Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

[AP] Dying Young: A New Calais Chronicle

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • [AP] Dying Young: A New Calais Chronicle

    "The good die young. That is why immortality is reserved for the greatest of evils." - Daniel Baldwin


    New Calais, 1991
    It’s said that the South is haunted by its own landscape and nowhere is that truer than in the bayous of Louisiana, where cities only just keep the natural world at bay and the dead refuse to lay beneath the soggy earth.


    New Calais is the second largest city in Louisiana, as well as one of its oldest; founded on the western bank of the Mississippi River by French architect Philippe du Lac in the early part of the 18th century and its oldest families date back just as far.

    The city is known for its ties to industry, with Northridge Industries, an aerospace manufacturer and the two pharmaceutical giants, White Heart and TS Pharmaceuticals having their American headquarters here, but like many industrial cities, New Calais has fallen on hard times. The collapse of the auto industry hit the aero-space industry just as hard, and Northridge nearly closed in the mid-eighties.

    Then there’s the crime; gangs are a serious problem in New Calais, as is the drug trade, though the majority of violence can only be found in the Green Lawn, Midland and West Clay neighborhood of the city. Drugs aren’t held to any such boundaries and the city’s Coke, Crack and Heroin consumption is thrice the national average, even as newer, stranger drugs such as Solace and Pigment hit the market.

    And there are stranger things still.

    Blood Cults, ritualistic murders, unsolvable mass killings, a rash of disappearances back in 1984, the haunted riverfront, the packs of wild dogs that watch people conspiratorially as they go about their business.

    The city is a dark place, its shadows are full of secrets.

    And then there is Bishopsgate. The recently annexed city turned suburb has fallen on hard times with the near collapse of Northridge, who employed nearly the entire town. Full of old glory, ancient, rotting plantations and lost hope, the near-dead satellite of a dying city is no place to call home. Bishopsgate's population has dropped precipitously from nearly 300,000 in 1960 to just over 150,000 today and things aren't looking good for it.


    I'll let the characters introduce themselves...


    Episode 1 – The White Ball

    Chrissy looked around the twin bedroom with stars in her eyes, the muted peach and pink wallpaper, the matching white vanities and wardrobes, even the matching white bedspreads, all of it was both saccharin sweet and wholly perfect.

    She had a good feeling about this year. Rush week had been a wild ride, and now she was being inducted into the Mu Sigma Chi Sorority, one of the most prestigious sororities at Talbot University, and one of the most mysterious.

    Tonight, to end rush week, she was going to the infamously mysterious White Ball, a welcoming party held jointly by the Mu Sigmas and their sibling Fraternity Tau Delta Alpha. She’d heard about it when she came to the school, no one knew where or when the party took place. All anyone knew for sure was that it existed at all, though there were rumors of a secret ceremony that took place, that there was an elite even among the elite.

    If it was true, Chrissy’s new friends, no, her new sisters, AJ, Erica and Gemma would know. They were so cool and beautiful and everything that Chrissy felt she wasn’t. And they said that she was those things too.

    AJ was beautiful, her skin dark and shining, and her hair was a kinky mass of curls that rose and fell around her face like a mane or a queen’s headdress. Her eyes were the color of honey and she had the body of a dancer, which was currently sheathed in a tight white dress trimmed with tulle.

    Gemma, AJ’s roommate, was her opposite in nearly every way. Tall and built like a cat, the statuesque blonde moved with the grace of a predator even in her mermaid gown with its plunging neckline. Her burnished gold hair was pulled up into a French twist and, as always, she wore her strand of pearls.

    “They’re heirlooms, they’ve been in the family for generations.” She said as she plucked a stray hair from her eyelashes.

    “But you could wear anything else,” said Erica, who herself was rocking a white sequined A-line cocktail dress, her naturally curly pale blonde hair was pulled up to give it even more volume. She could have been Gemma’s sister, they were so similar, though she was smaller than Gemma. They were both cheerleaders and it showed in their physiques. “Hold still.”

    Erica was currently trying to tease Chrissy’s pixy haircut into something fuller.

    Chrissy was, herself, wearing an A-line dress, not a short one like Erica, and without the sequins. She liked the way it accentuated her athletic legs and back, while making her feel feminine.

    “Now, this is a party, but only recently have they dropped the White-Tie rule, so we’re all dressed appropriately,” Gemma said, eyeing Erica’s characteristic rhinestone white tennis shoes. Erica smirked at her friend’s faux ire.

    “It’s important to remember that this party is for you, so you’re not there to sit and look pretty, but you’re also there to represent us, so don’t go too wild,” AJ added, remembering that Tau Delta that almost got kicked out the year before. Ah, to be a legacy.

    “And no one talks about where it is held,” Erica added, “we never talk about it.” She didn’t sound particularly convincing.

    There was loud banging at the door and it burst open, revealing the sorority president Annie Hoover. She was tall and severe and beautiful and was currently violently red.

    “What the hell is this!” she demands, chucking a balled up piece of blue paper at Gemma.

    “I don’t know, Annie,” Gemma said, unfolding the blue piece of trash.

    Her eyes grew wide as she read it.

    Tau Delta Alpha and Mu Sigma Chi

    Presents

    THE WHITE BALL

    The Fairway Plantation
    Friday, Oct. 5
    9pm

    Featuring
    The Ark of Creation
    and
    Abby Sweeney & the Sweetmeats

    All are welcome | 9pm | $10

    Gemma didn’t make a sound as she passed the flyer to AJ.

    “Oh…oh no.” AJ said, passing it off to Erica and Chrissy.

    “I… I don’t understand,” Chrissy said.

    Erica just read it quietly, staring.

    “They’re all over campus!” Annie screamed.

    “So much for a secret,” Gemma said

    “Someone’s in trouble,” AJ added before looking at their pledge, “I hope this wasn’t you.”

    “I didn’t know where it was,” Chrissy said, still not entirely sure where it was.

    “Is it some kind of joke?” Gemma asked the room, but when her eyes fell on Erica her heart leapt into her throat.

    Erica, the girl with the best chance, after AJ, of drawing the White Ball this year, one of the two girls she’d voted on as a member of the Ashwood Society, was sobbing quietly.

    “What were you thinking?” Annie asked accusingly.

    “Why?” AJ demanded.

    “You. Idiot!” Gemma said.

    The girl broke into sobs.

    “I don’t know, I just thought… what did I do? Oh God, I thought it would be a good idea, Annie and you are always talking about fundraisers and I thought it would be a way of making some money,” she wailed, never taking her eyes off of the flyer. “Oh god, oh god what did I do? What did I do Gemma?”

    “I don’t know, Erica, what did you do?”

    “Whose idea was this?” AJ asked her.

    “Mine!”

    “Are you sure,” she asked incredulously, “because this doesn’t seem like one of your ideas.”

    “It was your idea to make a flyer to make our party public?” Gemma asked.

    “I just thought,” she trailed off, her voice becoming very small, “the parties are always so tame, I thought it would give us a breath of fresh air.”

    “I’m never going to get the White Ball now,” AJ said to no one in particular, “never, you ruined it.”

    The White Ball wasn’t just a party, it was a ceremony in which two girls (and two guys from Tau-Delta) were chosen each year to join the elite few. No one talked about it, but at exclusive functions those chosen wore a special pin instead of their sorority pin, a pin like the one Gemma was wearing right now, a stylized A that reminded AJ of those funny decals that the Freemasons put on their cars.

    Gemma had been chosen the year before as a freshman, the youngest to draw the ball in 17 years. And she evidently felt that there was something about AJ and Erica that made her believe that they should draw it too.

    But maybe not.

    “In the entire 54 year history of our chapter this Ball has been utter secret!” Gemma said.

    “Didn’t you just remind Chrissy that it was important to keep the ball a secret?” AJ demanded, “and you made a flyer? With a cover charge!”

    “I forgot!” Erica exclaimed.

    “How do you forget something like this?” AJ demanded.

    “I don’t know!”

    “Whatever drugs you’re on,” AJ added, “you need to not be on them anymore.”

    “Just for clarity: how did you forget you made a flyer?” Chrissy asked,

    She was convinced that the older girl truly didn’t remember but for the life of her couldn’t fathom how.

    “It just slipped my mind,” Erica said, getting control of herself, “I’ve been so busy and…”

    “How many flyers did you put up?” Gemma asked

    “Uh…”

    “Oh, god.” AJ said putting her face in her hands.

    “fifty-four, one for every year the sorority has been on campus,” Erica said, “I thought it was poetic. You said we needed a fundraiser I thought this was a good way to do it.”

    “So we throw a bikini car wash, we don’t make the Ball public!” Gemma was getting angrier.

    “No one is supposed to know, Erica,” AJ yelled, “No one is supposed to be there but us!”

    “I don’t know what the council’s going to do, Erica,” Gemma said

    “What if we just shaved her bald now and called it a night?” AJ quipped.

    Gemma didn’t see the humor, “there are going to be serious consequences for this, Erica.”

    As if on cue, the door swung open with a perfunctory knock, it was Annie again.

    “The ball is still on, but she better not be anywhere near it.” She said to Gemma.

    AJ was still fuming, “Everything’s ruined.”
    ***


    The ER had been packed and Aaron’s name had meant nothing to the petty bureaucrat in the puce scrubs. He’d been at the old Sheridan retreat, on the edge of the Bayou Plaquemine north-west of New Calais at the very edge of the so-called “College Town” neighborhood, and of the city itself. The ancient plantation house had belonged to the family since before the civil war, and hadn’t been given away by Julian Sheridan, unlike the far more famous Green Lawn plantation. Instead it had been allowed to die ignominiously, slowly being devoured by the bayou.

    Aaron wasn’t sure he’d ever forgive his family for letting the house fall apart, but that didn’t mean that he knew much about fixing it either.

    Oh, sure, he was an architecture student, but he was just getting started.

    Luckily Cap, one of the men who was working on his place, and a fellow student at Talbot University, had been there to pick him up when he fell off the ladder.

    Kapueo “Cap” Ka’ana’ana was a Hawaiian military brat whose dad had been grooming him to join the Marines like his father before him, but who had decided to go into engineering instead. He stood nearly six inches taller than Aaron and looked like Captain America if Captain America had spent his life on a beach. He’d been removing a hapless tree from the floor of the second floor of the mansion when he saw Aaron slip off the ladder, slamming his head into the top rung and falling eighteen feet to the ground before the ladder fell down on him as well.

    “Finger check.” Cap said, holding up a hand in front of his boss-cum-friend.

    “Fuck, man, I don’t know,” Aaron said, “Gimme a second to think about it.”

    Aaron was, in many ways, the opposite of Cap. Small, wiry, and pale enough to freckle in the Louisiana sun, the two looked like an odd pair. Cap was dressed in work clothes, while Aaron was dressed for the classroom, though he too was wearing a great deal of denim, cotton and leather.

    The curtain pulled aside to reveal the patriarchal doctor in glasses, his name tag was covered by his coat.

    “Alright, Mr. Sheridan, I’m going to prescribe you some medicine for the pain. I don’t want you drinking anything stronger than a glass of wine for the next few days while you’re taking this, okay?”

    “So… would you say that LSD is stronger or weaker than a glass of wine, doc?” Cap asked.

    The doctor narrowed his eyes.

    “I didn’t do drugs!”

    “I mean, are mushrooms technically drugs, Doctor?” Cap asked.

    “Dude, you are not helping.” Aaron said, “My name probably already made him think I was bad news.”

    It was true: the Sheridans were professional rich kids, coming from money that went all the way back to before the revolution, who had a reputation for being particularly hedonistic in their hobbies and habits. And Aaron was no different in this regard. But he also loved that old house and dammit, he was going to fix it up right.

    “Sorry, I’ll cut it out,” Cap said.

    “Son, I understand you were trying to have some fun with your friend here,” the doctor glowered at the larger man, “but if your shenanigans get in the way of my patient’s diagnosis, I will have you removed from this hospital, do you understand me?”

    “Yes, sir,” Cap said, “I understand.”

    The doctor turned to Aaron and, in the same frank brutal tone said “you got a good friend here, trying to keep you distracted from what must be a great deal of pain.”

    Aaron agreed, and decided that maybe having someone like Cap around might do him some good.

    “You’ve been here a bit longer than you should have been in my opinion,” the doctor said, noting that they’d spent the better part of four hours in the hospital, “check out at the front desk, and enjoy your weekend.”

    They were walking towards Cap’s truck when Aaron noticed a flyer.

    “Hot damn!” he said to Cap.

    “What?”

    “The White Ball” he said, “my brother was a Tau-Delta, and they had that party every year. I always wanted to go, then junior year he was “chosen” for something and wouldn’t talk about the party anymore. I’ve still never gone to a party.

    “Cool?”

    “It’s always been private.” Aaron said, thinking about how nervous his brother got whenever it got brought up after getting chosen, “we need to go!”

    “To what?”

    “The Ball, man it’s a party! Booze, women and music.”

    “I’m up for scoring some chicks.”

    “Then let’s get going, we gotta change.”
    ***


    Ashley enjoyed doing her own thing. She enjoyed the freedom of her job as a graphic designer at Dulac Designs, being able to freely create what she wanted (within reason, of course). She’d been working diligently on this project all week and she’s doing okay with it. Nothing that Robbie would be mad over, but she wouldn’t be particularly proud of either. Robbie was reasonable as far as reasonable taskmasters went.

