Picking up right after the men returned to the warehouse with Noel’s body, the group hung around silent, wondering what to do next.
Randal, finally breaking the sullen silence, apologized to the other three, saying that if he’d never gone to Olympus, they’d never have left and Noel would probably still be alive. The others hushed him, Felicity saying that they’d all asked the five fellow Scions to leave their responsibilities in Los Angeles to join them in Chicago, and Thurston biting back a smartass extension of logic about how it would have been Hephaestus’ fault for calling Randal to Olympus in the first place.
Finally moving on to what they’d do, they listed off their major threats: The cult, Jehovah’s Flame, and the Demigods. Feeling the Demigods out of their range for the time being, and promising to not go looking for them like Noel did, they decided to focus on the threat of the cult. Thurston, having already checked out their recruitment stands previously, and as the person with the most personableness in their group, decided to spearhead the attempt. Once in, he’d try to indoctrinate Takashi or Felicity.
Also deciding to start patrolling the city at night, Randal and Thurston took the first watch, going around town and making sure things were quiet, while Felicity and Takashi stayed at the warehouse. Takashi was working on studying Noel’s body for more clues while resuming some online medical degree classes, and Felicity was mercifully distant from Takashi’s sensitivity to her activities, researching some jewelery stores in town to rob in order to catch the Fed’s attention.
The next day, Thurston went in the early afternoon to one of the streetside Jehovah’s Flame recruitment stands. He was cheerfully ordered a personality test, which he cheerfully accepted. Felicity and Randal kept nearby just in case he needed any backup. After taking his test, which was full of roundabout questions like, “Do you ever wish you had the career you didn’t have?”, he was declared a prime candidate for the Jehovah’s Flame, and was invited to a casual meet-and-greet later on in the evening. Agreeing to be there, and asking if he could bring a friend, he left. He also quickly dashed off and away from Felicity and Randal to another mysterious meeting he had arranged the previous night.
Takashi, in the meantime, was researching Noel’s body, and performing an autopsy on the strange incisions found on the major arteries of the poor Scion’s body. Finding evidence that they had inserted tubing into Noel’s body, Takashi still wondered at the true desiccation of the corpse, as it seemed the essence itself, as well as blood, had been sucked away from him. Having to remind himself that Noel was a Scion, Takashi reeled in horror from the corpse, coming back into the main room just as Thurston returned, following his meeting.
“What the HELL is wrong with these people!?” Takashi shouted, seeing Thurston. At Thurston’s confusion, Takashi continued his rant. “They SUCKED the Ichor from his BODY!!”
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!?” Thurston shouted back, equally horrified.
Just then, Felicity and Randal returned as well, resigned to not seeing Thurston again for the day. They were greeted by Takashi and Thurston’s shouts, equally horrified once they were clued in as well. Takashi deduced, once totally calm, that the Azlanti Scion of the Demigods was using Noel’s blood and divine ichor in who-knows-what kind of rituals. Distraught, the group had Danny’s Boys lay Noel’s body to rest. Thurston shared with Takashi the fruits of his meeting, a golden coin with a wolf embossed on the front. Agreeing that the wolf was distinctly Norse, and vaguely Fenris-like, Thurston pocketed it for later.
Going into his room at one point in the day, Takashi found on his pillow a letter addressed to him. It was from his father, Hachiman. Urging his son to teach an ‘undefeated warrior’ a lesson in humility, it said that Takashi would be well equipped to take this challenge on. Patrick Mahogany was the man’s name, and he was a prosecuting attorney in the DA’s office. With a bit of research, Takashi found out that he’d won 32 cases thus far, and was considered nigh on undefeatable. Tacking the letter up for later, he prepared for the rest of his evening.
In the evening, Thurston decided to take Takashi with him to the Jehovah’s Flame meet-and-greet, with Randal and Felicity perched on the roof of the building. The two were cheerfully greeted by a nice young man named Ron at the door, slapping nametags on them and directing them to the fondue. Idly chatting about how they’d meet some higherups in the Church tonight, he mentioned that they could be spotted by the distinctive gold coins they wore with their patron saint upon them. Thurston made a beeline for one of these men, while Takashi tried to get a feel for the room as a whole. Finally, he came to the conclusion that this was the cheerful public face of the Flame, and most of these people were not part of the darker aspects of the cult.
