Prometheus’ children, Deucalion and Pyrrha were hobbling this way and that, weeping and wailing, their hopes dashed by the failed mission of The Three. Despite stiffness and weary bones, they clawed up rock after rock to throw over their shoulders: new people, new soldiers for an assault on Olympus. Seeing how slow they were, others began gathering rocks too, and soon a pile of ammunition rose up higher than Pyrrha’s head. The giants brought boulders – impossible to throw, but a measure of the size and weight of their rage.
It was Prometheus. He looked down at the sea of milling mortals new-made, blinking and clueless in the moonlight, and he begged his children to stop.
“But Father! They are your army of liberation! We shall field an army of thousands – tens of thousands! As many as there are stones in the ground! The Olymps will think the whole world has risen up against them!”
“NO!” Prometheus writhed against his restraints, though he had long since learned never to do so, for the nails tore at his hands. “Did I use all the skill in these my two hands to make Humankind from clay, only to see them smashed?”
“No, Father, but…” His children’s stricken eyes wandered from his face to his pierced hands.
“Why did I steal fire, sooner than see Humanity shiver in the cold? Why did I suffer this torment for valuaing mortals above the heartless gods?”
The stones fells with a clatter from old Pyrrha’s bony hands and lay at her feet devoid of magic.
“Because I loved them, don’t you understand?”
Talos set Panacea down on the ground. The cyclopses stopped sharpening weapons.
“Look at them, poor creatures! They are mortal. They are fragile. They break. Send mortals against the Immortals? It would be throwing water against rocks.”
Deucalion gestured towards the motley assortment of shapes and sizes and colours and cuts of men and women still lacking speech or learning, still awaiting an explanation for finding themselves where they did. They were only the crudest creatures, Deucalion pointed out - nothing like those delicate, clever ones Prometheus had sculpted before the Flood. These creatures were just to bulk out the army of Monstro. Yes, they would be killed, but they would not much mind, and the Cause was just.
Was this the moment when, in the dark, Thoősa took Hylas’ hand and found it as cold as hers?
“Oh am I their Cause now?” cried Prometheus. “What did I ever do to merit that? Because of my gift of fire, Zeus loosed on them all the evils and hardship in the world – all packed up as a wedding gift to my sister-in-law Pandora. So much for Prometheus, Friend of Humanity! I will not see you create lives only to empty them of joy or hope. I forbid it, children. Not one more stone!”
Was this the moment when Hylas’s rage paused for breath and the red mist blew away?
Typhon spat at Prometheus, with fifty mouths. “What are mortals to us, spatchcock man?” he blared. “This war is between gods! Titans and Olymps. Mortals are the sand I’ll throw in Zeus’s eyes. Mortals are the firewood I’ll burn him on! World’s full of stones. I’ll people my world with ‘em when I’m Lord of the Universe; have ‘em working my fields, mining my mines, prettying my altars, composting my soil with their little, brittle bones. Hang here at Zeus’s say-so, and when I’m Lord of the World, you can hang here at mine, you arrogant little mud-moulder. What’s it to me that the gods nailed you to the wall and tore you gutless?”
Was this the moment when Xyno decided it was time to take sides? Or was it the moment he resolved to skip as fast and as far from Monstro as his bandy little legs would carry him, grabbing up something of value as he went?
The little fixer-and-fetcher cleared his throat with a bark, and called up to the Prince of Darkness: “Live for ever, Greatest One! Go to hell and back for you, Xyno would. More! Better! Bring the Dead back with me, won’t I? That girl there – that Doctor’s daughter - she can raise up the Dead to Life. No word of a lie. What say I take her, too. Down to the Underworld. Stir up a riot. Make a few promises. The Dead’ll bind Hades to his own wheel of fire and grab his Infernal Regions so tight he’ll squeak. Xyno’ll fetch ‘em here – to fight for Mighty Typhon, right? Make you King of the Downstairs as well as the Up. Dead’d do anyfing for the promise of coming alive again.”
The winged horse stamped its hoofs and whinnied in alarm. Panacea gave a cry of shock. Prometheus groaned like a falling tree. Pythia the Oracle banged the side of her head, looking for some fragment of smoke that might show her how all this would end.
Brass Man Talos quite simply said: “NO”.