Awakening: Meanwhile, Not Far Away

This is a cut-scene taking place a number of miles north of Prospect Peak during the early stages of The Scouring.

*     *     *     *     *

Not far from the Penumbral representation of Signal Butte, a little bit south of the scar that was the spiritual representation of Highway 44 in the vicinity of Lassen Volcanic National Park, a dingy white-furred wolf loped steadily away from the roiling smoke that rose up behind Prospect Peak. Screams and shrieks of Banes and Glade Children and the howls of Garou could be heard in the far distance if one had ears sharp enough to listen. The wolf had such ears.

He halted and shifted in form, becoming a man whose hair was the same unwholesome shade of white as the wolf’s fur. His pale skin was mottled from long exposure to spiritual and physical corruption, and his sensitive pinkish eyes were protected by dark sunglasses. One gloved hand reached into his picket and drew forth a cellular phone. As he speed-dialed the correct number and awaited an answer, he paced back and forth near the road shaking his head.

After three rings, a thick and mumbling voice was heard answering, “Well?”

“It’s done, sir. The contractor made it out too,” he explained.

“Good,” the speaker said and the call disconnected.

Once he reached the road, he looked into the reflection on the screen of his phone and Stepped Sideways into the material world. After a few moments of waiting, he saw a muddy SUV driving down the road towards him. It came to a halt and a man leaned out of the driver’s side window to gesture to him.

“Hurry up, Bolc. We don’t have all day,” The driver spoke impatiently.

Bolc hustled across the road and clambered in on the passenger’s side, grinning gruesomely at the driver despite his dislike for the man. As the large vehicle took off down the road away from the park, the two men focused on the woods around them. Once they were a mile or two down the road, the driver finally looked at Bolc again.

He was an outwardly unremarkable man, eminently forgettable in most respects. His face always seemed to have a layer of stubble like any number of other disaffected modern men, and he was clad in a stained hoodie, jacket and ragged hiking clothes. A thin layer of dust, mud and pollen were on his clothing. He looked something like a man who had dropped out of the banal modern world to rot away while walking the earth. Almost the only feature of his that belied this general impression of being a simple modern burnout was his eyes: from up close, one could not mistake the spiritual darkness behind them  – they were as cold and dead as the eyes of a shark. Bolc had to think for a few moments to even remember the man’s name.

“Jimmy, The Scryer finally had to clear out or they would have caught it, but I saw enough to know that they’re going to be busy for a while yet,” Bolc uttered gleefully. ” Set their own forest on fire to stop those fomori you set on them. It was hilarious. Ah well… it was too bad that my Banes at the ritual site didn’t manage to kill any of those Gaian idiots first, though.”

Jimmy shook his head, not bothering to look over at Bolc, “I don’t give a f___ about a couple hundred acres of burned trees or a few dead wolves. That’s chump change.”

*     *     *     *     *

An hour later, a large and overweight man wearing a suit rumpled from flying was sitting behind a desk at a hotel in Redding, one thick elbow resting on the desk. Sausage-like fingers flicked ashes from the end of his Circinus-brand cigarette. He was bald and covered in small nodules or warts, and his small piggy eyes were focused on the contact directory on his cellphone. Selecting the desired contact, he engaged his bluetooth headset and sat back to chain his cigarette.

“Johnson? Cortin from HSL here. I just saw the news about those fires out at Lassen. You didn’t mention anything about a burn being scheduled when we set this project up. Oh, last minute change… would have been nice to be filled in. Do you think the firefighters will have things under control by tomorrow?” his voice was thick, throaty and sounded a bit like he was chewing on a mouthful of hamburger. “Oh, so the burn’s the next mountain over. Good. I was getting a little worried. My people arrived in the area today and were scheduled to go out there tomorrow to set up. What’s that? Of course, we’ll comply with whatever the Forestry Service instructs, and we’ll hold back our timetable if they want us to delay.  Geological research is important and all, but safety first, right? Oh good. I’m glad. Yeah, I just flew in and I’m going to meet with a couple of donors tonight. I’ll be out there in two days to inspect the worksite myself. Thanks. Yeah, say hello to your wife for me. Bye.”

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