Which given the situation, was a pretty impressive feat. Forced to once again hold up the long dead corpse of his father, whom just so happened to be the divine incarnation of the sky.
What was even worse was he was holding him up by his severed nether regions. If Atlas ever saw Kronos again, he would have to question his brother on why he chose to wound their father there of all places. Their father was huge, which was to be expected of the sky, but He and his brothers managed to hold father down while Kronos used the first weapon to commit the first murder. Atlas knew for a fact that Kronos could have slit their father’s throat, but no, he had to go for his distinguished gentleman with two bags.
Atlas laughed at that.
He had learned that particular saying from some of his mortal minions during his brief parole during the second Titan war. Mortals were far more interesting now than they were two-thousand years ago. Before they cowered in huts, afraid of the world around them; now they were erecting structures that touched the sky, developed ways to communicate instantly with one another from anywhere on Gaea, and alter the very world around them to whatever suited them.
Atlas was very interested to see what mortals would be capable of by the next cycle.
“I don’t see what so funny, Fat-las,” called a voice, snapping Atlas back to the present.
Atlas looked down near his feet, to look the Roman demigod in the eye. Ever since the end of the second Titan war, Romans had been stationed to guard him and what remained of the throne, to ensure that no one would be able to free him. The demigod was small, even by demigod standards, but she carried herself with pride, and always looked eager to attack him. Her features were obscured by the armor she wore, but even if she wasn’t covered head to toe in armor, He wouldn’t bother to notice any of her features. She was after all, only a fool who fancied herself clever.
“I was merely thinking about whose bed your mother would be in tonight, daughter of Venus,” he shot back, dryly. “Perhaps another unknowing mortal who just so happens to make some kind of sweet she fancies. That was the reason you were conceived, was it not?”
The demigod raised her spear with a guttural roar and began to charge at him.
This was easier than the time he tricked Herakles to take his burden. Sure he had been then tricked by Herakles almost immediately, but unlike most titans he learned from his mistakes. If she got close enough, he could drop his father, roll, and she would be forced to carry the weight of the world. He knew there were three other demigods stationed nearby, but they would pose no threat to the titan’s general.
He was struggling to keep his face neutral. If he so much as grinned she would be made aware of his intentions.
Three yards. Atlas must have really hit a sore spot to enrage her this much.
“Yes!” He cried, unable to hide is excitement anymore. “Come little demigod, let us grapple until the end,” he taunted.
An arrow suddenly lodged itself in the ground in front of the angry child, snapping her out of her rage.
“That’s enough,” ordered another demigod. This one was a bit on the heavy side, and always smelled of that horrible artificial cherry beverage the Romans enjoyed so much. “One more step, and he would have been escaped while you were stuck holding up the night sky.”
The son of Bacchus waddled over to his fallen arrow and yanked it from the ground. He turned to face the daughter of Venus.
“Report back to the barracks, you’re done here. When your assignment ends here, expect a transfer and a demotion,” slurred the brat of Bacchus. “At least,” he quickly added.
The daughter of Venus shrunk down, gave a brief salute, and then departed.
The son of Bacchus turned looked up at Atlas, “That won’t happen again.”
Atlas laughed. “If I recall correctly, there are to be two demigods stationed near me at all times. Is that correct?”
“yes, that is correct.”
“Then why is it, whenever you are on guard duty, you will disappear from your post, only for you to come back with your lips stained red and smelling of that horrible beverage?”
The son of Bacchus shifted uncomfortably.
Atlas roared,“You are quick to blame others for their lack of discipline, when you hardly have any yourself! If you were in my army, you would have been flayed alive! Not for your failures, but for blaming others for your shortcomings!”
“Well then, I guess it’s a good thing I’ll never be in your army,” replied the son of Bacchus as he moved away from the imprisoned titan.
Weeks passed uneventfully since his near escape.
There were always two Romans stationed near him; one to his left and the other to the right. Each carried a ram’s horn, which were to be blown if Atlas showed any sign that he might be able to escape. The guards were on twelve hour shifts, with them switching at dawn and dusk.
The only real change Atlas observed was that the son of Bacchus, Dakota he was called, no longer snuck off to enjoy his fruity beverages. However, that only lasted for around two weeks before he returned to his old ways.
Having guards around him all the time added a new level of torture to the titan. Before, the trapped titan rarely had any mortal visitors, which allowed him to revert to his divine form. While in his divine form he became a being of pure thought and energy, and while he still would have been bound to his task his mind would be allowed to wander. In his mind’s eye he could visit his children.
