The End of Olympus
“KEEP YOUR RIGHT ARM UP!”
Emily raised her staff higher and stood before Diana, panting, sore, and exhausted, awaiting her next attack. When Diana lunged, Emily countered with a tumble and spin maneuver that saw her back on her feet and striking Diana’s staff from the side.
In response, Diana dove down low and came back up under Emily’s defenses, knocking the staff from her hands. It flew several feet away and crashed to the ground.
They had been training for most of the day, and the fatigue was starting to make Emily sloppy. Her long black hair swept into her eyes, and her hands
were slippery from sweat. She was trembling with exertion as she retrieved her staff.
They were in the remains of the amphitheater, on what was left of the stage. It would be some time before another performance could be hosted here, as most of the repairs to Olympus were focusing on the homes. The invasion by the Titans who had escaped the prison Tartarus had caused almost complete destruction, which the Olympians were only now recovering from.
But while the amphitheater awaited repair, it made a very good training ground, with little chance of them being disturbed.
“Higher!” Diana repeated as she attacked again. She cut down with her staff and slipped easily through Emily’s defenses, striking her in the side. Emily grunted and went down to her knees, gasping for breath.
“You see, if you do not keep your arm up, you leave yourself vulnerable.”
Behind her, Pegasus neighed loudly and came forward. He put himself between Diana and Emily and pawed the ground.
“Yes, I know she is tired,” Diana said to the winged stallion. “But Emily has a body now. She must learn to use it properly and to protect it. She is an Olympian, and most of her powers are gone. If we ever go against the Titans again, she must be prepared to fight in hand-to-hand combat.”
Emily looked up at Pegasus, grateful for the brief respite he’d given her. “I’m okay, Pegs. Diana’s right. I must learn this.” Still panting, she raised her staff, preparing to engage the powerful huntress once again.
But Diana didn’t move. “No. Pegasus is correct. I am pushing you too hard. You may take the rest of the day off.”
Emily glanced up at the sky and saw the clouds going pink as the sun started to set. There wasn’t much of a day left to take off. “Thank you,” she said. “Same time tomorrow?”
Diana nodded. “We will start first thing with bow training and then move on to swords.” As she started to leave, Diana called back, “Pegasus, make sure she eats plenty of ambrosia. She needs to keep up her strength.”
Emily pulled a towel down from Pegasus’s neck and watched Diana leave. “Does that woman ever get tired? Look at her. She didn’t even break a sweat or mess her hair. I’m soaked and hurt all over!”
There was a twinkle in the stallion’s eyes, and Emily knew he was laughing at her. “Yes, I know, I’ve got a real body and I’m not used to doing these physical things. But I’m getting stronger. I can feel it.”
Pegasus nickered and nodded.
After she wiped her face, Emily looked around. Scars from the recent battle were everywhere. A whole section of the white marble amphitheater’s upper seats was gone completely. The statues along the avenues had all been broken and were only now being slowly replaced. Jupiter’s palace, containing the apartment she shared with her father, Pegasus, Joel, and Paelen was being rebuilt after the Titans had razed it to the ground.
When the Titans had poured into Olympus, they’d destroyed everything in sight. Earth hadn’t fared much better. She and her friends had gone to Hawaii to look for a power shard that lay deep in the Diamond Head volcano and the Titans had followed them. The
Hawaiian island of Oahu had suffered greatly as the Titans and Olympians had brought the war there—it had soon involved Pele and the powerful Hawaiian gods. Were it not for the intervention of the ancient Xan, Emily wondered what would have happened.
Everything had changed on that one trip. She had changed more than she’d ever imagined possible and doubted if things could ever be the same again.
Emily pressed her forehead to the stallion’s warm neck. “It’s all so different now, Pegs,” she said sadly. “Look, Joel and Chrysaor aren’t here—they’re probably holed up in Vulcan’s forge, doing their best to avoid me. Paelen is off somewhere with Lorin. Before, they’d have been here making fun of me and cheering me on.”
Pegasus leaned his head back to her and nickered.
