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IC: S1:E2 "The Fast and the Furriest"


Dave ST
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[Nadya, Gods Honest vs. Takes One To Know One, Fail (By 1)]  "Well," Marius pondered for a moment.  "You're nearly eighteen, relatively attractive... mildly psychotic... you do have the qualities of a decent villainess."

Nadya was set.  He was falling for it, soon he would tell her everything she wanted to know and her and the rest of the Band could go collect the Nekyia and be done with the whole affair.  When Marius squinted, like he was resisting a tugging in the back of his mind, she knew it had started to fall apart though.  Nadya was good, but this time, Marius was better.  "For starters you can find the book at the crossroads.  The corner of 'Fuck That' and 'Bullshit'."  It was her turn to squint, pursing her lips as she realized she'd been made.

He didn't seem pleased, but he didn't look the slight bit angry.  "See?  I extend a courtesy to all of you.  I'm here, spilling the truth, being honest, and what do I get for my efforts to be civil?  Deception and a blatant lack of manners.  You kids to day... so desensitized by iPads and Pokemon Go, you have forgotten simple courtesies.  So, let's skip to a simple lesson in cause and effect, shall we?  But first some math."

Now he grinned and Nadya felt her stomach churn.  For the first time in her life her shenanigans could possibly have a consequence for someone other than herself.  She didn't mind if he took it our on her, she was built to take it... but it occurred to her too late that for attempting to lie to hustle him, he might blow up an orphanage.  "Did you know, amazingly enough, that from The Drip it is precisely a three miles from each of your homes?  Crazy, I know, but it gets better.  You see outside your homes my minions have been waiting to hear from me, and they will, in ten minutes.  If you don't make it home by then, well, guess."

Nadya clenched her fists and scowled at him, she shimmied out of the seat but Marius stopped her.  "Tut, tut... now don't go running off all half-cocked.  You see... it looks like our little wild card will have a part to play.  Predictably, Rachel and Fisher are off cleaning up a mess I made.  So that leaves four Scions here in Salem, but five families to rescue.  Looks like little Laurie gets to decide which of her new friends she likes more, hmm?"  His chuckle was enough to shill Nadya's heart to the core and in that moment Laurie suddenly realized just how serious this man actually was.

"You lie to me, I kill your family.  Cause.  Effect."  His smirk was something Nadya could only describe as pure evil.  "Run along now."

Nadya hustled, ten minutes was impossible, there was no way any of them could run that fast.

Spoiler

As you may have guessed, he's asking you to run three miles at 3:20 each.  The world record is 3:43.  It should be obvious that what he's asking you to do is impossible.  You might make it one, maybe even two miles, but there is no way that you guys could do it in ten minutes, even with massive expenditures of Legend.  He's set you up to fail.

Nadya and Laurie will have time to get outside and explain what's going on to Grace and Austin.  I recommend a short post.  In case you're wondering, yes, if you own a vehicle Marius's minions have slashed your tires.  In fact the slashed Rachel's tires just for fun even though she isn't here.  She can take out the cost of new tires on them later.

Also, Rachel and Fisher... please do not send me angry PMs about me slaughtering your family in only the second episode.  Although feel free to get mad at Laurie for not selecting your characters family. :)  In the meantime, everything will be sorted, trust in your ST.  You guys have a secret weapon Marius doesn't know about.

Share the news, get moving, and I'll be sending the help along soon.  Good writing.

 

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"Seems like you're not always hands off after all. Good to know, asshole," was all Nadya managed to ground before she left.

Nadya stalked out of The Drip, her limbs tingling with the impossible task set before them. Her heart was a knot so tight she was afraid she was going to have a heart attack. As terrible as some things had been since their Visitations, Nadya had still seen it all as a game, a game where they had fine new toys to play with. But she'd tried to play the Big Bad... and failed. Now, it wasn't going to be just her who payed, but her friends and their families too.

She hustled over to Grace and Austin, who were huddling by his car, looking at the slashed tires. Nadya's nostrils flared as she snorted in fury. They turned at the sounds of Nadya's clacking heels and paused in puzzlement, having never seen such an expression on Nadya's face, which was deathly pale. They've seen her rage and laugh, whine and wheedle, but never looking so... distraught. They weren't sure they'd even seen her cry, but she looked close now.

"What's wrong?" Austin asked uncertainly.

"I fucked up, with cherries on top," Nadya admitted with harsh self-recrimination. "I tried to scam Smug McFuckface into revealing where the Nekyia was. He didn't fall for it." She balled her small hands into shaking fists, and her teeth showed in a grimace that concealed her rising despair. "Now we have ten minutes to get home."

She quickly explained Marius' threat, even as she looked each way down the surrounding roads, plotting her path. They were one short, even assuming each one of them were enough to handle what Marius had sent. My fault! Don't pull a con if you're not willing to pay the price if you get caught...

"Get moving guys!" Nadya exhorted sharply. "It's impossible, but just a few weeks ago, what we are now would have been impossible too. Laurie - check on Fisher's dad, he's the one most likely not even to be there. If he's not, come cover the next closest." She quickly told Laurie the route to get there, even pulling out her phone and showing her on Google Maps. Her shoulders slumped for moment, then firmed in resolve. Her silver grey eyes were wide and bright, but stubborn hard in the face of a loss she knew would break her. "I'm going for Rae-Rae's dads. It's all I can do when she isn't here ands it's all my fault."

She started calling her dad, holding up her phone to her ear, as she looked over her shoulder and gave the rest of her Band a confident smirk that all of them could see as the lie it was. "Don't worry guys, my Dad survived worse than this in the Old Country. Now run!"

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Laurel's initial reaction to Nadya's over-the-top 180-degree ploy had been shock- she didn't know this girl, after all, but would she really pour it on that thick if she was seriously considering switching sid-

No, apparently not, she realized with a grimace at roughly the same moment Marius laid his cards on the table. 

After shock, came anger.  Anger not only at Nadya for screwing up a perfect opportunity to find out who this guy was and what he actually wanted, at Marius himself for orchestrating others' misery, at her mother for moving to this stupid city in the first place, and at her "real" father for interrupting a perfectly reasonable life with completely unreasonable expectations.  Her knuckles were white as she gently pushed her mug aside and rose, picking up her violin case and watching a panicked Nadya dash from the Drip.

"You and I," she uttered flatly, simply, as she directed a scorching glare at the man seated across from her, "our conversation isn't over yet.  We'll finish this another time.  Thank you ever so kindly for the invitation."

She caught up to the would-be con artist in a matter of moments, moving through the crowd of teen-aged patrons without breaking stride; her expression alone was enough to convince most of them to step aside.  Nadya was filling Austin and Grace in on what had happened, and Laurie clenched her free hand at her side.  A whirlwind of emotions rushed through her head- fear, uncertainty, anger, helplessness- nearly drowning out the directions she was being given to Fisher's house, and then, in a perfectly clichéd "princess" moment, she shook her blonde head violently and shouted at the top of her lungs as she stamped her foot.

"No!"

It was just surprising enough to break Nadya's attention to her phone as their quiet, polite Disney princess of a Bandmate finally hit the end of her rope.  She managed to get a grip sufficiently to avoid screaming, but it was clearly an effort to do so.

"No, Nadya, you do not get to play the tragic hero, and you do not get to dictate a single freaking thing right now.  You lost, you screwed up, and now you're thinking with your pride, not your brain.  One, there's no time to change directions if Fisher's dad isn't home, because we're barely going to make it as it is!  Two, Rachel's father is a police officer, trained in violence and firearms, and your dad runs a pawn shop, and if he's the one that's taught you how to deal with people, chances are good he is not going to be talking his way out of this.  Go take care of your own family, because after this you're going to need him to remove all our boots from your back-side."  Still trembling, she huffed, pushing a lock of golden hair from her face as she regained a measure of her composure.  "And these, these are very expensive boots." 

