As I drifted to sleep, Eli and the others continued to have fun in San Francisco. Eli took the time to tell Lindsey she had more to contribute than just getting pregnant. John, however, had to smooth things over with Regina as she had realized he left earlier. After Eli had his conversation with Lindsey, he requested I return, so I had Quetzal open a Moon Bridge and I returned to the hotel.
We all laid down that night and got some sleep. The next morning, we gathered all of our belongings together and Gina started to drive us home. As we were driving, my phone rang. It was Ariel and she asked to speak with Eli.
I handed the phone to Eli and Ariel told him she had a vision last night. She told him a man with a funny hat was piecing together information about Garou. He is not to be harmed, but if he learns the truth, it could lead to him being killed. If something bad happens to him, other will learn of it, and it could lead to the end of all Garou. She wasn’t sure if it was just the Garou in the area or all Garou in the world, but her vision showed dead Garou everywhere. These “others” don’t shift, but they have powers. They are watching him and he does not realize what he is stumbling into.
The phone call ended to Eli with Ariel reiterating the man had to be protected. Eli relayed the information through our link in Quetzal. Gina realized we had gone quiet and it had to be Garou related. She dropped Regina off and we told her we needed to get to Lisa’s house as the man with the funny hat had to be Carl Kolchak.
Arriving at Lisa’s, I asked Gina to send Lisa a text that we were stopping by so to not be frightened. We went into the backyard and started looking for the camera. It appeared the camera had already been taken as Lisa watched us look around the yard. I asked Lisa if anyone had taken the camera in the backyard without realizing she didn’t know. Obviously, this made her more frightened and I felt back for her since she was completely innocent in all of this. She told us she had not seen anyone so we told her the man from the night before wanted a picture of her father and we wanted to get him away from the house so we agreed to it.
After this reveal, Eli asked if he could use the bathroom, which made Lisa very scared. He pointed him in the right direction and Eli entered the house. She asked me if Eli was going to steal anything, but I assured her he wouldn’t take anything.
Eli quickly made his way to her father Tom’s room, but found he only slept there. As he returned to the backyard, he noticed his office and decided to investigate. Looking inside, he found various pay stubs. Some were from Rosemont and more recent ones were from Ferry Halim. They totaled about $4,000 to $5,000 a week with 16 hour days, which is about average for his neighborhood. A little more looking and Eli realized Tom had not been home in three days. Eli left the house and we told Lisa the man who was here last night wouldn’t be coming back.
We returned to the Sept that morning, filling the rest of the Sept in on Ariel’s vision and what it could mean. I looked up Ferry Halim on the internet to find they made a paid website with Flash games. It struck me as very odd Tom would need to be gone for three days straight, work 16-hour days for a simple Flash game and be paid that much so I mentioned this to the pack.
We pondered what it could mean for a while before John suggested we head to Carl’s hotel and ask him about it. In an odd coincidence, we found ourselves back at the Natural Bridges State Park area where the Motel 6 Carl was staying. As we walked up to his room, the door was halfway open and smoke was coming out of the room.
Inside, we could see Carl burning various photos he didn’t think were any good as his cameras sat on the bed. He then took a flash drive and began organizing the pictures he had taken. Eli knocked on the door and told him we are here to return the camera. He told us good job, even though we did nothing, and there was a twenty-dollar bill on the desk for us.
Eli offered to help Carl and he asked if he was a clone. At first, it was hard to believe what he said, but Eli told him no. He told Eli to show him his eye, which he did, and then the same to John. Realizing we weren’t who he was looking for, his drops that notion.
Pressing him further if we could help, Eli asks Carl to elaborate on what he is doing. He poses a theory about someone wanting to make a movie about clones. Carl had looked into a man named Seth Rosenbal, but didn’t find anything wrong about him. Later, he is found dead with two dots under his eye. A week later, another Seth Rosenbal is found dead, mangled and crushed at a local dump with three dots under his eye.
Looking into Ferry Halim, the last place Seth had been, he found the company had made upwards of $10 million dollars. More distressingly, it was donated high-level lab equipment not related to the business. Carl believes the government is somehow involved. After this, Lisa’s mother is killed in a car accident. Even later, a friend in the LAPD passes Carl information about a missing teenager so he looks into it. Shortly after this, his friend is killed and the friend’s son is mortally injured. He then mention a bunch of kids coming together from various places with no real common connection and that William is one of those kids.
