Rose of Sharon Howlett
|Casualties and losses|
Rose of Sharon Howlett has a lead on the Loupe Garou that scarred her face and infected her as a carrier of HMHVV. Fortunately, she knows just the right kind of people to bring the culprit to her for the enactment of a just and long-delayed punishment.
Alas, perhaps she chose too well. Her chance for vengeance is stripped away from her when the Runner's finish the job themselves.
Some years ago, Rose of Sharon Howlett was mauled by a Loupe Garou while she was on the hunt for a killer. Since then, she's been an active hunter of the infected in general, and of her attacker in particular.
Thirty months ago, Cry was abducted from the streets by an infected agent working for a vampiric coven. She endured a year of hell enslaved in a hidden dungeon where she and others like her served as ours' d' veures for their captor and their captor's guests.
A year and a half ago, Field Mouse indentured himself to the worse Professor on Campus to secure Cry's rescue. Rose was the woman who planned, organised, and led the raid that freed Cry from her tortured existence as a vampiric plaything.
Fidem is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Specifically, she is a member of a particularly secretive order who remove "problems" from the face of the earth.
Fidem collects Mouse and Cry from the Campus of Washington University in her luxury car. Cry immediately recalls a recent journalistic post that claims Shannon O'Flannagan is being regularly impersonated by a con-artist and Face who has stolen her identity. Cry immediately (and incorrectly) assumes that the imposter is the person driving their car. The three meet Rose in a dingy Puyullup bar, where Mouse treats the table to two rounds of fizzy Apple Juice, much to the barman's confusion and consternation.
Rose explains that yet another Loupe Garou attack in the area has made the news. She wants the group to find the Loup Garou that's haunting Payullup, and bring it to her for interrogation. Mouse cheerfully convinces himself that following said interrogation, said Loupe Garou will be retired to a lovely farms somewhere upstate where he can live out his days without hurting anyone. No one decides to disabuse him of the notion.
Rose heavily implies that this may be the same being who scarred and infected her so long ago, but neither Mouse nor Cry pick up on this, despite the fact that Rose shares with them a lovingly compiled journal concerning this particular wolf and his activities. Both Mouse and Cry go over the journal in detail, and begin to establish at least some understanding of their quarries behaviour and habits.
They determine that just under a year ago, a woman named Petra Miller survived one of the Loupe Garou's attacks but, like Rose, may have become a carrier. They elect to start their investigation by finding Petra before nightfall, and hauling her away to a place of safety just in case she was infected to a greater extent than anyone realises.
The three track down Petra to a woman's shelter in Payullup. While Fidem watches over their bodies in the back of the car, Mouse and Cry scout the place in the astral. Unsurprisingly, given that the shelter is designed to hide women from their abusers, they find it to be warded but manage to sleaze their way inside regardless. None of the women they see within are dual natured. However, several are awakened. Fortunately, none are astrally perceiving at present.
They return to their bodies to find Fidem chatting amicably with one of the residents through her car window. Fidem and Cry both are working from slightly different scripts, but the resident doesn't pick up on their slightly divergent stories and instead takes both the nun and the dishevelled, poorly groomed Cry inside to meet with Vikki, the cybered-up razorgirl who runs the half-way house. Again, Cry and Fidems stories slightly converge, and it doesn't take long for Cry to realise that Fidem is genuinely trying to have Cry admitted as a resident rather than simply trying to infiltrate the building. The runners go with the full truth concerning the reason for their presence, and persuade Vikki to call Petra back to the half-way house for her safety, in case the wolf they are looking for is the same individual who stalked her before.
When Petra returns, Cry is able to see through her masking to see that she is not, in fact, affected. Meanwhile, Mouse learns through the power of observation that dual natured individuals (such as Petra) can temporarily supress their dual nature long enough to pass through wards. Mouse is fairly certain he'll be reviewing his home's astral security after learning that particular life lesson, and hurriedly shares his newfound knowledge with an equally disconcerted Fidem.
It takes empathy, patience, and persistence, but eventually Petra is persuaded to share what she knows about her attacker: she mentions a fear of men with facial scars that has haunted her since the night she was attacked, and talks about one man in particular who she feels especially uncomfortable in the presence of. She tells them the address and name of a particular mah-jong parlour she thinks he frequents.
With a promise to ensure that this man will never be able to harm anyone ever again, Cry and Fidem take their leave and return to the car.
Mouse is adamantly against allowing Cry to use herself as bait, and gently (sort of) blurts a comment to the effect that, while his aura is fuzzy and warm and juicy and tasty, Shine's is the essence equivilent of last week's pizza. Cry eventually relents, but only when Mouse mentions calling his friend Jewels to come and help watch his back.
While Jewels and Fidem hit it off with a deeply engaging and in-depth discussion about the artistic merits of Fidem's past pornography work, Mouse heads into the mahjong parlour. The crimson-jacketed man at the door is about to turn him away, but admits Mouse after receiving a message through his earbuds. Meanwhile, Cry's body is slack jawed in the back of the car while providing astral overwatch.
