The Praetorians, a fantasy cop drama. (Game thread Started/CLOSED Prologue)

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"Sergeant Novak will give you more details. This is not me letting you off."

"Captain..." Jason bowed his head. "I have no excuse for that action. I took a remark that Constable Lloyd made too personally, on top of everything else believing that he was being derogatory towards my species, and I lost my temper. Whether he was or not, it's no justification, and it will not happen again."


Later on, Jason found himself huddled against a chimney stack for warmth, in the more affluent neighbourhood that the fancy human and a couple of others had been patrolling earlier. He was good at climbing, even when in his human form. Upper body strength combined with superb natural balance were two traits that carried on from his more bestial self. Other than that though, he was unsure how else we was supposed to be of use to this mission. Using wargs to catch a warg made sense, but what use would the warg who couldn't control himself be. The others could turn into dogs or birds and whatever else at will, and thus make use of sense of sight, hearing and smell that far surpassed their human selves. This was an operation that called for precision that Jason was unsure that he could provide. It would seem that a lack of practise at using a warg form meant a lack of self-control to exert over the more animalistic urges, and growing up in the city had taught Jason to avoid using his warg form as much as possible. Should things turn ugly and he be required to suppress a suspect, or several for that matter, he could handle it easily. However, if none of the others possessed the ability to reign him in again, Jason may well return to his sense to find that he'd run amok the whole night and wrecked half of Rosenheim.

He couldn't deny that it felt good though. He'd never been in contact with so many of his own kind at once before. Something about it felt right, on an instinctive level, and so Jason put his doubts to one side.

"All clear from up here." he updated the others over his radio.

Cali was silent on their way back to the station, though Rat's kind words made her feel a little better.


Sometime later, she was preparing to go out with again, this time not only with Rat, but two other Warg officers Jason and Rory, which suited her just fine. Especially since she didn't have to deal with Archibald again...

After a quick sandwich and coffee combo, she was ready to go out on the streets again.

"Yes and yes... I suppose?" Chris replied, "The less said about my first patrol the better..."

"Ah, fair enough. I wouldn't worry about it overly much, you can't win them all, we all have rubbish patrols every now and again." Apparently you were especially likely to end up on rubbish patrols if you were Collin Vandar, seriously, chasing a Dark Kin through the sewers? In what universe was that a good idea for a human? "Look on the bright side, at least you didn't end up in the sewers, at least I think you didn't, it would just be plain weird if half the Praetorians were all scurrying around down there." Collin had a sneaking suspicion that every officer would have ended up down there by the end of the week as some kind of initiation but he chose not to mention that.

"Lucky I got out of that one unscathed, I've heard there's a whole pack of rabid Wargs living down there," actually he'd read it in a film script but these sorts of details were lost to Collin, "don't know why though, surely there are better places to live around here."

Archibald let loose a sigh as he doffed his uniform's jacket, carefully folding the garment and placing it inside a carrying bag. It wouldn't be proper to walk around Rosenheim all dressed up when he wasn't officially on duty. Now, he just had to turn in the last of his effects and actually leave the station, and his first day would be all wrapped up.

Stepping away from his desk, the carrying bag tucked under one arm, the man began to make his way towards the armory. As he walked, however, he couldn't help but notice the small gathering out in the main area. Two of the other humans on the force, enjoying a few sandwiches and chatting. It seemed nice.

Besides, he could surely spare a few more minutes before returning home to Eugénie, right?

"The less said about my first patrol the better..."

A few chuckles escaped Archibald's throat as he approached the other officers, raising a single hand in greeting. "Heh, so I wasn't the only one with an unpleasant experience then? I'm not sure if I should be happy or despondent about that."

His smile dropping a bit, Archibald eyed the two men, struggling to put names to their faces. He'd only seen them a bit earlier, and hadn't even properly been introduced. The only time he'd actually heard their names had been when the Sargent had addressed them, and since then an entire day had passed. But still...

"...Vandar and Hemingr, right? Archibald Ampére," he said with a cheery tone as he extended his free hand. "Nice to meet you."

"...Vandar and Hemingr, right? Archibald Ampére," he said with a cheery tone as he extended his free hand. "Nice to meet you."

This time Collin remembered his manners and reached out and shook Archibald's hand, it helped that his attention was no longer entirely consumed by sandwiches this time around.

"Vandar it is," replied Collin, "pleased to make your acquaintance," Collin paused to swing his feet back off the desk and tried to arrange himself in somewhat less laidback manner. Lounging about with your feet on the desk probably wasn't great for first impressions. "I'd be happy if I were you, it'd be comforting to know that however bad your situation is, your fellow officers are probably dealing with something just as bad. It works for me anyhow, at first I thought it was just me with the rotten luck but now it turns that out that all the patrols had problems. The patrol I was with was dealing with an armed Dark Kin fleeing the scene of a shooting, irritating as hell catching him let me tell you." Collin realised he was rambling again, he really needed to get out of the habit of doing that, best let someone else talk.

