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[Actual Play] The House Always Wins Chronicle

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  • #16
    It’s time to deal with some of the active plots in Vegas as the Spa opens. They decided to deal with the Slasher, the Clowns, and the Sandworm. Let’s see how it went.

    The start of session 15 is a handout to Avril’s player.
    Session XV

    Kayleigh has welcomed some company from Avril but has been far from pushy. She has moved to an apartment in Hendersonville, which is maybe 10 minutes from the main entrance to the spa. If allowed, she has spent a bit of time sketching Avril’s face.

    Her family has remained away, though her childhood friend Maeve has arrived at least temporarily to help Kayleigh out. Like Kayleigh, she is a bit less than fifty, not at all old in fey terms and certainly not as jaded as some. Kayleigh describes Baobhan Sith as vampiric fey who guard places humans should not visit…fey realms in the world, sacred forests, treasures etc. Many enjoy hunting humans, but Kayleigh says they do not have to do so. Maeve does not, at least so far as Kayleigh knows. At least not beyond her duties, which she admittedly enjoys. She will be on vacation in Vegas, which is human territory, so not a hunting ground. There are rules.

    Maeve is friendly to Avril. She clearly has a flirtatious nature but tries to not flirt with Avril. Avril knows she has gotten somewhat comfortable with her as she lets the clops of her hooves be seen, which Avril has not seen but sounds similar to Darius’, though Maeve is a smaller creature. She is clearly stronger than she looks, which is helpful when one is moving.

    A certain degree of awkwardness has been avoided as Maeve at first is crashing with Kayleigh, something she expects to be very temporary. She does give you folks your space as needed and mostly avoids being a Gooseberry. She has not spent much time in Vegas proper, as ironically while she has been to magic castles in the fey realm, the sheer…busyness of Vegas intimidates her.

    In other news Chiaki does occasionally follow Avril around in the spa, but this seems mostly because she perceives Avril as most like her. Avril can be quiet sometimes, and Chiaki is quiet a lot. There is a sort of nonverbal safety she feels since Avril does not try to make smalltalk just because she is present.


    Imke Scheit stepped away from the reproduction of the statue of liberty into the bright sunlight of a Vegas afternoon. The square was full of people coming and going, but Imke did not fail to notice the woman in red coat and wide brimmed hat watching her.

    “Welcome back, Lioness.” The Hesper looked over her Sunglasses at the blonde woman in the suit.

    “Evie. Nice to see you. Here for day one?”

    Evelyn Eventide pushed off the wall she was leaning against. “Not at all. How was your trip?”

    Imke walked beside her without glancing over. “My jaw and neck hurts, but I think I feel better than I have ever felt in my entire seventy-seven years. Is that a problem?”

    “You feeling good is never a problem of course. You are the hero and I, your ardent admirer.”

    Imke smirked at her. “Cut she shit Evie. What’s on your mind?”

    “You are still cynical, Imke.” Evelyn signed. “I want to make sure Chloe is not too much of a distraction, is all.”

    “Chloe is not a distraction; she is my partner. More spaces open by the way. After my jaw heals.” Imke looked Evelyn over from behind her peek-a-boo As much as she hated to admit it, Evelyn moved her as few women did. Beautiful as the sunset she represented, and no doubt tasted sweet as the fruit she picked. With her heightened senses, Imke could tell Evelyn smelled faintly of apples.

    “Down now Lioness. Eyes on the prize. I am going to speak to Chloe. I do not want that to be a surprise to you. It will not be to tell her to back off. But your mother hand-picked you for the job, and there is more to it than seducing nubile young Nymphs. You have a legitimate task and a cover. Use it.”

    Imke sighed. “Jaja are you actually here lecturing me for spending a week with my girlfriend?”

    “No because you fell in love.”

    Imke stopped dead in her tracks. Evelyn tilted her head looking at her, slowing to a stop with more grace. “Chloe is harmless. They won’t all be. Some will be ready to use you. You should be prepared to use them first.”

    “I wasn’t even sure I still could.” Imke had not started moving again yet. Rivers of people moved around the pair.

    “Of course you can.” The Hesper’s tone became gentler. “If you lacked passion you would not be useful to us. You are not a sociopath Imke. The Theoi have enough of them, and sociopaths make mistakes. Listen, I am here in part because I understand you, I was swooning over women like you while my sisters lusted after muscular men.” Evelyn removed her sunglasses. “Trust me, Imke.”

    Imke looked down at the shorter woman. “I will try, Evelyn. That is the best I can say. It’s hard to trust Chloe, much less a woman with a scheme I figure into.’
    “All I ask.” Evelyn put her sunglasses back on, getting the desert sun out of her eyes. “I have work to do behind the scenes. But if I have time, I will be around soon to show you why I am not worried about Chloe.”

    Imke gives a weak laugh. “Okay. Be careful Evelyn.”

    The Hesper squeezed Imke’s hand and smiled, then disappeared into the crowd. Imke watched her go, before she tuned and continued on her way, the two islands invisible in the sea of people.


    NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November


    Las Vegas, USA

    We have rather hit the ground running. I don’t think the others really took any time off, though Avril in part was helping her girlfriend move. I need to catch up with her on that. Xanthias spent time learning Japanese. I would say “Ah to be young again” but I am young again. So awkward, as Chloe says.

    Also apparently his mother dresses him. Men. I bet Alisa does usually.

    We have our first five guests. One is “Divis Julius” aka Julius Caesar. He was polite and friendly. And manipulative. Next was Circe, who I admit wanting to get to know better, in a non euphemistic sense. Mostly because she is goddamn terrifying. Speaking of which, Echo was back with Oiwa, a grudge ghost with severe scarring. The entire conversation was in Japanese so I did not catch any of it. Maybe that is why Xan learned it. Finally, Hotei, the Smiling Happy Buddha. He was adorable and kind. I would be suspicious but he is a fucking Buddha. If you can’t trust a Buddha who can you trust?

    Xanthias has his mind set on that slasher, so it was best to get that sorted since it was not a human problem. We met up with Aoibheann, who continues to tempt me to shoot her. We also met up with first the Set Scion Maggie Dalton then the Horus Scion Bruce Haas. I don’t think anyone will want a blow by blow of the conversations, so to summarize.

    Alfa: The Slasher is building up some sort of huge Fertility effect. We don’t know what that is. Crom Cruach traditionally is linked to Fertility and Drought, fed by blood, so it tracks. It likes blood sacrifices a lot.

    Bravo: The area where the energy is gathering is guarded by a giant dune-esque sandworm, which we have taken to calling “The Mojave Rattler.” We can only fear what is bigger under the sand.

    Charlie: Milos Grozny, Scion of Chernobog is involved somehow. He seems intent on making people hate him, which builds power over them. Maggie wants to get “The boss” to give her a green light to deal with him. We do not think he is in league with the Slasher, but we are not sure. He has some master plan that seems to involve the Slasher though.

    Delta: The Rattler is intelligent enough to know that chasing a jeep is fruitless and gives up, and it will retreat if badly injured.

    Echo: It sings. Terrifying.

    Foxtrot: The sacrifices are south of Vegas, but not where the Sandworm is, rather closer to town. This may be because…

    Golf: There is a clown motel and cemetery with a doll museum. It is inhabited by zombie clowns who fight with lawn implements. These zombie clowns can turn corpses into more zombie clowns. They can reanimate corpses not destroyed enough even if put down once.

    Hotel: There is a museum of killer dolls next to the motel who attack the living. I am leaving that alone.

    India: The Clowns are trying to move south where…sigh…Bruce’s monster hunter Elvis impersonators hunt them. The zombie clowns are only so intelligent but have a leader who Bruce believes to be a Scion.

    Juliette: I just had a drink.

    Kilo: Éimhín, who I will continue calling Big Ian as I have permission is murdering the…zombie clowns…and the monster hunting Elvis impersonators are wisely leaving the walking nightmare alone to do this.

    Lima: Speaking of nightmares, some dark relic is inside either the motel or museum, which has a necrotic effect and beyond that a fear effect. Bruce says it is corrupting, and he has not told his superiors about it as he is afraid Merneith will want it and get corrupted.

    Mike: Bruce is investigating with a drone. Ranged combat is not the zombie clowns strong suit, which may be the only thing that makes sense here.

    November: It seems possible the intent of the relic is to corrupt whatever the slasher has going on down south. The zombie clowns have not reached it because the monster hunter Elvis impersonators keep destroying them.

    Oscar: I just had another drink.

    Papa: Our plan is to regroup, and possibly try to get Merneith, Bruce, and Maggie to actually work together. Maggie will watch for the Slasher, Bruce scout with the drone. Also pick up Big Ian.

    Quebec: Maggie really, really wants to sleep with me. As does Merneith. I must use this only for awesome, as Chloe says.

    Romeo: I think that is everything. One more drink and I go find my half-sister.


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    • #17
      Then everything started happening very rapidly. Note Jimmy and Johnny’s players could not make; Johnny’s player stepped up with a fic written with Xan’s player. Also Avril’s writing one with Imke and one with Xan.

      Session XVI

      NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November


      Las Vegas, USA

      We have successfully eliminated two of out three targets, via one carefully planned tactical strike and one bit of blind luck.

      At 1000Z we got a message from Avril. She had a friend of her girlfriend named Maeve who is a Baobhan Sith (spelling from Chloe) who spotted our Slasher. Truthfully from the clip clop of her hooves under her long skirt (having gotten used to Lykos and Darius) I assumed she was a female Satyr (which I had admittedly not seen) but her lack of horns and blatantly vampiric powers showed her to be another fey. Anyway. She spotted the Slasher, who was up to no good, while up to no good, and followed her. The Slasher lead her down an alley Maeve was too wise to go down. Instead, she waited while we assembled. Maggie said she was coming but lagged behind.

      The Slasher was well hidden, so the only way to lure her out was with a canary, so I sent my Doppelganger in while removing myself from sight. She did indeed fall violently on my Doppelganger, surprised when she fell apart. She moved like lightning, seeing Avril’s rifle, and striking her down with a brutal slash before we could react. She evaded most of the gunfire, though Alisa managed to graze her, before Maeve, apparently horrified to see her best friend’s squeeze go down under her watch, grabbed the killer, crushing her with apparently prodigious strength, and bringing both to the ground. She got a dagger in the chest for her trouble, though the Slasher’s disorientation left her open to gunfire and a furious Xanthias’s death ray.

      Credit where it is due, Xanthias really brought Avril and Maeve from the brink. Possibly beyond it. Xan really is a skilled healer to match his ego.

