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 A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)

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PostSubject: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:21 am

The remnants of a winter wind glided over the plains like a wave. The tall grass rippled under the careful caress in the glow of the half-moon. It was a beautiful sight, like watching the earth ebb and flow as a vast floral sea.

But the cold had its bite. High atop a steep hill, buried in the thick clumps of swaying grass, a single man lay covered in camouflage of his own creation. A rifle lay next to him on a tarp. He held a thick pair of binoculars propped on a makeshift stand of sticks.

The wind slid up and under his clothes to freeze his skin, but he ignored it. It wasn’t fully winter, merely the tail end of February, and he had experienced far worse conditions before. He could wait. Had to wait.

A beast stalked the plains.

For months the creature had stalked and killed his family’s cattle. For months, it strode across the plains in the dead of night, an unseen force of destruction. The man would not allow this to continue. Could not afford it.

He had begun to understand that the creature came only on certain nights, at certain times. During the half-moon, oddly enough. Perhaps it was the mix of light and dark, shadow and exposure? The man did not care. He had finally understood at least one thing about the wild creature and he would use it to take it down.

He had waited hours and hours each night of the half-moon and had begun to think the creature had moved on. No cattle were attacked. No sign of the beast, even. Nothing…except a feeling. The man could not describe it, but he could sense something. Almost like a smell. Or a taste on the wind.

The beast would come.

“The beast will come.”

The man jerked his head at the whisper. No one was around. Nothing was around. He had not spoken. He would not break his own rules of silence in that way.

But he had heard a distinct voice. Clear. Floating on the wind.

When he looked back across the plains, more than a hundred yards away and upwind of the man’s position, there was the beast. At first the man did not understand what he was seeing. Then, when realization struck, it was all he could do not to gasp in shock.

The creature, the wolf, was enormous. It strode out across the plains and stalked the prey. Cattle, prey of significant size. And it was larger.

The man screwed his face up in confusion. There was no way a creature that big could have come across the open plains and not given sign before now. There was nowhere to hide. Nothing to conceal it.

The man felt his spine crawl when the creature titled its head back into the night air and let loose a gut-wrenching howl. Otherwise docile cattle began to flee in all directions with wild calls. The wind rippled against the man’s flesh and he dropped the binoculars.

Even from this distance, even with the darkness and the shadows of concealment, the man saw the great beast leap and take down its prey with a vicious ripping of meat and spray of blood.

The man flashed back to violent days far away and the wind whispered. “The beast has come.”

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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:24 am

What the actual fuck is that?

Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Jack had seen some shit during his twelve years in the U.S. Army but whatever it was that he had seen out there on the plains of the Navajo Falls Ranch bewildered even him. Child prostitutes, "massage parlors," men having anal sex in Port-A-Johns, IEDs detonating and destroying heavily armored vehicles, seeing friends lose limbs and dying in firefights, or seeing the visceral spray of a man's skull imploding after a .50 caliber round impacted their forehead - none of that desensitizing trauma had prepared him for the sight of something that was larger than a cow stalking his herd of cattle. However, despite how much he refused to disbelieve it was right in front of his eyes. He even tried to blink to will the sight away thinking a sip of whiskey had been playing tricks on his eyes.

That howl sent a shiver up his spine and curdled the blood in his veins. That voice that played against his ears only helped stoke his unease. He set the large binoculars aside and shuddered as he tried to compose himself as an unusual anxiety took over him. Jack wasn't unused to sitting in a deer blind waiting for a deer or sitting in a window watching an exchange between insurgents through the scope of a rifle. Though watching that creature - which had seemingly come out of nowhere - filled him with something he wasn't used to. The sensation made the pit of his stomach roil despite having not eaten anything in some time. So, he pulled out a pinch of Red Man chew from the pouch beside him and dipped it into his cheek in an attempt to settle his nerves.

"Its just the nicotine," he told himself.

He had camouflage paint smeared across his face and an old set of Army fatigues on to help disrupt his outline up on the hill. The hunter slowly pulled his rifle up into the pocket of his shoulders and he narrowed his eyes as he settled into a low shooting position. His right hand curled just beneath the trigger well of the old rifle he had as he folded his arm in tight, keeping the weapon tight to his shoulder. His left hand extended out and secured the weapon by gently wrapped his fingers around the wooden frame just beneath the barrel. His eyes carefully watched the creature as he took one of his cows to the ground in a monstrous display of primal ferocity.

