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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 · 856 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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Charles' chest was heaving with his panting breathes, even after they'd had a moment's respite. His heart was still pounding in his chest, his revolver clenched so tightly in his fingers that his hand was trembling. He hadn't faltered in the telegraph office, thank the Lord, well honed instinct acting well before his thoughts to catch up to him. That had always been the problem, of course. It had never been the fight itself. It was always the moment after.

Of course, the danger had hardly passed, even once the gunshots had ceased. It didn't seem like the danger would pass any time soon. Lord, Lord please... He prayed silently, straining to settle himself as his ears were still ringing from the crack of gunfire. By some small miracle, Charles resisted the urge to swear as he spoke up. "Must've been at least a dozen of 'em. Can we even stay in the city? For all we know, they've cut the telegraph cables. But if we ride out now, we could get back to New Life with word of this heresy."

Heresy. Charles had learned the lessons as well as any other Dog, but he hadn't perhaps given as much credence to it. Murder was a sin, to be sure, but anyone would agree with that, they just might call it a crime instead. Cultists worshiping demons had always struck him as a fanciful tale, and he'd certainly heard plenty of tall tales over the years, but nothing more than a flimsy excuse that a cruel murderer might give, and then sensationalist newspaper writers would embellish it all the more. And a dying woman had spat in his face with such an invocation, and now they were the Faith's lawmen about to be run out of town. He fixed an apologetic look to Anna. "We can't fight the whole town ourselves."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"I hate to say it, but he's right about that," Sonia reluctantly agreed, pursing her lips as she glanced over at Charles. "Still, it doesn't set right with me. If we leave now, these heretics would have plenty of time to escape elsewhere. After all...they have to know that even if they kill us, that'll arouse New Life's attention even more. The jig is just about up for them, so they're probably frantic...getting ready to pack up and leave, more like than not. If we leave this town now, we may never discover what it was that they're up to."

Margaret frowned in thought, weighing both the pros and cons of the situation. "It makes a disturbing amount of sense. If that's the case, they might be acting so openly now just to buy themselves time. Honestly, the way things are escalating...the Social Order Ministry is going to come down hard on Abernathy, heathen and innocent alike. They aren't about to tolerate a heretical cult this close to the core of the Deseret. Whoever is behind this conspiracy...I imagine they don't want to be here when that comes crashing down on them."

Whatever happened next in Abernathy, Margaret doubted it would end well for the town. The Watchdogs and Social Order Ministries would be pissed about this, to say the least. Hellfire and brimstone was sure to rain down upon the city, no matter how this all turned out. It was just a question of what role they would continue to play in things.

To escape now while they could and bring back reinforcements...or to forgo that entirely and brave the situation by themselves. It was a hard choice to make, and even now she wasn't sure which one was ultimately the right choice.

She paused, looking over to Anna. "It's your choice, Anna: you're our leader after all. We could try escaping while we can...but there's no guarantee of success, or of being able to come back in time to round up the conspirators. Or...we can go it alone, and try to get to the heart of this mystery ourselves. We might very well be on our own, if the telegram didn't get through: but it's the only way I can see us finding out the truth. What do you think?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna had thought she was ready for such a responsibility, but now the burden weighed heavily on her shoulders. She knew most of what her father and Horatio had faced together, but none of the stories she had been told had been such a danger, such a heresy in a center of the Faith's land. The Ministry would not be wrong to bring a wrath down on all who had failed their due vigilance, Anna thought to herself, but it would mean little if the true culprits were not brought to the Lords justice.

Sonia was right. To leave was to allow the heretics to escape into the night. Her hard gaze flicked to each of her fellow Dogs. "We stay. The King of Life has charged uswith rooting out evil. We can't leave this be any more than the two of our own who gave their lives could."

