Wolves In The Library


berlin_icon.gif emily_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Wolves In The Library
Synopsis A group of young investigators swap knowledge…
Date November 27, 2018

Doyle Memorial Library

A restored, 19th-century carriage house, this library rests between two much larger buildings. Opened in March of 2018, this Library serves the public. This 2,600 square foot building acts as a learning space for the youth of the New York Safe Zone. The services and books within catering primarily to children and young adults, with classes and clubs to enrich and entertain.

The building is named in honor of Eric Doyle, a Ferryman, who sacrificed his life in a daring raid on the Cambridge Institute facility, where dozens of children were being held.

When Berlin makes her way into Gillian’s library, she’s a little timid about it. She carries a copy of Wolves of Valhalla in her arms, held protectively against her. She’s not nearly as bundled for the weather as she should be, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Her steps take her to the information desk where she peeks around for Gillian herself and does her best not to look at the memorials around the building.

Her eyes, at the moment, are a bright blue like the sun bouncing off turquoise. When she sets the book down on the counter, she’s gentle like she’s afraid it might break.

Misbehaving central heating at the apartments would have made for a cold day until maintenance stopped by, leaving Emily to seek out her entertainment elsewhere for the day. She sits cross-legged, her chair pulled up to a table she's set up her laptop on. Content as could be, she stretches her arms above her head and peers about the library while yawning. It's been interesting people-watching — the various students of the community classes coming and going, other kids and their adults with them. It's definitely a different crowd than she sees when parked at a café, and it's a pleasant change of pace … even if the odd question from a wandering child makes her freeze in place when it happens.

The sweep stops prematurely, along with her stretch, as she sees the young woman by the information desk. She lowers her arms, reaching with one to nudge Squeaks gently. "Hey, you know her?" Emily asks softly, looking back toward the desk. She looks lost. Or new. Or something. Definitely out of place, at any rate. Emily's curious, but doesn't have any intention of sliding her shoes back on at the moment.

For Squeaks, the library is a pretty normal place for her. She’s almost always there if she can’t be found at any of her other normal places. And she’s usually found with her face in a book. That’s how she is today, sharing a table with Emily, reading a rather large book that’s open in front of her. Psychic Phenomena: Illustrated Edition is probably not a title that young teens typically take interest in, but she seems very interested in it.

It’s definitely way more better than the math textbook that is closed and half hidden under the open one.

She doesn’t look up right after being nudged, the sentence she’s reading has to be finished first. “What?” she asks after that. Her face lifts up from the book and she looks at Emily then follows the older girl’s look. It’s no secret that Squeaks knows most of the regular visitors, at least by sight, and also some probably by name now. But she doesn’t know Berlin. “No. I don’t think I ever saw her here before.”

It isn’t people watching exactly, but with her power active, Berlin can sense Emily after a fashion. She turns to look that direction, almost as if she somehow heard them talking about her. Her gaze moves from Emily to the book Squeaks had chosen. Her head tilts for a moment, curious.

She slides the book off the counter, unwilling to leave it alone as she makes her way over to the table.

“Excuse me,” she says— she tries to be gentle, but the words come out blunt all the same— “have either of you seen Ms. Childs?”

Emily arches an eyebrow as woman starts to approach them, then looks back to her laptop with something like a grumble. What did they look like, the welcoming committee? Probably. she's forced to concede, seeing as how the two looked like they'd been settled in for a while.

With the game she was playing properly paused, she folds the screen in slightly to shield it from being seen. She's not looking to be chatted up about her gaming habits at the moment.

The question is expected enough. "She's…" Emily starts to answer, scanning for Gillian and not immediately finding her either. She doesn't want her answer to be entirely unhelpful, so she follows it with, "What're you looking for?"

A look darts to Emily then returns to the stranger walking toward them. Unlike the older girl, she's more openly curious. At least a by a little bit, because new faces in the library are always something that's interesting. And it maybe even grows some when Berlin talks.

“Probably she's in her office.” She twists in her chair some to point the way, as she fills in for Emily's guess.

Turning back, she looks up at Berlin. “But she's busy a lot.” That's said more to supplement what Em has offered. “You can knock on her door if it's really for reals important. But the other librarians can help find things. Or help with the school classes.” Squeaks glances at her friend and then adds, “Or we can maybe help? If it's just finding things.”

