disclaimer: same as last time
Hello, I'm back. Was working on my (not as short as I originally planned) Fire Emblem project, and even when I got back to this story, life and other distractions (namely playing various Pokemon games) got in the way. Also, the fight scene was harder than I thought it would be.
Although I haven't actually played it, there are references to the game "Hades" in this chapter.
Raise a Little Hell
1 week ago
Under a blazing sun, two military jeeps were driving through the Moroccan countryside. They stopped in a deserted stretch of land near a rock formation where a helicopter was stationed and several women in military gear were waiting for them. A group of soldiers stepped out of the jeeps, along with an officer with a red beret. "Where is the doctor?" the officer asked.
An Asian woman with a jagged scar below her right eye stepped forward. "My partner doesn't do anything face to face," she said, pointing at a drone flying above them. "Rest assured, she has eyes on us. Now, do you have the item?"
The officer crossed his arms as he looked back at her. "I want my money."
"And I need to make sure you've brought the genuine article," she insisted.
The officer stood still for a moment, before he motioned to his people. Several soldiers grabbed a large crate from the back of one of the jeeps and carried it over. They pried the top off to reveal a human shaped skull, but many times larger. The drone flew down and produced a purple light as it scanned the skull inside. "It's good," a feminine computerized voice was heard from the drone. "Pay the man."
"You heard her, ladies," the woman said, her tone as serious as her face.
Moments later the sound of screaming and gunfire was heard, and then… silence.
The room was large, with black walls, but well lit and well furnished, albeit somewhat messy. A young man with dark hair was sitting on a couch playing a video game on a big TV when someone knocked on the door. "Come in," he called out, focussing on his game.
A pretty vampiric woman walked in, holding a pot with an assortment of flowers. "Pardon me, your mother asked me to bring you these to brighten up your room."
"Nice," he commented, sparing a glance out of the corner of his eye. "Can you put them over there?"
The woman walked over to where he pointed and set the pot down on a dresser. She went to walk out again and paused in her steps when she noticed what game he was playing. "Really, you're playing THAT game again?"
"What? It's fun," he defended himself, pausing the game to talk back.
"It's completely inaccurate. I don't look anything like that," she insisted.
"Relax. Don't take it so personally. Besides, it's kind of ironic, don't you think? And if it makes you feel any better, you've probably killed me almost as many times in the game as I've killed you."
"Is that so?" A satisfied smirk crept up on the woman's face at this. "Well… maybe it's not all ba-"
An alarm suddenly started blaring, soon followed by the sounds of people rushing down the hallway. "Shit!" he exclaimed, jumping off the couch and grabbing a black sword as he and the woman ran out of his room. "Whatever this is, it can't be good."
Hector hummed to himself as he walked home from work. Having some free time on his hands, he was planning to continue working on the dress he meant to give Zatanna for Christmas, since several delays, along with how meticulous he was being (not wanting even a single thread out of place) meant that he hadn't made as much progress as he would've liked. However, when he walked in, he found a dark haired man with bi-colored eyes sitting at the table. Though not familiar with his unexpected guest, the gold laurel crown, skull head pouch, faint smell of sulphur, and pitch black sword gave him an idea of who he was dealing with.
"Greetings, warrior. I am Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld, etc, etc, you get the idea. Nice to meet you," the man greeted him in a hurry. "Now that introductions are out of the way, I got a job for you."
Hector sighed at this, suddenly feeling like his plans just went out the window. "Of course. What do you want?"
"Long story short, we've got massive riots across the Underworld right now," Zagreus said. "Unfortunately, in the chaos one of the prisoners somehow managed to escape. Dad's busy trying to get the situation under control, so he needs you to take care of our little problem. Of course, you'll be compensated for your services." Zagreus reached into his pouch and pulled out three glass vials. One was filled with liquid fire, the second was cloudy white, and the third was a polluted mess of black, blue and green. "Phlegethon, Lethe, Styx," he explained, setting them on the table one by one.
Hector grabbed a chair, sat down and looked at the vials for a few seconds. "Fuck."
Zagreus blinked in surprise. "Excuse me? You do realize how valuable this stuff is, right?"
"That's the thing…" Hector looked at Zagreus straight in the eyes. "Who the hell does your father want dead so bad that he's willing to pay me this much to send them back to him?"
"Oh, I see what you mean. It's Antaeus."
