From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:30 pm

Sophia waited by the door to the library for the last two members of the squad to arrive. Mercedes walked through the door a couple of minutes after Brenden, and Sophia nodded politely and directed her to the conference area in the back. The minutes ticked by with no sign of Lucas, and Sophia started to wonder what was keeping him. ‘Probably some issues with securing support from the higher-ups,’ Sophia reasoned. While she had been out of commission the past week, she had heard whisperings of increased monster activity and missions around the city to keep their numbers under control. As a result, it was quite possible Lucas was having trouble with clearing this new mission when the generals already had so much on their plates.

Luckily, Sophia didn’t have much longer to wonder. Lucas hurried into the library a few minutes later, looking slightly annoyed and as though he had run across the quad to get here. “Captain,” Sophia greeted with a quick salute. “Everyone is waiting for you.” She motioned for him to follow and added as they walked, “I’ve also got the information you wanted whenever you need it.” She led him to where the others were assembled. Dante looked as carefree as ever, Mercedes was still unreadable, and Brenden waited expectantly to hear what their captain had to say.

Lucas didn’t waste any time with pleasantries. “Tomorrow morning we will be heading out to investigate this house on the west side. There is a good chance that there will be a mark of Theia there. We need to take it out before the goddess realizes what we are doing. Stealth is our main objective until we get to that house and attack. Our plan of attack will involve us splitting up into two groups and attacking the house from opposite sides hoping to capture and kill this mark. Make no mistake this will be a tough mission. Recent creature activity has shown a massive increase so expect that we will have to fight our way out if things go wrong. Prepare yourselves for tomorrow. If you have any questions, now is the time.”

Sophia turned the plan over in her mind and definitely deemed it risky, but she decided to start with the easy questions first. “Do you have a map of the house in question? If it’s not too far away, I may be able to re-direct some of my owls to scout it in advance when I check in with them tonight.” Then came the question she dreaded to ask. “Are we receiving any additional personnel or support from General Montgomery?” Somehow, she had a feeling the answer would be no, meaning they would have to deal with any deadly scaled creatures on their own.

And if they were going up against anything like the dragons she’d just researched, she didn’t like those odds…
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Digital Muse on Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:50 pm

Dante’s boots hit the floor with a thud when Sophia shoved them off the table. The Mark of Athena stalked toward the main door with a stiff back to get away from him and it made him chuckle under his breath. He idly wondered what would happen to her mark if she lost her virginity. His musings were interrupted by the arrival of Brendan and Mercedes. He stood to hold Mercedes’ chair in a chivalrous gesture, but the woman was impervious to his charms. So far. Dante knew she’d been pursued without end since attaining her mark, but that did not deter him. If anything, it only made him rise to the challenge.

The Mark of Hecate turned his eyes back to the book that Sophia had been studying so assiduously. Mermaids, sea monsters…dragons? It seemed ridiculous, but then the gods themselves had reappeared, so who was to say that mythical creatures and monsters wouldn’t as well. The attacks on the surrounding areas certainly had not been natural. He didn’t see the Commandant releasing any of them to pursue this mission in all honesty. But, that was Lucas’ concern, not his.

Shortly after Mercedes had been seated, Lucas and Sophia strode toward them purposefully. Lucas started in without preamble. “Tomorrow morning we will be heading out to investigate this house on the west side. There is a good chance that there will be a mark of Theia there. We need to take it out before the goddess realizes what we are doing. Stealth is our main objective until we get to that house and attack. Our plan of attack will involve us splitting up into two groups and attacking the house from opposite sides hoping to capture and kill this mark. Make no mistake this will be a tough mission. Recent creature activity has shown a massive increase so expect that we will have to fight our way out if things go wrong. Prepare yourselves for tomorrow. If you have any questions now is the time.”

It?Dante thought. That didn’t sound good. Questions? Too many. Sophia voiced at least one question in his mind; that of the layout of the house they planned to enter. “I’m sure your owls are quite useful, my dear Sophia, however, they won’t be able to see inside the building. I can. If we wait till dusk, I can go inside shrouded in shadows and get the floor plan and possibly where our target is.” He smiled mischievously “And using shadespeak, I can let you know what I find.” He didn’t know if Lucas could communicate that way, but being marked by Persephone made it a likely guess. And it was always fun to let others think he was a bit of a mind reader. Dante rose to his feet and leaned on his hands on the table, “I might suggest a fighter with each group, you and Sophia. How you split up the rest of us is up to you, of course.” Dante paused to wink at Sophia. “It’ll be like a date.” He teased the Mark of Athena.

Picking up one of the books Sophia had been studying, Dante gave her little time to react to his merciless teasing. “And just what is “it” that we’re hunting?”
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Ruu on Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:48 pm

Brenden smiled and nodded to Sophia as he entered, and in a few minutes their Captain was the last to arrive. He listened quietly, eager and expectant, as their leader provided them with the details of their mission.

“Tomorrow morning we will be heading out to investigate this house on the west side. There is a good chance that there will be a mark of Theia there. We need to take it out before the goddess realizes what we are doing. Stealth is our main objective until we get to that house and attack. Our plan of attack will involve us splitting up into two groups and attacking the house from opposite sides hoping to capture and kill this mark. Make no mistake this will be a tough mission. Recent creature activity has shown a massive increase so expect that we will have to fight our way out if things go wrong. Prepare yourselves for tomorrow. If you have any questions now is the time.”

