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Jeffery Zimmerman

Giza, Egypt

A light breeze tossed about the desert sand around the Giza Pyramid complex. Hundreds upon thousands of tourists flocked to the site, since they hoped to see the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. However, unbeknownst to the tourist travel below, a man, hidden by his god-granted powers, hovered over the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Son of Osiris, after he had used an excessive amount of his powers, would teleport to this Egyptian relic and meditate there while his magical strength was restored.

Once the aura given off by these Egyptian pyramids had revitalived his powers, the Son of Osiris opened up a warp-gate with his magical abilities. When he passed through this mystical construct, the Son of Osiris bypassed the thousands of miles and several hours worth of travel with only a few steps. One moment, he was hovering over the Great Pyramid. The next, he was standing in the Immortal’s base of operations.

He found Odysseus leaning back in a chair facing a monitor that was showing a rerun of a press conference from earlier that evening.

“About time you showed up,” Odysseus mentioned once he noticed that Osiris had entered the room. “You’re a wanted man.”

For what reason?

“You can hear it for yourself,” Odysseus answered the question that he heard in his head. He then snatched up the remote and dialed up the volume so that his fellow Immortal could hear the woman speaking on the television screen.

“—have Hound Dog’s assistance as well. Who cannot be here due to a broken arm. That said if there are any metas gifted in healing Poseidon would like to speak with you, like Osiris of the Immortals,” the recording of Briley Patton announced, probably for the umpteenth time this evening.

“I wonder what that rookie got himself into to land him into the hospital? Probably went head first against those Hounds. Dumbass.”

I guess that makes you a dumbass, too.

“I ain’t no rookie.”

Well, I better go down there. God know how long that kid has been cooped up in a hospital bed.

“Could be a trap.”

Possible, yet unlikely. Poseidon Energies does not seem to have such devilish intentions.

Once again, Osiris opened up the warp gate and walked through it. This time, he found himself standing in front of the Poseidon Energies Pacific Point facility. He was not sure where the boy, whom he first met during the Game Genie’s attack on the city, was being kept. He assumed that someone here could at least point him in the right direction. And if nobody happened to be home, he could try tomorrow, although he wouldn’t want the electric hero to suffer any more than he needs to.

The Son of Osiris suddenly heard a noise from the side of the building. He decided he better check it out, just in case someone was trying to do something dastardly against Poseidon Energies. However, what he found was something he was not expecting. Hidden away from the lights given off by the Poseidon Energies’ building, there stood what looked like a woman in a white colored power suit with angelic wings. Her armor was cracked in places and covered with dirt and grime, which tainted its normally pure white color. What Osiris thought was the most peculiar thing about this was that it sounded like the woman’s sobs were being translated through a voice synthesizer.

“He needs your help,” the woman finally told the Son of Osiris.

Don’t worry. I’m here to find the location of the boy.

The woman paused for a moment, as if she was unnerved by Osiris’ telepathic communication. However, the distraught woman pushed through this unusual experience.

“No, not him,” She said while still crying. “Chris.”

You know where he is?

The woman nodded, before continuing.

“And I need him to get me out of this thing. I tried pulling it off, but—”

She then held up her left arm. The Son of Osiris was shocked to see that she was missing her hand. However, instead of some sort of bloody wound, only wires and tubes stuck out of the opening of her wrist, which revealed that there was not an arm in there, or perhaps even a person.

Kelly Brown | Jeanette Forestier | Samantha Kadowsky | Zac Wilson

Zac dashed out of Washington Park while carrying a straggler bystander out of harm's way. Ever since he, Kelly, and Sammy found the Silver Sorceress terrorizing the Albany city park, Zac had been zipping around the immediate vicinity to make sure people were not in the line of the SIlver Sorceress’ fire. As long as the magical villainess was around, nobody was safe.

After Zac had helped the bystander across Madison Avenue, he dashed back to the epicenter of the Silver Sorceress’ attack. On his way there, he gave out a sigh of relief that he did not spot any more civilians left to be endangered by the Silver Sorceress’ magic. When he returned, Zac found that Kelly and the Silver Sorceress were still gridlocked in their magical duel. However, this was not flashy like something you might see in Harry Potter or some other generic fantasy movie. Instead, it was more akin to a mental game of chess, where each spellcaster would try to find a weakness in the other’s strategy and exploit it. Since he guessed that his girlfriend needed to focus her entire concentration on the Silver Sorceress, Zac knew better than try to interrupt.

At that same moment, both Sammy and Jeanette also returned to the rendezvous point. Jeanette was still battling the major gusts of winds that the Silver Sorceress had summoned, since she basically had sails for arms. Therefore, whatever help she could provide was limited until something was done about the winds. Sammy, on the other hand, did not have that same problem.

“I had to save some kid’s cat from a tree just to get her to get her to safety.” Sammy complained aloud.

