Thursday, August 11, 2011

Private Places--but not quite like that.

So I did some of that thinking stuff, and I realized that I'm being a prick.

Big surprise.

I mean, in all fairness, I'm still pretty convinced that Harlan was the only one who *could* have made me see what I did in Nieflheim, but even so the visions or hallucinations or whatever didn't cause any real harm, and I shouldn't really be so pissed. It just kind of crossed a line in my head between shit I could deal with and shit I couldn't.

That's, uh, for later. Story time Mr. Journal, and good gods do I hope no one ever reads that I wrote the words "Mr. Journal" in here.

So, for the sake of keeping myself on track here--since I keep getting so F'ing side-tracked otherwise--I should probably recap what's going on. The world is ending. Laurel is pregnant with our twins. We went to Helheim to ask Hel to give us Marie's body (so we can put Marie back together and hopefully get a new way to approach defeating Kane). Hel told us she wanted us first to find out why Loki had frost giants steal the Black Feather Shroud from her. So we had set off to talk to Utgard-Loki, king of frost giants who I was about 99% certain would give us the information we wanted.

Now, I had gotten a letter from my dad saying something about frost giants pulling one over on him and that he was going to be in Norway. So I figured this was a pretty damn good place to start looking for frost giants. One look at a map of Norway and I notice there's a gods-damned "Jotenheim" mountain range. I mean, it's freaking called 'giant town,' how much more obvious can you get? But still we head up to check it out. But on the way there Laurel does something absolutely amazing.

So we're on a ferry, and I'm kicking her ass at poker. Harlan's doing a crossword. I don't blame him really, even with Laurel winning every hand of poker is only so much fun. Then cupid shows up. Apparently Orlando Bloom is cupid. He may have claimed that he just looked like him, but I'm calling b.s. Cupid was in the Pirates movies, and you can quote me on that.

Anyway, that's not what was involved with Laurel reminding me why I love her. So, with the three of us out on a boat, naturally it gets attacked. Apparently by Shinobi and a big-ass shark. Not quite as enormous as the shark from the Guinee trip, but still pretty big. We are trying to fight the shark when some kid, thrown off the boat, gets swallowed whole by the freaking shark. So I know that Laurel has this thing about kids. She does not let kids get hurt around her, and certainly doesn't let them die. So knowing that she's going to do something awesome, I grab the axe out of her hand so that hopefully I can finish murdering this shark once she's done her amazing feat--and she didn't disappoint.

She grabbed the side of the boat, half threw herself and half parkour'ed along the side of the boat until she landed right in the middle of all the stranded people, and then she just... she just made a giant invisible force-field in the water. It kept the ship from sinking down any more, kept the people from getting sucked under, and beached the freaking shark. So I cut it's tail off, and she shoved her bare hands down its throat and pulled the kid out, pouring her heart and soul into making sure he didn't die on the spot.

After a second or two when people managed to figure out what the fuck just happened they sort of started applauding her. Like you would applaud a firefighter who just pulled a kid out of a burning building... except this was a woman who had just pulled a ferry full of cars, and about twenty people out of the dangerous November waters of the North Sea, not to mention extracting a child from a great-white shark's gullet. An idea struck me, but by the time it did Laurel was busy swimming everyone to shore like fucking superman flies the airplane full of passengers to its final destination and sets them down without a bit of turbulence.

When we got to the town on the far side this huge crowd got around her and was trying to get photos and videos with their phones, and get statements from her and all sorts of stuff. Luckily I had an idea (this thinking stuff is starting to pay off.) I stepped forward and started passing out business cards and telling people to call me, leave me a message, and if they were with the press maybe we'd be able to schedule a time for her to meet with you. But more so they were asking who she was and stuff and so I told them "She's The Doctor." Apparently this tickled Laurel more than a bit when I told her what I'd said to them (she doesn't speak Norwegian.)

