The Fine Art of Pranking the Wyrm

“Back to New York?”
“Indeed.” Asia replied, holding up the plane ticket.
“And why New York?”
She stuck her tongue out. “Why NOT New York?”
Her teacher had to laugh. “And I trust you will be able to take care of yourself.”
“I always have. I always will. Besides, I am Kokopelli Sings-At-Stars now, not just little Asia Miller, streetkid.”
“Do not allow arrogance, child.”
“I know.” Asia pressed her hands together and performed a mockery of a bow. “I simply wish to bring music and joy to those that have none. And perform many tricks for Coyote’s behalf, of course.”
“Of course.” Her teacher, Ti Malice Grins-At-Fate, smiled. “And who, pray tell, will you prank?”
“The Wyrm, when the time is right. Pentex, when I am granted the chance. And any who put money over their own well being.”
“You’ve learned well, Sings-At-Stars.”
“Glad to make you proud.”
“Your sarcasm could use some work, though.”
Asia laughed, saluted, and turned, walking down the ramp and boarding the 747.

And to think, that was a year ago now.
Asia walked easily down the sidewalk, smiling gently at those that passed her, tipping her fedora to a few. Her saxophone case weighed heavy in one hand, her backpack pulled gently at her shoulders. In this heat, she wore worn cut-off jeans and a stained red crop top, along with battered white tennis shoes. Good ol’ red, white, and blue, she thought with a laugh to herself.
Her shoulder was jostled by a passerby, who snapped some angry words. She only smiled. Smile, always smile, she knew. Smile because they don’t know any better…
New York was infested with people who, because of their stress-filled lives and other factors, had holes in their souls. Holes that the Wyrm just loved to fill. A little joy, a little laughter, could help close the holes without wounding the soul further. Which, of course, was why she was there.
She walked into one of the parks and went straight to the fountain, turning so her back faced it and opening her saxophone case, pulling the battered instrument and settling the strap into place comfortably. Setting her backpack and case aside, she took off her fedora with a florish and set it down in front of her, then stepped back onto the rim of the fountain, lifting the saxophone to her lips.
Others in the park looked over, surprised, as the professionally played notes floated across the park, filled with joy and energy. Asia idolized Kenny G, and listened to music often, picking out artists to copy. True, a lead singer’s part or a guitarist’s part sounded a bit funny on a guitar, but with some tweaking... And really, what human didn’t smile when they heard the opening notes to “Dude Looks Like a Lady” by Aerosmith?
She grinned around the mouthpiece, walking along the fountain edge, dancing as she played, arcing her back and putting all her soul into it. She was good at this, she knew. Kokopelli granted her talents in music in addition to her own, as well as some extra stamina for other methods of fun. Her able fingers danced down the instrument. Dude looks like a lady…
People started to drift over, a slow smile spreading, and spare change was tossed into the upside-down fedora below her. Her grin grew, crinkling the skin around her eyes.
A battered, scruffy middle-aged man walked forward, and pulled a battered trumpet from his rucksack, which he dropped beside her backpack. She nodded to him, and he stepped up next to her, adding the trumpet’s notes to hers, even copying some her dance moves, but letting her take the main part.
As she watched, some of the more energetic people started dancing, grabbing partners. A few policemen, part of the mounted force for New York, stood nearby and watched carefully. She looked at them cross-eyed and stuck her tongue out between parts, and was rewarded with smiles.
Street performers are common in New York, mostly desperate people needing money who had some talent. But sometimes, in the case of herself or perhaps in the grizzled old Bone Gnawer she played beside, there was some true talent, and it always attracted other talent.
A young black man with his hair in dreadlocks made his way over, sat down on the fountain edge next to the hat, and added bongos—impromptu drums—to the song, nodding to the two musicians he played with. He was no one Asia knew, but he seemed free of Wyrm taint, so she didn’t mind, continuing her dance, and playing with everything she had.
The song came to an end, amid applause from the audience, and more money hit the hat. It was three in the afternoon, shift change for some, and high school had let out. That mean more people would be coming through the park.
“What next, chicka?” Asked the black man, looking up at her.
“You know ‘Rag Doll’?”
“More Aerosmith?” Rusty, the Bone Gnawer, laughed like pebbles rattling in a can.
“I feel upbeat.” She replied, and started playing in the lower registers of her sax, walking down the edge of the fountain, stepping in time, hips swaying.
Hot time, get it while it’s easy…
Skateboarders and rollerbladers paused in their travels and drifted over to see what was going on, and a few businessmen, hands wired to cellphones wired to ears, also wandered over, mingling without knowing it. The cops stayed to the perimeter, but they, too, were included in the group. A few more uptown kids in polo shirts and on scooters also stopped, watching as the trio brought another song to a close.
“So, what do you guys think eh?” Asia let the sax hang on the strap, wiping sweat off her forehead.
“Mas Tequila.” The drummer toasted her with a flask and took a sip.
“Works for me. Your lead.” He started a low beat, and she hopped forward off the fountain rim. “All right, here we go. We’re going to tell you a little story, now, about the way we like to party. Take you on a trip, yeah!” She whooped the last word, and lifted the sax, going into the main song, walking forward and wandering the crowd as she played. She heard Rusty’s trumpet join her, and after a long moment, another trembling instrument, an oboe, joined them. Turning, she saw one of the yuppies had opened his music case, woodwind making a violent attempt at keeping up with the brass and bongos. She nodded, and the high schooler, a clean-cut boy, followed her back up to the fountain, jamming along as well he could with the mismatched instrument. She stepped back up on the fountain rim and two-stepped absently as she played, still the lead instrument, watching as a small portion of the crowd danced. More money was being tossed in the hat, and the boy that had joined them hopped up on the fountain rim with her and Rusty, attempting their footwork with the playing.
Eventually the crowd drifting around nearby got too big, and the pair of policemen walked forward to break it up, a few off-shift security officers joining them.
“Yes officer?” Asia said somewhat innocently, smiling. Smile. Always smile.
“We’ll have to ask you to move on, please.”
“Eh, too good to be true anyway…” Grunted Rusty, hopping off the fountain rim even as the crowd booed.
Asia held her smile, eyes sliding to the security guys, who looked back. She took one look at the PX insignia on their sleeves, and held back a wide laugh. Fools. Beautiful fools. She shrugged and held her arms wide. “I’m violating no one’s rights officers, and this is hardly an unlicensed street party…”
“Move on, miss.”
She shrugged again, still smiling, picking up her fedora and sparing a glance inside. The yuppie kid shook his head when she glanced her way, and she nodded to one side slightly as she picked up her backpack and case. With that motion, the kid, Rusty, and the drummer trailed after her to another part of the park.
“Not bad.” She remarked to the oboe player respectfully. “Thanks for joining.”
“A pleasure. Name’s Andy.” He held out his hand.
She shook it, showing him a full-watt grin. “Asia. This here’s Rusty.” She hooked a thumb at the grizzled trumpet player. “Dunno the other fellow.”
“Jus’ call me Mark. We sharin’?” He gestured at the hat she still held.
She crouched and counted, blinking when Andy tossed a ten-dollar bill in as she did. “Nice. With his donation, we got us sixty dollars on that little performance.” She easily split the money, passing twenty to Rusty and Mark both then shoving her twenty in a back pocket. “Assuming you’re not interested in splittin’ the cash, Andy?”
“Nah.” He held up his hands. “Happy just to play.”
“Cools. Catch you later Rusty.” She added, but the Bone Gnawer was already gone, as was Mark.
“What school you go to?” Andy asked, taking in her battered clothes.
“I don’t. I’m rather out-of-doors.” She spread her arms and laughed.
“And you’re happy about the fact?”
“Aw why not? I don’t gotta pay rent. Got some nice people I know, they let me share dinner or borrow the couch for the night. Got friends. Don’t need no apartment.”
He stared at her, sizing her up again as she put the sax back into the case and put on the fedora with a wink, now noting her Kokopelli necklace. “Buy you a cup of coffee?”
“Eh why not…”

