No Really, We're Sheep
It is dark and loud.
By dark, I mean that it is pitch black: not a hint of light, artificial or natural.
By loud, I mean that there is clattering, shaking, and clunking sharply imposed over the sounds of wind, of large objects rushing, and by the sounds of engines.
The ground is hard, and occasionally it bounces.
And in the dark, there is the sound of moving things.
Tinny shifts to lupus, closes his useless eyes, and listens carefully for anything that might give away his surroundings; voices, familiar mechanical sounds, etc. He also sniffs the air to detect any familiar scents of his “packmates”, other Sept members, or anything that can tell his whereabouts or means of travel.
At first, Thoma assumes he is asleep and waits patiently for a dream to start. But, the acute awareness in his fingertips and the way his hair rises on end tell him that this is no dream. He concentrates and holds still, attempting to ascertain details about his surroundings. He thinks of a story he was once told, of a train track in Kansas that cut straight through a mountain. In the story, the tunnel was about 500 feet, but curved within the mountain. Halfway through, the world was dark, so dark that the boy got lost and began to fall over himself with no visual point of orientation. It took him an hour to get out of the tunnel. An hour of falling all over himself, of being deafened by his own echoes and heartbeat. Thoma concentrates.
AJ sits up, and tries to feel around for anything of interest or use. AJ says in a mocking and harsh tone, “Haha, ya got me… funny kidnapping joke… Seriously, mon, if I figure out who did tis, Imma fuckin’ break ya!”
Shay wonders if the L is going by and why she is directly next to it or stuck under it. Opening her eyes only feels as if she has closed them.
“What the hell is going on? Who is there? Anyone?”
Though Joseph’s first thought is to call out he clamps down that thought. Things are moving and he tries to will his eyes to adjust, though a part of his mind knows the futility of it. He sniffs the air, though he is not sure why. Joseph tries to see if there is anything near him to use as a weapon.
Those who take the time to stop and attempt to discern their surroundings notice that the bumping and jolting of the room are essentially exactly what they would expect from the back of a flat-bed truck with poorly maintained shocks. The jarring pain of being slammed against the floor (for who knows how long), is worse than may have been expected, but it is not, on its own, a wholly shocking phenomenon. Audibly, there is the sound of engines. This is not the methodical clack of a train, but rather the intermittent, fluctuating ebb and flow of car engines of all sizes. The majority of these engines, it sounds, are moving at a different speed than the vehicle in which the group rides. Whether they pass the other vehicles or the other vehicles pass them is unclear.
Then two voices call out, almost at the same time.
The first, by only a shade, a young man’s voice, “Haha, ya got…” And then the second, a young woman’s voice, “What the hell…” And when they realize they are talking over one another, both voices stop, then start, then stop again. Then conversation is cut off by a loud car horn, and it seems likely, to everyone in the dark, that perhaps their vehicle is the one being passed.
AJ hears what I described in the main post. He discerns, without the help of the car horn, that they are the one’s being passed, because he hears the engine of their truck, which allows him to figure out where the front and back of the flatbed are located. He happens to be near the front of the truck.
He hears the distinct breathing of at least 4 other individuals in the cab with him, two of them beginning to breath a little more shallowly and faster.
He smells both unwashed bodies and the sickeningly sweet smell of cheap body wash, and the distinct smell of a rather fancy cologne or aftershave.
He hears a series of pops and strains in front of him and to his right, accompanied by labored breathing, and then hears soft taps and skids as though an animal were moving on a too smooth surface.
Joseph is excited to hear other voices. Once again though he holds his toungue. If he is in the bed of a truck, then someone is driving it. Joseph rolls and feels with is hands to find the rear window of the cabin.
Tinny finds the change comes easily this time, probably because there’s no sense of urgency to it. As he turns his ears and nose to the world, however, he comes to a series of horrifying realizations: the floor is quite, quite smooth, the world is quite loud, and the smells in this truck are quite strong. These three things combine in a number of nearly disastrous ways.
The sounds of traffic around him, as well as the sounds of breathing and movement inside the truck, are nearly overwhelming. His time on the trains had somewhat helped him to handle this, but it’s the combination of all of the cars that makes it so very, very unpleasant. On its own, this perhaps would not bother him.But then there’s the smells. He immediately identifies the smells of Royce and Shayanna, here in the box with him, but there are many, many more strange smells, including the smells of gasoline and motor oil and asphalt and exhaust and alcohol. On their own, and even in conjunction with the noises, perhaps he could have filtered it away to the important information.