Eli tells him we are not the kids he’s looking for so maybe we could help him since we can talk to the youth of the area without suspicion. Carl isn’t interested in it since everyone, save myself, gave him fake names last night. Carl says he has no more leads on the kids anyway, so he is going to look into an older woman who was hanging out with them. I knew this was Lindsey. I spoke up about all this, asking why he would even bother if the clones aren’t doing anything. Reiterating that it sounds like a movie, he believes Ferry Halim is behind it and the cloned kids are attempting to kill the original Seth Rosenbal to silence him.
Carl decides to offer us a $100 if we can find any information about the case and gives me the key to his apartment. Carl then left and Bjorn and William narrowly missed running into him. After getting back together, Eli realizes he may have sent Carl to Ariel’s vision by offering to look into the kids. While Eli looked for a car, I ducked out of public view and enact the Rite of the Questing Stone to track Carl.
It took a little work, but Miguel and Eli finally managed to get an SUV we could all fit into. In the back, three car seats were in the way and removing them revealed many bags of white powder, obviously drugs. With no time to think about it, we ignored the drugs and began driving towards my sensation of his location. The drive took longer than we had hoped and it was getting dark by the time we made it to the Ferry Halim building.
We pulled up near the building and watched as Carl tried to coerce and bribe his way past a security guard. The guard was unwilling to listen and kicked him out, locking the door behind him. We followed him to a nearby Walgreens where he got some coffee and cigarettes. He just waited in his car as we decided what to do.
We spent several minutes debating on what to do, but nothing seemed any better than simply sneaking into the Ferry Halim building and finding what exactly Carl was looking for so we could throw him off. Security cameras panned back and forth in the front of the building and we finally decided to head to the back.
In the back, Bjorn watched carefully until the camera panned away before using Open Seal on a loading door. We all took turns carefully waiting until the camera panned away and made our way inside the building save for William who stayed at the SUV. The first floor didn’t appear to have anything except junk and paperwork, so we immediately made our way to the second floor.
Using my make-up compact, I used the mirror to peer around corners to avoid people. There didn’t appear to be anyone walking around, so we just continued dodging the cameras. Not knowing where Tom was, we ducked into a nearby office to look for a directory. There was no directory found, so I decided to once again do the Rite of the Questing Stone for Tom Carter.
As I worked on the Rite, John could hear voices in the next room. The voices appeared to be identical, like someone talking to themselves. After I finished the Rite, I was pointed in the direction of upstairs. Ignoring the voices, we headed upstairs to find Tom’s office.
After locating his office, we opened the door to find Tom sitting at his desk typing. He wanted to know who we are and we told him we were friends of Lisa. We told him Lisa was being watched and he needed to go home to be with his daughter as she is frightened. Tom was worried we were going to get in trouble so he told us he was going to try to get us out of the building and that he was fine.
Although Tom was telling the truth about being ok, we told him we would leave on our own so he wouldn’t get in trouble. As he closed the door to his office, we listened in to hear him talking about moving things. He said they knew we were here, although I figured he just meant regular people as Tom had no idea we were Garou.
We decided to return to the room we heard the voices coming from. Inside, we opened the door to find a doctor standing in front of five identical people. One of them was a bit deformed, but the others appeared normal. They seemed to repeat whatever the doctor said save for the deformed one who grunted in pain.
Realizing we were there, the doctor questioned who we were and what we were doing here. We tried to make up an excuse about being here for Seth Rosenbal’s things, but he, Doctor Benny Walton, tells us Seth hasn’t been here in six months. The doctor looks as though he might call security when Bjorn just says we went to the wrong place and we’ll leave. We shut the door on our way out and listen in just like with Tom. We overhear Benny talking to someone named Lex about the situation.
Since we had clearly overstayed our welcome, we returned back to the back loading door to find it open. Realizing it had to be Carl, we turned around and I grabbed the stone I used for him to locate him. Finding ourselves back upstairs, we located a room that had a woman in a coma. Across from the room, we found a teenage girl named Tina who told us where Carl went. John tried hitting on her, but she replied she was married, and we figured she was a clone of Lisa’s mother.
