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World of Darkness: Attrition - Reunion [Fin]

Sarah Dead-Wolf

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September 5, 2011 9:00 p.m.

From a distance, people who lived and breathed and carried on with their all-too mortal lives in the neighborhood surrounding Holmby Park could easily believe that the animal that loped around the area was a large dog, maybe a Husky mix of some sort. They'd long since given up on Animal Control ever removing it... and given how it had chased out the occasional criminal element that leaked this far into suburbia, many were now fine leaving well enough alone.

The animal was aware of this general acceptance, and as such didn't really have much concern about patrolling in wolf form. It was handy; all those scents, impossible for a normal nose to distinguish, were a godsend when trying to keep her territory safe and secure from those things she preferred to keep away.

In theory, that list included spirits. In practice, there wasn't a whole lot she could do about them unless they chose to manifest... and that was rare.

So it was with particular interest that Sarah watched this night as a "bird" that chirped in the language of that alien, otherworldly race flitted through the trees with aggravation, a "bird" that didn't even smell of this world. She couldn't exactly call out to it - even if not in her lupine shape, her mouth had never managed to get around the words of the spirits properly - but she could certainly hear its annoyance. Right now, that grief seemed directed at someone sleeping on a bench.

With a quick look around to make sure that mortal eyes were not watching, Sarah shifted back to the form of her birth, and with lean denim-clad legs stalked closer to this odd little scene.

The spirit-jay was making a fair bit of complaint, and finally positioned itself on a branch directly above the sleeping form.With Sarah watching with amazement, it proceeded to mark its displeasure as birds everywhere had seemingly done to cars, hats and other convenient targets for ages. As it did, it uttered a word that caught the Dead-Wolf's rapt attention: "Urdaga". Then, apparently having sated its anger, the jay vanished in that peculiar way of creatures with no true connection to this world.

The word, however, spoke volumes. Those werewolves known as the Forsaken were not loved by most spirits; the ancient murder of Father Wolf lingered long in the memories of those strange beings. Sarah scrutinized the still sleeping - and now dropping-spattered - form. Underneath the stink of filth that accompanied homeless the world over - as well as the reek of alcohol that seemed the companion of so many - there was an undeniable and absolutely definitive musk, one beyond anything a mere human could produce. It was the scent of the wolf.

Swearing to herself, Sarah shook her head. It wasn't like the markings at the bounds were unclear; any Uratha with a nose or eyes would have noticed that this was someone's territory. This one apparently just didn't care.

With a cold hand, she reached to shake him to the beginnings on wakefulness.

"You're sleepin' in my territory, bub."

Groggy and annoyed, the itinerant Forsaken replied, "Your territory my ass..."

Sarah scowled, and took an aggressive stance even as the big drunk pulled himself up, first to sitting and then to a slightly swaying stand. "Take a look around. Hell, take a smell around. Think I didn't sniff you out, that I don't recognize one of the People? Those are my markers, you fucking drunk. Now who the hell are you?"

"Draw a number and get in line," replied the interloper. "I'll deal with you once I'm done with all the other fuckers who are trying to make my day." This was followed by somewhat drunken but still well-defined growl that could only be taken as challenge.

Her anger (and the dank thing deep within that her kind called the Beast) burned hotter, and Sarah allowed her fangs to extend, even as claws appear on her fingertips. "Let's try this again. Who the fuck are you, and why the fuck are you sleepin' in my territory?"

The drunk replied, managing decent sarcasm even though the booze-fueled haze, "Oh shit... I'm fucking tired with you Uratha assholes. So this is your territory? Nice place, really cozy..."

Sarah's jaw dropped, a look of genuine shock springing up even over her anger. "Wait... you think I'm Uratha?" A full-throated laugh followed. "I'd take it as a compliment if you weren't plastered. Sweet Luna, do you even use that thing?" she added, pointing at his nose.

"So you're not Uratha? Why fucking care about territory? Listen, I just wanna sleep, I had a shitty day... no make that a shitty week... ach, fuck this. You wanna fight over this stoopid park bench. Be my guest." Mr. Uninvited took up a classic bare-knuckled fighting stance; the image of an Irish bulldog came unbidden to Sarah's mind, and she shook her head to clear away both the image and the surprise of being so badly misidentified.

The Dead-Wolf adopted a fighting stance of her own, and it was brutally obvious that it lent toward knuckles that were anything but bare. "I fucking care because I'm a fucking Dead-Wolf, you brain trust. An' I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut how shitty your day, week or goddamned decade has been. I asked you a simple question: who the fuck are you? It's a question I get to ask and you get to answer, because you're in my fucking territory!"

The inevitable fight was fast in starting, and just as fast in ending. The Uratha made a drunken lunge, a massive roundhouse that would have absolutely sundered the broadside of a barn had one been obliging enough to present itself. For her part, Sarah never planted the claws she'd shown; there were largely there for distraction, as she wasn't about to use those weapons on one of "The People". Instead, she delivered a swift and powerful kick to those tender bits that any man - in any form - tries to keep from harm's way. As this particular man doubled over in screaming agony at the blow, she grabbed his greasy hair in her claws and brought his face down to intersect at speed with a very hard, very tough knee.

She had to move quickly once he was out cold; with werewolves, it wasn't a state that lasted long, even with the sheer amount of alcohol he had to have coursing through his veins. Sarah dragged the limp, heavy form into a dense clump of bushes that passed for cover in the park. A couple of plastic zip-ties bound his hands; they wouldn't last long, she knew, but it would could give her a few precious moments between him waking and attacking. That done, she began rifling through his pockets, smiling when a well-worn wallet was produced.

"All right, Mr. Dumb-Shit. Let's find out who you are...."

The smug expression fell completely away after she opened the billfold, and for a very long time she simply stared at the contents.

On one side, a very old, very crumpled photograph looked back at her. It was, against all chance and probability, a photo she knew well. Two children of perhaps seven years each, a boy and a girl, both red-haired and smiling, looked out at her from the mists of yesteryear, just as they'd done from above the mantle of her childhood home.

On the other side, a Massachusetts drivers licence showed the man's face during happier (or at least more clean-shaven) times beside an impossible name.

Sarah closed her eyes, took a ragged and unnecessary breath, and opened them again, half-expecting the contents of the wallet to be gone. But from both childhood and manhood, her brother Shane continued to look back.

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