I look over at Selene as Morpheus approaches the men.

“If dream boy thinks I will wait here while he goes and has all the fun without us, it’s time that he wakes up,” I tell her with an equal amount of humor and irritation. I am cranky from being nearly drowned, thrashed about, and separated Gods knows where on this island. This was supposed to be a romantic cruise to reconnect with Medusa…and possibly get lucky. This feels as far from lucky as one can get. On top of all this, I do not need a man to play protector. I know that he means well and is just projecting his worry over not knowing where Persephone is, onto us. Love does that to you. I feel envious and sorry for him. More than that, I am deeply happy for them both. He is right, we need to find her and fast. If these morons are the only way to get that information, then I am not letting him do it alone. We are a team and like it or not, he is stuck with us.

“Well, I am sure as hell not waiting here, either,” I hear Selene tell me as we both emerge from the wood line and follow on Morpheus’ heels. 

Morpheus glances back over his shoulder. He doesn’t frown. Not exactly. Not that I give a shit. He keeps walking toward the short man who is now alone on the beach. At least if he wants to try shit, the odds are in our favor. Morpheus walks closer to the water. I suspect he’s trying to get in the man’s peripheral vision. Guns plus surprises are a bad combination, even for gods.

The short man does a double-take. “Who th’ ‘ell are you?”

Morpheus slows to a stop, turning his body slightly, weight on his back foot. I’ve seen enough war to know what that means. He’s preparing for trouble.

“It is usually customary to begin with a greeting,” Morpheus says in a flat tone. “We were on the ship that sank in the night. We are now in search of other survivors.” 

Selene turns on her usual charm and saunters up beside Morpheus. He makes an audible sound of consternation, tilting his head and taking a deep breath. “Hey there, boys. What my friend here is trying to ask, is if you have seen our friends?” She places a delicate arm on Morpheus’ shoulder, draping it as to imply they could have been an item.

Morpheus glances down at Selene, face impassive for a moment. Then his eyes shift, darkening as he slips a possessive arm around her waist. 

The short man laughs and waves an arm at his comrades without moving his gaze from us. 

“Just a friend, eh? Well, that works just fine.” His hand slips around behind him, going for the waist of his pants, likely seeking a weapon. “Why don’t we all just be friends?”

“Oh, but I am not sure you have what it takes to be our friends, boys,” I reply jokingly.

“Now our friends, have you seen them? We really would like to find them without hurting anyone…much. But that’s up to you.” I continue as I walk up to Morpheus’ other side and wrap an arm around him as well. He is big pimpin’ today. I can’t help but laugh. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from going crazy and smashing everything in sight.

Morpheus leans down as though to kiss the side of my head and whispers into my hair, “This is about to go poorly. Be ready for anything.”

The three men laugh again and exchange looks with one another. Either they will fight and get seriously hurt, or they think they are going to get lucky. I may be exploring my new sexuality, but I can tell you that the second option will not happen. Well, if they don’t answer, it looks like fighting it is.

“Maybe we don’t wanna give you no information,” Grisly drawls, slicking water back from his face. 

“Now, don’t be rude, Gris,” the short man said, stepping closer. “I’m sure me and the gentleman here can work out some arrangement.”

I feel Morpheus’ fingertips tighten in irritation against my waist. He lowers his arm and takes a step forward, away from Selene and me.

“A gentleman’s agreement, you say?” Morpheus begins, sauntering toward the man. “It would still end up unfair, as there are only two of them and three of you. Unless…”

The short man throws his head back, laughing. “Oh, I’ve known Speechless to take a turn with a pretty boy now and again. Ain’t that right, Speechless?”

Speechless made a frantic motion, obviously not amused at getting volunteered. 

“Actually, I had a better idea. What’s your flavor?” Morpheus asks. And with a subtle wave of his hand, his form shimmers, shifting into that of a rather scantily clothed redhead. “Gingers?” He moves his hand again, hair transforming from fire to coal. “Or perhaps something more exotic.” 

I can’t help but laugh at their reactions. They have no idea what they are in for. I look at Selene, who seems equally amused. 

“Wh-what kind of glamour is this?” Grisly says, jaw-dropping. The short man waves a hand frantically behind him to get his friend to shut the hell up.

The brunette-formerly-known-as-Morpheus stops just shy of the short man, cocking her hip to the side. She runs a hand down his chest, purring, “Are you a sailor? I bet you are. Mmmm…I bet you’re not just a sailor. I bet you’re a captain!”

Selene pulls in her aura a little as she silently slips around behind the men while Morpheus distracts them with his shifting form. She slips her hand into the silent one’s hair and yanks back hard, dropping him to ground before either of his friends knows what is happening.

