VELVET GLOVE, IRON FIST - Act I - David Depual
Standing before the man in black, his mortal retainer either unconscious or dead, David Depual was thinking this was the start of a very bad night. "Well," the vampire in the business suit looked calm before the Latino, "you've got my attention." The calm was not a front of bravado; after you had risked your life for three centuries, nothing scared you anymore. In truth, David was amused. It made this wild goose chase more exciting.
"I thought it might," his opponent replied, shrinking his hand back to its normal shape, "I want you to know I am serious."
"I believe you." David relaxed a bit; if he wanted to kill him, he would have done it all ready. "But if you're as serious as you say, perhaps you'd give me your name?"
The Latino smiled. "Ebehard, childe of Ventrue, and I'm in charge of this planet for the elders."
Depual's eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. The name didn't sound Latino nor should he have known he was here. "If you're in charge on this planet, then how did you know about me?"
"We can't live _entirely_ in shadows, M...?"
He didn't know his true name, David thought. Good, one more point in his favor. "Monk. Jason Monk."
"...M. Monk. Thanks to the mortal's Galactic Net, we can talk to our brothers and sisters across the Federation. It's as easy as jacking in."
"Internal Security isn't half as efficient as they say they are. The Children of Cain have always been able to slip through the cracks."
"So you said you talked with your fellow Black..."
"Unh-uh," Ebehard raised his hand, "that is a plebian word. It could also get you in trouble. Our nom-de-guerre is merely a calling card, to identify ourselves to our friends," the Latino bared his fangs, "and to our enemies."
"Ebehard, I don't want to be your enemy. I just want to know what's going on."
"The Jyhad never ended. Yes, the antedeluvians... our masters returned to rid the world of the unworthy. The thin bloods to be purged with the building of our new third city. But the Tech Infantry..." A growl escaped his fanged lips, "...interfered. The Gehenna that was supposed to happen never did. Some slipped through the cracks, such as yourself, and so did the Sabbat. They had been put down time and again, but like the cockroach, they continue to grow stronger."
"I know this story." Depual replied, itching his fake mustache.
"Then let me tell you the rest. The mortals think they've killed the Sabbat but all they've done is gone back into hiding again. Now is the chance to wipe them out for good, before anyone can stop us, and build the third city."
"The first was Enoch, the city Cain built. The second was built by his children, but they soon fell to squabbling, and it was deserted. Now we have our masters back, and together, we will eliminate our enemies and rule the humans... as it was before."
Joining the Black Hand became less and less appealing, as this walking advertisement droned on. "Sounds great, but why me?"
"You have survived this long without being caught or at the wrong end of a stake." Ebehard rolled his neck, probably to look around without being obvious. This vampire was the cautious sort. "You would be very useful in the new order."
Now David saw his opportunity. "I would love to help. I'm sure that with my contacts..."
"We don't need your business, M. Monk, we want you."
"I would be much more helpful where I am, wouldn't you think?"
"Drugs are hardly useful in a war."
"On the contrary, they..."
Ebehard stopped him again. "I need to know; are you with us or against us?"
David couldn't figure out this man. He seemed intelligent enough to see the possibilities, but he was stubborn as a brick. "Why the rush?"
"Because sooner or later, the Sabbat will come to you or kill you. This is war, M. Monk, there are no _observers._"
Depual sighed, "I have a life, Ebehard, I need some time to settle my affairs."
The Latino nodded. "In two days, meet me in Maine City. There's a hill in the center of town that's been made into a park. On top is a stone circle. Meet me there. If you try to leave the planet, you're dead." A moan was heard off to the side. "Your servant is waking. Remember, two days."
Then Ebehard stepped back into the shadows and vanished. Charlie groaned for a moment, then struggled to his feet, asking, "What happened?"
"Trouble. Let's go, I need your help."
The next day, while Depual slept, Charlie got the items they needed. The old vampire knew that Ebehard wasn't going to take "no" for an answer, and he wasn't about to leave everything he had built for the past quarter-century. There was a time to fold, David knew, but now was a time to call.
That night, the two of them took a suborbital over to Maine City and checked out the meeting site. Wide open, no places to hide, and a few old trees; the Latino had picked well. However, there was a sewer maintenance hatch only 100 meters away. As they checked it out, Charlie had a clear shot from the miniature pillbox to the stone circle. Perfect. Now it was time to show the Black Hand how HE did business.
At midnight, the next evening, David made his way towards the stone circle. Once he stepped inside, Ebehard stepped out from behind one of the stones. "Glad you are here."
"Wasn't easy to find." David placed himself so that Charlie could get a clear shot.
"Have you decided?"
"Yes," Ebehard smiled, but Depual cut him off, "and I feel I can help you out better where I am."
"Listen, I can provide you with..."
"No, M. Monk, we want you soul, not your so-called life."
"Me and my associates..." David tried to speak, but Ebehard wasn't hearing it.
"Enough! Yes or no."
"Then it will have to be no."
Ebehard snorted in disgust. "They were wrong about you." His fingernails lengthened and turned into claws. "They said you were intelligent. They said you wouldn't be foolish enough to refuse. Now you must die."
"NOW!" David shouted, and with a rattle of machinegun fire, Charlie's gun blew tons of holes into the Black Hand marauder. With a shift of his coat, a pocket crossbow appeared in Depual's hand, aiming a wooden bolt right at Ebehard's heart.
"What do you..."
"Shut up!" The old vampire screamed back, "You've shown me your strength, now I'll show you mine. I don't want to kill you, but I've shown you that I can. I just want to be left alone."
"You have no choice." With a shout, Ebehard leapt into the air. Depual tried for a shot, but it missed. The Latino knocked David to the ground as he landed on him, raising his claws for the final strike. "You fool! Now you're food for the..."
Ebehard never finished his sentence before a red beam of light rushed past, cut through his neck, and severed his head from it. The Black Hand leader's body collapsed on him and David was left in a state of shock. When he finally blinked, Depual looked over the beheaded corpse and saw a lady there, holding a thin glowing sword.
The old vampire pushed the body off him and got a better look at who rescued him. In the dim light, he was finally able to take a look. The visage gave him a shock; it was Deidre Macoure. She was right in front of him, pointing that overgrown laser pointer at him. "Strange company you keep." she said, still keeping a close eye on him. "Better watch yourself next time."
"How did you..."
"I followed you up the hill. What was going on here?"
David finally shook off the shock of the coincidence. "I was trying to find you, Deidre."
Her glowing blade lowered. "How do you know my name?"
"I know many things, emme, and I want to make a deal."
END OF ACT ONE
Text Copyright © 2000 by Marcus Johnston. All Rights Reserved.