CLOSED SIGNUPS Vampire: the Masquerade - Visions

Doctor Jax

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Hanna Wojciek


The Kindred took some small, mean delight in seeing Dylan squirm. There was something about having that sort of power over someone. She tried not to lord over anybody with it - not exactly a good way of keeping friends - but it was fun to watch Dylan scramble for words as his boss grilled him for his night's plans. She leaned against the doorjamb, scratching the top of her head. Behind her, she could hear Tanner getting dressed himself.

She slowly smiled as Dylan spit out his evening's plans.

"Lookin' to score then. Noted. Word of advice... go easier on the cologne. The girl will know you're comin' a mile away, and we dames like some mystery, you dig, dude? Now, let's see who left me a note--"

To the Madame of Maximum Buzz, Greetings. My name had graced your ears, just as yours has since graced mine. I look forward to our meeting at the place of my newfound interest, a place to possibly base my operations.

With the Highest Respect, Salvatore


Her expression was carefully crafted not to show anything beyond interest.

"Neato," she said under her breath, tucking the letter back in its envelope. It went into the back pocket of her shorts, and she looked up to Dylan.

"Alright, man, if you gotta jet, you gotta jet. I guess I'll see you tomorrow. Be careful out there. Stuff goes bump in the night, ya know," she teased, raising and lowering her eyebrows. She closed the door to the apartment, and she took the letter out again, reading it one more time to commit to memory. It wasn't a request. It wasn't even an invitation. It was an order. The Freaks 'n Geeks really were looking to expand.

It made her skin itch. The Buzz was hers, and only hers. She wasn't about to let a jumped up, lumpy Kindred take it from her.

"You're lookin' stormy. What was all that about?" Tanner asked, brushing off a leather jacket.

"Politics," was all Hanna would sneer about the topic. She needed to talk with Wes. Izzy could wait. "You heading out for the night?"

"Yeah, I'm pulling three shifts back to back. They can't schedule me any other time," Tanner grumbled, picking up scrubs from the floor to stuff into his duffel. Hanna shrugged.

"I keep tellin' you to quit."

"And I keep tellin' you that I like having a roof and a full fridge."

He walked up to the Kindred and pecked her, ruffling her hair. With that, he headed out the door. Hanna sighed as she stared at the letter one more time, eyebrows drawn tight together. Well... she wanted to meet with him. At least he would be meeting on her home turf.

After getting (more) dressed, the Madame of the bar walked down to oversee its operations, heading towards Wes.

"I'm going to head out, unless anyone needs me. What about you, you need me?" he cooed at Izabel on the phone, and Hanna hip-checked him unceremoniously.

"Actually I do. Let's take a walk, bubbie."

@Applo //mentioned
@Lillian Gray @Red Thunder// Current Company
 

Kuno

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Ride Along



Shifting sands do not a good foundation make, and neither do irregular bumps and shakes provide for restful sleep. Certainly, being forced to rest while sitting upright, bound and gagged and drained of enough blood to prevent any Disciplines might leave one feeling irritable once they force themselves awake from the edge of Torpor that such blood-letting would have engendered.

The sun sank below the horizon at last, and as night cast his cloak across the painted sky, Amélie came to Unlife once more. Her Sire's ghoul, her own four walls, everything familiar was very absent, replaced by the confines of a passenger car's interior. Before her was the vehicle's front seat, bench style and black leather. The driver looked like an average limousine chauffeur: hat carefully centered on his head, black suit coat, the whole ordeal. To her left was a man of athletic build, with a square jaw and narrow, suspicious eyes. He wore dark slacks and a gray sport coat, which gave his skin an ashen quality to it. A smaller man sat on her right, though he was no less intimidating. His head was clean shaven, his dark dome looking maybe waxed for the shine on it, and he wore a perpetual smirk. Dressed more formally than his companion, he wore a three piece suit, blue with the faintest black pinstripes.

On Amélie's left, the square jawed man felt her body tense.

"Joe," he muttered, giving his companion a look. 'Joe', who had been watching the slowly thinning commercial districts rush by, turned his head in response. His smirk deepened.

"Good morning, or- you Kindred prefer 'Good evening', I guess."

Joe took a moment to eye her over, apparently checking her restraints. For restrained Amélie had been: duct tape, then rope, then a chain with thick links had been wrapped around her wrists, her upper arms and chest, and her legs and ankles, and a gag had been tightened uncomfortably in her mouth. Apparently satisfied, Joe nodded.

"You made a friend," he replied in answer to the unspoken question. "We're gonna go meet them. And, if you'll cooperate, I'll even drop the gag during the trip."

Amélie remained still as stone. Only her eyes, bright in the night’s gloom, continued their frenetic motion. Like two, silver pinballs, they rolled about, darting here and there, up and down the length of Joe’s body, across to where the buildings raced by past the vehicle. She shifted slightly, only to be met by a rude stop. The woman’s nostrils flared.

There was little left to assess. She was tied and swaddled in restraints, and there was the weight of an extra deterrent besides her. And her magic…merde. The little blaireau had covered all his bases.

Slowly, as if the action pained her, Amélie nodded once.

Joe smiled thinly. Pointedly avoiding her mouth, he reached behind her and loosened the gag. He then took it out from between her teeth with his fingertips and dropped it so it hung about her neck. Finally, he sat back, evidently pleased.

"There. Now our forced companionship might not be so… boring." A broad smile again tugged at his lips, exposing his teeth and revealing him to be Kine. A moment later, his expression became more reserved, and his tone followed suit. "But I suspect you… have questions?"

Joe clearly anticipated them; who wouldn't have questions in this situation? To Amélie's left, the square jawed man stared out his window, eyeing the thinning skyline. They still traveled, and the high-rises of downtown had given way slowly to more commercial structures, which were in turn fading into residential. The car moved quickly, even for a highway; they must be on a toll road. Joe raised his eyebrows and blinked, still staring at her.

He was met with a scornful laugh.

"Well of course," Amélie replied snarkily, "Like you said. Our companionship is forced, after all."

Forced by an unknown figure identified only as a "friend." Forced by strange men coming into her home, her bedroom, her sanctum, and stealing her away as she slept. The more she came to her senses, the more disturbed she became, righteous indignation coursing through her. Of course she had questions. Although she put little trust in the man’s ability to give her straight answers, it was the only choice left to her. Amélie ran a tongue over her teeth, her eyes flickering to Joe's face.

“Your ‘friend’ went to some…lengths to have me kidnapped. Why? Surely it would've been easier just to kill me, no?"

"A friend is no friend who strikes without knowing who he strikes."

Joe adjusted in his seat to better face her, the action shifting him to lean against the car door. It may have been that he did so to create distance; he eyed her mouth with trepidation, though he otherwise betrayed no thought or feeling. His fingers steepled against one another.

"But is it not enough that your friend wishes to meet you? Surely you understand the necessity of- discretion."

Amélie heard it before anyone else reacted to it: the siren of an emergency vehicle behind them. The driver must have adjusted their trajectory, for the car began drifting to the right and onto the shoulder. An ambulance raced by, and quickly the sound faded. The car reentered the lane and carried on. Joe remained unfazed.

The chains about Amélie's body drew in tightly as she shifted again to face Joe. She gave him an unreadable look.

"I wouldn't call this discretion. More like a ham-fisted attempt at cloak and dagger."

What was the point of this conversation? She detested "guessing games". And the situation didn't exactly lend itself to her already agitated state, though she was trying very, very hard to stay calm. For obvious reasons, the situation wasn't ideal to pick a fight.

Diplomacy, then. It was all she had.

Amélie smiled. It looked as unnatural as it felt; small and thin, lips pulling aside to just barely reveal her fangs.

"I think your friend is mistaken. I am not someone many want to meet." She tilted her head slightly, still smiling. "You'll understand why. Soon."

Joe inclined his head to Amélie, the respectful gesture apparently sincere. The guttural growl that came from her left was just as sincere, if not actually respectful.

"You're actually trading niceties with her? She's a prisoner; plain and simple. The Re-" The square jawed man had turned to face them, but with that last, he appeared to choke on his own words. Coughing, he regained his composure to glower at Amélie. "He doesn't care about being polite."

"Frank!"

Fear flashed in Joe's eyes, quickly suppressed as he looked back to Amélie. He smiled, a bit too broadly.

"Don't be so rude. And don't be so sure. Our- patron is a noble, well-bred man. Respect is exceedingly important."

Jesus Christ. The French woman was beginning to wish they’d left the gag in.

A noble, well-bred man. Please. Sounded like every Kindred she’d met in her life. Amélie’s eyes slid in Frank’s direction, regarding him mutely. She didn’t think he was lying, but then again, she didn’t trust either of these two hoodlums. Maybe their boss was a savage. Maybe he was a gentleman...a gentleman who stole away Kindred while they slept. Who knew? And who honestly cared?

It didn’t matter. She would find out soon enough.

It seemed that the car traveled another fifteen minutes, straight along the highway, without deviation. The interior fell silent, Amélie's lack of response having provided nothing more to the taciturn Frank, and even the overly and annoyingly enigmatic Joe appeared to have gone mute. No sound, save the ambience of road noise and the hushed thump thump of blood through the kine's veins, could the Kindred hear. It was almost hypnotic, the quiet rhythm enveloping everything in its reservation. Vision focused too tightly, smell was rendered even less important than it usually was regarded, and all that filled the ears was the conflicting beats of heartbeat and tires on pavement. The air grew heavy.

Suddenly, and quite inexplicably, the car stopped, though without the usual jerk of halted motion usually accompanied by such a sudden change of momentum. Frank pushed his door open and climbed out, grunting, before closing it again. He circled around, and when Joe opened his own door, Frank was outside, waiting.

"Come, Dame de la Sorcellerie," Joe cooed, removing Amélie's bonds hastily. "Our patron awaits."