Zac, however, just placed a finger up to his lips and then pointed towards Kelly and the Silver Sorceress in an attempt to tell Sammy to keep quiet.

Meanwhile, an opportunity seemed to have opened up for Kelly. While for the entire time the Silver Sorceress had kept her attention on the brunette standing in front of her, for just a moment, turned his gaze away, as if she sensed something happening far away across the country. At that moment, Kelly tried to press her advantage to end this magical duel and stop the Silver Sorceress’ plan. Such a mistake like this was just what Kelly had been waiting for.

Yet, even with this opening, the Silver Sorceress was not down and out. Instead, it soon became apparent that the Silver Sorceress had not been exerting all of her energy on the duel until she was on her heels. But just like a cornered rabid animal, the Silver Sorceress swung back with an overwhelming blast of magical energy. Since Kelly might have pressed the advantage a little too much, she was caught off guard by this counterattack and was thrown backwards by the impact of the magical blast. She landed with a hard thud in front of her three friends and allies.

“Sorry, darlings,” the Silver Sorceress declared as she approached the four young metahumans like a predator does its prey, “I would love to prolong this little tussle, but I have a bitch to fry. So I just have to end this with one fell swoop.”

She then snapped her fingers while mumblings an incantation. Suddenly, Zac, Kelly, and Sammy’s feet (or serpentine tail in Sammy’s case) began to sink into the ground, almost as if they had fallen into quicksand. And just like quicksand, the more the three metahumans struggled, the faster they sank into the park’s soil. It was not long before they were shoulder deep into the ground.

Jeanette did her best to do what she could. Since the Silver Sorceress thought she had achieved victory, the powerful winds had died down to a gentle breeze, allowing her to take advantage of her flying abilities. However, even when she tried to pull Sammy out of the terrestrial trap, she could not raise her up faster than she was sinking. Once their heads had all but submerged under the earth, Jeanette in vain scratched at the soil with her feet talons, since her avian hands were useless at such a task.

“What am I going to do?” Jeanette asked herself aloud.

The Silver Sorceress, on the other hand, had summoned an incorporeal parchment that had several names scribbled on it. Using her finger, she crossed out the first name on the list.


Once that was done, the Silver Sorceress used her magical abilities to teleport herself out of the park, leaving the harpy-like heroine wondering what she could do to help her friends, if she could even help them at all.
<Snipped quote by Dedonus>

Did Ded just make dirty joke? I think he did.


No.
<Snipped quote by HenryJonesJr>

New Characters are fun. I need to do something for Barron and Eva needs a post but most of her post is fillers as I need to bump the time she spends before she can meet up again with Berry. On another note might ping Ded and see if Hound Dog got his Osiris character's contact info. HD is bed ridden for a while and the healing power Ded's guy has would be great for helping a guy get it back up. Err out of the hospital that is. But I hope to have more shenanigans in Pacific point soon, got a NPC Villain who needs to get Hound Dog's attention. Also more Voyager - Hound Dog crossovers would be really fun. Kinda a quick run down of where I am.


Seems like the Son of Osiris is going to be a busy man. hehe

Aubrey Adkins

Home at last. I was starting to believe this night would never end. I have been shot at or almost shot at way too many times this evening, first by that metahuman who interrupted the charity event and then the Hounds trying to kill me and Slipstream, the speedster girl I just met tonight. Or rather last night, since it is already a few hours past midnight. Anyways, I’m tired, hungry, and in a dire need of a shower. But I can’t fall asleep in clothes that had been drenched with blood and sweat! But the real question is do I eat first?

While I contemplated this ‘problem,’ so to speak, I cracked open the skylight window of my apartment. I found that this way, as opposed to one of my side windows (or God forbid, my front door), provides an entrance obscured from a bystander’s curious eye, especially at night. Once the window was opened, I entered my apartment on a web strand just like a spider descending to the floor from a ledge. I made sure that my landing was soft so that I would not disturb my neighbor below me. With one final yank on a webline connected to skylight window, I was finally within the safe confines of my home.

I decided the first thing on my to-do list was get myself out of this costume. I tiptoed over to my closet, side stepping around some dirty laundry spread out over my bedroom floor. When I slide open my closet door, I was half surprised that the dress that I wore to the charity event earlier that evening was hanging up before my eyes. I guess that meant my decoy that Athena conjured made it back, although I didn’t see any other signs of her.

After pushing the dress to one side, I began searching for something comfortable to wear. I finally settled on a grey t-shirt that I “borrowed” from Will. While the shirt was a little oversized for my boyfriend, it still had sentimental value to him since it was ’08 NFC Champions shirt when the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl. I then pulled out one of the yoga pants that Athena had refashioned so that it could fit my spideresque lower body.

