Rage Across Baltimore

Story 14: Spit Out the Bone
Why you gotta go and fuck with the program?

I beat my machine it’s a part of me it’s inside of me
I’m stuck in this dream it’s changing me I am becoming
— Nine Inch Nails, “The Becoming”

Since their liberation from being ‘grounded’ as the Guardian pack of the Sept of Abundant Grain, the Garou of Last Call have taken advantage of their freedom. The pack has made friends and allies far and wide, they’ve had adventures outside of Baltimore, their Umbral quests have ranged further, and for longer, than ever before.

Now, as a new mystery begins to unfold, perhaps that trend will continue…or maybe this fight will take place closer to home. At least, that’s where it stands to begin, as the pack receives a curious message from their replacements at the Brewery.

After all, someone had to take over as the Guardians of the Brewery when our intrepid heroes left, the survivors of Alpha Mike Foxtrot, who had arrived in Baltimore maybe as Glass Walker enforcers looking to murder Zero, in the end volunteered to take over the job. And, of course, to do it so much better than our pack ever did.

Bunch of rookie Cliath, what do they know…

Anyway, it’s the new caern-guards who are obliged to get in touch with our pack at the Hidden Spring, through whoever still carries a cell phone with decent reception out in the middle of that state parkland. Because one of Zero’s new acquaintances from his most recent Rank Challenge is in town with a rather strange story about his pack going missing…in the CyberRealm. And most curious of all, the old acquaintance who led him to the Brewery.

Still, mysteries, right? Solving puzzles, pondering enigmas, getting into more trouble than they might have thought possible. This is what Last Call is known for; it’s what they’re good at. No worries.

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Story 13: Forlorn Son
Blashyrkh Mighty Ravendark!

In our next guest-ST story, journey together to the farthest of the north to aid Long Runner, the Red Talons, and Mammoth! It will take Razvan’s skills in modern medicine, and Zero’s high tech expertise; no doubt there will be something useful for the others to do, too.

Zero certainly hasn’t forgotten the preserved mammoth blood samples they have, and the possibility of restoring the mammoth back to real-world life. In fact, he’s been looking for some new path away from the pure machinery of cybernetics, perhaps cutting edge biotechnology or something beyond? Perhaps this will lead him in the right direction…or give him more of a reason to look for one.

Don’t worry; Dave knows it can’t all be glorious runs in the woods in wolf form and smashing Wyrmthings and butt-sniffing. We all know Razvan’s been corrupted; the first thing he wanted after the Legendary Realm was a hot shower and a hamburger. You’re not fooling anybody, Spine-Render!

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After a respite of several months, where we tend to local affairs, the call to adventure once again sounds. Our old friend, the Red Talon Theurge Long-Runner, has once again literally run across much of North America to visit us, bearing grim news…the sacred Tomb of Mammoth has been discovered and possibly despoiled by the humans! He asks our help in righting this great wrong, and perhaps more…is there a chance to bring Mammoth back? Perhaps we’ll get to answer this question. But first, a cyber-war by Zero, who managed to defeat aggressive anti-hacking by what he thinks is a leech, a ’Nosferatu" in service to a great lord of their kind, Baba Yaga, who appears to exert tremendous power behind the scenes in the WoD Russia. Stamping out any hope for the Russian Garou appears to be on their list of things to do. Not that surprising, considering we remain, despite our falling numbers, a significant threat to the leeches.

Zero manages to infiltrate top secret leech/Russian special forces servers, snagging several pertinent files. The files do indeed reveal a large cave, hidden in the mountains of Wrangel Island, where Mammoth made its Final Stand and its kind breathed their last, dying out a mere 3600 years ago, much later than thought, due to the sheer remoteness of the location and suitable climate. Russian scientists, with a small squad of military (Zero can identify them from their markings, with a bit of work, as Spetsnaz, their elite troops – a small squad of 4 of them, and a team of three scientists are visible in the video. They are seen in a cave, with various bits and partial bodies of mammoths in view. The corpses seem amazingly well preserved. The pack can see how Long-Runner obtained his artifacts and mammoth blood, still fresh. While some have the red-brown fur we’ve seen in movies and documentaries, many have a frost white fur that shimmers in the low-light of the cave and limited lighting provided by the humans, who are seen eagerly recording the find. After a bit of time, one scientist notices a few huge plates of shale, they seem too regular to be random…they look like some sort of lid or cover. With the help of the soldiers, they manage to move one slab aside, revealing a deep, dug pit. A primeval coffin. Within it, a completely whole mammoth lies, with the same shimmering frost white fur as some of the partial bodies. They examine it excitedly, amazed at how well preserved it is…perhaps too much so…its…still warm? Though it does not seem to stir or even breathe, the scientists shout to one another, making record of this amazing find. It’s limbs and trunk are still supple, astounding the scientists.