"You mean the giant that Hercules…"
"Yep." Neither one made a sound for several seconds, until Zagreus spoke up again. "Alright, I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I'll sweeten the deal." He reached into his pocket, pulled out a black coin and, demonstrating for Hector, turned it into a bracer, from which he made a black blade spring forth. Retracting the blade, he turned the bracer back into a coin and placed it on the table next to the vials. "Discreet, works as a sidearm if you're in a pinch, and naturally the blade is made of stygian iron. I had the idea for it after playing Assassin's Creed. So, if you just take the job now, I'll give it all to you as an advance."
Hector had a serious look on his face as he considered Zagreus' words. Although he wasn't thrilled about just dropping his plans to go hunt down a monster, let alone one as dangerous as Antaeus, he couldn't deny that the offer was attractive. "Fine. I'll do it."
"Great." Zagreus stood up and clapped him on the back. "Gotta go, but best of luck."
Once Zagreus vanished, Hector picked up the coin and vials, then went to grab a rainbow drawing Cassandra had done before, and set himself up in his workshop. After a quick prayer to the goddess Iris, he was in contact with his friend Eugene. "Hector, my man. What's up?"
"Heroes, gods and monsters," Hector replied. "In other words, business as usual."
"So what can Agent Parthenon do for you today? If you're calling about the Jason Todd thing, I still need more time. There's… something there, but I haven't figured out what exactly."
"No, this is a little more pressing…"
Lauren, Vladimir and Scarlett had come to Star City for a few days for an early Christmas with Lauren's mother. While Vladimir was out on an errand, Lauren was on the couch watching Scarlett play with her new puppy, a French bulldog with a fluffy black coat. Overjoyed by her grandmother's gift, the young girl had decided to name him Fluffy. "Something wrong?" Lauren turned her head to look at her mother (a woman who'd aged well, and had a full head of blond hair) working in the kitchen.
"What do you mean?"
"You look like you've got something on your mind," her mother remarked. "You want to talk about it?"
Lauren sat there in silence as she considered it, then decided to get up and join her mother. "You're probably going to think I'm crazy for telling you this."
"Lauren… please, tell me what's bothering you."
Lauren peeked into the living room, seeing that Scarlett was still happily playing with Fluffy and not paying attention to them. "There's this case I was working recently. I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say the perp did horrible things, and when we found him he was already dead. The weird part is, when when we were checking the body, I had… I don't know, a vision. I saw him strapped to a table in a dark room, and there were these demons, all wearing the same face, and whoever they were disguised as, it terrified him."
The two women were quiet for several seconds, until Lauren's mother placed a hand on her shoulder. "I don't think you're crazy. Maybe you imagined it, maybe he is being tormented in hell, maybe there was magic that made you see things. I don't know. Like my grandfather used to say: 'The world's a strange place. If you can't make sense of it, then leave the crazy shit for the hippies, stick to your own world and don't let those weirdos in.'"
Lauren had a stunned look on her face at this. "Umm… what?"
Lauren's mother shrugged her shoulders. "Gramps may have been a little nuts. Always good for a laugh though." Vladimir walked in the door at that moment, holding a can of cranberry sauce. "Aha, dinner is saved." As Scarlett held Fluffy up for Vladimir to see, which resulted in the pup licking his face, Lauren simply smiled and decided set her worries aside.
After talking to Agent Parthenon, Hector had gone to investigate a lead at a now ruined warehouse belonging to Empire Industries. Disguised as a journalist, he'd asked around and managed to put together a story about a giant who'd appeared out of nowhere, reduced the building to rubble and suddenly left. From there he'd gotten away and found a secluded corner in an alleyway to call Agent Parthenon.
"Something feels strange about all this," Athena's son remarked once Hector finished explaining the situation. "I thought Antaeus was all about glory, combat, and building a temple to Poseidon out of his opponents' skulls. But from the sounds of it he just popped up, wrecked the building and that was it. No challenge, no killing… nothing you'd expect, given his reputation."
"Whatever he's up to, we still need to figure out where he is," Hector pointed out.
"I know. Just let me see what I can do."
While he was waiting, Hector's phone started ringing, alerting him to an incoming call from Cassandra. "I got a call, but I'll just be a minute," he advised his friend. He placed his hand on the image before him, which faded from view, then answered his phone. "Hey Cass, how's the trip?"
"Pretty good," Cassandra answered, sounding happy. "I just thought I'd let you know I'm in Metropolis now. Kara came to pick me up at the station, and we're going to crash at her cousin Clark's place while I'm here."
