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Dr Archeville

Interview with a Werewolf [IC]

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Date: March 4th, 2010

Sunrise 6:26am, sunset 5:53pm. Low 34, high 47; winds NW at ~10 mph. Clear in the morning, cloudy/overcast after noon.

(If they meet around 7:00am, that morning temp + wind chill = it feels like it's 26 degrees. Brr.)

Archeville felt something he'd not felt in quite some time: anxiety of the unknown. It was exhilarating.

The night before was also exhilarating, but not nearly as much. The night before, he'd enacted a carefully-prepared plan to track and capture one of the many vampires he knew infested Freedom. He had done hours of research (which, for him, was the equivalent of weeks of research by anyone else), came up with numerous hypotheses to explain their abilities and weaknesses, created several pieces of technology to help track and subdue (and if need be, destroy) them, and had set out to look for them in some likely feeding spots.

What he'd found was something entirely different: a werewolf.

He knew some about werewolves, of course: German folklore was filled with them. He'd even come across some lore on them while researching vampires -- in Eastern Europe, lycanthropes ad vampires were connected; in most Greek and Slavic dialects, one word referred to both creatures, and in many legends a werewolf was guaranteed to rise as a vampire upon its death! But he was not prepared to face a werewolf, not with the gear he had last night. The silver-coated bola wires would do, but most of the weaponry he'd brought was wood- or light-based.

However, werewolves did have one aspect he could readily exploit, at least according to some of the legends. During the day, they were ordinary humans, ones he could talk to. Which is why he now stood on the outskirts of town, in the blustery cold morning light, waiting for a man he saw last night to emerge from the forest.

This'd better work.

There is no reason why it should not. He darted out this way, he will most likely return this way. And he will probably be exhausted from the night's activities, so-

so he might still be somewhere in the forest, sleeping it off. Perhaps with a belly full of freshly-killed deer. Speaking of, don't forget we need more venison.

I know we need m- wait! You hear something?

"Hello?," he tentatively called out.

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Thomas had smelled the man a long way off. Sterilizing chemicals, a lingering scent of garlic, and something else... Thomas hesitated around the corner of a building before coming out into sight as he pieced together the last smell. He soon easily identified it. He had only failed to realize what it was because he hadn't expected to encounter it in such quantities in a place like this. The smell was a strong pungent odor. Almost painful for him to breathe in. Silver! After realizing what it was, he released an involuntary growl.

It was that growl that caused the man to notice him.

"Hello?," he tentatively called out.

Damn Thomas thought. He'd been careless last night. Someone who knew what he was was after him. That was the only reason a man would carry this much silver on him. If he was lucky, the man wouldn't have bullets tipped with the stuff. Thomas' blood was pumping. His Wolf was ready to crawl out of his skin. Again, so soon after last night. All of his instincts begged him to run. It would be easier that way. No. Anyone carrying that much silver not only knows I am a wolf, they would also know how to follow me, and would probably also know that I would be vulnerably while changing. I have to stay human. I have to play it cool.

Thomas tried to force himself to relax. But Wolf wasn't having any of it. Run! the animal begged him. Clawed at him. He could feel it scratching at the inside of his chest like some dog at the door to a house begging to be let out.

Thomas shut that door.

So tense he was sweating in the frigid weather, Thomas rounded the corner. He said nothing. He looked the man up and down. Though he was surprised to see what looked like a doctor, or at the least lab technician of some sort, he didn't let it show. His eyes were steeled, his jaw was set, his shoulders were raised and his knees were bent. Though in human form, he looked just like a wolf. Ready to pounce, or run at a moment's notice.

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And of course he runs off.

Probably because he sensed your madness. Let me do the talking; you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

That is blatantly false: flies are more attracted to vinegar than to honey, since vinegar has the same odor as overripe, fermenting fruit, and vinegar is a lot easier for them to drink than honey.

So, what, you propose catching him by tossing some balsamic vinaigrette his way?

Soon after turning the corner, Thomas felt the few hairs he had on the back of his neck and arms stand on end as a weird energy discharge filled the air, a discharge which preceded the odd doctor suddenly appearing about 30 feet in front of him.

"Hello!," the stranger said again, with an oddly cheery tone, "I am Doktor Viktor Archeville, und I should like to recruit you for an exciting new projekt... for Science!"

