A Cavalcade of Corpses
A Means to an End – c. 2010
A functionary showed the coterie into the room where the upstart Prince, Elise Marx, was still making preparations for the evening's announcement with her Sheriff Michael standing idly by. "Milady," the ghoul started, "these kindred wish to report on tonight's… interests." The Toreador looked up, confusion briefly in her eyes as she recognized Zahra and the her two companions, Simon and Glump. "Thank you, Martin," she addressed the announcer. "Be a dear and see if Hector plans on actually making an appearance." She turned her gaze on the visitors, "Now, what brings you back so soon, neonates?" The last word was laced with venom propelled by her Presence, making it perfectly clear her time was not to be wasted.
Simon gave a brief report – the hunt for Eli hadn't taken long, he had found them. They were able to dispatch the suspected infernalist and a couple of ghoul minions without a single casualty to their own group. He did not, however, mention Jimmy's indiscretion. Elise did not receive this news favorably. "I thought you told me this individual was dangerous," she seethed,"if he was such a threat, how did you neutralize him so quickly? How will the Primogen react when they hear that a band of upstarts," she gave the coterie a dismissive wave, "were able to conclude a blood hunt before it had even been officially called? Before we had the chance to affirm his guilt?" The bookish Tremere could not give an answer.
"Very well," Elise said coolly, "We will need to reconvene on this matter later. For now, I must prepare to explain to your elders exactly why I wasted so much of their time tonight; an explanation I would prefer to give before they arrive." She stood and left the office, leaving the coterie alone with Michael.
"I must recommend you leave the city." The imposing Malkavian said, a disappointed look in his eye.
"Why?" Protested Glump, "We only did what was asked of us!"
"Yes," Michael conceded, "but in managing to do it so effectively you have risked making Elise look weak, something which she will not tolerate. It will be advantageous for her to portray you all as conspirators, having concocted false allegations so you may enact a personal vendetta. Once that story is cemented, you will be portrayed as guilty of destruction and subject to the appropriate punishment."
"And why tell us this?" Zahra interjected.
"Because I believe you have done the city a service tonight," he admitted. "I am also indebted to you for finding and waking me, and I do not forget my debts. Nor will it hurt the Prince for you to disappear; should you flee before she 'discovers' your transgression, she may make any accusations necessary without needing to act on them."
"It also keeps us from trying to set the record straight," mentioned Simon, failing to hide his contempt.
Michael gave a teeth-baring grin, "A small price to pay, should you wish to see tomorrow night."
Predator or Prey – Present Day
Zahra woke in her cave to the playful yipping of her dogs. All seven of them. The loyalty of a good dog is hard to beat, but a blood bond can do wonders. When the only barriers between her resting corpse and prowlers in the day were her pets, Zahra found it best to go big and plentiful.
She was in the middle of grooming the runt of the pack when one of her burner phones went off. She didn't know who had supplied the thing, nor who it was that occasionally called, but whoever it was wanted her safe – and close. There were times she had considered leaving Colorado like Simon and Glump had done, but she liked knowing who her enemies were – and knowing that someone wanted her alive.
"There are Assamites about," The scrambled voice started as soon as she answered. "There seems to be an interest in your old coterie. That's all we know at this time."
The 'conversation' ended as abruptly as it had started, but the significance was not lost. The contract killers of the kindred world had become a collective wild card ever since coming free of their shackles, and Zahra did not find the idea of coming into their cross-hairs a desirable one. She pulled out a second phone.
"Ranjit, I need you to pick me up…."
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Business as Usual
Joe entered the bar via the kitchen and stood in the shadows against the back wall. He carefully scanned each dimly lit smoke wreathed face. It was the third time he’d stopped by this bar. A childe had gotten into a fight. The mortal had been bigger and stronger. In order to survive with its pride unwounded the neonate had broken the masquerade. Joe had gotten the call. The only thing left undone was to make sure there weren’t any hunters nosing around asking questions about scrawny childer with superhuman abilities. So far the story about drugs and bad company seemed to be satisfying the locals. As for the culprit of the breach – well, that wasn't any of Joe's concern.
