The North Sprawl isn’t all that nice but it’s relatively safe for the Morlocks to wander and tonight, now that the Winter is starting to break, Brinley convinced Miah to go for a walk. She had no real destination in mind, though they did get paid for a big job today and she’d muttered something about ice cream.
A few minutes ago though, Brin had turned her nose to the air and taken off at run down an alley. There’s a clatter of bins, a startled yowl and some growling.
Miah might recognise what she just smelt – it’s … feline in nature.
Is … did Brin just go chasing a cat? Or a cat person? Both happen in the sprawl. One is more common than the other. So he turns off the path and walks briskly down the alley to see what it is that Brinley has found.
Or who it is, whichever.
The alley is dim but he can make out the small brindle wolf’s shape as he hears the low growls coming from her. She’s definitely got something backed into the corner. Something that hisses and yowls at the wolf.
“Back off, will ya.” Comes the frustrated reply as a trash can is bumped and wobbles a bit. Luminous green eyes peer out as Jeremiah approaches, the hissing getting worse and a muttered “Great… Another one. I hate dogs…”
As Miah gets closer he can make more or less human features, punctuated by small peaked ears on their head, a light dusting of fur and long whiskers extending from their cheeks.
Brin… Just growls as she crouches low, almost ready to pounce if the figure tries to flee.
“Brin! Hey Brin!” He has never seen her bolt or chase like that before. He had figured she was actually human enough that it would t be an issue. Otherwise he might worry when the squirrels come out.
“Sorry lady. Give me a sec.” Is he going to have to actually pull Brin away? Or is his voice enough to snap her back to reality?
It’s true he hasn’t seen Brin behave this way. For the most part she is human and whilst he’s felt the feral emotions, they’ve only really surfaced when she dreams. Now though, there’s that edge, her emotions tinged with the feeling of the beast.
“Sorry lady he says…” the feline woman grumbles, trying to edge to the side to get out of there. Brin growls and takes a step to block her progress. Maybe Miah will need to worry about Squirrels after all.
The small brindle wolf’s ear flicks as Miah calls her name, he might think he will have to grab her. Particularly as she growls again. “Miah?” Maybe not…
“Brin, hey. Snap out of it. It’s a person Brin. Just . come back here. You have her cornered and she doesn’t like it.”
Not that he can blame her. He wouldn’t like being run into a corner now either especially by a feral mutant. Life is difficult enough without superpowered animals out here.
“Miah?” Brin quiet voice repeats his name again, he can still feel the raw edge to her emotions but it’s slowly receding “uh… Sorry…” that’s directed to the feline woman as the she-wolf takes a step or two back.
“No. She doesn’t like it.” the woman mutters again but moves quickly enough as Brin makes room. “You should put your dog on a leash…” that’s directed at Jeremiah as she slips by him, back to the mouth of the alley.
It’s not long before she’s gone.
Brin sighs, still on edge, her golden eyes follow the feline woman as she leaves. “I’m sorry ‘Miah, I don’t know what happened… All I remember is scenting and…” at least she looks abashed as her eyes flick to him.
Apart from from the feral edge to her emotions, he can now feel shame and confusion.
“Does that often happen with cats?” Jeremiah is glad it didn’t happen with Monica. That might have gone poorly. Or hilariously. But probably poorly. The werewolf places his arm around the smaller canine person and starts to head back, toward the part of town they live in. They haven’t gone too far.
“Do you remember that happening from the place you grew up in, at all or…?”
“Often?” Brin asks as she looks up abashedly. “Well … no. I didn’t chase Monica now, did I?” It’s possibly a little indignant, though the way she turns her eyes up to look him might indicate she can see the humour in that.
Her head turns back in the direction the feline had gone, nostrils twitching just a little “She smells … ” the sentence isn’t finishe because Miah’s arm wraps around her to provide distraction. “… I think maybe once or twice, that I can remember. But it’s … vague, like a dream.”
She speaks a lot about dreams, Brinley does.
“Are we still going to get ice cream?”
“Yes, I was just going to take another route. Back a block and over.” Fewer cats that way. He knows a couple of feline mutants hang out up ahead. They’ll just go around them. That’s alright.
