November 13, 2009

Lucifuge and Bright

It needs to be mentioned that we did do one more thing that night before I went to sleep for the day. Gio finally found the old cassette player he'd been looking for, and we were finally able to listen to the tape that we had taken from the Family Vault.

The tape cracked and popped with static. The voice that came through sounded familiar, but younger. Less gruff.

"Test? Good. Hrrmm. If you are listening to this tape, then you are either Giuseppe, you work for him, or the family has fallen, and you're a looter, sifting through the ashes... Heh. Suppose it hardly matters, then. Either way, if you're one of Giuseppe's, I hope this reaches you, and him, in time to be useful. Hell, maybe you'll even be able to help us out.

There's something going down, something with a scar in the meat packing district. That much pain and death, it... warps the spirit of the place. I've tried to find out what sort of sick spirit is running the place, but whatever it is, it's good at hiding. I do whatever bindings I can, but the Beshilu are everywhere in that place, and they chew through too quickly. There's a smell, though, something I can't quite place, but...its one of us. It's some kind of tainted Uratha, some thing that's sick on the inside, spirit sick. It's out here I think, in the city, and it's... look, it's getting stronger. I don't know any way to explain it to you, but it's growing in power.

And if we fall, that'll be why. I know you're in charge here, and if there were some way I could reach you, I would, but you're incredibly difficult. And this is the kind of thing for an alpha to handle."

There was the sound of muffled voices, the rattle of someone messing with the tape recorder.

"So do your damn job. Whatever this is, Bella isn't tough enough to handle it. Maybe you are."

Another voice could be heard in the background. "Sam, you comin'?"

And the tape recorder clicked off. We all stood there in silence for a good minute. I reached over and took the tape out, putting it away in one of the drawers that had no key. "How long ago do you think that was made?"

Gio shook his head. "No idea.. but he sounded a lot younger.. but I mean, it couldn't have been that long ago could it? He mentioned Bella, so she was alive, and she was either in charge, or they knew she would be."

I pulled out my phone and texted Giuseppe.

From: H
To: G

Have a message for you that you really need to listen to.

I waited, but he never responded. Goddammit.. where the hell was he?

We discussed the meaning of the tape for a few more minutes. Goi thought he recalled someone mentioned a spirit in the meatpacking area of town before, but the memory was escaping him. I called Tommy, but no answer. Gio said he'd go see if Volkas was back from tending to his niece yet. For now, we didn't know what else to do. Spirits were not our forte.. though we had begun to get so mixed up with them, we needed to find some way to fix that, fast. It was too close to dawn for me to be anymore help in the conversation, so I went to bed thinking about rat spirits, slaughterhouses, and hoping I could get a hold of my aloof sire soon.


December 3rd, 2009

I checked with Nobody as soon as I was awake. He'd gone out during the day and set up the black box in the tunnels. He and the others wanted to update me on what had happened while I slept, but Rowan was coming tonight, and I desperately needed to feed, so it could wait.

I loaded up my weapons, 9mm in the thigh holster on my right leg, knives in sheaths on my left. Hard as I might try, I just couldn't get used to carrying a gun in a shoulder rig, or anywhere else. Ever since Korea, it just felt wrong. Sometimes I'd carry at the small of my back for the sake of concealment, but ever since I learned how to make them damn near invisible anywhere on my person, it was a moot point. Quick drawing from the small of your back is always going to be a little slower anyway. As I set out I contemplated upgrading the 9mm Beretta to something with a bit more punch. A .45 would be more effective in those rare times I was shooting at something that didn't shrug off bullets like mosquito bites.

Rat hunting was less than glamorous, but it was a means to an end. I was out for about an hour hunting. After about 20 minutes, I felt it. That itching on my back. I still couldn't make out anyone following me anywhere, but I knew they were there. I looked for the culprit, like I usually did, and kept hunting when I didn't see them, like I usually did. As I crept through the tunnel I had in mind when I had given Nobody the black box, I still felt like I was being watched, so I triggered the recorder with the small remote concealed in my palm. I'd thought ahead and put a small piece of electrical tape over the flashing light so it wouldn't give away it's position.

After that, I kept hunting until I was full, and headed back to base. I made sure not to change my behavior in the slightest.

I found Nobody first. "Can you get the box back for me tomorrow morning?"
He scowled at me. "Why? Get Rebecca to do it."
I frowned at him. "She can't. You put it up high. She can't play spiderman like you can."
He just glowered at me. "Fine. Fuck off."

Someone had their panties in a twist tonight. I left him to his brooding.

