“Oh, it’s coming soon and it will shake Olympus.”
It was the text of the supposedly innocent Nike, who chooses to remain a teenager, the most volatile of all ages.
I typed fast, desperate to get an answer. “What is? What’s coming?”
“Starting with the party tomorrow night.”
Before I could type anything else, the connection to Olympus was severed. Nike was keeping something from me. She’d been keeping something from all of us! I’d been talking to her for the better part of an hour, trying to make her see that she was a prisoner to her desire to be eternally young. She was allowing herself to be infantilized for eternity, and I believed that she could change, because if she didn’t, that meant that I was doomed.
I didn’t have time to worry about my eternal despair. So much was happening.
Athena has been planning a party, and she’s been doing it for some time. Because of my loneliness, I’ve been…compelled to text them through Skype. They told me about this party, and being an exile hiding from Zeus, I told them, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
That’s when Athena offered a suggestion. “I can make you look like someone else. You could come as Echo and repeat what everyone says.”
The discussions continued with several members of the pantheon speaking up to get me to show up. And…loath as I am to admit it, the Goddess Peitho flirted with me and I caved immediately. Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love and Beauty, and others hate her because you always hate the best. Peitho is the Goddess of Persuasion and Seduction. From the moment she said that she’d be with me, I was willing to do anything. I thought things through, of course. She’s a minor Goddess and chances are she was just playing with me anyway.
So, I volunteered to go as Peitho’s date.
I’d gotten drunk that night. I was nervous about going to my little reunion, so I went to a bar to try to do more than small talk. There was this gorgeous bartender, a woman with a smile that broke the ice, and a body that turned it to steam. I’d say something about her personality, but mostly I just asked her about drinks. She kept looking my way though, cocking her head to the side. I went to the bathroom to work up my courage and when I came back, a beautiful woman was leaning on my stool and flirting right back. I wasn’t even the object of her gaze, so it left me in a sour mood and I drank far too much.
My stomach was in knots, so I ended up back on the lounge room, and I had my little chat with Nike.
I typed, “Tell me. What are you luring me into?” and everything went blank. It was the first time I’d ever been kicked off, and I didn’t know if it was her or someone else. I only had one person to connect with, and they thought I was calling about a party.
I picked the bottle of brandy off the floor. Some of it had leaked onto the floor, so I gave the lid a tight twist. I grabbed the flute I bought from the pawn shop. There were initials on the side and bubblegum lip gloss smears on the mouth. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a fresh bag of olives. There was still moisture on the plastic from the misters. I opened the garage, gathered metal wires and prepared myself to do something dumb.
On the ride away from Delusion, I thought back on my time before the rock and the screams. It was a blur, obscured by torture and misery. Zeus laughed with satisfaction and I screamed at them. What anyone said, I couldn’t tell you. Before that…there was the fire, my pranks, and of course, the war.
Athena took off her helmet. It was a strange moment to see my cousin’s daughter, my niece, vulnerable. There was sweat collected where the metal stuck to her head, and she ran her hands through her hair to let it cool in the breeze. It was a human thing to do. You’d already inspired us. We were on a hill or cliff or something, looking down at you. You were shadows of your current self back then, all desperation and immediacy, but the compassion and innovation was there too.
“Of all the things I’ve done, this will be what I’m remembered for,” she told me with a smile. “We did good today.”
“I doubt it.”
“How can you be dower after something like this?”
I pointed to the clouds. There was lightning rippling through the clouds, and the thunder of Zeus’ laughter was heard by all.
She nodded with understanding. “He doesn’t care about them, about any of the creations of you and your brother. They die. He doesn’t. They’ll be safe.”
“It’s not just Zeus. It’s all of Olympus, all of us. The Primordials were overthrown by the Titans, and then the Olympians overthrew my kind.”
“Because of you,” she said kindly, placing a hand on mine.
I stood, ignoring her affections. “Because it is the nature of power. There will be others, some son of Zeus, or a union born of Hera and Hades, or a thousand other Gods. Will the next regime allow humanity to live?”
“We’ll be there to stop them.” Athena was serious. In her eyes was the conviction of my brothers but with the intelligence of her mother, who was more mischievous than I.
“I’m too weak to be of any use.” I lowered my head.
She put her head against mine. “What did I tell you?”
“My brothers don’t know what true power is.”
“That’s right. Here.”
She handed me a flute.
“If you ever need me, all you have to do is play, and I’ll hear it. I’ll know it’s you, and I will come.”
I lost that flute. It was taken when they stripped me and chained me to a rock, but I had what I needed to summon her owl. The question was, how would she take the news?
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