Behind them stood an elegant house in the Tudor style, fenced in wrought iron. The paint appeared crisp and new, and the brick work looked like it received regular washes. The lawn was immaculate. Several of the windows were lit, indicating activity within, and a solitary window in the roof peak above the largest front panel glowed a muted violet light. To the right of this window was laid out a sizeable patio edged stone banisters perhaps three feet high, fashioned after Grecian architecture. And standing on the patio, hands clasped behind him, stood a man perhaps 5'8". His skin was pale almost to the point of luminescence, the walnut brown of his long hair cutting a stark contrast. He wore a red three piece suit with no tie, and his shirt was black. Amélie would recognize this man to be Sigurd Erickson, the Regent of the Houston Tremere Chantry. Custom dictates that a Tremere moving to a new city introduce themselves to the local Tremere leader, and Sigurd had ensured that it had happened. At the time, he had greeted her in a professional yet friendly manner, though it had been merely a short formality.

He stared directly at her, frowning deeply.

The look on Amélie’s face was just as displeased. “Well hello, Sigurd.”

Always the first to speak. Always the first to approach. Amélie stopped short of the patio steps, body taut, eyes scanning the fair-skinned man with unease. The sight of the Regent brought about bittersweet feelings. She hardly knew the man; to be perfectly frank, she’d never cared to know him. He’d had his business to attend to, and she had very much enjoyed not being a part of it for all these years. Amélie noted his elegant suit and, inevitably, her eyes drifted down to her nightgown.

Humiliating. Utterly humiliating. She watched him watching her, and her eyes hardened.

“So, friend. I’m absolutely dying to know.To what do I owe this unwanted pleasure?” She cocked her to the side, eyes bright with anger. “Certainly nothing a fucking phone call could have conveyed, right?”

 
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Lillian Gray

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Wesley 'Wes' James Moore
Wesley grinned. His recovery was less than graceful, as he tottered on his own two feet after Hanna hip checked him past the counter. He chuckled, but he left it well alone. Isabel was the new blood, and Hanna was the one in charge. Wesley knew he’d crossed a line.

He followed after Hanna, attempting again to put some order to his hair. How was it that despite all the advantages he’d been given when he turned, that any kindred could possibly have bedhead? Surely there was some boon against having matted hair and tangles every morning? But he was getting distracted.

“What’s wrong, cutie?” Wesley asked. He thought maybe this was about Isabel. “I’ll leave her alone, if that’s what this is about. I know where the lines fall, I’d never push a new blood like that, you know me.”

Hanna headed towards the kitchens, deciding speaking away from the ears of everyone in the bar would be a better choice. Keep things discrete. However, it became clear that Wes was more concerned about another matter entirely. Her eyebrows raised before she suddenly scoffed lightly, shaking her head.

“My dude, I don’t care if you’re hot to trot after Izzy. She’s, like, a babe, man. The scar makes her look dangerous even if she’s a big ol’ pussycat,” she chuckled, cracking the knuckles on one hand, then the other. The bar owner instead leaned against a counter, her eyes on Wes’ face, suddenly intent.

“No, I got something else to talk to you about. Gonna be honest, you’re older than me. You’ve seen a thing, maybe two. Got a letter today, from Salvatore -- current jefe of the Nosferatu. He wants to meet at his newest… place of interest. I worry he’s headed to the Buzz.”

She paused for a second. Maybe she’d been hasty. Could that also mean the Astro Stadium? That was what Leon had told her last night. Nevertheless, there was the possibility he also meant the Buzz. It wasn’t really clear.

“Or, possibly, the Astro Stadium… I dunno. If I’m honest, makes me kinda antsy. I gotta keep them happy to keep up supply, but it’s possible he might start askin’ us to… start makin’ promises,” Hanna said quietly. For once, she seemed less than assured. “Just hard to decide what’s better - act like a friend, be a friend, or blow him off entirely.”

Wesley was thrown off by Hanna’s inquiry. She wanted his opinion? The younger kindred must have been desperate if she was asking him for life advice on how to play coy with the Nosferatu. Wesley didn’t deal with the lot often. They were… how did he put it delicately?

The Nosferatu were some of the most repulsive, scum scraping, gag inducing creatures to ever grace his presence. With their rotting complexions and ear splitting, screeching vocal tones, Wesley wanted nothing to do with them beyond putting a bag over their grimy faces.

The only indication of his innermost thoughts on the group was a slight frown on the corner of his lip. It could easily have been mistaken for him concentrating on a reply.

“Hanna, sweetheart.” Wesley mirrored Hanna’s stance and leaned up next to her. “Here’s the honest truth, no sugar or spice. Without a supply, the Buzz is dead. And not because of the clientele.” He grimaced before continuing, Hanna wasn’t a fool. She knew as much. “Now I’m not saying you should roll over and be Salvatore’s bitch. That’s not very romantic. But sometimes you have to play nice to keep up. Just until you figure something else out.”

Wesley sighed. None of this was probably new to Hanna, and it still probably wasn’t what she wanted to hear. But was Wesley in the business of lying to his good friend? No. She wanted some honesty and he’d give it to her. He leaned closer and wrapped an arm around her shoulder in a half embrace, keeping his eyes straight ahead.

“How bad do you want the Buzz to stay alive?” Wesley asked. “Are you willing to roll over and play nice for her? For Salvatore? That’s all I’ve got for you, sweetie, this is your place. Play the game, see what you get, but don’t be upset if you end up at rock bottom.”

Hanna’s face was carefully neutral, taking in what he said. Part of her hated that he was right. It went against so much of her philosophy, one of total and complete freedom, but as a dead old white man had said, power was something proportional to the need someone had for you, whether slave or master.

“You know what. I guess you did survive the Embrace with some brains in there,” Hanna finally agreed, quirking a smile and looping an arm around his waist to squeeze. “You got a point, man. I always knew this could go belly-up at any time, but the journey is often better than the destination.”

She shrugged her shoulders. With that, she let go of him.

“I’m gonna head out to the Stadium then. Show of good faith. You keep an eye on Izzy,” she asked. “And see if you can’t find the Green Machine.”

The fucking car.

Wesley grimaced with displeasure. Why did she have to remind him that his singular pride in joy in life was still missing? He drug a hand over his face and sighed, exasperated already at the prospect of trying to find the thing in the city. It was distinct enough to ask about, but Houston was a big place, with a lot of people and a lot of shady corners.

“I’ll start with Isabel and work my way up to the car.” Wesley smirked. He made his way to exit the kitchen, flashing a peace sign at Hanna before meandering back to the bar where he’d left the new blood.
 
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Applo

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Putting her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone receiver, Isabel smiled at Wesley as he appeared at the bar and was halfway through mouthing good morning to him when Hanna barrelled through the bar and into the kitchen dragging the other kindred in her wake. Suddenly left alone again, she hopped up and sat on the bar, switching the phone to her other ear as she did.

“Thanks Lisa, um I ain’t got much, last night was kinda a mixed bag, went to a kinda cool bar which was nice and ended up crashing on a friend’s sofa. There was a load of bullshit with a bunch of drunk morons afterwards, that sucked hard. Don’t really know what, happens now, guess I might find out later.” Isabel liked talking to Lisa. The thick Yankee accent and obnoxious chewing of gum reminded her of so many people from back home. Also, it was nice to have someone believe she was skipping work to meet up with guys. “How about you? Anything interesting happen last night or was it just the usual crap?”

By the time Wes sashayed his way back through the kitchen door back into the bar, the conversation with Lisa was just winding up and Isabel held a finger up until she put the receiver down.

“What ya an Hanna plotting back there Wes?”​

 

Red Thunder

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tumblr_mtp705kqC71rm7h2fo1_400.jpg
October 14, 1999
7:15pm

∆∆∆
the Tremere Chantry​
The Tremere Regent is the Duke to the Camarilla's Prince of major cities. The Regent presides over local Tremere, giving guidance to those who asked, doling out punishment to those who deserved, acting as liaison to those outside, and providing safe Haven to Tremere who needed it. Though the lowest supervisor in the Tremere's structural Pyramid, they wield impressive influence within their local sphere, should they choose it, and the Tremere Chantry, the local stronghold, is a veritable treasure trove of occult knowledge and arcane power, and is almost always defended by intense rituals and impenetrable illusions. Every Tremere in the city where the Chantry sits is required to introduce themselves to the Regent upon arrival, who keeps close tabs on them while living there, both to support them in times of genuine trouble and to discipline them when they step out of line.

Regent Sigurd Erickson was a recluse in every sense of the word. Rarely seen outside the Chantry, Erickson was rumored to spend nearly every waking moment within the last labyrinth of the Chantry's library, studying ancient tomes and absorbing the intricacies of the most elaborate rituals. Those outside the Tremere who did meet him reported that speaking to him was like trying to chat up a gargoyle: frustrating, exhausting, time-consuming, and potentially exceedingly dangerous.

Erickson regarded Amélie with a thinly veiled impatience, the tightness in his face only deepening at her words. His gaze lowered, eyeing her nightgown, before returning to her face. Holding the look for an uncomfortable moment, Erickson turned and entered the Chantry as he muttered under his breath.

"Come put on something more appropriate, Madáme."

There was neither sarcasm nor anger in his tone, and without waiting to see if she followed, let alone heard, he disappeared within, leaving the front door open. Through it came streaming a cool, inviting light. The hall carpet was a deep burgundy, nicely complementing the dark brown wood paneling. A chandelier of brushed nickel hung from the ceiling perhaps ten feet in from the door, shining gently.

Amélie, for all her lack of familiarity with the house, or even direction from her host, would find herself inextricably led as though by some mystical means to a door leading out from the hallway. Through it was a veritable treasure trove of clothing and adornment, ranging from comfortable to black tie and everything between. Armoire, wardrobes, and open racks lined the walls of the room. On one dresser sat an empty crystal drinking glass and a matching decanter filled with a viscus, red liquid immediately identifiable as human blood. A note lay beside it, handwritten.

Have a glass. Once ready, please exit the same door through which you entered and turn right.

Regards,
Regent Erickson


∆∆∆
The Maximum Buzz​

Chuck eyed the fry grease with mild distaste. Like tadpoles swimming about a scummy pond, bits of fries and breading bounced around within the yellow mess. No telling how old it was, though certainly he couldn't recall the last time that he'd cleaned it. Even the heating element deeply submerged showed signs of carbon buildup. Fuck, it'd been too long. Best not let the old bag see-

The kitchen door creaked, and Chuck nearly jumped out of his skin, the frozen bag of fries he held in one hand only failing to fall to earth because of the panicked tension that caused his hands to clench. The old bag had just stepped through the door, swiftly followed by that creepy-ass motherfucker. Shit. She'd have his ass, if she saw her fryer like this. The rest of the damn place was probably just as bad. He could kiss his job goodb-

Nosferatu. Supply. Salvatore's bitch. Embrace.

