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“Push, Eve!” Bobby said. With another pain-filled moan, she squeezed her husband’s hand as she bore down again. The middle-aged man between her legs nodded, rinsing off a washcloth and wiping away more fluid. “Almost there,” he encouraged gruffly. “Almost there, Eve, take a deep breath than do it again.”

Zach, her husband, rubbed her arm with his free hand, then glanced across the room at their daughter as the lights flickered. His full attention turned back to his wife as she let out another pain-filled moan. “Something’s wrong,” she gasped. With a grunt, she bore down again, squeezing on the baby.

“I can see the head,” Bobby said. “C’mon, one more time.” He pushed away the dirty pot filled with bloody water, pulling over the last one. A sudden gust of wind howled around the house, and dust drifted down from the basement ceiling. Cursing, Bobby tossed the cloth over the pot until the dust finished falling, then pulled a clean one off the shrinking pile. The head of the baby started emerging from her straining hips as Evelynn let out a scream, and Bobby’s hands were there to catch it and guide it into the world.

“Well?” Zach asked, looking up from his wife’s sweat-drenched face. “Is it … what’s wrong, uncle Rob?” The wind died for a moment, and the silence was ominous.

A tear rolled down the older man’s face as he closed his eyes. Fighting back the rush of emotion, he gently unwound the umbilical cord from the child’s throat. “I’m sorry, boy,” he choked out, “I’m so sorry, there was nothing I could do.”

With a shriek, Evelynn sat up halfway, pushing herself up from the folded quilts where she lay, reaching out for the body of her stillborn son. For a moment, Bobby held it out of her reach, then slowly eased it into her arms as she sobbed over it. Over in the corner, the toddler stirred restlessly, then settled back into sleep as her mother’s cries faded into quiet, mewling noises.

Bobby turned away, wiping his hands with the wet cloth before dropping it back into the pot. He was no doctor, but with the tornado warning holding down half of Nebraska, there was no way for them to reach a hospital. His experience at birthing horses and cattle was close enough he thought he could help his nephew and niece-in-law through it. He glanced up the narrow flight of stairs at the closed storm door to the kitchen, then cursed under his breath. Screw the damn tornados, he wanted a beer. No, needed a beer was more like it.

He crept up the steps, not wanting to disturb their mourning any more than was necessary. The door opened, and the house was quiet. Quiet enough that either the wind storms had passed, or they were in the eye of a tornado and about to get ripped to pieces. Either way, Bobby was going to have him a beer. Moving across the kitchen, he pulled open the fridge and snaked his hand out for a beer. “You might want to stay clear-headed for a bit,” came a voice from behind him.

Whirling around, Bobby’s other hand had an aged firearm, one of the first Winchester revolvers, pointed straight at the left eye of the white-haired man standing in the doorway to the dining room. “And keep the noise down,” he said, teeth glinting in the faint light from the fridge, “you might wake up my son.” Glancing pointedly at the gun, he raised an eyebrow. “I’d hate to have to do something appropriately violent to you.”

Narrowly glancing at the man, Bobby held the gun pointed a moment later, then lowered it to his side. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were at Aes. One away from his post, at that.”

Broadly displaying a mouthful of golden teeth, the man chuckled. “Call me Rig,” he said, and winked. “I’m here because I need a favor, Bobby Tomlinson.” The baby in his arms fussed, and Rig glanced down for a moment, gently rocking the babe back and forth with one arm.

Fitting the pieces together rather quickly, Bobby raised the gun again. “You conveniently arranged for my nephew’s baby to be stillborn so that I could pull a changeling swap for you?”

Rig looked up quickly, surprise and dismay on his face. “A swap? No, no, my intent was to have them raised together as twins.” He glanced at the door to the basement and tilted his head slightly, listening. “Odin’s beard,” he swore, then turned back. “I brought my son here, to place into your family, for you to watch over and instruct my son as he grows. And to help him learn the skills he may need in the times ahead.”

Bobby considered this for a moment before holstering the gun. “And what about my debt?” He bit off the last word bitterly.

