Last time the four mages went to Chinatown to meet with Miss Sakova, Llewellyn Shaw’s “collections manager” and ghoul. They got Shaw’s attention and Sinon suggested to him (fictitiously) that he would kill Lacey Chalke and frame Maggie Fang for the deed in exchange for the mask. The next step is to meet Maggie Fang, and they’ve heard that she tends to conduct moonlit rituals in public parks, such as the Botanical Gardens.
We open in the sanctum. Sinon has been on the phone with Shaw and the two mystegogues have had their tete-a-tete.
Blackjack to Sinon. “So how do you want to play this?”
Sinon turns toward the Arrow. “Shaw has agreed to the ‘deal’. I assume it would be easier to work this through if Maggie agrees to hide the girl for us. So, peaceful if at all possible.”
“I understand.” BJ makes a note to put away the heavier weapons.
Aurelia: “And if she doesn’t?”
“Shaw is her… mortal enemy. She /will/ take any opportunity to undo him.” Sinon stands from the couch. “If she doesn’t… well, it would be best if we left /quickly/.”
Several minutes pass as the mages throw various plans back and forth…
Elithora: “Okay, so we’re trying to trick a group of apex predators that the blood of one of their own has been spilled.”
Sinon: “All we need is one of them to /think/ that Lacey was killed by Maggie—and to make sure that Shaw hasn’t sent his own spies to observe.” Aurelia: “I think it’s best if we get them to cooperate.”
Sinon: “I agree with Aurelia. It will be easier if Lacey agrees to the plan.” “Do you think Lacey will go for disappearing? How do we convince her?” Blackjack frowns as he looks over the group. Sinon: “She will only have to hide long enough for Shaw to play his hand with the Prince. Once he has done that, he will have stepped into the trap and she can reveal his duplicity.”
“She’ll agree. She’ll have to agree.” Aurelia looks a little less confident “It’s Maggie that’s the real issue.” Sinon nods. “She is a potential wild card. We’ll have to hope that her hatred of Shaw is enough.”
“She doesn’t like him. We know that much. Vampires are vain — do we have any token to offer her?” Elithora weighs ideas for a second. “I suppose bribing her with a few bags of donor blood won’t do much.”
Blackjack: “Perhaps we do not give her a choice. Hand her a fait accompli. We frame her. Then give her the choice.” Aurelia: “Maggie? Look, I know I can handle the younger one, but I don’t want to try running Maggie. We have no idea what she is even capable of!”
Sinon moves over and leans against the bar. “The only problem with framing her ahead of time is, we don’t know what she looks like.”
Elithora:“It is possible Maggie will do it for the sheer bitchery of it all. Who knows how many times these two cats have hissed at each other. Especially if we do the lifting and she gets to look clever in front of her parasite friends.” Sinon: “Plus, if I’ve read Shaw correctly, he will attempt to use ’Maggie’s’ actions with the Prince. When he does, she can produce the childe herself—revealing his plot right then and there. If I had an enemy /I/ hated as much, I wouldn’t be able to pass up the chance.” Aurelia:“Alright. Well I’ll be on hand for the negotiations but we get out the second bad stuff starts happening.” Sinon and Blackjack, simultaneously: “Agreed.”
Elithora starts shuffling the deck with her eyes focused on nothing. She breathes into the cards, “Is Maggie Fang at least enough of a wretched bitch to do this?” The mystagogue lays out two crosses without actually looking at the cards until she’s done and then snaps back to reality. After 15 minutes of mulling over the cards, she scoops them up, shuffles, and slides them into her box. She comes downstairs looking somewhat more confident. “The Devil’s Advocate was in the future of Waning Empress and underneath Rebuilt Tower. I think we’ll have Maggie’s ear.”
Elithora glances to Sinon. “Logistics are the dire bear as always.”
“So, it’s a normal Tuesday then.” Sinon grabs his peacoat from the bar and puts it on.
Blackjack shrugs. He picks up his normal carry Glock and the revolver carrying the Dragon’s breath rounds. He then slides on his normal sport coat over it.
Eli drops her deck into her purse, slips her heels back on, and checks herself in the mirror. “Whose car?”
Aurelia: “I’ll drive. I think Sinon needs to prepare.”
Blackjack looks at Eli. “Do you happen to have any flats? They might be better.”
Elithora sighs in a truly put-upon way. “You want me to impress a vampire in flats? I’ll bring them.”
“No but they are easier to run in.” The Arrow shakes his head.
