20110524 - A Change of Leadership or Two


Survivalist Compound: Front Entrance - Wauconda, Illinois

The road curves inward from the gate in the tall stone wall and through the trees, allowing privacy before opening into this quaint clearing. Here, a small, stone cottage rests on the far side of a large, graveled circle, only six feet of grass stretching from the gravel to the cottage's front wall. The little building faces north with a wide, diamond-paned window a few feet to the left of the sturdy, iron-banded front door. Another, smaller window lies beyond the first along the long, front wall. The shutters are more than decorative - painted green, they are also functional and can be closed as evidenced by the metal latches upon them. A climbing rosebush grows rather wildly up a white lattice arch in front of the door. Ivy climbs the eastern end of the building and has almost completely obscured the dark roofing from view all along the rooftop. Another curving road moves off to the west from the gravel circle, leading back into the trees. A few little sheds are lined up to one side of the road, doors closed and padlocked.
A light rain falls from a grey sky. It's cool and there's a mild wind from the southwest.




It's a rainy morning in late spring, and Frank's car is sitting in front of the ivy cottage. The man himself is leaning against the vehicle, a steaming mug in his hand.

Ruby emerges from the cottage, her hair wet, moving directly across to her brother. "Hey." The soft, casual greeting is made with a glance at his expression, a speaking look, that silent communication again.

Cale will come out of the cottage a bit after Ruby. Nude, but clean. Already a bit wet, he comes out casually and heads right for his car, though with a hand lifted to Frank. A pile of wet, muddy clothes wait for him and he takes them up and sticks them in the back, while casually pulling out some spares to replace them.

Frank looks over at Ruby, smiling as she makes her way towards him. "Hey," he replies to her, then sips from the mug. He's holding it from the bottom, cupping it in his hand, rather than trying to fit his fingers through the handle. Cale's appearance gets raised eyebrows, and then Frank's looking at Ruby again. "So you're gettin' on better again?"

Gage arrives from some way down the walk, fairly soaked from the rain, and given his look, the man is in a mood to match. His eyes are dark, his energy wrapped about him comfortably, rather than loose like usual, his approach stopping as he spies those gathered outside already. "Frank, all," he says to everybody, dipping his head in greeting. The look sent to the larger Londoner is a mix of anger and understanding - to put it succinctly, Gage is apprehensive about this little gathering.

Ruby leans against her brother, glancing at Gage, her expression turning empty, neutral. "Yeah. Going to move in with him." She replies softly, returning her gaze to her brother, the need to touch him obvious enough. "Sorted it."

Zack comes walking up from the direction of the pond and the statue of Talen. His energy is kept very close to him, held under sway very tightly. As he moves to the edge of the gathering, his silvery blue eyes scan each of those present. He offers the slight nod to Gage, then a lesser one to Cale and Ruby. The young leopard's jaw tenses as he looks at Frank.

Cale grins casually to himself as he hears Frank's question when it comes to his relations with Ruby, but he lets her handle the talking as he pulls on boxers, jeans and a tshirt. Spare socks, after wiping down his feet briefly and a set of old, sneakers that now live to be alternate footwear. He looks up as people start to arrive and a suitable greeting is given to Gage and Zack in particular, a low dip of head before he sees about setting up a small picnic on the hood of his car. Though it's mostly made up of the contents of a handful of paper bags with thick burgers and fries within them.

Frank returns Gage's dip of the head with one of his own. "I tried," he says briefly, almost apologetically. His free arm goes around Ruby's shoulders without thought. "Glad to hear it," he says. "I can turn yer room into somethin' useful." Zack gets a nod as well, whether or not Frank is offered one. "With you in a moment, kid," the big Londoner says, "Just let me finish me brew."

"Not hard enough Frank. Look what it's come to." His voice trails off at the end, and he shakes his head softly before glancing over at Zack. Zack is given a deep nod, and then Gage is moving to find a place nearby to stand. Lifting a hand he wipes the water from his head, and shakes it off, ignoring the food offered by Cale, but offering a soft 'thanks' anyway. He takes a moment to look over all of those gathered, and for a moment looks like he'll speak - than bites his tongue.

Ruby returns Zack's nod, her gaze moving between Cale and her brother. She leans into the hug, sliding her arms around Frank, but her face doesn't tell anything about her thoughts or feelings. Her gaze flickers to Gage, and away again.

Auranna makes her way out of the trees. She looks like crap, dark circles under her eyes and she seems a little bit on edge. She glances around and she isn't even sure whom to greet at the moment.

Dominique strides into the compound, and if there's a definition of 'regal', it might be her bearing currently. There is a definite sense of detached reserve to her demeanour, and while she inclines her head slightly by way of greeting to Gage and Zack, there is nothing warm or even approachable about her at the moment. Her expression is closed off, hard as her eyes.

Ahikam arrives in a vehicle likely with Chuckles, maybe with some of the others, but he would slip out, a bit wary, breathing in the scents of the forest, home, family… his blue eyes glancing around, taking in everything, glancing to concern for Auranna, very worried… greetings were going to take a few hours to get out of the way, but he headed for Zack first before anything else, his energy preceeding him, slipping quickly to join Zack, and brush along, and curl around him, and if he could, he would approach Zack, and offer him a hug, baring his neck as he does, and offering his brother a soft lick to his lower lip in a subserviant greeting, his voice soft, "Zack, its good to see you."

Zack snorts softly, "You didn't try at all, Frank. If you had, you would have answered the phone, when I called the next morning or at least called back." He looks at the man, "The only thing you have done is shown an absolute lack of respect for this Pard. Knowing that you were refusing to speak, I could have ordered your death. It would have been the smart thing to do. Take out those who posed the biggest threat to me. It was my hope to help, not to make things worse." He looks at the gathering that is building up. "Finish your tea, it will give any others that want to witness this mockery of tradition a chance to show up."