"Enough about that though, anything interesting go on during your patrol?" he asked.

Chris simply smiled at Collin's remark about the sewers, but was interpreted before he could reply, by another human. Chris felt rather awkward standing around with two humans and any attempt to explain his situation died in his throat. Nevertheless, that could always be said later, right? Perhaps it would teach them something about assumptions and races? That was an amusing thought. Regardless of that, he shook Archibald's hand as soon as Collin was finished with his introduction and said, "Hemingr, yes. Charmed." It seemed like everyone was referring to each other by their last names, so the Shedder just went along with it. Chris waited for Archibald's reply partly for the same reason, while going over the pronunciation of Ampére over and over again in his head. It was a name that stank of nobility, that was sure. 'Better be careful around this one.' He thought.

Archibald nodded along as Vandar summarized his patrol experiences. Part of him was a little miffed that the man hadn't shared his own name in return, but he supposed that he could just refer to the officer by his surname for now. Honestly, there were worse things that could happen.

"Enough about that though, anything interesting go on during your patrol?"

"Well, I suppose that would depend on your definition of 'interesting'," Archibald replied with a slight smile. "I certainly didn't end up pursing any criminals, I can tell you that much. The assigned route took myself and the other officers through a neighborhood that's recently been suffering from a string of thefts, and my squadmates insisted that we leave off our patrol until we had solved the case. 'Let's ignore our orders and play detective', essentially." The man punctuated his sentence with a theatrical roll of his eyes and a shake of his free hand.

"But, as luck would have it, it wasn't that difficult to figure out what had happened. Honestly, I was surprised I was apparently the first one to figure it out. It turned out that at least one Warg, possibly a group of them, had been impersonating household pets to break into the houses and steal their valuables.

"And judging by the absence of my squadmates," Archibald continued, craning his neck to look around the mostly deserted office, "it looks like the Captain threw together another patrol to go hunt down the criminal. Or criminals."

"I will admit, this bears the hallmarks of a protection racket; and now that I think about, the words of the Chef that ran out on me and Rory during the investigation, does lend credence to that particular notion. Though without next to no evidence to support this, there is little we can do at the moment; we'll just have to wait for them to make their next play."

Sameera sighed. "And that's what I think is a mistake. We're giving up the initiative. And when you lose the initiative, you'll lose the fight. I'd like it if we could also act, not just react."
She sat there in silence for a few moments, then shook her head in resignation.
"I'm looking what the food... I mean, the humans are doing and grab a sandwich." She stood up groaning and made her way back to the others.

~Where are the... ah, there they are.~ She found the object or rather objects of her desire on Collin's desk. Sameera casually walked up to the small group of humans, took a sandwich and annihalted it with one bite. The sandwiches were definitely worth their money.

"Obot bad brink..." She swallowed noisily. "Collin, about the drink... you remember? That has to wait a bit, Doc says I musn't drink alcohol any time soon."

Rat shivered under his coat. He hadn't gotten a chance to get a new shirt, and missed having two layers. To make matters worse, he had even more names to keep track of. The only one he had down at this point was Cali, who'd been with him twice now. The rest were hazy. They'd been spoken too quickly and before he knew to listen. He sniffed the air absently, not thinking to find anything new. Maybe one of the other Wargs had better sense than him, or maybe Cali would see something in the dark that he couldn't. Not that it was likely the shapeshifter would be overly active at night. They probably switched places during the day and holed up at night. As he set his jaw to keep his teeth from clattering, he found himself wishing he could do the same. Home might not always be much, but if you picked it right, it was better than this. Shaking his head of the thought, he set to searching with renewed vigor. He realized that the sooner they found something, the sooner he could get out of this night chill.

"Collin, about the drink... you remember? That has to wait a bit, Doc says I musn't drink alcohol any time soon."

"Really? That'll be something to do with the head injury won't it? Probably isn't a good idea to drink right after that I suppose." Collin shrugged, medical care was a mystery to him, as were a great many other things. "All right then, you'll just have to drown your sorrows in sandwiches for the time being, probably better for your health." Speaking of drinks, they'd better get some proper coffee in here soon, Collin didn't think he could face more of the stuff they'd had this morning.

"Did Vasir say anything about being in the sewers by the way?" asked Collin. "You can catch some real nasty stuff down there. A friend of mine once got lost down there and he was sick for ages afterwards. Kept raving something about turtles, fever was making him delirious."

The city was fairly quiet, though if one listened carefully they could hear the faint pitter patter of padded paws on pavement. All the animals, domestic house pets by appearances, came together in one place in the dark, and were suddenly illuminated by a door being opened by a man, ushering the animals in quickly. From his rooftop perch, and the way the light suddenly shown through the night, Jason could see this strange spectacle. As soon as the last animal was in the door, the man gave a quick look around and shut it tight, returning the area to darkness once more.