But then there’s the slippery floor. As he begins to lose his footing, he suddenly pictures himself as a cartoon dog skidding around the backseat of a car, but it isn’t funny at all. He has to begin tensing and flexing and ducking and tucking to prevent himself from sliding across the truckbed.
And so, with these three things together, he is nearly overwhelmed, and he lets out a reflexive whimper. By the time he begins to bring himself back under his own control, voices have begun to speak. One of them is Shayanna’s.
Joseph feels behind himself, but realizes that he is not at the wall that would be nearest the truck’s cabin. The male voice, however is. In feeling, however, he realizes that this is no pick-up truck. In hearing the voices, he realizes there is a ceiling above his head, maybe five or six feet, maybe a bit more. Probably, he thinks, probably this is a U-Haul, or maybe a semi truck trailer.tinny shifts back to homid, thanking Gaia for the nice gift of his dedicated coat. At least he doesn’t have to meet the new people naked…again. He swallows hard and keeps his fear in check for the sake of the two kids he has befriended and considers packmates.
“Shay, I hear you. Roy is here too. Don’t panic. I’m here with you. And you, uh, strangers, we’re going to be ok. I was told something about this…I think…prepared, maybe. Anyway, my name is Tinny. TC. Tin-Can. Whatever you want, really. Who are all of you pups?
A truck. He was in a truck. Thoma had seen them on the freeway and occasionally on the grounds at his boarding school, but never, never, did he think he’d ever have the dire misfortune to be in one of them. And in the back. “Ew.”
And he was here with other people. People like him, he presumed. Inhaling and trying to ignore the acrid smells, he curled his fingers into fists. “Roll Call.” He says, at attempt to pinpoint how many are with him, and where in the truck they are.
AJ shifted to get his back against something. He shoved down the rising fury, these people were in the same predicament as him. He needed to think clearly, though that wasn’t what he wanted to do.
He responded to the darkness, “I’m assuming dat none of ya didn’t capture capture me. If ya did, ya might be da dumbest kidnappers eva. Name’s ‘AJ’. Anyone know who mighta done tis?”
Joseph’s forced calm breaks. “Here. Name’s Joseph. Anyone have a clue what’s going on?”
Tinny: “I think it is our time to shine, guys. It’s a test. Unless I’m greatly mistaken, we become adults today, so to speak. And if I am mistaken, well, there’s gonna be a lot of blood and one very well perforated truck driver.”
Shay sits up and finds herself to a wall and leans her back against it.
“A test, so we all get to put on our big girl panties today?”
Shay does an eye roll.
“Maybe they’ll put us in a burlap bag and beat us with sticks to see who pisses themselves first.”
Tinny: “Maybe they will, Shay, metaphorically speaking. At any rate, I think the guys taking us wherever we’re going are on our side. Try not to lose control when the truck stops. In fact, I suggest that we all wait patiently and quietly for our opening and react according to what we are presented with when this big metal box opens. In other words, keep your rage in check until we need it. My two cents.”
He unconsciously nods in the darkness toward the general area where AJ’s angered voice came from.
[Tinny tries to determine from his memory of the smell of his companions whether or not he could sense that any of the newcomers were Garou. This would cement in his mind the idea that this is indeed their ROP, as Miranda had explained, and not some other strange predicament]
Tinny sets his mind in motion, wishing that lupus hadn’t been such a cluster fuck of an experience. Nothing he smells, hears, or feels-on-a-more-spiritual-level provides him with any indication whether the others are or are not garou.
A soft voice chimes in, "Thanks Tin. This is Royce, I’m here Shay. As long as the three of us are together, we’ll be fine. I caught somebody say their name is Joseph. Who’s everybody else? And where’s everyone from? And what does everyone last remember?
“Me, and Shay and Tin are all from Chicago. Last thing I remember was being with this, I guess, mentor of mine. Her name is Brigid. Shay? Tin? Brigid is one of my cousins that works in the Sears Tower.”
“Joseph here. Last thing I remember I was with some… friends Joe and Miranda.” Joseph starts feeling towards tl voices, moving slow and steady. “Why us? What’s this about a test?” Joseph takes a deep breath to calm himself. “I’m in favor of staying calm until we know what’s going on.”
