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Sonia Redwood

"There is no time to regret the past. You can only look forward, and strive to make a better future."

0 · 810 views · located in Dogs in God's Vineyard

a character in “Dogs in Almighty God's Vineyard”, as played by Magus1108

Description

Sonia Redwood

Image


Age: 49
Gender: Female
Ethnicity/Race: Caucasian
Level of Faith: Sonia is a woman of moderate faith. After years of soul searching, she’s found a cause to believe in...though she does not agree wholeheartedly with Faithian doctrine, or all its professed tenants. Still, she believes in the Lord God, and her long years have led to her seeing some strange things. So she is more inclined to believe in the supernatural than others.
Years of Service: Ten years as a Dog, twelve years as Sheriff of Prairie Falls, and two and a half years in the US Army
Weapons/Equipment: Her trusty shotgun, two revolvers, a rifle, a hidden knife in her boot, the Book of Life, and a small locket that has a picture inside of it, showing a younger Sonia, a young Mexican man, three young boys, and a little girl.

Personality

Sonia is a woman hardened by her years of violence and war, but beneath her more gruff and hard exterior, lies a passionate and proud woman. She takes pride in her work and her past accomplishments; even her past sex work, to a degree. While the road to the present hasn’t always been pleasant, there is little she regrets, and she takes that approach to her everyday life. There is no room for doubt or fear in her mind.

History

When Sonia was a young girl, she was always free-spirited. She often got into trouble with her parents, who disapproved of their rebellious ways. The only person she got along with during her childhood, truly, was her older brother Caleb. The two of them were close friends, and he was seemingly the only person who understood her and accepted her. Unlike their father and mother, Caleb accepted Sonia’s more rebellious nature, and even encouraged it at times. Together, they brought a great amount of grief to their parents, but Sonia didn’t care about that at all. She hated the way her parents, especially her father, tried to stifle her and make her into a ‘proper young woman’.

Sonia was fifteen when a life-changing event occurred: the War between the States. Her brother was seventeen at the time, and soon after the war started, he was drafted into the Union Army. It was a painful event, separating from her sibling...not helped at all by talk from her father Sherman of arranging a proper marriage for her, now that she was of age. Years of constant rebellion against her controlling father culminated in her decision to run away: she would marry whomever she wished to, not whatever businessman her father wanted to hitch her to in order to advance their social station.

After running away, Sonia was at first unsure of where to go...until she remembered where her brother was. With her boyish looks and still developing body, it was fairly easy to disguise herself as a young boy. The Union Army was desperate for more soldiers, so the recruiters accepted her quite easily when she presented herself; though she was unsuccessful in getting placed with Caleb’s unit. Despite that failure, Sonia hoped to reconnect with her brother in the army, and she was successful to that end. After claiming Caleb was her cousin, she found out what unit he was in, and started exchanging letters with her brother soon after. Through the rest of the war they kept in touch, both siblings managing to survive the War of Southern Secession.

The war against the South was a harsh affair, and one that would forever stick in Sonia’s mind. People around her died all the time, often more due to infection than actual bullet wounds. The conditions of war were hellish, with constant gunfire and cannonfire thundering around her. And then, the few times she had to fight hand to hand...thrusting her bayonet into the stomach of a Confederate soldier close to her own age was an experience Sonia would never forget. It changed her, hardened her, made her into a different person.

Then, too, came another inevitability: while she did her best to hide her gender, the men of her unit discovered her secret soon enough. And, distasteful as the notion was, Sonia bought their silence with her body. Sonia slept with her fellow soldiers to stay in the Army, as well as a few other people higher-up in the chain of command, who discovered her secret. It was unpleasant for the most part, but a necessity if she didn’t want to be outed, and forced back with her parents.

By August of 1863, the war was over. The South had won, and the Confederate States of America was now an independent nation. The result disheartened many Union soldiers, and Sonia herself felt a sense of bitterness in the aftermath. Still, fighting in the army had given her a sense of purpose, and it had taught her how to defend herself. If nothing else, her time as a Union soldier gave her valuable life skills that would serve her well in the future.

After the war, Sonia reunited with her brother Caleb, and after some discussion the two of them ventured out West, to seek a new life away from their parents. The trek West was hard, and often they had to resort to various unsavory means to provide for themselves and stay alive: with Sonia often letting men sleep with her in exchange for supplies or money. Her brother wasn’t happy with the arrangement at all, but Sonia did her best to soothe his worries. Even if it wasn’t pleasant, it was what was needed to survive.

