Secondhand Monsters

By Any Other Name

Cedric Antonio makes a play

You arrive at the warehouse, and many of the city’s kindred are here. All of them are armed to the teeth, in their own way. Over-arching security seems to have fallen to Leslie Whitaker and some of her muscle, including Neala Graham. Re-purposed Aegis Security Ghouls abound, in fact, given that Leslie and Clyde are both now part-owners. Overall, there may be as many as fifty individuals, quietly (and not-so-quietly) arriving in various ways. Devon Ross has the most impressive entourage, though everyone notes that Justin is not part of it. Even if she didn’t have the most impressive entourage, her mastery of Presence would have provided all the impact she requires on its own. (If there is another master of Presence, they are not using Majesty, so she continually draws awe-struck attention)

A few are present who you are not familiar with. A ‘young’, slight man with feathery long blonde hair dressed in an immaculate black suit with subtle silver stitching occasionaly visible. Next to him is a tall woman with a Mediterranean complexion, seeming around middle-age. The two seem to know each other and not to know many other people. Also set apart from the other jostling groups is a small man who looks a lot like Elijah Wood from the Sin City movie – when he looks directly at you, some odd property of his glasses causes them to taken on the appearance of two circular mirrors. Next to him is an enormous bald man, like a section of grey wall in a trench-coat. His posture is protective.

At the back of the room, farthest from the exits, are five balding men in conservative business suits, not identical but seemingly cut from a similar smallish, round mold. Behind them is Cedric Antonio, tall, handsome and casually well-dressed in the way of a person who was born into considerable wealth and has never known anything else.

Looking around, there are some you might expect to see but who do not seem to be present: Lucas Novak and his ‘coterie’, Justin, Ted Winters, and Suzanne Cohen. (Obfuscate might account for Suzanne, being the Malkavian Primogen, and perhaps Winters is present magically.)

[Other questions can be popped in here retroactively]

Just after midnight, Cedric calls the gathering to order. “Ahem. Very well – those who are coming are no doubt here. I appreciate all of you coming to hear what I have to say. As many of you know, I was once Prince of this city – Prince for a very long time. I would go so far as to say that those decades were a time of stability for the city, and I want to see that same stability return once more.”

“Of course, you are all here for the information that I promised. I won’t bore you with my ideas at this time – not until you know why it is important that you listen.”

“I would not challenge the authority of another Prince lightly. Though the kindred posing as Sarah Anne Wilder is far more lenient than I, were she rightly Prince, I would be bound to honor her authority in this city.”

One of the businesslike men, presumably Ghouls, walks over to a small folding table with a digital projector set up on it, connected to a laptop. It starts up and projects a blue square on the wall behind Cedric.

“Some of you may know that approximately two years ago, the kindred of Portland suffered a Garou incursion. As is always the case, some fled, some hid, and some fought. One who never emerged was the Ventrue Primogen, one Sarah Anne Wilder. (Projected behind him is what looks like a security-footage image of Sarah Anne Wilder in a sumptuous hotel lobby) This is one of the last images of her that I was able to get a hold of, from before the incursion.”

“In the wake of the attack, my clan sought to discover what happened to Primogen Wilder. Her haven was destroyed by fire, and it seemed most likely that she was one of the targets of the Garou. Over time, however, the evidence did not seem to support a Garou attack. It took time to gather sufficient favors and influence, but we were able to investigate much further, using abilities that the police obviously do not possess. It was ultimately the clan’s determination that Sarah Anne Wilder was diablerized. Traces of her ashes were found amongst the wreckage of her haven (there are some pictures projecting behind him, police evidence photos and photos of the charred remains of a large building). The impressions left on her remains were – vivid – and indicative of more than merely a second death.”

“Since that time, a second member of the Primogen of Portland, the Malkavian Primogen on the Council, never emerged. The name she sued then was Delphina Sarris. She was relatively new to the city, as we measure such things, and swiftly worked her way up until her predecessor – let us say took leave of his senses and was no longer an effective member of the Council.”

“After the Garou attack, she never emerged from hiding. This in itself is hardly extraordinary – she could avoid notice when she chose to, and was obviously secretive and adept at hiding her ways. However, there is one here who might be able to shed light on the final image I have to show you. Devon and I have been acquainted for a short time, and…ta is clearly, among other gifts, quite perceptive. In addition, Devon does not share a clan with Delphina Sarris. Primogen Ross, you are of course aware that your supposed Prince uses her abilities to hide her appearance?” Devon nods, a careful look on her face. “Very good. Then here is an image of Delphina Sarris – a true image, since her abilities can trick the mind, but usually not machinery, at least not after the fact.”

A new image is projected on the wall, of a young woman with dark eyes, curly dark hair and olive skin. Devon immediately birstles visibly, and the weaker-willed around her flinch before they realize it.

“That – that is her.”

Things go a bit nuts at this point, with lots of talking back and fourth, and some shouting. Devin glares around and says “Silence!”, and the word cuts through other voices like a blade. Even those who seem less cowed – Cedric, Dawn Nakada at the back of the room – do not speak. Devon looks to Cedric again. “Go on.”

His smile seems slightly harsh. “Now I hope you see why I called this meeting. A Ventrue Primogen diablerized, and the secretive Malkavian Primogen disappears, only to reappear in a new city, using the name and visage of that very diablerie victim. I can certainly vouch for this – she is no Ventrue. That I know without any doubt. Some of you may want to ask why her clan-mates, a Malkavian Archon and your Malkavian Sheriff, have gone along with her ruse, since they must have been aware of it. And I do not see the Malkavian Primogen anywhere present…”

Dawn Nakada has pushed forward a bit. “You wouldn’t, of course, if she did not want you to, and whether she is here or not is her own business. You’ve certainly said a great deal, Cedric – accusing an Archon of hiding a diablerist was the last over-reach I will tolerate. You say you have proof, but you cannot produce it. We are to take you on your word that the Ventrue Primogen of Portland was diablerized, that your image was her true form and not tampered with, that Delphina Sarris is who you say she is, and on and on. And all this, from one who clearly wants the city for himself.” There are more outbursts, and it is up to Dawn and Cedric to shout them down – Devon is very quiet. Dawn addresses the whole room, but keeps Cedric – and a seething Leslie – in view. “Everyone in this city has a Prince already.”

“A fraud and a diabolist!” Cedric shouts, visibly angry.

“So you say.”

“I see she is not here to answer for herself!”

“The Prince does not answer to you. If – if! – anything further needs to be investigated, I do not think that a jealous upstart” Cedric sputters, has to work to control himself “is the one to be doing it. Until there is some form of proof” she looks around, “I assume you are well aware of the penalty for rebelling against the Prince of the city.”

“Yes, of course, trust the Lunatics to find the truth of the matter! Here is the situation. Every kindred in this city has one week to decide whether you will defend the diabolist, or you will organize under a true Prince. One week, and that is all. At that time I will assemble a Primogen Council and other functionaries – Leslie has already agreed to serve as Sheriff. Elysium shall be the observation level of Coit Tower. Anyone acknowledged in the city will be admitted through the staff entrance. When the week is done, I will decide how to proceed.”

“To those of you who followed Delphina Sarris out of ignorance, I offer amnesty. Hers is the only word I will never accept. For such a criminal as her, I can only offer two things – a swift death, or a slow one.”

By the time he’s finished talking, you realize that you have entirely lost track of Dawn, as well as a few others including Rott. Things break into individual conversations. Devon goes over to Cedric and they speak together for some time. Most others slink out of the warehouse warily. A few who stay are the four you don’t recognize, Leslie, Vanessa, V-Jack and Gordon.

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