"You want me to do what now?"
Hercules gulped nervously. The last time he was in his uncle's realm was when he rescued Meg, and though he walked away victorious that time (despite reneging on his deal, something he still felt guilty about no many times his parents assured him it was fine), there was no guarantee he'd escape unscathed this time. Especially considering what he had just asked of his uncle.
With the first step of King Adam's and Queen's Belle unification plans completed and the states united, it was time to move to the next step—rounding up all villains and banishing them to the Isle of the Lost. There was one problem though—the majority of the villains were dead, having been killed during battles with their heroes. Worried that even in death they could be plotting, or worse, another villain could emerge and bring them back for their own nefarious schemes, the heroes decided that they must bring the villains back so they could be sent to the Isle. The main question was how.
There was necromancy, but that was dark magic and none of the heroes or fairies wanted to touch that with a ten foot pole. The only other option was to make a deal with the God of the Dead himself, who was also a villain. The heroes decided to pick the lesser of two evils, though Hercules was starting to see the appeal of the first option.
Which was how Hercules ended up in the underworld for the second time before he actually died and truly belonged there (staying mortal was a decision he was quickly regretting), though this time is as an emissary on the King and Queen's behalf seeing as Hades was his villain.
"Bring the dead villains back to life," repeated Hercules, with as steady as voice as he could manage.
Hades started to cackle, laughing so hard he had to wipe tears from his eyes. That surprised Hercules, who didn't even know the God of the Dead could cry. "That's rich. Wonder Boy," he said, borrowing Nutmeg's term for his nephew, "asking me to bring back his widdle hero friends' villains. Why? So they can kill them again? It's bad enough I have heroes escaping Death, the last thing I need is for villains to start doing so."
"We're not going to kill them again," replied Hercules sincerely, "we're just going to send them to the Isle of the Lost where they'll be imprisoned."
"You mean lock them up and throw away the key, huh?" Hades leaned back in his chair, and tapped his long thin fingers against each other as he thought. Hercules shifted from foot to foot nervously, waiting for a decision.
Hade shrugged. "It's not like I have something to lose, they're just moving from one prison to another. But tell me Wonder Boy," he said and leaned forward, "what do I have to gain? You can't expect something for nothing you know."
Hercules nodded, having been warned by his parents that Hades would most likely demand something in exchange. "If you bring them back alive and turn them over into our custody, you won't be sent to the Isle with them."
Hades quirked an eyebrow in surprise. "Does Zeus-y know about this?"
"He does," confirmed Hercules, though there had been several rumbles of thunder after he left Olympus despite not a cloud in sight. It was probably best to not mention that though.
"Well then," replied Hades with a smirk that sent a shiver down his nephew's back, "Let's get started."
A couple days after the villains had been brought back and turned over to the heroes, Hermes stopped by with a message that Hades and his minions were wanted on Olympus. Before Hades left, he tided things up around his home (well more like ordered Pain and Panic to do the tidying for him, but he was extremely satisfied with their work).
Once on Olympus, Hades took his time walking to where the rest of the gods were waiting. Seeing as it was rather crowded, he brushed against the sun god Apollo who stiffened at the touch, and quickly backed away. Other gods avoided looking at him, except one blonde bombshell he didn't recognize. With a smirk, he winked at her, and to his surprise, she winked back. Then Demeter appeared, and pulled her away, and Hades didn't have to hear what Demeter was saying to know that the blonde was getting scolded, like a mother scolding a daughter.
When he had at last arrived before his brother, Zeus didn't waste much time. "Hades, unfortunately we have decided to send you to the Isle."
"What do you mean you're sending me to the Isle? We had a deal!" snarled Hades, while his flames turned bright red and grew taller. The closest gods backed away, except for Poseidon who sent a jet of water at Hades, extinguishing his flame.
Hades glared at his younger brother. "That wasn't necessary," he hissed, and his hair returned to its normal flicker.
"Of course it was," boomed Zeus. "Which is why it'd be best for you to be sent to the Isle. We don't trust you not to come up with another evil scheme, and this is the best solution."
Looking around, Hades saw that many of the gods were averting their eyes from meeting Hades'. Even Wonder Boy was present, preferring to look at his feet. "Et tu, Brute?" asked Hades.
"Now Hades, leave the boy alone. We voted and it was decided, unanimously I might add, that you and your minions will be sent to the Isle with the rest of the villains," said Zeus.