This sounded like a very difficult mission, but he felt fairly confident in his stealth. He was light on his feet and used to traveling lightly. Once they got there, however, he wasn't sure how well he would fare in an all-out battle. Brenden was a skilled healer, but he remembered Dante's words. Everyone was good at something, and it wasn't like he was defenseless. His arrows were powerful, and he was sure he'd be able to take his part in the coming battle. When their captain asked for any questions, both Sophia and Dante were quick to speak up. Brenden thought pensively for a moment. He knew time was short and they didn't have time for too many questions, but...

"What abilities will this mark of Theia be likely to have?" he asked hesitantly, his voice soft and quiet.

It sounded like they would only be a small group, and Sophia's question was an important one. Would they be given any back-up? From the sound of things with the increased monster activity, it was highly unlikely...
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Sunwolf007 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:58 pm

Sophia was the first to speak. “Do you have a map of the house in question? If it’s not too far away, I may be able to re-direct some of my owls to scout it in advance when I check in with them tonight.” Then came the question she dreaded to ask. “Are we receiving any additional personnel or support from General Montgomery?” He could tell by her voice that it wasn’t the best plan she had ever heard.

It was only a second before Dante chimed in with his two cents, once again trying to annoy a party member. “I’m sure your owls are quite useful, my dear Sophia, however, they won’t be able to see inside the building. I can. If we wait till dusk, I can go inside shrouded in shadows and get the floor plan and possibly where our target is.” He smiled mischievously “And using shadespeak, I can let you know what I find.”

For some reason Lucas didn’t like the guy but from what he heard Dante could get results. Unit cohesion was always in the forefront of Lucas’ mind. If you didn’t trust the person to your right or left then the battle could already be lost. “It’s going to be just us out there. Since the legion is very busy right now we won’t be getting any troops but we will be getting logistical support. I don’t have a floor plan but I do have a specific location for Sophia’s owls to scout. That’s not going to be that much of a problem since I want to burn it down. The added light will be a source of power for Brenden and I as well as an inhibiter of shadows for the mark of Theia,” Lucas said.

Dante took a second to look at the pile of books Sophia had been researching and then added, “And just what is “it” that we’re hunting?”

“That is the question of the hour,” Lucas said, “Reports are vague and unhelpful in identifying a specific creature. Based on the reports I am thinking it’s a type of dragon. Sophia, Mercedes and I are going to do some research to come up with a specific plan of attack for each possible one. Mostly the core idea will remain the same. Take the beast by surprise. Pin it down with two attack groups. Eliminate it before Theia shows up and slip away without engaging anything else.”

"What abilities will this mark of Theia be likely to have?" Brenden asked hesitantly, his voice soft and quiet.

“It’s been proven that any mark, regardless of what it’s placed on, will have the abilities of the god or goddess. So darkness manipulation is to be expected. The ability I am most fearful of is shadowwalk. If we don’t illuminate the area well enough the creature could disappear through a shadow to somewhere else. Or reinforcements could pour in on us from seemingly nowhere.” Lucas said. He looked over at Mercedes who was being uncharacteristically quiet. And at that moment she broke her silence.

“You mentioned that you were splitting us up into two teams. Who is working with whom?” Mercedes asked. Well, it looks like I do have a good team. Their first thoughts were to work out the details on the mission instead of complain. Lucas thought. It was the first time he felt like the team could actually accomplish this tough mission. If everyone gave it their best effort there was no way they could fail.

“Team one is going to be comprised of Mercedes, Brenden and Dante. You will approach the house from the southeast and start a fire in that corner. Sophia and I will approach from the northwest. The first team to find the creature should engage it and then fire off a flare calling in the other team. This brings me to our next order of business. Dante you will need to find some type of fire starter, accelerant and get us some flares. Brenden you will need to secure us some type of transport for an hour after sunrise along with enough supplies for a day operation. Sophia, Mercedes and I will continue doing research here to come up with a specific battle plan. We should meet back up at 8pm,” Lucas said finally giving out his orders. Normally securing of supplies and transport was the squad commander’s job but Lucas felt he could do more good researching. “If there are no further questions you have your assignments.”

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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:11 pm

Dante pushed his chair back and balanced easily on the rearmost legs. He listened to each of the questions brought up and Lucas’ answer. Unfortunately, the man did have much in the way of intelligence on the mark of Theia. The fact that the mark might be a dragon gave Dante pause. While he was confident beyond the norm in his abilities, he wasn’t a complete fool. His own powers were similar to that attributed to Theia; fire and darkness. But, his patron also provided him the addition of magic, levitation and the ability to get into and out of places.

He pursed his lips considering his role in the upcoming excursion and then rose fluidly from his chair. He held out his hand toward Mercedes expectantly. The mark of Aphrodite quirked a brow at him, but then laid her slender hand into his larger one delicately. Lifting the woman’s hand, he pressed his lips to the knuckles of her hand and allowed the kiss to linger before she withdrew her hand from his grip with a roll of her eyes. Dante had to admit that Mercedes was quite the challenge for him. His dark eyes traveled to Sophia with a bright glint of mischief. But perhaps out of pity, he refrained from teasing the warrior further.

Dante allowed the corners of his lips to remain quirked upward and turned to Lucas, “Flares I can certainly get you, along with some accelerant. The fire, I bring with me.” He grinned arrogantly. “Do we know what the mark itself looks like? It might be good to know what to look for?” He paused, his brows furrowing slightly, “And just what else Theia might throw at us might be good to know too.” Dante turned to head back out of the library, “But, let’s hope we don’t have to find out.” With that parting shot, the tall, elegant magician sauntered out the doors of the library to get things together. He still had to recover his armor, weapons, the items Lucas wanted and items for a journey. In his experience, things never went as planned.

