Scions of Ingress

Chapter 4: A full pack

"Weird fucking humans".

While the visit with Speaks-With-Gaia occurred: Terrified by the apparent death of one of her new packmates, Sarajane fled the manor and sought out her birth family. She spent the night at her sister’s side in the hospital, alternating between sleep and staring in silent horror at the bandage-wrapped figure. Her father returned to the hospital at one point and seemed surprised to find her alone, without her packmates. She confessed her fears of her newfound nature. Although he was understanding of her apprehension, he was also blunt in stating “this is your burden as well as your blessing. You can’t run from this.”

Will, Terin and Em emerge from the mine to find night fell several hours ago. A brilliant, gibbous moon hangs low in the sky, and Terin and Em can feel it pulling at them. Heedless of Will’s warnings, they look up at it to bask in its glow. Terin feels her Garou nature try to take over, and has to fight to remain in human form. She is able to do so, and the trio pile back into Will’s grandfather’s car to return to the manor.

Terin watches Will closely during the drive. He’s clearly frustrated, but doesn’t seem in danger of losing control of himself. Em tries to break the silence, but Will shuts down all attempts at conversation and turns on the radio instead.

The following morning, the trio gathers for breakfast. Will’s phone rings around 8; Sarajane calling to explain where she is and why she ran. Will reassures her that both he and Terin are fine, and urges her to return to the manor as soon as she can. Sarajane arrives at the manor just as breakfast is finishing. She joins the others in the dining room, and they tell her all they learned about the Bone Gnawers, Uktena, and Silent Striders the day before. Em also says, with no small amount of pride, that she is now a Uktena too. When asked, Terin admits she still hasn’t made up her mind.

Meanwhile, in the forest on the edge of the City, a massive black wolf and his smaller companion near the end of their long journey. As they near the forest’s edge, they catch the intoxicating scent of cooking meat. Still within the safety of the trees, they see a human-thing, standing over a smoking contraption that seems to be the source of the delicious smell. The larger wolf, Watches-The-Moon, moves closer to take a look. The human-thing spots him. It makes some noise, but doesn’t seem in the least afraid. Watches-the-Moon continues forward, drawn in by the smell. As he approaches further, a second, smaller human-thing comes out of the large boxy-thing in the middle of the field of grass. This one appears to be a bit more wary, but doesn’t flee. Instead, it places a dish of raw meat on the ground, offering it to Watches-the-Moon. He waits for the human-thing to move back to the other one, then inspects the offering. It is deer meat; the human-things are sharing their kill. Watches-the-Moon moves between the offering and the human-things, then calls out his companion, Little-Guardian, to eat.

While his sister indulges, he nears the human-things once more. He spits out the stone he has been carrying in his mouth, and watches the human-things’ reactions. From what he can tell of their strange, flat faces, they seem surprised. It is also evident they don’t know what the stone is, so he takes it back in his mouth and sits down.

Back at the manor, Clear-Eyes arrives in the kitchen to find the group chatting about the different Garou tribes they have recently learned about. She tells them they need to go to the reservation to see Jerry, and that there’s someone waiting to meet them. She also very pointedly says they need to travel together at all times. Although she doesn’t look directly at Sarajane, the message is clear.

On the edge of the forest, the human-things have offered Watches-the-Moon and Little-Guardian water. While his sister drinks, Watches-the-Moon gets the human-things’ scents. He learns one is male and the other female and, unlike most human-things, neither of them are frightened of him. He keeps their attention while Little-Guardian tries to figure out how they keep disappearing inside their large, boxy den.

Time passes peacefully enough, until a massive, noisy, foul-smelling beast approaches the dwelling. Watches-the-Moon orders Little-Guardian back to the woods to hide, while he prepares to defend himself. When four more human-things emerge from inside the beast, he has no idea how to react.

Will, Em, Terin and Sarajane pull up to Jerry’s house to find he and his wife are hosting an enormous black wolf in their back yard. It seems wary as they approach. Somehow recognizing the wolf as a fellow Garou, Em immediately shifts into lupus form. Still in homid but speaking Garou, Will asks the wolf where he came from. The wolf, seemingly unsurprised to find himself replying to a human, says he came from very far away. He goes on to say he needs to “speak to the one who carries the Light of the North Sky”. The women have no idea what he’s talking about, and Will keeps his own council.

Eventually, all but Terin have shifted into lupus to continue the conversation. Will asks Watches-the-Moon if he knows how to shift, as he will need to appear human to speak to the one he’s looking for. Watches-the-Moon says he can, but would rather not as his sister isn’t able to. Little-Guardian emerges from the woods at this point, but remains poised to run should Watches-the-Moon tell her to.

Watches-the-Moon spits out the stone he has been carrying again, in hopes that these new creatures will know what it is. He tells them it gave him a seeing, and sent him to find others like himself. Will says he knows who they need to speak to – Speaks-with-Gaia, his father – but that Little-Guardian won’t be able to come. Watches-the-Moon argues against this, on the grounds that his sister has come just as far as he has and deserves to see the journey through. Will suggests they go to a safe place to discuss it further. He shifts back to homid to tell Jerry that they will be returning to the manor. In deference to Watches-the-Moon and Little-Guardian, he says they will need to run and asks Jerry to please drive the town car back to the manor for him. Jerry promises to do so, and seems quite pleased at Will’s off-hand suggestion they enjoy the car for a day.

