After Athena left, I thought about how Coeus was actually related to us. He was my grandfather Oceanus’ brother. I felt something for him and decided to remove his gag.
“Nike, what are you doing?” Zelus said.
“He won’t need this.”
But it was too late. “Uncle,” I said, looking at him eye to eye. We had him sitting on the ground, and he had shrunk himself to about 6’4”.
“Aw, you do remember,” Coeus replied.
“Of course I do. In fact, we all do.”
“Well, I hadn’t figured that into the equation,” he smirked.
“Of course you hadn’t,” Kratos said as he came over. He handed Coeus a towel to wipe the blood off his face. “That’s what made this easier. You still think we’re children.”
“So, little traitors, now what are you gonna do?” he asked as he looked at us.
“Traitors?” Zelus looked over, confused.
“You betrayed us, remember?” Coeus said.
“What’s that?” Kratos was shocked.
“Who’s that?” Bia said.
“You betrayed your people. All of you.”
My head was spinning. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “You broke out of a secured prison facility. We’re taking you back where you belong. That’s what makes us traitors?”
“You think you’re brave? You think your honesty has led you to the truth? No! Nike, you have been on the wrong side of valor. You chose them over us.”
“No, I didn’t. Mother brought us to them to keep us safe.”
“Lies. They told you four a pack of lies.”
I looked at him with disdain. “How dare you call my mother a liar!” I growled.
“They put you on their side, but had you stayed…had you remained with your people…”
“Stop! Enough of your vile tongue!” shouted Kratos.
“I bet they never told you that you four were supposed to come to me. I was to train you next.”
My curiosity was peaked, yet I knew to be cautious of his lies. “What are you talking about? There was no deal made. Zeus asked for help and we provided it.”
“Aha, but there was. You were all being groomed for me. Why do you think he was so hard on you?”
I felt uneasy, memories of how our father, Pallas, treated us…treated me. They were painful and I thought I had buried them deep inside of myself. But here he was, telling me the very things I never wanted to remember.
“Nike, stop listening to him,” Bia said silently.
I looked over at her. “Bia, but what if what he is saying is true,” I said.
“Nike, you were too young to understand. There were things…things that happened,” Bia said, exchanging a look with Kratos.
I tried to remember, but four to five thousand years ago was a lot of time, full of things to remember…or forget.
“See, they hide things from you about your past. They know I’m speaking the truth. Why would I lie to you? I mean, look, you have me at a disadvantage,” Coeus said as he showed himself bound at the wrists by some of the same chains Bia once used on Prometheus.
Stepping away from him, I rubbed my hands over my face, then through my hair, the sweat and blood from wrestling with this Titan clung to my fingers. This person from our past, the one who obtained information and caused so much damage because of what he had learned. I was starting to get angry again. The very thought of this Titan saying we were promised to him made my blood start to boil.
“You and Bia were to be mine. He promised you both to me in exchange for the information I provided him.”
Wait, who was he talking about? “Who promised? Pallas was killed during the God War by Athena,” I said.
“No, not Pallas,” Coeus said with disgust. “That warmonger only sought to use you to gain power for himself. He thought highly of himself and the spoils of war, whether we were winning or not.”
I ground my teeth at his words. “Who promised you that we were to be yours?” I asked through clenched teeth.
“Which father?” Kratos said.
“Kronos, of course.”
All four of us gasped. We knew that this was his revenge on us for helping Zeus defeat him.
“You’re working for him? The eater of his children? The death bringer?” Zelus approached Coeus with a sword in hand.
“Easy, Zel, back up. The edict said they are to be captured and returned alive.”
“Who says?” Zelus asked without taking his eyes off Coeus.
“You know what this is?” Zelus retorted. “This is some fucked up shit right here. This guy’s gonna start tellin’ us that the Father, Kronos, promised our sisters to him for information? Like, what the fuck? This is a new fucking era; you don’t give women away like they’re pieces of meat!”
Zelus shouted at Coeus, “These are my sisters.” He pounded his fist against his chest. “I’d be dead before you take them.”
“You know, that can be arranged,” Coeus said sarcastically, but before he could even start to smile, Kratos punched him in the mouth.
“Just keep it up, prick. Uncle or not, we might just break our promise and send you back dead.”
Coeus brought his bound hands to his mouth. “I see. You were supposed to be on the front lines, so we could get rid of you first,” he said, standing taller and looking right into Kratos’ eyes.
“Don’t, Kratos! He is baiting you. He’s baiting all of you. Stop listening to him.” Bia opened the van doors, and with Kratos’ help, shoved Coeus into the van before slamming the door behind him.
