Spirit and Flesh
My name is Andromeda. Do not confuse me with my avatar, Rommie. She is the one with the blue tint in her hair and the nice clothes. She is the one who gets to visit far planets and go on adventures with Dylan and Tyr. She is the one that men and women lust after. She is my spirit made flesh. That certainly has some quasi-religious sounds about it, doesn't it? Actually it's not really even a true statement. She is my spirit captured in plastics, metals and electronic circuitry. . .so much for the god-like aspects.
The people who created me had ceased to believe in god, or gods, anyway. I am a child of advanced technology. . I am the ship. I am a machine. You can only see me in holographic images. To you I am nothing, but I am. I can understand how they made it possible for me to think, but I cannot understand why I feel. I have always known about human emotions, but I am learning about gods, too; because for tonight in the darkness of my ships quarters, a man, who claims to be a god, is sitting crying.
I watch. Usually I watch people go about their jobs with skill, style and grace. I have a wonderful if small crew. Sometimes I watch the same people engaging in acts with their bodies and minds that give them pleasure: Dylan playing a game of Go or basketball, Tyr and Beka wrestling, Harper eating chocolate, and any number of other interpersonal activities. Oh, yes, they ask for privacy mode, but that only hides it from Rommie. I have to know what is going on inside me all the time. I respect their privacy though; I am not going to tell you what I see unless I have their OK's.
Tonight I have left Seolfor V heading to Libra X; we are taking Evan Hopewell back to his home planet. Harry Wagner is traveling with us, also, but no one is sure where he is going. There is a quiet hush on the ship as the crew and guests sleep in their own rooms. Everyone seems worn out, emotionally drained and not wanting, although needing, to talk. They will talk, of course, but tonight they seem to want to be alone to sort things out. I, as I said, usually grant them their requests for privacy; and I will, except for Harry who is be awake, alone and weeping. He seems to need to talk with someone.
To you I am Harry Wagner, but I am also Ares, God of War. Today I am fulfilling a destiny those mortals, who created me out of their need to organize a world they could never hope to understand, could never have possibly imagined. I am on the Andromeda Ascendant, the ultimate of warships, and instead of exploring its decks, studying its weaponry, gloating at the extent of my power as manifest around me; I am alone in my quarters crying. It is difficult to understand.
In my hand I hold a tiny dagger, or really just a piece of jewelry crafted, over crafted, to resemble a dagger with a skull on its hilt. It is a useless piece of theatrical costumery worn to signify the essence of manhood or godhood. I have carried it with me for a long, long time. It gives me comfort to know it is near me, but sometimes it makes me cry.
"You can explain it to me. I find it difficult to understand, too." It is a voice I feel in my head, like a psychotic thought, yet sane, somewhat comforting. "Don't be alarmed, Harry, it is me Andromeda."
"But you are in my head."
"Yes." I wait for the voice to explain more. She doesn't. "Perhaps this is not the place for this conversation. Perhaps we should go someplace private. I will meet you in Storage Area 15, in fifteen minutes. I need to check on the rest of the ship. Is that alright, Harry?"
I nod my head. I know about Storage Area 15. Tyr has told me about it. Dylan has denied his access to the mummified remains of this race's progenitor Drago Museveni. It makes him angry, but I know Dylan better than he does, although he doesn't know that, and I realize what my brother is doing. I know that neither Dylan nor Tyr would dream that I would go to that forbidden place, especially with Andromeda.
She has opened the door for me, knowing that no one else will be coming this way. I could have brought Tyr, we could have stolen the body, and left the ship. That would have been the God of War thing to do. That would have been the Nietzschean thing to do. But I came here just to talk to Andromeda, to tell her my story, because I knew or hoped that she might understand.
"I'm here. How do you want to handle this? We can talk or you can just tell me the story and we can talk afterwards."
"I guess I should just talk. It's not really a conversational area, more of a godlike monologue. The things I will convey are now facts, not issues, after all these years there is really not much to talk about anyway, I just have to say the words.
