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!]

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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…well, 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—black 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…only 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—including themselves—differently. 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…should 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…listen, yes, but question as well…the 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—not 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…you 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…that’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…shake 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…questioning everyone and making sure no one is just resting easy or falling along party lines…that 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…and 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…having 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’s 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…Lukas, 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…can’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…all 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—a Chiropteran Spy and a Nightshade—out 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…s’up, sexy? It’s Sarita. Yeah, you too jackass.” It’s fondly said, and with a grin.

“Listen…I 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. 🙂 *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…okay. 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…a 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…less than normal inside of it. It needs to be checked out…I 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…windows, 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…our 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…err, 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—maybe two—possible 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—the assertion regarding going against her packmates, or her decision to return instead of learning more about the bane—is detailed. The critiques, the things she could have done better…she listens, and she nods. The idea of going to others in the Sept for aid gets a look on her face—the 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…after 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.”

…hey, 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—poorly—when 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.

He Clears The Air…Kinda

[Leon Davenport] It was friday evening, a night to go out and have fun. Instead, he had called a meeting he dreaded going to. He had been given the loft’s adress when he had contacted Lukas and drove the black Lexus there. He stepped out and made his way inside. The tall, athletic blond man was dressed in a dark suit, with a blue shirt and no tie.

He was greeted by lucille and lead to Lukas’s location. He was nervous, ucomfortable and partly afraid of how things will turn out. He had no real hope it’ll go well ofr him, but sometimes things had to be said and done no matter how hard they were.

He stopped, looking serious, offering a small bow to the Shadow Lord when he was in his presence “Good evening Rhya, thank you for seeing me” He says in a polite tone

[Wyrmbreaker] Might not help that there’s thunder in the sky tonight. A sudden and humid warmth in the air, almost oppressive in its abruptness and in the contrast to month upon month of ice and snow. Even now, driving up to the Loft, rain patters against Leon’s windshield. Leaves the shoulders of his suit faintly damp as he enters Katherine’s home; is shown upstairs by Katherine’s maid.

Lukas is in the rumpus room, feet bare. No restaurant service for him. He has a weapon in hand that no one in this Sept has ever seen him use in combat, and no one outside of his pack has ever seen him use, period. It’s a longsword: the cross and pommel unadorned, the blade long and gleaming-dark, indicative of carbon content in the steel. It looks old, but it’s not an heirloom. Not judging by the way he uses it, slamming it through quick straight cuts, blindingly fast.

Leon comes into sight and Lukas comes to a stop. He’s casually dressed – a plain white t-shirt, grey drawstring pants, swordbelt crossing his wide chest. He sheathes the sword over his shoulder, grabbing up a towel to blot sweat off his brow, the back of his neck. “No problem,” he says, gesturing Leon toward the cluster of couches and beanbag chairs near the entertainment center. “Thanks for coming out to the Loft.

“What’s going on?”

[Danicka] Lukas’s iPhone, lying — perhaps — on top of an end table where he left it, chimes. Or buzzes. And a picture of a rather lovely blonde woman, smiling good-naturedly (patiently) at the camera appears on the screen with big friendly letters: Danicka

[Leon Davenport] He watched Lukas handling a weapon. Great, jst great. Well this is the night I die it seem, he thinks sourly to himself. Well there’s no time like the present for it no? He took a deep breath “I have three things I need to talk with you about. Some not really..enjoyable for me.”

He walk and sit on the couch. He was nervous and tried notto show it. He was here to do the honorable thing after all, and also do things properly. Too bad ofr him, the honorable thing will probably put him in more trouble and then the proper thing will be denied. He knew it but will go through the motions anyway.

“The first thing I wanted to talk to you about was your impression of your tribesmate Nathalie. A kin of my tribe is living with her. Nathalie gave me a good impression, if too eager when I met with her. I jsut wanted to know if you think it’s safe for my kin to hang with her”

Ok, first subject on the way. The most innocent one too.

[Wyrmbreaker] Quick, a faint frown sketches it way across Lukas’s brow. “Nathalie generally means well,” he says, “but her rage sometimes exceeds her control, and her better intentions sometimes lead to worse ends. She’s sworn to do better. If nothing else, I believe she’ll try, and Shadow Lords don’t often make futile attempts. But in the end it’s your call, and you’ll have to make it based on your best judgment. As far as I can tell, you’re the one standing for the Walker kin now.”

His phone goes off. Lukas turns his head unhurriedly, then reaches over to pick it up. “I have to get this. Can you give me one minute?” He slides the accept button, raises the phone to his ear. “Ahoj, lásko. I’m at the Loft meeting with Leon right now.”

[Leon Davenport] He considered Lukas words about Nathalie. Well that was interesting. Seem liek Mickey went from the frying pan into the fire. He’ll have to talk to her about that. Then again, he’s not the one the kin wants to bed, so she mgiht ignore his warning and stay with the Shadow Lord anyway.

He nodded to Lukas “Thank you Rhya, I wanted the opinion of someone who knew her some. I’ll decide what I’ll do about it”

HLukas’s phone rang and Leon watched the Adren pick it up. He nodded to him when he asked for a minute and looked around. His pericing blue eyes looked at the room, not sure if he was grateful for the interruption or not. Part of him want this to be over as quickly as possible. The other part, wants to get the hell out and move ot Hawaaii

[Wyrmbreaker] Whatever the response is, it gets a brief smile out of Wyrmbreaker. Brief, but it’s genuine. Warm. And not an expression one sees often on his face; not quite the same way he smiles at a friend, or a packmate.

“Sounds good,” he says. “See you.”

After she hangs up, he does as well, locking the screen on his phone and setting it back face-down on the endtable. He turns his attention back to Leon, his expression expectant.

[Leon Davenport] He exhale slowly when Lukas’s attention came back to him. Here goes nothing “I have something I want to ask you, but first I need to tell you something that happened in february, something that was settled but keep popping out. So before you hear about it from someone else, if you haven’t already and because I well I need your approval and don’t feel I’d be worthy of it if I hide something like that”

He paused, what he has to say doesn’t seem like it will come out easilly “When I arrived in Chicago, late january, I met Amunet, Sarita’s sister. We started seeing each other, with her sister’s silent consent. It didn’t go very smoothly and after quite a few incidents, that i won’t mention unless you really need me to, I frenzied briefly on her and hit her quite hard, in Crinos. She got a commotion and broken wrist from that blow”

it was hard for him to confess, and his shame was apparent in his face. “I talked to Sarita after the incident, to apologize and set things right. Later, she had a talk with my Alpha to set conditions for me. Maybe our inital agreement wasn’t enough or maybe I was wrong and only thought weagreed. Anyway, they came with three conditions that I”ve been following: No contact with Amunet, no pursuing kin from another tribe without that kin’s Elder’s consent and take anger management lessons with a Philodox”

“He tilt his head “I don’t agree particularly with the last one but I’ll do it. I messed up and will take my responsabilities. I was hoping I could talk to Honor’s Compass about it. I think it would please Sarita if somone she trust and respect was supervising those lessons.

I’m not proud of what I did, and still feel the guilt for my actions. I have learned that, despites the saying anything worth having is hard, well sometime you just have to let go.”

He look at Lukas “So there you have it. This is what I needed to confess before getting to the other reason for this meeting”

[Wyrmbreaker] “I’ve heard about it,” Lukas says simply. “I’ve heard about why you lost your temper, and to be frank, I’m surprised you didn’t mention that yourself. It’s a mitigating circumstance, if nothing else.

“I have some questions, though. First: ‘silent consent’ — does that mean you asked her and she didn’t say no? Or that she found out otherwise and didn’t stop you? Second: you frenzied and hit her? Or you bit back a frenzy before it took hold and hit her? When we descend into frenzy, Leon, we use tooth and claw.”

[Leon Davenport] He seem to relax a little. The weight was off his shoulders and Lukas already knew. Now the hardest would be coming, once the hitting Amy subject was over. “I could hav talked about those circumstances but in the end. I made a mistake. I should have walked away sooner instead of waiting till I snap”

He paused before answering Lukas’s questions

“Silent consent is that we didn’t hide from her. She was with us the first night Amy decided to sleep with me. Ishould have asked her directly I guess, but he knew where Amy and I were gonig and didn’t say anything. Then on the next few days, we hanged the three of us. She neversaid no. So considered that she wasn’t against it. We laso had a few talks about what was happening between me and her sister. She gave some advises and all. To me, it meant that she accepted what was happening”

Another pause as he consider Lukas’s question “Did I frenzy? I odn’t know for sure. I mean I know I saw red, my brain shut down for a while, almsot liek a black out. I found myself towering over Amunet sprawling on the floor with parts of a broken bed in hands, ready to stab her. I stopped there, shifted back to homid and left. Maybe I jsut lost it in a purely human way, or had some kind of flash frenzy. I did care for her, maybe that stopped me fron killing her. Though Iheard about other frezying and once it was over, they had killed loved ones.

I wish I could tell you with certainity. I know I went nuts, lost control and got it back at the last moment”

[Wyrmbreaker] Totemphone!

Sarita, Leon says you gave implicit acceptance of his relationship with your sister before he blew it. He also says after he hit Amy, you and he settled it on the condition that he stays away from Amy, asks tribal alphas before pursuing another tribe’s kin, and learns to control himself from a Philodox. He says on those conditions, the two of you put the matter to rest. Is that true?
to Katherine Bellamonte, Danicka, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] A pause. Like, a couple of beats of dumbfounded pause.

Oh, you gotta be shitting me. Honestly, no that’s not accurate. The first part is true. I let them see each other. The second part is true with several details changed. The first time we talked over it, he threw two grand at me like that was gonna cover shit. At the time I was more worried about my sister who was acting like an abused house wife and we had a shattered bed that he almost stabbed her with as well as medical bills, so I used it to pay for those. Later, after I talked to Sinclair I realized that I wasn’t looking out for those other kin he might be around, so I talked with Matthieu. He and I came to that arrangement, yes. I don’t think he’s completely met it, since it’s been a month and he’s made no attempt to contact any Philodoxes, but yeah. I’ve still held up my end.”
to Danicka, Wyrmbreaker, Katherine Bellamonte

[Wyrmbreaker] There’s a pause on Lukas’s end too, so long that Leon might wonder if the Lord had somehow gotten ahold of a philodox’s gift for seeing truth through lies. It’s not that, though. It’s something at once simpler and more complex: astuteness, intelligence. Thought.

And connection.

“If you want to put this behind you,” he says finally, “then you need to own up to your faults and rise above them.

“It’s true that you came to me; you told me what had happened. You didn’t necessarily have to. This matter was settled, and even if it wasn’t — I’m not a Philodox. But there’s a defensiveness about the way you’re telling me that makes me think this isn’t just a fit of conscience. You spin the story to make yourself look better. Less guilty. More victimized. You didn’t tell me that Amunet cheated on you and that’s why you lost your temper, true. But nor did you tell me you tried to buy Sarita’s silence first, and only later, at her insistence, went to the mediation of Matthieu. You imply that because Sarita never protested, you didn’t need to seek her permission in the first place. You quibble over whether or not you actually frenzied, when — let’s be honest, Leon — if you had, Amunet would be dead.

“Now, you keep alluding to a third reason you came here tonight. That makes me think the reason you came to me at all, confessed at all, is an attempt to look good so you can ask me for something. And I’ll tell you this. The appearance of honor isn’t going to cut it. If you want me to think you honorable enough to trust, you need to show me genuine remorse. And you need to show genuine reformation in your actions.

“Whether or not Sarita protested, it was your duty to go to her as Amy’s guardian. To tell her of your intentions, and to fulfill whatever condition she asked of you. That burden is on you, the suitor, not her, the warder.

“Whether or not you were angry with Amunet, you didn’t lose it entirely. If you did, she’d be dead. You had the presence of mind not to rip her apart. You chose, on some level, to go to warform and hit a kinswoman.

“Whether or not she deserved punishment for what she did, you should have sought the price from another Garou. The other one in her bed, or the one that warded her. It’s dishonorable to take that price out on a kin.

“Whether or not you agree with this … anger management deal, you made it, and you must abide by it. You must pay that debt.

“And you need to own up to all your other faults. So long as you slink about defending your actions and your wrongdoings, you’ll never leave them behind completely. The only way to restore your honor is to stand up and say, yes. I fucked up. I courted a kin without permission. I took a bloodprice out on her when she was disloyal to me. I tried to buy off her warder. I haven’t paid my dues fully. I know it. I won’t do it again, and I’ll prove it starting today. Starting this moment.

“When you can do all that, you’ll start winning back your honor. Until then, the deeper you bury this, the more it’ll rot and stink.”

Pause.

“Now, what was your request?”

[Danicka] A little while later — she must have already been in her car driving around when she called — Danicka’s Infinity pulls up to the Loft. It’s been a long time since she’s been here. She didn’t come for Katherine’s celebratory party. She’s been here to pick up or drop off Gabriella after spending an evening contributing to the deliquency of a minor. She’s been here to meet with Katherine about maybe doing the exact opposite of contributing to the delinquency of that particular minor.

Truth be told, she has little knowledge whatsoever of what became of Gabriella. And truth be told — it tells you a great deal of what sort of woman she is — Danicka has never cared enough to ask.

The Infiniti parks, and Danicka gets out, wearing a pair of sheer black stockings with a flocked pattern of widely latticed ribbons creating diamonds of sheer within bands of velvet black. Her feet are slipped into patent black heels with electric blue soles, but the color of Shadow Lords ends there. Her dress is a lighter blue than the undersides of those heels, a rather shiny wiggle dress straight out of the 60s that ends just below her knee and is cinched about her waist with a silver belt. There’s a silver bracelet around her left wrist, a white gold ring around her third left finger, and a thin chain around her neck that might be white gold, might be something even more fine, ending in a small pendant that rests atop the shiny blue dress. It’s simple, really, a diamond set within an infinity knot.

She strides to the front door, is allowed in by Lucille, and soon enough her heels can be heard tapping quietly on the floorboards as she makes her way towards Lukas’s voice.

[Wyrmbreaker] [wait! um. reword: “But nor did you tell me you tried to buy Sarita’s silence first, and only later, at her insistence, agreed to the present terms.”]

[Wyrmbreaker] [i am too lazy to transcribe that into totemspeak but you can all assume Lukas gives an abridged version of what-all is going on across the totemlink!]
to Katherine Bellamonte, Danicka, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Leon Davenport] He blinked. Ok..not exactly what he was aiming there. He frowned slightly but stayed silent for a long time.”

“I didn’t come here because of the third reason. It just happened to be timed well with the decision to come to you. You may or may not believe it. It’s fine.” He say and shook his head

“I could probably argue all night about what you told me. The gist of it is true. And I”m willing to own up to what I did. But a lot of what you know might be incomplete. And that’s not the point. I didn’t come here to blame Sarita, or Amy or myself. I just wanted you to know what happened.”

His piercing blue eyes looked at lukas “As ofr the third reason, your words told me your answer. I pretended, I ‘haven’t paid my price, so no matter what Isay, until I’ve done so, t’s not even worth wasting your time and ask it”

He had a feeling Sarita gave him her version of events over the totem phone. It didn’t matter. “I’m sorry I took so much of your time Rhya” He said, getting up

[Wyrmbreaker] “Ask me anyway,” Lukas says, “so I know what it is you want.”

[Leon Davenport] He stop in his movement and sat back. He took a few breaths “I wanted to ask your permission about seeing one of your kin, Luana Kirchmann. Not claiming her or anythign like htat. Just the right to spend time with her, talk to her and see where things will lead.

I met her around the time I met Amunet. We spent some time together, and learned only recently that she was kin to your tribe. We had a falling out for some time but things are better. She knows about everything I told you. So I was wondering if I could be allowed to be in her presence. ”

He say, politly. He hand his hands on his knees and tried to look relaxed. But he knew Lukas’s next words will probably hurt. He cared for Luana, more than he did for almost everything else. He knew that being denied the right ot be around her will kill him. He expected both..the refusal and the death.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] They can feel it. That self-control…holding back and trying not to say anything. She clearly wants to but she doesn’t want to sound like the defensive woman who’s sister got hurt and now is just lashing out.

The resolve doesn’t hold, and it bursts out of her mind like water out of a dam that’s been blown up in some James Bond film. “Oh MY GOD he’s so full of shit about just wanting to let you know! He and Matthieu both were both specific about keeping you two out of the loop.” Meaning Lukas and Katherine. “I’ll bet you a gajillion dollars that he’s pissed because I saw Gina playing footsie with his knee at the Kin-Elder meeting, and I told Matthieu that if Matt was going to court Gina that it was his responsibility to keep my kin away from Leon, Gina included. I may be letting the matter rest, but I’m still not cool with any of my kin being in his presence unless there’s someone around to keep them safe. Stupid cockpunching shitribbon cumdrizzling little fuckstain of…” This goes on for a few moments before she drifts off
to Katherine Bellamonte, Danicka, Wyrmbreaker

[Katherine Bellamonte] From Katherine — where was she, anyway, they have the impression of a car, flashing scenery of Chicago at night somewhere nearby — Wait, what? Matthieu said he wished to deliberately keep me from knowing about this matter? Why? I am a Half Moon, if anyone, I should be the very sort he is seeking out.]
to Danicka, Sarita Ecos de la Risa, Wyrmbreaker

[Sinclair] It’s Sinclair’s voice now, for the first time in this conversation. Sarita… hon, I love you. But you’ve gotta calm down a little here. I don’t like Leon either. I was wary of leaving Chicago because he seemed kinda keen on representing the tribe if I wasn’t going to. But take some deep breaths, trust Lukáš — funny, how she pronounces his name correctly in her head, at least, — to handle it, and accept that however this ends up, you probably won’t be perfectly satisfied.

That said… Lukáš, I don’t trust Leon any more than Sarita does, to be honest. Just… be wary. He seems like the always-the-hero-or-victim-never-the-villain type you’re always referencing.
to Katherine Bellamonte, Sarita Ecos de la Risa, Wyrmbreaker

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Okay, sorry…I’m pissed, that wasn’t spoken well. I’m breathing now. Leon wanted to keep you out of the loop Kate…Matthieu just was specific about Lukas since it was ‘none of his business’ and wanted it resolved privately without being known Sept-wide and hurting the reputation of his pack and their purpose of working with humans and dealing with kinfolk.
to Katherine Bellamonte, Danicka, Wyrmbreaker

[Wyrmbreaker] Not that I’d put it so bluntly, but the Fang is more or less right about me. It wasn’t my business. I’m not his tribal elder, nor hers. I’m not a Philodox. The only reason it is my business now is because he wants one of my kin, and if nothing else he at least had the balls — or at least the cunning — to tell me before he asked.

As for you, Kate, it might feel like he’s gone over your head. But if he and Sarita worked it out to their satisfaction, there’s no reason it had to go to a Philodox, either. If he’s not keeping up his end of the bargain, though, that’s another matter.

As for how I’m handling the situation here, on hand, between Leon and my kin — truth is even if he hadn’t slammed a kin around I’d be hesitant to approve this little courtship. Kin aren’t tagalongs in the Tribe. Their spirits are tied to the totem. You take a kin out of the tribe, it’s as much a theft as taking a cub.
to Katherine Bellamonte, Danicka, Sarita Ecos de la Risa

[Wyrmbreaker] “No.”

Expected or not, that answer – quietly spoken as it is – must sting. And there’s that in Lukas’s eyes, at least: a sort of sympathy.

“And I’ll tell you why. It’s not just your past behavior with Amunet, though that doesn’t help. It’s not that you’ve yet to fulfill your terms with Sarita. Even if none of that were true, I would still deny you.

“Kin are every bit a part of the Tribe as Garou, Leon. I realize ancestry and roots matter less to a Glass Walker, but even your tribe still has a Homeland where the spirits of your Tribe go after death. For my tribe — we may not measure a Garou’s worth by the worth of his ancestors, but we care about our family. Our blood. Some of our lineages go back to the very beginning. My line goes back hundreds, thousands of years; farther. All Shadow Lords. All my forefathers, my friends from other lives, my brothers and sisters from ages past — waiting for me in the Homelands when I die. I can’t tell you what comfort that brings me, knowing that I will die, and sooner rather than later. Knowing that when I do die, I can wait there, in the Homelands, for my own mate to come to me.

“Luana has her heritage too. She may not even know it in this life, but when she dies her spirit will remember. If you mate with her, the spirits will recognize her as a Glass Walker. When she dies, her spirit goes to Cockroach. All her children’s spirits, too. They lose the friends and lovers and family of a thousand lifetimes before. They are alone, separate, cut loose from their history.

“Even were she to somehow remain a Shadow Lord in spirit, the outcome is inevitably heartbreaking. When you die, you go to Cockroach. When she dies, she goes to Thunder. Your spirits remain apart with only the dimmest hope of finding each other on Gaia’s face again in your next lives.

“You’re not committed to this yet, Leon. You’ve spent some time together, that’s all. So I’m saying to you: leave off. This isn’t about ownership or possession of our respective kin. This is about mercy and the price you’ll pay — you and Luana both. Find yourself a mate from amongst your own tribe. Don’t take my kin from her people, and don’t doom yourself to losing her.”

[Danicka] my own mate to come to me

Lukas is saying, as Danicka is standing in the doorway to the room they’re in, her footsteps silenced now, her lean body leaning against the wall. She’s quite the vision, isn’t she? Leon can breathe her scent in. She doesn’t wear perfume. She smells soft. Clean.

But most of all she smells warm. Like… home. Like cubs resting nearby, like a full belly, like the security of hearth and pack all gathered close together. She smells, perhaps most intoxicatingly, like fertility. Verdant earth, crops ready for harvest, one’s female growing swollen with your litter. It’s a little distracting, but only so much as any kinfolk’s breeding is distracting. And it depends on the wolf.

She’s heard him talk about this before. The Homelands. What she once thought was a lie. She breathes quietly as she listens, standing in the periphery.

[Leon Davenport] His face is unreadable, cold, drained of all emotions. He almsot snorted but didn’t. Kin of his tribe. So far in this city, he had met one who seem to enjoy women…Shadow Lord Ahroun female at that, the other one was a high class escort no matter how she wanted to paint it. Yeah, kin form hsi tribe. Not likely. No kin ever it seem.

He got up “Thank you for youre time Rhya. And maybe oyu should have this talk with Nathalie since she is trying to have a relatioship with a female kin of mine. I’ll certainly talk to my kin.”

He nodded to him “Have a good night”

He doesn’t mention Sarita’s conditions. They aren’t worth shit to him anymore. Not seeing Amy, fine, no courtin kin of another tribe…fuck that, happening anymore it seem. He lsot the one person who could soothe his rage. He had no intentetion of wasting his time with someone else. Anger management? Well if she cross his path again, he’ll mamange his anger in the bloodiest way possible.

His blue eyes found Danicka “Good night” He simply tell the kin.

He walked away. Not looking back, heading toward the exit

[Leon Davenport] (*not happening anymore..)

[Wyrmbreaker] Levelly, “It’s Nathalie’s responsibility to go to you if she’s courting your kin. She should know that, but I’ll inform her. It’s your right to accept or deny her. If she doesn’t bide by your decision, let me and/or the Philodox Elder know.”

Leon turns to go. Lukas watches him for a moment, thoughtful. Then he descends the stairs, out of sight, and Lukas shifts his attention to Danicka.

She heard a lot of that. The last part, at least. He doesn’t have to explain why he crosses the room to her — smelling of exercise, war, sweat — and wraps her in his arms, bending his nose to her hair.

“Hi,” he says quietly. He sounds a little sad.

Loft Party!

[Katherine Bellamonte] She had spent most of the previous night at the Caern, well into the morning hours.

The day rising with knowledge of Katherine Bellamonte’s new standing among her peers did it, for a large part of the day, without her. She slept, deeply, and only arose as dusk sank the day into brilliant reds and pinks across the horizon. Opening her closet, the Half Moon studied a collection of white, of black, of sparkling silver and a vast embassy of footwear.

She selected a pair of black kitten pumps, and came to a decision.

I am throwing a party, the declaration rang over the totemic link to her pack-mates. Tonight, at the Loft. Bring whoever you like, bring swimwear, bring wine and champagne. We’re going to celebrate.

The same general message is broadcast to her tribe-mates; to those she knows of, those she can reach. Word of mouth spreads, Honor’s Compass slips into a slinky silver cocktail dress, that sculpted itself to her frame and left very little to the imagination of any observing her. She pinned her fair hair from her neck, and left tendrils to frame an aristocratic chin, high cheekbones and a long, thin nose. Her mouth was painted bright, blinding red.

She was quite well pleased.

When the doors open for the guests, it is not simply Lucille who is there, but Asha’s former Herald, Thomas, also. Not in his usual role; the Kinsman looked pale, and aged by the death of his Mistress yet details not sorted, Katherine had, being the ever-diligent hostess and Alpha of his tribe, invited him to stay with her as long as was needed for him to decide what was next to occur.

For tonight, however, he is beside the elder Kinswoman to greet arrivals; and assist with coats. Honor’s Compass had not demanded his aid; but it was given without rancor. Perhaps being useful helped the Herald, and Katherine was not one to interfere in another method of grieving.

Still, they enter to the sound of quiet harmony; classical music pumping through speakers; discreetly planted around the Loft’s interior. The pool has been cleaned; and fresh towels lay upon deckchairs for daring visitors. There are trays of food, carried around by waiting staff; champagne chilling in a bucket of ice upon a stand. The black sofas pushed well out of the way so the floor was opened up; all white and minimalistic and utterly elegant.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Sarita’s been more or less staying regularly at the Loft since Amy left at the end of February. Even when he sister return, Sarita remained. Things were different between them, and even more so now. So for her, it’s not difficult to be ready. She just needs to come downstairs.

She isn’t dressed up at the moment. In fact, she isn’t dressed in any kind of regular attire…she’s gotten into her one-piece swimsuit early and is chilling in the pool. It is relaxing, being able to just float in the water or do laps. It allows her mind to stay in the moment and not drift. Drifting is bad…there’s a lot on her mind.

[Sinclair] Perhaps to some it might seem wrong, disrespectful to hold a celebration such as this so soon after Asha’s passing. Those some are not Garou, nor are they Unbroken. Savage, wild wolves lurking in such civilized skins, using money and the cut of a sweater and laughter and technology to smooth over the fact that not a single one of them is even close to mortal, even close to Normal.

Sinclair shows up (comes downstairs) in dark bootcut jeans and bare feet, her toenails painted metallic purple. She’s got a v-necked sweater on, form-fitting and pink. The piercing in her upper arm nudges against the fabric, the sleeves pushed up show the tattoos on her inner forearms, her hair being up in a messy bun — this passes for an updo, with Sinclair — reveals the mark of Earth on the back of her neck.

Passing a server she grabs a slice of cucumber with some mushed-up creamy liver substance artfully swirled onto it, and pops it in her mouth. Goes up to Katherine, glomps her arms around the newest sept Adren from behind, and chews as loudly as she can possibly manage right next to her ear.

[Derek Anderson] He enters the loft and present himself ot Thomas. He never had met Asha’s former herald and introdiced himself. He was allowed in. Tonight, the tall, musucula young man with blond hair was dressed in a dark suit, shoes, a blue shirt matching his eyes and tie. Over the suit was a long dark trench coat.

It was a night for celebration it seem, so he dressed the part. Still he had a bag in his right hand with his swimming trunks in. No wayt he wouldn’t come to the loft and not use the pool. He offered Katherine a warm smile when he saw her “Good evening Katherine. How have you been?” He say in his deep warm voice. “I might appear totally clueless if I ask it, but I will anyway. What’s the special occasion?”

He noticed Sarita in the pool and offer her a nod if she look his way, if not, no big deal. He offered a smile ot Sinclair when she came by Katherine “Hello SInclair, how are you?”He say, looking at her directly for once.

[Adamidas] If you are having a party, you have to expect gate crashers, you see. Because spirits are chatty, chatty things. Adam, however, is not a gate crasher. She’s actually fairly easy to get ahold of, and-

she found herself thinking of what it was that you bring to an Adren. You can’t bring Kate anything pretty of bauble-ie. She had all of that. She had prestige and a title and a nice house and things. She had a pack. She had a family. She had all sorts of things. We digress.

Adam shows up at the front door. Her hair is windblown, but it looks like she’d put some effort into doing it before she hit the road. She’s finally wearing that cocktail dress Harmony gave her… with the same boots she always wears because, let’s face it, she doesn’t own any other shoes aside from her platforms. She’s not sure what she’s going to do when she gets there, but she’s there.

With a messenger bag.

[Adamidas] (or bauble-ie, oi!)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She does note Derek and gives him a little wave in the midst of a backstroke. The grin is faint, but there.

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] A little over twelve hours ago, there was a impromptu mini-celebration in the Caern itself, moments after Kate passed her challenge. Since then Lukas has gone home, gone to bed, zonked all day, woken up only the message comes across the totemphone.

Kate passed her challenge, he told Danicka, buttoning his shirt as he ducks his head into her study where she was cramming for her continuous-time linear systems final. She’s having a hoedown. You’re invited, but do you want me to tell her you’re trying to unlock the mysteries of the universe?

And also:

Have you seen the bottle of Wyborowa my dad sent last month?

And not too long after that, he’s parking the Beemer and coming up the walk, giving the door a perfunctory knock before simply using his key. He’s wearing a black shirt, charcoal slacks. He’s also wearing swim trunks under his clothes. He’s carrying a bottle of fine Polish wódka, with which he bumps Adamidas’s back as he follows her in.

“Hey,” he says. “Nice dress. Almost didn’t recognize you.”

[Alejandro] Alejandro doesn’t have many fancy clothes. It’s not that he couldn’t have got them growing up, it’s just that looking good hasn’t been a focus of his. Ever the student; ever the Garou; ever the boy and never the man.

Which is at odds with how he is dressed because his suit just does not fit. It’s old, that could be gathered from the fact that it isn’t last seasons style or even the seasons before that. It isn’t so old that it’s back in fashion, but it isn’t so flamboyant that it could ever been completely out of fashion, either.

This suit is grey, not quite silver but not quite bland, either. There is a little matching waistcoat beneath the jacket and a black tie upon a white dress shirt. The problem is that the sleeves only reach halfway down his wrists. The garment bunches at his elbows, pulls at his shoulders, rides too high at his ankles and reveals thin black dress socks above worn — but clean — leather shoes.

Under one arm there is a cardboard cylinder, tucked up into his armpit and he shuffles towards the front door with steps that announce his pleasure to be here. The cylinder is large — even more so because of his diminutive figure — and when he reaches the front entrance he slips in beside Adam and Lukas.

A little spastic wave is given to both of them, a grin for Adam too. He falls in step beside them. “Hello!”

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] [FINE, change it to:

Kate passed her challenge, he told Danicka, buttoning his shirt as he drops in on her watching The Fifth Element on BluRay. She’s having a hoedown. You’re invited, but do you want me to tell her you’re burnt out from unlocking the mysteries of continuous-time linear systems? ]

[Katherine Bellamonte] It is understandable that Derek might have received a formal invitation — not a demand, not these days — to join Kate at her home, but the circumstances may well baffle the young Detective. Katherine Bellamonte did not strike many as a woman of easy whim, not when it came to parties.

Sinclair throws her arms around Katherine, and chews noisily in her ear and her sister is bracing an arm over the other woman’s hand, chiding politely: “That is very expensive dip, Sinclair,” as if she expects this to make some sort of difference in the long run. “I am pleased you came, Derek. We are celebrating my achievement of new rank,” a moment, one can feel the gleam of pleasure in Katherine as she says, with quiet pride.

“I am now an Adren in the Nation’s eyes. Please, help yourself to food and drink.”

Thomas, straying from the door, nods to those who acknowledge him, and retreats to seat himself with a cup of tea, he will not drink, and there is a certain somberness surrounding the Herald’s black attire; though he had pleasure enough to greet the Silver Fang with when she first returned home, triumphant. Lucille, ever watchful, however, fusses with coat collars, and hangs each with care. She argues with the hired waiters, and demands they be more careful with the silver and crystal glass ware.

Still, with each newcomer; the sense of celebration grows.

There is something cathartic in it, for the wolves of Unbroken. They have lost someone; there must be balance to their grief.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Hey Kate. Hey, Kate. She’s been doing this every now and then throughout the day over the pack link. You’re an Aaaaaadreeeeeen…

It helps put the grin on her face, and there’s one on there now as she treads water, watching all the arrivals.

[Sinclair] “Everything you have is very expensive,” Sinclair counters, giving her a squeeze around the middle before letting her go. “Except for that bag of Sam’s Best brand Mini Peanut Butter Cups you keep in the freezer. Yeah. I found those,” she adds warningly, getting out of arm’s reach.