      Curiously we found the Slasher, who was apparently an Irish woman named Ciara, according to her ID, had not died, even after I shot her in the head. It was speculated she was being kept alive by her tormentor, Milos Grozny, because of his strength from hatred abilities. Speaking of Mr. The Terrible, on my way back I discovered why Maggie never arrived to assist us; he physically assaulted her via throwing her car around like a toy. Now he was fighting Rashawn, who apparently just burst from the skin of a random motorist like a Xenomorph and attacked him in Crocodile hybrid form. Alisa (also unlucky enough to also be caught in the traffic jam from the Scions fighting) and I met up with Maggie, who we agreed to take to Xan. Apparently, Rashawn was only keeping Milos busy until Merneith, who appeared as an actual damn storm cloud with a face, sucked him into the sky.

      Thankfully Maggie’s injuries were minor compared to Avril or Maeve, the latter of whom returned to Kayleigh to give her a less worrying breakdown of events. Bruce radioed in with footage, and we began to plan how to get the…

      Elvis Impersonating Monster Hunters
      Egyptian Scions
      Greek Scions
      Julius Fucking Caesar

      To fight

      Zombie Psycho Clowns
      Murderous Dolls
      Some sort of weird Clown Scion.

      This would require a second bath. Just to keep things ridiculous, Caesar laid out a battle plan, to approach the Clown Hotel from the back. It was the graveyard side but we would avoid being on the graveyard itself. Big Ian would throw boulders he collected at the building, and the clowns would split to come after us. We commandeered a jeep, with Maggie driving, while the Elvis Impersonators and Caesar were on the other side. They prepared Molotov Cocktails, Avril acquired a flamethrower, and the plan was to stay mobile. We met at 1500Z and rendezvoused with the Elivises (?).

      It worked pretty well. I doubt combat driving was a Set Scion thing but Maggie was pretty decent at it. We mostly stayed ahead of the Clowns throwing cocktails at them while I unleashed the flamethrower. It was all so bizarre, honestly. I believe Johnny would say “That’s Vegas Baby!”

      Eventually, the evil Scion came out, duel wielding a machete and chainsaw. Avril pinned him in place with an expert shot, and Big Ian made short work of him. Eventually, the zombie clowns and homicidal dolls were dealt with, at least outside our nightmares.

      We left the Netjer to secure the scenes, and we went back with Caesar. We deserved some rest, and I wanted to talk to Avril about what happened tonight.



      It's been a while since Avril made anything in an actual kitchen. But after a night so surreal in so many ways, she barely registers this difference. Her mind is far away, her body moving on auto-pilot. She catches herself right before she starts making way more pancakes than any one person could eat. She sighs, adjusts her measurements, and tries to focus on the present.

      Imke walks into the kitchen, her heels audible, but waits by the door, leaning against it. She watches Avril a moment, her entire face visible for once nothing hidden behind her hair showing mismatched eyes. Her demeanor is neither of her usual ones, seductive and confidant or an absolute enigma. Instead, she shows a concerned side which is familiar to very few, though Avril is one. "How are you managing, Duckling?"

      Avril looks up and half-smiles. "We all survived. That's what counts."

      "Ve did." Imke watches her. She can't quite seem to conceal when studying people, but she knows concealing anything from Avril is likely to erode trust, not to mention being very unlikely to work. She mentally kicks herself for making calculations like that for someone like a friend. "But perhaps not unscathed. I spent a lot of time just surviving. Now I vant to see if you need to talk about anything."

      Avril goes back to measuring ingredients. It's obvious that she's trying to keep her hands busy, or to avoid eye contact, or both. "...Wanting to talk and being able to are different for me sometimes."

      She corrects herself. "Most of the time.”

      "I know. I have been there. International Security and the Secrets Act, concealing my homosexuality at all costs, but often it just comes down to not vanting to be wulnerable. The other two became excuses not to talk to anyone." Imke gestures slightly, still trying to decide what to do with her hands without a cigarette. "I will never push, my dear, but I worry you are not okay."

      "I'm..." She's visibly struggling to push the words out. "Not okay." She puts the ingredients down, so as not to spill them. "I haven't lost a fight like that... since before Artemis chose me."

      "You didn't lose. The objective was achieved, and you survived." Imke frowns inwardly at sounding like Command. "That is to say, some fights are bigger than any one of us." A bit more gently. Imke could talk an oligarch out of his fortune, but she struggled to comfort a girl she loved like a sister, and she was annoyed by it.

      Avril gestures emptily for a moment, trying to figure out how to transform the tightness in her chest into words that would ease it. "I used to protect the smaller kids. We weren't friends, or siblings, but they knew if they were scared, I would hurt what scared them. Then I was alone, in the woods, and I only had to protect me. And nature. Now I'm getting protected."

      "You are a good person by nature. I admire that about you. I am... glad to have you as a role model." The Belgian glances at her feet. "And you are our first line of defense. Drawing ire on yourself, taking that hit, meant Xanthias didn't. Which meant ve all valked away. I was invisible." She looks back up. "Vithout you there, Xanthias vould have been the first target, and ve would be planning at least two funerals." She catches herself, her accent returning more to her flat English one. "It's a calculation I have had to make before."

      "How do you deal with..." she gestures emptily again. "All of it?"

      "Well, if I am being honest, for me it was chain smoking, anonymous gay sex, and codeine with bourbon. Sometimes Demerol." That was even worse than it sounded in her head. "That's...not what I recommend for you. Trying to use my second chance better. We can talk. We can support each other. I care about you."

      "I care about you too," Avril says sincerely. "Those are hard habits to kick! You're strong."

      "The physical side Mother removed when I shed fifty-five years. The mental...yes it has been hard. Johnny has helped. Because I am not alone." She steps forward, putting a hand on the more petite woman's shoulder. "Neither are you."

      Avril turns the contact into a hug.

      Imke kisses the top of her head. "We love you, Duckling. Kayleigh clearly does too. Ve...we are here for you.” She smiles gently at her, it meets her eyes. “And... you may not finish dealing with this tonight. But we will get you through it. I respect you. I do. We will get me through it too."

      Avril wipes one of her eyes, trying to be subtle about it. "Having a family is nice. New"

      "Trust me, I know." She hugs her close. "Now...speaking of which, if I would not be a gooseberry, I'd like to watch you cook this. I'm...trying to learn"

      Avril grins. "Thank you pancakes, for Xan. I can show you!"

      "Wunderbar." Another genuine smile she releases to walk with her to the stove. "I'll cook Chloe breakfast yet!"


      Monday Night during the interlude between the slasher fight and the clown hotel assault


      Sapphira paused within her mountain. Her attention was focused on Johnny's room. She was less concerned about him being asleep than being occupied. Hearing only soft breathing she leaned out of his wall and called out, "Johnny?" And then a moment later she repeated louder. "Johnny!"

      "I don't wanna..." Johnny waved off the first gentle call, curling into a tighter ball in bed and tucking the blankets over his head. Then, the second call out made its way through his mind and he blinked, yawning. "What is it?" He didn't look towards Sapphira yet, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

      "Sorry to wake you but... Alesia is up on the roof with a bucket of meatballs feeding Lucky and talking to him. I don't speak snake but I'm pretty sure she could use someone capable of forming compete sentences to talk to." (edited)

      Johnny stands up and stretches, his own nudity not a worry for him as he yawns. "Yeah, that doesn't sound so good. Thanks for the heads up." He smiles at Sapphira and nods, moving about the room and getting dressed in a pair of silk pajamas keeping with the time of night. He checks his hair, grabs a tin of gummies from his drawer and a bottle of whisky, then heads up to the roof.

      The oread nodded back and lingered perhaps a moment or too longer than absolutely necessary as Johnny rose and dressed before sinking back into the stone wall. Up on the roof, Alesia was indeed sitting and leaning against the side of the sky blue Lindwyrm that had become the spa's namesake and mascot. In her lap was a bucket of frozen meatballs from the walk in freezer and she was hissing to the massive creature and occasionally feeding him from the bucket. As Sapphira had told him, even without understanding what she was saying, there was a definite air of melancholy to her tone and posture.

      "Nice night." Johnny's tone was soft and steady as he climbed out onto the roof, eyes lifting up to acknowledge Lucky with a nod before looking back towards Alesia. He knew better than to look into her eyes but he still seemed to be looking towards her face as he smiled and approached.

      The gorgon turned her head but only enough for him to see her face in profile and show him she'd removed her usual red lensed glasses. However, a number of her snakes turned to face him as a small smile curled the edge of her lips unconsciously. "You are not waiting for Elvis to finish his recon so you can join Caesar in assaulting a hotel full of zombie clowns and creepy dolls. You should be sleeping."

      Johnny couldn't help blinking a few times at the absurdity of that statement, regardless of where their lives had taken them as of late. He was, after all, having a casual conversation with a gorgon. Normal was long behind him. He chuckled softly and shook his head, plopping down within arms reach of Alesia, pulling the bottle of whisky from his coat pocket. "Perhaps, but then I wouldn't be up here finding someone to help me drink this bottle."

      Her gaze drifted to the bottle and she bit the edge of her lower lip a moment. "I shouldn't," she said. But after a short pause she reached over to take the bottle, "But friends do help each other out... and we are friends, aren't we?"

      He lifted the bottle to her hand and smiled. "We are, and we do. Plus, this is the good stuff. Glenfarclas 25 year old."

      She lifted the bottle gingerly and took a sip, closing her eyes and leaning back a bit as she savored it. "Oh that is good," she replied as she handed him back the bottle, "Keep this up and you'll spoil me."

      He chuckled softly and found a spot to lean against, hearing Lucky grumbling about something, but unfortunately Johnny had no idea what. "You two have a good conversation up here?" He nodded towards the giant wyrm and then looked back at her as he took a swig from the bottle, savoring the surprisingly smooth scotch.

      She glanced up at Lucky as well and nodded. "Haven't forgotten about you." She rose and then hissed something to him before lifting up the half full bucket. The Lindwyrm plucked it from her grasp surprisingly gracefully before slithering down the tower. "Lucky's a good listener but he doesn't really offer much in the way of advice. I'm guessing that's what you're here to do."

      "If that's what you need. A little oread told me you were up here, the rest was on me." He smiled and popped open the tin from another pocket, offering her an assortment of THC gummies. "Pre-dosed, and nothing too wild just enough to help one relax if needed. Feel free to take one, or not. Won't bother me either way."

      She nodded. "Still not used to her being everywhere at once," she told him as she moved closer to lean against the wall beside him. "I would, but I really need to be alert and I'm already overdue for some sleep." Then she shifted slightly closer and let her shoulder brush his arm. "This is going to sound like a weird question but... do you feel like the same person you were before your calling?"

