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Zeroth Post


No matter how ancient he had become, Henry still found himself slipping into behaviours by nature, becoming accustom to whatever new role he had set upon himself, before losing it to the whims of fate. Now, watching the city stretch out before him, from the luxury of Chateau Marmont, he found himself at a loss. Sunsent was no more, his life running the lounge, as much ash as the rubble on which his bar had been built. Here he stood in a new establishment, as patron, not owner.

Still, the line had been drawn, Los Angeles was his home now, and he had promised such to those who mattered. In the cosmic scale of his liftetime, his bond with them was but a whim on the wind, but to Henry, that still mattered more than his own wishes. It had been so long, if ever, that he had been free of such obligations.

Prepaerations were nearing their conclusion, soon one of LA's most exclusive locations would be prepared for two particularly exclusive guests. The usual staff were preparing the venue, while Henry himself was finalising his preperations of a different nature. It was his role to ensure the survival of the Free State of LA, and by extension, the kindred best postioned to lead it. No matter who these guests were, and the power behind them. He had a host of mortals, ghouls and kindred he could call upon, and sure enough, they were held in reserve, should matters go awry, but with the aim of no overt displays of hostility, for now, he was working on his own. The angles had been calculated, the approaches considered.

It had been some time, time that made years seem like the patter of rain, since he had taken so direct a role in the matters of mortals and immortals alike, for so long he had simply drifted through their worlds, stopping only when either empathy or curiosity forced him to intervene. Perhaps a combination of both had driven him to LA, and then into aiding the eclectic band of Kindred that had built the city, and the Free State, from the shadows. As he watched the city, he allowed his senses to slip from his bodily form, roaming on the aethric winds. While he might search through the city for potential threats, for the unkowns, that would have likely been a waste of time, as slow as any mundane approach. Instead his concious thought felt for the presence of one unconcious mind. He did not wake, her, simply watching her through the skein of his power, watching the chaos that was her mind, and the new powers it wrestled with. The death throes of a second, weaker, personality within. There were few alive, or dead, who could so obviously reach beyond the boundaries of Topor, but Henry did so, at least with her, with contemptuous ease. He did not wake her, but she would feel his presence, maybe not now, but in reflection. A reminder that someone of like mind was watching over her city, and watching over her, especially with a mind so conflicted. He hoped the two promises, to her, and the latter to himself, would never compete.

She had begun the fight he had first waged before time had ground his will to dust, the challenge against the Oblivion which was burningburning forth to meet them. The cynic in him would argue the yet further time would only result in the same fate for both of them, surrendered to their fate. Of all the things he had ever been, he'd never been a terribly good cynic.

In the next moment, he returned to his physical form in full thought, eyes flickering with the power of his form for only a moment, returning to his mundane, mock-human, senses.

He turned back into the function room, stepping back through windowed doors. The oppulance of the room was ignored as he moved to a nearby table, steadily finishing the process of dressing appropriately. A burgundy tie done up, gold tie clip in place, he paused only to examine his cufflinks before setting them. Twin stars, as was his preference. He had always been fond of the little momentoes. As he finished correct the sit of his shirt, the doors to the room opened. He felt her presence before he saw her. He had always been observant, and the aura of those with whom he was familar were traced like a breeze to him. He turned to her, smiling, although it did not quite reach his eyes.


She came into the room like a storm of sweet scents, aggitated energies, and the barely audible sound of her high heeled Prada black leather boots sounding off against the hard wooden floor of the hall below her until she hit the room carpet. Big brown eyes literally seemed to glow honey gold when she stopped under the accent lighting fixtures directly above her. The tightly fit black slacks and shimmering champgange colored silk halter hiding under a black blazer coat, the exterior of it's arms a delicate web of black lace. Chateau Marmont and it's old Hollywood glamor was a long time favorite for her, but not just her. Rock stars, actors and actresses, directors, Hollywood elite, writers, visual artists, and whoever else could buy their way in. Even on off nights anything could happen. But the Chateau wasn't a normal hotel, for other reasons, too; reasons directly related to the guest list factor. Each suite was it's own little haven, with the privacy and security to back it up. Once you passed through the main building, unless you stayed there, there was little to no mingling.

Henry had set them up in the kind of posh, catered, room that their two visitors would be most used to. Yanci Carolina couldn't have loved the man more, loved him enough to have regrets for the first time in a long time. Still the decision had necessitated a change. That was easy enough when Eva controlled the site since the original owner first sold it. Eva hadn't been there, of course. That was old West Hollywood, afterall. Yanci had been sent in her place, but even then Yanci hadn't been the front woman to that pow-wow. That had been their ghoul front; Albert E. Smith. Alby, as Yanci overjoyed in calling him playfully. She even recalled how much they purchased it for: $750,000 cold hard USD. And at the moment all she could think about when her eyes looked this way, then that, was.....how much more furniture they'd put into this room since the last time she was in it. That had been a while, if Yanci remembered correctly.

Bar Marmont, on the other hand, she had been to more recently. And often. Even Brujah can act a little Hollywood in this town. As she stepped up to him, she finally spoke. "This hotel is where James Dean jumped through a window to audition with Natalie Wood for Rebel Without a Cause, Elizabeth Taylor nursed Montgomery Clift post car crash, Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the hallways and John Belushi took his final breath...these two don't rank that high, so I moved us."

When his eyes caught her's as he process that, she smiled. Big. "C'mon. They're probably waiting on us." She knew they were. Through the wide halls she led him, out the back, through the balcony and down the stairs that led to the exterior aft courtyard. The Spanish Bungalows, even the pool, weren't originally even part of the Chateau. All of that was added later, by someone too unwilling to wait for a deal to be done to buy the Chateau. Eva. The Chateau bought the pool, and bungalows, a few years after she purchased it.

"She saw it. I don't know how." As they walked, she looked back from the lead to see him blink. It made her chuckle. "She looked at a failed apartment building and saw a legendary Hollywood location. I told her she was crazy, back in the 1930s. When they turned the hotel into a state historical site in the mid-90s, she celebrated. I happily took that 'told ya so' from her."

Throughout their walk Henry made sure to take in her words, to visibly do so, nodding to the analogies, the stories, the information of her past, the past of the city and her past with Eva. Some of it her already knew from other sources. The feeling behind it? Eva's motivations, her dreams for the city, that he knew in its totality. Henry had connected with Eva in a way that he had not with another since what felt like the dawn of ages. He did everything he could during moments like this to not remind Yanci of that. Let Eva be her's, he cared for them both too much to open those wounds, and their work was too important.

They walked by a few tables tucked away behind shrubs and trees; there was no main line of sight in the back of the Chateau. Paths spide-webbed out from the back entrance of the hotel main building, the roofs of the bungalows peaking out in the slight distance, all of it hidden behind the thick, tall, stone walls covered in ivy--and the electronic security everywhere the walls weren't. Yanci knew the people at the table; low level Hollywood execs "trying to make it happen." But her focus was on the second bungalow, the white wooden door opened as they got close by a young man with a wide smile, tight cropped brown hair, and pretty blue eyes.

Inside were white stucco walls with wooden beams above and the wooden ceiling further above that. Taller ceilings than most might consider, the main room of the bungalow in use--closer to the door was where their guests had been seated, on the other side of the room was a man flanked by a small group of other men, tailors, to be exact. The blonde man in the middle kept turning before thick mirrors brought in, giving feedback, shaking his head, even drawing chuckles. Seated close to the group was a man with salt and pepper hair, and a handsome face. It was the slightly older man, the one seated with salt and pepper hair, that turned his head upon their entering.

"Your friends are nice. I think we settled on dark blue."

Yanci's eyes bounced to the man in front of the mirrors. "Yeah, yeah I think the dark blue works. It's not Navy, but it's not gaudy. It'll work for the opening scene."

"Wonderful. Thank you, gents."

The older man stood, the blonde man trailed off into another room to change. Yanci brought Henry over to their side of the room, so Henry could shake hands with the older man. Even close up, he didn't look as old as he was. People joked the man was a vampire; Yanci knew better. "Henry, George Clooney. George, this is my friend Henry."

"Very nice to meet you, Henry." After the hand shake, his arms crossed reflexively over his chest, his blue eyes focusing anew on Yanci. "What happens if I need to talk to her?"

Uh. "You haven't heard?"

He looked pained, suddenly. "I had. I was hoping once I saw Gwen, or yourself, I'd learn it was all bad gossip. She's coming back?"

She nodded, firmly. "Absolutely."

A shrug, and the smile audiences knew so well showed itself. "Well, okay. Let me see about Matt. Thanks."

The tailors were already gone by then, leaving Yanci to motion for Henry to sit at one of the two seats across a white wooden coffee table with an ice bucket and champgange chilling inside, glasses resting next to it. They were untouched. She wasn't surprised. Finally, finally, Yanci regarded the Cardinal and the Ventrue. "Hello, welcome to Los Angeles. Please say nothing to seriously piss me off. Shall we start?"

The most unusual thing about the two men sitting patiently for Yanci and Henry was felt more in their similarities than their differences. These were two of the most prominent members of rival ideologies, the two great warring sects of the Kindred world. Yet both were here, dressed in fine, modern clothes. They would not have been out of place atop the spires of Downtown, or on a home counties private estate, networking and planning the rise and fall of business.

Instead, one was a Cardinal of a cult set on bringing about the end of the world as all had come to know, and the other a global conspiracy to hide the existence of vampires from all humanity. Cardinal Charles Delmare was the slightly more ostentatious of the pair, jeweled rings bedecked his hands and the cut and style of his suit was notably more flamboyent, but far from the realm of ridiculous. Despite his generally softer appearance, he seemed to have taken the wait worse, offering both Yanci and Henry little more than a curt nod for now.

Hardestadt had been eyeing his opposite intently, but was alive the moment Yanci regarded them both. To say he was warm would be inaccurate, the paragon of Ventrue capability, he was efficient, cut and dry. But his power of personality was almost overwhelming, it stirred even Henry's supernatural senses as he made to shake his hand.

"A pleasure to be here, and to enjoy such fine company." His hand graced Yanci's the next, just as firmly, but if the presence of the Ventrue was tantalising, his touch was all consuming. There were few kindred alive who could claim such a mastery of the vitae-fuelled presence. Despite this, his smile did not quite reach his eyes. "I shall endeavour not to offend you then, Baron." The edge of contempt touched his words as he spoke her title. It was a fine enough moniker, but it wasn't prince. "Shall we begin then." It was anything but a question.

"Indeed, Los Angeles has been abuzz of late." It was Charles Delmare who spoke next, his eyes flicking to Henry, but focusing on Yanci as the power in the room. "Is this wise to bring us both to your door, when you hardly have a handle on the fires spreading across your house?" He was calm in tone, but direct, with the assured quality of a man of great faith. "Mayhaps your Sheriff can advise you on such matters." He raised an eyebrow in Henry's direction, waving a loose hand.

"Get out. Now."

Moments went by, and no one moved, but shadows appeared on the otherside of the door, darking the sunlight that had been shining through the imperfect glass windows bordering the front doorway. The back was worse; it was all glass. All of it. There were good reasons that the Chateau was surrounded by so many walls, tangible and intangible. Yanci wasn't inviting the two back to the bedroom with it's back glass wall; probably for the best considering she wasn't entirely sure George and Matt were done and gone. When the two ancients finally moved, it was to look at Henry, then each other...never Yanci.

"What up, Yance?"

The voice belonged to CJ; thick rimmed black sunglasses, Raiders hat backwards over dreadlocks, dark skin so dark it was near purple in certain light. CJ wasn't a big guy, around 5'6. He didn't have to be what with the auto-shotgun held tight, at the ready, in his small hands. Yanci had a feeling the two ancients knew the rounds loaded in that shotgun, and the shotgun carried by every one of CJ's friends. The Bloods had been at the Chateau for days, spotting, security. The moment Yanci stepped onto the property, their number increased three-fold.

"The Cardinal is leaving."

CJ blinked, looking at the two visitors. "Which one is he?"

"The one that looks like a bad imitation of a Mexican pimp."

CJ smiled. "A'ight. C'mon, El Cardinal." Card-in-aleee, was how CJ said it, emphasis on the end of the title. A playful emphasis. "Stand ya self on up, and let's escort you out homeboi."

"...you know," Yanci's right hand appeared at her chin, her other arm folded against her midsection, as she retreated to a deep ponder. Or at least, gave the exaggerated pretense of doing so. "Nah. Let him stay. But let's get something clear..." She didn't sit. Instead, she stepped closer to the Cardinal. She bent at the waist, lowered her eyes until they were riiiight at level with the Cardinal's, maybe an inch away. "You can't even take shitty San Diego and you want to tell me about the state of LA? You don't have the first clue of what's going on in this city. If you did, you wouldn't have accepted this invitation. And I know this isn't an act...you really DO think you're that important, you're that special...you're not. Not here. Got that, Chief? So piss me off again and that 'state of LA' you're so uncertain about you'll see first hand, reallllllllllll fuckin' quick. Awesome."

She smacked the back of the Cardinal's shoulder in a friendly gesture, before moving her hand away and her body went towards her seat. Her eyes had already moved on, as did her focus: they were on the Ventrue. "Can we stop fucking around now? Maybe you've mistaken this for the annual meeting of your European financial institution tight-ass club, but this is Hollywood." Then, only then, did Yanci sit beside Henry. Quickly, comfortably, casually. Smiling big.

"So let's talk. I'm not who you wanted to talk to, but I'm who you're stuck with. If you're curious, she's watching, she's listening. She's PROBABLY holding her face in her hand right now, or whatever the equivilant--I'm not that old, I've never had to go full on fucking hibernation. I should be more polite...but I warned you not to get uppity and piss me off. It's the first thing you both did. No one's going to put up with your shit, here. Doesn't stop you from rolling up Sunset thinking you own the place, like any rich VIP who comes to Hollywood. They find out the same lesson: this won't be a pleasure, the company in Hollywood is as fine as it wants to be to you." A direct retort to the Venture's earlier line.

"She wanted this to be friendly. She was hoping for honest communication. So let's be honest: we know both of your clubs are gonna keep coming for us. Now you finally know who's really in charge. Now you finally know who to aim at...but she built Southern California. Damn near literally. Either of you ever do something so profound? Ever create something that changed the world in so many ways, time and time again? Generation after generation? Either of you two have a skin on the wall as big as SoCal, or Hollywood? Why NOT consider working with us? We maintain the traditions; shit, I'd say Hollywood has done more to turn vampirism into a myth, to directly help the Masquerade, then anything your club's ever done. I'll stop so you can tell me I'm wrong."

Both the Ancients responded to the tirade sent their way with something akin to amused surprise, although they wore it in different ways, Charles, as the primary focus of the ire, was cold steel, regarding the scene with little more than tense restraint, relaxing only slightly upon the end of Yanci's words. He may have been leadership, but he was Sabbat, he dealt with more fiery personalities daily, just not so very focused.

Hardestadt wore a more visible reaction, a raised eyebrow and the hint of a grin. It was unusual for him to be spoken to in such a manner, unusual in a way that could either entertain or enrage him, for now he picked the former, allowing himself a nod of agreement at Yanci's final words. Despite all this, it was neither of them who spoke next.

"You can take the girl out of the Brujah." If Hardestadt's enjoyment was restrained, Henry was smirking in full, watching 'his' Baron go to work. While he may have teased her, it was clear, at least between the two of them, that his amusment was at the expense of the Ancients, and not her. "Eva's accomplishments were grand, yes, as I'm sure many of both the Camarilla and the Sabbat can claim to be, but as much as we aren't here to fuck around, we're not here to trade nicities either. Business, gents." There was something of the London gangster there, hidden beneath the carefully crafted neutrality which Henry wore to cover the habits of countless mortal lives across just as many nations.

"Of course. As I've come to be aware, Los Angeles has shed the Anarch Free State, a wise move, if you ask me, consolidation without dragging the old divides and motivations of the Anarchs with you. You may strike out on your own, I believe that to be the cause you are set on, but I would reintroduce the offer of the Camarilla." Hardestadt was the first of them to speak directly, the trace of a German accent adding to the imperious nature of his tone. He was, of course, breezing over that the last Camarilla 'offer' had been nothing short of an invasion. "Nothing so dramatic this time, LA would maitain it's current structure, and control of the region. You could even still call yourself Baron, if you so wished." Hardestadt's final smile. before he was interrupted, was smaller than his last, but in a way more genuine. He was being generous, but he was also under no misgivings that the offer would be rejected, at least at this stage.

"The Camarilla are weak out here, as well you know, as well do they. He seeks LA as a bastion in a land he has failed to tame." The Cardinal spoke, his gaze flicking from Hardestadt to Yanci. "We control San Fransisco, they have failed to stop us there, they will fail to stop us here, should the time come." The Cardinal spoke more intensely when the matter of the Final Nights came to the fore, he may have been intelligent, modernising and put together for a Sabbat, but he was still one of them, still bore the title of their religion; "The signs are strong out here, and that time is approach, whatever the specifics of the date. Caine rises." Charles had never been one of the Sabbat to place too much faith in the specifics of prophecy, the fact they had been wrong according to a modern, kine calander bothered him not, but it was still a public failure of the Sabbat that he had to reference, or allow as a free weapon.

Whatever the effect of his words on the others, Henry tensed, inperceptible to those who did not know him. A roll of his joints hidden as a stretch, the tiniest flexing of a fist. The Sabbat may have been wrong, but they would be right when it counted.

The voice that came from Yanci Carolina was different, now; different in tone, different in intensity, different in every aspect except the feminine, but there was no mistaking the voice for Yanci's. The voice was Eva's. "Gehenna will come. I know this now. I see this now. Thank you for accepting my invitation, however this new information changes the very nature of the world of darkness. I suggest speaking to your elders."

There was a blink of Yanci's long eyelashes, and when her eyes opened anew, they were closer to auburn than their usual brown. One blink turned to a flutter of lashes, as Yanci adjusted to the sensation that she had been a passenger in her own body, and no more. When her lashes stopped, she knew she was back.

It did little more than inspire a sad smile on Yanci's face. "...I imagine, uh..." Her tone was fit for a Church now, her face looking more like she'd just woken up than the half-Brujah that was present just minutes prior. Her right index finger came up to rub the inside of her left eye, her mind straining with focus. "You know how to contact us should you have questions, or desire to speak to us. But, um...the Anarchs were never in charge, here. The Kid was, letting the Anarchs believe what they wanted, Eva kept him sane...until she stopped being able to, and then he forced us public, and SoCal errupted. That's the honest story. "

"Of course not, the Anarch movement is a sham, even on the shining sea of the West Coast, the younger of us need the guidance of the Elders, even if those elders hide away." Hardestadt was serious in tone when he spoke, looking at Yanci, but as if he spoke through her, to the voice that had only just retreated back away into the darkness. He smiled, once again, gently. It was not a comforting sight.

"And it is to the oldest of elders to whom we must suplicate, if we are to survive." The Cardinal spoke next, although once again his focus seemed to shift between his Camarilla counterpart and Yanci, again, not truly to the woman who was actually there.

Only Henry remained focused on her, actually her, impassive visibily, but bleeding concern behind his mask. It was disconcerting, that feeling, to have one's body driven by another, through the power of your bond alone. It was several moments after he realised he was staring before he refocused on the matter of the meeting.

"How long will you gentlemen be staying? I can provide direct lines of contact back to us, should you be leaving soon." A mundane question, but it distracted him, as well as serving a true purpose.

"I believe I will be leaving," The Cardinal spoke, already rising as he did so. "The warning has been given, and likewise, received. We shall see how these Final Nights play out." He nodded to all those assembled, including his Camarilla rival, before making his way to leave. A true Lasombra, door's opened before him and he was soon lost in the shadow.

"He's just as insane as the rest. Far more dangerous, but just as insanse." Hardestadt spoke as he watched him leave, drumming gently on the table, before turning his focus back on the pair of hosts. "If we might have a word alone." He spoke to Yanci, although did not ignore Henry in his attentions. "If that is quite acceptable."

Yanci's head turned to Hardestadt slowly, as if traced his direction by some invisible fingertip just under her chin. Her words were her own, but given the slow, careful, way in which they were spoken she wouldn't have blamed Hardestadt for uncertainty in just who he was talking to. "...sure. CJ." The door was closing by the time she even named the Blood, his friends escorting the Cardinal to the Exit Tent. The Exit Tent was a really good time, as she remembered it, she doubted the Cardinal would have fun. He didn't seem the fun type.

A quick listen, and she was certain George and Matt were gone. Matt laughed, and complained, too loudly to not be heard eventually. George was the sneaky type. Clooney had a suspicion about Eva, about Yanci and Gwen, too. It didn't matter. It never did. They had their protections in place. There was a reason Hollywood helped the Masquerade, but was never threatened by it.

