A Pack Bonding Mission

[-singularity-] Last time on As the Maelstrom Swirls…

Kate’s doors opened onto the Great Hall of Calvin de Provence, Silver Fang King of the Gleaming Eye House. Yet upon her entry, courtiers gathered within began to bow to her, hailing her as the Queen. Katherine denied the illusion, accepting it as false as she approached the throne, only to find the apparition of her father stepping from behind the throne.

Identifying himself as Christopher Bellamonte’s spirit, the ‘ghost’ then instructed Katherine to sit the throne, claiming that it would symbolize her acceptance of her destiny and her father’s pride in and plans for her. When Katherine again refused the throne — repeatedly — and instead claimed her own path in the world, apart from anyone else’s plans for her, Christopher Bellamonte grew wroth and denounced her as a coward and a traitor. Flanked by her pack, Katherine resolutely departed the hall even as the crowds began to turn on her, hurling invectives and makeshift weaponry at her on her way out.

Once out of the room, Lukas warned the packmates that his room would be next, and self-identified rage and violence as his own weaknesses. He instructed that the packmates strengthen themselves with gifts and talens, setting out his stash of Gaia’s Breaths (3) and soak talens (6) for the pack’s use. Sinclair warned that his weakness may not be what he thinks it is.

[Honor’s Compass] [Let the records show:

Kate still has Luna’s Armor activated for +4 Soaking
Activating Resist Pain as we speak
Taking a GB in case as well as a Soak Talen]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Sarita has no Gifts to help her. She is simple taking a GB and a Soak Talen and activating the Soak Talen.]]

[Brutal Revelation] [Let the record also show:

Sinclair took a soak talen (+3)
Steelfur is active (+5)
Resist Pain is active
She has her own GBs]

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [Maddox:

* Offers up 1 extra GB per Garou (5 (including Margaret)), has more
* Has own soak talen, -1G +3 soak
* Shifts to Crinos
* Rolling for Faerie Light]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [And for the record, Lukas currently has:
– Resist Pain
– Luna’s Armor +7
– Soak Talen +3
– Spirit of the Fray
– Bloody Bandage +6]

[-singularity-] Hands reach forward, talens taken and given. Small bursts of light as spirits are released. Faint rustles of steel as Sinclair’s fur changes; a dark-bright glow on the walls as Lukas’s Armor joins Katherine’s. In the end, the Shadow Lord takes his somewhat depleted bag of talens back, tucking it back into its dedicated form. Even in hispo, his eyes are crystalline blue, meeting each of the others’ in turn.

Okay,” he rumbles quietly. “Let’s do this.

When they come around the corner, the door is before them. Where the ones before had reflected the minds and thoughts and — sometimes — deepest darkest feelings of those who had stood before them, this door is strangely plain. Just a slab of metal, with no visible knob or handle, polished so brightly that they can clearly see themselves reflected in it.

As Wyrmbreaker nears, he raises a paw, puts it against the door. As soon as he touches it, it opens — a whisper of sound, and then a subaudible tremor in the tunnel, the floor beneath them, as the immensely heavy door slides upward.

It’s a room inside. Not a forest, not a Great Hall. Just a room, but far more enormous than one could have imagined. Threesided, one vertix of the triangle to either side of them; the third directly ahead. The walls are dark. The floor is dark. Everything is dark, and deathly still, and everything gleams faintly wet. Stinks faintly of corruption.

Two things wait for them in that room. Standing in the center of the room, direwolf-form, forepaws braced wide, head bowed, is Wyrmbreaker. He looks larger than their Wyrmbreaker, stronger and faster and far more rageful.

Suspended above him — drooping in midair as though hanging from unseen wires — is Maddox. He is unconscious. He’s bleeding at the side and from the leg, the exact places where their Maddox is bleeding. Where their Maddox’s blood is black, though, the unconscious Maddox’s is red. And though they cannot smell Wyrmbreaker’s scent on his duplicate, they can smell Maddox’s on his suspended double — stronger, more vibrant, more alive than the scent on their Maddox.

There’s no question about it. The Wyrmbreaker in the room is not Wyrmbreaker. The Maddox is the room is the true Maddox. The one they have been with all this time —

something else.

Not-Wyrmbreaker lifts his head. His eyes burn blue.

“He is my packmate, and I will protect him,” he snarls. “I will not allow you to harm what is mine.”

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair would brush or bump against Wyrmbreaker, the real one, if her fur weren’t hardened, refined metal right now. So she just chuffs, standing alongside him: “Told you.

[Honor’s Compass] Honor’s Compass, adopting her Hispo form as they slip into this last, worst room, takes one glimpse of what is there, bristling, readying to protect the dangling Maddox; the real Maddox, if blood and scent were to be believed and swings her great head to bare her teeth at the imposter entering with them.

She’s rounding on him.

Wordless, her teeth are very sharp as she snaps her jaw at him.

[Echoes of Laughter] She looks as they walk in, and her eyes widen. Back tenses. Jaw more or less drops open. Someone else may have seen this one coming. The Strider is not ashamed to say that she didn’t. Maybe she should have, but she didn’t.

“Oh, fucking hell.” She takes a deep breath as she steps up, going into Crinos. Her back curls place her stance as that of a power position, ready to act in whatever way she has to.

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] They enter the room, and Maddox shifts upward. He grows taller, adds to his musculature. He’s hideous in his war form. What should be powerful, even for a weakling like him, is wasted, emaciated. They can see the bones of his ribs and pelvis, even through his reddish fur. The skin of his head is pulled taut, accentuating his skull. He offers up talens and things, prepares for combat with the rest of them, grumbling all the while. He renews his little blue light.

Entering last, he’s the last to see…

himself. Suspended in midair like a forgotten puppet. His dark eyes widen, his jaw drops, and before he can say or so anything

Kate is rounding on him. The others are adopting positions of strength, readying for something more. He backs away from the Silver Fang, backs up toward the door they left, which is no doubt gone now.

[-singularity-] Lukas has nothing to say in response to Sinclair — just a quick snap of his head around. He looks shocked. Perhaps horrified.

Yet when Kate rounds on Sidewalk’s End, he lets out a low, rough bark: “Stop! Whatever he is, he kept the light faithfully for us. And whatever he is, every wound he’s taken has mirrored itself on Where the Sidewalk Ends. We get the real one back first. Then we worry about the double.

Across the room, not-Wyrmbreaker takes two menace steps forward, head lowering until his skull is level with his shoulders, until the bristle of the fur along his back stands taller than his ears.

“He is my packmate.” Foam flies from not-Wyrmbreaker’s jaws as he snaps his teeth. “I will protect him. He is mine, my duty, my responsibility, mine, and I will not allow you to harm what is mine!”

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] By all accounts, the Maddox with his back to the wall, with the light floating gently near his shoulder, who has snarked and snarled and huffed at the others most of this night, is the false one. He’s empty on the inside. When he bleeds, it’s black sludge that seeps from the wounds. The Maddox suspended up ahead is the real one. He smells right. He bleeds red blood.

The Maddox with his back to the wall doesn’t feel not-himself. Even the attitude change, which has gotten worse and worse, doesn’t feel not-right.

In fact, he gets angry when the not-Lukas snarls at them, comes forward with menace. The real Wyrmbreaker calls Kate off, and the Other steps forward.

No,” he says, though he doesn’t step past the frontlines of the Unbroken. This isn’t his room, or isn’t supposed to be. That’s how the pattern went, anyway. “He is me, which makes him mine. Nobody can have him but me.” His tone, in the High Tongue, says No one else deserves him.

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair’s comment when they first came in and saw what this room has for them was offhand, but not as flippant as it could have been. Dreadful, in a way, gnawing at the fact that, well, she was at least partly right. She didn’t turn on Maddox — Lukas is right. Whoever or whatever this thing with them is, he has been faithful. He has not backstabbed them. She isn’t, in fact, even convinced that the thing dripping real read blood is actually the Maddox they came in with.

Striding alongside Wyrmbreaker, she says as much: “We not know sure. We be careful with both.

Not-Wyrmbreaker menaces, threatens, snaps his jaws, and Sinclair barks right back at him, a flurry of short, sharp roars threaded through with the sound of steel-on-steel. “We not harm. He ours, too! Wyrmbreaker ours.

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine stops when her Alpha commands it, but she’s still bristling. There’s a low growl thundering in her chest; she chuffs and slides her claws over the floor. She is eying the Other Maddox with mingled mistrust and wariness as he steps forward and addresses the Other Lukas.

The Silver Fang rounds, and comes forward.

Her ears flatten against her skull at the threat implied by her not-Alpha, but she stands firm. “Not your duty. Part of Pack. Not yours to care for alone. Lukas not alone. Never alone.”

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [C’mon, glow ball, stay on!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 4, 6, 6, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] Sarita is usually the one who talks. A little joke, a well-placed comment to make sure everyone’s keeping true…whatever. Right now, she’s not talking. Actions speak as loud as words, and the Strider takes up position with her packmates. Her brothers and sisters.

Her lip curls, and her body tenses. She’s just waiting for the sign. She doesn’t need to reiterate what the others have said; Maddox is theirs, and they will not let him go.

[-singularity-] “The pack is mine!” the not-Lukas snarls. “Mine to guide, mine to ward, mine to protect, mine, mine, my, MINE!

It’s hard to say who moves first, or if they move at once: both black hispos lunging forward, terrible claws flaying the floor open, all that mass moving out of sheer muscular strength, sheer power. Snarls explode from two throats at once: two rallying roars as both Wyrmbreakers charge for the other.

The Unbroken charge with Wyrmbreaker. But not-Wyrmbreaker has his own allies, and it’s not the unconscious, broken Theurge suspended in midair. As the pack roars forward, the ground shudders and shakes. A deep black crack splits the room, splits the walls, tears open to reveal

a nightmare. A flashing, insane world where black is white, and white is black: where the walls are wet and heaving, where the floor beneath their feet trembles and spasms like a living thing. A monstrosity rises out of that floor: eyeless, headless, more an octopus than a man; a snapping, screaming mouth at the end of each arm, an enormous devouring maw in the center of its body.

Six arms, they might notice. Six arms, and one ravenous hole.

Seeing it, Wyrmbreaker instantly changes direction. “Stay with me!” he barks. “Let me take the hits. Flank it, destroy it!

No more words. Wyrmbreaker lunges, teeth flashing —

and falls right through the creature, goes sprawling on the other side.

The shock is cold in the mind. He can’t touch them.

Meanwhile, the not-Wyrmbreaker comes snapping for their throats. Kate’s, perhaps, or Maddox’s. It doesn’t matter. He plunges right through them. Hits the floor — what’s left of it — hard enough to slam a grunt out of himself.

The two black wolves scramble to their feet, eyes wild, teeth bared. They pass right through their foes — both of them. There’s a panic in the air, crackling like rage; a burst of almost-incoherence on the totemlink, have to protect can’t let them fight alone they can’t, and then both Wyrmbreakers are wheeling on their haunches, lunging again, catching each other in midair, slamming together in a vicious snap of tooth and claw.

It’s impossible to tell who says it; or both. Perhaps it doesn’t matter:

No. NO! Not like this. I must protect them. Let me protect them!

[annnnd we should init!]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Init +7]]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 4

[Honor’s Compass] [+9]!
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 7

[-singularity-] [THE NOMFIEND! +10]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 4 (Failure at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [+5]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 3

[Brutal Revelation] Stay with me! Let me take the hits! their Wyrmbreaker roars, and Sinclair snaps her jaws at him, thinks more than says

and Maddox and Margaret can’t hear it, but the others can, the thoughts she has no time to say aloud: LISTEN TO YOURSELF.

She’s not little-sistering him. She’s dead serious.

But there’s no time. He lunges and cannot touch the thing. Not-Wyrmbreaker goes right through her and she shudders. Wheels on the thing that their Wyrmbreaker can’t touch, at least knowing that not-Wyrmbreaker can’t touch them. Instantly, she rallies, barking aloud: “Sidewalk and Midnight Sun stay back, heal us if you can! Echoes, Truth, flank or get behind it. GO!

[+10]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 10

[-singularity-] [Midnight Sun in Crinos: +8!]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 1 (Botch x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [Inits:
Sinclair 20
Kate 16
Nomfiend 14
Sarita 11
MS 9
WtSE 8]

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [Stay behind the fighters!
1a:
1b:
1c: GBs as necessary]

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair, lunging towards the six-armed beast at point, flicks her eyes suddenly, shouts mentally to the two packmates who are attacking with her, the sisters she runs with: Try to take out the arms first. We’ll finish it off together at the end.

[-singularity-] As the pack charges forward, seamlessly following Sinclair now, tight on her heels, the beast rears to face them. An obscene, shrieking mouth snaps and spits at them from the core; six others ring it.

They are not created equal. One is dark, corded and bunched with muscle. When it slams the ground in threat, the shudders threaten to knock them off their feet. Another bears a sickle-claw. A third is streaked in white and gold; gleams in the faltering light. A fourth: the mouth gibbering and snarling, spitting obscenities that cut the ears. A fifth, dripping with black sludge. And the last, trailing darkness where it writhes.

[Marge declare:
1a. Mother’s Touch on someone!]

[Echoes of Laughter] On it. It echoes across the pack link as she charges, ready to dodge and aiming to take out a tendril. And she sees one that’s just her size.

[1: Save for Dodge
R1: Claw the shit out of the arm with the potty mouth]]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[If change is allowed; not the potty mouth one. Clawing the shit out of the sickle-claw one! If change not allowed–disregard!]]

[-singularity-] [Nomfiend!

Strong arm: Slam!
Claw arm: Slash Sinclair!
Pretty arm: Bolster Dark Arm!
Pottymouth arm: GIBBERHOWL at Katherine. (aka Something Evil.)
Sludge arm: holding action til later
Dark arm: Something Evil at Sinclair!

Core: 1) Quake!
R1) NOM Sarita
R2) NOM Sinclair]

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine streaks around the monstrosity, ducking and weaving those deadly arms to come around flanking them. The Silver Fang’s pale eyes quickly absorb the waving limbs, zoning in on one in particular. She lets loose a terrible snarl and leaps at it; jaws wide.

1a.
b.
c. — all bites on the white and gold arm
R1.
R2.
R3. — same again unless it’s destroyed, moving to dark one.]

[Brutal Revelation] [1a.
1b.
1c. — bites on Pottymouth, switch to Dark if Pottymouth goes down
R1.
R2. — bites on Dark, switch to Strong if Dark goes down]

[Brutal Revelation] [1a. biting pottymouth arm.
dex + brawl -3 (split), +1 diff (steelfur)]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 8, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6) Re-rolls: 2

[Brutal Revelation] [damage. +3]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [pottymouth: OW soak]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 5, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [1b. same!
dex + brawl -4 (split), +1 diff]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 3, 3, 3, 4, 8 (Failure at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [1c. mother of god.]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Botch x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [1-5: sinclair
6: sarita
7: kate
8: sidewalk
9: midnight
10: target]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 2 (Failure at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [ow! fuck!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 6, 6, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 14 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 7 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [1a. Biting W&G Arm! -2 Split, -2 Behind, +1 TOO MANY SPLITS]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 3, 5, 5, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 3]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 3, 4, 4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 8, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [i’m so pretty! *soak*]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 4, 4, 5, 6, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [1b. Again!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 4, 6, 6, 8, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[-singularity-] The first to draw blood is Honor’s Compass — snapping from behind, a startlingly vicious wrench of her jaws.

Only it’s not blood. It’s blackness, a cold pitchblack viscosity that oozes slowly from the wound. The mouth at the end of that squirming, fleshy tentacle howls.

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 5]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 9 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 4, 4, 6, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] — but not for long. The Fang’s next bite tears the arm off at the root, flings it to the ground where it writhes, shudders, melts away. Nothing but a dark stain left.

[for the record: Pretty would have bolstered Strong for +1 die per success (diff 8 roll)]

[Honor’s Compass] [1c. WHO’S THE FAIREST OF ALL NOW? Biting that Dark arm]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 2]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [OW! NOT THE MOUTH!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 3, 3, 4, 4, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] In seconds, one of the arms has been reduced to a stump. Another is bleeding darkness, squirming back into the shelter of the others. The obscene mouth at the core of the thing screams, howls — its arms lash out viciously, as one, in every direction.

[Strong arm: slam! special roll first: each suxx = 1 person affected]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 2 at target 8)

[-singularity-] [1-2 Sinclair
3-4 Kate
5-6 Sarita
7-8 MS
9-10 WtSE]
Dice Rolled:[ 2 d10 ] 3, 4

[-singularity-] [Kate, first shockwave!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [bashing damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [second shockwave!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 9, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 2, 2, 2, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Soak 2!]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [Claw arm: slash Sinclair!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [BLOW ME]
Dice Rolled:[ 14 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [additional effect, yes/no?]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 (Success x 1 at target 8)

[-singularity-] [all subsequent healing is halved for 1 turn.]

[-singularity-] [pottymouth, GIBBERHOWL at Katherine. -1 die to actions per suxx, for 1 round per suxx.]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 9 (Failure at target 8)

[-singularity-] [OKAY APPARENTLY THE SILVER FANG IS IMMUNE TO GIBBERS.]

[-singularity-] [Sludge arm: taking action now — healing dark arm!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 2 at target 8)

[Brutal Revelation] [OH THE IRONY.]

[-singularity-] Dark arm: Something Evil at Sinclair!
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 2 at target 8)

[-singularity-] [Sinclair: blinded for rest of round!]

[-singularity-] [Core: Quake again! Everyone gets hit by this one.]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 8, 8, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [bashing damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 3, 4, 6, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 9 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [Soak! JAYSUS!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 1, 3, 8, 8, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [SOAK MY GOD SOAK]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] soak!
Dice Rolled:[ 14 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 7, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Blow Me Soak]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 3, 5, 5, 7, 8, 8, 8 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [MS soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 2, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] Somewhere in there, the clawed tentacle slashes at Sinclair. It bites — though not very deep. It hurts like a bitch, though, even through her gift: like poison burning into the skin.

Somewhere in there, the ground shudders. The dark tentacle, trailing smoke, rears and spits in Sinclair’s face. Her world goes black. She can’t see, doesn’t know if she ever will again —

and then the world turns upside down.

The monstrosity rears itself on all its tentacles. Slams itself down — a blow tenfold more powerful than the one its strongest arm unleashed. A wave of destruction spreads in all directions, buckling the last of the floor, sending the last of the walls shuddering down in ash. All that remains is a mad world, lit by strobe-flashes of a sort of lightning, dark rather than bright.

And the shrieking mouths. And the writhing arms of the beast.

Sinclair goes down, unconscious. Midnight Sun beside her, hit so hard by the sheer shock of it that her bones are pulverized inside her skin. And Sidewalk’s End —

Sidewalk’s End seems to explode in black blood. Falls to his knees, retching and gagging, blackness leaking out of every orifice, every pore. A hand comes up to his mouth, tries instinctively to hold the tide back, but then

his mouth splits at the corners, his bottom jaw comes off, he collapses, loses form entirely, comes apart at the seams.

Dies.

Blackness for him. No rage, no flicker of survival, however faint. Nothing.

And then — ex nihilo — consciousness again. He’s coming back. His eyes are opening. He sees the scene from above, high above. He sees the ring of destruction around the monstrosity; his would-be packmates wounded or unconscious. He sees what remains of the thing he inhabited for so long.

He sees the two Wyrmbreakers howling as one, a roar-scream of fury and horror. He sees the smaller struggle toward the others; the larger drag him back, beat him down. They turn on each other, snapping and clawing. Every wound they open mirrors itself on the other.

And then his feet touch the ground. He’s alive, in control of himself again. He feels again. The last few hours — like a dream, or a nightmare. Over now. Time to wake.

Time to fight.

[Congratulations, you have your body back! You can pick up from your previously declared actions, unless you want to change them.]

[-singularity-] [and midround summary:

Strong: OK
Claw: OK
Pottymouth: OK
Sludge: OK
Dark: 2A
Pretty: x_x
Core: OK

Sinclair: 3A, 4B, KO
Kate: 5B
Sarita: 5B
Midnight: 2L, 5B
WtSE: is Lazarus! OK]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[New action +1: Claw the shit out of Claw arm!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[DAMAGE GRR RAWR!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 9, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [claw soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] His feet touch the ground, and he is himself again. Tall and gangling, not covered in sludge. Wounded, but not so badly as before. Fleshed out and whole. He takes just a moment to look around, assessing. In the other body, he planned to heal those who needed it. Now that he’s whole, he’s got choices.

Well, not really. He told Lukas that he wasn’t much of a healer, or a fighter. His strengths lie in dealing with spirits, in the barter and trade with them. There’s only so much he can do.

Wyrmbreaker! Stop killing yourself!” he shouts. Then, the reddish Crinos wolf rushes toward his fallen comrades.

[1a: GB Sinclair (and when he notices it doesn’t heal much)
1b: GB Sinclair
1c: GB Kate; -3G]

[-singularity-] [+4 to sinclair in all 3B remaining; +4 to Kate, 1B remaining]

[Brutal Revelation] [R1! biting dark arm!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Brutal Revelation] [+3]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 6, 7, 7, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [OW]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 2, 4 (Botch x 3 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [R2!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [+4]
Dice Rolled:[ 12 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [claw soaks!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [R1. Biting Claw!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 2, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 4]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] The dark arm — the one trailing black vapor, spitting blindness — drops next. Wilts to nothing under the ferocious Walker’s jaws. Fades to a stain.

Across the room, the two Wyrmbreakers look at Maddox as one. There’s a beat of stillness. Then the smaller lunges toward the battle; the larger drags him back again. There are words in those snarls, half incoherent —

No!
Have to —
— help them!
My pack —
— they can’t —
— have to protect them!

One sinks its teeth into the other. When it snaps its head back, it tears a strip of flesh free. The same wound, the exact same, opens like stigmata on its own shoulder.

[and claw soaks!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 5, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [R2. Biting again!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 4]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6, 8 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [R3! COME ON KATE, DON’T BE PRISSY.]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [FINE. WHATEVS.]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 2, 2, 4, 7, 9, 9, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [ack!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 6, 8 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] It’s the white wolf that takes down the clawed arm. It doesn’t want to go. Even torn off from the core, even fading to dust, it shrieks, it beats at the wet, heaving ground, it carves black-bleeding furrows into that oddly fleshy material until nothing is left of it

but a stain.

Deprived of half its arms, weakened, the core nonetheless lashes out again. Heaves itself wholesale from the ground it rose — or grew — from, pulls itself so long that they can see the striated muscle beneath skin stretched paper-thin. Its central mouth shrieks as it snaps at Sarita, that bloody howl muffling on her flesh.

[R1, nomf!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [dam!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 7, 9, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[SOAKIE SOAK]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 8 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] R2. Same on Sinclair!
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 3, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9 (Success x 8 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [HEY. not cool.]
Dice Rolled:[ 14 d10 ] 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10, 10, 10 (Success x 9 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[CLAW Sludge Arm and -4 diff ’cause Damon said so]]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 8 at target 2)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Damage]]
Dice Rolled:[ 13 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [sludge soak]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 4, 5, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [End of round! 1 bashing autoregenerates. Summary in order of inits:

Sinclair 2B
Kate OK
Strong OK
Pottymouth OK
Sludge OK
Core OK
Dark x_x
Pretty x_x
Claw x_x
Sarita 4B
WtSE OK
Midnight 2L 4B, awake again

Go ahead and declare while I do a summary post! Midnight’s declare:

1a. Fuck this mother’s touch shit, GB myself
b. GB Sarita
c. GB someone else!]

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [1a:
1b: Claw core from behind, change to GB as necessary]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[1a: Hey, it’s not working anyway, so let’s try it again! Claw.
1b: Claw
R1: Claw]]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Oh, and all those on Sludge]]

[-singularity-] [Nomfiend:

Strong – Minor Quake again!
Pottymouth: Nomf Kate!
Sludge: Heal Strong!

Core:
1. Nomf WtSE
R1. Nomf Sinclair
R2. Nomf Sarita]

[Honor’s Compass] [1a.
1b. Biting Pottymouth!
R1.
R2. Same!]

[Brutal Revelation] [1a.
1b.
1c. — all bites on Sludge, switching to Strong if PM goes down
R1.
R2. — bites on Strong, switch to Pottymouth if Strong goes down]

[Brutal Revelation] [1a. -3 / +1 diff]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 5, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Brutal Revelation] [+4 COME ON YOU WHORE]
Dice Rolled:[ 12 d10 ] 1, 1, 3, 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 7, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [1b. -4 / +1 diff]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 1, 4, 4, 4, 5 (Botch x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] It has no eyes.

Of course it can’t see very well. It bites half-blind — a glancing blow that barely nicks Sarita. But sometimes it gets lucky.

That terrible mouth finds Sinclair. It shuts with such speed, such force, that she should be pulverized. Utterly destroyed. Steel shrieks on steel; her head rushes with the pressure. Yet when the creature flings her aside — expecting her to be a sack of bone and meat, destroyed — she isn’t even touched.

The same can’t be said for the Hispos across the room. Fighting, snarling, rolling — sometimes passing right through the combat without ever affecting it. Fur flies. Flesh rends. A bone crunches, and both wolves limp. They come together again and again, snarling and snapping, words like must protect and MINE and —

and eventually they wear each other out. The blows come lighter with every passing second. The blocks and parries slower. Their teeth clench shut, each on the other’s shoulder, and they haven’t the strength to let go; they lean on each other, exhausted, panting, huge paws sunk into thick ruffs,

until some errant flash of fury lights in their eyes at the same time, and they twist their heads savagely away.

An explosion of blood, like a fine mist. Two black hispos fall side by side, dazed, glassy-eyed, red blood and black. They stare at each other, sides moving fitfully with every breath.

Across the room — without them, without needing them — the battle rages on.

[sludge soaks!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 4, 6, 7, 9, 9 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [botch roll!]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage on midnight!]

[Brutal Revelation] [damage! ack.]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 4, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [yelp!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 7, 10 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] [that pushes midnight’s health to 4A, 2L, 1B (shifting everything down!) — incap again!]

[Brutal Revelation] [1c. AUGH]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 7, 7, 7, 9, 9 (Success x 6 at target 6) [WP]

[Brutal Revelation] [AUUUUUUUGH. yeah, you like that, bitch? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUGH!!!!]
Dice Rolled:[ 13 d10 ] 1, 1, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10 (Success x 7 at target 6) Re-rolls: 3

[-singularity-] [ackkk!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 3, 4, 6, 6, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [aaaaugh, i said.]
Dice Rolled:[ 13 d10 ] 2, 2, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8 (Success x 8 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [This is Kate, nomfing Pottymouth! -2 dice, -2 diff (back)]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 3 at target 3)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 4, 5, 7, 7, 7, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [pottymouth soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 6, 7, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [second nomf!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] whoops, wrong diff. +2 succ. damage!
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 2, 3, 6, 6, 7 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [Strong arm: quake again! how many hits?]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 6, 6, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 2 at target 8)

[-singularity-] [and whom?]
Dice Rolled:[ 2 d10 ] 5, 10

[-singularity-] [Numbers were:

1-2 Sinclair
3-4 Kate
5-6 Sarita
7-8 MS
9-10 WtSE

— so Sarita and WtSE! This is for Sarita — ]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [bashing damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[SOak!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 9 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] [and this is for WtSE!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [bashing damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 4, 6, 6, 6, 7, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [SOAK IT BETCH]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 3, 4, 4, 6, 6 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [and +3 because I’m a dumbass and forgot he’s in Crinos]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 2, 2, 5 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] [midround summary:

Sinclair 2B
Kate OK
Sarita 1L 6B – KO
MS 4A 2L 1B – KO
WtSE 5B

Strong OK
Potty 3A
Sludge 5A
Core OK, but down 3 arms]

[-singularity-] [Pottymouth nomfs Kate! -1 dam mod]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [dam!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 8, 10 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] [well DUH, Kate would never let a pottymouth nomf her.

Sludge heals strong … useless, because Strong isn’t hurt. Dumbass Sludge.

Core nomfing WtSE!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 7, 9, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 3, 6, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [SOAAAAAAAK!]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 2, 4, 4, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [1a: GB on MS
1b: GB on Sarita? If they’re all in the same area and that makes sense]

[-singularity-] [sarita at 3B, MS at 2L/1B

sarita, take your turn!]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[OW OW fucker I claw sludge! -1 for wound penalty, -2 for split actions]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 7 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Daamage]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [onoz, i don’t wanna dieee!]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 4, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] x_x

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Claw 2 on potty, -1 wound, -3 split]]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Damager]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [ow!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 4, 8, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [MS:
1a. GB WtSE for 4!
b. GB sinclair cuz she’s getting nomfed next!
c. and sarita too for same reason!]

[-singularity-] [MS – 2L/1B, WtSE – B; everyone else OK.
strong – OK. potty – 3A. core – OK.]

[Brutal Revelation] [R1 you cat-loving whoreslut! YEAH I SAID IT. (biting the pottymouth)]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6, 7, 7 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [+1 booooooo]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 6, 6, 8, 9, 9, 9 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 4, 7, 7, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [R2 COME ON.]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Brutal Revelation] [RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 4, 8, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] x_x!

[-singularity-] It’s a bitter, harrowing fight. Again and again, the wolves go down. Again and again, they help each other, break talens over each other, crunch them in their teeth. Again and again, they rise to their feet

and plunge back into the fray.

One arm after another falls. Only two left now. Two, and the core with its terrible mouth. Bloodstained. Hideous. The ground roils when it moves.

Across the room, the two Ahrouns laid out side by side, exhausted, destroyed. Melting down to Homid now, where they are almost mirrors of one another; hard to tell which is which.

One reaches out to the other. He cups his double’s jaw, the side of his neck. It’s a strange gesture; something like brotherhood, or recognition.

[Honor’s Compass] [R1. Biting… um, one that’s still up! -2 split]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7 (Success x 6 at target 3)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 5]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6 (Failure at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] […IDEK. +2 dice!]
Dice Rolled:[ 2 d10 ] 4, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [1 Damage]
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 5 (Failure at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [R2. AGAIN. FINISH HIM!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 6, 6, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 3)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 4]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] ack!
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 4, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] The last of the arms falls away, thrashing, its death-throes sending tremors through the earth. Or what passes for earth here: fleshy, pulsating, beating with some terrible dark heartbeat of its own. All that remains is the core, naked now, a bulbous clot of flesh, muscle that sometimes seems to rotate and twist inside its sac of thin-stretched skin.

It is weakened. It has been stripped of its attendants. But it is not defeated. Its claws are sunk deep into this realm; it will not die so easily.

[R1 – nomf sinclair!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 6, 7, 10, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 3, 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [bitch, you ain’t shit.]
Dice Rolled:[ 14 d10 ] 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [R2 – nomf sarita!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 6, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [damage!]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 2, 2, 2, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 7 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[SOAK PLEASENOWKTHXBYE]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 1, 4, 5, 8, 8, 10 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Owwwww claw attempt -5 wound penalty]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 4, 5 (Success x 1 at target 3)

[Echoes of Laughter] [[Damage]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 7, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [HDY I AM THE CORE!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 5, 7, 7, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [annnd end round! summary, after bashing regens:

Sinclair OK
Kate OK
Sarita 6A
MS 2L
WtSE OK

Core OK – somewhat weakened getting arms torn off, but looks like it can take a hit still.

Init order (taking into account wounds):

Sinclair
Kate
WtSE
MS
Sarita

Declare while I post!]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[1a: Fuck you you don’t scare me bringer of my death I CLAW YOU!
1b: Yes, I know I have wound penalties I STILL CLAW YOU]]

[Echoes of Laughter] [[And R1: I CLAW MORE!]]

[-singularity-] MS:
1a. GB Sarita ffs!
b. GB someone else, and then i’m outta gnosis too!

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] [If possible, reflexive: Take hits for Midnight Sun (HAELZ STICK TUGEDDER)
1:
R1:
R2:
R3: Claws on Core]

[Honor’s Compass] [Kate is:

1a. Smacking a GB on Sarita’s ass, cuz she’s sassy like that.
1b. Biting Core!
1c Biting Core!]

[Brutal Revelation] [1a.
1b.
R1.
R2. — eat the Core]

[-singularity-] [ack! belated! you guys can free-change if you want.

Core:
1. EARTHQUAKE, FUCKERS!
R1. Again!
R2. SPAM AOE! BLOW COOLDOWNS! FACEROLL! PANIC!!!11oneone]

[Brutal Revelation] [NOMF]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 7, 7, 7, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Brutal Revelation] [grrrr!]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 1, 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[-singularity-] The wolves array themselves around this last, terrible nexus of the realm. It is all contorting flesh and gaping mouths, all teeth, not sharp and white but blunt and yellow, which is somehow all the worse. Its smaller mouths shriek and gibber, no language any of them would want to understand.

Its largest mouth is purely for destruction.

And Wyrmbreaker can’t touch it. Neither of them can, just like they can’t touch their own packmates now. Their. He wonders when he began to think of them as that. Our. The face under his hand feels familiar; it should. It’s his own. He’s seen it a hundred thousand times in the mirror, shaves it, washes it, wears it like a mask for the predator he is, beneath.

“They are our packmates,” he tells his double softly.
They are.
“They are our responsibility.”
They are.
“We protect them.”
We do.
“We guide them.”
We do.
“We lead them.”
We do.
“It is our duty, and our honor.”
It is.

A pause.

” … but we can’t help them now.”

A longer pause.

We can’t.

“And they aren’t helpless without us.”

A very long pause.

They’re not.

Lukas smiles then. It’s strange to see it: that same smile, slow and warm and just a little sad.

“We are their Alpha. We are their friend. We are their brother. But we are not their shield, their shelter, their sole protection against everything.

And they don’t need us to be.

There’s no answer necessary then. Wyrmbreaker takes a deep breath. He can barely manage; a lung is punctured; he’s nearly killed himself. He holds out his hand. His double takes it, seizes it, ferociously hard, and —

Wyrmbreaker rises alone from the floor. He staggers toward his packmates; shifts; he rips a Bloody Bandage from his fur and as it unravels he picks up his pace, breaks into a run as it disintegrates. His fur is matted with blood and some darker, more viscous fluid. Even with the Bandage there are traces of wounds, doubly self-inflicted.

It doesn’t matter. He roars as he takes his place with his pack, shoulder to shoulder with them.

[Wyrmbreaker’s declare:
1a/b/c – shit ton of bloody bandages as necessary!]

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [OMMM NOM NOM NOM NOM]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 2, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Brutal Revelation] [I JUST WANNA DO DA-A-AM-AAAGE. :[ ]
Dice Rolled:[ 9 d10 ] 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 8, 9, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [1a. Biting Core!]
Dice Rolled:[ 8 d10 ] 1, 5, 5, 6, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 6 at target 5)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 5]
Dice Rolled:[ 11 d10 ] 3, 3, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 8 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [ack soak!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 5, 6, 6 (Failure at target 6)

[Honor’s Compass] [1b. Annnnd again!]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 5 at target 5)

[Honor’s Compass] [Damage + 4]
Dice Rolled:[ 10 d10 ] 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 9, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 8 at target 6)

[-singularity-] [EEEP]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 1, 2, 5, 9, 10 (Failure at target 6)

[-singularity-] It’s not that the core isn’t strong. It’s not that it, stripped of its attendant arms, is defenseless. Is helpless. Is harmless.

It’s not that at all. It’s simply the fact that it’s outmatched.

The Glass Walker holds its attention. The Silver Fang shreds it from behind, splits it open, cleaves into it. Utterly savage, utterly terrible, Honor’s Compass rips into the thing, and the last bite, the deepest, finds some critical juncture. Some nerve-center that, once severed, makes survival impossible.

A hideous keening fills this unformed space, this region of corruption and foul flesh. It sears their ears and blinds their eyes, rings in their skulls until one by one they must drop to their knees, cover their ears, close their eyes lest their heads simply burst.

And then — just like that — it’s over. An enormous, soundless explosion sucks at their ears. Rolls outward from the core, peeling back the flesh, the ichor, the blackness, the corrosion. Burns it all away, clean as white ash.

When they open their eyes again, the world has changed.

The room is gone. The flesh-chamber is gone. All that remains is a limitless whiteness, and this being. Purified now.

Where the core seethed there now stands a figure. Humanoid; innumerable arms arrayed behind it. Six arms larger than the rest, prominent, flawless, svelte and strong. Each bears a talisman: a sword, an axe, a sceptre, a dagger, an orb, a torch. Six eyes in its head, glowing blue. No other discernible features.

It does not speak to them. It looks at them for a very long time, recognizing them, seeing them. And then — between one blink and the next — it simply vanishes away.

There’s a door left behind. It’s open, waiting. Through it, they can see a passageway leading upward, curving right.

[-singularity-] [Final summary:

Sinclair OK
Kate OK
Sarita 6A
MS 2L 1B
WtSE 1B
Lukas 1Aish?

Core – 15A +2
6 arms – 7A each (plus overkill here and there)]

[Echoes of Laughter] She’s been knocked down in the fight. She got up. She’s been nearly knocked the hell back down again and she was on the verge of death. And still, Sarita threw herself at it. There are times that she fights smart. She’s sneaky, she aims for weak spots, she dodges and blocks.

