So, here’s the thing: how much do I tell Ares and Arty? How honest can I really be here? I mean, these kids look up to me. I’m a god – and a bloody powerful one – but this is more than my responsibility. It is my mistake, and no Olympian has ever admitted such willingly.
“Thanks for coming,” I begin, staring at the faces of my niece (who looks. . .A VIRGIN FOREVER screams the voice in my mind; Yes, thank you, Brother Lightning-rod, I know..) and nephew. Ares looks tired and well off his game, but he’s the best detective I know. Less fucking and more work would be my advice to the lad – but in my current predicament, I feel I’ve little ground to hold here.
I try again. “I have a -,” I stop. How do I say it?
“Go ahead,” Arty nods encouragingly. It’s hard not to smile back, but I manage it. Behind me, all around me, I hear my underwater family whispering, too. I also hear the Pearl. How long did Ted have this is his keeping? How long since my Oceanid went missing?
How much time do we have here? I wonder, but this time, there is no answer.
My little brother, for all his light-wielding power, does not know everything. He surely does not know how to command a sea voyage. That distinction rests with me.
“I have a missing person’s case for you,” I manage to state it baldly.
Ares’ face registers interest and curiosity.
“Oh no, Uncle, who is it we’ve lost?” Artemis’ look of concern is not feigned. I raise my hands and tribute flows from my fingers.
“This is gold,” I continue. “Pirate gold and a little Spanish. Some might be silver from the African coast – not sure. Take it. Take it all. It’s yours if you will consent to accompany me on a sea voyage to find our missing Oceanid.”
Ares is leafing through a small notebook, jotting down details. He glances up. “How long has she been gone, Uncle?”
I swallow hard. “About two thousand years.”
Their mouths gape in tandem; they resemble, for just a second, twin clown fish, but there is nothing remotely amusing about this situation.
“How long?” Artemis blinks as her brother utters a curse so foul she stops her ears and winces.
“Ares!” I thunder, but my anger dies before it can do more than ripple the water in the tanks around us.
“What?” Ares stares. “Thousand? Did you say two thousand????”
“Give or take a decade or two.” I clear my throat. “We’ll need to search by sea. I’ve a ship. She’s being readied now.”
“I need a coffee,” Artemis leads the way to Dark Sparks.
That girl is worth her weight in gold. I should have offered more tribute, I think as I start on my second mug. I notice that Nox is closed. That’s a shame. I could use a stiff drink, too. Perhaps Dark Sparks would consider serving Irish coffee.
“So where is this vessel?” Ares wants to know as his sister calls on her twin to heal my still-leaking forearm. He also offers me a shot of ambrosia, which I sorely need.
“She’s anchored at The Mermaid’s Tale,” I tell them as we walk down. So she is – and she is magnificent. Delphine’s daughters outdid themselves with this vessel; here she lies, rocking gently on a benign wave, her anchor holding fast.
I arrange the gangplank, offering my arm to Artemis. I am not sure how the huntress feels about boats. “Care for a drink?”
The war lord nods as Ares steps on to my gangplank, ahead of his sister. “Isn’t a woman on board bad luck, Uncle?” he grinned.
Eyeing Artemis, I shake my head. “Not while I’m captain, nephew.”
The young goddess is dressed in mortal jeans and jacket, not unlike myself and Ares. Unlike either of us, though, the woman has curves.
Crack! Lightning flashes above my head, and would have grazed my temple had I not sent a cloud to parry my brother’s too-damn-good aim.
“All right, all right!” I mutter. That father of hers definitely needs to loosen up!
To piss him off, I help my niece board my vessel and square my shoulders. “It’s particularly good luck to allow a woman to name the ship.” I smile with as much charm as I’m known for (I admit it’s not much, but I do what I can).
“Now, my niece,” I kiss her hand. “What will you call her?”
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