|Scene Title||Road Trip, Part 3|
|Synopsis||The thrilling conclusion to Jason's road trip in Miami.|
After their last encounter, the group manages to keep a fairly low profile for the rest of the trip. Sybass plots a course that avoids major hazards, while Phaeton easily takes care of the minor nuisances that present themselves. Other than occasional muffled thwump or crunch of fragile titanspawn being spread into pavement jelly, the only other sound is the relaxing classical music that Phaeton insists on playing.
And of course, Sybass is constantly narrating the horrible dangers that they are barely avoiding. "Give elder giants a mile east. Stymphalian bird flock coming up on the rear, but they'll get caught in the cloud bank I steered us under and lose the trail for a while. Another xuihcoatl approaching our location, but follow the present course and it'll just miss us."
With the helpful aid of such a kickass car and kickass fish Jason is free to kick back and relax throughout the trip. Mostly. In a still is kind of sooty from fires sort of way that is somehow made worse by his continual efforts to put on some good rock and roll being countered by the sentient automobile. Sigh. Dozing off for a time he finally awakens again to stretch uncomfortably, muscles aching from too long in the car, "How close are we to the address?"
Phaeton answers, "Approximately ten point nine eight four miles at the time of asking."
"Be careful," Sybass warns.
Phaeton simply huffs, slighted by the implication that he isn't always careful.
"That close?" Jason says in some surprise as he looks around him, "No wonder it's so bloody hot then and the insects buzzing around outside look the size of basketballs. Obviously it had to be southern Florida." He sits more properly to start looking around at the neighborhood.
"You slept quite a while," Phaeton answers. "We didn't want to wake you up."
Sybass rolls his one visible eye. "That and I diverted us through a road that's actually a lot shorter than it would look if it appeared on a map. We skipped Georgia entirely. But please let me reiterate: be careful. I can sense that the last leg of this drive is going to be the most dangerous."
"That is saying something considering the sheer epic levels of monsterdom that we encountered on the way here" Jason says, Sybass' warning taken with due grace as the man actually goes ahead and gets a pistol in hand for comforts sake. "Do you know anything about this priest we are supposed to deliver the box too?"
"Negative," Sybass says. "The name is unfamiliar, and I can't see him at all. No ripples, no destiny, nothing. Just a total blank." The fish sounds worried at that. "That's … never happened before. Phaeton, take a left, a right, then circle the block twice before you continue. Don't stop."
"Probably a useful habit to have, being invisible" Jason says thoughtfully, "At least if you are going to hold a box a hell of a lot of stuff are prepared to kill to get their hands on. Recent events are making me wish I could do the same." He's keeping a careful watch on things but leaving it up to Phaeton to do the driving as they draw ever closer to the destination.
Outside of the car, things start to look a little strange as Phaeton navigates the ordered route to the assigned destination. The streets begin to empty until there is not a single soul in sight. No other vehicles on the street, no pedestrians, not even any birds sitting on the power lines. It's as if an entire suburban neighborhood just became a ghost town. If one were to look closer, there are odder things visible.
Like the street signs written in some sort of undecipherable gibberish that even Jason, with his knack for languages, can't make sense of. Buildings seem to be built at odd angles, looming and strangely hunched over the street. Trying to follow the lines leaves one with a cross-eyed headache. And almost abruptly, the area goes dark as huge, ponderous clouds roll over the sky. But still, silence. No wind. No rain. No thunder. Just a dark, red-tinted sky and a landscape gradually breaking down into the alien geometries so beloved by certain New England writers of horror fiction.
"Great.. just great" Jason says as he closer to the window to fully take in the view outside, finally reaching up to massage at his head. "Family does like to make things rather complicated, this place is starting to look as far from Miami as you can get. You really think he could have handled the delivery himself."
"Why risk himself when he can assign it to a more expendable, less critical pawn in the war?" Sybass inquires. "Also, you will find, Jason, that in many ways, the Gods are more limited than even mortals in what they may or may not do. Divinity, after all, is calcification. Gods do not, except under certain extremely rare circumstances, reinvent themselves without serious outside influence."
"Nearing destination," Phaeton intones. "We will reach the indicated address in approximately 90 seconds. Please keep hands and feet inside the vehicle until we come to a complete stop."
"He's a messenger god!" Jason grumbles, "Delivering things is what he is all about. He is not a god of subcontracting, a god of delegation. At least I don't think so, I'm really not too specialized in that whole area." Taking Phaeton at his word he does not leap madly out of the vehicle in motion. This time around.