In the fall of 1865, the two of them settled in a small frontier town known as Prairie Falls. At first it was just a general stop in their continued journey Westward (with the goal of maybe settling somewhere in California), but that changed as Sonia and Caleb formed connections in the town. The people there were welcoming, and after some discussion, the two siblings decided to settle there. They managed to settle in at the town well enough, and Sonia soon made the acquaintance of the town’s bartender: a former Mexican soldier by the name of Miguel Castillo. Miguel was a man like no other, far as Sonia was concerned: he was a kind, gentle soul, and their shared bitterness over their nation’s loss in war helped them to bond further. The two of them became quite close, and after two years of flirtation and courtship, they were married.

After several years of marriage, however, another unexpected development occurred. In 1871, the Sheriff of Prairie Falls was murdered by a group of outlaws who were harassing the townsfolk. Sonia and her brother helped lead the posse that hunted down the outlaws in response, and during the fight, Sonia proved herself very well. After justice was served, the town needed a new Sheriff...and who better than Sonia Redwood to serve that role?

Sonia was deeply surprised by this development, but went along with the decision. For the next twelve years, she served as the Sheriff of Prairie Falls. And during those twelve years, she started a family with Miguel. Her first son was born in 1872, followed by two more sons in 1874 and 1877. In 1880, she gave birth to her first daughter, and her last child overall. During that time, her brother married as well, and started his own family.

During her tenure as Sheriff, Sonia oversaw a relatively peaceful and eventful period of Prairie Falls history. During the mid 1870s, a connecting railroad was built along the town, which contributed to its subsequent rise in population. Slowly but surely, Prairie Falls was transitioning from a small frontier town to a more developed railroad city. The times were a-changing, and in 1883, Sonia ended up changing as well.

The ‘Miracle’ Sonia witnessed in the Summer of 1883 is ill-defined, largely because she does not like to talk about it in detail. Regardless, some sort of event happened in 1883 that gave Sonia a newfound belief in God, and of the Faithian religion. This new sense of belief inspired Sonia to give her talents to God to use...and what better way for her to accomplish that, then to become a Dog? So it was that, after a brief discussion with her family, Sonia resigned as Sheriff and left Prairie Falls, bound for New Life.

With her history as both a sheriff and a soldier, she breezed through the Dog training fairly well, and was ordained within four months. Since then, Sonia has been serving as an active Watchdog, ready to deliver God’s justice (or mercy) when need be. Sonia is not as dogmatic as some of her fellows though, and her downright liberal views on sexuality, race-mixing, and a woman’s place in the world would scandalize many a New Life socialite. She’s good at her job though, and has developed a reputation in the Dog community as a fair but firm soldier of God.

Goals

Sonia’s goals are to see God’s will and judgment carried out in Man’s World, to live to a ripe old age, and see to it that her children live happy and prosperous lives.

Likes

  • Her sons, Alejandro, Ethan, and Julio, and her daughter, Isabella.
  • Dogs (the animal, but also Watchdogs)
  • Her Husband and Brother
  • Snow; a rarity in the climate of the Deseret, admittedly
  • People of Strong Character

Dislikes

  • Her father Sherman
  • Holier-than-thou types
  • Confederates
  • Hypocrites
  • Thunderstorms

So begins...

Sonia Redwood's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"...I think we just opened up a can of worms that we weren't ready for," Sonia replied, scowling slightly as she glared down at the woman's corpse. "Maybe I'm wrong...hell, I'm hoping I'm wrong...but the phrases she used had meaning, Charles. He Who Walks The Desert Night...that's a term I haven't heard in awhile."

She paused, looking around briefly to make sure no one else was nearby. So far no one had shown up to investigate the sound of the gunshot, but undoubtedly someone would, and soon. "We don't have much time, so I'll make this quick. Have you ever heard of the Black Deseret? It's a heretical group, a bastard offshoot of the Prophet's teachings. They sprung up maybe a decade ago, or thereabouts. Long story short, they're a dangerous cult. And we might have just walked right into a whole nest of 'em."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Could the Watsons have been murdered? Could Melissa Watson have been kidnapped? If someone had come into the house, fifteen minutes was more than enough time to abscond into the night. But fleeing the city itself without notice would have been far more difficult, surely.

