The "Peas" RR
The three of them appeared in the cottage, one after the other in equal flashes of blue sparks, and sprawled gracelessly on the wooden floor.
Ares cursed loudly. "Sonofabitch! What the fuck happened?" He got slowly to his feet, rubbing the hip that had smashed into the edge of a stone table.
Apollo looked quickly around the sparsely furnished room, and then glanced at Ares. "I don't know about you, but I was having a rather good time throwing him around --" he thumbed his hand at Hercules "-- when thunder cracked, and the next thing I knew, I was here."
"Just doing my job, surfer boy," Hercules said gruffly. "That village is not your personal amusement park, and that goes double for the people that live there. You had no right --"
Apollo rolled his eyes dramatically at the ceiling. "Oh, please, spare me the lecture, Mr. Defender of the Innocent! Like I care about inconveniencing a few mortals."
"SHUT UP!" They both turned to look at Ares. "If you don't mind," he added sarcastically. He began to pace. "I was in the middle of a 'discussion' with --"
Twin blue explosions heralded the arrival of the two males who, like the three already in residence, crashed unceremoniously to the wooden plank floor.
"-- him, and I was about to run him through. Then I landed here." Ares finished speaking and dropped heavily onto the leather sofa.
"Who?" Hercules' tone was patient.
"Him," Ares growled, indicating the unconscious leather-clad figure slumped against a footstool. "The Sovereign. Which reminds me," he said, striding rapidly toward the man. He reached down and jerked a steel medallion filled with red liquid from the Sovereign's neck, snapping the chain. "Hind's blood," he purred, holding it up to the light. "I finally got it!"
"No, you don't, Ares." A deep voice rumbled through the low ceiling. "I'll take that." And the medallion vanished into thin air.
"ZEUS!" Ares bellowed. "What is going on here?"
"I am tired of putting up with your temper tantrums -- ALL of you are at fault here -- and it's time for you boys to learn how to play nice."
Apollo shook his head. "Pop, this is crazy!"
"Perhaps," Zeus intoned. "But how long you remain in this place is up to each and every one of you. Learn how to get along, or spend the rest of eternity fighting. I don't really care." A malicious chuckle reverberated through the room. "But at least if you're all in one place, I can tune you out. Plus, this keeps you from bringing others into your childish squabbling."
"Then why am *I* here?" The voice was soft and passive, insinuatingly effeminate, and the words were said with a simper. "I'm a lover, not a fighter." Ares rolled his eyes at the giggle that bubbled from lips identical to his own. "I have no quarrel with anyone."
"You are here," Zeus said carelessly, "because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You might want to curb those voyeuristic tendencies, god of love."
"You have no power over me, old man!" The Sovereign screamed hoarsely at the ceiling, having regained consciousness and dragged himself off the floor. "You can't keep me here!"
Zeus' laughter echoed loudly through the cottage. "Really? Look around, dear boy."
"I'm not of your world!" Spittle flew from his lips, and the god of love, a twin to the god of war, gasped and dived under a table. "I DEMAND TO BE RELEASED!"
"DENIED!" Zeus' roar made the window panes rattle in the casements.
And then there was silence.
The Sovereign glanced quickly about the room, finally locating a door which appeared to be the only way in or out of the place. Jerking it open, he caught himself just before he stepped into the black emptiness that apparently encompassed their new dwelling. He slammed the door and fell back against it.
"DISAPPOINTED!" he bellowed, driving both fists back against the door.
Hercules snorted. "Oh, like we didn't know that was coming?"
The Sovereign growled furiously and launched himself into his twin, sending them both crashing to the floor, smashing anything that happened to be in their path.
"You know, with any luck," Ares began thoughtfully, "they'll kill each other and save us the trouble of having to do it."
"Weather's not in our favor for that happening, bud," Apollo sighed, slipping into a chair next to the couch. "Daddy-O is gonna have entirely too good a time with this, for anything that drastic to happen."
"I can dream, can't I?"
The high pitched shriek came from the god of love as he scrambled from under the table and out of the way of the fighting twins. He made his way over to Ares and Apollo.
"Please, please! Stop the madness!" he exclaimed dramatically, wringing his hands together. "Can't you two do something?"
"We are," Ares answered. "We are watching the two of them bash their fucking brains out."
"You know it!" Apollo cackled, raising his hand to give Ares a high five only to be met with a raised eyebrow. He lowered his hand and cleared his throat.
The god of love sighed heavily and placed a hand to his brow. "Where is the love?"
Apollo stared at him incredulously. "Ya know, I think he's starting to cry."
"Looks that way," Ares said uncaringly. "But at least if he's crying," he added as he lounged on the sofa, "he's not talking. Be thankful for that."
"I guess. Wanna get a bet going on who's gonna win?" he asked, pointing at the two demigods.
"Who cares?" He looked around a room that an optimist would call rustic. It was actually one large room, equipped with five cots, two sofas, four chairs, and a table that was set up to seat five. Several rough planks were anchored to the walls and held plates, cups and cutlery, and there was a deep sink and a large fireplace on the east wall. Sacks and crates were stacked next to the sink, evidently intending to serve as food for the five who were incarcerated there. Peasant fare, Ares thought disdainfully, a vision of the candied hummingbirds and mounds of roe caviar that normally graced his table filling his mind with longing. Am I really expected to eat this shit?
His reverie was abruptly interrupted by the full weight of Hercules' body slamming into him, driven with lunatic force by a blow from the Sovereign.
"All right, that's enough!" he said, shoving his brother roughly to the floor and stepping toward the Sovereign. "How about if I finish what I started earlier?" He snapped his fingers for his sword.
