Recent Statuses

19 hrs ago
Current Aerie ads when I just want to check for a new post is a new low, Adsense.
21 hrs ago
Easy target. 1x1 can be stupid gross, let's be real. Everyone knows it, from the newest member to the oldest. Some great reads if you can pick around the gross, though.
1 day ago
No flakes? Way to exclude all of the Guild.
3 days ago
I just want post. Why, God, why...
19 days ago
Apologies for PM response times, I guess logging in once a month is just what I do now. Also sorry random folks PMing me requests, definitely not on staff these days. Check the Staff page.


Unless you want to offer RP, I don't care, you're better off not sending it my way.

Arena Stats

1 Wins / 0 Losses / 0 Draws
1100 points

Most Recent Posts

Getting down to the valley and the nearest town was no fun for Theodore. For one, he kinda slipped leaving the cabin and stepping down off its porch. Not enough for people to notice, just enough to silently smash his shin bone. Then there was the awkward silence of the Canadian, and his two operators just stared indifferently. Blessedly while it was a bumpy ride, the weight of Wolverine kept them from bouncing too much. For not being all that tall, the man sure was heavy. Exotic metals had a way of doing that, he found himself thinking as they transferred from the one vehicle to the outskirts of town, and a few different vehicles. The vehicle on the way up and down was the Canadian's, whereas they had borrowed an unmarked black car and a black SUV from the FBI's Toronto office.

Standing next to their vehicles were people he didn't recognize; two blondes, man and young woman. The man was dressed in cargo shorts and a dark blue dress shirt with top and bottom buttons were casually undone, and Theodore knew he knew the face. The young woman was well dressed, designer white dress slacks with a cashmere sweater on top. There was no time for introductions because they didn't appear to need them:

"Hey Logan. We were asked to offer a ride."

Theodore stared with some level of confusion as the man spoke in a familiar and friendly tone to the mutant Theodore had gone up a mountain to retrieve. Before Theodore could say a word, the young blonde spoke, though Theodore's mind snapped to the man's identity in that moment: the young woman sounded as cold as ice, but the man was literally cold as ice--he was the Ice-Man, Bobby Drake. "Deputy Director, we are here on behalf of the nation of Krakoa."

"Okay," was all Theodore heard himself say, as his mind was no longer a step ahead of his words, "then why aren't I hearing about this from my State Department? Are you credentialed with the United States State Department as a representative of your government? Not for nothing, but, if you want people to take you seriously you might try to follow at least one or two rules of being a sovereign state."

The young woman's eyes were crystal blue, and in that moment they smoldered like angry coals. Theodore felt pressure at the corners of his eyes, and it didn't stop until Drake spoke up, cheerily, clearly interrupting, "Yeah, things happened a little fast but! We got a Gateway." Drake moved aside and motioned behind them, to a short, square, dark skinned man that looked Aborigenese, thick white hair with a thick white beard. An old face that looked to Theodore like it had seen more than easily imagined, and said little about it. Theodore looked back up to Drake as the short man gave a silently raised palm in greeting at the site of Logan. Drake immediately knew what Theodore was missing, "Gateway makes portals. Faster than rentals and government planes?"

He could get home possibly days faster without travel time? Theodore nodded, "Yeah, of course. Why didn't you just say so?"

Logan was an unstoppable force of death, Bobby Drake was an Omega level mutant. The girl was a telepath, something he was trained to recognize. What exactly was he going to do? Tell them all to go away? The portal itself was a standard portal, as far as Theodore knew. It was bright enough to not see past it, and circular in shape. The two Krakoans went through first, while his men declined, and the Mountie seemed to wish he could. Logan walked through matter-of-factly. A portal, so what? Old news. Theodore stared, poked, and finally, with the sound of the old man chuckling, went through.

The perimeter camp outside Salem Center, New York, was National Guard metahuman response units and the FBI, though it was the S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicles at a nearby cluster of parked vehicles outsides several mobile labs that caught his eye. The Operations Center was where they were supposed to go, Drake and the young blonde just fell in line. Logan did not. In fact, even after Bobby Drake called out twice Logan didn't look to budge an inch. His body faced towards the town, eyes glazed like he could actually see a thousand miles away if he just focused hard enough. Nevermind the only thing visible was highway and old farming homesteads and trees and trees.

All Theodore remembered after calling out to Logan was the flash of light, and scream that followed.
Theodore Bailey put his hands up, palms out, surprise plain on his face. He was nervous, so he spoke fast. He wasn't trying to hide his anxiety, he wasn't trying to mask or bluff the fear of the threat Logan presented. "Whoa-whoa-whoa. If I knew you had a phone, or the number to it, do you think I really bother coming up here all this way before at least trying to call first? You hurting me would represent a serious diplomatic shitstorm between the US and Krakoa, and I'm being as honest with you as I can be."

That Logan put the phone down instead of turning it off...made the wheels in Theodore's head spin at reckless speeds. Was someone trying to mess with him? Was someone trying to mess with Logan? Was it the Shi'ar? That person was a telepath, why would they need to use a phone? By the time he realized it, Theodore had already backed up nearly five feet, far closer to the door than he was to the kitchen now. His responses did seem to fly in the face of what Theodore had been told by analysts. Mutants and the Avengers weren't on the best of terms, with Cyclops on record as stating when the Avengers and the Earth need the back-up, the mutants are there. When the roles are reversed, when 60 million mutants are slaughtered, where are the Avengers?

