Olympus by Night

Tyler's Dream

A changing world. One minute it is a cityscape with skyscrapers, backed up traffic, and more people then ever. The next it is a medieval(?) town with electricity and dirt roads with monsters, beasts, and more models then should ever be in one place. Looking down he see blueprints that he is holding open, and a shadowed figure. The figure looks strange, short and fat with a protrusion that sticks out where the body(?) meets the head, it almost looks like those old bottles from the archaic show “Moonshiners” (watched an episode while researching the dark age of T.V) but that is ridiculous. It was explaining the blueprints.

“Now, hic…, this isn’t one of those, hic, building papers, hic…, well not for build(hic)ings at least. This here is the f(hic)uture. You are here… (somehow points without moving its arms). This, hic…, here is the immediate future. N(hic)ow remember this here and tell yer drinkin buddies. Hic, if not, well, hic, you get the never ending hangover.”

“Wait what. Who are you.”

“Hic. Get reading. Hic”

Grumbling.

Souls split asunder, seeking they right to be one. A battle you will have, with the ruler of old. Destiny will guide you to the parts you will play.

A battle to win
A clue to see
A task to complete
and an end to bring

Once fate has been pleased. Your souls will be one, and your journey will begin.

“This means nothing.”

To you, hic…, no. To them maybe, hic…. They will know. Hic… now get i got some drinking to do."

Tyler wakes, “what was that!? Oh god my head hurts….”

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Uller's Request

“Hey Zeno!”

“Hiya Mike. What brings you here? Want to go on a hunt?”

“Well, I kinda need your help. A lot of Titian spawn have been showing up in the Aesir lands and I could use a few more hunters to take them down.”

“No problem, Mike. Just us or shall I try and get Mei, and others?”

“If you think that they can keep quite then sure. I don’t plan on letting the other know so its a stealth hunt.”

“Hmmm… Mei is discreet, I think James might be a good add, though I will let you ask him. I will just tell him it’s a hunt. If he doesn’t want to join I can trust him to keep his mouth shut.”

“Works. Just contact me the normal way when you want me to talk with James, and you are ready.”

“Well, now that, that is out of the way come here, I need a decent shooter to spook this elk to make my shot more challenging.”

“You know, all play and no work makes you unbearable, Zeno?”

“Good thing I don’t want to be bearable then, because I don’t work.”

“Humph”

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Tyler's Thoughts 2

“Well, this Janine Skorsky is starting to become bothersome. First I get pulled into another world by mistake, by a God trying to find her. Then It comes to my attention that she may have sabotaged the drone that destroyed my arm. Now I am being forced to relocate to New York for the drone that is for her. The drone ordered isn’t very impressive anyways. It is just a modified recon drone, and the modification is just a more robust propulsion system, weather resistance, and enhanced stealth systems. Hmm…. I wonder… knowing what I know now, this new drone might be able to function in the “other world.” I mean if the Gods are looking for her there is no reason why she might not be looking for the Gods. I wonder if she found a way to move between worlds? If she did maybe I can use that to recombine my mind (and body?) so I am not in two places at once. Waking up on the ground sucks."

Looking around his home. “Well the packing drones did a good job. At least I was able to get a travel bag put together and get the drones to leave it. especially since I need to some maintenance on my arm.”

Gets equipment and detaches arm. “Hmmm… It seems that some of the wear from the other world also travels between worlds. Not much thankfully.” Begins to do maintenance on cybernetic arm.

“Lets see. It seems that all female gods are deathly beautiful. First I met the farming goddess of “come plow my fields,” “here is the valley of lust,” and “sandwiches.” I think she had a name but I don’t know it. Then I meet my divine mother, who… well she would get “come play me” instead of “come plow my fields” and “sandwiches,” but I met the other one first so I wasn’t as blinded, also I didn’t really look at her."

“It seems as if Astaria and James have something going on but it’s not working out. She seemed ashamed that I even exist, and was reluctant to even share mead with me, which by the way was damn good. I almost declined, but logically I figured I would need my new abilities to survive.”

Finishes arm maintenance, reattaches it and puts equipment away. “Now, it is time to sleep.”

