Have you ever just wanted to scream so loud that the world just reset? I couldn’t seem to get a hold of myself. I wanted to crush something, slice and dice till I was covered in someone’s blood. I am actually a kind and loving goddess at heart, but right now, I needed answers and blood.

How the actual fuck?!

I was raging at myself. The one time, the actual one time, I took my family’s advice and did something for myself, something major happened. I let my guard down. I enjoyed myself, as my dad would say. 

My emotions are all over the place. I’ve yelled and snapped at the others, looking for a fight with anyone. I’m still pissed at Eros, too.

“Where the fuck were you?!” Eros yelled, getting right in my face.

My eyes flashed red, and if Kratos hadn’t broken us up from our fight, throwing each of us into the already damaged walls of the lounge, who knows what would have happened. We both fight passionately and with full intensity. But Kratos was right: fighting wasn’t a way to solve what happened, and Dad would be pissed if he saw us fighting. I loved my nephew tons, but in our current state of mind, we both forgot that we were on the same side. I was ashamed of myself. We both loved our family very much and would protect them with everything we had.

“That’s enough, Nike!” Kratos yelled as he tossed me like a rag doll, pulling me off Eros and sending him across the room into the other wall. Dinlas was there as well, and rushed to his brother’s side.

“Look at him!” Kratos shouted at me, pointing at Eros.

I felt myself calm down, shaking my head as the color of my eyes returned to normal.

“And you!” Kratos continued, looking at Eros, “look at her! You both know this is not what Father would want. We were all caught off guard by what happened. But now we must fix this so it doesn’t happen again.”

Bia telepathically spoke to all of us. “We all want only what is best for the family, and as its protectors, we should not fight with each other. We,” she pointed at the four Wards, “would rather die so that he could live.”

Hearing my sister’s thoughts only made me feel worse. I looked up at Eros and noticed the blood running from his eyebrow, and the taste of blood in my mouth. “Well, I’ve got to say at least your right hook has improved.” I knew my nephew was angry as I was, but we both knew our anger wasn’t really at each other.

“Well…your punches hurt like a mother…” he responded with his usual smirk.

We nodded at each other as we wiped the blood from our faces. Dinlas had let go of his brother. I sped over to Eros, standing face to face with him. Everyone in the room lunged forward to stop us from going at it again, but I held my hand up. “Next time in the ring?”

“Sure, Tory, sure,” he laughed, and I laughed with him.

Zelus stood there, his mouth hanging open. “What the hell was that?”

“An apology,” Bia said telepathically.

It had been a few weeks since then, and the building repairs were almost complete. The four of us wanted to help in any way we could. Kratos went to Dinlas and asked about security footage. He wanted to offer his help by reviewing the video before the great boom in the building. The objective was to see if anyone or anything had been in the building that shouldn’t have been, especially after the Titans’ escape from Tartarus. 

Dinlas agreed and was grateful for the help. He had his assistant, Eleni, pull tapes for us so Kratos could review them, and asked my brother to keep him informed of anything he found.

My phone, which was on the counter in the lounge, buzzed. “Nike, can you come look at something with me?” read the message. 

When I got to the security offices, the fresh smell of paint filled the air. Dinlas happened to see me as I entered and motioned for me to follow him to where Kratos was reviewing the security footage. Several touchscreen monitors covered one wall, and he was switching camera views from the old footage, which had views from throughout the building.

“I need to take care of a few things. Be sure to let me know immediately if you find anything suspicious,” Dinlas said sternly.

“What’s up, K?”

My brother just rolled his eyes; he hated it when I called him that. “I need to ask you about a few things I found on the security footage.”

“What did you find?”

“Take a look at this.” He pointed at the God Lounge, which showed one of our guys putting away an order I had placed from Amazon. It was an emergency restock until our normal supplier could fill our order. “Who is that, Nike?”

“That’s Jackson.”

“No, I mean who is he?”

“Jackson? He’s been here since, well, I guess we were hiring. Why?”

“Nike, no one here knows him.”

“Sure you do. He helped move the furniture into my place that Ares ordered for me. He was here when we arrived, remember?”

“So he came with the moving company, but never left?” Kratos asked, puzzled.

I thought about it for a moment. “I thought he was one of Dad’s building guys. There were so many mortals here when we all moved in. I know I noticed his badge looked just like everyone else’s badges.” 

I thought about Jackson. He was about 5’5”, dark brown hair that was longer on one side, often in a ponytail, with a thin build. I remember seeing a bit of a tattoo peeking out from the sleeve of his jacket once. His beard was also medium brown and well kept. He wore a black dress shirt and black slacks on most days. His eyes, though, were the lightest blue I’d ever seen on a mortal. Definitely swoon worthy.

“All right, but what is he doing here?” Kratos asked me as he brought up another day. This time, Jackson was trying to get into Dad’s office. “Why would he be trying to get into the office?”

“Rainbow badges don’t have clearance for that floor, do they?”

“No, they don’t. Looks like he followed one of the secretaries up there.”

“What the…?” We watched as he flirted with Helen.

Zelus showed me more footage from the God Lounge. “And look at what he’s doing here. He’s putting something under the camera.”

“Wait, where is that camera?” I said.

“Coffee pot.”

“Oh, right.” 

We started to wonder who he was working for. A crime syndicate. A global superpower of some sort? When we got to the footage from the day of the jailbreak, we noticed something on the outside cameras. Jackson had gone outside and was standing by the curb, waiting. I thought he was waiting for an Uber or Lyft. We saw a black Audi A5 pull up, and Jackson leaned over and handed the person inside what looked like an envelope that he took from his pocket. The person inside handed Jackson a case, and the Audi drove away. Kratos wrote the plates down and ran them.

It was obvious something big was happening here. Kratos and I agreed that we needed to let Dinlas know what we had found. We went to his office, showed him the footage, and discussed what options we had to determine what Jackson was up to. Dinlas was still swamped with the ongoing renovations, searching for Ate, as well as helping with Zeus, so we decided to ask Athena if she would come in and handle the interrogation.

Once she arrived, we filled her in on our findings, and also let her know how many Titans were still on the loose. There were about twenty or more still out there, and I wanted to go hunt some down. But as you know, my sister is ever the woman of wisdom.

“Wait, Nike, I think it’s best if we interrogate this Jackson first. He may have information that will help us hunt the other bastards down.”

We secured an interrogation room from Dinlas, who really wanted to handle Jackson himself, but grudgingly agreed to let Athena handle the interrogation.

“Hmph,” Zelus grunted. He would have preferred to do it as well, feeling that breaking a few bones while asking questions would get us faster answers. We all agreed it would be fun, but Athena wouldn’t allow anyone with a quick temper in the interrogation room.

“We need as much information from him as possible,” she reasoned. “Once we get what we need, you can do as you see fit.”

Standing in the observation room, we watched Athena enter the room. Jackson was standing, and watching her as she crossed to the chair in front of him. “Jackson Douglas Fairchild, aka Mr. Smooth, aka Dogman, Finch, Speed…shall I go on? Athena asked as she removed her charcoal gray suit jacket and sat down in the chair. She laid her jacket neatly on the table and looked Jackson straight in the eyes.

Nike (Nikki Crump-Hansted)
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