Disclaimer: I don't own BTVS or Kindred, 'nuff said.
Author's Note: This is all Shannon's fault. Not much here, though, just a teaser and prologue. The actual First Chapter will be up soon. And, for the record, this is a few months before NLTZ 3. Eddie Fiori is still alive and still the Brujah Primogen (though that will change soon). Prologue
Eddie Fiori was furious...no...that was not quite correct. For if he were furious, he would have lost his temper, reached across the desk and snapped the neck of the well dressed man standing in front of him, which would be a bad thing because losing a member of the herd would hurt the clan as a whole and to be honest, the man was just doing his job. Unfortunately, that job not only included being one of Fiori's key legal consultants, but also the unpleasant task of being the bearer of bad news. And, as was starting to be a regular occurrence, the bad news consisted of a certain annoying member of the Gangrel Clan named Alexander Harris.
Alexander Harris, a relatively new member of the Kindred and yet one of the most dangerous members of the Gangrel clan. Only a few years on the scene and the boy had garnered himself quite a reputation as a ruthless enforcer and had been personally responsible for destroying some operations Eddie had been backing. It was rumored that before he became Kindred, Harris had already spent several years fighting Primordials and other various demons. He had been an excellent addition to the Gangrel clan and Eddie couldn't help cursing at whatever unnamed deity had been responsible for the day Alexander Harris had simply "stumbled" into a Gangrel bar.
And he cursed again as he listened to Layton's report. This time, Harris and crew had intercepted an artifact that Eddie had paid good money (and other things) for. Some Ve'stharyl demons claimed they had acquired something that Sumerian texts had referred to as "the silencer of the gods". For a reasonable sum and some "raw materials" (which meant live fresh humans), the demons were willing to part with the artifact and even deliver it to San Francisco. However, the Prince had somehow learned of the presence of the Ve'stharyl demons and immediately sent his little pack of Gangrel sycophants out to the port to investigate before the business deal could be transacted. To say that it had become a bloodbath would have been too cliché, but that's what exacty had happened as Cash, the Gangrel Primogen, and his little pack killed the Ve'stharyl and Alexander Harris destroyed the artifact...destroyed it! What kind of fool would throw away that kind of power?
But Eddie Fiori knew better. Knowing Harris, the bastard probably felt it best to destroy the artifact and preserve the status quo.
His control, which was actually quite impressive contrary to his reputation outside the clan, finally slipped and he slammed his fist into his desk, leaving a nice hole in the oak desktop that dated back to 1930s Chicago.
"That little bastard has caused me more problems than the Primogen whose boots he licks," he snarled.
"That may be, sir, but declaring an all out war on the Gangrel would not be wise, especially after..." Layton hesitated for a moment as he tried to think of a way to delicately phrase the situation, "....esepecially after the incident with Luna's niece."
Eddie was annoyed and impressed. The last time someone mentioned his failed attempt to incite a war, he had snapped their neck, but Layton's deliberate double faux-pas at mentioning the incident and referring to Luna by name instead of title made it obvious that he had more backbone than the average human. There is a dangerous man behind that cultured facade,
Eddie reminded himself...something he had done more than once when dealing with Layton.
Though Layton had only been employed by Eddie for less than a year, the man actually gathered something of a reputation among the Brujah Kindred. Yes, he was a lawyer, but there weren't many lawyers out there who were willing to get their hands dirty by killing someone, especially so coldly. In fact, Layton had done some things that hinted that he was much more than just a lawyer and his loyalty to Eddie was unquestionable, but there was something about the man that made Eddie hesitate at embracing the man in to the clan.
"Harris has become quite the pain in the ass," growled Eddie as he looked out at the other Kindred that had gathered in his office, noting that those three had chosen to distance themselves away from Layton....after all, he was only Herd to them. "Do any of you have anything to say? Aside from Walter, you've been silent."
"Well, the blood-sack summed things up very nicely," said one Brujah whose name was Franklin. The man was quite large, taller and bigger than Eddie himself, but it seemed that he was embraced more for his brawn and obviously not for his brains. "As he said, we can't risk a war right now."
