PS4

This is a raw transcript.

Royce sits quietly beside his father as they crest a hill in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He never thought he’d have to sit thru another ‘play nice’ lecture, and yet here he is, as though he’s five again and getting on his first school bus. He lets his father’s droning in briefly.

“Remember, your Mom is a big deal with these people, but that doesn’t mean you get special treatment. Some of the kids might razz you about it, but keep your temper. They’re kind off like a new family for you. And if you see Veronica… ask her to call me, okay?”

Royce rests his forehead against a windshield that is alternately hot and cold from the backlash of the heater and the chilly winds blowing outside. It feels nice.

The car pulls in to a parking lot for the Amtrak. Royce clutches his suitcase and checks his pockets.

“Got your ticket?” asks the senior McGovern, “Need any folding money?” Conspicuously, he isn’t getting out of the car.

Royce hears the rumble of the approaching train from behind him.

“No, I think I’ve enough, and the card too.”
He gives his father a weak smile, adjusts his coat, then reaches into the glove box and pops the trunk.
“I’ll play nice with the other lads and mind my manners da.”
Royce opens the door and steps out, hoisting the trunk open and pulls out his instrument and a shoulder bag. Then with a noticeable slam of discontentment, moves back to the open door, leaning in.
“No hug for your boy?”

He smirks, “Don’t be a smart ass. Better hurry along now, I’m sure yer mom’ll be bringing you back around soon enough.”

The Amtrak rolls to a stop and people on the platform begin to embark.

“Get on with it, I’m not driving you into Chicago.”

Royce readjusts his bag on his shoulder and walks around the car toward the station
“I’ll call you when i can da, and i’ll have ma call ya on my phone.” He starts to trot toward the train
“Love ya!”
Royce then breaks into a light gallop and makes for the platform, bounding between cars and over chain fences, skipping steps on his way up and landing neatly at the platform, ticket in hand, waving back at his father.

Donnal waves as Royce makes his way to the train. Royce boards without complication and sets off for Chicago.

Meanwhile, in the city, Shayanna and TC lounge below the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park, people watching, and awaiting Banion. In the last month, they had gotten quite comfortable with the central Chicago lifestyle. A smart grifter makes a good living on the Mile, and the gifts of being Garou allowed the local Bone Gnawers to capitalize.

All was not easy street, of course. Shayanna had been jumped by a gang and beaten pretty badly before shifting into Glabro and turning the tables. Banion had chewed her out for not doing a better job of maintaining a low profile.

TC was a person of interest in a robbery investigation because he’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time. His picture had been run on the news, and he’d had to go underground for a few weeks. All in all, they were getting the hang of things.

Banion runs a YMCA that operated far more as a soup kitchen and halfway house than an athletics facility. Shay and TC had been able to come and go as they liked. Banion did put them to work in maintaining and caring for the dispossessed who relied on the facility, which helped keep the young werewolves out of some trouble.

At night, he spent time teaching them about their tribe: the Bone Gnawers, and their role as the keepers and overseers of the humans that fell out of the economic lower class and into the category of homeless. He told then tales of how they used to watch over all of humanity, but then the other tribes dipped their fingers in, taking choicer groups, and no one wanted the downtrodden man. It was the Bone Gnawers who acknowledged that all humans needed protection, not just the choice ones, and it was the Bone Gnawers who had made the most pure and selfless decision in accepting their duties.

Banion also began to instruct them a bit into spiritual matters, though, by his own admission, he was a better student than a teacher. Occasionally he asked the two of them to act as go-fers, usually to help then get more exposure to certain parts and people of the city. Today was such a day.

As boredom threatened to overwhelm, Banion plopped down beside Shay. “How’s it goin, kids?”

Shay looked up from an abandoned Trib. There was a sly smile on her face.
“Looks like my little scuffle ended up on page 4, but they are calling it a gang fight.”
Shay laid the paper on her lap and opened up a can of generic soda, something of the “cola” persuasion.
“These Northwestern kids are real suckers. Look sad enough and pitiable enough, they’ll spot you a 5 on the spot for lunch.” Shay huffed. “Damn lucky kids, parents made of money, and five bucks means nothing to them. While there are others out there were 5 whole bucks means their families eat for the night. Shit ain’t fair pops.”
Shay reached into her pocket and pulled out the five.
“Even I feel guilty spending it, now that we are living together and we have enough, but you realized that there are others out there crawling on their bellies that think 5 bucks is a fortune. Did Gaia create man? Or was it the destroyer? Because the way they treat each other you’d think it was the latter.”

Tinny: “Hey, at least you’re not on every post office wall in Cook County, babe.” TC rubs his freshly shaven face and short cropped hair, the new look he’s had to adopt until things cool down.
“As for the sheep, well, they are as we are, Shay. The Triat is in us all, though some of us sway toward one third or another. The trick is maintaining balance. You and I had our little walks with the Wyrm ourselves, remember?” Tinny lies down on his back with his hands folded behind his head.
“If you feel so shitty about that five bucks, roll it into a ball and stuff it in someone’s pocket at the shelter. Don’t mean a thing to us, anyway. Gaia provides, don’t she?” He looks at Shay and grins, then lets his eyes close so he can feel the earth and air around him.

Banion taps the five, “Actually, hold onta that. We’ve got another new one comin’ inta town. Ridin the train in to Union. I want you two ta go meet the kid. His name is Royce, an he’s third generation fer this Caern. But he gets it down his ma’s side, an she’s a bit of an activist. She spends most of her time off continent. Sorta like yer pop.” Banion nods to Shay, intentionally making another reference to her father despite having told her none of what he knows about the man. These little pokes and prods had become a regular aspect of their interactions, and so far, Shay’s curiosity hadn’t bested her lingering hatred for the abandoner.

“Anyway, he’s a burb kid. He knows about as much as you two do in terms of who we are, but he ain’t a Gnawer, and he don’t make it into the city that much, so he ain’t going to know his way around.

“You ’member how two weeks ago we went to that little school? The Fanum? The one with all the books on magic an shit? I want you guys to take him to get some dinner.” Banion produces a small wad of dirty bills and peels off a pair of twenties. “Then I want you to take him to the Fanum, they’re gonna put him up. He’s Fianna Tribe, they come from Ireland an got fairy blood in ‘em. He’ll be meetin folks more in tune with his type at the Fanum. But I want you two ta get to know him, cuz he’s gonna become a fixture, just like the two of you.” He slugs The Kid in the shoulder, another routine he’d adopted since Tinny got famous.

“His train should be gettin’ in in about an hour, so probably oughta get moving. His name is Royce McGovern, he’s comin in on the BNSF. Green line. Look for the Gingerish kid there and you probably got him, but you call out Royce an he’ll be listenin’ fer it.”

Shay rolled her eyes. Hearing the words “third generation” made her shoulders sink just a bit. She shoved the money back in her pocket.
“So this new dipshit is like royalty or something?”
She tossed her newspaper into a trash bin.
“Union Station, I use to hang out around those parts, till, ol’ Denny got it.”
Shay let out a long drawn out sigh and looked at TC and smirked.
“Maybe he’s cute, I’m kinda tired of seeing your face on every crimestoppers poster from here to Naperville.”

Banion stands up.

“No, not royalty, just not as bottom of the barrel as the three of us. Somewhere in the middle, with some cosplay thrown in. Go on now, or you’ll leave him waiting, and that’d be rude.”

((OOC: As a reassurance, while TC’s face was run on the news, his picture is not, in fact, hung in every post office. Just enough of them that he needs to not be hideously blatant about his presence.))

Tinny: “Okey dokie, old man. Go pick up the Ginger and shove some food in his face, then teach him about acid-trip-level shit at Merlin’s Mysterious Tome Emporium for the Lupine Inclined. Anything else, you old dog?” TC smiles to the father. He then pulls himself off the concrete and holds a hand out to help Shay up.

Shay picked her stuff up and motioned over to TC.
“We gotta get the Gnawer fanfare going for the new kid. We should take him somewhere special, maybe the Wiener Circle? That’ll be a fine introduction to his new home.”
Shay laughed a little before she started towards Union Station.
“Maybe we should make a sign? Something classy.”

Tinny: “I was thinking the exact same thing. We’ll save as much of that forty five as we can, too. Might come in handy later. I don’t want to be in a hard spot where a couple of bucks would do us some good, but not have it because we overspent on feeding some Mick kid’s facehole. And the sign idea is cute, too. Lets go find us some cardboard. Lead the way!”

The “Welcoming Committee” found there way to a dumpster within a block of Union station, Shay hoisted herself up to see what was in it.
“I think we got ourselves a office dumpster, so Jackpot!”
Shay jumped in and began to scrounge around looking for cardboard that was sign worthy.

Shayanna finds a fed ex envelope that, when torn in half, reveals a serviceable cardboard surface. At about the same time, the Kid located a rejected black printer cartridge that readily presents as an ink source when paired with the stem of a dozen wilted roses.

The duo are well equipped to create their sign, though they will have to get a move on to make it to Union Station on time.

Shay climbed out, putting the supplies in front of TC.
“Looks like we are in business. Banion said that he was named Roy or Ray, or was it Royce?”
Shay started to think.
“How about; Royce, welcome to the family long lost brother!”
Shay giggled
“Nothing like a little prince being associated with scuzzballs like us.”

Tinny writes “Royce, roll on over this way” with a large black arrow pointing down. “heheh, Roll…Royce…I slay me. Let’s GTFO and hop to the station.” TC lets Shay lead the way.

Shay, Tinny, and their greeting sign manage to make it to Union right as the line pulls in.

As Royce departs the cab, he sees two scruffy, dirty young adults holding the aforementioned sign. The girl holds the sign itself, while the boy is rubbing some sort of black stain off of his fingers.

Shay’s hair is down, it’s wild. She quicky grabs TC’s hand and smears some of the ink on her face, looking as dirty as possible. She turns her face to that of utter dispair.
“Look at how clean he looks.”
Shay whispers to TC, then lets out a long overly drawn out sigh.
“Royce!?”
She shakes the sign at him.
“Is this you!?”

Royce spots the sign, and observes as the young woman intentionally dabs her fingers into some sort of black liquid/smudge on the hands of the boy, and then intentionally drags it across her face.

Royce hoists his bag up on his shoulder, pulls his suitcase in close
and waves back half heartedly with the hand holding his violin case.
As he makes his way over, he looks around, hoping that there may in
fact be someone older or with a vehicle waiting for him. He soldiers
on to the 2 dirty teens.
“Aye, I’m Royce, are you too here ta greet me”
he gives a big winning smile and glances around again.

Shay leans over to TC to whisper to him.
“Get a load of this guy.”
She takes a step forward.
“Top ’o the morning to ya!”
Shay’s accent was horrible as she couldn’t keep from giggling.
“I be Shayanna and this be the very Tin Can Kid o’ legend! And if you don’t mind me askin’ where be that pot o’ gold you be hidin’?”

