15 - Vampire the Masquerade
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The SarcophagusMy cab got me to the Elizabeth Dane in good time, and dropped me right by a security station next to the pier. I got out and looked around, noticing an armed Coast Guard Chief standing watch at the gangplank. "Hey! Over here! You Randall Davis?" he asked. "Yeah," I answered, displaying my master"s degree in Information Sciences. "You Jenkins?" He said yes, and handed me three cd"s. They were the three documents Sebastian requested. He informed me that they were in encoded Adobe pdf format, and that the prince had the key. Next he briefed me. "The sarcophagus is in hold number 2," he stated. "I will get you on the freighter, but, once you are on, you are on your own. There are ten security personnel patrolling the ship, with two on the bridge. No crew. The eight are pretty well dispersed, but you will have to be careful. One thing; no flash photography. Take pictures, but no flash. You get in, do your work, and get out. If you get caught, I don"t know you. Understood?" I nodded. I walked up the gangplank and began to sneak around the ship until I found the entrance to the cargo holds. Finding hold number 2 was no problem, and I found the sarcophagus in a corner. There was a light shining on it and, I had to admit, I was curious. The thing was basically a big stone coffin. There were some sort of markings, like hieroglyphs, on the sides and the top. It had a sort of beauty and symmetry to its shape. And it appeared to be cut from a single block of stone, possibly granite. I was impressed. But I saw something that disturbed me. About a third of the way from one end, there were handprints, and those prints were of dried blood. There was also old, dried blood on the top and the sides of the upper third. The lid was also skewed a small amount as though it had been opened. Opened from the inside. What did the prince say about the ship? When it was towed into port, most of the crew was missing. Now I was intrigued. Something had come out of, and gotten back into, that sarcophagus. That was obvious. I took a mental snapshot and began my departure from the Elizabeth Dane. It was easy to sneak out. I only encountered one security guard, and I popped him into a trance. I ran down the gangplank, jumped into my cab, and headed back to the prince. I got told to go right up, and right up I went. When I entered the office, there were about ten or so vampires meeting with the prince. I hung near the rear, waiting my turn. Evidently this was some sort of important meeting, as I recognized some of these vampires from the theatre. "That is all I have to say on the matter," the prince said, "for now. Until more information is made available, you will all have to wait. I will summon you when I know more." The vampires turned and made for the elevator. I stood, saying nothing. "Randy," the prince said. "You have returned. Good. Do you have anything for me?" I approached and handed Sebastian LaCroix the three cd"s that Jenkins had given me. "Excellent," he said. "And what did you observe concerning the sarcophagus?" I told the prince about the blood on the sarcophagus, and that it appeared to me that something, or someone, had exited. In this vampire life I had, strange things were not shocking to me. The prince"s expression changed to one of dismay. "Let us not jump to conclusions here," he said. "I will review your observations along with the information on these cd"s before I make a decision concerning the sarcophagus." The prince paused a moment, and then he brightened. "What would you say if I asked you to do another job for me?" "Okay," I answered. "I could use the work, but I need some money. I have to buy some clothes, and I would like to get some stuff for my haven. Maybe brighten the place up a bit." "Of course," Sebastian said. "You have shown yourself to be an excellent asset to the Camarilla." He opened the desk, counted out $500, and handed it to me. Next he looked up at me and smiled. "You may have noticed the parade of beggars leaving as you came in," Sebastian stated, his old arrogance back. "They are the Regents of the vampire community, all begging for my favors and services. They want to be in my good graces. I summoned them for a briefing on the sarcophagus. All but two showed. I did not expect the Anarchs to send anyone. However, Alastair Grout, the Malkavian Regent, did not show either." "Okay," I said. "Here is the address of Grout"s mansion, in the Hollywood Hills," he said, writing something on a piece of paper. "Go there, and pry him out of whatever corner he is in. He is Malkavian, and you have had experience with Malkavians. Do not come back until you find him." I took the slip of paper and left the LaCroix Towers. The old arrogance and condescension of Sebastian LaCroix had disappeared while we discussed the sarcophagus, but now it was back. I was getting to like this vampire prince less and less. I considered the prince"s last words as I approached my cab. "Do not come back until you find him." The prince, I felt, did not want me to come back. Okay, he had just given me some freedom. I decided I would head to my home in Malibu and convert that into a secure haven. Then I would go to the Last Round and talk with Jack and Nines. After that I would visit with Maxmillian Strauss, the Tremere Regent, and see what he had to say. I entered the cab and told the driver to take me to Santa Monica. I would use my Prius to commute between Malibu and Santa Monica. I could see no reason to let the prince know I had my own car and a second haven.