welcome." Naturally, the entire delegation enters and are astonished by what's inside. Paintings, tapestries and sculptures that could rival with the best in the known universe. All of them depict scenes from Greek mythology. The birth of the Titans, the battle between Cronos and Uranus, the swallowing of all the children of Rhea, the battle between the Gods and the Titans and so forth. All of them have a beauty that's almost beyond mortal. On the far side, there's a dais, with a white marble altar and a throne, made of ebony and gold.

The GOW patted the small hand on his arm, telling her as he looked at the altar "That's not right." Waiving his hand, a smaller throne made of mahogany and silver appeared. Turning to those who entered, he says to them, "I have to depart, however, as any good host, I invite you to eat and drink to your heart content. In this war, every day is precious."

Tables filled with food and beverages come into existence, making everyone's mouth water. But, there is more food that those there can eat in weeks. "Captains," the Olympian spoke to Picard, Andoni and Vargas, "you should really let your crews down here to enjoy some relaxation."

Captains Vargas and Andoni turn to Picard, since he's the senior officer present after all, waiting for orders. Jean-Luc nods, touches his badge and orders, "Picard to Enterprise."

"Enterprise, Data here."

"Mr. Data, please inform the Alpha shift that they are on leave until tomorrow. When the Beta shift is off duty, they also have a 24 hour leave, and the Delta shift as well."

"Acknowledged. Sir, we detected tectonic activity in your area just a few minutes ago, are you all right?"

"Yes, Commander," Jean-Luc replied. "Also, tell those who want to beam down, there's an awesome artistic display in the recently erected monument. It's a place to be recommended. Picard out."

Isabel and Simon do the same thing and Ares nods at them before popping out with Apolonia.

Part X
What happened there and then

Ares appeared with his niece in the last place anyone would look for them, in his quarters aboard the Enterprise. They begin to sit when Ares' comm-badge beeps. "Admiral Ares," it speaks from the air. "This is Minister Adams. If the woman you took with you is who she says she is, and knows what happened, then I must be present. To give testimony."

Ares sighed and snapped his fingers, making her pop-in. She's a little disoriented, but recovers quickly. "The Enterprise?" she asks, sitting down. "What made you choose this specific place?"

"I could say it seemed just like the right place," he smiles. "But the truth is, I wrongly assumed I wouldn't be located here."

"Be..before I begin," Apolonia cleared her throat, "I...uh...I want to know why you're so ready to believe I'm the daughter of your brother. I could just be a con artist, trying to exploit you."

"As for your first question," Ares chuckled. "I can feel the Olympian blood flowing in your veins which is very similar to what I felt with Ascleptius. As for your second one, if anyone tried to con ME, that person would be, not risking, but insuring a lot of hurt over an extended period of time."

"As a government officer," Jaime interrupts him, "It's her duty to remind you, Admiral, there are courts and laws for that type of behavior. As a Starfleet Officer, it is your duty not only to follow, but to enforce those laws."

"And also," Apolonia follows the minister immediately. "According to what my mother told me, it was an attitude like that which caused my father's demise."

Ares stopped smiling when Ms. Adams began speaking, and by the time that his niece is finished, he's scowling. While using a mental exercise to calm himself, he reaffirms in a quiet voice, "I wasn't exactly kidding, but I wasn't speaking literally either. Now, if we could just continue with what brought us here."

Ms. Palamis starts to retell the account of how her father caught the Enterprise on his hand, how Kirk, McCoy, Scott, Chekov and her mother beamed down to Pollux-4, how her father tried to face down the Captain on several occasions and how she herself was conceived after Apollo took her mother for a walk, over the objections of Commander Scott, and how her mother acted as a barrier to stop the Sun-God from killing the other members of the Enterprise away team.

"I'd gathered as much from my interview with Captain Scott," Ares agreeing with what she said, "But I knew my brother and I'm pretty sure that something else happened."

"Indeed," Apolonia nods, "according to what my mother told me, after she intervened with Apollo, she came back alone. Captain Kirk went to talk to her." The demigoddess paused, taking a deep breath before continuing, "Kirk ordered my mother to betray the Olympian, my father. To spurn him, to have him concentrating his attention on her and spend what little strength he had left.

"As a good officer, Lt. Palamis followed her orders, laughing at my father when he said that he loved her, and then..." her voice breaks a little, "she compared him to a just discovered microbe. This..."

The GOW stood up, interrupting her with rage in his eyes. "I want a post-mortem trial for Kirk." yelling at the minister. "I want the bastard to be court-martialed, found guilty and his record amended."

Having someone as intimidating as the Greek God of War yelling at them would be enough to make almost anyone fold; but Jaime Adams is not anyone, she's a politician, and as such, she's had to walk the fine edge of doing the right thing, instead of what's convenient. "You can ask," responding in a very calm voice, "however, you should be prepared to be told a resounding 'NO'.

"James Tiberius Kirk is a hero for almost everyone in the Federation. He's one of the very few respected human figures in the Klingon and Romulan empires. To try to smudge that reputation will have very nasty consequences for the war effort. Even with the testimony of the young woman here, there isn't enough proof to even begin a murder trial. Let me clarify, the apology issued today isn't an admission of guilt, it only means the Federation government is sorry it happened."

The Olympian growls with anger, but then he calms himself, taking a few deep breaths with his eyes closed. When Ares opens them, he smiled at the brunette woman. "I like brave women," he said, making her blush before she heard, "but you shouldn't take it too far." Turning to his niece, Ares motions her to continue.

"That's pretty much it." She commented, shrugging her shoulders. "The Vulcan, Mr. Spock used the time he had to open a hole in the projected hand trapping the ship. He opened fire and destroyed the temple, making Apollo just - disappear.

"Two months later, my mother found out she was pregnant. She resigned Starfleet and went back to Earth because she wanted to have her child on Delphi. After I was born, we moved to Rigel, where mother began teaching anthropology and Greek culture. I grew up like a normal girl, except that I was never ill until my fifteenth birthday, when I got violently sick for a few hours. My mother took me to the hospital, but I got well on my own. It was after that, I discovered my powers as a demigoddess."

"Which is?" Minister Adams inquired.

"If I concentrate," Apolonia answered her, "I can sense what's wrong with a body. It doesn't matter if is a human body or not. I can heal as well, but it takes a lot out of me."

"That makes sense," Ares said to her, "A child of the house of Beauty and Healing can have power over both of those fields. However, there's something that can change the tiredness." With a snap of his fingers, a cup flashes in his hand. He hands it to her while telling her, "Ambrosia."

Before Apolonia drinks however, Minister Adams raised her hand. "There's one thing I don't understand," she queried. "If what this young lady says is true, then she's over 100 years old, and yet she looks not a day over 30, maybe not even 25. It's inconceivable."

"I can't answer why," Apolonia replied to her question. "But I stopped aging suddenly, after my twenty-seventh birthday. A few years later there was an accident. A building on a frontier world caught on fire while I was in it. I should have died. Not only was I not injured, I was able to keep several more people alive until the relief efforts arrived."

"Every one of the Olympians were capable of bestowing gifts to mortals," the Admiral lectures to them, "and pass along powers from their chosen sphere of influence to their children. In fact, it's entirely possible my brother chose not to kill Carolyn Palamis, because he knew she was pregnant with his child."

"No one, I mean, almost no one calls me by my full name." The blue eyed girl told him, "Since I was a child, I've been called 'Polly'." When Ares grins with mischief in his eyes, she adds, "and I've broken many a nose when someone laughed or compared me to a parrot."

"Well, drink up, girl." Ares ordered her, "and brace yourself for a surprise."

She drank the Ambrosia, staying stiff as a statue for a few moments. Then, a smile starts to appear on her face. She laughs and said, "It's wonderful."

"That it is." Ares agreed with a chuckle. "There's a place where you can do a lot of good with your new abilities." When he turned to Jaime, he asks, "If you wish it, I can transport you to the surface of the planet, or you may take the Enterprise's transporter system if you don't trust me."

"I desire you," she answered him with a half-smile. "I mean, I desire to talk with you, in private, and these quarters seem like a good place as any."

Ares looked a little startled, but agreed, saying he'll be back in a few moments. He turns to his niece, telling her she'll feel a strange sensation. Smiling to himself, 'this way, she'll see how he does the transport. Once she's learned, she'll be able to do it herself.' With that, they disappeared.

---

Curious Fact: In the ST:TOS Episode 'Who mourns for Adonis?" Apollo says that Hera was the first one to die, 'Taken by the wind.' I think he says. On X:WP episode 'God fearing Child' Hera is the first to die. Zeus kills her, taking her in a small tornado.

Part XI
There is a new girl in town

"Dear God," Mother Veronica mutters, awfully tired in her office in Metatron, "please give me strength. I've always been good on administration. The cool, logical discipline I learned in the mountains in Vulcan, seems to have increased the capacity You gave me. But I'm way over my head.

"Managing the 'angelic planets', as everyone call them, has been too much. I'm not alone. There are different committees for different problems: Medicine distribution, energy and food, resettling and accommodation, and others, but it is I who have the horrible position of executive. I've to decide which group of persons gets what and how soon. Please, as you did your servant Salomon, give me a wise heart, a clear mind to decipher what Your Will is."

She was making herself a nice, non-replicated chamomile tea, when a flash appears in her office. "Holy Mother of God!" she screamed, the surprise making her drop her cup, but Ares manages to catch it before it shatters. The nun takes a deep breath with her eyes closed, visibly struggling with her emotions. "How many times have I asked you, ARES," she whispers with her fists closed. "NOT to show up like that."

"Including this one," The GOW replies with a very straight face, "31 times, and since I've made my surprise entrance 32 times, I still have my almost perfect record." After that, they both crack up, laughing and hug each other. "And besides," Ares adds, "some lucky day I'll catches you undressed."

Without losing her smile, Mother Veronica slaps him-hard. "And I'll keep hitting you, until you forget those delusions." She then looks at the surprised face of the young lady that appeared with the him, asking, "And who is this lovely lady?"

"Well, allow me to introduce you my niece, Apolonia. I just appointed her Goddess of Healing. And since there're a lot of people in need here, I think this is a good place for her to start gathering a following of worshippers."

"I can definitely use somebody with her abilities, if she has them," Mother Veronica said without smiling, "but our agreement is quite clear: There will not be pagan propaganda in the Angelic Planets."

"Allow me to correct you," Ares responded to her without losing his smile, "reading the treaty. And I quote 'There won't be any houses of worship for the God of War for the next 5 years, no priests or priestess for 10, and no weapons for 15.' It never mentions temples nor priests of anyone else. Judging both by the letter and the spirit of the agreement, there is nothing that prohibits my niece from being here and gathering worshippers."

Both females open their respective mouths at the same time, clearly to object, but Veronica's secretary, Mother Lamarque enters at that moment. "Forgive me, Mother, for interrupting," she said without breath. "But there are several Klingon transports arriving to Zadkiel. They are the survivors of the battle of Klingon base 217. Unfortunately, we have very few doctors with knowledge of Klingon anatomy and our supplies for Klingon patients are almost gone. What should we do?"

Ares can't help laughing. He then turned to Mother Veronica and told her, "Well, it sure looks like you need a miracle right now. I'll leave to let you sort it out whether or not you need divine intervention or not." Then, he turned to Polly, saying, "I love you, girl. And I know you'll do what's right." Then, he blinks out, leaving the three females before they can argue anything with him.

Part XII
Deciphering ancient tongues

When the GOW blinks back to his quarters, he takes off his dress uniform jacket, and is halfway out of his undershirt, when he heard a loud *ahem* behind him. He stayed frozen for a second, but then, thinks 'These are my quarters, damn it!' And finishes removing his shirt, leaving his chest bared.

He turned to meet Minister Adams and said, "For a second, I forgot you were here."

"So," she raises an eyebrow. "Am I that forgettable?"

"Of course not." The Olympian Admiral told her, "I just have a lot of things in my mind nowadays. But I can always make time to help a beautiful woman, especially one that isn't afraid to stand up to me, knowing that I can blast her into oblivion with just a thought."

"I wasn't afraid," Jaime smiled at him and said sitting down, "and I'm not right now. I've studied you closely for some time. Even as the God of War, or maybe because of it, I know that you don't like to kill, even when you're throwing a tantrum."

"Well, I deserved that one." Ares laughed. "So, what do you want with me? Or maybe of me?"

"Aside from studying you," The Minister told him, "I've studied languages, the old ones from Earth. Do you know what 'Quisiera hacer el amor contigo' means?"

When he shook his head, she continues, "How about 'Voulez-vous coucher avec moi.'"

"No idea." The GOW responds

"And 'Ti hotitye imyet' snosheniye co mnoi'?"

"No, sorry, not anything I know." Ares answered her.

She began to smile, and pulled a button, right above her left breast, collapsing the structural integrity of her dress, leaving her in bright red underwear. He put her arms around his neck and bent over, so she could match his 1.85 meters to her 1.63 meters.

She then said, teasingly, "They all mean, 'I wanna make love with you'" and she kisses him. When he responds enthusiastically she began to lose herself in the passion. Her last conscious thought was: 'I've always wanted an Ares under my Christmas tree.'

Chapter XVI
A mission for the dissatisfied

Chronos, time, has continued advancing, as he always has and always will. It's been a month since the building of the monument. During that period, Apolonia established herself on Zadkiel and kept herself apart from the decision making process, not asking anything in return for her help. She didn't even want her connection with Ares to be known. But, a whisper cannot be stopped. Her selflessness gained her a large following on the Angelic Planets and outside. Those followers' worship made her stronger, enabling her to help more people, who then in turn, worshiped her.

As for the war, it wasn't going well for the Federation and her allies. The Dominion was able to rebuild their fleet and continue with their kamikaze attacks against non-military targets. The commanders of the Klingon and Romulan Empires recognized the pattern as well as Ares. The Admirals in Star Fleet didn't realize and had to have explained to them that terror is an end into itself.

"By threatening all those targets," The Olympian explained, "the Dominion hopes to immobilize our forces; the worst part is, it's working. All our offensives have stopped. The Romulans are a little more aggressive and the Klingons even more so, but we're reacting instead of taking the initiative."

"Ok, we understand that," said Admiral Jellico. "But YOU must understand, we cannot leave our civil targets defenseless. We have to protect our citizens before even considering attacking."

"This argument is circular." sighed the Olympian. "Starfleet cannot compromise to attack, because first it must insure the safety of its inhabitants, and those inhabitants won't be safe, until the Dominion is beaten."

"And that is not all," Admiral Nechayev complains. "In the middle of all this, the Romulans have established a military outpost in one of Bajor moons (*)."

"Shit!"

"I couldn't say it better," continued Alynna. "The Bajoran government demands their retreat and of course the Romulans refuse to evacuate. This conflict between our allies is escalating and could result in the breaking of the alliance. If that happens, we'll have to choose who we support."

"I have some influence with the Romulans," Ares said to them, sighing, something that he seems to be doing a lot lately. "I'll go to DS9, see if I can defuse the situation."

When he appears there, he sensed there are personal problems. "Jadzia isn't happy at all with her marriage," Martok informed the Olympian. "Her ideals of truth and life clash with what she perceives you are about, My God. And the arguments she's having with Worf are becoming legendary in the station."

"So," Ares sighs once again, "In short, she thinks that she should have been allowed to die and is angry with Worf handing her to the cruel God of War."

"In short," responds the Klingon. "Yes."

"Ok, I'll talk with them both, see what I can work out."

After Ares goes to see them, they argue ferociously in front of him. "Having you back," Worf defended himself, "was worth any price."

"I'm your wife!" Jadzia yells. "Not your slave. You had no right to swear me to HIM!"

"Stop this!" The GOW snaps. "This circular kind of argument has been running through the station and your work has begun to suffer from it. Kira has had many talks with you, Jadzia and Martok did the same with you Worf, but those talks haven't seemed to accomplished much. The General, the head of YOUR family, has asked me to look into the matter.

"From what I can understand, I'm the cause of your bickering. Jadzia thinks I was unethical in the way I took your oaths, am I right."

"Damn straight." Jadzia snaps back. "You might think I owe you my life, but you're wrong. I would have lived on in the Dax symbiod. All my experiences, all my memories would have passed on to someone else."

"That might be true," Ares interrupted her tirade. "But this new host of 'Dax' isn't you. The new host isn't the science officer of the Defiant. The new host isn't the person who won all your merits and trophies before you were joined. Most importantly, the new host wouldn't be married to Worf and have a long and happy life expectancy ahead of him or her."

"I'm not impressed," she shot back. "My husband didn't have any right at all to swear in my name."

"OK," Ares answers. "I've never forced anyone to do anything that he or she didn't want in the first place. If you feel so strongly about that, I release you from the oath. All you have to do is remove the locket from your neck. The offer is good for you, Worf, as well."

The Klingon grabbed his wife by the wrists. "Right or wrong, neither of us are going back on my word." When he released the Trill female, he grabbed her shoulders, saying even more firmly, "Regardless of your personal feelings, you're not going to break the oath and remain alive. Not if my honor, and the honor of our family means anything to you."

The Trill brought her hands up, breaking his hold on his shoulders. As she prepares to punch him, the GOW grabbed her hand. "That is quite enough. I understand. Neither of you like me, but Worf, as man of the house feels indebted to me, and Jadzia, as the female of the house, has to obey her husband in this matter, according to Klingon custom.

"Very well, I'll give you an honorable way out, for both of you."

"Remove your hand off my wife." Worf snarled. When the Olympian released her hand, Worf added. "We're interested."

Ares waved his hand and the room is transformed into outer space. "I just transformed this quarters into something akin to a stellar cartography chamber." After explaining to them both, he continues, "This area of Dominion space is interesting. In the Monac System, deep behind enemy lines, there is a valuable objective." pointing at the fourth planet, Ares goes on to say, "Here is the largest shipyard in the Dominion Empire. It is working at 100% capacity. All those ships are taking a heavy toll on the Federation and her allies."

With another wave of his hand, the stellar map disappears, once again leaving a normal room. "The destruction of that objective is the price for your freedom. You don't have to do it by yourselves, but anyone and everyone that you recruit must be willing to give his or her life for you. Not to destroy a valuable objective. Not for the Federation. Not for the Empire. Only for you." After making his final statement, he blinks out.

Two days later, the KISS Rotarran leaves Deep Space Nine, under the command of General Martok. He has followed the ancient tradition of Klingons 'Stand beside your brother, be his cause just or unjust'. About half of his normal crew remained out of loyalty to him. The other half refused to come on this mission, considering it a sacrilege to even think of leaving the ranks of Ares' warriors. The replacements, among them O'Brien, Bashir and Quark, got a crash course in Klingon technology.

Of the Klingons that were aboard the Rotarran, there was a houseless youth, called Rubestel, transferred to the ship the day before she left. He stayed out of loyalty, and because, as he put it, he had no other place to go. This young male turned out to be important for the crew. It was Rubestel who tried to mend the rift between those who are friends of Worf and Jadzia and those who came because of loyalty to their General. He was an easy going fellow, intelligent, but not overly skillful, who more than once tripped over his own feet, but always got up with a joke and a smile.

"I just don't understand you," Bashir told him. "You don't wear a locket, you don't have a family, therefore, any glory you reach will be minimal. You didn't know Worf, Jadzia or Martok until a week ago. This is strictly voluntary duty, more likely suicide mission, and yet you're here. How come?"

"I just want to live and die well, Doctor." The young Klingon answered him. "and by fulfilling my destiny, I'll call my attention to whoever is in the afterlife."

"Well, I'm glad you're here." Commented O'Brien. "You're the only one who's welcome among GENERAL Ares' men, that even talks to us."

"We're not that different," Rubestel says. "We're fighting a common enemy, aren't we? Intolerance."

"I never thought I'd heard a Klingon say that." Bashir whispered.

"I've been thinking," Rubestel whispered back, "what if we could have an honest debate? One where we can discuss our different philosophies? We could even hear from your Ferengi pal."

"Hum, I'd exclude him, if I were you." O'Brien tried to whisper again, but was too late.

"And why would you do that, Doctor?" Quark asked from 15 meters away. "Do you think I'd embarrass you?"

"No, of course not. I just forgot..."

"That my hearing is excellent? That much is obvious. So, my Klingon friend, when will this event be?"

The debate was held in the mess hall, where Quark, bragged about being the only Ferengi ever to head a Klingon House (**) and was most applauded for his conviction that his materialistic ideals were every bit as good as the average Klingon desire to die well, O'Brien's idea of paradise, or Jadzia's speech in favor of life.

"Greed," Quark began, "is the force that has inspired progress in all cultures. The desire to have more, is what inspired your Klingon ancestors to become warriors. That same desire motivated them to create the Bat'leth, to beat their enemies to pulp. Greed is what brought all of you to the stars. Not curiosity, not honor, not bravery... simple greed." After the gathering, the crew is ready and focused for the task ahead.

As they enter Monac, they're cloaked and ready for battle. It's a good thing they were for they were detected almost at once. Three Jem'Hadar fighters try to take them down. "I don't want to fight them," Martok said to the others on the bridge. "Helm, use the gravity of the gas giant to increase our speed. We'll lose them for a few valuable seconds."

"It's working," Worf told them from the Tactical Station, "enemy fighters are heading straight for the shipyard."

"That would be the logical target," says Martok. "Lay in a course for the star. We have to get there before they realize what we plan." Then he punched a control in his armrest and asked. "Chief, are we ready?"

"The modifications are finished," called back the human from Engineering. "Control is given to the Bridge Science Station."

"I have control," Jadzia informed them. "A burst of energy on the frequency of 1.0954 will generate a flare. With any luck, it will be large enough and strong enough to destroy the shipyard and the enemy fighters."

"We're closing position," Valeta yells from the helm, "the enemy ships will be within striking distance in 45 seconds."

"FIRE!" Martok orders.

"The reaction is beginning," Jadzia reported to him. "But the flare won't have the necessary intensity to destroy the shipyard."

"One of the enemy fighters was destroyed," Worf informed them. "The other two are still attempting to intercept."

"Helm, plot an escape course," The Klingon General orders. "As soon as we clear the system, we'll go to warp and try to lose the enemy by cloaking." Then he turned to his first officer and adds, "I'm sorry Worf."

The commander nods, but then said, "Two more Jem'Hadar fighters have entered the system and are cutting our escape route."

"Today," Martok yells at his crew, "is a good day to die!"

"I don't think so," young Rubestel cried. "Valeta, turn back and head right back for the point of the flare. We'll pass right between the two ships behind us, and send another burst thru the deflector. Only this time, it will be on a 1.1007 frequency." When the whole bridge crew kept looking at him, he screamed, "NOW!", Martok nodded to Valeta and said "Do it."

The Helm Officer changed the course, coming about. "Enemy ships opening fire," and Worf said, "shields holding, but they'll collapse after three, maybe four more impacts." Two impacts later, the first officer informs, "shields are at 12%. Another hit will finish them off."

"We're in position," The Helmsman said as another torpedo hit them and several consoles explode. Martok and Rubestel said at the same time "Fire!"

The reaction starts in the core of the star, producing a flare that rises and destroys all four enemy ships. It smashes against the shipyard, turning into it into space dust. When the bridge crew began to get up, Worf went back to his console,one of the few which wasn't destroyed, and reported that the ship has life support, but very little else,

"Medical bay to the bridge," Dr. Bashir reported. "If you're finished rocking the ship, we'll have no fatalities, although I have several hard cases here."

"Engineering to the bridge," O'Brien says. "General, could you please tell your engineer that engines are a priority?"

"General," Lauderan, the Klingon Chief Engineer said at almost the same time, "weapons should be our priority."

"Silence, both of you!" Martok shouts. "The cloaking device first. After you have it running, go for the shields, then weapons and the engines."

"Aye, aye, sir." Comes from the intercom.

Then the general turned to the young man who tried to give orders on his ship Martok told him, "We have to talk, right now, in the private chamber." Then he motions Worf and Jadzia to go with him.

When the door to the bridge closes, Martok sits, with his First Officer sitting to his right, and the Trill to his left. Rubestel stayed standing. "Who in Tartarus do you think you are?" The one-eyed Klingon asks. "The fact that this little scheme worked is completely irrelevant. The chain of command exists for a reason, and by violating it, you have sealed your own destiny."

Then he stood up, crossing his wrists above his chest and turned his back to the young Klingon.(***) Worf immediately did the same, and Jadzia, after a moment, did as well.

While not looking at him, they heard the voice of Rubestel saying: "When I sent the two of you on this mission," All three turned back, and see, instead of the face and form of the pale and skinny Rubestel, the mighty and handsome form of the God of War, speaking in the voice they knew of the young Klingon. "It was because neither of you would accept an easy way out, and you wouldn't accept it if I just kicked you out.

"During this trip, I tried to make you understand that I'm not here to put a yoke on you. On any of you. That I'm not 'the bad guy'. Just a few moment ago, you were about to give your lives, on a mission, for me. Wouldn't it be better to live for me? Don't you think, Jadzia, that these months that you've lived, you've done a lot of things having an impact on those around you?"

The Trill female, in a shocked voice said, "You could have destroyed the shipyard at any time."

"Yes," the GOW nods, "and if I had done that, it wouldn't accomplish anything. Neither you nor your husband would have accepted your release that way."

"Why didn't you let us die then?" Worf asks

"Because you're important." The Olympian answered them. "Don't you get it? You are strong, you are brave, honorable and committed. You complement one another. I couldn't lose you, or the Rotarran, to death, anymore than I could rape anyone. If you still want out, you can remove the lockets, without any shame. This crew was here to help you succeed on this mission.

"However, if you're up to a bigger challenge, you might consider leaving them on. Working. Living. Fighting. For me."

Then Ares turned to Martok, and said "I know Rubestel must die for what he did." With a wave of his hand, a body appears in the deck. He has a knife in his chest, and another in his hand. The GOW states, "Let it be known that this young, houseless Klingon died well, for he died in order to save the crew of this ship."

The General nodded, saying "It will be done, and it is the truth."

Seven days after that, a damaged Rotarran docks into Deep Space Nine. They are surprised to find that the wormhole is open once again, that the Romulan outpost on the moon of Bajor is gone, and that Captain Benjamin Sisko is once again in charge of the station.

Worf and Jadzia go straight for the temple quarters, calling for Ares. When the GOW appeared, Jadzia tells him that "We've thought about what you've said. Together, we decided we were both wrong about you."

"You're not the dishonorable, irresponsible Q-like being that I thought you were." Worf said.

"And you aren't the cruel and bloodthirsty being that I perceived you to be." States Jadzia. "Still," she continued, "we talked long and hard about remaining with you or not." And after this statement, she fell silent. No one speaks for a minute or so.

"You know," Ares said to them, "I've a lot of things to do." And disappeared. Jadzia looks around in disbelief, and Worf laughed, at least he did until his wife punched him in the short ribs.

The Trill female screams "ARES!" The Olympian God appeared again, asking "What do you want? I'm a very busy God. I can't be appearing and disappearing just on a whine of a woman."

Jadzia took a deep breath and asked, "And are you not interested at all in what we, the 'important ones' have decided?"

"Yes I am," Ares answers. "But I don't have all day for you to tell me woman."

The wife growls and the husband chuckles, then Worf said, "We've decided to keep it."

Ares can just nod, he knew it was going to happen.

* The shipyard was mentioned and destroyed in the ST:DS9 Episode 'Shadows and Symbols' ** Quark was head of his own Klingon house in the ST:DS9 Episode 'The House of Quark' *** That process of condemning a man a cowand and traitor was done to Worf in the ST:TNG episode 'Sins of the father.'

Chapter XVII Voices from the distant past

Part I
Stranger in the Temple

A week after the destruction of the enemy shipyard, an over stressed Ares was blowing off steam with his second favorite way, beating Jem'Hadar faces to pulp.

"Take this, you motherless spawn!" He yelled, after decapitating a particularly skillful, porcupine-faced enemy, when he felt something he hadn't felt since he'd emerged in this century.

'What the fuck!' he thought to himself. 'Someone is actually desecrating one of my temples! It's not that it's being destroyed because of an enemy attack. This is a systematic and gradual smashing of things inside one of my houses! Whoever is doing this, he, she, it or they, are going to regret it for the rest of their lives, short as it may be.'

As he finished with the last enemy soldier, Ares transported himself to his temple on Kalon, known to the Federation as Antri-4. When he popped in there, he saw that the destruction was halfway over. But, it's weird. There aren't any phaser marks or evidence of disrupters. All of it seemed to have been done by hand.

'This is very strange. Where are my priests? They should have stopped this.' His question was answered when he saw one of his robed acolytes flying to impact on a column, falling unconscious. 'Whoever sent him flying must be awfully strong. He must weight over 90 kilos of pure muscle.' Ares thought while looking at the fainted priest.

Then, the he saw 'something' come around the corner. The 'something' description was very adequate, because it was apparently one man with three priests on his back. Another priest was trying to hold him by the waist. Even with all four of Ares' servants onto him, they can't seem to take him down.

'Strong, as I thought.'

Then, the stranger screamed, pushed his arms out, and was able to dislodge two of the three guys over him. Next, he grabbed the one still on his back and sent him sprawling. This 'destroyer' appeared to be humanoid, Ares noticed. He's wearing dark blue pants and a white shirt. From all appearances, he's a tall, muscled bastard.

With a twirl and a growl, the man dislodged the last priest holding him. This left him face to face with the GOW, who's surprised into immobility by sight of this guy. He hasn't changed but a little since they last saw each other. Other than the fact that his hair is shorter and his skin a little darker, he's still the same. He's still "Hercules!" screamed the Olympian.

Part II
My brother, still the same

The demigod wasn't frozen, and he advanced toward his brother, with thunder in his face. Ares, because of his surprise, seemed to miss it. When they're close enough, the GOW extended his hand, saying, "Little brother? Hi!". He received a punch in the jaw as an answer. The impact sent him flying for 15 meters, and after the fall, he slid for another 15.

After the GOW got up, he turned to his brother and said, "OK, that was your calling card. I know you're who it looks like you are, so there's no need for..." unfortunately for him, Hercules got close enough to kick him in the chest, sending the leather clad God straight into a wall. Only this time, Ares was prepared and wasn't disoriented by the hit. He straightened himself and walked right toward his brother.

Hercules threw a punch with his right hand again, but Ares caught his wrist with his own hand. The demigod tried to backhand him with his left arm, but the full God trapped it as well. Then the GOW levitated a few centimeters, until they were looking at each other eye to eye. He begun to increase his weight exponentially, without altering his appearance. In 4 seconds, he weighed as much as a young mountain, and in ten, as much as a regular sized moon. Having studied physics since he'd emerged in this century, he managed to avoid having a gravity. Leaving Hercules effectively immobilized.

When the demigod finished struggling in vain, Ares asked him, "What the fuck do you think you're doing little brother? Why didn't you come forward months ago? And why are you destroying this temple?"

Hercules looked at his brother for a few seconds, before he hung his head down. He began to cry, "You son-of-a-bitch, you son-of-a-bitch, you son-of-a-bitch!" Over and over again.

When his voice finally left him, Ares demanded to know, "What do you mean by that?"

Herc raised his tear strained face and said, "As if you didn't know, you bastard!"

"I DON'T!" The GOW yelled. "I've no idea what's the matter with you."

"Oh, you're good," the Demigod sarcastically responded. "That innocent attitude might fool others, but I know you too well. I know you're behind this fucking war. You couldn't let humans live in peace. You had to manipulate them into this senseless conflict to recover your power, you butcher!"

"Is that what you think?" Ares asked with a shocked face. "Do you really think I staged this war with Starfleet?"

"No, of course not!" Hercules answered. "You staged this behind both the Federation and the Dominion! Even with all the deaths, even with a lot of decent humans and other sentient beings turned to your worship, I chose to let you alone. But not anymore." "Let?" asked again the Olympian, not giving credit to his ears.

But Herc, it seemed, didn't hear him, for he continued. "Not after YOU, once again, killed my entire family. And you can take the shocked expression, and shove it up your ass. It doesn't fool me! You killed my wife, killed my children and my grandchildren. All of them, in a shower of fireballs. Like mother like son."

"OK, you lost me." Ares commented as he tried to speak slowly to calm the demigod down. "I can understand how you would, wrongly, assume that I'm behind this war, but I completely missed your train of thought when you began talking about your wife, children and grandchildren."

"So, you insist on pretending," Hercules growled. "You need me to spell it, do you? Very well. As you fucking know, I've been living the last 55 years on the colony of Samantha. You probably were watching me the whole time. I became a farmer, I married, I had children. I watched them grow and see them get married and had children. For the first time in over a thousand years, I made a home for myself, and even if it wasn't a perfect life, I was happy.

"That is, until this bloody war with the Dominion began. Taxes were raised to support the 'war effort', things began to become scarce, but still, it was all right. A week ago, while I was working in the fields, there was an attack, supposedly by the Dominion, on Samantha. It made no sense for them to attack. The colonial world is without any tactical or strategical value. It's not a rich world and building a military base there would be impractical. The only reason for that attack, was your desire to torture me."

"And why are you so sure it was me?" The GOW inquired. "I'm not who I was. I'm an Admiral of Starfleet, and I have many other titles. I've changed."

"You still pretend?!" Hercules exclaimed. "I know it was you! When an explosion knocked me unconscious, I was still outside the compound. When I came to, I ran straight to my house and found it very lightly burned, but inside it, I was welcomed by the sight of my wife, Ghani, crushed when a part of the ceiling had collapsed, and nothing else! The rest of my family, all of them GONE! No bodies, no fucking traces, except for the smell. That smell that I haven't sniffed for thousands of years. The smell of a God transporting himself! YOU were there, and left only the body of Ghani as a signature."

"I was there, yes," Ares said, eliminating his extra weight, and landing them on the floor. "I might try to explain, or I might just blow your ass to the other side of Tartarus. But, I won't do either. Instead of telling you how wrong you are, I'll show you." Then they blinked out.

Part III
This is where I show you, you are wrong.

Still holding his brother, Ares transported them both. They appear in an office where time is apparently stopped. He let Hercules go and said, "Please, little brother. At least try to control yourself. You're over two thousand years old. Try to avoid acting like a child for a few minutes." Time flowed again and someone screamed. Ares looked straight at Mother Veronica and caught the PADD she sent to hit him.

