Resistance was different in Jerusalem.
Poseidon and Demeter had traveled to the Church of the Nativity after recovering. Poseidon scattered the last few remaining Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Armenian nuns and priests that had not already fled by sending waves of fear washing over the entire area. Manger Square was deserted when the two immortals touched down on its paving stone, still invisible from human sight.
Together they walked into the interior of the church through its low front door after blowing its wooden panels off their hinges. The shadows under the lateral arcades were growing deeper as the sun outside began to set on the first day of the destruction of the old ways. Their bare feet barely made any echoes inside. The air was stuffy and stale. Demeter looked up at the wooden beams of the high roof as she walked. Her powers found the top link in all of the chains of the silver and gilded lamps hanging down and snapped them. The lamps fell crashing to the marble floor with a great clamor, spilling their olive oil fuel and extinguishing their wicks.
They descended to the grotto below and paused before the altar. A fourteen point silver star was set into the ground at the point where Jesus was said to have taken his first mortal breath. Poseidon scuffed the tip of his white boots along the star's edge. "We should probably take this. Seems a waste to destroy."
Demeter gazed around her, turning completely around once. "They said he was born in a cave. Then a manger. Now a basilica?"
Poseidon clicked his tongue. "Doesn't matter. He never existed anyway."
Demeter nodded. "Myth. Useful to some." She ran a finger along the red cloth draped over the altar above the star. "Still, it was a good story. Eventually I came to see a beauty in it. At Christmas time."
"Not me." He bent down and tried to see if he could pry the silver away from the marble floor. "Too childish. Too sanctimonious." His fingers directed his power to loosen the screws that held the star tight.
"Juvenile perhaps," she replied with a small sigh. "But then again we were never children. Never children."
"In addition to the whole implausibility of it. Moving stars, angels, virgin birth, visiting wise men,... It's like they ransacked the more embarrassing parts of half a dozen of our myths and shoved them into one."
She rubbed her hand against the back of her neck where she felt a slight prickling of skin.
"Not to mention the whole problem of trying to eventually turn a silly children's story into doctrine. Half god, half man. When was he mortal? When was he divine?..." The star finally came away from the floor and Poseidon stood up with it. "At least none of our silly Greeks or Romans had the foolishness to confuse myth with dogma."
Demeter tilted her head to one side. "And now it will all go away."
"About time." Poseidon stretched out his hand and pulled off their hooks the fifteen metal lanterns hanging from the roof of the alcove. He threw them and the star into a pile in the middle of the room. "There. We should be able to do something with the scrap metal afterwards."
She clicked her tongue. "Do you have any idea how obsessive the communities who ran this church partitioned matters such as who each one of those lamps belonged to? The Greek Orthodox had their lamps, and they could not touch or refill those belonging to the Latins or the Armenians or there would be fistfights. And now you just pull them into a pile."
"New world order," he grinned. "Might as well recycle them like they recycled our stories." He gave her a look out of the corner of his eye. "Perhaps we can use it in a new temple dedicated to you, goddess."
Demeter looked around her. "My temple will never be as... depressing as this one. Where is the joy? All solemnity. All broken marble, candles, and dust." She smoothed the folds in her long white dress. "Theirs was a faith of mourning. Understandable when one worships a corpse on a cross, perhaps. Ours will be different."
A low rumbling was suddenly picked up by both of their immortal ears at once. They looked at each other then hurried up the narrow steps to the spacious basilica above. They stood apart and listened. The noise was identifiable now. They clouded their forms from human sight, exited the basilica, and flew to the top of the minaret of the Mosque of Omar opposite just in time to see a column of tanks swing into view and drive into Manger Square.
Poseidon leaned on the low balcony wall of the minaret and watched the Israeli army take up positions with their guns pointed toward the Church. "You may have to wait a little while longer for your temple, goddess." He searched the folds of his belt to where he had stashed a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, the robe being without pockets. He withdrew one with his lips as Demeter also surveyed the soldiers with a grave expression.
"We told them to submit. Not to resist. And they bring tanks?"
He flicked the lighter and lit the tip of his cigarette. "And helicopters," he added as several appeared on the horizon and dove through the air toward the square.
She shook her head. "Zeus said there might be a confrontation."
Poseidon blew some smoke. "He says a lot of things. You learn to stop listening after a while." His eyes narrowed as he stared at the helicopters. With his powers he could feel the air whipping around their spinning blades. Their exterior was armored with a cold metal. Electric lights flashed inside. He let his power rove until he found the tank below one and excited the fuel inside. The helicopter burst into a massive ball of fire and spun toward the ground. He locked on another and did the same, and soon all three had been sent crashing from the sky.
