October 9, 2009

That same night- thievery

While I was sullenly contemplating Giovanni's acute observation, He stood up.

"Okay! Now that that's out of the way. Lets go steal me some magic coins!"

"Now?" I asked incredulously.

"Yup. He's not going to be home tonight, says my trusty surveillance, and I now have the revised floor plans and intel on his security systems."

I took the file folder from him and scanned the notes on the security system. "So how do you propose we do this? Looks like he has cameras pointed at all entrances, and at that door to the target room."

Nobody shrugged. "I can just make myself look like him. If nothing else it will confuse the fuck out of him."

Nadi shook her head. "Wouldn't that be a little pointless? I mean, you'll have yourself, as him, on security cameras, picking the lock to his door. He'll figure it out."

Nobody paused, he hadn't really thought of that part. "I can work fast."

I shook my head. "Id say try to disable the cameras, but from what I can tell I can't do it remotely. I'd have to be on site and able to get past the security measures we're trying to disable."

"That and there's currently a standing order to kill you on site. I don't really think it would be smart to risk having you up top right now," Gio held up a hand to forestall my interruption. "Look, this is going to be tough enough as it is. It might complicate things. Just sit this one out. We'll be fine. We've got mage backup."

Nobody interrupted and curtailed any further objection I may have had.
"Hah! I've got it. We can go through the hedge!"

We all blinked at him. "Isn't that..dangerous? And weird?" Gio said.
Nobody waved away Gio's concerns. "I've got a deal with.. a transport company. I can get him to drop us INSIDE the room, wait for us to finish, then we can leave the same way. There aren't any camera IN the room right? He'll never know we were there.. well.. you know.. until his shit turns up missing."

"Wow, you came up with that all by yourself. I'm proud of you Nobody." I jibbed.
"Yeah, too bad you have to stay here all by yourself. You don't get to join in on the fun."
I flipped him off. He just grinned at me.

"Becca, go with them. Make sure they don't end up getting themselves killed." I muttered, annoyed.
"Sure boss." She disappeared into the other room and retrieved her new weapon of choice... the tire iron.

Gio made a few calls, and they left, off to meet Shay at the Crowbar.

I wondered how long I could actually keep myself down here. I was guessing not very.

I took in a breath- an action becoming less and less familiar with every passing night- and tried to let the anger seep away, tried not to think about Prince Maxwell and his fucking ultimatum. Despite Giovanni’s observation, my blood still ran hot with suppressed rage when the subject of my excommunication crept to the forefront of my mind.

Instead of pouting that I got left behind, I decided to use the time to get some meditation done. I wanted to figure out just how my head had been changed by this mysterious 'disease'. I flicked the lights off and settled on the floor in the center of my new bedroom. I forced the blood to my eyes and watched the dark room brighten from pitch blackness to dim twilight. No shadows hid within the walls tonight.

I inhaled again, closing my eyes as I forced the breath out of my lungs again. I began to block out the external stimuli as I delved deeper into my own thoughts. I focused on my own internal battles, seeking to separate myself from whatever it was that might be lurking now in my mind. I would find whatever it was Clark was so afraid of. I never expected what actually ended up happening.


“What are you looking for?”

I sat across from myself in a small room. The carpet was plush, colored a dark red. I left deep footprints in it when I stood to pace. The room was dimly lit and sparsely furnished. It only held a lamp, a mirror on one wall and two comfortable chairs. I looked up from my pacing when the other spoke.

“I’m not sure. Something different. Isn’t that was madness is? Something foreign in my mind? Something that shouldn’t be there?”

The woman seated in the other chair smirked. It had been a long time since I had looked at myself. I wondered if this was what everyone else saw. The woman was tall and slender, long legs crossed at the knees as she reclined in the chair. Her red hair fell around her shoulders and shone bronze in the dim light. Pale skin made even paler and red hair deeper after no sun for over a year. She wore the same clothing, snug dark jeans and black tank top, but she had a more a haughty air about her, a predatory aura I didn’t remember ever having. She regarded me as I paced, green eyes following me like a cat as I moved around the room in agitation.

She seemed amused at my discomfort. “Is that what madness is? Are you sure it’s not something that was already inside you that was just awakened? Maybe something like me. Most people consider talking to themselves a sign of going nuts.”

I frowned. “You aren’t foreign. If I delve into my own head I expect to have a conversation with myself in one form or another. You’re my… Sophia, so to speak.”

