Page 33

“Are you okay?” I asked.

Seth waved one hand. “Yeah, perfect.”

“So where is the army I’m to train?” Impatience filled Perses’ tone. “All I see are buildings and a few children of demigods peeking around corners. I hope they aren’t your warriors.”

I snorted. “No, they’re not. They’re students. Our army is trained. They’re—”

“Trained as Guards and hunters, right?” Perses chuckled mockingly, and I sort of wanted to see Apollo break out the dull blade. “They may be skilled when comes to hunting daimons, but are they skilled enough to fight?”

“They won’t be fighting Ares,” Aiden explained, earning an interested look from the Titan. “Ares is heavily guarded by mortal soldiers, daimons, and automatons.”

Perses’ brows knitted. “Your army should be able to defend themselves against two of them. The automatons would be a problem, but they’ll just have to be quicker. I do not see what you need me for.”

“As Sentinel and Guards, we’ve never tried to work together in groups larger than three or four. We were never trained on war tactics. And I need you,” I said, hating myself for having to say that. “I need you to prepare me for facing Ares. You have already seen how that went the first time.”

Seth’s eyes tightened. “You also have to prepare me to fight Ares.”

The likelihood of me letting Seth near Ares was right up there with me actually cooking myself a dinner that was edible. I opened my mouth, but Aiden jumped in.

“And I need to be trained on how to fight him as well.”

“Guys, the last time I checked, I was becoming the God Killer, which would make me pretty badass as it is. And with Perses’ training, I’m going to also be kickass.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t need back-up,” Seth retorted.

I wished he’d just go puke somewhere. I swallowed hard against the sick feeling leaking through the bond.

“And you’re not facing Ares alone,” Aiden added.

And I wished Aiden would go hold his hair for him.

Apollo rolled his eyes. “Children, really, Alexandria is a big girl and doesn’t need two boys rushing to defend her.”

I smiled broadly. “Exactly.”

Neither Aiden or Seth looked like they agreed, and the look Aiden sent me promised that we’d talk about this later. Oh, we would. He wouldn’t like the outcome. There was no way in holy Hades Aiden was getting within a city block of Ares.

Perses exhaled roughly. “I can spend the mornings training your army and the afternoons working with one or three of you. I really don’t care how many, but I can tell you this. Ares would’ve sensed my presence the moment I stepped into the mortal realm. He knows I’m here. He will be unnerved by it, but the longer we take, the more time he will have to rebuild his confidence or bring in more reinforcements. We attack immediately, within the week, or we lose our advantage. Because if you have spies, so does he.”

I glanced at Apollo. Perses had a point. We couldn’t string this out. We would need to move fast, but would we be ready? Would I be ready?

Apollo’s jaw tensed, and then he nodded curtly. “A week from now, on Monday, we move on the Catskills. We take on Ares.”

* * *

Training with Perses was like running into a brick wall, getting back up, and face-planting into it again just for the fun of it.

We’d started immediately with our training. Of course, Aiden and Seth took part. It was a waste of breath to try to convince them otherwise.

Just like when Seth and I used to train, we drew an audience of Sentinels, students, and staff. Word got out quickly that there was a Titan on campus, something that most people never thought they’d see. I couldn’t blame them for gawking. Among those crowded around the largest training room in the athletics building were my friends.

Which was great, because there was nothing like having friends and strangers around to watch you get your ass kicked.

And we were getting our asses kicked.

I’d hit the padded floor more times than I could count, taking turns with Seth and Aiden, who were doing no better than me.

It was Seth’s turn, and I eased myself down, biting my lip when my tailbone hit the mat. “I think I broke my butt,” I moaned.

Sitting beside me, Aiden reached over, rubbing his hand along my lower back. The touch ached at first, but the steady burn started to ease my muscles. “Yeah, that was a pretty nasty landing you took.”

It had started out so perfect. I’d gotten behind Perses, who, by the way, was weaponless, and had sprung up and spun out, about to land a beauteous spin kick when he whipped around and caught my leg, throwing me down like a rag doll.

My butt had broken my fall.

Seth was currently backed into a corner by Perses, dodging the Titan’s vicious strikes. In theory, we had a week to train before leaving for the Catskills. It was a twenty-three hour drive, and Marcus was currently rounding up a billion vehicles for the trip.

The army mostly needed standard tactical training, but us? We had to actually knock Perses down and gain the upper hand before our training would be complete. Sounded easy until I realized that Perses was like Ares on steroids. Either way, by Monday morning, we were leaving, prepared or not.

I glanced over toward the door. Deacon spotted my gaze and winked. I grinned at him, and my gaze moved on. Several pures were staring at Aiden and me. Apparently, a pure-blood touching my back was more shocking than a Titan kicking an Apollyon’s ass.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to the match in front of us.

