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  1. I am not sure this will be well received, so I appolgize if i clutter up things with this post. But I use this, have been using it for years, I like it, and so I wanted to share it for anyone else who might want it... With that said....... I have been running Aberrant since the day it came out, usually a 6 month long game once every other year or so. Anyway... since it came out the New World of Darkness (now Chronicles of Darkness) came out and we liked that lots, so we merged the two together - sort of. We use our own version of WoD rules that we think works far better than original. Anyway, long story short, I have massaged and worked the Aberrant rules into a working set that has successfully been used by us for years. I wanted to share this work i have done AND get feedback on it. With so many powers, not all of them have been vetted, and some of peoples great new ideas have not been added (or i don't even know about them). Additionally I have redone some of the rules, removed any ability to handle Aberration or hide them, and many other things to make the game much more of a World of Darkness, rather harsher/darker Aberrant... So here are the links... tell me what you think. They are a work in progress, as I am still adding content as best I can.... Cheers! My Base WoD Rules that Aberrant expands upon My Aberrant Rules My Aberrant Setting (very much work in progress) My Storyteller's List of Aberrant NPCs My Aberrant Character Sheets
  2. She and Sarah had been texting like mad for the past several days after the incident with Beckett and his Book of Ooky-Spooky. She had classes to attend in the day, and honestly hadn't felt like doing much in the way of patrols around the campus, which worried her a bit, but she needed a break from all the 'Grrr' and the 'Rawr'. A few days off to catch up on her studies and try to be something that resembled a normal twenty something woman. ,, She'd been lazy the last few days, it was true, but lying there on her bed surrounded by her class work and open notebooks she'd decided that she needed a break from her studies as well as being a cursed werebeastie. She couldn't keep putting it off, but then again she wasn't in that much of a hurry to skank herself out to a dead guy. ,, Oh, well... we need his help.... She sent him a text, a part of her hoping he'd not answer and a part of her hoping he'd be all over the invitation. ,, Gary, Dude, it's Swara-Ann. Hey, you busy? I need to talk to you about something pretty important. HMU when you have time. ,, -=XO Alaskan H0ttieXO=- ,, She dug back into her school work, hoping her head would explode and she'd not have to type any of it out later. It sucked being one of the only students in U.C.L.A. who couldn't afford a laptop.
  3. The Door opened to blackness, but they were expecting that. What they weren’t expecting, once Sean dug out his flashlight, was a lush garden, filled with verdant plants. They didn’t look right, to their eyes; the leaves and stems were an ugly purple-green color, and the flowers were all black. When the light hit them, the blossoms closed abruptly. No stars shone in the night sky, and no moon shone down on them. ,, Deep blue paving stones marked the path through the garden; the night was heavy with an oppressive silence. The students were standing there, trying to adjust to the gloom, when Ahvia pointed at the ground. “Sean, look!” He’d left his flashlight shining on one spot for a long minute, and now the grass in that spot was curling up and dying. The thick, purple blades were shriveling and turning a mud-brown color before their eyes. ,,
  4. Aradia glanced around the deserted street nervously. Kick-ass magic slinger or no (and in her opinion, she wasn't that kick-ass yet), walking around a run-down, deserted industrial in L.A. as a nineteen year old woman dressed for clubbing seemed like a bad idea. She was dressed in Oneca's smallest pair of leather pants, the ones Aradia couldn't quite figure out how her curvy cousin managed to squeeze into. They were almost capri-length on the goth girl (and who the hell had ever heard of leather capris before?!), which put them at just about the right length for Aradia, and loose enough for her to move in while still looking decent, and ready to party. Over that she'd thrown a tight tank top and a thin, too-large t-shirt advertising an obscure punk band. It had come pre-ripped from the thrift shop, but Aradia assumed that added to the effect. Her hair was down, she'd changed the streaks to various shades of bright pinks and reds through the brown, and altered the cut to look straighter and edgier. She'd styled it with the part off to the side and teased to high heaven, and slid at least a dozen multi-colored glow-stick bracelets on each wrist, a pair of boots with four-inch thick soles that were laced over the pants with cheap LED fiber-optic shoelaces she'd found locally. She'd topped it all off with a half a kilo of fairly dark glitter-punk makeup, and hoped she was dressed well enough to blend in without standing out. Latigo was nearby, wandering along out of sight, ready to warn her if he saw anything dangerous. Finally though, she found the place. It was, at first glance, not even worth a look. Only the loud noise emanating from the old subway entrance gave any indication that there was more than rats scurrying around in the abandoned station. As she descended down the stairs, the darkness gave way to the glow of black lights and hundreds of glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark raver clothes, and LED accessories. At the bottom of the stairs were the bouncers, but they waved Aradia in without even glancing at the fake ID she'd been ready with. At one time (before some official rerouting cut this section of the city off from the subway lines), this had been a very utilitarian station. Once you decended the stairs, there was a very long stretch of flat concrete, with pillars on either side overlooking the opposing train directions. But in the time since, heavy-duty surfaces had been fabricated that stretched over the subway tracks, almost like a flat bridge to nothing except barren wall and the short ledge on the other side. These were referred to as the dance bridges, where hundreds of young men and women writhed and raved, their emotions high on the music and their bodies high on drugs and cheap booze. The bar was a half-circle set back near the blocked-off back wall, where the station stopped and the tracks kept going. It extended out from the DJ booth, which was built high up off the ground and required climbing a short ladder to reach it. That modification had been made after the third or fourth DJ had been ripped away from his audio controls by an irate mob unhappy with his song selections, and bouncers also guarded the ladder leading up to the sound booth. In the ceiling, the original fluorescents had been replaced by an elaborate track lighting system that flashed colored spots all around the dance floor. Flush with the back station wall, heavy black barricades had been constructed blocking off the remaining tracks, and no one was allowed through the doors that had been built into them. The barricades were guarded by even more bouncers - burly men in plain black t-shirts and pants that didn't bother blending into the throng of dancers. No one knew exactly who ran this place. It was officially called Le Sousterrian, though everyone called it the Sous. No one knew how it had become an actual place, either.. at least one that the cops didn't shut down. Either way, it was well known amongst the music scene as the place to go for a wild fucking time. Aradia knew Latigo would follow somehow, staying out of sight in that mysterious way of his that sleepers never noticed. But she danced her way into the throng, doing her best to blend into the madness so she could get a good look at the place. Her latest tip regarding missing people had led her here, and at this point, it was the only lead she had. Of course, she had no fucking clue what she was looking for.. but at least it was something. Livy, girl, I haven't given up on you...
  5. It was Thursday night. Saja had left for the duration of the summer, headed to San Francisco for an internship. August had made her first appearance at the house that same day, for the first time in the month since Oneca had left. Earlier today, Aradia had received a text message from Oneca that she was heading back into town as well. They were about to spend an entire summer together under the same roof - thankfully a Saja-free one - and still her two roommates were keeping her in the dark. August had spent most of the last month with Dec, the hot-as-hell werewolf. They had a shape-shifting were-cat 'crashing' (Hah! - She'd been living there just barely shorter than Aradia had, at this point!) in one of the spare bedrooms. Yet, all of the life mage's attempts to extract who (or what) her roommates were up to now had been rebuffed, ignored, or flat-out rejected. It was like living in the center of a minefield, and yet everyone kept insisting it was a city park. She stepped back and surveyed the battlefield that was the den. Fruity drink mixes were August's favorite, and the add-your-own alcohol versions allowed for Oneca to get as plastered as she so chose. She'd sent August a text with the time to be here by, stating vaguely that they "should hang out, since Oneca was gonna be back". She knew August loved Greek food, and there was enough pita bread involved there to keep Oneca from getting wasted too quickly. The delivery guy had just dropped it off, and she'd laid it all out on the huge cocktail table that was centered between the deep-seated, soft, curl up in it upholstered furniture that outfitted the entertainment-centered room. She'd rented a few movies from Redbox, a variety of different things meant to appeal to whatever random mood the other two were in, although honestly Aradia didn't care if they got around to watching any of them. She took in a deep breath, and then checked her phone briefly for the time. August should be arriving any minute, and Oneca shortly after that. If I can't get them to talk this way, I'm going to have to resort to more extreme measures.