    When lunch came, Robbie and a few of the other girls asked her if she wanted to go to Barrister’s for a slice of pizza but Ashley declined, like usual. She did her own thing and headed over toward Zvi’s deli. She could smell the deli a block over when she nearly slipped on something. It was a blue piece of paper that had been walked on to the point of being almost illegible. But she could make it out well enough.

    The White Ball. Assuming it wasn’t something racist, which she doubted, it probably meant she should wear white. She wouldn’t mind seeing Abby Sweeney and the Sweetmeats or the Arks of Creation and a $10 cover charge wasn’t bad for a couple of great bands.

    The rest of the day went by in a blur as Ashley imagined rushing home to shower and slip into something a little more “High Class”.

    She got out of work just as the sun slipped below the horizon and she glanced up as she waited at a stoplight at Pershing Boulevard and Spaniard Street. She didn’t usually notice sunsets, but the sun had slipped behind the trees of Dulac Park and the high rises that surrounded it and as she watched the sunlight bathed the world in a swirl of gold and red and violet before snuffing those lights out and leaving her in autumnal twilight.

    A chill seemed to creep down her spine and Ashley, in that moment, felt more alone than she ever had in her whole life. For the first time she wished she hadn’t gone her own way. That she was with friends or family… and then it was gone. She was just waiting for a long overdue green light during rush hour.

    She settled for an oversized white sweater and white leggings she’d bought for a Halloween costume. Some white sneakers and pale makeup pulled the costume together and she was ready to go. She even grabbed a white scrunchie that she wore as a bracelet.

    By the time she’d left for the Ball it was full dark and she was nervous about getting lost. She’d never been so far north of the city, and still hadn’t even mapped all of it out since coming here at the beginning of the year.

    She was startled by how just 10 minutes on the road and passing under an underpass could be like night and day but as she approached the town of Bishopsgate the state of decay was startling.

    The underpass for one was decades old, and exposed rebar could be seen like exposed bone in the broken and graffitied stone of its structure. The town, or city as it called itself, was a near-wasteland. She only passed down Main Street and what appeared to be a major thoroughfare called l’Evêque Avenue and all she saw were fast food places and shuttered storefronts. Even the Burger King was shut down.

    She’d gotten directions to the old plantation house from a neighbor, and an city atlas in case those turned out bad, but still she was getting nervous when the old state road sign that read “Fairway Drive” and then almost drove past the dirt road it had been warning her about, on the left.

    Fairway Drive went on for nearly 2 miles and a part of her was pretty sure she’d nearly driven a full circle toward Bishopsgate again. Five long, winding miles of wilderness, with almost no stars to light the road. She’d been forced to slam on her brakes twice, once for a possum, and once for what turned out to be a shadow, but eventually she came to what she must have been looking for on the right side of the road.

    It was a pair of brick posts, each lit with an old-fashioned lantern, though the closest was set apart with an old iron sign that read, simply, “Fairway, 1848”.

    This drive was more of a trail and she worried about bottoming out, but it seemed that someone had recently come through and tamped down and oiled the old dirt road, making it a little easier on the chassis.

    By the time she’d gotten half a mile, yes, half a mile, down the driveway she could hear the beat of the music and could see lights ahead.

    By the time she drove onto the lawn she could recognize the sound of the Arks of Creation doing a cover of some heavy metal song she didn’t recognize.

    She pulled her shabby blue Volvo up next to a sporty white Porsche, in fact, most of the cars were white.

    “THEY’RE TIRED OF BEING PUSHED AROUND/ AND TOLD JUST WHAT TO DO/” Sang the sultry lead singer of the Arks of Creation.

    Even an hour before the party was supposed to officially start, the yard was already almost full of cars. With a few exceptions, like her own 240, the cars were all just cleaned and high end. The nicest of which were the kinds you only saw in movies, and never parked on someone’s yard. A few of the cars had professional drivers, but most were left alone, save one black Cadillac that was rocking at quite a pace.

    The plantation itself was old and broken down, and though it was, no doubt once very beautiful, its current state was one of extreme disrepair. Its overgrown garden had begun to die, giving the house the look of a captive beast. Its dingy gray paint showed hints of having once been a pale, robin’s egg blue, its vast wraparound porch still showed places where the white paint clung stubbornly but was otherwise exposed to the elements. The porch was as ancient and, frankly, dangerous as it was populated by numerous beautiful people, all of them holding flutes of wine or tumblers of dark liquid. Just as she expected, they were all dressed in white.

    Ashley smiled at herself as she approached the doors, which were similarly ancient, but were manned by two members of the Tau-Deltas, if their lapel pins meant anything.

    “Welcome to the White Ball,” said one of them, a handsome man with penetrating green eyes and long black hair.

    She smiled at him as she slipped past him, flattered that he didn’t take her cover.

    “AND LOVE COMES FLOWING THROUGH” the song was coming to an end and Ashley was gob smacked.

    The inside of the plantation was nothing like she expected.

    Most of the interior walls had been removed, with a few replaced with exposed wood columns to transform it into a single massive dance club. Large staircases lined the walls on both sides of the floor, curling around to reach the upper floor, which had been converted into a balcony stage where the band was starting another song. Beneath the staircases sumptuous couches and benches had been aligned to create dimly lit booths for more private parties.

    The entire back wall, which had probably once been the dining room, had been converted into a massive open kitchen and staging area where a chef, crew and waitstaff were working double time walking trays of hors d'oeuvres and flutes of wine and other drinks.

    Ashley kept on the move. She was normally quiet and adept at going unnoticed, but here, despite blending in, something seemed off enough to draw eyes and more than a few people gave her strange looks.

    Around the time that the party started in earnest, a tall, athletic man with spiked hair and a white tux approached her.

    “Hey, how you doin’, girl?” he asked jocularly but the smile didn’t touch his eyes which were cast grimly in the low light of the house.

    “I’m doing well” she said, cheerfully, flashing a big smile, “how are you?”

    “Oh, I’m doing really good!” he said too quickly, “Can you believe all these hangers-on they got coming in here?”

    She looked around and immediately noticed what he was talking about, many of the newer guests were dressed in garish colors or street clothes, apparently they didn’t get the hint of the party’s name. Strange that he would take such offense to it.

    Then a thought started to form in the back of her head. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to be here, maybe none of them were. Maybe she was crashing the party.

    “Oh,” she said under her breath, pulling the flyer to her pocket. “Someone gave this to me, I thought I was invited. I mean it thought it was weird that no one wanted my money, but I’m not crashing or anything am I?”

    He smiled at her patronizingly, “Yeah, we don’t know who put those up but this is a private party. We’re going to have to ask you to leave.”

    “Oh,” she looked down at his chest as she thought of her next move and noticed that in place of a Tau-Delta lapel pin he wore a strange “A” pin.

    She furrowed her brow at the sight of it, and then it dawned on her.

    She began to cry. Not big heavy tears, just a few, but enough. The big guy scoffed at first and then thought better of it.

    “Look, hey,” he said, his hand going to her shoulder protectively, “I wasn’t trying to make you cry, it’s not personal and we know you weren’t trying to crash, but it really is a private party.”

    She shook her head as if she were trying to clear the tears.

    “How about this, how about this, you promise to pledge to the Mu-Sigmas and I’ll let you be my date,” he said, pulling a white silk handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiping away her tears “I mean, I’m technically working the venue tonight, but I can’t stand the thought of making you cry so… uh… hi, I’m Dane.”

    Dane was charming in a simple sort of way. She didn’t follow football, but everyone else seemed to and Ashley quickly learned that he was a bit of a celebrity.

    She wanted to simply watch people, but he was a little more outgoing than that and she was quickly introduced to most of the people at the party.

    “Yeah, this is Ashley,” Dane would say to one friend, “we met at the Baron’s game, I threw her my jersey and she threw it back.”

    “This is my friend Ashley,” he would say to another, “we met at the roller derby. Yeah, no, she totally took this bertha out and sent her flying into me. Totally worth the pain.”

    Everyone they met got a different, often bizarre story, and before long Ashley was doing his thing. Telling stories about how Dane had helped her find an obscure text in the library or came into model at Dulac Designs, which was odd because there was no need for models there, or the time they met when she saved him from a shark at Fort Lauderdale and just like that Ashley was having the time of her life.
    ***


    Gemma parked her white 325i convertible next to a similar vehicle. She and AJ walked into the party arm and arm, the taller blond propping up her shyer and more reserved friend, reminding her to exude the confidence she felt.

    AJ for her part was rocking the tulle dress she’d worn, and needed little help in that department, even their pledge Chrissy, who insisted on walking two steps behind them, walked in like she’d owned the place making the two roommates smile.

    “It’s a shame so many outsiders crashed,” Gemma said, “the council will probably insist we change venues going forward.”

    “That sucks,” AJ said, “I liked it here.”

    “Welcome to the 90’s, where nothing’s sacred,” then Gemma brightened, “but then again, it might give us an excuse to use the Fairbanks.”

    “Ooh,” AJ said, giggling at her friend’s innate sense of extravagance before adding, “But it won’t be the same as having a ‘SECRET. PLANTATION. HIDEOUT’.”

    The three girls laughed together at AJ’s surprisingly deep baritone before breaking into the crowd.

    They were on their way to the bar when they were intercepted by a young man in a brown raincoat and wraparound sunglasses. His face was deeply tanned, and his features were sort of pinched, like a bulldog’s. His hair was straight but clipped short and he had it so lacquered that Gemma thought that she might be able to see her reflection. Underneath his brown coat he wore a black suit, tie and shirt but she could only tell because of his collar since his coat was tied tightly around his waist, and finally he wore a pair of black leather gloves that seemed to just make the ensemble pop.

    “Hello ladies,” He said, his voice as greasy as his hair.

    “Good evening,” Gemma said, “I’m sorry but I don’t recognize you. May I have your name?”

    The man took her hand in his own and shook it gently, his thumb rubbing over the back of her fingers.

    “Name’s Zachariah!” he purred, as she pulled her hand back. “Got your flyer, couldn’t help but come and catch a peek, and I gotta say, it’s a cool party, girls, real cool.”

    The way he leered at her made a shiver run down AJ’s spine and she shuddered.

    “Why thank you, Zachariah,” Gemma said, “But there seems to have been a mistake. There’s a strict dress code for this party.”

    “Oh,” he demurred, theatrically pulling the flyer from his raincoat, “but I didn’t see that on the flyer.”

    “You could have inferred it from the flyer,” AJ snapped.

    “Oh, I just assumed it was a bunch of racists.” Zachariah said quickly.

    “Wow.” AJ said.

    “You would think that,” Gemma said, “Wouldn’t you.”

    AJ pulled Gemma close and whispered rather loudly “Don’t we have a bouncer for this sort of thing?”

    “We’ve never been in this position before.” Gemma said back through clenched teeth.

    “Well,” AJ said to the creepy little man, “I have to be going, I have more important things to do.”

    “But there’s so much I want to talk to you about.” He purred back.

    “Creep.” She said, storming off.

    “If you’ll excuse, we have things to attend to,” Gemma said, making sure that Chrissy followed her.

    “See you later, girls.” He drew that last word out into a hiss.

    “Oh God.” Chissy said as she fled.

    “We might have to kill Erica for this, AJ,” Gemma said.

    “Slowly.” She agreed.

    As they walked away Gemma saw Dane Baker, the linebacker for the Talbot U. Barons and a fellow member of the Ashwood Society, moving to intercept the creep. She flicked her Ashwood pin and he brushed his own in response. A curt nod between fellows.

    She was surprised to find him with a date, like her he always chose to go stag to Society functions. Especially the White Ball.

    “Good for him.” she thought, noting that the girl was rather pretty.

    “Its people like you that fed my uncle to the ovens!” Zacharia called out as he was pushed toward the door.

    A few members of the Tau-Deltas began chanting “Attica! Attica! Attica!” as he left.

    “I’m going to find Annie, meet back up later?” Gemma asked

    “Yeah, see ya,” AJ said, kissing her roommate on the cheek, “I got the kid.”

    It didn’t take long for them to reach the bar, even through the din of people that were growing as the night went on. There were nearly 200 people at the party tonight, far more than would normally be in attendance.

    The bartender was another member of the Ashwood Society, an alumnus who volunteered to make drinks along with his two barbacks who were caterers. “What can I get you two young ladies?”

    “Anything without alcohol would be nice,” Chrissy said, softly,

    “I want all of the alcohol, garcon,” AJ said, “get her a shot.”

    “No, thank you,” Chrissy said, “I have practice in the morning.”

    “Oh, yeah,” AJ nodded, “I’ll take hers too.”

    “You’re going to have to specify the kind of alcohol you would like me to get you,” the bartender said wryly, “this isn’t a movie.”

    “Champagne will do.”

    The bartender glanced up at a tray of flutes sitting on the bar not a foot away from the sophomore.

    “Oh,” she laughed, “right.”

    “You said you have to swim tomorrow?” the bartender asked Chrissy, pouring her a tumbler of water.

