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Extinction: Imminent
Broadcast Signal: Pirate

District of Olympus Archives
Mortal Hall
Αρχείο Περιφέρειας

Temple of Dione

Extinction: Imminent
Broadcast Signal: Pirate
District of Olympus Archives
Mortal Hall
Αρχείο Περιφέρειας
Temple of Dione

Chapter 3 – Peacock

William Hork, driving in the Denver metro area. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.

Book III ⇔ Present Day

Hork Estate, Colorado Springs, CO, USA

The press junket in Denver was relentless and consumed the rest of William’s day. After starting the morning with First Light, he did several phone interviews with scientific journals, followed by another television interview with Fox News, a syndicated podcast in the afternoon, and finally, he wrapped up the day with another nationally televised interview on the CBS Evening News. William didn’t shy away from the attention and he was proud to share his work. The criticism surrounding the new discovery affected him like a light breeze and while he was sincere in addressing concerns, he was completely unapologetic.

William was one of a kind, a true polymath. He was athletic, well-built, and strikingly handsome. Reaching the far edge of middle age, he was still as attractive as ever. His medium length salt-and-pepper hair and graying beard only added to his allure and exemplified his power. The man oozed charisma and charmed anyone he pleased. His ability to seamlessly move through topics from the geopolitical climate of Iran to the previous evening’s baseball highlights, followed by a roaring joke made him a treasure at cocktail parties and international peacekeeping summits. Between conquering mammoth mountains and soaring the skies in prototype airplanes, William also managed to maintain one of the greatest scientific minds in human history, his legacy to be echoed alongside Aristotle, Da Vinci, and Einstein.

However, William was a man of the people and the people loved him. Seldom abusing his power, William was kind and respectful. He was able to fundamentally relate through honor, virtue, and compassion; qualities that transcended race, creed, or religion. He was extremely generous with his fortune, contributing to many charities and often hosting social events with an open invitation. While in William’s presence, no one ever wanted and the only reason not to like William would be because of one’s own jealousy.

Residing in Colorado Springs, the modest city was the perfect environment for William’s work to flourish. The natural beauty of the tall mountains and thick forests combined with its unprecedented amount of sunshine was inspiring. Moreover, Colorado Springs was the centerpiece of five military installations including two Air Force bases, the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and NORAD. This made his military contract work effortless and he settled into a home with his wife, Pom, on the way to the top of Pike’s Peak.

With the sun sinking behind the mountains, William began his drive home from Denver. A bright orange glow behind the hills gave way to a sky that melted into brilliant purples and blues. Shadows lengthened the city into gigantic proportions as the day’s last light kissed rooftops. Heading south on I-25, the hour and half drive home gave him adequate time to reflect on the day’s activities and catch up on phone calls. With a press of a button on the steering wheel, a robotic and feminine voice greeted Dr. Hork.

Pom Hork relaxing in her living room and talking on the phone. Image created by Adobe Firefly.

“Call Pom,” William commanded.

“Dialing Pom,” the computer replied.

Several rings blared through the car speaker system until a woman’s voice answered on the other end. “Hey, honey. All done?”

“Peacock. Yes, finally. Headed home now.”

“I saw you on Fox and CBS today, you were fantastic! Did it go okay behind the scenes?”

“It was fine, everyone off camera was nice for the most part. The radio guy got a little aggressive and I had to put an executive in his place, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t!” She said with a laugh. “When will you be home?”

“I’m just getting to the north end of Castle Rock, so I still have a bit. Have you eaten?”

“I’ve been munching, but I was waiting to hear from you. I was hoping we could have a celebratory dinner…?” She lingered, hoping he hadn’t already made plans with a colleague or another journalist.

“Sounds fantastic.” William replied. “Need me to pick anything up? I’m not sure if I feel like going out this evening…”

“Nope, I went to the store earlier and we should be all set.”

“Good. I’ll be home in about an hour, we can catch up on the rest of your day then.”

“Sounds good. Drive safe. I love you.”

“Love you too, Peacock. I’ll be home in a while,” William replied and pushed the end call button on the steering wheel. Without hesitation, he prompted the onboard computer once more: “Call Ana.” And again he waited while the phone rang.

“Billy, my dear!” Welcomed the voice on the other end. William was always taken aback when someone called him Billy. He didn’t mind that she did, he just didn’t hear it often.

“Ana, how are you?”

“Not nearly as good as you, or so the news says. I see your research is progressing quite nicely.”

“Oh, please.” William scoffed. “Just had to give the public something to keep the funding.” He kept no secrets from Ana. It was pointless.

“Always on to bigger and better things. Oh, Billy…you’re getting close, aren’t you?” She questioned, even though she already knew the answer.

“Naturally… How are the girls, my love?” William wisely changed the subject, refusing to tempt fate by revealing the details of his plans.

She cackled. “My love? I’m guessing Pom isn’t within earshot?” Ana had been around for a long time and she knew how he operated.

William smirked.

“The girls are good…” she continued, though her tone became somber. “They miss their father.”

“I assume they’re keeping themselves busy, still dedicated to their work?”

