OldLogs:Building a Better Mousetrap

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Building a Better Mousetrap

Characters: Theo, Marcus as ST
Date: 2017-02-03
Summary: Theo discovers something hinky going down at the Wet Wench.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

For whatever reason Theos do Theo things, Theo is at one of his favorite places tonight - a dive bar of the highest caliber, the Wet Wench. It's a shitty place in a shitty part of town that serves shitty booze, but nobody gives Theo any shit (haha) for giving off an aura of menace or just plain punching folks. The bartender is a Wolf-blooded - no pack, he became what he was from Lunacy, not blood. He has a neutral sort of opinion about werewolves, a 'don't fuck with me and I won't fuck with you' attitude.

Coop 1.jpg

Having them around usually keeps spirits from screwing with his place, trying to keep them out makes things difficult. The bar's Acccorded neutral, and there's a plaque that says so behind the bar. Theo's been served a drink already, and it's as he's lifting it for the first sip that his sensitive werewolf nose catches the scent: rot. Disease. Unclean.

The Rahu is already on edge from his moon brightening the sky, which is probably part of why he's looking for something to do that isn't destructive. At least not as destructive as it could be. But that scent focuses his attention on... well, he's not sure at first. He glares at the bartender, then lifts his drink to see if that's where it's coming from. "You fuck with this?" he asks the Wolf-blooded.

"Fuck with it? You saw me fucking pour it." The Wolf-blooded bartender - he goes by 'Coop', but it has the sound of a nickname rather than a given one - points at the bottle on the shelf. "It came right from the same goddamn bottle I pour everyone else's fucking drinks from, what, you think I'm gonna roofie you and take you out to my car? I couldn't fucking get you out there with a forklift."

Theo doesn't look entirely convinced that the Wolf-blooded didn't do something, but he's not exactly a trusting sort of guy. "Well, it fucking stinks. Smell it yourself. Would you drink that shit?" The Rahu shoves the glass back in the bartender's direction and shifts slightly to let his gaze scan the rest of the establishment. It's not like he's never come across a similar scent before.

The smell isn't quite venom. It's more of a -sick- smell than an artificial toxin or a venomous creature's burning but more clean assault on the senses. The Wolf-blooded picks it up, brings it to his nose. "It smells like liquor." He stares at Theo, trying to decide if the wolf is crazy or sensing something he's not. "I've been drinking from the same booze as everyone else. I mean, I only opened this bottle -tonight-, but nobody's gotten sick so far, Theo. Should I stop letting people have it?"

There's a low growl under his breath in response to the Wolf-blooded's inability to smell what he smells. "Something ain't right," is an answer that doesn't actually answer Coop's question. But Theo's attention is turning elsewhere now, calling on his keener sense to peer across the gauntlet. That's just where you look when shit isn't right.

In the Hisil, the problem seems still subtle - but more visible. Many of the patrons are giving off a foul sort of Essence in a slow trickle, and disease spirits feed in the bar. Here and there, magath - so common in New Orleans - have crowded in. Diseased rats and foul spirits of vomit, hybridized between alcohol and plague. We shall let the appearance of a vomit-spirit dwell in the mind of the reader. There is definitely something going on in the Hisil - even if it's only a side effect.

"Yeah, but ain't right like I should open a new bottle and get you another drink, or not right like I should close the bar and maybe leave town for a week?"

"Maybe want to call it a night for now. Not sure for how long." Rahu he may be, but plans leading to outcomes aren't really his speciality. "I'm gonna take a look." Theo gives his drink a frown, then leaves his seat at the bar to head for the bathroom. It's always good to take a bathroom break before doing anything potentially unpleasant. And, well, there's a mirror there.

"All right, folks! Closing early! You don't have to go home but get the fuck out!" It's going to be a process, rousting drunks, but despite everything, Theo's a werewolf - and Coop knows werewolves Know Things. Or at least Smell Things.

The bathroom's not easy on the Wolf Senses, especially not when Theo finds a man noisily vomiting into a toilet with the stall door open. This wouldn't be -that- unusual.

Except that he's vomiting rats.