Berlin looks over at Emily, expression flattening as she watches her face. “I’m looking for Ms. Childs,” she replies to her question. And she looks as if she might leave, but Squeaks gets her attention. “I’m looking for Wolves of Valhalla.”

Nevermind that she’s holding that very book in her hands right now.

“And I want to ask Ms. Childs if she knows where she got her copies. I’m… investigating something.” There’s a pause before she adds, “I work for Wolfhound,” to give her claim some legitimacy.

Emily quietly exhales away the patience she had been demonstrating, unwilling to waste the energy if the stranger was going to be cagey anyway. And that's what I get for trying to be helpful. At least the younger girl had more tact. She shifts a glance to Squeaks as Berlin mentions the book, her mood softening some from curiosity.

At least until Wolfhound is mentioned. Her expression sours, though she tries to hide it. Jesus, they're everywhere. Emily is deliberately avoiding looking at Berlin now, at least directly. She hastily sweeps her hair from her face, brushing it back behind her ear while her gaze wanders.

She does fix the book being held in her periphery, with all the unmasked suspicion someone might wear if they suspected the book would come alive. Or something near enough to it.

With a frown, Emily presses the laptop screen firmly closed, swinging her legs down off the chair to fish for her slip-ons with her toes. She's interested now, even if she's not happy about it.

"So, are you investigating the misprints, if you're asking about copies instead of content?" she asks, trying to keep her voice light. Not defensive, not aggressive… Emily tries. That much, at least, is apparent.

Nervousness makes Squeaks’ eyes go a little bit wide and dart to Emily and then back to Berlin. Wolfhound investigations? “Her copies,” she echoes quietly, those eyes finding the book the Wolfhound officer is holding. She shifts in her seat, eyes falling to the book she was reading just a minute ago. She doesn’t really look over the pages, her gaze is angled more at her sleeve-covered arm. Seconds later her eyes travel over the table to the shelves across from the table before lifting up to Berlin again.

“How come you’re looking?” It’s a reasonable question. The girl turns so she can better face the Wolfhound officer. “Did you find weird things in it? Because…” She leaves that thought to hang for a second, but it sounds like she’s pretty familiar with the book.

She slowly closes the book in front of her, hands smoothing over the cover then making sure the spines line up just right. Anxiously stalling while she thinks. “Is… Are… are you arresting people? Because of it? The book?” Squeaks might have sounded cautiously curious before, now she sounds worried. “Because… because… It’s not …It isn’t Mom’s — Gillian’s — fault there’s printing errors. It’s an accident. And…” There’s more to that thought, but instead of saying more she folds her lips inward and clamps down on them with her teeth.

There are a lot of questions suddenly. Berlin looks from Squeaks to Emily and back again with a slightly confused look on her face. "No," she says, lifting a hand at Squeaks' train of thought, "I'm not arresting anyone about anything. Definitely not Gillian Childs. No, I'm looking into it because— I think someone's— in trouble." She glances down at her own copy, read and reread, dogeared pages, notes in the margins. "I did notice the printing change." That, she doesn't seem to mind saying, although why someone might be in trouble— she's reluctant to explain that one. "Which, you know, is weird. I was hoping Ms. Childs knew where she got the library's copies from so I could trace it back and see if there's anything weird."

There's a glance over at Emily, but she seems to understand the reluctance to engage with Wolfhound, even if she doesn't know it's basis. She isn't the first. But since Squeaks seems more willing, she sets her book down and flips through the pages until she pulls out a slip of paper. "Have you noticed anything weird?" When she sets the paper down and slides it over to the younger girl, it ends up being a long row of seemingly random letters.


"Those were different the last time I opened this book."

Emily's head tilts as she catches sight of the letter string, her expression twisting. Half of it comes from the thought of more mind-numbing codebreaking, the other at the realization maybe Squeaks wasn't the only one being plagued by the little ink woman.

"Hey, whatever's going on with the book definitely isn't Gillian's fault." Her brow furrows as she airs that assurance, wondering why Squeaks would think something like that.

She looks back up to Berlin warily. "Someone in trouble." Emily echoes back, looking to the note and to Squeaks, her brow arching just a touch. Their little adventure was for the younger girl to bring up, if she was inclined.

Tenderly, she indicates the paper with a jut of her head. "Was there anything like a key that you saw that went with it?" Catching herself, she adds distractedly, "Like a word that appeared all in bold, or particular letters that… stood out more than the rest." She's not sure the additional explanation of what she's looking for will help or hurt, here.

