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  ™   ByChrisCampbell-JessHartleyandPeterSchaefer  World of Darkness ®  created by Mark Rein ã Hagen  2   Eventually, you just stop thinkin’ of your-self as a monster. Most of us know, the first time we shift, that we aren’t what we used to be. We aren’t people. We aren’t right   any more. But somewhere along the line, you leave your old life and your   old buds behind — if you’re lucky, not in pieces — and you start running with folks who understand, ones you don’t have to lie to. Pretty soon, you almost forget that most folks aren’t like you. That even you   weren’t always like you. And somewhere in there, you might stop thinkin’ of your    self as some sort of shapeshifting half-spirit fr    eak, at least for a little while.But then something happens, and it reminds you. Reminds you that, no matter how long you’ve Face in the Crowd been Uratha, you don’t know it all, you haven’t seen it all. No matter what you are, what you’ve done, there’s shit out there that will   still fuck up your world.Believe me, man. I know. We’d been run-ning together for most of a year the first time we saw it. It was  July, maybe August, and the air was so hot and wet, it was like breathing in a shower   all the friggin’ time. The guy on the ra-dio said it was the hottest sum-mer in 20, maybe 30 years, and we had so many thunderstorms I thought I’d never dry out. I   don’t know if it was just that it was my first summer after Changing or what, but I was going a little stir-crazy. It never cooled off! It was hot clear thr    ough the night, even when it was pouring. There was just no way to get cool. It was so   hot one day, we skipped out of our territory for a while,   hoping those scuzzballs down south wouldn’t catch wind of it, and spent the day up on Boston Road sneak-ing in and out of peep shows and porn shops, anywhere we could get in front of a fan for a   bit without getting hassled too bad. People had a  3   hair trigger that summer, no one liked the heat, and   folks were getting shot or stabbed just for looking at someone wrong. Course, we coulda handled ourselves, but   Mako was trying to keep a low profile and didn’t want any tr    ouble with the cops.Round about 10, the sun was going down, and business was picking up in the store we were in. The clerk woulda been a hottie if she hadn’t had such crappy teeth, but she had on one a   those tight tank tops with no bra and you could totally see her titty rings through it. Nuke had been   drooling on the counter most of the after-noon, and she’d been grooving on it, but her boss came in and was giving us that “scram before I call the cops”   look. Nuke looked like he wanted to take the guy down, but Mako shook his head   and nodded toward the back door. We cut out for the back, past the jerk booths, and when we hit the parking lot door, the heat hit back. It was like breathing in fire and water all at the same time. “Jeezus, it’s hot.” “No shit, Nuke? Damn, glad you told me, I’da missed it. You hear t   hat, Biz, Nuke says it’s hot.”Biz just shook her head at me and ignored us both.   She didn’t much like small talk. She didn’t much like Nuke, either. Me, she was neutral on, and that’s about as good as it got with Biz un-less there was a knife involv    ed. I think, if we hadn’t already been following Cold-Steel when she Changed and came looking for a pack, she’d have pr    obably just kept on looking. Nuke shoved his hands deep into his pockets and took on ignoring me, too. Most time,   he tried to follow Biz’s lead when she’d let him. And most times, when she noticed, she’d smack him up alongside the head. “Quit doggin’ me.”N   uke followed Biz, but Biz followed Mako. The bunch of us did, really. It wasn’t so much a choice as just the way it was. Mako was an alpha, had been since before I’d joined the pack, prob-ably since before he’d Changed. The pack went where Mako led, and right now it looked like he was leading us for some fun.Way   down at the end of Boston Road, past the MiniMart and the mission, the street   kinda dies off. It’s still there, all three lanes, but once you get past the mission there’s no reason to go any further and a hella buncha reasons not to. Namely the four of us. Cuz once you get past St. Mary’s, the only thing left down Boston is the big ol’ vacant car place and us. Most of the time, folks use their heads. Word gets around — you don’t get too close to the place. You don’t sneak over the chain link, even though the ivy’s grown up and over the barbed wire at the top. And no matter how much safer it may look than the alley you been living in, you don’t try to set up camp in the building. You just don’t.Apparently, no one told him, though.“Jeezus,   what’s he doin’?” Nuke weaved off to the side, trying to get a better look at the guy   climbing the fence.We all picked up the pace a bit, but we weren’t gonna actually run, that would have looked wrong. We just   kinda quick-jogged, and by the time we got to the gate all we saw was his coat disappearing over the top of the fence.Mako jerked open the gate that looks like it don’t   work, but it does. He went tearing after the asshat who was stupid enough to invade our turf, with Biz and Nuke right b   ehind him. I took a sec to jam the gate shut behind us. I didn’t want whoever it was to have an easy time getting out, least not until we w    as done “talking’” to him.When I caught up with the rest of the pack, Nuke and Biz was standing around, looking at each other like they didn’t know what was what. “What’s up?” I thought I’d find a brawl go-ing on, but no dice.“No clue. He was gone before we got here.”
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