Sentinel Syndrome: City Tour

A wadded-up scrap of paper bounced off of Carra Jayn's forehead as she slept at her desk. The changeling quickly shot awake and tried to figure out what had just happened, her only clues being a ball of paper rolling across her desk and the smirk on the face of the fellow changeling who sat across from her.
Carra didn't really like Cahn Meik, he was a core of arrogance wrapped in a veneer of contempt. What really riled her was the fact that while his efforts to suck up to the senior sentinels had failed to purchase him promotion, the fact that he actually got results was certainly helping.
"What'd you do that for?" Carra snarled.
Cahn smiled and stared down his tiny, pointed nose at her. "If anyone catches you napping, there'll be hell to pay."
Carra snorted. "It's not as if they're imaginative with their punishments, I could do any number of their pointless chores standing on my head."
"What if it was Krysospas?" Cahn suggested.
"What if?"
"He'd have you on a date with him as punishment duty."
Carra shuddered. "Point taken." She glanced sideways to one of the fellow sentinels sharing her desk. "Hey, why didn't you wake Veyka up then?"
"Because she'd be angry. And then would eat me."
In all honesty, the werewolf looked quite ridiculous as she slept with her head back and tongue lolling from her open muzzle. What surprised Carra was the fact that the newest recruit was actually sleeping on the job, the werewolf had boundless energy and was suspected by the other officers of only ever working and making furiously passionate love to her husband.
Maybe the diet and constant exercise was taking a toll on her. Veyka Graus had barely managed the upper physical requirement for the guild and her race, and while she could have continued at the weight she was as an investigative officer - a role she seemed uncannily suited for - Veyka felt that she wanted to be a more active officer and was currently doing everything in her power to be a better fighter. Still, she had the strength, the power, and it was certainly within her powers.
"Not without evaluating your calorific value first." Carra quietly said, almost voicing the thought that if it would help any then she would dip Cahn in salad cream.
"To be honest, I didn't think she actually slept." Cahn said. "I thought all she did was work and screw."
Carra grimaced. It was actually a source of embarrassment for the werewolf that everyone assumed that she and her husband, Norreck, had nothing better to do with their spare time. Much of it had to do with the fact that Norreck frequently visited his wife in the guild during slow periods, and always seemed to be tired. That, matched with Veyka's seemingly boundless energy had earned the werewolf somewhat of a reputation.
Veyka had even confided with Carra about the matter, woman-to-woman. The real reason for Norreck's exhaustion was due to the fact that he worked nights at the harbour, and was also somewhat of an insomniac.
Of course, Carra was naturally curious. "So, you're not some kind of insatiable lover, then?" She had asked Veyka at that moment.
The werewolf blushed, but at least smiled and said "not nearly as bad as everyone assumes I am."
"Still, she actually looks pretty cute sleeping like that." Cahn commented.
At that moment, Veyka snorted disgustingly and let her tongue loll from her open mouth, drool streaking her cheek.
"I take it back." The changeling muttered. "Anyway, how come you ladies get to sleep on the job?"
Carra grunted and adjusted her blue headscarf. "We've been working overtime. Two days and nights."
"So have I." Cahn smugly said. "And I've been awake all this time."
"No, you haven't." Carra corrected him. "You were out for five hours this morning."
Cahn glared at her and began to put right her obviously incorrect view of the world when Mogas Wemus stepped through the assorted desks with a bundle of papers in his hands. Mogas was a catfolk, maneless, and had vanilla white fur. He looked completely and utterly bland, half-asleep, disinterested. And to all intents and purposes this was true whenever he wasn't talking.
By the gods, how he loved to hear himself speak.
"Well then, ladies, we've-" Mogas began before a snort from Veyka interrupted him. The catfolk glared at the werewolf, put down the papers, and wandered towards a nearby desk usually manned by a few selkies and a vulpin.