Ares went down like a sack of potatoes under the Sovereign's well-aimed uppercut to his chin.
Ares shook his head and blinked the stars out of his eyes. The Sovereign stood over his prone form, rubbing his knuckles. He made no further move against Ares, waiting for the war god to get up. A quickly stifled giggle caught Ares' attention, and he turned a disbelieving glare on his "twin". The love god clapped his hands over his mouth and blinked over them with perfect innocence. Ares' lip curled in a snarl, and his identical counterpart yelped and jumped behind Apollo, using him as a shield.
Ares turned his gaze back to the Sovereign, who was standing patiently (for him) waiting for Ares to make the next move. Ares cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders, then very deliberately gained his feet and dusted himself off. "Well, that went well." The Sovereign snorted impatiently and rocked forward on the balls of his feet. Ares moved into a fighting stance and braced himself for the next blow.
The Sovereign leaped forward and swung at Ares, who promptly slid backwards and grabbed Hercules, who was still standing nearby. Graceful as a choreographed dance step, Ares pulled Hercules directly into the trajectory of the punch, which landed smack on Herc's mouth.
"Yes! Score one for you, bro!", Apollo shouted.
He was practically drowned out by Hercules' bellowed, "You son of a...". He was silenced abruptly as the Sovereign dove into his legs, taking him down with a thud that shook the entire cabin. Unfortunately for Ares they rolled up against him too, and he ended up on his ass on the ground for the second time in mere minutes.
Apollo felt a warm body press up against his back as the god of love peeked over his shoulder at the punching, grunting mass of flesh on the floor. A breathy voice whispered in his ear. "That would look so much better if they were naked."
Apollo studied his family members dubiously. "You think? They look kinda like Laocoon and his sons to me."
The love god pulled away and went to sit down, using his full, pouty lips to his best advantage. Apollo rolled his eyes and sat down next to him. "You aren't gonna get all teary are you? If there's one thing I can't stand it's a weepy god."
Big eyes blinked at him and the lush lower lip quivered in an alarming manner. "First they start a fight, then you insult me. Oh I just knew I was going to hate it here."
Apollo glanced over at the fighting. It was still going strong. With a sigh he turned his attention back to the sulking god next to him. "Okay, okay , I'm sorry. They *would* kinda look sexy doing that if they were naked."
Apollo suddenly found himself with a lapfull of flesh wrapped in white leather. "That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me in hours!" Apollo struggled a bit but his new best friend clung like a limpet. He cast another desperate look over at Hercules and Ares, but the were still wrapped up in the fight. Ares had a handful of the Sovereign's hair, trying to yank him off Hercules, who was trapped under his counterpart's full weight. Herc's teeth were embedded in the Sovereign's wrist. No help there.
The love god snuggled more firmly into Apollo's lap, and Apollo jumped. "Look, um, Ares. I don't think this is what pops had in mind when he suggested we learn to get along."
The love god answered him in a throaty, provocative tone. "Really? But I think we could learn to get along *really* well. THEY certainly won't." He gestured to the still fighting trio. "I say we give it a try."
With that Apollo found himself locked in a deep, breath stealing kiss. He wondered briefly how he managed to get into these situations before giving in to the inevitable. Really, it could be worse. It could be the Sovereign.
When they finally came up for air, Apollo could hear someone laughing close by. He glanced around, and Ares, the war god version was seated on the floor next to them. He had crawled out of the fray while the two Hercules lookalikes pounded on each other. He grinned nastily at Apollo and wiped a bit of someone's blood off of his nose. "You sure you want to play with him, Apollo? You have no idea where he's been."
Meanwhile, in a temple stained with blood on a jutting cliff over the Eternal Sea...
"Done." As though drained by the single word, Zeus collapsed onto the lion-clawed couch, one arm outstretched against the studded leather at his back, the other crooking over his face. His blue silk sleeve fell back, exposing skin taut and waxy like one of the pale candles burning in skull-shaped holders on the altar.
"They believed you?" Laughing, Eros swooped from the cornice, black wings outstretched like thunderclouds behind him. He landed with rustling grace at his uncle's feet, and drew his gore-stained sword, prodding Zeus' thigh with the sharp tip when he remained death-still. Under the pressure, the silk split, then the old man's candleskin opened, and ichor, thick and gold like old honey, oozed from the wound.
Finally, Zeus' arm fell, and his eyes, glazed like a sacrificial pot, fluttered open. "Yes. They thought I was him. Their Zeus." Illness had blanched him, and his face, whiter than a virgin's thighs, seemed embroidered with the same blue thread as his gown. "They're fighting now. Maybe going to fuck. No one suspects." His gaze dropped to his thigh and he studied the cut, his white brow furrowing. The skin tightened and almost shut, then parted. "Your fault," he whispered in a voice like old parchment.
Eros laughed again, his teeth fiercely sharp and pointed as a wolf's. He waved his sword-less hand, and a chunk of the marble floor disappeared, revealing a stairway heading down. Cries could now be heard, high female ones, pleading, advancing slowly as though their owners saw the light but were too weak to hurry. "Go. Join the others. I'll let you out if I need you again."
"Why not just kill us all?" Zeus asked as he unfolded now-awkward limbs.
"I don't need to explain anything to you, old man. Now get your ancient ass down there, or your precious Hera's head will go up on my altar with the others."
About to descend into darkness, Zeus paused, looking straight at Iphicles, who stood in the shadows against the far wall. "Why are you doing this?"
"Payback," the General said.