Sinon heads out to the car and slides into the backseat. His hands dart about as though he is moving objects in the air. He is accessing his Life Armor and Mental Shield apps.
Blackjack akes shotgun.
Elithora slides in back next to Sinon. Her cabal mates really need more faith in the power of impressing vampires with style.
Aurelia preps a quick mental shield as she drives to the park.
Blackjack closes his hand and bows his head for a moment. Casting forces armor on himself.
ELithora: “Is anyone specifically point man on this?”
Blackjack turns his head to Sinon, raising his eyebrow to amplify the question.
The cabal is headed toward Queen Elizabeth Park.
“When we get to Maggie, let me do the talking.” Sinon pauses for a second. “It is my soul on the line, after all. Before we reach her—either Blackjack or I in the lead with the other following up behind the two of you.”
Elithora holds up two fingers and makes a counterclockwise motion towards Sinon. The Guardian has developed a tactile sense of time—as though he can grab it in case of emergencies.
Blackjack: “If you are going to be talking then I will let you take point. I will take the rear.”
Aurelia pulls up at the park.
The night is a bit warm, even at this hour, and the parking lot of the park is mostly empty. A few vintage-styled lamps cast pools of warm illumination on the path, and the night is alive with the sound of living things – chirping insects, birds, and the like.
Sinon steps out of the car before Aurelia has fully stopped. He places his hands in his jacket pockets and waits for the others to get out.
Blackjack stretches his hands apart for a moment as he casts omnivision.
“Aurelia – can you keep a look out for any minds that might be about?” The Guardian turns toward Elithora and Blackjack. “By reputation, Maggie comes to the park to perform rituals of some form. Any ideas on what would make a good location?”
Elithora: “Somewhere secluded but aesthetically appealing. Tricking yourself into it is half the battle.”
Aurelia pulls up mindsight.
Blackjack and Elithora have been in the park a couple of times and think the rose gardens area is probably the most likely setting. It’s lush and has a fairy-tale atmosphere that would probably be irresistible to the more self-serious sort of vampires. It’s some distance down the lighted path, or they could head “overland” across the grass.*
Elithora points to the lighted path.
“I suggest open and direct. I’m not sure how quiet I would be.” Blackjack rather politely does not suggest that the others might be like elephants.
Sinon nods and heads toward the path. The lit, longer route does not seem to sit well with him, but if the group is going to parlay…
They head down the path – Sinon in front, BJ in the rear, and the girls in the middle, I assume? – and for five minutes or so, it’s pretty much a walk in the park. There’s a cool breeze from offshore, the tops of the trees are swaying, and the insects are singing. Then it gets quieter, and the lights up ahead seem to be burnt out or otherwise inoperative.
The shadows lengthen as the rose garden approaches, although they don’t see anything yet…
Aurelia sees a few minds around – glowing dimly in the way that undead minds do. They’re keeping their distance behind and to the sides of the cabal watching this group moving purposefully toward the gardens, clearly unsure about what to do next.
Aurelia: “They appear to be waiting for us… and there’s a sleeper I think.” Blackjack: “Tell them to just cut out the theatrics or let them have their posing?” Elithora: “A sleeper? I wonder if they’re involved or just an entree.”
Sinon considers for a moment. “They can pose all they want.” No expression passes his face at the mention of the sleeper, but his hand grips the Dragon Breath-loaded revolver in his pocket. He continues toward the garden.
Aurelia follows. Elithora likewise follows in formation. “Warm up your silver tongue.”
Blackjack keeps an eye out and follows along.
The waist-high wrought-iron gate to the rose garden slips open soundlessly. The gibbous moon shines down over the well-tended bushes, at the center of which stand a small circle of figures – four women and two men, all mostly nude, their bodies marked up with elaborate geometric designs.
*The mortal, the Sleeper, is a young woman in jogging pants kneeling amidst them; she looks asleep or drugged.*
Blackjack tenses with anger, his jaw clenching. Teeth grinding a bit. His eyes stay focused and clear, keeping a 360 view eye out.
Sinon steps forward and calls out “Maggie Fang?”
One of the women – an Asian woman with chalk-white skin, long black hair hanging down past her waist – takes a sheet from one of the others and deftly cinches it around her waist as she approaches. “In the flesh. And who might you be?”
“Someone, who like you, wishes ill to Llewelyn Shaw.” Sinon takes in the position of each of the vampires he can see. “The members of my community know me as Sinon.”