Cale doesn't actually eat the food he gets set up. A glance towards Ruby suggests who it's really for. But once he has a nice, neat set up done, he slips onto the hood of his hatchback and settles quietly. His car is haphazardly parked a per his usual. No clear orientation for it and once he's settled, he takes on a simple neutrality in posture and expression. When Aura emerges, he gives her a concerned look. "If you're hungry, Aura, I probably brought more than Ruby can eat.. and if not I'll feed her more later," he offers simply, giving his words a soft edge of humor. Though after he seems content to dip into the background some, watching what is to come quietly.

Frank's eyebrows lift. "Mockery of tradition? Only mockery of tradition is you thinkin' that bitin' a pillow an' then winnin' a thrown fight entitles you to a crown," replies the Londoner evenly. "When you was made Nimir-Raj, you 'ad less months as a leopard than I had decades. As Nimir-Ra you made some astoundin' errors of judgement, an' now you think we owe you our worship you're makin' more. You never won my respect, an' you still ain't helpin' on that score. But get one thing straight, kid. You invited me out 'ere to fight. You challenged me, 'cause you're drunk on power you don't know 'ow to 'andle." He smiles, ever so faintly. "Gage asked Ruby to give you 'til full moon. I tried, God knows I tried. But then you demand I bow or I depart, an' you ain't earnt it."

Chuckles arrives with Ahikam. He's a little nervous, but mostly its the tension in the air doing that to the tall smiling man. He follows Ahikam, hands in the pockets of his unbuttoned long coat. "Zack." he says to the Raj with a smile, leaning his shoulders over and putting his chin to his left shoulder to bare his neck to the shorter man. He keeps his leopard close and backs up as things seems to be intensifing. Like Gage, he is on Zack's side of the line.

Gage's voice suddenly pipes up, his voice loud enough to carry easily to the others - interrupting easily if it happens. "I have something to say, before this goes any further." He then waits, calmly.

Ruby's response to Zack's words is for her face to harden briefly, but she doesn't speak, leaning against Frank, her gaze flickering to Dominique. There it stays for a moment before she returns to studying those here, her eyes thoughtful, observant. She gives Cale a brief nod as he offers the other woman some of her food, then turns her gaze back on Gage, listening.

Cale is, of course, quiet for now and does his best to school his expression whilst words are exchanged. So he shall not interrupt.

Jeremy is watching to one side, somewhat neutral. He's got a small silver knife that he keeps playing with in his hands.

Zack looks at Frank, "Two things. You through the challenge down with your letter. I don't know anyone that would not take being told that you would kick their head in as anything but. And second, I never said bow or get out. I said that I wanted to speak to everyone, to know if they were still pard or if I should consider them rogue. When Ruby said you were out of town, my response was to tell you to call when you got the opportunity. You chose to interpret that as you wanted." He turns to Gage and nods.

Dominique folds her arms and turns her attention to Gage. She meets Ruby's eyes briefly and it seems an understanding might have passed between the two despite her cool gaze and continued silence. She's standing with Frank - never a doubt about that, not since she came in, and very cold dark eyes flicker around the gathering, settling on Jeremy for a long moment. Then it's back to Gage.

Auranna shakes her head towards Cale, "Not able to eat anything, not staying down." she says softly, "But thank you for the offer." she says and she looks between Frank and Zack and then around for a moment looking at all the others. She is shaking a bit as she watches.

Ahikam draws back from Zack, atleast having offered to greet him first, his head bowing to Gage, neck bared, before he drew back, falling quiet, glancing to Frank with a frown, but shakes his head, holding his tongue, not offering any of the londoners submission as he moves behind Zack, maybe it was the hostilities, maybe it was the business was getting heavy and he didn't want to interrupt, or maybe it was something else, knowing how things will likely fall should Frank try to become Raj. He moves to Auranna, a look of concern on his face, "Auranna love, are you alright?" moving to slip an arm around her if she would let him, "you want to talk?"

Jeremy stares back at Dominique for a moment and then looks back at his knife that he starts playing with again.

Suddenly as all hell, a navy Honda Civic roars up the driveway. Parking just off to the side at the bottom of the cottage driveway. Keith jumps out after turning the car off. He knew he was going to be late for this, but he needed to be here. Support and to be a witness to this formal match. He walks up looking at everyone. His energy is tense, though greats everyone superior to him in rank as of this time. Though he gives no greating to anyone else. His eyes settle upon Zack as he says, "Zack, I made it…" He huffs and puffs, seems even this shifter rushed to get her for some reason.

Johnothan slides out of the van as it empties of Chuckles and Ahi, seeing that they're almost late..Managing to catch Franks statement, snorting as he walks aorund int full view. "Shut up Frank. It doesnt matter how or WHY Zack won, Forest quit and waked away, He surrenderd the field, He LOST, that makes Zack the winner. Quit your fucking bitching." He says, not going near the combatants for greeting, instead, he makes his way around to the others he knows and greets them in turn, doing the best he can with rank and file since who knows what's changed, calmly ignoring and avoiding Frank and those that stand with him..for obvious reasons.

Gage takes a few steps away, making himself more visible to those gathered. He takes another moment, letting his eyes move over each person gathered there, his expression hard, cold, displeased. "Thanks," he comments, his voice his usual gravelly tone, his head dipping a second before he glances back up. "Look. I know things are a mess right now. We have Forest to thank for that." he pauses a moment for emphasis, "Cray stepped up, and challenged for Raj. He lost. Zack stepped up, and challenged for Raj. He won, and though I think we can all agree that it was hardly a win at all - he won. Did anybody else move to challenge Zack that night?" He shakes his head, "No. That means to me that you all acknowledged Zack's win as legitimate. I don't care what you think now. It doesn't matter. Had I been there, there's no doubt I would have challenged Zack that same night." He glances at Zack not apologetically, but instead almost accusingly, "It's not a surprise to any of you that I'll do the same in ten days from now. Give or take. Most of you have looked to me for guidance - and I gave it - to some of you forcefully. 'Follow Zack for the time needed', that's all I wanted. Instead I saw most of you turn your backs - not on him, but the pard as a whole. I thought better of the lot of you. I'm saddened to see it is otherwise." After that he goes quiet, giving it a moment to sink in.