“How long you been on the streets?”
“Couple years. Got sick of foster homes, they got sick of me.” She sipped at her mocha late, and made a note to herself to make sure that Pentex wasn’t invested in StarBucks. She didn’t like the idea of drinking a bane. “Been around a bit. Do got some money, don’t need to spent to much. I keep myself fed. I keep myself entertained.”
“If I may ask, why?”
She set her cup down, sizing him up very slowly, and grinned. The kid was garou, probably a Glass Walker. She made a note to prank him gently a few times. “Why not?”
He blinked at her. She continued her grin.
She took a long look around. The place was busy and noisy. Leaning forward, she casually remarked, “Ya’all knew what Rusty was, didn’t ya?”
He gaped at her.
“Just letting you know I know what ya are.” She sat back and continued her grin.
“Have my own suspicions about you as well.” He grimaced. “Nobody normal could grin so damn much.”
She laughed and thrust her hand forward across the table. “Asia Miller, also known as Asia Sings-At-Stars.”
“Andy Howls-To-Stone.”
“A pleasure.”
A few more long moments. Asia finished her mocha and stood. “I best be moving on. My very presence is making the nine-to-fivers uneasy.” She nodded at the other patrons.
“Will I see you again?”
She threw back her head and roared with quiet laughter. “Horrible, horrible line, Andy. May-be. That’s all I can say.” And with that she was gone, striding down the streets.

“Hey Rusty.”
“Hey kid.”
Asia crouched down in the alley, peering into the cardboard box. “Get out here. I don’t like talking to feet.”
“Heard some rumors about. Like, as in a moot tonight?”
She grabbed one of his ankles and drug him out. “Ya owe me, Rusty.”
“Yeah, yeah. There’s a moot tonight. You’ll know where it is when it’s time for it.”
She sighed. “Fine, be that way. By the way, that kid… a Glass Walker.”
“Not surprised.”
“See you tonight.” She let him retreat to from whence he came, standing and leaving the alley, greeting a few more of the bums on her way out and scratching the head of a ‘mongrel’ dog as well. The Bone Gnawers were some of her nearest and dearest.
A cop car slowly rolled by, and she felt herself grin, it was the same cop that had broken up her concert earlier. Once he had gone down the street and turned the corner, she started following him.
Dunkin’ Donuts. Of course.
She slipped in behind his car, considering her options, then pulled a battered newspaper out of her backpack, rolled it up, and stuck in the tailpipe. Then she was gone, laughing to herself. Beautiful, beautiful fools.
Maybe someday they would learn.

