Dark Wysteria: Young Joshua Stark

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" A good set up. I used to know Socks... He probably wouldn't know me from Adam now. You say there were just body parts in that house ? I have a couple of thoughts. Two strong possibilities for your bodies. Could you tell if they were supernal ? In my timeline, there was a war between rival supernal groups. There were several bodies found and more missing below the bricks. Another big possibility is a nasty werewolf pack below the bricks. We came into conflict with them in the other timeline. "

He stops and takes a long drink of water.

" Have you discussed the case with House Brahams ?"
 
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"At this moment we have no clue. We're waiting for lab results on the blood. We're trying for some DNA match-ups. And we are attempting face recognition on the head. This takes a while and has to be done with a certain amount of 'fudging' on submitted requests for lab analysis, as you might imagine."

He pauses and briefly looks at you as if he's trying to do a quick 'read' on you again. "I'm actually hoping for results no later than tomorrow morning. For some reason, just a day ago we got some extra support from Police Commissioner Brown right out of the fucking blue." He chuckles as he turns left and begins heading out of Railside and into West Riverside. "It's crazy. Many of the things we had to hedge on due to the supernatural aspect of the cases are now expedited and given specific enabling channels to pursue information and leads." He laughs out loud and quips "It's almost as if she's one of us!" He laughs again and then suddenly begins to seriously frown. He looks back at you quickly and goes silent for a moment. Officer Hayden is, after all, a chief investigator. Putting bits and pieces of clues together to create a fact is his job.

"A new precinct is being established in Astoria Heights. Precinct #19. It's another precinct controlled by Supernaturals." He pauses for a minute as if trying to decide how to explain, "The difference between #19 and the existing #13 and #17 is that Police Commissioner Brown is establishing it directly and reached out to Tang and Potts to coordinate it. With #13 and #17, they were normal precincts that we 'took over' secretly in order to protect and police supernatural communities. This is why Tang was so curious as to know what your relationship was with Brown."

He pulls in front of Stark House and parks. As he begins grabbing stuff up from behind his seat -- a flashlight, notebook, camera, etc.; he tells you "As we go in and through the structure, keep behind me until I tell you I'm finished. I have a few additional things to recheck and I don't want you to accidentally touch or step on anything. As soon as I'm done with this, I can indicate that this is no longer a police crime site and call a hazmat team in to clean the place up for you. They're all 'family' and it's a free clean-up so you should take advantage of it."

He takes out his smartphone and voice records a text message. "Officer Hayden at Stark Crime Site with Temporary Officer Stark. Switching on body cam now." He puts the smartphone back in his coat pocket and drawls as he exits his car, "Let's hit it!"

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Dark Wysteria
 

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Joshua was quiet during the drive. He didn't want to give mister lead detective any more clues about Brown if he could help it. Though it was interesting how *his* Brown was reacting to her return and increasing the presence of supernatural police. Though he did approve he kept a straight face, even when Detective Hayden seemed to figure something out.

When they pulled up to Stark house, Joshua sat through all of the instructions given again, quietly. His mind though was suddenly filled with fragmented memories of his childhood at Stark House. It was as if something was knocked loose and broken open in his head. He got out after a moment, standing over by Hayden.

" I've never had so many memories at once, it's almost overwhelming Detective Hayden "
 
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You stand once again on the sidewalk in front of Stark House listening to Officer Hayden give you instructions on how to not disturb anything until he has completed his final checks. Your mind floods with memories -- memories of a present time of long ago. The front lawn is missing many things. For one, in the previous timeline there had been a five-foot wide stone walk leading from the sidewalk to the front steps. Now there is only grass The two glorious cherry blossom trees that had previously graced the front of the house on either side of the original stone walk have been replaced with stunted little green trees that obviously haven't been cared for much. The large stone flourishes on the roof had actually been proper stone gargoyles in the previous timeline. What differences waited for you inside?