The camera pans over the body of the mammoth, and as it reaches the belly, still partially hidden from view, a polar bear is discovered. What’s this? The scientists stop and wonder, but one soon steps up, poking at the bear with a ski-pole. The bear’s eyes snap open! It glares about with fierce pale blue eyes, shoving aside another shale plate as it rises up with a great roar! Despite that it’s in a deep pit, it still towers over the humans. It appears rather manlike in body shape, with a human-style shoulder joint, chest, and surprisingly manlike hands, tipped with gigantic talons. It uses these talons to make short work of the scientists and soldiers alike, roaring in Rage as it lashes back and forth. We see one strike cut a Spetsnaz clean in half!. The remaining soldiers recover quickly, raising their guns, and pepper the creature with bullets. But, these seem to have little effect, the bear Rages among the humans. It quickly reducing them to pulp. Though it does bleed from their shots it does not seem to be very weakened by them, much like ourselves. The last thing we see is it pondering the wreckage, and the camera. The video goes black as we see the creature look at the camera, a paw raised and then coming down…

Although we’ve never seen one, we can recognize a fellow shape shifter. This bear must be a Gurahl, which Long-Runner confirms, stating they, too, protect the Tomb of Mammoth, who they also honor.

Mila’s caern responds to the call, establishing a very rare Moon Bridge between a Red Talon caern and a homid caern, with some assistance from our pack, Willow in particular, to open the bridge. We return to our various homes and prepare for the journey, Raz bringing his EMT kit, perhaps modified for potential surgery on a mammoth. He also pays a quick visit to the embassy, drawing on his family’s funds with MIla’s ok, taking a sizable stack of rubles and a few gold coins (of Chinese origin, where you can buy ingots of gold freely). We’ll need some cash, he thinks, if we have to deal with any humans. Packing his sword, dedicated body armor, and Bloody Bandages as well as his EMT/doctor back pack, Raz is ready to go. The others also prepare, and soon enough we return to the caern and join Long-Runner in a quick trip first to his current home caern, which both Raz and Scully have visited. Just prior to our run, Long-Runner inscribes two runes upon us, one on each shoulder, then on himself. Using a mix of ocher and mammoth blood, he scribes runes for Griffin and Quest on all of us. We don’t stay here long, just long enough to meet and greet, and to have a run across another Moon Bridge to a Red Talon caern in eastern Siberia. The sacred runes Long-Runner painted on us do their work. As a Red Talon only caern, we would normally have been greeted with immediate challenge and likely attack, but this time…free passage.

A great elder of the Red Talons, Tundra- Runner, greets us himself, making sure any young bucks looking to challenge us won’t dare it. It’s a peaceful meet and greet, and we pick up another traveling companion, the Silent Strider lupus who met and taught Long-Runner his various traveling gifts. She’s on the old side for a lupus, going by the name of Hotah. Willow takes a bit of interest in Hotah, perhaps this is a chance for her, and us, to learn more about the Striders? Hotah does offer to teach us a gift of fast travel, and begins instruction as we make our way to the coast, preparing us for the spirit teacher She will soon bring to instruct us further. In two days time, we find ourselves on the bleak Silberian coast, where winter never really leaves. A successful duck hunt and berry gathering allows Willow to make a few kilos of good pemmican, food for our journey. Hotah warns us that after a long-run, you must feast and rest, or be greatly weakened for a few days. Speaking of days, here they are practically 24 hours, the sun doesn’t quite dip below the horizon during the “night.” here at the peak of the short, cold summer. It’ll be colder still on Wrangel Island. We now know why the squad sent by Baba Yaga consisted of a pack of BSD and 2 dozen Spetsnaz, but no leeches. There is no proper night this time of year for them, only the light of the sun.