“I know what you’re going to say. That I’m feeling sorry for myself. Maybe I am. But it just feels like everything is ending. I know things can’t stay the same, but why do they have to change so much?”
She inhaled deeply and stroked his strong, muscled neck. “At least you’re still here. That’s all that matters. You and me—‘Team Pegasus’ forever.”
Pegasus snorted again and lowered one of his wings to invite her up onto her back. Without hesitation, Emily climbed up. She didn’t care where they went, as long as they were together.
The stallion’s hooves clicked on the marble stage as he started to trot and then entered a cantor. He opened his powerful wings and took off. Emily didn’t need to ask where they were going; she already knew.
Her favorite place in all Olympus—the lake with its smooth, soft silver sand that went up to the warm waters. It was calm and still and always eased her troubled mind.
As Pegasus winged his way over the damaged city, Emily was reminded of the phoenix legend. Olympus was rising once again from the ashes of destruction. Ahead she saw the Temple of the Flame, with the fire burning brightly in the plinth. It was one of the few places left undamaged. The Titans had recognized its value as much as the Olympians did. Their plan was to capture it along with Emily, to control her as much as they did Lorin. But they had failed. Now the Flame burned brightly, even if most of Emily’s powers were gone.
Sometimes late at night when she was alone in her bedroom, Emily would test herself to see what powers she had left. She could still shoot flames from her hands and hone them down into laser flame. If she concentrated very hard, she could move objects with her mind and could levitate. But it wasn’t as easy as it had been before, and she would never risk trying to fly again. All the powers had seemed so scary in the beginning. Now she missed them.
Each day Emily discovered something else she’d lost. There were so many little things she’d grown accustomed to that were gone. She was grateful that she still had the power to heal with a touch, but now, when she used her healing powers, she was left feeling tired and drained.
Riza said it would take time for her to adjust to her new life—“Emily Version II”—as she teasingly called her. And Riza was right. One of the hardest things for Emily to adjust to was not having the gentle Xan’s guiding voice in her head.
In order to save them both, Riza’s father had separated them. He’d given Emily her Olympian body and had restored Riza. Riza was now a full,
immensely powerful and super-tall Xan living on Xanadu. One of the oldest worlds in the universe, Xanadu had become a sanctuary for the people and animals of dying worlds. They were brought there and protected by the ancient Xan. Now that Riza was fully back to herself, she remained guardian of the unique sanctuary. Occasionally she would “pop” over to Olympus for a visit, but most of her time was spent taking care of the inhabitants of Xanadu.
Emily missed her more than she’d expected. Riza had been a part of her for so long; it was like losing a twin sister, and their separation was painful.
Pegasus nickered and drew Emily from her thoughts. They were approaching the silver lake. As the stallion came lower in the sky, Emily saw that their beach was not empty. Unfortunately, one of the visitors to the lake was someone Pegasus absolutely hated.
“It’s all right, Pegs,” Emily said reassuringly. “We don’t have to go down. We can just fly around for a while.”
Pegasus snorted again and continued his descent. He whinnied angrily.
This call was answered by another loud, shrill whinny.
“Pegs, no, please, you can’t fight him!” Emily clutched his mane tightly. “Just leave them alone. We can go someplace else.”
Pegasus was trembling beneath her as he touched down on the sand and trotted closer to his clone, Tornado Warning.
The clone was just as angry to see the original on the beach. His wings fluttered, his eyes went wide and wild, and his nostrils flared in threat.
“Tornado, stop,” Lorin called. “Calm down. He’s not here to harm you.” The tall, beautiful blond Titan was standing at Tornado Warning’s head and stroking the angry stallion’s muzzle.
Emily wasn’t sure what bothered her most. Pegasus’s anger, or seeing Lorin and Paelen walking together with Tornado Warning on her secret beach—the one place in Olympus where she and Pegasus could go to be completely alone. Emily felt more than a trace of betrayal that Paelen had brought Lorin here.
She knew Pegasus felt the same seeing Tornado Warning.
