S.H. Epilogue 1: Subordinates

Thank you everyone who has contributed a little to the Patreon page! Your support means a lot to me and helps give the extra kick in the ass I need to keep going. 😉

So there will be five Scout’s Honor Epilogues to give some more details from her point of view, some more detailed than others. Most will briefly summarize what happened to catch her up to the main-line writeups. The first here gives a little bit of context explaining what happened immediately after the events in San Jose and provides some unique Scout character-perspective on a few more events from 4/14/16. 

***

LIEDESDORFF’S WAREHOUSE, SAN JOSE

Scout lurks nervously through the shadows of Liedesdorff’s warehouse as Tom is healed. She watches as Amarinda and other priests perform arcane rituals over him, and watches as sacrifices are bled and dismembered for the raw materials needed to power them. She forces herself to ignore the screams and the smells, focusing instead on Tom, even as he fights off multiple frenzies throughout the night.

In the early hours of the morning, the cowboy arrives, the one called Doc. Something about him makes her nervous, btu she resists the urge to obfuscate; Liedesdorffs men might see that as weakness. Instead, she draws further back into the shadows as Doc is greeted and lead to Tom’s body. Doc pauses to stare across the warehouse–seemingly right at her–smiles under the shadows of his hat, then turns his attention to Tom, bending over him to hide what he’s doing. Scout’s skin tingles anxiously, but there’s no screams, or cries, or garbled growls of frenzy coming from the table. Silence, and a surprising sense of peace, falls across the warehouse. By the time Doc leaves and the War Party begins securing the property for the day, Tom is resting with all semblance of peace.

The next morning, Scout wakes up later than usual, huddled on the concrete floor up against a weapons crate. A flurry of activity is moving through the warehouse. Scout sits up, turning toward the Tom’s table.

He’s awake, and surprisingly whole, talking to Liedesdorff.

Scout moves as close as she dares without revealing herself in the light. She listens as they talk, a slow realization creeping over her: At some point, Liedesdorff is expecting Cantor to show up to claim Tom. What happens when he doesn’t? Moreover, what happens if he does?

She pulls out her phone to text Cantor, but just like the night before, there’s strangely no answer. Instead of relief, though, she feels a rising worry. Not that Cantor is dead–the low, slow pulse of her bond assures her he’s not–but that he’s planning something she can’t predict.

I need to get back in the game, she thinks grimly. With one last lingering glance at Tom, she  makes her way out of the warehouse, steals a car when no one is looking, and leaves the compound.

Once she’s sure that no one is following her, she pulls out her phone to call Rabenholz. The ringing tone drones from the speaker, echoing around the car. With each pulse, her stomach knots tighter. Maybe he figured me out–

“Ms. Scout,” Rabenholz answers finally.

“Lord Rabenholz,” she greets him, pushing her anxiety away. “I’ve been investigating the missing Baron Leeland.”

“Very good, have you discovered something? It is imperative we find Leeland. For his own protection. There are rumors going about he abducted Mr. Lytton, and the sooner we have conclusive proof the better. I don’t want vigilantes taking things into their own hands.”

She sifts through his tone carefully, sensing for deception. “From what I gather, when Leeland left the building he got in a car and disappeared. By the time I got there, I wasn’t able to follow any further.”

There’s a pause. “…Indeed.”

“But I have interroga—I mean chatted—with some of his staff in Berkeley. Some of the things they’re saying lead me to believe that Cantor may have been behind his disappearance.”

Another long pause. Scout watches the passing industrial blocks, following the signs to 101-north. “That is interesting information,” Rabenholz says finally. “Perhaps I will pay Saint Ignatius church a visit. Very good, Scout.”

Her tension eases slightly. He is clearly suspicious, but something tells her it’s just his default mode right now and he doesn’t have anything clear to pin on her yet. “Is there anything else you need at this time?” she asks.

