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Immortal Desires Detritus's GURPS World of Darkness PbP game.

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Old 04-16-2008, 03:13 AM
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Default Setting Pieces (aka the scheming bastard NPC thread)

I'm going to collect the various NPC POV pieces here, since they are technically OOC knowledge. If the muse happens to pay a visit while the players are busy, I may add to this thread from time to time.

=====================

((Originally posted in the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

I was working on this last night, but events have outpaced the originally intended conclusion -- that Sarah meet up with the PCs before they left the boat. So it's just bonus material to ponder while I conjure up some suitable locales for the N.O. Anarchs to frequent. Of course, the PCs wouldn't know exactly what was going on in Rebekka's head, but elder Tremere do tend to be an ambitious lot, so they would have a general idea that there is an agenda lurking there that doesn't align with the PCs' interests.

=====================

Rebekka stood silent and watched the audience quickly disperse. She hoped she was not too obvious in her attempt to observe the departing Kindred. Radeyah and the Prince were already speaking softly with each other when Rebekka led Sarah out of the room, the last of the audience members to exit.

"I don't think the Anarchs liked us very much," Sarah said to her once they were out of the meeting room. "That Antoinette kept giving me weird looks, although she tried to hide it."

"They are of little importance," Rebekka replied as they headed to their guest rooms. Most of them were, at any rate.

"The one from L.A., Anneke, she was talking about the Third Tradition there at the end, wasn't she?" asked Sarah "Why would she be so careful about it?"

Rebekka's eyes widened slightly in surprise at the question. It would be well for her to remember that the lightness of Sarah's usual demeanor often belied a sharp mind beneath it. She could become a formidable Cainite, had she any true ambition, despite the length of her lineage. Once she was sure she was in control of her features, she gestured for Sarah to walk beside her.

"She was," Rebekka said. She had been unsure of what Sarah was about to say when she began to speak up during the audience, until now. "It is a dangerous business to hint at any dereliction of duty in enforcing the Traditions in the presence of the Prince. As this Anneke seemed to realize. As you should have known."

"Yes, Regent," Sarah said softly in the direction of her feet.

The effect of her rebuke did not last long as Sarah looked up and asked, "That's why she was trying to get one of Justicar's agents to say it, wasn't it, Regent?"

Rebekka permitted the beginnings of a smile to cross her lips. Very sharp, when she applied herself. How to light a fire under her, though?

"That is correct," answered Rebekka. "What else?"

"We should tell them, shouldn't we?" Sarah asked after a moment's thought.

Rebekka let her smile deepen briefly. She supposed it would not do to have subordinates who were intolerably smart.

"If you think it a good idea, yes," said Rebekka, her expression once again smooth. She would be shocked if the warning were necessary, however. The questioning of the Anarchs had not yielded that much information, but it was well structured. Leo and Menachem were both astute Kindred, at least for those not Tremere, and they had had little more to do than watch while Jack asked the questions.

"Go, but remember that there can also be danger in being too overt about currying favor with an Archon," she said as they arrived at the Tremere guest quarters.

"Yes, Regent," said Sarah again before taking her leave of Rebekka.

So, a violation of the Third Tradition, to go along with the First. And the Sixth, unless Rebekka badly missed on her surmise. By her calculations, that did not add up to a passing grade.

Perhaps the responsibilities that attended the position of Regent would kindle some ambition in Sarah. She had the magical ability, an ironclad prerequisite, of course, but she also had a way of ingratiating herself to those both within the clan and outside of it. A way that did not waken the usual suspicions that Tremere tended to set off when they tried. That was, regrettably, a rare skill within the clan, and one that Rebekka had only partially mastered despite the centuries since her Embrace.

No doubt Prince Strauss would like to see one of his subordinates remain in New Orleans, and perhaps take the post of Regent themselves. Rebekka would have to make Sarah's case for her to the Council, of course, and Prince Strauss would surely do the same for his man. Some things seemed never to change.

She was sure that she did not want the position herself. Nature might not abhor a vacuum, as was once posited, but Kindred power structures surely did, and she had a different office in mind for herself.

Rebekka was surprised to find herself still in the hallway when Sarah returned. Too soon to have had met with the other Texas Kindred, she thought.

"I did not find them, Regent," she said, sounding a bit surprised at their meeting at the door.

"I am sure they understood the situation before leaving," replied Rebekka. "It is out of our hands for now, but who knows what the night will bring?"

Who indeed? This night had already yielded one surprise, and a potentially calamitous one at that. The penance that the Archon gave the childe was fitting, if a touch barbaric, but it should never have come to that.

It would be most unfortunate if Samantha could manipulate the situation adroitly enough to put the Justicar in danger, but that was also out of their hands. Nothing remained to do for the moment but to reflect and plan for all possible contingencies. Perhaps Samantha wanted to provoke the confrontation badly enough to draw Lucian out in the open, if they were truly allied. That would be a nice feather in the cap of the one to bring him to heel.

"Come, there is much to discuss," said Rebekka as they entered their quarters.
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Old 04-21-2008, 04:59 AM
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Default The New Orleans "Primogen Council" (part 1 of 2)

((Originally posted in the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

As things now stand, Jocelin needs to decide on a search pattern to locate her Anarch friends. In the meantime, here's another setting piece I wrote this weekend.

===================

Ramiel struggled to master a surge of uneasiness that had welled up inside him as he and Sabine went to the meeting of the Primogen Council. Officially, New Orleans lacked such a body, and the meetings were strictly off-the-record, but that was how he thought of it.

Sabine would not have minded this characterization, and might even adopt it herself. No doubt Camille would laugh at Toreador pretension, though, and Bianca would probably crack his skull open were he to couch these meetings in those terms to her face. Only a fool would suggest to a Brujah that she was part of an establishment that she professed to loathe.

