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Thanksgiving 2018 

Nightingale's warehouse 

 

Nicci's place had advantages over Anna's - it was bigger, cleaner, and you didn't need to start generators to turn on the lights. It was a good place for Thanksgiving dinner, and so it was tonight. Anna was at the head of the table, her hair up and wearing the pseudo-Victorian dress Nicci liked, looking down at a table that seemed, well, not exactly like her family but was close enough for now. There was Esperanza on one side, her styled hair dyed a mix of red and black that matched her crimson shirt and black dress, Jason across the table, the two of them shooting each other looks like feuding siblings, and Nicci next to Anna herself. Anna had had big plans to make a Honduran Thanksgiving for her sidekick's benefit, but an irritated Esperanza had fired back that her mom had never bothered with that stuff anyway. So instead they had what could optimistically be described as an all-American Thanksgiving; roast turkey and cranberry from the can, stuffing from the box and mashed potatoes from same, and a sweet potato casserole Anna had picked up somewhere that had marshmellows cooked brown on top. Esperanza was eating and not saying much; which was about as good as it got. 

 

It was going to be a good day. Anna reached under the table and squeezed Nicci's hand, smiling at her. "Happy Thanksgiving, honey," she said softly. Maybe nothing here was on the menu for Nicci - but she was going to make sure Nicci ate well that night. 

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Jason, who almost exclusively went by Chromium now a massive frown creasing his face if anyone called him by his real name even if he had let it slip a few times, was eating...or more like EATING. It was the one thing that Anna, Nicci and Esperanza had seen on more than one occasion is that he ate with immunity and without discretion as was evidenced as he took an entire turkey drumstick and was very methodically devouring it meat, bone and gristle in it's entirity even as his other hand ladled another helping of sweet potato casserole onto his already full plate.

 

There would be no left overs if he wasn't almost forcibly stopped, and they had learned this the hard way. He was a literal bottomless pit as his body simply converted whatever matter went into his mouth into more, and more of the strange liquid metal he was made of and he got more and more dense. He and Esperanza were perfect companions, when not glaring at each other, at the dinner table as neither of them had any interest in talking...at least until Chromium had finished off all the food, that was when the questions would start.

 

He was very inquisitive about...well...everything to do with super powers, getting them, learning more and finding bad guys. He was not so big on normal conversation...which meant that Nicci and Anna could speak as much as they wanted while the food lasted.

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"They're all mierda," opined Esperanza bluntly in response to Chromium's question about the Freedom League. "Powers like gods and they spend all their time farting around with dragons and giant maldito bees." She punctuated the second to last word with great emphasis, then went on, "Saving the world all the time but never paying attention to the people who live in it. When was the last time you saw Gabriel working in a soup kitchen on Ash Street, hm?" She raised an eyebrow at that, gesturing with a spoon laden with sweet potato casserole. "Or Gaian Knight down in the barrios. They're just putting on a big show and dance for the stupids." 

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A large silver eyebrow rose slowly, between bites through the bone of the drumstick as she let loose with a mini-rant swallowing rather loudly he snorted,"Oh, and you think you doing better?"

 

Grunting he gestured to the sky, for some reason,"And you think stopping the Terminus invasion, twice, was dancing for the stupids? You be saying that if the Omega drones were pushing you into some kind of processing plant or something? Yeah, real stupid...saving us."

 

Picking up his fork he started shoveling sweet potato casserole into his mouth, mumbling around the food,"What have you done to help more than that? All the soup kitchen's in the world ain't going to help if we're slaves of the Terminus?"

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"Their city gets invaded, they fight the invaders. Didn't see them showing up here when the Atlanteans came off the lake, or when the Terminus came _here_, or when the old lady fought those giant snakes," said Esperanza with a sniff. Anna was a little too busy to mind being called the old lady right now, her hand invisible under the table where it rested on Nicci's thigh. Luckily Esperanza didn't need to think about that. "They take care of their own, but we're the ones who take care of us." 

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Nicola placed her hand in her lap, covering Anna's own and gripping it lightly.  She glanced over at her, blushing slightly before the conversation at the table caught her attention and she turned back toward it.

 

"I've spent time there, in Freedom City, before I came here," the vampire pointed out.  What she didn't say was that she left Freedom City not because she wanted to help Bedlam, at least not directly, but to bring the towns own burgeoning vampire problem under control at the behest of her king.  And to track down the one that created her and kill him.

 

"But she's right," Nicola said, turning her attention to Chromium.  "And working in soup kitchens are important, good work that helps people who truly need it."  That was the nun in her talking.  Former nun.  Whatever.

