I am amazed at what these mortals have accomplished in the ten thousand years we’ve been gone. We had given them so much but to see what they have done without our help would have made Iapetus so happy.
If only he could see them now.
They cover the world now, billions of mortal souls spread over nearly every inch of it. Just astounding.
Our pilot informed us that it would be safer to “ditch the ride” and find new transport before they started tracking us. Oceanus and Crius voted on a ship and the rest of us went with it. It was harder to track and would give us some time to craft a plan. So we landed near a city called Djibouti.
Some things never change, though the mortals may span the globe and construct enormous cities there are some universal truths that remain as they were.
Mortals are inherently greedy.
Not always for tangible wealth. Sometimes they seek something more substantial to their very souls but it has always and likely will always be a truth. Power, wealth, fame, a sense of pride. Mortals crave those.
Mnemosyne and memories go hand in hand. The key to her is that the memories don’t have to be real, she can create them. So she found a shipping captain and planted the seeds that we had already purchased passage with him. That is how we found ourselves bunking on a massive shipping vessel and rocking through the ocean on our way to Poseidon.
Oceanus was obviously thrilled, spending all his time on the deck with the crew and granting what little power he could to the speed of the ship. It’s not very thrilling, I admit, sitting in the bowels of a ship and making our way to a new city. To find a god.
It did however grant a moment to stop. To think. Only a moment.
I sit on a thin mattress when one of the crew throws a pile of clothes at me with a heavy thud. I look down at my own dirty, torn clothes and realize how truly disgusting I must look. Not very god-like at all.
Even clothes made by gods can only last so long and ten thousand years is past that limit.
There are water stained mirrors and functional showers on the ship. I strip down and wash, the desert dirt pouring down the drain with the warm water. There is dried blood under my fingernails from the fighting that I dig out until I feel clean again.
I stare at myself in the mirror, tilting and looking at the man I now really don’t recognize. He is young looking, not like the man in the cell, his hair is dark and thick and there is scruff along his jaw. His amber eyes seem distant, as if they are lost somewhere a thousand miles away.
I rub his jawline and point at him and he points at me.
“You need to shave.”
I step out and Tethys whistles, slapping my cheek as she goes to the stalls for her own shower.
“Our brother, all cleaned up.”
One by one they leave and return, each time looking more like a Titan and not some grungy desert rats that have been on the run. Though that’s almost entirely what we were.
“The prison feels like an eternity ago now, doesn’t it?” Themis sits beside me, her serious face gone for the moment. She runs a hand through her short hair and spikes it up.
“Ten thousand years wiped out in a whole two days, seems right. Like it never even happened. Were we ever even in that place?”
She lets out a short laugh, the most I think I’ve ever heard from her.
“Hyperion,” the serious face is back, “do you think we can do this?”
I’ve never heard Themis like this.
“Of course we can, we’re gods.”
She shakes her head and looks at the ship’s deck.
“We were gods. We’re not now.”
The silence hangs there while I try to think of an answer, something good to say back. She’s right though. We were gods. Now we’re rusty and beaten down and mostly weaponless Titans in a world that doesn’t remember us. If they do it’s as the myths that Zeus and the others seem to have peddled in our absence.
“We were gods.”
Even with our powers back we weren’t some formidable force yet. And they had the weapons to kill a Titan, having already done so twice.
“Themis,” I said it quietly, “should we have just…you know.”
“No, it was time for us to return. Find out what the world is like without us. Maybe it’s better.”
She rubs her palm idly.
“I hope it’s better.” She says it and I almost don’t hear it.
“If it’s not? What if they’ve become some perverted form of what we intended? What we were put here to make them?”
“Then we start over.”
I look at the chain and think back to the days before Cronus crafted the clay and the sky gave it life. The beginning of everything. How we watched them grow before our eyes into the mortal race that we served. That had betrayed us now. Some of them had.
“I’d like to vote no on that.”
I look at Jeff and snort. He’s growing on me.
I lay on the bed and close my eyes, letting the rocking of the ship carry me to sleep. We still have a week before we’ll arrive at Singapore. Plenty of time for us to get ready.
And time for them as well.
Singapore was a major shipping port and Poseidon had capitalized on that, moving his company to the burgeoning city years ago. He had built an empire on the rusted hulks of his competitors that always seemed to befall some unfortunate catastrophe at the right time to keep him on top. His office was ostentatious compared to Zeus, who had always been the more moderate of the two. If that was saying anything.
He had a desk that was carved from the wood of a ship lost at sea and long forgotten, by all but him. The first ship that he had sunk to begin his empire. He was the Olympian that had bought into his own mythos, far more than any of the others. God of the sea.
He had decorated his office with ornate model ships through the years and hung the golden trident over his desk. When the press had come knocking to interview the “king of shipping” he had taken a picture behind that desk, right under the trident. It had become something of a joke in the community.
Though “eccentric billionaire” was no longer a rarity.
His offices were near the sea, as he had wanted them to be, a tower with half the floors devoted to his many employees that ever coordinated shipping routes and times, tracked cargo and delivered good and bad news to him.
He smiled at himself.
His ships were always faster than the competition. Always. Controlling the seas will do have that effect.
“That fool should have never gone back to Tartarus.”
His lackey looked up from some financial reports, raising an eyebrow.
“Zeus. He should have left them to rot down there, not opened the doors. Some great plan.”
He snorted and eased his ever widening girth into the chair, wincing at the creaking noises it made. He was getting fat. He looked down and pinched a roll together and grimaced. He’d have to make some time in his schedule for the gym.
“Sir, can I ask why he even wanted to go back there?”
Poseidon looked at the young man and envied his slim stature.
“He wanted to live forever, of course.”
The man didn’t seem satisfied so Poseidon sighed.
