The moon has shattered and her pieces retrieved…
The clash for the last piece could have ended in the Harbringers of a Dying Mother‘s demise. But the Margrave’s forces arrived to save the group and allow for the Nuwisha, Laughs at Life to help erect semi- permanent moon bridges. The Nation remains united in more then spirit again and the war effort resumes in the face of global calamity. The pack leaves the Sept of Night Sky to visit home and decide what to do next.
At The Gates of the Apocalypse they find a weary but surviving Sept. Seeks the Lion’s Heart directs what garou remain to shore up defenses as they wait for a final battle with the Wyrm’s forces. Before the pack can settle in a warbling Howl of Introduction echoes from a short distance outside the border of the bawn, Whelp Strangler Alpha of the Hive of No Horizon seeks an audience under the banners of peace.
Tempers run high as they see the willowy monster flanked by a cadre of Black Spiral Dancers fused with potent banes, handiwork of the Theurge it seems. It is obvious Blood on Snow would rather kill the Dancers instead of treating with them but Seeks the Lion’s Heart refuses to let his honor be baited by the villain. Whelp Strangler explains that the bulk of his tribe has kidnapped Old Fang and his pack and will use the boy’s pure blood to release the Beast of War onto the Tellurian and sweep victory into the jaws of the apocalypse. Whelp Strangler disagrees with this only because he believes the boy to have a greater destiny in the eyes of the True Father. He offers a secret route into Malfeas through the Wyrm Reaches at the edge of the Aetherial Realm. Gifts confirm that his words are true but no less poisonous.
They believe the ritual to be a imminent threat but do not believe the path offered to be safe. Blood on Snow consults Running Gun Blues and they devise a plan. Instead of traveling through the stars they will head through scar, hijack the Black Train and enters Malfeas this way. They also intend to tweak the Karnakian Cannon into a bomb that will hopefully kill a large chunk of the Black Spiral Dancer.
The path to scar is found through a gateway in the rotting heart of Salinas’ industrial district uncomfortably close to where the Hive of Bleeding Smoke once stood. Guarded by a powerful jaggling that wounds Shadows on Ice grievously before the way is opened. The pack instinctively huddles closer at the sight of Scar thrumming with activity the likes of which had not been seen before.
Choking industrial stench assaults the Garou immediately. As they navigate the urbanized monstrosity their hearts are worn down by the churning despair all around them. Faceless guards roam the streets looking for intruders or slackers to push back to the assembly lines. Wyrm corrupted pattern spiders infest every corner of the realm reinforcing the secondary Gauntlet. Bloated managers spilling out of ill fitting suits wring their hands in wait for the next bribe. Though the world is dying and civilization as it was known crumbles Scar doesn’t hesitate to make a profit giving credence that the Pentex Father survives the fallout still.
A possible distraction arises when Katsuguri forces from the Cyber Realm appear near one of the buildings by the pack. Scar forces clash against the interlopers from the Weaver realm. But this is far from necessary after the group employs their baneskin fetishes and trickery to dodge more confrontation then they can handle.
The tracks to the Black Train are precariously nestled between two deeply gouged mining quarries combed with hundreds of work spirits wearily picking away until they themselves are mined for the last vestiges of essence. While greedy Banes wander the train itself to guard its nefarious wares the true threat is the ancient Conductor, a spirit as old as Scar itself.
The pack clings to the train as it hurtle out of Scar employing Gifts the turn away the attention of the sinister porters. The realm and the train try to buck the Scions of Gaia even if it appears only as happenstance and the impossible design of the world’s beyond their own. As they enter the tunnel connecting Scar and Malfeas the dread of the realm reachs out and take its due from Shadows on Ice. The Wendigo suffers her last wound from the horrid place which appeared to hold specific disdain for her.
Darkness leads to darkness as the pitch black tunnels exits into the duchy of smog which threatens to suffocate the pack. In unfamiliar territory they experiment vainly to try and stay alive. First Shadows on Ice calls upon the cutting wind only to find smoke swallowed by smog. Heals the Heart gasps first and Blood on Snow leaps to share his breath. Sins Bitter Tongue calls upon the elements but air is unwelcome in the home of its antithesis giving the pack only the briefest amount of respite.
The fresh air is gone as soon as it is summoned attracting one of the foul jagglings who make their home there. The huge half decayed bird, eaten away by the acrid smoke swoops at the rooftop trying to knock them off. Protected by the mystical shroud raised by Running Gun Blues they manage to mostly hold but Shadows on Ice is hit on of the passes and topples off. Blood on Snow scrambles to grab her as Sins Bitter Tongue braces himself to hold the rest of the pack together.
At the limits of their endurance they exit the duchy of smog along the border duchies into the realm of sludge. The putrid landscape displays an endless stretch of horror provoking dire consideration on the price of failure. The train screeches to a halt at its first stop, an outpost in the duchy of Balefire.
Heals the Heart is spotted on the roof and attacked. Shadows on Ice scoops him up and leaps to the caboose where they rush to hide underneath. Sins Bitter Tongue let’s loose his shadow from his fetish to fool the Balefire soldiers. His ruse works as the dumb spirits report their victory over the stowaway. The event lures out the Conductor who slays one of his porters on the spot and tells the survivor to keep on the lookout for more trespassers.