Iphicles lay on his back, gripping Eros' hips over the shield tattoos as the god rode him, black wings extended, while he held Iphicles' nipples for leverage, pulling them painfully, deliciously tight. He hadn't wanted this, not now, not with so much left to do, but Eros insisted, shoving him to the floor, stripping him with a thought, and sucking his cock with an irresistibly feral intensity until Iphicles was hard and wet and ready. When Eros' hot tattooed ass swallowed him to his balls, he did the sensible thing and let Eros fuck him.
"Like it hard, don't you?" Eros smirked, his eyes funeral-black. "I knew you would, even before we did it. Saw your face on the battlefield, how far the heads and limbs flew, and knew you'd like it hard."
"Shut up and fuck me."
"Pretty aggressive for a new god. I can still kill you, know." Eros let go of one nipple and touched the vial that hung from an adamantine chain around his neck.
"I know," Iphicles said, and came.
From the corner of his eyes, Iphicles saw Eros watching him. Eros always watched him, close as a shadow, never blinking those black marble eyes that saw everything. He hadn't realized how often, or how carefully, until Eros caught him with the boy. Iphicles touched his cheek, felt the scar there, and knew he'd never make that mistake again. With his face blank, aimed at the sea that stretched out in an endless blue sheet, he waited for Eros to speak.
"So, General, are you ready to rule their world?"
"The other gods will stop me. I need the Hind's blood for protection." The sun glinted with painful brightness off the water, and with his new god's eyes, Iphicles saw beneath the waves to an ancient wreck on the bottom, its hull gaping where the rocks had bitten it, the sand around it glittering with gold coins stamped with Queen Medea's face. She ruled in his mother's day, back before the Sovereign came in and stole everyone's power, the Sovereign, his bastard thief of a brother.
"Not going to happen," Eros said smoothly. "You think I want to end up with a dirty knife in my back? You don't need it, anyway. With their Zeus sick as ours, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite weak like our prisoners, the others trapped in that room, no one will stand in your way."
"Then give me some of the power you're draining from the others."
"I have. You can move without walking, turn invisible, fight like a pride of lions--"
"It's not enough." Iphicles turned to Eros, put his ringed hands on ink-stained shoulders. "I need more."
Eros bent closer, but instead of kissing him, took the hoop in Iphicles' ear between his teeth and tugged. "You always need more, my general," he said, licking him now, the wings opening behind him.
In the clear afternoon light, they weren't black but a deep violet threaded with silver that caught all color and shimmered like two dusty dark rainbows. His eyes were ringed with the same color, and Iphicles watched himself in them, naked now, spreading his legs as Eros knelt before him, always looking up, right on the cliff's rocky edge.
The wind brushed Iphicles' hair forward, and he pushed it back, because whatever he thought of Eros, nothing was more beautiful than the sight of that winged figure on his knees with Iphicles' cock in his mouth. "Yes," Iphicles said dreamily, stroking Eros' violet hair as that expert tongue tasted him, soothed him with its skill. "I'll kill them all and take their power." He pictured Eros in a giant birdcage, his arms bound behind his back, and his mouth eternally open. "Kill them all," he repeated, thrusting hard. "And take their power."
The chaotic blue vortex left Iphicles on the outskirts of a military camp in the cool evening. He stood on a small outcropping that gave him good purchase of the area, and he stared out over the camp, mindlessly counting the fires while musing of Eros' reluctance to give him the power that he requested-and deserved.
His face broke out in a feral grin. "He's afraid he'll end up like all the others, like the Sovereign, and Zeus." With a glint of madness in his eyes his voice deepened. "And he's right. Once I have enough power in this world, I'll go back and show him who needs more powerful...and when I am through, I alone will rule both worlds."
Clap. Clap. Clap.
"Are you feeling all right, Iphicles? As wonderful sentiments those are, certainly don't sound like you."
He quickly spun around, drawing his sword and pointing it at the new comer's chest.
"Who are you to dare mock me?"
The man casually pushed the sword aside, while a curious yet concerned look crept up on his face. "You don't remember me, Iphicles? You agreed to this meeting, came here by yourself and you don't remember me? I'm hurt."
"I am not the Iphicles you think I am, mortal. Now tell me your name before I get angry."
"Mortal? Who are you calling mortal, Iphicles. If I remember correctly, it's your brother that's immortal. Not you."
Iphicles stalked several step forward until he was mere inches from this intruder, a dagger resting on the skin. "The Sovereign is immortal, and so am I. Tell me your name now, or your blood will fertilize the soil."
The armored man looked oddly at him. "I am Caesar. Julius Caesar, ruler of all Rome."
Iphicles blinked. This was their Caesar? He certainly looked to be a far cry from the quiet High Priest of Zeus he knew back on to the other world. "You are a general then?"
"Yes. One of the best the world has ever seen. Now tell me who you are, since you obviously aren't the person I was planning on meeting tonight."
Iphicles sized up this arrogant Caesar and tried to read his energy, like Eros had taught him. "You are not lying are you? I have never seen such strength in a mortal before. Eros would enjoy you, that if I let him have you..." he muttered, just out of Caesar's range. He could feel Caesar's ire rise and decided that he was beginning to like this Caesar. He reminded Iphicles of himself when he was still mortal.
"To answer your question, Caesar. I am Iphicles from the "other" universe. I'm sure your Iphicles told you all about it, since Hercules would have been bound to tell him."
"Don't be too sure." Caesar backed up a few steps, wanting a better view of his opponent. "My Iphicles and his brother don't get along too well. For all his jabbering about not being a god, Hercules sure acts like one sometimes."
Iphicles grinned. "Some things never change, then."
