Rachel shows up at the apartment with bagels, donuts, coffee, and tea. She is all sweet and pleasant with Hack and Lucas who come down and talk with her. She is not here to negotiate on her behalf, but instead to act as a go-between for Summer. When Lucas begrudgingly allows the inclusion of Summer as well a Dryad, calling herself S’harra, steps out of a tree along the road. Lucas does stand firm that she is only allowed to just watch even after she double-promises to behave.
In addition before Camille arrives, Mr. Jacobs arrives and is prepared to make an offer as well as he has found a suitable location that can be acquired quickly. Nearly two hours into the negotiations three police cars and a SWAT van show up at the housing complex. Several men in riot gear block off the road, while two SWAT men rush towards the door with a ram.
Bryan, who was not inside, identifies himself to the captain and informs him that he is interfering in a federal manner. He says the house is a safe house with a federally protected witness. The raid captain says that he already cleared the operation with Homeland Security and threatens to have Bryan arrested.
Inside, Lucas is warding the door to his complex stopping the ram from breaking through. Two other men are climbing up the fire ladder in the back of the apartment. Trapped, Mr. Jacobs opens a portal into the Nevernever allowing Darmoria, Camille, S’harra, and Hack to jump through. Unfortunately someone is waiting on the other side and slams the portal shut before anyone else can enter.
Lucas stops warding the door and the SWAT team finally break in. They zip tie Lucas and Mr. Jacobs while they search the residence. Bryan continues his tirade that he is wasting his time, but the raid commander is rewarded when they find a satchel of flight schedules and a box with two Stinger missiles. Bryan is suspicious that the Baltimore PD is very sure of the find that he asks the commander to double-check the serial numbers on the missiles. The commander thanks him for the obvious advice and leaves.
Cabin on the Wastes
The Nevernever is a flat and featureless plain of white sand, except for this copper-skinned fae with silver hair. He says his name is Ash’gar and he also wishes to enter into negotiations. With little recourse Darmoria agrees and everyone travels to a stone cabin into the desert that Ash’gar has prepared. Ash’gar thanks Camille for helping him in this matter and tells her that some of her debt has been paid.
Hack does give Ash’gar his business card in case he is in the mortal world. Ash’gar mentions that there are people that have been asking about his father. He does not know who they are, but they have made inquires. Darmoria sits down with Ash’gar and S’harra to negotiate for his protection. He is clearly not happy, but there is very little that Hack can do to help him.
Suddenly, a portal opens wide enough that Lucas and Bryan come tumbling through. Ash’gar attacks them immediately,while Camille and S’harra retreat to a corner of the cabin. Hack notices that S’harra has extended a small vine in a crack in the cabin with Camille’s help.
Bryan and Lucas try to work together, but they are no match for Ash’gar, so they attack the cabin instead and he changes tactics immediately. Feeling victory at hand they redouble their efforts against the wall with the help of Hack. Ash’gar incensed with Bryan bringing iron into the Nevernever that he fails to stop them from shattering the veil over the cabin. Ash’gar, with fear in his eyes, flees the cabin – which puts a smile on Camille’s face. Camille suggests that everyone leave as S’harra has called in faeries to deal with things.
Before parting they finally get out of Darmoria why everyone is hunting him. He says plainly that he has a secret that will destroy the Winter Court. With nowhere else to turn they go to the Midnighter’s Club.
They speak with Olivia and she mentions that SAIC Klein left some information. He discovered that the Baltimore PD was helping the IRS track down information on Star-Tek Industries. Officer Daniels was leading the investigation, Bryan remembers that the Baltimore PD cop at the SWAT raid was named Daniels. The two investigators that were killed were had a retainer with the Baltimore PD.
With that information in had they try to find a place for Darmoria to hide. Olivia offers the use of club property. Years ago they bought a dead strip mall as an investment – it hasn’t worked out. It seems like a good place, but they elect to try the Yogi Bear campground first as it is already warded. When they get out there they see a police cruiser along with the vehicles of Father Williamson’s prayer group. It appears the good Father is staging a protest or prayer meeting and the cops were called.
Shootout at the Best Buy
With limited options they take Olivia up on her offer. In less than an hour they pull off of the bypass near I-83 and find the abandoned strip mall. They decide the best place to stay is the empty Best Buy. Hack pulls his cab into the back where the Audioshop used to be while Lucas prepares the managers office with a ward to hide Darmoria. In the main area Bryan moves shelving around to give him better firing lanes against the best approaches into the store. As night approaches Hack ensures that only a few outside lights are on to keep up the appearance of an abandoned mall.
Around 2 AM Hack is peeking through the cardboard he placed over the windows when he sees a horde of Scarens moving about outside. Lucas confirms that they are around the back as well. More distressing, there are very large mastiffs outside as well – and they call out. They demand that Darmoria is surrendered to them or all inside will suffer the consequences. Everyone agrees they will not hand over Darmoria, so the scarens attack.
They start with trying to ram the front of the store with a small fuel truck. Bryan takes a shot at the driver and misses, but Lucas summons forth a large blast of psychokinetic energy and diverts the truck into one of the light poles. The truck overturns, spilling fuel all over the parking lot in front of the store. As if on queue the scarens attack the front of the store.
Hack opens up the back garage door and roars out in his cab, shutting the door behind him. Some of the scarens scatter as he car careening around the corner to the front parking lot, while others break the glass and attack Lucas and Bryan. Bryan moves from cover to cover as he switches from his vampire pistol to his trusty .50 Desert Eagle – but the scarens are fast use the shelving to conceal their movements. Lucas, with the help of Camille and Mr. Jacobs slams the scarens with psychokinetic blasts.
Outside Hack and the scarens play a game of chicken across the parking lot. He runs a few of them over, while they throw chunks of asphalt at his cab. At one point he ends up skidding and slamming side-on into the overturned fuel truck, covering his cab in gas, before he winds up half on the sidewalk. Hack gets out of his cab and bashes the last of them with a tire iron before he heads inside to help the others.
The fight inside is just starting to tip against the scarens as their superior numbers are being reduced under assault of magic, bullets, and a tire iron. the scarens are pack animals and even with a strong willpower driving them they cannot maintain their attack inside the store – the survivors flee into the night. Everyone’s relief is short-lived as the darkhounds return with their master.
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