The Throne Of The Universe

Vesta has to physically restrain Noriko Null from jumping in front of the Nine Gods and stage a protest. She has reasons to be worried: Hera just proposed to make using Drylon technology a capital crime, and since there’s a Drylon device inside her brain it’s effectively a death sentence.

Luckily Hera can’t cast her vote, since the throne of the Olympian Galaxy belongs to Zeus, and Ereshkigal is also absent from the assembly. But it still leaves her fate to the whims of seven gods.

Isis is the first to state her opinion:

I would have never thought that the security of the Nine Galaxies would be endangered by the works of mortals. However, when a single mortal can kill three gods with the Nexus and wreak havoc on half her galaxy with the Heart Of The Universe, stricter laws are necessary. I vote yes.

As do I. What is happening to my brother’s realm is a shame – Poseidon adds.

Don’t be so hasty, brother. I share Hera’s push for reform, but this motion is too extreme: there may come a day when we need to use Drylon weapons again, and since these devices can’t be used by us gods, mortals still serve a purpose. I vote no – Hades explains.

-I agree: we created mortals for a reason. I also vote no – Marduk adds.

-Sure whatever, I vote no as well. Only Olympian gods were killed, so who cares – Inanna shrugs.

I abssstain. We are done, unlesss Ra decidess to speak – Nepthys hisses, looking at the oldest of the present gods. The others wait for the gold statue of Ra to speak. He doesn’t.

Hera shifts uncomfortably on her husband’s throne. She tries to keep her cool, but it’s pretty clear that she’s upset about her failure. Especially since she’s the one who has to admit:

-Two votes for, three votes against, two abstentions and two absences: the motion does not pass.-

The mortal spectators are relieved by the result: Quantum high fives Vesta, then tries to do the same with Torn… who just stares at the palm of his friend’s hand.

-I don’t know why I even try anymore – Quantum shrugs.

-You seem uncharacteristically gloomy – Tyche tells Noriko.

-One vote. I haven’t been killed by one vote: if Ereshkigal or Zeus decided to show up, I’d be a dead woman – Noriko says, the harsh reality of her lack of power hitting her.

-Only if both had voted yes. If there’s a tie, motions at the Assembly don’t pass.

I want to propose a motion to the Assembly as well – Isis says, standing up to make herself even more dramatic. And she’s looking directly at the spectators, which isn’t good at all.

The Olympian Galaxy is in chaos. Demeter, Hephaestus and Selene may have been killed, but their deaths are only a symptom. As we speak, a quarter of the galaxy doesn’t answer to any god but they are instead ruled directly by mortals! Clearly, this must not be allowed: I propose to enforce divine rule on all the Nine Galaxies, and destroy all worlds that refuse to swear allegiance to us.

“Yes, not good at all” – Noriko thinks, biting her lower lip.

-If I may speak to the Assembly on this matter – Tyche interrupts her. Noriko watches her walk to the center of the room, surrounded by the thrones of the Nine Gods.

She may be an ally, but she hasn’t earned Noriko’s trust yet… there’s too much of her father Hermes in her. This could be Tyche’s chance to prove her worth.

I ask the Assembly to allow her – Hades assists her.

-It’s true, the Mortal Alliance now rules territories that once belonged to Demeter, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Persephone, Artemis and Hermes. But I am also a ruling goddess of my own right, and mortals of my kingdom have chosen me as their legitimate ruler. And I am not the only goddess to enjoy the popular vote: Athena also rules by consent, and Aphrodite is loved by all her subjects.

-I bet she is – Inanna snickers.

Mortals cannot tell gods what to do! – Poseidon objects.

-That is not my point, great-uncle. I admit that I wouldn’t have become ruler of my kingdom without the help of mortals, but what does this prove? That when gods enjoy the support of their subjects, their potential is truly limitless! Mortals have a purpose, and this assembly just confirmed that with its last ruling. I urge this assembly to take this into consideration with their votes.

-She’s good. She just turned the assembly’s previous vote against the next – Noriko whispers to Vesta, who is following the proceedings just as nervous as her.

A compelling argument, young goddess. But I still vote to enforce divine rule – Isis quickly shuts her down. Strangely enough, there’s not resentment in her voice, or maybe it’s just the different way of acting: a Greek goddess would’ve have reprimanded her for her insolence.

I alssso vote yesss. What doess Ra think of thiss? – Nephthys asks to the golden statue.

Once again, the other gods give the golden statue a chance to express his vote.

Ra doesn’t say a word.

-Are we even sure that guy’s awake? – Quantum asks, ignored by the others.

-I don’t usually agree with the Egyptians, but the Isis proposal makes much more sense than Hera’s; we are gods and should be treated as such by all mortals. I vote yes – Marduk says.

There’s no passion in his voice: this is just procedure for him. Inanna, on the other hand, crosses her legs and caresses her chin as she studies the mortals before her.

-I don’t know, it would be interesting to see where things are going. I vote no. Besides, it’s a Greek problem now: if things don’t turn out the way we want, they’re the ones to get burned. We can always slaughter the mortals later.

You must be mad, all of you! Just entertaining the idea of mortal rule is against everything we stand for! They should all be… what? – Poseidon says, interrupting his speech to listen to what Hera is now whispering in his ear.

-This is bad: he’s going to vote yes, isn’t he? The Mortal Republic can’t fight the Nine Gods, they’ll be annihilated – Vesta worries, literally biting her nails.

I see, that makes sense. I vote against the Isis motion – Poseidon says.

-What? Why did she tell him to change his mind? – Noriko asks aloud.

-Politics. The motion would damage all three Greek galaxies – Tyche explains.

-What? Why?