She laughs musically. “If that’s your name, then I wager they don’t know you very well at all.” She holds up a hand. “I don’t expect you or your kind to know about or respect our traditions, but now that you are here I would have you speak plainly and then leave quickly.”
“Very well. Mr. Shaw has asked me to frame you for the final death of the Prince’s childe. He has offered an item to me in payment.” Sinon pauses for a moment. “Mr. Shaw has… disrespected me. Given your animosity, I propose to let him /believe/ he has framed you.”
She raises an eyebrow. “That tramp? I’ll say this; Llewellyn’s at least chosen a plausible story.” There are a couple of chuckles from the toga’ed cultists beyond. “What do you have in mind…Sinon?”
_ppups: (thats so awesome… “So I was going to frame you for this murder…” “Oh good call, that’s totally plausible”)_
Sinon: “My associates and I can make the childe’s coterie believe you or one of your followers has done the deed. I suggest that you could hide her rather than have us destroy her. When Mr. Shaw tells the Prince… well you can correct any misconceptions.”
“I am not accustomed to gatecrashers at the Circle’s rites having anything worth listening to beyond screaming,” she chuckles. “The blood of your kind, I am told, is….” she shivers, licking her lower lip in imagined ecstasy. “But as good as embarrassing that Lancea prig? I think not. You have a deal, young mage. What do you need to make this convincing?”
The mask of control covers Blackjack’s face, but his internal thoughts ponder if he could put a bullet between her eyes.
Aurelia is having a hard time not staring at all the naked people.
Elithora is flagrantly taking in the naked painted people who have gone to this much trouble to set up their little tableau.
Sinon: “The main thing we will need is a place to send the girl. Other than that, any suggestions you have on how to make the ruse as convincing as possible.”
*"That would be simple enough. Bring the girl to the park on Granville Island."
“Also. My friend here is oathsworn to protect the… kine… I believe you call them. I will allow you to taste a sample of my own blood in return for her.” Sinon motions to the drugged out jogger.
Elithora regards Sinon with an arched eyebrow but refrains from saying anything. Between her antipathy for one lone sleeper and muted fascination with the vampires, she’s clearly interested in seeing what they do.
One of the cultists steps forward. “But Mistress, the ceremony…!” She holds up a warning hand. “There will be other ceremonies. The Crone is the source of change…and magic is change, and it flows in the blood of these creatures like the breath of a star.”
She steps forward to Sinon.
Blackjack looks to Sinon, an eyebrow raised in question, if he is sure he wants to do this.
Aurelia bites her lip, suppressing a tiny pang of jealousy.
Sinon bites down on his own hand. Hard. He holds it up, blood dripping down.
Maggie Fang nods and takes Sinon’s hand, tongue flicking out as she sucks down every drop she can get. She moans and twitches involuntarily as the urge to drink deeper seizes her.
Blackjack watches the vampiress carefully. Forcing himself to relax, to keep loose in case he needs to act.
Shoulders arching back, she finally grabs Sinon’s hand with her other hand and forces it away from her mouth. “…..nnnyessss.” She takes a few uncertain steps back, her centuries-old arrogance suddenly faltering as she seems very much like a drunk. “That…I had…I had no…”
“Mistress!” A pair of naked cultists sprint forward to support her. “You treacherous – what have you done?!” one shouts, baring its fangs.
“N…no…child…the Goddess…speaks to me…there is life everywhere, so much life all around us and we’re blind to it, we’re blind and damned….” A tear of blood streaks down her face. “And this girl, this poor girl, we would…we would have…take her, Mage, take her away.”
Sinon pulls a cloth from his pocket and wipes the blood away from his hand. He has repaired his pattern. He steps forward to get the girl.
The girl is drugged – something exotic, probably ritualistic – she looks at him confusedly and laughs once. “…Park security, I want to report some…some art students…”
Aurelia smiles. “We’re right on it, lady.” She then looks up to the neonates, sizing them up
Blackjack offers his arm to the young woman. “Lets get you somewhere safe.”
They’ve backed off, forming a protective circle around Maggie Fang. “You have what you want,” one woman snarls, tongue snaking out of her mouth. “Leave this place!”
“Let’s get going.” Sinon begins trying to lift her to her feet so that he and one of the others can take her.
Blackjack gets on the other side of her, helping Sinon with her.
Within a few minutes the mages have her to the car. Aurelia’s Mind sight can see some vampires following them back at a safe remove, watching them go.