While this is going on, Sarajane asks Watches-the-Moon if she can introduce herself to his sister. He allows it, and watches in bemusement as the seemingly full-grown wolf speaks like a cub to his sister. Sarajane finds that some part of her knows what to do, but it isn’t as comfortable as speaking Garou. Little-Guardian enjoys the game, and introduces herself in return. It takes a couple tries, but eventually Sarajane understands.

Once Will and Terin are in lupus form and Will explains the plan, they begin to run back through the forest to the manor. As they do, Watches-the-Moon tells Little-Guardian they are going to a safe place, and promises he will kill the newcomers if they are deceiving him.

Will leads the way, skirting around the city so they will remain unseen. As they near the manor, Terin puts on a burst of speed and blows past the group to be the first one back. Watches-the-Moon senses this is someone else’s territory and hangs back in the woods. Em tells him this is Will’s mother’s den. Surprised that an adult wolf is still living in his mother’s den, Watches-the-Moon nevertheless howls his presence. An answering howl comes from the strange den, welcoming him inside.

Clear-Eyes, in the form of a pale grey wolf, greets the group outside on the immaculately manicured lawn. Watches-the-Moon can tell immediately that she is an alpha, and treats her with respect. He shows her the stone and she recognizes it immediately, explaining that it was made by one of her pack, an ancestor of Watches-the-Moon’s. She goes on to say that he has arrived to complete Will’s pack. The reactions of the current packmates are mixed: Sarajane is welcoming, Em interested, and Terin suspicious.

Will says they should probably wait a while longer before returning to the mine to see his father. He also reiterates that Watches-the-Moon will need to appear as a human in order to gain entry to the mine. Watches-the-Moon reluctantly shifts into homid form. He is more muscled than Will, but not as handsome, and clearly has no sense of modesty. While Will goes to find him some clothes, Watches-the-Moon complains that he can hardly move as a human. Terin tells him he just needs to practice, and demonstrates by running up the wall of the manor and neatly back-flipping to the ground. Watches-the-Moon finds it easy enough to run, but when he approaches the wall has no idea how she managed that. He decides to hold off on trying.

Eventually Watches-the-Moon is dressed, and the pack is ready to depart. They leave Little-Guardian under the capable eye of Clear-Eyes. The pack piles into two cars – Will and Watches-the-Moon in one, and the rest in Terin’s hatchback – and pull onto the road. Watches-the-Moon is almost immediately car-sick, but they make it to the mine with relatively little incident. Inside, as they pull on their coveralls, Sarajane realizes a majority of the employees are Native American and all seem to know Will.

After a long wait, they ride the lift down into the earth. As the lift rattles and the sense of pressure hightens, Em warns Sarajane and Watches-the-Moon that it might get a little weird in the tunnels. However, as they make their way through the tunnels, Em and Terin are surprised to find the threatening sensation they experienced yesterday does not return. Instead, they arrive at the cavern in short order to find a small, sputtering fire and Speaks-with-Gaia’s fragile form huddled next to it. Even to Sarajane’s practiced medical eye, he looks all but dead.

Em leads Terin, Sarajane and Watches-the-Moon into the umbra, while Will travels by himself. Once there, Sarajane and Watches-the-Moon are surprised to find themselves standing in a small wooden cabin, with brilliant sunshine streaming in through the cracks in the wall. The cabin appears to be unoccupied, until a small, fuzzy creature rushes out of the shadows and runs up Em’s arm in a flurry of chittering noise. Em happily greets her friend, and announces that she has thought of a name for it: Evey.

As soon as Em asks where Speaks-with-Gaia is, the group realizes he’s sitting in a rocking chair, staring out the window. Without any of the group moving, they are suddenly all seated at the table with Speaks-with-Gaia, who is now in crinos form. His mouth is moving and the group can hear him speak, but the sounds don’t quite line up with his lips.

Watches-the-Moon moves the stone from his cheek to his tongue, and his vision splits into two. While he is still sitting at the table looking at the crinos, he is also high in the corner of the room looking down on the group. From above, he can see the crinos’ words do match the movement of his lips, but he still can’t understand them. He spits the stone out on the table, and the second vision fades. As it does, Speaks-with-Gaia’s words finally seem to sync with his mouth, and he finishes “with Gaia”.

The crinos’ eyes focus suddenly, and he looks around the table at each of the arrivals. He says it is good, that “the moon is whole, with all of its parts here”. He explains they cannot start on their true path until they have undergone the rite of passage to become adult Garou. He instructs Watches-the-Moon to hang onto the stone. He also says that Watches-the-Moon is Uktena, which means he has a sister in Em and will need to give her his wisdom.

Speaks-with-Gaia goes on to say they group will need to chose an alpha soon, as no pack is truly whole without a leader. He then asks Sarajane her tribe, and welcomes her as a Uktena when she speaks the word. When he turns to Terin, she admits she still hasn’t made up her mind. He counters that it is not a choice of the mind, but the heart, and that she likely already knows the answer.