Dante’s first stop was his rooms to retrieve his spear and stiletto daggers. They needed sharpening before he left. Upon entering his room, he found Dog there sitting next to his packed rucksack waiting patiently for him. Dante frowned at the beast, “I really wish you would stop doing that. It’s very disconcerting and, I’m supposed to be the magician here. Not you.”

Dog’s only answer was a tongue-lolling doggy grin and a friendly thumping of his tail on the wooden floors of the room.

“I swear I’m going to put a bell on you.” Dante muttered darkly. Two long strides took Dante to the wall where his spear and stilettos were hung. He took them down and grabbed up the rucksack before heading back out toward the smith. Dog trotted at his side, easily keeping up with Dante’s long-legged strides. Even with a dangerous mission on his horizon, Dante’s eyes roamed. Every woman that wandered within his sight was appreciated for her unique look; the curve of an elegant neck, a luxurious fall of golden hair, mature confidence or an athletic build. While he appreciated the ladies, he was also well aware of the eyes that followed him as he strode across the parade ground as well. He smirked slightly and stood just a little taller. Dog chuffed in what could only be interpreted as sarcastic commentary.

Dante paused slightly before entering the smithy. Oslowski was notoriously hard to deal with and would be even more so since Dante did not have the money he owed the smith to get his armor back. If one coupled that with the Mark of Hephaestus’ disfiguring burns and the miracle worker’s self-consciousness about his looks, then Dante would have to play his cards very carefully. Taking his courage in hand, Dante breezed into the hot and oppressive smithy with a hearty greeting.

“Oslowski, my good man! How have you been keeping yourself? Working too hard as always, I’ll wager?” Dante clapped the disfigured inventor on a massive shoulder.

The smith merely grunted at him aggressively. “Got my money? If not you can go out the way you came in.” He never looked up from the tiny firing mechanism of something similar to a gun, but miniaturized. The item was barely larger than the smith’s palm and yet his movements were delicate and precise.

“Actually, I have a proposal for you regarding that very thing.” Dante beamed confidently. “I am accompanying Lucas on a mission and I think I can acquire a material you have never been so lucky to work on before.” Dante paused for dramatic affect.

The smith attempted to ignore him, but Dante had piqued his interest. “Bull.” He grunted.

“Oh, but you doubt me? I am many things, my friend. But, I am not a liar.” Dante defended. Dante leaned close to the man conspiratorially. “Dragon scales, my friend. Lucas fancies himself a bit of a St. George.”

Oslowski jerked his head around to glare at Dante from his remaining eye. “He’s going hunting for one of the monstrosities we’ve been seeing more of?” He poked Dante hard in the chest with a strong blunt fingertip. “Get me some of those scales and we’ll call it quits, pretty boy.”

Dante straightened with a brilliant smile, rubbing the spot where the smith had jabbed him. He knew he’d gotten the smith on his hook. “Of course! Who else could possibly do more than you with them? I naturally thought of you first.” Dante showed the smith his spear and stilettos, “Since I owe you those scales, perhaps you’d be so kind…?”

The smith snarled some curse that Dante couldn’t quite interpret due to Oslowski’s ruined face and snatched the weapons out of Dante’s offering hands. “You really think you’re something, don’t you, Dante?”

While Oslowski sharpened and oiled Dante’s weapons, Dante busied himself donning his armor. Like everything else he owned, the armor was built with an eye to show off. The breast plate was made of dark Damascus steel with tracework over the pectorals in silver inlay that matched his tattoos of his mark of Hecate. He added his paldrons, greaves and vambrace all of the same dark Damascus steel that matched his affinity to the darkness. He finished having it all strapped on by the time Oslowski returned with his weapons.

A jaunty salute toward the smith was grumpily ignored and Dante headed back out to the main parade grounds. His next stop took him to the supply warehouse to get a dozen flares which went into his rucksack and several gallon jugs of kerosene. Thus weighed down, Dante headed toward the vehicle area to see if Brendan might have a vehicle settled yet.
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Ruu on Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:30 pm

Brenden listened quietly to Lucas' answers to the few questions posted by the members of the task force. So they wouldn't be getting any reinforcements from the Legion. Well, with the recent increased sighting of monsters, that was to be expected. The creature was most likely to be a dragon, most likely possessing both darkness manipulation and shadowwalk. And the teams were to be Lucas with Sophia, while he, Dante, and Mercedes were to form the other team. He felt his face flush just a bit at the thought of working closely with Mercedes, but quickly shook his head. That was an effect of a Mark of Aphrodite, and something he needed to become accustomed to quickly. He was also glad to be working with Dante. Though the older man could be a bit disconcerting at times, Brenden felt comfortable with him even with his odd selection of jokes. A fleeting expression of surprise passed over his features when Lucas tasked him with securing transport and a day's worth of supplies. That was usually the Commander's job, and the youth felt honored at being selected to perform such a task.

"No questions, sir," Brenden said with a smart salute, "I understand my orders."

With that quick statement he exited the room and made his way immediately towards the transport compound. The compound was a bustling place, filled with all manner of legionnaires, securing vehicles for numerous missions. Brenden's eyes scanned the area; there were a few vehicles sill remaining in the compound, though many of them were commissioned for business. He made his way over to a man with greying hair, shouting orders to a group of technicians. Gently, diffidently, he tapped the man on the shoulder. The man turned around with a rather annoyed expression on his face, but quickly smiled at seeing the youth.

"Brenden, lad, it's good to see you," he smiled, clapping the boy on the shoulder, "What can I do for you? Did you come to help me out again?"

"I'd like to, Kurtis, but I'm actually here on behalf of Commander Lucas. We've been detailed with a very important mission. Our team needs a vehicle with enough supplies for a day's operation commissioned an hour before sunrise," replied Brenden.