Kratos said that Zelus and I were both too angry to be in that tight space with the titan. So we flew above them in the clouds. We contacted Uncle Hades on the way from the docks to let him know that we had Coeus. We reached the God Complex and parked in one of the underground parking garages. It was decided that Bia and Kratos, as the strongest of the four of us, could manage a Titan alone. They ordered Zelus and me to stay behind.
But someone just couldn’t keep his mouth shut…
“Aw, home sweet home,” Coeus said as he got out of the van, taking a deep breath of the sulfur smell that hung in the air.
“Come on, you,” Kratos said, giving him a little shove.
As they started to the elevator, Zelus said, “Kratos, are you sure we can’t come? I mean, he might…”
Bia turned and gave her younger brother a stern look, which also stopped me in my tracks. I had seen that look too many times; I knew Bia meant business.
“No!” Kratos growled, “Do not ask me again.”
“My goodness, Kratos, you need a Valium, or perhaps some CBD gummies. You are wound up too tight. Maybe you aren’t getting…,” Coeus mocked.
“Shut your mouth and just walk,” Kratos said, giving Coeus another shove.
Coeus turned and looked back as Bia tightened her grip on the chain that was leading him back to jail. “Don’t miss me too much, mejita.” He winked at me.
I looked at him with wide eyes.
“What? You think I didn’t know about your desires? You don’t think all of that wasn’t known to me? You know, Fernando actually liked you. Guess you’ll just have to settle for me. I’ll be back to collect what’s mine. Next time I see you, don’t have so much clothing on. It gets in the…”
My eyes flashed red and all I saw was my sword in his gut. “I don’t think so.” I twisted my sword, then pulled it out of him. “You will never get out! Ever!” I said with the tip of my blood-soaked sword at his throat.
“Nike, stop!” Kratos yelled.
“Fine! Return this Titan already!” I shouted in Coeus’ face as I stepped away from him.
Coeus stood up straight, grinning his slick smile and laughing as Bia yanked his chain hard, drawing him closer to her.
Kratos walked over to me. “We will discuss this later, understand?”
“No buts!” He turned and grabbed the other chain before he and Bia led the laughing Titan away.
“Damn!” I screamed.
“Nike?” Zelus said, reaching out for me.
“No! I want to just kill him, Zel! How dare he say my most intimate…how the fu…”
“Nike, remember who he is.”
“I don’t care. How did he…” I leaned on one of the cars in total exasperation.
He walked over and stood next to me. “Nike, it’s over. We got Jackson, he led us to Coeus, and now we know what the Father Kronos knows. We’ll tell Dinlas.”
A tear was rolling down my face and I swallowed back my sobs.
“Come on, Ni.” He put his arm around my shoulder.
“Do you think what he said was true?”
“What he said about us betraying our people. That Mother lied to us.”
“You can’t be serious. Styx loves us more than her own life.”
“I know, but what he said made sense, didn’t it? I mean, they were our people…our family.” Sliding down to the ground and leaning on the SUV. A tear dropped on to my lap. “You know, back then I just blindly followed everything, never questioning. But the moment they put up those wanted posters…the moment I saw their faces again after millennia, those people…they were…they are…Grandfather…”
“I know, Nike. That moment in the ballroom, I felt a shift. My heart and chest tightened and in walked Dad’s greatest rivals. Someone whose side I betrayed.”
Seeing my brother was dealing with the same internal struggle tugged at my heart, and I reached over and grabbed his hand, pulling him down closer to me. “Yeah, I felt the tip, like I didn’t want it to be true. It was crushing me. That push and pull,” I said as I bumped my brother’s shoulder.
“Yes! That’s what it felt like,” he agreed.
We sat there in silence for a moment, thinking about all of the events of the last two months. “I…I’m sorry, Zel.” I rested my head on his shoulder.
“What are you sorry for?” he sniffled.
At the same time, we both said, “Nature.” We both shrugged off a laugh as we wiped away the tears. It’s moments like these Zel and I are reminded of the constant winner and the constant loser. It makes it hard sometimes for us because we are siblings because if we weren’t, Gia help us.
We both looked up as the elevator dinged. “Let’s go home, you two,” Kratos said as he held the door of the elevator open with one hand.
Bia extended her arms, welcoming us in. “Come on.”
Zelus and I looked at each other and then at the doorway to the stairs. “Race ya!”
We laughed as we bolted up the stairs, bouncing each other off the walls. Kratos grinned and shook his head as Zelus and I tumbled out of the stairway door onto our floor. Bia linked us together. “Hot showers and dinner at the Mermaid’s Tale afterward?”
We all agreed as we entered our apartments. We quickly cleaned up and met back at the elevator. I could tell by Kratos’ expression that we would still be having that discussion, but for now, we all just wanted to get something to eat and be together away from all this titan craziness. We stepped out into the night and took flight. It felt great to stretch out my wings and fly with them. As a family.