We scout out the little town, from it’s size it holds a couple hundred humans at best. From his research prior to our leaving, Zero knows this town has an American name, Billings. It’s the only town that runs several little (less than 30 people/trip) tours to Wrangel island a year during the summer months. In fact, we spy a modified fishing boat, with English writing on it, advertising the eco-tour. As Zero curses our luck at once again spending our time racing about the most wild of places, he spies a mushroom shaped device among the communication gear on the upper deck…an Iridium Pilot, one of the only means, this far north likely the only, means to provide wifi!

Other things we note about the town, are a number of windmills to provide power, no lack of wind here from our experience thus far. The homes seem better kept than one might expect for this wasteland, perhaps due to the small tourist input? A couple thousand Euros/USD would probably go a very long way here. Maybe a couple of the people speak English? Feeling a little more hopeful about making our way to and from Wrangel, we (minus Hotah and Long-Runner, who remain in lupus hiding on the outskirts of town)) walk into the little town, to inquire about passage…

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We’ve fared forth, having found and then spent a bit of time with a kindly, wise fisherman who is one of two who carries eco-tour groups to Wrangel a few times a year, during the summer. His wife, much younger than him and a political refugee from the Putin administration, is the town medic (a nurse by training) and was happy to lead Razvan around to employ his higher doctor-level skills as partial payment for our trip over the angry seas. The fisherman and his wife shared a rich dinner with us, hot showers (a rare luxury this far north) and a most rare one, wifi! Zero takes full advantage, conducting more searches as well as gathering some files on elephant/mammoth anatomy…Razvan suspects he may have to do service as a vet!

In the morning, after a heavy breakfast, the couple presses upon us numerous tins of fish in oil, a few sacks of root vegetables, cheese, hard bread and butter as well as a few blankets – we travel far too light for such a bleak land. But then, they don’t know we are Garou. We take the gifts with a smile, and Razvan provides a full cash payment in rubles, his family freeing up the funds due to the potential for scoring points with the Red Talons as well as raising Razvan’s own fame. The Shadow Lord Margrave, Grand Alpha of the Tribe, is aware of this quest and wishes Razvan and the rest of us well, as he is very keen on befriending the Red Talons.

We board the ship, enjoying for the last time in a while the creature comforts of humanity, and make our way to the island. Our pilot grants us two weeks, promising to return for us, and get the other half of his payment. Besides, he seems to be an honest man of good heart, trying to make the best of things in this bleak land, and we’ve come to trust him a bit. Hotah assures us she can teach us to run back across the water, if worst comes to worst.

Employing our newly learned gift of Tireless Running, we make our way quickly several hundred miles north, winding our way up the mountain paths and river valley until we finally reach the Final Resting Place of Mammoth. This is a large cave, one we’ve seen before via Zero’s stolen files. As we approach, though, a giant of a man wearing rough fur robes greets us, simply sitting on a rock near the entrance. His only weapon a massive harpoon of apparently great age. After a bit of talk, he reveals himself to be the guardian Gurahl, Finds-Thick-Ice. He decides to welcome us, based on our quest markings and more, Long-Runner’s prior visit, which was evidently noted. We, too, at least for now, are in service to Mammoth, same as the Gurahl. He beckons to the stone scree behind us, and his younger sister de-cloaks, we did not detect her at all…must be some gift of theirs! It’s a good one, to hide her so well. The ursine born Gurahl are not big conversationists, but Finds-Thick-Ice is one of their Elders, and has much experience so can communicate with us well enough. He and his sister reveal the basics of the foe, and also that the were-sharks! (Rokea) have aided them, hauling their boat out and sinking it into the icy cold waters. No way home for the foe now…but then how would such as these know of modern humans, their navies?

The foe approaches overland, along the great northern plain, which gives us some time. We use it well, Razvan and Zero combining their skills to repair the homid-inflicted wounds on the last mammoth, a young, white furred male, then we manage to restart it’s heart. Once that is done, no small feat, The garou pour their healing into the creature, allowing it to rise once again! It trumpets, then shambles out of the cave, to feed and drink, the first of it’s kind to do so in more than 3,000 years! The gurahl could have used their gift of raising the dead upon it, but why bother? He is a lone male, no females to mate with. But we think with the pure DNA samples from all the bits and pieces of mammoth’s flesh and bone brought here after the final slaughter, we can bring them back. Even a few mammoth ovaries were preserved, in a couple of mostly eaten females.