Her eyes didn't leave Hardestadt. Instead they studied him, briefly and with casual interest at best, before honey-brown eyes perched the brows above them. "Better?"

"It will do."

As the Venture spoke, the glamour of his presence fell away, blonde hair was replaced with brown, age lines and a bulkier form gave way to a younger one. The blue eyes remained, but they were flecked with yellow, his jaw sharp enough to cut with an edge. As he did so, the establishments security equipment began to stutter, not enough to compromise the facility, or even any surveillance of others, but Hardestadt the Younger would never be caught on camera, moving or otherwise.

"You spoke of your Sire in a manner few would speak of me, that is assured, and I can understand the precaution and care through which she has crafted Hollywood, and the Free State, I more than most." The manner in which he was speaking, in how he regarded both Yanci and Henry were palpably different. He was still Ventrue, but something of the hard extreme of his arrogance fell away.

"It is a noble work, worth saving, but Hollywood has stood for what? Pushing a century? You may think my work less profound, it may shine less bright and with less glamour, but it has stood since the Fall of Rome, and it is a work very dear to my cold heart." There were few enough that new of Hardestadt's great lie, and fewer still on this new continent. It was Henry that spoke next.

"The Younger." It was not a question, but a statement, dragged up from the memories of a man who had lived even then. It earned him a curt nod from the ancient Ventrue.

"So, you can imagine, that leaving the seat of my power is not something I take lightly, I am not here just to chat, to offer Camarilla protection, although that offer is very much real. I am here because the Final Nights approach, and most of us old, or powerful, enough to stop them are mad enough not to care." Hardestadt placed a card on the table, a number written across it, nothing more. "For matters which stem beyond our different alleigances." With that, the Ancient stood, patting down the exquisit, if simple, suit he still wore. No matter his form, whichever he wore, it seemed tailor made.

"Unlike my Sabbat counterpart, I will not be leaving your city immediately. Do feel free to drop by." Gradually the force of his presence restructured the glamour he weaved around him, the appearance of the elder Hardestadt returning to the fore.

Her eyes still never moved. They left Hardestadt sure enough; but only because he moved away and beyond her sight out the door. Yanci felt cold. The end was coming. Screw the guy who ran the Camarilla...Eva told her. It wasn't all Eva had told her, either; just all Eva wanted to share with the others. Los Angeles was about to get busy. In ways Yanci was having trouble imaging.

In ways she was certain Henry could imagine far better than she. "I need to talk to Gwen. Maybe a...supernatural apocalype movie that's bad enough to become infamous, and mocked endlessly with memes. Turn it into a pop culture fed joke. Enough actors and actresses owe us a bad movie. I'd say rush it through--but I suppose that was implied by making it 'bad' in the first place."

But that was just the rapid-fire damage control of her mind going off. Let it all process for a moment, and Yanci heard herself deeply sigh.

"Fuck. It had to be the City of Angels."
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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Kingfisher
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Tanto tempo fa
Un uccello fatale di nome
Incrociò in volo la freccia di un
Lungo le coste di lava
Per anni, pensando di essere

Lothaire Loynoia sat comfortably in his chair within the Ahmanson theatre, surrounded by a sea of well-dressed richings and socialites -whilst he himself wore a dark hand-tailored tux, and bow tie-. Up on the stage, beneath a swelling of bright stage lights, a lone female performer sung vigorously for the audience; her shapely figure hugged by a snug black dress.

Scappò dalla freccia
Chromaggia, chromaggia
Perché non affronti il pericolo?
La freccia era legata all'ala
E lei volava per liberarsene.

Although his posture was strong and firm, Lothaire allowed himself to relax as the music washed over him; reveling in the silky twinge of the harpsichord, and the rhythmical bellowing of the opera singer.

Tirando la freccia
Altri son ferriti per mia colpa
Mia colpa
Giú! verso la bocca del diavolo
La sua freccia, i miei occhi.

As the final performance of the evening reached its euphonious conclusion, the audience replied with a warm and hearty round of applause, before a steady stream of the crowd slowly started to file out of the concert hall; making their way into the lobby.

Stalwart pillars of light cream stone stood in the entrance hall, surrounded by walls of crisp white, but Lothaire was more interested in sampling whatever wines were on offer than admiring the architecture, so he politely glided his way through the crowd, until he reached the bar.

Once he’d acquired himself a glass of red, Lothaire cooly made his way into the shadows, when a familiar voice summoned his attention.

“Doctor Cervantes!”

His ears pricking up at the use of one of his many aliases, Lothaire turned to see a woman and a man, both smartly dressed, slipping out of the throng of audience members to approach him. The man was fairly unremarkable in Lothaire’s eyes, but the long golden hair of the female figure elicited a slight flutter from the vampire, as it flowed like tresses of honey down her slight shoulders.

“Miss Rousseau,” Lothaire greeted the woman with a calm smile as she walked over to him, sipping ever-so-gently at his glass of wine “it is always a pleasure to chance upon your presence.”

“Elijah,” the woman said, turning to her male companion “this is Doctor Cervantes; one of the artists featured in my last exhibition.”

The two men exchanged a firm handshake; Elijah’s own skin being a fair deal rougher than Lothaire’s.

“That was quite the splendid collection of work,” Elijah chirped excitedly “which painting was yours, Doctor?”

“The Arc-Traitor, frozen at the heart of treachery,” Lothaire explained “I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the exhibition, Elijah.”

“Ah, that fucking creepy one,” Elijah said with a laugh, prompting a soft chuckle from the others “it certainly stuck in my head.”

Lothaire gave a sharp smirk.

“That emperor, who sways the realm of sorrow, at mid breast from the ice stood forth; upon his head three faces, as six eyes wept tears of bloody foam.” He recited, swirling his wine in one hand.

“The Doctor always did have something of a morbid fascination with hell, Elijah.” Rachelle Rousseau teased, shooting Lothaire a playful grin.

“Not morbid so much as it is...merry.” Lothaire reasoned, taking another sip from his wine.

“Right, well, I’m off for a smoke, but I’ll leave you two to your...merry fascinations. Nice to meet you, Doctor Cervantes.” Elijah slipped away with a slight bow of his head, vanishing into the crowd.

“You’ve become such a cliché of yourself, Lothaire,” Rachelle laughed, “Oh-so-dark-and-sulky.”

“I pride myself on my passions,” Lothaire countered “a man should enjoy his vices.”

“As should a monster.”

“You call me a monster, but are we not all cursed to walk until Gehenna? To spread like a plague across this earth?”

“Perhaps,” Rachelle said, with a slight air of sourness “I suppose we’ll see, in the nights to come.”

“Indeed we shall, Toreador. Indeed we shall.”

Hidden 5 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Rawk
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Rawk Perfectly Broken

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Sometimes the most peaceful places on earth are those closest to the earth, or more specifically, within the dirt, beneath the surface and all it's chaos. Away from the sights and sounds of the things once loved only to discover it was merely noise and interference to distract your mind from what was really needed. Peace. A time to reflect on things.

Nicolaus stood in front of the large tree -the “lone Cypress” as it was referred- dressed in his usual dark gray Armani two-piece and holding a solitary purple dahlia which he placed at the base. The light breeze off the Pacific was cool and crisp that evening, and calm enough to give a gentle push to each wave as it splashed against the rocky sea wall. The Cypress tree itself had remained for almost two hundred and fifty years along the coastline of Monterey County’s Pebble Beach, overlooking the ocean and enduring the harshest of conditions. Around the mid-twentieth century, a fire was started (some say by the newly formed Anarch movements) scarring much of the tree’s surface and killing off anything else around it, but its roots were deep and stubborn, allowing it to slowly regenerate and thrive once again. It was there that the ashes of his beloved companion remained, deep within the rich soil, granite, and embedded roots of the ancient Cypress. This was her spot, or more importantly, theirs, but the tree itself held a special place in her heart nonetheless, as it never ceased to survive all those many years on its own. Bowing but never breaking to the harsh changes, roaring crosswinds, storm surges, arsonist fires, toxic paints from graffiti, or anything else that could be thrown its direction. It stood the test of time, and its resolve only became stronger. Liz had, on many occasions, compared the tree’s life to that of the nearly four hundred years of Nicolaus Strom’s own, one where he’d endured the challenges that time brought with it only to come out of the forge hardened and refined. It was one of the many qualities that grew them both closer to one another over the years.

The Ventrue struggled during the infancy of their courtship, wanting very much to bring her into the fold of kindred society, not as a mortal, but as one who could live -or perhaps even outlive- him. But at the same time, it was his love for her humanity that kept the beast at bay, and the respect for her wishes, as she was in no hurry to become a monster.

“I don’t want to be like your kind, Nico. Like any of you. And you know this.”

Elizabeth’s words echoed through his mind as they had several times in the past, knowing that her mortality was the only thing she had cherished in a world fallen to the most vile of creatures, and living in an eternal darkness was not her idea of “living” at all. Her Romany heritage, a proud line dating back countless centuries, were the more adamant-willed of mortals living through the threats of vampires, werewolves, wraiths, changelings, and any other supernatural entity thrown their way, holding onto humanity until their dying breath. They wanted nothing to do with the underground realms where nightmares thrived and erupted over the earth in waves of plague and pestilence. Her people were Hunters of his kind, choosing never to fall prey to the ravaging teeth of darkness and betrayal. Nicolaus knew of this, but he also knew that ever since the day he saved her from the raging apartment fire that consumed her family over fifteen years ago, she was indebted to him until her last days, and he would protect all that she was, even if from herself.

And yet life would have it’s last laugh on the elder vampire, the ironic twist of fate that he’d not expected as the same flames that destroyed the very foundations of the Sunset Lounge and its symbolism of Kindred neutrality, had also consumed the one person he was unable to save that day. But it hadn’t been the fire that was to blame. Elizabeth’s body was found buried under the pile of rubble and ash, burned beyond recognition, her hands and feet appeared to be bound by whatever was left of the thin cable used. Nicolaus could scarcely believe it was true, however, it was the very jewelry she wore, albeit misshapen by the extreme heat, that was enough to convince him otherwise and the realization that he had lost her forever. Question after question swirled around in his mind for days, which then turned into weeks, and months, almost negating the mourning process he’d kept bottled up inside while he used the resources he could to uncover the truth as to just why the hell she had been there in the first place, and who was responsible? The answers were, for the most part, right under his nose the whole time but sometimes the most obvious place is the last one you’d even begin. While still attempting to maintain a decent level of anonymity, Nicolaus dug through layers of FBI files, which were then cross referenced with those that the Camarilla held as “bargaining chips”, only to find out that Elizabeth Salahari had been blacklisted by both, as well as considered a “person of interest” due to her witch hunter ancestry, a stigma that was held over her head for many years within the kindred community.

Those kindred and kine closest to Nicolaus knew of the couple’s long-standing relationship, and in as many who did not approve with the Ventrue’s lifestyle and choice of company, they respected the vampire enough not to push the subject or cause strife within the ranks. The Elders, most set in their ways reaching back countless centuries, were more concerned of a conscientious mortal who had not yet gone through the ritualistic blood-bonding process to become a ghoul and allow her master to keep his retainer in line. However, over the years the young lady had given little reason for them to suspect anything that would otherwise be a breach of the Traditions, and had forgone any further probing.

But clearly it never truly ended, at least not under the many layers of lies and deceit. As it so happened, the very organization he served snuffed out the one glimmer of light within the vampire’s otherwise dim world. A most unforgivable act indeed, but one he’d simply had to live with regardless of the pain. For over a decade, Nicolaus had held the title of “Archon”, employed as one of several agents of the Justicars, leaving very little room for personal attachments of any kind. How their relationship survived as long as it did was beyond even the Ventrue’s comprehension, but it was simply delaying the inevitable.

Even Elizabeth knew it to be true.

The subtle chime from his cell phone pulled him out the reverie he’d inevitably fallen into, allowing it to ring a few more times until it transferred to voicemail. If Nicolaus enjoyed anything about modern technology, it was that you needn’t be so quick to answer a call when the person on the other end could just as easily leave a recorded voice message. Or...a text message, which is exactly what followed, as he pulled the phone from his pocket and clicked the screen on, narrowing his eyes to adjust to it’s abrupt brightness as it then immediately dimmed, calibrating to compensate for the lack of surrounding light.

[ Sender: SRW ]
Cary Grant’s “Walk of Fame” star isn't looking so good.
A polishing perhaps?
5am and not a millisecond later.

Nicolaus shook his head as he switched the display off and returned the device to its resting place in his front pocket. If it hadn't been bad enough that he was subjected to bi-weekly polygraph tests as well as general psychological evaluations, the one appointed to handle such matters was an insane yet brilliant Malkavian named Doctor Samuel Roger Withers, also enjoying to refer to himself as “Mister Rogers” after the children's television show from the late 1960s. Why? No one really knows or cares. Needless to say, his brand of humor didn’t sit well with most of the Agents working under the Justicars, but thankfully his position was not absolute and it was maybe less than an hour every few weeks that one had to endure the vampire’s nonsense. The evals themselves seemed necessary to an extent, but it was also the Camarilla’s way of ensuring loyalty amongst their Archons and those who served them, drilling each agent with questions about their personal and professional lives, which may or may not be used against them in future hearings.

Leverage was always the name of game. Although, this time around, it was no coincidence that he was being called in for an early evaluation.

Nicolaus headed back toward the black Maserati Quattroporte parked along the gravel road that lead toward his previous spot, and climbed into the driver's seat, realizing he had about a five hour drive ahead of him in order to make it back to Los Angeles in time. He revved up the engine, listening to the roar of the twin-turbo V8 as he sat idle for a few moments, his eyes staring directly at the black matte finish business card propped up on the dashboard, which was handed to him only days ago by a mere messenger boy of the Camarilla. The front of the card simply showed the name “Hardestadt” in a heavy gold foil lettering, with the subtext of “Consulting” in a lighter font type along with a phone number. On the back, hand-written in silver ink was pretty clear message from the owner of the card:

Mr Strom. We need to meet soon.

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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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Los Angeles
US Bank Tower

The bird's eye view of LA was something to be admired, a city of countless dreams, extreme, failings and triumps, expressed in a gridlock of lights, stretching as far as one could see. All the dirt and glory of humanity beated down into a series of bright shapes, etched into the Earth.

Hardestadt thought of this to himself as he gazed out across the sprawl. L.A may have been the territory of others, but the Camarilla played a part in the lives of most global companies. It was fairly easy to acquire himself a temporary office in one of the city's grandest towers, and, at least, the one he felt most visually pleasing.

He strode back towards his 'new' desk. The office had been the work station of a man who had spent his entire lifetime climbing the rungs of whatever firm owned this particular space, scrabbling away to attain his goals. Human lifetimes were so very short, to have fought so hard, for so little. It was to be admired, really, if only the Kindred commonly showed such zeal. Still, the man had found himself shunted back to whatever perch he previously occupied, probably something similar merely a floor down, for the time being.

The desk was not overly grand, apart from its surroundings, functional, a work place, Hardestadt could appreciate that. He'd seen far too many obsidian monstrosities to ever feel respect for someone based on their inclination towards dramatic desks. After yet another momentary distraction, Hardestadt focused on the files before him. Hard copies, none of what he was reading would ever be transfered to the risky sphere of electronic communication. While the force of technology had done wonders for the reach of the Camarilla, it provided another avenue for attack, one they could ill afford with such matters. Pages of worrying reports, of elders and their abuses towards the younger generations of kindred, of uprisings and the efforts to put them down. It galled Hardestadt, not because he felt much in the way of remorse for the young, but that the ancients of his people would risk so much simply because of a lack of tact.

Sighing in exasperation, he tossed a particularly troublesome report aside, just as the intercom spoke to him;

"Mr Hardestadt, a Nicolaus Strøm to see you, Sir." The receptionist assigned to him was pleasant enough, capable to protecting his authority without aggrevating guests in the manner that so many L.A. Kindred could do.

"Very good. Please send him in." He replied, before releasing the reply button on the device, standing, as the onyx doors to the room opened gradually, automatic, when guests were expected. Hardestadt was a man of easy authority, but he had not forgotten the boon of decorum in all his years, moving around his desk to greet the man.

"Archon Strom, a pleasure." The handshake was firm, as expected, but as always, the spark of Hardestadt's inescapable command of presence flaired along the contact. Even if he could hide his power from those attuned to it, it was doubtful he would, it was always profitable to remind his fellow Kindred that were he to truly focus, they would kneel before him before they could strike.

"Please. Sit." He motioned to the chair before the desk, before returning to his own, collecting the files atop the desk. None had been left open, but it was always good to collate.

"Tell me, how do you percieve LA?"

Nicolaus didn’t make a habit of guessing another’s appearance or even their personality based on a business card, but sometimes a few lines of text -or in this case, a gold-foil letter- is enough to build a sound hypothesis. Although if the immense Bank building of classic construction and elegance, along with the tall, black double-doors leading into Mister Hardestadt’s office from the lobby wasn’t enough to convince him, then the very aura being projected from the other as they shook hands was sufficient. The subtle, yet potent effects of his presence was something Nicolaus had not experienced in a very long time from another Kindred. On the lower end of the spectrum, such tactics were generally employed to gain the other’s trust and allow for a more peaceful exchange, but it was also a double-edged sword as it gently reminded the recipient of just who was in charge.

“Thank you.” The Ventrue nodded as he settled into the dark tanned leather-bound chair facing Hardestadt across the desk.

The question came as a bit of an abstract, and Nicolaus supposed he could have spent more time mulling over the correct answer as though there were one, but after a moments pause he simply echoed the sentiments of what most elders felt already.

“On the surface, Los Angeles is the epitome of success and reward for those willing to work hard. A place that builds up and tears down on a daily basis, but still manages to survive the night.” His tone was smooth and even, and eye contact never wavering from the other. “Peel all that back however, and you get a city that is youthful, irresponsible and complacent. And like most liberal areas in this country, it is a city on its knees begging for leadership but too proud and stubborn to ask for it.”

As the Archon answered, Hardestadt's gaze did not leave him, the Ancient seemingly content to give the younger kindred his full attention, at least for the moment. He nodded slowly to the man's response, not neccesarily an affirmation, but a recognition that he was listening.

"Such is the way of the Anarchs, to hate what they need, and to shun those who provide it." For now, the Elder's sight returned to the files on his desk, opening one and flicking through the contents, before he responded any further.

"Los Angeles has always had leadership, although not all of them knew it. One of the more...egregious, excesses, of the Toreador clan forced many into exile. A particularly successful disapora have been crafting the city from its outset, not a minor accomplishment." He cast the file aside once more to return his focus to the Archon, a faint smile across his lips.

"This hidden leadership has become public, but under a different figure, I am sure you are aware of the new Baron, she's an...interesting, character." Hardestadt almost laughed, it had been a while since someone had dared to speak to him so, beyond their final desperate moments. Refreshing.

"I do not know where their previous leader, an elder, now in torpor, is resting, but that is irrelevant. I have no need to push into the politics of this city, for now. Whatever previous tasks you have been assigned are moot, your activities in this city are being narrowed to two purposes." Another file was selected from the table, but this time, handed over to the Archon.

"It is imperative that the Sabbat not be allowed to extend their territory into the city, with the fall of San Fransico, I expect them to at least make the effort. You will work to counteract these efforts, 'quietly' I do not wish it to appear that the Camarilla is supporting the Free State openly." The Elder paused before continuing, this time, tapping on the file he had just handed over.

"Secondly, the Baron has a right hand, a man who goes by the name of Henry Locke. He is not something I have encountered before, and when you've lived as long as I have, that can become somewhat troublesome. Find out who, or what, he is. I believe this will be fairly important to the future of this city, and where its loyalties lie." Hardestadt's tone grew more serious, more the commanding elder, than the elitist businessman, on this final matter.

"That will be all."

The Venture did his best not to allow the satisfying smirk that was hidden deep behind the emotional mask he wore to surface, but he was very much looking forward to giving the Sabbat as much hell as possible, perhaps even grounding several of them into the dust of the earth along the way. Since his separation from the Black Hand over two hundred years ago, the anger and resentment of the sect allowed him a resolve that would never waver from its course, never simmer as endless time passed, and would always be in the forefront of his memory to remind him that they will always be the enemy. And while this fueled a passion to write the so many wrongs of his past, he had to ensure that personal feelings would not cloud better judgement.

“Very good sir.” Glancing at the file folder for but a moment, he nodded to the other in acknowledgement and stood from the leather chair, causing a slight creaking sound from the old wood and joints of the furniture.

He remembered Henry Locke, although aside from slight insignificant details and perhaps a generally positive attitude that he most likely wanted others to see on the outside, he knew little of the ex-proprietor of the Sunset Lounge. But such was the way of things. There are those who keep away from the public eye of humanity, and then those who entrench themselves even deeper, hiding from the Elders and Justicars of kindred society, only resurfacing when events begin to shift in their favor. Nicolaus held a certain respect for Locke based only on what he knew of the vampire, but everyone has a secret.