Joe’s inner pocket vibrated. The phone that should never be called was now silently doing so. He took a minute to scan his current location to make sure the job was done; very much wanting to spend the night ignoring whomever was on the other end of that call. Joe knew better. To leave anyone who had access to that specific number unanswered was the last decision he would make in this unlife. He exited after one more scan of the bar.
A voice answered and Joe was given a name. Jarek. Joe was to extract the foot soldier and deliver him to allies. The subtext was that Jarek was of some importance to a minor elder. A price was set.
A few nights later Joe found himself amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Denver. He thought for a minute, he’d need to reach out. It would be dangerous if the powers that be caught wind of his arrival second-hand. He sighed. Then he straightened and took out a different phone.
“Slim, I need the car. Now. We’re going to pay our respects.”
A black Cadillac pulled into an alley to pick Joe up. Once inside, he started the dominoes tipping. You didn’t just pop in on the prince after slouching around Denver cleaning up assorted messes for low level flunkies. Bureaucrats hate surprises.
The car eased up to the curb of the Museum. Joe got out and swaggered in. There was a functionary who showed Joe into his audience, likely a ghoul. Joe did his best to seem dutifully impressed as he conveyed his respects laconically. He tensed as the door burst open and the sheriff walked in with a bloody bat. Joe had been checking his six for Michael ever since he arrived in town.
The exchange was brief and rife with feigned outrage. Something was going on within the lower ranks that needed checking into. Hopefully nothing that would interfere with Joe’s contract. Returning to his car after his dismissal Joe made some inquiries – it was some business with a Nosferatu. It sounded minor and none of Joe’s business and Joe intended that it would stay that way.
Joe called some friends about Jarek. A few minutes later his car was parked at the city morgue. He entered and found a late night employee. A quick feed and I’ll render the man unconscious. His reward for jumping the mortician was a pair of scissors sticking out of his thigh.
“There’s blood in the back if you're desperate.” said the Nosferatu, one Dorian Martin,as he let his perceptual mask fall. Joe covered his mistake by going back for a blood bag.
“I’m looking into an incident involving cybernetically enhanced hunters and an interrupted ritual.” Joe filled in the other cainite on details as he knew them: location, date, other victims, and the types of injuries on the victims.
The Nosferatu was clueless other than a case file. Apparently the alleged 'enhanced' corpses had been spirited away from such a low security facility rather promptly. The other victims, with no recorded importance or next of kin, had been promptly cremated over 5 years ago.
“Maybe you can call a friend…”
Minutes later a twelve year old walked through the door. This isn’t the time or place to see a kid in an Italian suit; this was clearly the Rat’s implied “friend”.
“Hey kid, I’m looking for some information…”
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When one suffers a malady or a curse long it enough it is only natural to seek escape. In Vincent's case, ending his suffering could only occur two ways: a necromantic breakthrough otr catching a sunrise. Sure, being a sixty year old predator in a ten-year-old's body had its perks, but when you've never inhabited an adult body in those sixty years you can't help but feel you're missing a crucial perspective. After decades of experimentation, he still had not found a way to transmute his own body or possess another.
Denver. He wished he could be certain what it was he was looking for here. If intelligence they'd gathered at the séance those years ago was worth anything, there was definitely an answer here – he just couldn't be sure what the question was. Spirits could be impossibly cryptic sometimes. He had gotten permission from the anziani to investigate independently, with the promise of regular reports back to the family. His first step was to establish a reporte with the local Tremere, who rumor had it was gaining strength once again. Well, second step, niceties had to be observed first. His presentation to the Prince was relatively uneventful, she seemed nonplussed of his intentions; it wasn't unusual for people to be dismissive based on his appearance, and appearance can be EVERYTHING when a Toreador is in power.
After a few years of preparation, he made his way to the Commerce City Morgue, where he'd been told he'd be given a way to make contact. The local proprietor of the establishment was a Nosferatu by name of Dorian Martin. Dorian explained that the Tremere may welcome the services of a necromancer, that they were looking for answers to an attack they'd suffered years ago.
