S.H. Epilogue 4: Eavesdropping

The following epilogue bit fills in two conversations that were only half-completed in the mainline writeup. More details after the jump.

***

This first one occurred during the events of 5/17/16. At this point, Jim deeply suspected that Scout was working for Flowers (aka, plan working as intended) so he had Anstis following her around town. At one point she goes to have a short conversation with Esteban, and on her way out she gets a phone call. When initially played, Anstis could hear Scout’s side of the conversation through Auspex, so Jason had to type the other side of the conversation at me while I read over his shoulder and I answered out loud. I included those out-loud portions of the scene in the mainline writeup. But now I can include the other half.

#

ESTEBAN’S BAR, OUTER SUNSET DISTRICT

Scout hurries across the parking lot to the road, considering the details of her encounter at Esteban’s. She has no idea who this Admiral Flowers is, but twice now she had run into him, and both times he had elected to not out her or her illusions, despite undoubtedly being able to see through them as an elder Ravnos. Perhaps he’s using her as some sort of cover for a plan of his own and all his sky winks are an attempt to indicate their unintentional symbiosis. Fine, she thinks, so long as no more elder vampires get tangled up in my busin–

Suddenly her phone rings. She looks down at the screen and stops, face blanching.

It’s Cantor.

Instantly, instinctively, her mind runs through his last instructions, searching for some order she might have forgotten. But no…the last time they had talked was the strange conversation when he had been cut off. Is whatever mysterious business he was up to concluded? Is that good or bad?

Nerves singing with anxiety, she glances around a moment then answers.

“My child….” the terribly familiar voice sighs, tone undulating with pleasure.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you,” she replies, voice low. “I thought you were…otherwise occupied.”

“You should know that I am always with you.  You do know that I am always with you, do you not?”

She shudders. “I do.”

“… Say it such that I believe it, my child…”

“I do know that you are always with me,” she says hurriedly. “Watching.”

“Good.  Then you have not yet become corrupted by the evil ones around you…”

She glances around. The empty streets of outer-city suburbia stretch off on all sides into the foggy night. “The ones around me are filled with even more lies than I have. I’ve come to distrust many obvious signs–”

“This is wise.  I am the only one you can ever trust–”

“So how can I trust you now?” she hears herself saying, then stops, panic freezing her to the sidewalk.

Cantor is silent a moment. “Have I not granted you my love?  My protection? My tutelage?”

Her dead heart twitches, half expecting his hand to reach from the darkness at any moment. Quickly, she backtracks, trying to fight through the fear and rephrase what she meant. “How do I know this is you and not…another gifted with illusion?”

At this Cantor laughs, a sound only slightly better than his anger. “You have met the liar, then. The Ravnos.”

She turns to glance back at the bar, half-dissolved into the fog behind her. “I have met him. He seems content to see what happens.”

“He is not what he appears. Not even beneath the artifice he allows you to know.”

“I should expect so, given his type.”

“His type is corrupt. Debased. Broken.” Cantor pauses a moment. “As you were before I came to you.”

Scout closes her eyes. “I do my best to serve your honor,” she says, the words coming out on auto-pilot.

“Do not fear, my wayward child.  All shall be revealed in glory soon enough. The time of apotheosis is near.”

Scout hesitates. Such declarations from him usually counted as a dismissal, but her mind races with everything she has learned the last few nights, and his tone seems more accommodating than usual… “…Are you involved with the happenings in Marin?” she finally asks.

“I am involved in all that transpires upon this Earth. It is as I proclaim, and as I ordain.”

She frowns. Something about that statement isn’t right. It’s a little grandiose, even for him. More importantly, something underneath his words seems off. He sounds…almost nervous.

She decides to push her luck. “What happened the last time we spoke, before you were cut off?”

Cantor hesitates a moment before answering. “There was an intrusion.  From one who should not have been permitted to come this far. The abomination.  The child who is not a child.” A dark hiss crosses the line, neither static nor voice, but before she can think about it too much Cantor is speaking again, voice as patronizing as ever. “Do not fear, my wayward child. I do not blame you for this intrusion. If I did, my wrath would be kindled warm, but it was another who failed…”

Deep inside, something twists in warning. “Another agent of yours in the city?” she asks carefully. Another prospective childe?

“Another who dances to the music of my drum,” is all Cantor replies.

She forces herself to take a breath. Even if he had decided to replace her, there’s nothing she could do about it except everything she already is. “What do you desire of me at the moment?” she asks, knowing such carefully-chosen phrasing would please him.

“I desire that you do what others may not. I desire that you ensure that there shall be no more intrusions. There is little time now, before it comes. I desire that you work my will in shape and form. Do you still desire to see my will performed? Or has the taste of freedom addled your will and dulled your loyalty?”

She hangs her head. “No,” she says.

“Of course not.  This is why you are favorite of all my childer.”

“I am your only childe,” she mutters.

“Indeed.  The others were not my favorites.”

Her stomach twists again.

“The arrogant one,” Cantor continues. “The sea monster, the one-eyed king. All shall come to me here, in the bowels of creation. You must come to me as well, come and waylay them, lay bare their souls to the lidless eye of judgment. Let them gaze upon the ending of all sin.”

She ducks her head, hiding her face from the darkness. “I understand.”

“I know that you do, for you are my favored childe, and exalted among all others.  Serve me well, and you shall know the touch of paradise once and for all time.”

Cantor hangs up. A moment later, head still bowed against the bitter night air, she tucks her phone away.

#

There’s one more conversation to briefly explain. A few episodes later, during 5/26/16, Scout is secretly trying to stake-out Rabenholz and gets a call from Thrace. Despite their previous attempts on each others’ lives, Thrace calls a tenuous truce and asks her to meet him on neutral ground.

Scout finds Thrace on a bench in the plaza in front of City Hall. There they talk about inconsequential things while Thrace secretly informs her they’re being watched by jotting down notes in his sudoku puzzle. They have a tense conversation wherein he asks her to pass along any information she finds out about what’s been going on.

Unknown to the reader, Thrace gave his payment in advance. Before he leaves, he shows her the last note he jotted down in his puzzle, angled so only she can see:

Cantor is watching her. Now.

END OF ADDENDUM

 

 

 

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2 Responses to S.H. Epilogue 4: Eavesdropping

  1. Seth says:

    Creepy, creepy, and more creepy. Love it!

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