Thurston, on the other hand, was chatting up the higher member, making smalltalk and charming the man supernaturally. The evening wore on, and the church member, now totally enthralled with Thurston’s magnetic personality (Despite a strange occurrence during the chat, Thurston being distracted by the faint howling of a wolf), declared him to be a prime example of a future mover and shaker within the Flame. After the regular visitors left for the night, he and Takashi were brought a suitcase. Telling them to take the suitcase to a particular address, they were told if they did this to their satisfaction, they would be considered for ‘private events’ in the Jehovah’s Flame later.
Leaving, they caught Randal and Felicity up through their medallions (The gifts from Hephaestus allowing telepathic communication between the four), and they came up with a plan to properly impress the Flame’s representatives. If they were to survive a “Scion Attack” then maybe the Flame would let Takashi and Thurston in even deeper to the workings of the Cult. Peeking into the suitcase before going, however, they found that there were fifteen coins, ready and filled with taint to be distributed among the masses. Agreeing that it couldn’t be helped, they went on with their plan.
Deciding to have Randal and the Danny’s Boys ‘chase’ the two of them, they dashed off to the address, panting and huffing as they ran inside the house. Locking the door behind them, a couple of bored men greeted them with a “Well, do you have the suitcase?”
As the two of them breathlessly explained their circumstances, a car was thrown by Randal into the house. Thurston and Takashi each saving one from being smashed to pieces, the grateful men led them to an escape into the sewers while Felicity combed the place for incriminating evidence. Finding none, she left to rejoin Randal as the two men went through the sewers with the cultists.
The grateful cultists invited Takashi and Thurston to a “Summoning” the next day, and showed them a way out of the sewers, while they dithered on about “Scions being here” and how they were “impure servants of the Devil.”
That same night after midnight, Felicity dashed off to her chosen theft target, a nice high-end jewelery store in the main drags of town, one she knew wouldn’t have night security, only cameras and motion detectors. Breaking in through the back doors facing an alleyway, she dashed in, cut the cameras, cut the motion detectors, and cleaned out the cases quickly. Moving into the office, she cracked the safe and the private ‘high dollar’ customer pieces, tossing them into her pack as well. Destroying the computers in the office just in case she missed a camera, and therefore destroying evidence of her being there, she scrammed with a pack full of jewelery.
Takashi had to cover his eyes as Felicity came in, Lalalaing his issues with her lifestyle away, but shouting in dismay when she opened the pack and began showing off her haul to Thurston. At seeing Randal’s sheepish expression, however, Felicity finally took the large pack off to her room to be sorted there, setting aside little trinkets she liked best.
The next morning, news of her heist had made the television, but apparently it had not yet been a high-profile enough case to attract Feds.
Takashi and Thurston, that day, went to the appointed Church for the Summoning. Being greeted by priests in black robes, they were told a bit more about the coins. Apparently, they had the Catholic Patron Saint of Light upon them. A single note was played on an organ, and the organ slid away to reveal a passage leading downwards into catacombs. Moving along the passage, Thurston saw flashes and shadows along the stained glass windows lining his walk. Distinctly wolf-like in shape, Thurston had to avert his eyes as he fiddled with the gold wolf coin.
Instructed to stand aside as they emerged into a large, wide-open space with a summoning circle inscribed onto the ground, the priests gathered into a circle. A head priest stood at an ancient bible at the altar, and began to pray in Latin. Translating into English, it said “And we looked like grasshoppers in their eyes, and we knew we looked the same to them.” The priests saying “Amen” and making the sign of benediction, they began.
Dragging out a dog on a leash, the priest pressed a coin to the dog’s head and ‘blessed’ it. The dog howled in pain, and was transmogrified into a Nemian Hound, the same variety that the Band had seen previously. Doing this to a few more dogs, they stated they were moving on to the final summoning. Placing a coin in the middle, the gathered chanted around the coin until a pillar of light temporarily blinded the assembled, revealing a giant standing in the circle.
“These are the tools we use to combat corruption and the pagans,” the priests said to Takashi and Thurston, and made to dismiss them before asking them to come to another meet-and-greet for ‘cleanup’ that night. Agreeing to be there, they scurried away.
Relating to Felicity and Randal what they saw, they agreed to stake out the roof of the building once again while Thurston and Takashi went inside that night. Doing the normal meeting, Thurston eventually ran off to relieve himself while Takashi got a call from Randal, which he stepped outside to take.
Asking why he didn’t have his medallion and simply using that, Randal stream-of-consciousnessed its last location…“Oh, it was by my wallet, wasn’t there when I went to grab it, I asked the Danny’s Boys to look for..oh, there they are, thanks guys…ANYWAYS.” Switching to the medallion and hanging up the phone, Randal asked how it was going.
