Damon was not a bad fighter,
but he was not as good as his opponent. In fact he seemed to be
at a complete disadvantage, and there was no luck to be had on
the vacant lot. His white shirt was slit in several places and
blood oozed from some relatively deep cuts. There seemed to be
continual healing going on, and occasionally a bright spark of
energy would become visible, sealing an abrasion in an ever present
There were no flippant comments
from Richie as he fought. No snide words for his adversary, as
he continued to carve up Damon's defence with an almost effortless
ease. This was a battle that had been fought before, and one he
should have won, he had no intention of letting it go again. Move
flowed into move as his mind worked and his instincts led him
to small victory after small victory. It was only a matter of
time before the other Immortal would tire and loose what concentration
he had left.
Richie had just landed a particularly
vicious cut on Damon's leg when the opening appeared for final
conquest. By lunging forward and going for his opponent's thigh,
the younger Immortal had appeared to leave an weakness to his
right side. By now his adversary was desperate, and although he
had been fooled before, he had no choice but to try for at least
a damaging blow. As Damon moved in for a slice to his side, Richie
spun and locked his own sword under that of his opponent. With
a quick flick of his wrist and a little turn of the blade, the
other Immortal's weapon went spiralling into the air.
Defeat was written in Damon's
stance, he knew he was going to die, and yet the emotion didn't
quite reach his eyes. There was one last trick up this Immortal's
sleeve. He'd used it before, and it never failed. Seeing Richie
out of the window had given him time to prepare, and there was
more than just the dagger in his boot, on his person. A small
device nestled on the inside of his left wrist, and contained
within was a blade coated in poison.
There was the smallest click
as he flicked his hand back and a spring released, but much to
his surprise, Richie heard it. There was no way human senses could
have picked up the small projectile, but with the Kindred edge,
the younger Immortal saw it fly through the air. His free hand
lanced out, and with the dexterity of a swallow picking flies
from the air, he plucked it from it flight path and threw it away.
"You've cheated me of your
head twice, Damon," Richie said, even as he moved in for
the killing blow, "but not this time."
The other Immortal's face was
glazed with shock, and the last thing he saw was the golden eyed
gaze of man who was about to kill him. The body slumped to one
side as the sharp blade of Richie's sword separated it from the
head. The first mists of the Quickening appeared immediately and
twisted slowly into the air. The victor just stared at them with
vampire eyes as the wound round him, not quite touching him, as
if they were exploring first. There was a tentative touch that
sent a shiver up his spine, almost as if the Quickening was making
sure of what he was. Then it hit him all at once. One second there
was deathly hush and the next the lightening took away all thought.
The pain was different at first,
it lanced right to the very heart of him and found the changes
the embrace had made. It destroyed them like a red hot poker removing
infection in a wound, and fought to reclaim this body. Then, satisfied
that this was a vessel suitable for it's gifts, it entered him
with full force. Bit's of stone exploded around him, and one of
the street lamps fused as stray energy lanced into them. Damon
was not a young Immortal, and he had taken many heads in his time
... the Quickening lasted a good few minutes.
As the final tendrils left him,
Richie fell to his knees, totally exhausted, and feeling somewhat
strange. He looked around him slowly, and realised that he was
scarred. It was not anything that would show on the outside, but
his Immortality had found something it could not totally wipe
away. Although not a keen as before, his surrounding did not appear
to be in quite as much darkness as they should have been, indicating
that his eyesight had retained some of it's sensitivity. With
little effort he found that his hearing was in a similar state,
as well as his sense of smell. It appeared that there were still
hints of Kindred about him, although as he stood up he was feeling
a great deal saner than he had been for the last few days.
The world had returned to the
perspective he expected of it, and there were absolutely no signs
of any other personalities in his head. For all intents and purposes
he was back to normal, and he gazed around, a small smile appearing
on his face. The extra sensitive senses might fade with time,
or they might not, for now he decided they were probably useful.
He could say that he was almost
happy as he dragged the body under some rubbish, removed all items
that could be used to identify it immediately, including all weapons,
and set off to find Duncan.