The thought gnawed at Anna. The boy had found the bodies of most of the family, already dead, but the smoke had clearly not be so thick as to kill him so swiftly. No one else had perished in the fire. The girl's body hadn't been found. There was enough, to be sure, more than enough to catch a Dog's attention. Even perhaps to pull them away, if only intentionally briefly, from a prior assignment. Just enough for them to stumble onto a genuine conspiracy, for what else could have left them missing, likely dead?

But why Melissa Watson?

Anna stifled a sigh as the boy rambled further. Whispers in the flames indeed. But she would be thankful enough that the boy was as lucid as he was, with what the doctor had given him for his pain. "Thank you, Richard. You've been very brave. I will pray for your swift recovery." She said with another feigned smile, stepping back with a nod and turning away, not letting him see the worried grimaced that she looked to Margaret with.

"We are still missing a piece." She muttered to Margaret. "Someone must have seen the girl. Our comrades must have found some better trail to follow."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret cast one last look at Richard, a thoughtful look on her face, before leaving the room with Anna. She nodded as her friend spoke, agreeing with her on that much. "Indeed. I think at this point, we ought to regroup and disseminate what we've learned. I believe we all agreed to meet back at the Sheriff's office...waiting for them there, if they aren't already waiting for us, seems like our best option."

At the same time, she couldn't help but ruminate on her own thoughts. Some sort of conspiracy was afoot here, that much was clear. But to what degree? Whispers in the flame...the mere notion sent shivers down her spine. She'd seen the destructive force of the Flame firsthand, not too long ago...when her last team had perished. Margaret still wasn't sure what to make of what she'd seen and heard that awful night...but it seemed this case might force her to reconsider those memories sooner than she'd like.

They left the hospital soon after, beginning the tedious walk back to the sheriff's office. Along the way, Margaret decided to speak up. "Things are getting stranger and stranger here, are they not?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles grimaced deeply. He had heard a lot of tall tales in his life, but rarely from the dying, and rarer still from veteran Dogs. He only shook his head, his hand resting calmly on the hilt of his revolver as he stepped to the door, peering quickly out and down the hallway. "Ain't that ill tidings." He muttered, mostly to himself.

Cults and heretics he could understand, at least in theory. He'd seen murderous madmen invoke the Devil once or twice, not that such a thing struck him as able to make two other Dogs disappear from the streets without a trace. The look in Sonia's eyes was worrying, but there was little to do but press on. "Reckon we should hurry after the proprietor? He'll surely be bolting if he heard that gunshot and knows more than he let on 'fore."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I'm not certain. I don't want to run headlong into any traps. After all, if these cultists managed to subdue, even kill two Dogs...they must have numbers on their side. And if there are more of them in this hotel aside from that maid, well...perhaps we'd best leave while we can, and regroup with the others. They need to know what's happened...and besides that, we'll have better chances coming back to this hotel in full force, maybe even with the police at our side. The proprietor might be gone by then, but it's a risk we'll have to take," Sonia advised after a moment.

It was risky, chancing that a lead like that could vanish, if indeed the hotel manager, or anyone else here for that matter, knew more than what they were saying. But at the same time, she didn't want to repeat any of the mistakes that had no doubt done in Ford and Meyers. Besides, there was no telling what their fellows had also found: regrouping and exchanging information seemed like the best course of action to her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna walked swiftly back out to the street and towards the sheriff's office, eyeing the look on Margaret's face, knowing that her own expression was far from confident on any obvious lead forward. She let her friend mull over her own thoughts for a moment before she eventually spoke up as they continued down the street.

"What would drive someone to murder the Watsons and kidnap their daughter?" She asked quietly, careful of any passing townsfolk, watching the street intently even as she spoke to Margaret. After all, the city had already taken two Dogs. And so Anna eyed every passerby in sight, searching for anyone with more than a passing glance towards her and Margaret. "To set a fire so deliberately that it doesn't spread far, and then to kill two people and kidnap the third without a trace..."

She trailed off with a heavy sigh, trying to calm her own frustrations. Every question the two of them had asked the boy had only led to two more questions in turn. "It would take a certain cleverness. Someone, or a number of them, likely clever enough to then ambush two Dogs. But what is the value of the girl, for all of this?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I'm not sure. That's still a big mystery here. And no doubt this all has to do with the fires that happen every year; it stands to reason that whoever the arsonist is who started the fires before, is also the one behind the current, possible kidnapping. We'll have to ask the Sheriff about any other missing people from the previous fires...there could very well be a pattern here. Regardless of all that, however...more and more, it feels like we're stepping into some sort of grand conspiracy here," Margaret replied, tapping her chin in thought.

