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
Yggthor the Troll rumbled, “We have not accounted for this Kilarothes. Or the Ogre the Lady Jasmine spoke of.”
“We don’t want to split our forces too thinly either, Yggthor,” Alseyne interjected. “Tactically, our enemies far outnumber us. If we go off in too many different directions at one time it is liable to cause us to lose one or more of our endeavors. I think the Ogre can wait — for now, at least. Kilarothes however, likely needs to be a high priority target.” She looked toward Arian. “How long would you expect to need to get into and out of that tower? Give us the absolute longest you would estimate — that will tell those who are assaulting the tower how long they’ll need to plan on creating their diversion.”
Arian pondered. “Getting inside is simple. If my guide proves to be forthcoming in his supply of information, then I can be in and out within an hour. If he has lied, it will take significantly longer….” He thought for a moment. “I’d say at least an hour and a half to search a building of that size. I have a rite that will aid in the retrieval of my property, but such things take time. Nevertheless, such a course of action represents the least threat to us while presenting the greatest damage to them. With Ovid’s guidance, I could easily work my way into the center of the stronghold, collect my property, and leave behind such a thing.” Pause “Of course, my knowledge of such things is somewhat limited…”
“Ovid?!?” Trevor exclaimed. “Ovid is leading you into the Tower? He speaks on lies and half-truths. He’s likely to sell you to the Prince!”
Arian nodded. “His reputation precedes him. And since I intend on making war with his king and destroying his stronghold, that makes us even. I will not leave behind my swords. They have been Dedicated to me, there is too strong a connect there to leave them be.”
“But…” Casey spoke up a bit louder this time. “Mr. Falco just said that Bronwen lives in the basement sub-levels. Even if you blew up the whole tower, the Prince himself might survive just fine down there. He’s probably got an underground exit or three…chances are even if the tower crumbled all the way down into his levels, he’d already have escaped into the sewers or something at the first sign of trouble. All those people would be dead for nothing.”
“Bronwen holds court in the upper levels,” Wynne retorted, “That’s what Falco said…”
“I won’t be a part of this,” Falco interrupted. “And I will stop any one of you who tries it.”
Casey darted a quick, relieved glance in Falco’s direction. She was still smarting from his duplicity, but she knew that this was no idle threat. Falco was perfectly capable of preventing the entire lot of them from getting anywhere near that building if he so desired.
The garou stepped forward, hairy-legged limping to the center of the fast food joint where he could see everyone. “And what happens if we’re successful in this attack?” He raised his voice, cutting off anyone about to speak. “All the vampire clans of the region will swarm, maybe fighting to find those responsible … or start attacking the the fae enclaves and awakened throughout the area. Regardless, this will be the start of a war, which is what I feel is the reason behind all these manipulations and betrayals.”
Arian shrugged. “They will likely fall to infighting. That is my understanding of the nightwalkers. And if they didn’t attempt to organize a solid countermeasure, it would be weeks before they could effectively harm any of the other awakened communities.”
“And into the vacuum someone or group will step…probably anticipating something like we’re contemplating. ” McAdoo realized the spiderwere’s cold calculation is in essence not humane, and the motives driving him may never be something with which he can empathize. Growling in frustration, “Don’t you folks get it, someone is pulling the strings. Maybe a spider in the web, ” he nodded to Arian, ” or a puppeteer.”
Myrle nodded, “This is certainly true.”
“The war’s already started,” Casey said. “Even I can see that. And I suspect that the swarming vampires would be more interested in fighting over Bronwen’s vacated throne, at least at first. But once a new Prince is in place, he’d just ally with this Kilarothes and we’d be back where we started. That’s not worth blowing up a building full of innocent people to accomplish.”
“This isn’t a war, this is a backyard squabble compared to what comes if we get it wrong. ” McAdoo tightened the belt of the bathrobe and moved back toward the bathroom door.
Casey frowned at the werewolf’s back. She was about as new to all this as a person could be, but she’d just heard the dragon say that mankind as a whole would stand or fall with the outcome of the battle against Kilarothes. Maybe that had less importance to these Fae and werecreatures and whatnot, but Casey still counted herself a member of the human race. It might be just a backyard squabble to McAdoo, but it was HER backyard that was at risk of annihilation. And the dragon said that there was something worse coming right behind Kilarothes.
She agreed with the werewolf about one thing: they probably couldn’t afford to get this wrong. She just didn’t see how going into battle with a total disregard for innocent life could possibly be considered getting it right.
“Should we turn our attention to hunting down the dogs, then?” Arian stated in his usually cold manner.
