“The dismemberments and explosions will continue until morale improves.”
Anstis is partially trapped in the spirit world. Physically he is still in the real world, but his senses can only pick up the ghostly emanations of the dead. He’s starting to hear voices, now, as the shapes circle closer. Some of the voices are in English, but the rising cacophony obscures all meaning. The spirit shaped like a dock worker is still staring at him, approaching slowly, and, unlike the other shapes, purposefully.
Anstis gropes backward, trying to make his way back closer to where Helgi and I were last standing, when a new sound pierces the gloom. An ethereal shriek, coming from the west. A sound like the whispers around him but condensed in anger and pain.
It is the cry of the newly dead.
All the time I’ve spent this evening moping around the shipping yard—telling stories, eating pigeons—hasn’t been entirely wasted. I’ve been formulating a plan to deal with a new line of investigation and I am itching to get started.
“Captain!” I turn to see Anstis stumble backward from behind a row of containers next to us. “We need to get going!”
Anstis turns in my direction and stares vacantly for a moment. “…Aye, we should,” he says, bemused.
I frown. “Been hitting the grog there, Captain?” I ask. He doesn’t seem to hear, staring back over his shoulder at the empty air behind him.
I ignore Anstis’s odd behavior, bid my farewell to Helgi and start walking toward the car. I don’t get far, though, before I realize that Anstis isn’t following me. I turn to see him stumbling randomly, staring around sightlessly. Helgi is also making his way out of the shipping yard but is staring at Anstis with a frown. I grin awkwardly at him and walk back to grab Anstis’s arm.
Anstis can’t find me in the gloom, but the form of the dock worker is getting stronger and closer by the second. The man’s face is tortured—whether with fear or with anger, Anstis can’t tell—and he is holding something formless and heavy-looking in his hand. Anstis tries to back away, toward the dim sound of my voice, but the man speeds up. He lifts his object in one hand and reaches toward Anstis with his other.
I grab Anstis’s arm. He jerks, ripping himself out of my grip, scattering gravel as he stumbles back. His face is clenched in panic, lone eye focused toward the distance behind me.
“Who be ye!?” He shouts.
I stare at him and throw my arms open. “What the FUCK?!”
The man seems to be trying to say something, his spectral mouth opening and closing, but slowly, like a gasping fish. Faint whispers slither through the gloom, but Anstis can’t make them out over the muffled sounds of cursing coming from somewhere closer.
Anstis steps toward the spirit. “Speak!” he commands.
“I AM speaking, you damn arr-tard!” I watch, flabbergasted, as he continues to ignore me and grope at the empty air. “What the hell kind of pigeons did you eat, son!?”
“Dark arts,” Helgi’s voice rumbles to my left. I turn. He has wandered back from the edge of the yard and is watching Anstis, face unreadable. “Spirits,” he mumbles (along with some other things I couldn’t hear cause Jason’s Macbook wasn’t close enough to mine for the recording to pick up >:|)
“Spirits!? What? Fucking where??” I whirl around. There’s nothing around us in the yard but shadows and pigeon feathers.
“We need to leave now!” Anstis finally declares. He stumbles again, dodging unseen foes, and starts walking, in the opposite direction from the entrance to the yard.
I’ve had enough of this bullshit. I grab him again and start dragging him toward the fence. This time he doesn’t resist.
We get back to the bar without further incident. I shove Anstis in the back of the car, bid farewell to Helgi, again, and climb in after him.
We leave, but as our car turns the corner at the end of the block I glance back toward the bar. Helgi is still standing out front, next to his fucking dragon of a bike, watching us drive away, arms folded and face furrowed.
Now that we’re safely in the car, Anstis has quieted down. He seems drained by whatever the hell happened, leaning against the door and staring at nothing in particular. I use the moment of quiet to call Bell and report in.
Bell seems surprised that I’m alive, but unfortunately not pleasantly so. I tell him that Helgi seems willing to do business, so long as we track down whomever stole “his” Semtex and sold it to Himmler on Alcatraz. Bell, ever the detective, asks what makes me think that Helgi wasn’t the one who sold it himself? I admit that I can’t be entirely sure, but Helgi doesn’t seem the type.
“Well, as I understand it, you do have a history of goose chases and elder vampires,” Bell says.
“Uh, yes, but they lead me to the elder vampires, generally, not away from them. Sir.”
I can practically hear Bell roll his eyes. He says fine, whatever, I can follow this goose if I want. Great, I say, because I already have a goose I want to check out.
Well, actually it’s more of a stool pigeon, but on the plus side it’s already been trussed and spitted:
Staking Slayer and shipping him off to the Prince was all before Bell got here, but everything else started to go down immediately after that, and as far as I know the Prince never got the chance to interrogate him. He probably got shoved somewhere in the basement and subsequently forgotten about. Bell says he’ll dig around a bit and in the meantime I should come to the Pyramid.
I ask if Bell wants me to bring him anything from Oakland, maybe some artisinal coffee or micro-batch urban apiary honey? He hangs up the phone without a response.
I update our driver on the destination. Anstis is still out of it so I sit quietly, ruminating over our conversations with Helgi. I chuckle again over the story of Marcus and the Toreadors.
My laughter, though, is short-lived, as I recall the on-going mystery of the Resurrection of Perpenna. Unsurprisingly, I need more information. Marcus has been rather stingy so far, but I am starting to wonder if that’s because he is somehow unable to share more than he already has.
I need unbiased information. Since I have the time at the moment, and there’s no reason not to, I pull out my phone, and for the very first time in-game, I start doing some historical research on the matter.
Georgia wakes up in the third Chantry bolt-hole, which she went to visit after the stop in Sunnydale. She remembers arriving at the place and entering….
And that is the only thing she remembers.
This hideout apparently occupies some amount of space within the Pyramid itself (fucking Tremere). Like the other locations, it consists of rooms and offices and probably some gratuitous lab-type setups somewhere. Currently every room is empty. And every room is spotless. Georgia wanders around, perplexed (and Kara is META perplexed, for reasons she cannot say). Georgia isn’t sure what’s going on but deep down she feels that something isn’t right.
“Van Brugge?” she calls. This time she gets no response, which perplexes her further. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a phone number for him (cause why would he need one, if he can just show up in peoples’ heads whenever he wants. Ass.). Fortunately, she finds a teleportation circle and uses it, hoping it will lead her to the Main Chantry.
It does. She arrives in a room she recognizes, a large studying hall, also noticeably empty of any other humanoids. This time, though, when she calls for van Brugge he answers. Georgia thinks she’s been out of contact for five minutes or so, but van Brugge says he’s been trying to reach her for two hours.
Now she is really confused. Van Brugge muses that it’s possible someone used a Dominate on her to erase her memory. There are other things that could also account for missing time, but Dominate is the most likely option.