  6. "Allo' Little Bird." The worst accent in the world greeted the young blonde as she waited. Leaning against the wall in dark alleyways was starting to become habit for her but she always considered a lot better than being found almost dead in them (long story). The voice belonged to a homeless guy whose fake limp was transparent, but it worked for him. Dressed in a pile of rags Swara-Ann easily noticed that the entire ensemble could be cast off with a simple gesture. She also made a mental note to look up what 'ensemble' meant later. He carried a large duffel on his shoulder. ,, "Hey, Dredge." She said somberly, unfolding her arms and pushing herself off the wall. "You get it?" ,, "Aye, aye... I got it." He nodded his head and dropped the duffel at her feet. "Wozint easy, I can tell you that. Right bit expensive dey iz'. Fair warning Dove, my people aren't to happy bout this. Def Int's givin' you forty eight hours, that's it. And you owe us, not just for the toy." ,, She threw the zipper aside and looked inside the bag. A smile formed on her once lovely features. She was a mess. Deep bags were under eyes and her hair looked like it hadn't been combed in days. He noticed how here fingers and hands trembled as she unzipped the bag. She was a stable as an asylum patient. "Fair enough." She said flatly while lifting the duffel and sliding across her shoulder. "Thanks, see ya." ,, "Dove." The way Dredge said it made Swara halt in her tracks. Like a mentor or a father might hold a child in place because they knew there was something more going on than they were being told. "And you owe, me." ,, With a sigh frustration she about faced and gave him that dread look of valley girl annoyance, complete with the eye roll. On the up side, Dredge was Uratha, like her, so she know sleeping with him wasn't going to be an option. Thank Luna for small favors. "Fine. What do you want? I already hooked you up, four cartons of smokes and I used my phone to record my room mate showering. What more do you want from her? Her number? Cuz, seriously, dude... I don''t think she's into the whole homeless guy schtick. Maybe if you parted your hair the other way she wouldn't notice?" ,, Dredge chuckled, hopping up on a small stack of pallets, he got comfortable. "S'why I like you Dove, yer cute, funny, easy on the eyes. Dumb as bag of hammers, but we can't expect the whole package, right? Been like that since the dawn o' time... we can find the brain, or the body... never both in the same box, pardon my pun. No, Dove, all I want from you is an explanation. I've been more than 'elpful, sweets, dedicated a few outfits for ya, found you trinkets, kept my pack from gutting you... I think I deserve at least that." ,, The bag hit the ground again and the Alaskan native took her place back on the wall, leaning with her hands tucked in the pockets of tight denim. "Kay, fine. What do you want to know?" ,, "How much longer do you think you have, Dove? I can see it in your eyes." He sighed with genuine concern in his tone. He liked Swara, she was a good kid, noble, heart in the right place but there was no room in his pack for her. He hated seeing her trying to live this life of theirs alone, but he knew she'd be all all the stronger for it. "The Rage is eating you up inside. You're on edge, you're lashing out, you can barely sleep at night and it shows. How long's it been since you slept, Dove?" ,, "A few naps," She admitted quietly. "Thirty minutes here and there, but, about four days or so. After I left Declan's, I guess." ,, "An how long since you changed? Vented all that rage?" ,, She was silent for a long time, embarrassed to speak but realizing she had no way out of it. "Th-three cycles." Her eyes were already getting misty. She wanted to just walk away, but the Low Honored the High, and Dredge, for a homeless guy, was not an Uratha you wanted to be on the bad side of. "B-but I use the others! I shift I make use of the other forms, just like you said! Just... not that one." ,, "Christ, Dove! Th' hell you thinking?" He palmed his face and then looked up to the sky as if someone might drop some common sense onto her from upon high. "You have any idea ow' stupid you are? I know you're hurtin' sweetie, I know you carry a weight greater than most, but caging that beast will not give you a happy ending, Little Bird. You think it's bad when the curse grips you darlin' just wait... when you change, and you will change, you'll have a lot to answer for when it's all said and done." ,, "I can c-control it." She tried to keep back the tears but she was crying a little now. Days of sleep deprivation were taking their toll. "It's not easy, and it hurts sometimes... but I can do it. I've a plan." ,, "Right... ain't heard that before, Dove." He rolled his eyes, took a deep breath and threw his arms in the air. They fell with a slap releasing a stagnant cloud of dust into the air. "Bottom line, pookums, you ain't got much time. I've told you what Shiva decided and the twin's 'ave agreed. Either you find a cure, or they will put you down. Normally we don't kill our own kind, but special circumstances exist. I hate to say it again for ya Dove, but there you go. Yer on borrowed time, Little Bird." ,, "Then I suppose I should quit wasting it, huh?" She growled, quickly becoming irritated with the whole conversation. Suddenly she realized she'd growled at him and cupped her hands over her mouth. "Oh, God, Dredge I'm sorry, I didn't mean that... I..." ,, He raised a hand and offered her an expression that was warm and far from offended by her outburst. "S'okay Dove, you're under a lot of pressure. I understand, and you're right. Us sitting here rattlin' our gabbers ain't gettin' you curse free. Go. I'll run interference for you as long as I can. Fly away Little Bird, fly away." ,, She was already gone and running down the alleyway into the street. Even with the duffel over her back she was like pink lightning down the street. With the weight of the wolf's rage bubbling up inside her she need to act fast and she'd need help. Her trip was a one way door and unless she had help getting out, she'd be dead in a week. She slowed down outside an old abandoned steel mill at 190 and South Vermont. She clicked something on the screen of her phone: ,, Sarah, It's Swara. Seriosuly need your help. Only one I trust. Come to Dongbu Steel, 190 and South Vermont. ,, Please! -=XO Alaskan H0ttie XO=- ,, She looked around on the cold, black streets and then finally slipped through a massive tear in the fence. Unwrapping a Hersey's bar she took several large bites, hardly giving pause to chew. Tranquilizers wouldn't work, sedatives were too slow and even then the doses it would take were far beyond her bankroll to acquire. Chocolate, as bad of an idea as it was... was almost free and in every store. The after effects were going suck. Oh, were they going to suck. ,, She sat down and pulled a few things from the duffel. A cordless drill with a few spare batteries and several large, fourteen inch diamond carbide bits. The rusty old smelting bowl she was standing near was huge but she'd been working for almost a month to get it right how she needed it. It was resting at an angle, reminiscent of the old rabbit traps with a box and a stick. One swift kick to the pulleys and tack that were holding it in place with incredibly thick chains and the whole thing would fall down like a church bell. A four inch sheet of solid steel as the 'floor' under neath it and the bowl weighed nearly four tons. With a deep sigh she began drilling a one inch hole at the base of the bowl. ,, Hopefully Sarah wasn't too busy...
  7. There was a road - plenty of them - running through the LA National Cemetery, which made it easy to access, it was a short distance from the UCLA campus area, and it gave the proper atmosphere for the knowledge Gary intended to impart to August - without actually putting her on the spot with real ghosts. Despite the age old horror stories - graveyards usually were not anchors for ghosts in Gary's experience. ,, The cool, lightly warm air wafted across his face in the early evening as Gary leaned his back against a sturdy beech tree on the other side of Antietam Avenue. Declan had been making noises about Gary assisting August and teaching her, and eventually they'd had the time to put something clearly down on the schedule. ,, Gary was here a few minutes early, to get focused and prepared for tutoring the medium. The Rotting Scholar rustled against his mind, and Gary remembered that a mere undercooked burger had driven him from his comfortable dreams of magic and occult pretensions, to this more dark yet thrilling truth of the Sin-Eater life. ,, But as per Astra's warning back in March - was August ready for the challenges and potential sacrifices involved in the group's path, and Gary's path? Would she ever be?