Anna was right: a clever someone, or a group of someones, had definitely ambushed and likely killed the two Dogs. And it had to have been more than one person: this amount of precision and sophistication would be near impossible to pull off with just one person. An entire group, a conspiracy, had to be at work here. For what end, she couldn't yet say. But the further they unraveled the mystery of Abernathy, the more laborious and cryptic things became.

"We might want to consider sending a telegram for backup when we reconvene with the others. Even with the four of us, I can't help but feel ill at ease. After all, if this conspiracy could swallow two Dogs whole with ease, what's to say they couldn't do the same for four?" she opined, grimacing slightly in distaste.

It was something of a blow to her pride to admit as such, but she had to be realistic here. If anything, she knew that the higher ups in New Life would agree with her assessment after they reported in. More and more this was starting to feel like a mission too big for one group of Dogs to feasibly handle.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles scratched at his beard with a wordless grumble as he considered. It was certainly wiser not to go chasing off with guns drawn after an unknown suspect, especially when the dying woman had indeed made it abundantly clear she was far from alone. After all, two Dogs had likely gotten far closer than he and Sonia had thus far, and their own skills hadn't been enough to save their lives. After another brief moment of thought, he managed to crack a faint grin. "If they've got numbers, then at least they'll struggle to hide 'em for long. Like rats, eh? Just gotta light a fire under 'em in the right place and they'll scurry out."

He then stepped towards the doorway to the hall, revolver in hand. "Maybe we take a back door out quickly, yeah?" He quickly poked his head out just long enough to look back and forth for any signs of moving before leaning back into the relative cover of the doorway. "Ready?" Charles asked, with a quick look back to Sonia, still listening carefully for any sounds of footsteps coming down the hall.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia nodded wordlessly at him, gun in hand, before moving out of cover and down the hall with him. No one was present to impede their path right now; and when they reached the entrance to the stairwell, no one still harassed them. After that, the two of them proceeded down the stairs, slowly and carefully making their way to the first floor. And still, no one chased after them; instead, the few people they came across turned the other way the moment they saw their pistols.

As such, they remained largely unmolested by the time they did exit the hotel, and enter the backstreets of Abernathy. Sonia couldn't help but breath a sigh of relief, though she still looked around for any sign of a pursuer.

"Looks like we're clear for now. Come on, let's hurry; we've got to get back to the others!"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Asking for help, on her first mission as pack leader. The thought galled Anna, at least until she stamped down on that folly of pride. Two Dogs surely as experienced as she, if not likely more so, had fallen prey to the lurking danger here, and she had an obligation to much more than just her own safety.

She was silent for that long moment, brows furrowed with thought, only belatedly looking back up to Margaret. "You are right. We need to look farther back, find a pattern. Inquire about any other missing women." The thought drew out a deep frown from Anna. The most obvious motive for such a crime drew a cold fury in her heart, but she couldn't let such thoughts distract her from the task at hand.

A deep breath, in and out. "We will send word to New Life of our difficulties in finding the trail and the danger that represents, that there is more at work here than any simple criminal or sinner. Bolstering our numbers would be a boon. Perhaps the arrival of a second pack would force the culprits into rash action."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded her head in acknowledgement. With that said, the two continued their way back to the sheriff's office of Abernathy. They were perhaps a few blocks away from the sheriff's office, however, when they spotted Sonia and Charles exiting out of an alleyway.

"Sonia! Charles!" Margaret nodded her head in greeting as she and Anna moved to regroup with them. "We were just heading back to the sheriff's office ourselves. I presume you two finished your part of this ordeal?"

"In a manner of speaking," Sonia replied, eyeing the other people on the street cautiously. She still had her gun out, though for now she had the barrel pointed down. "Charles and I ran into some complications, to say the least."

With that, the quartet began to share what they had learned, as they continued on back to the sheriff's office. And as the pieces fell together, the feeling that something was seriously wrong here in Abernathy, outside even the fires and disappearances of the other Dogs, only grew...