The short man whirls around and reaches for his gun, forgotten temporarily in the wake of the woman in front of him. As he snaps back around, he neatly drives himself into Morpheus’ waiting fist, dropping his firearm. Morpheus sidesteps and kicks the pistol towards me, maybe not-so-accidentally giving the downed man a face full of sand.

The speechless man waves his hand, and a mound of sand seems to grow up Selene’s feet, stopping at her knees as she brings a fist down hard on his head.

“Fuck! He has telekinesis!” Selene yells at us. “Watch yourselves!” She reaches down and digs herself out, while the man rolls in an attempt to get back up. 

Morpheus unsheaths his rapier as he presses his foot down on the man’s throat, grinding his head into the sand. 

I hurl the make-shift spear at the short man and rush him simultaneously. He waves his hand to evade the spear from impaling him but doesn’t realize that I’ll do more damage than the spear can. I crash into his body with the full force of my own. He flies backward, bringing me with him, and we both crash to the ground with a loud thud. I flip him over quickly and pull his hands behind his back to bind them.

“I don’t suppose either of you have any rope or handcuffs. I didn’t think I would need my go-bag on this trip. So I’m fresh out of restraints.” I hold his arms and hands immobile as he squirms and tries to break free. 

The short man strains to reach a knife in his boot. With a quick flick of his wrist, Morpheus slices his palm for trying and grinds his heel harder against the man’s Adam’s apple. “An amusing choice of words, given that I’m about out of restraint as well.”

The one in my hands jerks his arms against my grip and cries out. I know how painful an elbow threatening to break feels. I let the irritation show in my voice. “Keep complaining, and I’ll break something you want to keep unbroken…like everything.” 

Selene snorts, blowing her hair out of her face. “Sorry, Artemis and I didn’t plan for that on this trip.”

Morpheus tilts his head, frowning down at the man sputtering on the ground beneath him. “Let us begin again, shall we? I believe the lovely lady here asked if you had seen our friends. A simple yes or no will do.”

The man on the ground wheezes a barely audible no as the silent one drags himself up. He looks at his comrade, motioning his hands again, and anger flashes across his face.

“No?” Morpheus repeats as he slides the edge of his sword along the man’s stubble, threatening a shave. “A most unfortunate answer. Luckily for you, I prefer even a bitter truth to a sweet lie. What do you think, ladies? Do you think we can come to an…how did you put it? Oh yes. An arrangement with these gentlemen?”

“So tag and bag, or should we just kill them? Because honestly, I am good either way.” I ask my friends.  

Selene shrugs. “assuming they are telling the truth, then what more can we acquire from them?”

“I am more concerned about the others this one said would be arriving on the evening tide,” Morpheus says, keeping the pressure on the prone man beneath him and a keen eye on the one who tried to build a sandcastle around Selene.

“Okay, so elimination it is. Looks like this isn’t your lucky day,” I say as I pull up on his arms. Grisly wails like a girl. 

“Wait a minute!” Selene raises her voice, looking at us. “Let’s think this through.” 

I stop in mid-motion and look over at them. “What? Are we killing them or not? We could feed them to the sharks. A fitting burial for these pirates. Fish food.”

I imitate my best old-time mob boss voice, “They can go swimmin with the fishes, forget about it.” I can’t help but laugh thinking about all the old gangster movies that the Captain had me watch with him.

“I think we may have to forget about it, Athena, as tempting as it might be,” Morpheus says, nodding his head in the direction of the volcano. Hundreds of yards away but hurtling closer are what I can only assume are half a dozen shipmates of these three. They are yelling, and I see the flash of sunlight on steel. “We are about to be overrun.”

“Damn it!” I spit.

“Indeed,” Morpheus says with a wry smile.

“So stay and fight or flee? If we kill these three, then we can eliminate the rest of them. I’m game for anything at this point.” I look at them to see what they want to do, all the while hoping to kill them all.

“Let’s just get out of here. We know Persephone’s alive based on where we found her necklace. She must have headed inland. She can’t have gotten far,” Selene reasons.

I let out an exasperated sigh. “Take all the fun away, why don’t you.” I laugh as I release the man’s arms and retrieve the spear before jumping over him and running towards the jungle.

Morpheus looks down at the short man and says in a lethal tone, “Trust me when I say that the only thing worse than following us is finding us.” 

The red-faced man nods, as Morpheus sheaths his sword and steps off the man’s throat. The short man scrambles to his feet in a frenzy of sand and movement, tripping and falling over himself for a dozen steps before breaking into a dead run towards the incoming party. 

“We need to get out of here,” Morpheus says, turning to Selene. “My lady, after you.”

Once I reach the treeline, I turn around and shout to my friends, “Are you guys coming, or did you want to see if they have any rum first?” 

It doesn’t take them long to catch up to me, and all three of us disappear into the jungle.

 

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