Ruby remains silent, the silver knife noted, Jonathon's words met with a brief roll of her eyes and she gives Gage her full attention when he speaks. She remains silent however, her expression still empty.

Auranna looks at Ahikam and shakes her, "I will be fine." she says to Ahikam and lets him hug her and then pulls away, "There will be time for talking afterwards." she shakes her head and looks like there is a lot on her mind. She looks up at Gage's words and then around a little.

Cale remains a silent party, apart from the gathering camps. A vague air of disappointment lingering on his face. Gage's words noted. "I walked away from the fight before it ended. But I do what is necessary for stability now." Nothing more added as he falls silent again.

Zack doesn't look surprised or even upset at Gage's announcement of his intentions of challenging him, in fact he has been planning on it. He looks over at Frank waiting for the man to decide he's ready. His chest rises and falls with a steady tempo as he watches the large Londoner and those that stand with him.

Ahikam frowns a bit at Gage's words, but nods to Auranna, letting her draw away for a moment, "you should come by later, you look like you need some good snuggling," offering her a soft smile, his beast curling around hers, nuzzling and trying to comfort as he looked back to those gathered, slipping down to kneel out of the way of things, falling quiet to watch.

Frank holds up a finger to Johnothan. "Hush, kid. Grown-ups are talkin'. Jeremy, if you ain't gonna use it, put it away. An' anyone else who thinks I'm too evil an' mean to respect is welcome to challenge me for dominance later." The stern-father tone fades as to Gage, he replies, "I weren't there. If I was, it'd'a been diff'rent, which is kinda int'restin', this stuff happenin' when neither of us is there to do anythin' about it. Me, I vanished so's I didn't have ter enforce for someone as ain't got no respect for me. I stopped answerin' the phone so's I didn't have to hurt people, Pard-mates, for bein' unhappy with a thrown fight. An' that someone then started tryin' to force anyone as didn't agree with 'im out of town. That's not what somone placeholdin' does - that's what a guy does when he thinks he's fit to keep the title." He downs the tea and hands the cup to Ruby, then shrugs out of his jacket before taking a few steps forwards. A nod to Zack - respect for the opponent - and Frank settles into the classic boxer's stance.

Dylan arrives sometime during Gage's speech and just gives the alpha a wary, weary look, shaking his head. He looks between the different camps and then crosses to stand with the Londoners, which is apparently all the talking he feels he needs to do, as he just turns and stands, listening to others speak and folding his arms across his chest as it looks like things are about to get started.

Dominique stays silent, her expression indicating nothing except a cold, clinical detachment. There's no discernible tension to her stance or even her behaviour; she might as well be lounging on a street corner watching the cars go by for all the concern she displays. Before Frank settles, she moves only to grip his shoulder briefly, and then she moves back to an acceptable distance, giving him all the room he needs.

Keith looks upon John seeming shocked and beside himself. "John, there's no reason to be rude. If Frank wants to challenge, that is his own choice…" He then nods at Gage as he speaks. "I did take Zack's win as legitimate. Whether I thought he was /completely/ ready for it is a different matter. Though I will hold to my previous decision for now…" He then looks upon Gage seeming to try to keep his energy impartial. "Here, here Gage. It saddened me as well!" When Keith moves his arms out, there comes a squeak of metal and oddly his shirt in a bit bunched over something. When he pulls his sleeves up seeming ready to defends since the tension so thick, it almost feels like a chocolate shake from McDonalds. This therefore exposes a set of silver bracers upon his forearms. Seems Keith's adopted some measure of protection. Whether it was defense again other shifter or the Pard itself is still unclear. Keith then looks upon the readying Zack and Frank, making his stance obvious and steady at this point. He stands a ways behind Zack, awaiting to see the outcome. His beast energy takes up circling the man's physical body. Not able to settles just yet. He suddenly scoffs at Frank, "It was at Pardanar! If you weren't here, than you /certainly/ should not /bitch/!" Yep, Keith has a sturn lip. He won't stand for Frank complaining as he violated a traditional Pard gathering.

Chuckles settles down next to Ahikam, almost in a protective posture by the smaller leopard. He watches and listens. and he isnt smiling anymore, instead his lips are flat as he watches the proceedings.

Jeremy looks at Frank, "What the hell is your issue? I have this fuckin knife out ta be ready for healin whoever needs it when this shit is done." He shows the blade. "I'd be lucky if I could kill a hamster with the blade on this thing….Its just deep enough that I can make myself bleed enough ta do the healin. I'm not threatenin anyone with it. Is this what we get ta look forward ta if yer leader? Jumpin down people's throats fer no reason?"

Gage eyes Frank, "You see him as a placeholder. But he's still Raj. Even if only for a time - and let's not forget, there's every chance I'll lose in a straight up fight against Zack." He looks doubtful of that, but nothing is out of the question. He watches Dylan move, and his eyes narrow for a brief moment, then he shakes his head, "Anyway. I'm glad to hear you weren't there either. And I am aware of why you decided to step away - but the pard rules put it simply: you're with us, or out of our territory. I cannot blame Zack for simply trying to uphold a law that was in place before he took over. I'm done talking. When this ends - and I don't care which side wins - I expect better behavior from all of you. You choose to leave for whatever reason, but if you leave, you have until the next full moon to be out of our domain." He eyes Jeremy, "Because having a weapon out at a time like this is unacceptable Jer. Put it away." With that he steps back more, "Let's get this over with." And he glances at both Frank and Zack, "Ready?"

