Thoughts 1: What's a team?

First impressions

San Francisco’s a great city. The Golden Gate bridge; the view down to the bay; the people – and the freedom to be yourself. And the culmination of a battle to end the isolation of the gods in their realms – and allow us to bring all our power back to the field.

The first player on said field was Michael Ravencroft. A child of the Norse god, Odin, I met him by the bay. I say met. I introduced myself to him by entering the fray as it were. I’ve learned over the last few months that it’s generally not a good idea to surprise incredibly powerful people – with great power comes a great willingness to use said power without bothering to ask questions first. Time and again I’ve met the whole shoot first, ask questions once you’ve animated the dead corpse type people – although invariably we’re talking metaphor here rather than literal truth – which is where we jump back to my meeting with Racencroft. Rarely being one to take my own advice, I involved myself in Ravencroft’s fight without bothering to check who was who, or who’s side I should be on – for the record I’m not above self-deprecation – in certain cases – you don’t always have time to ask questions – and I figured the medusa-like critter turning people to stone on the sidewalk was a “bad thing” ™. And I was right. About the medusa being a bad thing. I was also right about people with power rarely bothering to explain their intent before acting. You don’t expect beasties you’ve just brained to start getting up again. That was Ravencroft though – never one to bother with others when an emergency arose, or indeed, ever. I mean, he was on the right side, but he was definitely used to working alone. And definitely the child a chief god – for all Eric’s self-important delusions about his father – which seems to lend itself to the assumption that everyone around you can’t possibly understand what’s going on, thus making you the saviour, and then for some reason these previously judged inferior offspring of obviously inferior gods should be able to telepathically intuit your actions and their outcomes without your need to explain yourself.

That was Ravencroft. And actually, it’s a fairly straight up description of Eric as well. Which he’d hate me for saying. Actually, it’s really more a description of most of the godchildren – myself included. And even Agent Hito. I say “even”, not because Hito is special – or different – but more because I could have expected better of an agent of the US government. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that any pantheon I know about has found out how to show humility. Which, for the record, is not to suggest that agents of the US government could be expected to show humility. No. What I’m trying to get at is that I might have expected someone who has been trained to work as a cog within a supposedly efficient machine might actually be able to translate that capacity to be a “cog” to another environment. But I was wrong. It seems , really, that no matter what your earthly origin, blood will out. You are your father’s son (or daughter, or mother’s etc. – you get where I’m going with this).

So Hito. More efficient than Ravencroft. Seemed to think a bit more – maybe smarter. I guess that’s why Hito was FBI, and Ravencroft was a soldier. But scratch under the surface and you find the blood of his father just like Ravencroft. I met Hito shortly after I met Ravencroft. They were, at the time, on the same “team”, I use “team” in inverted commas, because these people wouldn’t know how to work as a team if they were all clones of each other. But initially, all seemed reasonable enough – it did at least take a few hours for the cracks to show. Hito told me about the problems with the speakers – someone was trying to sabotage our plans to call down the Orisha. I’ve no complaints about how helpful he was. I can bitch and moan about how I got fried by some nutter running the local music store – beams of death coming out of some third eye in the middle of his forehead – but that wasn’t Hito’s fault. Most days you just don’t expect that kind of shit.

No, it was the following day that I spotted the first cracks – during our meeting to discuss the future. The meeting that was disrupted because half of the team have super-hearing and felt the need to run off and rescue someone – but not a single one of them thought to let the ones that didn’t have super-hearing know what was going on – oh no – they just upped and dashed out – each eager to somehow proves themselves the better – prove to who, I’m not sure – themselves, each other, or their parents. I’ll get to the parents later – but for now, let’s just acknowledge that Hito was one of the ones with super-hearing, and so was obviously one of the ones who ran off to rescue the damsel in distress – or poor guy who got driven off the Golden Gate by some possessed crackpot in an SUV.

So if opinions formulated over 24 hours can be considered “first impressions” – then first impressions of Hito and Ravencroft were fairly similar – fighting on the same side, and in the same battle, but somehow rarely doing it together despite their often being in the same place at the same time. And really, there’s only first impressions to go by with both of these guys – but for quite different reasons. But I’ll get back to that.

There were others – not really part of the “team” – but there, at the beginning of this, doing their part in the battle. Autumn – of Egyptian descent – she was one of the super-hearing crowd. She didn’t stay around long enough to make a real impression – so I don’t know if the casual disregard for her compatriots was borne out of similar divine birth-inspired self-importance – or too much time around others so afflicted. And Ryu, who I can only presume was Japanese. He appeared – and then disappeared as quickly.

