The mortal crew have a few days to get their lives in order before discussing their contract with the Accords. But once that is done, they investigate a serial killer.
A Deal with Devils
After an eventful week of downtime, the crew regroups for a Friday night set on Nov. 5, 2021. First, they enjoy a quick bite at Kimber's favorite dive for arepas. Much food was had while discussing the contract. The terms were excellent, but they each felt the funds could be higher. Their mortal lives and souls were on the line, security questionable, perhaps even their sanity.
Arriving at the All Black, they ordered drinks and followed the leadership for a deep discussion. The final amount was reached of $35k in off-shore accounts, or small old bills in a bag for Eden, and the other options for expenses and room at the Bellagio. They further promised to keep homes off the books, security options available as needed, and opportunities for future changes.
Despite only having this gamble running for a week, Schlomo already reaped the benefits. Supernaturals circled the chosen mortals, other courts and groups watched their dealings closely, and the gifted that refused to come to the table made moves to approach. Invitations arrived from LA for a meeting, a potential werewolf was in the wilds according to Daniel, and this group sought their first project.
This project would bring them into direct danger: seeking a serial killer dumping bodies at the local paintball ranch. Schlomo and the Baroness directed the group to speak with Preston Locke of the fae court. As a District Attorney, he had connections and information to aid in their search. Quietly Monstrose informed the table, but not the mortals, of his shadowing. He would track, document their progress, and step in only if absolutely required.
As the group sought out Mr. Locke, Eden started creeping about the halls trying to find an office. Behind a pressure-sensitive door, she found a small office of wine crates, desk, some paperwork, and a laptop. Getting online, she found only one particular application to try: ShrekDB. The moment it opened, the camera feed started recording. She looked up information on Shane Dorn, getting a couple blog posts, then logged out. No sooner had she stepped out that Montrose forced her back into a room for a chat.
In the main room, the crew spoke with Mr. Locke with plans to meet the next day. The night ended with Emily spending time with a dangerous sluagh called Lord Drewberry. In a booth, she lounged with the man, sipping awakened elderberry wine, discussing dreams. It took time to loosen her from the moorings of the banal world, but when he left her to sleep, she walked the meadows and cabin of old dreams. Hints of her true past and glimmering future visited the girl. Life would take such a different turn if she just...grasped it. Her chrysalis would come.
As true night fell, many fell to their rest, except two..that partied the night away. Kimber and Eden went to a rave. Not only did they get lucky and have a blast, but Eden found two vampires offering blood laced cocaine.
The following day (Nov 6), they met with Preston at a Starbucks, then following him to the Summerlin Library. Digging through files, he reviewed the specifics pulled together by Detective Gracie Jimenez and the DA. They detailed years of attacks all starting in 2015 in messy to refined ritual actions.
- 2021 - 3 couples with 1 left to die, no obvious marks of killing until undressed to find numerous stab wounds, curled up in a pose of spooning in the paintball ranch battlezone with zombie masks over their heads, they all visited a romantic coffee shop then died within an hour of eating their
- 2019 - couples fighting, in a breakup, carved out hearts, buried the bodies and left the hearts in their mouths, facing each other, near Las Vegas Food Processing Plant, connection there was Motel 6 Motor Speedway
- 2018 - 3 couples, elderly, all sick and visiting Vegas as their final destination before they died, retirement, each couple had dinner at Rudy's Steakhouse, found dead in porch swings, died by injections, left in a happy end together
- 2015 - 2 couples - rest stop on the way into vegas coming from Arizona, messy killing, left on the road bound up, signs of struggle
They studied every file, reviewed video footage, and found a potential killer. Digital video feeds showed a glitch at the eyes of a delivery man bringing fresh milk and food goods to the shop. Something of the effect reminded them of ghost footage, and they sought out a contact Bugsy offered: Elise Rainier.
Elise is a recent retiree enjoying life in Vegas. She has some ability with ghosts, and may provide insights. Seeking her home, sitting to chat, she soon brings them to sit and wander to find this person. In the darkness of the room, Eden has a strange experience...
She reaches to the dark, and it reaches back. Numerous voices whisper in this deep night, demanding to know why she woke them, what she seeks and needs, as she reaches harder with the shadow magic gained through ghouling. Something reached with a terrifying touch, causing her eyes to fill with darkness to those at the table. Elise ended the connection quickly as possible, directing them into viewing the spirit causing so much trouble.
