Ch 1: The Telltale heart
~ Private Airfield, north of town ~
The jet landed an hour after sunset, depositing the ragtag group from its windowless private luxury into the chilling air of the autumn desolation north of the city. Luckily, they were not left to wonder how they were getting back to the city; waiting for them was a stretch limo, the windows as black as the paint job.
One by one, they piled into the limo, Angel protectively clutching the box of sweet treats she and Claire had purchased in Luxembourg. Shadows, as the de facto leader of the group, had been given possession of the dirty ceramic jar that housed the still-beating object of their European jaunt.
Unlike the sugar-sweet honey blonde, Micheal Anderson was exhausted, and it showed in the dark circles that weighed under his eyes as he hefted the pile of luggage into the trunk.
Claire was afraid of flying, so he'd done his damnedest to keep talking to keep her mind off the fact that they'd been cooped up for hours in a tin can 50,000 feet, give or take a few, in the sky. Now he was stuck with not only his bags, but pretty much everyone's. He didn't so much mind getting the girls' luggage, but Angel's boyfriend and Kain were taking advantage of his chivalry, too. It kind of sucked.
By the time he had all the smallish bags packed into the trunk, everyone else had settled themselves into the limousine, and he had to crunch up between Kain and the door, thrusting a further cloud over his normally cheery demeanor. ~ Elysium - Eclipse Basement, shortly afterward ~
Knuckle Cracka', as the large black man was affectionately called by those who knew them, had left his post long enough to open the limo doors, extending his meaty palm to help the occupants out of the car, though he seemed more interested in the dirt-caked jar that Shadows carried than the safety of any of the group members.
Once they were out of the car, he jerked his bald head toward the stairs down, where K.C. was waiting, popping her gum in irritation. There must be big business going down tonight for both of the Brujah to be guarding the door. Then again, their delivery to DuBois was pretty big business to her.
Once through the heavy steel door, they were greeted once again with the normal scene of the Elysium. All of the destruction of the attack had been cleaned. If one didn't have intimate knowledge of the raid, it would be hard to think that the Elysium was attacked at all.
There were clues, of course. Under the paintings of the clan symbols on either side of the room, the tables and chairs were all new. All of them. Even the Tremere seating arrangement, which had lain under a thick layer of dust in the past.
At the far end of the room from the entrance, as always, sat the Prince of the City, in her throne upon the dias. Two steps behind and one to the left of her was her loyal guard, the Japanese Ventrue known only as Saro. To the right, looking up at her, a small stage was situated, where the flaxxen-haired "daughter" of the Prince was seated at the baby grand piano, wearing her normal white sweater and leggings and playing a lovely little tune.
The woman on the throne lifted her head, arching a finely sculpted brow as the strange group entered, her usual smile absent today. She was still as breathtakingly beautiful as ever, though; it was a preternatural gift bestowed upon her by the great age of her unlife. Most vampires never changed in their appearance, but DuBois had grown more lovely over time, her alabaster skin flawless and her eyes dark as the night sky. She wore a blood red evening gown tonight, a departure from her usual black, and from her ears and throat dripped rubies and garnets, and her Toreador signet ring graced her right ring finger, both hands absent her usual pair of tall opera gloves. Instead, her perfectly manicured nails were painted the color of heart's blood. Even her black hair, piled atop her head in curls that spilled down like a waterfall, had been colored crimson, bleached and over-dyed halfway down to match her clothing.
The Prince of Tarrytown was obviously out for blood.
"Mes cheries, you have returned." Her heavily accented voice filled the room, even though she made little effort to raise her volume above a comfortable level. "I will assume that you were victorious in your little quest, and you have brought me the tool you sought?"
Her eyes flickered over the group to rest on Shadows and the ceramic vessel in his hands. "And what is this?"~ Our Lady of Sacred Heart, Kitchen ~
Marie winced as she stood over the sink, wearing a camisole for modesty as she changed the dressing on her wounded shoulder. The bleeding had stopped, but the mousy brunette was still in a good deal of pain.
