Once again I find myself being whisked around by those with grander plans than my own. A great war coming to this mortal world, where gods wish weapons of destruction and chaos freed from their hiding place.
Odin wants haste and has offered us use of his plane, since Hades no longer has one. We will recover some of our group and travel to this France, where my children live in hiding. I am nervous about this trip, more nervous than I thought. There’s too much happening for me to process it all.
Theia is staring at me while the vehicle carries on, having asked Kronos and Artemis if they would give up their seats to her. They agreed. So we sat in an awkward silence. Rune had once turned his head to speak to us and Astrid had punched him with a knuckle in the throat. He coughed in the front seat, glaring at his sister, and didn’t turn around again.
“I am glad you are alive.” I say. She laughs.
“I should hope so you big dolt.”
I snort my own laugh. She weaves a hand into mine and squeezes. It feels strange and I imagine her body burning up and drifting into the air around us. Now her hand was in mine, warm and alive like I remember.
“I didn’t want to do it, leave you all behind.”
“I know.” I find the words feel right, as if I actually believe them. It would seem I do believe them. “I think you did what was best for us. Even if it didn’t work out that well.”
“I barely recognize my own brother, would would have thought prison would be the secret to taming you. We’d have thrown you in there years earlier if we’d known.”
I stare at her and chuckle.
“You’re not the first to say it. I doubt you’ll be the last. I missed you too, sister.”
We say no more on it, simply because there is no need. That is our relationship, brother and sister that do not need to throw a tantrum to overcome something we didn’t like. We are gods, so her resurrection from death is hardly the first and hardly a surprise. Thousands of years of life can lead to eternal grudges or understand that the days are long but the years are short. These are things I learned in that gray cell.
We spoke no more on the journey. Rune gave his sister a sharp look and a hand went to his throat when he looked back at us.
“We’re here.” He said, moving away from her when she jerked her arm. It didn’t rise far from the armrest and I saw her eyes sparkle in the mirror and the grin that split her face. Rune grumbled and opened his door.
It almost seemed as if his chest exploded in a fountain of blood, spraying over the passenger window. He hit the vehicle but was alive, scrambling to the other side where Astrid was already out with a gun in her hand. There were three vehicles that had come from behind a building and as many as a dozen men wearing black coverings over their heads were moving towards the vehicles and shooting at us. A bullet shattered my window and hit my chin, collapsing.
I picked up the mangled piece of metal and held it out in the palm of my hand. Theia looked at it and smiled at me.
“Go on then.”
Was all she said. More than enough, permission to behave as I like.
I kick my door off the vehicle, sending it across the open space and into one of the men. His bones break under the metal and he died. Someone was yelling at me. I ignored them and marched at the men, feeling the useless impacts of bullets through my nearly brand new clothes. Clumps of lead fell to the ground, leaving holes in my shirt and pants.
“Hyperion!” I stopped in the middle of my intense walk and saw Kanati opening the trunk of one of the vehicles. He threw something at me and I caught it in the air, the chain unfurling from it’s coil into the full length. I felt the sun bearing down on me and the links glowed red in my hand.
The gunfire stopped and the line of attackers halted their advance. They were down a man and had done nothing to hurt me. I didn’t realize that Theia stood beside me, only a pace behind, joined by Kronos, Loki, and Kanati. I did not see them, with weapons drawn. I did see Odin.
He stormed at the men, right past me, with a long spear in hand. They began to retreat, some opening fire on Odin and others sprinting away towards stowed vehicles. They did not make it. Their vehicles exploded under a lightning bolt cast down from a perfectly clear sky, without thunder or sign it was coming. Metal shrieked and began to burn as fuel caught fire from the bolt.
Black smoke almost immediately choked the air and from the burning vehicles and their smoke screen walked a man. He was broad in the shoulders, wearing blue jeans and a checkered shirt rolled up at the sleeves to his elbows. His beard was thick and red as flame to match the short hairs cut close to his scalp. Over his shoulder he carries a long handled hammer as easily as if it was part of his body.
“Astrid, how’s Rune?” He shouts past us, watching the wary steps of the armed men that had attacked. They fell into a loose line and tried to face both directions. They were trapped between gods.
I looked back to see a bloody thumb appear over the hood of our vehicle.
“I’m alright big man, nice entrance.” Rune said, straining his voice. I heard a slapping noise.
“He’ll live! Shame, that.” Astrid says, sticking her head up.
“Good, he owes me money.” The man with the enormous hammer over his shoulder kept walking, confident in himself. He was always that way.
“Bet your employer told you those were god killers.” He said, punctuating the word killers by letting the handle of his hammer smack into his left palm. I count ten men still standing, weapons wavering while the man with the hammer walks towards them.
