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Duty and Drive [IC]


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Deep below the glittering towers on Wading Way, the silence in Scarab's Lair was only broken by the repetitive thump of flesh against leather and the faint rasp of breath.

Bookish, quiet Taylor would have looked out of place working in the school gym. Especially as, while working the bag she didn't look like Taylor should look. In shorts and a halter top, her hair pulled back into a thick tail, the clothing would have passed but there was no mistaking the determination on her face or the smooth movement that hadn't faltered once in the twenty minutes since she'd started.

Even more telling, Taylor wasn't flailing at the bag with any emotion. Instead her right fist thumped the bag with perfect follow through before she switched to her left. To anyone who knew anything about fighting, she was training muscle memory so that when startled or stressed, the smooth arc of fist to jaw wouldn't hesitate.

The sweat slicking her skin was a silent testament to the time she'd been working the bag but she didn't seem to pause as she switched hands once one started to feel the ache of the bag. The physical repetition gave her mind a chance to focus on other things. The Divine situation. Jack. The damn demons. These days, Taylor found it easier to work a problem while her body was active but at the moment she was mentally spinning her wheels as her mind refused to settle on any one problem.

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On Taylor's next punch, the bag flew higher into the air than it ever had before, and stayed there, hovering. She heard a familiar voice behind her. "Your training seems to be going well enough. But your outward violence expresses some inner turmoil."

The Scarab stepped into her gym, her cape floating rather than dragging behind her.

"Relationship problems, of some sort. The kind of problems you cannot solve by punching them in the face. But you wish you could. I did not glean the details, but I get the impression that while I have been away, the mice have been at play."

Her costume folded and compressed and melted away from her flesh, leaving only a short Latina in a red tank top and a pair of sweatpants.

"Forgive me. I picked up on some stray thoughts floating around in the ether, but I did not pry further. If you want, we can talk about it. Or, if you prefer, I can move along and do my best to forget. But if this is about what I think it is about, this sort of internal conflict tears teams asunder like no external threat ever could."

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Taylor startled, phasing out as she twisted in place. It only took a second for her to solidify. Taylor's bare feet hit the mat softly. Irritation flickered across her face before she let it go with a sigh. She gestured with one hand that Scarab could release the bag and have a seat.

Taylor dropped to the ground, folding her legs loosely as she started to unwrap her hands, "I didn't get any real physical abilities, so I have to keep up on that the hard way."

She wiggled her fingers, watching the bruises on the knuckles vanish one at a time before she spoke up again, "Its nothing team-breaking and relationship wise, I'm happy. Which is more nerve wracking in some ways. It's Divine. Moira."

That was true in more ways than one. The whole Stesha-Moira-Jack tangle would be easier if there was anything to punch. That would be straightforward. Taylor flexed her hands into fists as the last abrasions faded and then relaxed them flat again, "At least, that's one problem. And then there's demons. And juggling school and my family. Its complicated, but its just my life. Nothing team-threatening."

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"I didn't get any real physical abilities, so I have to keep up on that the hard way."

"My abilities are likewise strictly mental in nature. Which means I actually have to exercise to maintain physical fitness. Or would, hypothetically, have to maintain fitness, if I had it. Which I haven't in years. Between law school before and..." Elena waved her hand around. "...Now this, I rarely seem to find the time. Which might explain why I have the muscle tone of Jello." She made a mocking gesture of flexing her bicep, then pinched the fat to reveal how little muscle there was.

"Its nothing team-breaking and relationship wise, I'm happy. Which is more nerve wracking in some ways. It's Divine. Moira. At least, that's one problem. And then there's demons. And juggling school and my family. Its complicated, but its just my life. Nothing team-threatening."

Elena braced herself with one arm and sat down on the ground across from Taylor. "That's the great part about being on a team. Your problems are our problems. If nothing else, it might help to talk about it. What kind of trouble has Moira gotten into this time?"

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Taylor let out a soft sigh and with a gesture summoned a towel to one hand which she used to dry her face off. It gave her time to phrase things before she spoke. In or out of costume, Taylor prefered to organize her thoughts before sharing them with her colleagues and friends. She dropped the towel to the side and rested her weight back on the palms of her hands.

"It's the tip of the ice-burg, really. Divine's off with her parents in Olympus but she gave Stesha the impression she didn't want to go before she left. I agreed to help and look into what can be done to retrieve her." Each word was carefully chosen, although frustration seethed behind the composed words, "It was very difficult to explain the pact to everyone and that it's not so very simple as it might sound like to just 'get Moira back'. It's one of those intersections of my duty to the multiverse and my responsibilities to my friends. It doesn't help that my personal feelings aren't entirely neutral."

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Elena nodded as Taylor spoke, never breaking eye contact. "Your responses are careful and measured. You choose your words carefully. In the world at large, that is a prudent approach. But it isn't of much help here. You aren't going to alienate me by speaking your mind, if that is your concern. I can almost certainly guarantee that my other teammates have dirtier secrets than yours." She grinned.

She sat with her legs crossed beneath her, both ankles touching the ground. Her palms rested upon the intersection between her knees and thighs. "Balancing one's personal life with their crimefighting career is never easy. That's probably why so many of us tend to give up on having a personal life. But that is often a mistake. It can cause you to lose perspective, which can slowly transform you into the very things you spend your nights fight against. I have something of an advantage in this matter. Normally, your identity is a great gift, that carries with it an awesome responsibility to whomever you share it with. But in my case, if they prove themselves unworthy, I can always retract that gift. Most of us aren't so lucky."

"My knowledge of The Pact is incomplete, but does it not allow extradimensional entities entry back into our world if they are summoned by willing parties? Parties such as ourselves?"

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"We can summon her and that is part of the plan but research needs to be done first." Taylor shifted her weight to free one hand and begin ticking points off on slender fingers more suited to holding a pen than punching a leather bag. "By the tenants of the Pact, Moira should never have been allowed to walk the earth. She's a child of two gods. That means she should only be allowed on this world if called. I can think of two options, she was mortal born - placed here in utero - or she was stripped of her Godhead as an infant. Either of those options give us wiggle room on an arguement that they have to give her back. If, of course, she wants to be here in the first place."

Taylor let out a sigh that puffed her hair out of her face. She reached up to tuck the errant strand out of her face, "I'm hoping that one of those is the case. The third option that she really doesn't belong here is more problematic. Dark Star, Stesha and Jack are set on retrieving her come hell or high water. I have a responsibility. As it is, I'm pushing the very limits of it already. The last thing I want is to be forced into a fight with them. Especially Jack. Stesha asked what kind of hero would condone kidnapping already. Explaining the delicate layers of the cosmic coil is like describing blue to the blind. For me its a fact, but to everyone else they're just empty words."

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