S.H. Epilogue 3: What the Settite Knew

The following is Scout’s version of the scene from 05/12/16 wherein she hunts down the Settite prisoner at the Pyramid and diablerizes him to learn what he knows. Obviously I wanted to share what he knew, but it comes at the cost of having to get more…intimate…with her point of view.

Content warning: I’ve kind of danced around the details of diablerie so far in the main-line writeups, but with Scout I’ve had to get more specific. And this one is the most specific so far.

***


THE BAY BRIDGE

On the ride back across the bridge, now that Tom is safe for another moment, Scout finds herself thinking about the helicopter ride up to Santa Rosa and the Settite that seemed to have something to tell her. Cantor had apparently fooled the entire local Settite clan into thinking he was their leader Anektahken, but maybe some weren’t quite as fooled as others. Had that one known something? Did others? Unfortunately there weren’t many left around to ask, since it seems some of the last few had died during their raid on the Pyramid, the one which Cantor led himself–

And then she remembers: not all the Settite warriors had died that night. One had been captured and was likely still in the basement dungeons of the building.

Maybe I can pull a Rabenholz and trade his secrets for freedom, she considers as the cold wind tugs at her clothes.

Something within her chuckles and doesn’t answer.

#

THE PYRAMID

Not long later, she arrives at the Pyramid, the chaos caused by her brother finally having died down at this point. Obfuscated, she sneaks her way into the building easily and crosses the lobby empty of all but a single guard at the desk. She finds her way to the stairwells and heads toward the basement, but the way is blocked by a heavy locked door just one flight down.

Crap. Still obfuscated, she returns to the guard’s desk. He’s bent over it, muttering about paperwork. She eyes him carefully, noticing a radio on his hip, then concentrates….

The sound of static echoes from the radio at his hip, followed by a distorted voice: “Hey man, I’m down in the basement and forgot my keys, can you open the door?”

She watches the guard’s reaction. carefully. It’s a bit of a risk, to assume another guard is also on staff at this hour. Fortunately, instead of confusion, irritation flashes across his face and he gropes for the radio’s button. “Simmons, goddamit, again?! You know you’re not supposed to be down there! How the hell did you get down there anyway?”

She gropes for a response, casting an illusion with the first thing that comes to mind: “I, uh, thought I saw a cat.”

The desk guard curses and stands. “You are a dumb motherfucker, you know that? The shit that’s been going on around here? They’re gonna eat your ass for this.” He strides to the stairwell, Scout hurrying along behind, beaming in triumph.

The guard opens the door to shout down the black pit of the stairwell. “Simmons! Where are you?”

Scout sidles carefully past him. A moment later, his radio crackles again. “Uh, nevermind, I found a way out.”

The guard glares into the dark. “…Asshole.” He closes the door, shutting her into the dark. Despite the gloom, she continues grinning to herself as she descends–

Then stops as she hears the door lock behind her.

Dammit, she thinks. But something about the dark below calls her, an almost subconscious yearning. She ignores it, just as she ignores the locked door for the moment and continues the descent.

Two flights down, she comes out into the dungeon level. A featureless concrete hallway extends before her, lit by a few banks of dying fluorescent bulbs. The scent of fear and old blood linger on the musty air as she makes her way down the hall. Barred doors line both walls, each opening into identical cells. Her yearning increases as she reaches the end of the row, sure that one of these must contain the prisoner….

But every cell in the hallway is empty.

Part of her writes in irritation but it’s overruled by a perplexed curiosity. She checks the length of the hall twice then stops, frowning. Could Bell have ordered the prisoner moved?

She takes a brief call from a possible client while she scans the dungeons again then finally gives up the search and climbs the stairs back out. As expected, it’s locked solid. She sighs and leans her forehead against the steel, pondering ways to get out. She could bang on the doors to make the guards come investigate, but she would have to slip out of obfuscate in order to make the sound, then quickly slip back in before they opened the door–

Scout’s eyes flick open as a realization hits her with the force of iron: Settites can obfuscate too.

She hesitates another moment, thinking rapidly. The only way out is through this door, and the only way to open the door is via the guards on the other side. By now the Settite has probably realized this too. Perhaps, then, she could catch two birds with one stone.

Steps back from the door and kicks against it with all her strength. The steel rattles in its frame, not enough to break down but enough to send a resounding bang echoing up the stairwell on the other side. She does this a few more times till there’s no question the guards would have heard, then moves a few stairs down from the door. Still obfuscated, she crouches down and sprawls herself along the entire stair so there’s no way for anything to pass without her noticing.

Then she waits.

