Seventh Movement: Concerto Incalzando con Fuoco

Mila and Violet each paid their respective visits to Gabriel and Madame Kerensky, which only proved mildly informative. Gabriel, barely more than a neonate himself, could only talk about rumors and what little knowledge about the city’s history that Bishop Esteban had passed onto him. Madame Kerensky, meanwhile, admitted that she had largely lain low during the upheaval and purges decades past. The few facts that the coterie managed to gather included the rumors of collusion between the previous members of the Circle and the Lancea, and an alliance between the Invictus and the Carthians—part of the reason the Movement now had so much control over the East Bay area.

After her appointment with Madame Kerensky, Violet (with Jan in tow) left Civic Center, and both briefly experienced another brief hallucinatory episode outside the steps of the Asian Art Museum. Considering the same had occurred in previous interactions with Timothy North, and with the amateur ‘hunters’ Ronnie and Nick, and in other cases, they reasoned that it might be because one of the entities responsible was nearby.

Meanwhile, as Mila and her ghouled husband Joseph drove north on Van Ness after having left the Castro where they had met Gabriel, Mila experienced a similar brief episode—and, upon stopping behind a parked MUNI bus in evening traffic, noticed a familiar figure board the vehicle: Timothy North, who smiled widely at them, eyes flashing a bright yellow in the evening headlights.

As Joseph followed the bus (and Timothy aboard), Mila informed Sascha, Jan and Violet by mobile phone, and they began to converge upon him. The drive through traffic became a foot pursuit through Russian Hill after Timothy exited the bus several stops later, then, as the coterie closed in, a rooftop chase across North Beach.

Finally confronted atop a tall building facing another, even taller one, Timothy paused to face his pursuers, gleefully stating that he appreciated their coming to meet him, and that he was “just about to leave.” As the four made ready to apprehend him, he turned to Violet, Dominating her with a command to attack her fiancee, Jan.

In the ensuing melee, Jan had to fight off his own loved one in order to get her to come to her senses, before he lost himself in frenzy attempting to bring Timothy down afterward. Sascha, having armed himself with a flare gun, managed to wound Timothy with one shot, but while reloading, was also given a brief, but firm command: “Shoot Mila.”

Sascha’s will was suborned, and he turned his weapon upon his coterie-mate instead, leaving her badly burned along with Timothy, and she hurled herself from the rooftop in Rotschreck before recovering later in the alley below.

Despite their various injuries, and Timothy’s unexpectedly prodigious disciplines and terrifying resilience, the coterie managed to finally beat, stab, shoot, and burn him into torpor. After subsequently wrapping him in a heavy tarp and metal straps of “plumbers’ tape,” they were left with a decision: Bring Timothy to the city’s authorities, namely the Sheriff, Bishop Esteban; or to render him to Priestess Livia, who had offered a vague but substantial reward if they were to turn him over to her first. Some discussion eventually left them with the choice to bring Timothy’s body to the Lancea.

Upon arrival at one of the churches owned by the covenant in the Mission Dolores, Esteban and several of his attendants brought the body inside, confirming the identity as that of Timothy North. Electing to keep him staked and bound, Esteban had his body secured in a subterranean vault. Shortly thereafter, Prince Matthias visited, offering his brief thanks to the coterie and promising that they would be properly rewarded at the next Elysium in the near future. Various other individuals from the Covenants contacted the coterie or made their own visits, each doing so to confirm the quickly-spreading information about Timothy’s apprehension. Master Pryor’s and Doctor Kaintz’ were brief but confirmatory; Sir O’Neill paid an in-person visit to congratulate Sascha; and Violet and Jan received only a brief text message from Livia that simply read, “I wish you had given him to us.”

In the Elysium that occurred a few nights later, the coterie were publicly lauded by Prince Matthias for doing their part in upholding the city’s law and order and bringing in a dangerous individual who was a known diablerist and outlaw, and offered each of them a minor boon of their choosing—a gift that could be of great potential, but ran the risk of asking too much and thus causing serious trouble for themselves.

Sascha requested to hold domain over the block in which the club that hosted Bondage-A-Go-Go was held; the city’s Heralds would thus spread the word that it would be his to dispense with as he saw fit, provided he could handle the daylight, legal, mortal aspect of controlling the territory.

Mila asked a favor of her mentor, Master Pryor, requesting an opportunity for special training to further improve herself and to better the Invictus as a whole. Upon preparing a full report and proposition, he guaranteed that he would do whatever was within his power to assist her.

Violet pleaded her case to Prince Matthias and the Inner Circle, asking that her marriage plans to Jan be allowed to continue. After brief, but careful consideration, the Prince decided to permit the event to occur, with the caveat that it be done to uphold her Masquerade, and that she begin to sever her ties with her mortal life afterward.

Jan, meanwhile, simply entreated the Prince to render his boon to Prefect Joshua Garrett, to repay his debt to the Movement. The petition caused a minor stir with various parties, but was honored, and publicly acknowledged; The matter of dispensing the boon was thus Prefect Garrett’s to decide upon, and thus not only his privilege, but also his responsibility.

The city remained quiet in the few weeks after, and Jan and Violet’s wedding went as planned—mostly.

Near the conclusion of the evening wedding ceremony, all four of the Kindred present experienced another brief hallucinatory episode, and as they traveled into the reception area, they noticed a figure lurking in the shadows outside . . . one resembling that of Ronnie, the possessed ‘hunter’ who had been ejected from the SUV during Jan and Violet’s fight with the pair. The Coterie joined the reception, attempting to maintain a sense of normalcy while also trying to decide what to do; as they did so, they could feel something odd about the Predatory Taint that came from Ronnie, and a sense of violence that suddenly subsided, and his presence faded from their senses.

As the reception went on, the four met in a side room to discuss the matter, before they were interrupted by a knock on the door. Violet’s own mother, Judith, stepped in to see why they were hiding away from the reception, and after doing so, smiled widely, eyes gleaming a fierce yellow.

Despite having rendered Timothy into Torpor, the entity that possessed him had somehow escaped, and had decided to take up residence within Judith. It offered its ironic congratulations on Jan and Violet’s marriage, amusedly deriding it as a silly mortal institution, but offering its thanks for the morsel it had found before it had arrived to the party: the sibling entity that inhabited the body of Ronnie.

It warned that it had said it was just leaving, and now it had found somewhere much more fun to stay: Judith, and if it chose to, any of the coterie’s other mortal friends and family who lived nearby and attended the wedding, now that it was aware of their existence. The being told them there were four others of its like still out there, waiting to be found, and that it was up to them to bring them to it . . . but it warned them to avoid informing the authorities as they did so.

It left a final note in the newlyweds’ gift chest, as a small letter of thanks for the ‘gifts’ they had given it—namely the public apprehension of Timothy as a cover to its escape, the chance to capture the other of its kind that had pursued them to the wedding, and the bounty of vessels—along with another vague clue as to its identity, signing its congratulatory card as “Sixth.”

Seventh Movement: Concerto Incalzando con Fuoco

Owls & Ashes Zsander