[Derek Anderson] He blinked at Kate’s words then strated to say something, couldn’t then smiled sheepishly. He felt very dense right now. That was something incredibly important and he had no clue about it. He took a few seconds to recover and smiled warmly “Congratulation Katherine.” Was all he saud and all he could say. He could tell her it’s amazing, but she knew that already. Beside what used she would have for praise coming from him? She had peers who understood better her pride and joy.

“Thank you for the invitation” He said “Enjoy your evening” Sinclair ignored him, no great surprise here. So he ignored her back and moved away to let Adamidas, Lukas and I guy he didn’t know meet with Katherine

“Good evening Adamidas” He say, remembering the young woman from a short encounter a while ago “Good evening Lukas” He say smiling to both and nodded to Alejandro “Good evening to you as well.” He drifted away for now. Moving toward the pool but not quite. He looked in Sarita’s direction ofr a few seconds as he took off his coat then kept his attention on the Garou surrounding Katherine.

[Adamidas] There’s vodka- wódka- poking her and she turns around. Finds herself looking at a very familiar chest. She grins.

“Harmony’s got awesome taste, he got it for me for Christmas,” of course, she missed Christmas, but that was beside the point. She is walking, and is fine to pass on until she notices Alejandro. The female perks up immediately- you’d think they were childhood friends the way she perks up.

“Hey!”

And Derek gets a wave, “hey Derek. Look at you cleaning up nice… I think this is a little classier party than I’m used to.”

[Amunet Knezevic] One should, in polite society, at least tell your sister in person before vacating town for any amount of time.

She failed to do this last time, which is what brings her to the loft tonight to seek her out

[Katherine Bellamonte] It’s such a strange thing, she has replied with, more than once to Sarita’s reminders, on the hour like clockwork; a quiet chiming of Adren, Adren, Adren. I do not feel any different, but the spirits must see the change, if nothing else.

When Lukas, Adamidas and Alejandro arrive almost sequentially behind each other; Katherine, a shimmering vision in silver and black heels moves forward to greet them, casting a decidedly pointed look over her shoulder at her sister as she reminds her she found the Silver Fang’s top secret, low budget snack storage area. “Those are for guests,” she protests lightly, with entirely too much defensiveness creeping through her voice.

“Not me.”

Then, champagne flute in one hand; she moves forward. “Adamidas, I am so pleased you are here!” A press of red lips to the air beside a cheek, Lukas gets a radiant smile, a brush of a hand to his sleeve and Alejandro a neat little dip of her head to one side.

“Welcome, Seeks the Horizon. Is your brother with you, tonight? I fear he is building mystique in avoiding our meeting.” Her lips quirk. Then: Amunet appears; moving toward the door to the brightly lit complex and Katherine’s fair brows rise in clear surprise.

Sarita, your sister is here.

[Amunet Knezevic] She is dressed for a red eye flight to Sin City, which means she is NOT dressed for this type of party. Looking horribly uncomfortable, she makes her way into the loft and tries to stay out of the way as she sends a text.

Where ARE you? I’m downstairs.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She frowns when she hears that. Yes, when Amy comes around, Sarita tends to think something’s wrong. Do you blame her? No, something usually IS wrong. FInally, you’re on my side. Yep.

Oh wow, the Strider sends through the link, getting out of the pool. Thanks.

She climbs out of the pool, grabbing a towel and drying off quickly as she comes out to the main area, looking for her.

[Amunet Knezevic] She would be the one off to the side, looking uncomfortable and entirely out of place…

[Sinclair] There’s laughter in the room that only Katherine and Lukas and Sarita can hear, because outwardly, Sinclair doesn’t let it loose. It’s in response to some mention over their link, something Katherine said that made her… well. Happy. She wanders around mostly, bumping purposefully into Lukas as though they’re in lupus before she continues on, giving an upward nod to Adamidas and a curious glance at this new kid that stinks of Fang just as much as the rest of the Loft does. She does happen to ignore the kinsman. She doesn’t even give him the little wave of hello that Sarita offers. And it might be that she hates him, for reasons he can’t fathom.

That is something he is free to believe if it accords with his nature. Sinclair, ignoring him, can’t help him interpret her behavior. She glances over at Amunet, tipping her head to the side. So that’s Sarita’s sister.

[Alejandro] Derek gets a cheery smile from the Theurge and a greeting in passing that goes something like: Hi! I’m Alejandro! But then it’s on to meet Kate and the look on his face is nothing if not ecstatic. He seems proud of her, happy for her, pleased to hear of her success.

“Honor’s Compass Rhya! My brother should be arriving, he is not so mysterious as he seems. I once had to wait seven hours for him to cross to the other side once. But he’ll be here!” He beams, using her Fostern name because the spirits know not of any other. “I know that you said you didn’t require any gifts, so please don’t feel I have ignored your wishes but..”

He looks positively giddy.

“I made this!” And he holds out the cylindrical device to her. “It’s that picture — map — of the Umbra! It has all that which is there and not there and sort of almost there marked in different colours because I find it so much easier to read maps when there are colours. Don’t you?”

[Derek Anderson] He smiled back at Adamidas “Thank you. And you look lovely tonight” He reply to her “And don’t worry about it. Later everyone will be in swimsuits probably and make it a lot less classy or formal”

He move slightly away from the young Fury to let her speak with whoever she desire. He noticed Amy, recognizing her from the only encounter and nodded to her. Well at least he wouldn’t be the only kin in a Garou party. Not that he was uncomfortable being the only one surrounded by true borns, especially the Unbroken. For some reason it seem to happen that way.

He folded his trench coat over his arm and then Thomas appeared to help him with it. Once his fellow kinsman was away, he took a champagne glass from one of the waiters.

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “Because obviously,” Lukas says drily, “you’d serve economy peanut butter cups to your guests.”

Then he breaks into a grin, side-hugging Kate briefly before pressing the Wyborowa into her hands. “Congrats, Kate. This is my last bottle until I nag my dad into sending more, so make the most of it and get smashed.”

[Adamidas] She’s seen this in movies. She knows, in theory, how this air kiss thing works. She doesn’t necessarily understand the entirety of it, but in her mind she chalks it up to Katherine being classy and somewhat French. Sinclair gets another nod in return which, while somewhat urban in its nature,doesn’t look quite as cool when she does it.

“I haven’t seen the place on this side of the umbra, it’s… huge, and you have a pool,” given her inflection it’s quite clear that the Fostern approves.

[Sinclair] “We have a big pool,” Sinclair says, though Adam is really talking to Katherine. She says ‘we’. This is, in a way, pack territory after it is Katherine’s. “It used to be smaller. We begged her and made puppy eyes til she had it expanded. That pool is a triumph of teamwork.”

[Gabriel Ferreira] He doesn’t look nearly as uncomfortable or out of his element as his brother does. When the Cliath of Honor’s Compass’s auspice arrives, it’s with some sort of gift for Lucille that the lower-class writer of this post can’t be fucked Googling but it’s expensive and classy; the grieving herald is given condolences, and once he actually makes his way into the domicile, far more expansive and luxurious than it appears on the outside, he makes a quick sweep of the room to map everyone out.

Once he’s located his brother and found that nothing has been set on fire, his shoulders relax.

The first person he approaches isn’t the triumphant hostess, or his perpetually cheerful brother, but the kinswoman standing off to the side, isolated and irritable. Without any in hand, no champagne glass or hors d’oeuvres, without having met before, the immediate question that comes to mind as he walks up to Amy is What does he want?

His hands are in the pockets of his dress pants as he casually comes to stand by the wall beyond arm’s length from Amy.

“It’s a party,” he says, lightly, in a voice that lacks an accent, “not a tribunal.” A beat. “Unless I read the invitation wrong. That would be embarrassing.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smiles a little and makes her way to her sister, coming up next to her. “Hey you.” She smiles to her, and then looks to Gabriel to give him a nod. “Hola.”

[Adamidas] She looks at Sinclair, and her eyes widened. The Glass Walker might as well have said Katherine got the pack their own individual ponies. It’s sheer amazement, “those had to be some pretty intense puppy eyes. I tried to convince Alec once that we needed a pool, and it didn’t happen. I can’t really talk the Coltranes into getting a pool, because it wouldn’t really be practical.”

And the lake is right there. But a lake isn’t a pool, you see.

[Amunet Knezevic] She laughs in spite of her complete unease, fingers running in her hair. “Well. You got an invitation, which puts you a rung above me here.

Oh hey. There’s Sarita. Fresh out of the pool. This is handy, should anyone need the super secret access point to fucking Bizarro land, she’ll just direct them to the loft.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Gabriel hands her a map of the Umbra, and Katherine seems genuinely fascinated as he points things out on it. “Look, Lukas, Adam, Gabriel has drawn an Umbral map for me.” As if he were her toddler, presenting his first finger painting to his mother, her beaming and proud.

The Cliath Fang’s brother makes an appearance, then, and Katherine, carefully passing off Lukas’ gift to Lucille to tend after, finds his figure with her pale eyes and watches him, intently. She glances side long at Alejandro and her eyes ask the question without ever parting her lips to speak it.

Waiters bring around fresh offerings in the shape of colorful seafood snacks; trout and salmon with caviar, more of the same cucumber and avocado relish Sinclair had plucked from a tray earlier; other fanciful combination with names that involved things such as a side of or a sprig of to complete them.

Despite the press of combined Rage in the air around them; the atmosphere of the Loft is airy; pleasant. There is no demands being placed on either of the Kinfolk there; Amy is offered a flute of champagne by a waitress dressed in black slacks and a white collared shirt. There is also sparkling cider and wine on tap.

The Theurge Elder is impressed by the sheer mass of the pool; Honor’s Compass smiles. “I am quite convinced I have the happiest water spirits in it second perhaps only to the lake itself.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “You’re here. That’s awesome.” She looks from Gabriel to Amy. “Um…Alejandro’s brother, this is my sister Amy. Amy, this is…Alejandro’s brother.”

Isn’t she good at introductions? “Kate made Adren,” she explains to Amy. “Thus, the party.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] [oops, I meant Alejandro. Shut up, there’s a lot of you.]

[Derek Anderson] He walked around, watching everyone but no one in particular. He knew everyone except two right now. At least by sight. He drinks from his champagne glass, not mingling right now. Everyone was congratulating Kate as they should, people were getting acquinted with others.

He put his bag on one of the benches, for later, when it’ll be time for swimming. Right now, Sarita was the only one dressed ofr swimming and after their last discussion, he won’t go in the pool alone with her if she gets back to it. She mgiht get the impression that he didn’t understood what she said that night. And he did and respected it.

So for now, leaving them alone was ok with him.

[Gabriel Ferreira] “Look on the bright side–”

Whatever that bright side is, he isn’t afforded the opportunity to impart it to his unwilling audience.

Hola, Sarita says, and he leans slightly past the kinswoman to regard the Ragabash. Given his height compared to hers, he could have looked clear over the shorter woman’s head to address her–guardian, sister, cousin, he can’t tell–tribeswoman. As he’s glancing over, that universal sense of being watched creeps up his spine, and his eyes wander across the room to find the source of it.

Spotted!

Olá,” he replies, the accentuation different, the accent on a different syllable. That said, he steps away from the wall to form a lopsided sort of triangle between himself and the two females, extending his hand to shake should either of them feel inclined to do so. “Nice to meet you. My name’s ‘Gabriel’ but I’ll answer to ‘Alejandro’s brother,’ too.”

He steps back.

“If you’ll excuse me.”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Amunet. It’s nice to meet you, Alejandro’s brother.” Not that she has the slightest idea who Alejandro is, but….

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “New Fangs,” she says as Gabriel walks off, and she takes a lean next to Amy. She’s content to be at the side of the party with her sister, though she’s keeping her packmates in view.

“I’m glad to see you here. How’d that meeting go?”

[Amunet Knezevic] “Good. Really good.”

She has the same irrational panicked thought now that she did after she lost her virginity to Ox. Can they tell? Does something seem somehow different? Is she marked in some invisible way? Nobody seemed to be paying any attention to her, which she took as a good sign.

[Alejandro] There are things to point out on the map, things that Alejandro make sure they see because they’re fascinating. His index finger darts across the surface of it once it is unfurled and they read labels that are formal and artsy like: Where Water Spirits Whisper, The Windy Peak. There are other labels though, less formal and more personal – notes and edits too.

Fun times with Fire spirits! Caution: Take sunscreen!

Warning: Hole in the basement, unsure where it leads. I totally understand how Locke felt though! I want to open the hatch!

Once he has taken up enough — too much — of her time, he wanders off. It’s in Sinclair’s direction that he seems to meander, a thin youth with a too small suit. He doesn’t say anything yet, though he’ll flash her a sheepish smile if she looks at him. He just sort of.. loiters.

[Adamidas] She peeks along with, but there’s quiet recognition and genuine pleasure on her features.

“Oh wow,” she looks from the map to Alejandro, “how far down does it go? That’s seriously handy.”

She then addreses the rest of the Unbroken, or whoever else could muse about the pool. She grins, “more than likely? It’s a well loved, well-tended place. And nothing is going to mess with them in here. It’s a good, safe place to be. ”

[Sinclair] Sinclair is by the food. She’s not as face-stuffing as a Bone Gnawer’s best stereotype, but she’s making pretty good progress on some finger foods with more of that avocado stuff on them and looks to be considering bringing in a bag of tortilla chips and some bean dip to round out Katherine’s impromptu spread, which would take most people two weeks to set up.

Alejandro wanders over. She’s chewing, and slows down a bit as he loiters. Stares at him. “What?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She gives Amy a weird look. “Well, awesome.” It’s said in the teasing tone that they used to use with each other. Amy and Sarita can bicker and snipe at each other like there’s no tomorrow, and they can have some of the biggest knock-down, drag-out sister fights this side of a Cops episode. But there hasn’t been much of that lately. Just quiet words, no less frustrated, and hugs and the occasional tear.

“Y’okay? You seem a bit…off.”

[Adamidas] “Oh! Kate! When you have time!” she half lifts up her bag, “I have stuff for you. But I didn’t wrap it.”
And, apparently, it’s personal enough that she doesn’t want to take it out yet.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Um. I wanted to let you know I was taking off for the weekend. You know. Not by text this time.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh.” She nods a little bit, reaching up to brush her hand over Amy’s hair. “Well, that’s cool. Just the weekend?”

[Katherine Bellamonte] Honor’s Compass does seem very pleased with her gift, she holds it carefully against her side; one arm folded over her middle, the other holding a flute of no doubt very expensive champagne. She’s sipping from it idly, every few moments and smiling around at her gathering of guests.

She has to stand, one should note, rather carefully in her gown; while lovely and light-catching; it was rather on the short side, and dipped into a daring V that bared a great deal of flesh without becoming cheap about it. Still; Katherine wore it elegantly, as was to be expected of her and as Alejandro’s brother crosses toward her she quiets, and sips from her flute, watching him through pale eyes; her lids painted a smokey gray.

“You must be Gabriel,” she greets him, voice quite amicable. “I wondered when you would surface into the light.”

Adamidas has things — but she didn’t wrap them. Katherine’s eyebrows rise. “What have you brought me, Adamidas.” There’s a lightness to that, she’s teasing.

[Amunet Knezevic] “Yeah.”

Wow, this is uncomfortable.

“We’re going to Vegas for a couple days”

[Alejandro] She stares at him and he stares back. The question has his smile shift from sheepish to comfortably cheery. “I’m Alejandro. Do you live here?”

A small hand reaches out and takes up a carrot stick or celery stick if they are on offer, stabbing it into some nearby dip before he chomps on the end of it.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Good.” She smiles and nods. She is picking up on Amy’s discomfort, and that is affecting her, but mostly because she doesn’t see why it’s so weird, and she’s concerned. That worry for her sister will always be there, whether she has a mate or not. And in addition, there is joy for her sister. She may not be convinced this is her best course of action, but she’s keeping it down.

“That’ll be awesome. You guys can have a blast, get away from all this. It’ll be good for you. I’m happy.”

[Derek Anderson] He stop somewehre between the pool and the lobby. His kind bluee eyes moved from Garou to Garou, his glass f champagne almost empty. He’s not mingling right now. If it was only the Unbroken, it would be easier, but right now, he kept his distance.

He would probably stay there only for some time nd leave finally. Politly representing the Fang Kins and then let the Garou to their celebration. He move to the food, grab a snadwich and move away again.

[Gabriel Ferreira] Alejandro’s brother isn’t wearing anything quite as eye-catching as Miss Bellamonte, which both ought to go without saying and fill everyone in the room with gratitude. Considering that this isn’t exactly a formal tribal affair, he is not wearing a tuxedo. He wears a three-piece suit, because it’s cold as the devil outside, but it fits better than whatever it is that Alejandro is wearing, and he doesn’t look as though he’d rather be outside rolling around in a mud heap.

There is quite a bit to look at, but she’s his elder, and his eyes behave themselves.

She wondered when he would surface.

“Wonder no more, -rhya,” he says, taking his hands out of his pockets for etiquette’s sake.

Then the Adren is addressing the Fostern, so he waits his turn.

[Amunet Knezevic] The pod people were here. Awesome. Her eyes flicker around the room quickly as if expecting an uncomfortable surprise.

“So…. I guess I should say congratulations and get out of here, hey?”

[Sinclair] What makes Sinclair intimidating — and she is, in fact, very intimidating — is not her rage. That’s eclipsed quite neatly by other Garou in the room. Gabriel and Katherine and Lukas all have more of that internal fire to draw on, to carry with them, to endure. With Sinclair, it’s something else entirely. She looks at Alejandro, another wolf, as though she is gauging whether he is higher or lower on the food chain — literally — than she is. The fact that it takes her little more than a moment to determine just how far below her he is, how quickly she could eat him, how many bites it would take,

unnerves every mortal she meets. Makes Kinfolk uncomfortable. Makes her a little less than popular even among other wolves. She’s not a woman, purple toenails and piercings and human trappings notwithstanding. She’s savage thing made only more dangerous, not more civil, by opposable thumbs and technological intelligence.

She blinks at him, slow and lazy, once. “I’m Sinclair. And yes.”

Over there, people are giving Kate presents, like it’s her birthday or something. Somehow, something completely bizarre seems utterly natural just because it’s Kate. “I’m Kate’s packmate,” she adds.

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] Soon after showing up, Lukas disappeared into the kitchen to…

…mix drinks, as it turns out. While Katherine sips on champagne, Lukas reemerges with some eight or ten collins glasses of distinctively blue liquor. It’s not often that he plays chef or bartender, but one supposes tonight’s ample justification for an exception.

So he passes that tray around – to Kate, to his packmates, to the guests. When everyone who wants a shot has one, Lukas raises his voice enough to cut momentarily through the conversation.

“I’d like to make a toast,” he says. “Here’s to Katherine, who proved today what everyone already knew: that she’s a badass Adren Philodox. Here’s to my pack, my brothers and sisters past and present and future.

“Here’s to booze and pool parties. Here’s to friends. Here’s to celebrating us, and the savage joy of our lives.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well, you can hang out if you want. It might be fun.”

She gives a little shrug. She wants Amy to be comfortable, but there are a lot of people here she doesn’t know. And it’s not exactly the best time for introductions.

Lukas comes out, and he has shots. Sarita takes one and gives one to Amy.

[Amunet Knezevic] Ohthankholygod alcohol. She gratefully takes the shot, eyeing Lukas and trying to stay invisible.

[Sinclair] Sinclair takes two shots. When the toast is given, she clinks them together. “Hear, hear!”

First goes the left, then goes the right.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine doesn’t offer her hand to Gabriel, or do much of anything but look at him for a good few moments. It’s not challenging, per say, that stare, but rather more curious; considering. She does add, after a long pause of silence, broken by the soft classical music, tinkering from the background. The lapping of water in the pool, as the cleaner is activated and hums along the bottom; greedily eating anything daring to pollute it.

Were Sinclair’s spirit with her; he’d no doubt be EEEing over the machinery.

“It’s nice to put a face to the name, Resurrection. I am obviously Katherine, Honor’s Compass. I am your tribal Alpha, and your auspice Elder in the city. I look forward to seeing you show yourself to be a worthwhile addition here, along with your brother.” A beat, Lukas brings out that dreaded blue mixture of his; Katherine clings to her champagne.

A corner of her mouth flicking with the toast, she raises her glass, eyes gleaming.

In the corner; Thomas and Lucille, sharing conversation among themselves, also toast.

[Alejandro] The only response to Sinclair’s undeniable predatory nature is the fact that Alejandro waited for her to initiate conversation before speaking. After that he is smiles, he seems comfortable. It might be ignorance or innocence or the fact that his spirit soars so high compared to his human nature, but he doesn’t shy away from her despite the fact that yes: She could eat him all up, one bite perhaps two if he were lucky.

Just like her intimidating otherness, there is something strange about the boy – and he is most definitely a boy, not a man. It isn’t strong enough to pin-point, but it isn’t weak enough to be only revealed in the Umbra either. She might get a sense of the elements, perhaps a familiar one because it strikes each individual differently. It’s masked beneath his breeding, but it’s still there.

Her name is Sinclair, she lives here and his smile broadens. Before he can respond, however, there is a toast. He has no drink, no glass, so he takes one of the shots. He’s not entirely sure that he should be allowed to have one but he raises it anyway along with what’s left of his celery stick and joins in the cheer with everybody else.

Once it’s all over and the cheering has subsided along with the speeches he looks again at Sinclair. “I’m going to be living her too,” he says, like that is wonderful news. “I heard you have a friend,” his tone has shifted, something more secretive, something that excites. “I would love to meet him.”

EEEing indeed!

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “Okay,” Lukas explains the rules with great patience, “you can’t get Sinclair to take your shot by proxy, Kate.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smiles and raises her glass. In another time, another day, she would have given some kind of ululation, an over-the-top cheer or the like. She’s certainly that pleased for her packmate, and the warmth shows in her expression. The response however is more restrained. She just raises her glass and winks at Kate, giving her a nod that is both congratulatory and grateful.

And then the shot is knocked back.

[Derek Anderson] He took the shot from Lukas “Thank” He say to the man. He raise his shot like everyone else and down it after the toast. He let the strong mix of liquors burn down his throat. It was really good and wondered if he shold get more. Then again being drunk here mgiht not be the best thing. He had to look respectable in front of Katherine after all.

He handed the shot to a passing waited and took another glass of champagne.

[Amunet Knezevic] “I should go.”

Sarita belongs here, not her. Her fingers brush in her hair again, then she reaches to squeeze her sister’s arm.

“I’ll see you Monday, hey?”

[Gabriel Ferreira] A tray of glowing-nuclear liquid is passed around by a larger, heavier wolf, and it would be terribly rude to not partake in a drink prepared by his elder. The Cliath flicks a glance to Katherine, standing cool and poised with her flute in one hand and the Umbral map in the other, and he suppresses a smile as he reaches out a hand to take one of the Collins glasses.

There’s a ring on his left hand, visible only because that’s the hand he uses to pick up the glass.

“Thank you, -rhya,” he tells the Lord.

A toast, and then Katherine is being teased. Gabriel thinks about tossing his back, but holds onto it while his tribal and auspice elder is reminded of the rules of engagement. There is no verbal teasing, but there is an air of expectation about the taller Philodox.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She frowns. “You sure? I know it’s a lot of people here, but…”

She sighs, and then nods. “Okay. Listen, when you get back Monday we’ll hang, okay? Just you and me?”

[Sinclair] Sinclair’s eyebrows flick up a bit. “A… friend?” is all she can give Alejandro, since the cheerful little poppet doesn’t get more specific than that.

[Amunet Knezevic] “We’ve got a flight to catch.” The words tumble over themselves in a rush to make it out. “I mean, it seems like a great party and all, but we’ve got a flight. Yeah, Monday. It’ll be fun, right? ” She smiles, taking a couple of shuffly steps toward the door.

[Alejandro] The poppet nods his head and takes another bite of his celery stick. The shot remains untouched but he eyes it now and then, like he wants to drink it all the same.

“Yes,” he confirms once he has swallowed the vegetable. “Names are.. not meaningless, but I find trouble in translating them. A spirit, or so I’m told. Is he truly your friend?” He asks the last part in a hushed tone, like he doesn’t want to have the hope that such a thing could be possible. The spirits love him — at least the nice ones — most assuredly. But he doesn’t have that; he has never had that.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She sighs. She knows when Amy’s coming up with bullshit excuses to get away. She rubs at her eyes. “Yeah, totally. C’mon, lemme walk you out.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] “I already have a drink, Lukas,” she primly shoots back at him with an expression of great forbearance. Then, as eyes watch, and wait she heaves a sigh and gestures for the tray. “Very well, but I drink under protest. This is peer pressure, hm?”

She holds one up, studies it, and then swallows it out with her eyes closed.

[Sinclair] At that, Sinclair blinks. “Oh. Tripoli,” she says, like she might actually be talking about a two-legged, five-fingered sort of friend. It isn’t that Sinclair doesn’t understand or respect what it means to have a familiar like the one she does, that she’s received something special in the little metal gaffling’s affection and devotion. But it’s Tripoli.

And Alejandro talks in hushed, awed tones and Sinclair just looks at him like he’s grown a third head. Yes, a third. Two wouldn’t quite cover the weirdness she’s attributing to him. “Uh, yeah.” A beat. “Dude, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re really giving off this desperate freshman vibe. Have a shot and chill out.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] And move to walk Amy out she does. She stays outside the Loft once Amy heads off, going into her van and changing out of her swimsuit. Yes, she keeps clothes in her van. You would too if you lived out of it cross-country for ten years. Once she’s dressed she lights up a cigarette, hanging outside and smoking for a bit.

[Adamidas] No one can be quite sure where she went, possibly off to the bathroom (which meant that Adam got lost on the way there) or possibly to the umbra to check out and see how the water spirits actually felt about Kate’s pool (pretty damned good. They like the pool, yay pool!) but what matters is this.

The Black Fury comes back and she’s adjusted herself. she’s got chalk dust in her hair again. Just a little bit of it. Enough to be telling. She snags a drink on the way.

[Alejandro] “Oh..” Colour flushes his cheeks then drains just as quickly. He turns his head down for a moment. It isn’t the first time such an opinion has been expressed and it won’t be the last time.

“I should.. I’m sorry, I just..” Resignation at first, then something else: Nervous courage. He looks at the shot glass again then throws it down the hatch with the awkwardness of someone who is probably doing this for the first time.

[rolling stam for his first drink! +1 dif newbieness]
Dice Rolled:[ 4 d10 ] 1, 7, 8, 9 (Success x 2 at target 7)

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “I applaud your courage,” says the Ahroun who, some time ago, gave a cub a semi-serious lecture about the booze of the tribes. The corner of his mouth tilts, “Now have another one.”

Lukas picks up another one himself then. A moment or two after Sarita escorts her sister out — long enough to let them say their goodbyes — he follows the Strider. Finds her smoking outside, which is one minor sin he’s never really picked up.

“Those will kill you,” he says wryly, taking a seat beside her on the van’s floor, legs hanging out the side sliding door. “But if you’ve got a toke, I’ll share that with you.”

[Sinclair] The Galliard smirks as Alejandro downs the AMF. She glances up as Lukas and Sarita head outside; there’s a flicker of something in her eyes. Maybe longing. She doesn’t go to join them, though. She stays inside the party. There have been times when Lukas has gone to her when she’s down, too. Times when, really, it helps to just have some one on one conversation with their brother.

She goes to find the tray and gets another shot. “Hey, Brass Petals-yuf,” she calls out. “Have a shot! We’re toasting Kate’s awesomesaucesomness.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] The Hostess goes and perches herself on a black leather sofa; crossing her long legs at the knee and balancing at once a flute of champagne and another of the bright blue death drinks her Alpha seems to be intent on her consuming until she falls on her head and has the Grand Elder appearing to strip her of Adren on account of being a drunken dolt.

She tries a second one, however and finds it not quite as eye-watering as the first.

A discreet cough goes unheard beneath a palm and she watches; quite amused as the Theurge re-appears, looking a little dusty. Katherine waves Adamidas over. “What did you want to give me, Brass Petals?”

[Gabriel Ferreira] There’s no triumphant whooping or raucous encouragement as Katherine breaks down and gives into the double-fronted peer pressure from the males. The corner of the Philodox’s mouth quirks into what almost becomes a smile, and then he tosses back his own shot without much effort. The fruitiness of it surprises him, and he blinks.

“I wouldn’t call it ‘peer pressure,'” he says, once he’s recovered.

Her Alpha applauds her courage, bids her take another one, and Gabriel fixes her with another look. She can’t pussy out in front of the Cliath, now, can she?

Then he spares a brief glance around, as if trying to see what his brother is up to. He’s downing shots. Fantastic. A second shot is taken, and Gabriel wipes his mouth before ambling over to collect Alejandro.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks over at Lukas and smiles, exahaling a lungful of smoke. “Lots of things that’ll kill you, mi capitan. Whole mess of ’em.” She stubs out the smoke on the fender, and then leans back into the van to pull up a piece of carpet next to the wheel well. It fit seamlessly enough that you wouldn’t even know it was separate from the rest of the laydown carpet in the place if you didn’t see it get removed. There’s a little compartment there and she flicks a combination, then opens it and pulls out a baggie with a several joints. It wasn’t the only baggie in the compartment.

“The key…as I’ve learned…” She pops the joint into her mouth and lights it up. She takes a drag, holds it in and then slowly exhales before she passes it over. “…is to do the things that you enjoy, whether it kills you or not. Odds are, it’s not the thing that’s gonna.”

A pause. “‘sides, if you live denying every joy you’ve got? You ain’t really living.”

[Adamidas] “Weeoo!”

Don’t have to tell her twice. The female trots over and grabs a shot, only to hear Kate calling her name. She stops about mid step and turns, “the hostess doth beckon. Prost!”

The shot goes back, and it’s sheer force of will and a fair bit of practice that keeps Adam from gagging and looking dazed. She lives at the brotherhood. She drinks. She pays tribute to grain (or maybe it’s potato… she didn’t look at what she drank and the female isn’t experienced enough of a drinker to notice the burn in her throat is distinct depending on what she’s drinking.)

She sidles up and sits herself beside Kate. Or, rather, near Kate. She’s got a grin on her face, and her voice drops to the tone of conversational. But not entirely openly so. Shotglass in one hand, she finds something in her bag with the other. It’s offered to Kate.

[Matthieu] Matthieu was not the kind of man to make a casual appearance. Every thrum of his heart was another beat of a living legacy in the making. Pulsing through his veins wasn’t just the blood of the Heroes of the Garou but the blood of the greatest heroes the world had ever seen. The Silver Fang wasn’t simply born into luxury despite the filth the Shadow Lords would attempt to spread about them. Each and every one of Matthieu’s ancestors was a Hero in their own right. Whether they were eradicating the Black Spiral menace from much of France or helping to draw the Wendigo into the Garou nation in a glorious reunion of cousins removed by countless millenia Matthieu’s ancestors were anything but lazy. Each life was a story all it’s own. Each one leaving behind a story to be shared before all. Some would end in tragedy and some would end in triumph but one thing that could never be said about this ancient family was the fact that they had not earned the greatness that pumped through their veins.

Matthieu was not great… Matthieu was not amazing or incredible. He was smart, he was cunning, and he was charming but he was young and inexperienced. Yet he knew that the weight of his own families greatness rested firmly on his shoulders. It wasn’t just that they wished him to be great, no no no these were Silver Fangs. House and Tribe depend on that greatness in both character and strength. A Silver Fang must be faster he must be stronger and he must be smarter because the fate of the nation, and through the nation the world, rested firmly upon their shoulders.

Others would complain, they would boil with discontent, and they would throw themselves against his people again and again. It has happened time and time again and it would happen again several times in his lifetime. The Silver Fang’s life was a double edged sword. They carried the weight of an entire nation on their shoulders and in turn they carried the contempt and hatred of the enemies of that nation as well as their enemies within. Yet there would be no complaint, and there would be no tears.

The wyrm comes and it tears its way through their world it falls upon the weak and the strong alike but against the walls of the Silver Fang’s ancient fortresses is where it is halted like a bull charging against a brick wall.

The Silver Fangs don’t know they are strong because they were born to rick parents. The Silver Fangs know they are strong because their enemies have thrown anything and everything you can imagine their way and still they stand tall and fast. By the Shadow Lords, their ancient rivals, own reasoning it is the strongest who rule. Well so far the Silver Fangs have ruled for how many Hundred Millenia? Longer than any kingdom of man… Longer than science, and agriculture, longer than man has had fire the Silver Fangs have ruled and still to this day they continue to rule.