With so many different dietary requirements and tastes in the guild, it's simply amazing what filling can be stuffed into a donut. Mogas picked up a stale candidate and gave it a cautious sniff.
"Tuna?" He asked Cahn.
Cahn shrugged. "Maybe squid?"
"No, definitely tuna."
"What are you going to do?" Carra demanded.
Mogas said nothing, instead he made his way back to the sleeping Veyka and held the donut over her open muzzle.
"Don't." Carra warned him.
Mogas grinned, quickly stuffed the donut into Veyka's mouth, then used both hands to hold her muzzle shut.
The werewolf woke up, went bug-eyed, and tried to spit whatever Mogas had crammed into her mouth out. By now, Cahn was practically rolling on the floor with laughter, and Mogas' strong grip eventually forced Veyka to swallow before he eventually released her.
Veyka coughed and spluttered, before glaring at the catfolk. "I'm gonna rip your throat-"
Mogas quickly snatched his papers from the desk and waved them in front of Veyka's nose. "Strrraight frrrom Gilgal's desk." He grandly announced. "He wants us in civilian drrress and on the strrreets in the next half hour. Same forrr yew two loverrrs." He said, in reference to Cahn and Carra.
"Veyk'," Carra quietly asked, "are we taking turns in killing him, or will it be a team effort?"
"What's all this about, Mogas?" Cahn asked.
"Get out of yourrr grrreens, and I'll explain."

Mogas had just explained the situation. Carra leaned against a lamppost and sighed, "So let me get this straight. We have an individual impersonating a sentinel."
Mogas nodded. "And please hold all jokes about how he could have made deputy by now. I'm saving them forrr laterrr-"
"You mean when we report to Girgar?" Veyka grinned. That would have been a show she would have sold tickets for.
"Exactly. Anyway, he's been blackmailing local businesses, offerrring parrrdons for ludicrous prrrices, and generrrally being a nuisance."
Cahn raised a tentative hand. "Do you want us to hold all comments as to how this guy's cutting into our schemes as well?"
"Oh, could you? That would be awfully kind of you." The catfolk grinned. "Anyway, common logic states that if this sentinel imperrrsonatorrr catches a whiff of grrreen leatherrr, he'll bolt faster than centaur at a knackerrr's yarrrd."
"So the reason we're out of our itchy reather coats and in our itchy street crothes is so we can sneak up on this guy and proceed with the mob beating?" Veyka asked.
Mogas grinned. "It's so simple, even a lupin gets it."
Carra stared at Mogas. "Well, it seems that mister genius has everything figured out."
Mogas was at least smart enough to recognise a sentence that needed a 'but'. "But?"
"However," Carra grinned. "This is Sauronan. The Celestial city. Home of more green leather-coated freaks than you can shake a box of donuts at."
The catfolk gave the changeling female an I'm-oh-so-sweet-and-tired-and-can-we-finish-this-discussion-in-bed blink. "Yourrr point being, dearrrest?"
"It's so simpre, even a ferine doesn't get it." Veyka muttered beneath her breath.
"I think what Carra is trying to say in her typically female way is how the hell we're supposed to know who we're supposed to be arresting?"
Mogas nodded, pretending to finally understand. "Oh. Simple. He's an idiot."
The three other junior sentinels glared accusingly at him.
Mogas continued. "Of courrrse, you may be asking why Gilgal hasn't given him a rrreal badge by now because he-"
"Mogas." Carra snapped.
"It's simple, rrreally. Just look at his coat." Mogas began pacing back and forth, much like a commanding officer on the battlefront. "Of courrrse, therrre arrre minorrr clues, quality of the leatherrr, grrreenness of the coat. I'm surrre even the sensitive nose would be able to tell the differrrence between this impostorrr's uniform and the genuine arrrticle." Mogas stopped suddenly, and turned so his back was to the group. "Howeverrr, like the rrreport I got frrrom guildmasterrr Rrradisgad says, this guy's an idiot. Sentinel coats arrre cut shorrrt on the rrright side. His is cut shorrrt on the left."