"Hmmm...I'm pretty tight as it is," Kurtis said slowly, "But you've helped me out many times before. Tell you what, I have one armored transport I usually keep reserved for emergencies, but this mission sounds fairly urgent. It will be ready for you by sunrise tomorrow with the appropriate weapons. I'm surprised you've been sent to secure the transport. Commanders don't usually leave that to just anybody. He must trust you, lad."

"Yes...well..." Brenden stammered, unused to such praise, "Thank you for your assistance, Kurtis. You've been very helpful to me."

"Of course, of course boy," grinned Kurtis, "You've done enough for me. Make sure you come back in one piece, you hear?"

"Don't worry, I'll be fine," grinned Brenden, "I've got great support."

Kurtis nodded before turning back to his technicians. Brenden turned to leave, when he spotted a familiar figure headed in his directions. He waved and smiled as Dante approached.

"Hello Dante," he said brightly, "It looks like we'll be working together on this mission. Were you able to collect the things that Commander Lucas asked for?"
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:56 pm

Sapphire’s dark cheeks burned. She no longer could hear the vitriol spewed at her from her Commandant. She’d been through this 6 times before, but it hurt every single time. Sapphire Olson tried over and over to make her commanders understand that though she was marked by a primordial goddess called Thetis, she did not share her patron’s insight into the future. Even in ancient times, leaders chose to interpret the words of the Oracles as they wanted to, whether it was true or not.

This last instance had been no different. In ancient Greece, the Oracle of Delphi told King Croesus that if he went to war a great kingdom would fall. The king went into battle against the Persians, but the great kingdom that fell had been his own. In that same way, Sapphire had been asked point blank by a hard-driving and ambitious commander whether the fortified building his squad had surrounded could be brought down. She’d tried to explain that she couldn’t tell for certain. All she saw was darkened scenes of death and the small glimpses of the bodies she saw were blue or burned.

The blonde mark of Zeus had taken his squad and marched them to their deaths. He had assumed that the ‘blue and burned’ dead had been the unnatural creatures they had been battling for so many years. Tragically, the images were, in fact, his and his squad’s bodies turned to stone and ash by a Medusa-type creature they had simply not been prepared to encounter. The ambitious commander refused to listen to Sapphire, certain that he knew best and Sapphire’s protests fell on deaf ears when she’d attempted to warn the camp’s Commandant.

And now, here she was being blamed for the death of 8 Legionnaires. The Commandant hurled accusations ranging from insubordination to collaboration at her. Sapphire bit back her temper the best she could. From past experience, she knew that reminding the Commandant that she’d argued against the mission and having been over-ruled would only serve to embarrass the Commandant and likely get her arrested out of sheer maliciousness.

It was only by a small miracle that the bold and independent Grand Rapids native kept her mouth shut. When she was finally dismissed, Sapphire immediately went to her own Commander and put in a request for a transfer. She’d had enough of being used as a scapegoat when her Commanders blinded by ambition or desperation failed and got men and women in their command killed. Reluctantly, her commander agreed and sent her along with other reinforcements from the command center in Chicago up to Detroit and Grand Rapids. Sapphire both looked forward to and dreaded being back in her hometown. She looked forward to seeing her brothers and sister once more. Her twin brother, Golden, on the other hand was another story. While all but her sisters had become Legionnaires, only Sapphire had been marked. Golden had taken this fact very badly and their formerly close relationship had soured. Sapphire had always regretted that her twin had distanced himself from her. She had to admit that she prayed that perhaps this time, he would be ready to talk to her again.
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Silvan Arrow on Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:53 am

Lucas conducted the planning meeting quickly and efficiently, answering everyone’s questions in turn before dismissing them with their assignments. Once again, Sophia did not like their odds if they were facing a dragon while hunting this Mark, and solid tactics could only carry them so far given their lack of outside support. However, she couldn’t help the slight thrill that rushed through her veins when Lucas announced the two attack teams. Her tactical side wanted to object and say that she and Lucas, the two most experienced fighters, should be on separate teams, but for once her emotional side stayed her tongue. With the meeting concluded, Dante sauntered out with his usual attitude to retrieve the flares and accelerator, while Brenden rushed off to commission the vehicle and supplies.

Once the group had dwindled to just her, Lucas, and Mercedes, Sophia cleared her throat to get their attention and held out a neat stack of handwritten notes. “Captain, here are the notes I’ve already compiled as per your instructions. The majority covers various folklore on dragons, but I also included some material on aquatic scaled creatures just in case.” She gave him and Mercedes a moment to peruse what she had compiled. “Just let me know what other information you want.”

“Very good. Mercedes, why don’t you sort through that information and correlate it to creature activity in our area, see if anything matches,” Lucas said as he set down his file on the table, “you’ll find it in here. Sophia, can you help me with something for a minute?” He walked to a back corner of the library where there was no one else.

Sophia gave her usual affirmative nod and followed Lucas further into the library. At first, she thought they were going to pull additional references on dragons or other mythological creatures. However, she quickly realized that they were nowhere near the reference sections dealing with monsters, and she didn’t see Lucas reaching for any of the old tomes lining the shelf. This time she didn’t bother to keep the confusion off her face, noting that they were completely alone. “Um…sir? What are we doing back here?”

“I… umm…” Lucas started. He wasn’t quite sure how to ask his question since he was born with his first Mark. He needed to know where the Persephone Mark was on his body. It could be anywhere but it was important he knew where it was. Gods and goddesses sometimes gave subtle hints about powers based on the location of the Mark. He hadn’t looked for it yet and had no idea where it was on his body. “I, ugh, need a favor.”

