Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

I Vampire too: I, Vampire Book Two: Chapter 3: Proteges -the Alchemist and the C

Expand Messages
  • christine nightstar
    I Vampire too: I, Vampire Book Two: Chapter 3: Proteges -the Alchemist and the Cajun/Gypsy Finding clues to the Regent s whereabouts wasn t exactly easy in a
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      I Vampire too: I, Vampire Book Two: Chapter 3: Proteges -the
      Alchemist and the Cajun/Gypsy

      Finding clues to the Regent's whereabouts wasn't exactly easy in a
      city the size of Los Angeles. Jared hadn't exactly made friends
      amongst the other vampires in the city either. He had lived in area
      for about four years and hadn't exactly made the contacts others had.

      Standing on top of the building he owned he could see all the way to
      the sign proclaiming HOLLYWOOD. Jared was wearing his usual attire; a
      black leather vest with velvet trim, Black leather pants and boots, a
      white button up shirt, and black silk tie. Though the outfit was
      tight fitting he also had hidden in the sleeves, several silver
      throwing knives, the silver/steel bowie knife in his boot, and a
      pistol with some special bullets hidden under his vest.

      When the wind shifted his mercenary instincts kicked, Jared turned
      and threw a knife at the figure behind him. Jared was a kneeling
      position from the twist, his arm extended, his gaze fixed on the
      figure behind him.

      "I see the old one taught you well…" the figure said as she held the
      silver throwing knife just a fraction of inch from her chest. She had
      the appearance of a young Spanish maiden even though she was dressed
      in the latest women's fashions. The young woman tossed the knife down
      to the ground.

      "I was a mercenary before I became a vampire…"

      "That's unusual… the old one is one of the main advocates of peaceful
      cohabitation and teachers of feeding off the excess life essence."

      "Master taught me those things … so what is unusual?"

      "Your chosen profession is all… he usually avoids warriors of any
      type."

      "You talk as if you know him…"

      "This wasn't the first time he's been through this area, I doubt it
      will be the last."

      "So what do you want with me?"

      "Your bravado with the messenger intrigued me… Most just pay the
      tribute and get along with their business."

      "You're the Regent? But you look so young…"

      "I was to be the wife of conquistador when I was seventeen years old…
      I was attacked by a vampire on my wedding night, while my husband was
      out with his friends. I learned to use my abilities quickly and snuck
      aboard a ship bound for the New World as an dog."

      "I was in my twenties when I was made a vampire."

      "My story isn't all the simple but I eventually made my way up to Los
      Angeles from Mexico."

      "So I'd gather…How many times were you married?"

      "What makes you think that I married more than once?"

      "The amount of influence you command, the fact that you are wearing
      the latest fashions from Paris, and if you hadn't have married more
      than once you wouldn't have had enough access to large amounts of
      money to gain that influence or afford the latest Parisian fashions.
      I'd say you married at least every thirty years, so about ten times…
      after about five or six years of marriage you'd start avoiding public
      appearances, because they'd start asking questions about how you
      remained so youthful… Wearing a heavy veil so they couldn't see your
      face or travelling so that nobody could guess your age."

      "You are a clever one… is that why the old one chose you?"

      "Partially… but there was more."

      "There usually is… Master as you call him isn't known for making a
      Childe without reasons or plan."

      "What is your name? Because calling you Regent doesn't exactly sound
      fitting since it's the two of us."

      "My full Name is Maria Elena Cortez ~ Ramirez ~ Hernandez ~ Garcia ~
      Valdez ~ Del Vega. You were right about me marrying multiple times.
      Just wrong about how many times." the Regent replied with a smile.

      Jared laughed but as quick as a blink the Regent's smile was gone.
      And her face was all serious again.

      "Your bravado intrigued me, so I came to meet you… I can tell that
      you are capable of backing up that bravado as well or the old one
      would not have wasted his time on you. But I can not let your bravado
      become an example to the others that I rule… We must settle this
      issue between us."

      "I understand… but may I ask a few questions first?" Jared said.

      "You just asked one…"

      "May I call you Maria while we are talking?"

      "If I can call you Jared." The regent replied and Jared nodded.

      "Why do you take so much in tribute? It seems a bit excessive."

      "There are two types of vampires here… the rich and influential, and
      the predators, if the press found out about the predators they would
      eventually dig and find out about the others. I take the tribute to
      make sure that never happens… I pay the publishers of the major
      newspapers to keep the details hidden."

      "You can't always hide, no matter how hard you try… or how many
      people get paid off sooner or later people will learn of the
      existence of …our kind."