Then, she looked to Charles with a slow nod. "But we can't simply stand and fight. We need to find the heart of this and that means we need to be able to move within the city." She pulled at the edge of her leather coat, then gesturing to the varied weapons that she and the other three carried. "We can't walk the streets as Dogs. Pistols and knives we can conceal, but we need to blend in with the locals. Buy ourselves some time. Then under the cover of night, we root out the heart of this."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"If that's what you believe we should do, then I am more than fine with this course of action," Margaret replied, giving a firm nod at Anna. The thought of leaving too many of her weapons behind, not to mention actively hiding her status as a Watchdog...it irked at her, to say the least. But it would prove necessary for their own survival, in the end.

"Splitting up might not be a bad course of action either...potentially," Sonia piped up. "They'll be looking for a group of four, after all. But then again, there is safety in numbers...they can't pick us off if we stick together."

"Whatever we do, however, is dependent on our next step," Margaret interjected, a thoughtful frown marring her features. She looked to Anna again and said, "Let us assume for the sake of argument we can blend in for the day, and hide out until night. What then? Where do we go?"

"Ha, the hotel comes to mind," Sonia replied with a humorless laugh. "Something dastardly is going on there, sure enough. But they'll be on alert...sneaking in, even at night, won't be easy."

"Not necessarily," Margaret shook her head. At Anna's questioning look, she offered her leader a small smirk and elaborated. "The three of you are white, and I'm black. I've been to many hotels that have Negros as part of the Help...and even in the Deseret, there are a great many white folk who tend to ignore Negros who keep their heads down and pay the part of wage-slave. The three of you might find it difficult to sneak in, but...well, I am perhaps not as limited in my options."

It was a risky option, of course, but Margaret was willing to take any such risk. Besides, this wouldn't be the first time she used the color of her skin to her own advantage. There were a great many drawbacks to being a Negro in North America, even in the 'enlightened' Deseret, but times like this turned those drawbacks into a keen advantage.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Anna scowled down at the ground at the thought of hiding. At discarding the trappings that marked them as Dogs. But she couldn't let pride guide her orders. "The hotel, yes. Something was hidden there that they sought to kill to conceal. We must find it. And we will have more cover under night's darkness."

Then, something pulled at Anna's heart as her gaze snapped to Margaret when she explained her thoughts. It was dangerous, but not an unreasonable thought by any means. And yet...

She gritted her teeth as she hurriedly considered the odds at hand. "The owner may dismiss you, but it was a maid who attacked Sonia. The servants will notice more, and if one was a heretic, others surely are as well." She eyed Margaret worriedly, carefully keeping her tone even. "It is a great risk. But without coats and rifles, we blend in more easily with the locals. We only need to avoid conflict until nightfall."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"To be fair, that woman may have just been dressed up as a servant, in order to lower our suspicions," Sonia couldn't help but point out. "Regardless, it is a fair point."

"Indeed. But it's a risk we may have to take in order to get to the heart of this matter," Margaret countered. She paused a moment, considering her thoughts before speaking further. "It is your call ultimately, Anna. But it seems we are agreed that investigating this hotel is our next best lead. However we decide to sneak inside, we have our next course of action decided. Now we just need to figure out where we're going to hide out until dusk."

"The church?" Sonia suggested, before shaking her head seconds later. "No, they'd no doubt look for us there. Besides, there's no telling if the priests have been corrupted as well."

"It might be better to roam the city at large: staying someplace for too long might draw unwarranted attention, particularly among the locals," Margaret argued. "Splitting up for the day might be best as well, I would say. We can leave our rifles and coats here, hide them as best as we can, and then we split off into pairs and disappear into the city. We can meet back up here at dusk, or thereabouts. Unless our Leader has a better idea, I think that is our best course of action until nightfall."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Gotta assume they're sharper than they look. Almost got the drop on us." Charles said with a brief, apologetic look to Sonia, and then a briefer glance upwards in silent thanks that he'd been quick enough on the draw.

He scratched worriedly at his beard at Sonia's further comment. He couldn't deny she had a point, concerning that it was to admit. After all, he'd come to Deseret hoping to find a place where an unfaithful priest would be all but unheard of, among other things. Of course, back East the problems had never been matters of heresy and cults.