"A messenger god, yes, but still a god," Sybass counters. "And greatly weakened from his true power while on earth. Vulnerable. And think, what is a greater target than the box you carry? A god carrying it. If he'd brought it himself, he'd have likely brought down every titanspawn on this side of the world directly to his location. You can't hide that much power, not from the right kind of sight."
Phaeton, meanwhile, pulls over and stops in front of a large apartment building, done in a faux-adobe Southerwestern style. "I'm still not reading any humans, or living creatures, in the immediate vicinity except for us. Maybe he stood us up?"
"Or something happened to him," Sybass mutters.
"Or the fellow really is invisible in a bunch of ways" Jason says as he opens up the door and steps out of the car. "Keep an ear out in case I call for you guys, I'm going to have to go inside and look for him first hand. If you see anything I really need to know about, shout out yourselves. I'm not sure our cellphones are working here in wacky land." And with that he is making his way into the apartment building, super boosted senses playing over the surroundings as he heads for the apartment number given by Hermes.
The first thing that Jason notices as he enters the building is that it's dark. None of the light switches will work, nor will any electrical appliance he may try. It poses no serious limitation to his enhanced vision, but it does add directly to the creepy factor. The building appears to be completely empty, with nary a single sound other than those originating from Jason himself.
Right. All that darkness really is creepy. Very creepy. Jason is not all that comfortable with the dark either! He's all fire elemental darn it, fire is rather bright. Efforts to hit the lights failing he simply makes his way along uses his bolstered senses to see what he can. When he finally comes to the appropriate apartment he simply raps three times. Waiting to see if there is an answer.
There is no answer. The three knocks echo through the dark, empty hallway, but no reply appears.
Jason does go rather subtle about things next then. Relatively speaking, drawing his guns and making his way over to the next apartment over. It is a relatively simple thing to unbarred entry past that front door, and then step the same way through an apartment wall into the other unit. The spylike Scion attempting to circumvent any ambush, if such exists.
Jason's passage is unimpeded. He steps through the door into the next apartment over, which is empty and dark. The blinds are open, and faint, reddish light illuminates the basic shape of the room. When he steps through the wall into the target's apartment, he finds a similiar scene, except that the entire place is covered in unreadable, gibberish books and drawings of the box he holds.
Jason keeps a gun out, although a free hand does start to turn over books and drawings. Perhaps hoping for some indication of where the inhabitant has gone. "Hello?" he calls out into the air of the place, "Delivery. I know I'm not the usual carrier but he said you'd be expecting me."
Jason begins a room by room search. Doing all FBI drama style. Gun at the ready and thoroughly checking the place over.
Jason finds nothing as he progresses from room to room, just more of the same half-darkness, gibberish writing, and utter silence.
The silence is broken by a muffled sound, like something heavy hitting the ceiling.
"J-n!" The muffled voice calls out to him from Phaeton's link. "Th-oof!"
Great. Someone has knocked out his car. That sort of thing never ends well. Jason slips out of the apartment, not rushing directly for the front door but rather heading towards the nearest window that will give him a good observation point of where he left the car outside all the while speaking into the link. "Come on. Talk to me. Phaeton? Sybass? What's going on?"
As Jason looks out the window, he sees that the street is entirely empty. There is no sign of Phaeton or Sybass, but his link suddenly firms up. "Jason, the roof! He's on the roof! Hurry!"
Odd. Very odd. Jason rushes though, more leaping than walking up the flights of stairs in a virtual blur of motion as he makes his way roofwards. Rushing for all he's worth and not even pausing for the door at the end, again as before simply rushing through via unbarred entry. Hopefully there is no ambush here, because damn, if so that boy is in a hurry to get to it.
There is no ambush waiting for Jason, but the spectacle that greets him is almost as bad. A huge, dark form towers above the building, standing on the street with its head wreathed in clouds. At first glance, the GIANT appears to be swinging a skyscraper-sized club at the priest, but on closer inspection is frozen.
The only other figure, the 'priest', is wearing khaki shorts, sandals, and a tie-die shirt. His long, unwashed brown hair blows in the sudden breeze. He is staring at the sky through red-tinted Lennon glasses. "Like, are you Jason, man?" he shouts without turning around.
Jason lets his gaze go up and up and up for awhile. Holy Crap. The Priest words however draw his attention and guns still at the ready he wanders out from the door a bit more, "That would be me. Somewhat reassured that you know my name, not reassured in the least by the massive giant who is trying to make you a little priestly smear. I've got a delivery for you, but you were probably expecting that."
