CLOSED SIGNUPS Vampire: the Masquerade - Visions

Applo

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Whispers in the Night

Ravnos

“What?”

Pulling her eyes away from the blurred scene, Isabel looked over to the french kindred in the driver's seat. Amélie was staring straight ahead, seemingly not paying her passenger any mind. Mismatched eyes flicked to the radio instead. For a minute or so, the new blood’s full attention was focused on the music coming from the speaker by the thin-blood’s thigh but not once did the familiar yet alien word reach her ears.

What did it even mean anyway? One moment Isabel’s mind had been drifting dangerously back in time to the last time she had been in a car the night before. The next, this strange word seemed to be all she could think about. It filled her mind. Pulled at her. Cleared all other thoughts as thoroughly as Amélie seemed to clear her car of dirt. But why? Even if she had known what the word meant, why had it burrowed its way into her head; it wasn’t like it was her name.

Rubbing her eyes, Isabel tried to replace the errant thought with another more intentional one.

“How did your date go earlier?”

“Fine. He was a good boy.”

The older vampire’s reply was lacking, as always, in both details and context. But she didn’t care. She hadn’t just purged the man’s presence from her car; she’d expelled him entirely from her mind and thoughts.

Just like she’d expelled him right onto the pavement. Generous, no?

“You are thinking of something? Daydreaming?” Isabel’s first inquiry hadn’t gone unnoticed, and Amélie tactfully switched the conversation topic. “Are you nervous, Isabel?”

“Errm…”

The question took the thin-blood by surprise, and she wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She didn’t want to admit to any nerves, lest the french kindred pulled the black Toyota over to the side of the road and told her to walk home. At the same time though, Isabel didn’t want to lie. Amélie was at least as perceptive as Hanna and both always seemed to know when they were not being told the truth. It was time for an unsatisfactory compromise.

“A little I guess. Being around other pe- urm… kine, it makes me edgy. I’m scared that I might lose control and ya know.”

Isabel’s lipped parted and her fangs were exposed for a few seconds before they were hidden away once more and their owner twisted in her seat so she was half slumped against the car door.

“It’s not so bad today cos I urm, yeah I’m not so hungry today. Easier to keep myself together than most of the time.”

It stuck the purple haired kindred at this moment that she wasn’t exactly selling herself. It was time to change the subject before Amélie reached for the blinkers.

“I was just watching the street lights go by and I thought I heard you say something but it must have been the radio I guess.”

"Hm. Well."

Amélie rapped her nails against the steering wheel. Oddly enough, she was smiling. This time it seemed genuine, and for good reason; youthfulness in its best moments always amused her.

"You are still young. Just a baby, really. More time under Hanna’s tutelage will make you a fine enough Kindred...one more in control, so to speak," The older woman mused, her eyes flickering briefly over to Isabel. "You are lucky, no? Most Sires are not so patient. Merde. I can only hope to show you something of value on our night out."

“I’m not sure my mom would say learning how to score drugs is valuable.”

In the pulsing street light, Isabel grinned before settling back into her seat so she was facing straight forwards again.

“I guess I am pretty lucky, yeah. Hanna is so cool about everything when she owes me nothing. Everyone else at the Buzz, Wes, Omar, they are great too. You as well. Thanks again for the clothes last night.”

The grin disappeared and was replaced with a look that much sourer.

“I just wish I could hurry up and get to the place where I don’t need everyone to babys-”

Childer of Ravnos

This time, the strange words made Isabel sit bolt upright, her hand reaching for the stereo dial to crank up the volume. It took ten full seconds of deafening music before the new blood relented to turn down the music and relax back into her seat once again.

“It would be nice to get to the point where I don’t hear voices in my head too.”

"Voices in your head? Child, is this your imaginary friend speaking?"

Amélie Dupuis could never quite be civil for too long. Every word oozed with condescension, and she threw a pointedly matronizing look at her young companion.

"What exactly are you hearing? It's too early in your journey for a touch of madness."

Unless the girl was unknowingly Malkavian. An unfortunate scenario, to be sure. But luckily not for her to deal with.

“I think it’s just like the beast ya know... like it is telling me it is ravenous even though it was just last night that I… Yeah.”

