Ainsley, Derek, Ethan, and Stiles track down the mysterious "Plaguewolf" alpha who bit and turned Ainsley.
The trail to find the wolf has not completely gone cold. As it turns out, the secluded little spot Ainsley was dragged to before she got knocked out is underneath a thick enough tree cover that the evidence of the struggle is still there. For the lupine in the party, it stinks of Ainsley's blood... blood from before she had been changed, clearly human. It's old but it still lingers. "Here," Ainsley says as they approach the spot, "This is where I woke up." She points at some shell casings shining in the dirt over there. "I shot it a few times, I think," she says, not the most reliable source here considering the trauma of the attack.
She grimaces at the mixture of scents here. It's even worse than before, now that she's got a stronger nose. Musty dirt. Rotting plant matter. Blood. Gunpowder. She crosses her arms tightly and closes her eyes, looking visibly sickened.
"If you can find any blood from that bastard, then it would be here," she tells them, once she regains her composure.
Ethan Carver follows along after the others, keeping a wary eye out for any trouble. "Shot it?" he asks, wrinkling his nose, as his eyes begin to glow blue. "Shot it with what? I thought you were a nurse?" He moves a bit closer to the spot Ainsley indicates, nostrils flaring as he tries to catch any hint of a blood trail.
"Nurses, like any other person, can carry weapons." Derek points out, closing in on the spot. He gives her a pat on the shoulder as he passes, hoping to be reassuring, and takes in a deep breath of the local bouquet, such as it is. And just like Ainsley, although perhaps a bit more subdued, he makes a face that reflects how unpleasant the sensation is. But he must press on.
And so, with a rumble in his throat, Derek shifts to his wolfman form, eyes gleaming. He will pick out that different blood, or fur, or...something. He will give them a line to follow.
Derek Hale phases to his wolfman form.
As usual, Stiles has tagged along. It's not always obvious what he brings to these things, but... here he is in all his humany humanity! And he does have his bat. Because duh. And he was hanging back, mostly staying alert and listening. He doesn't have the wolf-senses for this, but he has a brain, and if he can pick up on what others discover, maybe his brain can even be helpful. If nothing else, though, he's here to show support and solidarity.
Ainsley's dour stare is turned on Ethan until Derek answers curtly. She tilts her head toward Derek wordlessly while looking at Ethan, to emphasize that answer, and she simply moves on from that. She steps away from all of this and somewhere over there, mostly just walking off so that others don't have to worry about watching her own shift. It's incredibly inconvenient for her, and she IS going with them, if she has any say in the matter. By the time she comes out from cover, she's a lanky 'woman wolf,' crouching a comfortable distance away from them.
The scent of the foreign wolf's blood is found. There's a trail, but the blood part of it ends early thanks to lycanthropic healing making a blood trail less than optimal for tracking. But it does give them an idea of the right smell, and the faint scent heads off deeper into the wilds. All that's left is to follow the trail. Little bits of fur maintain the smell along the way, like the creature's shedding abnormally.
Ainsley phases to her woman-wolf form.
Ethan Carver frowns a bit, glancing between Derek and Ainsley a few times, then turning to Stiles. "Guess all that 'do no harm' oath stuff is just for TV, huh?" Shrugging, he goes back to sniffing the air, rolling his head a few times to pop the cartilage in his neck. "This way," he grunts, nodding in the trail's direction, though Derek has undoubtedly already picked up the scent. He heads off in that direction, pausing now and then to take another sniff.
Derek already starts to move in the direction he detects. Just as he'd expected, the trail of blood ends...but that's not to say the scent falls away entirely. He's an experienced tracker. Now that they know the scent in one of its most vivid and strongest forms, it won't be such a challenge to pursue it in its less extreme manifestation. He doesn't say much -- unlike the rest -- just moves with purpose, taking in deep breaths and filling his lungs, making sure to analyze every last detail of every last scent associated. They may not have another chance even as good as they're getting now.
"I don't think medical oaths work that way," Stiles counters Ethan. "And, actually, the Hippocratic Oath doesn't say 'do no harm.' It says 'either help or do not harm the patient.' I really doubt that she was here to give the rogue alpha a flu shot." He chokes up a bit on his bat, holding it ready, and glances around warily. They probably won't be pounced at random, but... who knows? He forces himself to relax his posture a bit, then, and follows along after Derek's direction to see what they uncover.
Tracking the wolf is not difficult. It didn't make efforts to avoid being found, but the trek is quite a long ways off and weaves through some thick underbrush and other annoying spots like this that eventually leads the party to a little clearing. It takes a while to get there, and it'd take a while to get back to anything approaching civilization. When they get there, everyone in the group would feel the strange 'wrongness' in the air, where something is distorting the distant sense of power in the wilds around here.
And there it is. It's a seven foot tall beast with its fur having fallen out in patches, and what fur it does still have is bleached here and there like the color was drained out of it, appearing just as diseased as it's acting. Its eyes are wide and deathly white with black pupils, and its arms are crossed over its chest. It shivers and twitches and makes awful noises, and froths a bit... The thing hasn't seemed to have noticed them, and it appears it hasn't moved from this spot. It looks weak, and sick... ill in a way that is profoundly supernatural, and the source of it appears to be a painfully bright red brand seared into its chest above where the heart is. It obsessively rubs and claws at the spot as if it's constantly hurting, whining pitifully with each pulse of the awful red light.
