Atlas’ Last Stand

They say the heavens still yearn to reunite with the earth, to hold it in its affectionate embrace. Yet, the mighty arms of Atlas stand in everlasting vigil to hold the heavens from the earth.”
The room was pitch black, with the only rays of light coming from the unlikeliest of sources. The source was a man. Heavily built with veins budging out of his arms and legs, his hair is curls and on his brow were creases. There was a serene calmness about him and much more dominantly: a fearsome aspect. This was a powerful and proud creature, you wouldn’t need to be told to come to this conclusion.

The silence in the dark room grew with each second; until it looked as if would consume this powerful entity within itself. It was then the silence was pierced by the sound of rushed footsteps. If the sudden noise startled this entity, he made no gesture to affirm this. He simply sat on his throne. Watchful, vigilant, proud and fearless.

In the room arrived another source of the strange luminosity. It was another man, though he looked shorter, skinnier and much less impressive than the man sitting on the throne. His head bared signs of male pattern baldness, but his face was covered in an elaborate blonde beard.

“Brother…” Prometheus began, short of breath.

“I know.” Atlas replied without considering him, “I felt the disturbance in time as it happened, as if I was there. Kronos has fallen.”

His words had a finality about them. He spoke with authority, and his tone suggested this was something he was very much used to.

“What now?” Prometheus inquired.

“What now? What now indeed? But, you already know that, don’t you Prometheus? What offer do you bring me?”

“King Zeus is merciful. I’m sure if you pledge your sword to him and ask for forgiveness, he will more than understand.”
The calmness that has thus far surrounded Atlas seemed to vanish in an instant. He stood up and as he did, he towered over his sibling. To see him stand like that, would’ve made the hearts of most valiant of men cower in fear.

And when he spoke, there was a hint of extreme anger in his words though, he never raised his voice or made any aggressive gesture.

“King? Your King is nothing more than a child throwing a tantrum. I will not bend myself to the will of a child throwing a tantrum.”

“But, brother you must understand. How many times have you; yourself expressed dissatisfaction with Kronos, that he’s unfit to rule, that he usurped the throne. Zeus is better than him. He can lead us forward towards a new Golden age,” Prometheus pleaded.

Atlas considered it for a moment.

“Kronos was a lot of things. But, at least he won his right to rule through combat. Single combat. It was the honorable thing to do. And Kronos was one of us. This man-child is not.”

The scene was disturbed again as another man entered.

“Well, well. I was almost worried you would surrender. It would have been most anti-climactic.”

“Zeus. I am surprised. I didn’t think you had enough spine to show your face,” Atlas spoke contemptuously.

“I am your King! I will not be spoken to like that,” Zeus thundered.

Atlas smiled. “But of course you didn’t come alone, take of your helm, Hades. I would know that stench of yours anywhere. Most repulsing.”

And indeed as he spoke Hades took off his helm and materialized before him, his mismatched eyes betraying his cunning.

“You know Atlas, I have always found you most interesting specimen among the Titans. They say you are stronger than all of the others combined, yet you never sought to claim Lordship over them. Forever serving as the General,” Hades spoke in a slow rattling voice, like of a man uttering his dying word and running out of breath.

The voice was like slow poison and abhorrent enough to make the skin of dead men crawl. If it had any such effect on Atlas, he did nothing to reveal his fear.

“You can’t hope to understand the meaning of loyalty, you abomination,” Atlas raged.

“Bow down now Atlas, or you will have the wrath of Zeus upon you!” Zeus interjected.

“Is this is what it’s about? You seek to test the mighty arms of Atlas, don’t you Zeus? You are like a child, eager to prove yourself, but you will find yourself severely outmatched here, Zeus.”

The tension in the room grew with each passing moment and then it became too much to bare. Zeus raised in hand in the air and summoned a lightning bolt by his divine will, and with a mighty lunge he launched it on Atlas.

“Enough of your blasphemy!”

There was a mighty flash, a deafening sound of thunder as Gaea shook on her very foundations. The blinding light obliterated the whole scene. It was a sight of total chaos. And any mortal unlucky enough to see it was would be annihilated by the very illustriousness of it.

In what seemed like an eternity, the streak finally dwindled. Hades and Prometheus lay on the scene, their body looking oddly comatose, having being caught in the ambit of the flare.

Zeus couldn’t have cared less about the welfare of his brother and ally. His eyes franticly sought Atlas, and as the smoke finally cleared, he saw him. Standing right where he was, tall as a mountain. The master bolt seemed to have no effect on him whatsoever.

“Is this the best you can do, Oh, mighty Zeus?” Atlas snarled.

And in that moment, The King of Gods cringed in fear.

Before Zeus could gather himself, Atlas hurled himself forwards, showing remarkable dexterity for such a large man. And before Zeus might even begin to register a response, Atlas held him by this neck and lifted him off his feet as The God of King and Men feebly attempted to fight back.

Zeus tried to summon another bolt, but Atlas held his hand and crushed it with all his might. As his godly fingers cracked under the brute force, the spark died in his hand.

Atlas reaffixed his grip on Zeus’s throat and The King of Gods began to gag and heave.

“Your tantrum, your self-proclaimed liberation of this planet ends here, child,” Atlas chided.

In that moment the world held its breath, and it seemed in all likeliness that the legacy of Zeus would come to an untimely demise. Time, the very irony of it.

And it seemed that heavens would rip asunder. As the godly fire of the life of the young god appear to soon be extinguished. But, as it turned out, fate was not done playing its part, and the gods were to find victory in the incongruousness of it all.

“Atlas, be kind enough to release my brother,” The middle child spoke with a firmness that was oddly outlandish to him.

“Good to have the whole family together. Now, I can finally lay this fiasco to rest. Welcome, Poseidon, it doesn’t mean much, but you were always my favorite out of the three,” Atlas ruminated.

When Poseidon spoke next his voice had a strange calmness to it, like the Ocean after it had gone through a savage calamity and it sounded as if had rehearsed what he was going to say. “We have your daughter, Atlas.”
“You can not hope to get past Ladon.” For the first time there was a hint of doubt in Atlas’ voice.
“No, we can not. Atlas… we have Calaypso,” Poseidon spoke in a sad voice.

Atlas let go of Zeus without meaning to. Zeus hit the floor and moaned like a dying lamb as he curled up like a baby.

“Deceit, sham and trickery. Is that all you’re capable of?” Atlas spoke in a defeated voice. And in that moment the celestial constellations echoed the sorrow in his heart.

“For all you prowess, your fabled valor, and your prodigious might, you are mundane Atlas. Love, love was the thing that brought you down. This is why you never made King, this is why you could never make King.”

Atlas smiled and in his smile years of wisdom reflected. A side of him few noticed.

“But what are we without love? Let it be known, to all, man, titan and god that Atlas made his last stand here, proud and valiant as ever. And what brought him down was not the strength of the gods but the tenderness of his own heart.”

Poseidon held his head down in salute, “It was an honor calling you a foe.”

“One last request, Poseidon. My daughter doesn’t have the constitution to survive in Tautarus.”
“She’ll be treated much kinder, you have my word on it.”
Atlas gave a sad smile. “For all it’s worth.”
___________________________________ _________________
They say Atlas was decreed to hold the heavens against the earth. To bear the weight on his shoulders till all eternity. So, that his knee may forever remain bent, a cruel jape, a warning to those who would dare to stand against the might of Olympus.

To hold Gaea and Uranus, two souls in love apart till the end of times. Another jest on the love he bore that brought him down when all the strength of Olympus could not.

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