Ruby curls her hands around the cup, watching her brother step forward. She glances at Dylan, then Cale, her expression briefly thoughtful before it moves to Dominique, another silent communication offered between the two women. She leans back against Frank's car, silent and watchful. She gives Keith a glance, and then returns her gaze to the two men in the center, ignoring the others, her eyes on her brother.

Johnothan tilts his head as he watches franks reaction, merely smiling and returning the motion, though slightly altered as John slides his middle finger into, and out of his mouth with an almost sensual gesture, his grey-blue eyes remaining on Frank as he rotates, raises and lowers his hand displaying the single finger, moving suggestively that Frank can sit on it, rotate and bounce, the bracer on his right forearm glinting in the light.

Keith looks over at Jeremy seeming to nod his head before looking to Gage as he speaks again. "Yes, the rules do state being with us or get the 'F' out!" He then nods in a agreement that he should behave better after is all said and done. He then glance to Zack and Frank awaiting their actions.

Auranna nods and just stays quiet. She has a lot on her mind and she is just trying to focus on the fight and keep her mouth shut.

Ahikam snickers at Johnothan's action, but smiles up to Chuckles, leaning on him a bit, but looking to the main group, staying quiet for the time, following Auranna's example.

Zack looks at the big man. He shakes his head, "I wish it didn't come to this, but it has, and I can't and won't back down to it." He looks at Gage with a slight nod, then to Frank, "This ends when one of us either submits or can't fight any longer. Agreed?"

Jeremy growls softly, "Gage I'll listen to cause he actually spoke ta me rather than assuming I was here ta KILL someone. Some Nimir yer gonna be if you don't even bother getting to know people before judging." He sticks the knife in his pocket.

Frank nods. "Agreed," he says, then beckons Zack on.

Frank is a trained boxer, and it shows - he could probably have gone professional if life had been different. He's quick, floating like the proverbial butterfly and stinging like the proverbial bee. Zack's quicker, but Zack's edge is slight, and Frank's training more than makes up for it.

Zack moves in to Frank's range. Not the experienced fighter that the man is, he makes a swing that is easy dodged, only to find the man's fist slamming against him. After that the two begin moving at an astounding speed.

Gage watches the fight, but after seeing Johnothan's action he frowns, a look given the man that promises it will not go unanswered. His attention quickly return to the fight, his gaze stoic, no indication of a desire for either man to win in his expression.

While Zack may be quick, his blows do not land with nearly the strength that Frank's do. He spits a small mouthful of blood onto the ground.

Frank isn't holding back. Zack's blows seem to get almost shrugged off - it's as though Frank's sustained a great deal of beating in his time and it takes a lot more to really be noticed. Fist follows fist follows fist, from different angles and at different speeds.

Slam, swing, slam. Frank's fists don't always connect, but they do a lot more often than not.

Zack weathers out the assault of the massive fists. He trades hit for hit, though his smaller form shows the damage more apparent.

Frank frowns. "I felt that," he informs Zack between swings, dodging adroitly to one side and then returning the blow.

Zack pauses for a moment as a flare of power can be felt from him. Whatever he did seems to have had no effect except to throw himself off. He takes the three hits from Frank. He shakes his head regaining his focus, "You wouldn't expect me to hold anything back would you?"

"'Spect you to fight fair," Frank replies, letting Zack regain his focus before starting again.

As he moves back in, Zack responds, "I didn't think using what you know wasn't fair." So apparently some of the advice he was given wasn't what he thought it was.

Frank smirks. "I'll take it as a compliment," he says, but that doesn't stop his fists.

That first fist though, Zack manages to duck away from. In this case, being smaller does have a slight advantage. Unfortunately not enough to avoid the expertise of the next two. At least his tenacity is prepared to give as good as he gets.

Frank's bruises are getting worse - apparently the beating is eventually starting to take its toll. Eventually.

Zack's flesh begins to mend and knit back together. Bruises are not looking a little less nasty. Too bad it's probably just a second wind that will soon be gone as quickly as the first.

Frank is definitely starting to feel it now. He's got a black eye that just keeps getting reblackened as fast as it can heal - but he carries on regardless.

The young Raj is doing what he can to prove himself. The fight is a grim matter, and his determination no less. The two exchange blows almost tit for tat.

Fists fly, feet danage. Bruises turn into blood, and still Frank fights on.

Both of the two slug at each other. Zack feels the crushing blows from Frank, but he still tries to slam back at the mountain of a man.

That second wind leaves Zack, and as he starts to slow Frank lays into him. The sounds of ribs cracking can be hurt with a sickening crunch.

Frank takes in the state of Zack; his fists pause for a moment. "Had enough?"

A run of blood stains the teen's face and chest. Though his eyes are slightly out of focus, he shakes his head. "If you had waited until the full moon, I would have, but you.." He spits. "know you put me in a corner, and I can't now."

Frank shrugs, and goes back to it.

Jeremy growls and stands, "Frank he's done….he's lost…he can't fight back. Don't kill him." The young man is trembling. "Zack is a just a kid. Please don't kill him."

Ahikam leaps to his feet as he sees Zack taking this beating, tears on his cheeks as he looks about ready to leap in to his brother's defense, only Jeremy's pleading holds him for a moment, looking to Frank to see if he'll stop.

Keith growls suddenly as his power flares. "STOP! He's down and can't move. He's all by physically surrendered!"

Frank's fist swings, connecting with Zack's temple - and that's an end of it. Frank steps back, gesturing Jeremy to Zack. "I offered," the Londoner points out, wiping the blood from his forehead with one arm. "Kid chose."