“If I may ask, sir.” His tone was curious, as it should be, considering he was quite unsure of just what role Hardstadt played in all of this. “As for the relay of communication, shall we work directly or through a proxy of your choosing? I am fine either way. Although I have many trusted eyes and ears throughout this city, and so a recommendation is possible if needed.”

"I will likely remain in LA for a few more days, I believe my secretary can provide you with a number to call should you need to reach me in that time, beyond that, I do not foresee this city requiring my direct touch." The elder Ventrue kept his focus on the younger as he stood and moved away, he smiled as he responded, but it was not from kindness.

"What I have tasked you with goes beyond the authority of any other contact or mission you recieve, I would be careful to not....frustrate, other Elders of prominence, but be under no illusions, I want LA to remain as it is, and I do not want to have to directly involve myself again. I will contact you if your work is lacking, see that it is not." While he lacked warmth, Hardestadt's tone was not intentionally threatening either, petty threats and intimidation were beneath him, and he respected the work of the Archon too much to believe that he did not already know what the state of play between them consisted of.

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Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Briza
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Briza Roach / ★

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𝓔sther 𝓟uniceus
ᴘᴇᴘᴘᴇʀᴅɪɴᴇ ᴜɴɪᴠᴇʀsɪᴛʏ's sᴍᴏᴛʜᴇʀs ᴛʜᴇᴀᴛᴇʀ | ᴍᴀʟɪʙᴜ, ᴄᴀʟɪꜰᴏʀɴɪᴀ

Carefully tapping her slender fingers in the shadows, Esther stared at the milky skin beneath her silk, black lacework. No matter how modern the drama, it was always fundamentally the same thing. She preferred the classics for this reason. It dumbfounded her that Malkavians could get so lost in the unnecessary simplistic theatrics of this world. However, it also dumbfounded her that Malkavians could see the future in so helpful of a manner. There was mystery in all their weaves. However, she could not have been more more bored at watching the little girls sprinkle their ballerina toes on stage.

Not only was the theater less than spectacular in comparison to the baroque displays of Imperial Russia; nor, the arts being exasperated in comparison to this postmodern era of the Western World, lacking the ornate peasantry of elegant leaflets and delicate intricacies, but the sparkles of glitter reflecting from the girls' cheeks were all too posthumanist for Esther's interest. They would have to work harder to flourish at this rate. Their fundamentals were so bare and dry, and the fluidity of their limbs were wandering through the raspy air like stillicide and icicles, fighting the puritanical, straight tatting with their flounce and flamboyancy. There was more than a play birthing on the stage. There was a historical fight re-announcing itself under yet another veil.

O, drama. How depressing.

Her head tilted slightly, eyelashes brushing closed against her pale cheeks in the darkness of the room. A yawning thumb slid to gently touch the rim of a gold ring placed upon her middle finger. No matter the redundancy, there was a reason she had gilded herself to the more classical nature of theater arts, her time spent under Catherine the Great had made a complexly lasting presence in her. She could have been to blame for the travesty of the Third Rome’s abortion. However, she knew better than to scold such a figurehead. Perhaps, it was du Bois. Perhaps, it was Jean-Baptiste.

Esther opened her eyes and discreetly watched Peter’s reactions unfold. Each recital had shown her a different side of him. She was remarkably more interested in the Kindred’s childish reactions than the theatrical debacle performing a temper tantrum on stage. There was still respect to be made in obvious notes for their attendance, but such a compliment towards the nearly incomprehensible Malkavian, was as much passe as the late tsarina and her husband, Peter the Great.

O, Peter. He had caused so much controversy in that long dream. And, here he was, playing thoughtlessly and helplessly again, right next to her. He was a thorn in her side. It would be such a shame if something happened to him. He had some good in him -- it was not great, but it was worth the chase. He adored his supposed niece. Her golden locks were cupped into a bun, and her leotard was flounced with Yuri’s expertise, “Your little kotik,” Esther hushed lowly at the Malkavian. He was nipping his bottom lip in hungry, patient anticipation, as if he expected something different from the performance.

His head moved slightly in the ambiance; brown hair skirting against Esther’s cheek as his frame balanced an elbow on the arm of his chair. he grinned softly back at the Ventrue, slightly uninterested in her melancholy whims, “Come to us and stay the night, to rock our little baby. I will pay you, kotu, for your work - I will give you a piece of piroga and da, a jug of moloka,” Peter’s words were contritely sarcastic sounding in his lullaby. The brim of his nose touched her cheek playfully, creepily.

Pulling her hand from the cloth of her lap, she brought her fingers to her neckline, adorned with several a small golden cross. The lacework caught the outlines of the trefoil, and scrolled the outline of its motif and buds. The rich, ornate feel was cold to the touch, just like her. A small breath concentrated under her, “Your little kotik,” she nodded stoically towards the stage. The dim reflections caught her pale skin, gently maneuvering Peter’s attention back to the spotlight, again. As she rested her head against his childish, irresponsible foibles. For the time being, this spectacle was less depressing than the drama ensuing in Los Angeles. Her complacency was less than obvious.

There had been ruffles of rumors and smoke emerging from the sewers; all likely to find their stench under her nose. It was why she held it so high and inclined her neck for very few. Peter was one of those few, him and his little toys. All three of them. She had stayed away from the primelight successfully for some time. It had been her role in her first life and now this one, it seemed. She was always passing herself as one thing or another, but rarely was she ever herself. For now, she was Uncle Scott’s friend, who introduced little Annie to the art of mastering the grand pas de deux.

Esther and Peter had to be somewhere later, after the suite — affectionate and loving. The Kindred has long forgotten what that entailed. It had been something that embroidered her past, and now, after so many centuries, there was evidence that there was some sort of brilliant insight, which tied the nous of all the happenings, surrounded by this mystical, redundant phenomenon. The romantic desire for something; anything; everything; nothing — all at once, like a choreography: the world was dancing to a dark tune, and her most comforting lead was her date with a schizophrenic rabbit.

She was being pulled into the mess one way or another. Getting spun in the puppeteer's web was not too terribly hard after centuries of life being granted. Getting untangled was in itself another mystery Esther had long since been pondering with various intervals of defeat. Unfortunately, her dismissive slumber had ended. She was being summoned, again, down into the grave hole of her duty. The dance would be over soon, and the curtain would be closing. Merci.

ᴍɪʀᴀᴄʟᴇ ᴍɪʟᴇ | ʟᴏs ᴀɴɢᴇʟᴇs, ᴄᴀʟɪꜰᴏʀɴɪᴀ

Beneath the evening sky, the colors draped beautifully and lovely, as always. The three were sitting at a small patio table outside of an gelato parlor. Weather had warn on the materials of the table to add an antique flavor of fashion. Annie's face was powdered with ladylike features. It made her appear older and more mature. One of her hands, small and supple, draped its fingers into a loose weave with Peter’s own hand. She was licking the top sugar of vanilla and bubblegum ice cream scooped like a unicorn into a waffle cone. The excitement of the recital seemed to have settled, and the Malkavian’s focus had seemingly calmed to a passable level of vocal sanity, “Why didn’t Melissa come?” Esther's voice questioned passively but with a sharp silibance, indicating the unfortunate impatience she was feeling between the two guests.

A pause was given for him to answer, but like most Malkavians, his obedience had left with his sire. His dark eyes were staring at her, begging a reason as to why she would ask such a question. The pondering thoughts were scattered amongst a dismal expression of carelessness. He seemed oblivious to the nature of what was happening; the course of his own knowledge had ridden him lethargic and incapable in the event of Los Angeles' perpetual tragedy. He was true to his essence. He did finally reply though, “I did not want her to get jealous,” his answer was spoken in a polite, gentile manner, and his grip on Annie rose, as his eyes stirred from Esther and back to the youth of the little girl. An dull smile crept onto his lips, “of Annie.” His smile continued whimsicall, now directed at the Ventrue.

Before Esther could respond, supressed by her own lack of assumption and judgement to have even troubled with entertaining his response, Peter continued, “And of you, of course, my kotu.” His eyes played with both Annie and Esther in his mind; an obvious disorder was spinning in his thoughts, “I did promise you hoarfrost.” His spare finger dipped into the vanilla of Annie’s dessert and glistened the treat into the tip. Quickly, he tapped his finger on Esther’s nose, “White-Nose Syndrome has murdered millions of bats across America.” Annie giggled at her uncle's silly display, matching his Cheshire grin. The Ventrue swiftly tapped the cream from her skin, giving the reaction as if an itch had bothered her and caught Peter's hand as he was withdrawing it. Esther's silence continued in her silhouette of movements, and her palm guided the Malkavian’s own hand closer to himself, “It’s a good thing you’re a cat and not a bat,” he spoke smugly, as his personality resided back into the depths of his own uncharted imagines. His mind had already changed subjects; turned phases.

Esther released his hand, like a nurse to a patient slipping back into a therapeutic coma. She pitied the Vampire, sometimes. He was mad; his happiness was lost. His unyielding amusement with woman was to show. Unfortunately, tonight was not a night for a dispense in emotion. They would have to leave soon, and there was little room for the Malkavian’s nursery rhymes and idiosyncratic dialogue to interefere with age old conversations. Perhaps, there would be excuse the poor White Russian’s slurred alveolar ridge. No, Annie was older than a young girl, even if she retained many attributes of one. Peter and Annie had this in likeness, and Esther was not bothered enough to pry. The girl, however, smelled less innocent than her appearance — much like the tsarina and her pet unicorn with its broken glass horn.

“I also have a hat,” Esther leaned forward. Keeping Peter focused would be a good deal of business. Her elbow assumed on the table, and her cheek rested atop of her hand. Peter was already lost in the nightlight and the noise buzzing around them. Esther shifted her gaze to the Ghoul, “How old are you again, Annie?” Her eyes pondered over the young girl. Annie was fourteen, now, about the same age of when Esther had met Rodericus. Peter had no similarities to the altar server other than his mutual regurgitation of: O samaya svyataya ledi Bogoroditsy, svet moyey temnoy dushi, moya nadezhda, moya zashchita, moye pribezhishche, moy otdykh i moya radost'. His parents would be so ashamed of him, now. Tsk tsk. Not that he remembered much of his life before his embrace.

“I am eight,” Annie chimed in a youthful disposition. Her automatic response seemed like it had taken years to master. The girl smiled, revealing a flawed character of an eight year old. The shimmer in her eyes was older and more thirsty for knowledge than an ordinary juvenile. She had a dark corruption that an eight year old could only know from something outstanding such as abuse or force. To Esther, it was obvious the girl was an addict. The child enjoyed his kiss and her temporal immortality; she had even lost her youth before reaching the age of contemplation. Her types generally interested Esther. However, as a retainer to a Malkavian, she had a lack of reason that kept Esther from furthering her inquiry on the girl's state of affairs. The Kindred knew much better than to dabble with that. Her sire had taught her well. Losing dignity, especially in the face of madness was not one of the Truths of the Ventrue.

They would be leaving soon. The travel and small stop by Milk Jar Cookies was enough to passify the girl and the time while they waited for Saint Sophia Cathedral's Great Vespers to end. Esther was looking forward to the golden pomp and brilliant display of light fixtures. Peter hardly favored under the site; and often times he reunited with memories that left him haunted for days. For this reason, she had given him several gifts in hopes that he would mind himself. This was evidence enough that both were always nursing on a small mad hope, artistically caged to immortal imagery to which they had no real freedom; and no free man needs God. (Nabokov)
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by EvenGODSfall
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EvenGODSfall O ᴍ ᴇ ɴ

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Los Angeles – The city of fuckin’ angels. How quaint of a name for a city that is filled with more sin than a Nevada whore house. None the less it’s intoxicating allure of unrestricted sexual and mental desires had called to his ancient heart, six weeks to the day Syn had arrived into the warm embrace of Los Angeles and Hollywood in general. It smelt of cocaine, sex, abuse and alcohol all things exploitable to attract the human populace. Beyond the allures of all things sinful the city that had become home to internet sensations, vloggers and Hollywood stars alike bought of serene sense of classism that would benefit his vanity.

Syn had heard of the shifting elders attempting vying for the apex seat – for control of this fine state – and all that reside within. The filthy Sabbat that ruled San Francisco with an over indulgent fist in the name of religious fanaticism and then there was his own populace – The Camarilla. While considered an elder in rank Syn acted on the contrary often residing to his own desires and needs above that of his allegiances. He remembers it, the defect from the Sabbat and the war that followed. How they were all branded treasonous bastards and yet here the night was young and the Lasombra were still strong. Finally, he had heard of the Anarch Free State declaration that was imposed and held firm by a steadfast queen with a silver tongue. Queen’s be damned, the thought of such a happening in which none of the three major clans owned this city was simply… euphoric.

Having traversed many centuries across the tainted, corrupted planet considered home and its cultures, Syn had indulged in most of earth’s finest offers. An inherent addiction to the euphoric sensations of tasting simply the best. An addiction that had bought him to this free city where under the helpful guise of Hollywood and their constant fascination in turning Vampires from destructive forces of chaos to glittery humanoid seducer of the frightfully ugly via begrudgingly disgusting love stories to the point in which vampires in their truest form simply Do. Not. Exist. Now, under the guise of a nightlight rivalling Ibiza and Germany his kind, the kindred could boldly explore the city without reprimand.

With a wealth of knowledge gathered through the centuries lived by this youthful acquisition that simply appeared beneath a streetlight one night off Melrose, Syn had acquired an old factory estate in prime location for his vision. Over time the building took its form. A tasting gallery to which he called Gallery 66. The Gallery focused on only the rarest and most expensive brown spirits from across the globe with only a small selection of various wines for those so inclined. Barrels sourced from his childhood estate and across the country of France were imported to which Syn distilled his own small batch ranges of scotch.

It took time and patience to craft such a calibre of flavour each of his batches contained, time is an infinite resource to those who carefully prepare themselves. As such, he had begun his distilling prior to settling within the city – twenty-five to thirty years prior. Carefully the barrels were stored and left to age as his unique blends and refined tastes began to envelop the liquid. Syn had become a master of his craft (As he should be, having been a vintner for most of his indulgent life) and as such clientele ranging from presidents, Saudi Arabian princes and the wealthy waited years to receive their carefully chosen and inspected bottles – labelled only as De Rais of embellished copper on black.

Gallery 66 was Syn’s pride manifested into the physical realm. Carefully chosen materials bought a contemporary feel while rustic French and industrialist motifs remained with the use of bare brick and brass. The building was divided upon two floors with the main space belonging to the bar and a small seating space while upstairs had been converted into a seating space of beautiful handcrafted leather and alcantara couches with black steel framed and mahogany tables between. Fixated to the walls were various artworks he had procured including artworks from Monet, Picasso and Warhol. Beyond that relics from various cultures and time periods rest upon custom made stands.

As much as Gallery 66 was beautiful and fitting for at least thirty comfortably beyond the three staff it was rare to see a maximum of ten people at a time inside for their private tastings. Perhaps it is of his own volition or perhaps it is because of his potent vitae driven dominance and perfected vanity that drove people to the edges of fear, not of death but of their loss of will to defy the man.

Dressed to impress, immaculate care of all his garments and fashions saw him in tailored suits of various cool colour gradients. From the standard black three piece to the more casual navy blue two piece it would always accentuate his breathtaking features. Five o’clock shadow covered his razor-sharp jawline while heavy eyebrows and matching luscious black hair are immaculately shaped and teased into position. Neither a hair nor fibre are out of place and all garments are accented accordingly. Today saw the elder dressed in a patterned monochromatic button down with a tie of soft blues to match the shirt pattern. Tied in an elegant eldridge knot it bought a break of colour with a copper tie-clip. Over top he wore a vest of soft grey accented with ebony hem and matching slacks with high-shine oxfords upon his feet.

The reasoning for his attire beyond his vanity is that his sources and careful study of the kindred that surround him. Three bottles of a six-bottle batch of single malt with accents of honey had been carefully packaged in mahogany boxes with two glasses fitted within black silk and his business card of dark grey with elegant brass lettering saying Gallery 66 placed carefully within before being sealed and sent away. Their chosen recipients would be to a man called Nicolaus and the final two were sent to the Baron – a greeting from one elder to another that has not formally met and the other a gift for them to present to someone.

Perhaps he and Gallery 66 would have visitors tonight while the night is still young.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Ruby
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Ruby The Lost Girl

Moderator Seen 1 day ago

"They tell me she was lonely."

Her head tilted at the man, just-so, the detailed focus on the business at hand giving way to a crooked smile. The amusement in the moment had just been too much for Gwendalyn Vance to ignore. It was all Gwendalyn could do not to snicker at the man speaking on the subject of the woman that was still affecting them all, even beyond the torpor. "I'd ask who you heard that from, but..."

"...but it's bullshit, so why bother?"

Gwendalyn considered the question, her eyes arching skyward for a seconds of consideration. A long sip of the wine brought in just for her allowed her to decide the best way in which she should answer that follow up. "Hard to say. The only one who knew her that far back is Yanci."

The third person at the square table perked from his Baja Firecracker sushi roll. Soon as the sushi roll was placed before that third person, Samual Graham, the young man went to work on it. It was, to Gwendalyn, a rather darling site. She even had to ask if it was the man's first time to Nobi's, even though in all likelihood it had to be. Nobi's was too exclusive for a newbie actor like Samual Graham, and she would've known if anyone else had taken him to Nobi's.

That's just how Hollywood worked. Samual knew it, too, from the way he had kept to the safety of silence, seated adjacent to Rich Lord, the super agent, and the woman he knew simply as 'Gwen.' The super agent was a half-second from swallowing a quick sip of his own wine glass before Samual took the opportunity to ask the question he probably shouldn't have asked. Curiosity could kill way more than your favorite cat.

"Yanci? Is she the other one?"

Rich Lord near choked the last bit of his wine down, trying to force laughter, his eyes darting between Gwendalyn and Samual, "Jesus, Sammy, `the other one`?"

Samual Graham didn't look very sheepish or embarassed to Gwendalyn. The mistake was made, but it was a mistake born from the unknown, not lack of tact. The actor owned it, and shrugged at Rich. The exchange was quite the show for the tall blonde main attraction, prompting both a chuckle and a sigh as she shifted in her chair to sit a little taller in the dark wood stained chair with it's thick blood red cushion. "The short answer is yes. Yanci is `the other one.` She manages the non-Hollywood affairs of Eva's estate, and I handle the Hollywood ventures."

There was a noise only Gwendalyn heard, prompting her to switch her attention to the super agent, "Fifth time your phone went off."

Rich's face twisted, incredulous, "My phone is powered off. I wouldn't come into this dinner meeting with a phone on."

Then the super agent snickered at the suggestion. Gwendalyn stared, "I meant the one buzzing in your jacket pocket."

Rich grimaced, nodding, looking down at the spring rolls he never touched. She caught him red handed. Then again, Gwendalyn always caught Rich Lord's phone antics. The man was addicted to cellular technology in a way Gwendalyn hadn't seen since Rachel. That time a werewolf stole Rachel's phone? Probably the longest Gwendalyn had ever seen the Ventrue woman go without her phone. It was a sad statement. A sentiment of her's that, Gwendalyn knew, meant she was old. A thought that never sat well with the Kindred, prompting another sip of her specialty wine, big green eyes watching the super agent walk out of the private dining room in the back of Nobi's.

"So you're the big deal?"

It was so abrupt, Gwendalyn thought she was just hearing things for half of his heartbeat. But certain as the sun, Samual Graham was looking right at her. The sleeve of the white silk button up unbuttoned just enough to tease cleavage rode up on her forearm when she placed her glass back upon the tableclothed surface of their table. "What exactly do you mean?"

His smile was big, and bright, and came to him easier than a Santa Ana wind found Venice Beach. Samual Graham was, as any young potential actor, a good looking guy. Gorgeous, in actuality, but when being drop dead gorgeous was the status quo it was hard to find separation. The saying that beauty was in the eye of the beholder? Never was more profound, or apt, than it was for Hollywood. The right patron meant the difference between a career, and not a career.

"I'm not trying to be rude, or inappropriate, I think it's pretty clear I don't know the unwritten rules here."

Finally Gwendalyn smiled. "Yeah. In Hollywood, right now, I'm the big deal."

"Why is that?" He asked with eyes narrowed in the focus of his unbridled curiosity.

She answered the way she knew she shouldn't. "Because the real `big deal` is preoccupied. Hollywood was a large part of her life, and in her absence I'm taking it up."