This was not one of those times.

She’s ready to claw. She’s punch-drunk and ready to swing for the fences, and then it’s down and Kate’s standing in front of where it was. She blinks a couple of times, smiles when she sees Kate. Breathes easier when she gets the Gaia’s Breath, and shifts back to breed form.

“Fuck me, that hurt. Thanks.” She clasps Kate’s shoulder (whatever form she’s in), smiles when she looks around and sees that everyone’s still up. “Mission accomplished, I’d say. Awesome.”

She looks at the door, looks to the others. Waits to accompany them out.

[Brutal Revelation] When all is said and done, the Galliard thinks dimly that she would be angry, her pride injured at multiple failures, if only…

well, if only her rage weren’t so depleted, if her will weren’t sapped. But mostly: if only she weren’t so blindingly proud of Katherine, so worried for the rest of them. She shifts her weight from foot to foot, dancing in place as the Core dies, horrifically, right before her. As the world burns away, as the figure comes in front of them. Steel melts from her body and she recognizes the axe held in one of its arms. If she wore a human face, it might be smiling gently at that. And at the torch, truth be told.

She bows to it.

And as soon as it’s gone, she goes to Sarita, a keening note in her throat, lapping at the other Garou’s wounds as though that would heal them better than a gourd. When Katherine breaks one over her, Sinclair whuffs in satisfaction even though Sarita is not completely healed, and bumps her head against the sister she was snapping at just — how long ago was it, now? A lifetime ago.

She gives Katherine a nudge, too. A congratulatory lick. Good sister good good very strong sister sister good yay. A bark, a yelp to voice what is only over the totemlink for a moment, and then she’s checking on Margaret, on Maddox, giving each of them strangely familiar nuzzles, brushing against their sides as though they are already pack, already bound.

But truth be told, they are stops on her way to Lukas. She stops before him. Then opens her maw and gently, familiarly nomfs the joint between shoulder and neck, holding on in a savage sort of hug, their throats together.

Told you so, she thinks at him, and even her spiritual voice is soft. More tender than anything most would expect of her. Maddox and Margaret sure will be surprised. She lets go of him and bumps her head against his side, but there are no other words then. She just stays. Mentally, she urges Katherine and Sarita to come close, be close, come, come, everyone be close. Out loud, she gives whuffs and faint whines that say the same to Maddox and Margaret.

Come, come. Pack come.

[Honor’s Compass] Perhaps she’s simply reached her breaking point.

Perhaps ever since leaving her own ‘room’, her own test she’s been a little more raw, a little more savage and unwilling to compromise. Honor’s Compass is her name, but let it never be said she would not destroy what she must to find that compass. To ensure her direction is true. She fights, Katherine, fights alongside her sisters and future brother and sister.

She fights for her Alpha, as he wages a bloody and in the end fruitless war upon his own other self.

They fall, but they do not die.
They drop, but they stagger upright again.

How long do they fight for, she cannot remember only that at the end, the arms torn away, only this mass left behind the Silver Fang lets out a deep, brutal roar and sinks her jaws so deep, so deep she finds the heart of this corruption — and rips it out of the Umbral space it inhabits.

In the aftermath, in the clear limitless whiteness, the Silver Fang’s fur is matted with black ichor. She opens burning eyes, the Adren and blinks several times. Sees stars and dots and sways on her feet a little before she can see the true core of this Realm, the untainted version, at least. It looks at them, and they look at it.

Honor’s Compass tilts her great head to one side, her ear flicks; wet nose inhaling clean scents with great satisfaction.

After it is gone, the snowy wolf finds one of the Gaia’s Breaths she’d stowed earlier, breaks it over her No Moon sister. Nuzzles her Galliard sister, then follows after to rub against her Alpha. To study him in a manner that suggests see, see pack can do much, not alone.

[Where the Sidewalk Ends] There was a moment in there, when they were being hammered, and comrades kept falling to the ground and Maddox and Margaret rush to heal, that it was just too much. Too infuriating. They were fighting and fighting, and so was the creature. And Lukas was off fighting himself, literally. In that moment, Maddox’s Rage spiked higher than it’s been in a long, long time. By then, he’d tapped his spiritual well dry, and almost didn’t know what to do with that excess anger and wrath. So he spent it.

Unnecessarily, as it turns out. It doesn’t matter, though. Maddox drops to his knees with the rest of them, claps huge handpaws over his ears, flattening them to his skull, squeezing his eyes shut. When it’s over, when it’s all finally over and he lowers his hands, he’s dazed.

No more Rage.

No more gnosis.

He feels empty, hollowed out, lighter even than when he was trapped in that other shell. The one that was hollow inside, and wasted away after a cleansing. He stares at the being, his head tipped up, swaying where he kneels. Then he shifts, becomes homid again. His dark hair is askew, his clothing is a mess. He stares at it, hands dragging at his sides. The look on his face is one full of wonder. And then it’s gone. It’s over. It’s over and he doesn’t feel so cranky, bitter, or angry.

Maddox just feels like himself. More than, less than. He needs rest. He needs to meditate for a goddamn day. Sinclair nudges him, and he huffs, but this time it’s amusement and relief. The Theurge staggers to his feet. He looks from packmate to packmate to packmate, ending finally on Lukas, brows lifted in query. Sinclair treats him like he’s pack already, but the final judgment isn’t hers alone. Placing one foot in front of the other, Maddox makes his way mostly steadily to where the others gather around their alpha.

[-singularity-] To say Wyrmbreaker is relieved would be true. To say he is a little abashed — also true.

To say he is proud: an understatement.

He has nothing to say to them. He lays his chin over Sinclair’s back and closes his eyes a moment. Nips at Kate’s ear gently. Bumps sides with Sarita. Only a little pause, and then he pushes his nose into Midnight Sun’s ruff; puts his huge paw over the back of Maddox’s neck and pulls him into a rough sort of proto-embrace.

Let’s go, his whuff says when he drops all four paws back to the ground. Let’s go, the turn of his body says.

There’s no hesitation as he takes the lead; no glance over his shoulder to make sure everyone was keeping up, to make sure no one was flagging, to make sure no one was left behind, no one was injured, no one was weak.

They’re not weak. Of course not.

Upward, then.

Up the way they came. Every passageway broad and pristine now. From the bottommost and seventh room to sixth — the triangular space where Lukas first met his double.

Another male stands there. None of them recognize him, not even Lukas, though there’s something faintly familiar about him. Dark hair, blue eyes; he looks a little like Wyrmbreaker.

“Love the ones you love, Wyrmbreaker,” he says. “Do not fear for them.”

They run on.

The fifth room; four-sided. There is a figure in there. Katherine recognizes him even before he turns. He looks the way she remembers him. Young; not much older than she is now. He is not her father, but he smiles at her anyway.

“Your father is proud of you, Katie,” he says,

and they run on.

The fourth room; five-sided. A little girl stands there, and they see her clearly for the first time. She is lovely. She looks like her mother. She speaks with her voice, but it is a spirit that speaks through her.

“You did not lose your family, Midnight Sun. They were taken from you, but you will see them again.”

And they run on.

The third room; six-sided. A girl waits inside, blonde and blue-eyed. Not Sinclair, but reminiscent. She doesn’t say anything; she just winks at Sinclair as she runs past,

and they run on.

The second room; seven-sided. Sarita’s double stands there. Cocky grin, but only if you failed to see the kindness beneath.

“Guess there isn’t much you can’t do, huh, chica,” she calls,

and they run on.

And the first room; eight-sided. Nothing there but a torch, burning on: the torch the god of the realm held, so far below.

They run on: homeward.

[Brutal Revelation] [thank you again Damon!]

Advice For Ox

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Okay. So,She pulls up to the block where Ox said he’d be, smiling a little bit when she pulls to a stop. “Hey there, you. Nice to see you again…hop in.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods, clambering into the van. “Thanks.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Of course.” She starts driving. She can’t just park on the street and risk a cop coming up if she’s in a no parking zone or some shit. “How’ve you been, Br…do you prefer Ox, or Brian?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Ox.” He nods again.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Okay.” She nods. “So how’ve you been, Ox?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He shrugs. “Okay. What about you?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ehh…busy, which is good. I dunno, I miss being lazy every now and then.” A little chuckle. “But I can’t complain.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh. Okay. Good.” He nods, hands clasped in front of him.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Yeah, I guess so.” She looks over at him, curiously. “So what’s up?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He keeps his eyes forward. “I need to talk to you about Amy.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She frowns a little now. “What about Amy?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “What’s going on with her.” He shrugs his massive shoulders. “What she wants. What I want.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “What do you mean, Ox?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “She’s scared of Stefan.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She frowns. “Scared?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Yeah. Scared. When she told him about Kieran she was scared he was going to kill her. Or Kieran.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Wait…when she told him about Kieran? What about…” She sighs. “Oh Jesus.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “What?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well, I can put two and two together and get ‘sex’ out of it, hon.” She shakes her head. “I didn’t know.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He pales a little at that. “I thought she told you.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “No. No, she didn’t.” She sighs. “Motherfucker. But okay…she thought that Stefan was going to kill her or Ki. Did she say why…or hell, did she even say it, or did you just pick up on it?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “She said it.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Okay.” She frowns a little, and nods. “Well…here’s the thing. How much do you know about how things have gone down since Amy and I got here?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I don’t know. She doesn’t talk about it a lot.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “So, here’s the thing. I’m not going into details here. But she was with someone, and that someone found out that she did something with someone else. That someone shifted into Crinos and hit Amy so hard he gave her a concussion and rebroke a recently-broken wrist.” She puts a hand up. “He’s been dealth with. He’s no longer in the city. But you can possibly understand why Amy’s immediately gunshy about letting someone know that she cheated on them. If you think it’s something more, then…that’s something different.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He’s quiet for a long moment, controlling his Rage. He has long practice at it, and though it flares strong, he keeps calm. He finalyl speaks again. “I do think it’s somethin’else.” He pauses. “I’m her soul mate. She said that.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The frown is much deeper now. “And you’re talking to me about who’s soul mate she is…why?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I want to challenge for her. When she’s ready. She wants me to.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Okay…” She furrows her brow. “Listen. I’m not Stefan’s biggest fan. I don’t really know the guy, but he creeps me out from the one or two times I’ve seen him. She did tell me that he was good to her and that he loved her, for what that’s worth, and that’s why I gave my permission for them to be mated. That being said…I’m not her Elder anymore. She got mated to him, and she’s a Shadow Lord now. I’m still her sister, and if there’s concern for Amy’s welfare, emotional or physical, I’m there. But I have nothing to say in who she’s mated to anymore. It’s Stefan’s, or it’s Lukas’ if you want to get the Tribal Elder involved.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I know.” He nods a little. “But you’re still her only family left.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I am.” She nods. “So I guess my question is…what are you asking of me?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I don’t know.” He frowns a little. “I just wanted to tell you. I guess. It seemed right.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I appreciate that.” She nods, putting up a little smile. “I’m sorry if I’m coming off as wary. People who have been around Amy before have tried to use me to get to her. Thanks for letting me know. I can’t do anything one way or the other, but I appreciate being kept in the loop. It seems like she keeps me out of it, these days.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I’m not tryin’ to do anything. If I wanted to I would have when she tried to…She tried to do something with me a while back and I said no.” He shrugs. “It just seemed right to tell her family. I don’t know why she doesn’t talk to you. She talks to me some but I don’t always get it, and she’s got a big secret she won’t tell anyone even me.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “You should know…the one time we did talk recently, we talked about you and Stefan. She said that you think she’s the same as when she left, which she really isn’t. And when I asked what she was going to do about the whole thing, she said that she loved Stefan and wasn’t going to leave him. This was, like, three days ago.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “She’s not the same but the same person is in there. I see it.” He shrugs again, then looks down. “She told me she wants to leave but he won’t let her.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well…that’s Amy.” She frowns. “Telling different stories to everyone.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I guess so.” He smiles a little, still looking down. “It don’t matter though. I’m not gonna leave her even if she stays with Stefan. ‘Cause the way I feel for her, it don’t matter if I’m with her like that.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks at him and smiles. “Man. I wish I had half of my sister’s appeal. I have no fucking clue how she does it.” A little shake of her head. “You seem like a good guy, Ox. I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told all of the guys in her life…if you ever hurt her, I’m-a kill you. Slowly. Litany or your superior fighting skills be damned…I have my ways. I don’t think that’s a worry. But I needed to say it.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He keeps that same small smile. “She’s just special. But you don’t have to worry. I would never hurt her. Thanks for your time, Sarita.” ((crashing!))

Premature Screaming

[Amunet Knezevic] “Okay. Then we need to get you a phone.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Okay? I don’t have any money.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “I told you. I’ll take care of you.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Mariposa…”

[Amunet Knezevic] “What? I want to take care of you. What’s wrong with that?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “You don’t have to buy me things. That’s not why I’m here.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “I want you to have a phone. That’s all. It’s not like I’m going out and buying you a ton of stuff”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “You don’t have to is all.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Come on, Bri. When have you ever know me to do anything because I had to.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “If you want to. It’s okay. I’ll find a job soon.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “I know. You can pay me back later if you want to, but you don’t have to. I just want you to have a phone.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I want to pay you back.” He nods. “D’you know any garages that are hiring?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “No. I’ll ask around though. That’s what you’re doing, huh? Working on cars?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He shrugs. “You know that’s what I’m good at.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “You’re good at lots of stuff.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He laughs. “Nuh uh.” He smiles at her. “You’re really nice to me.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “You’re my best friend. Of course I’m nice to you.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “You always have been.” He smiles at Amy and ruffles her hair.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The Strider makes her way down onto the pier, a cigarette pressed between her lips. She seems to be in a pretty good mood…she’s been busy lately, but you know what they say about idle hands. And this is one devil who doesn’t need a playground. She keeps an eye out as she moves along, slipping around people. Her Rage doesn’t tend to upset as much as it slightly unnerves, so she doesn’t quite clear crowds. Still, that way she moves, like she’s perpetually on the hunt for a playtoy, is back and in full force.

[Amunet Knezevic] Amy wanders down the pier, arm in arm with a very tall, very well built someone that is clearly not Stefan.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He’s huge, wearing a ball cap with the Superman logo on the front and a baseball shirt with the same logo today. He seems very much at ease with Amy.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She arches an eyebrow…it’s hard to miss the giant man and the smaller kin. She exhales her last drag, flicking the butt into a garbage can and nods as she approaches.

“This just about looks like casting for a new Odd Couple right here…” She grins at the two as she comes up.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He steps in front of Amy protectively.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Bri, it’s okay.” She puts her hand on his hip, peeking around the wall of a man. “Hey Sar.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins a little, amused as Ox steps in front of Amy. “Okay, I like this guy already Ames.” She looks him over and extends a hand. “Hola. I’m Sarita…Amy’s sister.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh.” He looks Sarita over, then breaks into a broad smile, shaking her hand. “I’m Ox.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She takes the giant hand, shaking it with a big smile herself. “Pleasure to mee–” She pauses. Looks at Amy. Blinks. Then looks back. Little cogs are clicking into place in her head.

“Wait a minute…”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Huh?” He looks confused. Pretty? Sort of. Big? Oh yes. Bright? Clearly not.

[Amunet Knezevic] She’s grinning like an absolute idiot, and nodding so hard that her head might fall off. “Yeah. THAT one.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] And back to Amy. “-Huh-?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Okay, so this deserves a story. Y’all gotta explain this to me, ’cause I know I’m not in a Marvel comic so resurrection ain’t a regular thing.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He looks back at Sarita. “It’s not really THAT common…”

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s not dead. He wasn’t there. And now he’s here.” She wraps her arms around Ox’s middle, squeezing and letting go.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well…awesome, then.” She grins widely, socking Ox’s shoulder lightly. “Look at you, all alive and shit. That’s bad-ass.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He grins at that. “I just heard that some people from back home were here in town.”

[Amunet Knezevic] Her head rests on his bicep, and she’s still beaming. “I just ran into him. Gaia brought him here to me”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Apparantly.” She smiles and nods. “Well, good to know. And I gotta say, I like this one already, Ames.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s pretty amazing, huh?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “When did you get into town?” He smiles at Amy.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “It was what…early January. Like, first week or something.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Seems like a lot longer.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “And you two met up?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh no…we met up like…little over a year ago. Short Round here tracked me down.” She gives Amy a wink.

“We been wandering ever since, till we came here.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh. Okay.” He pauses. “Short Round?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Hey, you’re not the only one that’s got a nickname for me”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Why Short Round?” He looks confused.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] ”cause she’s shorter than both of us here.” She shrugs. “It’s an Indiana Jones thing.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh. Okay. She is pretty short.” He looks amused now.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Only because you’re like, a million feet tall.” She makes a face at him, then looks back to Sarita.

“What have you been doing? I haven’t seen you in a while.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I’ve been busy. I’m all one of the bosses now and shit, remember?” She grins. “Been running around from place to place talking to peeps. And yes, it’s exceedingly weird that someone put me in charge, to answer the question before you ask.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “If I was a million feet tall I couldn’t breathe.” He gives Amy an odd look.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Oh yeah. Big boss bitch, too busy for the little people now.” She grins at Sarita, then looks at Ox and cracks up.

“Okay, yeah. Good point.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He looks genuinely mystified at Amy’s sudden laughter.

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s pretty fantastic, isn’t he?” Her arm links through Ox’s again.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey, I’m always available to chase your ass around. You just been all busy yourself, finding people who aren’t really dead and shit.”

She grins. “Yeah, he seems it.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Ramona is alive too.” He nods.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Awesome. Who’s she?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “A lady from home.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Shadow Lord kin.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ahh….good to know.” She nods. “Little creepy that everyone’s congregating here, but hey, s’all good. Gotta be someone up there’s sense o’ humor.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “It’s Gaia.”

[Amunet Knezevic] She beams at Ox, nodding. “It’s true. She totally sent you to me”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods and smiles at Amy.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Me, I’m putting my money on Owl. Don’t get me wrong, I know you ain’t one-a ours, but it’s all about the wandering and ending up in the right place.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods. “That could be. That would make sense.” He’s definitely pondering the idea.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Seriously. Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He looks back at Sarita again, brow furrowed. “What?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Woodsy Owl. Forest Service cartoon? You know, right there along Smokey the Bear?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] His blank look gives Sarita her answer.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “You know, I don’t know whether to feel old or just sit you down in front of a TV playing vintage Saturday morning cartoons.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I didn’t watch TV a lot.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “You watched TV at my house all the time.” She pokes his side.

[Skull-Like-Ox] “I wasn’t really watchin’ the TV.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Then what were you doing?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Watchin’ you.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smirks at that, letting them talk for now. It’s entertaining.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Oh.” She looks embarrassed, grinning and glancing at Sarita. “What the fuck is so funny?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Nothing.” She smiles innocently. “I’m always looking like that, you know that.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Bullshit.” She’s still grinning though. “We should get funnel cakes.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods. “Funnel cakes.” His tone is quite, quite serious.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey, I’m down with that. Funnel cakes it is.”

[Amunet Knezevic] And they’re off, in search of funnel cakes. Amy gets one with chocolate syrup, letting the others order before paying for all three.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He takes his cue from Amy, ordering the exact same thing. His eyes are enormous when he sees what he’s actually getting, like a big kid.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She goes simple…powdered sugar. Amy gets an appreciative smile and certainly no protest when she pays.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Haven’t you ever had one of these before, Bri?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Um. Maybe?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “They’re good. Just be careful because they go right to your ass. I mean, just look at Sar.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Blow me, bitch.” She smirks. “My ass is just perfect. Or so I keep getting told.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “How is College Boy?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “We haven’t hung out yet. Done some texting back and forth.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s cute.” She tears off a big piece of the funnel cake and stuffs it in her mouth.

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Who’s cute?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “This guy that Sar met when we were out here the other night”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Dorian. One of our kin.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Right. Doooooooooooorian.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Dorian? That’s a funny name.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s a funny kid”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “It’s not a bad name.” She shrugs. “Heard worse before.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “My name is Brian.” He nods.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Yeah, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue to scream it, does it?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He looks over at Amy, eyes huge again.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins. “I could practice it here and now if you’d like…”

She’s bluffing, right? She’s gotta be.

[Amunet Knezevic] “I dare you.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She raises an eyebrow, grinning. Oh dear. Amy just said the ‘D’ word.

“You sure? Don’t think you’re gonna be able to run away from this one. I will follow you.”

[cricket] [Oh COME ON, you’re just ASKING for it. ]

[Amunet Knezevic] “No you won’t, because you won’t do it.”

(Come iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[EVIL! CONSPIRATORS! Amy’s setting her up! ūüėÄ ]]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “When have I ever turned down a dare, Amy?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Never.” She smiles sweetly. “Until now.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He’s just absently looking between the two, working on his funnel cake.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh, oh poor, silly, naive Amy…” She grins and walks over to Amy, slipping her arm around her sister’s shoulder. “Or should I say…

“Oh, Dorian…DORIAN…DORIAN…” She’s not screaming yet, but she’s working up to it to be sure.

[Amunet Knezevic] She cracks up, leaning into Sarita. “Jes√ļs Cristo que est√°s loca”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nearly chokes on a bite of funnel cake.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She cracks up herself, cackling. “You just KNOW that I’m not gonna turn down ANY damn dare, Amy.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “That was hardly screaming. You totally pussed out.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She raises an eyebrow. “What, you really want me to give the big guy a heart attack?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] His face is practically glowing red. He is currently VERY interested in his funnel cake.

[Dorian Del Maro] Everyone knows that the minute you do something that might just possibly embarrass yourself should certain individuals be present — they’re going to turn up as being such. So, you know, that’s no exception tonight. Although unlike the former occasion they met, Dorian Del Maro isn’t alone tonight.

He’s hanging with a group of friends, two of them jostling into position in front of one of those old school shooting gallery games. You know the sort that fired darts, you hit a certain number, win yourself a gigantic stuffed bear — everyone needed giant stuffed bears in their lives, according to Navy Pier’s amusements. Of course, it’s not Dorian himself who first catches sight (and sound) of the crying of his name, it’s his room-mate on campus.

A short freckled Science Major, Stuart had lucked out in scoring a room-mate like Dorian. The Strider Kinsman was confident, funny, charismatic to the nth degree. Pretty well the exact polar opposite of the red head who had been on the receiving end of peer torment in high school. Dorian, lining the plastic gun to eye height found himself being elbowed.

His dart shot off sideways and nearly extinguished the attendant’s eye.

Oh, Dorian!

“Stuart, what–”
“Dud shot! Does the gentleman want to try his luck again! Shooter needs to find his mark!”
“D, that girl is shouting your name. Man, she’s hot.”

Dorian, distracted by the cat-calls of the man helming the game held up the plastic pistol. “I’ll get it this time.”

DORIAN! DORIAN

Stuart was staring, Dorian fired and missed, turning and glancing over a shoulder. His eyebrows rose.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Per+Alert: Do I see the subject of my impending embarassment?]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 4, 5, 7, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Amunet Knezevic] “Bri? He’s fine. Aren’t you, baby?” She nudges Ox.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods, mouth full. “Mmmfmm.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] It’s that momentary pause when Amy calls Ox ‘Baby’ that saves her from further embarrassment. She looks over at the two, curious now, and then has that feeling like she’s being watched. You ever have the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Well, hers are currently trying to hide themselves, because they’re the Gaia-damned early defense warning system so they see what’s coming first. Sarita glances around and it takes her a moment, but her eyes light on the other Strider kin at the plastic dart game.

Her eyes widen, but to her credit, she only looks stunned and mortified for one moment. And even then, she’s grinning. After that, she busts up laughing. Laughter makes the world go around, and sometimes it hides embarrassment.

“Oh, yeah,” she says between breaths. “…that makes sense…”

[Skull-Like-Ox] Back to Amy, brow furrowed, mouth still full. “Whsssfmmnn?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “What makes sense?” She tears her attention from Ox to look at Sarita again, confused now.

[Dorian Del Maro] [Per + Alert, do I notice you noticing that I’ve noticed you, and if so, what else can I see?]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 5, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Dorian Del Maro] [I SEE ALL THINGS.]

[Amunet Knezevic] (He can like, tell what colour underwear everyone is wearing with that roll.)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [{Sarita doesn’t wear any, so HAH!

…oh hell.]]

[Dorian Del Maro] “Here, take over for me.”

Dorian hands his gun over to the redhead beside him, now smirking as he notes the recognition that flits across Dorian’s face, followed rather promptly by a ghosting smile. “Go get her, tiger!” Dorian turned and grimace-smiled at his friend, the others were peering in the Garou and Kin’s direction curiously.

“Never say that aloud again.”

Hands in pockets, dressed in his typically immaculate [see: slightly rumpled collared shirt paired with jeans and sneakers] manner, the young man that crosses the crowds toward Sarita was neither smirking with evidenced delight or blushing as red as the one seated beside her — he seemed, somewhat disconcertingly, to be rather nonplussed about what he’d heard coming from this direction.

Dark hair curled over his brow and while product had been applied to it at some stage to keep it in check, curls were loosened by the night and breeze; his jaw was touched with the need to shave at some point and his eyes were intent; dark and thoughtful on the trio as he stops beside them.

A hand emerges.

“So, I might be pushing the limits of imagination here but my friend swears he heard my name being called.” Dorian’s eyes shifted between them all, returning to Sarita. The way he looked at her told her he knew exactly how accurate his words were, and more. He seemed to have an uncanny knack, this guy, for pinpointing things.

“Spare me embarrassment and act like it was anyway.”

[Amunet Knezevic] She cracks up again, entirely too amused that Dorian witnessed the display. Feeling wickedly smug, she leans into Ox a bit and picks at her funnel cake.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He puts a massive arm around Amy again, protectively, as Dorian approaches. “Who are you?” Yeah. He apparently didn’t get it.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Her laughter has calmed down by the time he gets over, and she’s shaking her head. “I…~totally~ didn’t know you were around. My evil sister here…oh. Ox, this is Dorian. Dorian, this is Ox.”

She gestures from to each both times that their names are mentioned, making introduction.

“Sorry. Anyway, my evil sister here prayed upon my well-known to her inability to turn down a dare, ~after~ she brought your name up AND set up the joke.” A pause. “The calling…well. That was all me, I admit.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “I told her your name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue when screaming it”

Always helpful, our Amy.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I made no reference to such potential screaming before this, it must be said.” Yeah, she cut that in there quickly. Though she’s still got the hint of a chuckle remaining to her.

[Dorian Del Maro] Dorian didn’t exactly give off the threatening vibe, truth was, a man built like his namesake, Ox, could very likely crush him or fling the Strider across the pier length should he choose to. For all that, though, Dorian doesn’t seem cowed. Of course, he doesn’t exactly offer a hand out and stammer about his bloodline, either.

Sarita gets there first, he opens his mouth, draws in a breath and then says nothing until —

Your name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue when screaming it

There went the eyebrows again, rising. “You know I’ve heard that, really kills the mood too.” A beat, his smile warms up his face; amusement notching in his throat. “Though I figured maybe we’d start with coffee before proceeding to the name screaming.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “He’s that guy?” The big man looks between Sarita and Amy, brow furrowed.

[Amunet Knezevic] “He’s that guy.” She nods, offering the rest of her funnel cake to Ox.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He nods, taking it from Amy carefully. It’s rather impressive how quickly he puts it away.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ahh, I see. You’re a traditionalist when it comes to name screaming.” She grins and nods, giving Amy a quick look, then back. “I can get that. We still gotta do the coffee thing anyway, so that order makes more sense anyway.”

[Dorian Del Maro] “I’m … that guy.” Dorian echoes both, managing to seem only moderately amused. His eyes venture to Sarita. “Was there a community memo about me being that guy? Should I maybe get it inscribed right here?” He raises his hands, framing a nametag on his right side over his shoulder.

There’s a smile, over his shoulder, the Strider Kinfolk’s friends were jostling one another. Calling out.

“Give him your number!”
“What’s your friend’s name?”
Oh, Dorian!

Dorian blinked slowly, determinedly ignoring them. “Yeah, we do. I got class tomorrow but I’m free later on. I’ll call you.”‘

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Are you guys dating?” He looks between Dorian and Sarita.

[Dorian Del Maro] “Well, I was going to ask her to go steady but the surprise is gone.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He blinks at Dorian. The joke apparently goes sailing over his head. “Huh?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well hell. So much for that.” An overdramatic sigh follows. “What could have been…”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well hell. So much for that.” An overdramatic sigh follows. “What could have been…”

[Dorian Del Maro] Dorian is still smiling, hands tucked in pockets. He feigns a concerned frown. “Don’t worry, we’ll always have our memories of the time we spent together, bonding, growing close.”

He turns, over his shoulder his friends are shifting their weight, gesturing at him either to hurry up, or get on with things and the college boy turns back, grinning. “I need to go calm the villagers, but I actually will call about catching up. You can fill me in on all the other things people tell you about me. I hear my ass is quite the talk of the campus.”

He half turns, nodding at Ox and Amy.

“You can take note as I go, I’ll quiz you later on it.” He’s just cocky, isn’t he — well, not exactly. There’s a general sense of acknowledged silliness edging in there in his voice; he’s playing the fool and knows it. There’s little malice to what he says.

[Skull-Like-Ox] He’s COMPLETELY lost now. “Bye?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins and nods. “I’ll take good notes then. Catch you later, Dorian.” She watches him go, then looks back at Ox.

“Just a little banter and joking around with each other, big guy.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Okay.” He nods at Sarita, completely trusting, but obviously still befuddled.

[Amunet Knezevic] “You totally need to do that, Sar. Like, for serious. You’re just damned lucky that I’m unavailable now.” She watches Dorian go, then looks back to Sarita.

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Do what?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Him.” She gestures in the vague direction that Dorian went.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey, hey. I don’t just jump guys outta nowhere…or at least, I haven’t since, like, Houston.” A little shrug. “We’ll see how coffee goes.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “And yet, you bitch about how you don’t get laid. Are you seeing a connection there somewhere?”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh.” His face goes a little red, and he looks back at Amy. “She’s not mated or datin’ somebody. Why would she do that?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Okay, you’re looking at the trees and not the forest. As in, The Northern Not-Getting-Any-Wood which are located within the Looking For Something More than One Night Stands Forest.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Nothing wrong with a one night stand.”

And then she remembers who she’s standing next to. “You know. From what I’ve heard.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] He looks over at Amy, frowning. “But you’ve only…You know…That…With two people.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Awkward.

She lets Amy answer that, keeping her mouth DAMN WELL SHUT.

[Amunet Knezevic] Her eyes get HUGE. “I. Um. Corn dogs. We should get corn dogs.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] “…Right?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Right.” She’s so going to hell.

[Skull-Like-Ox] His brow furrows, and he looks over at Sarita.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Holy shit, would you look at the time?” She’s checking her watch by the time he looks at her. “I have to meet with some folks about that construction shit at the Brotherhood. An Elder’s work is never done and all that.”

[Skull-Like-Ox] His head swings back to Amy. “Mariposa…?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Yeah. I’ll talk to you later, hey?” She steps forward to hug Sarita, not looking at Ox. “Call me and we’ll go out or something.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hell to the yeah.” She hugs Amy back, then smiles at Ox. “Nice meeting you, Ox. Oh…you should stop by the Church Cabrini. Last Watch. Your family elder’s there…Kora. There, I’ve done my job and been all official.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[the Church ~in~ Cabrini.]]

[Skull-Like-Ox] “Oh. Okay.” His brow is still furrowed. “Thank you Sarita.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “I’ll show you where it is.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “You bet. If Amy doesn’t know the way have her give me a call, I’ll give you directions.” She smiles to both of them and does a little salute before she starts to head off. “Hasta manana.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Delete that second sentence!]]

[Dorian Del Maro] [*sneaks off* thanks for letting me cameo! ūüôā ]

[Amunet Knezevic] “Night, Sar.”

And now there’s nowhere to hide.

Getting Up To Speed On The Black Sun Sitch

[Roman Turner] When the door was pulled open in response to the knock, it was Roman himself that opened it. Polite, believe it or not, when not acting his Moon, Roman was a polite person.

“Well howdy, what can I do ya for?”

He stepped back to wave Sarita in to the vast expanse of the church they called Pack House. Inside the surviving pews had been pushed to one side. A fire crackled in an old hearth on the other. Tables and chairs were strewn about, with most surfaces covered in carry out food boxes.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey there, you.” She smiles when she walks in. She’s never actually met Roman before. They were present at the moot together, and at Joey’s Ragabash meeting, but they didn’t interact at either and not much was said by either of them at either meeting. Still, she refers to him as if they do know each other. She steps inside, looking around.

“I love the packhouse motif. Nicely done.” And then a look back at the Gaian. “How are you, Roman?”

[Roman Turner] Paint spatters decorated the old gray tee that also bore a few holes where it stretched across his shoulders, showing the bones beneath. Dark mottled flesh rose up from the neck of that tee like fingers reaching for his jaw where the scar tissue reformed once smooth flesh. Grease, paint and lord knows what was smeared across the thighs and seat of the carpenter jeans he wore. There was even a hammer in the loop on the jeans.

“Me? I’m well and good.”

His puzzled gaze flashed towards Sarita’s face with the question as he shot the instant response out. Not many bothered to ask how he was. Those gray-blue eyes of his rest on Sarita for several moments even as he followed polite rules.

“How are you? And congrads on what I hope ain’t a pain for ya.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I’m good, I’m good.” She smiles, finding his puzzled expression a bit amusing. “And thanks. I’m hoping that too, though I’m not expecting to be quite that lucky. You know what we’re all like. But I like a challenge.” Obviously, she includes herself in ‘us,’ and the comment is a good-natured one.

“That’s actually why I came here. Wanted to touch base with you, both just checking up in a general way and in a more specific way regarding the Brotherhood construction hijinks.”

[Roman Turner] “Hijinks?”

One dark brown brow rose. This was one of those odd situations. He was younger, yet a Fostern. Sarita was now the representative for the Ragabash in the city, acting as organizer and counsel to the Sept Leader in time of need. So it was with those big ole faded denim eyes of his that he gave Sarita his most innocent, puzzled look.

“Since word came down not to mess with them, all we been doing is watching. Gave this report at the meeting Imogen held the other night with all them folk there. So far we seen lots of protesting and yelling between the protesters and workers. Seen some of them Italian looking sorts sneak in during the middle of the night to steal their own supplies. Seen them same sort screaming about robbery the next morning. I think they are trying to stir up more crap between their workers and the protesters. I also think with them calling and reporting the theft, they are making money off the insurance company and then selling their stolen goods right back to their own company.”

[Roman Turner] ((Hey, my AIM is Bluwyng))
to Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods, listening. The Strider leans back against the wall as she does so. She’s not making aggressive or territorial motions as the conversation about the Brotherhood goes on. She’s not giving any body language indications, at the moment at least, like she’s trying to pull rank. She’s just absorbing all the information and processing it.

“That’s slick of them.” She smiles a bit and nods. “I’ll give ’em credit, it makes our supporters look like shit. Anything else that you’ve noticed?”

[Roman Turner] “Nah, mostly we watch them work. Been doing it in shifts between some of us. Then we compare notes. Staying out of sight and mind. Now, the theurges done took a look across the gauntlet and mostly just seen some of the strife spirits and such are starting to take notice and come closer. But ya might want to talk to them about what they seen. They gave a report at that meeting too.”

He waved to the pews.

“Want to take a load off?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Don’t mind if I do.” She grins and moves to take a seat.

“Man…last time I sat on one-a these, I was worried that the skin on the backs of my legs were gonna start burning and bubbling off.” A chuckle. “What I’m sayin’ is…it’s been a while.”

She leans back, nodding to Roman. “Okay. So do you have any thoughts on what the next step should be?”

[Roman Turner] “I think we should keep watching. If a truck turns up in the middle of the night to steal from them, then we need to get the license if we can.”

He walked towards the corner, lifting the lid on a cooler.

“Want a beer or pop?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Beer’d be great, thanks.” She leans back, nodding. She’s thoughtful for a moment.

“Licenses would be good. It’d be something we could give to Izzy or Derek, have then run the plates. Though if it’s the mob like I’ve been told, then the cops will only be able to do so much. How many people do you have working it?”

[Roman Turner] “Five volunteers.”

He came back with two beers, offering a bottle to Sarita. Water dripped from the brown glass, a chip of ice falling off.

“I asked them I seen and them that was staying at the Brotherhood and got five volunteers. Otherwise we would be standing around ignoring the Elephant in the room, ya know?”

He settled on the back of the pew. The beer hissed as he twisted off the lid.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “No, totally. The initiative is good, and I’m glad you stepped up and got on it.” She nods popping the top of hers. “All I’d like to do is get everyone on the same page, get you some more people so that each of you aren’t spending hours a day keeping an eye out. If you give me a list, I’ll get the word out to the rest of the No-Moons, see who else we can get in the rotation.”

[Roman Turner] “Well, I ain’t entirely sure who is out there anymore. This Sept has a revolving door, ya know? But them that was helping are me, Michael, Melody, Janis, Milo and Marni.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he took a swallow of his drink. Dragging the back of his sleeve across his mouth he continued.