Then again, Theodore considered, he might be talking to one of the few mutants still more friendly than not to the Avengers, and humanity. He was told there was typically friction between Wolverine and Cyclops. "I don't know about the phone. We're in the N.S.A., if you want I can track it? Otherwise all I know is what I was telling you. Shi'ar representative comes down, demands 'dangerous criminal' Jean Grey be released to their custody. Cops say sorry, lady, Jean Grey is dead. Shi'ar representative says, 'Look again. I'll wait.' That's it. So let's be clear: I don't know your past, it's a very classified record. Even to me. I don't know much about Jean Grey, she's somehow more classified. Jubilation Lee we know basics, but much of the juicy stuff is, you guessed it, classified by S.H.I.E.L.D...did Jubilee know what's happening in New York? Do you? Is it tied to Jean Grey? I've sent as many robots and drones into this situation as I can, I'm asking you to walk into where no one as walked out of because it used to be your home, and it might be because of someone you're connected to?"

Theodore gave a tiny sigh, before forcing himself to continue, "I know it's a crappy ask. I know it's a crappy plan. I'm not S.H.I.E.L.D., or S.W.O.R.D. I'm just a former cop and lawyer that's been promoted too many times. I try to be a good man, I try to do the right thing. Washington politics wants to love Krakoa, or burn it down, but I'm telling you I'm just trying to find answers for why people are disappearing and why reality stops working safely around your old school. That's it. I'm not from your world, I don't want to be."

He liked that his biggest dilemma was whether he could make his son's baseball games on Saturday, not a world ending threat or the lines between life and death blurring. The suits and their handlers and hangers-on could have all of that, he was just a normal guy. And he liked it that way.
Theodore held his breath as the door opened, hands tense and stuffed into the pockets of his designer jacket, only relaxing when one of his operatives gave him the nod. That alone felt like a lucky break. None of them had the equipment or firepower to take the mutant out, let alone even give them an opening to escape. So much of the man's file was classified even beyond his eyes, but what was there made it very clear that trying to extract from the man in the wilderness was about as likely to work as trying to beat him in a fist fight. There was no middle ground.

He was the last one to the door, but the only one to actually go inside the cabin. The other three hung back, outside, where they vastly preferred to be. The cabin was simple, small. Theodore considered asking Logan if he built it himself, but in the end Theodore's mind just became too busy catching little details that probably meant nothing and would never be of any real importance. But he liked detective novels, and you never knew what little detail mattered. The phone was one that seemed important. Not just that it was there, though Theodore supposed no one who had ever been an Avenger would ever suddenly stop being contacted by authorities, or more likely, by friends in need.

Theodore paused as he shut the door behind him, studying Logan's body language as he put the phone up to his ear. It was a strange conversation, if it was a conversation at all. "Theodore Bailey, Deputy Director of the United States' National Security Agency. I mainly oversee field operations, except weirdest thing happened...I get a call from the F.B.I. They're afraid something too big for them is going on, after getting a call from New York State Police saying they're afraid something is too big for them."

He moved in closer, away from the door, away from the immediate chill and closer to the warmth of the kitchen. Just not too close. As easily as Theodore got comfortable in any kind of setting, strange a skill as it was, the man seated for a meal that Theodore was interrupting was a super-powered mutant that could dispatch him with the blink of an eye, and likely never see the inside of a courtroom, let alone a jail cell, for the crime. Especially now that every mutant in the world was claimed by Krakoa, and subject to Krakoan justice, not the host nation's justice. That bugged him.

"Turns out it's Xavier's old mansion and the school there. What's left of it, after the attack that closed it down, an attack you were Headmaster of the school for, if the records are accurate." His tone was somber, his voice spoken slow, respectful. Theodore was well aware 60 million mutants had died, and not just on Genosha. Wolverine had made it so most of the student body escaped. Yet another superheroic feat from a man even his own friends admitted, 'probably wasn't that good of a guy.'

"About half a mile away from the grounds in any direction. Birds fly in, they never fly out. People go in, they never come out. It's been that way for three weeks. We've determined it's not another government, it's not a Hydra, or A.I.M. Krakoa has not been told, that didn't stop a mutant from finding out and getting past the National Guard security perimeter we set up. You know them as 'Jubilee', I believe. She has yet to come out, as well. We don't know if it's a death field, if it's supernatural. Weirder a Shi'ar Empire representative arrived a few days ago near the site, demanding the release of the dangerous crimina--"

Theodore stopped talking as the phone cut through, interrupting. Theodore met eyes with the mutant, and waited. "Don't let me interrupt what you already had going on, please."
The flight had not been kind. Flights, more accurately, Theodore noted to himself. Canadian permission had been not as kind as he had expected, but apparently, the man named Logan, and nothing else, was a bit of a sore spot for the Canadian government. He'd spent hours on the phone with various analysts, and even a few civilians. Mutants had become a different kind of issue since the emergence of Krakoa. Krakoa had become not unlike Atlantis, or even Wakanda, the analysts had noted; key difference being Atlantis stayed very hidden and isolated, and Wakanda was famously isolated from the wider world community of nations.

Krakoa was geographically isolated, certainly, the closest landmass to it being the Wake Islands in the Pacific. But as a government, it was more active and available. The biggest difference seemed to Theodore to be that unlike Wakanda and Atlantis, their citizens wouldn't just appear in your backyard come puberty and become potential international incidents with a superpowered nation. After one flight in a jetstream, one flight in a bush plane, and one flight in a helicopter by way of the Royal Canadian Mounties, Theodore had the time to process the information.

Jean Grey made less sense in this, but Maria Hill thinking she was central after the Shi'ar demand meant, way he saw it, Grey was connected to New York. Wolverine was scary enough, but Jean Grey had a higher threat designator. The same one given to other beings that could reportedly end the world with a snap of their fingers. Telekinesis was bad enough, but telepathy? Her designator for telepathy was Omega. In the Jeeps on the way up into the arctic forest valley, not too far past the last remnant of civilization in a logger's camp, Theodore hoped he'd see his children again after today. That he wouldn't have his mind twisted into believing he was a dog, barking at the moon, for the rest of his days.

