War made sense to him, once. Blades and arrows, guts and glory—war was something glorious, something powerful. Men were made legends, heroes, warriors.
Now the sounds of bombs and bullets keep him up at night. Now he cannot sleep, for every missile strike takes innocent lives and war has become something he no longer understands. This isn’t war, he thinks. This is slaughter. There are no heroes here.
Generals who would once have commanded their men from the battlefield now rest comfortably in plush offices. Archers sit behind screens, directing merciless machines against helpless enemies. Gas permeates the air, choking any who come near. The dead never know the eyes of those who killed them, save those who are taken from their homes by fanatics with guns. Eris strides the fields of war now, cackling, watching cities burn beneath her stride.
His family doesn’t understand. They think he would be proud. They think he is to blame. They congratulate and resent him, in turns, for the way his domain has spread. But what was once his domain is no longer.
He longs for the days when war was something sacred, something special, instead of this endless, faceless butchery. Yes, men died horribly in those days as well, but at least they had a chance. A chance to prove themselves, to rise above their station, to become as unto demigods.
They’ve made killing to easy, these mortals. Now it happens at the push of a button.
He cannot eat without the taste of smoke. He cannot close his eyes without visions of slaughter. He wonders what it would be like to be Aphrodite, to be love instead of murder. Or Hephaestus. How clever these mortals be. How much they make. He’d like that, to inspire men and women to make new things, shiny monuments to their own brilliance.
Then he remembers The Bomb, and how Hephaestus cried when they used it.
Hermes, perhaps. The internet is such a wonder, worldwide communication at an instant. Pranks and memes and theft on a scale that leave the young god bloated, and even grand Athena bows to his mastery of information. But Hermes runs free no longer—he sits behind a screen, waiting for his information to come to him.
Athena, his old adversary, barely understands. She knows the generals. The tactics, the strategies, the goals and the movements. She does not know the common soldier.
Ares is beginning to suspect that he does not either.