“No Kindred is safe.”
Thursday evening, 10 March 2016
GM: Celia falls asleep. One second later, it’s hours later. She’s starting to forget what that transition between wakefulness and sleep even felt like. She’s in bed by herself. Roderick’s left a note, along with some folded clothes.
Guess I’m an earlier riser than you. Text me when you’re up.
Celia: He was supposed to wake her. She’d told him that last night before they’d gone to bed to begin with. “Wake me so we can talk,” she had said, and he’d agreed.
Better this way, though. Maybe he’s done with the bodies already.
Celia glances at the time on her phone as she unlocks it to send him a text. She checks her messages while she unfolds the clothes he’d left for her, then glances at the door. Did he take his people with him? Is she alone in the house now? Did he leave the phones for her to try or did he back out of that and take them with him?
GM: Celia looks alone in the bedroom. She may or may not be alone in the rest of the house.
Roderick’s left behind three phones on the bedside table. This time, however, Celia does not appear so lucky. All three ask for a PIN.
She also has numerous texts. The first that catches her eye is from Logan:
Ugh Emily can be such a bitch. You try to do something nice
Celia: He’d left them. All of them. All three phones, waiting and ready for her. All she has to do is slide into the clothes, call a Ryde, and take them to Lebeaux like she’d planned. She’s meeting with him anyway to fix Tantal and find out what happened with the other hunters.
Only… she doesn’t know if she wants to take them to Lebeaux. He’d hidden things from her before—for your own good, kid—even when she had been the one to get the objects for him to test in the first place. She almost expects him to tell her the same thing about this meeting that she’d made possible by killing the hunters and by getting into the phone and by changing the ghoul’s face and by giving him the idea to bug the stake, which gives them more future information. She’s sure he’ll pat her head for it, then make some comment about it being need to know or above your pay grade or whatever other cliché bullshit he’ll use as an excuse not to tell her because he thinks she’s a stupid Toreador slut like everyone else does.
Just like she planned, right? Except somehow, when he says it, she’s still offended. He’s supposed to know her better than that.
Better this way, though. He’ll think she hasn’t put it all together yet.
Opening Logan’s text gives her a new idea, though. She quickly types in a response.
Think she was just surprised. You can do something nice for me, though. Got any nerdy tech-y friends?
She could try to get into the phones on her own. More difficult than just waving her hand at it like the warlock can do, and the fact that they’re all locked with a PIN makes it… unlikely. Ten thousand potential combinations, if her math is right. Possible lockout timer, which delays her from just punching in a bunch of numbers. The tech is out there to wipe the phone after too many tries, but she’d had a friend once who worked for a carrier and told her that most people don’t bother to do that. They’ll eventually be prompted for the PUK, her friend had said, which they get just by calling their provider and verifying the information on the account. Usually last name, phone number, address. Sometimes the last four of the social, or a birthday, or the PIN as well. Only problem is she doesn’t have that information, and she thinks Roderick might be over there disposing of the bodies right now, and unless the hunters brought their wallets and ID with them…
He’s smart enough to keep the IDs, though, if there are any.
Damnit, she should have gone with him. Even if she doesn’t want to simply hand the phones over to Lebeaux he could have done his witchy magic finger waving thing if she’d brought a blood sample. Could have found more ghouls to take on their identities. Infiltrate. Get rid of the threat before it gets any bigger.
She sends another quick text to Roderick: ETA?
Then her gaze lands on the provided clothes. Slacks, a blouse. Professional enough for her meeting with Lebeaux, she supposes, and she dresses quickly. She can change afterward. Bess’ clothing? Has to be. Unless Roderick has a harem of female renfields, and she doesn’t see why not. She tells herself the idea doesn’t bother her. That he’s probably not fucking all of them. That they’re probably not as horny as Alana is.
Feet bare, she pads toward the bedroom door. The place belongs to a human, he’d said. Stands to reason the kitchen is stocked. Garbage bags. Sandwich bags. Plastic bags. Tupperware. Her mom has piles of it in her house. Hell, even Celia’s haven has it. Ghouls gotta eat, after all. She opens the door and steps out to find something suitable.
