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z-August Turner

World of Darkness: Attrition - Grave Encounters

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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?"

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"Somethin's come up?" Dec asked, curiousity breaking through his usual stoic demeanour. Something about August's voice prompted him into further questions. "What's come up?"

August hesitated. On the one hand, having Declan along was like having the Marines at her back, at least from the sense of safety and confidence he imparted. On the other hand Remy, Oneca, and two others probably from Oneca's clubhouse of the weird would be there too. Remy and Oneca both knew something was up with Dec. Remy because he could sense it, and Oneca because Remy had told her. August had managed to fend off Oneca's polite attempts to find out more, but she knew her friend: if there was a mystery to do with 'weird stuff', Oneca was all over it.

"It's weird stuff." she began, then gave Dec a briefer version of what Remy had already told her. He was quiet as she laid out the missing film crew, the broken light, and the nature of what they were filming. Then he made a soft sound, part-sigh, part grunt. August knew before he even spoke what he was going to say.

"Sounds dangerous. You don't know if it's spooks or something else yet, do ya?"

"Well, no." August admitted.

"Then I'm comin'." Declan stated in a tone that could etch the words into stone tablets. "I can't do anythin' much if it's just ghosts, but if it's solid..."

"There's going to be other people there." August reminded him warningly.

"Yeah, Oneca's Chantry people. If worst comes to worst, at least they stand a better chance of dealing with the secret than normals. I'm comin'. Besides, nobody's better than me at tracking people down. If they've not just disappeared into thin air, I'll find 'em." he finished with utter confidence.

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She didn't want to admit it, but she felt a lot better with him insisting on coming. "If you're sure," August said softly. Dec didn't need to be in the room to smell how much she appreciated his willingness to come; she could hear it clearly in her voice.

"I am, frail," he told her. "Don't want anything happenin' to my friends." August felt a pleased flush creep over her cheeks. Things with Delcan had been tense - not in a bad way, honestly. But the attraction between them had been kept at a low simmer for a while. They'd avoided setting off the fire again - somehow - though Declan disappearing into the woods over Christmas break had helped. She'd missed him, a sentiment she hadn't shared with him yet because she wasn't sure what it meant. Well, it'd meant she'd missed him, clearly, but she'd been a little surprised by how much. So she'd been a little more hesitant than normal around him ever since. He'd accepted this change without comment, as he did so many things and she wondered how he felt about it. You need to work out exactly how you feel about him. Fast.

"Thank you," August said with feeling. "I appreciate that." She laughed lightly. "I really need to figure out how to repay you for everything you've done for me. You've done so much and I've done so little."

"I'm sure you'll figure something out." And then there were moments like this, when his soft, rumbling undertone sent sexy shivers up and down her skin, when he reminded her of the fire that burned between them. She wasn't sure he knew what his double entendres did to her but she was highly suspicious he knew exactly how his statements affected her.

"I will," the green-eyed woman promised sincerely. She heard and silently cursed the tremor in her voice, hoping that if he heard it, it was causing him sexy-time issues too. She could only hope. "Remy's going to be here in twenty-five minutes or so," she added, "and I haven't showered yet."

"Mmm," he said. It might have been a grunt of acknowledgement; he might have been fantasizing about her in the shower. "I'll be there on time," he said, leaving her no clue as to which way he'd been going.

"Great, see you soon," August said, and shut the phone before she said something stupid. Groaning, she crossed her legs and flopped forward until her face hit the thick comforter she slept under. "Ugh, that... that... wolf!" Her face was still exasperated when she ducked into the shower.

Twenty minutes later, she was hustling out of her room, a bag packed with overnight gear - just in case. She also raided the kitchen for granola bars, beef jerky and bottled water - also, just in case. She'd seen enough horror movies to be prepared for anything. Then she headed for the front of the house to see who was here.

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Oneca was waiting in the hall when August left the kitchen. She was dressed like some clichè cat burgler, minus the face mask and with a large black camping back on her back; August hadn't even heard her moving around.

"Remy called." She said it like the was the most normal thing in the world to get early morning ghost-hunting calls. Then again, for Oneca, it might. "You sure you're up for this?"

August swallowed but nodded. "He said-"

"I know," Oneca cut in, her dark eyes intent on August. "But that doesn't mean you have to do this. We'll find another way if we have to."

August hesitated, then shook her head. "No, I already called Declan and I already told Remy I would."