Cameron, another Brujah, calmly stood there for a moment. Like Franklin, he also presented a big and intimidating presence but, unlike his blood-brother, he actually had a brain and Eddie could tell that he was thinking about something. He was about to say something, but the third member of the group called Roger spoke first.
"Perhaps if we were to contract someone from outside...Assamites for example."
Cameron and Franklin both looked at Roger like he had gone insane. Eddie was actually impressed at the man's audacity to bring them in. Walter also seemed intrigued by the suggestion, which struck Eddie as odd since non-Kindred really weren't privy to that kind of knowledge. "Something on your mind, Walter?"
"Actually, I agree with Mr. Tyler. Perhaps it would be wise to hire an outsider, someone who is familiar but not, shall we say, connected with your world."
Eddie knew immediately what Walter was alluding to, but was certain the others had not caught on...except maybe for Cameron who gave the human a wary look, one a predator would have when it realized its intended prey was far more dangerous than first perceived.
"Are you still in contact with them, Walter?" asked Eddie.
"I may be an outcast by their standards, sir," replied Walker, "but there are a couple relatives who will do the job for the right price."
"An outcast, blood-sack?" snarled Franklin who was obviously upset that this mere mortal was being given equal standing in this meeting of the Brujah hierarchy. "Boss, I can't believe you're letting this punk in on this, he's just a lawyer."
Walter, to his credit, smiled at the snarling Brujah and shrugged. "So I'm an actual blood-sucker among blood-suckers...so sue me."
Eddie chuckled at Walter's comment and he did find it amusing, but he also noted how Walter had subtly shifted his weight and that he was now intentionally trying to anger Franklin. He studied how the other Brujahs reacted to the mortal in their midst. None of them had actually dealt with Walter this closely until now. Franklin had already made it clear that the "blood-sack" had no right to be in on the meeting and it looked like Roger agreed, but kept silent about it.
Cameron, on the other hand...his reaction was curious. Like the others, he too seemed to dismiss Walter and yet there was a tiny smile on his face as he leaned back against the wall and watched the confrontation take place.
"Besides," continued Walter, "I really haven't heard any suggestions from you, Franklin, aside from 'removing the blood-sack' from this meeting."
Franklin lunged forward at the human, intending to squeeze his hand's around the blood-sack's throat before beating him to a pulp...only to see his target suddenly spin to the side. He caught a flash of something before he felt a sudden searing pain in his back. Then he felt his legs give out from underneath him, forcing him to drop to his knees. It was an odd sensation, why couldn't he feel the lower half of his body? The pain cleared and he saw Walter standing there, some sort of elongated blade protruding out of the sleeve of his jacket, its sharp edge now resting against Franklin's neck.
"I have just severed a major vertebra in your back, Franklin." Even as he spoke, Walter sounded as if he were having a casual conversation. "It will take at least two more minutes for that to heal...enough time to remove your head from your shoulders."
"Walter, that's enough," said Eddie. "Killing Franklin really won't resolve our problems."
The young lawyer stepped away from the fallen Franklin, the long blade sliding back into the right sleeve of his jacket. "My apologies, sir."
"Think nothing of it. Franklin was out of line and I think he learned an important lesson." The Brujah primogen leaned forward, looking down at Franklin. "Now, did we learn anything today, Franklin?"
Franklin managed to drag himself back to his feet, thanks to Roger who assisted him up off the floor. Cameron was still leaning against the wall, not even bothering to hide the grin on his face. "You've been holding out on us, boss," he said. He gave the lawyer a nod of approval. "You're not exactly human, are you?"
Walter only smiled, but offered no reply. Instead, he turned his attention to Eddie and pulled a cell-phone out of his coat. "Shall I make the call, sir?"
Eddie thought about it for a moment. He had a suspicion about Walter's people...their kind, if what he suspected about them was true, must have had ulterior motives. On the other hand, because of their lack of Kindred connections, they did offer a plausible deniability. And despite the uneasiness he felt, his hatred of the Gangrels...Harris in particular...made the decision much easier to make. Besides, if Walter was any indication of what his people were like, they might do more than just take out Harris...they might take out a large chunk of the Gangrels, crippling Luna's powerbase. Yes, there was great risk...but the benefits...
"Yeah...go ahead and make the call, Walter."
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