"Why do you keep appearing like that?" the nun asked, hyperventilating, "You'll give me a heart attack." "It's just kind of flattering that you think I can stop your heart."

Veronica looked at him, shocked for a second, before starting to laugh.

With a serious face, the Olympian asked her, "And are you ready to give up the bulky habit and embrace the loving grip of my faith?"

This stopped the nun's mirth. "Of course I am," she teasingly responded. "Just as you're ready to lose your delusions of grandeur and be baptized in the one true church."

They look at each other for a few seconds, serious expressions on their faces, before they both crack up laughing and embrace.

"It is always good to see you, Ares. What brings you here?"

"Always business. OK," The Olympian began, "The big, bulky, and blond gentleman with me, is from Samantha, and he can't find his family. I thought maybe you could help him?"

"Oh that! All the refugees from Samantha are either on Cassiel or on Zadkiel. I was just receiving the data. Hand me the PADD I just threw you..." When the GOW complied, Mother Veronica looked at it and continued, "With a little luck, his family might already be registered. What's the name they might be registered under?"

"The Paz family," Hercules told her, bewildered, "I'm Hector Paz." He then shook his head and turned to his brother, asking, "Did you evacuate my family from the Colony?"

"Not only your family, Mr. Paz." The nun answered. "The Admiral spirited away everyone that was alive in Samantha, after he broke off the attack. Found them; Paz family, all accounted for, except for Hector and Ghanima." Then she looked straight at Hercules, adding, "According to these records, Hector Paz is 81 years old. All the children, Bruce, Diana, Arthur and John are all over 40, too old to be fathered by this gentleman. Admiral, I think you've been had."

"No, I've not," Ares said with a smile. "'Hector Paz is really my brother Hercules. He's a goody-two-shoes who couldn't lie to save his life."

Mother Veronica shook her head, saying "Strange, the more powerful you become, the bigger your family."

"Yes, Isn't it great?" The GOW exclaimed without being offended. "Now, where are my brother's kids?"

"John's wife, Martha, and the two kids of Bruce, Richard and Timothy were hurt. They're currently on Zadkiel, getting medical attention," the nun answered. "Everyone else is on Cassiel."

"Who do you want to see first, Hercules?" The Olympian God asked while turning to his brother.

"I think I need to talk with you, in private, first." The demigod replied.

"OK, as you wish." The GOW snapped his fingers. They both blinked out.

Part IV
A long overdue talk

Ares and Hercules pop in at the border between a forest and a valley where the GOW sat down and told Hercules, "We're still in Metatron, in case you're wondering. This place reminds me of my sacred forest back in Greece."

"What are you playing at?" Herc asked. "I know you. You're not fooling me."

"I'm not playing at anything," The Olympian answered his brother's question. "I'm exactly who I seem to be."

"I can't believe it!" commented the demigod. "It would be impossible to be the God of War, and worry about the victims of a war."

"You never understood me, little brother. You never wanted to understand." Ares stood up and continued, "Back in Greece, War served as a method of advancement and population controller. Without it, humankind would be ruled either by laziness in times of abundance, or by famine at every other time."

"I've heard this argument before," Herc said. "I didn't believe it then, and I don't believe it now. You were cruel, you were petty, you..."

"I DON'T CARE IF YOU BELIEVE IT OR NOT!" Ares shouted. He then took a deep breath. "Anyway, that was over two millennia in the past. The conflict in the here and now is a complete different matter. The Founders think themselves as gods, in case you haven't noticed! They even created their very own Proxidecae, the Jem'Hadar. They have in their liquid minds that it's their right to rule the entire universe, to bring order to everyone."

"Oh, that sounds familiar," Hercules spoke with a voice full of sarcasm. "Where have I heard that before? Oh yes, it's very much like the ideal world that the God of War wanted."

Ares, rubbing his face, sighed and said, "That was a fucking, long time ago. With all the lifetimes you've lived, you should have learned tolerance. I wasn't ever the evil being that you hated. Right now, I'm fighting to protect the free will of every single mortal in the Alpha quadrant. And another thing, I've always cared about the victims of a war. Rapists and murderers were always hunted down in my armies. Now that I have a chance to pull all the innocents to safety, I'm taking that possibility for all I'm worth. You should be grateful that I pulled your family out from certain death, because of that change."

Hercules looked at his brother for many long seconds. He then asked, "Do you really think a plan to get me into your debt would work? I won't do anything you want!"

"This is pointless!" Ares commented as he stood up. "If the Mighty Hercules wants to think the worst of me, that's his problem. Now, I'll take us to meet your family. After that, if we never see each other again, it will be fine by me."

"I can find them on my own, thank you." The Demigod retorted, standing up as well. "I don't need you help. I don't want your help. You can't transport me anywhere if I don't want to go."

"That's true, I can't." The GOW chuckled. "The Olympian blood running through your veins was enough to stop me from teleporting you anywhere two millennia ago. On the other hand, now..." Ares finished that with a snap of his fingers.

A second later, they appear outside a small city. When they've rematerialized, Hercules threw a punch at his brother. However, when he connected his fist to Ares' jaw, it was like hitting a column of tritanium alloy. Although Ares doesn't blink, Hercules rubbed the hand he'd hurt.

"Many things have changed since I got out of my prison," Ares told his brother. "For one, I'm a lot stronger. I'm also invulnerable as well, when I'm not surprised, that is." After beginning to walk to the city, he stopped and looked back, "You're coming with me. Either you walk or you can be dragged, but you WILL come." When the blond demigod doesn't move, he added. "Personally, I'd much rather walk like a civilized person, but it's your choice."

Hercules growled. When he walked past his brother, he completely ignored Ares. The GOW laughed, catching up with the demigod. When he reached Hercules, the demigod asked him, "Am I entertaining enough?"

"Oh, Yes!" Ares laughed again. "You're more than just funny. You're hysterical! A man your age still behaving as a child. Just like you did over 2300 years ago."

Hercules stopped suddenly. Ares did the same. They looked at each other for a couple of minutes before the youngest son of Zeus began to laugh. The GOW, not able to help himself, joined in. Soon, they're doubled over with laughter.

"OK, I was being childish," Hercules said when he was able to control himself.

Ares nodded in agreement, offering Herc his right hand. When his brother clasped it in his own, the Olympian God punched him in the jaw with his left hand and kicked him in the side.

"NOW, we're even."

"Ouch," Hercules exclaimed, picking himself off the floor. "Now we're both being childish."

As they enter the city, most of the people who saw Ares, recognized him and bowed respectfully. After they'd entered the administrative building, the GOW made his query about the Paz family. Naturally, the entire staff stopped what they were doing to comply with Ares' request. The Head Manager came after a few minutes, telling them that John Paz had left for Zadkiel two days ago. The rest of the Paz family are living at the complex, Metroplex Apartments, S07 to S10. He then told the GOW that if he wanted it, he'd escort them to the building. When Ares turned to look at his brother, Hercules shook his head no. The Olympian declined the offer and they walked out.

"Do you want to go in alone?" Ares asked Hercules when they'd arrived at the Metroplex building.

Hercules thought about it for a few seconds before saying, "No. I'd really like to enter accompanied."

After Ares nodded, they went in to look for Apartment S07. Herc was about to knock, when Ares told him, "There's nobody there. They must all be at S09."

When they'd reached the apartment, the blond brother knocked at the door. A young woman answered. A few seconds of shocked silence passed before she cried, "Uncle Hank?" Then, she hugged him, screaming "Uncle Hank, you're alive!"

This scream makes a mob of children and teenagers come running out the door. They all throw themselves at the demigod's arms. The only exceptions were one couple and two other females, who remained inside the apartment, big smiles on their faces. 'Uncle Hank' grunted and heaved, lifting everyone that is hugging him. He then entered the front room, with his brother right behind him.

As soon as Hercules had dumped everyone, one of the kids noticed the GOW. He cried out, "I know him! He's the man that beamed inside the house, put out the fire and beamed everyone to a clearing outside this colony. Well, everyone except Grandmother Ghani." He finished lowering his eyes.

"Kids, go outside. We adults need to talk alone." After the eldest looking man said that, everyone, except the four people who hadn't thrown themselves at Hercules, leave. The kids especially had sullen faces from being forced to leave.

When the door closed, the man hugged the demigod. He then said, "Dad! I thought you were dead."

"I thought you were," Hercules muttered, returning the hug. "Is everyone all right?"

"Martha's in grave condition," he answered his father's question. "She was badly burned. My son, Richard, wasn't too badly hurt, but the doctors decided that Zadkiel was the best place for him."

"What about Tim?"

"He has a bad concussion," One of the women answered instead. "Physically, he's OK, but he's in a deep coma." She turned to the dark stranger in their apartment and found the courage to ask, "Dad, who's he?"

"How much do they know about you? About your past, that is." Ares asked Hercules before answering, wanting to know what Hercules had revealed.

"They know everything. They're my family. We've no secrets from each other.

"OK, then," shrugging his shoulders, the GOW told them. "I'm Ares, God of War. I have many other titles but it seems now, I have to add another one. Your Uncle."

"Dad, is he on the level?" the man hugging Hercules asked.
"Yes, but don't worry. My brother isn't the same monster he was a long time ago."

Dryly, the GOW droled out, "Thank's, Brother!"

Hercules, son of Zeus, blushed. After clearing his throat, he tried to ignore that he'd had his foot in his mouth, adding, "Here, let me introduce you to my family. Bruce is the one who hugged me, and this is his wife, Vicky. This is my daughter Diana, whose husband Stephen isn't here. And finally, this is my daughter-in-law, Ariel, who's married to my son, Arthur."

When everyone had replied 'Pleased to meet you,' Hercules asked, "Where are Arthur and Steve?"

"They've gone to gather our weekly supplies," Bruce answered. "but they'll have to stand in life for a few hours yet."

"I didn't think that was a problem," Ares muttered.

Bruce laughed sadly, commenting wryly, "It was supposed to be that way, but there've been distribution problems since before we arrived. The personnel is insufficient for all the assigned tasks."

"What are the refugees doing with their time?" The Olympian demanded.

"Most of us are farmers. Our doctors and our engineers were put to work just as soon as we arrived. But that still left 90% of the population just hanging around, doing nothing."

Ares growled, "It wasn't supposed to be like this. This planet, and the others in this three systems were meant for resettling communities, not just a place for refugees." Turning to his brother, he stated, "The people here need a leader to put them on the right path. Could you be such a leader?"

"I'm a farmer, Brother. I've been one for the past 50 years. I'm not a leader."

Laughing, the GOW exclaimed, "You've always done what was needed in the past. I don't see any reason for you not doing it today." Waving a hand, a map appeared on the wall. Pointing north of the settlement, he continued to say, "This grassland beside this river is ideal for a farm. Instead of just waiting around, you can start rebuilding, instead of just waiting for food to be delivered, you can grow it. If you were to build a house, it just might inspire others to do the same."

"We should do it, Dad." Bruce exclaimed excitedly. "Working on a new house sure beats sitting around doing nothing."

A minute later, his wife added her own voice in agreement followed quickly by the other females. It was obvious they'd had enough of doing nothing. Hercules raised his hand and everyone fell silent except for Ares He couldn't help but bark a laugh at how his brother controlled his family.

Hercules laughed himself, stating, "We'll do it, but there're several things we'll need to do first. Bruce and I will go to check the terrain. Diana knows well the necessary items needed to build and run a farm, so she'll make the list."

"Your kids can do what's needed," Ares interrupted his brother, "You should go to Zadkiel and see your other son."

"We're not kids!" Bruce blurts.

"Compared to me, everyone else here, including my baby brother, is a kid." Ares retorted, adding, "Are you ready to go?"

"Bruce, look into the terrain. Diana, you know what to do. Ares, let's go."

Part V
Meeting the rest of the family

They appear outside the huge hospital complex. As they went in and asked for directions, it took them only a few minutes to arrive at the concerned side of Hercules' son, John. Unlike the dark haired Bruce, John has his head shaved and is even taller than Hercules.

After the normal 'I thought you were dead!', they turned to Martha, who's unconscious.

John whispered, "She's only sleeping. Even with the dermal regenerators, she doesn't have enough energy to stay awake. The doctor told me she'll be in the bio bed for at least another month. After that, its then two more months of therapy exercise."

"I'm not so sure about that," Ares said with a smirk. "After all, having a few friends in high places can do a lot of good."

"Who's this stranger, Dad?" John asked. "John, say Hi to your Uncle Ares." After Hercules answered his son, John had the same reaction as his brother Bruce. First, it was disbelief and fear, but after his father had calmed him down some, there was acceptance. Hercules then turned to the GOW and asked, "Can you heal Martha?"

"No." Ares shook his head. "Healing isn't my specialty, but..." then, with his smirk getting bigger, he raised his voice and screamed "Polly!"

A second later, a slim blond girl appeared in a flash. She threw herself at the GOW and hugged him. When they'd separated, Ares began introductions. "I'd like you to meet this blonde gentleman. He's..."

"Different," Polly interrupted him, "He's different, not mortal, but not a deity either." She then gasped and grabbed Ares' forearm, and cried excitedly, "He's a demigod, too!"

"As I was saying," The Olympian God chuckled, "He's your Uncle Hercules."

Polly, perplexed, hugged her prodigal uncle.

"Dear Brother, this is Apolonia, daughter of our brother, Apollo, the God of the Sun. Polly's the new Goddess of Healing."

After the hug had ended, Herc cleared his throat before speaking, "Apolonia, this is your cousin, my son."

"I... I..." John was very much tongue tied, "I...I've heard about the Healing Goddess, but I never expected to meet her."

"Polly," The GOW called for the attention of his niece, "on the bed is John's wife. Her life isn't in danger, but she's in a lot of pain."

Polly moved next to the bio-bed immediately to do her job. After passing her hands over and through the body, she stopped on Martha's belly and said, "She has a problem with her uterus."

"Yeh, she does," John nodded. "She... WE had two miscarriages before having our daughter Gloria. After her birth, the doctors told us she wouldn't be able to ever have anymore children."

Hercules put his hand on his tall son's shoulder, offering comfort. Ares noticed it, calmly asking, "How did Gloria die?"

Herc sent a killer look at his brother, but John answered, "She was playing with her friends, Sergei and Maria. The three of them fell in a chasm, and there was no way to get them out in time."

"You'll now have a chance to have more children," Apolonia whispered, crossing her hands over the hurt woman's tummy. "I've repaired the damage and Martha is as healthy as any normal woman her age. As for the burning, it's dangerous to heal her all at once. The system's shock might be too much. But, I've taken away much of the pain and healed the most serious damage. Martha will need no rehab, only rest, plenty of food and plenty of love." She finished with a smile.

Martha's eyes fluttered open. "There's no pain, John." She said in a wondering voice. "There's no more pain."

"Everything will be all right, Dear," John hugged her. "You'll be back on your feet in no time. But, there's something else you must know."

Both gods and the demigod left the room to give the couple a little privacy. They head for the room where Bruce's sons are. They find Richard, with his binded arm beside the bed of his unconscious little brother.

Richard looked up and just like all the others, yelled and hugged his grandfather. Moments later, Hercules introduces his relatives. A few second's later, Polly gets to work on Timothy.

"This boy is physically healthy as a bull," she said. "But, some of the synaptic paths of his brain have been blocked."

"Yes," Richard morosely said, looking at the floor. "That's what the doctors told me. But surely the Goddess of Healing knows how to make everything right?"

Polly smiled at her young nephew, "I'll do what I can. But you should know, mending neural synapses is very dangerous. The boy's mind might already be gone because of the silence."

She then began to glow. Energy visibly flowed from her to the head of Tim. Hercules put his arm around Richard's to comfort him and Ares motioned that they should wait outside.

After exiting, Richard asked his grandfather, "Wasn't your brother, the God of War supposed to be a backstabbing coward, who shouldn't be trusted?"

The demigod turned red with embarrassment again. Ares just laughed. "Oh, we used to argue a lot a long time ago. Fortunately though, now we've come to an understanding."

Hercules then cleared his throat and lightly reprimanded, "You know, Dick, it's not polite to call names on a person. Especially when he's present."

"And it isn't healthy to call names to the God of War." Ares added with a serious face. "For I always listen."

The silence begins to stretch, and they continued to wait in silence for an eternity or two, until Polly came out, a sad look on her face. Richard and Hercules both ask at the same time, "What's happened?"

Apolonia suddenly grinned and pulled out the kid hiding behind her. The kid smiled a shit eating grin and cried, "Fool you!"

Richard, enraged, yelled, "I'm going to kill you, you little runt!", while Hercules and Ares laugh at their antics.

Part VI
What have I done

A few days after Timothy and Martha were healed, Ares invited his brother to visit the Mausoleum at Olympia. To say that Herc was dumbfounded was an understatement. "I...I...I never thought you were capable of creating beauty." When he realized what he'd said, he backtracked and tried to amend it.

"It's OK, Little Brother. Don't worry! You're not going to be able to overcome all your prejudices in a just a few days. But, hopefully, we CAN talk over dinner."

The food was magnificent. The lamb and venison were seasoned with garlic and onions, and there was an excellent wine for drinking. Ares did most of the talking during the main course, telling Hercules about the war, how Betazed was liberated, the problems he'd had reconciling his titles.

"It's not easy being a God, an Admiral of the Federation, a General of the Klingon Empire, and a Commodore of the Romulan Praetor. I've had to juggle everything just to achieve my one goal, victory over the Dominion."

Ares wisely left out his visit to the mirror universe. He didn't think Hercules could take it well or even understand that his exchange of blows with the Sovereign had caused the death of his evil twin family.

Clearing out the food, the Olympian God decided to ask the one question that had been on his mind ever since he'd encountered his brother. "So, what has the Great Hercules been doing for the past 2500 years?"

The demigod shrugged, answering blandly, "Oh, nothing much."

"Oh, come on!" Ares exclaimed, "Surely, you've had to have done something. You do have the 'hero complex,' after all."

"I didn't have a hero complex," Hercules quickly denied, "I abandoned the hero business, for it brought too much suffering in my life. As soon as the legend outgrew me, it was time for me to retire."

The GOW scratching his head, commented, "I never thought you would. But, I guess it kinda makes sense. At least without the hero job, you could concentrate on being happy. I bet you've gotten married hundreds of times, and had enough children to populate a planet."

"No, on both counts," Hercules shook his head. "I've only gotten married once before this time. It was over 1200 years ago and I only had one son. That son died without having any offspring."

"Do you want to talk about it?" The GOW asked, taking a line from Lwaxana's daughter.

"NO!" Hercules says firmly.

"Come on, Baby Brother," Ares pushed him verbally, "You know my past. We used to fight because you didn't like what I did. Whatever you've done, it can't be that bad."

Sighing, Hercules let his mind wonder, letting his mouth speak of that time, long ago, back on earth.

"I was no longer a hero, as I told you. I didn't even claim my original name. Instead, I was a protector of several villages. Because of the time period, I wore armor, a helmet with visor, a sword and a lance. In order to better protect those under my dominion, I built a castle on a hill, close to a lake. Once that was done, my fame began to spread. It was then that I met a woman. She was beautiful and had an aura of goodness around her, something very rare and precious.

"To make a long story short, I married her and she gave me a son. The boy was my pride and joy. I know every father likes to say this, but he was perfect. However, after a few short years, something began to gnaw inside me. With my wife's permission, I left on a quest, looking for something that I couldn't see.

"One fine day, I met an army who wanted to cross a bridge I was holding. Being foolish, I challenged each and every knight in that gathering to a Joust. And, not surprisingly! I beat them all. At last, the leader of that army accepted the challenge and we faced each other in combat with a lance and a sword. It was that great knight who finally defeated me.

"That was the greatest day, for my quest was over. I'd found what I'd sought for, a lord to serve. I pledged myself to that lord with all I had, muscles, bones, blood, and the heart that pumps it. The lord accepted me, naming me his champion. As such, I helped fight to unify the land. I always won, and I showed mercy whenever I could.

"When the wars were over, the lord became king. Under his rule, the country grew peaceful and prosperous. I brought my wife and son to me for a great occasion: the King was getting married. But disaster struck then. I, the great champion, the undefeatable and unbreakable, fell in love."

After a long silence, Hercules continued, "I fell in love with the bride of my lord and king."

"This story sounds awfully familiar," Ares commented, interrupting his brother's recollection.

" "It should be! It became a legend every bit as big as the one of the Greek Gods."

"Lancelot?" Ares whispered.

"Lancelot DuLac, at your service." Hercules answered wryly, standing up and making a small bow. He sat down again after that.

The GOW was stunned, but was able to ask, "Your wife?"

"When Elaine found out that her husband was with another woman, she died of sadness. When Arthur Pendragon found out, his soul emptied. It left him vulnerable to his half-sister Morgana de Cornwall's manipulations. There was a diabolical woman! She created war where there was peace, brought famine and pestilence where there was prosperity. And as the icing of the cake, she gave birth to a monster. One every bit as evil as Dahak's daughter Hope.

"Mordred was his name, and like the demons before him, he corrupted many good people. Many were good knights, friends that I abandoned."

"How...?" Ares began but Hercules interrupted him before he could continue.

"How did it end? It wasn't until my son, Galahad and my...squire, apprentice, disciple, whatever you call it...Percival, found the Holy Grail. That relic restored the king, and the land with him. Arthur led the knighthood in a desperate battle against a foe who outnumbered them. Thanks to Merlin, there was a fog and they were able to break through the first rank of enemies. Unfortunately for them, there were still too many and Arthur found himself surrounded. That's when I, Lancelot, came back, using all my strength of a demigod. I was able to turn the tide of the battle. Later, on the battlefield, I found my lord and king. I asked him for his forgiveness. He granted it, for he had a heart as big as Iolaus.

"Before I blacked out, I managed to see the king slay Mordred and be mortally wounded in return. I saw Sir Percival ride off to give the Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake. I saw The Fates coming to gather the body of the greatest of kings, the greatest of friends."

Ares granted his brother a few minutes of silence to compose himself, before asking for more. "Did the memory of Camelot keep you from marrying again?"

"Yes," Herc nodded. "My time as Lancelot was a mix of good and bad times. But the bitterness of my betrayal had stayed with me for over 500 years. It wasn't until I found Merlin again, in Italy in 1498, that my soul began to heal."

"Legend said that Merlin the Magician died in that battle against Mordred," Ares comments.

"I thought that too, but when we met again, he was calling himself 'Leonard DaVinci'(*)."

"And is he still alive?"

"No. Merlin, whatever his real name was, was most likely a son of Gaia, for he lost his immortality when he was away from Earth too long. Last time I saw him, it was at my wedding 55 years ago, and he was truly ancient then."

Seeing his opportunity, now that his brother opened the door, Ares asked, "How did you meet your wife, Ghanima?"

"How else? In a Herculean fashion. I rescued her from a band of pirates."

"Pirates?"

"Orion pirates are now a very uncommon phenomenon. They've become Union bosses. But 50 years ago, they had small, quick ships, and hunted transports for cargo, valuables, and slaves. They made a mistake, however. They bit off more than they could chew, so to speak. They took a cargo vessel, then a transport and finally, a one man shuttle. This last one, was mine. The rest, as Hamlet said, is silence. The pirates were apprehended, the cargo returned, and the slaves freed. Among the slaves was Ghani. When we saw each other, it was...it was like when I met Deianeira."

"When did you tell her? When did you tell her about your immortality?"

Herc chuckled, remembering, "It was when we went back to earth to meet her parents. After I met them and they told me they liked me, I...just blurted it out. I didn't want to keep secrets from them."

"Since you didn't wake up in a nut house, I assume you proved what you said." Ares chuckled.

"Of course. They seemed to understand, but were reluctant to have a demigod for a son-in-law. That is, until Ghani made clear that she was getting married, with her parents approval or without it. That very night, my fate was sealed, for she'd laid claim on me, and wasn't going to let me go."

The GOW quickly laughed. A few moments later, he took a deep breath and apologized for the outburst on such a serious matter.

Hercules looks at him incredulously, exclaiming, "Excuse me, did you just apologize?" Ares nodded and Hercules continued to cry, "You never apologize! Who are you? What did you do with my brother?"

"I'm not as insecure anymore, Little Brother." The Olympian Admiral admitted. "Saying 'I'm sorry' is not a weakness."

Herc shook his head, making way for this new conception of his brother. Then he asked why he laughed.

"It was just, funny." Ares teasingly responded, "The invincible Hercules, finally run down, trapped and collared by a woman."

"Ghani was special, I can tell you that. She was with me in good times and in bad times, through joy and strife. Always together."

They shared a silent moment, Hercules remembering and Ares thinking about the pain coursing his little brother's heart.

Finally, Herc comes to himself, and said, "Well, Big Brother, tomorrow will be full for me. I should go back to my family. Some of us have an honest job to do." But he stopped when Ares puts a hand on his shoulder. Black eyes meet blue ones. They shared a moment of understanding that had never occurred during their long lives.

"Anything you need, Little Brother! Anything at all!" Ares quietly stated.

"I know, Ares." They embrace as brothers for the first time, supporting one another. "I'm sorry, for everything."

"It's OK! I'm sorry too. But we'll leave the past behind. We'll share our lives from now on. As we should. As brothers."

"The Sons of Zeus Are Here!" Ares cried for everyone to hear. "Let The Universe Beware!"

--
* Mr. Flint claimed to be several personalities, among them, Merlin, Brahms, and Leonardo, during the Star Trek episode 'Requiem for Methuselah' ** I know I'm completely ignoring the H:TLJ 100th Episode "A Greek Hero In King Arthur's Court" but that one clearly destroys the Arthurian legend, so I based most of this on the movie 'Excalibur'

Part VII
The Leader

A week after the conversation of the brothers in Olympia, Hercules' family was finishing their settlement; "This won't be a tech marvel," the demigod told his family. "This will be an old fashioned farm."

"But, Dad," Bruce tried to dissuade him. "People are laughing their asses off just by seeing livestock. Cows, sheeps and goats, ducks, chickens..."

"All of it is to provide us a fresh start." His father replied. "You'll see, son. What we all need now is something to do with our hands. Something other than pushing buttons, that is."

Unfortunately, it seemed as if no one else thought of it as a good idea. The entire 12 millions of survivors/refugees were staying comfortably in their apartment complexes. They were filled not only with depression and boredom, but also without the desire to go out and remake their lives. No matter how much the administrators wanted to get the survivors out of their hands, there didn't seem to be any way to get them to leave behind the apathy of their ways.

"I don't want to say this," John said quietly, so that only Hercules could hear him two weeks later. "But Bruce was right. We should've gotten more modern equipment."

"DAMN!" exclaimed Hercules. "I didn't want to do this. ARES!"

"Yes, Brother?" said the dark god that appeared in a flash of light. "What can I do for you?"

"You don't know how much I hate to say these words, but I need your help." Herc shot back to his brother. He explained to Ares the problem and finished with, "I just hope you've a better strategy."

"I expected so much more out of these mortals," The GOW sighed. "I thought they'd be grateful for being alive, that they'd keep working to earn new things. Ok, maybe that was too much to ask for, but there is an old saying brother. A funny old saying: 'The Lord hath giveth, the Lord hath taken away.' If I have to herd them into the right direction, by all that's Holy, I'll do it."

"What do you mean by that?" the blond son of Zeus asked, a little fearfully.

"You'll see, or better yet, you'll hear." The Olympian stated before closing his eyes. "Hello, People," he began, and Herc listened to his grandchildren yelling that their granduncle was on the Tri-V. "I am Ares, the one who made it possible for you to be sitting down, doing nothing, turning into vegetables. However, it never was my intention for you to live out of government welfare, or in other words, out of my tits, especially because I don't have any.

"As you probably know, all of these planets aren't ecologically balanced. There isn't any animal life except for yourselves, and you have turned into plants while I wasn't looking. Weather you realize it or not, I have been keeping these worlds from collapsing.

"Well, no more! As of today, these worlds will begin dying and you will die with them. I won't feel any regret, for you are acting as if already dead. For those of you who want to survive, you have to resurrect, leave behind the sloth of your ways and move your ASSES back to work.

"You'd better not expect any help or relief from the Federation, either. I am an admiral of Starfleet and can guarantee there aren't resources available for people like you. The only person who can help you now is yourself."

"ARE YOU INSANE?" Hercules demanded, grabbing his brother by the shoulders. "This message won't make the people to get back to work. It'll create mass hysteria, riots, and who knows how many deaths."

"Indeed," The GOW smiled. "That would be the case in a normal situation. But, you're forgetting who you're talking with, Little Brother. I'm the God of War, and that should tell you two things: One, I always have a plan. Two, I can take the anger from the people, the despair and the fear, leaving only the desire to survive. All they need now, is a leader."

"You planned this?" The demigod asked backing away.

"This wasn't premeditated, if that's what you're asking," Ares answered. "But having a back up plan is something I've integrated in me. That's why I'm the smart brother." He added with a smile. "Now, Out, Out! You have work to do. You need to lead these people by word and by example. Now would be a good time to start screaming to the four winds your plan, to have them working in specialized farms to create enough CO2."

"There's no way in Tartarus I'll do this," Hercules almost screamed with frustration. "You've just promised no more help, meaning no more livestock. How can I say there's a way out, when all resources have been blocked."

"You have two great resources, little brother." The Olympian Admiral spoke in a deep voice. "Three even. The first one is your great charisma, the second is your high reputation, and the third and most important, our gentle niece. In case your brain hasn't caught up yet, Apolonia isn't outside help. As Goddess of Healing, she has many talents. One of those is that she can increase the fertility rate and accelerate the gestation period of everything. There's only one problem. You and everyone else, will have to ask her help."

"You really are a slime ball, you know that?" The blond son of Zeus said while sighing.

"Anything that works, My Brother," Ares shrugged his shoulders. "Anything that works."

Part I
Admiral Khiel

Since the people on the angelic planets were put to work, the GOW spent a lot of time sorting prayers, carefully answering to the best of his ability. 'I'm definitely not granting wishes or whims,' he thought to himself, 'Not when I have so much to do, pulling defenseless people to safety and launching counterstrikes when there aren't any forces present to meet the enemy.'

There had been a problem the day before, one that he'd managed rather badly and the fact that he was upset was no excuse. When he'd found out that several members of his priesthood were embezzling, his wrath was beyond bounds. Oh, he didn't kill them. In fact, he didn't do anything to them as far as can be proven. Anyone who read about it would only learn that four priests just snapped, screaming at nothing, yelling that they saw demons coming to claim their souls.

The congregation and the general public knew nothing. But, the hierarchy, they knew. Oh yes, they knew.

As he was sorting all the prayers he was receiving, he heard one from a familiar person. Captain Andoni was screaming at the top of his mental voice, "Ares! If you can hear this, please help! We're getting cut to pieces." The GOW, always conscious that his namesake ship was a reflection of himself, decided to go and find out what was happening.

What he found on the bridge of the USS Ares was a scene out of a nightmare. Some of the bridge crew were dead, and many others incapacitated.

Commander Trevi was at the helm, calling out, "Impulse engines are off line sir, and maneuvering thrusters won't keep us moving very long!"

"Come on, my beauty," Simon said to the firing control, with an obviously broken leg, "keep shooting, we're not done yet."

Ares concentrated and 'saw' outside. What he detected wasn't encouraging. Many of the 12th fleet ships, which the USS Ares belonged to, were either destroyed or incapacitated. The USS Union, the command ship of this fleet, was badly damaged and enemy fighters clearly outnumbered and outgunned the Federation ships. Then Ares noticed something very strange. The fleet was supposed to be guarding the Federation/Romulan/Cardassian border. Instead, they were 55 light years inside Dominion controlled space.

Ares understood all of this in less than a second and set himself to work. Simon almost didn't believe what he saw in front of his eyes. The power was restored to the shields, weapons and engines. Then, on another display, it seemed that the same was happening to the rest of the fleet. Although the Federation was widely known for having inquisitive minds in her ranks, they didn't question a gift from the horse's mouth. All defensive systems were working. The faster, more maneuvering ships launched themselves at the enemy battlecruiser, while heavier ships, with stronger shielding, gave them cover.

Thanks to the information collected by the Valiant, the Federation ships knew where to hit. In but a few minutes, the mightiest ship in the quadrant exploded in a million pieces. Enraged, the Jem'Hadar fighters redoubled their attacks, but for some reason, the shields on the 12th fleet wouldn't collapse. Half an hour later, what seemed like a lost fight, became a great victory. It was even better because none of the enemy ships were escaping.

As the Olympian made himself visible on the bridge of his namesake ship, and he ordered, "Simon, open a channel to all ships. Use my personal code to override all conversation. This is Admiral Ares, you will set a course 157 mark 005, to the star system Atola. There, you will conduct repairs and maintain strict silence. All damage reports are to be routed to the USS Ares. As long as I'm here, I'm in command of this fleet."

"It's very good to see you, sir." Angeles said. "We'll reach Atola in six hours."

"Bridge, this is sickbay," the bridge heard over the intercom, "I'm sorry to report that we've 206 fatalities. We also have over 600 wounded. Even transforming the holodecks into auxiliary infirmaries, I don't think we'll be able to save even half of them."

"Acknowledge, Doctor," The Captain responded to the Doctor, "Do the best you can. Admiral, we're receiving reports from all over the fleet. There's 57 ships remaining and all of them are in about the same condition as us. The escape pods that we picked up from the destroyed ships also have wounded. I don't know what we'll do."

Ares nodded silently. Whoever was responsible for this massacre will pay!

"We're receiving a message from Admiral Khiel, on the Union." Simon informed.

"Very well," answered the GOW, donning his Starfleet uniform in a flash of light. "I'll take it in the ready room in a few minutes. There's something I need to do first."

While entering the ready room, Ares closed his eyes and shouted with his mental voice, "Polly!" The Goddess of Healing began to appear in a shower of sparks, but as soon as she materialized, she lost her footing. The GOW caught and held her since she looked as if she was close to fainting.

Polly just shook her head, saying, "I'm all right. I just wasn't prepared to feel all the people dying in this area."

"Yes, Polly," Ares retorted, "that's why I called you. Somehow, this fleet has just been whipped, and whipped good. Tthey need your help."

"Of course, *ahem* you can let me go now."

Ares cleared his throat, pulling his hand away. Polly smiled and took her uncle's hands in hers. Raising to her toes, she kissed him lightly on the lips. They looked at each other, blue eyes meeting dark ones, before she gently said, "I've work to do."