So who remains. The team players? Not really. Nothing is simple, and getting people to agree to fight the same battle together is almost as difficult, if not, on occasion, more so, as the battle itself.

There’s Eric. There’s James. There’s Oliver. There was Gwyneth. And there’s Anthony.

There’re three of us in the team at the moment – so I’ll focus on them. Eric and James. Eric really didn’t get off to a good start with me. Actually, neither did James. I find it very difficult to come to terms with a man who will stand back and watch his ally get murdered. I know there was a rivalry there. But the kind of rivalry you get in a team is not the kind of rivalry that makes you stand back and watch your team-mate die. Now it’s clear that these people were not a team – more of the “group of people with the same overall agenda but a fundamentally different idea about how to achieve it” – but if you’ve just met a group of people who are fighting together, you don’t expect everything to fall apart within 24 hours – no matter how busy those 24 hours are. But that’s what happened. It just so happened that there was so much shit going on that we didn’t have time to stop for recriminations. So, first impressions of Eric – not someone who could be trusted.

As for James, he introduced himself to us shortly after his brother’s death – yep, another of Odin’s obviously many offspring – having mind-fucked Wile – “Hi, this is my new best friend, James”. Great start. If I wasn’t so distracted by having watched Eric stand by as Michael died, I might have reacted more negatively to this mental invasion. But as it was things were already quite fucking strange, and this was just one more thing. Besides, my father had brought to this place to be with these people – and I wasn’t in the mood to start questioning a prophet.

A brief dalliance into Wile. Greek. Nice guy. Schizophrenic. Or is that multiple personality disorder. Maybe after all the stress of what had been going on, his sudden decision that we were all immoral murderers, and that he was somehow going to defeat the titans without spilling any blood – and without making any mistakes – certainly threw us all a curve ball. I understand he was pissed. And I understand that Eric was pissed. And I understand that tempers got heated. But it all went too far. Maybe that’s more Eric’s fault than Wile’s – but these people seem all too willing to abandon their place in this war and fight each other whenever the opportunity arises. Wile’s a smart man. And Eric’s not. A good team needs people to fill all the roles. And every army needs a conscience. It just looked at the time like Eric needed that conscience beaten into him. And Wile wasn’t one for handing out a beating.

So Wile buggers off, and we had a brief encounter with Gwyneth – which I can spell – as oppose to his real name, which I’m not even going to bother trying to consider. Of Irish descent, Gwyneth, seemed intent on making us dislike him and not want him anywhere near us, whilst at the same time telling us that he wanted to be a team player. And then he was sacrificed to a giant worm. Or wyrm. Or wurm. One of them. He was a dick, but I’m not one for sitting comfortably by as people get sacrificed. Which is maybe why I don’t like Anthony. Child blood sacrifices. What the hell makes people think that anyone would want them as an ally. Really. I mean, I know you have to take whatever you’ve got when your in a battle. But really, how far do you compromise your morals before you’re no better than the people you’re fighting.

And given that I’ve only just met Anthony – I can’t tell if he’s just being a twat, or if he’s really fucking disturbed. It seems, however, that blood will out.

Some of these people have depth

A little bit of time has passed since I first met Eric and James. Not a lot of time, although it does feel like it’s been much longer than it actually has been. I think there’s been so much happening recently – with almost no time to focus on anything other than the battle / battles at hand – that I feel I’ve known these people for longer than I have. It’s been less than a month, but they are my team. It’s a new team – it needs refined – we need to get to know each other better – we need to learn how to operate together – but we’re getting there.