Blackjack speaks softly. “That was foolish.” But there is no bite in his words and they could be translated as thank you. Sinon simply nods in response to the Arrow. He might not have bothered saving the girl if the others hadn’t been there. Aurelia would have acted. Was actually wanting to make the same offer Sinon did.
Aurelia: “Please let me know where our passenger needs to go.” Blackjack: “The Arrow gym should be a good place.”
Aurelia asks for directions Blackjack tells her how to get to the gym. Calls Horitao to give him a heads up.
They head to Body Hammer, the Adamantine Arrows’ gym, and drop the girl off. Horatius nods solemnly, asks no questions about what happened, and takes her in.
Elithora regards the drugged jogger as she gets out of the car. “See you, snooze button.” She pulls the door shut as soon as the woman is clear.
“So the ‘tramp’ is up next. Should we try Pact again?” Sinon looks to the others. “We’re going to need to find a good location for the main event as well.”
Elithora: “We’re going to need to make this rabbit-hat trick pretty convincing. Still, the dominoes are getting set up in the right places so far.”
Blackjack: “Somewhere that would look convincing for an ambush. Do we want it to look like a public message or more of a private matter?”
Elithora: “Multiple witnesses bolster our case, though …”
Aurelia: “I’m not exactly dressed for Pact”
“Can you make a convincing flash of light, BJ? Like a tiny sun?” <thomamelas>: “Not true sunlight but bright.” <ell>: “True sunlight would actually kill her. We just want it to be convincing.” <thomamelas>: “It will need to be near a lightbulb. Other methods…may be too risky.” <ell>: “Can’t you use a flashlight?” <misteranthropy>: “Whatever we do, it needs to read true to the witness.” Sinon turns to Aurelia. “You didn’t read anything from Manny at all, did you?” <ell>: “He’s angry, sexually repressed, and devoted to Lacey. Also he fears Maggie.”
<ell>: “We need to work on a lot of prep. What time is it?”
<misteranthropy>: “1 am. We need to get Lacey on board. Aurelia, can you talk to her” Sinon motions toward his head “from a distance?” <misteranthropy>: “We’ll want to stay incognito—hopefully away from the rest of her pack.” <ell>: “Yeah, I can do that”
They arrive at Pact. Even at this hour it’s not entirely full; Vancouver’s nightlife is legendarily half-assed. The people here seem to be trying to make up for quantity with energy, dancing furiously enough to fill the floor with flying limbs despite their thin numbers.
*Lacey seems to be holding court in an upstairs booth overlooking the floor.*
Blackjack finds a quiet, out of the way table to hide himself in.
Sinon enters, having cast incognito presence while in the car. He looks impossibly ordinary, to where the eye just slides off him.
Elithora: “Sneaky. You want me to decoy at the bar?”
“Knock yourself out, Eli.” Sinon sits down in a booth.
Elithora lacks camoflauge and posts up at the bar with a double whiskey neat, watching fate threads back and forth across the dancefloor. She sips and looks perceptible and unconcerned in equal measure as the cabal goes to work.
Aurelia looks up at Lacey and tries to get in her head. “Hello Lacey."
“What?” Lacey’s head whips around, fangs almost baring. The people at her table look at her oddly.
“Please don’t panic.” Aurelia is projecting in a calm, smooth tone.
“….Oh. Magic. What do you want?” Right now Lacey is thinking about how dull this place is, wondering if there’s anywhere in town more lively. She’s annoyed by feeling Manny’s hand on her thigh and she’s hungry. (Aurelia always feels the mental equivalent of a parched thirst when she look in their heads.)
“This is a warning, and a proposition. Llewelyn Shaw intends to kill you. He has, in fact, already contracted one of my cabal mates for the task. However, if you cooperate with us, I believe we can both keep you alive, knock Mr. Shaw down a few pegs, and it will help us out too. Please do not talk aloud.”
*Lacey calms down, her eyes narrowing. She silences her companions with a gesture. “…so it’s going to be him, eh? I’m listening.”*
“All we need to do is convincingly fake your death. Who is with you now?”
“Manny, Julie, and Scut. Just my little crew.”
“Three will be difficult. Two is do-able. Tell me, Lacey, would you be adverse to mentally scarring a couple of your companions? Maybe Manny? I know how much of a whiny dick he can be and trust me, his hand on your thigh is annoying me just as much as you.”
Aurelia feels Lacey smile. “Sounds like a laugh. I’m in.”
“All right. Please stand by for further instruction.”
Aurelia turns to Sinon “So, got a plan yet? Locations? Props?”
Sinon: “Yes. Let’s get started.”