      As she shifted in closer he wrapped an arm around her comfortably and held her close. "Not that weird a question. I grew up knowing I was something special, but never really knowing what that meant. And I spent a long time without direction or meaning in my life. I guess my answer is that I do feel mostly like the same person, but... more." He made hand gestures trying to accentuate the word 'more', a little awkward with his arm around her shoulder. "Why do you ask?"

      She relaxed against his side and nodded as she listened, her face downturned but her snakes turned intently toward him. "I've known Xan... well as long as I've known things. We grew up together. Same nice houses and highly qualified caretakers. It was part of the deal my mother struck with Hades, I got the same upbringing his son did. We've known who his parents were all along. But... but knowing is not the same as living it. You weren't there but tonight I watched Xanthias smite that woman with the literal wrath of an angry death god." She paused and then softly added, "But it was when he lost Maeve. I've been there when he's lost patients. He stabilized Avril and then he was working on her and he... he lost her Johnny. And he just hardened his expression and he said no. Not in despair or anger or denial. He just told her she wasn't allowed to die and then his power surged and she was whole."

      "Wow. That must have, yeah that's something. I've seen that determination in his eyes, but not like that. Being in that kind of presence is honestly terrifying. The most I've seen is Dad when he is in his element. The whole world feels like a party, like nothing else could matter more. But, that's not the same. Not even close."

      She nodded. "It's like you said. He's... more." She fell silent a moment as the thought followed in her head. After a moment more she glanced over, looking toward Johnny's chest but not meeting his gaze directly. "And I'm not."

      He curled her in against his chest, so she could look down towards his lap or the roof of the spa as he petted her back. His eyes lifted to the horizon, enjoying the serene feeling of it all. "You are what you are meant to be. And he is what he is meant to be. He is learning and growing, which we all have the capacity for. You are no different in that regard. I promise." He smiled warmly, looking down towards the top of her head as he did and reaching up, then pausing. "Can I touch the snakes or like, is that taboo... or dangerous, even?"

      She let him pull her into the embrace and closed her eyes as she felt his touch on her back. It was nice, soothing. She relaxed into him and nodded along with his words. When he paused and asked about the snakes she couldn't help but smile a little. "It is dangerous," she admitted, "But I promise I won't bite you. Just... be gentle. They... I... am sensitive."

      He smiled and gently petted one of the snakes on the head with a single finger, brushing up between its eyes and down to the back of its neck in gentle strokes. "Thanks." He felt a little silly saying that but shrugged it off, just enjoying the moment. "Sorry I wasn't there. I know, I know, someone has to hold down the fort sometimes but I hate that it got that bad and I wasn't there to do... something."

      She shivered a little and murmured at the touch. "It's. This is nice." The snake nuzzled into his touch as the others shifted and leaned closer as well, some lightly brushing his hand. "I'm kinda glad you weren't there," she admitted, "I saw how she gutted Avril and Maeve. I'm glad I didn't see that happen to you... or Xan." She shivered a little and added, "Not that I'm okay with them being hurt. But... um... Avril's tough and clearly used to fighting and well, I hadn't seen Maeve before tonight. And. Well. I like you. Johnny."

      Johnny felt a little warmth pass through him at those words. "I like you too Alessia. I wouldn't want that happening to me, either. Or you. But maybe if I'd been there, there'd be enough targets to... I don't know. I'm rambling."

      She slipped her arms around him to hug him. "You'd have done something," she agreed, "Something brave and most likely foolish. And most certainly awesome." She squeezed him tighter. "You're a good man Johnny Miravino."

      He wrapped around her tight, holding her close as he smiled at her words. "Not 'power over life and death' awesome, though. That's hard to top." He chuckled softly, turning it into a little bit of a joke as he continued to hold her.

      She bit her lip and just relaxed into the embrace. "Maybe not. But you came up here to talk to me and... and I needed that. It's been... too long since anyone held me like this. I'm dangerous and that scares people. Or worse, it excites them and... and then it's not really about who I am but what I am and that's just... just not what I want. And... and now I'm the one rambling."

      "I could get used to this. The quiet, the alone except for who you want to be with. I'm always surrounded. Always wanted, always sought after but... I can't tell if it's for me, or because of what I am. So, I guess in some way... I get it. And I'll always be here, if you need to talk. Any time, any place." He smiled and almost went to kiss the top of her head then decided against that, the snakes not scaring him but he didn't want to push it either.

      "Yeah. I think you do get it." Then she nodded and reluctantly relaxed her hold on him, easing back gently until there was a little space but not so far as to pull out of his arms or to remove her hands from his sides completely. She closed her eyes and lifted her face. "And I'm here for you too. Thank you. I really needed... all of this."

      "I'm really glad I could give you this, then." He smiled as she lifted her face, leaning in and closing his eyes as he kissed her forehead. "This is usually the point where I'd invite you down to my room, but..." He let it hang, licking his lips and relaxing back, looking out towards the distance again. (edited)

      Her smile widened at the soft kiss and he could feel her eyes, even behind her lids, move down from his own. "Elvis. Zombie Clowns. Caesar." she reminded him. It was neither rejection nor acceptance. She started to move back. But then, she abruptly moved back in and lifted herself up on her toes to brush his lips with a quick kiss before actually stepping back and turning so she could open her eyes safely.

      "Well, when you put it like tha..." He was cut off as she lifted up, a soft moan of surprise leaving his lips as he kissed her back. His lips were slightly open but he didn't press, didn't push for more as she pulled back to leave his arms. He let her go and stood, straightening his pajama top. "You going to be okay up here, or can I at least walk you back inside?"

      She moved closer and took his hand. The nervousness in her was visible as she nodded and took a slow breath. She let him guide her quietly, her mind racing back and forth. "I should go hunt and or gather something to eat before it's time to roll out and that really could be any minute now." Reaching to take his other hand in her own and squeeze them both gently, she wet her lips. "I... You should also... maybe pick up some protection. A proper blindfold." She blushed, her pale skin turning bright. "And maybe... um... never mind." Suddenly her blush lit up more and she released his hands to look away.

      He took her hands calmly and walked towards the door to head back inside. "I'll be ready, this time. And as for the other... give it time, and if you still want to you know where my room is." He let her slip away but walked beside her, leading her down back into the spa proper.


      Monday Night during the interlude between the slasher fight and the clown hotel assault


      Avril hesitated at the door of Xan's office. She'd never actually been in it, and wondered belatedly if he's one of those people who's very specific about when and where they eat. Would pancakes at his desk be a problem? Should she have made enough for Alesia? Those two are rarely apart.

      Avril knocked before she could overthink things further.

      Xanthias looked up from his computer at the sound. "Enter," he called out and turned his chair to face the door and the seats between his desk and it. he'd made sure the computer was on the side of the L shaped desk to avoid having it between him and anyone he was meeting with, though it did mean the screen was visible if one wanted to look, though presently it was nothing more incriminating than a page of reviews for local Japanese restaurants.

      Avril entered, bringing the smell of breakfast with her. She carried a tall stack of pancakes, decorated with chocolate chips and red icing spelling out "Thank you"

      Xan looked from her to the pancakes, the smell reminding him acutely of how long since he'd eaten. "Oh, you didn't have to bring those all the way here..." He stopped as he took in the chips and icing and realized the significance. His demeanor relaxed, letting the accumulated fatigue show but also the genuine smile that came to both his lips and his eyes at the gesture as he rose. "You didn't have to do anything," he repeated in a softer tone, "But I certainly appreciate it. They smell delicious."

      Avril smiled and placed them on his desk. "You saved my life. And Maeve's. Pancakes are the least I could do"

      He nodded. "I'm a doctor and a healer. I'm just glad I found the strength to mend you both."

      "I also heard about a death ray?"

      "Ah, yes." He shifted and nodded. "I called upon my connection to death to strike the slasher down after she proved to be so dangerous and seemed to be shrugging off all but Imke's likewise death aspected attacks."

      Avril nods in approval. "You saved lives and kicked ass."

      Xan chuckled. "Not quite how I'd put it but yes, I suppose I did. I've not really reached out to that particular aspect of that connection before. The anger and fear seemed to help motivate me." he chuckled.

      A flash of something soft crossed Avril's face. She glanced back to the door she entered through. "Me and Imke were talking about... talking more. About fear and anger and the rest. It's hard but... we all should try, when we need to. I hope you know if you ever need to... you can." She wondered if that made sense.

      Xan's smile widened and he nodded. "I'm not sure most of us are used to having allies..." He stopped and shook his head. "No, Kin." He looked away for a moment then back to her with a more somber expression. "I know that I should feel more conflicted about what I did to that woman. It should feel... wrong to cause such grievous harm. But I have no regrets for striking down someone who harmed one of mine."

      "Kin," she repeated to herself. To Xan she said, "Some people think if you kill a killer, you're as bad as them. Not true. Stopping the Slasher stops her from killing anyone again."

      Xan nodded. "That it does. And we know that she would have. Perhaps there was some means to bring her around without violence, but it was not within my grasp in that alley. And in a hour or so we'll be fighting another scion responsible for perpetuating vile acts and I do not expect that he shall survive either. And I am not overly upset about that. I fear my ethics professor would be sorely disappointed in me right now."

      She shruged. "Your ethics professor could try our job, if they wanted."

      Xan laughed. "I doubt that would end well at all. But your point is well made. the real world is never as black and white and absolute as the ideal one in our minds."

      "I guess ideals are nice. Gives us something to aim for."

      He nodded. "Indeed they do." He sighed and moved back to his chair. "But we live in this imperfect world and we simply must do our best." He looked to the stack of pancakes. "Please tell me you made enough for at least yourself as well?"

      Avril was about to decline, but her stomach rumbled. It is a big pancake stack... "Can I steal one back?"

      Xan grinned and gestured toward the plate. "Sharing is what kin is all about, yes?"

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      • #18
        The battle with the Sandworm and some romances advance. Stay turned for the mysterious letter at the end.
        Session XVII

        NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November


        Las Vegas, USA

        A short report this time. The team, minus Alisa, assembled in the Southern Mojave to fight the rattler. It was indeed huge, but we were ready. It managed to grab Xanthias but was killed before it could do more. It was indeed a huge worm, with tentacles around a toothy maw.

        Then a Second Rattler began to rise. The first was bigger than a bus. The second would dwarf it. However, it was addled by some force as soon as it began to rise. We managed to kill that one too, slowed as it was, then we noticed the clouds gathered in a swirl, and Chernobog appeared.

        He was not pleased with us. Apparently the reason Milos was protecting the Ciara was so Chernobog could seize control. Before he could threaten too much, however, Caesar appeared, gladius drawn. Hades, Hecate, Hermes, Artemis, and Dionysus. The Black God chose to leave. Caesar quipped he was wise.