Demeter turned to him with a look of horror on her face. She grabbed his arm. "What are you doing?"
"Handling the confrontation." He sucked another puff on the cigarette.
"You are killing. And you are stinking. Put that out." She cast the cigarette from his fingers and it fell off the minaret balcony.
He watched the lit tip of the cigarette tumble away and get swallowed up by the darkness around them.
"They are only soldiers. Following orders," she continued. "They can do nothing as they do not see us."
Poseidon's eyes wandered from where he saw the last glimpse of the glowing cigarette to the ground where the tanks were waiting. He saw another glowing point of red light. It seemed to be dancing around the top of one of the tanks, weaving back and forth and then coming to rest. He squinted to see what it was, and could barely make out the form of a man, the upper half of his body poking out of a hatch in the tank. His head seemed misshapen until Poseidon realized he was wearing something over it. A large helmet, with a visor pulled down over his face. And a single red laser beam that was shining out from its side. Poseidon looked down and saw the other end of the beam resting on his chest.
He jumped up and shouted, "Shit!" as the tank's gun turret swiveled toward the minaret.
Demeter looked at him. "What is it?"
"They can see us!" He cried turning to her. "The clouding doesn't work on video!"
She was about to ask what that meant when there was an explosion from down in the square. She could barely turn back to the balcony before a shell launched from the tank hit the top of the minaret. It exploded in a cloud of fire and stone. Both immortals felt their skin burning as they were thrown off their feet and carried along with the rubble backwards and down where they crashed noisily against the hard ground. More bits of the minaret and the mosque behind tumbled down on them.
Poseidon's ears were full of only the noise of the explosion. They felt as if wool had been shoved hard into them causing him to be disoriented and dizzy. His left arm was crushed under a massive chunk of masonry. Spotty echoes of the blast swam in front of his eyes as he tried to regain his senses. The crescent roof adornment from the minaret slammed in to the ground a few feet from his head. Although his heart was pounding, he fought to remain calm. He tried to tap into the power and found it waiting for him, helping him to recover. He could eventually withdraw his arm from under the rubble and pull himself up into a seated position.
Around him were the smoking ruins of the minaret and mosque. Bits of stone continued to fall as smoke hung in a cloud over everything. He coughed. He could feel the ichor in his veins responding to the power and rushing to heal his bruises and breaks from within. He looked up and could see a patch of black night sky overhead. He readied himself to fly up and away from possibly another volley from the tanks when he heard a tremendous screech. He thought it was another shell coming in so he readied himself for an impact. Instead he saw a brilliantly bright streak zoom like a comet overhead toward the tanks. Was another army firing back? He struggled to his feet as a tremendous explosion from Manger Square threatened to topple him again. With aching joints he pushed himself up into the air to get a better view. He was amazed at what he saw.
Two tanks lay upside down and on fire, seemingly having been thrown like toys against the façade of the Church of the Nativity, which had collapsed under the weight. Some soldiers, mostly just figures in the darkness, were running away screaming as a few more tanks flew through the air, tossed aside, metal and humans falling like drops of water as they soared, landing with tremendous crashes upon surrounding buildings. Floating above the carnage was a figure glowing with a brilliant light like a star over the square. It was Demeter but she was changed. Her form was distinguishable but almost translucent and oddly indistinct. Around her swirled hundreds of blazing shafts of light that looked like tentacles bursting from her body, whipping around as if they were the angry snakes of Medusa. From each end came a scream that joined with her own screech, creating a horrible sound that unstopped Poseidon's ears. He was not near her, but could feel the tremendous power that she was gathering to herself. She was waving her arms, causing the huge machines to sail through the air. Her face was twisted into a horrible expression of wrath that made him queasy to look at.
Something inside the next-door Church of Saint Catherine's ignited and detonated, causing all four walls to buckle and the red tiled roof to explode in every direction. This caused some surrounding buildings to burst into flames as the Israeli military equipment continued to be destroyed around them. The pavement of the square began to liquefy in some areas.
It took a few moments before Poseidon recovered from seeing Demeter in this shining form. He was still battered from the shell attack and strangely lightheaded, but he decided to help her in her retaliation. He mustered a feeble amount of power and launched it at the remains of the Church of the Nativity. Another wall collapsed, sending centuries of debris up into the air.
Demeter's head turned toward her fellow immortal. There was the trace of the smallest smile as she gathered the rest of her new energy.
The last thing Poseidon remembered was a sonic explosion that erupted in a brilliant flash of white and yellow, bursting asunder every piece of matter in the vicinity and sent him spinning off into the air like Icarus falling blazing to earth...