GM: Lol I’m not friends with nerds, Logan texts back. But there’s a couple comp sci people I have classes with
Roderick replies after a moment: Pretty soon. Finished cleaning up my apartment. Want to go boating
Celia: To Roderick: Is that an invite?
To Logan: “Friend” is just a nice way of asking if you know any nerds lol
After a second, she sends another text to Logan. They around now or nah?
GM: The clothes are slightly large on Celia, but they fit well enough. The rest of the apartment looks like an older bachelor’s pad. It’s not as messy as a 20something’s, but her mother would probably find a lot of things to clean up from the pile of dirty dishes in the sink to the clutter left strewn over the the furniture. Most of the food looks like takeout, frozen, or canned, but she finds trash bags and plastic bags without issue. There’s even some tupperware, just not a Diana-level amount.
Roderick texts back, Was going to go with some friends, but could cancel for just us
Logan: I can try to hit them up, you need something?
Celia: She slips the phone into her pocket to search for the plastic bag in the kitchen. Gotta be around here somewhere, right? At last, in a drawer where they definitely don’t belong, she finds what she’s looking for. She pulls one free, shakes her head at the mess, and wonders what Diana would say if she could see this now.
Then it’s back to the bedroom to put the three phones into the bag. She makes sure they’re silenced—super awkward if they start ringing inside of her, right?—before she closes it. After half a second of consideration claws grow from the tips of her fingers, and she cuts into her own flesh, hissing as the skin splits beneath the nails. It’s fixable, of course, but it’s not pleasant to slice into herself like this. She needs to find a better way to smuggle things.
Maybe all those times Paul had taken advantage of her were—
No, she’s not going to let her brain go there.
She stuffs the phones inside and pinches shut her flesh.
Her attention returns to her own phone.
She texts Roderick back: nah it’s cool Idk where my bikini is anyway, call me after tho ;)
Then to Logan: Employee locked up salon phone, think they can help?
GM: She’s seen worse apartments, at least. Like Em’s. At least there’s canned vegetables instead of endless jugs of Nutella.
She remembers that. Ramen, booze, and Kraft mac and cheese. Cocaine in white plastic baggies next to the Nutella. That half-eaten white bread Nutella and butter sandwich. Stacks of Hot Pockets, bags of candy, Red Bull, and sugary soft drinks.
This man (it has to be a man) isn’t ever going to win a “best homemaker” award, but he isn’t living a 10-year-old’s dream diet either.
Celia: Celia is definitely going to tell her mom to bake this man some meals. Canned vegetables are not food.
She doesn’t wait for a response from either Logan or Roderick. She has a meeting to get to.
Thursday evening, 10 March 2016
Celia: Celia crosses the kitchen to the window and unlatches it, pulling down the screen. A moment of concentration and she’s not Celia anymore. The world around her shifts and changes as surely as her own form blurs. Things get bigger. Her bones hollow out. Feathers sprout in place of hair. The window that was within reach is suddenly feet above her head, and she’s left hopping across the floor on feet that don’t much like the smooth tile. Her arms—wings, now—spread to steady herself. She hops again, beating her wings against the still air in the kitchen, and after only a moment she has achieved flight. She soars toward the window, flits through the opening she’d made in the screen, and is free.
Paranoia makes her keep a sharp eye on the world around her as she soars through the sky, and she draws that predatory aura of hers inward just in case anyone happens to be looking. She’s nothing but a common nightjar now. Just another nocturnal bird going about its bird business.
The nightjar, or more commonly the nighthawk, is both nocturnal and native to New Orleans. So while it isn’t particularly pretty to look at—it’s actually rather dull, which serves them well in the wild when they sleep during the day—it’s the perfect thing she needs to get around the city unseen.
GM: Celia’s enormous new black eyes facilitate that sharp eye. The nightjar doesn’t have the best color discrimination, but it can see in the dark as well as any vampire. Her tapetum lucidum, that distinctive eye shine which night-blind humans lack, takes it all in.