"You son a bitch..."

He licked his lips and let out a slow exhaled as he shifted ever so carefully and began to follow the creature as he began to line up a shot. He would allow the front and back sight posts to com together. Jack was patient and he needed to not jump the gun. One hundred yards? That wasn't far out either and even if he missed, he was sure he could squeeze off several shots after the fact. Though he would make that first one count. The chew in his cheek helped calm his nerves though he still felt something off about the entire ordeal. What WAS it?

Wolves were never that large. What was it, the result of radiation poisoning? It seemed like something straight out of a comic book, what with nuclear exposure being a thing in the news now and again. Yeah, that's what it was. That was what he told himself anyways to feel better about the entire situation. Jack slowly inhaled as he steadied a racing heart and fell into a smooth rhythm as he watched the wolf feed on the flesh of the cow beneath it. It was like shooting a coyote he was sure. A shot right behind the shoulder would likely take it down. He was sure the old family rifle - a Henry sixteen shot .44 caliber rimfire, lever-action, breech loading rifle - would do the trick.

If he was lucky the size of the wolf might earn him a page in National Geographic or something.

You came to the wrong neighborhood, mother fucker.

He slowly squeezed the trigger.

Dexterity 4, Firearms 4, Rifles Specialty, Sniper 5 Merit (+3 Damage), Aiming 5 Rounds, Ignore -3 Penalty


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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:37 pm

Mechanical Note:

Kyle's Roll
+3 for Sniper Merit
Total Damage: 9

Back In-Character...


A tremendous shot. A one-of-a-kind shot. Right in that sweet spot between chest and neck.

The Beast fell.

Bloody sprayed.

A flank of meat from the Beast’s prey flew up in a wild arc and splattered down.

And then it rose. It wasn’t dead.

The monstrous wolf shook its head, left.

Then right.

Then right at him. It growled.

How could I hear that? From so far away hearing the Beast’s guttural growl was impossible.

But he heard it.

The Beast attacks.

That narrating voice whispered again and fear froze Jack’s guts in a block of ice.

The Beast was moving.

Move. Move you fucker. Shoot it again. MOVE!

The Beast raced across the great plains impossibly fast. Wet earth and blood flew behind it.

Jack could smell it. How the hell? Unwashed fur, old blood, rank urine, new blood, and hate. Pure hate.

He could smell the Beast’s emotion.

Fear gripped him tight.

MOVE!




OOC:

Normally, a human at this stage would suffer the effects of Lunacy. They would not get a roll, they would just suffer the effects based on their Willpower level.

You are not a human.

Here’s how it would work normally:
* Base Willpower
* Add +2 because the Uratha is in Urshul (Near-Wolf) form.
* Look at the list on p176 of the Core Werewolf Book and react accordingly with your total.

However, I am using the GM fiat rule to boost your WIllpower because you have the blood of the Wolf and are soon to undergo the First Change.

Roll:
Resolve + Composure.
Add total successes to your Willpower and THEN look at the chart on p176.

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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:40 pm

Instinct kicked in as a natural fight or flight scenario played out in the back of his head. Well, at least he thought that was what the voice was: natural instincts. Everything was telling him to run and he couldn't help but feel like the tables had turned where he became the prey where he previously thought himself the predator. It was an intense feeling that nearly consumed him such that his battle hardened resolve was not enough. It was simply a matter of a will to survive that he didn't merely drop the rifle before he bolted. "Shit, shit, shit," he cursed as he nearly flung himself to his feet. He climbed up from being prone to a kneeling position where he leveled the rifle at his shoulder and cocked the lever for a reload. His eyes narrowed down the sights to the charging beast before he squeezed the trigger.

Crack!

Pump the lever.

Crack!

Pump the lever.

Crack!

