LNH/REPOST: Looniverse Chronicles #1: "264 BC: Extend the Olive Branch... of DOOM!"

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 20:43:16 PDT 2012

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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 
dangers lurking!

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 
a dove!"

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 
seen it!

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 
day immortalize.

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!

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