Officer Hayden, having completed his instructions, walks across the lawn to the bottom of the steps and cuts the police crime scene tape down. He continues up the steps and cuts more tape off the doors and entered. The lock on the door has been broken making it impossible to actually lock the door. Just before he enters, you notice him pause to take out his gun, take flip the safety off, insure the gun is loaded, and then place it back in the shoulder holster.

It doesn't actually take him long to complete his final investigation. He takes quite a few pictures, explaining that the original pictures taken either didn't include a certain angle or close-up or had been too blurry. He takes two more samples of something -- one form the floor by the stairs leading up to the second level from the foyer and one from a window sill in the kitchen, explaining that the original samples had been accidentally contaminated. He finishes by spraying an area of the wall with some solution then putting a sheet of some kind of coated paper over it and pressing. When he pulls it off the wall, it shows scratches and finger prints. He explains, "It was logged that this section had indicators, but they forgot to take a print." He shakes his head and laughs, "Nobody wants to stay in here and take their time. So mistakes are made. Mistakes which can totally foil an investigation."

He looks at you for a moment, then around the foyer. "Well, it's all yours as soon as the Hazmat Team cleans it up." He whips out his smartphone, hits an icon on the screen, and waits for the phone to ring through and a voice to answer on the other end. "Kathy. Send a Hazmat Team to Stark House. Consider this a priority request. Include a squad car. Stark House Crime Scene terminated." There's a "will do" from the other end and Hayden hangs up.

The entire time he was on the phone he was looking at you. Not a negative or judgmental look. More of a "what are you really all about" sort of look. Curious people make great detectives.

"Do you plan to take immediate possession?" he asks.
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Dark Wysteria
 

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Joshua seemed thoughtful looking back at the house.

" This is the first time I have had such vivid memories about a place so deeply in my past. What I have become since my … rebirth, the reason Prometheans always travel , is the fact that the world around us begins to .. well, for lack of a better word, spoil like rotten fruit. When I came to this place, I found three things, this old house, people to care for, a city to care for. My Gypsy family. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have those things after years on the road. "

"Wysteria has given me hope Detective Hayden. Every Promethean out there, is like Pinocchio, he or she just wants to be human. For the record, you know by now, if Brown wants you to know something, she isn't shy about it. Perhaps Detective, this is a change for the good. Wysteria has many ugly dark secrets, and now Brown has a grip on how to deal with them. "

Joshua looks happy now, memories of childhood, playing at this house dancing through the dusty parts of his brain.

" Yes, I will take possession when allowed, but I think I will work on it a bit before moving in, so my love and his ward might be happier here. Thank you Detective. If you don't mind the overload of strange I might still produce, I would love to have you and a guest over for dinner when the place is fixed up. "
 
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Two days later, you get a call from Captain Tang. "Brown ordered the Hazmat team to change the locks on all entries. These were damaged during the investigation. The City has picked up the bill. I'm afraid that most of the carpeting was too contaminated to salvage. Most of the exposed wooden floors have been severely damaged. The City has included a reimbursement check, also as per Brown."

You hear her clicking on a keyboard briefly and then "Oh, just to let you know, I am being transferred to Precinct #19 immediately. Officer Hayden is being promoted to Captain of Precinct #17. You can pick up your keys, the check, and the forms giving you permission to assume occupancy and control of the structure at the front desk." Officer Tang wishes you well and hangs up.

Within an hour, you have procured the packet from the Sargent at the front desk. Stark House is, once again, yours.

*** END OF EPISODE ONE ***
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Dark Wysteria
 

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*** EPISODE TWO ***

It was getting really late and you were actually starting to get fatigued -- a rare event for you. You had been finishing up the restoration of the tile floor in the foyer of Stark House and had not wanted to quit until the job was done. With the final sealing coat on the floor, you were just climbing the stairs to retire for the night when your smartphone burbled. Literally, it burbled. You had captured the voice of Police Commissoner Brown after her second slice of Burbleberry Pie a few months back and for some reason you had become enchanted with it. Caller ID showed "Dalaigh Bricolage" -- unexpected at this time of night, but a pleasant surprise, nonetheless. You answered immediately.

