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Tristan and Vanessa

“See, Nessa, the real question isn’t ‘Can I name every Roman Emperor in order and list their birth and death dates as well as the year that they took power.’ The real question is, ‘Why would anyone in the world ever need to do that?’ And making the answer be ‘for a trivia contest’ is cheating.”

As he finished speaking, Tristan grinned across the long, hollow log that he and his sister were sitting on opposite ends of. The log itself sat a short distance into the jungle from the beach, and was large enough that he almost could have laid across the width of it. Not nearly as big as the trees at Eden’s Garden, of course. But still respectable.

Squinting at him, Vanessa sniffed the words, “For Heretics, that kind of information actually could be useful, Tristan. What if you run into a magical trap that says something like, ‘I was the first Roman Emperor to use the cognomen Germanicus instead of Caesar, move these floor tiles into the correct spelling of my name to turn off that poison gas’? What would you do then?”

“Well,” the boy replied dryly, “first, I’d congratulate Spielberg and Lucas for making their Indiana Jones movies a far more accurate depiction of ancient booby traps than I thought they were.” Pausing then, he stared off into the distance, smiling to himself while his mouth twitched.

Vanessa sighed. “You’re trying not to laugh because you said booby, aren’t you?”

“Technically,” Tristan answered easily, “now I’m trying not to laugh because you said booby.”

A tiny, reluctant smile played at the girl’s mouth even as her face pinked a little bit. “Come on,” she pressed, “we’re supposed to be testing your memory. And I thought you’d like the historical stuff more than the math stuff. Plus, you never know when any kind of information might be useful. It’s not like you’ve got limited storage space in that brain, you know.”

“Hey, if you knew how many baseball stats, X-Men comics, and movie quotes I’ve got locked up in here,” her brother retorted, “you might change your mind about that ‘unlimited storage space’ thing. Ooh, and Guitar Hero songs. Do you have any idea how easy that game is when you can watch a song once and then play it perfectly without even looking at the screen the entire time?”

In response to that, Vanessa stuck her tongue out at her brother before offering, “Make you a deal?”

Tristan was intrigued, raising an eyebrow. “A deal, the devil says?”

“Don’t call me the devil,” she shot back. “I’m the devil’s niece. Get it right. Anyway, yes, a deal. You take my thing seriously and memorize this stuff, and then you can teach me the stuff that you’re interested in. You know, the X-Men and baseball stuff.”

Blinking, the boy quickly asked, “You’re serious? You really wanna know that stuff?”

Vanessa nodded without any hesitation. “Of course I do. I mean, you’re interested in it, and I want to have more things that we can talk about. If it gets you to pay attention to the stuff you’re not really interested in, that’s just a second bird for the stone.”

Tristan grinned then, head shaking. “You know, Nessa, it’s a good thing I’ve got this perfect memory now.

“Maybe it’ll help me stop forgetting how great it is to have a sister like you.”

 

————–

Tabbris

 

A handful of fish scattered in various directions as the water was suddenly and violently disturbed by a small head covered in blonde hair abruptly shoving its way through the lake surface and into the space where they had just been swimming. Bright green eyes popped open then, as Tabbris, from her upside down position, tried to apologize for disturbing the fleeing creatures.

Of course, since her head was currently in the lake and she had not used any kind of spell to compensate, what came out of her mouth was water-muffled gurgling. Which was a mistake that the girl realized quickly, lifting her head out of the lake long enough to fumble at the pockets of her jumpsuit (Seosten technology meant that even skin-tight jumpsuits could have pockets of considerable size) until she found what appeared to be a keychain with a large number of small wooden discs, about the size of quarters, all of varying colors. There were some red ones, some blue ones, white ones, green ones, and so on.

Shifting straight to the blue ones, the young girl quickly flipped through them until she found the one she wanted. A quick tug yanked it from the keychain, and she whispered the activation word for the spell attached to it. Within another second, a faint glowing bubble-like forcefield appeared around the girl’s head. It wouldn’t actually stop anything that hit it with any force. But it would act as… well, an air bubble.

Suitably prepared then, she poked her head back down and looked for the fish she had frightened. “Sorry!” the girl called, hoping that some of them might hear. And even if they didn’t (not that they’d understand if they did), apologizing when you scared or hurt someone was just the right thing to do.

She heard footsteps behind her, slowly approaching along the wooden dock that she was hanging off of. The footsteps stopped, and the girl lifted her head from the water to find the very old-looking, knightly man in literal chainmail. “Miss Tabbris,” the man politely spoke, “are you alright?”