“I am still very concerned about the whereabouts of Benjamin Smith. Neither you nor anyone else seems able to find him. It is most disappointing. If you feel the trail is cold, then I have no further work for you, but if there is more you can look into, then I am of course interested.”

She rolls her eyes. “I will consider it.”

“Additionally, if you would like to join me at the church I will be there in one hour.”

She hesitates again. Setting Rabenholz against Cantor is exactly the plan, but she certainly hadn’t planned on being there in the middle of it when it happens. “…I am still in the East Bay, it may take me some time to get there, but I will also keep it in mind.”

“Very good then. Thank you for the information.”

Rabenholz hangs up. Scout checks again for any Sabbat tails then merges into the freeway.

#

ST IGNATIUS CHURCH

Scout arrives at the church under cover of obfuscate, anxiously eyeing the caution tape and tarped-up windows. But the building feels as empty to her blood bond as it did the night before, with no physical sign of Cantor’s presence either. She secretly follows Rabenholz as he investigates the property, grinning as Jalut makes his presence known and continues the ruse of being Cantor.  

Rabenholz eventually leaves the building and stops on the front steps, pulling out his phone and dialing. A moment later, Scout’s phone buzzes in her pocket. “Yes?” she answers.

“Ms. Scout. I expected you here sooner. What are your whereabouts?”

“Traffic, I’m afraid,” she replies with a smirk. “There’s some sort of accident on the bridge.”

“I see. Well my business at Saint Ignatius is completed….” Rabenholz trails off suddenly, glancing around suspiciously.

“Is everything alright?” Scout asks, taking another few steps away from him.

“Yes, everything is fine,” Rabenholz says carefully. He scans the sidewalk around him. His waiting towncar is the only thing visible at the moment. “We should resume our search for Benjamin Smith, starting at his last known place. Meet me in Candlestick park in half an hour. That should be enough time to clear the bridge.”

Scout considers a moment. She really doesn’t care about this Benjamin Smith plan, but working with it could be another opportunity to get in on Rabenholz’s good graces. “…That sounds fine,”

“I will await you there.” Rabenholz hangs up and strides down to his car. Once he leaves, Scout reappears and summons her own car to follow him.

#

CANDLESTICK PARK

Scout urges her driver to move quickly and arrive at Candlestick Park just before Rabenholz’s. They meet up and begin to search the property, but it’s not long before Rabenholz’s assistant calls to inform him that she has been taken hostage in their own hotel suite. Rabenholz rushes back to the car, Scout in tow, and they head immediately back up to the city.

#

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE HOTEL

Scout follows Rabenholz as he sweeps down the hallway toward his suite, more perplexed than worried. His assistant–Rhona–had said the man has a gun, so it’s unlikely to be Cantor. Some minor assailant with a grudge against Rabenholz, then? Possibly even a human one? Either way, this might be a good opportunity to prove her usefulness.

“Ms. Scout you have familiarity with cloaking yourself,” he says crisply. “Do you have confidence in this situation?”

Bingo, she thinks with a smirk, letting her hand fall toward her knife. “I can do my best. Though getting in through a locked door is a little tricky.”

“We will enter at the same time. I trust you will have my back.” He turns to meet her gaze. “Protect my assistant at all costs.”

Scout stares at him suspiciously. In a human, his words might be touching, but for an elder vampire, such possessiveness is never a good sign….

She nods and Obfuscates. Moments later, the elevator dings. Rabenholz tucks his sword away and steps out.

The hallway is silent as they approach the door to the suite. Rabenholz opens the door, pausing a moment after opening it to let Scout slip invisibly inside. She draws her knife as she passes down the entry hall. Rhona is in a chair in the middle of the room facing the door, poised tall in her chair. A man is sitting facing her, his back to the door.

As Rabenholz enters the man turns, flashing a grin under a large, plumed hat. He stares gestures grandly with an elaborately-wrought flintlock pistol. “Ahh, you would be the man of the hour.”