  8. Evening, May 1st, 2012 ,, The sunlight filtered through the thick vines and thorns, still strong enough pierce her eyes with pain nearly as much as the thorns if she strayed from the narrow path and brushed against them. She had to keep running, though, even if it meant stumbling and pricks along her half-bare arms. She couldn't remember how long it had been since the last time since....since someone had gotten close, but she knew she was being chased and she had to keep running. Had she ever done anything other than run? Memories flickered through her mind and a rock scooted onto the path to trip her. ,, She tumbled down to the ground, throwing herself as much to the center of the clear line of dark earth winding between the tree-sized vines as she could. The rock snickered nastily and grew to the size of a boulder; she could hear the groan of the ground as it began to roll towards her. She scrambled, crab-like, away from it. She knew if she took the time to stand up, it would roll over her and crush her. It kept growing larger and gaining speed, expanding to fill the entire path and even push on the vines along the edge. Her heart pounding, she covered her face with her arms and rolled towards the vines, wondering if death by impalement was worse than death by crushing. ,, Death is death, honey. It's not cruel and it's not fair, it just is. It reminds us to live every moment as happily and fully as we can. That's what your mother would have wanted. Her father's voice had been with her for as long as she could remember, little snippets of conversations around campfires or in a warm bed just before sleep. ,, Thorns ripped into her flesh, tracing bright red lines down her arms and legs and setting her entire body on fire as the boulder rumbled past her, grumbling at her escape from it. It was rolling too fast to slow down and turn around on the path quick enough to crash through the vines onto her before she could run, though, and it lazily continued along the path, looking for another bit of prey. She curled up on herself, tears slipping through her arms and watering the ground beneath her, mixing with her blood and the soil. Small iridescent red flowers began blooming beneath her, the petals metal-sharp and keening in a mockery of her own crying. ,, I fell down, papa. I broke my knee. ,, It's just a scrape, sprout. You're barely even bleeding. ,, It hurts! ,, It's just a little blood, kiddo. Time to get back up. You're almost there. ,, Almost where, papa? ,, Can you see the stars, Zoe? Can you see the Swan? ,, Swan? ,, Something bit at her, a dull half-circle of pain digging into her arm, followed by a loud honking. She opened her arms enough to see a white swan standing over her, honking impatiently. It nipped at her arm again and then spun around, trundling off into the thick of the vines. She pulled herself up as much as she could, stumbling after it through the green foliage. The thorns ripped at her again at first, but the farther she chased after it, the smaller they became, slowly transforming from wicked instruments of torture into soft, pliant leaves. The vines became smaller but denser, taking on a brown, woody texture and eventually forcing her to crawl on her knees after the bird. The light, blinding before, faded from above, but the swan itself gave off a lustrous white glow. After a short eternity, the plants gave way entirely to a green ground of soft grass, rolling gently away towards a building. The swan gave a final honk from the middle of the grass then thrust itself into the air, wheeling up into the sky until it burst into a half-dozen glowing points of light and faded into the Cygnus constellation. ,, She laborously pulled herself upright, staring at the night sky. Shouldn't I be up there? An evening breeze wandered by and cooled her skin, goosebumps flushing over her. She blinked and pulled her eyes from the stars, looking at her earth-bound surroundings. Papa, where am I now? ,, ,, Zoe's Clothing
  9. August woke up, feeling warm and content. That lasted for about two seconds before she remembered today’s plans. “Aww, hell.” She rolled over again and buried her face in her pillow. ‘Hell’ was the operative word here. ,, Yes, she was going to be spending the day with Declan – no ghosts, no crazy bullshit, just her and her… werewolf boyfriend. ,, Okay, maybe there would be a little crazy bullshit. But it had to be fun crazy bullshit. ,, August showered, though that was probably going to prove a waste of time. However, there was a pride in her that wouldn’t let her show up to Dec’s stinking of sleep and bad breath, even if he was going to smell worse from her later today. She dressed practically, pulling on a pair of sturdy jeans, a black t-shirt and her hiking boots. Her hair was pulled into a braid and fell in a long line down her back. ,, Despite not looking forward to the events of the day, August was looking forward to spending time with Declan. More than that, she was looking forward to spending time having fun with Declan, as Lise had prescribed. They were starting with some fun that would be well within Declan’s comfort zone: camping. ,, August hated camping. It wasn’t that she didn’t like being outdoors, but most of her camping trips had devolved into a bug-filled, burnt-or-cold food nightmare. Declan had told her it’d be fun, and so she was willing to give it a shot. He’d get a chance to prove to her that camping could be fun. ,, She grabbed her bag just as her phone rang. “Hey, sexy,” she said as she answered. ,, “I hope you know it was me.” Declan’s deep voice was filled with humor and a twinge of lust. ,, “I checked the id yes, but I thought I should answer my phone this way all the time. Should make my family stop calling me so much.” August was sorta joking, but since she’d decided to date Declan, her aunt had been calling her almost every day. August knew she did it out of love, but even love had its limits. ,, “Mmm,” Declan murmured, the deep hum going down her spine to her toes. “And I’d call more. Speakin’ of calling, I’m out front.” ,, “Oh, I do declare,” August said in a bad southern accent, “do I have a gentleman caller?” ,, “You got the caller part right.” The naughtiness in his voice made her insides quiver. She didn’t know if they would finally be finishing what they’d started on Valentines but she’d packed protection anyway. And if he kept talking like that… ,, First, she had to see how she handled being around him in wolf-form long-term. Wolf first, then sexy. “I’ll be right down.” August dropped her voice a bit and purred, “Coming down, that is.” Then she hung up; let him think about that for a bit. Laughing to herself, she hurried for the stairs.
  10. The great wolf lay on his side, dead to all visual senses until an ear twitched or his side heaved in a great sigh. The spirits of the Hisil gave it wide berth, despite the lack of concern the uratha was giving his atmosphere. Normally, that was sure death to one of the forsaken children of Luna in the spirit world. But several spirits, large and strong despite the weird wavering of their bodies, glared menacingly at any spirits who dared to come to close to the great wolf. He was called Drunk Since Sunday by the spirits and so that was his deed name. The wolf wasn’t sober enough to realize he had a deed name. Any time he started to come out of his stupor, a touch from one of the alcohol spirits put Drunk right back under the haze of intoxication. He was their meal-ticket, their perpetual source of spiritual sustenance. The spirits had only had food like this once before, when the overpass in the other world had become home to alcoholic vagrants. They had been strong in that time. Drunk was feeding them better than that time, and they were loath to lose him, either to himself or others. The werewolf heaved himself to his feet, swaying a bit. The spirits hovered close, worried until they heard his stomach growl. Though he swayed and wove an zigzag across the Hisil, the wolf was hungry enough to go seeking water and food. The alcohol spirits followed closely, their eyes sharp where his was bleary. He didn’t spot the squirrel-spirit; they did. He didn’t catch it, not until they hounded it until it was out of essence and exhausted. He ate in several quick bites before staggering over to the nearby source of water. Then it was back to the spiritual representation of the overpass where the alcohol spirits crowded close. The werewolf slipped back into the bliss of oblivion with a relieved sigh; memories had already started to haunt him – that and the ghost. She hounded him all the time, but being a wolf and being drunk both helped to keep her at bay. If only he were stronger. The thought, the only truly coherent one in his head, taunted him as he sank into himself. If only he’d been strong enough to survive her death. If only he’d been strong enough to survive her ghost. He had things worth living for – a sister, he vaguely remembered that. There were other women, too. He’d met one at a grocery store and she’d wanted to help him. But somehow, he’d gotten into the hisil and then he found peace here. It was easier to die in slow pieces here, than to get up and fight. So much easier, and so Shane O’Neally slept and dreamed of a better past.
