Disclaimer: Not mine. Not for profit.


Ladies and gentlemen, by now you will be aware that the world has gone into- let's put it mildly- something of a downward spiral, at least for those of us who are practitioners. The Fomor want us, and it's safe to say we won't be enjoying whatever it is they want us for. We have no proof, of course, but the lack of any returning survivors does tend to put a damper on potential peace treaties.

We minor talents are as a rule, grossly unequipped for dealing with their minions. However, we do have two things that we haven't had to date- allies, and organization.

Given below are a list of safe houses and contact numbers for each city- make sure you know them, and make sure you use them.

paranet home/help topics/rl issues

Chicago, Illinois

03:20 pm

The diner was old, shabby and populated by what could only be called suspicious characters, but it was clean and was affordable- the last thing being an important factor given that Rachel had insisted on dragging them to a shop and getting her smartphone back in working condition. Despite the fact that, you know- there was nobody they could actually call in this place.

It didn't seem to stop her from ignoring his glares in favor of tapping her stylus across the screen, however. Meanwhile, Nico sat across Rachel, staring at the two lines of incomplete prophecy written in the notebook between them, and decided to use his most caustically sarcastic voice.

"That's helpful."

Rachel finally looked up and scowled at him, "The alternative would have been worse."

"Worse?" Nico snarled, then dropped his voice to a hiss when the lone waitress shot a glare at the direction of the two raggedy kids who were taking forever with their sandwiches, "We are stuck somewhere with humanoid monsters, our powers don't work properly and we don't know what to do. How could cutting short the only thing that could have helped us get home make things better?"

Rachel managed to wrestle her wince to a frown at the last moment. She'd been reasonably used to thinking of Nico as that one weird kid who didn't hang out with anyone since Percy and Annabeth stopped being Camp regulars but occasionally wandered over to her cave to listen to her bitch about new-fangled campers who were complete wimps. Encountering pissed-off-like-hell Nico was doing a very good job of reminding her why exactly he was a loner in Camp.


"I know it would have been worse," Rachel said, feeling so certain she almost scared herself, "It would have become much worse."

A silent glare, utterly unmarred by any form of acceptance.

"Nico, believe me- it was better off not said-"

"Does it even matter if you say it or not?" Nico demanded, his voice rising above a hiss again, "It's a prophecy- it's going to happen anyway. And now we're going to have to live through it happening without any clue -"

Rachel closed her eyes, counted to ten, and tried to remind herself that Nico was likely as freaked out and stressed out than she was.

"Who is the Oracle here, you are me? I'm telling you- it was different this time-"

"Different? Different?! Remember Oedipus? Believe me when I say that one went off without a hitch despite the people involved running around like beheaded chickens trying to counter it. The Oracle always knows what will happen, it doesn't have to cause it- it's a law of the universe!"

"In case you haven't noticed, we're in another world right now," Rachel gave up on patience and snapped back, "Another world. You think that's not going to do something to your laws of the universe?"

At that point, the cook came out from the back room and flexed his impressive muscles at them. Nico looked fully prepared to charge at him (and forget the near two-feet height difference), so Rachel threw some cash onto the table before grabbing him by the collar and dragging him out of the diner. Then they walked (aimlessly wandering, more desperate for something to do than out of any semblance of direction) , the silence between them growing more oppressive with every futile step.

"You really think the Prophecy would have been- you know, bad or whatever?" Nico asked eventually, once his feelings of hopelessness managed to overtake his feelings of rage.

Rachel, who had been poking around on her smartphone for most of the oppressive silence, looked up briefly. "Possibly," she tapped a few things on her phone again, "We won't really know, will we? Also possibly, I've found a place for us to stay tonight."

"I saw a motel a last block-"

"Which one do you like better? The Castle, or the Safehouse M?" another tap, "Or the Carpenter house? But I think that's a little on the other side of town."

"What are-"

"Castle? I don't know. Castle sounds a little intimidating, doesn't it? I mean, it says here it's an actual castle and run by an alleged mob boss in partnership with a vampire, and I'm not entirely sure what I am supposed to feel about that. Maybe we should try the Safehouse first, just to be safe."

Nico deduced that an annoyed Rachel was a Rachel who was uninterested in paying much attention to him, which was actually a very Bianca-like way of dealing with things. Except Bianca was more angry than dismissive. He decided to wait it out.

A few seconds later Rachel sighed, "I'm sorry. That was a little petty," she tilted her smartphone towards him, "I found this site, and it has a pretty good description of the things that attacked us."


"They also got my feelings right," Rachel added, "Magic users -practitioners- are captured by these people and taken somewhere and they are never heard of ever again. There's this whole site- organization- with safehouses; and since we are dealing with a lot of stuff we know nothing about..."

"Magic users? Like demigods?"

"More like witches, I think. Mortals. I'm pretty sure the things that attacked us were mortal too. The mortals here are not like the mortals back home, I think."