“Ah yes, Jung’s “animus” theory. I supposed calling me by your own name might feel awkward... so if it makes you feel better, I won’t sit here and point out the flaws in that rationalization. But you never answered my question.“

I waved her hand impatiently. “I’m not crazy”

“I never said you were. I was just proposing an… alternate theory. But if you don't know what it is you are looking for how will you know when you find it?”

“It will be different, something unfamiliar.”

“Will it? Maybe you should focus on the vast number of other moral quandaries you seem to have first. How can you recognize a foreign element if you are not sure of your normal mindset?”

I shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

She scoffed. “Hah! Alright then, I suppose you need handholding. Let’s start with the group of misfits you run around with. How do you feel about those comrades?”

“They’re decent people, in one form or another… I may not always like them, but I feel like I can at least trust them not to stab me in the back. Except Nobody, but I know if he does stab, he’ll at least avoid the vital areas.”

“Interesting. Would you die for them?”

“I would, if it was needed. They were willing to be torn to shreds by Clark and his cronies for me. I’d do the same.”

“Would you kill for them?”

I paused in my pacing and considered. “I suppose if they were being directly threatened, yes.”

“What about indirectly?”

I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall furthest from my seated counterpart. “I don’t know.”

She steepled her fingers and smiled at me. “Interesting.”

I scowled. “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”

Sophia shrugged and leaned back in the chair. “That, my friend, is your decision.”

I hugged myself, a ghost of the nervous gesture I had while alive. Something I hadn't done in ages. I wasn't liking the turns this inner dialogue was taking. “Why don’t I know? It seems a simple enough question. Would I kill to protect those I care about? Bad guys versus good guys, I thought it would be a simple answer.”

Sophia tilted her head and regarded me thoughtfully. “Do you really think it is as simple and the “good guys” and the “bad guys”? Do I need to remind you who it is you work with? A mobster with a sordid history of god knows what, a faerie assassin who has killed more changelings than you care to know about, and a death mage who you have witnessed murder at least one man, regardless of whether it was an act of mercy or not. Should I go on? I could start listing out the misdeeds of your more… immediate “family” if you like. Take your sire for ex..”

I slammed my fist into the wall. “That’s enough.“

Sophia smirked and leaned forward, resting her chin in her hand. “So tell me… why hesitate? You obviously don't want to see harm come to any of them. I know you covet the resources to be able to protect them, protect your little world, how far are you willing to go to secure that power? Why do you fear the actions that may be required to attaining your goals?”

I began pacing again, my increased agitation evident. I REALLY didn't like this conversation. “What happens if the price of power is death? When does it become too much? What is going to stop me from becoming a monster? Killing indiscriminately?”

“Is that what you’re worried about? Becoming an ‘indiscriminate’ killer?”

“I don’t want to be controlled by the beast. I'm not a murderer."

“So you want to remain in control…Interesting. Tell me, had you been in control of the serial killer, what would you have done?”

Anger flooded my body at the mention of the killer. I spat a reply before my mind had fully registered the question. “Made him come after me so I could rip his fucking face off.”

Sophia chuckled darkly. I froze as my words registered. “But he was.. is.. evil. He was killing innocent people. He was using us for his games!” Rage colored my voice. “Why the hell shouldn’t I? I’m protecting people by getting rid of that murderous psycho!”

Sophia smiled. “But you aren’t really sure of that now are you? You doubt. You know that Don Matthews managed a clinic that was running painful and deadly experiments on supernaturals. You know that Louie Ramone was in bed with a pit lord. You know that Peter Drake had a less than savory reputation in certain circles. As for the others… well… you really don’t know if any of the victims were “innocent”. So is that really why you are so angry? Or is it because he was stripping you of your control? Making you his puppet? Getting in your way?”

I looked at her uncertainly. People die every day, murdered every day. Maybe she was right. If it was the deaths themselves that I was so concerned about, why was I only focused on THIS killer? Why wasn't I willing to stop looking for him when he offered to stop killing if I did?

“You are afraid. You fear these uncertainties, you fear your beast…you fear the places that this path might take you… I wonder what your sire would say to such a mindset. He does not seem to fear his path.”

“Giuseppe makes his own fate.”

“And you don't?”