Garou love their traditions.
Well, most of ‘em, anyway.
The opening howl filled the air, long drawn out cries, led by a rather large fellow in the center. Asia sat back on her haunches and joined, head thrown back, singing to Luna. All coyotes sing to Luna, it is expected that they honor her, for long ago, Coyote wronged her. Garou have other reasons to sing, but they’re more often then not just as important.
Her small form was rather dwarfed next to the bulk of the wolves, but that was ok, in the middle of a motley crew of Bone Gnawers, no one would notice her. She’d gotten away with it multiple times, she’d get away with it tonight.
Moots are hard to hold in the middle of the city. People tend to notice a huge group of wolves, even when they’d be hard-pressed to notice a few standing on the street corner (she’d seen this happen before), but Bone Gnawer Septs were fairly footloose occasions. Orkins is a slang term for them, and mostly what they are is a drunken party. But still, it was a moot, and she’d rather be at a Bone Gnawer one then at many others. Well, maybe a Glass Walker; she’d attempt to survive the board meeting so she could make the raves, but sometimes, the others just got too deep for her. Not to mention the practices of a few, such as Red Talons’ habit of going human hunting…
The howl came to a close, and she sat and kicked at an ear absently, tongue lolling out. The local Master of the Wyld for the Bone Gnawers came forward to start the Inner Sky, and she flopped down absently. The Master of the Wyld had very nearly forgotten that there was a moot planned, and had had to be sobered up right quick. Asia grinned at that.
Once the ritual had closed, the Cracking of the Bone commenced, and as usual the Bone Gnawers had little to talk about. Their area was a rather quiet one, though the Truthcatcher had to sort out many rumors about Pentex and local Black Spiral Sightings. Then the Moot continued on to the part that Asia waited for—the stories and songs.
By now, the group in part had moved to human forms, and she settled into her Tsitsu form, the equivalent of a Garou’s glabro form, pulling her saxophone from its case. Rusty appeared beside her, and they grinned at each other.
“I see some music has been made available.” Remarked the current packleader. “Are you new?” She looked at Asia.
“As far as you know.” Asia grinned, stepped forward, and began to swing. Rusty was quick to catch up, and the pair spun music around the tribe, actually inciting a few of the more drunk members to attempt to swing dance. After a while, stories were passed around, as were large bottles of liquor and bags of potato chips. Asia took the chance to stick her foot into the pathways of a few Bone Gnawers that had forgot their low heritage and were busily trying to emulate the Glass Walkers, laughing with everyone when they tripped and fell flat on their faces. The energy naturally built up, and the chosen Wyrm Foe, almost drunk off his feet, staggered forward with a laugh and led the pack on a wild chase around the area of the junkyard, then by mistake or impulse turned out of the junkyard and tore down the street.
The rest of the Bone Gnawers followed, almost all in lupus, bounding after the Wyrm Foe. He didn’t make it a block before collapsing with a drunken lupine giggle on the corner. The rest of the pack gathered around him, laughing, some returning to human form. Asia had trailed after the pack, taking part in the chase, still tripping the slower ones as she went.
“Methinksh we shoul’ be goin’ back, now…” Slurred one of pack members, waving a mostly empty bottle then holding it down so the Wyrm Foe could lift his head and lap at the amber stream.
“More’n’likely.” Said Asia, giving him a shoulder to lean on, then bending to pick up the drunken, still-in-lupus Wyrm Foe and carry him back. The drunken wolf giggled helplessly, kicking his feet in the air as he was carried.
The pack straggled back to the junkyard, most managing back, and the more sober ones leaving again to retrieve the ones that had given up partway. Asia returned her saxophone to her case and climbed into one of the old cars, flopping down across the battered back seat. The Wyrm Foe climbed in rather clumsily with her, legs threatening to go out the entire time, and only with her help managed to get up on the back seat next to her.

“Confirmed, sir.”
The binoculars focused closer as the bums and streetkids dispersed from the junkyard, the cameras still clicking.
“We found them. Got some IDs on some of them as well.”
“Garou.” Chortled the voice on the other end. “Lovely, quite lovely. We’ll start the operation tomorrow night. Anything else?”
“I don’t think so sir… except…”
“There’s one girl we don’t think is Garou.”
“Well, then, what is she, Sergeant?”
“We’re working on that right now sir.”

Asia mumbled to herself and lifted her head, then froze, nostrils flaring. Beside her, the former Wyrm Foe had regressed to his human form and had snuggled up, and she brushed him away gently, sitting up and looking around, then prodding the Bone Gnawer.
“Go’way I’m hung over.” Mumbled the former Wyrm Foe.
“Bane smell.” She replied bluntly.
He sat bolt upright, also sniffing the air, and they exchanged a glance, then slipped out of the car, taking slow looks around. To both of them, the sunlight was painfully bright thanks to their hangovers.
“During the day?” He glanced at her, rubbing his eyes then combing his hands through his mop of brownish hair.
“Weirder things have happened.” She sighed. “I’ll catch you later.” Then she was gone, picking up her stuff and striding away.
“I hope so.” He shrugged, then also started stumbling his way home.

Oh, look, the cop is in a different car.
Asia leaned back against the building, one leg drawn up the other stretched out, arms folded and fedora tugged down to hide her eyes. People passed by without noticing her, but the cop car rolled by slowly, then continued on their way. It was the security car that pulled up into the spot across from her, a guard getting out and approaching her.
“You do know you’re loitering, right?” He set his hands on his hips and looked down at her.
“Heh, ‘s not a concern of yours.” She replied. “The cops that passed by didn’t seem bothered none.” He hooked a thumb in the direction the cop car had gone.
“Look, street trash…”
“Watch what you call me.” She advised, head still down, hat tugged down. Today her dress was jean shorts, a tank top, and a leather vest. The vest mostly helped hide the bulge of the magnum tucked into the back of her jean shorts. Even as she talked to the guard, the barrel dug into her back, and she looked up at him and grinned, tipping her hat up a bit. “Besides, if it don’t matter to the owners of the building, what does it matter to you? You aren’t on their payroll.”
He grunted, returned to his car, and left. She took a second to memorize the number, then returned to her former position, puzzling over some things, playing with her Kokopelli pendant. After many long moments, she brushed aside her heavy thoughts and bounced to her feet, pulling out a recorder from her backpack, tossing the strap of the sax case over her shoulders, and dancing down the street, playing a cheerful tune. The people stared as she went by. Weird enough sight, but she was on the borders of Harlem…
“Ain’t ‘cho in the wrong part of the hood?” Asked a brother, tossing a basketball to his buddies over his shoulder.
“All the hoods are my part of the hood.” She replied, grinning brightly at him, sticking the recorder through her belt absently. “Unless you got a problem with that?”
He held up his hands. “Nah. I got no problem witcha.”
One of his buddies came over, tossing the ball up and down in one hand. “Who’s the ho?”
“You quite probably.” She replied straight-faced.
He blinked at her, then scowled, and started to say something.
She shook a finger in front of his nose. “I ain’t no ho. Call me chick or bitch, but I ain’t a ho. Now that that’s established, mind if I play a little ball witcha?”
“You play ball?”
“Just because white guys can’t jump doesn’t mean partly-white chicks can’t. I play.”
“Well, come on then.”
She dumped her stuff by the fence, sticking her gun in the bag as she put her recorder there, then taking off the vest and joining them, ponytailing her hair. They picked teams—her getting picked last, naturally—and started playing, her pendant beating on her chest.
Kokopelli was all in all a cool totem because all he asked was that she have fun.
Of course, fun can’t happen all the time.