Tinny: “Pardon Shay, Royce. One too many cans of cheap cola have passed through her today.” Tinny holds out his hand for a shake, but realizes it is inky and pulls it back. “Father said we’d be meeting ya here, and that we should get some grub and then head for some light reading. You hungry?”

Royce grins and grabs Tinny’s forearm for a shake, smiling wide at the both of them.
“Famished, you kids got anythin’ in mind, or are ya gonna leave it ta your guest to choose?”
he then looks to Shay
“As for me gold…” he drops his stance into a jig and whirls the violin case up to his chin as though it were the violin itself and mimes a bow across it. “I’ll tell you of gold, of riches untold, and lands of the greenest of lands. Where the ale flows so nicely, and the maidens all dress lightly, and the time doesn’t fall with the sands. For you seek out my coin, and I presume to purloin, but my bed shall await oh so empty. So for a small fee, if you’ll bring unto me, a girl so fare, with brown-reddish hair, and perhaps your reward wont be scanty.”
He then does a brief hop and slings the violin case up under his arm and looks at the two, then traces his eyes across the train station at the passing women, and then back to Tinny and Shay and smiles again.

Shay: “Yeah, too much cola…”
Shay wiped off her hands before putting her hair back up into a ponytail.
“Dude, you keep this up and you’re definitely going to start shitting lucky charms.”
She folded the sign in half, tossing it into a waste basket.
“If we go down towards S. 111th we’ll be knee deep in Irish whores in no time. We’ll take the L, nothing says welcome to Chicago like the smell of piss and Twizzlers.”

Tinny: “We’re gonna do ya Chicago style, Roy. Me, I ain’t from around here, but I sure do like this town and the way they eat. Pizza or hot dogs: your call. I might be able to choke down a boca dog, I think, but my money is on the ’Za (I can always get it veggie style).” TC motions to help with luggage.

Shay eyeballs the luggage, then looks to TC before grabbing something to carry/haul.
“Lets get this guy set up before we take him out. The less we have to carry, the happier we’ll be.”
Shay’s stomach grumbles.
“Deep dish sounds really good, fuck New York and their pancake pizzas.”
Shay’s mood was starting to shift to something nicer.

Royce: “Pizzas fine, long as there’s meat on it, lots and lots of meat.” Royce re-shoulders his bag and adjust the violin case in his hand, but hands the handle of the suitcase to Tinny. “So what palatial suite shall i be lodgin’ in tonight?”
Royce begins heading toward the exit, still scanning the area for attractive women, although being moderately subtle about it, any that catch his eye he gives a smile and nod or wink too, hoping to garner some positive feedback.

While Royce’s violin case garners some attention, he proves a failure at making eye contact. The people in the station seem solely devoted to their own schedules, and none too interested in a fair eyed stranger trying to make contact. Decidedly, the entire experience reeks of near desperation, humans too caught up in their details, and too worried that strangers only offer pain and abuse.

And so, the trio sets off for Tiny Italy, a restaurant and pizzeria owned by a Glass Walker kinfolk, renowned for absolutely nothing, but known for giving Garou a private place to meet and eat…as long as they tip well.

Shay felt completely out of place in a restaurant where you had to order while seated. She sat next to TC, looking at Royce.
“Why come to the big city? Ain’t nothing here but misery and despair everywhere you look. You don’t seem like the type that wants to look at that sorta thing.”
Shay decided to get the life story ball rolling.

Royce sips at his cup of water and glances around the room
“Oh me, I’m just following orders really. My ma said i should head out to where our kind are and learn the trade, if ya will. My da called a couple cousins, uncles, second cousins and next ting i know, i’m getting off a train being met by a couple dirty kids in a town where i’ll have ta work for pussy.”
He glances around the restaurant nonchalantly.

Shay’s eye twitched while she bit down on her bottom lip.
“We’re dirty?”
Shay’s voice got whisper quiet.
“Sure you get ferried into all this bullshit by family, while TC and I have to graduate the School of Hard Knocks with Honors.”
Shay is deadly quiet.
“When the shit hit the fan for me, I tore into and destroyed an outlet of a Chechen syndicate on the south side of Chicago all becuase they stabbed to death my only friend on the streets, over a stupid gambling debt. Yeah, I guess I am fucking dirty…”
Shay’s voice turned to normal.
“Just a heads up, the pussy here is neither cheap or easy. Expect to work overtime.”

Tinny: “I’m dirty.” He pops a slice of his personal veggie pizza in his gob and grins around it. Mouth full, he adds: “it is what it is, sister.” Chews some. “His path has obstacles, too.”

As Shay finishes her dialogue, looking up, especially with The Kid’s glib addition, Royce can’t help but wonder if she’s being serious, as the deadly quiet face still bears the stains of ink that she rubbed into it to greet Royce into the city.

Ooc: Shay is certainly welcome to forget that she intentionally rubbed ink on herself to appear more dirty than she actually is, but ink stains and it’s going to stock around for about two days if she bathes regularly, one day if she bathes vigorously, and four days if she doesn’t bathe at all. And as of this moment, they’ve only been around for an hour or two.

Same goes for Tinny’s hands.

These are stains, so they aren’t wiping off on stuff anymore, but for the time being, Shay looks like she either is trying amateur combat camou, or is trying out for Oliver Twist. The Kid looks like he was handling a pen that exploded.

As Shayanna sulks, the hostess who seated them hurries past, heading from the front back to the kitchen, the young woman looking quite frazzled. Moments later, the gentleman whose face is on the homey pictures up front, assumedly making him the owner, assumedly making him thee Glass Walker kin, passes in the other direction.

The three young garou have picked a quiet time of day for their meal: the sun had just set on a mid November evening, and the real dinner crowd is still getting out of work. The trio are the only customers on hand, though foot traffic on the sidewalk, visible through the bay windows at the front of the restaurant, suggest maybe that will change.

Likely, the expectation of business is why the owner is personally responding to the ragged figure at the front of the restaurant. The trio hear the owner call out, “I told you lot to fuck off! I ain’t playing your bullshit. I ain’t got no fucking charity for your kind.”

The figure faces him, a hunched man in a filthy long coat, a hoodie underneath pulled up over his head. He points a glove that has its fingers cut free, exposing his dirty fingertips, accusingly at the owner mumbling something barely audible.

The owner reaches behind the greeting station and produces a baseball bat that has been painted red, white, and green, reminiscent of the Italian national flag. He stalks towards the dirty man.

“Learn ta fucking listen, eh? Paying customers only.” He wields the bat threateningly, though has not actually swung it yet.

The dirty man responds, his voice louder, gravelly from years of cigarette smoke, “come on now, be smart, right? This don’t have to be this way…”

Tinny: “Shay, you still got that fiver burning a hole on your pocket? I’m gonna go take care of something if I can.”

Royce sucks the grease off a slice of pepperoni before popping it into his mouth and savoring its flavor as he looks over his shoulder at the scene developing, not turning back to the other 2.

“It dont matter where ya came from, or what your wallet has held, all tat is in the past. What matters is the present, the life we live here and now, and the choices and actions we make in this time, this place, this moment.”

He turns back to his pizza and the kids with a broad smile and picks out a chunky piece of sausage.

“For instance, the choices made in this restaurant right over here. Had choices been made differently, t’ese fine men wouldnt be making hearts race so, the poor pretty waitress might be over here enchanting me wit her smile while i tell her about music and poetry. But what could have been and what will be are not the same, chances to fate now.”

He pops the sausage in his mouth and slowly chews, taking in the situation carefully, studying the dirty men and the owner each in detail and quickly.

“By the by, have either of you ever had the experience of charging through the woods at full speed, heart racing, lungs burning, tongue rolling, and the soft loam of the earth squishing between your toes for a moment before ya lift off again, hurtling through trees after a wonderful treasure” He turns back to the scene developing as the hobo points at the owner. “I think that is what they call the thrill of the hunt. Its the adrenaline rush that makes you alive and know that you’re alive, its the pulse from that goes from heart to the tips of your toes and makes your dick hard before you even get what you want. I wonder what these gents are feeling right now?”

The owner raises the bat threateningly, though still clearly in posturing mode, maintaining a goodly distance between himself and the hobo.

The hobo smiles, an act that is largely noticeable by the way the light glints off his teeth: jagged and shiny, well-kept. He reaches the pointing hand into his pocket.

“Come on, be smart. You don’t want all yer fine customers hearin about yer rat problem, do ya? All them hungry, hungry folks gonna come porin’ in here and seeing vermin scampering all over your fucking dough? Why don’t you just make yer fucking payment and it don’t have to be a problem, eh?”

The hobo produces a large, squirming, black rat from his pocket, wielding it back at the owner.

Royce cocks an eyebrow and removes his glasses and puts them in his jacket
“Huh. There’s somethin’ you dont see every day.”

Shay dug into her pocket and gave TC the five she had been holding on to.
“I guess they have a weird rat protection racket going on.”
Shay leaned over in Royce’s direction.
“I guess your right, it doesn’t matter what your past is, I’m still going to hate your clean shiny guts. But Pops Banion says we have to work together and get along, so welcome to the family, little brother.”
Shay slyly smiled at Royce before quickly returned her gaze to the commotion and to TC.
“Think we should let this play out or intervene and see for fuck’s sake is the matter?”

Tinny: “Nevermind about that fiver, Shay. Looks like old boy don’t want no charity to begin with…he ain’t ours, and he doesn’t know yet that he doesn’t belong here.”

Tinny eyes the dirty man. Still sitting in the booth he says: “[the name of shop owner] don’t pay out to bums of your like, old man. Why don’t you let loose of that animal in the alley before you get her dirty. Let yourself loose while you’re at it. [Shop owner’s] bat is the better end of the deal you’re about to buy into. I wanted to be nicer about this since we’re brothers, but you proved yourself no brother of mine. Fuck off before you eat that wooden flag…or worse.”

Tc turns back to Shay. “Hope he gets the point. If not, we see what happens. Nothing else, we see him out ourselves and watch who he goes and cries to. Chances are, he ain’t doing his own work here.”

The owner practically screeches at the sight of the rat, “Get that filthy, fucking thing outta my fucking shop!” He punctuates the demand by swinging the bat wildly.

The hobo leans backwards, readily avoiding the swing, then rights his posture and raises his hand, crushing the rat into a bloody explosion. The owner swings again, this time aiming for the hobos face. In a practiced and smooth motion, the hobo raises his blood soaked hand and catches the bat in mid-swing. He deftly wrenches it from the owner’s hand.

The hobo reaches out with his other hand and seizes the owner by the throat, dragging him forward, “You got no idea who yer fuckin with, you filthy fuckin wop. I ain’t scared a no necros, they got shit on me.”

The hobo peels back his hoodie, revealing a hideously twisted face. The cheeks are puckered, but loose skin droops freely from them. His mouth is disproportionately large considering the constrained width of his cheeks. His jawline is soft, making the overall effect of the lower half of his face seem an inverted cone. Above his sharpened nose, his eyes sit too far apart in a too wide brow, causing his eyes to appear crossed by the act of looking forward.

“So why don’t ya fucking give us a bit of charity before we’re the new poster boy fer Little Italy?”