We feast, using the little camp grill we brought with us, cooking up some of the food given to us, as well as a freshly caught salmon from the nearby river. After that, we rest, tell tales, and get ready for the battle. As Razvan sends out a scouting spirit Raven, Long-Runner and Willow explore the depths of the cavern system, discovering a hot spring fed pool…a spirit lies dormant within it. Some sort of water elemental, perhaps…and the pool was once a powerful heart of a caern of healing! Long forgotten, but it could be awakened and kept by our kind again. Even now, the waters provide some healing benefit, when touched. Long-Runner immediately resolves to make this his own caern, but that is for the future…

We lay our battle plans, digging a few trenches in the frozen soil, no easy task. We take cover in several different spots, deploying ourselves for maximum surprise and mayhem. With so many silver shooting soldiers on the way, we’ll need to be crafty to win! Soon, we shall see how effective our plans are…

and so the Battle is joined! The first squad enters the Mammoth Cave, 4 spetsnaz along with an unexpected BSD…still, we go forward with the plan as the foe arrays themselves around us as we’d hoped. We can just hear the pop of the submachine guns as Raz engages the first group, hopefully hidden in his Abyssal darkness. As the battle unfolded, however, Razvan discovered that the BSD was some sort of champion, with power to see in the dark, and armed with a klaive…the BSD proved a very stiff challenge, and the spetsnaz also managed to wound him. Even with all the stolen blood his trusty blade provided, he was unable to regenerate much damage before he had to charge out and face the other patrol. Using his command over the dark, he split the two patrols outside the cave mouth into two groups, as planned…this worked! Finds-Thick-Ice used his great strength to cause an avalanche great enough to bury one patrol in many tons of fallen rock…on the other side, his sister hurled a boulder at the other patrol, which also had a BSD tagging along…this worthy survived, to leap down into the trench where Willow and Scully had been hidden, until Scully began using his trusty bow to thin their ranks…even landing a shot in the eye of the cyclopean formori, preventing it from unleashing whatever gaze weapon it had…the eye had just started blazing with greenish balefire when Scully’s arrow found it’s mark. Long-Runner took this time to summon an avatar of Mammoth, and the great creature materialized, as planned, among yet another patrol group, stomping and tusking them with great fury…Mammoth’s last child’s life is at stake! Long-Runner and Hotah then enter the fray, leaping a supernaturally long distance to engage that same patrol, while Zero pops up and lights up yet another with a borrowed submachine gun…even more surprisingly, with a great gurgling war-cry, a Rokea, one of the Shark-men, joins us in battle, helping us end the other fomori and BSD…we take this in stride, having had many strange allies over our short but wide wanderings.

In the end, we are victorious, earning a great victory over far superior forces! Our battle plan went very well, with one exception…Razvan, already badly hurt, was caught in the legs by more silver bullets, fell, and was gunned down. But, if one is going to die on a sacred mission, dying among the Gurahl, on the same mission, was the way to do it. Although the Gurhal seemed reluctant, Find-Thick-Ice, having been commanded by the avatar of Mammoth, brings Razvan back from the dead with his Gaia’s Breath, the one gift Garou are forbidden to learn above all others.

While Razvan sleeps and recovers from his death, the avatar, who is actually an Incarna, as Willow and Scully wonder, tells us many things of import. It also tasks us with several quests…this battle must be entered into the Silver Record, a very rare tale of hope, glory, honor and wisdom that must be known among the Garou. This is the first time in perhaps millennia where Gurahl and Garou fought together, and even another Fera, the Rokea, gave aid. We succeeded in hauling Mammoth back from the edge of the Abyss, where despite Griffin’s efforts, Mammoth was slowly but surely falling in, never to be seen again…and worse, perhaps transformed into some Wyrm servant as other lost spirits have before. A caern of great power, long lost, has been found, and it is ours to claim. Who shall claim it? Long-Runner already, in his excitement, claims Razvan as future caern alpha, or at least Beta or Warder. Who knows what tribe had this place? Maybe it was never just one tribe, considering its great age. But, it’s not something to just hand over, and we have planted our flag here. Mammoth indicated as much, so we’ve a choice ahead of us. Last but certainly not least, Mammoth has entrusted Zero with bringing more mammoths back, using whatever means he must. This is a heavy task, but if anyone can manipulate living tissue into something more, it’s Zero. Razvan, certainly, can use his medical and science skills to assist, and also bears this burden. Willow was told she must be one of the ones to re-awaken this caern, and have some place here. Although half the pack is metis, their hearts are warmed by the Incarna of Mammoth, who welcomes them as worthy. Not that the garou will…but we’ll see…

Long-Runner’s pack, via his own pack-link, will already know the basics of what happened, before we cross the sea. Word quickly spreads, and by the time we return, perhaps some of the other tribes will be waiting at the RT caern to greet us upon our return to Siberia.