      "They learned once before… long ago, the ones that promised to keep
      our secrets were made our servants… the ones that weren't were killed
      brutally as per my orders."

      "How many people died?"

      "Nearly two thousand… women…children, and men. But those predators
      are getting worse every year. They have no regard for the laws of our
      society."

      "How many of the Predators are there now?"

      "Nearly five hundred strong… in the less affluent areas of my
      Regency"

      "I guess there's a problem besides them acting like delinquents…"
      "They are growing in numbers without control…"

      "Your enforcers haven't been able to do anything about it?"

      "My enforcers are more concerned about the publicity of them doing
      their jobs right than our losing control of Los Angeles."

      "Write up a list of the top ten perpetrators for me, the worst of the
      worst."

      "Why would you want that list?"

      "A freestaker has to earn money some how."
      ---

      "Master's second Childe has met with the Regent of the Los Angeles
      Basin, Sir."

      "I can tell that with my own Spells, Seer… how does this bode for our
      control of California."

      "Poorly if the alliance they make is strong… which it is going to be
      unless there is an intervention."

      "Poor Strategy, Seer, we can not reveal our position to the Vampires…
      Lords, Regents, or the Blood Moon yet."

      "Then how do you suggest we break up the alliance between them?"

      "By using an agent that is known to have Blood Moon ties as well as
      to the Regents."

      "But the Count of St. Germaine doesn't owe us any favors… he won't
      come to America unless we do him a favor."

      "The count of St. Germaine isn't the one that owes us the favor his
      Mentor does… and his Mentor is also a Vampire Lord."

      "You mean ask Dracula for his Protégé's help?"

      "Exactly… He owes us a few favors after his last fiasco with Abraham
      Van Helsing… saving him from certain death as it were."

      "Are you sure that the Vampire Lord will do that for us?"

      "Of course, Count Vlad Tepes Dracul always repays his debts of honor."

      "What if Dracula comes in the stead of his protégé?"

      "Then we will see just how good and powerful Master's protégé really
      is. Put through the call, Seer"

      "Yes Sir… but you do know they are about eight hours ahead of us …
      you'd be waking him up or catching him going down."

      "Actually neither because he is currently in his town house in
      Havana. I do try to keep track of those who owe me favors…"

      "You are wisdom itself, Sir…"

      "I made you a immortal over a century ago Seer, you don't have to
      call me Sir any more."

      "I am sorry, Lord Othello…" Seer replied to his dark master.
      ---

      Number ten on the list was a name that Jared had heard before. It was
      hard not to find this vampire's name on the tabloids. Problem was it
      was because of the name recognition that the Regent's enforcers were
      reluctant to discipline this vampire.

      He was the spoiled son of one of America's wealthiest industrialists.
      He had been made a vampire over fifty years ago; the Vampire that
      created him had been destroyed by his Childe. Not really any big loss
      as the Elder was trying to improve his social standing and wasn't a
      powerful vampire anyway, but he was learned and had excellent control
      of his abilities, which transferred to Jared's target when he was
      destroyed.

      The main reason Jared's target was named as a threat was not because
      he destroyed his creator and drank his blood… but because he killed
      without covering up the deaths. He was accountable for over fifty
      deaths this year, the only reason he hadn't been arrested was because
      of his name. The police were paid off, as was the press.

      Jared had sat on the rooftop watching his target for the last week…
      he was careless about hiding/disposing of the bodies but he was
      meticulous about many other aspects of his life. He arose every night
      at seven, bathed, dressed, and groomed until nine. He left his lair
      at Nine fifteen. He picked up some female companionship on the way to
      club… High-end prostitutes usually. Played around with them and fed
      on them on the way to the club. Before he'd get to the club… about a
      mile away his driver would stop the car and they would dump the
      bodies on the side of street.

      In the club, he was mister personality… everyone knew him and liked
      him. He was popular with the bartenders as well as waitresses. He
      tipped well. He lived his unlife to excess until three in the
      morning.

      He'd go to his office after the club…overlook his Industrial empire's
      records leaving memos for those who managed the daily running of his
      many businesses. He'd get a call about an hour before dawn, and
      finish up whatever he was doing before leaving. He was back in his
      lair before the sun arose. Very neat and careful…

      The target has seven servants that guarded him at all times. Usually
      a vampire would make one to three servants, controlling them with the
      promise of the vampire's blood, which gave superhuman abilities. Five
      was an excessive amount because of the amount of blood that it took
      from the Vampire, So seven… it was no wonder that the target was
      killing as often as he did. But a Vampire had other ways of gaining
      loyalty…so why didn't the target use them?
      ---

      The Next night had taken a bit of…arranging to set up. Seven
      servants, which were strong enough together to give a Vampire a hard
      time no matter what level, the Vampire was. Jared was taking no
      chances… He was going to have to eliminate them one at a time.

