Demigods : Version 3.0 { Closed, Started }

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"I think my skills will be more useful in an urban setting. I'll join the team going to that warehouse." Elizabeth said.

'Not to mention I'm sure I'm more familiar with a warehouse than some mountain in Colorado. Easier to sneak around if one actually knows the terrain.' She thought and she guessed that somebody at least needed to keep an eye on Brandon. If only so that he didn't try to take any detours after the mission was over.

"...and that's why you should volunteer! It's a good opportunity to get out of camp and practice in the real world!"

Ambrose blinked. Had she been talking to her this whole time? Ling-Lei, the Hypnos cabin's acting leader, was looking at her expectantly, with a big grin on her face.
Crap, did she ask me something?
She had been busy staring into the Iris-message. Not even necessarily taking in the message, or the images, but just... staring. The little message at the end had snapped her out of her trance, and it was like the world had just starting moving again.
Do it! Do it! It'll be fun!
"Well? Do you want to go?" That's when the Demeter Cabin's leader volunteered one of her wards. "Wait, wait! I want to volunteer one of my cabin members too! I volunteer Ambrose Lark!"
"Huh...? Wait, volunteer for what?"
"She can go to the warehouse!"
"Wait, I don't want to go to-"
"Do you want to go to the icy cold cave where the Chimaera is hiding?"
"Would you rather go to the warehouse?"
"It's settled then! Ambrose Lark will be going to the warehouse!" Ling-lei shouted again, as if Chiron hadn't heard her the first time. "It'll be great, Amy! You won't even have to do much. I'll get you some extra strength caffeine pills, maybe even a few energy drinks to wash them down..."
Her voice started to fade out again.

Jessica was the last to stand. "I'll also volunteer for the warehouse team," she announced. She looked over to check who else was going with her... one of the Hypnos girls. She would need looking after... especially in a fight. At least one of the two guys would also require the Aphrodite girl's care, in a different sense of the word. A flirtatious smile played with the edges of her lips at that thought.

"Well, if we're gonna have that much of an imbalance, I'll switch to volunteering for the mountains," Jia interjected. "Three people isn't going to be enough to take on the Chimaera, of all things."

"Alright, then it's settled," Chiron stated. "Royce, Jia, Freya and Dorofei will travel to Mount Eolus to eliminate the Chimaera and any other monsters in the area. Brandon, Gabriel, Elizabeth, Ambrose and Jessica will travel to the warehouse district and investigate its relevance. Those who did not volunteer may resume their normal activities. Volunteers and staff, meet me outside my office." The centaur stepped down from the stage, indicating that the audience was dismissed.

Five Minutes Later

Soon everyone had assembled on the porch outside the directors' offices, with Chiron stood before them. He had gestured for the volunteered demigods to split up into their appropriate groups, and chose to address the team of four first.

"So. We are going to need to transport you to Colorado quickly and quietly. The less attention we attract from unwanted eyes, the better. With that in mind... you should probably use the Labyrinth. It's the fastest route to anywhere in the United States, short of recruiting some of my kin to carry you."

Royce wasn't entirely keen on the idea. "Sure, it might be fast. But it's insane to travel it without some form of guidance... and who knows what could be in our way."

Chiron was one step ahead of the son of Hephaestus. He simply reached into a pocket and pulled out a ball of string, which he tossed over. "I already thought of that. I'll lend you Ariadne's thread; it will guide you through as long as you keep a single destination in mind. However, it offers no advantage in any challenge you may face in the maze, be it a test of combat, skill or something else entirely."

"And behind door number two?" Jess piped up.

"Patience," Chiron admonished her. "Once you're in the Labyrinth, you're on your own. Be careful... your fellow demigods will be the only ones you can rely on. It may be entirely possible that the gods may not hear an offered prayer. Infighting and animosity will only get you into more trouble than that which you will inevitably face in the maze."

The centaur turned to the group of five to address them. "As for those of you travelling to the warehouse... I do not know who or what you will be facing. Therefore I suggest you be ready for anything. However... Mr Aeckerd. In your short stay here you have not yet acquired a weapon from the camp's armoury. With that in mind, I give you this." Chiron drew a sheathed sword from a pack on his flank and handed it to the son of Demeter. "It's a simple wooden sword, used by one of your half-siblings before he retired from camp life. Perhaps you can make some use of its properties."

Both Royce and Jessica raised an eyebrow at this, but neither said anything. How's a wooden sword gonna help? Who is this guy? were Jess' thoughts, while Royce was rather miffed that the guy wasn't using a blade from the forges.

"Some of you may not enjoy working with others, but it's something you will have to get used to," he concluded, making a point of looking at certain individuals in both groups as he spoke. "Take a moment to grab your gear. Warehouse team, meet me at the garage. You'll need vehicular transport. Mountain team, meet Ms. Lee at the edge of the forest. She'll guide you to the Labyrinth's entrance. Dismissed... and may the gods go with you."

"Well, it's off to war we go, I guess," Royce noted to the other three as they turned and made their way back to the cabins. "I suppose I should hang on to this for the time being," he added, indicating the ball of thread. According to one of the stories he'd heard, it would change colour and point the way with one end of the cord depending on where the holder wanted to go. For now, it was a simple ball of white. Royce stuck it in a pouch on his belt.

"I'll just grab some supplies from my cabin's stock. Meet up later?"

Jess fell into step beside the guy with the wooden sword. She felt that some introductions could be helpful. "So... who are you, exactly? I don't believe we've met. Jessica Lancer, Aphrodite cabin leader. But you can call me Jess, if you like." She looked the guy up and down: he was a bit taller than her, well-built... although his clothes could use a wash. Or a complete replacement.

After the end of the appointed gathering, the disinterested Harvestchild seemed to go through the motions, following after the groups planning to embark on their appointed missions. His eyes sorta seemed to glaze over as the elder centaur debriefed the groups, the information going into one ear and quickly exiting out the other. "However...Mr Aeckerd..." "Huh?" Gabriel perked up upon hearing his name addressed. As Chiron considered the boy to be unarmed, he presented and handed Gabe a sword. The sword, styled after its (usually metal) Grecian counterparts, was heavier than Gabe anticipated, and most likely carved from some very sturdy lumber. Naturally, the Harvestchild examined the weapon as he held it, a cocked eyebrow breaking his usually blank expression.

