Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 10

She didn’t attack me on the spot, at least. Rather, she demanded I leave again.

I left. The building. It had been worth a try. I didn’t believe her, of course. She meant to profit off of chaos, even if she didn’t cause it.

That, I reminded myself, was my father’s job. But he wasn’t into starting wars. Finishing them, maybe.

Having fun on the way, for sure. Wars were more…more Odin’s field. Or Thor’s. Thor liked a good fight too.

So did I, for that matter. Did that make me a little baby war goddess?

I took a long way home, walking along the mall. I realized I had company about halfway down.

“Hello, angel.”

The angel inclined his head to me. “Hello, Lokisdottir.”

“You got me, but I never did get a name from you.” I smiled a bit.


“Thank you.”

“So, you talked to a succubus.”

“I thought I could get her to back down. She’s being stubborn.”

“She agreed to a contract. She will lose a lot of status if she fails to deliver.”

I nodded. “I see that. But she has something else in mind.”

“War and destruction are good for demon business.” The angel studied me. “We need her to break the rules.”

“Does kidnapping kids count?”

“Was it her?”

“It was another succubus working for her.”

“Which…can you prove that?”

I shook my head. “No. I suppose that means she left her lackey to take the hit for hassling innocents?”

The angel nodded. “Indeed.”

“Can you get Father Will her name?”

“It is not that easy, but I am helping him. All you have to do is slow her down.” Sarael smiled again.

“Thank you.”

I felt a lot better at that. Slow her down until Will could get hold of what he needed to exorcise her, and the thought of her losing status in Hell was a pleasant one.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 9

I decided to focus back on the succubus. Her, I thought I could stop. On Saturday, I made my way to the Red Flowers office. Stepped inside, my hair neat, my entire appearance as professional as I could make it.

“Can I help you?” asked the receptionist.

“Tell your boss I need to talk to her. She knows who I am.” It was brazen, but talking to her again seemed like the next step, now I’d made sure as best I could that Sarlac’s family were safe.


And she stepped out of the elevator. She’d shifted her appearance – she looked like an older and somehow perfected version of Kanesha.

“Nice try,” I said.


“I’m here to talk.” I showed her my hands. “Nothing more.”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t come back.”

“I was removing some leverage.”

She beckoned me into the elevator. She wasn’t nearly as scary as Surtur, so I followed without hesitation. It took us up to a swanky office. “I see the escort business,” I followed up. “Pays as well as I hear.”

“This isn’t about the money.”

“I know. What is it about?”

She studied me. “You’re a clever opponent, but I’d expect that from your parentage. Maybe you’ll leave me alone if I tell you the truth.”

“You’re a demon. Are you even capable of telling anyone the truth?”

She laughed. “The truth is that I’m working on a soul payment.”

“You’re making somebody rich.” I let it lie there. “But I can’t let you keep doing this.”

“Why not? It’s nothing to do with you, your affairs, the affairs of your father? I don’t plan on destroying the world. Just making sure one guy gets a contract.”

“To blow people up.”

She blew on her fingers. “I don’t need to start any wars. Humanity can handle that just fine on their own. So. Will you stay out of my way?”

I had to be honest. “No.”

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 8

It was a vain hope, though. The very next day, I had to lose two different fire giant tails on the way to school. One of them might not have been his, and to be charitable, he might be watching me for any sign of wavering.

He’d been so nice to me.

So had Tyz’vel.

The other shoe, though, was hovering in the air somewhere above me. It had to be. Or maybe it was an entire, full-sized, acme anvil.

I only had the rest of this semester, at least. Then I could focus on modeling, make lots of money, and somehow…

How could I use it to keep Surtur off my back? Maybe I could find a way to stall him. To get him to leave me alone for a while.

And I still had the succubus to worry about. I forced myself to focus on class. Clara came up to me at lunch.

She sniffed. “You smell of fire and brimstone.”

“Surtur was trying to be nice to me.”

“How much did he succeed?”

“If I didn’t know he was crazy and wanted to end the world, he’d have been quite reasonable.”

Clara laughed. “Is he…no, wait. Let me rephrase.”