His face betrayed no hint of his inner turmoil, of course. In Kindred society, if you could not control the demeanor you wished to project then you were doomed. The soundness of that truism had already been amply demonstrated tonight, and he was not sure that it was to be the only example to occur before sunrise.

"At least wait until after we speak with Bianca and Camille before you get too worried," Sabine said, snapping him out of his brown study.

Ramiel thinned his lips in exasperation at the comment. Sabine appeared to be serenity incarnate, the sardonic arch of an eyebrow seeming only to add to the effect. Easy for her to say, given that she had much less at stake tonight than did he. The presence of her clan also waxed, while that of his dwindled. Considering the pace of events, it would not matter that it was a transient state of affairs; if Adrianne and Demetrious did not waken soon, then they may as well have died the Final Death. They would do just as much good that way in handling the immediate situation with Sammy and her mysterious allies as they were now. A maudlin thought, but no less true for it. He did not permit himself to dwell at all on what the increased presence of the Tremere heralded.

"Truly, dearest, your concern gratifies me," he replied. Pursing his lips, he took Sabine's wrist in his hand as though to kiss it. She hissed as if burnt when she jerked her hand free, a most satisfactory reaction. Clumsy of him to incorporate physical contact into his riposte, but the fact that she did not mention it indicated that Sabine was under no little preoccupation herself. A good thing to know, that.

Bianca and Camille were already waiting when he and Sabine arrived at the jazz hall. The two women were seated as far apart as could be within the same section of balcony, studiously ignoring each other with feigned nonchalance. Ramiel would have been in an uproar had he come upon the scene under more routine circumstances, but now wasn't the time.

"What took you so long?" Bianca demanded of them. "The fur's about to fly and I'd just as soon not spend my time sitting on my hands in Elysium."

"It already has," said Ramiel. "There was an... incident involving Jocelin during what was supposed to be a meeting with Sammy, one that required a lot of cleanup."

Ramiel fell silent as one of the sources of his unease bubbled its way back to the surface. Only dimly aware of Sabine taking up the explanation of the events involving Heather, he relived his encounter tonight with Rebekka yet again. That must have been the longest 30 seconds of his unlife, transfixed by the Piercing Gaze of an elder Tremere. A Gaze he had volunteered for, however reluctantly, he had to admit to himself. Viewed objectively, it was a small price to pay to further his mastery with the discipline, but for an instant he had thought he had seen Rebekka's irises aglow with flame, flame that would wholly consume him from the inside out. He was sure the image would stay with him for the rest of his nights.

Silence greeted Ramiel as he snapped out of his reverie. Camille was muttering, her right hand covering her eyes, and Bianca pressed the heels of her palms against her temples. Sabine was a little more composed, but then, she had had a little time to assimilate the impact of this development before the meeting.

"Have either of you heard from the others?" he asked into the room. Neither of them stirred from their gestures of denial. Ramiel's eyes met Sabine's for a moment. Hers looked as tight as his felt. Surely neither of them would have expected the vital necessity of Brujah and Gangrel reinforcements as recently as a week ago. Unsteady reinforcements they would likely be, especially the Brujah, but sometimes you just had to go to war with the army you had, if it came to that.

"Camille? Bianca?" His voice sounded much less casual than he had wished it to.

Bianca came to first. "Black Cat returned with the others tonight -- Yuri, Uma, Antoinette. They're probably with the Prince right now. They brought back someone from L.A., a Toreador named Anneke. Do you know her?" Bianca asked of him. Ramiel noticed that Camille's muttering had stopped, and her fingers had parted enough to expose her left eye.

"No," replied Ramiel, "I'm afraid I've never heard of her." Small wonder if she was another Anarch. Still, another of his clan in the city was a little encouraging, Anarch sympathies or not. Descendant of Mr. Johnson or not, for that matter.

"What about you, Camille?"

Once again composed, Camille replied, "I don't know whether Roman and Anastasia are still in Baton Rouge or not." After a long pause, she added, "she would probably have better luck than I at bringing them in," as she pointed to Bianca. That admission sounded like it was in tow behind a tugboat.

Bianca puckered her lips at Camille and said, "I love you too, toots, but I haven't heard anything from them."
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Old 04-21-2008, 05:04 AM
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Default The New Orleans "Primogen Council" (part 2 of 2)

((Originally posted in the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

So, it turns out the story was 10,119 characters in length, so it needed to be split up. Here's the conclusion....

===================

"What about these Tremere from Texas, what will they do?" he asked Sabine, as much to head off any bickering as anything. He had little doubt that they would nominally be on the side of the status quo. At least, of the Camarilla status quo; it took little imagination to see what else might be on their agenda. That might actually be tolerable, were his lot in life to lift with that rising tide. Another night, perhaps.

"They're kind of preoccupied with Lazarus, especially the Dallas pair," said Sabine. "I would guess that Sarah will be available for anything that happens ashore. Maybe Rebekka, too. I think Rebekka is nearly as good as Lazarus. Maybe better, for all I know, the downhill flow of information isn't much more than a trickle most of the time." A touch of bitterness crept in at the end of that statement.

Ramiel did not need any convincing about the competence of the Tremere. He had made sure to read Adrianne's memories of the encounter outside Sammy's mansion. His jaw dropped when he had seen Sarah incinerate one of their attackers with twin jets of flame in a moment of desperation, yet she was clearly the junior member in the partnership with Rebekka. With some effort, he forced himself to abandon taking this line of reasoning to its conclusion. Another night.

"While we're on the subject, who is Lucian?" asked Camille, her face and tone all earnest innocence. Except for that hint of fang she showed. Oh, yes, she had her balance back. She really should have been a Toreador; she did a better job of it than most of his siblings. Not better than Ramiel himself, of course.

Sabine clenched her jaw, but sensed that an evasion would not suffice here. "I really don't know much other than he is considered a blood traitor by my clan," she said. "I'm at a loss for the details, but there is a string of events associated with him -- Paris, Marseilles, Boston, Chicago, Memphis. And now maybe Houston or New Orleans."