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"Well, you don't see that every day." Thomas said dryly. He folded his arms, fully expecting more of an explanation than "Science!" The tattoo of a bear paw becoming more clear on his left shoulder, as he turned somewhat sideways.

I know he knows. Thomas thought to himself. But I can't let on that I know that he knows. He debated what the best course of action was. For now I'll just have to wait and see.

"So what exactly is this experiment, Doctor? And does it involve being outside much longer? It is rather cold." Thomas had managed to quiet the clawing sensation of the animal inside of him. Though he was still restless, he decided to see where this would go. The doctor had done anything overly hostile yet, so Thomas stood there, like a one wolf staring down another.

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You are being awfully quiet.

Quiet, you; I'm staring him down.

... he is an inch taller than-

Quiet!

"Is it?," The Doktor replied as he stared slightly up at Thomas, his Rhine-blue eyes carrying their own wolfishness. "I had not noticed."

A challenge? Implying that Thomas could not tolerate the cold as well as he could?!

"Und mein projekt involves a simple asking und answering of qvestions...," he took one step forward, "qvestions for vhich I am sure you vould not vish de gun-toting mobsters you encountered last night to know de answers."

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The man was meeting his eyes. And much more than that. His body language spoke volumes. Thomas listened to the words, but Wolf listened to the body language. He's locked eyes. Shoulders back, back straight, tone of voice defiant... Thomas stifled a growl before it could escape his throat. It was a challange, plain and simple. Wolf didn't like that. Briefly, Thomas wondered if the man realized what he had done.

Then came the man's second declaration. First a challenge, then a threat. Maybe he doesn't know. Thomas' blood was nearly at the boiling point. He reacted without thinking.

Thomas took a step closer to the man. Barely a few feet separated them now. He in turn puffed out his chest and threw back his shoulders. He bright green eyes hardened like steel. It was a reaction that had been ingrained by both the wolf inside of him, and the dynamics of the pack with which he had been living for years now. When Wolf saw a challenge he did one of two things. He either met it head on, or rolled over and backed off. Unfortunately for the man in front of him, he was only in the habit of rolling over for an Alpha Wolf.

But at least one thing was clear. This man had breached the subject of Thomas' Lycanthropy. There was no more beating around the bush to be done. Thomas knew that he knew, and now he'd gone and said it. He'd given up ground and given up information, and he still thought he was in a position to be making threats? He must be crazy. Let's find out.

"The man knows mot-ta-wi-e-he*." Thomas' voice was low and threatening, suitably returning the issued challenge. "And he will discover mot-ta-wi-e-he. These questions do not sound like fun."

Thomas was not yet ready to make threats of his own. Your move.


*Shawnee Translation: "nothing"

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What was that bit? The context is broad enough to allow several things; let me just-

Quiet! I'm still staring him down! If he is a dog, he shall know who his master is!

... a wolf is not a dog, and is prodding him really the best way t-

Quiet!

"Fun?," The Doktor replied, standing his ground. "Vell, if all your are interested in is fun, den perhaps I should let you continue on to de playground mit de ozher children...."

Now he's calling Thomas a child?!

Right, I am stopping this before you get us killed!

Bah! As if he could power through my force field!

I am less concerned about that and more concerned about what will happen if an enraged werewolf runs off down the streets of Freedom!

"... but since you are clearly not a child, und can appreciate de wisdom in knowing your enemy, I haff come to offer some small help. De men you faced last night, und de vons dey vork for, vill come after you. Vould it not be in your best interest to know vhat you can of dem? I know much of dis city, of many dings besides, und vould be villing to answer any qvestions you haff, if you vill but do de same for me in return."

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"Fun?," The Doktor replied, standing his ground. "Vell, if all your are interested in is fun, den perhaps I should let you continue on to de playground mit de ozher children...."

Now he's calling Thomas a child?!

Thomas bared his teeth. He snarled audibly, and for a brief moment fully intended to use those teeth.

"... but since you are clearly not a child, und can appreciate de wisdom in knowing your enemy, I haff come to offer some small help. De men you faced last night, und de vons dey vork for, vill come after you. Vould it not be in your best interest to know vhat you can of dem? I know much of dis city, of many dings besides, und vould be villing to answer any qvestions you haff, if you vill but do de same for me in return."