“I’m sure ya know more of us than I do and ya might want to talk to them Theurges”

And then it was like a light bulb went off in his head.

“Oh man, I just remembered something.”

[Roman Turner] “Michael, he said he saw two men meeting just outside the fence while he was watching. He caught a few words, like Stooge, low risk and informant and take down. Dang, I forgot all about that the other night at that there meeting.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She frowns at that. “How long ago was that?”

[Roman Turner] “Hmm, day before Doctor Slaughter’s get together I think? Ain’t seen nothing of note since then. Though we’re still hiding and lurking around the place.”

Another drink and a nod, his own brows furrowed together thoughtfully.

“No, it was the same day of the meeting.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She thinks. Four days…crap. “I need to get that to Derek or Izzy. If that’s a police informant within the mob, they could be our best friend…or, conceivably, a major snag. And it could get ugly if a police informant gets taken down right outside the Brotherhood.”

[Roman Turner] “We ain’t been tailing no one what comes to the site, so I can’t tell ya. Not been doing nothing but watching since word came down to sit on our hands, ya know?”

Rubbing his nose, he thought for a moment.

“I reckon it could mean a police informant, but who knows for sure? Maybe like ya said, Izzy or Derek might have some idea.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Yeah. When I think the mob and I think informants, that’s what comes to mind for me, but it could be someone else I suppose.”

She sighs. “I guess for the moment it’s business as usual. See, if possible, if you can get any photo evidence of them stealing their own supplies without giving yourself away. We may not want to use it, but it’s better to have and not need then need and not have, you know? We might be able to give that to the right people to counteract what they’re doing, should the need come about.”

[Roman Turner] “Well, not so sure about getting away with a picture, though we can try. And might be we could follow any interesting lead to a vehicle and get the plate numbers at the very least. Though them pictures would be great proof if we don’t have to say who got em.”

He grinned, tipping the bottle back again.

“I’ll spread the word, unless ya want to take over or join in?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “That was my thought.” She smiles. “Leaking them anonymously or something if we need to. But again, only if we need to. No need to kick up a hornet’s nest if we don’t gotta.

“I might join in. It’s a Sept-concerning issue, we definitely need to keep everyone aware of what’s going on. I’m still sort of taking stock of stuff, getting the lay of the land. Lemme get back to you on that one. Right now I’m more wanting to get the information flow going more freely.”

[Roman Turner] “Alrighty.”

His weight shifted on the bench, thumping the hammer’s handle against the back of the pew.

“Ya got a fine line to walk now. A line between trying to earn the trust of a bunch of New Moons who rather shake things up. And them what take themselves too serious sometimes.”

A grin teased his lips for a moment.

“Better you than me. I’m more for doing than talking about it in some meetin.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She chuckles. “Yeah, believe me, I didn’t get into this for the easy ride.” She gives a wink. “I know it’s gonna be a tricky gig, but someone’s gotta do it, right? Like I said though, I appreciate you taking charge on this whole thing.”

A pause. “Did Michael perchance give you any details on what these guys talking about informants and such looked like?”

[Roman Turner] He considered her a long moment then softly said.

“That’s not why ya challenged. Not because someone’s gotta do it.”

And just like that he switched with a shake of his head, his voice once more it’s normal conversational tone.

“Nope, not sure he got a good look at them. But ya might jar his memory a little more if ya talk to him. I can ask him, if ya don’t want to.”

“Ya hungry? Got some chips if ya want.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She furrows her brow, still smiling…though more curiously now. “Yeah…actually, it was. That and the fact that I thought I could do the job justice.”

A little shrug, and she nods. “I can talk to him, no worries. And no, no thank you. I’m good.”

[Roman Turner] “Nah, ya did it for the second part. Cause ya know, this Sept is unique, this seat is unique. It’s mostly an honorary thing, not depending on rank or standing, but the will to help when asked and to try and organize others when the need arises. The real reason ya stepped up for it now, rather than wait for the moot, was because ya thought ya could do it. Be honest with yourself, never do something just because someone’s gotta do it. Do it because your heart speaks to ya. Because your heart tells ya this is what ya can do. That way it’s not a job, it’s more something your soul can take pride in. Ya know?”

He winked and slid from the pew to walk over to one of the tables where he snatched up a bag of chips with a loud crinkling rattle of the bag.

“Sure ya don’t want some of these? French Onion, Sour Cream.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She watches him, listening. There’s a little smile on her face. She’s not angry at the implications at all. “Well…honestly, the only reason I didn’t wait was because I didn’t think we could afford to. We need someone heading up the scouting with a Hive at our door. You’re right though, that I stepped up because I thought I could, and that it felt lie something I could feel confident doing. The kicker was the need, and I guess they were both pretty equal reason.”

She’s appreciative of the way he lays it out. It’s exactly what a Ragabash should do. “I’m sure. You don’t wanna know what kind of gastrointestinal Olympics those cause in me. But thank you.”

[Roman Turner] He slapped his knew, laughing.

“Well now, ya gotta remember, I’m a guy and we live for ways to regal each other with just how nasty, how stankin, and how loud and long our farts are.”

[Roman Turner] His knew=his knee (this boy’s brain is on shutdown, sorry)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She laughs at that. “Yeah, I know. Still…I should get going. Lemme give you my number, though. You need anything, gimme a call. I wanna make all the No-Moon’s jobs as easy as I can.”

She reaches in and grabs a piece of paper, pre-scribbled, and hands it over.

[Roman Turner] He did better, he pulled his phone out and programmed her in right away. Even offering his number for her phone.

“Who ya packing with?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I’m packed up with the Unbroken.” She pulls out her phone and types hers in as well. “If you ever need to find me, you can come by Bellemonte Loft, and worst comes to worst leave a message.”

[Roman Turner] “I’ll call if anything ever becomes that important.”

He rose with a smile to take her bottle and walk her to the door.

“Nice to sort of meet ya Sarita. Just use your smarts, don’t aim to impress and ya’ll do fine.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “That’s the plan.” She grins and heads along. “Catch you later, man.”

And with that, she’s out. [[Exeunt!]]

Meeting Melody and Ivan

[Melody Drake] Lukas suggested she make herself known to Sarita, so she is making herself known to Sarita. A little communication leads her to the loft where the Ragabash Elder usually stays. She’s dressed in a grey suit today, feminine, her hair wound at the base of her neck. Immaculate, since she has no idea what Sarita is like, and one should always make a good impression.

Adjusting her purse over one shoulder and tucking her phone away, she heads up and rings the door, clasping her hands politely in front of her as she waits.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] After returning from her Auspice challenge Friday morning, Sarita spent a good part of Friday just sleeping. It was a long, grueling test and she had barely been able to make it to her bedroom before passing out. The weekend was taken to recuperate–and meet a new kinfolk to her tribe in the city–until today.

Today, she’s been very in and out. Her rest accomplished, the Strider is now in work-mode. And while it may surprise some, she’s been very industrious, making phone calls and running in and out to check on various things. The always-joking Ragabash is taking her role seriously, it would seem. She’s in at the moment, taking a little bit of time from her running around and networking to relax. Which means that she’s out in the garage, working on her Bus. Working on her vehicle is a calming thing for her.

Her head pokes up when she hears the knock, and she rolls out from under the van, wiping her hands on a rag.

Melody finds Lucille opening the door. The stout, mature Hispanic woman lets Melody in, telling her that Miss Katherine and Mister Lukas are unavailable, but Miss Sarita is in the garage if that is who she is looking for. Well…until that moment, as Sarita is just walking in while Lucille explains such.

[Carter Roth] Life in the Loft, or as Carter preferred to refer to it privately, the gilded cage, was a life of routine for the wayward kin. He would wake, swim, exercise and go to work. He had just returned from the lab infact, returned from the job that did not suit the look of the man but none the less he held too it, pushed on, it was really his style after all.

His time at the loft had not been an entire loss though, Sarita could attest to that, when he had first arrived Carter had been mean, twitchy, vulgar and outright aggressive one might have compared him to a wild dog, the cunning nasty type that you didn’t want to turn your back on. But in the weeks he had been there, he had softened, certainly not the point where he was friendly and joking with all the big furballs, but he gave them a grudging respect, conversed without being cornered, and even partook in meals and any cleaning that might be necessary.

Infact that was what he was doing now, in his old ratty leather jacket, made of far to many patches of leather. He was taking the garbage out, doing the old maid a bit of a favour it seemed. He was out the side when he heard the doorbell ring, and his eyes narrowed as he wondered who was here now, as he stepped back in through the side entrance and slowly made his way towards the front door.

[Melody Drake] “Yes, that’s who I’m looking for actually,” she answers Lucille quietly, thanking her for letting her in. her eyes drift though when Sarita walks in, her head inclining ever so faint. “Miss Ecos de la Risa, I presume?”

The name isn’t lost on her, not at all. But as of now, it’s a last name, and unless Sarita indicates otherwise, she’ll keep calling her that. She’s not been entirely invited in yet, so she remains in the entryway, amber eyes focused on the Strider.

[Daoi Gladecu] *Daoi came. She had not visited her employee in his new inviornment. And was suitably impressed when she left her car and limp her way over the pavement. In one hand was a black cain with a gold wolf’s head on it. She used it to balance out the face that one of her legs didn’t work to well. On that same hand was a large gold ring with another head of a wolf, two twisted tounge came out , above which two yellow topaz eyes watched accusingly.

She was dressed in black slacks and lofters, under her sturdy peacoat was a white pressed sure. Everything she wore was pratical and of good quality. Dark grey eyes watched the place. Scaring along one side of her face pulled a little bit as she turned her head. The scaring looked like claw marks to those who knew what to look for. It broke an eyebrow into two and made an eyelid sag. She limped up to the front door and perceeded to knock*

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s just coming around the corner when Melody mentions her name to Lucille, and she grins when Melody addresses her. The Strider is in a black tank-top, with a couple of spots from oil on it and a pair of jeans. She’s always careful not to leave any mess around–the last thing she needs is Katherine freaking out on her–but you can’t do a little work without getting dirty.

“Oh god, please…it’s Sarita. Miss Ecos de la Risa makes me sound like a Spanish teacher in San Antonio or some shit.” She looks Carter’s way, giving him a smile and nod, then looks back to Melody and extends her hand. “I’m Sarita, yeah. Nice to meet you.”

She looks at the door when the knock is heard, and she waves Lucille off. She can answer a door right in front of her, she says to the woman in their native language. Lucille rolls her eyes and heads back further into the house as Sarita heads to the door with an “excuse me,” to Melody. The door is opened for Daoi.

[Carter Roth] As was so often the case, Carter tended to stay in the distance, stay at the edge of the room when the Garou congregated, it was his way of feeling out what was going on, he very rarely asked if he could join, instead waiting for someone to call him over, or to feel it was right. It wasn’t timidity, it was simply wariness of the creatures he lived with.

He did however nod in return to Sarita as she acknowledge him, and he took a moment to lean against the wall and watch the new comer for a few long moments.

[Daoi Gladecu] *The door was opened and Daoi looked at Sarita and Melody in a bit of supprise as the rage from the two billowed out.*

Ah thank you ma’am, I’m looking for Mr. Roth?

*She sais her head tilted to the side and her good brow up. Her voice was light and polite with just a bit of a Slavic accent*

[Melody Drake] “Melody Drake,” she answers, taking Sarita’s hand with a faint smile. “I’ll make sure to stick to Sarita then, it’s nice to meet you as well. Lukas-rhya said I should make myself known to you.”

Amber eyes looked over at Carter when he came into her field of vision, scrutinizing if only for a moment. Then there is a nod, an acknowledgement, before she looks to whomever Sarita let in. She takes in Daoi as well, staying quietly out of the way for the moment. Truthfully, while there’s Rage from her… there’s not all that much of it.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey…yeah, come on in. I’m Sarita.” She doesn’t know Doai, but the woman’s Shadow Lord breeding speaks plainly to the Strider, and she smiles as she steps aside to let her in. “Hey Carter, you got a guest.”

Once Daoi’s passed by, she smiles to Melody. “Lukas said you should say hi…I’m gonna guess that’s cause you’re along my particular moon phase lines?”

[Carter Roth] Melody scrutinized him, and Carter scrutinzed her back. Perhaps it was a mutual thing, maybe…maybe they thought of each other as predators, or perhaps they were just unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting trying to understand each other.

Carter of course sang with the feeling of thunder in him, Melody could feel it, Sarita could as well, but it was to Melody that it really called, really struck a blow in deep personal places. Of dark mountain tops and storms that spoke to the primal side of the trueborn.

Carter is polite, and he returns the nod, but his attention is drawn away as Daoi makes her appearance and Sarita tells him that he has a guest. “Good eye Sarita.” He says with a droll tone as he stepped closer and nodded to Daoi.

“Hey Doc, whats brings you by?”

[Daoi Gladecu] Daoi Gladecu…thank you agian.

*she says to Sarita as she walks in and limps past her to Carter*

I got bord, though I would come and see your cage.

*she gives him a half smile. House is quiet without you cursing the air blue.

[Melody Drake] … it seems there were a lot of Thunder’s Children here in the city.

There is, perhaps, a small shift when Carter’s breeding becomes readily apparent, that kind of call she’s still not used to. She wonders, briefly, if that was what she used to do back in Seattle and then dismisses the thought; she doesn’t have time for it. Briefly, she watches the kin interact, eyes narrowing at Carter’s statement to Sarita and Daoi’s talk of a cage, but she has business to attend.

Snapping her gaze back to Sarita, she smiles faintly again. “Correct. To be specific, Cliath Shadow Lord Ragabash, also known as Sweet Whispers.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The comment from Carter rolls right off her back. If anything, she takes it as teasing. Of course, with Carter it could be more, but Sarita’s been very good–as she usually is–about no-selling any potential barbs. She gives the man a grin and a wink, then looks back over to Melody, taking in her name, her rank, and such. There’s a little nod.

“Nice to meet you, Melody. “arita Echos-of-Laughter. Cliath No-Moon of Owl’s brood, Unbrokenite, and Silent Strider and Ragabash Elder in the city.” She smiles. “C’mon, let’s get out of the doorway. Anyone want a drink?”

It’s directed to Carter and Daoi as much as it is Melody, as she makes her way toward the kitchen.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Add an S in there as appropriate. ūüėõ ]]

[Melody Drake] “Water would be welcome.” She murmurs to Sarita, following her out of the entry way, eyes flicking around the loft curiously.

[Daoi Gladecu] ((Hey all just got a call from work, i gotta go, sorry!! Just say Daoi got a phone call and had to runish))

[Carter Roth] “We still have that whiskey hanging around.” Carter asks as he looks at Sarita with a questioning but guarded look. He then returned his gaze to the Doc and grinned rakishly at her.

“Well ain’t that sweet of you Doc taking time out of your busy free to go anywhere schedule to see the locationally challenged.” He said with a light laugh. “Besides, i think I was killing the refinement of your place with all my swearing.”

He actually moved to follow along behind the garou. It was then that Daoi got her call and Carter waved her off. “Thanks for stoppin by Doc.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “One water, one whiskey.” She waves to Daoi when she has to run off, and goes to get the drinks. For her part, she makes a mixed drink and brings the other two’s drinks out to them in the living room. “Just arrived in the city then?” she says to Melody as she takes a seat.

[Melody Drake] There is a murmured thank you to Sarita at the water, and she sits down after the other woman has. “Yes. I’ve been here about a week now.”

[Carter Roth] Carter for himself seems to consider what to do. He could go off on his own, do some more exercises. Or he could hang around the pair of garou who were surely going to talk business and ignore him for the most part. Amazingly, perhaps in particular for Sarita, Carter sticks around, finding himself a chair that gives him distance between Melody and Sarita, but sit he does, taking a drink of his Whiskey.

[Carter Roth] Carter also accepted the drink with a nod and a gravelly thank you. [just so you know.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh, a week? Hell, you’re practically a veteran, chica.” She says it with a grin. “Seriously though, it’s a young sept still, very up-and-coming kind of place. So you’ll be considered old hat in no time. My sister and I got here in the beginning of the year and…”

She pauses, then shrugs. “Well, it’s been an eventful 2011. Carter is one of your tribe’s kinfolk,” she said, switching the subject and nodding at him. “You’re involved in the whole alliance thing Ames is working on, right?”

[Melody Drake] Her eyes slip to Carter, nodding faintly. “… I can tell. And Stefan mentioned a kinfolk alliance, that his mate… Amunet? Was involved in.”

She makes no effort to hide the approval in her voice. Kin taking the initiative? Absolutely a wonderful thing, and she agrees whole completely. Even better that one of her own is involved in it.

[Carter Roth] Carter looked between the two of the garou and then nodded as he let the whiskey roll around in its tumbler. “Just so you know, thats one in the same person.” He said in that gravelly voice before nodding.

“Yeah I am…I’m currently…well, I was planning the paramilitary and physical training of the kin involved. Until well…I was told to stay here.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Yep, that’s my sis. Gloriously awesome and aggravating handful that she is.” She says it fondly. There’s no other way to say such a thing. She looks back at Melody.

“Did you come by yourself, or bring a pack along for the ride?”

[Melody Drake] “Noted,” she says to Carter, her gaze intensely curious as he says he has to stay here, but she doesn’t ask why. Even if it kills her, because it’s in her nature to ask. There is a flicker of a smile though as Sarita explains her sister and a small nod, accepting the information.

As Sarita asks about a pack though, she shakes her head. “No, I came alone, though I’ve already found a pack here, something I’m grateful for.”

[Carter Roth] Carter reclines back into the chair and put his glass up on the armrest as the pair of women talked. Melody simply said noted, which got a slight creasing of Carter’s eyes, perhaps an annoyed look, something that didn’t quite sit right but he took a deep breath and it rolled off him like water.

They speak of packs, of things that Carter has no business in, and he simply tries to relax in the presence of their rage, taking a sip from his glass as he reached up into the dreadlocks on his head and scratched an itch.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh yeah?” She smiles. “Good to hear. You’re getting settled in, then…very cool. Getting the lay of the land too?”

[Melody Drake] A pause, and then a wry smile. “Slowly. Chicago and Seattle aren’t very similar and I find myself relying on GPS a little more often then I like. Someone told me I had to get lost in the city to actually learn anything.”

[Carter Roth] Carter smirks at their conversation, ahhh the mighty garou reduced to using a GPS system. In his days before the loft he might have said something openly insulting to the pair something deriding their natures and questioning their capabilities.

“Getting lost is the best way to get found. At least in the city.” He said with a shrug in an offhanded manner. Man how times had changed.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins. “I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I came in and just straight started wandering in my van. Always seems to be the best way to learn the layout.”

She lets that lie there, moving on. “So, you’re gonna have to forgive me. I’ve been Auspice Elder for all of about four days so I’m still getting shit organized a little bit. But it would be good to know what all you have experience with, where I might be able to call on you if I need to for the Sept.”

[Melody Drake] “That’s three votes for that method now,” she says, glancing at Carter with an amused look. “Perhaps I’ll have to try it then. Have you been in Chicago long, Mr. Roth?”

Her gaze turns serious though again, as Sarita asks her what she can do. “I have familiarity with the law and politics, and I currently rent and buy properties in Chicago so if someone needs a place to stay, I’m more then willing. I’m very good at speaking to people and gathering information that way, and I currently speak four languages besides English if that’s ever needed as well.” A pause. “I’m also passingly familiar with mental illness healthcare.”

A tap of her fingers on her glass, before she continues. “I don’t know if this has bearing, but I feel it’s relevant. I was kin for twenty four years, and believed to be kin all my life, until my more recent change. It gives me a unique perspective at times.”

[Carter Roth] Carter had been sipping casually on his whiskey, not wanting to have to get up it seems to go fetch another. He looked at the glass with a slightly displeased look, apparently he should have asked for the bottle to come along.

Melody asks him a question and Carter shrugged. “Maybe three months now?” He says, musing to himself over the timeline. “Yeah, three months seems about right.”

But then Melody drops a bombshell, something Carter had never heard of before, something he could never have even imagined. Melody HAD been kin, and Carters eyes almost bulge wide, and he actually chokes on his whiskey for a moment or two before coughing to clear his throat.

“Excuse me, the hell did you just say? How the hell is that even possible?”

[Melody Drake] Carter’s sudden exclimation actually startles her, just briefly, and her hands tighten on her glass for a moment before she arches an eyebrow. “Your guess is as good as mine. My twin brother changed ten years before me, and we went through much of the same life events up until that point. I was twenty four years old when I had my first change.”

A small shrug of her shoulders, bright. “My father thought I might change, but once he died, I was told that I was kin, to forget such notions, and go on with my life that way. And I did.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smiles a little when Melody says that. There’s something…it’s not quite kinship. Sarita isn’t all ‘OMG ME TOO’ or anything. But there’s…an appreciation. Maybe a certain cousin to understanding. Empathy, at least. “Yeah?”

And then she chuckles a bit as Carter chokes. Not AT the choking, obviously, but the surprise. “It’s surprisingly common these days compared to how it used to be, Carter…which is not to say it’s common, just more than a ‘once an era’ kind of thing. They’re called Lost Cubs by some. People who don’t change until well after most people do. It’s a term that’s sort of interchangeable with people who grow up outside the Nation and don’t know much of anything ’till they change, ’cause the two sometiimes coincide.”

[Carter Roth] Carter recovers at last as Melody explains her half, and then Sarita explains hers. He rubs his neck for a moment and coughs one last time to finish clearing that burning sensation of alcohol from his throat before he takes another deep breath.

“Huh….well thats something new for sure.” He says as he looks between Sarita, and Melody. When his gaze falls upon the newcomer, the woman who had been treated as a kin all of her life until the day she had changed many many years after most, something seemed to stir in his gaze, perhaps it was curiosity, it was hard to tell with the man keeping his thoughts and feelings so tightly guarded here.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “I actually grew up outside of the Nation myself. Had no idea until I was sixteen, I changed and my father showed up to tell me the score. So I have an idea what it’s like, though obviously it’s not the same.” She nods. “That gives you a unique perspective. I can appreciate that, for sure, and it certainly could have its uses.”

She pauses, and leans back, sipping her drink. “How are your recon skills, if any?”

[Melody Drake] “It was certainly something new for me,” she admits, smiling faintly to Sarita in understanding, before her gaze flicks back to Carter. “It was… interesting, to see the changes in attitudes towards me.”

There’s a a nuance in her voice, something how she says interesting that gives away it was less just interesting and more a really really severe change.

Her head inclines as Sarita explains that she had no idea until she changed, nodding every so slightly. “… it must have been a shock. And… my… recon skills are passable, if you’re discussing legitimately sneaking around in the shadows. Walking into a building and talking to people and gathering information? That, I’m often very good at. Words… come easy to me.”

[Carter Roth] “I could imagine…one minute your a liability, the next your one of the soldiers.” He said casually, but it held a hint of heaviness, of something sour or hurtful in it.

“So what did you do…what did you feel when you made that change. How did others react?” He asked, suddenly pointedly interested in the woman who when she had just arrived he hadn’t really seemed curious about. He was also asking very personal questions, but the look in his eye said he wouldn’t stop.

He could also talk a good turn about recon skills…but that wasn’t his place either.

[Melody Drake] Unlike most, maybe, she doesn’t seem to mind the intensely personal questions. Instead, she seems to encourage it, shifting so she can face both Carter and Sarita. “… I was angry. I was being forced into a situation at the time that I didn’t want, and I remember feeling like I didn’t have any control. I can tell you the three Garou there at the time were completely shocked, and it probably didn’t help that I was laughing hysterically once I came to.”

A sip of her water, to wet her mouth before she inclines her head. “You’ll have to be more specific then others though, Mr. Roth. There were varied reactions.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods a little bit at Melody’s self-assessment of her recon skills, both physical and social, absorbing the information and filing it away. When Carter speaks up she lets herself fall silent, sitting back and listening to the conversation between the two Lords. Sometimes you learn the most not by asking questions, but by observing. That’s what she’s doing now.

[Carter Roth] Carter nodded slightly as if piecing something together with the woman’s words. From Sarita’s point of view, this was the most engaged anyone had managed to get Carter in a conversation, the reasoning was obvious, or maybe it wasn’t eitherway…it was something.

“I meant the other kin, as well as the….trueborns.” He says it like he had meant to say something else entirely. “What was their reactions to you after the fact…how did it change from before when they all thought you were kin?”

[K gotta step out…will only be 15 minutes or so, so keep going!]

[Melody Drake] “I wasn’t very close to any other kin at the time, so I regret I don’t have a truly good base reading for that. As for the trueborns…” She pauses, as she figures out how to say it. “When I was kin, and I asked why, the answer would be ‘Because you are kin, and we said so’. When I was suddenly trueborn, and I asked why, it became ‘Oh, because of x, y, and z. It’s good you ask questions!’. That is the best way for me to describe it.

[Carter Roth] Melody answered the mans questions, very personal questions that most probably would not have. It is a testament to Melody’s character, her openness and her willingness to learn and adapt that she did so, especially to a complete stranger like Carter.

However her answers do not evoke a smile or a expression of enlightened understanding, instead it darkens the look on Carters face and he nods.

“Yeah….that sounds about right.” His eyes briefly flicker over to Sarita then before returning to Melody. “Aint trying to interrupt buisness and all.” A hand gestures to Sarita to emphasize. “So one more question if you don’t mind….what caused you to shift?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “You’re not interrupting at all.” She smiles and shakes her head, looking to Carter. “By all means, ask away.”

She looks between the two, finishing off her drink. There’s something discerning in the way that the Strider watches and listens…picking up the details, watching their reactions. Every detail of how someone behaves reveals something, they say, and Sarita seems interested in how both kin and Ragabash are reacting, both to each other and even to the fact that Sarita’s observing.

[Melody Drake] “I’m of the belief that questions should be asked,” a faint shrug. “No one learns anything if no answers are given.”

A nod is given to Sarita, in thanks, for allowing the little Q and A. She is aware she’s being watched and assessed, but that was bound to happen- Sarita was an Elder after all. Still Carter’s question gives her pause, a flicker of something in her face that’s very hard to discern. She’d be a hypocrite though, to say he should ask questions and then not answer them.

Using a sip of water to cover her pause, she finally answers. “… I had moved to Canada, and my former sept had sent a pack to find me and bring me back. I asked why, after some arguing, and was again told ‘because you’re kin’… I’m told that’s when I shifted, though I have no exact recollection of that moment.”

[Carter Roth] Carter blinks for a moment, looking at the shadowlord woman, this ragabash who was full of surprises and then nodded before looking down at his glass. Something passed over his features as he did so, almost a look of sadness, but certainly one of understanding.

But something shifts then, and Carter rises from his chair and says quietly. “Thanks for that, excuse me…I need a refill.” At that Carter moves towards the Kitchen slowly, obviously planning on returning, but well…he needed more booze.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Of course, Carter.” She nods, watching him head off to the kitchen, and looks back. “Yeah, so to recap…definitely gives you a unique look at things. Which is good for our Auspice. We’re supposed to be keeping people on their toes, and challenging them to look at things in new ways.”

“Who are you packed with?” The change in subjects is abrupt, and perhaps purposely so. She looks at Melody casually though, as if it were natural.

[Melody Drake] She watches Carter go as well, eyes narrowed, before Sarita is talking and all her attention is back on her Auspice Elder. A nod, agreeing about challenging people with a flicker of a smile. If the abrupt conversation seems odd to her, she doesn’t show it.

“Honor’s Forge,” she answers smoothly, “with Stefan Knezevic, Nathalie Bystrov, and Bronwyn Montgomery.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She raises an eyebrow. “Really.” Her head cocks to the side, definitely more intrigued now. “That’s an interesting pack. What do you think of them?”

[Carter Roth] [Go ahead and skip me this round]

[Melody Drake] She watches Sarita. “… they have their kinks to work out, as I suppose is with any newly formed pack. They however follow a totem and a cause that I believe in and when pressed, they do have the cohesiveness right now to follow their Alpha. I think, I will be good for them, and then will be good for me.”

[Ivan Press] [christ… DSL no bueno.]

[Carter Roth] It takes a few minutes, but Carter eventually wanders back into the living room from the kitchen, his glass now full to the brim with the amber liquid that constituted whiskey in this household. He glanced from one Garou to the next, his gaze lingering curiously upon Melody as he returned to his seat and eased into it with a tired sigh.

“I miss anything exciting since I went looking for the good stuff?” He asks as he looked from one to the other.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods a little bit. “Yeah? S’good to know. I don’t know Bronwyn–I think she’s another new arrival–but I’ve met Nathalie once or twice and Stefan’s my sister’s mate. I’m sure you’ll get the chance to meet her.”

She smiles slightly. “It’s an interesting pack make-up. A lot of times those work for the best.” She speaks from experience. About the last Tribes she every expected to be packed alongside are the Shadow Lords and Silver Fangs and…well.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Okay, apologies, the submit puttong was being a bitch.]]

[Melody Drake] A small shake of her head, and a smile to Carter- no, he didn’t miss much.

“It is different than I expected, what little I knew of packs to be fair, but I think the dynamic works well,” she agrees with a small nod. “And I do hope to meet your sister soon, after all I’ve heard.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh?” She can’t help but grin at that. ‘After all I’ve heard’ can go many different directions when dealing with her sister. “What have you heard?”

She looks over at Carter and nods to him as he returns.

[Melody Drake] The makes her arch an eyebrow, amusement on her face. “I’ve heard of her work with the kinfolk alliance, Stefan seems very proud of her, and Nathalie seemed to like the idea and actions as well.”

[Ivan Press] Presently, Lucille returns with a new guest in tow. Mr. Ivan Press, she announces, a strictly no-nonsense, no-frills introduction. Hear to see Ms. Sarita de la Risa. Of all the packmate and its associates, Lucille might be the only one to give the liquid beauty of that last name justice. She seems to like dropping the ‘Ecos’, though. Maybe she thinks it fits better: Sarita of the Laughter, simply.

Lucille goes off to do Lucille-type things, then, leaving Ivan standing in the Loft, looking at its occupants with as much interest as they might show in the newcomer himself. That he is of Katherine’s tribe is unmistakable; even if the breeding didn’t give it away, the effortless grace of his posture and stance does. That, and the scent of money that all but wafts from him.

“I’m not interrupting, am I?” It’s more practiced courtesy than genuine worry.

[Ivan Press] [HERE to see. my god.]

[Carter Roth] They both nodded, or shook their head, either way they let him know simply that Carter had not missed a damn thing, not all that surprising, he hadn’t been gone that long.

He took another drink from his glass and seemed pleased with the make of his whiskey. But then the alliance was spoken of again, it is something that has been on his mind since he had been incarcerated here, something that he had not been able to partake in at all.

“Not everyone seems quite so thrilled.” He said roughly.

But then there was another Garou, someone named Ivan Press, Lucille just let everyone in didn’t she? Carter regarded the man blue green eyes narrowing slightly, not out of curiosity this time, more warriness then anything.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods at Melody’s response. Inwardly she’s thinking oh good, none of the insane stuff, but outwardly it’s just acknowledgment. “Yeah…she’s definitely got some good ideas going with that.”

Then she looks over at Ivan, smiling as he sees him come in. She stands up, thanking Lucille, and looking the man over. “Ivan, m’man. Good to see you. No, you’re not interrupting. How are you?”

[Melody Drake] Melody arches an eyebrow, turning to look at Carter as if to ask ‘Why not?’, the question on the tip of her tongue. However, the introduction of Ivan causes her to stay her words instead; business to be discussed later perhaps.

Placing her drink on the table, she folds her hands quietly in her lap and watches, a faint smile on her lips and her expression pleasant. Sarita seems to know the new guest and she quietly watches them interact, trying to decide if this is her cue to leave.

[Ivan Press] What can be said of Ivan, except that he is tall, golden, lean, privileged – a new-millennium sort of Fang?

Well; plenty, to be truthful. Depends on how much they’ve heard, how much each of them are plugged into the rumormill. The Presses are fabulously wealthy — the sort of wealth that’s accumulated past a critical point where it compounds on itself, becomes almost impossible to entirely lose. An empire of commerce rather than land, there are those amongst the old guard Fangs who mutter that these flashy Russians, who disguise their heritage behind a much more Fortune 500-friendly last name, have utterly forgotten what it is to be a Silver Fang. They mate with Glass Walkers now; they even dally with Shadow Lords. Sold their pride out for money and human influence. How despicable.

And then there are the rumors that surround Mr. Ivan Press himself. Popular on the club circuit; something closer to notorious in high society. Known for dropping tens of thousands of dollars on impromptu parties at various swanky locales around town. Never did a day’s work in his life; spends his family’s money like it grows on a tree, or falls from the sky — which for him may as well be true. Frequently seen with models and dancers and aspiring starlets on his arm, though some vestigial shred of modesty — or just pragmatism, or perhaps threats of getting his allowance cut off by mom and dad — keeps him from getting too far into the celebrity spotlight.

Not known for fidelity. Or faithfulness. Or any sort of commitment whatsoever. Can’t even bear to be in a steady pack for long. Is tagging along with some Shadow Lord pack. What sort of Silver Fang, what sort of wolf…

This is the creature that smoothly shakes Sarita’s hand. “Doing rather well, thank you,” he replies. “My congratulations on the Eldership.”

He turns his eyes toward the others, both Shadow Lords. “Ah, the dreaded and esteemed ‘enemy’,” he quips. “Never fear, I’ve a cousin twice removed who’s a Shadow Lord. Ivan Resplendent-Dusk, by the way. Ragabash Cliath of Falcon.”

[Mad Maddox] He’s been here before. Presumably, Maddox was given some sort of key. It’s also entirely possible that he used said key to get into the beautifully renovated loft. It’s also just as likely (if not moreso) that he didn’t. However the mangy Fianna got inside, he makes his way down from the upstairs, tall and gangly and passingly attractive. There’s a cigarette tucked behind his ear, dressed in jeans, a yellow t-shirt that emphasizes just how thin he is. Like a beanpole, or a scarecrow, especially today with his dark hair askew. His feet are bare.

He comes shuffling down the stairs, stops at the bottom just in time for Ivan’s introduction, and smirks.

“Really, that’s it? I thought your lot had intros so long they could wrap around the world thrice.”

[Melody Drake] More new people. There is a glance back at the new voice, but her attention is on Ivan; introductions are at hand.

“An example of keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” She asks, though the lilt of her voice at the smile shows it is meant in jest and she holds no animosity. A nod is given at his introduction and she replies, “Melody Drake, also known as Sweet Whispers, Cliath Ragabash and child of Thunder. A pleasure to meet you.”

[Carter Roth] Carter does much like melody. He falls silent and watches, watches the Silver fang as he introduces himself, this guy was as slick as oil on a sea otter, how knows the guys family might be in the oil buisness for all the money he reeked off.

The look Carter had was slightly unimpressed, sure he had money, sure he had connections but he looked…soft.

He nods to the man, he plays the civil game and even responds with his name. “Carter…” He says in his own gruff way before returning to his drink. Or he would have, when from behind them another Garou arrives, a long lean almost bean pole like fellow. Carter was now surrounded by Garou, from all sides, and their combined rage made his skin crawl.

The grip on his glass grew greater and his eyes slid shut for a moment as he tried to breath,, tried to stay in control.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She chuckles a little bit and reaches out to take Ivan’s hand. “Thanks. Nice to see you.”

Ivan’s entrance, he’s expecting. Maddox just popping out of nowhere from the upstairs causes her to snap her head around. It’s possible that she’s one of the prospectives, and it’s entirely possible that he’s not. Sarita doesn’t know one way or the other. The Strider gives the Fianna a long stare, looking him over.

“Uh, hi.” The ‘Uh’ part doesn’t seem to be a loss for words. Too much time passes between Sarita noticing him and the words for that to be the case.

[Ivan Press] “Actually,” Ivan explains offhand, “no, an example of business over personal pursuits. Her family was the controlling shareholder in PNA Telecom, and we wanted to buy them out at below-market price. She got a nice purebred mate to make lovely blackhaired cubs with; we got the shares. Good deal for everyone, and besides, she’s actually quite personable. Quite pleasant company at family retreats on the Black Sea. And Cousin Yuri’s branch of the family always had an unfortunate tendency to turn into drooling idiots at age 40, anyway.

“And I,” now he’s answering Maddox, “always thought your lot was typically too drunk to notice the difference. At any rate, if I gave my full introduction, I’d have to explain all the other scandalous little crossings in my family tree.”

[Mad Maddox] “Oh really?” he asks, sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans and coming forward. It really is a bit of a shock for a stranger to show up right in the middle of what passes as close to a packhouse as the Unbroken have. There are things that could be assumed here, if the people chatting in the living room were the assuming type. Apparently, one of them is.

Maddox flicks his brows upward. “And what lot is that?” he asks, curious. There is no breeding that calls out to the Garou in the room, no features of some long-gone hero of old shining through Maddox’s countenance. They can’t even tell, at least not right away, that he’s Garou. Except, of course, for the kinsman who actually knows.

[Melody Drake] There is a slight vibration from her purse and she glances down, pulling out the phone to see the number. Eyes narrow and for a moment that pleasant expression is blank. And then she’s sliding the phone away and standing up, gaze moving to Sarita. “I’m sorry to leave so suddenly Sarita, there’s something I need to take care of. It was an honor to meet you.”