Ramiel was sure that "events" was Warlock-speak for "black eyes" in this case, but he kept this surmise to himself.

"A Tremere Anarch, I can hardly credit it," said Bianca.

"You have not worked with him then?" asked Ramiel.

Bianca shook her head. "If I have, he hid the fact that he was a Warlock. I try to limit my contact with them. Present company excepted," she added, a beat late.

Sabine studied the Anarch for a moment before continuing. "Your 'extra activity' on the streets could be Lucian's men?"

"Maybe," she replied, "but I don't think they're Warlocks."

This was going nowhere. It was about time to knuckle down and get some serious planning done.

"What do you think about Mr. Johnson, Ramiel? Has he been compromised?" asked Camille.

So much for planning. Now it was his turn to squirm. He was conscious of forcing himself to draw breath and exhale. "I can't rule it out," he admitted. "I'll have to ask Radeyah about how the presentation of the Anarchs went. It could be another clue."

There wasn't much to say after that. A palpable silence descended upon them, lent weight by the passage of seconds turning into minutes. Knowing what must be done and stating it were two different things.

Suspicion lined the looks that Camille and Sabine gave him soon after the silence came, and even Bianca began to eye him askance after a while. Ramiel was glad for not having to breathe, else he would have heaved a rather wounded sigh. That would not have done at all.

"We will have to leave the Prince out of the loop," he said at last. The women all nodded at that pronouncement. He doubted very much that they knew or even suspected that certain things had already been set in motion that were informed by this conclusion.

"And the Archon?" asked Camille. "What of him and his associates?"

"A Justicar would be better, but the Archon may be all that is at hand," replied Ramiel. "It could not hurt to see how their meeting with Sammy turns out before committing," he said. Bianca gave swift agreement to that last. Camille and Sabine both became suspicious again, but eventually assented.

As if on cue, the chiming of Bianca's cell phone, undoubtedly announcing that the Anarch audience was finished, filled the balcony. A lot could change between now and sunrise, thought Ramiel. There was nothing in it now but to roll where this tide took them, roll with it and do their best to land on their feet when the wave crashed ashore.
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:19 AM
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Default

((Originally posted in the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

While the PCs are deciding which way to go, here's an Anarch POV piece.

=================

Antoinette lingered on the deck of the Prince's ship as the others boarded the boat back to shore. What she really wanted was to be alone for a bit, but this was the best she was going to be able to do for now, and probably the rest of the night. Black Cat and Yuri hung back for a moment before Antoinette waved them towards the boat. They understood; they were both nearly as close with Jocelin as she was.

She did like the sea. They would be putting ashore much further east than where they were picked up, so the trip back would be more like the usual return trip from the Prince's haven. That was why they arrived to the pickup by foot in the first place. For all their vaunted freedom, this maneuvering to lose watchful eyes felt too much like slinking away. Well, it was a minor irritant on top of everything else.

Uma and Anneke were absorbed in an animated discussion near the bow, she noticed. She couldn't hear a word, seated towards the stern as she was, but it was clear that Uma was getting agitated. In her way, she was as tough, determined, and resourceful as Bianca, but she wasn't sure which side she would pick if the two of them paired up against Anneke.

She let herself be drawn into the memory, unwilling for the moment to sort out her feelings about what she had learned tonight...

It was the first rant for the New Orleans Anarchs, and they had run into Uma's sire. Hector Sosa was an imposing individual, and there was bad blood there. Uma had managed to verbally cut him down to size quite easily, but that only ticked off Hector more. Things looked like they were about to get ugly when a slim woman who barely came up to Hector's chin produced a stake the length of her forearm and proceeded quick as lightning to drive it into his chest. It plunged so deep that you could hold the end coming out of his back the way you would grip a baseball bat! All she had said was that sometimes bad boys needed lessons in manners. Holy living fuck!

Coming back to the present, Antoinette saw Uma in yet another sulk. Anneke was smirking but did not look at anyone in particular. Sparks often struck between the two of them, and this was the usual result. Uma insisted that she had Hector under control, and resented Anneke's "interference," but Antoinette thought that deep down Uma realized that things were a lot more precarious with Hector that night than she usually admitted. She whispered a brief but fervent prayer that Uma would not forget the lesson her sire had learned.

She wasn't sure if she was imagining things, but there were times when Antoinette thought that Anneke felt protective towards Uma. Towards them all at times, but especially towards Uma. It was the only thing she could think of as to why Anneke had come with them when Bianca had asked them to come back to New Orleans.

And why had they returned? Bianca needed help, so they came back. That's all there was to it, Anarchs had to have each other's backs because that's all they had. It was just... The Prince. Warlocks. An Archon. Fuck! Don't just hop into the frying pan, Joss, go ahead and pull the lid on over you while you're at it!

No, that was not completely fair. When you lost your tailgunner, you needed to find a replacement or make do without. It was hard to have someone's back when they were over a thousand miles away, is all. Someone should have stayed with her in Dallas. She should have stayed, but it was L.A.! She had to go there at least once, and the storm was the perfect excuse to leave for a while. She should have made sure that Jocelin had come out with them in the first place. Next time for sure.

"You OK?" Yuri asked to her startlement. She was going to have to talk to Jocelin soon, if only to prevent herself from going blind and deaf.

"Yeah... I think so... I don't know," she finally admitted. She found it strange that her mood began to lighten with that admission.

"It'll be alright," said Yuri. "A Justicar's scabby Blood Doll can't get in the way for very long."

Antoinette smiled, but it was a half-hearted effort. "The purple-haired chick was a Warlock, Yuri. Sarah, Joss said, and it sounds like they might be friends now."

Yuri thought for a moment. "Sabine isn't so bad, at least when she forgets that Warlock by-law that requires the rods up their butts to have rods up their butts," he said with a smile. "I can't see Joss making friends with anyone who is too uptight. She's probably cool, at least for a Warlock."

