Gretchen looked at her father who had a large scale system diagram floating in the space around him that represented the Traverse ship that was being produced in part in Earth orbit, for the main interior components, with the superstructure being made in the Asteroid belt processing facilities. She watched as he brought in systems, and examined how they fit together and then ran programs over each section to give stress and compression ratios, as well as space field changes due to the PO artificial gravity system.
"Dad, no one knew about the Olympians before that?"
He turned slowly to look at her where she sat on a long stool next to work table that had the readout system still functioning on it.
"I didn't know until just a few days after that," he said with a nod and a shift of his hands to move Traverse schematics out of the way, so that it dimmed out as he stepped through the projection of the ship. "None of them felt it was right for that to be out until they were all able to have a say in it."
She shook her head, blonde hair slightly floating but then coming down slowly as it settled into place. Her blue tunic, black pants and green shoes, fit her form well and she looked to be in an age range between 8 and 10, although Earth standard age measurements were coming to mean little to those who had migrated permanently to space.
"Oh, I see," she said softly, "that was because of Aunt Pallas?"
He smiled as he went to the other side of the table and looked at her through the last of the text floating in the air between them.
"Part of it, yes. The other part, I think, was some hesitation because of the reaction they had gotten separately during prior times on Earth. Some of that is mentioned, I think."
"It is and in the other one, too. I don't understand, though, what it was that Diana saw as wrong."
Pulling up a stool to sit down, he shifted his legs to go around the stalk of the stool and nudge the local gravity up to 90% of Earth normal.
"Gretchen, we can only get some insight from those who interacted with her. The way she lived meant that little in the way of her history was ever put down. Aunt Pallas knew her the best, and her recounting to Marissa is what we now have as a good understanding of what happened to Diana. She is not that different from us, just with certain liabilities added to her fallen status. We are human and have human drives, good and bad, plus those that just come from where we are in life. That is as true of our Olympian kin as it is of us."
"You met her, though, didn't you?"
He smiled at her, nodded.
"Yes, I did and you read about that. And she introduced me to the native peoples and I spent time learning to survive in the area, and listened to their stories and legends," he smiled remember those times, "and when the CME hit, to me it wasn't that strange, at first...but as things went on I realized that my childhood was ending much sooner than was expected because so much needed to be done."
She shifted her head slightly and dimmed the text out and looked confused.
"What is it, Gretchen?"
"Dad, she didn't do anything bad. How could she feel so, I dunno..." she trailed off.
"Responsible?" he asked softly.
"Yeah. I mean she didn't cause the CME, did she?"
He closed his eyes, raised his eyebrows and shrugged, then opened his eyes.
"My daughter, your view of her is not her view of herself. I can't say much that is certain, so I am not telling you that my word carries any weight because...I was too young to really understand all of it."
Gretchen nodded. "OK, dad."
"After what she had done she felt, I think, that she had been responsible for removing some vital part of mankind. The old religions, from what I understand and have been told, had gone corrupt, and the new monotheistic religions were just starting. Perhaps it was a single god using her as a means to wipe the slate clean or maybe she was responsible for the old gods downfall, but they were already in decline as it was. Even after the power to back the religions of old went away, the religions continued on but lost a compelling reason to be."
"Not that part," Gretchen said looking at her father, "but the part here, in the story, with the CME."
"That is a part of it as well, Gretchen. If I try to see it from her way of looking, and I really can't but can imagine it," he said with a smile, "not well, no..."
Gretchen nodded, smiling.
"Then she saw the world as having a natural underpinning and civilization as a veneer, a thin layer, on top of it and that is a brittle layer. A major part of that layer starts with them, and the Greeks and that was centered around Athens and Athena. Marissa traveled far to gather the last stories that were recounted and, I think, had to put some of her own conjecture into them. But if that is part of the way that she works, then she would also see the living presence of Athena as sustaining part of that civilization. Take her so she isn't on Earth and she may be able to regain her memory, but the necessary underpinning of civilization is gone and nature returns. It is a simple way to connect actions and events, and not right at all since it was widely known that something like a CME could happen. Diana knew all that and helped to make sure that enough would be left to help sustain what was left of mankind if worse came to worse."
"Oh," Gretchen said softly, "so she didn't understand the mechanics of it, then?"
Her father chuckled.
"She did! Very well, in fact. I am here and you are here today because she understood it well. This is not a physical cause and effect situation, though, but one that is metaphysical, with links beyond what we can see or know."
Blinking Gretchen looked at her father.
"She was fallen, though," Gretchen whispered.
"Yes she is, Gretchen. She can know that as neither you nor I can, but being fallen means the old ties she had to the metaphysical world were severed. At one time she might have been able to do so, although that is, itself, something that the others say is not so at least in the way we think about it. The sequence and timing of events, to her, would indicate this and in her mind that would put her responsible for the death of the old gods and for the deaths of billions of humans. She was the agent of the first, but not the second though in her mind, who can say how she thought about it or thinks about it still?"
"Will you be joining the expedition to search for her?" Gretchen asked softly.
He leaned forward and looked at her.
"What would you have me do, daughter? It has been a growing question for me since the departure of Cordant and the finishing of Traverse. She should not be out in the wilderness of space as she is with that ship, and those that helped her. Even if that is her natural home that would mean transitioning to being people who only lived on ships and never on an actual world."
"Dad...she is so loving and yet so..."
"...not, you know, flighty or something but...she sees things so differently..."
"Yes she does. And she has honored her vows to those she loves, and all of those who knew her on Earth are now in space. In the making of Cordant they came, and now, even with expanded processing, we also have to build room for those from Earth who are leaving her for good. The ship and those who left on it did so for a reason, but what it is, exactly, none left behind can say. Because of her leaving, those she loved the most are now pushing very hard for the Traverse and the stars. Would people even be thinking of that now if it wasn't for her leaving?"
Gretchen's eyes widened. "You mean she...dad! She wouldn't do this just to get...oh!"
"Remember that Aunt Pallas made a promise to live with her amongst the stars?"
She gasped seeing him smile.
"But that's just so...even Uncle Herman isn't like that! She wouldn't do it for that, would she?"
He shifted back a bit and looked around the room, which was spare as befit a working area.
"Look around you, Gretchen. Isn't that exactly what she did to get us this far?"
"Ohhhh! Uncle Ares is right!" she said with wide eyes and a smile.
"She is the most dangerous Olympian of them all, Gretchen. Now think of the story you just read. If she does have some other reason to get us out of this system, she would push very hard at it but this time not with finances or resources. Mankind nearly failed the last time and it was a near, near thing. I'm sure she couldn't see the future, but she and the other Olympians do know about mankind and our history. Many people want to see the next place, the next hidden spot, or just wander and go beyond the known. But many just want to sit down, settle down and make a stable life for themselves. That is what is going on right now, those who wish to expand here, in the Solar System and those that wish to explore beyond it looking for new homes, and lives of their own. Which do you think I am?"
For a moment Gretchen thought, not seeing her father just thinking about the question, and then she focused on him once more.
"Can I come too?"
"We can ask Aunt Pallas about that, Gretchen. She is Diana's sister, after all."