        With that, we have defeated two enormous creatures, two evil Scions, and a hoard of zombie clowns in the past 24 hours. I am going to sleep, then I am going to dance.


        Xanthias has asked Kuro out on a date. Kuro knew this was a bad idea and told me (and Alisa) what was going on. I went to tell Johnny and Jimmy. Johnny said “Malaka.” I could not agree more. But I am letting the boys sort this one.



        “Is this not amazing? Who would have thought it would ever happen.”

        The Piranha club was a Queer club. Two beautiful and elegant women watched the room, one in black, one in red.

        “I have spent most of my time in a garden. This many people is disorienting.” The lady in red scanned the room. “It’s…not the same for me. Yes, I am used to women more interested in men than us, but…that is no stranger to me than everything else. The garden is not a place people freely come from and go to.”

        The woman in black watched with her visible eye, scanning the bodies of some of the women dancing. “A difference, I suppose, between us. I saw people beaten to death for this. People hang themselves if anyone caught them. I lost a lot of personal friends to that. But look at this. Doesn’t it make you happy, Evelyn?” She patted her companion’s hand.

        “I am here to be with you. The backdrop matters much less.” The Hesper gave a winning smile to the other woman. “Still, tis a lively place.”

        “How did the meeting with Chloe go, by the way.” Imke gave a quick glance.

        “Better than Chloe expected it to. She’s pretty, and I like her. She is no ditz. Her music could do with some work but she is a natural at clothing design. I respect her.”

        “Good. That makes things easier.” Imke half smiles. “You know, I am not going to be distracted by a big rack or great pair of legs. For long.”

        “Oh no, what chance do I have?” Evelyn chuckled. Imke rose and pulled her up into a dance Evelyn smelled like apples. Imke was starting to like apples.

        “You’re a schemer, Evelyn. Like me. You have been biding your time, until now, until me.”

        Evelyn Eventide allowed herself to be pulled against Imke’s chest. “The men of the Theoi run everything. The women compete for their attention. Even Hera is distracted by an apple that proves she is best. Everyone suspects Artemis is gay but she is coy. Your mother does not play their game but she remains aloof. You Imke, you’re a dyke.” She breathes on her neck. “I want you to change things. I want to be close to you when it happens. At your side, or your feet if I must.”

        Imke looked into the shining eyes of the lady in red. “Glady. I am going to take you to bed tonight, Evelyn. I want you like I have no one else.”

        Evelyn caressed the blonde’s face. “I am not your strumpet, Imke. I am your partner. A lot of Nymphs are watching you. Especially those like me, some of whom don’t come out when heroes come by, some of whom cower behind Artemis. Protect. Us.”

        Imke pulled her into a kiss. She had craved this since she laid eyes on Evelyn. Now the Hesper melted into her arms.

        “I will. I am not a shield. But your knife? That I can be.”

        Evelyn ran her hand through Imke’s long hair. She had finally found a hero. Now she had to be sure she succeeded.




        Alesia sat up slowly and rubbed her eyes. To Johnny’s credit, whatever he’d given her had given her a relaxing night and a sound slumber without leaving her feeling anything more than a little dehydrated and that was likely more that she simply hadn’t bothered to eat or drink anything. She filled the glass in the bathroom and downed it to get the dryness out of her mouth.

        “What are you looking at?” she asked her reflection. Thankfully, it chose not to answer.

        Xan had wanted to talk last night and had only agreed to follow through with his ill fated date and do it today at her insistence. She wasn’t sure what time it was but she had no doubt he was awake, dressed, and waiting for her already. But he was going to have to wait a little longer, no way she was heading home without a shower and dressing. And, you know, maybe a little makeup.


        It didn’t really surprise Alesia to find the mustang parked at the way-station for her. Leaving it and finding another way home after he’d brought Kuro back was the sort of thing Xan did. A little while later, she pulled into the drive of their house and grabbed the breakfast she’d picked up along the way. One last glance in the side mirror to check her makeup and then she headed inside.

        The scent of cooking hit her as she stepped inside. Xanthias emerged from kitchen, the pinstriped apron she’d bought him somewhat jokingly last Christmas over his black turtleneck and jeans. He looked at the bags in her hands and then to the plates he was carrying. “Great minds,” he said with a forced tone of levity.

        She moved to the table and started to unpack the food she’d brought as he moved to set the plates down and rearrange the food to make room on them. For the first time she could recall, the silence felt awkward.

        It was Xanthias that broke the quiet. “You know that moment when you’re watching something and the twist reveal happens and suddenly you think back over all the foreshadowing that you missed and it feels like it should have been obvious and you feel like an idiot…”

        “You’re not an idiot.”

        He shook his head. “A fool then?” She frowned. “I just… I knew there was something bothering you. I kept trying to figure out what it was and how I could help and the whole time I was the problem. I was blind and I am so sorry.”

        “You’re not a mind reader Xan. And even if you were, you wouldn’t do it to me. I should have said something. It’s my fault.”

        It was Xan’s turn to frown as he looked down at his plate. They ate in silence for a few moments, neither quite sure how to proceed.

        “So how did your date go?” She asked suddenly.

        “The restaurant was excellent. Kuro found both the cuisine and decor to be pleasantly authentic and they had made sure that the private dining room was completely free of any open flame as I’d requested. We should go there sometime.”

        Alesia shook her head. “Xan. I asked how the date went, not for a review of the where it took place.”

        “While I confess that I did have romantic intentions, Kuro made it clear that she… does not. She prefers her sex without any emotional elements to complicate it. Not that she does not have quite a bit of experience with such and she did make a point of sharing some of it with me, clearly feeling that I needed some education in such matters.”

        “I can think of worse ways to spend the evening than being coached on relationships by sex on eight legs.” Alesia remarked before she caught herself and looked up.

        But Xan was smiling. “But you can also think of much better ways to spend an evening with her, yes?”


        “We were both thinking it. And she did make it clear to me that she has every intention of bedding us both. Just that she prefers silken entanglements to emotional ones.”

        Alesia bit her lower lip and nodded. “She.. uh… did say something along those lines to me last night.”

        Xan reached to place his hand on her own and squeeze it gently. “Then we clearly have quite an adventure to look forward to at some point… together.”

        She turned her hand to lace her fingers into his and squeeze back. “Together forever,” she said softly, “Not that this was what you had in mind back then.”

        He held her hand and rubbed his thumb across the back of it. “I knew I loved you.”

        “Like a sister.”

        “But you are not. And you are a beautiful and intelligent woman.”

        She blushed and looked down, though her snakes continued to watch him closely. “Xan…”

        “What if I told you I have desired you for quite some time?”

        She snapped her head up but then turned to look past his shoulder. “What? Xanthias Plutonides, if you are about to tell me that we have been living some bullshit romantic ironic…”

        He leaned in and interrupted her and the conversation with a kiss that she quickly responded to and deepened. The silence lasted several minutes, though it was anything but awkward this time.

        “I was afraid you didn’t feel the same way and that if I told you it would ruin what we had,” he said when they did finally draw apart.

        She closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against his. “Please tell me this isn’t why you kept breaking up with those hot nurses and doctors.”

        “Not exactly,” he offered, “I wanted more than just sex but there wasn’t time for real relationships between the long hours and the constant relocation. I’m not sure when I realized that what I really wanted was what I had with you… just more.”

        She wrapped her arms around him and pulled herself in tightly against him, resting her head on his shoulder. “That sounds familiar.”

        “I think perhaps the reason I didn’t see what you needed was that I convinced myself that I was projecting what I wanted.”

        “Xan,” she sighed, “I love you but you overthink everything.” She turned and nipped at his earlobe before whispering. “But I’m pretty sure I can make you stop thinking for a little while at least.”



        Your modern Argonauts are, as anticipated, doing well with their appointed tasks. Yesterday’s overwhelming successes were no aberration. The Lucky Lindworm Spa has been established without any significant issue, down to, as you know, the adoption of a Lindworm.

        The staff are an interesting blend. The Spa has a patron Oread, Sapphira. Sapphira is young, a bit naive, but very reliable. There is also a Naiad, Lenore, who has a similar role with regard to the Spa. She is less malleable, being originally connected to a drowning pool drained due to the severity of its reputation. Lenore was saved in her move and has not caused any problem at all. She and she is very reverent toward the group, especially Xanthias and Johnny. Bar is handled by Darius the Vintner, a longtime follower of Dionysus, and he manages kitchen staff. Darius is reliable as Satyrs go and has taken a personal interest in the Argonauts and his coworkers. Handling more physical issues are Lemures named Sulla and Donum, a Lar they named Alexis, and a Maenad named Evangeline and her troop of mean girls who hang out with the Satyrs. They all seem to like the Argonauts.

        Xanthias is doing well with Alisa and Leski who are often at his side. Alisa seems a bit lovesick but I don’t think the relationship seems too unstable. I admit, I am not the best one to judge on relationships.

        There are a number of Kami present, for reasons I will get to. Hikaru is a Karakasa-Kozō, a sort of Kami called a Tsukumo-Gami, sort of animate mischievous object. Hikaru keeps things clean. The sex trade is handled by Kuro, a large spider that transforms into a woman called a Jorōgumo. Despite some initial wrinkles she fit in well. There is also a Kami named Chiaki, a Kuchisake-Onna which is a…sort of ghost whose face has been disfigured.

        The Argonauts have a number of influences. Xanthias is, as you are aware, watched over by Medusa, who thus far has kept her distance. Her long-term plans are unclear. I should say, again, her returning to the world could become an issue. She is very angry and releasing her would be deeply unwise, however long life continues. Anyway, Lykos the Satyr looks out for Johnny and gets in trouble with Darius, Daedalus is involved but thus far only seems to come in and take Jimmy’s car apart from time to time. Imke is being…influenced…by a Hesper who is going by “Evelyn Eventide” and concealing her identity. ________, if she is in your employ, it would be good of you to tell me. Imke is also in a relationship with a younger Oread named Chloe. The Hind Watches over Avril, and she is in a relationship with a Fae called Kayleigh. Kayleigh is a potential problem, she is a Leanhaun Shee, a Fae who consumes the creativity and life of their victim. At this time, Kayleigh does not seem to be feeding on Avril but an intervention may become necessary.

        Speaking of intervention, the Oread Echo, who’s background requires no reminding, is influencing the group. Nudging them along a path. Her long-term goals are uncertain, but she has grudges. _______, I would ask about how she was recommended to influence the Argonauts, why she has a physical form, and how she broke her curse.

