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[Werewolf: The Forsaken] "Detroit Rock City"

Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User




Detroit Rock City. Motor City, Motown, the D.

Let me tell you about the murder capital of the United States. It's a dying city that's eating itself alive, filled with desperate people trying to claw out a decent living for themselves. The ones that live here are hard to kill - they're survivors.

Detroit is known for three things: It's the tombstone of the American auto industry, the city that sees the most murders in the country per year, and it's got a killer music scene. This place is dangerous and wild. It's the epitome of the concrete jungle...

...and you're about to meet some of its predators.

--------------------------------------------

Mr. Shopping here.

After "The Ties That Bind", I had a couple of different story concepts that I wanted to run with. One of them turned into "Scars of Russia" while the other was a D&D game that's gone into a semi-permanent sabbatical (don't you hate it when that happens?) With time to focus on something new, I turned back to a place that's always inspired my World of Darkness writing - Detroit.

I touched on the city in my Vampire game but I wanted more. "Detroit Rock City" started out as an extended solo for a player who approached me after reading "Ties" here on RPG.net. She very bluntly asked me for a game, and who was I to refuse? I started working the solo into a campaign, and that's when Viskarenvisla got involved.

Jericho Marx and Sebastian Weiss are the stars of DRC. The game is set in December 2008, Detroit.

I run this game online and use a White Wolf dice rolling program to make sure nobody is cheating. I’ve compiled all that I have so far into a novel format for easy reading. You can tell our contributions apart because they're in turn-based order. I'll throw in names or colors later on when the two players meet up in the log. From time to time I'll suggest music for the scene, usually what I have my players listen to during the actual session.

This game is intended for a mature audience. Some politically incorrect slurs/viewpoints may be found within, but I assure you, these are the machinations of character and NOT, I repeat NOT any actual views.

Obviously this game belongs to my players and I - please don't reproduce it without permission.

Let's rock.
 
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Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User


Dear Diary

Music: Jesper Kyd, Hitman Contracts "Sanitarium"

Within the labyrinthine hallways of St. Mary's Psychiatric Hospital, two attendants were navigating a third person to the office of Dr. Gerald Strouse. A girl. She was a little wisp of a thing, especially compared to the burly nurses she was sandwiched between, and looked as though one particularly strong breeze could blow her away. She was like a ghost. Her movement was without sound, her white gown seeming to merge into her cream colored skin, perfect save for the trails of red lines that marred her thin forearms made by her own uneven fingernails. Eyes a bit too large peered out behind the gossamer strands of her long platinum bangs, the rest of her hair falling to her waist like a silky ethereal curtain. It was those eyes that made her seem so strange, so alien. They were an impossibly deep blue so large and expressive that it made it hard to look anywhere else. They captured people's gaze, giving them a window into a fractured, confused, and tortured soul that most people would rather not see.

These eyes were darting about nervously to the off-white walls and the dark green doors that littered the halls as she passed by, searching for the silver name plate that bore her new psychiatrist's name. She wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible. The doctor had insisted she be off her medication for this, and that made her terrified. Without it she felt naked, exposed. She could feel something glide along her arm even though there was nothing there, she could catch faint glimpses of things that disappeared before she could fully see what they were. These white walls emanated a dread that only fueled her own fear.

Mercifully they made it to the right door after only a few minutes, which considering the building's size could have taken up to fifteen, and one of the nurses gave a rapt knock on the door, followed by a very warm and pleasant "Come in!" from inside.

The office was decorated much like all of the others, made to seem friendly and welcoming. Brightly colored furniture for the juvenile patients, soothing pictures, nick-knacks here and there, puppets and toys with a bookshelf crammed into the corner, the only real symbol of his profession aside from the degrees on the wall.

It might have comforted most people, but not her, not now.

The man seated behind the simple wooden desk matched his voice to a tee and continued the pleasant, friendly illusion he was trying to maintain. Plump, rosy figure with laughter lines around his warm brown eyes, a bushy red beard with streaks of gray, and a balding head, his whiskers raised in a welcoming smile as she entered.

"Please, take a seat." He gestured to the chair opposite his, pen balanced loosely between his plump digits. The girl did so, lowering herself in soundlessly. She hugged her slender arms to her chest as if she were cold, rubbing them slowly with her petite hands. She did not take her eyes off of the doctor, who acted as though her behavior were nothing out of the ordinary. He just took it all in with a smile.

"Now" He began, pressing a button on a shiny black tape recorder placed between the two. "I'm just going to ask you a few questions. Please answer as truthfully as you can."

The girl nodded obediently, reaching her hand up to brush the hair from her face. The sooner she could get her pills the better.

"Good." Strouse said, not breaking eye contact. "Please state your full name."

The girl answered quickly, her girlish voice carried by a soft breath. "Jericho Isabelle Marx." A strange name for a strange girl.

"Mmhmm." The doctor hummed, admitting the futility of the question as he obviously knew the answer already. "And how old are you?" Again, another futile question.

"Umm...Fifteen." Jericho actually had to think about this for a second. Time was difficult to measure in this place. And it didn't help that she kept catching distracting glimpses of the unreal around her. Her leg began to impatiently move up and down, like a junkie without a fix.

"Good." He enthused, marking something down on his clipboard. "And how long have you been here?"

"Six years." She said, doing the math in her head. Despite the pointlessness of the questions she wanted these visions to stop. She wanted to stop feeling paranoid, to stop waking up screaming, to stop being terrified wherever she went and to stop hearing the voices. She wanted it more than anything, and if this doctor could help then she'd do whatever he wanted.

"How do you get along with the other patients?" He asked, his questions coming a little quicker now that they were getting into a rythm.

"Okay I guess..." Jericho muttered lightly, absentmindedly scratching a bit too hard on her upper arm. "They don't like me very much." She answered truthfully, sounding a little grim.

"Oh, why not?" Was the doctor's reply.

Jericho shrugged. "I don't know. I guess they're scared of me."

"Mmhmmm." He hummed again, this time sounding considerably more interested as he marked the clipboard. His rosy smile significantly lessened, and Jericho knew that the next questions wouldn't be so simple.

"Now this may be hard" Dr. Strouse said a bit solemnly, steepling his fingers before him and leaning in slightly. "But I want you to tell me about your life before you came here. Can you do that?"

It took a few seconds, but Jericho nodded, shrinking back a little into her chair.

"How did your parents get along?"

"Fine." She answered curtly.

"Did they ever get into any arguments?"

"Not really."

"Are you sure?" He pried.

"Yes."

"Could you please..." The doctor swallowed. "Tell me what happened the night your parents died."

Jericho breathed a shuddered sigh and lowered her eyes to the floor, her bangs casting her face in shadow. She knew she'd have to explain it to him, she'd explained it to other doctors before, but this time it was so much harder. The sadness and fear her medicine usually blunted was now overwhelming her system. But she nodded her head slightly sending a silvery ripple through her hair.

"We were all eating dinner." She whispered, taking herself back to that horrific night. The image in her head was crystal clear. "It was meatloaf night. I was a little upset because I didn't really like meatloaf, but I didn't say anything."

The doctor could see that the girl was becoming more and more upset as she continued her story. She'd brought her knees up to her chest and was hugging them tight, as though to protect herself from some preternatural chill only she could feel. Her bangs had fallen to cover her face again, but she didn't even see to know it. He could only catch glimpses of her eyes through tiny gaps in her hair, but he could tell they were no longer focused on anything in the present day.

"My mom went into the kitchen to get some more bread, and I swear I saw something follow her there. Something black, like a snake, but before I could really look it was already gone. And then I heard my mom scream."

A deep shudder ran through her body as she tried to hold back tears and finish. It took her a moment, but she composed herself enough to keep going.

"So we ran in there to see what was wrong. My mom was just standing there, not really looking at anything. Just...vacant. An empty shell. My dad didn't know what was wrong with her, but I did."

Twin trails of moisture glistened on her pale cheeks as the tears converged on her delicate chin, but the thin blonde didn't seem to notice.

"The thing I saw earlier had wrapped around her body. I was wrong, it wasn't a snake. It was more like some huge bug with a long armored body. It had big pointed claws that had a tight grip on her head. It was smiling, with a big human grin and evil yellow eyes."

Her voice was cracking now. She was close to the breaking point, but the doctor let her continue.

"My dad was shaking her, asking her what was wrong. I tried to say something but I was too afraid. And then the thing turned my mom's head and with its fingers it made her smile. My dad didn't notice her picking up the knife until...until..."

A pitiful moan escaped her lips and her body was wracked with sobs. She couldn't say it. She didn't need to say it. The doctor had seen the photos from the crime scene, the man laying on the floor in a pool of his own blood, the kitchen knife plunged deep within his chest.

The doctor pushed a box of tissues towards the girl. "We can stop now." He said, reaching to turn off the tape recorder, but the sound of Jericho's voice interrupted him. She wasn't done yet. She was still lost in her memories.

"A-a-and then" She sniffed, her head buried in her knees. "I r-ran to my parents bedroom, and I got the gun a-and..." Another heart wrenching sob. "I tried to shoot the thing b-b-but..."

The voices were back now. All around her. Though she couldn't understand what they were saying Jericho could feel their mocking, their glee at her sorrow. She could feel them brushing up against her, her face, her arms, her legs, they were everywhere and she couldn't stand it.

"I-I want my pills." She whispered, her frail arms hugging her legs so tight it seemed like she was trying to pull them into her. The doctor nodded. "Of course, of course. Nurse!"

As the two large nurses led the sobbing girl back to her room the doctor made one last note on his clipboard.

Soon.
Written by Jericho
 
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Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Afterbirth

Music: Silent Hill 3 OST "Another Point of View"

You're cold. Freezing. Something's trembling - you don't know what at first. Your body feels like it was just used as a superconductor, leaving you shaking and shivering. All that you can see is a haze of red when you open your eyes.

Flashes of visceral memory, like tearing, bloody meat, veins splitting open and spitting hot steaming blood over the sterile white walls of Saint Mary’s Psychiatric Hospital.

Screams, distorted and animal. Long, throaty howls of pent-up horror and murderlust. Nightmare. Figures, images wriggling with flailing arms, incoherent, muted in a haze of red. The laughter of a thousand chittering voices urging you on. A thousand more crying in terror.

Flying through twisting tunnels, painting them crimson with bloody claws. Trying to grasp at that memory, of what happened, of the why, the how - it just unravels it more, and that red haze glows painfully in your mind.

What do you remember? The hospital. Penning your journal in your room. The walks outside in the early December grounds, trees lightly dusted with snow, icy branches twinkling like the sugar cookies they served at your ward once a year. The before comes back to you, and you remember - all except for that bloody gap.

Patters of chill kiss your back, your cheek, your nose. You realize that you are naked, body covered in nothing but others. And you can taste them, each one. It touches your nostrils like nothing else, tantalizing, telling. Instinct tells you what your mind begins to realize - you are caked in frozen blood. The red haze at last passes to the shadow and glint of the distant sputtering orange of sodium lamps.

Snow comes down from above, funneled down into the alley in which you are curled, framing your body. The twisted space is cluttered with trash, championed by badly graffiti'd green dumpsters. Fencing locks off the north end of this place, about ten feet high with barbed wire on the top - you can see it's about sixty yards to either end from where you lay. Broken bits of glass glitter strangely amongst the snow, as the frigid breeze sifts lazily through crumpled wrappers, tumbling them like crinkling pinwheels.

The blood is almost too much. The scents of so many. You know them, from some kind of familiarity - you're not sure how. You realize it’s on your chin, your back, clinging in black and purple shards to your chest and arms. How your senses have become so sharpened you don't know – only that somehow things have changed. Somehow you've left the hospital behind.

Terror and confusion grip Jericho's heart in an icy numbness far more intense than the frigid air outside. The senses are overwhelming, the smells horrifying. She frantically looks to either end of the alley again and again searches for some clue as to where to go or what she should do, her breath emerging with a frosty cloud, her heart thumping quicker than she's ever felt it go. She had to go back to the hospital. Something was horribly wrong with her. She needed to go back. Needed someone who could help her, who could fix her. She stood slowly, her waist-length hair a caked and ugly mess, falling around her like a curtain and releasing a new wave of sickening odor. Eyes wide and darting she tentatively she makes her way to the non-fenced end of the alley, wary of the glass shards on the alley floor.

