ATTN: ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE. [seven-related!]
#1
After the dust settles,

-- does the dust ever settle after something like this? after a handful of Cliaths, safe and secure under the protection of one of the most well-organized, resourceful, intelligent Septs around, suddenly stand horrified w to the guardians of that Sept turning on each other in ways that will scar their nightmares for years to come -- does the dust settle? do the scars heal? or do they simply harden and knot over with time?

it's a lie, by the way, that scars are stronger than unscathed flesh. they're not. but: for the sake of argument, or perhaps sanity, we'll pretend they are. we'll pretend flesh heals, and scars fade, and dust settles --

after the survivors have healed each other and comforted each other the best they can, after that horrid night has passed into day: the Sept evacuates. They take out rooms at a nearby hotel. They seal off 1999 Broadway. And of course there's some room or some suite somewhere, someplace where the wartorn survivors can gather and regroup. Because -- true; it's dangerous to congregate right now. It might make them a target. It might be safer to go to ground, to scatter, to fight a guerilla war. But that was never the way of the Garou. Their instincts run toward packs and hordes. Toward coming together, standing strong in numbers, and toward fighting back.

That's what brings Erich here. He comes fairly charging into the room, or the suite, or wherever it is the survivors have congregated. He's not alone. Unless one or two or all have strenuously objected, he's got Charlotte, Ingrid, and even Melantha with him. He's put out word to others, too. That other Ahroun from the moot-before-last, that friend he made fighting for Wyrmfoe. That other Shadow Lord. And that Uktena. And that Bone Gnawer! And really: anyone and everyone he knows, anyone and everyone they know, and so on and so forth, until the growing gathering kinda-sorta starts to resemble

a warmoot.

--

"So... we all know what happened, right?" That's how he starts, perched on a stool from the suite's breakfast bar like some flesh and bone gargoyle. "Some of us were there when it happened, but most of us heard from someone else, at least? Has anyone been able to get ahold of the Warder? Or, y'know... anyone important from the Sept?

" 'Cause if not, I think maybe we need to start figuring out what to do ourselves."
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#2
Melantha is, in fact, there. She's uncomfortable there, pulled back from the tiny house outside the city and hugging her arms around her chest, but she's there, looking uneasy. Younger garou sniff at her sometimes, or stare at her, even with her hair in a ponytail and her body hidden in a hoodie and not a drop of makeup on her face, because she sort of smells like the best thing they have ever smelled ever omg, but she tries not to notice and she certainly tries not to bare her teeth at anyone for it.

She heard about what happened. She just looks horrified by it, and... well. Helpless.

--

Most of the garou in the room are young, in fact. Cliaths and Fosterns, a few cubs sneaking away from their mentors. These are the garou who are new to the sept or who just haven't risen very high in its ranks. There are a few from Forgotten Questions, too. They are all here for the same reason:

like Erich, they've begun to suspect -- to believe -- that actually, no,

the elders do not have all of this under control.

There's some noises among them when Erich asks if anyone has been able to get a hold of the Warder or Sept Alpha or Master of Challenges or anybody, really, who runs Cold Crescent. They're all still at the sept proper, cleaning up and only really allowing Theurges and a few others to come in and help clean up.
my whole life is thunder.
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#3
Sam is not there. The kinswoman of Cockroach has recently been indoctrinated into the world of, "Guys you have to give me some notice so I can find a babysitter." She doesn't have a regular one yet, and she's not going to trust any old neighbor child to look after her particular child.

Phoebe is not there. She's at 1999 Broadway, draining herself dry summoning the good spirits to help drive out the bad. She is draining her essence and her will to the last drop, or resting, so that she can get up and do it again. And again. And again.

Ingrid is there, though, making people uncomfortable with her very presence. She is slender and graceful and elegant and poised and there is something not quite right about her. Something that makes her Other, that puts people - particularly kinfolk, particularly the mortals that wander the corridors looking for their rooms - on edge, makes them think she's going to rip out their jugular because she's hungry.

She's not hungry, though. She looks more herself than the last time Erich saw her, her color has returned, her dark eyes are cool and distant. There are faint circles under her eyes, though. Her mask of impassivity - less a mask than most people realize - has been cracked.