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles let out a relieved breath as he caught sight of the other two Dogs, jogging up beside Sonia to catch up to them, his gun in hand as well and hidden under the fold of his coat. "Reckon complication is an understatement." He said, otherwise content to let Sonia explain the brief fight in the hotel room, with the nominal familiarity she had with the cult the woman had invoked.

"We might want to go back and press the hotel owner harder." He suggested as they continued down the street, keeping his voice low as he watched Sonia's worried glances to other townsfolk walking about. "He was awfully keen on keeping us happy, 'course, not as if most folks wouldn't be nervous. But he'd be the one who'd know anything 'bout that poor woman."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Before that, we should go back to the Sheriff's office and tell her what we've discovered so far. Then we should send that telegram to New Life for backup...and then, with the Sheriff and her men with us, we should go back to the hotel," Margaret countered. "Presumin' Anna agrees, of course. There's a good chance no one will be at the hotel by then, 'least no one we'd be interested in, but it's far better than walking straight into an ambush."

"Gotta agree there. There's no telling how many cultists might be here in town. More likely than not they've got us outnumbered, if not outgunned too. The sooner we can get more squads to back us up, the better," Sonia agreed with a decisive nod. "Nasty business, this cult is. From what I've read, they've been known to do human sacrifices. Perhaps that's the source of these fires the last few years; a smokescreen to kidnap folk and use them for whatever nefarious deeds they got in mind."

"And it's possible Ford and Meyer got caught up in that; maybe they found what we found. Only they didn't get a message off to anyone before it was too late," Margaret theorized. She frowned, furrowing her brow as she thought the matter over. "There's still too much here we don't know. Lot o' missing pieces still. But I think we're starting to get a clear picture of what's been going on here."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna nodded to Margerat as she strode towards the sheriff's office. "We'll have to be quick about it. Update the sheriff, let her gather her posse while we send that telegram, and then search the hotel down to the floorboards." She tried for a reassuring smile to her friend, with little success. Too many worried thoughts nagged at her.

If anyone would murder a family to kidnap a young girl in secret, a cult would have dark enough motives, to be sure. That they were able to operate in a Faithful city of such size was disturbing, to say the least, but the city's size was working against the Faith's defenders. Anna had scoured sinners from little mining towns before with little effort to the investigation itself. There had only been so many places to hide, so few townsfolk to question, and then a swift judgment performed in the only street the town had.

"They must have found what we have thus far, yes. This darkness is more than enough to have waylaid them from their orders. The Lord led them to uncover this, and now we must finish their work." She said to her Pack, hurrying down the street. "Everyone in that hotel is suspect, and we shall bring the truth from them soon."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded at that. After that, not much else was said among the group as they made their way to the Sheriff's office. It didn't take much longer to arrive: soon enough the building was in sight, and the posse marched through the doors.

Sheriff Mills was right where they'd left her, going through some papers on her desk. She raised an eyebrow at their sudden entrance, and stood up to greet them. "I see you're back. Have you found anything?"

"To say the least," Sonia remarked, giving a small sigh. "We've found out some disturbing things. And we'll need some help from you and your deputies sorting it all out."

Sheriff Mills raised an eyebrow at that, before glancing over at Anna, expecting some sort of explanation or answer from her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna tried not to grimace too deeply, less concerned of the townsfolk's spying eyes now, but still aware of how the sheriff might judge her reaction. "We have reason to believe that the burning of the Watson home was intentional and that their daughter was taken."

Glancing briefly to Charles and Sonia, she couldn't hide the displeased curl of her lips. "And a maid at the hotel was killed for attacking Sonia. She proclaimed loyalty to a cult of heretics. And she claimed their responsibility for the disappearances, and murder, of our comrades."

She fixed a judgmental stare at Mills, in turn, eyed the sheriff's reaction intently. All of this had, after all, fermented under her watch. "Understand, Sheriff, we are going to contact New Life for reinforcements. And then we will tear apart this city to find these heretics. I expect you and your deputies to assist in this."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sheriff Mill's eyebrows rose even further at these revelations, the troubled look on her face growing all the more. After a moment she gave an abrupt nod, a look of determination and vigor in her eyes. "Yes, of course. I'll do everything I can to help. I have no idea how such a cult could have grown underneath my nose...still, it will certainly not stay that way for long. You have my word."

