Artemis joined us halfway in. “Where’s Sayeh?” I asked her.

She pointed toward the sky. “She’ll be fine up there, and she’ll help when needed. But I would prefer for her not to flambe anyone. The smell is atrocious.”

When we were about a half-mile away, the glow of the fire could be seen. “Nice of them to give us their exact location,” Dinlas said.

“They are in an open area,” Artemis replied. “No trees around for them to hide behind and ambush us. But I did see some movement on the outer edges of the open area. We can expect to run into some opposition.”

“This is where we split up,” I said, coming to a stop. “We’ll come in from all four directions. Try to keep a few alive; we’ll need to interrogate them for information later. Leave Markos for me.”

“I’ll do my best, but no promises, Pops,” Dinlas grinned as he pulled his guns out. “Come on, girls. Let’s do our thing.” He took off to the east, his she-wolves running after him.

“I’ve got the west side,” Artemis said. “Remember, fight smart, Ares. Look at the bigger picture. These people are trying to bring us down. We cannot allow that. We do this for all of us.”

“I know what to do, Arty. I’m not an idiot.”

“Most of the time you aren’t,” she said as she pulled an arrow out of her quiver and notched it in the bow. “Be safe.” The darkness swallowed her as she ran off.

Nike had her sword out, her grip on the handle firm. “I’ve been waiting a long time for a good fight,” she said. “Thank you for including me.”

“Don’t get carried away, little one.”

“No one threatens my family and gets away with it. Victory will be ours!” She headed to the south.

Pulling my sword out of its sheath, I said a silent prayer as I headed straight ahead. A cry of pain came from the east; one of the she-wolves must have found their first victim. Unfortunately, it alerted those in the camp, because I could hear voices shouting.

As I ran toward the voices, I saw movement to my right. A man came charging at me, his gun drawn. What was that saying the mortals liked to use? Oh yeah, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Switching my sword to my left hand, I drew my gun with my right hand and shot the man. He went down with a grunt.

I burst through the trees and into the open field that Artemis had told us about. Three bodies were already on the ground, each with one of Artemis’ arrows sticking out of them. Dinlas had a man pinned down and was pounding him in the ribs with the brass knuckles, while his she-wolves were playing tug-of-war with another man.

Something shot into the air to my left, and I looked up to see Nike holding a man by the throat. She pulled out her short knife, sliced the man across his stomach, then released her hold on him. He fell to the ground with a thud, and one of the she-wolves ran over to rip the man’s throat out.

Surprisingly, some of the men had swords. I figured they would all have guns. Holstering my gun, I switched my sword back to my right hand and waded into the fray. Bodies dropped right and left as I worked my way through the group, looking for Markos.

Nike ran over, her sword dripping with blood, and pointed to her left. “I think the man you are looking for is over there. He’s just watching us, not fighting.” A rather muscular man ran toward us, his sword swinging side to side, and I realized it was Cody. “What does he think we are, a lawn that needs to me mowed?” She waited until his swing arched to his right before running him through with her own sword. He looked at her, his mouth hanging open in shock. Looking down, Cody watched her withdraw her weapon from his stomach, then glanced up again. She unfolded her wings and flapped them once. The gust of air blew him over onto his back, and he died staring at the stars in Nyx’s sky. She bent over and used his shirt to wipe his blood off her sword.

Dinlas had three men handcuffed and sitting against a tree, while one of his she-wolves sat in front of them. They just stared at the wolf, the blood dripping from her teeth, too afraid to move for fear she would tear them to pieces. I hadn’t heard any explosions, so I guess Dinlas didn’t get a chance to use the grenades. He must have been disappointed about that.

Artemis dropped another body near the one Nike had just knocked over. “Half of them ran off once the serious fighting started,” she said. “But we still killed many of them, I’d say at least twenty to thirty.” A flash of fire lit up the field to our right, followed by screams. “Sounds like Sayeh got a few more.”

I looked over at the man Nike had pointed out to me. He strolled toward us, pulling his sword out as he walked. I pushed Artemis and Nike in Dinlas’ direction. “Keep them over there with you,” I called out to him. 

“But Ares,” Artemis started to say.

Glaring at her, I shook my head. “I will kill him myself, Arty,” I said, my voice cold and distant. “This part isn’t about family; it’s very personal. Stay out of my way.”

Ares (Teresa Watson)
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