I stepped through after Cerberus took down the door, his three pairs of eyes searching for the rabbit that he had chased after. Instead he found a busy dance floor that was now deathly silent. There was a handful of thugs with their weapons out too. When the first shot rang out the bullet sank into the meat of Cerberus’ shoulder.
From there, things got worse.
Not for us.
Cerberus is too large and their weapons are designed for a man sized target, not a Cerberus sized target. It sinks into his haunch but doesn’t stop the three-headed beast. More like it infuriates him.
Cerberus moves like a flash and closes one set of jaws on the man’s chest and another on his legs. Then he does what dogs are prone to do and moves the heads apart. I can only hear the muffled screams and they don’t last long.
Mortals are not built for that sort of punishment and his body gives out under the forces being put on it and it is truly disgusting. He tears in half around the waist and Cerberus tosses the halves in opposing directions with a wet noise.
There was a long pause in the room while the music remained stopped and every single patron stared in abject horror. There were strangers in their midst, blood soaked and horrific strangers with a three-headed dog that had just torn a man in half.
That must be a sight.
At the end of the pause there is a noise that comforts me. There were various black urns scattered throughout the massive room and at that moment an unsuspecting bartender turned a knob. Dionysus rose from his booth and shouted something at the young bartender, but it was too late. He had turned it.
The urns came to life with flame, flickering as a pilot light ignited a thick fluid and sending bright blue flames into the air. It’s not the sun but it is fire and that is good enough. Once it is in the air I can feel it on my skin, pinpricks rising on my skin as the energy crackles in each particle of air.
I think Dionysus had tried to shout “no” but it was too late. The searing pain in my arm instantly begins to fade, not as quickly as it would if it was the sun but quickly enough. The fibers knit themselves back together and I flex my fingers out as the numbness fades from them, feeling the muscles loosen and heal.
I stand beside Cerberus who growls at the remaining thugs and guards, who slowly back away from the three-headed dog that stands as tall as my shoulders.
Mnemosyne pushes past me and thrusts a finger at Dionysus on his balcony overlooking us.
She says something that I’ve never heard come from her mouth, something I never thought our sweet sister would say to any living being.
“I will kill you, you bastard!”
I’m so proud of her.
“What are you waiting for!” Dionysus shouts back, throwing his glass at us weakly, “kill them!”
The guards look at each other, then to Cerberus and to me and the rest of the Titans and Olympians that stand with us. They seem nervous.
They should be.
The first to go for his weapon, reaching for his armpit where a pistol hangs, is pierced by an arrow that pins his wrist to his chest. He would probably have screamed in pain if he wasn’t dead.
“Good shot,” I say to Artemis and she smiles at me, notching another arrow.
It doesn’t take long before it’s my favourite part of any day.
The part where the fighting starts.
There is chaos in the underground. I move quickly and strike down a man with a pistol, the chain bursting through his chest and back and snuffing out a life. Cerberus is beside me, growling and tearing through those bold enough to take on the over sized hound. Hermes and Artemis move like water in their own ways, Artemis light on her feet and loosing arrows as she does. Hermes is a flash of movement that hits like a hammer against an anvil. Tethys is between the two, her elemental flowing around her as she dances a path of death with the dagger, slashing and striking through flesh and bone.
It’s in the lust for battle that we made our mistake.
Themis had allowed Artemis to keep her bow, the symbol of balance that she had been so skilled with. Tethys had her dagger and Hermes was clearly good with his hands and had some sort of training, he used discarded firearms in place of the dagger he had returned to Tethys. I have the chain and Cerberus needs no weapon.
Mnemosyne and Themis have no weapons, so they held themselves back from the line of fighting.
Or they should have. There was our mistake. Our critical error. Mnemosyne was furious with her friend and she took off towards his vantage point, weaving through the dancers. The guards didn’t have to focus on her because they were busy enough with us. Only Themis saw her run off and only Themis gave chase.
Only Themis followed Mnemosyne up the stairs to the booth. Only Themis was there to fight with the two bodyguards alongside our sister, the two men that bravely and foolishly stood against two Titans. Even without weapons it was no contest.
I should have been there for them.
Dionysus was wobbling on his feet, Mnemosyne went at him first. An eternity of drinking had made him almost immune to the effects of it all. The wobbling was just for show. A disarming show. He wasn’t stupid even if he had made his living as the fool of the Olympians.
He was no fool.
Themis saw it before Mnemosyne did, probably being more aware and less clouded by anger. Probably because she was a better warrior. Probably for a dozen other reasons.
I should have been there.
Themis pulled Mnemosyne away and to the side as Dionysus stopped wobbling, stopped the lie and thrust a blade from inside the lining of his suit jacket at Mnemosyne. The blade flashed in the club’s lights and time slowed to a crawl.
All the noise faded away, all the people faded away, everything but Mnemosyne’s own blade as it slid through Themis’ chest. It slipped between her ribs and pierced her heart and Themis died on that balcony. She was snuffed out just like that.
There was no justice in it. No fairness.
I know all this because Mnemosyne cannot forget it. Every detail. Every moment.
Right up to when we found her alone on that balcony. She cradled Themis’ head in her lap and wept.
I don’t have her gift or abilities. I only have mine.
I don’t remember how I got to the end. I don’t know how I found him but I did. I found him in an alley, trying to run for a car. I broke his leg with the chain. He fell to the ground screaming and I saw a blood covered blade skitter across the pavement.
I hear the faint screaming as I walk to him and turn him over with my foot. People run in terror but I have no eyes for them. I just see him. He clutches his shattered leg and looks at me with fear. He knows his mistake.
I hear him say something in a pleading tone. I tell him that begging doesn’t suit him.
I turn him over onto his front and grab the back of his suit jacket, pulling him up to his knees. He shrieks as the destroyed bones in his bad leg grind and move. I ignore it. His car speeds away and his thugs desert him.
I lean down and whisper into his ear. I don’t know what I’m going to say until I say it.
“You die alone.”
I grip his chin and slam shut his mouth to end the screaming. I think some teeth shatter but it won’t matter in a moment. I sink my knee into his upper back and press forward to apply firm pressure. I pull back with my hands and twist his head at the same time while pushing forward with my knee with all the force I can muster.
The snap echoes through the alley and the streets and the city itself.
I look up to see a small group watching from the end of the alley where the car had been, they have their devices out and are watching me with fearful but interested eyes. Vultures, craving a scene of death. They watch and record, only shrinking away when Cerberus finds me and sniffs at my hands and the blade. He whines softly and nuzzles my arm with one of those blockish heads and I scratch him.
“I know pup,” I say, looking at the blood as my vision clouds with tears, “I know.”
I leave Dionysus’ body there in the alley, alone and to be forgotten. So dies a false god.
I only stop to retrieve the blade with Themis’ blood still coating the blade.
I think I will remember this night as Mnemosyne will. It will always be clear. As I carry my sister out and we disappear into the night I only have one thought.
I should have been there.