With an exhale, relieved, the younger girl looks at Emily. She’s still a little worried, but at least not about anyone being arrested. “Yes,” she says for an answer, to the book being weird and to someone being in trouble. This is something she knows lots about. She slides her chair back to stand and picks her backpack up from the floor at the same time. But she doesn’t walk away. The bag is set on the table and dug through until she finds an old leather-cover journal. Holding the journal, a lot like the protective way Berlin was holding her book, she looks up at the Wolfhound officer.

“There’s this lady — we think she’s an ink-morph — but something happened.” As she explains, her head tilts so she can look at the scramble of letters. “She said she had to hide, and she ended up in the printing and got scattered.” Her head bobs toward Berlin’s book. “She said to look for her in those books. We’re trying to find all the pieces to put her back together.”

The journal, after she’s given the cliffnotes version of the weirdness, is carefully laid on the table. Squeaks opens the cover first to remove a bunch of loose papers, all with dots and dashes and words that match those scribbled onto them. Those are set aside and a lot of pages are turned through until she pauses on one that has zeros and ones on it, and the next another scramble of letters. “She talks in codes,” she explains, even turning over that page so the next one shows up blank. “It’s easier for her because she’s not whole.”

"Okay, I'm really glad you said that," Berlin notes as she pulls out a chair and sits down, "because the ink in my copy is alive." Since the girls already know what's going on, she listens to their observations and questions with an attentive ear. "That's why I wanted to find out where the books came from, to see if more of them were… like this one." Alive, that is.

She looks over at Emily, her question getting a crooked smile. "Do you know who Giovanni Battista Della Porta was?" This part is a rhetorical question, because she chugs right along whether they do or not. "He was a polymath and cryptographer who lived during the Renaissance. He wrote a piece called De Furtivis Literarum Notis about cryptography. I haven't read it yet; I don't even know how likely it is that any library has his works anymore, but from what I could find, he's attributed with the first digraphic substitution cypher." In America, at least. "But she was focused on his name. Porta. And Valhalla, that was the other word."

Emily has to resist letting out a chuckle as Berlin hooks in and begins sharing what she's seen. She's been there, after all. The slow lowering of her guard means the the long Italian name doesn't get a blank stare in response, and instead she's slowly opening her laptop back up, pulling up a browser. Thankfully, she doesn't have to bog down the library's wi-fi, able to search to her heart's content thanks to her GhostNet account. (If there had been a physical line formed for sign-ups, she probably would have been first.)

"Okay," she admits out loud, "That … doesn't sound like the cipher the ink lady mostly used. So let's…"

She trails off, lost in sifting through search results. Mostly, anyway.

"Emily, by the way." A short glance to Berlin is accompanied by an equally short nod before she refocuses her attention on her screen. She lifts one hand away from the keyboard to gesture for the paper wordlessly.

The name doesn’t spark any recognition, so all Squeaks does is shrug about it. There’s plenty of books, she can probably find who that Porta person is somewhere. Maybe at the bigger Brooklyn library. “She said there’s eight parts. And I’ve found…” She pauses and counts, holding out a finger for each one as she remembers. “Five so far.” She looks down at Berlin’s book, wondering if there’s really another piece there, or just inky weirdness.

“She’s used lots,” the younger girl says to remind Emily. “There’s Morse Code and …the one with the keyword. Wolves.” Then she motions to her journal and the pages before the blank one she stopped on. “Also, there’s binary and… Maybe it’s like that Porta thing?” She hasn’t really looked at it very closely yet.

“I’m trying really hard to help her.” She looks up at Berlin. “And she’s really very a lot alive. We saw her a bunch, but like an ink blob. Except one time she looked like a lady and she sassed my brother when he tried to catch her under a bowl.” Squeaks bites on her lips again, hesitating for a long, long minute. Then she tugs back one sleeve so the marks can all be seen. “She did this when she’s shown up. I don’t know what it says yet. But it doesn’t hurt or feel bad, I swear. It’s not dangerous.”

The ink on Squeaks’ arm feels as alive to Berlin as pieces of the ink in the book. More so for the moment, like a dying light flickering back into health, like a coma patient struggling to awaken. It almost feels like a tiny light flickering it’s way back from the depth of shadows. Or ink, in this case. The ink in Berlin’s book, the ink that is different from the normal, dry, dead ink, also seems to be fumbling toward that same kind of light. Some of the ink quivers, but doesn’t start moving around yet.

