Battle Scars

The team attempts to try to trap Cronus, but when it all goes awry, Colbie is the only one left standing.


1. Battle Scars

“Careful with the amulet, guys.  You break it ” A girl no older than seventeen was cut off in the middle of her sentence.  She was dressed in ratty old jeans, a dark grey tank-top and hiking boots.  Her black hair blew in the early evening’s cool breeze.  A boy approximately her age hung the talisman on the second lowest tree branch.

            “– We buy it.  I get it, Colbie,” the boy replied.  He was a few inches taller than Colbie’s five foot ten, and his purple hair was spiked.  He grinned in spite of her foul attitude.  “We break it, it’s nap time for all of us.  I was just kidding about what I said earlier.”

            Colbie sighed.  “I know, Archie,” she said, turning her gaze to the watercolor sky.  She hoped the trap worked this time.  All previous attempts to capture Cronus resulted in his escape.  She hated it . . . the Titan never let her get close enough to wound him.  Her prophecy called for his wounding.  She needed him out of her life.  Cronus caused her enough trouble just by making an appearance.  It was agony to try to develop a trap strong enough to hold him, let alone prevent him from escaping.

            Trying isn’t good enough, she reminded herself bitterly.  It has to work this time.  He has to be gone.

            The leader of their group – Jay – seemed to know what she was thinking.  “It’ll work this time,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders to bring her out of her thoughts.  “With Theresa using visions to convince him the amulet is the key to his success, he can’t refuse.  Don’t worry about it.”

            Colbie smiled at him ruefully.  “It better,” she replied, “otherwise I’d go crazy.”

            Just as she spoke, the narcissistic blond – Neil – she’d grown to work with tripped over a stray root.  His hands flailed as he fell, the fingers on his right hand catching the pendant by its charm.  Both Neil and the amulet hit the ground, the pendant breaking as it landed.

            Neil stood after a few seconds, looking down at himself.  “I can’t believe my luck,” he groaned, brushing small pieces of grass off his black and white T-shirt.  “This is silk!  I can’t believe it’s –”

            Neil never had the chance to finish his sentence.  No one spoke as the nine heroes stared at the remains of the amulet, at the nearly transparent white clouds rising from it.

            Those white clouds were that of a knock-out gas Odie prepared weeks ago.  He’d made it strong enough that it would be able to cause a Titan to lose consciousness.

            Cronus wasn’t just a Titan.  He was the Titan king.  He was more powerful than the rest of his siblings.

            One by one, her friends started falling to the ground around her:  First, Neil, considering he was the closest, then Herry, Archie, Atlanta, J.D, Odie, Theresa, and, finally, Jay.  To Colbie’s astonishment, the sleeping gas had no effect on her.  Jay’s full weight on her nearly knocked her off her feet.  Careful not to harm him in the process, Colbie lowered him to the ground.  She stood after she set him down.  She was alone with no reinforcements if things went wrong.

            In the silence – excluding the chirping of birds and crickets – she heard footsteps approach.  Colbie knew by the approaching sound of feet hitting the ground in a constant manner she would be facing the enemy, and soon.

            “I would think, considering you’re mortal, you’d be joining them, my lovely blood traitor,” a deep, menacing voice said conversationally.  That voice made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.  She clenched her fists.  She wouldn’t let her fear get the best of her.

            “Yeah, well, being your descendant sure has its perks, Cronus,” Colbie retorted, whirling around to face the Titan.

            Cronus stood four inches taller than a regular six feet.  His high cheekbones, hooked nose, scar on his left cheek, facial hair and blood red eyes gave him a nearly cruel expression as he smiled at her.  His combed back black hair had three grey patches – one almost making an arrow pointing to his forehead, the other two just beside his temples.  He wore a black business suit – like he had when he first came across her – and a ring on his left hand.  He radiated power, like only a god would.  To Colbie, the god of time was a living nightmare.

            He tsked in response as he shrugged and lean back almost lazily.  He held out his right hand and, with the brief flare of a fire ball, Cronus summoned his scythe.  The curved golden blade almost glowed in the light of the setting sun.  “Do I detect sarcasm?” he asked.  Cronus knew full well Colbie hated him.  She viewed being the descendant of the Titan king as being a slap in the face.  Of course, she’d say something like that only to offend him.  He never let that get to him.

            She would give in eventually . . . he thought.

            Colbie contemplated the Titan with a cold expression.  “You, of all Titans, should know that,” she answered icily, drawing her celestial bronze knife.  Colbie knew what was coming.

            Cronus slapped her with such a force that Colbie was knocked into a nearby tree.  She slumped to the ground, only to get up quickly.  The first blow he delivered by scythe was caught on the hilt of her knife.  Her arms trembled as she him in check, held him back from cutting her throat.  They were at a standstill.

            After moments of staring each other, Cronus dislodged his blade and slashed at her.  Unfortunately for Colbie, her counteraction was delayed, and she’d been wounded.  She screamed in pain, fell to her knees, and clutched where she was cut.  He’d cut across her bicep, just deep enough to draw blood.  She glared at him.  She couldn’t cry in front of Cronus . . . he’d kill her.

            Cronus bowed to her mockingly.  “It was a pleasure fighting you, my dear,” the Titan king sneered.  His eyes held a murderous glint that only a Titan could master.

