September 20, 2010

The search begins

We settled in back at the shop. I didn't bother changing, just draped the suit jacket over a chair, and sat with one leg thrown over the armrest. "We need to find out more about the Julii."

"Yeah yeah..Julii.. vampires, all that.. I want to find Stepping Feather." Ori said. He stood in front of my chair and stared down at me without speaking for a moment. I quirked a brow at him, hands folded over my stomach. "Can you tell me about him? I only knew him as a kid..." he pulled up a chair of his own.

I just shrugged. "I don't know if I can really be much help. I didn't know him that well either. He ran with Larissa, Roxanne, and Davareaux, who you've met, at least briefly. He's helped us out several times in the past.. always in a good mood, from what I could tell, and always entertaining to be around." I shrugged again, feeling useless. "I liked him."

Ori sat back in his chair with a look of exaggerated shock on his face. His eyes looked panicked, but his aura flashed with colors that I'd started associated with an oncoming sarcastic comment. When you see something like that as often as I do, it starts to become pretty easy to identify.

"You... like people?!" He gasped.

I crossed my arms and just gave him a bland look. "It's a rare occurrence." He grinned at me, I gave him a mock scowl. "And getting rarer by the day."

"Well I'm going to go look for him." Ori stood but I held up a hand to forestall him.

"We don't know where to start, Ori." He began to interrupted, but I glared, and he quieted. "I'm not saying we shouldn't look. I want to help you find him. But we need to figure out where to start." I said sharply.

"We could start at his grave.." Ori said, his tone uncertain.

"You already said that you lost the trail there. We need somewhere else to start, if we can help it." I said, thoughtfully.

Ori sank back down into his chair."Would his pack know? They would know, right?"

"Probably, but I don't have their cells.." I said with a frown.

"Becca may have Roxanne's number..." Nadi said softly. I looked up at her, confusion written across my face. "They used to date."

I stared at Becca, who shifted nervously. "Look, I'm not going to call her.. that was a long time ago."

I continued to stare at her incredulously. "You dated... Roxanne?"

She grimaced and nodded. "yeah..uh.. it was.. rough."

I bit back a laugh and instead just nodded. "I can imagine... its fine. Don't worry about it."

Ori, Nobody and Gio gave me a look that said when the fuck did you start caring about peoples feelings?

I shrugged to the unspoken accusation and pulled out my own phone. "I'll call Tommy. He may know."

When the werewolf pickup up his phone, he sounded groggy and mostly asleep.

"W..what?" he grumbled.
"Tommy, do you know how we can get in touch with the pack? We need to
talk to them about Stepping Feather.  We are trying to track him down,
but don't really know where to start.."
"Bad idea...the pack doesn't know he's alive yet." He yawned.
"Why the hell not?" I said, crossly.
"Wouldn't believe it. Roxanne would freak out.. don't worry about it.
I already sent help."
"Who?" Suspicious... who, me?
"You'll see." And the asshole hung up on me.

"Well that was fucking helpful..." I briefly wondered if there was a way to throttle someone through a telephone line.

"I can try Giuseppe.. he may know.." I said, lamely.
"Oh, yeah, see if daddy can help!" Ori said, feigning giddy excitement.

My eyes narrowed into dangerous slits and I fought not to crush the cell phone in my hand, mid-text message. My head rotated slowly in Ori's direction, who had a shit eating grin on his face.

Giovanni spoke up for the first time since we got back to the shop.(It was a miracle, really, I didn't know he could actually keep his trap shut for that long without passing out.)
"Eh, all little girls have daddy issues." He winked at Ori.

I sneered at them both and went back to my texting. I had no witty retort.. but that was fine. I knew were they both slept. And I was keeping a list.

Giuseppe didn't respond. I put the phone away. "Nothing."

Ori stood up again. "Well, time to start searching."
"I'm not fond of the idea of just blindly running around Chicago looking for him.." but I stood up as well.

"It's a big city." Giovanni added.

Ori frowned at us. "Look, lets just go to his grave and see what we can find. nothing else is helping."

"Alright. We still have a few tricks left, in any case." I put my suit jacket back on.