"They are there," she says quietly, standing somewhere against a wall, arms folded around her rib cage. "They shoo us away like children. But they are there."
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#4
Here is Charlotte: at Erich's side. She is a slight creature and a fae thing, perhaps 5'5" now, but still - those who have known her for some time think that she might still be growing. Might grow, somehow, into the strange and gangly promise of her long-limbs, might lengthen if not fill-out. She is more skin and bone than muscle and sinew but muscle and sinew are visible in her skinny arms only because she has to little body fat to conceal them. Arms like sticks and a gawky, boyish frame made more boyish by her clothes and the blunt cut of her platinum hair, which is dyed pink at the ends and freshly so.

With Kool-Aid, not crushed beets or beatles or the dried blood of her enemies. Erich at least knows that secret now.

She is wearing a raglan t-shirt in heathered green with darker green bands at the collar and cuffs. It says SPRITE on it. There is a dark smear of something at the hem in mostly the shape of a hand but this is not blood. Jeans, old and fitted, and a woven friendship bracelet around her bony left wrist and a pukka shell necklace around her throat and a longer platinum chain that disappears beneath the collar of her t-shirt she looks like an awkward, ordinary nineteen-year-old bird-boned and hollow-faced and wide-eyed enough that with another four or five inches of height she could be a model and with another four or five years of good solid growth in her: of healthy food and exercise and growing up and breaking hearts and being heart broken and laughing at the moon and crying sometimes in her pillow and getting drunk and making missteps and recovering from her goddamned missteps, she could be a lovely young woman.

But she is not a young woman.

She is a wolf, and she is -

achingly

pure-blooded.

Haloed in silver, outlined in a corona of gold. Garou see her: awkward and too-human girl. And they see her promise and her madness and her doom, the fragile and glorious shadow of oh her many ancestors, distilled just so, into a fragile vessel of skin and bone, moon-mad eyes, pink-dyed hair.

They do not see but likely Erich and Melantha, at least, can sense the presence of another consciousness, in and around and under her skin. For Charlotte it is like being half-swallowed by a ghost, this deep breath and then: double vision, old hands, old memories, an old spine. Makes her stand up rather more straight, lends her a steadiness she would never otherwise exhibit.

As now, when she glances sideways at Ingrid as the no-moon remarks that the Warder and elders send them scurrying like children. Then, back to the Ahroun, the others in the room, whoever has come.

"We should try to figure out how they were possessed. And how to protect ourselves from such possession.

"Maybe we start at the place where Champion of Honor was recovered. See what's gathered in the umbra. See what the walls remember. Find a thread and find a thread and find a thread and follow it."

--
ze roll for purposes of confidence and clarity and later applications and knowledge:

liz @ 7:16PM

Charlotte: Ancestors / Ancestor Ally (reaching for Heart of Winter)
Roll: 2 d10 TN6 (4, 8) ( success x 2 ) [WP] VALID

Umbralwind @ 7:16PM

Sure!

Umbralwind @ 7:19PM

Nice roll!
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
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#5
There is another there, sitting in an armchair as though this is her room and not the room of some sept-dweller or four being put up for the time being by that same sept. She sits in surprisingly casual clothes, white shorts and flat-soled white ankle boots made of leather so supple and fine it must be from some poor creature that only exists to provide clothing for the wealthy. Her top is cut to gracefully, demurely draw the eye directly to her cleavage, forcing one to constantly remind oneself of the rules of gentlemanly behavior, good god sir her eyes are up here. It is mostly made of silk overlaid with lace. The room is cool with conditioned air, but her hair is pulled up in a ballerina-esque bun in deference to the heat outside. The diamond set in her pendant only looks tiny if one is comparing it to something above 2 karats.

Her legs are crossed. Her arms are draped over the armrests of the chair. She is holding an iced green tea that has two leaves of muddled mint inside to complement the honey. It is not a Starbucks cup but a glass one made to seem like a portable to-go cup from a similar establishment. That glass cup is etched on the front with her monogram, though it looks almost like a business logo, with A S M stacked to the left of a very large, elegant C.

