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Joined: 12 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:06 am Reply with quoteBack to top

March 23rd, 2004

An abandoned industrial park


1:32 AM

Drip. Drip.

"There he is!"

The sound of falling water echoed off of the rusted and spray-painted sheet metal coating the brick walls of the dimly lit warehouse. Several swaying, bare bulbs hung from the high ceiling, leaking fuzzy and flickering cones of orange over the topography of crates and imposing construction machines that filled the long-abandoned building. Multiple concrete supports sprung from the ground in pairs down the center of the building, barebones latter-day Roman architecture. Two men passed between this arch of concrete and old steel that composed the roof and ran through the building's length at a jog, their breath misting before them in the cold as they hustled past the revealing shadows towards the next oasis of orange light, taking refuge away from the darkness. Rain leaked in through holes in the ceiling, and occasionally a flash of lightning would illuminate what windows had not been boarded over, peeking in, the shattered glass forming jagged maws and worn holes in the roof that give clear view of a cloudy sky. And the resulting clap of thunder briefly hid the sound of gunfire.

"Did we get him?" "Do you see a corpse, fuckwit?"

The breath misted before the two men as they lowered their shotguns, adrenaline pumping through their veins along with traces of damned blood. Two crates lay shattered under the force of impact of the shotgun slugs, but splintered wood was all that they saw. The shadows behind the broken boxes danced as the lights swayed, the wind briefly picking up and rattling what panes were left in the windows of the warehouse and rising to a howl before dying down. Into this hush, the younger man spoke, slowly, saying each word carefully as if doing so might slow down his rapidly beating heart.

"No, Eddie. I don't see a corpse." "Then he's not /dead/, goddamn it. We're not dealing with a fucking alleycat Lick like the last one we were sent to ash." Lips pressing together, Eddie pressed an elbow against his ribs as he continued to hold the shotgun. Beneath the thick leather vest he wore, a sharp wooden stake rested, and feeling its presence through the heavy clothing reassured him in a way that not even the twelve gauge in his hands could not. His hard eyes were bloodshot, and sweat mixed with water on his brow. "This is the real thing. The guy who takes down this one could get the big reward." Following this revelation, the two of them stood in silence except for the slow shuffling of their feet as they inspected the shadows around them, all to the background of falling rain.

"Eddie, when are the rest of them going to catch up to us?" Pressing his back against one of the concrete pillars, the younger of the two turned his eyes to the shadows of the warehouse, and despite the firearm in his hands, his gaze was that of a hunted animal. "If he's been waiting around here somewhere for his bitches to deal with for five minutes before he spotted us, then the others should have caught up by now. Shouldn't they have? I mean, it's not a very long drive, they should be here.."

Mumbling curses, Eddie fumbled with the walkie talkie strapped to his waist, turning up the volume. After a crackle of static, he spoke into it, "Halfie Four to Halfie Two. Do you copy, Halfie Two?" Drip. Drip. "Halfie Two, say something!" His voice bounced off the walls and the exclaimation was punctuated by another clap of thunder. And then nothing, before a static ensued, and something that might have been a soft coughing, growing louder over the course of a few seconds. Then a man's voice, subdued but hard, crackled over the radio waves. "Your friends and I have been having a nice conversation. I'm sorry I've been such a poor host, I'll be with the two of you shortly."

The resulting splash seemed much louder to the ears of the two Ghouls than it truly was as Eddie's fingers lost their hold of the walkie talkie and it was swallowed by a puddle of water over the background rhythm of falling rain droplets. The lights hummed faintly, growing brighter for just a few moments, and casting the entire warehouse into something approximating daylight. "Eddie, look!" The younger Ghoul's hand was outstretched, finger pointed like a bloodhound's nose, shotgun forgotten about for that brief moment as his eyes fixed on the thing he was hunting, something who was only alive because it possessed a piece of Death itself.

At the far end of the warehouse stood a man, next to the open entryway for vehicles. He was a cleanly cut man, with his hair in a short auburn ponytail behind him, and a long black coat reaching to his knees. This man raised up a hand to wave cheerfully to the two. Long years of experience had taught Eddie how to augment his senses, and his heightened eyesight noted a grin on the auburn haired man's face. "..why is that asshole smiling?" Eddie gritted, before spotting the position of his other hand: on the light switch. His eyes went wide, and he had just enough time to reach for his flashlight before every light in the warehouse snapped off, leaving only the oppressively close darkness.


March 1st, 2004

A large beachside penthouse


11:29 PM

Everything had gone to Hell since the Baja Incident. The Sabbat had landed in Baja California and decided to work their way up, and their first need was weapons. The Sabbat never paid for their weapons, however, they simply took them from those who did.