Murphy Winthrope was a field hand at the chicken ranch of Floresville, Texas. He worked hard, had a lovely wife Elizabeth, and lost her to a scoundrel named Jack Parsons. Enraged, he killed them both then himself, the remaining hatred searing into an old coin. Over the years this coin has traveled the world, soaked in much blood, and now held another soul. Many fell to the power of the vengeful ghost, killing many Elizabeths and Parsons. They needed to claim this coin worn as a bracelet.
Tracking down the delivery man, they found him in a run-down apartment. He mistook Emily for his long lost love, reaching out to her. The others circled with hulahoops filled with rock salt, armed and ready to take control. A fight broke out with some coming through a window, others coming through the front door. Eventually the bracelet was tossed in a pot of lead, sealed, and taken away from the apartment.
Monstrose appeared, taking notes, cleaning up the scene. The killings were solved. No one was hurt. Just Preston puking in a corner. Ghosts...were scary.
A Prayer for the Fallen
"O Christ our God, in all times and every hour You are worshipped and glorified both in heaven and on earth. You are long-suffering and generous in your mercy and compassion. You love the just and show mercy to the sinner, calling all people to salvation through the promise of blessings to come."
Hands in sharp panes of marble and basalt poured water over each hand, over each foot, drying them with white cotton fabric embroidered with fine stitching of ancient symbols, koulduic and Christian, of Michael and Malachite.
"Deem, O Lord, at this very hour, to receive our supplications and to direct our lives in the path of your commandments. Sanctify our souls; purify our bodies; set aright our minds; cleanse our thoughts; deliver us from all affliction, trouble and distress; surround us with Your holy angels so that, guided and guarded in their camp, we may attain oneness of faith and the knowledge of Your unspeakable glory. For You are blessed for ever and ever. Amen."
Zelios opened wide his palms, holding them turned up to the dark skies above. Tiny stars glittered, one among them hard to see yet felt of the sanguine star. How many nights had he prayed since awakening, since his first painful twist of flesh to stone, of falling into deathless sleep again and again. It had not felt so heavy as it did now. Harrowing and close, the end drew nigh, but what would cease and what would begin?
"Ach, my thoughts are too heavy this night." The distance rose and fell in mesas, stones, the chill of a desert that starkly reminded him of Egypt and Tabernas in Spain. He set stones as he spoke, all from the local area, with a few from his travels pulled from luggage. For what else would a mason carry in his bags? A stone from Tihuta Pass, a cobble from Constantinople, a bit of bedrock from New York, a fragment from Zhangjiajie, a riverstone from Finstertal, a sliver from Ogham, bits and pieces from a lifetime of journeys. They set into a labyrinth started by others, missing certain key pieces that he completed.
He then closed his eyes, allowed the world to lead his steps, traversing the paths through the labyrinth without sight. Leylines seethed with power and anger here, something deep in the earth straining to be forgotten, not freed. Many...somethings...but nothing hid from the Mason. A hand of the loom, weaver of fate, keeper of Gaia's secrets, student of Michaelangelo, lover of Frank Gehry, Zelios existed as the foundation of history past and future.
Mason, how goes your journey?
"Ah hello, so good. Sorry I was unable to speak earlier. I desperately needed rest. I awoke in Los Angeles, left my labyrinth, and watched waves glitter under the moon upon the shore. I collected sand, so beautiful." Many voices whispered to his thoughts, of which he never questioned who they were, where they spoke from, or what language they chose. He simply understood and accepted. Since birth, Zelios lived as a servant, never the master.
We are sure you have. And if any deserved such rest it is you.
What next for the Mason?
His steps turned and moved forward in the paths. "Oh not quite sure yet. There is a mystery here. The formations I set before rest did not heal the old wound. There is something...deep...deeper than the old legends Rustovitch spoke of. A demon of the New World, yes, I feel that. But something...that stirred that demon lies further. But I cannot set stones here in America as I could in Romania or India--"
As words left his lips, disjointed memories flooded his mind. Zelios whimpered from the clash and a flicker of something, recent, terrible, slithering in the dark, festering in the earth, lossing his hold as quickly as he built a prison. Did he succeed or fail?!