Avery sips her tea while a few others talk, listening. After Charlotte offers a suggestion, an idea, a firm we should, Avery glances around, looking to see what other ideas there might be.
my whole life is thunder.
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#6
Not merely cliaths and fosterns and the exiled and the lost but: some few kin. The word drifts, filters. Moves, mouth to ear and ear to mouth and back again. The building is closed. It matters little, Baranski & Greer maintains a satellite office, and the satellite is very specific to the very specific subset of Éva's criminal defense practice, and the more circuitous shadow practice that has her traveling some months twenty days out of thirty, to inauspicious locales in half-remembered places, where the law and the Law intersect with the unfortunate realities of Life as They Know It and her own first law is not to vigorously defend her client, but to protect the Veil.

But see,

here. A hotel suite, a conference room. It hardly matters.

Éva arrives late; later. Slips in through the door and circles the edgy crowd of young Garou. She is more than twice the age of the youngest cliaths, who are all more adult in the eyes of the Nation than she. By now, any sting that that awareness breeds in her is well-hidden behind her dark eyes. Actually, any sting is gone. What she feels, when she feels anything for them, strangers all, is a vague sense of compassion.

They are all so monstrously young.

--

She is: composed, dressed in a dark and formal business suit that is well-suited to the air conditioning and to hotel conference rooms and to marble-floored courtrooms and cheaply-paneled hearing rooms and also: to the sleek modern formality of contemporary jails but not at all to the heat outside.

There is a hint of perspiration at her temples. It is warm outside. She has not been sheltering in this motel. She made a choice, and chose to come here.

Someone else had to sort out her schedule.

--

Éva does not sit. She stands comfortable on the outskirts of whatever circle has formed in expensive leather heels that are more than two but not so much as three inches. More leather over her shoulder: a purse and a briefcase. This is like to be a long meeting, so she does lower the latter to the floor and rest it against the wall.

There is a hint of breeding to her. Just enough to confirm their first impression - that dark eyes and clear features and dark hair and that sort of remove and composure means: Shadow Lord. Perhaps some of the Fosterns know her as Andraj's mate. He's been dead for more than a year, and most of those in the room know him not-at-all.

--

"Have you perhaps considered," when she does speak, she does so evenly and well. Her voice is modulated, quiet enough that one has to <i>pay attention</i> to hear, precise enough that it cuts through the white noise of the room. " - asking, not where they are, but what they want. With an office building, at 1999 Broadway, in Denver, Colorado, which is something, but is not-a-Caern.

"They do not attack Forgotten Questions. They were chased away and have an entire continent on which to practice their depravities, but they came back here, and fixate, once more, on Cold Crescent.

"Which was not always," the most minute lilt of her dark brows, "ours. The Nation purchased the building in 2005. What was it - whatever it is, that singularity you have found - before that? Have they focused themselves with such exacting fury merely because it is a home for us in this city, or because they want it, want to take it back, because they dream of it, need it, wish to use it as some magnified focus and terrible focus to - "

There is something fierce there, and driving, and steady, and ferocious and then she pulls it back. Cuts it off.

A beat.

The smallest, sparest smile. Apology as much as anything else.

"I don't know. I don't see the world the way you do. But perhaps you should start looking for answers not out here," a lift of her chin, northeast, in the direction of 1999 Broadway. Specific enough to suggest that she is aware of her exact orientation in the nameless and faceless suite-or-conference room. "but in there.

"Perhaps it is wrong to try to puzzle out the motives of an unreasonable and and monstrous enemy. Perhaps the motives matter not a whit. Perhaps they are motive-less. I don't pretend to have anything to offer you except questions."

With that, she steps back. Cedes the floor, to whomever else might speak.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
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#7
Erich has a seat sort of close to the door, where he can see who comes in. Where he can, if need be, hold the line and keep out the forces of darkness if they come for them here.

Or well. Try, at least. But a nice side effect of sitting there is that he gets to see all the forces of light that come filing in, too. So he sees when Ingrid enters, and that's when his face brightens noticeably! -- but only momentarily. He nods her over beside him, though if she goes find herself a different dark corner to skulk in he doesn't complain. He sees when Avery enters, too. She gets a fistbump. Understated and a little surreptitious, but it's there. Offered, anyway. The rest of them: he doesn't really recognize anyone. Maybe that other-Ahroun, his rival-friend, who gets a quick hike of his chin. He looks at everyone though, trying to remember their face, their smell, some detail about them that will separate them from others.