Lorin had fallen instantly in love with Pegasus the moment she’d first seen him. But knowing she could never possess the free-spirited winged stallion, Jupiter had given her the next best thing—Pegasus’s clone, created in the Area 51 laboratory by the evil government agency the Central Research Unit. The CRU had created many clones of Olympians, and although Jupiter promised to take care of them all, there were some that still caused a lot of trouble. Tornado Warning was one of them.
While he was identical to Pegasus in every way, it was only a physical match. Where Pegasus was an intelligent and respected citizen of Olympus, Tornado Warning was just a flying horse. His behavior was pure equine with none of the grace or elegance of the original.
The one thing they did share was a burning hatred for each other. “It’s all right, Pegs,” Emily said. “Let’s just go!”
“No, wait!” Lorin called as she stroked Tornado’s neck to calm him. “These two should become friends.”
“I do not think that is a good idea,” Paelen warned. “They have a history that is not good.”
“I am sure if they spent time together . . .”
“Lorin, no,” Emily said forcefully. “You cannot force friendship on anyone. Pegasus is free to choose who he wants to be friends with. Tornado Warning isn’t one of them.”
Paelen wouldn’t meet Emily’s eyes. She could feel his discomfort at being caught in what was understood to be Emily and Pegasus’s private place. “Come,” he said to Lorin. “We should go.”
“Why? We were here first.” Lorin pouted. “This is our special place. If they do not like us here, they can go. But I am not leaving.”
Emily felt her own temper flare. Since Lorin had come to live in Olympus, the tension between her and Emily had not eased. In fact, it had grown. Like Pegasus with Tornado Warning, there was no way Emily and Lorin could ever be friends.
Looking back at Paelen’s discomfort, it was obvious this wasn’t the first time they’d been here. She watched him closely and could see the conflict in his face. Paelen was loyal to Emily, but he had developed feelings for Lorin and didn’t want to disappoint her.
Paelen was a warm, loving person who had been
alone for a long time. He deserved all the happiness in the world, and Emily was glad he’d found someone. She just wished it had been anyone but Lorin. Though she couldn’t blame him. Lorin was stunningly beautiful, vulnerable, and capable of great kindness—when she wasn’t being a spoiled brat. Most of all, Lorin adored him.
“No, Paelen, it’s all right,” Emily said. “We’ll go.” She gave Pegasus a quick nudge. “Come on, Pegs, let’s just get out of here.”
Pegasus was pawing the sand and snorting at Tornado Warning. But with Emily’s gentle prodding, he finally turned away from his clone. But with each step he took, Emily could feel his hesitation. Despite everything, Pegasus still wanted to fight.
When Tornado whinnied again, Pegasus looked back. “Pegs, please, I really need to get out of here now.”
Pegasus was quivering as he started to trot and then opened his wings and took off. Emily understood how he felt because she felt exactly the same. That beach was their escape. Now that was gone, and it only made her feel worse.
“Let’s just go home,” she said sadly.
With Jupiter’s palace destroyed, Emily and her family were scattered around Olympus, staying with other families. Emily and Pegasus were now living with Alexis and Tom—the two Sphinxes—on the far side of the city. Her father was sharing quarters with Hercules, while Diana had moved in with her twin brother, Apollo. Joel was now living at Vulcan’s forge, and Paelen—well, Paelen moved around a lot and didn’t call any one place home.
When the palace was rebuilt, Emily was certain everything would return to normal. But until then they would have to wait.
Pegasus landed outside the tall cave Tom and Alexis called home. Despite its wild, rough exterior, when they passed through the entrance, the inside was as opulent as Jupiter’s palace. Because they were Sphinxes, Tom and Alexis didn’t use chairs. Instead, large, fluffy throw cushions were scattered around the carpeted floor. Tables were much shorter, and dishes, well, they were optional—though Tom was doing his best to try to get Alexis to use cutlery, despite their large lion’s paws.
The walls of the cave were draped in tapestries with
woven images showing Olympus in its glory. Near the back of the cave were several statues that had been saved from destruction. When the restorations were complete, these would be returned to Jupiter’s palace.
Off the main cave were several secondary caves. These served as bedrooms, and one was used as a small kitchen area.
