This seedy motel looks to have been built in the late fifties, early sixties, with doorways to each room opening onto the parking lot. It has seen better days, and is in need of some new paint, as well as some new curtains on the windows of each room. Nonetheless, the clientele seem undisturbed by the disrepair, either too weary from the road, or too concerned with the pleasures of drugs or sex to really notice the lack of fancy decor.
Compact is the word for him: wiry, maybe 5'6" in his beat-up black combat boots, with a sense of compressed energy and imminence like a coiled spring -- or a cocked gun. Never quite still for long, balance flowing through the balls of his feet. There's a striking intensity to his narrow blue-green eyes, the colour contrasting with his fair skin and spiky copper hair; just below the left is what at first appears to be a faint mole, but closer inspection reveals as a small, long-healed scar. His features are appealing, with high cheekbones and a good jawline, but it's the confident mien and roguish smile that most often seem to draw people in.
He's in a well-worn biker jacket of the traditional sort, all fairly closely fit black leather and silvery zippers and snaps. Beneath it, he's got old black jeans with a rip in one knee and the cuffs half walked off, with a faded black band t-shirt ('Anarchy Burger - Hold the Government', parodying the In-N-Out sign) under an open dark red hawaiian shirt. There's a couple leather-and-bead bracelets on one wrist and a length of ball-chain disappearing beneath his collar; his nails were apparently painted black some time ago, since they're starting to show chips. Late teens, most likely, and when he speaks it's in a mellifluous, southern-accented baritone voice.
Shaggy brown hair and darker brown eyes frames this man's face. Justin has a slightly tanned complexion with a hint of Puerto Rican from his mother's side, Caucasian from his father's. He has a fairly lanky build, but underneath his clothes is a body fitted with new muscle. He wears loose fitted 'destroyed' blue jeans, simple tank tops, and worn down sneakers that are about five months in need of replacement. During the cold, a thick green military jacket from his Grandpa. After a mishap with a monster, he was aged roughly five years forward and now looks like a young man in his early 20's. Now at 6'2, he has finally hit the rest of his growth spurt.
At first glance, there isn't a great deal about this woman that clambors for attention. Though possessing attractive features - a subtly angular face with high cheek bones, steel blue eyes conservatively accented with dark eyeliner, and darker complexion (possibly denoting some Sicilian heritage) all complimented by black, short-cropped hair that's parted off to one side - they're not particularly striking. True, her six feet of height may earn some stray glances, but she isn't going out of her way to draw much more than a cursory appraisal.
Nothing exemplifies this more than her preferred wardrobe. Clearly something of a tomboy (though 'butch' might be a more age-appropriate description, if somewhat frowned upon if stated out loud), she wears an untucked, button down, olive drab flannel, the sleeves rolled up to her biceps. Under that is a sleeveless white shirt that, though clean, has clearly seen better days, the material just form-fitting enough to give the impression of a decently athletic physique. Continuing the motif is a faded pair of jeans, the cuffs of which are tucked into a pair of black workboots that ride up to the lower slopes of her calves.
But while the clothing - offset by a single platinum hoop in her right ear, and a dash of subtle lipstick - is largely worn and weathered, the occasional smudge of oil that failed to come out in the morning wash a nod to what's most likely a blue collar profession, she clearly puts enough time into grooming and overall cleanliness to make a decent impression, even if it's not a lasting one.
As days go, this one could be worse. The temperature hovers in the lower seventies, but the promise of higher temperatures most assuredly means the smell of congealed beer and various refuse from the nearby truck stop won't stay contained indefinitely. Those tenants from the previous night with cars of their own have emptied out of the parking lot, with only the live-ins and overnight drivers remaining behind.
It appears that there's at least one person joining the ranks of the latter, however. Burdened with two oversized suitcases stuffed to breaking point, and the modified backpack she's been carrying everywhere, Mona doesn't seem to be having too much trouble dragging the whole mess of belongings to the door of her room, the key tenuously held between her ring and pinky finger on one hand, her phone held aloft by her shoulder as she (very carefully) nods along to -- whoever she's talking to.
"Well," she says, setting the suitcases down in order to start opening the room up, "so long as it gets done, that's really all I care about." She wiggles the lock, which, if her brief show of frustration is any indication, is being argumentative, but eventually obeys. "Right," she says, shouldering open the door. "Right. Keep me updated." A pause. "Yeah, thanks." Beat. "No, I'm fine." Beat. "Yes, I'm sure." She sighs. "Yeah. Thanks Roz." And, with that, the call is ended, and the first of the two suitcases is grabbed.
Even with the over-nighters already back on their way, the place isn't silent; the sound of the television spills from behind one door, muffled arguing from another. The noise a couple doors down from the one Mona's opening becomes clearer as that door opens as well, a possibly familiar baritone voice singing, "--be free, 'cause I'm selfish, I'm obscene." Felix half-dances out, turning to close the door behind him and looking startled as he recognizes Mona and her stuff, then flashing her a grin, continuing without pause, "I get a little bit Ghengis Khan, don't want you to get it on with nobody else but me, with nobody else but me..." His door locked, he heads her way. "Mornin'! New neighbour now, huh? Need a hand?"