Caesar curtly nodded. "Now, tell me what you are doing here on my world."
"Yes. Day by day more and more of this world is coming under my control, and I won't give it up without a fight."
Iphicles paused. "I may be able to work something out with you then."
"If you serve me well, I will ensure that you will rule all the mortals for as long as you so desire."
"What's the catch?" Caesar asked suspiciously, something was amiss and he wasn't about to risk his life on a god he just met.
"You have to help me take control of your Olympus. It shouldn't be too hard. Many of your gods are weakened; others are trapped and unable to get out. It will be a bloody battle to be sure, but one I intend to win."
Caesar moved closer again, until flesh touched flesh, his mouth near Iphicles' ear. "Sounds like a glorious idea, but do you even have a plan? And why should I agree to your proposal? I like the idea of ruling just as much as you do, but I'm mortal. I would be dead within minutes of the battle's start, and then I can't rule anything. I won't waste my life on something I have no chance of surviving."
Iphicles smiled. This mortal was as smart as he thought. "Very true, Caesar. I can make you immortal right now. All I ask is that you serve me."
"How do I know that you just won't kill me?"
Iphicles pounced on Caesar, forcing the mortal on hands and knees, and with a thought made the armor disappear. "You don't. But, if you beg for my cock up your ass, I won't, and I'll grant your desire. It's your choice mortal. Death, or eternal life." The entire time he was stroking the roman's burgeoning erection. "You want it, Caesar. You want me just like you want my mortal counterpart. Beg for it Caesar. Beg for it and we will rule both worlds for all eternity!"
Caesar bucked in his hand, growling, "Fuck me you bastard. If you are going to rape me, then do it."
Iphicles grinned, lining up his cock at the dry entrance of Caesar, and as he started shoving in, "I will." He pushed in deeper and deeper ignoring the cries of Caesar as the flesh stretched and began to lightly tear in protest. Iphicles savored the smell of Caesar's sweat, fear and blood and began to pound him mercilessly, ignoring Caesar's moans of protest. He grabbed the mortal's cock and began stroking it in rough rhythm to his thrusts.
Iphicles got closer and closer to completion, "You. Are. Mine." With an animalistic roar the two of them came before collapsing in the dirt, panting.
A lazy gesture and Caesar felt power course through his veins. Iphicles looked down on the new immortal. "Now, you were saying something about a plan?"
Apollo didn't get the chance to inquire how Ares might have known where his twin could have been, unless they participated in the same sort public works programs--say, laying the royal drains of Corinth.
Ares had just said 'you have no idea where he's been' when the Sovereign, who'd finally gotten to his feet, now with Hercules trying to bite a chunk out of his thigh, stumbled backwards tripping over him. An irate 'whuff,' a clash of studs and Ares was on the top of the pile again, squirming, and struggling in a cacophony of thumps, grunts and squeaking leather. Too bad. Apollo had wanted to see him bust a vessel.
Watching his brothers roll with the madman on the floor, Apollo thought how the soft black leather of Ares' pants stretched so smoothly front and back showing off his ass and finer attributes. And how those stone washed homespun shirts of Hercules seemed to have the habit of draping in just right way to hint at the swell of the muscles beneath them. Nice. Here they were abandoned in the middle of only-the-Sky-Father-knew-where still fighting. Interesting how much one sort of wrestling could resemble another. A loving brother would have given them a hint.
And there was the Sovereign in his black leather harness... Laoco÷n? No. Not quite. Maybe he'd commission something in bronze. Nah, Apollo wrinkled his nose fastidiously at the thick musk and sharp smell of male sweat that reached him. Passion and violence: Ares' job description. Hercules' fate. And the Sovereign's nature?
Okay, so Ares used his brains to grow his hair, but Herc, at least, made the occasional attempt at rationalization. *What's going on?* He was distracted by a breath as sweet as wild summer roses on his cheek.
The god in his lap snuggled and cheated a hand inside his vest. *Tweak.* Fire arced from nipple to groin. He groaned, spread his legs and his brother's twin unlaced his pants. A hand combed him. "You are a natural blond." A bubbling laugh. "I've always wondered." He drowned in honey as the god played with him. Pushing up, throwing his head back, he turned for a kiss. Ares' twin had the same mouth, the same succulent lips. If he bit into them, they'd burst like the firm skin of a ripe purple grape and taste like the sweetest Flavian wine. Meeting hot black eyes, Apollo spat straight into the god's mouth.
"What'd you do that for?" The pink and pale version of his dark and war-like brother was on his feet alternately spitting and wiping his mouth as though he could rid himself of Apollo's spew. At the same moment, finally, Hercules' landed a solid hit on the Sovereign's cleft (chin) and "Laoco÷n" collapsed into the "Death of Sarpedon."
But Apollo wasn't in the mood to appreciate art anymore. Amusing as it may have been under other circumstances, watching his brothers act out their sublimated lust, tiny rustic cabins only reminded him of Delos. Which, while it may have been the land of his birth, was also the land of goats and smelly goat herders. Apollo shuddered at the thought of nature uncorrupted and advanced on the dainty deity who'd stopped dancing but still looked like he bit into an unripe persimmon.
"Talk," he said.
"Blow me," the God of Love suggested.
"I gave up the flute for another instrument." Apollo cocked his fist.
"No!" the other god squeaked, reverting. "Not the face! Not the face!" He turned to the other two present. Ares was extracting splinters from his ass and Hercules was tugging at the crotch of his leathers as though they were damp. They were both using the Sovereign for a couch. He appealed to the demigod. "You won't let him. You're a hero and I'm a liar not a."
