|Characters:||Simone, Marcus as ST|
|Summary:||Simone gets intorduces to Vampire society proper. (AKA: Bring us the ghoul and wipe away the debt.)|
It starts out like any other evening. Hunting isn't difficult when you're young and pretty and female - people underestimate you. Assume there's no danger. Being a vampire eliminates most of the danger of barhopping for Simone, too - no chance of someone jumping her, or robbing her, or slipping something into her drink. She has all the power, and it makes feeding a breeze.
There's just one problem: she has no idea when she's violating another's territory.
So this, on her third night in a club called Zahhak, she senses something. A low-level brush at her predator's sense of when another predator is around. This isn't as strong as when she runs into a vampire, nor as alien as when she runs into something that sets off that sense but obviously isn't -like her-. This feeling is definitely blood recognizing blood. And it's coming from a young man, young enough to need a fake ID, in an LSU hoodie. A young man who is making a beeline for her, hands in his pockets.
It is true that the nightlife used to be dicer, and it seems like maybe something's taken the fun out of it, as well. Or, at least, Simone doesn't seem to be enjoying herself. Her fingers curl around a full glass, although she's obviously not touched it otherwise. Condensation collects on the outside, some already falling to pool on the bar. She looks out at the crowd, but looks bored. Like no one has caught her interest yet. Who knows why she's so picky.
The only sign of attentiveness is when that prickling feeling comes over her. She straightens, but manages not to whip around to look for the source. It's almost natural when her gaze makes its way over to the young man. And effect that's ruined when it becomes clear that he's coming right for her. It's an old instinct that has her flicking her attention to the nearest exit.
He's quick. He looks uncomfortable. Scared. He's tall, but gangly, wirey. He's wearing a pair of glasses. His hood's up, and when he gets closer, she can see his face is blotched with scars from acne, with blemishes. A birthmark covers most of his left cheek, and one of his eyes is considerably bigger than the other.
"Ma'am," he says, leaning in a bit so he doesn't have to shout over the club's music, "The manager has asked me to retrieve you. Come with me, please." He reaches out, obviously meaning to take Simone by the arm.
When he reaches for her arm, she jerks it out of the way. "If this is about smoking in the ladies room, you can tell him I'm ever so sorry," she says. It's a lie, of course, because she certainly doesn't smell like smoke and, well, hasn't used her lungs in recent memory. But it's also meant to be a joke, even if her tone is a bit tense. But she doesn't move to flee, at least.
The man in the jacket follows her arm with his hand, and even though Simone is -very- difficult to grab (supernaturally difficult, in fact)...the kid in the LSU jacket manages it. And holds on. He's strong. Not just strong but stupid strong, break a weightlifter over his knee strong, even with that skinny nerd look.
"Management will have to insist. Please come with me. Making a scene will only make everything worse for you, ma'am. And for me. Surely you understand that not drawing attention is important."
It's probably a good remind, because for a second there, Simone looks very much like someone about to make a scene. But instead of bring the attention of the whole bar down on them, she swallows the urge and uses her free hand to grab her purse from the bar. "Fine," she replies, complying even if her tone is short and annoyed. And nervous, too, but ask her to admit it.
The kid with his hand on her arm gives off the vibe of someone who's been asked to 'Just go collect that tiger for me, dear.' He's tense. On edge. She may have been grabbed by a spider and she may be getting dragged back to its web, but in this case, the spider really is more scared of her than she is of it.
The Management is in the back. She's lead behind the bar. Down a hallway. Into a basement. Most places in New Orleans don't have basements; this is an exception. The concrete walls and floords have a subterranean weight to them, and there's a lot more -room- down here than anyone would likely guess. There are lots of doors. She's lead to one of them. The door's opened. Her arm is released.
Inside is brightly lit. It jangles at Mekhet senses. There is a sterile tiled floor, bright white painted walls, harsh flourescent light. There is a stainless steel table in the center, and on it, a vampire is strapped down. It is impossible to tell if the restrained vampire is male or female. Most of the identifying features have been stripped free, leaving pale, bleached wounds devoid of blood in their wake. A single tube runs to an IV bag full of blood, and that blood drips, with agonizing slowness. Rather than leading to an IV, the tube is simply open, occasionally letting a single drop of what she can smell is human blood drop onto the opened, restrained vampire's heart - where it is immediately absorbed into the hungry tissue.
The vampire is conscious. It writhes and strains against its bonds, weakly. Its vocal chords have been cut. It cannot scream.
