Blood Is Thicker Than Water

Table of Contents

For those of you just starting into our little chronicle you may begin with the first chapter: Formation. Or if you have already started reading some of the posts you can jump directly to where you left off with the following links:

CHAPTER ONEFORMATION: [ Part I ] [ Part II ] [ Part III ] [ Part IV ] [ Part V ]

CHAPTER TWOINVESTIGATING THE VIGNES: [ Part I ] [ Part II ]

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The Trip Home

AUGUST 25TH, 2010 – 10:09PM

   The traffic was non-existent and unusually quiet for so early in the evening as the gang pulled up to the light and waited to enter the on-ramp of the 110. The light turned green and they made their way slowly up the ramp. A split-second later, Hi Ki’s body tensed as she felt the familiar rush of imminent danger and she instinctively reacted. She stood up in the back seat as she glanced behind her. Wolfwood noticed the sudden movement from Hi Ki and followed her stare. Her eyes went wide as she screamed, ''Something’s coming.''

   The truck had come out of nowhere and rammed into the back of the Volkswagen bug, sending it forward where it clipped the back tire on Epiphany’s motorcycle. Both Hi Ki and Wolfwood leapt clear of the car as it careened over the side of the on-ramp. Epiphany was thrown clear of her motorcycle as it skidded further up the on-ramp. Wolfwood twisted gracefully in the air and landed on his feet in a crouched position. The car came to a stop and Hi Ki rushed to it just as Chaitan and Alex were crawling from it. The truck pulled to a stop as four figures climbed from the cab and stood spread out around it, seeming confident in their position. Anger welled up in Hi Ki, without thinking she dug her fingers into the wreckage of the Volkswagon and lifted it over her right shoulder. In one swift motion she hurled the car at the attackers yelling, ''Hit me with a car!!''

   

   

   

   

   

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Investigating the Vignes (Part II)
Wherefore Art Thou Ventrue?

AUGUST 25TH, 2010 – 9:12PM

   The gang pulled up to the gate of David Geduld’s home in Palos Verdes Estates. Epiphany reached out to the call-box and pushed the button. After a moment, a voice came across the intercom asking how they could help. She gave the voice her name and informed it that David was expecting them. She was answered with a quiet buzz and the gate swung slowly open. They pulled into the posh estate and gazed upon the well manicured lawn, dotted here and there with topiary and statuary. The house itself had a typical California beach front look, but somehow gave the impression of being more upscale than its primitive cousins to the north along the shorelines of the Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan beaches. Epiphany climbed off her motorcycle, placing her helmet on the handle bars, while the others exited the VW.

  Together they ascended the stone steps to the front door. As Epiphany raised her fist to knock on the door it opened slowly to reveal a stunning woman in a pinstripe business suit. Custom tailored, it fit ever curve of her body perfectly, but paled in comparison to the powder white complexion of her skin. Her face was framed with soft, dark curls the color of her suit, resting lightly upon her shoulders. Lips colored deep burgandy and eyes showing shades of a stormy sky. Her eyes darted among the visitors and then turned on Epiphany. ''I believe he was only expecting you. Who are the rest?''

   ''My Baron decided she would attend and figured it would be a good opportunity to make introductions with her new gang.''

   The woman put her hand to her ear and leaned her head behind the door, whispering into a security mic so the others would not hear. Wolfwood focused his senses and listened to the private conversation. ''She brought four others with her sir.''

   ''Who are they?''

   ''Apparently her new Baron and the rest of the gang.''

   ''Very well, show them to the study.''

   ''Yes sir.''

   Carefully she leaned back, opened the door fully, while swinging her arm inward and said, ''Please enter and follow me.'' Closing the door, she escorted them to a small study in the northern wing. It was very tastefully decorated with bookshelves lining most of the walls and an old fashioned writing desk facing out from the single blank wall. Solid wooden floors upon which was a single wingback chair and a sitting leather sofa. In one corner, two chairs were placed at a small table, which was just large enough for the chess set placed upon it. Epiphany strode straight over to one of the bookshelves, while Wolfwood kneeled and hunched over in a corner. Chaitan and Hi Ki chose to sit at the small table and began a game of chess. Meanwhile, Alex alternated between sitting in the wingback and standing. ''Mr. Geduld will be with you shortly.'' With that she turned and left the study. Alex never took take her eyes off of her.