Jeremy rushes forward, practically ripping his jeans to get the knife out and slice his arm from wrist to palm. "You fuckin stubborn ass boy! I TOLD you about knowin when ta give…." He places his hand on any open wounds, closing his eyes and concentrating before trying to get his blood into Zack's mouth.

Ruby releases a breath she wasn't aware of holding, but remains silent, watching her brother with an empty expression. She glances at Dominique, an odd hint of wariness in that glance before she returns it to Frank, folding her arms.

Ahikam moves as Jeremy does, swiftly moving to his side and Zack's, knowing he was one of the stronger focii in the pard, a hand moving to rest on Jeremy's back, focusing on him, and amplifying his power… he had no idea what was going to happen now…

Auranna just stands there, shaking as she watches, she seems to focus on Zack and she pulls an envelope out of her pack and is fingering it as she watches. "Is..he.?" she asks shaking a bit.

Keith moves with Jeremy and Ahikam to assist Zack. He sets a hand beside Ahikam's to attempt to further focus.

While Jeremy and friends are tending to Zack, Frank fishes a handkerchief out of his pocket. He lets it get rained on, then starts cleaning his face off with it.

Dylan just watches, expression impassive. His stance and demeanor seem to indicate that live or die, this is merely the reality for wereleopards. He does nod deeply to Frank, holding it a while and then looks away from Zack and the small crowd around him, already dismissing his fate from any particular concern.

Cale watches the fight with a careful neutrality, but no lack of tension. The resolution doesn't take it all away, but it does ease a bit, his energy settling somewhat. His eyes flick between the two batter combatants smoothly, his position on the hood of his car kept as he waits quietly for the disorder after to settle.

Gage steps closer, notably getting near neither opponent. "He's fine, Aura. He'll live." He glances at Frank, a look of appreciation on his face. "When you are done healing him, see to Frank." That's an order, not a request, his tone all but demanding it. He glances at Johnothan, and comments, "As for you, learn your place. I see you make even so much as a stinky eye at another pard member with higher rank than you, and you'll regret it." As a warning he lets his power flow out and over John, grabbing at his beast and giving it a rough pull - just shy of forcing a shift to show he can, and will, do it if need be. "Zack is the loser. Frank, since this was not a challenge for rank, you can do as you please." That is an open ended statement, the Raj has been bested by another.

Dominique has been silent the entire fight, barely moving a muscle. Only when Frank pulls out the handkerchief does she stride towards him, taking the absurdly small square away from him to clean him up instead. "Pickney ain't dead," she throws at Auranna, not bothering to look at her. Her voice, while calm and relaxed, has the steel quality and force of a rapier being driven home. And after that she falls back into silence.

Jeremy looks around. "I need something to pull his rib away from his lung. SOmeone got a non-slver knife?" He looks at the pair. "I've never acted with Focii….ummmm…." Then Gage speaks and Jeremy manages a growl. "DUH….what the fuck do you think I was gonna do. I can't let someone suffer." He goes back to working on healing Zack.

Ruby steps forward, offering his cup back to Frank, with a glance up at him, that odd silent communication between the pair of them once more. Her fingers brush against his arm, the only actual touch of him she makes.

Auranna fingers the envelope in her hands and then slips it back into her pack, with a small sigh of relief. Whatever the envelope is, is uncertain but it probably had something to do with if Zack had died. She seems to relax a little, the first time since she came out of the trees. She just looks around at the others.

Frank nods, then looks out at the assembled. "First thing I'm gonna say as your new Nimir-Raj is that this is a really shit way of choosin' a leader," he says, wiping the back of his neck with the handkerchief. He takes the cup Ruby offers with a touch to her hand, rinsing his mouth out with the water it's collected and then spitting on the ground to one side. "All it proves is that one guy's better at fightin'. Thing is, a good fighter ain't necessarily best leader for the group. So second thing I'm gonna say as yer new Nimir-Raj is that challenges can be cerebral - that means thinkin' - or power, instead. That said…" He turns to face Gage, arms folding across his chest. "You know what you gotta do."

Ahikam frowns, glancing after Gage as he focused, "might does not make right, what does this do then now Gage? rip apart an already damaged pard? weaken any hope Zack had of making a unified group of us again?" moving to catch Jeremy should he fall, "if this wasn't for rank… i don't see what this has done but hurt us all," his voice soft, and sad, "the lines are drawn… are we headed to a civil war?" he glances to Frank, frowning… looking to Gage, who had just said this was not for rank…

Lucas has been totally silent through the whole fight, observing passively although he winced with some of the more severe blows. Even in the aftermath, there wasn't much he could do other than stand back, unnoticed. But Jeremy's request for a knife, he can do something about. A large pocket knife is pulled out, unfolded, and handed over.

Jeremy uses the knife to work on Zack by pulling the ribs up out of the way of the lung. Once he feels healing he pulls the blade out slowly, letting it seal behind him.

Keith looks over at Gage after Jeremy attempts to heal Zack. Nodding at the Second. He's not going to disobey a direct order, though he might not like what he's forced to do at this moment. His energy clearly is concerned for both of them, though it's clear he thinks Frank would be fine with his injuries he's recieved. He nods at Gage feeling the pull given to John. He emits a 'eep' sounds before standing silent for a moment. He then looks upon Frank scowling. What rules is he enacting now? He says nothing as he listens, waiting for the request to near him and help heal.

Dylan shrugs at Ahikam. "Yea, might does make right. And I really don't think /you/ get to talk about ripping the pard apart. Unless you've taken the cops off your speed dial for those pesky moments when things get tense?" He looks between Frank and Gage. "Whichever of them takes it, takes it."

