From there, the discussion was relatively straightforward. Everyone agreed that letting the world know was the best next course of action, and interrupting the United Nations was the likely best way to at least get everyone’s attention. “We’re also going to get shot at,” Athena said, her lips curled in a frown.
“Well, if we know they’re shooting, we can cover it, right?” Ryan asked. “Even from ichor rounds? I know they’ll wreck our shit if they hit us-” Ryan reflexively rubbed his jaw before continuing “-but if we can keep barriers up, we’ll be covered.”
“We’ll burn through a chunk of power,” Anansi said, scratching his beard. “Perhaps we should neutralize the weapons first? Then just be ready for if they attack?”
“We should absolutely do that,” Crystal said. “Otherwise, if Kali decides to show up, we’ll be bloody exhausted for the fight.”
That possibility drew the conversation for a pause. “I…honestly hadn’t considered Kali showing up,” Ryan said.
“Wasn’t it your idea to use the media to draw out Enki?” Dianmu asked.
Ryan flushed instead of speaking his response.
“I think we’ll be alright in that regard at least,” Athena said. “Kali’s stated goal is for you to trigger the end of the world in a more traditional manner, yes? We’ll just need to be careful about how long we stay after we announce the plan.”
“Still, maybe Cassandra and I should wait to retrieve Horus,” Arachne said, frowning.
“No,” Ryan and Dianmu said in unison. Ryan let Dianmu continue. “After my last encounter with one, I’m very certain the last thing we need would be a newborn anthropophage on the loose.”
“Agreed,’ Ryan said. “Athena, do you think you could get us security for this event?”
“You mean the Olympians?” Athena said. “I’m sure I could. Artemis is fully committed to our cause. For that matter, Crystal, could you bring in Resheph and the Canaanite pantheon? Those that Moloch didn’t kill do owe their lives to us.”
“I’ll try, loves, although I can’t promise I’ll be able to pull it off. They’re somewhat leery of taking any risks.” Crystal shrugged. “Can’t say I fully blame them, although it would be nice of them to remember that if they don’t take risks and we fail, they’re going to end up without a world to call home. It’d get boring quickly to spend all their time in Shadu.”
“Which reminds me,” Isabel said. “We should probably be ready for other pantheons. Now that Olympus is on our side, they won’t be able to ignore there’s going to be a…Theo-mecha-”
“Theomachy, love.” Crystal corrected absently.
“Right, that. Now that there’s no ignoring a full on Theomachy is brewing, they are going to have to step in, right?”
“You’re not wrong,” Anansi said after a pregnant pause. “We should be on guard. I cannot say where the others will fall.”
“We can’t plan for everything,” Ryan said. “We’ll have the Olympians and possibly the Caananites providing security. Even with the staff of Ra, that should be enough to cover us if things go belly up. Unless she brings a larger force…but if we assume she could do that, I might as well just end the world the way she wants because we’ve already lost.”
That statement certainly had a sobering effect on the room. Not that the atmosphere was particularly bright and happy to begin with, Ryan thought. “Look, I know we had a setback. But I really think we can pull this off. We’ve faced worse than this before, right?”
“Kind of,” Crystal said. “Ryan, love, it’s Kali we’re dealing with this time.”
“Pretend I’ve been a god for a couple months and tell me what that means?” Ryan asked.
“Kali is a destroyer goddess.” Crystal said. “You know how some gods work a bit differently? Proteans are master shapeshifters, Tricksters have a gift for illusions, storm goddesses can command storms much more easily, war gods are a bit stronger and faster, that sort of thing, death gods have the power from their underworlds, that sort of thing? Well, guess what a Destroyer is better at than pretty much anyone else?”
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume it’s not hugging,” Ryan said, sinking into his seat. He’d only been vaguely aware that was true – he’d assumed things had worked the other way. But when he thought about it, it did fit what he’d seen so far. No one he’d seen fought quite like Crystal or Athena, Dianmu was in a league of her own when it came to lightning…and he’d heard about proteans
“No. No, it is not. Her destructive potential is far beyond what most gods are capable of. She can hit harder than anyone with twists, and that was before she had the staff of Ra. I wouldn’t have looked forward to fighting her at her normal strength.”
“Wait,” Isabel said. “When we fought, she was mostly shapeshifting.”
“She was toying with you,” Dianmu said, not unkindly. “She could have ended that fight at any moment, but she wanted to test your strength – and I suspect also wanted to make sure she didn’t kill you by accident.”
“Well, damn.” Isabel rubbed her nose. “Do I…do I even have a snowballs chance in hell of killing a god one on one?”
“You could get very lucky,” Anansi said.
Isabel made a strangled sound.
“So…what do we do?” Ryan asked.
“We need to be on guard. We need to be extra careful. If she gets the drop on any one of us, we’re in serious trouble. If we can make it a group fight, we can even the scales. And we try to get the bloody staff from her hands.” Crystal shrugged. “That’s really all I can think of. Just…sorry, this isn’t a ‘we’re all doomed’ scenario. Just that we can’t get flippant. Kali’s smart, too, so we can’t count on her making stupid mistakes like Enki did. She’s not arrogant, so she wouldn’t make a mistake as big as Moloch did. We need to be careful, we need to be smart.”
Ryan nodded. “Isabel, you should probably stay back. Run the drones for surveillance.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Isabel said.
“No, I mean it,” Ryan went on. “The risk is too high. You turn into animals, you don’t have a way to…” his ears finally caught up with his brain. “Wait, what?”
“You’re right, Ryan.” Isabel didn’t even look bitter or angry. She looked, if anything, relieved. “I nearly died fighting Kali. There’s not much I can add, not unless there’s monsters you need squishing. I can turn into a sauropod and rumble over a big army, but against gods…I’m out of my weight class. And that’s okay.”
Ryan didn’t try to hide his own relief. “So…is there anything else we need to do?”
No one suggested anything.
“Alright. Arachne and Cassandra are going to free Horus. I’ll go with Athena to talk to the Olympians. Dianmu, would you mind going with Crystal to speak with the Caaninites?” Dianmu gave him a thumbs-up. “Awesome. Anansi and Isabel, can you get us somewhere near the UN building for us to operate out of and set up the drones again? I’d like to be ready for if anything pops up.” They both nodded. “Perfect. Nabu, I’d like you to scout out some locations for us to open the first set of wormholes. The better prepared we are, the less likely this is to go badly. And do what you can to stay off Kali’s radar, everyone.”
And with that, there was nothing more to do.
After all this, it was time to begin the apocalypse.