A glance at Carter, a faint smile. “You as well Mr. Roth. Resplendant-Dusk, I regret leaving so soon after our meeting, but it was still nice to meet you. I wish you all a good evening.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks at Melody and smiles a bit. “No problem, Melody…we’ll catch up more later. If you want to leave your number, I’ll give you a call, or I can probably get it through Amy.”

She looks back to Maddox and clears her throat, then speaks…slower, and louder. “UM. HI.”

[Danicka Musil] [a/s/l?]

[Mad Maddox] [23/m/your pants?]

[Danicka Musil] [you are unhelpful and shall be summarily beheaded]

[Carter Roth] Carter watches as Melody gets up and states her intention of leaving. He nods to the woman before his eyes flicker to the others in the room before he speaks.

“It was good to meet you Melody….catch ya round.” His gravelly voice follows her as she heads for the door. Carter for his part, wishes he could follow, there were to many garou for his tastes…or at least too many garou he barely knew.

[Melody Drake] [And I just lol’d. Nice.]

“Of course,” she says, pausing to pull out a card and hand it to Sarita. “Thank you, again.”

With that done, she gives another nod to those in the room and moves to head out the door, already reaching for her phone.

[Ivan Press] “Pleasure to meet you,” he says to Melody, stepping a little ways out of the way to allow her an unimpeded path to the door. Not that there’s much impedance possible in a space as spare and open as the Loft.

“Think she’s talking to you,” he adds to Maddox helpfully.

[Melody Drake] [Thanks much for the scene!]

[Mad Maddox] It’s almost like a Mexican stand-off, excepting the noticeable lack of saloon, empty and dusty street, and ponchos. Maddox watches Ivan, Ivan pulls the Fang card and dismisses him to off pleasantries to the leaving Melody. All the while, Sarita tries to get Maddox’s attention.

Sarita…Oh right!

The Theurge’s attention snaps to the new Ragabash Elder, the Silver Fang forgotten. “Ah, my apologies,” he says, stepping toward the Strider with outstretched hand, angling his body in a half-bow. “Maddox Cartwright, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Luk√°Ň° Wyrmbreaker showed me around the other night.”

[Danicka Musil] Shortly after Melody departs the Loft, a car that’s rarely seen there pulls up. She comes here more than she used to, but there has to be a reason. Usually, that reason is a swarthy black-haired Shadow Lord, all tall-dark-handsome, the sort of big bad Ahroun that the pretty blonde kinswomen usually swoon for,

siiiiiigh!

But he isn’t here. His name just came up but he’s not here and yet there’s his mate’s slate-blue Infiniti coming to a stop. Then the mate herself stepping out of it, all sharp-toed stillettos and flare-legged gray slacks and a navy blue sweater with a low v-neck over a fluttery pink tank top with some floral embellishment that peeks out through that low v-neck and a crop-hemmed, crop-sleeved peacoat over it all because Chicago can’t make up its damn mind, weatherwise. She’s still here, Lukas or no Lukas, slinging her purse over her shoulder and walking right up to the door and smiling at Lucille when yet another person shows up.

Hola, Lucille,” she says to the maid, and: “Is Mr. Roth available?”

And soon enough, she’s heading towards the living room, her heels clicking on those hard, shiny floors.

[Carter Roth] Melody was gone, which meant there was only one person that Carter had any real contact with, which left him edgy, which required him to control his breathing. Thankfully the new comers had largely ignored him, which at one point would have annoyed him. But hes trying to control that anger, trying to keep it just beneath the surface…it was turning out to be an interesting night.

Carter was considering his exit strategy, he was looking back towards his room, towards the upstairs, nope..that wouldn’t work it was blocked, his only option was the pool and to pray to god he could beat them off with wet pool noodles.

But then the clack clack of high heeled shoes resounded through the loft, and through the voices of the Garou Carter could hear someone speak his name. This widened his eyes in surprise, at least until the person made themselves known.

As Danika stepped into the room Carter let out a low, inaudible snort and nodded to the woman. Not really happy to see her given their last meeting…but civil…for now.

[Danicka Musil] [per/emp: this is how we show our love]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 6 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[Danicka Musil] […kbsdp.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ahh, right.” She nods a little bit, the irritation and intense look that Maddox is getting dissipating. Somewhat, at least. A grin covers the rest of it, and she takes the hand. “Sarita Ecos de la Risa. Strider and Ragabash Elder. Lukas mentioned you. Just didn’t mention you’d be coming from upstairs.” A little quirk to the grin, and then she looks over as Danicka comes in. Lukas’s mate gets a smile and nod.

“Hey, Danicka.”

[Ivan Press] If Ivan had intended to answer Maddox’s earlier question, it was derailed and derailed again. He’s probably forgotten by now; turns as Lucille brings in yet another visitor.

“I’m just running into you all over the city these days,” he says to Danicka. “Are you stalking me again?”

He invites himself to take a seat. Not quite next to anyone — but close enough to Sarita to make conversation. Which is what he does next: “So, you mentioned you wanted to talk.”

[Mad Maddox] He chuckles, shrugs a shoulder, but doesn’t offer an explanation as to why he was coming from upstairs. Or where his shoes are, if he even had any to begin with. For the record he must have them somewhere, his feet are too clean for him to have been wandering around the city with bare feet. Or he made use of one of the bathrooms.

“I think it’s far more likely that she’s stalking me,” answers Maddox, with a grin for Danicka. The wink he throws, however, is not for the lovely, prettily dressed Shadow Lord, but for Lucille. If she ignores it (and honestly, who would dignify that look with a reaction?), it doesn’t phase him. Before Ivan can get to comfortable, Maddox turns his attention to Sarita once again.

“D’you mind if I raid the kitchen a bit?”

[Danicka Musil] Pausing in the entryway, Danicka looks directly at Carter first, and for an eyeblink — a passing moment, a half-heartbeat — she just looks at him. It’s hard to tell; maybe she’s getting some idea of whether he’s about to go to bed or not, if he’s in a pissy mood or not. He huffs like that and she raises an eyebrow, but by then she’s already gotten what she needs to out of that glance. She looks to Ivan, Maddox, and Sarita, smiling at the last.

“Hi, Sarita.” She glances at Maddox; Lukas mentioned him to Sarita, he’s living at the Loft, but she hasn’t been introduced. “My name is Dani&+269;ka Musil,” she tells him, but that’s all. “Mr. Press,” she says flatly, a touch dryly, without looking at him, “I had a lovely glass of vodka at your penthouse once. Try not to ruin a memory of a decent evening with a Silver Fang by making it about your self-destructive flirtations.”

To Carter, then: “Mr. Roth, would you take a walk with me? Around the block if there are no terms from Luk√°Ň° against it; around the pool if there are.”

[Carter Roth] Danicka had taken a moment to watch Carter, a brief moment, but a moment none the less and Carter had met her gaze. But unlike her, he took little away from it other then his own irritation. He listened to the garou make nice with the kinswoman, and why wouldn’t they? She was the mate of Wyrmbreaker, one of the most potent Garou in the Sept a princess with her prince.

The fact that she had asked for him had surprised him initially. When, having seen all the others in the room, it surprised him even more when the woman asked Carter to go for a walk with her. Suspicion flooded in at that moment but the Anti Kin did not immediately say no, instead he nodded slowly and pushed up from his seat and in one hefty gulp downed ever last drop of whiskey in his glass.

“I’ve gone for walks round the block and the spirits never got pissy before, lets get outta here. I need a smoke anyways.” He moves then, moves towards her without looking back. Infact he almost, almost seemed relieved to be getting out of that living room.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Guys, I’m sorry, Sarita finds a way to excuse herself for at least the next little bit. The scene’s gotten too big for and I’m still stuck working, I can’t keep track right now. Assume that Sarita says yes to Maddox raiding the fridge if he’s living here and is about to answer Ivan, but then gets a phone call and has to step away to take it. I’ll bring her back in when I can]]

[Danicka Musil] [Aww. Take it easy! Come back soon!]

DJ Deadboy Meets The Laughing One

[Kieran Mondblume] So it doesn’t sound like it would be funny. So tell me.

[Amunet] “There’s a bridal show tomorrow. Like, the dresses and the cakes and all of that shit.” She tugs him into a shorter line for tickets.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He frowns at that, but he follows her.* That… sounds like fun. They have cake. Cake is NEVER bad. So what’s the silly point?

[Amunet] “It’s just. I knew I was never going to grow up and have some big wedding. That’s just not how we do it. It just….would have been nice if there was something, you know?”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He pauses at that, and he can’t quite hide it. He looks over to her. Just once.* Are you getting married?

[Amunet] That pulls her out of her thoughts, at least. “What? OH. Ohgod. No.” She squeezes his arm again. “I’m sorry. No. That’s not what I meant.”

[Dorian Del Maro] Navy Pier.

That nightly circus of activity. There was very little not to enjoy about a constant carnival and plus — hotdogs. Who didn’t like Hot Dogs? There was something purely indulgent about biting into suspect meat products lathered in sauce and mustard and surrounded by possibly the worst kind of bread (and the term ‘bread’ here was applied very loosely). So, of course, there was an expression of enjoyment on the face of the young man standing in front of the Ferris Wheel, studying it and chewing.

You could have called that expression thoughtful; considering; deep.

But, no, it was mostly just enjoyment. Standing at a little over 5’8, the Strider was quite leanly built; he was no Summer weed about to blow away in a breeze but his stature seemed to suggest a natural tendency toward the narrower body type. Dressed casually in Converse, jeans and a long sleeved shirt (a short sleeved over the top of this) he immediately gave off the impression of that particular sort of alternative university student.

Well, that, and the fact that the T Shirt read University of Chicago tended to give his game away.

Charismatic was a word often paired with Dorian Del Maro, handsome; not so much. His eyes were a warm hazel, and contained, at first glance very little but an openness, a particular ease that said much toward what kind of a response say, accidentally bumping into him would elicit.

“It happens,” as it turned out, was the reaction when it occurred and half his food was knocked from his reach. The young woman who had bumped him was fluttering, and Dorian dropped to his haunches, waving her off with a good-natured smile as she offered to buy him a new one.

“I’m trying to lay off the Hot Dogs anyway, gotta watch my carb intake.” His humor made her blink and he rose, dirt-smeared food in hand as she smiled a little uncertainly and moved off. Dorian frowned down at the remains of his food and started toward a trash-can.

“Right, jokes about carbs are crossed off my polite chit-chat with strangers list.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He breathes out a sigh of relief.* Oh thank the mother. But… but still. You COULD. No harm in it, right? Having some sort of ceremony.

[Amunet] “Kind of pointless now.”

She half watches the whole dropped hot dog scenario, looking the kid over as he gets closer to reach the trash can.

[Kieran Mondblume] Not really. *He grins.* I think you’d look pretty in a dress. You want me to go to this place with you? *His eyes follow Amy’s to the sad, sad death of a hot dog. He looks so sad.* That’s a perfectly good hot dog!

[Amunet] “You’ve got stuff going on. It just would have been nice to have something to mark it by, you know? Other than sitting at the table going ‘Well, nobody has a problem with it, so it’s done’. I kind of want a hot dog now…”

[Kieran Mondblume] Just a little bit. I can take some time to go to this thing for like… maybe an hour. *HOGOD. Ki … at a bridal show. Where there is free food. And free samples of everything from chocolate fountains to shrimp and lobster. This is a bad, BAD idea.*

[Amunet] She chews at her bottom lip, studying him now. “Seriously?”

[Dorian Del Maro] The kid looks about, well, he looks about the age most young guys wearing University of Anything Shirt should. Early twenties; cute, in a scruffy, unmanageable, I’m-just-learning-how-to-do-my-own-laundry sort of way. At least Dorian had matching socks on, it was an accomplishment — he was fairly sure his room-mate hadn’t gotten that far yet.

Of course, accidentally shrinking all your underwear would do that to a guy.

Dark hair, swarthy complexion, if Amunet didn’t know better she’d imagine he was one of her Cousins, which, as it would eventually turn out — that’s a perfectly good hot dog! — Dorian stops, hand hovering over the trashcan; he finds the source and a very pretty pair of eyes on a very pretty face beside said voice watching him.

He smiles, he’s only human.

“Hey, you want it, I’m selling her dirt cheap.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He really must be confident to be wearing THAT shade of purple. And for once, he’s considering it. Buying that filthy hot dog from that young man.* I hate to waste food, *he murmurs.*

[Amunet] She smiles at the college boy, nose wrinkling when Kieran speaks.

“It was on the GROUND, babe.” She laughs and shakes her head. “Come on. We’ll get non gritty hot dogs, and then go start rides.”

[Kieran Mondblume] But… it’s perfectly OKAY, *he almost whines.*

[Dorian Del Maro] Confident, perhaps. Or just a little on the kooky side.

He doesn’t seem to have any issue after dumping the Dog in wandering over to the pretty girl smiling at him and her — boyfriend[?]. You almost imagine that question mark hanging over Dorian’s head like a cartoon figure. “I hate to waste it, too, especially since that was half my money for the next two weeks. Now it’s strictly pop-tarts and coffee.”

There’s a slight five o’clock shadow creeping over the boy’s jawline. He digs a hand out of a pocket and holds it out to Kieran. “Hey, I’m Dorian. Mind if I hang out with you and your girlfriend?” Smooth, D. Really, really, smooth.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He blinks at that. And he grins, looking over to Amy.* I TOLD you we look like that. But you NEVER believe me.

[Amunet] “Yeah, well, at least you’re not calling me you mom tonight.”

She extracts her arm from his though, smiling at College Boy. “Hey. I’m Amunet. This is Kieran.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He groans.* I had a concussion! What do you expect? *And no, he doesn’t look Irish at all.* But my friends call me Ki. *He pronounces it like KEY.*

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The sounds of Kanye West come to the vicinity of the peer, for those perceptive enough. It’s coming from the dusty orange Volkswagon Bus pulling up to the curb which, like any VW Bus worth owning has a little mural on the side. In this one‚Äôs case, it‚Äôs of a unicorn being ridden by a Boris Vallejo-style female warrior‚Äďcomplete with barely-there golden armor‚Äďbeheading a dragon while galloping along a double rainbow in space. Basically, the most garish thing you could could think of. Underneath, it bares the lines:

‚ÄúYou‚Äôre out of your mind.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs between me and my mind.‚ÄĚ

The Kanye lyrics rock out for a few more seconds (no one man should have all that power, the clock’s tickin’, I just count the hours) before the engine dies and the Strider steps out. She’s finally over her emotional issues from that whole messy nightmare business…or at least, the nightmares are over. And she’s had a good week all in all, if exhausting. She makes her way toward the pier, a filterless cigarette lit as she walks away from the Bitchmobile.

[Dorian Del Maro] For just a second, Dorian’s near-constant smile drops away a little as he glimpses something over their shoulders. He looks that way for a moment, his brow furrowing a little. He blinks once or twice slowly, and seems to follow something or someone with his eyes before they slip back to the introductions.

Shakes both hands and alright, okay, perhaps holds on to Amunet’s a little longer than is strictly required.

Hey, he was twenty-two, give him a break. “That’s a cool name,” he could be speaking for both, though he’s smiling at the pretty-eyed girl as he says it before swinging around and falling in on the other side of Kieran. He’s interested, but he’s not going to get ahead of himself. Still, the guy had a nice voice, strangely familiar in truth.

Sort of had the smooth quality you’d expect from someone on radio.

“So, if you’re in the market for Hot Dogs, that guy over there sells great ones,” Dorian points, fingers in his jacket so he opens one side of it like a wing. “Not that one, though, he’s heavy on the mustard.”

[Kieran Mondblume] Sure! I can get you one too, *he says. He looks back after the Hot Dog That Got away with an almost sad look.* If you’re living on pop tarts… life is just evil, and I cannot allow this to pass.

[Amunet] She tries not to flirt. Really she does. But it’s just in her nature.

“So. Dorian. University, hey? What are you studying?”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He is going to get food, though he does notice Sarita, who he BELLOWS to.* HEY! SARITA! YOU WANT A HOT DOG?

[Amunet] She jumps at the bellowing, and immediately punches Ki in the arm. “What the FUCK, Ki?”

[Kieran Mondblume] OW! *He near leaps at the punch.* What? I was… I’m in line… for… for hot dog… and… and I was just being…. being polite, and… you’re not getting a hot dog for that. *He scowls. Mock-fiercely.*

[Amunet] “You like it when I hit you.”

[Dorian Del Maro] “Cinema and Media,” Dorian says without hesitation, his eyes following the direction of the bellow until he sees (and senses) the presence of a True Blood. His dark eyes flick back to Amunet, he adds with a slightly theatrical tone, “The pictures, dollface, I’m all about the art of it all.”

Oh yes, a voice belonging to the air-waves, there can be little doubt, especially since he adds: “I’m also the DJ for WHPK FM,” he provides a little mock arm roll. “Deadboy, the graveyard shift at your service and at every late night, early morning cram-session student’s, too.”

Oh yes, someone had personality.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She continues her way along, exhaling a drag of smoke as she walks. She’s in a fairly good mood, humming to herself as she does. Don’t ask what she’s humming, you probably don’t want to know, ’cause it’ll worm its way into your head and get stuck there and drive you nuts.

As she gets closer to the food stands, she glances over and notes Kieran and Amy. She smiles and starts to approach, pausing when the breeding of the person they’re talking to stands out to her. She gives Dorian a slow once over, then grins and comes up on them, trying to be a little sneaky as she weaves through kids.

But then Kieran screams at her, and she sighs. “Motherfucker, don’t ruin my entrance.” She grins and comes up to them, nodding. “Hola, peeps. S’up?”

[Amunet] “Dollface?”

She’s amused, clearly, glancing to Ki and then over her shoulder to spot Sarita before smiling at Dorian. “And a DJ. Of course. Explains all the sultry going on there.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He grins.* I made it more EPIC by announcing it. Hot dog? *He’s already ordering six.*

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “The hell you did.” It’s her turn to punch Kieran on the arm, though possibly not as hard as Amy and with more humor. “I make my own epic entrances, thanks. Hey, sis.” She winks at Amy, then looks over at Dorian. “And hello to you too.”

[Kieran Mondblume] OW! What the hell? Both of you beating me up! It isn’t FAIR. Neither one of you gets a hot dog. *He offers one over to Dorian, and the five others… well. He starts eating.*

[Amunet] “Sar, cute smooth talking college guy. Cute smooth talking college guy, Sarita.”

[Dorian Del Maro] If Sarita is giving Dorian the slow once over, she’s getting something of the same in return. Dorian was polite enough about it though, he glanced at her, smiled a little and scanned her then looked back at his companions. You know, the way you do when you’re out with friends and are suddenly surrounded by attractive women.

What’s a guy to do, where’s a guy to look.
Anywhere but at their assets, if his mother had taught him well.

Amunet seems amused by his endearment, he laughs. An easy, relaxed sound and lifts his shoulders. “I didn’t say I was any good, just that I’m on the air and studying film. Though the fact you think I can manage sultry is a definite complement, I’ll take it aboard.”

Sarita greets them all; Dorian extends his hand again, isn’t he polite? “Hey Sarita, I’m Dorian.” He doesn’t glance down at his University shirt, but she knows enough already to guess about what sort he is, where he belongs. Kieran offers him a Hot Dog and Dorian takes it with a murmured — “Champion, thanks.”

Licks mustard off his thumb and says, muffled. “Smooth talking as well as sultry, I’m on a roll.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Screw your hot dogs, I already had my fill of processed meat parts today.” She grins to Ki. Dorian then gets his attention and she gives him a lopsided grin, taking the offered hand. “Yeah, I’ll give you sultry. I’ll have to judge smooth-talking on my own, though. Amy got smooth-talked by a fifteen-year-old in Denver once. And he was a little mentally slow to boot.”

Yeah, she’s in THAT kind of good mood.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He loses a large chunk of hot dog, as Sarita’s words actually make him choke. Ahhh… apparently he DOES get entendre. He starts coughing, hard, and spits out a chunk of half-chewed meat on the ground. He frowns, however, for a moment, looking down at it. Considering.*

[Amunet] “Fuck you. He was sixteen.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Amusingly enough, she wasn’t doing double entendre. For once. She has no problem with letting Ki think that she did, though. “Fifteen and eleven months is not sixteen, Ames.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He decides against picking up the lost meat, and he eats the rest of his hot dog, looking the other way.* Ahh… I’ma go catch the carousel. Not just gonna stand around here.

[Amunet] “Yeah, well, who got laid in Denver and who didn’t?” She grins at Sarita, winks at Dorian, and frowns just a little when she gets to Ki.

[Dorian Del Maro] Thankfully, he’s swallowed his own dog by the time Sarita says her line. So he can laugh, actually, really laugh and not fear choking on it. Kieran on the other hand, not so lucky. “Oh, my friend.” He sets a palm on the other man’s back in light handed comfort; a fist to his mouth in mock horror.

“She got you with the processed meat parts. Man card, please?” Dorian waggles his fingers at Kieran, then returns Amy’s wink. “It’s okay, I’m about on a par with a fifteen year old when it comes to my moves. I’ll take what I can get.”

Again, just for a split-second, Dorian’s eye wanders. He doesn’t frown, but he does concentrate a little too hard — glancing over shoulders will make any of their number believe he’s checking out the blonde’s rack, she’s in his direct line of vision. He’s back, though. Expression as jovial as it ever was.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He keeps his grin. He’s slowly edging away from them.* I’m keeping my man card. In my other pants, *he says sincerely.* Safe from people trying to take it. *He’s on hot dog number three.*

[Amunet] “Hey. How about we do the ferris wheel, Ki? We can all go.” Her hand reaches out to him, fingers curling around his wrist.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “By a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD.” She may be joking at this point, she may not. It’s really hard to tell with her sometimes unless you know her pretty well. Partially because of the perma-grin, the constant state of amusement. “I could have gotten laid too if I was trolling junior high schools.”

She looks back to Dorian, catches his diverted attention and smirks. “So, Dorian…are you new to town? There’s something about you that looks familiar…some intangible quality or another. Almost like family, but not quite.”

[Kieran Mondblume] Oooh. *He frowns slightly.* Nono… you go… ahh… do the… talky… thing. Ohh! *He grins to Sar, then.* Congrats! I meant to say.

[Amunet] Her fingers curl tighter and she gets close to him, leaning up to whisper.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He wrinkles his nose at the whispering.* You look like you’re having fun with the chats. And I wanna finish my questionable hot dogs, before getting some questionable funnel cakes.

[Dorian Del Maro] [Intel + Intuition, I think she’s asking you something more than where you come from, bro. You feeling that?]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 3, 4, 6, 6, 8, 9 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[What sneakiness are you planning, Amy? Per+Alert]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[Amunet] “Okay…” She scowls, letting go of his hand. “Whatever.”

[Kieran Mondblume] *He looks confused. A definite ‘what did I do’ look that seems to be very common on his face these days. He offers the hot dog over to Amy as a consolation.*

[Amunet] “I don’t want a hot dog. I want to go on the ride.”

[Kieran Mondblume] Okay. So… ahh. *He looks back to Sarita.* What about you? And … err… newguy smooth-talker?

[Dorian Del Maro] Dorian certainly looks like he’s family. Maybe not a direct relation to Sarita herself, but with his dark hair, naturally curling as it grows longer, and his dark eyed and tan complexion he bears that same noticeable familiarity of Striders in times gone by. No instant blink-worthy sense of staring an Egyptian God in the face, here, but his bloodline was still strong enough to bear breeding in its wake.

That alone made him a commodity to Sarita’s tribe.

He seems to sense what she’s saying without her actually putting word to it. He looks at her long and steadily a moment without it being overly a challenge and says, slowly, with a certain assurance that is surprising given what has actually been suggested. “I have that same irresistible pull I suppose anyone from my family way might have. A particular potency in the blood, I’d guess you mean.”

Amunet is scowling about the Ferris Wheel.

Dorian glances between Kieran and the pretty-eyed female as Kieran gives in to the former and Dorian has to cut a glance down at his sneakers to prevent the smile surfacing. He looks back up, at Sarita, shrugs. “I’ll hang here and try out more of my best fifteen-year old lines on her.”

He looks plaintively at Sarita. “Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?”

[Amunet] “Ohmygooooooood…..” Her nose wrinkles as she tries hard not to laugh.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She chuckles and looks at Amy and Ki. “You guys go ahead…I’m cool. Just make sure you throw something buy a Slurpee to ‘accidentally’ drop when you hit the top on my behalf. That shit never gets old.”

She looks back at Dorian when he speaks up, and a little smile curves up the corner of her mouth. “Yeah…that, I think, is exactly what I meant. Potency in the blood…it happens. And then we get these kinda fortunate path-crossing. Our peeps do that, wandering as much as we do.”

And then he busts out the line, in that expression, and the little smile becomes a laugh. “You know…” She cocks her head to the right, looking him over. “Every other time that lines been used in my presence, I’ve had the same response. Which is… ‘Yeah, it did…I landed right on my ass. Wanna make me feel better and kiss it?'” She grins. “Your delivery was impressive, though. I give you a C- for content, A+ for delivery. So you’re not doing bad.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Take out the ‘throw something.’ Stupid mind changing directions midstream.]]

[Kieran Mondblume] *He grins at that, and he looks excited.* Okay, let’s go! *And he DARTS towards the ferris wheel.*

[Kieran Mondblume] ((And I dart out meself… Ki will go after the ferris wheel, citing patrol.))

[Dorian Del Maro] Dorian’s expression slides back from its doe-eyed lament about Sarita’s heavenly ways and he smiles at Amunet. “Wait, I have more.” He reaches over, takes Amy’s hand and clasps it between his own larger, swallows and looks up at her in a state of tortured shyness.

“I think you should know, I’ve had to report that there’s an Angel missing, she’s standing in front of me, making the Heavens ache.” He lifts her hand and kisses it. Smiles, and lets it go, glancing back at Sarita, or rather, at the part of her anatomy she’s referencing. “To which I reply with all respect and hope for my manhood remaining in tact, I’ve never been so jealous of the earth that it landed on.”

A beat, he smiles and lifts his shoulders, sobering a little.

“I don’t exactly fit the mold though, my ah, that is my real parents, aren’t with us any longer. I was adopted, so less wandering on my side and more … helping those that are.”

[Marni] Ray’s working late, again, and Indy just will. not. sleep. So, against her better judgement, she’s bundled the Bean up in his sling, wrapped them both up in an oversized jacket, and taken a walk.

It’s been miles, and finally Indy’s gone to sleep. Marni’s a wanderer, though and out like this, in the middle of the night, stretching her legs, feeling the concrete miles disappearing under her beat up old boots – well, it feels right. Feels like home.

So she walks, cradling the baby against her chest, purely for the experience.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Dorian’s grandiose gestures don’t go unappreciated. She laughs again with his cheeseball line said to Amy, and then smirks when he turns back to her.

“Okay, I’ll give you smooth-talking,” she says during that beat. “Only the smoothest mofo on the planet could make those sound as good as you did.” She’s teasing, but good-naturedly. Hey, it’s better than a week and a half ago when her nightmares forced her off to another part of the city where she could drink herself to sleep and avoid the risk of waking up packmates or guests at the Loft.

The demeanor evens out to something more serious, of course, when he mentions that his parents are gone. The amusement drops, the expression that remains one of empathy and a real sort of understanding. “I’m sorry to hear. I understand the feeling, sort of. So does Amy…we both lost our parents too, though not early. Did you know them, or was it that early of an age?”

She glances over, noting Marni. She remembers the Gnawer both from Joey’s Elder challenge and from the brief Ragabash meeting that the same successor at the Auspice Elder table held. She gives the woman a smile and a nod, then looks back to Dorian.

[snail] [GODDAMMIT i can never catch creamed corn!]

[Marni] She’s been noted, and ask such lifts her chin in something of a greeting. Her fingers sooth over the back of the sleeping infant, and she debate changing her direction, and heading the other way. In the end, though, she continues on the path that will bring her past Sarita and company.

[Dorian Del Maro] [oops sorry! I had to go check on food! *typing*]

[Amunet] She’d laughed at Dorian’s efforts before darting off to the ride with Kieran. After several minutes though, she comes back alone and smiling.

[Dorian Del Maro] Kieran gets a wave as he ducks off toward the Ferris Wheel with Amunet, but for the most part — unless he does that sudden, slightly unfocused staring into the distance over Sarita’s shoulder, or brief, but decided side-long glances toward the ground with his head slightly tilted as if listening to a faraway beat — his attention remains with the Ragabash.

His mouth gives a little at a smile; it’s appreciative of the understanding but not forlorn to discuss it: “Not really, I have fragments, you know,” he touches fingertips to his brow, drops the hand away. His fingertips are smudged here and there with what looks like ink marks.

“I was about five, so. You’re more interested in playing with bugs and mud then hanging on to the idea of how your mother looked. If I could go back and shake five year old me into doing that, though,” he smiles and it’s rather charming. Dorian is, in total, rather charming. There’s a certain ease about him, even discussing his biological parents — he is not overcome by grief. In fact, he seems quite calm about it.

“Wouldn’t we all?”

Another True Born approaches and this one with an infant. The unknown male next to Sarita smiles at her, nods a little, gaze falling to the sleeping infant. He looks over Marni’s shoulder a moment; there’s a minute shake of his head as if he were telling someone not now.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Yeah.” She nods slightly to that, giving a faint smile. “I think we’ve all got things we’d like to tell our younger selves.” She lets a beat pass, thinking about her own, but it isn’t long. His little shake of the head at nothing, the sidelong looks get a curious expression. Something to file away for later. Even Sarita doesn’t point out someone’s eccentricities on first glance unless they piss her off.

“How long have you been in town? Met any of the other locals yet?”

Amy comes back soon enough, and she gives her sister a grin. “Have a fun ride?” Marni approaches, and she gives her Auspicemate a little tilt of her head, as if to invite her over if she wished. Then her attention is back on Dorian.

[Marni] This one, with the infant.

She is all curves and curls, Marni, even without the lump of sleeping baby slung across her chest. Motherhood has done nothing to deminish her cuteness, either. In fact, it’s only enhanced it. When she smiles, it’s almost impossible not to smile back…

and she smiles, now. A tired grin, really, as she lifts a hand and waves, and joins the little group.

[Dorian Del Maro] “Oh, boy,” he says with a little apprehension at the question though its delivered with a smile; he digs his hands into the pockets of his jacket. It’s black, and the cords hanging from either shoulder are a little frayed. In total, he looks as if he were not lying in the slightest when he said he will mostly be sustaining himself on pop tarts and coffee for a fortnight.

“The dreaded locals.”

Dorian breathes out, rocking on his heels a little. “I’ll be honest with you, because as smooth talking as you tell me I am, I’m not the greatest liar in the world.” What a thing to say to a Ragabash, really, he’s just asking for it now. “I tend to sort of avoid family when I can.

Not because there’s anything wrong with you guys,” he draws his hands out in a pre-disposed means to soothe potentially ruffled egos, then expands on his thoughts. “But my parents, the ones that took me in, they aren’t exactly down with the whole expanded universe that actually exists and if I get too involved, inevitably, something freaks them right out, so.

I just moved out, came here for college and left them a safe distance. So, that’s about it.” A beat, he considers all he’s said. “I just totally ruined my mystique, didn’t I.” Marni, all curls and curves and baby pulls up and Dorian’s eyes are on the baby in an instant with a strangely bemused expression. He’s trying hard to ignore something, it’s pulling at his attention and he settles for reaching over to let tiny fingers wrap around a finger.

“That’s a cute miniature person you have there.”

[Amunet] She nods, standing close enough to Sarita that she can lean into her and listen to Dorian while looking him over.

“This guy isn’t bothering you, is he? I”ll kick his ass.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] When Dorian starts says that he avoids family, there is a look of frustration that creeps into her expression. It’s not even his fault..she’s just had a couple kin now who have tried to keep their distance, and one in particular who’s cause her no end of grief over it. But the words after, and the gesture, banish that frustration quickly, and she smiles a bit.

“Okay, well that’s understandable. Adoptive parents who don’t know the score…that’s absolutely something we wanna avoid upsetting. So I get that.

“Still,” she adds, cocking her head to the side. “It would be nice if we could exchange numbers, even hang out a bit from time to time if you’re down with that. I’m sort of the HBIC of our line, if you get the meaning, and the last thing I ever want is for my peeps to come under trouble. Particularly now…there’s something around that’s been looking to cause some grief to members of the extended family like you and Amy, and it would make me feel better if you could check in, so I know you’re all right at the very least.

“I promise, I’m not gonna drag you anywhere kicking and screaming, and I don’t wanna make your life any harder. I’m-a do me, and you do you. If anyone gives you shit though, you’ll know where to go to. Plus, I tend to buy when it’s drink night, so there’s that added bonus.” A little grin at the last.

Marni gets a friendly smile. “Hey, chica. What’s shakin’? You’re lookin’ good.”

And Amy gets a chuckle and a counterlean. “Nah, no ass-kicking necessary. He’s only bothering me in the good way, and I’m lettin’ him.”

[Marni] Ah, see. Now THAT’S the way to get on a new mother’s good side. Point out how utterly adorable their babies are. Marni’s smile deepens into dimples and she beams with a quiet serenity that only the truly exhausted and slightly delerious can accomplish.

“ain’t he though?”

She snorts, amused, at Sarita. “I look like fuckin’ hell.” She doesn’t. “Indy here don’t wanna sleep but a couple hours at a time. Bout to take him home and let my baby daddy take his turn though.”

[Amunet] “Well. Don’t let him smooth talk you. Dorian, it was nice meeting you. Sar, I’ll talk to you later, hey?”

She nods to Marni, having never met her and taking the presence of the small human as her cue.

“I should be getting home before Stefan comes out looking for me.” (Because jesus christ it’s 3am and I need to sleep.)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ooh, yeah…” She nods to Marni, giving her a sympathetic look. “That’s the fun part of the early part of mommyhood, way I hear it. Sounds like a good plan with the baby daddy, though. Let him get his share in.”

“Say hi to Sparky for me.” She grins and hugs her sister. “I’ll chat atcha later, hon.”

[Dorian Del Maro] This guy isn’t bothering you, is he? I’ll kick his ass.

Dorian may have heard that, or at least he’s glancing between the pair as if he had and does that slightly unconvincing attempt at not listening that he does so not quite well. The tiny person on the other hand, seems quite delighted with having a new toy to play with — that being, Dorian’s finger. “Hey, Indy? As in Indiana Jones? Because if so, totally awesome choice.” He offers her a rueful smile.

“Sorry, cinema major, everything is pop culture to me.”

He listens to the No Moon’s spiel and to his credit he doesn’t seem affronted at being asked for contact details, he seems fairly non-plus, to be honest. Cute girl, wants his number, what’s not to be alright with in this scenario, again? “Yeah, sure. I’ll give you my digits, I’m living on-campus, so. It’s not like I have anywhere to hide.”

As Amunet begins to leave, Dorian throws her a grin. “Seeya, dollface.”

[Amunet] She flashes a quick, highly suggestive grin at Dorian “If you play your cards right.”

And she’s off to home. (Thanks guys. Passing out now!)

[Marni] She chuckles and shakes her head. “Nah. Not Indiana Jones, though everyone thinks so. He’s named after my packmate… Indira.” By the sadness that crosses her ever expressive face, it’s a former packmate. Lost to the war…

She shakes it off though, and nods. “Yeah. He’s good about takin his turn – just waitin for a family member to get here to help out.. play Nanny and shit. Speakin of Ray though – I gotta get back.. it seems…”

Indy begins to fuss, and she chuckles. “It’s breakfast time.”

[and lessa just realized how tired she is.. *L* thanks for letting me crash!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Night, Marni. Have a good one.”

She smiles to the Ragabash and gives one to the little’un as well. She then looks back to Dorian and grins. “You’re a pop culture freak. You just became my favoritist person ever…or at least, that I’ve newly met in the present-to-immediate-past.”

She grins and takes on a remarkably bad Bogie voice. “Dorian…I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

[Dorian Del Maro] When Marni talks about Indira, there’s a strange sort of understanding, perhaps a much greater degree of sympathy, than she expects that drifts over the Strider’s features. While not movie-star handsome, Dorian’s face was one that seemed born for animation and in being so, it made him far more attractive than his natural appearance might suggest.

He watches Marni for a long moment, and lets her little one’s hand go as she makes to head off. Dorian glances after her for a minute. “It’s funny how often people talk about being being lost to death.” He tucks his hands into his jacket pockets, but doesn’t expand on that rather deep statement about existance.

Rather, he pulls his phone out and tinkers with it for a moment; it’s an iphone, he taps in the name Sarita, and holds it out for her to enter her digits into. “I am, you can tune in and listen to me being such on the air if you like, I’m on between midnight and five AM every Tuesday and Thursday.” Dorian’s voice drops a notch, smoothing out. “This is DJ Deadboy and you’re tuned to WHPK 88.5FM.”

[Dorian Del Maro] [“others being”, that should read. Ahem.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Her head cocks again, brow furrowing as she considers the implications of that statement. There is a thoughtfulness in her expression, some consideration and no small amount of curiosity. She doesn’t press for an explanation, though…time for that later. Instead she smiles and takes the phone, tapping in her phone number. It takes her a minute until she sees the blue “save” button, which she presses and then hands back.