Nadi and Giovanni stood as well, Nobody remained seated.
"You guys have fun." Becca said, settling deeper into the sofa.
I arched a brow at her. "You aren't coming?"
"It's fucking cold out there!... " she heaved a giant sigh. "FINE..I'll get my coat."
"Do what you want, you don't have to come with us. You can stay here with Nobody."
"I'm coming.. I'm coming.." She grumbled. I just shrugged. I honestly didn't care either way.
Nobody's no face rippled. "I'm not staying anyway. I need to go by the freehold and talk to them about Marinas."

"Have fun with that. Lets go." I grabbed the car keys and headed out.


The grave site was filled in when we got there, but you could tell that the earth had been disturbed. We stood around the freshly turned earth in a loose semi circle. Gio stood a little bit back, eyes seeming to glaze over a bit.

Ori made sure the coast was clear and did his wolf impression. He started sniffing around the site, but seemed to grow more and more frustrated. Then, his ears perked up and his eyes got wide, like he'd figured something out.

I knelt down and dug my fingers into the dirt and concentrated. I saw nothing but blackness, and felt fear, terror, and then an all consuming rage. My own beast roared in response to the familiarity of it. I broke contact quickly and shut that door as fast as I could. I took a couple steps back and shook the grit from my hand. My voice came out slightly choked, like I was holding back strong emotions. "He was pissed... really pissed."

Wolf- Ori rolled his eyes at me. I returned the look with a scowl. Ori, unable to find a scent trail to follow, shifted back. "He's a werewolf. Care to point out anything else painfully obvious?"

Nadi chimed in and interrupted my witty comeback. "He stepped over...that's why you can't smell him.."
Ori nodded. "Yeah, I figured that out too."

I regarded the filled in grave site with a frown. The amount of rage I'd felt.. there was no way he'd been in his right mind. And I'd seen a rampaging werewolf before.. it was a state that resembled my own state of frenzy, if exponentially more destructive. When I was like that.. I couldn't think. Just fight or run...

"Ori.. is it normal to be able to step over when you're frenzied?" I asked, finally.
Ori looked at me like I was looney. "Of course not. Stepping sideways takes too much will...wait wait wait.. you aren't suggesting he..?"
"I told you. He was really pissed. That wasn't hyperbole. He was frenzied, Ori. Why do you think I took my damn hand out of the dirt so fucking fast? I didn't want to freak out too."
Ori shook his head in disbelief. "But that's just not possible!"
I crossed my arms and scowled at him. "And a werewolf coming back from the dead usually is?"
"No, but.."
"Can you step over and ask a spirit where he may have gone?" I said, ignoring his objections.
But he shook his head. "Gauntlet is too strong here. The Slaughter House Five only want to the real tough guys to be able to make the transition. They don't want to bother with the pushover spirits, they they built it up in this area. Besides, spirits aren't really my forte..."

"We have company." Giovanni interrupted, suddenly. He'd been silent the whole time (Guinness World Record, I'm sure), eyes glazed over, looking at nothing. He still stood in that quasi-meditative state. "Started to the north, then suddenly jumped Southwest."

Ori and I exchanged a glance, and bolted to the Southwest. The area was wooded, we weaved through the trees, trying to catch up to our mystery person...

And came up short in front of a still smoldering cigarette butt..but not person.

But we both picked up on the new voice talking to the others back over by the grave site. We jogged back over to find Alexandria, Nadi's sister and accomplished space mage, talking to Nadi..

So this was the help Tommy was talking about. I'd only met Nadi's sister once before.. at the battle with Ophios. She had reacted just as strongly to Stepping Feather's death as his pack had.

Currently, she and Nadi were talking to each other in a language that made my brain hurt. It also made me feel like the little kid whose parents are spelling words so she won't know whats being said. Fucking Mages.

"He doesn't know who he is." Nadi said suddenly, in English. Alexandria nodded.

I felt my eyes get big at that revelation. No wonder he hadn't come forward. He doesn't remember. I suddenly felt very nervous, and pretty damn worried. There was some threat on the edge of my consciousness, something that I knew I should be scared of, besides the simple idea of Stepping Feather being lost and alone. Something Big.