Heart pounding in her chest, both from the very real fear of someone's life being in her hands and from the unfamiliar experience of actually telling someone off, Laurel took a deep breath.  She held it for a moment, tucked the black instrument case against her side, and started running.

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He spared a moment to coordinate, and then took off Running.  True he coulda rolled home on the rims, but there was no guarantee it would make it, and the potential to do harm to others was far beyond what he'd accept.   his fastest Mile wasn't even close to the time they had to meet, and if he was honest, only Rachel was faster out of the group.  He had the trident in his pocket as he ran, the weight a reminder that when he got home, he'd have to use it.  'Not gonna forget this."   It was a lesson to all of them really, about choices they made.   As he continued, he sighed inwardly, as the cost of 4 tires wasn't going to be a pleasant thing to pay.  "Asshole probably slashed all the tires nearby that'll fit our vehicles, just to be a complete dick."  he mused as he ran.

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Grace watched the group scramble. Inside, she was screaming incoherently, but outwardly she seemed perfectly calm when she pulled out her phone and dialed a number. "Dane? Where are you? Okay, I need you to do something for me." She gave a quick recap of what had happened and directed him to the family he was closest to, which happened to be Nadya's father. 

She hung up and touched her hand to her necklace, trying to figure out a way for this to end in something other than a funeral. Cuate? Any suggestions? Could you reach the barn in time? Or do I need to steal a car? Her eyes were already scanning the parking lot of the Drip, but without much enthusiasm. 'Cause I got to admit, I'm pretty shit on hot-wiring cars. 

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Nadya stared at Laurie, mouth agape, her pale face flushing red as she was lambasted. She was trying to do the right thing, regardless of the cost to her and was being accused of being over-dramatic? And please! She was supposed to trust in the competence of a police officer and a lawyer, over her father? Laurie didn't know László Dmitri Lunălescu, didn't know what they had already survived, or understand the threat they lived under, like a distant, if ominous cloud, since fleeing Europe.

But before Nadya could form a retort, Laurie was already running, as were everyone else, and she needed to boot it too, if she didn't want to cost them both her and Rachel's fathers. Nadya took off for the Coopers, her heels uncannily not impeding her progress, phone to her ear as she tried to call her dad. She considered 'borrowing' a car, but over such a short distance, she would only likely lose time, having to go through the door and hot-wiring the car. Despite what the movies would have you believe, it didn't take a mere second to hot-wire a car. Besides, on foot, she could cut through yards and alleys between houses.

C'mon, Dad! Answer the phone! Nadya prayed. Someone worse than the Solntsevskaya Bratva are at the door and I can't be there with you, not without costing someone else for my gall and failure.

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Dane's Basement...

Woah, woah... slow down...” The son of Baldur said in his typical lazy tone. Grace was talking so fast and seemed to tired he could barely understand what she was saying. He scratched his head, his hair was tied back in it's trademark ponytail, as he tried to make heads or tails of what of what the lovely Latino girl was trying to say. He remembered she was a great kisser though.

He repeated back what he managed to catch, despite it all coming out like she was in the middle of a workout, or the Kama Sutra. He smiled as his mind drifted to the latter. “No, I'm not busy. Trouble at Nadya's. Yes, I'm totally baked at the mo'. Got it! I'm am totally on my way momacita!”

His eyes narrowed with a sudden focus. “Dude... goin' after the parental units. Mucho heinous bro.” He approached his dresser and opened the bottom drawer. Inside was a large mahogany box that took up nearly the entire drawer. He took it out and set it upon the dresser and opened it. Inside was a massive revolver that looked like it was stolen from the props from Hellboy. Forged from something akin to gold, the divine weapon sparkled and shimmered like the noonday sun. Runes decorated the side of the barrel, engraved with care by dwarves who'd mastered their craft. In the old Norse it read “The Arbiter” along one side and “The Last Word” across the opposite. The cylinder was large enough that it looked like it would be loaded with shotgun shells, not bullets. The gun was so large that he slung it across his back like a sword, took a deep breath, and took off up the stairs.

Aunt Ida! I'm going out to tussle with some dudes trying kill Nadya's dad!” He called out into the house from the back door stairway. “Be home later!”

Is your homework done!?” She cried back, but he was already out the door.


Iteru...

Lounging lazily upon her 'throne' the Goddess Bast watched the exchange between Marius and the young Scions.  Perfumed air mingled with the scent of fruit nectar and wines as she relaxed upon the long couch-like throne that was layered in silk pillows.  Her feline eyes narrowed as the cat in the alleyway alongside The Drip watched and listened to the exchange between Laurie, Nadya and the others.  It watched, calmly as they all took off sprinting on a hopeless endeavor.  They would fail, yet still, they ran.  The cat twisted its head to one side as the Goddess herself did the same, wondering, pondering why mortals would always take on tasks they knew to be impossible.  The soft smile curled at the corner of her lips as she realized the answer: hope.

They always held out hope that regardless of the odds, they may somehow succeed.  "My dear Nadya.  What have you done this time?"  She sighed lazily and did what any modern Goddess would do in her situation... she slid her smartphone open and called an ally.  The numbers beeped loudly as it auto-dialed and she smirked again when it began ringing.

"Poseidon, my dear.  We seem to have a problem.  Austin and the others have found themselves in quite the... how do the Americans say it, pickle?"  There was a momentary pause as she listened.  "Darling, I assure I don't know how one gets into a pickle, but it's a very large one.  It's Marius.  He's causing trouble in Salem and his target is your son's foster family."  She giggled mischievously.  "You are a darling.  I'll call the others."


Mount Olympus...

His giant fist slammed against the marble table, sending jagged cracks radiating outward through the stone.  "That bastard!"  The Earthshaker gritted his teeth and looked around on the off chance Marius's mother was in striking distance.  "I'll have his head!"  He stomped off, his footfalls like aftershocks as Olympus shook with his rage.  His brother may have been the lord of the sky, but Olympus sat upon his domain, and it answered to his anger.  He wandered the sunlit gardens of Olympus's open air courtyards fuming as he looked for the one God who remained elusive in these modern times.

Athena, who was enjoying a  reenactment of the Shakespearean play 'The Tempest' by a company of nymphs and satyrs, watched as he passed by, setting the stone trembling underfoot with every step.  She thanked the company for their presentation and excused herself.  "Uncle," she called for him as she caught up to him.  "What troubles you?"

"Marius," the name slid from his lips like a curse.  His voice was like gravel being scattered by waves.  "He flies too close to the sun.  Where is your useless brother?  We have work to do."

She crooked her eyebrow.  "Which one?"  Normally he would have smiled at such a gesture to lighten his mood, but at the moment he was not having it.  His glare pieced right through her jovial demeanor.  She knew who he meant, he was the only God among Olympus these days that was ever referred to as 'useless'.  "He's in Manhattan teaching a Zumba class.  Great place to 'smash aspiring models', he said.  Whatever that means."

"Call him home, his daughter is need of his aid."  He turned and started to walk off until Athena's strong hand grasped his wrist and held him firm.

"Uncle," He glared down at her hand and shot her a glare that forced her to swallow hard.  "L-Lord Poseidon.  Zeus has forbidden us from interfering in the lives of our Scions."

"Athena," it was evident he was already furious at being detained.  "After all these millennia, I was under the impression you were the Goddess of wisdom."

"You know that I am, Lord Poseidon."  She answered proudly.

He leaned in towards her and kept his voice low, but stern.  "Then why are you still touching me?"  She quickly released him and the God of the Seas marched off.


