Prologue – The Furious Angels and the Prodigal Ahroun
After the death of Barb Tongue at her claws, Shera Breaks-the-Maze-Walls left her packmates to their grief and shock looking for Heath Cole Seeks-the-Spirals, elder Philodox and Truthcatcher for the Sept of Sweet Rock, to confess her crime and seek forgiveness, or perhaps redemption, in her own death. Moved by a seeming mixture of pity and outrage, the Philodox did not condemn her to death, as she expected, but rather to public censure, humiliation, and exile from the Sept as a non-entity for a full moon. One might call her lucky, and in some respect, that might be true, but really, if it weren’t for bad luck, Shera might be said not to have any at all—the Furious Angels, Fianna storytellers and performers, had been scheduled for some time to show up to the upcoming Moot. Now she could be sure that her Tribemates would spread word far and wide of her crime and lingering shame. It’s not that the fall from grace was unexpected or that it was unfair—true though it may have been that all of her pack members that had been present that day had some part of the burden of guilt to bear, try though she might to find someone else to blame for what had happened, it did not satisfy her conscience, and she would spend the following month drifting in and out of a black numbness, cold as winter.
As Shera began her time of banishment, Jason Claws-Like-Oak-Spears, fully recovered from the damage done to him by the pack’s last encounter with a Black Spiral Dancer, relieved One-Eye-Joe, pack Philodox and Bone Gnawer who had been Alpha since the challenge between Shera and Barb Tongue, of the position of Alpha and resumed his duties in that post. Joe was only too happy to relinquish the responsibility, and afterwards took leave of his pack to do work with the homeless and destitute in the City until needed, or until the next Moot. Marie Unweaves-the-Web, Glasswalker and pack Theurge, occupied herself with some super secret unspecified something, and was largely absent from the Caern, preferring to reside in the City proper with her Tribe.
As the next Full Moon drew near, the Caern prepared for the Moot. The Furious Angels had been in residence for the month, and were set to participate in the Moot as their farewell to the Sept. They oversaw Shera’s Rite of Contrition and re-integration into the Caern and wove tales of woe and glory to entertain and incite a Revelry that was no less sorely needed than it had been the month before. Afterwards, Shera took time away from the Sept to join her Tribe for further “re-education”, while Joe and Jason resumed their former activities.
One week later – Moon Phase: Waning half
A confluence of events set Joe and Jason on the same path. Joe’s ally in the Trinitarios gang, Nico, informed him that several gang members have gone missing in one area of town, and asked Joe to find out more about what was going on. Jason’s Kinfolk Anja was also missing, making this issue not only personal to him, but a potentially larger and more direct threat to Tribe and Nation. Was the same person or group behind all of these disappearances? If so, were they aware of Anja’s status as Kinfolk or what it meant? Could they have been targeting her because of her status as Kin? The Galliard and Philodox went to the City to get some answers, and Mother Larissa was good enough to open the Moonbridge so that they could collect Shera and return to the City to investigate further, so long as they “brought treats” when they returned. It is hard to say whether it was his Metis nature, or if perhaps there were some other reason for his forgetfulness, but Joe failed to relate this rather critical requirement to any of his packmates until they had returned across the Moonbridge and Shera had already parked her bike nearby. Fortunately for everyone involved (but for the fact that she would no longer have it, and possibly how her Tribal Elder might take it if he found out), Shera had managed to pilfer a draught of Oberon’s Brew from Riordan Cliffgrazer while she was with her Tribe. Having nothing better to offer (though that was no mean gift), the Ahroun grumpily handed it over to her Bone Gnawer packmate with a stiff warning NOT to drink it, as she “dinna have the antidote”. Mother Larissa, unsurprisingly, knew exactly what was in the flask without so much as unscrewing the lid, and took the chiminage approvingly. She also knew exactly where the pack needed to go to find the answers to the mystery of the missing gangbangers and Kinfolk (before you ask, Mother Larissa knows everything—I think she knew God when He was a boy).