AJ spoke up again, “My names AJ Arroyo. I’m from the south edge of Chicago city. The last thing I rememba was ‘working out’ with my Uncle Carlos. He ‘fights like a beast’ if ya know what I mean. If ya don’t, well, I’m not gonna explain it. I went to sleep in my bed and woke up in dis ting!” AJ punctuated the statment by elbowing the container.
AJ continued, his voice a little calmer, “Now, TC, watcha talkin about ‘becoming an adult’? Ma uncle didn’t mention dat, or being kidnapped as part of the test!”
Tinny: “Well, first things first: gotta make sure were really among friends here. Have any of you been having strange dreams lately, or noticing things—abilities—that you never knew you had suddenly popping up? Have any of you gone through an EXTREMELY strange and traumatic event in the last few months, and because of that event have been introduced to family you never met or friends who say they’ve been watching you or waiting for this event? Any of this ringing a bell for anyone?”
AJ snorts in the darkness and responds in a mocking voice, “No, mon. I’m an innocent bystander.”
Then, with a little more serious tone, “Look, you described everything to a tee, but you either know what the ‘Litany’ says, or you don’t. If you do, we be cool. If not, don’t press it, ‘cause I’d hate to have to kill ya.” AJ snickered, but it was a little vague if he was kidding…
Tinny: “AJ, I had no doubt about you. If it wasn’t the clever ‘beast uncle’ comment that gave you away, it is the sound of barely tempered fury in your voice that tells me who you really are. But let’s be plain: I wasn’t really asking you. I was asking the more timid members of the cargo box club. We’ll talk about the litany when we’re sure we’re not breaking it by speaking of it.”
Listening to the tense conversation around him, Thoma frowned, his heart fluttering once in nerves. Test? He hadn’t been told anything about being tested. Hoping that wasn’t the case, he shifts his weight. AJ, Tin, Joseph, Royce, and Shay. Shay, the angry panties one, was the only woman. AJ had some sort of accent, so he would cover their minority. They could almost be the Avengers. He snorts at his own train of thought, then clears his throat. “And I’m Thoma. Is that everyone? Anyone have a lighter?”
There’s a jolt, a lurch, and a lean. The truck is turning and slowing
Shay brings her knees up against her chest feeling the lean of the truck.
“So we have new members in our family? Or are you just visiting?”
She asked out to the dark of the truck.
“No lighter on me, seems like it’s missing.”
Tinny: : “A good hobo always keeps a little fire on him. Ain’t gonna do no good without something to burn, though.”
Tinny feels in the dark for shay’s hand and palms her a book of matches.
“Besides, I think this train’s done a-rollin. We’ll have light in a few minutes that’ll give faces to the voices and smells.”
Tinny cannot find his traditional book of matches, though he is absolutely certain that he ought to have it.
IC Retcon: “a good hobo always keeps a little fire on him.”
Tinny digs in his pockets for a moment…
“Shit. Apparently I’m a bad hobo. No luck on my matches. Oh well, I think this train’s done a-rollin’ anyway. Soon we’ll have light to put faces to all the voices and smells.”
Ooc: that’s how it’s done.
Thoma inhales, then exhales slowly, a relaxation technique that has never helped him relax. “Well, let’s hope it’s not too bright out there.” Full daylight sun after sitting in this total darkness could blind them for anywhere from half a minute to a full minute. Slipping his feet under him, Thoma balances on the balls of his feet, ready to stand.
Tinny: "if it is even daylight at all. I’m guessing it is dark out since there’s no light coming through any cracks where doors might be. Of course, that’s assuming we’re in the back of a cargo container on a truck to begin with. We’ll see.
AJ cracks his neck loudly in the darkness and says menacingly “Dis had better be good. I don’t like being tranq’d and caged.”
Shay: “I noticed that most of my shit ain’t with me.”
Shay said with a dry laugh to her voice, then she leaned her head towards AJ’s voice.
“Cubs or Sox?”
There is the sound of gravel under tires and the truck stops moving (with a fairly significant jolt). Two doors distinctly open and close, and then steps begin to resonate through the chamber accompanied by a deep ranging as someone climbs the side of the box, then walks across the roof.
Then a light erupts from the center of the ceiling overhead, filling the cabin with painful, unremitting, blinding light.
A grizzled, unfamiliar voice calls down, “Okay, pups, ride’s over. I’m going to lower a ladder, and you’re going to climb out, one at a time, nice and calm. We got food for you, and you don’t have to go back in this thing. Okay?”
