We have become fractured groups and I do not like it.
Odin returned from a call to tell us that Aphrodite had been attacked, Menoetius killed, Hera spirited away only to be recaptured by Hades and the others. Hades and his group had run off to carry on a fight with some borrowed half-mortal soldiers from a god I don’t know. Rhea and Kronos were trying to save Aphrodite’s life along with a number of others. Three groups with three goals, spread thin and with many enemies. Enemies too numerous to know, in the dark circles of the gods.
There are pantheons that are too small to be of note but can just as easily alter the course of a god’s history as one that is known. They are to be feared and respected as much as the greatest and most revered god of any moment.
If we are separated, we are weak. Iapetus knew this and used it to his advantage for thousands of years, playing desires against one another. If a god wants more power than perhaps he simply takes it from another, brings mortals to war or plays shadow games and politics among the gods.
We are fractured, and I do not like it.
“You’re brooding.” Theia says, tearing me from my reverie.
“Am I?” I ask. Though I know that I am.
“Yes, a little obviously. What you brooding over?”
“What isn’t there to brood over?” She laughs at me and pokes me in the side. I don’t approve. I slap her hand away and grumble at her, sighing and wondering if we can possibly turn back time somehow.
Even gods have limits.
“Stop sulking over it, we’re going to open the Vault and this comes to an end.”
“Does it? Does it? Do we just open the Vault and unleash the most powerful weapons in our history and it ends? Or does the war become frantic while factions try to wipe each other out? With mortals caught in the middle? Is this right?”
She takes my hand and squeezes it, comforting.
“It will be OK. Trust me.”
“Why so sullen?” Loki sits beside us at the table, where we had found some moment of peace from the general movement of preparing to leave. Selene and Artemis worked out a location that will work for opening the Vault, now that we have her help. We’ll be flying somewhere that is friendly ground but they will figure it out and follow us. That will bring war to that ground. It’s inevitable. Loki does not seem bothered by the organized chaos of battle plans being drawn up, gods being called to arms, Odin’s private army readying for war.
I never had much time for Loki before Tartarus, we are just very different gods. He is lean and casual in every movement, he reminds me of Hades. You cannot be sure if you should trust him or throw him as far as you can.
He grins at me, almost as if he knows what I’m thinking.
“Throwing or beating?” He asks.
“Throwing.” I answer, honestly.
“Ah, always a good choice.” He sticks his feet up on a chair and picks at a fingernail. His eyes are serious though, despite that casual demeanor. I’ve never seen that.
“You can always trust an untrustworthy man, you know why?” He asks.
“No, do tell.”
“Because an untrustworthy man can always be trusted to do the untrustworthy thing.”
I grunt an agreement, watching him warily. I don’t know where he intends this conversation to go. Then his voice drops low and he leans towards me.
“I am not the god you think I am. A trickster, surely, but I am not evil. That cannot be said of every god. I love my adoptive father, yes, but power can blind even the most steadfast of men. Imagine what power can do to a god.”
“What are you trying to say?” I ask him, looking at the others with us. Kanati, who I know so little about. Odin, in deep conversation with Thor. Artemis and Selene working over a map, with Helios and Eos nearby. There are many players.
“Good.” He says, his eyes sparkling. “You are learning. You’ve been gone a long time, dear Hyperion. A very long time. What do you really know of any of us?”
“So I can trust you?” I ask, not avoiding the dry tone that slips into my voice. He laughs, loud enough that everyone in the room spares a look at us and then returns to their conversations and maps and plans.
“I am the untrustworthy god, so you can trust me to be true to that. And I will protect the mortals. That is why we exist, how we came to be. Some of us haven’t forgotten them.”
Then he is gone, whistling a jaunty tune and walking through the crowd that doesn’t bother to hide their sneers and disgust. He is not a popular god but he is what he is.
“Snakes in the grass.” Theia says, watching him. But she doesn’t mean him. I can see that on her face. Then she blushes. My sister, the stoic goddess of the sky blushes as red as a sunset. It’s my turn to laugh, loud enough that attention is drawn towards us again. She blushes an ever deeper shade that I wouldn’t have thought possible. Loki’s whistling picks up a bit before he disappears out a door.
I lean over and peck her on the cheek, feeling that brooding gone and a newfound sense of purpose. I know what I will do now. I have a plan and I will share pieces of it with them, but one is left just for me. None need to know it, not yet.
“Are you two feeling OK?” Thor asks, his bright and mischievous grin a polar opposite to Odin’s deepening frown.