Some of the Cliaths sniff at Melantha. She doesn't bare her teeth at them, but Erich does, and vociferously, growling in his chest every time a stray eye, ear or nose wanders her way.

--

Charlotte isn't just-Charlotte today. She is Charlotte-plus-one, and that makes Erich a little nervous. He remembers what happened when that other plus-one of Charlotte's showed up, and what a catastrophe that almost became.

This plus-one isn't a screeching disaster, though. This plus-one actually speaks sense. And Erich listens, and looks around to see how everyone else takes it. Then he raises a hand. "If you're going back, I can provide some cover. Just in case the place is crawling with Them."

--

Later, a latecomer: Eva, dark of eye and hair, smelling very faintly but unmistakably of Thunder. And Erich, completely forgetting that he was growling at Cliaths and cubs to stop sniffing Melantha, sort of stretches out his neck and sniffs at her as she walks in.

She passes him. Finds a place by the wall. Sets down her stuff and Says Stuff. Pretty sensible Stuff. It sparks a memory in Erich, who raises his hand again like a schoolboy or something.

"You know," he says, "I should've mentioned this earlier, but a couple of us ran into a couple of Them a week or two ago. At a bar? That was when we picked up that lady with the broken hip and her baby. They were with one of Them. And he actually... talked to us? I mean, he kinda almost had a conversation with us. He talked about how he was just trying to make the world good for his kids, or something. Or well no, he talked about how he was going to burn the world down so his kids could have a brand new start. Pretty crazy shit, but." Erich shrugs. "Anyway.

"Point is, then we attacked him. Well, I attacked him. Which I probably shouldn't have, because then he almost killed us all. But that was the weird thing. He could have, I think. It took pretty much everything I had just to make him bleed, and, look, maybe I'm not some Elder Ahroun? But I'm not a wuss. He was just like a TANK. This is really scattered. What I'm trying to say is: he was way stronger than anyone had any right to be. But he didn't kill us. He just... literally burned the bar down around us and left us alone.

"So... this is kinda going off what she said," he nods at Eva. "Maybe what's in there is just the old world they're trying so hard to burn down. Maybe they're trying to take apart all the structure and familiarity we have, leave us leaderless and lost. And then we'd be easy pickings. Not to kill, but to corrupt. 'Cause that's kinda what they've been doing with all the people we've been picking up from them, right? Corrupting the lost and aimless."
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#8
Lola Hawkes has her way of hearing about things like this. The Sept of Forgotten Questions was abuzz with the news, so of course the Kinfolk Guardian knew. Eddie told her about this moot, told her where it was and when to be there. She was appreciative enough to offer him a ride along with her, but the Skald had declined as now more than ever he needed to stay and make sure the Bawn was secure.

So Lola had driven into town with Hector-- he'd tried to tell her that the warmoot was happening but Lola was a few steps ahead of him and had already gotten a cousin to look up directions for her so she could write them down and know exactly where to park the truck and which doors to go in. They arrived about ten or so minutes before this meeting was set to begin, sat together wherever there was space left for two people to sit, and listened to what was being said.

--------

When Lola felt it was time for her to share her words, she lifted one hand with the palm out toward the room, almost as though she were flagging them down for their attention (not so much raising her hand, nothing about her came across quite so juvenile as that). She didn't stand, though. Her voice carried well enough that she didn't need to be a head above the other sitting bodies in order to be sure that she could at least grasp a flicker of their attention.

"Hector here told me about that incident," she said with a nod toward Erich. "I also heard about the attack on that caravan taking the Cub from Cold Crescent to Forgotten Questions. Heard about the one still in his human body stopping the van full-force with just his hand."

She sniffed some, but didn't seem uncomfortable speaking to a room full of Garou. Her tone and body language could almost fool those who have never seen her before into believing that she was one of them-- it could work were it not for the lack of Rage or Spiritual Forces within her flesh and blood body, were it not for the humming promise of strong hawk-eyed children in her blood.

"What if this isn't just some very clever, very strong pack of Black Spirals? Maybe they've made pacts beyond the Green Dragon, ones that we don't really have much knowledge of yet? I'm worried they're not just Black Spirals anymore-- that maybe they've merged with something worse on the Otherside and brought it here. Or maybe they've mutated into something beyond that...."