   After a short period a gentleman entered the room. He wore custom-cut charcoal grey slacks with a white dress shirt worn casually with the top two buttons unfastened. He stood at just under six feet tall with short curly brown hair, deep Californian tan and a genuine smile beamed across his face. As he entered, Alex finally settled on being seated in the wingback chair. He looked over the assembled visitors, then nodded to Epiphany as he took a seat behind the desk. ''Welcome to my humble abode. What brings you here Epiphany?''

   ''I had some questions concerning the Vignes...'', she began as she was interrupted.

   ''Hello, I am Alex.''

   Still looking at Epiphany, ''And she is?''

   ''She is my new...''

   ''I am the Baron of Pasadena. Epiphany and the others are part of my new gang.''

   David turned to Alex, ''Should I address myself to you then?''

   ''Yes, that would be easier.''

   ''I see. Would you like to do introductions?''

   ''Oh, yes please. This is Charlatan.''

   Under his breath, ''Chaitan.''

   ''That’s what I said. Sitting with him is my right-hand shorty, Achoo.''

   ''It is Hi Ki Cho'', as she glared at Alex.

   ''That’s what I said.'' Then points at Epiphany, ''Of course you know my Miss Information.''

   Epiphany simply nodded in resignation.

   ''And in the corner brooding is Wolfwood. As you know there were Barons controlling my Barony before I came in.''

   ''Their Barony. It’s your Barony now.''

   ''It was always my Barony. They were just holding it for me.''

   ''I see.''

   ''We are here because Epiphany says that certain people are quite capable of helping certain others into and out of the city. And we would like to know if certain people made use of certain said services.''

   ''Are you trying to ask me if I assisted the Vignes with leaving the city?''

   ''Yes! Exactly.''

   At that moment the woman from the front door entered the study and offered David a goblet that was resting on an antique serving platter. Alex eyed her hungrily, ''I would like some too.'' The woman looked to David who turned to the group, ''Would anyone else care for some refreshment?''

   Chaitan and Hi Ki both agreed, while Wolfwood grumbled in the corner, annoyed at the slow progress and lack of action in his evening. David turned back toward the woman and asked, ''Vivian, please bring the requested refreshments for our guests.'' With that she left the room again, unaware of the intense gaze upon her by Alex.

   ''Now back to the business at hand, Alex. Where is the benefit to me for providing such information?''

   ''As a fellow Baron, I will play nice. You will have safe passage through my Barony for you and your gang.''

   ''Tempting as that may be, I see no need for for such a trip to the north at this time. I would expect at least a minor boon for such a service. I may not be your typical Ventrue that you encounter in the Camarilla cities, but old habits die hard.''

   Alex’s facial expression scrunched together in frustration, ''Very well. If you provide us useful information, that proves to be true, I will agree to a minor boon owed to you and no one else at some undetermined future date. But, if it proves to not be useful or untrue, then I will waste no time in showing my displeasure to yourself or your gang. Oh, and also you have to throw her in.'' She tilted head toward the entrance to the study. ''Agreed?''

   David raised an eyebrow and chuckled, ''Vivian? I am afraid she works for me, but I am not as draconian as my Camarilla brethren. What she does on her own time is her own business.''

   ''Fine. Throw in her number and we have a deal.''

   ''That seems fair to me.'' And with that he jotted down the number on a note pad and slid it to Alex.

   ''With that I believe our business here is concluded. Let’s head out people.'' Alex stood and nodded to the others who followed her as they took their leave. Together they pulled out and onto the road.

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Investigating the Vignes (Part I)
Wherefore Art Thou Ventrue?

AUGUST 17TH-20TH, 2010 – VARIOUS TIMES

   Using several ways of contact available to her, Alex passed on the same message to all the members of her gang: BE AT MY HAVEN ON AUGUST 25TH, PRECISELY AT 1 HOUR AND 32 MINUTES AFTER SUNSET. HAVE A HAPPY UNLIFE.

   

AUGUST 25TH, 2010 – 7:45PM

   Hi Ki had awoken at Alex’s haven and went about getting ready for the meeting before joining Alex in the main room. First to arrive was Epiphany who was promptly asked by Alex to tell her a story to entertain her. After a stern look, Epiphany told a story about ducks and world domination, much to the delight of her Baron. As the story was concluded, Wolfwood arrived, also a little bit early. Still waiting for the others Alex demanded that he entertain her with a game. He thought for a moment and responded, ''I have a guessing game for you. It’s called ‘How many fleas does Wolfwood have?’''

   Thinking carefully, Alex answered, ''Ummm, 1400?''

   ''NONE. I am dead.''

   ''Oh. That’s a good point I suppose.''