Then the Sheriff glanced over to one of her deputies, and gave a nod. Then in the blink of an eye, she had her pistol in hand, and fired a shot straight into Anna's chest. The bullet pierced her heart and killed her in an instant, before she or any of her comrades could react: and then, before Margaret, Charles, or Sonia could make sense of things or return fire, the deputies had already gunned them down as well.

Margaret was the last to cling to life, her body crumple onto the floor. Her eyes were wide with shock and horror as she stared numbly at the deceased Anna. Dimly, she was aware of Sheriff Mills barking orders, making preparations to dispose of their bodies...

But none of that mattered anymore. Unable to remain conscious anymore, Margaret Thorne felt the world fade around her as she died.

....

....

....

"...We'll have to be quick about it. Update the sheriff, let her gather her posse while we send that telegram, and then search the hotel down to the floorboards....They must have found what we have thus far, yes. This darkness is more than enough to have waylaid them from their orders. The Lord led them to uncover this, and now we must finish their work." Anna said to her Pack, hurrying down the street. "Everyone in that hotel is suspect, and we shall bring the truth from them soon."

And just like that, Margaret Thorne returned to life.

She stopped short for a moment, her eyes widening in minute surprise as a rush of memories came to her: memories of a death five minutes from then, that only she would ever recall. A death so sudden and abrupt, that it had caught her totally off guard. But...that was not an issue she could focus on. The more pressing matter, in fact, was the issue of how to address the trap she now knew laid with the Sheriff and her deputies.

"How do we know we can trust the Sheriff, however?" Margaret spoke up, quickly resuming her walk with Anna and the others. Past experience had taught her the futility of warnings others of her knowledge...but, with the right words, perhaps she could avert disaster. "Clearly this cult has infested this town root and stem. Or so it would seem. How do we know that they have not corrupt the Sheriff in some way? In fact...it would make a disturbing amount of sense for this cult to bring the local law enforcement into the fold."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Charles slowed a half step as she caught Margaret pausing from the corner of his eye, letting out a quiet rumble in the back of his throat her thoughts. "Ain't the most unlikely scenario." He drawled, scratching at his beard as he considered. "Would give credence to how these cultists have been able to run amok. Big city like this, you'd think there's more places to hide, but there's just as many gossips about, and more deputies to boot."

Only New Life itself could actually compare to the likes of Richmond or Charleston when it came to a city of impressive grandeur, of course, but Charles opted to keep that notion to himself. He looked deferentially between Anna and Sonia. "D'you reckon we should just make for the telegraph office? Could be easier to deal with sheriff, Lord forbid, if'n we've got a few more Dogs watching our backs."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"The telegraph office might be our best bet. There is protocol for situations like this...though I know not how often said protocol is used. Either way, getting a message off to New Life before we proceed any further...it might be our best option here. That, or we forget the locals, and go back to the hotel ourselves...but that's not exactly the best plan either," Margaret declared, shaking her head in dismay. She'd do whatever it took to avoid that fated death, quite frankly. Still, she wanted some amount of backup before they investigated this town any further, if possible.

"It's not a bad idea, all things considered. We don't know who we can trust for sure in this town...after all, those two Dogs went missin' for a reason. There's definitely some sort of rot in this town...it just remains to be seen how deep it goes," Sonia mused, closing her eyes in thought. After a moment, she glanced over at Anna. "It's your call, leader. What do you think?"

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna sighed heavily. The burden that had been placed upon her shoulders was growing all the more heavy. Now more than ever, she wished Horatio had stayed with the pack. "We need to get the word to New Life first of all. There's no way around that, we need the telegraph office." She said, starting to lead the group in that direction, before continuing in a low voice. "We won't bring in the sheriff yet. We inform New Life, then go back to the hotel. The owner will need time to obscure whatever heresy has been happening there, he'll surely be startled and scared, and rushing about to cover up his sin. With the four of us forewarned now, we can face whatever is in that hotel."

It was a risk, but she couldn't simply do nothing and wait for reinforcements that would likely be days away. The impatient urge to act in the name of the Lord burned hot in her heart and Anna would not disappoint him out of fear.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded, following after Anna in quick order. She kept a careful eye on her surroundings, her hand drifting near her gun as she kept her vigil. Thankfully, anyone they passed by on the street tended to leave them alone, and understandably so. No one would want to get in the way of an armed group on a mission, particularly a group of Dogs at that.

Soon enough, they reached the telegraph office without incident. The office itself was located near the train station of Abernathy, though it wasn’t directly stationed inside the train station, unlike most major cities. Instead it was just a simple one story office building directly across from the station.