(Jason: “Well, I don’t know about that.”
Ben: “I mean in general use.”
Jason: “The most likely option is she was there for two hours and is lying to you.
Ben: “…I can rummage through her head!”
Kara: “That’s comforting.”
Jason: “It should be. Welcome to the Tremere.”)
Confused and slightly shaken, Georgia leaves the study room and heads to
Max’s van Brugge’s office to talk to him face to face. He meets her at the door (a door which Max’s name has not only been removed from, but there is no sign it was ever there in the first place), points her to a seat, and proceeds to interrogate her on everything she does remember from her Tremere scavenger hunt across town, which is pretty much everything except for the missing two hours. She apparently entered the Pyramid bolt-hole via teleport circle, which he points out shouldn’t have been possible because they are heavily warded. He says she should have found, quote, “some sort of tentacular monstrosity there.”
“They are there to make sure no one unauthorized uses the teleportation circles,” he says, with a pointed glare over his glasses at her.
She shrugs. “I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a…tentacle monstrosity.”
He purses his lips. “Mm. This is not normal. Someone has obviously been tampering with our systems.”
“Well…nothing looked out of place. It all looked very tidy.”
He paces the room, staring at nothing in particular as he ruminates over this. (If he notices the sword missing from Max’s tacky shield-thing over the fireplace he doesn’t comment on it.) “Have you ever been to a laboratory? They’re not supposed to be tidy. Even in the office space there should be, you know, papers and documents everywhere. But it was ‘tidy,’ you say?”
Georgia doesn’t answer. Van Brugge walks back to the desk and sits down in
Max’s his chair. He frowns at her over tented fingers a few moments then changes the subject, bringing up the explosion in the park. This is the first Georgia has heard of it, although the fact that she didn’t hear it when the explosion happened is interesting in and of itself.
Van Brugge shakes his head in frustration. He tells her to go back to the Pyramid, since her presence has been requested by Bell, and while she’s there she should take another look at the bolt hole for clues as to why she lost two hours in there and missed an explosion that rocked the city. He would check it out himself but he has other things to attend to here and something seems to be blocking his distance-scrying of the place. He gives her formal permission to use the teleportation circles, which means that she can move through the local network with impunity without worrying about any tentacular monstrosities.
(Kara: “Yaaaay, I got a promotion!”
Jason: “Yes you did, in the standard way that people in Vampire get promotions: your superior died.”)
Cheery as usual, though slightly bemused, Georgia leaves the office and takes the teleportation circle back to the Pyramid.
Everything looks pretty much the same as before—empty and clean—but now that she’s re-entered the space she notices a subtle smell, one she had probably been acclimated to the last time she was there. It’s a strange sickly-sweet chemical smell, like an industrial cleaner of some sort. She also observes that the carpet is vacuum-smooth and the only footprints in it are her own. She finds a ancient-looking rolltop desk in an upstairs office, but it is completely empty. No papers, no computer, no dust, nothing. It’s as if it was a decorative piece rather than a piece of functional furniture, but somehow she doubts that.
In her scouring of the place, the only thing she finds out of place is a rock, a ragged pebble about the size of a quarter. It’s wedged partway underneath one of the legs of the desk, as if the desk had been put down on top of it. Nothing about it seems particularly notable but she pockets it anyway.
She “calls” van Brugge—who is able to hear her this time—and reports in, though there isn’t much to report. He tells her to leave and seal the place behind her. She does, and heads off through the Pyramid to meet Bell.
We backtrack to the time just after the explosion went off in the park. Paul is in a car, having the driver follow where he saw Sophia dash; which is, naturally, toward the explosion. They follow the smoke and flames, but it doesn’t take Paul long to realize where they’re coming from.
Strawberry Hill, on the island in the middle of Stow Lake.
The car pulls up to the drive circling the lake. Paul rolls down the window and is confronted by a scene of chaos. The island is like a miniature volcano, rising two stories above the lake and belching smoke. The trees of the island—towering Monterrey cyprus as old as the park itself—are aflame. As Paul watches, a branch from a tree high on the hillside snaps off and crashes into the lake in a cascade of sparks.
There is no sign of Sophia. Or, for that matter, anyone else.
Paul calls 911. They tell him that the explosion has already been reported, emergency crews are on their way, and Paul should leave the park immediately for his own safety. When Paul hangs up, though, the only sound is the crackling of the fire. No sirens anywhere.
Moments later, though, the park is racked by a new sound: gunfire, coming from the crest of the hill.
Paul’s car circles the lake drive slowly. As they approach one of the stone bridges that lead to the island they finally see signs of people. Multiple unmarked vans are parked haphazardly in the road, clustered around the path leading to the bridge. No one seems to be around.
Paul’s car stops a few yards down the road and Paul gets out. Immediately, one of the van doors slides open and two men climb out, dressed in black tactical gear with balaclavas covering most of their faces.
(Chris: “Are they wearing turtlenecks?”
Jason: “Why are you asking me that?”
Me: “Because Archer invented the tactical turtleneck.”
Chris: “Well, he wasn’t the first to wear the turtleneck, but he was the first to discover the tactical uses of the turtleneck.”)
The men are armed, which Paul can tell by the very obvious way they are trying not to look like they are armed. They keep their hands loose and low as they swagger up to him.
Paul acts nonchalant, gaping around like a rubbernecker. “Heeey! You guys see what happened up there?”
The men approach him and stop. They stare at him, not saying anything.
Paul glances between them. “You…guys on a date? Romantic walk, maybe? With your matching outfits?”
One of the men glances to the other and gestures. The second man walks back and disappears behind the van. The first man continues to stare at Paul silently. Another burst of gunfire, followed by a scream, erupts from the top of the hill. Paul jumps, but the man doesn’t react at all.
Paul hears a new car coming up the road behind him. He turns to see an SFPD squad car pulling up next to his, no sirens or lights. The car parks and two cops get out.
“Sir,” they call out, obviously addressing Paul. “We’re gonna have to ask you to leave, there’s a situation ongoing.”
“Yeah no kidding!” Paul gestures at tactical man. “Look at these guys! They’re being all suspicious!”
The cops glance at each other. “We understand that, sir, but let us handle that. Please get back in your car and leave the park as quickly as possible. We’re going to be cordoning this area off.”
Paul looks at the vans and back to the cops. “…Okay,” he says, and walks briskly back to his car without another word.
“Sir?” the driver turns around as Paul climbs in the back.
“Pull back, around the far side of the lake,” Paul says. “Where they can’t see us.”
Neither the men nor the cops follow as Paul’s car drives off. Once the car clears line of sight, Paul gets out and walks a little back along the road to watch what the men and the cops are doing. One of the cops is talking to one of the tactical men, while the other is speaking into his radio.