“Oh! Um, yeah. Hi, Mr… uh, Enguerrand,” Tabbris quickly replied while shaking her wet hair out a bit. She was blushing. “I’m okay. I–oh.” Reaching up, she poked the bubble while dismissing the spell, making it pop. “I just wanted to look at the fish for a minute.”

The man smiled a little at that. “Am I to take it that you like fish, Miss Tabbris?”

Her head bobbed quickly. “Uh huh! I like fish a lot. I wasn’t sure before because I–I didn’t want to accidentally make Flick like something she didn’t, so I was trying not to think about things that I like very much, except when I couldn’t help it. But I think I really like fish.”

That kind smile broadened a little, and the elderly man (who had been around long enough to have diapered and babysat Flick’s mother’s father) slowly sank down to sit on the edge of the dock beside her. “Well, my dear, at the risk of straying from my chivalrous stereotype into one more befitting a far more modern gangster, would you like to, ahh, swim with the fish?”

“Uh huh!” Again, Tabbris nodded as fast as possible, her wet, blonde hair shaking with each motion. Then she stopped. “Oh. But um. I can’t swim.”  

“That’s quite alright,” Enguerrand assured her. “We’ll simply start there, and teach you to swim.”

“You–you’d do that?” the girl asked in an awed voice. “You’re not too busy or… or anything?”

The man shook his head. “Miss Tabbris, I assure you… as someone who has witnessed the birth, growth, and loss of so many people whom I called my friends and family, these are the moments that are remembered. Not the training or the battles. These moments right here. I try to make those memories whenever possible. So please, do believe my sincerity when I say that I would very much love to teach you how to swim.”

Finally smiling back at him, Tabbris chirped, “Okay, Mr. Enguerrand.

“Where do we start?”

 

—————

 

Apollo and Kushiel

 

Deep in the heart of Kushiel’s prison facility, two figures stood facing one another. One was held locked in rigid stasis that was enforced by the yellow light surrounding her. A yellow light which was projected from a ring worn by the other figure, who held his hand up that way. Bodies of those who had tried to interrupt the pair lay scattered along the floor around them.

“You know,” Apollo remarked in a tone of faux-casualness underlied by extreme tension and effort, “if I had it to do over again, I’d probably make the light green instead of yellow. Much rather be Hal than Sinestro, you know?”

Straining to free herself, the Seosten woman snarled an annoyed, “You are prattling nonsense, as you always have. One would think that you would have matured some small amount in the millennia proceeding your banishment. But then, perhaps that is hopeless optimism.”

Despite the fact that this was a struggle that was far more centered around magical strength than physical, sweat still poured from both Apollo and Kushiel from the effort of holding or breaking the paralysis respectively. Each was calling upon vast reserves of energy and stamina, their duel essentially stalemated. Kushiel could not free herself from the power of the ring, but Apollo couldn’t manage anything that would actually end the problem. The slightest slip at that point would have allowed her to move and therefore escape. Or worse.

Grimacing a little before turning that into a small, tight smile, the man retorted, “I see you’re still creatively reinterpreting my telling you all to go fuck yourselves. I’ve got news for you, sweetheart. When the guy packs his stuff, moves to a new country, changes his name, and files a restraining order, you didn’t break up with him.

“Ah,” Kushiel spat with a dark smirk, “but you didn’t choose to go by yourself, now did you? No, no, you wouldn’t have. You were counting on the one that you thought you could trust. You were expecting dear, dear, would-be sister to go with you. How much did it hurt when she refused? How hard did you take that betrayal, hmm? Everything we did to your name, every action we took to destroy that reputation and turn you into humanity’s worst villain, and none of it was as bad as what she did. You asked for her help, for her to join you, and she stabbed you in the back.” Near the end of that, the magically paralyzed woman was chuckling.

Shaking his head a little at that, Apollo quietly replied, “Betrayed? Kushy, does Sevesensiel ring a bell? Little code that those kids used to fuck with Radueriel? I gave it to Sariel when I left, just in case she ever needed it. Did she ever tell any of you about it in the.. Oh… two thousand years she had? Did she ever tell you about any of my plans? Did she even tell you that she knew I was leaving? Not much of a betrayal, then. Hell, she even told her kids about it, and it looks like they were smart enough to tell their friends.”

That wasn’t how Felicity had ended up with the code, of course. But there was no need to give Kushiel any reason to think otherwise.