"Yes you do," Ares told her. "And I do too, but we'll talk about this, soon. Please begin on the sickbay of this ship."

After she blinked out, Ares touched his com-badge and said, "Simon, put me through the fleet again. Only this time, on 'all-hands' mode." After Andoni complied, the GOW continued, "This is Admiral Ares to all the crew in the fleet. I have brought additional help. The Goddess of Healing will treat the wounded, and you are _ordered_ to cooperate with her. That is all."

When the communication with the fleet closed, he once again paged Andoni, so he could patch in Khiel to the ready room. On the monitor on the desk, the Tellarite Admiral appeared. He had his right arm in a sling. As soon as he appeared onscreen, he began to speak.

"Ares, thank the stars you came to our help. I need to speak with you, in private. Could you please secure the channel."

"No need, Khiel," responded Ares "I can do better than that." One second later, the Tellarite Admiral materialized in the ready room of the Ambassador class ship.

"Dear stars!" exclaimed Khiel "I'd forgotten you could do that. But, there's no time to lose. There's something urgent we must do."

"Urgent?" asked the Olympian, "it must be, to take the entire 12th fleet inside enemy territory."

"It is! The opening of another wormhole to the gamma quadrant is threat enough for this mobilization." When Ares didn't reply, the Tellarite continued, "I received a report from an informer three days ago. It was confirmed twice more in 24 hours. Apparently, the Dominion has retaken the research of Dr. Lenara Khan, (*) a Trill who managed to create a stable wormhole for a few seconds. I don't have to tell you, that if they can bring reinforcements from the other side, we'll lose this war in matter of weeks."

"Did you ask for authorization on this?" The Olympian demanded in a quiet voice, a nasty suspicion raising in his mind.

"I didn't have time. My informers said that the artificial wormhole will be ready in a few days. A week, maybe. Just enough time to get there and attack."

The GOW got very close to this rank-peer pig-face, telling him loud and clear, "You-are-an-idiot!"

Intimidated, the Tellarite sat and fell on a chair. With the Olympian's face still too close, he asked, "Wh-what do you mean?"

"Isn't it obvious!" exclaimed Ares. "Three reports in one day, all of them on the same subject, a project that before was completely secret. It was a trap!"

Khiel's eyes opened wide with realization. Now that he knew the answer, it really seemed childish not to see it. Without the 12th fleet, Dominion forces would be free to establish a fortified position between the Romulan empire and the Federation. They'd destroy ot at least delay supply convoys and disrupt communications. The repercussions were incredible. "I-I didn't knew." He muttered.

Ares grunted with disgust and the Tellarite continued, "I, I must inform Starfleet Command. If the Jem'Hadar strike now, there won't be anything to stop them."

"YOU aren't informing ANYONE of ANYTHING!" shouted the GOW, "I won't allow you to give our position away. Enough people have died because your stupidity. I'll take care of it, but you're facing a court martial when we get back. Captain!"

Commander Trevi entered the ready room, saying "I'm sorry, sirs, but the captain is in sickbay. He's getting his leg fixed. However, Ms. Apolonia has been a great help with those who are in worse condition."

"Very, well, Commander," said the GOW. He extended his hand and the badge and the stars on the collar of Khiel flew to the desk, "This Tellarite is under arrest. He can go to sickbay himself to get his arm healed, but from there, he goes straight to the brig. Is that understood?"

"Sir, yes, sir! Ensign Watters, escort Mr. Khiel to the infirmary, and from there put him in a cell."

After they'd departed, Ares turned to the first officer, telling her, "I want a casualty report on all the ships."

"This is just a preliminary report, Admiral," She said, giving a PADD to the Olympian Admiral, "but when we left, there were 79 ships. Now, we only have 57 left. Our casualties have risen to 9,000. Of the 22 ships lost, we recovered about one third of their crews from the escape pods. And of course, we're 2 days away from where we're supposed to be."

"We're hurt bad, Angie," sighed the War God, "I have to go and prepare a surprise for the Jem'Hadar. When they arrive at Federation space, they'll have a welcoming committee. For now, I want this fleet to lay low. Get to that star system and hide. Whatever parts you need for repairs, I'll try to get them to you. No matter what happens, keep this fleet together." After that, he vanished in a flash of light.

* Dr Lenara Khan opened a wormhole for seconds during the ST:DS9 episode "Rejoined".

Part II
Reactions on the Romulan Side

Ares transported himself to the Romulan Starbase 19 which was the closest one to where the 12th fleet was supposed to be. He changed his Starfleet Admiral Uniform for his Romulan Commodore one. Walking straight for the base commander's office, he quietly ignored the starring gazes. The two soldiers who tried to stop him were shoved aside, literally.

"Let him through." Ordered Commodore Regnol, the Station Commander. He knew exactly who this person who appeared out of nowhere was. Although he wasn't a worshipper, nor did he plan to become one, he knew that every day, more Romulans were using the crossed sword locket. Ares' fame had extended to the point where the Senate was discussing declaring his faith orthodox. (*)

As they went back to his office Regnol stated, "Commodore, welcome to Base 19. Before anything else, I want to thank you for pulling my sister out of the Reaper during the battle of Chin'toka."

"Let's dispense the pleasantries, Sir." Ares responded, "Being the closest base to Federation space, you know that the 12th fleet isn't where it's supposed to be. I'm afraid they attempted a surprise attack on the Dominion, and they were surprised instead. Only one ship survived, the Bismarck, who ran faster and escaped."

"How do you know that?"

"The USS Ares was among the 12th fleet. Is that answer enough?"

"Yes, it is," said the Base Commander "I'm sorry, though, Commodore, but I don't see what do you want me to do?"

"You have to reinforce the position across the border. You must do it at once, before the Jem'Hadar can move in, and drive a wedge between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire. If they're allowed to invade, it'll be far, far harder to drive them out. You have 67 ships here. Move them to the other side of the border, and fight the Dominion forces when they arrive.

"Before you say anything," he raised his hand to stop the Romulan's interruption. "I know all the objections you have. If you move the fleet, you'll leave the Romulan side defenseless or at least weakened. You don't have the authority to cross the border because that command can only come from above in the chain of command. Last but not least, let's not forget that Romulans dislike Humans, Vulcans and all the weak races who conform the Federation."

"That's correct," Regnol commented, "and if you know and understand it, how can you even ask. It's not happening."

"Isn't it? Well, to the objections, first, the Jem'Hadar won't strike the Romulan side of the border if they think the other side is defenseless. That belief alone is what will keep this base safe. Second, the alliance treaty between the Romulans and the Federation clearly states that Field Commanders have decision-making capabilities. Due to that, the two of us can order the crossing of the border if we come to an agreement. As for the third reason," finished Ares, "Romulans might dislike, despise or even hate their Federation neighbors, but as a race, you surely like to win.

"Think about this: your troops will go to the rescue of your former enemies, strike a mighty blow against the Dominion. As leader of this victory, your next title could be Admiral, in just a few weeks. On the other hand, should you choose to do nothing, and leave the Jem'Hadar to gain a foothold on Federation territory, your next title is sure to be weakling or coward."

"I don't like to be threatened, you Federation scum!"

"Threat? I'm not threatening anyone, Regnol," commented the GOW "This is your decision and your decision alone. You can chose to act, or to do nothing, I am merely pointing the consequences of your actions or your inactions. There is a possible reward if you go to the fight; there is a certainty you will be punished if you don't."

The base commander rubbed his forehead, saying "You're giving me a headache Ares," he looked at the Olympian in the eye before continuing. "You're supposed to be a God, can you guarantee my victory?"

"No, I can't commodore." Was the answer from the GOW. "If I did that, with you or with anyone else, what are you contributing? All the glory, all the credit, would be mine. You don't want that, do you? To be treated as if you're a child? You're not one, at least I hope you're not. But you do have an edge, when the Dominion forces arrive. They'll expect no resistance, and won't scan for cloaked vessels. Because as everyone knows, Federation ships don't have cloaking devises."

The Romulan Commodore nodded, making up his mind at last. "Commander Blinna to my office." When a pretty woman in uniform entered, he told her "I'm departing with half the fleet; the Iron Claw as command ship. You will maintain silence for the next 72 hours. If by that time I haven't reported back or you have heard from me, you're to request reinforcements and fortify this position."

"Where are you going, sir?" Asked the Romulan female.

"I'll tell you before I depart." Was all he said. "But every second counts. For the moment, though obey my orders."

After she'd nodded and departed, Regnol finished issuing his orders before the doors were shut. "I'll be ready to depart within the hour," the Romulan commented to the Olympian. "I think I'll take the younger commanders with me. They don't have that much experience, but they're willing to go anywhere to get glory. Most of the older commanders wouldn't give a Federation ship a bucket of spit if asked."

"Good luck Commodore." Said Ares, offering his hand.

"To us all." Was the response of the Romulan, shaking the hand of the Olympian.

* In Romulan culture, orthodox means is not official, but is considered 'according to Romulan traditions.'

Part III
Reports, requests, and refits

Three days later, there was a huge battle. The Romulan fleet emerged victorious. Surprise was an important factor, but Regnol's strategy was brilliant as well. He had them waiting until the enemy felt safe to strike. But when he attacked, he attacked! No Dominion fighters survived, and two of the transport ships full of supplies were seized.

When the news of the battle reached Earth, the admirals were alarmed. At least, until Ares arrived and informed them of the situation. The 12th fleet was wiped out, the Bismarck was hurt and running deep behind enemy lines and it was the Romulans who'd had to rescue the Federation. Some of the members of the war council protested over what Ares had done. Most, however, were just glad that their position wasn't overrun. After debating a few hours, the Federation Joint Chiefs decided to pull several ships to help relieve the romulans. It wasn't that they're ungrateful, it was just that they detested leaving Federation controlled territory in hands that would take it as an invitation to just take it.

"You don't have to worry about that," said the Olympian Admiral. "The base on their side of the border is short handed. It's not possible for the Warbirds to establish a fortified position without Senate approval. I'm guessing they'll want to return to their station as soon as possible."

"Agreed Admiral," nodded Jellico, "but we'd all feel better with our forces in position. Admiral Nechayev will have command of the new 12th fleet. It will only be 40 ships, with the USS Navajo in command and 22 refitted Jem'Hadar ships from the Battle of Betazed." On that note, the session of the War Council was finished.

That night, however, Ares pulled together another meeting with them, only this one is in the realm of his great-uncle Morpheus. When the Admirals found themselves in a very strange dream, they didn't believe it at first. Finally, the GOW was able to convince them that he could enter their dreampaths and guide them all to the same point. Once they were convinced, the Olympian did most of the talking.

"I lied, Admirals." He stated without preambles. "I lied to you and I lied to the Romulan Commodore. Not only the Bismarck survived the fight, but I managed to snatch 57 ships from the bowels of doom. I did it to protect the fleet. I don't trust this information to anyone."

"Why should we trust you if you don't trust us?" protested Admiral Nechayev angrily. "I've had my doubts about you from the start. Now I'm certain you don't belong here."

"Admiral Nechayev, Admirals..." began Ares. "If I didn't trust you, I wouldn't be telling you the truth. This place is the safest or maybe I should say the only safe place. The lives of 25,000 crew members are at stake and just one whisper to the wrong people and those 57 ships would be destroyed. Besides, judging how Khiel was duped, I'm not that sure that intelligence is a requisite for the raising in rank here."

"We can discuss this all night," interrupted Jellico, "but what is done is done. Ares had reasons for keeping us in the dark. Whether we agree with those reasons or not is irrelevant. Facts speak louder than words, and his silence allowed him to set a trap with the Romulans."

A sullen silence fell among the Joint Chiefs. After a few minutes, the GOW told them, "I've ordered the two other intrepid class ships who survived, the Nelson and the Potemkin, to change their registration numbers and names to match that of the Bismarck. That way, when they perform hit and run attacks, the Dominion will think there's only one ship."

"What is your plan Ares?" asked Admiral Jellico. "What exactly do you hope to do with the fleet in that position?"

"I can't answer that question, and before you all begin to nag me about my lack of trust, let me remind you, that you yourselves, have given field commanders authority to use their forces at they see fit. That is exactly what the idiot Khiel did. As far as everyone is concerned, the 12th fleet is mine. Where they're going to strike is to remain secret, and that is the end of it."

"This Council indeed gives its commanders freedom, Admiral." Admiral Paris spoke up with nods of agreement all around. "But, you have two things going against you. First, you've only worn that uniform for a little over a year. To be blunt, your agenda might not be in the best interest of the Federation. The second is a sub-part of the first. Right now, you're not showing trust in us, which in turn, increases our distrust in you."

"I know I'm asking for a leap of faith," replied Ares, "but after what I have done this year, I'd hoped for a little more cooperation. Let me remind you: Betazed might still be in enemy hands if it wasn't for me. Chin'toka might not have been taken if not for me. You would be up to your neck in refugees if not for me. The face I have shown is exactly the same always. It always was and always will be the goal of winning this war. I know you aren't convinced," The nods of everyone answer him. "But I need you to trust me on this one. A list of the materials necessary for the repairs of the fleet will appear tomorrow in each of your desks. I need you to, quietly set those supplies aside, a little at the time, so that it isn't noticed. I'll ferry them every night to the Atola system which is where our ships are. I've a schedule of the refitting. It will take them two weeks to be semi-functional. Once they are, then, then we strike."

Part IV
To boldly strike where no one thought before.

Ares kept to himself on what he planned to do with the fleet. It was slowly but surely coming together. The Intrepid class ships kept their pursuers off balance, hitting, running and leading the pursuing fighters to ambushes of their own. With the Union, a sovereign class ship, and the Ranger and the Dauntless, both Galaxy class ships giving them cover, the ghost ship 'Bismarck' continued to get the attention of the Dominion leaders. They'd ordered in no uncertain terms to tighten the noose around the zone where the Federation ship had been sighted.

After only two weeks after the GOW pulled the 12th fleet out of the fire, Ares received the report of the progress. 45 ships were ready to move, 6 ships are already giving headaches to the Jem'Hadar and 6 others are too seriously damaged to engage in battle. Those needed a space port to be fully repaired. Naturally, the general consensus was to tow them back to Federation space.

The Olympian Admiral, aboard his namesake's ship, laid out his plan to the captains and the first officers of the fleet, the first part at least. "The Bismarck, the Potemkin and the Nelson are striking at this moment on three different targets. Their objectives are: a regular convoy group for the Bismarck, a power station on the planet Shritar-4 for the Nelson and the Potemkin goes against a supply depot on a moon in the Perlok system. Both the convoy and the depot are too heavily defended to be penetrated, so they will escape, straight to the asteroid field in the Romeo star system. What the Jem'Hadar don't know, is that the Union, the Ranger and the Dauntless are already inside that field, and have it mined. The mines are attracted to warp cores which don't have the disarming code. The timing's going to be a little tricky, but the three intrepid class ships should arrive to the meteor cluster about the same time.

When the Dominion ships realize they're facing six ships, instead of only one, they'll have to call for reinforcements. I've intelligence that the Founder herself has ordered the Bismarck destroyed as soon as it's been sighted. The Jem'Hadar will almost certainly follow those orders like the ants they are. They'll call to the only place close enough to send them help, the shipyard at Keboju."

"Is that our objective, Admiral?" Asked Captain Kleyman of the Valkyrie, who had some medals on his uniform, mostly of the conflict with the Cardassians. It was he, in fact, who objected to Admiral Khiel's orders to leave the border and head into enemy territory.

"Only in part," answered Ares. "The Union and the others are bait. They'll attract all the ants to the honey pot, with the ants not knowing that the pot is surrounded by insecticide. The mines, as they explode, will confuse their sensors. They won't detect us until it's too late. After they're wiped out, the shipyard will be defenseless."

"Wiped out?" an alarmed Captain van den Ghil, of the Bolivar, asked.

Ares continued his instructions, not responding to the exclamation of the Captain. "It's of the utmost importance that no ships survive to spread the word. If the enemy realizes there is a large fleet in their territory, not only will the prime objective of this mission fail but it is unlikely that any of you will make it back to the Federation." Ares then turned to Captain de Nigris, of the Cassandra and asked, "Are the modifications on your ship holodecks done?"

"We've finished them, Admiral," the young Captain answered. "Holodecks one and two now have the equivalent of an astrometrics lab. We'll be able to double our scanning range and send and receive encoded messages hidden as background radiation."

"Very good," complimented Ares. "Excellent! The attack of the 'Bismarcks' was 30 minutes ago. The Dominion should be running for their lives. This fleet will move as soon as this meeting is over. We're running silent to the edge of the Cassandra's sensors. It will take us nine hours to get there. Are there any questions?"

Kleyman raised his hand, among others, but his seniority took precedence and others deferred to him. His question was: "What is our primary objective, sir?"

"That information will be released on a need to know basis," responded the GOW, "and right now, none of you need to know."

"Admiral," continued Kleyman before Ares could dismiss the meeting. "Why keep that a secret? If this is a suicide mission, I think I speak for everyone in the room when I say we'll do it anyway," All the others nod as they confirmed his statement. "And if it isn't, knowing will help us be ready."

Ares growled and was looking ready to rip this insolent mortal's head off, literally. Simon saw this and rose from his seat at the right of the Olympian. He put a hand on the Admiral's shoulder and spoke firmly, saying, "A moment of your time, sir. Please, before you end this meeting." Ares looked ready to say no, but took a deep breath and nodded, turning his heel to step into the corridor.

Simon followed him, and when the door closed, he pulled out his locket, looked into Ares' eyes and respectfully said, "My god, I beg you not to take this the wrong way, but you're making a mistake if you don't share the objectives with them. You'll undermine their confidence, in themselves and in you. And besides, who are they going to tell?"

"Trust," an angry, frustrated Ares responded, "trust is a commodity very scarce around here, Simon. Who do you think you are to tell me anything about war? War is about surprise, about making your enemy to believe you are where you're not, strike where and when he feels secure and run when he expects you to fight."

"Yes, My God," answered Simon, "But those people inside the mess hall aren't the enemy. They're your troops. They need your guidance, wisdom and cunning, but as well as all that, they also need your trust. Sir, trust is a two-way road, they do if you do, they don't if you don't. Their lack of confidence might cause them to second guess you in a crucial moment. Remember, sir, it only takes one second to screw up."

After they'd stayed frozen and been looking at each other for some time, the Olympian nodded, accepting and agreeing to Simon's points. When they'd both returned and after Andoni had resumed his seating, Ares put his hands on the table and began again, this time becoming more forward. "Contact your ships. Have your First Officers beamed aboard and then lay a course for the coordinates that the Cassandra will provide you. There isn't any time to lose. I'll tell you what the main objective is as soon as we're on our way. As captains, you'll have full freedom to discuss this information with your crew. I want to be in position within 7 hours. As for the 6 ships who can't move at warp speed, I want them to set a course 147 mark 315 at full impulse. This is somewhat of a risk, but there shouldn't any patrols. All of the Dominion's ships will be within the foot square on the trap. I know it's a leap of faith, but I must ask the crews of the Djinni, Rousseau, Ptolomei, Othello, Hiram and Ithica to trust me. I will not leave you behind. Dismissed."

The Captains stood up, but they seemed now more trusting, more confident in Ares. Ten minutes later, minus the first officers and the captains of the six ships who can't achieve warp speed, the meeting resumed.

"Very well, the mission has three phases. The first one you already know. The ambush has been laid and we must destroy the enemy forces in the asteroid field. Only three ships will remain behind, the Victory of Betazed, the Trigarante and the Mithridates." He paused, looking at Captain Zoraya, before continuing. "Since the Victory is a refitted Jem'Hadar ship, you will simulate a malfunction. Make it appear as if it had just returned from the departing forces. Our intelligence suggests that there're might be 6 Dominion Battle cruisers fully functional, except for the loss of their power sources which haven't arrived. Thanks to a rogue, intrepid class, Federation ship who's been hitting their supply convoys.

"Our second objective is that. I want those ships! The Victory will beam an invading party to the command center of the shipyard and block all communications with the rest of the base and take control. After that, the Trigarante and the Mithridates will help to overtake the entire base. As for our third and final objective, we're going to steal that shipyard and take it with us to Federation space."

A stunned silence was the response to the last statement. It was finally Andoni, as ignorant as the rest of them on what they were going to do, who asked the question on the mind of everyone in the room: "How?"

Ares smiled, "Well, I could tell you that I'll order the skies to open and transport the shipyard in a choir of Klingons with wings." After everyone had laughed at that image and broke the tension, he continued. "But the truth is, we'll use technology to move the shipyard. A few years ago there was an attempt to eliminate the warp engines, and travel 'surfing' or 'riding' a soliton wave (*)." When the GOW noticed that the Captain of the USS Pascal raised his hand, he angrily stated, "I don't want interruptions!"

Captain Alba lowered his hand as Ares continued, "These experiments were widely publicized and the conclusion was, it isn't possible to control the wave with the current level of technology. Since there is no better time than now, I intend to try a different approach. I believe that the problem of accelerating and decelerating can be resolved with a little trick."

The Captain of the Pascal once again raised his hand. Ares suppressed a sigh and asked him, "Yes Captain?"

"I worked on the soliton project, sir," informed Alba, "and we realized at once that the problem was the unstable nature of the wave. There isn't any known device to control it."

"AH, but there is!" exclaimed the GOW with a grin. "Imagine, for example, that the wave is traveling at warp 8, and it begins to accelerate. It then becomes unstable and puts in danger whatever object is surfing it. But, what if a ship in front of the wave monitors the change and at the moment it begins to become unstable it emits a soliton pulse to stabilize it. What if, when it begins to decelerate, a ship behind the wave gives it a little boost. Granted, it would be hard to calculate how to push and pull, but we have the hardware to do it."

Since Captain Alba seemed to be the one most familiar with the process of the wave, everyone else in the room stayed silent to listen to him. The entire mess hall looked as if it was holding their breath until he said, "It might work, but it would be hard to calculate the precise moment and place where a pulse will stabilize the wave. Theoretically, there would need to be monitors throughout the entire length of the soliton wave in order to identify where and how to correct it."

"I think," said Ares crossing his hands over his chest, "that a complete fleet with full sensors would be enough to do the job and do it fine."

"You plan to take all the ships inside the wave?" asked the incredulous Captain Kleyman.

"Yes I do. The USS Union will generate the wave and then run to catch up to it. I don't want to leave a warp trail for the enemy to follow. They won't have any idea how their shipyard disappeared until it is safely in Federation territory. If the wave begins to go faster, the intrepid class ships, being faster, will outrun it and slow it down. The same for the Union, the Dauntless and the Ranger, who will 'push' the wave if it begins to stop."

Captain Mariano Alba stood up and stated, "It will work! You're a genius Admiral. I suggest we return to our ships and rest before the battle."

"That's a good idea," commented Ares, dismissing the meeting. "Remember, only the Cassandra and the Ares can use communications. For the others, I don't even want them using local communications. As soon as you're on your respective vessels, shut down all ongoing coms. Walk instead, it will do you some good." With a hearty laugh, all departed.

* The 'Soliton Wave' was used in the ST:TNG episode 'New Ground'

Part V
Off we go to battle

Ensign Watters at the helm of the USS Ares reported a few hours later: "Captain, Admiral, we have reached the waiting point. All ships are powering down and we're receiving a message to all ships from the Cassandra, only one word: 'Beholder.'"

"Very well, Ensign." Andoni said. "We think the fleet stationed on the shipyard will depart in 15 to 30 minutes. There won't be a warning, so keep your eyes on the Cassandra, and when she goes, you follow."

"Understood sir!" answered Watters.

Twenty three minutes later, the Ensign engaged the engines and reported that they and the fleet were underway. Ares stood up and said: "Transmit the following words to the fleet. 'Dragoon' 'Auschwitz' and 'Roadrunner'"

"Message transmitted, Sir." Watters responded. "Holding predicted course to the meteor field at warp 7.5, standard speed for the Jem'Hadar fighter; the Victory of Betazed stayed behind with the Trigarante and the Mithridates to give them cover. ETA of the enemy ships, 2 hours and 13 minutes, our ETA is 9 minutes later."

"Not good enough," stated the GOW. "I'm going to be jumping to all the ships, to inform them to jump to warp 9 as soon as the enemy reaches the battle field, that should reduce our delay to 3 minutes. I'll stay in the Cassandra, keep her behind, she'll jam the communications of the Dominion ships and coordinate our efforts." With that, the Olympian admiral popped-out in a burst of light.

"Captain," asked the science officer, LT Quasom. "What does the code transmitted mean?"

"Well," answered Simon. "'Beholder' was a code to stand ready. It let us know the Cassandra had reached sensor range and was observing the enemy movements. 'Dragoon' means that we'll attack hard and fast. 'Auschwitz', named after an infamous concentration camp of the 20th century, means that we won't be taking any prisoners from the enemy, none must survive... that shouldn't be too hard since the Jem'Hadar never surrender. 'Roadrunner' means that in case any Dominion fighter escapes, we're to follow her, hunt her down, and destroy it."

A long silence fell on the bridge after that last statement. Everyone pondering the orders they've received.

A little over two hours later, Watters informed the bridge, "Fleet accelerating to warp 9, compensating, the Cassandra is taking the rear, shields at maximum, phaser banks fully charged; we're as ready for this as we'll ever be. The Li-Nalas is going in front, incoming message from the Cassandra, audio only."

"Admiral Ares to the fleet," the Olympian said over the intercom. "Remember to separate yourselves. The asteroid field is an anvil, you're the hammer and the enemy is the nut in-between. The Li-Nalas will go for the enemy flagship. The Churchill, the DeGaulle, and the Ottawa will give her cover. We outnumber them 3 to 2, and we have surprise on our side.

"The following ships will stay behind alongside the Cassandra, ready to cover any damaged ship, stop an escape or give chase if necessary: Cleopatra, Voltaire, Zaragoza, Tokugawa, T'Sura, Lionheart, Khitomer and Ares. The rest, get ready to engage in ... 4... 3... 2... 1... Attack!"

"I want continual reports, Mr. Cruzeiro." Captain Andoni told his Chief of Security.

"Yes sir!" Answered Cruzeiro. "We took them completely by surprise, 6 enemy ships down in the first volley. The Union and the other ships are leaving the asteroid field, but not in attack formation, each ship is on her own."

"That can't be right," commented Commander Trevi. "By leaving alone, they're more vulnerable."

"It's right, Number One," Andoni shot back. "Remember, we don't want any ship escaping. By exiting the meteor field in six different locations, they expand the anvil."

"The DeGaulle and the Ottawa are taking a beating," reported Cruzeiro "But the Li-Nalas is firing everything she's got against the battleship. The enemy flagship is extremely hurt, that Defiant class ship has some firepower. The Columbus and the Osiris are moving to cover the retreat of our damaged ships..."

"Wow!" exclaimed Lt. Anaya at Ops not able to contain herself. "The Morelos and the Tendo are crushing the enemy's heart. 6 enemies down between the two of them."

Commander Trevi smiled and said, "I know Shirol Hoshi of the Morelos and Pedro Araujo of the Tendo. I'd wager that they have a bet on who will have a better score at the end of the fight. For some reason, they both think the other's ship is better and should be theirs."

"What?" asked Quasom, not understanding. "Both ships are Nebula class, there is no difference between them."

"The reasons are historical, Lieutenant." Explained the captain. "The Tendo is named after a great Japanese warrior, and Hoshi was born in Hirosaki, the region where Tendo was born. The same is true for Araujo. He's from Acapulco, where Morelos had his more important victories in the Mexican Independence War. Pretty petty reasons, but that is why each wish they had the other's ship."

"If I were Vulcan," Quasom said with wonder. "I would say 'Illogical.'"

"The Li-Nalas is withdrawing," reported Cruzeiro again, drawing everyone back to the fight. "The Sultan and the Iturbide are joining the Columbus and the Osiris is hitting the enemy flagship, she's going down!" An explosion illuminated the screen. When the warp core of the Battlecruiser had been breeched, the security chief continued his speech, "Three more fighters destroyed, the idiots tried to enter the asteroid field, and the mines took care of them. Only 16 remaining. Joining the Li-Nalas on our side are the Ulysses, the Atlante, the Gagarin, the Potemkin and the Pascal, fortunately, none of them are critically damaged. The Cleopatra and the Zaragoza are receiving orders to join the fight... we're to remain here."

"Damn it!" Swore the first officer angrily. "The Admiral intends to keep us out of the fight completely."

"Remaining enemy ships are getting into arrowhead formation." Reported the security chief. "I think they'll intend break our blockade and escape."

"Be ready to follow them, Mr. Watters." Ordered Andoni. "If they manage to get free, you may yet get your battle wish, Number One."

"Here they come!" Said Watters. "They intend to ram our vessels!"

"The Wallesa, the Kandori and the Goya are in their path. They might not be able to get away." Reported Quasom. "What? The Union, the Dauntless and the Ranger have locked tractor beams on the ramming ships, pulling them off crashing course. That is the damnest thing I have ever seen! Our ships are out of danger...Five enemy ships have broken thru."

"Engaging pursuit, Captain." Informed Watters, without having been ordered. "The rest of the reserve force is following as well."

"Open a channel, Ensign." Ordered the Captain. "USS Ares to Lionheart. T'Sura, Tokugawa, Khitomer and Voltaire, if the enemy tries to form a wall to cover the retreat of one of their fighters, the Ares will pursue the escapee, while you take care of the cover. Understood?"

"All ships acknowledge, Captain." Said Cruzeiro. "But Captain Akane of the Voltaire asked why should we be so privileged."

"Send this message to Captain Akane," Ordered Trevi with a grin. "The guy who pulled us out of the fire two weeks ago is not called Voltaire. His name is ARES! Our name give us the privilege."

"Sir!" exclaimed Cruzeiro. "I think you're a seer, 4 fighters have turned and are coming to face us."

"Standard strategy, Commander." Replied Simon. "Keep us on course to intercept the escaping fighter. Keep jamming her communication. Full power to forward shield. Take us in, Mr. Watters, and be ready if the blockers try to ram us. Engage!"

After a few turns later which was too close for the helmsman, Watters reported, "We have cleared the blocking ships. We'll intercept in 2 minutes 32 seconds."

"Captain?" said the astonished Cruzeiro. "We're receiving a message from the Jem'Hadar fighter. They want to surrender."

"Surrender?" asked Trevi, also with surprise. "Jem'Hadar never surrender!"

"Well, they've slowed to impulse." Reported Watters.

"Enemy ship has come to a full stop." Said Cruzeiro. "They've lowered their shields and are asking us to acknowledge their surrender."

The Captain stood up from his command chair, looking at the defenseless ship on the screen. He sighed, saying, "Lock quantum torpedoes on them, full charge and fire when ready."

"Captain?!" asked the security chief.

Andoni didn't say anything. He turned to look at his first officer, exchanging a silent message with that look. Trevi closed her eyes and said: "You heard the Captain's order, Commander. Fire."

"Aye, aye, sir." Answered Cruzeiro. "Firing now."

Three dots of light showed on the screen as they hit the Jem'Hadar fighter which exploded into a million pieces. "Helm," Ordered the Captain. "Set a course to rendezvous with the fleet and engage at warp 8. Computer, initiate Alpha Security on the bridge."

"Alpha Security activated." Stated the impersonal computer voice.

"What I have done," began Andoni. "destroying a surrendered ship, is completely against the rules of engagement approved by Starfleet. I take full responsibility, and I'll make the report myself, _when_ we get back to Federation Space. Until then, not a word of this leaves the bridge. Anyone who wants to add to my report will be free to do so."

"Report on what?" asked Lt. Anaya at Ops. "We engaged the enemy and destroyed them, all normal."

"I agree with the Lieutenant," continued Quasom, flexing his antennas. "This was a standard engagement, don't you agree, Commander Cruzeiro?"

"Indeed I do, Mr. Quasom," answered the Security Chief. "And I think that all the bridge personnel concur as well."

Everyone on the bridge nodded, except for the First Officer, who was looking at Simon. After they'd both shaken their heads, Trevi said, "Thank you for your support, all of you, but the Captain and I will say the truth."

"The truth?" Asked the recently appointed Counselor, Santana. "The truth is that this crew trusts and supports the two of you. The truth is that we all heard the orders of the Admiral. The truth is that we knew there wouldn't be any enemy survivors after the engagement. The truth is, Captain, Commander, that we were in battle, and we won."

"Mr. Cruzeiro," said Simon, not paying attention to his counselor. "You have the bridge. Computer, deactivate Alpha Security. Number One, please come with me to the ready room." When they both entered, he turned to her and asked, "What are we going to do, Angie?"

"We don't have much of a choice, Simon," answered the First Officer. "We wait until we're back and then we turn ourselves in."

"That is what I thought," commented Andoni with a heavy sigh. "But this is my responsibility, Number One, I will turn myself in, you'll be excused." He raised a hand to stop the objection from the First Officer. "That's how it's going to be Commander. Are you happy that the Admiral couldn't keep us from the fight?"

"No sir," she answered, remembering how she complained to the orders of Ares. "I wish we hadn't participated at all."

Part VI
The theft of the millennium

"The bottom line of the Battle of the Asteroid Field is," reported Captain de Nigris to Ares, "32 enemy ships destroyed and none of ours, 17 ships badly damaged and 2 more in almost critical condition. The casualty list is high in wounded but blessedly short in fatalities. Only 41 deaths."

With the less damaged ships towing the damaged ones, the fleet arrived at the shipyard on Keboju, finding it being orbited by Mithridates and the Trigarante, with the Victory of Betazed docked.

"We're receiving a transmission from the Trigarante, Sir" said the helm officer, Lt. Riho. Captain Zoraya's face came on the screen, smiling. "Trigarante to 12th fleet," she said. "Welcome to the First Federation shipyard in enemy territory."

"Open a channel." Commanded Ares. When it's opened, he continued. "Thank you, Captain, now dispense the pleasantries and give me a full report on the taking of the objective."

"Of course, Admiral," answered Zoraya. "The Victory did most of the work, when they presented themselves. They beamed directly to the command center, neutralizing everyone there. Then, my ship and the Mithridates closed up and beamed canisters of neural gas thru all the compound. Only two pockets of resistance were formed, and they found themselves quickly neutralized."

"Good job, Captain," complimented the GOW. "A 'by the script' takeover. Prisoners?"