“Radio, eh? Well, that’s beyond cool.” She smiles. “I’ll be sure to tune in. You know…just to know you’re okay.” She grins and winks.

[Dorian Del Maro] He knows it’s weird.

Usually, he’s more careful about saying anything at all and keeps himself to himself about his little visits from the other side of things. It isn’t that they’re always around, but a larger crowd, more stories, more people lost that want to cling to, or check in on or simply find themselves drawn to this side of things.

Mostly, he’s noticed from glimpses; the dead want little to do with the living unless its someone they felt strongly about. Or he crossed a death scene — now those, those he hated above all else. Pit him around that much residual energy and the other side, they were like dogs salivating at the gate.

Usually though, it’s like this.

Easy, he can smile and flirt a little with a girl or two and nobody can tell he’s any different. Because he wasn’t honestly. He was just open to things other people weren’t, the way Dorian saw it, Sarita was open to some things he didn’t understand, either. Considering overly long that she could turn herself into a wolf was a little more than he typically liked to have to handle.

“Hey, do it and I’ll dedicate a song to you. I can’t promise it won’t be thematic, though.” He takes his phone back, looks at it and tucks it away. “So, uh, should I be offering to walk you somewhere,” he grins, “for my own protection, that is.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Dude, if you dedicate a song, it had damn well better be thematic. That’s totally up my alley.”

She chuckles at the last line, brow raising. “You wanna walk me somewhere, I’ll feel downright obligated to…for your own protection. And I consider what you just said asking, so…there you have it.” She’s being playful, keeping it light. She’s not the kind of person to spread the gloom and doom to a new kin that she just met who tries to keep the Nation at a distance so as to protect his adoptive parents. Plus, she appreciates someone with a good sense of banter.

But the truth is, she wouldn’t be comfortable with him heading around alone this late at night when she just met him. Odds of problem? Low. But even she doesn’t lose her kin first night after meeting them.

[Dorian Del Maro] He laughs a little as they begin to stroll; Dorian in his sneakers and jeans, his hands alternating between pockets and being used as tools for gesturing about whatever takes his mind. It was a quick one, the Strider beside him will come to grasp if she hasn’t already. Naturally open to discussion, it was no shocker to find out Dorian Del Maro liked to talk.

A lot.

His choice of study at the University of Chicago aside, the fact that he worked late nights DJing with a name like Deadboy was a (pardon the pun) dead giveaway to a natural inclination toward discussion, itself. For a Kinfolk, he’s just awfully happy to talk to her like she’s totally normal.

Her low Rage no doubt helps with that, along with the fact that if he’s been adopted and away from the Nation for the most part for eighteen or so years, he’s not jaded or burned enough yet to practice holding his tongue around a True Born. Whatever the reasoning, this swarthy skinned man walks through mingling crowds with her, no more or less noticeable then the dozens of others their age out with friends; on dates.

Hanging.

“So you know I’m a student, I’m adopted and I don’t mingle with the family much, oh and I’m a pop culture nerd. Our instant status as best friends aside, what should I know about those locals you mentioned earlier? Any I need to stay away from? Fear being man handled by?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Pausing!]]

Ragabash Elder Challenge

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s thought about it for a couple of days since Joey came to her and told her she was leaving, and that she had recommended her for the spot. She’s still vaguely new to the city, she’s certainly not the highest-ranking member of the Auspice here and‚Ķwell, she was weird enough with the fact that people called her the Strider Elder. She’s not fuckin’ old, after all. In addition, challenges aren’t something that she can take lightly. Her pack’s totem demands that they pick and choose their battles, and having the wisdom to know when the risk is worth it. Should she lose this, it’s not just her that pays. She has to consider all of this.

But it would be good for the city, and good for her, to get new perspectives. That’s what being a Ragabash was all about, right? Making sure that new perspectives are seen, and no one gets settled into old ways for the sake of them being old. A Devil’s Advocate had to be in place, especially during a time of change in the Sept like this. Her pack chose her for this very reason, and she chose them because she knew she could complete them in that way. If she was a fit there, then she could be a fit here as well. It’s time for her to step up.

And thus, Sarita makes her way into the Sept, seeking out Balance-Without-Fault. She’s dressed simply‚ÄĒblack tank top, jeans, cowboy boots and that ever-present duster settled on her shoulders. When she comes upon the Grand Elder and acting Master of the Challenge, she gives him a little incline of her head. A touch to respect and deference for the Adren.

“Good afternoon, Rhya. Joey told me that she was leaving town and thus that the Ragabash Elder position is going to be empty as a result. I’m here to hopefully fix that and challenge for the position.”

[Janis Ian] Sarita was not the only one that had considered the ramifications of Killswitch’s absence. Word travels fast about the departing of the Auspice Elder, while Janis’ concerns for Joey are kept to herself with the Rotagar’s sudden leaving. The Fenrir has given a hard long thought to the position; she happens to catch the Silent Strider on the same afternoon heading for the Grand Elder.

She tips her head in a curt nod to Sarita in greeting, red hair spilling down her shoulders in two twin braids that touch to her hips. She tucks her hands in her pockets, waiting for the Strider to speak first as they both approached the Grand Elder.

There is a respectful tilt of her head downward, her body bowing like the branches of a tree caught in a heavy storm, “I too, most esteemed Alpha, come to challenge fer the position.”

[Balance Without Fault] Balance Without Fault regards the two Ragabashes a moment. Then he paces a circle around them where they stand. Dust puffs as he drags the toe of one boot through the dirt.

Challenge circle inscribed, he steps in with them.

“This will be a multipart challenge,” he informs them. “Part one: you are allowed to ask one question of each other, and one only. Make it good.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks over at Janis, nodding to her a little and giving a faint smile. There’s nothing in the way of malice in her eyes toward her auspicemate‚Ķonly the appraising look of a Garou sizing up her competition. She smiles a bit and returns the curt nod with an amicable one of her own.

Her eyes remain on Janis while Balance Without Fault inscribes the circle, looking at him when he steps inside. The first part of the challenge is heard, listened and considered. It is a couple moments before she looks at Janis, head cocking as she crosses her arms over her chest.

“We No-Moons, we have to be good at ferreting out information. We also gotta be good at pointing out where others fall short, so we can help shake them out of their set ways and force them to look at situations‚ÄĒincluding themselves‚ÄĒdifferently. By needling them if necessary, hitting them with whatever we have to. We’re there to make sure Litany is considered and understood, not just accepted at face value in the way other people say it is.”

“So,” she says with a half-grin, “that being said. Why, with the Litany in mind, is it a bad idea for me to be Ragabash Elder?”

[Janis Ian] Janis waits patiently, her eyes drawn to the circle that the Grand Elder draws around them, the dust swirling into a little cloud as she moves a fraction to widen her stance; feet braced and balanced evenly with her shoulders. She draws her arms up across her chest, tucking her hands to lay them flat across bare biceps. The tattooed skin of her right arm twitched reflexively under the inked glyphs on her right forearm, the Fenrir glyph that sits on the curve of a deltoids muscle.

She tilts her head down, focused on the Strider as Sarita asks her question. Red eyebrows dance upward, widening her eyes to the question that spills from the Strider’s lips. “Litany itself doesn’t govern who is best chosen, ’tis the actions in ‘ow the No Moon, in question, interprets the Litany and uses it as a tool to best suit their purposes.”

Janis clears her throat, “With that said, I ‘ave neither seen nor ‘eard of yer actions that would say ye’re bad for the job. I cannot judge on face value. The one thing that may go against ye, Strider, is the very nature of yer tribe. Wanderlust. ‘ow can ye dedicate yer time to guiding our auspice if’n ye feel that nip at yer heels to walk with the sun at yer back and the wind in yer face? We’d just be ‘ere again searching for a new auspice elder when that time comes.”

She had one question to ask, “Why, Sarita, do ye want to this position that whatever ye can do for the auspice, it’ll be different from Killswitch-rhya’s time?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[I will try to get a response in within the 24 hour timeframe, but I am working at the moment so it might not be possible. A slight extension would be appreciated if possible.]]

[Balance Without Fault] “An answer,” Balance Without Fault replies as soon as it becomes apparent that Sarita, like Janis before her, means to answer the question posed to her, “was neither necessary nor requested, Cliaths.

“If you are to play the questioner, you must first learn to listen. Carefully.” A wry smile, “It shouldn’t be possible for a Philodox to outfox a Ragabash.

“Part two. Answer this question: Why shouldn’t I dismiss both your challenges at this point?”

[Janis Ian] “Ye should since ye ‘ave proven that neither of us can listen well enough to figure out the first part of the challenge.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Sarita just grins a little bit when Balance Without Fault points out that he only asked about a question. If there’s admonishment, she doesn’t show it; she merely accepts his point and moves on. Then Janis says that they should, and she cocks her head curiously at the No-Moon before she gives her answer.

“That’s easy, Rhya. You’re absolutely right that a Ragabash needs to be able to listen as well as hear. They also need to be able to listen to what’s not being said and make a judgment call there. As the questioners, we have to look at what might be implied and go from there.”

She pauses a moment. “Now, obviously in this case, both Janis and I made the judgment call and guessed wrong. But my question to you would be this, Rhya‚Ķshould the Elder of the Auspice be someone who, when faced with a decision to offer more you more or less, simply offer up the bare minimum and hope that’s enough? Or should they take a risk, offer up more at potential cost to themselves to give more information. We have to think on our feet, and if we’re in the field leading a recon mission, we can’t always wait to see what the next order is, step by step.”

“This Sept is beset at the moment. We’re always pretty beset, but not so much at our front door. But when push comes to shove, decisions have to be made and someone needs to be there in order to question‚Ķlisten, yes, but question as well‚Ķthe decisions being made. A few too many questions is always a better than then too few. Too many and some time might be wasted in the asking. Too few, and plans aren’t as thought-out as they need to be. If you want someone who’s doing the bare minimum and leaving it at that, then send us packing and hold off. But if you want someone who will think on their own and give more of themselves than expected, well…

She holds her hand up, as if volunteering. “Here you go.”

[Balance Without Fault] When both Cliaths have answered, Balance Without Fault nods to Janis.

“If you don’t feel yourself deserving of the role, then you can only be correct. Your challenge was honorable, Rides-Like-Cowboy, but it is at an end. Stand down.”

He turns back to Sarita.

“Echoes of Laughter, your packmates currently sit two of the five auspice elderships, and they are powerful ones. The Ahroun Elder is our warleader, whose authority in war is superceded only by the Warder’s. The Philodox Elder is the penultimate word of the law in this Sept, whose authority in peace is superceded only by mine. One might argue that between them, your pack already holds significant sway in this Sept.

“Were you to join the Elder Council, that makes three of five. That is a majority, enough to clinch any vote. Furthermore, it might be argued that the Ragabash elder is the check against the power of the other Auspice Elders. That part of the Ragabash Elder’s role would be to ask questions, test the edicts and theories and plans and resolve of the other Elders. To argue against them if need be, and to always present the minority opinion.

“Echoes of Laughter, answer these questions. If you were to become Ragabash Elder, don’t we lose the check your position is meant to represent? Wouldn’t that make your pack — forgive my terminology — a sort of controlling shareholder in this Sept? Isn’t it a good Ragabash’s job to prevent absolute dominance?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Janis is given a smile‚ÄĒnot triumphant, not any kind of Simpsons-esque “HA HA!” type of look, but just a friendly smile when she is dismissed. There’s respect there from the Strider for the Fenrir to have stepped up at all. She turns back to Balance Without Fault quickly, listening to what he says.

A faint smile hits her lips as he lays it out. This is something she actually considered herself when the decision of whether to challenge or came to her mind. She struggled with it for a short while, so it is easy for her to give the reasons that she countered her own doubts with.

“It’s definitely a thing that I can see people being concerned over, Rhya. Before I joined the Unbroken, I myself called it ‘The Elders Pack.’ Making another member of the pack an Auspice Elder would sure as hell be something I would be raising an eyebrow over‚Ķyou know. If that member wasn’t me.”

She smiles a little, though it’s brief. “And you’re right. A Ragabash should prevent situations where a small group just pushes through everything. They should be able to make sure that more than one opinion is heard, and that all sides of an equation are looked at. It’s our nature and our job.”

“That being said‚Ķthat’s exactly why I’m in the Unbroken. I’m not there to just fight alongside them, share a pack link and chill in Bellamonte Loft. I’m there because I’m not afraid to question them. Say the things that need to be said‚Ķshake them up as much as anyone else.”

“You ask if this gives the Unbroken a controlling interest in the Sept. There’s no way to get around the fact that as you put it, three out of the five Auspice Elders would be bonded together. But that doesn’t mean that the Unbroken will control the Sept. If I thought that was a concern, then to be honest I wouldn’t have ever challenged, Rhya. It’s the uniqueness of my Auspice‚Ķquestioning everyone and making sure no one is just resting easy or falling along party lines‚Ķthat makes this not a controlling interest situation.”

“There will be times that we’ll agree, obviously.” She shrugs. “They’ll happen. Maybe it’ll happen more than half the time, maybe not. But there is just as much chance that we’ll disagree‚Ķand if I were to agree with them just because we’re packmates, than I’m failing both the Council and the very pack I’m agreeing with against my better judgment.”

“I’ve always gone my own way,” she starts her finish with. “Janis mentioned that the Strider tendencies toward wanderlust could be a detriment, but I see it as an advantage. I’m good and settled, first of all. I wouldn’t have joined a pack otherwise. But the fact that I’ve been on my own for as long as I have, that I’ve had to make up my own mind about things and I didn’t have a party line to toe to outside the Litany, means that I am my own person. I don’t fall into voting blocs just ’cause it makes life easier. Besides, easier is less interesting. The road less traveled is more productive and more fun.”

[Balance Without Fault] “Why,” Balance suggests, sounding reasonable, “don’t you just always speak against your packmates, then? Wouldn’t that be a satisfactory solution? There would be no risk of absolute dominance, and it would fulfill your role of the questioner, would it not?”

[ This was BWF’s Manip + Subt roll:

Ivan Press
Mon 3:09 am
Roll valid
to Hilary Durante
[for bwf!]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 2, 2, 5, 6, 8 (Success x 1 at target 6)

You can roll against it with percep + subt to simply detect falsehood/deception, or you can try percep + empathy to figure out what the underlying truth is. Or both!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The words from Balance Without Fault draw pause from the Strider. She’s got a very good face on at the moment‚Ķhaving something to do gives her a chance to forget that she’s had trouble sleeping since Wednesday, had her own personal things she’s working out in her head. The more she’s goal-focused, the more she’s able to focus on being the Sarita she needs to be.

However, she isn’t perfect, and perhaps it‚Äôs the mental blow that she’s been suffering that causes her radar to go off and read the authenticity of his words entirely wrong. She cocks an eyebrow, arms crossing over her chest.

“I could do that. I suppose you’re right, it would prevent absolute dominance. But let’s look at that, play a little Devil’s advocate.” She smiles a little. “Since that’s what I’m supposed to be doing anyway.”

“Throwing a monkeywrench into all their plans would sure as hell make certain that the pack wasn’t controlling the direction of the Sept. But isn’t that just another form of a status quo? That runs pretty much counter to what I’m supposed to be doing. It’ll just get us set into a different but equally stagnant way, and in that case I’m not doing my job. Nor is the Sept benefitting. They shouldn’t be able to count against me any more than they can be sure I’m going to just fall in line. A Ragabash Elder needs to be of their own thoughts, not controlled by anyone, and if I get the spot, no one’s gonna escape the old Strider crosshairs without at least a little consideration‚ĶLukas, Kate, Adamidas, Matthieu or even you.”

The smile twists into something a bit lopsided, and she shrugs.

“With that in mind I gotta say, Rhya‚Ķcan’t really get on board with it. So if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m probably not your gal.”

[Balance Without Fault] Balance bows his head a moment, considering the dirt at his feet. Then:

“Part three. A professional blogger interested in paranormal affairs has an office on the 3rd floor of the [x building], located at [this address in bronzeville]. One of our enemies has FedEx’d him an SD card loaded with potentially veil-damaging photos. The package is currently locked in his inbox. He’ll check first thing in the morning.

“I’ll give you three hours to retrieve the package. After that, your challenge is dismissed, and Evens the Odds’ Ragabash will handle the matter.

“You may use whatever gifts, fetishes, talens, tools, strategies, and/or resources at your disposal. You may begin – now.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens quietly to what he says, commits the information to memory. The location, the details‚Ķall of it. As soon as he says “Now,” she’s jogging away, giving him a grin.

She heads back to the loft, grabbing a couple of talens‚ÄĒa Chiropteran Spy and a Nightshade‚ÄĒout of the chest at the Loft. And with that done, she takes off toward the building in question, picking up her phone and dialing up her private detective friend.

“Hey, Richard‚Ķs’up, sexy? It’s Sarita. Yeah, you too jackass.” It’s fondly said, and with a grin.

“Listen‚ĶI need your help. Remember that thing that I do, that you don’t ask questions about? Yes, the one that the cops don’t need to know that I make money off of. Well, turns out someone has something on me that I need to obtain. Can you do me a favor and do a quick check in your awesome civil databases that you have P.I. access to, see if [address] has any active and registered security systems?”

She grins. “I’ll love you forever…”

Logs of the mission:

[paratracker.com] [abbreviated rules!
– IC post in

[paratracker.com] Continuing from forums then —

Roll Investigation + Clout to get info!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Clout+Investigation]]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] [ WTF. okay, rules weren’t supposed to be THAT abbreviated.

– IC post in 10 min or less if we’re not rolling (if you IC post at all — I’m just gonna OOC it cuz I’m tiredlazy!)
– Roll in 2 min or less.
– There is no set way to win, nor to lose. However, failure is possible, and can be dangerous!
– That said, it’s also possible to recover from a misstep.
– All in all, feel free to be creative; I’ll adapt to what Sarita does! ]

Now then! Roll Investigation + Clout to get info from the contact *LOL*

[paratracker.com] Sarita finds out that the building in question has 3 entrances (front back and side). Security cameras monitoring each entrance and some interior halls. A fairly simple, suburb-residential-quality security system monitors the doors and windows.

I’ll sketch a quick map!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Okie. ūüôā *Ponders in the meantime*

[paratracker.com] (http://i24.servimg.com/u/f24/13/34/10/41/breaki10.jpg)

[paratracker.com] Red X marks the spot
Black X’s are elevators
Blue arrows show field of vision for security cams
All doors/windows are alarmed, but it’s a pretty crappo alarm system.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’ll thank Richard for the information, promise to call him soon, and head on over. This is an office building…are there lights on in the place this late, or just dark with the cameras?

[paratracker.com] There’s a light on. 3rd floor, the office across from the paratracker.com office. Everything else is fairly dark, though emergency lighting is on.

Area looks pretty shady. Trash strewn streets, junky cars, peeling paint and rust on buildings, sirens all night long, etc. Gauntlet is stiff, but not insurmountable (I’ll give you an exact number if you try to cross)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She is gonna peek. If Sept enemies provided this information, they may have something in this area safeguarding it. And she may get lucky and have this building be old enough to exist on the other side.

[paratracker.com] [peek from realm to umbra is +3 diff, so roll gnosis vs diff 10. -1 if you have a mirror.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Yay rearview on the Bitchmobile! GN]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 1, 6, 10 (Success x 1 at target 9) [WP]

[paratracker.com] Nice!

Umbra looks about what you’d expect in Bville. A lot of decay, a lot of despair and impotent anger. Banes, but mostly lowlevel ones, barely sentient. There’s one larger one prowling the premises, but it’s uncertain whether it’s been left there as a guard or not.

Roll percep + alert for more!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Percepty-cepty!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 2, 5, 6, 8, 8 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] It seems to linger on the third story, near the office with the lighted window.

Oh, and — the building has some umbral presence. Not a lot, but some, more on the third floor than lower down. It might even be solid enough to walk through there.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] All right, so something up in that office is keeping an eye on things. That’ll make things fun.

She was hoping to save this, but she needs some more intel on what’s inside that office. She’s using the Chiropteran Spy to check out the building, report back what’s inside in terms of people or other.

[[GN to Activate]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 2, 4, 8 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Spy is active!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s sending it in to look at primarily the third floor. Any people or other life forms up there, particularly in the target office or the office opposite.

Also, while that’s going on…clarification on the map. To access the fire escape, it is necessary to come in view of the camera in front of the first floor door, short of some dextrous maneuvering, yes?

[paratracker.com] Roll me Wits or Intel + Occult or Enigmas, whatever combo is highest.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Intel+Enigmas]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 5, 5, 6, 8, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] The lowest landing of the fire escape is on the second floor. If she doesn’t pull the ladder down and tries to jump straight up onto it, she might be able to stay out of sight of the camera. Other than that, yes, she’d be in the camera’s FOV.

Spy flappities up to third floor. Unable to find an open window (yay air conditioning = sealed windows!), it simply looks in from outside. Soon enough it returns and reports that all offices are empty except for the lit one. Through a lot of spirit gibberish and confusion — what do bat-spirits know of modern tech? — Sarita manages to figure out there’s a dude in the office across from paratracker.com, working on his computer. He’s typing very, very, very fast. The talen-spirit is disturbed by this dude and doesn’t want to have to go near him again.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She thanks the little guy and has him keep a look out on the outside, find her and warn her if anything similarly disturbing shows up. And she’s going to go look for the outside circuit box, if there is one. It’s her first good chance of bypassing the alarm system.

[paratracker.com] Crappp it wasn’t refreshing. Little guy takes a post on the streetlamp.

Percep + Investigation to find a circuit breaker box outside!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa]
Dice Rolled:[ 4 d10 ] 3, 7, 8, 8 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] No breaker box, but the wires run aboveground here. She could snip the one that looks like it goes to this building if she wanted…

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Hmm, but just snipping the wire could shut off all the power, which could trigger the alarms anyway.

She’s gonna go to one of the windows on the bottom floor, check and see if she can tell how the alarms are triggered when a window is open (sensors being lined up, wires, etc.) that will give her a better idea.

[paratracker.com] Percep/Intel + Streetwise/Science, whichever is highest!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Per+SW
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 1, 4, 7, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Looks very simple – just optical sensors that get blocked when the window is opened past a certain point. Other than that, the locks are just catches. The windows open by flapping out and up. Due to the fulcrum being pretty far at the end, she could probably open it 2-3 inches without triggering the alarm if she’s careful (Dex + Streetwise or at a higher diff, Survival)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Man, what she wouldn’t give for Jam Tech. Okay. She’s gonna be alike an octopus, trying to feel out the weaknesses of the damned bottle so she can get in and eat the fish. If you’ve ever seen Deep Rising, that sentence may make sense. But there’s one other spot that she hasn’t considered, and that’s roof entry. So she’s looking for a strong-looking drainage pipe before she goes all-or-nothing and tries to jump onto the fire escape.

[paratracker.com] There are drainage pipes aplenty. Dex + Ath vs diff 7 to climb; an add’l Dex + Stealth vs diff 8 to do it relatively quietly!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And now it’s time for some Gift Rolling before this whole Mission Impossible stung First Silence! Dex+Stealth
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Next Up, Blur of Milky Eye!
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 4, 6, 7, 7, 8, 10 (Success x 2 at target 8 )

[paratracker.com] [Silence negates need for the dex+stealth vs diff 8 roll!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And now Dex+Ath vs. 7…
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 5, 6, 7, 7, 8 (Success x 3 at target 7)

[paratracker.com] Up she goes. Easy climb. We’ll say she’s going up the right side of the building on the map. She can stop and look in the windows if she wants, but it’ll confirm what the spy told her – all offices empty. A lot of small struggling businesses here, Great Ideas that never really took spark. paratracker.com’s office is tiny and dingy and crammed with files, books, photocopies, and burger wrappers. There’s a picture tacked onto a corkboard of a man, a woman, two kids, all of them smiling and chubby. Looks like they’re at Disneyland.

Roof is empty. There’s an attic door, a ventilation shaft, and the fire escape just over the edge.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Looking at the attic door, see if it’s alarmed as well. [[Per+SW, smack me if I should be rolling something else]]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 4, 7, 7, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Oops. Looks like Advantage forgot an entrance! (No alarm)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Hee. Silly security people. Nobody expects the Strider Inquisition! She gives a quick look around, and then a little Open Seal to get her in.
[[Gnosis]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 1, 5, 9 (Success x 1 at target 7) [WP]

[paratracker.com] Pop! Lock’s open. Dex + Stealth to ease that creaky bastard open without making noise (sorry, Silence doesn’t cover incidentals!)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Deximus + Stealthimus
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6, 8, 10, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6) Re-rolls: 2

[paratracker.com] Open without a sound! Dropping down doesn’t make a sound either. Attic is dusty as hell. Hope you don’t have allergies. It appears to run through most of the third story, though ventilation pipes are obviously closed off. There are ceiling panels though. How good’s your mental map?

(Intel + Streetwise/Investigation, whichever is higher)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Int+SW; This is 3rd WP. Noted so I can keep track!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 3, 4, 4, 4, 7, 8 (Success x 2 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] 3 suxx, not 2!

How nice do we wanna be? Odds – nice. Evens – not nice.
Dice Rolled:[ 1 d10 ] 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Lucky you!

There’s a trapdoor right over the red X. Another one in the corner office (front left corner) and another in the lit office.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Carefully…CAREFULLY open that sumbitch up and slide on in. [[At least one Dex+Stealth, I’m assuming?]]
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 7, 10 (Success x 2 at target 6) Re-rolls: 1

[paratracker.com] [that wasn’t as good. do the neighbors hear? — sound, not vision, no blur bonus.]
Dice Rolled:[ 4 d10 ] 1, 2, 6, 9 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Typing next door — which is frenetically fast, so fast the keystrokes blur together, what the hell could he be writing? — stops for a tick. Then continues again. Ceiling panel as been removed. Sarita can drop down soundlessly, but don’t land on a rustly pile of loose papers or burger wrappers!

[Wits + Stealth to land right!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Wits+Stealth!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 2, 3, 9, 9, 10 (Success x 3 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] Nice landing. Office is all crowded. Smells like unwashed geek. Ratty old books everywhere, stuff like VAMPIRE COMPENDIUM and ELVES: FACT OR FICTION? and THINGS THAT GO BUMP. Also lots and lots of papers from very questionable journals. Oh, and those ubiquitous burger wrappers. Computer is old, 2004 at best, small form factor and sitting on the desk, which is also totally crowded with supernatural “research”. Keyboard looks sticky, and so does the phone. Message indicator is blinking 2 new messages. Lots of typing going on across the hall, noisy enough to vibrate through the walls.

[paratracker.com] Intel + Investigation or Science to figure out how to program the VCR. Or, y’know. Listen through receiver.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Ugh. Idiot X-Files freaks. She looks around, then leans down to look at the answering machine and figure this stupid thing out.

[[Int+Inv]]
Dice Rolled:[ 4 d10 ] 1, 2, 7, 8 (Success x 1 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] She comes perilously close to letting that thing squawk into the room. It actually starts hissing dead-air when Sarita hits the STOP button, then pushes a few more, then finally gets it right.

First message is boring, wife asking when he’s coming home. Second one is a distorted voice, probably run through some anonymizer. Wants to know if he’s gotten the package, and to contact “them” at (this number) if he wants more where it came from.

[Intel + Streetwise for a chance at more info!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Int+SW]]
Dice Rolled:[ 6 d10 ] 2, 4, 6, 6, 9, 10 (Success x 4 at target 6)

[paratracker.com] She hasn’t been in the area long, but that sharp mind of hers has osmosed area codes and prefixes. That number comes from a swanky part of town — north shore, home of intimidatingly huge houses and country clubs and rich rich people. It’s a landline, not a cell phone. Also probably not the number attached to typomaniac next door — that guy’s a whole different can of worms.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks around, grabs a piece of paper and writes down the number, just in case committing it into memory isn’t good enough. And then she starts looking for the damned package.

[paratracker.com] Open seal to unlock desk, then Dex+Stealth vs diff 8 to dig around without anything rattling, crunching, plinking or thudding.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Open Seal]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 1, 5, 7 (Failure at target 7)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Trying again at higher diff! WP +4]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 1, 6, 7 (Failure at target 8 ) [WP]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Oh fuck’s sake]]

[paratracker.com] [Wits + Streetwise to do this the old fashioned way! Diff 7.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Wits+SW]]
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 2, 6, 7, 8, 8 (Success x 3 at target 7)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Dex+Stealth
Dice Rolled:[ 7 d10 ] 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Success x 1 at target 8 )

[paratracker.com] Nice lockpickin’. Close call on the searching though. All sorts of random shit in there. Pens. Pencils. Pencil sharpener. Ruler. Stapler. Magnifying glass. Stickie notes. Slinky toy. CD holder. Envelopes. Rubik’s cube. An old Playboy. A can of air duster. A stuffed koala bear that SQUEAKS — or almost squeaked —

and an overnight envelope from FedEx. Return address is the same as mailing address, and both are this building, this room.

[paratracker.com] [+1 WP for successfully getting the package!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] All right, time to try and exit the way we came, since out the door still leaves us with potentially tricky alarms and Sarita is not a bomb squad person! First off, Dex+Ath!
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 1, 7, 8, 8, 9 (Success x 2 at target 8 )

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And pulling up! Str+Ath!
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 2, 6, 7 (Success x 2 at target 7) [WP]

[paratracker.com] Safe in the attic again!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And back to the roof we’re headed. Nasty fucker may warrant more attention later, but he’s still an unknown quantity and dealing with him may screw the retrieval mission. So she’s headed back to the roof, and down the pipe.

[paratracker.com] One str+ath (diff 7) to get out of the attic the same way, and then a dex+ath (diff 4) to shimmy down the drainpipe!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Str+Ath
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 1, 4, 8 (Failure at target 7)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Higher diff, dammit!]]
Dice Rolled:[ 3 d10 ] 2, 6, 8 (Success x 2 at target 8 ) [WP]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And Dex+Ath
Dice Rolled:[ 5 d10 ] 5, 6, 8, 8, 9 (Success x 5 at target 4)

[paratracker.com] WPless, but package in hand and home free! Back to the boards with thee. I’ll post up this transcript for those interested.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Woot!

[paratracker.com] [Exeunt!]

[Balance Without Fault] Not an easy task. Lots of close calls. When Sarita returns to the Caern, she’s utterly drained; probably wants nothing more than to fall into bed and sleep for a few days.

Balance is still waiting for her, though. The challenge circle remains unbroken. And he doesn’t give her a moment’s rest.

“Welcome back,” he greets her. “Report.”

[For the record: Truth of Gaia is active.]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Sarita looks exhausted, a little wobbly on her feet. She rubs the side of her face as she approaches Balance Without Fault, holding SD card. When the Grand Elder greets her and asks for her report, she straightens a little bit, shaking off the weariness for a moment.

“Whoo boy‚Ķokay. So, on the way to the location you gave me, I called up a contact of mine, got the security layout for the place. Stopped by Katherine’s loft and picked up a couple of talens for pack use that might do me well‚Ķa Chiropteran Spy and Nightshade. As it turned out, the Spy was useful, the Nightshade not needed.

“Once I got to the location, it was evident that the information I’d gotten from my source panned out. Security cameras, nothing particularly fancy but pretty extensive to prevent people getting in. The lights were more or less out, with the exception of one office across from Mr. “I Want To Believe.” Peeking across the Gauntlet showed a few Banes, only one that was anything to speak of. It was creeping around the place, bein’ a creeper.”

She pauses, there, looking down at the SD card with a bit of a frown before she looks back.

“That office across from the blogger’s got someone‚Ķless than normal inside of it. It needs to be checked out‚ĶI would have done it myself, but I was fairly spent and I figured retrieving the card was more time-critical. Judgment call. I’d be happy to go out with whoever might be sent.

“Anyway, I used the Spy to check the place out; it confirmed that there was something off about the guy. Had it do some guard duty while I checked out the security a bit closer‚Ķwindows, circuit box, anything like that. Dropped into Silence and Blur of the Milky Eye, then decided to go pipe-climbing to the roof, found an in there that took me into the building. The crawlspace had a dropdown directly into the blogger’s office.

“Once I was inside, I did a little bit of checking. There wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do with the potentially Wyrm-ridden guy typing away right next door, but I checked phone messages‚Ķour boy got a call from the people who sent it, promising that there was more if they wanted it.”

She pulls out the scrap of paper with the phone number on it. “This is the number that they left. Sounds like one of those ritzy posh areas. I got into the desk, grabbed the envelope, then came back the way I went.”

She shrugs. “Outside of this and whatever our enemies are trying to pass over, there’s not a hell of a lot that he has that seems legit. Alternative press bullshit, the usual. He’s an idiot who’s read too damned much Dylan Dog or some other bullshit comic book. If we take care of the source and strike out the guy in the other office, we should be fine.”

She holds up the SD card. “There ya go. I’m sure that can be analyzed or some sort of thing to get some info on who sent it.”

[Balance Without Fault] Anyone can see Sarita is exhausted. And there are watchers now – curious parties drifting by to see what was going on. She can see the Ragabash Guardian in the audience. He raises a hand in a friendly wave as she looks his way.

Then it’s Balance Without Fault, it’s her report, it’s the events of the night laid out and laid bare for inspection.

The Grand Elder listens carefully to every word. He weighs every word for truth, not because he distrusts this particular Ragabash but because that is his job. He listens to her explain her setup, her entry, the office next door, the extraction, the exit. Even more keenly, he listens to her rationale. Her reasons. Why she did what she did. Why she didn’t do what she didn’t do.

When she’s done, Balance holds his hand out for the SD card, turns the small thing over in his hand a few times, then tosses it to the Ragabash Guardian.

“If you were the Ragabash Elder, leader of our scouts,” he says, “what would your next move be?”

[Sinclair] There’s an unexpected party that’s come drifting over to watch the rest of the challenge. Around Sinclair there’s a faint smell of ozone, her eyes a bit brighter than usual, like she’s high on something, the edges of her body jazzed somehow — that all may be illusion. No one in Chicago has seen her since she skipped town early one morning to drive to San Diego, but here she is.

Poor Lucille, dropping the phone in the Loft when visible electricity and soundwaves leapt out of the handset and conformed themselves in midair to the shape of the Galliard.

Someone — maybe Lukas — asked her why she didn’t just call a phone at the Caern. Reason the first: she’s not sure anyone would pick up. Reason the second: That just seems wrong, y’know, like… apparating inside Hogwarts or something.

She’s not here to stay for more than a matter of hours, she told them through Perun, but she zapped her and drove to the Caern and walked up to this particular challenge circle tonight to stand and watch, observe, remember. Her long hair is down, arms crossed over her shoulders. There’s a bright blue streak in that hair now, and a braid to the left side of her face that’s got a couple of beads and a feather hanging at the end. Sinclair catches Sarita’s eye sometime during her report.

Winks.

[Milo Sweeney] Among the onlookers come to watch this challenge, there’s a relative newcomer in the crowd. He doesn’t exactly blend in today, because Maelstrom is a relatively small sept. Even so, Milo keeps out of the way, nondescript in boring dark colors, hands resting in the pockets of his zipped up hoodie.

He didn’t come here specifically to watch. Still without a pack, the quiet Gaian pulls his weight anyway, helping out the Theurges that tend the land, and he scouts the area surrounding the Caern, including that notorious construction site.

On his way back through, the commotion at the challenge circle caught his attention. Curiosity tugging him relentlessly, he goes to watch how challenges are handled here. He recognizes Sarita, vaguely, from when he stayed at The Brotherhood before. He remembers she always had a friendly word when they passed each other in the hall.

Shifting around the small collection of onlookers, Milo makes his way a little closer, for a better look. He doesn’t wink, should she happen to look his way, but if she does he tips his chin up, mouth quirked in a slight smile.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She doesn’t notice Milo show up; she’s too damn tired, both mentally and physically, to do so. If she did, he’d get a quick smile and a wink, but alas. She does however feel the pricking of a pack member drawing close, and is surprised, momentarily pausing, when she realizes that it’s neither Lukas nor Katherine. In that moment of surprise there are no words over the pack link, just gratitude.

That momentary pause also has her considering her answer. She runs a hand through her hair, fingers clenching to gather it together right at the back of her skull as she purses her lips.

“I’d have that SD card analyzed, see if there’s any infosend a pack out to do a fuller assessment and based on that, if they thought they could handle it, as quiet of a removal of the bane if possible. One that’s balanced, has a Theurge in it at least for the extra spirit dealing-with mojo. If there’re no packs immediately available, a grouping of whoever’s available. Give Derek or Izzy a call, have them run the phone number of the guy who called our boy the Frog Broth‚Ķerr, the ghosthunter. That would give us an address we could stake out, and give us an idea of where we could go from there.”

She pauses and points at the SD card in the Guardian’s hand. “I’d also have the data on that SD card checked out, see if there’s any information on there that helps us identify the source. Might not help, but you never know.