But even her kind would still kill to have eyes like these, with each one positioned on different sides of her head. Her 300 degree vision sees in front her and across from her at the same time. Her peripheral vision is anything but peripheral, and the next-best thing to eyes in the back of her head. Sneaking up on a bird with with this vision is damn hard.
But none of that compares with flight.
Air rushes past her as she climbs the skies. She flaps her wings until she finds a thermal current, then just glides. Endless horizon stretches before her. Endless sky stretches above her. She flies.
Emily had gone skydiving once and been disappointed Celia couldn’t come with her: she said the experience was as exhilarating as it was terrifying, that it made you feel alive like nothing else and longing to be in the air again, once your pumping heart had calmed down. Perhaps this is like skydiving. She’s gone skydiving too, in a manner of speaking. But instead of falling like when her sire dropped, her dead frozen with terror as she fell and fell and fell, she’s in control. Her dead wings don’t get tired from flapping like a bird’s. If she soars high enough, the city becomes a speck in her vision, and all of its troubles and intrigues so small before her. She’s above it all. She has the freedom to go anywhere. To just fly away.
Celia: Nothing compares to flight.
No arms around her, no one holding her aloft. No thoughts of falling to the city far below. No wintry presence that steals the warmth from her, that steals her very life. No thoughts invading her mind. No terror. No hoping that someone doesn’t drop her.
She cannot fall, not like this.
She is in control now. She directs her body which way to go, which currents of air to ride. Wings outstretched, she rides the waves. There is little flapping in the flight of a nightjar; her wings are longer than they are wide, perfect for gliding through the air. And glide she does. More graceful in the sky as she is on two feet, the nightjar soars toward the French Quarter. A cry of jubilation leaves her recently narrowed throat, a bird-like trill rather than the exclamation of a girl.
This is what freedom tastes like.
GM: The Evergreen approaches soon. Much too soon.
But there has to be time for another few laps. She can go back. She can go anywhere. She can come back or leave forever.
Birds don’t know the freedom they have.
But maybe that’s because they don’t build cages.
Celia: Maybe she should leave forever. She’s thought about it plenty of times. Leaving the city behind. Living as an animal. A cat, to be adored, to be given the physical affection she so desperately craves. A bird, and she’ll never let her feet touch the ground again. Another step and she can be anything she wants. All she has to do is learn how.
All the time in the world up here for the bird, but the lick inside knows that’s not true. She has responsibilities to see to. A family to take care of. Up here, the problems seem so far away. Still, no matter how fast she flies, how far she goes, she’s always back by morning.
Jade casts her gaze toward the roof of the Evergreen, searching for the lord who holds his court there.
Better not to risk landing, even if it’s empty. She has no doubt that she will be delivered, staked, to her grandsire should she try it. She lands nearby instead, finds what cover she can, and shifts back. Once more humanoid feet touch upon the ground. The sudden mass of her body weighs heavily on her, as if it has thrown shackles around her heart and soul.
A prison, truly, this form of hers.
She does not dwell. She sees herself inside to find Lebeaux.
GM: The Evergreen’s rooftop garden sits empty to the nightjar’s sight. There’s the hot tub, the iron table, the cushioned chairs. It looks all-too easy to swoop down onto one of the many fruit trees. She could conceal herself amongst the thick canopy and the other birds and butterflies and beautiful things, and wait for her grandsire to show up. She could listen to whatever conversations the French Quarter lord might have in the heart of his court.
It looks so invitingly easy.
Celia: Her grandsire cages the other things. The songbirds in gilded cages, to be sure, but cages all the same. She is not a bird, and in this form not beautiful besides. She has no place atop this roof tonight.
GM: The same Louis Armstrong jazz merrily sounds throughout the Evergreen as Jade enters, though the main lounge has been cleaned up from the revels of earlier. Ordinary mortals talk, eat, and listen to music. Fabian greets Jade with the same smile as ever and directs her up the stairs to Lebeaux’s office when she asks whether the warden is present. She finds him typing into the computer at his desk.