A wheezing gasp comes from the broken blond's form. Silvery blue eyes blink and whince as the rain drops fall on his face and body. He says in a whispered voice, "Where's Frank?" He rolls onto his side, looking over his shoulder at the blurred form that is Frank. He coughs, "Ahikam, shut up… Frank won.. that's it." He bites down on his lower lip as he tries to drag himself to his knees.

Keith growls at Dylan seeming to find his tongue unbearable. "Will you please!" He then looks at Frank nodding, "Cerebral challenge seem fair and justified. It makes /might/ and /intelligence/ a hand-in-hand requirement…" He then looks down nodding at Zack. Seeming to find Zack's surrender final with the words that dribbled out. "Fine, Nimir-Raj Frank… I pledge myself under your reign." He offers his neck toward the large man standing.

Dylan just flat out laughs at Keith at that surge of the 'etiquette teacher''s beast. "Oh please. You need to man up before you can leopard up." He's still laughing as he turns away from the other man, ultimately dismissive.

Ahikam glances to Dylan, "so you were the one who started those rumors and threats!" baring his fangs, but falling silent as Zack speaks, shaking his head… he would help Jeremy however with whoever he needed to heal, but looked about ready to bolt, expecting very much things to go bad.

Gage actually smiles at Jeremy some, his eyes kind, "I was referring to the others, Jeremy." Then Frank speaks and Gage stops moving. Everything else going on around him is ignored as he sizes up Frank. Then, as if to everybody and nobody he comments, "The simple fact is, might does make right. Don't ever forget that. People just need to understand…" and as he speaks his power unfurls, warm and thick on the air, "Not all might is made of muscle and brute force." His stance tenses and he says, "I challenge you for the place of Raj, Frank." Already his power, a will-powered force begins to bear against the larger man, "DO you accept?" He holds back whatever last press he has.

Ruby stands next to Frank, her arms folded over her chest, taking the cup when he is done with it. Her gaze moves over the people here, watchful, waiting. When Gage challenges Frank, she nods, and steps back, an expected thing.

Keith growls at Dylan. "You fucking Prick! Just because my beast might not be able to dominate you, doesn't mean I won't try ripping your throat at first chance I get!" He grumbles before looking to Gage as he speaks. He nods agreeing with Gage. It's what he's been teaching for months, though apparently his students haven't been high enough to be listened to. He then grins at Gage's challenge. Exactly what he was hoping for, all in one tight little speech.

Frank accepts, chin coming up as his own power unfurls. The Alphas, full power revealed for all to sense, battle with will against will and the raw strength of Beast against beast. Frank, solid and strong, makes a good showing of himself under the lash of Gage's power, jaw gritting; he seems the immovable object as he fights the Second's inexorable force - but after a short while fighting a battle of a completely different sort to the ones he's trained for all his life he surrenders, dropping to one knee and exposing his throat to Gage.

Auranna looks over at Keith for a moment, and then to Dylan, "Keith." she says softly and shakes her head. Then she turns back to watch Gage and Frank. She is still full of uncertainty.

Dominique glances between Gage and Frank and for the first time, her mouth twitches upward in a faint smile. A nod of approval and she rests her hand on Frank's shoulder for a moment. Then she's striding back out of the combat zone, arms folding once more as she turns around to watch. She says nothing, but as the battle comes to its conclusion, she nods again very slowly. Apparently she's not displeased about the outcome at all - in fact, from her behaviour, she might even have expected it to go thus.

Jeremy turns, "Do I need to heal fra…." And well Frank's behavior cuts him off. He was going to try and help fair up the fight a bit with his abilties but it looks like its not necessary. Well…the fair part of it. He still plans on healing Frank. He turns back to Zack and knocks on his head. "Dummy….stay down and let the healing WORK. It doesn't work when yer bones are jiggling around."

When Gage drops the other shoe, Cale nods his head slightly. Not surprised, most of the chatter ignored as his attention shifts towards the two. A casual thoughtfulness edging his neutral lean of expression as he considers the words spoken. But thoughts don't distract him overmuch from observing the less tangible conflict between Frank and Gage. His head cants slightly and he lets the results pass without more than a slight nod for the moment, but he does shift his posture, preparing to rise from where he sits.

Dylan waves Keith away as inconsequential, not even bothering to get upset about it, especially given the actual important business going on. There is just a sense of lingering, if distracted, contempt. He's treating the other man like a particularly insist ant gnat. Looking back to Frank and Gage, he immediately forgets about Keith, apparently, watching the two alphas carefully.

Gage's power is wholly released and force upon the other man. His beast and sense of Power dominating him. Gage's back is to most, or others are busy running about or not paying attention. His face is not one of pleasure or pride- if anything he looks a little sad. His eyes bleed to those of his beast quickly though, and for a moment he tenses - some struggle within held. His next words sound different, heavier with the intonation of his cat, and to those that recognize it, another being entirely that lives alongside the man you all call Gage. "I accept your challenge and your defeat Frank. I claim the title of Nimir-Raj of this pard, until one comes to remove me from my place." He grins, a wicked, toothy thing, harsh to see, "Does anybody here wish to make the attempt?" And now his attention moves from Frank, his green eyes looking at all of you, one by one, giving each a chance to accept or deny his newly earned title.

Ruby hesitates before she moves, joining Dominique, a brush of both beast and body reaching out to touch the other woman in silence. She turns to meet Gage's gaze, and she too bares her throat, lifting a hand to draw her hair from it, her gaze dropping respectfully.

Chuckles has been silent this entire time watching from under the brim of his hat. He grimaces as frank beats Zack into a pulp, then smiles just a littel when gage out powers frank. As Gages eyes comes to rest on him after his latest statment he puts himself on one kneem hat falling off to the wet ground, neck exposed to Gage.

