On the plane back to Chicago from Los Angeles, the first thing the guys noticed was that Felicity seemed a bit different, but she offered no other explanation to the new relic and Bubastis’ change in color (from her tawny coat to a shade of grey like a Russian Blue) than “I did dishes with my mother.”
Feeling very sleepy, however, the three fell unconscious on the plane ride, and all shared a vision of three Scions speaking.
Having been called together (apparently not having parted on good terms), they were apparently to find some sort of staff, topped with a clear jewel trapped in gnarled vines. They awoke, and tried to consult with Randal, who only blew them off, having not experienced anything other than music through his iPod’s ear buds.
Upon their arrival back at the warehouse, some of the three million in the Crimson Tide’s ill-gotten gains had been used well by the Danny’s Boys. The place actually looked a bit more like a living space, the small utilitarian rooms gone and replaced by four proper bedrooms, one for each of them. Communications and fortifications had been improved significantly, and the Boys themselves…they now were shadowy creatures that had gained legend for themselves, tied forever to Randal. Totally indiscernible from one another now, they flitted from shadow to shadow, and only Randal could hear their voices or cause them to materialize at his will.
Also, they had the option of picking a few other fortifications with the money they still had, and agreed to get the building supernaturally removed from the map, making the warehouse immune to scrying attempts. Also, a trap system was decided upon, as well as greasing the palms of a few city officials to remove the building entirely from public records.
A Danny’s Boy came up behind Randal at that point, mouth unseen but Randal hearing his words. His face contorted in rage, and he explained that the Boys had gotten word of a deal going down that night. Railing at himself about their trip and frivolous time in Los Angeles, he announced that he was going out that night.
Felicity decided to follow him while Thurston obsessed over the nature of their dream, doing some research with Takashi. Remembering that Takashi had access to criminal databases, Felicity approached him before Randal was to head out, and asked him to see if he could find information on her father.
Obliging, he did a check, but hit a couple of wrong keys in his usually accurate strokes, causing the entire entry to be overwritten with Takashi’s name instead. Able to at least get his name taken off the thief’s record, but unable to recall the original data, he retreated to his room in embarrassment while Felicity decided to put it out of her mind until later.
Following Randal that night on her motorcycle, she witnessed him brutally smashing in the head of a drug dealer with his hammer, and was just about to reveal herself when two orbs of light from Chance’s End began hurtling down the street towards the house Randal and his Boys were in. Bursting from her hiding place, Randal reacted as well as could be expected, but said that it was the fourth time they’d appeared during his nights out. Grabbing him and dashing into shadows, they realized that they were tracking Randal and her even though they couldn’t be seen, and Felicity took him on her motorcycle to outrun them back to the warehouse, the Boys long gone in the van.
Asking him what had gotten into him, he grew angry and went on about his responsibility to Chicago, growing angrier when she said that he couldn’t carry the entire world on his shoulders and remain sane at the same time. Telling him that there were three others here with him, that he could actually depend on them, he brutally replied, “Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts,” and went back out with the Boys to a meeting with a supposed mole in the Lake Runners, the cocaine-heavy branch of the Chicago gangs.
In the meantime, Thurston and Takashi did research on possible artifacts or relics that might match what the other band of Scions would be looking for, and why possibly they would have seen in all in their dreams. Coming up empty for the time being, the next day, Randal showed them some surveillance footage the Boys had come across. It was the Band they’d seen in their dreams, fighting off a creature and going back and forth about the artifact afterwards, about how it would “Cleanse the taint from the pure of heart.”
Randal bristled at not having had the dream with them, thinking that they were just messing with him on the airplane, and went on to the next subject, his meeting the previous evening. Ignoring Felicity, he asked Takashi and Thurston to talk to the contact, rubbing a healing cut over his eye. Apparently Randal’s reputation preceded him in a bad way, and was attacked, but thought the guys would have an easier time getting the information.
Going to the bar that night, Takashi tried first but didn’t quite get the right angle in on the guy. Thurston did, however, telling the guy that they would be able to protect him from the Runners and finish things off. Getting an address to a gathering happening soon, the contact made Thurston and Takashi promise to finish the guy off. Saying they would, they went to take the information back to Randal.
Felicity, meanwhile, called up her contact John, to see what he could get in FBI agents. Knowing that she still owed John some favors, he still agreed to listen to her since it was for Dorian. Giving him the name of Agent John Varly, Dorian Clouseau’s arresting officer, John agreed to put her in contact with a mole with the FBI within the next few days.
She was called within two days, a man who refused to give his name on the other end. Saying that he needed proof of her reliability, she was told to remove a man from a public zoning office. Apparently he was putting up red tape that was preventing a very lucrative hotel from going up, and he wanted him gone, didn’t matter how. She went to the man’s office, a fairly low level job, but apparently a thorn enough to warrant this. She became invisible and proceeded to ‘haunt’ his office, pushing his pencils out in front of him, moving his desk when he went out, unplugging his monitor just enough to cause a flickering screen, opening pages up to Sioux Indian sites, and pulling out “Inbox” entries in his boxes that had anything to do with natives in the histories to scatter around his offices. It was a long shot, but the state of his office and seemingly OCD nature she’d witnessed promised her it would only be a matter of time.