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Jenaveve finds her center

Jenaveve sat there staring off into the terrain in front of her.

A sky so clear, the idea of a cloud would seem an insult to the perfect unobstructed view of the heavens. An ocean so still it confounds the senses to try to pick out what was reflection and what was the star scape of the cloudless sky.

“I didn’t want to know… I made it 27 years with the knowledge that my father was enough… I’m supposed to be something better just because this guy can touch me and name my mother? “

At some point in her anger she had become desensitized to the celestial view of the earth from her seat on the unnamed shore. Looking at it now she began to miss her father.

Suddenly, his voice rang clear in her mind. “Let beauty come out of ashes…”

It was a saying her father would use to help her when she was feeling defeated. It was just a lyric from some old song about loss and redemption. The first time she heard her father say it was to help her come to grips with her origins. When she was around nine or so, the full weight of understanding that she was adopted finally hit her. For the briefest of moments, she felt utterly unmade. Like everything in her life had been a performance. Her Da’ wasn’t her Da’ and her life was just some type of cruel joke.

He held her close and explained that he had never loved anything or anyone so much in his life. He told her that she was the only prove he had ever seen that miracles were real and that beauty could come out of ashes. Not the kind of beauty she could see, but the kind of beauty she could only feel. He helped her to understand that that beauty was love.

Ever since then she would use those words to help her cope with the tragedies that followed.

She looked at the earth in the distance and then back to the campfire surrounded by strangers, “Let beauty come out of ashes.”

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Tyler's Thoughts

Tyler enters his personal lab.

“I had hoped that was a bad dream from over working.” he says to himself. “but it seems its not and I only get to come home when I sleep in the umm… god world I guess.”

Without thinking Tyler goes to his computer and opens his special projects folder and has the program start up and load into a 3D holo field.

Continuing his monolog, “It all seems so weird that some if not all the cult classics are based, at least loosely, off real gods that once roamed our world.”

Looking at the holo, “damn I am going to have to remove more plates in order to get this to work. This will considerably weaken the environmental strength of the bots.” Computer remove outer plates D3 from Breaker,G9 from holy and T1-T6 from artillery, then replay combining sequence.

“James, seems nice enough though I sometimes feel like I am the cause of some wound he has. Though I could be wrong, he could probably sell dirt to the dirt farmer and they would thank him. Jenaveve looks like some secretary, that dreams of being Bat Cat Woman from Batman 43 the Joker Returns… Again. And I would think she would pull off the part nicely since I always seem to lose her.”

“Computer replace plates T2-T5 on artillery. Replace the legs of Breakers with T435 wheels. Recompile and run simulation.”

Pacing around the holo as his commands are carried out, a drone enters the room with the remains of last nights dinner from Pizza Mansion. As he eats he continues his brooding. “Mortimer just freaks me out, and he smells. Though I think he is the happiest of everyone, though if Ms. Sabine lied to him he might end up killing himself, and probably whoever is closest. I guess I should keep an eye on the news, if he is as rich as he supposedly is he will make the news fast. I also wish he spoke a reasonable language he sounds so barbaric. Thankfully James is nice enough to translate.”

“Computer, flag any news articles that mention Mortimer McGhee, also pull and past articles involving the same name.”

“Tracy either doesn’t say much and is really excited or she doesn’t stop talking. Her hands never seem to slow down. That is all I really got, that and I guess she asks some questions since James responds to some of the hand movements.”

“Whelp wheels don’t work but then I didn’t expect them to. Hmm, computer replace wheels on Breakers with tracks. Increase mass on breakers by 23%, increase mass of artillery by 14%, remove holy, recompile and simulate.”

“Dameron is interesting. He shows almost no fear even when faced by a god. Self assured by the fact he shot at a chain in an unknown room and didn’t seemed bothered. Learned since he speaks multiple languages. He’s a cop but I don’t think he is a normal one since he doesn’t seem to factor repercussions that he may receive as things those he is supposed to protect might have to deal with. I will have to pay attention to him, so I can get a better idea of how he proceeds so I can tell how reliable he will be.”