Now for the tricky part. Normally, I would just use my power-nullifying band to swap out my superheroine costume for my civilian threads. However, I don’t know where my costume goes when it gets swapped out. That’s definitely on my list of questions for Athena whenever I see her next. Since I used it quite a bit this night, I suppose I should probably throw it into the wash. Honestly, the only difficult part of taking off my costume is when I have to remove it from my spider-half. I can pull off the human-half of my costume like a regular shirt, while my boots (if you could even call them that) come off like four pairs of socks, although my hind legs do require some flexibility on my part. It’s just I cannot easily get leverage for pulling my costume off my spider abdomen. The only option that I have found was to attach some weblines on the posterior of my costume, tie the other end onto something sturdy, and gently pull it off.

Once I finally pulled off my costume, I covered myself back up with the grey t-shirt I had retrieved from my closet. Before that, however, I also removed the two bras I had been wearing. While it does help hide my secret identity, after a few hours wearing a bra that uses some technological mumbo-jumbo to make my bust appear smaller, the compression effect starts to get on your nerves. Then I gathered up whatever dark color clothes that were lying on the floor and shoved them, along with my Arachne costume, into my washing machine.

Clothes cleaned? Check. Now to tell my stomach to shut up. I darted straight towards my refrigerator and acquired the tub of strawberry ice cream from the freezer. After I found the ice cream scoop in one of my kitchen drawers, I dished out several scoops into a bowl. Before I returned the ice cream carton back into the fridge, I added few more scoops, just to make sure I got my fill.

Two down. Two to go. I grazed on my strawberry ice cream while I quietly walked over to my apartment’s bathroom, making sure that the tapping of my eight legs would not disturb my neighbor below. But when I entered the bathroom, I peered at the bathtub, then at my shower, then down at my arachnid abdomen. There was no way I was going to fit my spider-half without being incredibly uncomfortable. I already knew the shower was out of the picture, but I surprisingly have never tried to fit into my nice tub.

I continued to munch on my ice cream while I contemplated on what I was going to do. In the end, I decided that I needed to activate my power-nullifier. Sure, I would have to remain in my drider form for a few hours in the morning, but it was a sacrifice I had to make. As the tub’s basin filled with warm water, I finished up my bowl of ice cream. Once the water’s temperature was to my liking, I slid into the tub after I turned on my power-nullifier.

Considering how my night had went, I probably should feel fortunate that I can have a belly full of ice cream and can enjoy a heated bath after facing two near-death experiences. Things could have gone down way worse, not only for me, but also for Slipstream and Chris’ girlfriend. I can’t quite put my finger on her name. Anyways, now I have three things on my list checked off. Sleep is the last thing on the list. I just have to make sure I don’t dose off in the tub.




Kensei wandered through the streets of Pacific Point. He had heard rumors that there was a joroguma at large within this American city. Whenever Kensei was on the hunt for supernatural beings, especially those which are particularly apt at remaining undetected to humans. In these situations, Kensei’s most valuable asset is the Staff of Birog, an item that he had acquired many ages ago. Normally, Kensei would keep the dangerous and valuable items that he had acquired on his journeys under lock and key. Nevertheless, there are some that are safe enough for his use. The Staff of Birog allows its wielder to detect and follow supernatural beings and items.

His wild goose chase for this joroguma finally led the legendary Japanese warrior to a gated apartment complex that, from his sources, was reserved for the models of a men’s magazine called Viera. Kensei was not at all surprised that a joroguma would be drawn to this sort of occupation. This was almost too easy.

Once Kensei was out of sight, he activated the tracking abilities of the Staff of Birog. However, the readings given of by the mystic item shocked the samurai warrior. There was only a weak magical presence here. Yet, this was definitely the epicenter of the energy. Kensei was puzzled by this. The staff would have given him a different signal if a juroguma happened to inhabit the premises, but was absent at the moment. This was different.

Was Kensei wrong about his suspensions? He knew for a fact that there was an individual like a joroguma among the Pax Metahumana terrorists. But maybe this was just a case of misidentification.

Therefore, Kensei jotted down the address of the apartment complex and then departed. He still had plenty of time to investigate this mystery.

December 24th, Eight Years in the Future

Little Courtney Wilson sat on the kneelers as if they were a kiddie chair while she scribbled in her “Disney Princess” coloring book with her crayons. Once she had finished her coloring job on an entire page, she picked up the book with two hands and showed it to her mother.

“Do you like it, mommy?”

“It’s beautiful,” Kelly told her toddler while their family of three waited for their church’s Christmas eve service to begin. Once her daughter had received her approval, the young girl turned the page and started to color the now blank canvas.

“Mommy, can I sit next to Aunt Sammy when she gets here?”

“Sure. She should be here in a few minutes.”

At the moment, Courtney was seated between Kelly and Zac, so that they might keep an eye on her. The church choir was warming up prior to the beginning of the surface, which provided a little entertainment while people trickled into the church. The church itself had been already decked with garland and a few plain Christmas trees as festive decorations.

