Chapter 1 - Ambush
The Huntress lay quietly in the grass, observing the soldiers in their blue fatigues. The dense undergrowth made it easy to hide her presence. Clumps of papyrus, bamboo and peach trees were scattered across the valley. However, the Simba chose to keep a reasonable distance. The soldiers might be able to sense her if she came too close. The special abilities some of them had, posed a greater threat than the heavy weaponry they carried along. The army humvee they used for transport was parked near the entrance of an orchard, together with some other vehicles. A grove of palm trees offered the soldiers the necessary shade and a pond served as a means to wash and refill Water tanks.
One of the soldiers, a dark woman with long brown hair and a slender build, stood at the edge of the pond. She casually took off her clothes, folded them, and made a neat pile, placing a heavy pistol on top. Then she entered the pond. At first she hesitated, but eventually she plunged into the water, screaming of joy. A second woman, an exceptionally tall caucasian with an athletic build, stood guard at the far bank. She was well armed, holding an automatic rifle, while carrying a rocket launcher across her shoulder. The Huntress was close enough to overhear their conversation.
"OH MY GOD! The water feels so wonderful. Why don't you put your weapon away and join me, Charlene?"
"I could use a good scrubbing, Carlotta. I've been sweating like an ox in that darn humvee." the tall woman on the bank answered, while adjusting her dark sunglasses. "But I will wait for you to finish first. I will not have the men catch us butt naked and off guard without our weapons at hand. One of us needs to keep them in check, or they might get out of line." She glanced across her shoulder toward the vehicles, where the other soldiers stood.
"Well, you know we don't have much time left. If we have to head out before you enter the water it's your loss! Spivey won't let anything happen to us, especially now he has a visitor. And if anything does happen, you know I will take care off it," the woman in the water continued. She turned toward the bank where her belongings lay. Suddenly the gun rose into the air. For a moment it hovered about a meter above the pile of clothes. Then it gradually descended until it lay still in its former spot.
The Huntress observed the small demonstration with caution. This woman called Carlotta could move things with her mind! She was one of the Bane infested humans the Pentex corporation used for soldiers. She had to make sure not to be spotted. The sun was already setting. It would be dark within the hour. The dusk might give her an opportunity to move closer to the vehicles without getting noticed... NO! She had not decided yet. She had not chosen a side, and would not take any major risks until she had.
The Huntress was alone. The Endless Storm, her former Pride, had abandoned her years ago. It had taken some time to get used to travelling all by herself. There were moments when she missed her Simba and lion pack mates, despite of what they had done to her. She dreamt about them frequently. Some dreams were pleasant, but most were horrible nightmares, where she relived the moment when they left her to die in the desert. That betrayal by ones so close to her had radically changed her view on life. She somehow had managed to escape death by dehydration, and her physical wounds had healed long ago. However, she had developed a gloominess that had almost consumed her will to live. After the demise of the members of her former Pride, that feeling of depression had gradually lessened, but she had serious doubts about trusting anyone ever again.
For a while now she had watched the Ahadi form, and observed the different factions in it. The Ahadi's defeat of the Endless Storm and their allies had caught her by surprise. She could hardly believe that the Bastet, Garou, Ajaba and Mokole had managed to set aside their differences and work together to reach a common goal. At a crucial moment she had jumped into the fray to claim justice. It had not brought her the personal satisfaction she had been looking for... The gloom had not disappeared with Black Tooth's death.
His death had neither meant a permanent change to the balance of power in the region. New rifts had appeared between the Ahadi factions. The Power vacuum had fuelled old rivalries. The Amadu'o Simba had chosen a new king, Thunder's Sovereign, who tried to reclaim their rightful spot as leaders of all the Fera in Africa. The Garou and Bubasti had returned their focus on hunting the vampires that had cursed them ages ago. The Bageera and Swara showed distrust, and distanced themselves from the Simba once more. The few Ajaba were divided in two camps. And the Mokole returned to the swamps, isolating themselves from the alliance.
The Huntress had observed the Wyrm too, and witnessed its raw power. Firstly, there was Pentex, a wicked global corporation that polluted the lands of Africa, stole its resources and send warped soldiers to hunt down its wildlife and Fera. Secondly, there were the vampires of the Walid Set, who had spread their influence across Egypt for ages. After Black Tooth's death they had been forced to withdraw to the dense cities and their hidden temples deep in the desert. However, recently they had become more active. They seemed to prepare for something important.
But there was something else... Creatures she had never seen before the fall of Healing Dawn. By coincidence she had been witness to the violent raid on the caern two days ago. The creatures that had breached the bawn's defences and slain the Garou inhabitants, could not have been Simba. They had many similarities with her kind, though. Some of them even looked like Werelions. Others were much smaller, like mountain cats. Many had distorted features or awkward coloured pelts. However, the level of violence the creatures had used against the inhabitants of the caern, was utterly despicable. The only other time she had witnessed such carnage, had been during Black Tooth's slaughter of the Ajaba at the Hyena King's Court. It had been the very moment she had refused to follow his orders...an action she had paid dearly for. She felt sick, and tried to force those memories out of her mind. No true Simba, not even the violent Amadu'o, would commit such a senseless slaughter ever again. Not unless they had fallen to the Wyrm.
After the raid the pride of Simba-like creatures had disappeared into the night, heading north. The team of Pentex soldiers, however, headed in an easterly direction. She initially wanted to follow the first group, curious as she was about the dark Simba, but eventually she decided to follow the soldiers. By carrying corpses of dead Simba to the battlefield, they played a rather sinister part in the operation. She was appalled by it, and the thought of interfering and putting a stop to their nasty practice, had crossed her mind several times. After a journey through the desert that had lasted nearly two days, the humvee and the truck had stopped in this valley, near the city of Cairo. About an hour ago a car and some motorcycles had arrived. It was obvious that the latter had come to meet the soldiers.
Suddenly the woman in the pond froze. She turned and stared in the Huntress' direction. The Simba held her breath, and pressed her body flat against the soil. Had she somehow been spotted? The woman at the far bank noticed her teammate's sudden vigilance. She lifted her machine gun and started circling the pond slowly, while searching the undergrowth for a possible threat. If they did discover her, she was in a predicament. She would be forced to attack. There was no more than six meters between her and the woman in the pond. She could easily jump this Carlotta and take her out, before the woman could do her damage. But that would mean giving the tall woman with the gun a clear shot. And once she landed in the water, it would take her even longer to reach the far bank and her second opponent. Moreover, the other soldiers would respond quickly if any shots were to be fired.