This is the legacy Matthieu carries to the door of the Loft. It was an ancient legacy and one which swelled his heart with pride. He might not be great yet but he belonged to a tribe who was judged solely on the merit of their greatness. He would be great in action and deed because he, like every other Silver Fang, will accept nothing less than that.

Patient, and quiet until the time came to speak, the Galliard, and now Elder, stood outside the door biding his time. So much to be done in this city and with this city. So much was going on, and so much needed to be fixed. Ten thousand things might cross his mind on any given day but he was a Silver Fang he would address each one individually, if he has to, and confront them all.

[Alejandro] Alejandro takes down whatever was in that glass, he’s not entirely sure. Then Sinclair’s gone with no promise to introduce him to her spirit friend. “Nice going Alejandro,” he mutters to himself then stuffs the rest of the celery stick and a second one into his mouth, much more uncouth now that he’s alone. He mutters again while he chews. “Desperate freshman vibe.. I’ve never even been to college!” Like the statement makes no sense to him at all.

His brother wanders over and Alejandro hastily hides the empty shot glass amongst a pile of bread sticks.

“Hello Gabi.”

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “I’ll drink to that,” Lukas says quietly, and then does just that: downs his second adios like nothing.

It’s not nothing, though. It’s one of the more potent mixes on the face of the earth, and when Lukas sets his collins glass down on the pavement between his feet he can feel his head lightening. Sitting up again, he grins — a little lazy, a little crooked — as Sarita pulls a joint out like magic.

“I knew you had a stash.” He sounds satisfied. “Anyone who lives part-time in a van has a stash.”

Lukas takes the joint over, then, taking a long slow hit. They don’t see their Alpha indulge in illegal substances much, and the truth is: he doesn’t. He popped a tab of ecstasy with Danicka the night they got — well. Married. Married in front of a city clerk, in a tiny tender ceremony witnessed by exactly three people, all parental units. Married, and then off to a reception that consisted of a club, groundshaking bass, and a harajuku girl that sold them MDMA; then off to a honeymoon of sorts that consisted of holing up in one of the more exclusive suites in the city for a week.

Before that, the last time he touched anything on the DEA schedule was… well. The week before Mrena died. The week he was too busy tailspinning for his own personal reasons to tend to his pack.

He smokes like he knows what he’s doing, though, passes the joint back and lays himself back, stretched out on the floor of the van with his feet still on the ground outside. His eyes close for a while. Then they open and he looks over at his newest sister.

“So how come you’re so quiet tonight?”

[Gabriel Ferreira] The kid is muttering to himself as his brother crosses the room to join him by the table. Gabriel frowns, curious, and casts a glance back over his shoulder at the barefoot blonde who had been speaking with him a few moments ago. Lips form words, and while he is hardly adept at parsing words out of noiseless movement of the mouth, what he can see on the boy’s face tells him that it didn’t go as well as he’d hoped.

That shot glass isn’t tucked away as quickly as he might think it is.

“Jano.”

He comes to stand beside the Theurge, keeping his eyes facing the rest of the room, hands in his pants pockets again now that he’s devoid of a glass to keep them occupied.

“What happened?” he asks, and it’s hard to tell if he’s asking because it’s in the Decent Concerned Brother script or because he actually wants to know.

[Alejandro] “Nothing.” He grumbles, swallows down the vegetables in his mouth. It’s a moment of brief silence and then: “I just wanted to be friends with her and her stupid spirit buddy.” He says, childishly and low to Gabriel. The way he says it makes it clear that he thinks her spirit friend is anything but stupid. A beat later and he’s proving this when he says:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. No spirits are stupid. Not even concrete is stupid, Adam really likes concrete. It can be quite clever.”

[Derek Anderson] His second glass of champagne is empty, he pick another shot of AMF151. He start walknig again, picking up a carrot as he pass near the food table. He downed the shot, feeling a nice buzz by now and keeping it at that. He leave the empty shot glass on the tray and munch on the carrot.

Lukas has left for the moment, possibly to check on Sarita and Amy. Katherine is talking to Adam with Sinclair nearby and the two unknown Garou were talking together. And now another unkown has stepped inside. He looked at his watch and wondered if he should head out. Maybe text Kristen and see if she was still awake and wanted to go out for a late snack or something. Probably not though. The Fianna was probably asleep right now.

He drifted closer to the entrance. He’ll stay a little while longer than get home.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Mirror’s Whisper enters into a glittery — and strangely eclectic in terms of those present — party in full swing. The Galliard Elder has his coat taken by Katherine’s dutiful maid, Lucille at the door, she nods to him and points him inward hanging it up carefully on a hanger.

Down the corridor; the space opens up into Katherine Bellamonte’s white washed dining area. Large black sofas have been pushed outward to make room for guests and three or four waiters are doing tours with trays of food and drink. Asha’s herald, the Kinsman known as Thomas is here, too. A respectable fellow sitting quietly near the hostess, herself. Honor’s Compass, newly minted Adren, is listening to something the Theurge Elder is telling her, her eyes on a bag that seems to contain something of importance.

Katherine notes Matthieu, he gets a bright smile, and a gesture to enter, and make himself at home as Rain of Brass Petals offers Katherine over a beautiful, if broken necklace. Honor’s Compass frowns at the delicate thing in her hands, setting her glass down so she might better cradle it. Her pale eyes quite focused on what the Theurge is attempting to convey.

“Thank you, Adamidas. It is … beautiful. I am very moved you should give this to me, but are you quite sure you wish to part with something so dear to your heart? It was your friend’s, your words are enough.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins. “Of course I have a stash. Shit, Lukas, how do you think I keep myself in gas, smokes, fast food and cell phone service?” A little chuckle comes forth, fairly dry as he takes the joint. She’s never been blatant about how she and Amy scrape by, but she never really hid it either. Patrick knows; Hunter and the rest of Defiance know. It’s a psuedo-living, nothing more.

She watches him take the hit, surprised when he handles it like a pro. “Well, ain’t you just hardcore? I’m impressed, boss-man.” She takes it back and takes another hit, eyes wandering up to the sky. She always finds herself looking at the sky for some reason when she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. She’s never gotten why, and she rarely even thinks about it. She’d attribute it to Luna if she did. It’s not why.

And then he asks why she’s so quiet. Her eyes drop from their upward cast and look over at him. She lets the smoke out in a sigh and brings a foot up to rest against the fender, knee against her chest. “Lot on my mind, I guess. Lotta changes, and I know change can be good. Some changes…obviously…very good. I’m ecstatic over. Others…” She looks down the road where Amy’s cab took her. “The two don’t correlate and the reasons behind Amy have little to nothing to do with the rest, but it feels like I traded a sister for four (three) siblings.”

[Sinclair] It’s easy to interact with Sinclair — or even try to say hi to her — and end up feeling like she just isn’t interested. That her pack is enough for her, thanks, she doesn’t quite want or need to get to know anyone else. She ignores kinfolk to the point of it seeming as though she despises them — and she wouldn’t be the first Garou to get to the point of just not wanting to deal with them anymore. Alejandro comes over because he’s heard she has a spirit familiar and he’s really, really interested in being introduced, and Sinclair tells him to chill out and goes to get another drink.

This apparently meant, to Alejandro, that she wasn’t coming back. That she was blowing him off. Hardly. She gets her shot, yells at Adamidas to get one, and then she’s coming back to the food, blinking as she overhears some of what Alejandro tells his brother. She looks amused, downing her third — fourth? — shot and laughing as she comes up, slinging an arm around the wee Theurge.

“See? Desperate freshman vibe. You like the shot?”

[Adamidas] “Wouldn’t do it unless I meant it. And I wouldn’t give it to you unless I’d thought about it, besides I don’t think Hera’s gonna be pissed about the regifting,” she says. Can’t be too serious but… well, the first statement is serious enough to carry her weight, “and if she is she’ll just kick my ass in the homelands and we’ll call it good.”

Because even though Adam’s outlived her friend by a fair bit, Hera will still be able to kick her ass in the homelands.

[Gabriel Ferreira] The look on the older Garou’s face becomes one of enlightenment, as though the word Nothing contains everything that he needs to know. Nothing. Just talking to an older, higher ranked, more experienced Garou and she wasn’t impressed by what she saw. No big deal.

Without waiting to be pressed, without Gabriel even looking over and down at him, Alejandro explains. There’s a snort when he calls her familiar ‘stupid,’ and that’s when Gabriel looks over at him.

“Which one’s Adam?” he asks, looking back to the room.

The tall blue-eyed kinsman is slowly sneaking towards the exit, and Gabriel watches him a moment before yet another tall creature joins the fray. Matthieu, too, is watched a moment, and by process of elimination, he comes to the tiny teenage girl speaking with their elder.

Before he can start teasing the younger Cliath about his choice in female companions, the Glass Walker returns, slinging an arm around him. Gabriel watches, and though he’s being introduced as the boy’s brother, there is not even a whiff of hypermasculine overprotectiveness in him.

Must be the age difference meant he never had to slam another kid into a locker for fucking with his brother growing up.

[Alejandro] “That one,” he points her out just as Sinclair is wandering back over to them. Her laughter is noticed before anything else and he’s half prepared for something that just isn’t there. She’s amused and it isn’t mean-spirited, not that he thought she was being mean just dismissive. There’s none of that though, just an arm around his shoulders and he tilts his head to look first at his brother with a surprised twisting of his lips into that boyish smile of his and then at Sinclair.

See? Desperate freshman vibe. You like the shot?

I found it.. interesting.” A beat and then: “I may require another before I can truly give a fair judgement.”

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “That’s me. Hardcore.” Lukas laughs quietly. “Truth is before we came out here we used to run under Kate’s brother Ed. Total prodigal son, a charming wastrel. My best friend for a long, long time … it’s a long story. But he had the hookups. Silver Fangs, nothing but the finest green.”

And then that quiet, and then he’s asking her why so serious, and she’s … telling him. He turns to look at her as she does; follows her eyes down the road, lifting his head to see. Then, laying back again:

“I don’t blame you for feeling like that, but I don’t think it’s quite that. It’s true that with you getting packed up, she might feel a little like what used to be you and her has become you-and-your-pack, and then her on the side. I think it’s always going to be a sort of tension in our lives. We’re not like real wolves, whose families are their packs. We’ve got pack-family. We’ve got blood-family. I think it takes a lot of work and balance and understanding to make it work, and the sad thing is I think a lot of us … don’t really make it work, ever.

“But I don’t think that’s the only reason she seems to be drifting farther away. You told me from the start that your sister’s a wildcard, and even though you love her you don’t really think you’re capable of protecting her and warding her the way you’re ‘supposed to’.” He doesn’t have to make air quotes for Sarita to hear them. “She’s like a kite. As much slack as you feed out, if there’s too much strain the line’s going to snap. And a whole lot of shit went down for her, fast. It wasn’t your fault and there wasn’t anything you could do better than you did.

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do better than you’re doing, either. Try to keep her close. Try to protect her, but … ”

Maybe it’s the booze. Maybe it’s the pot starting to unfurl. Either way, Lukas’s thoughts are loose and languid, drifting easily from one subject to the next.

“I heard from my tribesman that he’s claiming her as a mate. Is she happy with that?”

[Katherine Bellamonte] The Silver Fang laughs; a light, tinkling sound rather like windchimes and honey, it is all sweetness, that noise. You would never believe that the creature making it could rip your heart from your chest while it was still beating with her claws in another form; she is entirely too much of a lady; too demure and composed.

“Well, let’s just say I’m only looking after it for the time being, before one day, it is passed along again.” A moment’s quiet, Katherine looks steadily at Adamidas. She had done a rite of reawakening with the Theurge, once, not so long ago. They’d brought back the new season; seen much.

“In the spirit of honesty, Brass Petals, accept my words to you. You’ve grown a lot since I’ve seen you last, I know there is much that we do not know of one another, but what I have glimpsed makes me quite proud to know of you, to introduce you as the leader of our Theurges in the city. It is not an easy thing, being the one looked to, to make the choices.”

[Sinclair] “Yeah, you totally need more,” Sinclair says, hearing that. She pulls back, clapping him on the shoulder. “Get some more, get trashed. It’s a party and if you’re gonna live here then it’s not like you have to worry about getting home safe.”

Nothing more is said about Tripoli, her stupid spirit friend. She actually heads off on her own again. Adamidas is giving the defiantly sober Katherine a gift, something shiny. Sinclair doesn’t seem terribly invested in getting to know the latest and greatest Silver Fangs in town, and in general she gives Matthieu a wide berth in case he either thinks being a Galliard means she wants to hear him regale her with tales of his ancestors or that being a Glass Walker means he can snit at her. So far he has never done either, so she’s perfectly happy to keep it that way.

And, with a brief moment of eye contact with Kate to let her know she’s slipping out for a bit, Sinclair heads outside in the direction of her only brother and her newest sister.

There is a knock on the van’s door. “OPEN UP!” she hollers. “I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN THERE.”

[Adamidas] “You get old, you grow up,” she says. The situation she’s in right now isn’t that different from the one that she was in a year ago. All things considered, though, it’s a world away and a different place in time. She’s not as… well… she’s different now. She’s learned from failure.

“And someone has to make calls, it’s not easy but… ya know… gotta do it,” she says, but she smiles anyway. It’s something sincere and she bites back that little bit of failing to accept a compliment graciously. She mulls it over and reaches up to push some of her own ahir back, “that means a lot to hear, thanks.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens to Lukas as she looks down the road. Her eyes don’t leave the path that the cab left down, but she is clearly listening to him, He’s telling her things she already knew, but they haven’t come from anyone else yet. They’ve been in her own mind–rationalizations and blind optimism that she did everything they could, or platitudes from Amy, who is far from reliable lately at being open with how she really feels. So the words from the Shadow Lord are comfort. They reinforce her.

However, it’s not all true. Not to Sarita, and she shakes her head. “I shouldn’t have lied to her about what happened with Hunter and John. I mean, I know that it was for the best. I know that if I’d told her right then and there, I’d have had to keep her on a damn suicide watch for…hell, days, weeks. But she would have trusted me, at least. Now…that’s broken, because I sat there and smiled while she talked about how he was going to be back soon when I knew he was fuckin’ charcoal.”

She shrugs. “I know what you’re saying. Things…they’ll normalize. I just don’t like the way it is right now, and I don’t like how she’s uncomfortable when she comes here. Which isn’t anyone’s fault, really. I’m worried about her and I hate that I can’t help her.”

The van door gets knocked on, and Sarita hears Sinclair yell. She smirks and shouts through the open back door. “Come around, dork. I an’t crawlin’ through the damn thing to open the door when we got a perfectly good open one here.”

She looks back to Lukas now and nods. “Yeah, it’s true. She’s…yes, she’s happy. I personally don’t know that she’s ready to move on after what happened? And I’m still worried for her. But when I talked to her last night…yes, she cares about him, and he cares about her from what she says. That makes her happy, so…” He shrugs.

“I’m gonna make you kick his ass if he hurts her, though. Just FYI.” A faint joke.

[Sinclair] “WHAT?” Sinclair yells back, as though she didn’t hear. But then she’s laughing, and it’s clear that about four AMFs have got her more than a little buzzed. “Fuck me,” she says, and tromps around to the side door, crawling in like her legs stopped working right as she got to the carpeted edge. She sniffs. “You guys are smoking weed.”

Nevermind that they have the joint out still. She is only using her keen powers of nasal perception. Yup.

[Gabriel Ferreira] “Try not to get too drunk, huh?” Gabriel asks the Theurge, after the Fostern has left to find the rest of her pack. It’s a rhetorical question. “As cute a story as it would be for the grandchildren, if I have to clean blue vomit off of anything I will not be happy.”

The entire time they’ve been in each others’ presence, Resurrection hasn’t shown himself to have much of a sense of humor. Granted, when they first met after however long their previous absence had been, the Philodox had been half-starved and definitely crazed after spending Gaia knows how long hunting the Umbra for a creature of whom he only had scent memory to guide him. He wasn’t cracking a whole hell of a lot of jokes after that.

Tonight it’s a full moon. That certainly isn’t helping.

He claps his ring-bearing hand on the shorter boy’s shoulder, then picks up a pair of champagne flutes from wherever the booze station is. Apparently he’d learned that the best way to approach wallflower Kinfolk is with alcohol in hand; he approaches Derek slowly, careful not to make eye contact least his Rage give the kinsman the impression that he’s undergoing trepanation.

“Here,” he says, handing one of the flutes to Derek before he can sneak out. “This will make the entire affair less painful.”

[Alejandro] He totally needs more, so he totally goes to get more. It’s with a grin to his brother and a nod of his head. “I’ll try not to! But I also may try to get a little drunk, I’m awful curious.”

And he scampers off to collect a pair of shots. These ones he eyes like they’ve got promise rather than any unknown threat. He takes them both over to Adam and Kate, offers one of them to the Theurge.

“Hi Adam!” He beams. “You can have one of these if you would like.”

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “No, you shouldn’t have lied to her.” There’s this, at least: his blunt honesty has a sort of gentleness to it. “That’s what I think, anyway. But at least you lied because you loved her, not because it made your life easier.”

Sarita talks about Stefan, though, about Amy being happy, about Stefan caring about her. A flicker goes through the Ahroun’s eyes. He’s on the verge of answering when Sinclair bangs on the door and then crawls in the back, making him laugh quietly, reach out, grab her in a bearhug and tumble her down.

“You bet your ass we’re smoking pot in here. Here, let me have another hit.”

And taking it, exhaling it, he goes back to the subject — not bothering to backtrack for Sinclair, figuring she’s bright enough to pick up on the gist even if she’s packed down godknowshowmany AMFs.

“The thing is,” he says, “I am a little worried that Stefan might hurt Amy. Maybe not on purpose. Everything I’ve seen and heard about him says he’s an upstanding Garou, does things right. Does things by the book. But that’s sort of the problem. My mate — who reads people like I read books — thinks maybe nothing’s really there under the surface. Like he’s just … cold and barren inside, just going through all the motions the way he was taught without feeling any of it. Without feeling for any of it, maybe.

“And then there’s this whole business about him apparently doing something so shocking and hush-hush that Defiance might not want to pack with him anymore.” Lukas shrugs the best he can, flat on his back as he is. “I don’t know. I don’t want to smear a Garou’s good name on nothing but conjecture and rumors, and I haven’t had the time to followup on anything yet. But she’s your sister, and you’re my sister. I just think … maybe for a while at least, keep a bit of an eye on her. Even if she’s not technically your concern anymore.”

[Derek Anderson] He had been about to move toward Kate, thank her ofr the party and get out when one of the three unknown Garou stopped near and offered him a flute of champagne. Now, he could be impolite and refuse, bid good night and run home or he could be the proper Silver Fang kin, smile politly with a nod of the head and say

“Thank you, and yeah, I guess it helps” He took the flute

“How are you doing Sir?”He say very polite. He didn’t knew the man, so he didn’t dare being too friendly “My name’s Derek by the way” He say offering his hand to him. He didn’t need to tell him of his tribe. He knew the man could msell him and beside that, he was the only kin, obviously not one of ladies mate, so technically he must be of Kate’s tribe.

“Are oyu new to the city or we just haven’t crossed path?”

[Adamidas] “Oh kick ass,” there is a shot brought to her and she perks up. Half flesh, and she’s content to live in it. Pay homage to it, attempt to beat her liver into submission with whatever Alejandro has in his hand because it goes straight to her lips and down the hatch. Pride keeps her head from swimming but pride also tells her to drink more, which is usually how you end up playing chicken fight in swimming pools and waking up bound to a completely foreign totem.

“Thanks. You having fun?”

A moment.

“We should play, like, Apples to Apples or something. Best game ever.”

[Sinclair] Sinclair has no idea what they’re talking about in here right now. She has only the barest knowledge of Sarita’s troubles with her sister, she never met Drawn in Blood that she can recall, she has only dim awareness of what happened to him and as a rule she avoids thinking about, talking about, or dealing with the pack that is now Defiance, was once the Vanguard. She crawls into the van on her hands and knees, is grabbed,

“Ack,” she says blandly, “ack. Ack.” And flops down.

Lukas leaves her there, gets another hit. Sinclair rolls onto her back and stares at the roof of Sarita’s van thoughtfully, her knees bent and her feet akimbo and her hands on her belly. She listens. “You should talk to Kate about Gabriella,” she says, after Lukas has finished talking for a minute.

Her arm lifts. She snaps her fingers. “GIVE A GIRL A JOINT. Joint. Jointjointjoint.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] The Theurge brings over more shots, and Katherine accepts one with a little smile from the Cliath. She clinks the glass against the Theurge elder and downs it; grimacing briefly.

“Oh,” Katherine says with pink-cheeked enthusiasm. “We have a great mass of games somewhere. On those machines upstairs that Sinclair yells at frequently when she uses them. I also purchased — ” A little hiccup. Katherine covers her mouth, apology never looked so sincere. Continues. “Some gear for the pool so they can play water tennis or something in there. The net just needs affixing.”

[Alejandro] “I am!” He says and tips his own shot back, albeit slightly more delicately so than his Auspice Elder. There’s a brief moment of silence where there’s confusion and indecision on his face before he blurts out:

“What’s Apples to Apples?! Let’s play. It doesn’t matter what it is.” A pause and he fidgets with his ill-fitted suit, plucks at it like it’s constricting him — which it is — followed by: “We must.”

And then there’s more games. Upstairs apparently. “Let’s go explore, Adam.”

[Matthieu] Matthieu enters the house with a pleasant smile. He was a naturally charming individual, he did not necessarily radiate the intense heat of rage that so many others did. Make no mistake those eyes burned with passion and fury alike but that smile showed control. Matthieu was not some savage wild beast he was a beast in complete control of his faculties. This was part of what made one a Silver Fang the ability to exert complete control at all times. To never let your temper flare past a certain point, to never lose your cool unless it was warranted. Matthieu might as well have had a red carpet rolled out before him by the way he strode across the floor and greeted his host with the warmest of smiles. In his hands a small box was held firmly and close to himself. The box itself was hard wood and polished, it was quite decorative but likely not what the Galliard had intended as a gift for the eldest of his tribe within the city.

He came upon his hostess and took the time to greet all in the room with a polite and friendly smile though his intention was in greeting the hostess first. She was his direct elder and was this not a celebration of her achievements? Silver Fang achievements were special affairs. Not to belittle or speak down to the other tribes but when a Silver Fang reached a milestone in their life it was simply grander than that of the average garou. Certainly the other tribes would argue otherwise but if there is one thing that a Silver Fang is used to it is resistance from the other tribes. It doesn’t mean the other tribes aren’t impressive in their own right it is just that Silver Fangs hold themselves to a higher standard than the other tribes. Matthieu has tried to lecture the others in these matters but rarely do they seem to hear him. No only a Silver Fang can truly understand.

He waits until she turns to face him or greet him or otherwise acknowledge his presence. He does not with to impose or intrude in the middle of his elder’s party! When she does turn her attention back towards him he finally speaks in a proud and carefully practiced voice.”Katherine Bellamonte, Truth’s Meridian, Honor’s Compass there are few in the region who have not heard of your ascent. Allow me to honor you Rhya with a gift sent by my own father to celebrate this momentous occasion.”He says this while presenting the box, which was roughly five by five inches on a side and roughly four inches high. The hard wood was held together by hand crafted metalwork and the box itself looked as if it could be older than Chicago itself. A tiny latch held the box closed, and the top of the box held two markings denoting the Silver fang tribe as well as the glyph of the Half Moon.

“We all work hard in our lives Rhya but the rise to Adren is a symbol that few achieve. No longer are you a young woman working to make her way in the world your voice will carry itself within our tribe and nation. For when an Adren speaks even the most stubborn of elders will stop to listen and those cliaths foolish enough not to hear the wisdom spoken from her lips will soon learn to regret their decision.”He adds in the warmest of tones to his elder. His smile shows through and he allows her to take the box before stepping backwards and folding his hands neatly before him.

Matthieu was dressed surprisingly well. It was hard to pick out the designer, however, unless one was familiar with local designers. Everything he wore was custom tailored and each and every thread was carefully placed to fit his figure perfectly. Simply looking at him revealed that he must have spent two hours getting ready for this affair. Appearance was important it showed honor and respect for ones peers. To appear disheveled and worn in the company of others showed a lack of respect for oneself as well as their peers. Matthieu was old money, tradition, well bred and trained. The last thing he would ever wish to do is appear as anything less than who he was.

[Gabriel Ferreira] The flute changes hands, and the strange, Rage-heavy Garou lifts the one remaining in a silent toast before taking a sip. Sir, he calls him, and this doesn’t strike him nearly as strange as it likely ought to. It’s analogous to a civilian referring to a Private First Class as ‘sir,’ but Gabriel doesn’t correct him, or mock him.

He folds his lips to get the moisture off of them and answers, “No complaints, yet.”

His name’s Derek, by the way.

They shake, the Garou’s hand dry yet powerfully warm.

“Gabriel,” he says, yet it is not pronounced as though he was born in America, to American parents; it’s a rounder ‘a,’ stress on the last syllable rather than the first, though he himself does not seem to have much of an accent. “Pleasure, Derek.”

In the scant amount of time that Derek spends asking his question, the slightly shorter male takes another belt off of his flute. He doesn’t have the typical Full Moon’s social awkwardness or the typical Gibbous Moon’s propensity for long-winded speech, yet his Rage would suggest he could easily be either of those auspices.

“Both, it seems. My brother–” He turns towards the rest of the room, briefly, to point out the floppy-haired blond who’s about to disappear with the Theurge Elder. “–and I just arrived this week.” He turns away from the room again to ask, “So which one’s yours?”

[Adamidas] “No no no, that’s water volley ball. If it was tennis then you’d have raquets and the ball would have to bounce and I don’t think I wanna play water volley ball with Lukas because he looks like he has a seriously good vertical leap and spiking the ball could cause a concussion and I don’t want to, like, drown while playing volleyball. It’s not that important.”

She grinned, and her expression is surprisingly mellow. She’s not a very heavy person, she didn’t eat much today and despite her bravado, Adam doesn’t do this often. It seems that her ability to drink, much like a lot of things about her, happen to be directly tied to her strength of will and her strength of purpose. Her purpose tonight, it seemed, wasn’t to look like a badass while drinking. It was to celebrate Kate and get shitfaced.

“And it’s a word game! There are cards and you have a hand of them, right? And someone throws down a word- an adjective specifically, and you have to throw down nouns that match that adjective. It’s really, really fun and I promise it’s not half as lame as it sounds.”

He wants to explode. Can they explore?

“It’s Kate’s house!”
Ergo, Kate’s call.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s already had another hit by time Lukas calls for it, and she passes it over. Sinclair gets a grin when she makes her keen observation. “Good call.”

She looks at the Ahroun when he says she shouldn’t have lied. She doesn’t take it as reproach, just as agreement. She gives a frown though, when Lukas talks about Stefan. Well, he is a pretty crazy sunovabitch. Yeah, but Sarita doesn’t know that. Dude, it’s right on his freaking sheet! You mean that thing that Sarita doesn’t have access to? Oh…yeah, right. Exactly.

The Strider listens, and she shakes her head. “Thaaaat’s encouraging.” She considers. “She seems to think he’s good for her. I can’t say I trust her judgment right now, but she seemed to trust him before this whole shitstorm of doom fell on her like a freaking Rube Goldberg-esque Jigsaw trap of melancholy and Fall-Out Boy songs. Thanks…I’ll keep an eye on her.”

She pauses. “But then, I was gonna keep an eye on her anyway. Assuming we both make it that far, I’m pretty sure I’ll be keeping an eye out on her from the nursing home. Metaphorically speaking.”

[Derek Anderson] He shook the hand firmly and briefly “It’s a pleasure as well”He drank some more from the flute, listening to Gabriel talking. “So ALejandro is your brother?”

His eyes look in the same direction as Gabriel, watching them too. “He kind of told me his name in passing earlier”he say with a lgiht shrugh. The young Garou seemed energitic. His attention return on the older brother

“Which one’s is mine what? Family? None, I come from Pittsburgh, mate? None either” After all one was taken, one was either possibly gay or jsut kin hateful and another was crazy…maybe two of them were. Adam seemed to be in her own world sometimes. “Katheirne is my guardian as she is tribe elder”

He simply say, drinking some more champagne.

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “And that’s why you’re a good sister,” Lukas concludes, laughing, “even if you feel like a shitty one right now.”

Serious again, “I mean that. I got lucky with my sister. A lot of Garou with siblings end up a lot worse off. Kate, for one. Rebellion, self-endangerment, heartbreak, you name it. Most of them handle it by either severing all ties or locking their loved ones up. It’s nice to see that you have the courage to just let her make her own mistakes. You’re just there for her if she wants you. If not, you don’t push it, and you make it clear that her mistakes are her own responsibility.”

Lukas doesn’t know where, exactly, that train of thought is going. He lets it go, tucking one hand behind his head. Quiet now.

After a while, “Is Kate still entertaining in there?”

[Katherine Bellamonte] Honor’s Compass takes the box from her Cousin with a due amount of tenderness. The Galliard’s father had sent it, and Katherine admires it from every angle, sweeping a hand over the carved Glyphs atop it before raising her head to listen, head slightly tilted to everything the newly anointed Galliard Elder says to her.

Pink cheeks, flushed with drink and accomplishment, further color and she offers a hand up to her Cousin in thanks.

“Your father does me great honor, Mirror’s Whisper in sending such a token, please do pass on my most sincere thanks to him for this gift, and thank you for coming tonight. I am glad to see my tribe doing so well in Chicago. It brings me a great amount of happiness. I hope you will stay, and meet some of our new Cousins.”

Katherine inclines her head at Alejandro. “This is Alejandro Seeks the Horizon, his brother is over by our Kinsman there, his name is Gabriel, another Half Moon as myself.” They want to explore, Katherine smiles. “You are welcome to adventure where you do, but be careful on the stairs.”

[Gabriel Ferreira] So Alejandro is your brother?

The noise Gabriel makes is quarantined to his throat, an affirmation that doesn’t seem to believe it needs to validate the situation with an actual verbal response. Perhaps he’s just loathe to admit it, yet there is nothing outwardly wrong with the Theurge that would garner such a reaction. His renown, endowed with it as he is, is impressive for someone so young. One would think the teenager’s family would be pleased with him.

The rest of the family isn’t present, though, so all Derek has is his older brother. He looks, more than anything else, weary, as though Alejandro is seven instead of seventeen.

No family present. No mate. Katherine is his guardian, as she’s tribe elder.

“So I hear.”

He’s putting a mighty rapid dent in his champagne.

“How’s a guy like you get away with no mate?” he asks.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Thanks. Kinda just the way it had been. I could only get away with zip-tying her in her sleep once.” She’s grinning. But she’s serious, too. It’s a long story.

She scrubs at her face, then looks at the house. “I haven’t seen anyone come out, so either she’s entertaining, everyone passed out or everyone drowned in the pool. Those are about the options I see.”

[Sinclair] “I don’t have any brudders or sisters,” Sinclair informs them, slurring a bit. “I have cousins, but they’re not as bad.” She might be talking to the van’s ceiling. Nobody has given her a joint so her hand has flopped back down on her stomach.

“I think the pack-family is more important for that,” she muses, but she wasn’t here earlier, she doesn’t know that Lukas talked about pack families and families before. “For that… siblingish thing. S’like brothers and sisters, they’re s’posed to know you, nobody else in the world has really had a life like you’ve had or somefing, an they know you or somefing and so they get it. You know? They just… get stuff.

“But we aren’t really gonna have that same kinda close thing with Kin, even if they’re like, our twin. You wanna know a sad story I’ll tell you ’bout some twins an one of ’em changed and one of ’em didn’t and it’s just… ”

There are tears in her eyes. She closes them for a moment. Opens them again. “I dunnow,” she says, quieter. “There’s definitely stuff you can’t get from pack, though. Can’t get from anyone but Kin, anI’m not just talking bout sex or something, I’m not, it’s… y’know there’s reasons.”

A beat. “There’s reasons we have em and need em it sure isn’t to clean up our messes or be all badass with us in battle or be our stupid heralds and servants or babydaddies or something, it’s just something else and so I’m really meaning it when I say you should talk to Kate because if you don’t wanna lose your sister, if you don’t –”

Sinclair is crying now, the tears rolling out of her eyes and down the sides of her face, off her temples, hitting the van’s carpeting. “If you don’t wanna lose her. Cuz it’s so easy to lose them.”

She squeezes her eyes shut, and opens them after she’s pushed out the rest of the tears that came so quickly and so unbidden. She takes a breath, and exhales, and seems to be done.

“Alcohol makes people sad,” she concludes.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Amendment:

Katherine then does open the box.