But I couldn't quiet grasp at what it was.

Nadi gestured to the air around the grave. "Can we take the memories with us?"

Alexandria looked thoughtful for a minute. "Do you have a journal or anything?"
Nadi dug into her bag and produced a slim notebook. Then Alexandria made with the mage voodoo. I'm not really sure what happened, but I could feel a build up of energy, then a rushing sensation, then an almost audible pop... and there was writing on the blank pages of the notebook. It flashed silvery, again in that strange language, then faded into a mundane to-do list, in English, once again.

"When we find him, we can give him his memories back." Alexandria said, passing the notebook back to Nadi.

"But where would he have gone?" Ori said, his voice tinged with concern and possibly something slightly more panicked.

"We can start looking for him where you'd start looking for any run away. Homeless shelters, food banks.. places like that. He might go back to places that would be familiar to him in the city, though he wouldn't know why they felt familiar." Alexandria said.

 I nodded. "We can track those places down. We already know of a few of them."

"Good. I'll start running down the shelters. Let me know if you find anything." She gave Nadi a wink.. and then disappeared..

Becca sidled up next to Nadi, now that her sister was gone. "Next time I go to the gym, wanna come with me?" She asked, suddenly.
Nadi raised one eyebrow "Why?"
Becca paused..then meekly said, "To lift weights."
Nadi's expression turned sour and she fixed Becca with a glare. Not her full on 'intimidate the shit out of you' cold look, but this one wasn't too bad.
Becca put up her hands in a defensive gesture. "What! Shes hot!" I had to bite back a laugh. She wanted Nadi to look more like her sister. I did the smart thing and kept my mouth shut.
Nadi turned and started to walk away from Becca, who followed behind her, trying to salvage the situation. "It runs in the family?" She said, nervously.
Nadi kept walking, not really headed to anywhere specific, just away from Becca. "I'm telling my mom!" Which told me Nadi wasn't as upset as she seemed, as the comment didn't seem entirely serious.
"...Is she hot too..?" Becca asked as she trailed behind Nadi.. then a root snaked up around her foot and she tripped, stumbling forward. "Ack!"

I took a few steps away from them and pulled out the phone. As amusing as the squabble was, we had shit to get done. I sent Tommy a quick text.

From: H
To: Fluffy

Thanks for the help.


From: Fluffy
To: H

No problem. Did you find anything?


From: H

He dug his way out in a frenzy..then went through the gauntlet the same way. He also doesn't remember anything.


Instead of a text, my phone rang. I answered, and gave Tommy all the details.

"Hey! Tell him..'unrecognizable growling and yipping noises'" Ori said.

Seriously. he started growling and shit, talking in that weird werewolf language. I just glared. Like I was going to relay that. "No."
"Aw..why not?" Ori whined.

"Hey, was that the werewolf that is hanging around you guys now?" Tommy asked over the phone.
"Yeah, unfortunately." I grumbled.
"Let me talk to him."
I handed the phone to Ori.
"Heeey.. Tommy right? Whats up? Thanks for the help, by the way." Ori said into my cell.
"No problem, but listen.. this whole thing with Stepping Feather is getting worse by the minute. He doesn't have any memories. Technically, right now.. he's a Lost Cub... Any pack could claim him."

"Oooh shit.." I breathed. That's what I hadn't been able to put my finger on. That was the huge threat that was hanging on the edges of my brain.

Stepping Feather was a prime target for the Pure.

"The Lex Talonis is a huge pack in Chicago. You guys need to find him fast.. before the Pure do." Tommy said to Ori, whose face had gone white as a sheet. Whiter than mine.

Ori hung up the phone and handed it back to me. He immediately took out his own, and dialed another number. I heard Volkas' voice pick up the other end. "Volkas! Hi.. its uh..Ori.. we need help. Stepping Feather is alive.. and he doesn't know who he is.. and did I mention he sidestepped while in the middle of a death-rage? Yeah.. we're on our way."

He hung up the phone and started jogging towards the car. "C'mon!"

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