For the first time since getting in Amélie’s car, Isabel regretted doing so. There was a sudden desire welling up from deep within her to be back at the Club. That was where she belonged. Not going out trying to score drugs or some other ridiculous nonsense like that. Maximum Buzz was where she was meant to be.

“Are we nearly there?”

The question was the purple haired kindred attempt to steel herself against the tide of doubt rising against the ramparts of her mind. It didn’t really help.

“I’ve never really seen much of Houston. When I moved here I spent most of my time at home or my job. Since I got bit, it’s been home and Hanna’s place instead.”

"Well, you've probably never seen this side of the city," Amélie stated bluntly.

And truth be told, rarely did she. The decay of the city's dregs was bleeding into their surroundings. Poverty etched itself into the sides of the tiny homes and littered streets, sallowed bricks and debris laying the neighborhood awash in its inferiority. It wasn't a sight that the Tremere particularly cared to see.

Amélie didn't respond to whether or not they were nearly there. Because the answer came naught but a few moments later.

It was a standard bus station. Not terribly large; the short in-roads where busses would come in and out onto the main street numbered three, and skinny fingers of pavement separated the paths. As she slowed to a stop by the curb just off the entry, the vampire watched as a lone bus pulled into its slot, and the passengers spilled onto the concrete, the putrid city lamps washing them of life.

They all looked like Tony. Poor. Decrepit. Haggard. These were the forgotten of the city. Viable prey for the underworld.

The world became abruptly silently as she killed the engine. Bright eyes fixed on the figures milling about ahead.

"Come, Isabel," The Tremere cooed softly, like a siren's song. "Let us see where our quarry strikes."

For where the dealers struck, so, too, would they.​

A collaboration with Kuno
 

Doctor Jax

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Hanna Wojciek

The "bad part of town" had always been one of her favorite places to be.

That might be the reason why she wasn't exactly anxious near the Ironworks. When she'd first been welcomed into the fold, the waifish vampire had been something of a vagabond with her sire, a Polish man with a pathological distaste for the familiar and the urbane. One of the 'original' Brujah, he had strong opinions, and eventually, it became clear that Hanna did too. It didn't take her long to break from him, the world having changed quite a bit by the time she left him.

In that time, she went from a pack animal to a loner. And when she first came to Houston, the Ironworks and its domains had been her first real hide-out as she strummed music at night, made connections, planned how she was going to transition from traveling musician to one of the landed people. After all, eventually you had to put down roots somewhere. Luckily, she had made friends here well before her split from Stefan.

And so as she walked through the industrial park, leaving her car parked a good distance away, she had no fear. It almost felt like coming back to your hometown after a long time away. It was only every so often that she checked in on the vagrants-- and maybe offered them a better deal in exchange for the place's hard concrete and harsh tin, for seemingly ceaseless dope and endless dreams on a nice bed under the Max.

"Hey, Joey, how's it going?" Hanna asked as she made her way into the Relaxation Room, a familiar haunt for her. Joey - a black man clearly blind by his milky eyes - grunted something unintelligible to her, and she nodded her head.

"Right on. Well, good seein' ya, man."

She journeyed further into the depths, place lit with whatever trash fires people had bothered to cobble together. Fall had bite to it, and while Hanna didn't feel it, she'd put on a jacket anyways to blend in with the crowd.

Now it was just finding someone who very much didn't blend in. Someone looking to obscure themselves from prying eyes. A cooler in her grasp brought some wandering eyes - but nothing for them. No, this was a gift. Well, a gift and a pact.

You're gonna owe me, Nos.

@Radiojelly
 

Radio Jelly

Galactic Gadabout
Salvatore
October 15th, 1999
Ironco Heavy Industries Warehouse

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Sometimes, it was hard to see the stars.

From where Salvatore stood, it felt especially difficult. Houston was too big. Too bright. It’s people didn’t care: they never bothered to look up. Still, it occurred to him that there was a time when he could’ve seen it all clearly from the exact spot where he stood, and--as strange as it was to think it--Salvatore had been alive back then too. For all he knew, perhaps Sal had stood in this precise spot, in that faraway time. Perhaps he had passed through this place, surrounded by nothing but the stillness of the dark, and an unfettered wilderness of marsh and grassland.

