A young woman held her head up high even as the blood flowed from the cuts on her forehead and from a broken nose, leaking between loose and completely shattered teeth. Ares had rolled up his sleeves for this one, letting Iapetus take a break. He stood over the young woman and absently rubbed at the pinprick point on his chin that Aphrodite had left him. Though the wound wasn’t much it was his pride that had been cut deeply. So he had taken it out on the young woman tied to the chair.
“Hestia, Hestia, Hestia, didn’t think we’d find you?” Ares leaned forward and sank the tip of a knife into her knee. She screamed.
“Scream all you like, no one is coming for you.” Ares said it, leaving the knife buried there.
Ares had never liked her, she’d been far too soft and overly concerned. She hadn’t ever been convinced to betray the Titans. She had been forced to. They threatened to kill her and she’d gone along with their plan in exchange for her life. She was weak.
Cowardice, he’d always thought. The others had given in to greed for power or other selfish desires. She’d given in so that she would live.
Ironic, seeing where she was now.
They’d found her in Greece, living as a nun and doing everything she could for the poor and destitute. How noble.
Ares twisted the blade in her knee and she screamed again. She and Aphrodite had been close but Ares knew only one of them had any fortitude. One of them that gave him pause and one of them that made him nervous. It wasn’t this one. It wasn’t Hestia.
He removed the knife slowly, watching blood pool and run down her leg. She gritted what was left of her teeth and spat an enormous gob of tooth fragments and blood at his face with pinpoint accuracy. Ares fell back, rubbing his eye and shrieking while she laughed hysterically.
Ares snatched a bottle of water from a low table and emptied it over his eye before turning his attention back to her. Maybe she wasn’t so weak after all.
“That’s how you want to do it then,” Ares growled at her, looking to the other woman in the room. She stood in the shadows, arms crossed over a white coat that was pulled tight. She carried a folded set of instruments that she was well versed in.
Hera stepped forward, unflinching at the emotions that would usually come from seeing what, essentially, was her sister. Hestia was bloodied and beaten and tied to a chair. Iapetus sat reading in the opposite corner, not bothered by any of it. Indifferent and waiting for it to be over. He looked up at the bloodied Hestia and raised an eyebrow.
Hestia turned her chin up at him and smiled.
“That’s how I want to do it.”
Cronus and company had arrived in Argentina, with Hades acting as guide. As a group they were short on help, given that three of them had been betrayed. They did all know that Hades wasn’t a loss to have on their team though, he was cunning. Sneaky, if one was feeling less gracious about what praise should be delivered to a clearly disliked “god”.
At least, disliked by the Olympians.
As well as the Titans, perhaps with the sole exception of Crius.
Hades didn’t seem to mind much, he took the sideways glances and general distrust easily. He was used to it.
“She’s at her villa, not really bothering to hide. Either it’s a trap or she’s incredibly stupid. I’d guess after Hyperion’s little show in Singapore, it’s probably option a.”
He grinned at the collective, who ignored his glibness in favour of the map he’d procured of her villa. It was a sprawling affair, the grounds well-kept and dotted with marble statues and a wide staircase leading up to Greco roman columns that framed the massive house. It was perched on the top of a hill and the grounds offered line of sight for at least a mile in any direction for any patrolling guards or sentries.
“There’s not really another option,” Oceanus rubbed the chip in his trident and looked over the map, “even if we wait until nightfall we’ll be spotted before we get near her. If she’s even in there.”
Hades adopted an offended look.
“She’s in there. Has been for a week.”
“So,” Cronus interrupted them before it escalated like it always did, “if we can’t approach it quiet like then we take a page from our brother’s handbook. We walk right up to the front door.”
He looked to Crius, who gave his agreement.
Oceanus did the same.
Hades was last and rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, great, I vote for the suicide mission too. That sounds fun.”
We find ourselves looking at a doorway.
Artemis, Themis, Tethys, Mnemosyne, Hermes and me.
It’s an unassuming entryway, a door set back in an alley about thirty feet. There’s two burly men standing by the door, checking the patrons of the club in and out. When they aren’t busy doing that they’re talking to each other, chuckling and not really paying attention to their surroundings.
They should really be paying attention. This might not be as difficult as we thought.
“Are we just constantly wrong about how strong we are, even without the weapons? This all seems too easy,” Tethys whispers into my ear and I honestly can’t answer.
Maybe we assumed wrong. Maybe they weren’t all that powerful. Maybe we were buying their lies about being gods instead of relying on the knowledge that we are gods.
“Don’t think about that yet,” I whisper back to her, “it’s not the time to think about it. That’s how mistakes happen.”
I try to drive the thought of my own mind but it occurs to me that Hermes has always been different. Faster than a mortal man should be. Gifted. Maybe some of these Olympians maybe have something to them. Maybe that’s how they stole our power.
How many gods can there possibly be? There has to be a line drawn somewhere, there has to be.
“We’ll take them quiet,” Hermes opens his mouth and speaks, I roll my eyes at him.
“The plan was to kick in the doors, no need to be subtle about those two.”
I walk towards them, letting my chain unravel and drag on the pavement, the clattering links comforting to hear. It’s also loud and obnoxious and gives me away well before I reach the two men. They freeze in place, as they should. They stand in the presence of a god.
