New Orleans by Night

Chapter 2

On Monday, Terrence goes in to work to finish going over the surveillance tapes. His zoo's prized albino gator, Mardi, has been acting sick the last couple weeks and he can't figure out why. He's hoping the tapes will give him some clue. He discovers that a bunch of the tapes are missing. He asks the janitor, who claims to have cleaned his office but didn't mess with the tapes. The security guard suggests looking at the tapes of another set of cameras over in the snake exhibit which show a little bit of the gator exhibit. When Terrence looks at those, he sees a dark-haired woman walk up to the glass and seem to speak with another female figure out of sight. During the exchange, Mardi the gator submerges, like she’s frightened. So maybe it is a person who’s causing Mardi all these problems…

On her way out to take her dogs for a walk, Savannah notices her neighbor’s door slightly open — two college girls live there, Teresa and Britney, who sometimes invite Savannah over for Gilmore Girls marathons. It really stinks in their room. When Savannah investigates, she sees a grisly scene. Teresa is lying on the floor in a coagulated puddle of blood. It looks like she’d been stabbed several times. She also appears to have been disemboweled, and her right nipple was removed and blood seems to have been sucked from it. There are also a couple rotten orange slices on the floor.

Suddenly, someone grabs Savannah from behind! But it’s only Detective Carter, her dad’s partner. Someone had already called the cops, and he just now got here himself with two officers. Carter suggests Savannah stay with her parents for a few days until this all gets cleaned up. She doesn't argue.

After her surgery from the stab wound, Belle sits in the hospital for a few more days and then she’s released. She goes to the New Orleans Police Department headquarters with Conor, asking for Detective Carter. Belle has the flashdrive that Cliff told her to give to him. An officer behind the desk gave them some grief, but Conor deflected it and he and Belle left the building.

Around the middle of his shift, Hutch’s truck stops at the First Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Skip tells him to come check out something crazy. When he gets out and looks, Hutch finds a garbage bin is full of dead toads! Skip calls their boss and the two of them bag up the toads.

At the end of the day, Terrence spots a really big red and grey mottled wolf out in the parking lot. The beast trots along, minding its own business. But as he watches, the wolf stops and looks at him. It stares at him for a long time, with a certain eerie intelligence in its eyes, then continues on its way, heading west. Terrence follows for a bit, and the wolf goes under some orange plastic construction fencing into a construction zone, where he loses sight of the beast.

At Magazine Pizza Belle's boss tells her that she has no more sick days, and she can either come to work or she’s fired.

When Savannah goes to work later, she’ll find it to be a very busy evening. An Egyptian businesswoman named Manon checks in to the hotel. A city councilman named James Austin Gray, his wife Mary Ellen-Gray, and their daughter Carrie Ann are also famous people at the hotel tonight. Later on, Savannah gets a call from Mary claiming that her husband was poisoned by shellfish. They call 911 and Simon the bartender rushes to the elevator to help out. Their boss, Enzo, tells him to get back to the bar. But after some fast-talking by Savannah, Enzo lets it go. As the EMTs roll James out on a stretcher, Mary tells the police that Savannah messed up the dinner order and poisoned him. The police are about to take her in for questioning when Manon shows up and tells them to go away. They do. A little while later, Enzo tells Savannah she can go home early — which is very out of character for him. She accepts the offer and heads home.

Conor follows one of the police officers — the one who'd confronted him at the police department, Officer Little — to his home in the suburbs.

Belle eventually goes to the Academy of Fine Arts to do her modeling gig. The classroom tonight is strangely empty. The professor tells her that class has been canceled tonight because an important patron of the arts is here to make a clay sculpture of Belle. Morgaine has made many generous donations to the academy, and it is the professor’s honor to oblige her request.

As she poses, Belle realizes that Morgaine seems extremely charming, sweet and gentle. The woman wears a white dress and white shawl, which really accent her bright green eyes. She makes Belle feel as if she’s the most important and special person in the world. This pleases the art professor, too. Morgaine gives Belle her business card.

After his shift ends, when Hutch goes back to his van “home,” he sees two strange men sitting in their van nearby with the window rolled down. These two guys look like they’re watching an elderly woman (Aunt Alma) sitting at a bus stop, sewing a small quilt while she waits. One of them is eating an orange. Then the two goons leave their van and abduct her. Hutch pulls out his pistol and fires off a couple rounds. The two kidnappers retreat to their van. One of them — the freakishly tall one — gets a machete from the van and walks toward Hutch, who grabs the rifle out of his own van. A lot of bystanders are screaming and running away at this point. Hutch's enemies back down and take off in their van. Hutch follows them to the Grand Oaks Mansion, a big warehouse down by the river. He spies two police officers handing over a drunk man to a guy with long blonde hair, who leads him inside.