Another scream drifts down the hill. All the men glance up, but otherwise don’t react.
Paul gets back in the car and tells the driver to pull around to the bridge on the south side of the island. As they approach, he’s stopped by another cop car blocking the road. Two more cops are standing in front of it, manning some flares in the road and brandishing shotguns. They gesture for Paul’s car to take the turn off leaving the lake and heading back to MLK Drive. Paul tells the driver to do as they say, though he stares suspiciously as the men as they pass.
“Sir? Is everything alright?” the driver asks.”
“I have no idea,” Paul says, still staring out the back window. “Did those officers seem…legitimate to you?”
The driver glances nervously in the rear-view mirror. “I don’t question the police, sir.”
“That’s probably for the best,” Paul says absently. “Pull down the road slowly, I have to think for a second.”
Paul grabs his phone and tries texting Sophia: “Everything OK? Do you need help?” No response.
Paul looks out the window again. “You go wait at the Academy of Science, I’m going to get out here and go exploring.”
The driver looks at him strangely but pulls over. “Are you sure that’s a good idea, sir?”
“Not remotely,” Paul says brightly as he opens the door. The car drives off and Paul sneaks back to the lake, keeping low in the shadows of the shrubs.
Paul approaches the south bridge, more sounds of gunfire echoing across the lake. Two more of the vans are parked here, and five people are standing at the base of bridge on the drive-side, dressed in more tactical turtlenecks and brandishing assault rifles. They’re all in cover positions, watching a man with a radio, who is staring up the hill and signaling for them all to hold.
Paul approaches as close as he can, then leaps out of the bushes, blasting Awe: “Alright guys let’s MOVE!” he yells, gesturing up the hill.
The men start and glance at him. There’s a brief moment of silence, then their leader leaps to his feet. “You heard the man! Let’s GO! Gogogogo!” The men obey, bolting across the bridge and crashing into the smoky undergrowth at the base of the island.
Paul stands at the base of the bridge, peering after them into the gloom. Silence descends. Five seconds pass, then six, seven. Paul frowns.
“Oh GOD!!!!!!” a voice screams through the darkness, followed immediately by rapid gunfire. More shouts and shouts ring out, coming from multiple points on the hillside. A few flashes burst out but illuminate nothing. The cacophony swells, then is drowned out by a guttural, explosive roar like nothing Paul has ever heard. There are a few more shouts and shots, then silence descends again.
Paul scans the island for movement. Nothing. He’s not entirely sure what happened but he can guess, and…he feels kinda bad. Tactical turtlenecks or no, he’s not entirely sure whether they were good guys or bad guys.
Paul stares up at the burning hell-scape that Strawberry Hill has become, then leaves to walk to Cal Academy and meet up with his car.
Anstis and I arrive at the Pyramid. Anstis seems to have calmed the fuck down from whatever he was afflicted with but is still rather taciturn. He follows me into the elevator and up to the 33rd floor without protest. As we approach
the Prince’s Bell’s office, we run into Georgia. We exchange awkward greetings—
Me: “So…how was your evening?”
Georgia: “Oh, good, I got a promotion! How was yours?”
Me: “Uh…we met a Viking and I ate a bunch of pigeons.”
Georgia: “Pigeons? Why?”
Me: “Well the Viking offered. I didn’t want to be rude.”
—and enter the office.
Bell is on the phone as we enter, as usual. He’s not speaking, though, just listening. Anstis and I find a seat to wait, but Georgia is able to use Auspex to listen in on the call. Bell is apparently listening to police radio frequency. Georgia doesn’t know police codes—
(nor does anyone else IRL, though we spend a few minutes looking some up:
Jason: “10-32: Subject is drowning…. 10-45 D: Subject is dead…. 10-52: Subject was dead but has been resuscitated!”
Me: “That would come up here a lot.”)
—but the tone of the speakers is urgent. Bell listens for a few seconds then hangs up, turning the full attention of his glower onto us.
He asks what we found. I reiterate that Slayer is the best lead I have and I need to talk to him. He says that Slayer is still in custody but is no longer on-site. Sometime during the last (in-game) month, he got moved to an off-site storage facility in the Inner Richmond, which the Prince keeps for objects of, quote, “low-priority interest.” Bell gives me the info and the key to go check it out.
“The Prince apparently dropped him there then forgot about him,” Bell says as he hands me the key. “If he is still there, I have no idea what condition he will be in, but he’s probably still staked. If he’s lucky, he’s in a bath of formaldehyde. If he’s not, there’s a rat chewing on his balls.”
(Chris: “Ha, testicle rat.”
Me: “Testicle Rat, band-name, calling it!”)
Bell turns to Georgia. “What have you got for me?”
She shifts nervously. “Well no good band names, that’s for sure….”
His eyes narrow. “Anything I should know about?”
“Well, van Brugge said you were asking for me—“
“It was so I could ask you if there’s anything I should know about, preferably without him being involved in the conversation.”
“Ah.” Georgia glances around. “You do know he’s probably listening in right now?”
“I am aware of that,” he grumbles, “but I don’t need him physically in the room in the moment. I have to work with the Tremere but I don’t have to like them.”
Georgia shrugs and gives Bell the edited progress report, which…honestly isn’t that much different from the real progress report. There’s no sign of Max, no sign of Perpenna, van Brugge has her checking the Tremere bolt-holes in the city but they’ve all been clean and empty. The only one with any sign of anything was the first bolt hole, at City College, where Clarence apparently ate everyone, and honestly the biggest mystery there is how he—a non-Tremere—got in in the first place.
Bell points out that another Tremere—say, perhaps, Max—could have let him in. Georgia says that’s unlikely unless he was under heavy duress. Bell scowls and says, quote, “Max has not exactly been filling me with confidence as to his allegiances around here lately,” as he’s already suspected of working with the Sabbat, which flies in the face of the Camarilla AND the Tremere. Georgia concedes that it is possible he’s gone completely rogue here.
Bell sighs. “Do any of you have any information about what just happened in the park?”
Anstis and I glance at each other. “What happened in the park?” I ask.
“There’s been some form of explosion, I’m having difficulty getting any answers out of the Prince’s ghouls.”
I shrug. “Yeah, well, everything in this city explodes, so….“
Bell glares at me. “Well right now it seems to have picked this moment to do so. My understanding of this city is that the park is off limits to most of us.”
“It’s supposedly full of werewolves,” Georgia chimes in.
“Well right now it’s full of fire.”
“Oh, well then it’s definitely off-limits to us, then,” Georgia and I say at the same time.
Bell rolls his eyes. “Yes, I suppose so.”