Nico thought of gills and inhuman speed combined with the feel of mortal, and shivered, "No shit."

Rachel gave him a brief, wan smile. "I figure we'd be safer with people who know what they are doing here. It's... not ideal, but neither of us actually know what is happening here."

"What if they try to attack us?"

"What are the alternatives? Sitting here and sulking, waiting for those things to find us again?"

"I don't like this."

"Me neither, but-"

"Rachel," Nico interrupted, "I know you don't want to give me a prophecy, and I know I don't want to particularly get one. We'll try it your way, all right? We'll see what we can find out- but if this doesn't work, you are going to give me the full prophecy."

"It's not-"

"I don't care. I don't like this place, whatever it is. I want to go back home. Even if it means I'll have to go through a prophecy."

Rachel looked at Nico- stubborn and determined, and didn't reply or agree. They could cross that bridge when they came to it.

En route to Safehouse M, Chicago

07:14 pm

It wasn't like either of them consciously decided to wander around (periodically grumbling about the insanity of multiple universes) for hours; it just happened. Rachel was dragging her feet because in the (likely, she decided glumly) event that this plan didn't pan out, she was going to have to deal with Nico trying to make her give a prophecy. Nico, for his part, was a night person not very used to avoiding darkening streets, and tended to assume that nights actually started sometime after two. It worked on the principle that there was really nothing in mortal New York scarier than him, and Chicago wasn't all that different, right?

In his defense, it was initially all fine and drug dealers and muggers were keeping away from him and his giant sword as usual. Then Rachel stiffened and he barely had time to groan before two cars pulled up near them (with a lot of squealing and screeching that managed to run off a hovering drug trader really fast) and their darkened alley, and people got out.

"Mortals?" Nico blinked, his hand momentarily hesitating over his sword, "In uniforms?" If black on black with black turtlenecks counted as a uniform. Which Nico supposed it did, given their general uniformity.

"I think they're just hiding their gills," Rachel replied, moving discreetly behind him. Fountain of Knowledge it might be, but the Oracle's asskicking powers were sorely limited. Or nonexistent, as far as he knew. "You know- behind the turtlenecks."

"Rachel, I can't fight mortals!"

One of the turtlenecks helped out his moral dilemma by taking out a gun from his jacket, and shooting in their general direction. People and monsters had attempted to scratch at, claw, stab, dismember (etc.- and let's not forget that memorable occasion with uncle Zeus and his thunderbolt) Nico plenty of times before this, but this was the first time in his memory he could recall someone shooting at him. With a plain old gun.

It was a lot louder than he'd imagined it would be, and the noise it made as it hit the garbage disposal to their side was high-pitched to add to the loud, and a little bit terrifying.

"Shit," Rachel said from behind him.

Shadow travel was an option, but where to? The motel room they'd spent the last two nights in was familiar, but from all the yelling they'd been subject to this morning, the owner probably had guards posted in the room. At the very least he'd camped out there with his gun.

Another shot rang out, this time to their left, making him jump again. This was grossly unfair. His job description was supposed to include melee weapons, not freaking guns. And how the hell was he supposed to use a sword against a gun?

"Drop your weapon," the guy with the gun said, "Surrender. Come with us, and we may let you live."

"Right," Rachel muttered, but the turtlenecks were oddly quiet, and her voice carried. So did the four-letter word she said when she realized just how much her voice carried.

Nico felt utterly helpless (and ergo, something of a fail as the resident fighter), but he had a feeling drawing his sword would just get him shot for real this time, no questions asked. Why hadn't he signed up for Annabeth's shotgun classes again?

"Weaklings," Gun Guy said, looking at them with distaste, "Your feeble attempts at resistance are in vain. Submit to us, to the glory of our masters, and your pain will be... survivable."

A villain monologue? Against all forms of common sense, Nico felt himself relaxing. It made him feel like he was on firmer ground, to know that even across alternate universes, some things always stayed the same.

Rachel, whose breathing and heartbeat had slowed at the monologue (apparently it wasn't just him who found villain monologues reassuring go figure), cleared her throat, "That's not a very tempting offer."

"It is not an offer," Gun Guy said, and apparently deciding they were not going to fight back, gestured to his minions. "Take them alive, or the masters will be displeased."

The minion with the axe (Seriously? Even Clarisse thought an axe was overkill.) and another guy with a gun stepped forward, fully confident they could take on two kids (or one kid and one young adult whatever) who were clearly a little freaked out.

Nico used their momentary confidence to focus on the ground beneath him. He hadn't tried doing anything to the earth in this universe yet (it was a lot less fun than necromancy or shadow-manipulation), but he prayed this would work. Send out his super-senses to the ground, feel the rock and the soil, and bring it up from the ground before transmuting it back to rock-

For a moment, he thought it had worked. There was a tremor on the ground, a shake that somehow gave the impression of coming up. It didn't actually do anything to help them, but it made the turtlenecks pause. As one, they looked over their shoulder, dismissing Rachel and Nico. Minion with a Gun muttered an expletive under his breath, and Axe Guy looked fully terrified all of a sudden.