Sophia raised an eyebrow at the statement. “But of course, sir, you have only to ask. What kind of favor is it?” She had no clue why he looked so uncomfortable simply admitting that he needed help with something. Wasn’t that her job as his second-in-command?

“I need…” Lucas’ face turned red at this point as he finally blurted out his request, “you to help me find my new Mark.”

Sophia’s eyes widened in shock, and her face instantly turned an uncharacteristic shade of red as she understood the implication of what he was asking. “O-of course… I mean, you only just returned…” she stammered, trying and failing to maintain some semblance of composure. “B-but…” She looked around at their surroundings. Sure, the library was quiet, but it was still technically a public place. Her voice dropped to a hushed, slightly panicked whisper. “We need to do this…here?!”

“Like there’s a better place?” Lucas responded, still embarrassed. “It’s not on my face is it? Tell me I haven’t been being all commander-y and it’s been on my face the whole time!”

Despite, or perhaps due to, her own embarrassment, Sophia couldn’t stop herself from chuckling just a little bit. She felt slightly relieved to know Lucas felt just as awkward about the situation. “Hang on, let me check.” She took a step closer so she could see his face a little better in the dim lighting, yet still retaining a respectable distance in case someone happened to look around the corner and see them. She allowed herself a brief moment to really look at his facial features for the first time. His physical appearence had changed subtly since his time in the Underworld, but it didn’t take a Mark of Aphrodite to see that he was quite handsome, with brunette hair, strong cheekbones, and a commanding gaze of authority despite being younger than her.

Forcing her clouded mind to focus, Sophia managed a response. “I-I don’t see it on your face.” She craned her head to one side, then the other, and took the liberty of circling to visually inspect his neck and the parts of his arms that were exposed. “Still nothing.” She averted her gaze downward, but it didn’t help control the rising blush on her cheeks. “So…what now?”

Lucas felt slightly relieved when he heard that it wasn’t on his face and then realized, as she circled him still looking for the elusive Mark, that a further investigation would involve the removal of clothing. His face started to feel warm again. Trying to control his emotions he thought of what to remove first. “Umm let’s go with shoes first,” he said as he started removing his shoes. The mark was not on the top of his feet. He lifted them, one at a time, so she could inspect the bottom for the Mark. “Any luck?”

Sophia prayed silently that the Mark would be on his feet so they could avoid the situation getting any more awkward. Her throat tightened a little when she failed to spot the Mark on either the top or bottom of Lucas’ feet. ‘This had better not be Aphrodite, or worse, Athena’s idea of a joke,’ she thought grimly. She shook her head in response to Lucas’ question, and her blush only intensified. “N-nope, not on the feet.” She met his gaze and saw that he was just as red. “I guess…we keep looking?”

Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves he asked the most embarrassing question he had ever said to a legionnaire: “Shirt or pants?”

Sophia’s hand flew to her face in a feeble attempt to cover the blush that had spread to her neck and ears by this point. “Oh my gosh…” she muttered. Her other hand made some random frustrated, waving gesture. “S-shirt, please. And no offense, Lucas, but for the love of Aphrodite, I hope that’s the last place we have to look.”

Now sure his face was entirely red, he pulled off his shirt. Looking down at his chest he tried to frantically spot the Mark. It was nowhere to be found. “Is it back there?” he asked nervously.

For a moment, Sophia’s mouth went completely dry, rendering incapable of speech. She had seen male legionnaires being treated for wounds with their shirts removed, but this was the first time she had ever been in this kind of situation, where a completely healthy, not to mention handsome, man was voluntarily removing his clothing in front of her. And while she had no basis of comparison, she couldn’t deny that some part of her brain enjoyed the view, perhaps more than it should…

After giving herself a half second more than necessary to verify that the Mark wasn’t on his chest, Sophia forced her leaden feet to move so she could inspect his back. She allowed herself to step a little closer now that she was behind him, and it didn’t take long to find the elusive Mark. “Ah, I found it!” she exclaimed in a hushed whisper. “It’s right…” without thinking, her hand drifted towards the exposed skin, and her fingertips ghosted lightly over the Mark below his left shoulder blade, “…here.” The simple touch actually sent a brief shiver down her spine, and for a moment she wondered if Lucas felt it too. “It’s shaped like a black pomegranate seed.”

Reality suddenly hit like a bucket of cold water to the face, and Sophia abruptly stepped back, retracting her hand like it burned. “I-I’m sorry.” She averted her gaze and waited for him to put his shirt on again.

Breathing a huge sigh of relief he tried to quickly put his shirt back on. I am so glad that I didn’t have to take my pants off! Lucas thought.

“What’s going on here?” Angelena Bennet asked. Lucas jumped in surprise. The messenger had completely snuck up on them. “I would have thought Dante would be the one sneaking off with a woman.”

“I… umm…” for the first time in his life Lucas was completely speechless. He was usually quick with responses but now his mind was completely blank. He quickly put his clothes back on, hoping Sophia would be able to say literally anything in their defense.

‘Oh my gosh, think, think, think!’ Sophia thought frantically. This was exactly the situation she had feared from the beginning. She quickly moved in front of Lucas while he was scrambling to get dressed and stammered, “I-I know this looks bad, but…” She figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell the truth and tried to force the embarrassed stutter from her voice. “The captain asked for my assistance in locating his new Mark. Seeing as he just returned from the Underworld, we’re about to head out on a mission with minimal support, and the location of a Mark can often hint at the powers bestowed by the god or goddess, we deemed it prudent to have as much information as possible.” Her face was still red, and she prayed to Athena that Angelena would believe her.

“I never pictured you would fall for that line, Sophia. I swear everyone is losing their minds nowadays,” Angelena said giggling.