As their eyes begin to adjust, the group comes to realize that the blinding light is actually a fading industrial bulb. How long were they in the box?
Not confident that they can fight their way out of this truck (Hell, Thoma’s not sure they could’ve fought their way into it), he frowns and tries to square his shoulders. “If anyone has a Phone A Friend left, now is the time,” he mutters under his breath, already, reluctantly, moving toward the ladder.
AJ rises to his feet, squinting up at the lit opening, trying to see their “captors”. With a quick glance and nod at the others in the hold to get a quick idea of what they look like, AJ followed Thoma to the ladder and up.
As Thoma reaches the top of the ladder, rough hands grasp him under the arms and lift him out. Vision is blurry as dark-adjusted eyes adjust, but the figure points him towards the end of the truck, where a loading bay is high enough for an easy jump down.
Another figure is waving Thoma over. Similarly, AJ is assisted out and hustled along.Tinny waits for his eyes to adjust, waving Shay, Joseph, and Roy along. In a whisper: “I’ll watch the rear, guys. Never too safe. Go on.”
Joseph: I think it’s obvious we are all in the same situation. Anyone here know Joe or Miranda? For that matter anyone have a light?
Joseph makes his way up the ladder, squinting his eyes so the sudden light doesn’t feel likle it’s stabbing into his brain. Again Joseph tests the air for scents, hoping to catch some clue where “here” is. When his eyes do adjust he looks to the others to put names to faces.
IC: “Are we allowed to know what is going on?” He asks in the direction of the new voice.
A thick hand plunges into the box, lending itself to Joseph.
“You’re allowed to know that you got where I’m supposed to take you, and you’re allowed to know people are waiting on you. C’mon.”
AJ, Thoma, and Royce mill on a bare loading dock, observing their former carriage: a rectangular grain tanker. The only openings are on the roof, and the truck has Illinois plates. Other than mandatory decals and a flammable contents warning, there are no other identifying marks on the truck.
The man who has been helping them out of the tanker is a grizzled, well-muscled man with graying blonde hair and an ill-tended beard to match. He’s dressed in a first camo jacket over a black tank top and blue jeans. A large hunting knife is strapped to his chest in an inverted position reminiscent of a special ops mercenary in a b-movie or video game.
He guides Joseph, Shayanna, and Tinny out of the back and to the loading dock.
Joseph watches the grizzelled man as he moves. Watching for any telling moves or twitches. He then givea a nod to his fellow “captives”.
IC: “Anything we are allowed to know, sir?”
The man sighs at Joseph’s questioning, giving off the very obvious impression that his time is being wasted. “You’re allowed to know that you can shut up and wait.”
“Now, now Sam, that isn’t very nice,” responds a scratchy alto. The group turns to the voice finding a number of people entering through an office door.
First is the speaker, an old woman in a faded sundress, written crocks, and a clearly hand-stitched sham. In lock step with her is a massive man, easily seven feet tall, built like a caricature of a body builder dressed in biker’s leathers, complete with steel spike adornments.
Behind these two come a pair of identical twins in their mid 20’s dressed in similar cargo short and t-shirt combos. One wears a black shirt with the logo “I Got Crumby at the Cookie Jar”, the other’s shirt bearing a logo for the Meat Whistle 2007 World Tour (of New York) and the slogan “All Whistles Will Be Blown”. The twin in the Cookie Jar shirt wears a ridiculous head band the gives him a single short, curved horn on the right side of his forehead. The twin in the band shirt wears a brimmed hat pulled somewhat low.
Near them is a middle aged red haired woman. while the old woman, the giant, and the twins draw up to the group, the woman joins Sam, waves a cursory goodbye to the group, and gets into the truck cab.
As the truck rolls away with Sam and the redhead in it, the giant grumbles, “Why’d they send that dick?” The old woman pats him on the arm, “Now, now. Sam knows his place. No need to dwell on a brief appearance.”
She then smiles widely at the assembled group.
“Welcome to New York, children.”
Joseph takes in the scene, but holds his tongue.
Well mostly “New York? How long were we out?” He wonders aloud under his breath. He then checks the stances of the group he came in with. More or less to see if anyone else is as unsettled as himself.
Tinny looks around at his companions, bewildered. This was a very unexpected turn of events.
The old woman approaches Joseph, smiling sweetly. She turns and smoothly takes his arm, as though he were escorting her to a dance. She smells like old flowers and dirt, a little sour, a little sweet. Interestingly, perhaps, she does not smell like soap or perfume.