The Huntress tensed as something large was forcefully lifted into the air from the undergrowth less than two meters to her right. She glanced up at a crocodile, as it was held in mid air some meters above her by what seemed like invisible ropes.
"Well, look at that! I knew that something was wrong with this pond when I first entered. Look at the size of that monster," Carlotta uttered. The naked woman in the pool seemed to gain confidence while containing the reptile with her mind, and a cold grin formed on her face. She turned out to be a lot stronger than the Simba had initially estimated.
"Nice catch, girl! Now let me handle it. Just keep her still for me." Charlene took a shooting stance, aimed her automatic rifle, and fired three short bursts. The Huntress covered her eyes with a paw in a reflex as the animal's blood rained down in small drops, covering papyrus leaves as well as her fur. A moment later the remains of the dead crocodile were dropped right beside her. Its head and torso were filled with bullet holes. "I bet you that was at least seven points, " the tall woman yelled.
"Are you crazy? You kill that tiny croc with some bursts of your rifle, and you start bragging about seven points? No more than five, Charlene!"
The undergrowth not far from the tall woman stirred and a second crocodile was lifted into the air. Charlene obviously had not spotted the reptile before, and jumped sideways into the pond in reflex. She cursed when she realised her pants were soaked. She slowly waded toward her teammate, keeping her gun aimed at her levitating prey. Another burst followed, and the dead animal was dropped on the bank like a sack of potatoes.
Meanwhile a third crocodile slid into the water of the pond, making its way toward the two women. Both Carlotta and Charlene screamed with pleasure and a moment later the beast was lifted into the air, like its kin before him. Charlene hung her rifle across her shoulder, grabbed her rocket launcher, and aimed it at the reptile, while bragging some more about points...
The Huntress used the moment to escape the violent scene. She rose and stealthily trotted away through the brush. Her feline form blended well with the leaves, twigs and bamboo stems. Soon she was well away from the rabid soldiers. However, the protective undergrowth seemed to lead her toward the vehicles. She glanced to her left, where she saw a big patch of open terrain. Nothing there to hide behind. To her right another soldier rushed past her toward the pond. No safe retreat there either. She had no choice but to approach the vehicles. Maybe she could pass them without being noticed and escape through the orchard, ahead?
When the Simba reached the far edge of the undergrowth, she halted for a moment to observed her surroundings. In front of her a concrete road passed through the valley from East to West. On this side of the road the humvee was parked, while on the opposite side a large truck stood in the shadow of some palm trees. A bit further to the east a black Range Rover stood to the right side of the road. Two Off-Road motorcycles were parked behind it. A small group of soldiers stood next to the Range Rover, talking. It was getting dark, and she could hardly see them from this distance. The Huntress did not spot anyone near the humvee or the truck. She would probably be able to cross the road and enter the orchard unnoticed. There was certainly no way back.
The Huntress finally left the protective brush and trotted toward the orchard. When she was halfway, she noticed movement at the entrance. A soldier was leaning against an iron fence, while smoking a cigarette. In his right hand he held a machine gun. He was not facing her at the moment, but the odds that he would turn and spot her before she reached him, were significant. Should she take him down despite the risk of being shot and injured? She glanced at the group of soldiers near the Range Rover. They seemed to be moving her way now, but it was hard to tell in this darkness. The Simba did not waste another moment, and rushed toward the truck. When she arrived at the vehicle's rear, she noticed the lid was fastened, barring her entry. She quickly changed into her human form, untied the lid's cords with her hands, and climbed inside. From within she refastened the lid. The soldiers would not suspect a Simba to take refuge in their truck. She hoped they would not decide to check its cargo, but if they did...she would not go down without a fight!
Jomo Skullcrusher closed his eyes, while resting his head against the passenger window of the long distance bus. The Ajaba was tired, but before he could lay his head down, he had had to make sure the bus was safe. In the past year there had been multiple murder attempts on Kisasi's life, and he was sure there were more to come. He had chosen three seats for him and his travel companions all the way in the back of the bus. From that position he would be able to observe the other passengers, without them being able to watch him. They would have to turn around to do so, and that would give them away. Moreover, he had managed to turn the mirror above the front entrance slightly upward, so people could not make use of its reflection to watch him. The bus driver had not even noticed his action. Being vigilant was surely not the good man's job. Not here, driving a rusty bus in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Jomo's job, however, was exactly that. Being vigilant.
Kisasi sat in the seat directly in front of him. His fellow Ajaba was in conversation with Sashet Davis, a young Bubasti who had joined them recently. Sashet had been sent by Shroud-of-Night to serve as Kisasi's political advisor. She was from Cairo and knew a lot about the different factions within the capital city. She was supposed to help Kisasi and Kiva reunite the Ahadi. Jomo did not know what to make of Sashet. She acted like a stubborn brat most of the time, ignoring his safety rules. How was he to keep Kisasi safe with the Bubasti around? Kisasi, however, seemed to trust Sashet, so he would just have to put up with her. For now anyway.
"Shroud's message said that both Walks-With-Might and Lord Hakimu will be present at the meeting tonight," Sashet said. Jomo gritted his teeth, angry at her for not lowering her voice. If there were spies or assassins in this bus, they would be able to overhear their conversation with ease, despite the loud snoring noise of the bus' engine. The Bubasti ignored him, and kept her eyes on Kisasi. "However, the Swara and the Mokole have not responded to our invitation yet. The Amadu'o flat out refused to send a representative."
"So we have Ajaba, Bubasti, Silent Striders, Mayi'o Simba, and Kiva represents the Bageera. That makes five factions," Kisasi answered thoughtfully. "That is promising for a first meeting...but not enough to turn the tide."
His two travel companions seemed to enjoy their long bus ride to Cairo. Their minds were focused on the goal of rebuilding the Ahadi Block and restoring safety in the lands of Africa. They did not share Jomo's worries about the mere safety at their current destination. He knew some of the dangers the capital harbored. Vampires had their powerbase in the city, and they ruled the streets at night. The Pentex Corporation maintained a large influence in trade and politics and had security forces and corrupt policemen patrol the city during the day. Moreover, the group of shape shifters Kisasi was to meet, were an odd mix of violent creatures one could hardly trust. Kiva was an exception, ofcourse. The elder Bageera and Kisasi had laid the very foundation for the Ahadi, and Kiva was the only one he trusted alone with his mistress.
