Chapter 54:

Athena vs Menrva

Elyon - Gods among us

Moments earlier, with four hours remaining, Tania faced Sekhmet.

The goddess Athena looked surprised at Menrva, who blushed and covered her cheeks with her hands.

—I'm sorry, dear, but I don't have time to indulge in this. If you can show me the way to Areopagus, you would help me greatly, do you understand?— Athena said with a sarcastic smile.

—M-Miss Athena, I've always dreamed of something, and that is... to be you— Menrva said, still blushing.

—To be me?— Athena asked, puzzled.

—Yes, I want to be the new Athena. That means I must... defeat you first— Menrva continued, sounding apologetic.

—Eh?— Athena was taken aback by Menrva's words.

Menrva held her totema in her right hand. It took the form of a mirror with the image of an armed goddess depicted on it. The Etruscan goddess raised the mirror towards the sky and spoke: —Mi amu Menrvae, ad rathum fleren, quo trutnutha lacairut. Lauchuma, qui ituim pulumchva—

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck Menrva, causing all the soldiers to step back, distancing themselves from Athena as much as possible.

—Our lady will fight seriously— one soldier remarked.

—She'll never be able to defeat Menrva, our number one Keres— another soldier exclaimed.

Athena looked on, bewildered and amazed, as Menrva shimmered like a brilliant mirror.

When the light dissipated, Menrva had a golden helmet covering her head, shaped like a hat with two feathers protruding from the top. Her body was clad in a long crimson robe, and she wore an aegis similar to Athena's on her chest. In her right hand, which had held the mirror, she now held a golden spear crackling with electricity, still raised towards the sky.

—You know, Melina, you shouldn't aspire to be like me. You must create your own identity. Why don't we join forces and defeat Ares?— Athena proposed to Menrva.

—My name is Menrva, not Melina, Miss Athena— the Etruscan goddess corrected her.

—I'm terrible with names, Megan— Athena replied.

—Do you know how it feels when your heroine can't remember your name and says it wrong?— Menrva asked with a tearful face.

—That totema of yours, is it an aegis, by any chance?— Athena inquired, looking at Menrva's chainmail.

—Oh no, it's just an imitation, Miss Athena— Menrva replied apologetically.

—I suspected as much. There should only be two in this world: mine and the one my father carries— Athena stated.

—That's why I need to defeat you, Miss Athena. I've always dreamt of this moment, where I would bear your legendary aegis and the spear Erichthonius. I trained since I was a child to clash spears with you— the nervous Etruscan goddess responded.

—I think you have an obsessive fixation, Marlene— Athena replied.

—Menrva, it's Menrva. But how are you wielding the aegis? I heard that your totema was confiscated when your rebellion began— the Etruscan goddess asked.

—True, this is a totema that I created myself. It's comparable to a dead totema, but I managed to rescue the aegis when I escaped from Olympus— the Greek goddess replied.

—I see. I'm so happy because today I will finally know what it feels like to wield the aegis— the Etruscan goddess responded with a big smile.

—Alright, let's get this started— Athena replied, taking a boxing stance.

—Aren't you going to use your spear, Erichthonius?— Menrva asked as she also assumed a combat stance.

—I don't need it— the Greek goddess replied.

—I see that my Master underestimates me— Menrva said.

At that moment, the Etruscan goddess unleashed her divine power. An electric aura surged behind her as all the malakim cheered excitedly for their heroine.

Menrva shouted and leaped toward Athena, aiming her spear at her. However, to the surprise of Menrva and all the malakim, Athena evaded the attack. Just as Menrva passed in front of her, the Greek goddess delivered a hook to her stomach.

Menrva fell to the ground in pain, while the malakim who had been supporting her looked on with disbelief.

—You left several parts of your body exposed, Melissa— Athena said as she returned to her boxing stance.

—I knew my Master wouldn't be an easy opponent, but I'll show you how strong I am— Menrva said as she got up and retrieved her spear.

The Etruscan goddess shouted: —Unus Frontac!—. From her spear, she unleashed a massive wave of electric energy. Athena sidestepped to avoid the attack.

Just as Menrva finished unleashing her tremendous power, Athena appeared behind her and struck her ribs again. The shot collided with a mountain range, piercing it with a massive electric explosion.

—Discipline, constant training, knowing your weak points; that's what you lack to win— Athena said.

The Greek goddess maintained her boxing stance and looked at Menrva, who once again found herself kneeling on the ground, rubbing her right ribs in great pain.

—I will never give up!— Menrva shouted.

