Chapter 4: The Great Reveal

"Ahh, this is the life," Neil sighed, then paused to glare at everyone, "Or at least it would be if I didn't have to wear so many layers to cover up my fur! Fashion disaster, much…"

Neil was complaining an awful lot for someone wearing a wife beater and a light jacket to cover up, as well as jeans and a comically large sun hat. However, being in Mexico, he was right to a degree as the air was humid and almost palpable.

Herry too felt like he was wearing too much, as he was in a similar situation having to cover his bothersome paws.

"No flip-flops for me," Herry grumbled.

Meanwhile, Jay was fine in his usual yellow and purple polo t-shirt, with navy blue shorts as all he had to cover was his teeth. Always the precautious, careful man though, he wore a blue, surgical mask just in case, and decided it was a better fate than being way too hot like Neil and Herry. As well, he decided that if any passerbyers were to this mask, they would merely assume he was germaphobic, not a descendant of a Greek hero undergoing transfiguration to become some sort of animal. His hair was a bit shaggy though, he thought absently, wondering if he should perhaps get a haircut soon.

Atlanta had attempted to cover her claws by trimming them a bit, which seemed to work for the time being. She wore a light blue jean jacket to cover her black dotted arms and, to her dismay, a long skirt that would cover her tail.

Archie sported a white t-shirt and a baseball cap for his ears; he wore a pair of green shorts and bore a smirk as he looked at Atlanta.

"You look…" Archie smirked.

"Shut up." Atlanta snapped.

"I was going to say nice!" he rose his hands defensively, chuckling lightly, "Girly… but nice!"

"Ain't nothing wrong with looking girly, Archie," Theresa commented absently, passing by the couple adorning a flowing, yellow sundress, a straw sun hat, and adjusting a pair of brown sunglasses for her eyes.

"I didn't mean it like that," Archie mumbled, eyeing Atlanta forlornly as she batted at him, "I don't know, it's not every day you see the descendant of Artemis wearing a skirt!"

Walking slightly behind them, Odie wore what he always did, seeing as it did the job to cover his clawed talons and feathery arms. He was having struggles though with moving and felt his head bobbing forward with each step. He silently prayed to the Gods he wasn't turning into a chicken.

As the seven approached the hotel they were planning at staying at, Jay reached into his pocket and eyed the credit card that Hermes was letting him use. He definitely wasn't going to abuse this favour the Gods were doing them, especially not by renting a lavish hotel for them to use especially since they were just using it for storage while they were in search of Circe. In fact, the place was kind of a dump, and the guy at the desk gave the heroes weird, skeptical looks as they entered.

"One room, please!" Jay said, placing the credit card as the guy shrugged.

"Alright, and for how long?" said the man behind the counter after a second of typing something up on a computer.

"For a week," Jay shrugged after a few moments, trying to estimate how much time at most it would take them to restore their normal bodies. They would only be in Mexico until sunset, and after that they would be on Circe's island, Aeaea.

Jay grabbed the room key and approached the others, sitting bored in the lounge chairs.

"Only one?" Neil asked.

"Yeah, that's all we need." Jay reminded him, "We're just leaving our luggage there since we leave before sunset, and when we get back, we can probably rent something better. Anyway, anyone else hungry?"

After dumping their luggage upstairs on the second floor, the team ate dinner at a stand along the beach. When they were about done, the sky was still bright, but the heroes decided to wait it out until sunset so they could reach the island.

"What time does it start to get dark again? 7:00, right?" Neil asked, continuing when he saw the others nod, "Then, what, we have an hour to kill?"

Odie shrugged, and lay back in the sand, "I guess so… what do you guys want to do? We can't do really do anything much else besides sit around without attracting more attention than we already are…"

"Just chill?" Atlanta suggested, fanning her face with her hands, "I think it's way too hot here…"

"I think half of that 'cos of the fur," Archie said.

