[LNH] Looniverse Chronicles #1 (High Concept Challenge #7)
pwerdna at gmail.com
Sat Mar 27 20:47:51 PDT 2010
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LOONIVERSE O CHRONICLES
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264 BC: Extend the Olive Branch... of DOOM!
Cover shows a pair of chariots thundering towards the viewer. A female
figure in dotted-line invisibility stands to their right, thinking,
.oO(Whoever wins - DIES!)
A field not too far from the fabled Mount Olympus! Here, horses are
prepared to compete in the chariot races of those pan-Hellenic
competitions known in the halls of history as the Olympic Games! And
among them is the lionhearted lady, Bilistiche of Macedonia, owner and
trainer of the best two- and four-horse racing teams across the coasts
of the Aegean Sea - and who secretly fights injustice in the
Alexandrian courts as the deified damsel, Aphrodite Bilistiche!
And there, before us, she rides! "Ah, what a fine day for a race! Too
bad that I won't be able to drive the horses myself - but as an
unmarried woman, at least I'll be able to watch!"
Suddenly, a sound from the sky! A great roar pierces the firmament,
and a flaming bolt strikes - right next to the ceremonial olive
gardens, from whence the ultimate Olympic prizes, the olive branches of
peace, are cut!
Bilistiche brought her horses to a halt, far beyond the other trainers.
"That strange stone from the stars landed near that olive tree!" She
gasped. "It's *glowing*!"
In moments, the glow subsided. By the time Bilistiche reached the
gardens, the mysterious rock had crumbled to dust! She descended from
her mount and stepped cautiously toward the tree, wary of the nebulous
A dove lacked her circumspection! It started nibbling at the leaves,
and in moments, it swooned! Bilistiche caught the falling bringer of
peace and invoked the grace of the goddess. It recovered swiftly, but
her thoughts were dark indeed!
By this point, the other trainers had ridden up, and a pair of Olympic
officials followed close behind. Bilistiche recognized them as Xanthos
of Athens, a fairly typical representative of authority, and Gregorios,
also of Athens, whose openly sarcastic demeanor inspired both
approbation and annoyance.
Xanthos looked around. "Can anyone tell me what has transpired here?"
Bilistiche stepped forward. "A stone from the sky landed next to this
olive tree, then disappeared! I think it's poisoned - it almost killed
Gregorios raised an eyebrow. The dove cooed, then fluttered away.
Xanthos turned to one of the trainers. "Did you see this happen?"
"Well, no," he replied. "I didn't get here until just now."
He turned to another trainer. "And you?"
"Um, I think we all got here after she did."
Xanthos sighed. "Then, in light of the lack of credible witnesses..."
He took a leaden casket from his pack. Gregorios took out his blade
and, with a single slice, cut a pair of branches that fell into the
Inside, Bilistiche cursed! Of all the rotten luck! Naturally, they'd
dismiss what *she* said, but she figured that *someone* else would have
Gregorios closed the box and smirked. "You can have them back - once
you win the chariot races!" He and Xanthos rode off.
But Bilistiche showed no sign of vexation. Her cunning mind worked,
and a plan sprung from it, like Athena fully-formed!
Bilistiche stepped beneath a rose tree. She pulled the secret silvered
mirror from the folds of her outfit. Passing her hand over her
reflected face, she called, "Morning star, rise!"
Rose petals floated up around her, glowing with the reflected light of
Olympus! She spun around, and in a prismatic flash, there stood the
brilliant bow to the arrow of amour, Aphrodite Bilistiche!
.oO(First,) she thought, (to take care of that tree!) She put a hand on
the bark, still with that slight tinge of sickly green, and felt the
pulsing of that strange glow. She filled the tree with her own glow,
the warm, pure light of agape, and the mysterious energy from the stars
fled back to whence it came!
She rode back to the hippodrome, where Archippos, who represented her
in the synoris races, where two horses pulled the chariot, and
Philippos, who did the same in the four-horse tethrippon, were waiting.
She disguised herself as her own mortal form and handed the horses
Bilistiche put her hands on their shoulders and spoke words of
encouragement. She had established eroslinks with Archippos and
Philippos long ago, and now tapped into these, imbuing them with
protection against the poisonous light of the skystone!
And now, to make sure they got to the branches first!
In the seats on the hill high above the action, the spectators parted
for Bilistiche to walk by.
She sat with the other trainers, near her friend and rival Diokles. He
smiled and said, "Looks like I'm the leading contender for second
place! ...are you okay? You look a bit pale!"
"Oh?" And she gave the same inscrutable smile which Leonardo would one
Meanwhile, down on the course, Aphrodite Bilistiche watched invisibly
as the heralds announced the drivers and owners. .oO(Luckily,) she
thought, (my good friend Galatea was on hand! The sentient statue has
disguised herself as me before!)
The two-horse chariots lined up behind the starting gates. Bilistiche
noted that Archippos was on the outside track. .oO(That will give him
an edge in speed when he starts!)
The first gate dropped, and Archippos was off! Each other gate fell in
succession, and when the last one dropped, the eagle and the dolphin
were raised, signaling that the race had begun!
