At around 5:30 p.m., Portia grabs her duffel bag and returns to work at the hospital’s emergency room. For the most part, it’s business as usual, with patients arriving in erratic bursts. Early in the evening, a seven year old little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes is wheeled in, bleeding profusely from a neck wound. Acting quickly, Portia manages to stem the bleeding, which had continued despite the efforts of the EMTs. Despite this, the child’s vital signs continue to wane, with no observable reason why. Their eyes meet and the little girl chokes out, “The Prince… it was the Prince!”
Portia continues to administer care as best she can, replying, “It’s going to be alright, sweetheart, just hold on.” Her words seem to fall on deaf ears. The girl begins to gibber uncomprehendingly, repeating the same phrase over and over again until she suddenly begins to seize. Her body writhes and thrashes senselessly with such force that the sound of one of her bones breaking can be heard – and then she flat-lines. Despite the application of standard procedure, Portia and the other professionals are unable to resuscitate her. Unhappy, but duty-bound, Portia turns her attention to the next patient.
About halfway into her shift, while she’s tending to a stabilized victim of an overdose, an orderly approaches and informs her that there’s a man by the name of Gideon Wolfe waiting for her. Reluctantly, Portia tells the orderly that she’ll go ahead and take a fifteen minute break to see to this visitor, but to page her if her attention is needed for anything in the meanwhile. She takes an elevator up to the floor where he’s waiting, strangely enough by the Maternity Ward.
Portia went with Gideon to take stock of the mental health ward and found it in disastrous condition, looking more like something out of a nightmare version of a mid-century insane asylum, with an off janitor and a crabby old nurse. They found an old surgery ward, an electroshock room with two units in it for electroshock therapy, and heard stories of the practices.
Then an escaped patient attacked orderlies, screaming about monsters and vampires, Gideon calmed him with a command word before he could attack either of them.
Since they lacked the key to Dr. Moreau’s office, Portia attempted and succeeded in picking the lock. They explored the room and found papers referring to patients who did not seem to be in any wards and several pieces of equipment which would not only not have fit into the wards, they were not present at all; additionally, they didn’t seem to be paid for by the hospital.
Waiting at the bustop that night, Portia heard an old woman calm a child before what sounded like growling and an attack.
At home she saw the report of a murder.
The next night she went to New Dubrovnik and met Vlad, the owner, when he came out to the bus stop to wait with her, after having stared at her in the restaurant itself. When they shake hands as she leaves, his long nails leave a shallow cut on her hand.
Afterwards she went to go clubbing and went to Barrymore’s, where a bald, angry looking bouncer let her in immediately. While dancing, she noticed she was being watched by a beautiful dark haired woman in her twenties who seemed very intent on her, even after she got off the dance floor. After an awkward few minutes of being gawked at, she introduced herself to Scarlett, they talked for a bit, then went dancing and soon had the attention of everyone nearby as Scarlett danced around flirting and putting on a show before rejecting everyone and returning to Portia. The dance was interrupted by the bouncer, Heinrich, who was incensed at Scarlett’s presence in his club. After a lot of angry shouting, Portia and Scarlett left the club, exchanging numbers.
She goes to work the next evening and when she returns home and goes to sleep, she’s awakened by the sound of something at the window. Disturbed, she goes to the kitchen for a knife – just to make herself feel better. While in there, the bedroom window opens and the sound of childish giggling comes closer and closer, asking her to come out and play. A rough, scraping sound can be heard. She calls 911 and hides in the kitchen until the police arrive. She shows them the three long scratches down the wall… which suddenly aren’t there anymore. They leave with no report filed, and when the door closes behind them, the scratches reappear.
After work the next night, she gets a text from Scarlett inviting her out to get dinner. Portia meets her at Forno Antico, a great place in Little Italy renowned for its fantastic pizza. Scarlett asks her about her job and they chat, though Scarlett has already eaten, so Portia focuses on her own pizza. Though the restaurant is mostly quiet, there’s a group of businessmen on the opposite side of the establishment. While the two women are chatting, motorcycle engines rev in the distance and grow steadily louder until they are right outside, deafening and very near. Through the window, Portia can see that they have baseball bats and crowbars. She has scarcely a moment to warn Scarlett before they smash in the windows. The two women hide under the table while the bikers go after the businessmen viciously, who pull out knives; one of them even has a gun, though the fighting is too close for him to take a shot.