"That's great. Are you excited for your big day tomorrow?"
"Yeah, for sure. There was a slight change of plans because Clark had a last minute thing that came up, but Lois Lane agreed to take his place and show me around and everything. Should be fun. Oh, gotta go now, Kara and I are going out for pizza. I'll tell you all about it when I get back."
"Alright. Have fun." After hanging up, Hector waved his hand through the image again, bringing it back into focus. As he continued waiting, Hector cleared a spot of snow on the ground and sat down with his back against a wall when a gust of wind blew a sheet of paper that landed at his feet. Grabbing the paper, he saw a painting of an elegant grey horse with a black mane. As he looked at it, he swore he could feel faint tremors in the ground.
"Okay, I… dude, are you alright?" Agent Parthenon spoke up, seeing Hector's expression.
"I just felt something that might be related to Antaeus, or a sign from the gods telling me something about a horse. Not sure."
"Well, whatever it is, you better get off your butt and get to Star Labs fast."
Hector cursed out loud, since Star Labs was halfway across the city. "On it." He quickly dismissed the image and got out of the alleyway, where he spotted a man parking his car. 'Accidentally' bumping into him as they crossed paths, he excused himself, and after the man walked into a nearby shop, Hector got in the car and started it up with the keys he'd just pocketed. Hector did not limit himself to grand theft auto, but also broke the speed limit and violated several traffic laws in his haste to reach his target. Despite this, the distance he had to go meant that by the time he arrived at Star Labs, the building was already in danger of falling apart.
Bringing the car to a screeching halt, Hector's eyes honed in on a giant of a man in the process of tearing down the building. The man had huge muscles, wore only a loincloth and was decorated with a dozen tribal tattoos. Donning his helmet, he jumped out of the stolen car, cut through the security gate with his sword and made a dash for Antaeus. Spartan quickly swapped his sword for his bow and fired an arrow, hitting Antaeus in the leg. Antaeus looked back at him for a second, then smashed through one of the few remaining walls as if nothing had happened. Spartan ran into the ruined building, dodging a piece of falling debris and following the trail of destruction. However, the sounds of Antaeus' rampage suddenly stopped before he caught up with him. Spartan came to a wide open room where all he found was a silver arrow lying on the floor, head caked with dirt. He bent down to pick it up, then ran out before the building collapsed.
The raven haired woman looked out the airplane window at the late night sky as she waited for the rest of the passengers to finish boarding. She turned her head when she heard someone sitting down next to her, seeing a brunette man with a scruffy beard stow his bag under the seat in front. "So what're you going to Hub City for?" she asked, curious.
"Working on a story," he said with an east coast accent. "What about you?"
"Taking some time off to visit my boyfriend," she explained. "He's a tv journalist in Hub City. I'm Helena, by the way."
"James. What do you for a living, Helena?"
"I work as a schoolteacher in Gotham. Kindergarten to grade six."
"Little elementary kids? Sounds rough."
Helena rolled her eyes, catching onto the fact that he was joking. "It has its moments. So, you're a journalist?"
"More of a freelancer to be honest, although it's not even the boss himself but his son who hired me. See, I'm tracking down a crook, and a buddy of mine tipped me off that this guy might be heading to Hub City. I can't tell you much, but I've got a pretty sweet pay day waiting for me if I can nail this thing."
"Huh. Sounds big," she commented.
A flight attendant announced their imminent departure and began going through the pre-flight instructions, telling everyone where the exits were and such. James covered his mouth as he let out a big yawn. "I think I'm just gonna catch a nap. Can you wake me up when we land?"
"Sure. I mean, you're kind of in my way."
James chuckled at this. "Ha, ha. Thanks."
The blond businesswoman was sitting at her desk with a steaming cup of coffee the next day when her secretary buzzed her, explaining that one of her people was there to see her. "Let her in."
A dark haired woman in a black suit with a scar below her eye walked into the office. "There's been a new development in the Antaeus project," she said plainly, placing a file on the desk with several photos. "Spartan, Greek warrior type, not sure if there's a connection to Wonder Woman. He's showed up at Star Labs and Kord Industries, and in both cases he only arrived as Antaeus was finishing up, but it seems safe to assume that he's chasing after him."
"Is the implant holding out?" the blond woman asked.
"So far yes, but when Spartan confronted him at Kord he called out a challenge to Antaeus, trying to provoke him into a fight, and there was some… resistance."