Not many people were speaking
to Alexae, and he chose to stay away from the trio of Lillie,
Julian and MacLeod who sat in a booth. He hadn't mentioned the
piece of knowledge he had come by the previous evening, but it
was difficult not to notice that he appeared to be waiting for
something. Those who knew about Richie, assumed it had something
to do with that, others just didn't care.
Cash was sat at one of the side
tables, watching everything with his habitual vigilance, but tonight
he did have something to distract him from time to time. They'd
broken it off, they'd yelled at each other, they'd decided that
clan loyalties had driven them apart, but whenever anyone decided
it was finally over they'd turn around and find Sasha and Cash
together. The Brujah in question was sitting opposite the Gangrel,
sipping on a cocktail and smiling at her lover. Both sets of clan
members watched the pair with disgust, but tonight the couple
weren't arguing and so they didn't much care.
It was Sasha who spotted the
entrance of the willowy looking girl first.
"Now, what do we have here?"
she said lightly, and indicated to show her companion the source
of her question.
There were lots of eyes on the
newcomer, and she seemed kind of nervous. Jessica had chosen the
white dress, a velvet jacket and silky pumps as her outfit this
evening, and with her hair flowing about her shoulders, she looked
every bit the siren. It didn't take more than a second glance
to figure out she was Toreador clan. She looked around rapidly,
in her haste not seeing Alexae at first, but as her eyes ran back
again she was suddenly overcome by relief.
The Artiste had seen her instantly,
and he was already on the move. There were questions in most Kindred's
minds as the pair came together, and the stranger literally beamed
at the older vampire. This newcomer was young, only just made
and not fully through the change, but there was an air about her
that warned all to stay away. This was heartily backed up when,
as he slipped his hand under her elbow to guide her across the
room, Alexae glared at his compatriots in warning.
"Let's go somewhere a little
more private," he said warmly, and Jessica just nodded.
The older Toreador looked across
the room to Lillie and indicated upstairs with is eyes. The Primogen
was a little surprised, but nodded and smiled anyway. The two
disappeared towards the stairs quickly.
The pavement was hard, that much
Frank found out when he was dumped out of the car directly onto
it. The first thing he saw was a pair of feet, and he slowly worked
his way up. The face that met his gaze did not bode well for his
future. One of the Brujah that Richie had so cheerfully beaten
the crap out of the previous night was leering down at him, and
as he slowly climbed to his feet he became aware of the others
"Not so brave without your
friend, little man?" the leader of the pack sneered loudly.
A cold feeling started in the
pit of the police officer's stomach.
"Hey, look," he said
slowly, "last night had nothing to do with me, I was just
with the guy. I have no quarrel with you."
"Wrong," another of
the group said from behind, "you laughed at us."
That wasn't true, but then talking
a Brujah out of something they had decided were the facts could
be like chiselling granite with a bobby pin. There was only one
route left open to the cop.
"Um, look I was supposed
to meet Julian Luna at the Haven, he's not going to be pleased
if I don't show," the implicit warning was there, but it
fell on deaf ears.
"Oh, don't worry Franky,"
the leader started, "we're not going to kill you. We thought
we just have a little fun and rough you up a bit. Now Mr Luna
might be a little annoyed at us for a while, but he's not going
to go against Cameron over some bruises."
The police officer had a sinking
feeling that the brute might actually be telling the truth. All
safe ground just crumbled away from him.
"Can't we just talk about
this?" he tried, a little desperately.
His reply was a fist in the face.
Now that hurt like hell, but not as much as the one which followed
and did something nasty to his kidneys. Now Frank could handle
himself pretty well, and he even managed to land a couple of punches,
but he was not Kindred and he really didn't stand a chance. Every
time he turned to try and bloke a blow, one of the other Brujah
would attack from behind, or beside him.
He really had no idea what he
was doing by the time he flailed out desperately and managed to
sink his nails into flesh. His legs weren't under his control,
he'd taken so many hits that he didn't know which way was up,
and the Brujah were passing him around like a toy, but somehow
he fell in just the right way to actually do some damage. There
was an angry yell from whoever he had managed to hurt and then
strong hands grabbed him and literally threw him through the air.
His head found the car, and there was a nasty snapping sound:
Frank knew no more.
The six Brujah were suddenly
very still as they looked at the crumpled body.
