“I can’t believe she’s gone.” Steven said as he gazed down at the floor. “It’s like a nightmare, and I can’t wake up.”

     Roderigo didn’t say a word. Instead he stood by the window with his cup in his hands, staring out at each flash of lightning. He seemed almost unaffected by what had happened, and although they were well aware that this wasn’t the case, their grief left several of the group frustrated by his silence. Steven himself began to stand, only for Devon to grab his hand.

     “Leave him be,” Devon said.

     “It’s fine,” Roderigo said. He kept his back turned. “It’s hard to accept but there isn’t much we can do about it. But now that we know what Blades is capable of, we should all be prepared to fight for our lives.”

     “That’s easy for you to say!” Pepper replied. “You’re the one with the least at stake here! Even if he tries to gut you, you can rest for a minutes and keep on fighting. We’re all sitting ducks compared to you.”

     “Pepper,” Fiona snapped, “I love you dearly, but shut your fucking mouth.” Her niece was too shocked to reply.

     “While I agree that we need to be prepared,” Carlton said, “Pepper’s right. It won’t be easy.” He held an ice pack to his forehead, shielding his eyes from the light of the lamp. “Most things man-sized will go down with a blast of buckshot, but that thing… he tanked our shots. We barely slowed him down.”

     “It really does suck that Roderigo got downed so easily,” Pepper said. “I guess immortality doesn’t equal invincibility.” She placed a stick of pocky in her mouth. “Except in Blades’ case, apparently. Too bad for us, right?”

     Once again Roderigo didn’t answer. Instead, he tossed his paper cup in the trash and went upstairs. “Nice,” Steven said.

     “Not my problem.”

     “Pepper!” Fiona’s voice rang loud and clear. Her niece froze, dropping her cup. This time she apologized, and went upstairs after Roderigo.

     “I’ll get it,” Fiona said in annoyance, rushing into the kitchen and emerging with a fistful of paper towels. As she began wiping up the mess, she said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s clear that what we have won’t help us. Blades is too skilled, and we don’t stand a chance against a god.”

     “Who says we don’t?” Carlton said, setting the ice pack on the table beside him. “We know that this god has a mortal form. If we find who she is, we might be able to kill her.”

     “We can’t be sure about that,” Steven said. “And even if she does have a mortal body, we still can’t face her head on. And just because he’s got that neat healing trick wouldn’t necessarily stop Dheania from just eating Roderigo if he tried. And we don’t know what would happen if we killed her avatar. Who’s to say she doesn’t get a massive power boost and drop a comet on us?”

     “Either way,” Carlton said, “we’re better off knowing who we can and can’t trust.”

     “So exactly how do we figure it out?” Steven said. “This poem Princess gave us obviously means something, but it’s too fucking obtuse.”

     “It was pretty vague,” Fiona said, “but there’s enough there to go on.” She reached for her phone, making several swipes across the screen. “It’s from The Song of Sisters–it’s one of her old poems she wrote when she played around with that band. We just need to figure out what exactly Princess is trying to tell us by referencing it.” She paused. “I think it’s safe to assume she’s trying to identify Dheania. As to how Princess was able to tell it to us without her catching on, well… Dheania’s a god. I’m not sure she’d care if we knew or not. From her point of view, we’re just a bunch of harmless little snacks.”

     “I guess not,” Steven said. “Any ideas on what the poem means, though?”

     “I think there’s a big hint inside the poem itself,” Fiona said. “Several of the lines refer to two children, and the section she quoted mentions that the voice is ‘young and strong.’ Unless she’s telling us that she’s weak to children–which I doubt–then my guess is that she either is or is going to appear as a child.”

     “A child is the perfect disguise,” Devon replied. “No one would suspect a kid of being a monster.” He peered over his glasses, glancing at Fiona. “I think I remember the poem now. It mentioned a ‘nightmare clad in black and white.’ If Dheania chose a hybrid as her disguise, then it would imply a bicolor coat; that would fit Twitch perfectly, but… I really can’t see a god acting the way Twitch does.”

     “That depends on god in question, doesn’t it?” Steven said. “Take the Greek gods for instance. Cronus ate his own children. Hades kidnapped Persephone and forced her into marriage. Zeus in particular was infamous for having screwing anything that moved, and Hera would not only not his fault in it, but to punish the women he fathered children with for having the gall to be effectively raped by him. Not every god can be Jehovah.”

     “It’s a leap of logic to assume it’s one of the twins,” Jacob said. “I mean, I’m bicolor myself, and so is Pepper. It’s not an uncommon coat pattern.” He paused for a moment. “Black and white could easily refer to clothing as well.”

     “Then we’re back where we started,” Steven said.

     “No, I do think it’s one of the twins,” Fiona said. “The fact that it’s two sisters being described implies that they’re related, at least as mortals, and I doubt Princess would tell us if we couldn’t recognize them.”

     “Any suggestions on how we can tell for sure?” Carlton asked. “I mean, Devon’s right. God or not, Twitch is not the disguise I’d choose to hide in if I were a soul-eating monster. It’s not horrible enough to hide in plain sight, and it’s definitely not far enough away from her reputation to work. I’d think a god would be more nuanced than any of these. Assuming she’d care about hiding, that is.”

     “There’s one possibility,” Jacob said. “Sabbath recently asked her father if she could be baptized, and he called me the other night on how I could set it up. It’s not strictly necessary for her to go through catechism to get baptized since her mother was a practicing Catholic, and I believe Carter and Fiona are both in good standing to act as sponsors. I can easily expedite things.”

     “How would that work?” Steven asked. “I mean, I don’t see any other real ideas, but it wouldn’t really prove anything. It’s not like holy water would set her on fire or anything.”

     “Well, that’s true,” Jacob said. “But it would also be a good way to monitor the two of them for a while without drawing attention.” A devious grin crossed his face. “I’m sure he’d love for all of you to attend.”