By Capn Rin Scotts and Hazelcats
Stella almost wished she hadn’t answered the phone.
Of course, that would’ve only resulted in even more problems, but the day still went on as normal-boring and tiring.
She had been watching her little brother Seth when she’d gotten the call. It had been from one of her father’s assistants-Zeus would never actually take the time to try and talk to his daughter-telling her she had been chosen for an investigation, was to report to Olympus the next day, and other information would be emailed to her immediately. Stella had barely been able to get a word in before the girl had hung up.
“Stellabella!” Seth appeared in front of her as she set the phone down, looking up, excited. “Who was that?”
Stella gave a small, tired smile. “Just a friend, Seth,” she said with a imperceptible sigh. Seth seemed to take this as a good answer, and quickly went back to the tv. Stella grabbed her laptop the moment Seth was, once again, completely occupied with the tv.
Lo and behold, the very first email, only sent moments before, sat on the very top of her inbox. Clicking on it, Stella quickly reviewed the information. It wasn’t much-it told the address she’d be staying at, how she should be on Olympus by four tomorrow morning, and she was not to go anywhere that wasn’t walking distance from the residence she was to stay at.
It had absolutely no information on the actual investigation.
It did, however, contain the details of a fully-paid one-way coach passenger ticket for a 7:30 am flight from Seattle to New York. But despite the rare generosity Olympus had given her, she couldn’t help wonder how hard it would’ve been to get a later flight in first class.
Rachel wasn’t sure what she had been expecting when she reached Olympus. She’d sometimes imagined it as a sparkling white paradise, with singing nymphs and street performers and flowers and statues of the gods every ten feet. Other times she’d imagined a big, dark castle with torches and a moat. Instead, it was sort of a mix.
Olympus was big. Staring up at it from the elevator, that was her first thought-big and intimidating. But it was not dark and medieval, and she was almost certain it didn’t have a moat. And even though it was definitely a paradise, it seemed to be more....modern then she would have expected. The closest things she could see were gardens and a few statues. But past that-it was almost like a large city. She could see stores and restaurants and clubs and even some apartment complexes and houses.
Adjusting the bag that hung over her shoulder, she walked through the crowded streets, studying the paper Artemis had given her. Rachel couldn’t deny the proud feeling she felt while looking at the instructions that had been carefully written by the goddess. She had finally been chosen for a quest after all these months, and a solo one at that-or at least, not with any other Hunters. She was a little disappointed it had been so last minute, though. A little extra time would’ve been quite nice.
Once she had found a map, she began to walk towards the place she’d be staying. According to the map, the place shouldn’t have been hard to find.
It was apparently near several of the shops and cafes, which she found quickly. The building, however, she did not.
She’d walked the street so many times she’d stopped counting. She probably looked like a delusional lost tourist to those who sat on the benches and stood outside restaurants, but Rachel really didn’t care at the moment. She was too frustrated, and by the time it seemed she’d walked the streets a hundred times, she had given up and walked into a small cafe.
Buying a small coffee and sitting down at a table, Rachel set the instructions and map on the table and quickly looked over it. According to the address and map, she was supposed to be right next to the building. But there was absolutely nothing except the cafe, a few clothing stores, an old, almost abandoned looking apartment complex, what looked like some kind of Asian restaurant.
Unless... Standing and walking outside, she quickly hurried over to the apartment. It wasn’t much-an old brick building with a few broken windows. Definitely not something you’d expect to see in a place like Olympus. It looked more like it was used for smuggling, prostitution, and drugs than a place to live. But when she looked at the building number...
They’re kidding, right?
Walking up to the front door, she opened a small side pocket on her bag and reached inside, pulling out a key. She pushed it into the lock and turned the handle.
The key, unfortunately, fit.