[Alejandro] “Hello!” Matt gets from Alejandro, just as cheery as usual. He’s a short boy, hair that isn’t so much floppy as it is unruly. But it flops in places, so there is that. He would say more; maybe he would give Matt a proper introduction, he really would like to but Kate told them they can explore [explode].

“I like the sound of this game Adam, this apples to apples. Let us see if we can find it in this wonderful home.”

He scoops up another shot and drinks it rather clumsily before literally running off into the house. He’s a menace, he’s going to break something, he is definitely not going to be careful on the stairs.

[Derek Anderson] He tilted his heaad at Gabriel’s comment “Ha, well either I”m too fragile or just ont the type for some people.” He grinned “It’s ok really. I’m not comlaining at the moment. Seem like I just haven’t found the right person or more probably haven’t been found by said person.”After all usually kin don’t choose, they are chosen.

He drank some more “Also, maybe my work keep peopel at bay. I”m a detective. Many memebers of the Nation are doing dubious things related to mortal laws. Maybe some think I”ll actually try to arest them or I”ll be offended or something” He shrugh “Whatever it is, I guess eventually i’ll change and I”ll be mated. Or I’ll die doing my duties first. Whatever happens, happens right?”

[Gabriel Ferreira] Whatever, his hair is floppy.

[Adamidas] “He’s going to break his faaaace and it’s not my faaauuult-” she says as she’s standing up and heading off to follow Alejandro. She’s decidedly less graceful at this moment, but she’s also loud and-

Oh, wait, being loud isn’t a good thing.

[Gabriel Ferreira] “Don’t run in the house.

He doesn’t yell, but the Philodox’s voice carries quite a bit further than one would suspect it to be capable of doing. It’s the clapping of Alejandro’s shoes that has him briefly turning his head to issue that matronly warning, and then Derek is answering him.

What he says has Gabriel watching him a bit longer than might be comfortable for the kinsman, or for anyone who happens to be looking over at them at the time. He’s silent, mulling this over, blue eyes drifting from blue only when champagne flutes are lifted, and Derek continues on.

“Right,” he confirms. His flute is becoming dangerously empty, and that AMF is starting to creep into his veins like a pernicious reminder that he isn’t impervious to a few things: balefire, silver, and drinks mixed by Shadow Lords. At least he’s not crying, yet. “You said you’re a detective?” A pause for confirmation. “I can see that intimidating certain females.”

[Matthieu] “My Great great great great great great great grandfather was Joseph Louis II known to the nation as Judgement’s Hand a Half-Moon like yourself though he died an elder, something which I look forward to seeing you achieve. He was a staunch believer in the Garou nation and it’s merits but he could also see it’s flaws.”He says back to her before turning his attention to the other two and greeting each with a polite bow.”Well then I shall have to take a moment after we are through here and properly introduce myself to them all!”

“Judgement’s Hand was not a warrior like his father he was a thinker, and a planner. He knew that we could not rule this nation by might of arms alone. He would be the first to tell you that our laws must be held sacred as the unifying force of our society and as a result there should be no one individual above those laws. Whether he be your king or your own mate justice must be blind to personal opinion.”He continues.

“In this he helped to forge the strength of my own house and sought to open himself up as a judge, not just to Silver Fangs but to all tribes.”He says with a nod of his head.”As Europe head forcefully into the reformation he too helped to reform our own peoples ways and to make certain justice was blind to position and tribe. All garou must have faith in our laws or our society cannot function.”He speaks of his ancestor with such pride, and why shouldn’t he be? Each one has his own stories and tales to tell. So much to share.”You may not be his descendant but he would be proud to know you share his moon, and I am sure one day when you too pass from this world he will be glad to welcome you as a friend.”He says with the warmest little smile.

Inside the box she would find tiny white carvings, each individual piece was rather smooth, and shaped with enough imperfections to imply it was indeed crafted by an artisan who did not have the machinery of today on his side. Half the pieces were red, and the other pieces were white. Anyone familiar with the game of Chess would recognize these pieces as exactly that! Only very very very old pieces.

“He loved the game of Chess, it’s current incarnation came into being within his lifetime and he liked to believe that while it was the Full Moon’s place to rule the battlefield it was the Half Moon whose careful mind saw what the, often brash, full moon could not. In that sense he regularly challenged his peers in order to challenge their minds… In this way garou might become greater for stopping to utilize all their strengths.”He adds in a softer tone.”So in that sense I feel this would be best gifted to you. Might you continue to improve strength of mind, body, and spirit to honor your own ancestors as well as my own.”He finally concludes.

“You will need to find your own board. The original board was destroyed almost three hundred years ago.”He adds with a little laugh.”His granddaughter was not so even tempered as he.”

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] [fuck, i misread sarita’s post. i thought she passed the joint to sinclair, not lukas. lukas woulda passed it to sinclair! ohwell. *rolls with it* apparently he’s just TOO DRUNK AND STONED.]

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] “Hey.” Lukas pushes himself up on his elbows, alarmed. “Hey, hey.”

It’s somewhere between awkward and natural, the way he pulls Sinclair against him. He doesn’t tell her not to cry. That seems at once pointless and insulting. He just — hugs her. Sidehugs her, and lets her to cry it out. The joint is still smouldering in his hand. He’s forgotten about it. It’s possible he thinks he passed it to Sinclair already.

“No it doesn’t,” he disagrees when Sinclair concludes that alcohol makes people sad. And this sounds very wise to him right now: “It just makes you stop hiding the sad.

“You should, though.” He’s talking to Sarita now. “Talk to Kate, I mean. She has a sister, Gabriella, who was one of those nightmare kin siblings I talked about. It was … hellish on all of us, but especially on her, to go through that. I think you’re doing better with your sister, but you should still talk to her. She probably has insight I don’t.”

[Derek Anderson] He blinked when the man yelled at his younger brother then the man stared at him. And osmehow, Derek seemed almsot entirely comfortable during that time. After all, he’s the one who enjoys the companie of a crazy Strider Ragabash and actually is fascinated by Sinclair and the predator feel about her. If he could, and it would never happen, he would sit and talk with the Glass Walker for hour despire the feeling, or play vdeo games or what not.

Maybe he wascrazy himself but he didn’t mind danger or feeling fear or discomfort. Maybe that’s why he was a cop or maybe being a cop helped him dealing with those feelings, then again, maybe he was starting to feel drunk and had those crazy thoughts and rationalization.

Either way, he didn’t squirm or look away. He wasn’t bold enough to look the man in the eyes, but if allowed, he probably would “Yes, I”m a detective”He confirm to the man before chuckling at his next comment

“Seriously, my job can’t be intimidating ot a woman who can turn into a 10 feet killing machine and withstand bullets, blades and jsut about everthing else”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Her face falls when she hears Sinclair’s voice start to go in that direction. It’s not just the voice…sometimes, there’s a feeling like something in the air. Like ozone before lightning strikes, the hair on the back of your neck. And most of the time, you’re as powerless to stop it as you would be to stop a thunder storm.

And then the tears come. And much like Lukas, Sarita hugs Sinclair from the other side. She doesn’t say anything. She just nods in agreement to Lukas and Sinclair’s advice.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Gabriel’s voice carries a warning and Katherine’s eyes flick his way instantly as it issues such; there is caution enough in that. Her eyes on him; the pale blue conveying the silent reminder. My house, my rules. Yet she does not openly reprimand him, for it does not demand such, yet. He is a brother, cautioning another — she cannot openly fault him for it.

She returns her interest to Matthieu, and carefully extracts a chess piece to admire its craftsmanship before setting it back inside with sincere regard. “Thank you, Matthieu, they are — ” a moment, she cannot find a suitable way to word it, settles, rather than finds.

“Quite lovely. I shall treasure them.”

[Alejandro] Don’t run in the house.

He doesn’t look over his shoulder, but he does suddenly turn his frantic bounding into a very fast paced and awkward walk. He tries on the mask of innocence, like he had never been running in the first place. Adam catches up and then he’s off again, up the stairs and he trips but that’s okay, and he hurts his knee but that’s also okay.

Up and onwards. It would be easy to think that if he scraped himself on the concrete he’d laugh, but if he fell over on the grass he would definitely cry.

What he emerges to is.. well it’s: “This is awesome!” He says to Adam, “Look at all this stuff.” There’s couches and bean bags and gym equipment he’s not really sure what to do with.

“Where do you think Apples to Apples would be?”

[Matthieu] He nods his head back to her.”I did not feel it appropriate not to measure this milestone in your life without something worthy of that moment. I am sure Judgement’s Hand will be honored to know they are safe in your care.”He adds with a little nod of his head.”But enough of that, I suppose I should run and mingle. Seems we’ve had quite an influx of newcomers and I should like to have to chance to meet each and every one.”He continues in a soft and controlled voice. He was practiced so far as speech came. Though he could be wordy each word was spoken in a manner intended to invoke emotions or lead a conversation in one way or another.

He so loved to invoke the names of heroes, or dreams, or beauty and passion. He was a Galliard and his voice was intended to inspire the hopes and dreams of a tribe lay with him and the hopes and dreams of a nation lay with his tribe.

[Gabriel Ferreira] Katherine attempts to shoot a look of warning to the male nagging his younger brother, but for the brief amount of time that the Cliath’s head is turned, he only spares her a few seconds of eye contact.

There is no challenge in it, but neither is there apology. Blood precludes property.

If Derek gets the impression that the Philodox isn’t used to the amount of Rage he has to carry with him, or that he just doesn’t care what sort of effect it has on the Kinfolk with whom he speaks, he wouldn’t be that far off. It seems unwieldy but nothing he can’t handle, like an extra weight slung across his shoulders. He isn’t a broad man, yet Gabriel looks as though his strength is belied by his build. It’s in the way he carries himself versus the muscle strapped to his bones.

“Not your job,” he says. “What it takes to do your job. Garou don’t know what to do with smart Kinfolk, man. They exist, but they’re so uncommon they’ve almost been classified as myths by now.”

He drains his glass.

“Plus, you don’t seem like you take a lot of shit.”

[Sinclair] The truth is, to some extent it makes her feel weak. Like when the moon wanes — as it will again, soon — and Lukas and Kate tend to flank her, subtly and thoughtlessly, as though they don’t even realize they’re doing it. But this is worse, because she’s not actually weak, she’s just drunk and she wants to tell Lukas he’s wrong, that she doesn’t give a fuck if she can’t be around Kinfolk — her own parents, even — for more than a few minutes, she’s over that, it’s fine, she left that behind after the solstice because she just gave up

but the truth is also this: she’s trying so hard not to give up, and now Asha’s dead too and she’s just getting so goddamned tired of being miserable.

It doesn’t mean that when Lukas and Sarita both end up hauling her up off the floor of the van and hugging her, one to either side, that she doesn’t just bawl that much more, suddenly renewed when a minute ago it looked like she was going to stop at the conclusion that alcohol can be blamed for just about anything.

Except her sadness, which is very real, and isn’t going away, and will not be reburied. And it’s not like she didn’t warn Sarita. It’s not like Lukas hasn’t been there, unaware for the longest time of what she was dealing with or how profoundly it had affected her.

In any case. The long and short of it is that in a van that smells like weed, she cries her stupid heart out until she starts wiping at her face and at least tonight she wasn’t wearing a ton of eye makeup so there’s that, but she reaches over and takes the joint from Lukas and says,

“I don’t even remember how to do this,” she says.

[Derek Anderson] He finished his champagne and smiled “I odn’t know how smart I am really. Doesn’t seem like it some times” He shook his head “And maybe I don’t take shit much either. I learned to stand ofr others and it made me able to stand for myself as well. I mean, I know my place and will be respectful, but I will talk back some if a true born lack respect toward me for no reasons

I has happened last week, will probably happen again. I”m not pretenting I”m on an even keel that you or any others. But I refuse to be treated like I’m totally inferior either. I jsut know what I can and can’t do and think tht despite the fact I’m not a true warrior of Gaia, but I”m still a person and deserve to be treated as such

Might sound pretentious, but I know my own worth”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Sinclair did warn Sarita. And that’s probably why she saw it coming. She doesn’t complain, doesn’t do anything except comfort her. That’s what Sinclair needs. Well, what she needs more specifically is to come back from the brink. But for now, Sarita is just here to comfort. So she does exactly that, silently and supportively.

She only pulls away when Sinclair is done, and even then only just.

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] And Lukas laughs at that, gently. And gently, he takes that joint from Sinclair, holds it between thumb and forefinger, raising his eyebrows demonstratively.

“Like this,” he says. There’s an irony to this: the Shadow Lord in his fine threads, teaching the tattooed and pierced Glass Walker how to take a hit. But he does it anyway: fits the joint to his mouth, brow furrowing as he inhales

and passes it to her. A little choked, holding the smoke in, “See? Easy.”

[Adamidas] “Hey,” she says, once she gets a look at a window. They’re at a party, sure, but Adam’s a little tipsy. And the moon is so big… and bright… and pretty. And she just looks at it for the time being. She takes a few steps over and taps Alejandro with one of her arms. There’s a smile on her face, and it’s wonder whaen she looks at the moon.

Genuine wonder. Like she’s seeing it for the first time. It’s never been there before, so close. Like she could touch it if she tried.

“It’s a clear enough night,” she tells him, “the path will be bright enough, I think we can make it.”

She looks back at Luna. He’ll know what she means. She has faith.

[Gabriel Ferreira] Will wonders never cease: a Kinfolk speaks, at length, and the Garou doesn’t cut him off, doesn’t make faces or roll his eyes or seem as though he’d rather be balancing his checkbook or reading over his stock portfolio or whatever it is upper middle-class people do with their free time. Whether Derek is able to meet his gaze or not, Gabriel keeps watching him, right hand pocketed, left arm extended with the flute lazily dangling from his fingers.

“Yeah, well,” he says, glancing at his flute to reveal that yes, indeed, it is still empty, “piece of advice: stop giving a fuck if people find you pretentious. You spin it right, you’re confident. Confidence makes up for a lot, you know? You can be the dumbest mother fucker in the room but if you know what you’re doing and act like it, people respect that.”

He’s cut off; no more goddamn champagne.

“Here,” he says, and reaches for Derek’s likewise empty glass. “You leaving?”

[Sinclair] She’s no stranger to weed. But they’re more like distant acquaintances, struggling to remember one another’s name at a party. Oh right, you! Shit, man, how have you been? What you been up to?

Y’know, a little of this, a little of that.

She takes the hit, with a little bit of help to remember how to do this after a very, very long time. And she manages to get a nice long drag off of it, holds it longer than a virgin, finally exhales

and has a coughing fit. “Puddin’ and pie,” she responds, gravelly.

[Alejandro] He wanders over to the window beside Adam and he looks up at the moon that is just so close tonight. It’s right there, they’re both right here. He told her once that he has seen the moon from the other side, but there are so many sides he hasn’t seen it from. He hasn’t touched it and right now he just wants to crawl up inside it and just be.

She taps him on the arm, says those words.

“We can.” He agrees, without doubt. “We shall.” His hand takes hers, and —

woosh

They disappear.

[Derek Anderson] He nodded to the man and did meet his eyes. Nothing about Gabriel indicated that the Garou would take offense.

“I’ll consider your words Gabriel. It’s just that there’s a thin line betwen confidence and insolence sometime. I seen Kin coss it and seen true born having difficulties to make the distinction in kin behavior. Still you’re right. I’ll act how I see fit, the way I wasraised and if someone take slight of it, they can tell me about it or go over my head and seek Katherine.

Or they can be nasty and I”ll deal with it as it should be” He shrugh “Either way, I’ll know I wasn’t wrong. Hopefully”

Her grin slightly and let Gabriel take the empty glas “I think it’s time I should go. Seem like almsot everyone is gone anyway”He say looking around. Only Kahterine and the other guy were left beside Gabriel and him

“It was really nice meeting you Gabriel”

[Katherine Bellamonte] The Theurges vanish — nobody is surprised.

The Unbroken members are found together outside, huddled within a van — this is no shock.

Honor’s Compass does not, as her deed-name would suggest, deviate from her duties as hostess until every last one of her guests and hired waiting staff are long since departed, and in the latter’s sense, paid their due. She takes those precious gifts given to her inside her own bedroom and into her closet, pressing aside wall space to find her safe. They are put thus within, as important to the Half Moon as those things already within it.

Those those linger are welcome, food continues, as does drink until all are content.

Thomas aids Lucille and Katherine, in cleaning away dishes and glasses, the Adren gossiping with her maid as if she were still a child, and the elder woman her nearest notion of safety.

[Gabriel Ferreira] [Thanks for the scene, you maniacs!]

[Alejandro] [Thanks for the scene peeps!]

[Derek Anderson] (thank you all)

[Katherine Bellamonte] [thanks guys! :] ]

[Lukas Wyrmbreaker] [i’m out too! lukas is just gonna … like … pass out or something.]=

Packed

[Wyrmbreaker] There’s a portion of the Caern set aside for the totems of the packs. Shrines to every totem Maelstrom has ever supported dot the landscape there — statues, totempoles, markers, monuments. Some are meticulously kept by active packs, the carvings and altars humming with energy; others are falling into disrepair, their packs and totems moved on.

Perun’s shrine is a massive, black, anvil-shaped rock — as tall as a man and twice as broad. Slammed deep into the flat top is an axe; around the haft wraps the sapling of a spirit-oak of Perun, far hardier, more gnarled, more bare and stark than the usual oak gaffling. Carved glyphs ring the broad top of the thunder-stone: praises to Perun, to honor, to war, to victory. There are names carved there too — packmates past and present.

For two weeks, this shrine stood silent, ominously still as the sky before a storm. Tonight, it pulses with power again, and deep in the clefts of the carvings an eldritch glow sometimes surfaces, crackles, fades. Wyrmbreaker sits atop the thunder stone, crosslegged, head bowed. Meditating, perhaps.

It’s here and now that he asked Sarita to meet him. A couple hours before dawn, in the heart of the Caern.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The Strider has had a whirlwind couple of days. Craziness, sister left town, politely fending off Silver Fang kin who are convinced they’d be great together, dealing with Harrier’s Grace over a matter that should have been dealt with a couple of weeks ago. Lot’s gone on for her, but she’s actually feeling very good, all things considered. She’s not skipping through daisies or the like, but she’s all right. Better than she would have predicted she could have been. A talk with Sinclair last night helped. The tequila didn’t hurt.

And thus, she makes her way into the Caern, heading to the place that Lukas told her to go. She’s left her coat behind; she just had a feeling. Boots sound quickly on the ground–the Strider is pretty light on her feet–and she can feel the power as she approaches. A bit of the snark wears away at that. Sarita makes her wisecracks with the best of the Ragabash, but she’s nothing it not mindful that sometimes, sobriety is called for. The lack of the usual snark makes it seem more sincere, perhaps, than it would otherwise be. She comes in view, steps slowing as she stops several feet in front of Lukas, watching quietly for a moment.

“Hey.” It’s all she says for now. She’s not cracking jokes just yet. Just letting him know she’s here.

[Wyrmbreaker] It’s a moment before Lukas replies, though he stirs when Sarita speaks. He moves: hands in his lap coming outward, spreading flat-palmed over the textured surface of the stone. In that one gesture — in the splay of his fingers, the bow of his neck and the hunch of his shoulders, is the purpose of his being here redefined. Not meditating after all. Apologizing, the Alpha standing for the pack.

After a moment, he lifts his head and opens his eyes. So many of the Unbroken have eyes like his: piercing, stark. Blue, for Sinclair and Katherine and himself, but even Asha’s are fierce and flashing. Lightning in the depths. He reaches out, holding his hand out to give Sarita a hand up. The pull is steady; not quite effortless, but with a measured, unfaltering sort of strength.

When she’s up on the flat top of the anvil-rock, Lukas smiles at her. “Hey,” he says. He opens his hands again, presses them palm-down to the stone as though to feel the power, the energy of the totem.

“This is Perun,” he says. Not much preamble. “Our representation for him, anyway, where a part of him resides and will reside so long as the Unbroken exist in this city. Most of him soars free in the sky above. In the storm and the rain, the snow, the wind. In our fists and in our fangs. In our hearts.

“Can you feel it?”

[Honor’s Compass] There’s also a section set aside for the fallen in the Caern.

Burial plots for those who came before; who fought and bled and fell while others were barely Cubs readying for their Rites of Passage. Some still had totems in this Sept, some, like the ones Honor’s Compass sits before; an elegant form in jeans, boots to her knees and a cropped jacket in a soft pink; adorned with military style buttoning; were the pack-mates of the surviving Unbroken.

It was just Lukas and Katherine now, who could trace their pack right to its origin.

Some had left, but most lay beneath the dirt at Katherine’s feet, nothing but bone and decaying flesh. The Silver Fang can feel her brother close by, can sense the reparations he makes toward Perun for her failure in challenge. It draws a sigh from the blonde’s lips, and after another long moment she rises to her full height and turns her eyes toward the row of totems. To where she can see another figure being greeted.

She turns, the Fostern Half Moon and with her hands tucked into pockets, moves through the graves toward them.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smiles a little when Lukas offers a hand. There’s something to be said about this…something that Sarita had never thought she had felt the desire for. She had her sister, and that was all she needed. A pack…it would come, or it would not. However, she’s found over the past few weeks since her invitation that the longing, the desire that should come naturally to Garou to belong, to be part of something…it woke up within her. Now, with Amy halfway across the country with Owl knows what happening…well, it was just the kick in the ass Sarita needed. She needs her sister back someday, but it is good for her, in the long run.

She doesn’t accept that truth yet, consciously. But it is true.

She takes the hand that is offering, and is helped up onto the stone. She sits down, crossing her legs Indian-style facing Lukas. Of course she can feel it…the pull, the rumbling. The strength that flows. She smiles a little bit, not having been quite this close but showing some degree of understanding, on an instinctual level as well as an intellectual.

“I do.” She takes a slow breath in, and then out. She’s a wee bit awkward in that she doesn’t know what is quite appropriate. Instinct doesn’t guide her here, so she’s playing it by ear a bit.

[Wyrmbreaker] Ahrouns are by nature the very antithesis of subtle: boastful, menacing creatures, all swagger and violence. Shadow Lords are, in contrast, creatures of subtlety. Creatures who, at their worst, understand and manipulate the deepest flaws of those around them for their own gain — creatures who, at their best, understand that no war is won without sacrifice, and someone always has to pay in the end.

The Ahrouns of Thunder, then, are an odd breed. Not so blunt as your average Ahroun. Not so subtle as your average Shadow Lord. Some strange nomansland in between, then, with almost unequaled capacity for extremes. Extreme violence. Extreme depravity. Extreme monstrosity. Extreme, bitter, hard heroism.

It’s impossible to say where Lukas will fall on that spectrum when all is said and done. When it’s not his living, breathing body at the head of his pack but his name on a memory-stone, his story passed down to cubs as an example — or a warning — or simply left to the dust of time, forgotten. For the moment, though, for the now and for all the time he’s existed as a member of the Garou Nation, Lukas has tried to be a good man; a good wolf. Not always a kind one. Not always a nice one. But good.

Digression. The point is: the Ahrouns of Thunder are a subtler breed. And that uncertainty in Sarita is picked up by her would-be Alpha. He tilts his head, an animal gesture, and then smiles. A human gesture.

“Relax,” he says. “There’s no right or wrong here. This isn’t a test.”

Katherine, not far off: he can feel her again across the totem bond, and his head turns. He raises a hand in greeting, then turns back to Sarita.

“Like any totem of war, Perun teaches us to be strong. Like any totem of war worth a damn, he teaches us to be honorable. But perhaps the most important thing he teaches us is wisdom. Make no mistake — he is a totem of victory, of conquest. He deals harshly with failure. If we accept a challenge, we must win or lose his favor for three days. If we issue a challenge, we must win or lose his favor for a fortnight.

“This makes many Ahrouns of my Tribe believe he teaches us only to crush our enemies. Defeat our foes. Always win at any cost. Never lose for any reason. But that’s not what he’s about, and I wouldn’t follow him if it was. Perun is about picking your battles. Going to war for just cause and consequence. Fighting only when it matters: not only when you can win, but also when you cannot afford to lose. When you believe the risk is worth the gain.

“That’s what we’re about too. Kate, Sinclair, Asha and I — we’re not always nice people. We don’t have much patience for bullshit, and we’ve all been known to bust some heads to get things done. But in the end we’re not here to lord it over our brothers and sisters. We’re not interested in petty squabbles and power plays. We’re not here to pull our Septmates down in order to raise ourselves up.

“We’re here to strengthen our Sept, even if sometimes that means we have to be hardasses and taskmasters. We’re here to fight the War, and we’re fighting to win.”

There’s a pause. Lukas’s hands are still on the stone, as though drawing strength or inspiration from the totem itself. A moment later he continues.

“So that’s us. Now about you, and why I want you to join us: because you’re a good Ragabash, and we haven’t had one for a long time. You know when to question; you know how to question. You know being a Ragabash isn’t the same thing as being an honorless, and that questioning the ways doesn’t mean you have to be a dick about it.

“You’re smart. You see a lot. You’ve probably already seen — ” and there’s a quirk of his mouth here, self-deprecating, ” — that I have the potential to be a stubborn, domineering, arrogant ass. And every last one of us have our flaws and our weaknesses. I want you aboard to help watch our backs. To help keep us from getting too serious, too full of ourselves, too big for our britches.

“And, put simply, because I like you.”

[Sinclair] The shrine to Perun isn’t the only one Sinclair pays homage to. She’s no spirit-talker, and she rarely makes talens though she has the ability, and she doesn’t even consider herself particularly mystical. But loyal: in an utter, absolute way, whether giving or taking. Walking away from Dietrich all that time ago had been unwise in the situation, but it had not been a mark of following only the most flighty whims of her mind. He lost her loyalty when he showed he had none to her. Later, another Silver Fang earned it. Laughs in the Face of Death had her loyalty, even after they were not longer packed. Lost it during the Stone of Scorn right when she showed she had no loyalty to Sinclair. Later, another Ragabash came along.

Is sitting atop Perun’s shrine with Lukas right now. Is earning it, even now. Like last night with video games and talking about Shit and drinking tequila and listening without fucking advising or even trying to comfort her. Just listening, and offering what she could, even if she knew instantly, instinctively that there wasn’t a whole lot she could do.

At the moment, that Galliard who is desperately trying to remain unbroken — even though she is bowed — is serving the totem of her tribe. There aren’t a lot of Glass Walkers here. Mostly it’s the guardians and the Mistress and the Keeper — when they have one — who pay attention to Cockroach. Sinclair likes to bring the insect totem candy, put into dark boxes where the spirits can eat their due while hiding from the bitter light. There’s a small gaffling of Metal on a single wheeled appendage rolling a bit back and forth, eeeing quietly and observing Sinclair’s ‘prayers’ with curiosity.

She finishes, and puts out her hand for Tripoli. He’s tiny right now, not the foot or so he can reach when he manifests. In this size she can carry him in a coat pocket, and that’s where he goes. This is why Sinclair carries a handful of soda can tabs, coins, and a polishing cloth in her pocket — it’s like a blanket for her familiar. It explains why her coat always smells faintly of silver polish.

Striding towards the anvil, Sinclair grabs the edge and vaults herself up onto the top beside Lukas and Sarita with an athleticism that is more strength and speed than delicate grace. It’s more crowded up there now, but she doesn’t mind. She comes in and shares the space with them as companionably as she would if they were all in lupus and burrowing down for a long winter’s night. Her hair is in braids pinned across her crown, very Scandanavian — it doesn’t help the jokes that Sinclair is secretly a Fenrir.

Hell. Maybe a few generations ago, her ancestors were. No more, though. No blood, no breeding, no ancestry. Pure merit. Pure strength and cunning. Pure blue eyes, wheat-blonde hair.

She nuzzles Lukas with her forehead against his jaw, a heavy and animalistic rub, then nudges Sarita with her shoulder, bumping against her with a mingling of familiarity, dominance, and welcome. She looks up when she feels Katherine approaching, eyes fixing on the Philodox when she can see her. She smiles, and settles onto the shrine. She doesn’t speak. Tripoli hangs by the ‘waist’ out of her pocket, waving his long, articulated arms that move like slinkies downward.

“Eee,” he whirrs, as though saying hello to Perun.

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine has been paying homage to her fallen pack-mates; she approaches with her hands tucked into the pockets of her jacket; elbows slightly bent and her long hair unbound, growing out now and falling past her shoulders. She moves slowly toward her pack and toward the singing in her veins and thrumming under her skin of their totemic spirit. She stops short when she’s before it and closes her eyes.

Tips her head; and a tiny smile takes over the edge of her full mouth.

They each of them have their own manners of connecting with this, their God of War; their powerful, potent Shadow Lord spirit. For the Silver Fang among them at least, it is an important moment; bridging the rivalry bred in her bones and breeding toward Perun. Offering herself, and her loyalty to him; especially when returning after a failure — no matter how honorable a one it might have been.

So, she stands with her eyes closed; face lifted to the night sky for several moments before she murmurs.

“Alright, now.”

Opens them; and sights her pack; reaches her hands out to be helped up onto the stone.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens to Lukas talk, oddly quiet and attentive for her. The Latina Strider is generally a fairly attentive person as it is, but she always manages it without seeming so. Here, there is no need for such pretense. She’s always on her guard a little bit against other people…but with them, she’s at least able to lower it. It might not be totally gone, but it’s definitely at the point where she doesn’t rely on her snark as a defense mechanism quite so much. She smiles a little when Lukas tells her to relax, but of course it doesn’t quite help her relax. Funny, how being told to relax doesn’t usually help. But she’s trying.

She listens to the Shadow Lord talk about Perun, about what he is perceived as and what he actually is. A little nod acknowledges that. She knows the wide disparity between perception and truth as well as anyone, and she believes what he says from her expression–calm, listening, learning. She hears him talk about how none of them are perfect–she is not one to talk. She has her issues, to be sure. And then he talks about her, and why they want her. She isn’t one who takes compliments well. That self-defense mechanism always comes up, throwing out some witty reply to deflect, and she struggles to avoid it here.

She doesn’t completely avoid it. When he’s done, she grins a tiny bit. “Well, thanks. S’okay, I don’t mind arrogant and stubborn. I’m bitchy, occasionally co-dependent and I drink too much. We’ll make a great team.”

The grin does recede into something more geniune though. “Seriously…thanks. I…” She takes a breath. “Yeah. I don’t really know what I can add to that. You guys are great, and I feel pretty damn lucky to have gotten the chance. I’ll try not to be too much of a pain…or at least, only a pain in the right ways.”

She looks over when Sinclair shows up, and she smiles. “Hey, you.” Tripoli gets a little sideways tilt of her head and a warm smile. “That’s Tripoli, I imagine? You mentioned him at the bar that night.

And when Kate shows up, she reaches to help her up without so much as thinking about it. “And hey to you too.”

[Warcry] As it was, so it remains: Sinclair has no fallen packmates. Those that Katherine pays respects to were never Sinclair’s brothers or sisters. No member of the Red Bulls has died that she knows of; the Storm Chasers were never more than two. What she’s lost is neither blood nor spirit but heart, and that’s a very different kind of grief. She watches Katherine approach from the Graves and offers a hand to help her up, with Sarita and most likely along with Lukas, then settles back again, making room for the Philodox.

She can sense that Sarita, like her, can lower her guard a bit around them. The reason why various packmates have felt like they ‘fit’ is different for everyone — Asha and Christian, for example, weren’t instantly recognized as good prospects because they seemed like they could relax like this. But it does come, really, for just about everyone. When they are together, and alone, they are a kind of family.

A wry tilt of her mouth, when Sarita claims to be co-dependent and nigh unto alcoholic. It fades a little when she mentions being a pain.

Then: Tripoli, who hears his name and swivels his head around roughly 130 degrees to peer up at Sarita. He lifts one wiggling metallic arm and waves at her with tiny cylindrical fingers. “Eee-ee.

“Yeah,” is all Sinclair says, rubbing one fingertip atop Tripoli’s head like one might scritch a dog. A very, very tiny dog. “Eeeee,” Tripoli murmurs happily, his little blue-glowing eyes dimming faintly with pleasure.

[Wyrmbreaker] Thoughtlessly, hands reach down to grip the ones Katherine reaches up — one pair, two pairs, three pairs reaching out to help the Silver Fang atop the stone. Now there are four of them here, bumping and nudging and greeting each other in subtle, animal ways.

Sarita says she feels lucky to have the chance. Lukas’s grin is quick and wry. “Don’t sell yourself too short now,” he says. “We’re lucky to have met each other, is all.”