Captain Ackerman walked briskly through her precint. She had two more matters of business to deal with before she could even consider calling it a night. She would deal with the more frustrating of the two, since it would be faster, and she would have a reason to leave without argument if done right. She found Constable Lloyd right where she expected him to be. "Oh, Constable, one more thing I forget to mention in the office. Release the boy you caught." She leveled her eyes at him, a look that brooked no debate. "With an apology." She turned on her heel and walked smoothly away, to deal with the second matter. If she the man made a noise in response, she didn't deign to hear it.

The second officer she had business with was off in a separate room. "Vasir. Evening. I was wondering if you got around to that form I had Novak give you, Mordecai. Your skills would be especially helpful in this line of work, and I'd like to start taking advantage of them as soon as possible."

I shoulda eaten one of those damn sandwiches, Rory felt the wolf's stomach gripe at the mention of food. There'd been such a bustle for the Wargs to ship out and hunt down their kin that Rory only caught a passing glance at the food that Sameera had offered. He hadn't thought much of it at the time and now he could think of little else. Human hungers were easy enough to suppress and shunt to the side until they could be properly dealt with, but a hungry wolf... a hungry wolf wasn't always rational and Rory hadn't yet consumed the half dozen pounds of twitching, bleeding protein it required. The hunger didn't particularly hamper his current task, oh no, if anything his sense of smell was all the keener. The problem, was that most of the scent trails he'd picked up smelled absolutely delicious. So many of the wargs they hunted were small, frightened, domesticated things, all thick with the stink of prey, and the humans! Well.... Eating sentient creatures was generally frowned upon by most modern wargs, and the Red Pack were quite modern in many respects. Still... some winters were longer and harder than others, exceptions were made, and the hungry wolf remembered the pangs of the long winter.

The wolf padded along, keeping to the shadows and alleys as it completed another circuit. Stealth was key here, Rory wouldn't pass for dog and the folk about these parts of Old Town seemed to shock easily enough. The world of scents was lively enough though. The sense of smell in a wolf or a dog was a far cry from the mild things humans made due with. A wolf didn't just smell or taste a scent, he could see it, feel it, and all the world was full of the fading ghosts of people and things. Warg scent was nothing too difficult for the wolf to pick out, a blend of human and beast distinct enough to be separate from the lone sums of its parts. They were on the move, a great many of them. The wolf followed, silent, a flicker in growing gloom, hunting. The scent of small wargs grew thicker, and Rory could hear them, the pitter patter of little delicious paws. He shook his head and focused, picking up speed. He reached a clearing in the dark, empty save for the ghosts of a myriad smells, and a door. He pawed back and forth, sniffing the door's lining, a part of him far more antsy than it had any right to be, the part of him that found doors and paws incompatible. Rory sat back on his haunches and resisted the urge to howl. The nose knew, knew that at least one of his comrades was close, the big one, Jason. He was still on the clock, he was still a Praetorian, and Praetorians waited for back up. Come to think of it, Praetorians probably didn't eat key suspects. Something like a grin turned the corners of the wolf's mouth, a profoundly human expression for a lupine face to manage. Rory wondered how far his superiors would go in the name of 'cultural diversity.'

"Heads up." Jason waned though the radio as the small animals started to gather in the middle of the street. Wargs, they had to be. Jason could feel them, and even if he couldn't, no way would a bunch of regular house cats, dogs, even some rodents, budgerigars and snakes, all meet up in the black of night like this and start eating each-other. When the gang was all assembled, a door opposite opened and a man beckoned all the wargs in hurriedly, before shutting the door hastily behind them, just as Rory in the guise of his wolf padded out of the darkness on ground level.

"Cali, did you get the house number?" he asked "I can't see from up here. Oh, and remind me to bring a chew toy for Rory next time." He added, watching amusedly at how the other warg salivated all over the sidewalk.

It was pretty clear they had their perps, the only question that remained was how to strike.

Cali stood with her back against a building, peering out at the empty streets. Her attention was drawn by the crackle of the radio.

Heads up.Jason warned, and Cali looked to see a group of people standing in front of an old house. Cali, did you get the house number? I can't see from up here. Oh, and remind me to bring a chew toy for Rory next time.

Cali squinted, glancing across the street. "House number 13, I believe. What's our plan?"

"What's our plan?"

Jason took a moment to consider. Being impulsive hadn't served him well on his first patrol, but this was different. This morning he'd acted rashly with almost nothing to go on. Now, he was as certain as he could be that these were wargs, and it was highly unlikely that such a large group in this area wouldn't contain the guys they were looking for. How many wargs masquerading as house pets could their be on one street? If they were all meeting now, in the dead of night, it would seem to Jason that they were either bringing in a new haul, or planning the next one. Either way, now was the time to catch them red-handed. Wait too long, and the evidence would all be gone.

If he got it wrong though...

