London by Night

Quiet Reflection

Today was weird. Totally weird. I don’t know what to think. Though, applauded in the media for my “quick thinking” was a help. If I’m honest, I had no idea that Michaela had it in her. Freud was right, I guess. Repression and all that. I thought she was a decent SFO. She knew her stuff. Hell, she was even on my side when we confronted Kieran. She went against all protocols. Every. Single. One. What is it with these young SFO’s being trigger happy. Calm down.

There was another precarious position that I was involved in. Had to go to Mr. Plythe’s house. This guy is in no way what he claims to be. I don’t know if I can go through with it though. Growing up, my religion didn’t mean much to me, but now as an adult, it means the world. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this. Hopefully it’ll play out, in my favour.

Also, watched Kill Bill. Yes, The Whole Bloody Affair, if you want to know. One of Quentin Tarantino’s finer works. A masterpiece. The movie is definitely in my Top 10.

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Newspaper Report #3 - POLICE BRUTALITY IN MAIDENHEAD
Published 18th February 2014

Police Brutality in Maidenhead
Police say there were reports of a rogue officer
Written by Maya Pirillet

A hostage rescue went horribly wrong in Maidenhead, Berkshire last night. Police from the Thames Valley Police Service and armed officers drafted in from the Metropolitan Police sought to talk Roland Bridges, 21, out of harming Elizabeth Michaels, 28, with the weapons in his possession.

Mr. Bridges had no prior convictions and was known as being “a sweet, charming man who aspired to be an actor” said his friends. He had recently failed to be cast in a top West End show but friends told us that he was elated about an upcoming job the evening before the showdown. “He had been approached about a hyper-realistic drama being filmed for TV,” explained Terri Porter, a close friend of Mr. Bridges, “he wouldn’t stop talking about the role. He was so excited.”

Ms. Michaels was unknown to Mr. Bridges, according to preliminary police reports. “It is unclear as to what his motives were,” explained DC Bridget Lyle of the Thames Valley Police, “We are naturally in the very early stages of our investigation, so all avenues are currently being explored.”

In the situation that followed, there were reports of Specialist Firearms Officer (SFO) Kieran Yates of the Metropolitan Police mistakenly shooting Ms. Michaels prior to attacking Mr. Bridges. Police are unwilling to confirm or deny this at this time, but admit there were reports of a “rogue officer” on the scene. Both Mr. Bridges and Ms. Michaels died in the confrontation.

According to eyewitnesses, as SFO Yates exited the building, two gunshots were fired from the window of the scene. One – apparently fired by SFO Hussani Azim, also of the Metropolitan Police – incapacitated SFO Yates, while the other killed him instantly. SFO Michaela Sykes, currently in police custody, openly admitted firing the killing shot.

“I did what I did because I had to.” She told our reporter as she visited her cell. “He killed two people in cold blood. Neither of them would have died if he had not been on the scene. I couldn’t, in good conscience, allow him to get away with his actions.” When asked if she stood by her decision to shoot she replied firmly: “Yes. One hundred percent yes. If I was put in the same situation again, I would do the same thing. And I hope that if I were to commit such coldblooded crimes, someone would be brave enough to do the same to me.”

Mr. Bridges’ and Mr. Yates’ families have been informed of their deaths. Ms. Sykes is currently awaiting trial for one count of murder. SFO Azim, who arrested Ms. Sykes, has been applauded for his quick thinking and ability to stay calm under immense pressure.

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Twelve Nights of Grime (Night #2)
Sort-of -not-quite Spring Czaka Canon!

[TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, Trauma/Torment, Sexual references/ minor hints to prostitution]

Song List (I apologise in advance if my music taste is all over the place!)
FOALS – Stepson; My Number
JOHN GRANT – Pale Green Ghosts
BEETHOVEN – Moonlight Sonata
LOS CAMPESINOS – You! Me! Dancing!
SUPERGRASS – Moving
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – This is the Place
BAT FOR LASHES – Tahiti
RADIOHEAD – Idioteque

~LAST TIME ON TWELVE NIGHTS OF GRIME: After an eventful (but for Czaka uneventful) night as the Rusted Tractor Pub, Czaka gets a late-night call from Milosz and panics…