“When we took power from them it was through their weapons and tools. That’s the only way we could become like them. Zeus couldn’t find Hyperion’s chain, so we each sacrificed a small piece of our weapons for him and those pieces were smithed together to give him a gods life span.”
He looked to the trident, where he had asked the smith to leave a reminder that it was not whole. A small imperfection in the centre prong.
“It worked for almost ten thousand years but Zeus was never as strong as he made himself out to be. He relied on the lightning made by others and the fact that his power came from so many sources, it gave him broad strengths rather than focused ones. True power is broad. Great power is direct.”
The young man nodded along.
“Why help him?”
Poseidon furrowed his brow.
“He’s my brother.”
“Not really. He’s just some guy lording his power over you, power you gave him, while he looks to gain more. Don’t buy your own myths.”
He went back to the financial reports and Poseidon was left to think about that. While a bit of an upstart thing to say the boy wasn’t wrong.
Zeus and Poseidon weren’t brothers. They had just been watchers of Tartarus once. Co-conspirators maybe but not blood. Maybe it was time for a change. He could pull some of his men away from Zeus, leave a gap for the Titans to slip through. They were smart, they could figure it out.
Maybe it was time for a new Olympian to take control.
Ares had a problem.
People would start asking questions when he didn’t show up at the Pentagon, not to mention he was pulling a lot of strings to get more men. He’d reached out to a handful of former officers he had known years ago and asked them to start pulling together ex-military types.
The community was tight though and the word was spreading that these jobs had become a lot more dangerous, even if the money was good. Rumor was that a lot of men had died in Morocco on what was supposed to be an easy security job.
They’d already lost two dozen men and women who had just walked off the job after the prison incident. Said that taking on gods was not in the job description. The ones who had manned the first choke point had been talking and he couldn’t get them to shut up. Not now. The rumor mill was at full strength in a tight knit community.
He sat in a cramped office and looked at The Colonel. Well, The Colonel in body at least.
“That halfwit Derek says they’ve been spotted in Egypt, says Zeus wants a team to go after them.”
The Colonel kept fidgeting in his seat, stretching his neck and rolling his shoulders.
“They want us to clean up their mess.”
Ares shared something with the man in his office that even the Titans didn’t know about. They had both hidden it quite well and sold the lie to perfection. Ares had always been an angry sort of man that loved bloodshed. He had been a perfect match and was granted power in secret, away from the other Titans watchful eyes.
The Titan war that had brought so many millions of souls had been invigorating but the two had agreed that it wasn’t for the best. The mortals would wipe themselves off the earth and the Titans would be left to start over. They craved souls for power but they needed them in a slow, steady pace.
So it was love they manipulated instead. Pretended that was where the power came from.
The one who had taken the Colonel’s body remembered climbing that mountain and begging them to stop fighting. That they were bringing the end of the mortals to reality. That it had to stop.
Themis had been easy to convince, she did love her precious justice. She thought it was all her idea but he had planted the seeds in her mind.
Ares had done his job well back then. He knew the other guards well enough to play to their deepest desires. Power. Status. Wealth. Control. Knowledge. He spoke the words to plant the corruption in their hearts and it had all gone much faster than any could have predicted.
Demeter knew where the hidden armory was and led them right to it. They stole the weapons and the Smith did what he could. Only one with knowledge of the Titanic powers could have passed the immortality on though. Even with the weapons they needed someone with that knowledge.
Only one of them had intimate knowledge of both life and death.
He flexed his hands and looked down at them. At the very least this new body was well built. The Colonel did take care of himself.
His old body had a structural problem, being that the throat had been cut and all. He hadn’t liked taking over The Colonel and dragging his own body out like that. Passing himself as faded and weak had been hard enough but controlling two bodies was much harder than he had expected. Not to mention the ruining of his original form, it would take months to heal before he could take live in it again.
Iapetus had taken The Colonel for his own, Ares’ pet soldier was buried deep under a Titan mind. His mind screamed to be free but it was useless.
“So, what do we do?” Ares asked his mentor. Iapetus had spent only a few years in his cell before the Olympians took power, with his help of course. He knew this world better than they did.
“Send a team to Egypt. I don’t know why their pilot is taking them in the wrong direction, they must know where Zeus is by now. He must have a plan of some kind, maybe skirting the facility or finding a way to throw us off their trail. Hyperion will go for Zeus, I’d bet on it.”
Ares nodded, picked up his phone and dialed an old friend.
“Sam, yeah, it’s me. I need some of your guys on a plane. Yesterday would have been good but I’ll take two hours. Good. Thanks.”
He set the phone down and watched Iapetus fidget in the Colonel’s body.
“It’s not that bad,” he offered.
Iapetus rolled his eyes. Then settled into the chair and thought aloud.
“Shouldn’t have ever let them all out, that was a mistake. A costly one. I assumed Zeus had prepared enough to stop them all. The chain was an oversight. He never told anyone about that. All these years of searching everywhere but there. Why would we ever look there?”
“It’s too late now,” Ares said, “we have other things we can deal with.”
Iapetus nodded, flexing his new hands out again.
“Yes. We have to find the others. And quickly.”
Ares dropped a stack of brown files on his desk, each marked with a name in black ink. There were eight files worth of names and a small picture clipped to each. He fished out one file and opened it.
They had been watching her ever since the falling out.
“We know where she is, she might know where some of the others are.”
Iapetus picked up the file with the only clear photo. She wasn’t hiding like the others were. He couldn’t help but admire that. Brave.
“Let’s go talk to her then.”
He threw the file back on the desk. Her profile was there.
She had become a Dean of a prestigious university, spoke dozens of languages and had firmly been against any involvement in Tartarus.
She went by a different name for the mortal world but the file listed her true name.