The Owner’s head turns towards the trio, his eyes pleading. “I don’t know who you think has my back, but you got it wrong freak.”

Tinny: “Wyrmbeast. Damn it…” he looks to Shay and Roy. “Didn’t want this, but now we know. Duty calls, Garou. Get him into the building and keep him here. He doesn’t leave.”

Tinny stands up out of his seat and yells to the wrinkly beastman “you’ve got a lot of nerve showing that ugly mug around. Doc must have been real surprised when you came squirting outta the wrong hole. Why don’t you put that man down nicelike and come have words with us here, eh? I have a feeling we’re more your speed.”

[Shift to glabro. Roll for me? Still need my program. ><]

Shay grabs her glass and looks to TC.
“I think it’s time we made a little noise and scare this filth off.”
She slipped under the table from her seat. Shay empties her glass quietly on the floor and uses Blur of the Milky eye.

(Stealth Manipulation 5d10 8,10,3, 8, 2 = 3 success)

Ratman: Pool: 3 + 2 + 0 = 15 Initiative.
Tinny: Pool: 3 + 4 + 7 = 14 Initiative.
Royce 3 + 3 + 6 = 12 initiative

Royce stands up and eyes the situation over then points at the rat man
“Best get yer hands offa my friend afore I put a hurtin’ on ya.”
Royce makes a show of cracking his knuckles and looking intimidating
" ’less of course you want something like that, your face looks like its already prepared for whats coming next."
Royce begins walking forward with determination, opening and closing a fist.

Shayanna seemingly disappears, sloping right under the radar of everyone in the room, skirting the edge of the booths, approaching the interlocked duo. A step behind, Royce cracks his knuckles, advancing. Behind him, The Tin Can Kid shirks the latter half of his name, becoming impressively large, and filling in the scruffy facial hair that he’s been nursing.

None of this draws the attention of I Squish Rats.

Rather, he draws his lips back against ragged teeth, the hanging skin flaps wobbling like a cartoon hound, and squints his eyes, rendering a high pitched chittering whistle that quickly rises beyond audible decibles (though Tinny, adopting a more lupine form, hears more of the range of this whistle than the others).

The owner’s eyes water as the Ratman drops him, and the baseball bat.

“Now you’re gonna see who you’re fucking with, greaser. You’re gonna be begging me and offering me tips in no time.

[Initiative Order: Shayanna 17, Ratman 15, Tinny 14, Royce 12.]

(OoC: Shay is going to sneak behind the rat wielding psycho. I don’t know what the sneaking roll is, I am going to assume Dex+Stealth. If not you can make the different roll for me.))
(( Dex 3+ Stealth 3 = 8[d10]5[d10]9[d10]8[d10]2[d10]+10[d10] ))
Shay slips under the cover of Blur of the Milky Eye and sneaks up behind “Rat Man” and waits for Roy and TC to act, so that she make take the element of surprise on the man.

IC: tinny attempts to retrieve the shop owner and place him in a nearby booth for safe keeping in case things get nasty. This action is dependant upon rat man’s action (obviously TC ain’t gonna try dragging a man while he himself is being attacked).

Royce steps on the baseball bat, rolling it back behind himself, then crouching down to pick it up, not taking his focus off the rat man. As he stands up, he keeps the baseball bat at his side, ready to move it if necessary, but now more curious about what it is he is looking at. His initial impression of an ugly man is fading into a cloud of confusion, sure he is no longer human, but to think that there may be things that dont even look human, that just seems odd.

“I dont know where you crawled out of, but I think your welcome here has worn thin.” Royce tightens his grip on the bat. “And i think if things are going to get as ugly as your mug, we should take it outside, maybe out back where passer bys wont lose their appetite from that rectum you call a face.”

Royce returns his smile to his face, now feeling a short rush of adrenaline pulsing through his body, his eyes sparkle with excitement.

Tinny: “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Roy. There’s a lot of eyeballs on the other side of that door, and I don’t want to deal with that backlash. Let’s keep this contained.”

The hideous man giggles and slips his hands into his pockets, rocking on his heels.

As Tinny steps in on behalf of the owner, the stranger looks patently surprised. He withdraws his hands from his pockets and if further surprised to find Royce claiming the bat. Up close, his skin is pocked and pale, the undersides of his cheeks, chin, jaw, and even proceeding into his neck are covered in what look like scabs.

Three skin of his cheeks is do stretched out, it looks like dog lips hanging off his face. When he looks to the boys in surprise, the jiggle almost comically, but, ultimately, in a wholely disgusting manner. His nose is sharp and long, the kind of nose that would justify the nickname beak. His eyes are wide-set, the irises septic blackand rimmed with virulent cracked veins. Wide-set here means there’s almost two inches between them, and his skull is sized to match. Crust accumulates at the corners of both eyes, yellow and grimy.

He smells like trash, which is likely attributable to the gunk encrusted on his coat and shoes and hands. He grins malevolently at, first, Tinny, then Royce, then, disconcertingly, at both at once, each with a separate eye. He leaves one eye locked on Royce and allows the other to break its gaze from Tinny and slowly come to beat on Royce as well, specifically the bat.

“Not a good night to play hero kids. You probably want to scoot the fuck out of here, pronto. Go see a harry potter or something.”

He cocks his head to the side.

“Do you hear that? Sounds like I got a lot of attention.”

The Garou do hear something, something almost like static.

as Shayanna continues to observe the situation from her stealth, she notices three large rats trundling out of the kitchen. She notices a brown rat perched on the host’s greeting stand, and here’s soft scrabbling behind her, which is revealed to be several rats pawing at the glass.

Shay raises the glass to Ratman’s head and brings it down on him in full force, breaking it over his head.

(OoC: Breaking Blur and attacking, I don’t know the weapon roll on a glass, so please roll for me.)

“He’s calling a mess of rats here!”
Shay blurts out as almost a reaction as she attacks.

Royce turns slightly to Tinny, keeping his eyes on rat man. He attempts to give direction to him, subtlely gesturing for him (Tinny) to go high at the rat mans torso while he (Royce) goes low, following that with a quick motion of himself leading the attack

OOC: this will be a subterfuge roll i think, which with Dex or Man it will be a dice pool of 5 (Sub 2 + Dex/Man 3)

[Tinny attempts to comply with Roy’s instruction, depending upon ratman’s action (since he has the init advantage)]

OOC: I’m not going to bother with the subterfuge roll, Initiative Order is Shayanna, Ratman, Tinny, Royce. Before any of the subtle head nodding happens, Shayanna attacks Ratman with a glass.

Royce looks to Tinny, circling slightly. He’d really like to hit this guy high-low, but he and Tinny aren’t quite in position to make that work out, but if he can scoot over another foot or two they can probably pull it off. He starts nodding his head at Tinny, making small gestures, hoping that on the peripheral of Ratman’s vision, they’ll go unnoticed. Then Shayanna provides all the distraction he could have needed as she seemingly appears from nowhere behind the Ratman, something made of glass against his neck. She starts yelling something about rats as fragmented glass explodes everywhere from the glass Shay struck him with. He turns and wildly swings his arm out in a haymaker style assault. His forearm catches Shayanna in the chest like a piledriver, blasting the wind out of her momentarily.
As Ratman and Shay both try to regain their balance, Royce sees his opportunity and rushes forward, forced to approach from the side. On cue, Tinny charges as well. Royce swings the baseball bat for the Ratman’s leg, striking just above the kneecap with a surprisingly loud ‘whumph" only an instant before Tinny flies through the air, colliding with the Ratman’s back, flipping him off his feet, and sending both men crashing into the corner of the greeting area.
Continue.

[[Shay: To Hit: 5 vs. -2 difficulty for surprise attack: 6055=4 sux. Str+1+3ex sux= 7D: 6785440= 4raw vs. Soak 4:9835= 2soak. 2 bashing damage. Your target reduces post-soak bashing damage by half due something specific to his nature. He takes 1B.
You and he are also exposed to 1L as your strike effectively grinds glass against your hand and his back.
Shay soak 2:22=0 soak. Take 1 lethal.
Ratman soak 4:0719=2 soak. No damage.

Ratman: TH:5 vs. 2 difficulty for being surprised: 00475=2 sux. Str1+1ex sux= 9D: 04395885= 4raw vs. Soak 2:97= 2soak: Shayanna takes 2 bashing damage.

Tinny: Delays his action to allow Royce to go first.

Royce: Melee attack at the legs. TH:3+1: 4 vs. Standard difficulty: 3664=2 sux. Str+2+1ex sux=5D: 80124= 1raw vs. Soak 2: 81= 0soak. He reduces post-soak damage by half, which goes in Storyteller’s favor, so no damage.

Tinny: Tackle: Dex/Ath, Dif. 6 opposed: TC: 3+1+1 for Royce’s attack: 5:89729= 4 sux vs. 3:044: 1 sux. The Ratman is tackled. Tackle inflicts Str Bashing D: 4+2ex sux:

611566= 1raw vs. Soak2: 41= 0soak. He reduces post-soak damage by half, which goes in the Storyteller’s favor, so no damage, but he’s down.]]

As Tinny drives Ratman to the ground, the group hears sudden and intense screaming from outside the restaurant, followed by the sounds of a panicked crowd fleeing, accompanied by the sounds of outraged traffic.

As The Kid begins to right himself from the tackle, he notices that where he and Ratman have landed is not wholely empty: a fat black rat has backed into the corner, hissing. Royce hears the same sound, and turns to find that the group has been surrounded by rats, rats who look none too friendly.

[Tinnys next action will be to attempt to silence the wyrmbeast by crushing its jaw. He believes that this may negatively effect Ratman’s communication with what appear to be summoned rats. Apologies, but without stable cell internet access, I cannot include the rolls, as it normally will not load OP. If you could copy/paste my character sheet (raw text, NOT as an attachment!) into a separate email to me, that’d help me out a ton. Emails do not give me as much hassle as web browsing]

Shay falls back with the punch and grabs onto her right hand as it starts to bleed out. She sees that she didn’t do much to Ratman and looks very upset at the fact.
“What the fuck are you made of, lead?!”
Shay decides it’s time to get the hell out of the way as she tucks and rolls.

( Dodge 3 Dex 3 = 3,1,4,7,8,2)

(On his action) Royce tosses the bat to the suddenly there Shay, “Try with this instead” and turns his attention to the gathering rats, and looks around for the best way to deal with them. He takes off his coat and unbuckles his belt, snapping it quickly from around his waist and shifts to Glabro (Stamina 2, Primal Urge 1). He wraps the coat around his now grown forearm and arms himself with the belt, buckle out.

OOC: if the roll fails, he will get a frustrated and spend a rage to shift

Shayanna hops backwards, musing the cut palm of her hand. As she watches Tinny and the Ratman crashing about in the corner, she hears a keening shriek, and notices the rats that have gathered resting their heads back and screaming in unison.