He stopped and clapped his hands over his mouth in horror as Apollo laughed, "That's right and I need a new set of strings."
"What did he say?" Ares looked up sharply.
"What he always says, he's a lover not a fighter."
"Not this time, Hercules." Ares rose from his seat on the Sovereign's ass rubbing his backside. "Something's screwy here. No way Zeus would think being under house arrest with the two of you is going to make me anymore fond of your faces."
"He didn't say we had to love each other, just get along." Hercules was pressing on the bridge of his nose between his hands and his words came out stuffy and sulky.
When no one answered he looked up.
Apollo rolled his eyes. "Stay just as sweet as you are, Bro. Look, this can't be Dad's idea. He's only got one idea about fraternal love--Get'em. Before they get you."
"Much as it pains me to agree," Ares said, "he's right."
"And since neither of you seemed to have noticed that whatever he said, Zeus didn't limit Sweet Cheek's power's here, I've compelled him to tell the truth." Having scored on both of them with the same shot, Apollo rocked smugly back on his heels and crossed his arms.
"How'd you do that?" Hercules asked.
"I spit in his mouth. From now on, everything he says will be the exact truth."
"Yeeuch," Hercules grimaced. The Sovereign showed signs of life and Hercules sent him back into the arms of Morpheus with a bop on the head.
"Exactly." Ares arranged himself beside Apollo crossing his arms. "But it means we find out what's going on 'and' 'Pol gets that new set of strings for his bow."
Hercules stood up. The Sovereign moaned. Apollo and Ares both gave Hercules a look. He bent and clipped his counterpart another one before straightening and crossing his arms too.
"Can't we talk this over?" the God of Love said, his eyes darting between the three of them "I mean we're all family here, aren't we."
"I guess that would be the point," Hercules said.
The God of Love started swearing like a Corinthian dockhand.
*Meanwhile back at the plains of Marathon.*
"Fuck me, I'm a god!" roared Caesar, and vanished in a viridian stink like piss on overheated prose.
And Iphicles the god, his cock still leaking the drops of deifying ichor that raised blue sparks from the rocks at his feet, clenched his fists and swore. Now he was going to have to hunt him down and kill him.
And the lord of battles, nightwinged Eros of the sliver etched wings, watching his idiot lover in the skrying pool, clenched his fists and beat his heels against War's ebony throne.
"Ares!" he shrieked, his cries splitting the stones of his temple ceiling, the blocks smashing to the black marble floor below, raising clouds of gray and yellow dust until he had to stop and cough. A tear coursed down his dusty cheek. "Ares. Daddy," he blubbed. "You promised."
But his father wasn't there.
The plan was fucked because Iphicles couldn't keep it in his pants.
Now he was going to have to hunt them down and kill them all.
"Have you found anything yet, Boss?"
"No." Hades didn't bother raising his gaze from the unhelpful swirls of the scrying pool to answer Charon; he merely dug his fingers harder into its twisted brass sides and tried to concentrate more clearly upon the images of Apollo and Ares in his mind.
"Look--" Charon stepped closer and a warm hand began stroking Hades' stiff fingers while the other slipped around his waist. "--You're not going to do those Olympian bastards any favours by making yourself as sick as they are."
Hades leaned into the strong body pressing against him, feeling those clever fingers unbuckling the armour from his waist. "I have to find Apollo." He sighed as Charon came to stand before him, slipping his pale hands under the black armour to caress Hades' hips. "And Ares too if he can help. I seem to be the only one unaffected by this sickness."
"As long as you stay down here you mean." Charon continued to rub his fingers in slow circles, up the hipbones and over Hades' rippling stomach, as he dropped silently to his knees. "If you go up there you'll get just as sick as the rest of them."
"That's true." Hades gasped against the sudden rush of air across his hardening cock that was Charon's soft breath. "It's just pitiably predictable for Apollo and Ares to be off fucking while Olympus crumbles."
"Give it time," Charon purred and Hades cock jerked up under his caressing fingers. "You'll find them. You just need a little rest."
"Rest? In this job?" Hades shivered, his eyes screwing shut and his head tipping back as Charon's sweet mouth engulfed him. Then he buckled forwards, fingers leaving dents in the sides of the scrying bowl with each urgent thrust of his hips. Under Charon's stroking encouragement, Hades soon came in choking torrents down Charon's eager throat, his own flushed face staring blankly back from the depths of the scrying pool.
"Beautiful," Charon purred between long licks of Hades' softening cock.
Hades was still panting over his reflection in the scrying pool when a drop of sweat trailed down his cheek and dripped to ripple the smooth surface. As the ripples cleared, the image of gods at war suddenly appeared. "Charon." Hades nudged the kneeling god away from him. "Look."
At Hades' tense tone, Charon immediately stood and they watched the three unfamiliar gods hurl fireballs, lightning and anything else they could dream up at each other.
"That guy looks kinda like Cupid." Charon pointed to the black winged god who was currently being bombarded with rocks by the other two.
"But it's not," Hades snarled, buckling up his armour. "Suddenly everything makes sense, Charon." He looked down at the wrinkled face, marred further by frowning. "Get my chariot, and round up whatever beasts are roaming the first ring of the Tartarus pit.
"Are you sure this is such a good idea, Boss?" Charon stood in the chariot beside Hades; the earth rumbling above them; the Tartarus beasts growling behind them. "You won't last long up there before the sickness gets to you."
"It shouldn't take long, Charon." Hades gathered the chariot reigns tightly and the Tartarus steeds reared in readiness. "They won't be expecting me."
"Good luck, you'll need it," Charon murmured and Hades felt him clambering off the chariot.
