Scions of Ingress

Chapter 19: A Return and A Promise

The opening titles roll on season 2. The pack is in the penumbra, surrounded by what looks like a construction site. They are in the middle of an expansive pit, 30 feet into the ground. Concrete pillars reach up into the sky, a crane hangs overhead, and mechanical spiders dripping with ichor slash at the Garou.

With no alpha, they fight without the benefit of pack mind. Together and yet alone, they slash, claw and bite their prey. A slim figure armed with bow and arrow stands atop a 20 foot pillar, shooting down into the fray. Most of the spiders are the size of housecats, but Stubborn-Heart faces off against one the size of a horse, with chainsaw, girders, and flamethrowers for limbs. Thrilling in combat, the pack fights.

Six Months Ago

Em travels back via the moon-bridge. It’s an exhilarating feeling, the chance to run without tiring for hours at a time. It also gives her a chance to reflect on all she has learned for the past six months, and to try not to worry too much about what might await her when she returns to the City.

She lands at the same cairn she departed from those months ago, three hours’ drive away from the manor. A car awaits her, Dr. Elizabeth Vogel sitting inside. As Em looks around, she also spots a man she doesn’t recognize, sitting on his motorcycle to the side of the clearing. Since it was a Silent Strider who escorted her here in the first place, she assumes this is another to escort her home.

Elizabeth is personable and full of questions in the car. Her first – where Em wants to go—receives a brief silence. Em eventually says the manor, since she assumes her alpha will be there.

As they drive, Elizabeth proceeds to ask about Em’s time on the grounds, and reminisces about her own childhood there. Surprised, Em asks if she was a servant there. Elizabeth explains she serves the Garou as a doctor, not as a maid.

The closer they get to the manor, the more tense Em gets. Noticing, Elizabeth reminds her to breath and please not freak out while inside the car. Em does her best to concentrate on her breathing and the other meditation techniques she learned.

About 45 minutes out from the manor, another biker pulls onto the road in front of them. Dressed in a leather vest with the same biker gang insignia as the first escort, the new biker’s arms and head are bare, and her hair is braided back into a mohawk. She turns her head as she waves the first biker off, revealing a row of three puncture wounds embedded in her skull. Em realizes this must be Terin, and is a little taken aback at the changes in her friend.

At the manor, once Elizabeth has been thanked and sent on her way, Em and Terin say their hellos. Terin also proudly introduces Em to her bike, Running-Towards. A little worried about her friend’s sanity, it takes further explanation before Em realizes the bike has an awakened spirit. She makes a proper greeting herself, and Terin promises to introduce them again in the umbra.

Inside, Em asks for some time to herself to clean up. While she goes to find her own room, Terin receives a call from Sibyl’s-Feather asking if Em has arrived. At the affirmative, the Corvax says she’ll be at the manor shortly.

Upstairs, Em steps into the umbra to take a few moments to herself. Behm is immediately there – as usual – and asks what’s wrong. Em tries to explain why she’s nervous, but the spirit can’t understand. She’s home, he says, with her pack. Why be frightened of coming back to where she’s meant to be?

The pack gathers in the rec room to enjoy sandwiches, beer, and stories about the past few months. Almost immediately they all feel the re-connection of a whole (almost) group. Em suddenly wonders why she was so nervous.

The next evening, as Em is getting ready for bed, she hears a knock on her bedroom door. Asking who it is, she’s more than a little startled when a dry voice answers “William Jarnvalia Sr.” He welcomes her back, and invites her to take a walk in the garden.

Thanks to her time among the Silver Fang in England, Em now sees William Sr. in a different light. She recognizes his posture and mannerisms as those of a man born to nobility, and bred as a leader. In fact, after some of the Garou she met over the past few months, William Sr. is practically a slouch.

He speaks of the pack’s alpha, Blood-of-the-North-Sky. Since he is a lupus, William Sr. explains that he often finds him difficult to talk to. Although there have always been close ties between the Silver Fang and Uktena, things are different now that both his daughter and grandson are away from the pack.

