Hyperion: Part 20

Previously

Demeter stood on the stairs leading to her expansive home, arms crossed as the group approached. Kronos and Rhea led the group, the first with jaw clenched and the other pacing beside her formidable lion. Crius, Oceanus and Hades walked close behind as they cautiously approached her.

They had simply walked to her door, boldly done.

Her property was dotted with ornate marble statues carrying swords and spears in various formidable poses of combat, striking pieces of art. The faded white contrasted against the manicured green lawn.

“You should have died in that hole,” she shouted, turning on her heel and marching through the front doors. “I suppose here will have to do.”

Kronos and the others had no time to react before sections of the perfect grass lifted around them and heavily armed troops leaped from the new holes and began shooting. At the same time the marble statues seemed to come to life, joints appearing as they moved arms and legs and descended their platforms.

Kronos raised his hands and called on the earth around them, raising up a fortification that surrounded them and absorbed the gunfire. He focused on the earth, strengthening it while the gunfire continued.

Rhea helped him, drawing veins of stone into the earthen wall from deep beneath their feet. She had just finished when a marble sword crashed through the wall and stopped only a few inches from her face, held in place by the earthen wall. The statues were Demeter’s work, she was more powerful than they had expected.

Oceanus moved quickly and dropped the handle of the trident through the marble sword, shattering it.

A spear tip burst through the wall and grazed Hades’ side. He grunted as blood started to seep out and glared at the others.

“Suicide mission!”

Hades said it angrily as he pulled the spear through the wall, gripping it by the handle and then pushing it back out the same hole. He was rewarded with the sound of marble grinding through marble.

There was a lull in the gunfire and they heard a muffled call for explosives.

“What’s your plan?” Rhea looked to her twin brother, holding the veins of stone inside his earthen wall.

“Do you remember that day with the Giants?” He asked her and she nodded, smiling slightly at the memory. They had been trapped by a few angry Giants after a mistaken foray into their territory. Before the truce. She remembered it well.

“Can we know the plan?” Hades moved to the side as the spear came back at him, this time the lion snapped it in half between powerful jaws. Hades looked at the stone lion.

“Show off.”

Oceanus and Crius weren’t against Hades’ question, instead Kronos and Rhea closed their eyes and placed their hands flat against the wall of earth and stone. They blocked out everything else and waited for the vibration of one of the soldiers slapping an explosive charge against the barrier, it rippled through the defence.

Then the wall exploded outwards, shards of stone mixing with pieces of earth and becoming deadly shrapnel, the explosive device didn’t get a chance to be detonated before the shard had either pierced the troops or tossed them to the ground with blunt force. The statues were largely unaffected, so Oceanus thrust the trident through the nearest while Rhea’s lion threw its weight onto another and began to demolish it with weighty paws and powerful jaws. Hades brushed shattered marble pieces off his shoulder and checked his bleeding wound calmly.

“Well, I suppose we’ll have to deal with them?”

Crius punched Hades in the shoulder and moved quickly towards the armed men that were struggling to get to their feet and retrieve their weapons.

“Shut up and do something.”

Hades mocked him and kicked one of the soldiers in the chin, slamming his mouth shut with the top of his shoes with resounding crack and knocking the man unconscious. Crius delivered his own strike, a closed fist across the face, of another. While they handled the men, Oceanus and Rhea’s lion continued struggling against the statues.

Kronos took the steps to the front door of the villa two at a time, entering a strangely quiet home. Rhea wasn’t far behind him.

Kronos saw her standing there, Demeter, arms crossed and sitting in a pristine white chair with a recognizable sickle lying flat across her lap. She played with the blade, running a thin finger along the edge. She smiled coyly at the two of them.

“Well, Ares thought it was worth a try. I told him it was worthless, but he insisted. You know how stubborn that idiot is.”

Kronos clenched his jaw and stared at her, gripping his lesser sickle so tightly his knuckles went white. Rhea stood back to let her brother work this out. It wasn’t her place and the villa was empty but for the lithe woman sitting in the chair.

Demeter remained sitting as Kronos walked to her. She held up the sickle in the palm of her hand and he took it from her.

“Can’t talk you out of it?” she said, watching him with a smirk.

He thrust the sickle into her stomach, letting the tip drive in and forcing the curved blade up into her chest. There it would pierce her heart and she would die, bleeding out in the perfect white chair.

She gasped, shocked and horrified, looking down and clutching at the blade slowly tearing through her flesh. There was no blood though and when she started laughing, Kronos knew something wasn’t quite right.

She laughed harder and harder, standing from the chair. In a terrifying turn she began to melt, her flawless skin becoming a thick sludge of mud and earth along with the sickle buried inside her chest. Kronos stepped back as the woman he had loved once became earthen. The façade collapsed onto the floor and chair in an earthen mess.

“I’m disappointed, I thought you would have been smarter than that.” Demeter’s voice returned, this time from a crystal screen on a wall opposite the chair she had been sitting in. She idly picked at some dirt beneath her fingernails on the screen.

“I can’t believe you thought I’d be sitting around waiting for you, not after that business with Poseidon. You got the attention of the world with that.”

She leaned forward towards the camera and held up the real sickle then raised her middle finger to Kronos and Rhea.

“Now you get to find out the price of fame.”

The screen went dark and she was gone. Kronos was about to say something to Rhea before Hades came in, pushing his hair back into place and looking unhappy.

“We’ve got a small problem,” he said, looking back through the front door, “town’s on fire.”

Next

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