Break the Code 11/14/10

Been a busy few days. I picked up something new from Thistle. She’s able to send messages telepathically, and somehow, some of it rubbed off on me. She says that she imagines telephone lines, but I used more familiar imagery: chains. When I mentioned it to Jocasta, she freaked out. I need to get with her later and try and figure out why she reacted in the way that she did. I was using the lens of my Magic to help me visualize the interconnections between people, but the imagery is just a crutch, a tool to help overcome the plateau effect and crawl onto the next level. I think I’m starting to get good at this. With practice, I might even be able to fool someone into thinking that one of my broadcasts is their own inner monologue…but that might be taking it too far. Something like that is divisive in its very nature, the fact that it exists is enough to start sowing doubt in the group. The last thing we need is to fly apart at the seams right before we try and save the world.

Speaking of saving the world…I think I was too negative last time. I have to remember that I’m not alone. It’s not just me against Kane, it’s all of us. Teamwork is going to pull us through this fight, not one person throwing his life away for the good of the world. That makes for a neat hero story but I’d rather be the hero who lives to get the girl. Canard gave me the low-down that he had on Kane and his buds, it was really short. Apparently he hangs out with another Aztlani, a Tuatha de Dannan, a Greek, and a Scion of Loki. Intel is still spotty, but we’re all going to get together and pool data to help plan tomorrow. This is what I’m talking about, teamwork. Sitting in a hammock disassembling and reassembling my M16 isn’t going to accomplish much. I do definitely know that it’s clean, though. I should give the MP5 a once-over, too, even if I don’t necessarily plan to use it. A back-up weapon never hurts, and neither does spare 9×19 ammo.

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Break the Code 11/12/10

Tom fiddles with his Raspberry, pulling up his mp3 storage and sliding his single earbud into his left ear. He clicks through the simple media presenter, finding the song he was looking for and humming it softly along with the music in his ear as he types.

We’re on the ship now, headed for Antarctica to meet our current destiny. It sounds preposterous, really. I have to stop a man that I’ve never met, but Canard and Amaranth have, from melting an entire polar ice cap and raising a continent that was supposed to be a myth. Sometimes I honestly wonder if everyone else has an idea of the scale that this encounter holds. We fucked up the Jotunhammer and millions of lives were lost. Millions more in this Wolf Age, this Sword Age…and if we fail here, everyone on Earth is going to die when the seas rise and flood the land. That much heated water will probably erode away the northern ice cap too, cover the entire planet in water. The sudden spike in heat in the oceans will kill the plantlife, and the fish along with them. The fate of the entire world is in the hands of seven people, seven demigods. The very word seems insufficient. Canard and his eight copies could probably give fighting off a small army a good go, at least before Amaranth drives them all insane or the Tamases put enough arrows out to make human pincushions of an entire battalion. So I did what I could. I made a phone call. I can’t lift mountains like Morrie, or shrug off a Magnum round like Jocasta. So I did what I could.

If you are near to the dark, I will tell you ’bout the sun

You are here, no escape, from my visions of The World.

You will cry, all alone,

But it does not mean a thing to me…

From everything I’ve heard about Mr. Taoka, he’s a formidable opponent and a bad dude. I need to learn more. Maybe I can interrogate Amaranth or Canard…Amaranth seems like a better source since they’re from the same pantheon. I still need to pass on everything I can to Jocasta while I’m here. She wants to learn Magic, and I’m eager to teach. I don’t know anything really flashy, the best I can do in a combat situation is nudge and prod and hope to throw a foe off-balance for a minute or two. Maybe it’ll be enough. Nevertheless, it’s knowledge that I need to pass on while I have the chance. I’ve known for a long time that I’m the most vulnerable out of all of us. I don’t know a thing about Thistle in combat, but I’ve got two decent tricks. When those fail, I’m out of luck. I know I’m going to do everything I can to stay in one piece, but if I’m going to end up having my heart weighed against Ma’at’s feather, I’m not going to just go gentle into that good night. I’ll fight with my dying breath to make sure that Kane Taoka is right next to me on the road to the Underworld. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but I’m prepared for that eventuality. Thoth didn’t sire a fool. I’ll make you proud, Dad. It’s what I came to do.

Knowing the song I will sing

When the Darkness comes to sleep,

Come to me, I will tell

Of the secret of the Sun.

It’s in you, not in me,

But it does not mean a thing to you.

(Note: I don’t own those lyrics and I don’t claim to own them. Please don’t sue me.)

