Strong language, implied rape, gore, general sadism, thoughts of committing necrophilia... Basically, just a lot of things that, put together, make this a pretty strong M. Don't read it if it you don't like it, because I don't want to put up with your complaints about it. It's your fault that you turned off the ratings filter, not mine.
Written for Theia 47's Picture Challenge (#5). If you're curious about the ending, look up Melinoe.
memento es mortali
(remember you're mortal)
Attending there let us absorb the cultures of nations
And dissolve into our judgement all their codes.
Then, being clogged, with a natural hesitation
(People are continually asking one the way out),
Let us stand here and admit that we have no road.
The gun in her hand threatens to slip from her grasp and fall to the floor, and for a second she wishes that she could just sink to the ground and sob. She doesn't want to kill him, but she's been tasked with the duty. She had already tried - and failed - to turn him more than once. This was the only option now. And besides, her Lord would kill her without a second thought if she failed to do it.
She feels a pang of hatred as she thinks about her Lord. He's a tyrant, and doesn't care two figs about His followers, she knows. She has even contemplated defection a few times, but then she remembers that the gods aren't any better, when you get down to it. They'd had their chance, and they'd fucked it up pretty badly. She smiles bitterly, remembering when the boy at the other end of the gun had finally been claimed, after spending two summers in the Hermes cabin. He had been ecstatic, able to finally get his own bunk, instead of the bit of the floor he had occupied. He had immediately Iris Messaged her, and she remembers his joyful exclamation that his father was, as it turned out, Apollo, and that he couldn't believe his best friend at camp had been his half-sibling all along. She remembers how disgusted she was at his excitement, couldn't believe that he could care for his father at all, after what he had done to his mother, and then proceeded to forget about his son until he had gone on some stupid quest and "made him proud".
She had sworn then and there that she wouldn't support the gods in the then-impending war, and she would try her absolute hardest to make her friend see sense. To realise that the gods can't be allowed to rule any longer. They are convoluted beings without any care about the wellbeing of their creations, or even that of their own children. Heartless, foul, jerks who don't think of the consequences of their actions. Like you, a little voice in her head says, but she shakes it off; she is nothing like them, never will be anything like them. She won't allow herself to be.
The pain in his mother's eyes when she had told her he'd been claimed was almost unbearable, and she remembers feeling a pang of guilt when she realised what memories the knowledge would have brought up to the surface.
She clears her head - no sense in thinking about the past. What's done is done, and she can't afford to think about the boy in front of her, completely at her mercy, because mercy is exactly what she can't afford to have.
He's just standing there, waiting for her to take the shot. She wants him to scream at her not to do it, to at least react at all, and she knows that she shouldn't, that it's wrong, but this is why her Lord keeps her in His ranks. She's always loved the sound of her victims screaming, crying, pleading for her not to do it because she's just a child and she doesn't deserve to have murder on her conscience, that she doesn't have to do this to herself. She'd usually laugh bitterly and tell them that murder had never had any affect on her conscience before, that they weren't anything special, and if they thought that she'd regret killing them, they were sadly mistaken. But he's not doing anything of the sort, and she feels intense anger burning inside of her, because he's always known that he's the only one who's ever been able to feel remorse, the only one who can control her completely. She doesn't know why she lets him, really. She hates it when people try to use her for their own gain, and that's why she hates her Lord; because he thinks of her as a tool to be used, and nothing more. But for some reason, she doesn't dislike the feeling of being completely and utterly submissive to him, letting him dominate her, take her...
A frown forms on her face, fleetingly chased away by a calm, apathetic expression as she notices the slash across his chest, slowly staining his shirt with blood. It's not clotting, she sees, and when she realises how he looks as though he's about to drop dead of exhaustion, the gun in her hand wavers slightly, but quickly finds it's mark again. And though every cell in her body is screaming at her not to say anything, to just pull the damn trigger and get it over with, she speaks.
