Dave watched from the dark alleyway as the paparazzi madness swarmed the far side of the street. The stretched hummer pulled up and they went wild with the blinding flashes of cameras and questions as the newest children of the gods emerged in their glitz and glamour.
He had to bite back a sneer.
The first one to emerge was tall, broad and muscular with luscious long hair and a square jaw of marble. The crowds grew riotous and called out his name, “Harry!” Screaming to clamour over the barricades, to touch his flesh, grab his hair.
The security was on top of it, good little minions keeping the masses at bay for the reward of what the law said was a living wage.
Harry just laughed and raised his arms, bellowing a mighty roar for the crowds who screamed in response. Those poor security guards, he was taking too long on the red carpet.
As the other demigods emerged from the hummer, each the pinnacle of chiselled beauty, the synthesis of society’s directed desires for centuries, the crowds grew louder. But Dave had already slipped beneath the street, crawling along the sewers to enter Olympus Tower as the undeserving and the sheep took their hedonistic pleasures from each other.
“Harry, Harry!” One of the privileged gossip reporters met the demigods on the red carpet, “Welcome home! We heard your quest to claim Hercules’s club was successful.”
“Oh boy was it!” Harry laughed and gestured for one of the other demigods to hand it to him. He hefted it reverently and then clashed against the ground with a laugh. “Oh yes, it was a bit of a battle to wrangle this from the titan guardians that hoarded it, ha hah!” The crowds ate up every word, “But I can’t take all of the credit, I had my noble band of cousins,” he gestured the other demigods, “And people like you…” He gestured the crowd, “Without your support it would have been a hard battle indeed.”
“And do you think the gods would mind?” The reporter asked, “I mean, Zeus kept these weapons out of our hands for a reason, did he not?”
Harry laughed, “He simply thought since my half brother from another age passed on that someone mighty should claim it, so I did! Consider it one of my own dozen labours.”
As he climbed up the ventilation shafts Dave was listening in through a bug he had placed on Arianna’s boot, the ditzy daughter of Aphrodite. He had to resist the urge to cringe whenever Harry boasted, resist the urge to cringe even harder when every word was eaten up by his audience. But that was okay, he knew that while Harry was boasting and showing the prop for the masses down below, the real club of Hercules had been safely couriered to the penthouse… soon he could strike the hapless, undeserving fools.
He slipped through the last vent, falling past the metal detectors without a beep as he cradled the 3D printed plastic gun in his arm. He hit the ground with a grunt and immediately fired the gel projectiles at the three cameras in the room. With a squelch each camera was struck by the nano-gel which reconstructed itself to form a perfect image of what was recorded moments before hand.
Dave waited with held breath… no alarms, but his ear piece fizzled out within the signal jammed walls. He sighed and rose, surveying the apartment of excess. High windows with a view that towered over the sparkling city, exquisite art work, animal hides, furniture and an assorted banquet ready for the heroes on their glorious return… and draped over a mannequin in the middle of the room was the lion’s hide, in its hands the mighty club.
Dave grimaced, “Not even a glass case… hubris.” He strode up to the legendary items and reached out tentatively.
A ding, the lift behind him slid open and the demigods strutted out, laughing and boasting about their performance. Harry was at the fore and halted, seeing Dave standing before the mannequin.
“I told the help to leave us in privacy.”
“I’m the opposite of help!” Dave fired the last round in his gun and it struck Harry in the eye.
He hollered in pain and gripped the sludge that blocked his sight and the other demigods rushed in. They were inhumanly fast, and strong, Dave found himself pushed down onto his knees before he could make to grab the club.
Harry stomped over, pulling uselessly at the gel that clung to one eye and growled at the captured mortal.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” He roared, “Do you have any idea who I am?”
Dave laughed, “Do you? Changing your name when you discovered your bastard heritage from Freddy to Harry Earl Ronald Cullis… H.E.R.Cullis? You are a joke, and you know it!” Harry backhanded Dave who grunted as his cheek fractured. Ringing and pain flashed through his senses, but he spat blood and glared into Harry’s good eye. “You’re all jokes, using your gifts for personal gain when real people are out there suffering, you should be ashamed!”
“That suffering is not caused by us,” Arianna’s nasal voice whined, “We give generously to the victims of natural disasters and misfortune.”
“Yeah? And who caused the last tidal wave? The last eruption? Who siphons the very DNA from our cells with senescence to keep herself beautiful Arianna? Hmm? The gods slaughter us in droves based off the smallest slight or whim.”
“Ah,” The rugged, stubbly demigod who held him by the shoulders exclaimed, “A human who wishes to topple the natural order?”
“It’s not natural and you know it.”
“You’re goddamned right we know it, why do you think we started gathering artefacts?” Harry shouted, “Once we gather our strength we are going to take the fight to the real Olympus.”
Dave stopped writhing in the demigods’ grip and regarded Harry seriously for the first time, if only for an instant before laughing. Signal proofed walls, probably gave the demigods privacy from the gods’ prying ears at the same time.
“You think that’s funny?” Harry barked, “We risk much.”
“I laugh because the instant you come across a real challenge like the gods you’ll whimper and beg like a dog. What do you think happened to Hercules when he finally turned on them? In all of your lives you have struggled for nothing, your trials nullified by your natural gifts, gifts that would do nothing to halt a god… the only one capable of defeating a god is someone who knows what it is to suffer, and suffered I have.”
Harry sighed, and knelt down to look into Dave’s eyes, “Friend,” he said, he reached out, nodding at the other demigods to release him and took him by the shoulder, “We demigods may have lived well, yes, but we are your best hope against the tyranny of Olympus.”
Dave glared at Harry through a swelling eye, “I’m sure that’s what the gods said before they overthrew the titans… If you do succeed, and I do mean if, then we will just be replacing one tyrant with another. The only way for the gods to topple is to be rocked from the foundations, from us humans.” Dave clicked the sub dermal button in the palm of his hand and the three nano-gel rounds – including the one in Harry’s eye – detonated with flash bombs.
The cameras exploded and Harry was knocked back out cold from the blast as the other demigods recoiled and shielded their eyes and ears.
Dave reacted quickly, pushed through them and grabbed Hercules’s club, he spun and walloped Arianna across the face and then smashed the kneecap of the stubbled demigod who held him down. As the others were recovering he donned the lion hide and sprinted for the high windows, he dove and struck with the club, shattering through them and plummeted to the street below.
As the winds tore past his face and flapped the lion mane he turned, facing up the skyscraper and regarding the tumultuous skies that thundered at his sacrilege. “Soon, Zeus.” He smashed into the stretched hummer parked out the front below. It crumpled and the windows exploded outwards, but the legendary lion hide protected Dave from harm. He groaned and slipped off the hummer, ignoring the stunned crowds who still congregated and he laughed, “It’s time for humanity to fight its own battles!” He turned from them and sped away into the night.
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