Thankfully, the doctor's tack changed just in time. Thomas' body language noticeably changed. His mouth closed, his shoulders dropped, and relaxing he took a step away from the man in the white jacket. It wasn't so much a gesture of submission as it was a yielding gesture. He would see where this led. Before Thomas even spoke, Dr. Archeville could already tell he would agree to the proposition.

Without taking his eyes off of the doctor he spoke. His tone was much more relaxed, "I have lived in this city most of my life. I know it rather well. Though I admit that there are parts of it that I am just learning." Thomas folded his arms. "So lets assume you know at least as much as I do about what happened last night. That will make things easier. I don't know how you know. Rest assured I will find out. But for now let's start with that."

What have I gotten myself into? Thomas thought. "If you know things about this gang, I admit it would be helpful. So I will agree to trade information. Though if you could do me one small favor? Lose the silver." It was not a request. "It stinks." Thomas' nose wrinkled.

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That sounds like a reasonable enough request; let me just-

What? No! I am the Alpha Male here, he will obey me!

... a mix of negative and positive reinforcement works better when conditioning a pet than just negative or just positive. You need the the stick and the carrot, fear and trust.

but-

And the force field and flight capabilities of the gravimetric belt will keep you well out of his reach, should things go FUBAR.

......... fine.

"Done...," the Doktor said, then he disappeared in an odd warp of light.

He then reappeared a few seconds later via another warp, in the exact same spot, "... und done. I dropped it off at mein home."

"Now, how shall we determine who gets to ask de first qvestion, hrm?," he asked, rising a few inches off the ground and swaying slightly side to side as if in an invisible tether. "Rock-Paper-Scissors? Or do you have some other preferred method of determining someding by random chance?"

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"Hmm." Thomas re-considered the man of science before him. It was finally clear that the man had much more up his sleeve than a few pieces of silver and a lot of preparation. It never ceased to amaze Thomas, how much he looked at things from Wolf's perspective. Like a hunter prowling at the edge of campfire light, Thomas continued the conversation with wary observation. "We could flip a coin." he said, reaching into his pockets and pulling out the bottoms. "Though I do not have one at the moment."

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"Fortunately," the Doktor said as he began searching his pockets, "I do always carry some spare change mit me."

Shame I don't have a silver dollar.

Most of those were bullion, and so could not easily be used in soda machines or phones.

Pft, as if I needed money to make those give me what I want.

No! Stealing is wrong!

"Ah, here ve go," he said after a moment, producing a bright, shiny quarter. He showed both signs to Thomas, then flipped it. "Call it."

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"Heads!" Thomas called shortly after the coin left the Doctor's hand. He watched it flip through the air, could even smell the various metals wafting away from the spinning coin. He watched it all the way until it landed in the Doctors hand once more, heads up.

"Looks like I'm first then. So, Viktor, how did you find out?" Thomas had been dying to know what he had done wrong? Where had he goofed, and given up his secret? How could he avoid doing it again? Too late, he realized that by asking this question first, he may have given a little too much ground. He attempted to keep his face as unreadable as possible all the same.

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Oh, now this is a conundrum.

Howso?

Do I brag about my Science!, and let him know that there's no spot in this city I cannot see... or play it close to the chest, and not let him know how far my eyes can see.

... that is a delicate situation. A show of power could give us more 'Alpha Dog' status, but it could also paint us as a bigger threat to him, and he would clam up and not reveal anything more.

"'How'?," the Doktor repeated. "Quite simple, really: I happened to be passing by, und saw it all for meinself. No surprise you did not notice me, as I vas cloaked at de time."

At that, Archeville faded from sight. This was more than invisibility, though, for he faded even from Lukos' sense of smell!

And then he reappeared, smiling. "My turn, ja? How long haff you been a verevolf? Vas it someding you vere born mit, or did you contract it from a bit?"

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Thomas visibly relaxed a little more now that their conversation was underway. When Dr. Archeville faded from sight, Thomas slowly nodded in understanding. That makes sense. Not that I was in much of a state to notice strangers last night anyway. He also took care to note that while the man was concealed, he could not smell the doctor.

"I was bitten," Lukos replied slowly nodding, "It has been about two years since then." a touch of sadness entered his voice. He wanted to say more, but decided to pursue fair play. He didn't want to give up too much information about himself.

