"Where is the wisdom in what you have done, little sister," Ares replied, emphasizing the word, since he was the eldest, no matter what she might say otherwise. He had never been his father's favorite, but he had not come here to ask for favors or forgiveness. He had only come because of Becky and to once and for all settle matters between himself and his sister. He put up his sword as Athena turned away from him, listening as their mother came to his defense.
Though he had once wronged her, as he'd wronged his sister, he had asked her forgiveness and they had at last reconciled. Why, then, could Athena not forgive the wrongs of the past? Did she hate him so much that she had grown to revel in causing him shame and dishonor among his own kind?
"Why is it you hate me so, sister? Is it that I was born first and you came after, always trying so hard to best me? Or is it because I did not always agree to your every whim and fancy? What crime is it that I committed to so earn your hatred? I would truly like to know, so that we can put an end to this dispute between us once and for all."
The look in Athena's eyes was pure venom as she turned her head to Ares. "How can you not know?" she asked him in turn, her voice flat with dull dislike and jealous hatred. "There they stand. Your father, your mother. Around us, your brothers and sisters. Born of love, all of you. All but me, who was born of our father's paranoia and jealousy. He has measured me against you all our lives, Ares. He held me down to give you the freedom to make your choices. Hades offered me Olympus." She looked around at the staring faces, knowing she had burned too many bridges now. "So kill me. Because I will never stop hating you all for what I have been denied. Never."
For a God who had once been detested as a spoiled and hot-headed purveyor of violence, the Ares the Olympians saw before them today was very different from the Ares they had once known. In light of his sister's confession, instead of anger and rage, he felt only sympathy and compassion. Though he was in all truth the first and rightful son of Zeus and Hera, it was Athena his father had always favored. Why Athena should hate him for that, he did not understand, but he was starting to see that it was simple jealousy that was the real source of her hatred and nothing more.
"No matter what you think, you are my sister, and you will not die by my hand." He turned to face their father, spreading his arms wide in supplication. "Father, I would ask that you grant your daughter mercy. I, who was consumed with hatred for so long, have come to see the error of my ways. I would ask that Athena, too, be given the chance to ponder on her deeds and make recompense. Enough blood has been shed, and I do not wish to mourn my sister's death, along with that of my uncle."
A murmur of shock and surprise ran through the gathered Olympians at Ares' petition. The man they thought they knew would have cut Athena down without a second thought for her words, and yet here he was, asking for mercy on her behalf. Zeus raised his head, his expression dark with anger and pain. "Your words are wise, my son," he said heavily, and for perhaps the first time, there was genuine sentiment behind that epithet. Drawing in a slow breath, the father of the gods considered his options, of which there were very few. "Poseidon, my brother ... I would hear your thoughts."
Unnoticed by many until that moment, Poseidon straightened from where he knelt beside the body of Hades, turning to look at the company gathered there. He held no love for Ares, it was true, but neither did he care for Athena. His was an impartial voice here, one who disliked both sides in equal measure. "Banishment," he intoned, his own voice weighted with the sounds of the sea he loved so well. "Banishment to the mortal plane, to live out a mortal life where she can no longer threaten the humans we all care for. Let their laws deal with her if she breaks them, and let not one of us raise a hand in vengeance."
Panic spread across Athena's face at this pronouncement, her eyes turning to Zeus imploringly. "No, Father, please," she pleaded. "Don't send me away."
As focused as he was on his sister and her plight, Ares hardly noticed the reactions of those around him, unconcerned for now what any of them thought but for those who stood in a place of power. "Father," he beseeched Zeus further, not quite realizing the irony in his father's decree, which bestowed the same punishment on Athena that had once been bestowed upon him. "I would humbly ask that my sister be entrusted to Clotho for now, so that she can learn the ways of mortals," he suggested. Being mortal was no easy task for an Olympian who would have to learn how to survive in the human world without the use of her immortal powers.
"I have tasted the mercy of Ares, and I thrive because of it," Clotho added her voice to his. "I will gladly take Athena into my home and teach her to live as a human. What she does with my teachings will be her own concern."
There was a long pause as Zeus weighed the words given to him. "Let it be done."
He raised his hand, and with a screech of pathetic fury, Athena was stripped of everything that made her Olympian. Her powers, her immortality, even her weapons ... gone. She trembled, genuine fear in her eyes as she looked around at so many faces that now despised her.
"Let the name of Athena be struck from our records," Zeus intoned. "Let her live out a mortal life, a human, one of us no more. Should death find her swiftly, let no vengeance be taken on the one who gives it if they be human. And should it come to pass that she be used by heaven or hell for their own machinations, let it be known that the might of Olympus shall obliterate that plane in answer for such a crime." This was clearly aimed at Gabriel and Crowley, who had been somewhat sidelined by Ares' arrival in the first place. The archangel wasn't stupid enough to interfere, but no one quite knew how far the demon would go. "She is entrusted to Clotho, to learn the ways of humanity. After that, her life is her own. She is no longer our concern." He waved his hand, and both Clotho and Athena disappeared, undoubtedly sent back to Clotho's home on Earth.
Ares was frowning, as if he found Athena's punishment almost as unbearable as his own had once been. He had suffered through centuries - millennia, even - of banishment, separated from family and home. He hoped with all his heart that Athena would come to her senses far earlier than he had and that she would beseech their father for mercy and forgiveness before it was too late, but he would not speak another word of it to his father, who had already proclaimed her fate.
"I would ask your leave, Father, than I may take Becky home to those who care for her," he said, spreading his arms and bowing his head respectfully. "I would ask, though, that I might return to pay my respects to my uncle before he is laid to rest."
Zeus merely nodded, his head in his hands where he sat on his throne. Hera touched his silver hair, raising her eyes to her son. "Take her to those who love her," she told him. "And return. It will not be long before we give your uncle to the stars."
Ares' gaze darted briefly to that of his father, knowing he had unintentionally brought him grief once again. Would he hate him for it, or grow to understand why Ares had acted as he had? He backed away from the dais, dropping a nod to his mother before turning to retrieve his sword, which disappeared at his touch. He then went to the young woman who was as still as death but only sleeping, and took her into his arms with surprising gentleness for one who was known for his warlike demeanor.
"Thank you, Father, and I am sorry." And with that said, Ares and Becky departed Olympus for Greece.