“The one at the office would have to be done really quietly. The guy in the office across from Blogger Boy didn’t seem to necessarily be the same kind of nasty as we had shining a light on our dubious affairs, but that doesn’t mean the two aren’t related. If we already have someone in place staking out the address, then any reaction from the elimination of Typity-Type could betray some sort of information in the Master Plan, so to speak.”

She nods. “So yeah. Two-pronged situation, to deal with one‚ÄĒmaybe two‚ÄĒpossible threats. That’s the way I’d go.”

[Balance Without Fault] There’s no pause. No deep breath before the plunge. No drumroll before the envelope is opened. As soon as Sarita finishes, Balance speaks the verdict.

“Sarita Echoes-of-Laughter, you have proven yourself a worthy successor to Laughs in the Face of Death.”

That’s not where it ends. There’s no room for celebration yet; no deep breath of relief. No time for that. He continues immediately — levelly, pitilessly, dissecting each moment of her performance tonight. Point by point. Action by action.

“In the single question you asked of Janis Ian,” he says, “you did not attack her, though you could have. You aimed at yourself instead, and that takes courage. It’s also a necessity. No Ragabash can hope to question others if they do not question themselves first.

“Too often young Ragabashes forget that their role is not an excuse to be disrespectful, rebellious, or arrogant. A Ragabash does not question because she are always right, and everyone else is always wrong. She questions because that is her duty, and because by doing so, she strengthens the pack, the Sept, and the Nation.

“You did not forget that tonight, Sarita. Well done.

“What you did forget was to listen carefully; to pay attention. And what I said then is still true. A good Ragabash must listen carefully before she speaks. If your job is to find the weakness in any argument, any plan, then you must know the argument and the plan as well as its proposer. Poorly done.

“That said, that test was not wholly fair. But it was never meant to be. I wanted to test your wits and your ears. But even more, I wanted to test how you would respond to a setback. I wanted to see if you would grow sullen or combatative. If you would argue, or sulk.

“You did not. You responded with courage and good humor. With intelligence, and with tenacity. Well done.

“The concern that your sitting the Auspice Council may unbalance things in your pack’s favor is a valid one. It is also one that will continue to dog you, I suspect, long after this challenge. You have defended yourself well tonight, but words are words. You will need to defend yourself again and again against this charge. You will have to prove with your actions that you are capable of thinking for yourself. That when you speak with the Ahroun and Philodox elders, you are not blindly following. That when you speak against them, you are not blindly rebelling.

“You have taken one step toward that proof tonight. You rejected my flatly ludicrous demand that you always speak against your pack. I don’t think you ever realized my true intentions, and a Ragabash Alpha will have to be sharper than that — but perhaps that made your trial by fire all the more telling. Even when you thought I, the Grand Elder of the Sept, demanded this of you; even when you must have thought I might fail you for refusing, you refused.

“Politely. Respectfully. But with the same courage and good humor you have shown throughout this challenge. Well done.

“Those were all tests of your social abilities as Ragabash Alpha. But we are a Sept of war, and at war. Your abilities as the scoutmaster will be just as important, if not more so. You will need to rally and direct the Ragabashes — a task often harder than herding cats. You cannot hope to do that if you do not first prove yourself an adept scout yourself.

“That was the purpose of the final part of this challenge. You were tasked to retrieve a sensitive item. It was an urgent matter, and I was glad to see you wasted no time, and that you were clever and resourceful in your solution to the problem.

“Still, when offered any resource you could gather, you forgot the single most important resource of all: your allies. You could have asked the help of your packmates. Other Ragabashes. Even Broken Glass, the Ragabash who first unearthed this situation. You are a Strider, and perhaps accustomed to working alone — but you have chosen to join this Sept, and you are challenging to lead its Ragabashes. A good leader doesn’t merely dominate; she guides, and shapes, and weaves her followers into a coherent whole.

“Perhaps that, too, is an unfair expectation. After all, you were in the middle of a challenge, and perhaps you thought that you would fail if you did not go alone. Still; this is something you will have to keep in mind from here on out.

“As for the mission itself: you proved yourself a more than capable scout tonight. You accomplished the task I laid before you, as I suspected you might. You retrieved the flashdrive. You even unearthed its source. Well done.

“But as you may have already guessed, that was not the true test. We knew, long before I sent you in, of the man across the office and the bane that follows him about. I withheld this information to see what you, alone in the field with a time-sensitive mission, would do in response. And more importantly, why.

“Had you attacked blindly without concern for your mission, you would have failed. We have no use for a stupid Ragabash Alpha. Had you ignored the situation simply because you were not instructed to take care of it, you would have failed. We have no use for a Ragabash Alpha who cannot think for herself.

“Had you decided the threat was too great not to investigate, and investigate now, you may well have succeeded all the same. But in the end, you decided it was more important to return to the Sept with the stolen data before the workday begins. You decided that your given mission was more time-sensitive, but you did not forget about the snag. You gave your reasons clearly, without attempting to spin it in your favor. You have a clear plan of action for dealing with the additional confounding factor.

“That is completely valid, and shows sound judgment and wisdom on your part. Well done.

“One final detail, then. When you spoke of your next plans, you laid forth intelligent and sound ideas. However, don’t forget that your role as the scoutmaster of this Sept requires you to disseminate information to the other Elders; to hear their input; to formulate a cohesive response.

“I trust your judgment and your expertise. I know in an emergency, you will act quickly and with cunning. That is why you have proven worthy of the position you seek. But there is no room for uncertain plans and weak alliances in this Sept. As the old human adage goes, we must stand together or die alone.”

At last, a pause. Balance Without Fault rotates his head on his shoulders, cracking his vertebrae. Then, with a ring of formality in his voice:

“Echoes of Laughter, knowing now the full burden of your duties and responsibilities, do you still seek the position of Ragabash Elder of Maelstrom?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] There may not be time for a breath of relief before Balance Without Fault starts assessing, but one is taken just the same. She couldn’t have avoided it even if she’d tried. The tension in her shoulders, running down her spine doesn’t vanish, but does alleviate somewhat as the pressure of at least a couple details, like “Whoops, lost us the totem, guys” vanishes into the ether.

That moment is purposefully kept short-lived, though. The Grand Elder goes into his assessment, and she listens. She hears the points she did well, and the places where she slipped up. There is a hint of a grin, tired as it is, when the Glass Walker mentions that the datacard was not the true test. Not a ‘I’m so cool for realizing,’ but an appreciation of the ruse. It’s exactly the sort of thing that a No-Moon should appreciate, after all.

Her praises get little nods, maybe a smile here or there when something she wasn’t totally sure about‚ÄĒthe assertion regarding going against her packmates, or her decision to return instead of learning more about the bane‚ÄĒis detailed. The critiques, the things she could have done better‚Ķshe listens, and she nods. The idea of going to others in the Sept for aid gets a look on her face‚ÄĒthe kind that you would expect someone to get when they knew they had the right answer on Jeopardy! but went for something else instead. But in all she listens, she files away as lessons learned.

Then he straightens. And he asks her if she still seeks the position. And she understands why‚Ķafter all of this, some people might actually say no, thinking it’s too much.

She doesn’t say no. She just nods, and speaks four words.

“That I do, Rhya.”

‚Ķhey, a simple “Yes” would have been too straight-forward. This is Sarita, after all.

[Balance Without Fault] “Then it is yours.”

Balance Without Fault takes a step backward, his heel deliberately breaking through the challenge circle. He turns to the onlookers – raising his voice loud and clear.

“Wolves of the Maelstrom: your Ragabash Elder, Echoes of Laughter.”

[excellent challenge, all! thanks for participating! i’ll leave this post in this forum for a while longer, then move it into moot forums since this sort of thing usually happens at moots.]

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine has approached, toward the end of things. She brushes against her sister who also watches; a hand briefly twitching one of Sinclair’s fingertips in a wordless hello before she turns her eyes on the Challenge Circle.

Watchful.
Waiting.

When Balance Without Fault officially names her sister the Ragabash Elder; the Silver Fang’s smile is genteel in its pleasure. Ever dignified, that was Katherine. “Well done, Ragabash Elder for Maelstrom.” She greets her with the new title, her warmth tinged with a pack-mate’s tease.

[Lukas Wyrmbringer] Lukas did, indeed, want to know why Sinclair hadn’t just call someone at the Caern. Sinclair explained it in Harry Potter terms; this led to a conversation in his car, en route from Loft to Caern, about how lame or awesome each of the HP movies were.

“I can’t wait for the next one,” he confesses, pulling the chainlink fence open to slip through into the bawn,

and out of mortal sight.

Later, much later:

Of all the packmates, Wyrmbreaker is the only one tonight who’s chosen to take his animal form. It’s cold, after all, and he walked out in his pajamas. When that first thrill of mingled excitement and relief comes across the totemlink, the black wolf’s ears prick. When the final question is asked, he shifts where he sits, front paws stamping back and forth once or twice.

Then Sarita accepts. And he rises to his feet, ready. When Balance Without Fault breaks the line, the black wolf bounds forward, rears up on his hind legs to plant big muddy paws on Sarita’s shoulders. Whuf! he says, closes his teeth lightly and affectionately on his packmate’s — well. Her face. It’s a gentle gesture, though, and brief. A moment later he drops down. He circles around his packmates a few times as though to keep them, protect them, ward them, then sits, lolling his tongue out.

In this form, even his thoughts are feral and fragmentary:

Good words. Clever scout! Proud!

[Milo Sweeney] Milo listens to the Grand Elder’s words as he details where Sarita went right and where she went wrong, his eyes on the Strider. Her humor in the face of it all, weary as it is, is a relief to see. That she doesn’t sulk or flail about or make excuses for a misstep or a thing overlooked. And also that she doesn’t preen when she receives praise.

His mouth quirks when she says those four words. Congratulations will wait for another time, though, maybe when Sarita’s had some sleep. Now, her packmates go to her, and the quiet Child of Gaia slips away.

[Sinclair] Perhaps due to the nature of her auspice, Sinclair is silent and steady for the remainder of the challenge after that wink given to Sarita. She flicks Kate’s fingertips back, a subtle hello, but otherwise she’s watching Balance Without Fault and Echoes of Laughter. She stands by Lukas’s lupus form, but she understands the words the Grand Elder and Ragabash use better when she’s like this without the urges and instincts of a wolf’s body tugging at her.

She’d remember it just as well if she were in lupus. She’d remember it differently, though.

Of all the Unbroken, her reaction is the quietest. The two Adrens move forward to congratulate Sarita, one tidily and one muddily, one with a tease, one with a nomf to the face. Sinclair hangs back a bit, then walks forward. She’s taking a breath, letting go the role, hanging onto the challenge for later to write it all down, but as she comes over to her pack she grins. Her hand drops and scritches Lukas’s neck and behind his ear affectionately as he circles them — happily, proudly, protectively.

She gives the Strider a tight, quick hug. “You kicked ass,” she tells her while she squeezes her, offhand, as though implying that it’s so obvious it goes without saying. Letting her go, she swings around and claps her hands on Kate and Sarita’s backs, slings her arms around their shoulders. “Lukas, putcher manface back on. I got til eight a.m. central before I have a phone call to catch back to San Diego, so we’re gonna go get wasted. Champagne for Kate, vodka for you, Hpnotiq for me, and…Idaknow, we gotta figure out what the Strider tribal booze is.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] When the announcement is made, she finally relaxes, slumping a bit. Katherine greets her by title and a smile; Lukas puts lupine paws on her shoulder and bites her face. They’re a varied pack, you see. Sarita almost stumbles at the sudden gesture, laughing a bit. She finally notices Milo, giving him a little nod as he departs just before Sinclair comes up. She’s pulled out her cheapo ancient cellphone and sending a text‚ÄĒpoorly‚ÄĒwhen Sinclair comings up and hugs her.

“Thanks, guys.” She rubs at her eyes, and smirks at the question of Strider tribal booze.

“I don’t know what it is worldwide, I ain’t society enough to know what Egyptian booze there is. But here in Chicago, I decree it’s freakin’ Jimmy Cuervo.” She chuckles, the blinks and shakes her head.

“Let’s do it.” And after a nod of respect to the Grand Elder, she turns to leave with her pack, texting badly along the way.

What’s Going On?

Amunet Trujillo: She’s there in pretty good time, ringing the bell and praying to god that Sarita is the one that answers the door.

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: The door is actually answered by Lucille, the Hispanic housekeeper who takes care of the place. She looks Amy over and tells her that Miss Sarita is in the garage, clanking about with something, and directs her how to get there.

Amunet Trujillo: Better than she expected, and she makes her way to the garage to lean in the doorway, watching her sister.

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: The Bitchmobile is in the garage at the moment, looking insanely out of place next to the sports bike and the Bentley that are sitting in there as well. Truth be told, Sarita usually partks her vehicle on the street so that she doesn’t have to worry about garage doors or the like. Today though, when Amy comes in, she sees Sarita…or rather, half of her…sticking out from underneath the van. Working on her car is a calming thing for the Strider, and it’s something that she enjoys doing. And clearly, now is one of those times that she’s indulging.

Amunet Trujillo: She comes over and sits on the floor, close enough that she can hand Sar any tools she might need. “Everything looking okay?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Yeah…” She said it semi-grumblingly, reaching up to tighten a bolt in the undercariiage. “As it turns out when I went out driving the other night, I banged up the bottom of the poor girl a little bit. Nothing bad, just threw a few things out of whack.”

Amunet Trujillo: “You shouldn’t have been driving.” Understatement much? “What the fuck was that about, anyway?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I was sober when I was driving, Amy. Just fuckin’ exhausted.” She pushes out from under the van, frowning. “I…got a little fucked-up in the head the night before.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Why?” Her knees are drawn up under her chin, arms wrapped around her shins.

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She leans back on the van, running a hand through her hair with a frown. “Kate, Adara and I were on guard duty and got sent out to deal with a threat. Couple Spirals, no biggie. “And then…this robot thing popped up. Some corrupted Weaver shit. We were kicking its ass, and it sent out some kind of mental kablooey. Showed me all sorts of shit that might have been.” She shivers, looking off at a spot on the wall. “It really fucked me up.”

Amunet Trujillo: She chews her bottom lip for a second. “What kind of shit?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Bad shit.” She swallows hard. “Basically, you getting all sorts of fucked up and then some.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Nothing is going to happen to me, Sar.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “No, probably not.” She nods, frowning slightly. “But it could have.”

A long pause, and she shakes her head. “Anyway. I’ve been having nightmares about it all week. Haven’t been able to get barely any sleep. I just…wasn’t ready for that on Thursday, so I found a place to park and tried to drink my way into not having any dreams. Unfortunately for you, my phone was still in reach.”

Amunet Trujillo: She scoots closer, leaning half on the van and half onto her sister. “You sounded pretty fucking panicked. And you threatened Stefan.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She sighs, counterleaning. “I don’t even remember any of that. I barely remember calling you.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I didn’t figure you would. You haven’t been that drunk in a long time”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “No…no, I haven’t.” She frowns. “Lukas seemed worried that I’d gotten that drunk, to be honest.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I don’t blame him.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I know. It wasn’t any kind of alcoholic shit though. You know me better than that.

Amunet Trujillo: “I know. As long as you don’t start making a habit of it, you know?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Christ, I hope not. The sooner these fucking dreams end, the better.”

Amunet Trujillo: “How many have you had?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Nightmares? At least one or two a night.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Why the fuck are you not taking something to knock your ass out?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Because drinking myself into non-dreaming didn’t work.”

Amunet Trujillo: “So I’m assuming that smoking it out doesn’t work either?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She snorts and chuckles. “Jesus, I wish.”

Amunet Trujillo: She reaches up to pet Sar’s hair. “You want to come stay at the condo? We can slumber party it for a couple nights.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She thinks about it, frowning. “Maybe. I don’t know. Can Sparky the WonderTheurge deal with random screaming in the night?”

Amunet Trujillo: “What the fuck was that for?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “What?” She frowns. “I’m saying that I’m waking up screaming, Amy. Jesus.”

Amunet Trujillo: She scowls but lets it go. “It won’t be a big deal.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Hey, the day I stop giving your significant others funny pet names is the day I stop breathing.” A faint smile. She’s trying.

Amunet Trujillo: “Other. Singular now.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Other.” She nods. “Sorry.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Nothing to be sorry for. I don’t expect you to be any more used to it than I am”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Sparky the WonderTheurge isn’t too bad of a name, though. Ya gotta admit.”

Amunet Trujillo: She laughs softly “Yeah. Better than some of the other ones you’ve come up with.” She sits up a little, watching her for a moment. “All the shit that happened…. you know it’s not your fault, right?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She frowns. “Maybe. I could have prevented it, though. In part, at the very least.”

Amunet Trujillo: “How?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Trusted my instincts and said ‘Fuck you’ to the idea of you being involved with Leon. Not let Hunter and John get me so damn turned around that I bought into the idea that Kate would have given a shit whether you guys were involved or not. There’s two off the top of my head.”

Amunet Trujillo: “You know that unless you threw a fit, I would have probably been with Leon anyway. And do your really think for a second she wouldn’t have thrown a shit fit if she’d known? People still would, even though he’s gone.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Yeah, I do. I’ve spoken with them about it. They may not have been lining up to cheer, but it was no one’s business but yours, his and mine as your Elder.”

Amunet Trujillo: She looks struck, teeth catching her bottom lip, voice very small. “Oh.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She winces. “Shit.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Well. That would have changed things…

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I’m sorry, Amy. Yeah, I only realized this after the fact. So it is my fault. I should have known better.”

Amunet Trujillo: “How would you know better? He was right, if this was any other Sept. They never would have let us just be together anywhere else”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Because if nothing else, I should have done the research. Checked Kate out, gotten a better read. I owed you that much.”

Amunet Trujillo: “He wasn’t even sure he wanted to be with me until after the Thunderwyrm thing anyway. And I didn’t really mind hiding out those couple of days before everything went to shit.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “There are things I could have done, though. That’s the point.”

Amunet Trujillo: “There are things I could have done though too. I could have asked you to check it out. I could have gotten my head out of my ass and stopped fighting Hunter so bad earlier. I could have just backed the fuck off of him.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She shrugs. “I’m just saying. You know?”

Amunet Trujillo: “And I’m just saying that if you keep blaming yourself for my dumbshit decisions, you’re in for a long, sad life”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She chuckles slightly at that. “Oh. Yeah, so by the by. Tell your mancandy that Simon might be looking him up. Something about you directly challenging him or some shit. I told him I’d talk to you…blah blah blah…but that he should deal with Stefan.”

Amunet Trujillo: She looks confused for a second, then rolls her eyes. “Why, because I don’t cower in his presence and pointed out that he’s short sighted as fuck?

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Hell if I know. He didn’t tell me specifics.”

Amunet Trujillo: “What a bitch” She leans her head on Sarita’s shoulder again, reaching for her hand. “We went to Madison.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She raises an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Yeah. I wanted to see, you know? Just what it was like.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “So?” She leans against Amy. “What was it like?”

Amunet Trujillo: “It’s nice there. Smaller” She’s quiet for a long moment “I’m glad we didn’t go there.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Yeah.” She nods a little bit. “Me, too.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I almost had you come get me. I was going to talk you into just driving to the west coast and not looking back.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She frowns. “I might have gone, that night.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I was pretty sure you would have.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Good thing we didn’t, then.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Stefan would have freaked out”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “My pack would have, too.”

Amunet Trujillo: “He’s not going to hurt me. I know that everybody thinks he’s some kind of freak, but I know without question that he loves me and that I’m completely safe with him.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She nods a little bit, looking down. “I trust you on that.”

Amunet Trujillo: “He’s the only other one that I’ve ever been sure about”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She smiles, just a little, at that. “Yeah?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Can I tell you something? Just between us?

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Of course, sweetie.”

Amunet Trujillo: She’s quiet for several long seconds, as if she’s hesitant to voice her thoughts. “I don’t think I love him as much as he loves me. And I know I don’t love him as much as I love John. Which is pretty fucking unfair, if you think about it. Especially with as good as he’s been to me with everything.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: Her brow furrows at that…she’s not quite sure what to think about it. “But you do love him, right? I mean, you’re not just using him or anything?”

Amunet Trujillo: “No, I’m not just using him.” She doesn’t even sound offended by the question.

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I notice you didn’t answer that first part, only the second.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I love him. Just….” She shrugs, sighing. “I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Just what?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Just like I said. Not as much. Or at least different.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Well…to be fair, you’ve been through a lot. Maybe that’s why…you’re still processing.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I just feel bad. He’s really good to me.” She sighs, squeezing her hand before letting it go. “Thanks. It feels better, just getting it out there.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “S’what I’m here for.” She smiles a bit and slips an arm around her. “We’re just all sorts fucked, Ames. But we’re fucked together, and that makes it better.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Can’t think of anybody I’d rather be all sorts of fucked with.” She laughs, settling in with her. “You going to come stay for a few nights so I can keep an eye on you?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “You seriously ready to deal with my screaming ass?” She frowns. “I dunno, maybe. It’d be good at least for a night or two. Joey’s left town, I’m gonna challenge for Ragabash Elder.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Yeah?” She pulls back, grinning at her. “Fucking seriously?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She takes a breath and nods. “Dpm

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Don’t get too excited. If I fuck up, my pack’s totem-less for two weeks.”

Amunet Trujillo: “You aren’t going to fuck up. Jesus. I’ve fucked up enough to cover both of us for a while.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “We’ll see. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Test were easier when I could blow some guy to get his answers.”

Amunet Trujillo: That makes her laugh, eyes closed and head shaking. “Fuck you. Now all I can picture is you blowing the Grand Elder.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Oh GOD.” She wrinkls her nose. “Gee, thanks for sharing.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Your fault. No way I’m not sharing that shit.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Still. Ew.”

Amunet Trujillo: “I know!”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Only you would think of that, you know that?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Please. If I’d said it, that’s EXACTLY what you would have said.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Lies.” She grins, though.

Amunet Trujillo: “You’re the liar.” She grins back, untangling to get up. “I’m going to call him and warn him. We should stop and get an air mattress or some shit, and we can camp out in the living room

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “He’s not gonna be pissed?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Not when I tell him what’s going on”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She frowns. “What exactly are you going to tell him?”

Amunet Trujillo: “Um. What do you not want me to tell him?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She frowns. “I don’t know.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Do you care if he knows about the nightmares?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I…not what they are. Don’t tell him that.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Yeah, no. I won’t. Hang on, okay?” She walks outside, dialing Stefan

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She frowns and nods, watching her go.

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: Stefan picks up on the second ring. “Hello my dear.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Hey. Soooo…. I kind of invited Sar to camp out in the living room with me for a couple of nights. She’s got some shit going on.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Okay.” A pause. “What is going on?”

Amunet Trujillo: “There was an incident, and now she’s having nightmares.” A couple of seconds pass, and her voice is quiet when she continues. “I just want to be able to take care of her”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Of course.” Soothing. “I have no problem with that.”

Amunet Trujillo: She takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly “You’re pretty amazing, you know that?”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “She is your sister. Besides, this should equate to goodwill points for me.” The last said in a teasing tone. “She cannot shoot me if I have enough goodwill points.”

Amunet Trujillo: She laughs softly “That’s true. Alright. I’ll be home before too long, then.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I look forward to it.”

Amunet Trujillo: A couple seconds pass before she speaks again. “I love you.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “I love you as well.”

Amunet Trujillo: She hangs up, then goes back into the garage. “We’re all set”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: She nods a little bit and gets up. “Yeah…okay.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Come on. It’ll be fun. We can make cocoa, and braid each other’s hair, and do makeovers and shit. Whatever the fuck is supposed to happen with sleepovers.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Will I sound like an alcoholic if I say I want my cocoa on the rocks with Bailey’s?”

Amunet Trujillo: “I hope not, because that’s pretty much how it’s going to be served.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Fucking awesome.”

Amunet Trujillo: “Come on. Let’s run through Target for shit and go set up camp.”

Sarita Ecos de la Risa: “Sounds good.” She nods and goes to head out with her.

Dude, Where’s My Van?

[Jocelyn Burkhart] As always, there’s no resistance when Gabriel urges her into anything. Her hand jams into her pocket, and she leans into the Philodox for a moment before offering her neck to Kora again.

[Imogen] he was all sad when his guts fell out – This earns a brief, sharp glance from Imogen, a shadow of reaction over her mouth. It is faint and fleeting. An acknowledgement of the absurdity of their world.

Her attention returns to her surroundings. She does not shift or fidget. The conversation merely flows around her, as if she were merely a facet of the scenery rather than a participant.

[Kora] “Stand up straight.” The Skald’s dark eyes cut to Gabriel as he intercepts Jocelyn’s half-chewed thumb, bats it away from her mouth. The corner of her mouth rises, minutely. The expression does not quite find its way to her eyes, though, which are steady and direct. She stands with her feet more than shoulder width apart, her shoulders pulled back to counterbalance the weight of her stomach. Glances back to Jocelyn a moment later.

“The rules are, Jocelyn, you don’t leave my territory or the Caern without my permission unless you are sent under leadership of another Garou to deal with a threat to the Caern.
“There aren’t cupcake exceptions. There aren’t sick visit exceptions. There isn’t even an exception for that fucking Rotagar stuck my kitty hat two feet beyond the boundaries and I want it back. Not without my sayso.

“If you want to visit Gabriel, or buy another idiotic hat and it takes you a half inch outside of those boundaries, you have to come find me first. You’ve earned yourself two more weeks of home confinement before I’ll even consider lifting the restrictions.” A brief pause, and here she flicks a look back to Gabriel. ” – but since you’re here you have my permission to stay until midnight, or until your host wants you gone.”

[Jocelyn Burkhart] Which she clearly expects to be now. Her posture straightens though, eyes still carefully avoiding Kora’s

“Yes Rhya.”

[Lukas] It’s a vaguely bizarre experience to catch an afternoon nap at the Loft and wake up to the sound of strangers downstairs. Some instinctive, primitive part of Wyrmbreaker is instantly alert, instantly bristling, the very second he becomes aware of them. The part of him that’s human, or at least raised amongst humans, keeps him from racing to meet the intruders with teeth bared and hackles raised. Snapping and snarling. Driving them out, out, out of his territory before pissing on the nearest tree to re-mark the boundaries.

He still comes downstairs to see what’s what, though. The Ahroun appears in degrees: bare feet first, then blue jeans. Comfortable and old, not at all the sharp designer gear he wears under tailored vests and button-down shirts sometimes. His t-shirt is logoless, dark brown. His hair is mussed. There’s a crease on his cheek where his face pressed to a seam on the couch.

He stares at them, the Fang and the Fenrir and the cub and the kin. Unsmiling and unblinking, a thoroughly feral regard.

[Gabriel Ferreira] [FYI: we’re outside on the sidewalk.]

[Lukas] [what the hell, liz told me you were in the loft! *kicks* okay, well, he’ll just go stare at them on the sidewalk.]

[Kora] (You said are they AT the loft. not IN the loft!)

[Lukas] [i’m still too lazy to change my post. *LOL*]

[Gabriel Ferreira] [We STARTED with Gabriel in the Loft and Joce at the door. YOU GUYS KNOW I CAN’T BE FUCKED CHANGING MY TAGS.]

[Lukas] [BACK IC. *punts everyone*]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The Strider hasn’t been seen around the Loft since Wednesday night when she, Kate and Adara fought off some nasties together. She had made sure that Adara was back to the Brotherhood, headed home with Kate and then that night, after waking up screaming an hour after she went to bed, she headed out on her own. She’s been quiet, over the pack link as well. No one at the Loft has seen hide nor hair of them.

Until now.

She’s walking down the street. No van. Who knows where the Bitchmobile is. She looks very, very tired. But she’s not drunk. She’s chain smoking, one of her other sets of clothes that she keeps inside the van on as opposed to the ones that got torn up fighting the things two nights ago. And her steps slow, brow furrowing when she sees a coalition of Garou around the front of the Loft.

“What in Loki’s asscrack is this?” she says, more to herself than anyone else, and she stops about a quarter of a block down to get a gauge on the situation before she comes closer.

[Kora] A brief flicker of the Fenrir’s dark eyes as Lukas appears in the hallway behind Gabriel and Jocelyn. It’s chilly, the threat of rain hanging in the air, a bank of orange clouds overhead. Kora’s left her coat behind in Imogen’s car, and stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the chill. Or the fact that she is standing here, eight months, eight and a half months pregnant, on the stoop of some Silver Fang’s swank residence, disciplining a Modi who was wearing a kitty had until a Silver Fang philodox swiped it off her head.

“I’ll leave that to you,” says Kora, flickering a glance back to Gabriel. “Her charming company for another few hours, or blessed silence in which to enjoy your cupcakes. And heal.”

[Gabriel Ferreira] Wednesday night is about the time that a Fostern Bone Gnawer and one or the other Cliath–Shadow Lord or Child of Gaia, Kate’s tribesman can’t damn well remember; it could have been any of them–carted Resurrection back to the Loft with his head half-caved in and his memory thoroughly obliterated even after healing. Though he himself hasn’t kept a room here, they had been looking for his brother, the Theurge with the bizarre countenance and affinity for the spirit world, with whom he has been staying the last two days.

‘Staying,’ in that he avoids leaving his brother’s room unless absolutely necessary. Were not for the fact that someone at some point alerted Honor’s Compass to the fact that she had company, they might not have even realized he was here. Resurrection doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of noise.

While he isn’t facing that direction, the press of Rage, the niggling of breeding, from the Adren Lord behind him tugs at his attention. Gabriel doesn’t turn; he’s looking at the Fostern of his student’s tribe as she addresses him.

There aren’t a lot of people out this time of night, and the handkerchief is blowing bloody breath back in his sinuses. Gabriel reaches up to yank it down away from his nose and mouth, revealing the hamburger mess that is the left side of his face, and rubs the back of his neck.

“It looks like we have a makeup lesson to tend to,” he says, without looking at the Cub.

[Jocelyn Burkhart] “Yes, Rhya.”

Because, really, it’s the absolute safest thing that can come out of her mouth, and she’ll limit it to that and shift to heal her tongue from being bitten nearly through later.

[Kora] “Midnight, Jocelyn.” Kora says, fixing the young modi with another look. Her voice brooks no disagreement. “No later.”

Then, at last, she lifts her chin in acknowledgment of Lukas’ presence behind Gabriel and Jocelyn. “Wyrmbreaker-rhya.” Her voice is low, clear and direct. The name is both greeting and leavetaking, so it seems. “Apologies if we interrupted you sleep. Goodnight.”

And with that, the Skald turns around to take her leave, cutting a look to Imogen as she does. “Thanks for the ride, Doc.” That’s even more quiet than her usual low tone. “Do you know if there’s a Dairy Queen around here?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She flicks her cigarette out into the street, pulling out another one on instinct but hesitating and putting it back. People are dispersing and she approaches, giving nods to Kora, who she knows, and Imogen, who she doesn’t as she makes her way to the door.

Gabriel and Jocelyn get passing nods as well. The Strider doesn’t look very talkative today. She only slightly double-takes at Gabriel’s new look.

[Imogen] Imogen glances briefly toward Lukas, appearing in the hallway beyond, somewhat sleep rumpled. The touch of her eyes serves as a greeting, before she offers a brief ‘Enjoy yer evening’ to both Fang and Cub, glancing at Kora as she turns with the Fenrir.

“I believe you’ve mistaken me fer someone else,” is the response to the question regarding Dairy Queen. In more words than necessary, then, she means: No, I have no idea.

[Jocelyn Burkhart] “Midnight, Rhya. Not a second later. Thank you.”

[Lukas] None of the three Garou gathered near the front of the Loft look at Lukas for more than a split-second. Two of them don’t look at him at all. It’s impossible to ignore his presence there though — dark, towering, rumbling with understated rage.

It always seems overcast and stormy over the Loft these days. Umbraside, falcon gafflings wing overhead, surfing thermals, cutting through the wind. Cockroaches with faintly metallic sheens — possibly to Kate’s great dismay — skitter along the cracks and the crevices. These days, on occasion, owls roost under the roof overhangs.

Kora addresses him eventually. That’s when he steps down from the stoop, crossing the distance out to the small gathering. His footsteps are quiet; leisurely. He returns Kora’s greeting with a nod.

“Aren’t you going to greet your elder?” This is to Gabriel and Jocelyn. His tone is low, uninflected. Hard to tell if it’s meant at all in jest. “What’s going on here?”

Whatever the answer is, he seems only mildly interested. He speaks to Kora instead, “You see the land developments near the Caern?”

[Jocelyn Burkhart] She’s going to keep her goddamned mouth shut as much as possible is what she’s going to do. The tilt of her head changes just a bit, so that her neck is offered to Lukas instead of Kora now. Just in case.

“Good evening Rhya”

[Gabriel Ferreira] Aren’t you going to greet your elder?

When Resurrection turns around to face Cold Victory, no one would blame the Adren for not recognizing him. Those are his shoes, and he’s dressed like he typically does, in well-tailored monochromes, but–yeah I’m done describing the fact that he’s fucked up if it isn’t abundantly clear by now it won’t be with another repetition. He doesn’t look familiar, unless one only focuses on the right side of his face.

“-rhya,” he echoes Jocelyn.

What’s going on here?

Lukas is only mildly interested, and ends up addressing Kora before the Silver Fang can summon the inner fortitude necessary to make his face move to answer. No matter. He turns to Jocelyn, and says, “C’mon, walk me to the Caern. I’ll carry the damn cupcakes.”

He says ‘damn’ with some fondness.

“I’m keeping the hat, though.”

[Jocelyn Burkhart] There are so many things that would usually cause a protest in that. She’s walking a tightrope right now though, so instead she sucks it up.

That’s two kitty hats down, two to go now.

“They’re red velvet.” This as she takes his arm, nodding to Lukas without looking at him, so that she doesn’t irritate anyone else any further.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] After a moment, her nerve gives out for whatever reason and instead of hitting the door, she just continues on down the street.

[Gabriel Ferreira] “Really?”

And they’re off, Gabriel walking more or less of his own volition. Letting the Fenrir teenager hold his arm seems to be more for her benefit than for his, but he doesn’t have as much pride to swallow as her tribe does.

“Have you been talking to Hanna? You’re the best student ever, don’t let anyone ever tell you different.”

[I’m being kicked out of the cafe, I’ll see you assholes when I get to work tomorrow! Thanks for the scene, all!]

[Kora] When Sarita comes around the corner, heading toward the loft, the Skald lifts her chin by way of acknowledgment. The gesture is accompanied by a brief touch of her dark eyes on the Silent Strider’s face. Kora steps out of the way, clearing the path for Sarita to head toward the pair on the stoop.

“I mean – ” to Imogen. “if there was a Dairy Queen close by, you might’ve been there. Probably would’ve been a half-dozen murders there over the years. Ice cream headaches. Fucked up orders. Robberies gone wrong. Blood in the soft serve machine, yeah? Marshmallow creme in the butterfinger Blizzards.”

Here, Kora flickers a look back to the contrite Jocelyn. She is about to say something when Lukas steps around the pair, past them, down the stoop. So the heavily pregnant Skald’s attention swings, lifting upward to match Lukas’ walk toward her. She turns, pivots, hands finding their way back to the front pockets of her low slung jeans. The gray cotton maternity tee pulls over the swell of her stomach, and is long enough to reach her hips. Her elbows are narrow against her body, framing her stomach.

He asks about the land developments. Kora shakes her head, “No. What land developments?”

When she goes to the Caern these days, she walks through the umbra. She cannot fit through the chain link fence. And somehow it seems a helluva lot more suspicious with a pregnant woman ducking into abandoned docks than a teenager in worn cloths and combat boots.

[Lukas] The Shadow Lord’s presence follows her, brushing her mind-to-mind, pacing her a while before offering a quietly curious: Where’re you going?
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Imogen] “They all blend together after a while,” she answers Kora – and had been, perhaps, about to say more when Lukas addresses the Fenrir Jarl. Kora turns to speak, and Imogen’s gaze moves once more around their surroundings.

An unknown Garou starts toward the door of the loft, but then, for whatever reason, changes her mind, turning and heading back down the street. Imogen watches absently, a hand lifting to push hair back from her face.

This time, her attention is not quite so deliberately averted. Though she keeps her awareness to their surroundings, there is no impression of her ignoring the conversation between Shadow Lord and Fenrir.

[Carter Roth] The Loft, to many garou it was a place of safe harbour. A place that was worth your time to come in, have a seat, have a chat with the those who lived there, if of course you were invited. Carter for his part, had recently if perhaps not entirely of his own volition, become a resident there. And as was so often the case in such places, smoking was strictly forbidden within the loft itself. Or at least Carter like to imagine this was the case so he could take a bit to step outside and stroll the neighbourhood, never wandering to far.

It seemed that it was time for a smoke break, as the door to the loft suddenly swung open and Carter stood framed in the doorway, combat boots, combat pants, his old leather jacket and a cigarette hanging from his mouth, the lighter just lit so that he could light up.

The presence of the garou just beyond the confines of the loft gave Carter pause, a momentary lapse in his step. But he recovers quickly, and perhaps to the surprise of those gathered there. He steps out and closes the door behind him, lighting the smoke as it clicked close. He grins crookedly at the gathered individuals and let a puff of smoke clear through his nose before speaking.

“Huh, its a convention.”

