Apollo was disappointed to find only Ares in the meeting hall of Olympus as he entered; his newest invention secured in his hand. Ares didn’t notice him at first, the god of war was pacing and muttering to himself. “If the Spartans attack the Athenians again then there will be another ten-year war, but if I can divert their aggression towards Corinth then, yes, many innocent people will die but the war will end just short of a year, sparing countless others from destruction…”
Apollo tapped his foot with impatience as the sunlight filtered in through the huge windows and made Ares’s golden armor glimmer as if recently polished. You’re welcome, Apollo thought at his half-brother. If it weren’t for my sunlight none of you would know what to do with yourselves. Still Ares did not see him.
Finally, Apollo cleared his throat. Ares’s head snapped up and he grinned when he noticed Apollo. “Hey there, sun god.”
“Hey.” Apollo scowled. “Where is everyone else?”
Ares shrugged and his blood-red cape swirled about his broad shoulders. “Dunno.”
Apollo rolled his eyes and turned to go, his royal purple robes brushing the marble. “Wait!” Ares called and Apollo pivoted back around. Ares removed his feathered helmet revealing shorn blonde hair and a strong chin like whittled granite. The war god nodded towards Apollo’s clenched hand. “What do you have?”
“Oh, this?” Apollo lifted the blue painted disk to eyelevel as if he’d forgotten that he carried it. “It’s nothing. Just my newest invention.”
Ares regarded it with a tilt of his head. “Can I see it?”
Preening on the inside, Apollo handed it over. Ares flipped it over and slid the loop at the end of the string peeking out from beneath the disk over his thumb. When he let go of the disk the string unraveled. The disk dropped towards the ground, rolled half-way back up the thin string, and then hung still. Staring at it with fascination Ares asked. “What is it?”
That was a good question, Apollo’s mind blanked. Perspiration broke out on his forehead. In his dream he’d seen a boy in a shadowy space playing with a neon disk, thrusting out with his wrist, and then yanking back the string to get the disk to jump or move up and down. Other people were watching the boy and striking their palms together and shouting. Apollo gathered that the boy was using the disk-and-string device to ward off the angry crowd, or that the crowd was attempting to scare the boy and his frightening disk off with loud noises. His hopes for humankind had evaporated during this vision, as it appeared that they only became more animalistic as time went on than less. Not that that mattered too much to him, if they kept building him temples, they could do whatever they liked as far as he was concerned.
That didn’t help him figure out how to explain his invention to Ares without the war god accusing him of ‘plagiarism’ again. “It’s-a-a-” Toy? General use object? Something that human children use to make adults fear them?
“Ah, I see.” Ares bobbed his chin in a self-satisfied way. “It’s for strangling people from far away.”
Apollo’s blue eyes darted for a moment. What? Then he nodded and smiled, wondering how to wipe the sweat from his forehead discretely. “Yes. Yep, that’s what it’s for.”
“Cool. Let’s see how this thing works.” Ares rewrapped the disk in the string and then drew his arm back. His gaze narrowed on the white marble statue of a nude- and armless for whatever reason- Hera. He flicked his wrist and the disk shot to the end of it’s rope. As it ran out of string Ares jerked his finger to the right and the disk gathered momentum. It led the string to wrap around the statue’s neck. With a wild grin Ares gave a hard tug. Either Hephaestus had used the world’s sharpest string when he’d constructed the prototype for Apollo or Ares was stronger than Apollo gave him credit for because the statue’s head was cut clean off. Hera’s pretty marble face shattered on the tile. Apollo thought that the bust of his stepmother was easier on the eyes without the head-though he still couldn’t figure out why she was armless.
‘Wonderful!” Ares was giddy as he yanked the disk back into his hand and rewound the string about it. “What do you call it, Apollo?”
“Oh, uh.” Apollo’s mind whirled. “Um-the string disk of death.”
Ares nodded his approval. “Nice.” He whistled. “I’ll take it.”
“Take what?” Apollo was confused.
“This string disk of death.” Ares was still gazing at his creation with admiration.
“No, wait, I wasn’t giving it to you.” Apollo’s eyes popped.
“And I’ll need a thousand more by tomorrow.” Ares smiled and clapped Apollo’s shoulder as he swept from the room. “Thanks, Bro.”
Apollo blinked and glanced at his empty hands. “A thousand?” He repeated to the empty meeting room. “How am I supposed to make a thousand string disks of death by tomorrow?”
And that is how yo-yos became the deadliest weapon favored by the gods in ancient Greece.