18 - Vampire the Masquerade
DescriptionReporting to LaCroix
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Reporting to LaCroixWell, I moved, and I moved fast. I ran back through Grout"s haven, down the stairs, through the library, into the kitchen, down the hall, and into the sunroom. I grabbed a lawn chair and went to work on some of the old, dirty, full-length panes of glass. After about three hard whacks, the glass shattered and I jumped into a neglected and overgrown garden. I was outside. I ran around the building to the front of the mansion. I could see flames starting to work their way around the first floor. A lot of smoke was rising into the sky, and pretty soon the fire department would be here. I figured that I better make tracks. I ran through the gate to my cab, and saw a black SUV parked nearby. Next to it stood Grunfeld Bach and two of the biggest guys I had ever seen. I smiled, waved, and jumped into the cab. My driver headed off to the LaCroix towers. I went right up to the penthouse floor and entered. The prince was sitting behind his desk, his enforcer standing at his right. He had a laptop opened and was staring at it. "There you are, Randall," he said, with the proper amount of arrogance. "I thought I told you not to return until you had found Grout?" "Grout"s dead," I said. "What? Dead!" he shouted. "Alistair Grout is dead?" "Yeah," I said. "And this nutcase named Grunfeld Bach and two of his goons set fire to the mansion and damn near killed me as well." "Bach," LaCroix said, and he chuckled. "Bach is a vampire hunter. He and his paramilitary group hunt and kill vampires. They believe they are appeasing their god. Bach has been hunting me for quite some time, in human terms. Well, Bach has killed Grout. These are the fortunes of war. We must all accept losses at times." "I don"t think Bach killed Grout," I said. "Oh?" Here LaCroix smiled at me, like a teacher with a student that was being less than intelligent. "Yeah. You see, Sebastian, I found Grout staked and beheaded, and he looked as if he had been dead for a while. Also, I saw Nines Rodriguez leaving as I went in. At least I think it was Nines." "Listen to me." Sebastian commanded. "Are you sure it was Rodriguez?" "No, I"m not," I said. "It looked and walked like Nines, but it was not the usual talkative Nines I have come to know. Are there shape shifters in L. A.?" "Do you know what this means?" "No," I answered. He had ignored my question about shape shifters. "If Nines killed Grout, he has violated the Masquerade." LaCroix was very somber here. "The penalty for this is death. I must order a Blood Hunt on him." "And the Anarchs," I said, "who really don"t like you, will resist at every turn." I was trying to be diplomatic, and it wasn"t working. "I must confer with the Regents on this," LaCroix said. "I cannot be hasty in my decision." Here he brightened. "You, Randall, are proving to be quite an asset to the Camarilla. The warehouse and the Elizabeth Dane were all excellent work. Would you care for another little job? It will be simple, I promise." "What do I have to do?" "The sarcophagus has been moved from the Elizabeth Dane to the Museum of Natural History for safekeeping," LaCroix stated. "An archeologist will arrive, from Philadelphia, in a few days to examine it. I would like you to go to the museum and steal it. Bring it here." "That"s it?" "Yes," LaCroix said. "Oh, and there is a small wooden box, about one foot by one foot, that is with the sarcophagus. Bring that with you." "Sounds easy enough." "Here are the keys to the areas of the museum you will need," the prince said, handing me a card key and a key ring. "The card key opens the loading dock. The pass code is 9653. The keys open the various workshops and work areas. Locate the sarcophagus and bring it here. Could you do this tomorrow night?" "Sure," I said. "Well, then," the prince said. "Until tomorrow. Now be on your way." I was really beginning to dislike Sebastian LaCroix. His imperious attitude was the first thing that turned me off. And he seemed to be displaying an obsession with the Ankaran Sarcophagus. On my way back to my Santa Monica haven I thought a bit, and made a decision. After I recovered the sarcophagus for him, I was going to head to my place in Malibu and lay low for a while. I would just live a quiet vampire life and let the vampire politics pass me by. After a good day"s rest, and a downtown feeding, I headed to the museum. I got in easily enough. There was some security, but not too much. Evidently models of dinosaurs and old, stuffed animals were not worth stealing. I did encounter some security, and I either sneaked past them or used my power of trance to get by. It was pretty easy. No fuss, and no muss. I found the work areas, checked, and found a large workroom. Inside was a large, shattered crate. It would have contained the sarcophagus, but it was empty. Next to it stood Becket. "Becket!" I yelled. "What are you doing here? And where the hell is the sarcophagus?" "It appears to have been stolen," Becket said. "I did so hope to examine it. Did you steal it?" "No, Becket. I came to steal it and take it to the prince. Someone beat me to it." "Well," Becket continued, after a moment"s thought, "someone is probably bidding on it as we speak. I think they will be a bit disappointed when they open it and find a dried out old mummy." "You don"t think there was an ancient in it?" I asked. "An ancient dead king," Becket said, with a grin. "A bunch of old bones. Well, young one, until we meet again. And I do believe we will meet again." "Night, Becket," I said. "We have to stop meeting this way. People will talk." I went to my cab and headed back to LaCroix. I didn"t need a Malkavian vision to tell me that this meeting would not go well.