In the silence, the darkness within her suddenly swells to the surface. So this is your plan catch the prisoner?

She scowls. Yes. And interrogate him. With no help from you.

A few moments pass. The darkness twists like a miasma. I like it.

Her frown deepens. …Why?

A sickening sensation of humor–and triumph–surges. Because you never even considered just asking him.

Footsteps approach the far side of the door. There’s a jingle of keys, then the door jerks, stuck closed by the warping caused by her kicks. There’s more fumbling, followed by mumbling as a second set of footsteps approach. The door jerks again, harder, then again. On the third pull it wrenches open.

Then multiple things happen at once.

Two guards peer around the the opening door. At the same time, someone invisible trips over Scout, and she feels the tell-tale tingle of her obfuscate evaporating. The Settite, though, also melts back into visible reality, yelping as he smashes down to the stairs. Distantly she hears the guards yelling, but her reality has shrunk to the man sprawled on the steel in front of her, his tattoed face pale with terror and his green-cast eyes wide as they lock with hers.

Eyes which widen as they see the intent clear on her face. The intent even she hasn’t admitted to herself yet.

The Settite shrieks and shoves to his feet, trying to bolt up the stairs, but he crashes into the guards, tumbling them all into a heap. In a blur Scout is there, grabbing his ankle and dragging him back down with a wrench strong enough to dislocate his hip. The Settite shrieks and pain and struggles, simultaneously trying to claw away and reach for a knife. Scout grabs his head and slams it against the edge of the stair, snapping his neck instantly. The struggles stop but the screaming doesn’t. She drags him closer and rolls him over, ignoring his snarls and spits and the rotting smell of vampire-fear.

Before she knows it she’s buried in his neck, thrilling at the initial rush of vitae across her tongue. Instinct drives her deeper, thirsting for that moth-bright fragment of soul, fluttering in panic just out of her reach. A foolish vampire might try to chase after it, extending herself too far. But she had been taught better. She waits with a hunter’s patience, feeling the fragment weaken and tire, then–just as the paralyzed body underneath her begins twitching in a blood-drained frenzy–finally succumb.

Ecstasy rises and she lets herself ride it into an moment of eternal perfection. A moment without pain. A moment without regret.

#

This warrior Settite knew the one they took to Santa Rosa, though he doesn’t know what that one could have wanted to say to her before Rabenholz stopped him. Most of his memories, though, corroborate what they learned from Nitocris’s shade in the Shadowlands.

Things have been weird in the local Settite groups recently. They were brought here by Anektahken for reasons not fully explained, then Anektahken began acting strange enough for even his own lieutenant Nitocris to grow suspicious. Anektahken ordered them to build the nest in Candlestick then drew off as many warriors as he could to attack the Pyramid. As loyal Settites they obeyed without question, until the moment plans went awry and this warrior was left the last alive and staked by Theo Bell.

After that the memories are blank, until one moment where the warrior was unstaked here in the dungeons. There’s fuzzy memories of shadowy figures standing around them, then nothing as he is staked yet again. The last thing he knew, just a few hours before, he was suddenly unstaked in his cell and left alone in an empty dungeon, where his first thought was to obfuscate and sneak out as quickly as he could.

Scout picks through these memories, dissecting them from every angle to find evidence of Cantor’s larger plan, but at the thought of her sire a new series of the Settite’s thoughts bloom to the surface, hot as fire:

This warrior didn’t know Cantor, nor did he suspect Cantor replacing Anektahken, but he knew of Cantor. All the Settites do. The local ones knew that he had come to the bay with a childe and that she is moving around disguised as something other than what she is. He–and all the Settites–had standing instructions to destroy her and Cantor if possible. This warrior didn’t know why. All the warrior knew is that the Settites have been after Cantor for a very, very long time, and the emotion they had all been trained to feel against him wasn’t anger, but fear.

#

Slowly, the cold of the stairwell draws Scout’s attention through the cloud of bliss back to reality. For a moment she feels hours have passed, but the guards are still at the top of the stairs, frozen in terror. Almost lazily, her Settite-soaked mind conjures the first illusion to come to mind–a snake–to scare them off. She falls still again, relishing the lack of tension, the sense of true completion. Under her, the body falls to ash but she ignores it for another long, perfect moment.

Finally she gets up, moving slowly as the flush of bliss slowly ebbs from her body and her muscles regain their strength. Out of habit, she brushes the ash from her suit, then hesitates, staring at the grey streaks across her palm.

It’s just the way things are, something within her says. As she climbs the stairs to exit the building, though, she realizes she’s not sure which part of her it is.

END OF ADDENDUM

 

 

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