“Absolutely!” I clap my hands together and stand, wrapping the chain around my shoulder and joining them at their planning table. “We will need more help than this. Kronos will come. That is a good thing. Let’s be on with this then! Where are we going?”
Odin flattens the map with his broad hands and I see a softness in his face, finally. He places a heavy forefinger on a portion of land almost surrounded entirely by the blue of the ocean. Three fingers of land, marked with three black names.
“We’re going home.”
Oceanus floated in a deep, comforting darkness.
Pieces of shattered plane floated on the surface or sank around him, some passengers clinging to the wreckage and others pulled down in the remnants of the fuselage. One of Hades’s mercenaries tried to scream but the darkness seeped into his mouth and lungs and the noise was distant, gurgling away in the depths. Oceanus’s armed twitched in the water and he opened his eyes. The darkness was gone, replaced by a crystal clear vision of the water and wreckage and passengers. He saw Tethys diving down again and again, wrenching Hades free from the seat he was jammed in, then down again for the screaming mercenary, then again for the pilot.
He was proud of her, always had been.
Above them, somewhere, their enemy had brought weapons to bear on them. They had shot down their plane and sent them crashing into the ocean, miles from shore.
That made his blood boil.
He reached out and felt the movement in the ocean, movements that he could control. He could feel the rippling effect at the surface from their attackers, feel a body being hoisted from the water. Hera was being rescued.
He opened his mouth and roared, even through the water the sound was as clear as if he was in an open field. From the depths a golden trident rose to meet his hand and the water pushed him to the surface of the ocean, where a sudden calm fell while the ocean answered to his thoughts. There were two aircraft hovering in place above the surface, one with a long cable down to Hera who began pointing at him and shouting something.
A man leaned out the side door with a rifle, an ankh tattooed on his neck. Oceanus flicked his wrist towards the man, the ocean responding with a fragment of the plane no more than the size of a quarter. It was flung into the air with all the force the vastness of the ocean could muster, punching a hole through the man’s chest. The shock on his face as he tumbled from the door and into the water was matched by the pilot while the fragment continued on through the helicopter frame and rotors and even further on into the sky.
Hera leaped from the cable just before the helicopter began a violent and uncontrolled spin as the pilot lost control and began an unwanted landing.
Oceanus lifted his hands out and the ocean responded, bringing up all the wreckage and bodies to the surface as steadily as if they were now on solid ground. Tethys and Sekhmet grabbed Hera and brought her to Oceanus, tossing her in front of him. She glared at them all in equal measure. Prometheus and Hades helped the remaining mercenaries to their feet, they were borrowed from a friend and that friend would not appreciate them all dying.
The remaining helicopter began to flee, or attempt to flee. Oceanus raised a hand and a column of ocean water engulfed the machine, pulling it from the sky almost like Oceanus’s fist had taken form, crushing the men inside and dragging them to the inky depths.
Oceanus stood on the platform he had called up, dripping salty water and breathing heavily, staring at Hera.
She applauded him, slowly and mockingly.
He let her sink just below the surface, calling a coffin sized space of water that surrounded her in a solid embrace. Then a piece of the ocean began to move, as if they stood on a ship. Hera was dragged along with them, entirely unable to move or speak or otherwise bother anyone. Wreckage drifted out to leave a trail behind them and Oceanus looked to where he knew the shore was. He could feel it, an emptiness in his power.
“That was pretty cool.” Hades said, sitting on the water and staring down at his hands, resting on the glassy surface that now moved them.
“Why do they keep sending more men to die?” Tethys asked, sitting beside Hades. Sehkmet had her hair between her hands, wringing water out that was absorbed into their makeshift ship.
“They have plenty to lose. And they’ve slowed us down, that in itself is a victory for the simple price of a handful of half-trained idiots. They may not have even known who they were going to shoot down. They didn’t have to.”
She pointed at the sky where a jet streaked by, far above their reach, off towards the shore that they couldn’t see.
“That one will bring the news. They will be waiting for us. Lots of them, with god-killers and more.
Perhaps some of my family to welcome us with a knife between our ribs. They want her.”
Hera couldn’t hear them from her watery prison.
“So let’s kill her.” Tethys balanced her blade on the back of her hand and made a move for Hera. No one really wanted to argue with her on that but Prometheus stopped her.
“As much as I’d like that, we’d have nothing left.” He said. “Leave her for now. Just for now.”
“Fine.” Tethys sat down and stared off into the distance. She let the silence between them hang for a long moment and then looked at her brother with his salt-water soaked beard and intense focus.
“Are we there yet?”