Jomo had met Kisasi two years ago, when he was begging on the streets of Djibouti. Other Fera shunned him because he was a hermophrodite. Ordinary people looked down on him, yelled at him and chased him away. The young Ajaba, however, had approached him, taking his large, worn hands into hers, and asked him if he would serve as her guide for a few days. Her big eyes had been kind and full of energy, and her voice had been calm and friendly. Kisasi's heart was pure and despite the mud on his face, the dust on the rags he wore and the stench of his unwashed body, she had noticed his ability. He had told her about his skill with staves and spears, and had offered his services. She had gladly accepted him, and ever since he had served as her personal bodyguard. She had taken care of him like a little sister would, providing food and clothing, while he protected her like a dedicated older brother.
"I am worried about the recent developments," Kisasi continued. "First of all the burning of villages in the South a week ago. The Bageera have been hit hard by the raids, and lost quite a number of their kinfolk. A survivor, a boy named Mapute, has blamed the Garou. It is rumored that corpses of Garou have been found in one of the villages. Enbata Lord-of-Thorny-Skies, furious about the killings, has formed a Tekla to hunt down the offenders."
"The latest news was about an assault on Healing Dawn caern two days ago," Sashet answered. "The Temple and village have been completely destroyed. The Garou present were slaughtered to the last wolf. The corpses of Simba have later been found at the scene. There was no trace of Wyrm taint. The Garou are furious, and seek revenge against the Werelions."
Jomo put his head back against the window, and closed his eyes oncemore. He was so tired. Sashet had called him paranoid and overprotective the first day they met. Maybe she was right? He had been watching the other passengers for hours now. None of them had shown even the slightest interest in Kisasi. If he could just let go and sleep for a bit. In a couple of hours they would reach the capital, and his vigilance would be needed there.
"The sooner we arrive in Cairo, the better. We must inform Kiva. She is the only one who can reign in Enbata. And we must convince Walks with Might to keep the Garou in check until we know for sure who the attackers are."
The sound of a motorcycle caused Jomo to open his eyes again. The noise came from behind the bus and gradually increased in intensity. The Ajaba peered through the rear window to see the headlight of an Off-Road motorcycle rapidly closing in. A moment later the vehicle appeared next to the bus. Jomo could make out a man and a woman in soldier fatigues riding it. When the woman drew a pistol, he was wide awake. The woman aimed her weapon at the rear tire, and shot twice. BANG! The tire exploded and the bus shook heavily. The driver managed to keep it on the road, but was forced to slow down. Eventually it came to a full stop.
Jomo rose from his seat, grabbed Kisasi and pulled her quickly down to the aisle floor between the rows of seats. She stared at him in shock, but his confident, soothing voice helped to calm her down. "It's alright. Give me a moment to find out who they are and what they want. Just keep your head down and stay between the seats." He crawled to a side window and took a peek at the two attackers, who were now clearly visible in the light shining from the bus. The driver of the motorcycle, a grim faced man in a dark blue fatigue, had just parked his vehicle, and made his way to the back of the bus. There he took position, loading the shotgun he carried. Jomo noticed the emblem he wore on his upper arm. It depicted an eagle swooping down in front of an orange sunburst. The woman who had shot at the tire, stood to the side of the bus in front of the entrance door. She was dark and slender, almost pretty, but her eyes looked fierce. The heavy pistol in her hands was aimed at the door, ready to fire.
"It seems you were right about a threat to our safety after all, mister bodyguard. I take back what I said earlier about you being paranoid. Judging from their uniforms and the emblem, these are members of a Pentex First Team! I have seen such soldiers in Cairo before."
Jomo glanced to the seat in front of him, where Sashet still sat as if the bus driver had merely stopped for gas. "What are you doing? Are you planning to catch one of their bullets? Get away from the window and take cover in the aisle next to Kisasi." He wanted to grab the Bubasti and pull her out of the way like he had done with his fellow Ajaba, but the noise coming from the road ahead caught his attention. Headlights were visible now, growing every second, piercing through the darkness outside like fangs through skin. An army humvee approached and finally parked some meters in front of the bus, blocking its path. From behind the humvee a large truck drove up to park next to the motorcycle.
Sashet glanced at Kisasi, and finally met his eyes. "The First Teams mostly consist of war veterans and Fomori. They are expert killers and well-armed as you can see. They must have known we were coming."
The door of the truck was thrown open and a broad shouldered man jumped out. The newcomer wore his hair in a crew cut. His fatigue was similar to that of the other soldiers except for missing two sleeves. Jomo noticed the odd vein-like structure on the man's muscled arms. He carried a sub machine gun, and took position between the dark woman and the man with the shotgun. The Ajaba's attention was drawn by another man, who had just climbed out of the humvee. This one was balding, probably in his forties, and radiated the confidence and determination of a commander. His fatigue depicted a number of decorations apart from the Team's emblem. Moreover, next to guns, the man carried a sabre at his hip. He raised a megaphone while walking toward the bus.
"OK, LISTEN UP. ME AND MY TEAM ARE HERE TO INTERCEPT A WANTED CRIMINAL. I WANT ALL PASSENGERS TO EXIT THE BUS IN AN ORDERLY FASHION AND FORM A NEAT LITTLE ROW OUTSIDE. AFTER WE HAVE TAKEN THIS CRIMINAL INTO CUSTODY, THE REST OF YOU ARE FREE TO CONTINUE YOUR JOURNEY. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU NOT TO RESIST US!"
Jomo studied the army vehicles, searching for a way to escape. The humvee was equipped with a heavy machine gun, which was manned by another woman. She was aiming it at the bus' windshield. If she should decide to use it, hell would be unleashed on them and the inside of the bus would turn into a slaughterhouse. They were trapped like rats.
"I will give myself up. We have no choice," Kisasi whispered, while watching the driver and the other passengers get up and make their way to the door.
"Are you mad?," Jomo exclaimed, meeting her eyes. "They will shoot you on the spot, and when you are dead they will kill us and the other passengers anyway!"
"You don't know that for sure, Jomo!"
"What you say is rather likely... but I think Kisasi is right," Sashet interrupted her. "If we stay here, they will just come and get us. We have no guns, and the bus only has one exit. If we go outside with the other passengers and she surrenders, it will buy the two of us time to think of something."
Kisasi nodded at him. Jomo released a groan, and his hands felt for his short spears. But when he tried to pull the weapons free from the leather vessel, his fellow Ajaba lay her hand on his.
"Please do not throw your life away, Skullcrusher. Be sensible and at least follow us outside. Do what you must once they capture me, but not here. Not yet!"