Break the Code 10/23/10

Now that my Raspberry has finally had a chance to charge, it should be good for a couple more days. I’ll make sure to take the charger with me this time. I need some sort of bag or satchel for all this junk. Before we left Circe’s island, she told us that Willow would be staying behind to guard it, and we would be taking her apprentice, Thistle Odinsdottir, with us. She seems to be the quiet type, sheltered…I’m not entirely sure what to make of her. The Hands of Tyr offered to go to Loki in our stead, and I hesitate to send them into the lion’s den, but I can’t stop them either. Tyrone, I hope you’re safe.

We boarded a skiff and cast off from the island. Of course, as soon as we were gone, the mists rolled in and hid it once more. No surprise there. After a short sail we came to Piraeus and looked around to arrange transport. Unfortunately, Greek is one of the languages that I do not speak, so Chrysander had to do the talking. As we were walking to the taverna where we were going to meet the captain, I saw a fender bender turn into an all-out fistfight. I wanted to help, stop it somehow, but it was hopeless. Staying and breaking that fight up would have only sparked even more. It sounds like the prophesied Wolf Age is upon us, which means we need to stop this more than ever. The captain allowed us passage out of nothing more than curiosity, which isn’t as surprising as it should have been. It’s hard to deny Fate’s hand in things when I can give her a nudge and push her toward screwing up someone’s day.

I went to find a tailor’s shop with Jocasta and bought a new wool three-piece suit. There was one close to my size that just needed a few quick alterations. The owner didn’t look too surprised when I showed my concealed carry papers, I guess he gets cops in the shop every so often. Jocasta was trying on a suit and she fumed when I said that it looked nice, so I bought it for her. I had to quickly translate the words to Greek since she didn’t want to translate for me, but I hope she likes it even if she won’t admit to it.

I showered, changed clothes, and put the old suit in the laundry before I went down to speak with Canard briefly. We talked about combat tactics, about Thistle, and about the nature of fear. I’m very conflicted about him right now. I know I can trust him, but he also seems to be losing a little of his emotionless veneer, bit by bit. Droplets of…disdain? keep flitting through. I talked to him about an idea I’d been having…I can gently nudge the chains of Fate to disrupt an opponent, but I started to wonder what would happen if I pushed them harder…I would like to research it, but it would be a giant bother to Jocasta to translate all the books from Greek and there’s not enough time in the day anyway. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do so soon. I should probably learn to speak modern Greek while I’m at it. If nothing else, so I can understand her vibrant, wonderful swearing. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get to know Thistle a little better too, right now she’s a big ol’ ? and that doesn’t really work for me.

Break the Code 10/11/10

A strange fog came in today on the cruise liner. Willow and Morrie started evacuating the people from the upper decks, I went out to help and the fog cleared. We found ourselves not in the Atlantic, but in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere near Greece! I went and spoke with the captain about exploring the only island in view, and he gave us a lifeboat to row over there. If nothing else, between all the muscle power in our retinue, we could row to Athens and catch a flight out, the dust in the sky is a lot thinner here. I had to return the vest I borrowed from Auric (I left him a note thanking him for letting me use his wardrobe but I want to thank him in person too) and we rowed out to the island. Jocasta had a funny feeling as soon as we got there, I’m concerned about her, to be totally honest. I know she wants to be the brick wall, the untouchable foe, but you can harm a person in a lot of ways without ever laying hands on them. I still want to keep her safe, despite her telling me that worrying about her is silly.

We followed a wolf pack that Canard spoke with (yeah, he can speak Canine apparently) and found a melee brewing right on the island! Some Norse giants and a Greek hydra were squaring off with another band. Very strange that Norse giants, and fire giants on top of that, would pair with a Greek hydra…Jo and I killed one after I fired a tracer for the eight Canards to pounce on and the rest retreated. Morrie had gone all Cu Cuchulain to beat on the hydra and Chrysander talked her down. I’ll have to learn to do that someday soon in case he somehow fails. (Not that I would expect it to fail on Morrie. She’s been making cow-eyes at him since the casino.)

The other group, the Hands of Tyr, made camp and offered us a place to stay. I got myself a sleeping bag and some water and I went to check on Jo. Chrysander was doing most of the talking and he assured me that there are some things that just can’t be fixed…and to tell the honest truth, I don’t buy it. Even if something can’t be fixed, isn’t it worth trying? My first attempts at making a pocketwatch weren’t failures, they just turned out like…scarabs…with watch-faces underneath their wings. Yeah, it was a lousy idea, but I felt compelled to make three of them. Luckily, the fourth pocketwatch turned out like a real watch! Now I’m settling in to sleep, I’m a little hungry but I don’t trust the food here. Circe worked her magic through foodstuffs and if that extends to food brought onto the island, eating could be serious trouble. I only took the water because the human body NEEDS water or it starts to break down from not being able to flush waste from its fluids.