Casey felt an unexpected ripple of excitement at the spider’s flat question. Hunting the Red Talons sounded very dangerous. She was in the mood for dangerous. The sense of restlessness was rising in her: she wanted to join the fight, test her fledgeling skills against the sea of adversaries that lurked in the shadows of Austin’s night. The sensation of electricity running through her veins was back again…she felt charged with power, intoxicated with yet-unmeasured potential. Aloud she only said, “The Red Talons…what’s their deal? Are they just operating as hired thugs for Bronwen now, or do they have an agenda of their own? Do we know?” She looked at McAdoo, wondering if this subject was uncomfortable for him. After a moment she added, “I’m very newly Awakened, Mr. McAdoo, I’m afraid I don’t know much about the Garou. Are there uncorrupted wolves in Austin too? If we go hunting, how do we tell the good ones from the bad ones?”
” Red Talons reject the human part of their heritage, they’ll nearly always be in lupin form,” McAdoo offered. “They’re also contaminated by the Wyrm if you’re sensitive to that all. ”
Casey fell silent, mulling that over.
McAdoo’s shoulders sagged as a new thought hit him, he leaned against a booth to steady himself. “Of course…there was a status quo and all the players on the field held a truce, respecting territories. ” He looked up, eyes yellowing as the hunter ran from thought to thought. ” Any problems were resolved through a neutral power broker…Lobban!…of course…and he kept enough information to leverage any problems into a compromise between the players.. ” He turned to the dragon. “You, I need your help. I believe I have his failsafe information and need the knowledge to use the fetish of wisdom.”
Myrle nodded, “I’d be happy to assist, lad.”
” It would be an honor to learn from you. ”
“Learning?” Myrle cocked his head. “An apprenticeship is what ye seek, then?”
“Indeed, ” McAdoo returned neutrally, ” Perhaps after this is over, as we can come to terms. However, if you’re willing to assist my learning to use this fetish … or guidance thereto towards greater knowledge.” He shrugged slightly. ” If I do not fall in the battle to come, be it against Kilarothes, or the Brotherhood… or the green eyed nightmare promising to dustbowl the Earth…”
The massive weretiger had watched the goings-on silently but with great interest. Now he suddenly shifted into human form and stalked across the room, straight for Arian. He didn’t take his eyes off the spider-were; he seemed almost oblivious that there were any other people in the room than the two weres. He came to a halt in front of Arian. Towering over the small Asian man, he looked down at him, staring him straight in the eyes. “You talk of the samurai ways like you know and follow them. These shadow warriors have no honor because they have no master commanding them? Who is it that YOU serve? Where is YOUR master, or are you too a ronin?”
Arian merely lofted his unscarred brow.
“You speak of honor, but you talk of planning to backstab your guide and wage war on them from within, as well as from without,” the Khan continued hotly. “What is honorable about that? You talk of killing innocent people. Where is the honor in that? What did they ever do to you or the ones you protect? If I am going to kill someone, I am going to walk right up to them and rend them limb from limb. I am going to look them in the eye as the life drains from their being. I am going to roar in victory as their soul departs to be with their ancestors. That is honorable. Where is YOUR honor?!?”
“Here here!”, Marlboro replied with a wave of a coke glass. He shook his head. “I’m darn tired of all of this cloak and dagger crap. Alseyene…you’re a…well let’s say I wouldn’t be your squire for all the tea in China.”
“She wouldn’t have you,” Yggthor growled.
“Easy now,” Pip cautioned. “Keep it friendly.”
Marlboro threw his hands up in the air. “This is why doan get into this castley stuff. Makes good drinkin’ buddies all grumpy…We have end of the world speech over there and no one is talkin’ any sense. What can we do…what is too late to do…. Andali can we leave…please hunny…this is all gettin way over our heads…”
Arian tilted his head just a hair, but didn’t seem to be the least bit intimidated by the Tiger’s show. “You mammals and your obsession with dominance,” he said coldly. “Are you finished, yet? Or would like to fetch a yardstick?”
Andali put her arm around J.J. and moved the two of them further back.
J.J.’s head turned to watch the interplay. “But…I want to watch. I’m sure Claws could take him,” she whispered in Andali’s ear. However she didn’t resist Andali’s pull.
“We can watch from back here just the same..” Andali said, humming a small tune as she found a corner far enough away to be safe, and close enough to watch the outcome.
Casey stifled a chuckle at the yardstick comment. If the were-tiger’s intent was to goad Plicare into a fight, he’d obviously read the spider-guy all wrong.
Claws’ eyes narrowed. “I don’t know why you would need a… yardstick. But I am not finished. You have not even started to answer me…”
“If I understand male dominance rites, the next step is for you to measure your phallis and show me it’s grand size. Then you are to growl more and spit and so on,” he made a few gestures that implied yada-yada-yada.
Claws watched his antics. The look on his face was one of non-comprehension. At this point, he obviously thought Arian an idiot.
It was more than obvious that Arian returned that sentiment in kind. “And, I have no intention of answering you. So, heel boy, or attack. I haven’t the time to waste on you.”
Claws seemed to actually grow in size. His fingers sprouted into claws. His jaws lengthened and his teeth grew to fangs. He was still somewhat human, but with elements of his feline form. The tension was so thick, it could be felt throughout the room.
Arian just watched him with cold, calculating eyes.
“Kiss him already!” Myrle cried out, “Damn!”