Walking inside, Rachel coughed. The air was musty with a small hint of cigarette smoke. Wallpaper hung off of the walls in strips, and the floor was covered in dust. Walking past the foyer, she came into an old kitchen and what could’ve been considered a small living area, but was completely unfurnished aside from a dining table with two folding chairs. To the right was a hallway with two doors in it, which Rachel found a small bathroom and bedroom, which contained three uncomfortable looking twin beds that could have resembled a hospital bed. Sighing, Rachel dropped her bag onto the bed closest to the door-if this place suddenly caught on fire from the stench of alcohol the room contained, she was going be the first one out-and walked out into the kitchen to check out the fridge. Surprise, surprise, it was empty.
Standing there for a moment, glaring in annoyance, Rachel shut the fridge door, quickly grabbed her phone and money and walking back outside to the cafe she had visited, planning to spend as little time as possible in the sorry excuse for a house.
As Stella stepped off of the elevator, the people whom she rode up with shot her disapproving glances. They were decked out in their most lovely riches, gold bracelets and necklaces, and the men wore about three Rolex watches per arm. She had a feeling that they would’ve put on more if they hadn’t cut off the air circulation. Stella, however, differed greatly from them. She wore her pajama pants (which were just gray sweat pants that were 3 sizes too big) and a tenty tee shirt that proudly displayed a logo which was the brain-child of a group of graphic artists who settled for a cheap company, and had long ago gave up on their dreams of Hollywood, New York, and Paris. Her hair was still wet from the shower, and it hadn’t even been combed through yet.
Stella left the group and went towards the run-down shoe-box she would have to share with two other people in the following weeks during the investigation. She opened the door and walked right to the bedroom. The bags sitting on one of the beds showed that someone had already arrived. She hadn’t seen anyone on the way in, so she guessed that the person had gone out to discover Olympus’ early morning magic of the downtown. She just called it the walk of shame; when all the street-walkers and night-crawlers scurried back to their hiding places to wait until dark again.
All of the cupboards turned up empty, as well as the fridge. There wasn’t even a wash cloth in the bathroom. Frankly, she was amazed there was sheets on the beds. She knew that the other occupant hadn’t gone out to get these supplies, so she took it into her own hands and set out for Olympus’ super-mart.
Cherry Packawaski thought this was a brilliant opportunity.
The moment Chiron had told her he was sending her on the quest, she hadn’t hesitated for a second before packing her bags. The possibilities to come were endless! And not only that, she got to visit Olympus! And it certainly didn’t disappoint. The moment Cherry stepped off the elevator, she was astounded at the glory of it all.
Almost running through the streets of Olympus, Cherry quickly found the building she and the two others demigods that had been picked were designated to stay at. It really wasn’t too bad-a little fixing up here and there, some fresh paint, a little cleaning, but she knew it was going to be absolutely fantastic.
Heading to the bedroom, Cherry immediately noticed that two of the beds had already been claimed, as her roommates had set their bags on top of the sheets. Though slightly disappointed she had not been there to greet her soon-to-be-friends, Cherry quickly perked up when she heard the front door opening. Tossing her bags on the remaining bed, she ran out into the foyer.
“Hi!” She said happily, grabbing and shaking the hand of the girl who had just walked in. “I’m Cherry Packawaski, daughter of Horme! Who are you? Chiron sent me here to work on the investigation with you and the other person who I haven’t met yet but I’m totally looking forward to meeting her! Do you want me to grab those bags?” She asked, pointing to the plastic grocery bags that hung on the girl’s arms, before quickly grabbing them all and rushing off to the kitchen. “I’ll be happy to help you out-do you have any more bags, or was that it? Oooh, I see you bought food! That’s good, that’s good, we’ll definitely need that while we’re staying here. What did you say your name was?” She turned, smiling happily at the dumbfounded girl.
“Stella,” she said after a moment. “I’m Stella.”
“Oooh, that’s a pretty name! It sounds like Bella or Ella or Isabella or Cinderella! Who’s your parent? Mine’s Hormes, the god of energetic energy, impulse, and effort!”