-It would cause a major divine war in the Olympian Galaxy, the last thing Hera wants. We’re lucky she has enough influence over her brother to sway his vote.

-I don’t like having the fate of billions of lives to depend on “luck” – Noriko objects.

-Well, that’s what you get when you have the goddess of destiny as an ally – Tyche answers.

-I don’t need destiny – Null replies defiantly, walking towards the thrones.

-What are you doing!? – Tyche asks her, but she’s too afraid of the Nine Gods to get too close.

Noriko instead marches towards the center of the room, surrounded by all-powerful gods twice her size; only those who know her well notice her hesitation to speak up.

What do you want, child? Gods are talking here – Isis belittles her.

-Let’s make a deal – Null proposes, her silver eyes shining to prove her authority.

-Why should we even listen to this mortal? – Hera asks.

I will allow her to speak to the Assembly – Hades concedes. Vesta wasn’t kidding: he’s the best and probably only ally in the Nine Gods. Noriko starts to explain:

-Alright, I won’t pretend to know everything about inter-galactic politics, but it seems to me that you guys value long-term stability above all else. I also take it that the current system is specifically designed to avoid a major war between pantheons, and that you’ve come to realize that the instability of the Olympian Galaxy will inevitably reach your kingdoms.

You are correct. What you have ssstarted will doom all mortalsss – Nephthys says, nodding.

-Not necessarily. The Olympian Galaxy is like a feudal state: all the various gods ruling parts of it are simply vassals to Zeus, who according to the rules of the Nine Gods is its legitimate ruler.

-That’s right: everything in the galaxy is private property of my husband, including you and your little planet – Hera gloats, playing right into Noriko’s hands.

-Thank you for pointing that out, Hera: by your own admission, mortals aren’t violating any law regarding divine rule, because we’re still technically being ruled by Zeus.

-Zeus can’t hold a galaxy stable alone. It’s the entire reason why he uses vassals – Marduk says.

-Then there’s a very simple solution to all our problems. I propose a motion to the Assembly of the Nine Gods: should mortal kingdoms of the Olympian Galaxy be recognized as vassals of Zeus? – Noriko says, provoking an uproar: the gods starts talking at the same time.

A mortal cannot propose a motion!!! – Isis objects.

-We should never had allowed this mortal to speak to us – Marduk adds, shaking his head.

Absolutely not! No mortal can ever be appointed a vassal to my brother!!! – Poseidon protests.

-Such arrogance will NOT go unpunished!!! – Hera shouts; by the look on her face, she’s ready to disintegrate Noriko on the spot.

Anyone else would be terrified by now. Noriko, instead, smiles as she points her finger at Poseidon.

-There! We have our first vote. What do the rest of you think? – she asks.

What are you talking about?

-Poseidon has just voted “no”. C’mon, is everyone else going to abstain? – Noriko insists.

Of courssse he ssaid no! No god would never agree to ssuch a ludicrouss thing!

-Does that include you, Nephtys?

Certainly!!!

-Thank you, that makes two votes. How about the others? – Noriko insists.

-What is she doing!? – Vesta asks herself.

-She’s playing the crowd – Tyche realizes. Her jaw dropped: centuries of careful planning to get herself noticed by the Nine Gods, and Null is playing with them like a used car salesman!

-It’s not a bad idea, actually. I vote yes – Inanna intervenes.

-Are you mad, sister? Even if we accepted a mortal to propose a motion, I’d vote no – Marduk says.

Enough hypothetical questions. You may not accept Null’s proposal to be up for a vote, but I want to ask the same question to the Assembly: you may consider the proposal as mine. And I vote yes, because restoring order in the Olympian Galaxy is too important – Hades says.

-You can’t do that!!! We can’t legitimize those inferior creatures!!! – Hera insists.

You have no say in the matter, sister/wife of Zeus. When a god kills another god he has the right to inherit his domain by right of conquest: that is the law of the Nine Galaxies. Our previous vote established that mortals have a role in the universe: our next will define what it is. And if we must follow the rules of the Nine Gods, then whoever conquers a god must inherit not only his rights, but also his duties, including being a vassal. I approve the motion promoted by Null, daughter of Bob.

-I will remember this vote and your arrogance, Isis, believe me. But it’s of no use: three votes for, three against, two absent and one abstaining – Hera says, and it’s clear from the way she’s staring at Noriko that she plans to make her pay for her hubris. But then the entire building shakes.

-YES.

The voice hits with the force of a hurricane, easily pushing Noriko across the room; only Quantum moving at the speed of light saves her from a nasty blow to the head.

-What the heck was that!? – he says.

That was Ra’s voice. His first spoken word in the last three hundred thousand years – Isis clarifies.

-That means we win, right? Four votes against three? – Quantum asks, helping Noriko to stand up.

Then it gets cold. A thick black fog comes out of nowhere, flowing through the room.

-Of course not. Why can’t things be easy, just for once? – she complains.

The darkness coalesces into a female figure, taking her seat at one of the nine thrones. Her pitch black skin and dress merge together, with her silhouette barely visible thanks to the red embroidery. She’s the mirror image of Innana: black skin and white hair. They have the same fiery red eyes.

-Thank you for your presence, Ereshkigal – Hera greets her.

Silence – Ereshkigal tells her. Her stern voice is enough to shut up the Queen of the Galaxy.

I know well who you are, Null. You are too smart to think we would accept you as a goddess.

-That’s not what I’m trying to… – Noriko tries to answer. She hesitates, then her eyes shine.

-Actually, now that I think about it, that’s precisely what I’m trying to say. I am a goddess.

-Nori, what are you doing!? – Vesta tries to reason with her, but she’s interrupted by Ereshkigal.

Then prove it and I will vote for mortal rule. Fail, and I shall kill you where you stand.



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