Bell sighs and sits at the desk. “Look. I’ve been trying to put a network together to try and figure out what is going on in this city, cause no one seems to have thought to do that prior to this moment. A major portion of the largest park in the city just exploded and not only did I not know it was going to happen, it appears no one knew it was going to happen. And supposedly this is a city run by the Camarilla!”
Anstis and I laugh openly and Georgia looks thoughtful. “I’m not sure any of us believe that anymore,” Georgia says.
Bell gives us his best Exasperated Police Chief in a Buddy Cop Movie face. “I don’t believe it anymore, which is why it’s time we changed that state of affairs.”
Everyone in the room, both in the game and out of the game, looks confused. (“So…call in the Anarchs?” I-as-me mutter.)
“What?” Bell snaps.
“What?” I-as-Tom respond, innocent look on my face.
“Do you mean…it’s going to be run by not the Camarilla?” Chris/Paul ventures.
“Are we going to kill all the Camarilla?” Kara/Georgia says.
“We going rogue?” Anstis asks.
“What? No! It’s going to be run by the Camarilla!” Bell says, frustration growing.
(“Who else interpreted it as meaning San Francisco is breaking away from the Camarilla?” Chris asks. All hands but Jason’s shoot up. “Ok, and who interpreted it to mean that the Camarilla is going to be managed properly in the city?” Chris continues.
No hands, not even Jason’s, go up.
Jason glares at us. “I will raise my hand now and I will make my meaning entirely clear,” he says, and dramatically flips us off.
Cameron, meanwhile, IMs to say that Helgi would be willing to take the city from the Camarilla. I say that neither I nor Tom would have any problem with that.)
Bell drums his fingers on the table, glaring at me now. “Do what degree of reliability do I have that Helgi is not going to come over here and kick all of our asses?”
“It is unlikely that he would do that,” Anstis says.
I shrug, but look Bell right in the eye as I answer. “He seems to be an honorable man.”
Bell stares back silently for a few moments, then nods. “Alright. Well I’ll take ‘unlikely’ at this moment.”
Bell tells me to go find Slayer and interrogate him. He also says he has some leads taking him “south” that he intends to follow so he will probably be out of the city for a few days. My disappointment apparently is clear on my face, cause rolls his eyes again and reminds us that we have his phone number and can contact him that way if any new information comes up.
Which reminds me of some new information that has come up. I tell him what Helgi told us about Perpenna, that supposedly he’s been killed before.
“Well, whoever did that did a shitty job,” Bell says.
“Marcus apparently did it,” Anstis adds.
Bell glances at him then glances back to me. “I stand by my statement,” he says bitterly. “Marcus has tried to kill me twice, didn’t do a great job of that either.”
As glad as I am that he didn’t, I can’t help but bristle. “He killed my last team pretty well,” I say, eyes narrowed (wait, why the fuck am I bragging about that?!).
“Oh? And what was your last team?”
“A….” I start to droop as I answer. “…a teenage Malkavian and a Nosferatu….”
Bell snorts. “‘Idiots’ would have been an acceptable answer.”
(Chris: “Much like your current team….”
Me: *moping* “Whaaaat, it’s Team Marcus, is fun team to be on.”
Chris: “All those in favor of it not being Team Marcus anymore?”
*All hands but mine go up. I scrunch down in the couch and pout.*)
Speaking of Marcus, Bell is not happy with, quote, the quantity of powerful non-Camarilla vampires roaming about the city. He needs a guarantee as to the continuation of Marcus’s good behavior.
“What would qualify for that?” I ask hesitantly.
“A number of things would qualify for that. Some means of ensuring that in the next five seconds I’m not going to have the door kicked open by a diminutive Methusula.”
“Uh….” I rack my brain. Bell certainly doesn’t have anything that Marcus would want, but I try and be as helpful as I can. “Well step 1 is not fucking with his people. Step 2 is probably not shooting him in the face….”
Bell gives me another Look. “Lets presume for the moment that I’ve taken those steps.”
“Right.” Meaning that he’s already tried both those things and he’s learned not to do them again. “Step 3 is probably…not fucking with his bird?”
(Kara: “What’s Step 4?”
The leather of Bell’s chair creaks as he leans forward. “I understand that you are a Brujah. I’m a Brujah myself. But if you could cut the shit right now that would be of real big assistance.”
I rub my face, still with the only hand I have left. “Well, frankly sir, everything in this city is already going to shit so I don’t know how to cut it any further.”
“And I would like to ensure that as few things continue to do so as possible. What is he currently engaged in doing?”
I throw out my arms. “Looking for Perpenna!”
“How is he going about it, and with what intention in mind?”
“I don’t know, creepy Sabbat shit? And probably with the intent to finish whatever he started a thousand years ago!”
“You’re sure of that, are you? I mean it, you sure?”
Seems like lately more and more shit has been coming up questioning my loyalties and the wisdom of having aligned with Marcus. For the moment I’m sick of it, and I don’t even care whether or not the shit is right. I fold my arms and don’t answer.
Bell levels a finger at me. “The next time you encounter this…Methusula, tell him that I want to arrange a meeting. A meeting, preferably, with fewer swords and guns.”
Jesus. What could possibly go wrong with that idea? “When would you want such a meeting to occur?” I mumble, arms still folded.
“Whenever it is possible. I do not know the scheduling habits of a 2,000-year-old Lasombra. He might want the Aides of March for all I know.” (I burst out laughing. “Oh my god, he probably will!”) “Just…find a way to arrange it.”
I sigh. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Bell excuses me to go find Slayer, telling Anstis and Georgia to go with me. We all protest but he says that he’s had enough of everyone running around in seven directions at once.
(Me: “Is that Bell talking or Jason?”
The three of us exit the Pyramid just as Paul shows up outside. We go through another awkward greeting. He still needs to talk to Bell so he goes upstairs while we start trying to call a car to go to the storage facility.
Strangely, though, even though it’s not a busy time of night, we have the damnedest time trying to get one to accept our ride….
Paul meets with Bell. At first it doesn’t seem like Paul will have much of interest to share that Bell hasn’t already heard, so it looks like the meeting will be short.
But then Paul mentions he just came from the park, and Bell becomes a lot more interested in what he has to say. Paul describes the explosion and finding the police presence and the Tactical Turtlenecks. He also mentions the “horrible growling death” that seemed to befall the group he
doomed was watching.
“Where was this, exactly?” Bell asks.
“Stow Lake. Or, rather, the island in the middle of it.”
Bell frowns. “Isn’t that supposed to be the middle of the werewolves’ territory?”
“Shit, is it? Well, that’s good to know.”
Bell rolls his eyes. “Aren’t you supposed to be the local werewolf expert?”
“No, that’d be Tom.”
