Chapter 6: The Goddamn Prince Can’t Run His Own Fucking City, Part 3

The Prince drags me and Georgia–and a resuscitated Clarence–in front of him and asks what the fuck is going on. Clarence says he was attacked, the Prince asks by whom, Clarence says he doesnt know. I raise my hand and say I overheard some guys talking, they mentioned this name, Dies Ultimae…?

The Prince freaks out. Apparently they are a private military contractor run by werewolves–which I had more or less assumed already–and if they’re attacking vampire businessmen in our city that’s baaaad. The Prince calls the Camarilla leadership in New York, speaks to some dude named Hardestadt, who more or less chews him out for not being able to run shit–which I had more or less assumed already–and says he’s sending a Justicar to help straighten things out. A guy by the name of Theo Bell.

The Prince ends the call and orders us all to spend the day in his private quarters at the top of the TransAmerica Pyramid while he tries to figure shit out.

The next evening, wake up and pace in my room, trying to figure out what to do.  I give fewer than two shits about the Prince’s problems but I’ll need to stay involved in all this to report back to Marcus. I also find myself thinking about Sophia. The Prince seems like he might go on the warpath vis a vie the werewolves, and I’m concerned about her getting stuck in the crossfire. I decide to let her know, but since I don’t know her phonenumber, I concoct an elaborate workaround wherein I type a message to her in the notepad of my phone (addressing her as “GRRRRRL!” ), warning her about the arrival of Justicar Bell. Knowing she has a near-mystical affinity for technology–and assuming she’s already watching me–I’m hoping that somehow she’ll find it.

I also contact Aitor, Marcus’s man, and give a thumbnail sketch on what happened last night. He replies that he needs to meet with me in person to discuss this further, tonight, so I tell him to meet me at The Eagle in an hour.

I suddenly realize that I have now effectively become a triple agent, relaying information to Sophia and Marcus, while still doing whatever the Prince forces me to do (to the letter of the law if not the spirit of it).

Somehow, I am not bothered by any of this.

#

Meanwhile, things have gotten interesting for Carlos. Upon returning to his tanks after an early-evening hunting trip, he checks on Vontaze and Not-Vontaze–both of whom he has been putting through Guantanamo-levels of psychological torture for the last night or so–and discovers that Not-Vontaze, while still tied up, is dead, his throat cleanly cut.

His murderer, though, isn’t a mystery for long; a woman melts out of the shadows, blonde and lithe, confident as a cat, and identifies herself as Isabella. Apparently she is an Assamite doing some work in the contract of Maximilian von Strauss. The details of the arrangement are a little hazy, but in essence Max wants Carlos to do some work for him, and Isabella has been sent to ensure it happens. In return, though, Max promises Carlos that he will provide the means necessary to help Carlos with his “Great Work.”

#

I head to The Eagle. Aitor is there, sitting awkwardly at the bar, but he leads me out of the bar to an alley behind the side-patio. He leaves me there, and wait, perplexed, wondering what’s going on.

Then Marcus steps out of the shadows of the solid wall behind me.

I stare, paralyzed with sudden fear. “That’s…a pretty cool trick, Boss,” I mutter.

“Thank you,” he mutters, fidgeting with his clothes, which are nothing more than kid-sized jeans and a t-shirt, but some how still seem to fit uncomfortably on him.

He asks for my report, and I dish on everything that’s been going on, from the attack on Clarence to the Prince’s continued flailing around, carefully omitting all mentions of Sophia, though I do mention the arrival of Bell. Marcus says he is a man of considerable power, Brujah as well, and the best way to deal with him will be to lay low and do what he says.

Marcus, eyes narrowed suspiciously, goes back to the topic of the attack, asking why, if it was in fact Dies Ultimae, I survived, and for that matter, how did I know it was Dies Ultimae in the first place? I decide to go with edited truth, saying they grabbed me and shoved me in a van, and I overheard things, then later escaped.

His stare intensifies. The shadows along the walls start to ripple, just like they did in the room in Cascade Canyon. Dread climbs through me and I take a step back.

“There’s something you’re not telling me, Tom,” he says softly, his nine-year-old voice carrying more threat than the Prince has been able to convey in his entire body. “Those men should have killed you the moment they smelled you. How did you escape, Tom?”