“You’ve mentioned a lot of your time at the… care home seemed like a dream.”
It really is odd to Miah. He knows that orphanages essentially don’t exist. There are a few homes out in the sprawl that care for unwanted mutants but they’re far from official. Children of any stripe just don’t get abandoned… publically. In secret, yes it does happen. That’s how Miah ended out up here. But in any way that’s traceable?
It’s just strange.
“Was there a cat there? or a catlike mutant, perhaps?” He prompts, trying to see if she can remember more.
Brin looks up at Miah as they walk, enjoying his closeness as they walk. He doesn’t affect her emotionally, as much as others do. Why that it is, might be of interest to a number of people.
“Do I? Make it seem like a dream? I remember it quite clearly, but I know I dreamt a lot when I was there.” She pauses, glancing down the street that they are walking. It’s probably a good idea they avoid the Felines, not that Brin is likely to do something bad. Maybe. “That was a problem, because it affected the others.”
“Um… I … ” Brins brow furrows as she thinks on his question, he can still feel the slightly ‘feral’ touch of her emotions. Something has bought the ‘wild’ part of Brin to the fore, if only for a little bit. “I remember playing hide and seek with the other kids when we were young. There was someone who was part feline and it was really hard to find her. But we were encouraged to use our senses … and …” she shrugs a little, he can feel her shoulders lift and drop “… I was pretty good at it. But I don’t remember chasing her like that.”
“Hmmmm.” Miah says again. “Why don’t we go visit the place soon. I’ve been meaning to do that anyway. Hoping they could tell us a little bit more.”
Like a little bit of how she ended up on the street or why she didn’t know that she could shape shift into a human being. Things seem odd. Inconsistent. And the little inconsistencies are bugging Miah.
“I don’t know if you heard but there was a fight last night. Monica and Rocky wound up in a brawl with a group of Purifier… missionaries, I guess. No one died, but it’s got everyone tense.”
“We can…” Brin answers about visting Mercy Walsh, though she doesn’t sound too comfortable with the thought. There are certainly inconsistiencies. Like her name and the fact that she can appear as human. Not that she has since that time.
As they walk, his arm around her, he can feel that feral edge to her emotions receding a little. It’s not unusual for a smell to trigger a response – and that seems to be what’s happened here. “When … do you want to go?”
“There are always fights in the Sprawl, Miah.” the small brindle wolf murmurs as they walk. “But, I hadn’t heard, no. What happened? Did the Purifiers come here?” Or did the other two go to the South Sprawl.
“Soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week.” Miah says as they walk. He turns a corner and puts them back on a course for the ice cream parlor. They’re going to have worked up a bit of an appetite by the time they get there.
“They came here. Monica and Rocky made them… unwelcome. I’m fialry sure they plan to head down to the South Sprawl and continue the argument.”
Which means it’s going to escalate and escalate badly. Miah is sure that the purifiers won’t take kindly to the brawl to begin with and definitely won’t take kindly to mutants in their ‘home turf’.
She can feel him tense a little at the prospect, the little fuzzy empath can. He doesn’t like any of this.
Brins not eager to head to Mercy Walsh – Miah can tell. It’s not that she’s fighting it, it’s more apathetic than that. She … just doesn’t care. “Whenever you’d like, Miah…” is how she answers, which might seem strange in the scheme of things. After all, who wouldn’t want to know?
Well, some might. But they’d have a much a stronger reaction to it all.
“Why did they come here?” Brin glances up to the much taller wolf-person, rubbing her cheek against his arm. “I mean. Did they come to try and preach? To take their anger out on us?” //Us// – the smaller wolf identifies with this community, the Morlocks that make up at least some of the North Sprawl.
His tension is more than just physical and Brin gets the feel of both. He can feel the gentle of her mind on his – reassuring and calming, though there’s her own concern that colours it.
“I know you don’t want to fight … ” She doesn’t say //it will be alright//, because she’s not sure it will be.