With a sharp shake of the reigns, Hades drove his snorting horses straight up through the earth and exploded into the blinding sunlight with a blast of power that reduced the youngest of the three battling gods to a small pile of ashes.
The two remaining Gods turned their heads as one towards the now smoking remains of Caesar.
"Well, that was...unexpected," Eros commented as he wiped at a small collection of ashes that had settled on his shoulder.
Iphicles stood gaping at the newest arrival. "Hades?"
"Yes?" Hades replied as he jumped down from his perch.
"What were you doing underground? Ain't you supposed to be keeping an eye on the Elysian Fields?"
Hades snorted, then laughed uproariously at this. "Me? Elysian Fields? Not fucking likely. For your info, I am God of the Underworld."
At this both Eros and Iphicles replied, "Tartarus?"
"Yeees. You two don't look too good. Cupid, why are your wings black? Iphicles, when did you become a God?"
Not even hearing the question, since his mind was still on the idea of *Hades*! roaming Tartarus, Iphicles dropped to his knees. "Oh Lord Hades! Please, please don't send me to Tartarus, I've been a good boy!" Seeing he still had his sword out, he quickly hid it behind his back. "See?"
"Oh, for fuck's sake! He already saw your sword...dipshit," Eros said as he threw his hands up in the air, shaking his head. He was beginning to wonder if making Iphicles a God had been a good idea.
Hades looked from one God to the other. Wondering what the fuck they had been smoking, he stared at them harder, concentrating till he found his answer. "Ah, you two are from another world."
"Ding, ding, ding! Tell him what he's won," Cupid sarcastically replied.
Hades just shook his head. Why do I get the feeling today is going to be a long day?
Knuckles getting sore, Hercules decided to use his shirt and pants as ropes to tie the Sovereign up. He would have left it at that, but the Sovereign kept cursing him out. First he yelled and screamed for an hour straight till Ares walked over to him and kicked him in the face. That lasted a good five minutes before he came to and began taunting Hercules about his parentage. When Hercules pointed out that his parents were also the Sovereign's, he shrugged his shoulders and simply replied, "Yeah, and?"
So the now butt nekkid Hercules had stuffed his loin cloth into the Sovereign's mouth. Which he wished he hadn't because Ares' twin was whistling and woohooing.
As amusing as it was to watch the normally modest Hercules bounce around the cabin naked (and he did bounce), Apollo had had more than enough. He removed one of his sandals, jumped onto the table, and stood up. He banged his sandal against the cabin's wall repeatedly and loudly while shouting "Silence!" at the top of his considerable lungs. Something must have gotten through their thick heads for soon four faces were turned toward him, and no one was shouting or punching anyone else.
"Look, guys, I know that none of you are the brightest oil lamp on the shelf, but surely you have some brains. Even you, Mr. Badass from the Other World." The Sovereign evidently had something to say to that since he struggled in his bonds and tried to speak around his gag. Apollo doubted it was worth listening to.
"Here's the deal. Something's off, and we need to focus and find out what it is. That means no more pummeling and screaming and trying to remove each other's heads." He looked at the four faces. Ares scowled but nodded his head. Herc looked first at the Sovereign, then turned back to Apollo and nodded reluctantly. The other Ares said nothing and did nothing. He sat by himself in a corner.
Apollo walked over to the squirming, struggling Sovereign. "Listen up, asshole. You may have some information we need. I'm willing to take off the gag. But you have to promise to show a little restraint. Surely you don't want to spend the rest of your miserable existence stuck in this cottage with a bunch of people you hate. And I wonder what's happening to your kingdom while you're gone. Hm?" Apollo rapped with his knuckle on the side of the psycho's head, as if to see whether it was hollow.
The Sovereign's mad eyes stared into Apollo's clear blue ones for what seemed ages. Finally, he ceased his struggles and nodded his assent. Apollo removed the gag.
"NOT HAPPY!" That shout was still echoing around the cabin, when the Sovereign opened his mouth again to scream more epithets.
Apollo pulled back his fist, ready to strike. The Sovereign's mouth snapped shut with only a muffled hiss. He pulled again at the cloths that bound his hands, but said nothing.
"Okay." Apollo turned so he could see all four others at once. "The way I see it, there's one person here who might be able to give us some answers. I've compelled him to tell the truth, but it doesn't compel him to answer anything. Maybe you can help with that, Ares. I guess we can't kill him, but maybe we can hurt him. And I don't think Mr. Hero," he nodded at Herc, "is cut out to do a good job as torturer."
The God of Love plastered himself against the walls that formed his corner, but there was no escape. Ares, God of War, grabbed him by his white leather vest, yanked him out of his corner, and tossed him onto one of the sofas. The war god pulled a small blade from his right boot and straddled his almost twin. He grabbed both fluttering hands and restrained them using one of his own. His weight held down the struggling god's legs.
"I won't say a word. I'm stronger than you think," the love god stammered, blinking at the blade that glittered in the lamplight.
"Wanna bet?" Ares responded. "I wonder if this will mark that pretty face." He rested the blade's gleaming edge against the love god's cheek. "Start asking your questions, Mr. Sunshine."
"Was that our world's Zeus, pretty boy?"
The love god clamped his pouty lips shut even while his eyes fluttered in panic at the blade resting against his flesh. Ares applied pressure and sliced into the smooth cheek. The love god screamed and tried to push Ares' hand and the blade away from him, but Ares was simply too strong. Golden liquid seeped from the wound and dripped onto white leather. Ares repositioned the knife against his captive's cheek.
"No. It was our Zeus." His eyes flickered from Ares' face to Apollo's and back to the knife at his cheek.