“Tracks and mass increases worked. Holy was just getting in the way. Lets see…. What…. The…. Fuck. What does that mean “processes too complex.” Damn. Computer order parts for the chassis and print blueprints for Breaker and Artillery…. lets see 6 breakers, 4 artillery should be good for prototypes." Fucking “process too complex” I’ll just figure that out once I get them built."

“Though that last statement is true for all of them. We will see what happens.”

“What time is it…. Damn. 6 am, guess its a 2 hour sleep day again.”

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Around the Fire
Adventure Log for Mortimer McGhee

I’m a god. Even better, I’m a rich god.

Suck on that, Hahne – how many times did you tell me that I wasn’t good enough for your school? That I was doomed to be nothing? Well, suck it. I’m something. Something a hell of lot more important than you.

The campfire is crackling gently and the cop’s snoring slightly – but that’s not why I can’t sleep. I’m just too damn excited. Seriously. This is a new beginning for me – like suddenly everything makes sense. Every time I fall asleep, I end up back on regular old Earth and I just don’t want to be there right now – I wanna be here. In a land of gods and monsters – where I’m one of them… I’m just not sure which one yet.

The others are all asleep in bedrolls around the fire – there’s the cop, Dameron’s his name, he’s an idiot with a gun, but he’s a cop, so of course, he is, but he’s chilled down a little bit since we met James; Jenaveve, she’s intense and hot and sounds like a leprechaun; Tracy, she’s my sister, but she doesn’t talk so bonding’s been difficult; and then, there’s the Korean guy. I think his name is Tyler, which is a weird name for a Korean guy, but whatever. They’re all cool-ish. All children of gods, just like me. It’s weird to think that all of them are currently running around somewhere on Earth right now, living regular-ish lives. I don’t want to do that anymore – I’m so done with mortality.

There’s a voice coming from further away. I look over – James is sitting around a smaller fire on the crest of the hill. He’s wide awake, his giant creepy moth is sitting on a stool looking at him intently. He’s staring into the fire, poking it occasionally with a stick – either that or he’s roasting something. But, the voice isn’t his – it’s a woman of some kind.

“I know you’re getting these, James!” I hear the voice yell – then it goes on, dropping a bunch of names, I don’t know. I’m too curious about it all, so I get up and go to have a look. As I go over there, I see there are little cave paintings crawling over the floor – they’re all swirling around James in a constant circle, I see bleeding eyes, two large snakes, a bird of some kind and a ton of others. The bird is talking, speaking with a voice that somehow reminds me of that woman we met in the underworld – the one who let us go. “I don’t know what’s going on – but I know it’s about one of the kids. Please, James, just get back to me. I need to know what’s wrong. If one of them is hurt, I deserve to know. Is it Luciana? Dameron? Agincourt? Damn it, James, I’m freaking out here. Just call me.” The voice stops and the cave painting fade away, leaving small wet marks on the dirty ground, like someone had dripped their soda onto it.

“What the hell was that?” I ask.

James turns to look at me. “One of Ophelia’s little tricks. She can send messages through her tattoos. I feel bad; she’s worried about Dameron. But, I need more time.”

I squat down near the fire. “So, just call her or something. Let her know its fine and you’ll see her soon.”

“No can do. If I reply, she’ll know where we are and nothing will stop from getting here,” he starts to fish around his pockets. “So, she gets to stew for a while. She’ll forgive me – I’ll just have to let her pick the next few movies.” He pulls out a couple marshmallows from his pocket and impales them on the end of a stick. “Actually, it might be more than a few movies. It’s fine. You want one?”

“Sure. That would be awesome.”

He puts a third marshmallow on the stick and holds it out over the flame. We both silently watch it cook for a second, then he draws it out, plucks one off with his gloved hands and tosses one to me. I munch mine down in one gulp as he eats his in smaller bites, then holds one out on a stick for his moth to nibble on.

There’s an awkward feeling in my mouth – not the first one I’ve had over the past couple days. I gag slightly, reach into my mouth and pull out a tooth that had shaken loose in my gums.

“Are you OK?” James asks me. He’s staring at me intently.