“Sure, I was disappointed that she didn’t come with me,” he continued then. “But betrayed? Don’t be so dramatic. I know my sister. I knew she’d get there eventually. But she had her own path to take, and it wasn’t my place to force it. I wanted her company, I wanted to spare her some of the guilt that I knew she’d end up feeling. I wanted her to come with me. But even when she didn’t, I knew she would eventually. I just had to give her time. And if there’s one thing people like us have a lot of, it’s time.”

Straining even more against the spell that held her rigid, Kushiel gave a low snarl. “It’s too bad then, that you will have to wait even longer for that reunion that you have wanted for so long. Or did it escape you that the transport holding all of those prisoners, including the other traitor you care for so much, has disappeared? And with her twin children aboard as well. What an added treat that will be.”

“Oh, I noticed,” Apollo informed her, his expression unchanging. “But you know what? I noticed something else too. You were pissed off. When that thing disappeared, you weren’t giddy. You weren’t happy about it. You were mad, which tells me that it’s not gonna be that simple for you to go after them. So we’ve got time. And until we find them, I’ve got a good feeling that those kids can handle themselves. Besides, if you think Sariel is going to be a prisoner for much longer, then you’ve actually gotten dumber than I thought. And let me tell you, ‘torture everyone that hates me into having more babies’ was already pretty dumb.”

The anger and frustration in Kushiel’s voice was audible as she snarled, “I am going to make you cry, Lucifer. I will make you plead and beg for me to just kill you to end your pain. I will take away everything that you care about, make you watch your loved ones suffer and burn in your stead.”

“Even your threats are growing old, Kushiel.”

The retort came not from Apollo, but from Athena. The brunette Olympian had entered the room, moving to stand beside Apollo himself, while holding Excalibur loosely in one hand. “You’ve had over a thousand years to find something more creative,” she informed the other woman flatly, “and you’re still relying on the same old tired cliches.”

“You,” Kushiel growled the word, straining even harder against the paralysis.

“Me,” Athena confirmed. “Don’t worry, I’m sure Radueriel and Abaddon will show up whenever they finish licking their wounds. In the meantime, it may not be very chivalrous or knightly to kill a helpless opponent. But in this case…” That sword rose. “I think we can make an exception.”

Unfortunately, in the next instant, a figure in a dark cloak that obscured their identity, magical darkness of some kind enveloping the face under that hood, appeared between them. A gesture from the cloaked figure dispelled the yellow light around Kushiel, freeing her from that paralysis.

Apollo and Athena both moved, but the other figure was faster. Their hand snapped out, catching hold of Kushiel. Then they were gone, leaving the other two to explain to the just-arriving Haiden where his wife and children were.

 

————-

 

Harper/Guinevere/Lancelot

Boston, on the far side of midnight yet still hours from dawn. A dark alley, barely illuminated by a struggling streetlight on the corner whose flickering glow did little more than cast imposing shadows for half a dozen figures who needed no such help.

Six of them. Each a were of a different kind. Two wolves, one bear, a single coyote, a raven, and a snake. All were in their mostly-human phase, their forms just changed enough to grant them monstrous features as they loomed over their target: a slim, gray-haired man in a business suit whose wire-rim glasses had just been snatched from his face by one of the two wolf-men.

“P-pl-please, please, I have money,” the man stammered. “I have money. You don’t have to hurt me. Please.” His lip quivered.

“Hurt you, old man?” The mangy-haired werewolf gave a chuckle that was more growl. “Oh, the boys and I have been aching for a real hunt. But I suppose you’ll have to do for an… appetizer. Now the cops that show up to investigate once we make you scream…” He crushed the glasses in his hand, mangling them. “… maybe they’ll be more fun.”

“Father.”

The voice came from further down the alley, toward what should have been a dead-end. Yet a girl stood there, a girl whose bubblegum-pink hair and pigtails were at odds with the serious expression on her face.

To those at Crossroads, she was known as Harper Hayes. Yet to others, she had a different name.

“Gwen?” The old man, his once quivering voice turned to curiosity, tilted his head. “What are you doing here?”  

“Father? Oh. Oh this is rich.” The werewolf who was clearly in charge of his ragtag pack laughed, joined by the others (the coyote’s laugh was more of a high pitched yip that carried on far too long). “Never mind that bit about the cops. I think our evening’s entertainment just arrived,” the man noted while smiling broadly at the girl who was seemingly surrounded by the pack of weres. He stopped short of literally licking his lips, but it was a near thing.

“Father,” Guinevere quietly and firmly spoke, ignoring the supposed threats. “Stop playing with the children, please. I need to speak with you.”