Just getting to the cabin took parking the Jeeps and hiking much of the rest of the way. In the past day, two more people had slipped past the New York National Guard security perimeter. The number of people who were lost past the boundry was now up to sixteen. Time was waning. The uniformed mountie led the way, two N.S.A. operators flanked him on either side of the cabin door, while Theodore found himself distracted by the smell of cooking. It was later than they thought it would be when they arrived, clearly catching the mutant at a meal. And a call, judging by the sound of a ringing phone coming from the cabin interior. The exterior sound was nothing but wind and the random cracks and creaks and rustle of a forest nearby.

The firm, brief, knock of the uniformed Mountie at the door of the cabin snapped Theodore out of it. "Mr. Logan, this is Officer Longmire of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I have with me agents of the U.S. government who would very much like a word with you regarding an important situation."

Theodore thought the Mountie hid it very well: the terror and fear of knocking on that door, knowing how powerless any of them were should this mutant rampage, or simply take violent exception to their presence. Theodore had seen metahumans 'teach' officers of the law lessons before. Official funerals were always the worst ways to say goodbye to old colleagues. The sound was nothing; no immediate reply. The smell of dinner seemed to get stronger, but the only noise was that of wind and forest around.

Until that phone started ringing again.

Was someone trying to warn him?

After a few minutes, the Mountie looked back at Theodore. He shrugged at the man, and made the knocking motion. After a long stare, the Mountie slowly turned around, and gathered his courage to knock again.
"We won't get far, flying circles inside a jar..."

Having survived Civil Wars, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, the near extinction of mutants, the destruction of everywhere they have called home in the past, and prolonged conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers what's left of the world's mutant population have found a new home on the island of Krakoa under the guidance of a murdered and resurrected Charles Xavier, Magneto, and every major leader in the remaining mutant population with few exceptions.

Human fear and anger are at an all-time high, while mutant fear and anger are at an all-time high.

Former X-Men and Former Avenger Wolverine does not seem to care, passing his time brooding and drinking and wandering the Canadian arctic forests and the sparse civilization that eeks out a living where the civilized world meets wilderness.

The Shi'ar Empire has sent Xandra, future Empress, to Earth to deliver demand for the release of intergalactic criminal Jean Grey into the custody of the Shi'ar Empire. Unfortunately, the young and inexperienced Xandra made this demand to a New York State Trooper and her partner. The two officers, by way of a Google search, inform Xandra that Jean Grey is dead.

Xandra informs the officers, and Google, to "look again."

Set after Hickman's Avengers and Fantastic Four titles, and more or less right after Swords of X.
"No, no sir. Let us be exceedinly clear in this fact: S.W.O.R.D. is a sister agency, an equal."

Theodore had never liked lawyers, however many he knew, he had in his family, or how helpful they could be. His only visible reaction was a pause in the motion of silently fidgeting the pen in his left hand, and a long stare at the young woman apparently having her very own 'you go girl' moment at his expense. Not that it mattered to him, anyway, but he was too polite to point that out in the moment. "...right. Okay. So I can talk to S.W.O.R.D., but not to S.H.I.E.L.D.?"

The young lawyer with the Inspector General's Office pursed her lips, and shrugged. "Depends."

The laughter that sounded from his mouth was anything but amused in that moment. Yes, he hated lawyers, the fact made him drop his pen from his hand and run fingers from both his hands through his dark brown hair that was a good three weeks overdue for a cut. The stress of constantly changing rules and landscapes. "On what, Eileen? Damn, I'm not trying to step into this. I'm not trying to use this for any inter-agency agendas. I want no stress-tests. Tell me who to pass it to, and I'll happily dump it on their ass."

Eileen looked uncomfortable. "Without knowing more, and I can't know more, all I can do is tell you where to go. After the alien Skrull compromise of S.H.I.E.L.D., Osborne turned it all into H.A.M.M.E.R. Turning it back into S.H.I.E.L.D. took time, less time with Director Hill, but during restructuring Congress did the rare bi-partisan thing and severed S.W.O.R.D. from S.H.I.E.L.D. because it never had those security issues. Circling back to the original question--"

"--yeah that'd be nice," Theodore perked higher in his cozy office chair.

"--no, Maria Hill, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. has no legal authority or basis to interject on a matter between your office, N.S.A. Deputy Director, and anyone in S.W.O.R.D. Maria Hill would, it is reasonably supposed, have security clearance levels for discussion, though 'need to know' criteria issues would clearly exist." The counsel from the Inspector General's Office paused, before throwing in: "However, you can't tell N.A.S.A."

Theodore blinked, his tone deeping with the intrigue in the random legal fact he couldn't tell N.A.S.A. about an extra-solar issue. "I can't tell N.A.S.A.? Not that I was considering it, but why the hell not?"

"N.A.S.A. has a higher approval rating than any intellience or defense oriented agency. The desire is to keep them out of any potential scandal or conflict."

"The Switzerland of the US Intelligence-Defense industry? Fair enough." A sigh cascaded through him; from feet to face, the weight of it all finally disagreeing with his body in ways few things in his career had. "You have to leave now, counsel, I have a secure call to make and I can't wait."

The call went about as feared. Abigail Brand was the Director of S.W.O.R.D. She wasn't all human, was Theodore's initial thought as he stared at her image on the projected 8k screen on the empty office wall, a signal encrypted between his office in the Pentagon and the space station S.W.O.R.D. head-quarted itself out of. Mutant, maybe? Alien?" A strange thought, trusting the safety of Americans when it came to extraterrestrial threats to an alien. Like when their agencies turned to Muslim members of their agencies post-9/11. Or to S.H.I.E.L.D. after New York City. Or to H.A.M.M.E.R. after Stamford, Connecticut.

He couldn't help but wonder just where Krakoa, Xavier, and Lensherr would drive them. Something he liked to ignore as much as he ignored the presence of dormant super-volancos or rogue asteroids that could, theorhetically at least, smash into them any day and kill them all assuming the capes couldn't do enough to stop it. Superheroes were real enough, but none of them were Superman of the comic books. He had met a few during his career, shaken hands with Steve Rogers a few times. There were good ones. Rare as it seemed to be.

