Capital Intrigue

Part Four: Playing at Politics

"I wouldn't dance with that one... She can be hazardous to your health."

Late that night, after going to sleep after work, Portia was awakened by a quiet scratching at the window, like tree branches brushing up against the glass. Taking the stake from her bedside and the flashlight from the duffel bag at the foot of her bed, she attempted to turn on the light – no such luck. She headed towards the kitchen, but on the way noticed that the front door was open just a little bit. She proceeded into the kitchen, exchanged the stake for her sword, and tried to brighten her flashlight with a little glamour, which didn’t seem to have as much of an effect as she would have hoped.

From the bedroom came the sound of the window opening and a chill wind swept through the apartment, carrying with it the sound of quiet, childish giggling. “Come out, come out where-ever you are?” She called out, hoping to force a confrontation. In response there only came more giggling. She went for the front door instead and into the hallway, which similarly lacked any light. From the opposite end came giggling and the sound of repetitive knocking – just like she heard several times before. She ran for the emergency stairs, but felt something grabbing for her ankle. Shaking it off, she kept moving, but then within another step another hand was grabbing for her. As she shone the flashlight in the direction of the culprit, she found that hands were extending from every inch of the floor and grabbing wildly for her ankles. This time, she fell over and the hands quickly rendered her immobile.

Into the beam of her wildly flailing flashlight came the little girl who had died at the hospital and followed her at the bus stop. She sat upon Portia’s chest and said, “Come join us, little Faerie,” and then bit her neck ferociously -

Causing Portia to awake with a start. The window was definitely open and it was raining, but the lights worked fine and the front door was locked securely. After closing the window and crawling back into bed, she noticed some blood on her pillow, which caused her to check her face and neck… where she found two small puncture wounds, spaced evenly and in keeping with the size of an adult bite. After debating with herself as to which of the Kindred she could trust or call for help, she decided that the answer was none of them, and cleaned the wound herself, covering it with a small bit of gauze. By the time she was done, the sun was beginning to rise behind the rainclouds, lightening the dismal day, so she crawled back into bed and slept until 2 pm.

Upon waking up, she made her way to Canadian Tire where some employees redirected her to a home security company. Agreeing to pay $70 to jump ahead in the queue, Portia hired them to install bars over her windows the next day. With that done, she went home to read for awhile before heading in to work at 5 pm. The ER is INSANELY busy, overflowing with a huge mass of people who were involved in some violent altercation. There were two primary groups: preppy, well-dressed clubbers and more rough-looking punky bikers. The latter group obviously fared poorly in the fight, being rather inept at bar brawls, and required a great deal of the ER’s (and by extension, Portia’s) resources, which left less attention to the tougher group. By making a few inquiries, Portia discovered that they all came from Barrymore’s; apparently caused by the youth who had sustained the most injuries.

When her shift ended, Portia intended to go check out Barrymore’s mostly to go check on Heinrich. Coincidentally, he was entering the ER right at that moment to “Go check on my boys.” Almost immediately, he yelled at Portia for not paying enough attention to the Brujah kine, refusing to pay any heed to her protestations that the hospital had to follow triage. Somewhat frustrated, she offered him her cell phone number so that he could contact her whenever one of his people came to the hospital so that she could make sure they were seen to. Though he accepted, he accused her of planning to make Scarlett – and by extension, the Toreadors – the same offer. Increasingly frustrated, she protested that not only did she have no intention or inclination to do so, she didn’t even know the meanings of the words Toreador and Brujah. He explained, but after doing so, warned her that she couldn’t play neutral and follow human rules because she was getting deeper into Kindred politics. Eventually, she would need to pick a specific position and solid allies instead of thinking that she could balance between two groups that were at each others’ throats.

With that, Heinrich left to go check in on his group and Portia went home. While waiting at the bus stop, she noticed an interesting headline on one of the free newspapers. She picked it up and discovered that the Art Gallery (Scarlett’s) had been subjected to a flashmob of youth in hoodies, bearing paint-balloons, which they flung at dozens of sculptures and paintings, doing hundreds upon thousands of dollars in damage. She texted Scarlett to get the details and ask if she was alright. Almost immediately, she was bombarded with a deluge of return texts, :(((((s, and CAPSLOCK RAGE. It was revealed that the Brujah had staged this and left before any police arrived. The Prince refused to punish them, for unexplained reasons, and so the Toreador had taken matters into their own hands and gone after Barrymore’s the following evening – hence the chaotic evening in the emergency room as well as Heinrich’s anger at her seeming favoritism of one group over the other.

Determined to stay out and awake until dawn in order to avoid any further sleep-assaults, she changed into clubbing clothes, and (given the events at Barrymore’s) made her way to a new club: Babylon. Once there, she danced until she noticed a man in a plain black business suit & sunglasses watching her. After a little longer, she made her way to the bar to order a drink. Once there, however, she was immediately presented with a strawberry daquiri (which is what she often ordered at Barrymore’s) and told that all of her expenses for the evening had been covered, by the gentleman in the suit. Perplexed and somewhat suspicious, Portia took her drink and approached him. He was very forthcoming with the information that the Prince was offering some protection in the form of him, as a bodyguard, as well as handling her night out, due to her help on the Dr. Moreau case. Rather than argue, she toasts him with the daquiri and thanks him before returning to the bar to finish off the drink.