"Would I even need this? I already have, whatever. It's free." "Perhaps you can make some use of its properties." Chiron added. "Thanks." Gabriel quaintly retorted. Chiron continued, making a note of tolerating teammates. Gabe's eyes floated by the tallest girl in the room, if only briefly. "Yeah, glad I ain't on the team with the crazy Hades chick and the Ruskie aspie." If going by their last encounter, Gabe knew those two were gonna clash all over their mission. As the briefing ended and the demigods began out the office, Gabriel shuffled after them, the sword still in hand.

"Still don't know what i'm supposed to with this thing. It ain't stuck in dirt or got roots, so I can't change it into anything, unless-" Taking another look at the wooden weapon, he noticed that a collection of tiny branches and equally minuscule leaves had grew upon the surface of the blade, most likely as a result of the Harvestchild's subconscious abilities. "Unless it's enchanted." That must've been the explanation for it, or at least, the one Gabe could see.

Just as it happened, one of Gabriel's teammates mozyed up beside him, only getting his attention after verbally greeting him. The girl was-for all intents and purposes-drop dead gorgeous. He could only imagine all the heads she turned on a daily basis, even when looking her worst. Even then, Gabe kept his expression plain as he gave her his attention. "Gabriel, Harvest goddess' bastard child. One of 'em, at least. Call me Gabe." He greeted back.

Freya listened intently on what Chiron had to say once they had gathered outside the directors' offices. It was quite clear what they had to do and, although she shared Royce's opinion on going through the Labyrinth, at least Chiron wasn't making them go through it without some sort of guidance. She snorted a little when Chiron handed Gabe a wooden sword, not caring if anyone heard it or not, though she didn't make a big deal out of it in front of the centaur. She felt his eyes look towards her as he addressed the ones that didn't want to work with others. She knew all too well that she preferred to go alone, but she still wasn't stupid. She knew that sometimes, you had to work with others, even if you didn't want to.

Once that was over and they were on their ways back to their cabins, Royce spoke to them. "Doesn't matter who keeps it." she said in response to Royce talking of keeping the ball of yarn with him. "We need that to get through the Labyrinth, so be sure you keep it with you at all times. I would rather not get stuck in the Labyrinth because you lost that thing somehow."

She responded with a "Sure." to his question of meeting later, as she headed towards the Hades cabin to get her armor. It didn't take her long before she reached it, heading inside and getting her armor, putting it on before she grabbed her shield and put her sword in its sheath. She kept her helmet under her arm as she left the Hades cabin again and headed towards the edge of the forest to meet up with Ms. Lee and the rest of the mountain team.

Elizabeth listened intently before speaking.

"Alright so we are going into the warehouse blind. I'll make sure to load up for both human and mythical then. So I'm guessing our job is to go in, find out why that place is important, then either report back or stop it. Sounds like it should be an easy enough task." She then went ahead and left grabbing her bow and heading to the armory to get her leather armor and 3/4 of a quiver's worth of celestial bronze tipped arrows and 1/4 quiver's worth of standard iron tipped arrows in case she ran into any humans. She changed into the armor and started for the garage.

Think I dodged a bullet there, alla them hard-asses going off to them mountains. Course what do I got? Guess if we're hittin' up downtown Brooklyn, we'll be all set for business there.

"Right, Imma go get my beatin' stick and I'll see ya'll down at the garage there," he informed the others who were still standing around. People were already moving to retrieve stuff, a good sign. Least Jess is comin'. Gives me somethin' to look at while we're doin' this.

Brandon headed back to the cabin to retrieve necessary mission supplies: his weapons, his iPod and his phone. Weapons for if it turned out to be a fun mission, electronics for if it turned out to be boring. That should cover 'er. Ready for action, he made his way towards the vehicle lot. Just give us a good ride for this mission and we'll be set.

Jia rubbed her chin. Chimaera. How do you deal with something like that?

Oh, right. You hit it until it stops moving. Possibly hit it some more after it goes still.

It was a simple matter to head to the armory and collect a crossbow and a quiver of celestial bronze quarrels, and then she headed for the edge of the forest, cradling the crossbow in her arms as she walked.

Dorofei let the group sort out the formalities. All he needed to know was time. How much time he had to get to Freya, and how much time they had to fight. As he saw her leave to the Hades Cabin, he began to formulate his plan. He quickly made his way over to the edge of the forest and waited for the Hades Child to cross his path on her way to the rest of the group. He waited with the patience of a master hunter. Then he saw her making her way from the cabin.

"Good, she's fully armed", he thought to himself. "This will make things interesting"

He stepped out from the trees and onto the path, his axe at the ready and his armor fully formed.

"So. You and I. We still got problem"

Freya stopped and looked at Dorofei with an indifferent scowl. "The fuck do you mean, we have a problem? We're about to do a mission here, and you want to fight me? I don't have time for this shit right now. If you want to fight, we can do so after the mission." She then attempted to walk past Dorofei and to where they were supposed to go.

Dorofei slammed the flat of his axe into Freya's stomach, sending the girl flying.

"NO! We fight NOW, hellspawn."

He brought his axe up and planted his feet.

"How do we trust monster who hides like you?" He roared. "No honor! No pride! No soul! No better than monster we hunt!" He raised his axe high and rushed Freya.


The attack surprised Freya, or at least caught her off guard. She stood up, angry at the accusations the Russian was making and had to take a moment to be able to breathe and talk properly after having been slammed hard in her stomach.

"I fight plenty at the front in a battle, and I do love to slice up monsters. I enjoy the look on an opponents face as my skeleton minions rip them to shreads, sometimes slowly. So if you think I hide in the back so I can skip battle, think again! And don't call me a monster, you big brute of an asshole!"

Freya raised her shield arm and slammed Dorofei hard in his chest, sure that she'd get him as hard, if not harder, than he'd done to her.

The blow from the shield connected perfectly in Dorofei's chest. He felt his ribs crack on contact. If his armor wasn't there, he was sure the blow would have killed him. The edge of the shield cut it's way into his Magic Ice armor. Dorofei couldn't contain himself. He laughed. He laughed till his cracked chest wouldn't let him breath any longer.

