A split second later and I was waking up again. Stretching and looking around I felt different aches and pains for the first time in... Shit, it was probably years wasn't it? Gods it felt nice to wake up with entirely different knots and bruises, scars and sore for what was my first new day in effectively decades of fighting.
Hey, my fatal flaw is loyalty, okay?
The problem started when I noticed which aches and pains it was that I was feeling. Why it was they felt so familiar too. It was the day that I had decided to kill myself all those years ago.
Why did Chaos dump me back here? Had she abandoned me? Had it even happened at all? Was it all a dream? Pocket universe for my mind maybe? Something more sinister? After being the punching bag for the gods – and after learning second hand through Annabeth, who absolutely adored learning all she could get her hands on – I know that there's some pretty weird shit that's possible in the universe.
These thoughts and more crossed my mind all at once as my old companion of heart wrenching sadness settled on my shoulders again. It wasn't until the end of my day, attempting to end it as I tried to all those years ago that I realized that it wasn't all in my head in one way or another.
Unfortunately I learned it after I swan dived off of Olympus and made a Percy pizza on the ground, experiencing the excruciating pain just long enough to jolt me out of sleep again to relive that same day. Everything I had been through was real. Chaos was still keeping my life in motion for her own purposes and I was given a chance to do... Something.
What had happened? I scrunched up my eyes and tried to think.
Chaos had said that she was going to answer my question, so what was I about to ask?
My eyes popped open with a sudden realization. The question that had plagued me after I was a few months into my campaign to save Annabeth from certain death, all the way through till my final acceptance. Who could have possibly orchestrated such a perfect attack?
Some obvious answers flew through my mind and I was moving without thinking to exact vengeance, but a voice that sounded distinctly like Annabeth scolded me for jumping to conclusions.
"So, since I have all the time in the world," I started out loud "let's try to puzzle this out."
I began to pace my new/old tiny studio apartment. Even as an adult, adhd still helped distract the hell out of me, and physical distractions that I could control helped clear my head.
"First things first, I need to make a list of all the people that might have a grudge against me for whatever reason."
"And beings, and creatures and whatnot." I added as an after thought.
"That's easy enough I suppose. I've not exactly been a stellar example of Mr. Congeniality. My problem then becomes this. Who could have had the resources to mount such an attack against me? That narrows the list down considerably."
I frowned. My list was shortened down to a very select few when I took that into consideration.
"So," I continued, "if my list is limited by grudges and resources... It would also have to be limited by time, wouldn't it?"
"On earth, absolutely. Unless whoever did this wasn't on earth at the time of planning." My frown deepened even more at this to become more of a grimace, if I'm being perfectly honest.
"Tarturus doesn't make sense because time passes faster there, space only has so much slower time there as compared to here and it would take a pocket dimension for anywhere else than that, and that would take a bloody primordial to achieve so that's out of the question. So it has to have been someone who's had a grudge against me for a long time."
"Could be Kronos, I suppose if we're talking about time distortions, but that shouldn't really be a possibility due to him being so scattered throughout earth, tarturus and the rest of the universe that it will take billions of years for him to regain so much as a conscious thought, never mind the ability to manipulate time."
"So, someone who's had a grudge against me for a long time and has the resources to free enormous amounts of monsters from tarturus at the same time. Not only that, but they have to be able to convince said monsters that I'm not only a worthy target, but that I'm worth the risk of being sent back, so soon after being freed."
At this point, my pace was such that I was going to wear through my cheap laminate floor down to the neighbours apartment before I made a breakthrough. Taking a sixty second or so break to grab my things I made my way down to the sidewalk to keep thinking my way through this scheme.
"My enemy is someone who has a grudge against me," I ticked off my fingers "someone who's powerful, influential and has been planning this for a long, long time. Not to mention persuasive like I already said."
Miracles don't happen. Not in my extended experience. Chance, chaos, magic, influence, even a particular universe being fated to act in a certain way happen, but not miracles. Yet it's been so many years, learning about Chaos and what it is that it wants, or seems to want at least, and I've still not been able to explain this next bit, not with all of my countless years, as anything less than miraculous.