“Okay,” the wolf-man cut in, sounding annoyed as he lifted the hand with their first ‘victim’s’ broken glasses still clutched in it. “I’m feeling a touch ignored and belittled here, and I–”

Night turned to day as light flooded the alley as fully as if the sun itself had risen to its noon position in that intervening second. The pack of weres spun as one, expecting to see the floodlights from several trucks centered on them.

Instead, they saw the same man they had just been terrorizing. He stood on the opposite side of them from where he had been an instant earlier. And from his back extended the source of that unnatural light. Wings, beautiful, ethereal, and seemingly consisting of pure, blazing light. They unfurled, expanding to fill the width of the alley while glowing even brighter, to the point of being nearly too much to look at. The collection of weres were left staggering backward, hands raised to block some of the light.

“Very well,” the winged-man announced easily. “I suppose we can cut to the good part.”

The weres ran. Or tried to. Spinning, each scattered, trying to flee toward the dead end, toward the girl, toward anywhere but that spot. One fled in the opposite direction, skidding right past the glowing figure on his way to the street.

It did them no good. Staying where he was, the man lashed out with both of those brightly-glowing wings. The energy-constructs extended, stretching to cut between the fleeing figures before abruptly slamming outward.  Of the five weres who fled further into the alley, three were caught by the left wing, while the other two were caught by the right wing.

They were killed instantly. The wings burned straight through them, cutting through every defense, every bit of strength or power they had. Their bodies were literally disintegrated, as surely as if they had been tissue carelessly tossed into a crematorium.

The remaining were, the snake, had just reached the street as the man turned his way. Rather than give chase, he simply angled his wing. A beam of light, as deadly as any ship-mounted laser, shot from the wing to envelop the fleeing figure. In a moment, all that remained was dark ash floating through the air.

“Now then.” The wings vanished, returning the alley to its previous darkened stated, as the man turned to face Guinevere.

“What can I do for you, Duckling?”

*******

“And now she’s gone.”

Some time later, as Guinevere sat on a bench in a nearby park with the man who had adopted her as a child and raised her as his own, she finished relaying the story of what had happened to Avalon Sinclaire.

“I promised myself that I would protect her. But I couldn’t be on top of her every moment. I thought she would be safe enough. I told myself she would be safe enough while I searched for the pieces for Arthur. But the Seosten took her. I let my guard down and they… they took her.”

She turned slightly, squinting at the man beside her. “Your people are very persistent.”

Not truly his people, of course. The man who had adopted her had left his own race far behind long before he’d ever met her, long before he had taken the scraggly, orphaned child under his (literal) wing and taught her everything she needed to know to one day become both the queen of Camelot and Lancelot, one of its staunchest defenders.

Once, he had been known to his own people and to the humans he first presented himself to as Quirinus. Later, the humans had known him as Romulus, a founder and first king of Rome. Later still, he had taken the name he was most known for in the modern age, a name he still used to the present day, millennia after abandoning his own people.

Michael. Michael the archangel, whose glowing wings were a result of his own genetic enhancements from a different experiment than the one that had created the Olympians. Those same wings, despite being present only within very, very few like Michael himself, had somehow become synonymous with all Seosten. Or angels, as they were known to the humans. Several more Seosten had taken to using magic to create wings that carried on that symbolism, simulating the power that belonged to Michael and that handful of others who were like him. But their magical wings were nothing even close to the real thing, a simple parlor trick.

“My people,” Michael replied then, “have been fighting this war for a very long time, and tend to react poorly to anything that might challenge their supposed superiority.” His head turned a little then. “But tell me more of the others, these children who oppose them. Tell me more of Joselyn Chambers’ daughter, and her friends. I have heard some from Gabriel already. But what do you make of them?”

Guinevere was silent for a few seconds, several thoughts working their way through her mind before she began. “Felicity is very intelligent and talented, particularly for her age. She is insightful, learns quickly, and adapts even faster than that. But she is still young, and very much in over her head. I believe that she could grow to be just influential and important as her mother, if not more so.

“But if she loses Avalon Sinclaire at this early stage, if the girl is ripped away from her like this… it will do more damage. She lost her mother, and spent a good part of her life thus far hating her for that supposed abandonment. To lose Avalon now would be… very bad for her development.”

“That was a very clinical and likely accurate assessment,” Michael announced then, nodding before his eyes met hers. “Now how do you feel about her, Duckling?”

