Note: Walk is intended for mature audiences only
Cain had returned from his journey in the Shadow. Jake was also in the living room, finally getting a break from his work at the hospital. Troy didn’t feel like having to fill in the rest of his packmates on the latest threat to their territory. "Those hunters did some business in town.Talbot might have chased them off for now, but they might not stay gone. I’m going to see what I can find out."
A series of whirls and chirps accompanied Troy’s entrance into Harrison’s Cantina. It wasn’t the first time he had entered the shop, but he still couldn’t marry the idea of Star Wars and a hunting shop. From the R2-D2 sound effect at the entrance to the counter straight from the Mos Eisley cantina scene, the place was both museum and shop. The owner looked up from his books, “Hey, there, what can I do you for?”
“I was looking for some cameras to see if a site I was looking at would be good for game.”
“You’re the second customer I’ve had that’s asked for cameras.” The two continued in small talk about the different qualities of the various cameras that John, the proprietor of the shop, still had in stock. Troy pressed for more information on the previous customer, seeing how they had purchased the better quality of camera. He stated that he might be able to get theirs. He didn’t have much information. The guy and his friend were hunters who paid in cash. John had some questions of his own. “So, you’re part of that group living up at the old Creed House, right? My cousin has some stories about that creepy place. Once, he told me that a little girl drowned up in that pond up there.” He looked up at Troy, “No offense.”
“No, you’re right, it did look a little creepy when we took over it. Not so bad now that it’s liveable.” Troy tried to alleviate the man’s suspicions.
“That nurse, she lives up there with all you guys, doesn’t she?”
Clearly John had no concept of Val, but Troy could see where this line was headed. “No, we’re all just buds. We came out here because my friend got a good opportunity here. You might have seen him, Deputy Cain?”
John Harrison paused, not knowing if he had overstepped, “Hey, fishing season’s coming up soon, do you need anything? I’ve got enough of a selection that you don’t need to see Steve over at the Happy Hooker.”
Troy nodded and offhandedly waved goodbye.
By comparison, the interior of Smythe’s Firearms was dark and unwelcoming. Troy could smell oil, smoke, and metal. That wasn’t surprising. Two things did, however, strike odd. First, there was no one behind the counter. Second, inside the counter was a collection of custom weapons. “Something catch your eye?” Troy looked up and saw a man wearing yellow shooting glasses. He was thin, in good shape for a middle aged man.
“These are some nice pieces,” Troy said, trying not to act surprised. “But I was looking for some rifles.” The two hunters had left here with a heavy metal case, possibly a heavy caliber weapon. While those two may be delusional about hunting a bigfoot, such a weapon could hurt him and his pack, or others of the People. “Can you handle an order?”
Smythe folded black-gloved hands on the counter. “Depends on what you plan on using it for.”
“We’ve had some trouble at home. I was looking to have something just in case things got violent.” It was true in a round about way. They did have enough trouble, both at the Creed House and throughout their territory, both could be considered home. “Have you been doing this long?”
“Forever.” Smythe displayed several rifles for Troy, explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each. Troy respected the man’s knowledge of firearms. “Come on back. I’ve got something that I think you’ll enjoy.” He took Troy to his workshop in the back, lifting off a tarp to revel a Civil War era gattling gun. “It’s Confederate make. Been repairing it since I found it at the back of a storage barn near Gettysburg.” Smythe noticed that his guest was not looking at the rare find, but to a collection of bullets on a shelf nearby. “Looking to kill some werewolves?”
Troy eyed the silver bullets. They could easily be death to his kind. It was the one thing that the movies and lore had always gotten correct. “They look nice, decoration?”
“Nope, they’ll fire. A client ordered them, paid for them up front, but never showed to pick them up.”
Troy drew his Glock, removing the clip and clearing the chamber. “It’s about an eighth of an inch off. Think there’s something you can do?”
Smythe looked at the pistol and put out his hand, “I’ll have it ready for you in a couple of days.” Troy took his hand. It felt cold to the touch.
