This is a side scene detailing some of the off-camera action from the Awakening Chronicle. It is concurrent with chapters 2-3 of The Enemy of My Enemy.
* * * * *
Bill and Marco watched through the window as Solomon Wright bani Bonisagus performed a ritual that instantly transported the cabal of outsider mages and consors across many miles’ distance to the northeastern portion of Lassen National Park, and once the wave of magical force passed they looked to one another dubiously. Marco was a dark, heavily tattooed young man of mixed Hispanic and Native American ancestry with spiked hair, a ripped t-shirt and jeans that might have come out of an aerosol can. Bill was close to the same age but considerably taller, and was a lanky but reasonably fit man wearing rugged work pants and a cabled turtleneck sweater. His long brown hair was swept behind his ear for the moment but it was prone to falling free and obscuring parts of his face.
Marco was the first to break the seemingly endless silence, “Doesn’t feel right letting that bunch of strangers go off and fight our battles while we’re just staring at the walls, man.”
“Mom and I aren’t warriors… I haven’t even punched anybody since I was twelve. I can target shoot a little, but I loaned Dad’s and my hunting rifles to whatshisname… that guy that dresses like Humphrey Bogart,” Bill replied with a shrug. His face was troubled. Sitting this conflict out was an unwelcome idea that settled leaden and prickly in his stomach. He wanted to punish the psychopaths that had savaged his coven-mate.
“There’s got to be something’ we can do to help, man… I’m pretty new at all this so I’m not that good at magic yet, but I’ve got a few tricks…” Marco insisted, growing more agitated, “and I’ve got a glock in the glove compartment of White Feather’s truck out there. She’s got an old hunting rifle on a rack behind the seats too. Maybe we’re not gonna be loco enough to go kicking in doors and playing soldier… but I’m sure there’s something you can do.”
“All I really know anything about is growing apples and controlling the weather…,” Bill shrugged in frustration.
“That’s something,” Marco grinned with a wicked gleam in his eye. Bill caught that look and smiled grimly as well. Yes, there was something that he could do.
* * * * *
White Feather and Joyce stood back wiping at their brows after their combined efforts shifted poor Helen’s horribly injured and abused body from a comatose state into a healing, rejuvenatory sleep. There had been comparatively little metaphysical argument over the correct healing procedures, as the two women had both felt the urgency of their work override both their personal antipathy and the disagreements between their Paradigms: each had been far more willing to bend than they normally would have. The effort had left them both emotionally drained but finding some satisfaction in a job well done.
The two of them made their way back downstairs and found Bill and Marco avidly discussing possible ways for the two of them to help tip the scales in the conflict with the Fallen up at Lassen park. Joyce’s brows furrowed as she bustled down the stairs.
“Where is Ro? And what of the others?” Joyce inquired, though she knew that their absence could really only mean one thing. She hoped against hope that her instincts were wrong.
“Look outside,” was Bill’s simple reply.
White Feather made her way over to the window to look out, and Joyce was not far behind her. Solomon was out there alone standing in the middle of a ritual circle, his head tilted forward and touching the tip of his staff. He was murmuring sorcerous words, his Will focused elsewhere.
“What happened?” the older Dreamspeaker asked Marco.
“Oh, while you were up taking care of Helen those two consors got word that the wolves are fighting it out with some of the other side up in the park. They were real upset about it; I guess the blonde is friends with them or something…”
“She is Kinfolk, like myself,” White Feather said and gestured for him to continue as she took a seat next to her protege.
“Anyway, those two technomancers sat us all down and told us what was up. Ro volunteered to help, and then Solomon teleported them all up there … he’s still monitoring them now.”
“Ro went haring off to help a bunch of rabid pit bulls fight the Nephandi without even consulting me?,” Joyce said, aghast.
“Mom, there wasn’t really time,” Bill answered, “and you had enough on your plate.”
Marco spoke up next, “Bill and I were discussing asking Solomon to send us up there to help too.”
“What?” Joyce snarled and looked squarely at her son.
“I didn’t offer to go charging in to battle beside them. They’ve got a whole bunch of men armed with silver dug in at the top of Cinder Cone. The weather report says it might rain… and I thought I’d go up there and help it along, mess with those guys’ visibility so the wolves can get the drop on them.” Marco nodded vigorously along with Bill’s explanation.
White Feather quirked a brow and offered, “If you wish to go, I will gladly escort the two of you. My medicine may help keep you safe from being observed by the enemy.”
Joyce spoke with a grim, hard tone, her jaw muscles tight, “We McIntyres will gladly hunt down these Nephandi with you, or with this Nightwatcher fellow. However, we will not help the wolves. Let them bloody themselves fighting the Nephandi, and if any of the Fallen escape them then we can move in and finish the job. Those monsters murdered my husband.”
White Feather’s expression curdled and she shot back, “That wasn’t how it happened and you know it.”
“Shut up Grace,” Joyce snapped, “He’d still be alive if you could have kept your mouth shut about the beasts you’d been sleeping with.”