“Why are you here?” Lucas finally asked, now fully dressed.

“New orders for you Lucas. You know, for when you’re finished doing whatever it is you’re doing now,” Angelena said smiling.

“Sophia, why don’t you see if Mercedes found anything yet,” Lucas said, finally regaining his normally calm demeanor.

“Y-yes sir,” Sophia muttered, giving a quick salute before walking as quickly as possible, while still maintaining some dignity, back to where they had left Mercedes. By the time she rejoined the other woman, her cheeks were back to their usual color, and she hoped her unsettled state of mind wasn’t obvious on her face.

Unfortunately, Sophia didn’t think she fooled Mercedes. The Mark of Aphrodite raised a curious eyebrow but blessedly didn’t say anything. Sophia didn’t want to take any chances and instead directed the conversation. “So what did you find?” Even as she listened to Mercedes give a summary of what she had found, Sophia’s mind kept wandering back to what had just happened. A nagging doubt started forming in the back of her mind. Lucas had dismissed her so quickly that she wondered if he were ashamed of what they had just been caught doing, even though absolutely nothing had happened.

And, Zeus forbid, what if Angelena was right and Sophia had fallen for some cheesy line for Lucas’ amusement?

Sophia had never felt so confused before, and this time, not even the wisdom of Athena could help.

I don’t think Sophia could have taken any more embarrassment. Lucas thought as turned his attention to the new orders he was receiving. Usually orders for commanders’ ears only. “Let’s hear it,” Lucas said.

“There was a mix up with troop assignments. Mercedes was supposed to replace a commander in a different squad and you were supposed to get someone else. Here is their file,” Angelena said holding out a brown file.

“Will I get to keep her for the mission?” Lucas asked.

“No, your new recruit will be reassigned to you soon but Mercedes is needed right away,” Angelena said.

“Fine,” Lucas said annoyed.

“I didn’t think you were the type to try slick lines on the ladies, commander,” Angelena said. Lucas knew she was having way too much fun with this situation.

“Take her and go,” Lucas said dismissing Angelena. He watched her walk towards the table. He quickly looked over the service file to get an idea of who was replacing Mercedes. After a few moments he rejoined Sophia at the research table.

Sophia looked up from her notes as Lucas reappeared and took an empty seat at the table. Angelena was at his heels and turned to Mercedes. “I’m sorry for the trouble, Mercedes, but there was some confusion with the troop assignments, and you’re needed right away to replace a commander in another squad. If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to them now.”

Sophia did a double take at the announcement and shared a confused look with Mercedes. It wasn’t like the commanders to make a mistake like that, but there was nothing they could do about it now. After a few moments of hasty good-lucks and farewells, Mercedes left with Angelena, leaving Sophia and Lucas alone at the table.

An awkward silence hung over the two legionnaires for several long moments. After the events of the past few minutes, Sophia was hesitant to meet Lucas’ gaze for fear of what she might find. Had he really needed her help, or was this his perverted idea of a joke, as Angelena had insinuated? Athena was a wise patroness, but she provided no wisdom whatsoever when it came to dealing with the opposite sex. Sophia closed her eyes for a moment and allowed her mind to sublimate into the comfortable, familiar realm of battle tactics and the research she had already done. When she looked up and met Lucas’ eyes, her face was still a little red, but at least she could bring herself to speak.

“Well, that was unexpected,” she stated, nodding in the direction Angelena and Mercedes had gone. “So what now?”
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Sunwolf007 on Wed May 01, 2013 12:43 am

“Now we work on a strategy that is simple enough to be used against all enemies and effective enough to work for all of our opponents.” Lucas said. He picked up the list of dragons Sophia had made. Looking over her notes he checked the activity reports trying to eliminate some from the list. She had made a great list and he couldn’t eliminate any of the candidates.

“So it’s Ladon, Lernean Hydra, Python, Colchian Dragon, and the Ismenian Dragon,” Lucas said, “Lets cross reference who killed them and how. We can base our strategies off of that information.” He was eager to dive into the work after the massive embarrassment. Sophia seemed equally enthused. They both spent the next few hours finding the weaknesses of each. The list was easy to research with the exception of the Colchian Dragon. It, unlike the other 4, wasn’t killed in the ancient times. It wasn’t looking promising for the others that were slain either. The Ismenian Dragon was killed by Cadmus. Heracles killed the Hydra and Ladon. Apollo killed Python. All were powerful heroes and each had their special set of circumstances that made the hero win.

The basic strategy that Lucas was going with involved the two groups he split his squad into. There was the melee group consisting of Sophia and him. Their job was to get in close and deal with the pinning down the dragon for the ranged team to deal damage to it. If the melee team needed to withdraw the ranged team could provide support. If the range team needed to withdraw the melee team could hold off the dragon long enough for them to escape. Then he thought of 5 different tactics to use against each dragon based on the research.

Sighing Lucas stood up and stretched. It’s going to be the Colchian Dragon, I just know it. It’s the only thing that is basically unkillable on the list. If I was a goddess it’s what I would chose. Looking at his watch he noticed they had some time before the rest of the group arrived. He knew that they should probably talk about what happened. If they were going to do that then it should be before everyone arrived.

“So, um do you want to talk about what happened before the others arrive?” Lucas asked.

Sophia’s head jerked up from her notes at Lucas’ question. The past hours of research had provided a blessed respite of logic, tactics, and normality. Her faced burned at the thought of re-visiting the earlier fiasco, but she also knew that it would eat away at her concentration until they talked through it.