“Berlin,” she offers back to Emily, giving her a matching nod in return before she looks down to the marks on Squeaks’ arm. “That’s her. Part of her anyway.” She glances between the two, then down to her book. It’s precious to her, in an odd sort of way, but she doesn’t explain that when she slides the book over to the young girl. “Take that. Wherever you’re collecting the books, make sure they’re all together. She’s barely alive now, I’m not sure how long she has.” But the more of her there is together, the better her chances, Berlin figures. “I don’t know how much help I can be with the codes, but I can tell which books are holding her and which aren’t. If you ever need it.” Her ability might help her track the inkmorph down— at least if she happens across more of her. “If I find more of her, I’ll bring the books here.”

Emily grumbles for a moment, leaning far to swipe the paper with the code on it so she can start tapping it in. She settles back in on her wheelchair, glancing down to the note as she keys away.

Digraphic substitution ciphers did not look like fun. And the tools they were bringing back looked like they relied on a number offset instead of using a key. "Fuck." she murmurs to herself, dreading more math. Okay, you can tough this out. Emily encourages herself, looking down at the note again. Something still didn't feel right though.

"That Porta thing." she echoes Squeaks, blinking twice before she keys in a new search. If Vigènere had a cipher named after him…

"Hey, hey, that's progress." she goes back to mumbling, brow ticking up as there's actual results returned. Even better — this one calls for a keyword. That was more up her alley.

Emily falls quiet as Berlin explains, trying key after key. God bless the Internet.

Porta, no. Wolves, no. Valhalla — words.

What would have taken her hours before takes seconds to decode.


Speechless for only a moment, she lets them know with some surprise, "Yeah, you're right. She was caught off-guard, split apart. Didn't expect the shipment to be moved from the warehouse?" The tone of the note has the same insistent panic as some of the others. Hiding, not whole, can't get back. The warehouse is new.

Emily finally looks up between the two, flipping the screen around for them both to see the full message. Berlin's comment about being able to tell which ones she's hiding in is… interesting. Was that her power or something?

"Still begs the question as to who was after her that she needed to hide."

“She’s dying?” Squeaks’ answer to Berlin’s offer is a little loud and panicky. No one is supposed to die, especially not the ink lady. Worry marks her expression and she reaches for the book with as much care as the Wolfhound officer has shown it. She even sinks down to sit on the edge of her chair again. “Please don’t die,” is said much more quietly, nearly a whisper.

The young teen looks over at Emily as the cipher is read. Warehouse. The shipment was in a warehouse. That makes sense. And after the shipment went out, that’s how the ink lady got scattered.

“It might not be fast enough to have the books here.” Squeaks cautiously moves her fingers to rest near the quivery ink. “I should tell now.” That statement is joined with another look at Emily. She did pinky swear to tell if it got bad. “Because… what happens if she does die?” Her teeth clamp her lips together again and she stares at the inky spot in the book. Then she looks up at Berlin. “Maybe we should work together. So she has a better chance since you… how do you know what books?”

As they talk, there’s that shiver coming from the ink on Squeaks’ arm to start. She can feel it liquifying briefly, like the soft touch of something slick. Then the book that Berlin brought starts to bleed. Ink. It rolls down off the pages, part of it moving toward Squeaks, the rest hovers on the nearby table, as if waiting for something. It forms into a ink splatter, almost like one might see on some specific kind of blotted art, or one of those things that the psychiatrists ask what you see.

The rest slides up Squeaks skin, to rejoin the other strokes, forming two more.


“It does beg the question,” Berlin agrees with Emily, her tone darkening some. Warehouses and criminals are a bit more than she was expecting when she came in here, but. They’re right up her alley. “We need to research where the warehouses are in the Zone. There can’t be that many that have had shipments of books.” The one upside to New York’s current state.

She blinks when the book bleeds out the extra ink, watching as it joins the rest on Squeaks’ arm. “Also missing persons might help,” she says, a little distractedly as she really looks at the marks. “Is that Japanese?” This is not one of the languages she’s familiar with, unfortunately. “Maybe Yamagato Park is a good place to start.” Not that that is the only place where people who speak Japanese could be from, but it seems a good place to check off the list early. Her fingers reach out for the leftover ink, because her power works better through touch. She’s not sure it’ll work, but she tries to boost the life in this little splash.