As Hanna and Wesley entered, Chuck found himself paralyzed with fear, petrified in the half turned position he'd taken as the door had opened. Apparently, they hadn't noticed him and had begun speaking about things way the hell above his pay grade. About things he was dead certain he was not meant to hear. He remained unmoving, hardly daring to breathe as they conversed. Against his arm, he felt the grease begin to heat as the radiant temperature touched his skin. His heart tightened in his chest; if he wasn't meant to hear about- whatever the fuck, and Hanna heard the grease start popping…

Sure enough, even as Wesley left the kitchen for the bar, the fryer began to bubble happily. Chuck's pulse quickened.

Back in the Buzz's main house, Hanna's staff had started to prep the floor for the nightly patrons. On the tables and booths that edged the dance floor, waiters and waitresses placed utensils and menus, giving the odd errant chair a shove back into place as they made their rounds. The DJ sat at his table, a black records box propped open. Carefully, she flipped through the albums, checking to see what soaked her interest for tonight. And Izzy nodding appreciably as Lisa elaborated on some story or other on the telephone.

"But I told him that if he's gonna just go spending the night at his ex's apartment, well." Lisa huffed rather loudly into the receiver. "But you know Dick; he don't listen to a damn word I say. It's like I don't exist, ya know? I dunno, Izz; I'm thinking maybe I should just dump his scrawny ah- what!? Ah, damn, sorry, Izz, but I gotta go. Talk to ya later, honey!"

Muffled voices, and not so muffled shouting, filled Isabel's earpiece just before the line disconnected. Around her, apparently oblivious to either her or Wesley, their coworkers busied themselves with setting up the place. As yet, no one marked the figure seated in a dark corner, legs extended before them and crossed. A dull red flared briefly near its mouth before fading, and a line of cigarette smoke trailed towards the ceiling.
 

Doctor Jax

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Hanna Wojciek


The Kindred let Wes go easily, leaning against the counter in her kitchen. Her mind turned over his words, thoughts turning to all the people who depended on the Buzz. Was it their fault for leaning on her? Sure. But she'd encouraged that. This was her philosophy, after all. Every man helps himself, but helping himself often entails helping others. Anarchy, at its finest, was when everyone went their own way until it wasn't possible anymore. Power was the proportion of need someone had for you.

You only reached stalemate when you needed each other. That, if she was honest, was what she wanted to avoid. Always try and keep the upper hand. She didn't trust the Nosferatu, not too much. But they knew things.

And maybe they knew something of the weird drug going around, especially. The sudden disappearance of the homeless and destitute.

She heard the fryer as it began to pop, and she turned around, eying Chuck. Lazy son of a... Good kitchen staff were hard to find, not in small part due to the fact they often showed up high. Chuck's problem was that he had a sour attitude.

"Hey, Chuckie. How you doin', man? Little late to be startin' up the fryer isn't it?" she asked, hands in her pockets as she sauntered over. How long had he been standing there? God's wounds. She was slipping in her old age. She easily forgot that not everyone here was part of the Masquerade. "This kitchen's, like, kind of a pig sty, man. I've been meaning to talk to you about that, actually."

Her eyes were suddenly piercing. She'd been well fed last night. Plenty for the little stunt she was pulling. Her voice had an oily allure, a worming quality, that seemed to wrap around the brain, like a good melody, a track you half-remember singing as a kid.

"I'd dig the idea that you shape it up in here. Wouldn't want to fire you. People say stuff, you know, about you, and you shouldn't believe everything you hear," she stated, that worming effect suddenly becoming a strangling snake as the words became a command, not a suggestion. "You wouldn't understand it anyways, right?"

Hopefully if he heard those words, his mind wouldn't comprehend, a stroke victim trying to make sense of a conversation. She reeled like a snake charmer with a flute, swaying his mind with suggestion more than outright demands. Make it his idea.

"Let's just forget that ever happened, alright? Sounds good, champ," Hanna stated, breaking the spell. She patted his shoulder. "Clean this thing out for me and replace the oil. You can just 86 whatever gets ordered fried for now, tell 'em the fryer needs maintenance. 'Kay, muchacho?"

[/USER] //mentioned
@Red Thunder// Current Company
 

Lillian Gray

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Wesley 'Wes' James Moore
Wesley returned to the table and propped his elbow on the counter, placing his chin in his hand so he could stare more closely at the new blood. Her right eye, glossy and void of it's pair's color, called his attention like some grotesque Siren's song. Just enough to call him in due to his innate curiosity, staring without regard to what she might be thinking, but the ugliness beneath the pretty notes too obvious for him to linger. She was a pretty thing. Dark hair, her one green eye, not a terrible complexion either if he ignored the blatant scarring. It was just the single sour note that broke the rest of the harmony. His own eyes, hazel and narrowed, flitted to the remnants of mascara on her lashes. She was nothing like the flashy groups of Toreador royalty he was accustomed to. None of them were.

In Hollywood it was all about attention. Who had the biggest house, the nicest car, the flashiest tits. Glitz, glamour, and fame. And of course, affluence for the pure sake of status. They wanted green painted lawns and hedges trimmed into odd shapes, modern art that just didn't make sense, but was still inexplicably gorgeous in its own right. That was the world Wesley was accustomed to. Now, Mistress Rosa's world hadn't been quite so plastic, there was much more leather, but she still endeavored for a similar sort of perfection. He'd known girls with petite waists and faces so covered in product they may as well have been an oil painting from the neck up. Rosa never liked those ones. Wesley still knew that just because he lived in Texas didn't mean those measures of beauty and ceased to exist. No, but the atmosphere had changed. He'd had to climb down from the marble pedestal and settle for something a bit more akin to painted concrete. Not ugly in itself, but made of a lesser quality nonetheless. Everyone in Texas wanted to be them. The girls on posters advertising the casinos in Las Vegas, or the pinup from the newest blockbuster. They wanted to look like a star, full well knowing the sky was out of their reach.

While he strove for bigger and better things, being the best, the most beautiful? It was easier here. There was simply no comparison.

"Hm?" He finally hummed the short response. His attention was still focused on Isabel's features. A Toreador distracted by something worth contemplating was a lost cause to outside persuasion. "It was nothing more than a chat, don't worry yourself."

Again, his eyes were drawn to the scar on her face. He reacted without thinking, not worried about the consequences should he offend her. Hanna would certainly chastise him should he actually cross a boundary the new blood was too timid to admit to. Wesley gingerly brushed his thumb near the corner of her eye were a smudge of mascara and some dark colored eye shadow had smudged together. Without speaking, he confidently continued to clean the blurred lines of her makeup using the tips of his fingers. It wasn't bad. Not really. His hand moved to the opposite side of her face, only to find there was little there. Was she insecure of her complexion? There was little reason to be. "You know, your eyes are a very pretty color. Not especially common." He mused. Wesley envisioned her with a bit more makeup, wondering what he had at home that might help to cover her scar and blend the ragged skin with her cheeks.

He stopped, fingers poised near the corner of her eyes. Isabel just needed a little teaching. A bit like a new canvas, Wesley had the tools so long as Isabel could play the part of an eager apprentice. She wouldn't need to look like the painted Hollywood whores to do it either. There was so much natural potential that all the pieces would fall into place. Quite the rare thing, Wesley thought to himself.

"You know, I could show you how to cover that." He murmured quietly. "If you like. You've got a pretty face, and I have all eternity to show you how to make a perfect wingtip."

The bar around them had filled, but his own nature had him trapped in that small moment. Leaning forward, smirking with brazen assurance in his own talents, he was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to snatch the new blood and steal her away to his apartment. Wesley was trying to be genuine but the cocky smile made it difficult to believe. But there was something there, in her features, that he couldn't help but stare. Ugly? No. Beautiful? Not quite. That damnable, twisted song, singing too loudly in his head.

Wesley didn't even look to the stranger in the corner.
 
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Applo

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“It’s like… two perce- ” The lame attempt at a reply to Wes’s compliment faltered and died on Isabel's tongue in a mass of surprise, confusion and unexpected nerves.

In the moment that Wes’s thumb first brushed against the corner of her eye, ice formed in her veins; the intimate pressure catching her off guard. Shocked her. Startled her. Instinct told her to pull away, but its audience wasn’t listening. Like a deer suddenly caught in a charging truck's headlights, both the new blood’s body and mind had reacted by freezing; a needless breath sticking in her throat.

As the Toreador’s fingers had gingerly worked and massaged her skin, Isabel’s moment of blind panic had receded. Her body, ridgid like glass, softened, becoming pliant to the older kindred's touch. When Wes’s hands had switched to the other side of her face, Isabel instinctively tilted her head as if he had commanded her to, despite not a word leaving their lips. Her mind had no part in the small action. It was still spinning wildly, trying to comprehend what was happening.

The compliment that dripped from the lips of the older kindred like a droplet verbal ambrosia triggered a Pavlovian need to respond in Isabel, caused by a lifetime’s social conditioning, and her brain had turned to the safe familiarity of science. It was only as she heard the words coming out of her mouth that Isabel realised how wrong they were. Feeling suddenly embarrassed she quickly averted her gaze away from her friend, looking around the cavernous space of Hanna’s club. For a moment her sight landed on a red glow and a slight plume of smoke in the corner but she thought nothing of it.

"You know, I could show you how to cover that. If you like. You've got a pretty face, and I have all eternity to show you how to make a perfect wingtip."

The almost whispered offer drew Isabel’s focus back to the older kindred and for a few moments’s she stared at him mutely; her brain finally finding traction on his words started to make sense of what had just happened.

“Uh thank’s Wes.” A hesitant smile spread across Isabel’s face as relief came hand in hand with her blossoming understanding of the moment. Despite the shit eating grin stretched across her friend's face she was certain he was being sincere in his offer. Lifting a hand up to her face, she traced the lines of gnarled flesh with her fingers. They were a brand that had been forced on her just as unlife had. They marked her as different from everyone else. Made people stare at her like the freak she was. How she wished she could be rid of them. Being able to hide them would be a start. The Toreadors offer was too good to pass up.