"You're right." Cahn muttered. "He should be in the guild."
Veyka wanted to say that if someone wasn't observant enough to notice how the cut of a piece of clothing every sentinel in the guild wore that he didn't belong She decided not to, for having just spent a month in the company of Mogas and Cahn had taught her that it's always best to reserve some ammunition for a better time.
And judging by the slight facial pull on Carra's features, the werewolf figured that they were both in the same mind.
"Sorry, but we're going to need more details." Carra said.
Mogas sighed. "Do I have to explain everrrything to you?"
"Werr, if you had ret us rook at the case notes, then no."
Cahn pointed at Veyka. "Someone promote that woman. Anyway, as much as it batters my self-esteem for not pushing forward that thought myself, I'm going to have to agree with the ladies here."
"Okay, human. Tall, black hairrr, fairrr complexion. Happy?" Mogas hooked an arm through Veyka's before she could react and entwined his fingers with hers. "Now let's split up and starrrt worrrking."
Veyka looked uncomfortable. "Mogas, what-"
Mogas waved his free hand at the two changelings. "Because as rrridiculous as we look, everyone would agrrree that they make a cute couple."
Carra glared again at Mogas. It was becoming somewhat of a habit. "What do-"
"I think it worrrks betterrr for everrryone if we look natural."
"And a werewolf and a catfolk is natural?" Cahn asked.
"Of courrrse. Everrryone knows that werrrewolves arrre promiscuous."
Veyka actually smiled. "That's true. It's because that, throughout the ages, wereworves as a species have often associated sex with physicar pain and death." Mogas' mouth was open as if to speak, but from the blank expression on his face and the fact he was slowly sagging to his knees indicated that he was in a whole world of hurt. Veyka continued. "Why, back in the day when we were nothing but savage and wird beasts, my great-great-great-grandmother, arso known as Veyka, would frequentry 'get off' with her mears before eating them. Sometimes during." By now, Mogas was on his knees, whimpering in pain, and the bones in his hands creaking softly as Veyka squeezed harder and harder. "Good times, apparentry, but of course we're arr so civirised now. Norreck and I actuarry dated for a whire before getting married and finarry consummating our rerationship." Veyka finally released the catfolk's unresisting fingers and took half a step away from him. "Hord my hand again without permission, and you'rr be hording a pencir between your teeth to write reports."

The four sentinels had split up into pairs, and Carra waited until she and Veyka were well out of earshot before finally bursting out into laughter.
Veyka winced as if she were blushing. "Prease don't. It wasn't funny."
The changeling managed to regain enough composure to say, "Oh, but it was. See, the reason why you're not laughing is because you didn't see Mogas' face."
This time, Veyka did wince. "Prease... Just..."
Carra sighed. "Look, if it's about Mogas-"
"It isn't." The werewolf put in bluntly.
"-At least you're standing up to him now."
"Yeah... And you had to raugh." Veyka snapped.
Carra nodded, understanding. She smiled, "I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing at Mogas."
They walked in silence for a while, then Veyka shook her head and said, "I'm not sure if I can put up with this anymore."
"You can, Veyk. You just need to- Hello, what's this?"
A human sentinel stood some distance away in the shadow of a lamppost on a street junction, smoking on a cigarette and looking down all directions of the street. His coat was cut short at the left leg, and a sword in its scabbard lay against his bare left thigh.
For one thing, sentinels don't smoke on duty.
"That's him." Veyka muttered as the sentinel dropped the cigarette and ground it into the pavement with his foot. "He's armed." Which was an unusual situation, since most officers on patrol only carried concealed truncheons in order to make the populace less anxious about heavily-armed officers of the law walking amongst them.
"Mogas didn't tell us that." Carra grumbled. "We're gonna have to be more careful than we thought."
"Easy now, if he thinks we're after him, he'rr stirr run."