"A lot, Admiral," answered the captain of the Trigarante. "1275 Jem'Hadar, 17 Vorta, 207 Cardassians, and two humans, who claim they were prisoners themselves. Personally, I think they're traitors. We've put the Jem'Hadar in stasis chambers, the Cardassians and the Vorta are locked under guard. Oh, our engineers have begun the shield modifications on the shipyard, preparing it for the 'transport.'"

"Excellent, Captain. My congratulations to you, your ship and everyone who participated on this mission. I will order engineers from all the fleet to assist in the shielding process. We have roughly 24 hours to get underway. On the other hand, I have 19 ships in sadly need of repair. I guess the first order of business is to begin working on them."

* * *

12 hours later, Ares showed up on the bridge of his namesake ship. He and Simon were very attached and as such, he felt that the Captain was disturbed. He told Andoni he needed to speak with him in private and they entered the ready room.

Once inside, Ares asked, "What is the matter, Simon? You feel... strange."

"I'm feeling guilty, my God," answered the Captain. He then proceeded to tell the Olympian how he'd ordered the destruction of a surrendered ship, breaking the rules of engagement he sworn to uphold. "I never thought the Jem'Hadar would give themselves in. I had no problem with blasting them to pieces in battle... but a defenseless ship... I am guilty."

"It is unthinkable, Andoni..." commented Ares. "I have seen them facing worse odds than a 'one on one'...Tartarus, they faced me without blinking. I think I want to take a closer look. Let's go to the holodeck."

When they reached it, Simon ordered the computer to recreate the bridge at the time of the battle. He froze the image at the moment the Security Chief reported that the enemy vessel wanted them to acknowledge their surrender and they'd lowered their shields.

"Well Simon," said the GOW "You're feeling guilty over nothing." At the Captain's incredulous look, Ares added, "They weren't giving themselves in. Look at the record of Lt. Anaya in Ops. She might not realize what it means, but you will."

"They were secretly diverting power to their tractor beams!" Exclaimed Simon. "They meant to pull us in, possibly nullify our shooting angle."

"Or simply drag you close enough to ram you." Added Ares. "They never imagined you wouldn't accept their gesture of surrender. By blowing them out of the sky, you took the only available course to save your ship and your crew."

"Thanks Admiral, my God, I... Just thank you."

* * *

"Come on, come on!" Ares desperately said aboard the Cassandra, when the scheduled time was arriving. "Just fifteen minutes to Zero hour. What is the matter?"

"Well, Admiral," answered Captain Alba on the screen. "Captain Andri reports the Union is all set and will begin the wave when ordered, but the shielding on the shipyard is very tricky. If it's not calibrated right, we might as well just blow it up. Besides, we also need to shield the Dominion Battle cruisers and our ships that are too damaged."

"How much longer?" asked the GOW between clenched teeth.

"With 12 more hours, we'd be able to do a very through job, but since I know we don't have 12 hours, can you give me six?"

"Captain Mariano Alba," stated Ares, standing up from his command chair. "This isn't an experiment under controlled conditions. We're in the middle of a war, behind enemy lines in a very precarious position. You have three hours."

When the communication ended, Ares told de Nigris, "Restart the astrometrics simulation. If anything, and I do mean anything comes closer than three light years, I want to know about it. I'll be in my quarters in the USS Ares."

Two hours later, the GOW received a communication from the Cassandra. "Admiral, we're detecting something on long range scanners. It's a very large group. It might be a supply convoy, but I don't think so. My money would be on an attacking fleet to find out what happened here. ETA 90 minutes."

"Acknowledged. Admiral Ares to Captain Alba, Captain, your time has run out. Ready or not, we depart in 15 minutes."

"Admiral," responded Alba. "I understand there is an enemy presence en route here, but surely we have another hour."

"We don't, Captain. Or maybe I should say, you don't."

* * *

"USS Union to shipyard," Captain Andri's voice is heard on the intercom. "Soliton wave starts in T minus 10 minutes, make yourselves ready." The seconds slowly click as the countdown continued. T minus 5 minutes, T minus 3 minutes, T minus 60 seconds. "T minus 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Soliton wave released."

"Wave traveling at warp 2," reported Lt. Anaya on the USS Ares. "It will hit the shipyard in 30 seconds, wave angle is correct. All happening according to predicted parameters."

"Now or never, do or die," said Watters at the helm. "Brace yourselves."

The wave hit the fleet and the Dominion Base practically at the same time, causing some power failures and many bumps and bruises from the crew members. Shaking the cobwebs from her brain, Lt. Ayala regained her seat and reported, "Minor failures on the ship, we're surfing the wave at warp 2.4. All the fleet is in similar condition and the shipyard has micro-fractures in its structure. Still all within safety limits."

"According to predicted parameters," asked Ares. "How long before we reach Federation space?"

"Twenty nine hours, Admiral, but we projected thirty six, just to be on the safe side. We'll pick up the Djinni, Rousseau, Ptolomei, Othello, Hiram and Ithica in eight to nine hours. The Union is entering the wave."

"Very well," said the Olympian. "Have the fleet spread across the wave and make constant sensor sweeps. The Bismarck, Potemkin and Nelson in front, and the Union, Dauntless and Ranger on the rear. I guess now it's all up to luck and fate."

Fate, however, seemed to be smiling on them for a change. They picked up the Djinni and the others without an incident and traveled between warp eight and warp nine all the way. The best part? There wasn't a warp trail to follow. The signature of the Union vanished the moment she entered the wave, and the brief moments the ships leave the wave to make corrections, were too sporadic to be tracked.

* * *

Thirty two hours after the Union let go of the wave, Admiral Alynna Nechayev was summoned to the bridge of the USS Navajo, command ship of the reformed 12th fleet.

"Admiral, we're receiving a signal from across the border," informed Captain Nevicher. "I think the Bismarck finally has found her way out. I knew that Victor Andreas wouldn't go down just yet."

"I think you're in for a surprise, Captain." Answered the Admiral. "Open a channel."

"USS Bismarck calling the *ahem* 12th fleet."

"This is Koyla Nevicher, Victor," responded the Captain of the Navajo. "Welcome back!"

"Koyla! My friend," exclaimed Captain Andreas. "I should have known you'd be where I was. Are you still proud of that ancient whale of a ship?"

"My GALAXY class ship is a lot better than your mosquito sized runabout."

"Before you continue this banter of 'mine is bigger', 'mine is faster' that you men seem to enjoy so much," interrupted the Admiral. "I want to hear your report, Captain Andreas, your _full_ report."

"Of course, ma'am." Said Andreas blushing. "All of the 57 ships who survived the ambush are coming back. 25 are very badly damaged, but we managed to steal six Dominion Battle Cruisers, fully functional except for their warp cores. AND, we appropriated the enemy shipyard of Keboju, that we're towing as we speak."

"Admiral?" asked the amazed Koyla.

"What method are you using to drag the shipyard?" demanded Nechayev, masking her surprise and ignoring the Captain of the Navajo.

"All of the fleet is surfing a Soliton Wave, Admiral." Responded Victor. "That way there is no warp trail to follow. As far as the Dominion knows, it just vanished in space, because we left no debris either. Pretty smart, don't you agree, Koyla?"

"And how do you plan to stop it Victor?" asked Nevicher. "How smart is it to travel on something as unstable as a Soliton wave?"

"We're traveling at warp 8.3, and we're stable. In two hours, my ship, along with the Potemkin and the Nelson will begin the deceleration process. We'll put the shipyard 20 light years inside the border, in the Tempus system. The mines on Tempus 4 and Tempus 6 will be better put to use there."

"Agreed, put the thru Admiral Ares." Ordered Nechayev. The screen goes blank and she added for the benefit of everyone who is listening. "To answer all your questions, yes, we knew that not only the Bismarck had survived. Yes, we let it be known that all the 12th fleet was destroyed, and yes, I suppose that a lot of your friends are still alive. It was, however, of the utmost importance that no word of their presence got back to the Dominion."

"Did you know they intended to 'appropriate' a shipyard, Admiral?" asked the first officer, Commander Kimiyo.

"Of course," the Admiral lied. "Ares consulted with the admiralty before proceeding, as was proper."

"Certainly I did!" said the GOW over the screen a moment later with a big smile on his handsome face. "You may report to Jellico that our plan proceeded like clockwork."

"I will, Ares," responded Nechayev, "and congratulations!"

"To us all, Alynna. While I was at it, I took the liberty of renaming this shipyard."

"Oh, and how did you rename it? 'The blessing of the God of War'?"

"Of course not. That would be too frivolous. No, this is the 'Autolycus' shipyard, for this was definatelly, the theft of the century."
Chapter XIX
The last voice of the past

The victory of the 12th fleet soon became a major event, resulting in parades and speeches, medals and more speeches to 'honor our valiant heroes, and their leader, Admiral Ares'. Strangely enough, Admiral Khiel court martial wasn't mentioned in the news services.

The new shipyard 'Autolycus' began working at once and an army of engineers started investigating the stolen battle cruisers; if the war lasted one more year, it was very possible the refitted ships would go into combat.

However, not everything was good; diplomatic protests rained from the Dominion, those ranged from demanding the immediate return of the kidnapped citizens - which was already in progress - to the angry request of an apology, alongside the giving back of both the shipyard and the cruisers.

On a speech sent to the diplomatic corps of the Federation, Weyoun, the Vorta spokesperson of the Dominion said: "We want peace, but it won't be achieved as long as a bloodthirsty being, like your Admiral Ares is in charge. His atrocities are beyond number. We know for a fact that he ordered taking no survivors in battle; a battle fought deep inside Dominion territory with the objective of stealing, like the common thief he is, valuable property."

That passionate speech, however, didn't make much impact with the Federation Congress, who sent a response through diplomatic channels, stating: "Since those cruisers and the shipyard would be used against the Federation or her allies, they can't be returned."

On happier news, a new ship design was submitted, approved and begun construction in the new shipyard. The new 'Olympia' class ship will have the best parts of both the Defiant class and the Intrepid class ships. It will be small, fast, and have a huge kick. The first batch of twelve ships should be ready in three months.

The captain and the first officer of the USS Ares were quickly and quietly absolved of all charges dealing with the destruction of a surrendered ship, and a lid was put on that case. The Federation still wanted peace above all, and it wouldn't be easy if the Dominion found out of that particular destruction. It would be next to impossible to prove, beyond any doubt, that the Jem'Hadar weren't really surrendering, but laying a trap.

The highly praised Admiral Ares decided to take a leave, "Just 24 hours to not be away too long. And in Deep Space Nine, in case I have to get back pronto."

But since he stepped in the station, something was bothering him. And it really wasn't the Jadzia/Ezri situation. Surprising enough, both women got along all right, and the youngest wasn't romantically interested in Worf. 'No! This is something else.'

He was taking a walk in the promenade with Martok, the Klingon informing him of the progress in the war and how the Rotarran defeated three Cardassian cruisers, when he saw her, felt her, knew her. It's not as if he hadn't seen her since he emerged in this century, he had. But she was blocked, blurred, different. Now, she is who she was. The young one he saved, whom he protected, and who finally betrayed him.

"Serina!!" Ares screamed loud enough to have everyone's eyes turn to him. He ran to the air hatch, closed already and ripped it open with his hands, taking the frightened young woman by the shoulders.

"Decompression danger at airlock three." Stated the impersonal computer voice.

"Admiral!" exclaimed Dr. Bashir, who was right out of the gate. "Let her go, you're scaring her and damaging the station.

"I hate to concur with a physician," commented Martok who ran alongside his god, "but even I know that a decompression would kill us all."

"Shut up! Both of you." Snapped the GOW, then he waved his hand and the gate was whole again. "Serina, do you remember me?"

"I..." answered the young brunette. "I know who you are. I met you when you came to us, Jack, Patrick and Lauren, because you wanted to know certain things about the mirror universe. But that's all."

"NO!" yelled Ares. "I met you a long time ago, remember!"

"Admiral," said Julian, putting a hand on the Olympian's shoulder. "I must insist that you release the young lady."

"Doctor," replied Ares very quietly. "Put your hand away, or you'll lose it, alongside your forearm, your arm and possibly your heart."

"It's ok, Julian," Serina calmed him. "I don't know what the admiral is talking about, but I doubt he'll hurt me, it's ok, please go."

"No, we will go." Finished Ares and they both blinked out.

* * *

When they appeared in a small but cozy room, she asked, "Where are we?"

"This is a moon of the Bajoran system. I built this place to be alone when I need it. Would you like something to drink? You used to enjoy red wine."

"I don't understand." The woman said confusingly. "Who do you think I am? Why do you think you know me? Or that you knew me before, a long time ago."

"I don't _think_ I know you, I'm sure I do. I can see your soul."

"Then tell me, maybe I'll remember."

"You humor me, as if I was mad," smiled the GOW. "But yes, I'll tell you the whole story." He told her the story of how she had once been a golden hind. A being of grace and beauty, who had a distinct quality for humans: hooves and horns of pure gold. And one for gods: poisonous blood. How Zeus decided to kill the entire herd, considering them too great a risk, with his lightnings.

"But you saved me," Serina interrupted him. "I remember. I wanted to go and help my family...to die with them, but you stopped me. You gave me a human form to hide and protect me. Then your father punished you for it, because you made me one of your priestess. I was untouchable to anyone."

"Do you recall the other timeline?" asked the Olympian.

"Yes, I do." She answers. "In both of them, I left you for your brother, I...betrayed you. I betrayed you!" She screamed the last word.

"Be easy, Serina." Ares said hugging her. "It's in the past. You had to follow your heart. I was selfish to not recognize that."

"But I betrayed you!" screamed Serina again, with tears in her eyes, weeping of shame and remorse. "You! The one whom I owed my life."

"Your options were to betray me or yourself, and you couldn't do that."

"Why are you forgiving me?" she asked after a few seconds, trying to calm herself. "You didn't back then, you...killed me in one timeline, and tried to kill me in the other."

"As I said, I was selfish. Your life had been mine ever since I rescued you from my father. Mine to give or take away. If you'd just gone, I'd have allowed it, for I could never force myself on anyone. But you left me for him! My brother! The one who considered me the ultimate evil."

"And you weren't?" asked Serina in a demanding tone, forgetting her distress as she remembered how the Olympian had treated her.

Ares laughed sadly before answering, "I wasn't there, but I've read what happened on earth after I'd been locked up and my family was exiled. I'm sure you have as well. Now, tell me, with that genetically engineered brain of yours, what happened in the world? Just in case I have it wrong."

"Death, destruction, illness and desire of power ran amok through the world. Civilization tried to destroy itself. Great monsters kept rising from the ashes." She said in a dull, unhappy voice. "But humanity survived!" she added triumphally, "Mankind managed to put aside barbarism and work together!"

"Yes, and it only took them 22 centuries to learn," the Olympian said sarcastically. "And now, they're about to be swallowed by yet another monster."

Serina lowers her head. "Forgive me, Ares. Forgive me for everything, my betrayals, my doubts...my words. I know you're turning the tide of this war in our favor. You must be glad. I got what I deserved, being a deaf-mute for over 25 years."

"No!" snapped the GOW. "You didn't deserve that! You deserved to be happy with your husband all those centuries ago. And you will."

"You're not sending me back in time, are you?" she asked horrified. "That isn't allowed! I might do something wrong, something to alter the timeline."

"No, my dear." Ares answered her with a condescending smile. "Sending you back isn't really an option. Oh, I could do it, but there's a better option. He's here! Your husband. Hercules!"

"He is? How?" she demanded excitedly. "Forget it! I know how, he's the son of your father. Where is he?"

"On one of the Angelic planets," responded the Olympian. "I'll take you there right now."

"Before we go, I want to say goodbye to Julian first. I think I'm doing to him the same thing I did to you. He also saved me, brought me out of darkness. Now, I'm leaving him, as well."

"There are parallels." Ares commented. "But judging by my talks with Jadzia and Worf, I doubt he'll be alone for very long. And he already let you go, so the blow of you going to someone else won't be as hard."

"Like it was with you?"

"Yes, but it was different as well. The 'someone else' happened to be my brother. That's why it hurt so much."

* * *

Back on Deep Space Nine, there was a meeting in Captain Sisko's office. Admiral Ross, Dr. Bashir, Gral. Martok and the Captain were there.

"I don't care if he's the only thing standing between us and 5000 years of slavery!" exclaimed the doctor. "An officer of Starfleet kidnapped a woman. He should be brought up on charges."

"I was there, Doctor." Martok commented, trying his best to defuse the situation. "And I definitely remember her saying 'I don't think he'll hurt me'"

"She said that to protect me, General." Countered Bashir. "She knew Ares wouldn't hesitate to kill me if I didn't back away."

"And how would she know that, Doctor?" asked Admiral Ross. "As far as almost anyone in the Federation is concerned, Ares is our one savior, the rock against which the Dominion's power has no affect."

"Poetical Admiral, very poetical." Bashir said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "But she's genetically engineered." When the others in the room didn't seem to comprehend what that had to do with anything, he added, "She can sense danger! Her survival instinct is far more developed."

"If that's true," the Klingon continued, "then she determined being with my god isn't a danger to her."

"You can take your superstitions," began Julian, "and stick them up..."

"Doctor!" Sisko yelled, interrupting Bashir before he said something none of them could forget. "No matter how much you may want it, we don't have any way to locate Admiral Ares. Get a hold of yourself. I don't like him much either, personally, but I can't believe he'd hurt Serina. He still has 14 hours of leave. I'm certain he'll be back before then. We'll question him then."

"Well, well, well..." came a voice from thin air. "I never expected to see you defending me, Captain Sisko." as Ares and Serina showed themselves in a shower of sparks.

"It's ok, Julian." The brunette said, hugging the doctor. "He didn't harm me. All he did was show me who I was."

"Serina," the doctor began. "Come with me to the infirmary. I'll check you out, and confirm he didn't to anything to you."

"He didn't do anything, and I am not going with him. At least not permanently. He's just my ride. I came to say goodbye to you. I told you before, I didn't know where I would go, what I would do. Now, I do."

'From god, to intergalactic delivery service, what a life I have' thought Ares.

"Doctor," said the Klingon General. "I believe the young lady can go wherever she pleases."

"She can, I just want to check her first. She's my patient after all."

"Since I think Admiral Ross and Captain Sisko want to talk with me," Ares said, "why don't you go with the Doctor, my dear? I'm not going anywhere.

"Ok, if you say so."

"General, if you please? This seems to be a Starfleet matter." Ares told the Klingon. Martok, Serina and Bashir exit, leaving the two admirals and the captain.

"Ok," Sisko began angrily. "First off, you put a hole in my station."

"Who in Tartarus do you think you are 'Benji'?" countered the God of War angrily. "THE station wasn't damaged permanently. I didn't kidnap anyone. Quite frankly, I don't have to listen to this."

"I'm afraid you do, Admiral." Ross said, now in the mediator position himself. "The uniform you wear makes you responsible."

"Billy, Benji..." Said the Olympian with sarcasm. "It's me. Ares! I'm not going to apologize, because there's nothing to apologize for. DS9 is safe, nobody was hurt and a girl with no idea what to do with the rest of her life, has a purpose. What is the problem here?"

"The problem is your superior attitude 'Admiral'." Captain Sisko yelled, the last word coming out as an insult. "I haven't been called 'Benji' in a long time, and I don't like it."

"And you think I like being called 'A bloodthirsty monster without feelings'?" demanded the Olympian. Seeing their shocked faces, he continued. "Oh, yes. I know. I always listen when my name is called. I know you recommended to Jadzia and Worf to stop wearing my symbol, Captain. You claimed it was because I'd 'manipulated them into it'. And think you weren't manipulating them by coercion? Do I also have to spell out to you of your private discussion that doubts of me and my loyalty? Well, for your information, I have only ONE loyalty. That is winning this war. Good day, gentlemen." Then he departed, leaving the two other officers stunned at what they've just heard.

* * *

"But Serina," Julian whined (although he'd deny ever doing that). "Ares did something to you. I just want to find out what it is."

"Ares only helped me," said Serina. "Just as he helped me the first time, which was a long time ago. Besides, as I said, I'm not going *with* him. I'm going with him so I can be with his brother, whom I married a long time ago."

"Serina, you realize how ridiculous that sounds?" Bashir stated, not giving credit to what he'd heard.

"As ridiculous as having a living, breathing God walking among you." Ares commented as he entered the room. "Why can't you accept that she was once somebody I knew. Now, with your permission Doctor, or without it, we're leaving."

"Goodbye Julian." Serina said, waving her hand, before they blink out.

* * *

They appeared in an empty room. "Where did you bring me Ares?" asked Serina.

"I don't understand this! This is supposed to be Polly's main temple. Where are the priests? Where is the altar? Where the fuck is everything?"

"Then if this is a temple, don't curse." Whispered Serina, trying not to disturb the holiness of the place. "Why don't you call your niece and find out?"

"I will! POLLY!" He screamed.

"Wow! That's one set of lungs you've got there." The blond goddess said as she appeared. "To what do I own the honor, uncle?"

"Is something wrong?"

"No, of course not. What could be wrong?" she asked with fire in her eyes. "Just because you said 'We'll talk about this, soon' and I haven't heard from you since. Why should that be a problem? It's just been two weeks!"

"I'm sorry," Ares said sheepishly. "But I've had a lot of work."

"Yeah, right!" exclaimed the goddess of healing. "Is this how our relationship, if we ever have one, will be? 'Oh, I had to pound some Jem'Hadar to the ground', 'I was saving a fleet', 'I was with my fallen warriors in Tartarus'. And who's the brunette? A new, loving priestess?"

"An old one, actually," answered Ares, beginning to smile. "She used to be my acolyte 2500 years ago, and do you realize we're having our first fight?"

"And I guess your big ego is making this into a lovers quarrel." Apolonia sarcastically said.

"Well, if the shoe fits, and you said it, not me. But, that's not why I am here. Since you noticed Serina here, she's, well, hum, 25 centuries ago, she left me to marry my brother, Hercules, and I..., well, I had her killed."

"You what?"

"Well, it's kind of a long story, and I'm sure you don't want to hear it." Ares quickly stated to avoid sinking deeper into a more profound pit. "The point is, I'm finally making up for one mistake in the past."

"And have you told her who's expecting her?" asked the blond goddess.

"It doesn't matter who is expecting me!" Serina burst out angrily, speaking for the first time. "If there's a chance for me to be with the man I love, then by all that's holy, I'll take it. And I have a feeling that your anger toward me and tall, dark and beautiful, is because of in large part, jealousy."

"How dare you?" asked a scandalized Polly. "Just because I love this big...ah, well. Uncle Hercules is fine, working the asses off of himself, his family and anyone else he can commodere. I visit him from time to time. It's part of my normal duties now, to check that the livestock reproduces faster. I can tell he misses his wife, so this might not be a good time to present him with an old girlfriend."

"Wife?" Serina asked. "Is he married?"

"Widower, yet again." Ares answered quickly. "There're a lot of parallels this time as well. He lost his wife only a few months ago. I wouldn't take you to him if he was with someone else."

"There's something else," Apolonia added. "You're mortal and he's not. Right now, you're both physically young. But, what will happen in twenty years? Thirty? Even more?"

"I don't care!" Serina exclaimed. "When I first met him, his heart was also broken. I like to think I helped to heal it. I want to do it again."

"True love can't be denied Polly." Ares stated. "I know, I've tried."

"Well, if you're sure." When they nod, the blonde added, "Let's go."

* * *

"Food is very scarce, Grandfather." Richard complained, something everyone in Ares' family seemed to do a lot lately. "I don't understand why we can't use the replicator."

"It's because the replicator doesn't have energy, Son." Vicky answered from inside her bedroom. "Now quit complaining and put some more logs in the fireplace."

"Fireplace!" Grunted Richard. "Can this place get any more primitive?"

"Somebody is knocking on the door." Hercules said from the kitchen. "Would someone please answer it. Invite whoever it is to dinner. This omelet will be ready in a few minutes."

"I'll get it, Dad! No problem." Bruce said. When he opened the door and saw Ares, he immediately went insane. He went for the Olympian's throat, tackling him and screaming, "You bastard! Give us energy for our replicators!"

One punch from the GOW was enough to send the athletic Bruce flying from the door, all the way to the far wall, falling unconscious to the floor.

"Hello, Brother!" Hercules called. "As you can see, you're not very popular around here. If you want, you can stay for dinner, but I'll have to make more. 16 eggs won't be enough for the two of us. Oh, Diana, Steve, pick poor Bruce up. He fell."

"I didn't expect to be popular," Ares called back. "But I also didn't expect to have my nephew going for my head as soon as he saw me."

"Live and learn, Ares." Diana said picking her brother up. "Live and learn. You've taken away most of our regular comforts. In our eyes, you're one sick bastard."

"I see. Hercules, come out here for a second." Ares said a little annoyed. "I came to visit you. The least you can do is receive me yourself."

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" The demigod answered. Half a minute later, he exited the kitchen, wearing an apron and carrying a large frying pan. Not looking up, he said, "You're welcome to stay and eat with us, but you'll have to wait. Oops, Polly, I didn't know you were there. I heard the crash and knew my brother was here, but you're welcome here as well, of course; and a friend..." then he looked at her. Really looked at her, adding. "Have we met before? You seem very familiar."

"You've met." Ares said with a big grin. "Remember, Brother, look at her with your heart instead of your eyes."

"Serina?" Hercules asked, amazed. "Serina, is that you?

"It's me, my husband." She answered with a smile.

"But how? Why? How?" asked the dumbfounded demigod.

"Who cares?" Ares spoke up, loosing his patience. "Are you going to hug her, or just keep looking at her with that idiot statement on your face until the world ends. If you don't want her, I can always offer her the position of my priestess again."

"Hush, Ares!" the goddess whispered. "Let them be."

Hercules finally snapped out of his shock, and hugged Serina, kissing the life out of each other.

* * *

Two hours later, after a wonderful dinner provided by the now beloved 'uncle Ares', the five kids get together in the dark, listening to some very unusual sounds coming out of their grandfather's room.

"Did you get that story of how they met right?" asked Robert.

"Ah, who cares, Little Brother." Donna said, shaking black hair resembling that of his mother. "You could see from their looks, they're very much in love."

"There's something that can be deduced from this." Commented Richard.

"Oh yes!" exclaimed Garth, always eager to tease his older cousin. "Let us hear from the Galaxy's Greatest Detective. Please awe us, we poor mortals, with your wisdom."

"Despite your sarcasm, Cousin," Richard intoned, trying his best to ignore Arthur's son. "It is now obvious. It's indisputable and undeniable. Our grandfather, the great Hercules, son of Zeus, champion of mankind, is now...hitched."


Chapter Twenty
Another weave in the pattern

Part I
Light in the sky

"You know," a guard asked to his partner, "when I volunteered for Temple duty, this isn't what I had in mind."

"Shut up human!" Growled the klingon a few meters away. "We're guarding our Lord's main temple."

"Guarding it from what?" The human asked again. "Nothing will ever happen here."

Just then, a big bright explosion erupted right in front of the temple, sending the two guards flying, crashing in the gates. The human lost consciousness at once, and the stronger klingon was left groggy. He slowly shook his head to clear it, and when he could see again, he lifted his eyes and stood up to the form of Lady Helena. The only strange thing about her, was that instead of her normal gold and black robe, she was wearing white and silver.

"K.. klingon," she began uncertainly. "You serve here?"

"Yes milady," he replied, looking around for the source of the explosion. "Are you all right?"

"I am, yes." The female said flatly but a little more sure of herself, then she pointed at the unconscious man on the floor and added, "and him, is he all right?"

"I must get you inside, excellency." The klingon stated, not bothering to answer. "This could be a Dominion attack, enter quickly."

"Yes, escort me to my quarters, then come back and take care of this poor man."

"Lord Ares wouldn't want a weakling in his service." The klingon spat, looking at his partner with disgust in his eyes.

"We're at war, klingon!" Exclaimed the priestess. "And our enemy is ruthless, I refuse to lose one man because of pride. You'll obey my orders!"

"As you command excellency," the male said in a subdued voice, while he opened the gate for her to pass. Several persons saw her passing, and they bowed to her. When they reached a huge ebony gate, he stopped and inclined his head.

"Well?" She demanded. "What are you waiting for?"

"Excellency," answered the klingon, uncertainty in his gruff voice. "You know only women can pass this door."

"Um, I know that," she recovered, "But you can still open the gate for me."

"The door can only be opened from the inside," said the klingon, suspicions beginning to form in his mind, but dismissing them, a changeling could not come here, to the temple, Lord Ares would rip IT to pieces, and then he would get nasty. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Helena didn't answer, she just knocked the door loudly. "Who wants to enter the Sanctum of Ares?" Came a voice from behind the gate.

"Open the door for the High Priestess of Ares!" Helena called back, loud and clear. The door swung open, and two very strong looking come out, one klingon and one kalonian. "Your Excellency," said the last one. "We weren't aware you had left."

"My comings and goings aren't for you to know or care." Helena snapped at her. "Now, you male, go and take care of the other guard, and you," pointing at the kalonian female, "Escort me to my rooms."

As Helena began to walk, she thought, 'Dear Ares, give me strength, don't let me begin to scream, help me!' Then she starred at the petite blonde across the room and couldn't contain herself. "Antonia!" she screamed.

The blonde jumped at the howl. "Helena," she gasped, "you scared me. I was coming to see you. A few things that we must clear about the klingon adaptation of the rituals. Why are you looking at me like that? Is as if you've seen a ghost."

"It's nothing," the high priestess answered. "I just didn't expect to see you. I... I can't talk about that now, but I do want to talk to you."

"Of course my friend," Antonia smiled, seeing the kalonian leave with her best friend. When they reached the gate, the strong looking woman says "Here we are, your Excellency, will you need anything else?"

"No thank you," she answered. "You may withdraw." After she's left alone, Helena, High Priestess of Ares, God of Love, opened the door to meet herself.

Part II
A Mirror.

"I left orders not to be disturbed!" Helena said without looking of from her desk."

"I'm sorry Excellency," Helena answered from the door. "But this is too important."

"Shapeshifter!" the golden clad priestess screamed, grabbing a phaser and pointing at her counterpart. "Don't move, this is set on kill on a wide disperse pattern."

"I'm not a shapeshifter, whatever that may be." The silver clad one commented, a frown forming on her forehead. "I'm Helena Dubois, High Priestess of Ares, liberator of Earth from the Klingon-Cardassian alliance."

"A pretty story indeed," the owner of the room said. "But if you are who you say you are, you won't have any objection to spill a little blood... go on, take that little knife that you have on your belt, good copy of mine by the way, now cut yourself."

"My god doesn't like blood spilled unnecessarily, but if it will convince you." Slowly, so that her movements can't be considered aggressive, the white priestess pulled her knife and ran it across her left palm, with blood flowing as the result.

"Holy Ares!" the one with the phaser exclaimed, lowering it. "You really are from the mirror universe."

"I am," the one with the knife confirmed, putting it back on her belt. "My god send me to speak with yours, can you contact him?"

"I can, but... he may come, he may not. You'll excuse, however. If I ask my guards to be here, it's not that I'm paranoid, I just don't trust anybody."

"I know the feeling," the other one stated dryly, "and you don't have it."

"And why do you presume that?"

"Have you ever been gang raped?" asked the white clad Helena. "Even once? Have you seen your best friend slit her own throat, just because she couldn't take being alive anymore? Have you seen men and women fight for one stinky piece of bread? I didn't think so... all of that I suffered, all of that your god saved me from. But it was MY god who owns my soul, for he gave me hope, when hope was gone, who gave me strength to journey on. Who am I you ask? I'm Helena Dubois."

"You suffered a lot, haven't you?"

"Now I have hope, but hope will die, for me and for my entire race if I don't speak with your god."

"Very well, forgive me." Said the room owner and fired at her mirror image. Walking to her after she fell. 'Real blood!' she thought. 'She just might be who she claimed to be.' Making up her mind, she went to her knees and prayed: 'Ares! Hope of mine! Protector of mine! Shield and sword, hear the humble worlds of your servant, let them reach your ears. Come to me! For there is something very important that I must consult with you."

"You know Helena," the GOW stated while materializing. "I told you I don't like so much 'cream' in your prayers. You just had to say 'come please' and I would be here. What's the problem?"

"Her."

"What the fuck!" Ares shouted, pulling his sword. "If you've hurt her, you'll regret it, changeling."

"Can't you feel me, my god?" Helena asked fearfully. "Can't you tell that I'm the one who has worshipped you since you came out of the tomb?"

"If you're my priestess, then she must be..."

"From the mirror universe." The owner of the room finished. "She's just stunned. She came to talk to you, I knocked her lights out just to be on the safe side."

"You did good." Commented the Olympian, walking to the fallen Helena he laid his hand on her head and ordered, "Wake up my child."

Helena slowly woke up and asked dreamingly "Ares?" then she pulled herself up adding, "but not my Ares."

"No, thank the fates I'm not. What are you doing here."

"My god send me to request your help."

"Why?" The GOW asked, clearly not understanding. "I would think that with the fall of the Regent(*), independence war would pretty much be over."

"The capture of the Regent only made things worse," began explaining the white clad priestess. "For a few days there was confusion, but the new leader is much worse. Regent Worf wanted us back again as slaves. Fleet Admiral Kurn just wants us dead. And he has suppressed everyone who could stop him. Even his main rivals, Duras and Dukat have been imprisoned."

"Duras and Dukat? Who'd thought it?" Ares asked, not really expecting an answer "And why do you want my help?"

"My god has seen a lot, lived a long time." Answered the visitor. "But he's no warrior. He's a symbol for us, but he's not our leader. Kurn, and his sadistic second, Martok, have beaten us soundly in every battle the last two weeks. We need you, god of war, we need your cunning and your expertise, without you, we will all die."

"Kurn and Martok?" asked Ares incredulously. "And I suppose Dukat and Duras were the ones who wanted to negotiate and liberate the slaves."

"That's what they claimed." Helena answered. "But I don't trust either of them."

"It won't be easy for me to go." Ares remarked. "And is not the power to open the tunnel. We're in the middle of a war here as well. Going to your universe means leaving this one, and who knows how long that would take. I would have to ask for permission to go." He finished with a growl.