The pack manages to remain hidden under scrutiny so the Black Train continues. They move out of the Balfefire dutchy into a ruined stretch of tenement housing. The area makes the Porter sentries nervous who prepare for the worst. Which comes in short order. A small army of addict emanations charge the train, the sheer number is not enough to slow the impact of the drug starved spirits. They stutter the approach and eventually the sheer number of bodies crushed on the rails jack knife the train. Sins Bitter Tongue plucks up a porter and slings him into the crowd with severe enough force the grind away a path for the pack to escape the imminent crash. As the crash erupts behind them they cling to the shadows and survey their minimal options. Running Gun Blues opens fire on the Conductor so the pack can close in.
They utilize their Quadangulate tactic to wear down the Conductor so Running Gun Blues can shield them with his Spirit Ward gift and try to steal the train. Sins Bitter Tongue is crushed to death under the bone shattering force of the Conductor’s hammer, slain outright. Eventually they bring down the Conductor while fighting off the addict horde and steal away the train. Chugging away they speed toward their goal, first though they must pass through Duchy Hell.
They bypass the Duchy Hell and manage to steal into the Central Duchy. The heart of Malfeas, a mad place where insane architecture crashes into each other at impossible angles. Through the careful use of gifts and stealthy investigation they creep into a condensed prison building rammed between the Castle Cthonus and the Temple Obscura. Here where the cages of Malfeas collected in bulk they found George, once a frightened lost cub now a warrior of Gaia standing over the body of a dead dancer.
The cages rattled and the corpses laid on spikes came alive as hideous Scrags. From one of the prison doors a bloated fomor creeps to join the fray. But the pack and a klaive wielding Fianna are enough to crush the opposition. Before they can catch their breath a broken winged bird crawls out of the dead fomori’s throat to issue a warning of impending Black Spiral Dancer’s. “They are coming, they know.”. And in the distance the heart wrenching warbling of Dancer howls shake the cages.
The pack scatters up the walls of the dank prison, Shadows on Ice bearing the weight of their weary Galliard. They find a narrow tunnel to flee from, almost too tight for the two giant lupus formed Garou in the pack. Sins-Bitter-Tongue takes point and scouts ahead. Before him madness, death and a gaping lake of balefire alas their only option as the Dancers close in. The naked sight of the Malfeas starts to effect the heroes and insanity chips at them. They know if they do not find a means of escape soon they may not ever.
The Wyrm thrives and it’s Dancers sing foul praise from their unholy temple. More of the enemy in one place no Garou has seen before. Running Gun Blues theorizes that this might be the great ritual the bastard, Whelp Strangler warned of. They wrestle with their options, with their lives and the presence of Gaia’s avatar. They decide they must leave and to do so they must try to make their way through an anchorhead guarded by horrifying Black Spiral Dancers dangerously near the Temple.
Again it is Sins-Bitter-Tongue that takes point, calling on secret gifts of trickery taught to the bravest or most foolish Shadow Lord’s in the tribe. He summons the appearance of kinship with the Dancers and befuddles them with lies. But it those sweet lies that lure a greater danger, one of the Maejin Princes…Maine DuBois Incarna of Lies taunts the Garou, tries to temp them with false hopes and already broken promises. And worse damning truths. The stalwart heart of Blood-on-Snow shields his pack while Running-Gun-Blues tries to force open the anchorhead gate.
Just as the ritual begins the Prince summons aid from the temple. And a horde of Dancers rush forward to cut down the Garou. They battle for nearly an hour, the wounds they endure weigh on Gaia herself as surely as the heroes who endure them. But the gateway opens and they manage to crawl through mostly intact into the blood soaked mud of the Battlegrounds. As more of the horde crawl over each other to follow Running-Gun-Blues hurls his modified Karnakian cannon at them consuming them and the anchorhead in a conflagration of sunfire.
The realm of violence and rage is teaming with activity in the last days. Fighters clash on every field and the lines that divide those battles have melted away. In the gunsmoke blackened horizon two giants clash, these collossi resemble spirits of the modern world. These near incarna reflections are the Corporate fathers of both Pentex and Katsuguri, the generals of the Apocalypse war. And with each blow they land the battleground trembles.
It is a pained gasp that draws attention away from the portents of the emanations. George, known as Old Fang to the nation lays on his stomach, a poisoned talon broken off in his back. Blood wells up and surges out of his nose and mouth. Whatever foul wound the enemy tribe has inflicted no power held here can restore it. In his last breathes he reaches out for Sins-Bitter-Tongue and takes his hand. He looks into the Metis’ eyes and thanks him for being a father to him in the Nation from his first day until his last. A soft smile curling to the corner of his mouth as the last light leaves the Ahroun’s eyes.
His pack finds him shortly after, the pain of losing their Alpha inspires a howl of pain that gives momentary pause to the chaos crashing around them for even just a second. But they are a warrior race and alpha’s lost. They say their words and lead the Haribringers home.
They return to their home sept, a strange air of celebration greets them as they pass the border of the Bawn. The tense air that been hanging over somehow lightened. Even if just a little..it is still their. Not long after their return and their report they learn why. Seeks the Lion’s Heart rallies an attack against the Hive of No Horizon once intelligence confirms a gap in their defenses. Victory was achieved none of the Sept proper died but many garou who rallied there once Luna shattered did.
Whatever the garou might do now, rest, bury their dead, celebrate the Sept’s small victories it is not long before they are summoned to the next great battle…no peace can last if the world will survive. Even if the Wyrm itself has been wounded so…