Not quite what Theo had been expecting, admittedly, but since he's here, the Rahu comes up behind the rat-vomiting man and reaches out to grab him by the hair or the back of the neck, whichever will offer more leverage in the case that it becomes necessary. "You look like you might be a problem," Theo tells him. But he's not trying to pull him up or anything, if he gets a hold of him. No one wants to be vomited on, rats or otherwise.

The response from the man is to go limp in Theo's grip, save for a racking convulsion. He thrashes as if something inside him were trying to escape...because that's exactly what's going on. One rat claws its way free from his mouth, but another behind it seems to be in too big a hurry to wait its turn...and erupts from his throat, having eaten a hole through the flesh. He gurgles and tries to scream, but the infested man doesn't seem in control of his body. He's wearing a button-up shirt - and this becomes relevant when blood starts to spread across it from his stomach, and the space between two buttons opens to let a viscera-streaked rat face to poke out, wriggle free, and make a leap for the toilet bowl. Each rat, as it escapes, seems to be heading for the toilet and the pipes that lead downward.

One might think Theo would have some sympathy for the man, any sympathy really, but he only lets the man go to grab for a rat. Not that he has any intention of doing anything but crushing it in his hand before storming back out to the main room to shout-ask Coop if there's a basement or anything under the place and how the hell he gets to it.

A rat is grabbed. There are so many of them now - more than really seems like they could fit in the man's body cavity. The torn ruins of his stomach erupt in them, two or three dozen. It's not a lot of effort to grab one. This is no pet, though, and the rat Theo grabs bites and claws and fights to be free.

Of particular interest, Theo would know that the Beshilu might not have the healthiest human hosts...but they don't frequently tear them to pieces. And they only discorporate as a last resort, when they would otherwise die.

If he does crush the rat, he'll also find it's...rather normal. Not a spirit at all, but simply a flesh-and-blood rodent.

When Theo heads out to ask Coop about the basement, the bartender's reply - as he's literally dragging a drunk, sick looking fellow out the door - is: "Uh. Yeah, there's a cellar. Door's through the back. Uh. Should I, you know - go? Too?"

"Probably," says the Rahu, eyeing the sick looking man like he's considering ripping out his throat preemptively. "You could die either way." He's so pretty to make up for his sparkling bedside manner, obviously. "Not sure where it is. Need to take better care of your shit, man." Because this is clearly Coop's fault. Since there's not much he can do for people puking up rats, he leaves the bartender to deal with the drunk while he breaks away to find the cellar.

It looks, for a good few moments, like Coop's going to respond. But in the end, Theo's a big-ass scary fucking Rahu, it's the full moon, and Coop is a Wolf-blood who knows what he is and isn't. And so Coop, rather than retorting...drags his customer out the door and calls a cab.

The cellar of Coop's bar isn't huge. Cellars aren't common in New Orleans - the ground's swampy and they flood like nobody's business. Coop's cellar isn't flooded - there's a good-sized drain in the center of the floor, probably one that drains directly into a storm drainage system under the streets.

And with Theo's wolf-senses active, it's not hard to smell that the diseased scent is stronger down here. And spot that the metal grate over the drain? Has been dislodged in a way that's left scratches in the concrete flooring suggesting it was pushed -up-...and then just laid back in place so it sits loosely.

On shelves that line the walls are bottles of booze. The same bottles that are getting served upstairs.

Theo growls both to himself and at the whole interruption to his evening as he explores what he can of the cellar. The full moon isn't the best time for a Rahu who already has anger management issues to be agitated. He takes the time to peer across the gauntlet while he looks for signs that he needs to be going down or tracking something beyond the bar entirely.

On the other side of the gauntlet, this place is mostly clean - which makes sense. All the Essence for spirits was being generated upstairs - where the infection was taking place. Down here, no one's being infected...and thus, no Essence to feed on. Theo's choices are investigate more upstairs - or go down. Into the storm drain.

Well! Theo saw rats going down the drains, so he needs to check down before he goes back up. Maybe he just expects the rats to want to go toward the shit worth ripping apart just like he wants to, even if the grate suggests anything down there already came up. He needs some smarter people in the pack, just saying.