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Without warning a jauntily rhythmic knock came from the warehouse's door. Opening it revealed a pair of young women framed in the doorway. The shorter of the pair wore an oversized white coat with a voluminous, fluffy collar over a little black off-the-shoulder dress and dangerous looking stilettos. Most of the upper half of her face was covered by the white frames and huge lenses of what Anna could only think of a 'hangover sunglasses', while a headful of brick red dreadlocks were tied up in a messy bun held together with a hair stick. Her taller companion was wearing a sleeveless top with a deep cut neckline and a series of overlapping strips that formed a pentacle over the generous resulting cleavage. The glossy black material of her pants looked practically painted on but her tan leather jacket hung with comfortable looseness. If she'd had shoes earlier in the evening she's apparently abandoned them, nonchalantly standing barefoot in the late autumn chill.

 

The former raised one hand above her head with a flourish as if posing for a photoshoot while the latter continued to stand impassively with her arms crossed. "Surprise~!"

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Chromium opened his mouth to retort, being at that age where arguing was more important than facts and actual thought when a knock sounded at the door. He shoved one last mouthful in, before looking at everyone realizing that being the 'newest' recruit did have a few disadvantages...door duty was one of them. Sighing he swallowed his food without the need for further chewing and slid his chair back rather noisily.

 

Another exasperated sigh left his lips before he made his way to the door, grabbing the handle he made sure to turn it very slowly, Nicci would be horrified if he tore the door handle off and so he watched his hand very carefully till the door was half way open and then lifted his eyes up only too see something that literally blew his mind, not one but two ladies of more than average attractiveness one of which at least was dressed in a way that left little for his young mind to imagination.

 

His eyes were fixated on the pentacle and the flesh beneath, his only saving grace was the fact that his eyes were solid silver and had no iris, but his solid silver mouth hung open gaping for just a moment till the shorter woman spoke and he literally tore his eyes away from the taller woman and forced a smile,"Ahhh, ummm.....hi...I suppose. Can I help you?" 

 

At least say your name idiot!

 

Well at least his mind was kind of working,"I'm Chromium......"

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Esperanza knew who Set and Sekhmet were - she was the most Internet-savvy of the group and she'd looked up her boss's old cronies as soon as she'd had the chance. Treating your friends like your enemies and knowing your enemy's weaknesses was a principle she'd known long before she'd met Anna Cline. Beaming, she turned to look at Anna, leaning back with an arm outstretched as if expecting an introduction. Sure enough, she got one. 

 

"Set! And Kitty-Girl!" Anna put her hand over her heart, swallowed hard, and put her game face on. "Sweeties!" she said. In a flash she was on her feet and across the room, zipping over to give Set and Sekhmet both air-kisses. "What a surprise!" She smiled and said, "Esperanza, Nicci, Chromium," she added with the tone of an indulgent parent. "These are Set and Sekhmet, two very old friends of mine." She thought fast, thoughts tripping over each other and said, "Set, if you're looking to eat, the stuffing and the sweet potatoes don't have any meat in 'em, and Sekhmet the turkey is made of the stuff. These are my, ah-" 

 

"Accomplices!" called Esperanza from the table, looking considerably more cheerful than was her usual wont. 

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"I know, we should have called ahead, we're awful!" Set bemoaned dramatically though a remorseless grin, mirroring Anna's air kisses.

 

"Thee be awful," Sekhmet corrected flatly.

 

"You're the one who broke the poor shiny boy."

 

She Before Whom Evil Trembles looked over Chromium with the one eyebrow visible behind her asymmetrical bangs raised, finally taking a moment to parse the cause of the teen's awkwardness rather than simply disregarding it. The goddess rolled her eyes and in a single fluid movement of rippling muscle dropped to all fours in the form of a lioness and began to pad her way toward the alluded to fowl.

 

"We were in town on business and I'd have let you know sooner, oh sapphire of split seconds but there were a blasphemous number of eyes, actual eyeballs you understand, wretched stuff, no subject for the dinner table certainly and long story short I wasn't at all presentable. But! I brought an excellent bottle of wine!" The godling looked to her empty hand with a small frown. "Sekhmet, where did the wine go?"

 

Next to the table the lioness made an irritated rumbling noise in response before rising back up to her original humanoid form. She sniffed the air over the turkey in anticipation but paused, turning toward Nicola and sniffing again, more deeply this time. Sekhmet then slowly turned her attention back in the direction of their hostess, straightening to her full height and tucking her chin slightly.

