Chapter Twenty Seven
Taking the Bull by the Horns
I watched as several demigods were being dragged by undead warriors out of an old primate house. They all had their hands tied behind their backs and some kind of strange collar around their necks. What worried me the most was a kind of cloudy look to their eyes, but not like the glassy look of the zombies. It seemed that something had been done to them, at least until they were transported to wherever they were going. I had told the others to find Allen and the others while I watched the situation. They were reluctant, but eventually agreed as I promised I wouldn’t do anything rash until they got back. They believed me as children of Athena rarely did anything rash and always planned things out. I was also coming up with a plan to free them, as there were only a handful of zombies and I was sure that I could take them out, at least until he showed up.
“Get these prisoners moving, we don’t have much more time before the Underworld Prince decides it is time to feed again,” came the booming voice from inside the primate house. A large figure dressed in Ram horns and armor that instantly reminded me of the night sky walked out of the large hole in the wall. “That brat’s appetite is insatiable. First Kronos fails to overthrow Olympus, and now I’m at the mercy of some undead punk.”
I watched as Krios walked over to the chained demigods as if inspecting them. One of the demigods shook his head for a second and the fog cleared from his eyes.
“Where am I,” he said and then took a good look around. He started fighting against his chains, but was picked up off the ground by Krios. He then lifted his other hand in front of the demigods face and showed him all the constellations in the southern sky. I watched and instantly felt relaxed, like the beauty of the sky made me want to follow it anywhere. It was almost hypnotic as I kept looking on, but I managed to turn away. As I saw the light fade, I looked back and the same cloudy gaze returned to his eyes.
“He’s hypnotizing people to use them as bargaining chips against Nico,” I said out loud in a hushed voice as I observed the scene. I began to form a million different plans in my mind as the scene replayed in my mind. However, one thing kept coming back to my mind. If that guy could break free, then so could the others. Maybe all they needed was a little push and they could help me fight. All I would need to do was get in close, kill one of the undead holding their chains, shake them around a bit, then we could all fight off Krios.
“That won’t work,” came a voice from behind me and I pulled out one of my swords and held it up to his face.
“What won’t work,” I demanded in a hushed tone, but I filled my words with as much authority as I could manage.
“Let me guess, you’re planning on sneaking behind them, killing the guy holding the chains, then shake everyone out of their trance and fight off Krios,” He said with a smile. “But it won't work. You’ll manage to kill the undead warrior just fine with no problem. However, shaking everyone awake will attract Krios’ attention and he will kill you before you manage to remove the collars. Then everyone will die, plus one child of Athena.”
“What about the collars, what do they do?” I asked with the same tone.
“They’re power dampeners. Kind of like shock collars for demigod abilities. A child of Hephaestus agreed to make them as long as he wasn’t turned over to the armies of the undead. He built them, then was turned over to the armies of the undead by Krios once he took over the zoo,” the boy said and I lowered my sword a bit, as he didn’t seem like a threat, but seemed more angry at Krios for ruining the zoo. “Oh, and you should duck.”
I put my head down and looked back toward the chained demigods and an undead warrior passed by us on patrol. I hadn’t even seen that scout a moment ago as it was hidden by the plants that had grown out of control. It continued down the path as I waited for it to get out of hearing range.
“Ok, how do you keep doing that?” I asked him, but it sounded like more of a command. Not only had he figured out what I was planning to do, but he just now told me to duck to avoid a scout that he shouldn’t have been able to see. As far as I knew, there wasn’t a god of mind reading.
“Let’s just say I’m good at measuring the odds. Just call me Counter,” he said with a smirk. “Child of Prometheus, the Titan of Forethought.”
“Megan, daughter of Athena,” I said back. Him being a child of a Titan didn’t exactly get him on my trust list, so I kept my sword pointed up in case he tried anything.
“Oh calm down, I’m not going to try anything. You would kick my butt anyway. While I may be able to predict to the best of my knowledge how you would attack me if you had to, one wrong move and I would be sliced in half. I’m a thinker, not a fighter you see. I couldn’t keep up with you even if I wanted to,” he said. “But I could help you get your friends free. I swear on the River Styx.”
