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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 11:47 am 
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After much discussion, the young wolves manage to squeeze Adahy's Crinos form into the back end of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With Arianne driving, there was time for Sophie to do a little research via the internet on the Smoky Mountain Futures.

Otherwise, the trip was quiet. The interstate again ran along paths other roads had broken before it, following creeks and breaks in the mountains wherever it could. Small communities lay off to the sides, the houses and yards silvered by the Gibbous Moon. After the long fight, the silence was restful. Were it not for Arianne's driving, one might almost be able to nap.

The "Welcome to Tennessee" sign was almost unnoticed, as there was no change in the mountains surrounding them. Weaver-based place names seemed to have little meaning to the ancient tree-topped ridges rolling out to the moon-lit horizon.

But a change was there. The exits off the interstate started showing signs of strip-mall sprawl as they neared the more populated regions. The communities glimpsed as the Jeep sped by were lit by streetlights, the houses starting to get the cookie-cutter sameness found in bedroom communities of larger cities. The signs of the Weaver were getting stronger.

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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 10:46 am 
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Adahy had spent most of the trip cramped, annoyed, and growling low whenever anything touched him. At least there was no chance that once they got out Adahy wasn't going to be in the mood to kill something.

"Are we there yet?"

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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 4:12 pm 
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Adahy didn't get an answer for Alex because Alex didn't here him. The Shadow Lord had his earphones on and was demonstrating his eclectic taste by listening to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata while dozing lightly.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:39 pm 
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In his guise of "Joe-Smith," Sees-Faces was sitting cramped in the back seat of the Jeep, with the hard metal strap around his torso holding him to his seat. He had no love of being restrained, but several strongly-worded conversations convinced him that (at the least) the others thought it was a good idea.

However, hearing Adahy's question mightily confused the young Stargazer. He paused a few moments before replying. "We can be a place?"

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:12 am 
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Sophie hadn't heard the question either, though in her case it was for a slightly different reason. Simply put, in her own unique fashion, she was communing with the spirits.

For two hours Sophie had sat in perfect silence, her eyes darting over the screen, making not a sound save for the soft patter of keystrokes on her laptop's keyboard as she pulled up articles and dove through deep-web databases to find the facts and data she was looking for. The Weaver spirits that crowded the Internet told her many strange things, some of which she had been looking for, some of which she had not, and they danced by the thousands and the tens of thousands between her computer and the satellites floating invisibly in the sky above. Alien and analytical beyond the ken of most Werewolves, these were Sophie's spirits, the ones that had surrounded and spoke to her since she was a pup. She knew them as well as Sees-Faces or Adahy knew their Wyld spirits, as well as Alexander knew whatever the hell Shadowlords consulted when the time came for them to seek the wisdom of the wider world. She spoke their language, understood their needs and ways, and had been tracing their patterns through the invisible web they wove since before she could count. They were her spirits, and she trusted them more than most wolves she had met.

And as before, when she needed them to help her make sense of what was happening, they did not fail her.

"This isn't right..." she said all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the first sound she'd made since leaving in the car. And she raised her head all of a sudden and turned around in the front seat to Sees-Faces and Alexander and Adahy still crammed in the trunk (once again she was thankful that she hadn't been cursed that badly by her Metis status).

Sees-Faces looked hopelessly confused, of course, and this probably wouldn't help. Poor wolf didn't know a laptop from a serving tray, but Alexander would understand. At least if he were awake.

She reached back and roughly shook the Shadowlord awake. "Hey," she said, "wake up. I've found something."

She hit a button unseen on the laptop's keyboard, and the face of a man in a business suit appeared before the other three werewolves. Arianne couldn't see it of course, she had to drive, but she could at least listen in.

"This is Aaron Sterling," said Sophie, "from New Jersey. He owns Smoky Mountain Futures. He's been running it for about five years. But he's not an antiques dealer, at least not mainly. He's a real estate developer."

She pulled up a series of plans of Knoxville, bits of Sterling's own presentations that he had made public in the city's newspapers.

"Sterling's been running around for two years with these big plans for something called 'Future Knoxville'. He wants to modernize the whole city or something, get rid of a lot of old buildings and put up more lucrative ones. He's been making a lot of noise about it, and he's stirred up a lot of opposition from the cultural and historical societies."

Sophie paused. This much was no feat to discover. Merely reading the online versions of a newspaper would tell her this much. But what she had to say now was considerably more... privileged.

"But something about him doesn't make sense," she said, bringing up a crude, color-coded map of Knoxville. "Look at these plans again. The dots in red are properties he's been trying to buy. "They're all... local gathering spots. Community centers, clubs, quilting houses, farmer's markets, public parks, even an old dance studio. He's been targeting these places selectively for 'renovation'."

She let them look at the map for a few moments. "Now why would he do that?" she asked. "Two thirds of these properties aren't even close to the downtown district. They're scattered all over the city, high income, low income, commercial, residential, there's no rhyme or reason to it." She pointed to one of the red dots. "This one's a sports bar," she said. "Been there forever. Why would he want to replace it without replacing any of the surrounding buildings? The nearest other property he's trying to buy is a third of a mile away. That's like going into the suburbs and building one high rise. It doesn't make any sense..."