.oO(Including Archippos, only five of the drivers have a real shot at
the goal,) Bilistiche thought, her keen horseman's eye picking out the
frontrunners. (Kadmos of Mycenae is probably the biggest threat, but he
should be the easiest to take out!)
She reached into his heart and took grasp of the tangled bundle of
threads she found there. This one was already a slave to love (as well
as being an actual slave)! She tugged on the threads and he was
overcome. His first kiss, his father's death, his longing for his
faraway wife, his mingled respect, affection and fear of his master -
his hands fell from the reins, and he wept!
Bilistiche soothed the horses, and they slowed to a trot. By the time
Kadmos got a hold on his emotions, he was far behind.
.oO(I have to space these out so the officials don't suspect anything!)
thought Bilistiche. Herodes of Boeotia and Makarios of Thessaly fell
the same way, but by that point, the second lap was nearly over, and
Archippos was neck and neck with Hermogenes of Corinth.
She reached out and touched his heart, but it was unlike the others'
untidy knots of emotion; the threads radiated out from a central point.
It was surprisingly healthy - Bilistiche approved! - but that wouldn't
stop her from manipulating it! .oO(I just need a slightly different
Hermogenes was hurtling into the final lap! He was readying himself
for the burst of speed that would put him into the lead when his eye
drifted to a woman standing to the side of the track. It was his
mistress, Eudoxia - and the horses were drifting towards her!
Bilistiche let the illusion drop as Hermogenes drew his chariot to a
halt. Archippos zipped past to victory! Bilistiche dusted off her
hands. .oO(That was easy... but why do I get the feeling that the
tethrippon won't be as simple?)
The starting gate dropped, and Philippos was off! Middle of the pack
at first, he caught up quickly, even as Aphrodite Bilistiche started
picking off his rivals.
Helidoros of Athens realized how terrible it would be for the horses
he'd trained with for months to tire out and die! Ioannes of Attica
was hit with the realization that he'd shirked his responsibilities to
his wife and son in search of victory! Simonides of Messenia fell into
a narcissistic trance!
Bilistiche reached out to the heart of the final competitor... and
found an iron wall.
She looked up. Ah.
It was Sophronios. Of Sparta.
As a rule, Bilistiche felt love for everyone, love of many different
kinds. Some were easier to love and some were more difficult, but the
hardest were definitely the Spartans. Spartan society was a whetstone
that ground its people down into sharp edges and blunt instruments.
Women could escape its worst, but the men were relentlessly pounded
down until they knew only the love of Ares, the love of a faraway,
cold, powerful presence.
She grasped at the slender, frayed strands that connected Sophronios to
his kin. She summoned images the warriors who had stood beside him in
the phalanx; they were trampled underhoof in his mind's eye. She
invoked the death of his mother and father; the grief was like a drop
of perfume dissolved by an endless sea. She heightened his hidden
desires to full force; the drive to win, to defeat, overcame them all.
Bilistiche fell to her knees. Perhaps she should just let him win, and
take up the deadly branch. After all, he was a aloof, callous
barbarian, one of the thousands that made up the cruelty and tyranny
that was Sparta. All of Greece - no, all the world - would probably be
better off if as many of them died as possible...
...no. She would not give in to hate! She was love! She was peace!
She was Aphrodite!
Aphrodite Bilistiche made a quick, desperate invocation to the divine
powers of regeneration and resistance to harm!
Then she stuck her foot out and tripped the horse.
Both the horse and Bilistiche folded in pain! Sophronios's chariot
swerved off the track, the horses getting tangled up in each other, and
the other riders narrowly managed to avoid a ten-chariot pile-up!
As Philippos took the win, Bilistiche crawled over to the horses. She
healed their legs, then hobbled off into the stands.
Having secretly swapped with Galatea, Bilistiche sat between Diokles
and Gregorios and watched as the casket was opened and Archippos and
Philippos took their prize! They raised the olive branches high in the
air, and Bilistiche concentrated; the glow within the branches
disappeared, flying back into the sky.
Diokles applauded. "Well, my chief competitor, looks like ladies aren't
totally inferior to men."
"Well," Gregorios snarked, "at least when they're not being hysterical
over a silly thing like trees."
.oO(If only he knew!) thought Bilistiche. "Tee-hee!"
About the story: Yes, in the ancient Olympics, women could compete by
owning and training the horses in the chariot races. It was rare, but
not incredibly so. Bilistiche was a real person who won both the
tethrippon and synoris races in 264 BC, and after she became the
mistress of Ptolemy II Philadephius (the pharaoh of Greek Egypt at the
time), she was deified as Aphrodite Bilistiche. Why yes, I did take
all of this from the wiki article.
About the series: Looniverse Chronicles is meant to be an anthology
series that anyone can write, spanning times and places outside of the
present-day LNH and their Earth. (I've already got ideas for ones that
take place in the 1980s and in Celtic Britain.) Obviously, it doesn't
need to be written in an overenthusiastic pastiche.
This may seem like an oddly unrepresentative story for the LNH. (Heck,
I didn't even use net.names!) Yet, despite the fact that it could
probably go in Eightfold or even ASH, I think it somehow belongs here.
Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, just under the wire, by the severed
genitals of Ouranos!
More information about the racc