Even someone like Charles Xavier had gone from 'living together in peace' to 'stay in your corner, we'll stay in ours, no problems.' Lensherr could wear all the white and silver he wanted, it wouldn't make Theodore feel any better about the man. Brand proved unhelpful, pointing him to Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Special Threat Assessment for Known Extranormalities division regarding New York. It made him laugh, because of course there was another division of S.H.I.E.L.D. And of course it had a similarly ridiculous name. Theodore was starting to feel inadequate with short and simple National Security Agency. It's like they WANT people knowing what they do.

As for the angry and super-powered representative of the Shi'ar Empire? That, much to his great relief, Brand had agreed to deal with. She also tossed him a name of someone who might work with them, if they got desperate. He didn't recognize the name, and plugging it into the N.S.A. classified database got him...God dammit. It was the height of irritation that drove him to the phone on his desk. It took a call to their dispatch, who would reach out to their dispatch, who would authenticate and relay.

It took twenty minutes to go through. They were clearly in the middle of some fire fight, although from the sound of it maybe lasers were being fired as well? Who-the-fuck knew. Theodore felt like a child envious of the adults at the adult table during Thanksgiving. He had wanted to avoid this for many reasons; the sheer pain of dealing with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a 'regular' agency of the government had to be what cops felt like when they dealt with superheroes on the streets. Thanks. We exist, too, and yeah, we have a job to do too. Oh. Thanks. We'll just...clean it all up. Cool.


Theodore wasn't offended. Maria Hill was, well, Maria Hill. He had started in the F.B.I., been plucked by the C.I.A. for field work and analyst duties before accepting Operations Chief for a joint C.I.A./N.S.A. terrorism task force. Pivoting from that to computer crimes, and especially large ransom ware cases, had given him bonafides in the N.S.A. world. Now he was having to cold call a woman who had probably seen more extinction events narrowly avoided in her life than amount of times he had fired his sidearm in real action.

"Theodore Bailey, Deputy Director at the N.S.A. for--"

"--Teddy Bailey? Heard about you. Aliens getting under your skin, Deputy Director?"

She didn't seem at all phased by the shootout she was in, and he spent too much of his attention trying to figure out what her sidearm was. Didn't look like something he had seen. "Abigail Brand was very helpful on that front, Director Hill. Nevermind I had no idea what they were talking about, or that you already knew about it."

He could, literally, hear the amusement in her voice as she returned fire. "We are S.H.I.E.L.D., Deputy Director."

Argh... His eyes didn't roll, despite the desire. "Director Brand offered a name that might agree to help. Turns out she recommended Wolverine. S.H.I.E.L.D. restricts access to that file, Director...why do I feel like everyone knows something I don't, Director Hill?"

He watched her on the 8k projection, slide down into cover and stare into the camera. "What exactly did the Shi'ar representative say?"

"You'll have to officially request the transcript, Director...but the gist of it was something about a flaming bird and a very large intense grievance and not in over four hundred years, but not our years, their years and...New York. I know New York's significance."

"Teddy Bailey, get every scrap of information on Jean Grey you can get, and go prepared to meet Wolverine. You're the N.S.A., you can find him. Then hope all you need is one Avenger, and not all of them. If I don't hear from you in...twenty-four hours I'll find you."

Theodore didn't want to betray his poker face. So instead of raising a single eyebrow in curiosity, he kept it all closer to the vest. "Your concern is appreciated, Director."

"This isn't concern."

"Really? I just had legal counsel telling me S.H.I.E.L.D. did not, could not, take such stances any longer."

"Twenty-four hours. Enjoy backwoods Canada this time of year, Deputy Director."
I shall be in, choomba.
Character sheet is finished! Behold, my 7'1 Romanian sunovamage. There may be a few changes here and there to better suit the campaign, but the gist of the sheet will remain the same.

Let me dust off my stamp. Oof, that dust.


