Athena threw out her hand and twisted Air, fire, and water. A superheated bubble floated from her hand and streaked towards the Scylla, slamming into her and bursting into a cloud of steam. The Scylla whirled to face Athena with an easy grace, dropping some of the arae she had clutched in her tendrils. She roared with unholy fury.
Instead of letting herself be distracted by the Scylla’s wrath, Athena threw more bubbles at the monster. None of them would be enough to even penetrate the Scylla’s hide – the goal was to maximize pain, nothing more.
It seemed to be working. The Scylla dove towards Athena, arms that ended in hands the size of Athena’s torso outstretched. Athena kicked upwards, her hands still outstretched to let loose a barrage of bubbles. Steam churned the water, pockets of gas forcibly collapsed by the pressure of the depths exploding into tiny bubbles that created a veil between the monster and the goddess.
The Scylla roared again, lunging with those massive hands to clutch blindly at Athena. It was far faster than its bulk indicated, striking with the speed of a shark. If he could see Athena, it would have had no problem wrapping its hand around Athena and snapping her like a twig.
Athena ducked under the next grasping hand as it came mere feet from her, kicking as strong as she could to escape the fingers as they closed. Any time now, Arachne, Athena thought, hoping her instincts about her former protegee weren’t wrong.
The Scylla’s hand closed around Athena’s ankle. Athena kicked frantically, trying to break that grip. The Scylla hissed in excitement, bringing its other hand forward to clutch at Athena’s waist.
Just as Athena was preparing to electrocute herself and the ocean around her before she would be torn in half, a blade of water shot from the depths and hit the thumb clutching at her leg. Scylla roared in pain as the appendage was cut loose, and Athena was able to kick out of the grasp. She glanced in the direction the water cutter had come from to see Arachne floating there, her hand outstretched.
Cutting it a little close, aren’t you? Athena thought. The Scylla was looking around for the source of that new attack, and Athena kicked a bit to gain some distance before it refocused on her. She opened her divine sight – and that’s when she saw what Arachne had been spending her time on while Athena had distracted the Scylla.
Dozens of those water blades had been woven in the water, arrayed in a mishmashed network around the Scylla and Athena, a constellation of deadly razors. Any individual one would not do much damage. Their cumulative effect…
Athena glanced back at Arachne. The goddess had grown gills on herself and they were working hard in the water. She’d been burning through a ton of power to create this many, enough where she was feeling her Hungers. Seeing Athena was watching, Arachne formed another water blade and rolled her hand at Athena – all but screaming “could you hurry up?”
That’s when Arachne’s plan became apparent. It was the same teamwork they’d used against the Typhon when exploring the ruins of Troy. Just as then, Arachne didn’t have the strength to defeat the monster. Athena still had far more raw power than Arachne.
So Arachne had given Athena an arsenal.
Athena reached out and grabbed onto threads of Water and Aether. It was the same principal she used for her hypersonic sword tosses, the same one she’d used to cut a hole in the Hecatoncheires all those weeks ago. Experimentally, she lashed one of the water blades and launched it at the Scylla.
The Scylla screamed as the blade punched into it and shot out the other side with the violence of a torpedo. Dark blood began to spill into the water.
It had accelerated to nearly two thousand kilometers per hour in a fraction of a second. The blade was moving so fast, it forced the water to supercavitation itself, so only the razor tip of the weapon was touching the surrounding water. The steam that formed from its passing had heated the water blade to the point where it would have boiled, if not for Arachne’s will holding it in place.
Will that Arachne had released upon impact, so the blade had cut into the Scylla before turning to a hypersonic, rapidly-expanding cloud of steam.
Athena began to whip her weaves around more and more of the blades, sending a constant hail sending towards the monster. The Scylla was able to resist or evade some, and others hit it in non-vital areas. But there were dozens, and Athena was relentless. Each time a blade struck the Scylla, Arachne released her will, and the violent expansion was like an explosion occurring beneath the Scylla’s skin.
The Scylla roared again, but the fury had faded. This war was full of pain and fear. Sight of the creature was lost behind the rapidly growing cloud of its own blood and viscera.
Athena didn’t cease the assault until the sounds had fallen silent. All sound did. God, monster, and other – all were staring at the cloud of the monster’s blood. Athena and Arachne had gone to engage a monster that had rampaged across the battlefield for hours, and in a under a minute had turned it to a bloody mess.
Arachne was nearly spent, and Athena was feeling her own Hungers strongly. It was usually a bad idea to burn through that much power so quickly. Athena and Arachne both would have to be very careful – Hungers overtaking you at any time was dangerous, but beneath the waves like this it would almost immediately be fatal. The pressure alone would crush her like a rotten fruit.
It was worth it. The plan required a display of power. Poseidon’s allies needed to know they had chosen the wrong side in this battle.
As she watched, Nereids began to appear among the distracted army. Athena smiled through the exhaustion already creeping into her bones. Time for the second phase, kicking towards Olympian battle lines.
She just hoped it would work.