Wednesday, July 12th 1995 in Caledonia starts out like so many others. It is a pleasant mid-summer day, Caledonian adults go about their normal business, while Caledonian kids enjoy a lazy afternoon during their summer vacation.
Elizabeth Falls is a career woman, head of her specific R&D department at Acheron Industries. She clicks through slide after slide, careful to avoid the word ‘synergy’ no matter how many times it pops up on the corporate approved slides. Today she is walking a new team through what is expected of them working not only under her management, but also for Acheron. Her assistant manager Gregg concludes the meeting and leads the new team on while Elizabeth gets to work on a mountain of paper work. It looks like it’ll be a long few nights.
Parker Chea is a private investigator and street running enthusiast, who mixes his passion with work to provide for himself and help out his family. While waiting on a page about one of his current investigations, someone cheating on someone, he can’t even remember which spouse is cheating any more, he decides to catch up on some training at one of Caledonia’s premiere fitness centres. It is there that a guy strikes up a conversation with him, complementing him on his street running and chatting a little while they both catch their breath between exercises. A beep from the pager cuts the conversation short, as Parker heads out for another night of hiding in alleyways taking picture for spouses.
Nicole Farris is getting ready to play a mid-week gig at Charlie’s Place, a not so underground underground club on Main Street in Maxwell. Her band, Maelstrom, has been having some issues with drummer Dan, who has been showing up to gigs drunk, and not showing up to rehearsals at all. Tonight isn’t much different, Dan’s already pregamed, and though he swears he’s good to go because he’s “Keith fuckin’ Moon!”, he can’t seem to keep a hold of his drumsticks. A heated argument between Nicole and Dan ends when Jake, the bassist, jumps in and breaks it up, telling Dan to sober up before the gig, and leading Nicole off to cool down. Despite the rough start, the band has a good night.
Sandra “Fireclaw”, so named for her mean right hook, spends a quiet Wednesday afternoon hanging out and working out at Noice Park before getting some greasy though amazingly good lunch from Meatcher Street Bazaar. A bit of an outsider since her life went south, she’s been making a meager living off of underground cage fighting in Southside while continuing to live off of the savings her parents left her. Her boring week perks up when she gets home and receives a call from “The Boss”, one of the men who sets up the fights. It’s short notice, and sketchy, but the money is too good to pass up. Besides, she didn’t have any other plans for tomorrow night anyway.
Dante Edwards always has trouble sleeping around this time of year. Tomorrow will be eleven years since his life completely changed, but he tries desperately to put it out of his mind and focus on work. Today he’s meeting some clients at Caledonia Park, to scope out the surroundings for ideal wedding photography. While the bride to be trusts the professional’s opinions on scenery, no location, no angle, no exposure is good enough for groomzilla. An hour turns into two, into three while he tries to appease the finicky, dramatic groom. Finally agreeing on the plan, the soon to be married couple goes on their way while Dante heads home. Before he leaves the park, the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, but he sees nothing around. Must be the time of year.
One city, five seemingly unrelated individuals…
Thursday Parker gets to the indoor skate and free running park later than he’d have liked. He gets some of that running in, and meets up with the chatty fellow from the day before, Craig. The two of them talk technique, and Parker shows Craig a few things that really impress the guy. As the gym starts to empty out, the two guys decide it might be time for them to go as well. Having some water, Craig steers the conversation away from free running and toward something else. “You’re a talented guy,” he says, while getting something out of his duffle bag, “good looking, too.” He stands up and in his hand is a strangely ornate, ceremonial knife. “Too bad I have to kill you,” Craig says, but Parker doesn’t stand around to hear the explanation. However, it becomes quite clear that Craig has been toying with Parker, he is faster and better than he’d been letting on. Parker bounds off of a wall for some practice scaffolding to get away from the knife wielding free runner, but the scaffolding gives way and Parker falls back to the ground. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but between the weight of the equipment and the sudden fall, Parker lands on his face. Then things get weird. Parker can see himself on the ground, can see the ceremonial knife in his own hand. No, not his hand, Craig’s, but… as though he is watching from Craig’s point of view. “What the fuck?” Parker says as he tries to throw the knife, but nothing happens. Craig laughs. Parker starts to stand up, warily and wobbly. It seems that though he is seeing through Craig’s eyes, he is still in control of his own body. This is too disconcerting for him to move more than a stumble. Then Parker notices, through Craig’s eyes, that the gym is going dark. Panicked, Craig starts looking around, clearly in a know that Parker is not. The man run, and a disoriented Parker is taken along for the ride only long enough for Craig to get out of the gym. Parker’s sight returns to himself and, after working through the disorientation, notices the lights are back on. Craig is nowhere to be seen, but a girl in a hoodie, skirt and combat boots is exiting the gym through the back door. There is no way she was there before. He runs after her and catches her in the alleyway, where she explains enough to pique Parker’s interest in meeting her soon at Wong’s Kitchen. Before his very eyes the girl disappears into the shadows.
