3 - Vampire The Masquerade
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School Time"Okay," Jack began, "now you"re a big, bad vampire. You can rip people"s heads off and drink their blood. And you can live forever. But that"s not how it works." Here Jack frowned. "You look a little shaky. You feed yet tonight?" "Not to my knowledge," I responded. "Okay," Jack continued. "It"s all about blood. Blood is your new filet mignon. It is your new bottled water and Mickey D"s. It"s all you need. Now, there is a homeless wino down there on the corner. Go and feed. But don"t kill. No need to kill. And don"t worry that you weren"t a championship wrestler in high school or anything. You are an apex predator, and it will come naturally. No special technique is involved. Just don"t kill. Just take what you need." I walked down to the corner and saw a man, a bit delirious because he was drunk, sitting on the corner of the alley behind a pile of boxes. Jack was right. It was very easy to feed. I don"t know how much I took, but I left the man alive. I wiped my mouth with my fingers, licked them clean, and walked back to Jack. "Yeah," Jack said, staring at me when I returned, "you look a whole lot better. Remember, you have to feed, every night. But don"t kill. No reason to." "Why not?" I asked. "Kiddo, this is the 21st century," Jack responded. "We got the internet, cell phones with cams, and the CDC. A lot of dead bodies start showing up with all of their blood drained, and you are going to have the Federal government in town faster than all hell. If you have to feed more than once a night, do so. But don"t kill. Something else to remember. The better fed a human is, the better the blood. A rich man is a whole lot better than a poor man. And, if you are in a pinch, you can feed off of animals, but that blood is not too good." "What happens if I don"t feed?" I asked. "You"re blood supply gets too low, the Beast takes over." Here Jack"s voice was very low and very serious. "The Beast forces you into Frenzy. You don"t want that to happen, because when you Frenzy you feed and kill the first thing you see. That is a violation of The Masquerade." "Let"s walk," I said, and Jack led me deeper into the alley. "What the hell is the Beast? And the Masquerade? And why can"t I kill?" "The Beast exists in all of us," Jack explained. "It hides, waiting for the right moment to appear. It causes us to Frenzy. In reality, it guarantees our survival. When our blood supply gets too low, the Beast takes over. When we are threatened, the Beast takes over. When someone violates our haven, the Beast takes over. It is what keeps us alive. Control the Beast. Now, some asshole comes at you with a shotgun, yeah, then you can kill. But try to avoid killing if you can." "Okay, that makes sense," I said. "What is this Masquerade thing?" "What"s your name, kid?" "Randy," I answered. "Randy," Jack said, "The Masquerade is the number one rule by which all vampires live. We hide what we are. We play at being human. It ensures our survival. That black dude with the big cleaver who killed your sire? You violate the Masquerade, and the Prince sends him after you. And a bunch of other vampires as well. It is called a Blood Hunt. So, play by the rules." We walked a bit more, and Jack explained the rules of the Masquerade to me. It made sense, from vampire point of view. We were wandering through the alleys of downtown L. A., but keeping close to the LaCroix Towers, the Prince"s building. Jack also explained some of the vampire politics to me, but he did not go into detail. He did tell me that the Sabbat could be destroyed whenever I encountered one, because they would show me no mercy. "I prefer to let people form their own opinions," he stated. Well, we heard some shots, and walked right into a fight between gangbangers. Two gangs were warring over drug turf. Three guys with nasty looking knives cornered me. I wasn"t sure what to do. Suddenly I blinked, and all three began vomiting up blood. A lot of blood. I punched one in the ribs and broke three of them. I hit another in the face, and shoved his jaw to the other side of his head. I fed on the third. "Where did you learn that?" Jack asked. "Learn what?" "How to make mortals vomit." "I don"t know," I said. "It just came to me. I also felt my blood supply go down a bit when I did it, so I fed to top off my tank, so to speak." "You know what clan you are?" Jack asked. "No, Jack," I answered. "My sire never told me." "Well, for now," Jack stated, "You are Caitiff. Someone who has no clan. But Tremere only performs that trick. That makes you a blood sorcerer, and you will have to feed more often than a normal vampire. Tremere are rare, but, as you master your powers, you will become very powerful." "It just sort of came naturally," I said. "Is that an example of the Beast?" "To a degree," Jack said. "But you did what you had to do. It kept you alive. And, Randy, that is what is important." We approached a main street, and a Mercedes with tinted windows sounded its horn. A door opened, and a vampire got out of the passenger side. "Well, I hoped to give you a bit more information," Jack said. "But you have to go. If you make it back from Santa Monica alive, there is a bar called the Last Round. Stop by and we"ll exchange life stories, Randy. Good luck." I got into the Merc and headed to my haven in Santa Monica.