James had always been a good businessman. Honor among thieves and all that aside, if your clients have smooth dealings with you, they'll continue to want to have good deals with you, and what's more, recommend you to more customers. In a business where you can't advertise in the local newspaper, word of mouth really is money.

Most would expect criminals to do dealings in shady surroundings, a stereotype that Hollywood has done blessedly little to contradict. If more people knew of the penthouses and resorts that James met his clients in, he would have much more competition. Anonymity and a misguided public image suited him just fine, although it made PR a bitch at times. The men he worked with were all veterans in the business, however, and today's experience was no different, at least in decor.

The huge, bullet proof glass window that made up the western wall of the lounge provided a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean, and the massive stretch of lawn and winding road that lead up the hill to the mansion. The moon hung partially concealed by a bank of clouds, its partially lidded eye gazing in through the window with its silvery light, and it reflected off the casings of the line of bullets set up on the conference table.

Across the table from James sat a Hispanic man, clean-shaven and hard-eyed. Those hard eyes were fixed upon the automatic weapon in James' hands. "5.56 milimeter, complete with an internal scope built into the design. The bullpup configuration on the Steyer AUG makes this an incredibly versatile firearm, and I'm sure it's much better than the SMGs your boys are toting around now. As an added bonus," James' hands deftly set the gun upon the table and reach into the weapon case at his side, pulling out several parts and then seeming to methodically rebuild the weapon, "it can be remade into a submachine gun or even a light machine gun, with appropriate configuration." The weapon is once again disassembled, and James talks as he reconstructs it, "With this, you'll have an advantage over the revolver-toting thugs that seem to be migrating over here. I saw the news on the television this evening, terrible business." The Hispanic man doesn't speak, clients rarely do. Instead he simply nods slightly, and takes hold of the suitcase at his side of the desk and pops it open, pushing it across. "As we agreed, then," James nods, taking stock of the wads of hundred dollar bills, fifteen thousand in total.

Every deal has a catch. The catch to this deal was having four carloads of howling Sabbat and their ghoul bitches ram down the front gate and drive in just as you make the selling pitch. However, the only bright side to being a smuggler of weapons and other illegal goods was that you were never without bullets. James pushed the weapon across to his client, along with two loaded clips, before gesturing to the two guards standing at the door as he ripped open one of the crate tops at his side with his bare hands, revealing a dozen automatic rifle cases. "It looks like you'll have a chance to put your weapons to use early." Simple math showed that one Brujah was no match for that many Sabbat, and they would punch through the crime boss's personal guard like a 9mm through butter. He had intel that Sabbat had made it to the city, but he had hoped that arming one of the foremost gangs in the city would head them off. It only played right into their hands.

And just like that, the men rushed out the door to throw their lives away. Under the cover of a rain of bullet casings, James calmly collected his briefcase of money as agreed upon, and grabbed one of the Steyer AUG's that he had just sold. There wouldn't be enough men to use them anyway, shortly enough. Loading a full magazine into the weapon, the Brujah stepped across the room to one of the far windows overlooking the backyard and pool two stories below. His blood's pulsing rang in his forehead and his body became light, not with adrenaline but with power. His fingers fumbled a bit with the lock, slightly uneasy from the heady rush, and then the window was open, and he simply fell into the cold night air.

That height would turn the legs of a mere man into gristle, but James' body was much tougher than the ground it crashed against thanks to the reinforcement his blood offered, and he straightened up with only sore legs, set the case of money down and dusted himself off before picking the suitcase back up. It was a short walk to his private boat in the cove behind the house, and then he would be long gone. He watched the smoke curl from the burning remnants of the house as his boat headed back towards the smuggler's ship who he had acquired the guns from. He excelled as a middle man, setting up deals between clients who wouldn't otherwise find each other on the market and taking a cut of the profit. But sometimes in business, you just had to take the loss of a customer.


March 7th, 2004

2: 43 AM

A cramped boardroom

Somewhere In California

"The Sabbat have continued their rampage through Southern California for several days now," the Archon explained to the half-dozen assembled Camarilla. They sat in a small and cramped boardroom on top of a five story office building. Comfort had been sacrificed for security, but it provided enough for the power point presentation that was displayed on the far wall. The Archon talked as images, statistics, scans of newspaper reports, and other pictures scrolled behind him. "We've managed to cover it up so far as gang-related incidents, but there's only so long before one of them does something stupid and blows this thing wide open." A brief flicker passed through the overhead projector's display, and then the picture of a hawk-nosed man with a scar running down one cheek and auburn hair in a ponytail appeared on the screen. On the side of his neck, visible from the profile view that the picture was taken from, are the tattooed words 'ACTA NON VERBA'. "This is James Frost, Brujah Ancilla of Los Angeles. He was in Baja when the Sabbat first made landfall, and forwarded us the information. We have reason to suspect the Sabbat have been tracking him through his business associates for several weeks now. He has expressed an interest to me personally in the following." A button is pressed, and a sound file appears on the projector, and begins playing a recorded voice.

