when all other lights go out [attn: jess, kenna]
#1
20 december 2013
Houston, TX


Gears of War, Spark Gap, Fostern Full Moon, child of Cockroach twice over and member of the Sept of the Unending Horizon, awoke Friday morning to his mate shaking his shoulder. He had slept through dawn and had intended to keep sleeping through the rest of the day. Last night the culmination of several moons' worth of hunting and scouting and training led to the clearing of a Wyrm nest festering out in the desert and the celebration afterwards had more than one member of his pack suffering from a hangover this morning.

"Corey," Naomi whispered.
"What?" he asked. The pillow muffled his voice.
"Corey."
"Whaaat."
"Get up."
"I don't want to."
"Get up."
"Why?"
"Your mom just called."

His mother was the Master of the Challenge of the Sept of the Unending Horizon. An Athro Half Moon deeded Never by the Nation. If she called it was always in one's best interests to get one's ass out of bed and promptly.

Corey groaned and turned his head to look at Naomi. The apartment was dark with the blackout curtains in place but he could still see the expression etched into her face. Part amusement and part trepidation.

"What happened?" he asked.
"Hector's at Unending Horizon."

---

6 months earlier
Winnipeg, MB


The Wendigo of the Sept of the Red Hills howled for them because someone had to howl for them. Celduin's Uktena Galliard laid down a promise he would come for the bodies and perform the rite that night but he did not come that night. His sister Cinder Song and his alpha Gears of War stood with their backs to the wind and they watched the Gathering for the Departed. They watched these furious strangers speak of the deeds of Hornet's Nest and First Light and bang the drums and guide their spirits home.

Only Hornet's Nest did they ever speak to in passing. Eyes in the Dark, too. But she had been dead six moons now. First Light was a big bearded Wyrmbringer for whom they had no use. After this Celduin had no reason to ever come back to Sept of the Red Hills.

Tamsin wanted to wait for Hector. Corey wanted to wait for Hector too but the Ritesmaster of this place could put them both down without blinking an eye. So fire consumed Maria and Glen's bodies and wind took the ashes. They waited that night and most of the next morning for Hector. Corey almost left him there.

He came out of the woods towards dusk holding his knapsack down at his side like a weight too heavy for his limbs and Corey's eyes flashed a warning before he tore away from Tamsin's side to meet him.

"Where were you!"

Hector didn't answer. Corey shoved him. Hector scowled like he'd banged his shin into a coffee table in the dark and dropped his knapsack but kept his silence.

"I said WHERE WERE YOU!" Hector didn't answer so Corey shoved him again. "ANSWER ME, asshole!"
"Who cares?"
"Excuse me?"
"Who cares where I was?"
"I CARE. Jesus Christ, Hector, Tamsin cares. You were supposed to do the rite and you fucking vanished for two days! We're lucky they didn't throw us off the fucking land when you didn't show up! ASSHOLE."
"What is this, a You Shirked Your Responsibilities lecture?"
"YOU DID SHIRK YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. They're dead, dude! They're fucking dead. You're a Galliard. You were supposed to send them off and a sept full of people who didn't know them had to do it!"
"Like it even matters to them who does their gathering. They're fucking dead. As long as it gets done they're going the same place."
"I can't even fucking believe you right now. THEY'RE YOUR PACK."
"You wanna talk pack? Really? You wanna do this right now?"
"Do what?"

Hector shoved him then.

"How about not taking your pack across the Gauntlet when you got two of 'em telling you they can feel how strong the Banes are from the realm and it's a bad idea to cross over? Huh? Wanna talk about that? How about it was your responsibility to keep your pack safe and you were like NOPE. NOT TODAY. I GOTTA PROVE HOW BIG OF A BADASS I--"

So Corey hit him. He wasn't trying to knock him out. It was a bad punch if one wants to talk technique. A wild swing aimed too low. The crack of the Galliard's jaw breaking was sharp and sudden as a winter branch collapsing under the weight of too much snow and it knocked Hector to the ground. The Glass Walker was a head shorter than the Uktena but they stood in the same weight class. Corey was a wall of muscle and he had trained from childhood to fight with his fists as well as he fought with weapons or his claws.