It was pointless conjecture, but given everything he’d lost last night, Sal felt he’d earned a little nostalgia. As Salvatore took in the depressing sight of the Ironco warehouse complex, he hoped with all his being he’d still be alive to see this vestige of Houston’s history returned to the earth. The Nosferatu grimaced and grumbled for as long as he felt he could, and then spat a mouthful of grit and rat fur onto the tarmac. It was time to go. Salvatore grasped the bottom of the chain link fence with his one good hand, and wrenched it upward with a little too much force: the beast inside him could smell the multitude of bodies inside, and in moments he could feel that nest of vipers let loose on his insides--their insidious desires like a venom to his conscious.

Still, you didn’t make it as long as Salvatore had without a firm hand. The Nosferatu had tried to hunt in the sewers again on his way over, but he was less lucky than before; he’d managed a rodent or two, but it was hardly enough to compose himself, let alone power any kind of Discipline. Thankfully, Hanna knew her stuff. Ironco was a junkie hangout, and the kind of place Salvatore’s people had reason to pass through from time to time. One could buy more than drugs if they knew how to find the right informants, and not to mention it was a pretty safe place to feed for Kindred looking for a quick rush.

Salvatore stalked the boundaries of the scene; as long as he stayed out of the firelight, he knew he wouldn’t be too closely scrutinized in the yard outside the warehouse. The problem would be inside. There were simply too many eyes, and even if those eyes were dilated and blurry with the kick of the month, someone was bound to realize they were looking at a zombie. Better, then, to find another way. Salvatore moved quickly around the side of the building, further from the burning barrels and huddled vagrants to somewhere he believed he might find an entryway. Hanna was sure to come in the front--she was Brujah afterall, and Kindred who looked human always were too conspicuous in their movement. Certainly, that meant Salvatore needed a good vantage point. Perhaps he could find an exposed air vent? Or, maybe he ought to climb to the ceiling and signal on her approach? What if he made it through one of the shattered windows just high enough to reach the cross beams? Could he-

A voice ripped through Salvatore’s quiet contemplation, instantly riling the creature within him to an unbearable frenzy.

“Hey, you’re’n not s’posed to be back ‘ere.”

If Sal still breathed, he would’ve exhaled. It sounded human enough, and it came from behind him. The Nosferatu froze in place, his skin electric with a mounting anticipation. While every other part of him felt wired, Salvatore’s fangs seemed to descend at a glacial pace, the promise of an easy kill beginning to dawn on the beast within. Salvatore cleared his throat, and tried desperately to keep his voice level despite how taught the muscles in his throat felt.

“Oh?” Sal croaked, “Why’s that, you reckon?”

From behind him, Salvatore could hear a rustling of nylon and polyester, and the telltale zip of a sleeping bag coming undone. Sal shouldn’t have missed him--couldn’t have missed him. Certainly not at a time like this, anyway. Unfortunately, that left only one explanation. The Nosferatu’s expression turned grim, and the Beast within him hissed with insidious satisfaction.

Salvatore hadn’t missed the sleeping bag, but he was losing his grip enough for The Beast to get in the way. Long enough to let it steer him this way. The cowboy felt the urge to spit again, but his throat felt sandpaper-dry now.

“‘Cause I.. Cause I s-sleep ‘ere.” The Kine behind Salvatore paused a moment before erupting into a coughing fit. After a second or two, Sal could hear the drifter pulling the bag more tightly around his body. “T-this’s my spot. Don’t’ve space fer visitors. Go aw-”

The stranger stopped, tried to clear his throat, and once again began to hack and heave from wherever he lay. Sal could hear the frailty on his person, could feel the weakness in his bones. It would be easy. One, Beast-assisted lunge for the man’s neck, and Salvatore could have him drained before the minute was out.

No Masquerade risk. No witnesses. Just a belly full of Vitae, and enough satisfaction to be free of the searing hunger inside of him. Hell, maybe he’d even get a hit of whatever was sending the poor fellow to an early grave. It almost felt like a fantasy, and yet despite how excruciating the pain inside him was, and as much as an advantage as he’d have going into this meeting on a full stomach, he didn’t move.

It felt stupid in the face of overwhelming hunger, and yet Salvatore could think only about the rules--the old rules--that his people had been made to follow. They had kept off of the homeless and the poor. They had kept off kids, and off of the disabled. It was a little bit of a Nosferatu thing: the clan had a soft spot for rejects and cast-offs. Perhaps more importantly though, was that it had been Salvatore’s thing too, back when he had a clan of his own and the authority to guide them. The bastards took most everything he had, but this? This he'd be giving them.