      Security was easy to bypass on the outer regions of the lair… the
      animals were trained guard dogs. Becoming a mist Jared passed right
      by them. His presence agitated the dogs a bit but didn't set them
      off. Solidifying just long enough to lock up the lair.

      Telling who was a blood servant, or ghul, and who wasn't was a fairly
      simple process. Jared could smell the blood on them. Moving silently,
      as a mist was a reasonably easy task as well. Moving as a Mist wasn't
      exactly helpful when you were looking for someone.

      "So let's see where your real watchdogs make their lair, Mister
      Carnegie." Jared whispered quietly. Shifting to the form of a rat was
      more advantageous to this task… Jared scurried to the scent of the
      blood. Moving from room to room, along the paneling.

      Listening to activity of the lair… Jared the Rat made an observation
      point under an antique liquor cabinet in the corner of living room.
      Jared could smell the blood in the wine bottles. Quietly
      contemplating who this blood was for, an emergency cache maybe?
      Jared watched the activity progress. There were fifteen heartbeats in
      the lair… One was Carnegie… seven were the ghuls and the other seven
      were… hopefully regular servants who didn't get paid enough to deal
      with what was about to happen. If not…

      Patience was something he learned long ago during the war. He never
      liked having to wait, but knew its value. Right now he waited. Time
      drug on as he waited, all the voices were not on the main floor where
      he was… locating the different heartbeats might lead him to his goal,
      but he had always been an advocate of making his goal come to him.

      A teenage girl dressed in servant's outfit ran down the stairs…
      yelling about how Master Thomas needed his evening clothes pressed.
      This piqued Jared's interest as last he heard there was no Thomas in
      the Carnegie family that he had heard of.

      Jared peeked his head out from underneath the cabinet and watched the
      young girl run to the back of the lair. He looked up the stairs and
      down the hall hoping that he could get up the stairs without causing
      too much of a ruckus. Slowly making his way towards the stairs…

      He heard someone coming his way, and didn't have time to shift into
      an unnoticeable mist. Pressing his body up against step as tight as
      he could, he hoped that he wouldn't be noticed. As a rat he wasn't
      exactly small but A rat was much smaller than wolf. Another woman
      shouted that Master Thomas was being difficult and wouldn't
      cooperate. Several other voices upstairs confirmed that Master Thomas
      was being uncooperative. Jared was puzzled, as he hadn't heard a
      thing except the voices.

      Jared had made it to the top of the stairs without being seen or
      stepped on… counting that as a small victory he found another little
      cabinet to hide under.
      ---

      "My ever youthful Childe… I do believe that you look younger every
      time I see you." The Count of Saint Germaine bowed to Dracula who was
      sitting on his throne stroking the chin of a Cuban Vampiress. Her
      long Black hair flowed over her shoulders…St. Germaine was of medium
      height and elegant manners; his features are regular; his complexion
      brown; his hair black; his face mobile and full of genius. The Count
      dressed simply but with taste. His only luxury consists of a large
      number of diamonds, with which he is fairly covered; he wears them on
      every finger, and they are set in his snuffboxes and his watches.

      "My thanks Lord Dracula… What would you have this humble alchemist
      do?"

      "Saint Germaine, I need you to perform a favor for Lord Othello…
      concerning a Childe of another Vampire Lord." Dracula said as he
      played with Vampiress.

      "A test or elimination Lord Dracula..."

      "This Childe is poking his nose in things that do not concern him…
      Lord Othello wants him misled."

      "And what would you prefer, Lord Dracula?"

      "Test him… see how powerful and skillful this Childe of the Master's
      is… Eliminate him if you want… but be discreet about it." Dracula
      threw the file with what was known about St. Germaine's target to
      him. "Now be gone, I have other matters that require my… personal
      attention." Dracula continued, dismissing his Childe as if he were
      nothing.

      "As you wish, Lord Dracula."
      ---

      Jared's patience paid off; a ghul crossed his path on its way to the
      upstairs restroom. Jared shifted into Mist form, swirling and
      spinning around the ghul. Materializing his arm long enough to push
      the ghul down the stairs and break the ghul's neck. At the bottom of
      the stairs Jared shifted back into a rat and scurried under the
      liquor cabinet again. One out of seven bodyguards was dead, and he
      still had to deal with this Mysterious Master Thomas as well as Wayne
      Carnegie.