The laughing only angered Freya. "What the fuck's so funny?" she asked.

Dorofei laughed again, only this time spoke in ancient Greek. "Magic Shield. Magic Ice. Look at your arm, Child of Hades."

"The fuck are you talking abou-" She stopped as she looked at her arm and felt the cold. Her arm had been frozen, and it was spreading. "God fucking damnit! What the hell are you doing?!"

"Ahh good. I have your attention" Dorofei spoke in ancient Greek. "You'll have to forgive me for speaking in Greek. I try to work on my English, but I feel like I'm not taken too seriously with my thick accent"
The whole time he was speaking, the ice was creeping up her arm, accross her chest, and down her body.

"Now, I think, we can have a real conversation." He broke himself off from Freya's mostly frozen body, pushed her over onto the floor, and sat down next to her.

"Just to be clear, this ice is magic. A gift from my mother. Unless Hephaestus roasts you over his forge, you're not getting out of there. Lucky for you, I'm willing to make a deal."

"So here is my deal. One, you swear an oath on the River Styx to never assult another camper again outside of training or the arena." The levity suddenly left his voice when he spoke again. "Two, you take me to Hades so I can see my father again."

Freya released a hefty amount of curses and swears while the ice was spreading over her, but she stopped for a moment while Dorofei spoke, then started again once he was done. When she stopped that, she was somewhat ready to talk. "Fuck your deal and get me out of this thing! I attack whoever gets in my way! And how the fuck can I take you to Hades? It's not like I'm his special hellspawn and get some kind of key to a portal to his domain. If you want to see your father, talk to Chiron about it. Now let me go so we can just do our mission and get it out of the way so I don't have to work with you!"

The Magic Ice thickened and began to work its way up Freya's neck.
"You're in no position to negotiate. There's nothing in this camp that will get you out without suffering some serious pain. So, unless the next words out of your mouth are 'it's a deal', I'm going to freeze you solid and throw into the forest."

"You fucker! Why the hell are you doing this, anyway? What the hell did I do to you for you to do this? And besides, someone will see I'm missing, will report it to Chiron, then he's going to release me and I'll tell him what the fuck you did! So just release me and I might not smash in your face! Is that a fucking deal?!" She was almost amazed that no one could hear them from all the yelling she was doing.

Dorofei sighed. "I've had my fill of creatures like you jumping out of the forest and attacking innocent people. You could have killed the Demiter Child because you're petty and childish and want people to think you're strong. You can't work with people and you can't help me. I'll be in the mountains by the time anyone finds you, and no one can ever catch me in the snow. So, last chance. Help me, or pray you don't freeze to death."

Freya was confused by his comment about the Demeter Child. "What are you talking about? When I tried to jump Gabe in the forest? That was just a prank! Do you think I actually wanted to kill him?! Do you think I'm that stupid?! Yes, fine, I tend to bash people's face in if they get in my way, but I don't kill anyone! Only monsters! You're doing this for a petty little prank that just so happened to turn out worse because of some harpies?! And you're calling me petty!"

She was so angry right now, but she had to think of the mission and what Chiron would think of this if he saw this. "Look, ice-for-brains. We are both part of this mission. I do work well with people so long as they don't get in my way, just like everyone else does whenever they go to battle with other people. I guess you've just never seen me work with someone else. I can't help you get to Hades because if I could go there, do you think I'd be up here? Do you really think so? And even if I could, I don't know if I'd want to help you get there because of this magic ice trick of yours. Also, you're not going to be in the mountains forever. Sooner or later, you will have to return, and by then, Chiron will know what you did. Do you really want that to happen? I suggest you release me from this so we can get on with the mission and get out of each other's faces as soon as possible."

Dorofei sighed hevily. Another dead lead.

"Я увижу вас опять, отец. Я обещаю."

"Fine" he said in his bored Greek "You're useless in getting me to your father, but you still need to swear on the River Styx that you'll never attack another camper outside of self defence or training." He paused for a moment. "Official training."

Freya almost growled at how stubborn he was being about this. "Hmpf. Fine, fine, I swear. Now release me so we can get to where Ms. Lee is."

With a wave of his hand, the Magic Ice evaporated. "Good. Congratualations, you are now sworn to be a decent human." He walked away, leaving her shuddering from the Ice. "Hurry up. Our mission about to start."

Freya stood up and tried to shake off most of the shuddering. "Yeah, and whose fault is it that we didn't arrive sooner, huh?" she said, though mostly mumbling it to herself. That wasn't a headache she'd wanted to deal with, but at least it was over now. She headed after him, again going towards where Ms. Lee was, and hopefully this time without interruptions.

Chiron called all the "volunteers" to the meeting. Ambrose even stayed up and payed a little attention to it only for Chiron to say absolutely nothing about her mission. She groaned when they were dismissed, crossing her arms and going outside. She had to pack. A pillow and a blanket... who would take care of Lethe? Why did Ling Lei have to put her up to this all of a sudden... she had no supplies, she hadn't even cleaned or sharpened her scythe in weeks! Or had it been months?

She walked back to her cabin, making a mental list of what she needed to bring, and what she needed to take care of for Lethe. The air was heavy with sleep as she pushed against the heavy door. It cracked open without a sound, letting no light or noise in in case it woke the sleepers. Ambrose shuffled over to her bed, envious of her half siblings. She dragged out a large trunk from underneath. All her camp life, packed away neatly in a 4 by 4 by 2 trunk. She took out an extra set of clothes, earplugs, and 2 pillows, wrapping them up in a blanket-bag and setting that on the mattress. I need to get a weeks supply of caffeine, at least...

Lethe meanwhile was doing some packing of her own, fully expecting to be allowed to go on the trip. She dragged out her favorite catnip mouse from under the kitchen sink, trotting over and stuffing it in the bag when Ambrose wasn't looking.

Royce's armour was compacted, his belt loaded with tinkering supplies, and his hammer secured in its belt loop. He'd picked up his gauntlet and fitted it on, and a small satchel of non-perishable food and drink was over one shoulder. Physically, he was all set. Mentally... well, the Labyrinth scared him. The thought of fighting the Chimaera scared him. But it would be better, in the long run, to eliminate the beast.