Hector sat stunned for a moment and Corey was about to turn around to tell Tamsin it was alright, he was fine, let's just get in the car and get the hell out of here when Hector got to his feet. They fought hard and they fought over the protestations of their Fianna sister and when the fight was over Corey stormed off. He got in the car and he got the hell out of there.

And Fog grew thinner that day.
And Celduin arrived in Colorado two weeks later.

---

Word was the Sept of the Cold Crescent was under attack and housing a structure of unknown origin and significant value to a pack of Black Spiral Dancers bound under Green Dragon. A Cliath Galliard of the Sept came through the moon gate that morning and brought with him a tale of the assault on the Sept and the deaths of so many. The rites they interrupted and the damage dealt to the Beloved Horror. What they knew about the portal and what they didn't know about the portal.

Later news of the elders' fates will trickle down from other Septs. That a Fostern will be the Great Alpha of that Sept because of what happened already. But it will not come from the Uktena child of Fog. He kept that secret from them though he told them everything else.

Corey heard bits of the story as he made his way through the Sept but he did not stop to ask anyone to give it to him in its entirety. His headache abated with the coffee and aspirin he slugged down on the way in and by the time he reached the conference room where the Ragabashes and Galliards had spent part of the morning he did not feel as though his brain was going to pound its way out of his skull.

Sitting in one of the wheelie chairs at the head of the big table is the Uktena he'd beaten within an inch of his life six months ago. His hair was so long he had to pull it back into a bun and he hadn't shaved his face in several weeks and where before he was all soft-bodied bright-eyed manic energy a stone stillness had settled over Hector's body. Corey hardly recognized him as he stood on the threshold watching him rub his brow with one hand and scribble in a journal with the other.

"When the fuck are you gonna cut your hair?" Corey asked.

Hector looked up sharp. Took his hand off his brow and stopped writing. His nostrils flared and his eyes were wide not with terror or anger but clear shock. Silence hung in the air for a few seconds and then he laughed a sad laugh and set down his pencil and pushed back from the table. He hadn't grown any taller in six months but he looked bigger somehow. Not as young as he did at the beginning of the summer.

"When you don't need a booster seat to sit at the table," Hector said.
"Fuck you."
"No no. Fuck you."
"No, please, I insist."

They stood in front of each other for a moment. Corey's arms hung at his sides and his shoulders held themselves straight while Hector stuffed his hands into his pockets and shuffled his weight between his feet. In spite of his short stature the Glass Walker looked ready to lead a team of Navy SEALs. He wasn't the alpha of his own pack anymore. The alpha of Celduin looked wracked with nervous energy he could do nothing about.

"I'm just here on business, man, I'm not trying to--"
"Hector, it's fine."
"So I'm not gonna punch you again."
"Okay. Good."
"I mean I'm not gonna hug you or anything either, I just--"
"You're having trouble up north."
"You heard about that?"
"You've got the biggest goddamn mouth this side of the Mississippi. It's all over the Gee-Dub Net already and you just fucking got here. Yeah, I fucking heard about that."
"Oh. Okay. Cool."

The clock on the wall did not tick but Corey could feel time passing like a kidney stone and so he took a breath and jerked his head to indicate Hector should walk with him.

"I got something in the truck I wanna give you," he said. "If we're making up or whatever."
"Are we making up?"
"We probably should."
"Yeah that might not be a bad idea."

So they started walking. The elevator was slow to arrive but they weren't exactly in a hurry so they waited for it instead of taking the stairs. Hector was looking up at the floor indicator with tension slashed through his muscles when Corey spoke again.

"Look, Hector, I--"
"You really don't have to say anything."
"I kinda do, though."

The elevator dinged and opened its doors and they stepped inside it. This was a Sept where Kinfolk grew used to the press of Rage against the steel beams and drywall or they stopped coming at all. It burned hotter out here so close to the border where the leeches thought they owned the desert and monsters came up out of the water glutted on waste and ruin. Houston was not an easy city to love. It was harder to defend.

Corey punched the button that would bring them to the parking garage in the basement.

"I fucked up, man," he said. "I fucked up real hard. If I'd listened to you and Maria she and Glen would still be alive."
"You don't know that," Hector said.
"Well, I know it wasn't the wisest thing in the world to go after both of them at once. I was wrong, and foolish. I gotta live with knowing it cost us two Garou to take down two Banes."
"Yeah, well."
"And you and Tamsin have every right in the world to be pissed off and hate me until the end of time. I handled that like shit."
"It was a long time ago."
"It was six months ago."
"Six months was a long time ago."