"My child, you should see a doctor," her best friend, who just happened to be the night shift priest, remarked, and was answered with a shake of her head.
"I don't have the time, Father." She closed her eyes against a wave of nausea as she pressed a new clean pad of gauze over the seeping wound, letting the sick feeling pass before she proceeded to wrap a blood-stained ace bandage over the dressing. "There is far too much work to do. Too much to be cleansed."
"Marie, even the son of God had to rest, at times. You cannot do His work if you put yourself in traction."
"Father, I know my limits, and this doesn't even approach them. You know that." She tried not to let the pain flicker across her face as she pulled her fuzzy black sweater on, then slipped her mud-brown ponytail through the back of her Cardinal's ballcap that she settled on her head. She turned to him, taking a deep breath. "When the abominations cease to rise in the graveyard and the monsters stop eating innocent people, I'll rest."
He sighed, having known that that would be her retort. He would just have to call a doctor to make a house call.
"If you'll excuse me, I have to go reload the arbalest." She shouldered past him, grabbing up the backpack with the aluminum baseball bat sticking out of it, throwing it over her uninjured arm as she threw open the door leading directly into the parking lot. ~ Gwenna Morridain's School for the Gifted, Grand Entranceway ~
To others, the Princess would look to be a teenage girl wearing a grey knife-pleated skirt and matching vest over a long-sleeved white shirt with a red bow at her collar, straight black hair falling to the small of her back. To the two new students of the school, though, she was a breathtaking elfin creature, with a shock of white hair framing her face. The fall of her floor-length black tresses was held back from her face by a silver circlet, regal in its simplicity, sitting above long pointed ears angled toward the back of her head. Her features were exquisitely chiseled, as if she were a living statue of pale stone sculpted by a master artisan.
She wore cloth woven out of dreams: a chain mail dress with a floor-length black tabard edged in silver, emblazoned with a shield cendrée, pale dancetté or, a unicorn's head sable, erased and crined sable
, belted at the waist with a length of black leather, weighed at her left side with a silver filigree basket-hilted rapier. At her shoulders were silver pauldrons that, even though unattached to anything else, somehow held up a full black cape that spread regally on the stairs behind her.
At her left was a troll in full shimmering armor, wearing the same tabard that she was, albeit much shorter on his eight-and-a-half foot tall frame. His black hair was pulled back into a complicated french braid, and he stood painfully straight, with a broadsword sheathed on his back and his helmet, hammered from a shimmering dream-metal to accomodate the horns that rose straight up from his temples, under his left arm. To mortals, though, he would appear as a tall, athletic teenage boy with a too-serious look on his face for the snarky t-shirt he wore over his battered jeans.
"Welcome to Gwenna Morridain's School for the Gifted. The headmistress is currently unavailable, so I will be handling your entrance. Before I lead you to your new rooms, do you have any questions?" the awe-inspiringly gorgeous princess asked. ~ Emerald Tower, Lobby ~
Michelle Anderson stood impatiently, head tilted and heeled toe tapping as she waited and waited and waited. She'd been waiting for over an hour for the new people to show up, and they still
weren't here. She sighed and cast a glance about the room, ignoring the twittering birds and other wildlife that were displayed on the screens rounding where the ceiling met the walls, screens that showed the interior of the forest-inside-the-building.
The bank of chairs at the left of the room was empty, and the exceedingly shy girl at the receptionists' desk was wisely ignoring the pinstripe-clad waiting woman. Michelle tended to have a wee bit of an attitude...And that tendency had grown since her twin brother had traipsed away to Europe without so much as asking her if she wanted to go along. The bastard.
She sighed again, walking to the silvered glass doors set in the bank of silvered glass walls, leaning forward and clasping her hands behind her back as she looked out onto the main street of the city, frowning in boredom.