  11. The cool night breeze embraced her, enveloping her snow white coat like a loving mother held her child close to her breast. The scents and the sounds of the night were like a narcotic, each one a new and wondrous experience and curiosity for her to discover. The pads of her paws crunched the leaves beneath her as ran and leaped over elder fallen trees and slid swiftly under others. She was a wolf but her mind was that of a woman. She could think and act on more than instinct but now she was consumed by the wolf, the scents, the adrenaline... ,, ...the hunt. ,, Hurriedly the young woman ran through the woods. Sweat poured from her brow and her skin was bleached from fright. It was close and she knew it. She stumbled and fell to the soft earth blanketed by leaves of uncounted autumns and in a panic she crawled feverishly on her stomach before scrambling to her feet. She collapsed against a tree, tears roiling from her eyes down her young, unblemished cheeks. She looked down at the palms of her hands. Blood. She cried tears of fear and pain as she pulled a broken stick out from her side. ,, The leaves crunched in the distance... it was close. She ran. ,, The trail was warm, the scents in the air were like a stream of of invisible smoke she could follow to exactly where she needed to be. She'd find her. She couldn't have gotten far. She lost traction and slid on the leaves as she adjusted her weight towards the direction of her prey. She snarled and sped on. Nothing could outrun Swara-Ann, not in these woods, not tonight. Her pursuit took her around the eldest trees in the wood and the youngest saplings, their scents, pure and awesome, were like instants shots of adrenaline. The more of nature's splendor she took in on the hunt, the more it invigorated her. She was close, real close. ,, "Oh, God no..." The young woman whimpered. "Please... someone help me..." Her sobbing and heavy breathing just added more scents in the air. Fear. Anguish. Desperation. The meat and drink of the beast that hunted her. The pain was unbearable in her side so she leaned against a thick trunk. A rest, just a small rest. That's all she needed. Her breath was visible in the chilled Los Angeles night. She could hear it getting closer and closer. Running was futile and she knew it. Maybe death wasn't so bad... ,, The snow white wolf leaped on a fallen stump and launched itself into the air, spiraling around and like a space robot from a Michael Bay movie her form rippled and shifted until it's protean form resembled a lovely blonde woman with sparkling blue eyes who landed expertly on her newly formed, perfect feet. She cracked her neck from side to side. "Aaaaaaaand she nails the dismount!" She threw her arms back like an Olympic gymnast. "Oh, yeah. I am so treating myself to some Ben and Jerry's later, that was awesome." ,, "Why are you doing this to me?" The student sobbed, gripping her side. ,, Swara had been watching too many supernatural T.V. shows that featured a strong female lead lately. The brown leather vest she wore was a slight too small for her to better accentuate her breasts and the matching brown leather pants hugged her urathan booty perfectly. Yeah, she needed to lay off the Buffy for a bit. "Seriously!?" she looked the student of the campus with a cocked brow and half grin. "You're going with the innocent victim routine? Oh my gawd... dude... I'm new to this but not that new. Cut the crap psycho. I totally saw you kill those campers. Why do you guys think we're all as stupid as you? So, c'mon, cut the retarded crap and let's get on with this... I still have studying to do tonight and I have this track meeting tomorrow really early. Oh my gawd, you wouldn't believe this coach I have, he's like, really, really, cool but he always schedules these really early meetings where all we do is just go over an itinerary for the meets we already know are coming up." She paused for a breath. "Oh, and I have that Ben and Jerry's to pick up, and Jersey Shore is on in a little while. I'm totally addicted to that show, have you watched it? Oh, you should check it out, it is sweeeeeet, so much drama. It's great." ,, "Would you shut up!?!" The young woman was rubbing her temples, apparently her side didn't hurt so much anymore. "Jesus Christ you are fucking irritating. Is that your plan? Annoy me until I put a gun to my head and do the work for you? God..." ,, "Wow, pissy little duguthim, aren't you?" Swara-Ann raised her hand dismissively, scoffing at the student. "I'm just trying to be friendly before I force your colon and your head to trade locations. Chill, geez." ,, The woman head and appendages began to twitch with an unnatural speed and pattern, like those freaky ghosts do in the movies. Her abdomen was sucked in like she'd went from healthy to emaciated in the link of an eye. Bone cracked and sinew tore and rearranged itself in mere moments. Her spinal column suddenly pushed her head clean from her shoulders as her rib cage tore open in a splash of gore. Her fore arms unfolded, tearing through the skin like a preying mantis's scythe-like talons. Within a moment the poor young woman's body was flayed and all that remained was the physical manifestation of the evil spirit that inhabited her. Her neck was nothing more than gore and viscera, her head hovering high above her shoulders attached to a spine that was twice the size as normal, like a demonic giraffe. Skin sloughed off her new grotesque form in heaps of bubbling ooze, consumed by the essence of the transformation. ,, "I am so not cleaning that up." Swara-Ann mentioned pointing to the oozing mess. She took a few steps away as the creature finished it's final transformation. It was a risky and more strategically sound to simply strike while she had the opportunity, but there was no honor in that path. She would challenge this beast on equal terms. This honor was hers to claim. "You wanna play!?" She felt the wolf roiling up inside her. The adrenaline, the anticipation of glorious combat in Luna's name. This night with see the purge of one more evil. "Fine!" ,, She slammed her fists into the earth in a hammer blow and the impact triggered a change within her. She looked up like Bill Bixby at that pivotal moment in every Incredible Hulk show. He reyes were bleached white and her form began to grow. Muscles expanded, bones cracked at they lengthened and ligaments popped at they acclimated to her new size. Her coat returned as her clothes faded into her form, melding with her body. The Gauru within her was unleashed. Rage consumed her heart and the spirit of war was her companion. Her massive claws gripped the earth, scooping up handfuls of soil that left sizable holes in the ground. She rose to her feet, standing nearly twelve feet in height (few werewolves ever stood taller than ten) and offered a bellow that bordered on a roar and a howl. Her feet dug into the soil and she braced herself for the conflict. ,, She leapt forward with the rage of ten thousand angers in heart. ,, And they played. ,, Ten minutes later, for miles all around, Los Angeles could hear the howling cry for Luna to accept Swara's victory in her name. ,, ***** She hoped no one saw her. The pain was intense and she'd lost a lot of blood. but thankfully the wounds were knitting swiftly. She could barely walk though, often stumbling and her boots refused to gain traction in the damp alley with her legs wobbling like they did. She hated this part. The pain, the misery, the aching reminder that her power came with a price. She felt woozy, she'd lost a lot of blood by under estimating her opponent and should have simply stayed in the forest and healed, but Jersey Shore was on tonight... ,, She leaned against the back wall of the Golden Dragon, a Chinese restaurant close to campus, but she was too tired to continue on. Just a moment... just going to rest for a second... ,, Before she realized she slid down the wall, her knees finally giving way as her body craved the rest it needed to mend such grievous wounds. Slowly he eyes grew heavy and the world faded to black...
  12. It had been a long, long night for the students of Dalton. First theyd split up, with Sean and Swan heading to Denver and the rest sneaking around to one of the empty staff cottages. It was a tight fit; the cottages were designed to hold one comfortably by 1950s reckonings, and it forced the kids to be a little more comfortable than they liked. But they had running water, indoor plumbing and heat sources you didnt have to poke with sticks to keep working. When darkness had fallen, they had snuck out of their hiding cottage and gotten supplies. Sneaking in and out of places was easy for several of them, and by working with those that didnt, they were able to navigate the entire school. It was somewhat unnerving to be wary in a place that had once been completely safe for them. By the time the group at school had gotten their supplies back to their hiding place, Sean had gotten back from Denver. He was tired from the drive, and the other kids could tell he had been through the ringer emotionally as well. He also had a bag of his sisters clothing which he was trying to carry casually but it clearly bothered him. We have an early start. Ms. Dorns voice cut through the room and silenced the kids. Not because she was a teacher, but because she was making sense. Lets sleep tonight and ask twenty questions in the morning. The morning came too quickly; most of them had less than eight hours of sleep or poor sleep, and Ms. Dorn had woken them early. The group slipped back into Lancaster, up to the attic, avoiding the few students or staff up at this hour. Then, back in the attic, the crew relaxed and had breakfast, and time to talk before they left their world again.
  13. They had been at Heartstone for two days and two nights. The other students were settling in quite nicely as they waited for Sean to return from his her Quickening, becoming friends (or more) with the Chiderans, learning the ways of battle, and learning about their abilities. But for Frida, there was no learning to be had.. she had little desire to learn the ways of battle, though one of the Chideran warriors insisted that if she going to carry a dagger, she would at least learn how to handle it, and had taught her some of the basics. But from the Chiderans, there were no answers. She had treated the pictures for the Elders, and they had been grateful. But despite their inquiries on her behalf, there was no one who knew the ways of the undead, or of anyone who did. She saw glimpses of them, here and there, but unlike home, these spirits seemed less inclined to approach her directly, or to wander aimlessly amongst the Chiderans the way they had amongst the students of Dalton. Yet it seemed as if they filled her mind with images of their death, and as a result she slept little, waking frequently from nightmares filled with pain and sorrow. For she had quickly learned that no matter how bravely or heroically a Chideran (or anyone else for that matter) faced death, the rage of battle was still horrifying and frightening, and the pain often terrible to endure. On their third night, she rose from bed from her nightmares, dressing quietly and slipping out of the hut. It was easy to come and go as one pleased here - no matter how much Sylvia tried to keep watch, the vast majority of the Chiderans treated them as heroes - and subsequently, as adults. There was no guarding of rooms, no ten o'clock curfews here. And so Frida stepped out into the darkness, wrapped in her furs to keep off the chill that swept down into the valley. She received a brief nod from one or two of the warrior women standing guard, for even here at Heartstone, they were surrounded by the wild things of the forest. They had grown accustomed to her late-night wanderings, for without her art to occupy her or books with which to distract herself, she was at a loss as to how to distract herself otherwise. So she walked.. quietly, amongst the buildings, until she reached the edge of the village, where the walls of the valley began to rise up around them, soaking in the quiet of the night, and trying to figure out how to deal with the unwelcome infusion of memories that the ghosts of dead warrior women seemed to be forcing upon her, even as they kept their distance.