I laughed myself. “He’s hot. He’s not that handsome. But he does have the rich and powerful factor.”

“Sugar daddy,” she teased.

I felt abruptly much better, although I had to protest, “This is serious, woman.”

“I know. And I trust you not to actually fall for him when you have Kanesha.”

“I’ll let her know you complimented her. What about you and Seb?”

She blushed.

“I think that answers that.” I wasn’t pushing any further, as I was pretty sure there was a birthday in the way of their relationship and if so I didn’t want to know.

“So, what are you going to do about him?”

“I’m still trying to work that out.”

“If he was a real guy I’d slip a potion into his drink. I found a recipe for one which takes away the performance.”


I was very glad nobody was close enough to hear us. Of course, I’d made sure of that. But…Clara having such a thing.

“But really, the only way to get rid of a guy is to redirect him.”

Which I knew. “Then I’m stuck waiting for him to give up. If he ever does.”

It was an unfortunate thought, but what could I do?

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 7

By the time I got to the apartment, Kanesha was well into making brownies.

“Keep going. I need to talk to him.”

“Did Surtur try to sweet talk you?”
“Yeah, he made an interesting offer. Fortunately, one I can refuse.” I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

“Put the oven on for me?”

I did, then settled down in the living room. “He told me I’d make a good queen and offered to make sure all of my friends were safe from Ragnarok. Except Mike.”


“I didn’t say I believed him.”

I supposed he could tuck people away in some corner of Muspelheim where they’d be safe…if he won. “Besides, he’s not going to win Ragnarok anyway.”

“Are we sure of that?”

I considered. “Fairly. Probably. Point is, I’m not taking him up on it. I’m not going to cause the end of the world.”

“I trust you.”
That meant something. No sooner were the brownies in the oven, than Loki knocked on the door.

“You’re early,” I told him.

“Nah, I’m just late enough not to have to help.”

I laughed. “So…”


“Surtur’s trying being nice to me now.”

“Of course he is. He’s trying to woo you like a human, not a fire giant.”

I considered that. “Maybe that’s it. I think he’s just clutching at straws.” Although the sudden image of Surtur, all fiery, in a PUA class was amusing.

“He’s just not all that…”

“He’s not really into me. He’s into whatever edge I can give him.”

“True. He’s not even a bad king. But he plans on destroying everything…”

“…because he apparently believes that’s the only way, in the long term, to save Muspelheim.”

Loki frowned. “I’ve heard him spout that before. When at his most paranoid.”

“Why do they not trust anyone?”

“Well, as you know, giants are quarrelsome.”

“He admitted that.”

Kanesha hopped onto the end of the couch. “He did?”

“He said their biggest problem was thriving on conflict.”

Loki nodded. “Fire and frost alike. And the conflict between them is part of the balance of the universe. Surtur never did want to accept that.”

“But he’s the bad guy,” Kanesha insisted.

“Oh, he’s a bad guy alright.” Loki lifted one finger. “But he thinks he’s doing the right thing. Like all good villains.”

I laughed. “So, maybe we have another approach. Convince him he’s wrong.”

“Some of us have been trying for several thousand years.

And I knew that anything Surtur said to me was as likely to be a sweet lie to get me to his bed as the truth. Still, I wanted to hope he could be reasonable.

Who wouldn’t?

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 6

He gave me a whistle stop tour of Muspelheim, then put me right back where he found me.

Five minutes after the MARC train.

Which only ran every hour.

I could have killed him for that alone. Instead, I paced the platform. I should have known he’d change tactics.

Promising to protect all the individual people I cared about through Ragnarok. That was a clever one.

I paced the platform some more. At one end, a black woman huddled, exhausted, on a bench. Probably a long flight…no, she had no luggage. Long work day, then. Sure, I could protect the individual people I cared about.

I couldn’t protect the strangers I didn’t.

How much did that matter? I glanced up at a lamp post, but the black bird landing on it was only a mundane crow. It cawed at me loudly, making sure I paid attention.

“You guys are so arrogant.”


I heard a voice from behind me. “The crow?”

“You mean you don’t get the impression they’re as smart as we are and pity us for not having wings?”