"...I understood that. I'm wondering what made her such a big deal?" He leaned back in his chair, beautiful brown eyes widening as he expressed words and sentiments with hand motions, "Like, okay. You're," he said, motioning to her, "a `big deal`." Quotations he illustrated with both hands near his head. "Why? Is it just a money thing? Know all the right people? This may be the closest I get to my Hollywood dream."

"Make the best of it and live it with no fear?"

His pretty smile widened.

"I can respect that. Even reminds me a little of me, when I first showed up. So why are we the `big deal` where others are not? Or rather, why is she the big deal? She secretly founded San Diego, Los Angeles, and a number of other cities. Secretly turned Los Angeles into the city it is. She secretly began Hollywood, and ran it from behind the scenes ever since. All the decisions you attribute to super agents, studio heads, producers...all her at Hollywood's start. When we lost the rigid structure of the studio system, that was her doing, too. She decided more humans needed the chance to take artistic chances. So she let go of a lot of her direct control, and moved to a different approach where she comes in and out of projects as she pleases, usually to make just the right change or tweak; acting change, directing change, story tweak, even just a single line of dialogue."

He was staring, and hard, now. "You're telling me there's a small group of immortal insiders that run Hollywood from the shadows."

"We're not immortal. Just undead." Gwendalyn stirred in her seat, reaching across the small space between their bodies, and pressing her fingertips to the bottom of his chin delicately, the gentlest little push up. His jaw had dropped.

The touch was ice cold.

"Now...you have to kill me? Bite me? Suck my blood? Why tell me?"

She shrugged, casually. "I could get into a lot of trouble for that. We're not supposed to reveal ourselves. `The Masquerade` it's called. We've had a lot to do with it, too. Why do you think Twilight got made into a movie?"

Samual Graham snickered at the mere mention. "Book sales."

"She ever write anything else worthwhile? No. Kinda like someone planted in her mind a story about vampires that sparkle. So that maybe it could get made into a movie."

"...please tell me you don't sparkle."

Gwendalyn Vance gave her brightest, biggest, smile. "Only my personality."

Her wine glass quickly emptied of it's small remains, her body pushed back her chair, and stood. "C'mon, Sam. There's someone I want you to meet."
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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The Region of Yaa
3000 BC

The accursed Sun beat down upon them, the scattered few, as they climbed through the heat-cracked rocks of the foreign land. They had fled far, as far as one could flee, and still judgement burned from on high.

Lucifer surveyed the world around him. Even here, far from the cradle of Eden, man and life had begun to grow, to flourish. Already there had been wars and strife between the tribes of humanity, already one had crushed the other and given name to the dirt they died upon. His whole form tensed at the thought. It could all have been so different. He sighed forlornly as he turned to look upon what remained of his retinue, His hard expression turned to one of slight worry as he watched them. Heat and exhaustion had drained them, burns across their skin, ribs showing from lack of sustenance. Worst of all, he could sense the insidious growth of the cancers which plagued them. He did not know if that would be their end, ultimately, but it was a life of following him, regardless of their mortal frailties, that had brought them to this.

It could all have been so different.

"Stop. We are here."

The noise almost crashed against them, even hidden within a human shell, the power of the first Elohim was almost too great for a mortal human to bear. It was not unpleasant, he instilled as much hope as he did terror, but both were dangerous, both prevented any true guile. He would have to learn to hide more thoroughly.

Once they had recovered from the briefest pulse of Lucifer's power, the humans collapsed, setting about in the creation of a camp. They did not know he meant the end of their journey together, that this truly was the last 'stop' these three who had remained by his side for so long, but he would allow them to believe otherwise for the time being.

They had crested the rise of hills and mountains into a great basin, stretching out before them. Encountering the tribes that had recently driven off the original inhabitants, they knew its name to be Yaa. It had potential, the soil was fertile, despite the heat, and the sea was plentiful, as it often was. None of these things were why Lucifer had looked for this place, that was far beyond the scope of human frailty or prosperity, but he made note all the same. At least he was not abandoning them into the jaws of starvation for all time.

He strode away from them, as topics of conversation arose among them. The desert cloaks he was wrapped in whipping in the sea wind. Still they were stitched with the icons of Babel. The first great city, his city. Even with the failure of his first, desperate plan, Babel had almost enabled him to succeed regardless, but he had not known the extent of his father's punishment. Lucifer snarled with exasperation, not at the memory, but at himself. Dwelling on past failures, even recent ones, would aid no one, least of all the people, and the future, dependent upon him. He walked for hours, allowing the sea breeze to mitigate some of the scorching heat, lower, towards the sands. Towards the site he had never seen, but knew to be there. The map of the nascent Earth spread before him in his mind's eye, tracing the fonts of power, the web of energy that traced the creation of the Earth and its peoples. They would lie dormant, until they were not, and they would be the doom, or hope, of all creation.

At last he reached the spot. Nothing gave it away, no monument, no mystical font of life. Perhaps even his fellow Elohim could not have detected it like he could, but unlike the others he had helped his father to shape this Earth, and to him, the thrum of power was almost inescapable. He knelt in the sand, closing his eyes, and spoke the words of power. The Ancient language of his kind had been old before the Earth was even a dream, from when he and his siblings had danced across the eternity of the cosmos. To speak it was a reminder of the years, of the crushing eons that weighed upon him.

His essence bled into the ground, the touch of the First Son invigorating the dirt beneath him. The Sand turned to glass, the unrestrained touch of his true form anathema to this mundane world of dirt and rock. In the sky, the Morningstar shone, just bright enough, if only for a moment, despite the height of day. With one final word, Lucifer stood. Beneath him, a plaque of glass, trapping a fragment of a star, of him, the heart of an Elohim. With another bark of words, this time of the Sorceror's tongue, the lyrical verse of Babel, he cast the glass lower, deeper into the rock, far below, watching as dirt and sand poured to hide the effort of his works. He nodded, briefly, before setting to return to his followers.


"My lord, you cannot mean to-"

"I am no one's lord, Terial, nor did I ever claim to be. Not here" It was a noble effort, to argue with him, he could sense the strain in the man's body, it almost killed him to simply not throw himself at Lucifer's feet, to give in to the innate desire of any human to simply abide by the call of heaven. Curse you Father.

"We would stand with you, you must know that." Yenaria's voice was quiet, almost dangerous, as if she was daring him to argue with their conviction. Of the three mortals that still followed him, that had not departed on their given tasks or succumbed to the events that had stricken them, she had the most fire left, the most personality not bled away by the constant presence of his divinity, and the trials it had brought them.

"I would never doubt such a thing, it is I, that cannot stand with you." Lucifer admitted sadly, with his hood pulled down, the vaguely Babalite features of his mortal guise gazed upon them openly. He could pass for human from a distance, but up close, he was simply too flawless, his skin marble like and unyielding. "To walk with me now is to invite death, and you have been too loyal in your friendship for me to bring that upon you." Their protests were loud and immediate, but he had not the time. He had exposed his power for only a brief moment, and those that would hunt him might soon be upon them. For once, he waived them off dismissively, the slight touch of his power enough to silence them.

"But the task that I set you is of far more note than simply being my ally and friend, although I have, and will always, treasure you all. It is time that I resume my exile, alone, but we have prepared the foundations for an effort that will span the ages, but, will ultimately save all your kind." He could not be sure, but it was his best hope, to avoid the future God had tried to hide from even the Elohim.

"You are free to live your lives, however you may choose, farm, conquer, hunt, remain aloof. Forget me, but do not forget your task. Down the ages, you and your descendants will live upon these lands, flourish, but remain. One day I shall have need of champions, and from the corners of the Earth, they shall arise, bolstered by generations of proximity to the fonts we have mapped and altered across the world.
From here I shall draw my heart, one day, the child of your descendants so far flung, will prove my greatest ally. I know that this is bitter thanks for your dedication to our cause, but it is all I may offer."
He stepped closer as he spoke, watching their expressions as they grappled with the news he had forced upon them. They sobbed, for him to speak more than a few words was enough to break their resolve, even without the meaning behind them. As he finished, they embraced, all three, turned inwards, and away from him. It ached within him to see them so, who had been his closest companions, but Lucifer did not have the luxury of mortal bonds. Not now. Once he was sure they would manage no more protest, he began his journey alone.

Off, into the ages.

The Region of Yaa
Modern Day

The noise and din of the city crashed against Henry Loche as he walked the streets of Los Angeles. The one-time London gangster of some formal renown, for now hid in the very American garb of a Lakers hoodie, obscuring his features among the purple vestment. His right hand gently rubbed at the beard fostered upon his chin. A recent addition, following the fighting that had swept LA and his increasing role in the management of the city, he wasn't yet sure if he approved.

Snapping out of his personal review, his eyes turned to watch the shop across the street from him. It wasn't anything of note, a Seven-Eleven run by an old family of Eastern immigrants, they knew him well enough. He did not plan to go in today, to inquire after whichever daughter had just gone off to school in whichever state, although he would make a note to return on a social call soon. No, for now, he was tasked with the matter of preservation.

He saw them long before they telegraphed their intent. Being the owner of Sunset had enabled him to grow quickly accustom to the Brujah and their propensity to violence. That had probably been his first meeting with Yanci. The thought made him chuckle, even as he began to cross the street. Something hard and metallic slipped from his back pocket, concealed by the length of his sleeve.

Three males. Gang tattoos. No obvious religion iconography. Not Sabbat

The thought made him frown slightly. If these weren't Sabbat, the threat had spread beyond those most vulnerable to mania.

The shop had been one of the locations tied to conflicts prior to the recent civil war. Of the artifacts the Sabbat wanted. One had been seen for sale as a knick-knack in said shop. He calmed himself slightly, even if these particular Brujah were not Sabbat, that did not stop them wanting to claim the bounty put out by them.

"Evening Gentlemen." He strode right into their path. They were burly men, even before the strength and boon of unlife they had not been used to others challenging their direction of choice. Henry was not a small man, he stood imposingly enough, but each could rival him in size, and there were three of them. Bikers

"Oh look, it's Mary Poppins." One of them spoke up with a laugh, earning a smirk form the others. A flash of fangs from all three.

"Oh. British accent. Yes, terribly original." Henry replied. Their arrogance was making them sloppy. The fact only one of his hands rested infront of him could not have telegraphed any harder that his obscured hand held a weapon. He could have taken this more seriously, but it had become something of a game. Just how useless would he had to be for one of them to finally get the slip on him.

"Think you're in our way, Poppins." One of the others spoke up, frowning at Henry's return-snark, all three took several steps towards him. He could sense the vitae flowing in their veins, reinforcing their already supernatural abilities. They were gearing up for a fight. Good.

"Interestingly enough, that's exactly where I intended to be." Henry continued, allowing his shoulders to relax. While vitae flowed to their muscles, strengthening them, Henry's skin hardened, reinforced by a surge of his own abilities, not that they'd notice.

"And why would that be?"

"Well. Because I don't want to get hit by the truck."

"What t-"

Somewhat predictably, the speak was cut off. Predictably, because even for a kindred, it's quite hard to talk when being rammed by a multi-tonne vehicle going somewhere above the speed limit. The driver was one of Henry's best, enough that he trusted him to pull off the obvious show of force without more than the necessary collateral. The vehicle had hit all three, before careening onwards into the wall of a multi-story car park. The structure was sound enough to take the blow, as planned.

The turn had been ludicrous, speeding by, it had taken every iota of anticipation and simple gift-from-God ability for Max to have turned the moving vehicle off the road, and then perpendicular to the group of Brujah. It had, of course, killed some of the momentum, but that was why Henry had brought a knife.

One of the Brujah was little more than paste, whether it had caused Final Death or not, he would be out of the fight. One was still pinned beneath the vehicle, but a third had escaped, very much from simply being hit hard enough to bounce off the structure before the truck could pin him to it. To his credit, he was up and on Henry before a moment had passed, a vicious snarl and a ferocity that could almost be a break in the Masquerade, were the people of Los Angeles not entirely used to the actions of roid-rage gang bangers. His first swing caught Henry on the shoulder has he rolled it into his path, keeping him from a direct blow to his head. The force rippled through him, enough to register despite his supernatural pain threshold. With a grunt, he spoke;

"There's your one."

The Henry became a blur, his fingers grasped the Brujah's fist, the one that had just struck him, before with a sickening crunch, he inverted the hand's bones, his own suprior strength turning the Kindred's fist to mush. The Brujah didn't have time to react even to howl before the knife came up. Not a kill blow, not for a Kindred, punching into the reverse armpit of the combatant. Both arms paralyzed by pain responses, even for a vampire, the Kindred had no defence against the consecutive knee-blows driven up into his chest. When Henry allowed him to collapse to his knees, a simple backhand was enough to send him into the deepest torpor the 'young' kindred had ever felt the need to.

Of course by now there was screaming, people running from what was undoubtedly yet another scene of gang violence, albeit a somewhat dramatic one. It was a shady enough part of Los Angeles that it would take some time for the police to respond, even if Henry's associates were not currently redirecting calls.

Max groaned as he rolled himself out of the van. Thin and lanky, the wiry individual was a gangrel embraced at a somewhat awkward stage of adolescence. His limbs were slightly too long for the rest of him, but they held the supernatural power of his clan, and once he had recovered from the impact, a swift blow to the temple of the pinned-Brujah finished off the last potential source of resistance.

"Lets get these three to lock-up, might need a shovel for the first." Henry spoke as he dragged his now sleeping assailant over to the other three, looking down and the bloodied mess that was the three would-be-attackers. "It seems they still need a reminder we're not tolerating Sabbat bounties." Loche exhaled, even as Max began the work of extracting the injured from beneath the wrecked vehicle.

"Public execution?"

"No Max, I'm not a fucking Consul of Rome." Henry lent down to aid him, deadpanning as the Kindred turned to look at him incredulously.

"Well. Not for a long while."
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Kingfisher
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Kingfisher Observing or participating?

Member Seen 3 days ago

“Soooo, waddaya think?”

Lothaire placed the 12 gauge shotgun down on the bed in front of him, turning to address his contact.

Robert Gurendel was unmistakably Nosferatu; with a face that looked as though it had been hacked apart, and then badly stitched back together again. Twisted, goblin-like, ears sprouted off of the sides of his head, and his rancid mouth was stuffed full with teeth that were reminiscent of some old horror movie monsters. Gurendel wore a plain grey hoodie, underneath a faux leather jacket, and the repugnant stench of the sewers clung to him like vulchers to a rotten carcass.

“It certainly looks like it will do the job,” Lothaire gave a curt nod “but I’m more interested in the ammunition.”

Lothaire and Gurendel held their meeting in a run-down roadside motel, with peeling wallpaper and beds that were stained with god-knows-what. It was the last place one would expect to find Lothaire Loyonia, which was exactly why they used it. The Baali had traded in his tailor made suits for jeans and a hoodie, and had gone so far as to switch out his usual cologne for a much cheaper body spray. These slight deceptions, partnered with his use of obfuscation when need be, all worked towards making sure that Lothaire could carry out his business without interruption.

Of course, there was always an element of risk involved in these dealings, so the vampire tried his very best to keep them to a minimum.

“Right, the Dragon’s breath rounds,” Gurendel reached down with his long, gnarled fingers, flicking open the briefcase he’d brought with him, and fishing out a bright red shotgun shell “you can always count on ya boy to deliver.”

Lothaire graciously took one of the shells from the Nosferatu, spinning it softly in his fingers.

“You’ve never given me any reason to doubt your credibility, Robert, and I’ve always found our dealings to be both pleasant and professional.” Lothaire gave the Nosferatu a nod of approval as he spoke.

“Ey, you too, man.” Gurendel grinned, showing of his movie monster teeth.

“That said,” Lothaire chimed in “I unfortunately feel obliged to emphasize just how regrettable it would be for you to try and deceive me in this particular transaction.”

“My word is gold, boss,” Gurendel promised “trust me on this.”

“I’m inclined to believe you, Robert.” Lothaire smiled.

The use of his Presence discipline wasn’t needed for these meetings. Robert knew not to fuck with Lothaire Loyonia.

“You’ll be takin’ the stuff then, Mista’?”

“I do believe so.” Lothaire gave the Nosferatu a slight inclination of his sculpted head.

“That’s what I like to hear.” Robert said, with a grin that Judas in hell might have been proud of.

The Los Angeles night was humid, bordering on muggy, but to the dead man everything just felt rather unremarkably chilled. The Skull and Serpent wasn’t exactly what Lothaire would consider an enjoyable night out, however he had a very specific purpose for calling at this particular bar, that was part of a much larger scheme of his.

Slipping furtively into the back alley behind the Skull and Serpent, with his recently acquired shotgun resting inside a barrel bag, Lothaire made his way cautiously over to one of the bar’s large dumpsters, carefully moving the shotgun out of the bag, and sliding it underneath. Once he was done, Lothaire tossed the bag over one shoulder, and made his way round to the front of the bar.

Lothaire had come dressed in a leather jacket and crisp black chinos; all part of a getup that gave the impression of one trying their best to blend in with the general vibe in this part of LA. The Skull and Serpent had become quite a popular mixing pot for Los Angeles’ more macabre community, and its strings were being pulled by a kindred who had started to take a rather unwelcome interest in Lothaire, which was precisely why he had decided to give the bar a visit.

The Skull and Serpent itself had a rather battered, rundown appearance, but whether this was due to neglect or a deliberate aesthetic choice by the owners was a matter of contention. The line outside the bar had whittled down to virtually nothing, and it wasn’t long before Lothaire was standing in front of a smartly dressed bouncer, who bore an incredible resemblance to a gorilla that had been shaved, and then stuffed into a suit, against its will.

“You on the list?” The gorilla grunted, peering down at the clipboard in its over-sized monkey hands.

“ I should be,” Lothaire gave a courteous smile “Stefano Cervantes.”

Lothaire had accumulated a rather impressive arsenal of false aliases over the course of his unlife, but the use of the same fake name that he operated under at the Ahmanson theatre was very much a deliberate choice of his. The proprietors of the Skull and Serpent were lackeys of Rachelle Rousseau, and Lothaire had every intention of making her aware of his presence here.

“Go on in.” the gorilla huffed, giving Lothaire just enough room to slip past him.

The interior of the Skull and Serpent was much like its exterior; disheveled, and unabashedly gothic. The lights were dim, the furnishings dark, and a series of twisted chandeliers were draped down from the ceiling. There was pleasant buzz of patrons, but the crowd wasn’t so big as to be uncomfortable. They were all black clothes, black hair, and black lipstick; with smatterings of occult jewelry, and skin like bleached porcelaine.

Lothaire couldn’t help but wonder how many of these customers would embrace the night if they truly knew what lurked out there in the darkness, and how many would cry and shit themselves.

The vampire ordered himself a simple glass of water from a bar that was decorated with all manner of eerie ornaments, before taking a seat at one of the few empty tables.

At the other end of the bar, a young woman with a winged rose tattooed on her exposed right arm was reading spoken word poetry into a microphone.

“With each cold, and rasping breath,
I sway closer, and closer to death,
And at the risk of sounding blunt,
I want to feel you inside my-”

Once Lothaire realised that the poem wasn’t his cup of tea, he retreated back into his own thoughts, shutting out the rest of the world around him. He took a small sip from his water, slowly counting down a generous three minutes.

That ought to be enough time.

The vampire nonchalantly stood up from his chair, slipping through the crowd, and back out into the night.

“Done already?” the gorilla grunted, as Lothaire stepped passed him.

“Just going for a cigarette.” Lothaire called back over his shoulder, wandering round into the back alley that he had arrived in.

The vampire took a few easy steps back down the alleyway, when he heard three sets of footfalls creeping up behind him.

“Lothaire Loyonia.”

Suppressing a smirk, the vampire spun on his heel, and turned to face the new arrivals.

In the centre of the trio, flanked by two thugs in beanies and wife beaters, stood a tall, dark figure, with swept back, dingy hair, and flesh like sculpted ivory. His eyes were slender, his goatee neatly trimmed, and he had a jawline that looked like it could cause some serious damage in a knife fight.

“Can I help you, gentlemen?” Lothaire asked, feigning confusion.

Lothaire knew the middle figure. He was Sebastian Alvarado, childe of Rachelle Rousseau. Lothaire could sense the slight aura of presence emanating off of the Toreador, as his well-dressed form came striding forwards. Alvarado was the only vampire of the trio, but there was every possibility that the others could have been ghouls.

“I’m afraid so,” Alvarado's voice was firm, and unwavering, like rough stone “my mistress tells me that you’re becoming something of a problem, and that cannot be tolerated.”

The Toreador swept forwards, and Lothaire made no attempt to counter as the vampire’s supernatural might smashed him across the face, sending the Baali stumbling to the floor.

The trio chuckled as Lothaire crashed to the ground, landing right next to a large dumpster.