He began to pump the lever again as he stood, turned, and jumped down the hill. The grass was slick beneath his foots and he felt himself slide for a few steps before his feet carried him forward without tumbling down and snapping his neck. He grasped the rifle tightly in his hand as he rushed down the hill in order to put distance between himself and the thing charging him. As he ran his mind was focused on how to better survive the night. He had just fired four rounds, the last three more out of fear than any sense of preservation. His nerves were wracked, he had some sort of radioactive super wolf at his back, and the thing had stood up after taking a shot that would kill a human.

He stumbled at the foot of the hill, his body sent forward and arms flailing, but by a stroke of luck he kept his feet. It was just like a combat drill: shoot, three to five second rush, shoot again. Once he had cleared enough distance he spun around and leveled the rifle back up into his shoulder and raised the rifle up to aim down the sights...

His heart pounded in his ears, anxiety had him shook up, but his will to live coursed through him.

"Get off my lawn, asshole!"

OOC: Spent a Willpower to act.

Dexterity 4, Firearms 4, Rifles Specialty, DR 3, Burst (+1), Ignore -3 Penalty for 3 Damage

Resolve + Composure (2 Successes) for Willpower 8
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Sat Feb 27, 2016 11:55 pm

Jack raced down the hill, rifle tight, close to the chest.

The Beast desires your flesh. It shall consume you.

Jack shook his head to clear away the strange background noise. It’s fear talking. That’s it. Has to be.

The Beast is Fear.

What the hell did that mean?

Jack’s lungs labored with a combination of his extreme speed and controlling the fear. His throat burned and despite the cool air he felt a sheen of sweat on his skin.

He slid to a sudden stop at the base of the hill, whirled about, and levelled the rifle. He should have been able to see the huge monstrosity as it raced towards him. From the rapid, unconscious calculations in his mind he knew the creature’s speed should have more than halfway closed the distance.

But there was nothing.

The Beast stalks.

“Shut up.” Jack hissed.

He scanned the plains in quiet desperation. It couldn’t be hiding in the grass. It was too damned big.

Jack glanced back over his shoulder in the direction of the ATV he had ridden out here. More than 100’ away still. He looked back in the direction the Beast had come.

“Hell.”

He turned with the intent to run and stopped cold. There, in the tall grass to his left, he heard a deep bass growling sound. He whirled without thought and aimed at…

…nothing.

ROAR!

The Beast flew through the air from behind Jack Sullivan and he knew it was over. Somehow the monster had gotten behind him, unseen. Invisible.

He felt his body move in slow-motion. He was halfway turned, rifle nearly aimed at the lumbering hulk flying at him, when it crashed into his body. Teeth clamped around the stock and barrel and he heard a crunch.

Impossible, he thought. His hunter’s eyes took in the sight even as it happened. The huge wolf had bitten through metal and wood in a single bite. The weapon was a ruined mass in his hands.

He crashed to the earth. The Beast ripped away the rifle and he let it go. Useless now, no reason to hold on. He was going for the revolver at his hip when he heard a howl.

Out of the darkness a second wolf had appeared. This one was of normal size, dirty white with all grey paws. Jack’s eyes met the wolf’s and he could have sworn what looked back was human intelligence.

The smaller wolf collided with the Beast and drove it back. Jack looked up and noted the bullet holes, blood, and bite marks on the terrible creature’s body. As he watched he saw two of the bullet holes seal over.

Run or fight?

Jack looked to the ATV, to the two wolves, squaring off.  He could make it.

And then the world blurred. Or, the wolves blurred. Am I having a stroke?

First one, then the other of the two wolves began to shift and change. The gray one lifted up on its hind legs. The great lumbering Beast dropped to all fours. Arms twisted out of their forelegs. Their snouts elongated. Their bodies altered into a strange amalgamation of wolf and man.

In mere seconds the two gauru had transformed. The first was tremendous and black, over 9’ tall with rippled muscle and covered in old scars. A great knife - klaive, the voice whispered – appeared in its hands.  

The second was smaller, fur dirty white with grey streaks lined across its form. It threw back its head and howled and in that howl Jack heard, no he felt, words.

RUN! It cried.

The two wolves slammed together in a violent display.

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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:15 am

"Jesus titty fucking Christ!"