“Yeah, my teeth seem to falling out. No biggie.” I hold it up to show him. I swear the moth retches a little bit as he finishes his marshmallow. James makes a grimace.

“You’re OK with that?”

“Well, I’m not not okay with it.” I sniff my own tooth. It smells like marshmallows. Whaddya know? It tastes like them too. James makes another grimace. “Stuff like this always kinda happens to me. A boil here, a wart there. I’m used to it.”

“Hmm…” James says aloud as he pulls more marshmallows from his pockets. “Probably your divine nature popping out of you. We all undergo changes – psychologically, physically. Our ages are weird – I’m going up in chunks; a bunch of the others are going down. Most of us have awkward psychological problems – your dad has to look good, for example. He’s always preening and grooming and stuff. He can’t help it.”

“Great,” I say, letting the sarcasm run free. “We’re gonna get on great.”

“Don’t count him out. He’s many things, but he’s not a bad guy. Let him figure you out for himself.”

“If he ain’t a bad guy, and you’re not mad at the others, why aren’t you answering their calls… or tattoo messages or whatever?”

“You guys…” James stutters out. “You need training and information and preparation…”

“Yeah, no offense, boss, but that’s bullcrap.” He scowls at me, forgetting what’s he doing. “You’re burning your marshmallows.”

He panics slightly and retrieves them from the fire – they’re black and burnt and mushy.

“What?" I tell him as he tries to salvage his snack. "Your tone’s all wrong. I heard that tone a hundred times before. The type of excuses people give when they don’t want to tell the truth. ‘We’re firing you because you’re unproductive or you can’t get along with your coworkers.’ You gonna eat those?”

“Oh, no… They’re all yours.”

“Sweet. Thanks.” I grab the burnt marshmallows and start swallowing them down. They taste fine to me. “The real reason they were firing me was simple – I’m a freak. People are uneasy around freaks.”

“You’re not a freak.”

“Yes, I am. Don’t pretend I ain’t.” To punctuate the point, I sniff the stick, then start biting it and swallowing it down too. It tastes like meringue – I love it.

James sighs. It’s a sigh of slight annoyance, but it’s directed at himself, not me. In fact, he looks at me with something that might be kindness. I can’t be entirely sure – it’s been a while since I recognized it in someone’s face. It’s a rough bet, but I decide I’m gonna go ahead and like James. He’s cool.

“It’s nothing you can help me with. Someone I trusted… Well, she turned out not to be entirely worth that trust.”

“I’m sorry. Guess even up here people are just people sometimes. Can’t trust them as far as you can throw them.”

“I could probably throw her pretty far,” James quips.

I nod and smile excitedly. “Cool. Cool, cool, cool…” I finish off my stick. “Well, I’m gonna go sleep and figure out what other me is doing. I’m hoping I will have bought a sports car or something. Good talk, boss.”

I begin to walk away. “Morty,” James says quietly, making me turn around. “You’re not a freak. I don’t know what you are yet, but I know you’re not a freak. You’re exactly what you were meant to be.”

I nod and smile again. “Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me. I like that. Thanks, boss.”

“Goodnight, Morty.”

I do a two finger wave and settle down into my bedroll. I hear the crackling of the fire again, but I’m much more tired this time. Guess those marshmallows really finished me off. “Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me,” I say to myself with a smile before I drift off to the other world.