“I’d like that if you would. I really would. I never really learnt how to do much with make- most of my friends were more- I’d like that a lot please Wes.”​

 
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Kuno

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Amélie


She had to give it to Sigurd - despite his otherwise unassuming appearance, he could cut an intimidating figure when he so chose. He stared unabashedly at her, and Amélie, despite her defiant stance and scowl, felt herself squirm inwardly.

The unpolished gleam of her personality never quite shone as hideously as it did in the presence of another Tremere. They were, as a clan, synonymous with power: raw talent, honed skill, and intelligence, married together in the intricate hierarchy that dictated their lives. To each Tremere was known their own station. And hers?

To guard. To protect. To stay in line.

So went the doctrine of the Magi: all things must come to heel. Inherent submission, and latent aggression - it was what was expected of her. Not to continually nip at her betters, as she had the unfortunate habit of doing. The woman ran a tongue over her fangs, pensive.

What had Aymard called her once? Madame’s tiger on a leash?

Eventually, she was forced to look away from the Regent. She pretended to preen her nails until at last he came to speak, issuing forth a statement only a pragmatic spirit could engender.

"Come put on something more appropriate, Madáme."

Amélie bit her lip. After a careful glance over her shoulder, she followed behind obediently, bare feet smacking against the stone steps.

The Chantry presented itself in a sumptuous fashion. In spite of her pent up irritation, she could not help but be impressed; racks upon racks of clothes jockeyed for space with armoires and dressers aplenty. It was enough to make any fashionable woman jealous. Amélie let her fingers brush against the satin edge of one gown as she explored further, her eyes flicking about the large room with interest. Near the center wall sat a small dresser with a small piece of paper and, besides it, a pristine decanter, filled with what she could only assume was blood. Amélie toyed at her lip again, eyeing both the blood and the paper.

First, a change of clothes. Then the note.

Sigurd had assumed black tie attire for their little palaver, and out of respect Amélie chose the same. A LBD paired with heels - classy and simplistic, something she wouldn’t miss if the Regent deemed it be returned. A click of her heels, and she was back at the other dresser, eyes scanning the note quickly.

Classy. But it did little to soothe her bruised feelings. Amélie pushed the note off to the side and drew the decanter and glass towards her, frowning. Some prideful part of her resented the man’s invitation. It was because of him that she was so drained, so weak, so desperately in need of blood. She felt the iron talons of hunger clawing at her insides, and she stared rather pathetically at the decanter, the blood seeming to sing to her from within.

Who was she to refuse a gift, anyways? It was like they always said: Après la pluie le beau temps. Every cloud had their silver li-

The top to the decanter came off with a soft clink. Her pupils expanded.

Have a glass.

She complied.

Decorum overruled the beast long enough to pour blood into her glass with as much grace as she could muster. Then the moment, and Amélie was staring through the clear bottom of her cup. She glanced at the decanter. In truth, there was enough for another glass, and she would have liked very much to have another. Already she felt better - certainly a lot less churlish, despite the icy blankness of her expression.

Still. He’d said to have a glass, not two. Manners first.

Amélie left the glass where it stood. Following the note’s instructions, she returned to the hallway and went right, letting the wooden paneling carry her to its Master.

 

Red Thunder

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October 14, 1999
7:30pm

the Tremere Chantry​

It was potent, the blood Regent Erickson had provided Amélie. It carried an underlying note of cleanliness, of pride, of- vanity, that spoke of the best upbringing. It was the kind of flavor a socialite could only absorb from eating the most prime cuts of filet mignon, drinking the oldest wines and strongest liquors, and living in the greatest luxury. It was intoxicating, approaching even that of Kindred vitae, and Amélie showed great restraint in preventing herself from consuming the rest of it. There was now power in her arms, and energy in her step; the lethargy brought about from being drained of her blood by the two ghouls was utterly gone.

The hallway was, perhaps predictably, an easily manageable pathway to traverse. The burgundy carpet was thick, of a style not made for decades, yet showed no sign of age or wear. Every sound was muffled, quieted as if by an invisible blanket that covered the whole of the interior, and every step Amélie took was soft and comfortable, even through her shoes. Along the walls, some 6.5ft up and spaced evenly throughout, sconces apparently of the same make as the chandelier in the foyer illuminated her path with a gentle light.

Yet no doors passed her as she strode on, and on, and on. It seemed to be unending, with nothing more to mark the distance than the repetitive lights on the walls. The time stretched, the distance stretched, everything stretched. It began to feel like thirty seconds turned to five minutes, which developed into thirty, which only became an hour. Step. Step. Step. Step. Unending walking, eternal travel without destination, a Sisyphusian torment. Then, just when it felt like it might carry on until Gehenna, the hallway ended. The door that presented itself was of dark walnut, with a nickel plated doorknob. Should Amélie look back, she would see that she was perhaps thirty feet from the dressing room. Yet still, there were no other doorways within the hall.

The room within was a study, if a pagan sacrificial chamber could be described as a study. Below her feet, the floor was chiseled granite blocks of irregular shape, fitted together nearly so as to show nary a crack. Rough hewn planks of oak lined the perimeter, forming the walls, and every bit of exposed wood was blackened, as if it had been burned. Leaves and branches of tree and bush hung from the wall, as if in decoration, as did the skulls of several wild animals. The ceiling was similarly fashioned. Set against the wall, interspersed irregularly, were rough hewn bookshelves bearing numerous scrolls and tomes, many appearing to be ancient, if their construction were any indication. In the farthest corner was an exposed fire, rising some five feet into the air but perhaps no greater than that in circumference, yet for all its size, it gave off no heat. It consumed, or at least appeared to consume, a pillar of neatly stacked logs three feet high, and bathed the room in a dull, throbbing red. In the center of the chamber stood a stone table perhaps three feet high, and it was covered in runes and chiseled knotwork. On it sat a large bowl, filled with water.

Sigurd stood before the fire, staring into it. His back was to the door, yet when Amélie entered the room, he spoke.

"Please, come in, Madáme." As before, his tone was absent of mockery or derision. He turned to face her, hands in his pockets, and gave a small bow of his head. "Forgive me; there is no place to sit. I think best in my study, thus have I invited you.

"Tell me, for it has been some time since we have spoken: how do you find Houston? Is it to your liking?"

∆∆∆
The Maximum Buzz​

The worm of suspicion rooted about in Chuck's mind. Salvatore? Supply? Embrace? Nosferatu? Wasn't that some shitty Dracula knockoff movie back in, like, some long time ago? Some weird ass cult that took the name, maybe? If so, was Hanna involved in it? It would figure that the creep Wesley was, creepy-ass motherfucker, but Hanna? She was weird, yeah, but he'd never took her for-

Her eyes turned to his, and his pulse skyrocketed. He wasn't sure, but he thought he saw hunger in those eyes. A hunger he didn't feel equipped to sate, even had he wanted to. As she began plying him with questions, the earthy ground through which that suspicious thread twisted froze solid, restricting both suspicion and every other fuckin thought in his head. His mouth gapped slightly, and reflexively he began to stammer.

Then her words changed. A pressure grew behind them, a weight his mind and his legs could hardly bear. They entered his brain, flitting about confidently. Through her suggestions, she laid a blanket of silk around his brain, giving it a form to relax into, and to warm up with. That worm of suspicion wriggled free and squirmed to the surface, seeking, demanding attention. And it did gain it. Even as Chuck began to wonder why his boss suddenly cared so damn much about what anyone said about him, the worm was yanked free, carried off to trouble him no longer. Why should he care what others said? People were assholes anyway, full of shit more than half the time, and bitches the other time. Best to just ignore it.

Whatever "it" was.

"Uh. Yeah. I'll, uh, geddit done. Been meanin to, anyway."

Immediately, Chuck turned around and got to work, never giving Hanna a second glance.

In the main room, patrons had begun to file in. This early in the evening, most of the clientele were kin looking for some variation of a good time. There was at first glance little in the way of variety within the crowd. Blacks and grays contrasted neon greens and pinks, chains and buckles accessorized in a superfluous manner, rarely needed but proudly displayed, and the symbols and likenesses of popular punk music groups and underground bands were plastered across the shirts of nearly half the clubbers. But for all their uniformity, there was a kind of uniqueness obvious if one examined two or three against another. Each applied these similar aspects in their own way, giving themselves identify in the throng.

Already, the music began, the low, heavy throb of the bass cut with piercing bytes of electric pulse. From hidden pockets came out tiny candies, pressed powder in all forms and shapes, and soon after, the dancefloor was packed with a shifting, massless form, writhing in ecstacy and artificial, drug fueled pleasure, ignorant, willfully or no, of the withdrawals such fun would later provide.

Some few, richer patrons by their dress, bypassed the dancefloor entirely, choosing instead tables and booths. No few glanced about, eyes seeking the wait staff. One man, dark skinned and sporting a mass of dreads on his head, sidled up to the bar, coming within a foot of Wesley and apparently ignorant of his presence.

"Yeah, I need me a vodka strai- woah!" His eyes lit up, and standing straighter, he smiled. It was Marcus, and he was looking right at Isabel's most prominent feature. "Didn't know I'd found your place! S'up, Izz?"
 
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Applo

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It was like someone had poured a bucket of ice cold water over her. One moment, Wes had filled Isabel’s whole world: the noise and presence of everyone else in the bar seeming distant, almost unreal. The next it was as if someone had unmuted reality and cranked the volume to high, the intimacy of the moment the two kindred had shared shattering like delicate glass under the sensory assault. Isabel all but jumped out of her skin. If not for Wes’s body, pinning her against the bar, the sudden spasm would have sent the purple haired kindred tumbling to the floor. As it was she was still elevated enough that when twisted her head towards where the sound of her name had come from the first thing she saw were Marcus’ dreads.

“Oh ummm, hey Marcus.” Suddenly aware of the other people at the bar, Isabel twisted to look the other way and caught the eye of the barman she hadn’t noticed. Nothing was said but from the look in their eye she got the idea that they would very much appreciate it if she took her ass off their bar sooner rather than later and after gently pushing Wes off of her, she did just that; sliding to the floor between the kindred and valet. “Yeah, this is errr pretty much where I hang out. The owner is a friend. She was the girl with blue hair last night at Leons. She let me crash here last night cos it was late.”