        All this aside, they have established the spa, ingratiated themselves to the Netjer who function as the local peacekeepers. They met with several “Influencers” and got some hype, and the initial visitors to the spa have arrived, including Circe and Divis Julius.

        Xanthias was a concern that his ego would become a problem with regard to the others in the group. I know the matter was discussed before his selection. This has not occurred. Instead, the group is very loyal to him, and the staff is as well. He is a talented planner and leader. He seems to be figurehead of the spa, and the one keeping the Argonauts on task.

        Xanthias has something of a fixation on Monsters. This may be because of his close association with Alisa. Part of the reason for the more unusual members of the crew, from Lucky the Lindworm to Chiaki, are his tendency to assist Monsters where possible. What may be a problem for you is his lack of concern for where they stand on the Titanomachy. He would, I suspect assist one trying to free the Titans as well as a loyal ally of Zeus. Granted, all the Titans, like all life, is finite and will return to the void from which it came, but it may be concerning to you thus I am duty bound to report.

        I cannot contest that he does not know how to use the advantages he has gained. He is the only one in the group to begin founding a Cult, and he has a Ghost called Sam working as an Apprentice. In a decade he will have an army of monsters. Underestimate him at all peril.

        The other talkative member of the group is Johnny. I am not exaggerating when I say nearly everyone who has met him likes Johnny. He usually has a group of humans around him and works closely with Darius and Evangeline. Yes, even a Maenad likes him. Xanthias may be the figurehead, but Johnny is the one everyone comes to.

        I am given to understand he is seen a rather good hearted by his fellows. Never unleashing Blight or Madness on the undeserving. He definitely uses typical 21st Century values to determine who is deserving, but this endears him to many. If people have a deep respect for Xanthias after meeting him, they like Johnny and want to meet him again.

        Johnny is using the Spa to distribute some of his inebriating plants. His talents give him an advantage with finding customers. I would anticipate his product appearing in various Midrealms anytime, possibly beyond before too long.

        Imke is as charismatic as either of her fellows but is much quieter. She has, it seems, a similar job to myself, watching everything. How far these activities go, and her ultimate loyalties, I am uncertain of. She meets agents of her Mother, the suspicious Hesper Evelyn, and her partner Chloe. She also conceals a certain amount of her activities from me and takes exception to me paying attention to them. She has never threatened me, but she has made sure I could see her pistol.

        Imke is the sort of woman who is aware of her appeal to others and is more than willing to use it. In addition to the women above, she has seduced an Unseelie Noble, local Scions, some of the Influencers, and has made it clear she intends to do so with me. While I normally lack a particular desire to do anything similar to the creation of life, I find Imke creeping into my thoughts and dreams. I also may fall under her influence, at least to a degree. Interestingly she only seems to flirt with men she is hostile to. I can only offer that in general she has a taste for Nymphs. Which I suppose puts her in large company. If outsiders respect Xanthias and like Johnny, they desire Imke.

        On the negative side, Imke is…violent. She has drawn weapon on more people than the rest of the Argonauts combined. I believe she has a plan to kill every person I mention in this letter if necessary. I think she needs to be watched. I confess, some of this may come from my disquiet from her influence on me.

        Speaking of Secrets, those are Jimmy’s stock and trade. Perhaps appropriately given this, I have less information on him. I originally figured he would be a typical Scion of his Father, with a turbocharged car and a power over Journeys. He has proven deeper than that.

        What precisely has been involving himself with I am unsure. The others busy themselves with Tasks but Jimmy seems to largely be watching, providing assistance where necessary. He has a good friendship with Imke, and often works with Xanthias on Occult matters. Perhaps he is building some laboratory somewhere beneath the Spa. Or perhaps he does not know what to do with himself yet.

        While Imke, Avril, and Alisa keep firearms ready for when trouble starts, Jimmy is the one who is skilled with hand-to-hand combat. He seems to be one of those most physical of the group, even competing with a Giantess on physical challenges. I suppose he has a way of getting along with people who the others don’t gravitate too.

        Still waters run deep, and Avril is no exception. Like Imke and Jimmy, Avril is quiet, and let their actions speak for them. Like Imke, Avril has a certain draw to a certain group of people. A lot of women specifically seem to be attracted to her. The Nymphs spend at least as much time talking about her as anyone else. Unlike Imke, however, she is no seductress. She is a talented and earnest woman with a variety of skills, not least of those with camera and rifle.

        It does her a disservice to talk about her appearance when she is so capable, however, Avril approaches a hero of the classical era more than any of the men. A deadly shot, skilled survivalist, stealthy hunter, I would put my bets on her above any others to join your numbers. Or perhaps I have the same addling so many other Nymphs have.

        Avril has become involved in the politics of the Unseelie Court, because of her partner Kayleigh. Kayleigh is not, herself, interested in such, as far as I can tell, but her Mother is, and this will ultimately drag her into it. As her Mother, whose name I am not privy to, tries to achieve a higher status, I fear Avril will be dragged into it. Admittedly, they do not, I think, know the danger they court. Avril will not, I suspect, tolerate mistreatment.

        Your team is doing well. The choices are solid. I have concerns about Medusa, Echo, Evelyn and a couple others, but none are certain enemies. I am pleased to be here. Keep an eye on the Lucky Lindworm.

        I remain,

        O Προάγγελος


        A pre-reader I had for the letter at the end gave it back with a “If you were a main campaign villain you would tell me right?” which is one of the best bits of feedback I have gotten.

        This story was wild. And possibly confusing. If you have comments or questions they are welcome.

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        • #19
          Session XVIII

          A Scion of Vishnu arrives with a job, one that takes the team out of Vegas for the first time.

          NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November

          ENTRY: DELTA ONE

          Lamia, Hellas

          At 2200Z one of the most beautiful non-Nymphs, if not the most beautiful non-Nymph, I have ever met walked into the Spa. Mira is a Scion of Vishnu, and she had a job for us.

          I will explain this as best as I understand it, without claiming it is completely correct. As they say in English it is a bit out of my wheelhouse. One of the infamous WMDs of the Devá had been stolen. This weapon, rather than a lance or a sword, was instead some mathematical proof or property on a Sutra Mira called the Nine Headed Naga Dharma Equation. The Nine Headed Naga Dharma Equation draws all the bad karma in the area into a fiery, explosive and presumably nine headed dragon or snake, which wrecks the area. Using it in a place of purity or kindness will make a spark to light a cigarette, but using it in, say, Tartarus, a place of torture and horror, would be devastating. Mira believes an Asura going by the nom de guerre Razor Tiger stole it and wants to sell or trade it to an agent of the Titans.

          I am still not sure if I am an agent of the Titans or not. I don’t think so?

          There was more to it I did not quite understand, about Buddha Natures and Bodhisattvas, but the Important part is it is hard to interpret, as one must be in touch with one’s Buddha Nature, which Chloe says is part of achieving Nirvana, and understand Sanskrit and be capable of some sort of esoteric math. It is too much for a non-Bodhisattva to understand, so one requires the Sutra. If all that makes sense to you great, I only follow any of it because of Chloe, and she is no Buddhist

          Mira suggested rather than being stealthy we roll around like we were on vacation. But keep our actual goals quiet even as we live large. THAT I can do. We got a location in Hellas near Alisa’s aunts Steno and Euryale, sisters of Medusa.

          The trail starts in Lamia, Hellas. We wound up using the Pyramid Chloe used to get us to Corinth at 1100Z and from there Jimmy drove us to Lamia. If I am being honest, it was a fun road trip. Mira was very serious and on subject, but we had fun chatting in Jimmy’s magical automobile. We stayed at [REDACTED] which was a nice hotel. Mira, being businesslike, set about to doing local research for local leads. The rest of us ventured to visit the Gorgons, around 1500Z.

          The walk was nice apart from a Nymph, apparently named Daphne, who tried to lure us into the water before seeing how many of us there were and that we had a Gorgon of our own. Then we approached the cave. The ground abruptly turned grey past the end of the foliage and petrified Italian soldiers from the second World War stood vigil outside. Entering the foreboding cave led to many more, some damage by gunfire, as well as a few stone tourists. Hissing steam and hot springs could be found inside, as well as some pools of boiling water. Before going too far, Avril and I noticed after we crossed a crevasse into a stone garden that one of the Gorgons was watching us through the scope of an old rifle. Xan called out who we were, and the sniper disappeared Gorgons appeared after a bit, in a comedy and tragedy mask.

          The conversation was surreal as we moved to a room strewn with pillows. Steno and Euryale were quite isolated from the modern world, seeing their rifle made at the close of the 19th century as new. After interacting with Evelyn, Sapphira, Echo, Chloe and Tristessa being very in tune with the modern world, it was odd. Still, While Steno was somewhat aggressive, Euryale handled things…maybe not smoothly like Xanthias or Johnny would, but with us all getting along. They recommended we talk to Acacia a Lamina in, well, Lamia as she knows a fair amount about what happens in the city.

          We returned and decided to take the evening off. Johnny arranged for a date for Xanthias and Alisa, then went to explore the nightlife. Johnny went scouting for touchstones while Avril explored the city. Mira was playing the role of my handmaiden, so I decided to have us retire early.

          The following morning, we looked into what Mira had found. She had three addresses, a warehouse rented by some individuals from Sri Lanka rented, after first renting a different one that caught fire. They rented a house in town and ate at a particular Turkish restaurant. While the first warehouse is now rented by some company, the house is vacant and the warehouse is still being rented.

          We decided Avril, my “handmaiden” and I would visit the house. Would not be the first time I did that sort of job. Xanthias and Alisa would go to find Acacia under the city, and Johnny and Jimmy would check out the restaurant.

          Looking forward to seeing how this goes



          Mira opened her eyes and abruptly sat up in the bed, taking in her surroundings breathlessly. Beside her, the taller woman shifted languidly, her pistol The Dagger of Moonlight and Bone appearing in her hand. “Wat is het? Eendje?”

          Mira blinked, then glanced down at the blonde beside her. “Sorry. It’s safe I just…nightmare. Last person who held me in bed…it ended badly. “

          Imke sat up, putting the Dagger on the night table. “Girlfriend?”

          “Boyfriend. I told you, I haven’t done anything with a woman before.” She rubbed her eyes. “I am going to need to…” There was a long pause. “If I cry, I am sorry. I am emotional.”

          Imke quickly sat up and pulled the other women to her. “Do what you need to. Do you want to…to talk about what happened?”

          “No. Imke I am not that close to you. I have only known you a few days. Sorry.” She smiled to the Theoi, slightly. “This behavior is unprecedented for me.”

          “Okay Duckling.” Imke kissed her head. “Should I get you a drink?”

