This story was originally created for my patrons over on Patreon, and I’ll really never be able to thank them enough.
On the long conference table lay an array of seemingly random objects, most extravagant in their design and execution, all of them expertly crafted by hands whose work has not been see in this world for many centuries. There was an uncomfortable quiet that lingered in the air as hands busied themselves with cheap coffee in avoidance of actual conversation. One man buzzed in and out of the room, a slim fitting grey suit making him stand out in the crowd of professionally if eclectically dressed dignitaries. He slid itineraries in to hands, retrieved memos from others and delivered somewhat diplomatically enhanced voicemails that had been left with the front desk occupied by slender, pretty woman whose resemblance to the young man who was too perfect to not notice. The mother and son argued quietly about a small stack of papers, which he eventually took with a huff and tucked under his arm as his father came around the corner. Everyone changes over time, but the eyepatch had stayed the same, as well as the heavy grey beard, broad shoulders and a presence that preceded him by several yards. When Zeus entered the room, you paid attention.
As soon as he opened the meeting room door that had previously been carefully closed to prying eyes, the tension burst and all of the voices began at once. He walked to the head of the table without seeming to notice the cacophony of angry accusations, age old arguments and please for help that filled the air. The leather of the chair squeaked and groaned as he sat down and leaned back, waiting for his children and subservient demi gods to take their seats. The voices stopped just as quickly as they had started and chairs were shuffled away from the table, coffee cups placed on the ceramic-faux wood surface and itineraries — though hardly needed — fell to the surface with a hissing whoosh.
“Now that we are all behaving as civilized beings, let us begin.” Zeus said. His rich basso held lifetimes of command, and though they may not agree with his decisions, the gods gathered in the board room of a non-descript financial institution who would dissolve its assets within 2 weeks, subsequently disappearing from any important records, would follow his word as law. “Its been a few thousand years since we took stock, and many things have changed. Many of us are thriving.” The door creaked open and Hera made her way in, unconcerned with her lateness. She leaned against the wall opposite of Zeus, her arms crossed and waited for him to continue. “As I was saying, many of us are faring quite well. My lovely Hera, for instance, has benefitted from the popularity of family centered religions over the last few thousand years, and Hermes has continued to benefit from a myriad of modern professions.” From the back a tall woman in a well cut leather jacket said “Yes, well it is lovely that the Goddesses of the home and eternal errand boy have been doing so well, but those of us whose professions have fallen out of favor haven’t been quite so lucky.” The ruler of gods lay a level look at Artemis, who was suddenly exceptionally aware of her lack of bow and wondered how much faster than she the god of war would be if she had to reach for it in the middle of the table. “I was getting to that, Artemis.” He said. He sounded like a slightly overtaxed father mediating a long standing argument between teenagers. He turned his attention to the room at large again. The majority of the faces that looked at him echoed the concerns that his daughter had voiced. He hated to see them like this. He knew what they were when they were born, what they had become in the height of their adoration. To see them quavering at the idea of power lost, immortals now brought so low as to fear death. It was unthinkable.
“Our gods of the hunt, love, grain, industry, have all been floundering in an age that has embraced technology over faith. Even those who unknowingly prostrate themselves at our alters, do so in fewer and fewer numbers, at least in the ways that are important. The gods cannot — will not — be made lapdog to mortal fancy. We were great once, and will be again.” Silence returned to the board room. From the seat nearest him, Apollo dared to say“Those are wonderful words father, but what do we DO? We can’t just force people to worship us.” A sad smile fit itself beneath the lord god’s mustache. “We remove what was dragged us from out thrones. We return them to an age when we were their source of strength. And we reveal ourselves to them, in full, once again.” Hermes snorted. He had slipped in without anyone noticing and the sound startled several of the attendants. “You can’t be serious.” “I am.” Zeus seemed unphased. “Knock all of humanity back thousands of years. Make them repeat everything they’ve gone through already?” Zeus nodded. “We give and we take away. We are immortal, they are fallible. That is the balance of the world.” “Not any more. Look at what they’ve done, at where they have brought themselves.” “To the brink of our extinction.” The edge in Zeus’s voice cut through the room, but Hermes didn’t seem to notice. “You are going to punish them for having grown past us? For having out lived us? ” “Yes. We are.” Hermes’ voice climbed. “For having used what we gave them? This is ludicrous.” “This is survival.” Hermes shook his head, but he had heard that tone in his father’s voice before. There would be no further argument. Zeus stood and crossed to the bay of windows that spanned the conference room. He pressed a button in the wall and the shades, lowered earlier in the day and forgotten as the sun had set, began to rise. “Besides, it has already begun.” All eyes turned to follow Zeus’s gaze over the New York skyline. To the left, building lights began to go out, one by one, window by window, moving through the city slowly at first then gathering speed as if someone had tipped a domino in one burrough and the cascade was making its way through the whole city. Whole buildings went dark now, then blocks, then suddenly the lights over their own heads sputtered and died. There was a frantic scuffle as blind hands grabbed for bows, staves, harps, all piled on the desk. Hermes’ voice croaked “What is this?” There was a crackle and the smell of electricity in the air and Zeus’s face was illuminated by a ball of lighting that rested in his palm. “This, my son, is our time, returned.”