“If my son reaches maturity, then your debt to me will be paid in full.” Stepping forward, he carefully handed the sleeping child to Bobby. “But if anything happens to him before he can claim his birthright, you’ll owe me another debt.”

Snorting, Bobby nodded. “Double or nothing it is.” He walked slowly over to the basement door, pausing with his free hand on the doorknob. “What about my nephew’s son?”

Rig considered it for a moment, then pulled a toy bugle from his pocket, blowing a mournful tone. In a blaze of light, an armored Valkyrie appeared in the middle of the worn linoleum floor. Nodding grimly, Bobby led the warrior woman down the steps. “Eve,” he murmured, kneeling down next to his niece. “Eve, look at me,” he said more forcefully.

As the grieving couple looked up at him, Bobby spoke a word of power, hypnotizing them in place. Gently, the Valkyrie reached out, taking the small body from the mother. Without a word, she vanished in another wash of light. Bobby settled the newborn boy in Evelynn’s arms, then spoke another word of power. Their faces animated, blinking as the last few minutes faded suddenly from their memory. “You have a boy,” he said quietly, and watched the subtle happiness bloom on their faces.

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Bobby glanced out the living room window. Richard stood, stock still, in the front yard, staring at the gnarled pine tree next to the road. Four crows were harassing a squirrel, two of them darting in to peck at it while the other two raided the squirrel’s stash. Pulling a can of root beer out of the fridge, Bobby ambled outside and stood next to his eight-year old grand-nephew. He glanced down at the boy. “Something wrong?”

He took a minute before responding. “Those birds are stealing,” he said, his voice angry. He glanced up, eyes glittering. “Stealing is wrong.”

Bobby shrugged. “Usually it is. Sometimes it’s not. Even if it is, what are you going to do about it?”

This puzzled the boy for a moment, and he looked back and forth between the birds and his uncle. Bending down, he picked up a fallen pine cone, wound up, and threw it. The missile went wide, missing the tree by a dozen feet before crashing down in the ditch along the road. Bobby chuckled, ignoring the dark look Dick gave him. “Here, hold my soda for a minute,” and handed him the can before ambling over to the tool shed next to the garage. The boy stood outside for a moment in confusion, then followed him. Bobby met him at the door, and handed him a simple crude slingshot, nothing more than a Y-shaped stick and a pair of thick rubber bands. “Try this instead,” he said, picking up a large piece of gravel from the driveway.

Dick looked down at the crude weapon, then nodded firmly and walked back to the front of the house. Holding the slingshot firmly, he pulled the rubber bands back, the small piece of rock nestled in the knot, and sighted down his arm. A moment later, the rock flew through the air, striking one of the crows with a harsh thwack. The struck bird flopped to the ground, cawing viciously, while the other three took to the air, fleeing into the thicker woods across the road. Still chittering madly, the squirrel fled up the tree to see how much of its stash was left.

Lowering the slingshot, Richard stared across the lawn at the injured crow. “How bad did I hurt it, uncle Bobby?” he asked, all the surety gone from his voice.

“Bad enough,” he replied, and taking his soda back, ambled across the lawn towards the bird. The boy followed him, a step behind, and they both stood over the crow, watching it thrash in pain from shattered ribs. Bobby glanced next to him at the boy, then lashed out suddenly, his steel-toed boots stomping out the bird’s life in an instant. He twitched his toes, flipping the small corpse into the ditch along the road. “Foul birds, crows,” he said. “Not like ravens. Those are noble birds.”

Dick frowned, reaching out for his uncle’s root beer. “What’s the difference?” he asked, taking a drink.

Bobby looked around the trees nearby, then took a couple of steps sideways along the road before kneeling down. His arm pointed across the road into the woods, where a giant, black bird was perched on a tree. “That’s a raven. They’re larger, tougher, but most importantly smarter, than crows. If you follow our family tree back far enough, you end up at the Vikings, the fearsome warriors of the north, and the Vikings worshipped the old gods, led by Odin, and his two ravens Hugin and Munin – memory and thought.” Richard listened raptly to the tales of the old Norse gods as the afternoon sun slipped past.