Salvatore’s hunger flared within him as The Beast sensed his apprehension, but a different fire--the fire of a very old man too stubborn and too sentimental for his own well-being--began to combat it.

“Apologies, sir,” Salvatore said. “I’ll just be outa the way then,”

Sal took a step forward, his muscles straining against their instincts to move in the other direction. Still, Sal managed another step. And then another, and another. It didn’t matter where he was going, so much as it mattered that he kept moving--and move he did. When Salvatore came to again, he was on the very southmost side of the warehouse, staring at the dilapidated brick walls and shattered window frames. Through the caps he could hear muffled conversation, and smell a host of bodies too warm and too alive for him to feel comfortable around.

So, he thought. The roof it is.

Sal grasped a hold of the exposed brick, his near-rabid strength allowing him to easily dig his fingers into the cement and stone. Sal began to climb, and as he did he was careful to avoid the windows, and climb as close to the gutter pipes as he could to mask his form in the dark. With one arm limp in a sling, and with each step an affront to the Beast curling and snapping at his insides, it was a more difficult task than it had any right to be.

Still, eventually Salvatore reached the top, skirting the edge of the skylights just enough to feel comfortable in his stealth. Eventually, he crouched low beside one which had already lost most of its window panes. The Kindred pulled off his hat, and gently hung it on one of the few jagged shards of glass remaining in the frame so that it hung just beneath the ceiling inside.

It was visible, and with Hanna’s sense of smell, he figured she’d notice it eventually. After all, he’d made no move to conceal it. Sal didn’t worry about that part though: even if anyone in this warehouse was sober, people in Houston hardly bothered looking up.
 

Red Thunder

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Screenshot_20210805-221137_DuckDuckGo.jpg

October 15, 1999
9:00 pm

∆∆∆
the Maximum Buzz main floor

He was growing hungry, was the gentleman. Prolonged use of most Disciplines was terribly taxing on the stores of blood that Kindred carried in their bodies, but this sweet medley of both Presence and Domination was proving to be a Herculean, and likely Sisyphean, task. A sigh crept through his nostrils, impatient and even angry. This was not the plan.

Movement caught his eye, a movement different from that twisting, swaying, drug and alcohol fueled movement so common in such a place. A larger man, clearly a manager or similar, was speaking to a smaller man through clenched teeth, emphasizing his words with small, precise gestures. The focus of his rebuke was glaring up at him, occasionally giving the larger man a rude gesture before answering back.

Threading the dance floor like a snake, the gentleman approached them, stopping just at the entrance to behind the counter, as was appropriate for a customer.

"Excuse me," he said, giving a polite cough. "It seems my date has, mm, misplaced herself. Wandered off, you might say. Could you fine men allow me a look around in the kitchen and such? I would appreciate it."

∆∆∆
Ironco Heavy Industries Warehouse[/I]

Salvatore's observation was indeed correct: the only up anyone in that warehouse looked to was the next high. And oh, the myriad of ways they sought it. To reach for the high, they stuck an arm. To smell it out, they bumped their nose. To catch it falling from the sky, they opened their mouths. Many drifted within a fog, high above their own frail frames, finding freedom from a dreary, deadend existence.

The Nosferatu, and indeed even his cap, perched high above the huddled masses yearning to break free of their miserable lives, was indeed hidden as completely as though he were Obfuscated. The Brujah most decidedly was not. Not too long after greeting Joey, Hanna was accosted by another familiar face. Manny had been to the Buzz two or three times: once, chasing a hit; afterwards, when Omar had aggressively corrected that misunderstanding, looking to work a few odd hours for spare change. He was a wirey man: strung out, vaguely emaciated, and very jittery.

"H-h-hey, Ms. Wojciek!" He waved hesitantly before dropping his hand to scratch a sore on his face. "I- I, uh. Haven't seen you here in a while! You- uh, you, uh- there anything- can I help you any?"

Clearly against his will, Manny's eyes kept shifting to the ice chest Hanna carried, and he rubbed his hands nervously, as if they ached.