The arrows that hit them come in quick succession and I feel the wind of them passing over my shoulders, one pinning a man to the brick wall and the other flung down the alley like a rag doll, as if struck by a hammer blow.
I turn and Artemis just smiles as me.
“You were taking too long,” she says, as if she’s funny. I repeat the words but mock her with the highest pitch I can muster and walk to the door leading to the club and our dear Dionysus. She tries the handle but it doesn’t budge, they have some sort of heavy-duty lock set on the thing. She takes a strange device from her pocket and kneels at the door, fiddling with the lock.
I wait just long enough and then I strike with the chain. The door bends inward under the last link before the hinges give out and the whole mess crashes inward with the shrieking of metal on metal, crashing down a long flight of steps. I glance down the stairs and see that, luckily, no one was on the stairs. What are the odds?
I look to Artemis who doesn’t look happy.
“You were taking too long.” It feels good to throw the words back at her, oh does it feel good.
Themis leads the charge down towards the thumping music of the nightclub, Tethys and Hermes on her heels. I bow slightly and offer the doorway to Artemis while Mnemosyne waits for us to be done with the games. Artemis tuts at me as she runs off after the others.
“You missed her, didn’t you?”
Mnemosyne says it to me and I don’t answer her, there’s too much to focus on for a distraction like that.
But yes. I did.
It didn’t take long for the screaming to start once the door hit the bottom of the stairs and someone noticed us coming down the stairs, I suppose fame comes at a price of recognition. The man who created fire was coming and last time he and his friends had showed up a few people had ended up dead. That might scare the mortals, especially with their fears and insecurities about death.
Those who were there to live it up scattered first, fleeing from the main entry into the club itself where the music was still thumping away. Themis threw herself into the first thug to come around the corner and they fell together as she used a flurry of strikes to subdue him. Tethys launched her elemental at the next one, enveloping him in a clear bubble of water before tossing him into a wall with a loud crunch of breaking bones.
I hadn’t seen Hermes fight in a very long time but as we rounded into the club’s first room, of two, I was witness to the graceful display that it was. There were at least half a dozen men moving to block us from going further. Some of them were already shooting as they moved but Hermes was too quick for that, he dodged to the left and slid along the floor to the first on the far left. He moved up, twisted the man’s arm and then delivered a side kick to his knee. It shattered and his leg collapsed inward as the man screamed in pain and clutched at a now useless leg. The second and third were moving to aim at Hermes but he was there, grabbing the second in line by the wrist and twisting his arm up and over his head and using a free hand to cause the thug to fire his pistol right into the third man’s left eye.
He spun, using the second thug as a shield from the onslaught of gunfire, moving backward to the last three. They dropped empty magazines to reload but Hermes was right there. The fourth man had slammed his magazine in when Hermes grabbed the pistol and turned it, firing up into the man’s chin and making a mess of the top of his head. He was moving for the last two when a single arrow pinned their arms together and they screamed until another pierced both their heads.
Artemis just couldn’t let anyone have all the fun.
“That was easy,” Hermes said, watching the two bodies drop to the floor together.
Oh what fun.
We have only made it to the first of two main rooms that make up the club, I know that from the blueprints that there is also at least two exits and a manager’s office and storage rooms. Where we are now is just the first of many rooms to clear and still no sign of Dionysus, though people who came to party the night away have begun fleeing to the next room. That leaves us in an empty room lit by pulsing lights that would probably go very well with music. If there was any.
The next room is larger, much larger and a VIP lounge overlooks the dance floor. Dionysus will be above us and above is always the better place to be.
“Those double doors take us to him,” Mnemosyne had entered after us, she was never much for the violence and bloodshed we were more accustomed to. I think it has to do with remembering everything that she sees and does, seeing a life drain every moment can’t be easy.
We don’t get a chance to move before a series of enormous floodlights light up the room and heavy bars drop to close the entry and exits to us, bars that look an awful lot like Titanic metals. Gone are the pulsing lights and we are left in a brightly lit dance room. From a perch above us, Dionysus appears, holding a half empty glass of wine in one hand.
“Welcome to my world,” he says into a microphone, slurring a little more than I remember, he could always hold his own in the drink. That means he must be well into his stash by now.
“Dion,” Mnemosyne speaks and no one else dares to, he was her friend and she will remember everything about him. It will be fresh for her. No matter how long it’s been.
“Don’t!” he shouts, sloshing wine out of the glass as he thrusts it at her, “don’t you ‘Dion’ at me. You, all of you, wanted everything! You took everything! Do you know how many people died? I do! Families butchered all for him!”
He points at me and I look down in shame. He’s not wrong.
“You deserved to rot in that place! Zeus never should have concocted his scheme, that power-hungry fool is as bad as you were!”
“Dion, please,” she begged him, “you don’t have to do this. None of this. Come with us. Please.”
He turned his back on her, drained his glass and yelled a short sentence that shot a pang of something I didn’t remember through my chest. A strange feeling that took a moment to place. With the words Dionysus was gone and we were alone with the sound of metal shrieking as a hole in the floor opened before us. The music started in the next room as we were quickly forgotten to die here.
“Let Cerberus have them!” He had said.
As the hatch in the floor opened further I remembered what the feeling was.
It was fear.