Today feels less productive for Elizabeth than Wednesday did. Mountain after mountain of paperwork thanks to the new hires, mountain after mountain of paperwork to go over for her department. And on top of all of that, Gregg has to leave early for some reason or other. By the time she leaves her office it is late and there are almost no cars left in Acheron’s private garage. Elizabeth soon notices that each of her foot falls is met with a clacking slightly off. She looks around, but sees nothing. She picks up speed, seeing her car isn’t far, but so do the feet behind her. Getting to her car, she fumbles with her keys only to find a man behind her. She opens the door but he kicks it closed before she can do anything, and before she knows it, there is a knife to her throat. Panicked, Elizabeth suddenly finds her hands on fire. The man backs off, but instead of surprize, he is calm. “Huh, I didn’t know you knew how to use your magic yet,” he smiles. She turns to try something! Anything! With the fire, but as she turns to face him, the fire dissipates. He mocks her and starts to play a little cat and mouse around the car. Suddenly, things get darker and as the man circles around the trunk, he suddenly cannot move. Elizabeth reads the panic on his face, and he accuses her of using magic, but she takes the opportunity to get in the car and drive off. She sees dark tendrils holding the man in place, but she doesn’t stay to investigate. As she gets to the street, a young woman in a hoodie, skirt and combat boots waives her down. She and the girl have a brief, if confusing, conversation that opens with Elizabeth inquiring “what the fuck?” about the happenings in the garage, and the girl insists that Elizabeth meet at Wong’s Kitchen in about an hour, where she’ll explain. Before Elizabeth’s very eyes, the girl vanishes.
Sandra heads to the warehouse that the fights take place. Thursday night is not a big fight night, and the place is almost completely empty when she arrives. Just “The Boss” sitting with a cigarette in his mouth and a stack of money on his desk. He’s not much for talking even though Sandra has a lot of questions regarding the weirdness of the fight. She comes to find out that the guy who is challenging her was adamant the fight be tonight, and put up all of the money to make it happen. She’s never even seen this guy before, but she’s not about to pass the potential pay up. It’s evident at first that the guy is not playing with her, punching her right after gloves are touched, so she decides to show him why they call her Fireclaw. One mean right hook knocks the guy back. When it becomes clear she is a force to be reckoned with, things get weird. The ring starts to get cold, very cold. And before Sandra knows what is happening, a shard of ice erupts from the man’s hand and crashes into her. She stumbles back and shouts “what the fuck?” Looking over at “The Boss”, who is smoking a cigarette, reading a news paper. The contender smirks, but Sandra punches him again. The room gets colder still, the ring freezing, making it nearly impossible for her to move without falling. He starts to channel the ice again, but the area outside the ring gets dark. Unnaturally so. The man uses the ice to target the darkness, visibly shaken at the darkness. The shadows flicker, and the man freaks out and runs out of the warehouse, leaving the ice so as to make it difficult for Sandra to follow. Looking at “The Boss”, Sandra demands some sort of explanation, but his cigarette has fallen onto the paper, burning a small hole through the now smoldering page. His eyes are wide and he seems to have peed himself. Looking for some sort of explanation, any explanation, Sandra notices a girl in a hoodie, skirt and combat boots. She rushes after her and, clearly anxious and sweary, tries to discover what the hell. The girl insists that she doesn’t have time to talk, but tells her if she’s interested, to meet her at Wong’s Kitchen.
Nicole is having a quiet day at home. The gig was better than she’d expected, and the night was late with the impromptu partying afterward. Her day is pretty uneventful until evening, when there is a knock at the door. Nicole answers to find Dan standing there, with a bottle of wine, asking if he can come in. Nicole offers him to come in and, as he steps in the bottle hits her in the head. She stumbles back, bleeding, and Dan starts laughing, telling Nicole all about how shitty he thinks the band is, and how he’s glad he finally gets to kill her so he can get it on with things. He produces a ceremonial dagger and stalks Nicole as she stumbles toward the kitchen looking desperately for a weapon. She is unable to find anything useful, and turns to watch her drummer presumably end her life. As he gets ready to slay the poor girl, Nicole sees a similar blade pierce through Dan’s body. Blood pools and he drops the knife, looking confused before the light in his eyes dims and his lifeless body collapses to the ground. Behind him is a girl in a hoodie, skirt and combat boots. With Nicole having a nasty head wound to tend to, the mystery girl grabs a sharpie and writes an address on Nicole’s hand, insisting that she take care of her wound, and to meet there tomorrow night. Nicole nods and walks off to clean herself up, and when she returns to her living room, she finds the body of Dan is missing, along with the girl.
Wong’s Kitchen is a small hole in the wall Chinese restaurant on Jasper Avenue, a place often overlooked by outsiders as being “too authentic”, but Wong Pang makes a decent living nestled in the heart of Jasper Avenue’s East Asian immigrant population. Although Parker is well acquainted with the restaurant, Elizabeth and Sandra don’t tend to frequent Wong’s. When each of the strangers enters, they find a restaurant with but a single customer, a familiar girl in a hoodie, eating noodles. Each of them walk over and cautiously scope out the other, but it soon becomes evident that they are all there for the same thing. The chat with the girl isn’t very revealing, she seems extremely guarded and unwilling to answer questions. Elizabeth manages to pry the girl’s name, “Tegan”. She gives them all an address, and tells them to meet there tomorrow, sometime around evening, because that is where they’ll find safety. Fear and frustration lead the three of them to eventually leave, none sure if they believe the girl of if they’ll be meeting at the mysterious address.
Thursday, July 13th 1995 Dante wakes up in a cold sweat. That dream, that horrible memory stuck in time, that he has every year around this time. That nightmare that was his reality that he still, over a decade later, cannot shake. He does his best to put it out of his mind, to go about his daily business, but all the same he makes sure he has a few things packed in his car. Just in case. He meets with the couple at the park again. Although the wedding is two weeks away, groomzilla insisted that today be the day they take some photos. The bride is in her dress, the groom his tux. And the groom’s father is there, in a tuxedo as well, though he isn’t posing in any of the staged pictures. The fake wedding cake cute might be the worst, and despite the bride to be’s hesitation, groomzilla insists on a staged cake eating photo. However awful the shoot is, it is enough to keep Dante’s mind off of things. As evening turns to night, Dante’s nerves calm down. Nothing awful has happened today despite the day. And as he’s finally getting ready for bed, he feels it. The Ward has been broken…