    “I do,” she said, realizing that he recognized her.

    “Good luck,” he said, the sincerity written on his face.

    “Thanks.”

    While AJ got drinks, Gemma tracked down the sorority president. She found her talking to her date, Louis, a tall thin man with long black hair and piercing green eyes.

    “So, a certain element has been introduced to our little party,” Gemma said.

    Louis looked at her with those piercing eyes, eyes that were oddly red this evening before stretching “What” into two syllables.

    “I’m not talking to you tonight, Louis,” She responded before turning to look solely at Annie.

    “You sister’s rude, Annie.” Louis said trying to turn the chapter president’s attention back to himself.

    “Shut up Louis,” She said, causing Gemma to laugh. “Oh, it’s not so bad, Gemma, we have a few Tau Deltas acting as bouncers for all the worst elements, over all I think it’s gone splendidly. I mean, Louis here has thus far been the worst part of my night.”

    “Hey,” he said, rousing the energy necessary to be insulted. “I didn’t need to be here with you. You asked me out.”

    “You tell her, Louis.” Said a random Tau as he walked past.

    The girls rolled their eyes.

    “So, just steer the worst of them towards the Tau Deltas?”

    “Pretty much,” Annie said, “as long as they’re all out by 1am for the ceremony I’ll be happy. Though some members of the Ashwood Society are very displeased.”

    “So we will be going forward with the ceremony?” Gemma asked.

    Annie nodded, “the ritual will move forward and by the witching hour the Ashwood Society will have four new members.”

    “As it was foretold.” Louie said.

    Gemma grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing tray and swallowed the contents in one pull before setting it back down on another passing tray.

    “How many is that, Gemma?”

    “I don’t know, two, maybe three.”

    “It’s showing,” Annie said. “This isn’t your fault, Erica just isn’t ready. She proved that with this stunt. There’s no reason to ruin your reputation in mourning her future.”

    That was about as warm and cuddly as Annie got and Gemma appreciated it.

    “Well I might as well make the best out of it.” She said, noticing her own slurred speech.

    “Make sure you’re ready for tonight.”

    Just then the doors burst open.


    Call Me Ray.

    Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

    Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

  • #2
    The doors thrust open and a figure slid into the room. He wore a tuxedo sans jacket and matching top hat and carried with him a stone headed white cane.

    Seeing and hearing his entrance the band cut their rendition of whatever they were playing and started on their own take of “Putting on the Ritz”.

    Aaron Sheridan had arrived.

    Cap stood beside him in borrowed clothes that were just slightly too small, just too tight to look like he did it himself.

    “I told you it would work.” Aaron whispered to him.

    “The Cap’n is here!” Kapueo bellowed into the crowd, “let the party begin!”

    Aaron’s soul died a little, knowing that a second outburst would be a bridge too far. He glanced around the room and saw no fewer than three largish men moving through the crowd toward them.

    “Excuse me friend,” said the largest of the three, an intense looking blond man wearing a white tuxedo not unlike Aaron’s, “but you just don’t seem to be Tau Delta material.”

    “But I could be,” Cap said.

    “But you’re not.”

    Aaron stepped between the two mountains of muscle, “excuse me, but what’s your name friend?”

    “See, that’s the problem,” the lug said, “you would know my name if you were Taus.”

    “And you would know my name if you gave it a second.”

    The guy narrowed his eyes. “Oh, geez guys, this is Evan’s brother.”

    The other two guys laughed and smacked him on the back, “Oh dude, why didn’t you say something sooner! Saul, go get Evan, tell him his brother’s here.”

    Oh hell, Aaron thought as he cringed away from the big guy.

    “No, no, don’t be scared,” the big guy said, “Evan’s been talking about you for years.”

    Evan walked up and smiled at his brother. He was the largest of the three brothers, with dark shoulder length hair and a cocky grin that never left his face. It was hard to imagine that the man was hard as stone and Aaron was terrified of him.

    “Big Brother,” Aaron smiled, “how ya doin’ tonight?”

    “Well, little brother” Evan began, “it’s been a rough night. We’ve had a lot of gate crashers. Can you believe that?”

    “You know,” Aaron parried, “considering that I was under the impression that you guys were finally opening the doors for everyone, I thought the party needed a Sheridan.”

    “And me,” Cap added, “the Cap’n.”

    “Let’s face it, bro,” Aaron laughed, “this guy’s a walking party.”

    “All right, lets get these guys out of here, it’s getting late.” Evan said to the others.

    “Woah, woah.”

    “What?”

    “I can’t spend time with the brother I didn’t even know was in town? Does mom know?” Aaron asked, “C’mon, Evan, lets get a drink, what’s the worst that could happen?”

    Evan’s smirk was audible as he turned and pushed his brother toward the door. But before Aaron could even right himself there was a crash at the door, and everything went black.
    ***


    Gemma couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t see. What was happening? Something heavy was pressing down on her chest, her arms, her legs. She dug her fingers into it and realized it was dirt.

    She was underground. Oh god. Don’t panic, she told herself, but as she struggled against the weight of the raw earth, as she failed to find purchase in the wet muddy Louisiana dirt, she felt herself fall to panic. She tried to scream and her mouth filled with dirt. She began to kick and thrash trying to get out and felt more weight.

    Oh god! They’re still burying me, she thought. She felt cool hands clutch her left arm, gripping her tightly. She was moving through the earth and into the light.

    Except that there was no light. It was still night and there was no moon in the sky, and even the stars were hidden in the haze of the city lights. The man holding her hand was large and she could barely see him in the dark.

    He was tall, standing over six feet, with black hair and dark, dusky skin covered in mud. His eyes looked black in the dark.

    “Let’s get you out of there, babe.” He said as she stood up.

    “What happened?” she asked as she looked around.

    The big guy shrugged.

    Gemma looked around and saw faces she barely recognized from the party. The big guy had come in just moments before she’d blacked out. The man standing next to him stood an inch shorter than her, his white tux black with dirt and mud. His freckled mud streaked face was pale, no doubt from the horror of having been buried alive. His eyes were a near perfect mix of green and blue and then it occurred to her that she could see the color of his eyes, even in the dark.

    She was so distracted by the fact that she almost didn’t hear the sound of something, someone under her feet.

    It sounded so familiar that…

    “AJ!” She cried, falling to her knees to dig her friend out.

    Chrissy and the girl in the muddy sweater were already on their knees, cupping their hands into claws to better dig Gemma’s roommate out of the mud. AJ came up vomiting dirt and mud, and something else that smelled so very good.

    “What’s happening?” AJ asked her as they stood up.

    “I don’t know. But my dress is ruined.” Gemma said, scraping at her clothes, “this was cashmere!”

    The other girl, the one in the sweater, came over and began to paw at her, shaking her head solemnly as if at the loss of the fabric.

    “You’re making it worse!” Gemma squealed.

    “I’m sorry,” the girl said back, “I’m trying to help!”

    AJ stared at the ground, her eyes shifting over the mounds of earth around them, “Where are we?”


    “Did you hear that?” the shorter boy asked before Gemma could respond.

    And she did, her head whipped around to the sound of twigs breaking and rustling branches.

    “Over here,” someone whispered. It was a girl.

    “We shouldn’t be out here, man.” A deeper, masculine, voice slurred.

    “I’m telling you,” someone else said, “we buried them over here somewhere.”

    “What the hell?” Gemma heard herself ask.

    “Shut up,” the girl said, “there’s no point in leaving all that money behind.”

    Gemma and the shorter kid had already crept toward the sound of the voices.

    “Aaron, where’re you going?” the big guy asked in a whisper, “we need to run.”

    The sound of footfalls behind her were followed by the sounds of a struggle, and she couldn’t take her eyes off the bushes.

    “Get off me,” the bigger guy said, “what the heck, babe.”

    “Stop!” came the voice of the girl in the sweater.

    Suddenly the shorter boy, Aaron, was rushing forward, toward the bushes. Gemma followed.

    They pounded through the bushes to find a small group of people, two girls and four men, dressed in dark clothes. One of them was holding a whisky bottle, Johnny Walker Red, and was clearly drunk, holding onto a tree branch for dear life. The other was holding a pair of shovels.

    And she recognized a few of them. Asia and Tyra from the sorority, both Society members who had graduated the year before.

    And Asia was wearing Gemma’s grandmother’s pearls. She couldn’t see anything else. Just her grandmother’s pearls, getting bigger and bigger in her vision.

    There was a sharp pain in her lip.

    Asia screamed as realization dawned on her.

    “Those are my grandma’s pearls, you bitch!” Gemma hissed but nothing came out of her mouth.

    Faster than she could react Gemma was on her; the girl’s body was fever-hot and full of life. She felt the life flowing into her, even as her vision faded, even as the world around her collapsed into the sound of a single beating heart.

    And then the heart began to slow, the all-consuming heat began to ebb even as it spread through her limbs. She knew she could draw all of it out of her, drain the heat, the life from her and…her?

    Quickly she pulled away as thought returned to her.

    Asia’s body crumpled to the ground, but Gemma knew she was still alive, she could still hear the heart in her chest pumping. Gemma reached down and unclasped the pearls from around the girl’s neck.

    As she fastened the string around her own neck, Gemma came fully into her senses and realized that she was standing over Asia, the girl who had trained her in using a spear. Asia who had been there after the disaster that was her sophomore relationship with Carl Hanson.

    Gemma turned to see the girl in the sweater pulling on Aaron, who had his face buried in the drunk’s neck. The girl’s own face was bone white and her clenched teeth were sharp.

    “Let go, you asshole!” She was growling.

    “Oh, god.” Gemma said, running her tongue over her own wickedly sharp teeth as Aaron’s hand lashed out almost of its own volition, grabbing the girl’s face and pushing her back with incredible, unnatural force.

    Aaron pulled away from the drunk, his own pale face now streaked with as much blood as it was mud.

    Everything was brighter, louder.

    The girl was picking herself up off the ground when they heard footsteps approaching.

    The three of them turned and saw a tall man wearing a simple gray sports jacket over a blue button down and jeans. He was handsome in a common sort of way, with graying black hair at his temples and crow’s feet in the corners of his kind blue eyes. His skin was too pale. His heart wasn’t beating.

    “It’s going to be okay, I’m not here to hurt you. My name is John Collier, and like you, I’m Kindred.”

    ***


    Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-13-2019, 12:37 PM.


    Call Me Ray.

    Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

    Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

    Comment


    • #3
      They walked for what felt like miles. The man, Mr. Collier, had done something to the two people that Gemma and the other guy had bitten. AJ was scared. Really, really scared, but at some point someone, probably the little guy, asked everyone their names and introductions were made. When they finally stopped walking it was in front of a big building shaped like an airplane hangar, a common site in Bishopsgate. A large sign out front read “International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1823, Union Hall”. He led them around back toward a fenced in yard where three large dogs were bellowing.

      “Hush now.” Mr. Collier said, and the dogs immediately quieted.

      He unlocked the gate and led them past the cowed pets and into a small office.

      The windowless office was small, almost claustrophobically so, and full of well-loved furniture that looked about 15 years old. On the walls were posters, inspirational union mottos and pictures of John dating back to the 50s. The shag carpet was faded to the point of being an offish sort of beige despite it appearing green in the shadows under the furniture. There was an obvious effort to keep the office free of debris, but the corners were filthy, as if forgotten by the cleaning crew since the place had opened.

      “Please,” he said. “take a seat.”

      AJ had recognized the name John Collier when she’d heard it, and she could tell from the look on her face that Gemma did too. John Collier was a fixer for the local unions, his name had been brought up during a fundraiser at the sorority. She’d always assumed from the way that others talked about him that he was mobbed up.

      “What kind of party did you take me to, dude?” Kapueo asked Aaron.

      “Look, man,” Aaron whispered back, “I’m still trying to figure this shit out myself.”

      “Like I said before, My name is John and I don’t know how much time we have, but I’ll answer any questions you might have,” He said as he sat down behind the desk and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.

      “What happened to my brother?”

      “I don’t know who that is, kid.” John answered honestly.

      “Why were we buried alive?” Cap asked, “What the hell happened to us?”

      “I don’t know how else to say this, but I’m sorry to say that you’ve all died and have been risen as Vampires, the undead, damned to never see the light of day and to feed on mortal blood,” John said somberly, “at least that’s what the chapel would say. We go by many names, but Kindred is the one that most of us prefer. I don’t know who did this to you, or how you ended up in that park, but I’m willing to help you find out.”

      “But I was at a party,” Cap said.

      “You’re a vampire… kindred?” Gemma asked, “but you don’t look like ‘kindred.’”

      “This is some extravagant joke, right?” Aaron demanded, “vampires are storybook and movie creatures.”

      “Yeah,” Cap agreed, “this is a little too comic book to be true.”

      “It’s just a bad dream, guys” AJ agreed, “I’m just having a bad dream. I’m going to wake up and find out I got too drunk at the White Ball…”

      “I promise you, this is real,” John said as his teeth slowly grew into fangs, “and I am just like you.”

      Ashley, who had been quiet until now, mimicked his expression, smiled too wide and felt the numb stretching sensation of her own teeth extending. She closed her lips around her newly sharp teeth and furrowed her brow.

