This is part of a series shared with B. W. (also known as Blair Witch). Read their other stories! The Crossover series is written by us both, alternately.
Hercules fumed. The cave was strewn with monster parts, he had lost nearly half his army, and Meg still hadn’t shown up. It had been only a couple days, but it was a couple days of fighting off his own soldiers and only assets in the brewing war. The only ones who survived the brawl had run off into the woods. Cowards. Maybe smart cowards, seeing as they were the only ones left alive besides Hercules, Aella and one loyal Hydra.
Monsters were mindless and filled only with the desire to fight, to kill. They didn’t take orders well. They had rebelled against Hercules- a few dozen against one man. But that one man was the Hercules. They never stood a chance. With nothing else to do, he buried some of the monsters in the crater of a Chimera’s footprint, more to cover the impending smell and less out of respect.
“What’ll you do without an army?” Aella asked. She sat at the mouth of the cave, watching him shovel dirt over the bodies with his shield. Her brow was furrowed like she was deep in thought. Hercules ignored her, but continued to sneak glances at the girl to make sure she didn’t escape. She fiddled with the bonds on her wrists. They were, of course, magic. She couldn’t get out of them on her own, and wouldn’t be able to run. She caught him looking over and glared.
“I still have half my army. The rest are in position.”
As if he would tell her. Hercules rolled his eyes.
“I guess that makes good war sense,” Aella said. “You didn’t want my camp to slaughter them all, did you?”
Teeth gritted, Hercules pointed at her with his shield. “Keep running your mouth, and you’re sleeping on the monster grave.”
That shut her up. But he’d make her sleep out here anyway.
Later that day, Hercules heard the shout. He wasn’t surprised to hear Meg’s voice ringing through the cave, but he was surprised to feel a jolt of hope. It had felt good to be with his son. If Meg was here to join him…
But no. At the mouth of the cavern, Meg was with two companions- the girl with wings and Bellerophon’s son, Blake. All three had swords out. Hercules felt a pang of regret, but he quickly brushed it away.
“Where’s Aella?” Meg asked him.
He ignored that. “Meg, what are you doing?”
“I’m standing up to you.”
“You don’t want to do that.”
“Yes, I do.” Meg hesitated, glancing back into the cave. “Where’s the rest of your army?”
“I sent them ahead to a meeting place for our next attack. I stayed here in case…” Hercules shrugged. “Well. I’d hoped you’d join me.”
“Where is Aella?” Blake demanded. “What’d you do with her?”
Hercules held up one finger and backed into the cave. His sword lay on a slab of stone. Slipping it in his scabbard, he yelled Aella’s name as he journeyed deeper into the cavern. The girl sat in a dark corner, the only light coming from the dimly glowing rope around her wrists. “Your friends came. Let’s go.”
She only glared at him.
“Oh, right.” He tore the cuffs off her hands. She stood, rubbing her wrists.
“You’re going to let me go?”
“Come on.” He turned and walked out of the cave, Aella running ahead. He emerged from the cave to see her standing with her friends, glaring at him.
“We brought you your spear,” Blake said, hugging Aella. He handed her a long silver weapon. She thanked him, but barely looked at Meg. He stared at the ground.
“Are Arren and Lia at camp?” Aella asked the girl with wings.
“Yeah, but they’ll be-”
“So what exactly do you plan to do?” Hercules asked loudly. The kids fell silent. He looked at Meg. “I won’t give up on you yet. You can still help me.”
Meg hesitated. “No.”
“Please.” Hercules hated the emotion in his voice, hated that he cared at all. But he didn’t want to leave Meg behind- not unless he had to.
“Dad.” Meg’s voice was hoarse. “No. I’m sorry I helped you before. Never again.” He swallowed. “You’re not fit to rule.”
A storm clenched inside him- some poisonous blend of rage, betrayal, and maybe even sadness. “And the gods are?”
“I don’t know, honestly- but you tried to hurt people. My friends. All for power you didn’t even need. So I’m sorry, Dad. But I’m not letting you get away with this.” A tear trailed down Meg’s cheek, but he didn’t wipe it away. “If you surrender, the gods might let you live.”
Hercules gazed at Meg. The kid was crying. He tried to feel pity, or love, but the storm was rising. Anger was winning out. Rage was picking up speed.
“You didn’t plan this very well,” he said. “Four children with swords, with barely any training, asking me to surrender.”
“We’re not asking,” the tall boy, Blake, said. He edged in front of Meg. Aella did the same.
Hercules leveled his gaze at his son. “Is this where you stand?”
A quiet moment passed. Everyone waited for Meg’s answer.
“Yes,” he said. “I’m sure.”
Hercules gritted his teeth. “Fine,” he hissed. “If this is what you choose, I won’t try to convince you otherwise.” He reached for his sword, almost relishing the shock in the kids’ eyes. But he hadn’t even drawn his weapon when he was knocked down from behind, shoved into the monster grave.
The bark that followed seemed to shake his eardrums. He gasped for the breath he had lost, claws digging into his back.
He craned his neck, the side of his face grinding into the dirt and a mangled zombie limb. Three growling dog-heads glared at him.
“Hey,” he said weakly. “You know me, buddy. I’m Hercules, remember? Remember me?”
Each head cocked in confusion, and Hercules used that distraction to reach around his back and twist the paw. Cerberus let out a howl, sharp enough to break the leaves from the trees, while Hercules rolled out of the way. He drew his sword-
He slammed against the ground, his blade sliding away. Wolf claws stabbed into his chest. Canine fangs glistened inches from his face.
“Don’t move,” the wolf growled.
Aella knelt beside him and snapped the magic cuffs on his wrists. “Thanks, Lia. Did you contact our parents?”
“They’re on their way.”
“Perfect. And these cuffs are magic. They’ll keep him grounded here for as long as we need.”
“If you don’t let me go…” Hercules trailed off.
“You’ll what?” the wolf asked. She stepped back and morphed into a human. He had seen her during the battle- a shapeshifter.
He could barely move with the cuffs on. Any threats he made were empty.
He had lost.
A pale boy walked into his field of vision and took the wolf-girl’s hand. “You’ll need to fill me in on a lot of this,” he said, raising an eyebrow at Hercules.
“I’ll tell you later,” she replied. Aella was hugging Blake again, and another camper, one who looked familiar, was embracing the girl with wings. Only one kis was by himself.
“Meg!” Hercules rasped.
All went quiet. Hercules searched his son’s face for- he wasn’t sure what, exactly. Meg’s eyes were red and his nose was running, but he stood tall. His silence spoke for itself.
Aella took Meg’s hand. Blake took the other.
“Come on,” she said.
Leaning on his friends, Meg turned his back on Hercules. He walked away from his father.