While studying the package waiting for her at the manor, Terin discovers an envelope that was delivered alongside it. The outside is simply labeled “Terin”, and inside is a single playing card: a jack of hearts. When further examination by scent and smell reveals no more clues, Terin opens the package to find a bottle of Gentleman Jack.
While Em and Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver demand to know who is delivering expensive bottles of whiskey, Terin excuses herself to make a quick phone call. She asks Barbie if “I owe you a thank you”, and they confirm plans to go for a ride the next day. She does explain to her packmates that Barbie is one of the Pilgrims of the Road who she spent a night with, but declines to answer any further questions.
The next day, the pack go about their patrols. Scent-of-Silver is approached by one of the Bone Gnawer kin – one of the teenagers who joined her while she burned the tree – to let her know someone named King is looking for her. Unsure whether she should be taking meetings with non-kinfolk on her own, Scent-of-Silver calls Terin to double check. When she gets no answer, however, she decides to forge ahead.
Scent-of-Silver goes back to where she first met the rat shifters to find someone waiting for her in the alley. It’s the man who tried to hit her with an aluminum bat. Despite that inauspicious introduction – and since he appears to be unarmed this time – she decides to stay to hear what he has to say.
He invites her to go for a hot dog. While they eat, he informs her “between you and me, I think rather something”. He goes on to say she should act as the mediator between the rats and wolves in the future, should her pack ever want to ask for help.
When Scent-of-Silver asks “how can I know if I can trust you”, King replies “never trust anyone in this life”. He does, however, suggest that Scent-of-Silver is the most likely of her packmates to see things his way. He tells her the first time they met was a test, which Scent-of-Silver passed while the others didn’t. When asked how many rat shifters there are in the City, King doesn’t give any specifics, saying instead “the underground is ours, the surface is yours”.
At the question of whether he’s really the king of all rats, he only laughs. “We’re anarchists. The strong survive. There are no rulers and no rules; I can do what I want when I want, as long as I can take care of myself”. Looking at Scent-of-Silver with a measuring gaze, King goes on to say “anarchy is about freedom. Do you believe in freedom, or do you do what your alpha tells you to?”
Without waiting for an answer, King invites her to come spend time with the rats. He says she’s welcome as long as she doesn’t bring any of her friends. On that note, he bids her a fond adieu.
Later that afternoon, Terin asks Sibyl’s-Feather to reach out to Micah Destefano – her father’s case worker – to see if she can get a sense of how things are coming for the parole hearing. She suspects Sibyl’s-Feather will have better luck than Terin, since Micah doesn’t appear to find her quite so terrifying.
While that conversation is going on, Em calls her birth mother. She wants to schedule a dinner with her mother’s new family in order to meet her half-brothers. Her mother sounds thrilled, and they arrange to get together the following Monday.
The next afternoon, Sibyl’s-Feather reports back to Terin that things are currently looking 70/30 in her father’s favour. Unwilling to trust those odds, Terin asks Em to go with her to visit Eddie – the guard who is scheduled to speak against her father’s release. Terin admits that she’s worried about keeping her temper in the face of a sadist who only wants to keep her father in jail so he can continue torturing him.
Sibyl’s-Feather asks to go as well, and is not impressed when Terin says “no”. After an increasingly strained discussion over the matter, Sibyl’s-Feather gets fed-up with her alpha’s stubbornness and leaves. Having seen the file the Silent Striders provided on Eddie, she goes to his home to wait for Terin to arrive.
Instead, Terin and Em wait until that evening and go to the bar where Eddie spends most of his time. Still not sure she can keep her temper – and unwilling to threaten or kill a human, no matter how much he might deserve it – Terin ends up leaving without speaking to the guard.
In the meantime, Scent-of-Silver explores the Warrens. She notices some repetitive markings in the graffiti, and realizes there are signs of rats everywhere. After closer study, however, she isn’t able to determine what any of the messages might mean.
The next day, Friday, is Terin’s father’s parole hearing. She dresses as non-threateningly as possible and goes on her own to speak on her father’s behalf. The hearing goes well, despite Eddie’s testimony that Sam Cabot has no business on the outside. In her closing remarks, the hearing chair tells Terin that her father either needs to stay with her or a halfway house. Terin assures everyone her father has a place in her apartment.
With only a few hours until her father is processed and released, Terin hurries back to her apartment to evict the homeless who have been using it for the past year. They take it reasonably well, soothed somewhat by Terin letting them take as much food on their way out as they wish.
Facing the detritus left behind by a year of squatters, Terin calls her pack to help her clean up. By 6pm, the apartment once more looks like a respectable home. Sam arrives, meets Em and Scent-of-Silver, and immediately asks how he can start helping the pack.
The conversation is fortunately cut short by the arrival of a few Pilgrims of the Road to welcome Sam back, as well as his parole officer to check in. It turns out that the parole officer is a “friend of the MC”, so there’s little threat of Sam caught breaking his parole. He is thrilled that this means he can be active in the MC again. Terin seems less pleased.
After talking with the Pilgrims of the Road, Sam lets Terin know that the MC wants to have a proper gathering the next night to welcome him back. Terin agrees that sounds like fun, and invites Em and Scent-of-Silver to join. They are both excited at the prospect of a party, and immediately start planning what to wear.
Later that night, Terin goes to visit Sibyl’s-Feather at her apartment. Despite the year that they spent as the only packmembers in the City, Terin realizes upon her arrival that she had never been to see Sibyl’s-Feather’s home. It is a beautiful condo on the top floor of the tallest residential building in the City, overflowing with books, papers, extreme-sports gear, and art.