“Of course.” Ana was cold. “They did pick something up from you after all.”

“Ana…” William sighed. “You know Pom. There was no other way…”

“I know, Billy. It’s just a shame, that’s all. You really missed out.”

“How’s Cloe?”

“Same old story, heartbroken.” Ana was mournful. “That girl has cried more tears than stitches on her dress.”

“Andi still in hiding? They both still resent each other, I assume? I don’t know how they continue to work with each other…”

“Sisters, I suppose.” She sighed. “Poor Seren, always stuck between them,” she added, not allowing William to forget about their middle child.

“When will Andi let it go?”

“I suppose when she finds a love of her own.”

“Good luck being that guy!” William laughed. “Every time you see her, you hope she’s not bringing work home with her!”

“You shouldn’t sound so amused, William. She is your daughter.” Ana defended. “Just because Cloe’s the baby doesn’t mean she’s innocent.”

“All that girl ever did was love—and she was punished the greatest for it.” His reply was firm.

“I didn’t see you running to her side trying to change matters,” Ana cut sharp. “If I remember correctly, I believe you sat quietly next to Pom during Cloe’s sentencing.”

“Oh Ana, you act as if you didn’t know how this was all going to work out. I may not have, but you did.”

“And we wouldn’t have it any other way, now would we, Billy?”

Ana Stoneheart talking on the phone with William Hork. Image created by Adobe Firefly.

William remained silent. An uncomfortable pause filled the line.

“So, what’s going on, Dr. Hork? You hardly ever call just for a chat.” Ana released him and finally changed the subject.

William sighed, trying to expel the guilt of poor fathering and a breath at the same time. “I was hoping for some…well, reassurance.” The humility in his tone transcended the satellite frequencies and Ana’s intuition immediately picked up on it.

“The almighty William Hork looking for guidance?” She questioned with a laugh. Her tone vastly improved now that the parental lecture was over. William remained quiet as he waited for her to provide a more sincere approach. “Billy, the course was set long before you were born. The coming days are filled with enlightenment and revelation. All you have to do is fulfill your destiny.”

William hated it when she spoke in riddles, but her words did comfort him. They reaffirmed his suspicion and made him anxious to return to his laboratory. His scowl loosened into a chuckle. “That simple, huh? You know, Ana, you have an amazing way of saying everything and nothing all at once…”

“Like I haven’t heard that before.” She laughed.

“So, that’s it?”

“What more do you need?”

William contemplated her words. He was looking for a nudge in the proper direction, and she provided that. Asking for more often sabotaged the operation and he couldn’t afford to lose any more time.

“Nothing, I suppose.”

“Good.” Ana replied. “Now, cheer up. You need to be all smiles for Pom at your ‘celebratory’ dinner this evening.”

William glared through the windshield. He hated when she used her gift to pry into his life. He found it a to be a great violation, though he knew there was little he could do about it. His only defense was to antagonize her.

“Naturally. Oh, one more thing—will Pom be performing her wifely duties this evening?”

“Good night, William.” Ana replied with disgust.

“Excellent!” He smirked.

“Do you enjoy torturing me?”

William laughed and pressed. “Is she going to wear that little outfit we picked up in Milan?”

“Don’t anger me, Hork.” Ana said with a stern playfulness.

“Okay, okay… I’ll be in touch.”

“I know you will. Stay the course.”



As his car climbed the switchback road leading to his home, William took in the city lights of Colorado Springs from below. He reveled in the crisp mountain air and thought to himself how he could never get sick of the view. Whether it was the solitude or the symbolism of being high above earthly affairs, a sense of peace always filled him as he neared the estate.

Turning the last corner of a private road, the pavement led to a massive wrought iron gate and the entrance to his home. As the gate slowly opened, he exited the car to check the mail. He knew it was a fruitless task; anything of importance was hand delivered  by his son or done electronically. Climbing in once again, he drove the rest of the way up the long driveway and circled the majestic courtyard. He glanced in adoration at the massive bronze and stone statues, each illuminated and brought to life by gentle landscape lighting. Their silhouettes faded into the center of the courtyard and toward the massive water feature that sprayed a light mist into the cool night air.

“Pom!” William shouted upon entering the estate, making his way across the elegant marble entry. “Peacock, I’m home…”

“Honey?” Pom’s voice came from the other end of the house. “In the kitchen!”

Pom Hork cooking in the kitchen. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.

William tossed his briefcase into an armchair and meandered through the hallways to the kitchen. The closer he got, the more Pom’s feast enticed his nose.

“What—have you—been up to?” he remarked slowly. “It smells amazing!”

William rounded the countertop to where Pom stood in front of the stove, putting the final touches on their dinner. He snuck up and wrapped his massive arms around her, greeting her with a frisky hug. Pleasantly surprised, she arched her back and went to her tiptoes to kiss his neck.

“Hellooo…” She whispered.

With a single motion, William twirled her around to face him. “This looks fantastic!” Still holding her in one arm, he reached around to the stove with the other and picked at the vegetables she had been sautéing.

“Get out of there!” She squirmed to slap his hand. “It’s almost ready.”