"Keep an eye on it. I don't want him going out of control in case he encounters any opposition. As for Spartan… if he wants to play tag, then let's send Antaeus further out so he doesn't have time to catch up."
After his latest failed attempt to fight Antaeus, Hector was in a hotel room in one of the not as bad parts of Hub City, discussing the situation with Agent Parthenon. "It sounds like Antaeus might be under some kind of mind control," the son of Athena said while typing at his keyboard. "The fact that he backed away from a fight with you twice is suspicious enough. I mean, it can't have been easy pulling him out of the Underworld, and whoever did it must have had a reason. Maybe they put something in his head to make sure he doesn't just run wild."
"Did you get anything off the dirt I sent you?" Hector asked.
"Almost. I'm basically putting together a souped up compass to point us in his direction. Once I finish writing up this program it should give us an easier time finding him. There's still the issue of the mind control though. What're you going to do if Antaeus runs away again?"
"If I get the drop on him I can chop his head off."
"As long as he's touching the ground that won't kill him," Agent Parthenon pointed out, then realized where Hector was going with this. "… but if there is something in his head, decapitating him would get rid of it, and give you a chance to finish him off. Okay. Do you have a plan after that? I mean, obviously he's not going to just let you pick him up."
"Depends on the circumstances, but the general idea is to keep him busy, slow him down, and wait for the right moment."
"I guess that's better than-"
"Wait," Hector interrupted, focussing on the television, which showed an ongoing horse race. He zeroed in on a horse with a grey coat that ran like the wind, leaving the others in his dust. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out the painting of the horse he'd picked up and saw that it was the same one. "Remember what I said about a sign from the gods? I think I just found the horse, and he's at a race track nearby."
"How are you going to make sure it's the right one? I mean, last I checked you can't speak to horses."
"Yeah, but I know someone who might…"
Shortly after lunch, Penelope grabbed a set of gym clothes from her locker and made her way over to the school gym. As part of her continued lessons with Artemis, she'd been assigned a series of exercises, and knowing how serious the Amazon was about such things, the teenage girl had no intention of cutting corners. Just as she walked into the girls' locker room to change, her phone began to ring, showing an unknown number. "Hello?"
"Hello Penelope," a deep voice answered. "It's your Greek friend from New York. The guy who helped you find your aunt. Can you talk?"
Despite not having expected to hear from him, Penelope looked around the room and found that she was in fact alone. "Yeah, I'm good. Umm… how did you get my number?"
"Same way I helped you find your aunt. Look, I'm having trouble talking with someone because of a language barrier, and I'm hoping you can translate for me."
"Sure, I guess. Don't know how useful I'll be." Penelope then pulled her phone away from her ear, seeing that Spartan was requesting a video call. A moment later a grey horse was staring back at her. "You're talking… to a horse?" she said incredulously.
"I'll have you know I'm not just any horse. I'm Arion, the fastest thing to run on four legs since the Ceryneian Hind."
"Did you understand?" Spartan's voice was heard over the line.
"He… says his name is Arion," Penelope answered, trying to wrap her head around the situation. "Umm… Who is he, exactly?"
"Short version: Arion is an immortal super fast horse and the son of Poseidon and Demeter."
"Finally, someone knows who I am. Take that, Pegasus."
Penelope's eyes bugged out. "Wait, what? His father's Poseidon? But that would make him…"
"Your half brother. Look, I had to bribe a guy to leave me alone with him, so please, let's gets this over with before he comes back."
"Noble Arion, my name is Spartan. I am on a mission of great importance on behalf of Lord Hades, but it's proven difficult to accomplish. If you would be so kind as to lend me your aid, I would be very grateful."
Arion whinnied in response.
"He likes your manners, but he won't do it for free," Penelope translated.
Arion whinnied again.
"He says you'll owe him a favour."
Arion whinnied again.
"You need to promise you'll follow through when he calls in the favour."
Arion whinnied once more.
"And he wants a hundred pounds of carrots. Good ones."
"Is there anything else?" Spartan asked, prompting Arion to shake his head. "Then you have my word that I will repay you."
Arion neighed happily at this.
"So… are we all good?" Penelope asked.
"Yes, and thank you," Spartan replied.
"No problem. Good luck with your mission." Penelope ended the call and just stood there for a moment, muttering to herself: "Man, that was weird."