Acopa (Yaolli)...

Amid the endless black of the Night Sky the Lord of the Smoking Mirror walked calmly among the myriad of countless stars as they swirled about him.  There was no earth in the realm, he simply walked where he saw fit and the sky bore him aloft.  There was no moon, only infinite stars that stretched out in all directions.  He lowered the phone from his ear and gazed off into those stars for a brief moment.  "Marius."  He said softly, shaking his head.  "Marius, Marius, Marius.  I find the terms of your contest to be unacceptable.  I'm altering the terms of this arrangement and it's time young Grace learned that nothing comes without a price."


The World...

[Nadya]  Her unnatural grace thankfully made running in her ungodly heels possible but it didn't do much for her speed.  Okay, a complete lack of anything resembling fitness in her life up until this whole Scion gig did very little to help her speed.  Even with her amped up new Scion body, she was quickly learning that she was still mortal and had limits.  She allowed herself a slight respite. Holding her phone to her ear her father's number just kept ringing until her heart sank as it suddenly switched to voicemail, as if the phone had been cut off.  "No!"  She yelled at the device. "No, no!  C'mon!"

She took off again but barely made it ten steps before her body felt light.  The tenseness in her muscles eased and the tightness of those that were already sore seemed to bleed away.  Her world spun as her head felt light and she cursed her luck as she felt like she was fainting.  No... not now.  I can make it... I have to make it... she struggled through a few more steps, staggering to and fro only to fail in the end and as she fell, out of instinct she raised her raised her hands to catch her fall upon the concrete.

Her paws pressed firmly to the concrete, balancing her just fine.  As the dizziness subsided Nadya caught her reflection in a nearby car door.  Her form was sleek and muscular, low to the ground and build for speed.  Her mother had answered her prayer. Nadya, who'd always tried to find a way to cheat the system, now gazed upon the form best suited for her... a cheetah.

Her legs flexed and she narrowed her mind focusing on Rachel's house and her family and she took off like a flash.  A car pulled out into an intersection ahead but all the driver caught was a yellow blur as she leapt over the hood and kept on going.  Over bushes and fences, nothing could slow her down until she rounded the corner and was faced with nothing but a straight away until Rachel's block, nearly a mile down the way.  Her feline features curled into a smile as she licked her lips.  Her world became a hazy shade of colors as she experienced something no mortal could ever dream, Nadya ran at seventy-five miles per hour (120.7km/hr for you Canadians).

She would reach her goal, with time to spare.


[Grace] "I cannot travel far from you, my Princess." Cuate's voice was soothing in her mind.  Grace began her run, but she wasn't one for false hope.  She knew she'd never make it, but she trudged on anyways, looking all around her for some alternate means for solving her problem, until the problem solved itself.  She took a short cut through one of the alleys, hoping it would buy her a few seconds, when Cuate's amulet fell from her neck like the clasp had broken.  He immediately took his human form, hunched over on all fours as Grace reached for her neck, grasping for a pendant that wasn't there, wondering what was happening.

Cuate writhed in pain.  He cried out in agony as Grace heard his muscles snap and pop.  His bones shattered and broke and reconstituted themselves as he took his jaguar form. More and more as the shift took place his human screams were replaced by cat like growls and roars.  Grace looked on in horror, unable to help him. She knew who was doing this... her father.  By the time his muscles and bones had finished the painful transformation, which until this moment hadn't ever been painful for Cuate, he was three times his size, about the size of a horse.  He looked down on her, tired and shaking off the pain, but nuzzled her out of comfort.

Along the fence line the night time mists gathered and swirled towards the two companions.  Tendrils of smokey mist coiled up and around Cuate's body finally settling on his back where they shifted and solidified, taking the shape of a saddle.  Cuate, still in more pain than he could bare managed a few words.  "Your father's favor is fickle... let us not squander this opportunity."

Reluctantly, she got on his back and with his new body he was easily able to carry her.  He strode off at top speed.  She knew he was hurting, she knew that this favor her father had granted her was given at the expense of Cuate's pain and agony.  If he couldn't hurt her for refusing to toe the line, he'd hurt those she cared about.


[Laurie]  Years of dance classes apparently added up to squat when it came to running full tilt in designer boots.  Modest though the heel may have been, they certainly weren't made for running and acquiring traction in them was near impossible.  She looked back to see if the others had gone and sure enough, they were all in their separate corners of Salem trying to beat Marius's clock.

Unlike others who may have found themselves in similar situations, Laurie saw this entire episode as an opportunity, a challenge.  She always strived for perfection in everything she'd taken on in life, and this was no different.  Hugging her violin case to her chest, she quickened her pace.  Nothing was impossible, after all, she was the child of a God, right?

Just then as she jogged down the avenue, a car pulled out form her right, exiting the parking lot of a local business.  It was a BMW 650i that was painted solid gold, from the rims  to the stripe around the tires.  The young woman almost ran into the car, but managed to catch herself just in time.  She was about to run around it when the driver exited, dressed as a chauffeur.  "Lady Laurie," the handsome man said as more acknowledgment than inquiry.  He opened the back door and swept his hand for her to enter the car.  "Your father sends his regards."

"Well it's about time."  She said as she entered the vehicle, cracking the seal on a bottle of water as she relaxed and the golden car sped off.  This would definitely go down as the worst half mile of her life.


[Austin] All along the pier where The Drip called home things were quiet.  The Scions had run off, Marius was finishing his coffee, and the night had gone still.  No one noticed, falling from he night sky on the horizon, was a God.  The wind caressed Poseidon as he soared to the surface of The World.  Terminal velocity meant nothing to him as he looked down at the coastline of Massachusetts, the glimmering lights and quiet town of Salem were all that mattered to him at the moment.  Marius required a message, and the Greeks excelled at making a point very clear.

Like a missile he crashed into the surface of the ocean some miles off the East Coast.  The impact from the six foot, two inch man against the surface of the water could only be described as nuclear.  The water exploded upward into a monstrous geyser with waves spreading away from the point of impact in all directions.  Not only would Salem feel this, but the entire Eastern Seaboard as well.  The earth shook violently along the coast and in The Drip patrons cautiously looked around wondering what those few seconds of tremors might have meant and if they were in any real danger.  The tremor was quick and passed with nothing more that the flicker of the lights, but Marius looked up from his coffee and smiled.

The tidal wave crashed upon the shore and swallowed up all the pier.  Water smashed into businesses, cars and weaved through alleyways.  Despite it all, not a single building or vehicle was damaged.  Water crashed against windows but the glass held and all people saw on the outside was a sudden torrential downpour of rain.  The wave flowed down the street and Austin looked behind him to see the the massive forty foot high wall of saltwater chasing him down.  It roared over cars and trees, across homes and yards leaving everything drenched.  He could hear it though, in the waves.  The sound of smashing water and roaring waves... it sounded... it sounded like... a stampede.

Austin turned to face the tidal wave and then he saw it, leading the charge at the base of the wave was a stampede of wild horses made entirely from water.  Their eyes and manes glimmered with luminescent organisms and their coats shimmered and glowed like animated sea blue crystal.  The Scion of the Sea smiled softly and waited for the wave to take him, and it did.  The stampede of horses within the wave consumed him and Austin found himself riding one of the aquatic beasts down the road until the tidal wave shifted and crashed together.  The horses merged with him still atop one of them.  The horse's mane became a wheel and the roaring of the waves gave way to the revving of an engine and Austin slammed down the gas pedal of a transparent, crystal blue Mustang made entirely of water.  The tires didn't squeal on the pavement, but they kicked up a lot of steam as Austin bolted off down the road in his enchanted ride.

