Achilles in the Sun

You thought that the zombie apocalypse was all that Chronos had planned. You thought that Reid’s adventures were over. You were wrong. There is more going on here than would appear. There is a sinister plot afoot and Reid must race to stop it. Tales of a Ginger proudly presents:

Achilles in the Sun

Reid walked out of the power plant. The sun was still rising in eastern sky. Its warm rays bathed his body, rejuvenating him. The battle with the zombies was draining. The surviving workers had been released from the plague of the undead, turned back into their normal selves. And now Reid was ready to head back to church to get some kind of prep in for the three services that morning.

Then he noticed a change in the light. It was subtle, like someone had slipped on a pair of transition lenses that gently darken as the light intensifies. But it wasn’t so much of a transition as like a bulb going out or a switch being flipped. The change was instantaneous. But it could not be ignored.

Reid looked around, confused. Not just by the light, but the few people out and about were odd. The people walking down the sidewalks were frozen in midstride. One lady at a café was taking a perpetual sip of her coffee. One man, driving his car, was picking his nose, mining deep for that precious green ore.

Then Reid looked to the sky. It was as if a haze had covered the clear blue. The sun was gone. There was still light, but nothing producing it. No sun, people frozen. It made no sense.

Reid pulled his iPhone out and held down the home-screen button, “Hermes, what is going on?”

“It appears something has happened to Apollo. He no longer pulls the sun-charriot across the sky,” began Hermes. “As a result, time has been disrupted.”

“So why are the people frozen and I’m not?”

“Your favored position with the gods that connects you to Achilles protects you,” Hermes answered, “But the people are stuck in the moment that Apollo disappeared.”

Reid had to chuckle at his next thought, “The people are stuck in time.”

He hated the TV show Lost but this was so appropriate.

“And for them to become ‘unstuck’ we must return Apollo.”

Reid began walking down the street, looking at the people as they were “stuck.” He loved to people-watch at malls and other public places but this was different. Normally people aren’t paying attention to what others may think of them. But now that they are stuck it takes on a new humor. Now, he can mess with them. Reid walked to a woman strolling down the sidewalk, took her right hand, balled it into a fist with the thumb sticking up, and placed the thumb in the her mouth. He took the man who appeared to be her boyfriend and stuck his right index finger into his nose so that the man will be picking his nose when they are unstuck.

Reid spoke to his phone once again, “Okay, Hermes. I think it’s safe to assume that Apollo disappearing right after I stop the attack unleashed by Chronos is not a coincidence.”

“That would be a warranted assumption.”

“So, what else did the Oracle find out about the cyber attack?”

“The hacker was good by mortal standards. But he could not hide from the Oracle.”

“So we can track the signal? Where is the hacker at?” asked Reid excitedly.

“Correct, Austin, Texas. I’m bringing the address up on your screen.”

Reid looked around hurriedly. He needed a car. He could walk back to his car but that would take too much time—which was funny to him. Immediately he saw a taxi. He rushed over to it and opened the door. The taxi-driver was shoving a jelly-filled doughnut into his mouth—the blood-like jelly covering the corners of his mouth—while holding a thermos full of coffee in the other hand. He pulled the driver out of the cab, opened the back door, and stuffed him inside.

“Hermes, can I still use this car?” asked Reid.

“Yes, plug this phone into the USB port on the dashboard. Run my app. It will allow you to take control of the vehicle.”

Reid plugged the phone into the port and tapped the icon that was an image of sandals with wings. Lightning struck the car and its engine roared to life. Out of the hubcaps came wings, like Hermes’ winged-sandals.

He pressed the gas pedal and the car sped forward. But Reid wasn’t ready for the speed. The car moved beyond that of any he had seen. He had driven some of the fastest cars in the world. Porsche, Lamborghini, muscle cars, racecars—both Indie cars and NASCAR—he had driven them all. He had even driven a British 00-agent’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Reid knew speed intimately. Or so he thought.

What light there was from the sky blurred with the scenery as the car felt like a bullet shot out of a riffle and busted the wall behind the wall he just busted. The sheer power to move that quickly with that kind of force was intoxicating.

Within minutes—Reid guessed it was minutes because there was no time at the moment—he arrived in Austin, Texas. He had never been here before. The skyline wasn’t big, in terms of number of buildings, but was still impressive and enjoyable. Reid actually loved to visit cities to behold their skylines. Austin’s was very much influenced by old Aztec pyramids. The buildings seemed to be steps leading up to the sky, ancient temples themselves. Instead of housing dead rulers or worship of old deities, they were temples to Americana. Money and business and corporations lived here and were celebrated here, revered. In this way, it was no different from any other skyline. Only the flair and look was different, not purpose.

He followed the directions given by Hermes to the address. As he neared his destination on the map, one building loomed large overhead: the state capitol. As he drove he came ever closer to the building. This did not set well with him. Why on earth would the hack signal originate from the capitol building? Why is Hermes leading him there?

“Hermes, what gives?” Reid asked, “Why am I at the state capitol?”

“This is where the Oracle said the signal came from. I cannot say anymore.”

Reid pulled the car into a vacant parking lot adjacent to the capitol. He got out and prepared to push the shield icon on his phone when he heard something. He looked up to find the sound. He turned to the right, looking up the street, and saw a man on horseback. He was dressed in shining armor, an angular shield on his left arm, a sword on his left hip, and a jousting lance held upright in his right hand. There was a recognizable logo on the shield, a family crest that Reid was all too familiar with.

