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 😦 ]

[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. “Lukáš, 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, “Lukáš 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*]

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