He comments that there is a ‘spirit of nobility’ to Em, and hopes that she may better understand where he’s coming from. Wary, Em asks how she can help.

William Sr. explains that he has a favour to ask the pack. He has learned of a developer moving into the City. A single conglomerate has been buying up large tracts of land, and looks to be trying to lure in big business. Both the Silver Fang and Uktena have long agreed that the City should avoid that if possible, and focus on small businesses run by individuals and families. In his role as mayor, he has been able so far to make sure that remains the case.

However, it now looks like the city council is leaning towards the developer’s cause. The situation is not yet dire, and William Sr. still hopes to manage it himself. There is a vote coming up in the not-too-distant future. If William Sr. has not turned enough of the councilmembers to his way of thinking by then, he wants to make sure he can count on the pack to “render assistance”.

Em agrees to bring William Sr.’s concerns to the rest of the pack, but won’t promise anything other than that. It’s up to the alpha to decide, she points out. William Sr. seems to accept this, and simply thanks Em for her time.

As he turns to leave, Em calls out that she went to her first moot while in England. There was much talk of Clear-Eyes there, both good and bad. When William Sr. asks for details, Em simply says she got in her first fight defending Clear-Eyes’ choices. “People may not agree with what she did, but she deserves their respect.”

With a smile, William Sr. says “I could not agree more”.

Three Weeks Ago

Late one night, each of the pack members feels a spiritual tug from Behm. They each cross into the umbra. They can hear him, screeching like a bird of prey, but cannot see him.

Looking up, Em is the first to spot what looks like a comet shooting towards the ground. The pack runs to his apparent landing sight, arriving in time to see him strike with a huge rush of air. For a long moment he is nothing but a coil of scales and shimmering feathers. Then he moves to reveal a young girl dressed in baggy jeans, a stained, red hoodie, and a beanie.

Sam.

Overjoyed with his discovery, Behm explains that she had been in the deep umbra, and just was recently discovered by the Eyes of Ceberus (the shadow pack that includes Liv, Carjack and Light-of-the-North-Sky).

Em is the first of the pack to react. She wraps the stunned girl in a hug, welcoming her home, and exclaiming she knew Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver was still alive. Terin is a little more circumspect, and hangs back to explain the new arrival to Sibyl’s-Feather, who never had a chance to meet the other woman. Blood-of-the-North-Sky reacts with his usual calm, sniffing Sam to ensure it’s her and nodding in satisfaction.

A little bewildered by a barrage of questions, Sam says she spoke with Luna. And also that she has a name: Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver. When asked for more details she demurs, saying she’d rather not talk about it.

The pack quickly decides Scent-of-Silver needs to see her aunt. Despite the late hour, they caravan into the city (Em, Blood-of-the-North-Sky, and Scent-of-Silver in the car; Terin on her bike; and Sibyl’s-Feather flying above). They arrive at Puff-Mama’s house around one in the morning. Em suggests that Terin go first to ease her way into the news. After a few moments of fumbling, Terin gives up and says “good news. Sam’s not dead.”

Leaving Scent-of-Silver to catch up with her aunt, the rest of the pack go for coffee. The reunion is intense and emotional. Asking what duties Scent-of-Silver currently has with her pack, Puff-Mama says they need to hold a gathering of the Bone Gnawers so they can welcome her back to the City. “When you’re done whatever shit you need to do with your pack, come back to us. Because you’re ours.”

The gathering ends up happening the next night. Scent-of-Silver invites the pack to join. In an attempt to smooth the way, Em makes sure to bring supplies from the manor’s liquor closet. Bone Gnawer kin come from across the City, and soon the night air is filled with the scent of fire-burning barrels and unwashed kinfolk. Each and every one of the gathered kinfolk treats Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver with awe; and more than a few men and women hit on her.