      “Okay, so let’s say this is all true, we’re ‘vampires’ or ‘kindred’ or whatever,” Aaron said, his eyes never left John’s fangs, “we bite people and do all this shit, what does all of it mean?”

      “I don’t have all the answers,” John said, “All I can say is that we are not a myth, that the stories you know are the result of breaks in the masquerade so powerful that they stuck in the human consciousness and trickled down the centuries. We have hidden ourselves away from the mortal herd, behind elaborate masquerades. I promise you this is all too real.”

      “What about sunlight, stakes through the heart, holy water and garlic?” Chrissy asked, bursting into the conversation, “what about all of that?”

      “A stake through the heart will destroy us, as will sunlight and fire, and dismemberment, but garlic and holy water have no effect on us. We sleep by day, in a death sleep from which nothing can rouse us. But while we do require blood, that of animals will suffice as well as mortals.”

      Aaron looked suspiciously at the lighter in John’s fidgeting hands. When John noticed he laughed, “I promise you, this flame is too small to do any lasting harm.”

      “So wait, wait, wait,” Gemma said, “Vampires are feral, vicious beasts and you don’t look anything like them. How can you be a vampire?”

      “How do you know what vampires look like?” Aaron asked.

      “Yeah,” Ashley echoed.

      “That’s a very good question,” John agreed.

      “Because she reads too many books,” AJ said half-heartedly.

      “How do you know what we are like?”

      “I’ve heard things.” Gemma said.

      “What about the corpses we left behind?” Aaron asked.

      “You left no corpses behind, you left them alive,” John said, “you showed great restraint tonight. Those people are alive because you kept your humanity close to you. It’s proof that you are not monsters, that you have souls and are only possessed of monstrous hunger. You have nothing to fear though, for I made sure they would have no memory of the attack.”

      “I have a question.” Ashley asked, trying to scrape the now dry dirt off of her arms and hands, “Why were we buried in the ground?”

      John looked at her sadly.

      “I don’t know.” He said, “Traditionally we bring our childer into the requiem purposefully and with not a little pomp. I’ve never seen an embrace like this before and can’t imagine who would do something like this.

      “Those people,” Chrissy said, “the ones that Gemma and Aaron attacked, they said they buried us.”

      “Were you buried in the ground?” Ashley asked.

      “No.” John said, “I’ve never been buried or interred anywhere.”

      She fixed him with her gaze, “would you like to be?”

      Kapueo and AJ laughed despite themselves. John didn’t seem to know how to respond.

      “It was a joke,” she whispered, looking down.

      “If nothing else, you have your sense of humor.”

      “But again, the people that we saw said that they were the ones to bury us.”

      “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to tell you.”

      “But what about my family?” Aaron asked, “I’m a Sheridan, you can’t just walk away from that.”

      “No one’s saying you have to –” John began to say.

      “If you go near your family, you’ll kill them.” Gemma interjected.

      The room got quiet.

      “Why are you being mean?” Chrissy asked.

      John looked at her suspiciously, “Who are you?”

      “I am…I used to be someone,” Gemma reached for the pin she wore but found it missing, “it’s gone.”

      “How can we trust you?” Aaron asked. “for all we know you were the one who killed us, or at least, the one who put us in the ground.”

      “Grave.” AJ added, “that was a mass grave. We weren’t the only ones buried there. We’re just the ones that got up.”

      They all looked at her with horror.

      John cleared his throat, “Well, as this young lady pointed out, it was they who buried you. I couldn’t have had anything to do with it.”

      Aaron nodded, seemingly mollified.

      “Hey, old man,” Cap asked, “you keep saying we’re vampires, does that mean we’re like Dracula and have those cool powers? I wouldn’t mind turning into a bat or something.”

      “Seriously,” Chrissy demanded, “we’re dead and you’re asking about powers?”

      “I wouldn’t mind hearing about some perks,” Aaron agreed.

      John laughed: “All of us can bolster our strength and speed with the blood, though doing so brings us closer to the Beast, the thing that makes us as we are, and makes us crave the blood that sustains us even more. Some possess incredible resilience, even against Fire, others possess foresight or keener senses, while others can vanish from sight. I’ve heard tell of those who can hear the thoughts of those around them, or command worship or impart their rage upon others, but I’ve never seen it. These are aspects of the beasts, the animating force that drives you to hunt men and banishes you from the light of the sun and no two Kindred manifest them in exactly the same way, though your lineage hints at your power. They will tempt you into giving into the Beast, of giving it more control of you life, what we call your Requiem.

      “The Beast will tempt you into giving up your humanity, of falling to your baser natures which are now so much worse than they were last night. I have seen the most peaceful of us tear the throat from an innocent at the behest of the beast, you must fight it. I don’t want to see any of you hunted down and destroyed for falling to its power.”

      There was a long pause and then Chrissy said, “I need to take a lap, clear my head.”

      “I just want a shower,” AJ whimpered, “I just wanted to be a lawyer.”

      “What does everyone remember?” Aaron asked the crowd.

      “I remember it going dark,” Cap said.

      Everyone remembered that too, the crash into black.

      They were discussing the minutia of their memories, mostly of the others seeing Aaron and Cap storm in before the crash when John cocked his head like he heard something.

      “Hold on,” He told them, cocking his ear and then standing. “You might be able to fight him off, maybe even run, but it won’t matter. He will simply call you to him. the Blood calls to Blood.”

      Just as he reached the interior door of the office there was a loud, confident knock.

      The man in the door when John opened it was incredibly attractive. He was tall and thin and built like a dancer. His features were long and delicate and his hair, which fell past the shoulders of his dark gray suit, was a chestnut brown. His all too human eyes peered at them suspiciously.

      He was breathing as he eyed them up and down.

      “Follow me.” He said simply with a mild Spanish accent before turning and walking back into the dark of the union hall.

      At John’s insistence they followed.

      He walked out of the front door of the building and into the parking lot where a 40-year-old mint limousine sat. Its gray and black paint looked as though it were brand new. The tall man opened the rear passenger-side door and waited for them to enter.

      “But we’re filthy.” AJ said.

      “Shotgun.” Cap said, before noting the lack of mirth in the man’s eyes and getting into the back seat.

      AJ followed, then the others too.

      The ride was made in silence, the tall man refused any attempt at conversation or comment and the mournful silence was infectious.

      Finally, Cap grew tired of the quiet and began to rummage through the various cabinets and coolers.


      “There’s got to be something in here to drink.” He said raggedly, so parched was he. He quickly found a decanter of a caramel colored liquid, “Jackpot.”

      The moment he pulled the stopper he regretted it. It smelled of boiling rubber and the sickening sweet of rotting fruit. Everyone retched as it seemed to exude from the decanter in a thick oily cloud.

      Calls of “Oh God!” and “Put it away!” came from Chrissy and AJ who sat closest to him. Gemma and Aaron both curled their noses at it.

      When he did so he saw that they were pulling into a short roundabout driveway in what was probably once a nice neighborhood. The wrought-iron fence was rusted and poorly taken care of and the roof seemed to sag ever so slightly. The paint, a deep forest green, was peeling. And there were no lights visible through the windows, of which at least one was broken.

      The tall man parked and opened the door for them and as they ascended the short step onto the large covered porch they were all reminded of the Fairway, with its creaky soft wood, but there were no repairs here and it was clear from the missing third step that the house was in dire need of love.

      Any comparisons to the Fairway died in their minds when the man opened the door and they were hit with the powerful smell of old mold and mildew. The tall man lit a small candle allowing them to see that the house was filled with ancient threadbare furniture that looked like it belonged in a catalogue from the turn of the century. Garish, overlarge couches of wood and faded green fabric sat in the parlor, unused around a glass coffee table that had no glass. In the hall stood an ancient grandfather clock that was infested with spiderwebs and smelled of rust and rot.

      But the man led them on deeper into the massive, dying home. Soon they were in the east wing, and it was just dawning on Kapueo how big the house must have been. This wing was in better condition, though still dusty, the furniture was in better shape and even a little newer. The smell of rot and mildew was less here, though still present.

      Finally they came to a large heavy wooden door, no different than any other, and he knocked softly.

      “You may enter.” Came a high, imperious voice from within.

      When the door opened they saw that they were entering a lowly lit library, each wall stacked with dozens of books on nearly bare built-in bookshelves. The fireplace was unlit and full of ash and a massive, beautifully gilt globe sat under the open window, which faced an immense and overgrown garden with hedge walls that stood as tall as the house itself.

      Seated on a tall-backed leather chair that was showing signs of its immense age was a thin man who could be no more than five-six or five-seven in a deep gray pinstriped suit whose cut was nearly 50 years old. His hair was a mass of long curls that were being held back by what must have been some sort of pomade. His bone-white face was cleanshaven save for the pencil thin mustache and patch of beard that would have been called a van-dyke beard a century ago. His eyes were impossibly dark even as they reflected the light of the few meager candles that lit the room.

      “Enter freely, kindred.” He said magnanimously in a French accent.

      For the first time since he told them to follow, the tall man spoke obsequiously, reverentially, “His lordship, the Modius of Bishopsgate.”

      “That will be all, Algernon,” the Modius said, “We have no further need for you tonight.”

      And with that the door closed and Algernon was gone.

      “You may kneel,” he said to them and, even as most of them scoffed, even as Aaron and Gemma laughed outright, they kneeled. Aaron actually tried to stand but found his body unwilling to do his bidding.

      Kapueo bit his lip and bloody tears welled up in Gemma’s eyes.

      “Good,” the Modius said, “now with the pleasantries out of the way, let us converse about the how of why you are in Bishopsgate.”

      AJ and Kapueo began speaking at the same time. “We were here for the White Ball, just like every year.” She said, “My boss and I crashed a party.”

      “I just kinda showed up.”

      “I was supposed to become a Mu Sigma tonight.” Chrissy said after they were done, “and then the lights went out.”

      “and then there was dirt,” AJ added.

      “The White Ball was last night.” The Modius said.

      “What?” Chrissy asked.

      The Modius repeated himself.

      “So we missed a whole day?” AJ asked.

      “It would seem so, young lady.”

      “The Making is unpredictable.” The Modius said. It was clear that he was trying to be comforting even if he had no skill for it. “Especially in the way you were all made and then left for dead.”

      He looked each of them in the eye.

      “Do you believe in God?” he asked apropos of nothing.

      “Do you know who did this to us?” Gemma asked in turn.

      “I asked my question first, dear girl.”

      “I used to,” Chrissy answered, “I’m not sure now.”

      “I regularly attend church,” Gemma said.

      “I believe in the law,” AJ added, “that justice is blind.”

      “I don’t believe at all.” Ashley said.

      “I believe in a few.” Cap said.

      “I’ve never been a man of faith,” Aaron responded, finally.

      “Among we Kindred,” he said, “Faith is a weapon, a tool in the kit, if you will. By claiming to act on the word of God you can excuse all kinds of sins. The transition you are going through is going to require that you look deeply into your own beliefs. Your own souls, if you will, and see what truly lies there. And if you haven’t yet asked yourself ‘why has this happened to me’, We promise you that you will.”

      The Modius suddenly seemed struck by an idea and lost his train of thought. His eyes glazed over as he studied the gilt globe under the window.

      “Yes we do believe that we shall do exactly that.” He said as though to himself, “we shall send you all on a pilgrimage of sorts, to your own graves. There you may meditate on they why of why you are here, in Bishopsgate, in this Requiem, in this undead state. Yes, yes, study what you left behind in those graves, for you are no longer the boys and girls you were when you were interred within. Focus on that and you may find wisdom, or, perhaps, a memory of what came before.

      “If the latter occurs, we would most definitely like to hear what, and who, you might remember.” He snapped back to them suddenly, his eyes focused on each in turn, “understand that we do not mean to demean your ordeal, for we find your murder, yes murder, most unsettling, only that we are bound by our loyalty and obligations to this city and its kine to allow rogue Kindred to simply embrace at will. We must know what happened.”

      And just like that he was done with the conversation and stood. His slight frame seemed at odds with the dignity and power he radiated. He snapped a finger as he stood, and a tall black man of considerable age appeared from around the desk-chair cum throne and left the room.

      A moment later a small elderly black man in a worn black tuxedo entered the room. His dark eyes were glassy and though they did not seem blind, they did not seem to focus on anyone or thing.

      “The master wishes that you stay here this evening.” He said absently, his voice wistful. “If you will follow me.”

      He took them wordlessly back the way they came until they reached the main staircase and then turned, taking them once again deeper into the house, this time into an old, dusty and disused kitchen. There he opened what looked like a towel cabinet to reveal a pair of ancient, weathered and heavy storm doors. With a heave and both hands he forced one of them open and stood aside as if holding a car door.

      “There is a small root cellar below in which you may take your rest safe from the morning sun.” he said in the same listless tone.

      The black hole that he had revealed had an earthy smell that was disconcertingly welcome.

      “Alright, thanks, man.” Cap said, “May I use the phone?”

      “There is no phone on the property, sir.”

      “Oh,” Cap said, “do you have the time?”

      “The master does not provide timepieces sir,” the butler said flatly, “though I do believe it is only a few hours before dawn.”

      “Ah, well thank you, my friend.” Cap said back, stepping into the cellar.