            “Screw off,” Colbie spat.  She winced as she applied pressure to the wound.

            With a snap of his fingers, one of the portals he was infamous for escaping through appeared.  He surveyed the scene before him before he stepped through the portal’s starry background.  It disappeared soon after he was fully engulfed in it.

            Colbie heaved an infuriated sigh.  Cronus escaped again!  She stared at where Cronus stood mere seconds before she stood and tended to her injury.

            Once upon a time, Colbie was a typical teenage girl.  She’d grown up a faithful Christian.  Her father was too cautious when it came to her interactions with boys, and her mother was always there for her.  Her brother was kinder than most, and she was bonded tightly with demigods of the Olympians.  She wasn’t completely blind to the fact Greek mythology was real, seeing for the first time in her life in August 2011, at age fifteen, the hideous harpies roaming the back alleys of the streets she walked on a regular basis.

            Who would’ve thought she’d become a target for Cronus?

            He’d stalked her three days before he officially made contact with her.  She’d simply dismissed it as a coincidence that someone was walking her streets seconds after her.  People did that in the city she’d lived in before coming to New Olympia.  Strangers always walked the streets of Minot after she was home.

            Back then, Cronus wanted her as his queen.  He still did, only he was rougher now.  He nearly killed her a few times because she’d sided with his enemies, because she’d fallen in love with Enemy Number One . . . Jay.

            She often hoped Cronus would never suspect her relationship with Jay, and that he would leave Jay alone when she’d willingly offered her neck in a life or death situation.

            Colbie Alison Mangas represented balance, much like the goddess Nemesis.  She became the perfect blend of both good and evil . . . her temper as volatile as the Titan king’s, her urge to save someone in trouble just as strong.  Her innocence was her strong point.  Trying to maintain that innocence, however, was her Achilles heel.

            She gasped as she applied the antibiotic ointment to her wound.  Jay was better at this than her.  She could barely stand to look at her wound, let alone tend to it.  Jay was wide awake to take care of it in all previous battles that resulted in injury.  As he would look after her wounds, she’d care for his.

            She finished rubbing the salve into her wound, and pulled out gauze.  She wrapped it around the wound as best as she could with one hand, and tied it by using both her teeth and her good hand to pull it tight.  By then, her friends started waking up.  Colbie heaved a sigh and turned to look at the darkening sky, sitting down cross-legged.  She was beginning to doubt herself.  The war was draining her.  Her back was turned to the others.

            Jay pressed a hand to his forehead as he sat up.  Who would’ve seen that coming?  His head couldn’t stop throbbing.  The sound of crickets singing in the background was agony.  He watched the others wake.

            “Is everyone all right?” he asked once he was sure his team was awake and sitting up.

            “Yeah, I think so,” Archie murmured.  The rest acknowledged their agreement by either nodding or repeating what Archie said.

            “What about Colbie, Jay?” Herry – the tallest and strongest one of the team – asked.  He was already standing, gesturing toward the girl who was sitting cross-legged with her back turned.

            Jay stood.  “I’ll talk to her, okay?” he replied.  Without a backward glance, he walked over and took a seat next to her.

            “Nice night, huh?”  It was his way of trying to get her to talk.  She wouldn’t answer a direct inquiry about previous events right off the start.  She’d talk when she was ready.

            Colbie nodded wordlessly.  Her most recent battle scar stung, and she was scared that, if she opened her mouth, she’d scream again.

            “You okay?” Jay asked.  When she didn’t answer the most casual of questions, he had reason to worry.  It wasn’t like her to do that.

            “I’m fine.”  Her voice sounded strained, like she was trying hard not to cry.  “Just a minor cut . . . no biggie.”

            “No, you’re not.”  He moved to sit in front of her, noticing the crudely tied bandage on her arm.  He untied it, only to recreate a better version of it.  “That’s some cut, Colbie.  What happened to you?”

            Colbie sighed and explained what she endured after the effects of the sleeping gas got to them.  She talked about how she tried to keep from getting wounded, and how she started to doubt herself.  She’d faltered when she said her innocence was her weakness.

            Jay shook his head.  He knew, better than anyone else that was present, the negative impact Cronus had.  He knew all too well the doubts she told him about.

            “I don’t know what to do about Cronus anymore, Jay,” she concluded, hanging her head.  It nearly broke his heart to see her scared like that.

            He set both his hands on her shoulders.  “It’s okay, Colbie.  Half the time, even I don’t know what to do about him.  The best thing you can do is cope,” Jay replied.

            Colbie shook her head.  Jay was right, of course.  He was always right when it came to basic psychology.

            “I’m the weak link,” she argued weakly.  “Like Neil said years ago, I can’t kill a Titan.  I’m the bait of some complicated trap.”

            He tilted her head slightly, just so she was looking at him.  “Don’t say that.  You’ve been great over the past years.  You did what you could,” he countered firmly.  “You’re the closest link we have to Cronus.  You read him better than the rest of us.”

            “And you?  What am I to you?  You’re the leader, Jay.  I’m not.”  Her ice blue eyes were sad.

            Jay touched her bandaged section of her arm.  He was careful enough to not cause her pain.  After a long silence, he answered, “You’re everything to me, Colbie.”

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