"-she would have broken both hands, Moggie." Cahn muttered. "I thought that was obvious to all."
"I'm calling assault." The catfolk whined, still rubbing feeling back into his paw.
"You've nobody to blame but yourself."
"Yeah. If you're gonna piss off a werewolf, then make sure you're not holding her ha- Hello, what's this?"
A human dressed in a cheap imitation of a sentinel's uniform stubbed out a cigarette beneath his boot and tucked both hands into his pockets. It had just started to rain, or given Wysoom's climate it would be better to say that it had stopped not raining.
"At least he's got the hunch down right." Cahn noted, and that at least was true - Given the loose collar of the sentinel's coat, most officers learned quickly how to hunch their shoulders during the rain to prevent rogue drops pouring down their necks.
Mogas sniffed. "Oh yeah, I was rrright. You can smell the differrrence in the leatherrr."
"Why haven't the Celestials swept this asshole up?" Cahn muttered.
"Because a perrrson imperrrsonating a sentinel should be dealt with by the sentinels. Who do yew think did the rrreasearrrch for the notes I got?"
"Doesn't look armed. Let's do this."

The quartet of officers closed in on the subject. Carra and Veyka from the left, and Cahn and Mogas from the right. Needless to say, both pairings assumed that they were alone in their advances until they had both cleared enough of the corner building to recognise each other.
And the impersonator caught that spark of recognition. Despite the fact that there was no verbal communication between the two groups of genuine sentinels, despite the fact that they barely acknowledged each others presence, that single spark arced between them through the perpetrator and spurred him into action. He ran.
Mogas Wemus was the first to begin the pursuit, his reflexes keen and reaction time barely nil. Carra was a faster runner but a little slower from the blocks, with Cahn quickly bringing up the rear.
That left Veyka all alone. Suddenly impotent in the face of a chase on foot, the werewolf fought back the initial sense of rejection and abandonment and decided on her course of action. As the heavens finally opened to release the full force of yet another Wysoomian rainstorm, Veyka broke into a swift trot towards the nearest alley, her hands on the lace of her shirt.

Carra steamed past Mogas in the first fifteen yards, but even her speed was barely sufficient to keep the wannabe sentinel in sight, he was good. In fact, if he had attempted to join the guild he would probably make the physical requirements easily.
Her heart pounding in her chest, Carra drew upon her inner reserves and forced her legs to work faster. Mogas drifted further and further away behind her and the faker inched closer and closer.
But it still wasn't enough.
Carra hissed sharply and tried to run even harder. Fortunately, her quarry was content with sprinting down the main street towards the temple district, no doubt heading towards the Golden Boar and sanctuary.
His foot slipped on a loose cobblestone, and the human stumbled a little bit. Carra gained on him a little more.
Two seconds behind him.
Carra pushed herself harder, lactic acid building in her thighs and begging her to stop her mad sprint.
One second behind him.
"I have you now!" She hissed.
Half a second behind him, and she reached for the collar of his coat.
It was at this point that Cahn Meik bolted from a side street in an attempt to tackle the man from the side, exactly half a second to late.
The changelings rolled into the gutter, Carra's ankle twisting painfully and Cahn typically doing everything in his power to make sure that she got the largest serving of the physical punishment. They eventually caromed off a lamppost and came to a stop just feet away from a carriage that barely managed to halt its progress in time.
"You-" Carra grunted, trying to get up and test her ankle. She almost managed to say "-idiot!" when Mogas rounded the corner and stepped heavily onto the couple, springing off their prone forms to gain a little more speed.
Cahn struggled to his feet. "We'd... Better move. Veyka's probably next."
Carra kicked him in the shin with her good foot and finally finished her initial outburst with, "-bastard!"
Cahn shakily turned tail and set off behind Mogas. He never even asked if she was okay.
Carra tried in vain to haul herself to her feet, before writing off her busted ankle and slumping back down into the gutter, defeated.