One of the bikers gets knocked back and drops his crowbar. Portia tries to go for it, but chickens out, thinking she can’t reach it. Scarlett snatches for it instead and goes unseen, before handing it over to Portia, who wraps it in a cloth napkin from the table and attempts to light it on fire with a lighter from her purse. It doesn’t catch before the biker gets up and tries to gank one of the businessmen, though, so she charges into action and whacks him solidly upside the head, knocking him out cold. She helps knock out another biker and the final one, who is very tough, begins to make moves for the exit. She doesn’t interfere and he escapes while one of the businessmen slits one of the downed bikers’ throats. Portia catches this from the corner of her eye and immediately moves to stand in front of the remaining biker, wielding the crowbar as menacingly as possible. “Self defense is one thing, but that was murder!” She exclaims, to the amusement of the man bearing the switchblade.
“Get outta the way, girly.” He warns her, “This isn’t any of your concern.”
“Leave him alone and I’ll forget that I saw you slit the other man’s throat.” Portia counters, not budging but still eyeing the knife nervously. The standoff is thankfully swiftly concluded as the sound of sirens draws near and the businessmen leave out the back. The police take hers and Scarlett’s statements (along with the employees who had hidden in the back), but nothing more comes of the evening.
She goes clubbing at Barrymore’s a couple more times, the first time is when she meets Jeff, who flirts with her, but doesn’t quite hit all the right buttons to score. Because he seemed nice enough, she offered to help him score with another girl – successfully! She stays for a good portion of the evening and eventually Heinrich comes over to give her a more personal, even somewhat friendly warning about Scarlett and other “parasites.” One such “parasite” is a man who seems too old to be clubbing in an outdated suit attempting to kiss on a young woman; Heinrich promptly has him ousted. Enlai, a well-dressed Korean man, comes over and asks to steal Heinrich, which he does: to the dancefloor. The two are together! Aww. Portia goes home on her own and has an uneventful rest of the evening.
The next night she gets a text from Scarlett inviting her to come see the Art Gallery. She accepts and goes through the gallery, observing other pale people who seem very cozy for a public locale, as well as lovely and unique pieces of art. Some of them are downright risquee in a section dedicated to eros/erotic themes, but all very excellently done. While they walk, they chat a bit about both art and Portia’s work in the mental ward, at which point Scarlett mentions that one of the gallery’s artists spent some time there, under the supervision of Dr. Moreau. She’s happy to show Portia the paintings (which are deeply brilliant but disturbing and surreal) as well as calls someone to bring the artist over for a chat. Unfortunately, said artist only speaks Spanish and seems very unstable and nervous. Portia reluctantly thanks them and lets him return home. The whole evening, Scarlett has been low-key flirting and, for reasons that Portia is unaware of, suddenly becomes entranced with staring at her. She attempts to kiss Portia, who dodges and breaks the trance. Scarlett apologizes hurriedly, but Portia reassures her that it’s alright and she wouldn’t mind looking at her in a romantic way, provided they know each other better. Still, this ends the evening and Portia returns home…
… which reveals that her entire apartment has been absolutely trashed and destroyed, as though someone was looking through it in a furious rush, searching for something. As nothing was missing that she could see, Portia could only assume they didn’t find it. She called both Scarlett and the police, not wanting to be alone with the mess or have it vanish in front of her again. The police take her report and Scarlett offers to let her stay at her place for the evening, while also helping her put her clothes away and pack an overnight bag (taking time to squee over articles she found particularly cute or fashionable.) So, Portia spends the night on Scarlett’s couch, and returns home to clean it up and put things to rights in the morning.
Later that day, Portia goes out to try and research the knocking/destruction of her apartment and finds nothing at the first store, but at the second the old woman reads her aura and reveals that she knows that she is fae and being stalked/surrounded by vampires/it’s important to believe that these things are real. She recommends that Portia forget and return to being a normal human woman, but Portia claims she cannot, so the woman says she has to form strong alliances and quickly because death would be preferable to what waits. In exchange for more info, the woman sends Portia to get gifts for her grandkids. In two hours, after sunset, Portia returns with decent gifts but the woman’s head has been twisted all around, neck completely broken. She persuades a cop to let her see the last message she wrote, which says something about Malkavians, bloodlines, and vampires, but the cop won’t let her actually see it and takes it into evidence.
She attempts to phone her mentor, but instead gets someone else on the line who tells her not to get involved in the next phone call she gets, and then hangs up. Portia goes to the grocery store and in the checkout line gets a call with Jeff screaming that he & others are being tortured before it hangs up. She tries to call back and a rough voice answers, taunting her that they’ll keep hurting her friends & Cainite friends if they don’t get the information & Dr. Moreau, frequently calling her a pretty faerie girl. It tells her she doesn’t know what she’s getting into and hangs up. She gets ahold of her mentor, who tells her that Gideon Wolfe is as trustworthy as possible for his type because he’s ambitious. He tells her to make sure no one finds out she’s a faerie, but then says of course the Tzimisce (the voice from before) know she is. He says she should make her friends wisely and live up to her end of the bargain before hanging up.