The native woman jumped to her feet, shouting, “I told Iron Eyes about them so he’d make friends with them! I didn’t make him go scheming to raid their Node for Quintessence with your husband and his idiot friends!”
Joyce’s eyes narrowed, her face turning red, and she growled, “They needed Tass and Quintessence so they could have a chance against the Technocracy.”
“The greedy morons snuck into one of the Garou’s holiest places to drain its power,” Grace replied coolly. “If some fool tried to steal the acorns from your sacred oak, you’d have treated them the same way and then you’d have bragged about it, you arrogant hypocrite.” The two women glared at one another, their old feud dragged back to the surface again despite their earlier cooperation.
“That’s it! Everybody chill,” Marco said loudly.
Bill followed hard on his heels: “Mom, Mrs. Sanchez… please drop it for now.” He was not accustomed to having to ask his fearsome mother to stand down, but it was what he felt he had to do. ” I miss Dad too, but these psychos raped and nearly killed Helen, and they’ll do worse to us if we can’t get them now. That’s what’s happening right now, not fifteen years ago. I’ve got the same grudge against the wolves you do, but the Nephandi are a whole lot worse. There are a lot more of the wolves out here than there are of us, and they’re our best bet of taking these guys down.”
* * * * *
A few minutes later, Joyce and Solomon were standing alone together in the grove. He was still in his ritual circle and Joyce stood facing him.
“If you have sent my son or niece to die, let it be on your head forever,” she stated, her voice worried and angry.
“It was necessary that they go, madam,” the Hermetic magician replied tersely, a bit of sweat beading on his dark-skinned brow from intense concentration. “They are now in position, and I am tracking their position as well as your niece’s and her companions… I shall alert them of any danger that I can detect, and shall now return to endeavoring to pierce the wards that surround their objective.” This was a challenging task indeed, and it forced Solomon to admit within himself that things were getting very risky. “Mrs. McIntyre, your use of the Tass from this Node of yours shows that you have some facility with the Ars Potentiae, more vulgarly known as the Sphere of Prime. We are perched on a precipice, madame… I am certain that the Willworker that constructed those wards is potent indeed, and they they will have detected my attempts to pierce their defenses by now… their protections have reacted to my probings, and it cannot be long before they attempt to trace my magic back to this place. The wards that I placed here earlier should hold for some time, but I must ask that you use your Prime arts to prepare the most cunning parma magica that you can devise to shield us should the wards that are already in place fail. With the great many tasks that are demanding my attention, I do not know if I will be swift enough to react in time should they manage to strike out at us.”
Joyce took a deep breath and nodded. The old goat was right and she knew it. Now that they were only two, and he was involved in intense ritual magic, the two of them would be very vulnerable. She had to trust to her son’s good instincts and puissance, and to Ro’s cool head… and to Solomon’s, Nightwatcher’s and White Feather’s vigilance, to keep the two of them safe. Now it was up to her to see to it that Solomon and she could survive to protect her family. With a solemn nod, she drew her athame and pressed the point into the palm of her hand, beginning to walk deosil around the width of the grove dripping blood from her fingertips along her path and pausing at each of the cardinal points to invoke the blessing of the Goddess.
* * * * *
It was cold on the southern slopes of Prospect Peak, and the wind blew bitter at that elevation. From their position the three of them had a commanding view of the top of Cinder Cone below. Looking tiny as ants from this distance, men were congregated at the rims of the caldera, ready to mercilessly butcher anybody that tried to take the slopes to reach them.
“There’s no cover, and it’s really steep… even on those two hiking trails that lead up to the summit,” Marco pointed out. “If this doesn’t work, nobody could make it up there from the bottom.”
“Then it shall have to work, Marco,” White Feather replied and drew forth her medicine pouch. She began dancing, singing to invoke the Bird Mother to cloud the minds of men that the three mages on the mountainside might remain hidden from sight, and the sounds of their workings not be traced back to their position. She had a hunting rifle slung across her back, but she prayed that it would not come to having to use it even against trained killers. Marco sat crosslegged near Bill and checked the pistol at his waist before pulling a small drum out of his backpack and beginning to beat it in time to White Feather’s song.
Bill sniffed the air, feeling the rain and maybe even snow on the chilly winds. He set his face to the winds and felt the thrill of finding the promise of a storm there, though it was not coming soon enough by half. Well, that was why Bill was there anyhow: to harness that storm to the detriment of the men below. Low clouds, rain and stiff winds were in order.
“Up here in the mountains, if you don’t like the weather all you have to do is wait five minutes… ” Bill said to nobody in particular. He quickly cleared out a space and built a little fire with some sticks and tinder that he had brought for the purpose. Once his fire was lit and coaxed to life, he set a small iron cauldron that contained a special broth upon it. After a few moments of coaxing from his will, the broth heated to a boil and he spit into it thrice, then stirred it the same number of times. He smiled and looked towards the heavens.