**

11th October 2010 – Czaka’s Bedroom

So Hart was dead.
Czaka let her eyes drift slowly from ceiling corner to ceiling corner. The mattress slowly ate her hands, enveloped her arms, knitted her hair into the stitching. She felt the ability to stand up vanish as the time she had lain on the bed stretched out infinitely. Apparently Milosz had only found out at midnight, as if the striking of their stolen Grandfather clock in Krakow had commanded the night to grow hairy, dark, snarling. She was ashamed to think she had almost forgotten about Hart completely. She was even more ashamed to predict that he would vanish from her mind again, just as quickly, but not from ignorance – for survival. He marked a strange period in her life, or should she put it, the beginning of the strange periods which ensued for her. No doubt this wouldn’t end any time soon for her.
She had made her excuses and left the Rusted Tractor in haste. Her own clock struck midnight as she had closed the door behind her, cruel fate. Since then history had blurred into the present, letting her relive the moments she never felt she had lived in the first place.
Hart was an enigma. He was an orphan who, when he spoke, almost sounded like he had wanted it. When he was a toddler his mother had tried to make it across the Iron Curtain to give him a better life, and when she hadn’t made it back for them his father had thrown himself under a train and left Hart to fend for himself. He became a Talisman for travellers trying to survive the chill of paranoid Europe. Shop owners, factory workers, soldiers and spies alike had all taken him under their wing, softened by his rough visage and desperate desire to fit in with anyone who would take him, until they passed from him and he wandered the streets again, desperate to find the next person to pick him up. Sometimes he was exchanged by his owners as a gesture of gratitude, so prized he was by those lonely and wanting to appear gracious and normal. Other times he adopted himself into families, and his many anonymised stories of his former adopters kept them enraptured for hours. He could never remember how he had survived his earlier years: he told everyone he met that he was born at ten years old. That was enough of a hook for most sympathetic onlookers to take him.
Eventually the cycle of abandonment and death took its toll. The desperation to fit in became a scheming; a desire to take advantage of what people had to offer him. Daughters and Sons of his families all warmed to him, the security of a brother with the compassion of a friend. Some gave him money; some took him to bed; others divulged great secrets. His likeable demeanour meant he stopped looking. He waited for those he needed to come to him. The best moles came to him, asking him what he knew, who he had seen, what favours they could do for him in order to get the best knowledge. Keepsakes he had promised to cherish forever turned into vital evidence exchanged for cold hard cash. He knew he was parasitic, a condition of his upbringing and the state of the nation he lived in. But he also knew he was more than that.
Czaka remembered the blow to his head when he had first met her and Milosz. Hart had expected them to be more gullible, she reckoned. He had trying selling wares, selling himself, with his grins and flashes of weak eyes, falling on deaf ears. Milosz had told him, with the cheek of professionalism, that he could find finer blokes deeper in the web if he had a real craving. After the initial confrontation Czaka had been aware of just how much they must’ve seemed like idols to him. They were master larcenists with a foundation of love and loving lies. They were what Hart wanted to be split into two. Yet, he admitted later, he saw the innocent desperation he missed in the compassion they sustained while knowing they could each be dead the next moment. Their first encounter had consisted of dancing in the alleyways behind theatres, mocking the conscripted propaganda music which played while writhing in the style of the punks and sensuous disco dominators. When he returned to them after the fall of the Wall…
It shocked them. It shocked even him – it was a breach of his own rhetoric. Always moving forward, never looking back. If you’re not running, you’re standing still, and if you’re standing still you’ll catch a cold – that’s what he had said to them. He had respected Czaka when she had fled to London to make a living, promising he would be a son to Milosz until they could all join together again with Milosz’ safety. Of course there were only so many months Hart could keep breaking his rhetoric. When he left Czaka and Milosz accepted that he would most likely not return.
But she had never expected him to have died. Hart seemed invincible in her eyes. Actually, considering the call… he may well still be alive. But he had always seemed too proud to confess danger. He had coped with all the pain by treating it like using his lungs; something so vital that his living that he could ignore.
Milosz had read out a letter Hart had sent him, which began by saying he would most likely be dead within the next few hours but wanted to tell the two people he cared most about where he had been. He had become an artist, as far as a lad screeching over a rusty scrapheap guitar and beat machine could ever be. He had retold his tales in regal fashion on stage and revealed his insecurities to those who came to him when he stepped off. He had fans singing onstage because he sang out of tune anyway. He created a small gang on his façade and counted down the days until someone didn’t like what he did. Apparently he had found that day.
One particular crowd, one smoke-filled bar on this night, didn’t like old establishment bashing. These weren’t communists: heck, he barely even mentioned commies because technically they were responsible for his existence but he knew telling people how much he appreciated that would put a blade to his throat. But they were high up enough in their thrones to despise him. But one of them, a strange, thin gent, had kept his eye on him the entire time. Even his fans didn’t do that – his worn physique meant scars and bruises which eventually hurt any eye to look at. But this eye wasn’t shaken off by this at all – if anything, he had a look which said he had seen even more than Hart had. Deeper, too. His eyes were much deeper. Hart knew to keep his gaze away from those pupils, they could get too easily lost in them. The man was cavernous, and when he walked up to him afterwards, it was a given that he wasn’t interested in the music. With a whip of the tongue and a stab of confidence he told Hart that he was disgusted at how human he was. With what he was saying, then how could he possibly still have a soft spot for those around him? He had been betrayed and betrayer, and yet he could walk around with a smile on his face. How fake.
Hart had left as soon as he could, but this cavern had kept following him, down to the darkest depths of Hart’s digs. There was something about how the creep moved, reminded Hart of the dances he, Czaka and Milosz had in the streets, but with much more age to it. This man seemed too sharp for being too old. So old… too old. Hart never wanted to hurt anyone, despite everything; he knew though what preparing for peace was. As he took his stolen antique dagger (he hoped most people would be too fascinated by it to fight him) the old man began to announce strange prophecy, how he too was the ashes of beauty. He had slashed the man across the wrist, ducked and weaved, had gotten away. The moment he had cut the man he knew he had made a horrible mistake. Now images of the things he had tried to block out of his head now came flooding in, things from his childhood he thought he couldn’t remember. He had written to Milosz, Hart said, knowing that the shadow of that man was around every corner, and that the carefree view on the world Hart had before was now swamped with the night. It was a sensation he knew could only come with the end. The man had regaled of how people like Hart were slaves, no matter who they were, they were always slaves to him. He wished he could have danced with Milosz and Czaka one more time, but his head told him he wouldn’t.
Staring up at the ceiling, Czaka recounted the scrambled account Hart had given them. It seemed impossible to her that Hart would die… and yet! The effect was already taking hold in her head. He imagined his dirtied body and the death, the dirty body and the death, the dirt and death… over and over, the glory-shining grime of that wonderful little boy and how he ran in fear worked into her mind. She could only imagine now what would happen if that strange person came looking for her and Milosz, how he would look for the dirt that touched Hart’s skin; how all the secrets could flake off him and into the man’s hands. It hadn’t taken long for her to decide that dirt meant death; that any amount of grime on her hands would send the man towards them. He would know of the two of them if Hart was questioned, she knew that much. Shit, maybe the man already knew of them if he was so desperate to track Hart down. Hart’s darkness had soaked her, the mattress sweaty, Milosz’ voice sweaty from the other end of the phone. She had reassured him into being patient; she would have enough money soon to get him over here, somehow, no matter what it took. But she shook with fear… and something else. The need for him to come back and reveal himself. She would have to be a beacon, somehow keeping under the radar in the process. She hadn’t forged in a while… she’d have to change that…
She rolled over and tried to dream of dancing.