At her grandmother's invitation, Scarlett accompanied her to a company holiday party at Queen Industries, while Lauren and Vladimir enjoyed some time together. While her grandmother was talking with some of her co-workers, one of them remarking about Oliver Queen's tardiness (he was supposed to show up to the party), Scarlett had brought Fluffy with her and was showing him off. "He's so cute," a girl commented as several employees' children/grandchildren hung out together.
"What's his name?"
"I call him Fluffy," Scarlett announced as Fluffy played with them, happy with the attention he was receiving.
"You mean like the three headed dog in Harry Potter?"
"Yeah, exactly! Watch this." Scarlett went to grab a little sausage from the buffet table. "Fluffy, sit." The pup stared at the sausage but obediently sat down in front of her. "Lie down." He promptly lay on the floor. "Up." Fluffy jumped up and snatched the sausage when she tossed it at him. "Good boy!"
"Cool! I wish my dog was this smart."
"What else can he do?"
"Maybe we can teach him something else."
Fluffy dropped his half eaten sausage and flattened his ears against his head. "Fluffy, what's wrong?" Scarlett asked as he growled. The children all stared at him with uncertainty.
"What's going on?" Scarlett's grandmother inquired, having noticed they were being oddly quiet.
"I don't know," Scarlett answered. "Fluffy just started acting weird all of a sudden."
"He looks spooked," another girl said. "Like he's seen a gho-"
Fluffy interrupted when he suddenly began barking.
"I didn't do it!" a little boy with spiky hair immediately declared.
"I don't know. My parents usually blame me when something happens around the house."
"Scarlett, maybe we should take Fluffy and go," her grandmother suggested. "Maybe he's not as used to-" she went quiet when she saw the tabletops tremble.
"Is it just me, or does it feel like something's shaking?" one of the other adults wondered out loud.
As if in response, a loud boom was heard and everyone felt the building shake. An automated voice came from the speakers, declaring an emergency and asking everyone to evacuate. Scarlett's grandmother led the children (with Scarlett carrying Fluffy) into the elevator, while the rest of the adults made for the staircase. When they stepped out into the lobby, the floor was cracked, Antaeus was standing between them and the gaping hole where the entrance used to be, and the Green Arrow was trying to stop him from causing further damage. Three arrows exploded against the giant with no effect, and he continued his rampage, ignoring the emerald archer.
"Well, this is just insulting," Green Arrow muttered, then grabbed another arrow from his quiver and fired, hitting him in the back. This one released a red bubbling foam that quickly covered him up to his neck and hardened, leaving him completely immobilized. "Don't worry kids, he's not getting out there anytime…" Antaeus' arms broke through the foam like it was paper, then smashed the rest holding his lower body. "… soon." Antaeus slowly turned around, tension heavy in the air as he stared down the vigilante. "Psst, lady, I'll try to distract him and you get the kids out, okay?" he said to Scarlett's grandmother, who muttered back 'okay', as if talking too loudly would set off the giant.
Time seemed to slow down as Green Arrow reached for his quiver, Antaeus' face twitched and he took a step forward, and Fluffy's ears perked up. Then a flash of grey and black zipped past Antaeus, drawing a line across his neck and causing his head to fall to the ground, followed by the rest of his body. Everyone looked at the other side of the room where the streak had stopped and saw Spartan sitting astride Arion, minus his cape and with sword in hand. Dismounting the immortal steed, he whispered something in his ear and motioned to the group of children, who were startled when Arion suddenly appeared next to them.
Green Arrow was about to say something when he noticed Antaeus' head dissolve into dirt and reform on his body. "… New plan. Kids, get on the magic horse."
"ANTAEUS!" Spartan's voice boomed as Arion dashed in and out of the building, carrying the bystanders away. "I am Spartan! I'm the one who's hunted you, and I will send you back to Hades!"
The giant laughed out loud as he picked himself up. "You have guts, warrior! I will crush you with my bare hands!" Antaeus cracked his knuckles then charged at Spartan who dived out of the way, leaving the ancient juggernaut to crash through the wall behind him and end up outside before he came to a halt.
Spartan raised his sword and shouted: "Gia ti dóxa tou Ádi!" (For the glory of Hades!), then he ran outside.
Green Arrow stood there for a moment, blinked twice, then shrugged and went after them.