Bell mulls over these points, specifically the fact that the men were well-armed, well-organized, and human, and not to mention the fact that the cops seemed to be in on it all somehow. He says he has, quote, a very, very bad suspicion about who they might have been.
Bell pulls up something on his laptop and pivots it around to show Paul. A picture fills the screen, showing two more Tactical Turtlenecks in the same gear Paul saw, holding guns and standing at attention.
“Yeah, that looks like them,” Paul says.
Bell rubs his temple. “Wonderful,” he mumbles. “These are security personelle, from a private security company located down south. These are their ‘tactical’ men (yeah, we gathered that from the turtlenecks). The company is a front, it works for the Prince. Of San Francisco.”
Paul stares at the picture. “Is there any reason the Prince would be assaulting the werewolves in the park?”
“Well, there shouldn’t be. The Prince hasn’t attacked the werewolves since he got to the city.”
“Where is the Prince?” Georgia asks.
“That is a very good question, the Prince is—(—wait, you’re not there! Stop it!)”
(Chris: “Do you want to be there?”
Kara: “Kinda, yeah.”
Chris: “Well maybe you followed me up!”
Jason: “…And only now have been identified? Are you a ninja?”
Chris: “You used to be a Nosferatu. Maybe you used Obfuscate!”
Kara: “Okay, I drop Obfuscate!”
Jason: “Alright, you put down the palm frond.”
Jim: “You step out from behind the box!”
Jason: “Fortunately vampires lack object permanence.”
Chris: “That explains a lot, actually.”)
Bell taps the screen emphatically, refocusing (everyone’s) attention. “These are men who work for the Prince. So what in the world are they doing attacking Stow Lake?”
Paul shrugs. “Is the Prince around to answer that?”
“No. He is not around to answer that question. I haven’t laid eyes on him since…the incident at the Chantry. He’s not answering his phone, he hasn’t shown up at any of the hideouts I know about. He could be in Las Vegas by now, for all I know.”
Paul suggests Summoning him. Bell says that considering the fact that we don’t know what state the Prince is in or who he might be with, that would be a very bad idea.
They discuss the Monomancy and Paul mentions catching the fleshbeast thingy lurking around his campus. Bell doesn’t like that, but also doesn’t like that there are humans around Tesseract—Paul’s people and Klaus’s security people—who are discovering this shit as well. He points out that we’re dancing on the edge of a major Masquerade violation and says he’ll send someone down to watch Paul’s people and make sure that edge doesn’t creep any closer.
Bell tells Paul to go with us to find Slayer, as he(/Jason) wants everyone to be in eyesight of someone else from this point on(/so that the party sticks together for once). He dismisses Paul with a wave and returns to glowering at his computer. Paul leaves the office and comes downstairs to find us.
Paul steps out of the front doors of the Pyramid, where we’re still standing, futilely ping-ing cars. Seconds after he joins us, a car accepts our ride and pulls up in front of the building.
(Jason: “You all get in the car?”
Jason: “You know what just happened?”
Me: “…Does the car blow up?”
Jason: “No! I united the party!!!”
Jim: “…I step out of the car.”
Jason: “….It explodes.”)
I grab shotgun as everyone else squeezes in the back. I nod at the driver and fiddle with my seatbelt. He turns around and smiles at everyone in the back. “Where to?” he asks in a calm voice.
Georgia tenses mid-buckle. “…Don’t you already know?”
I look between her and the driver. “You know this guy?”
Georgia sighs. “Tom this is Adam. Adam, Tom. Though something tells me you already know Tom.”
I peer at Adam. He’s thin, short for a man, with dark hair and Mediterranean-ish skin (note that this is different from my previous description of him cause I was wrong). He smiles at me from behind his sunglasses.
“Tom,” he says. “Very good to meet you.”
I tense and glance around. “Um…good to meet you? Any friend of Georgia’s is…somebody I should probably keep an eye out for….”
“I don’t know if we’re exactly friends,” Georgia says. “He just takes me where I apparently need to go.”
I glance at her in the mirror. “That’s usually how drivers work, sweetheart.”
“So. Going somewhere, are we?” Adam asks.
Paul answers first. “Masonic and Geary,” he snaps, obviously impatient. Adam nods and pulls into the street.
An uncomfortable silence settles over the car as Adam drives. Paul decides to break it. “So, Adam,” he says, “You seem very measured.”
“Oh, well you see a lot of things around this city. Helps to maintain your cool.”
“You ever seen a vampire?” Paul asks. Georgia and Anstis (and all us in the room) glance at him.
Adam looks at him through the mirror. “I’ve seen people who thought they were vampires.” He looks back at the road. “Seen a lot of strange things.”
“You ever seen a vampire who thought he was a person?”
“Possibly. How would I even know? Doesn’t a vampire just look like a person? After all, lots of places have vampires.”
Paul frowns. (It may be metagaming, but Chris is determined to get some actual information out of Adam, for once). “What about a werewolf? You ever seen a werewolf?”
“Seen a lot of people who thought they were. Seen one guy walking around in a wolf skin.”
“Hmm, that’s kinda weird, even for San Francisco.”
Adam chuckles. “Oh, nothing’s too weird in this city. It’s why I’m here in fact. I like the variety.”
Anstis leans forward. “What’s the weirdest thing you ever seen?”
“Oh, that would be telling. Looooot of things.” He turns onto Geary and heads toward the Broadway tunnel. “You folks from around here? Or just passing through?”
Anstis shrugs. “Passing through.”
“Yeah, you look it,” Adam replies.
I’ve been staring out the window, only half listening to the conversation, but I chime in on this point. “This is where I’ve chosen to be,” I mutter to the glass.
“Why’d you make that choice?”
I shrug, still not turning around. “It’s the best place I could find that…lets me be myself.”
“And if this place decides it’s gonna change its ways? Will you move on? Or set down a stake and defend it?”
I chill slides down my back. I turn to look at him. His face is still calm, but I can feel his eyes bore into me from behind the sunglasses. I stare back and don’t answer.
“Adam I’ve been working on a joke,” Paul suddenly announces from the back. “I wonder if you could help me with the punchline.”
Adam watches me another moment then turns back to the road. “Let’s hear it.”
“‘A pirate, a biker, and a wizard walk into a bar’….?”
Adam grins into the mirror. “They rub their head and say ‘Ow.’”
“…That’s what I had too,” Paul grumbles.
The rest of the ride passes in silence. Adam pulls up in front of the storage facility, a multistory building in the heart of the Richmond. It’s very late and no one is around, even in the office, but we have the keys to get in anyway.
We all climb out. Adam tips his head. “Be seeing you,” he says, and drives off. I stare at the car a moment, definitely unnerved, but I shake it off. I have other things to focus on at the moment.
“So…what is this? We’re finding some kind of vampire slayer?” Paul asks as I enter the code for the front door.