The Ratman shoves The Kid off of him, momentarily buying himself breathing room, he locks hateful eyes on Tinny and bares his crooked teeth, two of them, asymmetrically placed, longer and sharper than the rest. Canny does the sensible thing, “Shut the hell up”, he mutters, as he draws up his foot and stomps the Ratman in the face. The force of the stomp makes a sickening pop as the things jaw dislocates.

Roy finds himself standing next to a wary Shay, thee lot of them surrounded by screaming rats. He presses the bat into her hands, then quickly begins to disrobe, tearing off a pair of belt loops and poping the zipper of his jacket getting them off. As he grows in size, his remaining clothes bulge under the strain of compensating him, but do not give.

He eyes the still growing swarm, having developed from a handful, to a dozen, to what may now be hundreds of rats.

Outside, the commotion of traffic grows more frantic as people seem to be stampeding, and traffic sounds discontent, bleating their dissatisfaction with a cacophony of horns.

[Shay: Per Tonya’s roll, she has 1 sux for dodge, which went unused.
Ratty: Attempts to push Tinny off of him, contested Strength. R: 4: 9333+2 bonus sux = 3 sux vs. Kid: 4:5074= 2 sux. The one sux advantage is enough to get some breathing room, but not enough to disable or hinder Tin Can.
Tinny: Dex+Brawl: 4: 0925= 2 sux. D: 4+1+1: 6:770835= 4 raw vs. 4 soak:9154= 0 soak. Bashing damage is reduced by half for 2b.
Royce: 894=2 sux. Glabro achieved.]

[next action, tinny continues pressing down with foot on the face and neck, holding RM from action, and buying his packmates time to get to this corner and finish him. Not sure if you want to treat this as brawl or contested str for grapple, but I do intend on pressing until my grimy shoe touches the floor behind ratman’s neck.]

[Facegrind: dex+brawl4=1,6,0,6 (2 sux at dif6); or Grapple: str4= 6,2,3,6 (2sux). All dependant on Ratman’s turn. If he gets to his feet in his turn, use grapple to buy time]

Shay takes the bat and looks to a group of rats and begins to start swinging wildly at a mass of rats.
“Rat forgive me.”
She says under her breath as she swings the bat.

( Straight str since I have no melee. 9, 10, 6 )

Royce looks to the growing mass of rats and then back to the rat man on the ground, then to the people outside, sighing shortly. He then mutters lightly over his shoulder to Shay “What i wouldnt give for a full wall here.” He looks back and forth shortly, then begins slowly shuffling sideways closer to the rat man.
“Oy, rat-face! Your friends are creepin’ me out, Call ’em off!”
He keeps fist up with the belt in hand and raises the coat arm as a shield, readying to strike or deflect any rat that gets any ideas. he mutters more under his breathe
“God, i want ta snap these morsels up scatter them like leaves.” His jaw grinds back and forth.

Royce looks to the growing mass of rats and then back to the rat man on the ground, then to the people outside, sighing shortly. He then mutters lightly over his shoulder to Shay “What i wouldnt give for a full wall here.” He looks back and forth shortly, then begins slowly shuffling sideways closer to the rat man.
“Oy, rat-face! Your friends are creepin’ me out, Call ’em off!”
He keeps fist up with the belt in hand and raises the coat arm as a shield, readying to strike or deflect any rat that gets any ideas. he mutters more under his breathe
“God, i want ta snap these morsels up, scatter ’em like leaves on the ground.” His jaw grinds back and forth.

As the rats scream at the ceiling, Shayanna has had enough. She swings the baseball bat, smashing through three big ones, sending them flying into the wall, smacking dully, and dropping to the floor, motionless. As one the rats stop screaming, turning a unified gaze on Shayanna, and swarm. Within a second she is covered, head to toe, in squirming, biting, clawing, shrieking rats. They leap with the grace of a prey beast, but towards danger, rather than away. Though her clothing prevents many of them from making direct contact, several manage to capably bite thru her shirt, and one sinks his teeth so deeply into the meat between neck and shoulder, that in Shay’s sudden reaction, he clings only by the strength of his jaws.

In the corner, Tinny watches in amazement as the Ratman’s dislocated jaw slides back into place, allowing him to lash out at Tinny, “Oh you done goofed, bitch.”

He drives his foot into the Kid’s knee cap with enough force to smash a cinder block, but the added muscle of glabro, combined with the Kid’s natural toughness, allows him to shrug it off. He responds with another stomp to the face, this one feeling like a meteor all the way down, and met with a satisfying wet smash, which is only amplified by its coincidence with the silence of the rats in the momentbefore they pounce on Shau.

As he draws his foot back, he’s shocked to discover that what felt like it should have killed the man, and what indeed drove the man back into the plaster of the wall, has also failed to draw any blood, only leaving crooked the man’s already wretched nose. The Ratman looks up at Tinny, smiling, “You starting to get the pattern?” Tinny is, indeed starting to get the pattern, and if he can’t break this freak’s face, he’s damn well going to break the pattern. He feels his slightly enlarged canines and incisors grinding apart as he bares them at the fallen hobo.

Royce watches all of this unfolding, his request to the Ratman to call of the swarm dying in his throat as he watches the Kid kick the fallen man with such force that even Royce expects to see the man’s face collapsed, fully supported by the way thee kick forces the wall behind the man to crumble inwards, accommodating his frame in sagging plaster. He los out the window and sees the tell tale sight of a phone pointed in at Tinny and the man. Then, from behind himself, he hears Shayanna scream.

[Shay: Per her own roll.
Swarm: inflicts 2 raw lethal damage per turn of exposure. Shay’s soak is 2: 62= 1. Shay takes 1L. As long ass you are swarmed, you must make a frenzy check at the beginning of each of your turns. As a reminder, you roll your permanent Rage pool, which I am happy to do on you behalf if you would like. This time the difficulty is 6 (it’s a waning gibbous moon), and you do not start with any bonus dice. Every turn that you are subjected to the swarm, you gain 1 bonus die. If you frenzy, you may spend a willpower to suppress the frenzy. If you do not, it will be a fox frenzy.

Ratman: heals 1 level, bringing him to a -1 wound penalty. He tries to kick Tinny. He has -1 for wounds and -1 for being down.
2:95= 1 sux. Damage is 4+1-1:7713+2= 3 raw vs. 5: 67596= 4 soak.

Tinny: kick per your roll, 2 sux. D: 4+1+1:6:098746= 5 raw vs. 4 soak: 3765= 2 soak. 3b, reduced by half, trounced in gm’s favor = 1b taken. Being taunted calls for a rage roll. No modifier, so it’s impossible to frenzy, but 053= 1 sux, which means noticeable anger.

Royce: Full defense.]

Tinny struggles to keep himself in check, but lashes out at Royce in his anger. “If you’re going to just stand there like an idiot, make yourself useful and hit the lights before that gawker out there gets this shit on YouTube!” Tinny is thankful that he’s shifted to glabro, but the damage is done. The Father won’t give a damn if he’s recognizable or not. This stuff needs to keep contained.

[TC waits for Roy to do as bidden, then continues in his quest to liquefy his opponent. Spend 1 rage to shift to hispo for fang vs fang action. Bite Dex+Brawl=5 0,7,7,5,3 (3Sux)—- NOTE: Tinny will not shift unless the lights go out. If they are not put out, his bite is instead: 3,5,4,1 (uh ohhhh)]

Royce jumps to the light switch, snapping it off and flinging his coat at the blinds, hoping to close them with it. Then moves to Tinny, looping the belt through the buckle as a makeshift noose.
“Lets shut this guy up and see if his friends do the same!”

Tinny: “WAKE UP KID!!! Drop the belt and use what Gaia gave you! This thing ain’t gonna [garbled words as Tinny’s mouth changes shape]…” Roy understands that tinny means the wyrmbeast ain’t gonna wear a leash like a nice puppy, and even if it did, the leash wouldn’t keep it down. Claws and jaws, kid. Claws and jaws.

(Shay: Frenzy roll : Rage is 2 = 6,8 )

“Fuck! These little shits hurt!”
Shay yells out. She drops down and begins to roll to get the rats off of her, hoping that some of her body way may crush a few.

(Dodge + Str for the stop, drop and roll 3+3 = 9, 8, 3, 2, 3, 8 I don’t know if it’s the right roll. :3 )

Shay: Dex 3 + Ath 2 -1 = 8, 9, 2, 3)

Royce begins moving to the other side of the rat man, reaching out for his head or shoulder, yanking back and looping the belt around his head, hoping to catch the throat. (Str 4 + Brawl 1 for a grapple i presume, also, i will spend a Willpower point, i would really rather succeed)

OOC: as the next action depends on success or failure, i will make 2 responses.

option 1 (success) Royce tightens the belt around his neck and begins dragging him backward, preferably somewhat sprawling on the floor, hoping to choke the breath out of him and call off his rats, or at least create a distraction. either way, his squishy stomach should be tantalizingly available.
option 2 (failure) as the belt misses its mark, Royce begins to slam his elbow into the back of rat mans head then attempts to bring him to the ground, belly up.

Shay throws herself to the ground, driving her shoulders and back down hard. She feels several rats squirm beneath her, one clearly squeezing it from beneath, one bunching in the small of her back, and from two distinct places, a satisfying crunch. As she begins to roll, the rats quickly release their grip on her, fleeing.

Meanwhile, as quickly as the rays are abandoning the combat, so too is their summoner. Once again, he watches bones in the freak’s face rearranging, he takes a step back, barking out instructions to Royce, feeling his flesh roiling, the murderous monster inside howling for release.

And in the moment that TC is choking back his rage, the Ratman curls forward, plants his feet, and springs up and backwards, scraping across the wall before exploding out the window. Like the blows the Ratman inflicted upon the pack, this act is fueled by strength far beyond the capacity of his frame. The plaster wall is scarred by a deep gouge created by his passage, tracking the trajectory of his escape. His leap easily demolishes the glass of the window, and handily rends away a dry-rotted window frame, but loses momentum and integrity when he hits the woman who’d been taking the event on her iPhone. His body clangs against a light pole, depositing him on the sidewalk, half on his feet, half on his head.

[Shay: 2 sux per Tonya’s roll. Dam will be 3+1+1-1: 4:9484= 2 sux.
Ratman: Str/Ath to jump out the window: 4+2-1: 5:66483+2= 5 sux.

Collin and Andy may revise TC and Royce’s actions.]

Shay: (Ooc: Shift roll Stam 2 – 1 = 9 )

Shay gets up beginning to shift to her Glabro form.
“Move, we have to go after him! I’m going to fucking kill him!”
Shay barks out as she pushes herself out the door

Tinny checks himself and starts the normal gears of his mind turning. They aren’t going to catch the Ratman and kill him now with all these people around. He gives Shay a look, then turns to shout out the window. “You tell Fat Tony to keep his filthy fuckin’ hands out of my uncle’s business! If he wants to collect protection money, he’s gotta get through me and my family first!” TC shakes his fist out the window for emphasis.

He looks back to Shay and mumbles quietly “get to the bathroom and drag his ass (pointing at Roy) into the umbra. I’ll follow in a minute. If you want that freak’s head, that’s the way. Follow him under Luna’s light. Go.”