Flushing a little, Guinevere glanced away a bit guiltily. She had been keeping her assessment as detached as possible. Now, she sighed. “I like her. She reminds me of myself at her age, except possibly not as hot-headed and impulsive. She could do a lot of good for this world, Father, and for more beyond it. But not if she loses herself here. That is why I want to help her, why I will help her. So much has been taken from that girl as it is. I’m afraid that a loss like this, if Avalon Sinclaire is truly killed, the grief of it may destroy what fire Felicity has. Or awaken it too early, into a flash-burn that exhausts itself and fades to nothing. A flame like hers must be carefully nurtured.”

“Speaking of those who are nurturing the Chambers girl,” Michael carefully asked then. “The headmistress.. What do you think of her now?”

There was no answer for a moment. No answer until Guinevere slowly lifted her gaze from the ground to look at him. “She seems to have changed. Perhaps she has. I believe she is trying, after all she has done in these past few centuries to make up for those dark times. I would be a fool to discount her efforts in that regard. But I will not extend more trust to her than I must. Not yet.

“It will take more to convince me that Morgan le Fay has truly redeemed herself.”

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20 comments

  1. Hiya, guys! This is your Wednesday update for this week, which happens to be the first installment of the $10+ Patreon Snippets! Basically, everyone who donates $10+ per month on Patreon gets to choose 500 words to be put toward any short scene they’d like to see, or they can use those words to extend someone else’s original scene, or save them up for a longer interlude later. This is the first time I’ve tried doing something like this, so I hope you guys enjoyed it.

    Tags for this chapter are: Damn It‚ Athena‚ Next Time Decapitate Someone And THEN Criticize Their Threats., Enguerrand, Guinevere/Lancelot, Michael, Okay‚ Werepeople‚ If You Are That Incapable Of Reading A Room And Realizing You Need To Leave‚ You Deserve To Be Massacred., Someone Please Get Tabbris A Giant Tank Of Pet Fish., Tabbris, To Be Fair‚ Vanessa’s Hypothetical Essentially Was A Trivia Contest. Just One With Higher Stakes., Tristan Moon, Vanessa Moon

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  2. I’m trying to figure out how Gaia’s personal timeline went. I know from SB that time travel was involved in some capacity, but I’m wondering when her time as Scathach came up. Right now my guess is that she was actually Scathach before she was Morgan le Fey, having bent sent backwards in time after becoming a Heretic and then took that name before returning to her original time.

    But that doesn’t mesh with some things that have been said in the past, since I’m pretty sure you’ve said that there was another Scathach before Gaia and that she took that name after she was Morgan. But then there’s the question of how her son fits into the different phases of her life, because you confirmed he was Mordred, which implies he was born and died when her name was Morgan, but I’m under the impression that she was Gaia Sinclaire after leaving Clan Sinclair.

    Unless she didn’t take that name until later and she came out of that experience as Scathach…

    This has been Hendy’s stream-of-consciousness. Thank you for joining us.

    On other notes, I was wondering if you were going to order these chapters a little differently. Like, put them off in their own link between these two chapters, with a “Patreon Snippets” link underneath the “Next Chapter” link. I guess this answers that question.

    Also, do the first two snippets take place slightly in the future or now? It seems a little jarring for Vanessa, Tristan, and especially Tabbris to be so relaxed at this point in the story.

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    1. In line with your thought is the possibility that she adopted the name Scathach while with the Sinclair clan – especially if she was acting as a trainer (it’s not as if we know that they knew who she was) and as the clan worked through her issues then someone broached the topic that as far as they were concerned she’d kinda had been adopted by the clan.

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    2. I’m trying to figure out how Gaia’s personal timeline went. I know from SB that time travel was involved in some capacity, but I’m wondering when her time as Scathach came up. Right now my guess is that she was actually Scathach before she was Morgan le Fey, having bent sent backwards in time after becoming a Heretic and then took that name before returning to her original time.

      But that doesn’t mesh with some things that have been said in the past, since I’m pretty sure you’ve said that there was another Scathach before Gaia and that she took that name after she was Morgan. But then there’s the question of how her son fits into the different phases of her life, because you confirmed he was Mordred, which implies he was born and died when her name was Morgan, but I’m under the impression that she was Gaia Sinclaire after leaving Clan Sinclair.

      She was born Morgana, took the name Morgan Le Fay later during her time with and against Arthur/Camelot, lost her son at some point during that time, spiraled into despair, was taken in by the Sinclair clan and took the name of Scathach after the original, then later took the name of Gaia Sinclaire in honor of the clan that took care of her.

      edit: There is a time jump forward at some point in there but I’m not going to get too into the details of that in this comment.