"And was this his idea?" Apollo continued.
"No." Since nothing more seemed forthcoming, Ares waved the blade in front of the love god's nose. "It's Eros. And his lover, the General, is helping him. He forced our Zeus to do this."
Apollo was quiet for a moment. Hercules stepped forward. "What's his plan then? Why's he doing this?"
"He's insane, much as I love him. He wants everything. He wants to rule both our world and yours." At this, the Sovereign growled, but a fierce look from Apollo stopped him from embarking on one of his rages. "He's made a lot of our gods sick and says that will make yours sick too."
Ares spoke up then, leaning over his counterpart with threats apparent in every taut muscle. "So how'd we get here, love nuts? How'd he trap us here without our powers?"
"I don't know everything. He showed me how to help him open a vortex. He wanted to make sure we captured you and Herc and the Sovereign. Bringing Apollo along was an accident. He wanted me here to keep all of you distracted until after he's made his assault on your Olympus. I don't know why I have my powers and you don't." The God of Love sank back into the couch, clearly exhausted by his truth telling. "He'll kill me now, even if he does love me. There's no hope for me at all." He started to cry.
"Ares, let him go. I don't think there's any more he can tell us." Apollo shook his head. "What a flake! We've gotta get back to our own world. The question is how."
The Sovereign looked blank. Ares removed himself from the love god's lap and started pacing the short length of the cabin.
Herc rose to his feet. "I've had some experience with these vortex things. One opened up when Ares and I were fighting."
"Don't think that's gonna work, bro. All you three," Apollo inclined his head to include Ares, the Sovereign, and Herc, "have done since we've been here is fight. What else?"
Hercules and Ares thought. Apollo swore he could see steam coming out of their ears.
"Two gods can open a vortex if they combine their powers," Hercules called out excitedly. "That's all we need."
Despite their doubts, Ares and Apollo tried.
"No juice, big guy. We don't have any powers to combine." Apollo felt like pacing but there wasn't room in the small cottage for two pacing gods, and Ares looked like he was ready to trample anyone who got in his way. Apollo sat on the table and tried to focus his thoughts, to remember everything that had happened since they'd arrived here.
"Say! If we can't open a vortex by fighting, maybe we can open it by making nice. That's what their Zeus said. If he was here against his will, maybe he was trying to give us a clue in the only way he knew how." Apollo bounded to his feet. "He said something about learning to get along or spending the rest of eternity fighting."
Ares stopped his pacing. "Assuming this would work, which sounds nuts, just how do we go about learning to get along? That's not exactly something that comes naturally to this bunch."
"I've got an idea." Apollo pointed at Herc. "Grab the Sov and sit him over here on the floor." He pointed to a spot devoid of rustic furniture. "Then you sit down next to him. Ares, you over here. Love boy, sit there." Apollo sat down himself, and the others realized they were sitting in a circle.
"Some of my priests do this sort of shit all the time. They call it a sharing circle or something. Sov, we're going to release your hands, but you've gotta stay in control. No screaming, no pounding. Otherwise, you'll be here with us forever. Got it?"
Herc's lookalike growled a yes, so Apollo nodded and Herc released the Sovereign's hands. Those hands started to form fists, but a look from Apollo and a hiss from Herc got the psycho demi-god back under control.
"Now, we all join hands." Apollo reached out to the love god and the Sovereign. With much grumbling, the circled gods and demi-gods joined hands.
"This is wacko. I think you've been out in the sun way too long," Ares muttered.
"Chill. You wanna get out of here, don't you?" Apollo looked at each of the gods and demi-gods, trying to impress them with the importance of what they were attempting to do. "Now, we're going to start around the circle and each guy has to say something nice and true about one of the guys next to him. Got it?"
Ares cursed. Herc muttered something about too little air on Olympus, and the Sovereign opened his mouth to scream some epithet.
Apollo cut them all off. "I don't like it either, but I want out. Unless someone can think of something better, this is it. So start complimenting." He looked pointedly at Hercules.
"Um. Well. He's got a really, um, strong, uh, he's a good fighter," Hercules mumbled, looking at his counterpart.
At a glare from Apollo, the war god tried his best. "Well, Herc looks kind of good with his clothes off, I guess."
In fits and starts, the compliments were muttered or growled.
Hades' mind whirled as he tried to consider the possibilities. What could these two be doing here, and what in the world was going on with Olympus? Could they be planning to attack? Whatever the plan, he'd probably need reinforcements, if he could find any. He didn't seem to be succumbing to the illness, at least not yet, but he was outnumbered. And he had no idea what powers he was facing. The Cupid lookalike with the black wings looked meaner than any number of the monsters he'd unleashed to punish the damned. He transmitted a call for help while he drew his sword.
Wings beating, the strange Cupid advanced. "Let's dispose of this one and be on our way. He's one of their older ones, and I just love to sink my teeth into my elders."
Hades summoned a ball of power and launched it at the intruder. The ball flew at him, struck, but seemed to have no effect. Blue drizzles of power slid from the god into the rocky soil. The alien god laughed and flew forward, and the battle was joined. The alien Iphicles attacked as well. Hades beat back their advances and put up a solid defense. The battle raged with blades clashing and fists flying.
Since their frontal assault was not getting through, the two aliens changed tactics. The strange Iphicles engaged Hades in complex maneuvers, distracting him from what the winged god was doing. The winged god would then fly in and attack with blade or teeth or feet. Hades countered most of the moves, but was finally bitten on the sword arm.
"Yum! Tastes good, old man. Can't wait to get some more." He smiled at Hades, displaying his ichor-stained, sharpened teeth.