The elevator glided to a halt and the doors crawled open. The garage was not choked with cars. So many of the Garou lived here but their vehicles were nestled up against the far wall. Those who were just here to visit parked closer to the elevators. Kinfolk served as security for the building and the fellow on duty this afternoon lifted his hand to wave to Corey as he passed. Both males waved back.

"Well I'm sorry. That's all I'm trying to say. I hurt you and I hurt Tamsin and I'm not proud of it. I wish I could go back and undo it but I can't. Alright? I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry too."

They paused at a black pickup truck that Corey had to stand on tiptoe in order to unlock the passenger door. He hauled open the door and climbed up to open the glove box.

"You know those dumb rings you and Tamsin made us all wear?"
"They weren't dumb," Hector said.

Hector was still wearing his on his right thumb.

"Whatever," Corey said. "They were nerdy."
"Okay, there aren't any dumb nerds. Nerds are smart. And they weren't dumb or nerdy. It's the Ring of Adamant. Galadriel wore it. It kept Lothlórien safe from everything except for Sauron and Sauron was so scared of her he never even tried to go to Lothlórien. Dick."

Corey jumped down from the truck and clapped the door shut. Grabbed Hector's wrist and turned it so it would open and dropped the things he'd carried with him from Winnipeg into his palm. Threaded onto a ball chain were three white gold bands with white stones in the center. The stones in Hector's had long since fallen out and the others were in just as bad of shape. The lives of the bearers had not been easy.

"Well," Corey said, "whatever the fuck they are, I don't want them anymore."
"You had these the whole time?"
"Well, yeah. The fucking Wendigo were nice enough to let us prepare the bodies before the rite when your dumb ass didn't show back up. I would've given them to you when you got back but then you thought it would be a good idea to try and fight me."

The Uktena took a damp breath and let it back out in a hard sigh.

"Shit," Hector said.
"I'm not gonna hug you if you start crying."
"I'm not gonna cry."
"Good."
"Do you remember the time Glen threatened to quit the pack because Tamsin and I stayed up watching all the movies all night?"
"That really doesn't narrow it down, man."
"At Willow's sister's house. Near the Sept of Bygone Visions. We were hopped up on cherry Pepsi and M&Ms and Glen was all annoyed because we kept trying to recreate the Battle of the Hornburg at breakfast but we needed a Gimli and he wasn't having it."
"Was that the time he threw Tamsin in the pool?"
"No. That was the summer after that."
"I remember that. That was fucking funny."

Hector huffed out a laugh and tucked the trio of rings into his pocket.

"He wasn't really going to quit," he said. "He just didn't know what we were talking about."
"Nobody ever knew what you two were talking about."
"They will now. Tamsin's up north telling everybody about the pit."
"You fuckers really need the help, huh?"
"Nobody has any clue what this thing is. Don't be a dick, see if you can pull up anything on the computer."
"I'm not gonna be a dick. I'll call if I learn anything."
"You will?"
"I just said I will, didn't I?"
"Yeah. Alright." Hector sniffed hard like his sinuses were bothering him and jerked a thumb at the elevator. "I'd better get going."
"Thanks for stopping by, man."

He let the Uktena walk about ten feet before he called after him. The call turned Hector around but he did not come back.

"Hector?"
"Yeah?"
"Are we cool?"

And Hector thought about it before he answered. Like he didn't want to say they were cool if he still wanted to spit every time he thought about the other male. After a handful of seconds he laughed and played at a smile. It made him look bemused by his own answer.

"Yeah, man. We're cool."

Corey waited until Hector had disappeared inside the stairwell before he climbed back into the truck and drove off towards home.
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
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#2
December 21st, 2013
Just outside Caditz, Kentucky
7:18pm


Rain poured down in fat rapid drops that smacked hard and relentless if you were stupid enough to expose bare skin to them. Winds had whipped and howled on again and off again, depending on the pocket of the storm that Lola was driving through, ever more southbound with each passing hour. She was about an hour away, maybe less, from getting out of Kentucky, and was determined to make it another five hours at least before letting herself park the car and sleep.