Whoever it was laughed. I glanced around.

Middle aged guy, grey hair, medium-brown skin. “Yeah.”

The crow cawed again.

“Or maybe they just like the sound of their own caws,” I mused.

Normality. Pretending to be normal for a bit was a good idea, I thought. And I couldn’t exactly go anywhere while waiting for the train.

Kanesha had all of my luggage, too. Not that I’d ever just walk away.

Surtur would find me.

Loki would find me.

I’d gain nothing.

“Maybe. They are still songbirds, believe it or not.”

I wracked my brain, not sure I ever knew that, but decided to believe it.

“Oh, I’m Mack.”


“Thanks for not assuming I was about to hit on you.”

“I slapped the last guy who did.”

He grinned. “Good for you.”

He was probably assuming I got it all the time, it meaning being hit on.

He was, honestly, not all that wrong. “He was being creepy, anyway.” I shrugged.

“There’s non-creepy hitting on women?”

“There’s being nice and treating us like people.”

Except, I thought, he had been nice to me. Clearly he had intended to sow doubts.

Clearly? I needed to talk to my father.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 5

I knew I was stepping into the lion’s den. I trusted that he had honor, and I trusted to a degree in my own honor.

He took my hand and flames flowed around us, and then, as once before, we were in his realm. I stood above a field of fiery flowers.

“Not everything here is ugly.”
The fire within me wanted to respond. “Perhaps not.”

“And your own fire reaches out.”

“I do have fire giant blood.” I suspected it was more than that, but I also… “But I also suspect you have something to do with that.”

“Me? I can’t touch the basic nature of Loki’s daughter. He’d kill me.”

“And end up king of Muspelheim?”

“Oh, he’d make it look like an accident.”

I actually, for the first time, found myself liking him a little.

“As you would.”

“But you bring me here, or do you have fifty guards waiting to jump me?”

“I said you would make a good queen.”

“You have fifty guards waiting to jump me.” I would have done the same thing, in the same circumstances. I wouldn’t have trusted me.

“This is our people’s world. And all we have ever wanted is to be as we are.” He smiled. “Snag is, as we are includes a strong desire for conflict and war.”

“Which you’re about to tell me you, with difficulty, keep control over and hold back.”

“With difficulty.”

“You still plan on ending the mortal world.”

“I plan on defeating our ancient enemies. What has Odin done for you other than exile you with no memories?”

Kanesha’s face drifted into my mind. “I understand why he did it.”

“He thinks you would…he knows you will come to me, and he thought to buy time.”

“I said. I will never come to you.”

He tried to kiss my hand.

I slapped him.

He stepped back. “I like your spirit. You will come to me, because I can protect those you most care about from Ragnarok. Has Odin ever made that offer? No. In fact, he will have one of your closest friends fight.”

I shook my head. “I don’t trust you.”

“But you will.”

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 4

Apparently nothing, because we touched down fine in a spring-warm Baltimore.

I’d rather have got us into National, but we’d had to take what we could get. Waiting on the platform for the train, the back of my neck started to prickle.

And there he was. No minions, no thugs. Surtur. His semblance was a thirty something guy with very light hair, but I recognized him immediately and pulled Kanesha close to me.

“Truce?” he called.

There was nobody else on the platform. I nodded. “Truce.”

“I came alone.” His eyes flickered to Kanesha.

“I’m not leaving,” she said, defiantly.

“Your mortal lover. She can stay.”

“So, what, come to try and talk me into it after all?”

He sighed. “You realize I’m doing what I’m doing for survival. You realize the Aesir hate us. You realize Odin will never trust you with anything important. He won’t even let you be a valkyrie.”

“Maybe I’m just as happy not being trusted with anything important. I don’t fancy being a queen.”

“Which is why you would make a good one.” He crossed the distance between us.

“And at the price of her and this world? No.”

“And what happens to Muspelheim if you stop Ragnarok? It’s a re-balancing. It’s our chance…”

“Oh, shut up.” I glared at him. “If you just stayed quietly in your own realm, nobody would bother you.”

“And you know exactly why I don’t.”