          “I don’t think drinking when I am emotional is helpful.” She laughs a little sadly, then pauses with a thought. “Do your bond girls usually survive, out of curiosity?”

          Imke got up and crossed the room, getting a Sprite for Mira and Bourbon for herself. “So far so good.” She knocked on the wooden bar. “I have a partner, Chloe, and a…partner I guess who goes by Evelyn. Both Nymphs. Chloe is about my age, Evelyn…I try not to think about it.”

          “Oh, Chloe the Fashionista. Right. Heard of her Nymphagram.” Mira takes the glass and sips some of the Sprite.

          “You should meet her while we are in Hellas.” Imke sat beside her on the covers, not feeling a need to cover up herself as Mira was doing. “I’d say you should meet Evelyn but she would probably speak in riddles.”

          “Slow down there Ms. Bond. I am not in your polycule yet. I’m not usually all that attracted to women. At least, I did not think that was my Stridharma.” She sipped again. “Besides, I may be due a minor breakdown. I feel it coming.”

          “Do you need to be left alone Duckling?” Imke’s voice had concern.

          Mira laughed, with more warmth. “I’ll have the decency to have my breakdown in the shower, thanks.” She rose, but she heard Imke’s breath catch as she admired her. In a quick burst of emotion, she turned and kissed the Belgian, with an intensity Imke was not prepared for and left her gasping for breath.

          Mira looked over at her, a small smile playing at her lips. “I am not normally the sort of girl to do this so soon. But…thank you. I needed this. A lot. I’ll be okay when I come back from the bathroom but…please give me my privacy.” She gave a nod and retreated into the bathroom.

          Imke blinked on the bed a moment, then stretched. “Bond girl, hmmm? I can only hope.” She got up again, fetching her robe and moving to find a nearby restaurant for breakfast on her laptop.


          Introducing Medusa’s sisters was fun, honestly. I have some long-term plans…coming as a shock to no one. Speaking of long term plans…

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          • #20
            Session XIX

            NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November

            ENTRY: DELTA TWO

            Thessaloniki, Hellas

            It’s been a long day.

            Avril, Mira, Jimmy, and I started off investigating the house that Razor Tiger and her people had been renting. The rental was over, but no one was now using it. We did not find much, but what we did find was valuable. Specifically, a card for the Turkish Restaurant we found out about, along with the name “Athanasios” and some addresses that Avril googled to find in Thessaloniki. Further checked showed two were at Aristotle University (The Library and Rare Documents building) one was a residence one was the Skyline café bar. Solid leads. Avril took a photo of the card and we left it in the trash where we found it.

            Xanthias and Alisa went looking for Acacia, and found instead Queen Lamia, who I am given to understand flirted with Xanthias a bit. But Acacia was missing; she was their eyes on the “surface” (yes, Lamia seems to be crawling so to speak with Lamia) and it was implied Queen Lamia would be happy to get her back. Very happy, probably, since there was “no time” to meet with them when we did drop Acacia off.

            We had lunch to compare notes, then at 1400Z headed to the warehouse, specifically the one the group were still in. And they were still there. It was quiet, but I infiltrated and got inside via the roof. There were three Rakshasa and three Asura, the leader of whom was Aashvi, a “Daitya.” Anyway, things took a turn for the Banal when a pizza man arrived with pizza, and those outside seized on the opportunity, with Jimmy tackling the kid while Avril shot Aashvi in the head. This…did not hurt her as much as one might expect. Still, Xanthias stepped up and used his fear power to trap her as much as Avril’s snare did. She surrendered immediately.

            Acacia was trapped inside in some sort of Aquarium, though she was in a humanoid form. Aashvi, hole still in her head, claimed Acacia had been caught spying (probably true) and did not mention the Dharma Equation, nor did we.

            After dropping Acacia off with her fellows and having investigated with a solid cover, we decided to travel north to Thessaloniki. Chloe was up there, so we met her at the Skyline at 1900Z, giving Avril a chance to scope out the café. Chloe was happy to see me and dressed to turn my head. She succeeded, which made Mira a bit jealous. Then things got awkward, but not for that reason.

            Chloe had a friend, a Chedipe named a Lavanya. Chedipe are toe sucking vampires apparently. Much to Chloe’s amusement to tease me about. Vampires had come up earlier with Aashvi interrogating Acacia about them. Unexpectedly, Mira and Lavanya knew each other, apparently. Lavanya had been friends with Mira in life, then clashed with her as a Vampire when Mira was a young Scion, causing harm to a loved one. Mira did not wish to elaborate. Jimmy took Lavanya aside for a bit so we could hash things out.

            So Lavanya had met Razor Tiger and Athanasios. She was part of Razor Tiger’s retinue, disguised as a dancer, when they met. Athanasios had a demonic retinue apparently. The meeting went well. She said Razor Tiger left Thessaloniki but she was unsure about Athanasios. We left each other peaceably, and I returned to the hotel with Chloe and Mira.


            Checking my messages, apparently Avril found some vampires at the house. As I say Aashvi was asking Acacia about vampires, so I asked Chloe when we came up here, thus the chat with Lavanya. Lavanya did not mention any. We should talk to her again.



            Xanthias moved into the hotel room looking it over with his typically stoic gaze. It was luxurious and nice but less ostentatious than their room in Lamia had been. The press of Alesia against his back banished his musing on the décor and he smiled as he felt her hands slide around his sides as she hugged him. He brushed his fingers along the back of her arm and smiled as she nestled tightly against his back.

            “Not that I’m complaining but this is a little more direct than usual.”

            One of her hands slid lower and when he squirmed Alesia chuckled. “No, THIS is me being direct love.” Then she released him and moved back with a sigh. “Sorry, Just…”

            He turned to face her and reached to place his hands on her shoulders but did not draw her back against him. “I hope you’re not feeling jealous.”

            “Jealous?” she shook her head and laughed, “Xan, two of the absolute sexiest snake women ever all but coiled up in your lap today. I half expected Acacia was going to show you her appreciation right there in the back of Jimmy’s car.”

            He drew her closer and leaned in to kiss her. “There is only one snake I want coiled up with me Dearheart.”

            She kissed him back and started to melt into his arms but stopped and drew back reluctantly. “You don’t get it,” she said softly, “It’s not that they were throwing themselves at you, it’s that they were both ignoring me. Gods Xan, I’m not about to expect you to pass up a night with THAT. I just…”

            Xan cut her off with another kiss. “Then we’ll have to look them up when we get back to Lamia.” he said against her lips, “Together.”

            “I… cannot argue with that offer.”


            Xanthias stirred and frowned as he realized that he was alone in the bed. Blinking awake and sitting up, he looked about. “Alesia?”

            She emerged from the bathroom and smiled. “Good morning lover.” She moved and sat on the bed, turning to face him but as always looking slightly away from his face. “So, I need to talk to you about something.”

            Xan lifted an eyebrow and glanced at the bathroom she’d just exited. “Alesia?”

            She shook her head. “No. Not that. But you remember that Niaid that was flirting with you?”

            “Daphne? The one your aunts told us was a maneater?”

            “Yeah. She paid me a visit. She did apologize for trying to lure you away from me. But mainly she was there to pass a message along from Stheno and Euryale. The felt that while I was here in Greece I should visit the tomb of Gorgo Aix to pay my respects and make an offering. The tomb is here in Thessaloniki. I realize we have a lot with tracking down the stolen equation but I really feel like this is something I need to do.”

            Xan nodded. “It does seem quite reasonable for you to pay your respects to the first gorgon, especially since we are so close presently. Was this something you wanted me or the others to accompany you on or is this more of a personal journey?”

            She smiled. “I don’t think this is something I need to do alone. It’s certainly not something I want to do alone. I’m not Laura Croft.”

            “Though your cosplay of her that one time was epic.”

            “Glad you enjoyed it. Those cardboard polygons were way more uncomfortable than I expected after a while. But the main thing I’ve been worrying about is that Gorgo Aix is immortal but slumbering. And Daphne made it clear that Stheno wants me to perform the rituals to help rouse them because, well, chaos. Meanwhile Euryale wants me to soothe them and keep them asleep since rallying and releasing the titans is bad for everyone.”

            “That does seem like a difficult choice.”

            “The issue is that apparently both of my aunts are quite sure that I will do the right thing, despite their definitions of what that is being completely different. And I… I know what I’m going to do but I’m afraid of getting on Stheno’s bad side.”

            “I can understand that. Would it help if I took the blame as a bad influence on you? I mean, I suspect she might come to that conclusion anyway.”

            Alesia smiled. “Well, if she does she does but this is my choice and I’m not going to pass the responsibility of it off. But I will pick your superior familiarity to make sure the ritual goes well. That’s more your thing than mine. And hopefully Euryale will be able to calm her.”

            “She does seem to be used to and effective in tempering her sister’s more violent tenancies.”

            Alesia nodded. “We so need to get them connected to the modern day.”

            “You want to unleash Stheno on social media?”

            “Actually I was thinking trash talking FPS gamer bros would be a good distraction for her.”

            Xan chuckled. “Fair. We should get dressed and see about catching up with the others for breakfast and let them know we need to add another stop to the itinerary.”


            An Indian accented voice floated into the room, waking the two women in the bed. “Rise and shine! Your phone has been going off all night and morning.”

            Imke stirred, looking at the Oread tangled up in the sheets with her, then bleary eyed at the smiling woman in the doorway with food. “Someone slept well.”

            “I did, at least outside you leaving your phone in my room. Was going off and on half the night.” She sat a tray on the bed. “Bourbon and Codeine are not an appropriate breakfast, so I brought up some fruit, bread, and orange juice.”

            “Blasphemy.” Chloe sat up. “I need my morning Absinthe the way you degenerates need coffee.” She none the less smiled when Imke impulsively kissed her cheek. “Okay Em you get a pass.”

            “Avril found some vampires. Not Lavanya or her ilk, European ones. Talking about Zalmoxis, a deity I am unfamiliar with.” She sat down, not looking directly at either lover but still enjoying the view.

            The Goth looked thoughtful. “Zalmoxis. The Vampire god. Maybe that is why Lavanya was here. Or…maybe not? She never seemed the religious type.” Chloe tore into an orange ravenously.

            “No, she isn’t. And I am sorry about last night. I was not expecting her, and my emotions took over. I need to apologize to the group.” Mira sighed. “Now all I need is for my ex to show up.”

            “Ex? What’s her name?” Chloe sounded curious. Imke chuckled. Mira groaned.

            “His. I have been with one woman in my life, and it was the night before last. And I would rather not summon him by saying his name, as you say.”

            “She’s all right, isn’t she? Avril?” Imke suddenly looked up at Mira.