Not long after, she was approached by a university guy by the name of Martin. He was of Indian descent, having black hair and brown eyes, not much taller than Portia herself. He was friendly and mentioned being an anthropology major in European studies, with a particular penchant for myths, which he (jokingly) hoped would help him pick up girls. “Is it working?” He asked, to which she replied, “I don’t know, I think you’d need a bigger audience. I’m the only girl you’re talking to right now!” They continued bantering for a few minutes, until she finished her drink and agreed to join him on the floor to dance. He proved himself to be a fairly competent dancer, even outshining her moves which just weren’t at their best that night. The Prince bodyguard suddenly started at something over her shoulder and, just as she saw this, there came a familiar voice from behind them.

“I wouldn’t dance with that one,” Jeff commented, “She can be hazardous to your health.” He was very scruffy and looking worse for the wear, still dressed the same as he had been the night that she had met him at Barrymore’s, when she had helped him hook up with another girl and then left him to enjoy his evening. He was kidnapped by the Tzmische, according the phone call she received, and the police had refused to investigate. With no leads, Portia had to concede that she had no way of helping him and reluctantly left him to whatever fate would come next, particularly after her mentor had explicitly ordered her not to pursue the case. Upon seeing that she recognized him, Jeff spread his arms wide and grinned in a very unbalanced fashion. “Heeeeey, Portia! It’s great to see that my DEATH had such an effect on you! Out dancing and everything!”

Martin opened his mouth to say something, but as he did so, Jeff swung out with his right arm and sent him /flying/. The bodyguard tried to force his way through the crowd, already on his cell phone and attempting to force his way through the writhing mass of dancers, who were still largely unaware of any altercation in their midst. Portia backed away as best she could as he advanced, openly rambling about how he had been brutally tortured, thanks to her. She tried to cut in a few times, to apologize, to speak some sense to him, but he didn’t let her get much of a word in edgewise. Eventually, Jeff mentioned “picking up a few new tricks” and his mouth melted open into a gaping maw. His eyes moved upwards and further apart, effectively lengthening his face into something monstrous and altogether inhuman. His fingers lengthen drastically and his nails become wickedly long and sharp, at least the size of slender butcher knives. At this point, she kicked off her dancing shoes and continued backing away. When she spoke this time, however, she plead with him to listen. “I tried to get the police,” She implored, “I would have tried to help you if I could, but I had no idea where you were!”

At this, Jeff paused, swayed either by her words or perhaps her Faerie mien shining through, and seemed to deflate a bit. “You can’t help me now.” He responded, almost regretfully, and before anyone could react, stabbed Martin straight through the heart with his blade-like nails. Martin died almost instantly. The bodyguard finally burst through the crowd a moment too late and shot Jeff with a handgun. The gunshot finally alerted the club to the presence of danger, as the melting face and impressive blow did not. Screaming, the people began to rush for the door in a mindless mob. While she managed to not be knocked over and trampled, Portia was swept along to the doors and out of the exit, unable to see what happened next in the chaos. The police arrived not long after and the crowds were made to disperse. Rather than wait for a nearby bus to have enough room for her (along with several other waves of club-goers), she walked barefoot to the Rideau Centre and caught a bus to her apartment on Albert street from there.

Once home, she took care of her slightly cut and very dirty feet and changed into her pajamas. She was just about to crawl into bed when her phone buzzed with a text from Scarlett. ‘OMG just heard about the club!’ ‘prince says 2 come 2 my place’ ‘safe here!’ Faced with a choice between an unprotected apartment and promised protection, Portia re-dressed and grabbed her work duffel bag, making her way to Scarlett’s flat. She was greeted there by Scarlett, who gushed over the incident and asked for the details, before going to change into an extremely scanty nightgown. Portia changed into a clean pair of scrubs, having forgotten her own PJs, and crawled into bed next to Scarlett, who gave her a quick peck on the lips and fell into torpor as the sun rose. Portia herself drifted off soon after. When she awoke the next night, there was an English breakfast waiting on the bed beside her as well as a note from Scarlett, who had to leave early. After eating and changing, she went into the living room to find two well-dressed men who were practically models, who offered their protective services to her, should she need them, at Scarlett’s behest. She declined politely, went home to check on things, and then took some books to the library to do some reading.

After a couple hours, she was startled by a voice from over her shoulder. “They’re not all wrong, you know, but they’re not right either.” Turning around revealed the speaker to be Gideon. She invited him to sit down and the two of them discussed, for a few, the characteristics of a few clans (namely Nosferatu, Toreador, Brujah, and Ventrue) and he laughed raucously at the idea that the Prince would have sent her to a Toreador for protection. Apparently, she had been played by a quick thought from Scarlett! And now many vampires were under the impression she had spent the night with Scarlett for other reasons. Portia grumped awhile about everyone being so invested in knowing her personal business, but made a mental note to make a public phone call scolding Scarlett later, in order to debunk the rumors.

The conversation turned to more casual waters when Gideon asked her for her hobbies; she listed dancing as one of them, which prompted him to send off a text. Moments later, a foxtrot began playing over the library speakers, and he asked her if she would like to dance. Amused, she accepted, and both were proven to be remarkably capable classical dancers. At the end of the songs, he kissed her cheek and offered a key to his apartment, should she need a place to stay. He was going to Toronto for a few days, and would not be there. She thanked him and pocketed the key and he turned to leave. As he walked away, though, Portia found that she did not wish for him to go. Almost unconsciously, she used a bit of glamour to plant a quick flash of longing in his mind. He paused, turned on his heel, and then (making use of his vampiric Ventrue abilities) commanded her, “Kiss me.” The two snogged for a few minutes until he pulled away and insisted he really did have to be going, though he did not want to. She wondered aloud if he could spare an hour and he agreed enthusiastically, taking her to his room at the Chateau de Laurier…

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sonophax

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