      Things went quickly from there, with everyone on edge the other six
      ghuls were easy pickings… shifting from Rat form to Mist form
      multiple times to move quickly through the lair Jared made quick work
      of the Vampiric blood enhanced body guards.

      The Truth was Jared was enjoying the conflict… fighting for a cause.
      It had been a long time since he had fought in such a manner. He was
      feeling challenged again… for the first time since the war.

      With the last of the bodyguards dead, Jared shifted into human form…
      surprising the teenage servant girl as he emerged from the mist.

      "Where is Wayne Carnegie?"

      "He's gone I think… Master Thomas is here now."

      "That's impossible… I have watched the comings and goings of this
      place and Wayne Carnegie has not left."

      "I didn't say that he left… I said he's gone."

      "I'll find him myself then… Sleep little girl sleep." Jared said to
      the girl before fell into a hypnotic slumber. He walked up the stairs
      to Master Thomas' chamber.

      "Welcome… I am Thomas Can I help you?" The imposing figure said as
      Jared took a step back.

      "You're Wayne Carnegie… the Vampire I have come to punish."

      "You have that wrong… I'm Thomas and Vampires are a piece of fiction
      my friend."

      "No they aren't and you can't pretend you aren't Wayne Carnegie
      because there is a portrait of him next to stairs there."

      "You are right in that… Wayne and I do share this body but that
      doesn't change that Vampires are a just folklore and superstition."

      Just then the large older servant woman came running into the room
      positioning herself between Jared and Thomas. When Jared stood up he
      looked at his quarry again this time the heartbeat had changed…

      "Please Kill me I can not live like this anymore… Thomas has almost
      taken over my whole being kill me Please." Jared didn't even think
      twice he drew the stake from his coat and thrust it into the
      vampire's chest destroying it.

      The older servant woman looked at Jared, her head down.

      "We have waited for this day for many years we could not act against
      Thomas because we loved Master Wayne so… but could do nothing to
      separate the two."

      "How did Thomas come to share a body with him anyway?"

      She told Jared to sit down and listen… and for almost an hour Jared
      listened to the most fantastic tale he had ever heard… Thomas was one
      of Wayne's first kills, but Thomas was infected with another
      supernatural creature… a parasite and when Wayne had absorbed Thomas'
      life force along with the blood, he had absorbed the parasite as
      well. Over time Thomas grew in strength collapsing Wayne's control
      manifesting more and more often. Wayne had created the ghuls to
      protect himself from Thomas instead they turned on their creator and
      started to serve Thomas.

      "How long has he been afflicted like this?"

      "Thirty five years… as long as I've been with him. He didn't kill
      that often before that. Something in Thomas drove him to kill him and
      then the killings became more and more frequent. Thomas was a
      bloodthirsty bastard more so than Master Wayne ever was."

      "There is one last thing that I must do before leaving here…" Jared
      took the body of Wayne Carnegie and placed it in one of his cars… and
      dropped a grenade in the lap of the impaled body. When the grenade
      went up the body burned… destroying the creature that possessed Wayne
      Carnegie and Wayne Carnegie as well.

      "May you find Peace now Carnegie…"
      ---

      The Count of St. Germaine read the file as the private airplane flew
      from Cuba to Dracula's Mexican estate. There would be a layover until
      dusk and he'd fly from the Mexican estate to Los Angeles the next
      night.

      "This Jared Ravené is quite an individual…Clever, determined and
      ruthless. He was fluent in three languages; French, English, and
      Gypsy; before he joined the army during the war. Capable hand to hand
      combatant and Marksman…" St. Germaine said to himself as paced within
      the airplane.

      "This will make for quite an experiment… but first I'll need to
      gather the proper apparatus, chart his abilities, and solve the
      equations for his destruction."

      "Count St. Germaine, we are approaching Lord Dracula's Estate." The
      female voice shouted back to alchemist.

      "Of course, thank you I will prepare for the coming dawn thank you
      Jacqui."

      "Would you like to fly directly to Los Angeles or wait at the estate?"

      "After refueling fly directly to Los Angeles, Jacqui but take your
      time."

      "Yes Count."

      The Count St. Germaine motioned to his other assistants to seal his
      coffin after lying down for the day. Night would come for him soon
      enough and then the experiment would begin.
      ---

      Numbers 9 through 5 on the Regent's list were predators who fed on
      the infirm and poor of the area killing without regard to the secrecy
      of the Vampire Society. Creating Childes without knowledge or consent
      of either the Regent or her Council. Number 9 had the smallest number
      in his `clan'.