Six hours later

Dick lay on the living room floor, reading X-Men, when he heard his mom and his uncle arguing in the kitchen. “You’re encouraging him to kill animals!” his mom protested.

“Where do you think the venison we had for dinner came from, a tree?” Bobby spat back. “I’m trying to teach the boy how to pick his fights. I seem to remember you complaining around Christmas time that he’d gotten into a fight with a fifth grader picking on Joycelynn.” Unseen in the living room, Dick grinned. He’d held his own with that turd Paul.

“That’s not the point,” Evelynn said, clearly flustered.

“That’s exactly the point,” Bobby said back evenly. “Do you want him to keep getting into fights with older kids? I mean, it’s probably going to happen anyway. I’m trying to teach Dick when to fight, when to walk away, and what to do when the other guy won’t give you a choice.” On the carpet, the comic book closed as he listened more closely. “What do you think Dick’s going to do when his sister is sixteen and the guy picking on her is some over-muscled jock who won’t take no for an answer?”

“I didn’t do too badly with my over-muscled jock,” his wife teased.

“Touché,” Bobby replied with a chuckle. “But do you see my point? I want him to learn why, and when, to hit, and when not to hit, before he learns how to.” The sound of a bottle opening echoed in the kitchen. “Besides, the boy’s a natural shot with a slingshot. Better than I am. Almost old enough to start teaching him how to handle a real weapon.”

Richard heard his mom give that little sniff she did when she disagreed but couldn’t come up with a good argument against it, and flipped open his comic book again before she came back through the living room.

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The next several posts are all part of the same 'scene', broken up due to post length restrictions.

With a flourish, Dick pulled the diploma out of his backpack. “Voila! Told you I’d make it.” He handed the framed piece of vellum over to his uncle, Bobby, and grinned. “Even wore the jacket underneath the graduation gown.”

The older man nodded soberly, then carefully handed it back. “You did good, Dick. I admit, I was kind of worried you wouldn’t graduate after all that excitement your sophomore year, but I’m glad to see you know how to buckle down when you need to.” He walked into the kitchen, then returned with two beers. Handing one to his nephew, they clicked bottle tops, then popped them open. “So, what’s the plan now?”

Shrugging, Dick took a large swig. “Actually, I’m not sure. Part of me still wants to go through the police academy, or at least an academy. But I do want to get away from home, yanno? See the world a bit.” Giving another eloquent shrug, he took another drink. “I just have this feeling like there’s something big for me to do with my life. As much as I like living in the grand and beauteous capital of Nebraska, becoming a beat cop feels, well,” he paused, obviously searching for the right words.

“Too tame?” Bobby asked. He moved over and sank down into a beat-up recliner facing the old-school 27” tv.

Chuckling, Dick sank onto the couch nearby. “Something like that. I mean, it’s not like I want to move to New York or LA – just somewhere that’s outside Nebraska.” Chuckling, he gave the older man an ironic toast with his bottle. “I’d ask if you knew what I meant, but you live in what has got to be the most broke down, Podunk town in the entire country.”

Shaking a head full of shaggy grey hair, he retorted, “I spend probably three months out of the year travelling the country. You think Fort Benton is a run-down place, you should see the place in South Dakota I went to last month.” He grinned, then set down the bottle. “Actually, I found a beauty of a notebook out there. Wanna see it?”

Dick snorted, giving an exaggerated roll of his eyes. “Oh sure, because that’s what I want to do with the two weeks of my vacation is help you sort through the moldering collection of ‘antiques’ you keep in the garage.” Dodging a playful swat, he took a moment to finish his beer before getting up. “Sure, fine, I’ll follow you out there. Lord knows you won’t give it a rest until you show me all the junkyard treasures you acquired since last summer.”