I regarded Sophia with a pensive frown. She stood from the chair and padded towards me. “Your sire doesn’t fear his path because it is the path of his choosing. You could have found an area of city with a decent mortal herd and set up a place of power for yourself, like so many other kindred, but you didn't. You chose to come here. Fight this fight because you felt it more important. But now, how can you be sure you are doing the right thing? Everywhere you turn there is more uncertainty. Are you really a “good guy” Harper? Is there even such a thing?”

She flicked her fingers dismissively. ”I suppose you could always turn away from it if you wanted too… if you’re so worried about taking a misstep.” Sophia stood in front of me with her hands on her hips, her expression mocking.

I stared at her, fists clenching and unclenching slowly, eyes narrowed to slits. She simply laughed. God, she was a bitch.

“So much anger! Fine. I guess turning away is not an option, if this really is what you feel is important. So how do you deal with the uncertainty? If even those who seem evil may, in fact, be capable of doing something good? If those you feel are noble are given to sinful pursuits?”

“I won’t kill any of them.”

“Never ever? I didn’t realize you had aspirations of dying for your little cause.”

I glared and walked to the other side of the room, turning my back to her. “If there is no way to be certain, then I won’t seek to end a life unless it is completely necessary. I cannot treat one life any differently than another.”

“It’s almost as life can be seen as… interchangeable…”

I turned and stalked back to Sophia, barely controlled anger making my voice shake. I got up in her face. “I will not allow my beast to make these decisions for me. I will not allow myself to lose control and take a life. Any life. I will control this beast to do as I see fit, for my own aims.”

“You do not seek to rid yourself of your beast? If it is so troublesome…”

I closed my eyes and took a few steps back away from Sophia. I briefly wondered at the psychological repercussions of punching your own inner voice in the teeth. When I opened my eyes again, the anger was gone, and with it the fear as well. I felt myself come to a solution, a resolution. I knew what I needed to do. Sophia watched me intently. “If there is anything I learned from the Nahuali it is that the beast can be a powerful tool. It is part of me. To deny it would serve no purpose. I will not, however, allow it to dictate my actions. I KNOW what I am doing is important, and I will not abandon it out of fear or uncertainty. This is my path, and any action I take, any life I end, will only be by my rational decision, and ultimately will be my responsibility. I will only take lives necessity dictates I must to fulfill my purpose.”

Sophia smirked. "And who gets to decide whats necessary?"
I felt my expression harden, it was empowering to finally be rid of the useless hesitations. "I do. My path, my decisions."
She seemed proud, eager even, and still mocking. “It seems you have solved some of those dilemmas. How do you feel now that you have chosen ‘monster of necessity’ over ‘indiscriminate killer’?”

I mirrored Sophia’s haughty expression and lifted my chin defiantly. She was trying to test me by using that phrase, testing to see if I would return to my spiral of self doubt. I just stared at her. “Satisfied that it will be a monster of which I have control.”


I opened my eyes. The anger, fear and uncertainty were gone. I felt... determined… and cold. I stood slowly. The potential madness still eluded me, but it seemed less important now. I was in control, and would remain that way, goddamn it. Mystic madness or not. I heard my beast whispering in the back of my skull. I smiled and for the first time since my embrace, silenced it. I quieted the blood roaring through my veins until my body was still. I would have to change other things as well. I decided the only way to be sure to keep my promise to myself was to avoid feeding on people. Animals would do until I was sure I could avoid losing it while feeding. I wondered how long I could keep that up, I knew that some vampires, like Maury, couldn't gain any sustenance from animals, or even humans. But I felt more in control of the blood. I felt like I did when I finally learned my first Coil. I smiled.

I walked out of the room with the knowledge that if Giuseppe were here, he would be proud. I had progressed without him here to help, in more ways than one. Hell, I was proud of myself. I ignored the faint sound of Sophia’s laughter that echoed through my mind. My inner voice talking back was normal right? Right now, it just didn't seem important either way.

I felt more confident and competent then I had in a long time. I hadn't realized till now how much my doubts had hindered me. I felt empowered, but colder, more calloused. A life was a life. I had no more room for classifications of innocent or guilty, righteous or evil.. now it would be help or hindrance. It was a much less subjective and a much more useful classification.

Nobody and Gio would be surprised. I smirked at the thought. They seemed bent on making me as monstrous as they were. They won't be expecting me to have a... new outlook. I contemplated how I could use it to fuck with them.

I noticed my cell flashing. A text had gotten through even with the shitty signal down here.

