Hermes rubs his jaw as blood leaks out through his teeth, teeth that might be a bit loose now.
“Good hit.” I say.
It gets me some glares but Tethys smiles a little, not much but a little. So it’s worth it.
Hermes struggles to his feet, shaking his head like that will help.
“How sorry can you be?” she screams at him when he’s finally up, “you left us there!”
Hermes looks down to the floor and spits a gob of blood into the dust, rubbing it in with his boot.
“I know. I should have come before. I shouldn’t have done it in the first place, really.”
“So why now?”
Hermes looks up and the shame is gone from his eyes, replaced with anger. At least it looks like anger. Hermes was never one for that but he has changed. I suppose we all have.
“Zeus told me what he wanted to do and I wouldn’t be part of it. Most of us wouldn’t. We lived with leaving you in there but he wanted more, needed more.”
“How did you even find us?” Themis asking the important questions, which was good since we apparently had a fountain of knowledge now.
“It was easy. We split up and one of us took one of them. Then we waited for things to blow up. Looks like I’m the lucky winner. Artemis owes me five bucks. I told her even with you-” he points at me, “-going for Zeus would be stupid.”
I’m really not sure how to take that.
To save my own pride I’ll take it as a compliment.
Tethys is still seething but Cronus steps in, distracting her.
“You said you could help us? How?”
Hermes smiled, still showing off some of that blood from Tethys’ hit.
“You think they’re the only ones that have resources?
“Why should we trust you?” Tethys almost spat the words, venomous. I love it. A river of rage, our little sister.
He reaches down and draws a dagger out from a sheath strapped to his ankle, holding it out palm up for Tethys.
“This belongs to you.”
She takes it, running her fingers over the blade. It’s hers alright, she moves like water with that thing. It’s terrifying.
She looks at him, presses the tip of the blade into the flesh under his chin and flicks it, drawing blood and a wince from him.
“You’ll be the first to die.”
He nods, then steps aside for us to take the stairs back down to the main level.
I grab his shoulder and lean in close, might as well drive the point home. He looks nervous. Good.
“What she said.”
Hermes leads us out of the building, a not so subtle group of Titans waiting for an ambush that doesn’t come. He guides us through the streets and down to the docks, through a gated fence and into a rather large warehouse. He turns on a light to reveal a hangar and several storage crates lined along the sides.
At the end of the hangar is a door and as we crowd into the space a man steps out from it. He wears an open suit jacket and a red collared shirt, looking as cocky and arrogant as I remember. He walks across the gap towards us.
He looks at Hermes and the rapidly forming bruise that marks where Tethys’ fist made contact. Then he looks to Crius.
“Let’s not do that.”
Crius surprises me, maybe all of us, by crossing the floor and embracing the man.
“I have missed you, you prick.”
Then Crius punches him in the stomach, doubling the man over with gasping breaths.
“At least it wasn’t the face,” Crius says, reaching down and grabbing the coiffed hair and dragging him back to a standing position while the man grimaces and lets out throttled chuckles.
“Probably deserved that,” he finally manages to say, straightening his suit jacket with a tug and smoothing his hair down. Clearly he’s done well for himself in these years without us, he would though. He was always the sort to get his due no matter what, to find the coins buried in the mud.
“The bins are labelled for each of you. Some of us have done well enough, despite all this, and we want to help you now. You may not believe it but I’m among them. The helpers, that is.”
Hades smiles as we open the containers with our names, staring down at the contents.
“Hurry up, we have lots of places to be and not that much time. Chop chop. Things to do and gods to kill.”
“Now you look like Titans again, no more prison rags,” Hades snaps one of Oceanus’ suspenders and I grudgingly have to admit some gratitude towards him. No more worn out prison shoes or sailor discards. They aren’t exactly the loose clothes I remember being all the rage when we were out but it’s kind of nice. Form fitting but not restrictive. Fighting in style. Not to mention the documents he had provided for each of us.
“Passports, best forgeries in the world, they’ll get you across any border,” Hermes passes them out one by one, “cash too. You need to start flying under the radar, if that’s possible.”
Not a bad point. The world has been without gods for a while, might be a surprise to them to find out they’re real.
“Phones, paid for. So we can chat at leisure,” Hades hands those out, one by one, “and you have some things to learn now. The world is a whole new place.”
“Why are you helping us?”
Themis brings a full stop to the movement in the hangar by asking it. It’s a good question, a very good question. We can’t know what will happen to the Olympians after all this, maybe without the weapons they’ll just…die.
“Because what we did wasn’t right and this is how we make it right,” Hades says it and I am surprised to not hear the usual arrogant tone from him, no snarky remarks. He’s sincere about that.