Rusty sat up, blinking blearily, and stuck his muzzle out of the cardboard box, yawning wildly, then freezing. Wyrmsmell? Yes, and all over, all around him…
He slowly prowled out of the box, hackles up, growling. He stepped into the middle of the alley, and watched as fomori and Black Spirals crept out of the shadows, claws out and weapons drawn.
“Mother Gaia…”
He went into his Crinos form immediately, looking around at his enemies, snarling deep in his throat.
“You have got to be kidding…” One of the Black Spirals laughed, deep and horrible.
“Back off, bastards.” Rusty spat, and threw back his head and howled, pouring emotion into it, calling for the rest of his pack. It reflected off the battered brick walls of the alley and threw itself skyward, but no replies came.
“Aw, poor puppy, no rescue is coming…”
‘I am outmatched. Dear Gaia, my time has come…’
The fight began, dozens ganging up on one. Rusty knew his alley well, cornering off dumpsters, desperately trying for an upper hand, but there were too many, and they were moving too fast. As he got his jaws around the throat of a Spiral and crushed it, a huge spike impaled him from behind, lifting his feet from the ground as it came out of his chest. He screamed in pain, writhing in spite of common sense telling him to stay still, head back as he let pained howls fly. By the time the rest of the formori had dove onto his failing body, he had already promised his soul to Gaia, and fought desperately even as he died.

“Hey, Rusty man, where you been, dogg…” Asia called, stepping into the alley, and froze.
The alley had been absolutely trashed, dumpsters thrown, garbage everywhere, crates smashed. Dried blood was splattered up the walls. She stared in disbelief, slowly stepping forward, nose twitching as the pungent stench of Wyrm assaulted her nostrils.
There was nothing left of Rusty’s box, and his pack lay similarly demolished. She slowly brushed aside ruined clothing, and her hands came up with Rusty’s battered old trumpet. She hugged it to her chest, whimpering, head hung. Rusty, poor old Rusty.
She left quickly, still holding the trumpet to her chest, though after a few blocks she put it in her pack, hugging herself as she walked. Why Rusty, of all people? It was true that he was-or had been-Garou, but what could anyone possibly gain by his death?
She stopped, watching with narrowed eyes as one of the security cars slid by, the driver obviously eyeing her.
“Bastards.” She whispered, and turned at the next block, heading for the junkyard.

“This is bad.” The Bone Gnawer packleader said, crouching on her heels. “We’ve got to try to call a Concolation…”
“Really, will the other local tribes listen?” Asia asked, looking at the packleader.
“This affects everyone. We’ve got to try.”

Well, Coyote, looks like it’s time to play some selective pranks on Wyrm…
Asia crouched on her toes on the ledge, staring at the security office. There were fully a dozen of the security cars, and she could smell the stink of Wyrm even from across the street. For tonight’s operation, she had worn all black, and various tools had been put into a hip pack. Her magnum was tucked back into her belt, and she watched with narrowed eyes as yet another security car pulled into the parking lot.
She had gone to some friends to try to get help with this one, and finally had found who she needed. Really, Bastet weren’t common, but she had been good friends with some Pumonca, and this young Bagheera fellow had always been nice to her. Not only that, he was a master of stealth and not a bad thief either… She watched as he slipped across the street, scaled the wall expertly, and with a few clips and snips, the building lost their security cameras. Snip. There went their satellite cable. Clip, clip, bye bye phone and power. Then the Bagheera was gone, his part done, along with most of the money she had ever had.
The guard station went nuts of course, and she slipped down the fire escape, shifted into her latrani form and quickly padded across the road, hidden in the shadows. Since the cameras were dead, they didn’t notice her skinny canine form wiggle under the security cars. Only then did she revert to her human form, laying on her back and pulling tools.
Sabotaging brakes is easy enough, but she grinned, because it just wasn’t enough. Bastards helped do in Rusty, bastards would learn not to touch her friends, by Coyote! Stuffed tailpipes, cut brakes, sugar in the gas tanks, cutting power steering belts. The building was too confused to notice, and by the time the power flicked back, she was down the road, arms crossed and head thrown back with quiet laughter.
It wasn’t really a great prank, but by god, it would cause a world of trouble for the bastards.

“Looks like the Concolation is going to go through.” The Bone Gnawer passed the bottle.
“When?” Asia accepted and belted back some of the cheap whiskey, then passed the bottle to the former Wyrm Foe, a young guy named Joel. He accepted and took several long gulps.
“Next Saturday. It’ll be a full moon, too, so hopefully we’ll get some information across. Of course, getting them to listen to us…” The Packleader, Andrea, shook her head.
“Aw, I have a friend who’s a Glass Walker, I’ll see if I can finagle some respect.”
“You do that.” Andrea gave Asia a funny look. “’Cho ain’t even Garou, are you?”
“Child of Coyote, ma’am.” Asia tipped her fedora.
“Eh, oh well, you’re handy enough.”
“I’m flattered.” Asia laughed and staggered to her feet. “Catch you later.”

Impromptu concerts just weren’t the same without Rusty.
They just didn’t swing.
Asia sat on the fountain, following the path of Kenny G, coaxing soulful music out of her saxophone, fedora pulled down over her eyes and case open in front of her. Her parodies of more happy, popular music always drew more money, but she just couldn’t be upbeat today.
“Bad times?”
She looked up. As hoped, Andy had arrived. “Yeah. Bad times.” She replied in a husky voice.
“What happened to your buddies?” He asked, holding the oboe but not playing.
“Tell you elsewhere. Come on. Could you spring for coffee?”