Ainsley stays at the back of the group, not eager to approach this thing, even if she has the strength to fight it now. Her lupine features scrunch in an emotive display of pain, troubled by the horrific state the creature is in. She can't help it now... if it was in this state, then it may not have known what was happening at all.
Ethan Carver pulls up short when he reaches the clearing, narrowing his eyes at the beast, lips curling in a snarl to reveal his fangs. A low growl rumbles in his chest, and his clawed fingers twitch at his side, as if eager for a fight. He doesn't leap forward, however, glancing to Derek for some sign or silent command. He's the Alpha here, after all. Almost instinctively, Ethan takes a step or two to put himself between the seven-foot creature and Stiles.
Derek isn't sure about this either. Whatever's happening, this creature is not something that is going to be a threat...unless they approach it wrong. "Hang back," he calls to the others, raising an arm. "Ainsley. We need to find out what's wrong and how to treat it." He pointedly looks to her and to Stiles. It's certainly not going to be him or Ethan figuring that out. Even if he might know some herbal treatment, he's still not quite sure of the matter...and of them all, Ainsley is most specifically geared to knowing, with Stiles and his experience, both alone and with Deaton, also a likely candidate.
Stiles hangs back, staring at the ailing alpha wolf with first wariness and then growing concern. At Derek's glance, he can only give a helpless shrug. This is completely out of his depth, and he's really got no idea how to contribute. So he just shakes his head, letting the others handle things.
Getting called by name turns Ainsley's head. She is, notably, big like a movie werewolf, and yet the bright surprise on her lupine features and in her yellow gaze is quite human. She wasn't expecting that. Tentatively, she approaches. She's deathly afraid of making a misstep, and moves as carefully as she can, step by step. Part of her wants to attack this wolf for what it did to her, but then her human side, her good side, tells her to move carefully. Her pace is agonizingly careful, making special effort to appear harmless. She manages to get right within arms' reach of the plagued wolf, moving between four legged and two legged posture as she goes.
The wolf looks down at her, but doesn't stop scratching at its wound. She tries to get a careful angle on the brand...
She reaches and touches the wolf's arm. She freezes, and he freezes, and both of them stare for a few seconds. She gingerly removes his arm so she can get a full look at the brand... Probably to their surprise, she makes a soft cooing noise, attempting to comfort. It's lupine, but almost motherly. And it works, to limited effect. She gets a look at the brand, but it soon submits to irrationality and knocks her away with an inaccurate slap of its claws.
She growls from the impact and staggers back visibly, and a fraction of a second later, the plague wolf has darted off into the woods in a blur, fleeing the apparent threat all of these people represent. But instead of making chase, she holds up a hand at the party and urgently waves at them as if telling them 'Stay put,' despite the pain obviously driving her to a crouch and forcing her to whine. He drew blood from her.
Ethan Carver's growl grows louder when Ainsley is struck, and he's about to leap after the plague wolf, when the she-wolf waves them back. Scowling, he lets the growl rumble in his throat, glancing again to Derek, then over to make sure Stiles is still safe. But at least he stays put for the moment.
Derek is ready to move too, at least to pin down the wolf, but he stays still when Ainsley asks him to with her silent gesture. He can smell her blood, he knows she was wounded -- and not inconsiderably -- but he also knows she'll recover from it fairly quickly, and the other wolf probably didn't know what he was doing anyway. He holds back, staying in place. After all, they don't know if there might be others that could endanger Stiles or even the rest of them.
Stiles... stays put. Because this is one of those high-danger situations. He glances to Ethan, then to Derek, and finally has to speak up. "So... we're just gonna... sit here, then? That's the plan?" He's a bit frustrated, but more than that he's clearly worried.
Ainsley approaches the others, and gives them a sympathetic look when she notices how much they want to pounce on this wolf for hurting her, and she even lowers her head, ashamed of trying to command stronger, more experienced wolves. She touches a hand to the nasty claw marks across her face. It didn't hit anything vital, and it's already starting to heal... but it's messy. She moves toward them in an awkward three-legged way, her wolf-like form making it seem fairly natural. She does this because she's clutching her hand to the wound. It DOES sting a fair bit!
When she gets back over to them, she sniffs at the air, and flicks her ears, looking around carefully. And then she would gently touch Stiles by the elbow and urge him over to a small stone that she then picks up and starts itching the brand into. Scrape, scrape, scrape... She hands it toward Stiles, having carved an relatively accurate picture of the symbol into the stone. It should be a simple matter to take the stone and put it in his pocket or something.
Ainsley shows a serious scowl at Stiles, her bloodied werewolf face somehow more expressive than her werewolf one. With one eye closed and her opened eye focused directly on his own. She intends for him to take the symbol, maybe research it.