Oneca's lips twitched at the order of importance there. "Well, okay. I'm glad Declan's coming along. I'll call and tell Remy to let one of the guards off the hook this time. There'll be six of us total." At August's curious look Oneca shrugged. "Standard procedure. Even pairs in case we do have to split up. One talent and one guard. I've seen Declan around you. He'll be a good guard."

She let August stew on that statement while she called Remy with the update. She could feel Remy's hesitation, him almost adding another guard for eight. They knew Declan was some sort of bump in the night, but not exactly what. But Remy knew he could take care of himself and the more people they piled in the more likely that if there was strange stuff going on at the asylum that it would hide from so many people all at once. Oneca hung up after the brief exchange.

"Okay. You and Declan, Remy and Callista, me and Greg. That's the group and the teams. They'll bring extra packs for both of you." She held up her hands, "I can see that you already packed and I doubt Declan's going to want a backpack on, but they've got Bluetooth phones with walkie-talkie stuff built in, to start. We'll look through them when we get to asylum, get everyone situated and go over the safety protocols, and then go in."

She pulled August into a hug. "We've done this before, if you couldn't tell. I won't let anything happen to you." She whispered, "Thanks for doing this, Auggie. He wouldn't have asked if he didn't think we needed you to find these people."

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As Declan hung up the phone, he grinned slightly at the tremble in August's voice he'd caught over the receiver. It was easy to imagine his friend's face going a little red at his sly remark. Himself very comfortable with the idea that he wanted to sleep with August, it amused him to tease her a little. Besides, she was cute when she was flustered. If he could have heard her exasperated outburst following the conversation, he would have probably laughed his fuzzy ass off.

As matters would have it, he hadn't been awake when August had called. He'd been roaming his territory - which now included August's home - last night, setting to rights the few parasites that had taken advantage of his absence to try and entrench themselves in the street ecosystem. But it was easy to go from asleep to awake these days, more so even than when he'd been a soldier. He'd been out of bed and at the phone by the time it'd rung the third time, with none of the "Who? What? Where?" that usually accompanied waking up suddenly. Whistling, he showered and dressed rapidly in sweatpants, sneakers, and t-shirt, grabbing a knapsack and stashing a flashlight, spare sweatpants, and his first aid kit before hitting the kitchen and emptying his jar of beef jerky into the bag without preamble. It would have to do, he decided. It wasn't like they'd be more than twenty minutes from food. Grabbing his keys, he left.

Ordinarily, the werewolf would run up to August's place, but time was an issue, so he resignedly climbed into his battered pickup and drove up instead. He hated driving, which paradoxically made him a better driver if one overlooked his attitude to every other road user - that they were reckless fuckheads who needed neutering. Regardless of his careful pace, he pulled up outside Oneca's house with seven minutes to spare and, with a sigh of relief that that was over, headed up to the door and knocked.

"Dec! On time as always." Oneca opened the door with a dazzling smile, which widened a little more at Declan's usual frank appraisal of her. The silver eyes flicked down, then up to meet hers as he smiled that crooked, wolfish smile. He didn't leer - not that Oneca minded a little leering from the right guy or girl - but nor did he make any attempt to hide his appreciation of the view. Well, there was no reason he should, the young woman thought as a pleasant warmth tingled her skin at his smile. It wasn't like he and Auggie were an item... despite it being obvious that they were into each other. She wondered what that was about, and mused that it was probably due to Declan's Big Secret - whatever that was.

"Pretty as a picture, as always." Dec replied as he stepped into the hallway. He evaluated her cat burglar outfit and grinned. "We should go rob a museum after this haunted house gig, whaddya say?"

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August came around the corner, stopping to stare at Oneca. She suddenly felt way underdressed; her blue jeans, gray tank top and red hoodie was definitely not anything like Oneca’s outfit. Declan was dressed normally and that reassured her as much as anything else.

She still didn’t like the way he was grinning at Oneca. Stop that, she scolded herself. If she didn’t like the way Declan smiled at women, she should either claim him or put out her eyes. Otherwise, she’d just have to put up with it. She was honest enough with herself to admit that she would have already claimed him had he not been a werewolf. It was that one tiny – will, horse-sized – reason that had stopped her. And that was added to the other insecurities of dealing with the opposite sex – namely, what would happen to them after sex? August already feared she was falling down this particular rabbit-hole and sex would only throw her down it more deeply.

This emotional morass wasn’t her fault, not completely. He was sexy and menacing, but not to her. Dangerous but safe all wrapped up in a tight little ball of sexual hotness that’d leave a nun apologizing to God for mental infidelities – assuming that it stopped at mental.