In that moment, the Etruscan goddess raised her spear and attempted to impale Athena's neck. But Athena evaded the attack by leaning her head back.

The Greek goddess seized the enemy spear and, using it as support, delivered an uppercut to the unprotected jaw of the defenseless Etruscan goddess, causing her vision to blur and fall backward onto the ground.

—I'm sorry, Medea, but you're no match for me. You would need another thousand years to come close to my level— Athena said, maintaining her combat stance.

The malakim were frightened. Ares' number one Keres couldn't do anything and was being hit over and over again. It was said that Menrva was so strong she could defeat the other Keres even if they fought against her together.

Using her spear for support, Menrva stood up once again. The goddess was panting, her breath slow and deep. Her eyes were filled with rage and anger because her Master, the goddess she admired the most, was underestimating her and not using anything but her fists.

—You don't have to humiliate me like this, Master Athena! Changing my name, treating this fight as a game. Do you know how miserable I feel right now?— Menrva shouted furiously.

—I have no moral obligation to make you feel good, Marta. I clearly told you:'I don't want to fight you'— the Greek goddess said calmly.

—This fight meant everything to me. I have lived only for this moment. Do you know how I feel now?!— Menrva screamed angrily.

The Etruscan goddess charged her golden spear with electricity, generating multiple lightning bolts that traveled all around, striking the ground and the mountains. Then she shouted: —Pulumchva Luri!—. However, all the shots were easily evaded by the Greek goddess.

—Then I'll show you one of my techniques— Athena said.

Blood began to drip from Athena's hands, and as it touched the ground, it burned it like acid. The Greek goddess then shouted: —Aíma gorgón!

With a quick movement of her right hand, the blood droplets were thrown at Menrva, who could only assume a defensive position. But upon contact with the goddess, the droplets exploded like bombs, pushing Menrva backward, burning her skin, and causing parts of her armor to break apart.

As the smoke dissipated, Athena returned to her combat stance but realized that Menrva had vanished, along with her presence. In that moment, the goddess appeared like a lightning bolt above Athena, placing her right hand on the Greek goddess's face.

—I always dreamed of seeing 'Aima gorgón' in action. It's impure blood of a tannin, isn't it? But I also have other tricks, like teleportation— the Etruscan goddess said with a smile as Athena looked at her in surprise.

Then Menrva shouted: —Unus Frontac!

A massive electrical explosion engulfed both goddesses, while the malakim cheered with joy and excitement. There was no way Athena could have avoided that attack.

But when the electricity dissipated, Menrva's hand was holding both of Athena's arms, which now had the peculiar feature of green and red snake-like bracers. To the surprise of Menrva and the malakim, Athena no longer wore her aegis.

—Impossible! When did you evade my attack?— Menrva shouted in astonishment.

—The aegis is a living armor, Melissa. It's the forged skin of a tannin, and it can move at its will to wherever it determines the greatest danger will be. It chose to take the form of bracers to evade your attack, but there are several other forms it can assume— Athena replied.

When Menrva released Athena and jumped back, the bracers of the Greek goddess began to move up her arms, resembling living snakes.

—Now do you understand? You won't even be able to harm me with surprise attacks— the Greek goddess said, assuming her combat stance once again.

—Then tell me, how will the aegis protect you from this?— the Etruscan goddess shouted.

In that moment, the Etruscan goddess raised her spear towards the sky, and lightning began to fall around Athena. The bolts of lightning started taking physical form, as if constructing an ancient temple and enclosing the Greek goddess within it.

The white structure took the shape of an ancient Greek temple, supported by several Corinthian-style columns. On its triangular roof, there stood a kind of obelisk. The structure emitted electricity with blue and golden sparks.

The white temple was completed, and Menrva said: —Fanum Nensum Munis

At that moment, the temple glowed and exploded, creating a powerful blast and vanishing.
However, as the light dissipated, Athena was seen with a shield raised towards the sky, completely unharmed. The shield, which was the aegis, reshaped into snakes and returned to her chest.

—Aegis is impressive— Menrva said, surprised.

—It's a pity you will never be able to use it. To control these snakes, I had to inject Gorgon's blood into my veins— replied the Greek goddess.

—I know! But that's what makes it even more incredible, that you can use that venomous blood in your body without dying!— Menrva exclaimed, astonished.

—That's why I told you from the beginning, you must train constantly, even if you have to carry your own weakness within you. If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger— responded the Greek goddess.

—It's true, you are too strong. I have attacked you with everything I have, and you still evade all my attacks— Menrva said, disappointed.