Needless to say, the sight of the two wolves grow into the monsters they became went against logic and reason. By all accounts he was sure he was on some sort of acid trip - or at least he was sure that was what was playing out in front of him. It was like the episode of The Simpsons where Homer goes on a Native American spiritual quest and his animal guide started changing shapes. It was surreal and made him question his reality. Unfortunately, Jack was as sober as they came and so he did the first thing that came to mind: he shot the nine foot tall thing that had just eaten his rifle.

"Fuck you, asshole! That was priceless!"

He drew the Colt and fired once at the monster tangled up with the smaller wolf. It was instinctive as he was thoroughly trained to engage his enemy. However, he didn't linger long. As soon as the single action army cracked with gunfire, he turned on his heel and bolted. The ATV was not all that far away and he hustled like his life depended on it. He was pretty sure that little dog was about to get savaged and he didn't want to be dog food. Jack was sure he preferred not being a human bag of Kibbles n' Bits. So, he pounded the grass between him and the ATV with his chest pounding and a sense of tunnel vision.

It didn't take him long to get there as once he reached the ATV, he threw himself into the seat and cranked the ignition. The headlights turned on and while still holding the Colt in one hand, he twisted right handle and the ATV lurched forward with a wheelie as the machine roared to life. He leaned forward, brought the ATV safely against the ground, and then hit the gas hard as he tore off into the night turning up grass and dirt.

He dared to look back too.

OOC:

Dexterity 4, Firearms 4, Damage 3, -2 Melee Penalty


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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:11 pm

The Beast remembers.

The voice would not go away. Each step made Jack feel like his feet weighed a ton. Lead feet dragged him down as fire poured into his lungs. Flashes of shadow and light played across his vision as he ran…

Yes, run! You must run. The wolves are death incarnate. They will eat your soul.

Jack’s body slammed into the ATV, heart thudding like a battering ram demanding to be set free. His hand twisted the handle and the whole thing flew back.

Remember that there are more. Always more. You must run!

The ATV crashed into the ground, tires spinning. Dirt flew out behind Jack in a spray. He felt the heavy comfort of the revolver in his hand as he sped forward. Only when he knew he was moving, knew he had done everything he possibly could to get away, did he look back.

Monster. Death machine. Unkind destroyer of all balance!

That voice would not leave him. As Jack glanced over his shoulder the visions of light and dark flared in his mind’s eye. He saw himself running on all fours. Like a wolf, he thought insanely. Then he vanished into thin air and was in another world. The moon had vanished behind a penumbra of shimmering darkness.

Light flashed in Jack’s eyes and he saw a brief glimpse of the terrors behind him.

The grey one stood over the bloody body of the huge black wolf-monster. It snarled, teeth bared in a gesture Jack immediately understood.

Flee, now. It said. Flee and do not come back.

How do I know that? Jack thought. Run, run, runrunrunRUN the voice screamed and Jack blinked again.

The shadow enveloped him in a cold blanket, tight, yet not smothering.

Light flashed and he saw the black beast rise up on all fours, a wolf again, huge and terrible. It limped away at a fast pace. Jack could see the injuries from his bullets and the gray wolf’s bite and claws. Just then, the grey wolf turned and transformed into…a man?

A dirty, unkempt man who looked to have lived on the streets more than in a home.

The man eyed Jack from afar, knelt down into the grass and sniffed.

He will hunt you. Flee!

Jack turned abck to look ahead, suddenly certain he was about to crash into a tree. He swerved away from a giant oak and blinked. At the same time, from behind, he heard the familiar howl. How can I recognize the voice of a wolf? he thought.

Jack shut tight his eyes and the world disappeared. The howl faded away. His body seemed to float. And then the light crashed in once more.

The ATV flipped and Jack went flying. He landed, hard, on gravel. He tumbled ass over head over ass again and came to a stop against the side of a building.

He lay there for a long time, uncertain of life. After a time, he opened his eyes and found himself in an alley. The alley of a bar. From inside he heard a jukebox playing old rock and roll hits. Pool balls cracking together. A woman giggled with drunken laughter. The smell of booze and vomit and old wood crashed in around Jack.

“You fucked up your ride.”

Jack’s head whirled to the left and he regretted the action instantly. An old homeless man lay slumped against the wall, half a bottle of Wild Turkey clutched to his chest like a talisman. Jack looked back up the alley and saw the man’s words to be true. His ATV was crashed against the side of a dumpster, broken in every which way.

