Returning to the GC building after the essential destruction caused by Hera’s rage was awe-inspiring. I thought about the fight with Atlas and Ourea, suddenly thankful those confrontations had not taken place in heavily populated areas. I walked in at the ground level, maneuvering my way back through the hard-working mortals to the only working elevator. I entered and pressed the little round circle with “25” on the wall panel; the doors started to close, stopped, then slammed shut. The vibrations and shaking of the elevator made me wonder if I’d even make it to my floor without the cable breaking. If that happened, it would be a hell of a ride down to the basement, and I wasn’t sure Zeus would appreciate me crashing into his maintenance manager’s office. Even the ding from the speakers seemed warbled as the floor was reached and the doors rattled back open.
I sucked air through my teeth and exited the elevator into chaos. I stepped over a fluorescent style bulb that lay in pieces at the entrance and surveyed the damage of what had been the beginnings of my lab. I guess I felt lucky in that the lab was still in the process of coming together and it hadn’t been fully equipped or staffed yet. I did lose my contractor and architect, and some of the scientists were going to need re-convincing to sign on, but overall, thank Lady Tyche, no one was seriously injured nor had brought in the expensive equipment.
I pulled out my phone and began making a detailed list of the damages and the equipment that needed replacing. I made a separate list of the things that survived the incident and sent them both to my new contractor. I put my phone back in my rear pocket and got to work, stepping out into the stairwell and commandeering a larger wheeled trash can, broom, and dustpan from the staff that were working their way through the building.
I made quick work of the larger things and had soon filled the landing of the stairwell right outside my door. I called down to the lobby, putting in a request for someone to come pick up the trash, and by the time I heard noises from the stairwell, I had filled another garbage bag. Opening the door, I startled the mortals working on the pile.
“Mmm…ma’am,” one mortal tried to muster with a nod of his head. I saw the boxes and items strewn down the stairwell at varying flights and started laughing. They all looked back and forth from me to each other. Another employee asked, “Are you ok, ma’am?”
Looking at their faces made me laugh even harder. I managed to snort out, “Were you throwing the boxes down the stairs? Because if so, I want in.”
To their continued looks of shock, I raised up the bag in my hand and yelled, “GERONIMO!” and chucked it down the middle of the well, watching it drop straight down to the lobby level and land with a satisfying SPLAT. The closed-in space echoed with our collective laughter at the shouts of surprise heard from the lower levels. We spent a little while kicking the boxes down the stairs before the men got to the parts that actually needed to be carried down. A few of them got to work on that, while the remaining mortals followed me into my lab.
“Ms. Moon,” one of the employees said upon entering my lab space. “Why are you here doing the grunt work?”
I looked him straight in the eye and simply said, “Why not?”
Color filled his cheeks before he found his voice again and replied, “Because, ma’am, we’re employed by the GC to do this.”
I smiled gently at him and replied, “Because no one is below a good day’s work. Besides, this place,” I gestured to the lab space around us, “is my hobby, my pride and joy. If I can’t put a little sweat and elbow grease into it, then how can I expect my employees to?”
With extra hands to help, we finished the entire floor and even got some minor repairs in by the time I sent them on their way.
I had just gotten a cup of coffee from Dark Sparks and walked into my office when I heard the stairwell door open and close again. I popped my head out but didn’t see anyone there. I hurried to the other door, cautiously opened it and peeked out, but found it vacant. Shaking my head, I walked back to my office and grabbed my keys off my desk. I knew Dinlas was working on new security features, but I just didn’t feel confident in my surroundings anymore. Ever since the fight with Ourea, things had not settled right with me. The quiet I used to find soothing was almost a ringing in my ears, and every little noise made me jump. Looking around, I realized that besides my own hands and might, I had no other defenses. Some things needed to change. I ran my hands through my hair and shuddered, the memory of being yanked out of the air by Ourea flashed through my mind. The vines wrapping tighter the more I struggled and my hair, gods, my fucking hair was in my face and blinding me. I remembered the feel of Arty’s blade in my hand and knew what I must do. I walked around my desk and opened the drawer, pulling out a large pair of scissors. I snatched my hair into a ponytail at the nape of my neck and cut it off. With that, I stormed out of my office, determination evident on my face. I locked my office door then the stairwell door before pressing the button for the elevator. I hoped Ares was in his office this late.
I strode across the nearly empty lobby, out into the complex area, and down the few blocks to Ares’ office and the gym. I entered the building and was stopped by Ares’ assistant, Reginald. Alarms started going off and he was pointing a can of pepper spray at me, clearly leery of my presence. I tried to calm myself and turned on my charms. Smiling brightly, I said, “Is all this noise for me?”
Reginald replied, “Just step back, missy. I know who you are, and I know what you want. You are not taking this cool drink of water without a fight.”
Looking down, I caught a glimpse of his Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and gasped. “Those are this season’s, aren’t they?” I said, pointing at his brown Italian leather shoes.
Ares came out of his office in a huff, a broadsword in his hand. He shook his head and calmed down when he saw it was me. “Selene, this is a surprise.” Turning to Reginald, he said, “Turn off that damn alarm. She’s on our side.” He looked at me and asked, “You still are, aren’t you?”
I nodded and smiled brightly, then asked Reginald if we could take a quick weekend shopping trip to Milan sometime. “Oh, that would be fabulous!” he said excitedly.
“Did you come by just to get fashion advice from my secretary, Selene, or is there another reason you’re here?” Ares asked.
“I need some advice, and you were the first person I thought to ask.”
Gesturing toward his office, he said, “Why don’t we go to my office?”