“Sorry for being you?” That Eva’s face could ignite from faux shock and bright smiles from the placid surface of the mystery woman floating before and behind the counter of the bar was in no small part a clue as to why Hollywood was, in fact, Hollywood. Eva could no more hold Santa Barbara against Nicole than she could hold a bad attitude against Yanci, or San Diego’s messiness against Dre.
Eva could only control what she could control, and she knew it.
“We all tend to disappear from time to time,” Maty shrugged even as he delicately helped clean up the clean mess, careful not to let it spoil the purple velvet vest. To say nothing of effortlessly sliding himself into the conversation between Nicole and Eva. “Granted we aren’t all you.” Words spoken so gently as Maty ensured the granite was left clean when mortal bartenders were allowed back in. Not that they minded, Maty knew; they were relaxing in their crew lounge or their own state rooms. Comfy beds there, he had passed out in one once.
“That’s true. The expense to keep Nicole safe and secret far exceeds what the Camarilla had to spend on me, for example.”
Rachel did the math, but it wasn’t what Maty meant. They knew it, even Rachel KNEW it, she just preoccupied herself with other details. Yanci had no such distraction, although even her voice was warmer tones on the subject, “It’s not the cost. They have something…intense, special. Intimate.”
Eva’s back was turned to the scene, already asking Henry how he was feeling as she handed his drink to him after the gaggle behind the bar produced it throughout the mess cleaning and other dramas. If the subject at hand affected her in any way, it simply wasn’t visible. The woman who gave Carmen San Diego a run for her money just didn’t give much away. Except, of course: “The one part was wrong,” she said with a pause, a pause to steal a sip of Henry’s drink and a wince that followed. “The part about Henry.”
“What??” came from most of the room.
Yanci knew. “Oh, that part was telepathic.”
Maty perked, “Nicole had a telepathic thing about Henry?”
“No offense who the fuck hasn’t had a—”
Eva had to laugh, much as she quickly reigned it in. “Nice drink.” A simple smile to Henry, her face actually almost red before she turned away from Henry and towards the bar and most the others. “She smells the lupines on him, but she gets something else. Something that puts hairs on end.”
“Uh,” Dre began, sounding part dumbfounded, “try he’s the literal Devil.”
Rachel found Grace’s suddenly intense gaze, and slowly nodded. Her tone was much more sober than Dre’s on the topic. “As far as we can tell, Henry Locke is some aspect of Lucifer Morningstar. When you bleed starlight and can make ancient Kindred and magic users shift uncomfortably when you get angry and slashy…”
Eva finished the thought, “You tend to stand out. Cheers to you, by the way,” the last bit quietly said as an aside to the man just beside her, Henry, as she tried to raise his own drink to him—until he stole it away from her. Undaunted she stood to her feet in the black leggings and sleeveless white tee, hair in a ponytail that looked far better than any effort that went into it. A ponytail Eva found her left fingertips absently running through as she looked around the bar of the yacht, and took a breath only anxiety dictated she take.
The gentle tug that reclaimed his drink had little in the way of hostility, as playful as the gaze which wandered up and down her as she stood and moved away, an unashamed look hidden from no one in the room, before he grinned more generally, raising his glass to Eva’s soft words before taking a long gulp. “Sometimes even I don’t believe it, then I get stabbed and bleed a little starlight on the pavement. Try not to get any of that on you.”
“Henry, Nicole, Grace: the Inquisition is going to ruin my timing. I can’t do what I feel like I need to do without them providing at least some kind of assistance, or at the very least non-interference,” she took only the slightest break, her eyes watching Rachel sneak Dre a live phone. Whispers between them, whispers between Dre and the phone as Dre hunched forward and kept his head and voice low. “That means we have to deal with them. If they were stupid and this was easy, cool. It’s not, it turns out. According to Maty…well, Maty.”
Eva sat, and the slender overdressed eternal youth with delicate features and waist length long, impossibly straight, dark hair put his hands on the bar’s inside edge, eyes mostly between Yanci, Grace, and Nicole. “The Inquisition is the governments of men finally leveraging their power in smart, targeted, ways that make our secret lives and positions of power…actually threatened. Their specialty is using signal, digital intelligence. It’s everywhere. It finally gets them intelligence capabilities not too far from the supernatural. This gets them very far in both Camarilla and Sabbat territory in the United States, Canada too. In California, outside of San Francisco, it gets them nowhere. Eva was literally part of the first wave of Europeans to make it here. She stayed and built California’s major hubs with a few other Kindred. As Rachel will tell you, there is nowhere in the state government they can go that they won’t find Eva’s influence. Rachel has ensured that influence remains heavy and fast reacting.”
“It leaves them few options,” Rachel picked it up, her own stoic exterior wearing concern like it simply did not often do. Both tone and the expression of her face; this was dangerous, this was serious, this was very possibly the end. Of them all. “They’re meeting to decide what to do about California. They know about Eva now. They realize what Hollywood is. They think they realize what Eva is, organization and the woman herself. They do not. She wants to walk into this meeting and simply tell them, persuade them. Granted if anyone can…”
“It’s a risk we shouldn’t take, but Eva do like her some grand dramatic gestures.” Dre ignored the look his tone would elicit from Eva, herself, not that a look was likely to move Dre one way or another. “San Diego was taken and its controlled, but the Sabbat War Packs along the border are in a frenzy. We’re not trying to hold the southern half of San Diego. It’s a no man’s land, at the moment. San Francisco teams report something very bad happened, probably Lubbock, we haven’t found the Prince. We don’t know where he is. Not sure about the Chantry there, Maty hasn’t heard anything definitive and our rovers report the same. Nothing along state borders. For now.” He shrugged, it was the best that could be asked for, all things considered, he thought.
“I can put in a word, considering who I am, and you might find the Inquisition oddly willing to listen to Henry Locke, as there are some old circles I can still move in.” Henry offered from his seat, his feet resting up for the moment on the back of another chair. “Just maybe don’t mention the full name, they might not be burning as many people at the stake as they used to, but this is still God-fearing America.”
“The fires are still being fought. We’ll be spared critical damage. Lot of our money ‘bout to go into relief and rebuilding. The wolves are still out there. We THOUGHT maybe the Inquisition had gotten a hold of a Sabbat Cardinal, but our people are saying he’s in Los Angeles on his own.”
Yanci blinked. “Alone? Like…no one else with him at all?”
“Alone.” Dre finished the word, Yanci and Eva were already staring at each other from across the crowded space. “Cicatriz the dude’s name. Any y’all fancy a fucking chat with the dude? Our people say he keeps requesting Eva, only Eva, and because Gehenna.”
Eva sat down next to Henry just in time to take a long drink of her very own drink, instead of the ones she kept stealing from Henry’s glass. It was good timing, as ass hit cushion about the time Dre said the word Gehenna. “Alright. As far as I know the world is about to suck. The Third Generation rises, and everyone will lose their minds. I can help Kindred, I can try to help everyone else. I don’t know. Helena has told me I have to find Lubbock, or he’ll find me, and…that will work itself out, she says. Either I die, or he dies. There is no other outcome. She doesn’t seem to have a preferred outcome.”
“How?” Was the only time, throughout the entire gathering, Rachel’s temper snapped. A quick whip sharp demand of how Helena could have such a stance, all things considered. Yanci seemed less angered, more apathetic. More expecting about as much from the Toreador Antediluvian.
Dre was less shy. “That kinda fucking sucks, Eva. You telling me this woman can pick between you, or Lubbock, and she gonna say…fuck it I’m okay with either option?”
“Yeah.” Eva’s tone was flat, void. Those who knew her would hear the sharpness just off camera. “Yeah, Dre, that’s what I’m telling you. The woman can blood control us like we’re toys, and this is what I’m dealing with right now. If it helps I THINK she’s secretly rooting for us. Does that help, Dre? Does that make you feel better?”
“If I could land a hit, I’d fucking…smack you, bitch.”
Eva drank through the very serious threat, and found her eyes on Grace. “You need to be with me when I walk into the Inquisition council meeting at the LA Federal Building. Anyone else want to go?”
“That meeting doesn’t even happen until a few hours. The entry has been taken care of. You’ll just walk in, the rest is up to you. No more than three people with you. Two, outside of Grace. Oh, don’t look at me. No way I’m walking into that room with those people.” Rachel was having none of that look from Eva.
Dre was leaned forward, eyes locked on Locke’s, shaved bald black head nodding upward, “What up, Henry? What’s the plan for these wolves?”
“Should we worry about Lubbock?” Yanci asked it, but Eva just shrugged at it.
“Helena said he’d find me.”