As we continued through a server room, we managed to find Carl in a waiting room. Eli then had an idea to plant the drugs we found in Carl’s car so he would go to prison and be safe once we got him out of here. He told William through Quetzal to plant the drugs in Carl’s car which he complied.
We asked Carl what he was doing and he replied he was waiting for Lex. He finds it very odd we would show up, but we denied being any sort of clone and told him we were just going to talk to Tom about Carl’s stalking. We were going to leave before we realized Carl was here and came back to get him out of trouble.
Bjorn tries to convince Carl that they are willing to clone people illegally, and then they would be just as willing to kill him. Carl blew Bjorn off though by stating he was recording the whole thing on his black box. As a voice called out for someone to come in, John quickly grabbed Carl in a chokehold until he passed out. John, Eli, and Miguel made their way back out the building as Bjorn and I entered the office.
Inside we stood before an elderly man named Lex Baritune. We quickly found we didn’t have anything to say to him, that is, until he mentioned he knew we were Garou. Bjorn wanted to know why they were cloning people and Lex replied that everything including the clones were his. Lex then enacted a protocol while mentioning we started this war. I told him we didn’t have anything to do with the war he spoke about personally, but he said others had killed his clones.
Still, Lex wanted to know why we were here if not to destroy him. Bjorn told him of the vision sent by the Spirits that if Carl was killed, it would turn out bad for everyone. Bjorn tells him we are going to take care of Carl without killing him and he tells us security is off and we may go. Before we leave, Bjorn asks what exactly is he to which Lex replies he is a drone, an agent of the Weaver.
After the conversation, Bjorn and I start to make our way out. We passed by Tina’s room and she asked where we are going. Bjorn said we had to leave and Tina took this to mean it included her as well. She asked if she had time to pack some things and I initially said no. She looked bummed out about not taking her things as we paused, but after thinking about it for a second, Bjorn realized we should take her with us to get answers from Tom. She gathered up her belongings, said goodbye to her “mom” in the other room, and we left the building.
John placed Carl back in his car and took his camera from him before we called the police. Afterwards, we got into our stolen car and headed back to Santa Cruz. As we drove back to Santa Cruz, Bjorn tried to call Tom from Tina’s phone. However, before we could make a destination, the phone went dead. Bjorn asked Tina if she knew what was going on there. She replied that she was aware she was a clone and she had been artificially aged until 8 months in order to prevent what happened to the other clone.
After her explanation, Tina’s phone rang and Bjorn answered it. On the other end was Lex who wanted his phone back. He mentioned they are far enough along with the development of the program to not need Tina anymore. Bjorn asked if Tom was going to be ok which Lex replied he would. Bjorn asked if Lex would tell Tom to come to the beach near his house and Lex said he would tell him. When it came time to decide how to return the phone, Lex told Bjorn to just destroy it.
We drove to the beach outside Lisa’s house and Tom met us there. Tina ran up to him and hugged him. Tom sent her to a nearby bench to wait while we talked to him. He told us he had been fired, but given severance pay. Tom went to work on what he thought was an AI for a game. During this time, his wife died in a car accident and Tom realized the program was for mapping brain patterns. While he never mentioned it, I could only assume at this time he offered his wife up for the program.
The program caused the brain to accelerate growth over the course of eight months until the clone was fully developed. Some of them failed after trying to accelerate the growth beyond that time frame like the woman in the other room. The company was under the direction of Mr. Catilades.
After hearing the entire explanation, I raised concerns about the ethics of what he has done. I told him he should have just let his wife die. Even if I could bring back my foster parents, I wouldn’t do it. I felt it was morally wrong to play God. He replied that he would make it work and introduce Tina to Lisa as his niece, which didn’t sound any better to me. He told us he wouldn’t interfere with our lives and vice versa, but we told him we would continue to remain friends with Lisa regardless. Tom went over to Tina and the two left.