Themis apparently feels the same way because she gives him a curt nod and that would appear to be the end of that.
“You want to split up I hear,” and just like that, Hades is back, “probably for the best. Demeter is in Argentina and Dionysus is hiding out with some of his buddies in Russia. I can get you there, I’ll even do it for free…this time. Then I’ll take Phoebe, Coeus and your new friend here out of the way of the mess I’m pretty sure you’re going to make. I think I know someone who might be able to help with that.”
Jeff, likely nursing a few broken ribs, agrees to that. Phoebe won’t leave Coeus’ side so it’s an easy choice, he needs to be out of the way.
“How are you going to do all that?”
Hades smiles and we follow him beyond the door he’d come through from, finding two sleek black jets waiting for us.
“Your new chariots await.”
Oceanus looks at his trident and mutters something.
“What?” I say, turning to him and he frowns.
“I wanted to sail.”
We didn’t spend long on goodbye, who wants to when it might be the last goodbye?
Hermes offers to be our guide to Russia, something Tethys doesn’t seem too pleased by but she accepts it. Mnemosyne and Themis are along for the ride as well, the four of us sitting in silence on the plane while we head to see about Dionysus.
He had styled himself as the god of wine, a stark contrast to the Dionysus that we all remember. Themis and Hermes sit together and she pries information about Artemis out of him, Tethys sits and glares at Hermes while toying with her elemental. That just leaves Mnemosyne.
She’s staring out the window. I assume she’s thinking about her friend, at least he had been once upon a time. She can remember everything in perfect detail, probably playing through every conversation and every moment they had spent together and trying to remember something. Maybe a clue he was going to betray her. So she just sits and stares.
I wonder how Theia would have felt about flying like this, being up in her clear sky. To be above the clouds like this and soar over the earth. She would have loved it.
I push the thoughts out of my mind and take the seat beside Mnemosyne. She looks over and goes back to staring.
“Do you think we should have seen it coming?” she asks me quietly, still staring out at the sky.
“I honestly don’t know, maybe we were too distracted. Maybe they were too subtle.”
She doesn’t speak for a long time, just stares. Then she turns to me, cheeks wet with tears, and puts a hand on my leg.
“It’s not your fault.”
On my seat is the coiled black metal chain that holds my powers, that once split the clouds in the sky for the sun to come through and bring life to the earth. I look at it and wonder if I would have been able to resist the call of power if I had been Zeus. I should have known better to trust him, to let him get close. We all should have been.
I squeeze her hand before standing.
“Yeah, it is.”
She goes back to staring and I leave to see Tethys, who won’t stop glaring at Hermes.
“We should kill him,” she says it through her teeth and the orb wiggles an approval of the suggestion.
“No, we shouldn’t.”
She tears her glare away from him and instead focuses it on me. The orb too.
“Could you forgive Zeus?”
“Of course not, but you’re better than me in most every way little sister.”
“I’m older than you.”
She elbows me in the side, a little harder than I’d like, but the glare softens. She’s hurt but she is better than most of us, if anyone can forgive one of them it would be her. Maybe Crius, but he gets lost in the stars sometimes.
“That’s all we can do. Not like we’re gods or anything…”
She elbows me again and then we laugh, killing the tension. I don’t want to spend the flight thinking about Cronus and the others or what is waiting for us in Russia.
More death. Just like Phoebe said.
“Poseidon is dead.”
Iapetus pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment before he kicked out and shoved a chair across the small office, shattering it against a bookcase. Ares waited for the Titan to calm himself, as he always did, before the next delivery of bad news.
Aphrodite disappeared too, she slipped past my men.”
“Isn’t that just great!” Iapetus shouted it and a military officer poked his head in the door before quickly retreating when he saw the matchstick chair.
Iapetus took Ares’ chair and sat down in it. They were losing men and they were bleeding Zeus’ money. With Poseidon dead there would be a lengthy legal process before the funds became available. His protégé was dead too so they had just lost an enormous amount of their bankroll. Which they needed for the mortals. They did not help out of the kindness of their souls or fear.
They had found a silver lining though. The serious security personnel weren’t leaving, the cocky ones that thought they could kill a god and the ones that cared more about the sizable increase in pay they would get for killing one. A bounty that Zeus offered.
“We were wrong, Hyperion apparently learned something over all those years. Maybe the others were just more convincing. I didn’t think my brother would ever learn the meaning of nuance or restraint. We should consolidate now…wait.”
Ares paused with his hand on the phone, staring at his mentor and master. More the latter than the former.
“I think I have an idea what they’ll do next. And what we can do about it.”