Upon leaving the Hephaestus cabin behind, to comments of 'good luck' and 'Father be with you,' he headed over to the forest's edge... two of his companions - and he used the term sparingly, in Freya's case, since she was a bit volatile - were in a heated argument. Well, heated in one sense of the word. Had the Russian... encased Freya in ice? Oh, by Father's beard, what are you doing? We've got a job, dumbass, now is not the time for whatever this is. The ice vanished soon after he got there, though, and the two stood and began to make their way deeper into the woods to join Chief Ranger Lee. Royce hurried after them, soon catching up.

"I'd offer a source of warmth, but it would start a forest fire," he commented quietly to Freya as the three walked through the woodland. Before Freya could respond, however, a figure jumped from a tree in front of them. "The Labyrinth entrance is this way, guys. Still got the thread, Royce?" Ms Lee asked to double-check, getting a nod from him in response.

It turned out that Jia was already waiting at the entrance to the underground maze: a rather large pile of rocks in a clearing, topped by a tall red banner with a severed boar's head (one of the symbols of Ares) as the emblem. Ms Lee crouched down at the base of one boulder and wiped away a layer of dirt, revealing the Greek letter Delta chiseled into it. She traced over it with a finger and the earth shook a little, the boulder moving backwards into the mound. In its place, a circular hole was dug into the ground, steel rungs arranged inside to form a ladder.

"Well... here goes." Royce was the first to descend, closely followed by the other three. Once everyone was on solid ground again, the boulder entrance slid closed. They were standing in a long hallway made of brick, and the only light source was coming from a... fluorescent fixture? "This is bizarre," the son of Hephaestus commented, pulling the ball of magical thread from its pouch. Almost instantly it shimmered, changed to a blood red colour and one end of the thread popped out, pointing down the hall past the lighting.

"I shouldn't have to say this, but... well, be ready for anything." Thread in one hand and gauntlet on the other, Royce began to lead the way deeper into the Labyrinth.

"Child of Demeter, huh? That explains the wooden sword. You could probably do a fair bit with that," Jess commented. "Also, I'd, ah, welcome you properly to the camp - " she winked suggestively " - but now's not the time or place. We got work to do." She ducked into the Aphrodite cabin to collect some possessions

It took a while for the five to assemble at the garage. Looking at them, they were a bit of a motley bunch. But Jess didn't mind that. It allowed the group to be a bit more flexible, able to take on different situations in different ways. For example, all she had elected to bring with her was a change of clothes, a small pack of food, her usual knife, some music on an iPod, and a sword she'd borrowed from the armoury. By contrast, Elizabeth - the volunteer from the Hermes cabin - was decked out in leather armour, complete with her bow and a mixed quiver judging by the flights on the arrows (brown for celestial bronze, silver for iron or steel).

Chiron was already waiting beside one of the standard-issue vans. "The van's GPS device has already been programmed with your destination. Good luck to you... it might be needed."

With that, the five demigods on the team piled in: Brandon was driving, with Jess in the passenger seat and everyone else in the back. Soon enough they were underway.

"So do we have a plan or are we just going to go charging in?"

Elizabeth asked the other occupants of the van, leaning on both of the front seats with her head in space between the two headrests.

"Since we seem to have quite the odd mix of powers here, I'd like to know what exactly we think we are going to do."

Brandon was not pleased with the vehicle selection of the higher ups at camp. Man, why we toolin' around in this old hunk of bolts? My truck fits this many and it's a miles better drive than this thing. Least I can plug'n the tunes.

Once inside the Kia Wrongdo, Brandon immediately hooked his iPod into the AUX port and set up some cruisin' tunes, at least for himself to enjoy. Mexican Institute of Sound was the first thing to come on, so that's what played as he quickly backed out of the parking lot. Guess if I got tunes to listen to n' Jess to look at, it ain't so bad drivin' this hunk of junk.

"So do we have a plan or are we just going to go charging in?"

Brandon turned the music down, not really expecting any questions to come during this trip.

"Since we seem to have quite the odd mix of powers here, I'd like to know what exactly we think we are going to do."

"Well, first, we gotta figure out if there's actually anythin' worth worryin' 'bout at that warehouse," Brandon answered. "If there ain't, then we're just sittin' pretty 'til they call us back. If there is, then we get to have us a little fun, if ya'll get my drift."

Making his way towards the van's rear, Gabriel made sure he had a seat closest to one of the vehicle's wide windows as he began settling into the plush, gray upholstery. He brought the bookbag into his lap, the wooden sword still held in opposite hand. He couldn't help but examine the weapon some more as one of the girls and Brandon talked up front. He pondered on how useful the thing could be for him in combat. He didn't know much about the weapon, other than 'swing it in a person's direction, and hope for the best'. He was still fairly in the dark when it came to actual stances, attacks, and the like.

"Hmph." He scoffed as he looked at it. It began to shrink in his hand as he unzipped his bag. It was about as small as steak knife before he held it over his bag. The sapling began to react, outstretching branches meeting and wrapping around the now shrunken weapon. Like a makeshift sheath, the sapling left the handle (to the hilt) uncovered for easy access. Then, the baby tree receded back into the bag, reverting closer to its original shape as Gabe zipped up after it.

"What're these guys even talking about?" The Harvestchild brought his attention back towards the front of the cab, with the other kids conversing on what to expect when they reached their eventual destination. Gabe reclined in his seat, realizing that he didn't care about the situation nearly as enough as everyone else did. "Least it'll be easier to be in the city with all these others here."

Freya almost jumped when Royce suddenly addressed her. She would have replied with a reluctant thanks, but she was interrupted when Ms. Lee appeared in front of them, making her relieved to be actually starting the mission now. Hopefully without that ice-for-brains doing the same thing he just did. She'd just have to ignore him for the remainder of the mission.

The entrance was kind of impressive, she thought as the boulder hiding the entrance moved away to reveal a ladder. Freya followed Royce down, as did the other two with them. Once down, they were met with a brick hallway that reached a long way away. It certainly was bizarre, alright. She kept her hand on the hilt of her sword as they made their way through the brick hallway.

Turning a corner, they were met with a hallway of concrete, a bit more modern looking than the brick one. "Huh. Think these walls are made out of different materials?" It probably sounded like a stupid question, but now she wondered what other kinds of walls the labyrinth held.

