Chapter LXXIV: The AllianceI leaned back in the taxi as it headed down the highway, and sighed heavily.
'What a fucking week.'
The driver made no comment. He changed lanes, barely indicating, yet the traffic seemed to move for him. There was a...feeling about the vampire. Something impossible to place. He said little, and seemed to wish me no ill will, but there was...something. It was impossible to describe, impossible to figure out what it was I was feeling. Just a sense of something much greater, much deeper...I had to break the silence.
'So, you know Jack?'
Now that was a strange answer. I wasn't sure exactly what he meant.
'And what have you heard about the Kindred of this city?'
'Heh. Used to, and not by choice. The bastard seems to have had his hand around my heart from the second I woke up. Nines on the other hand...I should've joined the Anarchs the first time he saved my ass...'
'Better than dancing on the strings of the Masquerade', I said vehemently. 'The second I was brought into this existence, my sire was killed before my eyes. All for the Masquerade. I was made to take on increasingly difficult and sometimes utterly stupid missions, all in the hope that I'd die, thus proving a point, and getting rid of an embarrassment. The only people that have shown me any goddamned respect are either mortal or Anarch. And Beckett, whatever he's supposed to be...'
'Fighting for something I believe in, rather than because I've been ordered to? Yeah, I could live with that.'
'That and their leader. I may not be much of a replacement, but I'm willing to step up to the plate on their behalf.'
Hope. Sometimes, it was hard to remember what it felt like. But it was there, and growing.
'Maybe if I met this one person, between the two of us we could take back this city. From the Camarilla, and from the Kuei Jin.'
I laughed grimly.
'The next time I see LaCroix, it will be through a rifle sight.' I sat up straighter, smiled a little easier. The taxi driver's conversation had helped me to make a decision I should have made a long time ago. 'Take me to the Anarchs. I'm their man now.'
'Step on it.' The driver smiled, pushing his foot down on the accelerator.
I stepped out of the taxi in Hollywood. It had pulled up outside the Luck-E Star Motel. The streets were just as quiet as in Santa Monica, except here, there were obvious signs of battle.
I stepped through the door, and into the courtyard. Climbing up the stairs, I saw a familiar face.
Damsel stood outside a motel room, arms folded, watching me as I walked up. Her expression was a curious mix of surprise and admiration.
'For once Damsel, it sounds like a nickname rather than an insult. Relax. I'm on your side. Officially.'
'Yeah, really. Can I go in? Talk to whoever it is you're guarding?'
'Love you too Damsel. If I make it out in one piece, you think we can go steady?'
Her punch to the arm hurt, but it was worth it. I never knew a vampire could blush. I walked past and opened the door. Cracked a smile. A long-forgotten line came to mind.
'Noobie, you look like shit.'
'Yeah, you too. I bagged my wolf, what about you?'
'LaCroix. All his work, and framed me for it when it looked like you were dead. You know what though? They've both kinda pissed me off, so I don't care about the 'why' anymore.'
'Damn straight, kid.' Nines flashed a grin, a slightly gruesome sight with half of his face hanging off.
'So, what first?'
'You got it. She's had it coming.'
'You got it. Consider it done.'
'That's the one I'm looking forward to.'
'Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Should be fun here in Hollywood too. Isaac has a gargoyle now.'
'I heard. How'd he come by that?'
'No idea', I replied with a straight face. 'Useful though. I'll be in touch.'
I jumped back into the taxi.
'No, first I need to make a little pitstop. Take me to Santa Monica, I need to talk to Mercurio.'
When I opened the apartment door, Mercurio stood, watching me warily.
'They screwed me over one too many times Mercurio. They turned their backs on me. That's got nothing to do with our friendship though.' I grinned again.
'Now, I'm here about that weapon you said you'd get hold of for me.'