Logs:Prelude to the Stranger

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During Hogmanay, Ash recruits another newcomer to protect the Royal Society's interests.

Ash, Jackalope
 Escorted from the disasterous burning of the boat, Jack is looking particularly grumpy by the time he manages to find a quiet park where he can tend to his wounds. With no Sleepers poking their noses into his injuries, the magic needed to heal them is a relatively simple matter and it flares to the Awakened senses as he sees to the burns. Where the flesh was red and angry it suddenly becomes pink once more, the body no longer bound by the Lie of healing slowly. The park bench is cold against his back, and Jack sighs as he relaxes against it, the pain leaving his leg. In the distance, the roar of the crowd can still be heard, though it has diminished somewhat as the effigy of the stag has collapsed into a pile of ash. Moonlight illumines the side of his face as he smirks. "Well, that was fun."

 "Fun, indeed," comes Ash's voice from the shadows. The woman emerges from the chilly dark and sits down on the bench next to Jack. She glances at his healed injuries. "You're certainly no worse for wear," she observes. "I'm sorry I couldn't help you more. There were so many people around. I could have done more, but no in front of witnesses," she reluctantly explains. Ash combs her damp hair away from her face with her fingers. She watches the fires burn from a distance. The scent of rain and smoke cling to her clothing.

 "There's no need to apologize," Jack says gruffly after a moment, lifting a hand to run it through his greying hair, his eyes glancing toward the distant sounds of revelry. "It is one of the most important things we do, protecting the veil. It would have been a shambles if we'd done all that we were capable of in front of so many Sleepers. And besides," he concludes with a smile, "it worked out in the end. The spirits got their pound of flesh for the new year."

 She sits in silence for a little while, tracing his gaze to the faraway sounds of the party-goers. "I won't claim to understand the meaning in that," she tells him. And it's true; the concept that everything could be living is something that the Moros just isn't yet capable of comprehending. She turns in her seat face Jack, draping her elbow over the back of the park bench and quietly crosses her legs. "I'm not from Edinburgh, originally. I haven't been home within the borders of the United Kingdom in quite time," she confesses. "Where I'm from, this time of year, we leave are homefires burning and our doors unlocked -- in case the spirits of the departed return home for the new year." Her eyes float to the ground and a ghost of a smile haunts her lips as some fond memory comes to mind. "Here -- they look forward to the first footing. You're familiar with the tradition?"

 "Not at all," Jack confesses almost immediately, "though I think I was briefed about it at some point in Dallas. Something about dark strangers coming to the door and asking for...what? Food?" He cocks his head at Ash, pulling his attention from the revelery to regard he with an even and expectant expression.

 "You offer it to them," she tells him with a slight shrug. "Or a lump of coal. Or a cake shaped like a lump of coal. In any case," she dismisses that part of the subject with a bored wave of her hand, "the person is supposed to bring good tidings. Unfortunately, in this day and age, criminal elements attempt to take advantage of the goodwill and hospitality, force their way into people's homes. A lot of burglaries and robberies," she explains. "It's bad luck. I've been contracted to help protect the Royal Society's interests tonight." Ash pulls back the sleeve of her p-coat and glances at her watch. "Around midnight, I've got to report to Connery. I'm on watch with the Eyes tonight, keeping people out who certainly don't belong crossing the threshold of the Royal Society's properties."

 Jack's expression grows grim, and if the fact a criminal element has hijacked the holiday surprises him, he certainly doesn't show it. Instead there is a kind of weariness that settles onto his features. It is followed, a moment later, by a look of determination. "Do you need help?" Before the answer can come, he continues, "I know this guy Connery doesn't know me from Adam, but I'm a Spook. Joined in Dallas, and I can pull my own wait. And," he nods to his now-healed leg, "I can patch folk up if worse comes to worst."

 "One of the Eyes?" She arches an eyebrow, intrigued. "Then I'm sure no one would mind your assistance." She looks away, back to the distant bonfires burning from the dark. "I don't think I know anyone else there. I imagine the event to be a total Spookshow," she says sardonically. "It would be nice to not be the only newcomer there." She didn't look at him. It seemed that sincere words had their trouble coming from her lips.

 "It'll be hard to find someone who feels more out of place around here than me, I promise," Jack offers. It's an oblique offering, a kind of sideways offer of companionship. "And besides," he continues, sealing their fate in a way that only an oblivious Texan might, "how dangerous can it be?"

 "When I was contracted, I was told that they would need people of my particular skillset, people who could be discreet," she explains with a slight nod of her head. "I'm not exactly sure what we should be expecting tonight, but if they need people like me -- they will need people like you, doctor." There is an ominous tone in her voice as she avoids saying directly that which she would rather not say. "I was told that if we caught some drunken vandal or burglar, we would turn them over to the authorities. If we catch someone or something else, they would be dealt with accordingly."

 Well, that certainly makes the good doctor go quiet. After a long moment, in which he casts his eyes up to the stars, he sighs. "Alright then. If its fighting the good fight we're going to do tonight, and fighting in quietly, I had best get some rest." A soft grunt escapes his lips as he pushes himself to his feet. And from somewhere in his viking costume, he's extracted a small piece of notebook paper. A phone number is written on it. "It's the number for a temporary cell I'm carrying. Call me and let me know where to meet you and Connery. I'll be there."

 Ash accepts the slip of paper with a quiet nod of thanks. And she lets the good doctor go to get his rest.

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