Speaking of minions, his had been trying to sneak out of the room ever since they had managed to figure out where the conversation was heading. Athena, however had caught them, and threw them in Hades' direction.
"We weren't trying to run, honest," insisted Pain.
"Yeah," added Panic, "we just wanted to get a bit of fresh air."
Not bothering to acknowledge them, Hades dumped them on the floor and faced his youngest brother. "Am I at least allowed to pack before you ship me off?"
Hermes came fluttering in front of Hades' face, and he resisted the urge to swat at him like a gnat. "Whatever you want, but know no magic works on the Isle. As for weather, it's a constant mild temp due to the barrier around the island. So it's not too hot, not too sunny, not to windy, so you'll never have to worry about your hair…" babbled Hermes.
While he was continuing, Hades snapped his fingers. Blue leather luggage suddenly appeared next to him. "Alright. Take me to my island getaway."
Zeus huffed. "Hades, this is a punishment, not a vacation and you must take it seriously!"
Hades just smirked at his brother, the same one he had used earlier to send shivers down Hercules's back. "Whatever you say Bolt Boy, whatever you say."
Hades wasn't a yutz, not in the way his youngest brother was. The guy honestly believed, that after several millennia of fooling around with other woman, his wife, the freakin' Goddess of Marriage, still had no idea what was going on. Did the guy think it was a coincidence that all his demigod children had a tendency to die young? Sure they were great heroes, but their deaths had Hera's sticky fingerprints all over them.
No, Hades wasn't a yutz, he saw the double cross coming from a mile away. Heroes were notorious for doing such things after all (his own nephew was guilty of this, and Hades had yet to hear a thank you for not enforcing the terms of their agreement). He remembered one of the villains he had brought back, lamenting over some mermaid brat who had signed a magical contract without reading the fine print or even attempting to negotiate better terms for herself. But no, when it was time to fulfill her end of the contract, she went crying to daddy and her prince to save her. And yet she was the hero of the story?
Hades wasn't surprised in the least at the betrayal, and he did take satisfaction in the way Wonder Boy seemed ashamed at his role. Then there was the blonde bombshell of course, flirting back with him.
Oh well, the joke was on them. For the time being he was going to enjoy his all expenses paid vacation.
Upon arriving on the Isle, the magical extension charms on his luggage had shut off, sending his luggage every which way. Hades didn't mind though, he had Pain and Panic gather it up in their tiny little arms as he searched for a spot on the beach.
Finding it—far enough from the rest of the people sentenced to the Isle, and on a somewhat level surface, Hades had Pain and Panic place his lounge chair. He then had them mix him a drink from the supplies he had brought with him. He then tried to figure out the new shiny box he had managed to lift from Apollo's pocket, which turned out to be a little mortal device that played music. They were craftier than he had given them credit for.
With the tiny speakers in his ears, a martini glass in one hand, sunglasses nestled snugly on his face (there was no sun on the Isle, something he was grateful for since he didn't get out of the Underworld much, but he felt cool with them on anyways), his minions fanning him, and the blonde goddess from earlier in his dreams, Hades set out to enjoy his vacation.
Then he sensed somebody, who was much taller than his minions, standing in front of him. Without bothering to open his eyes, Hades his one free hand to shoo them. "Vamoose."
"What do you think you're doing?" demanded the figure, and Hades groaned, because he recognized who was interrupting his 'Me time'.
Pulling down his glasses slightly, he took in Maleficent who had a crowd of other villains—some he had brought back, some not—behind her. "Me? The question is what are you doing bothering me during my vacation?"
"Vacation?" scoffed Maleficent. "Is that what you think this is? In case you haven't noticed we were trapped her for eternity. We're trying to find some weakness in the wards trapping us here, and you're treating it like some holiday!"
Hades sipped on the neon blue straw in his martini, enjoying how the so-called 'Most Evil Villain' of all time was reduced to throwing a tantrum to get what she wanted now that she was without powers. "Look, babe," he said popping the last word, knowing how much it would annoy her, "for me this is a holiday, okay? No whiny dead people clinging to me, no heroes trying to sneak in to get their loved ones, and no annoying brothers urging me to 'be more social' and 'stop scheming'. I'll be out of here in less than a month, and I intend to enjoy every second of it. Now, am-scray."
It was Jafar who laughed first, followed by the others. "You'll be out of here in less than a month? For what, good behavior?"
The others joined in, and Pain and Panic backed up, prepared for the flare-up that was surely about to occur. To their surprise, he just smirked at the villains. "Please, like they would believe that. No, in a less than a month Wonder Boy will be here begging me to leave."
