Sometimes tiny changes in a timeline accumulated more changes. Some called it a snowball effect.

A driver made a wrong turn in an unfamiliar city, leading to an assassination which would trigger World War I which itself set the stage for World War II which led to the Atomic Age and so on.

When Apollo, swinging by one of his old hang-outs, noticed something Not Fun going on with the old place he looked it up and down and made a change. Then another but if the first change didn't go well, the second wouldn't matter.

And if anyone looked, like Hera, all they'd see was Annette Rose Hebert was an English Professor but also had classes dealing with the Music and Philosophy tracks.

Of course, with such a thing, one would expect her daughter to take to certain pursuits - right?

* February 5th 2001 *

Danny watched in astonishment as his six-year-old daughter played "Flight Of The Bumblebee" on a flute. Twice she hit the wrong notes, but considering the size of her hands and the complexity of the piece - it was still impressive. Certainly better than he could have managed much less at that age.

If Annette Hebert could have radiated more pride in her child it could have been mistaken for a parahuman ability.

"Wow," said Danny finally.

"Okay, go clean up," Annette instructed little Taylor. "We'll go out for Arthur Treacher's."

"Cans Emma come?" asked a hopeful Taylor.

"I'm sure she has other plans," said Annette, watching the disappointed little girl run off.

"Too bad she doesn't play the guitar," said Danny eventually. "A lot more opportunities for a career."

* September 6 2007 *

Taylor Hebert got out in front of the crowd. Just a little talent show. Just a little crowd...

A bigger crowd than she was used to. With judges.

Her hands drifted down to the guitar she'd brought along. She played.

"Deep down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans."

She remembered the lessons.

"Way back up in the woods among the evergreens."

Keep to a song that wasn't going to offend anyone.

"There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood."

Meet people's eyes, as if for just a second you were singing directly to them.

"Where lived a country boy named... Johnny B. Goode."

Stand confident without being aggressive. Confident without being arrogant. Easier said than done but she'd watched videos of singers and thought she had the general idea.

"He never learned to read or write so well."

And this song might be a bit old, but everyone was familiar with it and likely there were few who'd find an offensive message in it.

"But he could play guitar just like ringing a bell."

Her eyes spotted Emma hopping up and down in front. Nice to know she could count on her.

"Go go go Johnny go go go."

Play to the audience, but keep in mind the judges were the ones to impress.

"Johnny go go go."

It was the judges who'd decide who went on to the next level after all.

"Johnny go go go."

As it was, she could play three instruments right now fairly well and sing.

"Johnny B Goode!"

* September 15 2008 *

One day. One day for their lives to collapse.

Her father had withdrawn into himself and her mother was dead.

She had her sister-in-all-but-blood Emma and her family. One pillar she could lean on.

Other than that, she had her music. She could pour all her grief and frustration and rage into that.

There were songs specifically for things like that. Though she wasn't a great fan of Country music, certain moods just fit it too well.

Taylor forced herself up out of the depression she'd begun falling into. Her mother had encouraged her, even signed her up for competitions and a band camp. She would not let her down!

* August 9th 2009 *

Her father understood. Even if it was just one song. Being able to perform with an actual star during one of their concerts, playing guitar alongside their own guitarists, singing parts in the song?

She HAD to do it.

It was a pity that Emma couldn't be here, but she had stuff to model. Taylor had had to promise that if she made it, she could get Emma in on the first music video. It'd be a bit part, but you had to start somewhere.

Tim McGraw.

She had a chance to do something else near the end of the concert, doing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" on an electric banjo with the audience clapping time.

Country wasn't her favorite genre, but it wasn't her least favorite either.

If nothing else, how proud would her momma be?

* August 15th 2009, Emma *

"She's coming," said Emma, straightening herself up. This was her big chance. She'd prove she was strong and a predator.

"Yeah, you need to dump that bitch," said her best friend in the whole world. "Weak people will hold you down."

"Right," said Emma.

"You're strong. You're a survivor. Weak-assed little pussies will just hold you down," said Best Friend Sophia.

"Damn right," said Emma. It was pulling off a band-aid. Needed for her to be strong.

"Going off to attend some concert, part of some herd," said Sophia.

"Actually she was going to perform," said Emma, absently correcting her.

"Like some... 'perform' at a concert?" asked Sophia.

"Yeah, she was invited by one of those Country singers to perform with his band over in Boston." Emma took a deep breath.