Mona looks up at the sound of a familiar voice, squinting in his direction for a moment to discern if the familiarity is unwarranted. It isn't, of course, though she doesn't seem all tha stunned to see him approach. A little incredulous, sure, but-- "Not really," she says, still propping the door open with her shoulder, "but I won't say no to one." Setting the larger of the two suitcases down past the door, she takes a look at the room's interior, then, noting the faintly musty odor, and the more-- 'lived in' qualities, overall. "Take it you're one of the more 'permanent' residents?"
Felix takes the other suitcase from Mona, if she seems inclined to have it taken, and shrugs. "Depends how you define more permanent an' resident," he replies, "Me an' T checked in month an' a bit ago, reckon we got a couple weeks left. He ain't usin' it now, obviously, but I might keep it some. One thing we ain't overflowin' with over there:" a slight head motion in the direction of the caern, "Showers." From here it's clear that his hair is, in fact, still somewhat damp.
"My thoughts exactly," Mona replies, letting the door slip shut behind her, the backpack tossed into a nearby easy chair, while one of the suitcases is placed on the bed. "You can put that wherever, by the way," she says, gesturing loosely. "And thanks. It's appreciated."
Felix sets the suitcase down next to the bed, and takes a look around the room. It looks... much like the others he's seen here. Not a shock. "No problem. An' somehow I thought you might be on the sidea the angels there. Jamethon told us showers were a crutch." He rolls his eyes, but seems amused about it.
"Jamethon," Mona repeats. "He's a Get, right?" She tch's. "Why doesn't that surprise me?" Opening up the suitcase and flipping it open, apparently unconcerned with the young man's presence, she draws away what looks like a small white polar fleece blanket resting on top of the items, and-- well. There's no clothes in there, certainly. Looks more like a bunch of personal items, as well as a mix if electronics. "That aside, I'm glad you stopped by," she continues, carefully procuring not one but-- two laptops, one that looks particularly ancient, the other not so much. "I've been meaning to track you down. Got some questions I could use to have some answers to."
"Yup," Felix says, and something about the syllable suggests it doesn't particularly surprise him either, "...I told him it's a luxury, which ain't nearly the same thing." He leans against the edge of the dresser, thumbs tucked into his jeans pockets, idly watching the suitcase-opening. "If I got the answers, you're welcome to 'em. We talkin' speakin' in private kinda questions, or suitable over breakfast kinda questions?"
"Little of both," Mona replies. "Depending on how many women--" --likely meaning, the non-soliciting kind-- "--show up at the diner, I might attract more attention than either of us would really prefer if we're talking shop about the caern itself."
Felix tilts his head. "Are you expectin' some?" he asks, then laughs as the other interpretation dawns, "Oh, you mean dependin' how much of a sausagefest it tends to be? Ain't =too= terrible; 'side from the waitresses, there's a middlin' number of people pass through, plus some of the truckers here an' there. But bein' fair, yeah, ain't ever seen it reach 50-50. Anythin' real sensitive we prolly oughta handle beforehand, either way."
"No such thing as being too paranoid," Mona says, unearthing an only semi-tangled set of cords for the two computers, one of which looks like a standard phone cord, "Anyway-- first things first. I've been asking around about the overall history of this place," she continues, sorting out the cords, each set going beside their corresponding machine, "and most of what I've been getting is a lot of generalizations. Doesn't really sit well with me." She looks up at Felix. "So. What's the story? What's really going on around here?"
"The overall history of the place, like, long-term?" Felix asks, and pushes up from where he's leaning, wandering the room a bit and absently touching things here and there. "Ain't got that yet; gettin' a good version sorted out's kinda a project I got. I can tell you some stuff here an' there, an' I can tell you who I'm aimin' to try to get what I can outta to get it put back together. What's goin' on around here NOW, though, that I reckon I got a pretty decent line on."
"Recent history, and the here-and-now are my primary interests," Mona says, moving the more recent laptop to the rickety desk in the corner of the room, cords and all. "As for the rest, I'd be curious to hear what you start to piece together," which she seems to mean genuinely, though it's partly muffled by ducking down to start plugging everything in, "but, for now, I just want the basics. The people involved, persons of interest, the places I need to steer clear of. All of it." Straightening, she looks back over at him, and says, "Which I know is no small order, so-- I'll be happy to spring for breakfast."
"Good, 'cause by the time I get through it all I reckon I'll be hungry enough that won't be no small order neither," Felix says, grinning again. He dips into his jacket pocket for the Altoids tin his smokes live in. "You mind?" he asks, tilting it toward her in his hand. There's an ashtray on the night table; this is not the sort of place that ever switched to non-smoking rooms. "Lessee, where to begin... Queen shit first, I think. You heard much about it before you got here?"
Mona shakes her head. "Go right ahead," she says, nodding to the cigarettes. "Think I'll do the same." Opening the backpack, she digs around for the case she procured the other day, a hand-rolled cigarette plucked from inside, and a lighter drawn out from her pocket. Lighting it, she says, "As for the Queens," taking a brief drag, and exhaling a small plume, "the brass back home has some idea of what's going on. Just enough to make 'em antsy. As for the rest?" She thinks on it. "I know there's three. One in LA, one in New York, and one here. I know they've got their own personal armies, and I know they've got everyone around here scared shitless, even if they're not likely to put it thta way."