That just sent them further in hysterics, and Pain and Panic started to bury themselves in the sand to be protected by the blast. Once again, it didn't come. "Don't believe me? What do you say to a little wager then?"
"What did you have in mind?" asked Jafar.
"I'm assuming, that like me, you hid all your goodies away before being captured and sent here." While the villains didn't outright confirm his suspicions, they didn't deny them either, which was as good as a 'yes' in Hades' mind. He pulled out a book and a quill in the bag closest to him, and handed it to Jafar. "Write down the location here, and remember I will be in charge of your afterlife— which will be permanent next time— so don't even think of lying to me."
Jafar took the book in his hands, carefully looking it over for any sign of a set-up. "And what's in it for everyone else?"
"If I'm not gone in a month, you can argue over who gets the book and who gets Pain and Panic." At the mention of their names, the minions poked their heads out of the sand.
"But you can't just give us away like that," protested Panic, in a state of panic.
"We're your minions, we can't just go to some new masters," chimed Pain.
"Hush boys, I'm making a deal," Hades hissed, and shot them a look that sent them scurrying back into the sand.
"And a deal you have," said Jafar, shaking his hand with Hades, with Maleficent and the others smirking in the background. "Can't wait to see you lose."
"Ditto," agreed Hades. He snapped his fingers, and Pain and Panic reemerged from the sand at the sound. "Boys, see to it that each of the schlubs here signs the book, and seals their entry with a drop of blood so once I get free I can verify their claims and get revenge on any dumb enough to trick me."
While his minions saw to his instructions, he started to relax again, this time with music playing softly in his ears and the blonde goddess in his dreams.
"How lucky can one guy be…"
It wasn't very long after Hades' banishment to the Isle did strange things start occurring in Auradon. At slaughterhouses and in kitchens throughout the land, animals weren't dying. By all intents and purposes they should have died, but instead they just blinked at the humans who couldn't bare looking at them, or even attempt to cook them.
In hospitals, the elderly and others who seemed on death's door suddenly weren't. They kept on living, even in the case of one man who had been in a terrible accident and had his head separated from his body.
Those who were dead, but weren't were too disturbing to look at for long periods at a time, and were banned from being shown in papers and on television, though that didn't stop the news from spreading across Auradon.
Eventually it reached the King and Queen's ears and greatly disturbed them. They thought with the villains all finally locked up, peace would descend on their new kingdom. To get on top of the situation before it got worse, they summoned all the heroes and magic users to hear their opinion on the matter.
After several diagnostic spells, it was concluded the animals weren't exactly alive any longer, their organs no longer worked and they no longer needed food to survive, but they weren't exactly dead and decomposing. It was a cursed existence, and there was no magic to remedy the situation nor reveal the exact source of the problem.
Seeing the concerned looks on the King and Queen's faces, Merlin said, "We really should be asking Hades about what's going on."
Hercules paled at the mention of his uncle's name, and Merlin noticed. "Care to share with the rest of us?"
King Adam and Queen Belle motioned for him to explain. "It's just, we can't. Hades was sent to the Isle of the Lost with the other villains."
Merlin's face turned bright red. "And who in blue blazes decided that was a good idea?!"
"My dad," admitted Hercules sheepishly. He would have never have thought it was possible for the renowned wizard to be as scary as Hades.
Seeking to control the situation, King Adam asked, "And what's the problem with that?"
"The problem," spluttered Merlin, "the problem is that the God of the Dead is locked away in a place with no magic, and no magic means he can't do his job, and if he can't do his job…" he trailed off as the others began to understand.
"Then nothing dies," finished Queen Belle, and Merlin nodded at her conclusion.
"While mortals fear death, they should really fear a world without it," murmured the fairy godmother.
"But, can't we just get somebody else to do his job?" asked Hercules, who was grasping at other possibilities before having to go and tell his father that Hades would have to go free after all.
"Somebody else?" repeated Merlin incredulously. "Somebody else? Boy, Hades has been doing his job since before anybody in this room was born. There is nobody else to do his job, he is the one and only God of the Dead. Only an immortal would be capable of taking over for him."
For the first time that day, a smile lit up on Hercules' face. "It's a good thing that I happen to know some then."
Despite being on the Isle for a couple of days, Hades hadn't budged from his spot on the beach. The barrier around the Isle may have preventing him from using magic, but he was a still a god for Kronos' sake. The flimsy little barrier couldn't change his very nature, and as a god he didn't have to eat, drink, sleep, or any of the other nasty little things humans had to do.