"Alright." he announced over the radio. "We need someone who can change into something small. A mouse or a bug, anything that can get inside that house without being noticed. I want eyes in there. The rest of us will surround the building, close off every exit we can. When we get confirmation of stolen good inside, we move in, take them by surprise, and get them all in silver before anyone even has time to think about bolting. We've got some pretty small wargs in their, and a couple of birds too, so we need everyone on their toes. If anyone gets away, I don't fancy our chances of catching them again, so let's get them all clean. Clear?"

'How come I end up making the plan again?' Jason thought to himself 'Do I exert leadership, or is it just that nobody else wants the responsibility?'

Rory felt his hackles rise. He could feel the bandoleer (a rather nifty solution to frequent bouts of nudity) wrapped around his chest vibrate slightly, the radio holstered there turned down to the near minimum settings, but still clearly audible to Rory's ears. The words pouring from it were none too pleasing. Hunt was rather... overeager, and clearly not a fellow with a mind for criminal thinking. Had the words come from Novak, Rory might have been inclined to lend them an ear, there was experience there, and a beta was a beta. This high strung pup though, this one could be trouble. No matter, Rory was used to trouble, just had to keep things calm and adjust with a steady hand.

The wolf fell away, and the red-haired human reasserted himself in one slithering moment, from fur to flesh in a blur like quicksilver. Rory knelt in the gloom and muttered into his radio, voice low and steady, "Hold off on that, Hunt. Think. We don't need a dozen and change petty thieves. Most of 'em kids, most of 'em scared. We only need one ring leader. Besides... just because some of these lads seem small, don't mean they can't get real big, real quick. And that's a whole other sort of trouble."

Rory spent a moment scanning the space around the door and found what he was looking for. There, near the roof, a ventilation shaft. He lent back into the radio, still wary. The wolf would've smelled anyone near enough to be lurking this close. This little outfit might have a touch of organization, but it was still amateur at best, "Now, give me ten minutes to look around, might even get a shot to tag the boss with something to slow him down and spook the rest, but even that's a risk. 10 minutes bags us the leader, or more importantly, his scent. They'll have at least one bolt hole inside, something leading to the sewer if they can manage it. Cali on lookout, you and Rat against this door. 10 minutes, you bust in scatter the sheep, I'll have the shepherd. If it looks too rough, I'll come out before the count is up and give you the run down."

The static voices on his radio cut through the night, and Rat grimaced as he realized what he was saying. It seemed that everyone else was perfectly in position, and he... well he wasn't really sure where he was. This part of the city, while nice for picking pockets, was also difficult to blend into when you looked like a vagrant. He'd only come here a few times, including earlier today, and everything looked so strange at night. He wished he stuck by Cali. The Night Kin could see in the night as if it were midday, maybe even better if the stories were to be believed. Perhaps her vision was almost as good. He frowned, realizing he didn't really know as much about his teammates as he should. He could hear Cali's voice crackle in across the phone, giving him the house number, and Jason issuing orders. Sighing, he realized he wouldn't be much help here either, but started jogging towards their scents. The one called Rory had turned into a wolf, it seemed, and he could pick out the predatory scent fairly easily amongst the others, and so headed towards him. Rory joined in on the radio chatter, and Rat picked up his pace slightly. He could still smell the wolf in the air, though Rory must have shifted back if he was speaking, and when he turned the corner, he could see the fellow warg in the darkness. Past him he could barely make out the numbers Cali had reported over the radio. The wolf had gotten almost to the door... "Your predator's scent," he hissed at Rory across the way. "Might have noticed and ran already." They might be amateur, just as Rory seemed to think, and Rat had certainly never heard even rumors of a warg criminal ring in this part of town before. The way they had lazily covered their tracks marked them as green, but... to have gathered this many wargs quietly, and to have stashed them all away for so long... It was much more than he'd ever heard in all his years of surviving on the streets.

Alarms began to ring in his head, and he couldn't help but let his eyes sweep for any sign of danger, though he hoped he was wrong. Hoped Rory was just as right as he was sure of. If he was, they'd be fine. But if not... had they walked right up to the front door, in full view of any well-placed lookouts?

"And that's what I think is a mistake. We're giving up the initiative. And when you lose the initiative, you'll lose the fight. I'd like it if we could also act, not just react." Sameera said with a heavy sigh. "I'm looking what the food... I mean, the humans are doing and grab a sandwich." She then groaned in resignation and left the room, leaving Mordecai alone in the makeshift medical bay.

'Whilst I understand where your coming from Sameera, sometimes all we can do is react; and need I remind you, that it is my job to save lives, not end them.' Mordecai said sounding slightly down. A minute or two later, he could hear a knock on the door.

"Enter." Mordecai said as he turned around to face the door.

"Vasir. Evening. I was wondering if you got around to that form I had Novak give you, Mordecai. Your skills would be especially helpful in this line of work, and I'd like to start taking advantage of them as soon as possible."