**Hound Czaka Snedgo

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Character Song List?

Comment with the song/playlist of songs you think fit your character the most :)

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Helena's Contemplation
A ghoul contemplates her future

[Songs: Without You, Just The Way You Are, Beethoven’s Five Secrets, Arwen’s Vigil, Begin Again – The Piano Guys]

Lying here, with this poor, abused, tortured young woman, and her not-quite-knight-in-shining-armour defender of a father could not be a further cry from where I have been with the vampires I’ve previously met in my short life. It’s sweet, in an odd, warped way; that a man cursed to roam the world for an eternity of nights should still be so wonderfully heroic and…human. It makes you wonder how such perfect humanity could ever be lost…and yet, in the nights I’ve spent socialising and working with such people…it seems to disappear so quickly and so easily.

When I was young, like many children do, we dreamt stories and scenarios up using whatever we had to hand, and vampires and zombies and witches were common ones – after all, what else do you dress up as for Hallowe’en? It’s strange to look back at those days, where vampires wore black and holy water and crosses could hurt them…it’s odd to see the line where misconception and fact blur. I suppose that’s the point of the Masquerade; to not outright deny the existence of vampires, but to make people question the validity of the facts they find, and give reason for doubt where there truly is none…

I know I shouldn’t, but I wish that times like this were more common. I wish that I could stay like this for the rest of my life. I know if my domitor knew where I was he’d be demanding boons for my time and recompense for whatever damage he considers me to have done to our, sorry, his, reputation. I dread returning. I know, for my insolence in leaving him without warning during the court, attending a patient of another clan (and most likely covenant) without his consent or payment, and playing a role in the coup that took out four high-ranking members of the Invictus, I will not escape punishment. For so many different disobediences I have a good idea of what I will face, and it is something I have tried to avoid ever since the early days of my ghouling. I doubt I will be allowed to attend another court, let alone see Merris and Lucy again.

I…didn’t expect such a thought to hurt so much.

I don’t know why this man and young woman have struck me as they have. I don’t know why I feel a want…no…a need to protect them both. He tries to make out he needs no-one and can manage on his own, but it’s clear he struggles when Lucy is injured or hurting. Lucy is such a strong young woman but she has no authority and she needs someone to watch out for her. I want to be there for them both; I want to fight with them, stand by them, laugh with them, cry with them. I want to be part of this coterie of kindness; this family of protection and connectedness.

Merris cares so deeply for his daughter that he forgets his own frailties in his vociferous determination to keep her safe. He is a remarkable man, but he is not as indestructible as I think he wishes he was. He hates admitting his weaknesses and his personal trials he faces. I am glad he chose to open up to me, and to allow me in to his small universe that was once his alone, and now houses his daughter, and I have been privy to it. I don’t want to leave his arms. I don’t want to part from him tomorrow knowing I am unlikely to ever see him again. He will end up getting himself killed if he doesn’t have someone to hold his hand or rebuke him when he tries to do things wholly alone. I don’t want that on my conscience; I don’t want to know I could have saved him from his own hard-headedness if it were not for my domitor. He admits he has done awful things (some of which I’ve seen the results of) but – unlike so many other kindred – he does not seem to revel in the atrocities he has partaken in. He may be a kindred…but he is the most human man I have ever met.

And Lucy…oh, Lucy. For such a young woman to have been through such awful things she has held herself together and carried herself with far more poise and dignity than I have ever seen before. She adores her father, and seems to see him almost as a comfort blanket. And again, she is letting me into that world of hers. I don’t want to leave her. I don’t want to leave her at risk of being hurt again. Merris will protect her until his death, of that I am certain…but she – from what Merris has said – has already proven she would do just the same for him.

I don’t want to leave. Let this morning last forever. Let me lie here forever, next to the strongest young woman I have set my eyes on, and the most wonderfully human vampire I have ever met.

I don’t want to sleep. I want to capture every second of this moment, every nuance of this feeling.

Forget Clive, forget duty, forget obligation and reputation. None of that matters.

Not now.