“Well, this is possibly the most boring thing I’ve endured in my entire life,” Takashi went on to say, describing horrific things he’d RATHER be doing than dealing with Ron’s ridiculous cheer and the cult’s sycophantic members.
Stepping back in just as Thurston returned from the bathroom, they were horrified to see the head priest slicing the throat of the last guest with a sanctimonious flourish.
Yelling in protest, the two demanded to know why he had just killed his followers. The priest, wild-eyed, said that they must die for the greater glory of the Flame, and that their blood was required to construct the coins. Sure enough, the blood from the victims that night was pooling and congealing in the center of the room into a shining golden coin of the Flame. The priest then demanded that they kneel now as well to be sacrificed, that their quick two-day rise to seeing a Summoning worried some higher-ups. Promising them eternal glory and comfort in Heaven, he strode up to Takashi and Thurston.
At Takashi’s cue, though, Randal, positioned on the roof with Felicity, jumped and stomped as hard as he could, crashing through the ceiling in an impressive display of strength, landing in a crouch. Felicity bounded in after him, and they took up battle positions.
Quickly, they realized that they weren’t hurting the priest, taking Felicity’s bullets, Takashi’s sword, and Randal’s agonizingly strong grip with equal fervor. Finally, in Randal’s clinch, Thurston walked up to him and drew a line along the priest’s throat with his dagger, unable to cut. Taking the coin from around the priest’s neck in frustration, the four saw the priest howl in agony as two bullet holes, a sword gash, and a cut along his throat opened, and his bones breaking in Randal’s grip. Dropping the body, they made to leave, when a very unwelcome sound greeted them: Police sirens.
A huge horde of police had been called out to the scene somehow, and they immediately began trying to find ways out. Thurston easily used his ability to walk through walls, and Felicity began looking for convenient shadows. Not seeing any that could get her outside, she looked to the roof. Urging Randal and Takashi to jump with her, she quickly realized that Randal was panicking. Telling him to calm down and trust her, Randal explained that he didn’t want to hurt honest policemen. Takashi wanted to simply knock them all out, but was stared down by a sobering Randal. Once again tugged by Felicity to try and make a getaway, he reflexively grabbed her when he heard them breaking down the door, and tossed her out through the hole in the roof, to her shock.
The door was broken down just then, and Takashi and Randal were handcuffed and taken away. Not able to watch more people she cared about be dragged off by the police, Felicity shadowed the cop car on its way to the police station, instructing Thurston to get back to the warehouse to see what kind of coverage and trouble they might be in.
He turned to do so, when suddenly he was confronted by the wolf again. Large and white, the creature snarled and paced around him. Saying, “YES, I SEE YOU” to the wolf, he stood his ground as it charged and pounced at his throat…disappearing right before landing. Once again preparing to leave, he was instead greeted by something else that wasn’t an illusion.
A plume of fire erupted before him, and out stepped Loki, the Norse mischief-maker.
“I see you’ve overcome your fear of the illusion, very very well done. As you can possibly tell, I am Loki.”
Thurston introduced himself, but was waved off as Loki continued. Telling Thurston that he was indeed cursed by that coin he had come across, the God of duplicity told the Scion that he could have the curse removed for a simple favor. Loki handed Thurston a letter, and said that it was to be delivered to a shipyard nearby. Once the letter was delivered, the curse would be removed.
Telling Thurston that opening it himself would be ‘cheating’ and not recommended, Loki urged Thurston to think about it while he mulled over the possibilities of either being cursed or not. Loki guaranteed that the curse would continue to distract him, without fail, at the most inopportune times until it eventually caught him off-guard enough to kill him, or the curse was passed on. Disappearing in another impressive plume of fire, Loki left Thurston to think over his options.
Felicity, in the meantime, had reached the police station, and saw Randal get processed. Just as they were about to get to Takashi, however, a phone rang in the room. The sergeant watching over the proceedings answered, and immediately looked to Takashi.
“Yes, Your Honor. I’m very sorry….oh…yes, I see, a misunderstanding, of course, we’re sorry Judge Scott. We’ll release him right away.” Takashi’s judge friend in Chicago, Richard E. Scott, had found out just in time and had pulled strings to have him freed. Telling Takashi that he was a good enough lawyer to get Randal off with a five-year sentence, he hung up, reminding him that bailing him out of jail like that was a one-time occurrence. Takashi was good to go, and urged Felicity through the medallions to come back with him, knowing her to be invisible nearby. Thurston, now clued in to the situation through his medallion as well, urged her to leave the station before destroyed everything in her path, but they only got angry growling in response.