She glanced to the side, almost shyly, while her cheeks still held a tint of pink. “Um…I’m not really sure what there is to talk about, but…” She paused, gathering her thoughts. “Angelena said something earlier…implying that I fell for some line or joke by trying to help you find your Mark.” She hesitantly looked up to meet Lucas’ gaze. “That’s not…true, is it?”

“Well, with what she’s talking about it usually is the girl that ends up shirtless,” Lucas said trying to make a joke. Well, that was a stupid thing to say. he thought as his cheeks got a little pink “What I mean is that’s not what this… that was. I wouldn’t try to pull anything like that with you anyway. I think she was just saying stuff to mess with our heads. At least that’s what I thought… You think?”

Sophia blushed even more at the thought of her…being shirtless…in front of… At that moment, the Mark of Athena on her forehead burned momentarily, causing her to flinch slightly. ‘What was that?!’ she thought. Her Mark had never caused her pain, fleeting as it was, before. She started to lift her hand to feel if her Mark felt warm, then realized Lucas was still watching and turned it into a dismissive wave instead. “Yeah, you’re right. I…was just being paranoid.” She gave him a reassuring smile, hoping it looked genuine.

“You ok?” Lucas asked. They had been in research mode for a long time. She looked a bit worn out as she rubbed her forehead. “You need a break?”

Sophia gave him another smile and shook her head no. 'I must have just imagined my Mark burning.' She had clearly spent too much time in the library today. "Nah, I can push through until we're done, but thanks. I'll just sleep extra well tonight." She glanced out the window and checked the position of the sun. "Shouldn't the others be returning soon?"

“If they keep track of time as well as I do then yes,” Lucas said. It was well known that all Helios demigods could tell you what time of day it was while the sun was up. It was like they had an internal watch that only worked with daylight. Then there was something he had to ask. “Do you think Angelena will say anything to anyone?”

Sophia grimaced at the thought. “Dear gods, I hope not.” She gave him a martyred look. “She’s still pretty young and has a loose tongue, though. I hope she keeps it in check just this once.” She gave a quick laugh, despite herself. “I’m afraid the wisdom I receive from Athena doesn’t exactly help in these situations.”

“Well, hopefully Tyche is giving us some luck this time. Not that you could tell but I am not that experienced in these matters either.” Lucas said and then added a seductive smile, “Here I thought the goddess of wisdom would know everything.” He was glad things were working out between them. He was afraid that the awkwardness would create a wall between them. He was glad it didn’t.

Sophia blushed a little at the compliment and the sudden change in Lucas’ expression. However, she recognized his banter and grinned back. “I’m afraid you’ll have to consult Aphrodite for that particular wisdom, but for now, I’ll drink to Tyche.”

“So will I. We are going to need some luck to take out any one of these dragons,” Lucas said getting back to the matter at hand. “Any ideas on the likely candidate?”

Sophia perused the list again, biting her lower lip in thought. "Honestly, I don't relish the thought of going up against any of these dragons, but it would just be our luck to face the Colchian Dragon. We have the least amount of information on that one, and I have a feeling Theia knows it."

“I agree. Well the others should be arriving at any moment,” Lucas said, “I don’t think they will like being told that we are going after something we have no idea how to kill. Any suggestions on how to break it to them?”

Sophia just shrugged. She wasn't used to leading. "All we can do is be open and honest with them. We tell them what we know, what we suspect about the Colchian Dragon, and then try to assure them that these strategies," she tapped on the notes with her finger, "are still our best chance of success."

“Sounds good,” Lucas said. Be open and honest. Wonder if that’s what I should do with my feelings. Maybe Athena is more helpful than she realizes. He heard footsteps approaching their table and looked to see who had arrived back first.

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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Digital Muse on Wed May 08, 2013 11:05 pm

The trip from Chicago back to Grand Rapids had been long, they’d fought off the raids of mythological creatures 3 different times and lost good men and women along the way. Sapphire had almost been burned alive in friendly fire when she’d returned from one of her patrols. When her platoon arrived at the compound they were met with messengers wanting news for the generals, medics for the wounded and supply sargeants to arrange for their billets. Most of her group peeled off to shower and then fall into their bunks. Perhaps not even in that order.

Sapphire was torn. She wasn’t sure what she should do first. She was dirty, beyond tired from scouting patrols, hungry and had some minor burns on her left side. They were more irritating than dangerous. Despite all that, this was her home. She wanted to see her family, particularly her twin brother. They hadn’t spoken in several years because he’d never forgiven her for being marked when he had not. Sapphire missed his easy laugh terribly, she had to admit. As she half-stumbled across the parade ground toward the barracks that she’d been assigned, she realized that no one would want to have anything to do with her until she got cleaned up.

Aiming herself toward the barracks, she heard her name being called, “Corporal Olson. Corporal, one moment, please?” Sapphire turned wearily and saw a dark-haired Mark of Hermes trotting to catch up with her. Sapphire was weaving on her feet, but she smiled at the boy. “Come along, babydoll. I got a date with a very hot shower.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” The young man saluted smartly making Sapphire suddenly feel very old. The young man crisply handed Sapphire a sealed envelope. “Orders, Ma’am.” He had the good grace to look a little apologetic since Sapphire looked so wiped out. “Sorry, Ma’am.”

Sapphire took the envelope with suddenly cold fingers and stared at it blankly.

“Commander Lucas is in the library, Ma’am. You’re to report immediately.” The Mark of Hermes saluted once more and took off at a trot back to the administration building.