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Torn Away
What happened to Lucy when she was dragged away?

[TRIGGER WARNINGS: MENTAL ABUSE/TORTURE
Songs: Arwen’s Vigil, Michael Meets Mozart, Can’t Help Falling in Love – The Piano Guys]

As the Hound and Sheriff bore down upon her, Lucy clung tightly to her father’s side. She had been warned that she was in danger while with him at this “Court” thing, but she had never thought this was going to be the sort of danger they were talking about. A strange woman, thin and waif-like, stood on stage, drawing everyone’s attention to the newspapers reporting the fire she had started and the finding of her mother’s body. She had tried to make herself small, but then she had been pointed out…and now things were going wrong. Very, very wrong.

The woman with half a face, who had once tried to be so nice to her, was bearing down more and more; her originally calm tones growing more and more dangerous with each passing moment. Lucy clung tighter, as her father tried to convince them to take him with her. Neither side seemed willing to back down, which Lucy was grateful for. Her father began to argue semantics and job roles and the discussion turned for a short time, before the woman on stage (a Prince?) got involved again.

She felt something sharp and painful in her head, pushing her to leave his side and she pushed whatever it was away forcefully.

She whimpered to her father. “They’re in my head. Dad, they’re in my head.”

Apparently changing tactic, she then felt something else, something fuzzier: softer, warmer take the place of the sharp sensation, telling her to go to the Prince’s side; that she wanted to go to the Prince.

Frightened, she tried to push it away once more, and as she finally managed to, she turned to her father and whimpered again “Please don’t let them take me. Please don’t let me go…”

Her father suddenly tensed, and Lucy saw the woman with half a face pulling a knife away from a bleeding cut in her arm. She heard her father telling the woman that she “didn’t need to do that” and found herself being pulled away by her. Lucy lashed out, both angry and frightened, hitting the woman across the face. In return, she was pushed forcefully, and landed on the cold wooden floor, her sore burns, only just beginning to heal, tearing open, and causing her to scream out in pain. As she was pulled upwards, once again by the woman with half a face, she caught a glimpse of her father, stood in the same position he had been in when she was pulled away, his eyes betraying a mix of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and betrayal.

They took her up to the stage, and then beyond, to a small back room; no windows, lights or anything, just darkness and a chair. The woman pushed her again, and Lucy found herself back on the floor, the dust and dirt attaching itself firmly to her wounds, and she screamed again. She was left on the floor as more voices echoed from outside, and forcing herself not to cry; steeling her determination, she shakily pushed herself from the floor and saw two women step into the room, the door snapping shut behind them.

“Get up, girl.” A voice from the darkness commanded, its owner hidden.

Setting her jaw, obstinately, she obeyed their command. Pushing herself up, she grimaced as she rose, standing, shakily, in front of whoever stood in front of her.

A bony, cold hand reached towards her face and gripped her jaw cruelly. She knew she was being scrutinised, but how and why exactly was a mystery. Her eyes glared in the general direction of the hand, searching for any trace of an outline she could use to focus her gaze.

“Hm.” The voice murmured, dismissively. “Petulant. Dismissive. Uncouth. Ugh.” It continued, disdainfully. “The Prince will be disappointed.”

The door opened gently, and the figure of another woman, bathed in half-light, entered. Lucy caught the shadows of the two women in front of her and set her gaze. The door snapped shut again, and the Prince’s voice echoed around the room.

“Come, Lucy, we are not your enemies.” She said softly and melodically, her voice containing an almost songlike beauty. “We are friends; allies. We just want to help.” She continued. “Sit, you’re safe here.” She added, the hint of a command in her voice. Lucy shifted uncomfortably and sat.

“I want my father.” She replied, her voice wavering but persistent. “Let me see him.” The Prince chuckled gently. “Such determination in such a small child.” She responded, running a finger down Lucy’s cheek. Lucy shuddered and shifted herself away. “How sweet. You can see your father in a while. I promise. And princes never break their promises.” She said, with some force. Lucy looked at her uncertainly. She didn’t want to believe this person, no matter what she said, but she seemed so honest, so…truthful.

“But before you can see him,” the Prince continued, “I need you to help us. There are lots of questions about what happened yesterday; and we need to fix the damage. But only you can help us, as you’re the only one who knows exactly what happened at home.” She said, measuredly.

“And then I can go back?” Lucy asked, unwilling to trust this woman, but knowing she had almost no choice.

“Of course!” Replied the Prince, warmly. “That’s all we need from you.”

Lucy paused for a second, trying to figure out what her father would do in this situation, but she was uncertain. Would he tell her to tell them everything and get it out of the way? Or would he tell her to stay quiet as these people were untrustworthy? Thinking hard, she decided he would probably tell her to just say everything she could so that no harm befell her.

“Okay.” She said, after a time. “Okay. You want to know what happened…so…” she took a deep breath, not really wanting to think too much on how she had killed her mother. “…so I’ll tell you.” She sat, small and insignificant compared to the three vampires stood above her. She told them everything she could remember: finding her father, speaking to him (she kept her feelings of elation and happiness to herself) and then how things changed when vampires were mentioned; how he wanted to meet up with her mum, and how he persisted. She told them of Misty, of how she didn’t bleed and it freaked her out, how they came to be stood at the house, and then the fight. She recounted as much of the fight as she could, how her father tried to keep things calm while her mother flew into a rage, how she wanted to protect him from her mum and so put herself in danger, how her father had snapped as she was hurt and the claws that grew. And how he turned into a bird and flew off…leaving her…leaving her…

She broke down at this point. She had kept herself contained and measured throughout her tale, but…she couldn’t…she just couldn’t bring herself to continue.