I walked into Gio's lab and was surprised, the homunculus was gone. "You finished it?"
He nodded. "Yup. Chesh should be back soon. He wanted to take the new body out for a spin." His grin was proud.
"How did you get the Pyros into it without Icegalos?" I inquired. I was glad he'd been able to figure it out. Chesh would prove useful. That, and it would've been infuriating if all that time gathering parts was a waste.
"Ingeniuty," Gio replied. "I went out for a drink to get away from the annoying changeling asshole and wound up at the Hair of the Dog. I met a very interesting man there, one who had a lot of stitches and made all the patrons pissy. I followed him out, watched him tear off a werewolf's arm that messed with him... since I recognized him as the Promethean Icegalos was talking to, the one that made the pandoran we fought, I figured he could help me. And he did. I came back here, got the body and the pyros, everyone else decided to tag along to his junk yard. He made them wait outside.. and there was some incident with a zombie cat while they waited that you'll have to ask Nadi or Rebecca about. And the weird caretaker from the cemetery and a friend of his showed up to talk to the Promethean, who I have dubbed 'Marv' since he won't tell me his name, no idea what about."

I smirked. "Marv? Really? No wonder people hate us."

Rebecca was in the living room and filled me in on everything else. She had gone with Nadi to see Blueford about warding her laptop, but Becca couldn't recall anything that was said or done in his office. I was mildly perturbed by that, but he's a mage, what could I do? All she knew was that they left the laptop, and Nadi now had a very old book she had been pouring over for the last few hours. Afterward they had met up with Giovanni and headed out to the junkyard.

"So whats this about a zombie cat?" I was more than a little perplexed.
"Oh uh..yeeah." Rebecca looked a little sheepish. "Nadi and Nobody were bored, so they found a cat to bring back to life to hunt rats while we waited. It..uh..wasn't happy with us. Then two people I'd never seen before showed up and killed it, telling Nadi she should know better, and that the junkyard was just another type of graveyard..."
I just looked at her incredulously, shook my head, and walked out of the room.

"Boss! Wait! The car was on the news!" She called after me. I turned back around and lifted a questioning eyebrow.
"Yeah, news report on the car.. no real info from it, but..ya know..weird thing was.. one of the forensics team that was milling around in the background was palming something red and shiny like, the entire time."
I frowned, brow furrowed. That was not good. I didn't expect Bright and his cronies to get involved with a simple 'person in the trunk of a car' case. I wondered if we'd have to deal with them every time we called Martindale now. "Thanks for letting me know, Becca." I headed to the lab.

I walked back into the lab right as Cheshire returned. The thing fucking swaggered. I stood there, admiring it as it padded across the floor to Gio. "Impressive."
It flicked its tail and looked at me. "Thank you."
I raised a brow in mild surprise. "You can talk now."
Instead of answering that painfully obvious statement, he turned his attention back to Gio. "Boss, we have a visitor. It's Her." And he turned and sauntered back out towards the tunnels. Gio and I exchanged a glance and grabbed the others, heading out to the tunnel entrance that that Chesh had exited through.Which 'her' was he talking about?

She was standing just outside the door. Everyone stopped and just stared. She was beautiful. Dark hair falling around her shoulders and down her back in waves, white satin gown hugging her generous, but not too generous curves.. she was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. She looked to be roughly 19 years old, but we all knew she was significantly older than that. Chesh was draped across her shoulders like a living (if you can think of him as alive) stole. She idly scratched between his ears and he was honest-to-god purring.

Gio recovered first. "Hey Boss."
"Very well done, Giovanni."
Gio nodded. "Thank you. He seems to like it too."
She smiled and continued to pet Cheshire as she looked from one of us to the next. "You called me here, and I decided to answer.. I find the desire to check in on my people from time to time. I hear that you have been dealing with some.. difficulties." At this, her eyes focused on me. I was pretty surprised. I was expecting this to be mostly Gio's show, but she seemed to expect an answer from me instead. However, Gio responded before I could.
"Difficulties? Which ones? We have a lot to choose from. The first one that comes to mind is finding Thomas Mattheson."
"Ah yes, Mattheson. Why do you wish to find him?"
"Well.. if you didn't already know, he's my father..." Gio said this with no small amount of scorn directed at the idea.
A brief expression of annoyance flicked across her face, so brief, as a matter of fact, that I was unsure I'd seen it at all. In a moment of sheer curiosity, and stupidity, I focused on the Lucifuge's aura.
"Yes.. we.." I didn't hear the rest of her response. The sight of her aura was all I could comprehend for a few seconds

She looked absolutely angelic. White robes, soft feathered wings, the works. She was even more beautiful like this, if that was even possible. She turned her head slowly to regard me, and her eyes were that of a snake, vertical slits for pupils, greenish yellow in color, but it wasn't enough to counteract the vision of her. She spoke to me, but I didn't hear it. Instead, I felt it in my mind. "Do you like what you see?"
I answered truthfully, thinking my response. "You're beautiful."
She smiled, and the vision was gone.
"...venge, besides, if I get rid of him, that's one more spot that could be filled by someone who may end up on our side." Apparently I missed the first half of this conversation, only coming back to reality halfway through Giovanni's statement.

"I see. He has indeed been an annoyance to us. I will tell you he was associated with the Marcone family long ago, who were very focused on the profession of their eldest son." She was still looking and talking to Giovanni. Apparently her exchange with me hadn't been seen or heard by anyone else. I felt a little weird after that, though I'll be (further) damned if I could explain how.