All is well until Mouse notices a leather bound journal (surely not the original from Night Shopping) on one of the parlour's book shelves. He gets to reading the musings of Damien Donahough, one of the first Black Magicians to be executed in North America, and learns a great deal about the "theory" of using long term gentle mental manipulation to acquire complete control over subjects rather than the "brute force" method of short term gross manipulation. Indeed, he becomes so enthused that he engages one of the waitresses in conversation about the matter.
It's at that moment that Cry receives a premonition that something very bad is about to happen to Mouse. She flees back into her meat body and, without a word, leaves the car and strides into the parlour. For a moment, it's almost certain that the doorman is going to turn this ragamuffin away given her obvious lack of funds to gamble with. But strangely, she is in fact admitted. "Two drink minimum!" the doorman calls after her. Being innocuous as she is, she quickly fades into the crowds by the bar, nursing the first of two Ares Silver Lightnings, while she keeps an eye on the oblivious Mouse. Her astral eyes spot something very disconcerting: the bookcase beside Mouse is almost entirely illusionary. Mouse chooses that moment to get up and leave the parlour, swaying somewhat from the two shots he's consumed. Cry rises to follow, but feels oddly compelled to stay and finish another drink. It seems like a wise move, after all, it would be suspicious if she left too soon or without obeying the rules. Her eyes are drawn again to the illusory bookcase, and she's in the process of rising and heading towards it when she receives a DNI from Mouse confirming that she's being followed.
Utterly oblivious to the notion that she was on the very razor's edge of succumbing to mind control, Cry rushes from the parlour without paying. But, again, strangely, the doorman just lets her go.
Mouse heads down an alley a few blocks away from the mahjong parlour, with Fidem and Jewels follow the man tailing the little gnome Summoner. Cry, meanwhile, heads into the same alleyway from the other direction.
The tail, Ajax, follows Mouse into the alley and immediately lifts him from the ground, teeth and claws flashing in the moonlight.
And that's when Jewels and Cry fly into a protective fury. Wielding Fidem's longsword (anointed by holy oils -well, Wolvesbane-) Jewels begins to hack the Loupe Garou into pieces, splattering blood and gore all over Mouse. Cry, on the other hand, leaps onto Ajax's back and begins to savagely rend and tear at it's essence with her teeth and bare hands. To all intents and purposes, to those watching in the meat, Jewel's eviscerates the beast and spills it's guts onto the paving stones. But to those watching in the astral, Ajax's soul is ripped apart and dispersed to fall like bloody droplets of rain into the manasphere. Cry pulls the core of Ajax's aura out through the back of his astral-body and smashes it against the grey astral walls of the alley, barely resisting the temptation to raise it to her metaphorical lips and gulp it down to fill the huge, gaping void in her own aura.
It's done. But Rose wont be pleased. She wanted that kill for herself.
And Agamemnon has seen the aura of two of his friends killers. Seen them, and marked them well.
Fidem calls in Father Uriel to dispose of the body, while an anxious Cry see's about cleaning up all the blood spills and blood splatter to prevent infection. Alas, Mouse doesn't mention the small cut he took to his neck when the Loupe Garou, Ajax, thrust him into the air by his neck. He makes his excuses, flees to contact Rose, and heads to a clinic where he knows Rock Lizard Blood might be stocked.
He's in luck. And the price for peace of mind and staying himself is a few days of painful gut motions. But it was quite possible a near run thing. Fortunately, he'll never know how close he came to becoming a gnawer.
Fidem and Jewels retire to Fidem's apartment to "discuss" and, not long after, to re-enact some of the more memorable scenes from the career of Shannon o'Flannigan, simsense star.
Cry sheepishly makes her way to her new home, where Petra and Vikki wait for her at the top of the stairs, and usher her inside.
Rose is left feeling empty. Denied her chance for personal vengeance, she can at least take solace in knowing that, like Petra, she will never she that beasts face again. Save in her dreams.
Agamamenon has a very different reaction to these events. A very different reaction indeed.
REWARDS for "Cry Wolf": 10,000 nuyen 6 karma 2 CDP +1 loyalty with Rose of Sharon Howlett
For Cry: Optional Contact: Jewels (C2/L2 Professional Stabbist) for 3 RVP or 6 CDP Optional Lifestyle: May exchange RVP for lifestyle costs on a Puyallup Halfway House (1 RVP = 4000 nuyen)
Fidem: "6 and 7. They asked me to come back for 8, but I was busy at the time."
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
It's odd. You'd think I be feeling euphoria. Or pride. Or -something- that I'd finally taken the war back to the enemy. That I'd slain a demon and sent it's foul soul gibbering back to the hell where it belongs. But, I don't. I just feel empty.
I still feel empty.
Mouse was right. I'm just a big, black, empty hole where a person should be. And nothing, not even righteous vengeance in Christ's name... nothing will ever that void inside of me ever again.
Am I even really still alive? Or did the vital part of me die down there in that pit? Alone and cold. Down in the dark. If this can't, then how can anything ever possibly make me feel alive ever again? Oh Mouse. I sometimes think the only reason I'm able to hold on is knowing how crushed you'd be if I died. But no. I won't die. Not yet. Christ suffered on the cross for three days for our sins. If I have to suffer longer to rid this world of the plagues that stalk the night, so be it. My grave can wait. But theirs? Theirs has already been dug.