Emily slid down from Pegasus’s back and patted the stallion. “We’ll find somewhere else to go walking.”
“Walking where?” Tom padded out from the kitchen area.
He was still a sight to see, and in all honesty, Emily was surprised by how much being a Sphinx suited him. His upper torso was muscular and bare and his head and face were the same, though he was letting his hair grow long like a lion’s mane. After that, everything about him was different. He had a massive set of eagle’s wings folded neatly along his lion’s body. His arms and legs were those of a lion, with paws instead of hands or feet, and he had a long tail that swished with every movement.
Looking at him, Emily could hardly remember what he’d looked like as a man—let alone a CRU
agent. There was one thing that was obvious: He was happy. When Alexis appeared beside him, his face lit with joy.
Emily felt like an intruder in their home. They had only recently been joined in an Olympian union ceremony, and she hated to disturb what was essentially their honeymoon. But both Tom and Alexis had insisted that she and Pegasus stay with them while the palace was being rebuilt.
“How did the training with Diana go?” Tom asked.
“Fine, I guess,” Emily answered softly. “If you don’t mind being tortured by a female Attila the Hun.”
“I’m sure she’s not that bad,” Alexis said.
Emily held up her arm where a new bruise was coming to the surface. “Oh no? Even my bruises have bruises.”
“Well, I’ve drawn you a nice hot bath,” Alexis said. “We still have some time before supper. Why don’t you take a break?”
• • •
Emily lounged in the bath, trying to ease her stiff muscles. It had been so long since she’d had a body, she’d forgotten all the little things that could hurt.
Laughter filtered in from the other part of the cave, and she could hear Pegasus nickering lightly. She was glad they were happy. She just wished she could share it. But as she lay back, her long black hair billowed around her.
Black hair, instead of the auburn she’d always had. Her legs were much longer too. And her fingers—they seemed impossibly long and fine. Everything had changed.
When she finished bathing, Emily climbed from the tub, jumping when she caught her reflection in the mirror. She still wasn’t used to seeing the stranger that was now her.
Emily walked closer to the glass and studied her new face. Her eyes were now a deep sapphire blue with white specks. Riza had given her those specks by slipping some of herself into the mix when her father created a new body for Emily. The skin was smooth without a mark or blemish on it. She was so much taller than before and perfectly proportioned. Everything about her new body was beautiful and perfect. So perfect, in fact, that Emily hated it.
It was hard to admit, but Emily hated everything
about her new life. Her new body, her limited powers, and especially the way everyone looked at her. Inside she was still the same, but the outside had changed, and she missed the person she used to be.
But if she couldn’t accept herself, how could she expect others to accept her? It made no sense. “Emily Version II” was stunning. Tall and beautiful, she was a younger version of Diana, with all of her grace and elegance. But still, Emily would have traded anything to have her old body back, with all its faults.
“Emily, are you finished? It’s time to eat,” Tom’s voice called.
“Be right there.” It was unbearable to hear her voice coming from that perfect person reflected in the mirror. “Break all the mirrors,” she said softly to herself. “That’s what I’ll do. Problem solved.”
She dressed and walked into her bedroom. Tom was there with a sympathetic smile on his face. “Emily, sit down for a moment. I’d like to talk to you.”
When she sat, he sat down on the floor beside her. “You know, in all of Olympus, I think I’m the one who understands most what you’re going through.”
Emily had been trying to hide her feelings from everyone. But the way Tom was looking at her, she knew she’d failed. “What do you mean?”
“You’re asking the man who spent ages as a tree what I mean. I was a tree, Emily. Leaves, bark, and roots. Then, from that, you turned me into a Sphinx. So you know full well what I’m talking about. We’ve both gone through some pretty extreme changes.”
“But you wanted to be a Sphinx.”
“Oh yes, I did, and I’ll be eternally grateful to you and Riza for doing it for me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t go through some major adjustments. I still am. You know, of all the stupid things I miss, it’s having thumbs. Can you imagine how difficult it is to pick things up with paws?”
Emily dropped her head and chuckled. “I hadn’t thought about it.”
