Well, here I am again, just a regular guy, down on the street in the dirty real world, saving lives.
Ariette really isn’t coping. Like I said though, having iced that other guy in front who one of the locals, she came to me for help. Which is certainly for the best, because otherwise there would be another corpse lining the pavement tonight. That corpse’s name would be Robert Bixby.
But, thanks to me, Robert is not a corpse yet! A little shaken, certainly, but I’m sure its nothing that the counsel of a qualified psychiatrist such as myself wouldn’t be able to remedy. We went into the situation trying to make Bob think it was a robbery. Which it was, in a way, but we moved from “surreptitious master crime” to “botched hit and run” around the time the poor girl started feeding. Predictably enough, it was up to good old Dr Salt to step in a diffuse the situation.
I hit Ariette with the Face, which backed her off her meal. Bob was similarly terrified, so I pinned him to a wall, swiped his ID so he knew we’d be able to find him, drew off a little red for myself and introduced his head to the dumpster to keep him focused on spinning lights rather than blowing our little gambit right open. Only enough to stun him, mind. I’m no killer.
I dragged Ariette around the corner and dumped her somewhere quiet and dark to think about the mess she’d caused. Then I ripped open my arm and force fed the murky, wriggling ichor that lives inside me down Robert’s throat.
The hole Ariette left in his neck healed over. The hovering signs of concussion in his eyes cleared, and he was able to pull himself to his feet. He still seemed a little dazed, and I imagine he was flying high on my little infusion, but I think I managed to push the worst of the damage back to something he could deal with on his own, without requiring a trip to the hospital or the morgue. I agreed to meet him two night from now, which should be more time than I need to come up with a story that he can accept easily enough.
I know its addictive, but so is morphine. As long as I don’t dose him too heavily medicinal use of vitae should leave him perfectly healthy. I wonder if it can heal brain damage… that may be something to consider once I free the people Smythe keeps penned up in the asylum. Especially in light of recent developments.
So, feeling pretty good about the way things are going, if utterly famished, we met up with Sylvia and Dom. The little one and her guardian had apparently managed to corner another single parent out walking, and she had managed to not kill the small boy. Her Id wasn’t so happy about that development and engaged in a disturbing amount of vandalism to compensate, but I’m glad they got away without hurting anybody too seriously. Dom has a knack for putting fences between Sylvia and anybody who would investigate her… particular predicament.
She got angry at me, yesterday. Wanted to know my name. Ariette wouldn’t part with hers, but I vaguely remembered telling everyone before… before the sleep. Before the old copper mines. That, I think, was the first time we’d sat down to properly compare what we remembered, and I have begun to doubt my initial assumption that it was the former Prince Lambert that put us in the ground. That’s what I remember, anyway. Sylvia is convinced that it was Julia Black, a one time Invictus busybody, while Ariette… well, she remembers a cabal of Invictus and Sylvia, of all people. Three utterly different stories. I’m beginning to worry that we may have been had.
I’ve studied the nightmares that we have while we sleep, in the hopes of alleviating the suffering that the Kindred experience as we age. But this… this seems to be something else. It’s worrying, to think that my own mental pathways could be so easily rewritten, though I know our kind are capable of such, but I have seen a trend with the victims such tampering. Eventually, the subject breaks down, as even small untruths are eventually rejected. Some remake themselves, relying on context, journals, new stories to make memories to replace the false ones. But without context, I can’t identify the end of the untruth and the beginning of the dream.
I may still be dreaming.
I caved in the end. I don’t know if Sylvia would try to leverage my old identity against me. Hell, with four years out of the game with luck my old connections may have gone cold.
We’re going to see Julia Black, who according to Carson has propped herself up as the prophet of some Catholic death worship cult in the wake of the carnage, and is currently our number one suspect for our memory troubles. We met Carson, too; turns out he’s made the jump to one of us, and he was nice enough to fill us in as long as we’re willing to do him an unspecified favour… but we’ve got a better lay of the land, now, I think. Carson describes the plague as a zombie apocalypse, some sort of apparently incurable disease that drives victims into violent psychosis. The people in the asylum aren’t actually infected; they’re just a paper trail that has been arranged to keep the authorities from looking too closely in our direction. Brilliant, Doctor Smythe. I’ll move another counter from “sick man” to “abomination” shall I?
Eventually, slash and burn brought down most of the infected. Embraces started going awry, spawning furious monstrosities. Except among my kind… the Family. Looks like a line’s been drawn between the religious abattoir impersonators and the Nosferatu tribe, which keeps things tense, and most have declared one way or another. The Masquerade is dangerously thin. The only remaining Kindred with the kind of occult knowledge I’m going to need is Byron, who’s apparently set up a little way out of town. I don’t remember having met him, but I don’t know which of memories I can trust. We’re going
to need to grill Julia, hopefully that will shed some light on it…
And we found our old crack house. Doesn’t look like anybody has been there for a long while, so we figured its as good a place as any to sleep.
God I’m hungry. I need to get my traps out again. But there’s a lot I need to do;
-Cripple Smythe’s lobotomy racket and teach that monster a lesson in humility.
-Pay Julia Black a visit, find out what she knows about our getting disappeared.
-Locate and quiz Byron, see what he knows that might help me get back on Terry’s trail.
-Meet William tomorrow night. Don’t know who the hell this guy is, but it looks like he pulled some nasty psynanigans on Ariette, and that worries me. Could be an ambush. Might be worth arranging some kind of insurance.
-Meet Robert the night after tomorrow. I don’t owe him any explanation, I saved the guys life, but I should find out what he believes happened in case that needs smoothing over. Shit, my date book hasn’t been this full in years…
-New traps. Very, very hungry. Can’t keep up the stalking, its too risky. Still, I’m going to need a good hit to keep the Clay Man on side. We’ll need to hit the town once more I think, commit to a little social surgery. See if we can’t teach some Gravetown scumbags that actions have consequences, and that consequences bite hard…
When the hell did I start thinking like that? This isn’t me… There was another time, another Doctor Salt who truly believed that words could solve any problem, could reach to the very heart of the human mind. To unlock doors and ease suffering. Or maybe that memory is false also.
How quickly, how easily my clay hands turn to cruelty. A pity that so many people let themselves go so far that their only psychological currency is pain. Smythe, Black… even Carson, maybe. What happened to him, to make him so callous? I hope I’m wrong. I hope I can save them.
Something tells me that I’m right, though.
Hang on… Carson’s sire may be a telepath. Investigate…
So… Humanity 5 then… down we go…