      On other notes, I was wondering if you were going to order these chapters a little differently. Like, put them off in their own link between these two chapters, with a “Patreon Snippets” link underneath the “Next Chapter” link. I guess this answers that question.

      I might do that once there’s another regular chapter to go to.

      Also, do the first two snippets take place slightly in the future or now? It seems a little jarring for Vanessa, Tristan, and especially Tabbris to be so relaxed at this point in the story.

      They go at the best possible time for them to fit, so probably shortly after what we’ve seen. I’d say they probably take place during the evening of the day that we’re on right now. That said, I don’t think it’s quite so odd to see just a couple minutes of them being more relaxed. After all, we don’t know what they were thinking/saying/talking about before or after those brief scenes, because I didn’t want to take up the limited word count with addressing plot stuff like that rather than focusing on what was actually asked for.

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  3. I have a new mission in life. It is to take Tabbris to the best Aquairum & exotic goldfish store in the world, and let her empty my wallet and max out all my credit cards. Then set it all up with automated cleaning and monitoring….

    It’s nice to see the twins taking a moment to relax (probably very deliberately trying to escape all the drama), and their dynamic is is cute as ever. I assume they have some kind of “pass” to visit Camp Atherby on a semi-regular basis, since I don’t see them being willing to be separated from Sariel or Tabbris for very long at a stretch, right now.

    Hm… Tabby jumped straight to Flick soon after the kidnapped!Avalon reveal, and there wasn’t time for the fishy interlude in between, so I guess she’s staying at Camp Atherby with Sariel, or time-sharing somehow.
    Seosten Jumpsuit Pockets of Holding, confirmed. 🙂

    Gaia==Morgana? Did NOT see that one coming. Although since I dont’ follow any of the SB threads… were there in-story hints I missed? Still, I guess that explains why two different high-power parties who are very interested in Flick’s well-being aren’t talking to each other.
    OTOH, both Gaia and Gwen talk to Gabriel (G, G, and G?), so Gabriel can get some degree of cooperation to happen, at least to the degree that we avoid a classic “white hats tripping over each other” scenario.

    Michael is a Seosten, but not an Olympian — or at least, not part of the Olympian Upgrade Experiment. Did he come to Earth with the Olympians, or separately? Questions, questions, questions….

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    1. Gaia==Morgana? Did NOT see that one coming. Although since I dont’ follow any of the SB threads… were there in-story hints I missed?

      All things considered, I think the biggest hint is that Gaia named her adoptive daughter after the island Arthur is supposed to be dormant on. So Avalon is kinda sorta named after her new uncle.

      Other hints are pretty subtle. Like how the cavern Gaia sent the ship of Seosten prisoners to is totally a lair (she even says she used it for “planning”), or how Gaia is known to have changed her name at least once, or that she was never brought into Gabriel and Michael’s anti-Seosten group despite them having known she’s a Crossroads reformist for decades (apparently on Gwen’s word).

      But yeah, it’s been a running theory on SB for over a year that Gaia=Morgan le Fey. Not a big one, mind you. More like an idea that came up once in awhile.

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  4. >Despite the fact that this was a struggle that was far more centered around magical strength than physical, _sweat still_ from both Apollo and Kushiel from the effort of holding or breaking the paralysis respectively.

    Looks to be a word or 2 missing from the section I marked with the _’s

    Tabris must love Flick’s Shiver

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  5. Well, Tristan, considering one of the Committee members WAS one of those emperors and your mother was alive at that time, maybe it could be important.

    That was a great way for Vanessa to handle it. And like she said, ANYTHING could potentially end up useful, so why not learn about baseball and comics?

    Tabbris and Enguerrand is adorable. Woo!

    Apollo referencing Green Lantern was great. I wonder if he’s talked about comics with Larissa. And he totally won that verbal battle with Sariel.

    I wonder how/why Athena expected not to die and have Apollo die if she killed Kushiel. Maybe she was planning to do something to neutralize Kushiel’s ability, and that’s why she didn’t kill her immediately?

    Whelp, Michael is awesome, as befitting an Archangel of his stature.

    I really like how so far, as far as I can remember, all the real people were Bystanders and all the legendary people were Heretics or Alters. (And some real people became Heretics after their real-life story was over.) It seems like a very logical split. So Michael was Romulus, but Geta was a Bystander until after his “death.”