Ethan Carver frowns darkly, brows drawn together over his glowing blue eyes, as he looks again toward Derek. "What're we doing?" he asks in a gruff whisper. "I thought the idea was to catch that jerk, find out why he's going around biting people. And what the hell was wrong with him? I've never seen a wolf look that...mangy."
"Something's wrong with him obviously." Derek answers, curt as always but not really hostile. Not any more than usual, anyway. He's still tentative, careful, not wanting to be taken by surprise by anything else lurking in the darkness. But he isn't picking up anything with his senses, other than the people here. He looks to Ainsley and Stiles, watching their exchange, and walks closer to take a look at that symbol. Has he seen that before? Maybe he'll have some resources to consult himself.
Stiles shuts up when he realizes he's not contributing much, falling silent. He's still out of his depth, still not sure what to do, but at least now he's not contributing as much snark. Ethan gets a bit of a look, but Derek's reply is harsh enough that Stiles bites back his own. Instead, he adds quietly, "He looks sick. Maybe something to do with that brand?"
Stiles shuts up when he realizes he's not contributing much, falling silent. He's still out of his depth, still not sure what to do, but at least now he's not contributing as much snark. Ethan gets a bit of a look, but Derek's reply is harsh enough that Stiles bites back his own. Instead, he adds quietly, "He looks sick. Maybe something to do with that brand?" And he takes the stone from Ainsley, looking at the symbol, and says, "I don't think Googling this on my phone will help. Should I head to the library or something and try to do some research?"
Ainsley can only shrug at Stiles and Ethan, and then gesture vaguely with her blood-covered hand toward Derek. Then she frowns down at that hand and starts cleaning it. She looks around carefully before starting her trek back. She's not really in the mood to be hunting down a sick werewolf, so she's heading back to get her clothing, phase back to her human form, and go home to curl up on her couch or something.
Seems Ainsley's big wolf shape isn't really built for talking. She hasn't said a word since she phased. She just makes wolf-like noises.
"What we should be doing," Ethan grumbles low, "is locking that guy up somewhere, for his own safety as well as everyone else's, until we can figure out what's wrong with him and how to cure him. If he even can be cured. Letting him run around in that condition can't be good for anyone, least of all him. He needs food and water, shelter, somewhere safe." His frown deepens when Ainsley begins heading back the way they came, fighting back the unhappy growl building in his chest as he turns to Derek. "So that's it? We're just leaving him out there to bite others, or maybe to die from whatever he's sick with?"
Derek has to kind of agree to what Ethan says. "We should try," he calls to Ainsley. "There's a danger to more people. More of our kind too. We can't just let him run free like this."
"Maybe the symbol is a clue," Stiles offers. "If we can figure out what's wrong, then maybe he can get healed." He shakes his head. "Maybe we shouldn't jump the gun on this one. I know that rar, rogue alpha, bad, but... there's gotta be more to this."
Ainsley hesitates. She looks back over toward Derek, and then toward Ethan, and then she touches her face again. She is definitely not a fighter and it visibly pains her, the way they speak to her. She looks toward Stiles, but then focuses on Derek for a second. She returns to the group, and then she makes a concentrated effort to speak. When she does, it's deep, rumbly and definitely not the same as her human voice. There's stops and starts, because she's not used to it and her mouth's not currently built for talking without her learning how to do it all over again.
"N-no blood," she offers, touching her muzzle, "Didn't mmf... didn't bite someone else." Then she taps her nose, "Smelled like rabbit," she adds, "Eyes--" She chokes a bit. She has to pause. "Eyes, fearful, smelled... afraid."
Ainsley chuffs before this next part, her eyes closing. "Might kill him, if we try to rrr... restrain," she adds. Nevertheless, she looks at Derek, and defers to his decision on whether they should pursue.
She grumpily growls to herself and shuffles away from the group, heavily embarrassed by her lupine form's speech impediment.
"Someone should try to find him and keep an eye on him." Derek looks between them, but he settles on Ainsley. He's giving her the benefit of the doubt, definitely. He's there for her, to support her. But it's a concern of his since this is his territory, his stomping ground. He's the alpha, when Scott's still recovering and not quite up to speed yet.
Ethan Carver takes a long breath, lets it out in an exasperated sound, then nods. "Fine, okay. I'll go find him and keep an eye on him from a distance. Just...somebody call me when you've figured out what to do, okay? And if this is going to take longer than the night, I'm gonna need some breakfast in the morning."
"I'll go get on this, then," Stiles says. "You guys... do the watching thing, then." He turns and heads down back from where they came, back toward where he left his Jeep parked at the edge of the preserve.
Ainsley gingerly touches her face when reminded how dangerous this rogue wolf is just from Derek's look, and tells Ethan, "I'll go with." She glances to Derek again, waiting for him to make the final decision as before. She looks over to where Stiles is going, worriedly, though she doesn't seem to have noticed any nearby activity. There's nothing nearby, and the trail to follow the sick wolf would be fairly simple.
This seems to satisfy Derek's discomfort. He gives a single nod and motions with his chin to the other two wolves. "You two get on his trail. I'll go with Stiles. I know some things that might help. We will be in touch. I will be there to relieve you." He pointedly looks to Ethan. "Breakfast at the latest."