Standing between Marcus and Wes, Isabel, couldn’t help but feel loomed over by the pair. She was also starting to regret her choice of outfit. While the jeans and somewhat holey tank top certainly fitted in with the general vibe of the crowd, the young kindred was beginning to wish she had worn something slightly less worn out. She was also now noticing all flyaways sitting at the edge of her vision. All in all she was feeling excessively under-dressed compared to her two companions. Very shabby. Trashy. A few moments ago she had felt... well, she didn’t quite remember how she felt, but it hadn't been like this.

“Um, I’m gonna visit the ladies room for a sec I think. Need to- I’ll be back in like five I guess. You remember Wes right, Marcus?” Isabel waved a thumb over her shoulder towards the Toredore as she extracted herself from between the pair before setting off for the toilets as fast as was polite. She wasn’t actually running but only mostly because she hadn’t done her boot’s laces up and they would have come flying off if she did. Besides she would be out of sight soon enough; the thronging dance floor would see to that, not that she was going to cross it. That way held far too much temptation and risk. No Isabel skirted around the edge of the bar, past private booths filled with customers who at least wouldn’t push themselves against her in the dark.​

 

Lillian Gray

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Wesley 'Wes' James Moore
Tear into his fucking throat, sweetheart, he’s getting in the way of what you want. He made her leave. Leon doesn’t need him, he’s just a ghoul. Grab him by his knotty dreadlocks and--

Wesley cleared his throat and forced a smile that seemed genuine on the surface, but felt grotesque and twisted on his own lips. His throat burned with a sudden urge. Listen to it, do it, love. Beastie was hungry. All he’d had of late was the drink at Leon’s. Just one. Wesley was no fool though, and gutting a ghoul during working hours seemed like a poor idea. Especially since the man in question had done nothing to offend him except style his hair in such an unappealing fashion. He could play nice, for now. He was in Hanna’s bar, talking to their new friend from Leon’s. There was no reason to be curt just because Beastie was jealous. And still... Why was he being forced to converse with such an odd looking man? Odd being the kind term for how Wesley really felt about his choice of aesthetic.

“Marcus, was it?” He cooed sweetly, resisting the urge to bare his canines at the man. “What brings you to the Buzz? Can I get you something to drink?”

"Uh- what?"

Brow creased, Marcus' gaze had followed Isabel as she hurried awkwardly away, mouth pursed in concern. He'd leaned back against the bar, still not having even acknowledged Wesley until the Kindred actually addressed him. Even then, there was an obvious moment of lag before he turned his head.

"Drink? Nah, man; I'm good. I can get my own. Hey, yo!" Marcus rapped his knuckles against the bar top, directing his voice toward the bartender with a tilt up of his chin as he turned to face him. "Vodka straight, yeah?

"But the Buzz. I dunno, man. It just- I like the vibe here." Leaning against the bar once more, this time facing it, he gave Wesley a crooked grin. "My day off. Leon'd kill me if he knew I came here, but shit. Kid's gotta live, right? Or not. Whatever."

A warm if course chuckle popped in his throat at that. The drink was easy and straightforward, and it was in front of him even as he began to laugh. Picking it up, he gave Wesley a glance.

"And what y'all doin' here? Seems a rough joint for a- a suit."

Wesley snorted before covering his mouth with his hand. He took a seat on one of the bar stools beside the ghoul and glanced at him from the corner of his eye. “A suit? You flatter me, Marcus. Who exactly do you think I am?” Now that was a thought. Wesley, the Anarch, pretending to do what exactly? Work for the Prince? Not that it was entirely false, he liked to think he was less uptight and prim than whatever Marcus implied.

“Your master must be quite lenient, if all he would do is kill you.” Wesley murmured just loud enough so the boy could hear. He raised his fingers subtly and the bartender replied with a sigh.

“Ain’t you supposed to be workin’, Wes?”

“Sure, when I’m through with our friend from Leon’s.” Wesley grinned at the bartender. In one more subtle interaction, Wesley held up two fingers, and the bartender obliged him with an added substance to his drink. Two drops from a small vial beneath the counter. “I’m sure he’ll be leaving soon enough.”

“You know, Marcus.” Wesley accepted the drink presented to him, and eagerly sipped at the amber liquid. “My Mistress would never let her ghouls out, and when she did?” He hummed, calling to mind the exact instance. Killing them would have been easy for Rosa, but that was no fun for her. She craved that last bit of control and no ghoul would take that from her to have a single night of freedom. Punishment was always an inevitability in the absolute. “She didn’t just kill them on the spot. You’ll be lucky if Leon does the same.” He winked and continued to sip at his bourbon.

"Sounds like a real bitch."

The vodka was half gone now, and the pleasant expression Marcus' face had carried had faded. He hadn't so much as looked at Wesley during the Kindred's little speech, though he'd certainly seemed to pay attention. His body had tensed, hearing about Rosa, and the spark in his eye had faded. He looked instead into his glass, apparently trying for all his worth to fall inside it.

A moment later, the smile had returned, and he gave Wesley another look of wry skepticism.

"Yeah: a suit. You look like you belong here like I look like I belong at the Lounge." He gestured broadly to his clothing. It was different from last night; now, he wore an open plaid buttoned shirt that might have been a size too large over a white undershirt, with blue jeans a bit too short above a pair of red hitop Converse. He chuckled. "You seem outta place, man. All I'm saying. Here, and with those chicks you were with last night."

“I owe them.” Wesley said vaguely. Rather, he owed Hanna. That was more appropriate. He sipped the last of his bourbon and motioned for another, nixing any additives. Beastie was quiet now.

Wesley was still wearing the same thing from the previous night, not having bothered to go home and change. His leather jacket lay somewhere, unattended but still within eyesight. As if he’d make the same mistake twice and lose his jacket along with his car. He had rolled up the sleeves of his corded sweater but otherwise looked no different. His hair was down and smooth thanks to his preening. A similar, inviting smile rested on his lips that was entirely fabricated.

“So then if you’re so out of place, why not come work for us instead?” Wesley teased. He hardly expected a ghoul to drop everything to work for another Kindred. There was too much attachment. “You wouldn’t have to play dress up, and you could still keep the dreads. Maybe.”

Marcus openly laughed, no longer keeping it to a reserved chuckle, though the sound was tinged with a bitter resentment.

"It ain't that easy, suit; you should know that!" Lifting the glass, he slammed back the rest of the vodka, grimacing a brief instant before grinning sardonically. "I'm bound, yeah? You got your blood-momma; I got my bastard blood-daddy."

He set the glass down with a thud. A hatred now burned in his eyes, no doubt fueled by the alcohol. His voice had begun to carry a little, though whether his lack of decorum was inspired by the anger or the alcohol was difficult to guess.

"Blood, blood, blood. It's all it's fuckin about. Can't get mine from just anybody, no. I need his. It has to be his.

"I tried once, actually. To get away." The alcohol was definitely setting in, though his volume had lowered with this new train of thought. "The pigs found me a month later, laying on the street, arms and mouth covered in blood, slices on my wrist, and a knife in my hand. And I don't remember a fuckin second of it. Can't even remember the fuck I was goin."

He fell silent, only generating further noise in a tap of the glass on the bar top, asking for more vodka.

Wesley closed his eyes and let himself relax just enough so the smile on his lips appeared to be pained. Marcus. Why’d it have to be the odd one that opened up to him? Why’d it have to ring so many bells in his pretty little head? Wesley had heard this story before but not from the lips of another. The expression was fleeting and he was soon mimicking the action of tapping his glass on the bar top.

“I don’t have a so-called ’blood momma’, as you’ve so amusingly phrased it.” Wesley chuckled. “I used to crave the blood of another though. Rosa. Now I do not.”

He didn’t know why he was telling Marcus this. Mistress Rosa had practically run him out of her home, left him with nothing but unfulfilled desire for her. Her. It had to be her, Marcus was spot on with his own admittance. But, Wesley craved more than just her blood. He craved all of her. Rosa, fucking Rosa. Addiction was just as powerful as the Beast when it wanted to be. When the craving couldn’t be satiated, and all he’d wanted to do was cut his own wrists just to end the affliction she’d cursed him with.

Expecting some mop headed ghoul to do the same was an impossibility.

He paused, frowning. “You will never stop thinking of him. Not ever. That is what it means to be bonded, Marcus. You cannot, and will not escape him.” He tapped his glass against the bar with a tone of finality. His fingers stopped twitching. Finally, he turned, looking Marcus dead in the eye. “Not until one of you is dead.”

The corner of his lips twitched with a smirk “Shave the head, and maybe you can come be my ghoul.” Wesley joked. It was a twisted thing to say to another, knowing the suffering they would feel.

Marcus stared at his glass, watching mutely as it was refilled with that beautiful, deadly liquid. Once you had that first taste, you only wanted more, and the more you had, the more you craved it. And the less it delivered. They say with addictions that you chase that first high, that first rush of success or euphoria. Or forgetfulness. But it never comes back in the same way, to the same degree. The blissful blackout never returns quite the same way. And then you're going back again, chasing more.

"Gotta think about it." Marcus knew the horror accepting such an offer would bring; any ghoul worth their salt did. But that didn't make the offer unappealing, necessarily. He threw back the full glass, a good two fingers' worth, before standing up slowly and unsteadily. "I'll see y'all round."

Without so much as a farewell nod, he shuffled off through the crowd, unnoticed by the other roiling bodies, until he disappeared.

“See ya.” Wesley replied too late. He finished off the last of his bourbon and slapped some cash on the bar for Marcus and himself before slinking off to go clean off a few tables. Hanna didn’t pay him to drink.
 