In a blur of movement, Lothaire’s hands darted underneath the dumpster, fishing out his newly acquired 12 gauge shotgun. Alvarado’s eyes went wide with terror, just as a roar of blazing flame rocketed out of the end of the weapon, thundering through the air, and smashing into the Toreador. The Vampire’s form smoldered and shriveled as the Dragon’s Breath shells slammed into him, his necrotic shell lighting up with a fierce gush of fire, before crumbling into ashes, and plunging onto the ground.


One of the thugs made a move for his gun, but in a second Lothaire was up on his feet; using every ounce of his vampiric strength to ram his hand straight through the man’s rib cage. The thug’s chest exploded in a gust of bloody crimson, his lifeless body swaying, and crashing to the floor.

The final thug stumbled backwards, his body shaking and quivering. He made a move to run, but Lothaire grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, hoisting him up off of the ground with his gore-covered hand.

“Tell your mistress,” he hissed “to STAY OUT of my way.”

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Rawk
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Rawk Perfectly Broken

Member Seen 2 mos ago

“Why are you here, Nicolaus?”

The same question surfaced from the lips of the middle-aged Jewish man behind the glass counter more often than not, and yet he knew the answer that followed, as it was the same response given by the vampire each time he'd had to come around.


And yet on this particular occasion, his duty to protect Camarilla interests and gain much needed intel were once again being tested as one's reach clearly exceeded their temporal grasp.

“And the truth, Mister DeLeo.”

Wexler’s Market and Deli on South Broadway had been the first of many stops in the Ventrue Archon’s current investigation, knowing that the longtime owner and operator, Stewart DeLeo, would be more than obliged to assist considering a few of his failed businesses within California -the Market being one of them- recently resurrected via funds provided by Nicolaus and other non disclosed partners through various holding companies and shell organizations that co-labored with the Camarilla. It was a mere drop in the bucket as far as business ventures go, and the whole operation was essentially a front to launder money being collected by those underground organizations working for the Sect, and in some cases, directly with members of the Inner Circle. Through the process of “structuring", incoming cash was broken into smaller deposits of money, thereby used to defeat any suspicion of money laundering and to avoid governmental anti-money laundering reporting requirements. In addition to those safeguards, certain law enforcement officials were gifted a percentage of the “cleaned profits” in exchange for turning a blind eye. However, what the true concern was, the focus of the visit, and one of the leads to a greater cause, were recent dealings with a centuries-old enemy.

“Truth?” DeLeo asked with his best quizzical expression. “What ‘truth’ would that be, Mister Strom?”

If the little man had at least one solitary tell, it was his usage of the title ‘Mister’, which he rarely ever spoke when addressing Nicolaus, unless of course, he was apprehensive about a particular matter...

“You have disappointed me Stewart.” The vampire gazed at the other with a deadpan expression, deviating from the former friendlier visage that he'd greeted with only minutes earlier. “Tell me about the deal you’ve recently made with the Lewis Brothers meat packing plant, as well as the names of those involved.”

It didn't take a high degree of supernatural ability to sense that the mortal was becoming quite uncomfortable with the sudden interrogation, especially one taking place in the front area of his store, specifically . The deli was an hour from closing and DeLeo would rather not be within earshot of any remaining customers. But Nicolaus didn't have the time to wait, and the handful of people doing their last minute shopping were nowhere within range, a detail the vampire didn't miss.

“Before something is said that may be detrimental to the future of your business...” For a moment, the Archon turned his attention toward the unaware shoppers scattered about before returning his gaze to the man. “I would suggest an early closing.”

Allowing a sigh to escape coupled with a furrowed brow, but otherwise ceasing any further comments he’d had ready to interject, the owner stepped toward the P.A. system. “Unfortunately folks we will need to close early for the night, so...my apologies for the inconvenience. Please make your way to the register for checkout.” The man’s voice couldn’t have sounded more drab and monotone if he tried, and the grumbling echoes from the now hurried customers only added to his tension. The next few minutes found Stewart fielding questions about his abrupt closing and apologizing numerous times while ringing up specialty kosher food items, during which time, Nicolaus stood on the sidelines until the last of them were shuffled out the door and the electronic lock secured behind them.

“So, where were we?” The deli owner asked rather nonchalantly as he passed by the other to scoot around to the other side of the glass display counter.

The Ventrue stood in silence, arching a dark eyebrow slightly as he waited for an answer to his previous question.

“Oh right.” Deleo spoke up and nodded as though he'd just recalled. “Lewis Bros.”

“Look Nicolaus.” The man cleared his throat, and the vampire could hear the rapid thumping of his heart. “I haven’t forgotten what you’ve done for me, but I didn't know it was-”

“You ‘didn’t know’?” The Ventrue promptly interrupted, something he rarely did to another out of respect, but this instance was different. “Or you chose to ignore it in hopes we wouldn't find out considering the small percentage of funds passing through here? Is that a correct assumption, Mister Deleo?”

There was a pause from the other before he nodded in acknowledgement, sweat running down the side of his balding head.

“You're smarter than that.” Nico frowned, yet his tone remained calm and even. “Why had you not come to us about this first, per our original arrangement?”

Again, a long pause came from the owner as he appeared to be sulking in his failures, averting his eyes from the vampire. “They threatened me and my family if I didn't comply, and they knew your Association was involved, which seemed to entice them even more so, but never gave a reason.” Stewart clenched his fist as he continued. “They knew where I lived, Nicolaus, as well as the names and addresses of relatives. I was just...looking out for my family you see.”

Nicolaus stood for a moment contemplating the man's words, sympathizing at least in part for his decision under duress. And while the Archon already knew that the Sabbat had taken control of various meat and produce distribution businesses throughout California and beyond, interweaving themselves like a virus into an otherwise legalized system, he was curious as to their unusual way of doing it. If anything was known about the Sabbat within the kindred community, it was that they rarely did anything unnecessarily, and with enough preconceived planning, could go unnoticed for years until the time was right to surface. But this situation seemed different from their usual “sleeper cell" tactics, as though they were either being deliberate in their actions to eventually get caught, or they were becoming slopping out of desperation. In a way, Nicolaus figured it was both scenarios: anger and desperation for the loss of San Francisco, and to give the middle finger to the Camarilla in general.

In either case, Stewart DeLeo had been a victim in this, and as it usually went with the Sabbat involved, the mortal pawns in this game would be the ones who suffered for the “greater good" of their demented vampire master.

“Then continue your dealings with Lewis Brothers as normal.” The Archon finally responded after consideration. “However, our people will be keeping close tabs on their transactions specifically, and you will be required to check in with us every six hours, especially if they are to meet with you again. We want all details. Am I clear?”

The other nodded without hesitation, and while he knew very little about his “business partners”, or whether they were part of some kind of mafia, he knew that there was very little he could do to back out of the deal. Either side of the deal.

“So, business as usual then?” Stewart asked with a sheepish grin, patting his face and forehead with a damp dish rag.

“Until further notice, yes.” Nicolaus nodded, heading toward the front door. “You’re a good man Stewart, but do try to be more careful.”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Briza
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Briza Roach / ★

Member Seen 14 hrs ago

𝓔sther 𝓟uniceus x x x
sᴀɪɴᴛ sᴏᴘʜɪᴀ's ɢʀᴇᴇᴋ ᴏʀᴛʜᴏᴅᴏx ᴄʜʀɪsᴛɪᴀɴ ᴄᴀᴛʜᴇᴅʀᴀʟ | ʟᴏs ᴀɴɢᴇʟᴇs, ᴄᴀʟɪꜰᴏʀɴɪᴀ

“Don’t forget to cross yourself before entering…”

Upon opening the intricately wooden, adorned doors, the scene was written like a memory of the Dream; as if Esther had closed her eyes and awaken in the lavish pageantry of militant mercy amongst the Divine. Chandeliers dripped in golden, pearly tears from the ceiling of the Cathedral, draped in decadent and ornately rich and flaxen engravings. The smell of candles and incense graced the dimly lit atmosphere, arising like smoke in the ambiance of a low echo chanting the psalter. A velvet red carpet lead the back of the Church to the Royal Doors, closed with protective wings of the illuminated icons, painted firmly on the iconostas with headdress of sculpted twilight and articulate halos.

The Malkavian responded to the backdrop and glass stained history with stiff arms and wandering eyes. Memories were floating around, and he was not sure which one he should choose. Each held their own world of mystery. A silent flame was standing firmly in a small puddle of trophic sand. The fire was like a desert rose, wandering through a scorched wilderness that was enclosed with aurelian leaves that were cold to touch, like Annie’s cheeks in the winter. His thoughts were pushed by the sound of a male, rich in vocals.

“O, Esther,” Father Bill stepped out from the corners of the Nave. His heavy black gown moved the sounds of the incense through the tiny kingdom. He seemed pleased with a closed smile of allurement and attraction to the visitors, “You’ve brought friends, family, are they inquirers, as well?” His body glided patiently through pews. Automatically, lifting a wrist, with fingers bent and curved. Unabatangly, he crossed the air with minimal effort before letting his palm rest in the cups of Esther’s extended palms. His eyes looked to Peter, as he felt the Ventrue’s soft lips press reverently against his skin.

Esther spoke quietly, “Yes, Father. Uncle Scott.” Her gentle breath whispered quietly against the priest’s flesh. She paused before straightening her and then turned towards the Malkavian. His dark eyes were wandering over the Church, as they tended to do. Excitement was setting them to life, and his lower lip, nibbled with nervous blood, was moving slightly, mumbling inaudibly to himself about something that minded nothing with Annie who appeared enchanted and bored all at once, “this is Father Bill,” she relaxed her shoulders. Silk threads gently touched against her pale skin as she moved. There was pity in her voice as watched the Kindred lose his mind in the details.

“Th-the chandeliers are flickering, sh-shaking,” Peter finally noted in response to Esther, locking eyes with her and then tracing the weave of her black dress as it fitted and flounced over her body. They wrapped around the fabric-covered buttons that held her blouse over her neck, bosom, and waste. She was like charcoal, burning like a spinneret in the midst of a radiant, dead dream. The lace on her dress began smoking and evaporating into the air, stringing each of its threads from every corner of the room until all he could see was a web and three trapped flies. A darkness messaged and crawled over the back of his head, massaging its body tenderly into his mind; claws and tarsi appendaging his ears as its pincers began cutting the threads of his mind open.

There were muffled voices that he could not quite makeout. They came and went through cups of sounds. It was the flies, squirming in their voices. They made him thirsty, and he could feel the dryness of his tongue swiping over his cracked, bloody lips trembling with the beast re-awakening in him. Sweet sickness dripped down his throat as he tried to hold back, but the domineering command, “Eat him, Peter” vibrated in warped pochette echoes from the cobweb’s silk strings, like bells notifying the beginning of the Creed.

A bestial growl rumbled over the Malkavian, hungry with madness and lust. This was his favorite part of him. He remembered now as his strong frame tingled with sensation and compulsion while it moved forward. His shackles of insanity had been unlocked from his flesh, and snarls were foaming through his teeth, sharp to the point, overly excited to devour in the imagined Network placed in front of him. The feeling was strong and starving. He had not succumb to his beast in a long while, but he was drunk on this long sought after fever of hysteria, now, famished for satisfying her command and his appetite.

Esther watched as the two Kindred’s veins flexed and entwined together, each ripping for each other’s lives. She placed her hopes on Peter winning, if not because she decided he was the stronger of the two, but she was also penanced with the duty of caring for him. A girl of Annie’s age should not have to witness this. However, the Ventrue had little interest in securing the sanity of a child who had already lost her reason for living to Malkav. She was but a snuffed flame in the loins as a potential Childe.

“Uncle Scott might not kiss you goodnight, Annie,” Esther miffed. Her slender fingers extended and combed through the child’s long, golden locks. They were soft to the touch, still mended from a bun holding the human warmth of a beating heart despite being the deadest thing on her. The Ventrue let out a lofty sigh as the Toreador antitribu crumbled under the pressure of the frenzying Malkavian. Humiliation by surprise had brought the beast out of the Toreador, as well. However, by the trembles and groans rummaging through the cathedral, it was fair to believe there was and enjoyment of agony from both parties. So complicated dying had to be.

Her hand left Annie’s hair and tipped her fingers against her lips. Peter really had no manners. Lulling him out of a frenzy would be difficult. He was enjoying himself so much, right now. However, for the sake of time — her fingers intertwined with the lines and shadows and pulled the scene into a soothing display of debauched memories. Heavenly aromas budded like roses from the ground. The fields of incense blossomed and sprouted, vines twisted its leaves and sprouts over the cobweb, turning the weave gold, again.

Rich tapestry and iconography provided gentle siloques into reality. Breaths pressed through the Malkavian’s fangs, guilty in blood and gray skin. As the room swayed in soothing motions, he lifted his gaze from the mess and found himself, again, lost in the dark trances of the Ventrue’s eyes. His undead heart could feel her state beating through him, now, changing the rhythm of the night. His lower jaw stuttered as drool and Vitae collapsed and spilled from it.

The Ventrue’s features started to appear more abstract, as the vision dominated him. Her face started to resemble something more pure and holy. Her voice chimed his name, and his body relaxed, drawn to her presence like a moth to a flame. Panting he spoke questionably, “Ma-ma?” his voice was weak and withdrawn with a lock fastened around his madness. There were no longer spiders; and they were no longer in a web. Flowers were dressing a California field; and the sun was glowing all over the sky. He wanted to touch the image of the woman in front of him and feel her cheeks — they looked soft like petals that had grown like wings on the back of a butterfly.

He could feel against his own cheeks a breeze brushing against his cold skin. It had a warmth, like a mother’s embrace, against the fold of her chest. She looked like an angel, and she made him think, he was in heaven, with the hilt of her arms spread open. His body moved towards hers, magnetized by her presence. “Mamuschka. Matuschka…” his voice twisted for tenderness and piety, as he fell at her feet. Saliva and Vitae drooled as he made small laughs, giddy and sad all the same.

Esther knelt down, bending her knees and softly tipping his chin upward to look at her. His grin had closed in his hazy stare, lost to mortal memories he would soon forget, “Thank you. You’re such a good little boy.” Her neck declined, and she placed a small butterfly kiss upon his forehead, pressing her matted lips against his dark, duey hair. Several strands pulled with her mouth, as her body and attention rose. She smiled politely at Annie before turning her attention to the undead corpse.

Her body stepped around the awakening Malkavian and approached the antitribu. Her smile paused for a solemn moment, feigning pity upon the poor, stupid priest. He was almost nothing, now. “Memory Eternal, Father.” Esther bent her knees, again, tucking the frou-frou of her skirt beneath her. Her body leaned over the limp and pathetic ruins of a Kindred. She drew her right hand to her mouth and nipped the tips of her glove from her fingers, removing the lace gauntlet from her hand. Her fingers tiptoed quickly through the mess, and untwisted the gold cross from the black cloth. The ornament was relished inside a hanky and tucked into her purse thereafter.

Standing and turning towards the Malkavian, again, Esther lightly commanded in a petite manner, “Uncle Scott, you should call Big Joe,” she watched as the Kindred stirred to her voice, as he began returning to his reality, “I am under the impression that he has some cleaning to do.” Her eyes fell on Annie again and quickly dismissed the swollen eyed doll. She was a waste of innocence, as they all were. She was also a waste of time. This whole scenario was had its own vessel of a story; and this was merely the prologue. A small sigh escaped her.

How depressing.

The Ventrue fitted her hand into her glove, again, and began making her way to the Narthex of the Cathedral. There were several more stops the three would have to make. Each foot was placed carefully in front of the other, minimizing the bustles of her flouncing attire. There was much to do in preparation before he arrived.

“Don’t forget to cross yourself before leaving…”

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by EvenGODSfall
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EvenGODSfall O ᴍ ᴇ ɴ

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“I see the look in your eyes it makes me go blind.”

The whimsical vocals of Ruelle dance graciously through the void of silence, shattering it. She had a pleasantly melodic voice and a way in which she could conduct a crescendo that was simply marvellous and impactful to the song in its entirety. Syn had allowed such music to float through the stiffened air as his form reclined into the softened leather couch, left hand digits curled around a glass of Irish whiskey made by yours truly. With accents of oak, red wine and smoke and the undertones of plasma cascading through the amber liquid, he was quite proud of his creations and its taste.

Relaxed, calm contemplation expressed upon his visage as his eyes fell towards the ornate brass chandeliers and the ornate filigree that wove between each outward stem that was alight with softened amber hues, cascading light across the myriad of items in the bar. But he saw further, he focused on the shadows cast in opposition to the light, the constant cold touch of darkness that befell his innermost desires. He watched the shapes noticing the shadows touch upon every crevice creating a home for itself. A realisation bought forth a soft chuckle as his idle mind contemplated the metaphorical connection between Sabbat and their actions to that of the darkness in the crevices. They spread across this planet, finding corruptible spots and slowly from there they expand, a plague upon the planet.

Contemplative thoughts and relative silence were broken when the sound of heavy footfalls collide across smooth wooden steps, ascending. “Markus, was not expecting you.” Syn’s visage never pivoted from it’s position to see the violent canine as he ascended the steps. “You reek of blood and sulphur.” Syn spoke as the scent assaulted his nostrils, Markus had been in the throes of combat and yet the beast said nothing in response, not yet. Having finally ascended the steps, Markus Matthews relieved himself of his thick coat revealing black tactical vest and torn black button down. Black cargo pants and 511 tactical boots finished the attire of an imposing beast. Born not of kindred blood but that of Garou and danced the nine levels of hell Markus was a ‘fallen.’ With a grunt the brute ignored all sense of refinement and dragged a wooden chair to sit opposite the refined Lasombra Kindred. Straddling it front-to-back, Markus allowed his bulk to collapse upon the wood causing a hushed groan in protest from the wood. “I’ve been busy, The Sabbat have been busy.” He responded, accent thick with the articulations of a Scottish accent.

In response, Syn released a soft sigh before placing his drink down upon a drink stand beside him and rose from his position. “Drink?” He asks out of politeness; however, he knew the Scottish dog couldn’t say no to a single malt whiskey. Syn descended the stairs and towards the bar where sat upon the top due to his prior actions earlier in the evening sat a bottle of his small batch single malt. Taking the bottle and a Riedel crystal glass. Ascending the stairs once more, Syn’s voice rolled across the stifled silence. “What brings you here Markus.” Leaning forward upon the chair, Markus’ mahogany eyes shifted from art piece to art piece before returning towards Syn. “Every time I come here it seems as if your vanity grows, this whole business is a personal fuck fest to your ego.” He said with a wolfish grin revealing the wickedness that lay within. “Starting to think that you’d be better suited as a Sabbat bishop with the way you indulge.” The Garou continued to mock only to receive a narrowing of Syn’s eyes in return.

“I should tear out your tongue.” Syn responded with malice oozing from his mouth before placing the glass and bottle down upon a coffee table before Markus. Shifting to seat himself once more into his seat, more alert however than relaxed. “Now, why are you here Markus.” Markus who had taken the time to pour himself a reasonable glass of single malt felt it. The vitae infused dominance that exuded from Syn, a manipulation that was as subtle or as blunt as the man wielding it wished to be. “You can stop with that.” Markus responded coldly as mahogany eyes shifted to Syn’s own. “Word is that the Sabbat is encroaching on the territories here while they continue to war over San Francisco. I hear they are buying up blue collar businesses like butchers, deli’s and coffee shops.” He paused to inhale a large portion of the amber liquid in the glass which threatened to shatter in his inhumanely large hands. “Why are you telling me this?” Syn responded, fingers knitting together subconsciously within his lap. “They cannot afford a war here as they have in San Francisco.” Markus’ eyes shift towards his glass as a soft grin spreads across his lips. “No, but our Hive is looking to expand here, and you know our ties to the Sabbat.”

Syn understood now, Markus was alerting of a possible war between Garou and his kin bought about by the manipulations of the Sabbat. Perhaps there was still a reason he kept the fallen on his retainer. Leaning forward Syn looked Markus up and down. “I have sent my greeting cards to the Baron and a respected member of the Camarilla. I shall see what they know because I will not allow my new home to be accosted by the doomsday fanatics. If your kin arrive, then so be it but not under the manipulative hands of the Sabbat.” Syn snarled the final worlds as anger gave way from his usual stoic controlled dominance. “Find out what you can for me, look after yourself Markus.”

Finishing his drink, the bulking mass of muscle and ferocity that was the black spiral dancer rose from the seat quietly. “My life is not for living carefully but I will report once I know more.” With a two finger wave the goliath of a man descended the stairs, coat in hand and headed towards the rear exit of the Gallery.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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Member Seen 6 days ago

Los Angeles
The Nights of Last Summer

Nines rolled with the punches.

These were lessons he had learned well before he had entered the world of the Kindred, but they were lessons he had put to far better use since then he ever had before.

