Getting Some Answers
Wesley and I were sitting in the study of Maxmillian Strauss. He sat behind his fine desk, sipping some tea. He had offered us some, but we declined. After some polite conversation, I brought Max up to date on everything Wesley and I had accomplished. Maxmillian listened, nodded and shook his head here and there, and said nothing. When we had finished, Max remained silent for a moment and then looked at us very carefully.
"What you two have done, Childer," he said, "is most impressive. Most impressive. And you, Wesley, your ability to resist and break the will of the Sabbat, well, that is very rare. It shows great strength."
Wesley said thanks. Maxmillian paused, sipped some more tea, paused again, and then looked at us. His expression was one of extreme seriousness and, perhaps, even some worry.
"Tell me," he asked, "what do the two of you know of vampiric diseases?"
"Nothing," we answered in unison.
"Kindred," Max stated, "suffer from only one disease. That is insanity. It manifests itself, most of the time, as a loss of the will to live. One looks for a way to Final Death. Usually, they stay awake and watch a sunrise. Or they may build a large bonfire and walk into it. Some have simply gone to sleep and never awakened. But there is another, very rare, manifestation."
"And that is?" I asked.
"The insane vampire develops a Napoleon complex," Maxmillian said. "They start to crave power, and power simply for power"s sake. They look for ways to acquire it, and will stop at nothing to gain it."
"Sounds like LaCroix," I said. Wesley merely listened.
"The agreement between Ming Jaio and LaCroix is an indication," Maxmillian said. "No Kindred would enter into an agreement with the Kuei-Jin. We are too different. And the fact that there are hints, hints, not proof, that LaCroix had Sabbat contacts is another. It appears he was going to use those groups to destroy the Anarchs. Next, he would play them off against each other. He would be the power in Los Angeles then. And, of course, he would look for fresh fields to conquer as well."
"So we"ve hurt him, and hurt him bad," Wesley said.
"Yes, you have," Strauss responded. Here he smiled. "It appears, to me, that something did come out of the sarcophagus, but did not go back in. It is directing your actions. Your Malkavian intuition is the indication, Randy. I suspect that your Sire was very ancient, and very powerful."
"Well, if I have Tremere powers, where does the Malkavian side come from?" I asked.
"There was once a clan, all female, known as the Daughters of Chaos," Maxmillian said. "Their primary locations were Thebes, in Egypt, and Jerusalem, and Rome. It was believed that the clan disappeared around the middle of the thirteenth century. Evidently, there was one still alive."
"Well," I said, "It can"t be Casey. Maybe she came out of the sarcophagus, but I saw her suffer Final Death at the hands of LaCroix."
"Casey was female?" Maxmillian asked.
"I doubt that she exited the sarcophagus," Maxmillian said. "However, she may have been in league with what slumbered inside of it. Tread carefully with this, Childer. This could be dangerous."
"We"ll cross that bridge when we come to it," I said. "I think a lot of the Camarilla are probably pissed that I am hanging with a Sabbat runaway. That doesn"t bother me. Wesley has covered my back. I am thankful for that. But I have an idea, Maxmillian."
"And that is?" he asked.
"I want to take down LaCroix," I stated. "The son of a bitch has tried to have me killed enough. I think L. A. needs a Camarilla leader, but it needs one that has his shit together. If I take out LaCroix, you want the job?"
"If you two take out LaCroix!" Here Maxmillian Strauss laughed. "I cannot see myself on that throne. But you have some Malkavian in you. You may see it. At any rate, Childer, be careful. Plan your moves wisely. LaCroix has power, and a lot of it."
The three of us discussed a few more things, and then parted. Wesley and I walked to my cab, and continued to work over, in our brains, what we had learned and accomplished. Wesley was now sharing the cab with me. There was no point in hiding our intentions. I had had my fill of Sebastian LaCroix. We took the cab to Wesley"s haven at Malibu. With the Sabbat gone, it was a safe place. When we got there, I asked the cab driver how much I owed him.
"Prince LaCroix pays."
"Bullshit," I said. Wesley and I were now outside of the cab. "Why don"t you get out and talk to us? Whom in the fuck are you working for?" I was a bit upset.
Both of us were surprised when the driver exited the cab, wearing a grin that went from ear to ear. For the first time, I thought of checking his aura. I don"t know why I had never thought of it before. My driver was a vampire, pure and simple. I thought that, all along, he had been a ghoul for LaCroix. I had been dead wrong on that call.
"Okay, what the hell is going on? You don"t work for LaCroix!"
"You are wrong, Childe," he said, and his mid-eastern accent was very pronounced. "The prince pays me to transport you. To drive you about, and nothing more. He has never paid me to inform on you, or to keep him aware of your activities." Here he laughed.
"A fucking lawyer," Wesley said.
"What I think," I said, "is that you know who, or what, was in that sarcophagus. Why don"t you tell me? And don"t give me any of that vampire apocalypse shit."
The man continued grinning. Then he spoke.
"There was an imbalance," he said. "An imbalance in the power structure. You and Wesley are correcting that imbalance. Casey chose well. Very well indeed. As for vampire apocalypse, you and Wesley are the apocalypse. To some. But not to all. I will tell you more at a later time."
The driver jumped into his cab and sped away. Wesley and I were left, standing in the street, bewildered.