One of the other things I said to her though was "I have two words for you--endorsement deals." Seriously. All I have to say is that if Calel didn't care so much about being normal, all he had to do was wear Nike brand spandex and he'd never need to work another day in his life.

We eventually got to the national park with the mountain ranges and after sort of tricking this park ranger into thinking we were a bunch of horny twenty-somethings off to have a romp in the forest we set out looking for giants. It took a little while to find them, but Jack Frost helped out. He seemed like a cool dude (no pun intended.) Except the way he was dressed just seemed... ...cheesy. He was wearing an un-buttoned hawaian shirt over a wife beater with surf shorts and flip-flops, and he was sun-bathing on top of a mountain inside the arctic circle in the middle of winter. But he was pretty smooth. He pointed the way to the giants. Seems like a nice guy.

So we make our way over there and find out word travels fast out of Nifelheim, so we were expected. We go down a hole, find some guard dogs, I give Laurel a look when she nearly strands herself in Jutenheim while five months pregnant, and Harlan and I set off to talk to Utgard.

While on the way though I had the realization I mentioned earlier, and so I told Harlan. I basically told him that he seemed like a good guy, and I really ought to trust him more, and that he said it wasn't him, and so I was going to decide to take his word on that--but that if it was, just sort of for future reference, it crossed a line. But I made it clear that I didn't want to make an enemy of him. Not entirely sure what sort of impression I really made. He can be hard to read sometimes.

We met Utgard. He is a jerk. By that I mean he's incredibly manipulative. He told us what we wanted to know pretty easily. That wasn't so bad. It was afterwards, when he asked us a favor that things got messed up. He said he had one of Loki's hairs--something with some serious magical power if used properly--and would be willing to give it to us if we saw to it that Cook Inc. fell back into his hands instead of into Kane Taoka's. Well, I'd been planning to kill Kane for a while, so I had little qualms with this.

But when that forsty footed two-faced son of a fucking--...

But when Utgard-Loki wheeled my father out, practically pin-cushioned in place by icicles, and said that this was the *other* possible trade, and offered Harlan a half-share in the fate of a god, I swear I wanted to do a great many rather unpleasant and ill-advised things. But I didn't. I just glared at him, and as I was leaving I told my dad I was sorry.

The second we got back out I prayed to Odin. He should know where my dad is, whether or not he was ready to do anything about it. Then we started driving. And then I got a call from Brendan.

"Gunnar, hi, it's Brendan."
"Hey, what's up?"
"Well, uh, we just dug up Loki in Mag'Mel. Like the real Loki. And we need to contact Odin. And we figured you might know how t--" and about there I hung up, full-stopped the mustang on an icy country road, and started praying to Odin.

"Dear Odin. Loki is in Mag'Mel"
Lightning bolt = Odin appearance (or Zeus, but we won't go into that.)

"Mag'Mel is in Ireland!" I said in exhasporation.
"I know that! This is the second time in such a short period that you and your freinds have claimed to have found him. If he isn't there, you're paying the price. You're coming with me." So he grabbed me by the collar, and then I was in Ireland.

My first thought when I found myself in Ireland? "I have got to learn how to do that."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Mustang's Saddle Bags

Also known as a trunk.

We've been on the road a while, now. I've been thinking. At least I've been thinking while I've been here in the trunk. When it's my turn to sit up front (taking turns with Harlan so that neither of us has to ride the whole thing back here and Laurel gets a seat the whole time) I spend the time thinking too, just a little differently.

What I've been thinking about is life. Life is important. I mean, saving lives is kind of what I do. Ending them too. But I'm really not very good at either one of those things. Most of my attempts at ending lives are dangerous to the lives I'm trying to save, and most of my attempts at saving lives have been full of attempts to end different lives. Seems to me there's a problem here.

I figure it's in the approach. I mean, maybe it's just the last waning ounces of adolescent boorishness, but until recently (read: the past several months) I hadn't encountered a real problem I couldn't meet head-on and conquer. I mean, even my mom's health problems I could do something about--take her to the hospital, get her good doctors, do my best to make her comfortable and calm. But that sort of straight-forward approach doesn't really seem to work on this Titanic, world-saving shit. At least, it hasn't been working all that well.