      “I would like a shower now, please.” AJ asked the old man.

      “The Master wishes that you stay here,” the butler said, his voice unchanged, “in the cellar, ma’am.”

      “I don’t care what the master wants,” She said back, angrily, “I want to go home and take a shower.”

      For just a moment the glassy cast of the man’s eyes flickered, revealing the intelligent and terrified eyes of someone else, someone they hadn’t yet met, and then it was gone, drowned beneath whatever had been done to him.

      “the master wishes it ma’am.” His voice, though still seemingly emotionless, did crack on the second word.

      “Its fine down here, guys” Cap called, “there are cots.”

      Chrissy followed him into the dark.

      “Can you take a message to the master about a possible change of clothes?” Aaron asked.

      “The Master has left the premises, sir.”

      Slumping his shoulders in defeat Aaron walked down the stairs.

      Ashley, on her way down slipped and fell, tumbling down the small flight of stairs only to land unharmed at the bottom, her arms and legs tingling numbly where they’d hit the hard wood. What was she?

      Cap helped her up and over to a cot.

      “I think we might have been taken in by a cult.”

      Gemma looked the butler up and down and asked him “Is he keeping you against your will?”

      Again, there was a flash of…something, and then the old man said “No, ma’am, the master is magnanimous.”

      “Why would you serve something like him?”

      “Because he is the master.”

      She hugged herself as she entered the cellar door and heard it slam shut behind her, the sounds of heavy chains following directly after. She turned and saw that someone had installed another lock on this side of the door, and she locked them in against intrusion.

      “We can’t let these guys control us,” Cap was saying, “none of this can be real. We need a plan.”

      And so they talked until the dawn came and overtook them.


      Call Me Ray.

      Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

      Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

      Comment


      • #4
        So here are their character sheets, again, I'm not going to write down their backgrounds, I'll let them tell you who they are through play, though I will give you 'broke down' versions of their concepts as tags.

        Character Sheets

        AJ Werther, The Overachiever
        Age
        : Late Teens
        Mental Attributes: Intelligence •••, Wits ••, Resolve •••
        Physical Attributes: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••
        Social Attributes: Presence •, Manipulation •••, Composure ••
        Mental Skills: Academics (The Law) •••, Computers •, Crafts •, Investigation (Small Details) •••, Politics ••, Science •
        Physical Skills: Athletics ••, Drive •, Stealth ••, Weaponry (Kendo) ••
        Social Skills: Expression ••, Persuasion •, Socialize •
        Merits: Armed Defense Style •, Closed Book ••, Defensive Combat (Weaponry), Double Jointed, Multilingual (Creole French, Spanish)
        Willpower: 5
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Ambitious
        Vice: Ambitious
        Health: 7
        Initiative: +5
        Defense: 4
        Speed: 10

        Aaron Sheridan, The Black Sheep
        Age: Early 20s
        Mental Attributes: Intelligence ••, Wits ••, Resolve ••
        Physical Attributes: Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •••
        Social Attributes: Presence ••, Manipulation •••, Composure •••
        Mental Skills: Academics ••, Investigation (Observant) •, Politics •
        Physical Skills: Athletics ••, Brawl (Fighting Dirty) •••, Drive •, Firearms •
        Social Skills: Empathy ••, Expression ••, Intimidation •, Persuasion (Straight Shooter) •••, Socialize ••, Streetwise ••,
        Merits: Contacts (Cops), Defensive Combat (Brawl), Fame* •, Resources •, Sheridan Family Legacy ••, Striking Looks ••, Taste*,
        Willpower: 5
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Patient
        Vice: Arrogant
        Health: 8
        Initiative: +5
        Defense: 5
        Speed: 9

        Ashley Onnea, The Wallflower
        Age: Late teens
        Mental Attributes: Intelligence ••, Wits •••, Resolve •••
        Physical Attributes: Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••
        Social Attributes: Presence ••, Manipulation ••, Composure •••
        Mental Skills: Academics (Art History) •, Computer •••, Crafts (Graphic Design) ••, Investigation (Body Language) •
        Physical Skills: Drive ••, Stealth ••
        Social Skills: Empathy ••••, Expression •, Socialize ••, Streetwise •••
        Merits: Area of Expertise (Body Language), Barfly, Resources •, Sympathetic, Taste
        Willpower: 6
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Loving
        Vice: Cruel
        Health
        : 7
        Initiative: +5
        Defense: 2
        Speed: 9

        Chrissy Kentworth, The Olympic Athlete
        Age: Late Teens
        Mental Attributes
        : Intelligence ••, Wits ••, Resolve ••
        Physical Attributes: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •••
        Social Attributes: Presence ••, Manipulation ••, Composure •••
        Mental Skills: Academics •, Investigation (Puzzles) ••, Medicine ••, Politics (Organizations) ••
        Physical Skills: Athletics (Conditioning) •••, Brawl •
        Social Skills: Empathy •, Expression •, Intimidation ••, Persuasion ••, Socialize •••, Subterfuge ••
        Merits: Contacts (Government, University), Fame •, Fleet of Foot •, Iron Stamina •, Patient, Professional Training (Athlete) ••, Relentless
        Willpower: 5
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Honest
        Vice: Hasty
        Health: 8
        Initiative: +5
        Defense: 5
        Speed: 11

        Gemma Munroe, The Hunter
        Age: late teens
        Mental Attributes: Intelligence ••, Wits •••, Resolve ••
        Physical Attributes: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••
        Social Attributes: Presence •••, Manipulation •••, Composure ••
        Mental Skills: Academics •, Investigation •, Occult (Vampires) •, Politics •
        Physical Skills: Athletics (Gymnastics) ••, Brawl ••, Stealth •, Weaponry ••
        Social Skills: Expression (Acting as Bait) •••, Intimidation •, Persuasion •••, Socialize ••, Streetwise •, Subterfuge •
        Merits: Resources •••, Retainer (Erika Sumner) ••, Striking Looks ••, Status - Mu Sigma Chi
        Willpower: 4
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Courageous
        Vice: Arrogant
        Health
        : 7
        Initiative: +5
        Defense: 6
        Speed: 10

        Kapueo "Cap" Ka'anā'anā, The Party
        Age: Early 20s
        Mental Attributes: Intelligence ••, Wits ••, Resolve ••
        Physical Attributes: Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •••
        Social Attributes: Presence ••••, Manipulation •••, Composure ••
        Mental Skills: Academics •••, Computer •, Crafts (Mechanical Engineering) •••, Investigation ••, Science ••
        Physical Skills: Athletics ••, Brawl ••, Drive •, Stealth ••
        Social Skills: Expression ••, Socialize (Carousing) ••
        Merits: Area of Expertise (Mechanical Engineering), Contacts (Military, Street), Good Time Management, Patient, Professional Training (Blue Collar Engineer) ••, Resources •, Striking Looks •
        Willpower: 4
        Integrity: 7
        Virtue: Trustworthy
        Vice: Ambitious
        Health: 8
        Initiative: +4
        Defense: 4
        Speed: 9
        Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-13-2019, 09:11 PM.


        Call Me Ray.

        Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

        Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

        Comment


        • #5
          Interesting that we don't know the clans. Looking forward to the next chapter.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yeah, the players know their clan, but they'll be developing disciplines slowly enough that clans and/or bloodlines would appear slowly. I've also decided that they started at humanity 10 to represent the fact that they've only been dead for a short period of time and are just figuring out what it means to be vampires, and I assume that they might need a little leeway when it comes to humanity falling. this may have been a mistake however, as I only just got 2 players down to humanity 9 despite all the things that have gone down.


            Call Me Ray.

            Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

            Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

            Comment


            • #7
              Humanity 10 is more human than most humans are, make sure you hold them to that standard. And yes I would expect some or mayby most to manage to avoid dropping down to 7.

              Comment


              • #8
                Oh, that's the point. I'm expecting them to plummet. Instead they're holding their own.


                Call Me Ray.

                Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                Comment


                • #9
                  Episode 2: Graveyards

                  Gemma chained the door and returned to the others. It should have been dark but she could see clearly in the pitch black of the cellar.

                  “Do you hear that?” Chrissy asked, her head tilted to the side.

                  The others all followed suit, Gemma included, and sure enough there was a sloshing sound. She and Chrissy whipped their heads around almost as one and spotted it, an old well and pump.

                  “Water!” AJ cried out, rushing to the well.

                  There was a general scramble, everyone trying to get to the pump first. Gemma tore a piece of her ruined dress off and used it as a washcloth, getting it wet and scrubbing her face, arms and legs. Kapueo had removed his t-shirt and had used it for the same purpose.

                  Aaron was doing the same with his overshirt but when he held it to the pump to wet it, the room seemed to come alive with the smell of blood. He held it up as if to some non-existent light and revealed to the room a clean cut and trail of blood down the back of it.

                  “Hey,” He hissed at Kapueo as he turned around “Come here. Am I all ripped up in the back?”

                  “How should I know, I can barely see.”, Kapueo said.

                  “Just look.”

                  The larger man lifted Aaron’s sliced t-shirt to get a better look and shook his head. “Nah, you look fine.”

                  Aaron showed him the shirt.

                  “Looks like you got into a fight with a lawnmower.”

                  “Are you actually buying into any of this?” Aaron asked as he began to clean himself up with the torn shirt.

                  “Oh, Dude,” Kapueo said, “We’re totally dead, I haven’t been able to find my pulse all night.”

                  Chrissy suddenly shrieked, drawing everyone’s attention to her bare breasts before she could turn to hide them.

                  “Can I borrow your shirt?” She asked Aaron.

                  “Yeah, go for it.”

                  He turned back to see Kapueo with a big grin on his face.

                  “What happened to your dress?” AJ asked.

                  “I don’t know,” Chrissy hissed frightfully. She covered her chest with Aaron’s shirt and turned around. The back of the strapless dress was torn as if great claws had shredded it, the gaping fabric revealing four long streaks of bare skin. Her own back was like Aaron’s without mar or blemish. It seemed that in stretching while washing herself she’d broken the elastic that held the dress up.

                  Once everyone had a look at the back of her dress she threw Aaron’s shirt on over it. Though her hips did the work of keeping the dress up well enough to keep her modesty, the shirt proved more than long enough.

                  “Why are we all covered in blood?” Gemma asked, noting the small clean cut just under her own sternum.

                  “I’m not.” AJ said, checking over her body again.

                  Ashley too was unmarked by any sort of violence, despite wearing more clothing than anyone save Aaron the night before.

                  They spent the next several minutes not talking, just cleaning themselves up as best they could.

                  “If this is all real than we should discuss what we’re going to do about the sun going forward.” Aaron said after some time.

                  “What about your house?”

                  “You live here?” AJ asked.

                  “No, I’m renovating an Antebellum Greek Revival plantation house that my family owns. Its about five miles south of Bishopsgate,” Aaron said. “It’s got an old storm shelter on the property. Its full of rotten old furniture, the construction workers completely ignore it. We should be alright there for a while, at least until the house is finished.”

                  “How can you be talking about this right now?” Gemma asked. “Can’t any of you see where we are? We’re in a root cellar discussing a house and storm shelter? We’re in a fucking root cellar.”

                  “Gemma, its either that or we stay here forever,” Chrissy said. “Would you like to stay in this man’s root cellar? Because as of right now that’s our only option. I’m terrified right now, but the idea of staying here scares me even more.”

                  “Look, it’s not like any of this is real,” Aaron said, “we play the guy’s creepy game, hide out somewhere safe and we’ll be fine.”

                  “And you think your family’s plantation is a safe place?”

                  “Why wouldn’t it be? The family doesn’t even remember it exists, I asked my Uncle Claud for permission to renovate it and he just gave me the deed. They just don’t care.”

                  “I’m not talking about safe for your family, I mean safe from the guy whose game we’re playing,” Chrissy said.

                  “I don’t fucking know.” Aaron said, honestly.

                  “I mean the sun is supposed to hurt us and now we’re locked up in here,” Chrissy said, “is the sun even coming up?”

                  “Yeah, it’s supposed to be coming up soon,” Kapueo said.

                  “So we hold out until the sun goes down, I guess, and then we get out of here.” Aaron said, “I’m going to the retreat, I’m just saying you’re free to join me.”

                  “Well I don’t think we can go back to the sorority house.” Chrissy said.

                  “This is too much.” Ashley said.

                  There was a loud thud from the stairs and they all turned to see Gemma lying on the ground face first.

                  “Gemma!” Chrissy cried out as she and AJ rushed to their friend.

                  “Grab her feet,” Aaron called out as he rolled her over and grabbed her hands, “we’ll set her on a cot.”

                  He pulled away as he touched her cold, dead skin. “Oh god.” He said, seeing her vacantly stare up at him with dead eyes.

                  “What do we do?” Chrissy cried.

                  “She’s dead.” Ashley screamed before her own eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed to the floor bonelessly.

                  AJ screamed and tried to pick up her friend’s legs to carry her to a cot only to sag and fall onto her.

                  Kapueo turned and ran toward the cot but didn’t get anywhere near it before his body fell forward from the momentum of his movement and he slammed his head on the cot’s metal frame. He too seemed to have expired.

                  Chrissy was gone.