      There were twenty-seven members in this clan; it was headed by a two
      hundred year Old French aristocratic borne Vampire. Emil La Salle had
      been a member of the Council early on during the previous century.
      Then dropped out of sight for several decades. In Nineteen Hundred he
      challenged the Regent for her title in a trial by combat, and was
      humiliated.

      La Salle couldn't be banished because his influence was too great at
      the time. The Regent stripped him of his Councilor status and
      sentenced him with the task of maintaining control over a poor region
      of town. Which he did with no complaints, on the record, however La
      Salle had been using the region to raise an Army to which to destroy
      the Regent with.

      It was hard for Jared to observe La Salle without being noticed.
      Every time that Jared entered La Salle's territory he found his
      presence was noticed. La Salle had quite a network built up over the
      last thirty-seven years. He had ghuls, Vampires, and mortals working
      for him.

      Even as a mist Jared found himself hard pressed to enter the
      territory without being noticed. His Rat form was noticed as well but
      drew less attention. Jared didn't even try to use his wolf form, as
      that would be even more noticed.

      Fighting the ghuls and the mortals would only weaken the vampire that
      would take on the task…besides he didn't know how many ghuls or
      vampires were in the area. There were twenty-seven members thought to
      belong to La Salle's Clan but Jared wondered how many there were in
      actuality.
      ---

      Upon his arrival in the Los Angeles Basin, The Count of St. Germaine
      was transported to his manor there. Awaking in the wine cellar, as
      per standing orders for if the plane was forced to land prematurely,
      he opened the coffin and arose.

      Pulling the bell rope against the wall, the count's greatest
      alchemical creation soon arrived… the Blood golem that he had named
      Jacqui.

      "Jacqui, I would like you to go to my sources and find everything you
      can about a Mister Jared Michel Ravené. I want a full work-up as fast
      as possible. I have some facts about him already but they are not
      enough to formulate a plan of action. He may or may not have had
      contact with the Regent already."

      "Yes, my lord… My lord may I refresh myself with one of your thralls?"

      "Yes my pet… you are looking paler than I am… you would hardly pass
      for a human with that color and I can't have the Regent accusing me
      of making a Childe when I am about to hit her up for a favor."

      Jacqui walked over to the pen where the Count's thralls, people he
      had hypnotized at one point into coming with him to his manor and
      were the primary source of the count's nourishment, were kept. Most
      were devoid of will long ago from the Count's manipulations, those
      that had the will to move ended up walking around in a state of
      confusion.

      Jacqui unlocked the pen and entered, her presence was scarcely
      noticed. Even as her arms transformed into large masses of dried
      sinew and muscle, and her fingers became dagger sharp blades.

      "Come here darling…" Jacqui purred softly as she cornered nondescript
      brown haired overweight woman and plunged her ten dagger sharp blades
      into the gut of the woman. Blood coursed through the sinew and muscle
      as the woman was drained. Jacqui was in the throes of appetite as the
      brown haired woman was drained of all bodily fluids leaving a
      skeletal husk.

      She looked hungrily at her master but a sharp look from the count
      caused her to revert to her more human looking form. Jacqui left the
      pen, locking it and as she did so one of the thralls walked over to
      drained woman and started to gnaw at what was left.

      "Master I apologize for what went through me… the hunger is getting
      worse."

      "I know my Pet… and one day I will have to fix you so that never
      happens again… but having thoughts like that is normal for you… when
      you act on them and are unable to control yourself we will be forced
      to see which of us is the superior." The count said in a tone of half
      excitement and half dread.

      "Police Captain Daniels is upstairs waiting for you to arrive."

      "I really must do something about his annoying habit of turning up
      before my experiments. Did you find out what he's here for?"

      "He wants to ask you about the recent death of our good neighbor
      Wayne Carnegie."

      "How interesting… he was my first vampire test subject, you know. I
      wonder if Thomas survived Wayne's death."

      "I wouldn't know Master… Will you see him?

      "Yes of course tell him I'll be right up."
      ---

      Police Captain Daniels had just left and the Count had milked him
      hypnotically for all of the details of Wayne Carnegie's Death. Jacqui
      had left to attend to her task leaving the Count talking to his cat.
      Stroking the white furred Persian while going over everything that he
      had just learned.