"Lord," the white clad priestess was quick to put in. "I knew you were at war here, in this universe as well. But I think that you're winning. Not everyone here will end up dead if you absent yourself for a few weeks. We will. Kurn has made it clear he doesn't take survivors, he has no respect for our lives. Please war god, come with me."

Ares sighed, thinking in silence for a minute. 'Last time I went to the mirror universe, my temples were almost blown, my priests were kidnapped, and almost murdered, my good name almost destroyed. But if I don't go, will I ever he able to look at myself again?' "Fine," he said at last. "I'll go with you."

"Thank you, thank you." the visitor stated, dropping to her knees and tears coming from her eyes. "My god knew you wouldn't let him down."

Turning to his Helena, the Olympian laid down his orders. "I'll go and talk with Jellico. The admiralty owes me a few favors and even though I hate to cash them, I'll make sure they let me go. The whole hierarchy will fall on you. Ask for Polly's help if you need it."

"We'll be all right my god." She reassured him. "You can go, save the galaxy again." She finished with a smile.

"Lord Ares." The white clad priestess whispered, stammering over every word. "If... if you could let me, while you're gone, might, might I speak with Antonia? She was my best friend and she died without being able to say goodbye."

"Why not?" The GOW responded. "Just remember, she may look like your friend, but her life has been very different. Don't hurt her, or you'll regret it." Then he vanished.

* The Regent was captured during the DS9 episode 'The emperor's new cloak'

Part III
Again with Admiralty

Leaving the two Helenas in Macedonia. Ares teleported to his always unused office in San Francisco Academy. He called for his aide, an Ensign Flores. "Ensign, please come to my office."

"Admiral?" Flores asked nervously. "Where are you?"

"I'm using the intercom, therefore, where could I be?" Called back the GOW. "Now come here."

The door swung open, and a young man in a red uniform entered, putting himself at attention he said, "Ensign Adrian Flores reporting as ordered sir. And may I say, is an honor to finally meet you."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever..." then Ares looked up for the first time, and asked "What is that on your face?"

"Eyeglasses sir," the ensign replied. "I'm allergic to Retinax."(*)

"To what? Never mind." Ares interrupted himself, not really caring what in Tartarus 'Retinax' might be. "I want you to write a request for leave of absence, for me. I don't know how long I'll be gone, so don't write down any dates. When you finish it bring it here, I'll take it to Admiral Jellico."

"Aye, aye sir." The Ensign said. "Hum, admiral, you have a ton of mail, I try to answer everyone, especially 'thank you' notes, but if you want to, you can answer them yourself, if you have time, of course sir."

"Dismissed Mr. Flores." Ares moved his hand and waited until the young man had left to sit down. 'Thank you notes, as if I had time.' He thought. Ten minutes later of doing nothing, the GOW called the Ensign. "Mr. Flores, where are those letters?"

"You can access them from your terminal." Adrian called back using the intercom. "Just ask for the files under 'mail-Admiral Ares-recent.' That will give you all the unanswered mail."

"Thank you" Responded the GOW. "How long will it take you to finish the writ?"

"Hum, about 50 more minutes sir. I have to look for some information."

"Fine, carry on." Ares said cutting the link.

* * *

40 minutes and 260 letters later, with still over 1,000 to answer, the war god stopped. 'Enough is enough! I can't do this anymore.' He was about to turn of his terminal, when a letter aught his attention.

"Jack's Pack?" he says with surprise. "What are they writing me for?" He opened the file and read:

TO: Admiral Ares
FROM: Us

Hello Admiral,

How are you, hmm? We've been thinking about that question you left us with, 'How can universal destruction be avoided if two god-like entities of equal power touched one another outside the connecting tunnels of reality. We have concluded that the only way is to stop the explosion before it spreads.

All of this is completely theoretical, my tiger in bed, but we believe that a high gravity environment will neutralize the cosmic explosion. A cosmic nursery could work. (In case you don't know what a cosmic nursery is, I'd be very happy to explain it to you, at the usual rate, 17.)

Another possibility is to find a part of space that has lots and lots of wormholes. Oh my, even if they are just micro wormholes, they could literally 'suck' all the energy and distribute it thru all the galaxy, before it reaches critical mass.

Of course, there is also the option of an impossibility, not that I expect that you comprehend, but instead of wormholes, you could have black holes. Such singularities could also suck and contain the energy, with the little risk of changing and turning themselves into white holes, a miniature big bang, I hope that the last reference is primitive enough for your primitive brain.

Jack! You shouldn't be like that.

Anyway my dear, the best way, of course, is not to test any of this theories.

Sincerely yours,
Jack, who isn't afraid of you.
Patrick, who still wants a hug
&
Lauren, who still dreams of you. You big hunk of a god!

P.S. We know you set Serena with your brother, you better hope he treats her right, or he'll have to explain himself to us.

Ares laughed at this last image. The three savants, facing off the mighty Hercules, 'As if he could ever treat a woman badly'. He turned off his terminal and shouted with his mental voice, 'Polly! Come to me.'

"You know," the goddess commented materializing. "I think you see me as your servant, ready to drop everything an come when you call."

"I could never think that of you, my dear," Ares said. "I love you."

"You cheat!" Apolonia exclaimed. "You know I can't get angry at you when you say that."

"One does one's best." the GOW commented smugly. "Kiss me?"

They kissed passionately and began to undress without using their powers, when the intercom called, "Admiral? Your writ is ready sir." With difficulty, they separated and controlled their breathing. "Admiral, are you still there? Are you all right?" "I'm here ensign," growled the Olympian. "And I'm not all right, but is not your fault. Come on in, I have something for you."

Adrian entered the office, not knowing what to expect, but when he saw the petite blonde, he stumbled. "Err, hum, here is what you asked sir."

"Come here, Mr. Flores," the Olympian ordered. "This is my betrothed, Apolonia, goddess of healing."

"Aren't you forgetting something?" She demanded.

"No, I don't think so, what am I forgetting?"

"You haven't asked!"

"OH!" Ares exclaimed, faking surprise and putting his hands in his cheeks. "Well, you weren't going to refuse, were you?"

"No..."

"Then why do you protest?" Since Polly seemed unable to speak, the war god continued, "You see?" after a few more seconds in which the goddess only makes strangling noises, "Told you!" Ares finished with a smile.

"You! You! You! MAN!" Polly screamed clutching her hands as if wanting to have an Olympian neck between them.

"Hey, don't insult all males," the GOW responded. "Not when he have this young, vibrant ensign here. Now, as you can see, his eyesight is nor perfect, can you correct it?" Breathing hard, Polly said, "You insufferable, arrogant, hateful, annoying man! I have a mind to never speak to you again."

"Does that mean you're not going to fix my eyes, lady?" Adrian asked, his voice going from hope to despair.

"You're working with him, aren't you?" She furiously demanded. "Men! you're all alike."

"Several women I've been with, would disagree." Ares commented off hand.

"Naturally we're not all alike lady," Flores stated, his words coming at the same time of the Olympian's. "I mean, look at him and look at me, I wouldn't dare to ask a beautiful woman like you on a date, much less say that I'd marry you, I'd be too afraid."

"Live as long as he has," Polly muttered. "And you will." Then she laughed, looked up at Ares and said "You're incorrigible, yes, I'll marry you."

"I'm glad," smiled the Olympian god. "I've to go to the alternate universe, but as soon as I get back, I'll be yours, for eternity."

"Well, I have to go as well," commented Polly. "But I'll be waiting for you. Madly in love with you." She kissed him, and then blinked out.

"But what about the kid's eyes?" Ares asked.

"He's a male, dear." Polly's voice sounded from thin air. "It's only right that a male god heals him."

"Well kid!" Ares shrugged. "I guess is up to me now."

"Err, yes Admiral. But you don't have to do it." Adrian stammered with apprehension.

The Olympian god waved his hand saying, "There, that should do it."

"Ouch!" Flores complained. "My eyes sting. Is not too bad though." He removed his eyewear, and rubbed his face. "Oh, is this how everyone can see? So clearly, the colors so vibrant?"

"It is, now my PADD ensign."

"Yes admiral! Thank you admiral." Handing over the writ, Mr. Flores watched the Olympian blink out.

* * *

*AHEM*

Admiral Jellico jumped from his chair, looking at the Olympian who just blinked inside his office and commented hyperventilating. "Damn it Ares! You're going to give me a bloody stroke one day."

"Doubtful Edward." The war god commented. "Doubtful, I came to submit this, I need an extended leave of absence."

"Absence?" asked Jellico sitting again and taking the PADD. "In case you haven't noticed, we're in an important stage in our conflict." He quickly read the writ and went on, "And where are you going?"

"That depends."

"On what?"

"If you want the truth or prefer to have deniability."

"The truth."

Ares told him how the new leader of the Klingon Cardassian alliance in the mirror universe is now obsessed with killing everyone who belonged with the terran empire, and how the counterpart of his priestess came to ask for help and he decided to go.

"You know perfectly well," Jellico began. "That we have strict policy not to interfere with other cultures. Going there would be a violation of the Prime Directive."

"I said this when I went there last year," Ares was quick to reply. "All of this unrest in the parallel universe was caused by a certain starfleet captain, called James Kirk, and that interference broke the Prime Directive. That intervention made it our responsibility to correct that mistake."

"Yeah, yeah, you made that argument before and it was enough to get you off the hook once, but try it again, and it might not work. If you went on a merciful mission, helping refugees or something, it might be possible, but you're going there to fight."

"Edward, I'm going, with your approval or without it. In the request I didn't put where I'll go, so you can just pretend I didn't tell you. Just look the other way."

"Ares, being a Starfleet officer means following a philosophy, one that wants peace above all, and respects life above all. I know you're not the bloodthirsty monster that I thought you were when we first met, but if you can't follow this simple principles, I'm not sure you'll be good for us in the future." Then he sighed. "Request granted, when you get back, report to me."

"When I get back, I'll be getting married, so you can expect another request for leave, this time on a honeymoon. Of course all the admirals will be invited, but I'm not sure if we'll get married here on Earth, on Olympia or we'll just ask Simon to join us."

"I'm married," Jellico said. "And I can assure you, is not a holiday, still, congratulations."

Ares, who always has to have the last word, put on a coda, "Do try not to lose this war while I'm gone." Before blinking out.

* Retinax: A medical substance that repairs eye maladies, James T. Kirk was allergic as well, as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

Part IV
World of Darkness

Ares GOW and a somewhat distressed Helena exited the dimensional tunnel, and the Olympian gaped, there was an almost exact replica of his temple, only it was made of white marble instead of granite. "Oh goody!" came the voice of the GOL, before he materialized in a shower of pink sparks. "My brother is good to see you."

"Don't touch me!" screamed the GOW when his twin tried to hug him, then at the hurt look on his doppelganger he added, "is not THAT, is that I have from a very good authority that if we ever touch one another, both our universes would be destroyed."

"Oh... OH!" Exclaimed the GOL. "OK, no touching."

"Is good to see you too, sissy boy, not tell me, what is happening."

"Well..." began the Ares clad in white. "I have good warriors, they have courage, they have weapons, but they don't have experience. In the first 8 months of struggle, we were on the offensive, reclaiming some, well, a lot of systems of the old Terran Empire. Four months ago, our lines began to thin, so we didn't continue expanding. The regent was completely obsessed with Terok Nor, and that gave us some breathing room.

"I shouldn't say 'unfortunately', but for us it was; the Regent got himself captured, and after a brief struggle, his brother Kurn came to power."

"Kurn is a bully!" Helena howled. "He was governor of the Tri-System, Earth, Vulcan and Rigel, and the brutality increased dramatically during his period."

"A bully, hmm?" muttered the war god, a plan beginning to form in his mind. "Continue."

"Kurn made his old buddy, Martok, his second and began his counter attack. Martok is smart, very smart. He managed to mine the corridor that joins the Bajoran system and the badlands with the rest of the galaxy in a few days, and turned two thirds of the fleet on us, the other third was left to guard the romulan border. The Romulans are sympathetic to our cause, but not enough to lay their lives for us."

"Our situation has become impossible to sustain." Added Helena. "We lost about a quarter of our forces in the retreat, evacuating all the civilians we could from the colonies, still we had to leave hundreds of thousands more to die. We'd lost millions more if there wasn't for my god Ares help."

"We hold only the Tri-System, and Kurn can attack us, and will attack us soon, a week, two, maybe three." The love god finished.

"Where are his forces?" Demanded the dark Olympian.

"About here," quickly replied the love god, extending his hand and creating a small tri-dimensional map. "As you can see, his forces are regrouping about 100 light years away. But we can't know where will he strike, it might be any of the three systems."

"Not really," the GOW stated. "I'm guessing he'll want to divide you, so he doesn't have to face a unified front... he'll wait until he hears dissention is breaking your ranks and Vulcans run to defend their planet, Rigellians do the same and terrans have to stay alone. I'll force his hand, forming a barricade in Alpha Centauri, we'll put all of our forces in there."

"That would leave Earth defenseless!" Helena exclaimed.

"Look at the distances, both of you," continued the GOW. "If Kurn tried to bypass our barricade, we'd be able to take him on his flank or full in the rear. This way, we'll be choosing the terrain, leaving him only when the conflict will begin."

"Even then," the GOL said. "Our forces aren't strong enough to withstand an assault of such a large fleet."

"We shall see, sissy boy, we shall see."

* * *

"What the fuck is this?" Exclaimed the black clad Olympian.

"They're our troops," answered Helena, not understanding why her god's twin is so upset. "Are you going to tell me they're not good enough?"

"What - are - they - wearing?!" Spat the dark Olympian

"Their uniforms." Answered the GOL. "I designed them myself. Don't you like them? They look sexy."

"Sexy?" asked the war god not giving credit to his eyes, shaking his head and sighing inwardly. "Their uniforms are white and silver, with a non-armored white jacket and white leather pants."

"Don't forget the silver belt, cuffs and collar." Added the white Olympian giggling. "OH! I could just eat them!"

"The klingons and the cardassians will eat them for you." Stated the black clad Ares. "I'm going to change their colors."

"Why?"

"For the most basic of reasons," explained the war god, holding his temper with both hands. "In battle, you bet dirty, you sweat and you bleed, and no warrior likes to be reminded he's dirty. White, reminds you. I'll change them to Red and Black."

Part V
Red and Black

After the normal commotion caused by the change in colors, the GOL explained to his army that his dark twin from another universe would take command. And his first order has been to order everyone to the barricade in Alpha Centauri.

Once it became clear the new commander wasn't going to be swayed, preparations for the transport began; and they weren't quiet about it, for Ares wanted Kurn to know he'd have to deal with the barricade first. One day later, transport was well in progress. On another meeting, Ares GOW met the best field commander of the Tri-System forces, Reginald Barclay. "It's and honor to meet you, war god." The tall, blonde man said.

"Reg Barclay," smiled the god of war. "And I suppose you're daring, courageous and a risk taker." "I led a revolt in Io and Ganymede three years ago." Answered Reg, "It failed, and I was captured. I had nano-bots injected in my blood stream to keep me in constant pain, hoping to break me, but they couldn't do it. After the enemy was destroyed in the entire solar system a year ago I didn't neutralize the nanites, for I wanted to have a reminder of what I have suffered."

'This guy is an idiot!' Black Ares couldn't help thinking. "And you certainly inspired your fellow prisoners, the attack you made on the Regent forces were completely unexpected, but it is said your troops are more loyal to you than either Ares or Helena."

"That is just not true." Barclay shot back. "I swore allegiance to Ares in the Holy war of Freedom. Everything is done as he orders."

"Then you're the right person for this." The GOW told him. "The barricade won't be easy to hold. The enemy will outgun you, and outnumber you. The only thing you have in your favor is that you out-courage them."

"If you command sir, they shall not pass."

"I command it. I'll see you when the transfer is complete in Alpha Centauri."

* * *

After Barclay departed, Ares conferred with Helena and his twin. "This guy is a fanatic. He'll do good on the trenches but he won't think past killing. He's ideal for the barricade, but I need a unit commander with an already made unit, one whose brain hasn't turned to mush by hate."

"I think I have the right person." Helena said. "I'll go get him."

Once alone, the bearded god was able to talk with his twin about far more important matters. "I'm getting married."

"You what?" asked excitedly the GOL. "That is so great, who is the lucky person?" They talked about the upcoming wedding for some time. The love god giving advice on how to treat a life companion, which is very different that the short affairs he's accustomed to. All in all, even though the war god won't ever admit it, he learned a lot in that conversation.

The door opened, and Helena entered with a man and a woman after her, "Found them, these are..."

"Simon and Angeles," interrupted the black Ares. "I know them, how large is your team?"

"Err, we have a compliment of 286, 288 with us," Simon responded. "All of us were slaves on enemy ships in the sector when you destroy them, so we kind of stick together."

"You're wondering how do I know you?" smiled the bearded Ares. "In my universe, you're the commanding officer of the USS Ares. You make a good team there, you should make one equal here."

"I just want to say war god." Angeles spoke for the first time. "That I thank you for the change in uniforms. No offense my god," she turned to the white clad Ares, "but they were highly uncomfortable."

"None taken." The love god responded, trying to hide his hurt expression.

"Ensemble your team," the war god ordered. "I'm taking you to Terok Nor."

* * *

The contingent arrived to the bajoran system, courtesy of GOL express, in there, they met Smiley, leader of the rebel forces. "It is an honor to meet you." He introduced himself. "If it was up to me, I'd give you a banquet, but even our rations are rationed."

"No problem," the black clad Olympian replied. "We're here to interview the regent and take the Defiant to the barricade."

"You're not taking the Defiant anywhere," 'Captain' Bashir spat, entering the room. "It is our only real protection."

"In case you haven't noticed," Simon quickly put in, "Kurn is ignoring Bajor entirely, is Earth what he really wants."

"Your victories are acknowledged," the GOW told Smiley. "But the question here is if you acknowledge the command hierarchy from Earth. If you don't then you're setting up a conflict in the near future, between those who fought in the Tri-System, and those who fought outside it."

"Why do you need the Defiant?" asked O'Brien.

"Smiley, you can't be thinking on letting them take her!" exclaimed Julian scandalized.

"The Defiant is needed to strengthen the barricade in Alpha Centauri," the GOW explained. "Earth's last, best hope to hold the enemy at bay, oh, and we're not _taking_ her Mr. O'Brien, we want you and your crew to man her."

"This is your chance to fight for Earth!" The GOL stated, his voice ringing with passion. "Because if we fail at Alpha Centauri, there won't be anything left of our mother planet."

"And why did you bring those black clad guys?" Bashir demanded, his voice full of suspicion. "You want us to leave the station in their hands?"

"No. They have a mission of their own," responded the war god. "I'll need to speak with the Regent. What I am talking about is leave the station to the bajorans. Kai Winn has supported the rebellion from the start; and aside a few sick individuals like Intendant Kira, Bajor threw their lot with us."

"Smiley..." began Bashir, obviously trying to express his opposition, but O'Brien cut him short. "Forget it, Julian," he said. "Like it or not, they're right. Our situation won't be improved if we stay here, Kurn doesn't wish to attack here, a fact he has proved time and again, and the bajorans _have_ cast their lot with us."

"Only because..." Julian tried again.

"It doesn't matter, CAPTAIN Bashir!" Snapped O'Brien. "We're going, I suggest we pack. Tell everyone that the Defiant is departing. It's time to fight for Earth."

* * *

Two hours later, the station was handed over to the bajoran liaison, a general Jaro(*) and everyone parted on their own way.

On their new uniforms, the crew of the Defiant mingled with the forces on Centauri Prime and see clearly that the forces were divided in two camps, the fanatics and the resigned. The first group clearly expected, no, hoped to die destroying the enemy. The others just knew they will die.

The war god realized this as well, and alongside his counterpart, did a broadcast, making sure that everyone, even Simon and his group listen. He said: "I know there are doubts in your hearts and in your minds. Doubts that go from something as 'why are our uniforms red and black?' to 'how will we survive this enemy?'

"I just want to tell you that the colors are a sign, to rally the people, to call them to arms and to bring them in line. Red - the blood of angry men! Black - the dark of ages past! Red - a world about to dawn! Black - the night that ends at last!"

Then he commenced singing, alone:

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a fight about to start
When tomorrow comes!"

The love god repeated as soon as his dark twin finished:

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a fight about to start
When tomorrow comes!"

Then they sang together, and everyone in the barricade joined them:

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a fight about to start
When tomorrow comes!"

The war god continued alone:

"Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?"

The white clad Ares took it up then:

"Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!"

Together, the Olympians sang and everyone joined them:

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a fight about to start
When tomorrow comes!"

The love god and the war god now sang together:

"Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the Alpha Quadrant!"

The roar that followed was clearly deafening, everyone in the barricade, over 100,000 persons, humans, vulcans, rigellians, betazoids, andorians, all singing together:

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a fight about to start
When tomorrow comes!
Tomorrow comes!"

* The songs 'Red and Black' and 'Do you hear the people sing?' are from the play of 'Les Miserables' by Boublil and Schonberg.

Part VI
Combat

A few days later, the spirits were higher, and the enemy was finally detected on the radars. In the command center, Helena and Barclay used the same address form as Ares did to get to the troops. She said: "Now we pledge ourselves to hold this barricade!"

"Let them come in their legions, and they will be met!" Stated Barclay.

"Have faith in yourselves and don't be afraid." Continued Helena.

"Let's give 'em a screwing that they'll never forget!" He said.

"This is where it begins!" the priestess went on.

"And if I should die in the fight to be free, where the fighting is hardest there will I be."

"Let them come if they dare, for today we will win!"

"Prepare yourselves!" Barclay ordered. "They'll get here soon."

"Excellency" a woman named Tac in communications in the Command Center reported. "A Raider ship comes from the enemy formation, it might be your spy."

"Very well," Helena said with enthusiasm. "Maybe he'll bring us some good news."

A few minutes later, a middle aged man entered, saying "Hello your Eminence, I have a report, and is not good. Listen my friends I have done as I said I would. I have been to their lines, I have counted their ships, I will tell what I saw. Better be warned, they have more ships than we even thought and the danger is real. We will need all our cunning to bring them to heel."

"Have faith," Helena quickly put in. "If we know what their movements are we'll spoil their game. There are ways that our people can fight, we shall overcome their power."

"I have overheard their plans." the spy stated. "There will be no attack soon, they intend to starve us out before they start a proper fight, concentrate their force, hit us from 182 mark 62."

"Liar!" cried Tac, standing up. "Good evening, dear inspector, lovely evening, my dear. I know this man, my friends his name is Arne Darvin. He was a klingon spy on my prison camp, then when he was discovered, he ascended to Inspector. So don't believe a word he says 'cause none of it's true. Remember how you used to call us? 'Little people'? Well, this only goes to show you what little people can do!"

"Bravo, my Tac!" exclaimed Reg. "You're the top of the class! So what are we going to do with this snake in our yard?"

"Tie this man and take him to the tavern in there," ordered Helena to the guards. "The people will decide your fate Inspector Darvin!"

"What?" Yelled Barclay. "Take the bastard now and shoot him! Let us watch the devil die!"

"You'd have done the same Inspector," Tac whispered. "If we'd let you have your chance!"

"Shoot me now or shoot me later," the klingon growled bravely. "Death to each and every traitor. I don't recognize your people's court!"

"Though we may not all survive here," Helena said. "There are things that never die. Take this man, bring him through, there is much we have to do!"

Then, on the screen, appeared the face of Admiral Kurn, smiling evilly. "You're using our technology, you can't expect us not to know it. I give you a last chance, so listen to this, no one is coming to help you to fight. You're on your own, you have no friends. Give up your guns - or die!"

"Damn your warnings, damn your lies, you have seen the people rise! We won't go down now!"

"Have it your way, human." The klingon said, closing communication.

The battle began then, with an overconfident Kurn, sending wave after wave of ships to crash onto the barricade lines. Being a bully, he expected to crack the enemy ranks with sheer force, and he paid a heavy price for it. After a few hours of combat he withdrew.

"See how they run away?" asked Barclay "By Ares we've won the day!"

"They will be back again," stated Helena. "Make an attack again. The enemy may be regrouping. Hold yourself in readiness. Come my friends, back to your positions. The night is falling fast..."

And so they fought, for twelve days with little rest between battles, against odds that should have overwhelmed them in twelve hours. By the thirteenth day, they knew very well that this was the last one, their weapon stores nearly depleted, their shield generators in their last legs and the defenders themselves tired to the point of exhaustion.

On the bridge of the Defiant, Ezri Tigan said for what seemed the thousandth time, "Enemy coming in attack formation, they'll hit us in a few minutes.

"And where is god now? Hmm?" Asked Bashir in weapons control. "Where is the fucking sissy now?"

"As much as I hate to say this," began O'Brien. "Believing in a god is a question of faith. Either you believe he has the bigger picture clear in his mind and is working toward the greater good, or you think he's just a powerful being with the sole purpose of amusing himself."

"We're receiving a transmission from the enemy." Reported Ezri.

The screen of the Defiant is the only one who doesn't activate automatically, everywhere else Kurn's face showed up. "You at the barricade listen to this: You have no chance, no chance at all. Why throw your lives away?"

"Let us die facing our foes." Yelled Helena, opening the communication channel. "Make them bleed while we can."

"Make 'em pay through the nose." Screamed Barclay. "Make 'em pay for every man!"

"Let others rise to take our place, until our worlds're free!" Helena finished, closing communication.

* Dialogues were taken from 'Upon these stones - Building the Barricade', 'At the Barricade' and 'The Final Battle' From the play of 'Les Miserables' by Boublil and Schonberg.

** Julian Bashir's only line is from the movie 'South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut'.

Part VII
Turning

"Something is happening." Informed a young girl named Joey in the command center. "The enemy ships seem to be turning, our sensors detect a large alliance fleet coming from in the same direction."

"Great!" Barclay said sarcastically. "More enemies to crush our bones!"

"Receiving a message from the new fleet." Joey reported. "Audio only."

"Let's hear it." Helena orders.

On the speakers they heard: "Do you hear the people sing?..."

"It's Simon!" exclaimed the priestess. "He's done it! He overpowered the entire alliance fleet guarding the romulan border with the codes we took from the Regent."

"What are we waiting for?" asked Reg. "Let's give the order to open fire. Even depleted as we are, we'll crush them between our two forces."

"NO!" Shouted firmly the love god, materializing. "Now that we have the upper hand, it's time to make peace."

"Peace?" Demanded Barclay. "How can we make peace with barbarian murderers?"

"Because barbarian murderers is what the terrans were called 70 years ago." The GOW said simply in a shower of black sparks. "The circle of violence, of hate must be broken. It won't take a day, a month or a year. In fact, is possible that decades pass before a final peace settles, but a 100 miles journey must always start with one step."

"Those bastards enslaved us for longer than I've been alive!" Reg bellowed, frothing in the mouth. "How can we even consider to spare them."

"Because we enslaved them for 50 years before the fall of the terran empire." Helena said, clearly understanding what both Olympians had in mind. "If we don't learn from our mistakes, if we don't learn to stop hating, we're doomed to go on a cycle of being conquerors and being conquered."

"Listen to her Reg." the love god said, trying to calm him. "You've many followers. If you can put your hate on hold, then we have a chance to make this conflict go away, forever."

Barclay just shook his head.

"Then listen to this, for is true." stated the Black clad Olympian as he began to sing:

"It begins very small
Seems like nothing much at all
Just a germ, just a speck, just a grain.

"But the seed has been sown
And before you know it's grown
It has spread through your life like a stain.

"And its power will strangle your love and joy
And its hunger consumes for it lives to destroy.

"Hate is the star; it becomes who you are
Not the hated, but the hater
Has a torment that's greater.

"It will eat you alive,
Consume you and spit you out
Hate's gonna win
That there's no doubt about.

"Hate doesn't care who you are,
Hate is the star!

"Learning hate is an art,
Even people who are smart
Can be caught, can be crushed, can be creamed.

"Hate has swallowed you whole
Did you think you're in control
Hate you thought, hate you spoke
Hate you dreamed!

"All your hate now has substance
Your lives are undone
It's your eve of destruction,
Your hatred has won!"

Barclay sat down, hanging his head and saying, "I won't doom my people to remain in the endless cycle of violence. I'll advocate for peace."

"Let me contact Kurn." Helena said. When the admiral's face appears on the screen he was a lot less confident. She smiled at him. "Well klingon, I guess now is my turn to say 'No one is coming to help you to fight. You're on your own, you have no friends. Give up your guns - or die!'"

"You obviously don't know me, human!" Spat the klingon. "I still outnumber you, outgun you, and even if you don't want to acknowledge it, I certainly out-general you."

"Her, maybe." Intruded the war god. "Maybe, but not me." He moved his hands before continuing. "Those little dots showing up in your screens, are unmanned weapon platforms. They were hidden is subspace, waiting for the right time to come out and crush your forces. Now, are you ready to negotiate?"

"What are your terms?" asked Kurn.

"Terms? Well, let's see," began Helena. "You'll withdraw your ships from the vicinity, evacuate the occupation forces in Andor, Bolia, Betazed and Trill. Give up your claim on Bajor and repatriate all the slaves." Then she smiles. "I know that is easier said than done, and it won't be archived soon. I'm letting you go, because I know your people won't back you again, a defeated admiral. The only way to save your ass now, will be to put someone else in charge, and the only two candidates are Duras and Dukat, I hope they have enough sense to sit down and negotiate."

"What if I don't surrender?" Demanded the klingon admiral with a sneer, more out of bravado than of anything else. "I still have enough ships to break my way out."

"Then you'll be giving the alliance over to the Romulans." Simon said, interrupting from the Regent's cruiser. "Right now they are mobilizing. If you chose to waste all your resources here, our new allies will crush Qu'onos and Cardassia in the blink of and eye."

"Negotiate may be a refreshing approach, then." Kurn said, admitting defeat. "I'll be departing."

"Not so fast!" Simon declared. "I want you to eject your primary phaser coil and that of your ships. I don't want to have to fight this same ships again."

"That would leave us defenseless!" Exclaimed the admiral, then he added. "Let's begin the negotiation here, I'll leave here a number of phaser coils, that will leave us with the same amount of functional ships."

"You see how negotiating works." Helena smiled. "Let him pass Simon."

"This whole 'agreement' thing will take some time." The GOW told the GOL. "I better get back to my own universe. This last days I've had a feeling that something bad is happening."

"Thank you my brother!" The white clad Ares quickly replied. "Not only you won this war for us, you also helped us archive peace. Allow me." He opened the dimensional tunnel and the war god emerges in his own universe.

Once there, Ares knew for sure what was wrong. "POLLY!" He screamed terrified.

* The song 'Hate is the Star' is from the Xena episode The Bitter Suite, composed by Joseph LoDuca.



Chapter Twenty one
A little fall of Rain.

Ares transported himself to Zadkiel in the middle of a storm in time to feel the final energies of Apolonia cease, and the Dominion and Cardassian fleet finally entering the Angelic Systems. "NO!" He screamed, unleashing his power in destructive form, a way that Polly could not do, for it was against her nature.

Seconds later, the enemy was destroyed and Ares ran to the side of his beloved, held by Hercules. When he touched her, he felt it was too late. She was dying. Her life essence that should have sustained her for thousands of years was depleted, and there was nothing he can do about it.

"She kept them at bay." Hercules informed his brother. "If not for her, all of us would be dead."

Polly smiled at Ares and said: "Don't you fret, my dear Ares, I don't feel any pain, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now. You're here, that's all I need to know, and you will keep me safe, and you will keep me close, and rain will make the flowers grow."

"But you will live, Polly, by all that is holy!" Ares answered her. "If I could close your wounds with words of love..."

"Just hold me now, and let it be." She interrupted him. "Shelter me, comfort me..."

"You would live for thousands of years, if I could show you how; I won't desert you now..."

"The rain can't hurt me now. This rain will wash away what's past, and you will keep me safe, and you will keep me close... I'll sleep in your embrace at last! The rain that brings you here is really a blessing. The skies begin to clear and I'm at rest. A breath away from where you are, I've come home from so far.

"So don't you fret, my dear Ares, I don't feel any pain, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now."

"I'm here!"

"That's all I need to know. And you will keep me safe, and you will keep me close, and rain will make the flowers..."

"Grow." He finished for her. "NOOOOOOO!!!" Yelled the God of War, holding the disappearing body of her beloved, causing the planet to start shaking.

"ARES! BROTHER!" Screamed Hercules, trying to break thru the barrier of grief. He dared not to touch him, for in this state he might kill without thought. "She gave her life for us! For this planets! Will you make her sacrifice a hollow one? Will you finish the job of those who killed her?"

The earthquake stopped, and the war god slowly stood up, he was still for a few seconds before saying, "You're right, I won't finish the Dominion job for them, but I won't interfere anymore either. I am finished." Then he blinked out.

At the same moment, in all of his temples, the eternally guarded flame extinguished, all the clerics felt the sudden absence of their lord, and in all the lockets, the symbol of Ares vanished.

* The song 'A little fall of Rain' is from the play of 'Les Miserables' by Boublil and Schonberg.

Chapter Twenty two
Time of woe

"This is a public relation disaster!" exclaimed Admiral Vasser in Star Fleet HQ. "Not only were we left looking like idiots by allowing the enemy to penetrate so far into our territory undetected, we also lost our big banner, Ares and our little big banner, Apolonia. The media is going to crucify us."

"Is that all you can think of?" Demanded Captain Andoni in angry tones. "The effect it'll have in PR?"

"Now I know why some of my classmates didn't want to be raised to captaincy." Said Angeles.

"Need I remind you that the newly acquired pip doesn't entitle you to berate an admiral, captain Trevi." Replied Vasser.

"No, but the fact that she's right does." Added Admiral Jellico. "PR, while important, is not the main issue. As much as it pains me to say it, our main worry is what Ares will do. We're indirectly responsible for the death of her fiancée. Will he turn against us?"

"And then, of course, is the matter of where he went." Admiral Castillo commented. "He appropriated Pollux 4, Olympia, if you prefer, in the blink of an eye. He transported all the colonist to Zadkiel, and erected a barrier."

"Just for the record," injected Simon. "Ares paid a small fortune to each colony in dilithium crystals. This wasn't a theft."

"No one is accusing him of anything," Said Admiral Owen Paris, at the head of the table.

"I disagree," Vasser interrupted. "Any other officer would already be charged with defection. He should be arrested."