He supposed he could go out and explore the Isle, but that would mean mingling with the nasty little humans, and he dealt without enough of them that were dead, so why would he want to deal with them being alive? And right after he had finally trained them to stay the hades away from him and his luggage with a few death glares that would have killed them where they stood if he had his powers back. The most he could hope for was giving them nightmares for the next several months.
Pain and Panic never strayed from his line of sight, but were enjoying the vacation as much as he was, playing in the sand and screwing with the humans who came near. It was just as well, seeing as they wouldn't be getting another one for at least another millennia or two.
His own was going great until it was interrupted again, this time by one of the villains he had brought back. If he remembered correctly she was the one who wanted her own step-daughter's heart in a box. Humans were so weird.
"What?" he barked at her, not even bothering to be nice this time.
If she picked up on his displeasure, she didn't acknowledge it. She sat down beside him on the sand, grimacing slightly at the idea of touching sand, and started to stroke his arm. "The other villains and I have decided that since we're not getting off this Isle, we're going to need to have a long term plan for revenge. We'll all have children and train them to be the next generation of evil, and the heroes just wouldn't be heroes if they let a bunch of children remain on the Isle with a bunch of villains, so sooner or later they'll let them out, and then our children will get our revenge."
That sounded like an extremely complicated plan with way too many variables that could go wrong, and this was coming from the guy who waited centuries for an alignment in the sky and got screwed over by a baby he had failed to ensure was actually dead after trusting his minions to get the job done.
Not his finest moment, but still sounded better than this hair-brained scheme. Maybe the barrier was also spelled to make the villains stupider so their next evil plan would be asier for the heroes to foil.
Food for thought.
"And what pray tell what does this have to do with me? I'm going to be gone in less than a month," replied Hades, jerking his arm out of her reach.
"You're a god, and I'm a queen," she purred, causing him to lean back in disgust, "Out of all the villains on this Isle, you are the most worthy of being the father of my child."
Was she for real? Did she honestly expect him, a thousand year-old god to fall over himself for her. He wasn't his brother for Kronos' sake, and even Bolt Boy would have probably turned her down.
"Look toots, I appreciate the offer, but you're not my type."
A scowl crossed the former queen's face at being turned down, which had never happened to her before. Usually it was the other way around. "And what is your type exactly?"
"Immortal for one, and hot for another," responded Hades, thinking of the goddess. "And spunky," he added, remembering how she didn't seem the least bit intimidated by the God of the Dead.
The queen huffed. "I'll have you know that I've been told that I'm the fairest in the land!"
"Well whoever it was, lied. Either that, or you were the only one in the land," retorted Hades, not caring about the scandalized look on the former queen's face.
She rose to her feet, every inch of her striving to be the queen she once was. "How dare you!"
"Oh, believe me toots, I dare. Now if you don't mind, I was in the middle of something important."
The queen left, stomping her feet in the sand, failing to notice Pain and Panic trailing close behind her with a look of glee on their faces.
Hades gave thanks that Apollo wasn't bright enough to notice he had been pick-pocketed, but was bright enough to have Hephaestus modify the device so it would never run low on power—pun intended.
"I kissed her and she kissed me…"
Hercules had told his father what Merlin had said, and rather than releasing Hades from the Isle, he ordered the other gods to volunteer to do Hades' job. By sharing the job, Zeus didn't have to worry about some other job not getting done.
That was the plan at least. It was until each god or goddess arrived back to Olympus screeching how they would never return to the Underworld ever again, no matter how much Zeus threatened or bribed them—hours before their shift was supposed to be over.
Aphrodite had lasted not even two minutes; she was barely in the boat on the River Styx before she felt cold, clammy hands pulling on her dress. Demeter hadn't even gone at all, citing that she would be crippled in the Underworld due to her powers, and Dionysus and Apollo argued the same. Poseidon lasted a bit longer, but then got depressed by the souls in the river, saying it wasn't right. Hermes lasted the longest, right until he started looking for the paperwork to fill out and found a bunch of bats in one of the cabinets.
Hera gave him a look that dared him to tell her to go down there. Artemis was refusing to speak to him after her stint, Hephaestus claimed he had a heavy work load, and Athena and Ares were nowhere to be found. He was running out of option as the minor gods and goddesses were nowhere strong enough to handle the job, and Zeus certainly wasn't going to volunteer. What was the point in being the King of the Gods if he couldn't delegate a lesser god to do something he didn't want to?