(If Shay makes it out of the door before tinny gets all of that out, he switches plans and decides to drag Roy into the bathroom and umbra himself and follows Shay in pursuit of the Ratman)

Royce looks back and forth between Shay and TC

“What directly the fuck was that?!”

as he is dragged to the bathroom, he looks back over his shoulder at the front of the building, hopefully to a vacant space where no one is looking at him. Then shakes loose, grabs his coat and moves to the bathroom, shrinking back to homid in the process.

“I hope there’s a fine explanation for what is going on here.”

Shay throws herself to the ground, driving her shoulders and back down hard. She feels several rats squirm beneath her, one clearly squeezing it from beneath, one bunching in the small of her back, and from two distinct places, a satisfying crunch. As she begins to roll, the rats quickly release their grip on her, fleeing.

Meanwhile, as quickly as the rays are abandoning the combat, so too is their summoner. Once again, he watches bones in the freak’s face rearranging, he takes a step back, barking out instructions to Royce, feeling his flesh roiling, the murderous monster inside howling for release.

And in the moment that TC is choking back his rage, the Ratman curls forward, plants his feet, and springs up and backwards, scraping across the wall before exploding out the window. Like the blows the Ratman inflicted upon the pack, this act is fueled by strength far beyond the capacity of his frame. The plaster wall is scarred by a deep gouge created by his passage, tracking the trajectory of his escape. His leap easily demolishes the glass of the window, and handily rends away a dry-rotted window frame, but loses momentum and integrity when he hits the woman who’d been taking the event on her iPhone. His body clangs against a light pole, depositing him on the sidewalk, half on his feet, half on his head.

Tinny checks himself and starts the normal gears of his mind turning. They aren’t going to catch the Ratman and kill him now with all these people around. He gives Shay a look, then turns to shout out the window. “You tell Fat Tony to keep his filthy fuckin’ hands out of my uncle’s business! If he wants to collect protection money, he’s gotta get through me and my family first!” TC shakes his fist out the window for emphasis.

He looks back to Shay and mumbles quietly “get to the bathroom and drag his ass (pointing at Roy) into the umbra. I’ll follow in a minute. If you want that freak’s head, that’s the way. Follow him under Luna’s light. Go.”

Royce looks back and forth between Shay and TC

“What directly the fuck was that?!”

as he is dragged to the bathroom, he looks back over his shoulder at the front of the building, hopefully to a vacant space where no one is looking at him. Then shakes loose, grabs his coat and moves to the bathroom, shrinking back to homid in the process.

“I hope there’s a fine explanation for what is going on here.”

Shay gathers her wits, lying on the floor, but feels the pinch of small claws as rats begin springing off of her, flooding away. Apparently, in the absence of the Ratman, their desire to exact revenge for the baseball bat strike has waned significantly. Though still seething, the abandonment of the vermin allows her to begin to grab her wits more fully, and as she lies on the floor, breathing, the boys pass her by, declaring they’re headed for the Umbra. As declared, they barge into the door marked by the standard US symbol for “men’s room”, and slam the door behind them, ensuring that the pneumatic closing mechanism does not leave them exposed to spectators. They find an obliging full wall mirror available for their use.

Continue.
[Shay: 2 sux per Tonya’s roll. Dam will be 3+1+1-1: 4:9484= 2 sux.
Ratman: Str/Ath to jump out the window: 4+2-1: 5:66483+2= 5 sux.

Tinny/Royce spend this round’s actions in movement.]

Shay begins to shift to Glabro (2,9) and picks herself up. She starts to pick the remaining glass out of her hand with her teeth as she calms down. Shay decides to track Ratman.
(Using Blur again, Manip 2 Stealth 3 = 3 10 8 9 2 )

Shay, still more than a little pissed about being jumped by a rapidly fleeing swarm if rats, rises to her feet while allowing her body one step towards the murder form it so desperately desires. Her normally baggy layers would perhaps be alluringly tight against her frame, if the same weren’t now knotted with muscle and extraneous body hair.

She bites a piece off broken bottle protruding from her hand, and rips it loose. Quickly, she tracks the course of damage, watching the Ratman gain his feet in the midst of a panicing crowd. He takes a few uncertain steps, then breaks down the street, shoving people aside easily. Shayanna notices a sobbing young woman heaped beside a light pole, clutching a cell phone.

And just like that, no eyes focus on Shayanna.

Meanwhile, Royce and Tinny stand in the restroom, gazing at the long mirror.

“You know how to do this, right?” TCK asks.

“Yeah,” replies Royce, “But ne’er in the city before.”

Tinny nods, “Same principles, same rules, just push harder.”

And like that, Tinny pushes into the Gauntlet. He feels the heavy webs of the weaver’s minions clashing against him and immediately knows he has made a mistake. The pattern webs cloy at him and restrain him. Holding him between the worlds, properly within neither. He pulls back, seeking a better route through.

Royce locks eyes with his own reflection, and then past and through it, and he feels himself driving through, and though the dive is shallow, he’s making it. But is it fast enough?

[Shay: you’re announcing multiple actions. You either need to split your dice pool, or blow a rage. I’m going to choose the rage option on your behalf due to the rat swarm. You are also successfully blurred.

Ratman: Flees: Dex + Ath: 5-1-1: 848= 2 sux for a head start.

Strong sideways here is difficulty 8.
Tinny3942: 1 sux: five minutes
Royce882: 2 sux: 30 seconds.

Tinny Ooc: spend 1 willpower for gnosis roll. 9,7,7,4 (+wp)
2sux.

Shay: Stealing the phone, dex 3 streetwise 3 = 5, 5, 6, 8, 10, 7 )
Shay sees the phone and swipes it.
Success: She quickly pockets the phone and turns to chase after Ratman.
Failure: “Fuck.” She utters and drops the woman’s hand quickly ducking into the crowd. (I’ll use the next round to hide.)

Royce closes his eyes and tries to find his way through the pattern webs of worlds, focusing harder on reaching the other side. As he moves through he begins to think about tracking the rat man down and prepares for a more lupine form.

OOC: I’ll path find through as well (8, 2, 9) 2 sux as well

Remembering the correlation between straight lines and the distance between two points, Shayanna leaps out the broken window, which the panicking crowd wholly disregards. The fallen woman with the phone is clutching her arm, limply holding the phone itself in the apparently injured arm. The lack of grip makes the act of taking the phone delightfully easy, much like the parting of candy from infants. However, as Shayanna plucks the phone, it startles the fallen woman, who locks eyes with her and screams loudly.

Shay curses under her breath and turns, jogging after the Ratman in the semi-wake he has created in the crowd.

In the Gauntlet, The Kid feels panic welling up inside as the Pattern Web crushes against him. He reels back slightly, and chokes down his panic, forcing himself to be calm, and in that momentary backing, he sees/feels a slip in the gauntlet, he drives through and finds himself in the twilit bathroom.

Moments later, he feels a ripple and sees an anti-illumination as Royce arrives. Both men have that feeling of having walked through a spider web, which they have, sad though silken threads cling to them, which they do not.

Royce looks to Tinny, “Not as easy here.”

The Kid nods, and the two men exit the restroom. The umbral reflection off the restaurant is a 1920’s speakeasy, though the spirits that inhabit it are standard commerce and weaver spirits dedicated to communication and technology. On the wall there’s an ephemeral Italian flag that ripples in a breeze that doesn’t exist.

Carved into the glass (wholly intact here in the Umbra) is a symbol that Tinny remembers being shown by Banion. It looks like a thick talon has roughly sketched a tall building, using crosslines to represent floors.

Or maybe it’s supposed to be railroad tracks.

Either way, he remembers the same sign tattooed on a young woman who occasionally volunteered at the shelter, a woman he knows to be Garou.

Daisy Rochester.

A Glass Walker.

Unfortunately, even through the window, the men realize they do not see either Shay or the Ratman.

[Shayanna: reflexive stamina to regen: 4: 6293= 2 sux. She regenerates 1 lethal health level. You are now back to the Bruised health level, which means no more wound penalties. Your action goes off as described.

However, this is the type of action that will dispel Blur of the Milky Eye. I fully respect the magnitude of the result of Tonya’s roll, and am applying it.

Ratman flees. 5: 70245= 2 sux. Total lead 4 sux.

TCK and Royce act per their rolls.]

Shayanna pockets the phone and turns to fight her way out of the crowd in full pursuit of Ratman.
“Sorry lady…” She mutters under her breath before breathing in to start her full on run.
(OoC: Starting the chase. I don’t know if there are any rolls associated with what I am doing, if you see any you can make them for me or inform me and I’ll make the rolls.)

Shayanna chases after The Ratman, disregarding the outraged cries of the young woman and crowd behind her. The iphone settles into her pocket, a little too tightly with the clothes stretched across her Glabro form, but securely enough. Despite being able to handily dislodge people on the sidewalk before him, the Ratman is making slow progress through the resistant crowd. Shayanna gains ground rapidly on him, exploiting the aisle that he’s leaving in his wake. She watches as he shoves a man in a suit so hard that he actually lifts into the air, toppling over adjacent walkers, and bounces onto the hood of a parked car. Apparently sick of the hassle of the sidewalk, the Ratman cuts down an alley.

An air of panic flutters through Shayanna as the disfigured assailant disappears from sight, around the corner of the building, somewhere down the alley. She reaches the mouth of the alley and looks down it, seeing nothing. However, the alley is long and dark, and lined with garbage cans, piles, and dumpsters, as well as a metal loading dock, and a few doors: all of which appear to be closed.

A block and a half, and an umbral wall behind her, Royce and TCK stand within the shadow of the Glass Walker kin’s restaurant. Royce is waiting for Tinny to take the lead, he’s hunted before, and he’s seen the suburban umbra, but he’s never put the two together. And this is so much more dense than what he’s used to it. He realizes that, like in so many other ways, the hunting lessons lent by his mother were given in kindness. She’d taken him out to forests where all these spider webs were only glazings around the camping grounds, and where the spirits were vibrant and natural, and somehow welcoming. Here in the city, there’s immediately the sense that he is trespassing and unwelcome. Even just pushing through the Gauntlet was so much harder. The homeless boy next to him seemed so confident only moments ago, and as he bolts out for the street, Royce decides to trust him again.

Tinny, on the other hand, thinks of this as the way the umbra is: as packed and unaccommodating as the City itself. The buildings alongside the street rise up into the air, some of them with old storefronts and thin, skeletal rises, as though weavers were still constructing the true height of the building. Out on the sidewalk, commerce spirits walk on tall legs down sidewalks that writhe with storefronts that vacillate products, fashions, and prices in an undulating wave of market. The street crawls with not only the commerce spirits, but with weaver spirits, and with a coursing, seemingly endless spirit known as the Flow: a spirit awakened simply by the course of pedestrians walking on the sidewalks. It’s compatriot, the Road controls the street, composed of a bizarre amalgam of horse-and-buggy, model-t, and more modern vehicles, looking like nothing so much as a great Palanquin. Overhead, tiny weaver spirits fly on invisible breezes via their silken parachutes, representing cell phone waves, occasionally attended by the small pulses of blue light showing that Blackberry has patroned them. Above even those communication spirits, raptor spirits, most reminiscent of seagulls, but with disturbingly pigeon-like cast to their skull, swoop down and eat the small weaverlings. Not for the first time, The Kid thanks Gaia that the Umbra doesn’t have 1 for 1 spirit representation.