Standing there, Sapphire opened the envelope and read her new orders assigning her to Commander Lucas’ team effective immediately. “Lord, lord, lord.” Sapphire groaned. “Hope this boy knows what he’s doing.” Turning, she looked toward the library. “If he asks one question about telling his fortune, I’ll have to give him a piece of my mind.” She straightened and did her best to brush the dust as best she could from her uniform and tried to pull the wrinkles from it. She dragged her fingers through her hair and managed some semblance of order to it just as she gained the entry to the library.

Stepping inside, Sapphire paused to let her eyes adjust before heading more fully into the library’s interior. Looking around, she caught the sound of voices in a research section of the library and headed in that direction. She came across an obvious Mark of Athena and someone she assumed was Commander Lucas. Striding as confidently as she could considering the condition she was in, Sapphire saluted and inquired. “Commander Lucas, sir? My name is Corporal Sapphire Olson. I’ve been assigned to your unit.” She held her salute waiting for Lucas to give her the at ease. “I apologize for my uniform, sir. We just got in.” As an afterthought she added, “My mark is that of Thetis, sir. Here are my orders.” She handed the man the envelope given to her by the messenger not 5 minutes earlier.
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Digital Muse on Thu May 09, 2013 12:25 pm

Even loaded down with the items he’d been sent to get and being in his armor, Dante managed to move with elegant laziness. Dog trotted alongside him, his tail swishing back and forth in the air good-naturedly. When Dante spied Brendan waving at him, he changed course to join the young Mark of Apollo. “There you are, Brendan.” He lifted the jugs of kerosene to show Brendan. “I did indeed fulfill my treasure hunt. And you?” His eyes lifted to the truck Brendan indicated. “Excellent.” His tone was far from enthusiastic, though. “No springs at all in these things.” He murmured.

Hefting the kerosene jugs up into the back of the truck, Dante added his rucksack with the flares and his own gear. He always assumed they’d be stuck away from the camp for some time and packed accordingly. Perhaps it came from his mark, Hecate. She was a traveler, after all. With the things secured in the back of the truck, Dante turned to face Brendan once more. “I expect we shou-.” He started to say. But, he stopped when he saw Dog leaning heavily against Brendan’s legs begging for scratches. In fact he was leaning so hard, Brendan might be knocked over entirely which would give Dog full access to the boy’s lap.

Dante rolled his eyes, “Honestly, you are incorrigible, you flea-ridden beast.”

Dog merely looked up at him, his tongue lolling in a doggie grin.

“Oh don’t try that dumb animal act with me. I know better. Don’t think you’re smarter than me.”

Dog merely sneezed his disagreement.

Dante threw his hands up, “Of all the companions I could have been given, why wasn’t it a stunning-looking woman like our Mercedes, hm?”

Dog appeared to have no answer for him, merely wagging his tail in slow swishes.

The exchange appeared to be one Dante and Dog had regularly because there was no heat in Dante’s words at all. Dante finally lifted his eyes to Brendan, “Well. I expect we should be getting back to see what the Commander and our lovely Sophia have uncovered.” His lips twisted into a wickedly amused grin when he said that. Remembering Brendan’s earlier comment, about working together, Dante nodded. “Ah, yes. Well, with luck the creature will be susceptible to light where you can step in. However, if they are susceptible to darkness, then I can most certainly cover that angle. Dante dug into his pocket for a tiny wooden top. Spinning it in his fingers momentarily, he lifted his opposing fist. Opening it suddenly, a ball of blue flame appeared in his palm. “And if neither, perhaps fire, hm?” His grin became a grim predatory grimace. “Most things are, I’ve found.”

The pair arrived back at the library and entered it’s cool, dim interior. Making straight for where they’d left Lucas and Sophia, Dante saw the back of a dusty uniform and dark hair. His face suddenly bloomed with a smile. Holding his hands out to form a triangle between his forefinger and thimbs, he peered at the back of the newcomer in front of him. “Well, now. I recognize that lovely backside. It’s been a while, Sapphire.”

Sapphire’s face crinkled into a small frown. “Dante. don’t you got no better sense than that?You know I don't got no time for you.” She turned to watch him approach. “I see you been reassigned. Again.”

Dante’s smile did not falter one iota. “As have you. Though you do look a little worse for wear, I must say.” He tilted his head at her and quirked a brow, “Even through the dust, however, you are ravishing.”

Sapphire shook her head and sighed, “You can just back up now. I had your number long ago and you can't talk yourself around me.”

Dante placed a hand over where his heart would be beneath his armored breast plate. “Sapphire,” he chided. “I have never spoken an untruth to you.” His eyes sparkled as he spoke to the new addition. “Though I am curious about what you are doing here.”
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

Post by Ruu on Tue May 14, 2013 5:10 pm

"I know it's not the best," Brenden admitted, "But it's the only transport they have right now. There are many missions going on."

He looked down when something nearly knocked him from his feet. He grinned when he saw Dog and gave in to his demands, gently scratching the animal's back.

"Oh, it's alright," Brenden laughed, "I don't mind. I think he's a very good dog."

Brenden could've sworn he saw Dog perk his ears before looking at Dante with a rather sly expression. He smiled lightly at their exchange, knowing that Dante's words held no bite. He nodded when the older man said they should get back, smiling enthusiastically at his mention of their abilities. The boy was still somewhat awed by the fire, never tiring of the Mark of Hecate's tricks.

"We'll make a great team! I just know we can do this!" the mark of Apollo said confidently.

Moments later, the two made their way to the library, where Dante greeted a woman who was unknown to Brenden. He would have introduced himself, but Dante and Sapphire began speaking to each other, and by the tone of their words, the boy thought it would be unwise to interrupt. Still, he was interested in the fact that they had a new member now. Hopefully, all of them working together would be able to complete whatever task was set before them.
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Re: From the Ashes: Prelude to Victory

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