Atlas grimaced at the though.
He knew he deserved worse than his current state. He had been blinded by rage, which lead him to his greatest regret.
“Hey there big guy. You ready for another boring day?”
The daughter of Venus had been replaced with a daughter of Mercury a week after the incident. Everyday since her arrival she had greeted the titan at the start of her watch, and then bid him farewell at the end. While she may have been lacking in discipline, he could respect her for her courtesy.
“I don’t know why you try to talk to him Veronica,” sighed the pudgy spawn of Bacchus. “He never responds, and if he were I am sure it would only be a taunt. Titans think they are better than us, and would sooner see us crushed underfoot than acknowledge us.”
“You might be right but, my mother always told me that kindness costs nothing but, buys a great deal,” replied the female. She then stuck her tongue out at the son of Bacchus and made a most unflattering noise. The mannerisms demigods adapted from the mortals were fascinating.
Atlas adjusted his hold on the sky, his bonds briefly tightening before they realized he was not attempting an escape. “Your mother is a wise woman then,” sighed the titan.
The daughter of Mercury’s body went rigid. She slowly turned in place, her eyes wide as she looked up. “Thank thank you sir,” she spat out, before quickly turning back to her post.
“And you there,” spat the titan turning his head to look at the son of Bacchus. “You know nothing of titans. When we ruled, the divine and mortal were separate. We did not interfere with them and they did not interfere with us! It was the gods who blurred the lines and demanded tribute,” sneered the titan.
“Yeah, yeah whatever,” said the son of Bacchus, while he was cleaning his ear with his little finger. “I’m sure it was a golden age.”
Atlas knew he would have has a better conversation with the corpse of his father, then he would have with the pudgy one. When he looked at the daughter of Mercury though he saw something new, something he could use.
The plan was simple. He would engage the female when she initiated conversation, wait for the red food dye kid to chastise him, then he would respond with something no primordial, titan, or god ever told before, the truth. If the plan worked eventually the daughter of Mercury’s curiosity would get the better of her, and she would come with questions, which he would happily answer.
There was another saying he heard from the mortals during the second titan war that fit his current situation perfectly.
The truth will set you free.
“And I bet the titans never harmed anyone.”
“The only titan to intentionally harm a mortal life was Kronos, and he was a twisted monster. He was our leader and we had to follow him. Haven’t you ever received orders form your superiors that you have regretted to perform?”
“I am sure your justice system was fair.”
“Like any system it had its flaws. It may have demanded heavy punishment, but it was consistent. I can say with certainty and pride that we never punished a rape victim by turning them into a snake monster.”
“The hunters of Diana never takes anyone that doesn’t wish to join them.”
“As much as it pains me to insult such a close relation of mine, Diana’s intentions are far from pure. Yes, she only accepts those who wish to join, but how many are old enough to actually know what they are consenting to? Remember: Diana swore to be forever pure of men, but that vow said nothing of the fairer sex.”
It was roughly two months after the initial conversation that the daughter of Mercury approached him. The worthless son of Bacchus had left his post two hours into their shift, and if the noises coming from the nearby bushes were any hint, he was fast asleep.
She took a tentative step forward, before she removed her helmet, revealing short blonde hair. She set her helm on ground by her feet, before she sat herself down. “How do I know what you have been saying is the truth?”
Atlas smiled, “I swear on the river Styx, that everything I tell you is completely true.”
The world went still and then the sound of thunder exploded from the sky.
Her eyes widened, “Are you trying to escape?”
“Would you seek revenge on the gods and their children if you were to be freed?”
“Only if they attacked me first. However, if I were to be freed I would have to knock out your fellow brothers and sisters in arms so I could make a clean escape. I would also dye your partner’s skin with that disgusting smelling drink he is so fond of.”
She let out a quick laugh before she became serious again, “Would you take me with you?”
Atlas was completely caught off guard by the question. He never considered that she may have wanted to escape with him. In hindsight it should have been expected, after all Romans were not kind to traitors. He could use her to act as a recruiter for his new army, she could even help him ascertain some equipment that he could not create. “I would be happy to take you.”
An ear-to-ear grin appeared on the daughter of, no, Veronica’s face, “What do I need to do?”
The next phase of the plan was simple. First, Veronica would obtain a small sample of essence of siren, which thankfully was a common staple of Roman first aid kits.
Essence of Siren, when used in low dosages, acted as a sedative. The medic administering the dosage would tell the patient that they were experiencing no pain, and through the power of suggestion the pain would disappear. In a pure undiluted form, it was more powerful than charm speak. Where charm speak was restricted to what the recipient wanted to do, essence of siren had no such limits.