"Ah, evening Captain. I trust you dispensed the appropriate action towards those that were in your office earlier, cause myself and Draven could certainly hear it. And speaking of the requisition form, I was just finishing it up as you entered the room. If you'll bear with me for one more moment Captain, and I'll add the final few items." Mordecai said with a voice of sincerity as he turned back to the form and carried writing on the form for a couple more minutes before turning back and handing the form to Ackerman.

"Here you are. Whilst your looking over that, there are a couple of other items that I'll be needing to operate at any sort of efficiency. The first might seem obvious, but I'll need a dedicated medical room where I can work in; I'd say a room of this size, maybe a little bigger, haven't decided yet. As for the second, well, that can wait till once you've done reading."

"Besides... just because some of these lads seem small, don't mean they can't get real big, real quick."

'Then I guess I'll just have to get bigger.' Jason thought.

He scowled and bit his lip as Rory outlined the rest of it. He didn't like the hint of condescension there, especially seeing how getting someone on the inside had been his idea in the first place. Neither was he keen on Rory's insistence on acting alone. What sort of game was this guy playing? On the other hand, there was good sense in there too. If this outfit was even semi-professional, then chances were that they had escape routes planned, and the Praetorians barely had enough bodies here just to cover the conventional ones. They needed to prioritize.

"Alright." Jason answered "If you're confident that you can get in and out undetected, then we'll do it your way... partly." he added firmly. "You go in, identify the ring-leaders and identify the evidence, but you don't engage. When that's done, you get out and inform us what were gonna find in there. We'll get the guys in charge, but the more underlings we get as well, the more chance we have of getting confessions. If all we do is 'scatter the sheep', then the flock will just have started up again somewhere else in a week. Above all else, it's the evidence that matters. We need confessions, or we need the stolen good in their hands, preferably both. Otherwise, nothing we do tonight is gonna stick."

Rory tilted his head slightly, taking note of Rat's concerns. He shook his head softly. There were no lookouts, at least none with a strong scent profile, and if one had been clever enough to mask their scent that throughly, they'd be too clever by far to run with this lot. As for the scent of the predator, Rory shuffled closer to the other warg and whispered low, "You're from the wilds, nae? Ever hunted with a pack? The prey isn't keyed to the scent like the predator, and this lot are prey, whipped into if not born to it. I doubt they could take in the scent clear, and even if they could, they're wolves all over the city, not an unusual oder these days."

A slight frown flickered across Rory's face as Jason's reply crackled over the radio. Why so much fire for so petty a task? No one had been murdered here and the stolen items were the treasured trinkets of the poor, valuable to them no doubt, but hardly a dragon's hoard. Was Hunt still smarting from the dress down he got from the Captain? What was he so eager to prove? This wasn't about confessions, this wasn't even about arrests, this was about solving a problem, enforcing at least some small modicum of justice. Locking up a handful of street punks didn't do a damn thing. The shepherd was key, the organizer was key, without that the rest were aimless. Hell, let them flock to a new banner, that just singled out anoter ringleader for prompt dispatch. Screwing some kid's life sideways over a mess of petty theft, roughing them up and dragging them to the precinct in silver cuffs, what did that solve? Nothing. Was it so easy to forget that? Perhaps there was more work to done here than even Father suspected, if even a warg officer thought so little of his kin. Rory's stomach might've been growling something fierce, and that might've led to a few queer thoughts, but some things ran deeper than even the worst hunger. Some things were basic. Rory shook the thought from his head and focused on the task at hand, "Hunt, if the head man's in there with his hand in the muck and his back turned, I'll take the shot. Please, trust me in this, it'll prove a lot cleaner for everyone. But aye, if its too shift in there, I'll pop back out and let you know what's what. Either way, remember, ten minutes. If you ain't seen me by then, I've either wrapped this or someone's wrapped me and I'd much appreciate a bold and daring rescue."

Rory shrugged off the bandoleer around his chest, reached up and slid it through the rusted out corner of the grill over the air vent, best to keep certain effects as close on hand as possible, even if the hands meant to work them at the time were somewhat nonexistant. He paused for a moment, hesitated for just a second, something still weighing rather heavily on his mind, something that needed to be said. He offered the radio one last whisper before silencing it and stashing it with the rest, "I know everyone's blood's up, the hunt's good and all. Just remember, if it gets rough... had the world turned different, we'd be in there with 'em."

Maybe those words fell on deaf or deafened ears, but Rory hoped they'd make some bit of sense. Protocol could fly a kite and Rory couldn't have cared less about the praise or approval of others, but he could sense that urge in some. He could only hope some deeper sense of right pushed them away from it. A half dozen arrests looked pretty on a sheet of paper, but it didn't fix things. Rory was for fixing problems, all the rest was futile. Ahh but these were two legged thoughts, human concerns, and in a moment at least, human worries wouldn't matter, and the hunt would resume. Rory streched, reached deep into the vent and let himself fall away. The flesh, muscle and sinew shifted and slithered for a moment, and the man was gone, leaving only the suggestion of a serpentine tail that soon slid away into the lungs of the building, quiet as fever and with a bite twice as deadly.