Before Simon or Angeles can protest, Jellico added, "You're mistaken, admiral. The extended leave that Ares was granted ends when he reports back to command. Since he hasn't done that, he's technically still on leave."

"But what can we do to bring him back?" Asked Admiral Nechayev. "Let's face it, we need him."

"I brought someone who can help us answer many questions." Simon answered the general question. "He knows Ares better than anyone else. May I show him in." At Paris' nod, Andoni touched his badge and said, "You may come in." As the tall man entered the room, Andoni added, "Gentlepersons, this is Ares' brother, Hercules."

"A pleasure to meet you, sir." Admiral Paris said, before anyone else could express disbelief over the identity of the tall man. "Please sit down. There are a few questions we need to have answered, and if captain Andoni vouches for you, I speak for everyone in this table when I say we'd be very glad for any help you may provide."

"I'll do whatever I can, sir." Herc nodded, sitting down.

"The first one is," began Paris, not letting anyone else interrupt. "If this woman, Apolonia, was a god, how could she die?"

Hercules began to shrug his shoulders, when Angeles answered, "I have an explanation for that." With every eye in the room turn to face her, she cleared her throat before continuing. "Back in the battle for Betazed, Ares froze all technology and began to tire. It really didn't matter that thousands were praying to him, as long as he kept the field, he couldn't renovate his energies. I assume that's what happened with Lady Apolonia."

"That would be a safe assumption, yes." Hercules added.

"Ok," mutters Paris. "Next is, will Ares turn against us?"

"That one is much more important." Comments Nechayev.

"There are no insurances." The blonde demigod answered. "But I consider it very, very unlikely he will. There are two reasons for that, the first is that now he hates the Dominion more than anything else, I doubt he'll help them. The second reason is that his largest power base is here, if he attacks earth, or any world of the Alpha Quadrant Alliance, he'd lose a very large chunk of his followers and that would weaken him greatly."

"Will he come back?" Asked Jellico.

"That," replied Hercules. "Can only be answered by him, and I have every intention to go and ask him myself."

"He has erected several invisible barriers in the Pollux system." Commented Admiral Vasser. "Several ships have tried to enter, only to be turned back."

"They might be invisible to sensors," Hercules began explaining, "but my Olympian blood will allow me to see all things created by other gods. I only would ask for passage to the edge of the system, and a shuttle to reach the planet where my brother is."

"You think we'd loan a civilian a shuttle?" Asked Vasser, not quite believing the nerve of this man.

"All you'd have to do is reinstate me," replied the demigod. "I went to Starfleet Academy a long time ago. I was in the same class as Robert April and George Kirk. You can look me up as Ian Kent Andrews."

"Admirals," said Simon. "I think this would be our best hope for bringing Ares back. I request permission to accompany him to Olympia."

"Well, Mr. Hercules, Captains Andoni and Trevi," Admiral Jellico said, knowing that nothing more needed to be said before they reached a decision. "Will you please wait outside while we deliberate?"

As the three exit the room, Hercules looked back to the room, if he could read the expressions correctly, he'd be able to reach Pollux 4 in a matter of days.

"How long will they talk about this?" Asked Trevi. "This being my first brass meeting and all."

"Before the war, I'd say weeks." Responded Simon. "But the war has thought them to act quickly. I'd say we'll have our answer in a few hours."

"And what if they say no?" Angeles once again voiced her doubts.

"Then it'll take me longer," Hercules answered. "But I'll get there."

* * *

The next day they're summoned before the brass again, all the admirals are present, and Deanna Troi is there as well. "We've decided," began Admiral Jellico. "To authorize the transport of Mr. Hercules to the Olympia system, then, he'll take a shuttle and try to reach the planet. We've confirmed that he's indeed Ian K. Andrews, former lieutenant who resigned his commission two years after graduating, but he'll still need one officer to accompany him."

"I'll go." Simon volunteered.

"No, you won't" Admiral Paris said, shaking his head. "By Ms. Troi recommendation, it will be Captain Trevi who'll go in the shuttle."

"May I ask why?" Inquired Andoni.

"Ares feelings for you are intense," responded Troi. "But I could tell that he's fascinated with Captain Trevi. If he's gone into depression as I fear, he'll need a lot to shake him out of it, and when I mean shake, I do mean it. Don't be afraid to fight him. Hell, don't be afraid to kiss him!"

"I certainly won't be afraid to do that." Smiled Angeles.

"I'll cut you a deal," said the demigod. "I hit him, you kiss him."

"It would be much better the other way around." Comments Deanna. "But try to go as far as you can, you must get him out of his self imposed exile."

* * *

"We're on the edge of the Olympia system." Reported ensign Watters. "This is as far as we can go."

"Very well," responded Simon, touching his badge. "Andoni to shuttle bay three, you may depart, good luck."

"Thank you, captain." Said Hercules from the Thamaris. "I think we're going to need it."

"It should take us 93 minutes to arrive to Olympia," commented Angie. "But I still don't understand why you must be the pilot."

"I can see the barriers ahead," replied the demigod. "I'll need to make corrections, not dictate them, and besides, I've piloted everything that has ever been constructed."

"Yeah, yeah, so you say." Grumbled Trevi. "Just be careful not to crash against the gates."

* * *

Six hours later, they were still two million kilometers away from their objective. Captain Trevi had to patch their shield circuits three times and seal two hull breaches. 'And to think this was supposed to be an hour and a half trip.' She can't help but think to herself.

"Are our shields back again?" asked Hercules.

"78%" She replied. "And I'd very much prefer to keep them that way."

"You and me both, captain." Commented the son of Zeus. "But that might not be possible. I'm going to sling shot us in this moon. I'll punch my way thru."

"You're the pilot," whispers Angie.

Hercules began to go around one of the moons of the fifth planet, increasing gradually his speed. "Now comes the tricky part," he said, talking mostly to himself. "Having the right angle to head right for the forth planet."

"You've done this before, haven't you?" Asked Trevi, suddenly more worried than she'd been before.

"Yes, but not in well over 100 years, and definitely not at this speed." The captain didn't seem to take this as something very reassuring, so he added, "We should go, right about, now."

The shuttle broke orbit, with a steady course to Olympia. "Well, at least we're going in the right direction." Said Angeles in a relieved whisper.

"Let me know when we're in transporter range," calls Herc. "This just became a one way trip, no way we can stop our descent now." A few hard shakes later, each time with the computer female voice announcing a reduction of their shield capacity, Angie reported, "Transporter range in one minute."

"Ok, I'll lock the helm," said Hercules, following his words with actions. "Let's go."

They beamed down in time to see their shuttle burn in the atmosphere. "Well," said Trevi, pulling out her tricorder. "We're 23.7 kilometers away from the temple. I assume that's where Ares will be staying. Let's go."

They hiked for the next 3 hours, in a forest that seemed to have grown a lot in the past few days. When they finally reach the main structure, Hercules let out a sigh. "This is not good."

"What do you mean?" Asked Trevi, not seeing anything obviously wrong.

"Look at the niches," Herc replied, pointing with his finger. "They're dirty, some of the columns are getting dark. Ares isn't paying attention to this place. He might not be here."

"Damn!" exclaimed Angeles. "I hate to think we made this trip for nothing. Well, let's find out."

As they entered, they could see that a lot of dust had accumulated and a few animals were running, afraid of their presence. Then they saw him. Ares. He was sitting on his throne, his hair and beard longer and unkempt and not moving a muscle.

"Brother!" called Hercules walking toward the dais. "We've been worried about you."

"You missed my moving-up ceremony," commented Angeles, "I'm now captain of one of the new Olympia class ships. I think you'll be pleased with how we named them."

"It was a surprise to me as well," continued the demigod. "All of the ships are named after your children: Aeropus, Alcippe, Ascalaphus, Cycnus, Diomedes, Dryas, Harmonia, Ialmenus, Meleanger, Penthelisea, Terens and Thestius."

Ares remained still as a stone. Angeles looked at the blonde demigod, an idea flourishing in her mind. "I've got the Harmonia, and I'm celebrating. I took your brother as my new lover."

Hercules was shocked for a few seconds, but caught up as soon as Angeles took him by the arm and squeezed. "That's right," he said. "And she's very sweet. I can understand why she was your favorite."

Ares kept still, but said in a dull voice, "I know what you're trying to do. Know that I don't feel anger toward you, I don't feel desire. I don't feel anything. Not even annoyed by your presence here. That is the most likely the reason you're still alive. If I could feel, I'd have killed you both already.

"I have no emotions," Ares continued. "But I remember having them. That is the other think that has kept you alive. Because I loved you wife Hercules, and because I loved you, Angeles. Now leave."

"We're not going anywhere!" Exclaimed captain Trevi.

"I disagree." Ares told them without raising his voice.

* * *

The demigod and captain Trevi appeared on the bridge of the U.S.S. Ares among a shower of sparks, surprising everyone on duty at the moment. "How did it went?" asked Captain Andoni as soon as he could.

"Not good, captain." Answered Hercules, shaking his head. "We must report to Starfleet Command."

* * *

"This is worse than I thought," sighed counselor Troi when she heard how the interview had gone. "If Ares has shut himself completely from feeling, then he might very well be lost forever."

"Most of us don't have your training, counselor," said Admiral Paris. "Could you please elaborate on his condition."

"Certainly sir," nodded Deanna. "This isn't an isolated incident, there have been others, though they're very rare. I myself treated a patient with this symptoms(*). Ares is denying himself the ability to feel. On my patient, it was done in order to block out his guilt."

"And how did your patient snapped out of it?" Asked Simon.

"With some help, I showed him that it wasn't his fault, but not been able to get close to Admiral Ares, I've no choice but to think that he has to make peace with himself by himself."

"He may not have that much time." Hercules said to the conference. "My brother has not only cut himself from feeling, he also has kept himself from sustenance; without either violence or worship, he'll die."

"Ares still has a huge multitude of worshippers." Objected Admiral Nechayev.

"But he's not listening to any of them." Called back the demigod. "Believe me, sirs, he's punishing himself. He's trying to kill himself."

* Deanna Troi had a boy that isolated himself from feeling in the ST:TNG Episode 'Hero worship'


Chapter Twenty Three
Shock

Ares didn't notice the passage of time. It might have just been hours since Hercules came. It might have been years since Apolonia died. Time was just not important. Nothing was important to him now.

'Is this what is like to be Vulcan?' he asked himself. 'Does peace arrive when emotions don't cloud the mind?' These were the questions he pondered forever... centuries at least.

A whisper, however, filtered thru his deafened ears. It was a whisper of pain, but that was unimportant. Pain was a feeling. Pain didn't matter. Another millennia passed before the whisper came back. Louder this time, and still a cry of pain. 'There is something familiar about that cry.' He thought after a few centuries. 'I've heard it before... but there is no before. I don't care.'

When the scream came a third time, the war god decided to investigate out of curiosity, it wasn't emotional, it was scientifical. Allowing himself to extend his senses, the tuned his hearing to the cry. 'Ah!' He thought, having solved the problem. 'That's why is so familiar. That is Gaia screaming, like in the twentieth century, during the atomic tests.'

Having been asleep for so long, Ares' brain didn't really recognize the information that had just been inputted at once. But when he finally awoke, Ares spoke for the first time since Hercules left, "Great grandmother?" Forcing his muscles to move he stood up from the throne, feeling a lot weaker than he was last he remembered. Moving thru the pain of atrophy he extended his senses until he focused on Earth.

"GAIA!" He screamed, transporting himself.

* * *

He appeared in San Francisco, outside Starfleet HQ. The building complex had taken quite a beating and he can see there are many cruisers of unknown design bombarding the planet from orbit. "How has this come to pass?" He asked himself.

Another explosive charge was falling directly over the bay, and Ares screamed, "NO!" he moved his hand and the bomb stopped in mid air. Many more were falling, and he yelled, "NO! Not anymore! NOT ONE MORE!" Pushing his arms up, he caused the missiles to head back from their point of origin, destroying or disabling the attacking ships.

Then the Olympian realized that there are still many vessels in orbit, different groups were attacking different objectives. 'Rio the Janeiro, in South America, Tokyo in Eastern Asia, Paris and Rome in Europe, Jerusalem, La Mecca and Macedonia in the Middle East.'

He struggled for a second, not sure where should he help first, but the population must come first. Transporting himself to Paris, he didn't bother to stop the falling missiles, he just blasted apart the attackers. Doing the same later in Rio, Tokyo and Rome, with his last stop being the place he cared about the most, but was the least populated of all and, strategically speaking, it was both unimportant and undefended.

After destroying the enemy, he assessed the damage. San Francisco and Paris were badly damaged. Rio and Tokyo came out almost intact. Rome, Jerusalem and La Mecca received a few hits, but Macedonia...

Transporting himself there he regarded his temple, his beautiful temple. Severely damaged. The columns were falling and there were bodies, so many bodies, dead and dying. And among the butchers yard, Celesta was floating around; touching those who were too wounded to go on living.

"CELESTA STOP!" Commanded the Olympian.

"What do you care, Ares?" She asked without stopping. "You really don't give a damn about them!"

"That's not true." He replied.

"You abandoned them!" Celesta yelled, not giving the GOW a chance to continue. "You were hurting, so you just went away. You..."

"Enough!" Ares screamed, shaking the earth itself. "No matter what else you may think. I'm still the Olympian god, and I decide whom you can and cannot take. Everyone who died here today comes back, that's an order."

Celesta tried to resist, but couldn't really deny a direct command from her superior, she began crying, "You abandoned me as well. You broke your promise. You said you'd take me with you if you ever left!"

"I wasn't too far away," Ares tried to defend himself. "I just had to clear my head. Can't you understand? In all my life I've never, ever, felt what I felt for her."

"And what have you learned?" Celesta demanded.

"That no matter how much I may want it," he answered, "I can't give up, I can't stop caring, I can't stop feeling."

"I'm glad you learned that lesson, my son." Gaia called from behind Ares. "I'm just sorry you had to go thru everything alone."

When the Olympian turned, he could see she was badly beaten, each of the bruises represented an explosion detonated, killing tens if not hundreds of thousands. "I'm very sorry, Gaia," he told her. "I'm sorry you had to get hurt to pull me out of my madness. I'm not as strong as I was, but I will heal you."

Power flowed from him, seeking to restore Gaia to her former self, but he was astonished to find out just how weak he really felt. Strong enough to close the wounds of his great grandmother, rebuild the temple and many structures demolished by the attack, but it left him really dizzy. "What the..." he said, almost falling down. "Just how long was I away?"

"Too long, my god!" Shouts Helena, exiting the temple. "But the important thing is that you're back!"

"Helena!" Smiled the Olympian god, feeling the faith and worship emanating from the restored temple give him strength.

"I never doubted you'd be back!" Exclaimed Antonia, right behind Helena. "I just knew it!"

"Everyone is back," Said Celesta, only allowing Gaia and Ares to hear her. "Or at least everyone who still believes in you. You've lost a lot of followers during your 'retreat'."

"We heard many things, lord." Said one of the acolytes. "But it was our belief in you that kept us going."

"Where were you?" asked another.

Ares considered the question for a second, reached a decision, then overturned it, reconsidered and chose to go with his original instinct. "I am Ares, I do not give explanations."

The rude answer seemed to rather cow than satisfy, but he knew that the truth would do a lot more harm than good, and the best way is to divert attention, "I lost some followers during my absence, how many?"

"Just about everyone, as far as I know." The High Priestess answered. "You removed your symbol from the lockets, your fire from the temples, and your presence from our hearts. Me and this few others can feel you because we were so close to you."

"Then I'll begin the restoration!" Exclaimed the black clad god; extending his power to light the flames in his temples and letting his followers feel his presence. Feeling how the worship recommenced, it feeds him. But alongside the banquet of worship, came a thunderstorm of hurt and doubt, and for someone who didn't want to feel anything until a few hours ago, the pain was stronger, excruciating. Just about anyone else would bend or break with that kind of strain. But he's Ares, the one who's felt the pain of his followers for thousands of years... This, this makes him stronger.

After he finished with his restoration on Earth, he paused a second before moving to other places, repeating the process many times over the next few hours, encountering that his power base has been drastically cut, over one quarter of everyone who worshipped him had defected. The effort was too much, however, and he fell unconscious.

When at last his consciousness returned, he saw Admiral Edward Jellico talking with Helena, but he wasn't well enough to hear what they were saying. "Edward," Ares began to let them know he was awake. "So nice to see you."

"Unfortunately," the human answered, "the feeling isn't mutual. You abandoned your post, ADMIRAL Ares."

"And I came back to pull Starfleet's massive ass out of the fire. Again."

"There is a decision you've to make," Edward said. "Either you're with us, 100%, or you're not. We can't stand on shaking ground concerning you."

"You're saying I'm a rogue?" Ares asked. "Well, at least I'd be in good company. So many of the greatest men in Starfleet were called that. Archer, Pike, Kirk... I could name many more."

"This is an issue of the here and now, Ares!" exclaimed Jellico. "I won't let you turn it into an ancient history lesson."

"Edward Jellico!" came a shout from everywhere, it was a voice that no person could hear without being awed. It was Gaia, who made herself visible, she couldn't let this argument escalate, it was stupid. "My great grandson came here for ME! To keep me from being hurt! You may not like it, but you will accept it!"

The human admiral was unable to speak. Even though Gaia was using her firm voice instead of her loud one, it was enough to stun him. "Admiral Edward Jellico," interceded Ares. "This is my great grandmother, Gaia." Realizing the human was still too awed to speak, he added, "Excuse me, Gaia. Could you please calm him down. You're much better at that than me."

She nodded and sent soothing images directly into Jellico's brain. A sunrise by the sea, a rain shower in the jungle, a hot wind in the desert, an immutable ice field in the tundra, a calm stream passing thru a forest and a sunset, melting behind a mountain. All this visions slowly calmed the human down, enough for him to regain his ability to speak. "Damn," he said. "I've never felt so scared in my entire life."

"She always had a temper," the Olympian commented. "My uncle Poseidon took after her."

"And you don't?" She asked jokingly.

"Well, I've always been calm and rational." The GOW defended himself. "Not as much as Athena, but... no living person could compare with her."

"Ares," Jellico interrupted. "The Breen have joined forces with the Dominion. Those were Breen ships you destroyed. I fear the attack on earth might just be the beginning, we may... we'll need you." (*)

"I'll take us to San Francisco right away."

"NO!" Gaia orders. "Jellico, you go back to your Headquarters. We have some place to go. I'll deliver my grandson to you myself as soon as we're finished."

The human admiral can't do anything but nod at her and after a second, he touched his badge and was transported away.

"Where do we go?" the Olympian asked once they were alone.

"Home." The goddess of earth answered simply.

* Earth was attacked during the ST:DS9 Episode "The changing face of evil."


Chapter Twenty Four
Grief

"Home" Ares asked confused. "We're home."

"Don't you play games with me, boy." She said. "Since you left your prison you've avoided Olympus. We're going. Now."

"I don't think..." He began, only to find himself interrupted. "No you don't!" She told him firmly. "This wasn't a request. Believe it or not, you need to go there, say goodbye, let your pain run its course."

"It's just a place," he refused. "Inhabited by phantoms. There is nothing for me to see."

"Then there is nothing to avoid."

"But..." he said scowling, only to be interrupted again. "Enough!" Gaia commands, snapping her fingers and teleporting them both.

* * *

They appear inside Olympus amid a shower of golden sparks. The place of the gods, a pocket dimension that only those with powers could access. "It looks so different," Ares said with hesitation. "It used to be so beautiful."

"My son, Chronos, isn't forgiving at all," Gaia commented. "Just like when he was a boy, time will consume everything."

"Why am I here?"

"I don't know," Gaia answered mildly. "Why do you think you're here?"

"Don't play shrink with me!" He snapped. "You wanted me here, well, here I am!"

"Ok, just look around."

"I don't want to..." he whispered. "This place is dead. There is nothing here. There is nobody here." He sighed the last statement.

"You can't cry, can you?" Gaia asked. "Then sing your pain, my son. If tears won't come to your eyes, sing what's in you heart. You may fell better after."

Ares raised his voice and sang:(*)

There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my family's dead all gone.

Here they talked of many things.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about 'tomorrow'
And tomorrow was their end.

From the table in the center
They could see a world forever
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely planet, away, from home.

Oh my flesh, my blood forgive me

(The ghosts of his family appear)

That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.

Phantom faces at the window.
Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my flesh will meet no more.

(The ghosts fade away)

Oh my flesh, my blood, don't ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where they'll never sing anymore.

Falling down to his knees, the war god is finally able to cry. With tears running down his eyes, he said, "Goodbye."

* The song 'Empty chairs at empty tables' is from the play of 'Les Miserables' by Boublil and Schonberg.


Chapter Twenty five
Recovering lost ground

Part I
San Francisco

It took a while for the GOW to recover himself, but when he did, he turned to his grandmother, saying, "Thank you, I..."

"You had to come full-circle," Gaia interrupted him once more. "I do understand. Do you want to look around? See if there are any more mem..."

"NO!" It was Ares turn to interrupt. "What I said before is still true; this is empty. Michael was right. The Olympians helped mankind in its infancy and then had to depart. I don't like agreeing with that cupid-wanna-be, but I've no choice."

"Ok, do you want me to escort you to San Francisco."

"No, Thank you, but I can find my own way."

* * *

Ares appeared at the entrance of Starfleet HQ. He chose not to change, preferring not to dishonor the uniform of admiral, in case he gets kicked out. 'Who'd have thought,' he said to himself. 'that someday I'd have to defer to an organization built and controlled by mortals.'

As he was entering the building, two security officers came to him, the ranking one, a Lieutenant saying, "We've been ordered to escort you to the admiral's conference room, sir. If you'd please follow us?"

With the 'honor guard' at his heels, the Olympian entered the elevator, and exited in the 117th floor, where the Security team show him to the door of the lounge.

"Ah, Mr. Ares," Admiral Paris welcomed him. "So good of you to join us."

"Skip the formalities, Owen," injected Admiral Nechayev. "The gentleman is here for one reason, and one reason only."

"That is correct," admits the black clad god. "And the reason is to know if I'm still welcome around you. To tell the truth, I didn't wore my starfleet uniform, because I didn't want to have it taken away. I need to find out if I'm about to be fired, arrested or both and... I give you my word that I'll accept the sentence that you pass out for me."

"Admiral Ares," spoke an admiral at the other end of the table. "I'm Rear Admiral Bennett, of the Judge Advocate General(*). To tell you the truth, this is an unusual circumstance. In the months that you were absent, charges were brought to you by Admiral John Vasser," pointing at the gentleman three seats to his right, "who acted as prosecutor. Admiral Jellico was designated to act in your defense.

"After carefully pondering the circumstances of your absence, I reached a personal decision, you were guilty: no officer should allow his or her personal feelings to affect his or her performance. My personal judgment, unfortunately, is irrelevant, as it must be in according to the law. And your counselor was able to prove that you were, in fact, on leave; one that didn't end until a few minutes ago, when you reported back to duty.

"Taking into account that there was no evidence of bad faith when you requested your leave of absence, I had no choice but to dismiss the case."

"What does that mean?" Ares asked, not really understanding what had just been said.

"It means that we're welcoming you back!" Exclaimed a smiling Jellico.

"That doesn't mean," said loudly Admiral Vasser, "that we're ever going to forget that it happened. In my opinion..."

"We're all aware of your opinion, John." Interrupted Admiral Paris. "You may please don your uniform, Admiral Ares."

With a very big smile, the Olympian did as requested, saying, "It's good to be back. What's the situation?"

"A few minutes before you arrived," began Jellico, "we got the report that the Chin'toka system fell to Breen forces."(**)

"The information we've got is sketchy at best," continued Nechayev. "but apparently the Breen have a dampening weapon that disables all our ships. We lost a lot of ships on our counter offensive, DS9 is pretty much defenseless."

"Alongside some other sectors," added a saddened Jellico. "Until we can develop a protection against the Breen, we're falling back."

"Sirs!" Exclaimed one of the security officers, entering the room without announcing himself first, and pressing a button that activated a screen. "We're getting a transmission, rerouted from one of our arrays that you should see."

On the screen, Legate Damar, head of the Cardassian Union was addressing his people: "Cardassians have never been afraid of war, a fact we've proven time and again over these past two years. 7 million of our brave soldiers have given their lives to fulfill our part of the agreement, and what has the Dominion done in return? Nothing. We've gained no new territories. In fact, our influence throughout the Quadrant has diminished.

"And to make matters worse, we're not even masters in our own home. Travel anywhere in Cardassia and what do you find? Jem'Hadar, Vorta, and now Breen. Instead of the invaders, we have become the invaded. Our allies have conquered us without firing a single shot.

"Well, no longer. This morning, detachments of the Cardassian First, Third, and Ninth Orders attacked Dominion outposts on Rondack 3. This assault marks the first step towards the liberation of our homeland from the true oppressors of the Alpha Quadrant.

"I call upon Cardassians everywhere - Resist. Resist today. Resist tomorrow. Resist till the last Dominion soldier has been driven from our soil."(**)

When the screen showed only the Starfleet arrowhead, the lieutenant added, "Admiral Ross sent us confirmation, Damar really has turned against the Dominion."

"This might just give us the time we need." Said Paris.

"What can I do to help?" Asked Ares.

The admirals look at one another, not really sure of what task give the Olympian, until Jellico said, "The 12th fleet fell back to protect the Tempus system. The mining projects and the Autolycus shipyard are too important. Commodore Kleyman is in charge, you could go and reassure him of the situation."

Ares realized at once that they were just trying to get rid of him, but it didn't matter, they had taken him back, and that was the most important part. "I'll go there at once." He told them before blinking out.

* Admiral Bennett is the head of Starfleet JAG, according to the ST:DS9 episode 'Dr. Bashir, I presume.'

** Chin'toka was taken in the ST:DS9 episode 'The changing face of evil', the attack of Cardassian forces against the cloning facility on Rondac 3 was simultaneous.


Part II
Shipyard Autolycus (*)

"Fleet commander's log, supplemental. Commodore Kleyman speaking, Breen forces have kept harassing us for the last 10 light years, I've lost 18 ships in the last 48 hours. How I wish there was somebody else in charge. Our new orders, straight from HQ, are to defend the shipyard and the mining operation on the Tempus System."

"Commodore," said loudly the security chief of the Valkyrie. "Incoming message from captain Andoni. It's marked private."

"I'll take it in my ready room." Said the commodore, standing up and walking toward his office. "What is it, Simon?" He asked, turning on his desk monitor. "More bad news."

"Good ones for a change, sir." Answered the captain of the USS Ares. "He's back!"

"Who?"

"ARES! The one who saved us when we were deep inside enemy space!"

"And how do you know this?"

"Look!" Exclaimed Andoni, pulling out his locket. "The symbol's back! And I can feel him!"

"I hope you're right, Simon." Sighed Kleyman. "That bloody Breen fleet seems unstoppable."

* * *

Twenty four hours later, the 12th fleet was appraised of the attack on Earth, on the Chin'toka system and the participation of the GOW in defending Starfleet Headquarters and the Federation capital in Paris.

"I told you he'd be back," Andoni enthusiastically tells his counselor. "With him on our side, we can't lose."

"I'm glad he's back," said Santana. "But his character seems rather unpredictable. I'm reluctant to share this, but a large part of the crew and the fleet feel that if he abandoned his post once, he might do it again."

"He also saved us," countered the captain. "I really can't believe that we'd be so ungrateful as to hold Ares in contempt."

"Captain," interrupted commander Cruzeiro over the intercom. "We're receiving a standard hail from a Klingon flotilla, half a light year away, and closing fast. Commodore Kleyman is answering."

"Put it on screen."

"This is commander Tavana, of the KISS Pich'lak," a very strong looking and handsome klingon woman introduced herself. "By order of General Martok, my wing will give your fleet cover. We'll meet you on the Tempus system. Tavana out."

* * *

When they reached the shipyard, Kleyman ordered standard fleet deployment, and was about to give command over to his first officer, when Ares appeared on the bridge. "What the..." he started to say, before realizing who it was in front of him. "Admiral, good to see you."

"Yes," Ares said, seeing the mood of the bridge. "I can see how glad you are. Anyway, I'm here to help."

"Once again, good to see you," Kleyman states again, this time looking at his bridge officers, giving them a message, Ares is to be treated with respect. Then he turned to the Olympian and added, "The Klingons spared only 11 ships to help in our defense."

"Why should the number of klingon ships be so important?"

"You don't know?" The commodore asked, clearly confused. "One of the klingon ships that attacked the Chin'toka system survived the Breen dampening weapon. Martok ordered to modify all ships to match the one who survived the attack."

"Good, at least not everything about that battle was a waste."

"Admiral, I think the best way for you to help is to boost the spirits of our men. I'm a Jew, I don't believe in you as a god; but still you saved most of the 12th fleet, a few words from you may restore our morale."

"Until there is an attack," the Olympian stated, "I'll do what you ask."

* * *

"And so, here you are Admiral." Smiled captain Trevi, when she received the GOW in her ship. "Welcome aboard the USS Harmonia."

"Thank you, captain." Replied the Olympian. "I've heard of the job you've been doing on this ship. Pretty impressive."

"I've busted my ass to get this ship ready. I wanted her to see some action." She smiled ruefully. "Now it seems she may be destroyed before leaving the shipyard, or if she manages to get to the front lines, she'll be blown to pieces in her first encounter."

"That won't happen, Angie." He told her, putting his hands on her shoulders. "I promise you, I won't let it happen."

The female captain sighed, before smiling, "I never did thank you."

"For what?"

"For getting me a first rate helmsman," she continued smiling, then she pointed to a tall man in a red uniform. "There he is, Lt. Andrews!"

"Yes sir!" Answered the man, turning and standing at attention.

"Hercules!?" Asked a very surprised war god. "What are you doing here? And wearing that... thing you're wearing?"

"As I said," Captain Trevi answered, "thanks to you, Lt. Ian K. Andrews had his commission reactivated. Under normal circumstances, any person can resign, but under extraordinary circumstances, such as a war however..."

"Yeah, thanks a lot, brother!" Sarcasm dripped from Hercules' voice. "I'm away from my wife, my children and in a conflict that might kill me if I'm not careful."

"You didn't mention the very best part, little brother." Ares said with a very big smile. "You're now under MY command, you have to follow my orders."

"I hadn't thought of that!" Groaned the demigod.

"Don't worry, little brother. I'll take good care of you."

Part III
The Delving

"I guess the only thing I can say to you, is 'thank you'." Commodore Kleyman told Commander Tavana. "If you hadn't gave us cover, the shipyard and the mining operation would have been destroyed."

"Don't mention it, commodore," the klingon female responded. "And I mean that."

"As you wish. I would, however, I would offer the assistance of the shipyard. Some of your ships have been damaged, and our medical facilities are superior to yours by far."

"That would be appreciated, sir." Tavana comments. "With the new orders I've just received, we must be in optimal shape."

"What orders?" Kleyman asked.

"I'll tell you on the shipyard."

* * *

On the much bigger conference room of the Autolycus shipyard, the meeting of the ranking officers of the sector took place.

"My orders are quite clear," explained Tavana. "I'm to take my wing to rendezvous with four others and launch an attack on the Carpat system."

"But that's insane!" Commodore Kleyman almost shouted. "Sixty-some ships wouldn't take Carpat, you'd need twice as much to have a chance."

"The orders are confirmed." Nodded the klingon female with a sigh.

"Why would Martok sacrifice his soldiers that way?" asked an intrigued war god. "He's not like that... there must be a plan, something we don't know."

"The orders didn't came from General Martok." Tavana interrupted. "Chancellor Gowron relieved him of command. Now the head of the council is calling the shots."

"Gowron is a warrior." The Olympian stated. "And a good one. Martok may be a better tactician, but Gowron is a strategist... it makes no sense."

"Maybe he thinks that a counterstrike might make the enemy more cautious?" Offered Kleyman.

"No way!" Denied the GOW. "Fighting a war on the defensive demands that no resources be wasted. I've seen it happen many times... I've planned it many times. This is something else..."

"The point is moot, however." Tavana said. "My orders are clear and I'll leave on the morrow."

"Commander," offered the Olympian Admiral. "You'll have a better chance if some of our ships were to accompany you; I'm thinking the faster vessels. The Bismarck, the Nelson, the Potemkin and the Li-Nalas."

"That would a great help, General." The klingon thanked him, using his klingon rank rather than the human one. "But your defenses would suffer greatly."

"Not that much, commander." Commented Ares. "And is really in our best interest to keep your wing safe and sound.."

"He's right," The commodore agreed. "We shouldn't risk our bigger, less maneuverable ships, but I would add the Victory of Betazed, the Star of Freedom and the Riix. I know they're only 7 ships, but they're the fastest we've got. They will be useful."

"I'll go as well!" Declared the Olympian.

* * *

Three days later, a battered attack group returned to the Tempus system. Of the sixty seven ships that went, only forty two returned and thirteen of them are in no condition to be any help to anyone soon.

"Captain Andreas, calling Shipyard Autolycus."

"Victor," Kleyman answered. "How did it went?"

"A lot better than it should have, had Ares not been there." The captain of the Bismarck answered. "He gave us cover, restored the klingons shields time and again... he even destroyed six ships on his own, but we were outnumbered FIVE to one, and that blasted element of surprise that Gowron was counting on is a myth. They were ready!"

"We're lucky to have so many parts to repair the klingon ships, then." Sighed Kleyman. "To be perfectly honest, if the Breen choose to attack now, we're fucked. I need to speak with the Admiral ASAP."

"All you had to do was ask." Ares mentioned in a conversational tone while blinking in the commodore's office.

"I'll talk to you later," the human addressed the screen, "Please tell the klingons that our medical and technical facilities are at their disposal. Kleyman out." After closing the channel, he turned to the Olympian and asked in an almost desperate tone, "What in bloody Hell is Gowron thinking? These last few days I've gotten reports of what his orders have come to one defeat after another!"

"I know," sighed Ares. "I can't understand it either. It's as if he's trying his best to lose or something."

"You're supposed to be his god, can't you order him to stop?"

"It's not that easy," replied the Admiral. "Gowron is a warrior, yes, but he's also a politician. In plain standard, that means if he's not giving away a medal, he's looking for a way to take it and pin it in his own chest. He pledged his soul to me to gain the support of my followers a year ago. Now, he doesn't reject me, but he knows he can get away with it, with my power on the Empire so diminished."