Jack blinked, hard, lay his head back against the wall, and felt darkness wash over him again.


OOC Note: You will awaken in the alley next to “The Dutchman” in what appears to be the middle of the night. What you do is up to you.
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:50 am

"Fuck. Me."

The painhe felt then reminded him of Ranger School after sixty days of blood, sweat, and exhaustion. An unnatural haze washed over him and he just slumped against the alley wall as he tried to regain his bearings. Where was he? Jack was sure he blinked the world disappeared. One moment he was riding the ATV through the grounds of his family ranch, the next moment he crashed into a dumpster in town somewhere. He felt road rash on his face, hands, and arms where he slid across the pavement and gravel. He ached worse than his hangover in Thailand while on leave. He felt like he got into a fight with a brick wall and lost. Well, he sure as hell lost to the dumpster.

His old Colt was gone, lost somewhere in the crash and his ATV was a mangled abomination of plastic and steel. It was a miracle he was still breathing. After a time he stumbled to his feet and touched his feet, smearing blood across his hand. The blood made the red of his hair and beard look brighter, his expression manic like some hillbilly axe murderer. He willed himself to walk as he picked gravel out of his face and hands, cursing silently as he stumbled every which way. Self preservation was the first thing on his mind. He needed alcohol for his wounds and conveniently a bar was close. So, Jack walked into the Dutchman.

The smell of the puke and piss was downplayed to the throbbing pain of tumbling ass over head. He was sure he looked like ass stumbling into the bar, his flannel and denim ripped up and half his face marred like Freddy Krueger. While he was fucked up, he knew he had seen worse. After all he could still walk.

A cute girl behind the bar looked mortified at the sight of him. "I need a drink," he spoke in a rough voice, hoarse from lungs that felt scorched. "Irish car bomb followed up with a Jack n' coke. Oh, and some ice."

He eased himself into a stool at the bar as he started to reel from what just happened. What had been chasing him? What was talking to him? Why wasn't he dead? Each question reminded him of the weird events that had just unfolded. Jack was in a state of disbelief but despite how everything he witnessed went against logic and reason, it felt real. It was real in a terrifying way which questioned his own sense of sanity. He may have been physically broken but he knew he was not mentally broken. He blanked out only to come back around as a tall glass, a tumbler, and a shot glass was pushed his way.

"I'll be back with the ice, sugar," she said though Jack hardly heard it through the sound of pool balls clacking and a rendition of Crazy Train blaring from the jukebox. Oddly enough it was a fitting song for how he felt.

All aboard! Ahahahaha!
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:29 pm

“Next time this happens, either drop my name or just give me a call.  Unpaid overtime is bullshit and he can’t force you to do it.  He tries to weasel around the issue and threaten you, you get ahold of me, alright? I got your back.”

Bastian gave the patron on the other side of the bar a smile and a fist-bump.  He didn’t know the man all that well, but knew he was a recent hire over at Arsenal Steelworks, and Bastian had plenty of history with that place and its less-than-stellar management practices.

He made a turn to head toward the back office when he heard his name and felt a light touch on his elbow.  He knew who it was before he had turned.

“What’s up, Cass?” he asked as he turned, looking down at Cassandra, The Dutchman’s resident female blonde bartender who shows just the right amount of cleavage to get the good tips.  She was cute, but too much in a little sister way for Bastian.  That, and she was his employee. Not a road he was interested in going down.

The petite bartender motioned behind her with a shift of her head.  “Guy at the bar. Looks pretty beat up.  Ordered a few drinks and asked for some ice. For his head, I’m guessing.”  She chanced a look back at the man as she finished speaking, but he wasn’t looking at her.  He didn’t seem to be looking at anything in particular.  “Seems a little … I don’t know …”

Bastian nodded.  He reached down and collected the ice wrapped in a towel from Cass’s hands.  “Thanks, Cass.  I got it.”  The big man moved toward the bar’s haggard newcomer, his mind concocting a few different scripts for how he wanted to approach the potential situation that was the bar’s most recent bloody customer.

