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Your name is Karkat Vantas and you woke up this morning (if you can even call it that yet) because Suffer-Thy-People was in your room.
There were two things obviously wrong with this:
<ol><li>It is very clearly the middle of the goddamn night, and</li>
<li>Sufferer usually knocks.</li></ol>You're not used to emergencies. You are, however, used to loading yourself up in the back of your guardian's van to rush down to the sept for any number of reasons, so you can at least do that while your brain isn't working.
You drowse in the back of the van, watching the one-armed man in the front seat drive with years of adapted practice. He's telling you something, maybe even something important, but the words flow in and out of your ears like water.
He's upset, you notice. That's weird. Probably bad. But you're too busy yawning for any of that to hit you.
[[==>|Arrive already]]A young werewolf stands alone in the exercise yard of the [[Sept of the Twin Moons]], and he is you.
The yard is where the sept's packs sometimes train, and where the sept's cubs often roughhouse. You've taken your share of bruises and bites on this hard-beaten ground, dragged into stupid games your friends invented.
The high chain link fence that surrounds the place is backed by boards to create a privacy wall. The effect would be merely trashy, but the coils of razor wire along the top add a note of raging paranoia that really brings it all together.
<<linkappend "<u>Time to quit bullshitting around and get down to //business.//</u>"t8n>>
It's the ass end of the middle of the night, you have no idea what the //fuck// has pulled your dad out here on zero notice, and you are going to //find out.//
[[Karkat: Text a friend.|Text a friend.]]<</linkappend>>Using a phone is a monumental pain in the ass with claws, but you manage. Your life is a series of pains in the ass which you are accustomed to managing.
Considering how many of them are included in that list, "friend" is a strong word for some of these kids. Still, you peruse your contacts for somebody who might have even a single clue re: the what the fuck is going on situation.
The sept's other [[Marked]] cubs are your best bet. Nobody else actually //lives// here and it <i>is</i> stupid o'clock.
Aradia and Tavros have to share a phone, which is a form of torture you can only just begin to imagine. At least hitting them up first is probably efficient?
[[Karkat: Text Aradia and Tavros.|Text Aradia and Tavros]] The Litany of the Garou is long and complicated, but the core tenets are easy enough to remember. The first is <<linkappend "__Garou shall not mate with Garou.__" t8n>>
Children of these unions are born in the middle form between wolf and child, trapped in that shape until they are old enough to Change. Marked cannot have children of their own. Marked are a bad omen. Marked are //cursed.//
<<linkappend "__//You// are cursed.__" t8n>>
Once, you might have been left to die when you were born. These days, though? After their parents are dealt with, Marked cubs are usually kept hidden and raised by other werewolves.
There's a war on. Modern werewolves aren't //tolerant//. Modern werewolves are <<linkappend "__//desperate.//__" t8n>>
Twin Moons has three Marked cubs that live here: Aradia, Tavros, and Sollux. Aradia's horns, Tavros's hooves, and Sollux's... whatever the fuck is up with Sollux, are obvious Marks. So is Sufferer's missing arm. <<linkappend "__You, however...__" t8n>>
You have no mutations, no freak appendages, nothing extra and nothing absent. That means your Mark is either psychological, or will only show up when you Change.
This is not reassuring, and you prefer to think about it as little as possible.
<<return "Karkat: Get back to thinking about it as little as possible.">><</linkappend>><</linkappend>><</linkappend>><</linkappend>>Sollux is your best friend. "Best", you will stress, is an extremely relative term. There always has to be a best of something, even if that something is insufferable assholes you have no choice but to know.
You stress this most of all if Sollux is listening.
<div class="dialogue"><span class="karkat">KARKAT: I'M AT THE SEPT.
KARKAT: PLEASE TELL ME YOU'RE CONSCIOUS ENOUGH TO BOGGLE WITH ME AT THE ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT THAT IS THIS FACT.
KARKAT: WE ARE AT DEFCON MY-DAD-DRAGGED-US-OUT-HERE AND I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION.
KARKAT: TAVROS AND ARADIA ARE AWOL.
KARKAT: OR, MORE LIKELY, THEY'RE GETTING THE BLISSFUL, DELICATE SHUT-EYE I AM CURRENTLY SO RUDELY DENIED.</span></div>
<<linkappend "He... doesn't seem to be answering either?" t8n>>
Fantastic. Everyone you know is worthless. You knew that already. Why did you even waste your time?
You're debating what kind of rib-kicking insult you can drop to bait even a probably-mostly-asleep Sollux into at least //arguing// with you <<linkappend "when" t8n>>
<div class="dialogue"><span class="sollux">SOLLUX: kk 2hut up a miinute.
SOLLUX: 2top typiing whatever 2hiit you are about two 2ay.
SOLLUX: 2omethiing2 happeniing and you are not helpiing.</span></div>
<<linkappend "Fucking //jackpot.//"t8n>>
<div class="dialogue"><span class="karkat">KARKAT: TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON.