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There was a lot to take in for the young super...person? And a lot of it resolved around his 'mentor' speaking very, very rapidly and he titled his head at the introduction clearly mouthing the one name 'Sekhmet' and then she turned into a lion, if anything that got his attention more, but the red head spoke and he tore his eyes away from the lioness sniffing the turkey he still had a large claim on and focused on her and then flickered back to the lioness just to have it turn back into a rather delightfully clad human.

 

There was a number of feelings flashing through Chromium's head but in a very short amount of time, for a slightly smitten 18 year old, his cerebral functions started back up again and parts started to flow together as he mumbled to himself,"Lady Horus...Set....Sekhmet....."

 

He moved back to his seat, his silver body causing it to strain a little under his mass, reaching up he scratched his chin thoughtfully before looking at Sekhmet with much more focus and clarity,"So are you super....people too?" He remembered in time that Anna never refered to herself as a super hero if she could avoid it, and something about the way the red head and the lion girl interacted made him think they didn't either,"And did I miss the Egyptian theme party or what? We got Horus, Set, Sekhmet and Wadjet...is it compulsory for us to pick a myth to name ourselves after?"

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Nicola carefully watched the unexpected visitors, especially the exceedingly attractive statuesque one, and Anna could feel the tension in Nicola's thigh as the vampire readied herself for sudden movements.  Maybe it was the blood smelling off, or the simple fact that one predator does not take kindly to another entering its territory, it's home, but these two old friend's of Anna's made the vampire nervous.

 

Best not to show it, she thought.

 

Until the sniffing.  And the look that followed.  Suddenly Nicola wanted to laugh, but instead she just flashed a fanged grin at Sehkmet.

 

"I bid you welcome," the pale brunette said, quite warmly, "Please, enjoy the spread."

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Anna dealt with the tactical problem first, zipping to Sekhmet's side to discreetly murmur "Yeah I know about that, play it cool," Knowing that Set was getting it from a vampire boy (and giving it sometimes) meant she wasn't as worried as she would be if this was, say, her kid. Thinking of her son made her heart beat faster, and she quickly took a seat at the head of the table. She dealt with the other problem next. Well, not really a problem. She'd been around a teenage boy before. "First off, Chrome-dome," she said affecionately, "we had the talk about havin' a common gimmick pretty early on if you recall. But you go on being Chromium if that's yer thing, honey, we don't judge around here. And secondly, yeah, this two are the real deal." Well, sort of. "Siddown and have some food, kids." 

 

"I judge," said Esperanza. She was still in her seat at the table, . "So is there-?" When there wasn't any wine, she seemed to lose a touch of her good cheer - but only a little. "Ah well. I hear you guys like beer more anyway," she said, looking from godling to godling. 

 

"Espy! Did you use that book just to find rude things to say to people?" 

 

"Hey, Wadjet's supposed to spit fire and venom. I'm just trying to stay on the gimmick, old lady. Here, you want the cranberry sauce?"  she offered Set. 

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"Truly I do prefer beer," Sekhmet confirmed mildly before looking Esperanza directly in the eyes, her unblinking gaze literally smouldering with a faint golden luminance. "Also blood, one who would be Lady of Flame. Less delicately, methinks, than thy queen's cordial high priestess." Her small smirk as she gave Nicola a gracious nod exposed unusually pronounced canines but was slightly more playful than menacing.

 

Set's eyes narrowed as she reflexively accepted the cranberry sauce. "Tis the face you make when you think you're being subtle, Sekhmet." The godling had gotten fairly good at spotting vampires of various stripes - Bedlam seemed to have something of a community, which was fitting - but that didn't seem likely to have sparked her taller companion's amusement. "Why would you think--" Storm grey eyes widened along with Sekhmet's grin. Set began swatting the closest shoulder to her in an excited staccato, which happened to belong to Esperanza. Lips forming a silent oh of dark brown she turned to the head of the table, animated flailing building until she was bouncing in her seat, still lightly smacking away at Espy's crimson top.

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Esperanza coughed - but didn't look at Anna or Jason. She'd picked the argument, nobody else - and she'd liked what she heard. She smiled at Sekhmet, politely. 

 

Anna locked eyes with Set - and suddenly realized the godling knew. Well of course ya idjit, she thought quickly, yer sittin' here with yer girlfriend next to ya at Thanksgiving like it's some kinda Norman Rockwell painting. She wanted to get up and run right out the door, cursing herself for her weakness, but instead she reached down and squeezed Nicola's hand. She locked eyes with Set as if to say "What are you gonna do about it?" 