“It’s part of my power. I can sense life. And health. I don’t know for sure, but she feels like she’s fading. And she’s more alive now than she was when all there was was the ink in my book.” Berlin isn’t sure she’s making any sense to anyone that isn’t her, so she gives the pair of them a slightly apologetic glance. “I think working together is a good idea. If there’s something worth hiding from, I’d feel better about it if you let me tag along.”

Emily hadn't caught Berlin's comment the first time, still mostly focused on her work, but Squeaks' growing panic definitely is noticed. The hardness in her expression cracks as she looks to the younger girl, seeing her worry. When she suggests that maybe she should tell others about the scattered ink woman, Emily's eyes soften as she struggles with how to reply. It's something Squeaks should have done a long time ago, but she can't bring herself to say anything about it. Everything she could think of would sound callous in its delivery.

"Tell Gillian, at least." is what she settles on. Because she has very little faith she's told even her adoptive mother … and it was sort of unavoidable now, with Berlin trying to reach out to the librarian as well.

She's almost relieved when the book starts bleeding ink that swims across the table and back up to Squeaks. "There she goes. See? We'll figure it out — just have to get her back together." Berlin explaining her power and how it works leaves her feeling validated that discovering the extra ink helps, but does little to soothe her suspicion that if too much time passed, maybe the woman couldn't form back together entirely … or properly.

"If we're searching missing persons, look for someone with a daughter. She mentioned her daughter in the first message we deciphered." Emily looks over the new additions to the tattoo, adding skeptically, "We thought it was Chinese, but it might be Japanese."

She looks back to Squeaks appraisingly. All right, tiny captain. "What do you want to do now?"

There’s obvious relief when the ink not only starts to feel different on her arm — it’s strangely comforting to have that kind of wet feeling again after hearing that the ink lady might be dying — and more when the blobby stuff starts to ooze out of the book. “Look. She’s okay!” Squeaks’ eyes dart up once, to make sure Berlin and Emily are both seeing the ink lady moving just like she had all those times before. As those lines are being added to her arm, she lowers her head so her chin is resting on the edge of the table, just inches from the blobby that’s forming, and eyes watching the ink move.

“I will,” she promises on Emily’s suggestion, trading relief with worry again. She should have told before. It’s different from before the ink started moving. Now it’s an unexplainable, vaguely miserable kind. How mad is Gillian going to be?

Her eyes lift to Berlin as the woman puts her fingers to the ink, but with the woman’s ability explanation she doesn’t say anything right away. Instead, after a minute, she sits up straight and pulls the journal over. “She’s waiting for this, I think. That’s what’s happened before.” She looks at Emily and then Berlin, then twists around to look at the door to her mom’s office. “Now? I think we split up. Me and Berlin looking for the rest of the books — after I tell my mom. And you and Lance and Brynn work on the codes?”

The ink on Squeaks arm starts to dry. It doesn’t exactly soak into the skin like one might expect, but it definitely dries and solidifies there. No amount of washing had ever been able to get rid of it, though possibly Brynn could have done something to make it skin-colored if the girl has asked. But it’s so black, like the color of a crow with feathers damp, taking off in a moonlit sky. What many would consider the perfect black.

As she guessed, that blot starts to move again as the journal gets closer. There’s so much life coming from that journal. So many tiny homogenous pieces of a whole, none more important than another, but all important to each other. It’s like all a majority of the living cells of a body were somehow folded into that book. The letters on the pages, seeped into the binding, the leather cover. There’s so much there. And when it dries it seems to lose volume, volume it regains when it dampens.

It doesn’t immediately join it’s sisters in the journal, instead forming into a figure, a black silhouette like a woman, tall from the proportions. Tall and skinny, with long hair. Then with a shudder, it breaks into thousands and thousands of little specks. Then they slowly reform back together, piece by piece, speck by speck. To create what might be that whole silhouette again.

Only there are six pieces floating to the side.

After a long moment, all those pieces slide to disappear into the journal, some sliding into the binding to shrivel and lose mass, some into the leather cover, some adding to the white pages inside where that life seems to slowly dim again, like something going dormant. Like an animal going into hibernation once again. Resting. Waiting.

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