“Mine’s Zeus,” Stella replied, but barely got those two words in before the girl started to talk again.
“Oh, that’s soooo cool! The King of the gods and the god of the sky and storms!” Cherry started making hand gesture like planes and birds flying through the sky, watching her own hands as she did so.
Stella nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “Right...”
“Do you want something to eat? I can make us food! What do you want?” Cherry shook her head. “Oh, nevermind, I’ll make everything you bought! We still don’t know what the other person likes to eat, and it’s always nice to have a big variety!” She began to unpack the grocery bags and sort the items into various sections. “Dinner will be ready in two hours! But if you’re hungry now it looks like there’s....cheese and crackers, shrimp, salad, finger sandwiches, and I can make lots of other stuff, too!”
“That’s great, ah, Cherry,” Stella said, nodding and still surprised that a human being could talk so fast without taking a breath. “You...do that.”
Cherry, who had already began to cook, happily beamed and nodded.
After Rachel had returned home and dinner was served, Cherry got into the shower. Stella sat on the side across from Rachel, empty plates littering the table and the little counter space they had. There was a lack of sitting place in the cabin, unless they wanted to sit on their utterly uncomfortable beds. So, they picked the back-breaking wooden chairs. They look at each other for a moment before Stella spoke up.
“The mouth of the south is in the shower- this may be our only time to run out for awhile without her.” She told Rachel. Rachel’s eyes rested on the ceiling for a moment, considering this. She nodded.
“Sounds good.” Both got up and left the cabin, heading straight away from the chaos of downtown Olympus in the evening time. The further away they got, the more it looked like one would expect it to. Nymphs were dressed in their traditional greek attire, walking through gardens, magically making them grow with just a touch.
Temples occupied the hills as far as the eye could see, with paths in between them all. Few walked this way, unsurprisingly. The ‘tourists’ liked the hype of downtown. Stella prefered this. She could only spend so much time with idiots a day; and with Cherry among their detective team, it appeared she would need to control herself better than usual.
“Why haven’t I ever seen you around at camp- when I’m there?” Rachel asked, making the awkward silence disappear. Stella looked at her quickly, before looking to the largest temple that sat on the highest place on Mount Olympus, and the one just below it.
“I don’t live in New York. Never have. My siblings and I go to Seattle camp. It’s not generally known.” Stella answered with a tad bit of hesitation. “‘When I’m there?’...I’m guessing you’re one of Artemis’ hunters?”
“Yea. I’ve only been in for a few months, though. Not up high or anything.” Rachel suddenly frowned. “Do you think that there’s camps like the ones in New York and Seattle all over the world for demigods like us? I mean, I feel really uninformed.”
Stella chuckled quietly. “You’re not missing out on anything with the camps. From what I can tell of the ones I know, New York’s the...‘best’.” She stated in a tone that made it obvious no questions of Seattle would be appreciated. Rachel nodded slightly.
After an hour and a half of walking, they were basically forced to go home, as all the partiers and drunks had started to come out.
Of course, the moment they walked through the door, Cherry had immediately appeared to greet them.
“Hi!” She said, smiling. “Where were you guys? Did you have fun? I hope you had fun-ooh, maybe tomorrow I can go with you guys! That would be super fun! Olympus is supposed to be so fun to explore, and they’re supposed to have a lot of fun events at night time, but we need our sleep and it might not be the safest even though there are the police walking around to break up any fights. So what do you guys want to do? We can have a lot of fun here, too! It’ll be just like a sleepover! Maybe we can even go across the street and do something! There’s a few restaurants and a bowling alley and a club and-”
“Actually, Cherry,” Stella cut in quickly, “It might be better to just...stay here for the night. I mean, we’ll probably end up getting up pretty early tomorrow, and we don’t want to be dead tired, right?”
“Right,” Rachel agreed, not in the mood to deal with the girl, and certainly not wanting to go out in this part of Olympus at night-God only knows how quickly the streets turned from a tourist trap to drug dealings.
