Gordium, 48,000 light-years from Earth

Athena appears above the planet’s atmosphere, slightly disoriented. This is far from being the first time she’s used a portal to travel through space, but she’s more accustomed to traditional ships. Still, even her Aegis warship wasn’t fast enough to reach this side of the galaxy this quickly. And the Athenian Senate wouldn’t have approved a military action in the Enyo sector based solely on the word of Null. This has to be carried out off the books.

Well, I was right once again, what a surprise. You actually showed up – someone says on a radio frequency that Athena immediately picks up, recognizing the voice.

-Why aren’t you contacting me through the pendant I gave you, Noriko?

Because I am not Null. Here, let me give you my card – the voice says, right before something hits Athena. Something with the mass of a tank traveling at a tenth of the speed of light: a Talos robot.

The goddess is taken completely by surprise, especially when a second and a third robot gang up on her and accelerate. The group hits the ground at an amazing speed: Athena is able to slow them down, but their impact is still enough to blast away a cliff.

The Talos are completely unharmed, being made of pure neutral matter, and they don’t waste any time attaching. But Athena is far from defenseless: she raises her shield, made of the same divine material, and protects herself from damage. She’s already formulating a thousand strategies when the Talos cease their attack, making room for the girl who just teleported on the scene.

-Sorry about that. I had to make sure it was really you – she says. Athena isn’t fooled into thinking this is Null, although they do look the same, except from the red leather jacket and the long hair.

-I don’t say this often, child, so please savor this moment: I have no idea of what is happening.

-Really? Then maybe you’re not as wise as you claim to be.

-And you have quite an ego, for a clone. Which lesser Null are you? Void or Abyss?

-Neither and both. They were just alternate personalities: I’m a full person, born adult from my parent’s mind… just like you, Athena. You may call me Viper.

-Is this the part where I’m supposed to be intimidated? – the goddess asks calmly, adjust her blond hair. Paying no attention to the three Talos robots, each one designed to take over an entire planet; they’re about as threatening to her as the rain pouring on them.

-I’m not stupid enough to pick up a fight with a war goddess. Let’s see if I’m smarter than you – Viper says, pointing at the sky.

Something descends from the clouds. Appropriately enough, her arrival is signaled by a lightning bolt, which illuminates her dark figure against the dark sky.

Athena – Enyo says. The Talos open fire on her: she swats away their plasma beams like insects. The robots fly towards her; while they fight, Athena shouts at Viper:

-Are you mad!? Enyo isn’t your ally, she’s a madwoman who destroys everything in her path!

-I know. Which is why she was so useful to get the portal away from Kythera, to get rid of Artemis and soon enough to get rid of you – she threatens, her voice almost drowned by Enyo’s scream.

The outer shell of the Talos robots survive the tremendous power unleashed by her vocal cords, but she pulverizes enough internal circuitry to leave them as lifeless husks.

-You underestimate the power of two daughters of Zeus, Viper. This planet won’t survive us.

-Good thing I stole a Hephaestus teleporter then. Have fun fighting war!

Viper disappears into a bright green light, leaving Athena behind. Enyo descends slowly towards her, her black cape blowing in the wind.

-Enyo, please be reasonable for once in your eternal life. I don’t know what petty grudge you had against Artemis, but your rampage has got to stop. Why don’t we-

Invader!!! – Enyo shouts, her voice unleashing her power. The cliff behind Athena is obliterated: millions of tons of rocks are pulverized instantly by the unstoppable force.

Athena fixes her blond hair and keeps her composure while Enyo recharges.

-Last chance, Enyo. Let my protégé alone or I will have to get… rough – Athena threatens; her grey eyes shine as the power behind them issue a challenge.

No – Enyo anwers, flying towards Athena. There’s enough force behind her fist to break a mountain in half, but Athena dodges. Enyo follows with a kick to the head: the sheer wind it creates raises a tsunami, but her target is already behind her.

-Your strength is impressive, but meaningless without control. You should learn to-

Fight!!! – Enyo replies, headbutting Athena. It’s enough to send the goddess of wisdom back a dozen feet. She actually felt the impact, and when she touches her nose to check out the damage, she finds out that Enyo managed to make lose a single drop of blood.

-Of course you understand this means war – Athena says. She smiles, and her eyes turn red.

 

Warship Ragnarok, 45.000 light-years from Earth

It’s only been a couple of days since the ship left Labya. Kari and Quantum have had to find way to pass the time: Noriko is busy building something, Todd is trying to spend time with her despite that, Vesta is often meditating, and Torn is his usual cheerful self.

Specifically, they’re training: Quantum is practicing throwing punches at a Kari duplicate, only every time he tries to do anything there’s another duplicate criticizing him.

-That was the worst jab I’ve ever seen. Watch me and try it again – she says, creating another duplicate to show the correct form… and he can’t even see the difference from how he’s done it.

-How is this going to show me how to fight? I’m just repeating the same stuff over and over!

-It’s how Myridian training works: “repetition until perfection”. You get your ass kicked a couple thousand times before breakfast and you’ll either learn to defend yourself or give up.

-Well I don’t have your duplication powers, so for me this is just a waste of time. How is throwing a punch going to help me fight Enyo? She destroys mountains by screaming!!!

-You can’t fight gods or their followers by strength alone. You must turn their power against them.

-Now you’re starting to sound like Torn.

-Max, c’mon, this is serious!!!

-What’s gotten into you? I know I’m the one who suggested training, but you seem way too into it.

-Remember why we’re looking for the Dragon Tomb? The freedom of the Galaxy is at stake!

-Yes, and?

