CAST OF PLAYERS:
Jera Morrison……………….Alseyne Aulaudin…………………Sidhe Changeling
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Pana fell in beside Casey. She stroked the dog absently as they approach the street.
:: You made some new friends :: Pana observed.
**I don’t think we’re friends yet. We have common goals, and I think I can help them**
A black suburban pulled forward with lettering on the door: AUSTIN TAXI. “You call for a ride?” The driver called out.
“That’s us,” Pip said.
The drive stopped in the parking lot and hopped out, pulling the door open for them. “Where to?”
Pip looked to Wynne, who answered the driver as she climbed in. “Whips and Chains.”
He smiled, “Alrighty then.”
Alseyne rolled her eyes at Pip, not at all surprised that Wynne knew the best all-night leather shop in town.
Casey gave the Sluagh a sidelong glance. She’d never even heard of the place. It sounded…interesting.
Pana sniffed at the interior of the vehicle. Casey climbed in, settling the malamute in the back.
Her nose was still going. :: Humans… have mated here. Tonight. ::
Casey managed to keep a straight face. **Thanks for the update.** No doubt keeping track of matings was of great interest in dog society, but it was a tad too much information for Casey.
Claws in homid form leaned back in his seat, stretching his legs.
Pip and Wynn settled in.
“Let’s roll!” Pip shouted forward.
The Suburban motored out onto the street.
“This should be fun,” Pip grinned at Alseyne and then at Casey.
“Casey, brace yourself,” Alseyne warned her as she settled back against the cushions. “That means you and I are in for the absolutely most sexist and completely revealing things he can find in the store.”
“I’ll…um…okay,” Casey mumbled uncertainly. She tried to picture herself wearing the kind of clothes one would find in a shop called ‘Whips and Chains,’ but the whole thing was too far outside her experience for her to get anything more than a vague image of tight black leather. At least it was stealthy, she reminded herself. Nighttime camouflage. And how bad could it be, really?
“Have you guys ever been to this Sanctuary place before?” she asked the group in general. She had no idea, vague or otherwise, what such a place might be like.
Alseyne shook her head. “I haven’t. No reason to. I’ve heard stories about it but it appears to me you either have to be very sexually jaded or extremely sexually innocent to -want- to go to someplace like that.”
Casey pondered that. She supposed she fell into the ‘extremely sexually innocent’ category, but she’d never felt the slightest desire to visit an S&M bar before. All the talk about sex was starting to make her feel a little uneasy, in fact. She wondered how much ‘participation’ was actually required or expected from patrons there.
Not from her though, she reminded herself. If she ended up inside the bar at all it would mean things had already gone bad. Sex would probably be the last thing on everyone’s mind at that point.
Alseyne darted a glance at the cabbie before continuing in a lighter voice, “Either that or going on a dare like we are. Remind me never to gamble with Myrle again. Paying his forfeits is really nasty.”
Casey laughed nervously, shifting gears. Apparently there might be spies listening anywhere. “Yeah, no kidding. I still say he must have been cheating.”
“Well, of course he was. Anyone who is sane cheats at the game to gain an advantage. The stakes are too high not to cheat,” Alseyne commented.
Casey absorbed the words and the deeper message, weighing her instinctive disagreement with that credo against the unimaginably high stakes that Alseyne is referring to. The reference to Myrle brought her thoughts back to the larger picture, and everything she’d learned today. ‘The Wolves are all about,’ the warning echoed in her memory, ‘tonight’s a dangerous night for traveling….’ She turned to gaze silently past Alsyene out the window into the dark streets, wondering if they’d run into any Talons tonight. Which led to another thought… “What do the Talons look like to the Unawakened? Do they walk around in the open like other werewolves, or keep hidden?”
“Depends on which form they’re in,” Pip answered. “Unlike us changelings, the lycanthropes are seen for whatever form they are in.”
Wynn nodded. “Claws here… when he’s a sabre tooth tiger, they’ll see a sabre tooth. When he’s a catman, they see a catman.”
“If they don’t go mad with fear,” Pip added.
Claws listened to this exchange without comment.
Casey nodded thoughtfully. McAdoo had said that the Talons preferred to remain in lupine form, and Casey had never heard about any wolves freely roaming the streets of Austin, so presumably they concealed themselves in the shadows. She was glad to have Pana with her tonight; the dog’s sharp ears and keen sense of smell should give her ample warning if any Talons approached.