Near seven feet of man stopped to stand behind the bar opposite the man with torn clothes and bloody smears on his face.  Bastian had the build of a man whose daily activities seemingly included bench pressing VW Beetles.  Tonight, he sported his usual attire: dark blue jeans, green and grey flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, simple white t-shirt underneath.

Bastian placed the ice and towel on the bar and slid it over to the patron.  Doing so seemed to break the man from his reverie.  When they made eye contact, Bastian spoke.

“Please tell me the other guy is missing an ear or won’t be able to fuck anymore,” he said with a wide grin.  He let the icebreaker linger for a moment before continuing. “So long as your troubles aren’t about to follow you in through those doors,” he gestured with his head, “you are more than welcome here.”
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:54 pm

"Something like that," Jack found himself rumbling in reply to the seven foot something behemoth behind the bar. The former Ranger looked up at the man, and kept on looking up until he met the man's eyes. He grasped the towel with the ice and pressed it gently against his temple as he picked up the shot glass of Irish cream and whiskey and dropped it into the tall glass of Guinness. He then picked up the glass and hammered the Irish car bomb before it had a chance to curdle. After a few moments of easing the drink down his throat he set it aside, empty. After what he had just went through a drink hit the spot. He hoped it would help numb the pain away sooner than later.

He wasn't going to get into the details of his problem. After all, what the fuck did the bartender know about giant wolves? He still wondered if what he had witnessed was real at all. Despite how it defied logic and reason, it felt real and that bothered him. All he knew was that his ATV had crashed into the dumpster behind the bar and he hoped Bastian didn't put two and two together. He had no idea how he could explain his way out of that one. After the drink he just had an officer would likely just say he had been drinking but at that point in time he had no fucks left to give.

He pushed the empty glass away and picked up his tumbler of Jack n' coke while he moved the towel, dabbing a sore patch of his forehead. Jack had definitely seen better days.

"I doubt anyone will follow me here," he lied, unsure if that thing was still alive or coming after him. "Just a minor scuffle, but I got the last laugh." I hope. He rolled his shoulders with a shrug before he took a sip of his drink. His mind was distracted but he tried to not look he needed to see a doctor. How was he going to explain all of this to his old man? The thought provoked more questions he didn't want to answer. His lips formed the firm line of a frown before he shook his head.

"Open up a tab for me, will ya? I think I might be here a while, buddy."
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:15 pm

"You aren't the first person to come into The Dutchman with a story like that, and I wager you won't be the last. We'll get tab going for you, but those first couple are on me."

Bastian left the man for a moment to tend to another customer down the line. Like Cassandra, he had an odd feeling about this customer, but he couldn't nail down what it was. Ultimately, as long the guy didn't bring any shenanigans into the bar with him, there's no trouble as far as Bastian could tell.

After he finished up with the other patron, Bastian turned and moved past Mr. Minor Scuffle. The man looked like he was deep in his own thoughts again, so Bastian decided against interrupting him. Instead, he exited the bar area, made a quick sweep of the place with his eyes for Cassandra, and when he found her, gave her a quick smile and nod, letting her know she shouldn't expect any trouble from their wounded patron.

Guy's had a shit night. Not hard to imagine he'd rather look at Cass than at me while he downs a couple drinks. With that, the big man made his way to the back office to do all those oh-so-important bullshit manager tasks.
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:30 pm

Do not trust the filthy giant.

You can still run.

The Beast will return. They will all become the Beast.

There is only one way out. One way through.


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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:49 am

Jack swayed on the bar stool for a reason that had nothing to do with the drink or the crash.

Eyes everywhere. Can you see them?

He could. Without thinking, he spread his arms out, fingers splayed, and held tight to the stable wood of the bar. He scanned The Dutchman, pupils wide, slack-jawed.

The walls had eyes. They writhed and moved, a staccato heartbeat in time to the music of the jukebox.

The jukebox had eyes. They scanned the room for the likeliest target and whispered a cooing tune. Jack saw the target stand, walk over to the music machine, and insert a few coins.

The liquor had eyes. He could hear the bottles sing to each other in a chorus that echoed out across the barroom. Everyone was entranced. Everyone listened. One particular man, the focus of those eyes, ordered another pitcher of beer.