Despite his fall, Cahn actually managed to catch up with the catfolk. Really, they weren't built for running on two legs.
"Watch it." Cahn said as he pulled up alongside Mogas. "He's armed. We're not."
Mogas' breath steamed from his nostrils as he bared his teeth. Suddenly, the tips of his fingers glinted as he drew his claws. "Speak forrr yerrrself, elf-boy."
Cahn stared sideways at Mogas, his eyes off the road. "Carra's down and Veyka's nowhere to be seen. Looks like it's up to us men."
Mogas nodded and said, "Eyes frrront."
"What?" Cahn asked. And then he was gone, spread thickly onto the back of an undertaker's cart that he could have sidestepped had he been paying full attention as to where he was going.
Speaking of where he was going, Mogas realised he would never gain on their quarry like this. Though he resented the thought, he dropped forward and landed on all fours, his hind legs operating better that way than they had been while bipedal. The catfolk sighed; it was so beastly, so animal. He was not the pinnacle of feline evolution just so he could scamper around like a kitten through a buttercup field. Father would be so disappointed.
Still, at least he was gaining rapidly on the human. The sentinel impostor glanced over his shoulder, saw Mogas gain on him, and then tried to redouble his efforts to put some distance between them.
At that point, a large bullet of brown fur darted from an alley and took him off his feet at chest height. Veyka in her wolf form weighed about as much as a fully-grown human, and unlike her natural and human forms it was all muscle. Wolf and man barrelled into a vegetable stall, spilling produce and vendor across the street.
The human looked up in fright at the snarling wolf currently standing on his chest, glaring down at him down her muzzle which displayed each and every one of her perfectly sharp teeth, and then he passed out.
Mogas grumbled to himself and skidded to a stop nearby, pulling himself upright. Typical, all that effort and disgrace only to be upstaged by a mongrel.

Carra had just limped by the undertaker's carriage when Cahn regained consciousness and shakily stood up. He began to follow her before saying, "Oh, thanks very much for asking how I am."
"Likewise." Carra growled as she finally caught sight of the chaos up ahead. A vegetable salesman was complaining loudly at Mogas while a wolf tried to pull the stunned sentinel impersonator from the wreckage with her teeth.
"Why else do we have street sellers? All they do is offer a crash area for a criminal to be pushed into." Cahn muttered.
Mogas caught scent of the two changelings and turned to face them, smiling brightly. "Ah, good, you'rrre both awake. Deal with this like the two good suborrrdinates you arrre."
"Don't push it, Wemus." Carra grumbled. "I'm not in the mood right now."
"Veyka beat you to him, huh?" Cahn grinned.
"Beat us all to him, I rrremind yew." Mogas said. "Anyway, he passed out straight away. Must be her breath or something. Anyway, we'll have to wait for him to wake up beforrre rrreading him his rrrights and making this bust official."
"So you're letting Veyka struggle with body while you stand her and shoot the breeze with the local merchants?" Carra asked accusingly.
Mogas shrugged. "If she wants to change back and make it easierrr on herrrself, that's herrr choice. Let herrr play with herrr food forrr a bit."
Carra glared hotly at the catfolk as Veyka padded over to them. "So you're wondering why she hasn't changed back?"
Mogas glanced up at the sky. "Well, I'm wonderrring what I'm going to have forrr lunch, but that was also a concerrrn of mine."
"Okay." Carra sighed, exasperated. "Let me explain this to you. As a wolf, what is Veyka missing?"
Mogas looked at the wolf before turning back to the changelings. "I'd say about a hundrrred and fifty pounds and two big, lovely-"
Carra cuffed Mogas around the head and hissed, "Idiot. You two deal with this." She glanced down at Veyka. "C'mon, show me where you dumped your clothes."