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Applo

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With a big iron on his hip

Hands on the edge of a steel basin, Isabel stared at her reflection in a grubby mirror. The reflection was captivating in a twisted, car crash sort of way. Even after all the months that had passed, it was hard to believe that what the mirror showed was real. Everything seemed so impossible when the fledgling thought about it. It was the kind of stuff that happened in the trashy books that ended up in the discount bin in grocery stores. Stupid twisted fiction. And yet the evidence of the fact this was actually real stared back at her through one green eye and one revolting scarred lifeless one. It was disgusting. It made her want to cry. It made her want to smash the mirror into a million tiny shards and then keep smashing things until everything in the world was as deformed as her. It wasn’t fair! In the mirror, the grotesque reflection of fledgling’s face twisted into a snarl, a clenched fist appeared next to it poised to strike.

The crashing sound of rushing, gurgling water cut impetuously across the train of thoughts that had been barrelling through Isabel’s mind. Slowly the new blood opened her fist and by the time, the occupant of the cubicle the sound had come from all but fell out of it, she was apparently quite calmly washing her hands, her fangs hidden once more.

In her mind, Isabel could feel the beast pacing, and she knew that any attempt to fix her appearance was doomed. Staring at herself in a mirror was asking for trouble and besides, short of stealing someone's clothes there wasn’t a whole lot she could do to make it look less like she’d been dragged through a hedge. Finding a dark corner of the bar to hide in was a better, safer idea. Shutting the tap off, Isabel closed her eyes, ran her wet hands through her hair to tame the worst of the flyaways before, with careful measured steps, heading back towards the already sweaty pounding atmosphere that lay beyond the ladies room.

It hadn't taken long for the Buzz to get filled to, and quite possibly a bit beyond, capacity. Ravers, partiers, and general nightlife were scattered about, falling into their drug or music-fueled euphoria. Save for the small islands of friend-groups, each individual seemed utterly wrapped up in their own experience.

A pair of shining eyes stared out from the shadows above the red glow of a burning cigarette. Delicate fingers brought it to chapped lips, and the cigarette flashed brighter for a moment before fading again. A second later, a column of smoke jetted out from that mouth, joining the veritable cloud that had accumulated. Two long legs stretched forward, barely breaking into the circle of dancing lights; two cowboy style boots, the brown cowhide faded deeply from age and wear but still well cared for, and black slacks covered the boot tops. On approach, as one's eyes adjusted to the deep shadow, they'd see a white shirt, well pressed, beneath a black sport coat, and atop the figure's head, a white Stetson hat, brim turned up gently on the sides. About the waist was a thick, tanned leather belt, from which hung, invisible for the darkness to all but Kindred eyes, a matching leather holster containing a pearl handled revolver.

As Isabel passed, those shining eyes followed her, and white teeth gleamed, sparkling in the lights in a predatory smile.

"Had a bit too much to drink, miss?"

The voice was gravelly and deep, yet smooth as whiskey.

Pausing mid stride, Isabel pivoted to look at the stranger. Having random people try to chat you up for no reason was one of the dangers of all but living in a club. Why some people assumed they were special enough that other people would welcome having their presence inflicted on them was beyond her. Dressed like he’d just stepped off the set of Dallas and grinning like the cat that got the cream, this chucklehead clearly thought they were something really special. Well, she didn’t. She was going to go see what Wes and Marcus were doing, maybe check in with Hanna and then go back to her apartment and watch TV or something. Chatting with self satisfied strangers featured absolutely nowhere in her plans.

“Errrmm no? Not in mon-” Isabel’s eyes landed on the gun at the stranger’s side. God fucking damned Texas! She’d been here for the better part of a year now and still stuff like this tripped her up. Well Wes or someone else was going to earn their cheque tonight. In theory the fledgling knew that guns were not quite as a big as a problem for her as she was used to. At the same time though, getting shot was still high on Isabel’s list of things to avoid. She’d nearly lost her shit after biting the dust last night and that idea of what a bullet could make her do scared her more than what a bullet could do to her. “I’m fine thanks, have a nice night man.”

"You could help make it better." The legs pulled back, and the man, for man it was, leaned forward. His face was more visible now: lean and chiseled, with years of a hard life lining it. The two shining eyes had turned hard now, and he propped himself up, elbows on his knees. The cigarette remained in the corner of his mouth, still glowing dully.

As if realizing the subtext his statement might have carried, given the context, he raised a hand.

"Don't mean like that, miss. I'm Ranger Bill Travers. Some folks have turned up missing in the area, and you were seen in the company of one of them last night." Slowly, he retrieved a Polaroid from his breast pocket and showed it to Isabel. The small form of Anna, the Malkavian present at the meeting with Prince Washburn, was evident, if cast in shadow, and the man held it a moment before returning it to its location. The movement exposed briefly a small metal badge on his chest: a star encircled. "Houston Police Department has been working a string of missing persons cases, and they've asked us to help out. I, and this girl's family, would appreciate any help you could give us."

There was a thud in Isabel’s chest as the picture of the Malkavian she had met just last night disappeared back into the Travers’ pocket; an actual thud. The thin-blood felt it like someone had just punched her. A second one followed, then a weaker third before stillness took over once more and Isabel realised that she was staring slightly open mouthed at the ranger.

“Umm, I dunno that I can umm help much.” As her mind scrambled to work out what to say, the fingers on Isabel’s right hand started to fidget with the end of her plait. Obviously the truth wasn’t an option. That would end up with both her, this ranger and maybe Hanna dead. Dead dead. At the same time what lie could she tell about why she’d been seen with a crazy woman maybe hours before they’d apparently gone missing? Hell how could she even explain being seen with the lunatic at al- Lunatic. In the depths of Isabel’s mind, an idea sprouted. “I only met her last night. You sure she’s missing? I don’t mean to be nasty about her, but she seemed kinda err a bit doozy bats, you know what I mean.”

Ranger Travers stared unblinking at her face as she gave her reply. His face was stone, and he betrayed no emotion.

"She's the latest in a string of disappearances, unfortunately," he continued professionally, apparently not giving her explanation much if any consideration. Carefully, he withdrew the cigarette from his mouth and placed it on the ashtray nearby. From another pocket, Travers pulled out a business card. "City-wide problem, so any help would be appreciated. I understand if maybe something has slipped your mind, so if you remember later, just give me a call."

He presented the card to her. Well, if simply made, the card was of a heavy paper, with his name, department, phone number, and address printed clearly. Standing, he nodded his head and touched his hat respectfully.

"Be careful out there, ma'am."

Travers turned to go.

“Yeah you too sir.” Turning the calling card over Isabel stared at the neat, oh so official text printed on it before making a show of putting it safely in her pocket and smiling her best teacher’s pet smile. Appearing helpful had nearly always worked for her before. “I’ll call if I remember anything useful. Erm, if you need me, this is probably the best place to try. I’m here most nights. If I’m not, the staff will probably know where I am. Hope you find her. She seemed nice. Crazy but nice.”

Once the Ranger was gone, Isabel sat down in the seat he had been occupying and very deliberately counted to one hundred before standing up again. She needed to go find Hanna. If nothing else she needed to know that a second cowboy with a badge and a gun might be on their case.

Fucking Texas!​

A collaboration with @Red Thunder
 

Kuno

Django Jane
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Amélie


Refined taste met primal savagery at the door. It took a moment for Amélie to gather her bearings, none of which were as offput as by the varied skulls dotting the blackened walls. Her eyes drank in the sight of Sigurd posted before a large fire. The urge to shove the man into it was immediate, and Amélie quickly drew her attention away, allowing herself to be distracted by the stone table in the center of the chamber.

There was a similar fixture in the basement of her New York home. A large cauldron, to be precise, that sat, not on a raised platform, but in a hallowed space in the ground. Of course, she hadn’t used the thing in years. The calls for trickery and spells had waned in her time living in Texas. Her days as an avid acolyte had molded into something far less...restricting. If you could call it that.

Amélie did not answer Sigurd right away. The fire crackled, and the woman drew closer, ultimately stopping at the rune-covered platform in the center. She glanced up at Sigurd, shrugging.

“It’s sufficient.”

There was a pause, as if she meant to elaborate on such a cryptic statement. But instead the woman fell into silence as she dipped her pinky delicately in the water basin. Lukewarm. Either from the room’s natural temperature or the throes of past use. She wouldn’t know unless she asked. Flicking the water off her finger, Amélie took a few hard steps towards the Regent, her spine straightening of its own accord.

“Listen. That bit of ‘song and dance’ with your men was…”

Careful now. Amélie pursed her lips a bit, mulling over the wording.

“...A lot,” She finally went with. “If you had just sent word that you needed to see me, I would have made myself available. This is our way, no?”

Behind Sigurd, the flames danced unhindered, and Amélie’s focus shifted to it.

“Why am I here, Sigurd?”

 

Doctor Jax

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Hanna Wojciek


The owner of the Buzz quickly made for the upstairs office, adjoined to her private living space, after being satisfied that her employee was unlikely to breathe a word of what he saw. From below, she could hear the gentle thump of rave music, the techno scene getting its time to shine just this once. She didn't always have this kind of lightshow here, but a lot of the time, she found it was necessary - keep things fresh, keep things lively. She had made the mistake early in the Buzz's ownership to only invite those whose music spoke to her 70s sensibilities, the rejected and the folksy, but over time she was coming to find that a Kindred had a bad habit of getting stuck in a rut where their creativity was involved, and 'stepping out of your comfort zone' was a real way to find things that made you feel.... alive.

Connected. Plugged in.

She lit a cigarette, curls of smoke leaving her lips as she wrote out a note on her desk. It was all too easy for Kindred to detach, to dissolve, to distract from the changing times around them, the longer that they were alive, the more people died, the more things changed. It was a part of human nature, and funnily enough it crossed right over into the world of vampires: the fear of things dying out and snuffing down to an ember, a shade of what it once was, an inability to let go of the past. Well, Hanna was determined not to be one of those. She wanted to be on that bleeding, open, wounded edge, be awake that same way she had been almost thirty years ago when she gave up body and soul. That meant moving with the times. That meant changing.

The note lay on the desk, simple, in an surprisingly elegant hand: Gone to Astro Stadium. Don't burn the place down. I'll be back before 6 AM. Text if you need me. -- Hanna

She slung on a leather bag, painted in bright orange, blue, yellow, white, containing a few necessary items: cellular phone, keys, wallet, Mace, a pack of smokes, a loaded Taurus .357 Magnum snub-nosed revolver, some chapstick. Satisfied she had everything she needed, the diminutive Kindred walked down the stairs into a hallway opening into the Buzz. Her eyes immediately scanned the area, gold-brown eyes examining the place for anything out of the ordinary, and of course they alighted on a man tipping his cowboy hat to Izzy, walking away towards the exit. On his hip he wore a gun, the sway of his walk speaking to confidence, authority. Her expression was carefully neutral.