Stupid sexy werewolves. August’s tone was a little sharper than she’d meant it to be when she said, “Hey, Dec.” Slipping past Oneca, she gave him a hug and added in a softer tone, “Thanks again for coming.”

Holy shit, did I just mark territory? In front of Oneca?! It was one thing to mark a guy in a club in front of a trespassing stranger. It was another to do it to a friend who wasn’t likely to do more than borrow a guy for the night. Oneca seemed disinclined to tie herself down to a single guy. I really need to figure this out and pull myself together.

“Do I need to change?” she asked Oneca to distract herself from what was going on in her messed-up head. “Or are you subtly saying you’ll be tonight’s ninja?”

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“You can wear that if you want,” Oneca told her with a grin, “but if we’re going to be sneaking around, you might want something darker.” August eyed Oneca and then noted Declan’s dark clothing as well. “Right, I’ll be right back.” Turning, she bounced up the stairs and went to change. She didn’t have a catsuit like Oneca – and she was a little afraid to ask where you got one of those anyway – but she pulled on her blackest jeans and a black t-shirt. After a moment of consideration, she got out a brown pullover and tied it around her waist.

Downstairs, Declan found Oneca considering him closely. Her dark eyes were warm with a suppressed emotion of some kind and he asked, “What?”

“Just wondering,” she murmured.

“Wondering what?” Declan asked, unable to penetrate the Byzantine depths of this female’s mind.

Whatever she was wondering was lost as Remy arrived with Callista and Greg. “Sorry we’re late,” Remy said, stepping forward to give Oneca a kiss on the cheek. Declan got a friendly nod before Remy asked, “Unless August isn’t ready? We’re be on time, then.”

“She had to change,” Oneca said, tugging on Remy’s shirt. “No one told her to dress for ninjas.”

“Hmm. Speaking of not told, she didn’t mention that Madeline had a dream that she was in danger,” Remy replied, looking less than happy. “Had Madeline not called me to be sure I knew…”

“Whoever is buddied with her needs to keep a close eye on her,” Callista said. “The ghosts always go for the mediums first. Who’s her buddy?”

“Declan,” Oneca said, nodding at the MSO.

The others must have valued Oneca’s opinion, because no one asked if the newcomer was up to the task. Of course, Declan also radiated an aura of extreme and fatal competence that dissuaded questions of whether he was up to the task. August came back down and, after a glance around the room, asked, “What?”

“You forgot to relay Madeline’s message,” Remy said softly.

“Message? Oh, the dream?” August blinked. “It was just a dream.”

“And you’re just a girl, August,” Remy replied. “You’re in another world, and there are things that you need to take seriously. Dreams can be portends of events, so be careful. I dislike a medium dreaming about a warning from a ghost on the day we go into a haunted mental hospital.” With that mild admonishment delivered the six of them got into the van and headed out.

Adilene Parker Sanatorium was nestled in the dry lands outside of Rosamond, CA. Once the van was over the hills that surrounded LA, the terrain became increasingly dry and flat. It was also very boring, and August gradually fell asleep leaning on Declan. When she woke up, she had her head in his lap and he was resting his arm on her hip. It was pleasant and companionable – and jarred her awake with a storm was exciting tingles. Jesus, he’s like man-shaped Ecstasy. I soooo need to get laid. The obvious candidate for that sex was right there, but August still wasn’t sure. There were just too many questions. Perhaps I need to find a one-night fling. If I can find one that isn’t diseased, a stalker or some kind of insane supernatural creature. Her views on dating had shifted sharply as more and more of the veil over reality had been ripped away.

When she got her first look at Adilene Parker, she rather wished she could crawl back in the van and go home. The Sanatorium was comprised of six buildings. The main building and the largest was the center of the campus. Once it had housed all of the residents, but in the thirties they had expanded into several more buildings. That left the Main House the place where the easiest cases were housed, while the outer buildings housed the more dangerous criminals.

A small, nervous man met them at the gate and let them drive into the front lot. “Look, I’m not letting anyone else in or out there unless you tell me that you’ll be out by dark. No way am I going to be liable for six more people.”

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Declan let Remy and Oneca soothe the caretaker as he slipped out the car to stretch his legs from the car ride. Glancing around at the sun-baked buildings with narrowed eyes, he slipped on a pair of sunglasses and wandered a bit from the stench of the vehicle, to all appearances just walking off stiff legs. What he was really doing was breathing in the environment, trying to get a sense for the place.