He tore through an intersection, the same one Nadya did, just a few blocks away, at speeds 'illegal' didn't even begin to describe.  He didn't even notice the Sheriff's car parked, waiting for the light to change.  Deputy Collins nearly choked on his coffee before he turned to Sheriff Farrow in the driver's seat.  "D-did you see that?"  He stammered out, wide eyed and still a bit shocked.

"See what?"  Sheriff Farrow asked, plucking at his teeth with a toothpick.  He had seen it clear as day, but that wasn't the point.

"That car!  It was blue, but it was clear.  A mustang.  It looked like it was made out of glowing water..."

Sheriff Farrow sucked his teeth.  "A car.  Made of water."  Despite it being dark, Farrow lowered his aviators and looked at Collins.  "I'mna need you t'do a piss test when we get back to the station, Deputy."  He scoffed, shaking his head.  "Cars made out of water..."

 

 

Spoiler

With your gifts, you will make it on time, with time to spare even.  At each of your respective locations there are 3 men waiting around the place.  They have the generic mortal 'Thug' template found in the Hero book, so will not be difficult to dispatch.  They are armed with blunt instruments, like bats, brass knuckles, home made clubs, etc.  For the sake of how long this episode is taking, you may dispatch the opponents in a narrative, but you may not dispatch your thugs and move on to somewhere else in a single post.  Yes, I'm looking at Nadya... you can not handle the situation at Rachel's and also make it back to Dad's in time to help him.

 

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Meanwhile...

In the temporally non-linear reaches of Fate and space, Fisher was in Coach Finger's old car, as they headed back after the long battle and remains of the battle of Rhinestones and Racks. The giant pup was on his lap in the back seat, curled up in Fisher's arms and stroking hands.

Her mother was dead, Belle's sisters had gone global, so she said she had to entrust the pup to them. Well, Fisher could probably swing it past his dad. Maybe it could actually help him. Pets were therapeutic, right?

"So yeah. I don't think I'll be calling my attacks again. It does sound kinda silly."

"You think?!" Victor Fingers uttered in a tone of voice that said the need to use the steering wheel was all that prevented him from facepalming.

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Nadya should have been surprised, bewildered by her sudden transformation into a feline quadruped, but she wasn't. Okay, a part of her was, but it was a distant thing, pushed back by the overwhelming focus on her goal. Another distant part of was furious that she didn't have hands or her phone or... human vocal cords to contact her dad or to try and plead with Mercedes to get her band to go after Marius.

Her paws barely seemed to touch the ground as she raced down the straightaway, her heart beating like the pistons of a high-end sportscar. Thumpety-thumpety-thumpety-thump! Anything she was looking directly at was rendered in incredibly sharp focus, while everything else became a blur of colour. Her claws scrabbled on the asphalt as she turned the corner onto Rachel's block.

Her eyes immediately locked on the three men loitering outside of the Cooper residence. Nadya didn't slow, instinctively cataloguing the marks, the prey, as the dark spots on her tawny hide seemed to be spreading. 5'10, 165, backwards baseball cap, baseball bat. 6 or 6'1'', over 200 pounds, white tank top, tribal sleeve tattoo, brass knuckles on both hands. The last, somewhere between the other two in size, a heavy chain wrapped around his fist, its end dragging along the ground with a soft tickling sound.

Clumps of dirt and grass were torn up as Nadya veered, racing along the immaculately maintained front lawns. Only one of the thugs had the time or awareness to begin turning around at the sound coming from behind them. That was unfortunate for Batboy, as he became Nadya's target. The dark spots and tear-like markings on her body and face had deepened and spread, while the little bit of tawny colouring remaining had brightened to a moonlight creaminess so it looked like the dusk itself pounced on him.

Nadya's jaws snapped closed around Batboy's throat, the iron and salt tang of blood exploding in her mouth as her speed and a twist of her head ripped his throat out. She was already springing off and past him before Batboy even began falling.

"What da fuck was that, man?" Chainboy cursed, looking around wildly as he began whirling his chain about himself.

"Beatbox is down!" Tattoo whined, his voice surprisingly high for a man his size, his eyes wide and face pale as he looked at the blood gouting from the neck of the man on the ground.

Crouched in the shadow of a large tree, ass wriggling slightly in preparation for another pounce, Nadya felt nothing at Batboy's death or the warm blood speckling her muzzle beyond a sense of satisfaction. One was down, two more to go. All she cared about was bringing them down as fast and efficiently as possible, she didn't care if they died or were incapacitated. A soft growl resonated throughout the gloom as Chain and Tattoo moved back-to-back, circling.

"Oh, man! Oh, man!, Oh, man!"

Nadya pounced when Tattoo was closest to her. He brought his hands up to protect his face and throat, so she went low, teeth clamping around his thigh, sending him to the ground. Before he could recover, her jaws crunched through the vertebrae of his neck and Tattoo went limp. Then Nadya yowled and rolled to the side as the chain whipped her alongside the head.

She twisted back and began circling Chainboy, who whirled his chain around himself trying to ward off the evil creature stalking him. He could barely see it, only the gleam of teeth and eyes giving him something to focus on, its low growl unnerving. Waiting for an opening while dodging the occasional lash, Nadya was growing impatient. She wanted this fucker down now, having some vague fantasy that if she was quick enough, she could get to her father in time, if he could just hold them off for long enough. She was a Gods Damned - or was it Gods Blessed? - Cheetah. She was fastest and furriest thing in Salem right now! She could do this!

Nadya charged. The chain swung again, slamming against her side, tearing fur and bruising flesh. She took the hit as she closed her teeth on the chain and ripped it from the Thug's grasp. Unarmed, he turned and ran and Nadya's snarl had a hint of laughter in it. Fucker is trying to run... from a cheetah?! Idiot! Almost casually, Nadya caught up to him, jumping on his shoulders then raking him down the back with her claws. She hamstrung him then began running once more without taking the time to finish him off.

She begrudged every second it took her to circle the perimeter of the Cooper residence, looking for any other assailants before racing off to Laszlo's Lost & Found. Heart beating so hard and fast she was afraid it was going to burst, Nadya wanted to head home, to her father, even knowing there was no way she could get there in time, yet unable to think of anything else. She didn't even have hands... or her phone - or how do I get them back?

If it's only three assholes with bats and tire-irons, Dad should be able to hold them off long enough, even with lame leg, Nadya pleaded with her belief.

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It was a moment straight out of an action movie.  Austin didn't even slow down, seeing the three thugs outside his home, Directly aiming the Mustang at them.They began to scatter at the sound of the Roaring stampede of Horsepower, but not before the vehicle Impacted the first thug, Hitting the hapless guy with the full force of a Tidal wave.   The effect broken, Austin burst through the "window" of the  Mustang as it returned to being just water around him, rolling  even as his trident extended in his hand, and using that momentum hurling the ancient weapon at the thug who was furthest away, even as he  was rising to his feet.  His eyes were the color of dark sapphires, his anger that someone would come after his parents to get at him had kindled something he never knew was there.  The three barbs at the head of the weapon speared his back, catching both lungs and heart, killing him instantly.  He wasn't done yet, running towards the last thug who looked at him in near terror.He'd grabbed the first thug's wooden bat, and dashed toward him.  He had some sense of preservation, raising his chain to try to fend off the rampaging Scion.  It might have worked too, if he'd gone for a high shot.  Instead he went low, Clipping the thug's knees, and then proceeding to bludgeon him practically to death with the bat.   His rage spent, he Threw the bat away, and retrieved his trident. 