Finally, one small matter…the kliave Razvan claimed by his victory is not what we might have thought. It’s clearly not BSD manufacture. Instead, it’s a wakizashi, a samurai shortsword, kanji engraved upon it, family crest embedded in it’s cross guard. It has the appearance of great age, and the spirit within it seems extremely eager to bond with Razvan. Perhaps after a long time in BSD service, the weapon wants to return to our side. It likely had never been attuned to it’s owner, the BSD. We may never know. But, perhaps this weapon should be studied, and returned to the family it came from?

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Fourth Confluence: Downtime!
And now, time actually does pass!

Last Call went into the Umbra on their Legendary quest in late January…and while it felt like about a full month or more had passed during their epic journey, upon their return only a few hours have passed. Some of the Hidden Spring Garou may still be sleeping off their exhaustion following Razvan’s Moot-ending Revel!

Consequently, some time must pass before the pack has an opportunity to boast of their accomplishments at the next Moot. And since the last couple of stories ran almost back-to-back in-game, some downtime seems appropriate.

Think about what suitable off-stage activities each of the characters will work on for perhaps six months, picking it back up in July (in game), or maybe later if Dave wants to start the next story later in the in-game year. Razvan has his growing infant son to consider, if he cares that much, considering the boy is Kinfolk. And Scully may have some fence-mending of his own to pursue with Molly Flanagan.

As for Renown awards, since no actual threats to the real world were tackled, Renown should be minimal. Expect a little Honor and some Wisdom for the successful spirit quest; there may be extra for some, for building a new fetish. Think about what Renown-worthy deeds you think the pack may have accomplished, make your case for more if you like! See here for the by the book sample awards that we use.

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Story 12: Tribal Convictions
Call it a crisis of leadership

Hear the drums they come from the sea
Bring the tribal spirit on me
Cause my pride and my roots I believe
No this tribe you can’t take it from me
— Soulfly, “Tribe”

While Last Call’s Ahroun, Razvan, missed out on the ill-fated trip to Malfeas, he shares the burdens and troubles of his packmates. And yet, he can never truly know the horrific, mind-shattering visions that Willow, Zero and Scully experienced in their first fumbling steps on the Black Spiral Labyrinth. Worse, there’s the question of how much they can admit to their sept, their friends, their Kin.

The pack was already in conflict, and the others’ new mental quirks don’t help much. But for Raz the Biter, there’s always the peace and quiet — or the satisfaction of a good brawl — to be had on patrol. Even if he has to hold his wolfie tongue, at least in the material realm: it won’t do to have the nearby park rangers thinking wolf packs have moved into their park! They’re not all Kinfolk, yet.

It’s on one of these patrols, however, after a long and satisfying Moot and Revel, that the Shadow Lord receives an altogether different call to adventure. He’s no Theurge, not wise in spirit ways. But he’s far from stupid, no typical Ahroun, and he does hear the call of his ancestors. And so, during one of his regular patrols through the new sept’s territory, cutting loose in the Umbra, Razvan finds an Airt — a spirit track — a trail that smells like home, an inexplicable sensation, deep in his soul.

He wouldn’t wander off on a spirit quest by himself, though, would he?

It’s time to bear witness to legend; live the legend; become the legend.

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The Road of Trials: Downtime!
...of indeterminate length

After the mind-shattering events of Hush, it’s not clear what the characters will do next. Rites of Cleansing, hot showers until your skin is raw, or bleeding…but who to talk to about what happened? What details will they give out, and what do they keep to themselves?

It’s not just every day one journeys to Malfeas, and however unwittingly, it appears most of the pack has danced the first steps of the Spiral (some more than once).

You may have noted that I did not hand out Renown awards at the end of the story; this is because the pack, I think, needs to decide what they will admit to doing — and what they will not. There are rewards to be earned from defeating Dream Banes, protecting helpless humans, and protecting the Veil. Completing a spirit quest, though…how far do they dare to go with their exploits here? Suffering a frenzy? Could the adventure’s end be seen by their peers as conscious cowardice?