“I heard about the Concolation, but Gaia help us.” Andy said later after listening to Asia’s story. “Mauled by the Wyrm?”
“Looked like it. Stench was everywhere. So was he.” Asia swallowed. Andy was driving; she had huddled in the back seat, hugging herself. Instead of coffee, they were retreating to where Andy lived so they could talk without people listening. “Pisses me off, just pisses me off. What the hell could they gain by killing Rusty? And how’d they know he was Garou?”
“Beats me.” Andy shook his head. “Any action been taken yet?”
“Far as I know, the only action that’s been taken has been the action I took.” She replied.
“What’d you do?”
“Sabotaged all the security cars for that company in all the ways I could think of.”
“Good for you.” He smiled at her in the rear view mirror.
“I like to think Coyote liked the prank.” She shrugged. “It wasn’t a good one though.”
“And what would be a good one?”
“Eh, varies with the moment.”
After a moment he turned up the radio, busily negotiating traffic. Lady Marmalade, the Moulin Rouge version. She sat up, listening, and began to sing along when it reached Christina’s part, belting it out. Andy rose an eyebrow at her in the rear view mirror, she rose an eyebrow back, practically outsinging the radio.
“Where’d you learn?”
“Partly inborn talent, partly my totem. I follow Kokopelli, so…”
He pulled into a parking building, found his spot, and led her on the few-minutes walk to a rather nice apartment, tenth floor.
“Bitchin’ view.” She remarked, looking out one of the windows. “How much this little setup cost?”
“My parents pay, but I’m sure it’s a lot.” He laughed. “Need something to drink?”
“Shower?” She hopefully replied.
He hooked a thumb toward the hall. “First door on the right. Go for it. I can sorta cook, you hungry?”
“Always. I’ll eat anything. Knock yourself out.” She gave him a full-watt grin and made a beeline for the bathroom, closing the door and staring around. “Heh, better be careful not to drown myself…”
Forty- five minutes later she was sitting at the kitchen table, trading miscellaneous information with Andy as she dug into a helping of spaghetti.
“Local guy in charge of the Glass Walkers will probably agree, he’s been looking for an excuse to beat down on Pentex for a while. Oh, and I don’t think they’re invested in StarBucks.” This was added with a grin.
“Yay, my mocha lattes won’t give me indigestion and a horrible affliction which makes me grow horns and barbs…” She twirled a finger in the air. “So how is that security company related to the Wyrm?”
“Partly owned by Pentex, and the rest of the owners are Sons of Typhon.” Replied Andy, looking at the website on his laptop.
“Ouch and bigger ouch.”
“Heh. True. Not much we can do…”
“I’ll trick and prank them into an early grave…” She wove a hand.
“Just don’t get killed doing it.”
“Worst comes to worst, I’ll rename myself Xochipilli Sings-At-Stars.”
“Explain.” He set his elbow on the table and cradled his chin on his hand, looking at her.
“It’s kind of like a Garou camp. Kind of. The name in front of my name is a warning to other Nuwisha. As a follower of Kokopelli, I am a trickster, but I am also a bringer of music, celebration, and happiness. Kokopelli merely asks that I have fun, and really that I bring fun to others.”
“And Xochipilli?”
“Xochipilli plays in the game of chance. His children take bizarre risks and live. Dancing in front of a minion of Wyrm while insulting his mother is a bizarre risk.”
“No kidding.” He sipped at his cup of coffee. “That the sort of thing a Xochipilli follower does?”
“One guy climbed on a plane full of the minions of the Wyrm, and while the plane was in flight tossed pillows and bones into the engines. When the pilot tried to glide the plane down, he ripped off the steering things on the wings and tail. The plane rolled three times and exploded. No survivors, excepting that one Nuwisha. He’s missing an arm thanks to it, but he laughs.” She shook her head.
“Yeah, don’t you Garou have it easy?” She grinned.
“Hey, now…”
She laughed and kicked back. “I’m kidding I’m kidding. Gee, you only beat down the rest of the tribes and killed a few off, that’s a busy last few wars…”
“That isn’t needed…”
“I’m kidding I’m kidding. Sheesh.”
“Didn’t sound like it to me.”
“You guys need to learn and we are the teachers. As the saying goes, we have much work to do.” She smiled as she took a sip of her coffee.
He blinked at her, then shook his head. “And I thought Garou were weird, you guys have us beat.”
“At least we can look back and laugh.”
“Most of my friends think that’s all you do.”
“Heh. Obviously they don’t know us too good.”
“Neither did I until very recently.” He pointed out.
“As said, we’re teachers, and you’re already learning.” She smiled.
He shook his head in amazement, then turned his attention to the computer as it yelled ‘you got mail!’
“Anything interesting?”
“One of my fellow Glass Walkers, higher rank then me though. Making sure I know about the Concolation.” His fingers flew across the keyboard. “Mind if I tell him about you?”
“Go right ahead.”
Long pause, then with a final click, the e-mail was sent.
“You’re on wireless, eh?”
“Uh-huh. Internet service called Luna’s Light. Relatively small, really, but the woman who runs it gives discounts to Garou and such. Cheap as dirt if you’re a Garou and a student, and fast as freaking hell.”
“She a Garou?”
“Not sure. Few of my friends think so, but she doesn’t show up at moots, so we’ve all made bets on different races. I think she’s a stuck-up Black Fury, personally, or maybe kinfolk.” He stood and went to the kitchen, returning with the coffee pot and refilling her mug. “So what are you going to do until the Concolation?”
“Continue as usual, just prank the Wyrm more.”
“You do that.”
She grinned. “You know I will.”