"Gentlemen, I regret I cannot be there with you this evening, but I have put together the following plan to deal with the menace of the Black Hand." The projector switches, flickering to an image of a detailed road map of San Francisco. "We have reason to believe that this is the primary Sabbat target for entrenchment, away from Los Angeles." The map zooms into a particular district of the city, settling on what is labelled as 'ABANDONED INDUSTRIAL PARK'. "This area of the city is well known to be a hang out for criminals and low lives, according to my sources. I will be 'setting up' a deal with one of my clients in this area to draw out the Sabbat. Your task," several bright red arrows appear on different parts of the projector, "will be to cover these areas and ensure that when the Sabbat inevitably do arrive, they will recieve a warm welcome. We want to leave at least one alive for questioning. The Archon has ensured me that he is choosing only the best and most competant for this task. I will be honored to work with you, but I must caution you that the Masquerade is on the line should we fail. Do not fail." The clip ends, and the image scrolls to a large line of text, simply bearing the date and words, 'March 23rd, 2004. 1 AM. Happy Hunting.'


March 14th, 2004

7:09 PM

An apartment complex


Eddie Rupert was already having a bad day. It wasn't anything new. It was simply the worst day since yesterday. The past three years had been a string of bad days without fail or falter, and only when the sun was up did he get any respite. So it was with a measure of wistfulness and resignation that he watched the sun set out the apartment balcony window while he smoked a cigarette. Not even the fucking cancer would kill him, it couldn't grow. His body was stopped in time, like a relic. He felt like he belonged in an antique store, even though he'd only been doing this for three years. No antique store would take him, though. His sparse brown hair made a scraggly effort at a full beard, and it had gotten rather long and oily after he stopped caring about hygene. Bloodshot, puke-green eyes stared out at the pollution-driven color display on the horizon, and he waited.

It wasn't long. The howling and thrashing started at 7:10, right on schedule, like it did every day. Soon all those fuckers were howling, and then the screeching metal started blasting through the wall from the stereo they robbed some rich fuck of a few days ago after they broke the last one. He had seen other packs, the ones who were the movers and shakers, who struck the fear of Caine into motherfucking shovelheads, but he got stuck with some insane punks whose power and immortality went right to their heads and their crotches. Just his luck. These were the nobody grunts that got sent into warzones to cause chaos before the real hardasses moved in. And he was going to suffer for it. The fact he was still alive after three years of service testified to how nobody the fucks he had were. But they were all he had. As they crashed through the door into the main room of the apartment, he wished they weren't, though. And things would go according to schedule. He waited for the shout, for the 'Hey fuckwit, get me a beer!' By a beer, they would mean a freshly donated and ice cool drink in a beer bottle. Then from there, they'd have him get in the car (they were too fucked in the head to drive unless they wanted to crash into something) and go by the havens of the other packs, and then they'd all get their ghouls (there were four in total, counting the new kid) and cause some hell, possibly drive all the way to another city, kick the residents out of an apartment there, and do it all over again.

Except this time, something was different. They all went silent. Eddie waited, and waited, then turned around. All five screaming thugs of the pack were gathered in the living room, sat down and shut up on the bloodstained couch where they had tied down the previous occupant and took turns feeding from him just a week earlier. Standing in front of them was a man in a smart, pinstriped suit wearing a black beret, and he appeared to be talking to them, and.. amazingly enough, the monsters in the other room seemed to be listening. Interrupting now would mean death, more than likely, so he waited. Something big was in the works, though. This was going to be a bad day.


March 20th, 2004

9:14 PM

Borders Book Store


The best place to hide is where no one will look for you, and sometimes this is in plain sight. Perhaps it is with a twist of irony that Fate decreed the Archon and his men gather to meet at the Starbucks on the second story of a Borders Book Store to discuss business plans over coffee, for those who could drink it. In front of each of the five other men assembled was a manilla folder, and at the end of the table propped up against the napkin dispenser was a cellphone on speaker. The voice of James Frost crackled over it. "I have been spending my time doing background research on this threat while you have made your travel arrangements. Inside those folders are everything that I have gathered about the Hand presence here in the city, which has been a small amount, but enough to confirm that they are indeed here. All plans are full speed ahead as of this meeting." The near-half dozen didn't look out of place in the slightest, as they had the sense to dress casually, and they were left alone as the speaker phone continued, "The supplies you requested have been forwarded to two seperate P.O. Box addresses as given to me, and should arrive by delivery of your agents without hitch. This is it, gentlemen. It's our blood or theirs. Good luck."