She's been sleeping in the car, by the way. She'd left The Homestead yesterday mid-morning and spent her first night off on a dirt road about ten minutes off the freeway, thirty minutes outside of Kansas City into Missouri. Anthony had gifted her and Hector with his old Subaru, so Lola had folded down the seats in the back and wrapped herself up in several blankets before drifting off to sleep. The night was cold even with the multiple covers and warm layers of clothes that she wore, but she survived it unscathed.

She stood now pumping gas into the blue Subaru Forester that she'd already driven partway across the country over the past two days. She stared with unfocused eyes forward at the numbers ticking up in dollars and gallons both, and contemplated what, if anything, she should buy from the station inside before she drove away.

She was also thinking of where the gun should go while she slept so she didn't put herself in risk of rolling onto it, but could still access it quickly and easily.

She was thinking about how her first meeting with one of Hector's relatives (if you exclude that time she beat up his great-grandfather) was going to go.

She was more nervous about how the second sister and the city she lived in (New fucking York, god damnit) was going to end up.

The numbers on the gas pump read $32.22 when the pump clicked and the flow of gasoline cut off. Lola blinked the world back into focus and went about the duty of replacing the nozzle in its holster on the pump. As she moved, a figure was brought to her attention in her peripherals. She looked across to the other row of pumps to see a man somewhere in his early thirties, dressed in a windbreaker and sweatshirt and ball cap. He had paused while circling back to the driver's side door of his car and taken his open time taking in the view from behind of the Kinfolk.

When she looked back and made bold, challenging eye contact, the man blinked like he was surprised. Yet rather than breaking his eye contact or pretending he wasn’t watching, he raised his light eyebrows at her, smirked a crooked-toothed kind of smile, and nodded his head upward at her. Hey girl, the message was clearly portrayed. I like what I see.

Most women would ignore it. He was harmless provided he stayed at his car and didn’t say anything to her. He wouldn’t be worth the energy. To Lola, though, this was two things—one, an opportunity to stretch her legs and let loose some of the stress and tension that she’s been feeling. Two, insurance: the only promise that this man wouldn’t follow her in his car and make things worse for her and himself both was to make sure he had no desire to follow her in the first place.

She wore sweatpants with the waistband slung low enough to accommodate for her growing belly—the elastic would cut uncomfortably into her otherwise. There were sneakers on her feet, and she had a zip-up gray hoodie on whose zipper was pulled near her collar bone, with the hood itself pulled over her ears. She looked exactly like someone driving across country does—dressed for comfort and nothing more. Still, you would think she was wearing steel-toed boots and leather, the way that she cut across the short distance between her car and his; some Saturn sedan that has probably seen two or three owners before him. He was smirking even wider when she walked toward him. He could see the aggravation in her, but had no idea of the storm that would follow.

“Fucker, you got a problem keeping your eyes off my ass.” Lola didn’t phrase it as a question, but as a statement instead. She’d stopped herself within two or three feet of the man. Close enough to attack, but not quite in his face just yet.

The man – Jason, said the workplace badge that dangled from the rearview mirror inside his car—was thirty years old, give a year or so. He had sandy hair that sat flat close to his head, sticking out at odd angles under his hat. He wore the hat because he realized half a year ago that his hairline was receding and he wasn’t sure how to cope with that yet. He was average in stature in every way imaginable—a little lanky, but not especially tall or strong. He was taller than Lola, at least, so that helped him feel more superior when he crossed his arms over his chest and curled a condescending smile at her and drawled out in a twang that could only be found in rural Kentucky.

“Ohhh ah had no problem. Juicy thang like that hard ta miss, even at a distance.”

Lola’s eyes flashed. She always expected humans to cow and tremble and back down when confronted. She managed to be a little surprised when that wasn’t the case, but surprise was nearly always washed away with indignance all too soon. She took two more steps forward, brought herself uncomfortably close to Jason, enough that he uncrossed his arms and brought them out to his sides. His hands were open, fingers splayed, like he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to grab onto her or try and push her away. Any other time a strange woman came this close to him it was to grab his dick through his jeans and name a price.

This one, though, all she did was bare her teeth like she was some kind of fucking animal and keep on fighting.

“Boy, you’re gonna fuckin’ eat them words.”