“They trashed the junkyard?”
“Yep.” Joel said, looking jumpy. “Almost everyone got out, but we did loose a few in the blasts… Sweet Gaia, how did they know…?”
Asia considered, then smacked herself. “The moot. They saw the moot.”
“Oh, Gaia…” He looked horrified. “Then they know us all. They know what we are and who we are…”
“Don’t panic yet. The Concolation is in a few days. Tell everyone to lay low.” She stood and shouldered her backpack.
“What are you going to do?”
She set her jaw. “Raise some hell.”

The locks opened smoothly, no alarms going off. Good. Asia slipped into the warehouse and looked around, reaching up as her friend relayed the jugs of gas in to her, then slipped in with her. Her partner this round was Black Fury, a tough teen looking to make a name for herself. In the deal making, they decided blowing up some Wyrm-controlled buildings would be just the way to do it.
“What’s being kept here?” The Black Fury, Tanya, asked quietly.
“Hardcopies mostly.” Asia picked up the gas can. “Let’s haul ass. We have a five-minute window on the security and that’s it.”
“Who IS this friend of yours?”
“Glass Walker. Good guy.”
“Of course, a guy…”
“A woman runs his internet service, so don’t complain.”
Four and a half minutes later they were slipping out the door, and were out of the hole in the fence before the small incendiary charge went up.
“Wish I had some marshmallows.” Asia laughed, looking at the burning building from down the block.
“Let’s just get the hell out of here…”
Spots hit them, and they shielded their eyes, looking up at the huge black helicopter.
“This is the police! Put your hands on the back of your head and do not move!”
Tanya and Asia looked at each other.
“Hell yeah.”
They took off down the road, changing to their animal forms and scrambling down alleys, the chopper unable to keep up. Sirens pierced the air, and a cop car cut them off. They skittered to a halt and doubled back, tearing ass down a side tunnel, panting.
“Can we use the umbra?” Panted Tanya as they hid in a crate, listening to the sirens and choppers.
Asia’s nose twitched. She knew that smell. “No. Run like hell.”
They ran again, claws scrabbling on the cement, running into the main roads. Asia moved to her human form, yanking the cell phone out of her pocket and pressing a speed dial button with one finger.
“What are you doing?” Tanya yelled as they ran through traffic. Cars braked and swerved around them, causing fender benders right and left.
“Causing an accident!” She shouted in reply, leaping a car hood. “Andy, buddy! Help me out here…”
Thirty seconds later, all the lights on the corner they were running up to turned green, and all the cars went. Thump, tinkle, crash, instant huge accident, cutting off the cops.
“Race you bastards and win!” Asia yelled at the cops, leaping over one of the cars. A block later, Tanya’s pack arrived and she left with them. Asia refused to go; saying she was better off alone. They shrugged and disappeared into the night.
Her phone rang, and she slowed to a walk, picking up. “Yo.”
“Mission accomplished?” Andy was laughing. “Close call, girly.”
“Yup. Left some delightful chaos too… Thank you for offering to help.”
“Least I could do. How’d you know to do that?”
“Saw the movie Hackers.”
He laughed. “Where you headed?”
“Not sure. Going to destroy the phone though. Cell phones are just too risky nowadays…”
“Right. Catch you at the Concolation.”

“Formalities and bureaucracy. What’s actually going to get done?” Asia complained to Andy.
“Hell if I know.” Andy was sitting cross-legged playing gameboy color. Asia pulled out her original gameboy and plugged into his. “How many are here?”
“Thousands. Freaking thousands.” He sighed. “Bunch of elders. Word from this goes around the world. Might even be formal moves against Pentex after this…”
“Hope so.”
The whole thing lasted hours, and in the end, the decision was made. The Garou world would have to take a more aggressive stance against Pentex and the subsidiaries, before the Garou nation was run over completely.

“This means what?”
“Best defense is an aggressive one.” Andy passed the coffee.
“Eh what did we expect anyway. So what’s your move?”
She sank into the chair. “I’ll tell you when I know.”
“You do that girl. Don’t get killed.”
“I’ll try not to.”

“So what’s going to be done?” Andrea asked blearily.
“Damned if I know. Might be nothing. Some of the foreign fellows were sniffing over the fact that a Concolation was called over one mauled Bone Gnawer…” Asia sighed and shook her head. “But the fact that Pentex was involved, as far as evidence shows, was important.”
“So what’s gong to be done?” Repeated Andrea, looking down at the square bottle she held and taking a drink.
“I don’t know… they might not do anything.”
“Nothing? Rusty gets ripped apart by a couple dozen Spirals and Fomori and they do NOTHING?” Andrea practically shouted. “Bomb out the junk yard, killing more of my fellow Bone Gnawers, and they do NOTHING?”
“I don’t know ok? They haven’t done anything yet…” Asia said, soothing her friend.
“I wish we could do something.” The Garou went limp, leaning into Asia as the Nuwisha wrapped an arm around her, starting to cry.
“Who knows, maybe we can.”
“You’re first rank, Asia. I’m not even third.”
Andrea sat back and looked at Asia. “We aren’t powerful.”
“So we’ll get some friends to help.” Asia slowly smiled, the idea forming in her mind. “Andrea, you put the word out on the streets, you tell them that we’re looking for low-level Garou, teens to twenties preferably, looking to strike against Pentex, the Wyrm, and all associated.”
“And what are you going to do?”
Asia stood. “I’m going to get back to my buddy Andy. He can reach the higher circles.”
“You’re nuts, girlfriend.” Andrea shook the half-empty bottle at her.
“Yeah, and that’s exactly why it’s going to work.”