MURDER THAT F*CKER.

She lit another cigarette, the nicotine sliding off her synapses as easily as a raindrop down a windshield. The ritual of it didn't do much to calm her down, the urge to put a bullet between the Ranger's eyes as heavy as the need to sink teeth into an open neck. Her hand twitched toward her bag, but the Buzz's cacophony was a potent reminder of what she could lose to sating her worst impulses. The Anarch finally felt composed enough to begin walking through the crowds in the Buzz, waving lazily to regulars and friends alike with a cigarette between her fingers.

She finally reached Izzy, slinging an arm around her neck, leading her to a quieter corner with a table and chairs. Idly, Hanna took the lit cigarette and pressed it into the back of her own hand, putting it out before tossing it into a tray with little expression.

"So, like, that was the Fuzz, right? Cowboy Kid who just walked out. Didn't seem like a buddy of ours anyways. What was he out here fishin' for?" Hanna asked. It was no secret that Hanna had a... severe distaste for law enforcement. "He leave, like, a card or somethin'?"

The mark remained, open and angry. Ash stuck to the edges of the burn. Her expression was languid, at odds, her eyes watching the mass of moving bodies in the middle of the floor.

@Red Thunder //mentioned
@Applo// Current Company
 

Applo

Beautiful like a Forest Fire
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“Err, yeah he did.” Reaching into a pocket, Isabel retrieved the ranger’s card and slid it over the table to Hanna. The fingers of her free hand started to twist and wind their way through purple hair. “He’s a Texas Ranger, like in that dumbass TV show. Said that a load of people had gone missing lately and Anna from last night was the most recent and that I had been seen with her last night. He had a picture of her and everything. I didn’t say nothing, just that Anna was a few grinders short of a picnic ya know, cos, well she is. Tried to make him think she just wandered off somewhere.”

The older Kindred drummed her fingers against the table as she considered that fact. Asking about Anna… who’d gone missing. The Malkavian had been something of an outlier, a strange one even by Kindred standards. It wasn’t really that surprising that she had abruptly disappeared.

“Not bad, squirt,” Hanna stated, patting her on the shoulder. “No doubt, we’re gonna have more like him walking around here at some point. He say how he connected us and Anna?”

“Just that I’d been seen with her…” For a moment it was almost possible to see the cogs of the fledglings' mind grinding. “which means he musta seen us at the… ya know last night and… followed us back here?”

Hanna seemed pensive, eyes unreadable as she watched the masses of writhing bodies on the floor. They had showed up at the docks at - what - four in the morning? Late, too late for anyone who wasn’t snooping around, unlikely to be seen by just any passersby. Someone had tipped off this Ranger, in a deliberate fashion.

“Possible,” Hanna mused, flexing her burnt hand. “And also possible we just got unlucky. Let me know if that Ranger shows back up. Our story’ll be close to the truth - we were out and on a late night walk, and we ran into her at the docks, because the ocean’s pretty, or some beeswax. Stopped to chat, realized she was battier than a cave in New Mexico, deciding to hike it. Not really a lie, so it’ll be easy to remember.”

“Yeah, went for a walk, that sounds… yeah... a walk.” A thought that had been gently bubbling beneath the surface of Isabel’s mind chose this moment to erupt. “What do you think happened to her? I know she isn’t all there but she didn’t seem that off her rocker that she would just wander off into the sunset. The cop said her family would appreciate any help we could give in finding her, so she can’t just vanish all the time or why would they get the cops in? What if she found something out about that junk and someone...”

A solitary finger slid across Isabel’s throat.

The other Kindred shrugged her shoulders at that.

“The Malkavians are known for kind of… going where the wind takes them. It’s part of their curse, knowing things the rest of us just don’t. Maybe she saw something she shouldn’t have, and she bounced town,” Hanna stated. Her eyebrows raised. “Don’t think about it too hard. Now-- I think I’m gonna head out. I got a date.”

The words were sardonic, and with that, she pushed away from the table, patting the girl on the shoulder and leaving her to manage on her own.​

A Collaboration with @Doctor Jax
 

Kuno

Django Jane
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Sigurd's Mirror



The bonfire throbbed, rising and receding in intensity slowly. Flare. Dull. Pause. Flare. Dull. Pause. It crackled in the same rhythm, spraying a tide of red about the room with every twisted heartbeat. The fire lived, shining brightly, but it was a false life, neither consuming fuel nor heating its surroundings. What sustained it was unclear, but it was sustained, and by it, the room's occupants could see.

"I see your frustration," Sigurd sighed, face in shadow from the backlight but tone just as amenable as before. "You wish things above board, to speak honestly and without duplicity. At least, thus it seems to me.

"Our- kind cannot abide such forthrightness; you should know this by now." With apparently a significant degree of consideration, as if either he wished to not provoke a threat, or perhaps as if he didn't want to alert his prey, he moved to her right, circling her at some small distance, before shifting direction and approaching the bowl of water upon the stone table. "As Kindred, our society has determined that manipulation and conspiracy is the manner of interaction best suited. Perhaps it is: should we be forthright with the kine, we should be ended immediately.

"Suǒyǒu zhànzhēng dōu shì jīyú qīpiàn. Sun Tzu. The Art of War. 'All warfare is based on deception.'"

Falling silent, he removed a black bottle from his pocket, unstoppered it, and loosed a single drop of red into the clear water. There was but one ripple, then the water fell still. Replacing the bottle, he replaced a hand into one pants pocket while gesturing to Amélie with the other.

"Come. I will show you why."

It was difficult to conceal. The trepidation that lied in her bright eyes, the small, sardonic twist of her lips not enough to hide such a thing. She meant to cross her arms, but it came off as if she was hugging herself instead.

At length, Amélie came to the stone table, though she stayed opposite Sigurd.

The bowl had begun to glow, to shimmer gently with a weak gray light. The drop of red was gone; in its place were creeping tendrils that crawled across the water's surface before diluting and mixing. The blood, before bright and vibrant, drew dark, almost seeming to infect the rest of the liquid, which itself darkened to match. Finally, the red began to clear, showing within the transparent water an ornate sitting room. The view was unfortunately not wide. All that could be seen clearly were a Victorian styled loveseat, covered in dark felt and richly stained wood, and a high-backed armchair, both framed by heavy green curtains.

In front of the armchair, stood Prince Washburn. He had his hands clasped behind him, as if awaiting something. He'd traded his relaxed, grungy look of the previous night for a slightly more formal one: his jeans were now a dark blue, lacking any of his characteristic rips, and a white silk shirt was beneath a blood red coat. But he still wore his mullet.

Suddenly, he turned his head, eyes raising and mouth opening in greeting, though no sound could be heard. A woman in black appeared in view. Like a polluted waterfall, black hair cascaded across her shoulders, throwing her ivory skin into stark relief. Washburn bowed his head, and she smiled in return.

Sigurd had watched Amélie the entire time. His eyes were hard and studious.

"This. This is unconscionable. This is why I brought you here under the pretext." He took a deep breath, a subconscious reflex from a life ages past. "The Prince is in bed with the enemy, and the Tremere must know why."

“Merde.”

Amélie nearly bit through her lip. The show of deference between Washburn and the woman stayed reflected off the water’s surface, dancing, shining, a shimmering token of the Prince’s treachery. By means of it, she felt a cold sense of satisfaction. Something had always felt off about the man’s initial request. True, Amélie did have a habit of bucking against the established order irregardless, but the Prince’s so-called “mission” had left her feeling more uneasy than not.

To be even more honest, she was merely happy to have legitimate reason for disliking the man. Objecting with whatever crime Washburn had wrought on his hair was hardly grounds for insubordination.

The woman’s head snapped up to meet Sigurd’s eyes.

“What am I to do with this?”

The vision faded from the water, the Camarillan Prince lifting a cigarette pack from his jacket pocket and offering it to the woman as it did. The Tremere Regent still watched his guest, as still and as emotionless as a gargoyle.

"I cannot say. I fear for the integrity of the Camarilla, if its leader is willing to degrade himself with those savages. Yet we just play the political game." Translucent now, the water once more grew still. "Perhaps it would be worth finding out why they meet at all."

"If I can." A long, black fingernail came to trace one of the runes atop the stone table, and Amélie smiled thinly. "As you've said. Our kind is not accustomed to forthrightness."

Though the image of the strange woman had since ebbed away, she gestured down towards the basin.

"Who is she?"

Sigurd smirked, cheeks twisting unnaturally and painfully, as if doing so cost him effort. His eyes bored into hers, unflinching.

"Our kind is not accustomed to forthrightness, as you remind me. Perhaps the Prince, for whom you now work, could answer you." The smile turned sardonic before he turned away. "Yet, perhaps it is better, though the information could kill you. That is the Sabbat Bishop Liviana, and you would do well to avoid her attention. She is dangerous."

He shifted away from the stone table, measured steps leading to one of the innumerable bookcases against the wall. Delicately, he removed a tome and opened it. Fingers grasped something within, extracting it from a hidden compartment within, and he presented it to Amélie. The look of bemusement had faded, and now Sigurd looked grim.

"I do not know what task the Prince has set you on, nor do I care to. Knowledge can be lethal. But I do sense that it could set the course of the city for decades to come. Thus, do I aid you." In his hand was a chain necklace of small silver links from which hung a charm made of bone. It was carved in the shape of a stylized moon: crescent in shape, with an eye carved of pearl hanging from the top arm of the moon. "Wear this, and you shall stay grounded in your mind. Disregard it at your peril."

"My, how cryptic. I'll keep those words close to my heart."

With as much grace as she could muster, Amélie slipped the necklace from Sigurd’s hand into her palm, eyeing the intricate design with muted interest. Of course, she wanted to inquire more about it - but to what end? The question would inevitably be met with an evasive counter. She was starting to understand why her fellow Tremeres hardly bothered with the man.