She shook her head, turning the laptop back to face her. "None of it makes sense," she said, half-talking to herself. "Real Estate prices are collapsing all over the country. Nobody's investing in it anymore. There's no funding for new development on a scale like this. Where'd he get the money to buy a third of Knoxville from? Selling antiques? And even if he did manage to get the money to do all this, why would he? He's buying property all over the city. No concentration, no special areas that he can pump money into and inflate. He's got to be hemorrhaging cash on all this. There's no way any investor would give him the kind of money he'd need for a project like this, but not only does he seem to have unlimited cash, the city council actually looks like it's going to approve this plan of his, even though he's a transplant to the city and they know that the public will take it out on them in the next elections. Something's just wrong with this whole thing."

She turned the screen back to the others. "And on top of that," she said, "a lot of the stuff he's trying to buy has ties to old Indian tribes in this area. Burial grounds, tribal lands, things like that. And now this Croatan relic we're chasing just happens to get stolen by Wyrm-crazed bane-monsters and ends up in one of his shops at the same time as he's trying to do all these things that make no sense at all for someone trying to make money."

She shut her laptop, plunging the car back into darkness.

"This Sterling guy is either behind all this or he's working for whoever is," she said definitively. "I'm certain of that. There's no other reason for him to even be in this area. He's gonna lose his shirt on this real estate deal, and everything he's done is aimed at killing off all of the old spirits of the city, Weaver and Wyld. There's only two explanations. One is that he's a total idiot, which I don't believe. The other is that he's not here to make money at all, but to do something else."

She took a deep breath and frowned. She had not expected to come all this way and find a city under threat from the Wyrm. Somehow it disturbed her more than she expected it to.

"There's a woman named Megan Alexander who's been fighting this development of his," she said. "Before we leave Knoxville, I want to talk to her about Sterling."

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:18 pm 
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Alexander had pulled out his earphones and listened carefully to Sophie. "Good work Sophie," he said. "This guy sounds like thin layer of respectable gloss over a very bad piece of Wyrm tainted work. And I think you're right. We should contact Megan Alexander about this."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:22 pm 
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Arianne looked over at Alex. "Call that number Galileo gave us - they may have more info about this Sterling dude; heck, Megan Alexander may be were or kin for all we know."

She smiled at Sophie. "Good work on putting that together, Sophie. Sounds to me like there may be some Wyrm-taint going on in the city council as well."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:11 pm 
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"Let's hope she's a night owl, shall we?" said Alex as he reached for his cell and punched in the number.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:53 pm 
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The phone started ringing on the other end, then went to a series of clicks before ringing again. When it was picked up, a woman's low sultry voice answered with only a hint of Appalachian accent. "Patchwork Quilt..."

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:59 am 
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"Hello," said Alexander. "My name is Alexander Karolyi. I'm sorry to call so late, but it's urgent that I speak with Megan Alexander."

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:56 am 
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"And what makes you think she'd be here, or want to speak to you?" the voice asked, without hesitation.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:18 am 
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"Galileo gave me this number," said Alexander.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:27 pm 
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"Interesting." Now there was a pause on the other end, before the woman spoke again, far more confidently. "Then you'd not mind meeting me on State Route 95 and Bethel Valley Road to prove that?"

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:31 pm 
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"Sure," Alexander replied. "Let me confer with the driver and the navigator for a moment." He turned to adress Arianne and Sophie. "She wants a meet at either State Route 95 and Bethel Valley Road. How doable is that?"

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:11 pm 
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"Uhhh. Well there is the problem of me. Say we drop some of us off just shy so we can scout the area. Make sure it isn't a trap?" Adahy mumbled from his immensely uncomfortable seat. While he was being intensely careful, the thought of getting out and stretching his legs no doubt had something to do with the suggestion.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:13 pm 
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"Alright by me," said Alexander. "What does everyone else think?"

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:20 pm 
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Sophie was already pulling the coordinates up, but when she did she froze for a second.

"That's..." she said, typing the crossroads in again to make sure. "That doesn't make any sense. Those two highways connect at Oak Ridge."

She blinked at the screen and turned to the others.

"Oak Ridge National Laboratory," she said, only belatedly realizing the others probably hadn't heard of it. "That's an AEC Nuclear Research lab, one of the biggest in the country. Why in the hell are we meeting there in the middle of the night? There's a thousand places closer to Knoxville that aren't gonna be crawling with DoE agents.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:45 am 
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"My navigator is asking why the fuck do you want to meet us in a place that's crawling with DoE?"

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:10 am 
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"Because it's not crawling with DoE as long as you don't try to enter the buildings," the feminine voice answered flatly. "You are calling because you want my help. To get my help, you must prove yourselves. A test, of who and what you are. Do you accept?"

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:37 pm 
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Alexander suppressed a growl. It was irritating enough that the less than awe inspiring Appalachian elders were making him jump through hoops. Now a fucking monkey was making him do it. "Fine," he said. "We'll be there." He turned back to the others. "She's insistent. How long will it take us to get there?"

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:56 am 
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"Maybe half an hour, at least according to this," said Sophie. "But we can't just show up there. These people could be lunatics or wyrmspawn or something. After tonight I'm ready to believe anything.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:33 am 
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"Even for a Ragabash, giving a young pack the number of some wyrmspawn and saying they're friendly is a bit beyond the pale," said Alexander dryly. He put the phone back by his mouth. "A little less than an hour," he said. "No one has to come that doesn't want to, but I'm making that meeting."

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:44 pm 
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"Very good. I'll bring the rest of the Patchwork Quilt." The female voice hung up.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:57 am 
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Adahy muttered under the cover that was over him, then spoke aloud. "Like I said before, drop me off, maybe with Sees-Faces before we get to the meeting site. We'll be your eyes and ears to watch out for their traps."

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:25 am 
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"Sounds good," said Alexander. "Anyone else have something to say?"

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