"You broke him," was
all one of them said to the ring leader, who had blood running
down the side of his face.
What brought Richie to the docks
he would never know, but on his way to the Haven he had been unable
to resist the urge to see the water. The sight that met his eyes
made him very angry, and he moved forward before his better judgement
could get in the way. He barely realised he had a sword in each
"Which one of you killed
him," he yelled at the top of his lungs.
To say that the sight of him
scared the hell out of the Kindred gathered around the body was
putting it lightly. He still felt like Toreador even though he
had given up most of the powers, and blades like those he was
carrying could be nasty for vampires. These Brujah knew death
when they saw it coming towards them and they ran.
The question had brought the
look of guilt to one face and it was this Kindred who Richie pursued.
The Immortal dumped one sword by the side of Frank's lifeless
body and then charged after his prey. The dagger he had lifted
from Damon was very useful in bringing down the vampire before
he could change shape or escape. The knife in the leg wouldn't
hurt him too much, but it did cause him to fall.
With an incoherent cry, Richie
ran at his victim, sword at the ready and swung it for the killing
blow. It was the look of pure terror on the fallen Kindred's face
that drew the slice up short. Millimetres from the Brujah's neck
the blade stopped, and the Immortal glared at his prey.
"This time you live,"
he said slowly, quite surprised by the sentiment himself. "Frank's
dead now, but he won't be for long. This time you escape with
your life. We are something you do not understand, we are something
you should fear. Remember that well."
The vampire was too scared to
do anything but nod. He hadn't been so afraid since he was mortal
and the younger looking man's words hit home.
"Run home, dog," Richie
said with a dangerously quiet tone, "and next time you see
Frank, remember to be afraid."
He turned on his heel and just
walked back to the car, in a few seconds the Brujah was gone.
The keys were in the ignition
and the doors were open so it didn't take Richie long to load
the police officer and the sword onto the back seat. There was
a chance the clan members would come back for their vehicle, and
without the help of surprise, the Immortal could live without
facing them. He drove away quickly, and rapidly decided to head
for his hotel.
The journey was half over when
Frank opened his eyes again for the first time.
"Welcome back," Richie
greeted and kept his eyes on the road, "I wouldn't move for
a while if I were you, those Brujah really did a number on you."
"You're telling me,"
was the slow reply, "my head feels like someone's hitting
it with a base ball bat."
"Lie still and it'll pass,"
was the next instruction, "dying's hard on the body."
There was silence from the back
seat for a while, and then Frank's brain caught up with what Richie
"Dying, what do you mean
dying?" the tone was a little anxious.
He didn't feel much like he thought
a vampire should feel, they couldn't have embraced him, could
"The beating ended with
you breaking your neck," his companion supplied helpfully.
"At least that's what I suppose killed you, since your head
was at a very funny angle. You're Immortal, Frank, like me and
Mac, you just didn't know about it before. Now you've died for
the first time, you'll heal fast, never get sick, and lots of
junk like that."
He glanced round and grinned
before turning back to the road.
"A shock, yeah I know,"
he said cheerfully, "at least I had a little longer to get
used to the idea of Immortals. Let me guess, you're the type of
guy who must have weeks of vacation time backed up at work, right?"
This was a new turn to the conversation,
but Frank was too bemused to answer anything but the truth.
"Ah, yeah," he responded
blankly, "the Captain's always trying to get me to take some
"Great," Richie said
and turned into the street which contained his hotel, "then
I suggest you take it now. You have a lot to learn and not a lot
of choice about it. You're lucky, only Kindred saw you die and
they're not likely to blab, so you won't have to move on. Mac
taught me how to be Immortal, and you're going to have to learn
as well. There's this nice dojo up north, where we can both give
you the crash course if you like."
He pulled over and looked at
the startled police officer.
"There's a lot you don't
know, but to stay alive you'll need help," the blond man
continued sincerely. "Mac and I can give you that help until
we can sort something out down here. Take the sword you're lying
next to and go hole up in my hotel room for now. I've got to go
find MacLeod, and then we'll explain everything. Room 228."
Frank wasn't really thinking
very clearly, he decided that following the instructions might
be a good idea.
of Part 9