On a foggy San Francisco night, an ambulance roars out of the darkness. It pulls up at the UCSF Medical Center emergency entrance, to be met by an ER team, including Tariq O’Shaunessy. A patient is wheeled out, one Jennifer Dawes, a victim of multiple gunshot wounds to the back. Karina Borovsky follows quickly behind, trying unsuccessfully to get the patient to stay with them. Ms. Dawes may be the only eyewitness to a murder in Nob Hill.
She codes on the way to the O.R. Tariq manages to quickly get her into surgery, extracting three .45 rounds from her chest cavity and saving her life. She recovers in the Med Center’s ICU. Borvsky and Tariq wait for her to awaken.
Meanwhile, White Council Warden John Westone and his ward, Fang Tian, stumble across a member of a Ghoul clan that the White Council has had them tracking for the last few days. They’ve found him shortly after a series of gunshots, and they give chase as the creature rushes past. Westone fires at the Ghoul, winging him, giving them a trail of blood to follow, but the creature itself moves too fast for them to keep up. Fang takes a few moments to collect some of the Ghoul’s blood, and quickly constructs a tracking spell – a mood ring that gets warmer or colder as they follow their quarry’s trail.
When Jennifer Dawes awakens, Karina and Tariq take the opportunity to get what information they can out of her. She tells them that she saw two men arguing on the street as she walked home from her work shift, one in a suit, the other in plain jeans and a jacket. They yelled at each other in some other language. It sounded like Russian. Then, a gun went off, and the man in the suit went down. Dawes screams and runs, but another shot takes her down, and that’s the last thing she remembers.
With that information, Tariq and Karina head off to the crime scene. They arrive a short time later, and wait for the Crime Scene Unit to finish photographing and cataloging evidence. Karina shifts into wolf-form, ad she and Tariq take a few moments to sniff around the scene. Karina’s able to get some distinct scents. The first victim, the man in the suit, she identifies as a likely member of the Vory v Zakone, an organization that her mother, Natalia, is a member of. She also figures out where Ms. Dawes was shot, and it turns out she was moved several yards before she wound up in the location the police had found her. A third person, smelling of Middle-Eastern food and rotten meat had also been on the scene. Likely to be the shooter. And lastly, wafting in off the sea breeze, was the unmistakable smell of whiskey. John’s brand. He and Fang had to be in the area somewhere.
Fang and John are tracking the Ghoul down when they meet up with Karina and Tariq. After a brief exchange (with Fang being acutely aware of Karina’s state of undress when she shifted form to speak), the four of them team up to track down the creature. It fled into the sewers, of course. Difficult terrain for tracking. Fang’s spell got them a good long way into the tunnels before the running drainage water ground it out, and even Karina’s wolf senses couldn’t keep up once the scent was gone in the water. Then they spotted them – two Ghouls, poised to ambush them, hid just at the very edge of the magical light that John was providing.
There was a brief tussle. One Ghoul went down in a blaze of John’s magical fire. The second was rendered helpless between Karina’s bites, Tariq’s flames and a bullet from John. Fang, though, ran in fear from the fire when his old phobia got the best of him. Covered from sight by a Veil, he fled headlong into the sewer system, quickly getting lost.
Karina offers to track the boy down while Tariq and John question the Ghoul. After some – less than gentle – persuasion, the Ghoul spills that they’d been contracted to work for some cheapskate Russian named Chenko not long ago, and had set up shop in an old warehouse near Dogpatch. Their questions answered, Tariq burns the creature to ash, and they set off after the other two.
In the tunnels, Karina quickly manages to lose Fang’s scent. Turned around, confused and lost, she stumbles across a ladder, and finds herself in one of the ritzy neighborhoods of Nob Hill. Naked. She tries to keep to the shadows, but it isn’t long before Jenkins, a patrol officer of the SFPD, spots a naked woman sneaking around on the street, flashes his lights, and then… recognizes her. She manages to talk him into not reporting her, and has him drop her off at Tariq’s car.
Fang, meanwhile, has also stumbled up to the surface, coincidentally immediately after the last Ghoul, this one the murderer of Chenko. He follows as the Ghoul heads southeast, toward the docks. It takes a few hours, but Fang follows the creature, unseen, to its temporary lair. Fang’s Veil fades as the sun rises, but he finds a good enough hiding place to not be caught by the Ghoul as it throws some meat in a toaster oven to defrost before slumping into a chair.
John, in the meantime, uses a hair of Fang’s that he’d managed to keep on him to hastily construct a tracking spell. He and Tariq find their way out to where the boy ran off to, discovering the warehouse as the sun comes up, clearing the spell away. They waste no time in kicking down the door. The Ghoul ducks behind the beat-up chair, his .45 at the ready.
Karina arrives at the Chenko crime scene. She has to break Tariq’s car window, but she retrieves her phone and belongings. Before Jenkins leaves, the police radio crackles out an all-call; shots fired at 1550 Hyde Street, the restaurant that Natalia and the rest of the Vory frequent in the area. Checking her phone, Karina sees multiple missed calls from her mother, but only two messages. The first asks her to come to the restaurant to discuss the Chenko investigation. The last is more urgent, and cut off by a peal of automatic gunfire.