I supposed I did, at some levels, but  it was still reality. He was not going to stay quietly in his own realm, and there would still be fights. “I wish you would. I wish you’d go back, leave me alone.”

“She could…” He glanced at Kanesha.

“Don’t even think about offering me immortality,” she snapped. “It’s been tried. And you’ve tried to have me killed.”

“You understand that’s not personal?”

Kanesha shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Motives are only important if you’re trying to figure out who the killer is. When you know, they mean absolutely nothing.”

I put a hand on her arm. “Don’t provoke him, beloved,” I asked her. I really didn’t want to know what he’d do, and I wasn’t sure I could protect her.

“We could find a place for her. If she…”

“Didn’t mind sharing?” My lips quirked. “No. The answer’s no now, and it will always be no.”

“I have something I want to show you. Just you – she’d burn into a crisp. Something that might at least help you understand.”

“Don’t go with him.”

I detached myself from her. “Go home. If I don’t come back, you know what to do.”


Then I walked towards the lord of Muspelheim.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 3

Kanesha arrived quickly to rescue me. I managed to avoid giving him any contact details. Funny how nobody intervened, though.

I didn’t want to ever be photographed by that guy. I suspected he had an entire binder full of models somewhere to buttonhole if he ever bumped into them. But, to my pride, I restrained myself from hurting him.

“Who was that guy?”

“Some budding photographer who apparently memorizes model portfolios and was trying to convince me he was a fan of my work.”

“Of your tits, more like,” Kanesha quipped.

“Tell me about it. I don’t want to be photographed by him, ever.”

“He’d be as bad as…who was that guy?”

“Oh, that was David Parr. Yeah, Mr Roman Hands.”

But we were now safely on the plane. Safe from him, and I hoped safe from everything else.

The plane taxied away from the gate and stopped. And sat there. And sat there.

“Great,” Kanesha grumbled. “It’s broken down.”

She was right – that plane wasn’t going anywhere, and we ended up back in the gate, thankfully with no sign of Mr Aspiring Photographer, trying to find seats on any route back to DC.

I didn’t want to be suspicious about it, but it felt like we’d been trapped here by somebody. Could a demon sabotage a plane?

Probably easily enough, and at least the problem had been spotted before we took off. At least.

We bought crappy airport burgers and waited for another plane, but if anyone had planned to delay us, they didn’t have anything past that in mind. Still, I was nervous once we finally did take off, nervous about what we might find when we got home.

Kanesha was using the in-flight wi-fi to check Senate legislative schedules. Not too suspicious, I thought, for somebody with our destination. She even looked the part of the unpaid, overworked Washington intern right now. Well, except for the “unprofessional” braids. I certainly wasn’t going to suggest she straightened her hair, though.

I liked her braids, and her, just the way they were.

“Oh, come on,” she said abruptly.


“The Senate legislative calendar site is down.”

I rolled my eyes. “Nobody has it posted anywhere?”

“Nope. I can get House, but not Senate. And House is all…yeah, I found the defense budget hearing for the House, in two days.”

“Which means it goes to Senate what, a couple of weeks?”

Kanesha shakes her head. “No way of knowing. They have to finish it, propose a bill, could be months. Which means that without the Senate schedule…”

I glared at her laptop, but I didn’t have any magic to make a website come back up.

“There we go. Ugh, this thing is as easy to read as badly written sheet music.”

I shot her a look, not having been aware that she’d ever played an instrument.

“Defense is one where the House and Senate have different versions of the bill.”

“Look for contractors who’d benefit from a change in the Senate version?”

“I’m trying.”

I would not be at all surprised to find they all had demons on the board, but I couldn’t deal with that. All I could deal with was the one matter at hand, the one demon causing the particular trouble right now.

Even she was a distraction from the real problems.

The plane vibrated slightly, but it was apparently nothing.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 2

Detective Mundy, who’s name I tried not to find amusing, released me quickly. I called Kanesha. “You know, we’ve been missing something important.”

“What bills are coming up that a succubus would want to impact. There’s some climate stuff.”

I nodded to her, even though she couldn’t see me. “Financial?”