I look around, desperate for an exit, but the shadows seem to swell closer. “Tell me, Tom,” Marcus repeats, “Or I will make you. You know I can, and you know you won’t like it.”

I cast my eyes to the dirty alley ground and sigh. It was probably only a matter of time till it came to this. “I…may…have found a…werewolf…friend….” I whisper.

Silence in the alley. I can hear shouts from the patio next-door, but they seem strangely muffled, distant. Marcus stares at me, but I avoid his gaze. There’s no question that what I’m doing–talking to werewolves, giving them information about vampire politics–is illegal, and even if Marcus isn’t involved in those politics, I’m probably too much of a risk to keep around.

I wonder if he’ll kill me quickly, like Elsa and “Elizabeth,” or if it will be slow, like whatever the hell he has done to Paul….

“Well,” he says finally. “That’s certainly not what I expected….” I risk a glance up. There’s actually a hint of a bemused smile on his narrow lips.

Relief that I’m not about to die rushes thorough me and washes out all the details, how I rescued Sophia from Alejandro and how she killed Isaac, though I say this is the first time I’ve seen her since then. I say she seems to be good with technology, mentioning my bike. “Glasswalker,” Marcus nods, gesturing for me to continue. I say that I might still be in contact with her, through texting, and gave her a warning about Bell coming to the city. Marcus nods again, considering this, and tells me to continue with my interactions with her, if I see fit, so long as I report to him whatever happens.

“However,” he says warningly, “Do not mention me, not my name, not even my abstract existence.” He hesitates and I see a strange look cross his face. “I…have a history with the werewolves. It would be best if she didn’t know you were associated with me.”

With that out of the way, I ask him if there’s anything he wants me to work on. He says that he’s heard word Slayer–the asshole who sent me to Marin–has been hiding out in the South Bay, at the fringes of Sabbat territory, talking smack about how he got a Methusula to do his dirty work and get rid of a bunch of neonates for him. Marcus advises me that he’s not too thrilled about what that will do for his reputation, so if I could go pass his…displeasure…on to Slayer, maybe publicly humiliate him in some way, that would be equitable. I agree whole-heartedly.

Marcus hesitates again. “And…another thing. Something has come to my attention….” He pulls out a folded newspaper clipping and hands it to me. It’s from today’s paper and mentions how gang-war in Bayshore has escalated lately, leading to a bunch of disappearances, a family of six brutally butchered in their own home, and one young boy executed and dumped in the shipyard.

“Most vampires wouldn’t notice something like this,” he says, “Most people wouldn’t. Such victims are already half-disposed so what difference does it make what they do to each other.” He meets my gaze. “But I make a habit of keeping an eye out for these sorts of things.  I’d like to know more information on this.”

I stare at the article another moment. According to it, the lone boy didn’t even have a recorded name. Marcus watches me carefully. I don’t know why he has an interest in such a thing, but the fact that he does…intrigues me. I look up and nod. “I’ll do what I can, Boss.”

#

Later that evening, the Prince calls everyone back to Elysium in desperation (including Carlos) and starts ranting about everything that’s going on. Apparently the werewolves have been moving against his own business interests, attacking him in specific, targeted ways that makes him think they are acting on inside knowledge. He glares at all of us suspiciously–(Me: “OH MY GOD THE PRINCE THINKS SOMEONE IS PASSING INFO TO THE WEREWOLVES BUT THE BITCH IS THIS PERSON IS PASSING INFO I CANT PASS SO ITS NOT ME EVEN THOUGH I AM PASSING INFO TO THE WEREWOLVES!”)–then waves off his suspicions and moves on.

He says he is organizing a new special task force, based on the various bits of info we have relayed to him. Werewolf bullshit aside, most signs about The Englishman and other things going on seem to point to the Sabbat in San Jose, lead by Alejandro and Andre. He wants us all to go down, check it out, and report back to him. We agree, and make plans to leave immediately, picking up Doc along the way.

Somehow in the confusion of departure, despite my frantic gestures against it, Clarence and Georgia convince Emperor Norton to come along as well.

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