Clearly there was something odd with Smythe. Troy returned to Harrison’s, wondering about the gunsmith. He picked out a backpack and started up a conversation with John. “West’s been through some tough times. Despite the fact that he’s armed over half the town, it was his house that was broken into, his family that were killed. He keeps to himself, not that anyone blames him.”
“What took you so long?” Jake sniped as Troy returned to the Creed House.
Troy flipped off his packmate. “Went into town to check up on things. Saved your reputation, Val.”
“I don’t give a shit what they think of me.”
“Anyway,” Troy shook his head, “I think that there’s something weird with Smythe down at the gun shop.”
“We’re going to have to table any kind of Smythe problem.” Ken was finding it difficult to gain a consensus with his packmates. “He’s not a pressing matter.”
“Do you think they’ll go after the doctor?” Cain was concerned that this other pack would keep their secrets by silencing her.
“Jake’s familiar with hospitals and he can handle himself in a tight situation. He can keep an eye on her while we do our part.” Ken felt that they were finally panning out their plan.
Val took the moment to address something that had concerned her. “We also need to capture the patient that they set loose. I know that the Crimson Rivers are our main threat. He doesn’t deserve to die and if we stop the Pure, he might get away. If this guy gets away, he might spill more blood. I don’t want that on my hands.”
“Good, then,” Ken felt that it was time to get moving. “While we set up the cameras, Jake keeps an eye on Dr. Blake. After Martens releases the patient, Troy collects the photos. Val and Cain keep an eye out for the Crimson Rivers. I’ll track the patient should he get away. Remember, we don’t want to be in any of these photos. Stealth is key. We want to avoid any confrontation with them.”
Surprisingly, the plan went without a hitch. Cain even managed to get several incriminating photos with his own camera. Troy grabbed all the cameras. Ken had grabbed the patient that Martens had released. No great showdown with the Crimson Rivers was necessary. They had taken a round about route back to Wellsboro, ensuring that they were not followed. The most they needed to deal with was the ravings of their prisoner, who said that he needed to get home to check on his family.
The patient suddenly collapsed as Cain was walking him in to the police station. “Val,” he called, “he’s not breathing!”
Val rushed to the patient. " Tell Kathy to call the hospital." She managed to keep him alive by performing a quick tracheotomy, opening his airways.
“What’s this?” Later, Cain noticed that there was something wrong with the casing of one of the cameras they had hidden.
Troy had opened another of the cameras. “Guys, we’ve got a problem. There’s no film in here.”
“Worse,” Cain’s eyes widened as he opened the camera case. A blinking red light revealed a tracking device.
Val immediately placed a call to Doc of the Five Ardent Spirits. “I need a favor.” They owed her pack for the vengeance she and Troy had wrought on Gaines. He would take the device far from their territory.
Two days later the news reported that the Inez Wellness Home had burned to the ground amidst investigations into prisoner abuse. All the inmates and guards were found inside. The police had no leads, but suspected foul play. One inmate had survived, escaping a few days earlier. Bruce Thurson, or the Family Man, as the Pittsburg papers had dubbed him during his killing spree. They reported that he had been found hitchhiking in the Wellsboro area. He had been hospitalized and was under police supervision.
From within the hospital, Val had learned that Thurson had been injected with a poison through a toxicology report she had managed to read.
“Read this,” Cain said that night, “It was delivered to the station with some flowers.” Each pack member read the clean crisp handwriting on the envelope. ‘The first move was well played,’ it read.
The next day, Ken drove his Jeep to the burned remains of the Home. He didn’t get close enough to arouse the suspicions of the investigators present. He was more concerned with the Shadow. Ken easily shifted his awareness across the Gauntlet. He no longer saw the masses of madness and pain spirits that Val had seen. There were some fire spirits and death spirits present, but they were small and to be expected. The only thing that he saw were small mosquito-like spirits that were draining Essence from some of the smaller spirits before flitting off. He had never seen the odd spirits and made note of them.
Their pack had won a victory for their territory, but they had made an enemy as well.