I was sitting in my office, studying Ophelia’s journal, when the dots suddenly started to connect themselves together. Gobsmacked, I wondered how Hephaestus could have let this happen. After thinking about it, I realized that there was no way he could have screened all the workers that he had hired. Dad was probably breathing down his neck, demanding the work get done faster than was even possible for a God. 

Ophelia was the recruiter; Charlie was in charge of those they managed to get hired at the forge. Cody was low man on the totem pole. I checked his schedule, and noticed that he had called in sick the last two days. Interesting. But there was one person I could talk to.

“Ares, good to see you,” Bill said when I walked into his office half an hour later. “Any luck finding Charlie’s killer?”

“I wanted to talk to you about that,” I replied. “Do you have a moment?”

“Sure, have a seat.”

I declined, choosing to lean against the wall instead. “What do you know about Cody?”

“Not much. He’s not a talker. Comes in, keeps his head down, does his work.”

“I understand he’s called in sick the last couple of days.”

“Yeah, there’s been a flu bug going around the forge the last week or so,” Bill said. “I guess it was his turn.”

“Perhaps we should arrange for the crew to get what you mortals call flu shots. We can’t afford to have any slowdown in production.”

There was a brief flash of something in Bill’s eyes; anger perhaps? He nodded. “That’s probably a good idea. I’ll talk to our onsite nurse about that.”

“What can you tell me about a group called Η τελευταία δύναμη (The Ultimate Power in English)?”

There was another flash in Bill’s eyes this time, one of fear. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“Really?” I said, pulling out a sheaf of papers and tossing them on his desk. “Then explain to me why your name is on this list.”

He didn’t touch the papers, but leaned back in his chair. “How did you find out?”

“Ophelia wasn’t very careful with her records. I found her journal in her office.”

“Stupid bitch,” he muttered. “She always had an inflated sense of self. Calling here and barking orders at me all the time. Charlie wasn’t that thrilled with her, either.”

“I understand they were related.”

“Yeah, siblings. She bossed him around, too. He kept saying that he was going to shut her up for good one day.”

“Do you think he killed her?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Did you?”

Bill looked shocked and offended at the same time. It was very impressive how he managed to pull the dueling looks off. “I would never kill a woman,” he snapped. “It goes against everything I believe in.”

“Yet you have no problem being part of a group that wants to destroy my family.”

“You’re immortal,” he scoffed. “You can’t be killed. All of you showed up here like you owned the place, barking orders, making demands, telling us how things were going to be from now on. We haven’t needed you for thousands of years. We sure as shit don’t need you now. We’ve managed just fine on our own.”

“You’ve managed to muck things up,” I told him. “Ultimate power is not all it’s cracked up to be. Neither is being immortal. It gets rather lonely at times.”

“Well, boohoo for you,” Bill sneered, “let’s all cry for the God of War who can’t keep a woman and doesn’t know how to fight anymore.”

“Would you like to lay odds on that last one?” I pushed away from the wall, walked around the desk, and yanked him out of the chair with one hand. His legs were kicking in the air, and he was trying to touch the floor with his feet to gain some traction. I pulled him towards me until we were face to face, then I threw him across the room. He slammed into the wall so hard he left an imprint. 

Gasping for breath, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. Before I could shove the desk chair aside to get to him, he had pushed two buttons on the phone. “Say goodbye to those near and dear to you, God of Nothing,” he laughed. “The final plan is in motion and you can’t do a damn thing about it.”

I bent over and snapped his neck, shutting him up permanently. I took his phone out of his dead hand and checked it. The one name I had expected to see was there, as was Bill’s last message.

“Ares knows. Execute Plan C.”

Ares (Teresa Watson)
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