The floor, the ceiling, the very air, the bar itself. All had eyes.

Jack jerked his hands away from the wood when he saw it stare back up at him. He flung himself back and careened off the stool and onto the floor.

The room spun. He heard a thousand little voices whisper their need, their hunger for…something. For what?

Essence. Feed them. Feed us.

Jack felt his hands on the side of his head. He tried desperately to block out the sounds, to plug his ears. He shut his eyes tight.

But he could still see them. Hear them.

He could smell them.

We. Are always. Here.

Jack screamed and screamed and screamed, but the sounds would not go away. The world, the real world behind the veil of secrecy that was this plain, ordinary thing, came crashing in on him with sudden force. He screamed and pleaded and begged for it all to go away.

He felt rough, heavy hands on him, lifting him. He opened his eyes to see the giant of a bartender lift him from the floor.

They were gone. The sounds. The strange eyes. The smell of that other world. All gone.

He couldn’t remember. Had he really screamed? He didn’t think so. A few of the patrons looked at him with sideways glances. Of course they did. He had fallen from the stool for no discernible reason.

The voices were gone, though. That’s all that mattered.

We are never far.
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Thu Mar 24, 2016 2:44 pm

Well, fuck me. Bastian heard the screaming and didn't have to think long to discern who it might be. He moved with a speed many would not expect of a man his size and made his way from the office back out into the bar.

The man was on the floor, shoving his palms against his ears, presumably to block out sounds that no one else could hear. It made Bastian chuckle on the inside. Kind of reminds me of the days before my First Change. It would be some time before Bastian would appreciate the irony of his inner monologue.

"C'mon there, fella. Let's get you some fresh air." The bartender hoisted the patron up and over his right shoulder with the same care one might give a bag of mulch. As he stalked toward the door that led into the alley, he called out to his employee.

"Hey Cass, can you see if you can get ahold of Hannah? I don't remember if today is her day off or not, but I'd rather not have this guy go the hospital if he doesn't need to." He turned his head back to the front and in a few more steps, pushed the door open.

"Hospitals are the worst," he muttered under his breath.

Bastian always enjoyed taking a break from the bar and heading outside, but it meant something more after the First Change. Even if the moon wasn't in his auspice, it was still a comfort. One that was hard to pin down, and Bastian suspected, would be unique to each individual. To Bastian, it made him think of lying on his grandmother's couch, curled up under an afghan she had made decades before.

The big man turned around and set the drunken man down against the outer wall of The Dutchman in the alley. As he did so, he heard a familiar voice from not too far off.

"You can't send me back to Khe Sanh!"

Bastian didn't look over. Instead, he kept his focus on the patron, ensuring he was safe against the wall and could at least sit under his own power. The screaming fit seemed to have come and gone. He remained in front of the man, resting on his haunches.

"Hey, Homeless Dave. Having a good night?"

The door opened and the relative silence of the alley was interrupted by the crowded noises of the bar once again. Cass popped here head out and handed a small glass bottle to her boss.

"Hannah said she can be here in fifteen or twenty. Said to make sure he doesn't fall asleep in the meantime." Bastian gave her a nod and a smile. She disappeared back into the bar and let the door close behind her.

In a whispered voice came the reply, "Stay out of my foxhole." Bastian thought that meant 'thank you'.

"Hey guy, you gonna be alright?" he asked the drunken and bloody bar patron. As he waited for a reply, he turned slightly to his right and threw the small bottle of scotch toward the homeless man. He didn't so much catch it as he did get it to not hit the ground. Well, it didn't break this time.

As his head was turning back to the customer, he noticed a wrecked four-wheeler that had apparently tried and failed to impregnate a dumpster.

"The fuck?" he whispered to himself.
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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:14 pm

“Hair o’ the dog!”

Bastian rose fully intent to investigate the mangled dumpster. He ignored the mumbling and shouting from Homeless Dave behind him. He gave a brief glance down to Jack, eyed the ATV again, and nodded.

“An odd choice for the city, but I’ve seen stranger.”

The moon beamed down its wonder and Bastian closed his eyes. Something about the evening felt off. Out of place. Like the night was a jigsaw puzzle and he kept trying to force the wrong piece in the wrong spot.