Even now that they were at their destination, though, Margaret kept her guard up. There was no telling if this Conspiracy was keeping a close eye on the trains and the telegram office. If that was the case, well...at least here, they could expect and prepare for a potential ambush, if the Conspiracy decided to be so bold.

Upon entering, they’d find a small, almost cramped space. Aside from the machinery and a single operator, there wasn’t much else of note.

”Can I...help you?” the operator carefully inquired, standing up straight in his chair.

“Yes, we need to send a message to New Life, posthaste,” Margaret began. She glanced over at Anna after that, content to let her dictate the specific contents of the message.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I need you to swear yourself to secrecy. This is a matter of upmost importance to the Faith." Anna said as she swiftly strode right up to the telegram operator, fixing her most intense stare to him. "This should not be a problem of a good and Faithful son of the King of Life's domain."

She didn't wait for the operator to respond, her stare hardening to warn him against any extended reply to her, with a stiff nod towards his instruments.

"You will send this message to the Watchdogs of New Life." Anna began, with a slow breath in, steeling herself as much as forewarning the operator. Her gaze was still fixed upon peering intently for the slightest hint of duplicity. If the telegram operator was among the heretics, he would be forced to act soon enough. That in itself could expose a lead. "Discovered source of great heresy within Abernathy, stop. Confirmed murder of two Dogs within city, stop. Request immediate reinforcements, stop. In the name of the Lord and the King of Life, stop."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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The operator was wide-eyed as Anna recited her message, but he nevertheless complied with her demands, his hands working the telegraph diligently. ”Y-Your message has been sent, Ma’am. It might take a little while to, ah, receive a reply—!”

Any further words were cut off, however, as the operator’s head exploded in a shower of gore, viscera, and blood. More gunshots followed, riddling the small office with bullets, but Margaret and the other Dogs had already taken cover by then.

“Shit!” Sonia swore, grimacing as she held a revolver in one hand. She peeked out just the tinniest bit, looking out the window she was hiding near. “Got a whole bunch of guys with guns out there! I don’t think we can wait on that backup!”

“Then we’ll have to shoot our way out!” Margaret fiercely declared, her rifle already in hand. “We can’t go out the front, though. They’ll mow us down easily. Going out the back is our best option, but they’ve probably got men out there too, if they aren’t sending some over already. Don’t got much of a choice otherwise, though...”

She trailed off, glancing towards Anna. “Your call, leader. What do you want us to do?”

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna ducked down reflexively a half second after the first shot rang out, eyes widening at the sight of the operator's head splitting apart, but nonetheless calmly whipping out her pistol as she looked to the shattered windows as the barrage of gunfire filled the office. She stamped down on a flush of fury in her heart at the boldness of the heretics outside, forcing a quick, tight breath in as she focused.

"Sonia, Charles." She said sharply, looking between them and the shattered front of the building. "Put out covering fire for a moment, keep them occupied. Margaret and I will go out the back first, then you two follow."

Looking to Margaret with a brief, grim smile, Anna stayed low as she hurried for the office's back door. "Ready? She asked once she was crouched alongside the doorway, revolver raised up, before she swiftly swept out first, ready to fire at anyone waiting outside.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Sonia and Charles laid down the suppressive fire as instructed, while Anna and Margaret burst out of the back of the operator's office. Sure enough there were a few men waiting outside for them, but she and Anna acted faster then then, mowing down their would be assassins in a hail of gunfire. The three men fell to the ground, but Margaret paid them little mind as she and Anna rushed out into the open street, and down a nearby alleyway.

Sonia and Charles followed after them soon after, and for the next while they were all running hastily through alleyways and side streets, all in an effort to avoid their pursuers. They heard shouts and yells after them, but with their head start, they were able to quickly lose their assailants.

After a good ten minutes passed by with no gunshots or shouts, the group finally came to a stop, crouching by the back of a butcher's shop in the downtown district of Abernathy. There was no one around at the moment, though how long things stayed that way remained to be seen. And in a city where anyone was a potential enemy or informant, when they didn't know who they could trust...

"Well," Sonia began, once she'd caught her breath. She was getting far too old for all this running about. "We've got ourselves in quite the situation, haven't we?"

"To say the least," Margaret replied, leaning back with a sigh. "Still, at least we've got a moment to catch our breath, and plot out our next move."