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Snakes On A Train

As the Band prepares to leave Las Vegas, Keyvan talked to Mark about dealing with Seth Farrow (and having him as a contact), and about his cover name (he changed it to Kevin Croft). One of the Ferrari family's agents approaches Mark and asks him to accompany the cars to the Los Angeles show floor. Apparently, they consider the Vegas exhibition to be a smashing success. Cue facepalm, but the troupe (sans Simone) says goodbye to Eric and Donnie's band, with some light flirting on Donnie's part towards Raven.

Then the train ride[1] begins. It's uneventful at first, except for Julian riding casually alongside (Morganstern is bored; keeping up with the train is no challenge for him) and no one noticing the Prince in Amber except for the Band.

However, things pick up considerably after Kevin notices unusual features about the maitre d': unusually dry skin, fur at the base of his hair, and slight points on his nails. Consultation with Julian confirms the creature's status as a rakshasa, though most of the rakshasa of their acquaintance have not had the dry skin. The heroes discuss the matter, deciding to "grab a meal" and observe the creature. Interestingly, it doesn't try to poison or drug them.[2]

Kevin follows it, overhears it talking to the serpents about the plan to lure the Scions to the front, whimpers of a muffled prisoner. It has two nemean cobras and a dozen "hydrans" (serpent-men; most of them snakes turned into men in this case), and questions one of the hydrans by dragging it out of patrol and "questioning" it. He learns that they need the Heroes' ichor to create some kind of superweapon.

After dealing with the captive, and Julian sending a hellhound to dispose of the body, the team gathers to storm the forward car, with Kevin as their ace in the hole. (Kevin "goes to get some sleep," while the others notice the red scales the false maitre d' leaves behind.) They get past the mortals, sealing the door behind them, and confront the hydrans, who seem to be lacking their giant cobra allies and rakshasa leader.

While Kevin hides atop the train, the three native Scions blow a hole through the hydrans, with only Mark taking a few dings to his armor. They move forward to the next car, only to find the rakshasa holding a four-armed Vedic Scion (Vijay Suresh) hostage. The rakshasa doesn't expect them to back off because of it, but the young man makes a fine shield.

Except Kevin sneaks in, wraps himself in shadow, and kills one of the giant cobras before anyone can react, cutting it in half. Raven, seeing what Kevin is doing (she can see in shadow), fires several rounds right into the eyes of the other. Tieran takes the opportunity to walk up to the Scion from India and...touch him. The rakshasa, not realizing what she's done, tries to drink the hostage dry...only to discover that Vijay's skin now has a tensile strength comparable to solid steel. While he's recoiling in agony, Mark punches him across the room. Before the monster can react, Kevin catches and beheads the monster.

The heroes free Vijay, who is very grateful...but before they can do much else, the blood of their enemies flows up toward the engine, and the rakshasa's head manages a literal last laugh before melting away. Mark runs to the engine, where two more hostages are struggling in a panic. They free the pair, and Mark gets down to business trying to stop whatever the villains are doing...except it's turning the train into a giant snake, like the roller coaster they fought on the Stratosphere. (This is obviously not a coincidence.)

At this point, it's clear that most of the Scions can do little except get the hostages out of harm's way (and gently knock out the mortals, in Mark's case), leaving Tieran's magical expertise to prevent the situation from getting entirely out of hand. A ward keeps the transformation from leaving the engine, and Animal Communication lets her try talking to the slowly-awakening snake-thing. It's quite pleased to serve its "mother" Vritra, though, so she comes up with another solution.

Julian is asked to make a spectacle of himself, and Tieran convinces the serpent-engine that it'll need more power to take on the Scions. She leaps away as Mark uncouples the engine, freeing it to go after Julian. Who proceeds to cut the monster in half down the middle. Problem solved. Of course, there's the problems of not having an engine, how to explain the situation to the passengers and authorities, and dealing with the engineers.

Mark comes up with a cock-and-bull story for the engineer, "explaining" how he saved them all from the engine as it was about to explode. Tieran called ahead, likewise "explaining" the engine explosion to the authorities. Between them, they make the wreckage look sufficiently plausible to prevent awkward questions about why the engine had brass scales. They arrive to a hero's welcome; the engineer gets most of the credit, but the Scions get enough attention that their Legends increase. A side benefit was to earn the gratitude of Vijay's father, who turns out to be Vishnu himself. (And since Vishnu and Lakshmi are renowned for their fidelity...)

From there, they begin planning for the coming Second Titan War. Until now, the titanspawn have kept the war in the shadows, but it appears that they're now ready to bring the fight out into the open. It's generally agreed that the Scions should consult with their parents before making the next move, but Kevin points out (and everyone agrees) that it's time to get serious about preparing for the war. He asks about a facility to train martial artists in numbers, and Mark suggests that they ask Tommy Li, a Chinese Scion who's become somewhat famous for his martial arts movies. Tommy Li has his own independent studio, complete with backlot and sound stage. Both owner and location are perfect for such training, particularly in the area.

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  1. Further research shows that there is no passenger train service to Las Vegas, but I'm sure the Ferrari family could arrange for something :-).
  2. Morgan remembers the sequence differently: Kevin did initial recon, following the rakshasa from the dining car, then questioning the mook, and then we all went to the dining area. We'd appreciate input from others to help clarify. See the Discuss page.