Fear. That was the first smell, a fresh smell. The caretaker was nervous - naturally enough, perhaps - but there was a rank acrid edge to his fear, as though he had his own suspicions of what might have happened. Declan didn't blame him for that - being up here on your own could make a man willing to jump at shadows - but the fear was a warning to his animal instincts. He brought those instincts up, letting them soak up this place... and he growled softly. This place was wrong. The two-legs behind him chattering like birds, they could feel it too, but in a much less immediate way. There were no signs of wildlife, for one thing. No birds nesting in the cracks in the masonry, no coyote-stink on the ground, no prairie-dog burrows. Nature liked to move into places man left vacant... but Nature had left this place alone. Declan wouldn't have been surprised if birds took a circular detour around the patch of sky over this place.

He didn't like it here at all, and was of half a mind to bully the others into getting back into the car and heading home. But there were friends of theirs missing, and he'd agreed to help, and that was that. He sighed and squatted on his haunches, ostensibly to get the blood flowing, but in actuality to bring his nose closer to the ground. He wondered if perhaps there was some more solid entity lurking around, something he could punch or bite if need be. Having watched a few horror movies in his time, Owns-The-Night doubted he'd be capable of doing anything to a ghost, and so it was with almost a hopeful air that he cast about for signs of vampires, moon-callers, or even crazy humans.

Wits 3 + Survival 2 (+1 for hunting specialty) + Senses 2 + Hounds Honor 1 = 9 dice for smelling anything amiss

Owns-The-Night *rolls* 9d10: 1+8+4+2+1+6+9+1+10: 42

Owns-The-Night *rolls* 1d10: 8: 8

[Owns-The-Night] 2:33 pm: can I get a witness?

[jameson] 2:33 pm: holla

[Owns-The-Night] 2:33 pm: ty

4 success on a track/perceive by scent roll

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There was something dark and unhelpful that Declan could smell. It wasn’t a ghost, but there was something. It was enough to give him hope that he would have the chance to participate in an ass-whoopin’. The problem was that he didn’t really know what it was. It was something wrong, maybe even the source of the wrongness. Maybe they could do more to help than rescue some people; maybe they could corner the source of the evil.

Or hey, just have a good fight. Whatever.

August was staring at the building as the other talked with the caretaker. Like Declan, she’d caught onto the wrongness of the place; unlike Dec, she couldn’t have said why it was setting off her alarms. “We’re here for our friends,” Remy was saying, “so if we find them by dark, we’ll be out by then.”

“You can’t stay after dark! No way,” the caretaker told him.

August turned to him. “If you keep arguing, we’ll all be here at dark. Let us in and we’ll get out as fast as we can. Otherwise I’ll make sure their families know you wouldn’t let us in.” It was a cruel statement, but in liability-crazy California, he could face a civil suit even if he didn’t face civil charges. “We’re big kids. We’re not locking ourselves in, and we’re not here stirring up trouble. Just let us in.”

The caregiver sighed and trudged to the gate. “Good work,” Remy murmured to her.

“I want to get in and out. This is not someplace to fuck with,” August said, worry making her voice sharp. “I really don’t want to be here after dark.”

“Isn’t that when the ghosts are out?” Remy asked her.

“Yeah, but I hope we have answers before that point.” She shrugged. “If not, we don’t. But I hope we’re done by then.”

The front door was closed but unlocked; a chain and padlock lay next to the door. “Is that the way you locked them in?” Remy asked, pointing.

“It is,” the caretaker said nervously. August was betting the chain would disappear before the police arrived, which was dumb.

“Show us the hotspots they chose,” August said, catching the man’s eye. “Where they would have set their cameras.”

“I…”

“They would have marked them on the tour, possibly with tape,” she pressed, staring at him. “Show us. Someone has to clean up after them, right?”

After a moment he nodded and pushed open the door. It opened into a short hallway that emptied into a small lobby. The room was crowded with film gear, a cooler, the shattered light and a couple of chairs. There was also someone’s coat. It looks like they’ll be right back. But they won’t.

Remy picked up the coat and went through the pockets, then shook his head. “No ID.”

August opened a bag and grinned at the laptop and camera inside. “Just a moment, lemme see what he have,” she said, opening the laptop and booting it. To her sadness, to was password protected, but Remy reached past her and typed in a password. He shrugged at her expression. August opened the files and found the video’s they’d uploaded, then took some time to familiarize herself with their organization. “Eight cameras,” she announced, “if they didn’t fuck up their naming conventions. There’s… shit, they have old footage here. I think…”

“What’s up?” Declan asked.