Sarah's dead, and I'm pretty sure her ghost is lost to titans.
She died because we had no idea what to do when the fucking ninjas popped out of everywhere and started sticking swords in us.
Her ghost was lost because we had no idea what sort of dangers we were facing in Guinee, much less how to deal with them once they made themselves known.

Loki has the device--whatever the fuck it really does.
He managed to get a hold of it because we didn't really know what to do or to expect after we got out of Wolfsheim with it.

I nearly blew up my pregnant wife--even if she would have lived.
When we left for the underworld I took a bunch of explosives. I figured they would come in handy. They would have, if I had a fucking brain. Instead I used a tenth of them rather ineffectively, and then took twice that much and nearly detonated it with basically all of my allies in the area in the blast radius. I mean, Laurel would have lived--because she's just amazing like that--Ciara would have been fine because she could get hit by an exploding Nemian tank traveling at twice the speed of sound and probably laugh about it. Brendan wasn't too close, but Nate isn't the hardest guy in the world to hurt, and Harlan is squishier than a fucking sponge.

Luckily everyone managed to get out of the way and only I got hurt, but when everyone had to hurl themselves back--and pull someone else with them if possible--to get out of the way I realized how absolutely insane I had been. I mean, I detonated two pounds of semtex less than three feet from my pregnant wife. That's like six pounds of dynamite. You know those sticks of dynamite they show in films? That's twelve of those. You know when someone uses twelve sticks of dynamite, they're trying to take out an entire building and everything in it.

And fuck if everyone else would have lived--I'm pretty sure that Caleb would probably have hurt more cutting one of us than the explosives really would have--but explosions don't have to aim, they can hit everything. They don't have to try to hit Laurel in the gut, it would just happen. What the fuck would I have done with myself if I had let that happen... if I had made that happen?

Hell if I know.

But I realized that immediately. I mean, probably between pushing the detonator button and the actual explosion it clicked, and I felt like a giant asshole. Then I saw Laurel, screaming in pain, the fire burning all over her. I tried to put out the flames, but a moment later the illusion ended.

Now, I'm not dumb. I know proclivities when I see them, and that Harlan may be a good guy--or seem like one--but he's got some of his dad in him; I can fucking smell it. And when he tried to convince me that it wasn't him who put me under that illusion, I swear I wanted to break his neck. The second I saw that it was an illusion I wanted to break someone's neck. I mean, what fucking hubris to think it's their fucking job to teach me a lesson? Do they think I'm a fucking child who needs to see an acting out of the consequences of an action in order to understand that it's wrong? That gods-damned, self-righteous, arrogant prick, I swear if he ever makes me think that I've harmed my loved ones again, or if I even think he has--he won't wake up one morning, and they'll be picking pieces of his pretty face up off the street at least thirteen blocks away.


I suck at thinking. Whenever I really set out to think about something I end up thinking an awful lot more about something that either really fucking depresses me or really fucking makes me wish I could bury a septet of fifty-caliber rounds in someone.

I need to fix that.

Maybe I should practice thinking.

Monday, August 1, 2011

{Wolf; Nibel; Hel} -heim.

Apparently it's November.

Eighteen days ago, it was August.

Figure that one out.

Got to Germany, got cool car from dad, went to meet everyone in some town near some other town.

Met Loki-spawn, met Bastet's kid, both seem alright.

Went to Wolfsheim, met more Loki-spawn, Fenrir's kids actually, and was told to leave. I disobeyed. Screw those guys.

Met Brunhilda, went to Nibelheim, spent 9 days nearly freezing to death--killed giants, nearly killed giant snake, nearly killed everything in the world I hold dear trying to kill dragon. Not a fun trip.

Got to watch Ciara kick ass and take names.