Expanding his focus to the group once more, Speaks-with-Gaia tells them they must take up where his pack failed, and finish what they started a decade ago. He recommends that Watches-the-Moon spends some time with his old packmates, as all too soon they will be gone. He also offers to bind the spirit of the stone to Watches-the-Moon, so he needn’t worry about losing it. Watches-the-Moon accepts, and suddenly they are all seated in a circle on the floor with Speaks-with-Gaia in the centre.

Em watches carefully while Speaks-with-Gaia conducts the rite. He wakes the spirit of the stone and introduces it to Watches-the-Moon, asking if it will consent to being bound together. The spirit does, and the stone seemingly disappears. [GUY PLEASE ADD THE NEW VISUAL FOR THE STONE, AS I DIDN’T WRITE IT DOWN]. Once the rite is complete, Speaks-with-Gaia makes sure that Em understood what he did. He suggests that she practice the rite, and Terin hopefully asks to have her clothes bound. Em performs the rite easily, and Terin is relieved to no longer have to worry about losing either her clothes or ring.

While this is going on, Sarajane has moved to look out the window. The others join her. Terin and Em can’t see anything, just a strange haze of light. Watches-the-Moon sees waves crashing against a distant shore. Sarajane seems lost in the view, and it takes a few tries for her packmates to draw her attention back to the cabin.

Their time with Speaks-with-Gaia complete once more, Em leads Terin, Sarajane and Watches-the-Moon back out of the umbra. Will remains behind, saying there is no reason for Speaks-with-Gaia to stay in this place. His father replies he will wait for Will and his pack to finish their task, and then he will be able to rest.

Emerging on the surface once more, they plan to return to the motorcycle club on highway 78 so Terin can speak with one of the Silent Striders. Before they leave, Sarajane is overwhelmed with a sudden sense of panic, and insists she be dropped off at the hospital to see her sister.

At the gas station, the group enters the restaurant to find it much more crowded than it had been the day before. The same waitress they saw yesterday directs them to a table in the corner, and brings them a round of drinks. Em and Terin both get a beer, while Will and Watches-the-Moon stick to water. Watches-the-Moon has difficulty with the glass, managing to spill the water all down his front. He manages his temper, though, and refrains from killing the human-things that laugh at him.

Soon enough they are summoned to the back room, where they find a large biker with a buxom woman sitting on his lap. Will, Em and Terin recognize the woman as Sasha, who they saw the day before. The biker introduces himself as Watches-the-Flame, a ragabash of the Silent Striders. He seems incredibly pleased to meet Terin, saying that he and his pack owe her and her father a great debt. He tells her Crosses-the-River, his galliard, was able to die in battle against Gaia’s enemies thanks to the actions of her father. Her response is muted.

Watches-the-Flame goes on to talk about the Silent Striders. He explains that they all feel the call of the road, not as an escape but as a destination. Terin realizes she has felt that call all her life, embracing it every time she ran through the City. He cautions that no one should run from their problems, however, but rather towards them.

He goes on to ask after Terin’s mother. Terin says “she did her best”, but that her step-father wasn’t much of a man. Watches-the-Flame seems to have no trouble discerning the words she doesn’t utter, and says there are ways for the Garou to deal with problems like her step-father. She admits that it may come to that eventually.

When asked if she has any further questions, she says only whether the Silent Striders will accept her as one of their own. Watches-the-Flame is thrilled, and pours whiskey shots for all of them (two each for he and Terin). He is clearly disappointed that Terin can’t stay for a larger celebration, and extracts a promise that she let him know as soon as she returns from the cairn so the tribe can welcome her properly.

He walks them out to the parking lot. While the others move to the cars, he holds Terin back and gives her a much-worn picture of another biker. He says it’s Crosses-the-River, and repeats the debt that he owes to her. She asks if she can keep the picture, which he gladly gives to her. Before she departs, he also asks her permission to visit her father in jail. Surprised that he feels the need to ask, she tells him to go ahead.

The group returns to the manor. Terin doesn’t go inside, however, saying instead that she needs to go to the Warrens to find Wayne and tell him her decision. Watches-the-Moon is appalled that she plans to go by herself, and insists that Em travel with her. The two women agree, until he leaves at which point Em acknowledges that Terin wants to go by herself. She goes into the forest instead, to try to find her sister in her reflection in the creek.

Back in the manor, Will practices his ability to speak lupus with Watches-the-Moon and Little-Guardian. Little-Guardian is a patient teacher, and Will is able to pick things up after only a few tries. In repayment, he shows Little-Guardian how to open the manor doors with her paw.

In the Warrens, Terin asks around until she discovers Wayne is working in one of the soup kitchens for the evening. He is clearly thrilled to see her, and they sit down to talk. She admits that she has made her choice, and is now a Silent Strider. Wayne’s perpetual smile immediately fades. She tries to explain that she will still be there for the Bone Gnawers, and that any of the City’s homeless can come to her for help if they need it. Wayne demurs that they don’t want to take up her time, and leaves without finishing his meal.

Comments

Myrthful

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.