Dorofei hated tunnels. They put him on edge. The feeling of the walls closing in on him made him feel like there was always someone standing right behind him. This wasn't helped by the fact there was, in fact, someone standing right behind him. Not having his bearings made the feeling worse. He hated not knowing where he was going, and he didn't like the idea of Magic String being the only thing guiding them. He didn't trust any magic he didn't know much about.

He tried to keep himself distracted by focusing on the mission at hand. That, and Jia's ass as she walked ahead of him. But the latter didn't make for good conversation.

"So," He spoke up to the group, "what is plan for fighting Chimera?"

"It's hard to make a snap judgment about how to conduct a fight with a creature like this." She glanced over her shoulder at Dorofei, noting his examination of her ass. Her padded combat suit had advantages - it wasn't quite form-fitting, but it was close enough that it wasn't the first time it had caused distractions.

Distractions were occasionally useful. She turned her head away, a faint grin tugging at the corners of her lips. "Fire-breathing three-headed giant monster. Generally good principle is to hit it until it stops moving, then hit it some more. More detailed plans can wait until we reach the target, get a feel for the lay of the terrain." She paused. "Royce, you're good with fire, right? It might be best if you drew its attention. I don't know that your flamethrower will do much good against a firebreather. That could give us the opening for the rest of us to make a killing or disabling strike."

Jia was as uncomfortable in the labyrinth as Dorofei, albeit for different reasons. Jia's fighting style required space to move, and these narrow confines weren't exactly conducive to that. She was in good company, though - Freya was quite skilled and better suited to these narrow confines than her, and Dorofei and Royce both had reputations of being competent fighters. The four of them could handle just about anything, even in unfavorable circumstances.

"Brickwork, fluorescent did Daedalus construct this place? Is the Labyrinth growing, adding bits and pieces of construction onto itself? Or is it something else entirely? Do these paths cut through time as well as space?"

"Huh. Think these walls are made out of different materials?"

"Probably. If I remember right, the Labyrinth was designed to be piecemeal, put together from all sorts of different types of construction," Royce answered Freya's question. "Some bookish demigods back in the old days even thought it had a sentience of its own, and adapted itself to fit modern construction styles. Well, I say modern, but it's old-school for us. Anyways. Apparently the workshop of Daedalus, the maze's creator, is always in the exact center of the Labyrinth. Or, at least, the oldest sections." A little bit of a history lesson wouldn't hurt. Royce had studied it due to its complexity and integration of natural, mythological and mechanical components.

The group traversed the concrete hallway as he spoke, turning yet another corner into yet another corridor. This one looked Greek in origin... Ancient Greek, to be specific. Maybe it was in the style of an Olympian palace. Royce couldn't quite tell.

"So, what is plan for fighting Chimera?" Dorofei asked. This led into Jia making a few comments. "Royce, you're good with fire, right? It might be best if you drew its attention. I don't know that your flamethrower will do much good against a firebreather. That could give us the opening for the rest of us to make a killing or disabling strike."

"Draw the beast's attention away from everyone else? Possible... but I'd like the idea more if I'd had the opportunity to give it a target that was... well, repairable," Royce noted. "On the other hand, I can probably shrug off fire-based attacks that would turn any of you three into a pile of ash. As for the flamethrower... well, it does have a couple of charges of Greek fire in it. So that's something."

"Brickwork, fluorescent did Daedalus construct this place? Is the Labyrinth growing, adding bits and pieces of construction onto itself? Or is it something else entirely? Do these paths cut through time as well as space?"

"The machinations of the Labyrinth are anyone's guess, my friend!" a man's voice called from up ahead. A lone figure stood in the center of a room, dressed in a suit split in two halves. One half was bright blue, the other a deep red. What was even stranger about this man than his choice of attire was his face. Or rather, faces. He had two where normal people would have one, on either side of his head. If Royce tried to focus on both at once, he found his gaze shifting from one to the other and back again.

The room, too, was split into two. The left side was bright white marble, and the right was black granite. A thin crack separated the two... and the gap was filled with lava. The two-faced man stood astride the space, seemingly unafraid of the hot bubbling liquid beneath him.

"Aha! It's been a while since I've seen some wayfarers on this particular road," the face on the man's left side declared.

"The Labyrinth is ever-shifting, always leading adventurers into different and twisting paths. But all come to me, in the end, save for Daedalus himself. He goes where he pleases," the right one added.

"Who are you?" Freya asked a little annoyingly since she didn't want to deal with this kind of shit, even though it seemed it was unavoidable.

"I'm your dearest friend," the left answered. "I'm your deepest nightmare," the right contradicted. "I'm Janus," both said in unison. "God of Transitions, Gates, Beginnings, Endings... and Decisions."

Royce was unimpressed by the introduction. Especially since it was coming from a god who had his roots in Roman history rather than Greek. Over the centuries Janus had been folded into the Greek Pantheon, but many still treated him as a minor god. Sometimes less than minor. "What do you want, Janus? You're in our way."

"Of course I'm in the way! It's what I do. I want to help you on your path!" the left cheerfully stated. Janus snapped his fingers on each hand. Two gates materialised in the room, one on each side. Both were open. "But I also wish to have a little fun," the right added. "Both of these gates will lead you to the Chimaera, the beast you seek to slay."

"But..." There was always a catch, Royce reasoned.

"But the path you take will be different depending on the gate you enter," Left answered. "One way is a shortcut. The other is a longer route," Right explained. "And I'm not going to tell you which is which," they continued, speaking in time again.

"Brandon's pretty much summed it up," Jess chimed in. "Once we find the warehouse, we'll probably have to watch it for any kind of monstrous activity. If that means a stakeout or something, that works for me... we can have fun in other ways." She winked. At whom, however, she left open to interpretation.

"Seriously, though, we probably need some sort of plan for actually getting into the warehouse if it turns out there's a bunch of hostiles in there. But I guess we'll get to that when we get to it," she noted, shrugging.

"What kind of a game is that, Janus?" Jia folded her arms and gave him a quizzical look. "If you're expecting us to be paralyzed with indecision, that's not really going to work. Either way we get to our destination, and frankly there's no reason to choose one path over the other without you giving us any kind of hint or riddle or clue." She walked towards the right gate, leaning against the wall next to it. "Let's take the right side. Worst case scenario it takes us a little bit longer."