He holds his hand out to Tripoli then, letting the little gaffling grip his fingers with its tiny slinkied arms. Lifting him out of Sinclair’s pocket, he sets the metal elemental atop Perun’s shrine, letting him wheel free amongst the four wolves gathered, every one of them so much larger than him.

“He’s getting stronger,” Lukas observes. Then his attention turns briefly to Kate, bumping her with his shoulder. “How’re you?”

[Honor’s Compass] Hands reach out, and clasp about the Silver Fang’s wrists, her hands and bring her up onto the stone’s surface proper. Katherine greets her brother and sisters; old and new with a sweep of genteel hands over shoulders; brushing against shoulders. She sits herself elegantly; poised with her weight propped on one palm and her booted feet tucked up beside her.

Fair hair sweeps her shoulder; catches over the buttons on her pink jacket as Lukas bumps her gently; asks after her and gets a blond eyebrow rising on its lonesome; the curve of her mouth in that challenging; inviting smile; the gleam of her pale eyes as she regards him with much of her former regal glory restored.

It is easy, it is easy to see why those who do not know her, think her nothing more than an arrogant Silver Fang with those looks, and that habit she has of smiling with her eyes as if she dared to mock even an Adren of another tribe; her own Alpha.

Très bien, Lukas. Of course.” A shoulder lifts easily; absently. “I do not easily stay defeated, you of all people know this, hm.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She gives a little shrug when Lukas say they’re lucky to have met each other. Feelings of inadequacy? Maybe a little bit. Maybe she just realizes that it’s not every day a just-arrived-in-town Cliath gets a shot with a pack consisting of two major office-holders in the sept. Either way, she isn’t exactly rolling over or anything. Just that casual shrug.

She grins at Tripoli, head tilting to the right. A little wave of her index finger is given, and then she leans back, falling silent for a moment as Kate and Lukas speak. She feels more relaxed in the presence of others. More relaxed in general, today.

[Warcry] Tripoli does, in fact, grab on to Lukas’s finger when his hand is extended. He stretches his arms out as that large male hand lifts, eee ing, but he does not lift out of Sinclair’s pocket. Sinclair glances down, lifting an eyebrow as Tripoli’s arms stretch and retract a couple of times before he swings up out of her coat and dangles, wheeled lower appendage waving a bit over Perun’s stone. Lowered down to the totem’s shrine, he rocks back and forth a couple of times on top of it, then zips back to Sinclair.

It’s just a shrine. But Perun is a totem, a sort of god. And Tripoli, stronger though he may be, is just a small gaffling. Sinclair helps him back onto her lap, and he settles there. She takes a ball of tinfoil out of her other pocket hands it to him. Tripoli, pleased, unwraps it — noisily — and wraps it around himself like a blanket. Or a cape.

Sinclair, quiet tonight — quiet a lot of nights, lately — glances over at Sarita. “You know,” she says thoughtfully, her voice low since they’re all so close together, “for a long while now, even when we had Iona in the pack, especially when we had Edward in the pack, I’ve felt like the role of questioner has fallen to me. In a way it’s been in my purview, to an extent — Galliards are teachers. We remember the past so that we can all learn from past mistakes and victories.” She muses, and quiets, then speaks again: “And when Lukas invited me to the Unbroken, part of the reason was because what I could offer, they lacked. So sure of themselves and their carefully thought out plans, these Fangs and Lords,” she teases gently, casting a glance at the two others before returning her gaze to Sarita.

“We’ve all changed, yeah, but there are still times when there’s been no one else to say ‘hey Lukas, stop futzing around because you’re not sure you’re ready to challenge’ or ‘hey Kate, do you think this person would make a good addition to the pack because they fit or because they hold a sept office and you’ve got a power fetish’ or whatever else might need to be said.” She tips her head. “To tell the truth, those are the sort of things a No Moon should be saying to her packmates. Shaking them up. Pushing them to look more closely at themselves. And I’ve done it because every Ragabash I’ve seen in this pack has been worthless at that part of the job.”

She shrugs. “Sarita, I fell under the sway of the Wyrm twice. I have two failed packs behind me, one that failed because I would neither submit nor lead and just walked away. There’s a worthy Garou in the Graves because my will wasn’t enough to resist possession. I bore the Stone of Scorn. You being kinda bitchy, co-dependent, new to town and a Cliath should not stop you from acting like you’ve been in this pack all your life once you’ve been accepted into it — which you have been. Believe me, you’re not ‘lucky’ to have a chance, and we’re not ‘lucky’ to have met you — sorry, Lukas. You wouldn’t be sitting on our fucking totem’s shrine if luck had fuckall to do with this decision. If you’re intimidated by us, if you confuse insecurity for respect and admiration, if you’re unsure of yourself and hold back because of it, if you apologize for being a ‘pain’, then we will lose our respect for you and you won’t be able to do your job for us.”

She says all this plainly, without assumption that this is already the case, without sounding as though she thinks this is Sarita’s mindset. She leans against the Strider for a moment, then relents. “Just remember that. You chose us as much as we’ve chosen you, and that means that we earned you as much as the other way around. And we all see the reasons why, and feel the rightness of it.” She opens her mouth and bites, as she might if she were in lupus, onto Sarita’s coat-covered shoulder, a clench before she lets go. “If I sense weakness in you, I will eat you. Om nom nom.”

[Wyrmbreaker] Lukas gives another faint huff of a laugh as Sinclair just flat-out contradicts him. There aren’t many wolves in the Sept that’ll do that. The fact that Sinclair will, and does — that’s why she’s in the pack.

Which is, in a sense, what she’s telling Sarita, too. So Lukas listens, quiet, rubbing the pad of his thumb thoughtlessly over the totem’s shrine.

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine closes her eyes a little at power fetish; something like a cat deciding whether its been needled into swiping or not. She has no tail to swish; but her mane of hair does get flung over a shoulder with a little huff of air. The Silver Fang, who enjoys depositing gifts on the little gaffling currently resplendent in tinfoil on Sinclair’s lap takes one of her hair-clips from her sleeve; where she’d pinned it earlier so as not to misplace it and hands it to the spirit to wield like a sword.

“Unbroken is as much a name as any other pack’s is,” the Half Moon says quietly; thoughtful. “But it’s also within us; that sentiment; that strength. We all balance the best and worst of ourselves, become one another’s axis, when needs be.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks ready to back off her statement when Sinclair gently takes her to task for selling herself short, but instead she just stops herself and listens. A little smile hits her face, and she nods. The smile has that Sarita-sense to it, but it is clear that she’s listening and hearing Sinclair. That’s an important distinction…the two don’t always go hand in hand.

Then the Glass Walker follows it up with nomming, and she chuckles. She lets out a sigh and nods. “I was…trying to be funny, mostly. Believe me, it’s not being intimidated. And the last thing I ever would ever find myself doing is hold back.”

She pauses, as if she has to think about it. “It’s more…being on the outside looking in for years. Travelling around, sept to sept. It’s just kind of the way. So it feels like I got to the theater late for The Dark Knights and managed to cut in line to the front.” A little grin. Yes, that ‘s” on the end of the Batman title was intentional. “Don’t mean I’m not setting my ass in the stadium seating with the bad-ass drink holders and the perfect view of the screen without a bit of regret.

She listens to Kate then talk about the Unbroken as a quality as well as a name, and she nods. She doesn’t have a lot to say specifically about that, and she really doesn’t need to. Her expression has more than enough understanding and acceptance of it.

[Warcry] There’s a point there. Longwinded though she can be — Galliard and all, natch — that one comment alone may have driven it home. Lukas says they were all just lucky. The fact that Sinclair even apologizes to him for saying he’s outright wrong is unusual. Normally she’d just contradict him without drawing attention to the fact that what she’s saying is different. It’s almost a fond in-joke, to say that sorry, Lukas.

Because the truth is, if Sarita apologizes every time she tells Lukas or Kate or Sinclair or Asha that they’re wrong, or being a dumbass, or when she comes along to kick them in the ass, then Sinclair’s joke about losing all respect and deciding to eat Sarita won’t be so funny anymore. She’s never hesitated in the past to rip her packmates to literal shreds for weakness, for perceived weakness, for not learning their damn lesson.

In the end, though, that’s not her job, either. She isn’t supposed to be disciplinarian. She isn’t supposed to be their judge or their questioner or their protector or their voice of wisdom. She’s a Galliard.

With a little gaffling elemental of Metal who is now brandishing a hairclip like a blade, zooming off of Sinclair’s lap and challenging Lukas to a duel atop the shrine of a totem who is — some might say — a very sore loser.

Sinclair, however, is letting him play while she listens to Sarita. She nods. “You know, I went about six months before I managed to see the Dark Knight. By that time everyone had flipped out over ‘the pencil scene’ so much that when I finally saw it I was like ‘that’s it?” She shakes her head. “That sucked.”

[Wyrmbreaker] Lukas peers at the little elemental with some perplexion. Then he reaches down and gently takes the hairclip-sword from him — doubtlessly to many eees of dismay and protest — and straightens it carefully before handing it back.

Then he picks a twig off the top of Perun’s shrine and, half-absently, one ear on his packmates, engages in a miniduel with Tripoli.

“I didn’t hear about the ‘pencil scene’ at all,” he says. “So when I saw it, I was appropriately awed — ow!” Lukas snatches back his hand, jabbed soundly by the gaffling. “What I get for not paying attention.

“Anyway,” saluting Tripoli with his twig before setting it aside to level his gaze on the Ragabash, “I’ve said all I wanted to. Kate? Sinclair? Sarita? Any final thoughts before we make this formal?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins at that. “Oh, the pencil scene was good, but that was nothing compared to Joker and Two-Face in the hospital. That was THE speech. And then the shot of him outside as it’s blowing up…” Yeah, she isn’t a pop culture junkie just ’cause it’s funny. “Sucks that you had it hyped so much that it was a let-down, though. That always sucks.”

She lets the thought fade away, looking around at the others before looking at Lukas. She almost feels like she should say something, but she doesn’t have anything to add at this moment. “No. I said my bit.”

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine laughs when Tripoli stabs the Adren Shadow Lord with his little hairclip sword; and tickles the gaffling with the tip of a finger; frowning in silent consideration of his question. She turns, and looks Sarita over carefully; then her eyes flick to Sinclair and finally return to Lukas.

“I think that Christian Bale would make an excellent Silver Fang.” A beat; she gleams with mischief. “But on the topic of this, no. I welcome my new sister with sincere joy.”

[Warcry] Tripoli does not speak English. Nor do any of the Unbroken speak spirit. They interpret his Eeeing however they will — Sinclair has quite an instinct for it, but then… she would. Perhaps Lukas, however, can look at him and hear Eeee eeee! as the battle begins, and know that Tripoli is basically hollering HAVE AT THEE, SCOUNDREL! They clash.

The hairpin stabs Lukas when he’s talking about Batman movies and Tripoli spins around, attacking with more fervor now that he has found his opponent’s weakness.

Unfortunately for him, Lukas sets his twig down with a salute, and Tripoli is too honorable to attack an unarmed foe. Slumping over a bit in disappointment, he goes over to the twig. Peers at it. Nudges it with the hairpin. Flicks it off the shrine as though it simply does not belong there. He is rewarded with tickles from a Fang. Tripoli eees softly, and swats gently at Katherine, batting her hand with his tiny metal four-fingered one.

Meanwhile, Sinclair is shrugging. “I think it’s always been obvious that Bruce Wayne is a Silver Fang, Batman is a Shadow Lord, and Christian Bale is just crazy Jesus-hair man.”

She glances up from watching her gaffling. “Though dude, I’m just waiting for you guys to ask Perun to strike Sarita with lightning or something, let’s get this shit done already. She’s already been pack for ages now.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Aw man…I knew I should have gone with rubber soles and not the steel-toed.” She grins at that. Doesn’t stop her from throwing a quick glance at the sky to see if light is about to flash.

“Seriously though, should I take my boots off? That I don’t need my socks melting to my feet.”

[Wyrmbreaker] “Bale would make an excellent Fang,” Lukas agrees drolly. “He’s certainly insane enough and egotistical enough.” Then he smirks.

And then the smirk fades, and Lukas laughs a little at Sinclair, a little at Sarita. “No,” he says, amused. “You don’t need to take your shoes off.”

He’s serious, then, when he rolls his shoulders, straightens his back, and looks back at Sarita.

“Let it be done,” he says. There’s formality in this, a sentence that’s not so much statement as declarative, as invocation. And there’s no lightning, no thunderbolt literally melting the shoes off Sarita’s feet. Just Wyrmbreaker’s large, warm hand stretching forward, cupping around her neck. Establishing a bond in the simplest, most literal sense. “From this moment onward, from this place here on Perun’s stone, under Perun’s sky, until you die or choose to dissolve the bond — you’re our sister. You belong to Perun. You belong with us.”

The truth is, every member of this pack has joined differently. Kate and Lukas, from the beginning, chasing down the storm-god, petitioning him with sacrifices of blood and glory and honor. Sinclair, after a battle, after a tough and challenging conversation full of hard questions. Asha, much the same way, forswearing the company and alphaship of her own tribesmate to choose them. Christian, here and now gone, joined roughly and spontaneously in immediate, rage-singed aftermath of battle.

And now Sarita: calmly, almost casually, here in the heart of the caern, atop the totem shrine. Surrounded by the latent, implacable power of the totem.

“You’ll feel the bond soon enough,” Lukas continues, quieter, “when Perun forges it. It comes on all of us differently. I think,” a wry glance at Kate, “Katherine and I actually got struck by lightning. Iona told me once it came on overnight; she didn’t have it when she slept, and when she woke it felt she’d always been connected to us. I can’t say for certain how it’ll come to you, but when it does — you’ll know.”

[Warcry] Sinclair smiles faintly. Remembers the night she joined. Katherine dealing with Gabriella, Sinclair telling her in no uncertain terms what she thought of the girl. Sinclair asking for advice about Thomas. All of them wishing that Sheridan hadn’t died. It was a long time ago. Nearly a year and a half now that she’s been a part of this pack.

“I told you guys about a storm I remembered from growing up in Kansas,” she says. Her eyes move to Lukas. “He came while you taught me how to make Storm Feathers.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She takes a slow breath in, lets it out slowly. She is quiet a moment, then gives a little nod and smile. “Well, you’ll know as soon as I do. Obviously.”

She leans back a little bit, running a hand through her hair. And she falls quiet to look over and listen to Sinclair.

[Honor’s Compass] Katherine straightens when Lukas reaches over to touch Sarita’s neck.

She reaches out, idly, deliberately really, to touch Sinclair’s shoulder, then leans a little and sets her other palm on her Alpha’s. She remains that way; silent; all silvery and white and golden beneath the gentle play of moonlight with her pack, embracing another sister. When it’s done; when he tells her she’ll feel it.

Katherine smiles; and says with a little gurgle of laughter, her own brand of delight. “Oh yes, my hair was smoking and a total ruin for days. But in the moment,” she breathes in, out, with relish. “It was pure exhilaration. My body filling with great power, and the sense of purpose, renewed.

That is Perun for me.” She brushes fingers over the flat stone, fondly. Reverently.

[Wyrmbreaker] As a pack, the Unbroken is — if one is honest — a rather civilized group of wolves. At the very least, they can maintain that front. Kate and her high society life. Lukas and his investment accounts, his attention to dress and detail, his car, his cafes, his dinners and hotels. Even Sinclair, easily the most feral of them all, is so seamlessly plugged into her digital world that one can scarcely imagine her without it.

Yet at the same time, there’s a side to them, rarely glimpsed from the outside, that’s deeply and profoundly intuitive. Animal. They touch each other frequently, unlasciviously but fondly, unashamedly. As Lukas’s hand drops from Sarita’s neck, he leans into Sinclair, rubbing his temple against her cheek in a single, lupine push. Then he laughs, plants his hand on the edge of the stone — twists and leaps down, landing softly on the hard-packed ground below. “Okay,” he calls up, “enough talking. Let’s run. Race you guys to the Loft for sandwiches? Last one there has to load the dishwasher!”

Scarcely are the words out of his mouth before Lukas is hitting the ground, blackfurred and four-legged, off like a shot.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] A wide, Cheshire-style grin, and Sarita is suddenly a jackal, chasing after.

[Wyrmbreaker] [thanks for the RP, guys!]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[Thank you too!]]

Matters of a Tribal and of a Deeply Personal Nature (aka: Of Tequlia and Captain America’s Nuts)

[Sinclair] Since that night poolside, Sinclair’s been… well. As quiet as Katherine and Lukas are getting used to her being. As quiet as Sarita might be getting used to. It’s going to be awhile before — even if a solid decision is made on the Strider’s part — they can speak to Perun and ask for her acceptance. When it was Theron who failed a challenge he issued, Sinclair beat him into a bloody pulp. Theron’s challenge was foolhardy. Theron’s challenge was thoughtless.

When Sinclair has seen Katherine around the Loft, she’s been nothing but quietly supportive, without probing. They haven’t had time to sit down and get the story straight. Sinclair wants it while its fresh, honestly, but she’s willing to be patient. In ways she never was last year, she can be patient now.

Right now, she’s upstairs in the rumpus room, cushioned into a bean bag chair, playing MarioKart.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The Strider…well, to put it succinctly, Sarita’s had a rough day. She woke up this morning, feeling like she had bonded with Amy’s new friends, and she found someone missing. A trip to the Brotherhood had revealed that the missing person wasn’t just missing…she’s gone. That has not sat well with the Ragabash, and she couldn’t stay at the Brotherhood. Too many people there, and even though she’s not a creature of Rage at the level of most, she is still Garou, and it is her moon to boot. She couldn’t deal with all the people, their voices and what she knew they said behind her back about her family. It was just…too much for her.

So she headed to the Loft. She used the key that Kate had provided, and after a brief conversation with Lucille–no more than a “Hello”–she heads up to the room she’d gotten permission for her and Amy to use. For her to use, she corrects herself. Gotta remember that now. She’s got a little bag with her, a bottle of tequila. She heads quietly up the stairs, pausing when she sees Sinclair. She looks tired…very tired. The Walker gets a tiny smile. Now’s a good time, I suppose.

“Hey.” She heads in that direction, nodding to her potential packmate-to-be. “S’up?”

[Sinclair] They’re treating her like pack already. She’s not the first non-packmate to room at the Loft, to be sure — Sinclair herself stays now in what used to be the room of a Silver Fang Ahroun — but it shows in other ways. A certain comfort and honesty. Lukas was told and promptly forgot about another pack that was courting Sarita, or inviting her. Sinclair hasn’t the faintest clue that Sarita was spoken to by at least two other packs before the Unbroken talked to her. Frankly, she could not give less of a fuck. She’d say something like bitch, a promise ring ain’t married or poaching is for elephants and eggs, get over it.

More than likely, though, what she’d really say is it’s Sarita’s choice.

So far, Sarita hasn’t had the chance to see Sinclair truly at her worst. Right now the Galliard seems fine, no more glowing or weakened by the phase of the moon than on most nights. She lolls her head back on the bean bag and looks over at the stairs, pausing her game when she sees who it is. “N’much,” she slurs, shrugging. “Whaaadup wichoo?” she adds, continuing the laziness of speech.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Careful, chica.” She chuckles a little, though it’s a bit lacking in its usual mirth. “You may not realize it, but you’re aiming a loaded question there. Fourty-four cal.” She moves over and plops down on the on the floor, watching Sinclair play a little.

“Amy’s taken off for a while. She’s got some shit to take care of elsewhere.” The bottle hasn’t been opened; she was planning on just quietly drinking it in her room. She’s not going to break into it yet. She’s not exactly here for a pity party. “So I’m sorta flying with you guys solo for the foreseeable future.”

[Sinclair] To that, Sinclair just shrugs. She’s paused the game, and doesn’t turn it back on right away when Sarita heads over. She leans over, sniffing at the bag and then glancing at the Ragabash without mentioning what she’s pretty sure she’s smelling even through the glass.

She’s quiet to that at first. “Oh yeah, you seem totally fine with that,” she says with mild sarcasm, unpausing the game and zipping along the Rainbow Road some more.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ha ha.” She looks at Sinclair and smiles, just faintly. “I’m not. But I’m not running down the street screaming or chasing after her, either like I thought I would. That’s something.”

She takes a breath, watching the game and then looking at Sinclair. “I do kinda need to talk with you about something, though, so this is good kismet. Has to do with one of your tribemates, and I figured you’d be as good to talk to as anyone.”

[Sinclair] Her eyebrows flick up, but she doesn’t take her eyes off the screen. You ever played the Rainbow Road? Even Sinclair has to pay attention to what she’s doing lest Yoshi go careening off into space to die a spinning virtual non-death. Can’t have that. She looks like she might say something, but her eyebrows lower and she keeps it to herself.

She wins the race without answering anything else Sarita puts forth — that they need to talk or whatever. When that’s done, though, and Yoshi is puttering along on his victory lap, she turns and the bean bag chair swishes and she meets Sarita’s eyes. “Who?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Leon Davenport. He’s the Beta of Harrier’s Grace.” She takes a breath. “I was figuring on talking with Matthieu about it, but someone else with an opinion on the matter suggested tribe before pack. And frankly, I haven’t gotten involved in a city long enough to trust my judgment of where to go over someone else’s, so…”

She shrugs a bit, as if to say ‘there you have it.’ “It’s a potential disciplinary matter, so if I should talk with Matthieu instead, let me know. Lots of places do things a bit differently.”

[Sinclair] “Oh, I remember him,” Sinclair says, as she hears the name. She doesn’t sound impressed, but nor does she sound instantly venomous. She leans up and crawls over to the game, turning it off and then giving Sarita her full attention — no cartoons chirping away in the background. “Tell me what’s up, and I’ll let you know whose problem it is.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Well…here’s the thing.’ She turns to face Sinclair, legs crossing, The bottle is kept away from her for now. “It’s story time. Amy was briefly involved with Leon. Leon was interested, he pursued, she accepted. The reason it was ‘briefly’ is because they were kind of poison together. Amy’s not used to being with one person, so she…well. There was infidelity. They weren’t mated, they were just seeing each other, obviously.”

She frowns, running her hand through her hair. Her face darkens a little. “It ended because when Leon found out, he shifted and hit her. Hard enough to give her a concussion. I came in on the end of it, after Leon was back to normal and stalking away talking about how they were done.”

[Sinclair] For what it’s worth, Sinclair listens to story time like one would hope a Galliard of her rank would. She listens without much expression, without interruption, without noisemaking. She listens without judgement — most of all of Sarita, of course, but there doesn’t seem to be any for Leon or for Amy, either. And after Sarita is done, it’s a little while before she says anything.

Rather than spouting off a called it as far as Leon is concerned, or even focusing on Amy, Sinclair does exactly what she told Sarita she would: she starts working on whose problem this is.

“All questions of whether or not Amy was ‘unfaithful’ or if he even had a right to be pissed or how they communicated about their ‘involvement’ are mortal questions and mostly just drama-whoring questions anyway. Whether your permission was sought before or during or after the hooking up is… well, that’s really up to you to figure out how you want to deal with it now and in the future. The bottom line is that Leon never challenged for your sister. Strictly and lawfully speaking, anything and everything he did with her was at your indulgence. Because — from the sound of things — he probably didn’t even make sure you were cool with him having sex with your kin, you could feasibly rake him over the coals for that, too.

“The fact that he hit her at all needs to be answered for. In my opinion, the fact that he shifted to do so is something he needs to be punished harshly for.” A beat. “Leon is packed, though. He has an Alpha he has to answer to. I don’t know much about Mirror’s Whisper, but he’s a Silver Fang — you could always ask him what he’d do if it was one of his Kin. You have the right to demand discipline for Hostile Takeover’s actions — so go to Matthieu and demand it. And if he refuses you, or if their answer does not satisfy you, then drag them before the Philodox Elder.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens quietly. It isn’t often that you’ll catch Sarita without a smile on her face, unless she’s really livid or she’s really upset. Right now, she can’t really be described as either. She’s perhaps a little numb over the fact that her sister is gone, but she’s had her cry early. She’ll get over it, and she’ll move on. Instead, she is simply…observant. Listening to Sinclair for her honest advice, and nodding when she gives it.

“Thanks.” She nods again, as if reaffirming it in her mind. “You pretty much said what I thought. No, he didn’t ask me explicitly beforehand, though I assume that he spoke with Amy, who knew I was okay with them being involved. Semantics, I suppose. I’m not going to go after him for sleeping with her, though. That would be hypocritical of me, since I’ve never had a problem with her being with who she wanted before. It would just be piling on another charge because I was angry about the one.”

If she considers it wrong that Amy’s been around the block a time or two, she doesn’t show it. That’s life in the road, after all. “The other, yeah. I didn’t pursue it right away, this was a couple of weeks ago. I was more concerned about Amy and her physical and emotional well-being than punishing Leon. But someone reminded me I was doing an injustice to the next person he might do it to, so…” She smiles a bit.

“Thanks, chica. I appreciate the advice. All this being settled down in a city shit is something I’m still getting the hang of.”

[Sinclair] Strangely, the first thing Sarita says makes Sinclair smile — albeit with a touch of wryness, not quite bitter but not quite far enough off to rule it out. There’s genuine pleasure in it, though, however dim such things are in the Galliard lately.

She frowns though, wincing a bit, to hear that this all happened a couple of weeks ago. “You’ll want to have a good answer ready for why you didn’t immediately seek justice. Right or wrong, if Leon or Matthieu try to weasel him out of trouble for this, that question will come up. Wanting to take care of Amy the way you did might be great and all, but even I might have told you that it was your job to defend and protect her first, and quickly, as soon as you knew she wasn’t, like… dying or something. So… just be prepared to answer on that if it comes up.”

A beat. “And you’re welcome. And good luck.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods when Sinclair says that waiting might come back to bite her in the ass. She knew that was a possibility. She’s been kicking herself, subconsciously, for not doing it ever since it happened. It’s only now someone had brought it to the conscious part of her mind that she recognizes it. “Thanks.”

Business over with, she leans back a bit, resting her hands on the floor. “So ugly shit done with…what’s new with you?”

[Sinclair] “Heh,” is what Sinclair says to that at first. She leans back in the bean bag chair, and is quiet a few moments. It takes her time to decide what she wants to say, if she watns to say it. If she wants to be honest or not. Finally she shakes her head, looking at her hands. “Nothing new. Same old shit as every other day.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Her brow furrows a little bit. She remembers the night, just over a week ago, when she first visited the loft. She doesn’t understand what triggered that change then, and she doesn’t expect to. Not any time soon. If Lukas and Katherine, her legitimate and official packmates, are not at a spot where they can seem to help, then Sarita probably has about a snowball’s chance in the midst of a roaring napalm fire of doing something. The Strider knows this.

That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care.

The look of empathy is in Sarita’s eyes. She’s a bit numb herself right now, but she always pushes by that. Not the first time. When she’s in need, her own thoughts come second. She nods a little bit to Sinclair, smiling just the tiniest bit with a touch of wryness to her lips.

“Yeah. I know those words well.” A beat. “Ain’t always a good thing, though.”

It’s an invitation, if Sinclair wishes to speak. If she doesn’t, there’s no apparently expectation for her to, in Sarita’s tone of voice, her stance, her face.

[Sinclair] The lack of expectation is nice. The lack of question, too. Sinclair doesn’t resent her packmates’ concern, their willingness to offer comfort even when she seems like a bottomless well of need for it, unfillable by any embrace or word of care. She could unload on Sarita, tell her everything, but the truth is, she doesn’t really need to do so. Telling another person that she’s been bleeding to death inside for months now isn’t going to staunch the wound. She doesn’t even know, though one day she will, that it’s not just that it’s deep — it is — but it’s infected.

Across the inside of her left forearm are now inscribed the words: what you can[/i]. Along the inside of her right: [b]when you can. There are rings in her ears and tiny colored beads and a miniscule metal feather and she’s wearing a pair of blue and green girl-boxers that reveal the viper on her right thigh. This close, Sarita might be able to tell that that cuff tattoo on her left ankle, dark blue, is filled with stylized, overlapping palm leaves interspersed with dark stars creating certain constellations as though they’re shining down through the leaves. There are words in that tattoo, weaving through the leavse and stars. She can spot words like corpo entender and mas as almas, but just enough to know: it isn’t Spanish.

Sinclair is not a Corporate Wolf, like Leon. Nor a City Farmer, like Owen. She’s an urban predator, a primitive sort of beast covered in ink and metal and even her own raw, broken-beautiful back piece of scarification, as though the beauty itself had to be a wound cut into her. She is also a Galliard. Some of her stories she wears in and on her own body.

What she does tell Sarita is this: “If you’re seriously considering joining us, and I think you’re right on the verge of calling it a sure thing,” never one to mince words, “then I want you to know a few things about me.” She’s serious. Not apologetic, though. “The night of the solstice, when there was an eclipse, we all lost the wolf. No rage, no shift. I could hear my packmates through Perun’s bond at first, but then even that went away. I have a spirit familiar; I could not find him or call to him. We couldn’t step sideways. There was panic. And then, later on, a spirit that claimed to be a direct servant of Gaia, it called to us. It seemed to be offering us a way back to ourselves as we were before.

“I refused it,” Sinclair says, again without shame. Without even, from the sound of things, regret. “I didn’t know if refusing to go meant I’d lose the wolf forever, but to tell you the truth, a large part of me hoped so.” A pause. “Tell the truth, a lot of it was just about rebellion and anger and resentment and a bunch of stuff I honestly don’t want to try and go over again. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t felt that way could quite get what I was going through that night, why I pushed back the way I did.”

She takes a breath, lets it out in one heavy exhale. “Sarita, I’m working pretty damn hard these days to just not slip into harano. I sleep like the dead on a good day; lately I’m sleeping fourteen, sixteen hours a day sometimes just because I can’t get out of bed. Just because I don’t want to be awake, dealing with life.” Her pale eyes, a different sort of blue than Lukas’s or Kate’s, less piercing, strangely soft for such a hard-seeming creature, flick away and then back to Sarita. “When I am awake, when I do manage to get up and deal with it all, I work my ass off. I do. I do my guard duty, I deal with tribal issues, I work with my pack, I get shit done. But I’m a wreck. And when I stop moving for ten seconds or someone says something or whatever it’ll all just open up again and I feel like, yeah, man, collapsing into a pile of sad seems like a great idea, I’ll just do that.”

Finally Sinclair shrugs. “You should know that. I’m not at my best. I haven’t been at my best for close to a year now. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I keep walking anyway, but sometimes I just. Can’t.”

[Sinclair] [fuck you, formatting]

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens quietly, her brow furrowing. The last thing that many people want to do when they’ve been dealing with depression for long periods of time is see looks of concern. It is a reminder for those people that they are something…less than alright, and all it does is make them bitter, or make the pain worse. Possibly both. What Sinclair is describing…that’s worse than depression. It’s entirely conceivable, to Sarita, that a look of empathy, of worry or concern, could be precisely the wrong thing to do.

But Sarita, who is normally very good at hiding her emotions if she needs to, is not in a very good position to do so. And she can’t help but soften the look in her face around the edges, eyes gaining a measure of sorrow as Sinclair describes the emptiness that she’s feeling. Sarita wouldn’t wish a feeling like that on anyone. Not Leon, a man who she’s been tempted to find and rip the jawbone off for use as a door handle to the gates of hell. For a friend and to-be packmate to feel it…she sighs a little, and nods.

“I’m sorry that you’re going through that. And I’m sure you know this, and I may not be able to. But I don’t take anything for granted if I can avoid it, and so if there is anything…all you ever need to do is ask. Whether it’s just hanging out on a rougher day than normal, all the way up to…literally, fuckin’ anything. Including fucking off and leaving you alone, if you need it.” She smiles faintly. “I’ve been told I can be a pain in the ass, sometimes. And if you need someone to be a pain in the ass, too. I’m your PITA.”

She doesn’t have any great, wise philosophical words of wisdom. She’s not a swami or the Buddha or some shit like that. She’s just a street-smart Strider who can drive people nuts with the best of them, and so she offers what she can.

[Sinclair] That’s all there is to it. Maybe what happened the night of the solstice had roots in other nights, other winters. Sinclair doesn’t go into the Whys and What Fors, and Sarita — unlike so many — doesn’t ask. Sinclair focuses on the fact that here, right now, she’s been standing on a cliff staring down at the rocks for awhile and if Sarita wants to join the Unbroken, she’s signing up for that, too. Right alongside Lukas and Katherine and Asha. She’s signing up for some Silver Fang Ahroun named Christian coming back one day, maybe, if he hasn’t died yet. She’s signing up for running with two of the most powerful wolves in the sept in terms of the offices they hold and the duties they’re responsible for.

And, y’know, this: MarioKart and tequila on Wednesday nights with a depressed Galliard and an avoidant housekeeper.