Celia: She knocks on the frame of the door before she steps into his office.
“Good evening, Pete.”
GM: “Evening, Celia.” He looks her over. “I wouldn’t say you’re dressed down, but definitely sideways.”
Celia: “Careful Pete, I might think you’re paying attention to me.”
She slides into the seat across from him and crosses one leg over the other. The once-over she gives the detective is far less subtle than the one he’d given her. When she finally meets his eye again she winks at him.
GM: “I thought you were saving me for your mother,” he remarks dryly.
Celia: “Ah, see, I know you broke your own heart the other night when you told me it would never happen. I’m here to pick up the pieces.”
GM: “Of course. Offering me comfort in my time of loneliness and need.”
Celia: “What are friends for, right?”
“Should I close the door, Warden?”
GM: “Always, please, though I’m afraid my reasons will always disappoint a Toreador.”
Celia: She heaves a sigh, forcing air through her body to make the sound long and drawn out as she rises again to close the door before resuming her seat. She mutters something that sounds suspiciously like “tease” as she re-crosses her legs, just loud enough for him to hear.
GM: “Both renfields made the drop-off,” he says without preamble. “They’re back and in one piece.”
Celia: Thank God for that.
“Glad to hear it. I’ll see to yours tonight before I head out, get him back to his normal face. How’d it go?”
GM: “So far so good. They met with a couple other breathers who paid them cash for ‘your’ body. Provided them with an address in Mid-City for their next target.”
“Said there’d be good things in their futures if they continued to deliver results.”
Celia: “I hope I was worth a pretty penny.”
“Easy way to take out some enemies.” It’s not quite a question, but there’s a lilt to the end of the statement, a lift of her brows.
GM: “It is a time-honored tactic, yes. But my gut tells me to be cautious here.”
GM: “I suppose it’s possible, but neither of those two’s handlers said anything to indicate they were especially religious.”
“They had more to say around the bugged stake. They seemed to hold those two in contempt. Had another target for them in the Quarter, if they pulled off the job in the Mid-City.”
“Three missions for them to get in with the real team.”
Celia: “Well, considering I talked them into letting me kill them, I would also hold them in contempt. What’s your gut telling you is wrong? Sneak in, find out who they are, take them all out. In theory, anyway.”
“Someone give them my name or did they find me by accident?”
GM: Pete slowly shakes his head.
“Those two’s lives, whether they succeeded or failed in killing more licks to join the team, meant nothing to them. I could hear it in their voices. Absolutely nothing. They might as well have been talking about how long a set of batteries would last.”
“Hunters normally want to work together, if they can get past their mutual distrust. This apparent lack of practical and not merely moral regard for potential allies’ lives is very strange.”
Celia: “I assume the meeting location isn’t set up to be a long term thing. Renfields get any weird vibe from them? Met in the outlands, all sorts of scary shit out there. Could explain their lack of regard for human life.”
“Heard plenty of our kind talk like that before. Like humans mean nothing to them. Could be working for someone like that, even. Said it’s par for the course to go after enemies with hunters.”
“We get an image of them at all?”
GM: “You’re mishearing me. Ruthlessness by itself isn’t an uncommon trait in this life. Or even among humans.”
Celia: “Then what do you think it is, if my theories are off?”
GM: “Again, I don’t find anything especially noteworthy about their lack of regard for human life. I’m concerned by their lack of apparent regard for additional assets and allies when hunters normally need all the help they can get.”
Celia: Oh. She nods, already working out the possibilities.
“Just gonna think out loud here for a second. Every cop movie where the hero doesn’t call for backup is because he thinks he’s got it on his own. Could suggest they have more help than we realize, so these ‘casuals’ are just kept busy on small targets. Like when you tell a kid to go hide and you never seek. Or like how the FBI never wants to work with local city cops. Could be their plan isn’t to actually kill anyone, like a fake group, while they do other stuff. Pursue some other goal. Could be they’re looking for someone specific.”