  14. The time at HeartStone had been refreshing for the Daltonites. With their status as heroes and allies, they found that Chideran hospitality was always more than enough to satisfy. Food, drinks, training and information was theirs for the asking. There were other kinds of hospitality, and for those Daltonites so inclined, company at night. Sean returned from his secret ritual as a full-blooded Chideran, whatever that meant. If nothing else, he seemed more comfortable in his skin – and with Swan. The kiss she’d given him on his return had made their status clear to everyone. Yithaja gave them one night to celebrate with Sean; early the next morning she roused them from bed and started back for DoorHold. The return trip was just as arduous and dangerous as the trip out, and everyone was relieved when the smoke of the city became clear. They were welcomed back again. It was made clear to them by the Pimszt that they were welcome to stay. It seemed that their choices were limited anyway; the door to Dalton would not open. It seemed that the kids might be in for an extended stay, but the Pimszt had an alternate suggestion; she had the Key to the Beast-Skinned Door. She was honor-bound to give it to only Ravi and Sylvia, but the two could bring others with them, if they wished. “Let me know what you’d like to do,” the Summer Shadow who led DoorHold told them, her hard body leaning casually against the wall of the longhall.
  15. Sean was woken by sheets getting yanked back from his body. The room had chilled overnight and it had been quite warm and cozy curled up with Swan in the bed. The sex had helped lull him into a deep sleep so it was all the more jarring when he’d actually been yanked out of sleep by the cold. “Up, Sean.” Vena’s voice was hard but not unkind; if she was bothered by seeing her naked daughter/son curled around another girl, she didn’t show it. “The time for fucking is done. The time for fighting has started.” “Mom!” Sean was a bright red flush – he wasn’t so much blushing as turning red everywhere. Swan on the other hand was only faintly tinged with indigo on her bare skin as she stretched luxuriously. The older Chideran threw Sean’s underclothes at him, shaking her head as he scrambled into the garments. “Sean, I know what you were doing in here. The whole hold knows what you were doing.” Vena was bemused as she added, “You weren’t shy when your Caramine was kissing your whiskered lips. We all heard you sing her skill.” “Please don’t say that!” “Bah.” Vena looked at Swan, who was casually dressing. “He gets it from his father. Human men are prudes.” “I’ve noticed a certain level of modesty from his father’s people.” Swan smiled at Sean. “Are human girls like that, too?” “Some.” Certainly enough of the ones I dated. “Vena, what’s the plan?” “Breakfast and then your Quickening begins. Savannah has packed your bag.” Vena’s smile softened. “Since she was your favorite sister, I didn’t think you’d mind.” “No, I don’t. What did she pack for me?” Vena shook her head. “I forget you don’t know. Some food, water, extra clothing. All that you’ll need for a Quickening. If you have questions, now’s the time.”
  16. The Chideran world is composed mostly of Amazonian woman. [More to come] Midnight Ice: Black hair, deep, ice-blue eyes, pale skin Summer Shadow: Blond hair, dark eyes, tanned skin Emerald Fire: Red hair, green eyes, pale skin, often freckles Burning Embers: Fiery red hair, pale green eyes, ebony skin Sunset Sands: Auburn hair, dark eyes, dusky skin Russet Thunders: Brown hair, brown eyes, bronze skin
  17. (This thread is back-dated to take place immediately after Boot-Scooting Boogie.) Aradia drank that shot, and the next one, with good grace. Her concerns about drinking too much seemed to have evaporated as the party went on. Her mother's crowd had been full of a different type of drinker - angry, bitter, mean drunks who liked to yell at act like assholes and bitch about every little thing. On top of the alcohol there had often been drugs, and when not sitting around bitching about life, Aradia had often come home to find her mother too stoned or high to function, much less laugh or have a good time. For good or ill, the pretty young acrobat was having too much fun to monitor herself tonight. "Five of diamonds - get me some beer, bitch!!!" Aradia groaned as the rest of the players started chanting-- "Beer bitch! Beer bitch! BEER BITCH!" --and tossed her cards down onto the table, standing up with a small stumble. "Okay, okay! Beer bitch, I got it. Okay. But, I can't carry it all myself.. I need ash - assish - assistance!" She steadied herself on the chair, and glanced around the table, briefly. August was out - she'd was probably only still upright because of Lucien, and that took him out as well. The pasty librarian-looking dude looked like he couldn't carry lift a backpack, much less carry liquor. Ari's eyes paused for a moment on the big guy with the tattoos - Finn? - but it was Astra's shameless flirting that caught her attention, the obvious way she laughed as she leaned closer, showing off her assets to the silver-eyed stud that made Aradia want to switch games.. from poker, to smack-a-ho. "Hey, you - Dec. Yeah - you. Pretty eyes. C'mon.. be beer bitch with me." Without waiting, she turned and walked into the kitchen, confident that he would follow. Dec arched a brow in amusement, but he stood up and followed, despite Astra's pout.. after all, how could you turn a demand request like that down? By the time he made it into the kitchen, she had the fridge door open, and was shuffling things around inside, looking for more cold beer for those who were drinking it. But she glanced up at him, a half-annoyed, half-amused smirk on her lips. "You guys get a kick out of that shit, don't you? When those girls fawn all over you like a cat in heat? I've never met one guy - NOT ONE - who didn't lap that shit up like sweetened cream. Tell me, are ALL men that easy, pretty eyes?"
  18. February 13, 2012, 11:30 p.m. “You’re gonna lose your shirt,” August threatened as they cleared the dishes from the late dinner. Her internship had her keeping odd hours, and fitting her workouts around the demands of her last semester was always interesting. “You say that every week, frail,” Declan chided her as he started to run the water for the dishes. “And yet, I always get my fill of the peanuts.” “This time will be different,” the woman insisted, shoving the sleeves of her shirt up her arms. The spaghetti and meatballs were long gone; August tried to make enough for leftovers, but every time they had a post-training dinner, Declan ate every scrap. “Washing or drying?” “Washin’,” he said and plunged his hands into the water. “I made it hot.” “You always make it hot,” August snorted as she grabbed a towel. A second later she blushed, then blushed harder as the werewolf unleashed one of his slow sexy chuckles. “Hey, you wanna get spanked, I have no problem delivering,” he told her, automatically washing the dish in his hands. He rinsed and handed the steaming plate to her, adding, “In poker or anything else.” August flushed again, taking the plate and drying it. “Not this time,” she vowed. “I’m winning tonight.” “Well, better hurry up and get to it then,” Declan said, doubling the speed of his dish-washing. They kept of the light banter as they cleaned the kitchen and wiped the table. Then Declan went to get the cards while August located the peanut tin. When the werewolf came into the kitchen, August was holding the tin and frowning. “We have a problem,” she said. “What’s that?” he asked, about two seconds before he remembered having a craving for nuts a couple of days ago. “No peanuts.” “No, three peanuts,” she said, smirking a little. “You ate all but three? Really? And put the tin back with three peanuts in it?” “I only ate what I wanted,” he defended sheepishly, racking his brain for appropriate stakes. August was thinking, too, but her mind was going somewhere different. “Alright,” she said, then drew a deep breath. “Strip poker it is, then.” She colored at the look he gave her and said faintly, “Unless you have a better idea? I mean, with two people, it’s gonna be a short game…” She rather hoped he didn't think of anything better. Tomorrow was Valentines, and being alone on that day was really pathetic. Sure, she, Oneca, Araida and Kaitlin would go picking up men, but that wasn’t the same. August didn’t want to pick up strange men for meaningless sex. She’d rather have meaningless sex with Declan. Hell, she’d rather have sex with Declan altogether. She knew it. He knew it. Only that little sliver of doubt was holding her back and on the eve of Valentine's Day, it wasn't enough to stop her.
