Would’ve liked to have seen Ukiah before things went to shit. Used to be part of the famous California wine country, I understand. I can believe it, too. Looking around at some of the abandoned shops or old ones that haven’t had the money to renovate have a certain vineyard-and-corkscrew theme going for them. Not that wine’s better than blood or beer, but a whole town that prides itself on being sauced to the gills is bound to be a fun time.
Blood. That doe’s blood was the tastiest damn thing I’d had in a long time. And to think I used to prefer steak sauce on my meat. Seems practically sacrilegious to do that.
As for beer, Bitterman’s has a decent selection. Can’t say I expected to find a new pack on the menu, though, but sometimes life throws little gifts your way. Weird gift, too. The few packs I’ve seen in the past tended to be pretty homogenous in their talents, but I think we make up the whole damn lunar cycle. And a spirit fox, to boot. Mischievous little bastards, but on the more harmless end of the scale, as spirits go. Well, maybe “harmless” isn’t the right word, but at least I’m pretty sure it won’t try to kill us.
The other four seemed to know each other, at least somewhat, but being former military like most of them made for a good connecting point (even if I never left the states), and me being a mechanic was a great in with our new alpha, who just so happens to own a garage. He’d better like my work, too, cuz I’m the best goddamned grease monkey he’s gonna find anywhere.
I guess other packs learned about our new little family. Hadn’t been together a month before some guy – “Stretch” or “Slim” or some other s-word – shows up from Frisco with a sharp suit and vague offers. Not exactly threatening, but the whole vague, cloak-and-dagger horseshit is a social game the blood-sucking, pointy-toothed little sparklers like to play. Still, and invitation to Colma would be a great place to try out my spiritual side, so I’m glad the group decided to go.
One long-ass ride later, we pulled up to the graveyard we were instructed to go to and met an old wolf named Scarpa. One pissing contest between him and the alpha later and he took us into some ancient catacombs. Werewolf catacombs. Creepy as it was, it felt…“right,” somehow.
Scarpa had more to show us, starting with a weird ritual involving water, ashes, and him spitting all over a map of northern California. Once done with his performance art, we could see a map of spiritual energies in the area. Two areas in particular – Lake Tahoe and Ukiah – he said we could claim as our own territory, no conflict, no questions asked. Tahoe had calm spiritual energies, but Ukiah’s were all jagged like barbed wire. Scarpa said that there would be things there that he would prefer not to mess with, but made it clear that us dealing with the problems would make our ownership of the territory actually meaningful, that it’d be something we claimed and not just given. Hard to argue with logic like that, so we decided to go back and lay claim to Ukiah.
Made my day when the old wolf said he’d connect me with someone who could teach me rituals. I just had to ask nice as we left. Alpha and the French poodle might wanna consider moving the chest-thumping to the second course of action from time to time. Just a thought.
Between us and our bikes, though, were a bunch of shit-for-brains thugs taking sledgehammers to tombstones. Sentimentality and honoring the dead aside, this is one of those things that stirs up spirits beyond the Gauntlet. A lesson in respecting the dead is about to be in order.