“Time sure has flown by.” Zac told his wife, since it seemed as if it was just yesterday that they got married. Now they had a little one to look after. And before either of them knew it, she would be all grown up in a blink of an eye.

“I know,” Kelly agreed with her husband, “It seems like everyone is settling down. We had Courtney. Aubrey had Kristen and Ryan. Kyle and…”

“Wait, when did Aubrey have a second kid? I don’t remember her being pregnant.” Zac interrupted his wife in mid-sentence with his realization.

“I don’t either, but I know for sure she has two kids. Want me to text her?”

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not dying to know.”

Nevertheless, despite Zac’s answer, Kelly pulled out her cell phone and sent a quick text to Aubrey. Meanwhile, Courtney had pealed her eyes away from her coloring book for long enough to catch sight of someone entering the church.

“Mommy! Aunt Sammy is here!” Courtney pointed to her mother, who immediately dropped her phone back into her purse before standing up to greet her best friend.

“Merry Christmas!” Kelly greeted Sammy before giving her a hug. “I see you won’t be carrying a bun in the oven for much longer.”

“I’m expecting any week now.” Sammy told Kelly with a smile while placing a hand on her pregnant stomach.

“Great. Now we can have a reenactment of the nativity. I’m sure that would spice up this service.”

“Hey! Be nice. It’s Christmas after all!”

“We have you here, just in case. So just in case Sammy goes into labor, you’ll be there to deliver baby Jesus.”

Meanwhile, Courtney pushed past her parents and started to tug on Sammy’s dress.

“Aunt Sammy, can I sit by you? Mommy said it was okay!”

“Sure!” Sammy replied. Then, she slowly took a seat on the pew next to her best friend’s child. Courtney, in turn, returned to her coloring book. However, Sammy drew her attention again when she dangled her cat tail in front of Courtney. Whenever the little girl reached out for the tail, Sammy would draw it out of the girl’s reach.

“My water isn’t going to break tonight. So just relax.” Sammy told both Kelly and Zac. Since she was momentarily distracted by talking with her friends, she did not react quick enough to move her tail away from Courtney, who immediately snatched it.

“She’s getting good at that,” Sammy said with a laugh while she pulled her tail out of Courtney’s hand.

“I’ve always wondered if she’ll ever develop any powers.” Kelly whispered to Zac and Sammy, although the noise of other people’s conversations drowned out her voice from being heard by anyone except Zac and Sammy.

“Maybe she’ll take after her father.”

“That’s weird. My little Kyle has cat ears in the ultra-sound images.”

“Maybe she will be normal. Not that would be a bad thing.”

“Or she might not have yet developed them yet. Maybe once she becomes a teenager.”

“Don’t mention her growing up already. Next, we’re going to have to worry about how we’ll pay for college!”

Suddenly, Kelly’s phone buzzed. When she pulled it out from her purse, Kelly realized that Aubrey had responded to her recent inquiry. She had sent a nice little family picture for Kelly to show off to Zac and Sammy. Aubrey and Will sat on both sides of their eldest daughter, Kristin, who was about the same age as Courtney. Furthermore, Aubrey held in her arms an infant swaddled in a Christmas-themed blanket.

“Look how cute they look!”

“Oh my, look how young Aubrey looks! She looks like as if she had not aged a day since we first met her in West Virginia!” Sammy interjected after she got a glance of the image.

“Doesn’t she have a healing factor or something?”

“In a few years, people will start thinking she’s his trophy wife!”

“Poor Kristin. One day, people will confuse her mother as her sister!” Sammy said.

Before the three friends could continue their conversation, the church choir began singing the service’s entrance song. The whole congregation stood up in unison as the pastor made his way up to the front of the church and joined the choir in singing O Come, All Ye Faithful, a staple of the Christmas season. Before the song was over, Kelly made sure to send another text to Aubrey to ask about meeting sometime, since she had not seen the three of them in ages! While the Christmas season was a busy time, that does not mean that they did not have some room in their schedules to have a reunion something during the year.

December 22nd, Present Day

“I would have gotten the ransom money from the city if it weren’t for you meddling heroes!” El Niño clamored while he hung upside down, suspended from several threads of spider silk that were first wrapped around his body and then slung over a nearby light post. No matter how much he struggled, he could not break free from the biological bounds that constrained him.

“I know everyone dreams of a white Christmas, but plunging a city into negative double digit temperatures is just ridiculous,” I asserted while I secured the opposite end of the web strand that was suspending El Niño. Since the weather-controlling villain had made it unusually cold for a Southern Californian city, I mused that it might take longer than usually for my spider silk to dissolve, although that was not necessarily a bad thing. Plus, the police can always cut him down if need be.