"I guess you're right," said Antoinette. Her gloominess returning, she had the sinking feeling that she was going to get to know a whole mess of Warlocks better than she had ever dreamt possible.
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:39 AM
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Default Uma and Anneke, BFF

((Originally posted in the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

Having regained terra firma, Anneke contented herself with standing at the dock's edge, faced away from her companions, permitted them to plan out the night's activities. Their turf, their show. No matter how many grievances the anarchs laid at the feet of the Camarilla, in this one matter at least there was accord between elder and neonate.

A westering gibbous moon lay perhaps an hour away from setting. Anneke indulged a fancy, engaged in rapt consideration of moonlight playing across rippling water, took pleasure in what others believed her clan's weakness. How wrong they all were, but only Malkavians ever seemed to even approach understanding this error.

On a whim, Anneke closed her eyes and cast her second sight upwards. Higher and higher she went, climbed in bliss, reveled in freedom. Gazing back downwards, her reward was a vast tapestry of mottled light and dark. The pattern seethed yet always retained a semblance of cohesion, order and chaos mingled, one coming from the other then going back again. Trite it may be, but the concept had always appealed to her.

Then, just as abruptly as her excursion had begun, she drew her sight back downwards, only much faster than on her climb. She charged towards the sea, raced moonlight to earth, grew giddy in descent. Just as it seemed she must crash into the water, she leveled her visual dive and nearly recoiled when the journey had finished back where it started. Swaying for no apparent reason would have been a touch embarrassing; falling off the dock would have been downright mortifying. Luckily, she did neither this time.

"Are you with us, Anneke?" Black Cat asked her. "We're ready to go now."

At first Anneke's only reaction was to blink her eyes rapidly until she really was all the way back on the dock. Just one of the reasons why she had taken to wearing shades nearly all the time.

"I am here," she said. "What will we be doing?"

"We're meeting Bianca at House of Blues," said Black Cat. "With any luck, Jocelin will show up, too. Alone."

"Do you really think she'll come by herself?" asked Anneke, not quite able to keep her question at a level tone.

Black Cat's lips compressed as she shook her head.

"Not a chance," she said. "She might come to the bar by herself, but her friends will be in the neighborhood in that case. We need lookouts. Sharp-eyed lookouts."

"And naturally you thought of me," said Anneke with a dry undertone. "I'm touched."

"Not just you," said Black Cat, meeting dryness in kind. "Antoinette is Joss's best friend. Yuri and I are pretty close with her, too, but Uma not so much. The three of us should be there, but Uma can help you. She has the needed talents. Just try not to tear each other's throats out when you're out on the street by yourselves, OK?"

"Sounds delightful," said Anneke, and if a hint of trepidation came out in her voice, so be it. It was not as if Black Cat or any of the others would fathom the thoughts behind the emotion. She had thought she would need to convince the others to let her go her own way for a portion of the remaining night. She did like it when a plan came together, but this had a definite feeling of strings being pulled. By whom, though?

"Uma, darling, we're going to get know each other even better. I want you to show me everything the city has to offer," said Anneke with theatrical enthusiasm. Uma favored her with a sour grimace before rolling her eyes. There was a little fun to be had before the serious business got underway, at least.
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Old 05-23-2008, 05:27 AM
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((Concurrent with the main Anarch meet-and-greet thread.))

Worrying reports were coming back from New Orleans, perhaps the most troubling out-of-town news that Jürgen Strauss had received in his quarter century as Prince of Dallas. The city sounded ready to explode. If it came to that, one could always turn turmoil into favorable outcomes for oneself through astute planning and decisive action. Information was the key there.

Prince Strauss dialed up his operatives in New Orleans. Merill was the one to answer.

"Yes, my Prince?"

"You are free to talk openly?"

"Yes, Sire, Thomas and I are alone with Lazarus at the moment."

"What is Lazarus's condition? Does he show any signs of stirring?"

"None, Sire," said Merill. "We have so far been unable to rouse him, even with assistance from the Houston Chantry."

"Assistance," thought Jürgen wryly. "No doubt Rebekka had taken charge of all of the clan's dealings in the city with Lazarus incapacitated."

"There may be nothing you can do to accelerate the process, unfortunately. Elder Kindred do sleep deeply when they enter torpor. Is there any hope of you finding a temporary haven where you can move his body, off Prince Johnson's boat? Salvaging something from the old Chantry location, perhaps?"

"The former Chantry would not be very secure, my Prince," replied Merill. "I believe the Drake Manor might work out, but it is currently occupied, of course. Rebekka's girl is the only one of us from Texas who has seen the building, however, but she reports that it has already undergone some minor thaumaturgical warding."

Jürgen considered that for a moment before asking his next question.

"What do you make of her, Rebekka's girl? What is her name?"

"She is called Sarah Cobbler, Sire. I have never had more than hearsay to go on about her until very recently. She is a very accomplished mage for one so young, I must admit. She seems to have especial skill at the enchantment of objects."

Sarah Cobbler. Yes, he had heard rumors that Rebekka had a young protege that she was very high on, and it must be this Sarah.

"Is she good enough to take up the post of Regent, Merill?"

Silence met this question for several seconds before Merill answered.

"I would guess so, my Prince, although she is still a bit callow, if I may say, and takes most things altogether too lightly to have the gravitas required for the position."

"Tut, tut, Merill, are you harboring ambitions of your own?" chided Prince Strauss.

"None of which I am aware along these lines, Sire. The position is rightly that of Lazarus in any event, so I am not entirely sure why you asked about Sarah's fitness for the post."

"It may still be quite some time before Lazarus wakens," said Jürgen. "The post would naturally fall to Rebekka in the interim, but if another acceptable candidate were available, that would free Rebekka up to pursue other ambitions. I am not Regent in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Austin, for example."