“Financial…I’ve been looking.”

Trust her to think of it even when I didn’t and couldn’t. She was the smart one.

“Or…” I frowned. “Weapons.”

“Weapons contractors.”

“We know they’re all run by forces of evil.”

“Defense budget. It’s coming up.”

“Well. Sarlac’s family are now under special police protection. We can go home.”

Of which I was very glad. I’d had visions of being stuck here under a “don’t leave town” requirement.

“Next flight?”

“Next flight,” I promised. I didn’t care if we had to spend the night in the airport. I went over there to book one while Kanesha packed.

Although I was starting to wish we didn’t live in DC. This city was so much more…relaxed…that part of me wished I could stay. And New York would only be worse.

But we had a demon to stop. I caught a cab to the airport, and booked on the next flight we could get, not caring that it would dump me in Baltimore rather than Washington.

They weren’t, I hoped, my concern any more. The succubus still was. I settled down in the airport to wait, buying a trashy paperback at the inevitable terminal bookstore to occupy myself with. Some silly romantic comedy. Kanesha would like it once I was done with it. Pastel cover and all. Curled up with the book, I waited for my Kanesha to show up.

Well, until I got interrupted.


I peered over the book. “Go away.”


I peered over the book again. “Who are you?” I didn’t recognize him.

“Uh…I’m…uh…” He blushed. “A fan?”

“A fan?”

I could probably have got rid of him by telling him I was gay. I didn’t. I had fans?

“Of your work. I want to get into fashion photography. And you have such a distinctive face.”

A modeling fan. I wanted to laugh, but I managed to spare his blushes. “Uh…I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Are you here for a shoot?”

“No, I decided to flee Washington for a few days.”

Where was Kanesha? As he launched into more enthusiasm, I decided I’d rather have a troop of fire giants to deal with than this…

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 1

I was missing Mike at so many levels.

“So, really, you just happened to come across this?”

I shrugged. “I’m a trouble magnet. Ask my friends.”

“What are you even doing in Oregon?”
I sighed to the cop. “I needed a break, school’s out, I have money, and I don’t like beaches.”

At that she laughed. “I wouldn’t recommend Cancun to anyone. It’s overpriced, boring, and when I was there I could get any kind of food I wanted in the resort except Mexican.”

It broke the tension. “I’d just heard so much about the Pacific Northwest.”

“And you’re a model?”

I nodded. “Yeah.”

“I’d say easy money, but I’m betting not so much.”

“Not so much, no.”

“And the bad man jumped out the window and ran? Or was it the bad woman?”

“I think the kid got a little confused. Or somebody quick changed into a cross-sex disguise. I know drag queens who could do that.”

“Yeah, but in front of the kid?”

I shrugged a bit. “You know what happens when you put a kid’s testimony up in court.”

“Don’t I just. I have no reason to hold you, anyway. You gave the best description you could.”

I could tell she didn’t really believe me. “Not like I wanted a kidnapper to get away.”

“We have to figure…that they wanted some kind of ransom.”

“Maybe they wanted votes. Isn’t his uncle a Senator?”

“That would fit. Poor kid. He doesn’t seem too traumatized, though.”

“Can you…”

And the door of the office opened. “I’ll take it from here, Detective Carlson.”

I glanced at the man who entered, and noted that he had something magic resonating around him. Relief flowed through me as Carlson left.

He sat down in her chair. “Sorry about that.”


“Officially, I’m serious crimes. Unofficially…”

“…you’re supernatural crimes.” I let out a breath. “Good.”

“And you…”

“It was a demon that took the kid. Hence the sex changing.”

“Do you know what kind?”

“No, I know they work for a fairly powerful succubus, though. One who wants Sarlac’s vote on something.”

“And you came all the way here from DC to try and warn them.”

I nodded. “You got good protection you can put on them?”

Amused, he responded, “You act like you’re the one in charge.”

I realized I was doing just that, but I shrugged. “She’s not going to give up.” I didn’t mention Sarlac being immune to her charms.

“Do you know what she wants? Power in general?”

“As far as I can tell.”
Something destructive and dangerous. That was all I could be sure of.