Schrau Cadnos dumped another pile of paperwork into the out tray of his desk and pulled another stack towards him. As he casually read the first page, the sentinel mentor sighed. Join the guild, seek blind revenge on slavers and make the Cadnos name one to be proud of for the first time in centuries. Climb the ranks to deputy, earn respect and power. Become mentor, and have enough paperwork daily to bury a titan.
This was not how he imagined he would be spending his days. Anyway, tomorrow he would be taking a few days off, seeing the worlds, meeting interesting people and no doubt wondering how best to kill them.
Still, at least he would have lunch to look forward to. Hunger waits for no vulpin.
You had to get used to that feeling that a junior sentinel was just hovering at your shoulder, seeking permission to approach. Looks like hunger would have to wait. The vulpin did not avert his gaze from the document he was reading as he said, "This had better be worth my time to rook up at you, Meik."
"Uh, we have a problem with our latest arrest. I need you to sign this, boss." The changeling said, dropping a large legal document onto the desk in front of Schrau.
Schrau stared up at Cahn. Cahn stared back, waiting for the mentor to sign the document.
"I am a vurpin." Schrau replied. "And do you know why I am not signing it at this current moment in time? Because I am a vurpin."
Cahn blinked and began to speak.
"That is why I am not immediatery signing this paper. Because I am a vurpin. We, as a race, know that when somebody drops a piece of paper in front of you and demands that you sign it without any further instruction that there's a high probabirity that if we did so, then we would rikery regret doing so in the near future. Because I am a vurpin. And we've purred that trick on so many non-vurpins in the past."
"Um, our, uh, perp is trying to legally contest his arrest and-"
"On what grounds?"
Cahn gulped. "On the grounds that the arresting officer did not read him his rights, and did not identify herself as a sentinel officer during the arrest."
Schrau stared back at Cahn, making him feel quite uncomfortable. "She did not read him his rights?"
"Well, Veyka claims she did. Growl them, at least."
Schrau's eyebrows arched. "Oh, werr. Zeamass actuarry got that to stick once. And she did not identify herself?"
"She did not have her badge." Cahn said. "She, uh, was in wolf form. And he passed out during the arrest."
Schrau sighed. "When he came to, did someone capabre of identifying themserf as an officer and reading him his rights do so at the earriest opportunity?"
"Yes boss, Veyka did it herself."
Schrau poked the document. "So what is this, Kahn?"
"Uh, it's Cahn - Pronounced sahn, boss."
"And it's sir, pronounced surr, officer." Schrau corrected him.
"Uh, yes sir." Cahn swallowed again. "Anyway, it's a statement indicating that the arrest procedure was correct and legally binding according to a high-"
"I am aware of such statements, Cahn, and I know it's rike sending Girgar in to do your work." Schrau tossed the paper back at Cahn. "I gather your arrest was a minor one, and in fact nearry everyone we arrest argues that it is not regar. That, however, is a rast-ditch attempt to rock in a criminar when arr other methods have faired, and in truth the contents of those statements are borderrine regar at best, meaning we can't arways get away with it every time. If we unreashed one of those for every minor cutpurse who tries to get out of jair free, werr..." Schrau shook his head and grumbled beneath his breath. "Think of the paperwork. Have you tried any other methods to convince your quarry that his arrest was above board?"
"Uh... Other methods?"
The vulpin sighed. "I am not the product of thousands of years of evorution of form, of cunning, and of interrigence just to serve as your crean-up boy." He glared at Cahn. "Which cerr is he in?"
"Three, bo- Sir."
"Move him to four. Make sure he accidentarry trips down the steps. Whatever. Make sure he's in a four mood. Terr him that I'rr be there in ten minutes to speak with him."
"Yes sir."
"I'rr be there in an hour." Schrau added. "Oh, and make sure that Veyka is waiting for me there, outside his cerr with the shutter open, for about twenty minutes beforehand." Schrau cleared his desk and pulled his lunch from his drawer. "Rooks rike I'm going to have to convince him that an outright arrest is better to where he's going to be staying for the months it would take for his appear to fair. Dismissed."