Ignoring her instruction, William popped a hot piece of zucchini in his mouth. “Is that a steak?!” His eyes lit up as he noticed sizzling from the in-house grill.

“Nothing but the best for my famous scientist!” She giggled, feeding on William’s excitement.

“You spoil me, my dear! Anything I can do to help?”

“Pour us some wine, would you?”

“That I can handle!”

William found two glasses and reached for one of his favorite bottles from their recent trip to Greece. Removing the foil and fiddling with the opener, he lost himself in Pom’s beauty. Though she was only a few years younger than him, she didn’t look a day over thirty. Her long, deep almond hair fell across her bare back and framed the soft and smooth features of her face. Her ochre skin glowed as she moved across the kitchen with supreme elegance and grace, her jewelry shimmering with each bend and bow. Pom wasn’t the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but she was close. She was a goddess nonetheless, and had the fury to go along with it if ever scorned. He smiled and removed the bottle’s cork.

“You are breathtaking, Peacock.” He complimented as he filled their glasses.

“I’m sure you say that to all the girls,” Pom blushed. She loved that he still noticed her. “Come across any other stunning beauties today?”

“Just you, of course.” William wisely omitted his encounter with Sarah from the television station.

Pom paused and looked William up and down. Her eyes pierced deeply into him. Once satisfied with her fidelity inspection, she remarked, “Good.”

William shook his head. To his credit, he had been very well-behaved at this juncture in his life. Exhibiting such self-control with Sarah was an example of that. An earlier version of himself wouldn’t have thought twice about calling her back to the green room, with no regard of the consequences. He was proud of his newfound mastery and a bit insulted by her interrogation.

“Don’t even act like I don’t have just cause…” Pom read his mind and twisted her head.

William stepped back and tempered his hands in surrender. He knew he deserved a lifetime of questioning for the heartache he had once put her through.

“Shall we eat?!” She extinguished the sore subject with a smile along with the burner from the stove.

Pom and William Hork sitting at their dinner table overlooking Colorado Springs below. Image Created by Adobe Firefly.

The couple sat quietly at a casual table adjoining breakfast bay, the room’s dim lighting not interfering with the view through the massive picture window that overlooked the city below. With just the two of them in the house these days, they skipped the formality of the dining room and opted to share their meals in the kitchen.

“Where is your mind?” Pom inquired softly, noticing William was lost in his thoughts. This time her tone was more gentle, taking a genuine interest in her husband’s troubles.

William looked up from his meal. “Oh, just planning tomorrow,” he avoided. His thoughts had been spiraling since the phone call with Ana on the drive home. He recalculated her words, the inflections and emphasis in her tone in hopes retrieving any further meaning. There were several key moments in his life where Ana had guided him, and if it weren’t for her, the necessity of his fate would have never been sealed. The smoldering sizzle deep in his spine sensed that another one of those moments were approaching, but he lacked the fortitude to spoil such a lovely meal by discussing the matter with his wife.

“And what are your plans?”

“I was hoping to work from home. I can handle most of my business over the phone and screen share. It sounds good to escape from the madness ‘down below’ for a bit.” He nodded toward the city lights.

“That would be nice,” Pom agreed. “Don’t forget we have the carpenter coming, though.”

“Ugh, that’s tomorrow? Nothing major, right? I don’t want a legion up here in the coming weeks…”

“I assume it’s just one man. There’s a few steps on the deck that need repair and maybe some minor painting.”

“I’ve heard that before…” He bit sarcastically, remembering their last remodel.

“Harrison is sending him up. You know, the fellow we met a while back at the hockey game?” Pom filled in the pieces for William.

“Harry? The guy with the pointy goatee who barely took a breath between words?” William criticized. “I can’t wait to see his work…”

“Oh, stop it.” Pom dismissed. “He seems nice enough… And seeing as the last contractor was scared off because of that sudden lightning storm, who else was I supposed to call?”

William scowled. “It’s too bad that man wasn’t hit with a bolt directly! He was horrendous.”

“Eat your steak.” Pom commanded. “I’ll make sure the new guy stays out of your hair.”

“He’d better…” William grumbled. “All of the pounding and sawing…”

“It’ll be fine,” she reassured. Her eyes fell upon him and a curve from the corner of her lip melted his heart. He knew she was going to get her way regardless of his objection.

William smiled back. His true concerns lay within his research and there’d be no distraction from that. “What time are we expecting him?”


William finished the last bite of rib eye while remaining fixed out the window. “Thank you for the amazing dinner, Peacock. Just the celebration I had in mind.”

“Well, the evening isn’t over…” She raised a suggestive eyebrow.

William grinned, her comment gaining his full attention. “Yes? And what more could I possibly want?”

“Why don’t you pour us another glass? I’ll go find a little something I picked up in Milan…”

Pom Hork relaxing in her living room and talking on the phone. Image created by Adobe Firefly.
Ana Stoneheart talking on the phone with William Hork. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.
Pom Hork, cooking in the kitchen. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.
Pom Hork, cooking in the kitchen. Image generated by Adobe Firefly.