At the very least it was a nice day out. Connor sat at the table not far from the apartment complex that the Spirit Guard were huddled up in. Being the son of a god of perception keeping track of what was going on around him was never hard. Bjorn was sitting across from him texting with his fiancee Avery assuring her that the moment she was needed he would get right to her. Some of the junior varsity Cheerleaders were far off to the east handing out fliers to a mixer that was happening at one of the dorms. Just a little beyond them was one of the newer members of SFEERS looking longingly at one of the cheerleaders. Mr. Ocean, a history teacher, was sitting beneath a tree looking over his latest paper he was trying to get published. But not a hair of monsters, or magic, or anything that dotted the landscape before. No since the visitation yesterday whatever was going on had gotten very quiet. He could hear a pair of footsteps coming. Skale and Ormarr were done talking to the mortals. “How did it go?” He asked looking up.
Skale smiled, there was always that cheerful relaxed personality but deep beneath it layed a sorrow only the most perceptive could see. “They are.. Worried but I think they do okay. We gave them the summary of events. I think they are very worried about danger but that is okay. Learning about gods can be… a lot.”
Ormarr nodded. Ever the lawyer and agent, he was always careful in showing his hand when Connor was around. They were… friendly but because of their dads there was an underlying tension between them, “I told my sisters to keep an eye out for them in town. I’m going to be utilizing some of my various persona’s to help the investigation and keep an eye on them. I also pulled a few favors and have a few people watching around town. Nothing divine is going to happen without us knowing about it.”
Bjorn finally looked up from his phone, he was over all positive but there was this overall sense of guilt about him. Knowing what he knew now it was probably because of what happened to his brother, now sister. “Well if you find something for Avery to do let me know. She is chomping at the bit to help.”
Ormarr nodded; no one but Connor could see the hesitation for the nanosecond it happened. Probably due to their history. “I might have something for her. I’ll get in touch with her.”
“Speaking of getting in touch with people,” Connor finally said, “Have you talked to Raelynn?”
Bjorn put his phone in his pocket, “She should be here any minute. She’s still learning Connor.”
“I know however, I requested that she had at least a decent control of her powers before I brought her along on some of this stuff.” It had only been hours since they spoke so he had his reservations about how much she could be in control. Thunderers had a nasty habit of letting their emotions direct them. Sometimes they would insist they could do something when they couldn’t because they felt the need to help, or take action. What was worse is that they also tended to cover for each other.
Skale chirped up happily, “Rae is very good and learning very quickly. She made storm on her first try! I am very sure she will be just fine.”
At that moment, on this clear blue skyed day there was a clap of thunder and a lightning bolt struck the ground by the table they were sitting around. Connor only shook his head. Bjorn groaned. Skale completely no-sold it. Ormarr just laughed. Up walked Raelynn, in full armor holding a Hammer and a Shield. “Alright boys, I’m here.”
Skale amended his statement, “I am reasonably sure she will be just fine.”
Rae looked between the four, “What? What’s wrong?”
Connor sighed, “This was not subtle in the least. And why are you wearing full armor with a hammer and a shield? People are going to think your Goddess form is insane. You’re lucky I have a perception filter up to keep anyone from noticing us in our god forms.”
There was a bit of hesitation, something was making her uncomfortable. “I was hoping that I could go like this. Make a case that I’m just testing out some new… cosplay?” As the words left her lips she winced in a way that said even she wasn’t buying it. It was adorable, her nose scrunched up and the little head shake that accompanied it.
Connor gave her a stern look, “Raelynn, I gave a reasonable request if you aren’t ready to..”
Rae was quick to cut him off, “NO! No, I’m ready. I NEED to help. it’s just…. “ She bounced; a bit frustrated but then hit her hammer on her shield. There was another flash. Where once was Raelynn was now Robynne. Well sort of. While the body, the face and hair was all the Robynne everyone had come to know on campus, the rest was, new. She had a sport bra that fit snugly over her chest and a clingy pair of work out shorts and trendy running shoes on. Her hair was usually in a pony tail but it was braided to cut down on the length of it. Where her hammer and shield once were where a pair of green pom-poms. “I can’t make my clothes look more modest than this. It’s work out clothes, A stylish dress; that I’m frankly weirded out by how comfortable I am in it, or cheerleader uniform.”
