CAST OF PLAYERS:
Ezrandi Shadowheart……Andali…………………………………Eshu Changeling
Mia Schubert……………….Marlboro…………………………….Satyr Changeling
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Carol Hart…………………..Janneth Jones………………………Troll Changeling
Kendall Nye…………………Joseph McAdoo……………………Ronin Garou
Rob Bennett………………..Arian Plicare………………………..Ananasi
Suz Dollar…………………..Samantha Reese…………………..Human Guardian
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
J.J.’s laughter cut through the tension like a blade. She shook her head and just laughed out loud and long. “Oh.. god.. that was good Myrle.”
Casey looked from the spider to the tiger, baffled. Were they really going to brawl right here, in the middle of planning the war to save the world? It seemed like they could put their energy to better use. She looked around the restaurant, but no one seemed inclined to intervene. This could be some time-honored introductory ritual between were-creatures, for all she knew. She should probably just mind her own business and let them work it out. And heck, if the spider got clobbered they’d pretty much HAVE to abandon their plan to plant a bomb in the Tower, wouldn’t they?
It seems like an unfair match, though. That tiger-guy was *huge* next to Plicare. Unless Plicare had a venomous bite or something, he probably didn’t have much of a chance without any weapons.
Casey flipped a mental coin. Decided to step in. It just felt like the right thing to do.
She got casually to her feet and walked over to the pair, her body language relaxed and nonaggressive. “You know,” she said conversationally, standing a couple feet away from both of them, “We’ve got bigger problems than who’s got the most honor or the best way of killing folks. Seems like we’ll have a better chance of winning this war if we’re all fighting on the same side, instead of against each other.” Her tone was friendly and calm. “I don’t mean to tell you two your business, but this Kilarothes sounds like a serious enemy. Maybe we should save our energy for dealing with him.”
Claws looked mildly astonished at the interruption, then annoyed. “We don’t even seek to hunt Kilarothes. It seems that we seek out everyone BUT Kilarothes. We argue instead of hunt. We plot like Simba rather than seeking to do battle and destroy the enemy. There is not energy to be expended.”
“I understand your desire to get busy,” Pip said from his table, “but our resources are limited. It makes sense to decide on the best use of them. Now, I don’t want to overtalk the issue — but discussion is valuable. We only have one chance to get this right.”
Claws nodded at the logic of this argument
Marlboro groaned, “Casey?”
Casey looked over at the big satyr, while keeping her senses tuned to the tense face-off beside her.
“Right…well what ya’ll said makes sense. We should be cleanin’ house so to speak. But if they wanna scrap…well I believe it’s their god-given right. And who am I to break up a good one? SO if we are through…I have a twenty on Claws.” The big satyr smiled at Claws and sat back with Andali and JJ to watch.
Casey returned her gaze to the weres. She hadn’t gotten the impression that the spider particularly wanted to scrap. Interesting that popular opinion seemed to be on the side of the aggressor, judging by the few comments that had been made. There was a lot she still didn’t know about the social structure of this hidden world, or how its internal hierarchies worked. From what she’d seen so far it would appear to be an every-man-for-himself, might-makes-right sort
of arrangement. Another useful piece of information to keep in mind.
Arian’s eyes never left Claws. Casey could almost see him calculating his odds, and he didn’t appear concerned in the least. His stance was relaxed and while ready, the word that came to mind was ‘dismissive’ of the rather potent Khan threat before him.
Alseyne groaned. “Gentlemen, Ms…Casey was it?…has a valid point. We don’t need to debate each other’s honor, we don’t need to waste time arguing with each other, and we certainly don’t have time for a brawl. Could you two decide to hold off on this…ethical discussion until there is some free time? Then you can handle matters however you feel is appropriate. But as Ms. Casey and before that Ms. Sam have said — we have higher priorities to focus on right now.”
“Well said,” Pip thumped the table.
“Aye,” Yggthor agreed.
Alseyne looked around. “I have no problem with us creating a diversion at the vampire tower but I do not believe ultimately blowing it up is the answer.”
Falco nodded at that.
“Not because of the ancillary loss of life,” she continued, “but because doing so does not allow us to definitely and totally take out all of the Kindred involved, which means word of who did it will leak out and will likely lead to wholesale retaliation against other Awakened who have no part in this matter.”
Casey was relieved to hear another of the apparent authority figures here speaking against the bombing. Alsyne’s reasons for objecting didn’t matter as much to Casey as the simple fact that she was objecting.
“Also,” Alseyne continued, “rather than us wasting our limited resources to take these creatures on head-on, perhaps it would be better if we could sow some disharmony and distrust between what must be uneasy allies. If we can find some way to make the Kindred or the Garou think that the other group has broken faith and is attacking then the other group will retaliate and the ensuing battle could take out many of the enemy combatants for us.”