"Let's go get a coconut!" Theresa declared suddenly, standing up and brushing some sand off of her sun dress.

"From the palm trees?" Herry asked incredously.

"No, from that vendor over there!" Theresa called out, holding her hand over her eyes to block out that sun, "You guys want to go? I haven't had a fresh coconut since the last time my dad took me."

Odie nodded excitedly, standing to his wobbly feet before toppling over sadly, "Uh, better not, haven't mastered the whole walking-thing yet…"

"I'll go!" Archie called, standing up and pulling Atlanta with him, "And Atlanta will too."

"Jay?" Theresa asked hesitantly, face flushed as she thought about the night before.

"Yeah, sure, why not?" Jay grinned behind his mask, standing up and pulling at the hem of his shirt.

A man with dark skin and black hair stood behind his stall, putting on a show for a couple of enthralled tourists watching in awe as he pulled out a huge machete and chopped off the green husk of a coconut. He used the blade to poke a hole in the top too, then popped a straw in and handed it to one of the people in line.

"Here, let's go!" Theresa smiled, walking up into the line.

"How much for seven?" Jay asked the man.

"250 Pesos," the man stated, holding out his hand for the money.

Jay raised his arm to pay, but Atlanta stopped him and whispered in his ear, "You're supposed to haggle, Jay… Coconuts should be about $3 each, so that's about 30 Pesos each!"

"Oh," Jay said, and then turned to the man, "How about 200 Pesos?"

"230!" he haggled.

"Fine," Archie cut it with a shrug.

Jay handed the man 230 Pesos, who then immediately turned around and grabbed seven coconuts, pulled out his machete again, and got to work chopping and hacking before dropping straws into each product.

"Thanks," Theresa smiled, taking two of the coconuts off the table and into her arms

Jay grabbed two, Archie grabbed two, and Atlanta grabbed one before they hurried back to their friends.

"Who's thirsty?" Theresa asked, handing one to Herry as his hand shot up for one.

Odie gratefully took one from Archie and took a large sip, "Ahhh, that's the stuff."

"Neil." Jay rolled his eyes and passed one to his furry companion who was looking at him with large eyes underneath his sunglasses.

Half an hour later, Theresa went back to the stall and got the man to cut them all open so they could eat the jelly inside; after fifteen minutes, they were done and ready for the sun to sink, feet buried in the sand and stomachs content.

"Finally!" Neil cried out as the sky changed to an orange yellow hue, "Let's get this show on the road!"

He stood up and stretched his arms out, only pausing when he saw the others look at him strangely, "What? Do I have something on my face?"

Herry stood up beside him and looked down, a good 2 feet taller than the narcissist all of a sudden.

"Whoa, Herry, you grew!" Neil exclaimed.

"No, Neil. You shrunk!" Atlanta pointed out, standing up beside Neil.

"Whoa, what!?" Neil asked, "That's crazy!"

Theresa sighed, "Guys, let's just get this over with so Neil can stop complaining."

Then, just like her vision, everybody lined up along the beach, concentrating hard on the Latin words Persephone had taught them.

Theresa spread her arms as wide as they would go, "Pario a semita"

Suddenly, all the other people on the beach seemed to fade away as the ocean split in two and their path arose.

"Come, let's go!" Theresa said, motioning for them to follow as she took a hesitant step onto the pathway. In the far distance, she could see the island, a small, brown blip on the horizon.

"It's such a long walk!' Neil complained first, pointing at the horizon, "Look how long this path is! Anyone else seeing this?"

"Neil, shut up and concentrate," Archie snapped at a light jog.

"I can't, I have this horrible back pain!" Neil moaned, "And look! I'm walking with a hunch! And you guys are getting taller… and I can't feel my nose. Why is the ground coming up so fast? Why are my fingers so sharp? WHY AM I NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES!?"

The last sentence got everybody to freeze and turn around to stare at Neil; or at least, where Neil had been.

