The pack had made a lot of individual progress while its members attempted to keep their heads low. After about a month, they had accomplished quite a bit. The moon was coming full and the fair was in town.
Walt trained extensively with the other pack members to toughen up and improve his rate of healing. He also managed to find the full names of the vampires Troy Pruett and Simon Carson—as well as Ed Hodges, the duguthim eater of maggots.
Jeremy checked up on his family when he was not interacting with the local gangs or seeking out loci. He managed to find foreign investors from South America interested in connecting to the North Carolinian wineries through Bentley’s bar. He learned a bit more about Reina Araña—namely, that she has not been on the scene for more than a few weeks and might have been one of the witnesses from the bus station incident named Elizabeth Diaz.
Bentley managed to push through the red tape keeping the bar in limbo and to gather up local talent to do some of the heavy lifting in terms of day-to-day work. He also began his new job of breaking the ice for a banking corporation to sell supplemental healthcare loans, meeting with some success.
Aleister researched helions and found circumstances for their potential arrival. He was not fired from his job, perhaps because of intensive need from the emergency services. He also spoke to Amy about the alibi she provided for him and was surprised to learn that not only was she not lying, but she had apparently learned details about Aleister that he had no memory of because of time or sale to Local-Trade. He realized as well that he could not remember the sound of his mother’s laughter.
Bentley went to get the ball rolling with a potential contract client and deliver some herbal remedies to her and came face-to-face with Amy, now bald and sickly from chemotherapy—the cancer was getting worse. She seemed to feel on some level that Bentley and Aleister were not exactly normal. He did his best to calm her down, but she told him she had been seeing Jermaine pop up a lot since she started wearing the engagement ring he had given her before his death. Bentley remembered seeing an image of him in the old cabin and thought she must be haunted by him now.
Aleister—fresh from training in his rites with Kathy—got a ride back to his truck from Vera. On the way, they almost hit a phantasmal ghost standing in the middle of the interstate. Vera said he had seen the ghost before, occasionally trying to crash cars. Before they could react, ethereal chains wrapped around the ghost and pulled the ghost away before a large, billowing cloud blew in towards the city. Aleister took this as an omen and informed the rest of the pack.
They met at a local strip joint that was host to a locus with strong lust resonance. Bentley was fashionably late because of his immersion in a prophetic dream. In his dream, he was with the pack; but, the bar was bobbing like a raft, Aleister was cleaning his gun, Walt and Jeremy were staring and growling each other down, and random people were wandering around them. The back wall was crushed by what looked like the hull of a ship and men with cutlasses rushed out of it and began to stab the unmoved pack members to death. When he woke, Bentley rushed to the bar and started to tell them of his dream. Then the liquor bottles started to break and the strippers began to go crazy on the pack members.
As they dog-piled onto Jeremy, Walt entered his Gauru form and bum-rushed them into the bathroom. Aleister hopped the bar and stole a shotgun from behind it while Bentley looked across the Gauntlet to see what appeared to be a pirate ship anchoring itself to—and draining the Essence from—the locus located in the private dance room. A pirate ghost materialized and joined the fray, but was quickly dispatched by the pack. They moved into the Shadow to confront the pirate ship and saw two things: one was that the ship had several whispy ghosts chained to it, and the other was a salty old pirate spirit covered in cuts and missing an eye. Asking what he wanted, he simply told them he wanted booty, which was plentiful in this particular location. When they wanted to know why he wasn’t out at sea, he told them that territory belonged to Teach. Bentley intimidated him into backing down and not destroying the locus as he drained it. Then the ship took off in the general direction of their claimed locus; the pack swiftly followed.
The ship was not there when they arrived and they had Bright-Eyes investigate to find that the ship had gone to the fair grounds. Arriving at the fair, they could not find the ship. So, they asked the spirits and found that the locus on the grounds became much more powerful during this time of year, drawing in local ghosts. The pack began searching for someone who might have a connection to death and found Amy picking up a bit of seasonal work on one of the rides, followed by the ghost of Jermaine and surrounded by shadowy chains. Bentley used Luna’s Dictum to demand that she give him her wedding band, and she obeyed. Trying to destroy it, they drew Jermaine’s ineffectual wrath and traced his chains to the pendulum ship ride. Aleister used his new Banish Spirit rite to try to exorcise the spirit ship from its position fettered in the ride and it begin to go crazy, swinging so hard and fast that the fair-goers were pinned to the floor of the ride by sheer force of momentum.
While Aleister continued his rite, Bentley boosted Walt into the ride where he began tossing terrified riders back out to be caught and saved a few people. Upon completion of the rite, the ride slowed down just enough to rain fair-goers across the grounds and causing many casualties. The pack crossed over to put a stop to the pirate problem.
On arrival they saw the spirit captain pointing his cutlass at them as he said: “Fire.” Aleister was blasted by the ship’s cannons before the pack could engage. The ship pulled its chained ghosts into the Shadow by pouring essence through their chains, which the pack climbed up to reach the deck and tackle the spirit crew. While fighting, the ship began ramming about in an attempt to knock down and shake off the pack—to no avail—eventually slamming into the spirit representation of the Wachovia building. They dispersed the spirit captain and Jeremy managed to calm the ship by taking the helm. Talking with the ship, they realized that it wanted most to serve a captain that would not abandon it. Discussing options, they determined that the ship would be too dangerous roaming free and might best serve them if placed into a fetish. They called Peter from the Leaning Fortress pack to see what he could do about the situation.