"I see your point, Sire," said Merill, "but given that Lazarus has never managed to seize Praxis New Orleans for himself, I am not sure if Rebekka could, either, especially since she is a stranger to the city."

"Under normal circumstances I would agree, but my impression of the city is that it requires but a spark to set the Kindred community aflame. Should Justicar Walsh's suspicions about Miss Drake be well-founded, and should further crimes of hers be uncovered that reflect poorly on Mr. Johnson's rule, that may be all that's needed to tip the balance of power away from the Toreador towards the Tremere.

"Should Mr. Johnson be removed from consideration, are there any in New Orleans now who could outmaneuver Rebekka, if it came to that?"

"None that I know of, save perhaps Lazarus, my Prince," admitted Merill. "It seems I still have much to learn about the inner workings of Kindred politics, Sire."

"Do not be too hard on yourself, Merill, there are few who are born to it."

"Thank you, my Prince. Is there anything else you require?"

"Lazarus is vulnerable so long as he is so close to Mr. Johnson. One of you or Thomas should remain by his side until you can move him to safer haven. If Miss Drake is found guilty and either banished or destroyed, do your best to lay claim on her manor for the Tremere. Rebekka may be in the best position to make this claim," said Prince Strauss with some reluctance.

"It shall be so, Sire," said Merill. "Your tutelage is illuminating, as always."

"Good bye," said Prince Strauss.

Rebekka always was one for surprises, thought Jürgen. Under different circumstances, she would have made a captivating partner. Junior partner, of course.

Still, the situation in New Orleans could well warrant an outsider ascending to the throne. In that case, it was possible that Lazarus would be transferred to Houston. With Tremere princes established in Dallas and New Orleans, Houston could be ripe for the taking as well.

Rebekka would never have helped Jürgen bring all of Texas under his control, but Lazarus might. With Texas and Louisiana both under Tremere control, perhaps Vienna would see fit to raising a Pontifex from the ranks of the leaders of those states. And Prince Strauss knew just the man for the job.
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:22 AM
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Camille turned off Bourbon Street and made her way to the employees' entrance of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Pub. After Bianca's departure from Storyville, Sabine had indicated that she wanted to meet somewhere away from Ramiel.

"What is this about?" Camille asked once she reached the rear entrance.

"Inside," said Sabine, after which she turned and entered the building without another word.

Camille always had liked the candlelit main room of the pub, but thoughts about the decor fled her mind once she saw Rebekka seated with a woman sporting vivid magenta hair at a secluded table.

"Girls' night out?" said Camille as she slowed her pace, looking to buy a little time before engaging the others in conversation. She would bind herself to that idiot Kallista if this was just a social call.

Sabine did not turn until she reached the table, and merely motioned for Camille to come and be seated after she did. All three witches wore curiously expectant looks, she noted, an observation that conjured a butterfly or two to tickle her stomach before she could suppress the reaction. Mentally berating herself for reacting like the greenest neonate, Camille made sure she kept her face smooth as she joined the Tremere.

"This is Sarah," said Sabine, "and you've already met Rebekka. She has some questions for you."

Camille turned her attention to Rebekka but did not speak. If this meeting was about anything like she suspected, it would be better to wait until she was asked something before speaking. An unnerving stretch of silence played out as Rebekka mirrored Camille's tactic, one she augmented by assaying a predatory grin similar to the one she had employed last night at Storyville.

"You are an intriguing specimen," Rebekka said at last, "not at all like your... kin, I would say. Outnumbered at every turn by at least three families larger than your own, you have nonetheless been able to hold your ground in the face of such odds. A remarkable achievement, if you don't mind my saying so."

"Thank you," said Camille, not quite able to keep all traces of derision from her voice at such a clinical description of her position. Intriguing specimen, indeed! It would have rankled less had she been sure that she would be able to prevent the Tremere from squashing her like a bug. Or the Toreador. Or the Brujah, for that matter.

Rebekka inclined her head graciously, either not recognizing or choosing to ignore the sarcasm in Camille's reply.

"Yet your position is no doubt a precarious one," said Rebekka. "Have you never wished for a more secure situation for yourself?"

"The stakes are high, but the payoffs are rewarding enough," said Camille. With any luck, she might be about to bank one such payoff very shortly.

"Forgive me," said Rebekka, amusement plain on her features, "but I believe you have an impoverished view of the magnitude of the rewards that the game has to offer. Someone of your acumen could do very well for herself in a prince's court, for example, yet my understanding of the situation here is that those rewards are presently all but monopolized by the royal family."

"I'm touched by your concern for my well being, but why should I believe that my position would improve after a change in management? Mr. Johnson usually leaves well enough alone, especially for those of us with ancestral ties to the community," said Camille with a nod towards Sabine.

"You do not think his policies, his nepotism, have resulted in his finger slipping from the pulse of the city?" asked Rebekka. "A potentially devastating crisis looms in this situation with Miss Drake. Would it really have come to this with a less insular leader?"

Camille had to admit to herself that Rebekka had a point, but let this conclusion remain unvoiced. She decided also to let the change in subject pass without comment.

"You mention nepotism. Why should anyone expect that to change should your house replace Mr. Johnson's as the ruling family?" asked Camille. "Your family is every bit as insular as our dear leader's. More so, in general, if the truth be told."

Rebekka smiled and said, "there is no reason for me to conceal my desire to improve the station of my family in the city. It does behoove me to call to your attention that our interests are surely aligned. Perhaps not perfectly, yet the overlap is there. Furthermore, should the preeminent member of the ruling house be a relative newcomer, she would certainly require, and welcome, the input of those more familiar with the situation on the ground here."

"It sounds to me like there are a lot of new boots on the ground. Are you sure some of them aren't already in league with you? Who is this Lucian fellow I've started to hear so much about?"

Camille nearly flinched when Rebekka's gaze sharpened. She spent a long moment of consideration clearly deciding how much to reveal.