                  “What the hell?” Aaron asked, his voice oddly calm as he backed up against the closest wall and slid to the floor. He had only enough time to hug his knees before the darkness took him.

                  ***

                  Chrissy was floating in a dark, cool place. She felt as though she was at peace. She wasn’t worried about her inability to breathe. She just felt utterly relaxed as she sank into the darkness, buoying in it.

                  And then she was rising again, she could feel herself surfacing, floating over that darkness. And then she felt the ground under her hands, she felt herself rising out as she pulled herself up out of the dark and onto dry land.

                  When she opened her eyes, she was back in the cellar. Everything was in muted shades of blue and gray except the blood on everyone’s clothes, which stood out in a deep muted brown. It took her a moment to get her bearings. She was on her hands and right foot, her left knee bent beneath her, just like she did every time she pulled herself out of the pool. Kapueo was laying on the floor in front of one of the cots, his limbs lying akimbo as if he had fallen while running.

                  Ashley was lying in a heap on the ground where she’d fallen the night before and Aaron was curled up limply against the wall.

                  Her friends were by the stair, Gemma was lying on her back and AJ was draped over her lifelessly.

                  “AJ!” She cried out, “Gemma!”

                  Chrissy rushed forward to her friends’ corpses and began to shake them.

                  AJ jerked up suddenly, sucking in a painful sounding breath.

                  “AJ!” Chrissy cried out gratefully, hugging her friend as her eyes came alive again, “Oh god, I thought I was alone, please! Oh please, you’re on Gemma!”

                  AJ rolled off her friend just as life began to stir in her again.

                  “Is anyone else hungry?” Kapueo asked as he climbed the stairs and unlocked the door. When he pushed it barely budged, though the sound of chains rattling could be heard. “We’re still locked in here!”

                  He pushed on the door once or twice more, applying more pressure each time until it dawned on him that he should check his watch.

                  “Its still 20 minutes before sundown and these doors open westward.” He said, more to himself than anyone else. “We want out of here!” he bellowed at the door.

                  “We need to figure out what happened to us,” Chrissy said, gesturing to her back and to Aaron’s shirt, which she still wore. “Whether they stripped off our clothes and bloodied them or we somehow healed our wounds afterward, something beyond the obvious happened to us two nights ago.”

                  “Nothing seems to have happened to me,” AJ said.

                  “Me either,” Ashley said.

                  “Alright, the weird thing is,” Aaron said, “My brother Evan has been going to this party every year for the last four years. The first time that this shit gets opened up people start dying? Unless it’s been happening every year and my brother’s been failing to mention that the whole party gets killed off.”

                  “Well, two of us have been to this party before.” Chrissy said, looking at AJ and Gemma.

                  “This does not happen every year,” AJ said calmly.

                  “That’s my point. What is all of this? How do we search this out? Because, no offence, but your party’s secrecy is kind of dead,” Aaron said to her.

                  “Literally.” Kapueo added.

                  “If I ever see Erica again, I’m going to kill her,” AJ said under her breath.

                  “Who’s Erica?”

                  “She’s the one who put out the flyers.”

                  “Oh,” Ashley said.

                  “I don’t think she knew anything,” Chrissy said, “She didn’t even remember why she made the flyer. So it makes sense that we go back to where we were found.”

                  “So what is the secret, then?” Aaron asked, “If this isn’t normal than what was Evan so afraid of?”

                  Gemma shook her head nervously, chewing her nails.

                  “This isn’t a game, Aaron,” Gemma said, “This is real, it’s too real.”

                  “Okay.”

                  “What he said is real, what we are is real.” She said, panicking. “We’re not human anymore.”

                  “Right,” Kapueo said, “he said we were vampires.”

                  “It’s not just a party, there’s a ceremony too,” Chrissy said.

                  “I don’t know what happens if you draw the white ball.” AJ said.

                  “She doesn’t know anything,” Gemma said, “The purpose of the White ball is to choose new members of the Ashwood Society, to choose new hunters. We hunt these things.”

                  The sound of the chain being removed startled all of them. Chrissy overtook Kapueo as they rushed toward the door.

                  “So this Society, you open doors for each other, so long as you hunt monsters?”

                  “We’re a select group that protects the campus by destroying these creatures.” Gemma said, “But they don’t look like this, I’ve never seen vampires that looked even remotely human. They look like monsters.”

                  “And your friend told them where they would be.”

                  “But she didn’t know what we actually do,” Gemma said. “She wasn’t a member.”

                  “But if you hunt someone and then tell them where you are, they’re going to come for you.” Aaron said, “they clearly found the flyer.”

                  Chrissy and Kapueo left them behind, bursting through the cellar door to find Algernon waiting for them. His long brown hair was tousled artistically, and he was wearing a dark blue sports jacket over jeans and a t-shirt. Behind him on the kitchen table were a few piles of folded clothing.

                  “Alfred!” Kapueo said, shaking the ghoul’s hand.

                  “The Modius tells me you wish to go back to where Mr. Collier found you,” Algernon said.

                  Kapueo didn’t let go of the Spaniard’s hand for a long moment as his teeth elongated into fangs, “Is there any way you could take us to get a bite?” Kapueo said dreamily.

                  “That’s above my pay grade” Algernon said, pulling his hand away from the vampire.

                  Kapueo blinked, “Don’t worry man, I don’t want to eat you.”

                  “I’ll give you time to get ready.” Algernon said, “You can meet me in the garage when you’re ready.”

                  The next few minutes were an exercise in embarrassed frustration as each of them searched the pile of newly bought clothing for something that might fit them and not embarrass them too greatly, and the girls left the kitchen to change in another room. It was then that they learned that they had soiled themselves at some point.

                  “Ha, no chaffing!” Kapueo said to Aaron as he cleaned himself and threw his clothes away. “I guess being dead isn’t all bad.”

                  He quickly found a pair of shorts that almost fit him and a No Fear t-shirt that didn’t fit at all, making his already impressive physique look even more impressive.

                  When the girls came in, they found Aaron wearing only a pair of Bart Simpson underwear while sulking over the selection.

                  “Doesn’t it fit?” Ashley asked.

                  “It all garbage.” He said, holding up a t-shirt with the same cartoon character as his underwear printed on it. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of this.”
                  Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-28-2019, 01:53 PM.


                  Call Me Ray.

                  Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                  Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    True to his word, Algernon was waiting for them when they finally found the garage. He opened the rear passenger door for them, closed it and then started the engine all without a word.

                    They didn’t have long of a drive however, just a few blocks longer than the last time they rode with him.

                    “I don’t want to go back there.” Kapueo said,

                    “Just hang out with us while we go, we won’t be long.” Chrissy said.

                    “But I just don’t care what happened,”

                    “This is where Collier found you,” Algernon said, “I have to run an errand now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”

                    “I know this place,” Gemma said as the servant drove away.

                    They were standing on what appeared to be a lonely stretch of road. Across the boulevard was a nearly closed strip mall boasting a video store and a catfish fry joint that hadn’t cleaned their fryers in a while as their only establishments. But here there was only a chain link fence on the other side of a ditch and a hill beyond.

                    Gemma knew there was a hole cut in the chain link roughly 30 feet away, one that reappeared on the rare occasion someone fixed it, and that the streetlight they were currently standing under was subject to the same constant vandalism. And she knew that on the other side of the hill was the Luck of the Irish trailer park.

                    She knew this because the copse of trees between the road and the trailer park, that tiny patch of wilderness, was just thick enough to hide a hilly little clearing big enough to act as a graveyard of the damned. That’s what the Ashwood Society called it; it was where they put what was left of whatever monster they’d hunted when they were done with it. It unsettled most of them that, in death, so many of them looked all too human.

                    “Follow me,” she told the others. “I can show you the way in.”

                    They followed her through the fence and over the hill into the woods and followed a winding footpath to what looked like a campsite, but where Gemma expected to see the signs of a bonfire, the go to excuse for why they would get caught after disposing of a corpse, instead she saw a horror show.

                    “I told you.” AJ whispered.

                    There were graves everywhere. Twenty-six in all, though it took Gemma a few tries to count them all for the emotion it created. The spot had always been a graveyard of sorts, but never had it felt like a cemetery.

                    Aaron found his grave first, then Chrissy, AJ and Ashley. Gemma was the last to figure out where she’d come up. Kapueo, true to his word, spent more time checking out the trees.

                    “Here’s the real question” Aaron asked Chrissy after about fifteen minutes of digging, “did you happen to find any keys in that shirt I gave you?”

                    “Nope,” Chrissy said, her head popping up over the small ditch she’d dug. “I’d have felt that.”

                    “I really don’t like this, guys.”

                    “So, your guys did this?” Aaron asked Gemma from inside his grave.

                    “I don’t know what this is,” Gemma said, surveying the graveyard.

                    “I’m not finding anything,” Aaron said to nobody.

                    “Me neither.” Ashley said from across the impromptu cemetery.

                    They were there for an hour and a half before Kapueo ran over and began whispering loudly, “Someone’s coming.”

                    Aaron looked up from his grave and saw a pair of flashlight beams flicking through the trees.

                    Kapueo hid in the trees.

                    “I need you to hotwire the car you dumbass,” Aaron said, “come on.”

                    “It’s gone, Aaron,” Kapueo said.

                    “I know, but I’m not giving up.” Aaron shot back as he started heading south, “come on, the Fairway is this way.”

                    “Why are we going back there?” Gemma asked.

                    “My car, I have clothes, money and coke in there,” Aaron retorted.

                    “Fair enough.”

                    Everyone except for Kapueo fled south, the engineer choosing instead to climb a tree in hopes of seeing who it was that was coming.

                    “I’m telling you guys, it was this way,” came a young voice. “My brother said there was a whole bunch of graves!”

                    Sneering at the thought of hurting a kid, Kapueo jumped down out of the tree and snuck off in search of the others. He found them outside waiting and just shrugged when they asked what took him.

                    They were walking toward the city’s edge when they found themselves standing in front of the formidable walls of Bishopsgate Cemetery. Those walls stood four feet thick and eight feet tall, tipped with wrought-iron fleur-de-lis spikes. Its massive iron gate was locked day and night unless someone was to be interred and it had no sign, for it needed none. Bishopsgate Cemetery was one of the most famous in the south, known for its hauntings as much as for its picturesque grandiosity.

                    “Wait,” Gemma said, her brow furrowed, “something’s here.”

                    “What is it?” Aaron asked, worried about his car, “can it wait?”

                    But it was too late, she was gone. The cemetery’s small side door was bouncing on its frame.

                    “Dammit.”

                    They followed their friend, who seemed to be on a mission through the closest and most ancient part of the cemetery where there were no fresh flowers or mementos. Eventually she reached the gated, but unlocked, back wall, which was just the entrance, one of many, into newer parts of the cemetery. Here they saw graves dating back to late-18th century, up to nearly the Civil war. The next gate took them to a larger but more tightly packed cemetery, the stone caskets in which the dead were kept had no room between them and the rows were winding and tight. This section possessed the civil war dead, and here and there you could still find fresh flowers and mementos, little toy soldiers or gas station rebel battle flags.

                    “Uh…Aaron, I’ve been meaning to ask you,” Ashley asked. “Do you know a Dane Baker?”

                    “Depends. Do you like sports?” Aaron laughed, “he’s one of the leading linebackers in the country, he’s probably getting drafted next year.”

                    “Oh.” She said, sadly.

                    “Why do you ask?”

                    “No reason.”

                    She passed through the next gate at a surprising clip and they found this area to be larger still and not nearly as packed. According to the dates this one belonged to the end of the 19th century and was just as abandoned as the first. Further still they found themselves in in the first decades of the 20th century, up through the first World War, again they were packed, again they were remembered, now though it was looking more like actual loved ones rather than famous generals or family legends, the flowers were fresher, probably more regularly changed. And then there was one more gate, this one would be the last, save the one that was sealed until the next section would be built. This one was the modern cemetery, the flowers were fresh, the mementos still standing.

                    “This is cool and all but I’m so over it,” Kapueo said. “I’m so hungry.”

                    When they finally caught up with Gemma, she was close to the northwestern wall of the cemetery, the one that held the sealed gate to the yet to be built installment of the graveyard. She stood in a valley made up of stone caskets just off the main path and in front of a slick patch of grass coated in what was unmistakably blood.

                    “What are we doing here, Girl?” Kapueo asked as his attention was drawn to the blood pooling in the grass.

                    “You don’t feel it?” Gemma asked, “that feeling of frustration and regret?”

                    Even without a moon in the sky, even in the darkness of the cemetery’s shadow, the blood was still bright red as if it were possessed of its own light source.

                    “It smells…dead.” AJ said, her voice strained as if she were heartbroken. “And it looks like it splashed here, like someone dumped it out of a container.”

                    “Can we just get the car and find something to eat?” Kapueo asked.

                    “Does the name Martin Lavoie mean anything to any of you?” AJ asked, reading from a casket’s headstone. It was clear that a great deal of the blood had fallen onto its base.

                    Gemma and Ashley shook their heads.

                    “Isn’t anyone else bothered by how morbid this all is?” Kapueo asked.

                    “Wait, this casket’s been opened recently.” AJ said.

                    “See, Kapueo, it wasn’t a complete waste of time, help us lift this.”

                    “What if something jumps out at us?”