"Oh. Country. Blech." Sophia shook her head. "Some lame third-stringer right?"

"Tim McGraw." Emma checked her appearance. She wanted to look imperious. Commanding.

"...I've actually heard of that guy," admitted Sophia. "Wait. So she's actually got her shit together enough she's working on a career?"

"Yeah. I do modeling, Taylor's into music." Emma Barnes tapped her foot uncertainly.

"Taylor... You mentioned that name before..." Sophia had dismissed the former friend as some artsy-craftsy type. Probably a hippie of some kind. Now she was thinking that just maybe she had missed making some connection here.

Emma was ready. It was time to kick the dead weight out of her life and make her own future.

* Sophia *

Sophia fit everything into prey and predator categories and then ranked them.

She had no idea where this "Taylor Hebert" fell in the ranking, but she was willing to throw her into the prey basket. For now.

"-you're worthless. Go away and die, Taylor, there is nothing for you here. We're through. Go back to recording contracts and hanging around weak little scrubs. Just stay away from me."

Sophia could see the hurt in the other girl. Which certainly fit into the prey. But... "recording contract?"

"Later," said Emma to her before returning her full attention to the girl wilting in front of her. "Get out of here, Taylor. If I ever see you again - you'll regret it."

Sophia thought the girl was about to cry or something but then she straightened up. "Fine. Maybe it's not too late to transfer to Arcadia." Sophia nodded to herself. Other girl was a survivor. Maybe still prey, but not being a punching bag was a step up.

* Dream, January 6 2010 *

"Okay, this is the first dream I had where I was in some Greco-Roman Escher landscape," said Taylor, looking around.

"Yes, my Chosen Champion," said a guy who was lazing back on a stone bench.

"I could hear the capitalization in that, nice," commented Taylor.

The guy, who was really good looking in Taylor's opinion, nodded at the comment. "It's a skill one picks up. Taylor Hebert, your world is in peril. I have granted you my Boon in the past so that your skills would blossom."

"Makes sense, I always surprised everyone with how fast I learned new instruments, and nobody was sure where I inherited the voice from," admitted Taylor. "Dream-logic means a god is involved."

"You recognize me?" asked the guy.

"Guy that looks like some Greek statue come to life, golden glow lighting up from behind, with a lyre sitting in front of you mostly concealing the naughty bits? Yeah, I can hazard a guess," said Taylor.

"It is so nice to interact with mortals that have a clue," admitted Apollo. "So you want to hear the deal?"

"Not a parahuman power is it? Cause most of those suck. Pardon my French," said Taylor. "I mean really, there's a guy out there with the amazing power of having trash cling to him."

"A power, but not a parahuman one," said Apollo, strumming a bit on the lyre and enjoying the way Taylor tried to not look. He had to get some amusement value out of this after all. "Spellsinging."

"Oh? Tell me more," said Taylor. If this was a dream, it was at least a different one. If it wasn't a dream she wanted all the details before making any kind of deal.

* Arcadia High School *

"Oh, isn't that that musician girl? She's coming this way."

"Musi... Oh, Hebert. I wonder what she wants."

"Vicky, Amy," said Taylor as she approached. "Mind if I sit?"

"You're normally the broody one in the corner," pointed out Vicky, "but sure. No problem."

"Thanks. Wanted a quick chat with you after school. Something you might be able to help with." Taylor sat down and looked over her lunch tray. "Something in your... area of expertise."

Amy Dallon and her sister glanced at each other, translating that easy enough.

"After I get my homework finished off, I'm due at the hospital, is this something you need me for?" asked Amy.

"First, can you confirm that I haven't suddenly become a parahuman?" asked Taylor. "Just in case?"

"Hand," said Amy, reaching out. That was easily enough done and...

* Olympus *

"Greetings, Amelia Claire," said the Greek god splashing water in the pool as he rose from where he'd been seated. "I had not expected to meet you this early, if at all."

Amy blinked twice. Then, even as the guy grabbed a towel, she screamed.

* Arcadia *

EVERYONE in the cafeteria was now staring at where Amy Dallon had shrieked, scrambled backwards, fallen on her buttocks and was staring wide-eyed at the people at her table.

Taylor facepalmed. "Okay. Didn't expect that."

"Amy?!" asked Victoria Dallon.


"I'll tell you later, when we're not so public maybe?" suggested Taylor.

Amy swallowed a couple of times, took in all the stares, and then turned bright red before fleeing the cafeteria.