      "Incredible isn't it? For nearly thirty six years my parasite did its
      work on Wayne and upon my return I am told that Wayne was killed in a
      car accident on his own property. Just simply incredible. It causes
      one to think who could kill him. His money and influence protected
      him from both vampire and mortal law alike… unless it's a traveling
      freestaker."

      The cat just purred as its owner stroked it.

      "But why now? And who would be strong enough to challenge Thomas when
      he was so close to taking over his host and forming the chrysalis?"

      The cat meowed as if in response to the question posed it.

      "I agree Isis who ever did this is not your normal vampire or vampire
      hunter."

      The cat purred some more as the count's fingers scratched under its
      chin.
      ---

      Jacqui did as she was told… her informants were willing to share for
      small fee. Jared Ravené owned the Paradise Lost Club, having taken it
      over from the previous owner. He didn't even change the name. It was
      a macabre name for a popular club but it fit a Vampire owner. From
      what she heard when he was working on a project he spent very little
      time in the Club itself. Just an hour or so each night to make sure
      everything was going all right, and possibly feed, then leave the
      club in the manager's hands. The Clientele was mostly low level
      vampires, a few celebrities and well to do socialites.

      Ravené was a quiet sort socially; comfortable sitting back and
      letting everyone have a good time. He was good company, and was
      credited as educated and knowledgeable on several subjects… his
      favorites were philosophy, cars and motorcycles, and cooking. He was
      worldly and fluent and literate in several languages…though he was
      known to speak Italian poorly as well as Latin. He had spent several
      years in the Mediterranean and Northern Africa after the War.

      He returned to the United States about nine years ago, as the Childe
      of Master. They came through New York, and moved slowly across the
      country to Master's favorite training areas, ending up here in the
      Los Angeles Basin.

      Ravené could take care of himself in a fight as well. His reputation
      as a mercenary was quite intriguing. He obviously had no problem with
      killing, as his impressive war record had shown, but after the war
      rarely took jobs where he'd be forced to kill. He had taken several
      assassination jobs but didn't kill anyone else but the target and
      only then after he checked out the situation…he had certain standards
      that the job had to meet before he would accept it.

      The more Jacqui investigated Ravené the more that she wanted to know
      about him. The Regent, she found out, left her court to meet with
      Ravené. It wasn't said what they talked about but news was going
      around that Ravené had said that he would be a Freestaker.

      Ravené was well suited to that role. He wasn't easily scared or
      intimidated, as his war and mercenary records shown, nor was he the
      type to be impressed by celebrity, wealth, or fame. His maker had
      taken nearly nine years to train him in the use of his vampiric
      abilities so it was highly likely that he was more skilled then most
      vampires in the area. He had professional weapon and hand to hand
      training as well.

      Thinking about it more, Ravené could be a match for most Regents. Not
      many vampires outside the Vampire Lords were as formidable. It was a
      good thing for Jacqui that she wasn't a vampire.
      ---

      "Talk to me, Jacqui" Count St. Germaine answered the telephone.

      "So Ravené was behind Carnegie's death… and is working on other
      members of the Los Angeles Basin's top ten?" he asked the telephone.

      "How much more have you found out about him?" he asked and Jacqui
      responded.

      "That's not a lot to work from. But it's more than we had before.
      I'll start the initial calculations…Let me know when you have more
      information." The count hung up and started drawing up an alchemist
      circle. When the Circle was drawn he started to fill in the blanks
      with what was currently known about his target.

      "So far you seem to be quite to be quite the hero, Mister Ravené…and
      I plan to put an end to your meddling ways. But doing so may be the
      greatest challenge I've had in the last century."
      ---
      Jacqui watched Jared intently… as her quarry kept trying to enter
      the territory of La Salle unnoticed. He had been trying this for
      several nights, switching forms between the most unnoticeable forms
      he had and not getting far enough to into the territory for him to
      want to keep moving.

      This Jared Ravené was a perfectionist it seemed. Not a bad quality
      when it came to being a freestaker. She was surprised one night when
      he just stood on the edge of the territory in human form… he seemed
      to be waiting for something.

      Several cars driving fast entered the area. Jacqui recognized the
      leader as he got out of the lead car. It was Quentin Van Helsing…
      When she looked to see where Ravené was, he had disappeared. Van
      Helsing and his crew, was greeted by several ghuls and lesser
      Vampires. The street had become a bloody battlefield between the Van
      Helsing Crew and the ghuls and vampires. Ravené was still no where to
      be seen.

      Jacqui avoided the battle area by leaping from rooftop to rooftop,
      looking for signs of Ravené. He was clever and determined to use the
      distraction of known Vampire hunters invading a vampire-infested area
      to cover his advance. But where was he?

