I spent some time in Malibu securing my house as my second haven. I moved a spare bed into the basement and blacked the windows to keep sunlight out. I also partitioned the area around the bed into a small bedroom. If anyone would violate my haven while I was resting, it would be very easy to defend myself and eliminate the intruder. I also got rid of any human food, as I would not need it anymore. No sense in keeping steak in the freezer.
While in Malibu, I detected a vampire presence. It was not very strong, and I had a feeling that it was Sabbat. It seemed to be centered around an old building on the north end of town. The building was once a combination gas station, repair shop, and parking garage. The pumps were gone, but someone was using it for something. I marked it down to be investigated at a later date and time, after I had worked through this sarcophagus thing for the prince. Intuition told me I would be involved for a while.
One night I went back to Santa Monica, spent a day at my haven, and then got in my cab and told the driver to take me to the Last Round. "What do I owe you?" I asked.
"Prince LaCroix pays," was all he said. That was fine with me.
I arrived at the Last Round, and two Anarch vampires gave me a bunch of shit about working for a Camarilla. "Lackey for a Cape" was one of the more civil names tossed at me. I went upstairs, and there were Nines and Jack, sitting at a small table. I walked over to them.
"May I sit?" I asked.
"You came," Nines said, smiling. "Good. Grab a seat."
Nines went into his pitch, or rant, or whatever you want to call it. It was the basic working class hero rant, about how, during the Depression, a few wealthy guys screwed over the U. S. A. and the poor guy suffered. He basically said that Camarilla was looking to screw over all the vampires at the bottom of the pyramid. He also told me that about fifty years or so ago, the Anarchs had kicked their asses out of L. A. Now they were back. And Nines said the Anarchs would do it again. He said the Camarilla wasn"t worth the space they took up.
"Listen, Nines," I said, collecting my thoughts, "I am totally confused with all of this shit. Now, you helped me twice, and I appreciate that. Right now, I would never fuck over a Camarilla or an Anarch. But I have a bad feeling about Sebastian LaCroix. And, being as I have no Sire, I have to kind of sort this stuff out for myself."
"Bravo Randy," Jack said, and he slowly applauded. "Let me tell you something. Every sane vampire in L. A. has a bad feeling about LaCroix. Toss the Sabbat and the Kuei-Jin in Chinatown, along with the sarcophagus, and everything seems to be turning to shit."
I told Jack and Nines about my trip to the Elizabeth Dane, and what I saw.
"Really?" Jack said, and his eyes got very large. "Well, it could mean everything, or it could mean nothing. But with the Sabbat, the Kuei-Jin, the Anarchs, and the Camarilla, all trying to get control, kiddo, and you may have been embraced into interesting times. We"ll see what happens."
"Well, to hell with the vampire apocalypse theory," I said. "I don"t feel good about LaCroix. How about you two giving me your thoughts on that?"
"That"s easy," Jack said. "LaCroix has your sire killed. He was going to kill you as well, but Nines spoke up. So he lets you live, and he looks like the good guy. Next he sends you off to Santa Monica to take out the Sabbat warehouse. That"s a job for an experienced, solid vampire. And not just one. He figures you"ll fail, get killed, and he still looks good. But you screw him over and succeed, which pisses him off. So he gets the word on the street that you did it. The Sabbat is waiting for you when you arrive in L. A. I"m not saying that"s the way the shit came down, but it should give you some food for thought."
Nines added some thoughts. I thanked the pair and asked them if I could look them up again. They said yes. Then I left the Last Round to speak with Maxmillian Strauss.
The chantry where Maxmillian held court was a library of sorts. It is where the Tremere vampires gather and study blood magic and learn more of their powers. I found Strauss very forthcoming in our talk. I told him of my powers, and how they came to me automatically. I said that I had been told I displayed Tremere tendencies.
"That may well be, young one," Strauss said. "But you have also displayed some Malkavian traits, although you have displayed the better ones." Here he chuckled. "You are still Caitiff. We will have to observe you more to determine if you should move your haven into the chantry and study."
"Thank you, Max," I said. "Now, anything on the sarcophagus you can tell me?"
"Legend has it," Max said, "that ancient vampires sleep in those things. When I say ancient, I mean they have been in existence since before the birth of Christ. They are extremely powerful, and the presence of one indicates a purge in the vampire community. I will say no more on that topic."
"Max," I asked, "what about LaCroix? He is arrogant as all hell, and I really don"t trust him."
"It is my opinion," Strauss said, and he was very somber, "that LaCroix wishes to control the entire Los Angeles area. I do not think he is capable, even if his seizes control. Read about Napoleon and his Grand Army going into Russia."
We talked about LaCroix a bit more, and I asked Max if I could come back and pick his brain. He said yes. When I left, my intuition was working overtime. Something told me that Maxmillian Strauss was born to power, and knew how to handle it. He was a natural leader. If there was to be a Camarilla in L. A., Strauss should be the prince, not LaCroix.
I found my cab and went back to Santa Monica. Tomorrow night I would head out to the Grout Mansion to look for the wayward Malkavian regent.