                    “We are the things that go bump in the night now,” AJ said, “what are you so afraid of?”

                    “Whatever might be in there!” he said back.

                    But the others ignored him and soon they were starting to lift the casket’s lid.

                    “Oowee, boys, looks like we got some graverobbers!” came a voice from behind them. They dropped the lid back down and it slammed into place.

                    They turned, half expecting to see Algernon putting on a voice.

                    Six men dressed in faded brown biker leathers had entered from the supposedly locked back gate of the cemetery. They were a motley crew, ranging from just slightly taller than Aaron’s five-foot-eight to a few inches shorter than Kapueo’s six-foot-five and all of them looked dangerous.

                    “Shit, guys,” Ashley said, stepping behind Chrissy, “They’re GLMC.”

                    The big guy was leering at her as he and the two bigger guys pulled away, moving to flank the Kindred.

                    “What the hell is a GLMC?” Aaron asked.

                    “They’re bikers, the Green Lawn Motor Club. They like to get girls alone, we had a whole seminar at the Sorority about self defense and they made us memorize their patch,” AJ explained.

                    “Hey, boys, we’re famous,” one of them said, putting his hand behind his back, “maybe you should pay us for the privilege of this meeting.”

                    “Sorry, man,” Aaron responded, “we already lost everything tonight.”

                    “Not everything,” the guy said, pulling a snub-nosed revolver from behind him, “not yet. Give us the girls and we promise none of you will get too hurt.”

                    Kapueo and Aaron did something that surprised them then, they moved toward the man who was doing the talking, even though he was holding a gun.

                    The biker, who wore a patch that read “sex machine” as a name tag, fired three shots at Kapueo. The bullets ripped through the army brat’s chest and belly. Two others drew and fired on instinct, peppering the two men with bullets.

                    The three men that flanked the women charged in then to grab them. Gemma turned in time to watch him slip on the blood that he didn’t seem to see and trip forward, his teeth breaking against the stone casket she was standing next to. Another, the near giant of a man, grabbed AJ from behind as another threw himself at Chissy, but she reached up and caught him by his wrists.

                    Ashley’s teeth elongated into fangs as the rich and somehow electric smell of blood wafted off of her friends who were now riddled with bullets. Something in her rushed forward, something strong and confident and powerful, but she was stronger, and she refused to let it take hold of her. She charged around Chrissy and leapt at the man but physically speaking was not particularly adept at fighting and he knocked her away with a swipe of his hip.

                    “Back off bitch.” He spat.

                    It was then, as the sounds of gunfire faded from the night that Kapueo roared with malign laughter as he stood covered in near bloodless bullet holes.

                    Ashley turned to see Aaron flying across the stone caskets and slam into the man who initially opened fire. While Kapueo seemed to simply leap over those same caskets at another of the men, landing upon him and felling him under his tremendous weight.

                    Next to her she saw Chrissy force the man who charged her down onto his knees in an impressive show of strength before letting both of his wrists go and driving both her fists into his face.

                    Gemma grabbed the man who was trying to stand up by the hair and jammed her knee into his teeth.

                    AJ spun in the arms of the giant holding her, her face a mask bestial fury; her eyes lambent yellow, and her mouth full of bestial fangs. She drove her teeth into his chest. The man let loose a cry of agony that quickly quieted into a pained whimper as they collapsed onto the ground.

                    Aaron tore out the gunman’s throat, but he held the man aloft as he fed from the gushing blood even as the man struggled bonelessly against him. He heard gunshots and felt pain in his back as someone shot him again and again and part of him understood that each of these shots should have killed him.

                    Kapueo did one better, lifting the man who had shot him and driving his teeth into the man’s throat in a torrent of blood, the hot blood rushing into him, spreading through him in a slow wave of pleasure and fire. He felt for the first time those bullet wounds as something more than dull throbbing pain, but the sharpness of the wounds quickly faded as the beast rushed through him, forcing the wounds to close, teaching Kapueo how to do the same.

                    Chrissy began to scream too, but not intelligibly, instead she was chanting a mantra of “people don’t own people! That’s illegal!” until the thug clocked her across the jaw. She looked back at him, a livid black bruise already forming and screamed “PEOPLE DON’T OWN PEOPLE, THAT’S ILLEGAL!” as her teeth warped into fangs and she caught him in an arm bar hold that she’d learned in self-defense class. A savage voice inside her roared at her to tear out his throat, to tear off the arm, but she held her own against its monstrous advice.

                    Gemma was beating the man brutally, punching him over and over, but he had his arms up, protecting his vitals until he found an opening and kicked out, only to find her waiting for it. She grabbed his leg and threw it to the side before continuing her barrage.

                    The biker who had just shot Aaron turned in a blind panic and opened fire on Ashley as she backed away from the fight between Chrissy and his thuggish friend. A pang of guilt ran through him as he realized that he’d shot the girl in the back, but the guilt fell into abject fear as the girl turned toward him with dead eyes.

                    Before he could react though, he saw his friend, the one that initially started the altercation, stumbling away only to fall next to the girl who began eyeing him like a hot dog.

                    Gemma hauled off and bashed the man in the face multiple times before she saw him pull out a knife. Before she could react, he jammed the knife into her gut. She felt the cold pressure of the blade biting deeply into her abdomen and cried out in pain.

                    The man that Aaron had thrown landed not far from his friend’s gun and picked it up, aimed and, screaming, unloaded the revolver into the kid. The bullets ripped through Aaron’s body and every instinct told him that he should be dead, that he was dead, that he should lay down and expire, but instead he heard another voice whispering to him and he felt the pain lessening.

                    Ashley, so close to the man covered in blood on the ground, the man who had just shot her friend, dove at him to hold him down.

                    Aaron, seeing that Ashley had tackled him and seeing that the other gunman was taking aim at her and his friend, reacted on instinct and he felt the beast that had overtaken him the night before rush into his limbs, making him stronger, faster, and threw himself at the gunman, grabbing him from behind.

                    “You see what’s happening to your friends over there?” Chrissy asked through a row of needle-like teeth, “If you tell anyone what you saw here, I will hunt you down and do the same to you, do you understand? Now run!”

                    The man got up and ran.

                    Gemma, still reeling from the blade in her stomach, grabbed the man’s arm and pulled the blade out, leaving herself open for him to clock her in the face with his right fist even as she controlled his left.

                    Chrissy ran over and tried to grab the man’s fist only to have him to shake her off. Gemma used that moment’s distraction to bury her fangs into his throat.

                    “Oh, Gemma,” she said, “not you too.”

                    Ashley and the other gunman were wrestling on the ground. The man was finally able to roll over on top of her and drilled his skull into hers, viciously breaking the bones of her face and sending her reeling as that powerful voice within her laughed out of her broken mouth. She opened dead, hate filled eyes and bit viciously into the man’s shoulder. He barely had time to cry out a gurgling scream. It was the last sound he would make.

                    When they were finished two of the men were dead, the others lay unconscious on the ground. One, of course, had fled.

                    Most of the kindred were covered in blood but none of them showed any sign of having been injured, though their clothes put the lie to that. Kapueo and Ashley were hugging themselves as if cold, each knowing that they’d murdered someone, each knowing that they were no longer human. The others didn’t feel much better.

                    Gemma, when she was done feeding from her attacker, licked the wound like she’d seen Collier do and was amazed to watch the wound knitting together.

                    “I count five!” Aaron said, breaking the macabre silence, “where’s the sixth?”

                    “He’s too scared to talk,” Chrissy said to him.

                    “Okay, so we’re supposed to stay hidden and you just let him go?”

                    “He just got beat up by a girl, he’s not going to talk.”

                    “Yeah, but his friends got eaten in front of him,” AJ said, “he can leave the part about getting beat up out of the story!”

                    “He’s not going to talk to anyone!” Chrissy shot back confidently.

                    Gemma was about to add her two cents into the debate when she heard something behind her. She turned to see a large man, at least as tall as Kapueo, standing there wearing a red member’s jacket over a brown t-shirt with red, white and blue stripes across it. He wore corduroy pants and Adidas tennis shoes and had a mop of brown hair on top of a wide, grinning face.

                    “Hi!” He whispered, waving at her to join him in an exaggerated, childlike fashion.

                    Gemma walked over quietly into the shadows of the tomb he had been hiding behind. ““My name is Gabe!” he whispered, “What’s yours?”

                    “My name is Gemma.”

                    “Oh, wow, that is so pretty!” he said, “my mom’s name is Theresa, she’s pretty too! I’m glad you’re still alive. I wasn’t sure it would work but I did what the others did. Tina and the others all took turns making the other dead people drink their blood but they skipped you. I like how you beat those guys up, just like you did Hugo!”

                    “Hugo?” Gemma’s mind was reeling.

                    “Yeah, he’s the vamp – uh – Kindred that you made leave last year,” Gabe told her, “he was real mean to me, he called me a pitiful ghost who needed to leave ‘his cemetery’.”

                    There was a moment of sorry and then Gabe said: “I’m sorry about using the vampire word, I know its bad to say it. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi.”

                    There were gunshots, four in quick succession, and Gemma turned to see Chrissy standing over one of the corpses they’d left behind. She turned back to Gabe, but he was gone.

                    Gemma returned to the others to find that the argument was still going.

                    “You think that these three guys are going to report these two dead?” Chrissy demanded.

                    “I don’t know if you realize this, but I’m a fucking Sheridan, and if any of them recognized me you don’t think they’ll use this to blackmail my family?”

                    “I want to try something when they wake up.”

                    “Gemma!” Chrissy demanded, “tell me you agree with me? They’ve already killed two people and now they want to hunt down the one guy that got away!”

                    “I…uh… what?”

                    Kapueo walked over to the giant of a man and kicked him awake. “Listen to me, bruh. We have to talk.”

                    He crouched down close. “Tell me your name?”

                    “Vince.”

                    “Okay, Vince.” Kapueo’s voice was deep, sonorous. “Why were you here tonight?”

                    “We were just going to get drunk and maybe kick some yuppy ass.” Vince said fearfully.

                    “No one sent you.”

                    “Nah, we just like this place. Cops leave it alone. People say its haunted.”

                    “What’s the name of the guy that ran away?” Kapueo asked, letting Vince look around at the people on the ground.

                    “Uh, I don’t see Rigsy anywhere,” Vince said sadly, “Ah, hell, Delmer, why didja have to kill Delmer?”

                    “We didn’t,” Kapueo said, “Rigsy did, biggie did all this, set you guys up.”

                    “He did?” Vince sounded confused, then angry as he stood up.

                    “Yep, I’m going to help you get your friends up and then you’re going to go deal with your friend Rigsy.”


                    “That traitor ain’t no friend of mine,” Vince said, “I’ll make sure he pays for Delmer, and for Junior. Rigsy’s dead meat.”

                    Kapueo turned to one of the others and after waking him up and looking him in the eye, whispered something to him too and then did the same to the last guy. Before long the three were up on their feet and limping towards their bikes.

                    “Thanks kid!” Vince called out, “we won’t forget this, you ever need help in a jam just ask around for Vince, I got your back.”

                    “Thanks.”

                    When he came back, he found that Gemma was telling them about someone she’d found in the tombs.

                    “He was like us.”

                    “Then we don’t have to worry about him.” AJ said.

                    “Yes, we do! He knows who did this to us.”

                    “Well, hell, where did he go?”

                    “He literally disappeared after we heard Chrissy shoot those bodies.”

                    “So, you walked off into shadows and –”

                    “What the hell happened here?” Algernon asked them from the cemetery side of the wall.

                    “We protected ourselves.” Gemma said.

                    “Alright, everyone back in the car.” He said, “we got to take this to the Modius.”

                    “What about these two?” Kapueo asked.

                    “You fed on them?” he asked as he checked their necks, their arms.

                    “Yeah, but we closed the wounds and then shot them a couple of times to make it look like a hit.”

                    “You learned that trick?”

                    “From Mr. Collier.” Aaron said.

                    “Very good.” Algernon said, “But the bullet wounds explains the number of calls that have been made to the police tonight. This is a tourist heavy site after all. We should leave now.”

                    “I need my car, its just a few miles from here.”

                    “We’ll worry about your car later, Mr. Sheridan, I promise. For now, though, the Modius awaits.”

                    They followed him to where he parked the car but had to wait as he made a call at the pay phone at the end of the block. Though he claimed to be taking them to the Modius, he passed the dilapidated mansion they’d met him the night before and drove some miles south. Eventually they reached the Northridge Industrial Park, where he took them on a small jaunt until he pulled up in front of the Clarinet Cookie factory.

                    He opened the passenger side rear door and bade them exit. “the Modius awaits inside.” He said with a slight nod.

                    The front door of the old factory building creeped open as they approached, and they were met by an old black janitor whose nametag read “Morris”. Morris was short and stocky in the way only someone used to a lifetime of hard labor could be. He was bald and had a soft, careworn face that was currently slack and expressionless, and his eyes were glassy and dull like the old butler’s eyes the night before.

                    The machines were still warm from the work that had taken place here only a few hours before and the entire factory smelled of fresh baked cookies. Morris took them through the factory, his movements efficient if oddly fluid. And as they moved between the machines, they began to notice that they were not alone. Here and there they caught glimpses of robed figures darting through the shadows toward the exit and before long they came to what looked like the back offices of the factory floor where they saw a small group of robed and hooded figures encircling two others.