Got the Helheim. Hel looks like two-face. Also, she's kind of a bitch. Needs more batman.

Have to find out why Loki used frost giants to steal shrowd from her before she'll give us Marie.

Going to Norway to look for the king of frost giants and ask him nicely to reveal Loki's sinister plot. Hoping not to die.

Also, apparently it's November now. -- Fuck underworlds.


Personal Note: World is collapsing from the inside out. Probably Nicola Tesla and Loki's faults. Kinda makes me sad. Nicola Tesla always seemed like a cool guy. Who doesn't like David Bowie?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Insanity and Mexico

I think my wife is nuts. I mean it. There's something wrong with her. She made a deal with Dionysus. I mean, okay, she could have made a worse deal, but that guy bothers me. I don't like anyone who can get me drunk.

Anyways, I won't blame her. I mean, she was just trying to feed a few hundred people--and unlike Jesus she can't break a loaf of bread into 200 people's worth of food.

Besides, she's hardly the craziest bitch I know. There's Erzulie for that. After months of harassment by the furies on her behalf and the lingering steal-your-baby threat, the minute we get back from Guinee with Marie's ghost, this woman shows up in our house acting like we're best of friends. Bitch even polished off the green tea.

On the bright side, since she's playing nice, Laurel's apparently gotten her little "murderer" label removed--of which I'm appreciative--but has also learned that apparently the last little fury, the one that hasn't visited her yet, holds a grudge. But, you know what? I'd bet Laurel can take her. And if she tries coming after our friends, they'll smack her down. And if she tries coming after our kids, Jack will show her what's what.

Yeah, I tracked Jack down (by which I mean I called him and dropped by his place to chat) and got him to agree to take care of our kids. It was vaguely guilt-trip-ish. I mentioned how the only other person we could really ask was my mother who would be woefully unprepared for the danger associated with raising another scion, much less a pair of them. He gave me some crap about how they'd have to work the ranch and shit, and frankly I didn't much care, I know he won't be abusive to them, I know he'll be able to keep them in line, and I know he'll be able to keep them alive.

I'm glad Laurel suggested talking to him.

But what got me is that he has a fucking griffon. I could tell he was trying to keep the thing out of sight (it was several miles away) but that didn't stop me from noticing. I didn't say anything since I'm not a fan of provoking people's paranoia, but when we come back with the kids, I'm totally demanding a ride.

Anyways, his ranch is out in middle-of-no-where Mexico, so it will at least be pretty secluded for the kids to grow up and discover their amazing super powers.

... Damn, I'm out of ways to stall. I finished learning German already and I still have twenty minutes before we touch down in Deutschland. I'm on my way in because apparently Laurel needs another set of eyes. Pardon, apparently Laurel needs my set of eyes. Also, I hear I have a cousin of sorts in the area. A scion of Loki. I've promised to not necessarily kill him. I was a little offended when Laurel asked me to promise that--I haven't once attacked Sly with the intention to kill him. I've rather nearly attacked him with the intention to seriously injure on several occasions though.

...I need to make sure he hasn't moved out of that address he gave me in Chicago. I'll have to keep a mental note to pay him a visit next time I'm in town.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guinee Part 2

So we're in the boat, descending into the deep. And a bunch of fish come and start eating up the memories of the dead people who still have them. They also start kind of crowding around Laurel and I, which creeped me out a bit. That is until Jaws rammed a hole in the boat and a fucking siren (I believe Laurel prefers the term 'sea hooker') started luring us all out the hole. Well, she lured us out until Laurel chopped her in half.

I love my wife.