Her words petered out, and she rolled her shoulders in a shrug and leaned back a little more in her chair. "Just a thought," she concluded.
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#9
Keisha does not attend the gathering, as much as she might like to in order to provide her insight. Like her packsisters, she is too busy with the act of dealing with the spiritual backlash of what went down at Cold Crescent. And when she doesn't have that on her plate she's been learning the Moot Rite and preparing so she can lead the opening howl for this month's gathering.

===================

Alexis, for his part, is spending his time supporting the pack which holds his (reluctant) protector. While the Desert Oracles expend every ounce of their energy and mind into helping the Cold Crescent do clean-up and more, Alexis makes sure that the Desert Oracles don't falter. He goes on food runs for them, offers them his home to set up in if they need somewhere closer than their own homes but choose not to stay at the hotel for whatever reason. Sees to anything that they might need beyond that. And he has a job to hold down as well, so he is not present at the meeting either.

===================

Javed is there. The Iranian metis arrives and sits near the door to, like Erich, provide a potential first line of defense should anything take this moment to strike. The Strider doesn't draw Erich's ire by sniffing in Melantha's direction. He doesn't know most of these people and those he does…well, he probably doesn't recognize. All metis have their curses, including him. But he recognizes Ingrid's voice, and he listens to the voices of those he doesn't.

And when he listens, he absorbs everything that they have to say. He takes in the fact that the Elders are still there, just not answering questions. He listens to Charlotte suggest that they start where the now-dead Guardian was recovered from and follow from there. He hears Eva ask a different tack of questions; she doesn't ask how but why. And Erich speaks up again, suggesting a possible reason.

When he takes that moment to speak, it's in a baritone with enough rasp to avoid it being crystal clear. His diction is excellent and he speaks in the precise English but heavy accent of someone who has extensively learned the language as a foreigner.

"With due respect," he says to Erich, nodding his head to the other Ahroun. "That seems very much a possibility. The Wyrm scorches the Earth with its foulness, leaving no ground left to go to. No rescue, no safe haven. But there is a safe haven, even if the city sept falls. And, as I understand it, one they have failed in the past to capture. I would think they would choose, if they were strong enough, assault the Forgotten Questions and send people to the Cold Crescent where there is no Caern and into the city, where their people are stronger. And they certainly seem strong, if these tales are any indication. The Wyrm is madness and its servants are mad, but that seems—if you will excuse my saying—a bit more than madness. It's poor tactics."

He takes a breath, then speaks again. "There were those, I understand, that found Champion of Honor with only a single guard easily taken down within the city. And then Champion of Honor was brought back, soon after which his packmates destroyed themselves. One has to be purposeful of the other; they must have expected that we would try and perform a rescue, and they planted what was essentially a bomb. This is an enemy that fights with cunning and intelligence, not poor tactics.."

He turns his single-eyed gaze back at Erich. The Strider's mind is trying to work tactically, puzzle these seemingly random things out. "He attacked you, and though he was incredibly strong he did not kill you. I think it is important to ask why. A happenstance encounter, or did he intend to have something happen? And if so, the question is what?"

He looks to Lola when she speaks up, listens to her describe another incredibly powerful member of this group. He frowns, considers. There's a conceding nod there…it is entirely possible, as far as he knows. But he has nothing of experience in the way of Spirals who have become something more, and Javed only speaks when he has something to add.
"The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
"Good men don't need rules. And today's not the day to find out why I have so many."
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#10
With Phoebe absent only one alpha sits in the room and he has been silent this whole time. Not as if he doesn't want to be here but as if he isn't used to being in group situations with Cliaths from other tribes and the entire thing is beyond his comprehension so instead of participating he's just observing. He's slouched down in a chair beside his kinswoman and has his arms crossed low on his body and when he speaks up it's after clearing his throat as a warning.

"I think he was just minding his own business," Hector says to Javed, "and then we pissed him off, and then something made him stop before he could finish us off."

He's wearing that Off In Lala Land look writers and other creative types get when they're in the midst of a first draft. It won't go away until he tells The Tale of Sam Evans, Baby Stealing Badass at the next moot.
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