“Wha’h? Yew got some big husband inside the store gonna come make me?” He looked over her head toward the store front, where a frizzy-haired attendant was watching them warily through the glass, waiting to see if she’d have to call someone to sort this out or not.

Lola wore no ring on her finger. He already knew the answer to that question.

“Rest assured,” she snarled out near enough that the cloud that her breath made curled around his cheeks and ears. “This ain’t no one but you and me. And this is your last fuckin’ chance to put your eyes down and not say another fuckin’ word. If your inbred brain has two brain cells firin’ together, you’ll be smart enough to take the chance.”

A shadow cast over the man’s face at his point. Lola didn’t have the Rage that her cousins carried, so humans weren’t warned away from her by nature and instinct. This man had no reason to believe that some Mexican bitch with sloppy clothes and unwashed hair would be able to do anything but use sharp words. He had plans to grab onto her forearms and give her a good shake—not to actually hurt her or anything, just to scare her some and remind her of her place. But as soon as his hands lifted from his sides and his shoulders and overall posture shifted forward, Lola reacted.

Her fist wasn’t especially fast—proximity had made things more difficult. Jason had time to see what was happening, but he was cocky. He didn’t think she would do him much harm at all, so he waited for his chance to beat her back and be able to claim that she attacked him first.

What he didn’t account for was how well she knew how to make a fist, or that she knew exactly where to hit him to make it hurt, or that she carried as much strength in her strike as she did. Her fist pumped into the bridge of his nose, dead on, and broke it on impact. The stinging sensation caused white lights to flash in his face, and Jason was too dazed to react immediately. Stunned, his knees buckled and he dropped down into a crouch, bringing one hand up to cup his face, stretching his jaw and blinking his eyes hard to try and get past the sharp white-hot sting.

Lola didn’t give him a chance to recover. She seized him by his windbreaker and the sweater underneath and hauled him up to his feet. She was stronger than any woman that Jason had encountered before, he’s never watched a woman throw a full grown man’s weight around before. Yet, Lola got him back up to his feet without trouble, and slammed him into the side of his car hard enough that his head rolled back and his shoulders and spine ached where they’d hit.

Lola wasn’t trying to beat him unconscious. She just wanted to leave him with a lasting impression. So she stood against the man who was held against his car. One arm was pressed into his chest, holding him up and in place. One knee had pressed itself between his thighs, uncomfortably close and threatening to his groin. Her free hand knocked his hat from his head and seized his thinning hair so that she could jerk his head back and bare his throat to her. She was going to have submission whether he reached that point himself or if she had to bend him to comply.

Her lip curled and her breath was hot and unpleasant on his face. Her eyes were wild, not controlled—she wasn’t handling the situation as much as it seemed she was trying not to get swept away in it, and he could sense that about her. The bitch was unhinged. What was worse was what she told him in that low, hot, seething voice of hers: “I’ve shot a man in the face and left him to bleed his brains onto the pavement for less than this. I’ve sliced a bitch to death with a hunting knife and these fucking hands. I’ve wrestled Death from a man’s body and then killed it where it stood. You?”

She paused to cast her eyes down from his face to his chest and shoulders, which was as far as she could see before the view of her own body blocked any more of his. Her nose wrinkled at what she saw. “You’re fortunate that the bitch in the store’s been watchin’ us this whole time.”

Lola jerked her knee between his legs so it bumped noisily against the side of the car. The man jerked and startled and made an uncomfortable noise. His face was pale, which made the bright red smear starting at his nostrils and working its way down his neck all the brighter. His eyes were wide and horrified. He’d never been a victim before, so he was reeling at the situation he was in.

Lola smacked the man into the car one last time for good measure, but not hard enough to knock his feet out from under him, before stepping away. She swayed and swaggered as she moved backward a few steps—she wasn’t cool or calm or collected when she stepped back. She flashed him a sneering, victorious smile. He was suffering defeat and she was the cause of it, and that knowledge was written all over her face as she showed her teeth to him with that grin before turning away and walking inside the gas station.