Well, Rachel reasoned, if a little tremor worried them that much then-

Axe looked back at their monologue-spouting leader a little nervously, "The Rag Lady-"

"Will not thwart our masters again," Gun Guy said, sounding bored, "She is far less powerful than she pretends to be. Against our numbers, she does not stand a chance."

Axe licked his lips, and Rachel got the impression that he didn't quite agree with Gun Guy. Nico was too busy trying to make something happen underground to notice the drama.

It was the roads, he realized. The roads on this street were not made of earth and they were blocking the soil. And when he tried to bring up the soil in a wall, it kinda hit the earth and stopped. There was not enough force to break through the layer, only enough to pound ineffectively at it.

In all his years of throwing rocks around, he'd never before encountered this problem.

"I freaking hate this universe," he muttered, before deciding that fine he'd play it their way.

Nico concentrated on the soil, visualizing an arc around them. One foot wide, arced a little more than a semicircle. Going down a little more than eight feet. Once he'd done that, he thought transmute to rock, and pulled it all up.

The tremor this time was decidedly more localized, and the suddenly appearing eight foot tall dark brown wall (it was not as thick as he'd thought it would be; what was up with that?) was a welcome sight.

The gaping hole that opened up for like four feet between him and Rachel, however, was mystifying. Sudden plops, grunts, cries and bullets (ineffectually striking his wall HA) from the other side seemed to indicate that a hole had opened up there too.

"What the hell I wanted to create a wall not a chasm," Nico threw up his hands, "I swear this place makes no sense-"

"Get us out of here - there's an alley on the other side of the street and to the right- you can do that shadow invisibility thing, right?"

"Are you kidding?" The surprise had apparently worn off on the other side, and Nico could hear orders from Gun Guy coming to surround his wall and breach through it. If (when, he amended bitterly) this happened again, he was going to make his walls circular, "We need to get away as far from here was possible!"

"Just do it!"

Freaking Oracles. Nico took the time to give an exasperated sigh, and did as she said. Only it turned out that he couldn't actually make shadows make him invisible anymore, and the most they could do was crouch in the shadow of another some kind of half-mutilated box people had decided not to throw into the garbage for no reason at all.

A good thing, as it turned out. He had practically collapsed to his knees when they'd appeared there. Rock walls followed by shadow travel was never a good combination. Nico leaned against the wall, fully prepared to close his eyes but unable to do it when he was still within sight of the turtlenecks. Stupid Oracles and their stupid impulses.

"We should have gone somewhere else," he gasping, "Far away."

"That's not going to help us go back."

"Why would we go back? Did you notice the guns?" He was still panting, gasping. That would teach him to overdo things.

"Because there are people in that car," Rachel told him, digging into her bag, her face set into worried lines. She came out with a celestial bronze knife.

Nico froze, his breathing getting cut off altogether for a moment. When he impulsively scanned the other side of the street for cars, he saw what Rachel had (presumably) seen- a family, tied up and gagged, fully visible from the open door of one of the cars. A little kid with short hair crying while his parents clutched him to them as much as they could with their hands tied-

Oh, that was just perfect. This universe was proving to be exactly as sadistic as the one he'd come in from.


- Text sent to the Paranet Hotline, 1857 hours. Unrecognized Number.

"turtleneck cars. lot of them. seems legit. hiding. good luck."

- Text sent to Paranet Control Room, 1905 hours.

"Servitors in 4th Street. Beauvald Avenue. Reported high numbers. Requesting action."

- Mass Text sent from Paranet Control Room, 1905 hours.

"eta 5 m. who else?"

- Text sent from Karrin Murphy's mobile, 1908 hours.

"Forces nearby. ETA 10 m."

- Text sent from Raith Control Room to Paranet CR, 1907 hours.

"vamps, 10 m. baron's people contacted. no clear eta."

- Text sent from Waldo Butters to Karrin Murphy, 1907 hours.

"batman unhappy. turtlenecks going down hard. bets?"

- Text sent from Andi O'Shea to Waldo Butters, 1908 hours.

"oracle does not place hopeless wagers, gammawolf. get changed already."

- Text sent from Waldo Butters to Andi O'Shea, 1909 hours.


- Text sent from Andi O'Shea to Waldo Butters, 1909 hours.

"kick their asses. will update as reqd. love you. :)"

- Text sent from Waldo Butters to Andi O'Shea, 1910 hours.

End Notes: Last couple of chapters updated to include possibly insignificant little changes. Just running off with a lot of random ideas. :) Will possibly run into a logic wall in future, but fun.