Cherry’s face fell in disappointment for a moment, before almost immediately smiling again. “That’s fine!” She said. “We can have fun here, too. Even if there’s no internet connection or television set or anything like that we could play games or talk about girl stuff or tell scary stories or-”
“I think it would be better if we just get settled in and go to sleep early like Stella said,” Rachel said immediately. “I’m sure all of us got up early today, and it’s going to be hard to work when we’re so tired.”
“Well, I guess,” Cherry said thoughtfully, frowning slightly. “But then that means tomorrow we can have more fun because we’ll be fully rested!” She beamed.
“Right,” Rachel replied, her voice showing no emotion as she began to walk towards the bedroom, but with absolutely no intention of actually sleeping-nope, she had a perfectly good book she’d been dying to finish, and Rachel figured that was the more important cause.“Well, I’m going to go to bed then! So....night!”
The phone in the kitchen went off at about 3 AM, and wouldn’t stop ringing until someone dragged themselves out of bed. And that person wasn’t going to be Cherry. She had only fallen asleep about two hours beforehand, due to the mattress being extremely uncomfortable.
She was in the ‘in-between’ state when she heard Stella get up, and stomp out towards the kitchen. Cherry could hear Stella speak to someone from the police station for half a second before returning to the bedroom.
“We have to get up now, they want us front and center at the police station in about forty-five minutes. I’m going on a coffee run...be up when I get back.” She grumbled sleepily. Her ears could barely pick up on the sound that Stella made as she pulled a long coat on and left the cabin, muttering anti-Olympus statements to herself.
Cherry suddenly felt WONDERFUL. She bolted up and grabbed her sheets into her balled fists and could barely keep in a scream of joy. Yay for being alive! After untangling herself from the blankets, she rolled out of bed and stalked over Rachel, shaking and shoving her limbs in attempts to wake her. This girl didn’t budge.
A realism hit her like a load of bricks. Rachel was dead. Cherry bolted out of the cabin, screaming bloody murder. She looked both ways, and she could see Stella walking slowly about 500 yards to her left. Continuing to scream, Cherry ran after her, arms flailing, tears beginning to pour down her face. You’d think she just witnessed the murder of her best friend.
“RACHEL’S DEAD!” She screamed as she tackled Stella down, whom had turned to see what all the pandemonium was about. “She’s dead! Dead, dead, dead! She won’t even budge!”
Stella was stiff as a cardboard, laying on the ground, Cherry on top of her. If Stella was a boy, that would sound rather naughty. She looked up at Cherry, eyes wide in surprise.
“What? She’s dead? But she was breathing-” Stella attempted to say. Cherry sobbed into Stella’s hair. She didn’t look pleased with it.
“Come back with me, and see! I swear to you, she’s gone!”
Stella pushed Cherry off of her and got up off the ground, and walked quickly back to the cabin. A minute and few seconds later, Cherry heard a frustrated growl. She went running back to see Stella about to pull the hair out of her head, and Rachel sitting up, looking about just as mad.
All Cherry got as Stella left yet again was dirty looks, but she didn’t mind. Rachel was alive! Cherry hugged her new friend as tightly as she could, still crying.
The coffee wasn’t working.
The stuff Stella had bought hadn’t worked, not one bit. And then, when one of the assistants at the police department-a girl named Sherry or Shelly or something like that, she was too tired to hear properly-had brought them coffee, that hadn’t woken her up either.
Caffeine almost never worked for Rachel when it came to that sort of thing. It really pissed her off, sometimes.
Rachel had attempted to try and get at least a few minutes of sleep while they sat in the waiting area, but the place was too damn bright. Much too bright for such an early time of day. The place almost reminded her of a high-dollar hospital, which Rachel seemed to be all too familiar with, minus the doctors and nurses in scrubs and the occasional gurney. It had the same clean, polished look to it.