He was gone.

"Hello? Still here!" a voice squeaked from below, "Stop being tall!"

They averted their gaze to the ground where, just sitting there, was furry critter poking its head out from Neil's old clothes.

"You're a possum!" Atlanta laughed suddenly, grabbing Neil by his bushy, white tail and hanging him upside down for everybody to see, "You're so small, that's awesome!"

They all burst out laughing and Neil angrily squeaked at them, "Shut up!"

"I don't know how, but I feel like this is some sort of karma," Odie laughed.

Suddenly, the path started to shrink.

"Guys, keep concentrating!" Theresa reminding them, snapping everyone back to attention as she began holding her arms out and whispering the mantra, "Pario a semita, pario a semita..."

The path stopped shrinking.

"Guys, we have to go fast, the path will disappear when the sun goes down, whether or not we've made it!" Theresa warned, picking up the pace and sprinting down the path, "We don't have much longer and it's getting harder to concentrate!"

Jay nodded, going into leader mode, "Theresa's right. Come on, Neil, you can ride on my shoulder."

Neil squeaked indignantly as Jay snatched him from Atlanta's grip and dropped him onto his shoulder before sprinting after Theresa.

Atlanta nodded at the others and sped past Theresa and Jay, using her super speed; she was at the island in a matter of seconds.

She stopped as soon as she set foot on the island and gasped at what she beheld.

Despite the beautiful golden sand along the coast, the forest beyond was not in good shape; the brushes were withering and thirsty, the trunks of the few palm trees were small and hunched over, and no flowers sprouted from the yellow and brown, dried-up grass. She walked up to the treeline and knelt down to run her fingers through the dry dirt, crisp and molded together in clumps and she could smell the salt coming off of it. No life could grow from this.

Further past into the once-green forest, she noticed that the trees had no leaves and a few were broken at the trunks as if there had been a harsh wind that had blown the trembling spines of the trunks over. Something was wrong with this place, the land was clearly suffering and she did not see or hear any wildlife. She silently wondered if Circe was even here or if the place was empty and abandoned.

"What a mess…" Atlanta muttered under her breath, wondering in dismay if it was pollution that had somehow tainted the island.

Atlanta was about to sit down on the sand and wait for the others, when she felt a prickling sensation all over her body like needles, and shivered.

"Ow!" she mumbled, looking down at her legs which were now yellow and covered with black splotches.

She guessed the spots were all over her now and frowned in realization as she realized what she was becoming, "I'm changing into a freaking Cheetah!"

She looked back over the horizon just as the others came pounding up; Herry's skin had changed to a dark brown and his stomach looked plump, he ran with a hunch. Archie now had black hair, his mohawk as dark as night and Atlanta was tempted to laugh. He too ran with a hunch, and as he ran up to meet her, she almost freaked out as she watched black fur suddenly sprout all around his body, covering his face and melding with his hair. His hands changed to paws, along with his feet, and his legs and arm muscles seemed to be changing too. A muzzle sprouted from his face.

"Atlanta!" he barked out, suddenly succumbing to his hunch and falling forward onto all fours and crumpling in a ball in pain. She could see bones shifting and rearranging in his back through the fabric of his jacket, and even heard a crack which caused her to wince. After a few seconds, a black, furry, four-legged animal emerged from the clothing, wiggling a paw out of his Archie's old sleeves and padding over to her, "Oh, whoa…"

Archie looked down in surprise at himself; he was a black wolf.

"Weird…" Atlanta offered, scratching him behind the ear.

He growled softly, now fully changed into a wolf, not a trace of his humanity left other than his voice and soul.

"Well this sucks…" Archie sighed, looking behind him as the others approached, the path narrowing before closing off completely as they reached land.

"This island is speeding up the change!" Odie whined sadly, pulling off his jacket to reveal two full fledge black wings, his hands gone, "God, what am I? A Crow? A Raven?"