The other three obviously didn’t see the issue as they looked quizzically between themselves but Connor understood. Having gotten to know Robynne by reputation this was far more exposed then she liked, and probably the changes that made her comfortable with this type of clothing was doing more to weird her out then calm her down. He nodded, “I see. This will be fine. We’re just going into town to meet with some people who can help us investigate. Mortal clothed and body morphing tripped me up too when I started.”
“Really?” she said. It was plain she didn’t want that to sound as… grateful as it did. “Maybe you can give me some tips then.” She quickly said.
Skale hugged her, “I think you are wonderful looking. Mine sister is easily best on campus.”
Robynne relaxed a little, “Thanks but your totally biased.” she gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Alright let’s get to it. Daddy said I could only be gone for a little bit to attend to this. He wants me to be back and practice a bit more with my hammer.”
Ormarr adjusted his jacket and looked at Bjorn, “You and Skale going to be okay watching the mortals?”
Bjorn chuckled, “I think we’ll find a way to make do.”
Connor let a smile slip, “Well then we should get into our Civvies and be on our way.” A second later Ormarr had changed, his frame became more wiry as he was in a rock band T-shirt and ripped jeans his well kept hair longer and disheveled. Connor looked more like the Scarecrow that Robynne had met before. She instantly felt a bit more comfortable. “Alright let’s go.”
They headed out and started to walk across the campus. Connor could tell the experience of being a god in Midgard was a little overwhelming; Robynne’s eyes darted from one direction to the next then landing on the group of cheerleaders from earlier. “Just take some deep breaths.”
She jumped at his words, “It’s just… so much information. It’s like an overload. I think i could tell you where every cheerleader on campus is. It’s… jarring”
Ormarr chimed in, “It is at first but you get used to it. Just take it slowly, we’ll be off campus soon enough and they’ll all be out of your range.”
She nodded slowly but Connor found her staying close to him. Like she was using him for a stabilizing presence. He decided not to mention it as this was probably weird and awkward enough for her. They arrived at his GTO Judge, mint green. Robynne stopped looking a little taken aback. “How do you have such a cool car?”
“I inherited it from my grandfather and I keep it up,” he opened the door. Ormarr slipped into the back and Robynne got in after him. He rounded the car and started it up and began to drive. He could see the tension leaving her body as they moved away from campus. “Better?”
She nodded, “Much that was just… a lot. I can see why Dad doesn’t want me on campus a lot right now.”
Ormarr leaned forward, “You want to talk about it Cuz?”
Connor could see something finally dawn on Robynne, “Oh my god! I am literally the worst! I didn’t even stop to get your name. I’m sorry I’m not normally…”
Ormarr waved it off, “Been there. I’m your cousin Ormarr. I’m what’s generally referred to as a fixer. You need something I can get it or get you to the person that can. I’m people who knows people. And even better I’m your people.” He gave her a grin, and she laughed despite herself.
She turned a bit more to look at him, “Have you been… like this long?”
Ormarr just shrugged, “70 ish years. By our standards I’m still a kid, but I work hard, so I’ve earned some respect. I’m about Bjorns age. But trust me I remember… all this. We’ll get you through it.”
Robynne turned back around and seemed to be searching for words, “It’s just.. I invested so much time hating and loathing Cammy you know, for all the crap she’s done but now.. I knew where she was. I’m pretty sure I could have just snapped and tossed a lightning bolt at her but I’m not angry anymore just.. sad and disappointed and maybe a little bit of pity.”
Ormarr nodded, “That’s what happens. You think you know the world and then: BOOM! Congratz, you’re a divine being. And new thoughts and emotions come into your head, new urges which sometimes you can’t stop yourself from doing. It doesn’t feel like you anymore.”
Robynne became more animated, “Yes! Exactly that!”
Ormarr smirked and patted her on the head, “It gets better. Just weather the storm a bit.”
Robynne relaxed a bit more visibly, “So where are we going?”
Ormarr pointed ahead of them, “A pair I know that runs a detective agency. They’re pretty good. Watch here is pretty good at stealth and sneak, but investigation is more in their wheelhouse.”
Connor spoke up, “Be prepared though, they can be a little… odd.”
Robynne laughed, “Like they can get more odd then meeting my family.” Connor just kept his eyes a head and didn’t respond. Ormarr just flashed a smirk at him through the rear view mirror and sat back, a second later Robynne stopped, “Right?”
Connor spoke up as he parked, “Guess we’re about to see.” He turned the car off and hopped out and opened the door for Robynne. She didn’t seem conscious of the fact she was waiting for him to do so. Maybe a thing to bring up at a later date. Ormarr got out behind her as they looked at a three story office building fairly nondescript.