“It’s okay.” Said the Prince, cupping Lucy’s face gently with her hands. “It’s okay. Come now, what happened?”

Lucy felt an overwhelming urge to tell her everything, to explain exactly what happened. She smiled, her tear-stained face brightening as the Prince spoke…but something felt strange. This wasn’t right. Her mind rebelled and forced whatever strange tricks she was using away. Lucy stood up and threw the chair across the room.

“NO!” She shouted, backing away. “NO! You CAN’T MAKE ME tell you.” Like a wounded, captured animal, she hunched herself up, her back against the wall. She was primed to fight if she needed to.

“Sit” a voice in her head commanded. She felt herself slide down the wall into a sitting position. She panicked; what was happening?!

“Now, that was unnecessary, wasn’t it?” she heard the Prince say. The bony woman lead her back to the chair the third woman had picked back up. She found herself struggling to fight back. The third woman bound her to the chair with rope. “We want to help, but I need to know what happened, Lucy. And if you can’t tell us, then I need to find a way of unlocking your ability to do so. We are your friends.” She continued.

“Friends…wouldn’t…do…this…” Lucy said, fighting the fuzziness in her head as she spoke.

“They would if it made things better.” The Prince gently retorted. “Now. Tell me what happened.”

There was someone else in her head. There was someone else watching her thoughts. She could feel it, yet she was powerless to fight it. In her mind’s eye she saw flickers of memories pass; her first day of school, nervously stood at the gates with her mother, holding her hand. Being bullied for being from “un famille monoparental” in the school playground by her classmates. Strange men and women stood at the door having arguments with her mother…The stream of consciousness paused for a second.

“Interesting.” She heard in her head. “We shall return to this one…”

The memories continued to flicker; moving to England in the very early morning, her mother rushing her from their home in Concarneau to the port and over to Dover. Starting school in England and feeling lost and alone with no-one to talk to. More strange men and women. Searching on the internet for “Lucan” secretly, in her room, and phone calls…so many phone calls. Finding a person who knew a person who knew a person who knew someone who might be her father. Meeting a strange woman who let her into “her father’s” room. Her father…so many recent memories of her father. And then the Prince found the one she was looking for. The fight.

The memory played almost exactly as Lucy had said: Her mother spouting off about vampires hunting them down for eight years, about keeping Lucy safe, almost wanting a reason to start attacking. Her father trying to explain and talk but being caught off-guard. Lucy taking the hit for her father as she screamed for the two of them to stop. Her father’s resolve snapping as he launched himself at her mother and made two giant gashes across her face, arms and upper torso, and then flying away as a robin.

“Stop there…please…stop.” Whispered Lucy out loud.

The scene continued. As the bird flew out, Lucy looked at her mother’s bleeding, battered body, and her face set into the one the Prince and her cronies had seen only recently. She pulled herself from the floor, the burns weeping and bleeding, every step causing a sharp inhalation of breath and tears to come to her eyes. She walked into the kitchen, slowly, in agony.

“St…op…” She pleaded to the room, feeling her eyes well with tears. “Please…”

Lucy opened a drawer and grabbed a steel. With too much finesse for a girl of her age, she opened her flick knife and sharpened it. Her mother’s ragged breaths were loud and clear, and her heart panged as she prepared herself for her next action.

“Stop!” She cried, her voice filled with pain and desperation. “No more, please, no more!”

Stepping back into the living room with the knife behind her back, her eyes met her mother’s, and she fought the knot of guilt and dread building in her stomach. She forced herself to remember how her mother had begun the fight, how she had caused the whole, terrible scenario she had found herself in.

“Lu…cy…” Whispered her mother, her eyes pleading with her. “Get…help…”

Lucy gulped, her thumb running along the cold, metal handle of the knife. She knelt down next to her mother and hugged her.

Lucy began to sob, her heart breaking once more. “Please…” she feebly asked, her voice soulless; empty.

She released her mother and looked down on her.

“I am help, mum.” She replied quietly; sorrowfully.

She pulled the knife across her mother’s face with speed and force, the scalpel sharpness of the blade feeling like it was cutting through butter rather than flesh and muscle.

In what seemed like slow-motion, her mother’s body fell to the floor, motionless; her eyes unseeing, her mouth half-open in shock.

Lucy sat there, staring at nothing in particular, until the sirens in the distance jolted her back to reality. She took some of the flashbangs and placed them around the house – near curtains, sofas, anything that had fabric or paper that might catch light. Using toilet and kitchen paper, she made fuses attached to the items so that if the flashbang itself didn’t set the items on fire, the paper would at least catch and smoulder. As she returned to the living room, she hesitated, and then placed four around her mother’s body. She then started in the bedrooms upstairs and went, room by room, setting the house alight, hoping it would hinder the police’s investigation. Only when she was sure all were lit or had gone off, she left the house by the back door, locked it and went from garden to garden, waving her way through the back alleys, searching her father’s home out, not daring to look back as the sirens converged.