The Archon reached out to take the cellphone back and slip it into his pocket. "There are signs of an impending siege on California. The Anarchs are deeply entrenched, but Hand masquerading as Anarchs have infiltrated several cities according to our reports, and it is only a matter of time before they begin to move in force and take the State in an attempt to flank the Ivory Tower." One manilla folder is opened, and several pieces of paper are withdrawn, showing several blurry images of men in suits. The rest of the photo is entirely clear in each. Nearly a dozen of these are presented, each unique, before another fistful is withdrawn. "These were taken from security cameras at known Hand and Anarch hotspots across the State, over the course of the past two weeks. Whoever it is, they've been busy. I suspect that they've all been given the sign to begin their individual movements once San Francisco has fallen, and from there create an uprising through the Anarchs to destroy the Tower, at which point the Hand rolls in and claims everything for itself. We're not going to be able to find out anything else unless we manage to get a source on the inside."


March 23rd, 2004

An abandoned industrial park


1:42 AM

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Eddie could still see the kid's face, the muzzle flare from his shotgun keeping it lit like a strobe light after the bulbs went out. There wasn't much left of his face now, after that .45 bullet. He hadn't even asked the kid his name. But Eddie had more immediate concerns, like the Colt Anaconda revolver being shoved into his mouth. A sudden lightning flash illuminated the face of his attacker, and the thunder devoured the soft groan Eddie gave as he saw the other's face was splattered with blood. After the lightning was gone, he could smell the blood, both on the gun and on the man who was holding it. "Now. I am going to ask you once, and only once, to talk civilly until the authorities arrive to take you away. If you do anything else besides hold a polite and respectable conversation, I will paint the floor red. Do we have an understanding?" Eddie could barely nod, but apparently twisting his neck accounted for affirmation as the cannon was removed from his mouth, leaving a sickly metallic taste in its wake. He couldn't help but collapse coughing after the gun was removed, elbows scraping against the concrete floor. "Now," the other said calmly, replacing the weapon beneath the coat he wore, "Who do you work for?"

"A gang of bitch ass street punks who think they're hardass Vampires." Faster than Eddie could comprehend possible, the gun that had been replaced in the coat was suddenly in the auburn-haired man's hand and went off, the bullet clipping his right ear and cutting off several strands of his hair before burying itself in the floor next to him. The hammer on the revolver was cocked back with an ominous click and aim was taken at Eddie's head. "That was not very civil."

"FUCK." Eddie had resigned himself to death the moment he heard the gunshot, and was visibly trembling. "You already know I work for the fucking Sabbat." "Yes, but gangs of bitch ass street punks don't organize hits on Camarilla Vampires." Impossibly, Eddie felt outrage, mingled with indignation, despite his current position. "How the fuck am I supposed to know who did?" The man took a step forward, boot splashing in one of the puddles, and pressed the gun against Eddie's forehead. "If you don't know, you're useless, and there's no point taking you in." "Did you kill them? The ones who controlled me?" The man with the gun nodded his affirmation, his rain-slicked hair catapulting drops onto Eddie's face. They seemed cool, and he was burning up. He could barely think straight, he was trembling so badly. All those years, all that shit, all that time, and now this. Now this was happening, and there was a chance that those fucks were dead. Finally dead. He didn't have anything else now. Nothing, no attachment, no obligation. "They each have an urn now." So it was true. Eddie tried to keep talking, desperately, keep the man waiting until these 'authorities' came. "Then you know they were nobodies. Just taking orders." Ooops. There was the mistake. "Orders from who?" "How the hell am I supposed to know?" Oh shit. "Very we-"

"Wait! Just wait a minute, I remember now, one day, this guy popped up in our haven. Fuckin' weird guy, wearing a suit and some weird hat, had all the pack listening to him." It was all a blur, like trying to watch the scene on a DVD but constantly fiddling with the fast forward and remind buttons in his mind. "What did he say?" "I don't know." The other man's voice was flat. "You don't know." Eddie couldn't stop shaking. "I wasn't in the room." "Did it ever dawn on you that not listening in might have been a life or death decision?" It had, but in the reverse. "But.."

The gunshot rang out in the warehouse, and Eddie Ruppert slumped over. James paused, looking down at the corpse, pressing a button on his tape recorder.

"That must have been the worst day of his life," he remarked, with a faint sense of irony, before turning around and strolling out to his waiting motorcycle.
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