“The All-father might tell me to be calm.” He said, twirling the hammer in his hands. “I think that is…less than prudent. Calm sends a message, surely as rage does. Though rage carries more weight with the words. Hyperion can tell you all about that.”
I have walked within ten feet of the men, seeing the fear in their eyes gives me some warm comfort. One shouldn’t seek out war, but if it comes then response should be swift and meaningful. That’s what the man with the hammer is getting at.
“I think, and this is just me thinking out loud, that our message should be firm. And there’s no need for any one of you to survive it, that’s moronic. See, the message is just as clear if none of you live as if one of you grovels before your master and begs for his forgiveness.”
One of the men discards his weapon and tries to sprint. He makes it a few steps before a black chain wraps around his ankle and jerks him backward, pulling his legs out from under him and his face slams into the ground. He clutches his face as blood pours from his nose and a gash on his forehead, sitting up and rocking slightly. I coil the chain again, holding it loosely in one hand.
No others try to run. They all discard their weapons though, standing there and shuffling on their feet awkwardly. I feel Odin’s large hand on my shoulder, his presence calm on the surface. I see the roiling storm in his eyes though.
“Well, All-father?” The man with the hammer says, swinging it in lazy looping arcs. “Shall we eliminate the threat?”
“Rage carries more weight, you say.” Odin’s voice is loud, as he walks the line of men without weapons. He looks each of them in the eye. “A storm may split the sky with lightning and cry out with thunder but leave as quickly as it came, leaving little sign it was ever there. Calm men are the most dangerous men.”
He pulls down the clothing around the neck of one of the men, revealing an Ankh tattoo. The man blinks, swallowing so hard I can see the movement in his neck from this distance.
“I thought as much.” Odin says, turning away. “A message, my son thinks a message would be the best decision.”
I see the man’s legs begin to shake, eyeing the enormous two handed hammer lingering in his peripheral vision. I feel a twinge of jealousy, the hammer inspires fear just by sight. My chain often requires some sort of action to earn respect. I’m sure that he would prefer to hold Mjölnir in his hands again, instead of this poor replacement. The jealousy does not last long.
“Thor, see these men on their way. Perhaps they will have the courage to return to the battlefield, perhaps not. But we will not go about murdering mortals for their poor choices. There’d be none left.”
“They shot Rune!” Thor exclaims, slamming the hammer into the ground. It leaves a crater the length of a man, cracking the stone. One of the men whimpers.
“And Hyperion killed one of theirs. On your way!” Odin roars, bringing his face barely an inch from the man he’d exposed as one of Set’s. I see spit fly and the man flinches, then breaks into a dead sprint across the runway, followed closely by the rest. Thor watches them, then begins to laugh and pulls the hammer from the earth, resting it on his shoulder again.
“Hyperion!” He says, wrapping me in a one armed embrace. “I have missed you. He won’t let me have any fun. I’ve missed you…Thorley…”
Odin groans and Rune cackles from behind the vehicle, before it turns into a coughing fit. Thor’s face splits with an enormous, toothy grin.
“I have been waiting so many years to say that.”
“How I wish you hadn’t.” I say, but I can’t help but laugh. Thor has that affect on everyone, he is a genuine god with a genuine smile and attitude. He also brawls like no one can.
It is good to be among friends like this, very good.
“They made a movie about you?” I ask him, all of us gathered in the plane that will take us to France. Artemis sits at my side and laughs at my excitement. Others are about the area, listening or carrying on their own conversations. Rune is no longer with us, being carried away to a medical center for his wound.
They have explained the concept of a movie, which is intriguing, a sort of recorded play. Shared across the entire world with tens of millions of souls watching.
Thor laughs too, leaning back in his seat and drinking from a brown bottle that he claims contains ‘the best homebrew on the planet’. I have one and I’m not sure I can disagree, though it is only my first homebrew so I have little to judge it against.
“Well, not about me but yes. More than one. There is so little belief from it but it’s something, more than I used to get. Millions of mortals watching, each leaving with a little hope that I might be real. Can you imagine if they knew?” He throws his head back and laughs with that easy, rumbling laugh of his. “Of course, I’m better looking that the fellow they got to pretend to be me.”
Artemis makes a noise and I look at her, only to just barely catch her cheeks blushing as she disappears behind her own bottle. She seems to disagree with Thor’s assessment.
“They made movies about us too.” She says, recovering from the blushing. “Books too. I don’t feel any stronger.”
Thor doesn’t have an answer, furrowing his eyebrows. Loki is the one who comes up with one, sitting near us with his feet up on a polished table.
