Zeus slumped into his chair for but a moment before he stood and threw the phone across his office in a fit of rage. It exploded on the wall and Derek flinched as shattered plastic and glass fragments hit him.
He pounded his desk with heavy hands and a crack sounded out in the office as the desk gave out slightly under the hit.
“Damn it! I was too certain they would come for me.”
Derek flinched and stepped back from the desk. Zeus took a few heaving breaths to calm himself so he could think clearly. They should have stayed close together but it was too late for that now. Poseidon was dead and the trident was gone.
This had gone poorly. Not to mention security personnel were ready to riot when they heard the news that more than twenty had died protecting a shipping magnate. They had come on for easy protection work, nothing like this. That, plus the damned video of Hyperion playing on nearly every screen in the country was not good.
So far the leading theory that had picked up traction was it was a movie set or something along those lines but that was rapidly falling apart as the body count started to rise. Money buys only so much silence. Now the talking heads were just spitting theories from super humans to a fake video and that didn’t include the conspiracy nuts.
Though some of them weren’t all that far off.
At least there was one upside.
They were quickly being left with the security personnel that had taken the job for one reason.
“What now?” Derek said quietly, looking to his boss.
Zeus pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to drive away the headache building behind his eyes over this whole fiasco.
“I don’t know.”
Ares and Iapetus arrived on the campus just as the news was breaking about Singapore, where a man had summoned a pillar of fire and at least twenty men were being reported as dead. Ares was sure that would mean more men would be quitting the security teams, they were humans after all. No one was dumb enough to stay on a job with the odds of death rising higher, despite a sizable paycheck.
He turned off his phone, putting the problem out of his mind for the time being, while Iapetus led the way to the office of the Dean, where they would find her.
“How can I help you?” the young man behind the desk was friendly and his voice had a pleasant lilt, offering a smile as they entered, “do you have a meeting?”
“No, but she’ll be seeing us,” Iapetus walked to the door with a name he didn’t know and pushed it open to see her behind the desk.
Seated at the desk was a woman that looked to be in her late forties or early fifties, slim build and wearing a loose blouse with a black jacket. She did not look impressed to be interrupted until she saw Ares, then her shoulders sagged and she waved off the young man. She stood and walked to the door, ushering them in and looking to the young man.
“It’s okay, hold my calls.”
She closed the door and turned her attention to the gods in her office.
She crossed her arms and looked at them over her thin rimmed glasses, adopting a severe look. Iapetus had always admired her attitude, it was much more lively than the others like her. Not a Titan but not an Olympian, something in between.
“What the hell do you want? Come to kill me, finally?”
“I wish.” Ares shrugged, “what? Would be easier.”
“Shut up,” Iapetus chided the man and Aphrodite looked from one to the other, then it dawned on her. She started to laugh, making her way back behind the desk.
“Iapetus, you’ve changed haven’t you. Taking his little bulldog is a nice touch. Can I expect this to be a permanent change?”
“It’s temporary but I do appreciate your concern.”
She barked a rueful laugh, taking her glasses off and setting the on the desk. Iapetus had always liked her, maybe too much for his own good. Killing her would have been easier but now he was grateful they hadn’t. She might be able to help.
“What do you want?” she said, getting them to business, “why are you in my office. We had an agreement.”
“You’ve heard, I assume?” Iapetus still wasn’t used to this body and shifted uneasily in the chair.
“That the Titans are out? No, I hadn’t. It hasn’t been all over the news or anything, I haven’t seen Hyperion’s face plastered in every Tweet for the past twenty four hours. You know, I told you so. Always wanted to be able to say that to all of you. If you wanted to survive out here you should have just left well enough alone. But no, Zeus wanted more. He always wants more.”
“Where are the others?”
She leaned back in the chair and raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Where are they? We need to talk to them.”
She laughed again.
“Talk to them? Even if I did know where they were I would never tell you. They don’t want to be part of any of this. I honor my agreements and promises, unlike others.”
Ares lurched out of his chair and slammed his hands on her desk, leaning forward. She didn’t move a muscle. He pointed a thick finger at her and opened his mouth to shout some threat, surely, except he didn’t get a chance to speak.
She grabbed that finger and twisted it, the snap of bone echoing in her office as she leaped over her desk. Both of them tumbled back into the chair as Ares opened his mouth to scream or maybe to say something but the tip of the knife dug into the flesh under his chin as Aphrodite kept a knee in his groin and pushed down.
“Big man,” she whispered, pushing the point of the blade until blood welled around it, “try something now.”
“Enough!” Iapetus stood from his chair so fast it fell backward, he stopped as the door opened and the young man with the friendly tone leveled a shotgun at his chest. She had been the one to secret the Smith out of Zeus’ compound, they would have the right weaponry.
“Quite,” the young man said, smiling politely.
Iapetus snorted, raising his hands as Aphrodite stepped back from Ares and he rubbed at the blood dribbling from his chin.
