XXXV: A Venandi

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Orion stared at the console of the small escape pod nestled safely in the barn of their hideout. When he first landed, he had an air of self-assurance born from the dwindling belief that more of the crews of the Inferis, Olympus, Asgard, and Ra. Each of these ships were incinerated in the  cataclysmic attack that had stranded them here. An attack orchestrated by the renegade crew of the Titan, and their tyrannical captain Cronos.

It took only a matter of days for Orion to track down Hestia and Hermes huddled together and wounded, in the woods.

As time ticked on and their hope of escape faded the three of them established a safe house, here in the foothills of Rome. It functioned as a home for the stranded crews and a 'cover' for the curious barbarians of this world. To earn their keep the three of them sold scraps of their escape pods, and what little technology they could spare. Their slacken efforts earned them a large farm house at the base of a mountain.

Hestia worked tirelessly to make the detritus wreck of a rotted lumber and aged debris into a home away from the stars. Though, as time passed, her efforts evolved from preparing a home for their derelict friends into an inn for wayward strangers.

Each of them had a role to play from then until forever. They never forgot their goal or their hope that one day they could return to the stars. Hermes sped throughout the countryside on an endless mission to garner information. His effervescent personality and childish warmth enabled him to be trusted by even the most ornery of informants. Hermès worked as a hard throughout the country side. He spread messages and stories in exchange for information. Information, that he would relay back to Hestia and Orion in hopes that one of his stories or informants finally had told him a real clue.

Orion had his own way of gaining information. He lacked the flourish and romance needed to interact directly or meander the subtle political paths of this complex and emotionally volatile race. After his time with the military had ended he adapted his skills for hunting the galaxies nastiest criminals and exotic creatures.

On earth he retrained that skill to fit his environment yet again. Orion hunted criminals as favors for the locals who repaid him in mead and rumors. Rumors he tracked to the edge of mountains and to the shores of the Mediterranean. Stories of fierce lions fled by strong men, spirits that invaded Athens, leviathans in the Coliseum, a beautiful woman who fed on the blood of men, a dog roving the woods with three heads, and most importantly a woman with skin the color of emeralds. "Artemis," he whispered her name into the soft spring breeze like it was forbidden.

However, those stories only brought him part of the way to her. Foot prints faded, minds rusted, and without the help of written communication each story became embellished beyond recognition.

For weeks he had an unfailing hope that his commander and friend, was still alive. Yet, As days turned to weeks and weeks into months that hope decayed.

For all he knew the green heroine who never turned down a fight, he chuckled to himself, "or a foot race," was just ashes amongst the stars.

Despite that, a part of him still held some level of hope that the three of them were not the only survivors of the crash. "It cannot be possible," he spoke aloud in disbelief, "there were so many of us."

He threaded feathers through a quiver, a task that at one time was barbaric now served as a form of mental therapy for him. His eyes never left the console as he perfected each fletching. Every day he prepared his bow and a stash of arrows, every day he hunted either villainous men, food for the inn, or information to set his soul at ease. Every day he came home to nothing but a silent console. Today would be the last time.

The airwaves had been silent. If Artemis and the rest of the crew had survived, he should have heard something by now.

Hestia had her own form of soliciting information. Half the reason they opened the inn was to eavesdrop on the loose tongues of drunken men.

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