"Back to me." Thomas folded his arms in front of himself. "What do you intend on doing with this information once I give it to you. It is obviously sensitive information, would it be too much to ask that it remain confidential?"

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Ha! So he acknowledges we have power over him! Excellent... excellent!

Keep it nice! Keep it steady!

"I am a Doktor," the man replied, bowing ever-so-slightly, "und patient confidentiality is someding I am qvite used to. If it is your wish dat such information remains confidential, und keeping it so does not threaten anyvon, den I shall do so."

And he would, too, despite never having taken the Hippocratic Oath. But he didn't need to do that, because he was -- or, at least, he kept telling himself he was -- a hero, one that others should trust and depend upon.

Lycanthropy provided an interesting case, though. Under most state statutes, doctors and health–care providers generally have duties to report incidence of certain sexually transmitted diseases, communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, or other conditions deemed to be risks to the health and safety of the public at large. And lycanthropy, according to the legends that stated it could be transmitted via a bite or scratch, could be considered one of those. (Vampirism held many of the same concerns.)

We.. we may have a duty to report him, to-

To who? The CDC? You think they could handle this? Ha!

... yes, I suppose I am the one most qualified for the task. Well, me of Quark.

*sounds of choking on rage*

Archeville rolled his head, appearing to work a kink out of his neck. "As for vhat I shall do mit de information: I am conducting a series of investigations into so-called 'Supernatural Menaces,' to separate de rumors und myths from de scientific truth. Mein excursion last evening was to be a vampire hunt, but after several hours of getting novhere, und den after seeing you, I decided to change mein plans."

"Which brings me to mein next qvestion: are you limited to vhen you can change, or to de amount of time you may remain in a given form?"

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Thomas dutifully shook his head in answer. He was warming up to this man, he seemed pleasant enough. "Neither, doctor. I could change right now if I wanted to." Thomas looked a tad bit unsure of himself. "But I would never want to transform in public. It is too much of a personal thing. Last night was... I lost control." Ashamed, Thomas hung his head. "But then, getting shot tends to send people into a panic."

Thomas shook his head, trying to get himself back on topic. "As for changing for a certain time, there is no limit to that that I know of. Granted when I am in wolf form, Wolf tends to take over," Dr. Archeville noted, Thomas' use of the word Wolf as a proper noun. Like he was another person. "So I don't always keep track of how long I run for. I usually just wake up the next day in the den." He gestured to the forest. "I can't say whether that is a limitation, or if it is just a natural occurrence." Thomas shrugged, unable to give a better answer.

"My turn again. You mentioned Vampires. In two years as part of this world, I've seen them from time to time, but never really had much interaction with them." Thomas decided not to get into what he thought of the creepy bloodsuckers, "Is there an organized group of them in the city, or what?"

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"Fascinating..." he replied, "but how do yo- oh, forgive me, I must answer your query first before I pose mein next qvestion."

Do not mention Jack!

Oh, now why would I do that?

... I am not going to say, because I do not want to inadvertently give you any ideas!

Pft, as if you could have any ideas I'd be interested in taking.

"Organized group of vampires..." he began. "Vell, dat is in fact von of de dings I vas hoping to find out. I haff heard rumors of such, ja, a rudimentary hierarchy mit de oldest und most powerful ruling de younger, veaker vons de vay Medieval kings vould rule over deir vassals. I had also heard dat de city's 'Vampire Qveen' vas destroyed not too very long ago, by von of her own childer, und now he rules de city's vampires, but not all vere villing to transfer deir loyalties to him, so some broke off, either forming deir own courts of just acting independently."

All largely true, as far as he knew, based on the snippets he'd gleaned from Avenger during their time together with the Knights, and their later meetings.

"As I said, dough," he continued, "dese are all merely rumors I haff heard, und von part of mein projekt is seeking to verify de social structure of de city's vampires."

"Now, mein next qvestion..." He paused a moment, appearing to think on the matter; in truth he already knew every question he was going to ask, but he liked to draw things out for theatricality. "Are verevolves typically organized into packs, like regular volves, or are dey loners by nature?"