Not long after, Vincent found himself on the quad of Colorado University Boulder Campus. "Don't worry, they'll find you." Dorian had assured. Not long after he arrived, he got a call – just not from whom he was hoping. It was Dorian, "Look, pal, I don't normally call in boons this quickly, but…"
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The Con Artist
New City, New Marks
For Gareth Morne, the city was an apple ripe for the picking. Being new in town he wanted to know the correct players – but he didn't necessarily want to know them the correct way. He and his sire, Karissa, had so far not made any inconvenient trips to stroke anyone's ego just yet. There were times, however, when he wished Karissa would be a trifle more transparent with him. For example, he wasn't entirely sure how she knew the Tremere convened on the campus here. "Common knowledge, my pet," she had crooned, but he suspected she was merely disguising whatever boon she had to call in for that kind of intel. While she was at it, she could have given him a little more detail as to what he was supposed to be doing here – counting noses wouldn't proffer much, it wasn't like the warlocks paraded around on broomsticks in Harry Potter attire.
There he was – a little boy. A little boy wandering the quad this time of night, unsupervised? Sure, this place had some wackos, but this was too much. He made his way closer, inconspicuously, as to better ascertain what he might. Italian suit, macabre lapel, and no steamy breath? Gareth could put three an three together.
It didn't take his sire long to answer the phone. "Hello, dear."
"You didn't tell me the Giovanni had a stake in this area." Gareth muttered into his mouthpiece.
"That's because they don't, or haven't until recently," she admitted. "Are you telling me you've run afoul of them?"
"No," he assured her, "just one – and he hasn't seen me yet. It's a little boy."
"Don't be deceived," she chided, "the Necromancers tend to be tight knit. If he really is alone there must be a good reason. See what you can find out; the Tremere will wait."
Gareth watched as the boy arranged transportation through a micro-taxi service, and made to do the same. His car followed the boy's to Commerce city, where they both disembarked – cat and mouse – and made their way to the morgue. Neither one of them noticed the raven following them overhead.
"Fitting place for a Necromancer," Gareth mused, as he scouted out a place where he might listen in. As best as he could tell, there were two other cainites inside. One of them was looking for information about an attack occurring about 7 years ago and wished to employ the boy in order to divine information from the victims. The story seemed jumbled – a number of original victims were slaughtered by two assailants – hunters, he thought he heard – who were in turn attacked by a cainite. This kindred was the objective, after he killed the hunters he had discovered they were cybernetically enhanced: they had registered his face digitally. Rather than risk being the subject of a manhunt by whomever equipped them, he had hidden in torpor the past several years. Now the terse guy inside was supposed to revive the hunter-killer, but needed to find out where was napping. The alleged techno-hunters' corpses had ben vanished from local authorities, but the original victims might be able to tell them something – especially considering the brutal nature of their demise.
"This has got to be the worst way…" Gareth complained to himself, and he planned to interject at the first opportunity.
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Unfortunately for Joe and Vincent, the bodies of the victims had been cremated years ago, which would make interrogating their departed souls just a trifle more difficult. Dorian was, however, able to give them two names and a case number, enough to visit an evidence locker and perhaps acquire some of the deceased's personal affects. They made their way to the police station, neither one of them suspecting they were being followed.
At the evidence locker, Joe used his status as a minor forensics journalist as a cover for their interest in the affects while concocting a story about Vincent being the offspring of one of the victims. A little bribery helped them avoid some of the necessary red tape. There were, however, much stricter rules about leaving with the evidence. Enter Gareth. With light sprinkling of fast gab and a heavy dose of Domination, the clerk let the three abscond with the cheap jewelry.
The three left for Vincent's home, where he had arranged a hidden basement laboratory. Not one of them noticed the raven following them. Once they were inside, Zahra resumed her regular form and called a small army of mice to her. One by one she instructed them to spy out the events inside the Giovanni's haven and report back.
Inside the lab, Vincent was able to summon one of the women killed at the event in question. She had in fact followed Jarek after her demise, and reported his final resting place as a storage facility in Castle Rock. Both Vincent and Gareth recognized an opportunity to strengthen a boon with the third newcomer, so they exchanged contact information and arranged to meet at the Jarek's resting place. For now, dawn was nigh, and two (and three) of them needed to return to their havens.
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