“Arthur! What are you doing?” yelled Reid.

“Who goes there? Identify yourself!” responded the man on the horse.

“Arthur! It’s me, Reid! From university!”

At that the man on the horse kicked his horse and the majestic creature sped up to a gallop. Reid fixed his gaze on the shield, watching the familiar dragon clarify. Arthur stopped the horse, hopped off the saddle, and embraced his friend.

“My beloved Reid. What a delight to see you again!” Arthur exclaimed.

“How long has it been?”

“Ten years?”

“Wow. Ten years. It’s been too long, my friend, too long.”

“Agreed, young swain, agreed.”

“So what brings you to Austin, TX?” asked Reid.

“I’m looking for Lancelot. He and I have an issue that needs resolving.”

“What do you mean?”

“There is a triangle of love involving he, the Lady Guinevere and myself. I intend to remove the odd angle.”

“Guinevere?” asked Reid, not able to hold it in.

“Yes… No. Wait. What?”

“Oh come on, Arthur,” said Reid slyly, “I remember you at university.”

“Not funny, my companion,” responded Arthur, placing his hand on Reid’s shoulder.

“But seriously, what brings the king of England to Texas?”

“Seriously, I’m looking for Lancelot. I heard there was a jousting tournament here and I came looking.”

“I see. Care to help me find out why someone here would try to bring the dead to life?”

“Lead the way, my friend.”

Reid stepped back and pushed the shield icon on his phone. The clouds grew dark overhead. The wind picked up. The familiar vortex of fire erupted from the beneath him. As the cyclone ended Reid was gone and the great warrior from the Trojan War remained, clad in his battle armor and weaponry.

“Come, friend Arthur, let us find the evil that threatens the mortal world.”

The two men entered the capitol through the north lobby. It was empty,excepting security, as was to be expected on a Sunday. The walked through the hall into the Rotunda under the dome. On the floor was a unique symbol. Surrounding the symbol of the Republic of Texas is the symbols of the US, Spain, France, Mexico and the Confederacy–the nations who have been sovereign over Texas. A strange liquid was pooling on the Star of Texas.

Achilles approached the pool and knelt down, setting his spear on the floor beside him. He reached his hand out and dipped his finger in it. Bringing his finger to his nose he smelled it. Then out of curiosity, he tasted it. He knew what it was: the blood of a god. But which god?

Arthur placed a hand on Achilles, “Achilles, my escort, look.”

He followed Arthur’s gaze upward, into the capitol dome. There they saw a human figure, arms tied at the ankles and wrists in a crucifix position. Impaled through his abdomen was a blade of some kind. The human’s body was still emanating a golden glow, fading like a hot lightbulb slowly cooling down.

“This is where Apollo has disappeared to,” sighed Achilles. In the Trojan War, Apollo was Achilles enemy and favored the Trojans. Achilles even desecrated Apollo’s temple during the assault on the city. But that didn’t mean that Achilles couldn’t come to respect the god after the war had ended. Achilles old friend, rage, began to well up within him. Who would dare to kill a god?

“Do you like my work, hehehe?” came a voice from the South Lobby.

Achilles and Arthur looked up to see a man in a black suit with a green tie on a striped shirt. On his back was a quiver full of arrows and in his right hand was a bow. He was a handsome, fit man, not lacking in any confidence. He was in his late twenties, with thick black hair. He had always said it was his fifth best feature. And he was a well known politician in both Texas and America.

“He struggled at first. But, uh, I had some help,” the man said.

“Governor Oscar Kelly, “said Arthur, taking his hand and pressing his lips against it,” It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”

“What are you doing here, Governor?” asked Achilles.

“I work here…sort’a,” Kelly began. “But you mean right now. Yuh see, I killed Apollo with Ares’ sword. He was in a pendulum trap like that story about the Ravens.”

“Yes, I know who wrote that story. Sir Edgar Allen Poe. Fantastic gentleman. Stayed the weekend at Camelot. I loved him exceedingly,” exclaimed Arthur.

“Right…” replied Kelly cautiously, not knowing how to interpret Arthur. “When you stopped our cyber attack in Missouri the sword, which was the end of the pendulum, dropped and impaled him to death.”

“So, that turn-coat Ares is helping you?” asked Achilles.

“That’s right. He delivered Apollo to Chronos to set into motion our plan. I was promised to take his place when we’re done. But first I needed to get financing for the plan. Since I’m a good-looking guy from Texas I thought I’d run for governor and just use their money. Hehehe.”

Achilles grabbed his spear and charged at Kelly, roaring a spine-tingling roar that would drown out a lion. Kelly quickly drew an arrow and lined up a shot on the bow. As Achilles closed the gap he saw that his enemy’s weapon was Apollo’s bow and arrows. Kelly fired but Achilles blocked the shot with his shield. The arrow barely penetrated the shield. Achilles raised the spear high over his head and thrusted it downward, impaling Kelly in the chest.

Kelly stumbled backwards, the spear going clean through. He fell on his back, the spear sticking into the floor. All momentum from the blow was stopped. But the blood coagulating around the wound lubricated the shaft of the spear causing Kelly to slide down the weapon onto the floor.

Achilles turned to see an unholy fear laying siege to Arthur’s face, “What? Monologues really piss me off.”

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~ by hankimler on July 18, 2013.

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