Henry and Joel now find themselves in the Shadow. The way the room has changed from a clinical closet for the dead, to a festering humid fly filled hell-hole of a “morgue” is a dead giveaway. The insects buzz and bite and the smell… well, it’s a bit much. The gearhead and the knocker are confused about why there was a sudden shift, but for them, it’s just another day on the job. They head out and Joel hears a voice crying out.
“Hear that?”, he asks?
“What?”, Henry responds.
The voice cries out again.
“Shut up!”, Joel yells at it.
Joel and Henry follow their ears to find… a boy stuck to a lamp post. After some suspicion and questioning, the boys decide this kid isn’t a spirit trying to trick them and they work on cutting him free.
Meanwhile, back in the land of the mortal, the platinum blond doctor, commonly referred to as Alice, has been following our boys’ locations from her native plane of existence. She hears them through the barrier between concept and reality. She doesn’t know why, but she follows it. Passing co-workers and a few doors that for some odd reason, her mind just wont let her go through.
Back with the males, having cut the new kid down, he says he thinks he can lead the boys out of the shadow. The boys are extremely skeptical and are pretty certain from the way the kid is speaking, that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. They need to keep an eye on him. They can smell the wolf on him. The boys decide the straits are dire enough to risk aneurysm and call on their somewhat existent friend.
“Null, how do we get out of here?”, they ask.
Null carves some words out of their psyches for them to notice the distinct absence of along the lines of “The morgue you came from is a locus, but there are some violent spirits about. Watch your back.”
The group checks their ears and noses for blood and decide before heading back to stock up on a few things at the shadow’s version of the general store. The kid, who had been naked the whole time, finds some overalls, the boys find some dust masks and some delicious coca-colas while they peruse this 1950s styled general store. It’s different than the new kid, Jacob Nice remembers, but this isn’t surprising to bullshit veterans Henry and Joel. They head back to the morgue only to find the loci is closed for business. They can’t feel it at all.
Our Doctor back in the material plane is still following the boys around when she encounters “Betsy Ruth” of the Ruth clan. All she knows about them is that the Ruth clan scares everybody, even the few powerful families who actually have guns in the city are scared of them.
Betsy asks about being let into the morgue and our doctor offers to go let them in personally. When Betsy puts her own padlock on the door to the morgue, trapping Ms. Tumbolt inside of it with her, is when the fan starts to smell like the shit hit it. A lot of shit.
Betsy begins menacing Alice, and threatening the people she’s acquainted with on the other side, while exposing her true arachnid nature. She’s some kind of Azlu werespider. She slips across the gauntlet into the shadow where our boys are. They are spared the inconvenience of a surprise attack when Alice informs them of danger from across the veil. Henry and Joel aren’t taking any shit today. Joel goes Urshul with Henry in tow and Jacob freaks the hell out. The squabble does not go at all well for the spider-bitch, who quickly retreats for two reasons.
1. She’s getting her ass handed to her.
2. Alice has managed to catch a glimpse of the web Betsy closed off the loci with (which is no easy task) and has begun cutting it.
Henry finds some webs to cut of his own. The barrier the Azlu put up begins to weaken when our boyee Jacob starts keeping it real, and manages to, still in human form, tackle Betsy Ruth through the gauntlet. He has a hard time holding on, but webs are cut and the grappled Azlu is stabbed with a scalpel by the doc, before Henry and Joel viciously finish the job, Joel taunting her in the first tongue all the way through. Joel feasts on the spider-corpse. It tastes like shrimp, though her skin suit isn’t so appetizing.
Once everything calms down, except for Jacob, they clean up the evidence and themselves. Henry and Joel decide explaining can be done at the doc’s house. Doc gets some clothes for the once again naked Jacob (passing between the shadow and the mortal realm is a bitch when your clothes aren’t committed) and they head to doc’s house.
After making attempts to explain the infinite stream of werewolf bullshit that will be hitting them for the rest of their lives. Jacob doesn’t believe it. He flat refuses to be a werewolf, despite the fact he already is. The doctor is surprisingly calm about the whole thing, and surprisingly willing to believe it. Maybe she just thinks she’s dreaming though and is saving her confused flipping out ‘till later. Either way, they won’t be letting Jacob go, and Joel’s self-mutilating demonstration of werewolf healing didn’t leave an impression of sanity, but did prove to Jacob and Alice that Henry and Joel were something more than human.
It was now time to find Ben. The boys track his scent, by car, leaving town. Which is weird since Jacob and Alice have never known of anyone successfully leaving town or that the road out actually connected to anything. Henry and Joel have been swearing up and down that they drove into town using a road all night to little avail with the new kids. Apparently sometimes parts of people who left town show up in public places. Wayward is a town you don’t commute to, or from. Of course some things in town are strange, like how the supermarket is always stocked. Jacob keeps asking dumb questions about the outside world like “Do you know flava’ flav”, and “Ever been to the Jersey shore?”.
They aren’t prepared enough to track Ben into the potentially hostile territory Jacob and Alice are implying represents the outside of town. They head back to a hardware store for a sledge, a hunting store for a composite bow, and to Jacob’s house for his own bow.