∆∆∆
the Greyhound station - Fannin and Gray

Ermentrude's bones ached. They always did. Sitting. Standing. Shuffling along. Something always hurt. It was like ice had inches its way into her joints, isolating them from whatever ability to heal her body still possessed. The cool humidity of the bus hadn't helped. The hot humidity of the Houston night was just as useless; she was still chill from the erstwhile escort. She pulled her quilt a bit tighter around her meager frame before leaning on her walker and moving on.

A ragged pack of faded yellow was strapped to her waist. Behind the broken zipper was a special treasure. To be sold, they'd said. And Trudy would get to keep the profits. So nice. So generous. It was good product, too. Her fingers trembled at the memory of her hit even as her feet carried her automatically toward the sidewalk.

Unheard by her or by anyone else, the thing that wasn't a man hissed. Beside him, Bobby Jo allowed herself a small chuckle. Both of them had turned at the sound of Amélie's approaching car, and as the two Kindred stepped out from it, they smiled.

"I did not expect the giiiirl," Gerald noted, dragging the last word through grinding teeth. His companion patted his shoulder.

"She did suggest she might come, sugar," Bobby Jo said. "Even if she was supposed to be intercepted at the bar. Ah well; doing that Ventrue's work again, I suppose."

A glance up at Gerald told her that no other words were going to get to him. He was grimacing violently, his teeth bared predatorily. Very well, then. This would soon be over. She placed a hand on Gerald's arm, warning him against striking too soon. Her Obfuscation would need to be dropped at just the right time. Why, outing themselves too early would just be insane. And it was a touch too early for that to happen.
 

Kuno

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Amélie


Fortune always disfavored the poor, it seemed.

"We're too clean for this."

Amélie’s grip on Izzy’s arm was akin to an iron. She had seized hold of the young lady upon exiting the car, and though their looped arms may have appeared a casual link for the two, the strength in the old vampire’s hold showed no indication of letting go anytime soon. She was unduly distrustful of the quiet.

“You and me. I don’t think we look bedraggled enough,” the Tremere continued to her companion, giving her a sidelong glance. “Though darling I must say -”

Here her eyes roved up and down the girl’s body in a coldly appraising manner.

“You are certainly dressed for the part. Come.”

They were just wretches, these mules of the unnatural. They shuffled away from the bus, a haggard, dirty procession of the poorest poor of Houston. As the two vampires approached the bus station, Amélie released her quarry - though a hand remained at the small of her back, as much a guide as it was a reminder.

“Where are the deal-ers?” Amélie sang low, an uncharacteristic cheer in her voice.

Certainly, she did not imagine them to reveal themselves so easily. Vampires thrived in the shadows, and to parlay so boldly in the night over such an illicit drug...truly, those foolish enough had been executed already by their own stupidity. Her eyes lingered on the departing bus passengers, and the fingers at Isabel’s back squeezed lightly.

Was that a touch of encouragement or a threat? The French woman’s smile showed neither.

The parasitic light of the bus station shone fully above them, washing them of color. It deadened the undead woman’s features, shadows forming under her vacant eyes. Unseen by Isabel, the blood collected in the Tremere's body was pooling, coalescing into power.

Call it paranoia, or the trauma of past violent memories. But no one could say Amélie Dupuis, protector of the clan, was a fool to be ambushed. She knew she was being overly cautious; perhaps, too, this was a needless waste of Vitae, something she would scold herself for later…

Still. Still.

Her eyes sharpened like a predator’s. Slowly, as the Auspex honed her vision into a scalpel, cutting away the layers of her view, she panned her head slowly, taking in the entirety of the bus station.

 
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Applo

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“Yeah, we are looking for this stuff we heard about.”

Isabel was certain the French kindred’s comment about her looking the part of someone trying to score drugs had been as much an insult as it had been a compliment. She didn’t care. Her and Amelie may have only known each other for a few nights, but Isabel felt certain that getting a sincere compliment out of them would be harder than breaking Wes’s gaze from his own reflection. Besides, Amelie had at least noticed the effort she had made. That was something.

Leaning in towards the vagrants, Isabel lowered her voice to a semi-whisper.

“It looks kinda like black salt or something and gives you real intense dreams or something.”

As she backed away once more, the pressure of Amelie’s hand in the small of her back returned and for a moment, a flicker of annoyance crossed Isabel’s face. She wasn’t a child and Amelie wasn’t her mother.

“If you know where we could buy what we are looking for, I betcha we might forget where we put our change, ya know.”

