Joe's Note: As noted in the first chapter, this project is solely based off the versions of characters found in TinyCo's Avengers Academy game. Which means that in addition to Janet being borderline psychopathic with a fondness for random acts of violence against those who offend her? And quite possibly some people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Lady Loki has a very different origin from Earth-616. Specifically, she comes into being because Loki wanted to be included in the girl-only happenings on campus, particularly the all-female A-Force event that occurred during this past winter. Coincidently, that was the event that introduced the Dalish-influenced Archer Janet costume that inspired this story. Why am I mentioning any or all of this? Well, it's about to get really relevant to the story...
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Howard, Samuel, Dale, Alexander, Tibor, Alonsis2, MJ, Daniel, Christopher, Stephen, Crusifikz70, Chris, Fablesrogue, Morgan, Janne, Joseph, Jason, mpop, RileyWestfall, bloodylord, Zachary, Marc, Ziryo, Timothy, Leigh, Chris, George, Koby, Dimitria, William, Frank, Mitch, Mauday, Stephane, Ken, Warslick, Paul, Pat, Edward, Elliot, Roman, Joel, Warren, Jess, and mikel for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
"Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just. Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood, the Maker's will is written. Is that what you want from us? Blood? To die so that your will is done? Is death your only blessing?" Movement in the corner of her eye made Leliana straighten up slowly, taking a moment to compose her thoughts before peering over at the interloper curiously. "You speak for Andraste, no? What does the Maker's prophet have to say about all of this? What's His game?"
Janet tilted her head to one side, her brow furrowing as she stared down at Leliana contemplatively. The expression drew the lay sister's attention up to the overly simplistic - and utterly unfamiliar - vallaslin pattern that graced the elf's forehead. Given that she purported to be from another universe where elves were naught by fiction, it shouldn't have surprised Leliana that the human-turned-elf's markings didn't follow the known patterns of Thedas's elves. "We'll get back to that 'speaking for Andraste' thing in a moment, but first I've gotta know... how the hell is this a game?"
Meeting Janet's gaze, Leliana stretched one arm out in the direction of the Breach. "Do you see the sky? What about the temple ruins, the bones lying in the dust? Even if you didn't support the Divine's peace, you wouldn't call this right." She let her arm fall back to her side as she slumped, shaking her head despondently. "So many innocent lives, the faithful murdered where the holiest of holies once stood. If the Maker willed this, what is it if not a game or a cruel joke?"
"Okay, that's definitely a fair question." Janet made her way over to sit on the bundle of pelts that Leliana was kneeling in front of, carefully crossing one leg over the other and bumping her foot against Leliana's arm. When the woman looked back up at her, Janet offered a helpless shrug. "Thing is, I don't speak for the Maker or anyone but myself. Never have. Well, except for back when I was on the Debate Team. Totally different situation, though. Where I was trying to go with that, though, is that I'm not your Maker's prophet and so I have no answers for you."
Leliana slowly rose to her feet, stretching to work the kinks out of her arms and legs before offering Janet a hand up as well. For someone who fought as well - and hit as hard - as the elf did, she was surprisingly light. "You said 'your' Maker. You don't worship him, do you?" Janet shook her head rapidly, making Leliana scoff. "You're lucky; he asks a lot. The Chantry teaches that the Maker abandoned us. He demands repentance for our sins. He demands it all: our lives, our deaths. Justinia gave Him everything she had, and He let her die."
Much to her surprise, Janet lunged forward and wrapped her arms around Leliana, pulling the taller woman into a tight hug. The lay sister found herself inordinately grateful that they'd talked Janet into wearing something a bit more appropriate than the garment she'd fought the pride demon in; Janet's body was rather exquisitely feminine and Leliana had been apart from Lady Surana for far too long. Pulling away, Janet took Leliana's hands in her own as she stared up at the redhead. "Just putting this out here, but maybe you should be angry at the people who murdered her. Maybe even murder them back?"
"If the Maker doesn't intervene to save the best of His servants, what good is He? I used to believe I was chosen, just as some say you are." Gently removing her hands from Janet's, Leliana shook her head before turning away from the sympathetic-looking elf. "I thought I was fulfilling His purpose for me, working with the Divine, helping people. But now she's dead. It was all for nothing. Serving the Maker meant nothing."
Again Leliana found her hand in Janet's possession as the elf tugged on it gently, guiding Leliana out of the tent that she'd been praying in. "Well if you're having a crisis of faith, I was about to go talk to a few gods I know. Maybe you'll take a liking to one of them?" Unable to keep her surprise from showing on her face, Leliana stared at Janet's back with wide eyes as the elf pulled her along. "Just kidding, they're not actual gods. They're just really, really powerful beings from another world that the humans on Earth used to worship back in the day. Except for Amora. Nobody worshipped her. Probably because she's too bitchy to attract any worshippers. And basic. So, so basic."
The explanation... actually only left Leliana with more questions. Beings from another world beyond the one that Janet lived on? They were in contact with other worlds? How? How many worlds were there? How did one travel between worlds, if these beings were coming to Earth and influencing its people? What did basic mean in that particular context? All those things and more swirled through the lay sister's head as Janet led her through the camp, out the western gate, and off into the woods. They quickly left the well traveled paths behind, delving deeper into the forest than Leliana had ever personally dared. Eventually, Haven grew so distant that Leliana found herself wondering... "Are we actually going to meet anyone, or do you mean to kill me where it's less likely that someone will stumble over the body?"