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"Doctor." Thomas leveled his gaze with the scientist. "I struggle to think of any Werewolf being able to survive without a pack." Thomas glanced around at the street. Some of the rest of the city was beginning to come to life. "There are ones that do," He continued. "We call them renegades. They are by far the most dangerous of us." Thomas struggled to find a way to properly describe the situation. So he decided to use an example. "When you're bitten, all you get is a wound that heals quickly and a bad fever that lasts until the first full moon. Oh, and do not forget the excruciating pain of your body changing itself into essentially an entirely different creature." Thomas frowned, remembering what he had gone through. "This is all before you even have your first change. Which is something else entirely." He fixed Dr. Archeville with his gaze once more. "The pack is more than just some sort of social club. It is a network, a support group. The pack is family. I cannot imagine what one would go through without it. Many go insane. And for good reason."

Thomas looked back out over the street. Run. Wolf begged him. He refused to listen.

He sure knows how to ask good questions. Thomas determined. Time to return the favor. I wonder what he will think of this. Thomas thought to himself. "Doctor," He asked without looking at the man, "What keeps you awake at night? What is it that scares you?"

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The Doktor nodded, then recited something he'd read once, years ago.

"Now dis is de law of de jungle -

As old und as true as de sky;

And de volf dat keep it may prosper,

But de volf dat shall break it may die.

As de creeper dat girdles de tree trunk,

The law runneth forward und back -

Und de strength of de pack is de volf

Und de strength of de volf is de pack."

That was the most likely answer, which is good, as this means there are more of them around.

Good? How can that possible be good?!

More subjects is always a good thing. Opportunities to observe social dynamics, wider samples for genetic testing of any bacterial or viral agent behind this, and biochemical assays of the people themselves, not to mention the chance to-

Flood the market with werewolf-fur coats! They'll be all the rage in Paris this fall!

No!

"Oh, now dat is a good qvestion," he responded, and he meant it. "Ignorance vould be de main von, vhich is vhat has driven me to dis projekt. De tendency of people to go through life mitout know vhat is around dem, knowing how dings vork -- it boggles de mind! Und I do not mean ignorance of dings like 'how does de tv remote vork,' I mean even basic dings like 'oh, how did I get pregnant' or 'oh, I hear I can cure dis STD by having sex mit a virgin und passing it on to dem'! Human civilization is over five thousand years old, yet it is still stuck on dis von vorld because it is plagued by its own stupidity!"

Whoa, whoa! Calm down!

Bah!

The Doktor placed his right hand over his chest, as if forcing his heart to slow down. He took a few deep breaths, "I apologize for dat outburst. I... I am usually better able to control meinself."

"Und speaking of control," he slipped back into his calm interviewer's tone, "you said earlier dat 'Volf' tends to take over vhen you change. So, Volf does not alvays take over? Sometimes you are in control vhen you are transformed?"

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After the first two lines of Dr. Archeville reciting the poem, Thomas joined right in. It was one he knew very well. Cliche or not, whenever he heard it, it made his heart race.

Thomas listened well to the scientist's response to his question. When the end of it got quite heated, he began to smile. Wolf was firing on all cylinders, now. Struck a nerve, it seems. He felt like he did last night when he was chasing that deer. Like he was pursuing prey through a forest, chasing it down, finding it's weak spot, going in for the kill.

Doctor Archeville's question jerked him back to his senses.

"Yes and no." He responded. "When I am like this," He waved his hands at his body, "Wolf tells me to do things. The instincts inside me beg me to perform certain actions, etc." He looked back up at Archeville. "When I change, it is almost exactly the opposite. I suggest what Wolf should do. He... Does not always listen. Though sometimes, if I try extremely hard, I can exert some of my will over him. But the reality is that after a Werewolf changes, it is really just instinct that drives them."

And for my next trick, Thomas thought, while preparing his question, I wonder what this will do to him.

"How, then, would it make you feel, Doctor, if I told you there may be no answers to what I am? What if I told you that no one has been able to figure it out yet. At least not that we know of. For instance, when a Wolf bites someone, they either change or they don't. There is no pattern. No application of wolfs bane or any other remedy seems to help or hurt your chances. How does that make you feel?"

In his own mind, Thomas was once again pursuing his prey.

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Thomas may have been a bit surprised to see a large smile break across the Doktor's face.

Fools, all of them! I shall find the pattern, and how to break it!

No, no, no, no, no! No breaking! No pogroms!

