An Old Friend 7

"What?" Rev Bem protested, his eye wide in shock. "Dylan, you can't be serious! I don't have the power to do that. I'm not a God! How am I supposed to do this miracle?"

"Trust me, Rev. With a little help from the right person you can do miracles. Just be ready. But first I need to talk to another old friend." Dylan started to pace up and back between the glass coffins. He glared up at the ceiling, his nostrils flared. "Michael! Where are you? I know you're up there! Get down here!"

Harper inched over to Aphrodite his eyes open very wide. He ogled her transparent pink dress and his tongue nearly reached his boots. "WOW! I mean, hi. What's a beautiful Goddess like you doing in a place like this?"

"Oh, please!" Aphrodite rolled her eyes, her arms crossed over her ample bosom. "Are you using that old line? That is like so third century! Can't you think of anything more original? You can't, huh? Hmmmm, well, Hephy is my husband and with any luck I'll have him back soon."

"You're married?!" Harper asked in surprise. His face fell but he snapped right back. "But he's dead, right? So you're single really, unless Dylan's plan really works and Rev can wake him up, but that's such a long shot. I mean, that can't really happen, can it?"

Aphrodite smiled at him. "It's happened before, to some of my good friends. I believe Hercules can do this. He's always been there for me."

"So you're saying there's no chance for us as a couple? Please please please don't say no!" Harper pleaded, his hands together in front of his chest. "I never met anyone like you before! It's love at first site!"

"Sweety, you're mortal. In a few decades you'll be dead." Aphrodite explained to him. She walked over to Ares and started to talk quietly with her brother. The two of them always got along very well with each other, better than with the rest of their large family.

"Oh man! She rejected me!" Harper cried as he spun around on one foot, his hand over his eyes.

"What did you expect?" Tyr stated as he leaned against a wall, his arms folded over his chest. "She is a Goddess. She does not belong to your social class or mine. I am more interested in knowing who this Michael person is."

"Ah, who cares about that?" Harper mumbled. He was disappointed. Aphrodite was without a doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever seen! She was perfect! Those eyes, that hair, that curvy body, those legs! And a real Goddess to boot! Wow! Harper rubbed his chin and his eyes brightened. "I know! I bet she's playing hard to get! Yeah, that's it. No woman born can forget me."

"That's true." Becka agreed. "You won't let them forget."

"I agree with that." Rommie said from her place next to Becka. The two were sticking close together. This entire situation seemed strange to say the least. And now Dylan was shouting to some invisible person and they were worried he had cracked up. They watched with increasing concern as he waved his hands in the air, calling for this Michael.

"Come on, you coward! Show yourself!" Dylan shouted as he glared at the ceiling. "I know you can hear me, so don't pretend you can't."

A white ball of light appeared near the ceiling and slowly spiraled down towards the floor. It stopped at chest height and the light expanded. After a moment, a man with short blonde hair appeared. He wore a bronze chest plate and carried a long sword in one hand. One major difference everyone noticed was the huge feathery wings that stuck out of his back. The wing tips almost brushed the floor and the curved top part was high above his shoulders. The feathers themselves were dark blue, almost black. He stood up straight, his head held high. He was Michael the Archangel. "Who are you to summon me, Hercules? Speak."

"Michael, you're just the guy I wanted to see." Hercules moved so he was standing in front of the Archangel. "Look, I need Hephaestus and the other Olympians revived. I know you can do it."

"The Olympians had their time and it is past." Michael stated. "Mankind had outgrown their need for them. You yourself agreed to this many years ago or have you forgotten? If I remember correctly, you considered your Godly relatives nothing but pests that interfered in the lives of mortals. Is this not true?"

"Yes, that's true." Dylan sighed. His blue eyes focused on Michael's, his gaze unwavering. He had to make the Archangel understand! So many lives hung in the balance. "But I never really understood my Godly relatives. I never took the time to really get to know them, to understand their jobs. I admit sometimes I was selfish and close-minded in those days. Everything revolved around me or so I thought. Having never really spent any time on Olympus, how could I know the importance of their jobs, the efect their deaths would have on the planet? They really were ruling the universe, well, the Earth anyway and we need them back."

"Mankind had outgrown them centuries ago." Michael repeated. "The time for everything comes to an end and it was their time. The Fates themselves said so."

"And who told the Fates? You? Your God? Could it be you were getting rid of the competition so you could have all the worshippers?" Dylan asked, his voice rose in anger. "You once sent me back to Earth to do what I do best: help people. That's what I'm trying to do now, help the mortals not only on Earth but also across the galaxy. All of my Godly relatives keep saying I'm the Champion of Mortals. I think it was Zeus who first gave me the title. Well, I need Hephaestus to fix my ship. Without my ship, I can't restore the Commonwealth. The Andromeda IS the Commonwealth. She's more than a ship; she's a symbol of hope. The people, all the people across the galaxy, need to see her, to know that we are out there restoring justice to a galaxy gone insane. And I can't do that without Hephaestus. My brother is no threat to you. Hephaestus is a good man. He always was. He's content to spend days working in his forge but he's more than that to mortals. He's the inventor, he gives mankind ideas for new creations, new machines. In this dark age we need his light."

"Very well, Hercules. You have convinced me to restore Hephaestus." Michael told him. "We of the Light approve of the work you have been doing. We have watched you and be assured your place among us is secure. Tell me why the others are needed. Their rule was petty and cruel."