                    “Thank you, Master. I shall not forget this honor.” Said the shorter of the two figures before leaving with the others, leaving the final, incredibly tall figure alone.

                    The Master turned and looked at the young kindred and they saw that under the hood was a slight figure wearing a sequined black mask that covered his entire face. The figure possessed a rather unique looking crown that looked like a cylinder on its rather fanned out end. The top of the cylinder seemed to have been fanned out similarly. For just a moment Gemma swore she recognized it from one of the ancient history courses she’d taken the year before.

                    The figure threw the hood back and removed the mask to reveal the pallid face of the Modius. His jet hair was a mass of wild curls, his van dyke mustache and beard unkempt. There was far too much growth in the mustache for it to have occurred over a single day.

                    The Modius bowed at the waist and the others followed suit, leaving the Modius visibly pleased. He nodded to Morris and the Janitor turned and took a seat on a small metal bench, his face just as slack as it was before.

                    “Please,” said the Modius, “follow me.”

                    They followed him upstairs and through the back office to a locked door that he opened with a key he kept on a golden chain. The chamber within looked for all the world like another office, though the walls were a dusty red, and the floor seemed to be black marble. Windows dominated the entirety of the right wall, while a small finely crafted wooden desk sat against the left wall. The back wall was covered in sumptuous red drapes that framed a small altar upon which sat a wooden tabernacle that held a relief image of a large black king and a small black queen surrounded by a golden aura.

                    “Persephone.” Gemma said.

                    “Indeed, she is the Maiden Goddess whose mysteries to whom my little circle of worshipers is dedicated.” The Modius said, “Please, please I must hear what happened in the graveyard. I must hear what you have learned.”

                    “There were guys,” Kapueo said, “and they started shooting at us. Things kind of went south from there.”

                    “They started by saying they were going to rape the women,” Aaron added.

                    “The Green Lawn Motor Club,” Chrissy added.

                    “They then shot at me and the others,” Aaron added, “Five of them were neutralized and while the sixth got away Cap may have dealt with that.”

                    The Modius nodded.

                    “We were drawn there by the presence of a puddle of blood.”

                    “Ah, yes, that I can explain.” The Modius said, “there is a young Kindred who claims the cemetery as his home, a man-child by the name of Gabriel Lavoie. Gabriel was a mistake. Whether they thought it amusing or were indulging in a curiosity, one of my Clan embraced a retard. Perhaps they thought the curse might rectify his nature, but they were mistaken. But as he keeps the Masquerade and never leaves his father’s grave, I have allowed him to live. My guess is that the blood was a gift from my childe to help him feed.”

                    “I think I saw him while we were there,” Gemma said, “was he alone?”

                    “Yes, he refuses to leave his father.”

                    “He mentioned that he’d been watching when we were made.” Gemma said, “that he was there in the graveyard that Mr. Collier found us.”

                    “Interesting,” The Modius said, running his hand through his unkept van dyke. “he doesn’t usually talk to other Kindred and, as I said before, I was under the impression that he never left the cemetery. What else did he say to you?”

                    “He mentioned someone named Tina.”

                    The Modius cocked his head to the side in a decidedly inhuman fashion, not unlike a dog trying to reason something out. “What did he say about this ‘Tina’?” he asked.

                    “He mentioned her as a friend, or an acquaintance,” Gemma said, “and said that she might have been involved in what has happened to us.”

                    “What makes you think that?”

                    “Some of the things he said,” she said cryptically.

                    “Please,” the Modius’s demeanor changed, his eyes seeming to pierce into her very soul, “Be specific.”

                    “He claimed that he was there when the others changed us,” Gemma relented.

                    “Did he say how many there were?”

                    “I don’t think so,” she said, “though he talked like there were a lot of them. He only mentioned Tina by name. Do you know who she is? I would like to speak with her.”

                    The Modius went preternaturally still for a moment, and in that moment he was a ghastly thing, eyeless and bone white, a sneering statue made to look like a macabre mockery of a man. Then he flickered out of existence, appearing at the window overlooking the factory, his right hand upon the glass and his long nails glinting in the dim light.

                    He spoke to them without turning around and in that moment, they were all glad for it.

                    “No, dear child, I do not know who this ‘Tina’ person is, and that troubles me. I condemn her of course, her and her little band of anarchists. They are the worst kind of Kindred, and no doubt in league with Barbosa.”

                    “What?” Chrissy asked.

                    “Barbosa?” Gemma added.

                    “That’s a name,” was all that Kapueo added to the conversation.

                    At their reaction the Modius turned around again, and was, to their collective relief, once again himself. He put his hands behind his back as he spoke. “Barbosa is the Kindred who claims Dominion over the City of New Calais to the south. We have been rivals for centuries, but recently he declared Praxis over Bishopsgate as well, a claim that he is ill equipped to support.

                    “I had thought I had burned out the last of his sycophants within my domain,” the Modius continued, “but these monsters are doubtlessly his agents hoping that in defying my laws, they will weaken my position in the city and allow him to usurp it from under me.”

                    He turned to Gemma then, “that they would commit their crime so close to Gabriel’s home, and that he claims some sort of connection with you is surely no coincidence. I have no doubt that he knows something of your murderers. Which means that you may have a better chance of finding them, or least in finding this ‘Tina’ if you procure his help. Should you choose to do so, of course.”

                    “Do you have any suggestion on where we might start looking?” Gemma asked.

                    “No,” he said flatly. “I’ve already made my suggestions, it is clear that I am at a loss as to who these fiends are and will have my own agents looking into it. That being said, should you choose to move forward with your investigation, you may do what you will with the criminals with my full authority. No Kindred who calls Bishopsgate home will stand against you. And should you and they both survive your encounter, bring any prisoners to the mansion on St. Charles, I would have a word with the criminals.”

                    He removed a plain white business card with a phone number scrawled onto it in archaic script. “You may contact Algernon with this number.”

                    He looked up at the eastern wall of the factory and then removed a watch from his pocket, “It turns out I do have a piece of advice for you. Find shelter soon, for the sun is one of the few things in this world that can still bring death to our kind.

                    “On a final note I leave you with two demands that I will brook no descent with: One. Do not return to your past lives. Make phone calls, write letters, do everything in you power to break ties with the lives that you once lived. You are dead. It is best that you remember that.”

                    “And two. Do not leave Bishopsgate. While my word is law here, Barbosa has declared the Embrace of new childer punishable by final destruction for both the criminal and their victim. If you were to return to New Calais as you are now you will be discovered and dispatched in short order by his hounds.”

                    He glanced at the door and it opened, revealing Morris waiting for them patiently.

                    “Good day, young Kindred.”
                    Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-28-2019, 01:54 PM.


                    Call Me Ray.

                    Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                    Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Algernon had been true to his word and had taken them to the Fairway plantation after their meeting with the Modius had come to an end.

                      They found the house seemingly abandoned, though there were signs that the double front door had been replaced and the front windows had been boarded up.

                      “Not even police tape,” Aaron said.

                      “They stole your car, brah.” Kapueo said conciliatorily.

                      “Yeah.”

                      “We’ll find them and kill them,” Kapueo added, his tone still comforting, “don’t worry.”

                      “Yeah,” Aaron said, only half listening, “That was a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air with less than 1000 miles on it.”

                      “I know man.”

                      “It had all of its original parts. Oh, it was so classic. It even had the classic Larkspur Blue and Polo White body paint.”

                      “I know, man,” Kapueo said, his arm around his smaller friend, “and what’s worse, I had coke in that car.”

                      Aaron almost choked on the laugh, “can’t wait for that to be recovered. Classic Sheridan.”

                      “My car is gone too,” Gemma said, her voice tight, “and Chrissy’s wandered off somewhere.”

                      Chrissy, for her part, had wandered into the woods after a large shabby looking hound that had been wandering by the Fairway when they’d pulled up.

                      She’d noticed that it wore a collar which had made her feel bad, but the hunger was gnawing at her so tremendously that she couldn’t really think about that. Chrissy had never been particularly good with dogs, but this one seemed to be legitimately afraid of her. It was something else she could chalk up to her new, unliving nature. But something inside of her, that same feral voice that had cried out and been pushed down earlier when they had brawled with the bikers, took offense to the animal’s reaction to her. It took some work, and a short game of fetch, but even with its hesitancy she was quickly able to gain its trust enough to be able to get her arms around it. She hadn’t wanted to kill the dog, but its blood was so rich and vibrant and musky, and she had been so very hungry that she hadn’t been able to stop herself.

                      “Where have you been?” AJ asked her when she cleared the foliage.

                      “I’m sorry if I scared you guys, I just… I was so hungry.” Chrissy said, her friend trying her best to comfort her with a hug as she sobbed. “He was such a good boy, he just wanted to play.”

                      Aaron stepped up, “So you’re saying you’re more willing to feed on a puppy than a rapist?”

                      “Yes, Aaron,” AJ said, “She’s so hypocritical for seeing human life as more important than that of a dog.”

                      Aaron scoffed and walked back to the Modius’ car where Algernon was waiting.

                      “Can you take us to Sheridan Retreat?” Aaron asked, giving Algernon the address.

                      “Okay, I can get you there, but after that you will be in the wilderness and unless you can find the phone you’ll have to walk to get anywhere.”

                      “Yeah, we get it.” He said as he got into the back of the car.

                      Sheridan Retreat was an old ruin of a Greek Revival plantation house. Once it had been the vacation home of the Sheridan family, but after the war was all but abandoned. Aaron was glad to see that work had continued over the last couple of days, as it looked to him as though the tree had been removed from the house’s foyer and second story. The work that Kapueo had been doing when Aaron had been concussed.

                      The others, including Kapueo, started walking toward the house wondering aloud how they would hide from the sun in this when Aaron whistled loudly and bade them follow him. He took them around the house and toward a hilly area not far from the tree line.

                      “Oh, dude, right on.” Kapueo said as he realized where they were headed.

                      “What?” Ashley asked.

                      They didn’t bother answering as they rounded the hill revealing that it wasn’t actually a hill but a storm shelter. An old one to be sure, at least as old as the house, though such buildings, called sod houses out west, weren’t uncommon for laborers and slaves in the years before the Civil War.

                      The latch to the door’s lock was clearly broken but despite that the door was hard to open, forcing Kapueo to throw his shoulder into budging it open. The inside was overstuffed with ancient moldering furniture. That was the cause of the door’s jamming and, after an hour or so of moving things around, produced just enough room for them to scrunch down with their knees in their chests to stay low and out of the sun’s reach. Chrissy insisted that she had no need for the shelter, which worried her friends.

                      Aaron left an hour before sunrise and was running to get in as the sun began to shine through the trees.

                      “Where the hell did you go?” Kapueo asked.

                      “I had to get something to eat. It took some work, but I was able to get some food.”

                      “Dude, you killed Bambi?”

                      They both laughed over their stupid little joke, and Aaron never admitted that he’d fed upon an opossum that he found playing dead.

                      “Where’s Chrissy?”

                      “Don’t know, she went out just after you and said she’d see us at sundown.”

                      Aaron moved as though he was going to say something but then the sun took him. He looked to Kapueo like nothing more than a corpse and as he sat there, waiting for it to take him too he looked over at his new friends and wondered what was in store for them in the nights to come. Wondered at what it would feel like to live to see another century, another millennium, and as his eyes came to rest on AJ he watched as her still form crumbled into dust and ash.

                      As the sun took him, all Kapueo wanted to do was scream.
                      Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-28-2019, 01:55 PM.


                      Call Me Ray.

                      Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                      Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It could just be that I'm reading this on my phone but I'm pretty sure this needs an edit.
                        Your players have a great back and forth and what an ending.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Is it a spacing issue? Because I don't know why its like that. If its a writing thing... yeah, I'm not great.

                          Edit 1: Okay, figured it out, just don't know how to fix it, might have to go back to formula.

                          Edit 2: Okay part2, Deleted it all and reposted it. Still not entirely sure how I did that. Thanks for the heads up, Bait.


                          As for the ending... don't get too excited, the players chose to begin the next game in media res, so they kinda just 'ignore' it because they knew what was going on out of character.
                          Last edited by Gnomish American; 08-28-2019, 02:03 PM.


                          Call Me Ray.

                          Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                          Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Actually it was the repeat of certain parts of the story, I'm sure that bit about them finding water was repeated but giving how phones love moving you around when you move them in any way I didn't want to claim it was you at fault.
                            As for what's going to happen I'm guessing Chrissy is a Gangral. Going to reread it now that you've edited it. Keep 'em coming.
                            Also you are a great writer, if I could write up my games like this my own AP would not have been abandoned.
                            Last edited by Live Bait; 08-29-2019, 05:33 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thank you for the compliment, but coming in at ~ 9 pages and 1.5 hours per hour of play, my way of transcribing is extremely time intensive making it hard to keep up with and motivated. Knowing that people are reading and enjoying it definitely gives me a reason to keep going, though. Thanks, Bait!


                              Call Me Ray.

                              Southern Gothic - Welcome to New Calais

                              Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander in the World of Darkness

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X