   Her train of thought was interrupted as Chaitan arrived. On time down to the second, he promptly asked, ''Yes. What did you need?''

   ''I was thinking... we need to get the band back together.''

   Without missing a beat Epiphany said, ''I always wanted to learn bass.''

   Chaitan added, ''I like drums.'', while the other two remained silent and unamused.

   ''Ok, ok. So the real reason I brought you here tonight is that I am concerned about the disappearance of the Zingers.''

   The group looked at each other with curious glances, as Wolfwood quietly supplied, ''The Vignes.''

   ''That’s what I said. Anyways, we don’t know if they left town, went into hiding or if something happened to them. In any of those possibilities it could be trouble and we do not want anything happening to this.'', and with a quick movement she stood, raised her hands over her head and ran them down her body, indicating herself. ''So, as I was saying, we need to find out what happened to the Vintages.''

   ''Vignes.'', the others all replied in unison.

   ''That’s what I said. So, there is a local club that is also a known vampire hangout that we could go check out. Try and find out what the rumors are about their disappearance.'' Then she pointed at Epiphany, ''You may need some make-up.''

   ''A LOT of make-up.'', Wolfwood calmly stated from the corner.

   Epiphany gave him a look of quiet anger and at the same time a thought suddenly occurred to Alex, ''Wait. My Wisdom, you used to work for them. What can you tell us that may be of use?''

   ''They summoned me once a week to check on the state of the Barony and the status of the Anarchs’ views toward them. The summoning stopped about three weeks before their disappearance became common knowledge.''

   Hi Ki raised her hand, ''What if we attend the Rant next week? It would let us meet and talk with others from all the Baronies at the same time.''

   Alex pondered for a moment, ''Very good idea, my right-hand shorty, but that is going to have to wait. I want to start checking things out this evening.''

   Hi Ki turned toward Epiphany, ''Do you know who the Vignes would have gone to for help in leaving the city?''

   ''Yes I do. Let me make a few calls.'' Then she made her way to the surface. After a few moments she returned, ''David Geguld has agreed to a meeting this evening. I can lead you there.''

   Alex stood, ''Ok, then lets head out. Everyone in my car and we will follow Alex.''

‡ ‡ ‡

   Epiphany climbed onto her motorcycle, revved the engine and put on her helmet. She looked behind her and waited for the others.

‡ ‡ ‡

   The others approached Alex’s car to find themselves standing in front of a classic convertible VW bug that had been painted with red and black polka dots. Wolfwood and Hi Ki climbed into the backseat, while Chaitan stood still and simply said, ''What is that?''

   ''It’s my ladybug.'', Alex responded proudly.

   ''I am not getting into that.''

   With a hurt look on her face, ''Why not?''

   ''I’ll just take my motorcycle.''

   Alex closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them again they seemed to be solid black, ''But I would really like it if you simply got into the car. It would be much easier than using more vehicles than necessary.''

   Chaitan had a sudden sensation of his emotions being dimmed to the point of apathy. No longer wanting to argue and not caring about the result he climbed into the passenger seat. With a start of the engine, they pulled up behind Epiphany and then headed out of the Rose Bowl into the night.

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Formation (Part V)
When Bonds are Forged

AUGUST 12TH, 2010 – 2:38AM

   The gang marched Jonathon in front of the waiting Alex, who appeared to be lost in thought and as unmoving as a statue. With a sudden movement and blinking of her eyes it gave the impression that she had been turned on like some animated robotic construct found at an amusement park. She focused her gaze on Jonathon and smiled broadly, ''You have been a naughty boy my dear. Come here.''

   With a finger she indicated the space before her. Reluctantly, he walked over and stood in front of her. She raised a hand slowly before him, ''You may begin making amends by kissing the hand.''

   With a look of disgust he looked around at the assembled vampires, ''Are you f#####g kidding me!?''

   A pout briefly crossed her face and then she leaned forward in her chair, ''Please... offer me your hand and I will show you how it is done.''

   An arrogant smile was unmistakable on his face as he offered his hand to her, giving the impression that he felt he was humoring a small child. Carefully she held the hand as if it was a delicate flower and pulled it toward her waiting lips. With the grace and speed of a vicious predator she extended his middle finger and bit it off, sitting back up in her chair.

   Jonathon screamed in agony, ''You crazy B###H!! What is wrong with you?''

   Alex looked at the finger and began picking at her teeth with the exposed bone. ''Now, now. There is no call for that as the pain was only momentary. The injury however shall not be. As long as you are in my Barony you are not to heal it. Is that understood?''