When he turned around, the waters which had been roughly knee-high, had begun to recede, the bodies were gone too, and he returned his weapon to its normal form, moving around the house slowly to be sure.   He was honestly surprised that no one had come out of the house due to the noise, or any of his other neighbors, but he was thankful for that small favor.  "Thanks for all the help, Dad."  He whispered quietly.  He knew in his heart, boons like this weren't without a price, and resigned himself to pay it.  "If it keeps them safe, I'll do what I have to."

He'd killed three human beings, and he oddly didn't feel anything, save satisfaction that his family was safe.  It was a Dark line of thought, one he wasn't comfortable with, but it had been done now.  He felt certain others were facing the same choices, and the same dark thoughts might plague them too.

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The last rays of the sun rendered Laurie's pale, flaxen hair incandescent, her somber expression wreathed in strands of tangible light that drifted lazily in the early evening breeze.  At her feet, her ever-present black case lay open on the grass, and in her right hand she held a slim violin bow, gilded and strung with horsehair.

She'd barely had time to drink half the water in the bottle before the driver announced they'd arrived at the Capra home, and although she'd been helped out of the car with the utmost courtesy, the ostentatious golden "chariot" was gone almost before she could blink...  Leaving her in a stranger's yard, watching as a group of three men approached the house.  One had been finishing up a terse conversation on his cell phone, and jerked his head in the direction of the front door.  Not being a hardened warrior, she hadn't the faintest clue what weapons they might have, but if what Marius said was true, they meant to seriously harm Fisher's father.  She didn't know Fisher himself very well, and his family not at all, but attacking someone indirectly just seemed so... cowardly.  It was an oddly stereotypical move for someone who could purportedly have eliminated them much more efficiently, and since her plan to gather more information at the Drip hadn't quite panned out, the lack of understanding bothered her.  Intensely.

"I'm going to give you two options, gentlemen, and I honestly hope you'll listen to reason, because I don't want to repeat myself."  Her voice rang out like a bell above the cracking of the doorframe, and with rather more confidence than she felt facing three armed men.  The one holding the crowbar paused, slowly tilting his head as his companions spun around to face her.  That she had somehow gone unnoticed while exiting a twenty-four karat BMW, placing her instrument case on the ground and withdrawing the shining gold bow within (she was beginning to notice a theme where her patron was concerned) was mystifying to the young Scion, but then these didn't exactly look like divine mercenaries, either.

They took one look at her, a blonde, well-dressed teenager who looked like she'd just stumbled out of strings practice, and laughed. It was the kind of coarse, raucous laughter that rolled out of bars and into the streets when the door opened, the kind that communicated clearly how ludicrous her request was. Even the door-cracker stood up, shaking his head as he handed the crowbar to one of his compatriots. He was bigger than he'd looked kneeling down, and he swaggered forward a few steps, spreading his hands wide in invitation.

“Ohhhhh, well. Go on, missy. Tell us what options you's gonna...” There was a momentary pause, a brief furrowing of the hoodlum's brow followed by a triumphant grin. “Gonna magnamoniously give us.” Laurie blinked in response, her brain attempting to process both the bizarre, stereotypical “wiseguy” accent and the nonsensical word. One of his attendants folded thick arms across a broad chest, smirking at the apparent leader's wit, while the other scowled and clenched his ham-sized fists.

“I got this, Joe. I'mna take care a'her real quick, and we can get back to work.” The hyper-tanned slab of Neanderthal strode menacingly toward her, a wicked grin baring his too-white teeth. She barely resisted the urge to scream, “Not the face! Not the hands!” and curl into a ball, settling instead for a hard swallow and a white-knuckle deathgrip on her bow. Maybe she could catch him off-guard and poke him in the eye?

“'Ey.” Joe's baritone was a sharp bark this time, rumbling bravado momentarily vanishing as he thrust out an arm to bar his comrade's path. “Me 'n the lady's havin' a conversation here. Youse two watch the door.”

For a second, it looked like Stock Guido #2 was going to argue, but some invisible exchange occurred between the two men and Joe proved the victor. His subordinate shot a murderous glare in her direction before stalking heavily back to his post.

You mean, 'magnanimously,' don't you?” she asked, hoping she sounded more confident out loud than she did in her head.

Yeah! That's what I said. Whaddayou gonna do, eh?”

Well,” she began, completely flummoxed by the sudden invasion of extras from 'Jersey Shore' into her life. “You can stop attempting to break in to that house, leave its occupant alone, and carry on with the rest of your day...”

Orrrr?” the thug grinned, and his buddies snickered behind him.

Ooorrrrrr,” Laurie continued, somewhat more matter-of-factly, “I will be forced to visit such terrible violence on your persons that your mothers will weep to see what I have done. Although, I admit that I won't enjoy it, and I can assure you that the memorial wreaths I send will be quite tasteful.”

Number Two snarled and made to move forward again, but Three grabbed his arm with an alarmed expression.

The hell, man?” he hissed. “You crazy?!”

Whaddayou mean, 'you crazy'? She's a fuckin' little girl! The fuck you think she's gonna do with that baton, huh? Spank us?!”

Mikey, think about it! Nobody says that shit unless they're either, A, completely batshit nutso, or B, Bruce-fuckin'-Lee!” Clearly the big thinker of the group, Number Three shook his head, trying to keep his voice down even as he argued. “Uh-uh, man. No way. I don't want no part a'that!”

Joe's lips pursed, and without turning his head he glanced in Mikey and Three's general direction. He could probably have been a model for the Easter Island Moai, since he seemed to be comprised of simple, blocky forms- right down to the fact that his face was mostly forehead and nose. His chin jerked upward briefly, getting her attention.

You Bruce Lee?” he asked speculatively.

A mad thought careened through her head then- “When someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!” and it was all she could do to keep from giggling at the absolute insanity of this entire situation.

No. Bruce Lee is, unfortunately, quite dead.” She paused for a beat, biting her lower lip and swinging the bow upward to pluck the horsehair with her free hand. If this didn't work exactly as the letter had described, she was doomed.

Impossibly, it resonated at her touch, vibrating in a warm, mellow tone that sounded somehow like summer. The straight, slender stick and its aged gilding brightened, then stretched, growing to over double its original size. As the camlen elongated, its gentle curve toward the strings inverted into a sweeping convex arc, and at its center appeared a fluted grip. Once more her fingertips found the string, now a faint, glimmering line stretched taut behind the sinuous limbs. Just before the sun slipped beneath the treeline behind her, its final ray was snared in the arrow rest, white hot and luminous; her golden bow had proven worthy of the name. Energy sang through her veins, flooding her with light, with music, with power until she felt sure it must be visible beneath her skin, and in the chemical thrill of the moment the notion didn't bother her in the slightest.

Stay here,” she offered, flashing a brilliant smile made all the more unnerving for its sincerity, “and I'll send you to meet him.”

Three was the first to bolt, sending the crowbar sailing behind him and gulping in great lungfuls of air as he cut across the yard and made for the sidewalk as if Hell itself pursued him. Mikey grimaced, clearly torn between fight and flight. His fists clenched and unclenched spasmodically at his sides, and the trembling in his massive hands spread slowly through the rest of his body until the effort required to remain stationary became too much to bear. The gears in his head were grinding now, trying to make sense of the growing dread welling up inside him at the sight of this girl's cheerful, amiable smile. Naturally, rage was his emotional refuge.

Lurching forward, he screamed a guttural curse; Laurie shifted slightly, the too-bright arrow drawn back to her cheek until he could no longer see the blue of her eye, now swallowed by a single coruscating point of light fixed on him. Her slim fingers twitched, and the gut-twisting drive to live for just a few more moments overrode the goon's pride. His scream rose in pitch, desperate as the wild, wide-eyed expression on his face, and he tumbled hard to the ground, all pretense of machismo gone. Scrambling, he clawed his way back to his feet and half-sprinted, half-careened between parked cars, brick mailboxes, and anything else that put substance between them.