 

Esperanza jumped when Set started poking her, then scooched her chair away. "What! Jesus Christo, are you some kind of puppy?" She looked at where Set was looking and said, "What, cause they're screwing? Yeah it's like The Kids Are All Right in here half the time." She took a good scoop of the cranberry sauce and dumped it on her plate; it looked like she'd already had quite a bit. Suddenly her eyes lit up as she turned to her mentor and said, "Wait, do you usually not-"

 

"We do not discuss who we are screwing at the dinner table," said Anna firmly. "You'll have to excuse my protege here, she comes from what my mother used to call circumstances." Esperanza stuck her tongue out at Anna. "So...how ya been, Set?" 

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Chromiunm, who was of the opinion this time could be much better spent examining Sekhmet was more than a little confused by all the talking going on. A lot of it was alluding to things that he was unaware of, and more importantly didn't understand because of all the Egyptian ranks, ceremonies and other things the new guests seem to be throwing in had him shaking his head when Anna spelled out at least part of the problem.

 

He let out a chortle of amusement that this had even become a topic and then shook his head,"What in blue blazes is going on? Other than what Anna so kindly told us not to talk about there is a lot of double talk. Is this some kind of secret code...." He kept an eye on Set, trying to figure out why she was all but beating Esperanza, there was definitely a conversation that he was not privy too going on, and it was interesting enough he wanted to know!

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“Scholars have asked that very question for millennia, oh sass-spitter,” Set told Esperanza from a snout somewhere between canine and vulpine, head having seamlessly transformed into her eponymous animal form. “Fortunately I be the very model of discretion.” She changed back to her fully human appearance and in the process her little black dress became a curve hugging gogo dress that cycled through the colours of the rainbow as well as brown and black in vivid vertical strips. Her matching newsboy cap contained most of her dreadlocks and sported a black enamel triangle with a purple battleaxe in the center along with a half dozen other pride pins. She fluttered her eyelashes at Anna in case her old friend had missed her new eyeshadow, deep blue, purple and magenta over one eye and pink, yellow and sky blue over the other.

 

“Thank glorious Ra’s mercy thee be here to be the subtle one,” Sekhmet snorted around a mouthful of turkey. She gave Chromium an appraising look as he protested the conversation going over his head, the look of an adult trying to gauge how much to simplify an explanation for a child. “Be the tongue of modern Albion not thy native speech? Tis full of idiom and can be challenging,” she assured him not unkindly, raising a hand to pat the reflective teen on the head before deciding that might be interpreted as patronizing.

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Chromium's eyes googled a little at Set's changing, but more because of her change of attire than the shape changing itself. Shaking his head he turned his face just in time to see the attempt by Sekhmet to almost pat him and scowled,"Hands off till I invite them, Lion-girl, I don't know what the heck Albion is or why you talk like you're out of a Shakespear sonnet...."

 

His face softened as a thought crossed his mind, and true to his current form, the thought simply trotted straight out in words,"Although you could certainly play some of the parts in one, and a couple movies too." And then just like that back to a scowl, being young had so many advantages,"But try and pat me and I might have to see how tough the Egyptian gods are."

 

A realization that was near and dear to his heart also dawned on him and he grabbed another piece of Turkey, this Egyptian was putting a real hurting on the Turkey and he wasn't about to let her eat more than him.

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Anna simmered a little, giving Set a look. "This is why I didn't want to go spreadin' around that I had a ladyfriend," she said firmly. "Between you and that one, everyone acts like it's so great that old-lady Anna made some great late-in-life discovery." She patted Nicci on the hand, knowing it had to be a little weird for her, and said, "She is pretty great though." 

 

"Hey I never actually...put it in those words," said Esperanza around her cider. She shot Chromium a look and hissed, "Dammit, Jason, don't ruin it for us! These guys have the best stuff." She didn't mind being thought of as greedy; it was a nice, simple category to fall into. 

 

"He's just giving you the business," said Anna blandly. "We already had the talk about how there's a filter on how the Egyptian people speak, so the god stuff makes them sound like that. Also why they're not freezing their tails off inna Bedlam November." 

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Nicola laughed and tilted her seat back.

 

"We know why they're not, and we know why you're not," she said, flashing a licentious grin at Anna.  She settled her chair back on all it's legs and reached out to touch a finger to her girlfriend's lips.  

