by Dustin Evermore and Lisa Hartjes
The phone buzzed on Beren's desk. She looked up from the quarterly reports
she was reading and pressed the intercom button.
"Sorry to disturb you, Mistress." Beren recognized the voice as Nadim, one
her servants. "The call on line two is for you. Someone by the name
"Thank you, Nadim," Beren replied, turning off the intercom and taking the
"Beren it's good to hear your voice. It's been a couple weeks. How are things
"Busy looking after the mundane details of my life," Beren replied with a
laugh. "How about yourself?"
"I'm wishing for some mundane details to look after again." Fianna gave short
laugh that was more wistful than humorous.
"What has happened?" Berne asked.
"I could really use some advice, Beren." Her voice turned very serious. "But
I can't see you. Too dangerous. I've got some trouble following me and I
need to learn a little bit about them. You've been around through all this
stuff and hold a neutral position, so I was hoping you might have insight
that I can't find elsewhere."
"I will do my best," Beren replied, leaning back in her chair.
"I don't want to attract too much attention, but I think this line is secure.
Celeste sees to that. But the enemy sect has sent someone or a group of someones
after me. They have a collective name that rhymes with flack band. "
"I see," Beren said. "What happened?"
Fianna sighed on the phone. "Well they used me as bait. It worked, but that
was about as much fun as getting whacked with a wooden crossbow bolt through
the heart and then chased through the sewers, only to get a leg ripped off
and shot at again with high-powered rifles when we tried to get out. Which
is exactly what happened. Anyway, I had a bodyguard, Nate, helping me out
and thanks to him I wasn't captured and was able to draw this guy into a
trap set by the Sheriff. How likely is the sect to send more?"
"It depends on why someone was sent in the first place. If their goal was
your destruction, they will never stop," Beren explained.
"I don't think that's the goal, or they wouldn't have tried to just immobilize
me. They would have tried to burn me. This hitter was a Lasombra, too. Used
my own darkness against me. Does this group of hit men consist mainly of
"They are lead by Lasombra and Assamite antitribu, but their ranks are filled
by all clans," Beren replied.
"Hm. I've taken some steps, but I'd still like to ask. What would you do
if you were pursued by these guys, to get them to stop?"
"The things that I can do are not things that you can do," Beren replied.
"All you can do is watch and wait, and hope that you had been chosen as the
target of one of their tests. They are relentless, incorruptible, fanatically
loyal, and are the secret police of the Sabbat. To be perfectly frank, you
are of too little consequence to merit their attention. But one can never
tell with their superiors."
"I'm assuming the worst. They hit me with a crossbow bolt, but they tried
to kill my bodyguard. I know that the Tzimisce, Teirza and what I think is
her Lasombra superior know me. They were impressed I'd survived their indoctrination
intact. The Lasombra's name was either Caitlin or Kaylin. Sources tell me
they usually move around between the packs; some kind of bigwigs.
"But this guy they sent after me, the Lasombra assassin was very good. Better
than a whole pack of Sabbat. Dutch was the one who stopped him, personally
and Dutch is the top Brujah in the whole city. If this is just Sabbat curiosity,
or a test, then they seem very serious about it."
Beren said, "If the object of the attack was to destroy you, he would not
have staked you. By doing that, it indicates you are wanted alive, not dead,"
Beren said. "The tests they set for their potential initiates are always
difficult, and it is by far more difficult to capture one of our kind alive.
They are the elite of the Sabbat, and only the best have a remote chance
of becoming part of their elite group."
"Exactly. That's what I believe as well. They have tried three times to capture
me now, but only once succeeded."
"Are you sure the ones who have been coming after you are indeed part of
the secret police? Who told you they were?"
Fianna made a noise on the phone. "People. Look, I don't know if I'm supposed
to know that. I'd rather not say. In any case, anything we learn about the
Sabbat is a little suspect, so yeah it may or may not be true. I prefer to
err on the side of caution, though."
Fianna continued, "I've gone ahead and had some changes made. It wasn't easy,
but they're awful permanent. I've also changed my name, and it was necessary
to reintroduce myself to the Prince, since very few people should be able
to recognize me anymore. And I now have the ultimate Bear Warrior, so long
as the Scourge doesn't give me too many problems about it."
"What do you mean, the ultimate Bear Warrior, and why would the Scourge care?"
"I mean that this sheep has grown teeth. I have bonded a werecat to me. This
time my enemies will have to adapt to *my* weapon."
Beren was quiet for a moment. "I see. Is it Jack?"
"Not anymore. He chose to see me. Somebody's been screwing with his mind
pretty hard. Remembered when you mentioned the government found something
that caught their attention here a couple weeks ago? I'm pretty sure it was
him. So anyway, he was looking for old friends. I told him I could
help, but he'd have to make some sacrifices. He could walk away, or choose
one of three fates. He chose the fates. Then I told him he could stay with
my tribe, but he could never leave the protective boundaries of the place,
or he could end up bringing hell down on those people. Or he could choose
the Ritual of Blood. Or I could take him over to the Brujah and have him
embraced. He chose the Ritual of Blood. But it's not as simple as that, either.
I can't have the government breathing down my neck, too. I could protect
him, but not if he was going to continue to run around being, well, Jack.
"So I told him he would still be a constant threat. He knows too much about
too many people who'd really rather him not know. He chose to be brain-wiped,
so I did. That's when we discovered human mages were involved, too. But they
knew he'd made a conscious decision of his own volition, and they let him
go. I know the mage that did it, too, and I think she will let it go. So
anyway, we made him a blank slate, except for his personality. He's blood
bonded to me now and has a new name. I know I'll be able to count on him,
because I think this is what he always really wanted anyway."
Fianna chuckled. "And I won't deny that I approved of his choices, very much
so. With my bond, no one will be able to control him again. He regards me
as his friend, the only friend he remembers anyway, and is most afraid of
someone screwing with his mind again. Now he will be free of that. His only
master will be me."
"And you will have unlimited access to the blood that you crave," Beren added
"Oh yes. There will be that. My only limitation will be myself. I guess we
will see how I do with that, won't we?"
"At any rate, at least I have changed enough to throw less determined enemies.
A new vampire in town, with her own servant. I've got a new body, and am
having to work at not tripping over my own feet, but I'm told that should
"What about your coterie? Will you be rejoining them, and will they
know of your change?"
There was a pause on the other end of the line. "My friends? Nate is still
assigned as a bodyguard, and I have been with Celeste since she awakened.
I haven't seen Santorini or Nuyen for a couple weeks. I haven't been associating
with them publicly or privately for a while. I'm not sure when or if it will
be safe to do so again."
"Are the questions I'm asking making you uncomfortable," Beren asked softly.
"No, it's okay, Beren. I'm fine. But listen, I do need to go. Celeste and
I need to check and see if William's – the werecat's – memories are finished
being burned away. Oh, and those changes I mentioned? They are physical.
Once I figure out how to walk and jog properly again, I may be able to visit
you again but we'll have to wait and see a little bit."
"No problem," Beren replied calmly.
"Talk to you later." There was a click as the phone hung up.