Scout frowns, more perplexed than frightened. More pirates? If he’s anything like Anstis, he’ll be more of an irritation than a threat.

Deep down, though, something within her suddenly wakes, clawing at her nervously.

Rabenholz stops a few feet away. “You are well informed.”

“I happen to have many, many eyes about.” The pirate turns to Rhona and flicks the gun. “You can go now, dearie.” He watches Rabenholz with a bemused grin as the assistant hurries off to another room of the suite. “There’s no call to have others hidden in the shadows.”

Rabenholz meets his gaze calmly, but against his fingers twitch against the dark of his cloak, an almost imperceptible “Go on” gesture. Taking that as her cue, Scout lets her obfuscate drops, but keeps her knife drawn, clearly visible.

The pirate grins wider. “Now there’s a nice lassie.” He resettles himself in the chair, smoothing at his blue velvet cloak, then turns back to Rabenholz. “I thought we might have a word.”

Scout listens as Rabenholz and the pirate talk, verbally testing each other. She allows a small smirk as the gun is revealed to be nothing but a toy, but the deep unsettled feeling continues to grow. Keeping an eye on the pirate, she allows herself to settle into the unease, coaxing it to reveal more of itself, and why–

Why hasn’t your fair little friend here identified herself? What’s your name, Lassie?”

She quickly brings her attention back to the present as Rabenholz steps aside and gestures to her. “May I present Ms. Scout.”

Still grinning, the pirate cocks his head the other way. “Ms. Scout? Well that’s not a proper name.”

“It’s the one I go by,” she says coolly. “That seems proper enough for me.”

“Oh but it’s not the one god gave you.” Flowers leans forward. “Are ye a god-fearing woman?”

His grin disturbs her, but it’s nothing compared to anything Cantor has made her feel. “God has had little influence in my life so far,” she responds coolly.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be so cynical as that, lassie. God watches us all. Saints and sinners alike. And he be watching one particular sinner quite closely.”

The mention of sin twists notes of shame into her unease and she fights the instinct to look away. As the pirate grins and turns away, though, the warning sensations within her suddenly click and realization snaps into place.

Ramabai knew this man. Or, more importantly, Ramabai knew of him.

Though Ramabai never discovered who her sire had been, she eventually made contact with others of her clan and learned some of their lore. This man had featured prominently throughout it. His living name was Admiral Jonathan Flowers, though he had gone by others since his embrace. Already notable as one of the few European Ravnos in the entire South Asian region, he made further name for himself through conquests and power consolidation across the Indian Ocean for centuries. Suddenly Bell’s comments to Scout back in his office–the ones suspecting her Ravnos cover as being connected to this man–made a lot more sense, but this realizations did nothing to clear her unease. It took her a moment to unearth why:

Admiral Jonathan Flowers was supposed to be dead, killed during a war with the Kindred of the East during the Indian mutiny.

The two men’s conversation–filled with more piratey politics–draws to a close. Flowers leans forward in his chair, long stained fingers clasped in his lap, grinning amiably up at Rabenholz. “Would you be so kind as to pass the good captain him a little message for me? Tell him it’s a fine submarine he’s taken for the purposes of destroying me. Tell him I’ll be making it me flagship rather soon. Tell him his crew of the dead aren’t up to the task. Tell him living men are what sail a ship, and it’s not just telling tales dead men can’t do.” He cocks his head and grins. “Tell him all those things, will ya?”

Rabenholz nods. “I’ll pass it along.”

“That’s mighty kind of you. I’ll remember ye in my prayers.” Flowers sweeps off his hat and holds it to his chest. “Lord Rabenholz, Ms. Scout. I hope we’ll be seeing each other again soon.”

Flowers’ eyes suddenly roll back and he slumps in his chair. An instant later, the image of himself dissolves, leaving a hotel bellboy sprawled in the chair. Scout hurries forward to check on him. He’s dead.