One would presume the 'management' is the vampire in the labcoat who is currently in the process of dissecting the vampire's withered stomach. He looks like a normal sort of guy - mid thirties, brown hair, average features - except that he has no eyes. It's not that he has empty sockets. It's just that where his eyes go, there is smooth flesh instead.
"Take a seat," he suggests as she comes in. "I'll be done in a moment." There is a wheeled stool somewhat off to the side from the table.
Simone isn't too much trouble. Just a glare here and there to remind her escort that she is not happy about this. And the farther they go, the less happy she is. And when he leads her to a too-bright room, it takes her a few moments to actually walk through. Of course, then she wishes she hadn't. The sight in the room makes her recoil, leaving her to linger at the door, rather than get any deeper into the room than she has to. "I'd rather stand." Mostly because the stool is over there and she is over here. She doesn't seem to know where to look. The body? The blood? The eyeless scientist? It doesn't take long for her to find literally anywhere else to look.
"And I didn't ask whether you'd rather sit or stand. I said, 'take a seat'."
Behind Simone, the door closes as the ghoul, outside, pushes it shut - allowing him to escape the sight of the room.
"I don't know who you are. I'm going to presume that because you're hunting in my club and you don't seem to feel like you might be killed at any moment, that you don't know who I am." He's wearing rubber gloves. He pulls them off, one at a time, and tosses them over the face of the writhing vampire on the table. He walks around, smiling brightly at her. It's a friendly look. If he had eyes, if he didn't seem to navigate flawlessly without any apparatus for seeing? Then it might even work. "My name is Dr. Hayder Allsop. I am Seneschal to Erica Hartford, Kogaion of the Ordo Dracul and a member of the Triumvirate. I sit on the Primogen Council here. A council you've not seen fit to introduce yourself to. That's probably why you didn't realize you were feeding in my club. If only ignorance were an excuse for violating the law."
He extends his hand, offering it to her to shake. His skin is rosey pink. Warm. He'd look human if he had eyes. "Maybe you can explain yourself after you tell me your name. And take a seat."
"Yeah, well, I don't do orders very well," Simone says as she folds her arms. She looks back when the door shuts, but turns her attention back to The Management when he speaks again. "Not too many people do. Know who I am. I try not to feel insulted." When he starts toward her, she backs a step or two. "That sounds like a lot of very fancy titles," she observes. It's an attempt at humor, somewhat ruined by the fact that she's unsteady and terrified. A bit. A smidge. When it gets around to talk of laws and councils and violating things, she finds herself next to the wheeled stool. And she drops onto it. "Simone Morel." If she sounds a bit confused, it's because she is. "What council?"
Which is not, exactly, explaining herself.
"The Primogen Council." He doesn't insist on shaking her hand. When she sits, he moves to lean against the table, despite it having a writhing, agonized Kindred on it with its body cavity still open. He pushes his hand into his pocket, and pulls out a Snickers bar. Snickers bars, of course, have almost no nutritional value for -humans-, much less vampires, but it doesn't stop him from peeling open the candy and taking a bite.
Around that bite, he adds, "I'm getting tired of repeating myself. I have attempted subtlety, but it's not my strong suit. Let me be clear. This?" He reaches back and takes hold of the face of the vampire on the table, lifting it up by the hair so its face can stare at Simone, eyes wide, panicked. Lidless. Desperate. "Is what happens when someone annoys Erica Hartford, for whom I work. You have violated my territory. I am her Seneschal and Grandchilde. I am becoming annoyed with you. You will explain why you were hunting in my territory. You will explain why you did not introduce yourself to the Triumvirate or the Council. And we'll move on from there."
Simone listens, although she does not look at the body. Very definitely not looking there. "You know, I actually got that much," she notes, about the object lesson on the table he's casually leaning on. "I don't know who Erica Hartford is. Or what a Triumvirate is or that I needed to introduce myself to anyone in particular. I wouldn't have touched your territory if I'd know it was here, believe me." That part's pretty emphatic. Believe her, she would pretty much rather be anywhere but here.
"Well. Ignorance upon ignorance. Delightful." He does not -sound- delighted. "Who is your sire?"
She seems to know what a sire is, at least. So that's something. Simone makes a face. It's brief, but clear to anyone looking. Brief and wounded. She straightens. "He called himself Cecil when he was around," she answers, dryly. "He's not. Around." And hasn't been, by the sound of it.
"Well. If he does show up, and you're still alive for it, you should come see me. I'll make sure the consequences of you murdering him aren't too terribly severe." The vampire who -isn't- tied to the table, the vampire with no eyes, spends a full minute eating a candy bar without speaking. It's an uncomfortable, growing silence filled with the oddly sickening sound of chewing interspersed with the quiet struggles of the agonized vampire on the table.