The woman inside didn’t give her much guff. She took Lola’s money that would pay for the gas in her tank, plus a bag of beef jerky, some fruity granola bar, and a pair of large bottles of water. The most that she said to her was some comment along the lines of ‘Good job’ or ‘Hey, that was awesome’, but Lola didn’t respond to it. She just huffed and dismissed the praise with a ‘Whatever’ before collecting her things and returning to the Forester. By the time she’d gotten outside the man was back in his car, trying to stop the bleeding from his nose with his hankerchief. He purposefully avoided eye contact with Lola, but watched her warily when she wasn’t paying him any mind.

The rain was still pouring, but now it was like falling slush. The wind was picking up again too. Lola put faith in her four-wheel drive and drove away from the gas station, putting herself on the narrow crumbly road that would take her back to the interstate again.

She still had a state border to cross before she would let herself call it a night.
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#3
20 december 2013
Atlanta GA


Hector refused to stop in Louisiana or Mississippi.

The Galliards at the Sept of the Unending Horizon assured him they would spread news as far as they could reach while he kept pressing east. So he did not have to stop in Louisiana. The moon bridge carried him past it. Mississippi would have gotten him killed. He's got a Yankee accent and long hair. The Northern hippie aspect of his appearance was the least of his worries. So the moon bridge took him past that too.

In the morning he stopped at the Sept of the Unending Horizon. Late that afternoon he arrived at the Sept of the Gate in Atlanta. The Bone Gnawer and the Shadow Lord who stood guard at the moon gate greeted him with suspicion at first. They hadn't ever heard of him and besides, he rocked up unannounced. Lanky-ass long-haired breedless thing that he was. Didn't protest when the Ahroun who the Nation deeded Boner-Killer grabbed him by the collar and put him on the ground because he wasn't getting to the point quick enough.

By the time he got through explaining what in the hell he thought he was doing they were invested in the story's ending only it didn't have an ending yet. That's what he was out here doing. Writing an ending.

Boner-Killer was five-foot-four in her human skin and had gold capping several of her front teeth so they glinted when she hauled him to his feet again and smiled at him.

"You crazy," she said. "Come sit your ass down and tell us some more stories, man."

So she took him to her brother's auto body shop on the edge of the Bawn and mass-texted a bunch of people who weren't connected to the American Dream who her pack had followed for years. Her kinsman drove a Cadillac Escalade and asked Sup? when Hector got in the back but otherwise they didn't talk.

At the shop Hector met the rest of Boner-Killer's pack. Deep-Shit and Oh-No-You-Did-Not and Smashes-Cans-With-Her-Head. Younger Garou who didn't have deed names yet but who had earned similarly colorful nicknames.

He drank the beer they shoved at him out of hospitality. When he started getting tanked off of one of Smashes-Cans-With-Her-Head's homebrew beers he stood up and lifted his shirt to show them the scar on his right side.

"Lemme see the other side!" Deep-Shit the Theurge said.

Hector turned around long enough for the others to whoop and laugh at the exit wound on his flank. Someone wolf-whistled before he dropped his shirt.

"Shit, little man, you got fucked RIGHT up."
"Yeah I did!" Hector said. "It was AWESOME."
"TELL THE FUCKIN STORY, MAN!" said Smashes-Cans-With-Her-Head.

Were not for the fact that 400 miles lay between him and his destination he might have just stayed there all night getting jacked up on beer and stories but no no guys seriously. Gotta keep on moving. No more beer.

The Sept of the Gate rustled up their Galliards and one of them slapped the Uktena on the back and bade him good luck on finding his sisters. Hector was just proud of himself for not puking. He shifted to his wolf skin and burned off the liquid damage done. The temperature was warmer here than it would be in New York but today he was not in New York. He ran until the dead hours of the next morning and then he bedded down in the forest and slept dry and warm in the middle of December.

Don't ever go to Atlanta, was the advice he gave the rest of his pack. They party like it's 1999.

21 december 2013
Cherokee, NC


No one threw Echoes of the Lost to the ground or goaded him into a game of Show Me Yours I'll Show You Mine at the Sept of the Seven Clans the next morning and he did not come through the moon bridge. They were not expecting him. The Uktena of the Qualla Territory had already heard whispers of a Lost Galliard risen in renown out in Colorado come this way to spread news of what was happening in a city sept and negotiate an exchange of information.