The stream of consciousness ended, and Lucy was shaking, as the three women stood around her, the Prince staring into her eyes, or maybe her soul through them.

“You’ve got what you wanted…now stop…please…stop…” said Lucy, devoid of emotion, her face blotchy and tear-streaked; her forehead covered in sweat.

“Not quite” replied the Prince without moving her lips, her voice still echoing in her head. “What about those people at your door?”

Up flashed her memories again, and Lucy gritted her teeth. Out came the snippets of memory she had. None lasted long as her mother always locked her away when the people came. But there were snippets of conversation she had overheard. “Daughter”, “beneficial”, “could be so much more” and “kindred spirits” were words that kept cropping up, until one meeting in Concarneau. “Renée est une femme compréhensive, elle ne vous empêche pas de voir votre fille” said a woman to her mother. "Nous voulons ce qui est mieux pour Lucille aussi, et nous pouvons leur donnera l’occasion d’être grand avec la fondation de la rose. C’est un école magnifique.”

Suddenly, the fog and fuzz in her brain disappeared and the Prince stepped back. The darkness in the room seemed lesser, but Lucy presumed this was due to how long she had been in there.

“They found you, and they brought you to us…” She murmured. “How interesting.” She looked at the woman with bony hands. “Ma’am, I’d suggest contacting Renée. Let her know l’énfant rénegat has surfaced after her brief disappearance. But tell her nous soyons déçus. The child is not as we expected.” She turned to face Lucy with disgust and disdain. “The daughter of a filthy savage is not what we were promised. Nous avons été trahis par la France!” She cried, wrathfully. The woman with bony hands nodded, but then responded.

“France will not like this. Be prepared for backlash should you make such a rash move, Eleanor. I will do so, but only as you are Prince. Do not expect me to do your dirty work for you in future.” She said, curtly. As she turned to move away, Eleanor grabbed her arm, gently.

“Please don’t leave yet, Madam Rose. We still have business to attend to.” She replied, gesturing to Lucy.

Lucy looked at the third woman, a bystander for all intents and purposes, and she looked down. She seemed to be here purely as an observer…but Lucy wondered what for.

Eleanor looked down at Lucy and grinned, wide and cruel. “There will be more, there are always more to come hunting, and they will return to find you. I can promise you this. And as for us?” She asked rhetorically, looking at her accomplices. “We will break you. And we will make you into what you should be; what kindred society needs you to be. We will make you truly strong, child, and find what you have lost.”

As Lucy went to retort, struggling against her bonds, she felt that fuzziness again, and try as she may she could not fight it. Her energy, her strength of will, and her determination were drained. Eleanor forced her way through her weak mental protestations and went straight back to the memory of the fight.

“Is this what you are?” The voice in her head asked. “A beast that maims and kills, no finesse or strategy, just blind panic and fear? You could be so much more than this, and yet you choose to side with your father and his ilk; beasts and monsters? A girl as bright and powerful and strong as you, could be so much more than a mindless animal. Let us find your finesse, child, build you into someone strong and powerful without the need of such crass, cruel tools. Let us help you; let us show you your misguidances and misjudgements. Let us show you how to wield true power and strength.”

It seemed to make sense, it seemed to be logical…she wanted to…join…

And then the fight started again.

And again.

And again.

And then it stopped. Suddenly, like the power being cut halfway through a movie. The heavy fuzziness once again lifted, and…the scene in front of her was crazy. People fighting and wolves and…

Helena stood behind her, and a robin perched on her shoulder.

She smiled, emotionally distraught and exhausted.

Her father was here, and had brought Helena too.

And in that single moment, she was certain of her safety.

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Newspaper Report #2 - LOCAL WOMAN FOUND MURDERED, DAUGHTER MISSING
Published 15th February 2014

Local Woman Found Murdered, Daughter Missing
Written by Maya Pirillet

Yesterday night, a scene of chaos and destruction unfolded in Adomar Road, Barking, as fire crews battled to control twelve foot flames. Police evacuated the surrounding streets and neighbouring houses. Locals were shocked at the ferocity and speed the flames had spread. “I smelled burning and looked out the window,” recalls Winnie Lopers, who owns the house opposite. “And there were wisps of smoke coming from inside. Next thing I knew; bang!”

The fire, believed to have started around 2:45am this morning, was extinguished by fire crews at 4am. “This was a particularly challenging call,” said Watch Manager Harry Parkins. “Due to the presence of small explosive charges in the house, our firefighters worked tirelessly to put out the blaze before the fire or any of the items in the house could endanger the houses or lives of the public.” Police later confirmed the presence of flash-bang grenades (explosives that produce a large white “flash” effect, often used in pyrotechnic displays or theatre productions) within the house, and that the body of a woman in her mid-thirties was recovered from the scene.

The woman has been named locally as Ms. Anna Shaw, 32, an ex-police officer and single mother. While the police will confirm this in the coming days, the local community seem certain they already know the results. The presence of pyrotechnics in the house has left them shocked. “She seemed the quiet, reclusive type. She never went out anywhere or did any drama stuff. Her life seemed to revolve around her daughter, Lucy,” said one onlooker.