Los Angeles was aflame, caught in a civil war between two people he had both considered allies at different stages. Two people who had mislead the Anarch movement from its inception, but ultimately made it possible.

For some, that might have come as something of a speed bump. A crisis of identity. Not Nines, Nines rolled with the punches. He dished them out as well.

The latest to encounter this last fact was an unfortunate Gangrel Kindred of whome there was very little left. Nines finished the blow which would end the kindred's struggle, for now, before ducking to avoid a hail of fire, keeping low to the ground, he darted across the street. Usually the streets of the city made for little cover from aggressive fire, but such was the devastation around them that he made it across without a scratch, not even having to depend upon the heights of his supernatural ability, moving between the burned out shells of unfortunate vehicles.

Awaiting him, a few pensive looking faces. Another pair of Brujah, fellow Anarchs who would follow him regardless of his stated allegiance. None could command the loyalty of the Anarch Burjah like Nines Rodriguez, none perhaps save Smiling Jack, and neither had ever looked for the leadership many had tried to shove upon them. The other face was apart from the others, a slight Ventrue, Rachel was one of Eva's coterie, and spoke to their current loyalty. It had not been hard, while the Kid might command the loyalty of some of the Anarch greats, the old guard, he was also visibly insane, as far as Nines could tell. His rebellion had been a key part of Eva's own. With both Nines and Catlin (Yanci, he corrected himself) urging them to forsake the advice of their embittered elders, the younger, more populous, Brujah of LA seemed to sway in their bulk towards Hollywood's hidden mistress. This was not to say there was not plenty of fighting still to be done. The Sabbat pushing their limits within the city only further complicated matters.

"We're in a right hole here. They have us pinned up against the Sabbat, no way we're getting out of here in one group." Nines broke the news to the others. A few last minute changes in allegiance had left them in a rather exposed position once the fighting had started in full. Rachel had been in position to secure key assets for their rebellion, while Nines and the others were sent in to secure Rachel once it looked like a few too many faces had broken their promises to support them against the Kid. Such behavior would be repaid, but only if they lived through the night.

"Diego and I will run at their guns, see if we can't get their full attention. Our car's a few blocks away, you two get out of here, regroup with the others, then come get us." It was typical Nines bravado and heroism, but it had never failed him yet. Rachel wasn't particularly self serving for a Ventrue, but she had a duty to perform to Eva, and she couldn't do so dead. Equally, Nines' reputation was hard to avoid, he always survived things like this.

It would not go to plan though, not this time.

It wasn't a failure on their part, Rachel and her Brujah companion were fast and smart, Nines and his were fast and hit hard, and loud. But these were not just Sabbat they were facing, they were up against those who until a day ago would call them allies, and they knew Nines as well, knew the stunts he would pull, and there was more of them than they thought.

More than there should have been

The thought crossed Rachel's mind as she once again, for what seemed like the hundreth time, hunkered down in cover, like a soldier in a warzone, not the exceptional lawyer she was. This wasn't her element, but even then, her mind raced, pulling apart the situation. None of it made sense. There should not have been enough opposition to keep both split parties pinned down, but all physical evidence suggested otherwise. Somewhere, hidden in the equation, was a factor none of them had foreseen.

Their assailants were approaching. There was only so much cover a side street could provide, and, assured that the other half of their targets were pinned down elsewhere, they were free to move from their own cover, approaching for a better angle. Rachel had a gun in her hand, that was rare enough, the Brujah with her was equally armed. It would be hard, but they might just make it out. If only she had a few more moments, she could have picked the situation apart better.

Then, drifting over the air, drifting louder than fires burning nearby, of the boom and patter of gunfire, was the oddest noise. Music.

Sometimes I get my head in a dilly
Feeling so lost, ticking you off

She couldn't pinpoint the noise, nor could their assailants. The crack of their suppressing fire diminished, as they tracked the area around them for a new target. Not a large enough window for Rachel to act, but enough for her to note. The music continued on, the chirpy tune anathema to the events it underscored. She could hear the rival Brujah talking among themselves, ordering sweeps of the area, before another voice carried over them.

"What a lovely n-"

The crack of gunfire interrupted the voice. It had been melodious, even sing song, before it had been interrupted.

Baby there's a Shark in the Water

"Now, that was quite rude."

The explosion of noise that followed the crescendo of the song exceeded even the improbable blast of the song. The chatter of the Brujah became more eratic, desperate, before they were met with only the occasional scream. Among it all was a powerful void of sound, an efficiency of movement and power that rendered their attack a blind spot to the senses. There was almost a supernatural pull at them, and within the next few moments both Rachel and her Brujah companion could not help but start to leave their cover simply to gaze upon what had occurred.

They glimpsed only the final moments of their circumstance, a male kindred, who had moments before been their aggressor, stumbling down the alley. His leg had been shattered, but he clung to defiance, or terror, either way he moved towards them, but there was no hostile intent to his actions. Simply the desire to get away. He did not make it far. There was a crack in the air, and the Brujah toppled forwards.

Standing above him, was a Kindred. Young of feature, almost achingly handsome, watching as the gangster-turned-kindred crumpled to the ground, before descending into the ash of Final Death. When the newcomer looked up, he did so with a smile that was hopelessly disarming.

"Ah, there you are." He spoke, with that sing-song voice.

"Who...who are you, why did you help us?" The words were not Rachel's, she had yet to find her's, although something about the manner in which the newcomer took his next few steps towards them filled her with dread.

"Help you? Didn't you hear the song."



Pain was everything that she was.

She had possessed a name once, identity, but it was lost in the feeling. She writhed in the darkness, her own mind pulling itself apart, as he took her secrets from her.

"Unusual, I suppose. Most of our Kind only rely on their own blood. But you, an adopted little Ventrue childe. It seems the grand-chile is much like her sire, for all his flaws."

Those were words that had meaning, she could remember that, but she could not placed them, as she writhed upon the ground. Ground that was slick. The floor, she realised, was awash with blood. Had it always been so? She couldn't remember. As soon as she realized this, the hunger returned, the aches of her body felt worse, almost enough to drown out the pain of her mind. Even as she convulsed, she gulped down the vitae, surprised, and horrified, to discover it was still warm. Once she had done this, her mind returned to its destructive pain.

"Fear not, none of what you are will go to waste, all your wasted independence, the folly of your mind, shall be honed to a greater purpose."

Despite herself, the words comforted her. She could not remember what it was to not be commanded by him, for what he said must be so. Even as she thought such things, the pain subsided, as if such things pleased the malignant force that consumed her very being. A sob escaped her, a sob of purest relief at the slightest lessening of her pain. Her eyes cracked open, and she looked upon her surroundings. The vitae ran across the ground, but the walls. The walls were mirrors.

"An easy trick. I once broke a Lasombra here with the barest effort. Merely allowed them to stare into the abyss that was themselves for an eternity. The Sabbat are even easier than you, mayfly." Again, those words, names, had meaning, but she could not hold them, but it did not matter, the pain was less. She could not see him, the voice was from above, behind, to the side of her, ever out of her vision as she twisted to glimpse the voice. Then it spoke again.

"Rachel, wake up."

She was herself again, the memories flooded in, meanings, identity. The ghost of the pain remained, and she could not rid herself of it. It was only then that she realized where she was. She had moved.

The face that looked up at her was the same from the night. The night that seemed so long ago, still as handsome, still smiling, still without the barest hint of warmth. She was straddled across the man. She could not remember moving, let alone bringing herself so close to anyone.

She screamed, and attempted to pull away, but found she could not. The noise, and her effort, seemed only to stir his cruel features further to mirth.

"L...L..Lubbock." She managed, with the return of her identity, so came her knowledge, and she connected dots just as fast as she would in any other situation. Hints from Eva, reports of the mad ravings of the Kid. The kind of power he demonstrated in his barest movement, this was everything the Kid had feared and more.

"Good, good. " Recognition seemed to please him further. He reclined atop a simple chair, sat at the centre of the same room as before, although the floor was quite dry, and mirrored. She wondered if the other details had simply been the inventions of her failing mind. The fact she was there, atop him, seemed almost inconsequential to him. "Alas, little mayfly, this may have been an entertaining evening, but, you have fulfilled your use."

"They...she...will find you." She managed to murmer, once again she felt the pressure of his will upon her, speaking was becoming difficult again, almost as constricting as whatever force held her in place. It was as if his very existence was enough to crush her will to nothing. Lubbock noticed this, and the grin only widened.

"Perhaps they will not have to." The elder kindred held something aloft, a dagger, although it seemed to pulse in the air, with a languide motion, he placed it over his own heart, point first, before, slowly, he moved her hands with his own, placing them atop the hilt of the dagger, while he held it steady.

"Kill me."

The command struck her like a direct blow. Her eyes roamed to his, the unfathomable darkness they held within them, before drifting back to the blade.

"Go on, do it. Think of all that you'll save, maybe even yourself, but certainly your allies, friends, coterie," He continued, his voice a full sing-song once more. Internally she strained, screamed, urged herself to do so. The muscles of her arms bulged as she fought to do it. But even as she wished to, even as he commanded, her thoughts clouded with the same miasma as before. She saw his features and witnessed perfection, for every inch of her that wished to slay him, another fought back to simply crawl and bow.

"Come along now."

She wailed, but she did not no if the sound passed from her lips. Tears ran down her eyes, sobs wracked her as she tried. Tried desperately to press the dagger those few extra inches, to push into his heart whatever arcane relic the dagger was, for it hummed with power.

"KILL ME." He roard, an avalanche of noise, as if his patience has run out. In that moment she crumbled, and with another shriek, a true one, found her strength and pulled the dagger up, before plunging it down.

Into her own heart.

The last thing she heard as the Final Death claimed her, as the vitae that rejuvenated her Kindred form splattered across the man who had shattered her mind.

Was laughter.

Laughter and music.

Baby, there's a shark in the water
I caught them barking at the moon

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ruby
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Ruby The Lost Girl

Moderator Seen 1 day ago

"...what is it?"

CJ grunted, his eyes locked on the wooden shipment situated in front of the main gate leading to the palacial Hollywood Hills home of Eva, Yanci, Gwen, Henry, and the recently added CJ. CJ had been Andre's right hand for the Bloods, as well as for the private security forces at Eva's disposal. After surviving Compton, then Vietnam, CJ had settled in as security for several black celebrities in the LA area such as Marvin Gaye and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He was turned by a wild, mad, Brujah who was using mass embracing as a weapon. The tactic backfired when CJ survived, gathered his bearings, and joined with the Bloods to hunt down and end the Brujah madman. His incredible focus and will having lead him through the change with but minor freaking the fuck out, it wasn't until the job was done that CJ began to truly understand what he was.

Andre had been so impressed that he kept an eye on him. Through the years it was CJ who quickly raised through the gang's ranks to Andre's side, not other members of the gang that could claim more seniority or better connections. Andre had always been one to give the most shits about "getting shit done." On that note, there was no one better in the gang than CJ. It was CJ who survived the worst of the fighting when LA went to war with itself after the Kid's great reveal. It was CJ who delivered Andre's heavy chain to Gwendalyn, a heavy chain for heavy news.

The dog took a moment. Not only because the dog was specially trained to smell for explosives, but because it was walking up to a group of Kindred. The K-9 unit was trained to do with animals as Kindred, to assist the dogs not have the typial reaction to Kindred. The dog had a job to do, and though it took a moment of gentle persuasion, it wasn't long before the dog went right to it. It was CJ who made the announcement. "It's clean."

Gwen thanked the K-9 unit. In her past life she had loved dogs. In her current life she was indifferent, but the ability to sniff for bombs was something she could love even in her current life. She had stopped her new blood red Ferrari California T HS near five yards away from the gate. It was at the end of a canyon road in the Hollywood Hills. This gate was just the largest, and privacy and security fence around it just cut off this street from the private stretch of road that led up to the house itself.

Quickly, with ease, CJ ripped the top off the box. After some digging the card was found, the bottle with it found. CJ blinked up at the woman he had only known from afar for most his Kindred days. "Gallery 66, it says."

Gwen smiled. "It's an invitation. Thanks CJ."

"Yessir." The box was removed, the card and bottle handed over to the human before he climbed back in the Ferrari. The gate opened and Gwen put Samual Graham's back firmly into the luxury leather seat of the Ferrari cockpit as the supercharged V8 rocketed them towards the house. With the noise of the engine, Sam didn't even bother to speak, not until she slung the Ferrari around the marble fountain surrounded by the red brick, grass gridded, driveway of the home.

"This...is an incredible house."

Against the glittering twilight sky of Los Angeles, the house appeared on the hill as as a crowning achievement of comtemporary home architecture; blocks of glass and white stone and wood and even more glass. It's exterior was washed in exterior accent lighting, most of it yellow gold against the house, but hues of blue and purple here and there. Gwen had to laugh. "I remember when Eva had it built. It's a shame she isn't here for me to introduce you."

"You miss her?"

The smile was gone on the former starlet's face. Car stopped, engine off, the driver side door opened and almost at the same second the passenger door opened for Sam. The human man blinked, and to Gwen, the blink was painfully slow. "You're, uh..."

"Really fast?"

Sam laughed, his two day growth scratched at just under his chin as his mind took a few moments to process what just happened. What was happening to him. Gwen had to wonder if he knew how impossibly deep he was already in. "That I am."

The "girl" appeared at the wider than most front door: black denim short-shorts, white tank top, a black bra outline visible through the thin white cotton. "She's...staring at me...is she going to..."

Gwen laughed, despite herself, "No, she's not going to eat you." ...I don't think. It wasn't until she looked at the girl that she realized something was off. Something wasn't right. "Bring the bottle and card, Sam," Gwen tossed back at Sam without looking back at him, her eyes focused squarely on Yanci as she closed the distance between the Ferrari and the Baroness.

"The surprise attack on San Fransisco."

That was all Yanci gave her, but between that and the near numb look on Yanci's face..."It didn't go well, I take it?"

"Worse. It wasn't a surprise. Someone, something, was waiting on it. It was taken out before it hit San Fransisco."

Gwen wanted to reach out and grab the girl, to pull her close and kiss those lips, to stroke her hair and tell her it'd be okay. The mantle of power was a son of a bitch, and it weighed on Yanci the way it never weighed on Eva. Gwen settled on a hug, but Yanci's reaction was muted as her facial expression. When Gwen pulled away, it was with a kiss on the girl's cheek. "We'll figure it out. Have you told Henry?"

Her head shook, her wavey dark brown hair swaying slightly as she did. "Not yet. I don't know where he is. I was...dreaming."

"About what? Was it just you?"

Her head shook once more. "No. It was Eva. I don't know why, but we were reliving..."

Yanci trailed off, but not because of the dream. Gwen knew why, she could feel the warmth and the beating of the heart behind her. Gwen pivoted on her heeled boot, and smiled once more, her voice honey. "Yanci Carolina, may I present to you a young actor--"

"--Samual Graham. You played the autistic kid in the Disney Channel movie?"

The young man chuckled, and nodded quickly, like he was talking to a studio head. "I did, yes ma'am," the ma'am accented with the hint of West Texas twang.

"You didn't overdo it. I heard you fought with the director?"

Sam's smile was Hollywood; present, bright, but only surface deep. "Yeah. He wanted me to exaggerate the performance more, and--"

"--your sister is autistic."

Sam's blue eyes touched Gwen's with a quick glance before going back to Yanci's. "She is. I wouldn't budge, he threatened to have me replaced, Disney wouldn't let him."

Very slowly Yanci's lips curved into a faint grin. "You still think that was Disney? What's the card and bottle?"

Gwen took that one, "There was a shipping crate at our front gate. CJ had the bomb doggos take a sniff. Clear, so he opened it. The bottle and the card inside."

Sam handed Yanci the card, and the Baroness took a quick glance, flipped the card, her brows arching a touch. "Gallery 66? I've heard of it. Something that came across my desk...maybe we should take a trip? If we can find Henry."

Gwen just happened to catch a figure in one of the second story windows. It was a large figure, cloaked in shadow of a barely lit room. "He's here."

Yanci's eyes followed, her tone still half in a dream, "Good. Wanna go tell him?"

Gwen shook her head, faux exasperation, "Rachel would be disappointed," she said as she pulled out her smartphone, and conducted the text to Henry.

"I've done other roles."

Yanci blinked, a blunted delayed reaction to the voice, like it took her a few beats to realize someone had spoken, and where the voice had come from. "Do you know what we are, Sam?"

There was no hesitation, and only traces of fear, "Yes, I do. Gwen told me, ancient mysterious rulers of Hollywood and Los Angeles. Which makes me wonder, because I played Kit Carson in a cable movie once, got me interested in him, and he was around back then. I have to ask..."

There was no disconnect of dream now. When Yanci stared at Sam, it was with fresh intensity, and all her focus. "Why do you ask that?"

The tone was enough to even make Gwen look up from the phone, and the texts she had sent Henry, along with the sexy gif. "Yance?"

"The dream," Yanci began, "it was the night after the battle at Rio San Gabriel."

Gwen's eyes narrowed in concern. "Before my time, Yanci, want to explain?"

She didn't need to, Sam did, "Between the Mexican army and the US forces sent by President Polk. 1840...ish."

"1847. I didn't care. I didn't like the Mexicans, but didn't trust the Americans." Gwen's eyes peeked between the two of them; Yanci recounting an ancient battle, Sam absolutely intoxicated by the tale, "the Kid went to Eva, nervous, anxious. 'Is it Lubbock? It has to be. He's sent the Americans here to find me. He's sent the Americans here to punish me.' It was insane paranoia. Eva calmed him, and dealt with it...like she always did. She met Fremont before, and liked him well enough, but it was Carson that truly impressed her."

Sam's eyes were saucers. "You met him?"

Yanci smiled, small and sad, "I did. Eva introduced us. She said she first met him under moonlight, near a river. He pulled his rifle on her; she described as part feral. The violence coming from the man...his sheer will to survive. They spoke about California. They spoke about it's beauty. They talked about the deserts they both had crossed at various points. Eva had been with the Spanish when they came in to establish missions, to start setting up ranchos. Eva was ready for California to grow. So one night she comes in and declars, 'We're supporting the Americans.' She had to convince the Kid, but of course, she did. Eva worked the Mexicans, gave them a false sense of security. She even got them to march out into the field--near the San Gabriel river, so the fighting didn't hurt the dusty little town that was Los Angeles back then. She knew what LA would become..."

"...that's incredible. Can I ask you more?"

"Another time, prehaps." The voice came from behind Yanci, and snapped Sam out of his amazement. A masculine voice, a man's voice: Henry Locke.

"Henry, Sam. Sam, Henry. Henry is part of our little family."

Sam smiled, shook Henry's hand, and tried to play it cool...but that was becoming harder and harder for Samual Graham.

"Come with us, Sam." Yanci said it as if she said it in an impulse. It wasn't; Gwen understood. Eva shared the dream with Yanci, then Samual appeared and knew it. Moreover, he'd played Kit Carson. Those weren't accidents. That was Eva's long game. Gwen hadn't known Eva and Kit Carson were passionate, but the way Yanci told the story about Eva meeting the man in moonlight...

"Thank you. I've never heard of Gallery 66, sounds fun."

Yanci's sad smile went into a half-smirk. "It's not for humans." The admission put a distinct look of concern on Sam's face; a look that led to Henry, Yanci, and Gwen sharing a short laugh at the sight. "It's okay, Sam. You're with us. We're not fitting in that fucking Ferrari though."

Henry's tone was as full of a smirk as his lips. "They can take the Ferrari. We can take my car, see who gets there first."

"You're on. To the vamp-mobile, Sam!"
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Rawk
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Rawk Perfectly Broken

Member Seen 2 mos ago

Los Angeles | Downtown

Nicolaus allowed his mind to wander during the car ride since leaving Wexler's deli, confident that he'd made the right choice in allowing the continuation of Sabbat dealings through his business in hopes that a trail of breadcrumbs would be left in their wake. Enough to bring the full power of the Camarilla hammer down onto their operations and wipe them from their own turf once and for all. It was an extreme view, yes, but not an unpleasant one, because as far as the Archon was concerned, the Sabbat were a disease that needed to be vanquished.

The car came to a smooth stop at the corner of South Broadway and 5th Street, a rather upscale area that -like many sprawling cities- was only a few short blocks from the low income neighborhoods and skid row, much of which seemed virtually non-existent to those who frequented the shopping strip malls and eateries along the main drag on a daily basis. In fact, living in a bubble was the only way many of the “haves" could survive being so close to the “have nots”. Nicolaus gazed at many of them as they passed along the sidewalk, his automobile idling two cars back at the stoplight in the far right lane closest to the curb. The vampire found himself in later years, more often than not, as a spectator of the human condition, of the cycle of life that kept its humanity from collapsing entirely. From birth to old age, a concept that had been lost to the immortals of the world, yet still regarded as something precious. And yet the short amount of time that is given to mortals is squandered each waking hour on such fruitless endeavors, that is it no wonder they'd all vie for life everlasting? But what is longevity of life good for if you've determined to spend it on waste? Nico pulled himself back a bit more, realizing that even his own thoughts over the centuries would begin to overtake the present, his dreams of a different life apart from the darkness just that. A dream.