Cale slips from the hood of his car, smoothly walking forward to 'enter' the area of the conflict. Though he does so with his eyes fixed forward. And as he comes near enough, he dips to a knee slowly, facing Gage. No words, his expression still perfectly neutral as his head cants slightly. The rest just doesn't matter right now.

Lucas steps over to tend to Zack, trying to at least make him comfortable while his body puts itself back together. When Gage makes his demand of the Pard, he looks up from Zack, and moves towards Gage before putting himself in a position similar to what Chuckles does, looking somewhere beween a beast cowed into submission and a knight swearing fealty. Which is probably about what the situation is, in truth.

Zack looks at Jeremy, "I'll rest later." He stands up and limps towards Gage. Surely he can't be stupid enough to challenge Gage still in this state. When he gets a few feet from Gage, he lowers slowly and carefully to his knees. He leans his head to the side, offering his throat to the Raj.

Dominique touches Ruby's arm very lightly as the other passes her, beast responding with a brush of the cheek. She meets Gage's gaze steadily, then inclines her head in an acknowledgement of respect and offers her throat.

Auranna cocks her head to the side. She doesn't move from where she is, but she does kneels and exposes her throat, calmly, her energy wrapped within.

Dylan considers Gage a long moment and then goes to his knees, giving the new Nimir Raj his throat. Even if his scent does betray some nervousness, all things considered. He works on clearing his expression and tries not to look as worried as he obviously feels.

Gage meets the gazes of those that offer them, his beast and more looking out from those green eyes. He doesn't take anybody's throat directly, instead offering a low growl, "Very well. It's done." He reaches down then, and touches the nearest body to him, "Get up, all of you. Ahikam. Johnothan. Crystal as well. Zack's ruling stays for you all, though I extend your probation for one more moon. I will not have a broken pard in this city. I know there are those under the protection of others - and they have been since almost the time I first arrived. They keep that anonymity. Any who wish to leave, do so now, you have until the next full moon to be off of my territory." He waits, almost expectantly.

Ruby leans against Dominique, a light touch, her eyes neutral and her face thoughtful. She glances from Gage, to Frank and back, and then her gaze flickers to Cale and Dylan, considering.

Frank rises to his feet slowly, head turning towards Johnothan and then back to Gage. "There was a couple of folks cruisin' for a bruisin' earlier," the Londoner states quietly. "Mind if I remind 'em about how respect works?" One huge hand forms into a fist.

Keith looks at Anna for a moment before looking back at Dylan. Shaking his head, clearly Keith completely disagrees with Dylan's actions. Though seeing the man is not going to attack, he look onto the fight Alphas. Shakes his head at Gage, clearly he's more inclined to accept Gage as his energy suddenly sits obidiant to Gage. He then offers his neck to make it official.

Chuckles stands up smoothly from the wet ground when gage orders it so right then. He's smiling again, a faint curl of the lips at the edges. He looks over at dylan and stares at the boy with a look that is flat in the eyes.

Johnothantakes a slow breath, letting it out slowly as he looks to Gage, eyeing the man for a moment then lets his eyes lower, head tilting to one side. "<..something in Latin..>" The pale line of his neck offered to Gage, no look of challenge in the young man's stance or words, simple truth.

Auranna looks to Zack, "I will return that which you asked me to do later." she says softly and then looks towards the others and she stands. The small teen glances at Frank as he speaks for a moment and then towards Johnothan and some of the others, her eyes return to Gage.

"I've got too much to do around here to take a vacation," Cale says as he looks up to Frank. A slight grin offered as he rises to his feet. He glances towards Frank as he speaks, a brow lifts and he flicks his eyes towards Johnothan. After that, he turns his attention towards Ruby and actually heads her way quietly, now that things seem settled finally.

Zack slolwly rises from Gage's feet. He turns at Frank's words. He takes a deep breath, "Hold up, Frank. You and I aren't done." His right hand clutches his ribs as he walks over. He lowers his gaze, exposing his neck to Frank now. "You beat me, fair and square. You are my better."

Dylan stands, ignoring the rest of the pard as he watches what is happening with the alphas. His expression is still somewhat thoughtful and pensive but he keeps his peace for the moment.

Keith stands at Gage's request before listening more intently. He looks at Frank as his seemingly valid threat is spoken. He just hope he's really not one Frank is talking about, though will accept punishment of needed. He then looks at John nodding. He then looks at Zack curious before the man exposes his neck. Well, can't blame him for not following the rules. He then looks upon Dylan seeing the combat field is settling for the Alphas and his eyes betray him to not trusting Dylan as his fellow brethren.

Frank turns to face Zack, then nods. "Sorry, kid," he says, reaching out with one finger to touch Zack's lower cheek and tilt his head straight again. "I was doin' what I reckoned needed doin' for the sake of the Pard. You might grow into a good leader someday. Patience, Zack. You'll get yer turn. But not yet."

Gage nods, "They're yours to deal with, Frank. As my Second though, you'll need to find another Enforcer, or simply fill both roles." He doesn't mind either way, "I am not against doing my own dirty work after all." He glances about, something more to say, but he keeps it in, instead turning to Zack, "Frank's right, Zack. As such, I want you paying attention, OK?" He smiles a little, his eyes once more multi-hued, something closer to normal for Gage as he calms some. "The rest of you… go… home or something. I am going into the cottage to sit down and rest a bit, I think." And with that he turns to head into it.

Jeremy moves to Frank. He's still bleeding quite a bit. "Ya beat the Nimir and bowed ta Gage….thank you fer not makin this into a worse situation. It would have hurt to lose Zack as young as he is." He offers his bleeding arm, "I can help you with healin….its one of the few things I'm good at."

Auranna watches Gage for a moment and then looks at Frank and then back at the mention of the enforcer a brow raises for a moment and then she chuckles a little to herself. She glances around at some of the others, things could have ended worse.