Victoria sighed, picked up both of their trays. "Taylor. I don't know what just happened. After school, yeah. I want an explanation. Now I need to catch up with my sister and calm her down."

* After School *

Amy Dallon was normally depressed, sad, stressed, and snarky as she could get away with.

Doubting her sexuality (prior to seeing that guy she'd been pretty sure she was gay) was new. Angsting over her life was more along the lines of what her normal activities were.

"Answers," demanded Amy Dallon as she and her sister met Taylor Hebert.

She'd known about the girl who was an underclassman but fairly well-known due to a talent contest from a few years back and her continuing to perform locally. Decent singer, but put an instrument in her hands (Amy had heard piano, guitar, banjo, flute, and saxophone songs she'd played while waiting for a bus) and she was pretty good. Not to mention going from sulk/brood to intense focus or just a sort of at-peace look while she played.

"Not here," said Hebert. "How about your place? Or mine might work."

"Your place or mine?" asked Vicky.

"Someplace not crowded or likely to be watched," said Hebert with an eye-roll thrown in for emphasis. "After that at lunch there's enough rumors as it is."

"Got a place in mind," admitted Vicky.

It turned out that Vicky couldn't fly with two people and have them at all comfortable or safe, so they scrapped her first idea.

Amy watched Hebert while they took the bus. She had her guitar with her, clutching it protectively and shielding it from others with her body. Possibly because she didn't have a lot of money despite the gigs she'd occasionally get. Possibly because the old battered guitar had some sentimental value of some kind.

When they got to the Dallon home, she sat on one of the oversized chairs in the living room, arranged her guitar in front of her and took a deep breath. "I'm not a parahuman, but I have powers. A Blessing of Apollo."

"The guy in the vision," Amy said.

"Yeah, right, pull the other... Amy?" asked Vicky at the same time.

"What can you do?" asked Amy.

"Best to show you. It's difficult to explain." Hebert fingered the strings of her guitar and started playing to demonstrate.

Amy recognized the song, she'd heard it a couple of times at the hospital from people playing it for family members.

"When you try your best, but you don't succeed. When you get what you want, but not what you need. When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep. Stuck in reverse."

Sparkles appeared in the air, flowing outward in a wave.

Amy felt the effect when the chorus rolled around, as if a charge had been building in the air and then given shape and discharged.

"Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you."

Amy felt strength flowing into her, the stress melting slowly away. She didn't feel different about Hebert though. Still suspicious, still on edge, but as if she'd had a long rest that had been too long in coming. And still Hebert played. The lyrics building up a charge in the air that then discharged at the chorus as she played "Fix You" by Coldplay.

Finally Hebert finished, put the guitar to the side, and waited.

Vicky was the first to speak. "What. The Hell. Was THAT?"

"Spellsinging," said Hebert. "I can manifest effects or summon things using various songs. That was a song about healing and fixing damage, so it's a fairly safe one."

Amy checked her hands. She couldn't heal herself, so she was always picking up paper cuts or little bruises. Nothing. The paper cut she'd given herself in Algebra wasn't there. She felt... refreshed.

"WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" demanded Mark Dallon as he came out of his bedroom.

That led Taylor to repeat what she'd said earlier. Which led to another song. This one was an instrumental.

"Pirates of the Caribbean?" asked Vicky as the tune continued to play. It was weird, Hebert was playing the tune but it was like she could almost hear other instruments playing along.

"Do you happen to have any rum?"

"Just a second," said Mark Dallon, moving across the room and unlocking a cabinet. After taking a bottle out, he moved back across the room. "Here you go."

"Much obliged, mate."

Amy stopped breathing, going stiff. Slowly her head turned.

"Jack Sparrow?" squeaked Victoria.

"Captain Jack Sparrow, if you don't mind," said the man leaning against the wall, holding up the bottle. "Oh. High end stuff this. Makes the trip worth it for this sort of swag."

Hebert stopped playing and the pirate captain faded away. "Pleasure doin' business wit' ye."

"You... he..." Victoria's head whipped back and forth from the empty spot to the musician and back.

"He was one of the least harmful I could think of off the top of my head," said Taylor. "So... I figured you guys are the ones to ask. What do I do now?"

"Where's my recliner?" asked Mark Dallon.

* Elsewhere *

"What's that?" asked his First Mate.

"I honestly have no idea," said Captain Jack Sparrow, pulling the lever that caused the odd chair to shift position. "Comfy though."