But yeah, so then there were these weird five-handed sea monkeys that went after the memory fish. But we were a little preoccupied with the delusion that we could hurt this shark. After a little while we realized how futile that was and went back inside to find almost all the memory fish gone and their sea-monkey attackers already in retreat. I went up on deck and found a whole bunch of Nommo doing combat with the ship's crew. Augwe seemed like he'd really rather be fighting than steering the damn ship, so I relieved him of his duties and steered the enormous under-water sail boat (with a bit of help from Laurel)

It didn't take long for the fight to end, really. And once it was over we pretty much just kept on going down. The ghosts, no longer with any memories, went back to partying, and eventually a giant crab indicated that it was time to get off by means of giant fucking pincer clamp. Before we got off, though, Augwe mentioned that, oh by the way, he's Erzulie's husband and he's rather acutely aware of why we're down here. Oh really!? Why didn't you tell us sooner Augwe? Like when we saw you on the surface and you could have not put us in the awkward position of wondering whether we were about to be stranded at the bottom of the ocean in hostile territory!

The prick.

Anyways, he let us leave, and we swam down a tunnel. And then kept swimming down the tunnel. And there was some more swimming down the tunnel after that. Then we finally got to Guinee--a big ol' city full of dead people, and almost every one of them partying down. I'm actually getting pretty lazy here, so I'm going to skip the boring parts.

Long story short, we swim around looking for the Baron, we run into Bridgitte (who is still cool), we meet some lady with a name I never quite got the spelling of, and then the entire city is royally boned by a massive sea-snake (eel, whatever) and his side-kick the pirate squid. I'm serious, this shit sounds like a bad plot to a kid's movie. Like a bad plot to a bad kid's movie at that--the good guys lost. And I'm not joking here. They plowed huge troughs through the city, raked up ghosts onto that ship, and kicked the shit out of Baron Samedi. Oh yeah, and me? I was pretty much useless. The only thing I found that I could actually effect in any meaningful way was the boat... and it healed! Who makes boats that heal their wounds at noticeable rates!? (Then again, who makes sail-boats that work under water?)

Once again. Whatever.

The important part of all this was that we lost them. Victor and Sarah. We lost them. I'll be honest, I'm not exactly a man pure of heart. By the age of twenty five I'd killed seven people (well, mortally wounded. I hardly bothered to make sure they were dead.) And to this day I really don't feel bad about Victor. I seem to remember promising to break his arms and shoot him in the head. So I really didn't care less that he was gone--except that he was supposed to be part of the bargaining chip (which still seems kind of wrong) for getting Marie. But that aside Sarah was gone. Fuck me, I just can't really protect people. I mean it just seems weird. In my mundane life I was almost the ultimate protector of people. I would go to incredible lengths and brave incredible dangers just to save people's lives. And I always succeeded. But it's starting to get to the point that things are just spiraling completely out of my league. I mean I've failed this woman twice now, and I've spent a total of about 90 hours in her presence--living and otherwise.

I mean, I can see the danger coming from miles away, but I can't seem to do anything about it. Maybe I should go do some push-ups. At least it'll get my mind off this shit.


By the way, to anyone who may be reading my journal, just imagine my life like a cross between Edith Hamilton's mythology (look that shit up) and Enter Sandman by Metallica.

Also, fuck you! Put my journal down!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Guinee Part 1

So I just got back from a magical underwater land where dead people spend eternity getting wasted and partying down. I gave my mom a call to tell her I was back and doing well, but the conversation went sort of like this.

Me: "Hey mom. I'm back fro--"

Mom: "I don't really want to know."

Me: "Is something wrong?"

Mom: "No, actually things have been very nice since I saw your father again and since the wedding... but I just don't want to have to worry about you anymore. My doctor told me I shouldn't get my blood pressure up too much."

Me: "Sure thing mom."

So, yeah, I guess out of respect for not giving my mother heart attacks, I'm stuck with this journal thing.


So Laurel and I decided to finally head down to Guinee--the Loa underworld-- and get back the ghost of Marie Glapion, this woman that Laurel shot in the face in an attempt--successful attempt I should add--to save Nate's life.

Short version of the following story: I was useless, Laurel did everything.

Long version of the story: I was useless, but I got to steer a fucking tri-mast frigate under water! while Laurel did everything.