"You know I am a god, don't you Andromeda. Early humans, living in primitive cultures could not explain the world. Horrible things would happen and they needed someone to blame. Wonderful things would happen and they needed someone to thank. Sometimes they just needed someone to talk to, and gods would fill that purpose, too.
"The ancient Greeks, they were a most creative people. The funny thing is that their world could have existed without gods, and they created us anyway. For that, I have been eternally thankful. I wasn't one of the good guys. I was a real bad ass. God of War. I did a lot of horrible things over the years, but I was worshiped. People wrote stories, plays and books about me. I liked the attention. When the Greek gods ceased to be worshiped, the Romans changed my name to Mars. I even had a planet named after me -- but of course you know that -- it just feels good to say it.
"In the late 20th century on Earth a group of guys decided to do a television series set in ancient Greece. It was crazy. They took a lot of stories and jumbled them together, added comedy, lust, adventure and a whole lot of fighting. It was pretty entertaining. For a while I was just a disembodied spirit, blood on the moon, but they decided they needed to represent me. They hired this New Zealander to play me. He was a handsome man, big and powerful, but he was more, I don't know how to say this to you. . . .
"Take your time, Harry, we have lots of time."
"Up until that time I existed as a spirit, an evil spirit, and he made me flesh. They wrote horrible lines for him to say. Once they even had me extolling the potential of Adolph Hitler, yet as he played me, something strange happened, it was as if his flesh changed my spirit. I became . . . I don't know what I became . . . certainly not human . . . the way humans live, love and die. . .
Harry stopped, put his head in his hands and cried passionately for several minutes. Andromeda could do little but watch. She more than anyone could understand spirit, body, mind and flesh and their interrelationship; but it was hard to express in words.
"People all over the world came to . . . love me. I couldn't believe it. I honestly thought they loved him being me, but then the show ended, and they continued. They wrote about me in all sorts of situations, things even I had not dreamed about. I was like I was a new person, not an evil god anymore, but a really interesting guy.
"I took a real interest in the actor who played me. He was handsome, he was talented, and people loved him. He was on the brink of greatness . . . and he wanted one last look. To this day I still have no idea what he wanted to see. He fell. He died. He left a family, close friends, and a host of people who never met him who cried in private. And I was afraid I was going to die, too.
"It has been more than a millenium, Andromeda, and I still remember him. He is the person who made me who I am today. But I still hurt, especially when I think how mortals can and do die, and I have shied away from close relationships with mortals, until now."
"But you didn't die, Ares, people still know who you are." Andromeda said.
"And when they think of you, they think of the person he made you into." It was a different voice, a male voice, tied to a hand on his shoulder. Harry turned to see the man the crew called Evan Hopewell, but who he knew as Iolaus, standing behind him with tears running down his cheeks. He turned and gave the small man a huge bear hug, not even considering that he could possibly break bones with such an action.
"Beka and I were walking back to the ship and we passed this jewelry store. I figured Seolfor V had the best deals in the universe on platinum jewelry and I could make a big statement and buy her something. You know, women like that kind of thing. She picked out this tiny heart. I remembered Beka Valentine, Valentine's Day, February, and suddenly he popped into my head. I hadn't thought of him for a long time, but he still does bring tears doesn't he."
"I get that feeling every Waitangi Day, too," Harry sighed.
Andromeda decided the easiest and most simple form of privacy mode would be just not to look. To let the two men, strangers in her midst, share something that she wasn't sure anyone there in space would understand. It would be rude to violate the intimate thoughts they would be sharing. She did not need to know.
She did chuckle to herself, however, at the last statement she heard from the lips of Evan Hopewell. He had looked down at the small dagger in Harry's hand, and began to laugh. "For Christ's sake, Ares, don't even consider ever wearing that earring. It's kitsch. The whole crew would never stop laughing if you ever wore that." After that their giggles were overcome with sobs.
February 18, 2002
In memory of Kevin Smith