The obstacles to our success, are the very same reason that we’re in this fight – our parentage. Who are we? We are not Harlequins. My old team had a goal. To win a game. To keep winning that game. Everyone knew their place in the team. Each player trained for a role in that team, and accepted that their role was equally important to the team, even if, at the end of the day, some players got more public respect. We can’t win the game if we don’t have all the players fulfilling all their roles. A team doesn’t win based on the actions of one player – even if the public see the glory moments of the tries, the conversion or even the penalty kicks. No one would know who Jonny Wilkinson was if he didn’t have the support of the rest of the team. I won’t fall for the horribly clichéd “there is no “I” in “team” – because there’s a “me” in “team” and some sarcastic fucker will always wheel that out in response.
A war against the titans and their agents is not a rugby match though. Shame. There are obvious differences – even if some people can’t see them. We don’t know who all the players are. For all the possibilities of a prophetic god filling the role of manager, the likelihood of that happening is limited by the board of directors – all the other prophetic gods from every religion that happens to have some basis in divine reality. No one can tell us who’s on the team and who isn’t. Anthony and Gwyneth both made “I want to be on your team” noises, but neither had the right temperament – regardless of whether they had the right tools for a role in the team. We have to adapt to changes on the bench not just on the playing field. Changes like death – Michael – or sudden revelations of total fucked upness – Anthony – and to some extent Eric.
We don’t know all the positions that we need to finish the game. We want to defeat the titans, but we don’t know how to. We’re dependent on dregs and snippets of information from our own family’s and others – whose agendas may incorporate more than just defeating the titans. Hell, as I understand it the titans are just gods that lost a war. History is written by the victors, and whilst I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the titans want – or even care out – anything good happening to the world we live in, I’m also certain that some pantheons would quite happily see others fall during this war. And what if some subtle scheming helps that come about – if it succeeds, there’s no one left to complain. To get back to my original point, we each have skills – we each have unique talents. But we have no idea what skills we lack but might need tomorrow. And at the moment we haven’t worked out how not to double up unnecessary talents. You don’t need to two expert kickers when only one person can take a penalty kick at a time. But at the moment each of us wants to be Jonny Wilkinson.
We aren’t all running towards the same goalposts. This is the problem. My father is right. So is James’. And so is Eric’s. And none of them agree where the goalposts are. We live in the shadow of our fathers – the unknowable. Yet each one of us thinks we know what our fathers want – and that they are right. It’s coming to me now, looking down on the city of Kiev. We aren’t fighting our parents’ battle. We are fighting our battle. We aren’t fighting for their world. We’re fighting for our world. I had pizza with a god earlier. A god who knows no better how to deal with the situation we’re now in than we do. Our parents do not know all the answers. We do not know all the answers. They have called us to fight for them – because we didn’t know that we could fight for ourselves. It’s strange – I thought I’d stopped living for my parents years ago. But I have to do all that again. Break free from the metaphorical purse strings. And help Eric and James do the same. To be a team – to trust each other – we need to be fighting for the same thing – our world.

Of course, all this may be easier said than done. This is where the depth comes in. Unfortunately.

Eric and James are both Norse. They are different men, but they share some goals that I don’t. This is doubly problematic. They want – and they will want – to devote time and attention to issues that are less urgent to me. They, together, will want to do this. If they were of different lineage then at any given time their might be two of us attempting to dissuade the other of some distracting quest. I can’t deny them their lineage – and I can’t diminish their family. But if we are to start fighting for ourselves, then this obstacle must be overcome. It’s a fine line though. We can’t turn our backs on our families – we need them – but there needs to be some balance between our needs and their needs.

Their similarities don’t end with their family loyalties. And hell, it’s worth noting that even those aren’t written in stone – or runes. For all their linked heritage, Eric’s made a fair amount of noise about the conflict between Odin and Tyr. There’s no love lost there – and there’s nothing that provokes conflict more than minor differences in ideology amongst the like-minded (and by that I mean stubborn). As with Eric and Michael, I can see the rivalry between Tyr and Odin spilling over to Eric and James. Maybe that’s Eric. Maybe that’s Odin’s children. Maybe that’s fate… Maybe at some deeply inconvenient point, James will decide that Eric’s willingness to let his brother die needs addressed.
Their similarities also derive from their mentality – their family inspired worldview. This has nothing to do with loyalty and everything to do with the way their fathers’ blood drive them. Eric’s willingness to stand back and watch Michael die on the pretext of some bizarre – to me – code of honour sadly isn’t all pretext. He may not have liked Michael – but he clearly believes in this whole single combat bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole “nemesis – leave this to me” way of the thinking – but we’ve had the whole “it’s only a duel if we all agree talk”. Something that was completely necessary – and I just know that we’re going to need similar chats because we’ve only just scratched the surface of each of our unique worldviews.

So I’ve got my work cut out for me. Because I don’t see either of them willingly cutting the strings to their parents and accepting that the battle we’re in is our battle – not our parents. And then there’s the question of exactly how I’m going to find the balance between my goals and that of my parents. Because for all this, I’m as likely to do something that pisses them off as they are to piss me off.