Anger surged inside of Jomo's stomach. He was all that stood between Kisasi and a certain death. But he felt helpless, useless at the moment. There was no room in the cabin to wield his spears effectively. The confined area would hamper him more than it would their opponents. The only sensible thing to do was to follow the rest outside. He nodded at his mistress, and gave Sashet a smirk. He left the lid of the vessel, that held his weapons, open. Then he pulled the back of his collar aside, making just enough room to shove the vessel inside to hide against his back. Then he took his backpack from the far seat and hung it across his shoulders. Now all he needed was luck.
He got up and followed Kisasi and Sashet outside. Once on the road they joined the line of passengers, who stood with their back along the side of the bus. Jomo stood all the way to the right, with Kisasi to his left and Sashet between her and the driver. The balding commander of the soldiers waited patiently for the row to form. Then he calmly walked along the row, stopping in front of every passenger to take a close look at him or her. When he reached Kisasi, a victorious smile formed on his face. He took her chin between his thumb and forefinger, and studied her intently.
"I cannot believe a girl as young as you is considered such a menace by the Board of Directors. But I am always willing to squash a few desert insects, if that will result in a considerable bonus for the Team." Then the leader of the First Team drew one of his guns, pointed it at Kisasi's chest and pulled the trigger. A small dart hit the girl in her right breast, causing her to stumble on her feet. A moment later she collapsed and fell to the ground. The balding commander grinned, and put away his tranquilizer gun. "Elwood. Put the Ajaba in the back of the truck. Then get behind the wheel and deliver her to Murgatroyd. Do not stop for anyone or anything. If something blocks your path, kill it."
Jomo was trembling with fury. He watched the heavy muscled soldier pick up his fellow Ajaba, throw her across his right shoulder as if she were a sack of grain and carry her to the army truck. But despite his anger, he remained where he was. Something told him to wait. Something reminded him of the firearms that were aimed at him and the other passengers.
"Well, since we now have what we came for, I think it is time to let you all go," the commander continued. "Team, shoot them all, and burn the..."
Before the leader of the First Team could finish his sentence, he began to stutter and stammer. His eyes grew wide and he dropped his megaphone, raising both hands to his mouth. The dark woman opened her mouth in response, but only gibberish came out. She lowered her pistol, while clearing her throat and desperately trying to make an appropriate sentence.
This moment of confusion was apparently what Sashet had been waiting for. The Bubasti left the row of passengers, running straight toward the commander. But before she reached him, something invisible intercepted her, pulling her into the air. Sashet hung two meters above the road, struggling helplessly, while the dark woman stared up at her like a spider observing a fly, caught in her web. She did not look pretty anymore. She had become a ruthless Fomori killing machine.
By capturing Sashet, the Fomori seemed to have negated the Bubasti's gift. She was able to speak again. "Charlene, do me a favor and rip this little pain in the ass apart with your big gun. I will be generous and let you earn six points for the kill," she barked toward to woman manning humvee. The man with the shotgun responded by moving out of the probable line of fire.
Jomo exploded into action, heaving his arms behind his head and drawing his short spears out of the hidden vessel. He rushed toward the dark woman, changing into Crinos Form while he ran. The Ajaba moved so quickly that the Fomori had no time to aim her heavy pistol at him. The moment he reached her, he parried the pistol with one of his short spears, while thrusting the second spear into her chest. The metal point impaled her just below her left collarbone, exiting her back through her shoulder blade. The dark woman screamed in agony, and was forced to release Sashet, who dropped from midair, landing on the asphalt.
The Bubasti immediately rejoined the skirmish she had initiated, engaging the man with the shotgun. The latter had his weapon aimed at Jomo, but hesitated to fire, obviously trying to avoid hitting his now wounded teammate. The man quickly turned toward Sashet and fired, but missed the Bubasti miraculously. Sashet had somehow duplicated herself using another gift. In the artificial light of the vehicles it was hard to see which of the moving shadows was the Bubasti. He reloaded the shotgun, but was jumped by Sashet before he could fire a second time.
Jomo glanced in the direction the broad shouldered soldier was taking Kisasi. He could see the outlines of a man dropping something in the back of the truck. That was when he felt something penetrating his stomach. It was followed by an intense pain that made him gnash his fangs. Another small projectile missed his head only just. He searched for the source of the arms fire and found the commander shooting at him. The Ajaba bend down, grabbed the dark woman and lifted her in front of him, like an organic shield. Then he engaged his opponent. His mind was focused on saving Kisasi. She was all that mattered to him!
The Huntress stood in the back of the moving truck, supporting herself with one hand, while holding a large flashlight in the other. She was busy examining the cargo. The heavy, wooden crates had been piled up three layers high, the piles forming a short but solid wall. Each crate had a company logo branded on the side boards. The name King Breweries and Distilleries was prominently present, next to Nastrum Enterprises. The Simba had heard or read those names before, but she didn't recall where exactly. In her human form she could just reach the lid of the top crates and peek inside. The first one was filled with four large devices. They looked like oddly shaped vacuum cleaners to her. However, she suspected these to have a different purpose. They radiated a foul smell that she would recognize anywhere. Wyrm taint! The Huntress quickly closed the lid and went on to inspect the next pile. The upper crate turned out to be filled with firearms. She recognized pistols, handguns, but also larger weapons. The top crate of the third pile revealed food. Cans of beans, instant coffee, plastic vessels of water, packets of vitamin bars and bottles of liquor. These soldiers carried enough supplies with them to be able to survive for months in a hostile environment. That's when she realized that the vehicle was slowing down.
The Simba instantly dropped the lid and glanced around her, searching the cargo area with her flashlight for the best place to hide. The crates she had opened were filled to the brim, and there were no other large objects in the truck. She switched off the light and placed it on the floor where she had found it. Then she changed into her feline form and lay down behind the wall of crates. Here she would not be visible from the entrance at the vehicle's rear. But if a soldier decided to take a peek inside, she would eventually be forced to confront him.
The Huntress rubbed a paw across her muzzle in frustration. She was fed up with her lonely journey through the lands of Africa. Anywhere she went, she was confronted with some form of deep misery or grave injustice. Somehow she had felt responsible, as if it was up to her to act in order to change things. But every time her head had filled with doubts and selfpity, which caused her to flee the scene and leave creatures behind to suffer and die. Why was it so hard for her to choose a side in this conflict? It was as if she was cursed by her former affiliation with Black Tooth. She remembered his final words to her. He had said that she, like him, had become part of the Wyrm. Maybe he had been right all along?