Essence of Siren, a product of Trident Industries! Fitting that a son of Poseidon would aid in his escape.
Second, Veronica would slip the potent potable into the son of Bacchus’s thermos of artificially flavored, red dye number nine infused, beverage.
Third, three hours into the shift, which would allow the essence of siren to be in Dakota’s blood stream for approximately two and a half hours, Atlas would order the son of Bacchus to take the his burden.
Fourth and the most critical step, Atlas would do some stretches and attempt to remove the creak from his neck. A creak which was caused by the crushing weight of his father’s one remaining ball.
Fifth, Veronica and himself would LITERALLY skip down the mountain, Veronica would most likely have to ride piggyback.
And once they had escaped, Atlas would seek out a therapist to help him work out his issues with his father.
Everything was going according to plan. Veronica had successfully performed her role to perfection. They were two hours into their shift and the son of Bacchus was drooling all over himself, his only purpose in life right now was to await his orders. If Atlas did not know better, he would be laughing.
Veronica removed her helmet and body armor, and grabbed a knapsack she had hidden in the nearby bushes. “Do you think we can do it now? The sun has already been down for an hour, and the other two guards should be asleep in the barracks.”
Atlas smiled at her, a real genuine smile. “I suppose so.” He adjusted his hold, hopefully for the last time, feeling his bonds tighten and then relax. “Son of Bacchus,” he called.
Dakota straightened to attention in response to the Titan’s voice.
“You will come and willing take the weight of the sky from me,” commanded Atlas.
Dakota turned and slowly approached the Titan general.
“Come one, we don’t have all day! Speed it up,” boomed the titan.
Just when Dakota began to move faster, the silence of the mountain top was broken by three cracks. Red mist erupted from The son of Bacchus’s chest along with bits of his armor. Dakota fell to his knees, then collapsed to the ground.
Atlas turned to face Veronica and screamed, “You dare betray me?! After all I have revealed to you! After-”
“Now settle down there partner, I can assure you that the little lady had nothing to do with that young man’s sudden departure,” cried a deep smooth voice.
Veronica had already drawn her weapon, and was raising her shield when two figures clad in black jumped from the bushes and threw her to the ground. Each figure were wearing some strange multi-lensed goggles. One held her head to the ground, while the other quickly worked to bind her legs and hands behind her back.
Soon more figures emerged from the surrounding area, all were clad in the same uniform with the same strange goggles.
One stepped forward, and yanked Veronica off the ground by her short hair. “You know little lady, if we had been a couple seconds later, you would have prevented us from completing our mission,” laughed the figure. “I mean really what are the odds of you trying to spring this big ‘ol brute here on the same night we were set to attack? Seems like the angels are smiling down upon us from way on up there,” he laughed. The figure then dropped Veronica with a thud.
“Who are you? Are you Greek?” roared the Titan.
“Who I am and who we are of no importance to you really. Not at this time anyway. Greek, no, well I mean Charlie’s wife’s grandma was from Athens but, I find myself under the impression you mean not mortal, which I can assure we are all one hundred percent, factory certified, human,” drawled the figure.
The wheels of Atlas’s mind began to spin. These were mortals. Normal mortals at that. Not a drop of the divine flowed through their veins. If they were mortal though how could they get here though? The Mist should prevent any mortals from even finding this place. Wait, the strange goggles they wore, that was surely why they could see though the Mist.
Maybe these were a division of the mortals he used during the second titan war. Maybe they had come to free him! Loyal to their general until the very end like all good soldiers are! To bad they threw a monkey wrench into his plans by killing the boy. They could not use Veronica as the boy’s replacement as she had made Atlas swear on the river Styx that no such thing would occur. There were however, two sleeping demigods nearby that could be used instead. “I had hoped that I still had loyal men out there! Release that girl, for she is your sister in arms! There are two more sleeping demigods that can be used in the place of the boy you killed.”
The leader tilted his head slightly, then replied “A couple things about that. One that boy ain’t quite dead, so Charlie.” He snapped his fingers and one of the men, it was safe to assume it was Charlie, marched over to the still form of the son of Bacchus and squeezed off a couple shots into his head.
“Two, we killed one of those brats, and well let’s just say he isn’t going to be able to walk again, let alone feed himself. Well I mean, I guess you can use a straw without hands,” shrugged the leader. “And finally, we don’t work for you but, I tell you what partners, we are going make sure as shit that you will work for us.”