      She spent the whole night looking for her quarry… canvassing the
      territory several different ways. It wasn't until morning when she
      heard sirens of police cars tearing through the early morning that
      she had found the trail of her quarry… Ravené had made it to La Salle
      and had staked him to a wall facing the morning sun. His body burned
      to crisp with no sign of when Ravené had left.
      ---

      Jacqui's evening report to her master surprised the Count in many
      ways.

      "La Salle was one of the more formidable combatants in the Basin… and
      Ravené appears to have taken him out in such a humiliating fashion?
      After losing both you and occupying La Salle's followers?"

      "Yes, Master… Jared Ravené seems to be very difficult to trail when
      he doesn't want to be noticed."

      "Numbers Ten and Nine on the Regent's most wanted list, killed
      without hardly any resistance or problem. I am finding myself
      intrigued by this Jared Ravené. Who is number Eight on the list?"

      "Your friend the Mandarin…"

      "Really? There may be some entertainment for us yet tonight."

      "Master?"

      "If Ravené takes out the Mandarin he is truly a force to be
      recognized and taken into consideration… In any case if we arrive
      early enough we may be able to see a good show."

      "Master, It is logical to assume that he will observe the Mandarin
      before moving in for the kill isn't it?"

      "That is what I would do if I were him… to at least get a feel for
      the target."

      "So how long do you think the Mandarin has before our quarry moves in
      him?"

      "A week at the most…I'd say closer to four days I'm guessing." The
      Count responded and moved to the hall closet. Taking out a cloak,
      signaling that he was going out for the night.

      "May I ask where you are going Master, in Case of emergency?" Jacqui
      asked.
      "To the Paradise Lost Club… I want to get a feel for my quarry."
      ---

      The Paradise Lost club was just starting to swing when the Count and
      Jacqui arrived. The large number of the patrons was humans, dressed
      in the latest fashions. Celebrities and the special patrons were
      allowed access to the private veranda above the main floor. Its theme
      was similar to something that you'd find in Madagascar or Northern
      Africa.

      There was something unusual in the construction of the pillars
      holding the veranda up. That the Count had noticed on his way to the
      access. There were crystals of a very unusual type…life energy
      batteries. If Ravené had put them there himself he was more prudent a
      vampire than St. Germaine had given him credit for. But if Ravené
      didn't know about them… then he may have a weapon against the younger
      Vampire.

      The Vampires who attended the club were far younger than the count.
      At least a century or so at the most. The Oldest one that the count
      saw in the Club was dressed like he belonged in a western. It was an
      gambler that the Count had known before Los Angeles became known for
      movies.

      Jared Ravené was seated near the bandstand, overlooking the dance
      floor. He didn't look as impressive as his file or the stories made
      him sound… He was quite unremarkable appearing. He seemed to be
      drinking in the life force from below, while looking over some papers
      on the table in front of him.

      Ravené was like looking at a younger version of himself… a clever
      determined, ruthless and well-educated young man turned into a
      vampire. The Count had been high-borne lord and a scholar; Ravené was
      a low borne gypsy and soldier. St. Germaine could see that his quarry
      was still figuring out the rules of the game that Vampires played
      with humans… Ravené had no concept of the game how could he have… It
      was beyond the knowledge of one borne of gypsy… let alone a commoner.
      And that is what Americans were…commoners.

      Ravené was leaving, after handing the files to the manager; he got up
      and left. He moved with a grace that St. Germaine rarely saw in
      Americans. St. Germaine didn't exactly know where the Mandarin was at
      but he'd bet that Ravené had an idea.

      "Jacqui, follow him and make sure that you get every detail of his
      actions in your report. I will return to my manor."
      ---

      The Next few months had as many things happening in the news as what
      wasn't being reported. In April the Golden Gate Bridge was completed
      and was open to pedestrians in March. In July Aviator Amelia Earhart
      disappeared in her flight across the Atlantic. Jared Ravené had
      gained quite a reputation, and a substantial fortune from the
      rewards, as a Freestaker in the Vampire community as his elimination
      of the top ten offenders in the Los Angeles Basin was causing quite a
      panic.

      He was currently working on Number five. One of the Older Vampires in
      the area. The Regent didn't give explanations for why the Top five
      were wanted… just that they were wanted. When he moved from number
      six to number five the difficulty had gone up quite a bit. Numbers
      five through one knew that he was coming and had started taking
      precautions.
      ---

      The Regent shifted forms to her natural form… which was surprisingly
      that of Lord Othello. Then returned to his secret lair via a portal.
      In the lair's waiting room was a short man with a bad comb over and a
      Charlie Chaplin type moustache.