Uncomfortable with the attention, Scent-of-Silver finds a quiet corner for a few minutes’ peace. Her pack finds her, and serves as a barrier and moral support. Em informs her that the umbra is always available as a place of quiet, as long as Scent-of-Silver is careful about where she crosses. Em also recommends Behm as an excellent listener, who will keep information secret if there’s something Scent-of-Silver needs to get out without telling anyone about it.

Agreeing with Em, Terin does caution that Behm is being shaped by the pack. He will never judge any of them for something they do or say. While this makes him an excellent listener, it can be dangerous if he takes the wrong lesson from what he is told.

After a bit more conversation, Scent-of-Silver explains to the others that she is cursed. She can’t remember the details, but it’s something to do with fire. Em thinks of the first moment she saw Sam in the umbra, and recalls the small licks of flame that dance around her umbral form.

A couple days later, Scent-of-Silver asks Em to take her into the umbra so she can spend some time with Behm. Em makes her greetings with the pack’s totem, promises to tell Stubborn-Heart to visit soon, then leaves Scent-of-Silver and Behm alone.

Scent-of-Silver does her best to explain everything that happened to her, leaving out her time spent with Luna. They talk about secrets, and Behm assures her he’s good at keeping things quiet.

5 Months Ago

Seeing the joy Terin has found spending time with the Silent Striders, Em starts spending more time with the Uktena. She visits the elders in particular, listening to their stories and tales. On one afternoon in particular, she’s seated at a table in the Friendship Centre, listening to a story of how the mosquito came to be.

Her phone rings, interrupting the story. The elder waves aside Em’s apology, apparently well aware that a Garou often has to leave on short notice. Looking at the caller ID, Em is surprised to find it’s Detective Blackburn.

The detective apologizes for calling, saying “sorry to bring this to you. I thought it would be taken care of by the time you got back, but that hasn’t happened”. She goes on to explain that Em’s adoptive father, James Johnson, is back in town, hanging posters about his missing daughter Marjorie. Despite Blackburn’s repeated hints – and arrests – to try to dissuade him from searching for his deceased daughter, he has yet to give up hope. Even the fact that Em has a plot at Pine Wood Cemetery hasn’t convinced him to stop looking.

Em is more than a little surprised to find she’s been officially dead for over a year. She asks Blackburn to bring her father to the reservation in 90 minutes, promising to “give him a conspiracy he can believe in”.

At the clearing, Blackburn takes James out of the back of her squad car, undoes the handcuffs, and releases him. His rant about being arrested yet again trails off when he gets a glimpse of who he’s been brought to meet. His expression dissolves into a mix of relief, fear, and guilt.

Before Em has a chance to open her mouth, he blurts out an apology. He thought she would be better at the Asylum, with “people who understood what she was going through”. Since she disappeared, however, he felt like something else had gone out of his life. At first he thought Em really was dead, and knew it was his fault.

Once he began to suspect she was still alive, he realized there’s “something more out there” and that Em is involved. He hurries to specify that he doesn’t need or want the details, only to make sure she knows he still loves her and begs her forgiveness.

Surprisingly calm, Em assures him she doesn’t blame him for what happened. “There was something wrong with me.” She explains that the people lying about her death are doing it to protect her. As to what happened, she gives the barest details: “someone in there lost it and killed a whole lot of people. I got out”.

When James apologizes again for putting her there in the first place, Em only says “there was nothing you could have done to help me”. To which James asks “is there anything I can do now?”

Em tells him he needs to stop making so much noise about her disappearance. He agrees immediately, but does ask if he’s able to see her in the future. He talks again about the change in his thinking once she left, and how he felt something bigger was going on.

Suspicious and curious about his choice of words, Em excuses herself to make a quick phone call. She asks Detective Blackburn if a human can be kinfolk without knowing it, and if there’s a way to find out. Blackburn says the only real test is to turn into crinos; “if he doesn’t run screaming, he’s kin”. Opting to leave that as Plan B, Em decides she needs to speak to the elders about it. Blackburn suggests she talk to John.

