The Gods Defense is on sale for $0.99 for Christmas!
In a world where the gods and magic have returned, enforcing justice just got a lot more hazardous!
Cassandra Berry is a prosecutor with a problem; the Defendant in her latest case is claiming Dionysus made him do it, and if he wins, defendants across the country will be pulling this excuse in every case. In order to get the god to answer a subpoena, she asks Apollo for help.
But divine favors always come with strings attached…
Gods popped into existence inside the horseshoe, maybe thirty of them.
They looked… powerful. One was in a loincloth. Another was stark naked except for a bright yellow belt with knives hanging off it like pleats. How did she walk without cutting herself? They all had weapons clipped to their hips and over their backs, and I was betting there were more hidden. One even decided to embrace the modern era and had a giant rifle strapped to his back.
The air in the room changed, became solid, like I could’ve scooped it out with a spoon and licked it up.
Apollo took a hold of my hand and I didn’t try taking it back. Henry dabbed his face again.
“Greetings Zeus,” one of the new gods said, stepping forward from his crowd.
He was maybe five six, with the smoothest cinnamon skin I’d ever seen and eyes so dark I couldn’t tell where the pupils ended and the irises began.
His features were pleasantly masculine, good looking but not too much so. His suit emphasized his wide shoulders and was probably very expensive despite being tomato red. The suit, bright blue shirt and yellow tie with little elephants on it all clashed in some eclectic, actually seemed to go together kind of way.
“Greetings Ravena,” Zeus said. Neither of them bowed or so much as inclined their heads.
Ravena? The Hindu demon with ten heads?
This one had only the one head, but a lot of stuff had been blown out of proportion or outright changed in the years the gods had been asleep. I doubted his status was much different than in the stories, though. Why was he leading this pack? He wasn’t even one of the major deities.
Maybe that’s what Zeus meant by lower beings?
“The nine days starts in fifty minutes,” Zeus said. “Is there a reason you are early?”
“We’re here as a courtesy, to tell you we disagree with this plan.” Ravena’s voice was light and pleasant, a tenor with an Indian accent. It really didn’t go with the suit.
“We all agreed to this at the last alignment,” Zeus said, voice flatter than an unsalted cracker. “What seems to be the problem, demon?”
“We don’t think we should stop it. You forget, oh great Zeus, the world will not end, just humanity’s part in it. Look around. Humans have run amok while we slept so we’d have the power to save them.”
World ending? They put themselves into hibernation for the power to save us? Huh?
“You know why we’re saving them, Ravena.”
Ravena’s lips twitched. “Yes. And we think you’ll be successful even without us.”
I squinted at him, red streaks slashed across his face and disappeared so fast I may have imagined it.
Zeus clenched his jaw as whispers erupted around the table. “If you think you can keep your full powers and still reap the benefits of humanity’s survival, you are severely mistaken, demon.”
Ravena lost his friendly businessman face and broke into a full smile. Arrogance flowed around him like fine champagne to my psychic vision, bubbling up near his eyes.
“If you challenge me, you challenge all of us. You will win, but you won’t have the power to pull off the spell at the alignment.”
“You will go through with the power joining,” Zeus said, voice the low rumble of thunder at the height of a storm. It rattled my teeth like a bass had been implanted in my jawbone.
I shivered and Apollo squeezed my hand then reached up to stroke my arm. I’d actually forgotten he was there.
“You will keep your word,” Zeus continued, “or you will be called oath-breakers.”
Ravena spread his hands wide, staring Zeus straight in the eye. Even I knew that was an insult of the deepest kind, a demi-god staring a king in the eye like they were equals. His grin widened.
“So be it.”
I expected more whispers or for Zeus to answer or… something. Silence filled the room like clouds, making the world fuzzy around the edges. My ears buzzed like they needed something to do.
My eyes jerked around, looking for motion. No one else so much as blinked. It was like the room had been captured in a painting, and I was the only one aware time hadn’t stopped, or maybe time had and I was the only one who didn’t stop with it.
The air didn’t even move. If anyone else was breathing, I couldn’t tell.
Motion. Sound. Something!
There! My head moved with my eyes like a whip. The elephants on Ravena’s tie moved. The grey and white beasts, no bigger than a tablespoon each, crawled around the tie. They climbed over each other, disappeared at the ends, and came back. It was like they were looking for the world of sight and sound to pick up again, too.
My breaths were too loud and fast. I tried to move again, to squeeze Apollo’s hand.
My eyes inched up like a magnet captured them until I met Ravena’s eyes.
Black pits struck me like I fell into them and hit a granite bottom. An ache built between my eyes and I tried to move to rub it away.
The Hanged Man from my cards appeared upside down, dangling in each of the demon’s eyes.
His smile grew. It was almost too wide, like his lips were actually lengthening instead of just pulling up.
“Well, well, well,” he almost seemed to sing, but his mouth didn’t move. “The human has teeth. Hello, mongrel. This is your warning; stay out of this. You are dealing with forces beyond your ken.”
“You know I can not let such an insult go,” Zeus said, the words a slap on my ears.
The world moved again. Breeze and breath filled the air. The centaur shifted on his hooves. Henry mopped his forehead. Apollo was rubbing my arm like he’d never let up. Artemis stroked her bow next to him, in the same rhythm as her twin.
And Ravena was still staring at Zeus.
What the hell just happened?