Snow crunches quietly under your bare feet as you carefully make your way towards the mouth of the alley. You notice that the way you move is differently than before. It's more graceful - stronger, even. Maybe you should be dead now, frozen to death in the cold. But you aren't. The chill stings and bites at your flesh, wind tugging mercilessly at your hair, but it just doesn't bother you as much as it should.

Your mind is a garbled mess of dripping, red-hot images, phantom sounds and screams. Heat and fire, threatening to overtake everything, despite the icy grip of December.

The street edges closer with each step you take, the rusty spires and darkly glittering windows of Detroit's skyscrapers watching you like the honeycombed eyes of a dead hive. Dwarfing everything, existing in this orangeness of steel and concrete of this decaying forge city. Street lights change color, and the sounds strike your ears as intense. The burble of voices, cellphone chatter, shuffling through snow, laughter and even breath. Seeing nothing but a bare street beyond but reaching out with senses you've never had.

Blue and red light streaks by as a siren SCREAMS and wails past in a blur.

You can see a billboard in the distance painted with the likeness of Coca-Cola's Santa Claus, graffiti'd in black and blue from something pure to grossly obscene.

So this is the real world.

Taking this all in, your senses snap, ears twitching involuntarily as you hear the fence behind you jangle and sway against the weight of something.

Climbing.

Swiftly.

Two figures go up and over like the barrier was nothing. In the shadows of the alley you can't make them out well, but they're coming closer, approaching you warily.

Jericho let out a frightened gasp, twisting around with a grace she'd never felt before to face the two. Shakily she began to back up, one foot at a time away from the approaching pair, her breath quickening. Swallowing the vile taste in her mouth in a gulp she was sure was loud enough for the people in the street to hear, she spoke, her voice pitiful and scared.

"W-what do you want?"

Something tells you strength would be better. It's hard to look that way in the face of these predators- that's what instinct tells you, what you smell, what you -feel-. But what can you do now? Fight or flight.

As they emerge from the gloom, you can see the first is wearing a heavy fur-lined dark green bomber jacket studded with patches, thick black cargo jeans and old running shoes. His belt is a jangle of utility pouches, and there's a pair of big combat knives sheathed at his thighs. His hair is black and ruffled, pushed underneath a rugged brown woolen skullcap. The male’s hands are bound up in thick gauze that serve as homemade fingerless gloves.

His face is youthful- maybe he's a few years older than you, but still tanned and creased with thin scars, a nasty one running a crescent just under his cheek, skirting his eye. His scent...if that's what it is...he’s like you somehow. Not like the blood you tasted…not human…you just know. The guy's nose is hooked and looks like it's been broken several times before, face and chin faintly stubbled, like he hadn't shaved for about three days. His sideburns are long and wild, running down along his jawline and around behind his ears.

"Easy there, girl." he says, voice raspy and scarred by cigarettes. His tone though, seems gentle. Calming, even. He's holding out his hands at his sides, palms upturned.

The second lurks behind, another male, this one lanky and gaunt. The faint light plays against his dark almond eyes and Asian features - spiky black hair styled and cropped short to his head, the sides of his skull buzzed down. You can't see most of his face, obscured as it is by a dark gray scarf, the fabric hanging to his left, thrown behind his shoulder with a quick, calculated motion. Steamy breath pushes from the fabric. He's lean, even in his black, nondescript blazer, slacks padded but worn loose enough so that he can move fast if he has to, Timberland boots making no sound as he moves over the snow.

Her heartbeat began to settle, the blood pounding in her ears a little less loud. Jericho wasn't even aware she was doing it, but as they came closer her upper lip began to curl back almost as if she were baring her teeth at the two. If she hadn't admitted to herself she was insane before, that thought was becoming more and more valid every second. Her muscles relaxed ever so slightly, but she was still far from calm. Her large blue eyes left their focus ever so quickly to look at the caked gore on her body. They seemed wary, but not shocked at what they saw. Maybe they were here to take her back. She quickly dismissed that thought. There was no way they were from the hospital. But somehow they seemed to know about her. She swallowed again, this time her girlish voice a bit more clear and focused, though still insignificant to the background noise of the city.

"What…are you?"

The two of them exchange momentary glances - some kind of silent communication. When the Asian looks back, you notice that there's something wrong with his eyes. They were dark and incredibly cunning when you first looked upon them, but now they seem glazed and cloudy; it's impossible that he's spontaneously developed glaucoma, like some of the old patients at St. Mary’s - he's only a handful of years older than you anyway.

That way the man's gaze hits you - it's like he's looking at you but not looking at you. Almost like he's peering across to see.

"She's swarming with murder. It's all over her." the Asian says, voice only slightly muffled by the scarf he wears, speech punctuated by a slow, steamy breath.

The skullcap-wearing one gives a slight nod. "We can't just leave her here. She'll die."

"Like hell we can't." the Asian says, voice edged with sudden tenseness. "We've got bigger things to worry about."

Swarming with murder...

Then it was true. She glanced down at the blood. She did this. The truth of it hit her like a ton of bricks and her legs almost gave out beneath her. Jericho had no clue as to how the other one knew, but she felt that it was the truth and her instincts had been right so far. She didn't even hear the rest of their conversation past those three words. Her vision was growing hazy and she felt as though she would faint. There was nothing for her. No place to go, nobody to help her. There were only these two...

That thought brought her back into reality, and only then did the words they exchanged burn themselves into her numb mind. They couldn't leave! They knew what was going on. They had answers.

"No!"

The word was barked out with desperation a second before she realized she said it, and she almost wished she could take it back.

The two of them turn to look at you with feral intent. It appears as though they were about to push into a heated argument - their body language is tense, and you can feel violent, charged energy between them. The Asian even curled his hands into fists. Your plea though, it reaches them, and they watch you silently.

The way they move is strange. The Asian even cocks his head ever so slightly, a predatory gleam in his eyes, now as dark as they were when you first saw them. But then you notice that they're not looking at you anymore. They're looking past you. Following their gaze brings the soft crunch-crunch of footfalls against the alley's snow, the gentle grind and crush of sole and brittle glass.

You're surprised to see that it's a woman, not too much older than you, maybe twenty or so. Her features are stark but pretty- she looks Slavic. Maybe this new figure is Russian, or from one of those former Soviet nations. The young woman has a good, lithe athletic build that many would find attractive, but she seems a bit on the lean side. Her hair is jet black and streaked with a shock of red, cut short to curve down just past her chin, framing her face. You can see a tangle of barbwire tattoos crawl up her neck, braided here and there with skulls blooming from rose blossoms. The tattoo ends just at her jawline, where her left ear is studded with about seven steel rings. A stud rests in her right eyebrow as well. You notice a scar runs delicately from her left eyelid down her cheek, a jagged wisp of a line that splits like a tendril of lightning to her upper lip.

Draped over her shoulders is a long black leather trench coat, the collar lined with white fur. The woman wears a slightly torn long-sleeved black and red jersey top underneath, the team logo long since faded. The shirt comes down to her midriff, exposing her toned stomach, yet she seems not at all cold. She wears a pair of gray and black urban camo cargo pants and her feet are clad in steel-toed combat boots.

The young woman’s blue-green eyes are like blades of glacier ice, glowing orange as she takes a drag from a cigarette perched upon full lips.

"Kitt...shit." the skullcap-wearing one mutters. "Look, we got sidetracked. This cub, she's probably the one they were talking about."

Kitt's eyes rest on you as a wry curve twists her lips into a smirk. "She looks like prey to me," the woman says dryly, with the hint of an accent.

Music: Finch "Worms of the Earth"


A sharp intake of breath rushes into her nose as Jericho once more tenses. What did these people want? Why wouldn't they help her? She wanted to scream, fight. Violent thoughts like she'd never had before raced through her mind, and that scared her. The heat of her anger fought against the chill of her fear at what these three might do to her. In the end they were at a stalemate. Like always, nothing in her life came with a simple answer.

She said nothing to the new girl on her left or the two guys on her right. She just stared at the woman. There was no way of her knowing it, but the feral gleam she'd seen in each of their eyes was now in her brilliant blue eyes, a perfect reflection for her inner turmoil.

Your pointed stare sends a bit of a chuckle trembling across Kitt’s chest, and the woman reaches into a pocket to flick out a lighter, playing it between her fingers, over her knuckles. The Slav takes a few puffs as she looks you over, the orange glow flaring in her eyes. There's a slow click-click as she plays with the lighter, opening and closing it with rhythmic intent.

Kitt tears you down with her gaze. Sizing you up like meat. It's an uncomfortable feeling.

The female rolls her cigarette between sharp white teeth. The way she looks at you is chilling. You get no feeling from her, no scent, not like the other two, but you know Kitt is like you. It's her poise, that of a predator, and her eyes, glinting and savage. You feel instinctively too that she is higher in some hierarchy than you- older, more powerful. Your rational mind might equate this to being outnumbered three to one, but your heart knows better.

The Slavic girl frowns, flicking the cigarette to sputter and spit cinders up against the wall before it hisses out in the snow.

"Fuck her. She's not in our territory." she flicks her eyes to the Asian. "Frost, they already have our scent. The longer we wait the closer they get. Let's move."

Frost nods, and turns to leave.

The skullcap-wearing one lets out an angry sound, a deep-throated growl that sounds more wolf than man.

"I can't believe this bullshit! Galen would never abandon someone like this. Look at her!"

"Galen's dead, and I'm alpha now." Kitt replies icily. "You want to take her back home? Deal with her shit?"

"So you're their leader?" Jericho asks the girl, Kitt, her high voice cutting through the hostile exchange. It was the calmness that was so odd about it. No anger or fear, just a simple question.

She regards you like you were utterly beneath her. Trash or something. That look in her eyes though, the dominance of her bearings, despite her surroundings - you know that she is alpha. You also feel that she's not being spiteful to you, just very calculating, very businesslike. Ruthless. It's nothing personal.

In the distance, you can hear faint howls. They sound above the city noise somehow, threaded into it, unnoticeable to most, perceived in a deeper, instinctive level by you - and the others. The men tense. Frost even growls softly behind his scarf.

"Let's go." Kitt says, turning away from you, showing her back with a swirl of trench coattails. Frost moves around your shivering, naked form, staring you down but keeping his distance as he follows the woman.

"You're fucking heartless, Kitt. This is low, even for you." You hear from behind you. With a quick unzip, the skull-cap wearing youth pulls off his jacket and gently drapes it over your shoulders. It's warm and smells like him - a mix of cigarettes, old leather and a hint of iron and Old Spice. He doesn't show any sign of discomfort in bearing his torso, a lean but tightly muscled thing, covered in a gray muscle shirt.

"I won't leave her here."

Jericho clutched the ends of the jacket tightly around herself, relishing in the warmth it brought. Peering up through the thick, matted curtain of her bangs she looked upon the only one of the three whose name she still did not know as her savior. The crushing weight of her solitude was lifted. She had someone who cared about her. She could feel her cheeks grow warm and her eyes grow moist at this courageous act.

"Thank you." She said, her voice barely above a whisper.

The alpha turns her head back just enough to stare murderously at the both of you, lip curling back into a sneer, revealing teeth that are a little too long and pointed to belong to a human. You can see Kitt's eyes narrow to cold blue-green points. For a moment, the two of them face off. The man even takes a step in front of you, interposing himself protectively. You can see the hair under his skullcap bristling.

The howls again.

"Fucking Christ, Jack. Fine. She's your burden then. Take her back to the place. Don't let them follow you."

"We need his strength, Kitt!" Frost protests, eyes smoldering amber, anger setting his form rigid.

"This is the price of weakness. He'll just slow us down. We'll go on to find Azrael ourselves."

Jack's hand grasps yours firmly, and he begins to pull you back towards the fence. There's urgency in his eyes.

Music: Dawn of the Dead OST, "That Dog's Just Fucked Up"


The others begin to break into a flat-out run, kicking up snow as they round the corner onto the street.

Jericho allows herself to be led, sparing a quick glance back at the two leaving figures as she did. Despite how they treated her, she was still worried about them. Especially since they would now be one man short because of her.

"C'mon girl." Jack says through gritted teeth, his walk purposeful as he leads you to the fence at the other side of the alley. He stops and looks up, cursing under his breath as the howls pierce the air, this time much, much closer.

He looks back at you, nostrils flaring as he sniffs the air with wolfish tenseness. Jack's hazel pupils are dilated, searching.