Tom laughed too. “Trust me. Spoons are no fun. It’s a good thing I don’t wear shoes anymore, because there’s no way I could tie laces with these babies!” He held up his two large lion paws. “I won’t even tell you what it’s like to shave in the morning.” He became serious. “So I kind of know what you’re going
through. I’ve seen it on your face and on the faces of everyone else around here.”
“It’s because I look like Diana.”
“No, it’s not that you look like Diana. It’s because you don’t look like Emily anymore. It’s taking time for everyone to adjust and for you to get used to yourself.”
“But . . .” Emily felt herself starting to break. “But Joel . . .”
“I know,” Tom said. “I’ve seen it too. Joel is hiding himself away in Vulcan’s forge as he tries to process the changes in you. That doesn’t mean he cares any less for you. It’s just going to take him time.”
“What if he can’t accept me?”
Tom sighed. “Emily, until I met Alexis, I believed I was immune to emotions. I was a CRU agent and nothing more. But the moment I laid eyes on her, everything changed. So I may not be the best one to give advice on relationships. But what I will say is that if Joel can’t get used to you, if he can’t see that you are the same amazing girl you’ve always been, then he isn’t worthy of you. The loss will be his, not yours.”
“It will be both of ours,” Emily said softly.
Tom leaned forward, kissed her forehead, and lifted her chin with his large golden paw. “You’ll find your way, Emily. I know you will. This face, beautiful in all that it is, isn’t yours yet. You haven’t worn it long enough to let your character shine through.”
“And if it never does?”
“It will, Emily. I can promise you that.” Tom shook his head sadly. “Back on Earth, magazines and television were always pushing the idea that external beauty is all that matters. It isn’t. Faces and bodies change; we all get older—it’s a fact of life. It’s what’s inside that really counts. Not this temporary exterior.”
He chuckled again. “Okay, so it’s not quite so temporary here on Olympus, with this immortality thing going on, but you know what I mean. You have been the new Emily for only a short while. Give yourself time to get used to yourself. I’m sure you’ll soon see that you haven’t changed all that much. Soon as you accept yourself, you’ll find everyone else treating you the way they always did.”
Emily threw her arms around Tom and held him tightly. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome,” he said. “Now, let’s go in there and celebrate the return of Emily!”
• • •
After dinner Pegasus disappeared into the evening sky without telling anyone where he was going. He returned a short while later with Emily’s father. When he touched down, Pegasus wouldn’t meet Emily’s eyes, and she realized he must have been listening in on her conversation with Tom. He thought she needed her father. Pegasus was right. Of all the wonderful people on Olympus, it was Pegasus who knew her best.
When her father slid off the stallion’s back, he embraced Emily. “I still can’t get over you being taller than me.”
“Not taller,” Emily said. “We’re the same height.”
He grinned. “Maybe, but I seem to be getting shorter all the time. Joel is taller than me now, Paelen, Diana and you.”
Emily grinned back, feeling all the better for seeing him. “This means I can do this to you.” She ruffled his hair.
As they walked together in the setting sun, Emily
told her father about the encounter with Paelen and Lorin at the beach, and how Joel had been avoiding her. With her father at her side and Pegasus walking behind them, Emily felt her worries start to fade.
Finally they stopped and her father turned to her. “Em, I know this has been hard on you and that you’re still feeling very out of sorts because of Hawaii. . . .”
Emily dropped her head but nodded.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like for you, especially all these changes. But you can’t let it get you down. You’re alive. That’s all that matters—to me and to everyone else. You’re alive and we’re in this beautiful place. Yes, it’s been damaged, but look how fast the Olympians are repairing it. That is what’s important. Not that you’ve changed—or are much taller than me.”
“But . . .”
“Yes, I get it. Joel is being an idiot. But he’s a teenage boy. That’s what they’re supposed to be! I was the same when I was his age. Heck, I’d be worried if he wasn’t an idiot. You’ve just got to give him plenty of space and time. You’ll see. He’ll come around soon
enough. Besides, worrying won’t change things. And that thing with Paelen and Lorin? It’s hard, but you have to give them time too. This is all new to Paelen. He’s feeling things he’s never felt before. I bet you five bucks things get back to normal sooner than you think.”