"Wanderin' seems our best bet. Not the biggest city here, but big enough to be a fair few travelers passing through." He said, nonetheless grimacing as he looked down to the cavalry saber at his belt. Certainly something that wasn't carried about by any traveler as a revolver was. "Best be quick about it, yeah?" He said, stifling a heavy sigh as he unstrapped the scabbard and started to shrug off his coat.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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Margaret nodded, and started to shuck off her own heavy coat and gun belt, Sonia following suit as the group disrobed themselves of just about everything that might identify them as Dogs. From there, they bundled their items together, before hiding them as best they could near the dumpsters in the alleyway they'd hidden in. From there, they split off into two different pairs, each going in a different direction as they sought to blind in with the populace, hiding in plain sight as they waited things out...

.....

The remaining hours passed by uneventfully, Anna and her Pack avoiding any untoward attention before they regrouped to where they had stowed their weapons and coats away. By the time they reassembled and were properly armed once more, the sun was nearly set, the dying light of dusk, along with the fluorescent lights of the lampposts, keeping the streets of Abernathy lit.

"Charles and I came across some hurried patrols now and again, but we managed to keep our hands down just fine," Sonia reported as she slung her rifle back over her shoulder. "Seems like our suspicions about the local police were right. Saw more than a few lawmen scurrying about, running around with armed civilians like headless chickens. Looking for signs of us, no doubt."

"That doesn't surprise me. No doubt they're getting desperate to get their hands on us," Margaret replied. "Though we'll have to proceed with extra caution on our way to the hotel. With it getting dark, most people are going to be heading home for the night. That means less crowds to blend in with. Which means it'll be easier for any patrols to spot us if we're not careful."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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The weight of Anna's coat was all the heavier as she shrugged it off, but doing so gave no relief. She had been so proud to be honored with that burden, when she had been made into a ranking Watchdog, one who stood as a beacon of Faith. Now, she was hiding that faith, and it burned at her as painfully as any wound. For the sake of the others, she forced a calm expression, and a brief smile to Margerat, with no words left to be said as they scattered.

Patience had never been her strongest suit, but at least the wandering across the town forced her to put one foot in front of the other, the march keeping her from brooding too much on her frustrations. Keeping a careful watch on the streets sharpened her focus, a risk that it may have been when any mere townsfolk did not walk the street so tensely. But it wasn't as if she hadn't seen gunslingers before with their hunched shoulders and restless tension, such were those who had their own burdens following them even into the safety of civilization.

Once they had made it to dusk and regrouped and rearmed without issue, Anna let out a quiet, relieved breath as some of that tension faded. "We'll move swiftly, stay off the main streets as much as we can." She said with a nod to Margerat, a hand already settling on the grip of her revolver, reassured by the smooth heft of the wood along her fingers. "We have the surprise once we make it inside the hotel. We'll use that to cut them down if any think to stop us."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Sounds like a plan to me, Leader. Hopefully the Lord will watch over us, and protect us during this endeavor," Sonia proclaimed, and Margaret nodded in agreement.

After a shared, hurried prayer, the Pack was on the move. With Anna at the helm, they made their way swiftly through the city, veering off the main streets in favor of the various side alleys and alternate paths. They came across a few lone souls now and again, but they seemed just as eager to get on with their own business, and so they managed to pass on by without incident.

They made it to the hotel without incident, crouching at a shadowed alley-way at the opposite end of the hotel. From their vantage point, they could see two armed men on either side of the main doors: obviously guards of some sort. There didn't seem to be any other guards around, though there was no telling how many more might be inside, or at any alternate entrances into the building.

"Alright, Anna. What's your plan?" Margaret inquired, after they had spent a little while studying the guards' movements. "We could try to take them out quietly, then go in through the front. Or maybe we circle around to the back...there's a chance there won't be any guards there, and I might be able to sneak in disguised as a servant, as I suggested earlier. Maybe do some scouting in advance."