“I’m not quite convinced about his motivation,” Talus accused the winter-themed villain while slapping on a power nullifier onto El Niño. “I think it actually is more nefarious, like wanting to see how this subzero weather would affect Pacific Point’s resident blonde bombshell.”

“Talus…”

“Nope. I definitely was in it totally for the money.” El Niño said in a matter of fact way.

“Well, at least I know someone who would appreciate those frozen puppies. Say ‘cheese,’ Vol!”

“Don’t you freaking dare…” I instinctively threw my hand up in front of myself, just as if I was trying to block a camera from taking a picture of me. However, I soon realized that I did not know how Talus was taking this picture. Were his eyes the lenses? Since it was pretty much a futile task to figure out from where else on his body he could possibly be taking that picture, I decided to stick with my first instinct.

Talus. How many times have we told you to not mess with people’s electronics without their permission? The Son of Osiris communicated via telepathy.

“It’s only her S.O.!” Talus tried to defend his actions, but everyone knew he was in the wrong. He even probably knew it, too.

“You guys can handle the clean-up, right?” I changed the subject. “I had other plans for tonight before they were rudely interrupted.”

We can watch him until the police arrives, the Son of Osiris replied, although I only heard his voice in my head. He then extended his arm out, holding his staff vertically. The ankh on the top of his staff began to glow blue. A beam of light shot out from the ankh and formed a swirling blue portal.

Once I stepped through the portal, I found myself standing in the warmth of my bedroom. Since I was off the job, so to speak, I didn’t need to be wearing my superhero costume anymore. Once I activated my power-nullifier, while I regained my human physique, my red and gray threads were swapped out with the pair of jeans and a green long-sleeved shirt that I had been wearing before I had to leave to stop El Niño with the other Immortals. My long-sleeved shirt had a picture of Santa’s portrait printed on it, along with ‘Ho, ho, ho’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ written on it in red letters with a white outline.

Will was sitting on my couch in the next room, where I had left him when duty called. We had the television tuned to a station that was playing Christmas music around the clock. Before I left to beat up the villain who was trying to plunge Pacific Point into an ice age, the two of us had just finished unwrapping the presents that we had bought for each other. Tomorrow, we’re both flying home for the holidays and since we wouldn’t see each other on Christmas, we wanted to exchange gifts before we parted ways.

Even though I’m still miffed by Marvel blatantly ripped off my appearance for their current run on Spider-Gwen, especially after they sent me a cease and desist to me for the original costume that Athena had provided me, I didn’t allow this get in the way of our Christmas. Since I knew that Will would not buy it for himself because he knew my opinion of the character, I thought getting him a driderified Spider-Gwen action figure would be a neat gift. And sure enough, when I got back, he had already broke it out of its packaging.

“Back,” I told him after I leaned over the back of the couch and wrapped my arms over his shoulders. Will, now noticing my presence, tried to set the figure down on the coffee table in front of him.

“Hey, that gift wasn’t intended to get you into the dog house,” I assured my boyfriend that I wasn’t jealous of a fictional character, even if she’s encroaching on my style.

“You might want to tell Talus to stop messing with the backgrounds of my devices,” Will said in an attempt to change the topic of our conversation.

“We just had that talk.”

“This time it was quite tame, but he has done worse in the past,” Will complained to me, “I was just lucky that one time when he set my background on the grad office computer as your centerfold picture that no one else was in the office.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll knock some sense into him once I get back from Ohio.”

“So, should we deck your tree out with the tinsel we made before heading to bed? We both have an early morning tomorrow.”

“It really sucks that our plans were ruined by some C-list villain.”

Will hopped up from his seat on the couch and we proceeded to get the tinsel from where we had set it out to dry. I never knew this, but apparently one explanation for tinsel on Christmas trees is that a spider apparently spun a web on a poor family’s tree and the power of Christmas (or Jesus) transmuted the silk into silver. Since I have spider powers, we thought it could be a neat Christmas tradition. We prepared some of my spider silk in the same way one would preserve a spider’s web and spray painted it with silver paint. This at least was our consolation prize for having our evening interrupted by supervillainy. Once we wrapped the tree with the treated spider silk, the lights on my tree made the webbing sparkle. To finish our trimming of the tree, Will pulled out the ‘First Christmas Together’ ornament that we picked out together and hung it at the center of evergreen.

“That worked better than I expected.”

“It was a team effort.”

We then admired our handiwork for a few more minutes before we had to turn in for the night. As Will had already mentioned, both of our flights were scheduled for an early morning departure. Even if we were to head to bed right now, we would still only get a few hours of sleep.

“How about we change into those pajamas that your mom bought for us?”

“You really want to wear the matching set that my mom picked out?”

“I think it will be cute. Plus, no one except for the two of us will see them.” It was a tradition in Will’s family to receive a new set of PJ’s on every Christmas eve. However, since I was not going to be around on Christmas, she gave them to us early.