Laura makes an unexpected appearance at Terrence's apartment that night. She shows him an article, “PETA Targets Albino Alligator at Audubon Zoo,” and says that the leader of PETA in New Orleans is a woman named Roxy. Laura also says that PETA members have been kidnapping people involved in the “mistreatment of gators.” Laura explains that PETA’s rescue team meets weekly at the McFadden Girl Scout Cabin in the City Park… tonight! So Terrence changes his pants and goes with her to check it out. They do indeed see a meeting going on in the big gazebo in the park. They go to the top of the hill and call the police, who arrive shortly thereafter and break up the party.

But then Roxy shows up with her companion, a really big red wolf whom she refers to as Manuel. She's really upset that Laura had intended for Manuel to attack her at the PETA meeting. The tables turn, however. Roxy says she's been friends with Manuel for a long time, and the wolf is on her side. She leads Laura away while the wolf lunges at Terrence. He sprints toward his truck, but the wolf pounces, landing on him, driving him onto the ground. Even after succeeding at the Full Irwin hold, he is no match for the wolf as it shapeshifts into its hybrid form and tears open his throat.

Terrence wakes up sometime later with Laura crouching over him. He's covered in blood, and her arm is, too. She talks really fast, frantically explaining that she didn't want him to die, but she needs to hide him because she didn't ask permission from the prince to turn him into a vampire. She takes him to a used bookstore where he hides out til tomorrow night.

The next day, Conor breaks into Officer Little's home to look for clues. He finds a missing persons report that seems like it includes people who are way too old to be alive. He concludes that this is a list of the Kindred that have been abducted. Strangely, Terrence's brother Phillip has also been included on this list, as well as an unnamed witness "located at a safehouse in protective custody awaiting interrogation."

That morning, Hutch goes to the police station to speak with Detective Carter. He explains everything he saw in the last few days, including his friends Conor, Belle, Terrence, and Savannah. Carter sends policemen out to bring Belle and Savannah back to the station. He tells them that because of the flashdrive Belle was given, all of their lives are in danger. He has three of his officers take them to a hotel for now until he contacts Witness Protection.

The hotel becomes a warzone when two people — a man and a woman — storm into the room with guns blazing. They shoot the policemen and shout for Hutch, Belle, and Savannah to come with them, saying the police are corrupt and plan to kill them all for what they know. More police arrive, and while the two strangers light up the stairwell with gunfire, the three companions escape.

Belle's art professor calls her to tell her that Morgaine wants to offer her a job at NOLA Spaces. Belle agrees to meet with Morgaine over drinks at The Blacksmith Shop. Savannah goes with, after calling her dad to let him know she's okay. A guy at the bar introduces himself as Antonio. He hits on Savannah for a little bit, but takes the hint that she's had a rough couple of days and isn't in the mood right now. He gives her his business card, saying he owns a bed & breakfast and would love to see her again.

When Terrence wakes up, he meets Sebastian Walcott, the proprietor of the Tremere chantry. While coming off as a little arrogant, Sebastian is polite and helpful, explaining that there are certain rules to be followed among the Kindred, and Laura needs to ask the prince for permission to create childer. Laura comes back with good news. Marcel agreed to let her turn Terrence into a vampire. Together they go to The Blacksmith Shop for drinks.

Meanwhile, Hutch and Conor go to the Grand Oaks Mansion down by the river. They break inside and look around for anything suspicious. They find a door that leads to "the back," and beyond that they spy a man with long blonde hair speaking with two other men, whom Hutch recognizes as the two goons who tried abducting Aunt Alma. Listening in, the eavesdroppers hear a conversation about everything being ready for the auction Saturday night. The blonde guy, called Raymond, is concerned about the stock; he's also concerned about the witnesses who might identify them, and at least one attack that failed. The shorter of the two goons suggests that they stop the auction until things cool down. Raymond dismisses that, stating that nothing will go wrong as long as they stick to the plan as the mage has told them to do. He suggests that the two goons take advantage of Voodoo Fest this weekend to seize more victims. Hutch and Conor quietly leave so they can formulate a plan later.

Savannah and Belle meet Morgaine, and Terrence introduces them to Laura. They stay for a few drinks, then all go their separate ways for the night.


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