They pass the toll guy who has made it his job to drink heavily in his cushy gig where no-one comes or goes. The boys ask him if he’s seen Ben, and sure enough he has. He wishes the boys a painless death as they pass. Doc Blonde is driving. Why wouldn’t she be, it is her car after all. It’s dark. The tires go. They’ve hit a spike strip. Doc blond loses control. They crash into a tree, but make it out of the vehicle to abandon it as they continue their rescue mission (but not before Joel points out the spike strip with another hearty “Well, here’s your problem!”). At this point, they know it’s a bad idea, but Ben is out there, and they need to find him.
They spot some evidence. Tracks. Fishtailing. Ben apparently did a better job keeping it together, but it also looks like he managed to lose only two of his tires. Jacob slinks into the shadows without anyone being aware that he’s still with them. They track Ben’s path over a hill and in a small valley find his truck…
What’s left of it anyway. These things had more bullet holes in them than your skin has pores. They find a flashlight and Henry’s sledgehammer (which was the smell they’d been using to track Ben.) They find some of Ben’s blood and learn it’s scent. They track that to a little valley surrounded by trees and find another vehicle. This one riddled with bullets Bonnie and Clyde style.
Joel notes this and the terrible position they’d be in if they were fired upon. It doesn’t take long to find this is the Asian themed custom civic Joel gave to Ben’s girl that she subsequently tried to leave town in. They hear rustling. They notice Jacob still with them, but Henry and Joel don’t regret berating him at all while he had supposedly ditched.
The doctor is shot in the chest several times. Joel is also perforated. Henry takes one headshot without falling thanks to his bullet stopping fetish, but falls from further gunfire. Jacob manages to head shot an assailant in a tree before being slaughtered.
Lucky these dudes are werewolves, eh guys?
We rejoin our heroes at a table, nicely dressed. They wonder if they’re dead. They chatter a bit before being called to silence by an unknown but very authoritative voice.
Joel, having serious issues with authority, does not shut up, on principle. There’s some berating and more chatter before this Storm Lord looking man serves some food and reiterates his command of silence.
After letting Joel say his irrelevant peace, he informs our protagonists that instead of healing normally from their grievous wounds, they’ve been detoured briefly in the afterlife. But no worry, you’ll be back in your bodies soon enough. He tells them that he has brought them to give them a task. An elder werewolf is in their area, and they should find him and rescue him. Storm Lord guy apparently can not remain in the ethereal much longer, and the interlude ends. Joel predicts to his new compatriots that they’re going to wake up in blinding pain from all the bullet wounds and other injuries. Joel is spot-on with his prediction.
Everyone wakes up in blinding pain, except Doc Blonde, who continues the trend of being constantly separated from her new male companions. She is at the bottom of a very deep well, inside what can only be described as a holding area. Dark smoke is billowing into the hole from outside, and she can hear gunshots. While attempting to climb the wet walls of her confinement with nothing but her broken fingers, she fails a stamina check and falls back to the cement floor with a loud bang. From outside, she hears a voice calling for civilians, and is introduced to a ruggedly handsome military type who rescues her after tearing a gorilla-sized adversary into pieces with gunfire and grit. Clearly a werewolf himself, he identifies himself as Lieutenant Jameson.
Meanwhile the boys are strapped upright in small standing cages next to each other, frothing at the mouth with pain. Ben is there with them. Stripped and having had pieces removed from him, though those pieces have regenerated. After brief introductions in which Ben sincerely hopes that the amazing wigger, Jacob Nice, is not counted among the ranks of the forsaken (but of course those hopes, like all the hope in the lives of Joel and Henry are crushed swiftly) Joel and Henry go full wolf to slip out of their restraints, but they’re still trapped in these tiny-ass damn cages once they do.
Joel knows what must be done and makes a very painful decision. He shifts into full Gauru form to bust the cage open. The cage digging into his skin as he grows. He’s only in pain until the change is over since that form doesn’t register pain. Having freed himself, he frees everyone else, Ben being freed last.
Joel chooses this point to take his vengeance out on Ben for putting everyone in that situation, using his full Gauru form to slam Ben face first into a mirror and grind said face in a circle before throwing Ben over more than a few operating tables. Ben breaks his leg tumbling over the last one. Ben joins the ranks of the unconscious. Joel follows him into those ranks by his own hand with a nearby meat tenderizer to sidestep the pain he’ll be in once his change wears off.
Henry makes sure to give Joel’s unconscious form a good punch in the face for his outburst, though Joel will probably never know about this punch. The two conscious boys find a silver scalpel. Henry asks the denial king to pick it up. It burns him. Henry cuts him with the thing to try and prove he’s a werewolf, but knocks him out doing so, leaving Henry as the only person who hasn’t passed out.
He sets Ben’s leg.
Meanwhile, Alice attempts to escape the unknown facility under the frantic guidance of her new friend the Lieutenant. They make it as far as the communications room without encountering anymore of the simian monstrosities still roaming the halls, but once inside they immediately have to set up a barricade to keep themselves safe. Captain suicide empties whats left of his rifle ammo into one such attacker trying to break through the door, which leaves the duo with half a door and a whole lot of blood between them and anymore of the unknown assailants out for their blood. With no other recourse, the Lieutenant attempts to hail Alice’s friends via intercom.
Folks regain consciousness and Joel manages to find some codine to dope up on for the pain. Ben gets some too. The entire facility is a bombed-out wreck of gray ash and structurally questionable supports, but the intercom system apparently still works in places. They here an unknown voice over the static telling them to find the comms station where Alice is being kept. They follow a red line meant for navigating this strange complex and start making their way to the communications office.