“Alright.” Will yielded as he handed me the box that his mother had wrapped my pajama set in.

“I’ll see you in a few.” I planted a kiss on Will’s cheek and then turned to go into my bedroom.

After I shut my bedroom’s door, I set the box on my bed and remove its lid. Inside, there was a red long-sleeved shirt along with a pair of green flannel pajama pants. Very Christmasy, if I say so myself. I pulled out the red shirt out of the box and left the pants alone. Then, I pulled out a second clothing box from underneath my bed, which contained one last present for Will, if you would like to call it that. After I had started to undress, I slipped into the red basque that had been hidden in the box I had retrieved from under my bed. I was a little surprised that it took a little more work to get the basque on than I expected. Next, I pulled off my power nullifier, reverting my appearance to its drider form, and I began dressing my arachnid legs with four pairs of green socks that were designed for my arachnid physique.

“Coming in,” Will alerted me after he knocked on my door.

“Give me one moment , please,” I requested as I tried to finish getting all eight socks onto my spider legs and fasten them with the garter bands on my basque. I even had to use my spider legs to get the last pair of socks on my hind legs. Once that was done, I threw on the long-sleeved pajama shirt. Before I reclined on my bed, I used my spider silk to stick a branch of artificial mistletoe right above my bed.

“You can come in!” I hollered to Will. While I waited for him to open the door, I laid down on my bed. Although the underside of my arachnid abdomen rested on my bed, I contorted my waist so that my elbow was propping my upper body up. My four spider legs, now covered with long, green socks, touched the floor beside my bed, while the right four rested on my mattress.

When Will entered my bedroom, he stopped dead in his tracks right at the threshold of my bedroom door when he caught sight of me, definitely because I was not wearing the complete pajama set.

“I guess we’re not getting much sleep tonight.”

“Who ever gets a wink of sleep on Christmas?”

December 25th, 10 years ago

“Wake up, Chris! Wake up!” An elementary school aged Veronica burst into Chris’ bedroom and jumped onto his bed. When Chris simply rolled over, she began to bounce on his mattress, making it impossible for him to rest in peace.

“What time is it?” Chris groggily muttered as he reached for his alarm clock, which said that it was only five in the morning on Christmas Day.

“It’s time to open presents!”

“But what if Santa hasn’t come yet?” Chris tried to make an excuse to head back to bed. However, it did not seem to work on his half-sister.

“George told me that he already came,” the girl told her brother as she began to tug on Chris’ arm.

Chris sighed as he tossed his sheets aside so that he could get out of bed. Since Chris was home for the holidays from his forth year in his PhD program, he thought that he would at least get some sleep. But he was obviously mistaken. He then slipped into his slippers and tossed on his robe before he followed Veronica out of his room.

The staircase had garland wrapped around the banisters and the lights that went with it illuminated the way. At the bottom of the staircase was a giant, 14-foot Christmas tree, decked out with a variety of ornaments, tinsel, and lights. Underneath the evergreen, there was a giant stack of presents, all wrapped in the same gift paper. George was also waiting for Chris and Veronica at the foot of the staircase.

Veronica practically flew down the stairs towards the presents that Santa had brought her. She even slid across the floor, stopping right in front of the Christmas presents. While she started to shake her presents so as to decide which to open first, Chris took his time making his way to the tree. Once there, he pulled up a chair while he and George watched Veronica shred through the wrapping paper that covered her presents.

Chris remembered when he used to believe in Santa Claus. He too would wait anxiously all night for the jolly old man to bring his presents on Christmas Day. Even on multiple Christmases in the past, Chris had woken up at the crack of dawn because he was extremely excited to see what old Kris Kringle had brought him. He knew the excitement of ripping off the Christmas wrapping paper and seeing what it had hidden. But that time had long past. He had not believed in that little white lie since he was Veronica’s age. Nevertheless, he was just happy to see that his sister was enjoying this Christmas day.

However, once his half-sister had torn through all of her presents form Santa, a frown appeared on the girl’s face.

“We still have the family present,” Chris tried to console his younger half-sister.

“But Santa didn’t bring them,” Veronica began to cry.

“Santa didn’t bring what?” For a moment, Chris was puzzled, since he thought he had gotten everything on Veronica’s Christmas list that was feasible for him to buy.

“Santa didn’t bring mom and dad back.”

His little sister’s comment pierced Chris’ heart. This was the first Christmas that they had celebrated since their parents had been murdered by Chris’ deranged mother, who had become his father’s ex after he had divorced her for the woman who would become Veronica’s mom. Although Chris had issues with his father for how he handled the divorce, that did not mean he did not love his father.

“Are the other kids right? Is there no Santa Claus?”

“What? Of course there is a Santa Claus!”

“Then why didn’t he bring mom and dad back?”