He came in through the Bawn and he spoke to the Warders. They did not trust that he was who he said he was until he told them who his great-grandfather was. Ashkii He-Who-Waits-For-Dawn. Athro spirit-talker and son of Manaba Ten-Claws, the woman warrior whose mate died in the Padre Canyon incident of 1899. All of her children were born true and all of them died young. They knew these names but their lawgiver cut his hand with silver to test his truth and his heritage anyway. He was who he said he was. The last of his line if his unborn child did not survive.

Though he flinched when the knife bit into his palm the Cliath did not pull his hand away. The lawgiver grunted at what the blood told her and she told him to come with her. They would ask for a vision. Sweat until they thought blood and smoke would come up out of their pores.

And he went with her. Told the moondancers what he knew and what he hoped to know and then he sat in the wood smoke filling his lungs with tobacco and cannabis when the pipe came to him and drinking the tea when it came to him. He does not remember what happened but he saw something. Nothing that could help him right at that moment. His face was damp when he came back to his body and they asked him if he wished to stay the night.

Night had turned to day and he had lost track of time.

His woman was at the Bawn waiting for him and he had to find his sisters. He gave his hosts the journal he had kept all year. The stories he had written down of Hives in Wendigo territory and pits out west. What happened to Maria Hornet's Nest who died a Fostern when her wisdom went unheard. Their moondancers could not promise to broker with the other septs but they would try.

He did not vomit this time either but he felt no pride as he left the Sept of the Seven Clans. He didn't feel much of anything. He saw the future laid out before him like the branches of an old and stubborn tree and he did not know which branch to climb or which ones would snap and cause him to fall but it did not cause him fear.

Hector left the Bawn and kept walking until he found his woman's car.

22 december 2013
Durham, NC


Everyone in the nurse's station stared as the young man nodded at whatever Helen had said and turned and walked back out of the pediatric wing. Helen was a first-year resident. No one had a problem with her. She was sharp and tireless and had a bedside manner that did not condescend either the patients or their parents. Though she did not laugh often when she did it was an honest and hopeful sound. She liked to spend her free time in the break room eating popcorn and watching old black-and-white films with the sound off so she and the nurses and other residents could insert their own dialogue.

No one approached her to ask her what had happened. They had watched the young man orbit the wing several times before someone thought to call security. The glint in his eyes unnerved the secretary. She was covering a shift for the permanent daytime secretary and normally worked in the emergency department. If she thought someone looked unhinged and needed to leave no one was going to argue with her.

He had cornered Helen by the linen cart and though Helen looked terrified she had not raised her voice or called for her. After her initial shock had worn off she had embraced the young man and gripped his jacket and spoken low in his ear. Whatever she said went unheard by the others and when they parted she told him she got off at eight. Wrote something in her notepad and tore off the paper and shoved it into his hand and told him he had to get out of here.

Ten seconds after he ducked across the threshold and back into the hallway two security officers arrived. Helen intercepted one of them but the other one recognized the description the secretary had given them and broke away to follow him.

"Wait!" she said. Her eyes shimmered but she did not cry. He waited. "That was my brother. Please, don't, he's leaving, he's not here to cause trouble."

The secretary just shrugged through the glass at the security officers and went back to her phone call.

---

Later that night as she changed back into her street clothes Helen called her older sister Cassandra. She had texted her earlier to tell her something had happened but both women worked long hours and Cassandra had a seven-year-old son besides.

"What's going on?" Cassandra said when their call connected.
"I think I'm losing my mind."
"Is this about one of your TV shows or did something actually happen?"
"Hector came into the peds ward today."

Slamming locker doors on one end and droning voices on the other.

"Cass?" Helen said.
"That's not funny."
"I'm not trying to be funny, someone called me yesterday from a number I didn't recognize saying they were Hector and I didn't believe them, so I hung up on them. Then this guy showed up today and… it was him. I'm not making this up."
"Holy sh--schnitzel."
"Yeah."
"You're absolutely sure it was him."
"Either that or he has a doppelgänger who's decided to come back and go on a havoc-wreaking spree in Durham. He's gotten taller and like. Meaner. This guy looked mean. It's… yeah. It's him."

A pair of new voices came into the locker room cackling at something that died with the door's closing and her sister sighed hard into the receiver.

