A slow thin mist drifted across the cold, damp grounds of Tartarus; wrapping itself around the rocks, stalagmites all it touched. The air was equally as damp and cold carrying a putrid odor of death and decay. The wailing of the tortured souls imprisoned for all eternity echoed from all corners; their unearthly cries and begging for mercy going unheard; bouncing off the walls until it's vibration becomes as meaningless as the fatal belief there is someone nearby that can hear them.
Hera, Queen of the Gods, slowly opened her pale blue eyes to total darkness. Her head pounded and she felt cold and dizzy as her face lay on the dank moldy earth. Something cold and oily crawled on her hand; tiny prickles sinking into her skin. She jerked her and away sending whatever it was flying through the blackness. Her body ached as she pushed herself into a seated position; sticky slime clung to the back of her hand where the thing had been. Having no other choice she wiped it away on the hem of her gown. Scattered thoughts ran through her mind as she tried to remember what had happened. As her wits returned the fight with Hercules in the viewing room of Olympus filled her consciousness. Fury exploded in her soul as the Queen of the Gods rose to her feet. Throw me into the pits of Tartarus will he? she thought to herself as she stared upwards towards Olympus.
"I'll finish off that half-breed if it's the last thing I do. Zeus or no Zeus."
In a flash of white-yellow light she was gone; reappearing back in her chambers on Olympus seconds later. Turning around she caught sight of herself in the full length mirror that stood in the corner. Her gown was torn and filthy covering with the dirt of that retched place. Her hair was in disarray; blond strands hanging down. Her hand flew to her head realizing that her jewel encrusted crown was no longer on her head but somewhere on the floors of Tartarus. Gods, how could Hades spend all his time there? With a downward sweep of her hand her tattered gown was replaced by another; this time of hunter green with half sleeves and a circular neckline. Another sweep and her hair was returned to the regal looking bun on the top of her head; another crown holding it in place. She finished off the look with matching gemstones around her neck. There. Hera thought, satisfied with her appearance. Now to do something about that half-breed once and for all.
She paced around the chambers she reluctantly shared with Zeus her mind racing with possibilities of what she could do to repay Hercules for what he's done.
Walking over to the mirror pool in the corner, Hera searched out Hercules and all those he called his friends. She had destroyed his wife and kids a long time ago, she would finish the job now; taking away all he loved then when he's the last she would do away with him. Once his beloved son was gone she would go to Zeus….
A sudden thought came into her mind like a flash of lightning. Son, or in this case, sons.
An evil glare came into her pale eyes as the Queen of the Gods left her chambers reappearing in the Temple of Ares.
The God of War lounged across his thone, a leather clad leg hanging over the arm as he polished his favorite sword to perfection; the metal glistening under the light of the torches.
Hera studied her warrior son; his strong muscular body covered in black leather. The way his short dark hair framed his handsome bearded face. He had come along way from the little boy he once was. She hadn't paid a lot of attention to him in the past; something she was beginning to regret. She stood there invisibly watching him furbish the metal that was the source of all his power; the very nature of his soul. Reaching out and touching his mind she knew instantly that he was still furious over the events of the day and was just counting the time until he would have a chance for a rematch. Hera closed her eyes, feeding off of her son’s anger and hate for the half sibling that had brought nothing but misery into his life. Now, she knew, he would finally have a chance at revenge.
"Ares," she said softly making her presence known, "I wish to speak with you."
"About what?" the God of War asked not looking up from the task at hand. He already knew what she was going to ask of him.
But he wanted to hear the words from her as he had earlier. It was his assurance that the blame wouldn’t fall solely on him.
"Ares, look at me. I won't be ignored."
Ares glanced up; his brown eyes carrying the hint of boredom.
"I know your probably upset over what happened on earth earlier…"
Ares stopped raising his eyes to his mother. The dark scowl on his face told her all she needed to know.
Slowly she walked around the side of her son’s throne; the tips of his fingers touching his hair. He angrily brushed her hand away as if he were swatting a fly or another annoying pest that threatened to get itself tangled in his hair. Hera pulled her hand away lowering it to her sides. He really was mad.
“But I think I’ve come up with a plan to rid ourselves of the miserable half-breed once and for all.”
”Do tell me.” Ares said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. He had heard it all before.
“Because it was Zeus who gave Hercules his power, it was as if we were taking him on, plus his own…abilities.”
Ares listened wishing Hera would just get to the point.
“Seperately, we were unable to stop him, together…” she said kneeling at her son’s feet peering straight into his firey eyes, “together we’re unstoppable.”
“And Zeus’ little protection order?” the God of War reminded her, “What do you think he’s going to do when he finds out we knocked off his coddled favorite?”
“Against the three of us, my son, he wouldn’t dare.”
Ares leaned his head back considering the matter.
“Who’s the third?” he asked.
“You’ll find out later. I’ll be back here in one hour. Are you with me?”
Hera reached out and placed her hand on her son’s. This time the God of War didn’t pull away. He gazed back into his mother’s face a new stream of adrenaline coursing through his veins. Without a word, he nodded to his mother. She rose to her feet disappearing in a flash of light.
The water along the beach had grown a bit rougher by late afternoon. The powerful waves smacking against the rocks; grabbing sand from the coastline and pulling it back into the sea.
Hera glanced out into the ocean to see her other son coasting on his board prepared to take on the sizable wave that was building.
Even though her other son was also a god and could easily take care of himself, a nervous feeling crept over her as she watched him stand up. It must be a mother thing.
“If anything happens to him Poseidon.” She murmurs out loud her eyes never leaving her son. Finding his balance, Apollo rode the wave like he was born on it as it carried him to shore like disciples carrying their king.
“Apollo!” Hera called out to her son as he hit the shoreline his feet on the ground, the board under his arm.
“Very nice.” She said to him looking him over. He was such a contrast in color from her other son. Unlike Ares who was dark haired and dark eyed, Apollo’s shoulder-length wavy hair was a honey blonde as if it had been kissed by the sun and his eyes were a deep blue like a sky on a cloudless day. His hard, muscular body encased with a flawless golden tan without a tan-line showing to mar his perfection.
“How did one mother get so lucky as to have such handsome sons?” she smiled to herself as the God of Light and Healing approached.
“You’re looking for me?” he asked dropping his board to the side. A white fluffy towel appeared in his hand that he used to dry his face.
“Yes, I was.” The Queen of the Gods answered walking up to her son, “I want to talk to you about something.”
“You want me to join in your plan for destroying Hercules despite Zeus’s protection order.” When Hera didn’t answer, Apollo laughed shaking his head unbelievably. Did she really think he was stupid or something?
“I am a God mother, though sometimes you like to forget it. Besides, Ares filled me in.”
The expression that crossed Hera’s face was in itself a cross between annoyance and pride. Her two sons.
The rich, infectious sound of Ares laughter filled the air as the God of War appeared on the beach next to his brother. A satisfied smirk crossed his face.
“Alright Hera, you’ve got our attention, now exactly what is this winner of a plan that will destroy that half-breed without all of us winding up rotting in Tartarus for all eternity.
Hera’s cool gaze bounced between her two son as she began to relay her plan.
end of part I