"Still not so sure that's a good idea. Situation like this, splitting up would be dangerous. If we're sneaking in through the back or a side entrance or what have you, it's better to do it as a group," Sonia argued.

Margaret nodded in acknowledgement, and glanced over to their Pack Leader. "Well, it's your call, Anna. 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 could only do so much to hide the purposeful stride that had been ingrained into her over her years of service. Fortunately, it seemed that the few passerbys still parted swiftly for her, even without her coat of office. It had taken all of her strength not to grip at her pistol as she walked, in vain hope of easing the tension in her chest.

That tension still didn't fade once they reached the hotel. She glared out at the sight of the guards perched at the front, but at least it was clear evidence that something of value was behind those doors.

"We did a bit of scouting as is." Charles added, idly scratching as his beard as he peered up to the hotel's upper floors. "Didn't get much opportunity to nose around too much, but enough not to get turned around too easily, I reckon."

Anna only spoke up after another long moment. "We look for a back entrance. If there's guards there, we kill them quietly. We're not splitting up any further. We'll keep things quiet as long as we can, search as much as we can, but we've held back our fire and judgment long enough. Even if we're spotted sooner or later, they'll be awfully surprised to find us inside. Then we'll see where they run to, what they're trying to protect."

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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"Sounds like a plan to me. Let's get to it," Sonia replied.

With Anna's plan agreed to, the Pack went into action. Even this late at night, they couldn't risk being seen so obviously heading toward the back of the hotel: so they doubled back a ways, before turning back toward the block housing the hotel. From there, it was a simple matter of accessing the side streets, until they neared the back entrance of the austere hotel.

Crouched beside a closed doctor's office opposite the back entrance, they keenly took stock of the situation. In contrast to the front, there was just a lone guard near the back door. A guard that didn't seem all that attentive either, busy as he seemed in taking a smoke break.

"I have a throwing knife on me. I sneak up close enough, I should be able to nail him in the jugular. Won't be able to get out any deathly warnings that way," Sonia suggested after a few minutes of observation.

"Or one of us could cause a distraction, drag his attention away, and we then sneak in while he's gone," Margaret countered. "It saves us from having to hide a body, and affords us a more stealthier entrance."

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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's hand settled once more on the grip of her pistol as she moved, struggling all the more with a restless energy, much less the lingering anger that she'd had to held back for the sake of subtlety and restraint. But all she could do was sneak along with the others, watching and waiting further.

"No." She said once they'd found a spot to observe the hotel's back entrance. "We can't risk a distraction getting out of hand. Kill him quickly and quietly. We'll be moving long before anyone can spot the body."

With a look to the old Dog, she nodded, and gestured for Sonia to move on ahead. Anna could only wait, all the more tense burning anticipation, fingers gripping tighter still at her revolver. Her other hand settled on her belt, fingers brushing along her own throwing knives as she waited, ready to strike just in case. They had come too far to let a poor turn of luck spiral everything further against them, and Anna's heart burned with the urge to lash out against the unaware heretic. But still she waited.

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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 gave a minute nod, and began the slow journey toward her target of choice. She crept along at a languid pace, stalking her way through the shadows and avoiding the dim luminescence of the few street lamps around them. She approached the lone guard from the left, hugging the fence that surrounded the exterior of the hotel's back entrance. Once she neared the gate she paused, her hand drawing down to the throwing knife at her belt...

A flash of steel reflected off of her thrown knife fwas the only warning the guard received. The blade sunk perfectly into his jugular, slicing through his windpipe and ensuring his death. A quiet, strangled gurgle hissed out of his lips, but all too soon the guard collapsed back against the wall, slumping downward as he bled to death.

Sonia waited a few heartbeats, straining her ears as she tried to discern if he'd been heard. But no shouts of warning came from the outside. Indeed, all was perfectly still and quiet in the night.