The Simba felt how the truck came to a full stop. She could hear voices outside. Some of those voices she recognized as those of the soldiers she had been spying on earlier that day. They were issuing commands and shouting threats. She heard someone untying the cords of the canvas truck cover from the outside. A moment later it was pushed aside and artificial light filled the cargo area. That light obviously came from the headlights of other vehicles nearby. Then something was lifted into the back of the truck and shoved further inside. She heard a man's voice. "The drugs from the tranquilizer dart have deprived you of your strenght, Ajaba." The soldier kept silent for a short moment. He seemed busy with something. Was he tying someone up? "You won't be able to walk, let alone shapeshift. You can talk, but any real effort to shout or crawl away could cause you to lose consciousness. So be a good girl and stay put until I come and get you later. Do we have a deal, or do I need to rough you up a bit first?"
The Huntress frowned. So one of the soldiers had brought a prisoner? A Werehyena? If that prisoner was important enough to be kept alive, she must be very valuable to these violent people. The Simba waited until the man had closed the canvas cover. Darkness filled the cargo area once more. She could hear the soldier whistling outside the truck as he made his way to the driver's cabin. Only when she heard him open the cabin door, she dared approach the prisoner. Not that she was scared. Just careful. The Huntress glanced around the corner of the pile of crates. On the floor near the canvas lay a dark figure. She trotted toward the flashlight in her feline form, and changed back into her human form to pick it up and switch it on. When the Simba pointed the light at the prisoner, she frowned. In front of her lay a young, dark woman with long braided hair. She was pretty, but clearly drugged. She had trouble keeping her eyes open and could hardly lift her head up. A rope, fastened to the woman's left leg, tied her to a metal ring on the corner beam. There was initial surprise in the prisoner's eyes the moment she noticed the Huntress' presence. At that moment shots were fired outside. One bullet scraped the canvas, causing the Werelion to change into her Crinos form by instinct.
"You are...a Simba," the young woman stuttered.
"And you are an Ajaba," the Huntress replied, remembering the soldiers words. She observed the woman's response and expected fear and animosity, but was surprised by the woman's calm response.
"My name is Kisasi."
"My name is the Huntress. You should...hate me! I am responsible for the death of many of your kin." The words had come out before she had been able to think them through. However, they were closer to the truth than anything else she could have said. Gloom took hold of her once more. She braced herself for an outburst of anger, but the young Ajaba surprised her again. Kisasi only studied her.
"Come here, Huntress. Let me have a closer look at you."
The Simba hesitated for a moment. Was it safe to approach the Ajaba just like that? She knew first hand that Werehyenas, especially the female ones, could be formidable opponents. But this one was drugged and tied up. Moreover, she seemed utterly calm. Her doubts were dissipated and she walked toward Kisasi to finally crouch in front of her. She felt the truck shake for a moment and could hear the engine roll. The vehicle started moving again and seemed to make a wide turn.
"I can feel there is much goodness in you, Huntress. You are clearly a proud and strong Simba in nature," Kisasi whispered, while she showed a kind smile that was partly distorted by her drowsy eyes falling shut. The Ajaba managed to recover, staying erect despite the drugs in her blood, and her face showed concern. "However, I also see a deep sadness in your eyes. You seem to carry a weight on your shoulders that is eating away your soul slowly but surely."
"I...have done some things in the past. Things I am not proud of and that have haunted me ever since," the Simba managed to say, before she choked on her words. Her head hurt from the painful memories that filled her mind. The slaughter of so many Ajaba at the Hyena King's Court, the Endless Storm abandoning her in the desert, her final fight with Black Tooth, the Gloom remaining after his death, burning villages and caerns, crocodiles shot dead by trigger-happy soldiers, senseless violence...
"The weight you carry is heavier than Mount Kilimanjaro. You cannot carry a Mountain all by yourself, Simba. You must let it go. Let me help you. I forgive your past crimes here and now! In return I will ask you to join my cause. I am on my way to an important meeting in Cairo. Will you accompany me to the capital?
The Huntress frowned as she realized the Gloom was gone. The painful memories were still there, but not as prominent as before. It was as if they had been forced back to retake their regular positions in the brilliant puzzle that was her mind. She felt stronger than ever before. The cause the Ajaba had offered her, had freed her. "Yes, Kisasi, I will join your cause!"
The Ajaba forced another smile and clearly had trouble staying conscious. "I have one request, Huntress. Two of my friends are fighting those soldiers outside in an attempt to save me. Please help them escape capture and death." The next moment Kisasi collapsed. The truck had finished the turn and slowly increased its speed.
The Huntress did not waste any more time. She shifted back in her human form and untied the rope from the Ajaba's leg. Then she crouched next to Kisasi, grabbing the young woman by the arms and lifting her on her back. The Simba rose and stumbled toward the rear entrance, where she untied the lid's cords again. Carefully she lowered Kisasi across the edge until she hung less than a meter above the road. Then the Huntress let go. The Ajaba dropped on the road and was quickly swallowed by the darkness. The Huntress quickly changed into her feline form and jumped out of the truck herself. Once she stood on the road, she glanced after the truck. The backlights faded into the night.
Disclaimer: This fanfiction story was written by me to entertain fans of the genre and other interested readers. The concept of The World of Darkness, ed., however, belong to White Wolf. I do not make any money by publishing these stories, I am just writing for fun.
The Ahadi Block - Fanset Storyline
Prologue - The Razing of Healing Dawn
The Darkness opened his eyes wide and shook his large head wildly. Blood and chunks of flesh spit through the air, raining on the ground around the Hellcat and his dead opponents. He took a moment to recover from the deadly frenzy that had claimed the lives of the caern's defenders. Once his vision had fully returned, he started to examine the bodies of his victims to make sure they were all dead. Survivors could hold their grudge for years, and he did not feel like getting stabbed or shot in the back, if he could help it. Vague memories of a place called Tsavo swept through his mind. A human hunter who had escaped his wrath one night, and shot and wounded him months later. A mistake that had eventually claimed his life and the life of a packmate, the Ghost. Those memories were undoubtedly his own, but that life must have been a different one, ages ago. In any case, he had evolved into a stronger and more intelligent being. He was the battle-hardened, unchallenged leader of the Hellcats in Egypt, and the undeclared true king of all Simba.
Moreover, the razing of this caern was part of a bigger plan. No one who had seen Hellcats here could be allowed to live. Laying a smokescreen and misleading the Ahadi forces was part of the agreement. He and his Pride would do their part, and others would take over when the time was right.
Beneath him lay the mangled corpse of a large wolf. That particular guardian had posed the most significant opposition. The Garou had fought like a lion! The lifeless bodies of three Hellcats at his side were ample proof of that. It had taken the Darkness' personal involvement to put him down.