“Belief doesn’t work for you, you’re not a god.”
The corner of her lip twitches and I see a flash of anger in those eyes of hers. Thor raises his hands.
“Brother, always too blunt. He is right though. You aren’t affected by belief the way we are. Belief to you is water to a starving man. No matter how much you drink it will never be the solution.”
“Beautiful, brother. You truly have a way with words.” Loki does not say the word with the same endearment that Thor had. It balances a fine edge between scorn and indifference, if that is possible. Thor shrugs off the tone in his easy going way and offers us each a new bottle.
He grows serious, even wistful.
“You will see your children? That must be a thing. How many years now?”
“Too many.” I say, flatly. I am filled with worry at the thought of them, their father returning and how they may not even remember me. Eos was on her feet when I left for war, Helios as well, though Selene wouldn’t know me from any other. Will they hate me? Will they want to know me?
I feel a small hand slip into mine. Thor gives us an approving and disarming grin with his crooked teeth.
“You have changed much, Titan. Have you forgotten how to wage war?”
I feel the fire in my chest at the mention of it, the excitement that spreads from that stoked flame. I no longer wish for war as I had but I will not be afraid of it, and I have some skill in it.
“There it is!” Thor drains his almost full bottle and reaches for another. “The fire of Hyperion! Good. You will need it. We will all need it. And soon, too.”
Somewhere in Egypt, far from prying eyes, there was a house. It was a small house surrounded by open land. Only a battered jeep indicated any life at all. Until the door opened and an old man shuffled onto the porch.
His cloudy eyes turned to the dust column that marked a visitor approaching and they narrowed. He did not like visitors to his corner of the world, much the opposite. He was a short man, incredibly thin as well. Almost as if he was wasting away. He took a seat in a rocking chair and slowly rocked, waiting impatiently for the visitor.
It was one sedan sandwiched between two military jeeps, bristling with armed men. They each had an ankh tattooed on their necks and walked with all the cockiness of men that did not know the old man.
Few did. He sucked at a gap between his teeth and watched the sedan doors open and one of his sons exited. Osiris, wearing a military uniform and grinning. He took more after his father than most of them, being such a thin boy. Set was thick, built for fighting and anger. Osiris was a schemer.
“I thought I was to be left alone here, never visited.” The old man said, spitting off his porch. Osiris stood at the steps and waited to be invited to sit. His father did not offer a seat.
“You don’t have to look that way, father, why do you choose it?” Osiris asked, leaning against the railing of the stairs. His personal guard fanned out, fingers tapping against their mortal weapons.
“Would you prefer this?” Geb was no longer an old man rocking in his chair, instead he was a powerful man with the arms of a farmer. Muscled, tanned, perfectly straight teeth and a thick head of hair with no trace of gray. His beard was long and ended in a point, as black as his hair. He grinned at the shock of the men with their weapons, laughing and sucking at the hole that was no longer there.
“Father, you mock me.” Osiris was displeased. He was always displeased.
“And you take a tone with your father that is unbecoming an obedient child. Your schemes are not part of my life in this wasteland, leave me be. I’ll have no part of it.” Geb stood from his rocking chair and had the door to the house open when Osiris spoke again, lifting a foot and taking the first step towards the house.
“I cannot be sure of that.”
Geb stopped. He turned, slowly, seeing the armed men had moved closer and some were flexing their hands on those weapons they were so fond of. Geb stared at his son. He was not the black haired man as he was, he had returned to the comfort of the skin of an old man.
“You dare?” Geb was no angry, not yet, he spoke the words as an honest question of his son. Osiris hesitated. Geb shook his head and let the door swing closed, glaring at the fools on his property.
“Leave now, and you will live. Or remain, and you will not.”
Osiris even took a step back. His men faltered, feeling tremors in the earth beneath their feet.
“Father, join us. We will own this world.” Osiris tried one last time, his tone pleading and on the edge of begging. Geb snorted his distaste for the scheme, one he had denied countless times before and would deny countless times yet.
“I will not take part in the tearing apart of this world. That is not my purpose, the opposite, in fact. You will leave now, son, or you will never leave. If I see you again, blood or not, I will kill you.”
He did not wait for a response and entered the house.
“Sir?” One of the armed men questioned, after a long moment standing in front of the house. Osiris sighed, lit a cigarette, and took a long drag. He did not speak for a time, burning the cigarette down to the filter before crushing it under his shoe.
“Do it.” He said.
The men advanced on the house, weapons held high. Osiris left them, driving away in the sedan and feeling the tremble of the earth even as he distanced himself from the house. Then suddenly, the tremors were done.
“I’m sorry, father. It had to be done.”