“Urg. Not exactly….You’ll see.” The door opens and I lead everyone up to the unit, on the sixth floor. I unlock the padlock and Anstis and I crouch down to lift up the roll-top door.
As the door starts to move, Anstis suddenly tenses. “Halt!” he says. He says he can feel something attached to the door. I duck down and peer through the space we created. Sure enough, there is a string attached to the base of the door. Attached to the string is a shotgun, braced in a vise on a chair and facing toward the door.
“Well, at least it’s not an exploding trap,” I mutter against the concrete.
I slide my Tremere sword under the door and cut the string. We don’t see any other obvious traps so we lift the door and step inside.
The room is filled with boxes, crates, and a couple large wardrobe-things. The wardrobes are all human-sized so I start checking them first. Everyone else fans out to root around as well.
The first wardrobes I check are all empty, but it’s obvious they’re not regular wardrobes. Each one is strung with bolts and chains. One of them even has a rack of heavy stakes installed inside the front door. Anstis and I each pocket a handful of them and move on.
Georgia is moving through cardboard boxes when she hits one thats significantly heavier than the others. She opens it and finds a wooden crate inside. “Oo, I found a heavy box!” she says. Anstis wanders over and helps her lift the crate out. Georgia moves on, but Anstis pries the crate open.
Gold. Bars of it. Neatly stacked and filling the crate, a full cubic foot-worth.
Anstis hurriedly slams the lid closed and looks around. Everyone is otherwise distracted. He quietly starts dragging the crate toward the doorway.
Paul quickly loses interest in the
looting searching. He checks his phone, hoping for a message from Sophia. No luck. He puts the phone away, but seconds later it rings. Even though it’s an unknown number, he answers it.
It’s not Sophia, it’s Marcus. He also wants to know what the hell went on in the park. Paul gives him the summary and disavows any direct involvement with it. Marcus suggests that he continue that streak of not being involved in things that are exploding. He also says that he needs to speak with Paul about issues related to the Monomancy.
Marcus: “Are you going to be visiting your company—I’m sorry, my company, anytime soon?”
Paul: *Bristles* “Yes.”
Marcus: “Good. Meet me in the area there at your earliest convenience. We need to discuss a few things, there’s something you may find of assistance.”
Marcus: “Alright. Oh, and…try not to explode on your way down.”
He hangs up. Paul grumbles and shoves the phone back in his pocket.
Meanwhile I’ve uncovered the last wardrobe. I pry it open, and lo! Slayer is inside. He’s still staked, and wearing the ridiculous schoolgirl outfit I stuffed him into a month ago, but those are the only distinguishing features. The rest of him is extremely desiccated, mouth lolling open in a silent scream. As I suspected, he is chained to the interior of the wardrobe.
“Jesus,” Paul says, coming up behind me. “Who is that?!”
I grin to myself. A plan has been forming in my mind on how to deal with this situation and now it’s finally coming to a head. I draw my Tremere sword and point it at Slayer’s chest. “This guy,” I announce, half-turning to Paul, “Is an asshole. One of the asshole-Anarchs Prince Adrianna told us about. This is the guy who sent us to go meet Marcus last fall.”
“Oh.” Paul’s face darkens. “Well that worked out splendidly.”
I examine the wardrobe. The chains seem pretty secure, lashing his torso to the back of the frame, but I know he’s a Gangrel and, desiccated or not, I’m afraid of him pulling something unexpected. Also, since this is to be an interrogation, I know I need to start off with the upper hand.
And the best way to do that? Shock and awe.
I level the sword and neatly slice off both of his arms and both of his legs.
(Jason: “………..I’m so proud right now.”)
I gather the limbs and lay them out on the floor in front of me, where he can see them.
Paul stands back, aghast. “What the fuck Tom?! What the hell?! I—I’m out!” Paul claps his hands once and storms from the room. Georgia looks puzzled and rushes after him. I ignore them.
Anstis wanders up behind me, but he is nodding in approval. “Standard precautions, aye,” he says.
I smirk and step forward to wrench the stake out.
Slayer’s eyes fly open. His silent scream comes alive as well, ripping out of his shriveled throat in a ceaseless torrent that echoes around the room. I fold my arms and wait.
Seconds pass. The scream doesn’t end, or even show signs of slowing. His eyes dart sightlessly around the room. He also remains emaciated.
I sigh. This will not do. I stake him again, shutting him up instantly. I step back and consider my options, idly twirling one of the stakes I grabbed from the other wardrobes.
“Tom,” Anstis says suddenly, “What safe storage be there in the city?”
“What?” I blink at him. “Uh, you’re standing in it.”
“If you were going to store…say…a box full of gold, where would you put it?”
“I don’t know, under the ‘X’ on the map?” I say distractedly, turning back to Slayer.
I’m running low on blood but it’s obvious Slayer needs some to help him regain his wits. I give him a point of mine and unstake him again. He screams, but it seems less ravening this time and trails off after a few seconds. His eyes blink and, after a few moments, focus on me.
I grin. “Heeeeeey, Slayer.”
He stares a moment then starts yelling again. “Oh God!! Oh SHIT!!! Oh God, FUCK—“
I roll my eyes exaggeratedly. “I don’t think the outfit looks that bad, you should relax a bit.”
“What, whaa—“ He peers down at his body and notices his limbs laid out in front of him. “What the FUCK, man!?!”
I lean forward, still smiling. “We need to talk, son.”
He blubbers for a few moments, staring between me and Anstis. “Wha, wha, what do you want to know!?!?”
I lean over slowly and pick up one of his arms. I hold it in my hand, idly slapping it against my thigh like a riding crop. Slayer stares at it, eyes wide. “So the last time we talked, Slayer, we were talking about some Semtex.”
“Semtex!? What, what do you want to know!?”
“Everything,” Anstis says with his deepest pirate drawl.
Slayer gapes at him. “Who are you?”
Anstis grins. “Your worst nightmare,” he growls.
I nod sagely. “Yeah, he really is.”
Slayer gapes between us again. “Wha…what do you want?”
I don’t even bother keeping the smirk off my face. “So…you heard of this guy, goes by the name of Helgi? Out in Oakland?”
Slayer’s eyes go wide. “Yeah…I’ve heard of him….”
I sigh theatrically. “Yeaaaah, so he had a bunch of Semtex that went missing and would like to know where it went—“
“I didn’t take it! I didn’t!!” Slayer shakes his head so hard his torso rattles in the chains.
I step closer to the wardrobe, pointing Slayer’s own arm at him. “I don’t think you got the stones to steal from Helgi, son, but I know you got some connections that might lead us to the ones who did!”