Prior to the fire, there were reports from neighbours of arguing and shouting from the house, prompting police to label the attack an “arson-murder”. They are appealing to the public for information regarding the events leading up to and directly after the crime. They are also appealing for Miss Shaw, 14, to come forward. “We believe Miss Shaw may have seen or heard something, and have information crucial to the case.” said DCI Robert Andrews, “We want Lucy to know we can find her somewhere safe to stay and we want to help. Lucy is likely to be in a very shaken state and at great risk alone on the streets of Dagenham.”

If you have any information regarding the events or the whereabouts of Lucy Shaw, please contact the police on [number] or Crimestoppers on [number].

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Merris' Letter to Lucy
As heard in the impromptu game on the 23rd Feb.

Lucy.

If you are reading this, then I am glad you are awake, and hope that you feel a little bit better. Right now I must look like a corpse, please don’t scream, and don’t worry I only look this while I sleep. It’s like energy saving mode for, well you know, people like me. I am sorry if you get bored, this place was never really meant for kids. But I promise I will go shopping tonight and get you some stuff.

I never meant for any of this, I left to keep you and your mother safe from danger, but was not there to protect either of you when needed me. I promise you that I had no idea about what was following you. But I will find them.

I don’t want to mention last night, but I think I have to. I was never going to fight your mother. Seeing how much she hated me, made me give up on everything. If you had not of been there, I would have lit the grenade myself. You saved me in more than one way. I don’t deserve this second chance, and you deserve more than I can give, but I am going to make it work, for your sake. I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. Things are not going to be easy, but I am sure we can figure things out. I don’t want to stop writing, but I can’t stay awake much longer.

If there is anything specific you need from the shop, write it on the back of the letter and I will see what I can do.

See you in the evening.

Love from Dad.

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Merris' Contemplation
A contemplative thought after being shot for the second time.

(OOC: Ryan sent this to me some time ago and I kept it hidden in my ST-Only area. After the events of the Valentine’s Day game, I asked if I could share this with you all. Thanks for sending it to me, Ryan! Once again, anything you find out from this is ALL OOC knowledge and cannot be brought into the game.)

Every time someone threatens me, I can’t help but laugh a bit inside. What are you going to do, kill me? It won’t be much of a bother to me, or anyone else for that matter. I don’t have a friend in the world, and even my fake ones won’t return my calls anymore. I am not asking people to come and kill me, I do enjoy breathing. It is just difficult to take someone seriously when I have already lost everything. And I don’t mean my boat.

I never had much of an education, or a life for that matter. Being raised on the sea, by a single father who’s daily objective was not to get killed by his targets or his employers, was always going to be detrimental to my well being. But I was able to forget all of that by the time I was eighteen. I got married. And by my nineteenth year I was a father to be. Everything was perfect, I had taken over my father’s role, and was making enough money to keep us all happy, and everyone was safe.

Then my luck started to change. I was in the south of France, procuring some old earrings, it was a special request. And it was the first bullet I ever took, straight to the lower part of my left leg. I got the earnings, making it back to my boat before any of the security guards caught wind of what had happened. The lady who used to own the earrings really liked them, I can look back now and say after meeting the high ups of London, that I should of expected jewelry to be worth more than my life. I am just glad she was not that great of a shot.
I was selfish to bring that kind of trouble home. My home-phone never stopped ringing, and it was always for me. Not only did my pregnant wife have to patch me up, but she had to deal with my new found infamy. I could see what it was doing to her, to us. And even worse what it was going to do to our daughter.

This was my life, but it was not theirs. I could not get away from my “work” I knew that, but I could save them. So that’s what I did. I had to distance myself. I made sure that any love she felt for me withered away, she had to hate me, and never want to see me again, then they would be safe. It was the worst thing I ever had to do. I hated drinking, but it helped ruin us. Coming home covered in cuts, bruises, and nursing broken bones .Then finally taking on more work was, what ended it I think.

I made sure to get a photo of my daughter before my plan was fruitful, but it did not help when I came home to an empty house. I never really readied myself for the day, so when it came I just waited for them to come home. If I did not know where they were, then no one out for my blood would find them. My ultimate show of love, will only ever be seen as hate, and I carry that. I threw myself in to work for the Rose family; I saw every corner of the world, felt more adrenaline than most people can imagine, and could afford anything I wanted. For all the good that’s done me, I can’t even remember my family anymore, I had to blot them out, its only in these rare moments that I even remember, the photo in my wallet. And the ring in my pocket. Its best this way, its better for them if I am just a nobody, if there is no value then there can be no loss. It’s best if we are nothing to each other.

I use to see them in dreams, but that was some years ago. I also used to think I was most human person I knew. By tomorrow I won’t remember this thought, or my own daughter.

Songs listened to:
• Jonathan Coulton- Nobody loves you like me
• Bruce Springsteen- The River
• Warren Zevon- Keep Me in your Heart
• AC/DC- Ride On
• The Killers- Miss Atomic Bomb
• Joe Bonamassa- The Hard Way

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Lucy's Diary
A Father-Daughter Story...kind of.

(OOC: This is following the game on Valentine’s Day when Merris was reunited with his estranged wife and daughter and Masquerade breaches ensued. I really enjoyed writing this as getting into the brainspace of a slightly-damaged 14-year-old girl is quite good fun. Also, I found it quite sweet how lovingly she thinks of her father despite the time they’ve spent apart.)