"They're close now..." he says. "No, no questions." Jack barks, cutting you off. "You just gotta trust me, okay? I bet we could lose 'em in the Shadow. Really our only chance now." He looks back towards the mouth of the alley. "Fuck, fuck, fuck...okay, I know there's one down on Baker Street."

He puts his bandaged palm up against the criss-cross of chain link fence, closing his eyes in concentration. The wires around his hand shimmer and squirm to life, creaking and squealing away like unraveled thread until there's just enough of a hole for you to duck through.

"Move. MOVE!" he urges, as the two of you break into a run.

Jericho was completely silent as she ran and Jack ran. She had a ton of questions. Why where they were running? Who they were running from? How he did that? What was the Shadow? But it was a huge struggle for her to even keep up with Jack, her body so unused to any kind of physical activity. He was practically dragging her, her arms flailing in an awkward run. If she even could get in any words between her gasping breaths then she doubted he would be able to understand them. She just concentrated on running, not looking back to whoever, or whatever it was that was trying to catch them.

You never were exactly the star of the track team. The ward never had a track team, or much of a track for that matter. Maybe they didn't want young patients getting any ideas about escaping. But here you are, running at near a sprint, and not even getting very winded. Something's happened to your body. It's much stronger, much tougher than you ever thought possible while you spent those six years in the hospital.

Jack, however, doesn't show any signs of tiring. His breath, his heartbeat - and you can hear both as you run with him - are as regular as his footfalls.

The alleyways twist and turn into a labyrinthine mess of brick and backstreets, trash and graffiti. You can feel something close on your heels, even though you don't see anything when you look back. Jack's grip is harsh and firm, and he doesn't ever let up.

Despite your lack of athletic experience, the chase sings to your soul. It makes you want to howl.

The experience was frightening and exhilarating at the same time. The coursing adrenaline, the rhythmic pounding of her heart, the burning in her muscles. Nothing felt more natural to her in her entire life. If her life wasn't on the line then she might have actually taken the time to enjoy it. But at the moment she would do anything for them to stop and be someplace safe.

At last, you do come to a stop. You and Jack emerge from the city's backstreets when he pulls you out in front of a lonely corner. A closed comic book store with flickering "AJ'S CARDS AND COMICS" purple neon lights sits here, stacks of books and fanboy wares on display in the frosted window. The street is vacant, part of a dead end of shops that have been closed for the night, shuttered windows on the second floor grated and dark.

Jack keeps you close behind him, sniffing the air with sharp breaths, looking left and then right. He stops as his eyes rest on an old blue mailbox dusted with snow. Flakes of white come down from the open sky, dark clouds weeping frozen shards of rain.

You can see the crescent moon peeking out for a moment between a break in the shadowy sky. It calls to you with a faraway song you hear in your heart. Comforting and mysterious, that sliver of argent light shines briefly against the heavenly void, before your savior gives you another tug.

He puts his hand on the mailbox, brushing away the snow so that his fingertips can rest on the metallic surface.

"You feel that, girl?" he asks, eyes intense.

And you do. A faint buzzing, a tingling that makes your frozen hairs stand on end. It's coming from the mailbox. You can feel it, coursing with power.

Jericho was doubled over, clutching her stomach as she gulped down as much air as she could into her burning lungs. Her head jerked up and down as she nodded emphatically, not wanting to waste the breath she'd just gotten back by speaking.

"We don't have much time, okay? You're gonna have to run before you can walk tonight, or we're both dead." He cups the back of your head with a warrior's affection. "Pay attention. We're crossing over." He grapples for words. "I'm no good at this, fuck..." he mutters. "We need Az for this." Jack sighs and frowns, chewing thoughtfully on his bottom lip.

"Alright - you've got some power in you, and you've got to call to it, right now. Listen for me, and listen for that power, and then PUSH. That's the best I can give you. If this works, you're about to see some serious shit. If not, you'll be here yourself, and they're gonna catch up with you, and I can't help you anymore."

"Ready?"

Jericho takes in the seriousness in his face and nods, determined to help him in whatever way she could.

You do as Jack says, hand on the mailbox. Suddenly there's a sickening lurch, a feeling of displacement, and your vision swims. You don't feel the cold anymore; the sensation of something warm, no, hot...it's wrapping around you, rubbery and fleshlike, reminding you of the texture of scar tissue. Pushing you through the folds, you open your eyes to a very different version of Detroit City.

Like skeletal fingers, rusty skyscrapers rise bent, as if in a nuclear blast, windowless and hollow, openings like gaping mouths. Shadows flit around them like flies, darting in and out of gutted buildings. Jack pulls you back with a snarl as a car roars around the twisted, pitted street on its back wheels, like it was on hind legs, zooming past faster than you can follow. Motes of light dances unhealthily, lurking in alleyways, suckling greedily at vaguely humanoid figures that look like melted slabs of flesh.

It's loud- moans, rustling breaths, whines and creaking masonry, all transposed over the roar of city white noise.

As you look around, you see black, bloody clumps of razorblades, spinning and shrieking in metallic cries as they crowd on your back, whispering in your ears.

[Kill....kill.....killllll....]

"[Get the FUCK off her!]" Jack barks, swatting them away with his bandaged hand, baring teeth that begin to elongate into fangs, eyes yellowed and bright, face suddenly angular and lupine.

That language...it's like the echo of a childhood memory. Yet you understand all of it now.

Jericho just stood there taking everything in silent awe. These things...this place...it was like her visions. The spotty, flickering images and feelings she got when she was younger but...real.

"How...what is this place?" She asked Jack, finally finding her voice as her gaze traversed the warped terrain all around her. It was beautiful, it was terrifying, so familiar and yet so new.

"It's the Shadow." he says grimly, brushing the last murder spirit away from you. They squeal in protest, calling you mother, before they flee into the night.

The first real answer you've gotten tonight.

"Look..." he says. You can tell he's very tense, but those brown eyes are difficult to read. Fear? Anger? Something's there when he looks at you, and then there's a grudging smile.

"We've got to get to Union Street, that's our turf. You'll be safe there." He gives your hand a friendly squeeze, but doesn't let go. "This place is fucking dangerous, even for us, 'specially you."

You start off at an easy jog.

"What's your name?"

Music: Quake OST "Parallel Dimensions"

"It's Jericho." She replied a bit nervously. Now that everything had calmed down a little bit she was very aware that she was naked. She tried to tell herself that modesty wasn't really much of a concern at this point, but she couldn't help the vulnerable feeling she had. She'd considered giving him a fake name, but only briefly. After all he'd done so much for her tonight she at least owed him the truth.

"Oh yeah? Hey, cool, that's..." Jack stops for a moment, body shifting defensive, lips pulling back to reveal his teeth again. You feel it too. They're here now. They've followed you in.

"Fuck. Alright, Jericho, I know one place they ain't gonna follow us. C'mon!"
She takes a deep breath through her nose, her body rising with the motion, and then nods, ready to run again and escape whatever horrors that had brought them into this place to begin with.

She takes a deep breath through her nose, her body rising with the motion, and then nods, ready to run again and escape whatever horrors that had brought them into this place to begin with.

The two of you fly down the street, Jack cursing under his breath. Ruined sidewalk clacks under your passage, and the street becomes more and more overgrown with thick, pulsing vines of black metal, thorny protrusions slowly cutting through concrete as they coil tighter, choking the gutted buildings and crumbling streets of this place.

Strange, shimmering yellow lights circle and dance past you- they have children's voices and hum a wordless nursery rhyme. The moon above looms large, taking up far more of the sky than it normally would, light warm and silvery, its crescent cutting a great swath through the strange, roiling heavens. When the two of you dash through the moonlight, you can see runic symbols shimmer on Jack's neck, his shoulders, back, and arms. They glow quietly, some intricate and some simple, like tribal patterns splashed on a cave wall. Pulled forward as it is, your arm is bare, but you do see the a swirling trail of silvery, glowing marks extending up from your shoulder.

Where the hell is he taking you, and what the fuck is following you?
 
Last edited:

Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A Mother's Scream

Music: Christian East, "Slow Georgian Drums"

The paranoid feeling Jericho felt every time she was off her medication was back, intensified by her surroundings, the impending danger, and the overall strangeness of the night. She was marginally less awkward in running now that she'd gotten a pattern down, but she was still in no shape to keep this up for very long. They had to get where they were going soon or she might put both of them in serious danger.

You come to a crossroads. One road leads off into the heart of the city, where three obsidian ziggurats tower over the rest of the blown-out, ruined skyscrapers of this blasted, rotting reflection of Detroit. They stand in the distance half-finished, or perhaps half destroyed, wire frames that bleed out crimson vapors from their tenebrous, mile-high forms. Circling around them in orbit are thousands upon thousands of rusted cars, drifting lazily in a haphazard, chaotic spin.

The other road offers the gray desolation of distant, bald hills that shiver and creak with a languid roll, hundreds of houses buckling and riding atop like parasites. Are those...the Detroit suburbs? Ahead is the sprawling, mazelike complex of apartments, a jumble of wire, stone and concrete, yawning windows criss-crossed by boards, frames chewing and gumming the obstructions like they were mouths.

In the moment that Jack stops to get his bearings, you realize that you haven't seen a single person here. Just strange, nightmarish things born from fever dreams. They remind you of the dreams that the other children had and told during group therapy sessions back at the hospital.

Jack looks back over at you, licking his dry lips with a forceful, almost wolven swipe of his tongue. "We're slowing down. I just don't have fucking time to teach you how to change. You can feel them catching up, can't you?"

She nodded quickly, not understanding anything save for that one fact that caused her hairs to rise. She kept looking behind her for any sign of them and the back to Jack for instruction, her eyes almost impossibly large with fear. What did he mean they were slowing down? Does that mean they were giving up? Was it because of her that they were now done for?

His face was impassive. If Jack was frustrated, he was hiding it well - you got the sense that this was very much life or death on his part. Maybe what he meant to say was that -you- were slowing him down. But you were his burden, just like Kitt had said. Your savior's teeth are gritted, his breath no longer steam in this strange, nightmarish place you've come to. With a quick glance left, then right, Jack gives your hand another squeeze.

"It's gonna be okay. Up ahead is Thrasher's lair, and nobody's crazy enough to go in there. Cept us. Keep quiet in there, okay? Last thing we want to do is wake him up."

A creepy tingle ran down the frail girl's spine at that last part, but she was determined to, if anything, make sure Jack got out of this okay.

"Sure."

Sparing her first word since they'd started this nightmarish run, she waited for him to lead the way.

Music: Fallout 2 OST, "The Lair"

Together you climb into the tangle of concrete and rubble that composes this dark, ruined reflection of one of the city's apartment complexes. For the first time since you entered the Shadow, you can hear the howls splitting the air behind you. Not far. Maybe a block or less. Your human mind swiftly translates their call:

'Prey. Hunt. Kill.'

You have to climb an eight-foot high embankment made of crumbling stone, blackened and covered in slime. The stench wafting from beyond is indescribable - more fetid than anything you've ever smelled before. Jack lets go of your hand and runs up the wall, scrabbling forcefully up and over, rolling around to grab your hands and pull you up. You kick and struggle, putting everything you have into making it there quickly.

Jack scarcely gives you time to catch your breath, taking your hand again and pulling you through a briar patch maze of fallen rail and bunches of broken wood, bits of glass embedding themselves on the bottom of your feet painfully (take 1 Lethal). Your savior's nostrils flare when he smells your blood, but doesn't give you time to stop and fret about it. Sharp pain shoots through your tender soles, but strangely begins to quickly numb to a dull ache.

You move through a courtyard choked with garbage spilling out from doorways, rotting trash that decays and shrivels before your eyes. Your ears perk when you hear scratchings in the windows above.

The mounds of trash that lies festering on the porches of the gutted first floors of this place - they're moving. Disgusting, bloated purple maggots writhe through the offal, eating and gorging themselves. You notice that whatever they touch...decays...

You notice something that looks like a mannequin leg, but it's bleeding, like it was made out of flesh, crawling with purple maggots. One of them squeals and pops into messy green ichorous gore. Jack covers his nose and mouth with the crook of his elbow, wincing at the hideous stench of this place.

As the smells made their way into her nose her body tensed for what was sure to come. The overpowering stench of this place mixed with her newfound sense of smell and all of the running took it's toll, and she heaved over, clutching her stomach as she released it's meager contents all over the already filthy ground in front of her.