Afterwards, as we started to leave, Arne and his pack approached us. They told us they know where we had been and they had been following us. They asked what we had seen and we told them honestly. They wondered why we didn’t destroy the entire place, but we could only tell them we followed the vision given to us by the spirits. One of his pack said they didn’t believe us and naturally, William retorted.
Arne asked if William had something to say. We knew they were trying to taunt us into a fight and even William went silent at this. They believed the clones are soulless and the perfect hosts for an army of fomor. We reiterated that we believed in what the spirits said, as we had to follow it. Still, Arne tried to goad us into fighting, but we wouldn’t give in. Seeing that we wouldn’t fight, Arne told his pack to leave. Bruce told us to say hi to Kyle if he was still alive, but Arne quickly made him stop.
After the pack left, a girl came up to us in amazement. She had seen the entire conversation and she was surprised we didn’t fight. We realized she had to be a Garou and she introduced herself as Spot. She belonged to the Sept of the Stone Sea. She told us to not sweat it as the Sept of the Silver Fury were good at fighting, but terrible at talking to anyone. She then told us she had to follow them so she would see us later. She shifted into Lupus form, which looked a little mangy making me think of the Bone Gnawers, and darted off towards their direction.
We returned to the Sept that night and I took some time to meditate. After that, we went to the cabin and told Crafty what had happened. Crafty told us pretty much the same thing as Spot did and to not sweat it. At that moment, my phone rang and it was Cliff. He asked for some help moving something, but he needed just one of us. It sounded odd, but I told him Eli would come up to the lodge.
Not trusting the way Cliff sounded, I suggested someone else go with Eli in secret and John chose to go. Eli traveled to the lodge in Homid form while John followed behind in Lupus form. As Eli got ready to open the door, a shot rang out and he was hit with a silver bullet through the shoulder. Eli told Quetzal to send for help.
Quetzal alerted us to the attack on Eli and we quickly ran towards the lodge in Lupus form. Another shot rang out, and the damage dropped Eli unconscious. John told us there were more of them in the bawn as he snuck up on one. At that point, a man in military gear walked up to Eli’s body, zip tied him with a silver cord, and dragged him inside the lodge. He then asked his men to call for another one.
By this time however, we had left the cabin and there was no one to answer the phone. Realizing we were on to them, the apparent leader told them to head back to the lodge. The man John was watching started laying out playing cards on the ground. John quickly responded by attacking and killing him. He then charged up to the lodge towards two men who headed off in different directions around the lodge.
Choosing the right path, he ran up on one who held out something in his hand and dared John to attack. John tried to grab the man’s hand and attack, but could only attack him. The man pushed the button on the device he was holding and caused a massive explosion on one of the top levels of the lodge. John quickly finished the man off and headed to the back of the lodge.
At this time, we arrived and saw the explosion. We all rushed in. John quickly had Quetzal heal Eli as he undid his bindings while I grabbed a fire extinguisher and headed upstairs with Bjorn. Thankfully, all of the guests had left. We found Cliff, beaten and tied up to a chair. There was a timer with a bomb wrapped around him. Bjorn quickly pulled the bomb off and threw it out the gaping hole in the wall while I put out some of the fire. Once the bomb hit the ground, it created a large crater in the ground and could have obviously leveled the remainder of the building.
I got Cliff to safety and took the tape off his mouth. I realized he was hurt pretty badly so I healed him with Mother’s Touch as he mentioned something being in his pocket. I reached in his pocket and found five playing cards. They were Aces and Eights, commonly known as a Dead Man’s Hand. As I helped Cliff out of the lodge, Bjorn asked who they were. He didn’t know, but he could tell they were military and specially trained.
As the fire department arrived, we quickly disposed of the bodies while they put the fire out. We confiscated any of their gear that was useful. They were packing some serious gear like assault rifles with silver bullets, silver knives, and grenades laced with silver fragments. It was obvious they weren’t affected by the Delirium and knew how to kill Garou.
We made arrangements to get the kinfolk back to the cabin for safety. Back at the cabin, Crafty is the only one who knew who they were. They are called Dead Man’s Hand and they are agents of the Wyrm. We now knew how important it would be to strengthen the Sept. I sat for the rest of the night taking care of Cliff realizing how close we came to losing both kinfolk and Garou.