The nature of what's going on here suggests that whatever infected the bottles likely didn't do so -tonight-. The scratches look like something may have been coming and going for a while. Days. Weeks.

When Theo moves the grate, it lifts easily. It's heavy, sure, but no longer attached - and there's enough room, if only just, for Theo to drop down into the darkness.

The water in the storm drain is up to mid-calf. It's flowing, but not so vigorously that he is in danger of being swept away. It's slick, and he's got to work to keep his balance...but he won't fall unless something else comes up. For a human, it would be entirely too dark to see down here - but with a light on in the cellar, there's more than enough for Theo's werewolf-sharp eyes to make out shapes. And movement. The tunnel is only -just- tall enough for Theo to stand upright, which means that the huge rats - about the size of large dogs - sprinting in loping bounds along the walls and ceiling of the tunnel easily spotted as they close in. A half-dozen of them, three from one side and another three from the other.

Rats 1.jpg

Between the footing, limited ceiling and the rodents of unusual size coming at him from both directions, Theo shifts into urshul to meet them. He snarls with a strange sort of excitement when their teeth rip into his flesh, and he returns the favor by taking down one, then another in his snapping jaws. When he grabs another, shaking it so viciously its body nearly parts from its head, the violent Rahu makes short work of the rest until it's only Theo standing there again, wiping his forearm against his mouth.

The rats fight as though there were no retreat - even against impossible odds. The whole conflict is over in less than a half a minute, and the corpses float away, drawn by the current. The scent is stronger in the direction they're floating - even Theo's Hishu nose can tell that. He's tasted their diseased blood, their teeth have pierced his flesh...and he can feel that supernatural sickness taking hold, even now. The heat of infection is creeping through his veins in a way he's not likely used to.

Theo licks his lips, blue eyes already focused down the way the rats are floating. He glances at the way back up into the cellar, but he's not done until he's dealt with the problem. And he hasn't yet. So instead he starts making his way after the rats.

There are turns and twists to the tunnels. Since Katrina, they've been renovated and updated, but the storm drainage system doesn't seem new or clean after twelve years of carrying the vomit and piss and detritus of the French Quarter's streets away into canals and into the river or the lake. Somewhere, down side tunnels, Theo can -feel- more than hear the hum of pumps lifting water from here, below sea level, up to the surface of the water. But despite the unfamiliarity of the terrain, despite the darkness save for the occasional light from the street where the drains open - Theo's nose leads him unerringly.

To a dead end.

The corpses of the rats have caught against an enormous pile of trash and debris. There are three -human- corpses is in this pile, too, in various states of decay - throats all slit. Mostly, though, it's made of trash - caught against bars that are meant to disallow this sort of thing from flowing out of the storm drainage system and into the river or lake. This pile, though, clogs the drain nearly from floor to ceiling, although the water seems to still be flowing. It's deeper here, though - up to the Urshul's belly.

-Things- move in the water, rats above and below the surface - normal sized, but numerous beyond counting. Theo's ears pick up the sound of something sliding down from above, and a human form drops into the water from a storm drain in the street above.

Not a human form. A wolf-blooded form. Coop. He's crawled into the drain and dropped down to stand about fifteen feet back, water up past his waist. "You never were the smartest, were you, Theo? Coming down here alone was a dumb move."

The smell of rot and disease from that pile is overwhelming. It almost throbs with it. Almost -moves-. Is it moving?

The Rahu follows his nose, the infection in his blood only serving to exacerbate his agitation under the pressure of his auspice moon. He takes stock of what he can when he reaches the dead end, but once he realizes the form that drops in from above is Coop, that's where his sudden rage is focused. He growls, low and dangerous, and there's not much thinking happening as the urshul launches himself at the wolf-blooded.

When the Rahu launches himself at him, Coop's reaction isn't to back down. He simply reaches up and back and grabs the top of his LSU sweatshirt and peels it off, over his head. The Wolf-blood's chest and stomach are covered in puckered holes like those on a suranom toad's back - each of them filled with the biting, screeching mouth of a rat. They range in size and maturity from pink-skinned newborns to aged, dessicated near-corpses. The one thing they all have in common is that they look diseased - and hungry.