The calm air was interrupted yet again by the explosion of sound from inside the bar. Cass leaned out “Hey, you better get in here. Mickey put money in the jukebox and it started playing backwards. I think it’s All Along the Watchtower, but can’t be sure. Mickey is threatening to smash it open and that big bastard won’t listen to reason.”

Bastian sighed and glanced up at Mother Luna. There was never an end to her “blessing.” He gave the ATV a last look then crouched down beside the man. “Don’t pass out on me. Hey,” Bastian gestured to Homeless Dave, “tell this guy about the War. Keep him listening.”

Homeless Dave held up his free bottle. “My foxhole ain’t for you, son. Ain’t for no man.”

**

The wolf is gone, the wolf is gone, the wolf is gone, the wolf is gone, you must run, run, run, run, run…

Jack lurched forward on his hands and knees and vomited profusely. An ocean of bile spewed past his teeth on the concrete. Back splash hit him in the face and chest and knees. The whole world erupted from his stomach as hot, sticky rejection.

When he opened his eyes all he saw was wet pavement. Not a speck of vomit.

“Hair o’ the dog!”

Jack jerked away from the sound, backed away on hands and knees. The ratty looking homeless man held up his bottle and offered a gap-toothed smile.

Run, run, run, the wolf is gone, the wolf must hunt, the wolf will hunt you, run, run, run…

The sound was a cockroach digging into his ear. “Shut up.” Jack whispered.

“They would say you get bit by a rabid dog, you seek it out, you take a hair from its back and you eat it. Or drink it. I don’t remember which. But they say you did that and you’d get better. Hair o’ the dog done bit you! That’s what it takes.” Homeless Dave muttered something about a foxhole and then slumped against the wall the liquor bottle held like a baby.

Jack lay sideways on the ground and pressed his face on the cool pavement. He felt on fire. Brutalized. Worn and hung up and worn again. Every second he managed to forget the strange voices that whispered in his skull, he felt like something was there, just at the edge of sound, waiting to speak again.

Jack opened his eyes and the world stood still. He felt eyes upon him. There, at the end of the alley, beside the ruined dumpster and ATV, was a wolf.

Run, run, run RUN RUNRUNRUNRUNRUUUUUUUUUUN!

Every instinct told him to flee. Get up and run. Go. Never look back. But he knew the wolf would catch him. The wolf would take him down. It would tear open his throat from the back as he ran away and rip out his spine.

He ran anyway.

“Get out of my foxhole!”

Jack tripped over Homeless Dave, stumbled, and hit the ground. Both palms scraped across broken glass and risked a glance behind him.

The wolf was gone.

It was the light, small one. Not the huge bear of a beast he had shot, but the other. It had come to his rescue.

No! It will eat you!

Jack heard the sound of a soft pad hit the pavement. He turned, still on hands and knees, to see the smaller wolf snarling in his face, inches away.

“Goddamn no right to try and touch a man that way.” Homeless Dave drank deep.

Jack stared at those bared teeth and knew this was it. This was the end. Every instinct told him to scream, to run, to do something. He could only stare.

A strange thought hit him and for a moment, he felt at peace. He saw moonlight reflected in the wolf’s teeth.

Jack decided in that instant to fight.

Everything happened in the blink of an eye.

His hand rose.

He reached out to grab the wolf around the neck.

Its mouth opened, impossibly wide.

Teeth sank deep into tendon. Bone cracked. Someone screamed.

Someone spoke of foxholes.

The world went dark and then he heard feet slapping pavement, voices screaming in his mind to go, go, go, and never look back.

Hours later, perhaps days, Jack awoke in his own bed. Everything ached and his hand felt like it was on fire.

But when he looked down expecting to see a mangled mess, there were no marks. No bite. Just phantom pain.

It must have been a dream. It couldn’t have been a dream.

The phrase Hair o’ the dog rolled across Jack’s mind and he fell back to sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: A Prelude to the Howl: John "Jack" Sullivan (Kyle Smith)    Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:15 pm

Storyteller Note:

Unless there is more you wish to accomplish here, I think this prelude scene is done.

Definitely warrants the Bonus XP as noted:

Prelude XP

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