Sadly, it was not a cosy phone call. Instead it was about the worst phone call you could get. Dark Wysteria had been attacked. There were deaths. Dalaigh knew you would want to know and he was correct. You grabbed your keys, vaulted over the railing and onto the hallway floor to avoid treading on the foyer's newly restored floor, and headed out the back. It was only with great restraint that you kept from breaking (too many) DMV regulations as your rocketed towards Dark Wysteria. "There has been deaths" Daligh had told you. Your heart was pounding.

You arrived at the gates to the Estate within twenty minutes of receiving Daligh's call. Or, more accurately, you arrived at what was left of the gates. Both halves of the gigantic iron gates were gone along with huge chunks of the walls on both sides. Yellow police tape was taped to each side to denote a crime scene and three police barriers blocked the entrance.

Two police cars were parked in the street. Two police officers stood in front of the barriers talking and writing on clipboards. Two more police officers were standing about 30 feet down the sidewalk photographing and taping off a section of the wall. You could see by the lights from the police cars that scrawled on the wall in what looked like blood was "Greetings from the 'Dark Poppins'". If your heart had been pounding before, it was exploding now.

One of the officers, a short woman, strides up to your truck shining her flashlight into the window at you. "Crime scene, no entry..." She stops as she recognizes you and brings the flashlight around under her chin highlighting her face. Officer Penny Potts. Make that Inspector Penny Potts and head of the 13th Precinct. "Ah, Mr. Stark. I can't say that it's good to see you under the circumstances. It looks like Lady Wyst is calling in everyone." She nods towards the wall. "And it looks like we have fallen into an unseasonable Autumn."

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Dark Wysteria
 
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Joshua

" Congratulations inspector.. Yes, unfortunately, all hands on deck. It's been a long while since I liked Autumn. You will pardon me ?"

He is a largish fellow.. Tonight he is wearing on obvious knife.... A big knife.

Driving away from Potts, there is a sigh. Memories from a pleasant time. More pleasant at least. He goes slowly by the gatehouse... More memories.

He drives his newly restored and renovated Frankenstein truck towards the main gate. Parking, he walks slowly to the main door. An estate pin firmly and obviouly attached.

A loud knock on the door and he waits. When it is answered.. He introduces himself. "Joshua Wells Stark reporting for duty !"
 
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As you drove up the winding road to the Estate, you could see Estate guardians watching you as you passed. Some of them recognized you and nodded. All of them looked grave at best and enraged at worst.

When the door to the Estate opened, it was Sammy Vimes that greeted you, his PBX headphone cable dangling from his headset. His eyes were red and his cheeks stained with tears. He smiled briefly, a sad but warm smile.

"It is good to see you" he said motioning you to follow him back to the PBX so that he could plug back in if needed. "I'm afraid Lady Wyst isn't available" he nodded towards her closed office doors. "She's in with Barry and Debriss discussing what to do. She is... consumed with rage."

He swallowed a bit and took a deep breath. "Jacq and Dora are dead. The blast at the gate took out the groundskeeper's cottage and they were both in it." He choked back a sob.

"Your old gang has been given tasks and they are all out doing whatever they need to do. Pat is helping Jacob close down and secure the rail station until further notice. You might go talk to her."

He started to plug his headset back into the switchboard, but stopped and turned slowly. He made eye contact briefly, then mumbled "I'm glad you are here. It's good to see everyone rallying for Dark Wysteria." He then turned back to the switchboard and slumped into his chair.
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It is with no small amount of grief that Joshua gives Sammy a gentle pat on the shoulder & turns away. He heads back outside to find Pat Cortez at the rail station.

Joshua has never been a big fan of change despite a constant supply of it. His tim here at the estate was a welcome and for him relatively stable period. At least until the weed induced 300 year sleep.

He though about the situation, gradually trading grief for rage. He did his best to control himself. His kind had a reputation for out of conttol rage. Worse still... It was the Autmn court. He had a personal grudge there.
 