Felix wanders over by the window while he lights up, and the tin slides away again. "So far so good," he says, "An' I expect you've heard about the Spiral Revolution riots that were goin' on a while back, when so many caerns were fallin'." There's a shift in his bearing, a tension, that suggests a swift flare of his Rage -- not enough to fray his control, though it might be enough to remind one that it's a gibbous moon, and so is he. "So, yeah, towers in LA, New York, an' here, an' word is there's a Queen in each. The one here's in Queen's Tower, appropriately enough -- useta be called the GENOM Tower, I heard, so I reckon the name ain't a coincidence. It's downtown, you mighta seen it. That's the one real don't-go-there advice folks gave me when I got here, that an' the sewers, though that was in passin'."
"Now, the one we got here, it's been said she's the smallest an' weakest of the Queens -- an' that they're sisters, but they don't get on. We don't really know exactly what it is they are, though. Far's I've heard, no one's seen 'em, though Alicia, she dreamspoke Amelia, the Dancer in charge of the place's security, an' got an image from that. She's done a sketch, she said, though I ain't seen it. Said she's a thin, willowy creature, with long hair, real pale." He leans up against the wall, now, taking a drag. "Anyway, from what Alicia said, they must get on well enough to coordinate some, 'cause she says the caerns the Spirals attacked, an' the towers, they all form some kinda massive ritual, tryin' to raise somethin' bigger an' scarier'n we've seen before. What that is, I dunno. Enough Septs managed to resist that it got interrupted, but not ruined yet."
If she notices the shift in demeanor, Mona doesn't make mention of it, or give it much acknowledgement. A courtesy, most likely. As is, the only real sign that it didn't escape her attention is her willingness to listen intently without interruption. For now, anyway.
To her credit, she doesn't hide her initial reaction to what she hears, from the furrowed brow to the subtle frown. No matter the fairweather attitude, it seems, she isn't immune to the gravity of the situation. And as the explanation comes to a close, she straightens some, taking a long drag off her cigarette to think that over, eyes half-focused on the far wall.
"And Hanford?" she asks, then, looking back towards Felix. "Does that fit into this whole mess, or is that its own separate shit-show?"
"That," Felix says, pointing at her with the cigarette, "seems kinda complicated. But I promise I'll get to it. So. This Queen, yeah, she's got herself an army. Lot of Dancers, but also these other things we mostly call wraiths. They're ugly fuckers -- when you can see 'em. More or less like people, except white, ALL white, hair an' skin an' all, an' the skin's got weird patterns. Looks kinda ribbed some places, an' they got slits like gills by their noses an' this kinda beard of weird tendrils. Long nails, lotsa sharp nasty teeth. They can be invisible, an' if they are, only special gifts or somethin' like infrared binoculars'll show 'em. If you ain't got a pair yet, I reckon there's still a couple back at the compound that ain't claimed. Somethin' like smoke oughta work too, but only if you get it where they are so you can see where it don't go. Do NOT let 'em touch you. They suck the life outta you with their hands." He pushes off the wall and paces a bit, too much energy to remain where he was. "Justin, yeah? How old would you guess he was?" He gives her a moment to call up the memory of the tall young man. "'cause he's 16. One of them wraiths took prolly five or six years off him. Paralyzed him for a day or so, an' it hurt like fuck." He reaches the ashtray, and makes use of it before moving off again.
"Also, they're telepathic. With each other, not us, but anythin' they see or hear or know, the Queen sees an' hears an' knows also. Now, the Queen we got here, this isn't where she actually wanted to set up shop. She wanted Seattle. But the BSD hive there ran her off. Run by a guy called Renegade." It may be a name she's heard; certainly it's known that Seattle was lost to the Spirals decades ago. "Apparently, he an' she got major bad blood -- from that, or before, who knows. But the upshot is she moved here instead. Nearest big city, I s'pose. An' that's more or less the background, though I reckon there's a detail here or there I didn't fit in yet. Any questions 'fore I move onto the recent history?"
Mona squints a bit at the description, quietly nursing her cigarette as the information is given. The *specifics*, though-- that gets an arch of her brows. But then there's the social specifics, which she immediately clues into. "A few, actually," she says, turning to dig through her backpack, stopping only once she's procured an old mini-cassette tape recorder. "But first," she says, raising the device to punctuate the following question: "do you mind if I record this?"
"Oh," she adds, motioning to the desk, "and feel free to pull up a chair."
Felix glances at the chair, and pulls it out, twirling it around to sit on it backward, resting one arm across the back and his chin on the arm. "Prolly end up up again in three minutes, but hey." The recording takes a moment more consideration. "What for? You ain't worried it might fall into the wrong hands?" he asks, though it seems like genuine inquiry rather than an indirect 'no'.
Smirking at the comment, Mona just as quickly sobers at the question. "Not if it's on a medium that can be hijacked through a datastream," she says. "It's just a precaution. I use it to take notes when I don't have time to write something down, and-- well. Like I said, you can never be too paranoid."