Grandfather Banion once told him that Lord Blackberry, for example, first appeared simply as an uncommon strain of the airborne communication pattern spiders. For a time, Theurges even thought that the blue light was just a standard electricity spirit either catching a ride off of wireless internet connections, or possibly CB waves. But they watched and documented a spiritual evolution as more and more of these tiny spiders developed, especially in the downtown areas where Father Chicago kept court: the white collar business districts. Over the course of four years, these little blue weaverlings first became more and more prevalent, and then they plateaued and conglomerated, as Blackberry became a distinct spirit. Since then, while some Pattern spiders may carry its mark, Blackberry itself rules those invisible waves, which has kept the air somewhat clear. Grandfather Banion said that he knew a Glass Walker Theurge who was preaching that this was the new Wyld: evolving Weaver spirits. Banion was always quick to point out that he’s no philosopher, and he’s no expert – just point him at a spirit than needs killin’, no need to explain why – but he figured it probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world if pure Weaver spirits can get changed by the Wyld.

Tinny breaches the door and steps onto the sidewalk, where there is a feeling of oppression, as though he’s shoulder to shoulder with a dozen other people, though the nearest spirit is at least a foot and a half away. That Glass Walker that he had remembered, the one who had the same symbol tattooed on her back as is engraved in the glass of the window of this restaurant, Daisy, she called that feeling of being in a crowd the Miasma. She said it’s part of what the Flow does, it exudes the sensation of crowded streets. And while Tinny isn’t a huge fan of the Chicago Umbrascape, he knows that the Miasma won’t hurt him or slow him down. Wind whips through the air, silent but powerful, stirring the fur that grew when he took the Glabro form. Tinny is cursing himself for getting tangled up in the Gauntlet, he isn’t sure where the Freak went while he was in the bathroom, worse yet, he realizes that with the Gauntlet as thick as it is, peeking through is going to be next to impossible. Not for the first time, he wonders if wearing a suit is a worthwhile price to play to get the kind of toys he’s seen the Glass Walkers use, like the smartphone that Zylo used in Dekalb. He eventually found out that the Glass Walkers came up with a fetish that they lock into smartphones that let’s them do all sorts of spiritual stuff even in deep gauntlet, heavy Weaver zones. Like that phone, Banion told him that it let Zylo peek through the Gauntlet no matter how thick it was, and that the Digital spirit inside of it let him interact with technology wirelessly, sometimes even when there wasn’t any wireless connection to interact with.

Right now? Right now, Tinny is kind of thinking he might be willing to wear a black tie and jacket if it means having a gadget like that. Behind him, Royce steps onto the street, immediately and palpably discomfitted. Tinny isn’t exactly comfortable either, but Royce seems to be taking the Miasma poorly. Which makes sense, standing naked in the middle of a street isn’t really everybody’s cup of tea, and then feeling like strangers are pressed against you and brushing past you in an unending stream doesn’t work for most people, either. And then you put the two of them together? Tinny just hopes Roy keeps it together.

And then he sees what he was hoping for: a shimmer like moonlight reflecting off the eye of an animal: A Garou spirit. At other points on the sidewalk, he sees other glimmers, shimmers, and spectres that he knows represent other supernatural things. He doesn’t know what they mean yet, they’re all so different. Banion said there’s a lot of different stuff out there: as many different supernatural flesh creatures as their are different spirits in the Umbra, but he only sees one Garou. He thinks. And ahead of that shimmer, he sees something like a shadow turn down an alley a block away. He turns to yell at Royce, but sees the large red-furred man is attentive and waiting. They chase towards the glimmer that they think is Shayanna.

CONTINUE

[Shayanna: Pursue: Dex+Ath: 3: 602= 2 Sux.
Ratman: Flee: Dex+Ath: 4: 9134= 0 sux.
Ratman has a 2 sux lead on Shayanna.

Tinny: Perception + Alertness: 5 vs. Dif. 8: 90058= 4 sux.
Royce: reserve action.]

Tinny: “Hispo, Roy. It’s better for the hunt, and it’ll keep that waggling chickbait hidden away nicely.” He glances over his shoulder at Roy’s embarrassing nudity and grins, remembering his first umbral trip.“C’mon, kid. Time’s a-wasting”
Tinny begins galloping through the Miasma, trying to keep an eye on both the garou spirit and the kid behind him. He thanks Luna that he wasn’t born a Theurge, or he’d surely stand rapt at all the bizarre spirits that surrounded him. It is a hard fight even now, just being an inquisitive Philodox.
Mind on mission. Time to kill. Can’t wait ’til we pick up an Ahroun, so I can be the voice of dissent rather than the jumper at shadows.

[shift to hispo, chase]

“I can’t lose you now…” Shay says under her breath as she starts to run down the alley keeping her guard up and her eyes wide open, fear made her as alert as ever.

(OoC: Perception and Alertness for the roll to try and find him? Percept: 3 Alertness 2 = 8, 7, 8, 9, 10 ((Holy Shit. Andy saw it.)) )

Shayanna begins to run down the alley, but realizes that it’s futile. She feels that she’s seeing everything in this alley. She feels like Mother Luna has pierced through the gloom itself just for her, but there is no sign of the Ratman. What there are are nooks and crannies that are certainly Ratman sized. She breaks her run , realizing that it could easily land her in an ambush. Cautiously she proceeds, her muscles tensed, waiting for an attack, which, as of yet, does not come.

In the Umbra, Tinny barks his command and begins to head towards the shimmers and glimmers, and the alley they turned down. Roy stands dumbfounded, apparently overwhelmed by the intensity of the Chicago cityscape. He blinks at T.C.‘s instruction and begins the laborious transformation into the beastwolf. T.C. fluidly becomes the great destroyer, his strides growing monumentally long. He easily reaches the mouth of the alley, having to reel himself in to not overshoot what in the Umbra is a pitchblack maw. In the Umbra, the normally twilit luminescence is wholly compromised. But in Hispo, with access to the whole range of hearing and scent of a wolf, the alley is no mystery. T.C. sees the glimmer that he believes to be Shayanna, proceeding slowly forward, he sees beside her the darkling smear that he believes to have been the Ratman. He sees nearby a trash spirit. Fat and ravenous, it crouches in its own shambles, it’s form composed of newspaper clumping against a roiling sludge. It’s chestpiece is the plastic lid of a garbage can, and it’s head is assembled from cans and rotten food. As T.C. spies the creature, he instinctively growls, low and fierce.

Trash spirits are a mixed lot, mostly wyrm spirits, these days, often thriving on waste and excess. Once upon a time, according to Grandfather Banion, they were more friendly, back when cities were still young, and humans mostly farmed. In those days, a trash spirit was mostly the emotional attachment of humans to their ruined things. But not anymore. And in Chicago? This was almost certainly far more foe than friend.

[Shay per her roll.
Ratman = ???
TC: Shift 65789: Easily proceeds to Hispo
Royce: Shift: 1 sux. Shifting is initiated, but no form change has occurred.]

Royce shifts into hispo, but seems to pop around on his paws, never comfortable wherever he stands, and then tries to take off after TC, stopping short as another invisible presence brushes in front of him, he feels trapped and anxious. He bounds out into the street, backing back to the sidewalk as vehicles rush past him, and snarls.
“I dont like it here.” he growls to himself and looks around for where TC went, hoping to catch a glimmer of where another werewolf could go. As he looks around, he begins to wonder how buildings could be made of so much web, how strong those webs are and how easily they could be climbed. He pads faster in the direction of TC, trying to push whatever invisible force seems to pester him out of the way and keep going.

As TC turns down the alley, Royce rounds the corner, a dozen steps or so behind, still buffeted and frustrated, apparently the people being tossed from the ratman are filling the empty space he cleared like water in a bucket, and certainly there have to be some gawkers who want to see what just happened here. Royce snarls down the alley, the smells of trash and god knows what else flooding his senses and he finally sees what must be Shay and the rat man. He bolts to catch up with TC.

Royce shifts into hispo, but seems to pop around on his paws, never comfortable wherever he stands, and then tries to take off after TC, stopping short as another invisible presence brushes in front of him, he feels trapped and anxious. He bounds out into the street, backing back to the sidewalk as vehicles rush past him, and snarls.
“I dont like it here.” he growls to himself and looks around for where TC went, hoping to catch a glimmer of where another werewolf could go. As he looks around, he begins to wonder how buildings could be made of so much web, how strong those webs are and how easily they could be climbed. He pads faster in the direction of TC, trying to push whatever invisible force seems to pester him out of the way and keep going.

As TC turns down the alley, Royce rounds the corner, a dozen steps or so behind, still buffeted and frustrated, apparently the people being tossed from the ratman are filling the empty space he cleared like water in a bucket, and certainly there have to be some gawkers who want to see what just happened here. Royce snarls down the alley, the smells of trash and god knows what else flooding his senses and he finally sees what must be Shay and the rat man. He bolts to catch up with TC.

Shay: “Father Rat, I know you have my back on this, he can’t be one of your children. Luna, guide my eyes and lead my feet, I have to find this fucker.”
Shay says in a near chant. She looks down holes, nooks, and crannies as she tries to swallow her fear down.
This fuck shouldn’t make me this scared, in my own home.
“These are my fucking streets! Quit’cher hiding and face me or are you scared of some fucking little girl you fucking pussy!”
When all else fails, taunt.

(OoC: “Fuck” and all it’s variants is the word of the day.I am not sure if there is a roll or what it would be. Manipulation+ Subterfuge or Charisma + Imtimidation? I’m trying to draw him out.)

Tinny grumbles at the trash spirit, but offers no challenge. No need making this a bigger mess, especially with Shay out in the real world alone (and most likely being flanked by Ratman). Tinny is grumpy that Shay charged off alone after him, but the situation is what it is now, and nothing can be done (tinny had planned to send the others out of the restaurnt via the umbra to get ahead of ratman and ambush him while he played up the “protection racket” angle for the sake of the onlookers and chased ratty down an alley—he ain’t so keen on seeing little Shay play that role, though maybe her “weak” femininity will draw out ratty in a moment of overconfidence; TC just hopes he’ll be able to step sideways in time).

He sniffs the umbral air to make sure Roy is still behind him. He wishes he could sniff to find Ratman, to make sure the beast isn’t routing his packmate. He decides to give the trash spirit a wide berth for the moment. Maybe it will be taken care of later. He snuffs and growls and gives a little yip to let Roy know they will need to shift out soon to back up Shay. For now, TC is going to scout past the far mouth of the alley to see if he can put most of the area between himself and Shay, then return to the mouth and step sideways in the shadows of the alley. Hopefully this will give his group a tactical advantage (pincer) if the Ratman is still in there. He tries to communicate this to Roy.