When she glanced back at their leader, pivoting to ready her shot, Laurie was surprised to find him still standing where he'd been moments before. Joe's jaw formed a tight, hard line, flinty eyes narrowed as he gave her one slow nod.

'Cause you's a lady, an' a kid, I ain't gonna hit ya. An' I gotta respect one a' today's youves who knows how to talk all elephant like. So today? Today's your lucky day, missy. I'm gonna go round up the boys, and you get to walk away. 'Zat sound equatable to you?”

Laurie cautiously lowered the bow, and as she did so the golden arrow in her grasp faded into the aether. She could feel the surge of energy slowly draining out of her again, the gradually deepening twilight bringing with it a weariness like none she'd ever experienced before. Nodding mutely at the monolithic figure before her, she watched him go, simply strolling away as if nothing untoward had happened. Forgotten, the bow in her hand became simply a bow again, and the young woman shook her head in dazed wonderment as she stared at her abandoned violin case. What in the world had she been dragged into?

...And, more importantly, who was going to drive her home?!

 

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Hundreds of nick-knacks and do-dads fell to the floor in a cacophony of pings and rattles.Silver forks and a matching set of fine plates hit the ground with a rattle and that little wobbly noise discs make when they refuse to just fall and instead just roll about edge over edge.  Lazlo had worse beatings, that was for sure, these were amateurs, but cleaning up the place was going to be a pain he wasn't looking forward to.  He'd never dreamed that he'd be thrown over his own counter, but then again, he never thought he'd hook up with a Goddess... so his life, so far, was pretty much following it's expected flow chart.  All he had to do was hold out just a little while longer.  Nadya would be here soon, he just had to hold out.

He tried to stand but his arms were already feeling like Jell-O.  Thankfully the men beating him were kind enough to lift him to his feet.  "You... you gentleman.  Thank you.  I seemed to have taken a spill... I really should clean this place up."  He smiled at them with red stained teeth.  His hair had fallen into his eyes, sweat and some blood had given it a slick, shiny look.  "You here long?  I offer you something to drink?  Coffee?"

One of the men slammed his fist into Lazlo's jaw, his head jerked violently and would have fallen if not for the two men holding him up.  He managed to lift his head up, his eye were glossy and dizziness threatened his wakefulness.  "Not coffee drinkers.  Tea then?"  He mustered another defiant smile.

The thug smiled back as he balled up his fist for another blow he turned his gaze to the door though as it swung open suddenly and the street light outside bathed a silhouette in shadowy light.  Lazlo fell to the floor as the two men holding him let him go to turn their attention on the newcomer who'd not yet been retrained and beaten in an unfair fight.  "My daughter!  Ha!  Nadya!  You show these men how we deal with their kind in old country!"

Lazlo's savior stepped out of he shaded light and allowed the angle to capture his features.  It was not Nadya.  It was a young blonde kid with a deep tan and radiant hair that almost seemed to shimmer in the light.  He wore it tight in a pony tail.  A hemp cord was around his throat with several beads woven into it.  The light didn't just accent him, it seemed to kiss his skin in just the right way that there was no way he'd not look good, even if it was almost dark.  He was standing there in a tank top that read "Malibu Surfing Association" with cargo shorts and a pair of sandals.  The cherry of his joint lit up and high lighted his face.  "Woah, woah... dudes.  Way, way uncool Thug Bros.  Papa Moondude here's had enough, so I'm going to have to ask you dudes to vacate this fine establishment of mercantile... uh, ness."

Lazlo tilted his eyebrow upward, it hurt, but he didn't care.  "You... you are not my Nadya.  No, no... my daughter is supposed to come and rain furious beatings down upon these men.  She is a the daughter of a go-"

"Woah, woah, chill Papa Moondude, I got this."  Dane pumped his hands downward to calm Lazlo down.  "Nadya, who is like, bangin' hot by the way, thanks for that, the world owes you a high-five," he took a moment to 'air-five' Lazlo.  "Sent me to stand in for her while she was out doing some kinda... thing."

"What do you mean a thing?  There was daring to be happening here tonight and you tell me no, my daughter has a thing?  I will know thing!  Tell me this thing!"  Lazlo shot back.  The three men just bounced their gazes back and forth for the dialogue, wondering if the now fuming Lazlo might do their work for them and kill Dane himself.

"Dude, I dunno, premarital sex... possibly some drugs... the point is Papa Moondude, I am perfectly qualified to be your rescuer."

"As long as it was not her homework, American schools absolute garbage, teach nothing."  Relieved, he waved his hand dismissively.  "But you!  You have no heroic credentials!  I know the rules, these men make short work of you, run!  I wait for Nadya!"

The thugs had heard enough.  One finally stomped forward, his ham sized fists were clenched and prepared to deliver a thrashing.  "Fuck this tree-hugging, dirt worshiping, hippie little bit-"

His words were cut short by the click of a hammer as it drew back, locking a... something, into the chamber.  The wide barrel was pressed firmly to the thugs nose.  The massive cylinder in the gun didn't load a round in, instead from the inside of the cylinder the gun began to glow with inner light, sun light, as the soft hum of nuclear fission prepared itself to enter the world.  Dane smirked, "Namaste."

"Okay!"  Lazlo conceded.  "You and your 24 karat credentials may stay.  I watch.  This will be good for laugh."

About 5 minutes later...

"No, no, no..."  Lazlo said calmly.  He took another hit from the jay and passed it to the Hamfisted Thug, a Myrmidon that Dane had named 'Antony'.  "I think what Dane is saying is that you have to be own man.  Think for yourself."

"You guys don't get it, man.  We're not wired that way.  We're soldiers, we do... it's all we know how to do is follow orders and... do.  There's no peace, we just move from one war to the next.  If not Marius, we'll serve a different master."  He hit it and passed it to Dane.  The three of them were sitting back to back, using each other to support to the others.  Antony's allies were out cold on the floor.  He didn't look like much, but Dane packed a punch... and being pistol whipped by a solid gold hand cannon helped too.

"Antony, bro."  Dane hit it and passed it on.  "The more you buy into that, the more those Evil Dudes, like Marius, win.  I mean, come on, beating Papa Moondude is not how you wanted to spend your Friday night, am I right?  Find something, man, find that something within you that's heavier than that urge to serve a master.  When the power of love over comes the love of power, the world will know peace."

"I like that."  Antony nodded.  "Was that, like, Garth Brooks or something?"

Dane sat up and the other two men lurched back, losing their balance.  "Dude!  Shameful, bro, shameful!  Hendrix, man... Hendrix!"

Just then, Nadya burst through the door.  She'd lost her cheetah form several blocks back and was reminded that she needed to quit dodging Rachel when she brought up doing some cardio.  "Hey!  Como-esta Moon Hottie!  One bonified dad, all saved and stuff.  This,"  Dane gestured to Antony.  "Is Antony, and he is really sorry.  Antony, Moon Hottie, Moon Hottie, Antony.  Moon Hottie... Papa Moondude."  He paused in his introductions, realizing the Naday and Lazlo already knew one another.

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Nadya stared, completely dumbfounded. There were any number of things she'd feared to find - her father a bleeding and broken ruin or a dismembered corpse, or even more ominous, no sign of him at all. She had not been expecting to find him setting back-to-back with Dane and what looked like one of the thugs, sharing a joint.

"Sorry I'm late."

She staggered forward, brushing fallen bric-a-brac aside with the toe of her boots, barely hearing Dane. She was wan with worried and looked rather bedraggled. The blood had faded with her cheetah form, but she had been running at nearly sixty miles an hour when she suddenly found herself with two legs instead of four and had tumbled in a spinning roll for what felt like a mile before finding her feet again.