P.S. – Dad, one of these days, you’ll have to teach me more about this Fate magic floating around in my head. You’re a god of magic and an arbiter, and I feel like both of those have flowed down to me, but I’m having a hard time grasping actual spells. These sun bullets aren’t going to be the be-all end-all forever.

Break the Code 10/4/10

Cruise’s coming to an end. I’ve spent a lot of time with Jo, and the rest studying, finding scrap and buying whatever bits of metal and cordless tools I can to work on some scarabs. I made a pocketwatch, too, with a brass body and a little knob, and the face done out in Greek numbers. I gave it to Jo, of course. She seemed like she liked it, even if she didn’t come out and say so.

To be totally honest, I’m worried about her. She says she’s a monster, and she’s got unearthly strength and speed and fortitude, but there’s a human heart in there too, and the way she looks when she’s tossing and turning…she fell asleep on a bench and I watched her, held her hand when she looked particularly restless, and she gave me the strangest look, like she had expected me to fade away or leave while she slept. Like I would. I’m not going to abandon her. I don’t work like that.

Earlier I happened to spot Canard working in the gym. Apparently he learned how to copy himself and the copies were killing each other to find ways to make himself…more resilient? I guess. It was a little goofy, to tell you the truth, and a bit comical. I eventually just had to talk into the center of the mob to avoid speaking to someone with six bullets rattling in his skull or a decapitated head. Compared to that, my strange ability to fire a gun without ammunition seems kind of tame. Nevermind that the bullets were blindingly bright and red hot.

Coming up on Loki soon in Reykjavik. He wants the bridge to Valhalla re-opened (I am thankful that I spent a month playing through Valkyrie Profile with all of this going on, even though I still need to research more into Ragnarok lore) and apparently we’re the best suited to the job. As usual, something will get figured out. I haven’t really thought much about the prophecy…I’m working it over in my head, but this isn’t a grand puzzle that I can solve. Fate has a tendency to snap at people who try to control it. (I’m looking at you, Oedipus.) The best I can do is keep my eyes and ears open and try and fit pieces to events before it’s too late.

Dad came to me in a dream. With the iGjallars down, apparently that’s all he can manage. (I also say apparently a lot. My Raspberry is predicting it and filling it in. Fascinating.) He told me that even with the Overworld blocked, I can still invoke him in a few ways, with a hand pressed to a surface. He calls it a Khabit Trap, seizing a shadow in place. It looked useful. I’ll have to remember it.

P.S. Dad, if you can read this, consider a shield for my next Visitation. Full body armor would just be weird and I’m awful with a sword. (You’d know about my B- in Fencing junior year at Yale.)

Break the Code 9/27/10

Where to start, where to start…I finally told Jocasta how I felt about her, and I kissed her too. It felt…right, somehow, like I’d been looking at a puzzle upside-down and finally turned it over to see the train instead of a mismatched hunk of metal. We went to the library the next day to do some research, into pantheons and legends and myths…I need to immerse myself in this world that I’ve been drawn into before I get sucked under a riptide and drowned with my own ignorance. We ended up focusing on the first part of the prophecy, about the thief’s child, and we drew up a short list of gods that could be considered thieves to help us understand parts of it. It could even be a human thief, or something else entirely. Prophecies are always vague, and they only really click after the events that they have prophesied, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try.

After the research, Jo took me aside and explained to me that any attempts to be heroic and romantic and take a beating for her would probably be better left to just hitting her. Her reflexes and resilience are amazing. I know why she said what she did, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t do everything I can to keep her from being hurt. Just because I’m not supernaturally durable or strong doesn’t mean that I can’t help. After we got lunch, she ran off and I followed after her. I used my power to phase through objects for the first time, it felt like pushing through a vat of gelatin. I tried the door, but I was repelled, so I went through a wall after making sure no one was around. It was strange, but also liberating at the same time. Of course, I’ll only use it when absolutely necessary. Just because I can go nearly anywhere doesn’t mean that I should. I walked in on the twins, and they looked like they were getting ready to work out. Jocasta got right up in my face and made it perfectly clear that I was not to interfere, and that this was private. Of course, I agreed, and Chrysander had me set up the music. He seemed like he was needling her as they fought, trying to get a reaction out of her…and she reacted. It was brutal, savage, fury unrestrained. I thought she was going to beat him to death, and I couldn’t help but cry out. She stopped after several swings, but Chrys was fine. I went back to my room with a few books and read, pondered, sorted things out.