The two men trekked across the large lawn to the creaky stand-alone garage, and Bobby wheeled the door open with a protesting shriek. “Knock my business all you want, boy, but which one of us earned fifty thousand bucks through E-bay last year?” Meandering through the eclectic collection, he stopped at a darkly-stained roll-top desk and levered open a drawer. Inside were various old books, but Bobby pulled out the one on top, bound in well-worn black leather and tied shut with a dark green ribbon. “This thing has got to be at least a century old. Check it out.”

Catching the tossed relic, Richard carefully untied it and flipped through. “Man, what is all this stuff?” Eyes wide with surprise, he held the book out at arms length and stared at an artists’ rendition of a particularly angry female centaur. “Nice tits on this one. What language is this, anyway?”

Tilting the book down with a finger, Bobby started flipping through it with him. “That part is Greek. Fairly modern, except for a few words. That’s Latin, and I think that part is in Swahili. Something African, at any rate.”

Grinning, Dick recited mournfully, “Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.”

“Cute, Dick. You also need to remember Quidquidne latine dictum sit, altum viditur.” Seeing his nephew’s confused expression, he laughed. “Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.”

“Huh,” he grunted. “Sure can’t argue with that one. What did I say then?”

“I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.” Bobby flipped the book shut before dropping it in the drawer, the ribbon trailing over the edge. “That book looks to be about a century, maybe a buck fifty old. Probably I could get three, four hundred dollars for it. Damn thing would be worth more if I took the time to sit down and translate it.”

Dick snorted in amusement. “Just bill it as the original notebook of Sherlock Holmes. Then maybe you can sell this old desk by claiming it’s the one Rasputin got stabbed on.” Seeing the old man’s frown, he continued. “Next you’ll be telling me you found the guillotine they killed Marie Antoinette with.”

“Sometimes I don’t know where your parents went wrong raising a smart-ass little punk like you,” Bobby griped, pointing at an antique frame. “Just for that, you’re not allowed to help me fix up this original Wright Brother’s bicycle.”

“Sure, uncle Bobby. Everyone knows the Wright brothers built airplanes, not bicycles.” Grinning even wider at the old man’s grumbling, he watched his uncle head over to the neatly stacked toolboxes on the other side of the garage. Giving in to an impulse, he picked the book back out of the drawer and slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Ok, he couldn’t read most of it, but some of the sketches were pretty wicked.

Whistling along to the Blind Guardian song stuck in his head, he headed over to the old camping trailer that served as his ‘room’ for the vacation. Flopping down on the bed, he started flipping through the book. There were few parts in English, and he could sort of recognize scribbles in other languages like Arabic and Chinese, or maybe it was Korean? He turned a page, then flipped back to stare closer at the writing underneath the drawing of a harpy.

“Jess Lane,” he murmured. That was only, what, two miles from here? Mostly uphill, as it went up into the forest. The writing was old, but either someone who owned the book thought there was a harpy colony in the middle of the Montana forest, or they were a nutcase who could write in half a dozen different languages.

Feeling bored, he rolled off the bed and to his feet, narrowly missing the light fixture with his forehead as he loped for the doorway. Ducking back into the garage, he took a machete from a hook near the door, in case he ran into thick underbrush in the woods. Heading back into the house, he made a sandwich and grabbed a can of Coke before walking out to the woods.

Truth be told, while Lincoln wasn’t exactly a thriving metropolis, it was still a city, and Richard had never felt quite at home in the outdoors. He was too busy shooting cans in the backyard or helping his dad fix cars to spend time running around in the woods. The summer visits to uncle Bobby’s were the closest he got to the ‘Great Outdoors’ and he spent half his time bored out of his mind. Which explained why he was walking down a mile-long dirt road, past an abandoned cabin with the roof falling in, and then hoofing it down deer trails into the hills.

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With his iPod blasting Megadeth in his ears, Dick stopped suddenly as a massive shadow flickered across the trail in front of him. Reaching into his pocket, he hit the pause button, looking carefully around. For the first time, he started to have doubts about the wisdom of this course of action. Another something flickered through the trees off to his right, and he spun that way, eyes peering through the slanting sunlight.