"Shit..." Jack whispers in a hiss, shaking his head. He looks irritated at first, but his gruff expression softens, and you feel his hand on your back, patting, rubbing in comforting circles. "It's gonna be alright, girl. When we get back home you can take a nice hot bath, ok? Watch some TV, sleep on the couch?" He glances back over his shoulder and takes a tentative sniff. Jack grins a bit.

"I think we lost em."

Wincing, Jericho dry heaved once more, and once more embarrassed at how pathetic she must seem. Once she was sure it was all gone the small girl straightened out, running the sleeve of the jacket over her mouth and regretting it instantly when she remembered whose it was.

"Who..are...they?" She panted, trying to take in as little of the putrid air as possible to keep herself from heaving again.

"Anshega," he spits, keeping his voice down. "Fuckers basically live to hunt and kill us. Any of us they capture, they torture and try to turn." Jack taps the scar that runs across his cheek. "Courtesy of the Anshega." He shrugs his shoulders lightly. "And if they get you and they don't kill ya, they'll try to brainwash you. They're wolves, like us – Uratha is what we call our kind. If you’re into Hollywood bullshit," Jack sneers angrily, "we’re werewolves."

Werewolves…

"Yeah, but it’s nothin’ like that, girl. Things aren’t rosy between the People. It's all about ideology and shit...who killed who like thousands of years ago. Thing is, there's way more of the Anshega than there are of us Urdaga -" Jack begins, picking his way carefully between the trash that squelches underfoot. "Or, if you prefer, Forsaken. We call the Anshega the Pure."

It's a little too quiet as you walk with him, and even though Jack tries to keep his voice down, it echoes eerily across the empty facade. He seems to notice this too.

"We can talk later about this, back on the Flesh side. I'm getting the creeps walking on Thrasher's doorstep. Az said he's like 50 feet high or someshit but he hates hearing a mother scream. Weird huh? Fucking spirits..."

Jericho followed him, hanging on to his every word but not really understanding much of it. Wolves, Forsaken, Pure, Spirits, just what were these people? What was she? He’d said they were both wolves…werewolves. But they weren’t real…were they?

Her eyes darted about nervously to every subtle movement in the yard, every perceived sound no matter how slight. She'd brought her hands to her chest and was drywashing them underneath the too-long sleeves of Jack's coat.

Music: Jesper Kyd, Assassin's Creed OST "Robert De Sable"

Suddenly, Jack whirls around, throwing you behind him with a threatening spread of his arms, baring his teeth with a growl. A rapid change overcomes his frame. His hair bristles under his skullcap and black fur pushes through the pores of his forearms and elbows, form packing on extra pounds of raw muscle and another foot in height. Jack's fingernails lengthen to sharp points, and the growl in his throat is deep and wolven - you hear almost no man in that warning sound. His stance is feral, hunched a bit in readiness.

"Persistent motherfuckers..." Jack snarls, voice low and guttural.

From the tangle of black, thorny metal wire, fallen masonry and haphazard boards forty yards behind you, four huge wolves appear, stalking with slow, eager motions. Their coats are all shades of gray, black, or dirty brown, but they are bigger than anything you've ever seen on TV or read about in a book. Much bigger than a man, closer to the size of a grizzly. Jaws slavering, lips pulled back to reveal rows of sharp fangs. Their eyes are malicious, glinting with incredible intelligence and murderous intent. Hackles rise when they see Jack, barking and braying - almost like they were jeering.

Jericho caught sight of them underneath one of Jack's spread arms as she dared to peer around him. Wolves...

Her hand shoots to her mouth to stifle her gasp and she slowly backs up a step. Her instincts were screaming at her to run, to flee, to find someplace safe and hide until they were gone. But she wouldn't leave. Fighting her natural reaction she looks around to find something, anything that could be of help. Or anywhere they could run.

The leader of the monstrous wolves pads forwards, snarling and snapping at the others, who stand their ground. He's the largest of the pack, fur a gray-white color, patches missing where scarred flesh is bared. His mane is spiky and matted, eyes reddish-yellow. Scars criss-cross his snout, and as he nears, you can smell singed fur and flesh even above the garbage. The creature barks and growls in a strange tongue that is both utterly alien and undeniably familiar. Again, you find yourself understanding it, like it was a language long-forgotten but swiftly returning to your mind.

"[Jack, Jack, Jack. Wrong place at the wrong time, as usual. We thought we might find you trying to hide with the rest of the garbage.]"

The monster looks at you hungrily, clicking its fangs, swiping them with a long black tongue.

"[Give us the bitch. We might just let you walk away alive.]"

"Like fucking HELL I will!" Jack shouts defiantly, standing his ground. "You're gonna have to kill me to get to her, you hear me Damien?"


"No." Jericho gasped. That couldn't happen. She wouldn't let it. Fighting against every instinct she forced her shaky legs to move from behind the protection of Jack's back and step closer to the wolves. An idea was forming in her head, one that would no doubt put her in serious danger even if it did work. But at least Jack would be safe, if only he got away.

"If...if you let Jack go then I'll go with you." she says quietly, her conviction outweighing her fear.

Jack looks back at you with utter horror.

Snarling laughter skitters from the alpha wolf's throat. He looks at you, tilting his head. The way his teeth are bared - it looks like a sadistic grin.

"[Smart little bitch. See that, Jack? She *wants* to come with us. She's ours by right anyway.]" The alpha leers at you. "[Come here.]"

"What the fuck are you doing, Jericho?" Jack hisses at you through sharp teeth. Disbelief, betrayal...sorrow...all these flash through his yellowed eyes.

Jericho glances back at him, her big blue eyes shimmering with moisture. There was a good chance that she'd never see him again after this. Still, he would be fine, and that made her happy.

"Just go, Jack." She whispered, forcing her mouth into a sad smile. "It'll be okay." She offered him a hidden wink as if she knew what she was doing. Right.

"I...I just can't like...leave you." Jack says softly, in his gruff, feral voice. He's heard that determination in your words. The fur and muscle, the harsh, angular cast to his face - it all melts away, and you just see him again. His eyes look pained. He's scared for you, you can tell. Jack's tried so hard to keep you safe, and now he's going to lose you. Then he catches that wink.

Trust. It's a hard thing to come by. You see something wrenching inside the man, this wolf that was ready to die to protect you.

"Alright. I hope you know what you're doing, girl." He pats your cheek, once, twice, with brotherly affection you've never had before. "Good luck."

He steps aside.

"[Fucking touching.]" the wolf Jack called Damien growls. He lets out a grunt of pain, and you hear the pop and snap of bones as a change overcomes the great predator. Within the span of a few moments, the fur and muscle steams away, disappearing into pores, flesh and frame shifting and shrinking into something more recognizable - a man, twenty-five or so, tall and imposing.

He stands maybe 6'4, well muscled and athletic, a hungry cast to his stance. Damien wears a loose-fitting gray hoodie adorned with a black, thorn-wreathed upside down cross that's split in half by an open zipper, revealing a skin-tight jet tank top underneath. Black slacks and boots, the kind you'd see at Neo-Nazi rallies or KKK meets, dangle with thin links of chains. His neck is crawling with tattoos of flames and death, wriggling bodies and torn angel wings, face kissed by white scars that look like they were made by red-hot whip lashes. The alpha's shaven, slicked-back hair is dyed platinum blonde, eyes yellow and as wolven as they were in his previous form. A tattoo of the number '32' is inked just below his right eye. He'd be handsome if it weren't for those scars - yet there's something evil and hateful in Damien's smile that leaves a deep part of you recoiling.

The dark-eyed Anshega alpha steps forwards towards you with a hand outstretched, that slick white-toothed grin sharp and promising.

Jack's act warmed her heart more than it had ever been. Even more than when Charity had offered her desert as a birthday present. Already close to tears, the moisture in Jericho's eyes burbled over her lashes creating twin trails down her pale cheeks, shining in the light of the crescent moon, taking solace in that if she did die then at least someone would be sad.

"I'll see you around, huh?" She said quietly, her sad smile turning wry. And then she faced the scarred older now-man, her expression hardening. "Not until Jack leaves."

"I said come here." Damien sneers, showing a bit of fang. There's a horrible gleam in his eye then as you face him, something that bespeaks of an unlimited capacity for cruelty, for sadism, and murder. You've seen it in a few of the other patients at Saint Mary's, the ones who were moved to the higher security levels. Sociopaths, psychopaths, twisted and truly evil. The difference here was that this one liked it. Reveled in it.

With that gleam he looms huge in your mind's eye, towering over you, gripping your heart with instinctual dread.

"I'm true to my word," Damien says. "Isn't that right, boys? You'll see that soon enough, bitch. I'm letting him go."

Jack bristles at the way he treats you, hands clenching to fists, digging in so hard they begin to bleed. Shaking his head, he turns to leave, breaking into an easy jog, looking back once, twice, as he makes his way through the choked courtyard of this nightmarish place.

Jericho lets out a long relieved sigh, but then tenses again at the weight of the action she was about to attempt. It was stupid and reckless and so unlike her, but it was the only way she could see to make sure Jack would get out safely.

She took one step closer, and then another, doubt shooting through her mind as to whether or not she should do it. Maybe she should just go with them and try to escape later. Another step. She was almost there.

She took one more step, staring Damien in his ugly eyes with shaky determination. And then she took a deep breath, as deep a one she could, and then she did the one thing she'd been trying not to do since this whole thing started. She screamed.

Your high-pitched scream echoes throughout the courtyard, past the festering garbage heaps, into the yawning windows of the tangled, gutted buildings and past the slopes of crumbling fallen masonry. It cuts through the air, shrill and sharp.

"You fucking stupid little cunt." Damien hisses. He lunges down with a snarl, fingers wrapping around your throat. The sinews in his right arm bulge under the hoodie as he lifts you up effortlessly, grip viselike as your bare feet dangle above the ground. You grip his wrist and hand, trying to pry it off, to give yourself just enough air to breathe. He leans in, eyes black, like twin pools of void, glinting nightmare stars. "I'm going to burn those brands off your pretty skin, and you're gonna wear out your FUCKING chords screaming tonight, I guarantee it."

"Dire Wolves. Kill Jack."

The remaining three of the alpha's pack howl and eagerly break into a stalking lope, dashing around the two of you, tongues lolling out and slavering with anticipation.

Music: Silent Hill 2, "Ashes and Ghost"

Jericho struggled underneath Damien's tight grip, her frail fingers clawing at his hand to try and get him to release his hold. Why wasn't it working? Where was Thrasher?

Her plan was a long shot, she'd known that from the start. The idea had clicked in her head like a lightbulb when she was looking around for some sort of escape, the twin sentences simultaneously ringing in her head:

‘Az said he's like 50 feet high or someshit but he hates hearing a mother scream.’

‘Mother...’


Of course she wasn't a real mother, but maybe in this place it didn't matter. In a world of spirits maybe that's what counted. It wasn't a very good plan, but it was something. And she had to wonder in what way the Thrasher hated the screaming. Was it the sound, or was it the action? Would he go for the one screaming, or the thing making her scream?

But it seemed that plan was out the window. Now she had to worry about getting away. She didn't have many options left to her. She doubted she had the strength to break free by herself, but there was one sensitive area on his body that, thanks to him lifting her, was very close to foot level. She pulled her leg back, putting all of her meager strength into this one action, and kicked.

Your leg strikes out, and you put everything into it. There's no doubt as to what's at stake. Damien's wolves are hunting Jack down. They'll kill him, all for trying to help you. That red hot heat, that horrible feeling of anger, of uncontrollable rage begins to filter up from your bones, from your gut, from your spine, crawling up your throat.

Damien laughs cruelly as he sees what you're trying to do, twisting a bit and holding you at arm's length, even though you connect with his stomach. "Got some fucking fight in you, huh?" he marvels, as his fingers grip your throat more tightly. Choking you. Cutting off your air. (Take 4 bashing)

You can't breathe. Your ears begin to whine and all you can hear is your blood rushing through your ears and Damien's chilling laughter. Your world begins to sway, to rumble. The air comes back as he drops you to the ground.

"...The fuck?"

You hear a low, rumbling moan, deep and guttural, like a sluggish roar that rattles the broken window panes and makes the ground tremble underfoot. The thorny black metallic vines that tangle and run through this entire apartment complex begin to slap against the ground, stiffening and squirming.

Behind you, you hear a deafening crash. Smashing out up from the ground but...it IS the ground, the walls, the masonry, the splintered wood, eyes a thousand shards of mirrored glass, trailing these writhing, thrashing thorn veins- it must be at least 50 feet high...Jack wasn't exaggerating. The thing is fucking horrible. Like a fractured, makeshift golem or scarecrow out of a child's nightmare.