    Interesting. So Harper already knows about Felicity through Gabriel. I suppose seems keeping separate as a matter of operational security and to allow herself to provide surprise backup….oh. She doesn’t trust Gaia. Okay. Gaia being Morgan le Fay provides more context to how good she is at magic, for one thing. Also, yay, Morgana survived and ended up a good guy in the end! I remember hoping she’d do well for herself after Arthur’s origin story.

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    1. From the initial Apollo/Kushiel confrontation scene Apollo was going to attack her conventionally if she didn’t have her ability set to hit Sariel and the kids. Meaning that he had countermeasures in place already.

      And Athena would have her own.

      Apollo and Athena are both very powerful magic specialists. Athena’s demonstrated the ability to shut down Olympian trademark moves already: one button press and Raduriel’s magic nanoswarm shut off. Apollo has given himself extra high level abilities with magic items. They’ve both been expecting to throw down with Kushiel for thousands of years. I expect the only reason they didn’t have an AoE anti-Kushiel spell is the sheer power cost.

      There are worse matchups than Athena or Apoll owith prep time for Kushiel (Cronus, Grandfather, Arthur, Amatiel, Abaddon, Fossor) but not many.

      Like

  6. Crosspost

    Tristan and Vanessa were adorbs together.

    Tristan was intrigued, raising an eyebrow. “A deal, the devil says?”

    “Don’t call me the devil,” she shot back. “I’m the devil’s niece. Get it right.”

    Sariel, by unanimous family consensus, Apollo is your brother.
    —–
    Oh, Tabbris. Why so moe?

    —-

    “I see you’re still creatively reinterpreting my telling you all to go fuck yourselves. I’ve got news for you, sweetheart. When the guy packs his stuff, moves to a new country, changes his name, and files a restraining order, you didn’t break up with him.”

    Sick burn, Apollo.

    I want to quote this entire thing … but I won’t.

    “Even your threats are growing old, Kushiel.”

    The retort came not from Apollo, but from Athena. The brunette Olympian had entered the room, moving to stand beside Apollo himself, while holding Excalibur loosely in one hand. “You’ve had over a thousand years to find something more creative,” she informed the other woman flatly, “and you’re still relying on the same old tired cliches.”

    “You,” Kushiel growled the word, straining even harder against the paralysis.

    “Me,” Athena confirmed. “Don’t worry, I’m sure Radueriel and Abaddon will show up whenever they finish licking their wounds. In the meantime, it may not be very chivalrous or knightly to kill a helpless opponent. But in this case…” That sword rose. “I think we can make an exception.”

    Damnit Athena, if you’d gone straight for the kill rather than talk J&E would have been a second late.

    —-
    So Nocen werecritters are up to something.

    “Father.”

    The voice came from further down the alley, toward what should have been a dead-end. Yet a girl stood there, a girl whose bubblegum-pink hair and pigtails were at odds with the serious expression on her face.

    To those at Crossroads, she was known as Harper Hayes. Yet to others, she had a different name.

    Accidental suicide by living WMD I see. Because if Guinevere is calling someone father … that’s Michael. And somehow I think six werecritters stand no more chance against the Archangel of War than they would against Chayyiel-in-Arthur.

    “Father,” Guinevere quietly and firmly spoke, ignoring the supposed threats. “Stop playing with the children, please. I need to speak with you.”

    “Okay,” the wolf-man cut in, sounding annoyed as he lifted the hand with their first ‘victim’s’ broken glasses still clutched in it. “I’m feeling a touch ignored and belittled here, and I–”

    Hahahahahahawow. Smart enough to realize he’s being ignored, NOT smart enough to realize that means he needs to GTFO before whoever these people are demonstrate why they’re not taking him vaguely seriously.

    Sooo Michael has actual angel wings. That turn into extend-o-swords and warship grade beam cannons.

    —–
    Guinevere’s a Joselyn fan. And rather likes Flick. Excellent.

    And she’s invested in saving Avalon. Goddamn Manakel has NO idea what he just brought down on himself. Short of taking her to Elohim there’s only security by obscurity if Guinevere and Michael deal in – even Chayyiel can’t stop Michael-in-Guinevere, just put up a real fight.

    And what did Gaia DO that has Guinevere this distrustful?

    So we got two scenes of adorbs, Apollo trolling the ever loving fuck out of Kushiel … and major plot developments.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. >Sariel, by unanimous family consensus, Apollo is your brother.

      If she’s not agreeing it’s not unanimous. That said – is the rest of the family aware that it’s not unanimous? Or anyone for that matter. Literally everyone else basically refers to them as brother and sister in all but blood. I wonder if Apollo is aware of that mindset change with his sister.