Text From: Tommy
To: Harper, Giuseppe
Stone returned to the pyramid sometimes after the battle in Mexico. He smashed the alter and cracked a secret chamber in the top of the temple. A magic mirror inside was attracting and devouring ghosts from as far away as New Orleans. Chamber has been resealed and the Guardian of the Mirror/ Servant of the Raven has been released. Natalie has passed on. Last Words, "Find Stone."

Interesting. I walked into the computer room to reply. The Nuahali came to mind. A smoking mirror maybe?

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss

Guardian of the Mirror? Servant of the Raven? details. Any leads where Stone may be? Did you take the mirror? Any idea what it was for?

Text From: Tommy
To: Harper, Giuseppe

Mirror was left sealed in chamber so it wouldn't cause more problems. Guardian and Servant are the same person who is very old, seems of native ethnicity to the region, and definitely not human. No idea where Stone went next.

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss

Where did Servant go? Say Anything? I'll look out for S here. Keep looking. This fucker is riding my last nerve. We went into undertown. Not a lot of cell reception. Leave msgs. I'll be sure to get back to you. Keep me posted. That temple still has a lot of mysteries..

Text From: Tommy
To: Harper, Giuseppe

The Servant went into the woods near the temple. My impression is he'll not stray too far from it and probably works for the local death god.

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss

He have a name?

Text From: Tommy
To: Harper, Giuseppe

Servant of the Raven is the closest thing I got.

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss


Text From: Blocked(2)
To: T, H

Find the Nahuali. Mexico City. They're the kind of people that would nail some poor fucker to a wall.

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss

That and worse. But they know their shit. Take a tour of the University while you're there. Good info there I hear. Boss- what the fuck are you up to this time?

Text From: Blocked
To: T, H

Hunting, as always.

Text From: H
To: Fluffy, Boss

Keep in touch. I'm on the trail of a few things you would find greatly intriguing. You should stop by sometime.

I waited a few minutes but got no response. He was busy, as always, if he knew what was going on in Mexico. Obviously Tommy didn't know he'd been there. I never thought I'd actually miss Giuseppe, but there it was. But it was irrelevant and useless. He'd show up when he needed too. The fact that he wasn't here meant he trusted me to handle things on my own. Or he was here and I just didn't know it. Or both.. who the fuck knew. However, that was one feeling I couldn't quite get rid of.

Tommy (aka- Fluffy... if he keeps calling me babe, I'm going to start referring to him like that in all conversation.) also needed to learn not to be so open with info on an unsecured line.

I thought about what Tommy had said, but didn't come up with anything really. I didn't have enough information. I kept it in mind as I walked out of the room. The others where coming back in and they sounded like they were in good spirits. I guess that meant no one died.

They were carrying boxes of shit and grinning their asses off.

"What the fuck? I thought you were just after a few coins?" I said as they walked by with the boxes.

Becca set a box on the table. "Yeah, but when we got in there there was just too much stuff to pass up. Besides, makes it harder to figure out what we were really after."

"Fair enough." I paused and inhaled. "Good Lord, you guys reek. Did you burn the place down?"

Gio laughed. "We couldn't deny Shay her fun."

"Well fuck. I guess I was better off not going then. I didn't know arson was on the to do list. What did you guys manage to snag?"

We dug through the boxes a bit. Nadi was interested in the three folios they had grabbed. They were in some language none of us but her recognized. One of those that makes your head hurt to look at.

I frowned down at the box, digging through its contents. "Is this going to come back to bite us in the ass?"

Gio shrugged. "When doesn't it? But in the mean time, we now have a lot of potentially cool shit...so I'm going to count it as a win."

I smirked at him. "You know... I'm okay with that. At least we'll be expecting it this time."

Becca related the story to me, everything from the ride in the carriage with the goblin and the sentient horse, to going through the locked room, to Shay being wreathed in fire and setting the place ablaze when they knew the mage was on his way back. Apparently Gio had someone on surveillance outside who used the chance to bust into the front and take some shit too.

It seemed too easy, but like I said to Gio, it would probably come back to bite us in the ass. But information isn't really worth shit if we don't have to work for it.

We spent the rest of the night going through some of Maury's journals (as The Collector had pointed out earlier, it was very seldom Maury left visitors in a room alone with all his writings.) And doing some research on Bedlam. I planned on tracking down Joseph tomorrow night. I still had a lot of unanswered questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments or questions are welcomed