He felt a presence. He felt her gaze.

From the corner of the Ventrue’s eye, he caught a glimpse of the pink spikey-haired teenage girl leaning against the large metallic traffic light control box, wearing a pair of black leather roller skates, the laces running halfway up the boot and the remaining folded down. Not exactly an unusual site in and around Los Angeles after nightfall, as you would see all kinds of young individuals loitering, walking, riding bikes, skateboarding, and the like. But it wasn't that. Nor was it the girl’s tight-fitted, ashgray jeans with the holes in the knees, black tank with a symbol indicative of 80s punk bands, or the macabre tattoos that ran up both of her thin, pale arms. It was something else entirely. The skater flashed a wry grin at the vampire, a silver hoop nose ring glistening from the halogen street lamps, before doing a mock pirouette and promptly skating the few yards up to the passenger side window of the Maserati. Nicolaus tracked her movements for a moment and then turned his attention to the traffic lights, which were still red, allowing the cross-street traffic to continue unobstructed much longer than usual. Raising a dark quizzical eyebrow, he returned his gaze to the girl, who was lighting a cigarette before replacing the zippo and leaning over enough to show a bit of cleavage from the v-neck cut, parting her dark lips in a half smile of semi-perfectly formed teeth while exhaling thick tobacco smoke.

“Nice ride." She mouthed, articulating each syllable slowly through the closed window, before pressing her lips against the thick bulletproof glass and pulling away, leaving a violet-colored lipstick imprint.

Nicolaus watched as the girl pulled a small gray box from her back pocket, and tapped on the glass, before gesturing with her hand to roll the window down. It took only a moment to recognize the five by three inch electronic device she’d so carelessly begun waving side to side like a pendulum on a grandfather clock.

A detonator. Lovely.

At that moment, horns from multiple cars began honking, including a few obscenities from drivers sticking their heads out the window. Nicolaus turned to see that the light was green, and had no choice but to turn on his flashers and wave the others by.

“Whatever you are planning miss, I suggest you walk away.” The Elder’s tone was calm but stern; his expression void of any emotion as the supernatural took place of the words, and the presence of dominance extended toward the young girl. “Now.”

There was a momentary pause from the other, and even the smug look on her face began to fizzle out as she appeared to be contemplating something of importance. Her lips parted as though she were about to speak, but nothing came out, until…

“I-I'm...sorry…” She mumbled, bowing her head in humility.

“It's fine. Just-"

“No, you don't understand!” She interrupted, raising her head to look back at him. “I'm sorry...I didn't do this sooner, ya dumbass!” She exclaimed, followed by a high-pitched maniacal laugh that could only come from a psychologically unstable mind. “Your little ‘Jedi mind tricks’ aren't worth shit, old man. But just for that, I'm going to press this little red button and make things go BOOM real fast.” A single finger slipped over the trigger ever so gently and then stopped. “Might even take out a few dozen meat bags in the process-"

“What is it you want?” Nicolaus interrupted, having very little patience with the games.

“Don’t interrupt me!” She yelled, breathing heavily as though she were truly upset and then instantly calmed her voice. “That's rule number one. Number two. We want all ya’ll Cam assholes to stay the fuck away from our streets.”

“Is that all?”

“Sure. Guess so.” She shrugged, then mockingly thought for a moment, screwing her lips up to one side. “Wait, number three. Um...I want.” Randomly her eyes darted all around the interior of the vehicle until it finally landed on the prize nestled within the center console cubby, in which she promptly pointed. “That! Gimmie that and I'll be on my way.”

Nicolaus looked down at the object that had suddenly become so vital to the strange girl, and a momentary feeling of subtle surprise washed over him. The dark burgundy colored wayfarer sunglasses with the mirror finish remained in the same spot they'd been left in a year ago. Untouched and forgotten to the point that they'd become virtually invisible, except perhaps to the person responsible for washing and detailing the car every couple of weeks.

“No.” He said flatly.

“Sucks for you.” The other responded in kind, taken aback by the vampire’s answer. “I guess we go ‘boom’ then.”

“Wait!” The Ventrue lifted the sunglasses and handed them over without further hesitation. The girl's face lit up as though she'd just opened her first gift on Christmas morning. “Now hand me that damn thing before you do something stupid.” He said, glancing around at the random couples walking along the sidewalk, a few with leashed dogs, and others with small children. It was as though the whole scene had slowed down enough to take in the smiles and laughter from the little ones, a few pointing and staring at the car as they strolled by but otherwise oblivious to all else. It was all rather surreal in that fraction of time, but it was also those moments the eternally damned creature felt more human.

“Shit, a Ventrue with a heart of gold.” The girl chuckled, handing over the detonator while at the same time slipping the sunglasses onto her thin face and peering into the passenger-side mirror. A perfect fit, just like the previous owner. “So uh, now that we’re friends and all, how ‘bout you and I go drive around in this very expensive car and have some fun, eh?” She turned to the other, lowering the glasses to the tip of her nose while winking an eye.

“We’re done here.” The Archon said in as much calmness as he could muster up. “And yet if I see you again, our next meeting will not go as well for you.”

The girl shot the other a look of disgust as she pushed away from the car and stood up straight. “Hasta la bye-bye, loser.” She hissed, waving a lazy hand before skating off in the opposite direction.

Nicolaus shifted the vehicle into drive and rolled back out into the car lane, watching in the rearview as the ghoul faded into the background of people and lights. If the Sabbat kindred themselves weren’t bad enough, their mortal lackeys and sympathizers could be worse due to the constant power struggles and endless search for attention just to gain the upper hand and fall into favor with the elite members. As is usually the case within the Sect, the only rank and title a Sabbat holds is what they have the power to take. And take it they will, even if it means dismantling their own organized chaos to do it. The Ventrue held the detonator in his hand, examining the casing while still maintaining enough focus on the road, hoping to find any indication of its source. But it didn’t take long to realize that the device was a fake, a decoy really that he has seen before, to detract and keep the scent off the real threat....


And at that precise moment, from a block away behind him, the blast was heard and felt, the orange-yellow luminance from the explosion lit up the otherwise darkened street. A street lined with expensive boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, now rocked by a bomb that would have taken out at least a few of the small stores as well as anyone unfortunate enough to be it’s radius, reducing them to rubble and ash. It’s heat felt even further than that. Screams were heard, car horns blared, and chaos ensued even around where the Ventrue had come to an abrupt stop, the pain of guilt shooting through his mind, wondering if he would have been able to prevent the inevitable. Gang activity in Los Angeles had been on the rise for some time, the Anarch Movement pushing its way past all the obstacles it was capable of, turning the already lower class areas into war zones, and yet why could he scarcely believe that the same thing would happen in any other part of the city? But the damage was done, and whatever the end result could have been didn’t matter a lick as it was now in the hands of the mortal authorities to clean up yet another mess initiated from an age-old war. And if that horrible incident hadn’t been bad enough, the bitch skated right by Nicolaus’ line of sight, most definitely on purpose, knowing that the Ventrue wouldn’t back down so easily this time. Clearly the instigation was a ploy to lure him into whatever sick trap that was setup, but he accepted these types of situations, not as suicide, but as an obligation to gain the truth no matter what the cost.

With traffic up ahead at a standstill due to citizen’s scrambling from the explosion, Nicolaus meticulously weaved his way past a few cars and quickly pulled onto a narrow side-street where he parallel parked before turning the ignition off and exiting the vehicle. Acute senses picked up the girl’s body spray scent trail still lingering in the cool night air, giving the vampire a starting point as he headed further down the dark back alley, which inevitably took him further away from the main drag. As the ambient light of the city street gave way to darkness, he allowed the environment to work in his favor, sticking to the shadows cast from the buildings while still maintaining clear direction ahead. He reached under his coat, feeling for both the glock in its holster as well as the switchblade slid into the inside breast pocket. The Archon couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually had to pull either one of his weapons, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t if the opportunity presented itself.

Approaching the back corner of one of the buildings, the familiar sound of the roller skates against the asphalt pavement was heard off in the distance, and the girl with the pink spikey hair was right where he needed her to be. In one swift stroke, Nicolaus ran across her path with supernatural speed and agility, yanking the human from her course, and slamming her against the adjacent brick wall well out of sight of prying eyes.

“Who sent you?” The Ventrue demanded, pinning the other with a single hand wrapped around her frail neck, the sunglasses she’d taken earlier slipped down to the tip of her nose.

“W-who do you think, genius?” The girl whispered, still recovering from the initial blow to the back of her head against the wall. “You’re an ass, by the way.” Her knee came up quickly hoping to find its target, but the vampire easily caught her futile attempt, pushing it back down and away.

“They don’t care about you, nor will they ever.” Nicolaus growled, squeezing a little more against her throat, causing her to gasp for air as her own hands frantically came up and held his arm. “You are a pawn in their game, girl, and no one is coming for you.”

“You’re wrong…” The words barely escaped the constriction, and Nicolaus eventually ease his grip, eliciting an immediate inhale and cough from the other. “Th-they love me!”

Nicolaus shook his head in disappointment, almost feeling the twinge of remorse for the young mortal. “Loyalty to their cause is your weakness, and your inevitable demise.”

“Love for the people of this shit city is yours!” The other spat back without missing a beat, still trying to wriggle her way out of the Ventrue’s grasp. “I know who you are, and what you are, Spook, and it doesn’t matter what you do to me, because I’ll never give up my family.”

The girl had most likely been well enough informed by her owners regarding Nicolaus and his position within the Camarilla, but whether she really knew anything more about the kindred remained to be seen as most ghouls are not always privy to the inner workings of their vampire lord’s dealings, whether supernatural or otherwise. But it was clear that the twisted doctrine of the Sabbat was instilled in her young mind and the one obvious truth was that while she assumes her Sabbat “family” will come to her aid, the sad reality of it is that she -like most ghouls bound to the sect- are expendable and therefore left to their own fate. However, regardless of the kine’s own knowledge, the Archon wasn’t about to let such an asset go to waste.

“Listen.” He continued in an even-toned voice, allowing his grip to ease up a bit more as he spoke, sliding the sunglasses off of her face and maintaining steady eye contact. “You presume to know who I am, and so you know I have every right to slit your throat and leave you to the wolves as being affiliated with the Sabbat, yeah?”

“Look, I don’t give a-”

“Ah, but you do.” He promptly interrupted. “See, I believe you care a great deal because you want to be someone of significance to your peers. I can see behind the facade that you are a strong-willed and beautiful young woman, someone who simply wants to belong, and more so, to belong to a cause she can be proud of...”

The Ventrue’s smooth yet commanding voice penetrated the girl’s ears and mind in a way she’d never truly experienced before in her short life. His words demanded her attention, and rather than tuning him out as she would do to most in her arrogance, she couldn’t help but hang on each syllable. Her once tensed muscles began to relax and the expressions on her face wavered, eventually cracking a smile, not out of sarcasm, but an odd sort of contentment as though a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Breaking past her Sabbat blood bond, and gaining his own dominance over her had been a combination of both focus into the other’s eyes, and physical skin contact, thereby enhancing the effect to a point that would ensure subjugation.

The trait, however, that sealed the deal in this case, was Nicolaus’ abilities which had once been forged through his century-long servitude to the Sabbat and the Inquisition. Essentially, it was the right key, to the right set of locks. Unfortunately, this use of psychological manipulation toward kine also crossed several lines of morality that the vampire did his best to hold close since severing his ties from the Sabbat, principles that would help to keep the beast at bay, and humanity sustained. In some respects, Nicolaus felt by freeing her from Sabbat bondage was more of a benefit, even though she would ultimately be under the influence of yet another kindred, Camarilla or not.

In other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Tears that systematically welled up in her eyes had begun to slowly stream down red cheeks, taking with it the heavy mascara that left vertical streaks like tiny fingers across her fair skin. The Ventrue spent several minutes in the initial conditioning phase, reorganizing the girls current thoughts and perceptions on what had recently transpired, giving her reason to want to correct the wrongs that she’d committed against her own kind. The art of the dominationem would take several sessions between the master and servant, multiple meetings to ensure loyalty and that her focus has not wavered even in the slightest. The Archon’s mentalistic and supernatural powers were as such, that he had the ability to plant a single thought into her mind that would ultimately become the “safeguard” if any part of the plan derailed: There was no turning back for her and death by her own hand would be her sole punishment.

“How are you feeling?” Nicolaus released his grip on her, and the girl -who was revealed as being named “Alex”- stood unmoving for a moment but still held onto the smile.

“Wonderful.” She responded in a hushed tone, lifting a hand and placing it against the vampire’s cool skin along one side of his face as her almond-shaped hazel eyes glanced back at him. “Thank you.”

“For what?” He said, gently removing her hand from his face.

“Something to live for.”

“Good. Then let us begin.”
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Letter Bee
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Letter Bee Filipino RPer

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Downtown L.A.

The Reborn Craftmasons had their 'Master Lodge' in an old factory once used to create parts for Movie Sets in Hollywood. Gwen Strong could have afforded a much 'classier', 'swankier' place, but it was her intention that the Awakened would no longer hold themselves aloof from the Sleepers; separated, yes, but only for the necessity of containing Paradox. The official purpose for repossessing the old factory had been to refurbish it and get it running again with new technology and new workers; the current state of tariffs and tax cuts (for now) helped. And indeed, Gwen had further insisted that actual Sleepers should be brought into the surface level of the factory in the daytime/work hours.

This served a threefold purpose. The first was to get Mages working shoulder-to-shoulder with Sleepers in their mundane jobs to foster respect for the latter. The second was to secure the lower levels against infiltration by the enemy Magi; Technocrat and Traditionalist both. The third was to genuinely benefit the Sleeper Workers' lives by providing employment and fair wages; the second half of that is to prove that happy and content workers increased productivity - a lesson the big companies forgot or cast aside. Either way, Gwen Strong was determined not to live in an Ivory Tower, isolated from the world.

When separation was necessary from the Sleepers due to secret projects and Mage convocations, the basements of the factory were repurposed and extended, retrofitted with stolen Technocratic tools and just blatant usage of Magic. This caused many of her followers to balk at first, but Gwen Strong knew that she had to get her former Technocrats working with former Traditionalists and Orphans/Crafts. She already had a set of founding, unifying principles, she told them. These would be submitted for their ratification in their first Convocation. They'll rival the Decleration of the Ivory Tower and the Traditions' Resolutions of Intent; she assured them. And they would, as she had taken wording from both.

Basement of the Factory

In the very bottom of the factory was a large chamber, one obviously made through unnatural means, carved out in the shape of a large ampitheatre that shone with its own light, light that was bright enough to see in, but not so bright that it was uncomfortable. There was no adornment except the sign of the Reborn Craftmasons on the cieling; advice from Edwin, Meredith, and Lance. On a podium located close to the centre of the ampitheatre, Gwen would then speak as an invisible projector created a holographic screen behind her, one that showed ornate runes more associated with the Traditions than the Technocracy, her words firm yet smooth. "I submit these principles to this Assembly of willing partners, and ask for their ratification:"

"One, that there exists in this world Six Moral Foundations, which guide all cultures that perceive themselves as 'pursuing goodness'. These Foundations are Fairness, Prevention of Harm, Purity/Sacredness, In-Group Loyalty, and Purity, and finally, Liberty versus Oppression, real or perceived. These Moral Foundations unify different cultures and religions in pursuit of what is 'Good', and they can do the same for Magi in their pursuit of the 'Optimal Reality'."

"Two, that all ways of pursuing this 'Optimal Reality' that fit all Six Moral Foundations are acceptable, until such time as Awakened and Sleeper alike can choose the shape of Reality through True Consensus."

"Three, that Humanity will not be meneaced by madmen and beasts, that the world must be a place of Kindness and Clarity of Thought," the wording of the original Declaration of the Ivory Tower, only with 'Order' and 'Reason' replaced close to the end. That the governor of Sapientkind, which encompasses Humanity yet is different from Humanity, is Sapientkind itself, and that the Triumph of Humanity within Sapientkind would be coexistence with the Supernatural world and the realization of the Collective Will."

"Four, that War is to be declared on all those who harm the Sleepers; whether they be Sorcerers, Nightgaunts, Faerie, Boggies, Wytches, Dyvells, Changelings, Werebeasts, and all divers Creatures of the Night, including those among the Technocracy who, by their breaking of the Six Moral Foundations, are equivalent to the Creatures they hunt."

"Five, that these Resolutions are to be legitimized by three things; the Sanction of this democratic assembly, the Six Moral Foundations and our determination to act according to them, and the belief in Meaning and Indentity, which is not necessarily belief in the Divine." Gwen cleared her throat, then, and steeled herself for the final Resolution.

"And Six, that once the Traditions and Technocracy have been won over to our point of view, or overthrown, as well as any group that holds Humanity and Sapientkind back, the Reborn Craftmasons will work with the Sleepers to form a New Consensus, a True Consensus that will create a Reality that is inclusive to all yet abides by the Six Moral Foundations."

Once it was clear that Gwen had finished, applause resounded from the benches of the Ampitheatre; the next few hours were ones of ratification.

The morning after that, copies of the 'New Declarations of the Reborn Craftmasons' were released through the Virtual Adepts and Technocracy's own sections of the Digital Web. A new faction of the Ascension War had made its move.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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Los Angeles

Ash and dust crumbled beneath boot as the figures made their way through the ruins of what had once been an enviable home. Overlooking the sweep of LA without being caught in the cacophony that was the Metropolis, it had been one of those places that you could only ever afford if you already lived in one.

These details were lost of those in attendance, not that one could envy much of the charred rubble that surrounded them. A few walls remained standing, enough to provide the outline of the house that had stood, but little more. Little more than ash and dust.

The first figure, taller, more regal, than the comparatively squat beings that followed him, came to a stop. The position wasn't obviously noteworthy, other than being somewhat central to the ex-property, but to the man in question, it had all the note upon this wretched Earth. Lubbock knelt in the dust, although the dirt refused to cling to him, even his clothing protected by the aura of perfection that surrounded the ancient Kindred.

"So. Christopher. This is where you died." His palm spread out upon the ash covered floor, as if attempting to grasp something that was perpetually out of reach, cruelly separated by the crushing weight of the land itself.

"Even in death you disappoint me." The words were ripped from his lips, but they tumbled out with the same smooth command of words that any phrase from Lubbock's mouth. They seemed devoid of emotion, but the fire that burned behind his eyes told a different story. Memories, past the drag of time, of kinship, and shame. "My Son." His voice almost cracked. A flinch so utterly minor as to never register from anyone else, but to come from this being, was enough to make the trio of lesser kindred following him recoil in shock.

"D...Dark Father...What is this place?" The mewling Sabbat wretch trembled, eager to be the first to serve, to wipe away whatever minor tribulation affected the being they were sworn to, and earn himself some minor favour with the powers that be.

"This place? Just another stain on this accursed continent." Lubbock stood with effortless grace, he was facing his companions before they even realised he had moved. His expression did little to calm the weak-willed thralls as they looked upon their master. "America...it is all so....provincial." His face was inches from the other kindred's now, a state of affairs that the weaker being did not enjoy, craning his neck down to avoid making eye contact with the ancient kindred, but try as he might, his eyes were pulled upwards, unable to resist the pull of Toreador's finest.

"My people had built monuments, cities, alphabets, methods of science and understanding that even now kine fail to master and improve, all while the savages of this continent had barely stumbled upon the concept of fire." Lubbock's tone was whimsical for a moment, before his voice crashed in a quiet crescendo of rage.

"And they took him from me." In his blood he could feel it, could sense the conflict that had taken place. The betrayal, the rage, the war. There were unknowns, granted. More than Kindred had fought it, beings of perhaps even greater power. But the Kindred had been of his blood, grand childe and beneath had struck down his progeny. It was Lubbock, not they, who had the right to decide the scope and purpose of his dynasty.

"Oh....Caine save us." One of the thralls whimpered, unable to maintain their silence in the force of Lubbock's emotion as his presence filled the air, the aura of the ancient kindred enough to terrify on its own. Lubbock turned his attention from the nearest to this new target, crossing the ground between them in a painfully slow stride.

"You think that of Caine? You think he notices your worship, little gnat?" He stopped an inch short, but still looking down upon the now shivering creature, who had no words in the face of Lubbock's intensity. Instead, the ancient kindred simply lifted his own head up a fraction, as if craning for a noise.

