Three decades ago, in Mayor William Steven Järnvilja’s office. He puts on a record, listens to it for a while, then sits at his desk. He pushes a button on the intercom, summoning Meredith.
A 13-year-old blond girl enters. He tells her she will be volunteering at the local soup kitchen for the summer, so won’t be able to volunteer at the art gallery. She argues, but he explains that their family are leaders, and need to look out for those who don’t have anything.
“So I don’t get a say,” Meredith sulks. Her father is unsympathetic, reiterating that she will do as she’s told. He reminds her to be friendly, since she’s so much luckier than the City’s homeless. She agrees, and leaves.
He turns to look out the window and the beautifully sunny day, content with the world.
The pack comes out of the haze of battle to find themselves surrounded by the dead and dying. Only two enemies remain alive (although they are unconscious & badly wounded). Terin has passed out, and her left flank looks like it was sprayed with acid. They locate Carrie, who is badly shaken, and hand her over to Wayne for safe keeping
Before they leave, Em insists on trying to cleanse the room, and their victims, from the infection of the black goo. As the group gathers, however, they realize the goo is seeping out through a grate in the centre of the room. Watches-the-Moon tries to block its path with dead bodies, but it just moves around.
They leave the cavernous room, returning to the sewers to find a way out. Watches-the-Moon carries Terin, Em carries the survivors, and Wayne ushers Carrie along. Will, having wrapped a dismembered arm in his jacket, carries that it one hand and dials Clear-Eyes’ number on his cell with the other. There is no response.
They find a sewer grate. Watches-the-Moon hands Terin over to Will and climbs up. After a few false starts with early morning traffic, everyone is out of the sewers and gathered in an alley. Only then does Carrie realize Dog isn’t with them, and insists someone needs to go back to find him. An argument ensues – with Will insisting they need to get back to the manor ASAP, and Sarajane arguing they need to rescue Dog. After a stand-off between Will and Watches-the-Moon over who needs to carry the cell phone, Will goes with Wayne and Carrie to find his car, while Watches-the-Moon returns to the sewers to find Dog.
Back at the cavern, Watches-the-Moon loses Dog’s scent. He is also confronted with the scent of a human. This is quickly followed with a human figure, who’s chanting pulls at Watches-the-Moon’s spirit, beckoning him to follow. He is able to shake off the spell, however, and returns safely to the others. He tells Sarajane to tell Carrie that Dog is dead.
At the manor, Sarajane calls her father to deal with the survivors and help Terin. While they wait for his arrival, she and Will carry the survivors into the basement, which has been outfitted like an old fashioned jail cell.
Em talks to her sister in a mirror. She finds out there’s something in the umbra, something huge, that everyone is talking about. It’s currently unaligned, and Olivia urges her to come and make sure it is aligned to the pack before someone else takes it.
Dr. Butler arrives. Em leads him to Terin first, but he says that there’s nothing he can do for a Garou’s wounds; she will heal completely on her own, given enough time. In the cellar, it is obvious he has been here before. Sarajane stays with him to act as an assistant, and Em goes in search of Will.
Terin finally wakes, and the pack gathers in the kitchen. There is an intense debate over the fact that they still don’t have an alpha. Sarajane ends up taking the position on, she says, a temporary basis; until “Will and Watches-the-Moon can sort out their shit”.
They go into the woods to perform a rite of cleansing, to make sure Watches-the-Moon, Em and Terin weren’t infected by their contact with the black goo. Em performs the rite as if she has done so a hundred times before.
Once the rite is complete, Watches-the-Moon asks where Clear-Eyes is. Will replies tersely that “she’s out”.
Em pulls Will aside to speak privately. She tries to find out if he actually wants to be alpha, or is only acting to appease his mother, but is unable to get a straight answer. She also asks his help to go into the umbra and find a spirit to teach her how to heal the pack’s wounds. They cross over. After negotiations with a pair of raccoon spirits, they are taken the see Bear. It requires some convincing, but he eventually agrees to show Em how to heal under the condition that she seek less violent alternatives in the future.
Eventually everyone goes to bed. Watches-the-Moon and Little-Guardian sleep in Sarajane’s room, protecting their alpha.
Watches-the-Moon dreams. He sees the Killdeer, who immediately asks him what took so long and where the others are. With the Killdeer’s help, Watches-the-Moon collects the others from their dreams.
– Em: “what is she like?” “young”. Em and Olivia are having a tea party in their childhood backyard. Olivia notices Watches-the-Moon first, and tells Em she has to go. The killdeer flutters anxiously, saying “it’s sleeping, but we have to wake it first!”
– Sarajane: “what is she like?” “afraid, but strong”. The Butler family is celebrating Christmas morning, gathered around their tree. Teenaged Sarajane opens a book on anatomy. Thrilled, she hugs her mother in thanks. The killdeer pecks her on the back, and she wakes within her dream to remember she will never become a surgeon.
– Will: “what is he like?” “so angry”. Eight-year-old Will is in the exercise room in the manor, grinning. Seated in front of him are a large man, a younger version of Puff-Mama in his lap. The man congratulates Will on his first combat victory. The killdeer pecks Will on the foot, waking him up and saying it’s time to go.
– Terin: “what is she like?” “loyal and strong”. Three-year-old Terin is playing with her new puppy, Grey. Her father picks her up and hugs her close, saying he has to leave. It takes a while for the killdeer to wake her, then longer still before she will focus on the rest of the pack.
Once everyone is gathered the killdeer realizes many of them are wounded. It grants Em some gnosis to heal Terin. She is overcome with the sensation of motherly love, unlike anything she has ever felt before.
Even once Terin is healed, the killdeer declares they’re not ready; they need to rest and prepare their spirits for battle. Watches-the-Moon tells the bird to show the others what they will face. They receive a vision: on an expanse of cracked, hot mudflats, the sun beats down from one edge of the sky while the moon glows on the other. Their spirits chase after the moon. They arrive at a great bridge, and on the other side is what the moon wants to show them. In the way, however, are creatures made of fire, sent by the sun to block the way.
Back in their bodies, the pack discusses what they saw. Terin reaches within herself, to the other consciousness she sometimes senses, to learn they fire creatures are Children of Helios. They can be fought as one would fight fire, and also with tooth and claw. She passes the information onto the others. They all go back to true sleep, agreeing to discuss things further in the morning.
The first to wake, Watches-the-Moon searches for Clear-Eyes but is unable to find her. He wakes Will, saying “I don’t know people, you have to find her”. Unimpressed, Will snaps “why don’t you practice your human form and stop walking around like a dog?” Seeking some time to himself, Will goes into the yard to cross into the umbra and lays down to see if anything is wandering around.
Sarajane calls the group together. Will doesn’t show up. They go looking for him, find him in the umbra, and bring him back. Sarajane asks Em to bind clothes for she and Watches-the-Moon. After a brief pause to heal Will – who experiences the same rush of love and warmth Terin did – and find clothes for Watches-the-Moon, Em performs the rite.
They pass they day at the manor. Will tries calling Clear-Eyes a few more times, with no response. He eventually finds her cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter in plain sight, where it hadn’t been that morning. It rings. He answers to find Wayne has called, saying kinfolk in the City are still getting sick, and they need help.
That night, gathered for dinner, the group realizes they have to make a decision. They either need to return to the City to deal with who or what is making the kinfolk sick, or follow the killdeer to wake the unaligned creature in the umbra.