Stepping along the trail, he soon came to a clearing. The hill to his left rose sharply, and the wind shifted. The rank smell of urine and bird feces assaulted him, and his nose wrinkled. Set into the side of the hill was the dark entrance of a cave. Dick stopped, staring into the gloomy depths, before shaking his head. “No way am I going in there without a flashlight.” He took a half step backwards. “And maybe a flamethrower,” he muttered to himself, turning around.

A vicious scream echoed through the clearing, and he had only a confused glimpse of an ugly face, leathery breasts, and large wings, as something slashed lines of fire across his ribs. Falling back, he stumbled over the uneven ground, the machete slipping from his fingers to quiver in the ground. “To arms, sisters,” a raucous voice hissed, “the sage has finally given us an opening!”

From the cave soared an avalanche of nightmare shapes, the bodies and chests of ugly, twisted women, with the bodies of vulture. At least a dozen of them swooped over Dick, leaving his arms and back cut as he tried to protect himself and reach the machete. All at once, they were gone, and he looked up into the slowly fading afternoon light to see them flapping their way north. In the same direction as his uncle’s house.

Yanking the machete from the ground, he ran, plunging through the woods with reckless abandon. He fell dozens of times, managing to roll back to his feet and continue running. All he knew was that the creatures, the harpies, were somewhere ahead of him, heading for his unsuspecting family. If only he could be sure he was going in the right direction. He hoped for, and dreaded, a sign.

Then the first scream echoed on the air, a shrill voice that had him redoubling his efforts. “Run, Amber!” he heard Bobby yell, then another scream. Bursting out of the woods, he corrected course, leaping over the ditch alongside the road and turning towards the house. The roar of a shotgun boomed on the air, and then he was in sight of the house. His younger sister was stuck against the front door, fumbling the keys trying to get inside. Joycelynn, his older sister, was waving a baseball bat with more courage than skill, bleeding from a dozen claw marks. Even as he raised the machete and prepared to race to her rescue, two harpies dove, landing on the bat and tearing it from her grip. A third one raked across her face, sending her tumbling to the ground in a spray of blood.

Lunging forward, Dick caught one of the harpies before it left the ground, splitting a wing. Squawking in pain, the beast tried to limp away, only to get caught by the boom of the shotgun. Another gun boomed, and Bobby and Zach came around the corner of the house, aiming their blows carefully. Dick swung the machete again, driving back one of the harpies before it could lunge at Joycelynn again. “Amber, get in the damn house!” he said, viciously kicking the downed beast. A dog growled and yelped, and he caught sight of the neighbor’s retriever, teeth clamped on the leg of another harpy.

Clackity. Boom! The shotgun spoke, and another harpy exploded into blood and feathers. Bobby’s rifle spoke a moment later, and Dick buried the machete in the head of another harpy. Turning, he helped drag his sister’s body inside the house, then stepped back out and slammed the door behind him. Quickly he looped one toe under the handle of the baseball bat, lifting it into the air and catching it in time to execute a power swing into a diving harpy. Bones cracked and it flopped back against the house. “Come get some!” he shouted.

Zach’s shotgun exploded again, felling a harpy, but also catching the dog across the side. Yelping in pain, it fell to the ground, the injured harpy’s thrashing soon finishing it off. Behind the house came another scream, and Zach turned, pumping another shell into place and moving towards the garage. Dick cursed again, swinging the bat at the battered beast near his feet and plastering her skull across the dented aluminum siding.

The last two harpies turned towards Bobby, intent on bringing down the sage, and he raised the rifle, knowing that he could only take down one of them. Then another voice spoke, and the two titanspawn burst into flames. Bobby lowered the rifle slowly, staring at the white-haired man on the road, as the shotgun boomed again next to the garage. “Damn you,” he spat at the figure, while Richard stared in confusion. Then the white-haired man vanished back into the woods, and Bobby had turned to run towards the garage.