Smiling the smile of someone with no plans but that of sweet chemical oblivion in their near future, Isabel surreptitiously put a hand behind her back and groped blindly for her friend's hand.

She didn’t need to be held.​
 

Doctor Jax

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Ugh, Hobos

Hanna walked through the rest of the IronCo warehouse like she’d kicked off her shoes in her own apartment. First things first was to see if she could find Sal -- though she’d probably be talking to old friends in here as well. Wally was a guitar-buddy of hers, a savant with strings, who just couldn’t quite kick the habit with a capital H. He was likewise one of the few who had his own car, and she knew he’d probably want a part or two fixed -- which meant favors.

Oh, in this world, favors were everything. When you had no money, you paid in one of a few ways - body, mind, time, things. These were objects you could trade for goods and services, when your cash could only grab a bagel, a baggie, a pair of socks. If you didn’t do good trade, didn’t cough up, you were ex-communicated from the concrete congregation, so to speak. Word spread.

Not a soul does a thing for you. You’d be the bum of bums.

Like Manny here. A mooch. A kiss-ass.

“ ‘eeeey Manny,” Hanna said with a lazy smile, but her voice was low. She didn’t miss his eyes darting to her cooler. Sorry, Buckwheat, ain’t for you. “Nah, man, I know my way around the place. Like, just here to visit some friends, ya dig?”

Her eyes cast around, before finding the hat left hanging upon the roof. Ah - funny. Used to be a favorite spot for a lot of restless Kindred.

“So if you don’t mind…”

She moved to get around Manny, figuring she’d take the old service ladder on the outside of the building. He was smooth, though, a quick step bringing him preternaturally into her forward path.

“C’mon, Ms. Wojciek! I’ll bet- it’s no troub- I- I can-” The sores on his cheek were turning an angry red, his filthy fingers digging further furrows into his dope or disease wounds that threatened to find the blood beneath. His neck was tense, and his pupils were widening. “Pretty lady like you shouldn’t- that- the box looks heavy, miss.”

Hanna’s cool demeanor only just cracked, revealing a subtle impatience. Her eyes looked Manny in the face, a small sigh escaping her. Mooch of mooches. Push to give a service. Push to get what you needed. Squeaky wheel and all.

“Manny, dude… I think I got it. Cool?” Hanna stated. “Like, don’t push your luck, brother, and we’ll stay groovy. You keep hasslin’, though, and I might have to get kinda pushy with you.”

An unfortunate fact of the underground world. Violence was a universal language. What a shame, then, that Manny was deaf to it.

"No no. Its- ya see, I figured- bit uh help I give you, an- maybe you gotta- this is- uh- it's wearing off, yeah?" Where Violence was, if not a foreign dialect, at least not immediately understood, bribes and 'gifts' universally were. "You're- a hit, Ms. W! I just- maybe I help- helping you- you- you- helping me? Yeah?

His speech was becoming more disconnected as his mannerisms became more manic: the last breath of energy before the plunge into the crash. Manny's legs would not stay still, and he shifted from one to the other rapidly.

Hanna considered him… and the wheels began to turn.

“How’s this…” Hanna drawled. “As it turns out - I do need a favor. Not with this--”

And she held up the cooler, easily.

“--but with some… heh, market research, man. Like, there’s some new dope floating around. Black, like sand, kind of, a downer. You find more out about it, maybe I can hook you up. Course you rat me… I make sure not a single dealer sells to you, again. Capesce?” Hanna bargained. Double-whammy -- get Manny off her case, and maybe do a bit of digging on her own.

There was a pregnant pause. Manny's face loosened, all expression and tightness draining from it rapidly, and his eyes became glassy. Only a tiny twitch in his temple gave any indication that he was trying to force the rusted cogs of his mind to generate any worthwhile thought.

"Downer. Black sand. I- there's been talk." His cognizance had returned, and his eyes shifted back and forth across random points on the floor. "Gonna- gonna find- Barb? Nah- I'll see- Willy? Mayb- Not likely-"

He carried on, frozen in place, as he continued sputtering and muttering to himself. It didn't appear his behavior would change anytime soon.

Hanna stood there, staring. Her eyes moved across his face, searching. Interesting - so the bums were already aware, even a hardcore addict like Manny hearing about it well before she had. That meant it had to have been circulating a while.