"Are you saying you don't confront him because you might lose some followers if you do?" Kleyman asked, going to the root of the problem.

"What do you want me to do?" Ares countered. "Kill him? If I do, the council will go into civil war to decide who'll be the next chancellor. That won't benefit anyone."

"Are you planning to do anything? Anything at all?"

"Yes I am." Growled the Olympian Admiral. "I'll go to talk to Gowron in a few days."

"Why not now?"

"Because," Explained the GOW in a tired voice, "I want to talk with General Martok first, he was gravelly wounded in a battle a few days ago. I need to know what is going on before calling the charge. Planning and preparation is what will make me succeed in this confrontation."

* * *

Appearing in Deep Space Nine a few days later, the Olympian began looking for the general while remaining invisible to mortal eyes. Eavesdropping in a few conversations, he found that the chancellor is conduction a war council in the office that used to be Martok's.

Popping inside, he heard Worf angry statement, "You rule without wisdom, and without honor, you're no longer fit to lead the council."

The chancellor growled his defiance, before replying, "There can be only one answer to that!" He then threw his robe to the desk. As the chancellor and the klingon in Starfleet walked to take their weapons, Martok said, "Worf, don't do this!"

"STOP!" Ares yelled, using his god voice and becoming visible. "An enemy is knocking at the empire's gates and you're fighting amongst yourselves?"

"The HUMAN war god has returned!" Sneered the chancellor. "What right do you have to interrupt a warrior's challenge? Maybe you've come to stop me from killing this human, disguised as a klingon."

"That locket that you and Worf still wear gives me the right!" Exclaimed the Olympian.

"War god," breathed the Starfleet officer. "This P'tak has dishonored himself, sacrificing the lives of his soldiers to further his political ambitions."

"Is that true?" Ares asked.

"I do NOT have to answer either of you!" The chancellor almost shouted.

"Then," Ares announced. "You'll answer to a higher judge. Yourself!" He extended his hands and a small ball of light formed in each one, then the light spheres flew, one hitting Worf and the other Gowron. Both klingons froze, their eyes became unfocused and their weapons fell from their hands.

"What did you do to them?" Asked Martok, fearing that Ares' solution would be to kill them both.

"The Delving." Answered the GOW. "Is a technique that was used by the goddess of justice in ancient times, when a conflict had to be avoided. Before you ask, it is similar to an orb experience, only much, much intense. It sifts thru the mind, turning over the very slit and dregs of the soul - all that is unworthy or petty, all the faults of pride and temper and stubbornness are revealed. All the things that had been denied or kept safely hidden from the self are churned up."

"That...!" Exclaims one of the generals, "that is horrible!"

"It is," agrees the GOW. "That's why it was only used a few times in ancient times. The last one was to determine who'd lead the Greek armies against the Persian legions of Xerxes. A man named Leonidas was chosen." Just then, Worf let out a blood curling scream and fell to his knees. "Confronting oneself isn't pleasant." Added the Olympian. "But that's the best path to archive wisdom; and that's why so few every attain it."

Gowron then screamed as well, and collapsed, hitting the floor with a thud. "The chancellor didn't do as well as Worf." Ares said kneeling beside both of them. "The Delving wasn't finished, but it was all Gowron could stand."

"Will they... survive?" Inquired Martok, worried still.

"Yes they will!" Affirmed Ares, before sighing. "If circumstances were different, I'd just let them snap out of it naturally; but the enemy won't wait for days, I'm going to have to wake them, forcefully." Putting his hands on each of their foreheads, he concentrated a minute before both klingons sat up, just as if they were waking from a nightmare. They were hyperventilating and had a wild look in their eyes. "Control yourselves!" Ares ordered them firmly.

"Ares?" Worf asked. "Is that you?"

"I've... acquired klingon features!" Whispered the war god, touching his own forehead and mouth. Closing his eyes to focus, he was showered in golden sparks, when they faded, his features were the usual kind. "My close contact with your minds must have altered my perception of myself."

"I've dishonored myself." Growled Worf, remembering his Delving.

"NO, son of Mogh!" Denied Gowron. "It is I who have brought dishonor to my person and to the empire."

"Recognizing your mistakes and desiring never again repeat them, is the way to archive greatness." The GOW explained. "In each of you exist good, honor, honesty and courage. If you can exalt the good and keep the bad in check, you'll indeed become great."

"I'm resigning my position as chancellor," Gowron stated, before the surprising looks of everyone except Ares and Worf. "Anyone can do a better job leading the empire than me. Martok, if there is a place in your heart to help a fallen brother, could you help me with the Mauk-to'Vor ritual? (*)

"There won't be any suicide rituals!" Snapped the Olympian. "Not when there are enemies all around us. You want to pay for your mistakes, Gowron? Then live!"

"Who will lead the council?" Demanded one of the generals, more concerned with practical matters than philosophical issues.

"There is only one who can do it." Worf told them.

"Who, starfleet?" the same general questioned. "You? Or maybe that alien?"

"Neither," denied Gowron, who knew who was Worf thinking of. "Only Martok can take us to victory."

"NO!" shouted the general, horrified of what he just heard. "I don't seek power. I'm a simple soldier, with no drop of noble blood in my veins."

"You're the only choice," the officer of starfleet said, addressing the general's conclave.

"We agree," the generals said at unison, then the one who had asked who should rule the empire, took the chancellor's robes and set them on Martok, saying: "Hail Martok, leader of the empire. Leader of destiny."

"No," he shakes his head and tries to take off the ceremonial robes, when Ares added, "Your great warrior Khaless once said, 'Great men don't seek power, they have power entrusted into them.' Use your authority wisely, listen to your heart as well as your mind, and you'll do fine."

Martok then nodded, pulling on the symbol of authority, then he pulled out his locket and added, "I'll do my best, my god."


Chapter Twenty six
The beginning of the end

"And you're sure this will work?" A worried Ares asked Chief O'Brien. "I really don't want to have to rescue the entire strike force."

"It will work, admiral." Miles answered. "The principle behind the Breen dampening weapon is pretty simple, the countermeasure has been tested. We're as ready as we'll ever be."

"Good, good." The GOW said happily. "Our multi-imperial fleet will cut across the enemy's defense and strike at their heart."

"I really don't share your enthusiasm, sir." O'Brien replied. "The Breen, the Cardassians and the Jem'Hadar together make a wonderful opponent, and they'll chose where the battle will be."

"Yes, they'll have that advantage, but we have something they cannot counter: Me. We will win."

"I truly hope so." Sighed the chief. "I'd certainly feel better if Damar's movement hadn't been destroyed. I hope Kira made it out."

"The commander is a survivor," commented the Olympian. "If anyone could get out of the trap, it'd be her. Chief, on another matter, I'm... upset with you. You didn't inform me of your plan to lure someone from Section 31 to the station."

"Hum, well, sir... you see, we, err, Dr. Bashir and I decided it was better not to tip our hand to Section 31. We were certain that if more people knew, our plan wouldn't work."

"Well, the important thing," said Ares, "is that you managed to get the cure. Odo has always been loyal to our side, and losing him to the illness would be the greatest of injustices."

"All hands, report to respective ships." Announced the intercom. "Strike force will leave in thirty minutes. Repeating, all hands, report to respective ships. "Strike force will leave in thirty minutes."

"You'd better go to the Defiant." The Olympian told Miles. "I have to board the Ares."

"You know," the human commented, while walking toward the air lock. "I've always wondered you chose that ship as your command center. I'd have thought you'd demand a Sovereign Class Ship at least.

"What can I say, I'm a sentimental."

* * *

En route to the engagement, Ares was talking about the possible deployment of the fleet once the battle began, when the Olympian felt very faint. "What is the matter, my god?" Andoni asked worriedly.

"I don't know," answered a very confused war god. "I felt like millions of souls suddenly just extinguished. I felt something akin in 1945, but this was hundreds of times stronger, and it was in... Cardassia?"

"That doesn't make any sense," replied the captain. "Cardassia is safe from us and if Damar survived, he'd never attack his own people."

"But the Jem'Hadar might." Mutters Ares. "I really hope this was an accident, maybe the development of a new weapon, I'd hate to think it was deliberate."

* * *

"Second romulan wing, concentrate on the coming Jem'Hadar fighters." Admiral Ross was ordering over the intercom, then he switched to personal communications. "Ares, can you give them some cover?"

"I'll reinforce their shields," Answered the Olympian, then he went on his own intercom. "12th fleet, stay together and strike at the Breen forces on grid 0734. Ares to captain Zahn of the Li Nalas, there is a wing of klingon ships being ambushed by Jem'Hadar forces, take the Nelson and the Bismarck and give them cover."

"Acknowledged," replied the bajoran captain. "Attack groups 33 and 36, come with us."

"Sir!" Exclaimed ensign Farris at tactical. "Admiral Ross is ordering the Defiant to try and turn the enemy's left flank."

"That's too heavily fortified," commented Simon, after looking at the tactical display. "They'll never make it."

"Exactly what captain Sisko answered," Farris continued. "He said he'll try to hit the center. Oh, and the Romulan Flagship has been destroyed."

"Damn it!" Growled the war god. "I should have been paying more attention." Then he walked to tactical, to get a better look of what was the situation. Once he realized, he opened a channel to the Romulan fleet. "This is commodore Ares, I'm taking command of all forces, concentrate your forces on the... what the fuck? The cardassians are hitting the other Dominion ships!"

"They've switched sides?" Asked Simon with confusion.

"Apparently," whispered Ares, his mind quickly assessing new possibilities. "Romulan Fleet, target the Breen ships on the center of the line, then move your way starboard. Commodore Regnol of the Iron Claw is in command." Switching his comm to address Starfleet forces, he added, "12th fleet, follow the romulans and when they move starboard, we'll turn port."

"Captain Sisko and his attack force are joining us," Farris informed. "But they're bringing company."

"Mr. Watters," Captain Andoni ordered. "Divert our course to intercept, we'll shake the bandits from them, have the Union, the Djinni, the Ulysses, the Lancelot and the Goya to follow us."

"Ships are acknowledging," Watters informed.

"Photon torpedoes and phaser banks fully charged," added Cruzeiro.

"Fire as soon as you acquire target." Ordered Andoni.

"We're getting a message from Legate Uniek," Lieutenant Anaya reported. On the screen, a cardassian appeared, a little winded saying, "Cardassian Fleet commander calling the head of the invading forces, two of our attack flotillas are under heavy fire, we need relief."

"We're otherwise engaged," Ares said. "Who can we send?"

"Admiral Nechayev has already dispatched 15 ships from the 2nd fleet," Ensign Farris reported. "Commodore Regnol expended 12 Warbirds and Chancellor Martok 17. The Mo'Tak is in command of the relief effort."

"That's Gowron ship!" exclaimed the Olympian. "I won't let him lose it in the heat of the battle, open a channel to the Mo'Tak." Once his orders were carried out, he added, "Gowron, I just want to remind you that you haven't repaid all your debts, lead your warriors to victory and your debit will be reduced."

"What was that all about?" Asked Andoni after Ares closed the channel.

"Gowron wanted to die," the Admiral responded quietly, not wanting the matter to become public. "He felt dishonored and he thought dead was his only way out. I prohibited it."

"We might have just won the battle!" Exclaimed an excited Commander Cruzeiro. "Breen and Jem'Hadar forces are withdrawing."

"Open a channel to Martok, Ross and Regnol." On the screen appeared the three, alongside Captain Sisko. "As I predicted," the klingon said, "the day is ours."

"Not yet," added the human captain. "We should pursue them all the way to Cardassia."

"Ben, we lost a third of our fleet," commented Ross. "By forcing them to stay in Cardassia Prime we can keep them bottled indefinitely."

"I concur with the Admiral," Regnol offered. "We should establish a perimeter and encroach them until the choke."

"What if they use this time to rebuilt their fleet?" Demanded Sisko. "We must continue. Besides, I doubt our new cardassian allies would appreciate if we stopped now."

"The captain is right," Ares spoke. "We have the advantage, and must press on, otherwise, all that fell today have died in vain." Ross agreed, and after a second, Regnol nodded, adding, "There are many escape pods, a world of wounded and ships that can't continue. We should wait here until we regroup, and then go forward."

"Always cautious, the romulans." Complained Martok.

"But he's right," interrupted Ares. "Pick up the survivors, transfer the wounded to the ships that can't go to warp, every healthy man should be at a post. We leave in one hour."

All agree and the screen went blank. "We also lost many ships," Simon informed the admiral, holding a PADD. "14 vessels destroyed and 5 more can't continue."

Taking the PADD Simon was holding, Ares read, 'Ithica, Osiris, Churchill, DeGaulle, Cossack, Samar, Dauntless, Ptolomei, Ramses, Mithridates, Dakshin, Columbus, Dumas and Russeau destroyed. Valkyrie, Cleopatra, Santa Maria, Verone and Cassandra incapacitated. "Get to work," he said. "Every minute we stay here, is one more minute the Dominion has to increase their defenses."

"Excuse me, sir." Farris reported. "A group of ships are closing in at high warp, they have Federation warp signature and they're hailing."

"Admiral Jellico to invading fleet." Edward's face appeared on the screen. "Sorry to be late, but I brought a few friends to compensate my tardiness. I just hope the Olympia class ships don't shake down during their shakedown."

"That's a horrible pun!" Exclaimed Ares. "Still, it'll be good to see the new ships in action."

* * *

"We're ready to go." The war god informed his fellow admirals, Ross, Nechayev and Jellico. "I've a feeling something very bad is happening."

"Alynna, you have seniority," Ross said. "Do you want to give the order to go?"

Before the female can answer, Ares gasped, "No! It's not possible."

"Do you have a problem with women in positions of power?" asked Nechayev.

"The Dominion. They are destroying Cardassia!" Whispers a GOW, nearly out of breath. "Civilians, women, children, all... Genocide!"

"We should continue then," Jellico was the first to recover from the news. "The longer we stay here, the longer the Dominion has to destroy the planet."

"There is no time to waste traveling there!" Exclaimed Ares. "Inform all the invading fleet that I'll be performing a massive teleport to the battle site. Do not be disoriented, the enemy will be just as surprised to see us, and we must use that."

"Fleet is acknowledging." Informed Simon very seriously. "The ships that can't go on have separated."

"Then, by Olympus, let's finish this!"


Chapter Twenty seven
Walking the edge

"Good heavens!" Exclaimed Lt. Anaya as soon as he saw all the hardware surrounding Cardassia Prime. "How are we going to pass thru that!"

"Admiral Ross wants to speak with you, sir." Farris informed the admiral.

"On screen."

"Ares, Captain Andoni." Saluted Ross from the screen, also there was Nechayev, Jellico, Regnol, Uniek and Sisko. "We'll launch a three pronged attack. The klingons will strike at the Breen; the romulans and cardassians will target the Jem'Hadar and all Federation vessels will hit the weapon platforms."

"WAIT!" Screamed Ares, opening a channel to all ships. "Starfleet should go against the Jem'Hadar as well, but wait a few minutes, I'll let you know when the attack should begin."

"Why wait?" demanded angrily Legate Uniek. "Every minute here means thousands or cardassians more dying! And that is according to your OWN information!"

"The problem with having unmanned platforms," Ares explained, not really answering. "is that they'll hit whatever they're programmed to hit. There!"

"The orbital weapon platforms are activating," Ensign Farris informed the crew. "They're targeting the Breen and the Jem'Hadar!"

"They're attacking anything with impulse engines in range," The Olympian told over the intercom to the attacking forces. "That's why we must keep our distance, at least until all the platforms are disabled or destroyed. Does the destruction of all those enemy vessels would be reason enough to wait Legate?"

"Err, yes Admiral Ares," the cardassian answered. "It does."

"This is brilliant my god," Said Andoni very excited. "Not only are our enemies taking down their own defense system, they're also losing their ships while doing it."

"Enjoy it while it last," replied the Olympian. "The enemy is about to cut power to their defense grid. All the fleet, be ready to move in on my mark. Mark!" Over 3000 ships engaged engines and ran to face the enemy. Communications went back and forth, requesting help and giving it.

Without any place to retreat, the Breen and the Jem'Hadar fought out of desperation, not caring about dying, just wanting to take as many of their enemies with them. Even so, they had lost and they knew it. Their 'kamikaze' attacks ended in destruction before getting to their targets more often than not. Admiral Jellico's ship, the Prometheus(*), had a very successful manned debut, but it was the Olympia class ships, with their enhanced shields, weapon system and armored hull, who went ripping across the Breen lines as if they weren't there.

"I better go to the Harmonia," Ares told Andoni when he saw the tactical mess Captain Trevi had gotten herself into. "The pounding she's taking will rip her apart."

With a snap of his fingers, the GOW transports himself to Angeles' bridge, her tactical officer is saying, "Shield integrity down to 15% sir, we must withdraw!"

"Keep going after that battleship!" Ordered Trevi. "We're hurt, but so is she, and I'll be damned if I let her go!"

"Captain," Hercules said at the helm without turning. "You're being irrational. I can't dodge all those torpedoes forever. Sooner, rather than later, one of them is going to crush us."

"Well said brother," Ares told the crew. "But this ship is too far behind the enemy perimeter to just retreat safely. Captain, may I suggest changing course and entering the atmosphere? The ionosphere will mask our pass, and when we come out, we'll be where our opponents don't expect us."

"Very well, change course," the captain ordered after a moment. "Lt. Taffish, I want you to keep track on that battleship. If we can, we'll emerge close to her and finish her off."

"Aye, aye, sir." Both Hercules and Taffish said at the same time. When the ship began to shake, Herc said, "Some turbulence, but nothing we can't handle. It seems as your plan worked brother, nobody is following us."

"Engineering to the bridge," a voice came over the intercom. "If you can give me a few minutes without somebody trying to blow us to bits, I'll replace a few parts and give you shields at over 60% and full impulse power."

"Do it," ordered Trevi, closing the communication. "The wonders of your design Admiral. The fully modular Olympia class ship, where almost any part is replaced in the blink of an eye."

"Shields up to 63%," reported Taffish after a few minutes. "I'm relying the extrapolated coordinates of the battleship to the helm."

"Got them!" Said the demigod. "Course laid in."

"Engage!" Ordered Angeles. They cleared the atmosphere, getting back to the battle site. "Enemy battleship located, she's still in very bad condition."

"Go after her, Mr. Andrews." Ordered the captain. "And as soon as she's destroyed, plot a course out of here, we've done our share and need some breathing room before continuing."

"Aye sir."

"Weapons locked, firing quantum torpedoes." Said Lt. Taffish at tactical. Twelve dots shone on the screen, hitting the battleship and ripping her to shreds. "Oh yes!" Exclaimed Trevi. "Now get us out of here." As soon as they put some distance between them and the combat site, a message for Ares came thru. "Ares," said Admiral Ross. "I've been trying to locate you. The founder is ready to order the surrender, but she wants to talk to you first."

"She does, does she?" inquired the war god. "Very well, I'll meet her." Then he snapped his fingers and disappeared in a shower of sparks.


Chapter Twenty eight
One is a god, the other is not

In the command center of Cardassia, Garak, Kira, Odo and the founder, this last one with some surprise, regarded the war god materialize in a shower of sparks.

"Admiral Ares," Odo began the introductions. "This is the founder."

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you," she said, extending her hand.

"Can't say the same," replied the GOW, without making any move to take the proffered hand. He looked around for a second, nodding to Garak and Kira before adding, "Why did you want to talk to me?"

"You've a lot of power and influence in the Federation, the Klingon and the Romulan empires," explained the changeling. "And I got the impression from Odo that you're also an honorable being. Before I order my troops to surrender, I want your word, I want you to promise me you won't allow an incursion into the Gamma Quadrant."

"You want my word?" Ares asked smiling. "Well, here is my word: I will not let the cure reach the great link, I will spend the next years rebuilding my forces and when I cross the wormhole, I will crush whatever remains of your Dominion!"

"You can't do that!" Shouted Kira.

"That would be genocide!" Screamed Odo at the same time.

"Yes I can. Yes it would." Ares told them very calmly. "The problem with having a race that has no problem committing genocide, is that sooner or later, they will find the same fate."

"And what about me?" The constable asked. "Will you kill me too?"

"I won't order my troops to surrender!" Stated firmly the changeling. "We'll see how long it takes you to recover after the massacre of today!"

"You've already ordered the surrender." The war god chuckled, pointing at a monitor and turning it on. There, the image of the founder gave the order to all loyal forces of the Dominion to lay down their weapons and surrender.

"That is not possible!" Exclaimed the female shapeshifter.

"Who do you think you're talking with?" Ares yelled. "I can do that, just as I can pass down judgment on your race, and I find it lacking. For that and all the crimes that you have committed on both the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants, I sentence you to death. And as for you Odo," he added turning to face the constable. "Tell me that I would find ten, no five changelings in all the great link who wouldn't approve what SHE did to Cardassia!" When Odo was unable to answer, Ares finished, "They would approve... and for that, all your race will pay!"

"NO!" Screamed a voice full of pain. If that voice had been Odo's, Kira's or the founder's, the Olympian would just ignore it, but this was, "Garak?" Ares asked confused. "You don't want the Dominion to be punished for what they've done? They killed more Cardassians in the last few hours than Bajorans were killed in 50 years of occupation."

"I know," the spy/tailor answered. "But I also know that somewhere, it has to stop. All the vengeance extracted won't bring back any of the dead. An hour ago, I said revenge was all I had left to fight for, but I can avenge the dead of struggle for the living. Given those choices, I'd rather care for the living."

"You hear that?" Odo asked the founder. "This solid, whom you ordered his race destroyed, is advocating for our own race."

"I was about to swear by Styx to destroy the Dominion. Now... I don't know, Garak may be right, sometimes, it just has to stop. I'm willing to lay down terms of surrender founder. They won't be easy to meet, but since the alternative is annihilation, you should find them very reasonable."

"Can you speak for the Federation alliance?" The changeling asked.

"No," answered the Olympian. "But I can assure you the Romulans and the Klingons won't accept your surrender unless I approve."

"What are the terms?"

"First, your de-divinization. The Vorta and the Jem'Hadar will have to acknowledge that you aren't deities. I've heard the Dominion is held together by fear and force. I want it to be changed into a more cooperative, less destructive government."

"Second, I'll modify the DNA of the Jem'Hadar, so that they're no longer slaves of the Ketracel White."

"You can't do that!" Exclaimed the female shapeshifter. "Without the Jem'Hadar controlled by the white, our Dominion would collapse."

"I doubt it," the war god commented. "But in any case, you had a race enslaved for thousands of years, don't you think is time to cut them loose? And by modifying their genetic structure, I will create females, give them a reproductive system, and slow their fast aging growth. That will slow down their fighting impulses. Slow them, but not destroy them, they can still be a fabulous fighting force, if you treat them right."

"This will end destroying the Gamma Quadrant." Whispered the female founder. "Is there anything else?"

"Just money," Answered Ares. "War damages will be high."

"A lot of money," added Garak. "The entire infrastructure of Cardassia has been destroyed, and who knows how long it will take the planet to recover from the orbital bombardment."

"I may restore Cardassia's atmosphere," the Olympian stated. "But the rest must come from the Dominion."

"Money, that you will get," the founder said. "But in exchange, I want to talk with you in private Ares."

"Admiral Jellico to Admiral Ares," came a voice over the intercom. "The Jem'Hadar and the Breen have laid down their arms, we're ready to take the founder into custody."

"Acknowledged, Edward." Replied the Olympian. "I will take her in myself. Allow her to retain her dignity." Then he pressed his badge again, saying, "Admiral Ares to Captain Andoni."

"Andoni here." Simon responded over the comm.

"Have a security team ready on transporter room one, then beam me and the founder aboard."

"As you command, sir."

"Mr. Garak," the war god told the spy. "This planet has been ravaged, whoever leads now will need certain qualifications, war hero, someone who always opposed the Dominion and having strong ties to the Federation and the other forces of the Alpha Quadrant wouldn't hurt. Do you know anyone who fits that bill?"

"I'm not a leader, Admiral." Garak answered. "I'm a traitor by cardassian standards. I was exiled, I betrayed everyone... the people wouldn't follow me."

"I think they would." Odo offered.

"As do I," added Kira. "When the occupation ended, we would have followed Li Nalas wherever he led. You were Damar's second, with him missing, the people could easily turn to you for leadership."

"Particularly," smiled the GOW evilly. "If you're responsible for the restoration of the atmosphere, air, soil and water."

"You said you'd do it!" exclaimed the cardassian.

"Only if you ask, Mr. Garak. Only if you ask."

"Admiral Ares," called Simon. "We're ready."

"Acknowledged, last chance, Mr. Garak." When the spy remained silent, he added. "As you wish, ready captain, two to beam aboard."

"Wait! I'm asking!" Exclaimed Garak. "Please Ares, restore my world."

"I began the process minutes ago," smiled again the Olympian. "It'll take your world days, maybe weeks to be whole, but it will happen. I did this to force you to accept your responsibility... you have it in yourself to be a great leader of your people. Do you want to join the surrender negotiation, leader of Cardassia?"

"I guess I don't have much of a choice."

"Commander, Constable, will you join us on the USS Ares?" Questioned the war god.

"No, we'll take the Defiant."

"Ok, captain," Ares touched his badge again. "Make that three to beam up."

* * *

"The war between the Dominion and the Federation Alliance is now over." Stated the Founder after signing the surrender.

"Four hundred years ago," began Admiral Ross. "A victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war: 'Today the guns are silent, a great tragedy has ended; we have known the bitterness of defeat and the exaltation of triumph. And from both we have learned. There can be no going back. We must move forward, to preserve in peace, what we've won in war,'"

The Founder began to move and her escort moved along with her until she stood facing Odo, telling him, "Is up to you now, Odo." As she exited to go to her cell, Ares joined the group and told the guards, "I'll escort her, you're relieved."

After the security officers left, he said, "You wanted to talk to me, about what?"

"When I first met you," she replied. "I knew I had felt something similar before, and I wanted to ask you about it, but now I've remembered."

"You met another Olympian? When? How? Is he or she still alive?"

"I don't know, it wasn't exactly like you." She responded, really overwhelmed by the intensity that the war god put in his questioning. "And I never met him, for it was thousands of years ago. The memory of it, however, still remains in the great link after the one who shared it passed away... and this was a very long time ago."

"Tell me what you remember."

"This story has a lot to do with the founding of the Dominion. We changelings explored the space around us, very similar to what humans do now, and we changed form to survive in space and to communicate with whatever solids we met. We experimented and then returned to the great link to share what the explorer learned. For centuries, we visited thousands of worlds, always expanding our knowledge, and the solids never realized we were there."

"The Federation does the same thing sometimes." Injected the GOW.

"Yes, well, one day, everything changed. In every world we visited we were persecuted, hunted, hurt. Worlds that shouldn't have, suddenly developed technology to locate us, and stories of evil deeds committed by us began to circulate and phobia against us grew overnight.

"That's when we met him, he was almost like a Vorta, but smarter, way smarter, and he had an aura like yours. He crashed into our planet and was badly hurt. Had he been anything but a Vorta, we would have killed him at once. Some of us even tried, but he refused to die. He wasn't a solid, but he wasn't a shapeshifter either.

"He told us he came from the future, and had come to help us found an empire, one that would last forever and would spread order in the chaos that was the galaxy."

"You mean the idea of building the Dominion came from this stranger?" Ares asked startled.

"Not only the idea," answered the changeling. "He also showed us how to do it. He took some of us to another planet, where there was technology we couldn't understand, in fact, we never understood it. But in those chambers, the first Jem'Hadar were created alongside the first cases of Ketracel White.

"The idea of having a slave race of solids that would fight for us was appealing, so we produced thousands upon thousands of Jem'Hadar, and when the legions were ready, the expansion began."

"and all of this was 10,000 years ago?"

"No, more like 2,600."

"Your history claims the Dominions was founded a hundred centuries ago." Ares said.

"We found that solids like nice round numbers," she explained. "It's harder for them to seek change if they perceive their current state is the will of god, and has been that way forever."

"What happened to the stranger?" Demanded the Olympian.

"We never knew, one day, after a century, when the conquest was well on its way, he just vanished and the machinery he showed us stopped working. By that time, we had learned how to build genetic factories that we understood, and our expansion didn't stop until distances were too long and conquering anything else was impractical."

"It didn't stop working," Ares muttered. "It never did... this person, whoever he was, created the first Jem'Hadar with his will, and the dates coincide with the time of the exile. It might have been one of my brothers. Thank you for this information."

As he exited the brig, he rubbed his face before tapping his badge. "Admiral Ares calling counselor Dax."

"Dax here."

"I need to talk to you counselor, where are you?"

"Can this wait?" she asked over the comm. "I'm on my way to the end of the war party."

"No it can't. Where are you?"

He heard Ezri sigh before she answered, "On my quarters, you may come, but thru the door and chime first."

A few minutes later, the door to Dax's quarters chimed and she said, "Enter. What seems to be the problem admiral?" Ares related the complete story that the founder had told him, she was silent for a few seconds before asking, "And you fear it was one of your family who did it?"

"Not really," the Olympian answered. "It'd be completely out of character for any of them to let a race of mortals pretend to be gods. No, what I fear is that it was me, that I will do it, will have to do it."

"I'm afraid I don't follow."

"Predestination Paradox." He explained. "Someone with god power founded the dominion, someone with a power signature similar to mine and that someone couldn't be anyone I know. That leaves me. Since I didn't do it yet, it must be something that I'll do in the future."

"I'm not very good at quantum physics. Even Jadzia's science classes were in other aspects, but I think you're jumping to conclusions. There is no evidence that it wasn't other being, like Q, or like the one who was trapped in the center of the galaxy. Or any of the beings that we've encountered or have yet to encounter." When Ares didn't seem convinced, she added, "I have a prescription for you, come to the party. Relax, drink a little, have fun and we'll talk about it tomorrow."

"You're right," he agreed. "I might be jumping to conclusions, but I'm not really in the mood for a party. I'll go rest and we'll talk tomorrow.

* * *

Sleeping alone is not something the war god does normally, but with the disturbing news, he preferred to stay in his quarters by himself on the station, to think.

Hours later, the intercom beeped, and Kira said, "Admiral Ares, could you please report to the briefing room?"

"Of course, colonel." He replied touching the badge. "I'm on my way.". "But what about that land he bought on the Keandra Province?" The Admiral heard Jake Sisko asking as he entered, in the room were Kira, Jake Sisko, Cassidy Yates, Odo, Worf, Jadzia, Dr. Bashir, Chief O'Brien and Ezri Dax.

"Another sensor sweep has been done over the planet," answered Odo. "As far as we can tell, your father isn't in Bajor."

"What's the matter?" Ares asked.

"Admiral, my father is missing."

"Missing? How?"

"We don't know," Cassidy Yates responded. "Jake suggested you could help us find him."

"Very well," the Olympian said with a sigh and extended his senses to locate the lost captain. "I can't find him." He stated surprised after a minute. "I searched the entire area, even on the other side of the wormhole... is as he just vanished."

"No he didn't" Sobbed Cassidy with tears in her eyes. "I just spoke with him, he's with the prophets. He said he'd be back."

"Then maybe the prophets can..." began Odo when a klaxon blared and the intercom said, "Yellow alert, Colonel Kira, report to command center. Repeat this is a yellow alert, Colonel Kira, report to command center."

"I'm on my way," Kira said tapping her badge.

"We'd better come with you," Worf offered nodding to everyone except Cassidy and Jake. "You might need us."

As they exited the turbolift, the colonel demanded, "Report."

"There is a missile coming towards us," answered a bajoran officer. "It was shot from Bajor and will reach us in less than a minute."

"Composition?" Kira asked Jadzia and O'Brien who had taken their stations.

"Unknown," the science officer replied. "Our sensor have never seen anything like this."

"I can tell you one thing," added Miles. "It doesn't have any propulsion system. I don't understand how its moving."

"Can we detonate it with a torpedo Mr. Worf?" Kira asked, searching for options.

"I can't get a lock," the klingon said. "But our shields are up and will be strong enough to stop it."

"I wouldn't be so sure, Worf." Muttered Ares to himself, a horrible suspicion beginning to form in his mind.

"Impact in ten seconds," the trill science officer reported. "Five, four, three, two, one, impact! What? It passed thru our shields like they weren't there!"

"Whatever it is, it slowed." O'Brien told everyone. "It has changed its trajectory and is coming right to... us!"

A ball of red flame entered without harming the hull and posed itself in front of the war god. A chilling voice came from the fire saying, "What is the matter Ares? Have you nothing to say to the one you knelt in front of?"

"Dahak!" Ares whispered, beginning to tremble.


Chapter Twenty nine
The Puppet Master

"Yes Ares. You didn't really think you've seen the last of me, did you?" Asked the demon, taking human form, a young red haired human. "Did you really imagined you and your brother had destroyed me?"

"I hoped we had," Ares whispered. "Everyone, get out of here! NOW! That's an order!"

"You always liked giving orders," smiled evilly the demon while the crew evacuated the control center. "Since you're going to die very soon, I'll allow you to give a few orders to these insignificant ants."

"How...?" the war god began only to find himself interrupted by Dahak. "Am I alive? Neither you nor your brother killed me nor vanquished me. Hercules just stopped me from taking humans as servants. But with so many races in the universe, why would I need them for? I spend all this centuries planning, making allies and slowly consuming them. A few plans still could use more time, but now that my only real allies, the Pah-wraiths are locked forever, I will harvest all that I've sown and all the galaxy will be mine!"

"I am thousands of times stronger than I was!" Exclaimed the Olympian. "You won't find me easy prey for slaughter."

The laugh that came from the demon was enough to freeze the bravest heart. "You're an idiot Ares! You always were. All my long term plans are coming to fruition, and you think you can stop me? Who do you think fomented the prosecution against the changelings? Who do you think gave them the idea of creating the Dominion? Who do you think gave them the Jem'Hadar? ME!

"Fifteen centuries ago, who do you think gave a race the idea that a collective could be a better way to archive perfection? Who do you think created the Borg? ME! All those plans I made and kept controlled. I precipitated the fall of the spiritual government of Cardassia and the rise of the military to power. I executed the occupation of Bajor and all the massacres that happened here, for the sole purpose that the wormhole could be discovered and the Dominion could come into the Alpha Quadrant.