Yanci didn’t seem satisfied, but what part of any of this had satisfied Yanci? All she wanted was to go back to life for the coterie like it had been in the 80s or 70s. Now she’d have to concern herself with running San Diego. “Nicole, where are you going? Wolves?”
“Of course she’s going after wolves,” Dre chuckled, as if it were elementary. “Rachel where yo sexy ass going girl?”
“Someone will have to meet Cicatriz.”
“Eva has to do that,” Dre’s words didn’t leave much room for disagreement.
“Oh, then…uh.”
“Take her, Henry. Show this girl the way, Devil. Ooo SATAN, I CALL UPON THEE, SHOW THIS STUCK UP WHITE BITCH HOW TO GUT A WEREWOLF.”
Dre’s exaggerated and acted out call to Lucifer, tongue in cheek as was, hinted deeper at the coterie drama behind the scenes. Eva didn’t say anything, Yanci didn’t even look. Rachel was a big girl, she and Dre had been awfully close lately, despite opposing personalities. That Dre put a spotlight on her…at least, Eva found herself thinking, it was done with Henry. Henry was already part of their coterie, whether he liked it or not. And judging from below decks, he loved it.
Doing it in front of Nicole? Or Grace? It wasn’t insignificant, though it was unlikely Grace and Nicole would make nearly enough of it. Not that Eva wouldn’t explain it to Nicole later. Naturally. The only thing Eva did say to Dre as she passed by him to get next to Nicole? “Don’t scare the hew-mans, please, Andre. I don’t want to hire more yacht staff.”
To that…Dre shrugged. “Fair nuff.”
The interactions between the coterie mates made Grace think about what it must be like to have an actual social life. She had one once, but that was before she learned just how many threats lurked in the shadows. From then on, it was a simple expected value calculation; the hours it took just weren’t worth it in her present situation. That was what the psych eval people told her, anyway. Just a standard piece of advice they gave, like tell her not to dwell on the past.
Whatever Henry was, it was cause for concern, but firmly in the department of the Void Engineers. Grace was thankful that for once it was not hers to worry about. All she had to do was give him a wide berth, unclassifiable entities like that made her feel like an insect staring down a main battle tank. The Inquisition meeting was easier to process. She knew that building well, one of her cover identities had an office there, and the unlisted sub-basements came in handy for many operations. Trust was a difficult thing for Grace, almost none of the information was possible to verify independently. When she doubted she heard the voice of Claude, her avatar. He said a familiar quote:
“"Information is the resolution of uncertainty."
Asking and acting was one way to do that.
She said
“Given the circumstances, I am willing to assist your plan. I have two requests at present.”
“Tell me what you need arranged walking into that inquisition meeting. Personnel, equipment, intel; a few hours is limited but enough to make a plan.”
“Tell me who Lubbock is. “
“I think Grace means: what is a Lubbock?” Rachel was already back on her smartphone, her fingers a blur of texts and screen taps and selections, even as she took in, processed what was going on in the bar and decided to make the one comment about Lubbock. But Grace hadn’t asked Rachel.
As for Eva, there was no mystery to be had here. As unnatural as it was for Eva, she would have to just tell it. Maybe Grace would see that hesitation, that half a heartbeat’s pause in the Kindred leader that highlighted her own anxieties. “Sir Matthew Lubbock. We actually don’t know much about him. British, awakened from torpor in the 17th century. Probably more Roman than British but became the Toreador face of British Colonialism and the cruelty therein once he awoke from torpor. If you’re a Toreador you generally fall into two groups: posers, or artists. Lubbock is decidedly a poser and he’s always been grumpy about it. He became obsessed with, and sired, a young boy who seemed to have artistic potential for days. That young boy became my sire, and my partner as we created Los Angeles together, and later Hollywood. The boy had the potential Lubbock thought. Lubbock wasn’t patient enough or gifted enough to unlock it.”
Eva paused after that, a pause that grew long enough to be awkward. To hint at hidden depths to the story, or fresh wounds...or both. In the end it wasn’t Eva who finished it, but Rachel who stepped in again. “Then the boy grew mad, and had to be put down. It led to a Los Angeles battle royale, which led to Eva going public to the Kindred of the Free State, which led to us joining forces with Henry. That’s about the time you met us.”
Finally Eva recovered her voice. “Now Lubbock wants revenge on me for what had to be done to a childe he had long ago discarded and gave up on. He wants a confrontation with me, he wants it to be personal and violent. And after he just lit my city on fire tonight...can’t wait for him to find me. He may even find me at the Federal building, Grace, so if you see a 4th Generation, a Kindred godling, appear on the get your ass out of there as fast and as safely as you can and call Dre. You’d need an orbital solar cannon to put him down, and very soon your organization will be busy using the ones they have elsewhere in the world.”
Eva felt the Ravnos Antediluvian. She knew what was already happening in India. She could hear it, deep in the back of her mind where it crashed against her subconscious like waves against an ancient breakwater. Blood. Feed. Hunger.
“As far as the actual building and meeting, I can get in that room on my own. My discipline of Presence alone would let me walk in while everyone in the building just ignored me. It will help me appeal to your boss if you’re there with me, hopefully he will assume you wouldn’t be standing there without good reason. I fear the mages more than the Inquisition, truth be told, and you aren’t a vampire. If the others in the room want to ask a question, they’d like to ask you more than they’d want to ask me, odd as humans are. My plan is to allow them similar visions I showed you, along with events unfolding in India right this very moment they can get field reports from their own people…”
“India? Now?” Dre stopped his conversation with Henry and stared. His face said it best: fuck, even if Dre simply shook his head softly and returned his attention to Henry.
Eva eyed Dre, then returned her attention to Grace, never actually stopping just pausing long enough for Dre to react to bad news. “...they’ll know I’m not full of shit. But when they wake up, Grace, I have no idea what to expect and I don’t want to influence them more than I already do just by being in the room. Bring anything you’ll need to ensure your safety and your escape. I don’t see myself leaving the building when you do. If anything, I see them trying to detain me. That’s fine. That puts me in deep isolation when Lubbock comes for me, which would actually mean less collateral damage...and Lubbock’s dumb ass loves collateral damage. See: The East India Trading Company for reference. I’m not wild about the government getting a first row view of a fight between two Kindred of Lubbock and I’s status...but it can’t be avoided, and they’ll be seeing a lot more very soon. Expect the Masquerade to come crashing down within...what do you think, Rachel?”
The brunette briefly brought down her smartphone, considered the question with a hard gaze into the air in front of her for a few seconds, before some small nodding, “About 48 hours, yeah, if the founder of the Ravnos line is awakened and active.”
Eva nodded along with Rachel towards Grace, “So yeah, a few days before society starts doing weird shit.”
“When do we see the first humans publicly worshipping an ancient Kindred? Kindred Governor of a US State in a day?” Yanci had to ask, as casually as she was inquiring about a prop bet.
“End of the first day, no later, right?”
Rachel looked to Eva, who shrugged, “Probably. As soon as they figure out local governments and law enforcements can do very little to nothing to help them, not that most ancient Kindred won’t be victims of the Beckoning by them, but a fair amount have contingency plans to stay put and hold out as long as they can. So I’m told.” Another shrug. What happened, at that point, was secondary for Eva. Primary? Find a way to stop it.
Just when things couldn’t get any stranger, the conversations took off at lightning speed, and Nicole felt as though she was learning how to do life all over again from a group of immortals and otherwise. Her mind was spinning. Information overload? The potency of the drink she nursed in her hands? Perhaps both, but one thing was for sure, she was way in over her head. Already too deep to crawl out of the hole she landed in. And yet, what good would running away do in these end times? The law enforcement officer in her wanted to fight to the bloody end, but the fragile, insignificant mortal side pulled as well, wanting to simply disappear from it all.
The “wolf” comments unhinged the girl even further.
Nicole didn’t like Andre. His expression. His attitude. The crass comments without any thought. But her own opinions about any of the coterie members were inconsequential because she knew who they were down to the core. Perhaps not so much their exploits over the many years of their individual existence, but their character. Who they were now mattered more than who they were before. The connection between her and Eva offered a lot, so much so even, that the Gangrel’s mind couldn’t possibly wrap itself around every wisp of thought or flash of memory that hammered through her psyche like a freight train at times. But, those few remnants she held onto long enough gave ample insight about Eva’s band of misfits, to at least safely assume they could all be trusted without question.