"A doppelgänger? You need to lay off the TV."
"It could happen."
"I just… that's unbelievable."
"What do I do?"
"Well, what did you do?"
"I told him to come by the apartment after I get off work."
"Are you freaking kidding me."
"What was I supposed to do?"
"God, Helen, I don't know. I failed to ask for a he hunts down my sister at the hospital where she works contingency when that creepy FBI guy told me what to do five years ago."
"Four. It was four years ago."
"So you're going to be alone with him."
"I can handle myself."
"That's great. So…"
"I can't handle Dad though."
"Helen. No."
"I never ask you for anything."
"I am not telling Dad."
"So tell Mom. She can tell Dad. She married him."
"You owe me."
"Yeah, okay."
"Well, don't die. If I have to find another babysitter when Jay and I go on vacation next year because you let some creep pretending to be our brother into your house I'm going to kill you."
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
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#4
23 december 2013
Washington, D.C.


It would have taken him more time than they had to run north on four legs. They took the Subaru. Rain blanketed Durham when they left it and the dampness and the gray fit his mood but they had to get north. He couldn't expect the Garou of the southern states to carry news all the way up the coast for him.

So they drove route 85 to 95 to 135 and then they were in Potomac Park. It isn't a nice neighborhood but the Uktena don't know how to function in nice neighborhoods anyway. Echoes of the Lost left his mate in the car and put up the hood of his sweatshirt and approached the Bawn.

The Bone Gnawers of the Sept of the Awakening were not as boisterous as those of the Sept of the Gate. This city is not theirs though this Caern is. Trees lost their leaves weeks ago and the Potomac River hadn't frozen over but it looked as if it wanted to if only to wait out the rest of winter.

Huddled beneath an empty pavilion stood the male and the female warding the Bawn this afternoon. They shuffled to attention as he approached and when he recognized their visitor the male snorted.

"Yo, why the long fuckin' face?" asked Ice-Bone, Fostern Galliard of Rat.

A couple years back Echoes of the Lost made the mistake of hitting on Ice-Bone's girl at a house party when Celduin was passing through. People still talk about that fight and how that scrawny-ass Child of Gaia-looking kid who was running with Hornet's Nest put Ice-Bone through a sliding glass door and the look on everybody else's face at the sound and the suddenness of the mess made the two of them laugh so hard they knocked that shit off right quick.

"It's fucking raining, motherfucker," said Echoes of the Lost.
"Oh, is it? I hadn't fucking noticed."
"You gonna invite me in or are you going to make me tell you a story standing out here in the rain?"
"God damn. You want me to grab you some slippers, too? Fucking hot chocolate or something?"
"Oh, man, that would be great, thank you so much."

Ice-Bone clapped Echoes of the Lost on the cheek hard enough to sting and laughed. The Philodox standing watch with him lifted her eyebrows as the two stopped antagonizing each other long enough to execute a fairly elaborate series of hand gestures and shook her head as she lit a blunt.

"Whenever y'all are done playing grab-ass," Jail-Bait said.
"Yeah, yeah," said Ice-Bone. "What you got, a date?"
"Kinda."
"Anybody I know?"
"You know it ain't none of your damn business."

She shot daggers at Echoes of the Lost when he laughed.

"To what do we owe this visit, anyway?" Ice-Bone asked.
"Turns out there's a sept in Denver built over a pit that spits out nightmare creatures if you sing to it in the soothing tongue of the Wyrm, only nobody knows where it comes from or what to do with it."
"You don't say."
"I do say. Came all the way out here from Denver to say."
"Built over the pit."
"And there may or may not be another one under the airport."
"The Denver airport."
"Yep."
"You gotta be shitting me."
"I could not make this up if I tried."
"Well, hell, son. Sounds like you're gonna need yourself an audience."
"Man, I always need an audience."
"Shit," Ice-Bone said with a laugh and reached up to slap him another high five. "I know that's right. Let's go."


4 hours later
New Jersey Turnpike


Tamsin's phone started blowing up just after sundown.

TAMSIN

TAMSIN WEVE BEEN DRIVING THRU NJ FOR LIKE 3 HRS CAR SMELLS LIKE HOAGIE YOUD BETTER BE THERE OR SMELL WILL BE FOR NOTHING

TAMSIN XMAS EVE IN DAT BIG APPLE GET EXCITED

TAMSIN WHERE ARE YOU MEETING US

OH SHIT TOLL BRB
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
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