  19. February 19, 2012 “Out of bed!” The voice snapped through Imriel’s brain, jogging him awake. He was on his feet before his eyes opened, so he was already halfway awake before he saw the time. His mentor and roommate was annoyingly awake, fully dressed and ready to go. He was still wearing his tank top and flannel pants. Whisker liked it a little colder, so he adapted. “Whisker, it’s three in the morning,” he said, realized he’d said it in slurred Japanese, and repeated himself in English. “Yep, and we have work to do,” she informed him. She grabbed his head and he felt something flow through him. Sleepiness fled as she stepped back, grinning. “You might want to call into work now.” -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- I’m going to lose my fucking job, Imriel sighed as he drove down Foothill Boulevard. This was the third time he’d had to call in since the start of the year, and that wasn’t a good track record. Unfortunately, Seers didn’t wait for convenient times to act out. Whisker pointed at a parking spot on the side of the road and Imriel snagged it. As he parallel parked, she pulled out a tiny spy glass and peered through it. When he shut off his engine, she passed it to him. It looked like a run-down apartment complex of a dozen buildings. The sign out front said it was Last Foundations Retirement Home, but it looked like it had been retired. The building that Whisker pointed out wouldn’t have caught his eye, as it was a dirty, broken-down building in a row of dirty, broken-down buildings. A second look revealed signs that she was right; all of the windows were still in place and the doors was firmly locked rather than just nailed shut or kicked in. According to Whisker’s intel, there was a Seer cell operating in the building. The word was that they had captured supernatural creatures and were running tests on them. This could not be allowed, not just because it allowed others to possibly learn about magic but because it was wrong. It was something his mother would do, and so when he’d learned about it, he’d been as ready as Whisker was to kick some Seer ass. Imriel sighed as he glanced at the dashboard and saw it was now just after four-thirty. Whatever Whisker had done to him had been like a Red Bull, but that didn’t mean he wanted to be up right now. But his mentor had a lead on Seer activity and this time it sounded far more important than the usual Seer bullshit. It sounded like something needed to deal with immediately. Whisker waited until he’d had a good look before she asked, “Did you see the light? On the first floor of that building?” “No,” he admitted, not at all surprised. Whisker’s eyes were much sharper than his. “They painted over the windows, but they didn’t go a perfect job,” she said, her sexy voice serious and smug. She really liked having anything she could hold over the Seers, no matter how trivial. “I can see a spot on one of the buildings.” Her exotically-shaped gray eyes focused on him. “Where’s that friend of yours?” “She’s not my friend,” he said absently, still scanning the building’s black windows. “She’s just another mage I know.” “I wish we had more Arrows,” Whisker sighed. Imriel agreed, but Calypso had been the only one to answer her phone when he’d called around for backup. “I’m going to get some eyes on the inside.” Imriel nodded as she hopped out of the car and slipped over to a shadow. He watched, but only saw her kneeling. A moment later, she returned, looking smug. “A rat’s going to check it out for us. We just have to wait.” Whisker was silent, then asked impatiently, “When will she get here?” “When she gets here,” Imriel replied, used to her impatience. She’d wait, though not happily. And she’d make sure he was unhappy about having to wait, too. “She has the address, and she said she was coming.” -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Thad groaned and pulled the pillow over his head as the beast roared again. He was trying to sleep damnit, and he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to do that when that monster was making so much noise. The spell soundproofing the apartment complex kept people outside from hearing the noise, but he could hear it and he needed some god damned rest! “Fucking furry monster!” he snarled as he rolled out of his cot and stormed for the door. The noise was even louder when he opened the door that had once separated the studio apartment from its bathroom. This room mirrored the other bathroom, which had been left intact for their use. The far wall of this bathroom, along with all the facilities, was long gone and emptied to make a storage room. The opening led to another former studio apartment. This one was now a large kitchen and dining room for the six-man team who lived here. Emilio was standing at the butcher’s block, chopping celery. The ingredients for an omelet were arrayed around him. The former Mexican was the best cook and usually pressed into service for cooking. “I haven’t gotten any sleep,” Thad bitched to the older man, stopping to watch him. “No one is,” Emilio said, looking up at Thad through salt-and-pepper hair. “I told her we should kill the hombre-lobo.” Thad winced. “You and everyone else, Milo.” The Biologist was super creepy, and when Emilio had told her to kill the werewolf, she’d just said ‘No’ and no one had said anything else. Just that single no had made his skin crawl. He tried to avoid The Biologist with her staring eyes and face that never, ever showed a single expression. He preferred DeathFire, sorta. The guy had the corniest name ever, but after seeing him make black fire from his hands, Thad had never ever laughed at the name again, even privately. He looked like nothing; just some punk with stringy hair and the tendency to wear ripped t-shirts that had band names on them. All the bands had Deth or Death in the title, so at least DeathFire kept to a theme. He was scary too, but not in the testicle-constricting way that The Biologist was. DeathFire was terrifying because of what Thad had seen him do; he didn’t ever want to see what the Biologist could do. Thad once again wished he’d never answered the ad for a vet tech specialist working with exotic animals. A wealthy employer with a private collection who needed round-the-clock vet techs and were willing to pay were few and far in-between. Only once he’d taken the job did he learn why he’d gotten it: he saw magic without freaking out. DeathFire had shown off his fire-tricks, The Biologist had stared – and then things had gotten weird. He was so not suited for this. He was a vet tech, for fuck’s sake, not a… whatever you called people who looked after fucking werewolves. He’d been watching Emilio prepare breakfast when another roar tore through the kitchen. Scowling, Thad pushed himself off the counter and walked over to one of the industrial fridges in the room. This one was the one for food, he knew, not the other one – that was a mistake you only made once. Reaching inside, he pulled out a raw steak and a beer. “Whatcha doin’?” Emilio asked, watching him. “Bribery,” Thad explained and stomped over to the next door. This door led to a library of sots; the room held bookshelves and the Biologist’s desk. Thad wove through them, crossing through another set of former bathrooms, this one with only support studs left. The autopsy room was next and Thad winced at the smell. A man was on one of the tables, his chest and other parts splayed open. Yvette, a slim, petite black woman, was examining something from the dead man that Thad deliberately didn’t look at as he stalked past. He was supposed to be working on animals, damnit! Yvette glanced up at him as he walked by, her dark skin clashing with the blue hospital coverings she wore. “What’s up, sugar?” she asked, glancing at his hands. “Can’t sleep,” he snarled as he entered the next studio apartment. In this one, both bathrooms had been removed again to make room for six cages. Thad’s steps slowed as he looked at the newest occupants of the cages, freshly arrived last night. Of course, then they’d all been unconscious and blissfully quiet. The first cage on the right held a shivering woman. She was actually more of a girl, younger than he, at twenty-nine, would have been comfortable dating. Even with that discomfort, he admitted that the girl was blonde and gorgeous, with a body that would not stop. She was also high out of her mind, shivering and muttering softly to herself. The first cage on the left held a young man; he was in his early twenties with short black hair and pale green eyes. There was something unsettling about that one, and Thad glanced away. There were two empty cages, then the last cage or the right held the source of the noise. Thad’s lips curled in an angry grimace as he understood the cause of the monster’s outrage. Roman, Yvette’s half-brother, was stabbing at the beast through his bars with dowel rods. The monster was snapping them, but Roman just picked up another. Thad considered shoving Roman against the bars and letting the monster do as he would to him; the bars were too close for the werewolf to get his muzzle through, but he could rend the man with claws. Thad settled for kicking Roman in the backside. That was bad enough; Roman spun and glared down at him. Unlike Yvette, Roman was big and ugly. Yvette had been hired for her medical skills; Roman had been hired because he broke things. “You lookin’ for hurt, Tad?” he grumbled, his voice like rocks grinding. “I’m looking to get some fucking sleep,” he snarled, ignoring Roman getting his name wrong again. “Leave it alone so it’ll calm down.” “It was making noise before I started,” Roman protested. “Stop it,” Thad snapped, “or I’ll tell The Biologist what you’re doing to her experiments. If she wanted you to be riling them up, she’d say so. Now get.” The threat of The Biologist was enough. Roman scowled, but he pushed past Thad, bouncing him off one of the empty cages. “Asshole,” Thad muttered when he was sure that Roman was far enough away he wouldn’t hear. Now alone with the werewolf, Thad tossed the steak between the bars. “Truce?” he asked, then held up the beer. “I’ll give this to you, too, if you agree. I just want some damned sleep.” Lips curled back from teeth as long as Roman’s fingers. “I know you can understand me. Just nod and you get the beer.”