            “She is fine, at least as far as I know. She withdrew and went taking pictures at a different site. By the way, Ms. Spy, lock your phone. And don’t use Chloe’s name as a code. “

            “Did…you go through my phone?” Imke looked bewildered. Mira laughed.

            “I only wanted to see why the thing was buzzing. I didn’t go looking for lewds.”

            “You missed out. I sent her my best ones.” The Goth laughed.

            “Well…tomorrow night may find me in a more romantic mood Chloe. You should stick with us.” Mira rose.

            “Oh I will, I need to convince Em to buy a house in Corinth or Thessaloniki. Antwerp is cold.” A conspiratorial glance at Mira.

            “I need to find out where the seat of Mother’s power is and visit there.” Imke was thoughtful.

            “Already looked Em. Eleusis, Samothrace, and Caria. Caria is southern Turkey now, Samothrace has people get outnumbered by goats 15 to 1, and Eleusis is not exactly focused on her. Temples all over though. Nice one in Corinth!” The Oread grins.

            “Later Duckling. Thank you.” She sighed. “Well, we should get dressed.”

            “You should.” Mira grinned at the pair. “Eat. I think the others are already getting going. Catch up with us when you are ready.” She turned and sashayed out.

            Chloe groaned. “Nothing worse in the morning than someone in a good mood.”


            Gorgo Aix is a figure hard to find much about. I thought they would make a good character for an overarching plot. Also, Athanasios has shown up in The Ultra Violets.

            I honestly expected a combat at the end of the session. I did not get that...not a problem, the PCs did a good job making combat a bad idea. Also, Aashavi was not ready to die on this hill.

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            • #21
              Session XX

              I was not sure how the PCs would handle this final encounter. A huge combat scene or social scene. The PCs took the latter option.

              NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November

              ENTRY: DELTA THREE

              Varna, Bulgaria

              It’s 0100Z and we are settling into our hotel. Our trail takes us to Varna. I shell collect my thoughts before Chloe’s temptations become overwhelming. I’ve had a long day, the last eight hours of which have been in a car. A roomy car, but a car. I am a woman of height.

              Mira woke Chloe and I letting us know Avril had succeeded in locating some Vampires in Thessaloniki. The tireless huntress wisely waited for the rest of us, and we headed over to the address we had found in Lamia. The house seemed to belong to Athanasios, and three Vampires had remained behind. We ambushed them with a series of mirrors and sunlight before Johnny shielded them and Xanthias negotiated a surrender. Oh Xan. He treats monsters better than I treat humans.

              We searched the house and found a ticket stub for a boat trip to Varna, which sounds a hell of a lot more comfortable than eight hours in a car. The Vampires knew of something called the Dagger of Trebizond which we determined was a ship. So, we needed to go to Varna. But there were a few points first.

              One, the Vampires were working for a Vampire called Daniela, who was ultimately working for Vlad Tepes, a Scion of Zalmoxis. Yeah, Dracula, but alive as a Scion commending Vampires. Apparently Tepes is in Budapest right now, but still it is bizarre. We wound up freeing the Vampires with appropriate threats and Xanthias trying to get them to visit Vegas. Never change, Xan.

              Second, Lavanya skipped down. Mira was pissed. She was headed South, though, and Athanasios and Razor Tiger headed Northeast. Still. Mira was pretty angry.

              Third, turns out Alisia has a pilgrimage to do, specifically visiting the tomb of Gorgo Aix. We had decided to investigate the Vampires first, give Chloe time to relocate the tomb (She had been there before) while we investigate the more time sensitive vampire issues.

              The Tomb of Gorgo Aix was stuffy, but not too bad. Chloe kept calling me Lara Croft. Xanthias and Jimmy did fall into a trap, literally, but Johnny raised some earth and got them out. We crossed a room full of snakes with help from Xan, and navigated between two boiling springs, to get Alisia to her alter. There we found several cast off relics that apparently once belong to Rhea and a mask Jimmy took. Avril took a thigh bracelet which, go her. Jimmy magicked us out, and we headed on the road to Varna.

              Chloe has gotten impatient and dragged Mira to her I am afraid. I thought I had a libido before I met this woman, but apparently Nymphs come by their name honestly. I must go and rescue poor Mira. Tough to be the Hero.



              Three women walked along the beach in the afternoon sun. Mira, Imke, and Chloe wore shirts over bathing suits, only Chloe’s bathing suit in a two piece. Time slowed to a crawl, as a couple ships could be seen moving lazily along the surface of the lake.

              “1978 I think, last time I was in Varna, or the Black Sea at all. I had come south from Odessa. I was arm candy for some politburo letch.” Imke gazed at the surf through sunglasses.

              “Bit less tourism in 78 I think. Lest from Greece. It was almost Y2K before I was here” The Goth, not only the only one in a bikini but the only one carrying a parasol, paused to watch the same ship Imke was looking at. “Whatcha looking at Em?”

              “Trying to make out the name. Don’t think it is Dagger of Trebizond. Even sharpening my vision…”

              “What is whytookay? Mira glanced over the Oread.

              “Oh just…year two thousand. Turning the century. It was a whole thing.”

              Mira nods. “Ah I was…” She looked at the Scion, who frowned. “Anyway, were you taking out the politburo guy?”

              “His wife. Double agent. We had her working for us to spy on her husband, but then got hired by the KGB to spy for them on her husband. They found out she was a spy and forced her to start giving up names. So unrelated she had killed my mark’s previous mistress by isolating and murdering her. My job was to get her to isolate me then kill her and take anything she had I could use. She got me on a boat and tried to kill me. I killed her and made it look like a boat accident and escaped by sea. Since I was prepared I had an extra lifeboat attached.”

              “That’s fucking hot. You dumped her in the Black Sea?” Chloe sounded pleased. Mira stared at her.

              “I did.” Imke strained to see another boat. She frowned.

              “We should get some candy and go back to bed before the others are up what do you think?” Chloe’s hand ran along Imke’s thigh.

              “I am pretty sure you nearly killed me last night. You are a machine.” Mira looked over at the Oread in mild shock. “My Stridharma may never recover. I need to find a husband after all this.”

              The Goth hugged Imke with uncharacteristic cheer. “As you want. I have not been happier in a century.”

              “Good. Follow that Stridharma. You two are a good match.” She smiles at the two and looked out to the sea. “We are close, I think. This is important.”

              The Oread buried her head in Imke’s neck, but the Belgian followed Mira’s gaze. “I agree, Mira. And glad to work with you.” She signed. “We should head back. When this is done, we can play.”

              Mira chucked as walked back alongside the pair. “I bet you say that to all your Bond girls.”


              ...And yeah the vampires turned out to not be a fight either.

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              • #22
                Session XXI

                NOTEBOOK: #769 Lima Echo Echo Uniform Whisky India November

                ENTRY: DELTA FOUR

                Varna, Bulgaria

                Mission accomplished. My team did an excellent job. Xanthias, Mira and Johnny went searching by talking to the hotels, Avril went looking for a boat rental, and I played Russian coed trying to sweet talk to port authority into helping me find the Dagger of Trebizond by saying I partied there a couple nights ago. We found Razor Tiger and her Asuras at the Grand Hotel Varna, incidentally where we were staying. Johnny played distraction and Avril hacked the closed-circuit camera. We found Razor Tiger and several Asura were there, but Aashvi was aboard the Dagger on the Black Sea and her Raksasha were on patrol looking for vampires. We found ourselves with a quandary; go after the Dagger and the Dharma Equation or try to nab Razor Tiger. Whoever we go for the other would likely flee a band of angry Heroes.

                Mira came to us for the Equation, so we chose that. As we prepared to leave, we saw Vlad Tepes strolling through the docks in a suit, sunglasses and with a suspiciously long suitcase. Deciding time is of the essence, we got moving, Jimmy calling on powers of travel to get us to the boat fast.

                On arriving, we spotted a green woman in a bikini (a Rusalka named Višnja) and Aashvi (not in a bikini) on deck. Avril also noticed a Vodyanoy in the water. In retrospect, we should have watched him closer. Avril took a shot and hit Aashvi square in the face, and Jimmy ran over the water and up the side of the Dagger of Trebizond. At that point, the Vodyanoy, Boris apparently, knocked the boat over. I managed to stay in but the rest were dumped into the Black Sea. None of the group were good swimmers. I picked up Alisa and Mira. Avril was doing well, until Boris pulled her underwater. Apparently, she escaped his grasp and grew fins and scales, at least once we got on the boat. I get ahead of myself.

                Jimmy had gotten below decks while I shot the shotgun Višnja grabbed into pieces. She leapt into the Black Sea at that point. Jimmy started negotiations, and Athanasios called the others off. He seemed delighted to see us. He was warned about Dracula and set the Dagger moving.

                I’ll summarize Athanasios’s verbose diatribe. He had bought the Dharma Equation from Razor Tiger and was in the process of paying for it. Aashvi represented the other Asura. Johnny commented wryly that Aashvi actually had the Dharma Equation still. However, we could not meet Athanasios’s offer, a hidden island key. We were negotiating with Athanasios.

                This is why I murder people.

                Athanasios was seeking a specific box in Hades, a Black box, velvet interior, black image of a hawk on the cover. He said it was his father’s, and no harm would come to Xanthias’s parents. Xanthias agreed, and Athanasios magically sealed the deal. He regretfully handed over the Dharma Equation to us.

                We landed in Trabzon and headed back to Varna. Dracula and Razor Tiger were gone, Chloe and Lexie were safe. Too much to hope Dracula was lost to the Black Sea.



                Jimmy smiled warmly from the door as he wished Mira well on her trip back. Chloe’s boots were visibly hanging over the edge of the bed as Imke looked curiously at his arrival.

                “Tell the others to think about food. I’m going to investigate the street food scene,” he said in Bulgarian as he turned and walked back down the hall.

                “Anyway Xanthias, I promise you, I will be in touch with my Father, Vishnu, regarding this turn of events. Your assistance to the Devá will not go unremembered or unrewarded.” Mira was packed to go, but respectfully offered her hand.

                Xanthias reached to shake it. "The consequences of allowing their plans to come to fruition would have been dire for mortal and divine alike. I could not in good conscience allow it. It has been an honor to work with you and I do hope that we can meet again under more pleasant circumstances. Perhaps you should visit the spa when you have a chance."

                “I am sure you won’t be surprised to hear I hope to do exactly that.” Mira replied with a grin.

                Outside, Jimmy felt that tingle in the back of his mind again. There were too many “loose ends” Imke would say. But for some reason, no one else seemed to notice. Maybe the only reason he did was because he used his Guardian power on Mira. He couldn’t trust luck to keep one of Imke’s Silken Suitors safe. It was a working title and he still wasn’t sure he was happy with it. Golden Girls was taken and had a very different meaning in America.