"Oh, and Janus? I face more terrifying things than you waiting in line for pancakes. Maybe you'd be the most terrifying thing we'd ever seen if we were a quartet of office drones, but we hunt monsters practically as a hobby. A guy who looks like a ripoff Batman villain is not exactly going to haunt my dreams."

"Stakeout?" Gabriel didn't appreciate the idea of being drafted in and dragged out onto this venture just to wait out a location, even if it were just little more than a hypothetical suggestion. Leaning forward some, the harvestchild rested his chin along the long seat placed just inches ahead of him. With his expression low and spirtless, his eyes floated outward, toward the rapidly blurring tree lines the van sped by. With a bit of turn, Brandon merged onto the expressway, and accelerated even further. The familiar signs caused Gabe to raise a bit of an eyebrow.

"Huh. This was to road I followed to get up here. It should be a straight shot to Brooklyn. Still gonna take a while..." As he thought, POV blinked towards the front of the cab. Jess winked in his general direction. Or it seemed that way to him. He began to ponder some on the act. "She didn't do it to the sleepy girl, unless she's into kids...or females...does she even swing that way? Does she swing both ways?" He began wonder just how she planned on giving him a "proper welcome"..."Or maybe she just has a eye twitch or something...all that winking..." Jessica soon brought up the idea of coming up with an actual plan.

"You're talking about this like you've did it before. I'm still weirded out over the fact that we're even doing this. Are we children of gods, or child soldiers?" He decided to pipe up for once. He thumbed towards the girl that fought staying awake and her pet kitten. "I don't even think this girl is old enough to vote, let alone fight."

"A little from column A a little from column B to be perfectly up front about it." Elizabeth said to Gabriel.

"All of us counselors have done this time and time again. We go out and fight because we are really the ones who can fight. The reason the camp exists is to teach you how to fight the beings that are going to come after you because of your heritage. So we all learn to fight, and sometimes something comes that normal humans can't fight but will affect them all the same. That's where we come in."

She then turned her attention back to Brandon and Jess.

"Well if worse comes to worse Jess and I can sneak in and case the place. You can walk through their front gate and I'll just sneak in through a secondary access point. If it all really goes to hell, I'm sure Brandon at the very least can figure out what to do."

Freya wasn't sure whether to laugh or feel sorry for Janus for his attempts at hindering them. For once, she agreed with another of her fellow campers. "Yeah, I'm with Jia on this. I have always been more fond of left myself, but I'd rather not argue and have this mission take any longer than it needs to be."

She walked over to Jia and the right door, standing turned towards Royce and Dorofei, seeing what they would do. "You're a pathetic excuse for a god, and you should just crawl back into whatever hole you came from, Janus. You're not scaring anyone. Only being an annoyance to anyone who is unfortunate to come across you."

"Hey I can vote... wait..." Ambrose was in the very back row, with the added perk of having it all to herself. She popped up when she head that one guy talking about her. What was his name. Did she get his name? "Wait, what year is it? Is it still 2013? I was born in 1996. Am I 18 yet?"
"Meooow" It's 2013. You're 17.
"Thanks Le... wait, Lethe? Didn't I tell you to stay at home?"
"Prr?" "No..."

"I can fight. But I'd rather not. Man, I thought we'd have the easy mission..." She cracked open an energy drink. If they went out and did adult things, that meant she could stay and watch the car. Sounded like a win-win.

Brandon caught Jess' wink in his peripherals. Heh-heh, might haveta wait for the kids ta fall asleep, but ya know I'm down for a throw in the hay. There were more questions though. Questions that should have been covered by Gabe's counselor already. Lazy ass Rosa.

"Like Liz said, who else they gonna send?" he answered "Military? Ain't doing shit against a hydra hide with them dinky bullets. FBI? They got no experience handlin' this. This ain't the Cold War shit they know. This is a ancient war, and we're the only ones with the powers to do somethin' 'bout it. We're set either way. Either the ladies handle it clean and we find nothin' or me an Gabe handle it dirty and we get smashin' stuff up. Don't matter to me how, just long as we get it done."

The sign for the Hicksville off-ramp faded in the distance. They were halfway to the destination, but who knew how long it would take given the usual city traffic.

"Hmph. Taught." Gabe thought with scoff. "Barely been in that camp a day, I haven't been taught a damn thing." It was a thought in reply to what the girl ahead of him (her name was...Liz, apparently, he made a note of that) said. Granted, what he knew of his own abilities were either self taught or egged on by his extended Dryad family (and, as far as he was concerned, he knew quite a bit), but the thought still remained. As far as he knew, they've all been in contact, or at least known of, their divine parents.

All he knew of the Harvest Goddess, was through one half remembered dream, and the stories of worship told by his wood nymph sisters. He was almost certain that the kids in his cabin even knew more than he did (especially Rosa, who just seemed to want him to conform to everything around him, no questions asked) so why did he get the cold shoulder? Why was he neglected?

"Whatever." He managed to shrug the thought away, to avoid losing what little bit of a temper he could control. It wasn't the first time the queries plagued him, and it wouldn't be the last. He turned his neck some to the youngest girl just behind him, mumbling questions to her cat (the cat, in which, seemed to reply back with cat noises) as she took swigs from a large can of a well known energy drink. "What god does she even belong to?" Before he could ask the question aloud, Brandon piped up from the front with his own outlook on the situation.

The Battleborn had a point, for sure, but it only made Gabe wonder if there were any administrative divisions that knew about these things. "You'd think there would be some sort of top-secret government agency of demigods that would deal with these monsters, or something..." The last thing Brandon said made Gabriel smirk though (more of an internal smirk, on the outside it resembled more of a brief lip twitch), as he sort of liked the idea of smashing things up. It was simpler. "Hmp. Smashin' things. I can dig it." He commented shortly, verbally.

Dorofei laughed a big throaty laugh.
"Old trick from weak God," he said. "Two roads, same path. Never plan for right answer."
He slung his ax over his shoulder and walked over to Jia and Freya. As he walked past Janus, he spoke up again.
"We do not fear you. You serve Goddess of Marriage, I bastard. You God of Doors? Impressive." He smirked, and tapped the end of his ax with his frozen gauntlet. "We break many doors."

