Leaving what was supposed to be the Shogun’s resting place/prison, Brooke, Cornell, Devlin and Bear Man Ross make the trek up the long stairs in the Lighthouse. Before they travel back to the meat side, they see the sea, ripping at the shore, trying to rise up.
Brooke, Cornell and the Boss decide to go to Fort Bragg, to talk to my cousin Graham and to..deal…with certain situations.
Ross decides to go off on his own, saying he’s going to see if he can get his fellow people to help tracking down the Shogun.
Arriving at Fort Bragg to the gates being patrolled by civilians, the pack is given entrance. They stumble upon a BBQ, as normal and pleasant as can be.
Graham walks up to Dev & Brooke, smiling, asking what this unexpected visit was for. Dev said that there are some issues they want to discuss.
Graham says, “Last time you had issues, you wanted to punch my Elodoth in his face.”
Brooke remarks, “This time we want to punch you in the face.”
So much for diplomacy.
Graham and Brooke walk off into a clearing, Graham shifting into Dalu, getting right up in Brook’s grill, snarls and goes “What’s that about punching me in the face?”
They go back and forth, testosterone flying. Brooke accuses Graham of coming onto our territory, Graham admits it and says we should make it harder to do so. Brooke demands that he leave Madeline alone, and to stay off their territory.
“You want me to leave your girlfriend alone? You get her back in one piece, I’ll come to your territory, and apologize, and never talk to her again, swear to Father Wolf. But if she ends up dead…there’s not going to be peace between your pack and mine. I won’t go to war, but I won’t work with you, won’t even acknowledge you. Nothing”
With that he shifts back to human and rejoins the BBQ, in full swing at this point.
After eating some delicious BBQ (funny how I wasn’t invited) Devlin goes to speak with Lt Torres and the local precinct.
Lt. Torres is a woman in her late 20s, chestnut hair, wearing a button down shirt, with her badge next to her hip revolver.
She looks up from her desk as Dev and Cornell approach. “Are you here to report a crime? Are you sure?
I like her.
Dev tells her how they’ve heard that local police and former military personnel are being recruited as mercenaries, and that there has been reports of homeless veterans going missing. The club is looking into it, because they care about Ukiah.
Torres says that she got a call about consulting in Ukiah, that no one in Fort Bragg was really interested since it’s good here. The company doing the calling is Spivey-Keenn Placement. The contact’s name is Monica. She also provides an address in Ukiah, so all in all, a pretty good recon.
Back at the BBQ party, Jamie Baskerville sits down next to Brooke. She tells him that if he can get his girl out of Ukiah, he could bring her to Fort Bragg, and she’d be safe, without Graham bothering her.
Back in bear country, Ross drives deep into the woods. He senses something is wrong and starts to notice the deeper into the woods that he goes, the more the top of trees start to tilt inward toward each other, eventually ripping themselves from their roots to intertwine like an arch, creating a canopy of trees.
After a while, the road itself becomes nothing but mud, forcing Ross to continue on foot. He stumbles upon a redwood tree that has a tapestry of an eagle created by feathers on it. The the figure is torn in half. Several bald eagles with their heads bowed down surround the tree.
Ross walks up to them and says, “I wish to speak with your leader.”
After a moment of silence, a voice from behind him responds, “Those are birds…”
A young girl with a blond pony tail, in khaki shorts, wearing an olive green shirt with a rangers logo on it, emerges. She introduces herself as Fawn, and she is one of the people.
“Steller is dead. This was his fill (territory) he’d come here and keep it safe for the animals and this was part of his ritual. When he died, the place wasn’t safe anymore, one of these “Earth Storms” turned the whole place FUBAR.”
Ross tells her to warn the people, that the Golden Mountain Shogun is not in his resting place. “The bad werewolves are working with the bad fish people” is the easiest explanation he can give.
He tells her to gather representatives of the tribes and to meet in Golden Gate Park. She seems hesitant, but sprints away.
Ross tries to leave as well, but his foot sinks into the muddy ground. He tries to pull it out, but can’t. The ground won’t let him go.
Ross shifts into WarBear Form (impressive…though I wouldn’t tell it to his face) and rips his foot free. The mud rises and forms into a vaguely human shape with multiple arms, wrapping itself around Ross, trying to drag him underground.
Ross fights back, roaring as he tears the mud creature to pieces.
After fighting it off, Ross realizes that the creature was an earth spirit, spirit of the topsoil, enraged by the earthquake. It had hoped to steal Ross’ essence, since he was the most spiritual thing around the area, in order to remake and regrow itself.
Bit off more then it could chew, apparently.
The pack heads back to S.F. and head straight to Strawberry Hill, to meet up with Stretch.
Devlin decks him with his ring hand.
Can’t blame him.
Boss man accuses Stretch of keeping the Shogun a secret, endangering everyone. Stretch tells him it was The King’s order to do so. They moved the shogun away from his power, to keep him dormant. The power would go to the retainer spirits, who would have no interest in waking him up. They didn’t tell anybody because “only the the worthy would find out, and only in an emergency.”
Stretch admits that they didn’t know The Pure knew about the Shogun, and its location. They had assumed The Pure was just taking over a vulnerable territory.
Devlin asks the question, “What are WE going to do about it?”
Devlin tells Stretch he wants their pack to fight with them, to fight the Pure. Stretch agrees, if the army gets taken out of the equation.
Devlin agrees, that attacking with the army still would just piss off a much larger machine.
Ronnie says that if they stay on the meat side, they won’t have to worry about the Warbird and the war spirits that follow it. If the pack can cripple the Warbird, or scare it off, the war spirits would follow.
Spirits tend to be a hungry lot. War spirits hunger for the thing that war consumes; people’s lives.
Cornell makes the connection that the vets that have been disappearing could have become chow for the war bird. Its ban could be that if it doesn’t eat a soldier everyday, chaos would ensue.
More chaos, that is.
Ross arrives and tells Stretch to expect some were visitors.
Ronnie chimes in with some good news/bad news. She says that if the Shogun is moved, he’ll cause Earthquakes that will destroy Ukiah. Bad news. But wherever he rests, he creates a resonance around himself. He makes wherever he is “the heart of the earth.” That kind of power could move some of California’s focus to Ukiah, making it way more important than it currently is.
Which I guess is a good thing. Makes us a bigger target, though. But that’s just my opinion.
Stretch gifts the pack with a set of talons with a brass bullet worked in, first tongue runes wrapping around it. It will allow any user to appear as any spirit for two hours. At least any spirit whose dust is worked into it. In this case, Paradrop spirits.
Meanwhile, yours truly was off doing some very important espionage work. And by espionage I mean I was taking dirty pics of the upper military brass getting their rocks off.
Especially neat was Dyanne Trigger dressed in her Dominatrix outfit. I wonder if I could borrow it…
I head back and meet up with the pack at their hotel in S.F. I showcase my photography skills, and though impressive, we need more. Boss asks me to head back into enemy territory, take pics of the murder factory they most likely have set up to feed the War Bird, and if possible, grab Wincott’s ceremonial pistol.
Sure, I had nothing better to do.
That night, Brooke dreams of the heartbeat of his girl, and from below it, a softer, smaller heartbeat. He wakes up in cold sweat, wolfs out, and heads outside.
Dawn shows up at Ross’ side, telling him that a baker’s dozen of representatives from the changing breeds will arrive. She falls asleep in his bear arms. Adorable.
Outside, they hear the Cahalith howl into the night, summoning the beasts to war.