Felix considers a moment more, then shrugs. "A'right, but as always, if it gets captured or killed, I'm disavowin' any knowledge of its actions. Now, lessee..." He smokes, then goes on. "While back, a few of us were at Slaughterhouse -- it's a club, it's got this wall for folks to spraypaint. There was a Spiral glyph on it. Now, you maybe heard or saw they were poppin' up where the Spiral Revolution thing was goin' on. Just gettin' too near 'em can make you frenzy, I heard later. I saw it, pointed it out to J, we went over to dis it. When we did, the DJ called attention to it, started drummin' up Revolution talk," and he sounds a bit ambivalent just there, "nearly got shit kickin' off in there, 'fore I got it settled down some. He was a Spiral, there was two others with him as well. I mention this 'cause this's the first time we ran into him, far's I know. Later, he found Briari to make her an offer. Said he was workin' for the Queen, but they hate her, an' they'd let us know when her pet mage was out an' about so we could kill him, if we'd kill him. That mage was doin' some kinda wardin' shit that made it so we couldn't scry into the tower, couldn't do shit in the Umbra around it -- although the shitload of banes ain't a help there neither, but."
"So, keepin' this bit short, we killed the mage. Which I'll get back to later. As you might guess, the Queen wasn't exactly thrilled about it. She sent a group of Dancers an' a wraith to the Shadow Lord safehouse, where they ambushed Thane, an' tortured him a while, eatin' his life an' then givin' it back, I think. He managed to escape, an' that's when word went out to leave the safehouses an' most folks ended up spendin' more time on the bawn. Next full moon, at the moot, a Dancer showed up at the caern, up on the edge, sayin' he had a message from the Queen, basically that she was pissed we gacked her warper. Some wraiths appeared to shoot us with silver, couple other Dancers ran in, we killed 'em. Small group, though, way smaller'n she coulda sent. Then, bit after that, she sent a bunch of Dancers to Edgewood, that's the place out near the bawn folks stay an' gather an' shit. We'd already cleared out 'cause OUR mage friend sensed shit was gonna go down there an' warned us, but they still got an ambush in when some folks were kinda patrollin' by. Didn't kill any of us, but they've still got the place. An' that's more or less where that side of shit is sittin' right now."
Hitting the record button, and setting the recorder between them, Mona listens, absently nursing her cigarette until there's little more than a roach left, the last of it snubbed out into the ash tray. At that point, she digs in her pack again - still clearly listening - and unearths a store-bought pack of cigarettes, instead. 100's. Presumably for lasting value. By the time one's lit-- it seems her curiosity's getting the better of her.
"Question," she says, ashing the cigarette. "Several of them, actually, but let's start small and work our way up from there. First-- tell me a little bit about the Spiral Revolution."
"You already said they're lead by a guy named Renegade, right?" Given a yes or no, she moves on. "Okay, so-- you don't have to go into too much detail. I just want to know what their agenda is. Or," she adds, on the off chance that the answer isn't clear, "what you think it is."
"Nah, I said the Seattle BSDs are led by a guy named Renegade," Felix replies, getting one more drag off his cigarette before he puts out the little that remains and drops the butt into the ashtray. "Two or three years back now, that's when the riots were sweepin' across the nation, you prolly remember that, right? People risin' up in various cities, callin' it the Spiral Revolution, against the fascists an' oligarchs an' other rich assholes controllin' shit an' keepin' folks down under their heel." There's genuine fury there, and that sense of rising Rage again, this time actually pushing the edges; he's on his feet again suddenly, striding across the room while he digs in his pocket for the cigarettes again. It's actually two or three full seconds before he turns around and comes back again, lighting the cig as he goes. "People got fuckin' valid reasons to be pissed," he says, dark and clipped, "...but these assholes were stirrin' it up as cover to get at caerns, take 'em while the city was burnin'. All over the country, here an' there. From what Alicia said, there was a pattern, they were bein' done specifically, for some kinda ritual. That the Queens were orchestratin' it, or at least they're part of it too. Some places, like here, they defused shit before it went off. Enough to fuck up the pattern, temporarily. But not permanently. Prolly why they were tryin' it here again."
Mona allows the tense moment to pass in silence, mindful of the strong reaction, but not appearing too terribly ruffled or concerned by it. Just considerate. "It was hard to watch," she says, in a nod to it, leaning forward to rest her elbows on her knees. "Saw some protests in Madison, too, but it never escalated to the point that it did in other places. My guess is we never got farther than people watching it on TV, showing their support." She takes a hit off her cigarette. "That, and we've never been a high priority target for anyone but the medical subsidiaries Pentex likes to barf out at any given moment." With that, she gives a light shake of her head, and says, "Anyway-- I've got some other questions about the Dancer that approached-- Briari, you said? But I'm curious about this 'Renegade' guy specifically."
Felix sits back down on the chair, this time sideways, and watches a breath of smoke waft toward the ceiling. "Well, I ain't exactly done with the round up of shit, anyhow," he says, and then turns his attention back down and over to Mona. "The Dancer that approached Briari, he's been goin' by Blue, on account he's got bright fuckin' blue hair. Now, like I said, he hates the Queen. The security pack, Alicia said they were terrified of her. Other Dancers she got, they may or may not like her, but apparently if the wraiths do their life-suckin'-an'-returnin' thing to you a bunch, it bends you to their will. You turn into their slave. So those ones, she got in pretty good control. Anyway, given the mage op went so well, Blue went to Briari some more. He warned us about a couple attacks, I guess. An' at some point, she found out he's actually Renegade, under an illusion so he an' his people -- or what's left of 'em 'cause I would =guess= some of her Dancers were his guys before -- could sabotage shit from the inside. They want each other dead. Thane says Renegade's agreed if his guys get out an' we don't come after him, he'll help with the Tower attack against the Queen, not in straight up fightin' but in sabotage an' shit like that. Meanwhile, we had a kin in there, an' the Queen turned him, got a lot of info out of him. Renegade got him out, but ain't given him back. Says he's detoxin' an' he'll give him back unharmed soon, which a lotta people ain't thrilled about, him bein' held by Dancers. Lotta folks ain't thrilled at the idea of cooperatin' with them in general, neither." The tone is neutral enough there that it's not clear whether he's in that group or not. He takes another drag, and shakes his head. "There's still s'more, an' I ain't even got to the Hanford shit yet."
