Chapter 69:

For the Winners, the Spoils - Part 3


"Hey, donuts!” Annabeth exclaimed as she bumped into the girls that were almost reaching the underground meeting room. “Got any of the pink ones made of chemical death?”

“I actually got some, but the way you’re calling them makes me reconsider eating one...” The cop holding a donut box answered with a pensive look that soon went away. “Anyway, what you had to speak with my aunt that was so secretive?”

“It’d lose the point if I told ya, wouldn’t it? I wouldn’t mind tradin’ it fer yer childhood album, y’know?”

Anna’s words made her partner go silent for a moment, in special at the mention of a photo album, but she recovered very fast from it. Still, as it was something abnormal, the inquisitor made sure to take note of her expression during that moment.

“Hmph! I won’t bother negotiating with someone who isn’t even taking the situation seriously... Auntie will likely tell me later anyway, so whatever.”

“Have you ever heard of the fox’s fable?” Col asked as she watched with an amused gaze the usual bickering. She was also eating a couple of plain white-powdered donuts while doing so, by the way. Hers were likely diet, though.

“That one the fox tricks everyone in a huge city and gets a new tail due to the accomplishment?“ The fourth member of the group also joined the talk, even if with a very confusing statement. “’You can do whatever you want as long as you’re not caught’ was the lesson, wasn’t it?”

“What? No… Wait… What?!”

“I don’t think that’s the one, Ms. Chiron. I’m not even sure if whatever you said is an actual fable...” Karim added over the confused brunette that had her bit of knowledge destroyed by something very random. “It sounds more like terrible advice if I’m honest.”

“I’ll have you know that the Metropolis’ Fox is a very renowned and liked fable. Everyone in the main temple knows about it even… If it’s a good or bad fable is a very debated topic, though.”

“I think it’s a good one. Never heard of it, but it sounds fun.” Annabeth re-joined the conversation with a pair of vibrant pink donuts already in her hands somehow. “Wow, these’re good, ay? Where you got‘em, shorty?”

“End of the quarter, quite the popular spot, especially to the… Wait! Don’t go trying to change the subject, Annabeth.”


“And you were doing it on purpose even! Stop playing around and explain yourself.”

“We had a very personal discussion ‘bout you, mah’ body, and how I’d turn this team into a personal deviant squad. Yer aunt even gave me a gift to keep mah’ plan goin’.”

In some ways, it was all truth here, but the roundabout and straight-up weird way Anna explained it seemed to not instill much trust. That much was, of course, as intended since she had to keep the partner facade up. Withholding vital information from each other wasn't very much 'partner-like' no matter how she saw it.

How said information would be transmitted was completely up to the person, though.

“I still wonder why I bother...” Anna’s petite partner finally gave up and turned around, heading back to the above-ground level of the police department. “Keep your secret talk and let’s go then. It’s been a while since I visited, so I would like to spend a little while around here. Give them some treats and speak a little, maybe…”

Under the command of the girl holding the remaining sweets, Annabeth gave shoulders and followed with the other two going soon after. Differently from Karim, neither of them seemed to care about the talk with Louise, even if the redhead was sure their reasons were different.

In fact, she was expecting that Minako would blurt something she got to know by chance with her oracle skill, but nothing happened. She wasn't sure if she knew nothing or if she decided to not tell, though. Anna had to somehow investigate that magical tool later to be sure. And since thinking about it right now was useless, she instead opted for the speech she had ready for a while now.

“Well, I guess we can call this case closed then, ‘aight?” She started as the four were climbing the stairs. “We ruled out one suspect. Captured some relics and a commander. And saved the temple with minimal casualties. I’d rate this mission nine out ten!”

“That’s way over what this mess was worth.” Karim engaged with her partner’s playing, as unexpected as it was, and even expanded on it. “A third of the temple’s venue was destroyed. We couldn’t get a single piece of real information about our enemies. And the whole thing gave a terrible PR to both the cops and the inquisitors.”

“Don’t forget to add that, with exception of the kitsune here, we all got knocked out by the end of the fight," Col noted from the side as she remembered the three days in the hospital before they could look for Annabeth. “You also lost two guns and the surprise factor of your evil eye there, Anna.”

“But you got me! I’m worth a huge amount, right?”

“A seven then?” Anna asked while brushing off Minako’s remark without a moment of hesitation, although she stopped to stare at her for a moment. “Maybe a six even…”

“Stop being mean!”

“Not happenin’.” Anna answered like away just as her group entered the inner lounge where a few cops were already in. And as she had told everyone earlier, Karim went to talk with her coworkers right away. “Well, guess the discussion’s done. Mission complete, ay? What do we do now?”

“I vote for a training camp,” Col suggested right away with a, somewhat, serious expression. “We almost got our asses handed back there and it didn’t feel good at all.”

“Fair enough. But we lack a proper place fer trainin', y’know? We could ask fer some equipment, but I’m sure we gotta blockaded after doin’ that much noise." Anna argued as she kept on worrying about the high possibility that they were blocked off continental support. "The current big hat lad don’t like gettin’ trouble without anythin’ to show-off on his trophy room…”

“Won’t the ifrit be enough? We likely can force the cop’s hand and get him.” Col spoke without ever bothering to pay attention to the stares she was receiving from the resting cops. “Shipping him to our holiness won’t take much too.”

“Oh, now that’s something interesting. What we’d blow up to get that?” The excited kitsune went on, calling even more attention from the other cops. Even Karim, who was distributing donuts and doing small talk had to stop to silently complain to her companions.

“We may prefer to’ve this talk later…” Anna decided as, even with her bellicose stance, things were heating more than she wanted to. “Any other options?”

“What about some team bonding… Maybe the naked kind even.” The stares towards Minako only worsened as her words did the same, and this time, even the kitsune herself was startled by it. “What?! It’s a bath! Have none of you ever heard of public baths? It’s such an old custom to bond on these… Not that I would dislike going for more ‘interesting’ activities, but still…”

“I’ll pretend ya stood silent, ‘kay?” The red-haired inquisitor cut her fox companion before things would get out of control and got up from her borrowed seat. “Less’ go home. Maybe chillin’ and recoverin’ is the best we can do fer now…”

To be fair, waiting for a little was likely the best option for the girls right now. Annabeth was leaning toward this decision anyway and was only asking to be sure she wasn’t losing anything. She needed time to get used to her damaged seal now that she lacked the resources to repair it and negotiate the mainland. The more she could rest, the best, even if she didn’t like it too much.

And as the closing action of the whole chain of events that happened mostly in a single day, Annabeth and her group became the talk of the precinct again. The reason was as bad as before, though.