As the fight continued outside, Spartan closed in on his enemy, ducking under a haymaker and stabbing him in the foot. Antaeus tried to pound Spartan into the pavement, only to miss when he rolled under his legs and slashed at the back of his knee. Despite this, the giant spun around and swung his arm like a wrecking ball. Spartan leaned back just in time to avoid an oversized fist that passed so close he could feel a breeze, transitioning into a back handspring. Coming up from this movement he pulled out his grappling gun and fired at a building behind Antaeus. As the gun retracted the line, Spartan flew past the giant's head, cutting a gash across his face.
Trying to keep up the pressure, Spartan landed on a window ledge and quickly tossed a flash bang at Antaeus. He then jumped off the ledge and sailed over Antaeus' head, pivoting in mid air and landing behind him, whereupon he stabbed him squarely in the back. Antaeus bellowed in pain, but was still able to turn around and blindly swing at Spartan, forcing him to let go of his sword in his haste to avoid losing his head. He was less fortunate with the follow up, when Antaeus clapped his hands together with such force that it produced a shockwave that knocked him off his feet. Spartan was sent flying backwards, colliding with a parked car hard enough to leave a human sized dent in the door. Dirt rose up through the pavement and onto Antaeus' body, healing his wounds so that no sign remained, safe for the sword stuck in his back. As Spartan pried himself from the car door, he saw Green Arrow fire an arrow at the giant's feet that released a white greasy puddle, causing him to slip and fall on his back. The impact drove Spartan's sword further into Antaeus' back, until it sprouted from his chest.
The emerald archer fired a line and propelled himself over to Spartan's side. "You seem slightly more reasonable than the other guy, and your four legged friend got those kids out of the way, so I'm really hoping you're not a psychotic killer." Spartan grunted in response and cracked his neck. "Right. I don't suppose you…" Green Arrow trailed off as Antaeus got up and reached behind his back for the hilt of Spartan's sword. "Christ, is anything going to keep this guy down?" Unable to effectively grasp the hilt, Antaeus grabbed the blade with both hands and with an earsplitting roar he pulled the sword out through his chest and tossed it aside. More dirt rose from the ground, filling the hole in Antaeus' chest. "If you're going to say something useful, now would be a great time."
"As long as Antaeus touches the ground, he's invincible," Spartan replied.
"HAHAHAHAHA! No one's ever hurt me like this except Heracles," Antaeus said, grinning with excitement. "This is going to be fun!"
"Glad someone's happy," Green Arrow said sarcastically.
"You're welcome to run away," Spartan offered, taking a jab at the Star City archer as he pulled out his own bow.
"Umm, no," he shot back dryly.
The two of them fired several arrows that exploded or stuck into Antaeus. The giant retaliated by slamming his foot down, sending a shockwave through the street towards the vigilantes. They narrowly avoided the brunt of the attack, diving out of the way and rolling over. "I've got an idea," Green Arrow said to Spartan. "Can you keep him busy?"
Spartan gave him a curt nod and Green Arrow ran into an alleyway, drawing a mocking laugh from Antaeus. "Ha! Your friend is a coward, and you're all alone."
Spartan drew another arrow and fired at Antaeus, who raised one of his massive arms to shield his face, then immediately threw down a smoke bomb. Antaeus growled in frustration at Spartan's disappearing act, but was soon stuck in both legs with a flurry of arrows. Turning around to face his enemy, Antaeus grabbed a nearby truck and lifted it up when Spartan fired another arrow, piercing the fuel tank and dowsing his head in gasoline. Spartan dodged the truck and pulled a flare from his belt, which he quickly lit and threw at Antaeus' head. While the giant thrashed about yelling and burning, Spartan kept shooting arrows, targeting the neck, joints and groin. By the time Spartan emptied his quiver, Antaeus' head was no longer on fire. Already dirt was washing over his body and clearing away the charred skin, though he still looked like a veritable pincushion. "Still having fun?" Spartan asked.
Antaeus made a garbled sound, then ripped out the arrows stuck in his groin and throat. "Oh yes. I can't wait to get my hands on you," he replied when his throat healed, lips curled into a vicious grin.
Before either of them could say anything else, two grappling hooks were fired, each catching one of Antaeus' arms. Spartan caught a glimpse of Green Arrow up on a rooftop, while a smaller figure in a red suit and hood stood on the building opposite him. Just as they retracted their lines, Antaeus pulled back against the cables before they went taught. Though anchored on the rooftops, the lines strained against Antaeus' grip, with the giant firmly holding his position. Spartan rushed at Antaeus to help the archers get him off the ground, prompting him to punt an abandoned car down the street. Spartan scrambled over the car as it slid towards him, only to get caught in the chest by a chunk of rubble Antaeus kicked at him like a football. He managed to twist his body so as to lessen the impact, but nonetheless went tumbling down the street, smacking into the pavement before coming to a stop.
