A/N: Here's another chapter for you. I don't think I'm going to get this story finished this year, but I'm going to try to finish it next year.
Atlanta raced down the path through the park enjoying the feeling of the wind in her hair as she ran. She tried to get out for a run whenever she could it cleared her head and invigorated her. She didn't run as fast as she had back in the days when she was a hero, she hadn't done that in a long time. She still could, she'd tried it once just to see if it was possible, but she didn't make a habit of it. There was no reason to anymore.
Atlanta thought about her hero days occasionally, and she still kept in touch with her old friends. They got together sometimes to reminisce, and to talk about their lives now. Everyone was doing well. Odie had a job designing video games. Herry had taken over running his parents' farm. Neil had gone from being a super model to being a world famous actor, and, to no one's surprise, Jay and Theresa had gotten married and had a family. As for Archie, he and Atlanta had tried to make things work, but despite their best efforts their marriage had ended in divorce.
We gave it our best shot, Atlanta thought, but I guess we were just too different.
Although, she supposed it was more accurate to say that they were too similar. Stubbornness was one trait that they definitely shared, and it had caused problems for them more than once. They'd tried to compromise, but that had only led to resentment.
We both wanted our own way all the time, Atlanta reflected, and we both got angry when we had to give way, even a little bit.
At least they'd managed to keep things civil for the sake of their friendships, and their kids.
We always did our best to avoid putting them in the middle, Atlanta remembered.
The kids were grown-up now, but they kept in touch. Sometimes, Atlanta wished that she and Archie had managed to stay together for their children's sake, but deep down she knew they'd made the right decision.
It wouldn't have been fair to let them grow up in a house where their parents were always fighting, Atlanta thought.
Thinking about Archie led to her thinking more about her friends and all the things they'd done together. Fighting against Cronus had been a long and difficult struggle, one that, at times, had seemed like it would never end. Then it had, and seven people who'd spent the better part of two years together suddenly found themselves returning to the lives they'd put on hold while they saved the world.
I think that was the hardest part, Atlanta mused, trying to pick up where we left off. That and learning to live apart after spending so much time together.
Atlanta suspected that part of the problem was that they were no longer the same people they'd been before they fought Cronus. They had changed, grown up, become more mature than their peers, and they knew about the existence of things most people thought were myths. It was difficult to return to an ordinary life after living an extraordinary life for so long.
It didn't help that our families had no idea what we'd really been doing while we were gone, Atlanta thought.
They'd all kept in touch via email after returning home, and one of the things they'd all commented on was their families. It was obvious to all of them that their parents could tell that something had happened during the months they were gone, and that they didn't necessarily believe whatever they'd been told to explain their children's absences.
My parents definitely suspected something, Atlanta remembered. They were always asking questions, and my answers never seemed to satisfy them.
After conferring with her friends, Atlanta had learned that their parents were behaving in a similar way. The seven of them knew they had to maintain whatever illusions Hermes had constructed for their parents, but it wasn't easy.
They kept asking for details, Atlanta recalled, and if we hesitated when we answered them, we could tell that they were suspicious, but we couldn't tell them the truth.
None of their parents would have believed them if they'd told them what had really happened. Atlanta could almost picture her parents' reactions to the knowledge that she was the descendant of an ancient Greek hero, and that she and six others had spent the past several months fighting a god.
They would have thought I was kidding, Atlanta thought, or that I was crazy.
It was hard keeping such a big part of their lives a secret, and Atlanta sometimes wondered how they would have handled the situation if they hadn't had each other.
It would have been much harder, she reflected, having a secret you couldn't talk about with anyone.
Eventually, the questions had stopped, which had come as a relief. Atlanta still had no idea if her parents had accepted the story that Hermes had told them or if they'd accepted that they would never know the truth about that time in their daughter's life. After talking to her friends, Atlanta had learned that their parents had also stopped questioning them, and that, like her, they had no idea why.
We didn't really care either, Atlanta remembered. We were just glad that they weren't questioning us all the time.
After that, things had basically returned to normal. Atlanta had done her best to live her life as if the battle with Cronus had never happened, and she knew her friends had done the same.
It wasn't easy, Atlanta reflected, but we did our best.
Contact between the seven of them had become less frequent over the years as they all moved on with their separate lives.
We got busy, Atlanta recalled, it was bound to happen eventually.
Deciding it was time to take a break Atlanta stopped running, and took a seat on a nearby bench. It was just starting to get dark and as she looked up at the sky, Atlanta remembered someone else, someone she hadn't thought about for years.
I wonder what Artemis is doing these days, she thought.