He lifts his head, and a look of surprise flickers over his features. He nods, and she knows she can't put it off any longer. The empousai poison their weapons, so she knows that even if she doesn't kill him, he'll die. And then she's screwed, because her Lord will know she didn't kill him, and he'll doubt where her allegiances lie... if he doesn't just kill her the moment she returns to the Princess Andromeda, as he probably will. He doesn't care about his followers, after all. They stay with him because of sheer hatred for the Olympians. Well, and fear of a painful death, the punishment for defectors. Or rather, the final part of the punishment for defectors. She didn't try to hide behind some false shield of naïveté; Hades, there was an entire fucking punishment squad, if you believed the rumours (and she did, oh, she did). The creatures - they couldn't be called human, whatever they were. Humans had morality, at least a little bit of it, deep inside. These things didn't; they killed anything and everything they could with complete apathy, and it horrifies her, and she knows, just like every other person in Kronos' army knows, that the expletive wasn't there simply to emphasise how terrible they were, though it did. That expletive, when you applied it the the so-called 'punishment squad', meant exactly what the word means. What really, truly terrifies her, though, is that the only thing that's keeping her from becoming like them is the love she holds for the boy in front of her. The boy that she's about to kill. And she knows it's like one of those pathetic fantasy stories that regular kids read, the kind where you can do anything with the 'all-mighty power of love'. She's always hated these stories; she's always wanted to prove them wrong. Love is not omnipotent, it can not defeat anything. Love is weak. And happily-ever-afters don't happen in real life.
She clenches her jaw and pulls the trigger. There's a resounding bang! and she stumbles backwards, her eyes tightly shut. A second later, she hears his body fall to the floor and she opens her eyes. A crimson pool is forming around his head, still intact save for a small hole near his left temple. His crumpled form is in an unnatural position with his ankle at an awkward angle, twisted backwards and near his hip, leaving his knee to hover a few centimetres off of the ground. She takes a step forward, and the raised heel of her shoe clatters against the cement floor of the warehouse, echoing loudly. She squats - squats, not kneels - down to the cadaver's level, and straitens it out, laying its legs straight out, so that it looks like the boy is sleeping, and she folds its hands over its abdomen so it looks almost like its in an invisible casket, about to be lowered into the ground. It's a symbol of remorse, supposedly. Arranging a body as though it's sleeping is supposed to be a way to say that you regretted killing the person the corpse had been - because a corpse is not a person, it is an it, not a he or a she, she thinks. She also thinks that the psychological assessment of the importance of positioning the body like that, now that she's done it, is utter bullshit. She doesn't feel remorseful; she'd never felt remorse before, and she isn't going to start now. And she knew she probably should because damn it, she's just shot her boyfriend in the head, and you weren't supposed to do that sort of thing when you loved someone. But she's not normal, she knows, and it's not worth comparing herself to social norms because the rest of mortal society doesn't have to deal with the entire fucking supernatural world every fucking day, and by Gaia, it's enough to drive any mortal a bit crazy. The whole 'sociopath' thing doesn't really help, either.
She kisses the body as a farewell (fareunwell?) gesture, ignores her body's immediate desire to show that it's dominant, because that's just so horribly creepy that if she does it, she knows she won't be able to live with herself, and just because a gunshot to the head in a cause of angel lust, that's no reason to want to ride a cadaver. Even psychopathic murderers have standards, after all.
It's called your conscience, the little voice in her head mutters.
All perverted thoughts put to the side, she walks out without a second look at the body, and she knows that this starts a new chapter in her life, and she's not very proud of that.
