Cronus didn’t speak much during his flight, instead opting to sit with Rhea in comfortable silence and think about Demeter. They had been more than friends, like some of the others, and she had betrayed him. It hurt.
Crius and Oceanus talked excitedly about the plane itself, Oceanus apparently having forgotten his desire to sail and Crius thrilled to be so close to the stars again. Hades was with Phoebe and Coeus, while Jeff slept in a seat. Sometimes he would wake and groan as he shifted, nursing at least a few broken ribs.
They were flying to Argentina with a brief stop for Jeff, Phoebe and Coeus. Hades had sent for Jeff’s family. That had surprised Cronus. Hades had never seemed to be a caring type of person. Cronus had looked up what the Olympians had crafted as Hades’ background only to find he was not a highly prized god among them. The master of the underworld that was disliked and cast aside.
Cronus wondered if it had hurt Hades, despite all the arrogance and bravado.
He ran his fingers over his lesser sickle, thinking back to Demeter. How she’d caught his eye. The mortals had spread across the earth at the time, the Titans spread out with them. Their first village had become a large city of thousands with small towns cropping up along the coastlines of the world as Oceanus and Crius guided ships across the vast oceans. She had been working a new field for the city and she was loud. She was ordering the others around as they removed stones and stumps, Cronus always felt that the mortals should be able to stand on their own and not rely on the power of a Titan. She had embodied that.
As the plow dug into the soft earth, creating fresh furrows for seeding she lost the loud and cheered with the rest. Cronus had fallen in love with her. Her strength and a love for the earth were too much for him to resist. Titans were not invulernable to emotions after all.
Not long after that day Hyperion started the war that had led them to Tartarus. Everything had changed since then.
Now she was corrupted. Something he wouldn’t remember. Something he would have to kill. Maybe she had been corrupted from the beginning. Maybe he had made a mistake.
Either way, her betrayal stung him.
He thought about it for the length of the flight until they landed at a small airport in the darkness. Hades hurried the three that they would leave behind down the stairs to the tarmac where another group waited.
Cronus was getting tired of all the players on the board, it was getting hard to keep track.
Coeus blankly followed his sister to the group, who stepped into the light. Cronus recognized them through the plane window, most of them at least.
“Calm,” Hades held up both hands but it was useless as all four bolted past him and out of the plane, after Jeff, Phoebe and Coeus.
One of the group on the tarmac stepped forward, looking ready to fight. Oceanus held the trident and Cronus his sickle as they both stared down the young man.
“Stop it, there’s been enough violence over all of this!”
She stepped forward and spoke the commanding words, and she was the only one that Cronus didn’t know. Two of the others were Olympians and the young man standing behind them was Iapetus’ son.
A hero and champion of the mortals, the boy was well liked and always did what he thought was right for the mortals over the gods. Cronus had liked the boy before he had disappeared. As they fought their wars he vanished.
“Who are you?”
He rounded on this woman who felt she could command him and she placed a hand on his chest and he felt something in it. There was power.
She tilted her head at him.
“What, you think you were the only children they had? Titans may have come first but that doesn’t mean you were the end. There are many gods. Lesser and greater.”
Cronus couldn’t believe it, it made sense of course but it was a lot to take in at once. Especially with the other two. Phoebe was too drained to be angry and Coeus was still not himself. Athena took his arm and looked in his eyes, those dead green eyes, and she started to cry.
“I’m so sorry.”
Phoebe didn’t look at her, her gaze is on Apollo. He opens his mouth but she shook her head.
“Not now. Just. Not now.”
The young man spoke for everyone after a long silence, an awkward silence as everyone seethed.
“Can this wait for another time? A better time?”
Cronus reluctantly agreed, pulling the others back towards the plane. Before they left he stopped Jeff, placing a hand on the mortal’s shoulder.
“Thank you, for everything. We will not forget it.”
At the top of the stairs, Cronus stopped and held out the sickle, pointing to the woman and young man, alternating between them.
“If anything happens to them, you die. You hear me, Prometheus?”
With that he was gone, leaving the threat lingering in the air.
Jeff wasn’t surprised by these proclamations anymore, he just looked at the two and shrugged, idly rubbing his chest through the pain.
“He means it.”
Demeter owned a vast area of property in Argentina, where she’d built a sprawling home to befit her status. It was filled with marble, statues and gaudy symbols of their former glory as the Greek gods, when they had lived in the public eye. When farmers came to pray in her temple and offer what little they had for the slightest favor.
They changed with the times, when the Romans became an imperial power she adapted, just like the others. Zeus had argued it but she was smarter than he was and she knew it.
They had grown fat and happy and content off the mortals until Zeus made a mess of it all. Now she would have to clean that up too. Maybe it was time for a new king of the gods, maybe time for a queen.
Now she walked her not so humble abode, pacing the floor and waiting. They had killed that fat fool Poseidon and she might be next on their list. They had sold her on this plan, Ares promising she would be completely safe. That they wouldn’t expect it.
She remembered Cronus though and he wasn’t stupid.
Her hope was that even if he wasn’t stupid that he was blinded by her turning her back on him. Maybe he would slip up. Maybe he wouldn’t gut her.
She ran her finger over the blade of his sickle, now hers, drawing a pinprick of blood from the blade. She watched it well up on the tip of her finger and felt comfort. Even if they made it to her she could hold her own.
Not like Poseidon. She hadn’t forgotten the Titans, she hadn’t bought her own myth. She had readied for the day they would open Tartarus.
She forged her myth on her own now, through blood and earth.
We land at a small, private airfield and I wonder how Themis will receive Artemis, being the one of us most unlikely to forgive a slight. Hermes knew she was waiting for us there and had told us in advance, maybe to keep the rage of the moment away. Maybe to buy some small favour from us.