"Enemy of my enemy," Mona says contemplatively, ashing her cigarette into the tray, her expression turning thoughtful. She goes quiet for a time, clearly mulling over *something*, then says, "In my experience, you don't need cooperation if you have collateral," gaze flickering up towards Felix. "Question is, what kind of collateral would a guy like Renegade pay attention to?"
"Enemy of my enemy is still a fuckin' asshole I don't trust half as far as I can throw him," Felix says dryly, "...in Homid. But yeah, that's about the size of it. An' I've been wonderin' somethin' similar. I really ain't big on him havin' hold of our kin, partly 'cause it's just fucked up, but partly 'cause that's collateral for =him=, an' I can already see shit gettin' strained between some folks on our side about it, too." He leans on the back of the chair, taking another drag. "My feelin' is, we don't really know enough about him as a guy to work out how he thinks. All we really got is guesses based on what we know about Dancers in general an' the fact that he's been a real successful leader for 'em for a longass time. An' that he's apparently a pretty powerful Ragabash. Though you ask me, 'pretty powerful' seems like a given; you ain't headin' up a Hive strong enough to keep a city for ages if you ain't," he tilts his head slightly, glancing up and to the side as he picks a word, "effective."
"Yeah," Mona says, still clearly mulling that over. "It's something to look into, though. And it never hurts to start small."
"Thing I keep askin' an' no one answers is: why's he give this much of a shit? Enough to leave Seattle an' come here tryin' to fuck the Queen over even after he kicked her outta the city? Risk more of his guys? I reckon might be she took a fair number of 'em, with the wraith will-bendin' shit, but would that be enough to keep him at her?" Felix leans to ash his cigarette. "...yeah. I think it's somethin' to look into. Anyhow, you might or might not've seen in the news, mayor here got assassinated a month or so back, we had some riotin'? That seemed to be a flare up of the Spiral Revolution shit. Anyway, Briari was in the crowd when the shootin' happened, and so was Renegade. He found her there; seemed like there was three other Spirals after him, one of 'em one of the ones from the incident at Slaughterhouse. She found 'em after, an' told him where they were, to see what he'd do. Also told him there was a hit squad headin' over to take 'em out. Next day he told her he took care of 'em by 'telling 'em to leave'. She says, either he lied to her an' they WERE his packmates, or he has enough influence over the Queen's spirals that they're scared of his name. ...I kinda lean toward lyin', seein' as seems to me it'd be weird for folks that'd be scared off by a guy's name an' word to be tryin' to catch or attack him like that in the first place."
Mona's brow furrows a little at the piece of information, gaze flickering away from her cigarette and focusing on Felix. "Begs the question of why he'd lie in the first place. What's the benefit?" she says. "More importantly, what's he trying to cover for?" She takes the last puff of her cigarette, and stubs it out into the ashtray. "Not to say it doesn't have that familiar whiff of bullshit, but..."
Felix nods. "Yeah, exactly," he says, "It just don't hold together well. It's... a weird thing to tell her, y'know? 's why it's stickin' with me, I reckon. Them chasin' after him but then leavin' when he tells 'em to is just hinky, so why would he tell her that's how it went down, true or not? What's the payoff? An' if it =ain't= true, what really got done about it? Best I got is he had to say =somethin'= an' couldn't use anythin' where it'd be weird when they show up again later, but even then, why say you did anythin', why not just say you went to confront them but they'd already left town or some shit?" Another drag. "S'pose it's possible Briari ain't reportin' it exact, leavin' somethin' out she don't realise matters. She's a real good scout an' spy an' computer-whatever an' shit, but she ain't always the absolute best at people." There's a dry edge to that observation.
"Makes you wonder if you guys were the ones he was trying to head off at the pass," Mona says speculatively. "Or that he's trying to have it both ways. But you'd think there'd have been a reprisal by now." She shakes her head. "I don't know. I'd have to know more about the guy's disposition before I started thinking too hard about it, but it's something for later. Or something to talk to Briari about, at least." She offers a faint smile. "Sometimes, all it takes is the right questions to shake that kind of thing loose."
"'zactly," Felix says again, "Not enough information 'bout him as a guy. So yeah, talk to Briari ...y'all are the Questioners, after all." He gives her a quick grin. "If I ain't around when you do, tell me 'bout it after, so I can keep workin' on keepin' track of all this shit." He straightens up, finishing off the cigarette and putting it out as he stands. A good stretch, and he's moving once more, though it's back to casual wandering again. "Now, I =think= that covers what I got on the Queen situation. But if anythin' else strikes me, I'll letcha know. Meanwhile: Hanford."