 

"Before you give me that tongue lashing I know you're eager to," she began, "there won't be any spreading beyond our guests."  She looked back at Set and Sehkmet, eyebrow raised in question.  Then she shrugged and looked back at her girlfriend before she took her finger off Anna's lips.

 

The proximity to Set and Sehkmet, or rather their blood, was starting to affect her and the vampire felt a little flushed.

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"Late-in-life?" Set scoffed, waving a manicured hand about dismissively. "You've yet to even reach your first century, dearest. Try coming out to the conceptual embodiment of earth and sky in the primordial chaos before existence." She placed a hand to the side of her mouth and stage-whispered to Esperanza, "Mortifyingly supportive. Geb and Nut be famously sex-positive. Problematically so." The godling shuddered at some half-repressed recollection before returning her attention to Anna. "If you were worried it would be unsettling that you've definitely gotten busy while dressed as my brother, tis fine, truly. The falcon motif always was a hit with the ladies. I could lay hands on one of those old snakeskin bustiers if you like. Built-in fangs," she offered Nicola, miming the curved teeth with a middle and index finger.

 

Sekhmet cleared her throat from across the table. "Rest assured, Lady Cline. For one who speaks so much the liesmith guards secrets well enough. Should you wish thy alliances remain unspoken, thus they shall be." She nodded her head cordially to their hostess then narrowed her eyes at Chromium. "I have witnessed revellers crush their metal goblets against their foreheads before discarding them." She leaned forward enough that he could see the ominous light of the eye behind her asymmetrical bangs. "That."

 

"Sniffing about the wrong monolith, oh silvery stripling. Isis, mayhaps..."

 

"I do not think you may make that jest," Sekhmet frowned as she settled back into her seat.

 

Set shrugged. "Osiris would have laughed. The point be you appear more contented than I can easily recall, Anna. Tis most heartening."

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Chromium rolled his eyes, not easy with an eye that was completely silver but he managed it somehow, waving a hand at Esperanza,"Please, if they are friends of Anna's they can handle it, not like the old broad is gentle with her tongue on anyone?" The last he finished with a cheeky grin at Anna and a wink before focusing his attention back on the two Egyptians,"So why does our dear red head not speak like that? And wasn't Set a man? I mean Horus was but you aren't really him just using his power."

 

Sekhmet's threat and Set's rejoinder about Isis would have been more effective if it didn't take Chromium so long to figure out what they were saying...not that he had a clue what the Isis comment meant, but the goblet crushing made him grin,"I can eat said Goblet, it's a waste to just crush it!" He looked at the lion woman with her golden eye and tried a different tack, clearly not understanding what was being inferred by the monolith comment,"So what is your natural form? This, the hybrid with the lion head or the lion itself?"

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"Actually," said Anna with pride, "I ain't never done anything untoward with the helmet on." Esperanza made a face that was silent but eloquent, and Anna said firmly "Not like that, anyway." Besides, if Nicci's gonna be screwing around with me, she's gonna be screwing around with me, not with how I looked when I was twenty-seven years old. 

 

They got down to eating, Esperanza taking the opportunity to fill in Chromium on what he'd missed in the books on Egyptian mythology that Anna had left lying around for her two teen heroes. "You like superheroes so much," she said skeptically, "you should know this one," she said, making a little gesture Set's way. "You should know this one, man. This is Set the Destroyer, the real deal from back in the day, when the old lady used to try and take over the world." 

 

"Yeah, well, we all paid our dues since then," said Anna. She shot Nicci a look, wondering what was going on in her girlfriend's head. Was it weird for her being here with a version of her lover's lover who looked like a sweet young thing? Because it was weird for Anna! Not unpleasant, though. 

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"Er, Set, aye. The Destroyer? Less so," Set clarified, shifting uncomfortably in her seat while her outfit resumed the appearance she'd arrived in apart from keeping the new hat.  "God stuff! Also branding. Also also: do not so crassly demand the details of another's gender, oh polished prima donna." She gave Chromium a cold look, grey eyes darkening perceptibly and shoulders squaring. "Nor their 'natural form'. A shapeshifter may reveal many aspects; you simply reveal an ass." Turning toward the head of the table the godling gave Anna's partner a pleasant smile. "Carrying on, I should much rather hear more about yourself, Nicci. One who can inspire Anna to sit still for an entire family meal be a true champion, indeed!"

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Chromium  was relatively good natured about the various rebukes, and spent her time listening to Esperanza's explanations and making sure he had his fair share of food. Keeping his thoughts to himself for now, and waiting till he actually understood a conversation before taking part this time.

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