"Oh, you mock me now, but I can still ruin your day. Just wait," Janus's left face retorted, not moving to face the demigods as they moved towards one of the gates. "You'll be faced with tough decisions eventually, and when you do, you won't find me helping out," the right added.

"You might be the God of Decisions, Janus, but we're more than capable without your help," Royce said dryly, following the others to the gate they had chosen. Their logic was sound: without knowing which way to go, if both gates led to the Chimaera there was no point to picking one over the other. If they ended up taking the long way, it was just another obstacle.

"But... but what about the Labyrinth? You'll be lost for sure!" Janus sounded a bit weaker now, like he was fishing for ways to keep the demigods guessing. Royce didn't even dignify the comment with a verbal response, instead pulling Ariadne's thread from its pouch as he stepped through the gate. The thread seemed to be unresponsive in Janus' chamber. But then, it didn't really matter which gate it chose.

"Aw, what? You got the thread?" "Lame. Majorly lame," Janus' faces whined before he vanished in a column of flames shooting up from the lava beneath him. Royce just turned back to the others, amused that he would give up so easily and let them go on their merry way. The gate clanged down behind the demigods after they passed through it, melting into a solid rock wall soon afterwards.

"Well, that was... a mild inconvenience at best," Royce noted. "We should keep moving." The air was colder in this tunnel, slight patches of frost decorating its walls. The maze had taken them into another straight passageway, though there was an incline to the floor and human-sized niches were in the walls at seemingly random intervals. The hell? Looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie... or a bit of that novel I read a while back. Decent book, kinda lacking in plot. Good character development and action scenes though. Almost like a movie itself.

"Times like these, when we come up with plans to sneak into a place from different entrances, I kinda wish that cellphone rule wasn't a thing," Jess noted. "We could totally do that secret agent thing with earpieces and stuff." It was common knowledge to most demigods that the use of cellphones attracted monsters. As a rule, most demigods didn't use them outside of camp. Occasionally they were permitted in case of emergency, but even that was like using a signal flare. Making a call was pretty much inviting every monstrous creature in a large radius to come and rearrange your limbs.

Jess explained as such to Gabe, answering a couple of questions as she did so. By the time the Q&A session was over, the trip was pretty much over and the demigods sat back to enjoy the last quarter of the journey. Sure enough, the warehouse they were looking for was standing alone in the middle of a square. A few crates and such were piled up near the entrance: Jess could see a few humanoid figures on patrol, though at this distance there was no way to tell who - or what - they were.

A couple of cars were parked outside, along with one pulling into the space between them. "Seems we got here just after someone else..." Jess looked to Brandon. "Any thoughts on how we wanna play this out, big guy?"

As they made their way into Brooklyn proper, Brandon was trying to figure out the best way to use what they had against what they were probably against, and for him most paths led to smashing. Upon arrival outside of the designated warehouse however, something seemed off to how it went in his mind. There was no obvious signs of nefarious deeds. The guys outside could be hired guns or could be dock workers. It was tough to tell what they were dealing with.

"Any thoughts on how we wanna play this out, big guy?"

There weren't many, but Brandon wasn't going to let them know that. "Uhhh, well, ya see it's kinda hard ta tell what exactly they got over there. Could be some druggin' operation, could be that dang chimera, all we know. I'm kinda thinkin' we send someone out there scoutin', just a matter figurin' out who can do 'er the best."

Gabriel seemed to perk up in his seat as the van came to a stop in a fairly dingy location in Brooklyn. Looking out the closest window, he got a pretty good surveying of the area. The warehouse they were staking out was on the water, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground, and a glistening, familiar skyline leading into the background. "Familiar..." As Brandon bullshitted his way through a plan, Gabe conspired a plan of his own. He shifted towards the opposite side of the van, migrated towards the nearest exit, and began making his way out. "Thanks for the ride." He mumbled flatly, the long, heavy door loudly sliding back as he began shuffling out.

Expectantly, those commandeering the mission felt the need to speak up. "Tha hell you think you're goin'?" Brandon spoke up first. "We have a job to do, in case you forgot." Jess followed. Gabriel refused eye contract, his sights more glued to the horizon. "Gonna see Central Park's not too far off." He slowly stated. "Can it wait until we're done here?" The Lovechild was quick to query, yet Gabriel was quick to retort. "No." He sounded selfish, sure, but he felt an urgency to seek some sort of closure. "Gabe if your fam'ly wants ya, they'll find ya. You try seekin' 'em, they'll dodge ya like a jackrabbit in a open field." The Warchild said. "Not this family..." "Dryads don't linger far from the tree they were born in. I'd rather go to them." Gabe spoke up, slinging his pack onto his back.

"Well, if you're that desperate to go... you do intend to come back, right? Camp Half-Blood is safer than the rest of the world by a long shot." Gabe frowned a bit a that, noticeably troubled by Jess' words. Did he really want to stay there? Go back to that camp, even after the bomb that was dropped on him? Willow used to reassure him, tell him that he'd eventually see his mother again. But after seeing just how many half-brothers and sisters were housed in Cabin 4, the so-called "Demeter" cabin, such a point felt more and more like a fabrication. He didn't answer Jess' question, his eyes began to study his dirty sneakers. A little aggravated by the silence, Brandon spat back. "Look you wanna head out there and make a fool outta yourself, that's fine by me. Go on wit' ya. Just don't fuck up the rest of us, ya hear me?"

Jess backed him up. "Seriously, though, you do need someone watching your back. Travelling alone, even if it's a short distance, is not a good idea for someone like you... inexperienced campers, I mean." She warned. "inexperienced..." Gabe knew (to a point) how his abilities worked, and almost felt insulted by her words...but she served a great point. Going by what happened to him earlier in the day (and further past experiences), ambushes were nothing new to him. "Fine." He poked his head back into the cab, his sights heading towards the very last row in the van. "Sleepy. You're with me." He pointed towards Ambrose.

"...I'll bring her back." He hesitantly added, feeling the need to not be a complete scumbag. "If ya don't, you can be the one takin' the heat an goin' into a coma. I ain't goin' down like no Carl Sandler. Just don't be fuckin' stupid." Brandon also warned. "I'd be dead if I were a dumbass. Don't worry 'bout it." Gabe replied, lamely holding a thumbs-up that contrasted the half frown he was wearing. "The A Train's like, a block from here, and the ride into Manhattan is short. I'll be back soon."