"The specifics of his crimes are an internal clan matter, I'm afraid. It suffices for now to say that I do not work with him, nor am I otherwise beholden to him."

Camille considered that for a moment when another question popped into her head.

"Bianca's family doesn't get along that well with Mr. Johnson's, yet I am sure they would unite in an effort to prevent yours from gaining ascent. How would you counter that?"

"It seems you were right, Sabine," said Rebekka, "that it was correct to approach her first.

"You could go very far indeed in a prince's court, Camille. I understand that you and Sabine have an effective working relationship with Bianca, if a bit rocky at times. If it pleases you, it would fall to the two of you to convince her that the management situation could stand to improve.

"Also, your Ramiel has desires. Ambition," said Rebekka. "My understanding is that he is perhaps the black sheep of the royal family. Suppose Mr. Johnson were found to be wanting in his leadership role. Demetrious and Adrianne are out of the picture for now. Would either of Kallista or Radeyah throw in their lot with Ramiel?"

"Radeyah did commit certain indiscretions in the meeting with Heather," said Sabine. "Granted, it was in reaction to Jocelin's outburst, but it still might be enough to bring her in line if she isn't agreeable at first.

"She is the only one of the pair worth convincing, if you ask me," said Camille, "and maybe you've got enough on her to do it. I wasn't there, so I don't really know.

"Kallista is a twit, I wouldn't waste my time with her. A well-connected twit," she admitted grudgingly, "but that influence would lessen significantly if Mr. Johnson were out of the way." Camille realized that with this answer, she had in fact committed herself to achieving that very outcome, and that it did please her to do so.

"Excellent," said Rebekka with undisguised self-satisfaction, "I can already tell we'll get along beautifully."

Camille's nod in reply mirrored the whirl of her thoughts. It seemed that some banks were open all night.
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:45 AM
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Radeyah curbed the impatience that arose within her from being made to wait on Kallista's arrival to the Old Mint. Normally she would leave after waiting for much more than 15 minutes, but she had questions to ask, the kind that brooked no delay in their asking. She had little choice but to keep waiting this time.

When the sound of leisurely paced footfalls finally announced Kallista's arrival, Radeyah redoubled the effort of her will to keep from rushing to meet her. Since Kallista had made her wait, she could come to her.

"What is this about?" asked Kallista. "You said it was important."

"The Brujah are back in town," said Radeyah. "Mr. Johnson let them back in the city without batting an eyelash. Do you have any idea why?"

"No, why should I?" said Kallista. "Maybe Mr. Johnson just wanted to keep up appearances that he does not favor his own clan too much."

Well, that most likely rules out Kallista, thought Radeyah. I don't think she's bright enough to lie about something like that.

"They picked up a companion along the way, someone named Anneke. She's of our clan. Do you know her?"

Kallista shook her head. "Never heard of her. Is she an Anarch? Why did the Prince let her in the city if that's the case?"

"When did you first contact Gwynnis's network?" asked Radeyah.

"Where are you going with this, Radeyah? It doesn't sound very important to me."

"Just answer the question. Were you in touch with someone from the Justicar's network before last night?"

"No, of course not, why would I have been?" said Kallista.

"What do you know about Mr. Johnson's lineage?" said Radeyah.

"What? These questions aren't making any sense," said Kallista. She made as if to leave, but Radeyah blocked her path.

"Bear with me for a bit longer, Kallista. Who is Mr. Johnson's sire?"

"Elliott Sinclair," said Kallista. "You didn't need me to tell you that."

"No, I didn't," said Radeyah, "but would it surprise you to learn that Elliott's sire is none other than Anneke herself?"

Kallista's reaction rang in the affirmative, clear as a bell.

"The Prince's grand-sire is in town? Why would she attach herself to the rabble?"

"I don't know, but Mr. Johnson never made a peep about this fact. Very strange."

"I still don't see why this is so important," said Kallista. "Maybe Mr. Johnson just doesn't get on that well with his grand-sire. Maybe she hates the blues, or something."

Radeyah shook her head, partially in negation, partially in disbelief at her sister's political tone deafness.

"I don't think that's it," she said. "One more question -- would you care to hazard a guess as to who sired Anneke?"

Radeyah stifled another flash of impatience during the seemingly interminable wait for the spark of comprehension to appear in Kallista's eyes.

"The Anarchs have acquired a guardian angel?" Kallista asked at last.

"Or an avenging angel," said Radeyah. "One of our siblings had to have contacted a Toreador agent at some point, if my suspicions about Anneke are correct; recently, but before you did. One of our brothers, I would guess."

"Which one?" asked Kallista.

"I don't know for sure. Maybe Demetrious thought that Sammy and Ramiel were working together. You know our brothers don't get along that well. Maybe it's just Ramiel being an opportunistic bastard. Neither situation is particularly ideal for Prince Johnson, or those closest to him."

"Then you think Anneke is here to clean house?"

"It's a possibility, especially if she works with the sewer rat," said Radeyah, nose wrinkled slightly in distaste.

"Will it really come to that? That thing is hideous," said Kallista.

"He's busy with Sammy right now, but depending what he turns up, it's a possibility," said Radeyah.

"How much does Mr. Johnson know? Do we go to him?"

"I don't know," said Radeyah. "I'm pretty sure he recognizes his grand-sire by name, if not by sight. He may have a better idea about how fast Gwynnis could get one of her agents to town. It seems awfully fast to me, though. Now might not be the best time to appear to be too strongly affiliated with the prince."

Radeyah fancied that she could see the gears turning within Kallista's head after this last statement. Turning slowly, to be sure, but turning nonetheless. One big happy family they weren't, no matter how they tried to keep up appearances, and being a bit slow on the uptake did not preclude one from having ambition.

"If Mr. Johnson already knows about Anneke, going to him about her risks our tipping her off that we know for sure," said Kallista. "It can't hurt to just watch for now, I guess."