…unless the trash spirit makes things difficult as he passes. If that is the case, well, that might be problematic.
T.C. edges past the trash spirit, which gibbers at him in the spirit tongue, its tone too alien to assign motive. It doesn’t advance on him, so Tinny hopes that means they’re fine. He looks back down the alley in time to see the Shayanna glimmer walk past the Ratman smear, and then in a fluid-but-too-slow movement, the smear pounces on the glimmer.

He hears Royce rounding the corner, and is already looking for a way back.

Shayanna begins thinking up jokes about ugly mothers, her fists clenching and unclenching, nails not quite claws digging into palms. She peaks around a dumpster when, from behind her, a sickeningly close voice responds, “Baby, I am Father Rat.”

It’s impossible, she walked past him, alert, attentive, he wasn’t there! And yet he is, and he’s grabbing her. His hands are too cold, not icy, but room temperature, like meat left on the counter. She senses his face at her shoulder, but she feels nothing – no breath. And she’s angry that she’s catching these little details while he’s grasping her with impossible strength.

[Ratman: Str/Ath to grapple: 6: 987667= 6+2 sux. vs. Shay: 5: 74327= 2 sux. Shay is grappled.]

Tinny howls for Roy to Step Sideways immediately.

[Sac another WP for 1 autosux. Dif 8. 9,4,2,5 +1= 2sux to shift out of umbra]

(Shay is going to shift to Chrinos, just going to spend the 1 rage for it and forgo the roll.)

The thought of this thing claiming to be father rat causes Shayanna’s body to twitch, for a half second she thinks about death before the anger washes over.
“You are certainly a motherfucker of a dreamer…”
While a snarl, Shay’s bones begin to pop and stretch as she begins to assume her Chrinos form.

Shay’s body shudders, ripples, seizes, and explodes, gaining half again her body mass in an instant. Her clothes do not take the transformation well. Neither does the Ratman, who now finds his grip on Shay awkward and outsized. Shay throws her arms out, easily breaking his already tenuous grasp, and let’s out a chuff of anger, dropping to all fours momentarily as she springs forward buying enough room to turn in place.

Collected waste water ripples at her passing, and she finds herself facing off with the Ratman.

For his part, the disfigured hobo takes the sudden metamorphosis very well. Oh, he’s clearly scared, but not panicked. He takes a step forward, hoisting a full garbage can over his head and throws it at Shayanna with all the inhuman strength he can muster. Shayanna raises her forearm, deflecting the garbage can like a pro-wrestling prop. Though it hurts, she knows that this pain will be gone as soon as it arrived.

Feeling his own fury welling, TCK gives against the gauntlet, metaphysically speaking. The going is harder without the mirror’s guidance, but he’s more prepared for the local web. Her makes a cleaner break out than in, but once again knows he’s going too slow.

Royce also steps sideways.

[Shay: rage to go crinos, str/ath to break grapple. Str:7: 9804337= 4 sux. Grapple broken.
Ratman: throw a trash can: str/ath: 4+2: 445825= 1+2 sux. Damage str-1+2: 5: 84775= 3 bashing vs. 5 soak: 6843= 2 soak. 1b.
Tinny: 2 sux = a thirty second sideways step.
Royce: step sideways: gno: 3: 379. As per tinny, 30 sec. journey.]

Shay: “I. Don’t. Like. You.” Shay seems to speak from her throat.
Shay digs her claws into the cement and with a snort she uses it to throw her body at Ratman to bring him to the ground.

Str 3+4 + Brawl 2 = 9d10 ( 4,10,7,9,4,6,6,7,3)

Ooc: I’ve set the precedent that stepping sideways is an extended action, so you and andy could roll gnosis again to increase travel speed. Neither of you botched, so it’s fair game.

Tinny: Okey doke. Here goes: 7,6,6,1. Botch. FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Shay flies forward with a grace belying her massive size. The hobo looks at her, rheumy eyes going wide.

“Fffffffffffuuuuuuuuuu”

And then he is nearly bisected by Shayanna’s well placed shoulder. She feels herself drive into his gut so far that his spine snaps against her. He flies off of her, slamming into the opposing wall, and falling, sickeningly limp.

Tinny sees a glimmer of light, probably Shayanna, and pushes harder, but he doesn’t move. The gauntlet has proven too thick here, and he can hear Father Banion’s chiding, already. Like in the bathroom, he tries pushing backwards, tries to find another way out, but this time he can’t find one.

On some level, he realizes it’s because he’s actually trying to walk away from the tangle, and stepping sideways isn’t walking. He realizes this is a spiritual act, and he’s trying to solve it with a physical response, and then it’s like something breaks and he isn’t moving at all: not physically, not spiritually.

And then he feels the gauntlet begin to vibrate. And twang.

[Damage on a tackle is strength. 7+5 ex sux. 12: 882665060728= 9 raw vs. 4 soak: 9115= 0 soak. Reduced by half to 4b.
Royce: 821= 0 sux. No progress.]

Shayanna’s eyes go wide, she felt bone break. She kept her gnarly claws on him as she gave him a quick look over, not sure if Ratman was living or dead.

Tinny tries to calm his mind and touch his spiritual side, despite the racing thoughts of his packmate facing an unknown enemy alone in the darkness. He hopes she can hold her own. And what of his fellow cub behind him? He has never been in the city umbrascape before. Hopefully he is having an easier time breaking through.

The Ratman lays, absolutely still, for a long second. Statue still. Still as a grave. He doesn’t move, he doesn’t breathe, and though his head faces away from her, Shay suspects he doesn’t blink.

And then he wracks, and shudders, a tremor and a seizure in his torso. Legs, splayed at an uncomfortable angle, do not follow this effort, but remain the very picture of stasis. And though the twitching has taken on a pattern that Shayanna recognizes as sobbing, he remains absolutely silent. Her breathing, inaudible over the nascent noisess of city life and traffic, cover all but the faintest sound of his long coat dragging across concrete in the frenzied motions.

And despite the breadth of his trembling, he draws not a breath. Shayanna begins to believe this the fabled death rattle, when his hands claw at the floor and lift his torso up, his legs still dead weight behind him. His head rears back screaming mouth wide open, and still perfectly silent. The sudden violence of the action startles Shay back. She’s all but convinced herself he was dead, and then… this. His eyes are jet black and bleeding, and a hand twisted into a clawed-grip lashes out to the side, fingertips making sharp snaps when they hit the concrete. With the one hand, it begins to drag itself away from Shayanna, its head still lashing about, silently screaming.

In the Umbra, Tinny is bringing himself under control, calming, centering. But it’s difficult, and it’s unproductive, because the calmer he gets, the more he realizes exactly how tangled he’s become. But, slowly, he thinks he begins to figure out how to unwrap himself. And then he feels the gauntlet around him begin to tremble.

And neither Shayanna, nor Tinny, knows what has yet become of Royce.

Shay shifts down from chrinos to her homid form. What she has done has completely shocked her, the thrill of the hunt to the capture and near kill was almost orgasmic. She stared at ratman’s twisted visage and had a sudden onset of morality. Who was this guy? Why was he doing what he was doing? Would he have taken her life as quickly as she was about to take his?
“Who are you?” Shay finally choked out. From terrible killing machine to small dirty teenage girl, her torn and tattered clothing gave her and even smaller appearance against the wall of the back alley.

Shayanna backs away as the wretch flees. She almost collapses out of her Crinos form, tattered clothes fluttering down around her, only barely covering her nudity. She watches the Ratman crawl, using one creaking and cracking claw to pull itself along, its legs remaining limp and useless behind it. The shudder in its chest comes in waves, and then a deep, hollow croak begins to rattle out of its mouth, as though its lungs are just now remembering their paces.

Behind Shayanna, Royce exits the Umbra, naked as the day he was born, he looks around, dumbfoundedly, then comes to stand beside Shayanna, his eyes slightly widening as the Ratman roadkill drags itself away. He looks to her for guidance. “Should we let it go?”

Meanwhile, very, very near, and yet impossibly far away, The Tin Can Kid finds that his renewed efforts only help him identify how very stuck he has become. There is some small progress, he feels, almost unnoticeable. It reminds him of time he spent on Washington beaches, burying his own hand in the sand, and slowly wiggling his fingers, at first not even displacing the smallest amount of sand, but through continued attempts, and always so excitingly minutely, he would feel the sand begin to let his fingers free until he could lift his hand up and out.

Except, on the beaches, it was jsut his hand, not his whole body, and on the beaches he was always reassured that a free hand would come and uncover the trapped hand. Here, he cannot help but feel painfully isolated. He hated to admit it, but even just a few months with regular human contact had grown on him. But then, there was that buzzing in the gauntlet, that shaking all around him.

Shayanna keeps her eyes on the shambling mass. recognizing Royce’s voice behind her. “It’s dying, I think. To kill it may just put it out of it’s misery. But I want to know who and what it is, who was it working for? All the questions that come with it.”
Shay gets up and reaches into her pocket, she pulls out a slightly busted up iPhone. “I’m going to show to this Pops, he’ll know more any either of us about this thing. I’ll trust you and TC, when the Kid comes around, to do the right thing on this dude, because I’m tried of seeing blood.” Shay pockets her phone and looks herself over, her clothing torn and ragged from her transformation. She lets out a sigh and heads for “home” or the shelter that Father Banion runs.

Royce begins to follow Shayanna out of the alley then stops, grabbing her by the shoulder. “Wait, so where is the Kid? And, uh, how exactly am I supposed to go anywhere like this, or you like that?” He gestures to their respective states of undress. Shayanna realizes that while he has some tatters of cloth about her, it hardly counts as being ‘dressed’.

At this moment, a young woman enters the alley at a sprint, a fully loaded backpack swinging haphazardly on her shoulder. She’s a slight young thing, with her hair a dyed, crayola yellow. She looks familiar to Shayanna, someone she’s seen around before, but Shay can’t quite lock it down. The woman stops and eyes the situation, looking disturbed.

“Weren’t there four of you?”

Then she sees number three of four: the crawling Ratman. The woman looks between Royce and Shay walking away from it, and it crawling away from them, then pushes past, unslinging the backpack. Shay and Royce turn in place, Shay opening her mouth to reply, but finding no words. She watches as this young woman smoothly grows into a larger, more animalistic form, her clothes growing along with her. Royce reaches out a hand in warning as the young woman pulls a souvenir-sized baseball bat out of the backpack and drops the pack off to the side, then cracks the round hilt of the bat off, leaving a jagged wooden edge. She jumps forward, covering the last few feet between herself and the roadkill, landing on its broken back, pinning it to the concrete, then draws the broken bat back and slams it down, impaling the Roadkill from behind. It shudders once and falls still. The young woman wordlessly begins rifling through the Ratman’s pockets, producing a cell phone. She turns, dragging the now impaled Roadkill by an arm, using a comically large free hand to manipulate the phone.

Meanwhile, in the Umbra, something tickles the back of Tinny’s neck.