Fishing a small notebook out of the pocket of her jeans, and a pen to follow, Mona jots something down, and pockets the book again. "Yeah," she says, leaning her hands back against the bed. "Hanford." At that, she can't help a small, albeit humorless smile. "You guys really know how to go all out, you know that
Pack> Justin says "Hey, I'm here, where the fuck are you? (XD)"
Pack> Felix says "Fuck, is it time already? Gimme a sec."
Pack> Justin says "Is your happy meal plastic watch broke? Where you at anyways? I can come to you."
Felix laughs. "Go big or go home," he says, and leans briefly into the bathroom, flicking the light switch and glancing around, then turning it off as he wanders away. "Right. So Hanford, it useta be where the government refined radioactive shit for bombs, you prolly know that part. It's been a hive, an' it's been a caern, the Caern of the Last Days, but that was lost--" He breaks off, glancing toward the cheap clock-radio on the nightstand, "Fuck, later'n I thought, J's here to use the shower, I better go let him in. Less you don't mind him usin' yours, then I'll just tell him to come here."
Mona's demeanor shifts somewhat at the mention of a newcomer, moving away from rapt attention to the more relaxed manner she usually puts forward. "Might be best if we adjourn to your place," she says. "I'd like to at least have a conversation with the guy before I invite him to use the shower."
<OOC> Mona adds a loose smirk in there somewhere.
Pack> Felix says "Nah, hang tight, be right there."
Pack> Justin looks suspicious now.
"Fair 'nough," Felix replies, strolling toward the door of the room. He opens it and steps out into the walkway, a couple doors down from the door to his own room, and glances that direction to see if Justin is, as expected, there. The Galliard looks... well, completely like his normal self, really, and greets his packmate with the usual lift of the chin as he heads over.
Raising to her feet, Mona pockets her cigarettes (but not before fishing one out of the pack), the recorder, and zips up the backpack to shoulder it. "Lead the way," she says mildly, exiting the room and locking it behind her, her gaze shifting towards Justin. If she has any cheeky greetings for him, it doesn't show.
Standing in front of Felix's room is Justin. The coyote pack alpha is currently wearing a pair of destroyed and repaired jeans and a tank top with a shark on it that reads: I'm Jawsome. On his back is a manhole cover strapped to him like Captain America's shield. Swaying back and forth on his busted sneakers, he seems amped up. When the pair exit Mona's room a few doors down, he lifts a brow upwards curiously. "Yo. Whaddup guys?"
"Fuck's with this?" Felix asks, tapping the manhole cover as he reaches the other guy, then pulls out his room key and turns to let the group inside. "Turns out I got a new neighbour," he adds, indicating Mona with a small tilt of his head, "We were havin' a chat."
"I was seeing if he knew any good call girls I could drop some money on," Mona says dryly.
"It's the new Gnawer high fashion. I hear it's all 'the rage'." Justin says with a grin on his face as he waits for Felix to open the door, then quirks a brow up at Mona's declaration. He shifts his jaw a bit, then looks to Felix. "I got stuff to say, but since she's a Fury, and I really like my testicles, I'm starting to second guess anything that may come out of my mouth."
"Be a shame to have 'em survive the barbecue an' then lose 'em anyhow," Felix says, turning the knob and stepping inside. The room is much like Mona's own, except that it has two beds and one of them is only haphazardly made. The other isn't actually much better, but enough that it's less immediately noticeable. He sits on the end of the messier of the bed and flops onto his back, glancing to the others while they finish entering, and adds with a grin, "I recommended Hailey an' Kelly."
Mona purses her lips to avoid the oncoming laugh, and doesn't make much of an attempt to hide it. "Settle down," she says, punctuating the words with a wry smile. "I'm only a ball-breaker if you start getting creepy." She arches a brow. "Or stupid," she adds, which, while vague as all get-out, is stated in such a way that it isn't left open for interpretation. "You keep that in mind, and you'll be fine." Entering the room, she looks first for the ash tray, then fishes for a lighter. "In any event," she continues, pausing to light up, "Felix is getting me up to date on what's going on around here. Can't say I'd mind hearing multiple takes on it."
"I'm freaking Duke Nukem dude. I got balls of steel." Justin quotes the famous video game as he peels out of his shirt on his trek for the bathroom, revealing a pair of scars over his chest that look like he got hickeys from a lamprey eel. Kicking the bathroom door shut behind him to continue undressing, he calls out, "Whatever Felix has told you, I probably don't got much to add. I just grunt and punch stuff."
"You might be surprised," Mona calls back. Then, to Felix, she says, "Any place I can sit, or does the house rule boil down to 'wherever?'"
"Least popular exercise DVD in the series," Felix says as the Ahroun disappears into the bathroom. Mona's question gets a negligent wave. "More or less wherever, yeah. Get comfy, I don't care." There is indeed an ashtray -- two, actually, one on each nightstand, but he doesn't light up again. Yet. "So, okay, where were -- right, vague Hanford history."
The shower kicks on after a flush of the toilet and the rustle of the curtain can be heard as the Ahroun steps in to wash off. There is no singing or humming from him. He is a quiet showerer.