"Agreed," said Radeyah, "we're in no rush. Leaves us the option of going either way, depending how things fall out, and that's always nice."

"Well, it's a lot to think about," said Kallista after a moment's reflection. "I don't like going behind Mr. Johnson's back, but it may be necessary this time around. Is there anything else you want to talk about?"

"No, you're free to go now," said Radeyah. She enjoyed the brief but unmistakable annoyance that flashed across Kallista's face at her treatment as if she were a subordinate.

Once Kallista had taken her leave of the mint, a handsome figure stepped out of the shadows.

"Do you think you convinced her?" Ramiel asked.

"Enough to induce her to keep her distance from the Prince," replied Radeyah. "I don't think she'd make any overt moves against Mr. Johnson, but if the winds of change blow strongly enough, self-preservation will prevail."

"Good," said Ramiel, "she doesn't have to be our ally, but neither is it desirable for her to remain too strongly in the Prince's camp. She might be more effective as an unwitting dupe, anyways."

"And are your eyes on our illustrious sire's throne?" Radeyah asked.

"No, and if you'd care to heed a bit of unsolicited advice, yours shouldn't be either. It's all too true that those most strongly associated with Mr. Johnson's rule will be in for some tough sledding if a change in power does occur. That's only going to be amplified if one of us makes a bid to be his immediate successor."

Radeyah gave Ramiel a canny look.

"'His immediate successor.' Interesting that you should phrase things that way. You have some plans for your unwitting dupe?"

"Kallista could be useful as a stalking horse," Ramiel admitted. "If it comes to that, it might be worth it to reveal ourselves publicly in support of Kallista's ascension to the throne, and gauge the reaction."

"Her head certainly is pointy enough to serve as a lightning rod," Radeyah said with a dry chuckle.

"We should meet again after Sammy's meeting with the Justicar's delegation," said Ramiel with a faint smile. Radeyah simply shook her head in agreement to this and the two Kindred left in opposite directions.

A few minutes after the Toreador had finally cleared the building, a second figure emerged from the shadows, this one grotesquely gnarled in counterpoint to first hidden figure, now come and gone from the premises. Interesting times lay ahead for New Orleans, it seemed, and knowledge would be an invaluable commodity when they descended upon the city, come what may.
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Old 07-05-2008, 05:53 AM
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Helena Casimir, Prince of Houston, watched as one of her daughters poured her guest the first glass of this night's 4 am tea. Rare was the occasion when she was not first to be served, but the importance of this particular visitor necessitated the disruption of the usual routine. Tatiana also watched, knowing she would be the last served in this small gathering.

"We are honored that you are able to grace us with your presence at tea time, Justicar Walsh," she said in a demur voice. "I trust your journey was uneventful?"

"Quite so," came the reply, "although I gather from your question that some small amount of doubt entered your mind concerning this," said Arcadian.

And so the battle was joined, with dispatch. Helena knew full well that the Justicar's agents would have already apprised him of their difficulties on their way to the city a few nights ago, and that he knew that she knew. This conversation was going to require an adroit touch.

"It is regrettable what happened to your subordinates," she said, holding out her glass to be served, "but I am afraid that the unfortunate incident occurred in debated lands between Dallas and Houston."

"If you would claim them, you must give surety of passage through them," said Arcadian.

"Of course," said Helena. Little else could be said to that. She sipped at her tea to give her time to think.

"With all due respect, Justicar, my Prince," Tatiana said once her cup was filled, "this is an old discussion. More pressing matters present themselves.

"You cannot possibly believe this story about one of Mr. Johnson's childer attacking a Malkavian," she said to the Justicar. "What possible motive could there be for such an attack?"

Helena made certain that her countenance did not change, but she gave herself a little smile as Tatiana's concern for her fellow Toreador provided a much-welcome distraction.

"The circumstances do seem suspicious," Arcadian admitted, "but suspicion is not proof. Given the serious nature of the charges, a thorough investigation of the matter is warranted."

"But to send a Sewer Rat to investigate the Toreador!" Tatiana exclaimed. "That clan has ever been envious of our beauty and social graces. One might conclude that the choice of such an agent means that the investigation is supposed to turn up something on the Toredaor whether there is anything to be found or not."

"The Nosferatu," said Arcadian, emphasizing the clan's proper name, "are the most adept members of the Camarilla at ferreting out secrets. Surely you are not so blinded by hatred of that clan that you would have forgotten this point, Tatiana.

"Furthermore, I have every confidence in Leo's sense of fairness in this case. It can also be helpful to have the subjects of scrutiny be nudged a little off balance during this sort of investigation. If there is any substance to Miss Drake's complaint," said Arcadian, holding up a hand to forestall Tatiana's protest. "If there's anything to it, the Toreador distaste for the Nosferatu may be the edge that finally allows something to slip. I want every advantage I can get at my disposal, no matter how small."

"Is the participation of the Tremere in the investigation another of these advantages?" Helena asked. "Was it altogether wise to send an elder Tremere with your agent, Justicar? Rebekka can be very decisive in action when it suits her. Has Leo had that much experience in dealing with them?"

"I have every confidence in his ability to remain in control of the situation. The Tremere are stalwart supporters of the Camarilla. Rebekka will remember her place," said Arcadian.

The Justicar gave Tatiana a sharp look when a snort of disbelief escaped her lips. Helena knew there was no love lost there. Tatiana and Rebekka each had the wherewithal to rule Houston themselves, but they schemed against each other as frequently as each schemed against her, and perhaps even more often. She wondered what she would do if the Toreador and Tremere were to ever make peace here.

"I believe what Tatiana meant to say, Justicar, is that the Tremere are a most insular and secretive clan who view the Camarilla as nothing more than a vehicle through which to advance their own interests."

"Are they more self-interested than a prince who would make an entire city's Kindred population to be comprised solely of his descendants?"

"There is that," Helena was forced to admit. A gleefully malicious smile came upon Helena at seeing Tatiana so chastened.