She begins walking leading him with her, “Oh, about 24 hours, depending on traffic. We’re very happy to have you here. I am Grandmother Larissa, Bone Gnawer, Theurge. You may call me Laurie. I am the Guardian of the Sept of the Green, the largest and must united Sept of Garou in the United States.”
The twins and the giant move to flank the others, nodding for them to follow, entirely friendly in their demeanor.
“I’m proud to claim that High King Jonas Albrecht himself calls our Sept home, because of all that we’ve accomplished to unify our population under a single cause. Why, even the Mangrave Konietzko praised that feat!”
One off the twins snidely chimes in, “Yeah, of all the new world mutts, he said…” and the other twin finishes his sentence, “We’re the most organized.” The giant nods knowingly, “Yeah, which is why he’s still hiding in Slovakia.”
The twins nod and laugh appreciatively, and the giant smiles.
Larissa continues, nonplussed, “And you cannot believe how proud we all are of the Sept of the Second City, coming along so perfectly, preventing that war, and holding so much ground against the leeches.”
The giant speaks again, “Yeah, I helped with that. I killed a lot of leeches and wyrm things. I like Chicago. The wyrm doesn’t hide good there.”
At this, one of the twins, the one in the hat, laughs uproariously, which is almost immediately accompanied by a spray of blood out of his nose. He curses and deftly fetches a rag from his pocket, pressing it to his face and tilting his head back.
Larissa continues, “Which is why we were so happy to be asked to participate in this exchange. Every chance we have to reinforce relationships between North American Garou is one the Sept of the Green will!”
The group nears a large, heavy door and she stops, releasing Joseph’s arm. “Pardon the noise.”
The twin who isn’t bleeding grins at AJ, “You’re gonna love this.”
The giant makes his way to the door and opens it. Immediately, a palpable wave of sound strikes the group. Through the door is darkness intermixed with packed and grinding bodies: a club.
At the far end, a small stage is dominated by a hardcore band, the singer screaming himself red in the face, neck muscles standing out like ropes. One member, holding some variety of guitar is being passed on stage by the crowd, presumably after having dove into them. Behind the singer, a dj is looping something that accounts for percussion.
The giant is obviously excited ny what he sees, and in a state of supreme self-control, wades into the crowd, clearing a path. Larissa shudders and follows, and the twins bring the group along, skirting the edge of the crowd, shoeing behind the bar, exiting through a doorway into a narrow stairwell, and proceeding into a basement.
The basement is initially a storage room, well stocked with all manner of alcohol and other beverages, and chilly. Beyond the storage room is a hallway lined with closed doors. Overhead, the sound of the concert and pounding feet of the crowd is heard as they walk below the scene. At the far end of the hallway is a door marked “exit” and “stairs” and a hand written designation of “stage”, but before reaching that door, they walk through one of the side doors marked “manager”.
That room consists of a reception area, behind which is a glassed-off office. Inside the office two men stand and speak animatedly. One, an asian man in his middle years, wears a plain black business suit; the other is a red faced irishman in a much more relaxed suit, looking more like a man who thinks a suit is comfortable than one who has to wear a suit. The twin with a nose bleed snatches kleenex off the reception desk, replacing his rag. He also reaches under the desk and elicits a clicking noise which dislodges a file cabinet against one wall.
The giant swings the cabinet away from the wall, revealing another downward staircase, and he and Larissa descend. While the unbleeding twin guides everyone else to follow, promising “food”, the bleeding twin raps on the dividing glass to get the attention of the men inside the office.
And then they’re out of view. The stairs descend at least two stories, are very steep, and though the construction looks mostly modern, they twist and turn like they were installed by someone without any construction experience. Halfway down, they pass a vault door. At the bottom, they enter a room that immediately smells like delicious food.
Entering, the group finds a meeting room with a long oval table laid out with a massive tray of sliced meat, a tray of still steaming rolls, and bowls of hot vegetables. Off to the side, the group can see the remains of the catering equipment that had made the meal possible.
Larissa gestures for everyone to sit. “Now, eat your fill. It may be some days before you get another meal of any note. I’ll leave you with Kills the Wyrm,” she gestures to the giant, “and Dane,” she gestures to the unbleeding twin. “Connor will be down shortly to answer your questions. And I will see you all again at dawn.”
And without answering questions, she leaves.