The guard dispatched, all four Dogs swiftly made their way to the hotel's back entrance. Sonia spared a moment to drag the guard into a nearby hedge and deposited his body there. It didn't hide him at all, but it would help to obscure him from obvious sight all the same.

"There's no telling what we could find in here," Margaret felt the need to warn them all, even as she drew out her pistol. "So we had best be on our guard."

"I think that goes without saying," Sonia wryly remarked. "Still, we have a few seconds to plan things out a bit before we head in. Way I see it, we either try to find the hotel manager's office, or we search the basement. We might find more concrete answers there, and might even have a chance to bag and interrogate the manager himself. But knowing cults, they seem to do most of their dirty deeds in basements, so that alone warrants a thorough check from us. I think those are our two best options right now...unless you've got another suggestion, Leader?"

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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 gripped tight at one of her own knives as she waiting with tense anticipation, watching Sonia carefully, and the guard, ready to lash out herself at the first sign of an outcry. But she only needed to release that held breath as she saw Sonia's throw sink into the guard's throat, watching with a cold calm as the man fell twitching and gasping. She glanced back and forth as Sonia hid the body, then looking to the Pack.

"The basement. We are here to hunt men, not papers. If they are gathered, surely that is where they would hide their foulness." She said tersely, her hand shifting from her knife to the grip of her revolver with just as tight of a hold, giving the three Dogs a stern nod. "We will deliver a justice long overdue."

With little else that needed to be said, Anna opened the back door and strode quietly inside.

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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 other Dogs followed after her, creeping inside with as much stealth as they could muster. Thankfully there was no one in the immediate area: just an empty hallway that branched off to the left and right, deeper into the building.

At the threshold to the back entrance, the Pack paused for a moment, judging their options. It was all well and good to decide to head to the basement first, but actually finding it could be somewhat trickier than initially anticipated.

Sonia hummed thoughtfully, closing her eyes as she tried to recall the layout of the place. She and Charles hadn't been here long, and they'd come in from the front, originally. Still, after a moment of recollection, she started to speak. "From what I can recall...there weren't an access to the basement from the main elevator. So, I'm thinking they have a separate elevator, or more likely, a different staircase for that. Makes some sense: they likely don't want any guests going down there by accident."

"It's just a matter of figuring out where that other entrance is," Margaret pointed out, her brow furrowed in thought. "A pity we don't have a map. I suppose we'll just have to figure things out the hard way."

"So it seems," Sonia agreed with a slight nod. "So, left or right. Hm, don't know if it matters much, but from the front entrance, the elevator was off to the right. So from the back entrance...that should be our left, I think. So perhaps we try out the rightward path? No doubt the basement is part of some employees only section, away from where the public might wander. So there's a good chance it's not anywhere near the main elevator or stairwell."

"It's as good a guess as any," Margaret allowed.

After Anna and Charles voiced their own agreements, the Pack ventured forward, stalking along the right-forking hallway and deeper still into the building. By some miracle, they did not walk into anyone as they traveled: and a further few minutes of careful walking brought them to another branching hallway. This time, however, each branching path was helpfully marked by a name plate.

KITCHEN, was emblazoned on the placard ahead, the path directly ahead veering toward the left. LAUNDRY was on the nameplate on the wall of the rightmost path. And in the branching left hallway the word, BASEMENT, was engraved on a name plate there.

"Seems we have a firm direction in mind now," Sonia noted with some relief. She glanced toward the left, her hand idly grasping the holster of her gun. "Unless we wanna check out either of the other rooms first? Don't know if anyone would be in the kitchen or laundry room this late at night, but you never know what we might find."

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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 let Sonia lead the way once they'd stepped inside, though she stayed closed behind her, her revolver tight in her grip and keenly at the ready for the first sound of footsteps that could have been ahead of them.

"They'll keep the guests well away from anything that ain't shiny and clean." Charlies said in agreement to Sonia, standing perfectly at ease behind the three, his revolver drawn as well, his other hand having drawing a sizable bowie knife.