Returning to her father, Em does her best to reassure him that she’s in a safe place now. When she mentions she “knows Liv wasn’t real”, James laughs and replies “you’ll think I’m crazy, but I was starting to think she was”.

Em explains that Detective Blackburn found her after the incident at the Asylum, and connected her with a private institution run by people who could help. “I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m not delusional”. She admits she’s not allowed to say where she’s been staying, but explains that it’s like a half-way house. At her father’s questioning, she laughs that it’s not a “government thing”.

At her mention of coming to visit him in the future, he explains that he’s not staying at the house anymore. He and her step-mother separated when it became clear that her step-mother didn’t share his concerns over Em’s safety. “She’s a selfish bitch, let’s put it that way”.

As they begin walking towards the Friendship Centre where Em hopes to find James a ride back to town, he asks if she had anything to do with the explosion at the apartment complex a few months ago. Em lies “no”, and her father lies that he believes her.

He also asks if she wants to know who her birth-parents are. She gets very excited, and James warns her that she may not like what she finds, but promises to look into it anyway.

Four Weeks Ago

Terin gets a call from Watches-the-Flame. He says they need to meet, as he has some information for her. They meet at an outdoor chip truck on the side of the highway, taking over one of the picnic benches that is suddenly vacant as soon as the normals get a look at them.

Watches-the-Flame explains that Terin’s father has a parole hearing in six weeks. It’s usually just a formality, since there’s no way Sam would get out. However, Watches-the-Flame has been looking into it. He slides a manila envelope across the picnic table. Looking inside, Terin finds the name, address, and detailed bio of every member of her father’s parole hearing.

Speaking into her stunned silence, Watches-the-Flame says that the Pilgrims of the Road can’t get involved, but asks that she gives them a heads-up with what she decides to do. She agrees, and thanks him for the information. When she comments on how much work it must have taken, he just laughs and informs her she owes him a pretty big favour.

Two Weeks Ago

Em is in the umbra, spending some time with Behm. She feels him twitch, and he suddenly seems to be staring at something in the distance. He says “you’re all here. It’s time. Get everyone. There’s something I have to say.”

Em howls to gather everyone. Together in the umbra, they feel whole and powerful. They are once more a complete pack, with every phase of the moon represented. They sit in a circle. Behm coils around and between them. More than one of them thinks about a constricting snake, and is aware of how easily Bhem could crush them if he wished.

His eyes go white and his presence changes. Although he is still Behm, the gentle, good-natured creature they have gotten to know over the past few months, he’s also something more. Something old. Something powerful. Something of the Wyrm.

His voice resonates in their chests as he speaks. “We are whole, but will not remain so. Fear not. I will stay with you. We will be together. You have done what no other pack would do: take in a spirit of the Wyrm. But I have not always been so. I was once a spirit of Balance. For me to take my true form once more, you must follow my law. If you do not, there can be no tie between us. I ask only that you hear out your enemies, as you have heard out me.”

Every member of the pack agrees, some with more enthusiasm than others. Terin in particular doesn’t seem thrilled with the idea of listening to their enemies. She promises to “hear them”, but also to defend her pack and the City.

Once they have all agreed and Behm gone wherever he goes when the pack can’t see him, Terin asks Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver if the litany has anything to say about what they’ve just done. Scent-of-Silver seems a little startled by the question, but says it should be fine. They’ve promised only to listen, not to stop fighting the Wyrm.

Blood-of-the-North-Sky interrupts any further discussion. He points out it’s done: they’ve already agreed. Now they must hold to that agreement.

Now

The battle against the Wyrm-tainted Weaver-spiders continues. Far-Wisdom, Scent-of-Luna’s-Silver and Stubborn-Heart tear into their enemies with teeth and claw. Their blood smells and tastes of the Wyrm, but also of Behm.

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