Janet stumbled to a stop, whirling around to stare at Leliana in disbelief. "You think I'm... no! God! If I was going to kill you, I'd just do it. Probably in the middle of Haven to serve as a warning to anyone else thinking of crossing me." Oh. Well that was... reassuring? "No, I wanted to put some distance between us and the masses because I don't want them freaking out over... Heimdall! Can you hear me? I don't know if I can leave this world because of this stupid mark on my hand, but can you send someone down to talk to me?"
Silence descended on the clearing that they'd stopped in, broken only by the calls of distant birds. Just as Leliana was ready to write the whole thing off as a terrible joke born of a strange sense of humor, a pillar of coruscating rainbow light stabbed downward out of the sky, slamming into the ground in front of them. The snow quickly melted to reveal naked earth that began to smolder, the pillar burning a strange and almost dwarven-looking pattern into the ground. Then a pulse of energy raced downward through the pillar, slamming into the ground and kicking up enough dust to thoroughly obscure the clearing. The pillar of rainbow light abruptly dispersed, allowing the dust to slowly settle, and then they were no longer alone in the clearing. "Bug Woman. And here I'd thought that I was finally rid of you."
The newcomers were... imposing was the most polite term that Leliana could think of. Not on the scale of qunari, who were positively massive, but she was reasonably certain that both Cullen Rutherford and Cassandra would have to look up to meet either woman's eyes. The one who had greeted Janet - if one wanted to call it that - had pitch black hair, piercing green eyes, and was adorned in a mixture of black and green leather accented with gold, a brown fur cape resting on her shoulders. Her eyes were cool and calculating, but with a hint of mischief to them as she looked Leliana up and down slowly. It was as if someone had married Morrigan's aura of barely restrained power with Isabela's penchant for mischief and mayhem, and wasn't that an entirely terrifying thought?
Her companion also reminded Leliana of Morrigan but for a completely different reason. If the dark-haired woman was Morrigan's power, the blonde standing beside her was Morrigan's personality. Actually, she possessed Morrigan's power as well; perhaps it was more accurate to say that she was a taller, blonde Morrigan with slightly more conservative taste in clothing? Slightly because while the blonde's outfit covered more than Morrigan's preferred attire, the green, black, and gold outfit still revealed significant amounts of cleavage, midriff, and leg. It served to highlight that both of the new arrivals were voluptuous to a degree that left Leliana in an awkward position: she honestly couldn't decide if she wanted to be one of them or be with one of them. Or both, perhaps.
No! She had Neria!
Who was halfway across Thedas on a long-term mission, making it doubtful that she would ever find out about any illicit liaisons that Leliana might indulge in. And judging by the knowing look on the dark-haired woman's face, she was likely amenable...
"Loki!" Janet dashed forward, launching herself at the dark-haired woman and wrapping her legs around the woman's waist as she hugged her tight. "Ohmigod! I wasn't expecting you but now that you're here, we're going to have so much fun. Wait until you see some of the fashions here in Thedas, you're going to love them. And the dancing... I've been by the pub and it's awful. You have so much to show them."
Loki arched an eyebrow at that before turning her attention to Leliana, looking the lay sister up and down thoughtfully. "So that's your plan, then? A combination of appealing to my better nature and bribery to convince me to assist you with whatever insane plot you're currently involved in? It's not a bad idea, honestly, but if your friend there is an example of what the people around here dress like, I can't say that I'm terribly interested."
Dropping back to her feet in front of Loki, Janet kept one arm around the taller woman's waist as she looked from Loki to Leliana and back. "What, her? Pfft, she's with the Chantry. And if you think that's bad, wait until you see what the mothers and grand clerics wear. No, I've been doing a lot of reading when I'm not busy killing demons and sealing rifts for these guys. How would you feel about combining your Frost Giant Pride phase with your Mistress of Mischief phase? Because if you're interested, let me tell you about these people called the qunari..."
"Why waste time talking?" Bringing a hand wreathed in eldritch energy up to cup Janet's face, Loki's eyes began to glow with the same power as she locked gazes with the elf. After a few seconds, she pulled away from Janet and began to... change... her body growing even taller as her skin took on a blue cast. The horned, golden headdress that Loki had been wearing when she arrived melted away, making way for a pair of dusky qunari horns adorned by gold decorations. "Oh you're right, Bug Woman. I like this. I like this a lot. You're still going to owe me an outfit for this form, though."
Before Leliana could process any of what she'd just witnessed - that Loki had magic that could tear memories out of a person's head, that she could shapeshift, that she was quite probably a member of a completely unknown species given Janet's statements, that her people had some sort of teleportation magic capable of bridging the gap between wherever Janet came from and Thedas - the hitherto silent blonde finally spoke. "Ahem. What about me?"
Given that Janet had been almost unfailingly bubbly and friendly to everyone that Leliana had introduced her to - Chancellor Roderick being a noteworthy exception - the lay sister found the look that the elf shot Loki's companion to be uncharacteristically cold. "What about you? I still don't like you and you don't like me. Why are you even here?"
"Well I wasn't going to let Loki come help you alone."
"Because adventures mean new outfits and I also like free clothes? And yours are generally satisfactory?"
"I don't care what you say, Amora, that's still not actually a compliment."
If this was how gods - or beings capable of passing as gods - behaved, Leliana mused, perhaps she should be considering atheism rather than a conversion...