Glancing up at the sound of the shower, Mona nonetheless keeps her attention on Felix, and says, "Yeah. I'm familiar with the facility, the controversy surrounding it--" She pauses, takes a hit off her cigarette. "Brushed up on it on my way into town, but didn't get a whole lot of details otherwise."
Felix nods, and sits back up, pulling his legs up as well to sit crosslegged on the bed. "Okay. Shit, this one's harder to get in order, prolly 'cause I ain't been talkin' to folks about it as much. Let's start with: it's been a hive an' a caern an' now it's a pit of ooze, this pitch black ooze. People call it the ooze, for obvious reasons, or the Nothin', or the Not. It kinda... it unravels reality, warps it. Eats it, maybe. It ain't =Right=. And it ain't only at Hanford, though that seems to be where it's kinda... headquartered. Comin' from. Not sure what the right way to say is," he starts.
It doesn't take long for Mona to switch back into 'rapt attention' mode, though that shouldn't come as a surprise: she's leaving the tape recorder aside for the time being. "A vector, maybe?" she says, ashing her cigarette.
After a few quick minutes of showering, the water shuts off. The door opens up to reveal shirtless Justin with wild wet hair. Scrubbing a finger back through his dark chocolate tangles, he flops down next to Felix on the bed. Squinting his eyes, he lets out a huff. "Man, that fucking ooze."
"A vector?" Felix asks. He sighs, glancing toward the bathroom as the door opens, then back to Mona. "What we know about it... it can infect or taint things that're around it too much, people or spirits or whatever, an' take 'em over. Spirits are terrified of it. It also makes these things called Echoes, which can teleport an' eat Gnosis an'... I don't even know what else, honestly, but they're weird. They're like an ooze-version memory of a bein' it... ate, I think. An' all the magpies have vanished. Normal ones an' spirit ones. But there's weird ones around places there's ooze, maybe spirit ones, but if so they're... they ain't right neither."
Mona glances towards Justin at the comment, but her attention switches to Felix as the explanation continues. "Yeah," she says. "That's a vector. 'Source of infection.' Doesn't matter how big or small it happens to be." She pauses-- shaking her head slightly. "Eleanor's gonna shit herself when she hears this," she says under her breath. Looking up to Justin, she said, "Take it you've had some first-hand experience with it?"
Justin shrugs his shoulders upwards. "No more, no less than anyone else. I know that when they effect something and attack you, that they are damn near invincible without luck on your side. When you strike them, you go numb. It's like dipping your claws in novocaine. You grow cold. Also, gifts don't work against it ... um ... it kinda just sucks whatever you throw at it up. Heat for example. I remember this mission everyone went out to and they were attacked by a pack of ooze spirals. Briari was blasting away at them with her shot gun gauntlets and they just absorbed the blasts and the blasts extinguished. They had to go au'natural with claws and teeth, but it wasn't easy." He rubs at his nose with the back of his hand. "They don't feel pain either. Not when they're totally under the oozes' control. Whatever they used to be are gone. Just puppets now serving a master. Cut their legs off and they will keep on coming without a blink."
"Well, more'n me," Felix says, "I ain't fought it yet. While I been here, the Queen shit's kinda been takin' center stage." He nods to Mona's vector explanation, and agrees, "Yeah, it seems like it's the source. An' it's not... new. It's been there a long, long time. 'cause there's two big... things in the area. It, an' another thing under the Blue Mountains. A massive spirit, seems like, a powerful Wyld force. It an' the Nothin', they shaped the land by fightin' each other, long ago. An' that spirit's wakin' up too. If they start fightin' again, it'll cause a shitload of destruction. We already got earthquakes from it. They're like, what's the term, yin an' yang? An' when one's doin' shit the other gets goin' too."
Mona nods, taking a moment to take a pull off her cigarette before she responds-- and even then, she takes a moment to think things over, as she had before. "Go big or go home, indeed," she says, to no one in particular. "So-- no one's actually had a chance to see the point of origin," she continues, looking up at the both of them. "Or, if they have, they're dead and gone."
"All of that is outside of my paygrade to be honest. I know Val has been working the ooze angle real deeply. So has the mage cat. Us coyotes have kinda not got too involved in it. At least not yet." Justin sprawls backwards on the bed, tucking his arms under his head as he does.
Felix pushes up from where he's sitting and starts roaming the room again, much as he did in Mona's, though surely he knows exactly what's in this one and where. "That... is kinda hard to say, dependin' what you mean by point of origin. Like, if you mean when they came into bein', I reckon only spirits maybe might've seen that an' made it this long. But if you mean when things started gettin' weird there... Val said she went there an' some of the Garou who used to protect it are still there. Sorta. Consumed by the ooze. So now they're... Echoes. They got the form, some intelligence, Dakota said, but they're 'bare shreds of memories that were'." It's clear enough the last bit is a quote. "The echo of their Warder still guards. But I dunno if there's enough to communicate with." He glances toward the ceiling. "It really is a pain tryin' to get this one into some kinda order. There's someone else, though, who's been there. Is there, I think. A mage. He's been studyin' the Nothin'. He's also been in contact with =our= mage, the mage-cat."
"'Got the form' meaning they look like they should, or they look like the name implies?" Mona asks, leaning forward to rest her elbows on her knees. "More importantly-- you got a name for this mage, or is that something I should dig up on my own?"