GM: “Could all be. I’m going to recommend to Lord Savoy that we listen and wait until we have a clearer picture of what we’re dealing with.”
“Tantal and Pierre have descriptions, though no images. They weren’t snapping pictures.”
“It also sounded to me as if you were a target of opportunity. They said, essentially, that those two finding a leech on their own was the prerequisite to receive specific assignments.”
Celia: “Oh. Good. I was concerned I’d gotten sloppy.” Or that someone had sent them after her. “We know if they shared my identity, or is ‘Celia’ still safe?”
GM: “No Kindred is safe.”
“Speaking of, though. It doesn’t really have anything to do with that.”
GM: “Then what were you wanting to speak with me about, as far as Celia?”
Celia: “That was unrelated.”
“I have more that might clear up the hunter thing, though.” Claws again, pretty claws for the pretty Toreador, though there’s nothing attractive about the way she lifts her shirt to sink them into her body, or how she peels back her own skin to stuff her hand inside and grab the edge of the plastic baggie with the phones inside. She sets the grisly package on his desk.
“I need the phones back. But I was hoping we could go through them real quick.”
GM: Pete raises an eyebrow. There’s the faintest hint of fang at the coppery smell.
“Charming delivery. Where are these from?”
Celia: “Sorry. I didn’t want to lose them.” She pulls her shirt back down. “If you know of anyone who can teach me that prison pocket trick I’m all ears.”
“Got jumped by some hunters. They’re dead now.”
“Seemed more professional than the last two.”
GM: The Tremere frowns. “How would you say?”
Celia: “Maybe I’m wrong. But they got into a pretty secure place. Found the hiding spot. Very thorough searching. The other ones at the spa, they left Roxanne behind. Not even sure if they searched the place after grabbing me. Masks. Etc.”
“Plus I tried to hit them with some charm and they shrugged it off.”
“And I am very charming, Pete.” She grins at him. “Cutest person I know. Even you said I’m gorgeous.” She doesn’t wiggle her brows at him, but she definitely thinks about it.
GM: The Tremere frowns even more deeply. “That isn’t good. That can’t be a coincidence for you to get hit by a more experienced team the day after you killed another one.”
“You have their bodies? Blood samples?”
Celia: “No. I mean. I have their blood inside of me, but that doesn’t do us any good. And if I call the person disposing of them and say ‘hey I need some samples,’ they’re going to know I came to you, which I definitely implied I wasn’t going to do. Which is, incidentally, why I need the phones back.”
There’s a brief pause, then, “I do remember kind of, um, laying in a pool of blood for a minute, so I could disrobe if you can take some dry samples.”
“Chances are good they were drained before disposal, so I can get it, just not until later this evening.”
GM: “I could take a sample from you, actually. Depending how much you drank.”
“We are what we eat.”
Celia: “I was pretty empty when I filled up. On only two of them, though.”
Her fingers dance across her forearm. Nerves, maybe, at the thought of giving her blood to a Tremere.
“Can you do it here? Like now?”
GM: “I can do a basic divination that might not tell me any more than the phones can. I’d need some time to set up a more advanced spell.”
A text buzzes from Celia’s phone. The sender is Emily. The time is past 8.
Hey we’re getting hungry are you still coming for dinner?
Celia: “Can you set it up and I can come back? I have, ah, something else for you to test if you’re offering as well.”
She sends a quick text back: start without me, stuck in meeting sry
GM: Mom spent half the day cooking and getting excited she could ‘feed her baby.’ How much longer?
Celia: Celia silences her phone.
GM: “I’m old enough to remember when that wasn’t considered rude, because it never happened,” Pete says dryly.
“I’m not going to be here all night, but if you leave me something I can get you the results when I next see you.”
Celia: Her gaze drops.
“My apologies, Warden. I’m trying to handle a few things at once. There’s not enough of me to go around.”
GM: Pete grunts, opens the plastic bag, picks up a phone, and drags his finger across the screen. He taps into the old-fashioned keypad and frowns after a few more moments.