Slayer gapes and blubbers again, uselessly licking his lips. “Look, man, I’m sorry about what happened with Marin, alright? It was—”
I chuckle and throw my arms—along with Slayer’s—wide. “Hey man, I got a cool new job, so I really can’t complain!”
Slayer, though, is still babbling. “I didn’t—I didn’t know what was going to be up there!”
I frown. “Didn’t you? Didn’t you??” I say, dripping with sarcasm.
“Not really! I never met the guy!!”
“Really? You do know the whole reason this whole thing—“ I gesture with the arm, indicating the schoolgirl outfit that his torso is stuffed into—“happened is because he heard you were running around town bragging about what you did, and he sent me to fix it.”
“You…You told him about me?”
“I didn’t have to! You did yourself, running your mouth all over town, bragging you got rid of some neonates by sending them off and having some Methusula do your dirty work for you!”
Slayers eyes go so wide they look like they’re about to pop out of his shriveled skull. “Oh…shit….oh shit….” he mutters. It’s a good thing he’s already dead cause at this point he’d probably be pissing himself.
I grin again, drinking in the—well, maybe not justice, per se, but righteous revenge at least. “Yeaaaah….” I drawl with a smile.
Slayer starts to panic again, struggling against the chains. “You—you can’t let him have me, man! He’ll turn me into a fucking armchair!”
Anstis smirks and picks up the other arm off the floor. He places it onto the seat of a chair that just conveniently happens to be nearby. I watch Anstis calmly, then point at the chair with the arm I’m holding. “You mean this?” I ask Slayer, my face a picture of politeness. “Is this what you mean? Cause we can do that.”
Slayer’s eyes bug again and he whimpers. “Ok, ok, I’ll tell you what I know man!” He takes an exaggerated breath and appears to calm down a bit. ‘There’s a guy in Pacifica. He’d been asking around for a lot of firepower. He wanted to know if I could put him in touch with some people, you know? Make a deal? So I…I told him yeah, I heard there were some guys who had some explosives who might be able to help. But that’s all I did man! Really! I didn’t steal shit!”
I snort. “I know you didn’t, son—“
“Well you gotta tell Helgi that!!!”
“Oh I will! Maybe!” I grin and shrug.
“You gotta tell him, man, he’s a fucking crazy-psycho!!!”
“I know! He’s friends with Marcus! Didn’t you hear that? They go waaaaaaaaaay back.”
“What?!? He….” Slayer’s jaw goes so slack for a moment I think it’s going to fall off. Then, in a surprising defiance of my earlier observation, he does piss himself, but since he’s a vampire, it’s blood.
I take a step back, scowling at him. “We don’t have a lot of that to spare at the moment so you may want to be careful with it.”
Slayer’s head drops to his chest. His voice drops to a whisper, repeatedly muttering, “Oh fuck….”
I snap my fingers to get his attention. “This guy in Pacifica, what’s his name?”
Slayer doesn’t look up, but he shakes his head. “I don’t know….”
“Description? Clan? Is he a vampire?”
“Yeah…I think he’s a vampire—“
I hesitate a moment. “You think??” I bark. I walk forward another step, leaning my head in a few inches from Slayer’s. “I’m not here for ‘I think,’ son!!” I bellow.
Thank you, Theo Bell, for your object lessons in being an intimidating asshole.
Slayer’s head cracks against the wood as he tries to lean away from me. “He’s…probably a vampire, man! One of those creepy dark ones!”
Pieces of ideas that have been lurking in the back of my mind start to move. I have had a suspicion building since I first heard someone broke into Helgi’s container using some sort of teleportation methods, but I need more information before they’ll slot into place. “You’re gonna have to be more specific. Dark in what way?”
“You know, the ones they wave their hands and the lights go out and shit!”
“That’s half the vampires I know!”
Slayer shakes his head and sighs. “Look, all I know is he wanted explosives because his boss had something planned. Something big. I don’t know much about it. His boss is some big-time fucking asshole that lives out on a boat in international waters.”
The pieces in my mind spin faster. Some are starting to link up.
“What’s his name?” Anstis asks from behind me.
“What, the boss? I don’t know, something with an ‘A’….”
“…Does it sound like ‘Accio’?” I mutter.
Slayer blinks. “Yeah…yeah actually, something like that.”
I grin as all the pieces snap into place. Accio “The Collector.” From Marcus’s boat job.
I elbow Anstis. “Accio,” I say, nodding knowingly.
“Who’s that?” Anstis asks.
“Didn’t I tell you about him?” I turn back to Slayer, smirking again. “Marcus knows him. He lives on a boat.”
Anstis’s face turns calculating. “What sort of boat?”
“A big one,” I say, still grinning.
Anstis returns the grin and nods. “Well perhaps we’ll be paying him a visit.” He turns to Slayer. “How many guns does this boat have?”
“I don’t know,” Slayer barks, “I didn’t fucking go there!”
“Well, where did you meet his guy?” I ask.
“A bowling alley in Pacifica. Ocean Bowl. He said he needed to lay hands on a lot of explosives and he’d pay. He pay big.”
“And you told him that Helgi had the explosives?”
“I said I knew a few players, man! I…may have told him I was in with Helgi….” his voice drops to a mumble.
“How much did he offer you?” Anstis asks.
“He offered to pay in cash, man. Untraceable. Bricks of it.”
“Amount,” Anstis prompts again, glaring.
“We didn’t talk specifics, but the amount of fireworks he was looking for? It’da come to seven figures.”
Anstis shakes his head and turns to me. “The amount of people who make deals in this city without agreeing on a specific number concerns me highly.”
Slayer stares back and forth between us. “Look, man, whatever I have, you can have it, just don’t tell anyone!”
“Yeah, see, here’s the thing….” I fold my arms, idly tapping Slayer’s arm against my shoulder. “Helgi reaaaaally wants to know who took his Semtex—“
“I didn’t touch his fucking Semtex!!!”
“Yeaaaaaah, but you were involved in the whole thing, so he’d be interested to meet you, I’m sure—“
Slayer squeals and struggles again. “No, you can’t man! I’ve heard fucking stories about that guy! He fucking stretches your ass out like a goddamn throw rug!”
I laugh. “That’s my normal weekends, son!”
“Look, dude,” Slayer’s practically crying at this point, “I can pay you! I got money, cash! Liquid! You can just have it!”
I look around exaggeratedly. “I don’t see it here!”
Slayer blabbers about bank accounts. Anstis is interested, but honestly I just shrug it off. Everyone’s been offering us money lately and so far I have yet to see any of it.
“Look man,” Slayer finally says, body going slack. “I’m real sorry about Marin! It was stupid, alright? I got stupid!”
I sigh and shake my head. “Yeaaaah, you were already there, son.”
“Look, it wasn’t my idea!!”
I lift an eyebrow. Anstis and I share a look. “Oh? And whose was it?”