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Zeno's musings

The world has changed. Though I live, hunt, and explore the Outlands, I do visit the mortal realm from time to time. I wonder from time to time when the change was most notable. Hmm….
Was it right after the gathering when we killed the giant robot? No, it was after that.
Then there was the gathering a few years later where we all had to do some ritual to start the transfer of “faith” to the Outlands. That was annoying, I was pretty much just the gopher setting an entrance to my sanctum somewhere then letting everyone through. Though I did get to meet some interesting people and hunt some strange beasts. That took a couple years to finish “our” part. Though the “faith” didn’t disappear all at once, we could all tell it was going.
There was another war in the U.S. stuff happened. Don’t care. Only good thing was that more titan spawn came out of hiding for me to kill.
Ophelia got married to Walter at some point. I only really found out when I went to visit Walter and Ophelia was there with a kid in her arms. Before I could talk with Walter and have him check the Dues Ex, Ophelia started nagging me about leaving my phone with the Dryads, and not even calling her back once I get her message. It was annoying, I mostly ignored her and when she took a breath I left.
Lets see… next was the discovery of the subterrain realm. By this time I didn’t bother taking my relics with me to the mortal realm. Most didn’t work. I guess when I noticed my relics weren’t working was the point I realized the world had changed. I think this when I was at my weakest as well. I was exploring one of the caves and ran into Alva. She was surrounded by dead beasts and wounded. I helped her. I ended up staying in the mortal realm for about 5 years that time. Alva had one of my 8 children. I haven’t seen here since I left her after that 5 year stint.
Once I got back to the outlands there were questions. I avoided them by going hunting in the outlands for titan spawn

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Life
Adventure Log for Ophelia, the Magpie

Childbirth is weird. Also, painful. Very painful. Excruciatingly painful.

Part of that is Walter’s fault, of course. I wanted a baby, not a goddamn watermelon, but no… This kid had to take after their father – with his broad shoulders and his big freaking head. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that my divine heritage keeps aging me down – I’m over forty years old, but most mortals struggle to believe that I’m twenty. I’m not sure if its lowering my internal biology as well, but it sure as hell isn’t giving me child-bearing hips and if anything I’ve shrunk in most of my dimensions – I’ve gotten skinnier and more petite. Really jealous of Astaria right now – she keeps getting taller AND older. Bitch.

OK. Uncalled for. But, seriously – lot of fucking pain right now. This kid’s making themselves difficult to love. Thank everything that Walter’s here – he really pulled out all the stops. I’ve never seen a medical bay this fancy before; it’s like something out of one of Star’s silly space shows. There are scanners and devices and tools and a metric ton of blinking lights. He’s here himself too, of course – holding my hand. I’m squeezing it with all the might I have – with a little extra juice from the pain – but he’s looks like it’s barely even registering for him. Flames are popping from my fingers as well – I don’t mean to do it, but he doesn’t care and our clenched hands seem enveloped in flickering fire. He’s calm and collected, just like he always is – saying comforting things to me, while occasionally pushing the hair out of face and dabbing my forehead with a towel. Every now and again, he chuckles to himself and then explains in calm detail what one of my tattoos is doing – he always finds their little actions fascinating. Apparently, they’re all in as much pain as I am… The eyes are shocked and bloodshot; the birds are flapping their wings and freaking out; the snakes are screaming and writhing; and all the flowers are burning in an inked inferno…

Somme is here too. I asked her to be. I know it hasn’t been particularly easy for her – it can’t exactly be fun getting a new stepmother who is physically and actually younger than you, especially when she may or may not have some feelings for your new stepmother’s brother… Gah, this family is quickly becoming a mess, though I suppose that’s very Greek of us. I asked her to be here so that she could be the first to meet her new sibling – it seemed the right thing to do and maybe it’ll warm her up to the thought of me being in the family a little. Her and I had a bad start – the whole Rafi thing left a bad taste in all our mouths – but I think we’ve been doing OK since then and she seemed genuinely thrilled to officiate the wedding last year, though I think that was partially because it meant Astaria didn’t get to do it. She’s standing in the back, observing like she often does, drinking in everything she needs to know, which is pretty much everything. She’s clearly sweating though. I forgot she isn’t immune to the crippling effects of Walter’s home. She’s doing a pretty good job at hiding it though – but I can tell. A mother always can.

Shit. That’s going to be me. A mother. It feels weird to be nervous about something that I feel I’ve always been. I’ve done what everyone said were the hard parts – I scared away Felix’s girlfriends and bailed him out of jail more times that I care to remember; I bought Zeno his first camera, encouraged his career forward; I got Star through her awkward years, helped her get into college; I got all them through Mom’s death… I even watched poor Aulus march into the battle that would be his doom… but, Gods above, how can people say that that shit is hard when this HURTS SO FUCKING MUCH?