      "Ahhh Herr Hitler, it has been a long time… I trust that Seer has
      been taking good care of you."
      ---

      "The Formulae is nearly complete, Master." Jacqui said looking at the
      Alchemist circle and all the notes and mathematics

      "Yes it is my pet all of your observations have been invaluable to me
      the last few weeks. And now that they are near complete we shall test
      our work."

      "Are you going to take your weapons, Master"

      "It would be a wise precaution… but I don't want you to interfere I
      want to test him myself… I have the feeling that we haven't seen
      everything about him yet."

      "You have never been this cautious with any of your other
      experiments."

      "Too true, but Ravené is a Childe of a vampire lord and the others
      were not. He and I are linked by that, I feel."

      "Are you going to prepare the rites?"

      "Not just yet… I want a good reading on his abilities and I don't
      believe that I will get that if I call on the various spirits to aid
      me."

      "Shall I drive you to the Paradise Lost?"

      "No I think I'll fly tonight…"

      "As you wish…"
      ---

      There was more to the equation then what the Count had on the board.
      St. Germaine had noticed a change in Jacqui since she began watching
      Ravené… Something about him calmed her; the more time she had spent
      in surveillance of him the more her form began to evolve. It was
      always a possibility from the moment that she was created that she'd
      evolve into a more stable form… but there was that unknown factor
      that had always been missing which would allow her to do so. Ravené
      had that factor in strong enough quantities to affect her from afar.

      His Leathery wings beat in the night breeze as his mind went over the
      formulae, mystical factors and mundane factors. Chirping to other
      bats as he flew finding out the locations of the local predators and
      types. The echolocation of the buildings allowed him to land
      unnoticed in the alley beside the Paradise Lost Club.

      It had been nearly two months since the Count was in this place
      before… It would be a shame to trash such a nice building with a
      fight but sacrifices were going to be needed for the formulae to be
      complete. Deaths would be required for the Hero in Ravené to kick in
      and force the confrontation.

      St. Germaine slowly made his way up to the private Veranda. The
      bouncer grunted at him as if challenging St. Germaine to prove his
      worthiness.

      "DIE, Cur." St. Germaine said and the bouncer clasped his chest as he
      felt his heart beat faster and faster… before it exploded causing
      blood to exit the nose and mouth slowly.

      "I've been wondering when I'd have to face you… Your servant,
      whatever she is, has been following me for quite awhile." Jared said
      standing at the top of the Stairs.
      "That was her job… And she is usually very good about not being
      noticed." The Count Replied.

      "What do you want with me?"

      "I'll start with seeing how you defeated so many Vampires so much
      older than you. Vampires that a Childe of your age should have been
      slaughtered by."

      "Is that all?" Jared responded as he lead the elder vampire to a
      stairwell that led to the roof.

      "That is what I'll start with."

      "May I have the honor of knowing who I am answering to?"

      "I am the Count St. Germaine."

      "That's hardly a name…"

      "It has served me well for over two hundred years. And it was good
      enough for the Royalty of Europe for that time. It will be good
      enough for a half gypsy commoner."

      Jared raised his eyebrow, questioning the last statement."

      "Why are you really here?"

      "Lord Dracula wants me to test your worthiness."

      "The youngest of the Vampire Lords is interested in me… I'm touched."

      "You either have a very strong mental shield about you or very
      powerful artifact protecting you." St. Germaine

      "Is that what you were trying to do with that stare? Mind control?"
      Jared laughed.

      "A telepathic probe no more…"

      "Right and I'm the next King of England."

      "Your bloodline is too tainted to be of royalty."

      "Like I'd want the job anyway…"

      "You are insolent for a commoner."

      "I'm an American what do you expect me to serve you hand and foot?"

      "You will learn to treat your betters with respect."

      "I'll do so when I find them."
      ---

      "And So it truly begins… Lord Dracula's most powerful protégé has
      found a worthy adversary to challenge him." Master said to himself as
      he watched the two younger vampires engage in combat for the first
      time.

      "Our world needs the both of you… Jared Michel Ravené and Count St.
      Germaine you are equally matched and will remain so I see for the
      majority of your existences. Honor is more than passing game or
      alchemical formula. But until you find that you are stronger together
      than apart… but until that comes to pass and you become the friends
      that you are destined to be…neither of you will be able to destroy
      the other.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.