Instead, Felicity went to Randal’s holding cell and kept him company for awhile, trying to convince him to simply leave with her. Telling her no, he said he’d rather try it Takashi’s legal way first, not wanting to consign himself to the life of a fugitive. Finally defeated, she took out her frustrations on another jewelery store in Chicago, cleaning it from top to tails like she had her previous mark.
Takashi, meanwhile, had begun working on building a case for Randal’s defense, while Thurston stared sullenly at the coin and the letter for hours on end, until Felicity’s own grumpy re-entrance later on in the night. Hefting her pack full of jewelery onto the table, Thurston lashed out to shove it off, revealing his letter and coin again. Asking him what was up, Thurston only replied, “The Trickster.”
Finally gleaning his meaning after a moment, Felicity and Takashi both spoke to him at length about his encounter with Loki. Takashi, ever the lawyer, offered to open the letter for Thurston, since Loki only had specified that Thurston shouldn’t open it. Going ahead, the letter simply read,
“Begin construction on Naglfar.
Thurston, remembering his Norse mythology (and possibly one of his father’s spiels), he realized that Loki meant to begin Ragnarok. Naglfar was the ship of human nails that Loki would have frost giants construct for him at the beginnings of the End. Knowing this, they couldn’t allow the letter’s intent to get across lest the end of the world start. Also knowing that Loki wanted the letter ‘delivered’ in order for the curse to be lifted from Thurston, they constructed a plan. Blotting and inking out the letter’s contents, Thurston also placed within a joker card. Their idea was to deliver the letter, and then promptly murder the frost giant meant to be the recipient.
Needing some sleep and an opportunity to see Randal at the police station before seeing if their gamble would pay off, they rested for a bit before heading off in mid-morning.
Arriving, they went through checks for weapons and other contraband, and were led to a holding area where they were to see Randal. An officer, however, got in their way and asked if he could just go over something with them really quickly. Stepping into a small room with a television with it, the officer, a man named Percy, pressed play on a cassette tape.
What Takashi, Felicity, and Thurston saw shocked them. It was footage from the alleyway behind Chance’s End. The back door they had used to escape, to be specific. The door burst open, and the four of them stumbled out, dashing around the corner and out of sight, as flashes of light continued to reflect against the open door. Percy pressed stop on the tape and leaned forward.
“Now, these four people in the tape are definitely you three and Mister Gravil. Once we processed him, we were able to match his fingerprints to a LOT of strange sites and happenings all over town. So what I want to know is…what were you doing at that massacre!?”
Stunned for a moment, finally Felicity said, “What massacre? That would have been in the news, right?”
The officer sighed, obviously frustrated already. “Yes, yes, of course it SHOULD have been, but some people thought that it was too much, that some things the public didn’t need to know, and so it was covered up. Now you guys are hiding something…”
They ‘observed’ that the people in the tape, whoever they were, looked like they were being chased, maybe even in trouble, but the cop blew over them, nearly exploding in his frustration. “I don’t CARE, now you four are those four in the tape, so if you don’t start talking I’ll…”
At that moment, a man walked in, wearing a coat and a stern expression. “Sorry you guys, upon further examination those people in the tape are not you, so you’re free to go.”
The officer wheeled on the newcomer. “I don’t care what fancy papers you have, Mister Varley, those four are the four in the tape, and if you just let me take them in you’ll see they’re responsible for most of the weird crap going on in this city…”
Felicity was immediately locked onto the newcomer at hearing the name ‘Varley.’ Varley wasn’t done with the officer, however.
“I can have the President on the line in half an hour if you like. Let them go.” The officer turned red and whirled out of the room, obviously holding back some serious anger at being overstepped.
Varley faced them once the officer was gone. “Sorry about that. He was pretty tenacious. Now, I’m Agent John Varley. We’re unable to do anything about your friend in jail at the moment, I’m afraid, but you guys we could get to in time.”
Felicity cut him off. “First off, what’s going on here, and second, you’re the FBI agent who arrested Dorian Clouseau. Give me back my father before I hurt somebody.”
Varley regarded the obviously angry young woman sternly. “Now, hurting me would not be in your best interests at all. As for what’s going on, I’m NOT with the FBI. I’m with an organization called SAGA, the Scion American Guardian Association.”
Seeing their expressions of shock, he continued. “We’ve been around for a very long time. Some of our founding fathers were Scions, though I’m not at liberty to say who. Even our current head of SAGA is a Scion, though I’m not much a fan of that myself. Either way, we’ve been keeping a close eye on you four. Apparently, you guys are important, though we don’t know why yet. That’s the funny thing about relying on prophecies, they don’t always give you the why or the how, just clues. You guys proved pretty hard to track down…but YOU,” he said, pointing at Felicity, “we were able to pinpoint exactly what had to be done to get you to Chicago. You see, we had to make you into a Scion…a REAL Scion.”