The woman finished her drink and placed the glass down on the bar top. “Wolves?” She cocked her head at the comments as though confused, knowing what they meant, but moreso why they would even suggest it. “I-uh, I don’t know.” Her shoulders shrugged. Nicole didn’t know. Only hearing the stories of the Lupines from Eva, Henry and the coterie, but nothing beyond that other than they were a force not to be fucked with.

“I wish the Gangrel could get their shit together enough to join the fight, but even that I’m not sure of honestly.” She looked away from the others, almost ashamed of the clan she had been forced into. She so desperately wanted to feel the surge of power from the Beast within, enough so to blot out the fear that encompassed her better judgement currently. But, like her clan, even the Beast seemed to be in hiding.

The later remarks about Henry had her curious though, but none of it made much sense. Even the bursts of visions and whispers that were not even her own, but from Eva’s psyche, were a puzzle whose pieces had been scattered to the winds. She only hoped that Henry Locke was on their side to the bitter end.

“Lubbock”, however. That was a name she had heard thrown around quite often since her time with the coterie, but as Grace asked the question that had been on the Gangrel’s mind as well, the drawn-out answers didn’t help to ease her already weary mind. Eva and Rachel went into details about the “madman” himself, and while Nicole’s own fears began to rise, she barely noticed a hint of anxiety from the mortal woman. There was certainly something different about her, something that steeled her nerves to a supernatural point. Had it been her association with magic that shielded her aura, making Grace seem more at ease than she really was?

Nicole sighed. For the first time in a long while, her hands trembled, and she placed the glass down with a thud atop the bar. Thankfully she didn’t have to go far to sit, as she slid onto the nearby stool; her legs almost feeling like jello at that point.

“Forty-eight hours?” She whispered to herself, although the concern and obvious anxiety within her tone no doubt heard by the other supernaturals in the room. “The fuck…”

Everything she had heard, and the thoughts and voices racing through her head -courtesy of the blood bond with the Elder Toreador- weighed heaviest in that moment. Time appeared to stand still, and while her eyes surveyed around the room at the others during the back and forth conversations, they inevitably landed on the dark-haired beauty standing next to her.

Nicole’s trembling hand slid across the smooth glass-like surface of the counter reaching for the other’s arm as her pale fingers curled around tightly. A single thought rose to the surface of her mind:

I don’t want to die.