Chuckles picks up his hat and shakes off the wet, seating it back on his dome.

Ruby glances at Cale on his approach, tilting her head, her expression empty. She turns to Dominique, asking her softly, "Home?" She is quiet, thoughtful, and her gaze moves to her brother and back, ignoring the others.

It's clear in Keith's energy, he's not pleased with the leopard his gaze is focused on. His inner beast is itching to get out, though following proper procedure this leopard isn't going to actually fly off the handle. He sighs before pointing at Dylan, "Dylan, I'm sick of your mouth and you dimissing me as something less than your superior. I challenge you now to a dominance fight, unless you yield to be as your superior forthright! As another thing, if you don't accept my challenge you may not challenge me yourself. Might I remind you that you are on par with Grace /and/ Ruby for rank. Also I believe Cray /and/ Stephen need to be challenged before you touch me… yes?" He looks around at the others, clearly establishing his knowledge in pecking order procedures. He's currently considered a strong beta and won't give position for nothing. He then looks at Gage's order and seems to plead. "I beg you to reconsider sending us off…" It seems a formal request to the new king.

Still black and blue, he grins or tries to grin and shakes his head. Zack says softly, "So was I. Forest didn't need to be Nimir-Raj. Neither did I… I was expecting you or Gage to be there and take my place then. It's why I tried calling the morning after. I talked with Gage then… " He doesn't seem to have any resentment in his eyes or voice. "You'd have known that, if you would have just talked to me. I tried." He shrugs slightly, "Thank you, by the way?" With that he starts to limp towards the relic of a Nissan that he came in.

Cale arches a brow slightly at who Ruby asks about home. He tilts his head slightly, considering her. "You want to take some of the burgers with you? Our plans can wait, though hopefully not for too long." He slips his hands into the pockets as he considers the woman with a questioning air. His head turns slightly as Keith speaks, but doesn't fully turn, his attention lingering on Ruby.

Dominique glances at Ruby and gives her a faint smile. "Chin up, lass," she murmurs, her broad East End London accent even pronounced than before along with her Jamaican patois. "Dat's a good idea, you done come home now, eat som'tin'." She slips her arm around the younger woman's shoulders for a light hug. "Cheers, eh?" Her gaze then goes to Frank, and an unspoken communications passes between them, much like the ones between him and Ruby. A brow arches, very lightly.

Frank nods to Jeremy. "Thanks, but in a few minutes I'll be fine. An' I got business with some folks - but I'm gonna do what the Nimir-Raj says, an' head on home." He retrieves his suit jacket from the top of his car and pulls it back on. "Keith. Not right now, okay? Pard's a bit strung out. Give it a night to settle."

Gage lifts a hand, his wave dismissive, "Personal grievances can be overseen by any pard member of higher rank than those involved. Or you can just agree - whoever get their ass kicked is the lesser, be it by power or brute force. Kill one another, you answer to me. YOu don't want that. You know the rules. Respect them." He moves though, and rather then enter the cottage he leans against an outside wall, apparently intending to watch over anything that goes on.

Gage considers, but then nods, "Frank is right. Tomorrow. I'm through with violence for today."

Ruby leans into Dominique, brushing her cheek against the other's shoulder, an affectionate if muted movement. "Dom'll cook." She replies to Cale, the glance at him still considering, thoughtful. "We'll talk." She promises him softly, before she glances up at Dominique, and then to Frank.

Keith looks at Frank sighing. "He accepts the challenge or he accepts he needs to peck his way to challenge me. It's formal fighting rules. I won't accept anyone but /Nimir-Raj/ telling me otherwise!" His energy is settled. He's set in his ways. He then nods at Gage's orders, seeming to agree with the decree. He then looks nodding at Gage seeming to agree. "Alright, though tomorrow the offer still stands as such. Pecking order must be upheld and I won't take disrespect from someone that hasn't earned the right."

Cale is a bit confused with Ruby's answer, but he seems to take it and nods. "You have the key," he tells her. "I'll be working from home tomorrow." He offers her a light smile and then turns, heading back towards his car. A lot of cold burgers to pack up. Not bad for tonight, though. They won't go to waste.

Jeremy gets told tht he's not needed. And well, that has pretty much signed him off where it comes to having to heal anyone. So he stands there blinking after a moment and ends up falling over.

Johnothan moves to lift up the fallen Jeremy. "Come on Doc, YOU need to rest and recover yourself…Next time, let others help in the healing of the greviously injured. I prescribe at least one night in bed, with rest, followed by non strenuous activities until recovered."

Chuckles looks to Johnothan now that everything is winding down, following the fellow leopard to the van when they head that way.

Dominique waits till Frank gets his jacket on, reaching her free hand out to help him with it where necessary. "Home," she states sagely with finality. Her eyes drift to Keith. "You dat sure you want t'stress out your new Nimir even more?" she drawls. "Dat bein' a bit selfish, dat. You done made th'offer, it'll stand for a day or two wit'out shredded panties. Pride now, dat's another matter but it ain't toxic t'give it som' time t'simmer down." She gives Frank a faint smile. "Come on now. We got t'ings to talk 'bout, eh?"

Frank nods to Zack. "No worries," he says. "Shit happens." And then to Johnothan, "You an' me will be talkin' at some point soon. An' Ahikam, too. You know, 'bout respectin' people even when you disagree with them. But right now, it's time to go." And with that said, he turns towards the driver's seat of his car.

Keith nods at Dom seeming to agree. "Offer is on the table for twenty-four hours. Until then, I expect the traditions to be upheld unless overruled by our gracious Raj…"

Auranna nods and then turns and walks back into the trees, whether she is heading home she is leaving here.

Ruby slips into the back seat of Frank's car, without another word.

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