The viper was at home in the dark places, and it wound its way through the building in silence until the darkness gave way to dim light. The shadows in the corner of the vent took shape for the briefest of moments, a diamond shaped head with a forked tounge flicking out and tasting the air. The shadow shape watched the room below. It's eyesight wasn't the best, but it could see well enough, and it could hear well enough, and in the flicking of its tounge it could sense a room full of heartbeats.

Jason clicked off his radio, in disgust at the failure his attempt at compromise had been. Was it always going to be like this; one guy on the squad going off to try and do the whole thing by themselves for one sketchy reason after another? Was nobody else interested in being a team player? Maybe next time the Captain or her Sergeant would have the good grace to name an actual leader to stop the unit from always breaking apart.

He still had no idea what Rory's game was, but he suspected it didn't have the same end goal as his own. Jason wanted the Praetorians to be a force that people could trust to get the job done right. He wanted people to look at his uniform with a measure of pride and respect, not suspicion and prejudice. To do that, they needed to do more than just 'tag the bosses', they needed to convict them, of crimes that were punishable by law, based on cases that were solid and watertight. Rory's attitude seemed to be that suspects were a problem to be disposed of any way he saw fit, or apparently ignored if they were ones he felt sorry for. Quite frankly, he acted more like a rival gang thug than he did an officer of the law. What was the last part of what he had said supposed to mean anyway? Jason was no stranger to the ways the world could turn. He'd grown up in the dregs of the Old Town and seen more kids than he could count turn to crime. Many of them had been his friends once. It was no excuse, the innocent had to come first. Of course he wasn't suggesting that they should be come down on like a tonne of bricks for no good reason, or have whatever testimony most suited the force beaten out of them. How had he been suggesting that? It didn't mean that their wrong-doing could just be ignored however, and how exactly was just scattering them to the four winds and leaving them to their own devices supposed to be helping them either, as Rory was apparently suggesting?

Jason had grubbed in the dirt day in and day out for years, for people who thought he was worth nothing, until they started to look at him differently. He knew what hardship was and he knew how to get out of it. He didn't know what Rory knew, but if anyone had the right to pass judgement on those who would rather steal than earn a living, it was Jason.

"Did everybody get that?" he asked into the radio. He was calm, but in his tone the real question was clear 'Are you guys all okay with this?'

Did everybody get that?

"Sure sure, guess I'm on watch then. Guess I'll just wait for a back-up call then." Cali muttered, not taking her eyes on the house.

"Here you are. Whilst your looking over that, there are a couple of other items that I'll be needing to operate at any sort of efficiency. The first might seem obvious, but I'll need a dedicated medical room where I can work in; I'd say a room of this size, maybe a little bigger, haven't decided yet. As for the second, well, that can wait till once you've done reading."

Ackerman gave a stern "Hmmm." As she took the form. She scanned over it in silence for a moment before folding it up and putting it in one of the pockets that lined her uniform. Ackerman didn't recognize half the longer words but then she wasn't the medical expert. "Pick out one of the empty rooms for yourself, Constable, we've got plenty to go around. I'll
get on the horn to HQ and see what I can wrangle you."

She couldn't promise much but the addition of a properly trained medic and on site facilities could be a big boost to their little precinct and Ackerman knew she had to claw for every boost her little crew could get right now. "While we're on the subject, would anyone else like to make any particular skills or connections known that might have been skipped over during the recruitment process?" She asked the room in general.


The street stayed quiet, its residents asleep and oblivious to the two parties and their night time antics. Novak, for his part, was content to sit back in the car and listen to the radio chatter as the new recruits were left to work things out for themselves. A little unorthodox but it was all part of the early process, besides this was a relatively small gig. They could be trusted to handle this as a group... at least that's what he thought going in. For now it seemed they were trying to go for the stealth approach. Interesting. It could work so long as none of the wargs had the necessary senses to spot, smell or hear any of them.

Of course that was when Charlie the cat appeared at the window and let out a caterwaul could have raised the dead.

The crew inside the house bolted to attention as the few that were in human form shouldered their sacks and made a break for the various exits and the collection of animals scattered into smaller groups and went to make their escape. Charlie (well, his lookalike) was unfortunately swept up in the confusion by the larger animals and left separated from the gang as each group burst into either the street or out the back of the house.

That sight that greeted the praetorians was something most would have considered interesting. A domestic stampede and a scattering of small children running as fast as their two legs would carry them, bags of loot trailing behind them.

Meanwhile, back in the house a tabby and a viper were left to have a dramatic show down. If Novak had bothered to use a notepad and pen he'd probably be scribbling in it from the sidelines. For now he grumbled as he'd probably have to call this in to the boss.