There was a roll of thunder and Krios looked up at the sky, which had been cloudy and grey ever since the zombies took over. It was as if the sky itself was saddened by what had happened to the world and hid the world behind a layer of clouds so it would never have to see it. Krios continued forward and turned away from the sky, hopefully thinking that nothing was wrong.
“Fine, what’s your plan?” I asked him with a raised eyebrow and he laid it all out for me. He told me it was the plan with the best odds of success, at something like an 11% success rate. But it was better than any plans I currently had.
“Alright, let’s get going,” he said and we split up. I followed the path he had told me about, a pathway employees must have used when the zoo was still open. All the while I kept counting in my head.
I watched as a patrol of the dead walked past me and entered the back entrance of the reptile house. I kept counting and waited the three seconds until the coast was clear. I kept following the path until it lead me to the elephant exhibit, where I saw Krios standing in front of a door the size of an elephant. I watched as the door opened, but it didn’t lead to a back room. It looked like an entrance back into the Underworld, someplace I didn’t want to go back to.
“He should be here any moment now. These demigods should keep him off my back for at least another week until I find more,” Krios complained.
“Is the lost little sheep planning on tossing himself into Tartarus?” I shouted and the Titan turned to face me.
“Oh look, another log for the fire,” he said and I knew he planned on just tossing me in with the other demigods. He then turned to face his zombie helpers. “Go get her, and try not to beat her up to bad.”
They dropped the chains and pulled out swords and axes before approaching me. I pulled out my twin swords and prepared to do what I did best, beating up my opponent. However, I had to make it interesting.
The first zombie came at me, but his stiff movements made it easy for me to counter his strike with my blade before cutting his entire arm off with my other sword. He looked completely unhurt, but then looked at his arm confused when he tried to lift his arm and it didn’t respond. He then moaned in anger and another zombie came at me from behind. I blocked her strike and knocked the ax from her hand, causing it to go flying into the third zombie on my left. He tried desperately to pull the ax from his chest, causing his rib cage to pop out with the ax and I almost lost my lunch. Thankfully, I had more pressing matters to keep my mind off the gross scene. The zombie who I originally attacked picked up his sword with the other arm and came at me. I blocked his strike, but pretended to fall backward as if the strike actually hurt.
“Is that it, you must be the weakest demigod I’ve ever seen. What was your great plan, defeat three of my zombies and then if you survived, try and take me out?” he laughed as I got to my feet. I took a few steps forward and the three zombies came at me again. However, I had no more reason to stall for time as I watched Counter take off the last of the demigod collars. It took me about seven seconds to shop the three zombies into nothing but diced body parts, obviously cutting their heads in two as that was the best way to make sure they didn’t try and bit me or something as I walked over their severed heads.
“You were holding back? You could have been turned into a zombie, so why hold back?!” he asked angrily as he pulled his ram horn shaped hammer from his back ready to attack me.
“Because, if there is one thing Megan is good at, it is coming up with a plan,” Rachel said and Krios had just enough time to watch as Elicia called forth a bunch of vines that formed a fist and punched him into the portal to the Underworld. I watched as dark energy seemed to consume him and draw power from him. It was as if he was being turned into a zombie himself, but I wasn’t sure if that could happen to a Titan. Just then Rachel ran to the portal and took a pose as if she was trying to close two giant doors. In response, the portal to the Underworld became smaller and smaller until it finally closed.
“Is everyone ok?” I asked and Kelsey came up and gave me a hug. It was amazing that three zombies and a Titan couldn’t knock me off balance, but a simply hug managed to through me off and we both fell to the ground. Rachel, Denise, and Elicia just laughed a bit while Kelsey kept thanking me for saving them.
“It wasn’t just me, he helped too,” I said pointing to Counter, who was reuniting with his now freed friends. “Who are you guys anyway?”
“We’re the Zoo Survivors,” the big guy behind Counter said. “And who in Hades are you?”