“Doesn’t seem to be a whole lot on this one.”
He sets it down, picks up the second phone, and repeats the process.
“This one’s got a search for an address in Mid-City. You have any backup havens there?”
GM: Pete looks through it for a few more minutes.
“Looks like your Anarch pal was the primary target, then.”
Celia: She nods. That makes her feel better, at least, about not dragging him into danger.
GM: He sets down the phone and picks up the third, repeating the process.
“Only real thing on these is calls made out to each other and a single number.”
“Guess what, though.”
“It’s the same one your other hunter pals were in contact with.”
Celia: “And the sample will tell you more?”
GM: “It potentially could.”
Celia: “What else are you going to do with it?”
GM: Pete raises his eyebrows.
Celia: Celia doesn’t say anything. She waits.
GM: “If you’re asking that you’ve already decided not to trust a Tremere. You can watch me do it if that’d make you more comfortable.”
Celia: “Pete,” her voice and eyes both soften, “I can’t think of anyone on the city that I trust more than you. I don’t think you’d go out of your way to hurt me, or even that you’d do it intentionally. So I’m happy to help if that’s what you need from me, but I don’t have time this very minute to do it. I can come back, if you can find time in your schedule for me.”
GM: “5 AM tonight. I’d say to tell your family I said hi, if that was them, but that’s probably a bad idea.”
Pete doesn’t actually look that much older than Celia, biologically.
But he looks worn. Tired.
Maybe even guilty.
Celia: “Actually… it might be a good idea. Maxen stopped by today, which is… why I was so rude earlier with my phone.”
GM: Pete looks up sharply.
“Fucking restraining orders,” he growls. “More useless than toilet paper.”
Celia: “My brother brought him over. Mom was sick, and I… it was day, so I couldn’t…” she trails off. She looks every bit the 19-year-old she died as, suddenly unsure of her footing.
“Emily stabbed him.”
GM: “Tell me everything.” The detective’s voice is deadly serious.
Celia: So she does.
Or at least she tells him most things.
She starts with the prior night, how Diana had confessed she was having nightmares about Maxen taking Lucy away. She doesn’t say where they were, doesn’t confess to trespassing in the Garden District. The summoning from her sire and the body he’d dropped at her feet. A loose end. How he’d thought to “teach her a lesson” by playing catch with her mother, though she doesn’t say why or anything else they discussed. The command he’d given her to remember it as a nightmare. Taking her mom back to her place, then the texts about being sick. Emily’s explanation on the phone, everything she had said about Maxen coming over, taking Lucy to school, Diana throwing out her meds, going at him with a knife. Celia calling Maxen, and him saying he “wouldn’t press charges.” She doesn’t mention their dinner plans, either.
GM: Pete listens intently the entire time, occasionally pausing to ask a clarifying question. His eyes harden and his knuckles tighten at the mention of Donovan’s ‘lesson.’ Finally, he says, “Okay.”
“Emily stabbing your father is bad. But I can’t think of anyone else who wouldn’t respond the same way, in her shoes, and it’s spilled milk anyway.”
Celia: “I set up a thing tonight so I could be with her in case the sheriff… in case he comes.”
As if she will be more than a mild inconvenience.
“I tried to get her to leave. To just… go away for the weekend, take Mom and Lucy, and they won’t listen to me.”
GM: “They don’t know the danger they’re in.”
Celia: “And what can I say? That the world is full of monsters and Maxen belongs to one? And he was weird about it, when I talked to him, he was all nice and smiling and it was… it was just off.”
GM: “I don’t know that you can say anything. They’ve set up their lives here and they hate the thought of running from your dad.”
Celia: “And I don’t know if that means that Donovan brainwashed him and it wore off or it’s a way to make me know my family isn’t safe or what.”
“But they have to. They have to go.”
“If they don’t leave then they all die because I don’t know what he wants, I don’t know what Maxen wants, or why he’s being weird, and I don’t know if it’s about Lucy or Diana or what he’s going to do to Emily now.”