'Aw shit!'

"GET THE LOOT!" Jason yelled into his radio to no-one in particular. Anyone who was willing to listen to a damn thing he said at this point. The kids didn't matter. Many looked little older than 6 or 7 to Jason anyway. Rory had been right about at least one thing, arresting this lot would do them no good, they just had to make sure the urchins didn't get away with all the evidence. That was what they needed, if they were going to have any hope of keeping whoever was running this joint off the streets for any length of time.

Hurriedly, Jason half-sprinted to the edge of the roof, where a drain pipe awaited him, offering a fast way down. He took it, swinging down onto it and sliding half the distance to the street, before letting go and half-jumping, half-falling the rest of the way. It wasn't the most dignified landing, but Jason had learned some time ago how to avoid hurting himself with such stunts, and the acrobatics came to him naturally now. He'd landed right in front of a small boy who'd been trying to make a break for it. The kid barely reached Jason's waist in height, and the boy ran right into him, knocking himself back down on his arse as a result. As the boy could do little but stare, with eyes as wide as dinner plates, at the huge specimen who'd just materialised in front of him, Jason snatched the bag he'd been carrying as easy as, well, taking candy from a baby, before running towards the house without a second thought.

"I'M GOING IN TO BACK UP RORY." he shouted again, swinging the bag over his shoulder. He was partly sincere. After all, whatever his misgivings about the man, Rory was still a fellow officer, Jason wasn't about to leave him to contend with who-know's-what was still inside alone. On the other hand, he was also going in after the main perps, who would doubtless be wanting to make their escape too. Anyone remotely important would do. All they had to do was finger them with whatever stolen goods they could salvage tonight in questioning, and they'd have the name of whoever was at the top of this little enterprise soon enough. Jason suspected that 'honour amongst thieves' was a concept rather too romantic for this lot.

Jason barely slowed his pace when he barged into the front door, shoulder first. It was a rickety thing, and the force of Jason's impact wrenched it straight off its hinges. He didn't draw his gun though, for all he knew there might still be kids in there.

Cali cursed loudly, drawing her gun. She heard Jason shout, Get the loot! and hurried to do so... only to stop in her tracks. The Shifters were all kids, and young ones at that.

"Freeze!" She shouted, at a bunch of kids who were approaching, each carrying a small bag. All of them slid to a halt, staring wide-eyed. "Just give me the loot and I promise I'll let you go, I promise." she said softly, praying to any deity that she wouldn't have to shoot...

They scattered, most of them as amateur and green as Rory had expected, if not more so. Still, it made things easier, in a way. His hand shot out, quick as the snake his teammate had become, and lifted up one urchin, sex unknowable under the cover of night and grime, by the back of their shirt. He could hear Jason shouting from his radio, and Cali shouting from off somewhere. He put them out of his mind. The kid struggled in his grip, even tried to slip off the shirt, but he readjusted his grip onto the child's arm. The other hand grabbed a running mass of fur, nothing he could decipher in the dark but small enough to handle with one hand. It clawed at the air, assuredly finding his clothes and gloves in its attacks, but unable to tear through. He gave it a slight squeeze, a quick reminder who was in control. The weight went dead in his hands, but he could feel the rapid breathing and quivering through the material of his glove. The one in human form had done similarly, and Rat realized he must have squeezed the child's arm tight. Their eyes were glazed over, hiding away from whatever pain there was to be suffered. If it was guilt he was feeling, he had no time for it, and didn't let go. Jason had gone in after Rory, but he trusted the two of them to take care of themselves. His mind refocused on his last teammate. Had she been screaming? Was there something dangerous among the pack of children and prey? For a moment, he considered letting the two of them go and running to her aid, but that wouldn't do them any good. The others might think the kids had little value, and not worth the arrest, but he'd been on the streets, seen how crime worked. Children were often smarter than adults believed, and heard things they shouldn't, and while he wasn't interested in punishing them, they might prove valuable. "Come on," he said gruffly, and tugged the wargling along through the dark. The rest of his pack had fled into the night, and if he looked after them feeling betrayed, he did not let it be seen.

He found Cali holding three children at gunpoint, loot in hand. They were quivering, afraid. He'd even think Cali was frozen in fear if he didn't know better. Rat adopted his best menacing stare and spoke up before things went bad. "Drop it and run," he growled at them, pulling the kid roughly along for emphasis.

Cali started, seeing Rat standing a ways off, dragging another urchin along with him.

"Drop it and run," he growled, and the kids scampered, leaving their bags behind. Letting out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, Cali turned to face Rat.

"Thanks." She said, hoping she didn't sound too relieved. She glanced down at the child Rat carried with him. "What's with the kid?" Cali asked. She couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl, so she kept the pronoun vague.

