New Orleans by Night

Chapter 3

After laying low for a couple of days, Savannah finally gets around to calling her parents. Her mother sounds very relieved to hear from her again, and mentions that a businesswoman named Manon will be joining them for dinner tonight. Savannah tells her friends, Hutch and Belle, that she'll be leaving the hotel tonight to go to her parents' house. On the way out the door, Savannah notices a 15-year-old girl outside smoking a cigarette and sporting a black eye. Belle decides to go check on Aunt Alma, and after talking with the girl outside, learns her name is Julia and could use a place to stay tonight. Meanwhile, Hutch, wanting to enjoy one of the few occasions that he has to sleep on a real bed, remains in the hotel room watching "Ancient Aliens."

Conor visits Prince Marcel tonight. He asks about Detective Bob Carter, who he believes is drinking vampire blood. Marcel explains that Carter used to be a Hunter, but some years ago a deal was struck: Carter and his agents would still hunt, but only kill those vampires that Marcel doesn’t like, or those out-of-towners who haven’t introduced themselves to him yet. However, more than a few of Carter's agents are pushing the limits of the deal, attacking vampires without Marcel’s permission. Marcel has a long history with Detective Carter and would not like to see the old man killed. Rather, he asks Conor to get more information on these allegations of Diablerie. Marcel's childe, Anthony, shows up. He arrogantly dismisses Conor. Marcel apologizes and says that since his first childe, Christopher, has been sort of a black sheep, a rebellious youth that seems to be doing the exact opposite of what Marcel wants, he Embraced Anthony to be his protégé. Additionally, Christopher has been hanging out with Dutch and the Brujah clan a lot more than Marcel would like. Conor asks where he can get silver bullets. Marcel suggests he speak with Dutch about it.

Savannah hails a cab and heads to her parents' house. But then the driver gets a bad headache that causes him to pull over. A familiar man opens the door and sits down in the back seat with her — Antonio from the bar the other night. He tells her that Manon is a selfish monster and only pretends to like Savannah. Antonio, however, says he can help Savannah reach her full magical potential — and she won’t have to meddle in that Devil worshipping, either. Savannah refuses, and Antonio suspects foul enchantments at play here. Then the cab driver's eyes start bleeding and he runs out into the street, screaming. Savannah bolts out of the cab and calls for an ambulance while running away.

Belle makes it home okay and introduces Julia to her aunt. Of course Alma is delighted to have the little girl over and rushes into the kitchen to prepare a meal. Julia declines and says she's ready for bed. She claims that she lives with her dysfunctional family in an apartment down the road. She also says her abusive father and self-absorbed stepmother haven't noticed yet that she stopped attending class at her school for troubled girls. And she has a naughty four-year-old brother. Julia falls asleep on the couch while watching a rerun of "Ice Cold Killers."

Savannah is pleased to see Manon again. The Egyptian princess has been making small talk with her mother, going over business plans and such. Savannah tells her parents and Manon all about what has occurred over the last week, including the shoot-out at the Motel 6 and the strange encounter with Antonio. Manon seems concerned about Antonio's advancements. She gives Savannah a prayer card and an Evil Eye amulet, and then she offers to give Savannah the secret to never being afraid of anybody ever again. Savannah agrees to a really weird and uncomfortable bath involving traditional African herbs, and a voodoo ritual involving a crocodile skull and candles. Manon's voice is soft and soothing as she lulls Savannah into a deep sleep.

Hutch remembers that Thursday is movie night with his brother, Michael. Even though it's late, he gets to his van, hidden away in a dark alley, and drives to Michael's apartment. His brother invited a friend from work named Lazarus, whom Hutch is immediately suspicious of. But after they get to know each other that night over beers and popcorn, Hutch realizes that Lazarus actually has some good ideas, and in fact the two of them share a lot of the same conspiracy theories. Michael mentions that he recently acquired a bunch of paintings that have been difficult to resell; and some very unscrupulous people have been inquiring about them — even cops. When Hutch mentions the trash can full of dead frogs, Lazarus suggests going to that church tonight and scoping it out for some sign of wrong-doing. Michael is gung-ho about it and runs to the car. Hutch calls Conor and Belle and asks them to meet him at the church. He wants their help with the paintings and this frogs-in-the-trash-can mystery.

When they get to the church, Lazarus reveals that he has the key to get inside. They all go in to search the place. And they find a horrifying scene in one of the Sunday school classrooms. Six children sit around a big table, all of them having been stabbed to death in the most gruesome and messy manner. The reverend is here, his robes covered in blood, writing on the table and the walls in blood, babbling about how the children are all with Jesus now and nobody can hurt them anymore — especially himself for what he's done. Conor and Hutch talk to the crazed man, who claims that he stole money from the children's camp fund and he feels ever so guilty about it. Conor walks up and slugs him in the face, knocking him down. Hutch pistol whips him. Lazarus suggests killing him, but everybody decides to leave and call the cops instead.

Lazarus tells Hutch about another conspiracy theory he'd like to check out tomorrow night. He knows about a secret laboratory in New Orleans (in an abandoned water treatment pump station) where animals have been experimented upon since the 1960s. Today the scientists there are testing various biological weapons and cancer-causing agents. And because the police and government already know about this and it’s all part of their plan, it’s up to Hutch and himself to stop it. Hutch agrees to go check it out tomorrow.