The pain’s becoming blinding and disorienting. I know enough to know that something’s not right… I feel another wave of anesthesia enter my bloodstream.

Tianna’s muttering above me. Thank everything for that woman. She’s sweating like a dog – her water-based nature is actively rejecting this heat-baked environment. Is that sweat? Her skin seems to be actively liquefying; she keeps having to slide her own eye back up her face as it slips down. Rafi’s acting like a terrified nurse – handing her the things she needs and yelping in panic whenever she yells at him. I can’t really tell what’s she saying anymore – something about a breach; it’s getting increasingly hard to focus with the drugs in my system, and I think Tee’s using that new trick of hers as well to pump up the effects, but nevertheless, every inch of me feels like its exploding. Is this what it feels like to be burned alive? Tianna’s rubbing my inflated belly, letting her skin wash out over me like a soothing flood.

“Are we good?” I hear Walter’s booming voice cut through the pain, like a hot knife through butter.

I hear Tianna curse in Spanish. “Head’s not in the right place. Trying to feel out how much I gotta turn this kid.”

Somme’s voice cuts through. “112 degrees,” she says curiously. “To the left.”

“How?” Tee’s voice is stressed and confused.

“Just trust her,” says Walter.

“Right,” says Tianna, her stressed face clear to me, even in my drugged up state. “Hang on, Mags.” Her hands widen across my swollen belly, spreading wider than normal hands should be able to. I look up at her – she’s exhausted, all of her efforts are focused entirely on me as the hanging fire in the air soaks into her lungs and drains her. Her skin is moist, her hair soaked, her features sagging down her face as she focuses everything she has left on me. I try to reach for her – but the pain in my stomach sears and all I can do is cry out.

“Tee, you can’t. It’s too – ” begins Rafi timidly.

“Shut up, Raf,” she snaps, meaner than she probably meant to. “I ain’t leaving her now.” No one ever gets Tianna and I at first glance. Rafi always struggled with it and Walter’s only just starting to get it. They assume we’re friends, or lovers, or cellmates, but we’ve been more than that for a long, long time. Walter’s my husband, but Tee is the closest thing I have to a soulmate – the only one who will never not be there for me, through the lows, the highs and everything in between. Her grip on my stomach tightens… the pressure builds… and I’m in agony. I can feel her, physically pushing the baby around while simultaneously healing the wounds that the action is giving me. Both of my hands flare up. I see Rafi back up in panic, as Walter grabs my other hand to stop the flames from spreading further up my skin – to where they might hurt Tee and the baby…

And then, finally, after what seems like an eternity, Tee releases her grip and the pain subsides. It’s not gone – but its lessened a thousand times over. Finally, finally… its bearable. I breathe a long sigh of relief, then I hear Tee collapse to one knee at the other end of the table. “I’m fine, I’m fine…” she breathes out, regaining herself. She puts her hands on me again and the fog of the anesthesia lifts, and I regain myself to an extent. “OK, Mags, easy part now. Push.”

There’s pushing; there’s blood; there’s pain – and then suddenly, the howls of a newborn child fill the air. That’s it. It’s done. I’m a mom. For real, this time.

There’s a rush of figures, but I’m too hopped up on leftover anesthesia and sheer relief that
I don’t really keep track – Tianna’s covering me up, Walter’s cutting the cord, Rafi’s freaking out, Somme is holding the baby… The next thing I know is Walter has his hand on my head – clearing off the sweat gently. He smiles broadly at me. “It’s a girl,” he says.

I smile back. “I win,” I mutter out. Huh. Apparently, gender is entirely luck-based.

“Yes, you do,” he replies. “You get to name her.”

“You disappointed?”

“Not in the slightest. Besides, you would have talked me out of Agincourt anyway.”

“Nah, it’s kind of a cute name for a boy.”

“But, it’s a girl. So what’s it going to be?”

I glance up at her, crying gently in Somme’s arms as she tries to gently rock her with a slightly perplexed expression on her face. “Ivalisse,” I say. “Evie, for short.”

Somme snorts a small, tense laugh. “Puerto Rican name. It means life,” she states matter-of-factly. “I see what you did there.”

“Do you not like it?” I ask.