Whatever the case, she patted his shoulder, leaving him to muse, as she made her way out a warehouse door to locate the service ladder she wanted. Looping the handle of her cooler over her shoulder, she started up, making her way to her rendezvous with a certain corpse-ish Kindred.


@Red Thunder
 

Red Thunder

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October 15, 1999
9:30 pm

∆∆∆
Leon's Lounge

"I do not like it any more than you do."

"Doubtful. A Camarilla, and a Witch, no less? I will be the laughing stock of the Anarch community."

Sigurd Erickson sighed, taking a look out the window to the left. Across from him, the picture of measured class, sat Leon. His lips were pursed, and he looked uphappy.

"This is politics, Regent, nothing more. The Sabbat have ever wanted to seize Camarilla ground; how is this anything different?"

"This is intoxicants, Leon. Dru-"

"Drugs have been a staple of the streets since we were first Sired. Don't manufactory morality."

The Tremere Regent's face tightened. No conversation with an Anarch Kindred ever went favorably, particularly when that Anarch was a Baron with something to lose. And he did have something to lose: by associating with either sect, Leon could stand to make enemies of the offended party, earning direct and focused ire and likely bringing down wrath on his establishment and everything he'd worked for.

The question, then: was it all worth losing if it could prevent a bigger but less certain loss?

"He met with her, you know." Sigurd took a different tack, having allowed a heavy pause to linger first. "Liviana has the Prince's cooperation, if not his allegiance."

The only sign of Leon's disapproval was a flare of his nostrils and a small tightening of his lips. So. Camarilla leadership in bed with Sabbat leadership.

"And how long as the drug been on the street?"

"I do not know for certain. My network guesses that it first hit the streets of the world in late July." The Tremere felt his teeth with his tongue contemplatively. "They are rushing it, for it to have already be in Houston."

"For what purpose, though, Sigurd? Why are the Sabbat pushing this so hard?"

A weight, of either memory or pain, settled on Sigurd.

"Tell me, Leon: do you know what happened during the Week of Nightmares?"

∆∆∆
the Maximum Buzz main floor

Omar had been hired by Ms. Wojciek, among other things, for his legendary patience. When your patrons consisted of drunk, high, hormonal, and otherwise inebriated kine, nevermind entitled Kindred, it was a significant boon to have a fair degree of patience. And it had been regularly and generously applied in his career at the Buzz, and he had never once given in to impatience.

There was a first time for everything.

"You are the most arrogant, infantile-"

Before him, standing at a significant height disadvantage, Cut flipped Omar another bird.

"Fuck you, cabrón."

"The mistress-!"

The gentleman coughed again, trying politely to gain their attention. Omar shot a glance to him, gathered himself, and approached. Cut stormed off.

"Ah. A date, you said? Apologies, sir: the back rooms are off limits."

"Oh? Pity. A real pity."

It was, technically speaking, a major breach of protocol to use one's Disciplines within another Kindred's space, particularly when it was public and therefore Elysium. The gentleman applied his Presence to Omar, and heavily. He did not care about societal niceties; he needed to find his prey.

"Better yet," He continued, "tell me: where is the Ravnos girl?"

∆∆∆

the Greyhound station - Fannin and Gray
"Mm? Eh?"

Isabel's question was a knife through the fog of Trudy's mind. She pulled up short, eyes blinking wearily. What had the young thing said? Such a cutie, too. Reminded her of her granddaughter. Did she have a granddaughter? Maybe. It was harder to think than it used to be. Everything was harder than it used to be. Walking. Thinking. Speaking. Eating. Sleeping.

No, wait. The sleeping was easier, actually. So easy, now, to sleep. The weight of exhaustion pressed on the old woman's withered mind, and she longed to go to where everything was easier. To go to her-

"Eh? Dreams? In tents?" Trudy shuffled herself about, eyes narrow as she took a better look at the girl. Yes, very young. Very cute. Was she ever that cute? Maybe, once. A long time ago. Before. "I dunno about tents, sweetie. But d'you mean this?"

Rather trustingly, or maybe foolishly, she pulled a dime bag from her fanny pack. Within was the black sand-like substance of the drug in question. She gave it a small shake.

"New stuff. Good for sleeping, yeah." Trudy looked at Isabel, assessing her. After a moment, she continued. "$20."