For a moment, Richard almost followed him, then turned and knocked on the front door. Shave and a haircut, he rapped, and waited. When no response came, he turned the handle, and pushed open the door.

Joycelynn’s face had been hastily covered with a kitchen towel, held in place with a piece of duct tape. Amber knelt beside her sister, her face a mask of concentration. “Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty,” she whispered, then dropped down, kneeling over Joyce’s face. Dick watched, numb with horror, as his sister continued to administer CPR, heedless of the oozing blood accompanying each thrust.

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Four hours later

Sitting on the hood of Bobby’s pick-up, he watched as the two paramedics finally picked up both the stretchers. The two women’s bodies were mercifully hidden by the body bags. “So, the dog came into the yard, and attacked your sister. Then when your mom tried to drive it away, it leaped on her,” the deputy said, skeptically.

“Yep,” Dick said laconically. The deputy waited, but he said nothing further. Sighing, the deputy flipped his notebook closed. Turning away, he headed back to the sheriff’s truck parked on the road.

Standing next to the truck, Bobby and the sheriff were talking quietly. As the deputy approached, they shook hands, then Bobby slowly walked back to his house, leaving the two law enforcement officials to depart. He stood in front of the truck for a minute, staring vaguely at the license plate. “I’m sorry,” he said.

“Sorry?” Dick said quietly. Then he leaped up off the truck, taking two big strides forward and grabbing his uncle by the t-shirt. “Sorry? A bunch of, of, fucking myths just ripped my sister and my mom to shreds and you’re sorry?”

The older man gripped his hands tightly, staring eye to eye from inches away. “They’re my family too,” he spat out. The two of them held the tableau a moment longer, before Dick’s hands released their hold on his uncle’s t-shirt, and he staggered back against the truck. Bobby let him have a moment of silence, then stepped forward to put a hand on his shoulder. “There’s someone you need to meet. You’re not going to be happy about it, but there’s no reason to put it off.”

As his nephew looked up at him in confusion, Bobby turned to look down the road. A moment later, a black 1967 Impala came growling up the road, pulling into Bobby’s driveway with ease. Behind the wheel sat the same white-haired man who had turned the pack of harpies into charcoal briquettes. “Who the hell is this guy?” Dick asked quietly.

The white-haired man smiled broadly, displaying a mouth full of solid gold teeth. “My name is Heimdall. Heimdall the Golden-toothed, the guardian of the Bifrost bridge, the link between the worlds of Midgard and Asgard. But you can call me Dad.”

Looking back and forth between the stranger and his uncle, Dick motioned towards the garage. “I’m going to get one of the other shotguns, and then I’m going to take turns shooting you in the nuts until I get answers that sound believable.” He took one step backwards, and then Heimdall started to glow, with the warm, comforting light of the sun. “What the hell?”

Stepping forward, Heimdall laughed. “No, Heimdall, not Hel. Hel is more of a cold fish than I.” He looked over at Bobby. “I believe we’re settled now?”

Bobby spat sourly, missing the car by a few inches. “Yep. Speak your piece and then get the hell out.”

Tsking, the god shook his head. “Well, to start with, Richard, I am your father.” He glanced back at Bobby. “You really didn’t tell him anything? Well. Do you want the short version or the long one?”

“The one that makes sense,” Dick said, still filled with confusion. He believed this man – he couldn’t not believe him – but it turned his life even more upside down than the events of that afternoon.

Shrugging, Heimdall scooted up on the hood of the Impala, crossing his legs easily and pulling out a dum-dum. “Sucker?” he asked, then shrugged again as both men declined. “Ok, the short version it is. Technically, you were born on January the seventeenth. But not to Zach and Evelynn Winchester. Their child was still-born, and your mother, your birth mother I should say, died in childbirth in Finland. I knew the moment she died, and traveled to Midgard to save you, my son. I couldn’t bring you to Asgard and raise you myself, so I brought you to Bobby. We have a history, and he brought you to your parents. As far as everyone else in the world is concerned, you are their son. Today, when I felt you get injured, I came as quickly as I could.” He faced Richard squarely, and said seriously, “I wasn’t fast enough, and you have no idea how sorry I am for that.”