   Jonathon made no movement other than a quick, silent nod. ''Very well. You and yours may remain, so long as you tithe to me on a monthly basis in blood. ''

   With a flick of her wrist she tossed the finger back to him. ''You may leave now and bring the the finger back to me with your first tithing. I want it stripped of flesh and cleaned. I think I may wear it as a necklace.''

   He grimaced and turned to leave the haven, glaring at each member of the gang as he passed them. He made it just through the doorway as Alex’s mood became excited and she called after him, ''Oh, oh. I almost forgot. Come back here dear Jonathon.''

   For the briefest of moments he simply froze in place, then turned and walked back over to her. At his approach she thrust her hand out to him again with a wide grin on her face. Reluctantly he leaned forward, kissed the hand and then hastily exited the room. With his departure, she turned to her gang, ''You all did splendidly this evening. You are hereby dismissed. Go forth and enjoy your unlives, until we have need to meet again.

   Without another word, she sat back in her chair and resumed her state of absolute stillness. The rest of them looked at each other questioningly, shrugged, and departed one by one.

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Formation (Part IV)
When Bonds are Forged

AUGUST 12TH, 2010 – 1:26AM

   The drive in the old beat up Volkswagen bus was quiet and the group parked short of the skate park. Hi Ki and Epiphany remained quiet in the back seats, while Chaitan and Wolfwood discussed strategy on how to deal with the fledglings. After several minutes of back and forth, Wolfwood remained quiet while the Ravnos went on with ever increasingly elaborate plans. Frustrated with the inaction, the Gangrel exited the van and headed to confront the undead skaters, not looking behind to see if the rest of the gang was following. As he approached he shouted, ''I want the leader of this little group... we need to go see someone.''

   The group turned and took defensive postures as one of their number stepped forward, ''My name is Carlos, what do you want pendejo?''

   ''I want you to come with me...now.''

   ''Well that ain’t happening, comprende? So, start stepping and move along.''

   Wolfwood noticed two of the skaters in the back of the group whispering to the others and recognized them as the two survivors from the encounter with Hi Ki. With a grin he reached behind his back to grab one of his remaining stakes when one suddenly appeared in his hand, courtesy of Chaitan, at the same time lowering his sunglasses to reveal the tainted yellowish glow from his eyes. Carlos appeared to be reaching for a weapon of his own, when a hand was placed on his shoulder. A tall figure over 6 feet pushed his way to the front of the group. ''Stand down Carlos. I’m Jonathon and these are my boys. I will go with you and see what this about.'' He followed Wolfwood back to the van and they departed for the haven of Alex.

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Formation (Part III)
When Bonds are Forged

AUGUST 12TH, 2010 – 12:28AM

   Entering the tunnels the trio were quickly led and presented to Alex in what had become typical fashion. This time interrupting what appeared to be a very intense chess game between the Malkavian and the Ravnos. Both of which seemed to be trying to figure how the other may be cheating. As the guard finished announcing them Alex threw her arms out to her sides in a gesture of welcome, which caused the chess board and its pieces to be thrown to the floor. All except a few of Chaitan’s pieces which seemed to hang in the air briefly before disappearing. Alex appeared not to notice as she was beaming at the three entering her haven, ''You have returned and brought my wisdom with you! Welcome to our gang Achoo.'' Hi Ki thought briefly about correcting her on the last name, but decided to simply let it pass.

   ''I think I have a task for all of you. I want these... these fledglings in my Barony brought to me. All should be aware that attacking one of my own will not be tolerated. Also, if they wish to remain here they are to follow my rules and need to be aware of what those may be.''

   Sounding not the least bit amused Epiphany asked, ''Why did you have me brought here?''

   ''You need to be seen as a cohesive group, so that others will understand that we are not to be written off. That when something needs to be dealt with we we will work together as a united force against any outside threat. Is that understood?''

   Taken aback by her unusually clear and direct manner the others simply nodded as they looked to each other. Hi Ki was the first to speak up after the long pause following Alex’s directive, ''Where should we begin our search?''

   ''You!'', pointing at Wolfwood, ''You have been investigating the area extensively since the disappearance of the Vignes. I am betting you know where they can be found.''

   ''They have been congregating at the El Sereno Skate Park at the very edge of your Barony. Been there a couple of weeks.''

   ''Then go forth and bring their leader to me. I would like to have a polite conversation with him or her.''

   Chaitan quietly slipped off to the side to make a phone call, then returned to the group, ''I have a arranged a ride, so that we can all travel together.''