Speaking to her father made all the difference to Emily. She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “Thanks, Dad. . . .” They laughed and talked until the sun completely set and stars came out. Eventually, Emily and Pegasus took her father back to Hercules’s home. After dropping him off, Emily climbed onto the stallion’s back and they took off into the night sky.
“Pegs, I know it’s getting late, but I don’t feel like going back yet. Can we go flying for a bit? Would you take me somewhere we’ve never been before?” Pegasus nickered loudly and put on more speed.
Beneath them the night dwellers came out and worked silently in the streets, clearing rubble and helping with the rebuilding of Olympus. With day and night shifts working full out, destroyed buildings were being rebuilt in record time. Emily
noticed that a lot of the new buildings were different from the ones that had stood before, and she realized that the Titan invasion had changed more than just her: Olympus itself was different. If it could rise from the rubble, surely she could too.
Pegasus took her higher into the clear night sky. The air was warm and sweet, as always, and the stars and constellations that had seemed so alien to her at first now greeted her like old friends.
“Faster, Pegs,” Emily cried excitedly, catching hold of his mane and leaning forward.
Pegasus obliged and flapped his wings harder. He climbed higher in the sky than he normally did and flew over parts of Olympus that Emily hadn’t yet fully explored.
They traveled to the neighboring city of Helicon, where the Muses lived, and to Mount Helicon, on the large mountain beside it, where Pegasus had spent a lot of his childhood.
Helicon looked much like the part of Olympus where Jupiter’s palace had been, with its cobbled roads and stunning buildings. As always, art and sculpture played a big part in its architecture. Just
like the palace area, many of its marble statues now lay in rubble on the street. It was obvious that it too had borne the wrath of the Titan invasion. But also like the main city, it was rising from the ashes.
Farther along toward Mount Helicon, Emily saw a flash of light in the darkness of the mountain. “Did you see that, Pegs?”
Pegasus whinnied and changed directions. Gliding closer, they soon saw a single figure standing on a platform at the very top of Mount Helicon. Emily squinted. Old Emily would never have been able to see any details, especially in the dark. But Emily Version II was able to make out the shape of a woman.
Before Pegasus landed, Emily recognized the woman as one of the Muses, Urania. She was standing before a large telescope and studying the stars. The flash had been from a shooting star reflecting off the glass of the telescope. Urania was best known for her love of astronomy, and she spent most nights up here, cataloging the night sky. Tall and lean, she had long brown hair, which she styled on the top of her head, deep olive skin, and entrancing hazel eyes.
She was dressed in a traditional Olympian gown, but it had dirt smudges all over it. If ever there was a tomboy Muse, it was Urania.
When Pegasus landed, Emily slid off his back. Urania turned and frowned. “Pegasus, what brings you up here so late? And who is that with you?”
“It’s me, Urania,” Emily said.
“Me, Emily.” She held up her hand and summoned a ball of flame. “Flame of Olympus . . .”
The Muse’s eyes flashed opened. “Oh, Emily, I am so very, very sorry. I did not recognize you.”
“I know,” Emily said. “No one does these days.”
Urania stepped away from her telescope and came closer. “I heard that you had changed. But my word, child, you are the spitting image of Diana when she was young.”
Pegasus nickered and whinnied. Urania looked from Emily to Pegasus and back to Emily again, and her expression changed—became sympathetic. “I am sorry it has been difficult for you. I am certain in time people will see you for you.”
“I hope so.” Emily walked over to the large
golden telescope. “So are you looking at anything interesting?”
“Actually, I have been watching Titus for Father. He wants to make sure that Saturn does not try to cause more trouble.”
Jupiter was the father of the Muses and had a very active part in their lives. “Can you actually see Titus from here?”
Urania nodded. “But this telescope is not my only means of watching. Come, I would like to show you something.”
Emily and Pegasus followed the Muse away from her telescope and across the peak of the mountain. They descended some marble steps on the opposite side. When they reached a plateau, Urania walked over to a large stone bowl. It was sitting on the ground, but the top reached their waists.