—Then will you finally tell me where Aeropagus is located?— Athena asked.

—I can't. I have waited for this moment my whole life, Master Athena. I dreamed of being strong enough to defeat you, but I haven't even been able to pull out a single strand of your hair. I must sacrifice everything to at least make you take me seriously for once— Menrva replied as she started flying towards the sky.

The Etruscan goddess began creating enormous thunderbolts with her thunder power. The gigantic spears fell on various parts of the ground, piercing it.

—Please, Lady Menrva, if you unleash that attack, we will all die!— the malakim present there shouted. But Menrva completely ignored them.

Athena looked at them, perplexed.

—These pillars are called 'Hastati trutnuthua', and soon they will be the foundations for a colossal temple that I will erect on Mars. The planet will shatter into pieces, but I have no other choice— Menrva said while floating at the highest point of the sky with her arms wide open.

—You have choices, Mariana! Just accept your defeat, and I offer to train you myself. But do not attack your comrades, you would never be like me if you do!— Athena shouted angrily.

But the pillars began emanating thunder, and they were drawn towards other pillars, creating an enormous web of electricity. Millions of electrical volts crossed between the dozens of pillars that the goddess had established, while the malakim screamed in terror. Athena, using the aegis as bracers, prepared to withstand the attack.

However, when she turned to look at Menrva, the goddess had created a gigantic electric triangle the size of the area formed by the massive pillars.

—Master Athena, even with the aegis, you will never be able to block this attack; you will have to fight me seriously, or the malakim along with you will die because of your fault when this attack reaches the ground and sets off a chain reaction— Menrva shouted.

The goddess then swiftly threw the enormous triangle of light towards the surface, shouting in unison: —Cerichunce in Tmia Lauchum Flereum

—If you want me to fight seriously, then I'll have to grant you that— Athena said as she summoned her spear Erichthonius.

Athena's weapon was a spear with a golden tip tinged with bronze. Its handle was white, as if made of ivory. Additionally, a golden serpent with red eyes was coiled around the entire weapon.

The goddess grasped the handle of her spear with her right hand and the tip with her left, and with great effort, she managed to bend her spear as if it had been heated and taken on a curvilinear form. Athena assumed a throwing position and looked towards Menrva's attack.

—You fought well, Menrva, and this will be your reward!— Athena shouted, releasing the pressure she exerted with her hand on the spear's tip while making a swift half-circle motion with her weapon.

The serpent residing within the spear shot out, undulating through the air as Athena shouted: —Agría speíra

The serpent pierced through Menrva's attack, effortlessly destroying it. Continuing its journey towards the sky, where Menrva watched in surprise, she couldn't do anything about it. The serpent spiraled through the space where she stood, and the clash of energy struck her so hard that it destroyed her totema and caused her to bleed in several parts of her body. The serpent continued its trajectory until it collided with the dimensional wall and disappeared. Menrva's attack ceased, and the pillars vanished.

The body of the Etruscan goddess fell from the sky, crashing onto the Martian surface as if it were a meteorite.

Athena walked towards the dying goddess, who, with that attack, had lost almost all her ichor and manna.

—Thank you, for at least showing me the power of your spear, Erichthonius, Master. It was risky, but I knew it was the only way you would act— Menrva said with a smile.

The Etruscan goddess was severely wounded. All her bones were broken, and her internal organs were bleeding heavily. She lay amidst a sea of blood, but still, she smiled.

Athena leaned down and took Menrva's hand.

—The offer still stands, Menrva—

—You finally remembered my name!— the Etruscan goddess said, smiling.

—Somebody like you would be hard to forget, don't you think?— Athena responded.

Menrva closed her eyes and at that moment, lost consciousness. Athena released her hand and stood up.

—Now, you weaklings, come and treat this girl so she doesn't die, do you understand?— Athena shouted at the malakim who had survived thanks to the Greek goddess's quick intervention.

—But she tried to kill us!— one of them shouted, frightened.

—She never intended to harm you. She knew perfectly well that it would prompt me to defend you. So you owe me. I demand that you fulfill it this way, do you understood?— Athena shouted at the malakim.

—Yes, ma'am, right away— the angels responded.

—Furthermore, I want to know the location of Areopagus immediately— Athena continued shouting at the group of angels.

—I'm sorry, we can't...— one of them began to respond but was interrupted by Athena's furious gaze.

—I... it's fine, we'll tell you— they replied.

—Oh, how kind of you— Athena replied with a big smile.

There were just under three and a half hours left until the execution of Anpiel.