"Two of them," he mentioned, gesturing vaguely with his off hand. It seemed that he had caught a mouse, or maybe a rat. He certainly hoped it was a warg, and not just some animal that had scattered with the group. That'd certainly be embarrassing. "Are you hurt?" Cali seemed on edge, but what did he know about Talin. He wondered if she had been forced to draw her weapon, or if she had done it to get things done quickly. Whether or not she had made the right choice... well it'd all worked out, hadn't it? This whole thing was a mess, and he wasn't in any position to judge.

"Are you hurt?"

Cali nodded. "N-no, I'm okay, this case just got a bit messed up is all." She glanced back at the house. "Do you think we should back the others up?"

"While we're on the subject, would anyone else like to make any particular skills or connections known that might have been skipped over during the recruitment process?"

"I did a lot of work in good old Spring Crest," offered Collin, "still know a lot of people in the industry if that's of any use. I could always ask them if they wanted to buy your life story so we can get some more funding?" Yeah, that was a pretty ridiculous idea. "They love a good crime story over there anyway."

Archibald inclined his head respectfully as Captain Ackerman entered the main office, still talking to whoever was in the room behind her. Had he still been on duty and in uniform, he likely would've given a full salute. In his civilian clothes, however, such a gesture would be a little inappropriate. Not to mention difficult, what with his jacket taking up his spare hand.

"While we're on the subject, would anyone else like to make any particular skills or connections known that might have been skipped over during the recruitment process?"

The question was an interesting one, and Archibald was more than a little surprised to hear it directed at himself. What, did that mean that the Captain didn't know who he was?

'Well then,' the officer mused as he cleared his throat, a small smile dancing across his lips, 'I'll just have to inform her.'

"Well, Captain Ackerman," Archibald began, closing his eyes and gesturing with his idle hand, "as the heir to the Ampère family, it should hopefully go without saying that I command a sizable fortune and numerous assets. Assets which, at some point in time, may prove to be invaluable to the newly reestablished Praetors. In the meantime, however, I hope that you will be satisfied with some of my more meager talents."

There was only one word that could properly describe Archibald's tone, grin, and posture: Smug. The subtle, cultured lilt that he infused his words with, the way he kept his eyes only half-open, the easy, not-quite-carefree air with which he carried himself; he was a man who fully understood his own self-worth, and who knew without a doubt that he was worth more than anybody else in the room.

"I'm proud to say," the officer continued, his self-satisfied smirk never once wavering, "that I was the salutatorian in my class at the Academy. Granted, most of my studies focused on the methods of business and industry, but I always possessed a healthy curiosity for the arts of investigation, enough to dedicate several semesters to them. Undoubtedly, you'll find my expertise to be quite beneficial.

"What's more, while I must admit I don't have the brute strength associated with some of our more... 'diverse' comrades, I can assure you that I'm quite capable in physical matters as well." Playfully, Archibald dropped into a familiar stance, his feet arranged perfectly and his free hand extended about a foot in front of his chest. "If, by some chance, you ever need somebody to cross swords for you, then I'm more than happy to be of service. Why, I took fourth at the city fencing tournament just this past year, and I'm aiming for the gold at this year's."

Standing up straight again, the officer smiled at the Captain once again. "That's all that comes to mind for now, sadly. Rest assured, if I can recall any other details that you might find helpful, I will be sure to inform you."

Rat bit his lip in thought. Rory and Jason should be enough to deal with any threats they found inside, and Jason wanted the loot gathered. He wasn't sure what they could find of the rest of the group, though. Even the stragglers had fled out of sight. He had to get these kids to Novak in the car before they wrestled out of his grip, but could he leave Cali to her own devices? "Are you stable?" he asked her, feeling that it wasn't quite the right thing to say but lacking knowledge of a better word.

"Are you stable?"

Rat's words surprised Cali, though she quickly understood his concerned. "Y-yeah, I think I can handle it." She shook her head. "Anyway, I guess I'll go ahead and you can drop the kids off in the car first."

Ackerman gave a stern "Hmmm." To Mordecai as she looked over the requisition form, before neatly folding it up and placing it in one of the many pockets that lined her uniform. "Pick out one of the empty rooms for yourself, Constable, we've got plenty to go around. I'll get on the horn to HQ and see what I can wrangle you." Mordecai gave a respectful nod to her.

"Thank you Captain Ackerman, that is most appreciative of you. Even if you can only manage to acquire some basic supplies, it will certainly go along way in making sure this precinct is prepared for emergencies. I shall be sure to inform you of which room I have chosen before we are done here today." Soon after the pair left the makeshift medical room and headed back towards the reports room were most of the others would be at. Whilst Ackerman was busy addressing the others about any special skills or connections they might possess, Mordecai went back to his desk and sat down. There was the other thing that needed bringing up, but it can wait till everyone here was done talking.

Rat nodded solemnly. "Stay safe," he muttered, before pulling the brat along behind him, the other in hand (literally). It wasn't long before he found Novak in the car, and grinned sheepishly at his superior. "Found something."

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