"I whispered in Picard's ear during the Borg attack, so that he could win the battle, for the time of Earth destruction hadn't come yet. I created Section 31, in the late 22nd century, and gave them the morphogenic virus to destroy the great link. Just as I caused the crash of a small Borg vessel that the Enterprise found. I really expected them to infect it with a virus, but they infected it with something much, much worse: Individuality. AH," he sighed with a soul freezing smile. "The chaos that caused was exquisite!"

"That's what you wanted," said the Admiral. "Chaos."

"Of course I did," the red headed demon nodded. "That is what I feed on. Can you imagine more chaos than caused by a war? All the Alpha Quadrant got involved. In the Gamma Quadrant, the Founders are dying and the Vorta are already beginning to maneuver for advantage. Skirmishes have already begun alongside independent movements of the oppressed planets!

"And even better, in the Delta Quadrant, I muttered a few words in the ear of the Borg Queen, and she went to war with a species of another universe, fluidic space. Billions of Borg died in weeks... HA! All the logical order in their perfect collective fell to chaos."

"And that's your recipe for destruction," Ares commented to himself. "Create perfect order, then make a disturbance that becomes a major event."

"You're not that stupid after all," Dahak grinned evilly. "Get yourself ready 'champion', for tomorrow, the reckoning comes." Then he disappeared with a burst of flame.


Chapter Thirty
The Reckoning

Part I

The moment Hercules felt the evil presence of Dahak, he ran to meet him. His sense of direction took him to the turbolift that led him to the command center. He met Worf and the others, the klingon stopped him saying, "Ares ordered us out, he wouldn't appreciate the intrusion."

"You don't understand what he's facing, commander." Replied the demigod. "I have to go and try to help him."

"I can't let you pass lieutenant." Worf said, putting himself in front of the brother of Ares.

"Watch me." Herc said, not stopping.

Worf, Bashir and Kira, alongside some security officers tried to stop him, but in the end, everyone who stood up to him ended unconscious in the floor, and the son of Zeus entered the turbolift to exit on the command level. Ares heard the lift and turned, pulling his sword as a reflex, but when he saw who it was, he put it down, saying, "He was here! Dahak!"

"I know," Hercules agreed. "I felt him too."

"He's thousands of times stronger than before. He's a lot stronger than me, us. He's going to take over the galaxy."

"When we beat him in the past," Herc said. "He was also stronger than us back then."

Ares struggled with himself and managed to regain control of his emotions before adding, "This is no time to lose my head, I have to plan something, Dahak said tomorrow is the Reckoning, the day when he'll kill me. He even called me champion."

"The Reckoning?" The demigod asked. "That's a Bajoran prophesy, 'The evil one will fight the champion at the gates of the celestial temple', or something like that."

"And how does that prophesy ends?" the GOW questioned. "'The champion is beheaded by the evil one'?"

"This is no time to think you've already lost!" Exclaimed Herc. "And the prophesy didn't had an end."

"You're right my brother, I should ask Kira what she knows about this 'Reckoning'."

"Hum, I left her unconscious in the floor below."

"Still thinking with your fists," smiled the war god. "Come, I'll heal her and you'll apologize."

When they exited the lift, Worf, been made of harder stuff than the rest, was slowly getting up, but Ares touched him with his hand to stop him from rising saying, "Take it easy commander, you have a nasty wound in the head."

"That lieutenant," the klingon began. "He hit me, hard."

"That's because you have a very strong body." Smiled the GOW. "You should feel flattered, he hit you with the strength reserved for me. That's how Hercules shows his affection."

"Hercules?" asked Bashir. "I felt like I was caught in the path of a shuttle at full impulse."

After everyone was back on their feet, Ares transported them back to the room where, just a few minutes ago, they were searching for missing Sisko. The Olympian did all the talking now, with some help from his brother, explaining who Dahak was back in Earth's bronze and iron age, and what he had done since.

"That is impossible," Dr. Bashir stated firmly. "This being is claiming responsibility for many major actions taken all over the galaxy in the last 25 centuries."

"It is possible, doctor." Countered the Olympian. "It's very, very possible. Colonel, what can you tell me about the 'Reckoning' prophesy? Any help you can give me would be appreciated."

"I only can tell you it happened last year." Kira said. "I wish I could help you more Admiral."

"And who won?" Ares sighed.

"Nobody," she answered. "Kai Winn interrupted the process."

"Then it wasn't the Reckoning," Hercules injected. "The prophesy clearly spoke of a winner."

"I had the prophet in my body, lieutenant! I know what it was."

"Maybe not," Dr. Bashir said in a wondering tone of voice. "If the prophets live outside what we consider normal time, they couldn't distinguish one event from another. Its possible that when it took over your body, the prophet thought it was the Reckoning, but his newness in linear time confused him."

"All this is interesting, but moot," offered Worf. "An enemy is coming tomorrow, how are we to defend ourselves?"

"We won't do any such thing," Ares answered before anyone else could say anything. "This, I will do alone. I have a plan. Colonel, take Odo and deliver him to the great link. Use the Prometheus, she's the fastest ship out there and we need to let the Vorta know that their gods won't die... maybe then the chaos will end. Jadzia, talk with Helena on earth, use my personal admiral code, tell her I need prayers and sacrifices like never before. Mr. Worf, proceed with the evacuation of the station, I don't care if you have to throw them out of the airlock personally, get everyone out. Herc, go to your captain and tell her to come here, then round your crew and make the Harmonia ready to depart. Move people, this is a race against time. Chief, Doctor, you stay here. I have need of your services."

* * *

Captain Trevi thought if she wanted to chime or just enter the conference room, deciding she was just trying to make time to avoid meeting with admiral Ares. 'This is foolish', she thought before taking a deep breath and entering.

"I'll have Nog do the modifications here," Chief O'Brien was saying. "He knows this station as well as I do. The Doctor and I'll work on the other project."

"As long as it gets done in the next twelve hours, distribute the people as you see fit. Dismissed." After they left, Ares turned to her and said in a tired voice, "Angie."

"What's happening? One would think we lost the war instead of winning it. I even heard you ordered DS9 evacuated."

"I did, the situation is as follows." After she finished hearing the explanation of everything that is happening, she asked, "And what will you do?"

"I have a plan, and I hope to Tartarus and back it works." He replied. "But I'll need your help; you see, I just spoke with Regnol and told him..."

She listened carefully to his plan, doubts climbing to her mind. When Ares finished, all she could do was to exclaim, "This... this... is this the best you could come up with? You're supposed to be a master strategist!"

"You know, I don't appreciate that, if you have a better idea, I'm all ears." When she remained silent, he smiled adding, "If everything else fails, I'll have the best ship with the best captain and the best pilot to come to my rescue."

"I didn't knew you were planning to give my ship to captain Picard," she smiled back, ruefully. "We'll be ready Admiral. But what about him, are you sure he'll help you?"

"Is not as if I'm giving him any choice. He owes me, and I intend to collect as soon as the chief finishes his project."

"I better go, have a lot of preparations to make. Admiral, all our hopes are with you."

Part II

Twelve hours later, Ares walked from a deserted command center to an equally deserted promenade. He was wearing his Starfleet uniform, with his sword strapped to his side. He knew what was coming to get him, and only the most precise timing would give him the remote chance of victory.

He reached the center of the promenade and pulled out his sword, moving it over his head, he screamed, "I am Ares, god of war, son of Zeus, god of thunder, grandson of Chronos, god of time. I am the champion as well, and I challenge the coward Dahak to face me, for today I will vanquish him and his darkness forever."

"Brave speech, oh god of war!" said the demon, materializing in a ball of flame. "But if you think words impress me, you're more than just wrong, you're an idiot."

Ares moved his sword to a defensive position and said, "Stop talking and fight!"

"I didn't think you were that anxious to die," grinned evilly the demon. "Let's talk for a while. I see you chose to wear that black and gray uniform, rather than your usual black leathers. I'm surprised."

"The Federation is the very best the Alpha Quadrant has to offer," the war god countered. "I'm honored that those who where once children under my care have reached this far, and farther still they'll get once you are out of the way."

"I see you're really set upon dying. Very well, I'll grant you your wish... but this form isn't really appropriate for such a task," Dahak said, pointing at his red haired human body. "Do you like this one better?" He asked assuming the shape of Zeus. "After all, you were always afraid of your old man."

"It is indeed appropriate, Zeus is dead and you're about to die."

The demon launched a thunderbolt that Ares managed to deflect almost completely, but it still hit him in his left shoulder. "Your first attack was inefficient," The GOW told his opponent. "You'll have to do better than that."

* * *

Close to the space station, twelve cloaked ships listened the com link open when Ares touched his shoulder and heard Ares' last statement. "That is our signal," ordered the fleet commander. "Move us to position and engage phase one of the plan."

* * *

On the promenade, Dahak answered Ares' taunt. "Oh, I can do a lot better, I could kill you with a thought, but that wouldn't be fun, instead..." he joined his hands and created a spear of pure energy, "I'm going to kill you with this antique instrument."

The demon wielded his glaive with expert accuracy, but Ares countered like the blade master he was. Then they began to dance. There was the only way to describe the gliding, flowing movement. Sword and spear went spinning and anyone seeing this would find it beautiful, so beautiful indeed. It was easy to forget that the first mistake would be the last if these two were simple mortals. Ares attacked then defended, the sword slashed and the spear probed, and every single strike was punctuated by a thunder like sound.

Back and forth they circled one another, and it seemed that the Zeus look-alike was regretting his decision to use a spear. Cold rage burned in his face and still he pressed harder, his spear unable to connect with anything but Ares' blade, yet the Olympian backed away constantly, his blade darting to defend and Dahak moved forward, attacking, eyes glittering with icy fury.

Outside the station, the wormhole opened, and Deep Space Nine, tolled by a dozen ships, entered.

"What's this?" The demon demanded pausing a moment, assuming a defensive stance. "Do you think the prophets will help you?"

"That's not my plan, no." Ares countered, taking the offensive, swinging his sword in many directions at once, trying to find an opening, but Dahak was too fast, his spear countered every single strike.

"If you think by taking me to the Gamma Quadrant is going to change anything," the demon commented, twirling his glaive. "You're really stupid. Chaos is worse here, not that I need closeness to absorb it."

'He is very good,' thought the Olympian once Dahak regained the offensive. 'But his movements are traditional, the type that has been thought by masters of the spear for thousands of years.'

Against almost any opponent, he'd be unbeatable, but Ares was the teacher of those masters and knew all the tricks that were outside the usual rules. He let himself be pushed back saying, "Taking you to the Gamma Quadrant also isn't in my plans."

With growing confidence, Dahak kept striking, and with each attack, Ares yielded a little more. But when the one that looked like Zeus attacked next, the war god brought his blade under and around. The demon tried to counter, but Ares instantly withdrew his sword, causing the opponent to overreach himself. The Olympian immediately lounged, making utmost use of the opening.

The maneuver was successful and the tip of the Sword of War sank deep into the Evil One's chest, making him scream as he retreated. Just then, the wormhole opened again and the demon screamed again, this time louder. Ares himself gasped and retreated, hyperventilating.

"This was your plan then!" Cried the demon. "To bring me to the alternate universe."

"Now you're getting it," Ares commented, swinging his sword again. "In here" thrust "you can't exist" swing "all I have to do now" swing "is to wait until you weaken" thrust "and then finish you off."

"There is only one problem with your plan," shot back the spear wielder, having collected himself and parrying with easy movements. "I'm still a lot stronger and once I finish you off, I'll return to our universe victorious. You cannot beat me!"

Ares executed a back flip, using his momentum to kick his opponent in the chin and gaining some breathing room. Holding his sword with both hands in front him, he said, "You're right, I cannot beat you, fortunately for me, I'm not alone."

"Excuse me," came a voice from behind Dahak, when he turned, all he could see was a fist, wielding a sword, before it connected squarely in his jaw. Sending him crashing to a bulkhead. So shocked he was, that he lost his Zeus form, returning again into the young red haired human and his glaive disappeared. However, this frail looking youth, stood up with fire in his eyes. "You brought the sissy boy to help you? That's good, that's very good. Now I can kill you both!" He screamed launching a ball of energy at each of the Olympians.

Both gods managed to block the shot, the one with Starfleet uniform with more difficulty, and began throwing back fireballs, lightning bolts, even bulkheads against the demon, who at first shrugged it off, but after a few moments, began to feel it.

The evil one screamed his fury. "You bloody mosquitoes, you think you can bring me down? You've got another thing coming!" With that, he began a multi directional attack, throwing small light lances that passed thru solid matter, but impacted on the two Olympians like arrows.

When the attack ended, the GOL and the GOW are still standing, but they're badly hurt, they looked at each other and exchanged a silent message, 'Not yet'. Then they both nod and the white clad Olympian charged, forcing Dahak on the defensive. Blocking the slashes and thrusts with his bracelets, the demon waited for a few seconds until one of the attacks left the love god open and hit him in the stomach, the chest and the jaw.

But the war god was there in a second, taking over where his double had left. Using complicated moves with his sword, his left hand and his feet, hitting the opponent often, until tiredness began to slow him down and he received a kick in the chest that also sent him flying. There was no rest for the demon, however, as the love god was there, hitting him in the left flank with both his sword and a hail of fireballs.

They continued that way for some time, one god engaging while the other rested, trying to tire their enemy, but it wasn't working, their nemesis kept going at the same speed and with the same force, and each time the one resting got less time for the one fighting got beaten more quickly.

When they were both in the ground and Dahak was grinning and moving his hands in the gesture of 'come on', the GOW told his counterpart, "We can't keep this up, time for the completion of my plan."

Standing up, the GOL nodded. "You got what is needed?" When the black clad god nodded back, Dahak screamed, "Is that all you've got? Is that everything? You should really have stayed on your own universe, that way, your sissy double wouldn't have died today!"

The war god threw something at the feet of the demon and touched his combadge, whispering, "NOW!"

* * *

In the dozen romulan Warbirds cloaked around the station, they heard the order and the three officers still remaining aboard, all of them wearing the crossed swords locket, deactivated the magnetic constraints around their warp core, and let the micro black hole that powered their engines grow out of control.

* * *

A universe away, at the mouth of the wormhole, thanks to the miracle of chief O'Brien magic, the crew of the Harmonia listened as well and her captain ordered, "That's our signal, Mr. Andrews, enter the wormhole, turn 180 degrees, and as soon as you're clear, stop for a second, then turn 180 degrees again and head for the Gamma Quadrant."

"Understood sir." Hercules nodded.

"Bridge to engineering, is everything ready?"

"Engineering here captain, this is Lt. Nog. Everything is ready. The engines have been modified to allow us passage to the alternate universe."

"Bridge to transporter room one, all set Mr. O'Brien?"

"Aye captain, as soon as we're clear, I'll lock on the 36 romulans, Admiral Ares and the other one. We're as ready as we'll ever be."

"20 seconds Ma'am." Reported Lieutenant Taffish.

'20 seconds,' thought Angeles. 'And then destruction.'

* * *

A smoke bomb exploded at the feet of Dahak, who laughed. "Is this all the power you have left, war god? Smoke?" Then directly at his left and his right he saw the figures of the two Olympians and he didn't stop to think. He raised his arms and fired at them with enough force to destroy a small moon, but when the energy reached the objective, he realized that the two figures were really holograms.

The GOW materialized in front of the demon, while the GOL blinked behind him. Both of them had enough time to think, 'trust Jack and his group', before making their right hands trespass Dahak chest and clasp inside the evil one's body.

* * *

The Harmonia exited the wormhole in time to see the beginning of the explosion. How the station was destroyed, but the Warbirds seemed to absorb the energy, rather than collapse with it. Still there was a huge shockwave coming their way.

"Transporter room one, do you have them?" Asked Trevi.

"Thirty six romulans, sir," Replied O'Brien. "I can't get a lock on Admiral Ares, nor his counterpart."

"The shockwave will reach us in 15 seconds." Reported Taffish.

"Come on, brother, you can pull this one out!" Muttered Hercules.

"Still unable," Miles said. "Captain, there is nothing there."

"5 seconds."

"Get us out of here, Mr. Andrews."

Just as they were entering the wormhole, the shockwave reached them. It didn't affect anyone but Hercules, who suddenly felt like he was being pulled apart in a hundred different directions at the same time. The stress was so much, that he fainted.

At the exact same time, in both universes, all the lockets broke apart, all the coins fell, and everyone could feel that Ares, their god, had given his life to stop an evil being from destroying everything.



Note from the Author:
While I was writing this novel, my friend JaimeBlue kept asking me 'What is Ares master plan? For he surely has something planned for the time when the war ends.' Since I knew Ares would die at the end, I didn't think it would be necessary to explore that plan as it would remain unrealized. However, I kept thinking about what she said and this part was the result.

The difference between this story and the other one is that Garak didn't interrupted Ares, and he swore by Styx to destroy de Dominion and Dahak thought he could use the war on the Gamma Quadrant. Too bad for him, Ares was too strong when he showed up.



Alternative ending

Twelve years later.

"Personal Federation Log, President Spock recording. I make this entry today, so that the future generations may come to know what happened, what led to this point in history. Today is my final day as president, I sit here on my desk, waiting for the outcome of the final battle, a hopeless battle at that. When I took this office four years ago, it was because a large group of people believed a living legend like they thought I was could stop the enemy from destroying the Federation.

"As it turns out, either I wasn't a legend big enough or it was really an unbeatable opponent. Since this is likely to be the last official record of this position, let me tell what has happened, how in 14 years, a being destroyed over 300 years of achievements.

"It all began when the Dominion declared war to the Alpha Quadrant. Another unbeatable foe brought despair among the humans, who chose to awake a god, and a war god at that. In retrospect, I think it was a bad decision, but the battle fought today will say I'm wrong.

"During the war, this so-called god gained power among the klingons, the romulans and many of the cultures of the Federation, even some vulcans were seduced by him, but when the war ended, he swore he'd make the Dominion pay for what they did to Cardassia, and as he made his plans to do this, the cardassians, hungry for revenge, flocked to his banner.

"The first part of this plan consisted in a blockade of the wormhole. A fleet of klingons, romulans and cardassians stood at the mouth of the singularity. Odo, the shapeshifter that was always on our side, tried time and again to break thru, but he was always turned back. He pleaded the Federation and the Bajoran government to help him take the cure for his race to the Gamma Quadrant, but the bajorans were silent, due the amount of commerce and benefits that came from the other powers of the Quadrant, and the implicit threat that Bajor would be destroyed if they even considered granting permission to cross.

"The 'Olympian' knew, however, that the Federation wouldn't just stand there, we'd take measures to deliver the cure and avoid a genocide, so he had to cripple us, and he did it. He used our own laws, helping all the worlds that were in what was known before as 'The Demilitarized Zone' to gain independence from the Federation, and granted them privileged commerce status with every other power in the Quadrant in which he had influence. This also meant that Federation commerce and revenues took a deep hit.

"Over the next six years, he pressured more and more Federation worlds to join his 'Maquis Confederacy' and with each world that went over to him, his power grew. At least his political and economic power, I won't even comment about his religious power.

"When those six years ended, he took the biggest fleet ever built across the wormhole, and found exactly what he expected. I have my suspicions that he executed the tactics that the changelings used, and went there to stir trouble, for the entire Gamma Quadrant was horribly fragmented. The Vorta had become feudal lords, controlling their territories thru the Jem'Hadar. Alliances were made and broken in the blink of an eye and of the founders, only a faint memory remained.

"Ares knew exactly what to do then, in the first week he was in the Gamma Quadrant, his fleet destroyed over 80% of the Ketracel White facilities, always under cloak, always making it appear as if it was some other Vorta who had done it. Oh yes, the Maquis Confederacy wasn't part of the Federation, therefore they weren't subject to the treaty of Algeron, they could develop cloaking technology.

"With only a handful of Vorta with access to Ketracel White, all the others ran to get them. All available resources were compromised to that effect and when they were depleted, the invading fleet struck. The conflict didn't take more than a few weeks to end, and when it did, all the Quadrant hailed Ares as their savior, restorer of the law and order, giver of freedom.

"Freedom? He put a chain around their necks, and they didn't even realize it! Still, he was a careful administrator, one who didn't allow corruption to take root in his government, a theocracy that, ironically, was based here on Earth.

"With such a large empire, many thought he'd leave the Federation alone, and for a while, he did. What wasn't counted on, was that not everyone left him alone. Barely 18 months after his takeover of the Gamma Quadrant, the Borg attacked. This wasn't an advance party like before, this was a full scale assault, thousands of cubes and spheres, millions of Borg.

"As reluctant as I am, I have to give him credit when he deserved it. Without Ares, the Borg would have won. But his multi-imperial resources enabled him to slow down the enemy's advance, but not to stop it, like a force of nature, the cybernetic monsters just kept coming. I hesitate to say this, but it was Ares, or rather one of his commanders, who found the greatest weakness in the collective: All the memories of each assimilated individual were kept on the central command memory bank.

"Thanks to a diversionary tactic, a group of cardassians and romulans infiltrated the center of the hive, dealt with the queen and broke down the code to restore all the drones memories... Those who had memories. Tens of millions of drones who were born that way died from the shock or cerebral hemorrhage.

"The Borg were dead, but their liberation had more repercussions than expected. Ares took the place of the Queen in the former drones minds. Although he helped restore their individuality, they desperately needed something to believe in, and religion took that place. They also had profound impact on Ares' religion; close investigation of Borg history revealed they were once humanoids who embraced cybernetic implants to become more efficient, and on their quest for efficiency, they turned into a hive.

"All the former drones, the delta converts, requested that technology be outlawed to prevent the surge of another Borg race. Opposition met the notion on both the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants, but Ares himself remained silent about the issue for a long time.

"That was when I got elected for this office; as a Vulcan, I was expected to use logical arguments to defend the Federation against this ridiculous notion. The Olympian, however, used my own arguments to come out and agree with the discarding of technology.

"He said, 'President Spock arguments in favor of technology are precisely why it should be banned. Look at him, a humanoid capable of calculating complicated equations in seconds, without the aid of a machine. A machine helps the brain to stop thinking. In order to enhance evolution, in order for mortals to BE more, their thinking process must not be blocked nor helped.'

"This translated into a single commandment, 'You shall not create nor use a machine that imitates a brain.' Since computers were needed for almost everything, Ares gave his clerics god like powers. The power to heal just about anything, the power to carry out conversations over long, even interplanetary distances, and the power to create space folds to transport themselves or others to far away places.

"All of these events happened less than three years ago, and many experts predicted his system would collapse. It didn't, the idea of a god who can give eternal reward or eternal punishment silenced most of the opposition, and those who still protested were outvoted by a vast majority. To meet the commerce, health and communication demands, the priesthood ranks swelled overnight. To counter the economical disaster that was expected when something as simple as food replicators were banned, Ares transformed hundreds of worlds into M class planets, providing food for his followers.

"With the commerce to worlds that had technology prohibited by religious canon, it was us who suffered the economical disaster, this caused more and more worlds to resign Federation charter and subscribe to the Galactic Commonwealth. And today, the federal congress will vote to dismantle the Federation. Today, it ends."

The door chimed at that moment, Spock looked at his chronometer, realizing that the congressional session was most likely at an end, and said, "Come in, please."

The visitor entered and came at attention. "Mr. President," he began. "the voting is over."

"And what's the word, Commodore Data?"

"Exactly as expected, Mr. President. The Federation has been disbanded and your presence is required for the change of power."

"Then let's go." He began walking toward the Federal Congress. "And what about you, commodore? What will you and your family do?"

"Every single artificial life form still functioning were recalled to earth a week ago. My family, 17 androids class Soong and over 600 Zimmerman class holograms, we're all here. I fully expect us to be deactivated. It's the dawn of a new era, one where we aren't needed."

"You expect to be destroyed, yet you won't do anything about it?"

"Mr. President," Data replied. "Did you think that in your lifetime, complete peace would come to the alpha quadrant? Did you think that the entire galaxy would be explored? That Klingons, Ferengi, Cardassians, Romulans, Kazon and Hirogen would be standing together, without fighting? I know I didn't; and my life expectancy should be of centuries."

"Maybe commodore," commented the Vulcan. "But today we sign ourselves to slavery. The people just don't understand that if Ares ever wish it, he can cut all communication, all trade, everything! It will end on the whim of one being."

"Some of the vulcans in the congress expressed the idea that peace is worth that risk."

"I disagree. Maybe is because I'm not a full vulcan, but James Kirk thought me that life is only worth living if you have a challenge, and that without it, life stagnates." They arrived to the Congress gates, and the president added, "Let's get this over with."

In the presidium of the congress, Ares, flanked by Helena and Simon was waiting. The vulcan stood in the lectern and began: "Today is a very sad day for me. A day in which we give away our freedom."

"You've given that speech before!" Yelled one of the congressmen in a mocking matter, bringing laughter to the room.

"I have," continued Spock. "And I won't say it again. Ares, is my duty as President to sign this agreement, dissolving the Federation and everything it stood for."

"I think, Mr. President," Helena interrupted. "That Earth, Alpha Centauri, Rigel, Vulcan and the other worlds that will join the Commonwealth will find there is very little difference between the recently deceased Federation and the new regime."

Spock singed and stood up. "And what do you plan to do with the artificial life forms? Deactivate them? That is just another word for murder."

"I won't do any such thing." Ares said very calmly, his voice reaching everywhere in the room. "Despite all the proclamations of equality, rights for artificial life forms weren't granted until four years ago, and even with full rights, holograms and androids have been looked down upon since. I will change that. I will transform them into biological life forms, as an alternative to dead."

The murmurs that sounded in the hall began to increase, until Ares cleared his throat loudly. "Mr. Data, once you asked me if you had a soul, and I told you I didn't knew. Now I can tell you: you don't. But I can change that, I can give you one. Make no mistake, your lives as biological entities will be very different from what they are now, but is the only I can allow you to keep existing."

* * *

"I'm glad they accepted." Simon commented that night, while playing with his son, Solan. "I've always admired the commodore, err, former commodore. So, my god, you have brought peace and an era of prosperity seems close, what will you do now?"

"I'll begin reorganizing the government," Ares replied. "I don't want to be regarded as a tyrant. I'm thinking about creating two different powers, so that responsibility is shared with the executive, the emperor."

"And what will those two powers be?"

"The commerce guilds and the noble houses. By the way, since Helena is a member of my staff, you'll have to do as head of this house."

"A noble house?" Simon asked very confused. "I had no idea that's what you were planning. And how should I call it? House Andoni?"

"No," the war god shook his head. "That doesn't sound right. Let's name it after a famous ancestor."

"House Xena?"

"No, I don't like that one either. Better call it in honor of her father. You're now the head of House Atreides."

The End.

I know this was corny, but ever since I saw the Xena episode 'The Ties that Bind' and found that Cyrene's husband was Atrius, I couldn't resist it. You now know the real story behind the Butlerian Jihad.


Epilogue I

When he came to, he didn't knew where he was, what was worse, he didn't know who he was... Oh, he had memories and he had a name. But those memories were conflicted. They showed the same persons doing different things at the same time. It showed HIM doing different things at the same time.

"Welcome, my son." Came a voice from everywhere, a light that eliminated all penumbra.

"Who are you?" He asked, his own voice different from what he remembered. "Where am I? What has happened?"

"You fulfilled your destiny, champion." The voice said calmly, soothingly. "The demon Dahak was defeated. You found the only way to do it."

"Did I... did we... was the universe destroyed as well?"

"No my son, creation is there, and it will continue to be there for a long, long time."

"And where am I? Who am I?"

"When you joined you natures, you became something different from what you were, and the birth of your new self brought you here."

"And where is here? And what do you mean my birth? I was born thousands of years ago. Who are you?"

"I am the creator," the voice explained. "I am the father and the mother of everything that is, for I caused everything to be. As for where you are, this is Heaven, in the beginning of time. As for who you are, you are who you always have been: the champion. Only now your aggressive nature is coupled with your loving persona, you are more than what you were.

"Welcome home, Archangel Michael."

Epilogue II

"What is wrong with my helmsman?" Captain Trevi asked Dr. Bashir in the sickbay of the Harmonia. "He's been unconscious for over a week, and all you can tell me is that you don't know?"

"I am sorry, captain." Julian answered. "But the only clue that I have is that strange radiation that bombarded the ship right before the wormhole closed. And it didn't affect any of us, only him."

"He is the only thing we have left of Ares, after everything he did for us, I'll be damned if I let him die."

"I'll keep working on him, captain. The readings I'm getting from him are stranger than anything I've ever seen, and I've seen some strange things. We should reach Earth in two days, every specialist in the Alpha Quadrant will be there. If there's a way to cure him, we'll find it."

"That's what I'm afraid of," whispered Angie. "What if there is no way."

* * *

"Ares, where are you?" Hercules yelled, trying to find his way on the maze he was in.

"You're lost, you know?" came a voice from behind him.

"Iolaus?" Herc asked confused. "But you're dead!"

"Yes, and so are you old buddy." The golden hunter commented. "You just don't accept it. Come on, we've been thru this a hundred times already, don't you remember?"

"I remember, you always come, always say I must come with you, but I can't not until I find Ares."

"I have to find Ares," Iolaus said mockingly, "I have to find Ares, Ares is dead! And you're not going to find it until you accept you're dead too and take my hand!"

"No! I don't know who you are, but you're not my friend!"

"Here we go again." Sighed the blonde hunter.

* * *

"I just can't comprehend what is wrong with this man," Dr Pulaski said at Starfleet Medical Center. "There's something wrong with his body on a sub molecular level, but I can't say what."

"Unfortunately, I agree." Concurred the romulan physician, Puress, while she put down the PADD she was reading. "There is no explanation."

"As much as I hate to say this," the klingon doctor K'Mantal added. "This may be something we have no explanation for. This illness, whatever it is, may beat us."

"Have you heard the latest from the wormhole?" Asked Julian, trying to change the conversation before everyone agreed and gave up.

"Last I heard," Pulaski commented. "The klingon and romulan ambassadors nearly came to blows over whose government was going to take greater financial burden in the creation of the new Ares space station. And the funny part was, they both wanted to donate more than the other."

"Well, that's old news." Puress told everyone, trying not to look at K'Mantal. "If you haven't heard, a female Vorta came from the Gamma Quadrant a few days ago. She claims the Dominion wants peace and is willing to build a twin space station, covering all the costs, on their side of the wormhole. The Eris space station. She also suggested that both stations be managed by a conclave of the powers of the Alpha Quadrant and the Dominion. A place for diplomacy."

"That is also old news," K'Mantal said, smiling at the romulan. "Days ago, a Cardassian delegation arrived to the planning site, led by a female named Gilora Anat. Apparently, the new cardassian leader, Garak, knows can't give any money for the station, but volunteered engineering skills. I believe his message said something about 'Since Terok Nor served so well, being a solid Cardassian structure, its logical to have a cardassian design for the station that's going to take its place'."

"That's Garak all right." Smiled Julian. "He'll try to take advantage of whatever resources he has to archive a better position for his people."

"What was that?" Pulaski said, pointing at a monitor. "A spike on his neural patterns?"

"This could be a good thing!" Bashir smiled again.

* * *

"That's right, just take my hand." Iolaus said to Hercules when a beating of wings was heard, coming closer and closer. "Hurry up, take my hand. They're coming to take you away."

Herc hesitated, fearing the sound that approached, but not trusting his friend entirely. He began to extend his hand, when a voice came from above. "I thought I had destroyed you, Dahak." Michael said, folding his black wings. "But to hide in an immortal body, waiting to consume him... that would be low for anyone else. For you, it's just another day doing the same thing."

"You can't destroy me!" Shouted the demon. "I will take over this body and..."

"NO!" Screamed the demigod. "You're trying to possess me, like you did Iolaus. I'll fight you!"

"I'm inside you, you moron!" Mocked the false Iolaus. "As long as you live, I'll be here. And eventually, you'll weaken and I'll overtake you."

"There's no need for you to fight him," Michael said. "I brought someone for that task!"

Another pair of wings came closer and finally landed. "Apolonia?" Hercules asked, looking at the white winged being. "Is that you?"

"Yes, uncle Hercules. I'm an angel now, and I'll deal with this thing you've got inside your body."

"You're kidding, right?" the demon laughed. "This little girl against me?"

"You forget, evil one," she replied. "By inserting yourself in this body, you became an illness, and those I CAN fight!" She extended her wings and they began to shine, an overwhelming light covering everything, but while Hercules felt the light comforting, Dahak closed his eyes and yelled, "No! NO!"

* * *

On the biobed, the vital signs of the patient began to fluctuate, Dr. Pulaski began giving orders to administer drugs and asking, "What the hell is this? What precipitated this arrest?"

"No idea," answers Bashir, checking the instruments. "He just began jumping."

An opening formed on the chest of Hercules and everyone backed away as a shadow exited the hole. A tortured being, full of hate, wrath and envy, but impotent to do anything to them. It screamed silently once, and then it vanished.

* * *

"Michael," said Hercules. "Is he really gone now?"

"Yes brother, finally, he's gone."

"Why do you call me brother?"

"I don't blame you for not recognizing me, I didn't recognize myself. When the god of war merged with the god of love, I was the result."

"Ares? You are Ares?" After the archangel nodded, Herc continued, "And you always have been him?"

"I couldn't very well let you know when we first met, could I? I couldn't let myself know."

"I healed the damage caused by the demon in your body uncle," Polly interrupted. "But I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"What?"

"Your immortality, he consumed it."

"You mean I'm normal?" Hercules asked hopefully. "I will grow old with the ones I love?"

"The bigger plan, little brother." Smiled the archangel. "Your reward is finally here, your life, and your wife await you."

"What happened to the other Olympians? Did they became angels as well?"

"You'll find out, little brother." Stated the black winged being. "When you die for real, and I'll be there, waiting for you. In the meantime, me and my beloved have a paradise to enjoy. Good bye, my brother."

* * *

"His vital signs are becoming stable again," Puress said. "But he's stabilizing as a normal human being. Very different from the readings before."

"He's waking up!" Exclaimed K'Mantal, approaching the newly awakened human, who whispered something, and then fainted again.

"What did he say?" Asked Julian.

"I could swear he said 'Good bye, Archangel Ares."

The End.


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