  20. December 22, 2011 August was not in a good mood. Despite the festive nature around her, she had no desire to participate. She was alone in this mood; the other film TAs were excited to be shutting down for the semester. All their cheer made her feel even sorrier for herself. This wasn’t entirely unusual for her; she usually dreaded the upcoming mandatory family-time. Thanksgiving was bad enough but Georgie would be home for Christmas. It was always harder seeing her black-haired, green-eyed cousin. Georgie was the same age as August, and they could pass for sisters. It was like seeing what should have been. And there was Declan. Two days ago, he’d dropped her off at her house after their workout, chipper and eager for his trip into the mountains. August doubted he’d even noticed that she’d been brooding and silent, already missing him. He’d given her an odd look when she’d hugged him, but said nothing as he climbed in his truck and headed northeast. Sighing in disgust, August tried not to think about the handsome, brooding werewolf anymore. Sadly, he was like the elephant in the room, albeit much sexier: the harder she tried not to think about him, the more she found herself daydreaming. She missed him a lot, there was no doubt, and she’d expected that. What she hadn’t expected was the missing being an actual ache in her heart. The depth of her unexpected emotions were scaring the crap out of her. Do not fall in love with him! she ordered her mind, pretty sure she wasn’t there. Yet. And it could also be somewhat innocent: she could love him non-romantically. August was sure that was possible, assuming they could ever get past all the lust that tangled up her head. So in truth, all she really knew was that she was definitely very fond of him, enough that his absence was noticeable. Her phone rang and she checked, a wild hope that it was him calling to ask for a tow or saying something had come up and he was coming back. It wasn’t him; it was Aunt Molly. “And so it begins,” she muttered before thumbing the call to active. “Hey,” she said with more warmth than she was feeling. “What’s up?” “I just wanted to know when you were coming over, honey.” Aunt Molly’s voice was slightly too high pitched for a woman of her age, making her sound like a teen when she was over fifty. “Mom is already here, and Tracy and her brood are due at six.” August glanced at the clock; it was just after three. Less than three hours to hell. “Uh… between five and six.” She heard the disappointment without Molly saying a word and added, “I have work at the lab that I have to finish first.” “Sure sweetie,” Aunt Molly said and had August not known the woman, she’d have never heard her unhappiness. “Just be sure you bring a side dish, ok?” She’d planned to make roasted veggies but now remembered she hadn’t bought any of the groceries. Fuck! I am the worst niece ever. “I will,” August promised, resolving to get something on her way over. A nice veggie tray from the store should be sufficient.
  21. June, 1992. Somewhere in Montana "He was always striving to attain it. The life that was so swiftly expanding within him, urged him continually toward the wall of light. The life that was within him knew that it was the one way out, the way he was predestined to tread." He didn't like the truck. His uncle had explained that it was necessary. That the machine was no different in essence than a rifle or a stove. But Declan didn't like the truck. It smelled funny, made too much noise, and for a six year-old boy who hadn't even seen or heard of an automobile before his uncle had retrieved it from the old shed and spent yesterday repairing it, the contraption was terrifying. "Don't fret, boy." His uncle told him without real impatience as he glanced sideways to where the dark-haired boy was moodily kicking at the underside of the dash. "You got to get used to riding these things. They make life's journeys a little faster and easier." "Why can't we walk?" Declan didn't quite whine: his uncle was a kind enough man in a rough-hewn way, but didn't tolerate whining. The odd cuff around the back of the head had quickly cured the boy of that. But his question was definitely accusatory. "I don't care how far it is. I want to walk to Livvy. I can walk to any place." "It's Libby, Dec. And yeah, you're a good strong walker. And yeah, we would get there... by evening." His uncle grinned through a short dark beard streaked with grey, pale blue eyes twinkling. "All the shops would have shut, and you and me would be stuck in Libby for the night." He reached over and ruffled the child's hair, prompting a mutinous glower from his nephew's silver eyes. Bob Perault was a little taken aback. Damn, last time I saw anyone with that look, his dad kicked my ass. "Don't you look at me like that, boy." he said, forcing a growl into his voice. "You got to get a lot bigger and whole lot meaner before you can throw looks like that one around, goddamnit." The tone worked, and Declan dropped his gaze and mumbled an apology under his breath. Bob reached out and laid a hand on the kid's shoulder. "Is it that bad, Dec? Look outta the window, kiddo. Ever go this fast before?" His question roused the boy from his sulk, and Declan clambered up on the bench seat and watched the world go past, face pressed to the window as he forgot his gripe in the way children do. The rest of the trip was more harmonious. The kid was a quiet sort anyway. Apart from the occasional question about something he saw, he would just watch the landscape blur past. Bob privately wondered what he'd do on the day that he couldn't face down his nephew. It was coming, sure as snow in winter. Pulling the truck into a parking space outside the store, Bob got out. "You stay with the truck, Dec. It needs watching." Declan's disappointment at being left behind was softened by being given something important to do. He started to get out, but his uncle shook his head. "Stay inside the truck, Dec. Folks around here aren't always friendly. If anyone causes trouble honk the horn, okay?" The large man indicated the horn button, and Declan nodded. "It'll make a big noise, and I'll come running out." Declan nodded again, then watched his uncle walk into the general store. He spent some time watching the street, but Libby was a small town and there was not much to see. After a few minutes, however, a small knot of local children gathered to stare at the beat-up old truck and the pale-eyed boy staring out at them from inside it. Eventually, a group consensus achieved, they approached the truck behind a chubby ten year old wearing an orange t-shirt and faded jeans. "Hey!" The leader, a kid called Joe, said, looking up at the open window that Declan was currently staring out of. He knew how this was supposed to go: harass the new kid, see how they fitted into the pecking order. But this weird-eyed kid didn't answer, he just stared at Joe like some kind of creepy dummy. "Are you a retard or something?" Joe asked, not entirely unkindly. It wasn't nice to pick on retards, after all. "He looks like one." giggled Steve, one of Joe's friends. The strange kid just tilted his head to one side as if considering Steve, then answered in a soft voice. "What's a retard?" Joe blinked and glanced at his friends as though seeking some sort of advice, then looked back at Declan. "Wow. You must be real young to not know that." He said patronisingly. The weirdo frowned at that, looking defiant. "I'm six!" He said with some heat, falling for one of the oldest pieces of bait in the schoolyard fishing compendium. "Oooh! Siiiiix!" Steve giggled again. "Are you a big boy now?" The other kids laughed. Declan felt his teeth clench at that sound, shrill mockery and humor at his expense causing his hands to grip the window's edge harder. "I'm plenty big enough to do lots of things I bet you can't! I can track, and hunt, and one day my uncle will teach me to shoot!" Declan said with anger in his voice now at their continued laughter. "Which is more than you all can do. You stink so bad that you'd scare the game away!" "I don't stink!" Joe stepped up to the truck door, clenching pudgy fists as he looked up into Declan's silver eyes. "You come down here and say that to my face, or are ya chicken?" Declan was torn now; on the one hand, his uncle had told him to stay with the truck and honk the horn in case of trouble. On the other hand this fat boy, with his soft features and smelly breath, was calling him chicken. The inner conflict didn't last long. It couldn't. Something inside him whispered that a challenge had been made, and something in Declan's soul rose to it, teeth bared. He jumped out of the truck window with a little growl, landing on Joe's upturned face and sending them both crashing to the floor. The yelp of pained surprise from Joe stifled the noise of the other kids as Declan rolled and came to his feet in a crouch, not even concerned about the grazes and cuts on his arms and bare legs under the shorts. The older boy struggled to his feet less gracefully, touching one finger gingerly to a bloody lip. He looked at the blood and glared daggers at the unflinching boy crouched before him. "You're DEAD!" With that shrill battlecry ringing in the sleepy main street air, Joe rushed at the wiry kid with his arms outstretched. Growling under his breath, Declan swayed to one side before launching himself at Joe's ample midsection. They went down in a tangle, punching and grappling with each other. Size and experience was on Joe's side, however, and despite the wiry strength and ferocity of his opponent, the older boy gained the upper hand and was soon kneeling on Declan's chest. "Give in?" Joe was sweating and breathing hard from the effort of the fight. Declan's answer to the civilised question was as simple as it was primal. A fist-sized stone, held in a small hand, came up and smacked the larger boy on the side of the head. Crying out in pain, Joe rolled off Declan and tried to get back to his feet, shaking his head to clear it. The watching kids saw the strange boy roll to his feet in one smooth motion, a killing light in his silver eyes as he stalked towards the still-kneeling Joe, taking a firmer grip on his rock. He raised it high, teeth bared in a snarl... Only to have it snatched from him by a large hand. Growling, he whirled on the interloper, only to receive a cuff that sent him sprawling as Bob Perault tossed the rock to one side. "Stay down there, Dec." Though he didn't sound angry there was steel in his uncle's voice, and the boy heeded it and stayed put as Bob helped Joe to his feet and examined the lump on the boy's skull. "You're alright, kid. Get some ice on that and you'll be fine." He told the other kids to get Joe home, then turned and moved over to the prone Declan. Squatting down next to him, he reached out and ruffled the boy's hair. "Let's get you home, boy. You need some lessons on handling your temper in a fight so's you don't kill folks." Declan took the offered hand and was pulled to his feet. "You also need lessons on what "Stay in the truck" means, dammit all ta hell!" His uncle growled at him before walking away. Scuffing his shoes on the ground, Declan followed. Sure as snow in winter, Bob thought as he opened the truck door, a chill running down his spine as he remembered the look in Declan's eyes. I just hope it ain't the death of me.