The three wolves chasing Jack are scattered like dry leaves, thrown tumbling across the garbage heaps with frightened whines.

It moves with creaks and groans, turning its attention to the two of you.

It ROARS.

Jericho looked behind her to the beast known as Thrasher, and to the beast known as Damien. She needed to run, to flee. She knew she was one of them, she had the power to change, and right now she really needed to be one of them. A wolf.

She shut her eyes tight, trying to ignore the chaos around her and will herself to change. She needed to be big, she needed to be strong, and, most importantly, she needed to be fast. She imagined the fur bristling on her body, stretching, growing, she tried to find that special thing that she needed to change.

Unfortunately, she had no idea where it was. She opened her eyes and looked down at the hands keeping her body from the floor. They were the same as ever. Small, thin, pale. Crud. She looked to Thrasher and then to Damien, seeing what their plans were since hers had failed.

"You...you called him!" Damien shouts with hateful, accusatory breath, taking a few steps back from your fallen form. His boots grind into the ground as he tenses, waiting for the leviathan to strike. A massive hand comes swooping down like a hurricane wind, smashing into the ground where Damien had been moments before.

The gale force rushes over you, peppering you with debris. Shards of wood and concrete stab Jack's coat and slice your cheeks, but to your amazement, the minor cuts heal up almost instantly.

The alpha rises bleeding, clothes torn, nose dripping a thin trail of blood. He howls and his pack answers the bloodthirsty, savage cry. Throwing his arms open, Damien's back arches and he begins to grow to more than eight feet, a massive war machine of a wolf, somewhere between man and canine, all monster, sinews rippling under shaggy fur, claws the size of daggerblades, fangs easily able to rip a person from limb to limb. Damien's wolf-head looks down at you, eyes gleaming and promising death - promising remembrance, before he tilts upwards to glare at Thrasher. With a roar, the alpha leaps up nearly twenty feet, launching himself in the air at the behemoth's throat. The others of the pack have recovered, and attack, crawling and biting, like warrior ants on a spider.

Jericho realized that now would be a most excellent time to run, and run she did. Remembering which direction Jack ran she pushed herself from the dirty ground and ran full out, trying her best to find him even though she knew there was a very small chance that she could find him in this horrible labyrinth of twisting buildings and horrible creatures.

Somehow, miraculously, Jericho knew where he went. His unique scent, the scent that had been wafting from his jacket since he'd given it to her, was still in the air, faintly mixed in with the horrible stench of garbage. Drawing on that scent and sniffing like her life depended on it, and really it did, she continued to run as fast as she could.

Music: Jeremy Soule, Guild Wars: Nightfall "Desperate Flight"


The great monster that is Thrasher creaks and groans under the weight of its body as it swats at the Pure that attack it, clawing and scratching at its back, trying to pick them off like gnats. With another roar that sounds like a mechanical whine, the howl of a train, and the moan of twisted steel, it throws itself onto the ground, taking the wolves with it. You can hear their agonized cries, and they begin to run as Thrasher pursues with its shambling gait. They manage to only barely keep one step ahead of it as it smashes through the overhanging pipes and rails, raking through clotheslines that hang like wet hair. The ground shakes as you put as much distance between the courtyard and yourself as you can while still hunting after Jack.

You scramble up a ledge that's made from a fallen slab of concrete, perched atop crushed slats of rusty tin roofing, all fused together from age. A diminutive, lizardlike creature that looks like a collection of metal filings and washer scales puffs up a black trash bag bladder at its throat when you reach the top, chittering in alarm and scrambling away. Skidding down the other side and brushing past a tangle of black, thorny metal growths, you run headlong, blindly almost, into that scent you've been tracking-

Jack.

Music: Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines "Come Around (Unused)"


Your savior looks startled for a moment, and then wraps his arms around you, holding you close. "Jericho! You made it!" he grins.

"Urfarah's ghost, you're such a crazy girl, you know that?"

Her breath came out in a startled gasp as he brought her to him. She was startled by the sudden closeness and fraternity shown by the other wolf. But only at first. Quickly she slid her arms around his body, hugging him tight as a warm feeling spreading throughout her body. She smiled, pressing her face into his chest and reveling in the scent that had led her to him. They were okay. They were alive!

Jack holds you at arm's length, shaking his head in wonderment. "I don't believe it." he looks you over with concern, smirking gently as he does. "You ain't hurt, are you?"

Her grin stretched broad, Jericho shook her head enthusiastically, her almost-white hair rippling with the motion and her eyes practically shining with happiness. Honestly her body had never felt worse in her entire life, but at the moment she couldn't care less.

"I saw what you did back there with Thrasher. That was freakin' amazing." Jack lets you go and scratches the black scruff that peeks out from the back of his skullcap, relief showing in his relaxed stance. "You're gonna make one hell of an Ithaeur. I'm going to tell the others what you did - Kitt might take some convincing, but I think you'll make a great addition to our pack, I mean, if you want to join."

Jack gives a nod towards the looming, shattered shadow city. "C'mon. We made kind of a detour but we can take it easy now that Thrasher's after those assholes." He laughs, slamming his fist into his palm in excitement. "Damn! Never thought I'd see the day the Dire Wolves got their asses handed to 'em."

Part of a pack. That sounded nice. There was no part of this night that Jericho enjoyed. Nothing about what she'd gone through was at all appealing to her, but if it meant this closeness with Jack then it was a small price to pay. Because now she had something that she thought she would never have again, something that she'd thought died with her parents. As odd as it was, it felt like family.

Jericho didn't say anything. She rarely ever said anything. And even though she had a ton of questions she was just too exhausted to ask. She would follow Jack wherever he went, and that's all there was to it.

****
 
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Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User
771 Union Street

The two of you proceed in silence through the gutted landscape, quiet except for your closeness. It's strange, to think that after six years you're free. Strange, well -crazy- might be a better word, but it's pretty loaded after tonight, isn't it? It's not too cold here, not like in the real word.

Real seems like a good way to describe it.

Jack's jacket covers the important parts, and even if it didn't, the guy hadn't seemed to mind your nakedness; you didn't catch him looking at you like any of the male doctors did, and even now he only offers you a smile when you catch his gaze. Any spirits that come too close or get too curious, Jack snarls at, prompting them to squeal and keep their distance.

How old is he? 17? 18? Hard to say, but the wolf certainly seems like he knows what he's doing. Luckily, Jack doesn't burden you with questions, just a couple of words here and there:

"Not too far now."

"Almost there."

"You like hot chocolate? I think Frost's hoarded some marshmallows somewhere back at the place. You like those?"

Eventually you reach a levy that seeps black ooze, barely holding a river of sludge at bay. A storm drain, a tunnel that leaks clear slime and smells like death. It's wedged into the rubble, bleeding around the rocks like a tracheotomy tube.

Jericho's nose twinges slightly in disgust of what she saw, but remained silent. She'd faced far worse tonight. She'd just let Jack tell her what she should do.

"Well, it doesn't look like much, but this is our way out." Jack says, casting a glance behind. "I don't want to risk using one of the loci- er gateways back home in case Damien's brood wants to double-back on our scent after they lick their wounds. I hope Thrasher took them out, though. None of them deserves to live."

The older wolf flexes his shoulders "C'mon Jericho. It'll be easier than the mailbox. Gauntlet's pretty weak out in this part of the city. All sorts of shit gets through and causes trouble here." He notes your expression and waves it away. "More on that later."

He crouches down and gets on his stomach at the lip of the drain. With hardly any room on either side of his shoulders, Jack wriggles inside and starts crawling forward after a few kicks of his legs and scrapes of his elbows.

Jericho follows suit almost immediately, not wanting to loose sight of Jack even for a second. With her tiny frame the tunnel offered her a little more room, but it was still a fairly unpleasant experience.

She tries to catalog his words for later, hoping that then most of them will make sense.

After a few moments of crawling you are suddenly falling. Fear. Sliding down face-first through the slimy storm drain, tubes sticky and ribbed like intestines. Claustrophobia, closing in all around you. No light.

You can feel the telltale tingle and buzz of locus energy, even as you tumble down this nightmarish rabbit hole. Reaching out to it is easy and comes to you instinctively. You feel the warmth, the heat, the dislocation and the tugging as you are wrenched from one place to another-

You land with a crunch on the snow on your side, the jacket taking most of the impact. Pushing yourself up, you can see that the buildings are as they should be, the stormy sky overhead casting snow down like glittering tickertape. You're in the cleft of an alley. Behind you are a set of industrial sewer drains that belong to an abandoned factory, windows dark and boarded up. Jack is rummaging through a dumpster, the top half of his body hidden as he hunts.

The other two walls belong to low-income apartment housing, unused clotheslines draped like spiderwebs above, the yellow glow of frosted glass windows the only sign this run-down corner of Detroit is alive at all. Traffic streetside has slowed from both the hour of the night and the mounting snow.

Music: Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, "Dark Asia"

Jericho waited in silence, the sudden rush of cold not had in the Shadow causing her to shiver and pull Jack's now filthy coat tighter around her. Several times she was about to ask Jack if she could help, but each time she convinced herself not to bother as she probably couldn't. Still, she almost subconsciously inched her way closer to the dumpster as she waited for him to find whatever it was he was looking for, actually peering in when she was close enough.

A pair of too-large sweatpants, a ragged, stinking man's undershirt and a pair of hole-filled, threadbare sneakers find their way into your arms.

"The things people throw away..."

Jack shuts the dumpster and brushes his hands and arms off, shrugging at you with an apologetic look in his caramel-hazel eyes. "You gotta pass for human until we can get back to the warehouse. You ain't gonna freeze to death, but still - put these on. We'll buy you something in the morning, okay?"

Jericho just nods. Aside from the smell she didn't really much care what she wore. Turning her back to Jack, a hint of modesty still remaining, she slipped on the sweatpants and pulled the chord at her waist as tight as it would go before looping it around into a knot. The shoes were next. They were also too big for her, but they didn't seem like they'd fall off. Finally there was the shirt. This was what she was dreading the most. Putting on the shirt meant taking off the jacket and giving it back. She'd grown used to its scent. It was familiar and very relaxing. She never wanted it off of her.

Still, after a moment she slowly slid the too-big jacket off and slipped the undershirt on. Turning back around she tentatively held the puffy article of clothing out to Jack. Brushing the bangs out of her face with her free hand she said "Thanks for letting me use it."

Jack turns his back politely while you dress yourself.

"Nah, you can keep it for now. I'm not cold at all, seriously." He rubs his arms vigorously, as if to prove his point, breath billowing out as fog. "Just gotta keep the blood pumping, right?"

Maybe he knows you want to keep it. Could he tell, just by reading your body language?

Sliding back on the jacket she zipped it up to her throat, already comforted by the warmth and smell. It was like a portable version of Jack. Suddenly she didn't really care if he knew why she wanted it. There wasn't really anything that embarrassing about it, was there?

The two of you tromp through the snow and down the empty streets of Detroit, past closed doors and shivering homeless, wrapped and bundled tight inside makeshift shelters, or bunched around barrel fires, trying to keep the snow from dousing their warmth. Jack doesn't say much for a time, leading you through the city that seemed so vast and so sprawling compared to the life you knew at the hospital. The wreaths gather frost, fake holly and pine needles darkly twinkling here and there. Not even the Goodwill Santas are out at this hour.

Even in repose, the sharp neon eyes of Detroit are ever-watchful, blaring advertisement, shouting at you to buy this or check that out, promising quick-fixes and guaranteed cures with a couple of statistics thrown in.

Yet still, the sallow-eyed faces that stare up at you, the wretchedness of their despair - it's a far cry from the fantasy world on Saint Mary's television.

"Yeah, lotta homeless around here." Jack comments. "We've got connections to a few groups of them. One thing you can count on is that they know a lot about what goes on. They see things normal people don't. Spidertop, Sleepy Joe, Kingstown...I'll introduce you to all of 'em sometime. Nice guys, just real down on their luck, kinda like this whole city."

"Okay." She said faintly, continuing to take in the sights. How could this be? So many people without homes? Without jobs? It wrenched her heart thinking that this people must be just like she was. No home, no family, no one to care about you, only worse.