Fearing no other option, he resorted to paying a visit to the Fates, creepy though they were. How Hades managed to deal with them or remember their names was beyond Zeus.
"We know why you're here," said the one who currently had the eye, her strand of hair sticking out from the side of head.
The closest one to her plucked it out of her hand and put it into her own eye. "And what you fear the most in the world is true, only Hades can do his job. If he fails to do so, the entire world is doomed."
"Dooomed,"drawled out the last, and held up a pair of scissors in Zeus' face. "Do you have any idea how annoying it is not to be able to cut?"
The one who had the eye originally took it back from the middle sister. "Poor Atropos hasn't been this distressed since she was unable to cut your son's thread."
"Dooomed," repeated the one apparently called Atropos, and made a scramble for the eye, which popped out of the clutches of the first one, causing all three to make a grab for it.
Zeus sighed and put his head in his hands. Sometimes being the King of the Gods really sucked.
Pain was tugging on his sleeve, and Hades glanced down and growled at him. "What?"
"Sorry to bother you, Your Deadliness, but there's someone you should see," groveled Panic.
Hades sat up in the lounger, and removed his sunglasses. Standing there before him was Boy Wonder, looking just as uncomfortable as he did when he first showed up in the Underworld a few weeks ago.
"I'm here to take you back," he said quietly.
Hades put his left hand around his ear and leaned forward. "Sorry, didn't catch that."
Hercules cleared his throat and spoke a little louder. "I'm here to take you back."
"Sorry, still didn't hear you."
"I'M HERE TO TAKE YOU BACK," shouted Hercules, drawing the attention of every villain nearby, causing them to flock to the scene where the hero and his villain was located.
"Why didn't you just say so?" replied Hades, sitting back in his lounge chair and watching Hercules turn bright red as he realized the scene he had just caused, and the attention he was now getting. "Thanks for the offer kid, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to say no."
Hercules blinked at Hades. No? Hades was on the Isle of the Lost, the place where every villain was trying to escape. The King and Queen had even insisted on sending other heroes and guards with Hercules in case the other villains tried to overtake him and get on the boat he had arrived on, and Hades was saying no?
"Nope," Hades replied, popping the word. "I'm enjoying my vacation too much."
"But, but…" stuttered Hercules, who was still in shock, "you have to come back! The world needs you!"
By this point, Jafar, Maleficent, the former queen, and other villains who had made the deal had gathered close by to watch. "Why should I trust you? May I remind you what happened the last time?"
"I'm sorry about that, I didn't know he was going to go back on his word. Please come back, I'll do whatever you want!"
Hades tipped his head thoughtfully, and tapped his chin like he was thinking it over. "Well if you're going to beg…" He used the moment to look over at the group of villains who were no doubt in shock at the sight of a hero groveling to a villain, and promising him a boon.
After spending a few seconds and deciding he had let the Boy Wonder dangle long enough he responded. "I suppose I could go back. You hear that boys? Pack up, we're going home!"
Pain and Panic groaned since that meant having to carry back everything on the boat since it wouldn't fit back into the luggage due to the magic still not working; Hercules was grinning from ear to ear; and the villains looked absolutely gob smacked, never believing in a million years that Hades would actually win the bet.
All in all, Hades considered it a pretty good vacation.
"Like a fellow once said…"
Hades groaned as he saw the stack of paperwork before him waiting to be filled out, and the long line of souls outside his window waiting to be sent to their afterlives.
Maybe he should have made Wonder Boy grovel just a bit longer. Nutmeg was clearly with him for his brawn rather than his brains, which he had obviously inherited from his yutz of a father. Nutmeg would have realized she was being set-up in a heartbeat. Wonder Boy didn't, and now he was outside walking and doing pooper-scooper duty with Cerebus for the next six months, which was probably as long as it was going to take him to catch up on his paperwork.
At least he could do it in the knowledge that there was a worse job in the Underworld he could be doing. While thinking optimistically, he noticed that all his special little gifts had been disturbed, no doubt from the gods Bolt Boy had ordered to replace him. Maybe he should have the boys tidy up more often, one never knew when one might have unexpected and uninvited guests.
"Do you want us to start tracking down the items in the book Your Ghastliness?" offered Panic.
"I appreciate the initiative, but not today boys, I have another job for you. Find out Demeter's daughter's name, and whether or not she enjoys picnics by the River Styx."
"Ain't that a kick in the head?"