Atlanta didn't think much about her former mentor anymore. After the war with Cronus had first ended, she and her friends had learned that Odie and Hermes still kept in touch. At first, she and the others had asked him to send messages to their mentors too, but after a while, they'd stopped. Atlanta had anyway. She didn't know if the others continued to correspond with their mentors, but she'd decided not to keep sending messages to Artemis. It was easier to move on with her life if she didn't focus so much on the past. Keeping in touch with her friends was one thing, but she'd felt like adding Artemis to the list was too much.
Besides the gods have probably forgotten us by now, Atlanta reasoned. It wasn't like we really mattered to them.
Perhaps that wasn't entirely true or fair. The gods had rescued them from Cronus' minions, and given them a safe place to live and train. They'd provided weapons and knowledge as well, but they'd done it because they'd needed Atlanta and the others to defeat Cronus for them.
They couldn't fight their own battles, Atlanta reflected, so they recruited us to do it instead.
Not that they'd had much of a choice if they hadn't joined the gods' team Cronus would have destroyed them without hesitation. It hadn't mattered to him what the seven young heroes wanted, all he'd cared about was the prophecy.
If he'd just left us alone our lives would have been so different, Atlanta mused, but he never would have taken the chance that we'd change our minds about fighting him.
Of course, it wasn't only Cronus that they'd dealt with a few of the gods' errors in judgement had popped up too. Atlanta shook her head as she remembered the trouble Arachne had caused trouble they could have avoided if Athena had been less harsh. It wasn't only Athena's past actions that had caused problems, but the incident with Arachne stood out a little more clearly in Atlanta's mind probably because Arachne had hypnotized her into betraying her friends.
Another memory rose to the surface, and Atlanta tipped her head back to look at the sky again. Unfortunately, she couldn't see the stars. She knew Orion was up there though, even if she couldn't see him. She got to her feet, and started jogging again. It was time to head home.
As she made her way home, Atlanta thought about her encounter with Orion. It had been a unique experience even among all the strange things that had happened to her, and her friends, during their time battling Cronus.
I guess we were lucky that Cronus chose to call Orion down from the heavens and not Leo or Scorpio, Atlanta thought. At least I was able to reason with him.
Although, in some ways a straight up fight with a lion or a scorpion might have been easier than dealing with an infuriated hunter who was determined to kill her. Fortunately, Atlanta had succeeded in convincing him to return to the night sky.
Then I had to return to the school and tell Artemis what had happened, Atlanta recollected.
That had been difficult too. Now that she thought about it, Atlanta realized that her earlier assumption that the gods had forgotten about her and her friends might not be true. After all, Artemis still thought about Orion centuries after his death. She'd cared about him so much she'd even put his picture in the sky so she could see him every night. Maybe the gods did care about the mortals who'd passed through their lives over the years.
It couldn't have been easy for them though, Atlanta reflected, allowing themselves to forge even the most casual relationships with mortals knowing how those relationships would inevitably end.
Perhaps it was just as well that she'd decided not to keep in touch with Artemis. Her former mentor might prefer it that way. It probably made it easier for her to move on.
Soon, Atlanta reached the apartment building she called home. As she headed inside, she decided she'd watch some television before dinner. When she flipped on the TV, she was just in time to catch a news report about a newly discovered constellation.
Atlanta listened spellbound as a reporter described an astronomer's discovery of a previously unknown constellation in the sky near Orion. It seemed no one knew quite what to make of it. How could a constellation have gone unnoticed in an area of the sky that so many people looked at on a regular basis? No one had any answers to that question, but apparently, they did have a name for the new constellation.
They called it the Huntress.
They'd chosen the name because of the figure's proximity to Orion, but no one was certain whom it represented. Most constellations depicted figures from various mythologies, but no one could find any mention of a woman that matched the characteristics of the constellation in any mythology. Of course, it was difficult to identify someone when the only information you had was an outline made of stars.
When they put a picture of the constellation on the screen, however, Atlanta recognized it instantly.
That's me, she realized shocked. That's me!
There was only one explanation, Artemis. Artemis must have decided to put her image in the sky beside Orion, but why?
She must really miss me, Atlanta decided. Why else would she turn me into a constellation?
It was what Artemis had done for Orion, so it made sense.
Later that evening, while she sat eating dinner, Atlanta made a decision. She would send Odie an email, and ask him to put her back in touch with Artemis. She didn't know if he'd be able to, but it was worth a try.
Artemis had placed her picture in the sky Atlanta figured she could at least try to reach out to her. Suddenly, keeping in touch didn't seem like such a big deal after all.
A/N: I'm not sure when I'll have the next chapter out, but I'll try not to take too long. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, here's hoping that 2021 will be less of a gong show than 2020.