                With little more than a thought, Jimmy vanished into the crowded street outside the hotel. The tingling was getting stronger as he strolled among the masses. Then he saw the problem.
                It was the mustache and jawline that grabbed Jimmy’s attention. He sent a text to Imke then went back to walking unnoticed.

                Imke was leaning against the doorway to her room looking at her phone. She pushed off as Mira approached. “Hey you. Leaving?”

                “I need to make my way back; I have a valuable item.” She walked alongside Imke. “I…I enjoyed working with you and…”

                “And?” Imke glanced over, her voice quite casual.

                “And everything. You and Chloe are wonderful people, and a cute couple. You two were a lot of fun. I’ll never forget you. As for the future I…can’t promise to be receptive if we meet again. But I won’t promise not to, either. I will be a friend either way.”

                “It’s fine. My last multi night liaison was with a Fae noble, Aoibhe. I am less worried about you showing up to drag me to the Faerie realm someday.”

                “I am given to understand Fae are a bit like Asura, some good, some very bad?” She paused near the elevator and pushed the button.

                Imke hugged her. “Something like that. Listen. You take care, okay? You have my number. I am your friend.”

                “I know.” Mira turned around, glancing at the opening doors and empty elevator, and gave Imke a quick kiss. “Thank you for letting me be your ‘Bond Girl!’” She smiled and stepped into the elevator, maintaining eye contact until the doors closed.

                Imke smiled with a giggle and headed back to the room Mira had been sharing with herself and Chloe. Chloe was packing away make up as she entered. “Still coming with, Duckling?”

                The Goth smiled over. “Hey Em. Yeah, throwing caution to the wind and sticking with my romantic heroine. Especially if she brings over more girls like that.” She glanced the way Mira went.

                Imke walked over, burying her face in the Oread’s hair. “Thank you. I am glad you will be around.” There were a few long moments. “I love you, Chloe.”

                “Love you too Em.” Chloe spoke without hesitation. She caressed her partner’s hair, setting aside her packing for a moment. “Just remember that. And keep at it. That’s all I ask.”

                Imke kissed the top of her head. “Of course. Glad you will be with me.”

                Outside, the daughter of Vishnu crossed behind a pillar, carry-on plain to see as she emerged beyond it walking to the airport. From a bench, the mustached man in sunglasses and a suit watched her go by, picking up his suspiciously long suitcase as he rose.

                Sitting at an open-air cafe across the street from the hotel, the son of Hermes studied the tea leaves in the tiny ornate cup with mild amusement. Movement from the corner of his eye told him the moment had arrived. He reached down, picked up a newspaper by his foot, and found a rubbish bin nearby.

                Meanwhile Mira, now disguised in a headscarf and body hiding frock, moved to catch her boat and cross the Black Sea with her charge.

                Walking in a separate direction from either Mira, Jimmy called Imke. “Nancy is in the wind. I’m going to So Fresh Sevastopol. They have cold-pressed juices and really good sandwiches. Be back soon, 007.” Smirking, he headed toward Sevastopol because the prosciutto on the Italian sandwich looked divine.


                “While I have no intention of violating my agreement with Athanasios I assure you that I intend to do so carefully. I did not, for instance, agree to steal the box or keep it’s intended recipient a mystery. Currently, my plan is to speak to my father about the situation.”

                "Ja ja" Imke nodded. leaning in the doorway. "That does seem wise."

                “Yeah, that’s a good plan. But first you should buttonhole Tristessa and interrogate her. I’m sure she knows something about this,” Chloe added. Then the Oread grinned wickedly and added, “Or I could if you don’t want to. I have a few things to ask her myself.”

                Xanthias’ expression showed nothing as he replied to her. “An excellent suggestion, and while I appreciate the offer I am sure it will not be necessary to do more than ask her politely.”

                “It’s okay, you can interrogate me if you want,” Alesia chuckled, “Of course, since I don’t know anything it will clearly be a long and drawn out process.”

                Chloe looked over at Alesia and stroked her chin, “Sure, but I’ve never played with a gorgon before so we’ll need to go over a couple of details about your anatomy first.”

                Alesia blinked as Xan turned his head to join Chloe in gazing at her. “What? Um… I was kinda joking. I… didn’t expect that you’d actually be interested.”

                “I’m a Nymph my dear and I think you’d be fun. But it’s alright if you don’t want to.”

                “I did say kinda.”

                Chloe glanced at Xanthias to judge his reaction but his expression was as calm as always. “As long as it’s not going to cause an issue?”

                Xan paused, clearly considering his answer a moment before he smiled slightly and answered Chloe, “I may not be as adventurous as most of my fellows but I am still Theoi.” He then turned back to Alesia. “I have no issues with this if it’s want you want my love.”

                Imke, for her part, smirked watching the pair.

                Alesia chewed at her lower lip a moment and nodded. “I do want to.”

                Xan rose and moved closer to Alesia, reaching down to draw her to her feet before leaning in to kiss her lightly. “Then I’ll see you later beloved. Have fun.” Straightening, he nodded to Chloe. “I trust you to take care of her.”

                “Oh, I plan to.” Chloe rose as well, moving over as Xan stepped away and reaching to run her fingers down Alesia’s cheek and the side of her neck before settling them around it and drawing a gasp from the pale gorgon. Then she used her grip to lift Alesia’s face and reached with her other hand to pluck the ruby red shades from her.

                “No wait…” Alesia squirmed against the firm grip and tried to look away but Chloe prevented her from breaking eye contact. The Oread shivered a little as they continued to lock eyes. “You’re… not…”

                “I’m an Oread girl,” Chloe responded, “I AM stone. And for the next few hours… you are MINE.”


                Alesia’s eyes fluttered open only to shut tightly as her snakes hissed unhappily at the bright morning sunlight flowing in. She rolled over, putting her back to the warm rays and sighed softly at the faint reminders of her exertions the previous evening that woke at the motion.

                “Good morning beautiful.”

                The sound of Xan’s voice made her snakes shift but her eyes remained closed as she realized that wasn’t wearing her sleeping mask. Only once she had confirmed where he was did she open her eyes and stretch languidly, gasping at the fresh sensations and entirely aware of the display she was putting on as the sheet slipped away.

                “Good morning handsome,” she answered at last as she settled onto her side and smiled at him.

                Xanthias made no effort to hide his appreciation for the sight of her but remained sitting at the small table with his laptop. “Room service is on the way. We didn’t manage to get much in you last night so I imagine you’re famished.”

                She nodded at the slightly hazy memory of being carried back to the room by Chloe and being tucked in by her and Xan. “Yeah, I was feeling… floaty?” A low rumble from her belly made her glance down. “But yeah, I am hungry.”

                “Chloe assured me that was normal. She made sure to go over aftercare.”

                Alesia looked back up at him carefully. “You chatted with her about… what we did?”

                “She wanted to be certain I knew how to make sure you were properly taken care of since it was clearly not something either of us had explored before. And I did ask her a few questions. General ones, not specific to what the two of you shared.”

                “Ah. Okay then.” She suddenly felt an urge to draw the sheet back over herself and curled up on the bed.

                Xan rose and moved to sit on the edge of the bed, reaching to lightly stroke her snakes, petting them gently. “Are you alright?”

                Alesia relaxed into the soft touch. “I… yes? Maybe?” She reached to take hold of his other hand in both of her own. “It was… a lot.”

                Xan curled his hand in her own to squeeze gently as he continued to pet her snakes. “Did you enjoy it?”
                “Yes. Very much so. She did things… I didn’t know I wanted…”

                “You did look quite pleased last night when she brought back.”

                Alesia blushed. “It was amazing,” she murmured dreamily. Then she looked up at him and added, “Not that you aren’t darling.”

                Xanthias smiled and chuckled softly. “Alesia my love, it’s okay. She introduced you to something new. Something that you clearly enjoyed. I am not jealous or upset. I want you to be happy. I like being the one to make that happen but I am no more upset at Chloe for bringing you pleasure than I would be at a chief that made you an amazing meal.”

                Alesia tilted her head and looked up at him, wetting her lips and worrying the lower one a little nervously. “I… wouldn’t mind you being the one to do those things… if you wanted to.”

                Xan smiled. “Well, I suppose it’s good that I also took the chance to speak to Chloe about some cooking lessons last night before she left.”


                Before she could continue he moved his hand from her hair to cup her chin lightly as he leaned down and locked eyes with her. The sound of hissing and the faintest texture of scales on skin subtly marbled revealed the flow of his divine power.

                “Xan…” Alesia breathed as she gazed up at him.

                “You have beautiful eyes,” he said softly as he leaned down slowly to kiss her lips.


                Humanoids think they’re separate from the natural world, as if ants don’t also build cities, apes can’t use tools, and elephants don’t have tight family units. Gods take on the form of humans, but Zeus has been a swan, Loki a horse, Quetzalcoatl a serpent.

                When I look at the world as what it really is, a giant ecosystem, it isn’t hard to separate the invasive from natural predators. Kayleigh is a natural predator, as is Imke. Mosquitos and lions kill to survive, and they’re as natural as any herbivore.

                It’s… harder to categorize myself. Caretaking an ecosystem implies that I’m removed from it. I’m not, and I don’t want to be. But trimming dead branches from a tree to help it grow, that’s a very human thing. I don’t know of any other animal able to identify cane toads as something that destroys its home.

                Thorns grow from my head like antlers, but I’m not a deer. I’m not a tree. I hunt, but not for my own survival. Maybe caretaking is human, but I’m not human anymore. Am I an invasive species? No, no, I don’t destroy my environment. Artemis is a deer. She has a golden bow, and I have a gun, like her but cruder. More destructive.

                I turned into a shark. I don’t know what to do with that. How can a deer be a shark? How can a human be a deer be a shark? How can I be made of plants and trees but destroy like a human? …Are humans invasive?

                “Are you alright?”

                Avril realizes that she’s been staring into space for a few minutes. She smiles at her friends. “I’m fine.” Her expression turns a bit glassy as her thoughts continue.

                I used to hunt, capture, sometimes kill. I used to be a wolf in deer’s clothing. I’ve never been particularly good at being human, even when I was one. But what am I now? How do I know which monsters to kill? Which to capture? Which to let run free?

                Avril’s gaze goes again to her friends.

                They’ll decide for me.


                And of course the climax. I think they took the more interesting direction here for sure, and we have an ongoing plot that will come up again. Also, I was happy they went along with it.

                The group is back in Vegas for the next arc. Comments and Questions welcome

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