Hades fought on, but he could feel himself weakening from the bite on his arm. It burned as if with the fires of Hades' own realm. At this rate, they'd get through his guard. He redoubled his efforts but was unable to score a hit on either of his opponents.
At that moment, two gods shimmered into being on either side of him. Poseidon roared a battle cry and charged forward with his trident raised. Demeter opened her arms and the earth fissured open at the alien Iphicles' feet.
The two aliens retreated hastily. The strange Cupid yelled to his companion, and both alien immortals disappeared in a flash of blue light.
"To Olympus!" yelled Hades. "That must be the target." He flashed out of sight, and his two allies followed him.
It was becoming more and more difficult for each of them to come up with a compliment that was true for someone else in the circle. The love god just kept whispering that this one or that one had a beautiful mouth, or chest, or strong arms. Ares, Hercules, and the Sovereign had exhausted ways to compliment each other on their fighting skills. This just wasn't working.
In desperation, Apollo tried another tack. "Herc, much as I may not like it, you're very protective of mortals." Something shimmered in the air around them. He tried again. "Ares, I have to admit you're a better strategist that I usually give you credit for." A breeze seemed to drift around the circle. "C'mon, guys! I feel something. All of you, say something! And make it good!"
Ares mumbled something about Herc's inability to be corrupted. The Sovereign shouted that he admired Ares' ambition. Apollo could see the air moving around the cabin now, shimmering with power. The love god rocked back and forth, chanting something like, "I can feel the love."
Apollo, overcome by the moment and the swirls of power in the room, told Ares and Herc that he was glad to have them as allies in this predicament. A vortex opened in one corner. Apollo grabbed the love god, while Hercules grabbed his double. All five of them leaped into the swirling power.
Hades had arrived on Olympus just in time to catch the winged god streaking for the unprotected gates. He caught the alien god by the ankle and flung him backward. The strange Iphicles ran forward while he was still engaged with the winged god. Poseidon arrived in time to block the alien's advance with his trident. Demeter struggled to will the gates to close behind them.
Hades' wound from the alien god's teeth had refused to heal. He had used up most of his strength preventing the winged god's advance. He didn't know how long he could defend his position, and he was afraid that Demeter's fighting skills were limited. They would be further hampered by being, all three, so far away from their own sources of power. Hades steeled his will and fought on.
Suddenly, some swirling void opened overhead and rained bodies on the battlefield. Hades was distracted for a moment, and the winged god's blade slid into his side. As he sank to his knees, he recognized a figure clad in black leather picking himself up and charging the god who'd wounded him. He yelled and tossed his blade to his nephew.
Another nephew rolled to his feet, then flipped to land on top of the alien Iphicles. Sinking further, eyes almost closed, Hades saw another Hercules bellow and dive toward the winged god. As his eyes closed, Hades thought to himself that Olympus was saved.
Slouched on his throne, Ares heard the bellowed summons and decided he might as well get this over with. Summoning his powers, he flashed into the glade where Hercules was waiting for him.
"Okay. What do you want to blame on me now?" Ares looked at his half-brother. Hercules seemed to be having trouble meeting his eyes.
Hercules looked off into the distance, then down at his feet. "It's like this, Ares. You did a good job defending Olympus. It felt kinda good to have you fighting beside me. Especially since Iolaus wasn't there."
"We did kick some otherworldly butt, didn't we? I guess you did a pretty decent job on their Iphicles. Must have been weird fighting him. But then, I guess you're used to fighting brothers." Ares wasn't sure he wanted to look into Herc's eyes either.
"So, how's Hades? And all the rest of them."
"Hades will be fine. Apollo treated him with something that smelled like rotting fish. The rest are getting their strength back. Once we released the gods in the other world, their Hestia was able to start healing them." Ares looked down at his feet. "You were a big help in that world. Restraining the Sov so he didn't kill everybody on sight. Who knows what that would have done in this world."
"Yeah, well, it's my job to clean up the messes that the gods make. Right?" Herc gave a short laugh and looked off into the distance again. "Well, I just wanted to check on things. You know."
"Yeah. I know. Guess I'll take off. All this doesn't change anything, though. You know that, right?"
"Right. I know that." Herc smiled at Ares, a crooked smile but a smile nonetheless.
"As long as you understand. Oh, and by the way, you do look pretty good with all your clothes off." Ares chuckled as his half-brother's face blushed red. He vanished in a puff of blue energy.
The General looked down a long, dark corridor that led nowhere. He knew; he had followed its twistings and turnings until they'd dead-ended or brought him back to where he'd begun. His prison seemed limitless, full of nooks and crannies filled with dry bones and slithering things. But he could find no way out.
Hercules had restrained the Sovereign from killing them. For the thousandth time, Iphicles rained curses on Hercules' interfering head. It would have been better to have died than to live forever in this elegantly appointed prison. He had plenty of food and drink, soft cushions, pretty jewels to run through his fingers. And nothing to do except explore his prison and listen to the ravings of his mad companion.
He remembered a time when he'd desired a bound and caged Eros servicing his cock. He looked over at the huge, gilt cage where Eros rested. Sensing his interest, the god's wings, still beautiful, fluttered.
"Iphy. Come, Iphy. My mouth is waiting. I want your cock." The singsong, eerie tones echoed around the room. Sensing his disinterest, Eros flapped his wings harder. He flew again and again into the shining bars of his cage, until, finally, he fell back to its floor. He bit his own lip, and a mixture of ichor and saliva drooled from his mouth to stain the marble floor.
Iphicles couldn't watch. He should have been more careful what he wished for.