“Pegasus made this for me a very long time ago. It is filled with water from his spring.”
The winged stallion had his own special powers to draw water from the ground. He’d created four springs on Mount Helicon that had healing properties and never dried up. Emily had also witnessed him
using his powers at Area 51 to restore Groom Lake and then in the Diamond Head crater in Hawaii.
They walked up to the stone bowl, and Emily peered into the clear spring water. It reflected the stars above but nothing more. “I don’t understand.”
Urania smiled and waved her hand across the top of the bowl. “Show me Saturn.”
The water started to swirl and fill with white fog. Soon images began to move within its depths and the fog cleared.
Emily jumped when she saw the cold, hard face of Saturn staring right at her. The sight of him struck terror in her heart and made her shiver. She could still hear his menacing voice and see the rage in his dark, stormy eyes. He had tried to imprison her in Tartarus, and when that had failed, he’d tried to kill her.
Pegasus nickered and nudged her gently while Urania chuckled softly. “Do not fear, child. He cannot see you. But we can see him.” Then she called to the water, “Pull back. Where is he?”
The image changed and seemed to draw away from Saturn’s face. He was seated alone on an ornate
throne, staring blankly at nothing. The room around him was tall and opulent and adorned with statues—some of them Emily recognized from the prison Tartarus. These were of Saturn, his four brothers, and his top commanders. But apart from the statues, he was alone.
“He actually looks really lonely,” Emily said softly.
“I am sure he is,” Urania said. “Saturn is a warrior leader to a people who are tired of war. He remains the head of the Titans, but everyone there now focuses on agriculture and the arts. They are rebuilding their lives and society. I have seen nothing to suggest that they are planning another assault on Olympus.”
“So we’re safe?”
“I believe so.” Urania pulled her arm back over the water, and the image of Saturn faded. “Perhaps you would like to try it.”
“Really? May I?”
The Muse nodded. “You just wave your arm over the water and say what you wish to see. When you are finished, you bring your arm back to close the image.”
Emily looked excitedly to Pegasus. “Finally I can
show you who I’ve been talking about all this time.” She paused and looked at Urania. “Does this show current time, or the past?”
“It will not reveal the past or the future. Only what is happening at this moment.”
Emily waved her arm over the water and said, “Show me Agent B—also known as Benedict Richard Williams, from London, England, Earth.”
Once again the water swirled and fogged. Emily’s heart fluttered with excitement when she first saw the flash of familiar, dark curly hair. This was much better than television. But as the image cleared, she gasped.
Agent B was tied to a chair by leather straps. His hair was longer than she remembered, and he had grown an unkempt beard. One of his eyes was bruised and swollen shut, and he had scratches on his face. He looked as though he’d suffered a severe beating. “Pull back!” Emily commanded. “Show me where he is.”
The image obeyed and pulled farther back to reveal Agent B locked in a small dark cell with thick bars on the front. Other men were outside the cell, seated at a desk at the end of the cell block.
“Focus on those men outside the cell.”
At Emily’s command, the image moved away from Agent B and shifted to the men holding him. Their distinctive black suits and grim expressions left no room for doubt. Finally she said, “Take me farther outside the building. Where are they?”
The image shifted again and seemed to be moving in reverse as it backed out of the cell block, down long, brightly lit corridors, and up through an elevator shaft. Up and up it climbed, until it seemed to float through an old stone wall and into a dark and dusty brick corridor with narrow walls and a low ceiling. Then it came to a set of rough wooden steps, and at the top, went through another old-looking door. It moved along a short corridor with two doors along one wall, marked as men’s and women’s restrooms. Past the bathrooms to yet another set of steps that opened at the top into a vast concourse filled with people. Large moving information signs hung above a long line of payment barriers. Beyond them were trains loading and unloading travelers. It reminded Emily of a smaller version of Grand Central Terminal in New York.
But none of it made any sense. What was Agent B doing beneath a train station?
From the concourse, the image backed out onto the street. “Stop!” Emily called. She read the sign above the entrance: CHARING CROSS STATION. With the image paused, Emily looked around the driveway entrance to the station and saw black cabs and two bright red double-decker buses.