“Thanks, Sarita,” Sinclair says quietly, and the appreciation isn’t overblown but it is deeply genuine. She glances at the paper bag the Strider has, then back up to Sarita’s eyes. “Y’know… I’m pretty good at leaving people alone when they wanna be left alone. So if you wanna go to your room and drink yourself to sleep I’m not gonna stop you. But you could also just hang out in here and drink it and watch me play Marvel vs. Capcom 3, too. Or you could share.” A beat. “I mean, I’m gonna play Marvel vs. Capcom 3 no matter what you do, but I figured I’d let you know you don’t have to go off alone unless you’re really just dying to do so.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She smiles a bit. She knows that she’s not just signing up for nights at dance clubs and playing around the pool. Hell, Sarita’s got her own damage, and they’ll likely see it. Especially with her sister gone, the one thing she thought she had left of some sort of semblance of her old life. Even if Amy isn’t part of her old life, it’s blood and…yeah. That’s how it works inside the jackal-girl’s head.

Regardless, they will see it. She’ll need them as much as they need her. Despite some setbacks in her own life, she’s found people she likes…who like her. It doesn’t make the pain of what she’s going through with Amy any less. It’s less than she thought it would be…now at least…but it’s still there. The fact that it’s less may be because she doesn’t feel quite as alone. as she felt. And she couldn’t be more committed to the idea of being with them.

So she smiles, and she nods. She scoots a little closer to the couch, and she opens the bottle. “You gotta share my cooties if you want any,” she says. “I didn’t bring a glass. And if you can time it just right so that one of your peeps hits Captain America right in the nuts, you officially become my favoritest person of the night. Of the week if it’s Jill Valentine doing it.”

[Sinclair] One of these days Sarita might sit down and talk to Katherine and find out what she went through with her own family. Sinclair’s the Galliard of the pack; she could tell Sarita about the night Kate broke down after sending Gabbie away.

And there’s Lukas, who doesn’t talk about these things much, but who might understand some measure of that line drawn between Old Life and This Life and how blood works into all of that.

Sinclair, who didn’t see her parents for almost half a decade because of what she became. Who lost something perhaps even more profound than blood awhile ago, and for whom no amount of tequila is going to help.

They like her and she likes them and they’re going to see the worst of her. Sarita will be here on nights when the moon wanes and Sinclair does, too, see the way the Alpha and the Philodox of the pack both seem to gather closer to her during those nights, protective even though Sinclair when she’s feeling sick is more dangerous than most of the sept is at their strongest. She might be there some day when Lukas frenzies. She might be there when Katherine’s eyes gleam with madness.

“I won’t have much,” Sinclair says, though not like Sarita’s implying she would. “Apparently alcohol makes sad people sadder. Who knew.” She crawls forward to switch to the Xbox and boot up the game before settling back into her bean bag chair at the base of the couch. “Also: challenge accepted.”

And later, Sinclair will credit her ability to get Captain America kicked in the nuts to whatever magic juice Sarita has in that bag. Because it’s gonna happen. Tequila will help.

First Time At The Loft

[Cold Victory] The hour is late, but not so much for them. An unlikely sight: Lukas, not swimming determined laps up and down Kate’s pool but floating on one of her loungers, feet and hands trailing in the water, eyes on the stars dimly visible through the pool room’s glass ceiling.

He’s turned off the artificial birdsong in here. There’s only the faint hum of pool filters and pumps, the quiet lapping of water against the tile.

[Brutal Revelation] Nobody seems to really dig the birdsong as much as Katherine does. When Sinclair’s swimming alone she turns it off. When they’re all hanging out together she argues for music instead of pretending they’re on an island somewhere. Katherine calls the birdsong authentic; both Lukas and Sinclair seem to rebel against what is so artificial. Asha does not care, or so it seems. And Christian’s not around anymore. Sarita has yet to voice an opinion on the stereo system of the pool room.

It’s the middle of the night, and when Sinclair comes in she’s fresh from a shower upstairs. Her still-wet hair is in a tight braid that’s been coiled into a bun, as severe as her hairstyles get. And no wonder: with her hair back that hard, it makes her face look all the more animalistic, her cheekbones vaguely feline, her eyes wide and hungry and ghostly in their paleness. She’s not wearing one of her bikinis, or one of the suits she lounges in. Lukas has swam with her, practiced with her enough, to know what it means when she’s wearing one of those black or dark blue or vivid red one-pieces with a halter top and an X-shaped back.

She doesn’t bother with goggles and a cap, but it still means she’s about to work. Not just ‘swim’. Work.

When the door slides closed behind her, she’s already processed the presence of her packmate, sensed him just before she opened the door in the first place. The last time she really saw Lukas was saying goodnight after they patrolled Bellamonte Park and parted ways, she to the Brotherhood and he — most likely — to his mate.

Tonight her suit is red. And there’s all the ink and metal on her skin that’s become so familiar, even that oversized and disturbing viper around her thigh. There’s the scarification that’s glimpsed through the open back of her suit. But now there’s black script on the insides of both forearms, wrist to elbow, spelling out — well. It’s hard to see from his angle.

“Hey, Lukas,” she says, coming to the edge of the pool and lowering herself into a sitting position.

[Cold Victory] The last time they saw each other, they patrolled together. He didn’t say a lot to her, but he could sense her unrest. He didn’t ask about it. He didn’t push — not after his abortive, failed attempt to reach out to her, to reach her, to make her feel included, loved, in touch, family.

He was there, though, quiet and waiting. And at the end of the night she said, I don’t know how to fix this. And Lukas didn’t know either. But he heard her: heard how at a loss she was; heard how she wanted to fix this. And maybe it was a start.

Tonight, she lets herself into the pool room looking like she wants to work. He lifts his head from Kate’s lazy lounger, his pale eyes catching the light, throwing it back. “Hey,” he returns, and waves his hands lazily in the water a few times to paddle himself closer to the edge, out of Sinclair’s way. “Want me to put down some lanes for you?”

[Brutal Revelation] Family, he wanted to her to feel. Not alone. And it would have helped more if that was the sort of loneliness that family and pack could alleviate. If it was feeling disconnected from her packmates somehow, that might have been what he needed to see, and what she needed fixed. But what it is… she doesn’t know how to fix, barely knows how to cope with, knows she doesn’t have much choice but to survive with regardless.

At least she didn’t sound completely hopeless at the end of that night, or completely resigned to just waiting out the misery until the salvation of inevitable death.

“Nah,” she says, and she’s not the sort to excuse herself, subjugate herself, oh no no it’s okay I don’t mind. So she says nah and that’s all it is: exactly as unconcerned as it sounds. She drapes her legs into the water and folds her hands on top of her knees. “You haven’t told me about your challenge yet.”

[Cold Victory] There’s a flicker of a frown across Lukas’s face. Then he shifts to prop himself on his elbows, the lounger rocking under his shifting weight, indenting under the points of his elbows.

“No,” he agrees quietly, “I haven’t.”

The lounger turns a lazy circle in the pool. After a while, a corner bumps the side, and Lukas reaches out to arrest it, one hand gripping the edge of the tile. A moment later he sits up altogether, straddling the lounger now, legs in the water up to the knees.

“Do you want to hear the facts first, and then what I thought about it?”

[Brutal Revelation] She watches him move around in the water. It’s hard to be graceful on a lounger if you dare to do anything but lie on it, but she doesn’t laugh. However, a small smile moves across Sinclair’s lips after he speaks, an expression more of fondness than amusement, more on the mouth than in the eyes.

“Begin at the beginning,” she tells him instead. “And when you come to the end… stop.”

Which may mean just the facts, ma’am. Or it may mean that he needn’t separate facts from his thoughts. Or it may mean that she’s quoting Alice in Wonderland. Lukas can take it as he will, and tell her what he will.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She hasn’t actually been here before, but she’s had the invitation and she’s not one to turn such a thing down. She the Bitchmobile is parked at an available street corner, probably looking very out of place with the rest of the block. It would be like if someone pulled down some artwork in the Louvre to make room for a velvet Elvis and Dogs Playing Poker.

She looks up at the place and grins, making her way toward the building and preparing to have to be buzzed up. Either that or given some very suspicious looks by doormen. Probably both really, she imagines.

[Brutal Revelation] The door is buzzed and opened by a stout, mature latina who may very well never sleep. From the outside, the Loft doesn’t look like much — sort of stark and more like a warehouse than a residence. Inside it unfolds into polished surfaces, glass and pale wood and wide open windows overlooking small courtyards. For the home of a Fang who was once a staunch Royalist and is now… well, not quite a Renewalist… it is shockingly and perfectly modern. Also: very, very clean.

Very very clean.

Outside, Sarita’s Bitchmobile wasn’t quite as out of place as she might have expected. There was an old 70’s El Camino with a black fuzzy dice parked outside, too — it’s possible Lukas’s black BMW is in the garage or around the corner or maybe he came her via the umbra. But Sinclair drove, and Sarita’s probably seen the El Cam around the Brotherhood often enough to find it familiar.

More familiar than the interior of the Loft. Miss Katherine, Lucille explains — first in English, then in rapid Spanish as soon as she realizes she and Sarita have that in common — is unavailable, but Mister Lukas and Miss Sinclair are in the pool room.

The pool is the crown jewel of the home, enormous — nearly Olympic size, from the look of things. There’s greenery at the edges, enough to conceal speakers from whence birdsong often pipes. That is cut off now, though, the room silent but for the water and the low voice of the Shadow Lord sitting on a lounger in the water. Sinclair is perched on the edge of the pool, glancing over her shoulder as the door slides open. She gives a small upward nod to Sarita, but then she turns her attention fully back to Lukas, because what he is telling her

is important.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She gives Lucille a friendly smile and is very warm and talkative with the woman as they travel through the loft to the pool room. Sarita takes it all in with an impressed look…the girl isn’t completely without class when she needs be, but she is definitely not used to accommodations like this. This is like, what the hotel rooms she and Amy would get after a particularly good score (by her) or con (by Amy) in order to splurge and because Amy was sick to death of sleeping in the van. It’s a perfectly comfortable van to sleep in. Yes, it’s still a van, but hey, there are worse places to sleep. Even if it doesn’t have a shower.

Regardless, the point is that Sarita can’t help but feel a bit underdressed as she makes her way into the pool room, even though she’s the most dressed between her worn jeans, heavy black shirt, cowboy boots and the ever-present duster. She smiles and returns the upward nod to Sinclair, and one to Lukas too. She doesn’t say anything yet, so as not to interrupt the conversation.

[Cold Victory] That fond little smile mirrors itself on Lukas’s face. He thinks a moment, then, and begins.

And he begins at the start. He tells her how he walked into that Sept where he was fostered. He tells her how he wore the sword of his ancestors — the same one he uses when he spars with her, but otherwise rarely equips — because it made him think of things he was taught long before he was anyone’s rhya or even anyone’s yuf. He tells her how he chose which Garou to challenge, and how in the end it was the one known for her unbending honor.

And he tells her what the challenge was. That there was a pack without an Alpha and Ahroun. That he was charged to step into that place, to lead them to find their rightful Alpha.

He tells her, then, how from the start he felt hidden layers in that pack. Secrets. Things he did not know, and was kept apart from. He tells her how that made it impossible for him to trust them from the start, and how that in turn made it impossible for them to trust him. How later he discovered their Beta and Theurge, Key of Heaven, willfully kept him out of their intimate circle. How he made this so easy for Key with his own distrust.

He tells her — with shame in his tone, but without shying from it — that he zeroed in on their Philodox, a muddled creature by the name of Eyes That Wax and Wane, a creature more or less incapable of deceit. That he separated her from the rest of her pack like prey to try to wring the truth from her, gaining only that she trusted her pack, and that she was not so muddled as to not know what he was doing.

Of the actual events of the challenge, the quest, he speaks only in quick, simple terms: that there were eaten humans, reports of skeletal Garou walking the forests. That they tracked the Alpha, and that it was surprisingly easy to follow her into the forest, into the ground, across the Gauntlet into some spiritual cavern deep in the earth. That they went deeper and deeper, battling the skeletal Garou and overcoming them; that the rest of the pack, the Blackwings, operated as a smooth, efficient whole. That they followed him, but that he never quite felt their Alpha, or even a part of them.

Lukas tells Sinclair how they found the true Alpha, Stormstrike, eventually — buried beneath the earth. And she was a proud thing, proud to a fault, strong and vicious and quick. She fell upon her Beta immediately and without explanation, cursing him for an oathbreaker. Key ran; she chased; Lukas followed her, the rest of the pack at his heels. He tells Sinclair how Stormstrike would not submit to him, would not fall in behind him, figuratively or literally; how he did not force her submission.

And he tells her why. Which is not something he’s told anyone to date:

Because I didn’t trust any of them at that moment. Because I didn’t trust them to not turn on me, one and all, if I turned on their Alpha.

He tells her how they fled from the underground caverns, which collapsed around them as they ran. He tells her how Key escaped first, Stormstrike right behind him; then Lukas, then the Philodox and the Ragabash, Sunthief. Last, the Galliard, Threnody for Gaia, who was caught in the cave-in and trapped under the earth.

He tells her how Stormstrike caught Key, then. And told Lukas — ordered him — to hold Key of Heaven while she rescued her packmate.

He tells her how he refused. How in that moment, his pride and outrage kept him from obeying her. How she killed Key of Heaven instead of letting him run away.

I didn’t know if he was guilty of what she accused him of or not, he says of this. I didn’t know anything. It was a mistake to let her kill him. It was utter failure.

Key of Heaven came back, he goes on to say. And Lukas managed to wring the truth out at last:

that Key of Heaven and Stormstrike had broken the Litany together, not by charaching but by tasting forbidden flesh. That Stormstrike fell to the Thrall of the Wyrm first, and Key of Heaven counseled silence; that the hunger stayed with her, and eventually Key of Heaven convinced her to succumb again. That he tasted of human flesh with her, not once but again and again, until finally the Wyrm dogged her heels so that Stormstrike was moved to confess. That instead of allowing her to confess and doom them both, he raised skeletal Garou through some dark magic and set them on her, buried her in the earth.

I wasn’t sure, Lukas says, wry in retrospect, even then that Key of Heaven hadn’t done that to protect her. I was that unwilling to believe anyone, even someone like him, could be so twisted.

Stormstrike hadn’t told any of this to her pack before. She didn’t reach to them either in her imprisonment. It was a sort of protection, Lukas says, though such a condescending one that in the end the pack was only more infuriated to discover it. He tried to counsel Stormstrike to speak to her pack as an Alpha should, here at the end of the road — but she didn’t do that, either.

The trip back to the Sept, he says, was silent. If they spoke, he didn’t hear it. Back before the council of Stark Falls, every last one of them were judged: the Litany-breakers for their crimes, Key of Heaven put to death for his corruption and his cowardice and his malice; Stormstrike stripped of pack and rank and voice for her pride and failures.

The Blackwings judged themselves, and judged themselves harshly. Then they judged Lukas and his challenge, he says, with more —

(here he pauses, looking for the word)

— more impartiality and magnanimity than he expected, or felt he deserved. And in the end, Iceriver, the Adren he had challenged, asked him to speak to the Blackwings in Stormstrike’s place, to tell them what he thought she should have. So he did.

I told them to learn from what had happened, he says, and to face their own failures. To recognize that they followed blindly, and that they could only be misled so utterly because they allowed themselves to be. But I also told them not to become mired in their failure and their pain. To not become cold and untrusting, too scarred to go on. And I told them that each of them had the makings of a good Alpha — and failings that they would need to rely on the rest of their pack for.

Ultimately, I suppose I told them to pick themselves up, learn, grow stronger, continue on. Which, in a way, was what Iceriver-rhya told me, right before she passed me to Adren.

And there it is, the end.

Somewhere in the course of all that, Lucille lets Sarita in. Sinclair greeted her. Lukas glanced over as he spoke, drifting in the water on a ridiculously Beverly-Hills-mansion-esque pool lounger, nodding to her without breaking his narrative. He doesn’t stop because she enters. He doesn’t go back, either — simply continues on as though she were,

in fact,

a packmate.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She finds the story intensely interesting, to be sure. While she listens, she starts to put pieces of it together, and she’s figured out that it’s a challenge before the end. She finds a piece of poolside furniture to settle herself down in to listen to the rest, head cocked to the side and a faint version of her usual lopsided grin.

[Brutal Revelation] Sarita hears most of it, though not the very beginning. And she sees the way that Sinclair takes it all in. The Galliard’s expression is utterly blank, devoid of emotion or attachment, but intensely focused. It’s as though so much of her energy is taken up by listening, by mentally recording, by remembering, that there is simply no room left in her right now to reflect upon it personally. In fact, other than glancing at Sarita to acknowledge her and — in a way — welcome her in, Sinclair barely even blinks as Lukas is speaking.

It takes awhile before he’s finished. It’s a long tale. Not three days, as Katherine’s Adren challenge — another story she must listen to, another packmate she must seek out soon, before the memory fades — but a single night, a clenched fistful of hours leading up to the name he now wears beside Wyrmbreaker.

There are times when Sinclair gives advice. She was the one who, quite some time ago, talked to Lukas and told him quite plainly to stop fucking around and challenge. She was the one who got down in Kate’s face and made double-damn sure Katherine had not forgotten their true purpose, the reason for their pack’s existence, and how separate from Power and Influence that purpose is. Sinclair’s the one who beat the tar out of a Theurge they were once packed with because she didn’t think he knew how to listen to anything else. Sinclair’s the Galliard, and while it is not her duty to play the Half Moon, she sees things differently than Kate and Lukas do, or ever would — that is why she’s here. That is one of the primary reasons he sought her out, a long time ago. She added something to the pack that was lacking. She still does.

But she has no advice for Lukas, and he is seeking none. She heard things in his retelling, things that mattered, but she let them go as quickly as she heard them, because he was talking, and she needed to remember. Remember everything. She’ll be up late tonight, writing. Recording. And after that, her private diary, where she’ll work out her own thoughts, her own reflections. How she feels about it all.

When he’s done, she takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. She moves for the first time since looking at Sarita, blinking a few times and then cracking her neck. She doesn’t ask Lukas to explain the name he was given; she understands now. Without the words being spoken, Sinclair understands that much at least with the sort of intuition that allows Galliards to be, so often, the namers.

Sinclair looks at Lukas. She’s been looking at him all this time, really, but for the first time in several minutes it seems like she’s seeing him as herself, meeting him somewhere in the middle of that gaze. “Thank you,” she says. Then twists, and looks at Sarita again. “Welcome to paradise,” she quips. “I have some spare suits if you wanna jump in.”

[Cold Victory] Lukas’s mouth moves a little as she thanks him. It, like that first smile, isn’t really humor. Something closer to wryness, and fondness – brotherly love, perhaps. Then Sinclair’s welcoming Sarita to ‘paradise’, and some tension lifts from Lukas. He lays back on the lounger again, holding on to the edge of the pool to keep from tipping over.

“Sinclair and I campaigned hard to get Kate to put this pool in,” he says. “It used to be a lot smaller. This your first time here?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The little smile breaks out into a full-fledged grin with the welcome to paradise. “Yeah, seriously. This is….something. I’m feeling like there should be some security guard following me around, making sure I’m not gonna like, steal silverware or something.”

She gives a little chuckle and a wink, then waves off the offer to jump in. “I’m cool for now, thanks. I do love an occasional pool dip, but I feel like I should just let all this bad-assness sink in for a bit. I shouldn’t swim while my head is already doing so, y’know?”

A little nod goes to Lukas when he asks if it’s her first time here. “It does happen to be so, yeah. Was I too obvious with the silver- dollar-sized eyes? Very impressive, by the way.” Though she’s been talking about the environs to date, at this point it’s clear she means his retelling of his challenge, or probably more specifically the challenge itself.

[Brutal Revelation] “We didn’t have to campagin that hard,” Sinclair amends. “I think Lukas tried casually suggesting it over cognac, then joking about it one day while we were all swimming, then I made puppy eyes at her and she pretty much caved.”

Paradise, then. And Sarita’s first time here. Sinclair huffs a laugh when she mentions stealing silverware, glancing at Lukas. There had been quite a noise made after the first couple of times Sticky Fingers showed up around here. Sinclair kicks at the water, not really at anything, but Lukas might be splashed slightly.

Her hands grip the edge of the pool. Have been like that for some time now. It was awhile ago since she unfolded her hands and braced herself with those newly tattooed arms. She hasn’t let go.

“You know — not talk about her behind her back or anything — but as pleased as Kate gets when people get all googly-eyed over what she can provide, I think what makes her truly happy is when it feels like everyone’s… home, here.” She’s watching the water ripple around her legs, the way they distort under the water. Tips her head to the side a bit.

[Brutal Revelation] [*campaign]

[Cold Victory] Lukas gives that wry little half-smile again and Sarita congratulates him, or praises him. His name, she knows now, is more a reminder than a boast; his challenge could only be called a cold victory at best.

Sinclair kicking her legs sends Lukas drifting out across the pool again, turning in a slow circle until an idle paddle halts the turn. “We actually did have someone steal the silverware once,” he notes, “so if Lucille looked at you askance, that might be why. Tell her you’re pack and she’ll warm up. A little.

“But, yeah. I think once upon a time Kate wanted this to be a packhouse. That never really happened, but … we all crash here from time to time. If you or your sister take up a room here she’ll probably be thrilled. Speaking of which, how’s she doing? She seemed to take it pretty hard when I told her the thick of battle probably wasn’t the best place for her.”

[Brutal Revelation] It’s unmistakable. From her angle in the poolside seat Sarita can even see it. Sinclair rolls her eyes. There is nothing subtle about it.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She chuckles a little at the explanation for the silverware, and shakes her head. “Naah, she didn’t, at least that I noticed. We found a nice common ground and things seem generally cool.” Of course, what Sarita might consider ‘cool’ and what reality might be the case could vary significantly from time to time. “I’ll mention that as a possibility to Ames. Digging the Brotherhood and it’s nice to be around to be able to see Kyle every two weeks when he actually stops by, plus Gina’s right next door to us now. But you never know.”

When Lukas asks how Amy is doing, her brow furrows, and her expression slips just a little. “She did take it hard. But she’s resilient. She probably won’t give up on hoping that one day she’ll end up being able to be involved in some capacity. It’s just…who she is. I’ve already had people in my face about it but it’s something that was sort of programmed into her from well before I found her.” She speaks about it like it’s something she’s not comfortable with at all. No Garou really could…not that she would ever tell Amy that. But it’s also something she’s had to come to terms with, even if that hasn’t been easy.

“It’s weird, I know. And I don’t expect that most people will ever understand it or be cool with it. She was upset, but I’m keeping an eye on her and I think she’s bouncing back pretty well. She’ll be fine.”

[Brutal Revelation] At Sarita’s explanation, Sinclair quiets, listening. Then she looks over at her possible packsister again, thoughtful. Some time ago she might have just flat-out said Are you for fucking serious? and they might have ended up in a brawl or something. For all she knows, here and now, Sarita saw that eyeroll and raised her a couple mentions of how she’s already gotten shit for Amunet’s insanity, and how most people won’t understand or be cool with it.

Sinclair just watches her for a moment, though not a long moment. “How much of your time and energy are you willing to expend on having to watch her, though?” Sinclair asks, in a voice that is — considering the athletic, predatory female it’s coming from — surprisingly gentle. “I mean, if she doesn’t figure out sooner rather than later that she can’t go charging in alongside the Garou because it’ll get her fucking killed? You’ve got better things to do than make sure she doesn’t go suicidal because she wants something she can’t have. Wants to… be something she won’t ever be.”

A brief pause: “I’m not saying this to get in your face, Sarita,” Sinclair goes on, her voice low. “But I wouldn’t want to see you dragged down and distracted by it.”

[Cold Victory] “For what it’s worth,” Lukas adds, “I suggested some ways your sister could make a difference without actively endangering herself or making herself a liability. She seemed to take to the idea of a bit of human-world recon and espionage.”

It might be noted that he doesn’t actually join the debate Sinclair seems to be setting up. Rather, on that front, Lukas — like Sarita herself so often does — simply watches. And listens.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She listens to Sinclair, head cocked to the side. There isn’t bitterness or anger at the Galliard for speaking her mind about it. She’s being a lot more reasonable than other people have been, and she didn’t get particularly angry at them either. Here, or in the other towns that they’ve been in. She gives the other woman a little understanding nod.

“Believe me, I know what you’re saying. And no, I know you’re not.” A brief pause. “I guess I should clarify. I’m not saying that she’s gonna be sneaking out to come along with us against our will or anything. And yes, it’s insane, and a little bit suicidal. More than a little bit. But I should make this clear. I’m there for her to help her get back up if she falls. I’m not running out after her to stop her every time she goes and does some stupid-ass thing. But she is my sister, and she’s all I have left of my direct blood family. As long as she still has the ability to draw breathe, I’ll be there for her.” Her expression tells the words that she doesn’t say plainly–that the Strider accepts the very real possibility and even probability that she might outlive her sister.

“In truth,” she adds, “Last couple weeks have been…eye openers for her. Can’t say as it’s all been great for her, but it’s changed her perspective a bit. And she’s not as nuts as she sometimes seems. She is realistic about most things, and she did mention your ideas, Lukas.” She nods to him. “I think they’d be great for her.”

[Brutal Revelation] There’s a slight huff at the mention — even the idea — of Amunet sneaking after them. Maybe it’s hubris. Maybe it’s the sheer facts of the matter: an Adren Ahroun, a Fostern Philodox, a Fostern Galliard, a Cliath Ahroun, and a Cliath Ragabash being tailed unwittingly by a Kinfolk. Sure. Right. Like, if that even happened, they wouldn’t just stuff her in someone’s trunk til they could deal with her. It’s not a cruel sound from her mouth, but it’s a dismissive one — as though Sarita’s telling a joke, and Sinclair gets it.

Sneaking out to come along with them. Sure.

The rest of the time, she’s just listening. And it’s a different kind of listening than when she was mentally recording Lukas’s challenge. It’s more involved. She’s… there. She’s not just a scribe. She can see in Sarita’s eyes that awful and — frankly — backwards truth: that Amunet might go out and get herself killed long before the war digs its claws into Sarita and rips out her heart. Which isn’t how it should be. Which isn’t how it will be, for most of them.

In the end, Sinclair gives a nod. “Forgive me,” she says eventually, a bit slowly. “I don’t have any brothers or sisters that aren’t packmates,” she adds with a faint shrug of one shoulder, paired with a small shake of her head. “And I’m not …great with Kinfolk, even my own.”

Especially.

There’s reason enough for that. Sinclair walks into a room and gets one of two reactions from their rageless cousins: they quail or they get their back up, depending on how strong their backbone is. They aren’t comforted by her. She can’t put them at ease. She could burn through every drop of her rage and she would still make people’s neckhairs stand on end, make their brains light up with flashes of primitive fight or flight instinct. Sure, there’s the rare kinfolk who gets a surge oh ooh, sexydangerous, but even they can’t do much more than stare at her before heading for the door. Her parents feel it. Lucille feels it. Jenny and Reuben and everyone else at the BroHo feels it.

I’m not great with Kinfolk is a nice way of putting it. She avoids them; they try not to make eye contact with her. It works out.

“She’s your sister,” Sinclair finishes, with a second shrug, as though, that’s it. That’s all that needs to be said, in the end.

[Cold Victory] “What happened to the rest of your blood kin?” Lukas asks, turning his head to keep the females in sight as the vague motion of the poolwater turns his float slowly about. “If you don’t mind me asking.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods a little bit to Sinclair. Oddly, despite the Strider’s filial ties to her sister, she knows what it’s like to be an only child too, and there is a bit of that understanding in her eyes. It’s almost redundant to be of two worlds that way when they are of two worlds by their very nature. Perhaps that made it easier for Sarita to adapt to her new situation. She probably couldn’t tell you herself.

“She is,” she says in response, and that is all.

When Lukas asks about the rest of her family, Sarita looks that way and shakes her head with a smile. “Not at all.” A little shrug. “My father was the Trueborn, Amy and my blood link. He had a family with Amy and her mother, and my mother was a one-night stand. My mother didn’t know what Esteban was or what I was, and I didnt’ until my First Change.” She pauses a moment. The hesitation is brief, but it is there, before she continues.

“My mother died in a drug-related shooting. That’s when Esteban found me, gave me the basics and sent me off to the nearby Sept. Didn’t see any of my family again until Amy. Her mother died of cancer, and Esteban died soon after in a Spiral raid on their Sept.” She shrugs. There’s no bitterness in her voice toward her father, just less of an attachment than to her departed mother. “Amy found me not long after that.”

[Brutal Revelation] Some of who and what Sarita is, and how Amunet plays into that, unfolds as she tells them what happened to her father, her mother. It comes across, too, in the things that aren’t said, the thing that aren’t expounded upon —

he had a family

basics

sent me off

— and in those flickers of hesitation. Sinclair, perhaps not surprisingly, is a good listener. She tips her head to the side. “Found you? How? Did she know about you?”

[Cold Victory] In a strange way, Sinclair and Lukas — possibly the two most war-invested wolves in the pack — also have the most mundane upbringings. Sinclair was a cheerleader. Lukas has two parents and an older sister; all they were missing was a white picket fence and a dog. The sort of life Sarita describes — drug shootings, one night stands — is very far from his experience.

He rolls sideways off the float, though, as Sinclair picks up the thread of conversation. In a few swift, powerful strokes he reaches the edge of the pool and hauls himself out, sheeting water. Like Sinclair, then, he sits on the edge, legs in the water, at right angles to the Galliard. While he listens, he looks at the fresh ink on Sinclair’s forearms, curious.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She gives a little nod, having expected that question. It’s asked a decent amount of the time. “Esteban knew about me from my birth, and his family knew that I existed for years. Amy knew she had a Trueborn sister since birth, and…that honestly has a lot to do with why she’s the way that she is. Living in the shadow of someone who isn’t even a quote-unquote ‘real’ part of your family, I don’t think, is very easy.”

She runs a hand through her hair, leaning back. It’s not a story that pains her, but she is a bit hesitant as she talks about these portions. This isn’t just her story…it’s hers and Amy’s. That’s significant to the Strider. “Anyway, when Esteban died, she found the information he had on me in his things and tracked me down.”

[Brutal Revelation] There is a reason why most of the time Sinclair and Lukas are both in the pool, she’s coaching him. He has raw physical power, raw physical grace and endurance, but Sinclair is the athlete of the Unbroken. In the water or on dry ground, those skills shine. She was a cheerleader. She was a swimmer. She was a runner. When she got older she surfed, she played volleyball. Last year she learned how to snowboard.

Drug shootings and one night stands aren’t so far from her experience, though. Not because of how she grew up, because of any experience from her life before her Change, but there is this stretch of time between earning the name Warcry and that fateful trip to Las Vegas that ended up with her coming to Chicago where things were very, very different.

Though their roles play a part, too. Lukas is a warmaster, a leader. Sinclair is a the memory of the pack, the voice of history. Sometimes she advises but that’s really Kate’s forte. Sinclair has the strange but sometimes vital ability to sit back, and listen, and absorb

and neither judge, nor act, nor attempt to alter. It is what it is. She hears hints of things in Sarita’s telling of her life, but right now, she doesn’t chase any of them down, scratch them out of the earth. One challenge to Sarita tonight seems to be enough.

She does look at her brother when he hauls himself out of the water, and notices him peering at her forearms. Without interrupting Sarita, she takes her hands off the rim of the pool and turns her arms towards Lukas so he can read the script inscribed into the skin there. Her eyes, then, turn back to the Strider.

Hearing what she does, a faint frown creases her brow, then smooths…willfully. One gets the impression if she let herself she’d just keep frowning until her face stuck that way. Since Lukas has had enough time to read her arms, Sinclair lowers them again, folding her hands on her knees. “You know…”

And hesitation. A beat of it, as she considers her words. It may seem to come out of nowhere — Sinclair seems okay with that. “Sarita, when it’s just us — the pack, I mean, now and particularly if you decide to join us for realsies — you can say whatever you have to say.” She pauses again. “You can trust our discretion. And if we fail you in that way, it’s your right to call us out on it, especially given your moon.”

Sinclair wrinkles her nose, then relaxes her expression again. “Okay, the blunt way of putting that is: if you feel weird about talking about your sister to us ‘behind her back’ or because it might be her private stuff, we all totally get that — just stick around and you’ll see how much Lukas talks about his mate, for example, which is like not at all and don’t think none of us have noticed he’s got a wedding ring now but were we invited, noooo of course not — but, yeah. My point is that what you say among pack isn’t going to come back to bite you in the ass later, even if you choose to leave the pack. I’ve had that happen. I wouldn’t do it to anyone else, and I’d yell at Lukas or Kate or Asha if they tried to do it, too. But they wouldn’t. Cuz they’re them. Y’know?”