"You can't win, Uratha! I AM MANY. You are one! And I have SPAWNED."

At least the whole rat-filled holes thing gets rid of any hesitation Theo may or may not (probably not) have had about attacking the wolf-blooded. In a moment, it's the Uratha's war form charging Coop instead of the comparatively adorable urshul, and the Rahu swings claws at the man as he roars something that might have been swearing if he were in a more communicative form.

When the raging Gauru charges, the Beshilu in the heart of the Wolf-blood rears back. It looks like he's simply going to roar, but when he does...his whole face distends. Something pushes OUT from within, a pointed ratlike snout pushing forward as his face tears and peels back, as if his lips were the stretched birth canal and the seizing of his throat and chest were some contraction, pushing forth the head of a rat in an abominable, ghastly parody of delivery. Theo's attack tears into the rat, dislodging several of the older, more dessicated rats - tiny, pink newborns push their way outward from those holes like fresh teeth from the gums of grade schooler.

It's while Theo is distracted fighting Coop that the pile from behind him erupts. A huge rat, its teeth pushed outward like a mole or other burrowing rodent, throws off the weight of the debris and charges headlong toward the werewolf with a childlike disregard for danger and an anger born of familial protectiveness. The creature is the size of a grizzly, easily equal to Theo's, and sinks its teeth into his hamstring even as the Host in front of him latches onto an arm with the newly-birthed rat head and starts to tear.

Rats 2.png

Theo would probably be more disgusted by that whole visual if he weren't so focused on the idea of ripping Coop apart, rat by rat, limb by limb. He snaps his massive jaws at the possessed wolf-blooded, tearing into skin, and snarling in raged pain at the teeth sinking into his hamstring, even if the Gauru's focus isn't going to be swayed from Coop to the gigantic rat just yet.

"You've already lost, Forsaken! You cannot kill me! AND EVEN IF YOU COULD," he shouts, choking and coughing on blood as Theo tears hunks of him out, revealing a squirming mass of blood-soaked rats beneath the surface, "MY SPAWN WILL DEVOUR ONE ANOTHER. They will be more powerful than I, soon, Uratha!" Neither the Host nor his pet can get past the werewolf's armor, but they're mad in their fury to do so, unwilling to give up even in the face of Theo's clear superiority - at least, while his Gauru form lasts. And before the sickness that builds within him overwhelms him. Perhaps they know it's only a matter of time...

The Rahu doesn't really like being told that he can't do things. Sure, he's aware of how 'killing' spirits works, but he'll be damned if he lets some Wolf-blooded rat party tell him he can't be killed. The Gauru lunges at the Beshilu, teeth aimed for his throat to rip it out in a sick gurgle of blood. Then his attention swings around to the giant rat, claws sinking into its neck to sever its spine with a roar of bloodthirsty defiance when its own rage clouds its better judgment. With its head torn off, the Beshilu's body collapses, spilling rats out into the water. They swarm past Theo, above and below - mingling with the scores of regular rats fleeing from the combat, or away from the devastation of the dislodged debris pile. The rat-bear Burrower roars out its outrage, distracted momentarily by the death of its creature...and suffers for it, spine torn free, collapsing into the water.

The Beshilu will reform, with time. But for now? The poison won't flow from the Wet Wench any longer.

With his targets neutralized for now, the Gauru relaxes into Dalu. He watches the fleeing rats with a snarl of contempt, then wades through the water to explore the remaining debris. In particular the corpses, because if they're anyone he recognizes, it would probably be good to know that they're dead.

The three corpses are no one Theo recognizes - they're not in great shape, but as far as he can tell, what lingers of their scent and their faces aren't familiar. There is one thing each has in common: their throats are slit...and their chests are carved with a series of runes. The runes are not First Tongue - nor in any language Theo recognizes. That latter doesn't mean much, but the former? Likely means it wasn't done by the Beshilu.