You walk a few blocks, past hanging traffic lights that wink red and yellow hazards, past cars half-buried in snow, and underneath a bridge that clacks noisily with a midnight tram rolling overhead. Eventually the both of you reach a stretch of snow-covered buildings, squat three-storied things with boarded windows of old timber and rusty iron bars. A hanging sign overhead at the mouth of the street marked this place as part of Union Street, Warehouse District. A couple of shops were open opposite the street; they looked like mom and pop places that were still hanging on despite the country's economic woes; clothing, diners, music, all closed for the night though.

Jack grinned. "Alright, we are officially on home turf now. See that building over there? That's one of our hangouts. Kitt's got a place of her own pretty close to here in a better part of town, we crash there sometimes too." He points at the darkened power lines above and chuckles as he walks. "Check it out, Frosty's got it rigged so we steal power from the main grid, so it's like back in the 80s when this place was still running, but the city's so fucked up and we use so little nobody notices. That's the Iron Master way."

"Iron Master?" She asked, thinking back to Jack's stunt on the fence when they first met.

"Yeah, it's my tribe. It's like..." he searches for the words as he crunches through the snow towards the warehouse. "It's like, bigger than a pack but not as close-knit. It ain't like I'm gonna stick my neck out for another crew of Iron Masters, but we'll work together well. Kitt, Frosty...well, I'd jump in to save them anytime, no matter what shit went down."

He pauses, and looks back at you. "They're pissed at me for tonight. We've got a bond, and I can feel what they feel. We're strong together, that's how a pack works. Kitt's alpha, and she's got her own agenda, and Frost, well, he follows her. Me too, just, tonight, well - you're different. Special case."

Jack stands before you, and puts the back of his hand to your cheek, smiling at you like a big brother would to his little sister. "Listen, Jericho. What I did tonight, they might think I'm weak for it. With us, with wolves, we can't show weakness. Not ever. Our enemies'll eat us alive. I shit you not. Just understand that's how it is. I'm your friend - Kitt and Frost, they'll see. You just need to be strong."

He folds his arms over his chest and sighs.

"Especially around Kitt. She's tough as fucking nails, that girl. Ruthless as all hell."

Jericho frowned. "I could tell." She muttered, looking downcast. She was already having second thoughts about this. Her euphoria of having survived was wearing off, and now she was doubting if the whole thing was a good idea. She had to be strong? If Jericho had to pick one word to describe herself it would certainly not be strong. But if it meant being with Jack and feeling like she felt when she was around him then she would definitely try. She just wanted the others to like her.

"Don't worry about it. I'm gonna take care of you, alright?" Jack promises. He stops at a heavy, reinforced steel door and fishes out a keychain with a jangle, flipping through different bits of metal before he opens the lock. With a grunt, the wolf pulls it open to reveal the darkness inside. "And here we are. Let me hit the lights..."

Jack stops at the entrance to the dilapidated warehouse building, casting a momentary glance back to you as he reaches around the corner and fiddles with something, once, twice, three times. He grins wolfishly. "Coupla tripwires Frosty set up. There's three grenades hanging next to the door," he says matter-of-factly. "I bet you could tell we can't exactly afford Brinks, huh?"

The older wolf steps inside, a quick wave of his bandaged hand motioning you to follow him in. Little light streams in from the boarded-up windows of the warehouse; it's probably better that way, considering most of them were either broken or stained filthy brown-green from your first impression of the outside. Still, there's a large skylight in the top that lets in some of the faint street light from above - that at least looks well maintained. You can't see much except the dark shapes and outlines of crates, large spaces; it's pretty big - they could probably fit a huge swimming pool in here with room to spare. There's not much of a draft, but it's still cold.

Lights from above tick-tick and sputter to fluorescent life, bathing the interior of the Union Street Stalker's hangout with illumination. The more you check the place out, the more it seems like it was once a factory, space converted into a warehouse when times got tough. The first floor is cluttered with big crates and boxes, but you notice that they've been arranged in a specific way - rope netting, ladders, gaps, footholds, crossbeams - it's been converted into a grueling and chaotic urban obstacle course that is both formidable and mazelike. Plenty of hiding spaces here. It even looks like there's a bunch of old exercise equipment down in the north end where space has been cleared – a treadmill, punching bag, bench-press...

"Let me get some heat running," Jack says, breath steaming from his lips. "I know it doesn't look like much down here; we all hang out upstairs mostly."

Music: Silent Hill Zero OST, "Snowblind"


Jericho surveyed what would hopefully be her new home with a sort of anxiousness and curiosity. This was a far cry from her usual setting but it didn't seem all that bad. It was almost kind of homey, the exercise equipment making its occupants seem much more normal. Bit there was still the ever present danger of Kitt and Frost who might be lurking anywhere. Jericho was not looking forward to that confrontation. She half expected the pair to be waiting for them at the door.

"Is umm...Kitt upstairs?" Jericho asked, thinking maybe it would be better if she stayed down here.

Jack heads over to a metal staircase as you check the place out, one that leads up to the second floor, a metal gantry that spans most of the length of the warehouse, probably old foreman space and offices. Darkened windows stare out blankly, wallpaper peeling and doors flecked with age and old paint. The wolf stops when you ask, turning to lean his shoulder up against a box. "You smell 'em, don't you? Me, Kitt and Jack. But they ain't here. They're still looking for Az out in the city. They might not even come back tonight."

As he watches you, a soft expression flits over his scarred features. It looks incongruous at first, but then settles, like an old memory or habit long suppressed. A tender smile.

"Hey..." Jack says. "I'm not gonna let em hurt you, okay? You'll be safe here with us, Jericho. Okay?"

Jericho released a long breath of air through her nose with an almost hidden chuckle, her lips forming a tiny smile. There was something about Jack that when he spoke it made all of her fears go away. It gave her strength. She really did worry too much.

"Thank you Jack." She said softly, the earnestly in her voice making it clear that it was not just for what he'd said, but for everything he had done. She knew she could never repay him in a million years for all of the help he had given her, but she could at least try and make this whole experience easier on him by not openly worrying in front of him.

That tenderness gives way back to his gruff facade. Another friendly, sharp-toothed grin.

"Ah, no need to thank me. You saved my ass back there with Thrasher - we both would have been fucked if it wasn't for you." He frowns deeply. "Damien Wolfhound and his Dire Wolves are our biggest rivals here. They're young, like us, and they want to spill blood to prove themselves to the older Anshega."

Jack takes both sides of the staircase's railings in his bandaged hands as he starts up the stairs, shaking his head. "It's a bad time for us right now."

Jericho followed, her newly sneakered feet flopping on the metal stairs but still making considerably less sound than Jack.

"Why are they like that?" She asked in her high voice, thinking back to the way the wolves looked almost mad. "Aren't you both...the same?" She couldn't bring herself to say the word werewolf.

He stops at the top of the stairs, the clank-clank of his soles easing to a metallic patter. Muscled arms fold over his chest.

"We, girl." Jack says emphatically. "Like it or not, you're one of us now, and if you ain't one of us, you're one of them." The man pats his left shoulder. "Those silver brands on you, those were given to you by Luna. She's the mother of our kind - and lemme spell this out for you so you ain't confused later - this isn't a curse unless you let it be. We were all born like this." Jack gives you one of his cockeyed grins. "It's like fate, I dunno, destiny, morelike. I mean, it can be hell, but it can be great too."

He shrugs a bit. "But us and the Anshega...nah, we ain't the same."

Jericho bit her lower lip trying to understand, her head slowly nodding. She was one of them, she knew, but it just didn't...feel like it yet. She was different, yes, her entire body was constantly screaming at her that she wasn't. But this felt more like she was being inducted into a club or a society that she didn't comprehend yet. She was still on the outside looking in, however closely that may be. She didn't even want to think of some of the things she might have to do as a part of it. She would have to be a warrior. She would have to fight. If this was destiny being what she was then it had to be a cruel joke because anyone would see that she was not cut out for that career path.

"Okay." She said, clearing some of the hair out of her eyes and making it clear that she understood at least somewhat. This was her new life. She was one of them.

He watches you, a little more darkly, a little more predatory than before. You could see his tongue slide over his teeth under his lips, brows furrowed in concentration. Jack's been good to you, but will the others let you stay? Will he? Instinct tugs at your heart, making you feel more vulnerable here in this den, an outsider still, even though you were invited by Jack. Despite his promises, your life is still fractured, broken, like bloodstained glass. All you know is the comfort of his scent from the warm coat that hides your virtue and the actions that brought you here this night.

"Alright, the good news is that we lugged a tub up here." Jack says finally, pointing at a room down the gantry. "Kitt really likes to take baths," he admits, with a wayward roll of his eyes. "I'll get the hot water going, and see if I can dig up any decent clothes for you to wear. There's a 24 hour store just down the street called Mick's. Do you know your size? I don't, uh, shop for girls, really."

The girl shook her head, once again biting her lower lip in mild embarrassment. The question had caught her by surprise. Her former wardrobe had consisted primarily of pajamas, a hospital gown, and a robe. She'd almost forgotten about the numbered sizes she used to wear when she was a kid on her regular clothes. Her hospital stuff had an S on the tag for small. That's all she knew. For a second she wondered whether or not he even knew where she came from. She figured he had. After all he seemed to know everything.

Jack notices your unease and holds up his bandaged hands, palms up, a little like when you first met, only much more casually, a playful gesture. "Alright, alright, how about you just put on some of my stuff and we go out after you get cleaned up? Oh, and if you're hungry, our kitchen's at the end of the hall, used to be a breakroom, but we've done a pretty decent job with it."

Jack leans against the gantry railing and watches you quietly. After a second he snaps his fingers and starts down in the opposite direction. "Shit, the hot water..."

Jericho watches him descend and smiles. He's so nice her heart almost hurt. Despite everything that had happened tonight, to her, a part of her was glad that it happened. If it hadn't then she never would have met him.

Then she looked to where they were headed. She hadn't noticed it before he'd said anything, but she was starving. Having thrown up what she'd eaten back in the Shadow and with all of the running she'd been doing it had left her stomach crying for food. She honestly didn't know which she'd rather do first, eat or take a bath. She hoped he would get back soon.

Jericho stood in silence waiting for Jack, taking in the only four marked doors that had to be people's rooms. She knew whose one of them was. Or one of them used to be. Galen, the former Alpha. She guessed that Dragolovitch might be Kitt’s. It seemed the nicest and it also might be her last name. The other two though she had no clue.

You hear a rattle and whine - there's a bit of warm air filtering down from the big pipes and vents in the ceiling of this place. It seems so natural to a part of you to /hear/ the gurgle of the water from the rusty iron that flows upwards into the second floor, even though a normal person wouldn't. Couldn't. From where you stand, you can see the brown tube that sticks out from the wall like a jointed, malnourished arm tremble, and a bit of hot water begins to leak out...

Music: Dawn of the Dead OST "Brainscan"

Almost like blood. Thick and brown.

Easily mistaken for crimson.

Blood washing over the white floors, seething and smoking, that horrible jumble of fleshy limbs...tunnel vision, a spark of red memory, flying down the halls again, howling, screaming, burning...


The gurgle of water becomes a shrill whine.

A scream.

Jericho gasped, the sound echoing lightly throughout the interior of the warehouse as she was hit by the enormity of the memory this had uncovered. She hadn't forgotten about the hospital. But because she couldn't remember what exactly had happened it had been easy for her to push it to the back of her mind where it was a tiny sore. But now that it was slowly trickling back the horror of what had happened, of what she had done, was now making itself evident. Her knees shook as she attempted to retreat from the spreading water, what little color she had in her face flushed away, her eyes huge orbs of white dotted with a spot of almost pure blue as her pupils contracted to pinpricks of black. She slowly shook her head as if to deny herself of the memory, the word no repeating over and over in her head. What had she done? She was a monster.

"No!"

She turned and ran, taking the stairs two at a time, trying to escape from the memories.
A distant flash starbursts across your mind's eye, ruddy motes intermingled with throbbing veins. In that moment, you see Inanna laughing, her hair aflame.

"Jericho?"

"JERICHO!" Jack shouts, hands firm on your arms, holding you at the bottom of the stairs.

"Jack..." She said weakly, sounding like it was a plea for help from a dying person. She seemed close to fainting. Very slowly she seemed to regain her senses, Jack's concerned face being the first thing she saw. Her expression softened from one of terror into sorrow.

"Oh Jack!" She cried, collapsing into him, burying her face in his chest as she began to cry, her body wracked with sobs. She couldn't handle it anymore. All of the night's events had been slowly building up one thing at a time until she couldn't take the weight of it any longer. It was crushing her. She had to let it go.