“Get out.” She said, running her hands over her now creased pants and blouse, straightening them out, “now.”
They obliged, slowly.
“We’ll find them,” Iapetus said it as they left her office, “with or without you. Then we’ll be back.”
He shut the door.
The young man lowered the shotgun from his shoulder and breathed out, looking to her.
“That was fun.”
She shook her head at the young man, the hidden progeny of one of the Titans that she had spirited away before the Olympians took power. He had been with her ever since, just another one of the many scattered Titanic children. That didn’t include the Olympian children, none of them could keep it under control.
Like rabbits, she mused, yet they had distorted the myth to make her the one that couldn’t bother to keep it in her pants.
“Are the others in place?”
She sat behind the desk and gave herself a moment to mourn the woman she had become, who could now be no more. They would come for her if she stayed, she had gone too far this time. Ares would remember it.
“Yes, it’s just a matter of time before they show up to knock on someone’s door.”
“They’ll need help. Soon. I suppose it’s time to take a side.”
He snorted and rested the shotgun over his shoulder.
“I think we just did.”
Oceanus has his new trident, despite all the grumbling about it. I have my chain. Even with both of those we have a long way to go.
Not to mention that, as a group, we were famous. Or I was. The guy in the flames does make an impression. We were becoming the most wanted and the most watched, at the same time. I was informed that this is an impressive feat.
Jeff had found a building under construction with a watchmen that might have been as old as us. It was as good a place as any to work out a plan. He was wincing with every step but waved the concern off.
Tough, I like it.
“They’ll be coming for us now,” Cronus said it, “we need to split up.”
“That’s stupid.” I heard it come from my own mouth and slammed it shut. Not fast enough though.
“Go on.” Cronus was glaring. Can’t really blame him.
“We’re stronger together, we should keep it that way.”
“He’s right,” Phoebe spoke up, and I offered her a smile of gratitude.
“No not you-“ I stop smiling. “-Cronus is right. Coeus can’t fight, we need to find someplace safe where I can try to help him, not being dragged across the world where we’ll slow you down. As a group we’re too big, too much of a target.”
I suppose she was right.
“So, who goes where? What’s our next move?”
I don’t think anyone has an answer for that. This is a new world for all of us, not at all like the one that we left behind all those years ago. This is one city, one impressive city, and it’s overwhelming. Where the hell do we go from here?
“I’m going after her.” Cronus says it quietly but it is heard, there is an edge to his voice I haven’t ever heard before. Not even when we fought. Rhea stands by her brother, obviously.
Oceanus puts his hand on Tethys’ shoulder and squeezes, moving past her to stand with the three.
“You’ll need someone with a real damned weapon. Even if it’s a fork. Not to mention all that ocean you’ll be crossing.”
“If you’re going that way you’ll need someone to keep you on the right path,” Crius is next to join their group, “he’s good with speed but direction…not so much.”
“I can take them,” Jeff steps up and motions to Phoebe and Coeus, “they’ll be too busy tracking you all to realize we’ve split off. I can take them somewhere safe, maybe we can figure out how to help Coeus. I also think I’ve broken a few ribs, I could use a break.”
Coeus stares off into nothing without even acknowledging his name.
“Thank you.” Cronus speaks for all of us. Jeff blushes a little. Mortals. So emotional.
“If you’re going after her then we’ll go find Dionysus, if we dismantle them piece by piece it will be easier than just going after the head of the snake, right?”
I feel their eyes on me, some smile like there’s some inside joke that I’m not a part of.
“You have changed, we should have thrown you in Tartarus ages ago.”
“How do we get where we need to go?”
“I might be able to help.”
The voice is not one of ours. It’s someone else. And it comes from behind us. We all turn to see this person slowly stepping out with their hands held high in the air.
Tethys is gone before we can react, like a flash. She hurls herself at him and they both tumble to the ground. She doesn’t summon her elemental. She doesn’t need to. She’s going to use her hands to kill him. She’s going to choke the life from him with her bare hands and watch the light go out of his eyes.
She’s making excellent progress on that and I don’t move to stop it. I would do the same thing.
Before she does Oceanus grabs her arm, stopping her fist from slamming into his youthful face. Might knock some of those pretty teeth right out.
We gather around and he looks up at the ceiling, closing his eyes and waiting for it.
“You’ve got about ten seconds before I let her go at you. Go.”
He opens one eye to see Oceanus holding her arms pinned behind her back, though she’s trying her best to break free of him.
“It’s not what you think.”
“Not a great start,” I haul him up by his shoulders, “do better.”
“I’m sorry,” he says it to Tethys, not the rest of us though, “I should have come back for you, a long time ago. I’m sorry.”
She looks at him and her shoulders sag, the fight leaving her. Oceanus lets go of her arms, slowly. She take a deep breath.
And she punches Hermes right across the mouth.