"W-what? Where are we going?" Ambrose piped up lately, still truely unaware of the situation. Gabe looked back into the van. "Central Park. Been there before? Gonna be safer than what's going on here." He tried coaxing her into the situation. "No... but I've read about it. Seen pictures. 843 acres of forest... Why do you want to go there?" Gabe stifled back a sigh. "She must've not been listening..." "I wanna see some people...Wood nymphs. While we're in the city. It won't be long." The Slumberchild seemed excited by that, and began making her way out the van. "Oooh I want to see some wood nymphs..." Ambrose's voice was flat, even though she had a genuine spark of interest. "Come on Lethe. Stay in the bag though. New York is a big place."

Through the transition, Ambrose had her place beside Gabriel. He took a glimpse at her before looking back towards those remaining in the vehicle. "...We'll be back." He reassured the three before departing, crossing the street adjacent to the van. He could see the subway station off in the distance, and told Ambrose to keep close as he began towards it.

"I've seen this movie. Okay, best guess, as soon as we start up this ramp some kind of pressure plate or other trap will activate and something will start falling or shooting down on us. Rocks, darts, Dragon's Teeth, could be any number of things." She rubbed her chin, examining the niches. " why would they be labeled in all those languages? It's not much of a trap if they give away the game."
Jia hunkered down, examining the floor for a moment. "Okay, here's the plan. Dorofei, make cover. Ice barrier, wide enough for all of us to take cover and as thick as you can make it. I'll ascend the ramp as soon as you're ready and try to shut down whatever mechanism controls the inevitable traps."

"Royce, I may need your help to find and disarm the traps, it's not really my area of expertise. Freya..." She paused for a moment. "Watch our backs. I don't like this place, someone could come up behind us at any moment, especially if we're distracted by dodging falling rocks."

"Sound good?"

"Dorofei, make cover. Ice barrier, wide enough for all of us to take cover and as thick as you can make it."

Dorofei took a step forward and ran his hand over the walls of the stone tunnel, slowly sizing them up.

"How's the wall coming, Dorofei?" Jia asked from behind him.

"Stone too smooth," he finally said in a quiet voice. "Ice won't hold."

If Jia was getting frustrated, her voice didn't show it. "Is there anything you can do?"

He chuckled slightly and lifted his ax over his head. "I make ice hold." He slammed his ax into the ground, smashing the stone and leaving his ax stuck in the floor. With a grunt, he pulled the Celestial Bronze shaft out from the center of his weapon, and held it above his head. A new ax formed around the shaft, and again he smashed it into an unbroken section of floor, again and again, until there was a cobweb of axes blocking off the tunnel. Finally, he pressed the celestial bronze shaft against the makeshift wall, and the handles of each ax began to thicken and expand until all the gaps were filled.

When he was finished, the area around them was a great deal colder. The wall was ground in a foot into the surrounding stone, and was even taller than Dorofei.

"I swear Brandon one would think you forget I'm the counselor of Hermes cabin. Stealth is what I tend to be good at. So sneak in, check it out, and come back. See you two in a bit then." Elizabeth said as she climbed out of the truck. She saw a building near by and found the fire escape to quietly climb up. Once on top of the building she looked back to the warehouse, looking to see how many guards might be on premises or on the roof of said warehouse.

'Alright boys, let's see what paths you take.' She thought as she continued to look.

As Liz exited the van for some reconnaissance, Brandon took the opportunity to put his seat back as far as it could go in the reclining position. Given the state of the van, it wasn't much, but it still made him a bit more comfortable, especially considering there were now only two people in the vehicle.

"So Jess," he said to the other counselor. "Looks like we got ourselves a bitta time ta kill while the others are outta here. Whatta ya think we should do with this down time?"

From her vantage point, Elizabeth could see about half of the warehouse's perimeter. Two guards stood outside the main entrance where the cars were parked. One of them clearly possessed the body shape of a centaur, whereas the other was more humanoid. Two more centaur guards were walking back and forth just around the corner from the entrance, each armed with a longbow and quiver. Another humanoid figure was sitting on the roof, having a smoke by the look of it.

A small human figure hurried inside the building, ignoring the guards on duty.

The moment she stepped inside the front door, there was a bronze blade at her throat. "Identify yoursssself," another female voice hissed out of the shadows. The girl gave her name. "Were you followed?"

"Do you honestly think I was followed? I always cover my tracks. Now let me in. I have news for Russ," the girl retorted. The other spat on the floor, causing a minor sizzling noise as the venomous saliva ate into the concrete, but withdrew her sword and slithered away. The girl ignored the drakaina - roughly translated as 'dragon woman' - and made her way deeper into the warehouse. She crossed the fairly empty main room to a table where a man dressed in bronze body armour stood with two more of the monstrous snake-woman hybrids, all three poring over a map of NYC.

"Ah, our little sleeper agent has returned," the man chuckled, faint hints of a non-American accent in his voice. "What news from the camp?"

"They're onto us and the Chimaera. We have to move. Now. They're sending a team to check this place. Five of them, including that big Ares brute. I don't know when they'll get here," the girl stated, quickly and concisely delivering her report.

"Psh. Let them try to take this place. Five cannot outmatch more than a dozen. We have the numbers to overwhelm them and superior skill than anything that camp's teachers can produce. Brains will outmatch brawn any day of the week. Besides, I have my orders. We're to wait here until we receive further instruction. You've earned a small respite. Take the rest of the day off."

"Cheers," Carolina answered. The daughter of Aphrodite turned and headed into one of the side rooms, idly turning over a dagger in one hand. She wasn't entirely okay with being a sitting duck like the others, but orders were orders.

"Well... the obvious answer might not be suitable," Jess purred, playfully resting a hand on Brandon's leg and leaning over from her seat. "Liz could come back at any moment. We'd barely get started. Maybe later, once we have a bit more privacy. For now, though..." She moved in a bit closer and planted a kiss on Brandon's lips, holding it for a second or so before she withdrew. "A taste of what's to come," she added, a roguish smile on her face.

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