“It was the guy! The guy from the bowling alley! He was the one who mentioned to me that there was this Methusula up there, and, you know, maybe I could distract him with somebody, send him a sacrificial lamb or something….Not that you’re a lamb!!!”
I’m distracted with his new information so I barely even register his last comment. This would explain how Slayer, this two-bit asshole, knew where Marcus was. One mystery solved, finally.
But, as per usual, one solved issue has simply been replaced by another: What the fuck to do with Slayer? It is pretty clear it’s just some patsy, and for all my posturing, I would feel kind of bad turning him over to Helgi (though Odin knows Helgi would be happy to receive him). It might be entertaining, but it wouldn’t be justice, since the real big assholes are still out there.
“Dude….” Slayer gapes between us again. “I’m begging you. Whatever you want! I got contacts, money! I can get you drugs! Whatever!”
I shake out of my reverie and glare at him. “What the fuck use do I have for drugs?”
“You can sell them!! I don’t know, you’re some kind of crazy-ass fag!!!”
Slayer realizes his mistake the moment the word leaves his lips. His face drops and his skin goes noticeably paler. “I—I didn’t mean that—“
Too late. I step forward and crack him, backhanded, across the face, with his own hand. “You’re gonna wanna watch your mouth son,” I growl as he babbles apologies.
Anstis picks up the other arm from the chair and hands it out to me. “Looks like you’re gonna need an extra hand.”
“I do need an extra hand, actually,” I hold up my still-stumpy left wrist. “I’ve been having trouble driving my bike.” I turn back to Slayer. “That’s why I left it at Andre’s,” I say, staring him right in the eye.
Slayer stares back in shock. “…Andre? You’re with Andre?”
“No, I just left my bike with him. His guys are getting it detailed for me.”
His shock morphs into awe. “Jesus fucking Christ…. Are you like a Primogen or something?”
I snort. God forbid. “Not yet, but we are running short on them, so we’ll see. I’m trying to get in good with Bell, but we’ll see how that goes.”
Slayer frowns. “Bell? Who’s Bell?”
“Theophillius Bell,” Anstis answers. “Justicar.”
This just confuses Slayer more. I shrug. “There’s been a lot of shit happening while you’ve been out.”
“Dude…. I didn’t know you were in with all these people, man! You didn’t mention their fucking names! If you’da said you were in with fucking Justicars and Andre Roussimov—“
I lean forward again. “Well maybe next time you should take a little more interest in the people you meet,” I lecture. Slayer gulps and nods.
“Now….” I wave Slayer’s arm thoughtfully. “It seems to me that if I were to let you go now you would just go and throw more shit out for me to deal with—“
“No! No I won’t!! Man I’ll do whatever you want! I’ll leave the city! I’ll go to fucking China if you want! You won’t have to look at me again! I don’t want to stay around here with all this shit going on anyway!”
I watch him, thinking. “Mmhm. Or you could be useful….”
Slayer changes tack immediately. “…Yeah! That’s right, I could be useful man! I know this place. I got connections!”
It’s true. Tool that he is, he might be at least a slightly useful tool for me. On the other hand, though, if I took him on, that would basically mean that he would be my Client, and under the Code of Marcus I would have to take care of him, even though all signs point to the fact that he would be more trouble than he’s worth.
(Jason: “You see Marcus’s problem.”)
“Alright,” I say finally, tossing the arm back to the ground on top of the legs. “Well, I’m gonna have to think about this and get back to you.” With that, I grab a stake and stake him again. He immediately goes limp.
“That went well,” Anstis says.
I grin. “It did, didn’t it?”
We now backtrack to when Paul and Georgia left the room.
“What the fuck was that!?” Paul rants as he storms down the hallway. “Tom is not the brightest bulb in the box, but he’s not a butcher. At least, I didn’t think he was.”
Georgia hurries after him. “That was…Tremere level,” she agrees calmly.
(Haa, thanks, fuck you too.)
Paul stops suddenly at the top of the stairs. Georgia almost crashes into him. He stares into space for a moment. “You still have that key? The one to the gargoyle sarcophagus?” He asks. Georgia nods. “Good. Maybe we should do some interrogation of our own.”
Paul starts descending the stairs. Georgia moves to follow, but stops as she notices something.
“Paul,” she says slowly, “Does it smell…gassy to you?”
Gasoline-gassy, that is, and now that she mentions it, yeah it kinda does. Paul shoots me a text to inform me of the highly-likely imminent possibility of the building exploding and starts descending faster. Georgia follows, glancing over the railing as she descends.
She sees a face briefly glance up the stairwell a few floors down, then disappear.
“Paul I think there’s someone down there!”
Paul nods. “Ok, back me up, I’ll see if I can get the jump on him.” He pops Celerity and dashes down the stairs.
The entire floor at the bottom of the stairwell is filled with liquid, which by the fumes is obviously gasoline. Paul crashes to a stop on the last flight of stairs before stepping into it. On the far side of the stairwell, a man is standing in the doorway leading back to the lobby of the facility, holding an empty plastic gas canister in one hand.
And a lighter in the other. Open and lit.
Paul vaults over the railing, throwing himself at the man. He grabs the lighter with his hand, burning himself pretty badly but it puts the fire out. With his other hand, he punches the man in the gut.
The man grunts and shoves Paul off, knocking him against the back wall of the stairwell. Paul stumbles and launches at him again. This time the man side-steps his attack and turns to bolt out the door to the lobby…
…But Georgia has just reached the last flight of stairs. She sees the gasoline all over the floor, but, surprisingly, is actually relieved that it’s there.
Cause gasoline is liquid, and liquids are her bitch.
She too launches over the railing, but lands in a crouch in the middle of the pool of gasoline (something which quite possibly no other vampire has done willingly). She touches a hand to it, immediately transmuting it to water. She then uses all her new water to cast Prison of Water. Chains of dirty, congealed water erupt from the pool and fly through the doorway, slamming into the man and wrapping around him like tentacles. He crashes to the floor.
“Son of a BITCH!” he yells, struggling. Georgia watches, pleased, but her victory is short-lived. The man is able to tear his way out of the chains and scrambles to his feet. He dashes across the lobby, Paul close behind, and crashes into the front door. The front door swings open and he stumbles out into the street.
More chains of water fly through the lobby and bowl him over. He falls to the sidewalk, screaming and writhing, but they are heavier and wrap tighter this time. Soon he has no freedom to move.
Paul falls on him, biting him to shut him up. He goes limp.
“Hey!” Georgia jogs across the lobby. “How can we interrogate him if you’re going to feed on him?” Paul looks up at her and shrugs, still buried in the man’s neck.
(Lol, they could probably learn something from my interrogation skills.)
END OF NIGHT.