"They look like ooze in the right shape," Felix says, "an' no, I don't think anyone's got that mage's name. Ain't even sure the mage-cat does. You meet him yet? Goes by Brings-the-Pack, though I reckon if you ran into a talkin' cougar already the name ain't totally necessary for makin' that ID." He gives Justin a quick grin and a 'Later' as the Ahroun excuses himself to get back to bawn and relieve someone on patrol. After the door closes, Felix's wandering takes him to the air conditioner, where he snags one of a couple 20oz Coke bottles sitting there. It opens easily, and he has a drink. Throat's probably starting to get dry by now. "Where was I... okay. So, also, gettin' in contact with the ooze can make you sick. That you don't just heal from, an' Mother's Touch don't fix it, an' Cleansin' don't neither. Only thing that's cured is touchin' Ghost's blood. Sick person touches it, they get better, Ghost gets sick, it goes away in a day or so. You met Ghost yet? I'll come back to her. Meanwhile. That ooze, it ain't stayin' in Hanford. You been explorin' the city, right? You seen where they're buildin' Hilliard Hospital?"
This is the part where she yanks out that notepad again, names and shorthand jotted down every time something new is mentioned. Which, in this case, is a lot. And, finally, there's the rapid-fire questions, which, for the first time since this whole conversation started, seem to catch her off-guard. Ghost who? that look seems to say. Then comes Hilliard, and there's a glimmer of frustration. "I've seen it," she says. "Just didn't have much context."
Felix pauses, seemingly catching the look, or the glimmer, or some kind of cue at least, as there's a flash of a look that doesn't quite reach apologetic, but does at least get to something like sympathy or commiseration. "Yeah, it's a lotta shit," he says, shaking his head, and sits down on the bed again. "Okay. They think they're buildin' a new hospital. But there was a Hilliard Hospital there before, right there on that spot. No one seems to remember it ever existed. The records are gone, the photos disappear somewhere, everyone seems to think it's always been an empty lot. But it was a hospital before. A fucked up hospital, with a Nexus Crawler attached to it, I heard, but it was there, an' it blew up. An' all the normal folk've forgotten it ever was." Another shake of his head, brow furrowed. "The Umbral echo's all messed up, too. An' the old parking garage, that's still there, an' it ain't right neither. That's where we killed the Queen's mage -- remember I said I'd get back to that? Well, he was doin' some kinda magic there when we went after him... an' when he died, he bled more'n one guy should, an' after the first bit it started comin' out pitch black. Like the ooze. Now, I dunno if it WAS ooze, 'cause I didn't touch it. But we know it's been messin' with some of the Queen's minions an' causin' her shit too, got to her Tower. We also know the ooze's been collectin' under that parkin' garage. Brings-the-Pack said it's spread beneath the ground, real deep, in a way that nearly mimics the spread of a cancer." This seems to trigger another memory, as he adds, "He also said he took a sample of it to another mage, a real powerful one, an' neither of 'em could harm or destroy it. Says it's outside of reality itself, but capable of destroyin' it. And it hungers for radioactive shit. ...an' Gnosis. Though that last bit ain't from him, that's from the Corax."
Sobering some, Mona continues to listen, jotting things down from time to time. Either the slip being noticed put her back on track, or she's finding it easier to follow, because there isn't a repeat. Still, there's at least some acknowledgement in the simply stated, "I may need to get more details from you later. This is--" She pauses. "Well. Let's just say you've got your hands full."
"That said," she sighs, flipping the notebook closed, "so do I, apparently."
"Tryin' to go over it all at once, suddenly I'm amazed we got any room left in 'em for food an' drink," Felix says, taking another swallow of the latter, after which it occurs to him to offer her some, although it's by way of offering the bottle toward her, not one of the ones still on the AC. "I =think= we just got two fair-sized facets left, an' some round an' about bits. You wanna plow through, or take a break an' get some," a glance at the clock, "lunch, first?"
Mona looks up at the offered bottle. "No offense," she says, offering a halfsmile, "but I prefer my drinks neat." She gets to her feet, then, and says, "That's good for sneaking into movie theatres, though." She shoulders the backpack, glancing at the clock, herself. "You got any preferences for lunch? Or are you okay with sticking to the diner?"
Felix shrugs, taking another drink of it himself, and gives her a quick grin at the movie theatres remark. "'s good for takin' pretty much anywhere," he says, and stands, putting the lid back on and sticking the bottom of the bottle into his hip pocket. "An' ain't nothin' wrong with the diner. Food's pretty good. 's where I was headin' when I ran into you anyhow."
"Was hoping you'd say that," Mona says, though she hardly sounds put off by the idea. "Looks like one of those places that doesn't look at you sidelong if you order a drink this 'early.'" She smirks, and inclines her head towards the door. "Shall we?"
"Yup," Felix replies brightly, and leads the way out of the room, locking the door behind them. It's not a long walk across the asphalt to the diner; the neon looks better when the sun's gone down, but the architecture keeps its dated charm all day long. The Galliard scans the windows as they approach the place, and looks faintly pleased with what he sees; it's not overly crowded at present, but there are people at the counter and in some of the booths, mostly obvious truckers but with a family at one booth, and a couple at one end of the counter. A blonde woman a bit older than Mona is bustling around behind the counter today, while a pretty brunette around Felix's age is tending the tables.