She sighed and sank into the chair, yawning. Stella, Cherry, and herself were the only three in the waiting room, besides a drunk looking man that kept glancing over at them. Stella was yawning, looking around the room boredly, and Cherry was talking away about something that Rachel honestly didn’t care about. Rachel really just wanted to go back to bed and sleep. She didn’t care about the mission at all, right now, and she was really wishing that Artemis had picked someone else for the quest.
Just when the drunk guy had started to look over at them one two many times, and Cherry was starting to get on her last nerve, the assistant girl had returned.
“Mr. Mutery will see you now,” she said politely, giving them a small smile. Stella stood.
“Thanks, Shannon,” she muttered, attempting to stifle a yawn. Rachel and Cherry stood as well, the latter of the two practically jumping with excitement.
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” She cried happily, and began to skip down the hallway. “Oh, we’re off to see the wizard....”
Rachel sighed and glanced over at Stella, who looked just as tired and annoyed as her. This was going to be a long day.
At the very end of the hallway, a quite serious-looking man in a suit was waiting outside off a blurry glass door. His suit was pressed quite well, making even the smallest details like marvelous.
Stella wondered why they took the time to make a door completely out of glass if they were just going to blur it later on.
He held his hand out to each of the girls as they entered the room, shaking each of their hands. Finally, he walked in and shut the door behind him.
“Take a seat, take a seat.” He commanded, motioning to the luxurious black leather chairs that lined the dark-oak wood table. “I’m Heidi Mutery. It’s wonderful to meet you. I however wish it was on better terms this morning.” He got right to the chase. “Another body was found in New York City today, at an abandoned theater. The details have been left up to you to figure out. I won’t keep you for long, so I’ll just get right to the vital information. We’ve figured out by now that whoever has been doing this, has a pattern to their madness. From the notes that other detectives have taken, it appears each murder victim represents each Protogenoi in a certain way, shape, or form. That’s the best we could figure out. This guy’s keeping his deeds clean, with no hope of us tracing him without extensive research and tracking. Something that Olympus Police officers don’t have time for with all of the current threats. This one, is a smaller one among our files at the moment, therefore, you have been called in. A taxi is outside waiting to take you to the crime scene, please do be back before noon, or else we’ll have to consider you’ve been taken yourselves.” There was a sort of awkward-silence among the people in the room. Even Cherry was in awkward silence. Then, Heidi cracked a smile and chuckled.
“Oh, I’m just kidding!”
None of them found it very funny.
There were rats.
They had found the body inside of the theatre in the third row from the front, covered in the disgusting little creatures.
Stella and Rached had not been amused. Especially when Cherry had run away screaming. She, of course, had returned when the rats were cleared away. The body itself hadn’t been completely destroyed from the creatures, thankfully, but it had still been damaged more than it had been before.
From what they could tell, though, whoever the killer was had liked to play dress-up. The body had been adorned in Ancient Greek robes, and their face had been painted with makeup to resemble a doll. Cuts and scars wrapped around the victim’s arms, legs and neck.
“Right,” Rachel muttered, kneeling next to the body. “You guys see anything that we could use to find the bastard who did this? Or a weapon?”
“Hm,” Cherry looked around quickly. “Well, it’s kind of dark, but I’m sure we can find something like a thumbprint of a knife or-Oh look at this!”
Cherry had successfully spotted a strange looking spot on the floor-it was a blood covered footprint next to the exit door. “Guys! Guys! Look! Look what I found!”
“What is it?” Stella asked, walking over.
“I found a footprint!” Cherry said, beaming. “It’s right over..um...it’s right over-oops.” She stepped back, frowning. She had stepped on the footprint.
Stella sighed, pursing her lips and pinching the bridge of her nose. “Cherry, how about you just go and get us some supplies at the store. That would be a lot of help.”
Cherry’s face lit up. She could do that! It would be easy. “Okay! I’ll be back in juuuussssttt a little bit!” Turning quickly around, she ran out the exit door and down the street.