The irony of a serpent called Bird going after what was basically a cobra with wings was not lost on him. In fact, he rather liked it. He was the only "feather snake" allowed—the rest should and would be dead. Wyverns had been hunted to extinction for a reason, and it was likely that if any did remain, it was probably one of those freakish hybrid experiments the Dai had wanted him for. They deserved to be out down, put out of their mangled-magic misery. And if it turned out it was just some lingering long-lost descendant claiming more might than was his due—well, Bird would enjoying putting that elitist pile of crap down too. No, any way he looked at it, this kid needed to die, and he was just the man to do it. The only good cobra is Me, he thought as he dialed his sometimes partner's cell.

"Hey Thal, you still got that place in New York?"

"Yes, and it's 3 a.m. here, why the devil are you calling me?"

"Contract, stateside. Want somewhere to crash for a few days while I sort out the rumors from the really stupid rumors."

Thal snorted into his phone. He hadn't actually been asleep, but if he could get Bird off the blasted phone sooner rather than later, he'd be happier.

"Fine. You can use my place as a landing pad."

"Excellent. Don't suppose I could talk you into picking me up from the airport."


"How long is a flight from London to New York?"

"I'm hanging up now, Bird."

"See you when I land, sweetie."

He'd been doing Dai clean up for the past couple centuries. Truth be told, he'd been doing it for the entirety of his career. But it had only recently become officially known as "clean up", since the Dai's final destruction in the late 1700's. Before then, revenge had just been his own quirky little hobby.

Either way, it was his known specialty, so he saw no harm in telling Thal that he was here on another "die the Dai".

"It's all been very cloak and dagger," he said, once he'd gotten back into the car with his gyro. Gods, the street food was always the best part about visiting Thal. Almost made him want to get his own place here. Almost. "I nearly didn't take this stupid job, cause they couldn't verify with any of my usuals. But from what I can gather, it's high profile, everyone wants it done but no one wants to be the one to do it."

Tzatziki dribbled down his chin, and Bird made an exaggerated moan in delight. "Gods, man. I should work on this side of the puddle more often. Best food." Thal just handed him a napkin and glared, which was about all Thal ever did.

"If you get that all over my car, you'll pay the cleaning bill."

"Alright, alright." Bird flapped a hand at him, but did wipe his face. "I do appreciate the favor you're doing me—though I can't imagine what you've got against Greek food." He offered the sandwich up towards Thal's face, making him grimace. "Would you try it in a car, would you try it at a titty bar?"

"I will leave your sorry ass on the side of the road. You can hitchhike wherever it is your assignment is at." Thal managed to growl between gritted teeth. "Sleep under an overpass, I'm sure the concrete will be warm enough."

"Spoil sport," Bird muttered, taking another bite. Only after chewing and swallowing did he say more loudly, "That was sort of the plan, actually. Though I thought I'd sleep in a bus or something. Open camping doesn't agree with my delicate skin."

Thal snorted. "With that thick hide you'd be fine on a bed of nails."

Bird made a rude noise and tucked back into his gyro, completely ignoring the sauce that covered his face and hands. Xen greedily lapped at the agitation thick in the car, urging him to goad Thal again. Bird wasn't in the mood. For whatever reason, the demon couldn't feed on emotions Bird felt about Xen directly, and his annoyance with the demon seemed to chase it off. Finally, no longer egged on by supernaturally interference, Bird cleaned up fastidiously and got to the point.

"I need connections to a nest. You in with any locals?"

"Mm ... I know a few. What sort of line are you looking for?" Thal flicked his turn signal, heading back towards the flat.

"Serpents, preferably. Travelers at any rate."

He watched the buildings go by, thinking without being aware of his thoughts. He was brooding, but he had no idea what over. That happened sometimes, often resulting in some of his best work. So he let his thoughts churn on without him, and watched the scenery.

They passed a park, with an ancient mansion towering over it. Bird wasn't sure why it caught his attention, but the thought was gone as soon as it came anyways. He'd process this all in due time, so for now, he just let the city wash over him.

"Traveling serpents..." He muttered. But his thoughts were already turning, flicking through names and faces.

"Mm, there's one that doesn't have a home base, but they are in town at the moment, the Westside nest is hosting them. I can probably put you in contact with their lead sometime tonight."


He couldn't focus. Something was nagging at him, at the edges, and it was driving him to distraction. He knew poking at it wouldn't make it any clearer, but he didn't know how much longer he could "not think about it" without going bonkers.

"You wanna go out tonight?"

Thal just stared at him, and honestly, Bird was just as surprised he'd said it. It was beyond abrupt, but it was a course of action, so he seized on it. "It's been ages, and I could use a good round to help against the jet lag. I'd buy," he added as an afterthought.

"Well, if you're buying."

Thal pulled a smooth course correction and the left the park and mysterious mansion behind.