She first calls Gideon and asks to meet up to quickly discuss the matter, given that it could implicate the hospital in some rather nasty rumors, if she should go to the police with the report. He agrees that she should, but also that she should minimize the hospital’s involvement if at all possible. He also offers her the use of some of his private security guards, but when she’s hesitant to accept the favor (and can’t afford their retainer), he gives her a pair of business cards instead to contact someone more affordable but also reliable; one is also his lawyer. She accepts the cards and files the police report, despite the police seeming all too interested in brushing it off. They seem to care a shockingly small amount, to the point of deliberate negligence. She wants to do more, but can’t think of any other way to help Jeff. When she calls his phone, it just rings and rings. Eventually, it doesn’t even do that.
She gives it a day before calling the other business card, which puts her into contact with Joshua Adams, who all too cheerily agrees to meet her at Barrymore’s. She meets him there and then the two of them go to a coffee shop, to have a quieter environment for discussion. She pours out her entire story, leaving nothing out, and he doesn’t call her crazy (much to her surprise.) In fact, the both of them notice a man in the corner of the shop seems to be very blatantly eavesdropping. Though he appears to be reading a book, he hasn’t turned the page in ages. She asks Josh to go subtly block the door while she went to confront him; she does so, with very little to no success, since it’s rather difficult to get someone to admit that they’re stalking. She and Joshua leave the shop, noting that the moment they do, he’s on the phone to someone. As they head down the street, they begin to be followed by a group of hooligans. Joshua offers them some drugs, which they decline, and then confronts them, at which point they claim to have received a tip that he was selling on their turf and want him gone. He scares them off, but he and Portia leave the area anyway.
She gets a call from Gideon, who wants she and Josh to meet him at Dr. Moreau’s apartment. Despite the questionable legality, she agrees and they take his (probably stolen) car to the address Gideon gives. They meet him there and the front door is locked. Joshua attempts to break it down, which unfortunately fails, as it is a very impressively thick wooden barrier. Skeptical of her chances, Portia again attempts to pick the lock – and manages it, earning her a checking out from Joshua, which earns him a dirty look from Gideon, while she remains unaware of both. They enter the large home and are almost immediately assaulted by a foul smell coming from the room to the right. Portia pulls out a thick flashlight to illuminate their search. The dining room table, which is impressive in length, is arrayed with uneaten food which is absolutely /rotten./ The stench is horrible. Joshua, meanwhile, hears something from the entry hall and returns to find that the door is open, whereas it had been closed behind them. He checks outside before closing it again… and is promptly tackled by a rough looking fellow who mutters insults against the Camarilla. They tussle until Portia also hears the commotion and comes charging in to whack Joshua’s attacker solidly upside the head with her flashlight, incapacitating him. She immediately crouches down to check his pulse… and finds none. She proceeds to freak out, believing she has just murdered him.
Joshua binds him with duct tape while Portia is freaking out and both he and Gideon do their best to convince Portia that he was just a random squatter, a crazy homeless man. Though dubious and freaked, she has no real reason to question them. After further investigation, they find more of Dr. Moreau’s papers, which seem to indicate that he was having meetings with Tzmisce in St. Matthias’ church. Though Portia doesn’t know what the Tzmisce are, she recognizes the term from her call to her mentor. When they come out to the entry way again, there is shredded duct tape and no body. Checking outside, the windows have been smashed on Joshua’s (stolen) car. Gideon calls for a vehicle and Portia, still worrying that she killed a man, wipes down the inside of the car to try and rid it of anyone’s fingerprints. While she’s doing so, she overhears part of Gideon’s phone conversation; something about “mortals” and “bringing her into the masquerade.” When he hangs up, she approaches him with the intent of questioning him about it, but before she has the chance, he says he’s just been given permission to… illuminate certain things.
Once the limo arrives, he and Joshua explain to her that vampires are real. The man she attacked, Dr. Moreau, Scarlett, Heinrich, Enlai, even Gideon and Joshua themselves are all Kindred. She handles this with… surprising calm, for an uninitiated mortal, asking them to explain some of the terms with which she was unfamiliar (being careful not to let on that she knew vampires existed before this point, and certainly not letting on that she herself isn’t mortal.) Gideon mentions that she has to be introduced to the Prince, now that she is aware of the Masquerade, and Portia laments not having time to change before they have to enter the Chateau de Laurier. Both of the vampires tell her that, in no uncertain terms, is the Prince to be delayed or denied. She doesn’t argue and is soon presented to Prince Borgias. It is a surprisingly simple affair and he scarcely pays her any mind, instead directing his questions to Gideon. Still, she is relieved when they’re permitted to leave.