Sweeping her hair off her neck, she at once cinched the necklace about her neck. Better there than in her pocket; it would soon be forgotten there, and Amélie would rather not have a reason to return anytime soon. Finally, her eyes returned to meet Sigurd’s gaze. Little warmth lied within them.

"There. All done." She gave a slight toss of her head, her hair settling once more about her neck. "Now then. Was there anything else that needed discussion?"

Sigurd didn't answer right away. He blinked twice, then shook his head.

"No." Carefully closing the false book, Sigurd replaced it before facing Amélie again. His hands moved behind him, where they clasped in relaxed formality. "Should you have need of me or my resources, please reach out, for I aim to support the lower levels of the Pyramid, that the upper might find a stable foundation."

He nodded to the door, face rigid and emotionless.

"You shall find a car outside to take you wherever you may please. No fear; your former companions are absent."

It took remarkable force to stop the biting comment on her tongue. A sarcastic curve to her lips, Amélie settled for a stiff nod instead.

"Thank you for your hospitality."

The disingenuity of her words were plain to see. Not that she cared - she'd done what was socially acceptable, and on that note, she left without another glance, as was her custom. Hospitality, indeed. All he'd left her with was more work to be done.

Another request. Another headache. So went the unending night and it's mysteries…

The walk back was- uneventful. No long hallway, no unending trek. Just a step outside the Regent's "office", a short trip down a disturbingly normal foyer, and out the front door.

It was crucial that she began to start getting answers, moreso for her own sanity than anything else. Outside, at the driver's inquiry, she told him where she wanted to go, and off they went, the regal build of the Chantry passing away into the background. Amélie settled into her seat, her fingers coming to tap impatiently against her knee.

It was time for a social call.

 

Red Thunder

A Warrior in a Garden
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tumblr_mtp705kqC71rm7h2fo1_400.jpg

October 14, 1999
9:00pm


∆∆∆
the Maximum Buzz
@Lillian Gray @Kuno @Applo


The last hour and a half had passed as time normally does in such a place of enraptured forgetfulness. The crowd ebbed and flowed, heaving forward and back, moving but remaining, alive but stagnant. Few if any had left the building; the night was just getting started, and what dude or chick knowing the scene would want to leave it?

"I said: do you got the shit, man!?"

The music was deafening, designed to engross you in the moment, to give you an escape from the pressures and weights of the world, to block it out entirely. Which made it an ideal place for agreements of less than legal nature. He stood in the midst of the crowd, swaying and shifting, his mind very obviously not on the euphoria generally experienced. Buttoned shirt opened, his chest didn't glisten with the usual sheen of sweat that was common on a dancer's skin. Instead, his eyes shifted about, watching the crowd with some heightened level of paranoia.

His dance partner, such as he was, looked significantly more at ease within the masses. His coat, though of a highly quality, was patchy, full of holes and burn marks and stains, and his face had a few ugly sores that spoke of bad hygiene. He grinned up at his partner, exposing yellow, rotting teeth. From a coat pocket, he pulled out a dime bag, a small Ziploc style container, and pressed it into the taller man's hand. The taller man eyed it, nervous. A black substance filled it, a texture of something between a powder and a crystal, and he shoved it into his own pocket rapidly. His supplier grinned more deeply.

"Ya know tha drill?"

"Course I do! What makes you think I don't?" The buyer shot the other man a withering glare before pressing a few bills of cash into his hand. "I'll leave first; follow me, and you're dead."

The supplier didn't respond. Instead, he remained where he was, shifting and twisting to the sea of melody that filled the air. The buyer turned on his heel and pushed his way through the crowd, making slow but steady progress to the entrance.

The patrons making use of the bar or the limited menu had been regular and predictably distant. You didn't come to a club to flirt or make small talk with the staff. Even had they wanted, more than likely, they'd have been too busy to give much more of a reply than yeah or fuck you. Wesley had, through some unfortunate series of events, found himself the focus of an older woman. Her hair was dyed a fading pink, slow revealing a light gray beneath it. The smile she wore looked painful, like it was an unusual expression for her to make. Wrinkles pulled at her face, and she sagged in all the worst places. The low cut blouse she wore was not flattering.

"And I said, 'Sumbitch! I know what you said!'" Her voice croaked, likely from a lifetime of cigarettes, such as she now pulled a deep drag from. Bertha, she had called herself, though she stressed that she preferred 'Bertie'. She'd been rambling about her 4th ex-husband. "Anyway, Herb wasn't shit. Not a hunk of man, like I'm getting served now."

She wiggled her eyebrows at Wesley in a bad attempt at flirtation.

Nearby, the Buzz's phone rang.


∆∆∆
the Astros Stadium
@Doctor Jax

The air was dead. It wasn't so much that the air was still, though it was: neither leaf in tree nor newspaper on the street nor stand of hair even moved from any touch of wind or breeze. It wasn't so much that the air was quiet, though it certainly was: the parking lots were utterly empty, devoid of passers-by or occupants of any kind, and even the encircling streets and avenues were absent any vehicular traffic, though it was only two hours past sundown. No, the air was dead, like a DMV waiting room is dead. There was a dread tension that lingered, seeping into everything. It was anticipation of something anyone present knew was inevitable, but absolutely no one wanted to be involved with.

The stadium itself loomed above its surroundings like an enormous gravestone. Iron gates all about the building were locked tightly against vandals and criminals, and not a single light illuminated the dead air about it.

Yet, Hanna was not unseen. A pair of eyes, as dead as she, stared out at her from the darkness. They watched her, making note of her actions and intentions, for later report.

Or, possibly, for immediate invitation within.

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Given the way your final posts left off, Kuno and Applo, I left it open as to how your characters would interact with the Buzz. Feel free to insert them however you'd like!
 

Lillian Gray

Craft Master
LURKER MEMBER
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per week
  2. One post per week
Writing Levels
  1. Give-No-Fucks
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Genres
Fantasy, Romance, Medieval, Action, Magic, Sci-fi
Mentions and Suggestions:
@Doctor Jax
@Red Thunder
Wesley 'Wes' James Moore
Please stop talking.

Wesley wanted to will the words into existence. Behind gritted teeth, he refrained, because he knew the minute he parted his lips nothing but dripping sarcasm and a nasty sneer would come out of it. Where would he start? Her roots were a good spot. He could see them a mile away in contrast to the gaudy pink color she'd chosen even in the dim of the bar. She smelled like an ashtray and he didn't even want to know what her teeth looked like. Likely just as rotten as her breath.

Just please, stop fucking talking.

He smiled politely, which likely wasn't helping his situation in the slightest. Wesley was no fool, he knew the effect he had on women. Especially drunken hags who found it suitable to hang out at a blood bar. Did she know the danger she was in? One more croak from her throat and he'd consider snapping it in half just to save himself from the stench.

Just the movement of her eyebrows made him want to puke up his last drink.

One more word, just one more word, I dare you...

Nearby the phone rang. Wesley didn't even try to hide the enthusiasm he felt going for the device. His eyes flitted to the ceiling and he answered in a cheery voice. "Maximum Buzz, beautiful Wesley at your service."
 
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Red Thunder

A Warrior in a Garden
Original poster
FOLKLORE MEMBER
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per week
  2. One post per week
  3. Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Prestige
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Primarily Prefer Male
Genres
Fantasy, SciFi, Modern, Magical
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The Phone Call
a collab with @Lillian Gray

"Maximum Buzz, beautiful Wesley at your service."

"Wesley? Who the hell is Wesley?" A thick New York accent cut through the phone line, bashing its way out of the phone speaker with all the elegance of a charging bull. It was otherwise a pleasant voice, feminine and assertive and a bit mature, but the abrasive manner in which it was used was off-putting, to say the least. "Nah, I didn't call for no Wesley. Put Isabel on."

From one sour woman to the next. Wesley thought, his polite smile deftly hiding his irritable inner monologue. Hanna would throttle him if she found out he used his Presence to get rid of either of them. Business was still business, after all, and that didn’t excuse antisocial behaviors.

He glanced over and saw Isabel sitting in a booth looking somewhat pensive.

“My deepest apologies, miss…?” He left it open as an invitation for the woman to introduce herself, should she choose. “It appears our sweet Isabel is currently engaged with a customer. Is there anything I might be able to assist you with in the meantime?” Wesley smiled, his lie sounded like honey through the receiver. He was laying it on thick on the off chance he could stay on the phone and avoid Bertie the smoker.

There was a long and very irritated grunt from the other end, followed by dead air. It was almost like the line had been disconnected, save that there was no telltale 'click'. Finally, the vice some again.

"Fine. Tell her Lizzie called, yeah? She was asking about some gawd-awful green car, and-" Liz paused, and muffled voices came over the line. They weren't hostile or malicious, but they were definitely tense and irritated. Liz's thick accent cut back through, loud and clear, as if she didn't much care that Wesley was privy to this new conversation. "Then you tell him he can kiss my ass! I can't make the damn yellows go faster than they do, yeah? All I do is answer the fukkin phone!

"Ugh. So, anyway," she muttered, the shout now gone from her tone. "Izzy was asking if there'd be any sign of it. Was calling back to let her know that one of my drivers saw a Viper matching her description, about an hour ago. Not too many of them like that, so I'm bettin it's hers. Says it went into a warehouse off Wallisville Rd and McCarty St.

"Pass that along, yeah?"

Wesley’s brows knit together. Had Isabel tried to hunt down his car for him? He glanced sidelong at her from across the bar with a genuine smile, a bit of a rarity from someone like Wesley who was so used to putting on his mask every night. Guess he owed the new blood a favor somewhere down the line. He stood and turned his back to the bar so no one would interrupt him.

“Well, Miss Lizzie, that just so happens to be my Viper. Kind of her to look into its disappearance.” He said graciously. Wesley looked around for a clock. What time was it? “I appreciate you calling. If you’d like, I can try to convince Isabel to come over and chat, if you really need?”

"Nah; you can pass that along. Just tell her to pay me a visit sometime; ain't seen her in a hot second." There was an uncertain pause. "You- yah want me to call Blue out there?"

“Ah, no. I think I can handle this myself. I will tell Miss Isabel to come visit, though.” Wesley replied sincerely. “Thank you for calling, have a lovely evening, Miss Lizzie.”

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