"...I'm...a monster..." She managed through sobs, her voice muffled.

Slowly, you feel his arms on your back, a hand moving up to press the back of your head, his bandaged palm against matted, filthy blonde hair. For a time, he simply holds you, his strong heartbeat thunder against your ears, the only constant against the roaring rage that courses like red hot claws through your fragile body. His scent and yours mingle, and the closeness doesn't feel awkward, or strange, even though you just met. It's a bond, like friends, like family...like you were part of him somehow. Wordless and difficult to explain.

"You ain't...you ain't a monster. Not if you don't let yourself be. We've got laws that help, but it's gotta come from your heart too. I can help you, girl. We've all done bad things, I'm no saint either. If we stick together, it'll be fine." He puts his forehead to yours. "You hear me?"

Jericho looked into his eyes, warm brown pools sapping away her sorrow and replacing it with comfort. After a good long moment she sniffed and nodded, the worst of it gone. She still felt like she could buckle at any moment and keep crying until she ran out of tears, but right now she had a shaky control over herself. There was just one image in her mind that would not go away. Charity, no...Inanna. She sniffed again and turned her gaze away, to the floor, wringing her hands.

"Yeah, I'll try." She said, her voice shaky but determined.

She would never allow herself to become that monster again.

Jack ruffles your hair with brotherly affection, the kind you've never known. He puts his arm around your shoulders and starts leading you back up the stairs, making slow steps as if you were fragile, made of emotional glass. Still the fading afterimages of that bloody gap in your memory streak across your mind in crimson trails, ghostly pictures that are so much like quickly-forgotten dreams.

"I'll stand outside while you take a bath, alright? I'll just be right out there, havin' a smoke. Then maybe we can get a bite to eat, get ya some clothes before the others come back."

"Thanks." Jericho said somewhat absently. Suddenly she wasn't very hungry anymore.
 
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Kelreth

Retired User
Wow, awesome. Very interesting way to start a werewolf game and very fitting. Straight into hell and see what happens.

Is Kitt a Storm Lord or an Iron Master?
 

Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User
771 Union Street, Continued

She was infinitely grateful for Jack's comforting grip. If not for him she couldn't imagine the state she would be in. She hoped it would all get better because right now being one of them didn't seem very appealing.

Music: The MC5, "Motor City is Burning"

The bathroom that Jack leads you into looks like it's seen better days. The pack has made efforts to clean it up, but you doubt any of them has the penchant for restoring decaying masonry any more than the next guy. Grimy, cracked cream-colored tiles line the walls, some flaking off like dead skin, the roots of bare plumbing rattling quietly in a corner near a toilet that is thankfully very clean. The ceiling is made of the same cheap material you find in most offices, corners buckled inwards, clothesline strung between who partitions and stacked with a few empty wire hangers. A tub sits waiting against a side wall where a few posters have been fixed to the wall - Rötschreck, Galdavia, Tourniquet - there's also a hanging USMC flag draped against the far wall. A mirrored medicine cabinet sits above a dirty sink where a number of personal hygiene products wait.

The tub itself has a showerhead that lays in the tub like a coiled metal snake, but there's no curtain. Various shampoo, conditioners, moisturizers and body soaps are available. Do these belong to Kitt?

You detect several scents in this room - Jack's you recognize immediately, then the faintness of Frost's markings, and the starkness of Kitt's. There is another one, much vaguer that doesn't register. Perhaps that one belonged to Galen. It's amazing that you can pick these things up now. Maybe even startling. The scents mark this place as theirs, and while Jack's is reassuring, the others don't make you feel at home.

Jericho timidly took a few steps into the room, keenly aware that every scent was telling her new instincts that this was not hers to use and that she should leave.

Even before this she was never very comfortable using other people's bathrooms. It always made her feel nervous and out of place like she was doing something she wasn't supposed to. And now with her new unfamiliar senses and instincts it made the simple process of bathing seem daunting. But now that the thought of how much she needed to bathe entered her mind the layer of filth caked on her became very apparent, almost irritating to her skin.

Her gaze traveled over her shoulder to Jack, who was outside having a smoke. She didn't know whether she thought him standing outside the door would be a good thing or a bad thing. She didn't want to be too far from him, but on the same note she didn't want him to think he needed to baby her either. Ultimately she decided that it didn't really matter either way. For now she would just worry about getting her thoughts straight.

She gave Jack a sort of half-forced half-smile and shut the door behind her, breathing a weighty sigh afterwards that she realized Jack could easily hear through the door, and turned to the tub.

After fiddling with the knobs until she felt the right temperature streaming along her fingertips from the showerhead, Jericho pushed the plunger down and began to remove her none-too-clean articles of clothing that seemed to practically fall off her tiny body with only a tiny amount of inclination. Most of them she just let fall to the floor next to the tub, but the jacket she lay along the toilet's closed lid after looking around a bit for a proper spot.

Not wanting to wait until the bath was full, Jericho tenderly stepped into the steaming water and allowed what body parts she could to sink beneath the mercifully hot surface.

She couldn't help but let out a relaxed "Aaaaah" as all of her cold, aching muscles were relieved of their problems by the water's soothing caress, her worries momentarily gone. It felt like forever since she'd last had one of these and she knew she'd never appreciated one more than she did now. She simply closed her eyes and focused her attention solely on the water rising to cover more and more of her body. When she knew that it would be a bad idea to let the showerhead continue running any longer she fluttered open her eyes and shut it off, taking in the floating brown flakes with a grimace as she did so.

Unfortunately the rest of Jericho's bathing experience wasn't so relaxing. The filth now floating in the tub was a constant reminder to what she'd done, to what she'd been through and would inevitably have to face often in her future. Not wanting to have to deal with that again the now red girl opted to occupy her mind with cleaning herself and getting out as quickly as possible. She was very careful with her choice of the bath products. Not wanting to annoy any of the others any more than she already had she picked out the ones that carried Jack's scent, some bar soap and a white bottle of Suave shampoo and conditioner, and set them aside.

Cleaning her skin wasn't too bad as most of it came off with only a minor amount of effort, but her hair was another matter entirely. The usually silky and straight mane of blonde hair was now a tangled, caked together mess. Her fingers got tangled several dozen times as she attempted to run the shampoo through it, causing quite a bit of almost-white clumps of hair to join in with the rest of the filth. After a good deal of frustrated grunting and wincing she finally managed to get it acceptable and mostly clean. If this sort of thing was going to happen a lot then she would have to do something about that.

Casting one more hesitant glance at the no-longer clean water she pulled the stopper and began to towel herself off with one she was sure belonged to Jack, not quite succeeding in keeping the bad thoughts of St. Mary’s out of her head as she did so. Shaking them away, she proceeded to get dressed, not quite as happy to put on the dumpster clothes this time now that they were dirtier than she was. But before stepping outside she had one final thing to do. Her eyes turned to the blowdryer on the sink.

When Jericho finally left the bathroom her hair, while not 100% dry, was at least close enough so that it wouldn't freeze if she went outside. She'd put the blowdryer on its hottest setting and practically pressed the thing into her hair in an effort to make the process go quicker. She knew that she definitely did not want the other members of the pack to come here and find her using their stuff after a nice, hot bath.

She looked around for Jack.

Jack's waiting outside for you, as promised, leaning on his forearms against the railing of the second floor platform, cigarette smoke trailing from the orange, smoldering tip of his cancer stick. He's since removed the iconic skullcap you've come to associate him with, revealing a shaggy mess of black-brown hair. Jack stubs out his cigarette with a faint hiss against the railing and flicks it down the metal walkway, turning to greet you with a grin. He runs a hand through his hair, doing little to calm the chaotic snarled locks.

"Feelin' better?"

Jericho's face split into a tiny, humorous smile. It was almost funny how much she'd missed his presence for the short time she was in the bathroom. She'd almost forgotten how easily he could make her calm down.

"Yeah." She added with a nod of her head, mimicking Jack's own action by absentmindedly combing her fingers through her long hair to get what remained of the tangles.

"Alright girl. Let's get you some clothes." His grin takes a predatory twist. "How about you and I take a little trip down the street? There's a warehouse that still ships stuff to a couple of outlets in the city, like GAP, whatever. I'm gonna give you a little lesson in the fine art of taking what you need."

Jack offers his hand to you.

"Sound good?"

Stealing?

Jericho was, to say the least, a bit shocked at what Jack was suggesting. At first she was about to protest, but one look into Jack's eyes made those thoughts cease. She trusted him implicitly. He would never lead her astray. She placed her tiny hand in his and couldn't help but smile back.

"Sure."

****
 

Mr. Shopping

Reformed Savage
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Sheepskin

Music: Yellowcard "Lights and Sounds"

The next hour is a whirlwind of excitement and activity. Like an eager schoolboy, Jack throws a thick dark woolen hoodie over his shoulders and leads you out outside into the cold Detroit night. Snow still spirals down from the thick clouds overhead and threads with your hair, dappling your shoulders as the two of you take a crunching sprint, flying down the street, keeping to the shadows. You take a dizzying trip through two side alleys before Jack grins and stands before a closed warehouse side door and puts his hand on the thick padlock that chains it shut. His eyes glint a strange shade of amber, a wolfish yellow, and as his bandaged palm grips the iron, it gives a twisted groan and snaps apart. The chain follows with a rattling clatter, and your friend kicks the door in with a laugh.

Like two vandals in a toy store, you're confronted with a bewildering array of clothes stacked in plastic wrap, in boxes, towering to the ceiling of this vast storage area. You smell age here, staleness. It dawns on you that most of these garments that will probably never reach the shelves of stores. Jack collapses back on a stack of sweaters, hands behind his head in falling repose, relaxing like they made up a beanbag chair or something.

Jericho wanders about the warehouse taking in its simple majesty with bright, curious eyes. Even though she had a lot of fun following Jack's lead, and even moreso at seeing how much fun he was having, the nagging feeling that they were doing something wrong still occasionally surfaced. But now with the sudden realization that these clothes had been here for a long time already she could only shake her head at how foolish those doubts actually were.

Unfortunately, she still wasn't totally happy with what she had to do. The prospect of actually picking out an outfit, something almost any other girl her age would probably find easy and appealing, was another thing that set her apart from the norm. She had no idea what to do, or even where to start. Her mother had pretty much chosen most of her clothes when she was younger, and at the hospital there weren't very many options even if she'd cared about her appearance. Fortunately, as she navigated the maze the piles of clothing created she came upon a stack of clothes wrapped together that seemed to go together as a set. Possibly for a mannequin to show off some new winter line, though judging by the smell that must have been a few years ago. After some trial and error, followed previously by a quick trip back to where she'd seen some underwear, she finally discovered the right size and tentatively returned to Jack to let him appraise her new wardrobe.

After peeking around the corner of a tall stack of clothes to see if he was still where he'd been she stepped out into the open. Where before she'd looked like some homeless beggar now she looked like any normal, fashion-conscious teenage girl.

The top consisted of a short brown leather aviator's jacket with white fake fur lining the sleeve's cuffs, and trailed around the neck and down the zippered seams to a hem that ended just below her ribcage, and even closed wound have exposed most of her tummy if not for the thick white sweater beneath it that hugged even her thin body tightly, but comfortably. Her pants were made of a shimmering silver material that was obviously synthetically made to keep out the cold, with the seams colored a dark gray. They had several hanging pockets and were tight around her legs to the calves where they widened to make space for her thick leather boots the same color as her jacket. Brown leather gloves completed the pre-made ensemble, and they snugly fit her hands and drove away the cold. What wasn't added in the outfit, however, was something she'd spotted as she'd been walking back. It was a brown leather Gatsby cap, the kind she'd often see her mother wear and her father ridicule her for, that effectively held most of her hair behind her ears.

"What do you think?" She asked, suddenly worried about his opinion. She, of course, had no mirror to check what she looked like, and doubted she could judge even if she had.

You find him checking out a couple of caps that were probably destined for Target; branded by corporate America's imaginings of youthful interest - skulls, gang signs, flames. Jack turns around and looks you over, nodding once, then twice, as a smile creases his lips.

"That's what I'm talking about. Now you can pass for human. Bet it feels good to get into that sheepskin, huh? You might want to grab a coupla other clothes." he says, tapping an open, duffel bag near his foot that's still got tags on it. "Don't wanna chill here too long though."