[Lukas] “Go have a look for yourself next time you’re there,” Lukas says. He’s — distant for a moment, his pale eyes drifting past the women to his packmate. Then back. “In short, there’s some land development company breaking ground to put in a ‘waste repurposing site’. Last month one of the kin – Starla – stole a USB drive that turned out to contain some pretty sensitive information. Apparently the mob’s behind new toxic waste dumpsites along the river and the shore. Seems like this might be one of those sites.

“I’ve no doubt the Garou of the Sept are going to want to go in there and break some heads, but I’m not entirely sure that’ll help. I’m going to keep a lid on that, at least barring any emergency we have to respond to immediately. It’s best if we let our people pull strings and play this in the mortal arena for now.

“That angry kin of yours. Izzy Montoya. I had an interesting discussion with her the other day. She’s hardly anyone’s sweetheart, but she seemed hardy and willing to help. It might be useful to put some police pressure on the Scarpescis. Keep them distracted while others look into throwing a wrench into their plans. Could you ask her to look into it, and get in touch with Dani&+269;ka or Matthieu to keep the kin on the same page?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s closed off. She had been told once, before she had joined the pack, that she had a tendency to keep herself at a distance, about her sister for example. Over the last month since she’s been packed, that tendency has slowly evaporated. In the last thirty-six hours though, between her taking off in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday/Thursday and her guardedness now, it’s back and strong.

I’m just taking a walk. Thought I’d stop by and chill for a bit, but the place seems crowded and I still need some air, I think.
to cricket, Lukas

[Imogen] Imogen glances up briefly toward Lukas, though she’s not been addressed. Her eyebrow arches slightly at the description of Izzy. “Yeh make her sound a bit like a goat,” she says, offhanded, more observation than anything else.

“S’likely better t’get any interested kinfolk t’gether to talk about their plans and get them on th’same page rather than askin’ our liaisons t’play operator in a game o’ chinese whispers. Ha’ a concentrated plan tha’ the liaisons can then pass on t’the Garou.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She disappears around the corner, throwing a quick glance back at the people assembled just before she does.

[Lukas] There’s a sense of thoughtfulness, quiet. Then:

Everything all right?
to Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Lukas] There’s a sense of thoughtfulness, quiet. Then:

Everything all right?
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Kora] “You mean the Black Hole Sun people, yeah?” There’s a spark of recognition, then, in the dark-eyed Fenrir woman’s gaze. The light sheens across the surface of her eyes as she cuts a to Imogen, then back to Lukas. “Roman’s been in and out already, monkeywrenching. He took out most of their heavy equipment, made it all look like pretty juvenile vandalism. Still, it’ll delay the work by a few days. Maybe a week or more. Hell,” Kora shrugs, narrowly. ” – maybe longer. Depends on how deep their pockets are.”

The Skald cuts a sideglance at Imogen as the kinswoman speaks, then lifts her chin as she sweeps a look back to Lukas. “I’ll see what Izzy can spark in the Police Department. She’ll need whatever information you have on the Scarpesis. Though she’s in homicide, not organized crime. Won’t have as much control on where things go from the outside, I imagine,” here she looks back to Imogen to confirm or refute her assumptions. Kora’s entire knowledge of the criminal process comes from reruns of Law and Order on Icelandic television.

In Icelandic, natch.

[Kora] In Icelandic***, natch.

*Which she doesn’t actually speak.
**Badly dubbed, no less. Icelandic Iron Chef was her favorite. Translated from Japanese to English and English to some godforsaken –

[Carter Roth] Carter had gone unnoticed so far, but then…he was simply standing at the door, and his words had largely been for himself. He took several steps forward then, feeling the rage pushing against his skin, and for once….it didn’t bother him quite so much.

But that of course doesn’t undo years of problems, and as Carter addressed the gathered individuals it was made clear that that was the case. “Sounds like your planning a full blow puppeteer campaign.” He said in that gruff, rumbling voice of his as he stepped up to the group.

“Sounds like fun.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] A mental shrug. There’s a sense of weariness, some paranoia creeping in to boot. But even that is slight.

Just not sleeping well since the other night. Run-in with a…thing on guard duty. Kate knows, she was there.
to cricket, Lukas

[Lukas] “I’ll put a copy on GW.net’s secured FTP, courtesy of my packmate. We’ll get her a temporary passcode so she can download it. Tell her to watch her back, though. Starla apparently got threatened.”

His kin — by far his most troublesome kin — is coming up the path. The hesitation at seeing Garou is less than one might expect. Lukas notes this; he notes Carter as well, and nods him over.

“Carter, why don’t you listen in. Maybe you can offer some insight.” That’s unusual. For the past couple weeks, Lukas has been keeping Carter away from other Garou and kin whenever possible.

Imogen addresses him directly. If this surprises the Shadow Lord — the Adren, the Ahroun that even other wolves don’t look directly at for long — it’s only in the quickness with which his glacial eyes flick to the kinswoman.

“I work with what I have,” he says. He’s a different breed of Ahroun: there’s a measuredness to his words, a steadiness in his manner. “I’d love if the kin could get themselves organized enough to turn out a single coherent plan, but the last progress I heard of the coalition was at that meeting the other night. As far as I know, there’s no leadership and not much of a coalition to speak of, and I can’t wait for them to get themselves sorted out before putting people on this issue.

“The Grand Elder spoke well of you that night though,” he adds. “There was some expectation that you’d spearhead the coalition after that. To tell you the truth, I’m surprised that you haven’t yet. Did no one tell you?”

[Lukas] [gah! i didn’t see carter’s post. delete the part that addresses him, i’ll rewrite.]

[Lukas] “I’ll put a copy on GW.net’s secured FTP, courtesy of my packmate. We’ll get her a temporary passcode so she can download it. Tell her to watch her back, though. Starla apparently got threatened.”

Imogen addresses him directly. If this surprises the Shadow Lord — the Adren, the Ahroun that even other wolves don’t look directly at for long — it’s only in the quickness with which his glacial eyes flick to the kinswoman.

“I work with what I have,” he says. He’s a different breed of Ahroun: there’s a measuredness to his words, a steadiness in his manner. “I’d love if the kin could get themselves organized enough to turn out a single coherent plan, but the last progress I heard of the coalition was at that meeting the other night. As far as I know, there’s no leadership and not much of a coalition to speak of, and I can’t wait for them to get themselves sorted out before putting people on this issue.

“The Grand Elder spoke well of you that night though,” he adds. “There was some expectation that you’d spearhead the coalition after that. To tell you the truth, I’m surprised that you haven’t yet. Did no one tell you?”

His kin — by far his most troublesome kin — is coming up the path. The hesitation at seeing Garou is less than one might expect. Lukas notes this; he notes Carter as well. He’s lived at the Loft a while now. Seen enough of the pack, and of Lukas, to know that sometimes the Shadow Lord is amicable. Friendly, playful with his pack, almost gentle.

Not when he wakes up to strangers congregating on the lawn, apparently. Not when he wakes to heavy machinery banging on the proverbial walls of the Caern. There isn’t much patience in him tonight as he regards Roth.

“Carter, if you’d like to contribute to solving the problem we’ve got on hand, I’d gladly welcome whatever input you have. But if you’re just going to snark, go bother Lucille.”

[Lukas] Another few seconds of thought. Then, Well. If you need us to stay close, we will. If you want to hang out with us, we’re here. But if you need space, I get that too. I won’t push, all right?

Just … we are here for you. I know you’re still not really used to that, and maybe can’t even trust it 100% yet, but we are.
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Imogen] Kora glances in her direction and the doctor nods. “She won’t be able t’investigate them fully, but there are undoubtedly several ways we can mire ’em in paperwork. Slow them down, inspect their property, invalidate their permits.”

When Lukas speaks of his surprise, Imogen’s mouth twists into a narrow smirk. “That is likely not the first nor the last time I will ha’ disappointed a Full-blood’s expectations.”

The irony of that – speaking of disappointment that Garou may have in her, in the same moments he speaks of the Grand Elder of the Sept speaking well of her.

“But my comment wasn’t idle advice. Half-bloods ha’ gotten together t’come up wi’ a coherent plan before, wi’out the word ‘coalition’ applied. I imagine we can do it again. I’ll need as much detail as possible, and some assistance in gettin’ the word out, but it’s better than everyone runnin’ off individually.”

[Imogen] The kinswoman glances briefly at Carter when he speaks, when Lukas addresses him, but she does not speak to him yet.

[Kora] Kora shifts, pulls her shoulders back, stretching her back to relieve some of the burden the weight of late pregnancy puts on her spine. Her hands slip from her front pockets, long fingers splay over her hips as she stretches. This is her only concession to the discomfort. After, she crosses her arms beneath her breasts, over the swell of her stomach, watching and listening to Lukas, a subtle frown tugging the corners of her mouth downward.

A flicker of a look toward Imogen when she speaks, is followed by a supple twist of her mouth. “I’m not sure you need all the kinfolk involved, either. Just those who have something to contribute. There’s that proverb about cooks and soup, and chains and weak links.”

[Carter Roth] Carter laughs at Wyrmbreakers words, and to some, it might sound sour and unkind, but then that just might be Carters way. He looks at Wyrmbreaker directly, something he has never been afraid to do, looking the man in the eyes before he speaks once more.

“What snark? I was being honest…it sounds like fun.” He lets a crooked, some might say rakish grin cross his features as he regarded the others. “And a Puppet Campaign has never been a laughing matter. They’re deadly, effective, and only dangerous to those who are doing the immediate string pulling.” Of course…this meant the kin, but amazingly Carter says nothing in regards to that.

“It targets resources, infrastructure, and specialized personnel offensively, while using politics and figureheads to erode the support of the enemy.” He looks up at Lukas like he should know these things.

“I prefer to slash and burn…but thats just me, and I don’t think explosives are readily available in Chicago.” He looks directly at Kora then and shrugs. “Every person has something to contribute, even if its just a body. That being said, it all depends on what exactly you want to do.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] There is a moment of wavering indecision.

I’ll be fine. And I know…thanks. I just gotta sort some shit out.

A pause. …and find my van. I don’t remember where I parked it.
to cricket, Lukas

[Lukas] “Not everyone needs to contribute in the doing,” Lukas replies, “but I want everyone in the know. Otherwise you get redundant or counterproductive efforts.

“Keep the Liaisons in the loop, whatever it is you end up doing.” This is to Imogen. “They’ll do the rest and spread the word amongst everyone else, and I’ll check in with them occasionally. As for the information, Dani&+269;ka has the files if you don’t want to download them off FTP. Simon was spearheading the investigation last month, too, but it may have stalled a bit since.”

It takes some amount of trust for Lukas to even consider letting Carter — he who was not so long ago banned altogether from Kora’s territory, amongst other things — join the little discussion. He watches Carter cautiously when the kinsman starts to speak. When it doesn’t turn out to be another rant against the tyrants, Lukas’s shoulders relax a notch. He seems faintly surprised.

“I think most the Garou would agree with slash and burn, but the problem with that is then they come back in greater numbers. And with guns. Or worse, lawsuits. We’ll fight this one on human turf as much as we can. Which reminds me, Sorrow — Roman’s little sabotaging mission might have been a success, but it’s a temporary measure at best, and will likely just make them increase their security. Tell him to hold off on that until we really need him to cut some wires.”

[Lukas] A moment of something like worry, and then Lukas puts it aside. Sarita’s a grown-ass wolf.

Try the junkyard, he suggests helpfully.
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] A faint mental smile, maybe a hint of amusement. Slightly forced…but only slightly. That’s something, at least.

Don’t worry, boss-man. I was parked. Only way it’s junked is if I parked in a no parking zone, which I don’t think I did.
to cricket, Lukas

[Kora] “If they aren’t involved in the doing, –rhya,” the Skald returns, a subtle twist to her mouth. “They won’t be creating redundant or counterproductive efforts. Respectfully, this sort of thing should be restricted to those who will or can contribute. Keeping everyone in the loop just erodes the loop. You want a comprehensive plan and a group willing and able to implement it, not a flash mob of half-informed, questionably skilled people with a step by step knowledge of our plan to deal with the enemy.

“One foolish slip of the tongue, one wrong turn, one well-meaning but poorly trained ally,” a supple, half-made shrug. “One kidnapping, and all bets are off. They have not just everyone, but everything, and therefore the means to counter it. You need an open call to those who have the time, energy, and skills to contribute. If they need bodies, they can reach out and pull others in.”

To the last, Kora offers a narrow shrug. “I’ll talk to Roman.”

[Lukas] [sorry bout the silence – waiting on imogen!]

[Imogen] She is quiet briefly, her gaze moving aside, touching the street. She is a delicate woman, slight in height, but strong, supple, the power of her body clear in the flat plane of her stomach, the set of her shoulders, the arch of her back. She does not, nor will she ever, look quite like a warrior, though some of her grace is born from the same root of strength. She is economical. No extra moment of energy is wasted. No movement is unnecessary.

When she looks away, it is a moment to think. Kora speaks, and Imogen hears her, though she does not look.

“I suspect,” she says, “tha’ the group o’ us could talk technique until the sun came up, and th’only benefit we will get from it is th’lack o’ sleep.”

A turn toward Lukas, “I would appreciate th’same password and details yeh intend fer Detective Montoya t’make their way to me as well. I will get th’word out tha’ I am lookin’ fer kinfolk o’ a specific skillset or tha’ are already workin’ in this manner. If yeh ha’ passed directions on t’others, I’d appreciate their names so I can make sure they are included.

“I will make sure the liaisons are invited, as i am familiar wi’ their intended role in the Sept. My view in this case would be tha’ they would pass on th’details o’ the plans to you, and those o’ the Sept who must know, and tha’ if they discover a kinfolk or Garou makin’ efforts toward the same goal – namely the slowing or the haltin’ o’ the work near the caern – they will direct them t’me, so I can keep track o’ who is doin’ what, why and how.

“The goal will be t’coordinate and share ideas and provide a forum fer communication. Make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doin’ so they can work together or keep things separately as necessary. I expect t’be able to do tha’ with a minimum o’ lecturing and interference.”

A pause.

“Is that agreeable?”

[Carter Roth] “Wrong type of Slash and Burn.” Carter says as he folds his arms infront of himself. “Burn refers to the acquisition or termination of enemy resources. Slash refers to the speed at which you do so. Which is fast. Puppet Campaigns take years to set up and execute.” He explains it casually like its something common for others to know.

“The methodology differ’s massively, explosives are fun, but bribery, blackmail and hostage taking aren’t bad ideas either.” He pauses and looks about one more time as he inhales on the cigarette. “My professional opinion? Target the these peoples families, it doesn’t have to get messy…but a few key hostages can pave the way for all kinds of fast, clean solutions. You just have to do it right.” He offers in counter point to Kora’s words as he tossed the cigarette asside.

“Eitherway…your going to do what your going to do….I’ll just be headed back to my cell, I mean my room.” He says with another grin as he turned to walk away headed back to the Loft.

[Lukas] […er.]

[Simon Zahradnik] Simon arrives at the Loft quietly enough. He stands just outside the door, and he knocks three times before waiting to be let in. Things were heating up a little at the moment and Simon’s eyes flared with anger to reveal what the Full Moon was thinking. He had come out here intent on speaking to Lukas in person and so there he was standing just outside waiting… Being patient. However the patience of the Full Moon was wearing thin. The sheep have come knocking at the wolves door… And still they must continue to wear their pretty woolen coats. Somewhere the line must be drawn and this was where the discussion needed to go. He was here to speak to the war leader of the sept because so far as he sees it the Mob has declared war on their sept. These are not your typical men… They play in the Shadows.

In the tribal homeland they were known by names names and in many regions. The Russian mob had crossed them, the KGB had crossed them, all manner of local criminals and rogue military forces had crossed them. These were people who knew… Perhaps not what they were dealing with… But they knew that there were certain people you simply did not cross. The kinds of people who made people disappear. The kinds of people who made the most battle hardened soldier tremble in fear screaming when forced to confront the memory of what it was forced to witness. In their homeland they were known by many names to many people but among themselves they were known simply as Shadow Lords.

The mob has not known them. Perhaps they have not crossed them? Perhaps they simply do not know… Whatever the case a lesson must be taught. There are those people in this world who no one crosses and Bone-Grinder stood ready to remind them, or at least teach them in the first place.

[Lukas] [BTW, we’re out on the porch!]

Before Carter takes off — “Hold on a second, Carter.”

He listens to Kora and Imogen, then. Something about what Kora says sends a frisson of rage through Lukas. He controls it. He always does. Almost. Imogen is attended to as well. Heard, even after Kora — her warder — has spoken. Afterward, there’s a beat of thought.

“You and yours aren’t the only ones who’ll want to do something to defend their homes, Kora,” he says, then. “Imogen – if you manage to get some kin together to work on this, then I’ll make sure the liaisons and whoever else is interested show up at your planning session. I’m more than willing to do that.

“But the bottom line is others will jump to help, Kora. And they won’t all fall neatly in line. Imogen didn’t make it to the sept kin meeting the other night. Who’s to say Simon might not make it out to whatever meeting Imogen plans? That’s not even taking into account differences in personality and approach. If no one knows what everyone else is doing, we’ll have a dozen different approaches and nothing will get accomplished.

“I understand your concerns about security. Unfortunately, they don’t outweigh this Sept’s need for unity against a threat. I’ll take your thoughts into account when deciding how to distribute information, but at the end of the day, I want your kin keeping the Liaisons informed. I’d ask nothing else of anyone else working on the problem.”

— and there’s Simon. Lukas nods him over as well.

“You see the mess outside the Caern?”

[Carter Roth] Carter holds up, and looks back over his shoulder at Lukas with a momentary sense of annoyance as he waits.

[Simon Zahradnik] He takes in a breath and nods his head.”I had hoped we’d be able to stop this before it became a problem, but they’re going to push ahead. So far we’ve found no evidence this is anything more than coincidence… Whatever the case they’re going after the Brotherhood now and soon enough it’ll be the Caern. I can’t allow that to happen.”He says back to Lukas.

“These people aren’t your usual sort. If they can’t get their way one way or another they’ll use something else. Whether that means hiring thugs to beat up our kin… Burning down our territory… Or anything else. They will neither bend or break and will not hesitate to break the law to get their way. Even if they’re using the law at the moment.”He says softly.

“I don’t give a flying fuck what they wanna do… But people need to know not to fuck with the docks in this city. Someone needs to teach them a lesson.”

[Lukas] Moments ago, there was a mental laugh — somewhat distracted.

Then, a burst of uncharacteristic irritation: If the fucking Fenrir don’t want to be a part of this Sept, why don’t they just make their own damn viking longhouse Sept?
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Kora] “You misunderstood me. I never said that anyone should be excluded. I said that the planning sessions should be self-selecting. Those people who want to do something and have the skills and contacts to be involved should come. But the rest of the Sept, the kin who look out the window at the site and have no idea how to help shouldn’t attend. Clearly, the liaisons should attend the planning meetings as well. I’m sure I have no intention of excluding them, and I’m not sure where you got that idea.”

[Kora] (also with mei, I need to sleep a half-hour ago!)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] There’s a pause, and the randomness of that rant is enough to bring the Strider out of her shiny new shell for a moment.

Wait, what? I’ve heard of Fenrir separatists before, but that’s a new twist on it…

It’s said as a joke, clearly. The No-Moon’s instincts are kicking in, and she has a need to lift her Alpha’s mood. What are the GrrSnarlSmashers griping about now?
to cricket

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] There’s a pause, and the randomness of that rant is enough to bring the Strider out of her shiny new shell for a moment.

Wait, what? I’ve heard of Fenrir separatists before, but that’s a new twist on it…

It’s said as a joke, clearly. The No-Moon’s instincts are kicking in, and she has a need to lift her Alpha’s mood. What are the GrrSnarlSmashers griping about now?
to cricket, Lukas

[Lukas] “If I misunderstood you, Kora, then that’s my mistake.” A pause; then, “Your tribe’s never been the open sort. I can empathize; the same could be said for mine. And to be sure, there’s a hell lot of resentment and distrust between our people. If I wrongly mistook something you said as some sign of insularity or possessiveness, then accept my apology.

“The bottom line is this. I want anyone who wants to help, who can help, to get in on the action. They’re talking about possibly putting a toxic waste dump next to the Caern. The Caern. I want everyone we have working on this.

“Which includes you, Carter. You’ve been on house arrest for … what, two weeks now? Semi-miraculously, you haven’t blown the place up yet, and you sound like you have ideas, whether or not you have the means. If you want to pitch in, then I’ll clear you to go to this meeting Imogen’s planning.”

[Carter Roth] Carter smirks at the words Lukas offers him and he nods in agreement. “I’ll see if it fits into my oh so busy schedule…but I might be able to make it.

He looks to Imogen and gives her a nod before turns to walk back to the loft, done with socializing for the evening it seems.

[Sorry guys, outta juice I’m out! thanks for letting me play.]

[Lukas] Ugh, just —

— growling. Then, calmer:

I just told Kora about the issue with the Caern and the dumpsite they’re trying to put next to it. Wanted her to bring her kin on board, especially the grumpy cop. First thing she does is think of ways to shut people out, keep information locked down, when we should be worrying about how to make sure everyone knows and gets to work. She’s backing off now and saying that’s not what she meant, but forgive me if it’s hard not to consider her a bit of a recluse given how rarely I even see her.
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Lukas] [night man! thanks for coming in!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] You know…if someone told me three months ago that a Shadow Lord would be arguing inclusiveness, I’d have laughed my ass off. Stop fucking with my perception of the world, dude. That’s MY job. Do you see me going around, leading the charge into battle and being all grumpy and shit? She pauses, before adding, …wait, don’t answer that.

The old Sarita is back, at least for the moment. Some people are gonna be bitches, boss. Ain’t nothing you can do against that. Best way to change her mind is to get her to get her people in, even if she’s all bitchy about it, and show her that it works. You can argue ideals. You can never argue results.
to cricket, Lukas, mantis

[Simon Zahradnik] Simon’s attention turns on Carter as the man walks away.”There are plenty of kin who actually have a use to people. A kin without loyalty and a respect for authority is as dangerous to us as any enemy. I can’t recommend putting Carter on much of anything Rhya. It is, of course, your choice but I have no faith in a man who is incapable of accepting and respecting authority. Especially in the middle of a war.”

[Kora] (gah, Sorry. I was kinda waiting for mei, I think, and she was waiting for me.)

[Imogen] (sorry you guys, I’m like. Dead over here. This was completely my bad.)

[Simon Zahradnik] [This makes me a very sad panda ūüė¶ ]

[Kora] Kora’s dark eyes flicker once toward Simon as he opines on the enemy’s mob connections. The look is spare, passing, reserved. When she looks back to Lukas, her expression is mostly unchanged: still. The faintly curving mouth, the clear dark eyes, the sharp lines of the bones of her face underneath her pale, northern skin.

“I think we were saying nearly the same thing. In different ways. If you’ll excuse me, now – ” here she stretches, stiffly. It’s cold outside, and her coat is still in Imogen’s car. Kora holds her shoulders firm against the chill so as not to shiver, but the tension in her frame leaves her muscles pulled tight, and aching after standing so long outside. “Good night.”

There’s no grace left in her when she turns; it’s hard to see the wolf in the way she walks. Everything thing about her body is thrown off by the weight of her late pregnancy. Still, she glows with it; her hair is longer, gleaming, her skin pale and clear. She has gained weight, a new fullness even to her cheeks and jaw. Halfway back to the car, she stretches again, plants her hands in the small of her back and arches her spine, not luxuriously, but thoroughly so that she draws in a sharp breath near the end.

“If there was a dairy queen,” she says, as they walk back to Imogen’s car. A bit mournfully. ” – I bet they’re closed by now.”

[Lukas] You’re right. And believe me, I know it. One of the first things I learned was to keep my eye on the ball. Ignore the minor B.S. for the bigger problems. And believe me, I’m not snarling in her face, as much as I want to. Just — letting off steam in here so I can deal with her fairly ‘out there’, even if she’s not quite giving me the same benefit of doubt.

Not yet, hopefully.
to cricket, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Lukas] [thanks for the RP, sleeping ones!]

[Imogen] The kinswoman is still now – after Lukas’s comment, she had no reply. There is none necessary. She is quiet as Kora and Lukas speak, Simon as well, her attention briefly resting on Carter’s departing back.

Kora turns to go, and Imogen does as well, offering a brief, “Goodnight,” to no one in particular. She does not stop as Kora does, apparently not all that solicitous of her late pregnancy and in fact, quite the opposite. She glances up from finding her keys in her handbag, an eyebrow arching slightly.

“I imagine so,” she says, as if it were not strange that a Fenrir Skald was lamenting the lost chance at a blizzard.

The Aston Martin doors open, and both women step inside, entirely different in the way they move and get into the low-sitting vehicle. The engine roars to life, and a moment later, pulls away from the curb headed – elsewhere.

[Imogen] (thanks for the RP!)

[Simon Zahradnik] He watches Kora turn to leave. He didn’t know the full extent of their discussion so he didn’t bother to interject into whatever it was they had been addressing. Simon had come here for a reason and that is what he would see through. THough he does take the time to watch both women depart before returning his attention to Lukas.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She turns around the corner she came from not so long ago, making her way back toward the loft. She’s got a cigarette between her lips, and she looks a bit less twitchy than she did before. She glances at Kora and Imogen’s car as they leave, then over to Lukas and Simon.

“Man, I love my van, but that is a NICE car.”

[Lukas] The Fenrir contingent departs. Lukas turns to Simon then.

“I agree,” he says. “But I’d like to think Carter’s coming around, and this is his trial by fire. Whether or not he admits it, he came here of his own accord that night. He could have made me drag him kicking and screaming. He didn’t. He allowed himself to be put in solitude to reflect. I think his hostility comes from a sort of fear so intense it mutates into hate. These days, he fears us less. He’s still bitchy, but bitching isn’t quite the same thing as rebellion and disrespect. Maybe I can even get him to respect us a little more.

“To do that, though, I have to show him some amount of trust. And this is a good opportunity. He came up with his own plan. He’ll be there under Dani&+269;ka’s eye, and under Matthieu’s. And Imogen’s, for that matter. Whatever else that woman is, I doubt she tolerates bullshit.

“If he can prove himself a contributing member of the Nation, then that’s better for all of us than a liability we need to keep locked up. And if he can’t, and he proves that all this time alone hasn’t changed the intrinsic way he thinks and behaves, then — maybe it’s time to give up on him.”

A pause.

“Anyway. I heard what you said about the Caern issue earlier. And I know you want to break some heads. But now’s not the time. If you kill one man, someone else will take his place next week. And the human authorities will protect them against the murderers and criminals we’ll become. But if we get their whole operation rooted out, exposed before human courts and shut down by human law, it’ll not just solve this problem — it’ll take away one of the Wyrm’s tools in this region. Permanently.”

[Lukas] A low laugh, then. Lukas is still barefoot, looking like maybe he got up from a nap not too long ago. “The Aston Martin? Yeah. I wouldn’t have expected Imogen Slaughter to drive a James Bond car, but there you have it.

“You find your van?” He starts heading for the warmth of the Loft, nodding his pack- and tribemate after him.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Naah, didn’t make it far enough. I have NO fucking idea where I parked the damn thing.”

She looks after the car as she follows Lukas. “That’s Imogen, eh? Hmm. Thought she’d be taller somehow.”

[Simon Zahradnik] He turns his attention on Sarita.”I ran into your sister the other night. I just wanna extend a little warning. I understand that she’s your tribe and your flesh and blood and all… But she challenged me directly. I’m not telling you how to deal with your own kin, and family or anything. However I would advise making sure it never happens again. I don’t wanna have to be the one to do that for you. I’m not trying to make a threat or anything… I am just saying that it’s best someone who she knows and cares for deals with it. Rather than someone she doesn’t.”He says back to Sarita calmly.

Too many concessions are being made for these kin. Too many garou bending backwards to appease kinfolk and somehow make this war more comfortable for them. Someone had to be the voice of reason. Someone had to stand ready to keep the kin in line. If he had to be the bad guy that is what he would be. Dissent must be addressed at it’s source, after all, and it seemed easier if Simon left Sarita to handle her own kin.

He then turns his attention back to Lukas. Green eyes focused and a nod of his head given.”We stand ready to give our lives for our kinfolk… Most of us would not hesitate to do so. I honestly do not feel a Kin should have to be given the chance to prove whether they have the same loyalty to as as we do to them.”He says with a shrug of his shoulders.”You are kind to give him a chance rhya and I strongly hope that he proves my doubts about him wrong.”He adds.

“You are correct Rhya someone will take his place… Someone who will understand what happens when you play on our turf.”He says.”If we have the local authorities deal with this matter it will address the Scarpesci family… But the power vaccum will be filled in a matter of days. If not from one of the local mob families then from the Russian Mob or one of the other groups. However if a few of the leaders of the most prominent crime family in the city wash up in the lake Rhya. The other families… And the other groups will understand the message. That we do not care how rich or powerful you are. There are some who simply should not be crossed by anyone. If you’re worried about the local authorities I wouldn’t be… They’re as crooked as the criminals who are paying their paychecks. The Scarpescis wash up in the lake someone else will just buy up their “contracts”.”He says back to Lukas.

“A message is something that will ripple from the top all the way to the bottom. No one is gonna cry for a couple crooks who built their lives off exploiting others. If anything those cops who aren’t crooked will thank us for handling the assholes who they couldn’t touch for lack of evidence. We do this the legal way… Someone under them will just step forward and plead guilty to everything.”He says softly.”I am not attempting to challenge your decision Rhya but I would like you to know where I stand on the matter before a final decision is made. I’ve spent my entire life dealing with shit heads like this. Jail is a joke to them… But they all understand strength Rhya. All animals understand force.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She gives a sigh, rolls her eyes a bit. “Simon. Buddy. Bubbie. I’m sure she did so. She’s workin’ on being better about that kind of thing. Even if she did act up, she handled herself pretty well at the meeting, I thought, with everyone piling shit on her. One of two times she snapped out of line, it was to argue the point that everyone thinks she wouldn’t, that kin are not equals to us in the Nation and thus cutting in line was fine.”

“That being said,” she adds, brow raising. “I ain’t makin’ excuses for her. An’ I can talk to her. But you need to deal with her mate, Stefan. She’s your tribe now, Simon, and she’s under his protection.”

[Lukas] “Seven feet tall,” Lukas quips, “lightning bolts out of her eyes and fireballs out of her arse? I’m afraid you’ve been disappointed. We’ll go cruising for your van later, though.”

He listens to Simon then. And he does listen. The argument’s compelling, for what it’s worth, and it appeals to the violent, animal core in Lukas. Still, in the end, he shakes his head.

“Believe me, Simon, if and when we need to send a message, it’ll be you I think of first. But we don’t know how far up this goes, or who really pulls the strings, or how many crooked cops and politicians they carry in their pockets. You’re right. It’s possible they’ll respond to a show of strength by backing down. But it’s also possible they’ll respond by turning more against us than we can handle. By driving us into the lake with warrants, eviction orders, legal action and police raids without bothering to show their faces. You might be able to crush one human, but more will come. You can’t kill every cop they send against you. Sooner or later you turn into a public enemy and the whole city will turn on you — even the innocents.

“We can’t face an entire city’s resources pooled against us; we just don’t have that sort of influence. So in the end it’s not about putting one guy in the grave, or in jail. It’s not about putting one family out of business. As far as power in this city goes, there’s the Wyrm. There’s us. But the vast majority of the power lies in the hands of the sheep, and the Wyrm already has some strings in hand. Now we either get in the game with them, or we get overrun eventually. This is about turning human power against itself so it doesn’t turn against us en masse.”

[Simon Zahradnik] He nods his head slowly.”Then I will defer to your judgement Rhya.”He does not like it. He was a warrior and these people had declared war on the sept. Still he was not about to go out of his way to challenge his elder directly even if he felt strongly on the matter. To be honest the Full Moon often felt himself surrounded by a softness… It wasn’t a bad thing, in fact it was a good thing, but it was something that could be seized upon. Emotional tethers, altruism, tending to the kin’s hurt feelings. These were all technically good things but someone had to stand ready to be the ruthless heartless motherfucker who would burn the enemies houses to the ground. Someone had to be ready to hunt down their enemies and kill them… But not before killing their wives and family, and children, and dogs… Someone had to be the hard ass son of a bitch who would show these motherfuckers the kind of hell that war truly was.

So he accepted his Elder’s decision because he was his elder and he was not about to challenge the decision but he remained the firm and heartless motherfucker who would not hesitate to hunt the mob in this city to extinction.”Say the word and I will hunt them down one by one… I will find them wherever they hide and I will teach them what happens when you make war with the Garou. In the meantime I will continue with the investigation and I will push harder to see to it we redouble our efforts in the matter. Garou, and Kin… We will find what we need to put these people away for a long time.”He says back to Lukas. It was apparent he was still iffy on the idea that this would work. Then again considering where he was born and raised… Sometimes the Garou of Detroit had to be just as harsh as the Agents of the Wyrm. War is a bloody violent son of a bitch and if you’re lucky you die a quick and painless death… War was in his blood and in his eyes. This full moon would spend each and every second granted to it to make certain the enemies of the Garou learn the meaning of that term.

The Wyrm was not the only enemy of the Garou but that didn’t make them any less dangerous. Sometimes the most dangerous were the “Innocent” because you find yourself holding back and restraining yourself. Until it’s too late… But then… It’s too late… Duh!

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Apparently the matter is settled between Simon and Sarita, since he dropped it without comment. She shrugs, listening as they get inside, and she makes her way to get a drink. She does enjoy listening to the two talk. It’s always fun philosophical time.

[Lukas] A nod returns that statement of deference and support.

“You just missed Imogen, actually. I think she might try to rally the kin. Pool resources, come up with a plan of action. She’ll need whatever information you’ve already come up with, so I told her to come to you. Word has it she’s not the easiest person to deal with, but she’s not honorless or witless. Nor is she a god. Treat her frankly and fairly and demand the same from her, and the two of you should get along fine.”

[Simon Zahradnik] He nods.”Of course Rhya I will speak to her first thing in the morning.”He says with a nod of his head.”Do you have a number I can contact her at?”

[Lukas] “Somewhere,” Lukas says, a faint and crooked smile at last breaking the surface. “It’s probably on my phone or something. I’ll text it to you later.

“Now,” he fetches his keys from the kitchen counter, then backtracks to find a jacket, “Sarita and I are gonna go hunt for her van. You’re welcome to stick around at the Loft or ride along if you want.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Fun times.” She grins widely from the kitchen. As it turns out, she decided against the drink. “It’s like playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ except that Waldo is a big Volkswagon with a fancy mural on the side.”

[Simon Zahradnik] He shakes his head.”No you two go ahead I gotta head back home.”He saysd offering a wave to the both of them before turning to head off into the night.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well hell. Have a good one, then.”

She looks at Lukas. “We gotta find someone else so we can be like the Wolfpack in The Hangover. I’ll be Phil and you can be Stu. Whoever we pick up can be the guy who gets punched out by Mike Tyson.”

[mantis] [that’s obviously Kate]

[Lukas] “See you, Simon,” Lukas says, shrugging into his jacket.

“Sadly,” he replies, “I haven’t seen that movie. So that pop culture reference is going to have to fly over my head.” He holds the door open behind himself — out they go ahead. Lukas’s Beemer, a six-year-old M3, is chilling on the driveway. “So where’d you last remember seeing your van?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] You can practically see her mentally adding something to her bucket list. ‘Make Lukas watch a lot of movies.’ She sighs as she slips out behind Lukas, shutting the door and making her way toward the Beamer. “Last thing I remember about the van was being inside the back. I was really damn tired and just needed a place to sleep where I wasn’t…waking people up.” She frowns and shrugs. “I semi-woke up at a hotel near the University of Chicago, so that’ll be a good place to start.”

She gets into the car. “I think I might have called Amy. I don’t really remember, it was all that sort of half-place where you’re not asleep but still semi-dreaming.”

[Lukas] They get in the Beemer, and Lukas is a little more somber when he looks at Sarita. His seatbelt slides over his shoulder, clicks into place. “Waking people up?” he repeats, slowly. “Semi-woke up? Semi-dreaming? Sarita, what the hell is going on?”

The engine turns over. The car’s not new, wasn’t new when he bought it, but it runs smoothly. Lukas wouldn’t buy a lemon; he’s far too careful for that.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s quiet for several moments, before she looks out the window. She slumps a bit, the grinning, cinema-referencing Ragabash slipping easily away. That wasn’t going to hold up forever anyway. She looks tired again. Physically and psychically.

“I just…we fought some thing the other night. Kate, Adara and I.” She’s quiet, staring at the pavement outside the car. “In the middle of it…something happened. I saw some sort of…vision, maybe. I dunno. Things that might’ve been if not for fate. Don’t ask what, ’cause I’m not telling.” There’s a finality to that. “I just haven’t been able to sleep since longer than the amount of time it takes me to hit REM before I wake up screaming.”

[Lukas] Things that might have been if not for fate.

“Wha–” Lukas begins, but Sarita’s final. Not telling. Nope. He glances at her a moment, then shrugs. “Fair enough.”