“Do you want to drop your dog off at the hotel after we leave the shop?”
Pana provided a lazy glance to Alseyne. :: Maybe we should drop her off. :: Casey sensed a hum of irritation from the malamute. Pana didn’t like the Sidhe lady.
Casey smiled, reaching back to rub Pana soothingly behind the ears. **This is her show tonight, we’re just helping out.** After a moment she added, **Alseyne has a…complex mind. To people like you and me it seems like she makes everything more complicated than it needs to be, but I imagine she probably has just the right sort of mind for the job she’s got.** Aloud she said, “If it’s okay I’d like to keep her with me. She won’t get in the way, and she’ll be an extra set of teeth if there’s trouble tonight.”
Alseyne nodded “As you wish. Getting her into the building may be a problem but not an insurmountable one I’m sure.”
“Into Sanctuary you mean? She can wait outside with me. If there’s trouble and I have to go in, she can stay outside if the situation doesn’t look dog-friendly.”
“Yes, that’s what I meant. And outside she may be a slight deterrent…other than our ‘friend’ of course. I think most people would hesitate to approach any group he was a member of.”
It took Casey a moment to decipher that rather cryptic statement. After a minute it clicked that ‘our friend’ was Arian, and that Pana being a deterrent was a good thing. She nodded agreement. “I’ll feel better if she’s there; she goes pretty much everywhere with me.”
Alseyne nodded. “I’ve always wanted to have a dog but I move around so much it just really isn’t feasible. It’s not fair to a dog to leave it behind just because you have to go on a mission and unfortunately there are lots of times when having a dog with me just wouldn’t be workable. Maybe once I retire from active duty I’ll be able to have some pets.”
Casey reached back to rub the Malamute behind her ears again. “Her name’s Pana.” An obscure impulse made her add, “Pana’s the name of an Eskimo deity; she tends the souls of the dead while they wait in heaven to be reincarnated.”
Alseyne smiled. “How appropriate for her to be assisting us in particular then, given who and what we are.” There is special emphasis on the word ‘us’ but there is a hint of wistfulness in the Sidhe’s voice.
Casey heard it and turn from Pana to smile at the Fae. “Let’s hope there’ll be no new souls in heaven tonight to be tended. At the very least, not one of ours.” The words were meant to be comforting, but they turned Casey’s own thoughts back to the perils lurking in every corner of Austin’s streets. Her gaze returned to the window, watching the lights and darkness flow past but barely seeing them.
The vehicle stopped out front of a store on Sixth Street. In purple neon letters the words WHIPS AND CHAINS were emblazoned atop the store front.
“Here we are,” Pip opened the door, hopping out.
As Wynne and Claws climbed out Pip was chatting with the driver, directing him to wait.
“Stay, Pana,” Casey said as she followed the others out of the Suburban.
“Come along, Claws.” The Sluagh took the Bastet’s hand, leading him into the store. “I’ll get you fixed up.”
Looking amused by Wynne’s demeanor, Alseyne followed her and Claws into the store, already mentally cataloguing, comparing and dismissing most of the items she sees.
Casey stared dubiously at the outfits on display in the storefront windows, already having second thoughts. But when the others went in she took a deep breath and followed.
It was mid-sized boutique store. The men’s and women’s wear was intermixed, rather than being separated. Two young women announced that they are available if assistance was required.
Casey walked slower and slower the farther she got into the shop, staring doubtfully at some of the more outlandish garments and feeling a bit like Alice down an evil leather-upholstered rabbit hole.
Pip asked to borrow the phone at the counter. He made a few calls.
“How come Pip doesn’t have to wear a goofy outfit?” Casey grumbled nervously. She regretted the words the instant they were out of her mouth. The satyr was unsettling enough without wearing stuff like this.
“Oh, he will. It’s just his will be a ‘master’ outfit,” Alseyne tossed the words off lightly over her shoulder as she browses. “Most women are considered ‘subs’ in this culture. It’s a rare woman who becomes a dominatrix. And I just can’t picture Pip as a ‘sub’, can you?”
Since Casey had no clear idea of what that would look like anyway, her “No” was the simple truth.
Wynn disappeared into a fitting room with Claws.