Emily looked back up at Pegasus. “How is this possible?”
“What is it, child?” Urania said. “I do not understand. Who is this man who suffers so?”
“You won’t know him, but that’s Agent B. He helped save Olympus when we traveled back in time to the very first war with the Titans. He sacrificed his life for all of us. Then the time line changed and peace was restored with no one remembering what happened. What he did made it all possible. But now, somehow, he is no longer an agent of the CRU. He’s their prisoner!”
“Are you certain?” Urania said.
“Yes,” Emily cried. “But how?” She was pacing the area, trying to figure out how things could have
gone so wrong for her friend. “When I destroyed the weapon, the time line changed and Agent B was restored to his life at the CRU. There is no way he could have told anyone what happened because in the new time line, when the gold box was opened in Greece, the weapon wasn’t inside it. So the disaster never happened. No one from Earth could know about that. Only a few of the original Olympians, Titans, and me, remember. But all the Titans are on Titus.”
“You are speaking in riddles,” Urania said. “What do you mean by time lines, weapon, and disaster?”
Emily shook her head. “It’s very complicated and might be hard to understand. But the history you know is very different from what originally happened because we went back in time and changed the past. Trust me. Agent B saved Olympus when Saturn created a weapon that killed Olympians. Without him, none of you would be alive. But until he traveled back in time with us, he was a ‘by the book’ agent. He was cold, mean, and efficient. When the weapon was destroyed in the past and the time line reset, he would have gone back to being that same coldly
efficient agent. I can’t imagine what crime he could have committed to end up like that.”
She looked imploringly at Urania. “You’re sure what we’re seeing is happening is right now? Not in the past?”
“I am. The pool only shows present time.”
Dread settled in the pit of Emily’s stomach. “May I use it again?”
“Of course, child. Feel free.”
Emily’s hands were trembling as she waved her hand over the water. “Show me Stella Giannakou.”
The waters obeyed, and Emily was just as sickened to see Stella, not in her home in Athens, Greece, but instead, locked in a small cell, not unlike Agent B’s. There was no wheelchair for her, so the disabled Greek girl was unable to move around her cell. “Show me the guards outside her cell.” The image shifted and revealed two men in suits sitting at the desk at the end of the corridor. They were not the same men from Agent B’s cell block.
Her voice was little more than a whisper. “Now show me Earl Jenkins and Little Frankie.”
The image shifted and showed Earl also sitting in
a darkened cell. Like Agent B, his hair was long and he looked haggard, as though he’d been there some time. Then the image moved to the cell next door. A boy in his teens with a head full of bright red hair sat on the narrow bunk. Frankie wasn’t so little anymore. But there was no mistaking that it was him.
Pegasus whinnied, and Emily gasped.
“They’ve all been captured by the CRU.” She looked desperately to Pegasus. “How? How did they know about Stella or Agent B? I can understand about Earl and Frankie, but not them. They were from the other time line.”
Pegasus nickered, and Urania nodded. “Pegasus also wants to know why they are being held. That young girl could not know anything useful to the CRU. Why are they holding her?”
Emily focused on the water again. “Take us back out of the building.”
The image seemed to repeat the same process as it backed out of the cells, down the corridors, up the elevator shaft, through the public concourse, and out onto the street. “Back up farther, above the city. Where is this?”
The water obeyed, and the image seemed to show them lifting off the ground. They rose above Charing Cross Station and higher into the sky.
“Stop there,” Emily called again. The skyline was completely unfamiliar to her. There was a winding river that seemed to split the city in two. Along the edge of the river, not far from Charing Cross, her eyes landed on a familiar building. She had seen it on television and in pictures many times before. “Move slowly toward the river,” she said to the water. “I think that’s the tower of Big Ben. Take us there.” The image shifted and appeared to fly over the buildings. It stopped and hovered above a large, distinctive clock tower rising over a long, ancient building that looked almost gothic with all its pointed spires. “They’re in England,” Emily mused aloud. “Somehow, Earl, Frankie, and Stella have been taken to London, England.”