The conversation goes well overall. Terin explains why she was unwilling to risk hurting Sibyl’s-Feather in case she lost her temper while talking to Eddie; and Sibyl’s-Feather counters that Terin was obviously willing to risk innocent bystanders, so maybe think a bit more before making those decisions.
They also talk about the pack’s relative strengths and weaknesses. They agree that sometimes Terin will give orders without explaining why; and sometimes Sibyl’s-Feather will do things without asking for permission.
Before leaving, Terin lets Sibyl’s-Feather know about the party with the Pilgrims of the Road (and Silent Strider kinfolk), and invites her to join. Sibyl’s-Feather leaps at the opportunity, and grills Terin about what she should wear.
The next day, Terin resumes teach her pack self-defence. The training goes well. After Em and Sibyl’s-Feather are done for the day and go off for a chat [DETAILS OF WHICH I DID NOT HEAR], Scent-of-Silver challenges Terin to a sparring match.
They remain in homid to spar, ranging back and forth across the fitness room. Scent-of-Silver holds her own for a while, and even lands a solid strike, before Terin knocks her unconscious.
Later, Em approaches Terin to talk about the pack’s current patrolling schedule. She points out that it doesn’t make much sense for her to patrol the reservation, since the Uktena kinfolk are doing most of that work for her. Instead, she suggests she spend more time in the umbra to keep an eye on things in the spirit realm. Terin agrees, on the condition that Em carry the red phone with her while she’s in the umbra so she can reach the pack if she needs help.
Em goes on to talk about Scent-of-Silver. She suggests that, as the best talker of the pack, Scent-of-Silver act as the pack’s diplomat and spymaster. While Sibyl’s-Feather can keep an eye on the City from the air – watching in particular for signs of Wyrm-taint – Em suggests it should be up to Scent-of-Silver to manage things on the ground. She can use the Bone Gnawer kinfolk as her eyes, and also work with the rat shifters as necessary.
Terin agrees the suggestions make sense. When the pack is together that evening, she informs the others about the change in plans. She makes sure to emphasize to Scent-of-Silver how important her new role is. The pack’s most important responsibility is to protect the City, and Scent-of-Silver will now be the main way they learn about potential trouble. Scent-of-Silver seems to take this with the solemnity that it is intended, although she doesn’t tell her pack about being approached by King.
The pack then breaks to get ready for the gathering with the MC that night. Before they leave, however, Em receives a call on the red phone. It’s Eddie, the VP of the Pilgrims of the Road and a Silent Strider kinfolk. He shouts “you need to get here now! There are casualties!”
Terin immediately takes off on her bike, followed closely by the others in the Cayenne. They arrive just as a black SUV is pulling away from the club. Terin sends Sibyl’s-Feather to follow it while the rest of the pack tries to find out what happened. The brick wall in front of the club door has been obliterated, and a body sprawled on the ground. There are dozens of tire marks across the parking lot, and one of the bikes is on fire.
Eddie appears from behind the building, carrying an automatic with him. He leads the pack to the others. They find most of the MC is unhurt, although Barbie is cradling her arm and Ginge (the president) is badly burned.
While Terin goes into the burning club to make sure everyone got out, Em and Scent-of-Silver examine the body. They discover that it has fine, silver filaments running under its skin. It’s infected with the Weaver. While they are examining it, its eyes open wide, although it doesn’t react otherwise.
Back with the kinfolk, Terin tells them to ditch their phones, find a safehouse, and lay low for the next few days. Ginge demands to be able to help, capitulating only when Terin orders him to do as he’s told.
While the kinfolk clear out, Em and Scent-of-Silver manhandle the corpse into a large barrel, and load the barrel into the back of the SUV. Just as they are finishing, they hear sirens approaching from the City. Unwilling to risk driving past the cops, and get stopped with a body in their trunk, the pack drives the opposite direction and hides their vehicles in the woods. They shift into lupus and run as fast as they can to the City.
Meanwhile, Sibyl’s-Feather follows her target into Upper City, near the construction site where the pack fought the Weaver-spiders in the umbra a few weeks ago. She finds a payphone to call the others and inform them where she is, then settles to wait for their arrival.
It takes almost an hour before the pack is reunited. Sibyl’s-Feather points them to the warehouse the SUV pulled into. After some reconnaissance during which Scent-of-Silver hears nothing, Terin senses no watchers, and Sibyl’s-Feather and Em don’t see any cameras or surveillance, they decide to try to talk their way into the warehouse.
Terin sends Scent-of-Silver to ease the way, telling her only to be careful.
Scent-of-Silver does her best to draw the two, suited men outside, but they are unwilling to leave the warehouse door. She does manage to convince them that she needs help, however, and they simply call the police to come. Intent on not losing her targets, Scent-of-Silver asks if she can wait inside until the police arrive. The men agree, and Scent-of-Silver begins to go into the warehouse.
Unwilling to lose sight of her packmate – and paranoid about what might be awaiting her inside – Terin immediately sprints to the door. She and Sibyl’s-Feather make it inside to join Scent-of-Silver, but Em is trapped outside when the door swings shut.
A quick, brutal fight follows. The thugs are armed with pistols, and Scent-of-Silver falls in a spray of blood as a bullet pierces her throat. Terin rips her target’s throat out while Sibyl’s-Feather nails a third man with an arrow. Em, meanwhile, shifts to crinos and rips the warehouse door off its hinges. She comes
Fueled by rage, Scent-of-Silver comes back up and annihilates the man who shot her. He comes apart in a spray of blood, sparks, and wires. Only when he is little more than meat and scrap metal does she return to herself, now sporting her very first battle scar on her throat.