The other hobos were dispersing, only a few still remaining, mired in the mazes of their own minds as much as merely uncertain of where to go. Amelié's Auspex picked out each one easily. Indeed, in picked out even the locations of the nearest Greyhound employees by their auras from behind the safety of their walls. Each life cast an aura, like the halos around a fog-drowned streetlight. The practiced Kindred could pick out the minor differences between one life and the next, determining by that aura sex, genetic anscestory, physical details, and the like.

It also worked on Kindred, with experts in the craft being able to tell a Kindred's Clan, Generation, and such details with a glance. It would even work against the camouflage of Obfuscation.

Amelié saw her. A squat woman in a sundress, she stood openly, hands clasped in front of her. She was staring right at Amelié and Izzy. At the Tremere's glance, she did not move. She merely watched, waiting.

To Izzy and Amelié's left, something scraped the asphalt; Auspex's heightened senses allowed her to pick it up. The sound came from behind another bus, but she could still see the aura seeping through.

Both were Kindred.
 
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Kuno

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Amélie


To say Amélie was surprised would have been a gross misinterpretation of the situation. Living a life as fraught as hers had ruined the figurative element for her. Expecting the unexpected - was that not her creed as a killer of Tremere divination? Kindred were worse than the Kine in their wanton deeds; not a single one of them could ever be trusted. Including herself. So was she taken aback at the shrouded guests? No.

But it gave her pause.

For a scant moment, she looked away from the woman ahead. Isabel, the wayward child, had drifted away to speak with a homeless woman freshly arrived. The Tremere’s eyes darted frenetically from her to the hidden woman to the figure obscured to their left. It was searching, that gaze of hers, quietly assessing and gauging the distance. The distance...between her. Her and Isabel. Isabel and the woman. Isabel and the one cloaked in their ridiculous shadows behind the bus. Slowly, Amélie smiled, even as a venomous hiss seeped through her clamped teeth.

She despised liabilities.

“Why, three’s a crowd, I think,” the vampire suddenly exclaimed, returning the squat woman’s unabashed stare. “Heavens. Quite the welcome.”

Amélie made a gesture in the stranger’s direction, her palms open and facing up -- claws pointed ahead. She didn’t seem to care if the human nearby heard or saw this strange encounter. Should she witness anything...well. Amélie wasn’t too concerned with her words being taken seriously by anyone. Or they could just kill her. It didn’t really matter.

“Come. Let’s not stand here on ceremony. I have things to say and do, and I despise this song and dance so accustomed to our kind. Make your move already - do I have a listening ear or not?”


 
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Applo

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How were you actually meant to buy drugs? With the little plastic bag all but swinging under her nose, Isabel was suddenly aware that she had no idea what she was meant to do now. Sure, she had seen countless drug deals go down, but they had all been on TV. How much had all those script writers known and how much had they made up. The women in front of her held the very thing the Prince had sent them scurrying around the city to find out about. People had died because of this strange preparation. Isabel didn’t want to blow it now because the most devious thing she had done growing up was creeping downstairs after her parents had gone to sleep to watch X-Files.

“Twenty, um, yeah I can do that.”

As Isabel’s hands dug into pockets, grasping blindly at their contents, the new blood looked around the alley surreptitiously. Her gaze was met by the retreating backs of the bus's other occupants. Nobody seemed all that interested in what was going on. That was good right?”

“Is this ok?”

The money that had emerged in the new blood’s hands was a mixture of crumpled bills that showed how many hands they had passed through with every dog eared corner. To the best of her ability, Isabel tried to fan them out so they could all be seen at once.

"Bit new to this, kid?" The twenty dollars was gone in a flash, snatched away as soon as it was presented. Trudy examined it carefully, holding it up to the thin light of the street lamp. "Word of advice: don't go flashing around green. Getcha dead."

Apparently satisfied with the money's quality, she shoved it down the front of her shirt and proffered the black dust to her buyer.

"All yours. Enjoy while you can."

She revealed slimy, yellow teeth in a ragged smile.

“Urm, Thanks.”

Pushing the little package deep into a pocket, Isabel glanced away from the horrifying grin over a shoulder at her friend; they were talking to someone the new-blood couldn’t quite see from where she stood.

“Hey Am, I got the… erm… stuff. Are we done here?”​