“Do you remember Miracle on 34th Street?” Chris asked his half-sister, who nodded. “If Santa doesn’t bring something on your Christmas list, he usually has a good reason. When I was a kid, I asked for Uranium one Christmas. But he didn’t bring it as a gift because any responsible adult would know not to hand a radioactive element to a child.”

“But I miss them so much!” Veronica began to bawl as he hopped up from her spot on the floor next to her Christmas presents and wrapped her arms around Chris.

“I do, too.”
Aubrey Adkins | Amanda Allen-James

Slipstream dashed into the depths of the Hounds’ base searching for other hostages. As she zipped from room to room, she found that most of the base was relatively empty. The Hounds had appeared to have cleared out, and either there were no more hostages, or the Hounds had taken them with them when they abandoned the base. However, as she entered the last room at the end of the hall, she learned that this was not the case, though she wished that it were. As she entered the room, she was almost overwhelmed by a powerful coppery smell. When she took a moment to look around the room, she discovered what was causing the overpowering odor.

Death.

As Slipstream looked around the room she discovered dozens of bodies in various states of decay. Some looked to have been there for quite some time, while others looked to have been executed within the last several hours. The victims looked to have been executed in the same manner, a single cattle bolt to the middle of the forehead. As Slipstream gazed at the bodies that were strewn around the bloodsoaked room, she suddenly felt as if someone had punched her in the gut. Suddenly, without warning she bent over and released the contents of her stomach upon the floor.

She had barely had time to try and regroup from the sudden shock of what she’d discovered when she heard something coming from where she had just left Arachne alone. Several small explosions rang out from the room that they had discovered the hostages, and she felt a sudden pang of anger wash over her.

“Oh no you don’t, you sons of bitches.” Slipstream said as she steeled herself against her urges to vomit again, and raced back toward Arachne and the Hounds.

When Slipstream had returned to the room where she and Arachne had found and freed the metahumans whom the Hounds had captured and, as she just discovered, were designated to be slaughtered, she stumbled upon the counterattack that the Hounds had planned. Arachne appeared to have been dazed, probably by whatever the explosion she had heard that prompted her to rush back to check on the superheroine. There were a handful of Hounds aiming their weapons at Arachne. However, they had yet to realize that Slipstream had entered the room again.

The Hounds squeezed down on the triggers of their guns, launching dozens upon dozens of rounds against the cornered heroine right as Slipstream entered the room. However, Slipstream was shocked as she watched the bullets miracuously whirl past the spidergirl without hurting her. It was almost as if some sort of invisible guardian had redirected the trajectory of the bullets so that they would purposefully miss. The Hounds, of course, were also shocked at the result of their gunfire. They were perplexed at how they could have missed all of their shots at point blank range.

Once they have missed their first opportunity to down Arachne, the Hounds were not going to find another chance. Before they could launch a second barrage of gunfire, Arachne had used her webshooters to grapple the firearms belonging to two of the present Hounds.

“If you aren’t careful, you might hurt someone with these,” Arachne taunted as she proceeded to use her weblines to drag the two Hounds whom she had just disarmed towards herself. She then slammed the two men against the nearby wall and plastered them with some spider silk, rendering them incapacitated and unable to move away from the wall.

Slipstream watched in amazement as the bullets that the Hounds had just fired at Arachne, bullets which should have shredded that arachnid-like heroine’s body veer off course, instead harmlessly hitting the wall instead, with surprisingly little ricocheting. She was dumbfounded by what she had just seen, however, she decided not to question her new friend’s good fortune, at least not at this moment. Instead, she darted toward the Hounds of Humanity thugs that Arachne hadn’t already incapacitated.

As she stepped toward the Hounds, some of whom had resumed firing on the spider-esque woman, everything slowed down to Slipstream, it was almost as if time itself had slowed to a crawl. She rushed toward the first thug, lowering her shoulder and leaning into him just before she she made impact, the force of which sent him flying into the wall across the room. She didn’t stop there, moving onto the next Hound and dropping him with a hard right hand to the face. She repeated her attack on each of the remaining Hounds, leaving them sprawled all across the room before the blink of an eye.

After the final Hound had fallen, Slipstream stopped in front of Arachne. She bent over slightly as she tried to regain her breath.

“Now might be a good time to get out of here.” She said between strained breaths.

“Definitely,” Arachne agreed with Slipstream’s suggestion. “All we need to do is follow my webbing to get out of here.”

Then the spidergirl paused for a moment.

“Although I guess you already know the way out, since you got all the people the Hounds had kidnapped out of here.”

“Yeah, it’s this way. I think...maybe it’s a good idea to follow your webs.” Slipstream thought that she knew the way out, however, the hellish scene that she found deeper inside the base left her unsure of herself.