With a jolt, he fell out of the path, voices ending, as his stony feet touched sandy ground. Blood tears streamed down his cheeks, but what memories stalked as hungry wolves faded as fog before the dawn. "What...what happened...in New York? I know it was there...but I cannot hear him anymore."
He folded to his knees, and prayed for Tzimisce before the brightening skies would force him to sleep.
Friends and Fiends
Butch and Kirvan returned to the Bellagio sharing a joke, gymbags of weapons over shoulders, stories on their lips. Packmates to the end, they had a bond beyond the shared cup of their blood.
"So eldering gentleman, I must thank you for presiding over the safety of Rosalind." Kirvan spoke in dry clipped phrases, exacting tone, with warm eyes if not warmed emotion.
Butch understood his friend, learned to see through the madness of his line to the humble humor and sincerity. "Hey, we're wingmen. She's a great lady and makes you happy. You'd do the same for me."
"This is a correct assertion. Has she mentioned what keeps her so bound to Vegas? How much longer you are both needed here? Her uncle said it was up to her, which is a cryptic response to a simple request." Despite such a flat voice, Kirvan burned with curiosity.
"We had a job, got that done. But we did...too good a job. I found her, Kirvan. Anthony's kid." Butch led them through the casino, to the elevators, and up to their suite as they chatted.
Kirvan felt the conflict in his friend, gripping Butch's shoulder with what strength he had. "So one of his line lives. You detailed his life and the loss of his entire family. How could he...oh." The packmates nodded as their eyes met. "Interference. You mentioned on the phone that my lady has ghouled the girl?"
"Yep, I've been keeping an eye on her. But I fucked up, she found me out, and well...been getting to know her. Eden's a good kid, girl, woman or something. I suck at this. I'm not a family man."
"Did you ever want to be?" Butch nodded to his friend. "Then perhaps adopting the young woman fulfills the whole in your heart. I may speak with Rosalind on this situation."
They reached the suite. "Hey do what ya want, but I'm not fucking up date night. Just be careful with that chip when you leave. It's important."
"You are...the man." They fist-bumped, Butch causing Kirvan to shake and rub his hand from the popping of every knuckle from the force. "You are a humorous fiend."
"HA! Have fun you two." Butch left to his adjoined room as Kirvan turned to find a vision in leather and lace waiting for him draped across a chaise lounge. With a forced happy sigh, the Malkavian lifted Rosalind from the velvet, twirling about to her room.
"About time..." she purred in his ear. It was quite a long while before they simply spoke again, curled up in the glow of lamps, windows shuttered from the coming dawn.
"Tell me of this new retainer. The situation is not dire or a danger? She is an unknown to her family, to Dorn, to all but you and Butch in Austin. Why stay?" He stared into the liquid darkness of Rosalind's eyes, watching the thoughts that swirled in them. He spied and treasured that mind, the machinations, the capable politcal philosopher she could be. A simple retainer would not keep her in Vegas...it had to be something else.
Rosalind twirled dark nails over his skin, around his shoulder, deep in thought. She warred with telling him outright what she only had hints of. The allure was the chase, the man trailing after her thoughts, seeking the answers, falling into her webs as so many others had. Yet he marveled at it, without attempting to kill her. "There is something different about Eden. I sensed it the moment she tasted my blood. She responded like so many, but...the consuming hunger twisted in her body in a way I have not seen before. So I...fed her more than I should in the second night and performed a ritual of darkest night. She responded, clove to it, and heard the whispers. She still does, and carries not just the power of Obtenebration in her breast." Rosalind leaned up, capturing Kirvan's chin, keeping his eyes on hers.
"It empowers her without burning the vitae in her veins."
One brow rose, eyes slitting, slight reactions but quite severe for Kirvan. "How is that possible?"
"It shouldn't be. At all. Except for one kind of retainer. One kind of vampire. And that is why I stay. How much do you know of Tzimisce families?"
"Sometimes, you have to roll the hard six." Schlomo grinned across the poker table, eyes holding the last high roller willing to stake chips and cards against the immortal gangster. They had played every night for a week, winning and losing in a constant battle until one of them would win the war. But he knew who that would be...the house always won in the end.
The private game errupted in sighs and curses as the eldering mortal hiding behind sunglasses and diamond studded rings lost the hand. Schlomo raised a finger, signaling Jane to siphon blood from the old man's IV directly into a tumbler. Sliding it across, the Giovanni raised the glass and drank.