   With that, they all headed out into the night, intent on the successful completion of the task set before them by their newly accepted Baron. The banter of the newly acquainted drifted with them through the tunnels. Left alone in her room, Alex pondered the possibilities of tonights encounter. She knew that retrieving the fledgling would not pose any difficulty. If it did, then these were not the Kindred she was looking for. No, the real test would be whether these four could work together without wanting to kill each other. A wicked cheshire grin crossed her face as she returned to her chair. Leaning back, her form assumed a stillness that matched the corpse she had become. Quietly she waited.

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Formation (Part II)
When Bonds are Forged

AUGUST 11TH, 2010 – 11:35PM

   At the Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens Epiphany was trolling through one of the one of the rare book collections when a rat scampered up to her feet and began screeching. She tilted her head, listening carefully to the rat. A frown crossed her face as she thought to herself, ''So. We have guests.'' The rat began to scurry away and she turned to follow it, her form shimmered and slowly faded from view.

‡ ‡ ‡

   Epiphany spent several minutes observing the uninvited guests to her domain as they wandered the grounds of the Huntington. Already familiar with him, she focused her attention on the young girl. She appeared weak and frail to her, but the sense of a vibrant intellect was intriguing. Standing behind Hi Ki’s left shoulder she allowed herself to rematerialize and calmly asked, ''Who is this?''

   Startled, she shrieked and jumped closer to Wolfwood. Taking a moment to compose herself she said, ''My name is Hi Ki Cho and I was sent her to bring you to Alex.''

   ''Tonight is not a good time for me as I am busy. Tomorrow night would be better.''

   ''Well, I have just met her, but she seems to be the type that is better to humor than to make angry. Especially, considering she has now claimed this Barony.''

   Wolfwood quickly interjected, ''You know her mind wanders and she will most likely leave you be for long periods of time if you simply see her when she requests._''

   She narrowed her eyes in frustration at the two before her, ''Very well, you do have a valid point. I will follow you there.''

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Formation (Part I)
When Bonds are Forged

AUGUST 11TH, 2010 – 10:21PM

   Hi Ki arrived on the streets of Pasadena with the intention of finding it’s new Baron and seeking protection, or better yet a place to belong. What she did not intend to find was a fight in which she was outmatched with no where to run. Her innate sense of foreboding set off alarms in her head, but before she could determine the reason she was surrounded. With her back to a wall, four thugs dressed in t-shirts and jeans closed in on her with hunger in their eyes. Just as one of them was about to leap forward a hand reached from behind him and clawed away the entire front of his face, dropping him to the ground as so much dead weight. Before the remaining three vampires could fully react, the new figure produced a wooden stake from his jacket and shoved it into the chest on a second thug. Exchanging glances the last two decided that running was their best option and disappeared quickly into the night. Quietly the possible savior turned his attention towards Hi Ki and barked, ''What are you doing here little one?''

   ''I… I was looking for the one called Alex. Who are you?''

   ''My name is Wolfwood and what is it you want of Alex?''

   Quickly she explained herself to him and he told her that he was heading to see her now and was willing to take her to see Alex. He led her to his motorcycle, started the engine and motioned for her to climb on. With a jolt they pulled out onto the street and headed toward their destination.

   After about 15 minutes, Hi Ki Cho realized they were heading towards the Rose Bowl. Upon arriving, Wolfwood led her through a series of tunnels deep beneath the stadium, arriving at the haven entrance they are brought in by the overnight security guard and presented to Alex. As the two entered they were greeted with the sight of a young man literally playing court jester for a seated woman at the back of the room, complete with outfit and juggling flaming bowling pins. The woman looked up at the announcement made by the security guard and waved for the young man to stop, ''We have guests, Charlatan, you can entertain me again later.''

   With a heavy sigh, ''As I have said before, the name is Chaitan.'' Quietly he stepped aside as the pins and outfit faded away, leaving him wearing a tank-top with unbuttoned dress shirt, jeans and sneakers.

   Introductions were made and Hi Ki offered her services to Alex in exchange for protection to which Alex chuckled loudly.

   ''How old are you little one? And only give me the years that count.''

   ''If I understand the question correctly the answer is four.''

   ''Very good. You are a smart one. Fetch me my information and we will talk.''

   ''I am not sure I understand.''

   ''You know... my idea, my thoughts. No wait, my Epiphany! Yes, that’s her name. And take him with you to go get her. You are dismissed.''

   As Hi Ki looked to Wolfwood he merely shrugged as if to say this was normal behavior for her and he had learned to tolerate it. At which point he indicated they should be on their way.

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