"Left, then." Anna said with a terse calm, her body still rigid with tensing, waiting for the moment of inevitable violcen as they continued further into the building.

She let out a tight, relieved breath at the sign, then looking to Sonia with a quick shake of her head. "No, we can't risk it, or waste more time. We'll trap them in the basement and put them down like the beasts they are."

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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 nodded, and from there the pack proceeded with swift certainty. They went down the left hallway, traveling along the corridor until they came to its end. At the end of the hall was a singular door, as well as a solitary bookshelf along the left wall and a stylized panting on the right. There was no nameplate or other marker on the wall or on the door itself, but there remained little doubt that behind this door was their intended destination.

Margaret ventured forward first, grim determination in her eyes as she gripped the doorknob. She turned it to open the door...but found the knob stuck firmly in place. She frowned, and after trying it a few more times, found the door had stayed firmly shut.

"It's locked," she noted with distaste, stepping back as she eyed the door with a critical stare. "And I doubt we have time to go looking around for a key. We should always shoot it open, or break the door down..."

"Ah, but doing that would alert the hotel's denizens that we're here," Sonia countered. "I know we're all ready for a fight...but the longer we can go without calling down hell on our heads, the better. We could try picking the lock instead, maybe."

"With what tools? And do any of us know how to pick locks? They didn't exactly cover this back at the Academy," Margaret noted wryly.

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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 lack of any decoration in front of the door only stirred Anna's anticipation further, her grip tightening harder still around her pistol. She drew in a deep breath to steady herself against the flush of adrenaline, moving up close behind Margaret's approach as she drew her pistol from its holster, ready to fire the moment someone appeared on the other side.

And then, the door simply clicked against it's lock. She let out an annoyed hiss of a breath, biting back a curse, while James glanced back from where he'd taken a post to watch the rear.

"Reckon I can give it a try." Charles said with a wry grin to Margaret, opting not to elaborate on where he might have tried to pick a lock or two in his days before the Academy. He fished around his belt, eventually pulling free a small, thin knife meant more for food than anything else. As Anna stepped back, gun still tight in hand, he leaned down close to the lock as he pressed the blade in, carefully starting to wriggle it about.

"We can break it down if we must. It will not be much longer regardless until we are delivering the Word by bullet." Anna said tersely, tensing with impatience as she watched Charles fiddle with the lock.

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Character Portrait: Anna Ward Character Portrait: Charles Carver Character Portrait: Margaret Thorne Character Portrait: Sonia Redwood
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It took Charles a good minute, but his efforts soon proved to be fruitful. The lock gave a click, and when he tested the door handle, it opened up with ease. Upon fully opening the door, a long staircase was revealed, the path dimly lit by a descending row of rustic looking chandeliers. The staircase curved toward the right halfway down, denying them a full view of the basement below.

"Well," Margaret remarked after a moment, staring into the abyss with no small amount of wariness. "There's no way to go but down, I suppose. At least we'll be able to keep a somewhat quiet approach for a little while longer."

"Probably not much longer. Like our Leader says, won't be long until we're knee deep in whatever occultist blasphemy they've got going down here," Sonia remarked.

With that said, the group started to venture their way down, Anna leading the vanguard as they descended down the stairs. The walk down was tense, an expectant air of restrained violence hanging between the group as they walked down the stairs. As they followed the curve, Margaret half expected them to run into another party, or to otherwise see things devolve into blood and sweat and gore as hostilities were renewed...

But they met not a soul as they traversed down the stairs. It was only as they neared the bottom that they saw a source of life.

At the base of the stairs...was a maid. She was a plain looking woman, dressed in a simple black uniform befitting of a higher-end hotel. She carried no visible weapon, and seemed utterly unsurprised at their presence as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

"Good evening, Madam Dog," the maid began, a pleasant smile on her face. She gave a small curtsy, displaying an almost disturbing amount of professionalism, even as Anna reflexively pointed a gun at her head. "We have been expecting you. Have you come to join the Feast?"