Belle lays low the next day, recovering from her night of drinking and watching movies with Hutch, Michael, Lazarus, and Conor. After the sun sets, there is a desperate knock on her door. It's Julia, frantically explaining as she comes inside that she was out shopping for groceries, and when she came home she found her parents dead. She says that some corrupt cops paid her dad to stash cocaine in their apartment, and she suspects it was they who did this. She pleads for Belle to help her. But then Morgaine steps out from the other room. Belle wonders if she's dreaming all of this as the beautiful green-eyed woman chastises Julia for taking something that's not hers. Julia bares her fangs at Morgaine, who calmly waits for Julia to slink back out the door. Then Morgaine reveals that Julia works for a rival artist named Karen, who would like to see Belle dead. Julia was going to kill Belle and her aunt tonight, had Morgaine not intervened. Morgaine tells Belle that she can offer the gift of eternal life, a way to maintain her beauty forever, just as she's always wanted. Of course Belle agrees, and Morgaine Embraces her.

Savannah awakens in the bathtub the next night, cold, confused, and hungry. Her head is pounding and she feels an insatiable thirst. She goes downstairs and realizes that she'd slept in the tub all night and all day, into the next night. She tries to drink water but spits it back up, then she tries milk and juice, but she can't swallow anything. Then her mom comes down, also bewildered that she herself slept through the day. Savannah feels an unexplainable thirst for her mother's blood, but she controls herself enough to flee outside and instead attack a couple boys playing basketball next door. She tackles one boy and drains the blood from his arm until he passes out. Horrified at herself, and so much confused, Savannah takes off running for the Bourbon Orleans Hotel to find Manon.

Terrence goes with Laura to meet her contacts, the Nosferatu, about information they might have on the recent abductions in the city. They meet Avery and Martin at the old Six Flags of New Orleans. One day an amusement park, the next a flooded wonderland. Six Flags has been abandoned since Katrina and is entirely creepy in its "time stood still" way. Avery and Martin tell Terrence and Laura that something very sinister is going on in the city, and that there's a witness named Charlie Grisham being held in a safehouse deep in Lupine territory, in Arabi, who may know more. They also reveal that they’ve seen elder Kindred from outside the city come to New Orleans once a month, stay for only a few days, then leave again. The Nosferatu refuse to admit the purpose of these visits, nor do they speculate on the matter. They don’t know exactly where the safehouse is, but they mention that Detective Carter's agents do know, and Sebastian has magical ways of interrogating people. Perhaps they should ask the Tremere for help.

Conor asks Detective Carter to meet him at the Cafe du Monde. He asks Hutch to join them. Carter goes into detail about his deal with Marcel, that his NOSTF agents are only supposed to kill vampires that Marcel gives them permission to. However, lately they've been targeting more vampires than they should. One of them is a former agent gone rogue named Lance Pertkin, who had a run-in at Motel 6 the other night with Savannah, Belle, and Hutch. Lance found a partner to work with, some Texas woman named Lanee. In any case, Carter doesn’t know how to get things back under control, and he knows that Marcel is upset at him for these mishaps.

Suddenly Christopher shows up. He says, "This is for my Sire," and twists Carter's head off. Blood sprays everywhere, and as the cafe patrons all scream and panic and scatter, Christopher himself flees the scene. While Hutch stares dumbfoundedly at what just happened, Conor stands up and tells him they'd best leave now.

Terrence and Laura visit the used bookstore, which is actually a front for the Tremere chantry. While Sebastian primarily sells books at his store, he also caters to the tourists by selling "magical" charms and fetishes. There are display cases featuring comet-shaped pewter necklaces, a glass bowl full of "sacred" pebbles, bracelets of seven beads, etc. Sebastian has a ritual that could help them in their search for clues. He, too, would like to get to the bottom of these abductions. The ritual is called Bone of Lies, and it enchants a mortal bone so that anyone who holds it must tell the truth. Sebastian gives Terrence a wand fashioned from a radius forearm bone. Terrence asks if there's a ritual that will protect or hide him from werewolves, but Sebastian tells him that he can't be of help there.

Hutch and Conor go to Michael's apartment, where Michael is presently getting ready for the first night of Voodoo Fest. The scent of sage is heavy in the room. Hutch calls Terrence and Belle and asks them to join in on their adventure to the abandoned water treatment pump station tonight. Michael says good-bye and heads out. Terrence gets there first while Belle calls Savannah's parents and then goes to the Bourbon Orleans to find her.

Lance Pertkin enters Michael's apartment and confronts Hutch, Conor, and Terrence, demanding they hand over the paintings. Terrence challenges him and gets shot in the chest by Lance's shotgun. Hutch is stunned when Terrence isn't immediately killed. Instead, the Herpetologist laughs at the attempt on his life. Lance retreats outside, where Lanee waits inside their car. When Terrence runs after, she pulls an Uzi on him. Conor dives behind a tree. But the SMG isn't needed; Terrence stops and goes back inside.

The two girls arrive and everyone decides to head on down to the abandoned water treatment pump station in search of poor little animals.


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