(Songs for inspiration: Arwen’s Vigil, Without You & Beethoven’s 5 Secrets by The Piano Guys)

I think I’ve found him. In fact, I’m almost 99.9% sure I’ve found him. He’s been difficult to trace and I’ve had more than my fair share of fights to get this close, but I’m ALMOST there. After all of mum’s focus on “vampires” for the past million-and-one years, it’ll be nice to get to finally meet my dad properly. I bet he’s smart and cool and fun and interesting. Mum says all kinds of horrible stuff about him but that’s just ‘cos he left her…right? He’s living, according to some guys I bumped into, in a pub not far from where we’ve ended up. How weird!! I can’t let mum know I’m trying to meet him, ‘cos she’ll go mad, but that doesn’t mean I can’t meet him at all.

Mum’s obsession has been growing rapidly over the past few months. She’s got in touch with some weirdos who say they’re “The Union”, whatever that is…

She’s been piling up all kinds of stuff, flashbang grenades, torches (both electric and not), candles, stakes…she’s seriously lost it. Vampires are those things you see in story books and you have to study at school and bad writers have fun with. Vampires aren’t real, or we’d know. Like aliens and God and footballers who don’t cheat. Ever since I was little she’s been going on about them, but she’s got so ferocious about it all now that it’s scary. REALLY scary.
-
Yes, I found him. He’s not as cool or fun as I thought, but he is interesting and REALLY good with guns (apparently). He didn’t even mind that I had a knife!! It was kind of weird at first; he didn’t know what to do and neither did I. But once we’d had a chat and a hug everything seemed to fall into place. It was awesome. But he wouldn’t let me stay with him. In fact, when I mentioned mum’s obsession he said he wanted to go home and talk to her. He wouldn’t listen when I said she’d go ape. So we’re on our way. Wish me luck.
-
Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.

There’s a woman who doesn’t bleed living in the same building as Dad; and she SHOT him! He showed me the scars earlier. When she got all bitchy I got her back – after all, no-one messes with MY dad. I was useless with my knife to begin with (I think it was the nerves of showing dad my skills) but when I threw it at her, it hit her square in the back. She made a big scene, like “Oh, wow, look at the blood” and stuff…but there WASN’T ANY. NONE. AT. ALL. Like, how can that even happen?! Is she…one of…them?
-
Oh my God. OH. MY. GOD.

Dad…he’s…one of them. They exist. OH MY GOD THEY EXIST. Mum’s not mental. She’s ushered me out of the room. I can hear them, though. She’s threatening to kill him. She can’t! She CAN’T! I’ve only just found him and now she’s going to kill him! I can’t let her take him away like this…I’ve only just found him after all this time and if he dies it’ll be because of me! He only came here because of me. If he dies, it’s all my fault. I can’t live with that. He doesn’t deserve to die! He’s my DAD. Okay he’s not been around, but that doesn’t change the fact that HE’S. MY. DAD. He’s been nothing but amazing to me so far and I know that doesn’t mean anything but at the same time it doesn’t mean nothing.

Oh shit. I heard something being lit! I CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN.
-
I…

I…just…

Oh God, what have I done…?
-
He’s safe. Somehow, just…SOMEHOW…he survived. He changed into a bird (I know, right…?) and flew off just as mum was trying to stab him with one of her stakes.

I can see the fire on the crappy TV in here. The fire and rescue crews have found mum. I…didn’t…have…a choice. I never wanted to end up like this. After dad left, I was so angry with what mum had done (and the burn on my stomach and neck were the best reminders of what that was, exactly) that I couldn’t let her carry on her tirade. She was already bleeding heavily from the claws (again, just let it slide, it’s easier than trying to explain) so one slash with a kitchen knife was all it took to end it. To be fair, she was coming at me with a stake, ranting and raving about how I had “made a deal with the devil” and how “all her years of protecting me were wasted” on an “ungrateful fraterniser”. I set the house on fire as…well…the police were already on their way, and the marks all over mum’s body were far too vicious to have ALL been knives. Using my knowledge from the survival camps she sent me on as a kid, I started a small fire on the stove and then used newspaper to spread it through the house. It wasn’t long, with the flashbangs and paraffin and stuff, before the house was sparking and exploding like a fireworks show gone wrong. I ran back to dad’s place before the police and fire crews could get in. I had no other option, really. I’m too young to work and no doubt the police would be hunting for me when they found out the house’s ownership – after all, I’m mum’s only living relative and am her child. I wouldn’t be surprised if missing person ads turned up soon. I can only hope maybe they’ll think I was in the fire too.

When I got to dad’s, he opened the door and I have never been so glad to see ANYONE in my life. I gave him a HUGE hug and just…apologised. I just…kept…apologising. He wasn’t mad or upset or anything. He just gave me a hug and let me cry. It makes me wonder why he ran away; he’s so lovely to me. I wish he’d been around to give me hugs when I was little.
He picked me up, like I was little and ran me a bath in the little bathroom upstairs. He put me in – clothes and everything!! It REALLY hurt. Like catching-your-finger-when-playing-with-flick-knives hurt. But with more fingers and more flick-knives.

He stayed with me the whole time, guarding the door. I can hardly believe he’s…a…thing. A vampire. He’s too nice and warm-hearted and loving to be a vampire. Vampires are meant to be cruel and cold and stand-offish. But dad isn’t. He’s the opposite. And I love him for that.

From now on, it’s me and my dad against the world. We can take on anything.

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