“And he’s just going to kill them. They’re finally happy and they don’t know there’s a sword hanging over their heads, ready to drop.”
GM: Pete rubs his head.
“I’m thinking, Celia. But I don’t see a neat and clean solution to this.”
“Your father needs to go. Easiest way would be neutering his usefulness to your sire.”
Celia: “You think it’s him and not my sire pushing him into this?”
GM: “What does your sire possibly gain from Maxen playing nice guy to his ex-wife?”
Celia: “He knows that it’s the only thing that can hurt me. A long-range… manipulation or something.”
“I don’t know. But it’s more likely that than Maxen suddenly had a change of heart.”
GM: “You only use manipulation when you want to keep your hands clean, because you want to avoid the consequences of getting them dirty, or because you can’t win a direct fight.”
“Your sire threw your mom off a building. In front of you. He clearly does not feel the need to bother with manipulation.”
“I do find it very strange he would do that, though, while also being so kind as to deliver a loose end that threatened you onto your doorstep.”
Celia: “I have ideas for how to move against Maxen. I’ve been working on them. That’s part of why I needed to talk to Lord Savoy. I put a few things in motion already, and I have more in the works, and… I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t care, there’s other stuff too, I wouldn’t just bother him with my family drama…” she trails off, wringing her hands on her lap.
GM: Pete glowers at Celia. “Or maybe he remembers how that went down the last time you and him made a move against Maxen.”
Celia: “That, too,” she says quietly.
GM: “Don’t bother asking for his help.”
Celia: She doesn’t flinch, but only because she expected it.
“I wasn’t going to.”
GM: “Then why in the love of God would you want to talk to Lord Savoy about him?”
Celia: Celia leans forward, elbows on the desk. She cradles her face with her hands and shakes her head back and forth.
GM: Pete just effects a sigh.
“All of this has me thinking, though. Perhaps it’s time to take out the sheriff. Have to do it sooner or later. It’d be a near-knockout blow to Vidal at this point.”
“That idea’s above my pay grade, though. Savoy will have to give it the go-ahead. But it’d wrap up all your family’s troubles with a neat little bow.”
Celia: “And me?” she asks quietly. “What about me, when Savoy decides that keeping his childe’s childe around isn’t useful anymore because there’s no childe to use me against? What’s he going to do to me, when I’m just… just another loose end who messed up his plans once?”
GM: Pete glowers at her again. “I talked with Savoy about that. You got one pass.”
“Because no one was hurt.”
“Because his interests weren’t harmed.”
“Because I said your father broke you like he broke your mother, and you couldn’t bear to ruin your dear daddy.”
“Because Savoy believes in second chances and nurturing potential, and isn’t a bloody-handed tyrant who executes subordinates for their failures like our good prince.”
“If you think he’ll throw you out when the sheriff is gone, you’ve misread him completely.”
Celia: She’d never realized that it was Pete who had spoken to Savoy about what happened. She’d thought… something else completely. Something else that, if she’d gone on thinking it, would have gotten her killed in the end.
All this time she’d believed a dangerous lie. Had thought she was so clever for putting it together.
Maybe she is just as stupid as they all say.
Her eyes find the ground again, the carpet where her feet rest. She’s quiet for a long moment. There’s a faint whiff of something coppery in the air, but she blinks it back before it can do more than accumulate in the corners of her eyes. When she finally lifts her face to look back to him there’s nothing to suggest that she was ever upset.
GM: “You’re welcome,” Pete grunts. “I need to think a lot of things over.”
“It’s getting late. You might as well go see your family before they go to bed.”
Celia: “If you see him…” she takes a breath she doesn’t need, lets it out slowly. “If you see him, can you tell him that I have something for him?”
Something useful for once, but she doesn’t think she needs to say that.
GM: “I may not tonight. But sure.”
Celia: “I’ll be back at five.”
Celia rises to her feet, reaching for the phones. She slides them into the various pockets of her ensemble—she should change before she visits her family, she thinks—and turns toward the door.
As always, the meeting with Lebeaux is both better and worse than she expected.