"Sorry, don't mean to intrude," came a very unfamiliar voice. A British lady, just walking past me on the street who happened to overhear some of what I was saying and for whatever reason decided that I was in a bit of trouble and needed help. Someone who was willing to listen and believe just about anything that I had to say for the duration of a conversation, because I happened to look lost, confused and in need of not only an ally, but a friend for a short while. Never again have I found her, not in a single run down bar across the multiverse, or a single NYC street anywhere, but I will always remember her for this one comment. Something so small, but so utterly caring and helpful.
"I was about to pass you when I happened to over hear some of your thinking out loud. Have you pissed off a CEO of a company or something?" I barely glanced at her. Average height, pretty in a cute round faced sort of way, brunette, in a black wool long coat.
"No, I don't really run in those circles" I scoffed, turning away from her before stopping dead in my tracks.
"No, but I've been a threat to a powerful person for a very long time now. I've got to go!" I exclaimed, turning and running back to my apartment.
"Thank you!" I shouted into the crowded New York City streets, in all probability lost in the hustle and bustle of the big apple.
It was Zeus. Of course it was. How could it not be. Powerful, influential, silver-tongued enough to seduce women across the ages so was it that much of a stretch to consider him being more so than he let on? Always paranoid about those who were not under his power, always trying to tie mortals to divinity to bind them to the Ancient Laws when they started becoming too powerful. Hell, he could have used this, or similar, plans since his very ascension to the throne! Never mind tailor made for me, this could have just been a cookie cutter plan, so to speak.
Only if it was, he probably would have wanted me to be there as well... But I wasn't because of my father! Poseidon either intentionally, (or perhaps subconsciously as regular people do with normal minds, never mind a godly mind), had me come help him and thus saved me from the attack! Could have been coincidence, but to this day I like to think that dear old dad was looking out for me on some level in universe zero as I call it.
Needless to say, I marched right up to Olympus, barged into the throne room and accused Zeus in front of whichever gods were there. Aphrodite was for sure as she squeaked with surprise, but I don't remember the rest because I was then vaporized on the spot for my efforts, and the potential insult if I was wrong I suppose. I hadn't even gotten partway through my accusation before I was killed. Ah, the ignorance of youth.
Being vaporized was more painless than hitting concrete at terminal velocity at least, even if it did hurt like a son of a bitch for the time that I did feel it. Was quick though, I'll give it that.
Next time I accused him, I did it during the Winter Solstice council meeting. Got vaporized then too, in spite of my dramatic entrance and everything. I had even arranged for all of the lesser gods and spirits, etc, to be watching it all on Hephaestus TV. Again, quicker than blinking but it still hurt like the devil for while it lasted.
For the next several years I tried catching him off guard and accusing him, in public and private, with differing audiences to the drama before I decided on a different tactic. Finally I took a page from my better half's book, and started to make a plan. Think it all out, cover all the angles, suss out his weaknesses, learn all I could about him and only after knowing him better than he did himself, take him down. It took several lifetimes to achieve this. Growing old and dying multiple times, killing myself after a certain point after the first couple times because having your body fail you before dying is a miserable experience.
My patience paid off though. It resulted in monumental discoveries. Discoveries about how he had managed to stay on top of the heap for so long. About his powers, where they came from, if and how they increased or decreased. About immortality in general, and about the nature of divinity. Knowledge that would burn an ordinary mind. Not mine though, for I was "blessed" by Chaos, and given strength far greater than the physical. My memory was but a symptom of a far greater blessing of my mind, which all in all allowed me to traverse the multiverse without going insane. Learn I did, until I had such knowledge and more, knowledge that would allow me to shake the very roots of human civilization.
A/N: I haven't forgotten about this story, but my muse has been spouting off about very different things up until recently. That and I didn't like where I'd previously planned for this story to go so I had to scrap it all and start from scratch. Still, excuses don't really help anyone.
Either way, I do live off of the few reviews and loyal readers I've somehow managed to accrue, and do deeply appreciate. I already have an idea of where I want this to go next chapter, and I think it's safe to say that it will be out far sooner than this one took.