Somme locks eyes with me for a second, then turns back to the baby – to little Evie. “No,” she stammers. It’s not often she’s caught offguard, but I think I got her that time. “I… I like it.” She isn’t lying. She catches herself blushing, then gently brings Evie and lays her on my chest. “I’ll let your siblings know that everything went well. I’m sure they’ll want to visit soon. Rafi, you have until the end of the day, but I need you bright and early tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Rafi answers, keeping a close eye on an exhausted Tianna.

“Congratulations,” Somme says simply, a genuine smile on her face – no trace of a lie – before stalking out of the room.

I look at this perfect child that is now lightly snoozing on my chest. Walter is stroking her face with his calloused fingers. “You get to pick the middle name,” I say gently to him.

He looks up – over at Tianna, who seems to be slowly melting into an armchair as Rafi fans her madly and gives her bottles and bottles of water. “I think Tianna’s a good fit. Don’t you?”

Oh, I get it. The asshole’s trying to make me cry. I’m too happy to be mad though, so I nod and I cry and I hold my family as tightly as I possibly can as the illustrations across my skin celebrate with two-dimensional fireworks of every ink and color.

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How did we get here?

Lancelot stands victorious atop the battlements of his small frontier fortress and looks out over his domain. The grounds of Camlann show the unmistakable signs of battle as it stands littered with the remains of his defeated foe. An army of ghost, some 10,000 souls strong, led by the spirit of Confederate General Beauregard, took umbrage with his claim as Lord of these lands. They insulted his guests, threatened his friends, bombarded his hold, and threatened him with death. But as the sun rises over the Black Mountains, it is Lancelot that stands tall on his battlements thankful to his friends for their assistance, swearing a silent oath to repay them in kind.

All at once, Lancelot is gone and the moment of epic glory has passed leaving Billy Bob painfully aware of the magnitude of this situation. “How did it come to this? How did we get here?”

Not long ago, Billy Bob was just another American teenager trying to figure out which girl he was going to ask to prom. He was worried about college acceptance, spending every evening filling out scholarship applications, and every weekend trying to earn enough money to buy a truck before he would ultimately leave the sleepy little town of Grantville.

“I mean, I know how it started…” All it really took to throw this sleepy little town into upheaval and turn Billy Bob into Lancelot was a bright blue flash, a noxious green mist, and a raid on the town by a small army of rat like humanoids ending in several kidnappings and about 400 of Grantville’s townsfolk left in a coma.

“But then things got really weird…” Donnie is Arthur Pendragon, Lee Lee is Mordred, and Alice is the Lady of the Lake. Oh, and apparently the school is the seat of the round table that exists in a chamber on a fourth floor that the school has never had, and no one else can find.

“Oh, it doesn’t stop there…” A few days later Charlie is Galahad and Dyson is Morgause. We all go down into a tunnel under the school to track down some of the missing townsfolk and wind up finding an underground river. Low and behold, it has a ship on it. This ship is full of those rat like creatures, and of course there is a fight. Now we won the fight, but Arthur nearly died, Dyson was a complete coward, and we are all now responsible for the kidnapping of Gwenevere.

“Then the day after our little subterranean showdown…” Billy Bob and company are inspired to wonder around the outskirts of Grantville and lay claim to their respective domains. Billy Bob claimed the south. Arthur claimed the North. Mordred became an expert in various holy sites, and Gareth and Gawain are suddenly here amongst us.

Well I guess that’s how we got here. But how did here get to us?

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Admits a Twilight Dream

As my consciousness stirred, I found myself waking up in the same alleyway from the night before. Trashy, raggedy, and crumbling. I look up and see the sky is gray. No light or sun or clouds. No darkness nor moon nor star. Just an eerie twilit glow. “Malfeas” I say. The little Tassadar toy I have is sitting on my shoulder, looking around and with a worried look on his face. “Ah man, not here again. We shouldn’t be here.” He says. I decide to steel myself and walk out of the alleyway this time around. “Let’s just have a quick look around. Worst comes to worst I can wake us up if anything happens.” I say to him as I pace out.