"Yes, sometimes it was. But like I said earlier I didn't know the full scope of their duties. The mortals on Earth need them more than ever. Just look at the Earth!" Dylan outstretched his arms, pleading with Michael to understand. The Archangel seemed so businesslike, so uncaring. That's one thing he never liked about that group, the fact that they were emotionless. At least with his family they were open; you could read their feelings right on their face. But this group hid them. Everything with the Divine was Rules and Regulations. He remembered the time Iolaus had told him how strict they were. "The Earth I thought your group was going to take care of! Why didn't the Light take the duties of the dead Gods? You have their worshippers."

"That is not our responsibility." Michael explained matter-of-factly. "We gave Man free choice. Man may do as he wishes. If he chooses to destroy his world with pollution and wars and what may be, that is his choice. He must live with it."

"Michael, you know that's not fair!" Dylan insisted, his blue eyes full of rage caused by injustice. His hands closed into fists and he attempted to rein in his anger. He was so close to beating some sense into the self-righteous angel. "A handful of people ruin the world for everyone! You know that! It's always been that way. You say Love is the Way, but is that how the Light shows its love for mortals? By forcing them to live like that, on a broken planet? The mortals on Earth need the dead Olympians to resume their duties to fix this mess your Light caused. Or are you truly threatened by a handful of dead Gods?"

"They are mere Godlings. We of the Light fear them not." Michael replied as he strolled through the room, glancing at the dust-covered coffins. His long white robes brushed the floor as did his wingtips. "But there is the little matter of their behavior. We cannot have them subjecting mankind to their will. That time has past."

"Look, they can change! Hera proved that to me." Dylan followed Michael through the room. He wasn't about to give up yet. "Hera always hated me with a vengeance. She hated me for the sole reason that I was born. But her time in Tartarus changed her. In the end, she gave up her life to save Xena and her baby. Just think, the all-powerful Queen of the Gods giving up her life so I could save a mere mortal and her child! The Gods can change if you give them a chance."

Aphrodite stepped forward and her voice echoed through the room. "When I lost my powers and became mortal, all the love went out of the world. No one loved anyone during that time. They couldn't even feel friendship or care for each other. It's the same with the other Gods gone. Our Pantheon is broken and it's the mortals below who's paying the price."

"And Hercules is right. Gods CAN change. I'm living proof of that." Ares told Michael. "I gave up my Godhood centuries ago to save Xena, Gabrielle and Eve. I didn't have to but I did. And I did it because of love. Yeah, the God of War had fallen head over heels in love with a mortal. My heart died with her that first time, when I had sealed Xena and Gabrielle in that ice cave. I had mourned her for years after that, not knowing they were both alive. When I saw them alive, I had determined I would never loose her again. And I didn't."

Ares held out his arm and a woman appeared in a flash of blue-white light. She had blue eyes and short blonde hair. She wore a red-brown top that left her stomach bare. Leather fringe with silver studs dangled from the top's bottom edge against her bare skin. The matching short skirt was also red and brown. Silver gauntlets circled her wrists and a leather cord choker with silver accents circled her neck. Sais was tucked into her brown leather boots. A silver sword earring, an exact match to the one Ares wore in his ear, hung from her earlobe. She leaned against Ares' side and the War God wrapped his arm around her.

"Gabrielle?" Dylan asked in surprise. "You're a Goddess now?"

"She's my wife." Ares stated. "Surprised, Little Brother? I told you I changed."

"Yeah, he did change." Another woman said as she appeared out of the air. She had long black hair and blue eyes that glared angrily at Michael. It was obvious from her expression she knew the Archangel and didn't like him at all. She wore black leather: a leather top covered by a metal breastplate and a metal studded leather skirt. Metal gauntlets were on her wrists and armbands on her upper arms. Black boots completed her outfit. A sword handle poked out over her shoulder and her chakrom hung on her belt. She drew her sword and stepped towards Michael. "And you better listen to Hercules. If he wants those dead Gods back, you better bring them back. I don't care if you took away my God-Killing Powers, I'll still skewer you on my sword so you better listen to him."

"Xena? You're a Goddess, too?" Dylan asked, his mouth hanging open. "When did all of this happen?" "Why Hercules! I couldn't become a Goddess without Xena!" Gabrielle laughed.

"This is amazing!" Dylan cried. He hurried over to hug his old friends he hadn't seen in centuries. "I didn't expect to ever see either of you ever again and here you are part of the family! This is fantastic! Is anyone else I know going to appear?"

"You better do as they say!" A woman's voice spoke. It had the unmistakable sound of authority.

Dylan turned to see who it was. He didn't recognize the voice at all. He saw a young woman in a brown robe with long wavy brown hair. She poked Michael with a finger on his chest plate. Her blue eyes sparkled with such intensity.

"OH, very well." Michael finally agreed with a wave of his hand. "You may have all of your Gods back. You have all convinced me with your words. You truly are doing what you were born to do, Hercules. Don't ever stop."

Michael walked until he stood behind Rev Bem. The Archangel's body faded out until it became semi-transparent. He placed his hand over Rev's. A white glow appeared under their hands on Hephaestus's forehead. Seconds later Hephaestus opened his dark eyes and sat up in confusion. He blinked at the crowd of people around him and the glass box he was sitting inside. He saw Hercules and waved at him happily.

"Hercules, brother! It's good to see you!"