Garou are of course encouraged to tell tales of their adventures at Moots, to have their deeds acknowledged and Renown and Rank gained as a result, but the pack may need to think carefully about what tale is spun. Then again, perhaps lying will come back to haunt them later.

As for actual downtime, that’s partly up to the characters…some calls to adventure may be undeniable. But let’s see what kind of time the pack wants for rest, recovery, research projects and the like.

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Story 11: Hush
I need to get clean

Hush is all I need, hush the misery;
Hush belongs to me, like the hush inside a dream
Hell’s where I was born! Hell’s where I was raised,
This hell is where I’m from and this hell is where I’ll stay
— Hellyeah, “Hush”

Some months have passed since the conflict and confrontation of our last tale, Long Pig. The intervening months have not been idle ones for the pack, as their new sept has challenged its resident Garou in many ways. From the physical labor of cleaning up after a generation or more of defilement, to repeated assaults by waves of Banes and the occasional Black Spiral pack from the Umbra, to the lack of modern conveniences. Not to mention the pack’s inner turmoil — has it been changed forever, even torn apart?

On the other hand, Last Call has the joys of chasing rabbits, Razvan’s newborn child, and most of all — freedom from the sometimes-stifling duties of caern Guardianship. Perhaps influenced by your own experiences, and by the surprise Bane attacks, guarding the new sept is more of a shared responsibility. And as the sept’s Wyrm Foe, Razvan’s cousins encourage him, and his pack, to contribute their insight and experience.

While the pack is not free of responsibility, they are much freer than they once were. And on a good-will trip to New York City’s Sept of the Green, they may have the opportunity to chase down some of the loose ends left after their many battles over the soul of Baltimore. Will our intrepid pack come together for the sake of a possibly deranged Silver Fang, mocked and dismissed by her fellow Garou of New York?

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Story 10: Long Pig
The other white meat

Brace yourselves, friends, for your first guest storyteller. Dave will be entertaining and horrifying us for the foreseeable future. Perhaps there will be DOOM!

He should be able to fill us in with some commentary below, and if not I’ll just do it myself. After all, the log is here in part to record our exploits, because we’re forgetful!

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Almost two moons have past since the great BSD-throwdown and the dust is still settling. Wounds have healed, though some scars remain. For us, it has not been entirely peaceful, as banes continue to assault the re-taken caern, where Razvan’s cousin holds sway. In his new role as Wyrm foe, he has an occasion or two to lead various garou against the banes and drive them away. His recent Rank 3 test (which may not yet be complete) proved(ing) a decent test of his self control, and he gained? a new, little friend in the process…the rest of the pack’s tests may yet be ongoing…

In our now much greater freedom and free time, Razvan has thrown himself into work at the clinic, and has also volunteered at the worst emergency room (from a crime victim standpoint) in Baltimore, mainly to hone his skills as a healer, but also to keep an ear to the ground regarding strange killings and the like.

A recent victim, a college-age female jogger, was viciously beaten, raped and evidently left for dead near the entrance to the Susquehanna State Park. Razvan gets called over to take a look at her, maybe there is something he can do…he’s built a reputation as a bit of a miracle worker, either via pure skill or perhaps, a trickle of Mother’s Touch now and then. Raz’s contact in the police department gets a quick call, who sends Raz (and Zero) a few relevant files. This is more than it seems. Evidently, this is the second case with a similar MO in the past few weeks – 2 other girls, jogging near nightfall, are missing. The other case where a body was found was in similar condition to the wounded girl, except fully dead, and her legs both evidently bitten off by a very large dog or perhaps a bear? Forensics have not been completed as yet.

There are some odd things about the survivor, though. One, there is no sign of struggle where she was found, nor any sign of the perp. However, a few hundred meters into the forest and a bit off the trail, a crime scene was found. The girl’s blood, bits of her clothing, even an imprint of her body in the soft loam and fallen leaves. Further, there is sign of a great struggle, and a rather large pool of blood. Some of this blood, other than the girl’s, was identified and ID’d to a notorious skinhead and serial rapist, a man in his late 40s. Some large, canine-esque paw prints were also noted in the immediate area. Oddly, there is no sign of the likely perp, other than a few bits of clothing and skin, found in an area on the edge of the disturbed site, as if he was either running or being pulled into the thick trees…but that’s it. No trail or tracks of any sort (dogs were brought in), and no luck finding anything in the park so far, despite quite a bit of looking.