To her horror, John Varley went on to tell her that her mother had never planned on paying her a Visitation. In order to lure Bastet out to her daughter, SAGA had to stage an FBI sting on the Clouseaus operation, and force Felicity out on her own. Once alone, Bastet would not be able to ignore her daughter out in the cold, and would have to give her the tools to survive. Broken-hearted, she listened as he told her that it was the only way to get her to come to Chicago and fulfill her destiny, whatever that was.
“You see, I don’t hold much stock in prophecies, you guys could just kill a decent amount of titanspawn in your time alive. Hell, maybe you’ll even get lucky and become Gods in your own right. And once you do, try to remember the contributions of SAGA and remember your country when the time comes.”
Trying very hard not to attack the man in front of her, Felicity asked after her father. Varley told her that he was being given every comfort possible, and didn’t quite know much about what was going on. He wasn’t an idiot, however, and knew better than to question what was going on too much, lest he actually be removed to a prison and brought up on charges. He told her that once her destiny was fulfilled, her father would be released and all would be well.
“Yeah, let’s see how long that lasts,” she replied.
Misinterpreting her, he urged her not to try and find Dorian Clouseau, as he was well hidden. Correcting him, she stated with some snip that her mother, whether she liked that role or not, was a Goddess of Prophecy, and Felicity had seen some things herself. The Seers of SAGA apparently didn’t know about the parts about Felicity’s father being kidnapped by the Titans, or a few other specific things she or Francis had seen. She went on to say that she’d be willing to share these visions of hers with SAGA for a price; a phone call to her father.
Stroking his chin, Varley said he would have to take it up with his superiors, to see if they thought it a fair trade. Eyeing Felicity hard, though, he addressed her snip towards her mother. “Now, from what the Seers could tell, your mother does love you, Felicity. Sometimes, though, they don’t always Visit a child they care about…sparing them,” he said, making a grand gesture with his arms, “all of this. Maybe that’s what she’d wanted for you, but Fate seems to have other plans.” With that, he made to leave the three of them.
Turning back at the door, he seemed to remember something. “Oh. Roth Foster. Look that guy up.” The guys, remembering hearing that name somewhere before, realized he was a famous catholic television priest…and now, apparently the leader of the Flame of Jehovah. Urging the Scions to bring him to justice (“Yeah, if you can catch him, great, we’ll bring him up on charges…but seriously, kill that son of a bitch.”), he left them to finally visit Randal.
Bringing Randal up to speed during the visit, Takashi promised he’d do whatever he could to get Randal freed. Asking if he had any character witnesses, people who he might have saved over the years in Chicago, Randal thought for a moment and said he’d get the Danny’s Boys to put together a list for Takashi. His goal was to make Randal out to be a scapegoat, caught at the wrong place with plenty of positive character witnesses to state his upstanding and valiant character.
Finally bidding Randal farewell, they went to the shipyard to take care of the frost giant and Loki’s letter. Thurston rode forward on the dock area upon Sleipnir, causing a man to call desperately for his giant master at seeing the impressive approach.
A large frost giant lumbered into sight, thundering at Thurston and demanding the delivery. Trotting forward, the giant closed the final gap, taking the letter. The giant opened the letter, and seeing the black blotted surface, rumbled “What is this!?” before having his hand shot off by Felicity, perched on the nearby roof. They sprung into action then, hacking and shooting at the giant until it fell to pieces, the four titan blood slaves of the giant trying and failing to defend their master against a coordinated assault. Wiping up the last four of the goons, they disposed of the bodies.
Thurston retrieved the letter from the ground, and promptly burnt it. Looking in the flames of the letter, he saw Loki’s grinning visage peering out at him as it burned. Taking the hint, Thurston removed the wolf medallion and chucked it into the lake’s bay, ending his curse. Loki’s love of technicalities had saved them from Ragnarok for the time being, seeing as how they had delivered the letter, and Thurston hadn’t been the one to open it. Loki had never specified that they not have the letter tampered with otherwise, or to not kill the recipient.
With that done, they returned to the warehouse, Takashi already beginning to prepare a case for Randal’s defense against Patrick Mahogany, who had been declared the prosecuting attorney for the case. This was the battlefield he would have to face his foe on, so had declared his father. So Takashi would.