Dipping under Perses’ outstretched arm, Seth came up behind the Titan, and just like I had, he prepared to deliver a vicious kick. Perses turned and dipped, catching Seth’s foot. Unable to keep his balance, Seth hit the mat on his side.

Perses tipped his head back and laughed. “Next.”

When one of us went down, it was the next one’s turn. Aiden dropped his hand and pushed himself up. Passing Seth on the mats, the two idiots exchanged smirks.

Seth dropped down beside me. I glanced at him. “I don’t know why you two are giving each other that ‘I’m superior’ look. Both of you are getting your asses kicked.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Doesn’t mean we have to hug it out.”

Turning my attention back to Aiden, I watched him beautifully execute an uppercut that did absolutely nothing to detour Perses’ brutal punch to the stomach. “You know this is pointless, right? Neither of you needs to be subjecting yourself to this. I’m going to become the God Killer. You won’t be fighting—”

“We will be fighting with you,” Seth argued, his voice low. He too watched Aiden and Perses. “Just because you’re the God Killer doesn’t mean you can go in there alone.”

“I won’t be.” I winced as Perses’ kick caught Aiden in the thigh. “I’ll be with Perses.”

“And that’s not really backup. Who knows what he’ll do in the end? You need someone there with you.” Seth leaned back, stretching out his legs. “And you and I both know Aiden would be a distraction.”

I clenched my jaw. “Aiden will not be with me.”

He snorted. “Does he know that?”

“He will.” I looked at him. “Seth, we need to talk about when we’ll transfer power.”

“That’s not what we’re talking about now. There’s no way I’m letting you go face-to-face with Ares with just Perses. It’s not going to happen, and I’m not going to argue with you. You’ll need me there to run interference, if anything,” he said, returning my stare. “Besides, we shouldn’t make the transfer until we’re in the Catskills.”

I opened my mouth, but Aiden hit the floor on his back and Perses yelled out, “Girl! Your turn!”

Sending Seth a quick glance, I pushed to my feet. “We’ll talk about this later.”

He arched a brow.

While passing Aiden on the mats, he reached over, tugged on the hem of my shirt, and then kept going. I stopped in front of the Titan, muscles locking up. Over at the door, Deacon whistled and shouted, “Show him what a girl is capable of!”

I took my eyes off Perses for a second to smile at Deacon, and that was all it took. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Perses’ hand zooming for my face. At the last moment, I dropped down. The speed in which Perses’ fist shot past my head, stirring wisps of my hair—gods. If that had connected with my head, he would’ve probably knocked me out cold.

“Never take your eyes off the opponent,” Perses said, chuckling.

How many times had Ares had said that when we knew him as Instructor Romvi? Nothing flipped my kill-and-maim switch like hearing those words.

I rolled forward and popped to my feet behind Perses. Spinning around, I dodged his second punch and dipped under his arm. I knew I was fast—faster than Aiden, who was like a freaking ninja, and faster than all other half-bloods. But Perses was like Ares. Fighting was bred into their blood. There was no one in this realm better than them. I could only hope to be their equal.

But I wasn’t Perses’ equal at the moment.

The second I shot up in front of him, he anticipated the move and kicked out, his booted foot connecting with my midsection. Pain exploded along my stomach, and I doubled over. His hand slammed into my shoulder, and I lost my balance. Toppling backward, I hit the mats on my back, hard.

Perses was suddenly in my face, looming over me. A smirk graced his lips. “God Killer or not, girl, he will own you if you fight like this. And as you know, he can’t kill you, but he can make you beg for death. Is that something you want to experience again?”

Anger burned through my veins like poison. “My name is not ‘girl,’ and no, that’s not something I want to experience again.”

The smirk slipped off his face. “Then get back up, girl.”

Meeting his stare, I rolled into a sitting position. Ignoring the slice of pain, I got back up.


By Wednesday, I was sure my entire back was an array of violets and blues. I was, literally, one giant walking-and-talking bruise. Aiden and Seth hadn’t fared any better. Last night, when Aiden and I had gone to bed, we’d been too sore and too tired to take off our pants.

Needless to say, Marcus had given up on the separate bedroom thing. Not that there was any point now. Neither of us could do anything even if our body parts touched.

The Army of Awesome was faring a lot better than us. Numbering near a thousand, they were learning basic tactical maneuvers. It was like the videos of boot camp I remembered seeing on TV. If anything, I think Perses was just trying to harden them instead of teaching them any real skills. He was worse than any Covenant Instructor I’d ever seen.

The Titan was a cesspool of insults.

Later that night, after a long soak in some kind of herbal mixture Laadan had provided, I sat on the bed, too tired to make my way back to the common area for food.

Thankfully, Aiden was possibly the most wonderful man in the whole universe. He brought a plate full of chicken tenders and fries to the room.