I frowned. "What profession was that?"
She just smiled. "I cannot give you all the answers. How would you ever learn if I did?"
I muttered under my breath, "That sounds familiar." She just smiled at me.

Gio paused for a moment, then laughed to himself. "So, I have to ask. What did Giuseppe's face look like when he tried to kill you with fire and nothing happened?"
"Much like all of yours. Confused, angry, but determined. Determined to become more than he was- what he knew he could be." I noticed something odd as she said that. Her eyes flicked to me, then quickly to the lower left, before returning to my face. It was like she was glancing at something on the ground to my left. When I glanced myself, however, there was nothing there. Curiouser and curiouser.

"You still have the necklace, yes?" she said, still smiling.
I nodded. "I do."
"Good. If you need my assistance, it can be used to summon me. However, I recommend that this only be used in dire circumstances, a situation of the utmost importance, because I do not advise that you waste my time." She gently slid Chesh from her shoulders to the ground. He padded over to Gio and sat next to him. "Now, I will take my leave. It seems that you have other visitors to attend to." She glanced to the tunnels behind her and to the right, the tunnels that led towards Giovanni's shop. We all followed her gaze, and when we looked back to her, she was gone.

We all looked at each other coming to a decision without a word spoken, and set out down the tunnels towards the shop. We climbed out of the manhole in an alleyway out of sight of the front of the building. Once we were all out and accounted for, we stepped out of the alley and headed for the shop.

On a park bench, directly across from the entrance to the shop, sat two men. One was Martindale, folded newspaper sitting next to him on the bench, and the other was a nondescript man wearing heavy gloves and smoking three cigarettes. Both wore thick wool coats. I noticed our groups distinct lack of said coats. I don't think anyone had grabbed theirs as we were leaving. They must be freezing. I probably looked pretty strange standing out in the frigid air, wearing jeans and a tank top, and not shivering in the slightest. At least the weapons were hidden. I really more important things to concern myself with at the moment. We approached the bench. They weren't surprised to see us.

"Well hello people who I have no knowledge of ever existing." Martindale said.
Gio grinned. "Howdy." Then he looked over at the mystery man. "Those things will kill ya you know." I'm not a big joker.. but I couldn't help but think that comment would've been more ironic had I said it. Oh well.

The man gave us a scornful look. "Like I care. Not like it's my body. So you people have things that I want, but I take it all those things have been moved out of their previous location since we were so rudely delayed by a certain agent who I will now make it my personal mission to destroy." We just let him talk, which seemed to suit him just fine. He looked at me. "I think we should discuss our mutual taste and interest in jewelery sometime." I just cocked an eyebrow at him. I didn't let it show on my face that I was mildly surprised he knew about the necklace. These guys must have eyes fucking every where. I did not like that one bit.

"I will be honest. My first instinct is to take this warrant," he held up a folded piece of paper, "and use it to not only comb through your shop which has, naturally, been indicated to house a terrorist group and their supplies," I raised an eyebrow and smirked to which he interrupted himself to respond, "Oh yes, the Patriot Act has been very gracious to people like me.. I can get away with damn near anything in the name of fighting terrorism. But I digress. I can use this warrant to comb through this terrorist haven, report that it has been cleared out and proceed to process the haven, anything left inside, and any escapes routes that might be hidden, say, in the basement. When I process locations, I tend to do so with a fuck ton of armed personnel." I cringed inwardly. The only part of that bothered me was the escape route. I did not want Maury's haven under attack by some treasure hunting quasi-governmental agency.

"Now. Like I said. This was my first instinct. However, I was contacted by someone, my... rival, if you will..."
Martindale put a hand to his chest in mock gratitude. "Oh you flatter me."
Bright, which is who we figure this was (sans monkey body) continued. "and encouraged me to first begin by being...civil. Something I am not very practiced in." He gestured to us with a gloved hand that held the three cigarettes. "So this is me.. being civil. I would...appreciate.. the opportunity to move within the shop unrestricted tonight in order to make sure those items of interest have all truly been taken care of." he made the request as though he hadn't just threatened us with violence a few seconds earlier.

Gio stepped to one side and gestured to the shop. "Right this way."

Bright tossed the spent cigarettes on the ground and smashed them under his boot heel. He took out a pack from inside his coat, pulled out three new cigs, put them all between the pointer and middle finger of his right hand and lit each one, exhaling a huge cloud of smoke before standing.

Martindale also stood and handed me his newspaper. "You should check out the sports section. There's a good story about the Cubs in there." He didn't even bother to make significant eye contact. It wasn't at all necessary. I could already feel the stuff file folder that had been slipped in between the pages of the newspaper.
I nodded and tucked the paper under my arm. "Sounds good. I like the Cubs."
Nobody snorted. "The Cubs fucking suck."
Nadi said, deadpan, "I prefer the Red Sox."
I choked back laugh. I was pretty certain Nadi felt the same way about baseball as I did: fucking useless.

We all walked towards the dark Antique Shop.

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