“Well, there are four stationary cameras, and they were dumping their feeds to the computer directly, at least as long as they were set up. How long were they here?”

“Eight hours,” the caretaker answered.

“So it looks like they shut down the cameras after six hours,” she said, biting her lip in a way that unintentionally made Dec think about something other than ghosts for a second. She was accessing the property information on all the files, checking the hours. “Yeah, all stationary cameras had about six hours on them. Here, open all the bags, let’s see what we have.” They all worked together and soon had them all open. “Three of the stationaries… they still have the four handhelds. Okay.”

“So what’s that mean?” Remy asked.

“One of the stationaries wasn’t packed up,” August replied, frowning, “and they have all the handhelds. But… this is weird.” Her voice trailed off as she stared at what she saw.

“What?” Oneca asked after a second of silence.

August looked up, startled. “Huh? Oh, they don’t have old footage. It looks like… let me back up. These handhelds have three to four hours of use, given the quality you’d be filming at. So you have to upload to a computer every four hours or so. With four handhelds over eight hours, you’d see eight uploads, right?”

“Yeah,” Callisto said once she had done the math.

“I’m seeing lots more than that… About twenty. They were uploading every half hour, but these files are three to four hours in length.”

“What does that mean?” Remy’s question broke her concentration again.

August thought a moment before she said, “They must have been having camera issues and were doing more frequent uploads, but not wiping the information they’d uploaded. That’s the only thing that makes sense.”

“Or,” Remy said softly, “they were filming for a lot longer than eight hours.”

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"Damn." Oneca whispered. "I was hoping for drunken stupidity or something. Now we've got timescaping and a missing camera." She nodded to Remy, "You feeling anything in particular?"

He frowned and shook his head. "Not with the static from our own group. I'd have to separate off."

"Let's keep that as back up plan 12 or 20, please," rumbled Greg, Oneca's burly buddy.

Remy nodded. "Yeah, this place is creepy enough that we're all sticking together unless we hit a blackout sit."

At August's furrowed brow, Callista clarified: "Grab your buddy and run for the nearest damn exit because we can't handle whatever's going on and it's probably trying to eat us."

August fought down bile and nodded. "Oh."

Remy looked the equipment over and then glanced around the group, he pulled some extra clothes out of his pack and settled the laptop snugly in. "I we set a point and rear guard while we make our way to where the missing stationary is. Greg, take rear; Declan, point if you will. Everyone else grab a camcorder and start recording. Mr. Janis, lead the way with Greg." He picked one of the camcorders up and started it, one eye on the feed and the other on Greg and Mr. Janis.

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Declan had been walking the perimeter of the lobby while August, Remy and Oneca had quietly discussed the situation. He didn't like the sound of 'timescaping' - and was that people losing track of time, or time being screwy? - and he was repressing the urge to growl under his breath at the scent of wrongness in the air. When Remy gave the signal for the off, Dec had already determined the direction the absentee film crew had gone and led them along the passageway.

"Uh, Declan. Where are you going?" Remy asked quietly aware that the burly groundskeeper was passing branching off passageways while sparing them only a passing glance. There was an oppressive hush to the old sanatorium that the sensitives were all feeling, even subconsciously, and the Vargr's tension was likewise palpable to Remy, Oneca and August.

"Followin' a hunch." Declan said shortly. "They came this way."

"But how do you-" Greg started to ask, then fell silent as Remy turned to look at him and raised a finger to his lips. "Ah, I get it. It's your 'thing', right?"

"My what?" Dec stopped dead and glanced over his shoulder, puzzlement furrowing his dark brows as he glared at Greg. August stepped in quickly.

"Yes, it's Declan's talent. Finding people." she said glibly, giving Dec a warning glance that was all in her eyes. "That's what Greg meant." she told the Vargr meaningfully. He relaxed and nodded, smiling a little.

"Ah, yeah. Right. My thing." he agreed before turning and continuing. Oneca noticed August's small sigh of relief and exchanged a glance with Remy, one full of raised eyebrows and meaning.

Declan followed the scent of the small group of people who had passed this way before. They smelled excited, nervous, much as the humans behind him did now. He led the group up a stairwell, pausing at the first and second floors just to ensure he had the right spoor before heading up to the third floor. The path came to an empty room...

Mostly empty, that is.

There was a camera just inside the doorway, partially set-up as though someone had been assembling it in a hurry to film something. There was also, more tellingly to the werewolf, a sudden spike of old fear and a hint of blood, the sweet coppery scent pitched higher than the other smells. The scent of blood faded slower than other smells - at least to predators it did.

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