“I’m Octavious Black when I look like this.” Ormarr said Robynne blinks for a second before it looked like what he was telling her clicked.
“Oh right and you?” she turned and looked at Connor.
“N.K. will work. “ She rolled her eyes at him. Clearly she was feeling better now that she didn’t have her domain assaulting her supernial senses.
“Well lead the way boys.” she said playfully with a slight hint of impatience.
Octavious stepped forward. They walked into the building and into the long halls. It was hard to tell if these doors lead to apartments or offices; it looked like a decent mix of both as they walked to the end where an older looking elevator was. Octavious pushed the 3rd floor as they piled in and they were taken upwards. Until it came to a rough stop. They exited and went down the long hall to where a door was at the end of it. It had a pane of glass on it that read Donnelly Gravely P.I. Without a second thought Octavious opened the door and stepped in.
N.K. could see that Robynne was immediately taken back once entering the room. There was no color. Not in the room, not on them nor on the petite asian woman behind that rather old looking desk on the positively ancient looking typewriter. It was like they walked into a black and white movie. The woman looked up at them. “Can I help you?”
Robynne’s mouth was working trying to make sense of what just happened so Octavious spoke up. “We have an appointment with Detective Gravely, Ms. Quan.”
“Ah, Yes Mr. Black. You are a bit early but I’m sure he’s free.” Robynne’s face whipped between the two of them, clearly them acting so normal about this was freaking her out.
Ms. Quan picked up her phone, her 1920’s secretary’s outfit impeccable as she dialed three numbers and then said, “You’re 3 o’clock is here. Mmhmm. Sure thing.” She hung up and rose, “Detective Gravely will see you now.”
Octavious followed, “Excellent!”
Robynne walked behind him but turned to N.K. and whispered, “I’m not crazy.. This is all in black and white right? Like is that door a time warp?”
He looked down and whispered back, “I find it best to just go with it. Some of the divine have a particular set of odd to them.”
They were led into an office where a man with… some kind of light color hair from the shade of grey sat there with his coat neatly hung behind him. Wearing his shirt and tie and writing in a notebook. He looked up and smiled standing and reaching across the desk to take Octavious’s hand. “Ah, Mr. Black it’s good to see you. This must be Ms. Darling. A pleasure.” Robynne awkwardly took his hand. Connor found a wall to lean against as Robynne took a seat and Octavious and Gravely sat down. “Quao, would you mind putting a pot on for our clients?”
She smiled, “Sure thing.” She left the room and it was clear Robynne’s mind was spinning again. N.K. knew they were safe in here. Donnelly and Quao were friends even, but he couldn’t help just glance about so he could account the entry points for the just in case.
Detective Gravely leaned forward, “So, it seems we have a caper on our hands. Some dastardly desperado depoiled Ms. Darling’s divinity.”
Octavious sat back, “Indeed, Sif is seething and suspects some seriously sinister strategies.”
The detective tapped his chin, “I see. Well. Gratefully, gumshoe Gravely goes where Gods and Goddesses gladly give green to get him to galavant gnosticly to get the goods they greed for.”
N.K. just rolled his eyes at the show that was clearly meant to haze poor Robynne. She was somewhere between annoyed and lost. Octavious squinted and made a contemplative sound, “Eeeeeeh, that last one was a stretch.”
Detective Gravely leaned on the desk, “You think? I thought it was creative.”
Quao returned, “Oh heaven sake Don. Enough. Turn the color back on and stop perturbing the poor girl.” She put out glasses in front of each of them as the detective laughed and with a snap the color had returned to the room.
Quao was not very tall at all. But the now vibrant hues of her green skirt and cream colored blouse set off the jade color of her eyes. Her dark hair framed her youthful face. “Please ignore these idiots. They play this game with all the new clients.”
Gravely who she could now see had red, neatly slicked back hair scooped her up effortlessly in his arms, “You adore playing noir my love. Don’t act like you don’t.”
She playfully batted at him, “Yes, I do but this is a serious matter and I’m sure Ms. Darling and her parents would like you so show this matter the seriousness and gravity it deserves.”
He stopped and looked at Robynne who looked like she wanted to yell and was barely holding on to her now, very short temper. “Of course Ms. Darling. My apologies. I just like to cut the tension a bit.” He put Quao down and smoothed out his shirt before he sat down.
Robynne took a few long breaths and then said calmly, “I’m new to all this so, I’m sure this will be funny later. I need to know what’s happening so I can protect my friends.”