"Listen to that? Next to silence. You may hear the city, far away, but I imagine it is blissfully quiet." Lubbock exhaled, as if mournfully. "Now, behold my every moment, and then speak to me of Caine as his mercy." Lubbock rested his palm atop the thrall's head, and opened his mind to his.

For every moment of his unnatural life, Lubbock had listen to the will of Arikel, the bickering of the greater kindred that now slumbered beneath the Earth, the fever dream of unfathomably old and powerful vampires from before the age of man. His every waking moment was beset by the chattering of their ambitions, their curses, claws tugging at the skein of his sanity and existence.

Behind them all, was the blazing dark sun of Caine. The beating heart of all Kindred, burning rage and unquenchable first. The guilt of the very first murder. Lubbock allowed himself to slip into it all, a rare occurance, as he let the noise wash over the Sabbat thralls as well, allowed them a glimpse of his eternity.

When he awoke once more, they were dead. One had removed their own features, their form twitching as the final death overcame them, even a Kindred unable to survive the extent of self harm inflicted in those fleeting moments. The others were already ash, the remains of their bones tangled in the rage enduced conflict that had ended them. He was almost sorry to have missed it.

Simple pleasures, simply joys, my darling

It was her, the voice made him shudder, but he recovered without response, snarling to dismiss the siren song of Arikel in his mind. Not tonight.

He had a plane to catch.


"Reports from India remain inconclusive, but what cannot be disputed is the death toll continues to rise, experts indicate that -

He cut the audio from the report with a dismissive wave. The news itself, of what was occurring upon the Indian subcontinent, could not be so readily ignored, but Hardestatd had no current care for what the Kine thought of the situation. He was still concerned with mitigating a wider discovery among Kindred, worry first about that, and then the Masquerade. Another web of lies on top of another web of lies.

Hardestatd exhaled forlornly, his eyes moving from the reports in front of him to his view of the continental US below. The lights of civilisation were few and far between, an expanse of dark stretching out before him.

"Feeling a little glum, childe?" The voice was silk, coming from the figure sat opposite him that had not appeared to be there until a moment before. Unusual for someone to join the Camarilla Elder in so informal a manner while he was working. Even more unusual for the fact they were currently flying aboard one of his fleet of private jets.

There was a surge of movement as the two Kindred bodyguards present blinked to their feet. Both were armed with handguns, specifically modified in both build and ammunition to be more useful against the usually hardy Kindred, but after only a split second of recollection, Hardestadt knew this would be more than pointless even so.

"Lubbock, I would say welcome aboard, but I have a feeling you've been here rather longer." His tone was measured, but it concealed a very frantic mind. Almost palpable in the air, both Ancient Kindred were gathering their power for an imminent conflict.

"Hardestadt, you're looking...young." Lubbock smirked knowingly at the comment, a ribbing jest that passed over the present guards without them registering it, intent only on keeping Lubbock within their sights. In truth, he had mostly likely been there the entire flight. Perhaps not so close to Hardestadt, but a being of Lubbock's ability could had stood among the guards and simply willed them not to notice him.

"Attend to our pilot, see that he is not distracted." Hardestadt commanded them without moving his eyes from Lubbock, to do so would be to open himself up to any manner of aggression, although he doubted his opponent would resort to the physical."

"Sir I-" One began a protest, but thought better of it when Hardestadt waved them off. Both nodded, sidearms holstered, before leaving the pair of ancients within the passenger cabin.

"To what do I owe the pleasure, Matthew?" Few would have ever refereed to Lubbock by his given first name, it was a simple trick, to remind the Methuselah that Hardestatd was also from a time where beings such as they had walked in greater number. Perhaps some ancients were fragile enough to waver at such a surface slight, but not Lubbock, who barely seemed to register it.

"What are your interests in Los Angeles?" Lubbock was entirely without subtlety, but that was not a skill he required at this moment. As the Ancient spoke, Hardestadt felt the will of Lubbock crashing against him, a tide of dark power that even he struggled to hold up. While the two men appeared to simply be speaking cordially, the physical concealed a battle of titanic wills, two masters of presence attempting to engulf the other. Even before he spoke, Hardestadt knew he was losing.

"I might ask you the same."

"I am not the mastermind of an international society, I have rather more free time on my hands. What is so interesting that you feel it necessary to abandon the seat of your Empire at a time like this? You are the most interesting creature I've stumbled upon in months."

"So you have been in the New World for some time, Lubbock, I imagine recent developments may be attributed towards yourself?" It was an obvious deflection, steering the conversation away from a subject he was not willing to crumble on, just yet, even as the desire to simply grant Lubbock his every desire grew within him. Thankfully, for whatever reason, it was a distraction Lubbock was willing to take.

"Indeed, your pawns were rather easy to root out of San Francisco, perhaps you should have exported more accomplished Princes."

"The Sabbat, Lubbock? You disappoint me, you have been a fine Prince in years gone by."

"You believe I still care for your meaningless sects? Your paltry ambitions. The Camarilla was always a game, a past time to while away the years on, that some of you, and your ilk, took to heart. I am no longer intrigued by games, and I play for higher stakes. Lesser Kindred may care about such labels, but all are tools to the true elders." There was madness dancing in Lubbock's eyes, a madness that Hardestatd did not recall from their last meeting.

"You have fallen, Lubbock, where once you were among our greatest."

"You are a sniveling rat, Hardestatd, clutching to the fever dream of you sire because the true night terrifies you, but it is coming, all the same, just like any pawn you will be used as I see fit."

"You call me a rat, Lubbok, scurrying beneath your notice, as you play your long games with your ancients. Have you heard of the Dinosaurs, Lubbock? Great, powerful creatures that ruled this world for millennia before Caine even thought to murder Abel, while mammals scampered about them, beneath their notice. Where are the dinosaurs now Lubbock? And where are the mammals? You make think yourselves untouchable, but these games you ignore are building the future. The True Night shall come, like a meteor, and you will be too overt in your power to be ignored. Myself, and the rest of the scurrying rats, shall inherit the Earth." It was a desperate ploy, more intricate than the last attack on Lubbock. Hardestatd couple not hope to match Lubbock's will or power, but the spider had other means to avoid death.

"The sad thing is, when the final death claims you, I won't even be able to hang your bones in my museum." It was enough. White hot rage bled off of Lubbock, and in that rage, a crack. Hardestadt summoned enough will to act, pushing past the deafening force of Lubbock's presence to drive his will, like a finely honed blade, into the being before him. As he had suspected, the being in front of him was not Lubbock in true form, but a projection, a powerful work of magic and vampiric ability to allow the Ancient to act without fear of the final death. Distracted for a moment from its maintenance, and Hardestatd was powerful enough to put a stop to it.

With a howl of rage, the projection of Lubbock broke apart, coating Hardestatd, and the interior of the jet, in a spray of black, rotten, blood.

Hardestatd allowed a moments pause, his eyes returning to the window, before removing his phone from his right pocket, speed dialing through to his temporary office in LA.

"Victoria? Mhm, yes, please arrange an appointment with the company tailor, I'll require a new suit by the morning."

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Briza
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Briza Roach / ★

Member Seen 14 hrs ago

𝓔sther 𝓟uniceus x x x
sᴀɪɴᴛ sᴏᴘʜɪᴀ's ɢʀᴇᴇᴋ ᴏʀᴛʜᴏᴅᴏx ᴄʜʀɪsᴛɪᴀɴ ᴄᴀᴛʜᴇᴅʀᴀʟ | ʟᴏs ᴀɴɢᴇʟᴇs, ᴄᴀʟɪꜰᴏʀɴɪᴀ

Peter’s body moaned silently as it dragged itself through the corridors of the Church. His darkened eyes faltered, landing cowardly on the three lit candles, like withering irises. Their flames were burning pollen, melting the stems into the finely grounded rocks, Raz, dva, tri... Umirayet zaychik moy...

The heavy close of the wooden doors veiled the masquerade and revealed the day having clothed herself into a maddening darkness with dusty clouds and blankets of sunless sky. The contrast between the dim lights of the Church were still noticeable. Annie’s small body was trembling, kept at a distance that was weary of her Uncle Scott and shunned by the Ventrue. Her small lips made no sound, pressed together in a supple manner of confused innocence. The Malkavian cracked a smile, uncurling his posture to her vulnerable attired emotions and bare neck, uncurtained by her golden locks dressed once in a bun, and while closing the gap between the girl and him, Peter toyed with his voice, “One, two, three, four, five. Zaychik came out to play.” His hand extended and crawled through the air swiftly as it took hold of the scruff of her neck, petting the nymphette’s nape lightly.

“Privezli yego domoy Okazalsya on zhivoy,” Esther finished the rhyme, “You tease her too much, Uncle Scott,” she gently scolded as her steps slowed to allow the two others the ability to retain the same pace as she was traveling. The heels of her shoes clicked softly against the gray pavement, carefully judging the wrinkles in the cement as they landed. Esther’s back was arched straight, holding her head high with an authoritative air. Perhaps, she had overstepped her conversation. It so much appeared patience and time were not on her side tonight, “Ivan is a bit away down the road,” her chin nodded towards. A black sedan that was parked a little ways from the cathedral, “He’ll be able to help us with your attire.”

Esther had not been the least bit amused with the Malkavians outfit, especially in reference to his attending a ballet recital at Pepperdine University, so eloquently adjusted in Malibu. The pretentious disposition, which rested on her face, smiled in regards to her comment. Although, there was a shrug of hope that his performance would give his new outfit any true longevity, she was calloused towards crushed dreams and was rich enough to not mind a short lived suit, so long as it served its purpose.

The Malkavian made no reply to her nipping commentary. His mind was long gone, tangled with the flocculent flesh running over Annie's mortal parts. Esther took note of his lack of response and continued in her walk towards the Rolls Royce, parked under the dusky covers of trees, hiding the streetlights and any attention that might be watching or listening. It might have been well that there had been only an ignorant reply to Esther's commentary.

As the three approached closer, it was made out that inside the dark car, there was a shadow of a driver who was propped in his seat with an arm relaxed on the sill of the window. His clothed elbow was leaning against the pain, and his cheek was pushed into a closed knuckle. A solemn emotion was drawn on his face, even with his eyes watching intently and brutally as he watched the three figures emerge from the large temple. His body did not stiffen or relax at their sight; and it was not until Esther opened the door, did the man stir, brustling his skin against coarse hair.

“Dear Ivan, oh were, oh where did your manners go? Tsk. Tsk.” A quiet glare pierced over the driver. His body tensed at the sound of her voice snipping through his strings of lull. A moment of silence passed through him as he tried to find means of attention and begs for mercy in a pious manner. Her demeanor was offering less of a threat than the internal flame raging inside of her. He was sure of it as klutzy movements or large hands pushed open the driver door to help the two others inside of the sedan, forfeiting his intelligence.

“Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?” Peter mocked the driver. His smile wired up his face as he studied Ivan, “Why, she's been to London to visit the queen, and all the bridges are falling, falling, falling down.” His hand left Annie’s neck and crept towards Ivan’s tan, masculine features. Excitement was dripping from his movements as his upper body leaned forward, giving the escort several kisses upon both of his clean shaven cheeks. A laugh was bubbling inside of Peter, but for unbeknownst reasons it refused to truly surface and merely swayed the Kindred into the car, bloated with a saturated memory of the father’s taste. He would gladly dine again with Esther's permission.

The little ghoul crept after her master, tiptoeing around the brunt card driver, as if he was a large monster, ready to erupt at any moment, even if he, too, was also on his toes, afraid to cause any stir in his mistress’ temperament. The ghoul, void of emotions and moving in frames of kindred instinct, snuggled up close to her master, and her head limped like a doll against his side. The leather seating was stiff and made their own sounds with the movements of the two, but soon after, with the presence of Esther fuming with a heavy pretense of despondency that drowned out any curses from the Cobweb, quietness appeared from both of the backseat passengers.

Ivan closed the door and swept his own huge body into the car, once more — Esther was already settled, sitting upright and patiently agitated, wandering memories of her own undead life, “We are going to San Francisco, my dear Ivan. If you could please, pozhaluysta.” She spoke politely and grimly to him, turning her cheek slightly to face him. His obedience stirred stiff muscles to start the car, and after the car started with a low rumbling purr, her last words spoken before entering San Francisco were, “Thank you. Spasibo.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Rawk
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Rawk Perfectly Broken

Member Seen 2 mos ago

Los Angeles | Wilshire Blvd Offices

“Yep, it's a fake alright.” Lawrence Heston, the prematurely balding thirty-something human officer associated with the LAPD’s bomb division stated bluntly. “And a terrible one at that. Have you seen the flimsy plastic parts dangling off the trigger bracket.” He chuckled while pointing at the innards of the square metal device that was originally given to Nicolaus by the girl on the street. “Oh man, a child could have-"

The officer looked up in mid sentence and noticed the others unimpressed expression at bad humor. “Is there anything you can tell me about where the parts had come from?” The Ventrue asked, arms crossed as he stood over the table with small intricate pieces scattered about and a few tools laid out.

“Uh, yeah sure Mister Strom.” Lawrence cleared his throat and nervously adjusted his glasses. “At first I figured maybe it was ordered online, because you can order just about kind of shit on Amazon or Ebay from anywhere in the world. But then I cross-referenced the serial numbers found on a few of the copper and plastic hardware, and it all lead to a computer manufacturing company in Miami, Florida. So what, right?” The officer shrugged. “So I continuing digging around, crossing this info with that info, and voila!, among the various retail electronic stores they cater to throughout the country, they’re also the exclusive vendor to LA’s own Hotwired Electronics, which was the very retail store where the source of the explosion happened.

Nicolaus thought for a moment. “Seems less like a turf dispute and more along the lines of destroying the competition. Literally.”

“Hey, he does have jokes.” The other chuckled, before continuing. “But yeah, in retrospect, that sounds plausible.”

Officer Heston was a good lad, probably one of the best when it came to his line of work within the LAPD’s Explosives Division, and being a retainer on the Camarilla’s payroll wasn’t a bad deal for him either. Money is always wonderful motivator. As when dealing with most kine, however, they were given just enough information and evidence to lead things toward “human-based” criminal activity and away from the supernatural realm, and many of the recent Sabbat uprisings have most definitely been seen as nothing more than “gang violence” in the eyes of local law enforcement and the media. Of course it helped when kindred had their hands in every facet of the mainstream leftist media monster, essentially guaranteeing that people see what they want them to see. But as most Kindred were well aware, especially those more concerned with keeping the Masquerade as solidified as possible, the secret war being waged and the oncoming events leading up to much more devastating things weighed heavily each day. Nicolaus, over many decades has put aside the prideful outlook of his species and come to the realization that he is but a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things -a tool of enforcement to laws and traditions that were slowly tearing at the seams- but a speck nonetheless. Either way, he vowed until Final Death to eradicate the Sabbat inch-by-inch, yard-by-yard, until their ashes covered the earth itself, and were trampled underfoot by those who deserved to walk upon its surface once again.

“Thank you, Lawrence, for your help tonight.” Nicolaus put a hand on the other’s shoulder. “I know you sacrificed an evening with your family to be here, so do not think that gesture has gone unnoticed, my friend.”

The officer nodded as he stood from the desk chair, collecting the few tools and electronic sensors he’d used in his diagnostics, as well as folding up the laptop before replacing into his bag. “Well, if it helps to catch the bastards who did this then you know I’m all for it, sir.” He said, shaking the other’s hand, a bit caught off-guard once skin touched skin. “Geez, might want to turn the A/C off for awhile, your hands are cold.”

Nicolaus forced a smirk as he relinquished his grip. “Perhaps.”

“So, y’all have a good night.” He said, waving to the young redhead sitting behind the desk across the room who’d been typing furiously at the computer for almost an hour. She raised a hand and waved back without taking her eyes from the screen. “I’ll take that.” He said with a sheepish grin as he made his way out through the office doors.

“That guy creeps me out everytime he’s here.” Adriana, the girl behind the desk, said after a few moments. “Can’t figure out for the life of me why though…” She shrugged, picking up the travel mug next to her and knocking back the room-temperature blood that was already halfway empty. “Mmm.” She allowed her tongue to savor the vitae as it ran down her throat like silk, before going back to whatever she was doing.

Nicolaus shook his head, never quite understanding the fledgling vampire that had been assigned the task of record-keeping for most of Nicolaus’ cases over the past six months. She was intelligent beyond her early twenty-something years, and while her personality borderlined on impulsive decisions and just plain quirkiness, Adriana’s investigative and research skills continued to impress Nicolaus all the more, making her virtually indispensable. It took the Elder vampire some time to become adjusted to even having her in the same room, as their personalities were not always in agreement, but there was also those few aspects of the young girl that reminded him of his Elizabeth.

“Well lucky for you he only comes around every few weeks.” The Ventrue said while sifting through a folder. “Although I imagine he would much rather deal with you than me.”

“Ugh, that’s not something you need to remind me.” She said with a sour expression. “Oh, by the way boss, you have box that was received by the day crew, although they left it in the warehouse.” She waved her hand lazily toward the back door that lead to the storage area. “Looks like some kind of wooden crate. I had ol’ Lawrence sniff around to make sure nothing was ticking, and it was clean.”

“I appreciate the consideration...” Nicolaus said in a low tone, only half listening, as he searched through an old file dated several years ago which listed three or four dozen different known Sabbat affiliations within . “I knew it.” He mumbled, running his finger down the list of entries until it landed on one which stuck out. Written in blue ink as an additional notation was the business name “Hotwired Electronics”, although it had been followed up with a question mark encased in parenthesis. The vampire closed his eyes for a moment and reached back, pulling certain memories as best he could from the night in question, the night he’d first encountered Sabbat presence within Los Angeles, and the alleged hive which was buried deep inside the slums of Skid Row. Amongst the homeless and broken; the refuge, and pestilence, was a dark stairway that lead down to the entrance. At that entrance was a steel door, marked up with filth and graffiti, and barricaded from the inside. Above that door, however was the housing of a security camera with the small silver nameplate of “Hotwired Electronics” riveted on the underside. Cross-referencing them with flashes of memories he’d managed to collect from Alex’s psyche, he searched through the chaotic patterns of the girl's thoughts as though he were swimming through heaps of trash.

“There you are.” He whispered to himself, as the image of the one he’d been looking for came into focus, even if for a moment. “Cyrus-”

Nicolaus was, to his displeasure, knocked from his trance-like state by a loud thump, as apparently Adriana had taken the liberty of -quite effortlessly- bringing the wooden mystery crate up to the front herself, and plopping it down onto her desk not five feet away.

“Sorry.” She said with a half smile. “I couldn't help myself.”

The Ventrue stared at the other with eyes that could burn through a steel wall, until relaxing his visage and returning his attention to the files. “Go ahead then, open it up.”

“Oh good!” The redhead exclaimed in a rather giddy tone. “It's like Christmas all over again.”

With little resistance, she pried the top off of the crate, and pulled away the insulation to reveal a beautiful bottle of liquor and an accompanying glass, each looking very expensive in their own right. “Wow, someone must really want your attention.” She said, holding up the bottle to examine it. “A lady friend?” Adriana immediately let out a gasp when she picked up the business card. “Holy shit! Gallery Sixty-Six! I've heard of this place. It's new and supposedly very chic.” She removed the cap on the bottle in her hand, and put her nose up to the mouth, inhaling the aroma with hints of honey and vitae. “Wow, so it looks like we might have a member of Kindred society flagging you down, boss. Or, at the very least, a ‘vampire groupie’.”

The Ventrue looked up from his work and walked across the aisle, scanning his eyes along the contents of the mahogany crate. “Well whoever it was that sent this has excellent taste in their liquor as well as the goblets.” He lifted the glass and held it eye level, examining its shape and curvature.

“So, when do we leave?” The other asked, trying to stifle her otherwise excited tone, just before placing her lips against the bottle opening and tipping it back far enough to taste a spoonful, the liquor assaulting her supernatural senses, sending a bit of vibe up her spine. “Oh my…” She whispered.

“Leave to where?” Nicolaus inquired just before the phone in his breast pocket chimed and vibrated, indicating an urgent email message was sent. He carefully placed the glass goblet back into the fitted indentation and slipped his phone out to check the message.

“Gallery 66 of course.” The other continued, wiping a bit of the liquid from the corner of her mouth, allowing her body to absorb the succulence. “Clearly this was an invite.”

Nicolaus narrowed his eyes as he first saw the email address of the sender, and then the brief but very obvious and required summons from the Baroness of Los Angeles.

Yanci Carolina. I can only imagine what you would need me for...

“Everything okay, boss?” Adriana asked while recapping the bottle and placing it on her desk.

“Everything is fine.” He said after a few moments before replacing the phone in the breast pocket of his coat. “And it looks like, coincidentally, we'll be heading to Gallery 66.”
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