Spartan groaned in pain as he rolled over, feeling battered and bruised with broken ribs. Slowly getting to his feet, he looked up and saw that the archers' lines had been ripped out of their anchorage, pulling down bits of rooftop, as well as the archers themselves. Antaeus, who had his back to Spartan, was currently in the process of crushing the red hooded archer in a bear hug. Spartan pushed past his injuries and took off running, quickly closing the gap between them and jumping onto Antaeus' back. Clinging to the giant's face, Spartan jammed his fingers into his eyes and pulled back. Antaeus stumbled backwards a couple steps, then Green Arrow got up and fired an arrow, releasing a bola that wrapped around his legs, causing him to drop his unfortunate victim as he lost his balance.
As the giant fell over, Spartan planted his feet on the ground, shoved his hands into Antaeus' back and with a roar of effort he lifted him over his head. "How… did you… escape?" he grunted through clenched teeth, trembling under the strain.
"Put me down!" Antaeus demanded.
"Who… brought you… to life?"
"I don't know!"
There was a barely perceptible sound like a blade sliding into flesh, before Antaeus froze, then went limp. Dirt began to pour out of him, his body growing lighter and lighter, though Spartan held him up until he'd dissolved into nothing. The arrows previously stuck in his body clattered to the ground, and his skull dropped with a *clunk*.
Free from his burden, Spartan stumbled and caught himself on a nearby lamp post, trying to catch his breath. He looked down at his gauntlet where his newest weapon was installed, admiring how well it was concealed. Looking up from his musing, he saw Green Arrow kneeling over the red archer, a teenage girl no older than Cassandra. Though she was still breathing, it was clear Antaeus had hurt her badly, something Green Arrow was aware of given his distress. Pushing off the post, Spartan walked over to the pair. "Is she strong?" he asked the emerald archer.
Green Arrow looked up at him, confused. "What?"
Spartan calmly reached into his belt and pulled out his vial of Phlegethon water. "A drink of this will make her good as new, but I promise it will hurt. A lot. So tell me… is she strong?"
Green Arrow looked down at the girl who looked back at him and squeezed his hand. "Yeah, she is."
"Good. Hold her." Spartan kneeled next to the girl and removed the cork, pouring a little into her mouth. The second she swallowed she began to scream in agony, her body thrashing as Green Arrow held her down.
A moment later it was all over and she sat up, surprised and shaken but completely healed. Green Arrow checked her over, making sure she was okay, though she assured him that she was fine. He turned to thank Spartan and saw him take a sip from the vial, scream for a few seconds, then put it away and pick up his sword. Arion suddenly appeared and Spartan climbed onto his back and whispered something in his ear. The immortal steed walked over to Antaeus' lifeless skull, then reared up on his hind legs and brought his hooves down, smashing it into countless tiny pieces. "Wait…" Spartan turned his head towards Green Arrow, who motioned to what used to be Antaeus' skull. "I have to ask… this was never going to end any other way, was it?"
"No," Spartan said flatly. "Antaeus escaped from the Underworld. I just sent him back where he belongs."
"Why did you help me?" the young archer inquired, slowly standing up.
"You helped me, I helped you. Now we're even." Spartan turned Arion around, then paused, looked back at Green Arrow over his shoulder and chuckled. "Arrow… the next time you see Wonder Woman… tell her I said hi."
"Wha-" Suddenly Spartan and Arion were gone, leaving the two archers standing there in silence. "What the hell was that about?"
His partner grunted noncommittally at this. "What I wanna know is how he picked up all his arrows so fast."
Green Arrow looked at where Antaeus had fallen and realized that Spartan's arrows were all gone. "Magic."
A dark hooded figure stood on top of a cliff somewhere along the coast. They looked out at the sea, arms open wide, feeling the breeze on their face and breathing in the fresh air. "I'm back."
So, sorry for the (very) long wait, I hope you liked it, and please let me know what you thought.
Btw, I haven't officially established this or anything, but the first arc basically goes up until chapter 19 (mainly developing Hector and Zatanna's relationship), so as of chapter 20, we are in the second arc.