"Whoa, what's with you?" Theresa questioned Archie, the large wolf glaring at something deeper in the forest.

"Who?" Odie blurted, turning his head an almost 180 degrees to see who Theresa was referring to.

Suddenly, Odie crumpled to the ground, shrinking tinier and tinier as his nose turned a golden hue and hardened into a sharp beak, curving drastically. His eyes widened in shock as he continued to shrink to at a quarter his size until he was completely submerged in his old red jacket.

"No, I'm as small as Neil," Odie cooed as he struggled under the cloth frantically, beak clacking when he managed to hop out.

"I'm an Owl!?" Odie screamed in surprise, his voice rather big for his small body. However, he was silently thankful for not being a chicken, but he could have at least appreciated the size.

"Well, on a happier note… you can fly?" Atlanta offered. She picked up the feathery, black owl, staring the the depths of his wise-looking eyes before perching him on her shoulder.

"Still, look how small I am!" Odie protested, flapping his wings experimentally, seemingly unable to get over the topic.

Herry frowned, "Uh oh… ugh, I don't feel so good! I hope I don't turn into a small rat, I don't think I have it in me."

Short, brown fur protruded from his face suddenly, then all over his body; a muzzle stretched out from his face, his eyes shifted from dark brown to a light chestnut colour and shrunk to round circles. He looked like he was putting on muscly weight, and suddenly, his clothes ripped off of him as he sank to the ground on all fours heavily, his ears flipped up much like Archie's now.

"I'm a… Grizzly Bear?" Herry asked quietly, confused.

"Appears so," Odie chimed grumpily, trying to scratch his head with his feathery wing.

"Looks like you're the only guy left!" Theresa shook her head in disbelief at Jay.

"I feel fine," he said doubtfully, as he felt something shift underneath his skin. He willed it to stop with a hard grimace.

"It's getting dark, you guys… do you think we should call it a night and find Circe's Water Mansion in the morning?" Theresa asked them all, swishing her tail nervously.

She got many squeaks, roars, and nods of reply.

"So where are we staying? Should we camp out on the beach? The forest looks a bit dreary," Atlanta said.

"And not to mention creepy," Neil added, his red eyes reflecting the moonlight.

"Well, Neil, you and I are nocturnal," Odie said, "Technically, you and I could go exploring some more… but maybe we better stay behind with the rest of the group."

"No, Odie, that's a really good idea," Jay grinned, "Check out what's ahead so we know what to expect tomorrow, just for about thirty minutes or so and return. The rest of us with opposable thumbs will try and start a fire before we head off to sleep."

Neil looked apprehensively at the forest ahead of him, but with the urging calls and hoots of Odie, padded in until the small possum was no longer in sight. The remaining team of animals and humans all settled down comfortably on the soft sand.

The air was warm and humid, but still slightly chilly when the wind blew past.

"I'm cold," Atlanta declared after a few minutes, slightly wishing she had fully transformed so she had more fur.

"Well, that sucks," Herry murmured sleepily, "I'm soo warm, think I might just hibernate for a bit."

"I don't think that's how it works, Herry," Atlanta smiled before curling up next to him, "But alright, you have deemed yourself worthy of being my blanket for tonight."

Behind the two, Archie huffed, silently wondering why he had to be the wolf and why Herry got to be the big 'ol cozy Grizzly Bear.

In the end, everyone curled up with Herry for more warmth.

A/N: SO, THAT WAS A REALLY LONG GAP IN UPDATING SO I HOPE YOU GUYS DON'T HATE ME. Let me know what you think, I'll try to be a bit speedier on the next update since this chapter wasn't too long. So we still gotta figure out what Jay and Theresa are, but that'll be in the next installment.

Anyway, please review and let me know what you think - it keeps me writing and updating! I honestly had forgotten for a while since I JUST got done with exams and am now finally graduated and such, until I got a review reminding me! See you suckas next time (there will be more content, promise)