I look around and recognize a rather familiar street. No cars or traffic though. I walk out to the middle of the street and turn around. There’s Magpie’s Tattoo parlor. In ruins. The 2nd story is missing and crumbling to the ground. I fight the urge to instantly walk in and see if anyone is hurt. Deciding it better to not touch anything if i can. I take a gulp and swallow some vomit as I force myself to walk onward in the middle of the deserted street.

I climb up a hill as the street started to slope. ‘I know I am not in the real world.’, I think to myself. ‘This street doesn’t slope up.’ As I make my way up the slope, I can now see that’s down beneath. The View is shocking and disturbing. There is nothing but flat, barren wasteland. The sky is still a disheartening gray above. I notice there is no wind either. Not even a breeze. I sigh and strain my eyesight. Far ahead I seem a gathering of dark shadows. “Please tell me we aren’t going to go investigate that” my Tassadar spirit guide pleas with me. “Sorry buddy.” I say. “We have to see what this is about.”

It takes me some time but I end up getting there. As I approach I begin to realize that the shapes are people. They are… kneeling? All of them. There are so many. It’s a huge crowd. Much bigger than any gathering I’ve seen in DC. As I near the crowd I can see that they are all still. Not blinking, not breathing, not a single flicker of life. Yet they are not statues. They are people. I see their hair, their skin and their clothes. It’s real. So I can rule out a gorgon being here. As i start to make my way towards the center, I notice it’s not just mortals. Amazons, giants, centaurs, nymphs, and an unknowable assortment of mythical creatures are intermingled with the humans. All of them facing the same direction.

I know I am nearing the middle of this. I can see a few tall figures up on an elevated slope. The closer I get the more I start to recognize who is here. There’s Rafi. And Oleg. Is that Thor over there? Despite never having met Thor, I can tell it’s him. Behind him is Amaterasu. To my right is Sobek and Quetzalcoatl. I finally reach the end of the rows of people. Up on the slope I see my family. Felix, Ophelia and Zeno, all of them kneeling and motionless like the rest, facing the figure in the middle. There is ol’ Walt and Kate opposite of them. Along with a few other people that I assume is the remaining of the Greek Pantheon. James Cornelius is right smack in the middle. Everyone’s eyes seem to be looking at him. He looks just like he does in his high school yearbook picture. To his left is Poseidon. The old Greek version with a long beard and tangled in fishnets. To his right is Somme Sabine. Hades. She is clad in a black toga with a golden sash around her. Her hair is on fire too. Like in the Disney version, except it’s gray. Like everything else here. They are both looking away from James, to an empty spot in between them. James seems to be holding a scythe in her left hand and a trident in her right, looking straight up and staring off into space.

I look over at my Tassadar toy and he has the same worried look but it seems even more exaggerated than before. I turn my gaze back to James and i nearly jump out of my pants as his gaze is meeting mine. “FUCKING HELL” I yell out in fear and surprise. “Little warning next time James, don’t you think?” He doesn’t say anything. I also notice that his face didn’t move, just his eyes. Those gray, piercing eyes. I move to the left and the eyes follow. I move back and they keep following. After a while of staring at each other His eyes move to the empty spot in front of him. “is that spot for me?” I ask, not expecting an answer. His eyes dart back to me then to the spot. “Guess it is” “Ok Astaria, I think it’s time to wake up.” Says Tassadar. “There is only so much creepy I can take for one day” “Yeah, I agree” says me.

I start to concentrate on home and my own bed like I did before. When I open my eyes, James is right in front of me. Before I could even scream out, he covers my mouth and holds me tight. I can feel my strength waning and he moves us back up to where he was. I close my eyes again and start focusing with all my will and power on my own bed while still feeling myself being dragged in my upright pose. I then feel myself stop moving and feel James’ hand grasp my arm. The feeling then goes away as i feel my consciousness come back to my body and i wake up in a startled fright. Sweat dripping all over me. My eyes regain their focus and I am back in my sanctum. I look over at the clock and see it’s almost time to go to the party. “SHIT I’m gonna be like Felix and be late!”

I’ll sort through this later, maybe I can get some answers…

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