So we got ourselves ready to go. Apparently Apollo had given Laurel a ring ahead of time so she'd be able to survive deep underwater. I, however, had no such ring and had to bring a nommo eye--and hold it in my mouth for almost four days. In the mean time Laurel got to wear a wet suit--which I should add are rather form fitting and attractive--while I got to look like aqua-man's half-shark cousin.

We went to Bridgitte's grave in New Orleans, Laurel did a little marking on the tombstone, and we were in the water. Then Augwe came by in Imamu--the aforementioned tri-mast frigate--and plucked us out of the water for the trip down to Guinee. Below decks there was a party. A serious party. The kind of party where if you're not having a good time, there must be something seriously wrong with you (or I guess you could just not like parties--but I think that means that there's something wrong with you.) But as the ship started to dive--yeah, like a fucking submarine--I started to be able to see all the ghosts and stuff.

Now, before we'd left Berkeley, we'd gotten a bit of a present from Camilla. The present was a pair of scion souls from her dad that we could exchange for Marie when we got to Guinee--how sweet. I couldn't see them then, but Laurel said it was some guy and some gal, and the guy was Victor Fingers. So I didn't feel too perturbed. But when I started being able to see the ghosts on the ship I saw her... and it was someone I recognized. It was, in fact, the first innocent person (maybe innocent doesn't apply, but the term 'good guy' certainly would have) I ever saw die right in front of me. I'd seen plenty of people die before that--but they were always gangsters, drug cartel gunmen, professional hit men, or the like. But on my way to Vegas, on my way to meet my dad for the first time, I met this woman Sarah who seemed really sweet and intelligent--even if she was dressed a bit like Xena, Warrior Princess at the time.

She and I fought a big, Japanese demon together that tried to kill us and blew up a gas station. We drove together for about three days in search of her owl and then on the way to Vegas. We even stopped together at a hospital for some much needed demon-related treatment. I mean, we were hardly best friends, but I was getting to think she was someone I could consider friendly--and trust me that list was pretty short at the time. But just a little ways outside of Vegas we come upon this huge car accident... and while we're getting out to see what's going on these fucking shadow-ninja-things (shinobi) come out of basically everywhere and start attacking us. They killed her. And in cold blood. I fought as hard as I could, but I wasn't prepared for this nonsense, and I couldn't save her. What almost hurt more was the look on her mother's face. She was a daughter of Athena (adoptive, obviously) and her mother arrived in person to collect the body. And she was obviously heart-broken. I swear, you can tell people who say Steel Magnolias is sad to sit on it and spin. You don't know real sadness till you see it face to face in the eyes of a mother who has just discovered her child's corpse.

Anyways, I guess I'd never really realized until I saw Sarah's ghost there in that boat, chained to our little scroll case, waiting to be traded for Marie, just how much it had hurt me and just how much it had pissed me off. And what was worse was that she didn't remember. She didn't remember anything. Nothing I could do or say to her seemed to call back to her mind anything I could relate to, any way I could tell her I was sorry for letting that happen--for not seeing that trap coming and throwing that car into reverse so hard the world spun the other way around. I couldn't do shit.

I decided two things right then and there. The first one was that when Laurel and I make our own pantheon--no one forgets. She had the same thought. That's always a good sign.

The other thing I decided though is something a little more serious. I mean, it was something I had known I was going to do anyways, but now it's on the list. It is a 100% clarified goal in my life to hunt down Kane Taoka and exact upon him the most horrible of pains before he dies--and just as he does die to tie his eternal soul to a fucking television set and turn that tv onto a fucking Barnie the Dinosaur marathon, then lock that television in the most remote room of the most remote building in the most remote area of the hardest-to-find extra-dimensional space in the entire universe--lock the fucking door and melt the key down into a necklace. For, if there is a worse fate than an eternity of the most superficial, pseudo-optimistic tripe to have ever been produced by man kind, I'm yet to hear of it.