She sits in the corner, cursing the existence of the gods, Titans, primordial ooze, or whatever the Hades was around before the immortals were. She curses herself, curses him, and curses everyone who tries to get her attention, to speak to her, to look at her, even. So, rather inevitably, the girl sitting on her bed, watching her intently, is receiving an unvoiced, and exceedingly vulgar, attack on her existence, on her ability to procreate, and her mother. The girl's young - probably only twelve or thirteen - so she can still pull off that innocent, pleading look that can manipulate anything; repeat, anything, out of any adult alive. Or dead, for that matter. She tries to sit still for a few minutes, and every time, the ADHD invariably kicks in, and she walks around the room for a few seconds, maybe inspecting something on one of the tables, before returning to the older girl's bed and starting the cycle all over again. Oh, please, please leave, she prays, to no deity in particular, figuring that maybe one of them won't care that she's spent the last two days cursing them to Tartarus and back. A few more hours, and her prayers seem to have been answered: the little girl jumps off the twin bed, and runs out of the room, black pigtails bouncing behind her. It seems that the deity who'd answered the prayer was still a bit pissed off though, because the little girl is back in a few seconds, her wide brown eyes sparkling maliciously. There's something in her hand, obscured just enough that the older girl has no idea what it is. She's practically skipping in joy - the little girl, that is - as she makes her way to the blinded window, and the teen can't miss the smirk that graces her immature features as she opens the blinds, sunlight streaming in, directly where she's sitting. The little girl sits back down on the bed, and she realises what it is that the demigod's got in her hand. The little girl unwraps the earphones from around the MP3 player, and soon enough, she's nodding her head to some obnoxious tune that the older girl can just barely hear.
She lifts her head a few centimetres, and glares at the little girl, her eyes as wide open as she can manage with in the harsh light. The raven-haired girl smiles back at her. It's that creepy sort of smile that she realises she must give to people right before she kills them, and it's really weird seeing it from this little girl. It's the sort of facial expression that says, 'Hi, I'm a perfectly innocent little kid who's going to make your life entirely miserable, and enjoy it greatly,' when it's coming from Little Miss Pigtails;she doesn't know what it looks like from herself, but she imagines it can't be anything good.
Little Miss Pigtails sits there for a few minutes while she counts the five minutes before the ADHD of the young demigod sets in. When the time's up, the girl undoes one of her earphones. So very predictable. "How long are you going to keep sitting there?" the girl asks with the slightest hint of an accent.
She grunts a "Leave me alone," in response, which is ignored by the little girl.
"You're the mortal, right? My mum doesn't like you much."
Mum? Well, at least now she knows where the accent's from.
"And who's that?" she mutters, knowing that the raven-haired girl isn't going to leave her alone, and she's too tired to actually forcibly remove her, so she might as well answer.
One of the Roman kids then. Wonderful. Sadistic creeps, the lot of them.
How does that make them any different than you? She's really starting to get sick of that voice.
"And what could the Lady Dike possibly have against me?" she asks, her voice heavy with sarcasm.
The demigod cocks an eyebrow - just one, like Mr. Spock did on those old Star Trek episodes. She could never figure out how to do it, settling for raising both eyebrows. It doesn't look nearly as creepy. "What do you think? I'm Etalia, by the way."
She doesn't really care what Little Miss Pigtails' name is, and grumbles, "Fuck off."
"I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you," the little girl replies, and she doesn't feel like standing up quite enough to kill the girl yet, so she leaves the bold statement without a retort.
They sit in silence, the mortal in the corner with her eyes closed to block out the light, and Etalia (What kind of name is Etalia, anyway? she wonders.) on the bed, rocking back and forth. A few hours in, the sun fading slowly into the horizon, Etalia stands, throwing an object at her feet, and walks out of the room without a word.
She glares down at the little package; a plastic bag with something decidedly like a brownie - though it's a whitish-yellow colour - inside. Realising what it is, she smiles wryly, looking at it now with an almost morbid fascination. A question runs through her mind, because surely Etalia knows what happens to mortals when they eat it...
Did she hope we wouldn't know what it was? Or was she trying to give us a way out?
If it's the former, Little Miss Pigtails has just won the award for densest demigod alive, and the latter is almost insulting, because she would never take the easy way out. She throws the bag across the small room, and her mouths twitches into an almost-smile as it splats against the wall.
("What happened to never taking the easy way out?")
"I don't know."
A dog barks, waking its owners. They rush to the window; "What's wrong, Cooper?" they ask, "What's out there?"
The dog barks again, in the direction of the garden. "Empty," the man yawns. "Let's go back to bed."
But still the dog insists; don't the humans see the translucent people in the garden?
"Shut up, Cooper. Nobody's there."
It begs to differ. It looks out the window again, and whines in confusion.
There is nothing there.