Reaching the slumped circle of men, Nadya stared down at them silently for a long moment, before she scowled. "Gimme that!" Nadya demanded, plucking the joint from Dane's lips then squeezing in shoulder to shoulder with him and her father. Taking a long drag, she let the tension ease out of her, lacing her fingers with her father's, and giving Dane a heartfelt squeeze of sheer gratitude. My mistake hadn't cost Dad anything more than split lips and some bruises...

"Just so you know, I'm not cleaning all this up myself," Nadya murmured languidly.

"Should be punishment for being late with a thing," Lazlo countered, not crossly. "Making Dane do what is being your job, though he did so well, I am thinking."

"A thing?!" Nadya not-quite yowled. "I was taking care of Rae-Rae's fathers. It was pretty awesome. I was cheetah!"

Lazlo sniffed. "Awesome or no, could not the tall girl look after her fathers while you look after your own?"

"She isn't here."

"Why?"

"She... " Nadya trailed off. She wasn't really sure why Rachel wasn't here other than Coach Fingers had taken her and Fisher off to do something. She finished lamely, "... had a thing."

"See!" Lazlo declared triumphantly. "Me, I am an old man, bleeding and limping." Nadya gave her father a disbelieving glance. Okay, he was bleeding some, and he did limp, since the thing with the Bratva, but he was like, just over forty and looked younger. "Dane, he is doing your job, and is bringing the good smoke, besides. You clean. Antony, for the beating, you help."

Nadya sighed, but she was smiling. "Yes, Dad. After. Gotta check on my friends first."

So saying, Nadya tiredly pulled out her iTeru and began calling the rest of her Band, to see if they and theirs were okay.

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It didn't take Nadya long to reach the rest of the Band.  Within moments everyone was in a mass text, checking in with updates.  They all gave a sigh of relief when they heard the others were safe as well as their respective families.  While the Gods weren't around to sign autographs, their presence, however was definitely felt.  Austin knew there'd be a price for this boon one day, but what would that cost be?  He silently pondered as he texted everyone to let them know he was okay.

Quickly the conversation steered towards who was coming to pick up Laurel.  Things died down and got back to normal, well, as normal as their lives were anyway.  Rachel and Fisher text the Band to let them know they'd be back in Salem soon, and boy did they have a story to share.

Everyone agreed to meet up later at the school, since that's where Victor was heading to deliver his side of the story to Archimedes.  The Band was gathered outside in the parking lot, talking amongst themselves about the events of the evening.  Everyone agreed that Marius was a bastard that would stop at nothing to get what he wanted out of Salem, the biggest problem now seemed to figure out what it was he was after and try and stop him.

Victor's Charger pulled in and parked close to where everyone was gathered around ten o'clock.  He stepped out and didn't give anyone much of a hello, he just walked towards the doors like the Band was invisible.  Typical.  Rachel was riding shotgun, and when she got out he popped the seat for Fisher and out he stood with a gigantic (yet adorable) wolf pup in tow.

"Well," Austin started, "looks like we all have some interesting stories to tell."

Spoiler

Everyone is reunited.  You may post freely amongst yourselves and when you're ready to move on, let me know.

 

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"Oh, we do." Fisher rubbed the pup behind the ears and smiled as she showed a look of pleasure. What followed therefore was a summary. Amber the nymph, the nemean mother and her lost offspring. Victor being surprisingly sweet. Hey, if he wanted to preserve his reputation as a hard-ass, he shouldn't have let down his guard among students.

More sadly about myrmidon hunters, the mysterious Scion and the death of Honiahaka. And that now the nemean pup was theirs to take care of. "And this is where I would like to point out that most of you will have a difficult time getting her past-slash-approved by your parent/guardians. I..." And there was a brief flicker of upset, very brief, as Fisher knew why he wouldn't, "...won't."

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Grace looked tired. Not the tired of just muscles and sinew, but the near shell-shock of combat tiredness. She'd sent Coute home as soon as the fighting was over, so he could recover and she feel guily and enraged without accidentally unleashing it on him. Mentally, she'd been cussing up a storm at her divine father for hours now.

"My fosters have a bunch of land behind their house and I bunk out in the Barn." At the few raised eyebrows, she rolled her eyes and added, "They reno'd it into rooms for the kids close to aging out. There's only three of us there right now, so I could probably keep the...puppy...there and she'd have room to roam. I can't really image trying to housebreak her or keep her crammed up in a room all the time."

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Nadya was uncharacteristically silent at Fisher and Rachel explained what they had been up, though she was very doubtful about any sweetness on the part of the Coach Fingers. And she hadn't found Antony to be ant-like at all, despite the supposed nature of the Myrmidons. When near everyone seemed eager to claim the pup, Nadya arched an exasperated brow. Sure, the puppy was adorable - she made faces and cutesy noises at it - but the thing was already huge and there was no place for it to stay at her place, so she had no real stake in where it lived.

"Why don't you guys just take turns with the l'il monster?" Nadya suggested, giving the Nemean Wolf Pup a vaguely doubtful look. Most traditional Romani didn't keep pets and Nadya was different in this, along with being the daughter of a Goddess of cats - she wasn't sure if the classical war between cats and dogs applied in this situation. "Guy looks like he'll take a lot to feed, so share the expenses."

Nadya was almost eerily subdued when explaining what went down with Marius, oddly not making any excuses trying to shift blame after failing to play Marius in an effort to get a hold of the Nekyia. She was obviously grateful to Dane for saving her father while she took care of the thugs after Rachel's fathers, and to Grace for calling him.

"Seems to me Marius is a shit-disturber who gets his jollies leading his marks into the shit instead of wading in himself."

 

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Rachel had been pretty quiet during the telling of the two stories only answering questions directed at her and then only with as few words or grunts as possible.  By the time Nadya finished her story Rachel was fuming. They had let him go, this murderous son of a bitch Marius,  they had had him and let him go. A thousand things went through her mind that she wanted to say but the look on Nadya's face and her obvious remorse at causing the whole thing softened her fury. "Nadya, the only one to blame for any of this is this asshole Marius. But you and the rest of you guys handled yourselves well. Thanks for taking care of Fisher's and my parent's."

She looked longingly at the pup who was busy getting petted by Fisher and Grace. "I wish I had done as well  as you guys." She sighs. "As for the nemean, she can't stay at any of our houses, it's too dangerous. She is going to get big and fast. Look at her she's only a few weeks old and already the size of a St Bernard. She can stay at Fishers tonight, but tomorrow I want to bring her to the old Carlton Stables. That place has been abandoned and up for sale for years. There are buildings and a large estate that's forested and used to have trails, I used to ride there as a kid. Really I'm surprised it's never been bought. We can keep her there it's close enough that a couple of us can visit with her everyday and I'll leave my Valkyrie there to watch over her. The place is also a good place for us to hang out. We need some place to train and learn how to fight as a team. This stuff is real and we can't count on anyone but ourselves and we have to be able to work together, know our strengths and more importantly  our weaknesses."

She looks around at the Band waiting for reactions.

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Austin had chimed in with his own parts of the the story, and amazed responses at the tales of the others.  Their parents had certainly helped them this time, but a small part of him wondered what the cost of this help would be.   He was thankful, but pragmatic enough to know someone didn't do this sort of favor for someone without having a line on how that person would repay the favor down the road. 

 

"Much as I would like to say I could keep him, I think Rachel's got the best idea.  He's simply gonna be too big to conceal and care for within the city, or remotely around people.   Better that he's got plenty of area to roam, and someone looking after him.   Not like he will be alone, if we choose to train there as well."

