I was blinded, and I couldn’t move, but there was a jerk on the back of my shirt and I fell backward. A searing pain burned through my left calf, and if I hadn’t already lost my sight from the flash, it would have burst with stars from the agony. Burning flesh pervaded my nostrils, and the nausea roiling in my gut told me it might just be my flesh.
“Shit.” Oliver breathed the curse word in my ear. “Uh, well at least it’s cauterized.” Those were the last words I heard before my world tilted and I lost a few minutes of time.
When the world swam back into view, there was a tightness just below the knee, but no more arrows were thudding in the area. Instead, the noise was replaced by the barking of gunshots, and the closest was behind me from where I was laying on the ground.
“What happened?” I groaned, and tried to roll over.
Oliver’s hand pressed my shoulder back down to the ground. “You don’t want to do that. Trust me.”
“How long was I out?”
“Not long, but I can’t get you out of here. He took out all the ambulances, and any that tried to approach.”
“No one has shown up to help?” I asked, incredulous. How long would it take for some of the Greek gods to haul their rear ends down here and take care of their fellow god?
“Viktor is here nipping at his heels, and a few others are keeping him distracted now that we can see him.”
I grunted, and when Oliver looked away to take a shot at Apollo, I sat up and put my back against the mangled body of the patrol car. When I looked down at my leg, I gulped, and did my best not to throw up. My calf was torn, nearly in half, and the skin and flesh burned almost beyond recognition.
“I told you not to do that,” Oliver admonished, and took a few more shots.
Before I could respond with any acerbic wit, I caught sight of someone walking between the cars. My eyes widened as the smoke cleared and revealed Daphne, strolling with deliberate steps, over and between debris.
I blindly reached over and smacked Oliver to get his attention.
“Daphne’s here,” I managed to say, the words sticking unpleasantly in my throat.
“Daphne!” Apollo’s voice boomed as he rushed toward her. Daphne raised a hand in a sharp, cutting motion, and a stream of water lashed out at Apollo like a whip. His head jerked back, though no mark marred his skin. Perks of being a god, I supposed.
“You shall not have me, Apollo. Now leave in peace!” she demanded, but Apollo’s eyes shone with the fervor of intense, unrequited love.
“Daphne, come with me.” His voice was breathy, and he held out a hand to her.
His face contorted in rage, and the police car closest to him suffered for her refusal. He threw it at one of the buildings, shattering windows and destroying the brick of the walls.
“Daphne, you’ve got to run. He’s not going to listen to reason, like I’d hoped,” Oliver shouted, but Daphne shook her head. Of course, she wasn’t the only one to hear him, and Apollo turned his attention to us.
“You! You’re the one who kept her hidden,” he accused, then his head tilted and his intense gaze took me in,” and you are the one who helped these lowly beings see me to attack me. You will both pay!”
“I think not!” Techur came out of nowhere and leapt onto Apollo’s back, then promptly suck his teeth into the god’s shoulder. With a shrug, Apollo threw him off, and he slammed into the side of a now useless ambulance. All that from a shrug, and he was out cold.
“Don’t,” Oliver said roughly. “You’ll accomplish nothing good by bringing a demon to this battle, and he likely wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize any standing with the Greeks.”
I sighed, and watched as Apollo continued to approach.
“Then there is nothing left to do but die then, huh?” I asked, resigned.
“Sure seems that way.” He sighed in turn.
“Guess it wasn’t an awful way to spend a day. At least I’ll die with a friend,” I joked, and a lop-sided, manic grin broke over my face.
“Sounds good to me.” He shrugged, and a similar smile spread across his face.
“Be silent, the both of you!” Apollo roared, and reared back to strike us.
At that moment, a flash of light and the sizzle of the molecules in the air splitting shattered the night.
“That will be enough out of you,” a voice rumbled.
“You’re late, old man,” Oliver said, weary and cheeky.
Once my vision cleared from the flash, there was a set of broad and muscled shoulders blocking my view of Apollo. The figure was imposing, even in a toga and sandals. Zeus was no longer in a suit, and somehow he was more terrifying with less clothing on.
“Do not speak to me in such a way, mortal.”
“Show up on time next time, and maybe I won’t,” Oliver continued, ignoring the command.
Zeus said nothing further, just took in the crouched and smoking form of Apollo.
“She is mine!” he screamed up at Zeus. Then his bow was in his hands and aimed at Zeus before anyone could react. Anyone except Zeus that is. He kicked Apollo in the face before he could loose an arrow, and sighed.
“What a disaster. I will have Eros’ wings for this.” Zeus turned to Daphne. “You are coming with me, and we will get this sorted out, one way or another.”
There was another flash, followed this time by a rumble of thunder, and the three of them were gone.
“Well, that was almost anti-climactic,” Oliver said, and slid to the ground next to me.
“Would you rather have us dead?” I asked, and groaned as my head thudded back against the car.
“Considering all the paperwork I’m going to have to do because of this clusterfuck, it’s a close thing.”