KARKAT: THOSE ARE MY TERMS. I'LL STOP BLOWING UP YOUR PHONE WHEN I AM UP TO SPEED AND NOT A MOMENT SOONER.</span>
<span class="sollux">SOLLUX: a2 iif you knowiing anythiing ii2 realii2tiically goiing two iimprove matter2.</span>
<span class="karkat">KARKAT: WHAT'S THAT?
KARKAT: I BELIEVE YOU HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD MY TERMS!</span>
<span class="sollux">SOLLUX: kk</span>
<span class="karkat">KARKAT: SO BUCKLE THE FUCK UP, ASSWIPE!
KARKAT: WE'RE DOING THIS NOW!</span>
<span class="sollux">SOLLUX: kk plea2e for the love of god</span>
<span class="karkat">KARKAT: I DON'T SEEM TO BE LEARNING ANYTHING NEW ABOUT THIS STUPID SITUATION!
KARKAT: WHAT COULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?
KARKAT: IT MIGHT BE THE FAULT OF SOMEONE IN THIS VERY CONVERSATION WE ARE HAVING!
KARKAT: CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT?
KARKAT: CAN YOUR GREY MATTER EVEN BEGIN TO PROCESS HOW SHITTY A FRIEND THAT PERSON WOULD HAVE TO BE?????</span>
<span class="sollux">SOLLUX: 2top iim 2eriiou2 youre goiing two get me caught.</span></div>
[[Karkat: 2top.|Karkat: Stop.]]<</linkappend>><</linkappend>><</linkappend>>You don't really like talking to these two all that much. You mostly only bother when you have to Run Along And Play With The Other Cubs ™ because Sufferer has business at the sept. There's not much else to //do// around here.
Your feelings may or may not be heavily influenced by how they are the ones that like making up games where you get bit a lot.
<div class="dialogue"><span class="karkat">KARKAT: ALRIGHT ONE OF YOU TWO HAS TO BE AWAKE RIGHT NOW.
KARKAT: I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE SEPT IS IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND BOTH OF YOU ARE TOO HAPPILY PASSED OUT TO GET YOUR NOSES UP IN WHATEVER THE FUCK THIS IS.
KARKAT: EARTH TO ARADIA AND TAVROS!
KARKAT: DING DING DING, ASSHOLES! I KNOW YOU DON'T SILENCE THIS THING!
KARKAT: GREAT. FINE. IGNORE ME.
KARKAT: SEE IF I GIVE A SHIT.</span></div>
Wow, that was even more useless than you expected. Wonders may never cease.
Sollux <i>might</i> be awake? The two of you have talked at some heinous hours in the past.
You're also shit out of luck on leads if he isn't.
[[Karkat: Text Sollux instead. |Text Sollux]]It's only when you've been ushered out into the exercise yard that you start being able to retain what he's saying. Unfortunately, that's not much anymore.
<div class="dialogue"> <span class="sufferer">SUFFERER: Stay here.</span>
<span class="karkat">KARKAT: What? Why? I'm not-</span></div>
He takes your shoulder firmly in hand, and the look in his eyes as he stares into yours kills the words in your throat.
<div class="dialogue"><span class="sufferer">SUFFERER: Please. Stay. Here.</span></div>
Suffer-Thy-People may not be your actual father, but he <i>has</i> raised you. You <i>know</i> him. He isn't big or imposing, especially as werewolves go, but there's a force behind his words you've never heard before.
You fight with Sufferer all the time, sometimes you even win, but tonight you just clench your teeth and look away.
He turns the grip into a sudden, firm hug with his lone arm, and then he rushes off.
The most you can do is refuse to say anything to his retreating back.
[[==>|The Yard]]Twin Moons is the sept that watches over this region, taking down major supernatural threats, fighting the Enemy, and keeping up with other fun local werewolf business.
You're pretty honest about Twin Moons: It's a small, shitty sept with a small, shitty protectorate that nobody gives a fuck about. The only reason the lid stays on most of the time is that any serious forces of the Enemy have much bigger and more important things to ruin.
You and Suffer-Thy-People aren't officially members. Sufferer is a bit of a hermit and that's honestly pretty weird of him (and, by extension, you.) Still, you show up for the major gatherings. The sept still comes calling when they need Sufferer's particular set of skills.
Like they apparently do now.
<<return "Back">><div class="dialogue"><span class="karkat">KARKAT: CAUGHT BY WHO?</span>
<span class="sollux">SOLLUX: maybe your dad for one.</span></div>
For once in your life, you actually stop.
<div class="dialogue"><span class="sollux">SOLLUX: youre iin the yard riight?
SOLLUX: ju2t go get one of the gla22 2hard2 and come up out2iide the iinfiirmary.
SOLLUX: iit2 goiing two 2ave u2 a lot of tiime.</span></div>
<div style="width: 100%; text-align: center;">END CHAPTER 1</div><div style="text-align: center"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif;"><span style="font-size: 1.5em;">"<i>We have doomed the wolf not for what it is but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be: the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer—which is, in reality, not more than the reflected image of ourselves.</i>"
- Farley Mowat</span></span></div>