Strength of the Wolf

The First Change (Part 2)

"A fucked-up family's a fucked-up family, whether or not werewolves are involved." - Carrie Vaughn

  • Phoenix Adamski awakens in the basement of the Gray Wolves’ den, with all of the effects from her hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgery completely reversed. The Gray Wolves figure out that now that he has Changed, his regeneration must have seen these changes as damage to be repaired. Phoenix is crushed as she realizes that, while before he felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, now, his woman’s body has become an inescapable supermax prison.
  • Ian McGrath’s visions intensify. Derrick Prior tries to convince him that he can help, but Ian makes a run for it.
  • Phoenix Adamski and David Smith join the Gray Wolves in an expedition into the Shadow to find a spirit who can point them towards the other Uratha who will soon undergo their First Change. They eventually find Web Mother Depriver-of-Liberty, who offers to help them, if their new pack promises to make war upon the Rat Hosts for a year and a day, and promises not to attack the Spider Hosts unless they are first attacked. Phoenix agrees to this, and the Web Mother bids one of her children to climb into David’s mouth, urging him in the direction of the soon-to-Change Uratha.
  • At Whole Foods, Ian and Jackson McKay run into each other, as a fruit in Ian’s hands begins to bleed. Jackson’s increasing paranoia overcomes him. When he attacks Ian, Ian undergoes his First Change. Phoenix, David, and the Gray Wolves arrive at the same time, as does the Brotherhood of the White Hall. The fight escalates, spilling into the nearby Martin Luther King Busway, where Ian in gauru form smashes a train and begins eating people. Clementine Ward dies in the fight, while Jackson, David, and Phoenix manage to eventually subdue Ian.
  • When the Gray Wolves return and hear what happened, they decide to kill Ian before he regains consciousness. Phoenix, David, and Jackson intervene. Andy explains that Ian will be addicted to human flesh now. It will drag him — and them — to a terrible end. The three agree to take responsibility for him, though, so they let Ian live.
  • To try to contain Jackson’s First Change, they go camping in the Laurel Highlands. Ian tries to provoke Jackson into the Change, but fails. David leads him to the den of a Ridden badger, who attacks with a ferocity intense enough to trigger the Change. All four fight through the night to keep Jackson from rampaging away. In the morning, they awaken in a blood-soaked campsite.

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Jason

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