Maybe just for fun. I don’t know.
When I see Artemis standing at the base of the stairs it occurs to me that I won’t have to wait very long to find out.
Themis slowly descended the stairs from the plane with plodding steps on the metal stairs that reverberate in the empty space.
It’s delicious in the tension it creates. I stand at the top and lean, Tethys opposite me. Hermes quickly and lightly makes his way down the steps, envious grace for a rather large man, while Mnemosyne shakes her head at us. She judges what brings us amusement.
I shrug at her. To each their own.
Ten thousand years with little entertainment, this is where I get mine. Themis is too set in justice to kill Artemis anyway. Probably punishment of some kind, just not death. She won’t forgive what happened but the only time Themis takes a life for justice is when a life has been taken. Such moral fortitude.
Themis reaches the floor and stares down Artemis for a long time, almost uncomfortably long. Artemis holds a bow in one hand and offers it up, horizontal, to Themis. Themis tears her glare away and looks the bow over, running her hands over the smooth surface and testing the weight of the bow before deftly flipping it and catching it again.
I applaud softly and she gives me a look.
I stop. Clearly not the time.
Themis takes Artemis by the arm and they walk off together to a place where I am not. At least I assume that’s where they go. Hermes summons us towards a separate room, perhaps to leave them alone or maybe to craft a great plan or course of action.
I say kick doors in and burn them all.
“I think we should go in hard and not give them a chance to dig in more.”
Well he’s not far from what I would have suggested, just in more words. I smile at him and he gives me a very strange look, withdraws a little. Worried perhaps. Maybe that I’ll use him to break down the door? Or as a shield from their Titan weaponry?
Maybe he’s a little worried about all of the above in their own ways.
“I am on board with that.” I do like simple plans. The less moving parts in a plan the less likely something will fail, that’s just factual.
Mnemosyne rolled her eyes and I’d bet she thought I didn’t see it. I did.
No one ever appreciates my tactical brilliance. Even if it wasn’t my idea in the first place.
Hermes seems equally surprised by the agreement, as if he has forgotten who I am. I am the god of fire and sun and I do enjoy a fight. You either win and it feels like nothing can stop you or you die and you’ve earned a good death. I always envied the Northmen and their approach to death. I wonder where they are. Probably enjoying their fabled afterlife.
Now is not the time.
“Where are they? Where are the doors we need to kick?” I say, to bring myself back to the moment at hand.
He rolls out a map and outlines where Dionysus is hiding out. Hiding out isn’t an easy task if Artemis is tracking you, she was born for that. It likely hadn’t taken her long to find her prey, even if he had gone to ground.
Themis returns and Artemis behind her.
“Worked it out?”
Themis nods and that’s all we’re going to get so I move on, not much point in trying to draw blood from that stone. Not a talkative Titan, our sister. Never was and that is not going to change now, even if I pester her with questions. So it’s time to focus on the task.
“So where is this place?”
Hermes shuffles uncomfortably, then sighs.
Perfect, the first place we all want to go back to. Who doesn’t want to escape one underground prison just to walk into another? With more mortals looking to kill us though, so not entirely the same.
“Well?” I ask, looking to each of them.
They all nod in agreement and it is decided.
It’s time to visit a drunk.
Aphrodite and Prometheus took their wards to a small, quiet suburban neighbourhood with unassuming homes. Athena sat in the backseat with Coeus, trying to get his attention but he simply stared ahead at the headrest of the seat in front of him and mumbled under his breath.
Phoebe stared out her window, ignoring Apollo. He didn’t try to explain himself, he knew she had already heard it all before. Every possibility and every word he could have said. She had killed him in some, she had died in others, she knew every choice that could play out. Now it was up to her to decide which one she would live in. He knew that. So he sat in silence.
It was all in all, most definitely, an awkward car ride.
Jeff sat wedged between Apollo and Phoebe, looking between them awkwardly and catching Prometheus’ eyes in the rear-view mirror. Prometheus offered a sympathetic smile. Jeff ignored it.
They parked the car and piled out, Athena leading Coeus into the house with Phoebe and Apollo close behind. Jeff eased himself up the walkway to the door when a little girl with pretty blonde hair appeared and he sped up, catching a blur of motion and lifting her up despite the pain shooting through his broken ribs. The other two weren’t far behind and his wife urged them all back into the house while Aphrodite and Prometheus watched the street for any sign of life.
When there was no movement they disappeared into the house as well, a house that no one knew about, deep off their books.
It was safe, at least for now.
“You’ll be safe here until we get back,” Aphrodite waited for Jeff to finish his reunion before talking to him and Apollo. Phoebe wasn’t leaving her brother and Coeus was being looked at by Athena, that left the two of them to watch over things.
“If anyone can help Coeus regain his mind, it’s Athena.” Prometheus offered but Jeff didn’t seem impressed. He was well and truly sided with the Titans now and these…gods had hurt them. Badly.
“Where are you going?”
“We need help. They need help. We’ve got a few places to go that might turn up that help but it will take a while.”
Prometheus answered for Aphrodite and she didn’t argue, they were his siblings after all. They were his responsibility to find, since he had hidden them away when things started turning towards a war.
“Don’t be long,” Jeff glanced through the front windows, “you’re wrong if you think they won’t find out about this place. It’s a matter of time.”
He still stood watching, even as the brake lights of their vehicle disappeared around the corner. His wife touched his arm and he placed a hand on hers.
“What have you gotten us into?” she asked him softly.
He could only muster a kiss for her forehead but no answer. He didn’t have an answer.
“Do you believe in gods?” he said quietly after a long pause of staring into the darkness of the silent street.
She shook her head and he looked at her, very solemnly.