That night, Randal, Takashi, and Thurston went to the appointed meeting house to confront the Lake Runners, Takashi out obviously because they were the cocaine branch that the Yakuza wanted eliminated in return for the release of Takashi’s grandparents.
Making short work of the guards, they cornered the man in charge and offered him clemency if he talked about the remaining major branch, the Cold Blood Killers. Scared, but believing of Thurston, he talked about the leader’s nice boots and his obsession with ‘The Greater Good,’ and his stating that he would clean up Chicago and use their blood money to fund public projects. Believing the leader crazy, he also noted his frightening habits and the pets he made of crocodiles. An ominous howl was heard from outside, one Takashi and Randal recognized as belonging to the dogs with the tokens affixed to their heads, and Randal swore deeply. Takashi went outside to take care of the threat as they finished the questioning.
Finished with the man as he had no other information to offer, Thurston slashed out with a knife and cut the man’s throat.
Randal exploded in rage. “THAT WAS MY KILL. These gangs are in MY CITY. If you EVER do that again I WILL KILL YOU!” Howling in anger, he cooled off enough for a tense ride back to the warehouse.
Informing Felicity of the information on the leader of the Cold Blood Killers, she reeled in horror, recognizing each of those traits as belonging to an old enemy of hers, Rafiq, who she’d fought in Boston before joining up with the three of them in Chicago. She had spared him then, as she’d never killed anyone before and wanted to hope he’d turn out for the better, given a second chance. Apparently he hadn’t, however, and was now the leader of the biggest, most dangerous gang in Chicago.
That night, the three of them had another vision of the Scions hunting for the staff, Takashi slumping over his computer, Thurston on the ground beside him, and Felicity checking some defenses of the warehouse.
This vision showed them in an ancient house well in the middle of nowhere, holding the staff between the three of them. “Well, we found it…what do we do with it now?” They looked up then, and out a window. “We were followed! Hurry!” The windows and doors burst in, and its suddenly chaos everywhere as token-corrupted dogs and orbs surround the three. The woman who had called them together broke free of the fighting and ran upstairs, prying up a floorboard and shoving the staff in there, hiding it just in time for an orb to flash in after her, catching her straight through the heart. The vision faded, and the three woke, Thurston more determined to find the staff than ever.
That next day, they got a call from the band of Scions from Los Angeles. They were in Chicago now, and had already heard of some heavy Titan activity in the area. Agreeing to meet them at the specified place, the three of them realized to Randal’s chagrin that it was the house they’d seen in their latest vision. Samantha, Erik, Frederick, and Howard were already there when they arrived, and the confused LA band and Randal watched as Felicity, Takashi, and Thurston looked at the carnage inside and murmured about how the third’s body must be upstairs with the staff. As Thurston went upstairs to retrieve it, Erik, son of Damballa of the Loa, looked hard at Randal.
“Don’t you guys feel that? That taint?” Randal glared hard at him as Erik continued, Felicity and Takashi saying that it was just how Chicago felt. “No,” Erik said, “Its HIM…you’re working with them, aren’t you!?”
Randal roared in sudden anger and rage, and rushed at Erik full-tilt. Felicity and Takashi reacted quickly, sprinting to Randal as quickly as they could, holding him in place. They couldn’t get any sense out of him but more roaring, and knew they wouldn’t be able to hold him for very long.
Thurston, having found the staff underneath the appropriate floorboard, was lured downstairs again by the noise and commotion being caused by Randal and the others. Storming down the stairs, staff in hand, he waved it as he demanded to know what was going on here. In his waving, the staff’s jewel crossed Randal’s path and froze in Thurston’s grip, refusing to move any further. Suddenly surging with energy, Randal choked out a cry as the staff began drawing a black miasma from his body, drawing it into the jewel. When it finished, both Randal and the staff fell to the ground. From Randal’s inside pocket clattered a token; the very same one that he’d taken from Felicity after they killed the first of the dogs they’d seen. Its very presence had defiled Randal’s heart.
The rest could only stand in amazement for a moment before Felicity and Thurston went to kneel by Randal and Howard’s ears pricked up, going to the window.
“Uh, my friends! As dramatic and epic as all this is, we are not alone!” The others went to the window, seeing wave after wave of orbs and dogs, followed by giants, and finally none other than the man of light they’d dubbed Lite-Brite, the one at Chance’s End, cresting the hill in the distance.
Quickly having to rush to their vehicles, and carrying Randal between them, Thurston and Felicity looked up in time to see another figure on the hill; a man in priest’s clothing, with long violent red hair, making a sign of benediction before turning his back on the scene and walking back down. Forced to flee from more enemies than they’d ever seen, they finally outran them on the road and made it back deep into Chicago, finally stopping at a diner.
The four from Los Angeles agreed that Chicago was indeed in dire straits, and Randal, having been frantically woken by Felicity in the van, apologized to everyone assembled for his behavior.