“Alistair said he would deal with it tonight.” Perched on the railings next to the helipad on the roof of Goodwin tower the following night, Jed looked uneasy. Perhaps it was the squad of armoured ghouls who lounged nearby, tacitly ignoring his presence. Shen leaned against the railings, his perfect black hair flowing in the wind, and Jack picked his teeth with his nails.
“You’re not going with your master?” Olivia asked. She had little desire to butt heads with Victor’s personal army, but she had imagined that the justicar would have taken his winged assistant with him.
Jed prickled. “He’s not my master. I am not a slave.”
Olivia laughed. “What then? Leader? Chief? Employer? Boss?”
“Justicar. But boss works too,” Jed admitted.
“Ok, then. You’re not going with your boss.”
“That’s right,” said Jed. “He told me to watch over the city.”
Jack cleared his throat. “If you’re looking for something to do, I talked to some of my old friends last night,” he said. “The homeless in this city are pretty fucked right now.”
Olivia blinked. “You mean the overpopulation problem?”
As one, the others looked at Jack, who shrugged. “Dunno. All I know is there are loads of people dying, and someone’s working pretty hard to cover it up. It might be kindred, might not be.”
Olivia tilted her head, considering. “If we set up a safe spot for them, could you get them there?”
Jack scratched his chin. “Maybe. There are some that don’t trust shelters, but if it’s that or be murdered, they might come.”
“Good,” Olivia nodded. “You guys talk to Charles, get a refuge set up in one of the warehouses down by the docks.” Charles was one of Shen’s ghouls, Goodwin’s finance director.
“You own warehouses?” asked Jack.
“I own warehouses,” said Olivia. “Arrange food, water, sanitation, blankets, that kind of thing. Humanitarian aid.” She turned on her heel, heading inside.
“Wait, what are you gonna do tonight?” Jack called after her.
Olivia looked grim. “Take care of the other side of the problem.”
The vampire hunter Balrus ran two nightclubs in Grimouth. The first, the Hunter’s Lodge, had near permanent pyrotechnics displays in the front. Thankfully, the second, Afterlife, did not.
The nosferatu would be watching it, of course, but Olivia was beyond caring about that. Let them watch. She squared her shoulders as she walked in.
Balrus met her at the door, his expression stern. He stood a head and a shoulder taller than her, his shoulders broad and muscular under his white jacket.
“You got somewhere private we can talk?”
“Yeah,” Balrus nodded and guided her through the club to the back office. His grace was evident even in how he walked, the care with with which he opened the door. His aura was shot through with gold, coalescing at his head to form a halo behind his slick black hair. Olivia took a seat, hands folded in her lap.
“I’ve got a proposal for you, Balrus.”
“Oh?” The hunter’s dark eyes were solemn. “I’ve got a thing or two to say to you too, Olivia.”
Their eyes met a moment, and Olivia caught a flash of reproach. She swallowed, ploughing on. “The overpopulation problem. There are people dying.”
Balrus looked irritated. “I knew that. And you know I can’t do anything about the vampires without breaking the truce.”
“That’s not what I’m asking,” Olivia shook her head. “What I’m asking is something with a more… humanitarian bent. I’ve set up a safe space for the homeless population, but I need an alternate food source for the kindred that were feeding from them.”
Balrus tilted his head, quizzical. “You want me to feed the vampires.”
“Pretty much, yeah,” said Olivia. “It can’t be me- the Camarilla would see it as a power grab and the hunters would see it as an open invitation to stake anyone who came to me. You’re the only one who can credibly hold off both sides.” She paused. “It’ll save lives. And it’ll only be a temporary thing- long enough for us to find out what’s causing this mess. I’m willing to channel funds-”
Balrus waved his hand. “I don’t need your money, Olivia.”
“But you’ll do what I ask?”
Balrus sighed. “I’ll think about it. No promises.” He looked at her again, and she caught another flash of reproach, this time coupled with deep disappointment and sorrow. “You should go.”