When it breaks, it's for Dr. Allsop to tell her: "There are three main rules that are universal in the All Night Society, Miss Morel. We have -lots- of rules, but these three are above all others."
He lifts one finger. "Rule One: Do Not Talk About The All Night Society. Any member of mortal society who knows about vampires is a threat to us. We remove threats. There are exceptions. You don't get to decide what they are. The highest ranking of the Invictus reserve that for themselves. Here in New Orleans, any Signatory of the Accords is an exception."
He lifts a second finger. "Rule Two, despite the possible pop culture reference, is not Do Not Talk About The All Night Society. We of the All Night Society do not have the sense of humor for that. Rule number two is, instead: Do Not Make More Vampires. The fact that you and I both exist is a testament to the fact that this rule gets broken all the time. If it's done without permission from the Triumvirate - via -us-, the Primogen Council? We kill you. -And-, most likely, your progeny. Because allowing fuckwits to breed results in vampires like you."
He holds up a third finger. "Rule Three: If you're going to kill another Kindred? Do not. Under any circumstances. Drink. Their. Soul." His lack of eyes nonetheless give a distinct impression that they're focused on hers. "Does that last rule need any clarification?"
Simone doesn't have a comment on any future murdering she may or may not be doing in the future. Nor does she interrupt the silence. But the door does become increasingly interesting, it seems. But his voice brings her back around and she lifts her eyebrows when he begins. She doesn't interrupt, although there is an expression that suggests she might want to right around the time the All Night Society gets brought up. But she can behave herself, see? So she waits until the end. "Don't eat other vampires. Don't tell the muggles. Don't make any baby vampires. I think I can remember," she says, "despite my ignorance." That part's a little salty. Just a little.
"Good. Did your Sire happen to tell you -anything- about who and what you are? What your Clan is? Which Covenant he was a member of - or about the Covenants in general?" The Nosferatu cocks his head to the side. "It would be nice to know just how much of that ignorance we must correct before I feel that you won't get yourself killed. Because if -I- don't kill you, right now, I will be seen as somewhat responsible for any mistakes you make in the future."
"Mekhet. He taught me to survive and told me to lay low, but he didn't talk about the Societies or Covenants or Accords. So, I guess a lot," Simone sounds surprised, but in the fashion of those often left disappointed. "But I've got no drive to die. Again. Or to have any kind of law after me, supernatural or not. So, if you don't kill me--" a dry remark-- "you'll find me willing to learn."
"Very well, then, Miss Morel. I am a member of the Ordo Dracul. Yes, -that- Dracul. We believe that vampires are the highest form of being in existence - but that every being can be improved upon. We are -scientists-. Scholars. While the Lancea et Sanctum embraces our weaknesses as divine judgement and the Circle of the Crone pretend that they are strengths, we are conquering them. While the Invictus and the Carthians fight each other over ideology, we become perfect beings. You don't like burning in the sun? Conquer the daystar. You don't like falling to frenzy? Leash your Beast. None of the paths -any before you- have forged appeal? Get out your machete and start hacking a new one - but be aware that what you are cutting away may be your self." He straightens up, now. "In the end, you must -choose- a Covenant for yourself. But for right now, until you pay your debt to me? I suggest you consider strongly our Order. And I suggest you make yourself more valuable to us. How are you at finding people, Miss Morel? Mekhet are generally tolerably well suited to it."
Simone doesn't seem to have a smartass comment this time, which may be a miracle. Instead, she seems thoughtful. And perhaps even mildly hopeful for the moment that passed before debts are mentioned. Then she tenses again and props her hands on her legs. "I'm not much of a scientist," she says eventually, "but I'm plenty useful. And valuable." That may be a general statement on her self worth, but at least she seems confident in it. "I'm good at finding anything. I'm an investigator."
"Good. My second-favorite ghoul is missing. He's been gone for nearly three weeks. Martin, out there, will give you the information. Martin's a good boy, clever, but not too clever." He gestures with one hand, apparently done with her, now. "Find my ghoul, Miss Morel, and it will be a step toward settling our debt. I hate having to train new ones. They take so long to get over their gag reflexes." He turns from her, now - blessedly sparing him the need to avoid looking at his face - and returns his attention to the vampire still open and writhing on his table. He bends down, bringing his face in close to the vampire's sliced-open stomach. And begins to noisily, messily retch back up that chewed Snicker's bar into the withered organ.Whatever 'science' this serves is unclear.