After a very successful surgery, the girl looks to most likely survive. The beating, which had fractured her skull and left her brain swollen and likely damaged, seems to be not quite so bad as first thought, or Raz really knows his way with a scalpel…perhaps when she awakens, we might learn another clue or two.

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Third Confluence: Downtime!
Razvan, teen wolf-dad? Or teen wolf/dad?

Our next instance of downtime will see the rise of the reborn Sept of the Hidden Spring, and some parting shots/RP with the regional packs and Garou who came just to help make it happen. After that, we may have a few months’ downtime, as the new sept’s Garou will need time to rebuild. They have tunnels to cleanse, Banes to continually drive off, and the nearby city of Baltimore — still their home, sort of — is changing around them.

What will the pack have to say, after all, when they see what’s decorating the skyscraper where the Shattered Glass Hive once held sway? Signage proclaiming a corporate buyout, promising new development and jobs for the city, courtesy of the Foundation for a Better Life? What will the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, the City Father, look like when the pack meets him next? Change is afoot in Baltimore, and just maybe, not all of it is good.

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(And yes, if enough time passes, Razvan will become a father. Zounds!)

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Ninth Story: Non-State Actor
They're dead where it doesn't count

After dark my city’s a fuse
One day, I say, today, we live as a lion
And when our cubs grow
We’ll show you what war is good for

— One Day as a Lion, “One Day as a Lion”

Not long after Last Call’s initial dive into the Dream Zone, the sept is put on a serious war footing. Garou from all the packs may be looking to claim credit for their accomplishments, but the sept elders refuse; time enough for rites and challenges of renown and rank when the crisis is over. There may be members of Last Call who by now might challenge for Adren rank, but they’re not alone in wanting to claim what they’ve earned.

Patrols are more frequent and expansive, but the Warder instructs the caern’s Guardians to explore with caution and stealth — learn what you can, but do not give away anything to the enemy! Others, like Willow and Scully, are obliged to summon spirits and build new Talens, promising minor Gaian Gaffling spirits that they won’t have to sleep long before Bane Arrows are fired, Arrow-Killer is spread to protect caern defenders, and Hero’s Mead will be guzzled ere long. Any other spirits that can be cajoled into service scout for the sept.

Some few Wyrm spirits that are caught near the Brewery, of course, may be confined by Wyrm Scales or worse.

Before the moon can wax to fullness, however, an unusual and extended power outage strikes the city. For the first few hours, it might be dismissed as a joke — just another random failure of the city’s infrastructure. When the power doesn’t come back quickly, though, batteries and generators begin to run low, stored food begins to thaw, and tempers flare during the first rush hour from hell.

By nightfall in the warm Baltimore spring, chaos grips the unnaturally (or is it naturally?) dark metro area. Residents and commuters trapped there by circumstance must survive for who knows how long without power, refrigeration, and the ready electronic access to everything they take for granted, including the cash stuck in their bank accounts. The human authorities are swamped, overwhelmed with emergencies. And although our misfit pack of Garou might easily escape the chaos, the Brewery, standing in the midst of this outbreak of rioting, looting and random acts of destruction, must still be defended.

Might this be the ideal time for a strike on the country Hive? Or is this how the Wyrm prepares for a decisive counterattack? And just how long can Zero last without WiFi? You thought the Atrocity Realm was bad!

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Eighth Story: Reoccurring Dreams
We ain't gotta dream no more, man.

Quiet
I am sleeping
In here
We need a little hope

— Smashing Pumpkins, “Quiet”

Have you ever had a lucid dream — one where you become aware that you’re dreaming, but you don’t wake up, and the dream just goes on?

What about a dream that seems more than a little familiar? Dreams can be variations on a theme, experts, scientists speak of archetypes, common to dreamers worldwide — always fitting everything into its place, categorizing, naming. But this is more than that.

Lately, the Garou of Last Call have been afflicted with a little of both. A familiar dream, that’s nothing worth bothering anyone with. But this is a pack of Wisdom, in service to a Dream Raven, part of the spirit brood of Chimera — mistress of Enigmas, caretaker of dreams. So when your dreams call to you, you might want to listen.

What do these nightmares portend for the pack? Could there be something sinister ahead for them — for the Garou of Baltimore, perhaps the entire city? Or is it just that they really have no true refuge from the Wyrm’s corruption, not even in their dreams. They’re about to find out.

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