Scout stares at the bellboy while Rabenholz sweeps from the room. If Flower’s image was just an illusion, why need a body underneath it? The toy gun he had tossed to Rabenholz had clearly been solid, though, and perhaps he needed a real body to handle that. But then why bother killing it before he left?

Rabenholz and Rhona’s voices drift from the next room. Scout puts the mystery of the dead body aside for the moment, reflexively casting a Doppelganger to stand by the chair while her obfuscated self hurries to peer through the cracked doorway and listen in on their conversation.

Rabenholz hands Rhona the toy gun. She takes it, staring a moment in disbelief. “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with historical weapons, I thought it was real—”

“If it should bring you any comfort, he is nonetheless entirely lethal, with or without a weapon. You have not been adequately prepared for dealing with the likes of him.” Rabenholz eyes her a long moment. “But…there is something I can do. Something I can provide to help you defend yourself, to some extent.”

Something in Rabenholz’s tone–a patronizing, yet protective, air–sends a suspicious chill through Scout.

Rhona shudders again. “Defend against that?”

“Against that. You will still be outmatched, but you will be…less so.” Rabenholz hesitates. “But I must warn you, the process will affect your feelings to me. Cloud your judgement.”

Rhona looks up at him, frowning in confusion.

“You will feel…great affection towards me. But it will be perverse. Jealous, possessive. Nonetheless, those with great character can see through the haze and understand the situation and their true feelings.”

Unseen in the doorway, Scout gapes. Don’t…don’t let him….

Rhona’s frown turns suspicious. She sets the gun down. “How does it work?”

“Over the course of three nights I will feed you my blood.”

Rhona stares a long moment. “…Doesn’t that make me a vampire?”

Rabenholz hesitates. “No, that process is…more involved. But you will become powerful, quick. And I will train you to maximise these talents.”

Rhona turns away a moment, thinking. “But my mind wouldn’t be entirely my own….” she says slowly.

Don’t let him, Scout wants to scream, loud enough to break her illusions and scatter the memories flooding unbidden to her mind; memories of a similar position, and a similar conversation. Don’t let him take you….

Silence lingers in the room. Rhona’s gaze jumps from the gun on the table, to the piles of paperwork stacked on the desk, to the tall cloaked form of Rabenholz himself, looming nearby. Finally, she turns to face him. “I would prefer to avoid that if possible.”

Rabenholz nods again. “Of course. I take no offense.”

Relief drains Scout’s terror, but not completely. It ebbs away but leaves the cold core from whence it sprung: her own blood bond, pulsing deep and inexorably within her.

Within the room, Rhona and Rabenholz trade a few more words then Rhona turns to leave. Before she can, though, Rabenholz holds up a hand to stop her, glancing back through the crack in the door to eye Scout’s illusionary form on the other side of the room.

Rabenholz steps toward Rhona and leans close. “I will not lie,” he murmurs into her ear, “Many of my enemies will outmatch you considerably. That should bring you no comfort, but what I’m about to say next may. If anything should happen to you, I guarantee their lives will be very unpleasant and very brief.”

Scout glares at this tableau: Rabenholz’s dark clothes and pale skin, Rhona’s opposite, the two figures so close as to be practically entwined in macabre yin-yang.

He won’t stop pursuing her, she thinks. Even if it’s just for business interests, Rhona being ghouled to Rabenholz would be far more convenient in the long-run. And no vampire of his power can stand being inconvenienced for so long.

Rhona finally extracts herself and leaves. Rabenholz passes the invisible Scout to return to the sitting room. On the other side of the room, her illusion is still staring at the body, but the expression on its faces mirrors the unease of her own.

“Is everything alright, Ms. Scout?” Rabenholz asks.

The illusion jerks her head up, startled. “…Yes, thank you.”

Rabenholz frowns at her suspiciously, then pulls out his phone to call Anstis.

END OF EPILOGUE

This entry was posted in Story. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s