Casey shifted restlessly, but said nothing. The ‘sowing discord among allies’ approach wasn’t her style at all, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t still find other ways to be useful.
“Would anyone have any ideas here that might give us some opportunity to do that?” Alseyne looked at Trevor and then at the various weres in the room.
Trevor shakes his head, nothing coming to mind.
Casey looked to see if the question would divert Claws’ attention from his sport.
“You wish to mess with games too?” the Khan growled at the Sidhe. “What of the sword you carry? Is it there for decoration or do you actually swing it? Let us do battle against the enemy. Point us to them and they will fall.”
“The battle cry of the fundamentally stupid,” Arian commented dryly.
Alseyne looked at the Tiger with obviously simulated surprise. “But Claws, I would think that as a tiger you would see the merit in games. All cats play with their prey once they have caught it. I simply look for a way for us to maximize our resources. That means planning ahead instead of just rushing into battle. As a knight I know when to draw my sword and when to keep it sheathed and find other ways of accomplishing my purpose. Now is the time for sheathed weapons…” she glanced at his extended claws. “When the time is right, I will draw my sword and fight beside you against our foes.”
“We do tend to play with our prey at times,” Claws conceded. “Right now, we do not even know who the prey *is*. That is the annoying part.” He closed his eyes and shrank back down to his human form. It seemed to be a little more difficult than going to the larger, rage-driven forms. “When the time comes, they will fall before us.”
“The Lady Jasmine’s prowess in battle is well known,” Yggthor’s voice was a rumbling bass. “Her honor has been won on the battlefield. Her victories are many. She need not prove herself to you or any other, friend Claws.”
Claws looked at Pip, hearing what he said. His eyes went to the Lady, looking her up and down, as if sizing up how much of a threat she would be on the battlefield. As his gaze went back to Pip he nodded as if accepting his word.
Wynne rolled her eyes. “She’s also a big bag of mostly words. Yap yap yap! Let’s take this war to them!”
Claws grinned at the sluagh with a toothy smile.
Pip tipped his head, muttering: “That’s the Wynne I know.”
Alseyne bit back a smile.
Arian’s eyes never left Claws. “The wolves have as strict a sense of honor as this fellow. And about as subtle an approach. But they dance in a web already, as does the vampire king. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a way to get them to fight each other. There is a chance, however, of finding the wolves that have not been tainted by the Destroyer and enlisting their aid in killing their unbalanced brethren. There is likewise a chance of starting a coup if you can find a vampire capable of uniting his kind if his king were to fall. Naturally, you would be placing a great deal of trust into either party if you accepted their help…” the Spider stated coldly.
Claws’ eyes came back to Arian. “You speak of trust and honor like you know them. Who are you, to speak of them and in the same breath against them? You watch. You learn. You write in that little book. But you tell little.” His eyes narrowed again, in curiosity now rather than rage. He seemed to sniff the air. “What do you know? What secrets do you hide? We are to trust one another and fight together, but you work alone and don’t give us a reason to trust. If you don’t trust us and don’t give us reason to trust you, why are you still here?”
“Because I am on retainer, little Khan,” Arian stated coldly. He didn’t offer any more information than that.
Claws appeared to think about the word retainer for a moment and then turned to Alseyne. “You… own this one? Make it speak.”
Alseyne’s lips quirked at the comment but she said seriously enough, “I don’t own him, Claws. I am paying him for his services. That does not entitle me to make him reveal his secrets. It just means that if his secrets come into conflict with his service to me then his honor should require him to either leave my service or divulge his secret.”
Arian’s icy demeanor hadn’t change at the owned comment. Nor did it change at Alseyne’s reply. He just looked at her for a moment.
Alseyne’s eyes flickered towards Arian, “Given his opinions on the Brotherhood, ronin, and honor, I am certain I will be able to trust him to inform me if there is a conflict.”
Arian’s stance hadn’t changed at all. In fact, he hadn’t even blinked. He seemed to be patiently waiting for the tiger to make his move.
Casey looked from the spider’s emotionless black eyes to the tiger’s incandescent-with-rage blue ones. And suddenly it seemed to her that she was standing a bit too close to this little chat. “Well,” she said in the same pleasant voice as before, “I’ll just, ah, leave you two to talk things out, then.” Very casually, she returned to her booth. That went well, she snorted silently to herself.
“Enough!” Myrle barked. “You are here because you each have a role to play in this conflict. I tell you this now, so listen well… Before this is done, you will each need the gifts of the other. There will be blood and suffering — and yes, some will die, but if any of you are to live — and more importantly succeed — you will have to rely on those gathered here. Accept that and move on.”
Claws’ eyes combed the room.
“Which target do you suggest we focus on first then, Myrle?” Alseyne asked aloud.
The Dragon regarded the fae. “Which targets, is the question you should ask. A path has been revealed to you, milady, a path you should explore.”