Overall, the warder and his guardians had fought bravely, but they had been no match for his Pride. He pushed his muzzle against the guardian's belly and sniffed along the bloodied fur toward the chain of human skulls decorating the Garou's neck. This had to be the wolf's most valuable possession. A trophy to keep... He hesitated for a moment, after which he took the chain from his victim, and hung it around his own neck. Then he rose and started grinning madly, baring his bloody teeth. All he smelled was the scent of death! He was its harbinger, and not even Gaia's strongest could stop him anymore!
The scene around him was chaotic to say the least. He found himself in the center of a square that was littered with bodies. Some were those of wolves, others were human corpses. Hellcats ran across the square, chasing the few survivors of the carnage. The Temple of Dandara and some of the red clay buildings around the square were on fire, illuminating the entire area. Their task here was done. It was time to clean up and leave.
"Scatterer-of-Bones, I want your report!", the Darkness shouted. He added a loud roar to his summons to emphasize it was a command to be followed immediatelly. It did not take long for his second in command to appear. The tall, skinny woman made her way through the chaos toward him. The grey dress she was wearing looked used and dirty, but she seemed to like it that way. Scatterer-of-Bones was extremely ruthless, even for a Hellcat. It was whispered among his Pride that she had once eaten her own kinfolk mother. The female Hellcat had an odd preference for human flesh, and she would go out of her way to eat her daily fill of it. But even she would not dare to cross him. Others had tried and died, and she was too smart to take the risk.
"All the guardians have been slain. We are rounding up the last kinfolk survivors. The caern is yours, my king!"
The Darkness smiled. He liked being addressed as king. He was the undisputed leader of the Hellcats, but his ambitions went further than that. He was convinced he had been an important Simba, once, and he was determined to get the recognition he deserved from his former Tribe. Black Tooth had been gone for a while now, and the Mayi'o and Amadu'o Simba had both chosen new leaders. However, he was bound to become their new King. It was only a first step. All Simba would eventually be assimilated into his Hellcat army..or slain.
Scatterer-of-Bones continued her report. "We have cleared the plains to the south, burning every village and caern to the ground. We covered our tracks thoroughly..." Her words were interrupted by the sound of an approaching desert vehicle. An army humvee appeared in one of the streets, making its way toward the square with great speed. Its headlights slashed through the twilight like giant swords of fire. The vehicle ignored the dead bodies in its path, causing the sound of crushing bones every time it struck one. Some Hellcats were forced to jump out of its way. Eventually it parked right in the middle of the square, about ten meters away from the Darkness.
"Firstly, I want you to send a messenger to Psammeticus. Inform him that we have upheld our part of the bargain, and send him the equipment and artefacts we found here. Secondly, have Calamity assemble the Pride. We will continue our scourge at the smaller villages north of here until we reach Sept of the last stone."
"I will send Tongue-Biter to Psammeticus right away! And Calamity is gathering the troops as we speak. But what about them, my king?" his second in command asked, while nodding at the humvee.
"They still serve our purpose. Let me handle them for now. When the time comes, I will let you feast on the humans among them." Scatterer-of-Bones hollered in pleasure, made a slight bow, and rushed away to execute his orders.
The Darkness now turned his full attention to the newcomers. He rose on his hind legs. His Crinos Form made him tower high above anyone else. The blood of his dead opponents covering his pelt and his fangs would put fear into the hearts of anyone. However, he knew that the men and women in the humvee were not just anyone. They were special... immune to Delirium. And they were well armed, which complicated thing. After a moment one of the doors on the right side of the desert vehicle opened, and a man in a dark blue fatigue climbed out. If the Darkness had not known the identity of these men, the emblem on the uniform would have told him. Pentex!
The man wore his black hair in a crewcut, and carried a shotgun pressed against his chest. When he spotted the Darkness, he showed a frown and came strolling towards the Hellcat. At the same time the hatch on the roof of the humvee was pushed open, and a woman appeared. She was rather tall, her hair was black, and she wore a fatigue similar to the man. She glanced around vigilantly, took hold of the heavy machine gun that was installed on the roof, and aimed it at the group of Hellcats that was gathering on the square behind the vehicle.
"I see you have slain one of their champions, Hellcat. Our Team tried to hunt that Silent Strider down a month ago, but he managed to kill one of us, and escaped with his head." the man with the crewcut said, while raising his shotgun. He pointed the barrel of his weapon at the Darkness' chest. "That chain you took from him... it belongs to me!"
The Darkness did not wait for the man with the crewcut to finish his sentence. He had been challenged in public, and needed to make an example. His Pride was watching him... He jumped forward and struck the shotgun with his claw. His strike was so powerful that the weapon was launched through the air, falling on the square's cobble stones some meters away. The man lost his balance and had to make an effort to stay on his feet. He grabbed his right upper arm in pain. Then he changed... His face grew outward into a hairy muzzle filled with sharp teeth. He grew taller, his shoulders and chest swelling like an inflated balloon, and his fatigue was torn to shreds in the proces. The man's body was covered with a pelt of white fur, and his hands had become large claws. Another Garou...but this one served the Wyrm, like him. It was called a Black Spiral Dancer.
In the meantime the woman on the roof of the humvee had turned her attention to the Darkness. The heavy machine gun was aiming at him now, and he realized the havoc it could wreak. A handful of his Hellcats was approaching the vehicle from behind, ready to climb the roof and take the woman out as soon as she fired a shot at him. This could turn ugly any moment.
"Leergo, down boy! That is no way to treat an ally. Charlene, lower that machine gun! The Darkness and his kiddy cats have done well today. We came here to support their efforts, remember?"
The Darkness glanced at the man who had just climbed out of the humvee. The newcomer was balding with a little grey hair. He carried two large devices that looked like vacuum cleaners. One he handed to Leergo, the Black Spiral Dancer. The other he pointed at the spot where the corpse of a fallen Hellcat lay. An army truck appeared across the square, and drove up to park next to the humvee. The balding man waited patiently for the truck to stop, and for another man and woman in blue fatigue to climb out. Then he gestured at the corpse.
"Elwood, draft some Hellcats to help you load their fallen brothers into the truck. Carlotta and Leergo, help me clean up the taint. When we are finished, we will place the three Simba we killed yesterday between the fallen Garou. That will cause the necessary devision, I bet!"
The teammembers all acknowledged the orders of their apparent leader with a clear "yes sir", except for Leergo. He initially cursed.
"What was that, Leergo? I didn't quite hear you there. Repeat yourself!"
"I said YES SIR!"