“I’m not real sure. I didn’t get to ask them. Plenty of humans live up here though. More humans than mutants by a long shot.” Despite old Milwaukee being a stronghold of the Morlock subculture, they’re still a ridiculous minority in terms of raw numbers. They’re just a very, very noticable one. “Could be they were trying to make some friends.”
The attention – mostly the psychic attention – gets Miah to calm down a little. Gets him to focus. Him getting tense doesn’t do them any good really. She’ll just tense off of his tension.
“I just don’t see what fighting gets us. Maybe we win, but there’s more of them and it’s not like we’re any better off. People just… hate us more.” He doesn’t question her identifying with the Morlocks… even if he’s aware she could, if she wanted, leave this place and live in the city, with control over her power.
His tension certainly drew something from her and she’s still slightly on edge from the feline. The feral side of her emotions flaring a bit. He can feel that.
Brin, if she can shift to human (and there’s no reason why Jeremiah shouldn’t think that she can’t), could well live among the humans. Mercy Walsh, the shelter she said she grew up in, isn’t in the Sprawl after all.
“They might have been…” Brin agrees – trying to make friends “… Fighting sometimes gets us room to breath, ‘Miah.” she says softly. “But I think you’re right, you know that. The Purifiers want to hate us and we’re just giving them reason to do so. We should go and see Monika, like we agreed.”
She’s thinking though, and her mind touches his again, even as she shelters under his arm. She’s not afraid to find that part of it that responds to instinct, either.
It won’t take too long to find. Jeremiah’s mind isn’t like a human mind. There’s a large instinctive component to it and it has a lot more sway than in most humans. It’s not so much that there’s an inhuman part of him as it is that he’s much more alien than the average mutant. But then she’s likely to be on some level as well.
“We can do that. Soon. If you think you can handle her. She’s very emotionally intense.” Like Miah she’s got a wild outlook on things. It’s probably one of the reasons she pairs so well with Rocky. He’s much, much steadier. The problem is he’s also much more inflexible. Which is a bit appropriately ironic.
“Sorry. You don’t have to worry. Just… thinking about how things might play out. Not well for us either way, I’m afraid.”
‘Miahs brain is a lot like Brins, in that respect. Even if she can shift to human, she’s certainly … more in touch with her wild side. He experienced some of that, the other day when she dozed – the way it washed over him in a wave. Even now, as she calms him, it nudges at him. Not hard and it might be that he’s becoming familiar the sensation.
“Handle Monika? I thought we were going to send you in to charm her?” The wolf-woman looks up with a teasing smile. They won’t really, but she enjoys his response to that teasing. “I think I can, as long as I have you near. You’re … like a rock for me, sometimes.”
That might be news to him. Though she’s said she finds his mind like a shelter.
“Why be sorry? I’m not worried. It has to be done and the worst that will happen is my brain will break again. You’ve seen what happens when it does. Look how you found me …” She’s speaking so well now and she’s not emaciated anymore. Thin, but not starved. “Why don’t you think it will go well for us?”
“I don’t see away to avoid a fight in the near term… and the purifiers are in such numbers that we will fight here in our homes. Maybe… there’s a chance to descalate this somehow but if there is I have no idea what…” He shakes his head.
“We’ll talk to Monica. That’ll be a start. Beyond that we’ll just have to play it by ear.”
Up ahead Brin can see a faded but still colorful sign in the shape of an ice cream cone. “Aaaaaand there’s our destination. You’ll have to show me what your favorite flavor is when we get inside.” And how will they eat it? Very carefully. It gets sticky if it gets in your fur.
“I … don’t know either, Miah.” Miah. She’s been calling him that for a while now. “But they, Monica and Rocky at least, think they’re fighting for their homes. I don’t see that they’re wrong. Those drugs …” They’ve both seen the results of them. Though there weren’t many as mutants who had taken them, it still wasn’t pretty.
“Chocolate.” A simple statement in answer to his question. “Just chocolate. Reminds me of the days when we’d been good…” But yes, they’ll eat it carefully, though Brins likely to get some of her paws.
And hopefully there won’t be anymore felines around to trigger her. Or maybe they will and Jeremiah can have a laugh.