      > Guinevere’s a Joselyn fan. And rather likes Flick. Excellent.

      It’s always nice to have the family’s approval with the girlfriend. Not essential but nice.

      >And what did Gaia DO that has Guinevere this distrustful?

      According to discord there was an incident where an army killed a village Morgan was the protector of. She wanted to kill them, Arthur got her to agree not to, she went behind his back and killed them anyway…

      They might have been siblings but Arthur and Morgan had very different viewpoints.

      Like

    2. According to discord there was an incident where an army killed a village Morgan was the protector of. She wanted to kill them, Arthur got her to agree not to, she went behind his back and killed them anyway…

      To go into slightly more detail, that was only the start of outright hostilities between the two, and things escalated from there. Morgan undoubtedly had a lot of opportunities to do a lot worse than just slaughtering a surrendering army to the last man and earn Gwen’s lasting distrust. Especially if that was just the starting point.

      To quote Cerulean:

      Arthur saw the potential for good in people while Morgana thought the best way to find the good in the some people was by prodding around their insides with a hot poker.

      Also, part of the sticking point was that the army she wanted to wipe out had surrendered.

      Another thing to note is that Cerulean said that it’s not that Guinevere necessarily thinks that Gaia is being insincere or trying to manipulate the Atherbys or anything like that. It’s that she’s not convinced Gaia won’t lose control of her temper and revert to old habits.

      So she’ll probably be keeping a close eye on how Gaia deals with Avalon’s kidnapping.

      Like

    3. Morgan le Fey did heaps of spanner-throwing, back in the day: she probably has a “reasons why I hate Morgana” list as long as an official Olympic swimming pool. Worse, the bulk of those spanners would have aided the Seosten, whether they were meant to or not.

      Like

  7. >Squinting at him, Vanessa sniffed the words, “For Heretics, that kind of information actually could be useful, Tristan. What if you run into a magical trap that says something like, ‘I was the first Roman Emperor to use the cognomen Germanicus instead of Caesar, move these floor tiles into the correct spelling of my name to turn off that poison gas’? What would you do then?”
    “Well,” the boy replied dryly, “first, I’d congratulate Spielberg and Lucas for making their Indiana Jones movies a far more accurate depiction of ancient booby traps than I thought they were.” Pausing then, he stared off into the distance, smiling to himself while his mouth twitched.

    I chuckled about Tristan’s line here. And Vanessa’s hypothetical scenario is rather specific isn’t it? That, of course, means he or she will run into a similar kind of trap at some point in the story.

    >The man shook his head. “Miss Tabbris, I assure you… as someone who has witnessed the birth, growth, and loss of so many people whom I called my friends and family, these are the moments that are remembered. Not the training or the battles. These moments right here. I try to make those memories whenever possible. So please, do believe my sincerity when I say that I would very much love to teach you how to swim.”

    This? Makes a lot of sense to me. Trying to offset all the memories of conflict with memories of calm is more than worthwhile.

    >The anger and frustration in Kushiel’s voice was audible as she snarled, “I am going to make you cry, Lucifer. I will make you plead and beg for me to just kill you to end your pain. I will take away everything that you care about, make you watch your loved ones suffer and burn in your stead.”

    Oh I do believe Apollo struck some of Kushiel’s nerves. Good, that’s the least she deserves.

    >Instead, they saw the same man they had just been terrorizing. He stood on the opposite side of them from where he had been an instant earlier. And from his back extended the source of that unnatural light. Wings, beautiful, ethereal, and seemingly consisting of pure, blazing light. They unfurled, expanding to fill the width of the alley while glowing even brighter, to the point of being nearly too much to look at. The collection of weres were left staggering backward, hands raised to block some of the light.

    An ambushed ambush involving an angel of some kind? Oooh, this is not going to end well. For the weres, anyway.
    *reads*
    Oh. *Oh*. The archangel Michael of all people (and not too surprisingly a Seosten), who was also the founder of Rome.

    I see that Guinevere is about to take a more direct role in Flick’s development in assisting with Avalon’s resuce. This’ll be good to watch. I want Manakel to rue his final fuckup before he is Ended.

    >I would be a fool to discount her efforts in that regard. But I will not extend more trust to her than I must. Not yet.
    “It will take more to convince me that Morgan le Fay has truly redeemed herself.”

    *double takes*
    …Okay then! We already knew that she had a checkered/dark history, but having a role (be it indirect or otherwise) in the Breaking of Arthur’s power and his kingdom is quite the revelation to be told.

    Excellent update Cerulean.

    Liked by 1 person

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