“You are insane.”
“Yes I am. And so are all of you for showing up.” Asia threw her arms wide and gave those gathered in front of her a wide grin. Andy’s parents had taken off for the weekend, supposedly on ‘business,’ so she had taken over the apartment for the meeting.
And boy, what a meeting. Three Black Furies, five Bone Gnawers, two other Glass Walkers, a Silent Strider (how HE had ended up in New York, she had no idea), and a Fianna. Fourteen including herself an Andy.
“Interesting message you sent around. Now explain it.” Suggested one of the Furies.
“Very simple. We’ve all heard about the Concolation, correct? In fact I’m willing to bet that almost all of us were there. Our kin are being slaughtered…”
“OUR kin?” The Strider blinked once at her; they already knew she was a Nuwisha.
“By ‘our kin’ I mean any child of Gaia. In any effect, we are being killed off ladies and gents, and what’s being done about it eh? Not much, right? Even after the whole Concolation, has any action been taken?”
“None yet, but the Concolation was only five days ago…” Said the other Glass Walker.
“And that’s already too long.” Snapped a Bone Gnawer. “They killed my pack members…!”
“Enough. Now, listen, what I want to do is gather a group to start striking directly at Pentex and the Wyrm. I know we’re all low level. That’s the point. The greatest heroes haven’t gotten involved yet, so maybe it’s time for some young guns.”
They all looked at her, disbelieving.
“You’re asking all of us to work together?” One of the Furies finally asked, looking at all the guys.
“You’re all Garou, for Gaia’s sake.” Asia set her hands on her hips. “All of you. And if this goes well, I’ll be enlisting others as well.”
“Bastet, Ratkin, Corax, et cetera.” She shrugged and grinned. “All of us have a stake in this.”
Long, long silence.
“So what’s the first move?”
Asia grinned. “So you’re all in?”
Slow nods all around.
“Then let’s get to it.”

“Adkins Security Company?”
“Owned by Pentex and Sons of Typhon.” Said Andy, passing out mugs of coffee. “Asia already made a move against them. I think we should smash them out…”
“How do you plan on doing that?”
“That’s up for all of us to decide. If we can take them, I say we start to drag Pentex, kicking and screaming, into the light.”
“Expose them? You’re as certifiable as she is.” One of the Bone Gnawers, Scrap, replied, nodding toward Asia.
“It’s gotta be done. We get some truth out there, the public will kill them off for us, and that won’t get us arrested.”
“Most of the things that Pentex does no sane human would believe.” Replied Justin, the Silent Strider.
“True. I say we hit Adkins first then harp about Pentex.” Asia said, leaning on the table.
“Got a plan, girlfriend?” Andrea asked, accepting a mug of coffee.
“Not yet. We need better layouts of the building if we want to pull off a raid, and I already did the cars once. They’ll have better security now…” She sighed and shook her head. “Any ideas?”
“What if I could get blueprints of the building?” Asked the other Glass Walker, Robert.
“You do that, dude. In the mean time, we need some supplies. Guns and explosives. Stuff like that.”
“Got you covered. I know a kinfolk that runs a gunshop.” Scrap grinned.
“Firearms. Anyone know anything about explosives?”
“I’m a pyro.” Offered Michelle, one of the Black Furies.
“Better then nothing. Robert, you get on the horn about the blueprints. Scrap, you and your buddies get us some guns and a bunch of ammo. Michelle, you and the girls see about getting your hands on some stuff to blow up.” She turned to Justin and Andy. “I do believe you two have more specific jobs…”

“Have you considered the irony of this, a Nuwisha leading a group of Garou?” Justin asked, crouching on the building corner with binoculars.
“Don’t see why not, we ARE teachers after all.” Asia replied, then pressed a number on her cell phone. “What do you have, Andy?”
“All right, I’ve got the guard schedule for the next week… then it’ll change again. You’re right, security on the cars has taken a hitch upward.” Andy replied. “Think outer security will be any issue?”
“My Bagheera friend may be willing to help again.”
“Where do you get these friends of yours anyway?”
“Favors, contacts. What, have you no faith in my charming personality?”
Andy laughed and hung up.
“So we are to cut off this head of the hydra, hmm?” Asked Justin, lowering the binoculars.
“That’s the plan. Any ideas as to strategy?”
“That alleyway and the loading door would be a probable entrance.” He replied. “But we have no idea of what security is on the inside…”
“That’s why the blueprints are busily being stolen.” She stood. “Let’s go. I’ve seen enough and I’m sick of smelling Wyrm.”

“Now, this is cool.”
Asia had to laugh. One of the Furies, a chick named Sandy, was holding what had to be an army-issue gun. “That thing looks like it could snipe a Martian and write on the moon.”
“Hell yeah.” Sandy grinned and flipped the laser sight on, pointing it between Justin’s eyes.
“Very funny.” He said somewhat sourly, rubbing the spot absently.
Asia opened the window, and her Bagheera friend came in, looking at the assembled Garou.
“Evening.” Remarked the Bagheera. “Lookie what I brought.” He set down a heavy looking backpack, then heaved a duffelbag in off the ledge. Opening these things revealed an odd assortment of electronic gear.
“Wow.” Andy crouched, looking at the stuff.
“You brought stuff to feed the technoweenies’ addiction, eh?” Asia grinned at the Bagheera.
“But of course. On loan from Ring of Shadows, the proprietor of Luna’s Light Internet.” He grinned. “I’m TechGhost.”
He shook hands with the assorted Garou, eyeing the armory that had recently arrived. “My, we are prepared…”
“It all goes down tonight.” Asia shook her head. “We have to be prepared.”
“What’s the plan?”
The blueprints were brought out, computers turned on. The entire group was dressed in black or dark urban camouflage. They had been working on the plan for the last few days, drawing on all the sources they knew.
“This is going to be amusing.” Asia remarked with a smile.
“Is everything amusing to you?” Asked one of the Black Furies, Rachel.
“Well yes, in one way or the other.” She smiled at everyone. “Well, are we ready to go bravely into the night and die for Goddess and Country?”
“Your sense of humor needs work.” Observed Scrap.