"I vould say dat is precisely why I am doing dis projekt: to find answers. At de risk of sounding immodest, I am von of de top scientific minds on de planet, mit both an immense depth und breadth of skill. Dere are few dings I cannot vork out, given enough time und data, und I am confident dat I could find a pattern to, und de underlying mechanism of, lycanthropy. Und a... reversal of de condition, if it vas so desired."

'Reversal of the condition'? You mean 'cure for your disease'!

In some ways, yes, but diplomacy and tact never hurt.

"Your mention of volfsbane is particularly interesting to me," he continued. "De legends are full of references to volfsbane in relation to verevolves, dough of course de details differ. Some legends claim dat it is toxic to dem, und a sure vay to kill von... vhich, after a fashion, is true, in dat volfsbane is a toxin to most lifeforms. Some claim it is merely a vay to vard von off, dat its smell is offensive to dem. Und other claims dat a remedy for lycanthropy can be concocted from volfsbane, either permanently removing de condition or holding it in remission for as long as de treatment is taken regularly. You said dat no application of it has made any impact on de condition -- does it haff any impact at all, physical or mental, or importance in terms of your culture und beliefs?"

Their 'culture'? Colonies of lepers don't have their own culture, neither would-

They do, actually, due to their shared experiences and other commonalities. Just like any ghetto.

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"Well, then, doctor, I am glad that you are up to the challenge." Thomas nodded, then he seemed to be distracted for a moment.

A cure. But... Would I want one?

Jolting back to reality he continued, "Wolfsbane does have effects on us. Though as you say, they are likely more psychological than anything. I've never heard of it being involved with a cure. Not a real one, anyways, so that last part is probably a hoax. Though, I don't see why it wouldn't be toxic to us just like it would be to humans."

Around them, the streets were really coming to life. People were starting to walk their dogs, or to venture out for breakfast. Thomas looked uneasy.

"The first pats," Thomas continued in spite of his unease, "Do have some weight to them. The smell IS offensive. It stinks worse than silver. I suppose that's why the call it wolfsbane, but then I would venture a guess that it stinks to any animal with a keen nose. It probably has something to do with the the chemicals that make it toxic irritate one's nose when they are airborne as well. But, I do not want to do your job for you, doctor. Where would be the fun in that?"

"I suppose it would drive us off." Thomas smiled, "In much the same way that a waste treatment plant repels people. Not those don't have the same effect on us. But kill us? Not likely. It may be poisonous, but our bodies are a lot more resilient than yours."

Thomas put a finger to his mouth, and tapped it. He seemed to be considering something. Before long, he spoke, "My next question, doctor, is an easy one. Is there any place a little more formal we may continue this discussion? It is getting crowded here on the streets, and does not seem to be warming up either. I can never be to careful where I talk about these things, either. You never know who is listening."

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Aww, is da wittle puppy getting cold?

Oh, not this again...

"Dat vould be fine," he said with a warm smile. "Do you know of any good places around dis part of de city? I rarely venture out here, dough I do know of a few good places some blocks up, in de Theatre District. I vas dere a few weeks ago, at a performance of Kafka's Metamorphosis. It was... qvite unique. You vould be surprised at de quality of de food at some of de places dere; de people running dem know struggling performers haff little money, but dey make some exquisite dishes mit simple foods, for cheap, in order to draw dem back in."

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"I am not familiar with this part of the city either." Thomas replied. "I usually just pass through here on the way to the forest." Thomas shrugged. "If you know a place nearby, that would be fine."

Thomas looked around himself again, suddenly unsure. "Do we walk? Take a taxi? Or can you do that disappearing act for multiple people?"

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No taxis!

'Wormhole Express' it is.

The Doktor took what looked like a high-tech magic wand from his labcoat pocket, and pressed a few tiny buttons on it. He then pulled his coat back a bit to access his belt, which was covered in blue lights and lines. He slid back a small metal panel on the belt, pulled a thin cable out from it, and connected it to one end of the wand.

"Now I can take us both," he replied, holding the wand in one hand and reaching out for Thomas' shoulder with the other.

You know, reaching out and touching a wolf without his consent is a good way to get your hand bitten off.

What? This is a friendly gesture! Oh, I suppose it is best to err on the side of caution.

He paused, "Er, I do haff to be touching you to bring you along. Is dat alright?"

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