Dick stared at him for a moment in silence. “So, what, that’s it? You just drive up and say, ‘Oh, sorry I wasn’t fast enough to save your mom. By the way, they weren’t really your family. Bye now!’”

Heimdall stepped off the car with a look of fury on his face, shining brightly enough that both men had to wince and turn away. “I came here to offer you your birthright, and the chance to save other people from what you went through. Unless you’re telling me you choose to step aside and do nothing, while monsters like these prey on other innocent, ignorant people, in which case I will be more than happy to leave.”

The glow faded to a more bearable level after a moment. “There are more harpies out there?”

The god nodded gravely. “Harpies, trolls, boggles, wraiths, zombies, and all manner of other deadly creatures, spawned by the ancient Titans who stir uneasily in their prisons. Bobby can teach you much about them, if you’re willing to learn from him.” As the flow finally faded completely, Heimdall stepped around behind the Impala, and opened the trunk. “In addition, I have a mighty gift for you.” Letting curiosity get the better of him, Dick walked around the car, reaching out to take the modern holster with the antique firearm. “This gun was once used by another of my children, who went by the nickname of Stonewall.”

Drawing the gun, Dick sighted down the barrel towards the woods across the street, marveling at how clear and light it seemed. “I have one other thing to teach you with it.” He reached out for the revolver, and his son reluctantly turned it over. “Use the butt of the gun. Trace a line, like so,” Heimdall demonstrated, “across a doorway, window, wall – some kind of shelter. Name the foe as you trace the line, and as long as your will holds strong, they will not be able to pass. In doing so, you can protect those who deserve it. Only be careful using your divine skills in front of mortals.”

Taking back the gun, Richard slipped it into the holster, clipping it under his shirt to the back of his jeans. “Why? Won’t seeing a pack of zombies or an angry troll be enough to make them believe?”

“That’s not why,” Bobby interjected. “Sometimes, when the gods, or their children, use their powers, the mortals nearby can get affected. Fate picks them up, and drags them around by the short hairs to make them fit wherever that god goes. You think I chose to live in Bumfuck Montana? Hell no, I’m stuck out here because there’s an entrance to Valhalla in my garage. Half the ‘junk’ in my garage is mystical items that I have, or am trying to, neutralize.” He spat again, this time further away from the car.

Dick looked back and forth between them, the god and the wise mortal, and shrugged. “So, you said there are other people in danger. Where do I start?” In answer, Heimdall tossed him the keys to the Impala, and vanished in a rainbow spray of light. He looked down at the keys, then dropped them into a pocket. “Hey, um, uncle Bobby, you don’t mind if I keep that book, do you?”

“The book? The one in my desk?” The older man shook his head. “Get it. We’re going to look through that book together before you go anywhere.” Inside the house, hunched over the scarred kitchen table, Bobby carefully opened the book to the inside cover. “Hunh. This wasn’t here before.” He spun it around, so that Dick could read the looping script. Property of Sir Richard Francis Burton.

“Who was that guy?”

“What? Are you kidding me? You have heard of a Thousand and One Arabian Nights, right?” At his nephew’s nod, he continued. “Sir Richard Francis Burton is the guy who translated it into English. Along with a bunch of other stuff like the Kama Sutra and being the first non-Muslim to set foot in Mecca. Plus it explains why this book is in a jumble of languages, he spoke around thirty.”

“Cool,” Dick said. “So, I can keep it?”

Bobby facepalmed, then reached for the fridge and another beer. “Sure, why not. Just don’t get your damn self killed with it. I don’t give a damn what Heimdall thinks, you’re still my nephew.”

Richard nodded. “Dude, it’s three in the morning. I’m going to bed.” Saying the last around a yawn, he stumbled outside towards the trailer, giving the house a last wave before slipping inside.

Around dawn, Bobby slept quietly as the Impala started, and Dick Winchester drove away to find his destiny.

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