"Greek." Henry sipped his drink as he spoke, the lingering scent and taste of Eva upon the glass mixing with the liquor to his heightened senses. For a dead thing, she tasted intoxicatingly alive. "Lubbock was Greek, we've met, in prior lives. You're not the first descendent of his I've worked alongside." While his words were spoken generally, the clarification was obviously meant for Eva. "They really didn't exaggerate anything about Helen of Sparta." He mused as if it was meaningless gossip, his eyes settling on the glass before back to Andre.

"Easy there lad, that's a name few get away with calling me." Henry stone faced, although the glint in his eye suggested the hidden mischief, before his concentration settled on the woman drawn into her smartphone. "Take me home, country roads. Not sure what the phone signal will be out in wolf country." He was momentarily serious as he spoke next, "The Garou underestimated me before, if they know we're coming it might not be so easy." The fact he appeared but a few hours ago seemingly on the brink of death didn't seem to phase the man much, even as he drank another heavy gulp. "But I'll take them over having to deal with the Inquisition, never did much like them since Vienna."

“What’s up with her?”

Eva shrugged at Andre’s direct question. “She’s scared, what do you think?”

Rachel tried to hide her smile, Yanci looked bored, and Maty traced the edge of his glass idly, his mind elsewhere while the coterie chattered. Andre smiled, and leaned his large full figure back into the chair. “We all scared. We got literal Lucifer, literal end of the world shit. I’m a god damned slave turned soldier. The fuck can I do about it?”

“Lead one of the larger private security companies in the world,” the tone with which Rachel interjected was, at best, described as indifferent.

“What about you?”

“Me?” The buttoned-up Ventrue blinked. “I’m just trying to spin all the plates. If I stop it’ll all come tumbling down.”

“Also you direct one of the larger money-laundering operations in the world.” This time it was Yanci, not Rachel, with a tone that sounded as bored as she looked.

“We gonna pay off an Antediluvian?” Andre’s tone was serious, gone was the caricature of the loud black man, the thoughtful warrior Brujah having settled into the new change of tone like an old favorite pair of trousers. “What about you, Yanci?”

“Oh, I’ll make a movie about it. No worries.”

As the one who ran Hollywood now, the remark made Andre snicker gently. “Maty?”

“Cheers, mate.” Maty raised his glass in the air, though he never did turn in their direction from behind the bar, leaned into the bar, his upper body supported by elbows. As if he were drinking troubles away. Hiding the dagger sharp smile under perfectly straight and shining black hair that went half down his back. “I’ll, uh...throw some blood magic? No clue, really. I’ll do my part. Whatever that becomes. I’m nothing big or scary.”

“This only ends one way for her,” Henry’s hands were folded before him neatly, his tilted down and off to the side, his eyes staring holes in the table he said it. His words rang with sadness and truth, and a seriousness so somber that it twisted his meaning into a lie that told the truth of the situation.

Eva stared at Nicole. “You’re already dead, love.” A response, an aside, sourced from a place that belonged to just the two of them: the space between their thoughts, interconnected. “So am I,” she said, with a faint smile. It wasn’t the same kind of dead they were headed for, but to Eva, it was best she not think about that too deeply.

Finally it was Andre who finished it, talking now directly to Nicole. “The ancient Kindred who started all this are monsters. Not the kind that go bump in the night, the kind Lovecraft daydreamed about. All I have are the people in this room, and the warriors I put on those streets. None of us want Final Death. None of us want the world to end. I don’t want to trade Eva for a new world, either. I’ll do what I can, you do what you can. We’ll see what happens.” In a supernatural style of ease the large black skinned Kindred was up and out of his seat, moving for the exit. “I’m going after wolves. Rachel, Henry, see you at the boat. Yanci, Maty, stay in touch. Eva...sorry, girl.”

That Eva frowned, even for a beat of Grace’s heart, turned the night darker. “Where are you two headed?”

“We’ll see the fires stay out,” Yanci answered, and Maty chuckled, as if it were an inside joke. It was, Nicole would hear it: Both the literal and the figurative.

“So, “Eva started to say to Nicole, “..wanna meet a Sabbat Cardinal?”
After business was concluded, Grace walked up next to an open window and ran a quick calculation to confirm the trajectory posed no additional risks. She said
“I will meet you in person before the meeting at the FBI building. During this meeting I’ve been connected over an astral link to a shell body, my actual body is elsewhere. It’s safer this way and saves what little time we have. Do not be alarmed by what I’m about to do, it is a rapid but officially approved way of terminating the connection.”

She reached into her pocket and retrieved a pistol, moving it slowly and pointing it at no one except herself. Eva, Andre, one of the others could disarm her with incredible speed if they thought she was a threat, so it was important not to alarm anyone. When it was directly against her temple and her finger was on the trigger, she said
“The body will decay into a puddle of hydrogel shortly after I initiate the disconnect procedure. It can be removed from the floor with any standard household cleaner. Pine Sol is my preferred choice. I apologize about the abrupt nature of my departure.”

She pulled the trigger and her body lurched forward as the shot echoed through the cabin. Miles away, Grace felt her connection go dark, grateful that the protocol spared her the full pain of getting shot in the head. Her hand, her legs, every part of her body was shaking as her quivering recovered from the interference and the paradox effect after the session. It was only after they stopped that she realized she was drenched in sweat, nothing about the meeting had made her feel better about the situation. She brushed a matted mass of hair out her face and got up, knowing the long night had only just begun.

@Ruby Hey Ruby. this is one of those bucket list RP ideas I've been sitting on for more than a decade. I love the Klingons because they are constantly at war. If they aren't fighting the Federation, Romulans or the Dominion, they are fighting amongst themselves. A crewman can fight the Captain in order to take over the ship and the rest of the crew will recognize his leadership.

Oh, yes, I know. I'm a giant Trekkie with a sizeable collection of old LUG Star Trek sourcebooks still in bookshelves around my house. lol
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