The thing that was really flooring me was the look in her eyes. There was so much fire, so much anger…it was like she put on a facade to deal with everyone else, and her real self was that blazing rage. But I thought about it, and you know what? That’s not such a bad thing. Yes, she beat the living daylights out of Chrysander, but she knew that he could take it, and he walked away, and still smiled at me. If she can unleash that at the titanspawn, well…they never have a chance, now do they? I’m not going to recoil from this. I still love her, and that doesn’t change because she showed me more of her inner self. Period.

I was doing some research when I heard Morrie shouting, and Willow came out of her room. The two of them threw down in the gym, Morrie trying to shake the doldrums away from Freya’s daughter. I can understand why Willow was so bothered, but she has to be able to look ahead at the future. People died when the Jotunhammer landed, and I still beat myself up over not figuring it out sooner, but we have to act or more people will die from the Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok. If we don’t do something, the world will end. What kind of a person curls up and hides when the end of the world is staring them straight in the face? I don’t care if I have to find a way to rewrite Fate entirely, I’m going to find a way to help those people. The innocent should not suffer under the yoke of the guilty. I won’t let the titans destroy this world.

ADDENDUM: I’ve found something very interesting. Hermes was one of the thief gods that we were considering days ago…but the Greeks also had a concept of “Hermes Trismegistus”, which was saying that Hermes and Thoth were one and the same. Could I be “the thief’s child” by extension? Thoth is a god of knowledge and magic, and a mediator, he doesn’t steal…but Hermes does, and if they ARE unified…then maybe I -can- do something.

Break the Code 9/13/10

We got together to do some prophesying since we were all out of ideas on how to proceed. I wasn’t especially pleased with the decision; I don’t think that mucking about with fate is a really good idea, nor is locking ourselves into one conclusion. Nevertheless, all four of our sybils got to work and they managed to produce two MASSIVE prophecies:

“The thief’s child
will be given a choice.
Their word has the power to tip the scales of Ragnarok
for good or ill.

The great winter is one of souls as much as seasons.
A wolf age, a sword age.
Thus, the greatest threat to man may be himself.

In the greatest darkness
might be found the hope of all three worlds.
To find the northward road, travel south.

The Morning star stands on Heaven’s door.
Darkness cast, those within must find their own path.
Apotheosis lies in wait,
In the seat of their origin.
But to fly, one must fall.
But to ascend, one must descend.
But to live forever, one must perish.
Plotters find themselves Puppets.
Planners find themselves Slaves.
The Petulant Child of the Sun will die,
victim to their own loyalties.
Victim of a parent they once desired.”

I sat down to think them through but Amaranth came up with a coherent solution first, predicated on their previous encounters with a former scion of Amaterasu named Kane Taoka, and one of his associates who was a scion of Loki. I keep examining the text to come up with alternate possibilities but nothing’s clicked so far. I need to keep working at it, it’s an iterative process. Just looking at puzzles and shattering them is boring, ciphers were boring for a long time too.

I spoke to Canard while I was working on it, the conversation was…enlightening, to say the least. I can’t claim to really understand what goes on behind those mirrored lenses but I don’t think he’s quite as emotionless as he seems. He probably just doesn’t give them much weight since he seems to find them as irrelevant distractions.

I went and put my gun away before I hacked away at the prophecies some more…and followed Canard’s advice and went to find Jocasta. I found her in a sauna, the water nearly boiling. One thing led to another and I found myself diving into the pool with her.

He wipes a drop of water off of the Raspberry with a towel before continuing, typing one-handed while the other dries the lingering moisture from his hair.

By all rights, I should have blisters from how hot that water was. My skin still doesn’t feel entirely PLEASANT, and I’m scalded pretty much from head to toe, but it seems like Fate gave me a pass for once. I think, little by little, she might be warming up to me. (Yes, I can appreciate that pun even to myself.) I came really close to kissing her once in there…but it didn’t feel right, holding her in my arms and she was as stiff as a statue. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Trying to sweep her off of her feet is only going to end with me on my back and an arrow in my throat. Patience…

We’re heading to Reykjavik in the morning to meet Loki. It’s almost certainly a trap but maybe we can learn something from the encounter. One can only hope.