“They’re ready for something, all right.” TechGhost said, crouched on his toes in his sokto form, slightly-feline eyes darting over the place. “It’s going to be harder to cut them off.”
“That’s why we’re doing it from a distance.” Asia messed with the headset she wore. “Question. Who is this ‘Ring of Shadows’ chick and where does she get her cool toys?”
“I can’t tell you that’s cheating.” He grinned at her.
“Right.” She pressed a button on the headset and hoped it was the right one. “You ready up there Sandy?”
“Gotcha way covered chick.” Came the reply.
“Smoke it.”
The small glowing form shot from the roof with a minor crack, and landed right next to the satellite on the roof of Adkins. The resulting explosion blew a hole in the roof and took out the satellite. The next shots were bullets, severing power lines and the phone line.
“My mom was a survivalist.” Sandy remarked smugly. “Hopping into the umbra.”
“Catch you in a few.” Asia grinned as the building went dark, then emergency lighting came on, then pressed the ‘talk to all’ button on the headset. “Let’s do this thing.”
Several dark forms came from all directions around the building, converging around the door. Some putty-like beige stuff around the edges of the door, a small detonator, and Michelle had gleefully blown the loading door off its supports. Sandy rejoined them, and the young guns entered the security building.
The few security guards there gawked, then opened fire, pulling their handguns. Andy and Robert opened fire, wide automatic sprays, and the guards went down. By then, several of the Garou were in Crinos, and the rest in glabro/sokto/tsitsu, clan depending.
“Let’s move people.” Asia said over the radio, walking forward.
“This whole place stinks of Wyrm.” Complained Rachael.
“I know. We clean the building out and we burn it to the ground. Kind of leave a calling card for Pentex, eh?”
“You got it, chicka.” Said Scrap. “Let’s split up.”
The group divided, and Asia loped down the hall, gun up, taking cover around a corner as rounds buzzed past her ears. She chose a random moment and popped out from undercover, returning fire. Two of the five guards went down, the other three grinned at her… and suddenly were no longer human.
“Oh, Gaia…” Asia heard herself blurt, backing up as fast as she could. The three fomori laughed and charged, and she shifted up to her manabozho form, her equivalent of Crinos, and met them with guns blazing. Tainted blood flew, slowing two, and the third plowed into her. She snapped downward, jaws grabbing and crushing the fomori-guard’s shoulder. He screamed unnaturally, and so did she as the blood burned. Spitting and backing up, she slashed the wounded fomori-guard open from belt to neck in a single pass and ran, knowing that she’d have a better chance if she teamed up with a few others of her group.
She found the majority of them pinned down in a hallway, several bleeding, still returning gunfire. She only had to glance to see the bulk of several Black Spiral Dancers at the other end of the hallway, waiting. All right, Wyrmy boy, she thought. Enough is enough.
Coyote grant me the luck for this move.
She reloaded the mini-uzis she was carrying, set her jaw, and very calmly walked down the center of the hallway. Gunfire both ways stopped for a few unnerving moments, and then she began to sing.
The Song of Kokopelli, meant of course to soothe the savage beast and prevent an enemy from frenzying. And it was working. The enemy were staring at her with blank, angry, uncomprehending eyes. Beside and behind her, though, her friends picked themselves up and joined her, reloading guns and readying themselves.
She stopped singing, grinned, and opened fire with both guns.
The spirals rushed.
Then the fomori-possessed guards did.
In the close-quarters of the hallway, the battle seemed even louder, even more bloody. There were a lot of screams, on both sides. Asia, who personally as a breed was not a fighter, cornered off walls and tried for every advantage she could. The battle was quite nearly a free-for-all as the Wyrm possessed guards and Black Spirals seemed to fight for the ‘honor’ of killing a Gaian Garou.
Asia barely heard Andy shriek her name, glancing toward him. He was curled up against the floor and wall, having recessed to his human form. His skin was smoking, being eaten away by acid. The fomor that had done the damage stood over him, grinning, a trickle of the acid dripping from the corner of its mouth.
Her first impulse was to fire on the fomor, but no, that would only further splatter Andy. So she charged, leaping over her friends and enemies, plowing into the fomor, teeth and claws going to work. The fomor attempted to spit a stream of the acid at her, but she ducked, and the acid hit one of the other fomori. The next move ripped the throat of the fomor out, and she dumped the body, crouching next to Andy. “Not a very fun trick that one had up his sleeve.” She sniffed.
“Heh… yeah… ouch…” He moaned, clothes and skin mangled. “Behind you!”
She lifted the gun without looking and emptied the rest of the clip into the charging Black Spiral, which staggered, letting one of her Bone Gnawer friends tackle it and rip in. “Let’s move it people, we don’t want casualties.” She remarked over the radio. “And we have enough wounded.”
The group shoved on, cleaning up the rest of the fomori they fought. The Black Spirals for the most part turned tail, apparently fleeing for backup. After they were gone, the group’s work progressed much easier, and twenty minutes later they were running away from the building, listening to approaching sirens and then the artificial thunder of the security building going up in flame, then collapsing, taking the entire parking lot with it.
“Cops were a little slow tonight.” Justin remarked quietly as they stumbled into Andy’s apartment. His parents only blinked and brought out the bandages.
“Yeah I arranged that yesterday.” Andy said in wolf, having swapped forms to better heal. As everyone watched, he moved to Crinos, and the wounds closed up even more.
“You ARRANGED to slow down the cops?” Asia grinned, then whimpered as the acid burns on her hands reminded her they were there.
“I contacted our friend Ring of Shadows and Luna’s Light. Asked her if she could arrange it. Don’t ask me how she did it though.”
“Ok, I won’t.”
“So what do we tell our elders when they start asking about this?” Asked Michelle, playing with a lighter.
“Oh we’ll tell them some young guns got tired of waiting.” Asia smiled tiredly.
“That’s our group name then.” Said Robert. “Young Guns.”
“Sounds more like a horrible western movie.” Grunted TechGhost. “But, hell, I don’t have any protests.”
“What do you think, guys? Young Guns?” Robert held his hand out.
One by one the others stood and put their hands in, one on top of the other.
“Boy what a mangy pack we are.” Rachael laughed.
“The better to confuse the Wyrm with, my dear.” Asia grinned.