"You might wish that it is Justicar Walsh's agent that gets to the bottom of whatever it is that is going on in New Orleans, Tatiana," said Helena, probing for another opening in which to place her stiletto. "Rumor has it that at least one of Gwynnis's agents has entered the city. I've never had the good fortune to meet any of her childer she has appointed as Archons, but I am given to believe that they can be nearly as precipitate as the Brujah if the situation calls for it.

"Rumor also has it that Prince Vitel has welcomed a sizable entourage recently arrived from Europe to Washington DC. From Paris, to be precise," said Helena, knowing the effect this last line would have.

"Gwynnis is stateside?" Tatiana asked in a breathless mixture of awe and horror.

"If rumor is to be believed," said Helena. "And I am willing to stake my undying existence on this," she continued, gazing at each of her guests in turn, "that the power of her childer is but a candle before the bonfire of her wrath." It took every ounce of her concentration to suppress the memory of the lesson she had received that lent her words such conviction.

"To the continued success of your agent's investigation," she said to Arcadian as she raised her cup in ironic salute before draining it in one gulp.

"Shall one of my daughters freshen your tea, Justicar?" asked Helena once she had licked the last droplets of vitae off her lips after finishing her own cup.
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:10 AM
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Anneke left House of Blues with a troubled mind. Such bits and pieces as she had been able to glean so far in her short time in New Orleans summed to a rather unpleasant conclusion. She needed to report what she had found, and a sounding board.

She was annoyed to hear only voice mail on her first call. Leaving a brief message, she went to her next choice.

"Hello, Anneke," said a female voice with a moderate French accent.

"Bonnie," said Anneke. "You are well? You are in Washington?"

"Yes, we have been received by Prince Vitel, and Pontifex Dorfman as well."

"And is Gwynnis with you?" Anneke asked.

"No, I am here with Dee Dee, but Gwynnis has seen fit to have one of her stand-ins make an appearance here in Washington. We traveled all the way from Paris like this. The Prince and Pontifex have been apprised of that particular situation," said Bonnie.

"Do you know where she is?"

"You know how she operates, Anneke, when she goes to ground, you don't find her unless she wants to be found. I would wager she is much closer to you than me, however," said Bonnie.

"I suppose you are right," Anneke said with a sigh. She had expected no other answer, but had hoped she was wrong. A wondrous and terrible thing at times, hope.

"There are agents of Justicar Walsh in New Orleans, apparently sent down to investigate claims of malfeasance between a Malkavian and one of the Prince's brood. They are visiting her haven tonight, before sunrise. There are no fewer than five Kindred that the regulars here have not seen except in the very recent past. Perhaps as short as a few days ago, no longer than a few weeks. They very well could have been Embraced but recently."

"Go on," said Bonnie after Anneke had paused to gather her words.

"When my traveling companions and I presented ourselves to Prince Johnson, one of Walsh's agents made mention of an encounter with a pack of Kindred led by a supposedly renegade Tremere named Lucian. The choice of words may have been coincidence, but I believe this group of Kindred is quite large."

"A Sabbat war party?" asked Bonnie. "Do you have any evidence to back up such a conclusion?"

"Nothing so definite, but there were most likely two Tremere at our presentation. I recognized Rebekka immediately, and am certain she recognized me as well. She had a younger associate with her, too, or so I assume. Thankfully she kept her own counsel concerning my identity, as did my grandchilde."

"Indeed? Rebekka is in New Orleans? I thought she was still in Munich."

"Not for some time, apparently. She was visibly upset at mention of Lucian's name. Few things I can think of that would crack her composure, but a Tremere antitribu lurking about would be one of them. Tremere typically don't defect to become Anarchs."

"No, they don't," said Bonnie. "There is more?"

"Yes, apparently one of the newcomers provoked one of Walsh's agents, a headstrong young Brujah, into a near-breach of the Masquerade. It is a typical Sabbat ploy to compromise the Masquerade as a prelude to an assault on a city."

That lesson had been learned at great cost in Detroit. An unbidden memory made its way to the surface of Anneke's thoughts. Had it really been nearly a quarter century since Sidana had met the Final Death during Devil's Night mayhem?

"Were they working together?" asked Bonnie.

"I don't know," said Anneke. "Only one of Walsh's agents is an Archon. I had a chance to read him briefly. He at least I do not think is a double agent. The girl on the other hand... I do not know."

"And what of the anarchs in the city?"

"They do seem to have some sort of filial concern towards the girl, but only in the manner that Brujah often exhibit. I would not suspect anything so untoward about them were a Masquerade breach not in play."

That at least would be different than in Detroit. She had had everything she could deal with when half the Detroit anarch population had come in on the side of the Sabbat.

"If it comes down to a War Party plus turncoat anarchs, will you be able to handle them all by yourself?" Bonnie asked.

More memories of Detroit floated to conscious thought. The prince and half the primogen council had been assassinated before anyone realized what was going on. The Chantry lay in flaming ruins by the time any coordinated resistance could be mustered.

It had not taken much longer for it to turn into a rout in which panicked Camarilla Kindred fled the city to keep their skins whole while she and Sidana had fought a desperate rear guard action to buy them time. Sidana's tale must have run to nearly three dozen enemy Kindred slain before she met her Final Death, more than thrice Anneke's own tally, a fact that still brought her shame to this night.

"Anneke?"

"I don't know," she answered in a small voice. Not a very good answer, but, 'I'll try my best,' seemed a wholly inadequate reply, too.

Collecting the fragments of her self-possession, she said, "if you hear from Gwynnis before I do, you must inform her of these findings. I must hang up now, my free time has run out."

"Au revoir, Anneke," said Bonnie before she disconnected.

Turning to head to the meeting place, she gasped as she ran into a what felt like a solid wall.

"We may still have a minute to spare," said Crusher with a crude leer as he offered a hand up, "if you don't mind spending it with me."
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