Therefore, the two heroines dashed out of the Hound’s secret base, following the spider silk that Arachne had left on the hallway floors. Although the two women were cautious about any more ambushes orchestrated by the Hounds, they did not run into any more trouble on their way out. Once they had exited the maze of a base that the Hound’s secret lair was, the two women caught sight of the gas station that was the mask to the base. In the distance, they could hear the police sirens blaring in the night as the police rushed to the gas station.

“Well, I guess this is our time to ditch the scene of the crime.”

“Not a bad idea. The things that they did...they…” her voice drifted off as she replayed the images of the executed metas inside the base. “We’re going to stop them. We have to.” She said as she zipped off back toward Pacific Point, leaving the nightmarish base behind.

Arachne felt a burst of wind rush into her as the speedster dashed away. Then she peered towards the lights on the horizons, which marked where Pacific Point was located. She sighed before making her way through the nighttime darkness.

“Where is Athena when you need her to teleport you back home? She has to be here. How else could you explain those bullets miraculously missing me?”

Olympus

On the outskirts of the city of the Olympian gods, there was a paradise garden, filled with all manners of vegetation and animals. A small lake dominated the center of this garden. Its waters were clear as colorless glass, which allowed anyone standing on the shore or reading in a boat to see the underwater wildlife swimming underneath the surface. The waters were so clear that someone could have mistaken a picture of this lake as a scene from the Caribbean, assuming the shore was not in the photograph. A goddess with strawberry colored hair floated on the surface of this lake. The fish and waterfowl, the secret animals of Aphrodite, swam around the Goddess of Love while she enjoyed the relaxing serenity of the quiet garden.

Once she had her spent enough time in the lake, the daughter of Zeus proceeded back the shore. The Charities, the three attendants of the love goddess, were waiting on the bank for their mistress, bearing a wrap of clothing for Aphrodite once she had exited the lake. After they had draped the cloth over the goddess’ wet skin, they ushered her over to a nearby swap where there were four triclinium couches set up, with a single, circular table with a tiled surface.

Before she reclined on her couch, Aphrodite rung out her hair. Once seated, the Charites made sure that their mistress had been taken care of before they too took their positions on the neighboring triclinia. Aglaea, the youngest of the sisters, was the last to take her seat, since she had the task of setting out dozens of polished clay figurines, painted to seem almost lifelike. As Aglaea placed each miniature on the table, the clay figures immediately shuffled around the flat surface, almost as if they were alive. Eventually, the clay miniatures sorted themselves into several clumps, including 3 large piles.

“Now how to fix our little setback?” Aphrodite pondered aloud while picking up one figurine in one hand and taking a sip of the sweet nectar from a cup held in the other hand. This figure, however, was different form the rest, as it depicted a man confined to a medical bed. His eyes were closed shut, almost as if he were asleep, or in a coma.

“How about this mortal?” Euphrosyne suggested after picking a spellcaster from a clump of figurines that included a snake girl, a harpy, a dinosaur man, and two other humans who looked almost normal.

“Her magic could be used healing, but she appears occupied at the moment,” Aphrodite said, gesturing to the second, silver-clad sorceress that was standing next to the harpy, snake girl, and dinosaur man. “Also, there appears to be something off about her.”

“Well, there are plenty of magic users to pick from.” Aglaea suggested, pointing to several figures on the table.

“One of them knows of my husband’s pupil, but she too is occupied in a rather grave situation.” Aphrodite said. The pile where the white-garbed witch stood was surrounded by men aiming miniature guns at the figures in the center. “Moreover, the witch-folk are lovers of striking deals and I, a goddess, would not want to stoop down to their level.”

“How about Athena’s pupil?” Euphrosyne asked, passing over the drider figurine over to Aphrodite, “Her healing factor could prove useful.”

“It would be,” Aphrodite answered, taking the drider miniature into her hand. Each of its eight legs tapped down on the goddess’ palm as it found its balance. “However, Athena would assume I would have some sort of ulterior motive. Anyways, I by no means wish to be indebted to my half-sister. Next.”

“We are on rather cordial terms with the Ennead,” Thalia, the eldest of the Charites, finally mused, picking up a figure with a bird’s head and Egyptian garb from the same pile that the drider had originated from. “Why not seek out Osiris’ chosen?”

“An interesting suggestion,” Aphrodite told Thalia, taking the figurine in her hand, “I find this satisfactory, more so than asking Apollo or Asclepius to do our dirty work.”

Then, a dove landed next to the Goddess of Love. She cupped her sacred bird in her hands and whispered something into its ear. Once her commands had been given, the dove immediately fluttered away. No sooner had the dove departed, Aphrodite’s son, Eros, appeared, hovering beside his mother.

“Do you recall the device the mortal whom my husband is granting his patronage?” Aphrodite asked her son, who immediately nodded.

“And what do you wish me to do with it?”

“Just follow my instructions.” Aphrodite answered her son with a laugh. She then reached over the table and snatched up one more clay figurine, a nagini.
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