  22. February 9, 2012 August jerked into sudden wakefulness, blinking at the sunlight-bathed wall opposite her bed. Green eyes rolled wearily upward and she groaned and shut them again when she saw it was seven in the morning. Why the hell was she up at this hour? A second later, the culprit identified itself with a muted buzz. It was her cell phone, buried under yesterday's jeans. Mumbling curses at the caller, August fished out the offending machine. "What?" she snarled as soon as she'd thumbed it open. "August, are you alright?" The sheer concern in Madeline's voice removed August's anger. "Yeah, I was asleep," the brunette said, sitting upright and pulling her knees to her chest. She hadn't meant to put so much emphasis on that word. "Oh, what time is it? Eight, which means its seven for you. Oh, hon, I'm sorry," Madeline said apologetically. "I just woke up and immediately called you." "Alright... apology accepted," August said, aware that she was being way too nice but too well socialized to stop herself. "Now, why did you call?" "I think I had a bad dream," Madeline said. "It must have been. A ghost was warning me that you were in danger." August swallowed. She'd seen ghosts here and there; it'd gotten better for her once she'd accepted them. They'd ignored her for the most part and she'd ignored them. It had worked well for her to this point. The thought that it might change soon was disheartening and terrifying. Why couldn't they leave her alone? "But you think... it's a dream?" Madeline paused. "I think so. I was asleep and usually ghosts only contact me when they're awake." "Alright, so a bad dream," August said. Her phone beeped and she pulled it away from her ear enough to see that she had a call from Remy. "Madeline, Remy's calling. I should take this." Even if I don't want to take it. "Just be careful, please," the older woman said, the relief that had been in her voice being replaced by worry. "Ask him to call me as soon as he's done with you." "I will, bye!" August said and switched over to catch Peter. "Hey, there. What's up?" "August, I need some help," Remy said with little preamble. "I have some associates who have gone missing. They were filming a haunting in a mental asylum - one of those reality show things - and have all gone missing. Given the setting, this calls for your particular talents." "Wait, you want me to go into a haunted asylum?!" August barked, her green eyes growing wide. "Do you think I'm dumb or suicidal?" "There are people missing," Remy said with quiet intensity. "They may not have been the smartest people, but they were decent. Jack's got a little girl and a wife. Duke's his mother's only living child. Renee is a film student at the Academy of Art. Neil's -" "Stop it," August sighed. "I get the idea. Tell me everything you know." "The show is called Grave Encounters," Remy said immediately. August could hear the relief in his voice. "They were filming their seventh episode. The usual pattern is that they get locked in the haunted area overnight. The caretaker was supposed to come back and let them out in the morning. When he opened the door, he found some of their equipment in the lobby but no people. He hollared for them but became upset when he saw one of the lights was broken. You know the big lights?" "Yeah, I'm a film student," August reminded him. "Those are pricey." "The caretaker was concerned by this," Remy told her. "So he called me." "Why you?" "Because he was instructed to do so," Remy replied. "If there were any problems, he was to call me immediately. It will be another twelve hours before we can file a missing persons report and I fear for their safety if we wait that long." "So you want to go now," August sighed. She could call Declan and ask him to go with her so she wouldn't be alone. Thank god this was a Saturday and he had the day off. They'd planned to go hiking up into the mountains together. Not as a date. No, no... just two friends hiking together for the day. "Hey, Dec, I know we were supposed to go kick about in nature today. How about hunting down idiots in a haunted asylum instead?" "Yes and I need a medium." He didn't see her wince; she hated that term. It made her sound hokey, and she wasn't comfortable with having that label applied to her. "I've got two other people going with me..." His voice trailed off into a sigh. "And if I don't include Oneca, she'll set me on fire." Shit... August wasn't sure if Declan would be alright working with other people. She knew what he was and that was awkward enough. More people knowing wouldn't please him. "Uh, I had plans, but I'll cancel them." "Thank you, I appreciate that," Remy said sincerely. "I'll be by to pick you up in thirty minutes." "Right. See you," August sighed as she hung up. She immediately called Declan, sure that unlike her he would actually be up at this ungodly hour. He was much better then her about maintaining a 'normal' schedule, ironically. "Hey, you," she said, smiling involuntarily as he answered. "Sorry to call so early, but something's come up. I wanted to yet you know that I have to cancel on you sooner rather than later. Maybe we can go tomorrow?"
  23. [Late evening, 25 Jan 2012] I have got to be out of my mind. As she looked westward from the edge of her territory, a light and cool wind wafting inland from the coast, Sarah considered once more what she planned to do, how dangerous it was... and yet, how necessary. The land to the west of here belonged to someone else. And try as she may, nobody else came to mind for the advice she badly needed. Had this been territory back home, Sarah would have shifted to her wolf-form and let out a howl of greeting. But this was the middle of suburban Los Angeles, not a half-dozen blocks from UCLA. People noticed a wolf howling in their backyards. Nor should she leave a note on a tree or rock and hope it might be noticed. People took care of their yards here, and stray paper tacked up wouldn't last long. With one last look around, Sarah stepped out of her territory and into that of the werewolf she knew only as Owns-The-Night. Her neighbor. --- Half an hour of sniffing and scouting and furtive glances later, the Dead-Wolf stood before the door of an unassuming and tidy little house on a corner directly across the street from campus. The signs were unmistakable; the scent was strongest here, and there were tell-tale marks on the trees that were as loud a message of "Stay Away!" as anything man had ever made. Unfortunately, staying away would leave her no better off than she'd been these past several months. With no small amount of trepidation, she reached up with a cold, dead hand and knocked on the door of the wolf's den.
  24. {December 9th, 2011} They gathered in the old dorm common area and they waited. Every thirty seconds (or so it seemed), Monica called someone at site administration to see if the grades were posted. Abigail had returned to the Study Group a few sessions ago. Seems she caught her line backer boyfriend getting too friendly ... with another guy. It wasn't the homosexuality that bothered her. It was the fact that she had been used as window dressing for his lie. Relationships are founded on truths, but it's the lies that hold them together. Boyfriend lied at the foundation part. Mikio was a nervous wreck. She had the highest GPA of the lot of us, but she was driven to not just succeed, but to come out on top. Randy was ambivalent about her discomfort, but she had carried the rest of them through to Finals. Shadow looked at her. "You'll do fine. You always do." Mikio stared at Shadow, half way between rage and tears. "Mikio, Chandler and Kong have nothing on you. You skunked them on the practice exam, and that's with Kong cheating," Randy interjected. Kong was half-Chinese and half the people in his house spoke it. He had barely failed being automatically credited with this class on the entrance exam. Chandler was a different monkey. He was just freaking brilliant. This assholes goal had nothing to do with Mikio. He planned to have the best GPA in UCLA's history. Mikio's competition didn't even register with him. Randy's comment seemed to mollify her somewhat. Shadow gave him a look and a shrug of the shoulders. "Man, I think I screwed up," said Laura, who was dealing with the stress by being face down in her laptop. "I totally lost in doing verb tense and my essay was a mess." "Well," said Randy, "let's go over your answers. We can see what went wrong." Laura looked up and glared at him. "I already did." "Let's do it again." Randy pulled out his tablet and began going over the words he had on the test. Laura didn't come on board until the third word, but after that, she was on a roll. When finished, he had Abigail, Laura, and Shadow distracted enough that Mikio's pressure level was allowed to fall as well. Monica was still hopeless. Finally her call came through. Monica immediately downloaded the image of the message board to the group. Everyone began scrolling down the page, looking for their grades. Monica and Mikio found theirs the fastest. Mikio began jumping up and down in the air. "I did it!" she screamed, "I did it! I did it!" Monica's response was a bit different. She fell back into one of the overstuffed chairs and let out a burst of breath. Randy looked over to her. "How well did you do, M?" he asked. Hyper-Bunny looked over at him, first confused as if she didn't know him and then with a wicked grin. "I passed it!" she squealed. She jumped up and did her best Mikio-Just-Aced-the-Exam impersonation. A little late, Randy saw her leaping at him. She landed in his lap and began kissing him - with tongue. With an internal sigh, the Magus went along with it. He could feel Shadow seething at them both. Then Monica began dancing in his lap, butt wiggling all around and breasts in his face.
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