Couldn’t sleep after that, she goes on. He puts his hand on the back of her seat to back out of the driveway, turning the wheel, dropping into gear. As they cruise toward the university — Lukas is familiar with the area because Danicka goes to school here — he’s quiet, thinking.

“Kate mentioned that battle. She mentioned some sort of psychic attack, but it didn’t seem to hit her nearly so hard. Maybe you ought to get Cleansed, just to make sure there isn’t some lingering taint in you causing these visions. Other than that… I don’t know. You say you saw things that might of been if not for fate. Maybe part of exorcising your demons is going to have to be trying to make sure those things never happen because of what you do, not because of blind luck.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens, frowning. To her credit, she looks apologetic when Lukas reacts to her refusal to tell him. Some things you just can’t talk about. If only because voicing them aloud might push you right over that edge you’re tap dancing along.

She actually chuckles a little when Lukas says she needs to make sure the things never happen. “Yeah, I’m on that. Been on it for a while now. I just gotta do it better. Or let it go, one of the two.” She sighs and nods. “Getting Cleansed might be good. Carter’s twitchy enough, he doesn’t need his sleep getting interrupted every half-hour or so by the crazy bitch in the next room.”

[Lukas] There’s a sort of fondness in the way he glances at his newest packmate. “I know you have. You’re not the sort to let crap fester and just cry about it without doing anything. I just meant — maybe that’s a way to put this to rest. I know if I’m hung up on something, usually I just need to do everything in my power to make sure things go the way I hope. Then even if it doesn’t, I know I’ve done my best, and I’m at peace with myself.

“Maybe it’ll be something similar with you. Maybe things won’t right themselves immediately, but eventually.

“As for Carter — I think he’s actually getting a little better. He hasn’t burned Kate’s house down yet. He even showed some interest in protecting the Caern today. I’m letting him go to Imogen’s meeting. If he doesn’t completely implode there, maybe he’s not a completely lost cause after all.”

[Lukas] [bbiab, shower!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well, that’s good. Massive smoke inhalation isn’t good for my complexion.” She smirks a little, then sighs.

“If you can fix that one, I’ll be impressed, I’ll tell you.” She shakes her head. “He’s definitely improved. But in all honesty, I’ve found that it takes just a little twitch, something minor, to send them way over the edge. They try to do something good–maybe the wrong way, but they’ve got the right idea. And everybody freaks out over it because it’s not the way it quote-unquote ‘should’ be done. And then when their attempt to reach out and try what we’re guiding them to is rejected, they have a poor reaction, which gives the some of the Trueborn who have been predicting all along that they would fail every little bit of ammo they need to show that indeed, it’s all fucked up and there’s no point in trying. Which just sends the kin further over the edge.”

She looks at Lukas. “What I’m saying is, Carter’s headed in a good direction. But the first step isn’t the hardest by a long shot, no matter what the old adages say. It’s the first step that they lose their footing on. That’s the hardest.”

[Lukas] “True,” Lukas says. “It’s not an easy path he’s on. And I even understand the argument that it’s not all his fault that he’s on the path at all. He turned out this way because he was brutalized. But the problem is that that’s like arguing we should let serial killers walk because they were abused as kids. Plenty of kids get abused without turning into murderers. Plenty of kin get brutalized without turning into rabid racists. It can’t all be nurture; some of that is nature. And I suppose from my perspective, that sort of nature is weak.

“I guess all of that is just me saying: I know every step of his life is going to be an uphill battle. But then so are our lives. And if he’s strong enough he’ll save his hatred for those that really deserve it.”

They’re down around the UoC’s vicinity now. These streets, so bustling and busy by day, are quiet at night. Used bookstores, cafes and quirky-trendy little shops pepper the streets. Flyers for parties, clubs, organizations and demonstrations flutter on lampposts.

“Any of this look familiar to you? Any memory bells ringing?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “No, I get what you’re saying. I’m not making any excuses for what he’s done…because you’re right, you can’t blame it all on what’s happened to you. Or that he should be coddled for the whole of his existence. What I’m saying is, right now is critical. If he’s starting to make overtures, he’s testing the waters and waiting for someone to prove his old instincts right. Just like Kora and her insularity, he needs to get a bit of reassurance that when he trips and falls, we’re not just there waiting to give him the big ol’ boot party he’s waiting for.”

She looks out the window and frowns. “Vaguely, but I’ve been here before. Amy and I were gonna get a…” She pauses, and blinks.

“Oh hell. Make a right at the next light, go down the street. There’s an apartment complex down there. I think that’s where I parked it.”

[Lukas] “Huh.” There’s a quiet; it’s obvious Lukas is mulling this over. “A second second chance? I can see the benefit there, both from a compassionate and a practical standpoint. But I suppose the way I was taught, you give one warning, and that is the second chance. After that it’s time for discipline. The philosophy there is that they should be expecting a boot party if they falter again. And if you don’t give it to them, then you’ll have nothing but empty threats ever after.”

Sarita says make a right. Lukas gives her a look of some skepticism, but complies. Around the corner they go.

“My mate goes to school here,” he comments. “Funny thing is, I think once upon a time she gave me similar advice. About second-second chances.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Your mate’s a smart woman.” She smiles a little. “And you’re right. Most people, you give one chance to. After that one chance, they fuck up again, there’s an ass-kicking coming. Either figuratively or literally if warranted. But then there’s other people. The people who have every reason not to trust you, who are trying to find their way onto the path again. They have to be handled differently. And I’m not saying that if he tries to shoot one of us that we should take the gun and gently explain ‘No, we don’t do that.’ But when–and I ~do~ think it’s a when, not an if–when he is given a reason right out of the gate by some idiot cliath with a power trip that justifies everything he thinks and he reacts badly, he needs to see there’s a different side.”

A little smile. “Different strokes for different folks.”

As they approach the apartment complex at the end of the street, the one with the big ad for new places, she groans and facepalms. “God, I’m a fucking idiot. Yeah, we’re gonna be here, inside the parking lot. I must have been trying to pull some fucking Elm Street/Inception shit. Change the dream and all, do what I thought I should have.”

[Danicka Musil] And standing outside those apartments, those big ads for new places, is a slim blonde woman in ankle boots, cream-colored tights, a knee-length leather pencil skirt, and a somewhat loose silk blouse in pink. And there’s jewelry and there’s her pulling on a trench coat and a Dunhill held between her lips, releasing a faint curl of smoke upwards. She’s got a bright yellow satchel, some dainty Kate Spade bag, and is talking to a woman about her own age.

That woman is white, barefoot, dreadlocked, hair-kerchiefed, pierced, hand-tattooed, bangled, broomstick-skirted, handwoven alpaca cardigan’d, and incensed. And shivering. She’s doing most of the talking.

[Lukas] “Huh,” Lukas says again.

He doesn’t say anything more than that — not I’ll think about it, and not maybe you’re right. He doesn’t need to say that. Sarita can tell by the sound of his voice, the faint furrow to his brow, that he’s heard her. She hasn’t known him that long, all things considered, but she knows him well enough already to know he will consider what she’s said. Counseled. And the next time Carter trips up, he just might find a little more slack in the figurative rope. Maybe.

He’s turning into that complex then. Sarita’s referencing two more movies. Lukas, amused: “Do you just sit in your van and watch movies or something?” The headlights wash over Danicka. Lukas blinks. “What the.”

That frown isn’t a thoughtful one. The Beemer comes to a stop a little harder than necessary. He barely knocks the gearshift into neutral and pulls up the handbrake before he’s out of the car, barking.

Hey!” Camera pans over: Lukas standing in the V of his opened car door, one hand on the hood, the other on the door. Glowering. “What the hell?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She laughs. “Hey, I had a good solid sixteen years before I had any freaking idea about this shit. Had a lot of bad habits I built up during that time, and a fascination with pop culture was one of them.”

And then all of the sudden, Lukas is up and yelling at someone. Sarita doesn’t ask questions; she just hops up and takes the same pose on her side of the car. Instant back-up, just add Strider.

[Danicka Musil] The woman in the alpaca sweater and long, swishy skirt startles when Lukas jerks the BMW to a stop and glares, glowers, barks. She blinks, deer in the headlights, then glares right back.

Danicka takes a drag of her expensive little cigarette and exhales smoke to the side a moment later, relaxed as she was before. “Sometimes,” she answers, “I smoke,” as though this is what he’s barking about. Which it might be. She gestures to the woman next to her. “Luk√°Ň°, this is Kumari Dawson. She’s working on her PhD in Environmental Science and Public Policy. Dr. Whitby introduced me to her after I heard about the groundbreaking over by the docks.”

She doesn’t raise an eyebrow or inflect her voice pointedly as though to say hint hint, honey. She just introduces the woman calmly, then: “Kumari, this is my partner –” god, she knows her audience, doesn’t she, “Luk√°Ň° Kvasni&+269;ka, who only likes it when I smoke earthier fare.” Smiling, she drops the cigarette, crushes it under a bootheel, then picks up the butt with a tissue from her purse and tosses it into a wastebin as though making a peace offering. “With him is our friend Sarita.”

Kumari has stopped glaring. “Dani,” and she doesn’t say Danny as Sam Modine or Ilari Martin would, calls her Dahni, merely leaving off the harder-to-pronounce part of her name, “says the whole thing sounds shady as hell,” says the woman, speaking with the sort of clarity that compensates somewhat for her urgency, her passion, her anger, “and I think she’s right. They’re not even pretending to care anymore.”

[Lukas] Well, at least the anger, so defensive, so ready to defend, is gone. In its place is bafflement. She’s talking about earthier fare. Her — not attacker, it turns out, though it’s vaguely absurd to even worry about someone like Danicka, with glory notches on her belt and a mother who was literally legendary — new friend starts right into something being shady as hell. And she agrees. And ‘they’ don’t even pretend to care anymore.

“Uh,” says Lukas. Great first impression. Now the Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science and Public Policy thinks Danicka’s partner is a great lumbering lummox. Who’s wearing old jeans and a t-shirt under his jacket, at that.

“Uh.” The penny drops at last. “Of course they don’t even pretend to care. The Republicans are back in Congress. They don’t have to pretend anymore.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Sarita can’t help it. She’s very good about hiding her grin at Lukas’ reaction. Even if dark brown eyes sparkle with laughter, forgetting all the trauma of the last forty-eight hours for just a moment, her expression is calm, relaxed nodding. She’s a freaking pot dealer, for Christ’s sake. If she doesn’t know how to deal with environmentalists rebelling against THE MAN, then she’s in the wrong line of fucking work.

“No shit, dude.” She nods a little bit to Lukas, head bobbing just a touch. “We’re deep in the shit now. Fuckers are gonna turn it into another chance to bulldoze our children’s future into some kind of fuckin’ landfill for a few extra bucks. Fuck that shit.”

Yes, she’s playing the less-educated one in this group. Every rant against [b]THE MAN[/i] needs one of those. Meanwhile, inwardly she’s laughing.

[Danicka Musil] Uh, says the Adren Shadow Lord, Alpha of his pack, Alpha of his tribe, Alpha of his auspice. Driving a Beemer and wearing scruffy clothes under his jacket. Christ only knows what that hippy thinks of him now. Except that he has it backwards. Kumari sees someone not worried about labels or the newest car — though really he could have chosen something a bit greener, people are so lazy — but also someone who’s 420friendly and not so macho to mind being an equal partner with his legally defined companion rather than some patriarchal husband insisting on her changing her name.

After another Uh, he grouses about the Republicans, and Sarita starts tossing all kinds of F-bombs and acting like a moron. Danicka, for her part, doesn’t mind wearing leather around her hippy acquaintance. She’s aware that Kumari may try to convert her to unshaved legs and a SmartCar if she works too much with the woman, but she’s confident that once Kumari starts talking to other students and once Danicka starts giving classmates of hers Kumari’s number

there’s going to be one hell of a protest at the construction site for that reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times to cover. After all, the weather’s starting to get tolerable.

Kumari’s eyebrows flick a bit at Sarita, but she nods to the two newcomers, and Danicka’s speaking up again, reaching to shake the woman’s hand. The woman hugs her. Over her shoulder, Danicka rolls her eyes at Lukas — and Sarita, really. But then she smiles, and Sarita, who has never seen how effective a liar Danicka is, may indeed be surprised at how smoothly, how quickly, how convincingly her expression changes, right up to the light in her green eyes as she draws back, hands on Kumari’s shoulders.

“I’ll be in touch,” Danicka says. “I have some friends who live in that area who started looking into all this business and then soon as they did, bam. Suddenly the place they live needs a state inspection.”

She and Kumari both shake their heads, angry and weary together. She squeezes the hippy’s shoulder, says her goodbyes, and tells her to get inside before her feet freeze. Then she’s striding over to the Beemer, raising her eyebrows at the Unbroken.

“I’m going to pass this along to Matthieu, too, but just in case cameras arrive, I think the Kin and Garou should stay away from the protest. We don’t need our people’s names and faces in the media; it just makes them targets.”

[Lukas] Kumari departs. Lukas holds up a hand in farewell. Then Danicka is coming over to the Beemer, and Lukas is stepping around the door to give her a quick hug.

“You got a protest set up in twelve hours?” He looks a little gobsmacked. And impressed. “I talked to Imogen Slaughter and Kora a little earlier. Imogen she’d try to get all the kin together to hear everyone out and get a plan to Deal With This. Obviously, you and Matthieu are invited. I’m letting Carter go too. He had some ideas. Not sure if they’re feasible, but he’s actually trying to protect the Caern, and I think I should probably encourage that. Let me know if he actually contributes or if he tries to start another anti-Garou rally.

“On the way over Sarita and I were talking about unexpected acts of mercy, by the way.” A quirk of a smile, “I told her you talked to me about something like that once.”

[Danicka Musil] “No, I talked to someone who will set up a protest,” Danicka corrects, cautious as ever to Lukas’s sometimes surprising optimism. “The wheels are in motion, though. I have one semi-influential person angry and one semi-accessible reporter interested. It’s going to take time for that to turn into something concrete.”

She is hugged, and she stands on her toes and gives him a kiss on the cheek. She took exactly one drag of that cigarette. She doesn’t exactly smell like Essence of Lung Cancer quite yet.

She nods to the rest, though, about the meeting and Imogen and Carter and so forth. Glances over at Sarita to smile at her, give a little wave, then raises her eyebrows at Lukas. “What?” she asks, clearly clueless as to what he could be referencing.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Yeah, keeping our peeps away from any kind of public action is probably a good thing. No need establishing a pattern of behavior that a paid-off court of law can come in and persecute over.” Some people might assume she used the wrong word and really meant to say ‘prosecute.’ They’d be wrong.

When Lukas mentions the unexpected acts of mercy conversation, she just grins a little and shrugs. “Great minds think alike, I guess. Hola, by the way.”

[Danicka Musil] [put my post after Sarita’s!]

[Lukas] The light in his eyes, the sort of surprised-pleased-happy look he gets when he runs across Danicka unexpectedly, dims a little. There was a reason he never got into the details with Sarita — though it wasn’t secrecy. Something more like shame, a willingness to forget the specifics.

“It was a long time ago,” he says quietly — unflinchingly honest, “when I told you not to lie to me again or else. And you told me sometimes positive reinforcement works better, because negative can only escalate to stay effective.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Hey, that’s the best kind action,” she says with a grin when Danicka speaks of what she has and hasn’t done. “Actions with built in plausible deniablity. That stuff doesn’t happen every day, so take it when you can, y’klnow?”

[Danicka Musil] Not anything recent, then. Not when he talked to her about Ray and Marni, not when they argued about Martin, nothing like that. Back all the way to the Blue Chalk Cafe, a place he doesn’t even like to go anymore because of some memory, some shame. And her brows flick together but not in much of a frown

because Sarita may be Lukas’s packmate but so was Sam, backhanding her in the Brotherhood, stalking her to her apartment and following her around Grant Park. So was Kate, when Kate was the monster appearing out of nowhere in Danicka’s home, chasing her roommate around, snarling at him, tying him down. So was Mrena, who saw the slightest subterfuge and convinced herself it was a plot to destroy the pack from within, not just an attempt to hide the fact that she wanted to do something nice and make Lukas happy. So was Theron, foolishly thinking Danicka could tell him how to stop chasing tail and get the sort of bond she has with Lukas, as though there was some secret to it she could unlock for him.

Sarita doesn’t have Danicka’s trust. She’s the devil Danicka doesn’t know yet.

So that frown is a flick, and then it’s gone. She puts her hand on Lukas’s face for a moment with a gentle smile. What she wants to say, she doesn’t say in front of Sarita. Her hand slides back and she smiles again. “I was going to take the El back to my place, but since you’re here,” she implies, waggling her brows.

[Lukas] Danicka doesn’t know Sarita yet. Lukas hopes she’ll get to, though. Because — let’s be honest — Lukas knows that this pack has its core. Its true, dependable brothers and sisters. And then at any give time it has some assortment of wolves that run more on the fringes, that never quite dovetail with the unspoken ideals and vision and character of the pack. Oftentimes there’s no way to tell just which side of that line a Garou will fall on until they’ve joined.

With Sinclair, they got a winner. With Sarita, they hit the jackpot again. And Lukas wants his mate to get to know this Ragabash — this smart-alecking, playful, ineffably wise Ragabash. Who knows how to love her sister without smothering her. Who knows how not to pretend she’s Danicka’s best friend the second or third time they ever meet.

Sarita doesn’t really comment on what Lukas and Danicka talk about. She keeps her response aimed toward the more public, less raw part of the conversation. That’s wisdom, too, and Lukas is thankful for it.

And then — grinning again, a little crooked, covering his mate’s hand on his cheek for a second.

“I suppose you won’t be taking the El after all,” he says. “Sarita,” he nods to the painted van parked inconspicuously in the corner of the lot, “is that it, or are there two vans that look just like that in the city?”

[that’s my last post! i’ma stick around for a bit to see if Sam is awake enough to post again, but then i’m zonking!]

[Danicka Musil] [zonks are imminent here, too]

[Lukas] [OKAY, time to pile drunkfrend into back seat.]

[Danicka Musil] [*SIGH*

*helps Damon carry Sam to car*]

[Lukas] [*opens door, stuffs in*]

[Danicka Musil] [*tosses keys over to Damon*]

[Danicka Musil] [THANKS FOR THE RP! :] ]

[Lukas] [*slams door, zooms off*!]

[cricket] [ACK *exits*]

[Lukas] [thanks for RP! *LOL*]

A Drunken Phone Call

[Kieran Mondblume] And what is going to happen? What is the worst that will happen if she fights with us, Simon? She gets killed by the enemy. Or one of us. *He is clearly unhappy with the prospect.* But if we constantly try and force someone like that to be an obedient kin, only one of us is getting hurt. I like my balls where they are, sir, how about you? *He gets out a small grin.* So why the hell not? Let her tag along. If she fights, and is killed by the enemy. That’s how we all plan to go out anyway. Clawing, kicking and screaming, taking the biggest thing we can down with us.

[Starla] “When ya come across a big angry bear, ya don’t pick up a stick and keep poking at it until it gets annoyed, it ain’t fun. S’like constantly sticking yar hand in a candle repeatedly, and then wondering why ya get burnt. She keeps doing it.”

Ki says they should try to work with Amunet, Starla lifts her eyes to stare at the Uktena incredulously. The corners of her lips twitch, flattening into a thin line. Her nose wrinkles again, the freckles dusting her left cheek dance over smooth bronze skin. She is listening to the Garou, her attention moving easily between Simon and Kieran.

“I disagree. Why take her with ya and then risk yar life trying to keep her alive if she gits into danger. I know how some Garou are, they’ll put themselves in the path before letting a kin take the bullet they deserve.”

[Heather Payton] She bites her bottom lip, feeling sort of like the houseguest during a family fight.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He arches an eyebrow at that.* If a Wyrm creature attacks her, I should hope to the Mother that you attack it, no matter who it is going after. At that point, it wouldn’t be a matter of defending the kin, but bringing down evil.

*He shrugs, and smiles faintly.* But it shouldn’t be me deciding for her. Ask her mate. See what he says. I’m… not talking big things. Not like war. Or a huge battle, or taking her into a Spiral’s hive. I’m taking… patrol once with her. Let her work with us. See how it works.

[Amunet Knezevic] “I haven’t gotten a single Trueborn hurt, let alone killed.” She leans in the doorway to the hall, gaze on Starla now. “Not once, in all of the shit I’ve been on. Ask Stefan, or Joey. Ask Kieran. I hold my own”

[Simon Zahradnik] He shakes his head.”You don’t bring civilians onto the battlefield. If they’re not properly trained and equipped for the battlefield they are actually a hindrance to the battle itself. By equipped I don’t even mean trained… You can know how to use a gun all you like but if you don’t know and respect the chain of command you are a liability on the battlefield and more dangerous to your own side than the enemy. That kind of decision making gets garou killed… If I was stupid enough to bring a kin who was entirely unprepared for battle then I would be putting the lives of every garou on that battlefield in peril. As a result I would be doing the Wyrms job for it… By letting her set foot on the battlefield I would be serving the Wyrms end and as Wyrmfoe I would be obligated to kill myself.”He says with a hint of a smile on his face at the end there.”No… I don’t like this plan.”

“How about she learns restraint, and respect?”He asks curiously.

[Kieran Mondblume] *He looks curiously at Simon.* We restrain our Kin, we risk them becoming formori more than anything else. Turning to some other power that will give them that ability to fight. You leash all of them, and you are doing the Wyrm’s job for it more efficiently than if you bring one with you.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Then don’t take me. Rhya.” Her eyes move to Simon now, but are quickly drawn to Kieran.

John taught her to be quiet, and she puts that to use now.

[Simon Zahradnik] He shakes his head.”We’re not a democratically elected society… We are an army selected because we were chosen and nothing more. Tell me New Moon when and where did Gaia ever offer you or I the choice as to whether or not we had to spend the rest of our lives serving in this army?”He asks Ki curiously.”Freedom might be a pretty thing but it’s not what we were put here on this earth for. Freedom and Liberty are someone else’s ideal… We’re here to make sure there is a world in which others can practice it. To that effect we must stand ready with the wisdom and discipline to do whatever must be done in service to our cause. Without question, without fear, without hesitation.”He says back to the man with a little nod.

“Nowhere does it say we get a choice in our duties. We carry out our responsibilities… Period. We do what we need to do and we don’t care that we never got a choice. Right? Gaia didn’t create us as her little agents of peace and democracy. We’re Gaia’s defenders and that is what we do.”

[Starla] Never once has Amunet gotten a Garou killed for her actions, Starla meditates on those exact words. She redirects her gaze to the Strider kin, now mated to a Shadow Lord; something shifts in Starla’s demeanor, she is finding it difficult to snap back as quickly with witty retorts.

She shifts her body against the banister, wiggling and leaning to arch back, trying to alleviate an itch that doesn’t seem to want to go away. They continue to address the issue about restraint, how inappropriate it was to bring a kin to the battlefield as Simon put it so eloquently. She flicks her gaze over to the Ahroun, arching an eyebrow as she studies him quietly, mouth pursed together in quiet contemplation. He’s doing exactly what he does best, talking.

[Kieran Mondblume] Yes, sir, *he says with a small nod.* I know. And it is a pack’s responsibility to watch over one another. It is not freedom, however, that I speak of. It is the fact that by restraining our kin, we are risking them turning to the Wyrm. I have seen it happen before. An unsatisfied kin, feeling as if they were lower than their station, lower than the dirt on the ground, wanting power. Is almost as dangerous as one of us falling.

Nothing about democracy, or peace. We’re of war. I know that all too well. But we create an enemy of who could be an ally, another pair of sharp eyes, another pair of fists to draw them away. Another quick creature. I think in tactics, Wyrmfoe. I can’t help but see the merit in having more eyes out there to gather more information.

[Amunet Knezevic] She drifts closer, arms crossed around her middle. She stops next to Kieran, close enough that her elbow brushes him.

[Simon Zahradnik] He shakes his head.”If our kin turn to the Wyrm it is not because we told them what to do. If our kin turn to the Wyrm it is because they were too weak to turn anywhere else. Completely betraying everything your believe in and stand for is not something that happens when a person holds their head high and proud about who and what they are.”He says back to the New Moon.”There’s no shame in serving… In standing the fuck up and doing your part. There’s nothing wrong with looking at yourself in the mirror and being proud of who in the fuck you were born and the life that was decided for you. If you are weak and loathe your person then you open yourself to corruption.”

“I don’t think we need to be treating our kin as anything special. If they don’t have the nerve to step the fuck forward and do their job they’re either useless to us or a danger to us and in either case we can’t trust them enough to be a part of our society. So they should be removed from it one way or another.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “But what is their job, Rhya? If you ask some Trueborn, the job of kinfolk is nothing more than repopulating the Nation, on the rapidly shrinking chance that more True are born.”

[Kieran Mondblume] I disagree, *he says idly. He rolls his shoulders.* I do, however, need to get out. I have a bit of patrolling to do myself. I have no shame in what I am either, Wyrmfoe. Being uncertain of oneself, however, does happen. And if you prod that uncertainty, you open a wound. And any number of diseases can go into that wound. Not treating our kin as special. But getting them to help us. To get to those wounds before they fester.

Good night, sir.

[Amy’s Cell Phone] Don’t we just have perfect timing? Interrupting a debate Amy’s having with a Garou about the role of kinfolk. Of course, you would probably have to schedule time where you’re not interrupting one of those debates if you’re calling during her waking hours. But that’s why we love her. She’s spirited, is the word that they use.

Oh…uh, yeah. I mean, “Riiiiiiiiing,” or rather, “Insert Amy’s Ring Tone Here.”

[Starla] The no moon disagrees with the Ahroun, Starla flicks her gaze away, stepping forward to move from the banister. She tilts her head to the side, arching an eyebrow at Simon. “So how do ya feel, Simon, when a kin steps out of their place and threatens yar honor wit’ the actions that they take. What about the things we do, thinking we’re halping Garou, only seems to make’em think they’re weak, that they can’t do it themselves.”

She shakes her head, “I don’t know anymore what ya’ll expect from us kin.”

[Amunet Knezevic] She looks irritated when Kieran leaves, then even more irritated when her phone goes off. Her eyes flicker from Starla to Simon to poor, quiet Heather before she steps away to answer her phone.

“This is Amunet.”

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Amy.” Sarita is quiet, and she sounds drunk from the bit of slurring even in that short word. She actually sounds…somehow relieved to hear Amy’s voice. “Yer okay. Good.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “Why would I not be okay?” She tries to keep her tone low, brow creasing in a frown.

[Simon Zahradnik] He nods his head back towards Kieran.”Goodnight to you as well.”

He then looks back to Amunet.”When I walk around out there… People are terrified of me. I can’t get a cup of coffee without someone staring at me in terror like they are gonna piss their pants. Dogs fuckin’ attack me for no reason and babies cry when I walk into the room. That is how it is on the rare fucking break I have between having my face ripped off by freaky scaly skinned eight eyed maggot monsters. And the whole time… Every second of my life I am screaming in my head because all I wanna do is beat the holy living fuck out of everything I see!”He says as his eyes burn furiously.

“Maye you got the impression that that the life of the garou is all hugs and giggles but you might be surprised to learn that we’ve got a goddamn good reason to be a little pissed off.”He shrugs.”Our kin are the one thing in this world that isn’t running in fear us or attacking us constantly. Sometimes it’s nice to have people, and family, and friends you can trust and rely and depend on. That’s the kin’s job.”He says before a phone rings and the Full moon turns his attention back to Heather.

“You alright over there?”

[Because Simon would be pissed as fuck if she answered the phone in the middle of him answering her question I am gonna say this goes BEFORE the phone Rang.]

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Mmm…no reason.” A pause, and the exhalation that typically comes with a lungful of smoke being exhaled.

“Never mind, Ame. Ignore me. I’m ignorable. Jus’…had a bad dream. Needed to…jus’…”

She sighs, quiet a moment. A very long moment, in fact. “Jus’ needed t’hear your voice. Rea…y’know. Just needed to know you’re okay. An’ you are…so s’all good.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] The scowl deepens, and she moves down the hall for her phone call.

[Amunet Knezevic] “What the fuck, Sar? Are you okay?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Heather Payton] She nods. “Totally fine. Just listenin’.”

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Yeah, yeah.” Some fumbling around. Amy might recognize the sounds from previous times that they’ve spoken. The enclosed area of the van just sounds different from anywhere else after you’ve slept in it for so long.

“Yeah, m’fine. Just chillin’. Like I said, woke up’n had a bad dream. But you’re good. S’all good.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “I’m fine. I promise. What was the dream about?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Simon Zahradnik] His eyes narrow and he watches Amy disappear down the hall his fury shines through but he eventually turns his attention back to Starla.”I think that kin should do what their tribe or mate needs of them. If their actions actually shame that person in question then they should probably not be doing it should they?”He asks Starla curiously.

[Starla] Starla’s frowns; he was addressing Amunet before she answered her phone. Heather was quiet on the couch, simply listening to the conversation. The Gaian kin glances down at the suitcase sitting next to her leg, scrunching up her nose, she sucks in a deep breath, cheeks billowing out as she releases her breath.

“Guess this is the time for awkward silences.”

[Heather Payton] “Well. I’m gonna have to call it a night. Gotta work t’morrow. Have a great night!” And off she goes, to question whether or not she made the right decision. ((bed!))

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Don’n’t matter.” She says it quickly, almost short with Amy. Definitely a blunt cut-off of that line of conversation. She’s quiet for a long moment again.

“How”re you an’ Hunter? Y’still hate each other?”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Starla] Starla relaxes her arms, the left arm drops to her side, tucking her left hand behind her to rest it on the back of her hip. The right hand lifts to touch along her freckled cheeks, she squints at Simon’s remark, running her hand along the line of her jaw from left to right and back again. Her nostrils flare out, snorting softly in response.

“It sounds easy when ya phrase it like that, Simon, but then actually doing the act and then git’n caught for doing it, may go against the desire to keep doing it. Do ya jus’ stop all together or keep it up and not give a fuck. It’ll still look real bad.”

[Amunet Knezevic] She sighs heavily, then is quiet for a long moment. “I don’t hate him. I just wish he were dead.”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Simon Zahradnik] He looks back at Starla.”We all have to make decisions in life and sometimes the decisions you make will affect what others think of you. That doesn’t mean you have to make decisions one way or another just be sure that when you make a decision that there will be consequences for that you are ready to face the consequences.”

[Amy’s Cell Phone] That makes her laugh. It’s one of those sudden, wildly inappropriate laughs. It cuts off into something else. There’s something a little bit wild in it…something a touch unhinged, before it calms down.

“Sorry.” She coughs. “Had to be there.” There’s another long pause, before…

“M’sorry, Amy. That I didn’t do a better job keepin’ ya safe from…the last couple-a months. Y’deserved a better job from me than that.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Starla] She closes her eyes for a brief second, maneuvers her hand up so the first couple of fingers pinches the bridge of her nose, she listens to the things he tells her, her breath draws inward sharply, then slowly rolls out into a sigh. “Roman knows, Simon, he ain’t too happy wit’ me either, seems like for all the good I thought I done by halping out wit’ that usb flash drive, ‘cus I didn’t go to him or the Last Watch, ‘cus I thought it better to go to the Wyrmfoe instead. He said, it seems like I ain’t got no trust in ’em, me thinking I was protecting the Church by not returning there… I jus’ done nothing but stupid shit.”

She sighs now, dropping her hand from her face, letting it slap uselessly against her thigh, she tilts her head to scrutinize him, “It paints a whole different picture when ya got ya blood kin calling ya a whore for sleeping wit’ a man they don’t, and it turns dishonorable.”

[Amunet Knezevic] She’s quiet for a few seconds. “What the fuck is going on, Sar? Seriously”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “S’goin’ on is that I fucked up. And you got fucked up ’cause-a it. Over an’ over an’ over again. Just one on top-a the other, takin’ turns until…”

She cuts of suddenly, breath catching. There are a few moments before she speaks again. “That psycho fucker better be good to you. I know ‘e’ll to a better job’n I did. But if he destroys you, I’m-a kill ‘im. Jus’ hadta say that.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] Her voice is quiet and gentle then “Where are you?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Simon Zahradnik] He looks back at Starla with his hands folding over his chest. He hadn’t even bathed yet, or cleaned himself up, and yet he didn’t feel the need to do so anytime soon either.”That’s funny that he’ll call you a whore and yet there isn’t a girl alive that boy isn’t trying to get into bed. That sounds more to me like anger than anything else. Your guardian shouldn’t be calling you a whore…”He shrugs his shoulders and looks a little bit angry.”As for how you deal with the matter… I suppose that’s up to you.”

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “M’in the van.” No shit, Sherlock. “I jus’…needed to get some me time, y’know? I like me time. I miss us time too, but me time is good.”

A sigh. “M’fine, Ame. I just…I didn’t sleep well. I had a bad dream an’ it just…don’ worry about it. Do your thing…go be you. Te amo.
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] She thinks about it for a minute. How easy it would probably be right now to talk Sar into coming and getting her, then pointing the van west and driving until there wasn’t anywhere to drive to anymore. How the first couple of days might be awkward, before it settled into their old pattern. When everything was how it was before.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Sar.” Is what she says instead. “I’m a big girl. I made my own decisions. Why did you ask about Hunter?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Starla] They standing at a distance from each other, Starla sags against the banister again, a weariness born into her features as wave of frustration watches over her. It builds a tension in the middle of her shoulder blades, runs down her spine to make her body go rigid. Her leg nudges against the suitcase at her side, his words make her gaze drop from him and back to it.

Her entire life was in that single suitcase, hadn’t taken her a long time to pack it up, to drag it out the door when she left the Church.

He hasn’t cleaned himself, he’s bloody from battle, wears it like it was just another addition to the mural of tattoos he already has. She clears her throat, swings her gaze back up to meet his, frowning. “I git the impression that Roman’s done wit’ me, he ain’t gone trust anything I say or do from now on. He mentioned something about me finding another protector, and I really am tired staying at the Church.”

She shrugs, “I can stand on my own two feet, I jus’ don’t know where I stand that one little private matter.”

[Simon Zahradnik] He shakes his head.”Well my car’s outside let me clean up and you can stay with me till I talk to Roman.”He says with a nod of his head. He looked as if he was looking rather angry at the moment but quietly he slipped back to pay a visit to a shower.

[Amunet Knezevic] Amy looks distressed, bottom lip having been chewed to bloody while she talks on the phone. Her eyes track Simon as he moves by, but don’t meet his now.

[Starla] Starla just nods her head, “Yeah, I’ll hang out here til ya get cleaned up…” he was looking rather angry and she couldn’t quite meet that heated gaze, just watches him leave when exits to go clean up.

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Jus’…no reason.” Even as drunk as she is, she knows how lame that sounds. “Wanned to make sure m’top was gonna fall over. Not keep spinnin’ on forever and forever.”

An Inception reference. Checking to make sure she was awake and not dreaming.
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “You should shift, burn the alcohol off. Then come and get me.”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Get you.” A moment as she processes. “Y’in trouble? Whassrong?”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “No.” She answers quickly, to avoid an incident “No. Not at all. I’m just at the Broho. I stopped in to check the board.”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Oh.” Amy can practically hear Sarita blink. They know each other that well. “Well…wha’, you wanna hang out?”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] Hang out. Run away. Whichever. “Yeah…”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Dunno if thassa good idea. Yer mate gonna be good with that?” A cough sounds. “An’…no ‘ffense, I always wanna be aroundja…but I a’mt good comp’ny right now. M’all grumpy an’ shit.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “He doesn’t own me, Sar.” It comes out sharper than she means for it to, and defensive sounding.
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Yer right…yer right.” She sounds immediately apologetic. Rolling over very quickly tonight, it seems. “M’sorry. Din’t mean that.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “It’s okay. I’m sorry. I know you didn’t mean that.” Her nose stings suddenly. She walks down the other bend of the hall, tapping softly on the door of room nine before opening it and slipping inside.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. Okay?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “S’not the way I see it. But okay.” It’s pained, weary. Resigned.

“M’sorry. I didn’t mean to…drag you down. Y’know. Hope I didn’t ruin yer night.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “Do you ever think about what would be different, if we’d have kept going to Madison instead? All the shit that wouldn’t have probably happened? Your pack, and…”

She trails off, her breath hitching now.
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “Yeah.” She’s quiet a moment. “Think ’bout that a lot. Both good an’ bad.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “It might have all gone to shit. It might have turned out like fucking Dallas. It might have been really fucking horrible, you know?”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “It coulda been the worst shit ever, I know.” She sighs. “Here ain’t so bad, right? I mean, beyond the piles o’ fucked-up shit, there’s been some good?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Yeah….” She sniffles, very quietly. “I should get back. I told him an hour like, three hours ago.”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “I love you. M’sorry. I din’t mean t’upset you.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “You didn’t. I upset me. I love you too. Come over, okay? Soon. Promise.”
to¬†Amy’s Cell Phone

[Amy’s Cell Phone] “‘kay. Talk t’ya soon. Blame it on me. I give you p’mission.” A chuckle. “I’m blamable.”
to Amunet Knezevic

[Amunet Knezevic] “Yeah, well. So am I.” She sniffles again, then sighs. “Bye, Sar. I love you.”

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