"Well, like bring it here, bro!" The priest calls back. "I'm a little busy, so you're going to get a crash course in working that thing." His voice sounds tense, strained, and drops of sweat trickle down his face into his untrimmed beard.
Jason tucks his guns away so he can actually extract the box from inside his jacket, moving forward so that he can stand beside the priest. "I can see that you are a little occupied. Yes. I'll save the plethora of stupid questions for when things aren't going to hell in a hurry. What do I need to do?"
"Tap the top twelve times. Do you speak ancient Greek? Either way, chant the standard invocation of Zeus and call upon the power of Eternal Olympus. Twist the panel on the bottom until you hear chimes. When they start to sound like words, turn the side panels. When it says Pandora, open the lid." The priest says. His upraised arms shake a bit and the huge club swings a little closer before he reaffirms his resolve and halts the thing.
"I can manage" Jason responds, "There was this nymph recently speaking a pretty old dialect.." He follows the instructions as indicated, tapping the top with a fingertip exactly tweive times before using his mad Dodekatheon skills invoking Zeus and calling upon the power of Olympus. The rest is complicated! Damn well locked boxes. Still he continues to follow along, now silent as he focuses upon the box.
The priest is obviously beginning to tire. The club inches forward at a glacial pace, but one noticable for such a huge object, and picking up speed. The box stays stubbornly silent as Jason turns the panels, but after a long, agonizing minute, he hears faint chimes. As he follows the directions, the chimes change. New notes appear, and the tune alters itself with each turn of the panels. It's an odd, fascinating tune, but soon he hears a faint, but distinct female voice say, "Pandora."
You really aren't supposed to open the lid! It's Pandora's box after all, there are policies and things. Still none of them that Jason has ever seen take the current situation into account and so open the box is exactly what he does. Shifting one hand to the lid and after that female voice speaks flipping the lid open.
After Jason opens the box, the priest collapses in a heap on the gravelly rooftop. The club resumes its unstoppable momentum, but something strange begins to happen. The club, and the huge GIANT holding it, begins to blur. Almost like a real-time Photoshop demonstration, the dimensions warp and it begins to fade. Over the course of several seconds, it steadily shrinks into a blurry sphere of light and mass that is promptly sucked into the open box with a small 'pop'.
As the priest begins to stir, the screech of wheels can be heard in the street below, and a loud crunch echoes.
And the skys lighten, the clouds roll back, and the buildings nearby suddenly look a lot more like Miami and less like R'yleh.
Jason snaps the lid shut on the box, after that GIANT appears to be sucked into the thing of course. Wouldn't want it getting out after all. He inches towards the edge of the roof to look over, checking up on Phaeton after that screeching of wheels and the sound of crunching. To the priest he calls over, "Are you going to need a life to the hospital or anything? That seemed to take a good bit out of you."
"I'll be fine, bro," the priest answers woozily, sitting up and blinking. He shakes his head. "So you didn't open it before you got here. Good. When you open the box to put something in, it trades places with whatever's already in there. I'd hate to have traded this thing for something almost as bad, like a dragon."
Down below, Phaeton is sitting comfortably in the street. There is a suspicious smear beneath one wheel, and some kind of blood or slime is leaking across the pavement.
Jason peers down at his car, just how many Titanspawn does Phaeton kill when he is not around anyways? Geez. Backing away he says, "Only met one dragon on the way here. Left him blind and broken. So I came all this way to deliver you an.. empty box. Great. So uh.. how many of these things are laying around? And do you think they might hold something really buff like say, an incarnation of a Titan?"
The priest looks up. "There were eleven others, dude, not counting the original. The twelve can hold anything up to a titan avatar." He stands, shakily and holds offers a hand. "Name's Trent. Like, High Priest of Zeus. And there was something in the box. Those boxes haven't been empty for eons."
"My car just ran over something down below" Jason responds, "Maybe whatever it was made it off the roof and got splattered trying to make a getaway." He gives a quick handshake, "Jason, but you knew that. Son of Aphrodite. Any idea where the others happen to be?
Trent shrugs. "Your guess is as good as mine, bro. I understand that Hermes spent the better part of a year looking for that one. They got scattered about the time the gods retreated from this world and the locations were lost." He looks over the side of the building and chuckles. "Heh. Nemean frog. Nice trade."
"Need this one, or did you just want to lock up the giant?" Jason inquires hopefully, "I could go all catch and release on him somewhere nasty and try to put this thing to good use locking up someone really dangerous."
"Nah, I'm done with it," Trent answers. "There's a few Scions in town that can take care of anything else that pops up. Just, uh, be careful. That box draws titanspawn like a lodestone attracts lead.”