She slips into the water. Finally.

[Derek Anderson] He entered the building and after introducing himself in the lobby, he rode the elevator up and once at the penthouse, he was greeted by a severe looking womannamed Lucille. He grinned at her slightly. Despite being almost 6’4″and being quite fit, the woman was almost intimidating to him

Lucky for him, he made a good impression enough, having stopped by his place to get changed after coming home from the theater. He was dressed in a nice purpple shirt, dark pants and shoes and had put on a long, warm jacket. He was led inside, toward one of the bench, then left.

Of course he heard those present and recognize the woman beside the pool and even those two inside the pool. He odesn’t get closer though, keeping out of conversation distance so he wouldn’t be unintetionally spying on them

[Cold Victory] Lukas isn’t terribly subtle about looking at the script. He leans over when Sinclair turns her arms to show him, reading the dark ink on her winter-pale skin. Somewhere in the middle of that she slips in the mention about his newish wedding band — that dark strip of black tungsten and gold that encircles the fourth finger of his left hand now — and his eyes flick up. He laughs quietly, a little abashed, a little pleased, but then the conversation moves on and his eyes go to Sarita.

“What she said,” he says. There’s a reason the gibbous moon chose Sinclair: it’s rare that she ever makes a statement Lukas feels compelled to add to or correct. “I’d add more, but that about covers it. I’m not going to run around airing a packmate’s laundry. Or a proto-packmate’s. Or whatever. No more than you would, I think.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She actually flushes at that. Clearly, she hadn’t even considered it that way, but as Sinclair says it, the words make complete sense and it makes the Ragabash wonder why the hell she didn’t already have that in mind.

“You’re right…my bad.” She sighs. “Too much time on the road. Two back-to-back against the world and all that happy Custer’s Last Stand-style horse shi-ite. Kinda got used to holding each other’s secrets safe from everyone else.” She smiles and taps her temple.

“Keeping it in mind.”

[Saschenka Neal] It was probably wrong to dead meeting the Elder of your own Tribe. Be nervous, of course, but dread? Sasha had never thought she’d have that feeling when meeting one of her own. Still, that was exactly what was pooling in her stomach and it had taken most of the taxi can ride over to convince herself to actually go, and not turn around as soon as she hit the doors.

Her clothes are much better then her usual working nights, nice sweater, nice jeans tucked into nice boots and her hair spilling over her shoulders. She’s even got a good fall coat on,as she comes through the door. There is a murmur, and a polite nod to Lucille, as well as a quiet thank you as she’s lead to where she needs to go and where she’s told to stay.

What she doesn’t expect is more voices, or even to see a familiar face- Detective Anderson. Her stomach clenches even tighter and it takes a second or two for her face to smooth out and for Sasha to force the tension out of her body. She even managers a smile to the man. “Detective Anderson. Thank you again, for your help.”

[Cold Victory] For a moment the Shadow Lord’s head turns; he looks through the glass doors at the passing figure. Turns back, though, when Sarita speaks.

“Don’t,” he says as she apologizes. “It’s nothing to ‘my bad’ about. You didn’t do anything wrong, Sarita. Like you said, it’s been the two of you back-to-back against the world for a long time now. I think Sinclair’s just saying — it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. Not if you’re with us.”

He pushes up on the palms of his hand, then, drawing his legs out of the water and under him. Standing, suddenly tall, he pads wet-footed over to the lounge chairs and draws his swim robe up, shrugging into it as he heads for the pool room’s door.

“Be right back,” he says. “Going to see who the pureblooded new faces are.”

[Brutal Revelation] In the water now, Sinclair moves, well… less like a wolf and more like a fish.

No, not like a fish. Like a shark. Even in the pool she’s more predator than prey, more beast than girl. The shocking red of her racing suit makes her look that much more vicious. She’s not swimming though, she’s treading water and enjoying the feel of it, still part of the conversation and still close to the edge of the pool.

“And I commend you for it,” she tells Sarita, of keeping secrets for her sister. “Just… y’know. You can trust us, is I guess what I’m saying.” She shrugs, and water sluices off of the names along her bicep, the metal through the other. Then she’s underwater a moment, coming up with her long hair drenched and close to the scalp.

She comes up and sees Derek through the glass walls. That crease appears in her brow once more, much like it did earlier as Sarita was talking. Then there’s Sashenka, and she nods as Lukas hauls himself up to go see who the new shiny shiny Fangs are.

Sinclair turns back to Sarita. “Come on. You should go get one of my suits. Jump in. Paddle around. I swear not to dunk you. I can’t speak for Lukas. He tends to jones pretty hard on that Big Brother vibe and would probably noogie you.”

[Derek Anderson] He offer her a warm smile “Good evening Sasha, didn’t think I”d bump into you tonight”He say, plased to see her. They had bumped into each other a few times and the meetings always ended well. HE liked his fellow, she was nice, smart and funny, though sometime unwillingly.

He looked back at the pool, watching Sarita for a moment then caught Sinclair looking in his and Sasha’s direction. He grin slightly and looked away. Something crossed his mind and he looked up fora moment before looknig again at Sasha with a smile.

[Derek Anderson] (*his fellow kin..)

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks up, following Lukas’s gaze, and sees Sasha and Derek. She grins a little, head cocking to the side. “Hey, I know both of them.” Then the thought occurs to her. How the hell do I meet all the Fang kin first? The thought gives her one of those Cheshire-style grins, for no reason that she can even discern. Sometimes the Strider just finds shit funny. You don’t earn the deed name “Echoes of Laughter” if it wasn’t the case.

She looks over at Sinclair and finally gives in. “Okay, okay.” It’s a good-natured and willing surrender. She shrugs out of her duster, settling it against the back of the chair. “Show or tell me the way.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] There is no way to avoid the truth.

A Philodox, above all other auspices knows this to be quite true and correct and the truth was — Katherine had been avoiding her pack-mates. Specifically Sinclair and Lukas and even more exactly — her Alpha. She had gone to challenge for Adren at her father’s Sept and she had failed. Failure was not a thing easily written into the Bellamonte manuscript. It was most certainly not on Katherine’s.

She did not fail.

Her Uncle had taught her this much from an early age and despite her hatred of the man and his ploys, she did believe in some things still, deep in her core. Her family were not made to be laughing stocks. The Bellamontes who would go down in the history books would never be those that failed in their endeavors. Humility, Honor’s Compass had admitted to Nobility’s Burden, her father’s old Half Moon pack-mate, humility had been something a long time coming to Katherine’s psyche.

But she had it in spades, now. And she did not know how to process it.

So, she spent time, much of her time, with Martin, or at the Caern. Or in the Umbra; wolf-formed and freer than her human skin felt at present. She was a presence still on the totemlink but she was distant, even in person. Her smiles were half-mast; insubstantial and when she arrives at the Loft; entering silently from the garage she does not announce herself. Merely deposits her keys and stands a moment, listening to the activity.

The Loft, as both Kinfolk soon discover upon entry was what had once been a rather impressive warehouse space. It had been re-built on the inside, concrete given away for floor to ceiling window panes in several places and on the first floor an equally impressive enclosed swimming area. Lucille; a compact Hispanic woman with peppered black hair and wise, quick eyes would lead both after coats were taken down a white washed entry hall that opened up into a sitting area.

The floors were polished wood that gleamed, a rich rug thrown across the floor beneath an arrangement of black leather sofas to greet any exiting or entering from various doors. In a far corner; a staircase made of steel and stone wound upwards to a second level and somewhere, masked by the dominating pool room, there was a kitchen and master bedroom.

Lucille, noting her Mistress, gestures curtly at the Kinfolk to arrange themselves as they saw fit and rushed to take the pretty blond’s coat. Katherine turned her face, and her maid murmured something lowly in her ear. There was a nod, and Katherine came forward; her pale eyes intent on at least one new face.

“Good evening, welcome to my home. I am Katherine Bellamonte.” Derek received a brief cant of her head before the Half Moon’s attention returned to Sashenka. “You must be my newest arrival.”

[Saschenka Neal] “I didn’t expect to see others tonight either.” She admits, following his gaze and recognizing at least one in the pool. Seeing Sarita is both comforting, and bring more dread about the embarrassment that’s soon to follow. She stands at a parade rest, fingers gripping her wrist perhaps a touch to tight… especially with Lukas coming over.

They only tighten further when Katherine walks in; a kin can’t see breeding, but she -can- see the way the woman holds herself. This was a Trueborn Silver Fang, well bred, true and true. And she was looking at Sasha.

“Yes ma’am,” she answers politely and respectfully, bowing her head slightly in deference. “It’s an honor to meet you, thank you for allowing me into your home.”

She’s one who’s grown up around Garou, that’s obvious.

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair grins at Sarita. “Upstairs. It’s the second room on your left past the pool table. Top drawer of the dresser. You should be able to find something that fits, we’re about the same size.”

And with that she tilts to her back and sweeps her arms, swimming backward a bit. The last she heard from Lucille, Miss Katherine was unavailable. And she’s been waiting. She’s been quiet. God only knows Sinclair has had reason enough for the last couple of months to not reach out overmuch, to not invite anything that might become a long discussion.

But she knows Kate is back in town. She knows Kate is near. She knows Kate as a steady white glow in her mind, a pristine presence only sometimes marred by a darkening of emotion or a blinding flare of megalomania. And she smiles at the glass ceiling of the pool room, smiles at the stars.

[Cold Victory] The creature approaching the glass doors of the pool room sweeps rage ahead of him. Quite tall, broad across the shoulders and thick through the chest, Lukas is possessed of a frame that seems to year by year gain muscle mass and solidity. Once, his ancestors were black beasts in the carpathians, shrouded in the furs of their enemies, as strong as the mountains themselves. He’s descended from the same stock, cut to the same cloth.

His expression is curious, though, rather than threatening. He seems about to sweep the doors open and greet them when he catches sight of his packmate coming from the direction of the garage. It’s the first time he’s seen her since she left for New York, and for her own Adren challenge. They haven’t spoken of it, but every one of the Unbroken knows the outcome of that challenge; knows it in the foreboding silence of their totem, the lack of the storm-god’s presence in their bones.

Lukas looks at Katherine a moment, his eyebrows pulling together and upward a little. She goes to greet her kin, though, and Lukas doesn’t interrupt, instead raising a hand in a silent, courteous greeting through the glass. Derek, he’s met. The woman, he hasn’t; but she’s Kate’s business, regardless.

Turning back, he steps aside as Sarita heads up to get one of Sinclair’s suits. “I’m not going to dunk you,” he says to her on her way out, an aside, “but Sinclair might make you feel like a mudskipper to her swordfish.”

He keeps his robe on, though unsashed. Pulling up one of the loungers at the side of the pool, he nods at Sinclair’s forearms. “What’s up with the new ink?”

[Derek Anderson] He smiled as Sasha found herself the focus of Katherine’s attention. He offered the regal woman an nod and a smile when she noticed him. Having no real business with her tonight, he was quite happy to let both woman talk. His attention drifted toward the pool once and it was hard to say who or what he was looking at.

Of course he didn’t look for too long and when Lukas came closer, his attention was on the man. HE offered a polite smile and nod to the Elder then he brought his eyes back to Katherine and Sasha’s meeting

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She nods to Sinclair with a grateful smile and starts to make her way out of the pool area. When Lukas said he wasn’t going to dunk her, she gave a grin at him. “Hey, all’s fair in love and war. That includes pool wars. Therefore, I make no such promises.” A chuckle, and she gives Sasha and Derek little nods, and a smile to Katherine–not going out of her way to interrupt, just not pretending they aren’t there–as she disappears off to the stairs and up.

[Brutal Revelation] She swims for awhile. Just a little while. To be alone. To be in the water, alone, a sport without cheerleaders and where fans are more of a distraction than a charge. She does just a single lap though, once back and forth down the immense pool, and then she comes to the edge, puts her palms on the concrete, and lifts herself up and out. The motions all slide together, blur into an illusion of a single motion, as though her joints are just levers on a well-oiled machine.

Her arms brace, and then lift. Her knees bend and her legs come up. The balls of her feet press into the concrete and push downward as her legs unfold, as she rises from an eyeblink of a crouch to standing, dripping. Sinclair takes the time to run her palms over herself, skimming excess water away, her hair already tightly yanked back, braided, and coiled at the nape of her neck.

Then she bolts out of the pool room, jumps on Katherine’s back — pool water and all — and hugs the Philodox tightly from behind, burying her face in Kate’s coat, between her shoulderblades.

“Kate Kate Kate Kate Kate,” she says, infinitely pleased. Smiling.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Lukas is noted; but his pack-mate’s eyes linger on him merely a moment, she smiles, but there’s little outward joy to it. Instead, she turns her attention on the two Kinfolk with her and directs both to take up seats on the sofa leather. Lucille is sent for tea, coffee or whatever beverages are requested and their elder; a pretty thing with the regal features and elegant turns of phrase and motion that spoke clearly of her upbringing, and breeding.

“Sit, please.”

She instructs if they have not already, and — Sinclair rushes from the pool room and leaps on her; Katherine staggers a little, and her eyebrows knit, “Hello, Sinclair,” there is fond endurance in the Aristocrat’s voice as she introduces her — and slightly damp, sits and crosses her legs, hands on one knee. Katherine’s slacks were of a fine white material; the lines crisply pressed and the sweater matched with it V necked. She could have as easily fit in at a country club as she could at her home at present.

Even a little wet with pool water, courtesy of her sister.

Sarita passes through at some point during all this and Katherine smiles at her, politely before settling into business. “I will not lie, Ms Neal, your name is one I am familiar with. You have a certain,” The Silver Fang frowns, breathing out slowly, “Reputation among us. I would be remiss not to take that into account upon you setting foot into my governed area. But,” Lucille appeared again, bearing a tray of tea.

“As I said to Derek, I do not care so much for what you do on your own time, as long as you do nothing that discredits your tribe, or my standing as its Elder in the process. Whatever your transgressions were are, as far as I am concerned, firmly in the past. You receive as do any coming under my protection, the benefit of a clean slate.

Where you take this, is entirely up to you.”

[Cold Victory] [delete the last bit of my last post, where lukas addresses sinclair! wires crossed!]

[Brutal Revelation] There are new tattoos on the insides of Sinclair’s forearms. Three words in black going from wrists to elbows, but Kate doesn’t have time to make them out before those arms are flung around her from behind. She squeezes the Silver Fang hard, perhaps tighter than even an absence of three days would warrant, but then

she’s not hugging her like that because Kate was gone for three days. Sinclair was gone for three weeks last summer and it didn’t warrant being clung to like this.

She smacks a kiss on the Philodox’s cheek, lets her go, and once upon a time she held Kate from behind, arms pinned down, and it was a very different sort of embrace, but that was ages ago. She unfolds her arms and, without a second glance at the two Kin being treated to tea and cakes and whatever else, walks back into the pool room. She leaves it cracked for Sarita, but otherwise closes it, as though to give the Fangs some privacy.

Tribe business. Not pack business. There’s a line. Most of the time, there’s a very firm line.

She heads back towards the water, glancing over a Lukas and giving him a small smile. On second thought, she stops, and goes to sit on one of the cushioned loungers near where he is.

[Brutal Revelation] [I’ll probably end up editing my post about SINCLAIR SWIMMING ALONE and all that before I post it in my scene log, too. LOL. *lurnz to reed for futar*]

[Derek Anderson] He offered a warm smile at Sarita when she greeted him and then simply blinked at Sinclair when the woman jumped on Katherine’s back. Weither it was because of how good the Glass Walker looked in a swimsuit or because of her behavior, it could be debated. Both might be a good answer.

He sat as Katherine had offered. He did look at Sasha with some curiosity when Katherine spoke of transgressions, but he would never ask in public. Maybe if they end up at a cafe or dinner alone he will. He could chec her past too, but it would feel..improper.

[Saschenka Neal] A woman, wet, and dressed only a bathing suit, leaping upon a Silver Fang Elder, should pretty much erase all tension in a room. Half sitting when it happened, Sasha gets a little wide eyed at the action, almost… disbelieving that it just happened. Still, the newcomer only makes her skin almost crawl and doubles that flight or fight response that is totally leaning towards flight.

She forces her body to sit though, sitting up straight with her hands pressed into her lap. There is a thinning of her lips at the mention of her… reputation, as the other so delicately puts it, and her head bows ever so slightly. It’s not… embarrassment, not exactly, but maybe a bit of shame. Whatever the emotion, she at least holds it close to her.

Her eyes flick up though, at the but, and there is tightly controlled surprise at the mentioning of a clean slate. Of all the things she expected, that was certainly not it. It takes a moment for her to realize she should respond, and moved beyond stunned.

“… thank you ma’am,” she says quietly, her gaze dropping again. “I understand, completely.”

[Cold Victory] As Sinclair sits down beside him, Lukas leans over, bumping his shoulder against hers. Even through the sleek satiny shell and the thick absorbent liner of his pool robe, she can feel the warmth and solidness of the flesh and bone beneath.

“What’s with the new tattoos?” he asks.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Somewhere halfway up the stairs, Sarita chuckles when she hears Katherine start her address to Sasha. She knows it well already, and she very nearly pauses to listen to it just to see if she can mouth along with it, albeit out of sight. She doesn’t though, and instead finishes her trip upstairs.

Her own clothes get folded up and settled somewhere out of the way after she changes into the swimsuit. She just goes with the first one that she sees, unless there’s a big giant sign that says NO DON’T TAKE THAT SWIMSUIT THAT’S THE WRONG CHOICE. Hey, some people are weird about their swimsuits. Some people juggle geese. Anyway, she’s not partial to a particular style, she just gets dressed, finds and grabs a towel and makes her way back downstairs.

She’s nice enough to tiptoe silently around the periphery of the greeting as much as possible so as not to disturb them. Plenty of time to be disturbing later, right? The door is slipped open and then shut behind her.

[Katherine Bellamonte] “Please be warned,” the Silver Fang goes on without more than a heartbeat between her words and Saschenka’s modestly stunned reply, “that while I am the one who answers for our tribe here in the city, I can not be everywhere all the time, and I cannot control the reactions you may elicit from other, more traditional members.”

She smiles, a brief, shaded look full of sympathy and forbearance on the topic of her tribes-mates.

“But you find no instant quarrel with me, this place, too, my home is a safe place to come if you are ever in trouble or simply need a roof over your head. My pack-mates, if not myself, will always make you welcome in it.”

[Saschenka Neal] “I understand,” she replies, and the very faint smile indicates that she does all too well. She would suppose that being left to fend for yourself was the worst, but… well, people always thought of new ways to cause misery. If being a CST had taught her anything, that was certainly it.

There is a small nod and some of the tension leaves her shoulders. “Yes ma’am. Again… thank you, very much.”

[Derek Anderson] If Sarita didn’t want to disturb him, well walking around in a swimsuit wasn’t the way. His eyes followed her from the moment she appeared till she pass the door and get out of sight. His brain hamster had left the wheel and was face pressed against the glass one of his eyes was, drolling. Only thing that stopped Derek to do the same was his Silver Fang upbringing.

He wasn’t the type to stare at woman or think inapropriate thought, he was usually jsut a nice and charming. He had reacted a little at Sinclair earlier, she was beautiful, but his fascination with that particular Garou was special…it was her whole presence, the danger. While Sarita was a gorgeous woman and she happened to be smart and funny and they aways had fun hanging together

This…this is what he would be thinking about..if only he could think right..but..he can’t

[Derek Anderson] (*think right now…)

[Brutal Revelation] When she’d come back in, Sinclair had initially moved towards the pool. Thinking twice about it, she’d moved to one of the loungers near the one Lukas was taking up. When he looked up and smiled like that, as though he was all happy about something, because she had come back in, she’d sat next to him instead.

Sometimes Sinclair hugs Kate because she wants to hug Kate more than because she thinks Kate needs it. Sometimes Lukas hugs Sinclair or wants her — or any of his packmates — nearby because of what it fulfills for him, how it makes him feel. Sometimes they can feel the fact that she was always an only child in the way she tolerates physical affection more than responds to it. Sometimes they can feel the same damn thing when she leans into a hug, or when she nuzzles despite being in homid, or when she seems so hungry just for someone to not be afraid to touch her that her acceptance of a hand on hers is almost desperate. Starved.

Truth be told, when she sits down next to Lukas instead of across from him, as she’d intended, it’s more for his sake than for her own. It’s as though all night she could sense him wanting to get off the lounger and curl up in a furry pile with his packmates. It’s as though for the past several days Katherine hasn’t been around and Katherine’s been quiet and they haven’t been connected telepathically through Perun. It’s almost as though she knows him, and understands him, and — yes — loves him. That shows in how she decides to sit next to him, and how she smiles sort of patiently but also sort of fondly when he bumps against her like that.

Upstairs, Sarita finds a whole drawer full of swimsuits. Bikinis, racing suits, one-pieces, two-pieces that are slightly more modest than bikinis. Some look more comfortable for lounging, some more comfortable for swimming. Black, red, navy blue, green, purple, brown and pink… Sinclair has swimsuits like some women have shoes.

The room itself isn’t very lived-in, but it’s comfortable. Big comforter on the bed. A purple letter jacket with white sleeves laid on the back of a chair — it’s from Cheer Eclipse, it says, and the arms are covered in patches from years past, awards past, national championships won all those years ago. There’s a door to the bathroom next door, and clean towels everywhere, like it’s a luxury hotel.

And in the pool room, Sinclair is smiling, and it’s fading. She looks at her arms, turning them wrists-up on top of her thighs. “I got them the night after we went and patrolled the park, you know?” Which isn’t much of an explanation. For a Galliard, she stares at them silently, as though not quite sure how to explain, any more than she knows how to stop being like this.

[Cold Victory] Lukas reaches out, his fingers still faintly damp from poolwater when he turns Sinclair’s arms around so he can see the inking again.

“What you can,” he reads, a question, an invitation for explanation, “when you can?”

[Katherine Bellamonte] There’s a faint trilling, and moments later Lucille appears with a phone in hand. “It’s Master Edward,” she announces, in her heavily accented English, and fair brows knitting, the Half Moon rises to her feet.

“Excuse me a minute, make yourselves comfortable, help yourself to tea if you like.”

Taking the phone in hand, Katherine’s expression devolves into tense lines; her brow furrowed, sweet tones sliding into another language altogether; her voice sharp; rising as she pads out of sight into something rather fiercely argumentative. At one point, there is most certainly name calling.

In french.
How quaint.

[BRB, must start dinner!]

[Saschenka Neal] …. she’s not dead yet, or kicked out. Even invited to come back. Definitely better then she thought.

Still, she can’t help but bring up her fingers to pinch the bridge of her nose, letting out something that is almost a shuddering breath as Katherine moves away. She has a headache from being wound so tight, and she’s still about exactly what the woman has all heard, what Derek is going to say, and who all is exactly in the house hearing the conversation. Sarita in a bathing suit isn’t even noted, when the woman comes back down and slips back to the pool.

[Derek Anderson] Hanster finaly get back in wheel and start spinning, brain fonctions returning. He blinks a few tie then notice Katherine was on the phone and Sasha looknig very nervous. Fighting the temptation to loo through the window poolside, he turn his body so he was sitting sideways with Sasha

“How are you handling it?” He ask her with some concern in his voice “You look like you just escaped execution”

He tilt his head, studying the blonde woman’s face, trying to read the thruth from her expression, if she dare answer that se was fine

[Brutal Revelation] She doesn’t jerk away from Lukas’s hands going to her arms. The air is wicking away the moisture on her skin, cooling her to the point of being chilled, but she has no robe for modesty nor warmth. Rage heats her from within. Determination, too. She watches him look over the words, and for a moment something twists inside of her. She closes her eyes, staunching some wound in herself as though to stop the bleeding with her bare hands. There isn’t even a bandage, nothing to cover it with. Just the profound ache of a hole where something else used to be.

Her eyes open slowly, and something in her has changed. She looks exhausted. She looks — frankly put — depressed. Different than she’s been all night. More like she did when she stood in Bellamonte Park and could hardly bear up under the weight of whatever it is she’s carrying.

“Yeah,” she says, barely more than a whisper. It isn’t much of an explanation. Then again, maybe it is: she doesn’t even try to be understood, right now, as though it just takes more out of her than she has to give in the moment.

What she can, when she can. And right now, she can’t.

The pool room door slides open, and shut, and Sinclair looks over at Sarita when the Strider enters. She smiles. It’s less easygoing than before. “Hey,” she says. “Ready to get schooled?”

[Saschenka Neal] Oh, dare it she did.

“I’m fine.” Sasha answered smoothly, dropping her hand back to her lap and forcing herself to lift her head up. “It’s simply… been a long day.”

It’s not as convincing as she wants, especially since she was never a very good liar. Still, she has to save some face somehow in front of her fellow kin. Even if it wasn’t a very good save face.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] Now that’s just a cornucopia of swimsuits. Maybe even a smörgåsbord. Actually on further consideration, it probably does his smörgåsbord status. Ultimately, she’d chosen a simple black one-piece. She does know that Derek’s downstairs and she knows he’s kinds sweet on her. She has no intent to torment the poor boy. So that’s what she’s wearing when she slips into the pool area, the towel resting around her shoulders.

She grins at Sinclair. “Oh, I have no doubt I’m gonna get schooled. All the time I spent around the public pool back home was lounging and ogling lifeguard.s” A shrug and she sets the towel aside, then slips into the water.

[Derek Anderson] He had been lucky Sarita had decided to be modest, she might have killed him on the spot. Heh adn’t really thought she would be walking around in a swinsuit tonight. Anyway, his thoguhts come back to the person in front of his, a very nervous and lying Sasha.

“No you’re not”He say, answering Sasha in his deep warm voice “You don’t have to tell me the truth, but don’t pretend either, Well have have moments. It’s obvious why you were nervous and still are. If my guess is correct, breathe slowly, take it easy, you’ll be fine. Katherine won’trouble you if you don’t step over the line. And I doubt youwill” HE say with a smile

“YOu have friends to keep you in line just in case” He say with a friendly grin.

[Cold Victory] The truth is, Lukas doesn’t even know what that means. What you can, when you can. The subject is missing; the sentence is without a center, without an anchor, shiftless, its meaning locked somewhere in Sinclair’s mind, somewhere behind that facade of bravado and brutality she wears so well that it’s taken him this long to even begin to intuit its inherent thinness.

“Sinclair — ” he begins, but then Sarita is back, and the truth is there are tribal matters, and there are pack matters, and then there are matters that are personal, that are so close to the bone that they can barely be brought to light. Lukas lets the subject go as Sinclair makes an attempt at bluster; as Sarita, his newest sister-to-be, slips into the pool.

Well. He almost lets it go — “Let’s talk more later.”

[Saschenka Neal] Snapping at a kin is not a great way to start a clean slate so Sasha does take a deep breath and let it go, looking after at the other. She watches him for a moment before she answers calmly, “… I’m fine, thank you for your concern. And I’m sure people will remind me to keep in line, if I can’t somehow keep myself.”

It’s not very nice, to be irritated with someone who’s only trying to be nice. And, really, especially a Fang kin that’s being nice despite understanding she has a ‘reputation’ amongst the tribe. She also has to remind herself his last line wasn’t an insult, but an honest offer to help if need be.

Sighing, she closes her eyes and says more sincerely, “… thank you. I am fine though.”

The last line was almost a request- drop it, just for now, and he could ask all he wanted later?

[Derek Anderson] He nodded to her “All right Sasha, and i just meant you have me and Neda if you need help, support or anything. You don’t need a big brother or anything to remind you how ot behave. Nor do I. We’re all adults. I jsut want you to know I’m around if you need anything ok?”

He spoke calmly, looking into her eyes. He didn’t ask more details, didn’t push her for a more honest answer. He told her what he wanted to tell her. If she need anything, now or later, she new she could ask. It was her choice to do so or not.

[Saschenka Neal] It was uncomfortable having someone meet her gaze like Derek was and Sasha had to work on not looking away. No one had met her gaze like that in some time.

Smiling ever-so-faintly, she nodded. “All right. Thank you.”

[Derek Anderson] He nodded, breaking contact with her eyes “You’re welcome” He looked at her again, but more in a general way now “How are you settling in?”He ask her, glimpsing toward the pool area, jsut to make sure they don’t get jumped by Sinclair or something. At least, that’s what he tell himself.

He return his attention on Sasha as she answer, trying to look at the person talking to him as often as it’s possible

[Saschenka Neal] ((Night everyone… thank you 🙂 Sasha will leave after saying thank yous and goodbyes when Katherine returns))

[Brutal Revelation] There are a few things that Sarita can tell when she walks into the pool room again: that look in Sinclair’s pale eyes as though she’s just been drained of all energy, as though just talking and smiling and hanging out is significant work. That look Lukas has, that desire — if not outright need — to help her, to fix it, to make whatever is wrong better. The awkwardness of just not understanding, of not even knowing what triggered that rapid switch from Sinclair seeming okay to Sinclair having to work to make herself get up and walk over to the pool’s edge again.

She looks over her shoulder at Lukas when he says his name. There’s a severity to her with her hair back and wet like that, with her suit a racing variety, with her eyes so pale as to be ghostly. There’s not so much a vulnerability as an emptiness wrapped in a razor-wired shell, a glass sphere that could collapse under too much pressure,

but those are illusions.

There’s a look in her eye, though, that he’s seen when she’s come back from frenzy. A wildness and a fear, a holding on to whatever last shreds will help her claw her way back up. It isn’t bluster. It’s survival.

She just looks at him for a moment, then looks over at Sarita. Yes, it’s personal. Yes, it’s profoundly, agonizingly personal. It’s not something she’s talked about to Asha, for one. It’s not something she even spoke to Lukas about for months. But she does say this, at least, turning back to her Alpha. “It’s a reminder. To do what I can, when I can. But you can put whatever verb there that you want. Fight what you can. Give when you can. Speak. Breathe. Get out of bed. Smile. That’s why it just says what it does, and no more.”

As she’s telling him this, she has two fingers stroking down the inside of her left forearm, as though reading it like braille as she tells it to him aloud. “Because no one can ask more than that of me. And I can’t ask myself for any less. I’m not going to fucking slip off into harano because of this, but…” there’s a second or two of a pause, then a breath. “I’m sure as hell not going to try and tell myself every day that sooner or later I’m going to be fine. I’m honestly not sure I’m ever going to be what you’d call ‘over’ this. And waiting to be All Better and hating the fact that I’m not has been killing me.”

Her arms go back to her sides. “I know it’s hard for you seeing me like this, too. But I know talking about it isn’t going to change the fundamental problem. And talking about it isn’t really helping me get through it. Not when I know how badly you just want to… fix it.”

She’s at a loos for a moment after that, then exhales and walks back over to him, bending at the waist and putting her arms around his neck.

[Cold Victory] What is there to say to that?

Lukas doesn’t look particularly relieved. When Sinclair bends to hug him, slide those strong lean arms of hers around his robed shoulders, he’s unresponsive for a moment, frowning even as she’s leaning in. Then his hand comes up to cover her back, warm and large, patting once.

They don’t have the totem right now. He can’t nudge her across that bond and say what he wants to say, but perhaps she’s known him long enough to intuit it from his silence and his touch alone. And what he wants to say is not Okay or Thank you for telling me or I know you can handle it or even I trust you to do what’s right for yourself.

Just: Yes. I hear you. No more; no less.

When she straightens, Lukas’s hand drops away. Sarita’s in the water already. It might be odd for her to witness this, might make her wonder just what the hell was going on, really, with this strong, vicious wolf they call Warcry, and Brutal Revelation; this wolf that, word around the caern has it, is one of the stronger fighters in the Sept, and not without her share of controversy and notoriety. Perhaps Sarita hasn’t been here long enough to realize what an unusual thing it is to see Sinclair so…

well. Vulnerable. Fragile, almost.

“If there’s something I — we — can do,” Lukas says as Sinclair’s heading to the pool, “let me know. Even if it’s just listen. Or be there. Otherwise — well. I’m here.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] The sudden shift in dynamic took her just a second to notice, having been concerned with trying to not make the police officer in the other room uncomfortable. Sarita is a fairly empathic person though, and so as soon as her attention is more focused on the people in the room the about-face in the room’s mood is picked up on. Her brow furrows a little bit and she doesn’t lose a beat. Instead of the more playful tone she’s known for, she inobtrusively slides into the water. The ripples form around her and she takes a deep breath, submerging herself deep within the water of the pool and beginning to move through the water, her form staying close the the floor of the pool.