"I'm afraid that was our last hand."
"Nah, come on Rothstein. One more hand, double or nothing."
Schlomo tapped the contract next to him. "We're beyond such deals. And the house demands its due." His lips parted, long fangs flashing, as young vampires fell upon the old man, consuming his last moments of life as he endured the Kiss. "The house always wins."
Reaching out, he took a lit cigarette from Jane, and the pair left to an office lined with monitors across multiple casinos, streets, restaurants, and locations. Ghosts flickered in some feeds, symbols burning around the monitors. Crime conducted as a fine business among the living and dead, superaturals and mortals. All of it balanced by this emperor of coin and credit.
Pulling on the black wrapped cigarette, he forced the smoke to wind through shriveled lungs. An old habit he enjoyed, a reminder. Jane stepped closer, fingers twisting in quick motions, succession of letters and symbols. He replied in a similar manner. She could never speak again, throat carved up by Benedic, life saved by the Giovanni.
How's the project? They seem like a lively bunch.
Pretty good, already seeing changes. Wolves are circling. We have to keep a closer watch.
So they picked up the killer for first job? WTF.
Schlomo laughed seeing the incredulous look, the annoyance, the hard breath up causing her longer floppy bangs to toss back. She was jealous and impressed. I dunno Kimber could take your place...
She flicked around an punched Schlomo in the chest, smacking her own chest. BRING IT!
He raised a finger wagging it left to right then motioning the same finger between his lips and raising a brow.
She laughed without sound, grinned, and shrugged. Yeah, she's hot.
He turned to give orders, who to send drinks to, extend credit to, call in a mark, when to take out the trash or welcome it in. Police, mafia, tourists, fairies, vampires, didn't matter. He had control. Even the dead bowed to him, as he turned a bone ring made from his mother's corpse round and round a pinkie.
If this works, Jane, we'll meet with the Japanese and take LA. Let Sasha hold the east. We'll take the west.
She motioned back. Tru dat
Sebastian Cross & Sojourn
Walking in, dropping keys in a dish, kicking off loafers, tossing his tie, Sebastian banished the work week and welcomed the weekend! For all of his adulting years, these moments he reveled like a teen heading out to meet friends for a LAN party!
"FUCK WORK! Hello Friday!" With a quick change of clothes into sweats and a League of Legends t-shirt, Sebastian waited for pizza to arrive as he fell back into a comfy couch. Raising his cane of welded scrap metal, LED lights, tiny harddrives, and code running from embedded chips, he pressed a sensor hidden behind fancy runes to turn on a wall of TVs, power up a few daisy chained gaming consoles, with video feeds from the chantry, Twitter, forums, and some games he left saved.
Soon the Hermetic munched on deep dish pepperoni and pepper pizza, had a beer or four, and installed a copy of Pothead's coop play code into his heavily modded Skyrim. Settling a VR visor over his eyes, etched symbols flickered with motions of his cane curling symbols in the air. The enhanced Kinect likewise caught the motions of cane, patterns overlaying patterns as Forces fueled the machine, Correspondence and Mind bonding his intent to the matching Enochian etchings just enough to make sensations of the VR become his reality. A gateway bore through the Gauntlet as a tunnel between himself, the messy living room around him, and the realm he crafted in his version of Skyrim. Without needing to jettison himself physically, he moved between worlds with enough realism to allow his magic to work.
Virtual Adepts baked his brain still, but this method made him smile. Pajamas replaced with robes and leather armor, living room melting away to a field of flowers and woodland beyond, cane still in hand emanating power, Sebastian the developer became Adeptus Sebastian of the Azure Tower. He met up with others Pothead introduced to him in a local city, sharing drinks, going on an adventure, seeking a library one of the others had found.
As dawn neared outside, Sebastian finally begged off for sleep, unplugging and falling face first into his couch. Although this seemed the most incredible of journeys, one that would continue if he could ever get true rest, it paled in comparison to a photo glimmering with strange power on a monitor in the top right and an email message waiting to be opened next to it.
With a click as using magic might have finally melted his brain, he read through it and serged up to his feet.
Hey Cross, on my way, flight lands Saturday afternoon. Pick me up, ok? ~Sojourn