AN: Season 3 Episode 2 Ered Gets Her Cool Back
When Max asked the universe for something interesting to happen, he definitely wasn't expecting the victim of the universe's malicious machinations to be Ered.
He honestly thought her aura of "cool" was infallible. That aura was so strong, it resisted his ability to gather. Usually, the only thing stopping Max from gathering as much as he wanted from others was his own physical limitations. His brain could only hold so much information at once. Max was certain that if he tried to use the ability to its fullest potential, he'd fry his neurons and become a vegetable.
So, unconscious limitations and lack of complete control prevented Max from gathering everything about a person from the offset. But that was only temporary. As Max continued to interact with someone and use his ability whenever he felt necessary, he slowly built a psychosocial profile of the person.
99.9% of the time, these were the only limits Max had to deal with when it came to his god given gift.
That other 0.1%, however…
It was made up of two people, not including the wholly divine. Two!
And it just so happened that Ered was one of these two people. Max had yet to determine if it was due to the nature of her godly parent, or if it was an aspect of the ability she had that Max had yet to discover.
Either way, the only response to this situation that Max could come up with was the assumption that this entire scenario that is currently unfolding would be very interesting.
As the girl in question sat in the corner of the mess hall, covered in Quartermaster's mashed potatoes, Max couldn't even bring himself to laugh.
(If he considered this payment for the time when she didn't laugh as he barfed up handkerchiefs and teddy bears, it wasn't like anyone could read his mind to figure that out.)
No, Max would instead spend today watching his idiotic fellow campers attempt to fill the void Ered's loss of coolness left behind.
The fancy camera on David's phone would be getting a lot of use today. So much blackmail material, whatever will Max do with it all?
Ered may have never met her mom, having been adopted by her dads when she was a baby, but the goddess made herself known in one immensely significant way.
Before her dads taught her how to skateboard, Meredith was an uncoordinated mess of a girl. She'd trip over air if she wasn't paying close enough attention.
Add in her deep seeded fear of abandonment and rejection, and that made Meredith a prime target for bad bullies and even worse "friends".
At age eight, Meredith's mother gave her the first and only gift she'd ever received. It just so happened to be the greatest gift ever given to a godling, in Ered's opinion.
An aura of cool.
There was a certain kind of protection being mysterious gives you. People feared what they didn't understand, but mysteries were like puzzles begging to be solved. You tread around them carefully in order to avoid traps, but you didn't outright attack an unknown.
If anyone understood the power being unknowable gave you, it was Despoina, the goddess of the Mysteries of the Arcadian cults.
It was through sheer dumb luck (or divine intervention, whichever you prefer) that she found her mother. The internet had very little on the goddess, unlike the other gods and goddesses in the Greek pantheon, but as soon as she clicked on that link, Ered felt an instant connection.
It was good that neither she nor her parents were the religious type. She didn't have to worry about conflicting religious values when she realized that gods actually exist.
(Her dads were quite knowledgeable about Godlings and Legacies despite working in the criminal investigation sector of the FBI. They were also, surprisingly, the safest parents she could have gotten. Their status hid her from government scrutiny, allowing her to fly under the radar as a demigod.)
For the next four years, Ered cultivated that armor her mother had gifted her. She learned to skateboard. She asked her dads how to cook so she could be more self-sufficient and less needy. Ered fashioned her wardrobe from that of a follower to that of a trend setter, being certain to never be too outlandish. The "friends" she'd once chased after for affection now chased after her for attention and status, never realizing that the only reason she allowed them to remain as "hers" was to ensure that her newfound status wouldn't be tarnished so soon after it was received.
For four years, Ered built her image of "cool" and tied it into every aspect of her being.
By the time her dads showed her the flier for "extreme sports camp," the gift her mother gave her had sufficiently covered up all of her flaws.
Ered was safe and content with her lot in life.
It all started going downhill when she got to Camp Campbell. As soon as she stepped off the bus, Ered could feel the innate magic in the ground they walked on. She felt how her fellow godlings and legacies subconsciously grounded themselves in it. How that silver tongued kid claimed the campgrounds as soon as he could.
She also felt how her mother's gift started to fade.
Was it because of the camp? The other campers? Was there something in the water?!
Ered had no idea, and no one she could ask.
(David and Gwen, for as great as they were as counselors to chaotic demigods, were no witch nor warlock. Not like the Flower Scout's counselor was. Whatever her mother had done to make Ered "cool," they wouldn't be able to fix.)
So, Ered had to fall back on the talents she'd cultivated throughout the years in order to make up for her steadily decreasing veil of coolness.
Every word Ered spoke was meticulously chosen to maximize coolness. Every action she took was carefully thought out long before she even moved.
And for a while, that seemed to work. The natural chaos generated by the younger demigods was enough to hide her occasional misstep. Her trips and fumbles were hidden by the cloud of dirt and dust Nikki left behind as she ran to her next destination. Ered's occasional stutter was quickly forgotten in light of Space Kid's next rant on the economical benefits of space exploration.
It wasn't perfect, but her chipped armor remained intact.
All it took was a shirt tag and a pot of mashed potatoes. That's ALL IT TOOK to ruin EVERYTHING!
In that moment, Meredith felt the last of her mother's spell dissipate and blow away into the wind.
Despite the years she spent reshaping herself into the epitome of "cool," her life instantly reset after that moment.