Shay tilted her head at the whole scene.
“Can I help you?”
Shay all of a sudden felt annoyed with the woman.
“Do you know who or what he is?” Shay pointed to the now corpse on a stick the woman hauled.

In the “real” world, the young woman continues to drag the rat thing, her attention focused on the smart phone. She makes short work of bringing him to a dumpster. She stands then, her free hand still manipulating the phone at a high speed, and without breaking that concentration she speaks, never bothering to look at Shayanna or Royce.

“I don’t know who, but I know what. It’s a vampire, one of the Nosferatu ones. You know, like that old movie. Or that Willem Dafoe flick? They’re all ugly. But they’re s’posed to know better than to mess with our kin. Not sure what this one’s excuse was. Good thing he was the aggressor. Looks like you guys messed him up pretty good. Wasn’t there another one of you?”

The young woman’s thumb tapping slows, stops, adds a single intentional tap, and then she uses her elbow to flip up the lid of the dumpster. With an effort, she swings the Ratman’s body up through the air in a high arc, her grip arresting it at the apex, and adjusting its fall to land it in the dumpster. The phone in her hand chirps. She looks at it and laughs, then throws the phone into the dumpster after the Ratman. She closes the lid of the dumpster and wipes her hands on her pants, shifting back down to Homid, her clothes once again changing to match her shapeshift; and then walks up to Royce and Shayanna deliberately, extending her hand, smiling largely, her eyes bright, as though she hadn’t just imapled a man with a broken baseball bat.

As her eyes meet Shay’s, the voice, the mannerisms, the familiarity fall into place: she saw this girl at the home once or twice. Always dropping off supplies, and chatting with Bannion with a bit of familiarity. Bannion had introduced them once, but Shay had perhaps too quickly been dismissive of the introduction. This girl wore fancy, name-brand clothes, and was always playing with a phone and always had a bluetooth headset on. She basically reeked of all the excesses of wealth that Shayanna still found both enviable and angering. This was Daisy Rochester. She was a Glass Walker.

“Hi. I’m Daisy.”

At this moment, Royce yips and reaches down with both hands, covering himself. “Jebus H! Stupid Umbra stole my pants!”

Daisy blinks and giggles. “Oh calm down, we’re all cousins here. It isn’t anything I haven’t seen, and, honestly, it isn’t anything I’m looking at. But I can fetch yer clothes if you want. You want that, boy, you want me to fetch?” She turns her hand to Royce, smirking, then back to Shayanna.

Shayanna looks at the hand coolly, then slaps it as though giving her five.

“Shayanna. Nice to meet you. This is Royce. And yeah, we have a third, Tinny. He was with you Royce, where’d he go?”

Royce blinks and looks about, “I, uh, don’t know. I mean, he was with me when we came into the alley, and he was stepping through at the same time as me. Maybe he didn’t make it?”

  • * *

At that instant, The Tin Can Kid is beginning to make some progress. However, he’s found that in his tangling, he stands in the proverbial endless hallway. In reality, he just sees everything as a blur, feels as though he’s simultaneously two dimensional and infinitely large, feels as though he’s made of smoke and feels as though he’s the miasma and all of this while he’s also locked in the Glabro form. But he did, he knows he did, feel himself drawing closer to the physical world, but it’s so much further away than it ever was before. And there’s that tickling on the back of his neck, so much more distinct than anything else around him. A pressure, and it’s no longer just on the back of his neck, it’s on his head, it’s on his shoulder, and it’s on his hand. He can look down, though he can’t move his head, and he can see the Pattern spider there, now spinning pattern webs around him, seeking to lock him more tightly in place, seeking to seal him within the gauntlet. And there are spiders everywhere, and they’re all trying to do the same thing. And then he’s been bitten.

  • * *

Royce is turning in place as much as he can without exposing his buttocks to the women. Shayanna rolls her eyes at his modesty, she turns in place. “You probably dropped them in the bathroom, Royce, or at least whatever is left of them. I’ll get ’em.”

But as she begins to leave, Daisy calls out, “Ms. Shayanna? You, uh, you’re not much better off than Royce here. You, well, frankly, you look like a rape victim. Maybe you both hang out here for a minute? See if your friend shows up? I’m a bit bigger than you, but you should be able to wear some of my stuff pretty easily, and, maybe my uncle has something that’d fit Royce.”

Shayanna opens her mouth, instinctively wanting to reject the offer. She didn’t make it this far by accepting charity from rich, spoiled brats, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to make it a habit. Plus, who the hell does this chick think she is? Telling her she looks like a rape victim? Why? Why doesn’t she just look like she’s been in a fight? Why does she have to be the victim? And for that matter, where the hell does this condescending bitch get off thinking that she can just solve all of Shayanna’s problems? What, like she’s better than Shay? And she feels the red, roiling anger like a dragon writhing in her heart, feeling deprived of something, and wanting to lash out.

And while these thoughts race through her mind, Royce humbly accepts the offer, and Shayanna bites off her words. And the civility of Royce and Daisy reminds Shay that maybe, just maybe, that angry dragon isn’t the one to listen to. And so she nods, not looking at Daisy, and mutters out words of thanks.

Daisy all but skips out of the alleyway, turning in the direction of the restaurant. Royce crouches down by the dumpster, hiding himself from anyone who might peer too deeply down the alley. Shay arranges her rags to keep from accidentally revealing herself. She thinks about what she was told: the Ratman was a vampire? It figures, really. Bannion had mentioned that there were blooddrinkers in the city. Leeches he had called them. They’d been told to stay away from them. Said there was a truce, but instigators were always looking to tear it down. Banion even said that there had been a war, fifteen years ago, all out chaos on the streets as vampires and werewolves killed each other, using riots to mask their attacks. He even mentioned that there’d be ugly ones. But she hadn’t realized that ugly meant leper. And he hadn’t mentioned that they were children of Rat, or even that they would just claim to be children of Rat, or whatever.

Once again, like had been happening all too often since that night, that night that felt like it had happened a lifetime ago, like then, she felt that the world was just too big, and she was just too small. Banion said that Rat knew all about being small, he said it was something the Bone Gnawers liked: the small often escape the notice of the large, and that, he said, was freedom. But right now? Right now, small just meant it was easy to be stepped on.

  • * *

And no more than three feet to Shayanna’s metaphysical right, Tinny is on the verge of frenzy. He’s trying to wield his gnosis like a blade, he’s trying to cut through the gauntlet, but it isn’t working, at least not fast enough. He’s making progress, but his right arm has gone numb. It’s like ice from the elbow down. There’s gallons, no, oceans of panic washing over him. Is his arm numb because of venom? Are Pattern spiders poisonous? Or is it just the webbing they’re winding around his arm? Is it just too tight there? Or is it something more insidious? Are they unweaving him? Or reweaving him? Is that possible?

But somewhere in the panic, and perhaps because of the panic, he has found an icy resolve that matches the numbness of his right arm. He is duality, he is yin and yang. Part of him rages and rants and bites into every pattern spider that goes above his shoulder line; and part of him is the collection of calm that can only be found in Tibet. It’s like a ballet; he dances in place, turning, and by turns, he tosses down spiders, dashing them into spirit stuff, and getting closer to the physical world. By turns he is screaming at his friends to just reach out and pull him free, and howling and gargling around crushed pattern. He can almost taste that ephemeral whatever-it-is that makes him know he isn’t dreaming and that he isn’t walking in shadows, he can almost smell that nostalgic rot that is his signal that he walks in the world of man once again. He is so close. And by now, it isn’t just his right arm that is numb.

  • * *

Royce drums his fingers against the dumpster, having found a resonate patch that lets him tap out a rhythm. “So, is that what it’s like around here? Is this every night?”

Shayanna shakes her head, relishing the way that the concrete wall she’s leaning against scratches her skin. Whenever she shapeshifts, she feels a little itchy, but it’s an itch she can’t quite scratch. It’s like a mental itch. But the act of scratching helps. “No. I’ve never seen that before. I mean, we get into fights a lot. Seems like every week there’s a new something trying to kill us. But, really, once we got into Chicago proper, and got set up with Father Banion, things calmed down. We got into some trouble here and there, but it was just what would happen to any teenager that was exploring Chicago. And, really, I think this was the worst.”

Royce nods, reassured somewhat, “Guess I’ll have to buy some garlic. Or carry a rose. Or some silv… I guess no silver. But, I guess it doesn’t take ashwood to stake them. At least that part wasn’t true.”

And then the world explodes around them as a massive black wolf breaks through the very wall of reality, slamming into the dumpster hard enough to send it rolling, and knocking Royce over in the process. Shayanna groans, unwilling to enter another fight so soon, but readying herself none-the-less. The wolf, she realizes, is a crinos werewolf, and it is covered in spiders, bizarre spiders whose legs have too many joints, and whose eyes have too many facets, and, oh yeah, they’re too big. But even as the wolf rages in a circle, as though chasing it’s tail, and even as it throws itself bodily about, and reaches and swaps and bends and bites and kicks, the spiders seem to burst and disintegrate on their own. In one of its writhings, Shayanna recognizes the tuxedo-like pattern of the wolf’s fur, and she recognizes it as The Tin Can Kid.

The wolf then backs itself against the dumpster whimpering, shrinking down until it is glabro, and then it is Tinny, and he is in his normal human form, his body covered in vicious spider bites, his right arm and left leg both somewhat atrophied, and his entire countenance sallowed and pale. His body wracks with chills. Royce gets to his feet around the dumpster, and he and Shayanna come to comfort Tinny. They manage to ease him back up into his Glabro form, so that his body can enjoy its faster healing. Within only a few short minutes, Daisy returns, carrying four sets of clothes: a set of her own, fashionable and expensive, fit for Shayanna (though two sizes too large); a pair of blue jeans and a Chicago Bears t-shirt which she hands to Royce; and the other two are Tinny and Royce’s clothes, left on the floor of the bathroom. Tinny’s clothes remain as serviceable as ever, and while Royce’s are functional, they are too stretched for him to continue wearing them comfortably.

Ultimately, Daisy introduces the trio to her uncle, who owns the Italian Restaurant. He thanks them for helping to defend him and his from the marauder, and he provides them with fresh plates of food, piled high. Tinny is simultaneously ravenous and disgusted by the mere sight of food. He finds the wherewithall to eat his fill. Royce, similarly, has the type of appetite notoriously attributed to teenage boys, and he digs in with no hesitation. Even Shayanna suppresses her instinct to reject the charity, and takes part in the meal. Eventually Daisy and her uncle provide the trio with money for a cab and send them on their way. When the three return to Father Banion, they are privately and soundly dressed down for their poor judgment in picking a fight with a Vampire, and then praised for their performance in handling the same. Banion advises them to remember to show more caution, because in the future, there will be far less room for mistake.

And so the trio retire to their bedding, Royce staying in the shelter as the night is far too late to bother his local kin, the three of them staying up to compare notes and observations from their first encounter as a group, and their first confirmation that, indeed, there are more than just werewolves out in the City.

END PROLOGUE SCENE 4.

PS4

No Really, We're Sheep darkmonkey13