She’s not a great swimmer–she wasn’t lying about that. But she’s good at holding her breath and while she has nowhere near a great form to her movements, she’s able to move with some vaguely tolerable level of speed. She keeps on the far side of the pool from Sinclair and Lukas, getting used to the water and getting her swimming arms back a bit, motor memory from years before beginning to come back. Staying underwater also allows her packmates-to-be to converse without feeling like they’re leaving her out or being eavesdropped on. More comfortable for all.

[Derek Anderson] He talked with Sasha a little then let the blonde woman with her thoughts. He got up and walked to the window of the pool, leaning slightly sideways against it, watching the pack and future pack members interacting with each other. His eyes weren’t lingering on the women’s body. His initial surprise at seeing those two beauties with less clothes than he was used to, was gone.

No he was just watching them, witnessing a glimpse of Sinclair’s vulnerability? Affection? And Lukas’s almost paternal pat in the back, feeling like he had witnessed something forbiddeen, that could kill him. Well knowing Sinclair..it actually might. So he looked away. He had a few connections in the city, some people he was getting to know better, but no one particularly close, that will come over for dinner or spend their saturday afternoon with.

He smiled slightly, it’ll happen eventually, jsut ont now and seeing those two be so close, made him realized how new he was to the city to be lacking that kind of relatioship with someone.

[Brutal Revelation] She doesn’t let go for awhile. Probably not til after he’s already withdrawn his hand from her back, and then she’s slow to straighten, doesn’t instantly turn and walk away towards the pool. So she’s facing him when he says what he does, and her brows tug together, aching a bit — though for a different reason than before.

“I know that,” she says quietly. “I always know that, Lukas.”

Now moving away, she glimpses Derek peering at them through the glass walls, the crystalline clean doors. He’s looking away, though, turning his gaze from them, but her eyes narrow as she looks at the back of his neck. “Jesus Christ,” she mutters, walking towards the water and seeming to speak more to Sarita now. “You’d think they taught staring all the fucking time at the police academy or something.”

She slips back into the water, kicking off the side of the pool and propelling herself towards Sarita. “I see you found a suit that fits.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine emerges.

Her cheeks are flushed, and her temper cooling. She hands off the phone to Lucille, who stands ready to receive it with a comforting look in her dark eyes. She had witnessed more than a single argument between Katherine and her sibling. Usually, there was never a clear victor.

“Derek, I’m so sorry to leave you for so long. I take it Ms Neal was seen out?”

She steps toward the Kinsman; her face appearing alongside his, peering through frosted glass at her pack-mates.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s just come up for air when Sinclair is heading back for the water. “Huh?” She says it as her hands smooth over her head from eyes to hair, wiping excess water from her face. She blinks and looks over to Derek looking away, the corner of her mouth comes up in a vaguely amused smirk.

“It’s cute, in a ‘never gonna happen’ kind of way,” she says with a shrug to the Galliard. “He doesn’t mean anything by it.” She obviously holds the kinfolk no ill will. Truth told, the attention is something she kind of likes, even she’s not going to pursue it. It reminds her that she’s human as much as she’s other things, and unlike some Garou the humanity is something Sarita has never outgrown.

She smiles when Sinclair mentions the swimsuit. “I did, yeah…thanks. That’s a lot of swimsuits. I’m impressed…”

[Derek Anderson] He looked a Katherine with a smile “It’s ok Katherine, Sasha said she was sorry but she had to go. She appreciated the welcome, she’ll be around I’m sure. As for me, I was just passing by, like you offered me to. I didn’t expect you to have time to spend with me or anything”

He look back at her pack “You should join them, I don’t want to keep you from their company. From what I saw earlier, someone was missing you” He grin slightly as he remembered Sinclair on Kate’s back. It had been funny.

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair rolls her eyes as she moves onto her side in the water. “It’s annoying, in a ‘going to get his eyes torn out of their sockets’ way,” she says, almsot but not quite echoing Sarita as she cuts throught he water a few feet away. “I swam a lot growing up. And I went to a college that’s walking distance from the ocean, so.”

She shrugs, and looks over at Lukas. “You coming in?”

[Cold Victory] Lukas’s eyes stay on Sinclair’s a moment, frank and piercing. When she finally does turn away to join Sarita in the pool, he looks away as well. Derek’s looking through the pool room doors. Lukas eyes him a moment, then Katherine beside him.

He beckons: a quick, easy jerk of his head in place of some hand motion. Come in, the gesture says — an invitation, or perhaps simply a request.

[Cold Victory] Then, to Sinclair – “Nah, I’m going to chill out here a while.” The smile he offers is a little wan. But only a little.

[Katherine Bellamonte] “Dear me,” she retorts dryly, her arms sliding over her chest as she nudges open the door to the pool room with a narrow hip. “How esteemed you apparently consider my life, Derek to believe I have not even an hour to spend with my family. Come, come on.” She gestures with a turn of her long neck and slips inside the steamier room.

There is a definite tropical edge to the room where her pack-mates linger; some seated around the pool edge, some in the water itself; were it not for their combined Rage, it would be most pleasant in here with its birdsong, twittering and chirping from speaker somewhere, concealed by imported plant life.

The female Fang crosses toward her Alpha, stopping only to slip first one, then another shoe from her feet so they are bare as she reaches him. “Edward says hello,” she notes with a touch of weariness. “Oh, you remember Derek perhaps, Lukas? Kin of mine, a Detective on the force.”

Katherine pulls up a seat; and glances upward at the tall man, abruptly curious. “You must know Izzy Montoya, then? She is also a Detective here in the city. Have your paths crossed, yet?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ahh.” She nods in comprehension, doing an iffy but serviceable backstroke. “Yeah, not a lot of ocean property in New Mexico, so we only had the public pool, and yeah…repeat previously said sentence about summer lounging and lifeguard ogling.”

She stops moving through the water and looks over to Sinclair. “Where’d you go to college?”

[Derek Anderson] He wasn’t sure he felt entirely comfortable being around some of the msot important Garou in the city, but he couldn’t exactly say no. So it was with a smiel on his face that he moved with Katherine “Well, I jsut know you are a busy perso Katherine” he reply to her as the made their way to Lukas.

He offer a smiel and slightly bow to him “Good evening Lukas, I hope the night finds you well?” He ask the Shadow Lord, looking at him, without direct eye contact, as he always id with true born. It had kept him alive for 24 yrs, so he had no intention of doing otherwise, unless asked to do so.

His attention turned back to Katherine when she asked about Izzy “I have met her, twice. She’s a hard person to get to know, but we left on friendly enough terms the last time. We don’t work in the same precint but I assume we’ll bump into each other again” He kept his attention on Katherine and Lukas, doing a pretty good job not glancing at Sarita and Sinclair.

[Cold Victory] “Of course.”

The last time Lukas and Derek met — albeit briefly — was at a bar where half the Garou population of Chicago seemed to spontaneously congregate. Lukas was fully- and rather well-dressed then. Right now, he’s in square-cut swim trunks and a dark blue swim robe, broad-shouldered and athletic, looking rather like some olympian taking a breather by the side of the pool. His eyes are still the same, though, direct and cutting and pale. So is his handshake, firm and courteous.

“Good to see you again, Derek. You know,” the corner of his mouth tilts up, wry, “if you want to join Sinclair and Sarita in the pool, we could probably find you swim trunks somewhere.”

His eyes go past Derek then, rest on Katherine a moment. “Glad you’re back,” he says to her, quiet and simple.

[Brutal Revelation] “UCSD,” is Sinclair’s simple answer. “Just for about a year, though.”

She lifts herself up out of the water a bit to look over at Kate, smiling at the Fang. Then her attention goes back to Sarita. “Not a lot of Striders in SoCal. I haven’t met many members of your tribe, to tell the truth.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] “Very true,” Katherine says, turning her smiling face toward her Kinsmen.

“You are about the size of my elder brother, give or take,” she says, taking in his form, head to foot and returning with a sure, measuring glance. It cannot be entirely comforting, being eyed so by a creature like Katherine. “I am certain Lucille could track down something if you want to swim.”

A beat; Sinclair smiles out of the water at her, and her sister gives her a little quirk of her eyebrows, a particular gleam that is comforting for how Kate-ish the expression is, even if a certain sensibility lingers about her eyes in the process; tightens just so the edge of her lips.

To Lukas; it is a longer, steadier stare that he receives. Her eyes dip, briefly, to the ring on his finger and there, again, is a brief flicker of some emotion in her pale eyes. “Yes, well,” Katherine laughs her easy, empty Aristocrat’s laugh. “What wonders my father’s Sept held, it was lacking my own pack.

I will go back.” She breathes sharply, and runs fingers over her pant leg, smoothing already smooth material. “I will go back.” She re-affirms, quietly.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Ahh, cool.” She nods. “Passed through that area once. Didn’t stop. Looked like a nice campus.” In all honesty if there were a story there, she would tell it. The Ragabash has more than her host of stories filled stories of her (or, more recently, her and Amy) passing through interesting areas or having misadventures. San Diego, however, is not one of those cities.

She is getting her waterlegs back a little bit, and she’s not having to try so hard to keep afloat. “Yeah, I hear that one a lot.” The words are in reference to Sinclair not having met a lot of Striders. “We wander so much, it’s tough to catch a lot of us. Especially since, like most tribes I imagine, we have a fair number who avoid cities. Best chance of running into us is if one of us passes through a sept. Otherwise you’re gonna have to hope to find us in random encounters at rest stops or elsewhere on the road.”

[Derek Anderson] He shook Lukas’s hand firmly, certainly not even trying trying to crush the man’s hand. It was jsut a good handhsake. He wasn’t entirely comfortable having Katherine appraise him, but he didn’t show it. Instead he smile to both elders “It’s fine with me to go into the pool but I certainly won’t get in unless I have their permission”

Not to mention the fact Sinclair might just kill him for finding himself too close to her. Granted they were at Kate’s so she mgiht not do it right away. She could just wait later. So he turned to face the two women in the pool “Would you mind some company?’ He ask, looking at their face, just not staring at them in the eyes. But he didn’t look away, unless he had to move his head slightly to look at one then the other

[Brutal Revelation] “You’re not just passing through though, are you?” Sinclair says, swimming towards the side of the pool now, draping her arms back, elbows resting on the concrete. “I mean, you’re considering joining the pack, so… I figured not, but do you really intend to stay for awhile?”

[Cold Victory] As Derek moves toward the pool, Lukas’s eyebrows flick together faintly. He gets up, swim robe rustling against itself lightly. The pool’s huge, and a quiet conversation at one end is easily out of earshot of the other. When he inclines his head toward the perimeter, inviting Kate for a walk, he may as well be asking her for a private word.

If she falls in beside him, it’s a little while before he says anything. When he does, it’s simply: “Do you remember when I first challenged for Ahroun Elder?”

[Katherine Bellamonte] She does fall in beside him, the sleeves on her sweater pushed up her forearms; a slender wristwatch slipping over the delicate tendons in her wrist joint; her fair hair bound back from her face and neatly coiled with a clip at her nape. She expressions her thought at his question; her shoes left behind so her feet make little noise beside his step.

“I believe that I do, yes.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “Oh, I’m staying.” She says it with a definite nod. “Listen, my Tribe wanders. And there are some very good and very unfortunate reasons why we wander. But even with that being said…and as much as I love life on the open road….”

She shakes her head. The truth of the matter is evident on her face…its weariness. The Latina may be a mirthful woman, but when she thinks about taking to the road again, there’s a wary dullness to her deep brown eyes. It isn’t an easy life, and it can’t even really be explained to people who haven’t done it, or at least moved consistently. Army brats, Romani…they would understand it perhaps the closest. She doesn’t quite have the words to express all this properly, so she just smiles, and finishes the sentence with:

“…it’s time for me to settle. It may not be home, but it’s somewhere I can believe is so.”

She looks up at Derek when he asks about whether he can join them, and a bit of the amused glimmer hits her eyes again. She gives a shrug, looking over at Sinclair. “What do you think?”

[Cold Victory] “I lost,” Lukas says: ever blunt about the obvious. A few steps later, “It sucked.

“To tell you the truth, even now, I’m not sure I … ‘deserved’ to lose, I guess. What I mean is: I’m not sure I wasn’t the best candidate there, regardless or whatever reason Hatchet passed or failed me on. Maybe that’s my pride speaking, or maybe it’s just the clarity of retrospect, but I cannot genuinely, without false modesty, say that Bones to Dust was a better Ahroun Elder than I would have been. Than I am.

“But here’s the weird thing. If I had won that day, I wouldn’t have been as good an Elder as I was when I won months and months later. It wouldn’t have been driven to be as good as I became, and am still becoming. I would’ve been exactly the sort of Ahroun Elder I showed myself to be that day when I lost — strong, dominant, willing to teach and train, but ultimately … not really seeing the big picture. Not really one to try to weave the Sept into a united force.

“It took losing to teach me about unity. And it took losing to teach me the humility I needed to be a better leader. To really see beyond my pride and my ambition to what really mattered.

“And sometimes I think Hatchet knew that. I think he didn’t fail me because I wasn’t good enough, but because he knew I could be better.”

They’re halfway around the pool now, and Lukas slows, turns to face Katherine. “My point is this,” he says. “I think sometimes we don’t get failed because we’re failures. Sometimes we fail because our elders know we haven’t achieved the potential we could yet. And it’s their painful way of egging us on. So… yeah. I know you’re going to go back. And I know you’ll succeed this time. But I guess what I want to say to you is that sometimes failing is more important than succeeding. And there’s no shame in failing with honor if you learn from it.”

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine is quiet as Lukas speaks. She does not interrupt him, or seek to protest anything he tells her because she knows too well the truth to his words, and perhaps has known since her return to the city days ago the reason why Nobility’s Burden denied her a more advanced ranking.

When Lukas stops, turns to address her the Silver Fang mirrors his action without thought; it is liquid smooth; even without their totem the sons and daughters of Perun are well synced. They are so familiar now, especially this pair, who were once bitter rivals and by right of their birth tribes alone should have remained so, that they become reflections of the other. She takes a moment, Katherine and a hand reaches up to brush aside strands of hair in a bewitchingly human fashion.

“I understand why I failed, Lukas. I am not entirely saddened because I did not get to take my little rank badge and toddle home here again the triumphant child.” There’s a brief lift of her shoulder, in surrender, perhaps, to the honesty of her words aloud. “I am saddened mostly because I am not nearly half as ready as I believed I was. Oh, I can judge with the best of my auspice do not get me wrong, and I know the Litany backwards and forwards in two languages.”

Here a brief smile, a shake of her head.

“I can see honor when its there in someone, and I value I am becoming a better judge in many things, my own sanity included but I was so focused on proving something to everyone at that Sept. I was so sure I would march in there as Christopher Bellamonte’s daughter and conquer a new ranking. I was so focused on the outcome, that I did not see half the ways I was failing those I was there to help.”

She nips her lower lip, thoughtful, eyes distant.

“I am sorry that I lost, and in turn that we lost Perun for a time, but I am more sorry that I failed myself.”

[Brutal Revelation] Briefly, her eyes track Katherine and Lukas walking around the edge of the pool. There’s an ache in her gaze, a longing to be included, to be near, to be with them. To not be cut off the way she is right now, because of —

There’s no blame, there. No recrimination. Just loss. Just a sharing in it, a sorrow for Kate, something. She can almost hear Lukas, though. She knows that look in his eyes, the way he’s watching Katherine. For a moment she’s only half-listening to Sarita, dragging her eyes off of her other packmates to look to the Ragabash once more.

Play a good hostess. Make new friends. Get up out of bed. Put one foot in front of the other. Breathe.

Sarita asks what she thinks, though. Sinclair frowns, peers. “Huh?” She didn’t hear Derek, apparently, or was pointedly ignoring him. She glances over at him, shrugs at Sarita as her gaze comes back around. “The hills are alive with the sound of all the fucks I do not give,” she says, and there’s an undercurrent of wrath to it the likes of which Sarita hasn’t yet seen in her and which Derek, to be honest, does not deserve from her. But there it is: something almost like hate, and hearing it in her own voice, she pushes against the edge of the pool and draws herself up out of it once more.

She takes a steadying breath, rising to her feet from a fluid crouch. “I’m sorry, Sarita — it it wasn’t obvious when you came back in, I’m kind of –”

There’s no words. Except the ones on her arm. And the one she said she wasn’t going to give in to, that dark term living in the backs of the minds of any Garou unfortunate enough to descend into wolf-killing depression. Harano. She won’t, she said. But whatever is going on with her, it’s bad enough for that to be a real fear for her, a real enemy to fight against.

She’s sorry she’s so… even if she has no way to finish that sentence.

“I need to go be with them right now,” she says. “And I know that’s rude and you might feel excluded and da-da-da-da-da but I also have a feeling you’re not the butthurt type and you’ll get over it pretty fast, so… you swim, whatever, you know you can crash here and Kate would probably be ever so stoked if you did, but… I’ma go over there now,” she finishes, leveling a finger at Katherine and Lukas. Dropping her hand, she does exactly what she said,

and walks around the perimeter of the pool to her packmates.

[Derek Anderson] He almost grinned at Sarita;s tone when she asked Sinclair then heard the other woman’s hate in her voice. Oh he knew Snclair didn’t particularly like him, in fact, he was sure she disliked him. He never thought she hated him. Well it was fine, she had the right to, even if he wasn’t sure what he did to her, beside the fact that he was kin.

He watched her go then gave Sarita an apologetic look “Sory, I didn’t meant to chase her away. I should leave. I’m not sure I should be around your pack after all” He put his hands in his pockets “Well..it was good seeing you again Sarita. Tell the others I bid them good night”He say with a little smile at her.

It’s not that he had to go, but beside Sarita, they weren’t his friends, in fact they probably could care less about what happened to him..except Katherine, for whom it’d matter if what happened to him reflected badly on her. With a nod to Sarita, he started to head toward the door.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She looks the woman over and there is no measure of being upset in her expression. She completely understands. She doesn’t have packmates, but she has a sister. And of course she knows it’s not the same…but in some ways, it is. She knows, in some fashion, what the Galliard is feeling, and she’s been there. Recently, even.

So no. There is no butthurt. She just looks at Sinclair, and she nods. “Go,” is all she says, and when Sinclair is headed on her way, he looks back to Derek.

“Relax, big guy. You didn’t chase her off.” She watches him, head cocking to the right. “That’s not you. A’ight?”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] [[SHE. Ugh, stupid missed letters.]]

[Derek Anderson] He look in the drection of the three packmates then look back at Sarita with a small smile “Kinda looked that way though. So, want some company? Seem like you might be alone for a few” He ask her, looking down in her direction. “By the way, how are you doing? You seemed in a better mood than last time we saw each other.”

Well to be honest, the mood she had been when she arrvied for when she left, her mood had been consierably better..even despite what he almost told her. LUckilly, he had kept his mouth shut, even if Sarita knew what he had been about to say

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She grins and shrugs, pushing off from the wall and doing another poor backstroke. “There’s room if you’re interested.” She smiles a bit and shrugs. “And I’m cool. Been a shit ton worse. How ‘about yourself?”

It’s vague, perhaps. She’s not being incredibly open with her sharing at the moment. But she’s not looking especially guarded, either. She just has a natural vagueness about her sometimes. As Lukas and Sinclair have learned tonight, not sharing an enormous amount is just second nature and habit for her.

[Cold Victory] It’s Lukas’s turn to listen, and listen he does: quietly, with hands lacing loosely behind his back. His mouth moves faintly when she speaks of rank like a badge; of herself as a child. He grows serious again as she speaks of her father, that shade always standing in the shadows, a measuring stick made unmatchable by death.

“You shouldn’t be,” Lukas says as she apologizes to him. To the pack. “My tribe and my tribe’s totems don’t tolerate blind failure. But that’s not what happened here. You strove for something; you failed; you understand why you failed and you’re learning from it. There’s nothing to apologize for.”

He reaches out, chucks her gently under the chin. “Chin up,” he quips quietly, and then looks beyond Katherine as Sinclair joins them. “Hey,” he says — smiles.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine is not ignorant of the goings on within her own pack; above and beyond what has been occurring with her own challenge, with Lukas getting married to his mate in the most human, traditional sense, beyond this she has been aware like a flickering candle on her windowsill, threatening to extinguish yet dancing for her all the same as if demanding its light be recognized by her eye; has been Sinclair.

Has been Sinclair’s own anguish; her own struggle.

When she comes to join them; when Katherine is done canting her Alpha a rather lopsided, girlish gleam as he chucks her beneath the chin like a boy and tells her to buck up, to keep her chin held high the Silver Fang turns her eyes on her sister and opens up one side of her body for the other female to come to dock beside. An arm curls around her, and Katherine’s perfume invades her senses.

The essence of Chanel and powder and whatever else Katherine kneads her skin with to keep it smooth and unblemished. “I did see my father’s grave.” She admits, with a great deal of love in her voice; more in fact, than they are accustomed to hearing. “I heard stories of him I had never before.” She tilts her head at Sinclair.

“I shall tell you them, and you will remember him too.”

[Derek Anderson] He smiled to her “Glad to hear you’re doing ok. I’m doing good myself” He was used to her vagueness by now and it was fine. He never really pushed her further. She knew he would listen if she wanted to talk and didn’t need to remind her everytime “I’ll ask Lucille for trunks. I’ll be back in a few minutes”

He headed out to find the woman, asking her about Katherine brother’s swimming trunks. Hr followed the woman and she found him a black and green pair with a towel, then left him so he could change. He did so quickly grabbing the towel and making his way downstairs.

If he looked in shape when he was dressed, well not there was no denying it. His shoulders were big, well defined as were his back, arms, upper body and abs. He wasn’t absurdly cut, but there was no extra fat at all on his body. His torso was shaved and looked smooth but solid, as the rest of him was. The trunks were low, slightly under waist level, making the start of “V” shape at hips level so many women found sexy, apparent. He wasn’t flauting as he walked to the pool, he was jsut walking as he always did, back straight, looking straight ahead, making him look..almost regal..even in swimming trunks.

He smiled to Sarita as he got in the pool “So anything new?

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] “In all honesty?” She shakes her head. “Nothing new with me. I hate to kill my own mystique, but I’m becoming a remarkably boring person.” She gives him a smirk, still backstroking her way around the pool.

“Just smokin’ cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo, as Bruce Willis said.”

[Derek Anderson] He chuckled at her then smiled “Playing solitaire with a deck of 51 too?” He say moving almost effortlessly in the water. He wasn’t the swimmer Sinclair was, not was he a beginner. He didn’t too close to her, just moving around the pool

“And to be honest Sarita..you are a remarkable person…just not boring. I doubt that it’s genetically possible for you to be boring.” HE grin “Not with those wits of yours”

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair moves into the crook of Katherine’s arm when she comes up alongside her as though this is what she was going to do all along, would have nudged Kate’s elbow out of the way and wriggled her way in even if the taller woman hadn’t made room for her so naturally. And it is: so natural. So much family there, instant and warm.

Katherine is aching from her failure, but she’ll recover, stronger than ever. Sinclair seems… less. Not less intense, not less good at what she does. Less herself, as though bits and pieces are slipping away into the gnawing hunger she’s been carrying around inside for months now. Nothing seems to appease it, nothing seems to heal it over. Not even the comfort that comes so naturally when she leans against Kate quite touches it.

She speaks of telling Sinclair tales of her father, to which Sinclair nods. “The story of your challenge, first,” she says. “The rest, later.” But that’s sort of All Business. It’s her duty and her calling; she’s never deviated from that.

One has to wonder, though. Her pack can’t save her from this. Battle hasn’t saved her from this. Her duty hasn’t saved her from this. Lukas is at the point of being at a loss, nothing to do but ache when she aches, watch her shrink into her misery. Katherine, first of the pack to be told of her heartache, knows just how long Sinclair has already been living with this, and knows just how little progress has been made in the last several months.

Sinclair, still leaning against Kate, reaches over and takes Lukas’s hand.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She blinks at what he says, a brow arching high. “Those ~whats~ of mine?” From the way that she says it, it doesn’t look like she thinks he said “wits.” Close, but no cigar. “Wanna try that again, partner?”

She’s looking mostly severe. But if Doug looks close enough, he can see the hints of a grin at the corners of her lips, and the mischievously amused gleam in her eye.

[Cold Victory] It’s not easy, watching his sister sink so inexorably as this. To stand by and, with all his strength and power, be utterly unable to do something. To fix it. To help it.

One of the more bitter lessons Lukas has had to learn is that sometimes he doesn’t have all the answers. Sometimes he can’t keep his mate from being afraid of him. Sometimes he can’t protect his packmate from all harm. Sometimes he can’t get everyone to just stop being idiots and work together. Sometimes — keeping that flame going, keeping it burning in the chambers of his own heart, is all he can do.

Still: Sinclair takes his hand. And he squeezes her fingers gently.

[Derek Anderson] He blinked and stop swimming, luckiy for him, he was tall enought to be able to touch the bottom of the pool and keep his neck and head out of the water “What? What did I say?” He watched her carefully, even as he notice the amusement she’s trying to hide, he frown, trying to remember what he said that could have almsot anger her.

“I said with those wits of y….” He tilt his head and looked almsot shocked “Awww come on Sarita..you know I’d never stay what it could sound like” He say, watching her “Well, I hope you know.”He shook his head “I was talking about your mind. For real”

He flashed her a mischevious smile then just pushed water at her using both palms, making a pretty big wave that would splash over her.

[Katherine Bellamonte] Katherine leans her cheek against the side of the Glass Walker’s head. She breathes out gently, and Sinclair can feel the other wolf’s breath stir strands of hair. She can feel the warmth of the Silver Fang’s arms banded tight around her shoulders, her hand idly resting on a shoulder.

Brutal Revelation reaches over to take Lukas’ hand; and Katherine, her eyes trained on her Alpha’s face with the intent detail of her auspice; of a sister; but more exactly of a long time friend reaches over and chucks beneath his chin with her fingertips. “Chin up, Wyrmbreaker,” she murmurs quietly, and allows her fingers to stray for a moment over his cheek. Stray to his earlobe and tug at it with an affection born of long standing knowledge.

Of a certain intimacy that makes it at once so hard and so inviting to newcomers to the Unbroken to look upon.

I want that, some think at once as they wonder how can I penetrate that?

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair is, as before, soaking wet. But Katherine doesn’t pull away now any more than before. No, rather she holds onto the Glass Walker, laying her cheek to that saturated hair. Sinclair doesn’t tuck her knuckle under anyone’s chin but breathes in Katherine’s unique scent, blended together with perfume, powder, with the way her clothes always smell so clean.

They were a very different pack, when she first joined them. She was a very different wolf, and so was Kate, and Lukas, too, though the changes in him are more internal, less obvious to those who don’t know him so deeply.

She and Lukas hold hands. Katherine tug Lukas’s ear. And after a moment, Sinclair wriggles away from both of them and flaps her hands, going “YeaaaEEECH. Any more gooey-sweet and I’m going to turn into a kindergarten teacher, mother of god.”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She cackles when he figures it out, sounding a little disappointed. “Aww, no fun. I was hoping to carry that on for a good solid minute, at least. She grins and winks at him. “In all seriousness, thanks. I appreciate it.”

Over on top of her duster, the Strider’s cell phone goes off. More specifically, the phone plays Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.” She sighs and swims to the edge and pulls herself out, walking over. By the time she gets there it’s chirping a voicemail message. She checks it, listening.

[Cold Victory] At that, Lukas bursts into laughter. And then, so quickly that poor Kate doesn’t have a chance to react: he seizes her around the waist and tosses her poolward.

Cannonball!

[Derek Anderson] He smiled at Sarita’s deception and her thanks. “Well you know me..I”m sharp..once in a while and you’re welcome” He watch her move ot her duster and let her listen to the voice message.

He was swiming around when Lukas literally threw Kate in the direction of the pool…he quickly swam away to clear the spot where Katherine will land.

[Katherine Bellamonte] There’s a shriek, and a very loud splashing before a scowling, sodden Half Moon appears from the depths of the water; narrow-eyed.

“Destruction, Shadow Lord.” She spits; and lobs one of her discarded sandals at his head.

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair is good at many things. And breaking an otherwise unbreakable moment — ignore the pun, if you pretend it wasn’t there then it doesn’t matter — is something she’s good at. So she gags on how cute and cuddly and warm and intimate and loving they are, and Lukas immediately responds by throwing Katherine in the pool, and Katherine makes them both very happy by reacting just as they knew she would.

Sinclair is also good at swimming. The pool is deep, and she takes two quick steps to the edge and dives in as though she was once one of those lifeguards Sarita might have ogled — though, of course, with breasts instead of rock-hard abs and a sexy v-line — and for a moment there’s nothing but the rapid blur of red underwater as she darts towards the Silver Fang

grabs her ankles

and dunks Katherine under again. She lets go almost immediately, bobbing to the surface and yelling — as though aware retribution is coming any second: “SARITA! HELP!”

[Cold Victory] And of course, on land, Lukas dodges the sandal with an exaggerated, hands-over-head crouch. “You won’t saddle me so easily with an ignoble death by shoe, foul Fang!”

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She’s just setting the phone down when she sees Katherine go FLYING at the pool. There’s a moment where she’s actually confused–did someone attack here and she didn’t notice?–before it sets in. Her eyes widen, a big Cheshire-sized grin on her face. She sees no possible way that this is ending well.

And she loves that fact.

“To the rescue!” She has no idea who she’s rescuing at this point–perhaps she just hasn’t decided–but it doesn’t stop her from taking off in a dead run and jumping in.

[Brutal Revelation] “Jesus, man, careful how you crouch, YOU’RE WEARING TRUNKS. Fuck!” Sinclair yells at him.

[Derek Anderson] And suddenly the pool was filled with playful packmates. He made his way to the edge of the pool and smoothly got out of the water. The man was graceful for his size and was quickly out. HE walked to his towel, letting the the true borns enjoy themselves. He watched them with a smile on his lips. It was quite entertaining.

[Katherine Bellamonte] “I’ll do far–glugag!” The pretty, fair haired Silver Fang is yanked in a highly undignified manner back under the water and erupts back out as Sinclair is yelling for help; launching herself at her sister with the laughter best suited to — well, honestly — the age she looks to be. Twenty-two, beautiful, care-free.

“Down with the Glass Walkers!” She shouts, splashing, dragging Sinclair beneath the water and turning as she falls backwards again. “Come here and say so, usurper!” Thankfully, she is underwater when Lukas so graciously flashes them all. There are some things Katherine would never recover from.

[Cold Victory] So —

the creatures currently splashing about the pool are the Philodox Elder of the Sept, a Fostern Galliard, and one of the more clever Ragabashes to come around for a long while. The creature at the side of the pool, accused of potentially flashing more than he intends with his duck-and-crouch, suddenly gets a gleam in his eye.

Sinclair knows what’s coming by the way he whips his swim robe off. She has enough time, at least, to close her eyes and start hollering uncle before Lukas turns around, drops his swim trunks, and gives the entire pool a hearty full moon.

[Brutal Revelation] Sinclair, knowing what’s coming even without the benefit of totemphone, lets out a shriek and dives underwater again, wriggling away below the surface so Kate can’t get a handle on her. She may still be screaming underwater. There’s no way for her to beg anyone to tell her when it’s over.

[Sarita Ecos de la Risa] She pops out of the water, catching her breath as she laughs. Then she turns around…and is struck by the image she sees. “OH GOD, MY EYES! Sweet Merciless Loki Himself, my poor tormented eyes!!!”

Said eyes are covered dramatically and, still giggling, she desperately turns away.

[Derek Anderson] He was watching the women in the pool and turning his eyes he saw was couldn’t be undone..the Elder mooning them all. He quickly his his eyes with his towel “Sweet mother of god” he say softly. Yup, living around true borns was dangerous…he never knew how much until tonight.

He shook his head and directed his attention at those in the pool.

[Cold Victory] “You so asked for it!” Lukas yells, shaking his — quite frankly — lily white ass at the pool. “You so totally asked for it!” And on that note, the Ahroun pulls his trunks back up, takes a running leap into the pool, and tucks his knees to his chest at the last moment for a genuinely

huge

cannonball splash. Sarita doesn’t get very fall, turning away. Lukas — just like he promised not to — grabs her and dunks her, letting go an instant later to backpaddle out of the way, laughing.

[Katherine Bellamonte] The ruckus goes on for quite some time in this manner — Katherine’s shrieking, Lukas’ lower pitched laughter coupled with Sarita, Sinclair and Derek; watching perhaps before later on, forgetting for a moment what he is in relation to these creatures and leaping into the fray.

While outside, passing by, Lucille peers into the pool room and her lips quirk; she shakes her head and wanders past, basket of laundry under an arm.

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