Her body no longer felt like hers. Her feet went back to the uncoordinated mess they were when she was 4. Everything she said grated at her ears with how lame she was.
Meredith was no longer cool.
And it was then that she realized…
Who was "Ered" if she wasn't cool?
Could she even call herself "Ered" anymore?
Did "Ered" die in that fall and leave behind the useless, pathetic shell of a godling that was Meredith Miller?
This could not be allowed to happen.
Meredith would get her cool back.
No matter what it took.
When Meredith told herself that she'd become cool again "no matter what it took," she very much hadn't thought that would involve being followed by the epitome of nerdiness that was Nerris.
If Meredith was honest, she truly didn't have anything against the young girl. Her lisp was bearable and her dedication to her role playing was admirable.
The only reason Meredith had avoided the little "elf" was because everything she stood for said that to associate with Nerris was to welcome ruin on her reputation.
So as she made her way to the peak of Sleep Peak, Meredith suffered through the other girl's rambling while simultaneously trying to send her back to the others.
"But you can go back if you want. I'm used to doing things solo."
Meredith's implied dismissal was resoundingly ignored. "Me too! But usually because nobody at camp wants to go on quests with me. That's fine. More experience points for Nerris the Cute!"
Meredith could only roll her eyes and continue the arduous trek through the forest. As much as she hated this stupid crutch, she had to admit that it was unusually sturdy for a pole held together by duct tape and prayers. It was quite literally the only thing keeping her upright.
Deciding to not be yet another uncool asshole who ignored the nerdy girl's attempts at socializing, Meredith continued the conversation. "It doesn't bother you that nobody here likes what you like?"
"Sometimes, but if I just got sad about it, I'd miss out on so many quests. My dad says I'll find my party! One day."
And didn't THAT bring back memories for Meredith. Many of which she spent years repressing.
Little Meredith Miller, stumbling through her stutter to tell her "friends" about the new skateboard she got from Christmas, only to be met with condescending looks before the conversation turned back to the new teen drama movie on Disney and the "heart-throb" leading guy.
Littler Meredith Miller, tripping in the cafeteria watching as other students parted around her, but made certain to stomp and kick at the tray of food laying as helpless on the ground as she was.
Little Meredith Miller, wiping at the tears she oh so hated to shed as her dads cradled her and told her "Everything will be alright," even when Meredith knew for a fact that she would remain the clumsy, useless, friendless loser that she was right then for the rest of her days.
Shaking away the unwanted memories, Meredith continued her slow paced walk towards Camp Campbell's infamous, secret halfpipe.
A little while later, Meredith and Nerris stood at the base of the Y-Games reject of a halfpipe.
Flipping the big red switch, and ignoring the bold lettered signs surrounding it, Meredith prepared herself for the most extreme sports trick of her life.
She would get her cool back. Meredith refuses to remain as such for a moment longer.
Meredi- no. Ered, was totally not getting cold feet. It was just a half-pipe. She's shredded those since she was eight. It was just a little… higher than she was used to. She made sure to tell Nerris as such with the other girl voiced her concerns for Merid- Ered's safety.
She couldn't back out now. Not when she was so close to getting her cool back.
Turning her attention to the small specks down below that were her fellow campers and her counselors, Meredith tried syncing herself up once again.
But looking down at the steep drop of the ramp, Meredith's vision got blurry.
Backing away from the edge, Meredith shook the doubts out of her mind.
This was no time to be sacred! She needed to do this.
Like a little angel on her shoulder, Nerris's squeaky voice broke through the howling wind.
"Ered, are you sure you wanna go through with this?"
Was her fear that obvious? Hearing the distant taunts of Nurf at the bottom of the ramp, Meredith felt another surge of disgust at herself. She just kept getting more lame by the second!
"Obviously not! But I've tried everything else. None of it worked!"
"Well, maybe that's the problem."
Meredith's howling thoughts halted. "What do you mean?"
The other girl continued, seeming to jump at the opportunity Meredith's confusion presented. "I mean you never used to TRY to be cool for other people before. You were so confident, you didn't even THINK about other people. You were just...you!"
Meredith's heart stopped in anticipation.
"And that was cool."
Was that really it? Was it really that simple?
A question she never thought to ask herself…
What's more uncool than desperation?
Looking at the resolute, supportive eyes of her unwilling companion, Meredith suddenly realized something.
What has Nerris been calling me this entire time?
Ered. Nerris has been calling her Ered.
The entire time Ered thought she'd lost her cool, it was never really gone.
"Soooo, you DON'T think this will make me cooler?" Ered asked, just to make certain her conclusions were correct.
And the other girl provided when she cheerfully replied, "I'm saying, you shouldn't care about what I think."
And as sudden as the day her mother bestowed that gift upon her, Ered felt a familiar yet different power cloak over her shoulders like a well worn jacket.
Meredith is Ered.
And she was cool.
Ered had her cool back. And this time, it was under no one's power but her own.
AN: In case you couldn't tell at the end there, Ered awoke her godling ability. Think of it like a… presence gauge. She can alter her presence to be stronger or weaker. If she wants to be seen and noticed for her coolness, she strengthens it. If she wants to fade into the background and be mysterious, she can do that too. I don't know if this will ever come up again in the series, so I decided to summarize it here during her POV chapter.
If you have any questions about what the heck is going on in this story, leave a comment. If you don't have questions and just want to say something, leave a comment. If you want to bash on my horrendous writing, leave a comment! All comments are welcome in this household!