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Grace nodded, honestly a little relieved. It was a smart idea to have a good place to train and the acreage around her foster's house wasn't probably going to be large enough territory for a Namean wolf. "That's an awesome idea," she said. Her tone wasn't exactly excited, but it was the most positive response they'd seen out of their recalcitrant Bandmate in a bit. "Maybe we should check out the place before we take her there, though? I mean, we know all the Weird Shittm that exists now and maybe there is a reason no one's bought it. Either way, we can scout out the best place to set up our Band HQ and what all we want to do to make it a good place to train and hang out."

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  • 2 weeks later...

The children sat in the parking lot, relaying their stories in the moist, cool night of Salem.  Far off in the shadows Marius stood, leaning against a tree.  A part of him was impressed, he honestly didn't' think they'd be able to do it all and not loose a single parent.  Although, truth be told he hadn't considered the Dane or Laurie factor of the evenings events.  Ah well, now he knew they were assisting the Band and could take the proper measures in the future.  All in all, he sort of liked them.  They were a plucky little group and certainly spirited.  Were it not for that blinding streak of morality they seemed to possess he might have attempted to recruit them by now... but, there were still avenues to walk down.  Together they were mighty indeed... but separately... now that was another story.

"Nice work, kids,"  He smiled and pushed off the tree, making his way to the pier for an appointment.  "You earned this one, but it ain't over yet."

 

Salem High Library, a little while later...

The scent of freshly brewed coffee filled the air as the machine gurgled into the pot a steady stream of wake up juice.  Archie pulled the pot from it's base and filled up three cups as a few stray drips sizzled on the hotplate.  He handed a cup to Orlanda and then to Victor before taking the third for himself as he placed the pot back on its base.  "And you're positive, the Myrmidons were there to hunt this wolf, and the wolf was some sort of nemean beast?"

"C'mon Archie, I ain't as green as these damn kids you pamper," Victor shot back.  "I know what the hell was going on.  This wolf though, it was more than nemean, it could talk, the nymphs called it a 'Guardian'.  My question is: what was it guarding?"

Orlanda sipped her ebony drink.  "Victor, it guarded the park.  Honestly, of all the things we've seen, why does a talking, giant wolf have you on edge?

Victor pointed in the general direction of the park.  "Because someone sent twenty something myrmidons up there to kidnap it's puppy to lure it out so they could it."

"You don't know that for sure, why would they kidnap a puppy just to lure out the mother when  they could have just hunted it?"  Salem High's Spanish teacher argued.

"Because it's what I woulda done," He shot back.  "Why divide your forces covering acre after acre when you can it straight to you?  Trust me Olanda, I know my shit when it comes to killing shit, and what I saw today was a straight up massacre.  They were ready for it, they had fuckin' grenade launchers, darlin'!"

"Enough," Archimedes said softly.  "Us losing our cool isn't going to solve any problems, only generate more.  If she was guarding something, I don't know what it could have been.  However, I'll send the Band up there to check it out."

"No," Victor decided flatly.  "I want Eric and the others on this.  The new kids... they're still too green.  They need more training.  If there was something up there that needed guarding, I want more than newbies on it."

"I have to agree with Victor, Archie, at least on this."  Orlanda looked to Archie, then to Victor.  "Vic has done a great job in training them, they're ready."

"Great job?  They're all socipaths?"  Archimedes argued.  "Eric is a bully, Mercedes is a cu-"

"-ontinuing project." The Scion of War butted in.  "Look, they ain't perfect and I didn't teach them how to be people, I taught them how to protect themselves.  You wanna put em' through therapy, be my guest.  Those kids were a piece of work before I ever got a hold of them."

"Alright, fair point," Archie conceded.  "Put Eric and the others on it and we'll wait to see what they discover."

 

The Pier, later...

Marius patiently waited at the edge of the pier.  The chill of the night air seemed uncharacteristically comfortable but he didn't pay it much mind.  The pier was still soaking wet from the divine display earlier that evening, so he paced about, enjoying a slender cigar as he waited.  He had to admit, the last thing he expected was old Fish-For-Brains coming down personally, but what came down, had to go back up.

When he saw a man walking alone down the street at an ungodly hour he knew he was about to meet the man himself: Poseidon.  Marius took another drag from his cigar and the cherry brightened the the darkness of the pier.  He looked down the way at the large man approaching him and he smiled wryly.  When the man disappeared from sight, Marius no longer had the smirk and it was swiftly replaced with an expression of concern.  Softly he murmured, "Where did you go you old bastard..."

"Marius."  Spoke a gravelly voice born from the sea.  It rumbled with the power of the faults and roared with the shifting of the tides.  Before he turned in time the God of the Sea's hand was around his throat and Marius was already on one knee.  "Tonight, I rid the World of you."

"...and the World of mortals will be ruled by the mortals, and thus shall it be protected by mortals.  The gods shall not intervene in mortal affairs."  Was all Marius managed to choke out under the vice-like grip of the Earthshaker.  It was enough though, and Poseidon let him go.  "You've already one infraction to answer to Zeus for this evening, uncle.  Hate for it to be two.  You know how he gets... I may go after your boy, but to prove a point, he'll go after all of them."

"Keep talking," Poseidon said calmly.  "You're almost making it a viable bargain.  I can only assume you want something Marius, what is it?"

"First, take solace in knowing none of the families were in any real danger this evening," the Scion began, brushing off his fedora.  "My men were instructed to scare, not kill, regardless of the outcome.  It was a bit underhanded, I know, but it was the only way to get Olympus's attention.  I'm not surprised to see that you're here instead of my mother."

"Eris has other business."  He stated plainly.  "As did I until your... antics."

"As always.  However, do me a favor?  Tell her that we'll be seeing each other soon."  He slid on his fedora and started his walk down the pier.  "Also, if your boy or his friends get in my way... I will not play games next time.  I will kill them."

Poseidon clenched his fists at his side.  He was a God and yet he rules forbade him from acting upon this tiny, insignificant mortal stripling of a Scion.  "I am no messenger, boy!  I am a god!  The seas and oceans obey my commands and the very earth upon which you exist is my domain!  You, Marius, have overstepped your bounds."  The waters beneath the pier rumbled and raged as the sides of the pier were suddenly framed on either side by a wall of water.  "Humility is often a trait learned in retrospect."

The sky trembled and clap of thunder exploded within the heavens so loud it rumbled the houses and businesses along the pier.  Flashes of lighting danced within the clouds and Poseidon saw they highlighted the face of his brother, Zeus.  Marius smirked as the walls of water lowered and the Earthshaker glared at him with rage that roiled like an angry squall.  "Aye," said Marius.  "That it is."

He didn't bother looking back.  The black clad Scion of Chaos adjusted his head wear and walked to the edge of the pier, his hands dipped low in his coat's pockets.  Rain was coming, it usually did when Zeus was particularly pissed at a small part of the world and while no one here had done anything wrong, he held all the mortals accountable for Poseidon's actions.  Salem was in for one hell of a bad forecast.

He reached the end of the pier and stopped, lighting another slender cigar, when someone clearing their throat caught his attention.  He glanced in the general direction and saw there in the shadows was a young lady clenching a violin case.  "Well, well, and how can I help you young lady?  I sure hope were not going to do one of those 'epic battle' things, I'm just not feeling it tonight."

Laurie stepped from the darkness and into the light of a street lamp.  "I told you, our conversation wasn't over.  Finding you was rather simple, understanding you is proving more taxing, or perhaps, vexing."

Marius inhaled and let the cherry illuminate his shrouded features.  "Well then, sweetie, perhaps we can help each other out..."

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  • Matt changed the title to IC: S1:E2 "The Fast and the Furriest"
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