The Darkness gestured the other Hellcats to back down and follow the balding man's instructions. He glanced one more time at the Black Spiral Dancer. That one was still eyeing him fiercely, while he commenced cleaning the area with his big vacuum device. The Darkness turned around and grinned. A time would come when there was no need for him to tolerate these Pentex men. And he would make sure to give his newfound friend Leergo the attention he was so eagerly asking for.
Buries-the-Dead quickened her pace when she neared the bawn of the Healing Dawn caern. The Ahroun had known that something was wrong after noticing the rising smoke above the hills. The small cookfires of the village could hardly produce a cloud of that magnitude. Moreover, the pitch black colour of the smoke indicated that something which was not meant to be burned, had caught fire. The caern must have suffered from an attack. Could the Followers of Set have overrun the caern's defenses? That seemed hardly possible. The Healing Dawn caern was a regular meeting-point for vampire-hunting Garou. There were veteran Silent Striders among the guardians, who knew how to deal with the leeches and their cult. But who else could have attacked?
When she reached the first houses, she noticed Njama the messenger. The Ajaba had rushed ahead in his Hyaena Form to scout for possible intruders at the scene. Njama had taken position at the edge of the central market square. He howled for them to join him quick. She hurried toward him, holding a hand on her Klaive. The invaders could still be at the scene, but she was ready for anything.
What she found when she reached the square was utter destruction. The acient Temple building was burning heavily. The other structures were mere piles of smoldering ash. Bodies of slain Garou and kinfolk covered the square like a chaotic carpet of misery and death. She recognized some of them. Ahmed Night-Sands and Exalted of Gaia, both members of the Children of Gaia, lay lifeless at the entrance to the square. Ahmed had been the Warder of this caern. Exalted had been the Gatekeeper. Their mutilated bodies showed signs of a heavy struggle. Entering the square, close to Njama's position, she found the corpse of Baha Toils-by-Night. Her fellow Silent Strider had been Keeper of the Land. She cursed and glanced across the square. "What have you got for me, Njama?"
"The culprits are gone. I have examined their tracks. The raid must have taken place at night. They left again before dawn," her Ajaba packmate answered. The werehyena had joined her only recently, and it had taken her some time to get used to him. Njama had his gloomy moments, when he just stared in front of him, mumbling about the loss of his kin. But he was by far the best scout she had met in her homeland, and he had proven to be extremely loyal to her.
"Njama, I want you to search the village for survivors. Maybe someone managed to escape this carnage?" The Ajaba nodded in confirmation, turned, and disappeared in a street to her right.
Buries-the-Dead adjusted her veil and glanced across her shoulder to see if her other packmates had caught up yet. Sam Patel and Althea Baneslayer were not far behind her, studying the destruction in disbelief. It was hard to comprehend that the peaceful caern they had left behind only three days ago, was no more. Her pack had used Healing Dawn as their homebase, replenishing their health and gnosis in between expeditions. That advantage had now been lost. It would seriously effect their offensive capability in their struggle with the Followers of Set.
She turned her attention back to the square, and her eye fell on a pile of bodies in the very center. She made her way towards the pile, and her worry increased with every step. When she was about ten meters away from the pile she recognized a close friend. He lay motionless in his wolf form, his body torn apart in a puddle of dried blood. "Stalks-Death! NO!," she howled, and fell down on her knees, next to his body. Her friend, a legend among Silent Striders, had returned to their homeland to help turn the tide against their old enemies. He had come to Healing Dawn at her request, and had joined the guardians recently. When a Garou like him fell... it was time for contemplation. A hundred thoughts were racing through her mind. Utter rage started boiling in her stomach.
"I will get the ones who did this! I will hunt them down and make them pay," she exclaimed.
"Calm down. We need to keep our heads together," she heard Sam respond. The Galliard was more than a friend. He was more or less her concience. Sam could focus on what was really important and sensible, even in extreme circumstances. And she needed just that. Sense...to push back her anger. Her thirst for revenge. That thirst would cause her to do things she might regret.
"I am calm, Sam! And I am gonna find the bastards who are responsible for this!", she shouted back at him. Touching the slain Philodox's pelt, she noticed that his chain of skulls was gone. She scanned the sandy ground around her to find it, but without succes.
"You do realize that we have lost our only means to replenish our gnosis and to regenerate in these lands, don't you? Moreover, we are only four! That is what I mean with keeping a clear head."
"Well, what do you suggest we do?," she asked him.
Sam folded his arms and stared up at the clouds. He always did that when he was considering their options. "I would suggest that we travel to Cairo and the sept of the Last Stone. I believe Walks-With-Might resides there. We should convince him and other Striders to join us. Only when we have the appropriate numbers, we should attempt to hunt down the ones responsible for this."
"Simba! The attackers must have been Simba," Althea said suddenly, interrupting their heated discussion. The Black Furie led them to the corpse of a lion. "A bit to the north I saw another dead Werelion. A Pride must have forced their way inside the bawn. They must have had considerable numbers to create such destruction."
Buries-the-Dead was silent for a moment. She studied the corpse of the Simba, but eventually she shook her head. "I am sorry Sam, but I have to find the killer of Stalks-Death and the others. This is where our ways part!," she said calmly. Then she turned and walked south, leaving the square and her packmates behind.
"Buries! Be sensible for once... You do not even know who killed our friends," Sam shouted after her. She ignored him with pain in her heart. He was right that the wise thing to do was regroup and recover. But he was deadwrong about her not knowing who the killer of her friend was. She would recognize him by the trophy he had taken... the chain of skulls. And when she did find him, her revenge would be legendary.
Shari gazed at the lone creature running toward their position. The hot rays of the desert sun shone on the Ajaba's muzzle, and he yearned for some water. "What do you make of it, Ironjaw?", he asked, while he let his tongue stick out of his mouth, panting.
"It looks much like a Simba, but something tells me that it is not. Its scent is different, ...tainted!", his fellow Ajaba answered him with a hoarse voice. Shari's nose had not served him well since he had suffered a severe injury during a skirmish with a cornered Simba two months ago. He had managed to kill the Werelion, and his body had recovered, except for his snout which seemed permanently effected. But he trusted Ironjaw's sense of smell on stakeouts like this one. She had been right on previous occasions.
Moreover, there was something odd about a Simba running this far into the desert all by itself. Werelions always ran with their Pride. If you spotted one, others would certainly be lurking about, ready to jump you. However, the area here consisted of low sanddunes and shallow valleys in between. There was no real vegetation to speak of, which meant no useful cover to hide behind. He and his packmate had chosen the highest dune overlooking a route that was regularly used by travellers crossing this part of the desert. The turret of a rusty tank, probably destroyed and left behind during WWII, was their only cover.