-You may take Earth’s liberty for granted, Max, but I don’t. I know what happens when your planet is under divine rule, and I won’t let anyone else go through it if I can help it. Kythera and Arcadia have fallen because we couldn’t stop Enyo. You will kick her as, or I will kick yours.

Quantum is so used to the happy-go-lucky side of Kari’s personality that how hard it must’ve been for her to survive on Myridia.

-Okay. I know it may seem like I don’t take our mission seriously, but I do. So, this thing about using your opponent’s power against him… sounds really cool. How do I learn that?

 

Gordium, 48,000 light-years from Earth

This planet has been at war as far back as its inhabitants can remember. It’s by design: declaring war on your neighbor is a vital part of worshipping Enyo, and the people of Gordium are nothing if not faithful. The screeching sound of something falling from the air is typically followed by the explosion of a bomb, which is at least a weekly activity for any major city.

So the demolition of a building isn’t a surprise, but seeing Enyo walk outside of the cloud of debris cleaning the dust from her black cape is something new.

Athena lands in front of her, with her feet leaving imprints on the ground after falling several miles.

-I have plans for this galaxy, Enyo. I won’t let your childish behavior jeopardize them. We’ve been through this before: you know we’re basically equal in strength, right?

Wrong!!! – Enyo replies angrily, flying towards Athena. The latter rolls her eyes.

Athena sidesteps, hits Enyo with a one inch punch to the chest, then with a single swift motion that would be impossible to a fighter that can’t fly she kicks her in the head faster than the speed of sound. Enyo smashes against a building, which collapses on top of her crushing dozens of people.

-You’re strong but undisciplined, Enyo. I have mastered over 7500 forms of martial arts, one fifth of which I invented myself. We are both called “goddess of war”, but you are just the goddess of senseless battle: I am the goddess of-

ENOUGH!!! – Enyo shouts. Her voice hits the city like a nuclear bomb, annihilating everything in its path: it’s just air pressure, but enough to crush every single man-made structure in its path. Athena levitates into the sky, above the tornado of destruction unleashed by Enyo. She despises the senseless loss of lives, but she can’t help admiring her half-sister’s tenacity.

-So much wasted potential. If you could just learn to focus your wrath into something useful, there’s really no limit to what you could-

Athena doesn’t even see Enyo’s punch: she’s moving extremely close to the speed of light, and even Athena’s reflexes are not enough to keep up with her. Enyo then grabs Athena’s leg and flies towards the ground, hitting it hard enough to blow a crater that opens a hole into the planet’s crust.

On the other side of Gordium, hundreds of earthquakes level one city after the other. They’re the lucky ones: when the two goddesses emerge from the ground, they open a chasm that dwarfs the Grand Canyon. They fight has evolved into a full-blown brawl: it’s been hundreds of thousands of years since both have had a decent opponent, and neither one is holding back.

Millions of mortals are dying each minute, but they don’t care. This is uncharacteristically reckless for Athena, who isn’t accustomed to win her arguments with fists. But she’s still an Olympian goddess: once triggered, her wrath is inexhaustible.

Thanks to their invulnerability and stubbornness, the fight could go on forever: when it comes to strength and speed the two seem on equal footing, and Enyo’s ferocity leaves little room for Athena’s strategic prowess. They stop only when they realize what’s happening to their fighting stage: they’re floating in the air above a sea of lava. There’s nothing else as far as the horizon.

-Look what you’ve done. You’ve broken your own planet, is that what you wanted? – Athena asks.

Meaningless – Enyo answers. Her voice is a little tired and there are dents on her helmet.

-You know, it’d be easier to have a meaningful conversation if you just used more than one word at a time. But talking to you is useless, isn’t it? You’re too strong for your own good.

Enough talk – Enyo answers, her body radiating violet energy: it’s clear she’s about to unleash her power to its utmost potential. Athena cracks her knuckles, and her eyes shine red with anticipation.

-Two words this time, uh? It’ll be a short but adequate epitaph – she says.

The two goddesses fly towards each other, raising tidal waves of magma as they approach each other: unstoppable force against unstoppable force. Two fists, each with enough energy behind it to knock the planet out of the orbit, which meet an unmovable object: a shield of blue electric light.

Athena and Enyo understand immediately what’s happening and look up. There’s a woman floating above them, wearing a tight blue dress with impressive cleavage and lots of jewelry.

The trio descends on the sea of lava. Athena and Enyo remove their helmets, with the latter exposing her short pink hair, and they both land on rocks to kneel.

Mother – Enyo says, without daring to look at her.

-Queen Hera – Athena greets her, watching the blue-haired Queen Of Heaven transmute the lava into crystal clear water and simply standing on it.

-Such reckless behavior is inexcusable; no wonder neither of you can find a husband. What would your father say if he saw you fighting each other?

-Probably complain we didn’t tear each other’s clothes – Athena mumbles under her breath.

-I will not allow this senseless rivalry to continue. And I will no longer let your pet humans run amok in my galaxy, Athena: I may not be your mother, but I am still your father’s wife.

-Would my father approve the idea to wipe out all mortal life if Null can’t find the Dragon Tomb?

-You think I need Zeus to affirm my authority, Athena? – Hera asks, crossing her arms. She’s not doing anything, but Athena can feel her power; it’s not a battle to be taken lightly.

-I apologize for striking you, Enyo. The Athenian Federation will reimburse any financial loss following the destruction of the planet – she offers.

-Do not cross me again, Athena. As for you, Enyo… you better find the Dragon Tomb before her.



Ø
End of issue. Click below to navigate chapters.