Music: Silent Hill 2, "Love Psalm"

Jack's nostrils flare for a moment. You feel it too, to a certain extent- the newness of this place, the plastic and the staleness, all the clothes, it's heady.

The wolf crosses his arms over his chest and clicks his teeth.

"Haven't heard from Kitt or Frosty yet. Probably still in the Shadow. Manmade stuff like cell phones doesn't work there, but still, ain't reassuring."

"Do you think they'll be okay?" Jericho asked, her light voice fluttering high with concern. It's true that they didn't get off to a very good start, but she certainly didn't want them to get hurt. But the fact that they might be in danger brought another question to her mind.

"Why did they have to go through the Shadow? Didn't Thrasher chase off the Dire Wolves?"

Jack lets out a soft grunt. "They're lookin' for Az - Azrael. He's our Totem, our teacher. Powerful spirit, kinda scary, but good to us," he says, speaking almost in reverence. "Az's like a guide, and we need him now more than ever." Jack turns to you, dark brows knotting pensively. "Thing is, he's been missing for about a week, and we ain't got a seer to find him, or an Ithaeur to help. I'm hopin' you can help, being a Crescent like you are."

He holds up his bandaged hand. "More on that later."

Jericho nodded, although she was now burning with questions. She just kept her mouth shut and tried to follow Jack's previous advice to grab more clothes. After prowling around for a bit more she found several other "mannequin sets" that she liked along with a few other things and carried them back to the front, regretting that she hadn't gotten the duffel before she'd found all of her clothes.

Jack winds the chain back around the door and wipes the padlock with his sleeve, muttering something about prints as the snow flecks his scraggly black crown of hair.

Flash laughs and puffs on another cigarette, as if you had just left a convenience store. No conscience, or perhaps this is simply the way he's come to live, outside the laws of others. Is this how you will come to live too? And aren't you different from them now, from humans?

Weren't you always?

He carries the bulging duffel bag for you, pulling off the tags and tossing them into a snow-choked gutter as you take a more leisurely pace back to Union Street's run-down facade and the warm lights of the stores in the distance.

"You want some hot chocolate or somethin'? There's like a diner down there we can hang out at for a bit."

"Sure." She said, her face perking up a tiny bit as his words pulled her out of her contemplation. Hot chocolate was normal, and she could use a healthy dose of normal right now. At least, normal for her.

As the two of you walk towards the guttered, twinkling beacons of urban civilization, Jack hefts the duffel over his shoulder effortlessly, and offers your shoulder a squeeze, his eyes meeting yours. Although wordless, you two share a moment of communication, and you know that he cares for you, beyond a pawn or a resource, but as a friend, a lost soul, maybe even a sister.

You soon stand before the typical metal-ribbed exterior of the 24-hour diner, pink neon sign buzzing and flickering painfully against its electric life support. From the frosted windows, you see one or two people hunched over drinks inside, truckers or drifters trying to get by with a cup of coffee and a brief respite from the cold and the road. There's no one else on the street as the snow keeps coming down unabated, licking your lashes and melting on your cheeks. Jack stomps his feet a bit before he walks past the glass door.

Music: John Rich, "Shuttin' Detroit Down"

An old song crackles from a worn-out jukebox in the corner as you step inside. There's two rows of tables and chairs and a couple of faded red swivel seats near the front counter where a few desserts sit waiting behind chilled display glass. A tired-eyed, stern-faced waitress stands waiting in a pink uniform, lipstick smeared, hands on her hips, hair tied back into a matronly bun.

Jack strides in as confident as you please, almost like he owns the place, and in a way, he does - you understand instinctively that this is part of his pack's territory, and so it does belong to him. To your rational mind it only makes a dim kind of sense, but to whatever in you that is wolf, it's perfectly natural.

Now that she was in the diner it struck Jericho that this was the first normal place she'd been inside of in quite a while. Here she didn't feel like she had to avoid people, or had them look at her strangely or with pity. As weird as it seemed with all of the strange new senses she had, she hadn't felt more human in a long time. It felt nice. She flashed the waitress a quick smile in her direction and followed Jack to where they would be sitting.

It's not pity, but the waitress does look at you strangely, uncomfortably, instantly uneasy when the both of you enter the diner. Others in the room edge away subconsciously, giving the both of you plenty of space. If any of the bedraggled patrons glance over at Jack, he stares them down with a predatory air, glowering. Kicking back at a booth near the rear of the restaurant, he sets the duffel down in the seat next to him and takes a look at the specials that are printed on a little sandwich-board that rests on the table near the napkins, salt and pepper.

Jericho slides in the seat across from Jack, a little put off by the other patron's attitudes towards them. She leaned herself across the table and whispered, "Why do they do that?"

Jack lets out a gruff-sounding sound of derision, somewhere half between a gunt and a snarl. It's soft, but you can hear the wolf in it. He closes one eye and looks at you wryly.

"Nh, probably 'cause somewhere, deep down, past four thousand years of civilization or whatever, they still know what danger is. Like we walk among them, they don't know what it is but somethin' rubs them the wrong way. Bad vibes, whatever." He leans in too, lowering his voice. "Can't put a finger on it, but something's wrong. Sometimes they might think it's because of you, and those ones are dangerous. They suspect, and they might start to dig, like the media, always sniffin' for a good story."

Jack taps the counter to emphasize his point. "Thing is, Joe Mortal, he ain't one of us, but it's still our job to watch out for him, cause we live in his world. Keep people like Damien away; keep things like Thrasher where they belong. That's what my tribe does anyway. Kitt might not tell you the same thing."

He looks past you, down towards the server.

"It's hard to walk between the two worlds, girl. Each one's gonna be pullin' at you, but that's our fate. I don't need to tell ya not to bring mortals into this. It'll just be trouble, and you'll bring down all kinds of wrath on your head from your own kind. The Herd Shall Not Know. Get it?"

Jack waves his bandaged hand absentmindedly, though his eyes drive the point home.

"You'll learn."

"HOW'S ABOUT A MENU OVER HERE?"

Jericho's eyes were fixed on the table. Now at least she had some insight as to why she was what she was and what her place was in the world. Jack's pack, she wasn't quite comfortable calling it her pack yet, was supposed to watch over everything and make sure it stayed the way it should be. It was kind of cool in a way, though she couldn't imagine anyone trying to keep Thrasher anywhere he doesn't want to be.

If Jack has any idea of what you're thinking, he doesn't say anything about it, instead tugs at the frayed ends of his dirty bandaged hands and sniffs the Specials menu. When the server finally comes over with the menus, she's noticeably on-guard, blinking rapidly, swallowing, and adjusting her uniform as if it were suddenly too tight. Jack seems not to care as he goes over the menu and orders eight scrambled eggs, a double portion of hashbrowns, coffee, bacon, and a beer. She’s too frazzled to even ask for his ID.

Jericho's looks up from her own menu with incredulous eyes as Jack spouts out an order big enough to feed three people. She tells the waitress her own order, pancakes with some sausage and hot chocolate, before turning back to Jack.

"You're not really going to eat all of that are you?"

He looks at you with gruff, self-assured air. "Uh huh. You're gonna wish you ordered more. Lemme tell you somethin', girl. Those wounds you got, they're all healed now. That's our bodies at work."

Again he lowers his voice. "You can get shot, stabbed, beat bloody, bones broken, and it ain't gonna stop you. You'll just heal back up, and fast. Tradeoff is you gotta eat - the more protein the better. You and I, we're not gonna grow old like the rest of the Herd. We age real slow. I knew a wolf who looked like he was 30, but he was closer to 75. Ain't that awesome? This ain't all bad, girl, in fact, you might start liking it like I do."

She took in what he was saying with a pensive look. Recalling the way all of the injuries she'd gotten fighting Damien were all gone now, and had been for quite some time.

"How old are you?" She asked him, wondering now if she'd misplaced his age by a lot more than a few years older than her.

"I'm actually like thirty-seven."

He laughs. "Nah, girl. I'm just 18. Had you going though."

"Ohoh" Jericho laughed, the shocked expression fading as quickly as it came. It felt nice to laugh.

"Yeah, well, us Union Street, we're a young pack. Galen was the oldest..." His face darkens at that, and he's silent for a time. Jack looks out the darkened window with a distant expression, clasping his hands, shoulders pinched with wolfish tenseness. "Yeah, anyway...let's talk about something else."

"Yeah, okay." Jericho quickly agreed with a nod of her head. She was curious to know what happened to him, but she knew that this was definitely not the time to ask. Unfortunately conversation wasn't really her strong suit, and aside from the myriad of questions she had about being a werewolf, something that she knew better than to talk a lot about in a public place, she had nothing. Wait, she did have one question that she could ask. She hadn't really thought much about it before but it suddenly sprang to mind.

"Hey, after I told you my name you were about to say something. What was it?"

"Oh, that?" Jack asks, picking at a sharp canine with the curve of a nail. He runs his tongue over his tooth and watches you. "Well, Jericho, I mean, first off, it's kind of a weird name for a girl. Don't get me wrong, it's cool and all, and I'm sure you got stuck with some name like Jessie or Jennifer or something from your folks, but like, it's just weird cause Jericho, it's like Hebrew for moon, Caanite too. It's fitting, seein' you're a shaman and all."

He shrugs, nose twitching as he looks past you again - and you smell it too. Steaming plates of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, sausage and hot chocolate. It feels like it's been weeks since you've eaten.

Jericho unknowingly ran the tip of her tongue over her lips in anticipation of her approaching meal. Jack was right. Looking at her plate it suddenly seemed far too small to satiate her now almost overpowering appetite. It immediately distracted her from their conversation and she almost jumped out of her seat to help the waitress bring it faster.

The delicious meal is lain out in front of you, and it seems the server is all too eager to put distance between you and Jack. That's fine - idle, meaningless chitchat would have given you less time to enjoy this. Jack shovels his food in, though he manages to eat with his mouth closed. You have the feeling that he has respect for you, even if he's not as eloquent as others you've met.

Right now Jericho probably could have cared less about etiquette as right now her behavior was almost a physical mirror to Jack's. Each bite of pancake she took was too slow, each piece of sausage was not cut up into smaller sections as she was used to doing, but simply bitten off her fork or sometimes crammed in whole when there was room. In no time at all she'd finished a meal that would have been much too large for her to finish had she gotten it only a day earlier, leaving only her hot chocolate which remained untouched.

Jack finishes the remnants of his meal, and while he doesn't lick the plate, he still scrapes whatever remains into his mouth before nursing the beer set before him.

"Yeah, it ain't all bad, but..."

He stops and pulls out an old, battered cell that's had almost all its paint chipped off.

Glancing at the screen, Jack purses his lips into a frown and nods.

"Alright, just got a text from Frosty...They're on their way back - Kitt's hurt bad."

He looks down. "Shit."

Music: Paul Haslinger, "The Most Precious Thing to My Heart"

Jericho's face fell as she heard the news. That warm feeling of comfort she'd felt flushed away in an instant. Kitt was hurt. This was her fault.

"What do we do?" She asked, her voice reflecting the concerned weight in her brilliant blue eyes.

"We don't do anything, girl." Jack says lowly. "There isn't anything we can do, not right now anyway."

You can hear his breath. It's faster than before. The way he clenches his fists, looks impatiently towards the door - he's trying to hide it from you, but you know the older wolf is torn up inside. It's not just guilt - something more, a ferocious kind of protectiveness that's edged with the helplessness of his situation.

"Finish your chocolate, Jericho," Jack says softly, as he looks up to meet your eyes with his darkened ones. "We'll meet them back at the warehouse."

Jericho breathed a heavy sigh, wishing more than anything that she could somehow make this right. She lifted the mug to her lips and took a long draught. This time it did nothing to raise her spirits.

Your friend watches you pensively, an expression of wolven tenseness cast over his features, countenance seeming more lupine than normal. Maybe it's just the light. When you finish, Jack throws down a few crumpled wads of pale green bills onto the table, scooting out of the booth and jamming his hands into his pockets. He hardly waits for you and stalks silently towards the door.

With an electronic chime, he's out in the bitter night, swallowed by the winter storm.

Jericho scurries after him quickly, worry compelling her every move. Was Jack mad at her for feeling like he had to choose her over them? Was she just dragging him down with her slowness? Maybe she should tell him to go on and she'd catch up. Would it be better if she weren't there? She didn't know. She just treaded behind Jack as quickly as she could, dreading what she might find once they arrived.
 
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