After thanking Mother Larissa and leaving the Sept of the Green, the pack made their way down to the area of town that she had specified. It was run down and poor, and gangs warred over that turf regularly…until recently. When knocking on the door of the house in question produced no occupants, Jason took a peek across the Gauntlet while Joe went around back to take a closer look at the rest of the place. Joe found a backyard that was surprisingly high-tech and clean, and Jason saw a place that was solidified with the Weaver’s strands, little high-voltage spiders skittering around everywhere. It was clear that they needed to get inside, and so Shera, putting her formative years to good use, picked the lock on the door and they went in.
The house was what one might call ‘selectively dusty’ on the inside—that is, it had the impression of being long abandoned at first glance, but if one knew where to look, the signs that people were around frequently were very apparent. After a glimpse around the attic yielded only human waste and other charming odors, the pack attempted to open a locked door inside the house—only to discover that it was aluminum and locked with something a little more technically complex than Shera could handle. While she fumed about it, her Alpha did what Garou do best, and applied sheer muscle and mass to the door, which was not constructed to withstand such an application. (It had this in common with most doors, although given what was within, this was a dire and surprising oversight on the part of the builder.)
As soon as the group entered, Shera could feel the presence of the Wyrm pulsating from within the chamber, a Song whose strains she still knew by heart and, as a musician can identify his work on hearing even the faintest single note, she would always be able to hear. To say her packmates had no idea would be to do them an injustice, as Garou are wont to attribute most things to the Wyrm, but her abrupt shift to War Form left in no doubt what she did not say. Aware of her Rage and distress, her Alpha nonetheless was in complete command of the situation, taking pictures and evidence before she destroyed it in an effort to purge the evil they all felt nearby. As the destruction (and appropriation) reached a high point, the pack was ambushed by creatures that might have once been human, but bore little resemblance to that now. Fleshy rubber (or rubbery flesh?) ensnared Joe and Jason, blinding and choking them. Shera was able to get the better of her would-be captors, rending them to ribbons, but she lost control of herself to the flow of Rage, and although she did not fall into the Thrall of the Wyrm, her inability to do anything more than direct her violence against enemies rather than allies meant she had little success in helping her packmates escape their bondage. Their change into Crinos also did nothing to free them immediately, but liberal application of tooth and claw was decidedly effective. Their enemies routed, Shera collapsed, overcome with Rage. Jason and Joe collected the evidence they had found, including whole human bones, letters from a Dr. Goode to a Mr. Stopheles, and gold and silver nuggets.
The trio departed once Shera had recovered herself, shifting into the Umbra so that they could depart unseen—a trove of human bones and a pair of living, naked humans was just more than any of them cared to try to explain. They had enough to explain as it was, but Shera said she had a story in mind and was going to check in with a friend about pulling it off. Once back at her motorcycle, she was able to clothe herself with a spare set she always carried in the saddlebags (she learned early in her Garou life that being a ball of Rage meant that she lost more clothes than she cared to admit, and having an extra set was generally a good idea). Joe was somewhat less prepared in that regard, but the Sept of the Green was close, and Mother Larissa was sure to have something somewhere, anyway, even if only a blanket, and would certainly want to know what they had discovered.
Shera knew that the pack had probably been observed breaking in to the house, and they had not been seen leaving, so the possibility that someone was going to (or already did) call the police was good. There was also the gory mess to be explained. She decided to call on her Tribemate, Stuart Stalks-the-Truth, to help her fabricate a cover story that went something like “A group of young PETA activists had heard about such-and-such gang house where they were breeding and fighting dogs, and went to confront the breeders and (if possible) rescue the dogs. The rescue of the dogs proved too late, as the winners had been sold, the losers were left to die, and the breeders had somehow heard that they were coming or were just not there when the group arrived.” While willing to help, Stuart seemed less than able, given that he was dealing with other issues, both personally and professionally. He suggested that he could scratch her back if she scratched his, but warned her against involving PETA or their name in her cover story unless PETA stood to gain from it; Stuart described PETA as a good ally and didn’t want to strain their relationship with the Garou Nation. He suggested he might be able to help her more if she could provide him with a little extra power. She took his phone number, shook his hand, and walked out of his office wondering how the hell she was going to pull this one off.