“Of course. We’ll start at the beginning. Where did you come into the story of these magical girls.” He flipped open a notebook and began to write.
Robynne went over it all; that she knew. The pens, Kunapipi, the monsters, and her transformation, even the Standridge Formation.
Connor did note during all this Gravely was asking lots of questions specifically about the transformation she experienced, when becoming Serenity for the first time and how it affected her both emotionally, mentally and notably academically. As he observed her, he saw a very sharp contrast from who he knew her to be. The anger and sadness that rang in her usually measured voice. The white knuckles from her clenched fists. The most surprising was the tears that she seemed unable to stop when discussing the day of the transformation. It was like a bottle of soda that had been shaken and then opened. She dotted her tears from her eyes with a handkerchief as she finished. The room was quiet for a few long minutes as Gravely wrote notes. Octavius has been close by with a hand on her shoulder the entire time. She looked up and finally said, “Oh wow… I hadn’t realized how much of that I had just internalized. I’m sorry I’m not usually so…”
Detective Gravely, for all his quirks, smiled across the desk at her and spoke softly, “You have no need to explain yourself Ms. Darling. We have all had to deal with the divine adjustment. As for this, there is a lot here. But rest assured Ms. Quan and I will be on the case. We will find out what is going on and we will see what we can do to see you get justice and your friends get safety.”
Octavius spoke, “I’m going to be doing some snooping myself so if I find anything I’ll loop you in.”
Gravely nodded, “Appreciated my friend. There is the one question of payment….”
He could see at first Robynn’s heart sink not having thought of compensation but Octavious pulled a small pouch from his pocket and placed it on the desk in front of Gravely. Gravely picked it up and opened it enough to glance inside. Whatever was in there gave off a faint green glow before he closed it. Octavious again spoke, “There’s some extra in there. The All father would appreciate expediency but most of all discretion.”
Gravely placed the pouch in his desk, “Of course. We will be in touch.” he shook Ormarr and Robynne’s hands before showing the three out.
It was quiet walking back. Connor could see that Robynne was processing all these emotions and how freely they seemed to flow out of her. Once they got to the car Ormarr turned to them, “Hey, I’m going to track down some leads myself. I’ll talk to you both later. It was nice meeting you cuz.”
“You too.” Robynne said and then stepped forward and gave him a hug. Ormarr grinned and then headed off down an alley. There was a long awkward moment Robynne stood there looking at Connor and him back at her. She hid it very well but she was drowning in all of this. Being suddenly thrust into the larger and often much, much weirder world can even test the most stalwart of psyches.
“My Dad visited me the night before boot camp and told me who I really was.” He was actually surprised that he had said that out loud. From the look on Robynne’s face she was obviously shocked that he would volunteer that information as well. He grimaced because he didn’t really talk about it a whole lot. “My Grandfather had passed a few months before so it was a lot to absorb. There was a lot of anger, about if he was a god why didn’t he save my mom when she was sick? About why did he abandon us? It did not help that I was going through what you are during bootcamp. I thought if I had someone when it happened and everything that happened after, it would have been nice. Someone that would listen, and tell me that being thrown off, that I could read a paper 2 miles off as clearly as if it was in my hand was perfectly okay and normal. So uh… I guess if you want to talk, unload, or really, if you need anything, I get it. You can talk to me.”
It felt awkward to say. The look of sheer shock and surprise on her face didn’t make it any better. He started to wonder if it was a good idea to say anything at all when suddenly she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. He was a bit surprised but after a moment put his arms loosely around her. He could feel her trying to hold back more tears and taking slow, calming breaths. “This is weird.” She finally said.
“Yeah.” Connor said.
She let him go and stepped back looking up at him, “Thank you N.K. Really.”
He just nodded and offered her a weak smile. With another breath she looked around, “Is there a place to eat around here? After all this crying, I am famished!”
Connor chuckled, “There’s an El Awesomo’s down the street, if you don’t mind cheap mexican fast food.”
Robynne groaned, “Normally I do mind but I’m just so hungry I’ll eat anything. Join me Soldier boy?”
“I would be delighted to.” The awkward tension left his body. He wasn’t sure if it was knowing more about her now, or if just her emerging nature as a Thunderer put him at ease. Thor’s kind had that effect on people. Either way it was nice to have someone who could relate to him around. They walked down the street and she started to just talk about the latest Aspect Realms stuff that he had missed out on his hiatus like whatever animosity between them had long been buried. It was a very nice feeling.