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When you arrive at the Station, you find Pat Cortez and Jacob Hawkins standing on the landing surveilling the entire view of the rails including where they disappear into a "natural" tunnel to the left of the Station and what looks like a tunnel you would find routing rails under a street in any city to the right. The "natural" tunnel appears to have been blocked by huge boulders. The "city underpass" appears to have been bricked up. You suspect that there is a little bit more involved in securing the passages than this -- namely Fae contracts and other bindings.

Pat nods at you soberly and walks to meet you, giving you an earnest hug. Pat introduces you to Jacob who shakes your hand warmly. You remember Jacob Hawkins well. He had replaced Charles Whitmeyer as Stationmaster when Lady Siabra had become Lady Wyst. She had replaced the normal trains operating in and out of Dark Wysteria with French trolleys and this had infuriated Whitmeyer who was a "proper" Stationmaster for a "proper" Station. Unfortunately, in this timeline, Hawkins did not remember you. You briefly wonder what reason Whitmeyer had for leaving since Lady Siabra was never Lady Wyst in this timeline.

Pat wraps her arm around yours and says "I suppose you heard what happened. Are you here to help?"

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Joshua Struak/Stark

Joshua too is solemn at best. He is wearin boots and work clothes.

"Yes, Pat... I sm pretty good with tools, strong and don't wear out easily!"

He manages a brief, albeit thin smile.
 
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"Good!" Pat pats you hardily on the shoulder. "Go tell Gifranda you are here to help her. She's on the North side of the Estate. You should be able to find here somewhere around the far end of the north wing."
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So Joshua smiles at tge pat on the shoulder then turns and wanders in the direction of the far end of the North wing. He keeps his eyes open, particularly looking for Gifranda of course.
 
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As you pass around behind the end of the North Wing you are surprised to see what looks like buildings being erected up on a hill that used to be covered in trees. To the best of your memory the hill is not visible from outside the Dark Wysteria walls. This means that it is further into the mysterious and magical bubble that is Dark Wysteria than the square mile marked by the walls. There are a number of people working on the hill and Gifranda Saggitara is visible barking orders to a few. She appears to have an owl sitting on her shoulder. As you approach, the Owl looks at you and hoots -- almost a smug look if owls can have such. Gifranda turns and seeing you grins. Waving she walks towards you.

"Whom told me you were coming" she says, jabbing a thumb toward the smug owl sitting on her shoulder. "Pat sent her to let me know." She shakes your hand and points over her shoulder at the buildings. "We're building a small village for the Changelings. They aren't safe in New Wysteria right now with that goddamn bitch from the Autumn Courts loose in the City."

She motions for you to follow her up to the top of the hill. At the top she waves her hand around "Proper little suites and flats both above ground and below with some access to the crypts far below for those who need such." She turns to you and asks "How can you help us? What are your skills?"

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He smiles and pats a weathered tool bag.

"I am a maker, a builder and fixer Ma'am!. Metal, wood and drywall. Even roofing if you have need! Just give me an idea what you need."
 

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"Good!" she says, pounding you on the back. "A lot of the materials are being summoned from the Hedge and Arcadia. But a lot of stuff needs to be from the mortal realm to help keep the Changelings' clarity on an even keel. We're actually only creating the structures and living spaces. They'll all be empty. The Changelings will want to do their own thing in each of the spaces."

She walks over to a table and pulls out a small stack of papers that she starts rifling through. "Here we go" she says as she hands you three pieces of paper that have lists on them. The lists contain everything from wood and cold iron rods, cans of paint and shellac, paint brushes, thinner, panels, and lots of various bolts of fabrics to special planting soil, fertilizer, and seeds. You realize it's basically they're DIY lists.

"We need this stuff stockpiled as soon as possible so that as the Changelings come in, they can dig through the stuff and take what they need. Of course, they'll be bringing a lot of their own personal items; but we don't want them to make a lot of trips in and out of Dark Wysteria once they get here." She puts her hand on your arm and squeezes it, "Looks good?"

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Dark Wysteria