The game begins in Washington, DC, present day. There’s a Tea Party rally on the National Mall; the organizers claim 100,000 attendees, but independent reports place it at a quarter of that. Nevertheless, Washington has been crawling with Tea Partiers for the last few days.
Used bookstore owner John Addams (John) is completely sold out of Ayn Rand and at the end of his patience. The last batch of right-wing semiliterates leave his Dupont Circle storefront about the time the representatives of Books-a-Bunch arrive to make him an offer on his space. John makes it clear that he has no interest in selling out to “Box-o-Books” and points them toward one of his competitors; they leave as John’s clerk, Ellora Danan Murphy, vegan Art History/Woman’s Studies undergraduate and Gardnerian witch, arrives with his very meaty sandwich from Subway. She tells him that the Books-a-Bunch representatives had been by earlier and had offered to let her manage this branch when they buy John out. He’s dismissive and hungry, a feeling only momentarily dampened by a strong, nasty animal smell that goes as soon as it arrives.
Sharon Larsson (Sharon) is having a worse sort of day. She’s been suspended for the FBI with pay after an incident where she put the Syrian suspect through the wall of an interrogation room. She wanders through the apartment she shares with DC cop Detective Jake Rosenthal, feeling at loose ends, and she catches the same animal scent. She tries to track it through the apartment and finds two gigantic ravens sitting on her headboard. They warn her to watch out for the “first wolf of the world” and then fly past her and disappear. Shaken, she gets online to find any mention of this wolf; all she comes up with are references to the various wolves in Norse mythology (esp. Fenrir). She goes out running to clear her head and stop the hallucinations.
William Quentin-Coates (Will) is live-blogging from the steps of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum; he owns and runs a popular progressive blog and he has operatives all over Washington gathering information. His old acquaintance Detective Rosenthal, on horseback, drops by to say hello and ask Will to stay out of trouble. As he leaves Will catches a singularly un-horsey animal stink. Then he either has an idea or loses patience, puts away his laptop, and starts moving toward the Tea Partiers on the mall.
He is observed by James Broadstreet (Jim), the recently named National Geographic photographer-in-residence. Political rallies are not his usual fare, but he’s walking through this one and he sees a potential paycheck. He first sights Will a moment after he sees what he thinks is the tail-end of a gigantic wolf disappearing around the corner of the Natural History museum. He fails to get his camera in position in time to catch this hallucination, but he does sight the semi-famous political wunderkind walking into the bustle of misspelled signs and chanting. Will relieves a protester of his bullhorn, putting the owner to sleep with a word, and as Jim snaps photo after photo Will steps up onto a park bench and announces through the bullhorn, “You are all terrible people who must be stopped.”
Every protester within two hundred feet looks startled, crestfallen, frightened. Some drop to the ground, sobbing. Some raise their second-amendment-approved firearms to their mouths and summarily end the problem. Some look around and see all these other terrible people who must be stopped and realize that they can do something about it with those same second-amendment-approved guns. Shots are fired; the protesters outside the range of Will’s bullhorn notice and more shots are fired, and suddenly it’s Tombstone.
Will runs into a port-a-potty and a moment later Jim sees a great black bird shoot through its roof and into the sky, away from the melee – just about the time the mounted police arrive. Sharon Larsson is a block away from the mall when the shooting starts. She draws her weapon and runs in; she deftly shoots the guns out of Tea Partier hands, but there are many more firearms than she has bullets. News and police helicopters descend on the scene and Detective Rosenthal rides up to Sharon. A bullet catches him in mid-sentence and he drops to the ground; Sharon begins first aid.
Over the next hour, the police quell the riot on the mall and Jim takes a lot of pictures. He finally arrives at National Geographic Headquarters several hours late for his meeting with Professor Rutherford Smith-Tipton, a director of the Society, who doesn’t approve of his freewheeling style. Jim meets his assistant Warren Nbutu and they get to work downloading and processing his photos.
That evening Smith-Tipton and John Addams meet at Addams’s apartment for drinks and conversation. They discuss certain rare manuscripts about which they share an interest. Suddenly they become aware of the smell of smoke; they run down to the bookstore and put out the fire that has sprung up, apparently from nowhere. After the fire department and police arrive, Addams prevents Smith-Tipton from walking away with a VERY rare edition of the Book of Thoth.
Sharon is returning to her apartment from the hospital, where Detective Rosenthal is in stable but serious condition, to find her townhouse on fire. The fire department prevents her from running into the burning building to rescue her cat, but John Addams, who lives only a block or two away, appears with her cat, saying he rescued it from a nearby alley. He offers to put her up for the night.
Jim leaves the National Geographic Society well after midnight and as he crosses the mall, he realizes he is being followed. He stops a car to ask for help and a VERY tall, singed looking brute picks the car up and lobs it toward the Lincoln Memorial. He turns to Jim and tells him he made a mistake walking alone on a night like tonight.
[end of session]