"Could this be an ambush in any way?", he asked his packmate. He needed to be sure, and he had come to value Ironjaw's opinion. The two of them had joined forces out of mere necessity. The Ajaba had been brought to the brink of extinction during the battle at the Hyena King's court, years ago. The few survivors had scattered across the lands and were still being hunted down by the Simba. Shari carried great resentment toward the Bastet for their atrocity. He swore to take revenge on all Werecats, but had come to realized he could not accomplish such a grand task all by himself. Ironjaw shared his resentment, and they had agreed to work together. She had her own views on how to accomplish their goals, but he knew he could trust her judgement.
"I seriously doubt that! We would have spotted any other Bastet in the immediate vicinity by now. And they would be upwind, so I would have caught their scent, like I caught this one's."
Shari nodded thoughtfully. "Let us take him out than," he barked, and rose from their hidingplace on the sanddune. He stepped on top of the steel turret, and started a chuckle that became louder and louder. Eventually it turned into the mad laughter only an Ajaba could produce. Laughter of the Soul was a powerful gift that caused fear in the hearts of any opponent, however brave. The creature halted and froze for a moment. Then it glanced around in confusion, until it finally spotted him. Shari had the urge to attack immediatelly, but he managed to control himself. It would be foolish to just storm this creature, without backup. If it wasn't a Simba but a servant of the Wyrm, it could be something very nasty. He remembered his previous encounters with hideous things in these lands. Things that could have crawled straight out of a nightmare. He touched his snout with his paw, to remind himself not to underestimate his opponent...ever again.
He noticed Ironjaw was gone. His fellow Ajaba had used the moment to rush down the other side of the sanddune, out of the creatures line of sight. She would circle their enemy's position, and attack it from behind. The woman preferred to fight in her human form during expeditions like these. She was very skilled with the assegai and a dagger she carried with her. Shari would rather use his claws and fangs to kill, than a piece of cold metal. He was easily the most powerful Ajaba left alive in this part of the continent. However, he realized there were still some Bastet that could match him in raw physical strenght. That was why he had chosen to team up with Ironjaw. She did complement him well for the task that lay ahead.
Suddenly the creature released a powerful roar that appeared to bolster up its courage. When it tried to continue its path past Shari, the Ajaba decided it was time to engage his enemy. He jumped off of the turret and ran down the slope of the sanddune to cut it off. It gave him an opportunity to study the creature from upclose. Whatever it was, it must have been Simba once... Lion manes flowed prominently along its giant head and shoulders. Its torso was large, made up of powerful muscles and solid bones. Moreover, its roar resembled the roars Shari had heard during his previous encounters with Werelions. A sound very different from other Bastet.
But there were distinctions too. Odd ones. The creature's pelt and manes were a dark red colour, that made Shari think of freshly spilled blood. No Simba would want to be seen with such a stained pelt. Its profile was also slightly disfigured, similar to the distorted form of a Metis. The beast's eyes were an unusual green, like emeralds, and its tongue was thin and awkwardly long, with a forked tip like that of a snake. The tongue hung down from its beak, pushing out between two sharp fangs in its lower jaw. The creature was darn ugly for a Werelion.
The red Simba seemed intend on protecting a cotton travelbag that hung across its shoulder. It kept one paw on the top flap as if to make sure it was still shut. That meant something valuable must be inside.
Shari rushed forward and struck his opponent with a powerful claw attack. The red Simba managed to evade the attack by quickly turning away. It was obvious now that it tried to avoid combat, but he would not let it escape. The Ajaba launched forward with his beak. His fangs closed around the leather shoulderstrap of the travelbag and cut straight through. The bag dropped in the hot sand. Shari stopped and eyed it with interest. That caused the creature to turn in alarm. It released another roar, full of terror and desperation, and finally it rushed at him. Shari brazed himself for a bloody fight with his enemy. But just before the red Simba reached him, it froze...and fell forward in the sand like a heavy log...dead. The shaft of an assegai stuck out from its upper back, the blade buried deep in its torso.
"I aimed for the upper spine to paralyze it, but I think I impaled its heart too. It went down without a sound. Are you alright?", he heard Ironjaw shout at him. His packmate walked over to the corpse to examine it. When she was sure the creature was dead, she took out her dagger, cut off a strand of its redish manes, and put her trophy away in a little plastic canister. Then she pulled her assegai free and started cleaning off the blood with an old cloth.
"Yes, I am fine. That wasn't much of a fight anyway. You killed it just when it started to show some resistence. Oh, well," Shari answered her. He turned his attention to the bag. He changed into his human form, crouched, and pulled the cotton object toward him. Then he opened it quriously. The first thing he found was a steel drink bottle. It was filled to the brim with water. He took it out and drank his fill, pouring the remainder across his face. What he discovered next made him frown.
"Diamonds! The bag is full of them. Leather sacks with tiny ones, and one sack with large ones. They must be worth a fortune together!" he exclaimed.
Ironjaw joined him and examined their find. She shook her head while stroking a hand through her brisky hair. "I'm confused. What would a lone Simba like our red friend here do with a fortune like this in the middle of a desert? He must be a courier of some sort."
"But a courier for whom? For his Pride? Or maybe he is working for a Wyrm faction? You said he was tainted..."
"There is only one way to find out. He was heading north, right? What is north of this desert?"
"Well, two days north of here is Healing dawn caern. It is managed by a Garou sept. I never went there, because we had our hands full with the Bastet south of here, and I didn't wanna involve the Garou."
"I guess there needs to be a first time for everything. We have been hiding in this desert for months now, sniping off an occasional Bastet that passes through. What did we accomplish apart from a few kills and a collection of empty water bottles? How can we ever change things if we stay here?"
"So you want us to go north and search for the courier's employer? How does that help our goal?"
"Well, for starters we could travel to Healing dawn. There we make contact with the Garou, and find out what we can. If we stay here the trail might grow cold, or the Simba's employer will come here in full force to look for his treasure and dig the two of us out eventually. What use are diamonds in the middle of the desert? We could put them to good use in a village or city though. We could use them to win Ajaba, Garou and other shapeshifters for our cause.
Shari nodded while he put the sacks savely back in the bag. His packmate was right. There was no reason to stay here anymore. The diamonds offered them a chance to really change things for the Ajaba in these lands. It was time to move on and take his... well, their battle to the next level. Moments later he followed Ironjaw north, pulling the corpse of the red Simba along behind him.