In which Shen makes some friends

That night they hunted kindred.

Olivia trailed Jack, the darkness lending slickness to her veil. They’d cleared most of the remaining transients out, and the park was quiet, for the most part. Jed circled overhead, or claimed to, unseen and unheard.
Ahead of you. About twenty feet.
Two pale auras, hunger lending them a reddish tinge, lurked behind the bushes as Jack ambled forwards. Drawing closer, Olivia could make out indecision, too, a little fear. They were both male, early twenties, one dark-haired, one blond, and as far as Goodwin glass could tell from their social media profiles, they had been alive until recently.
They think you’re too strong. Pretend to pass out or something.
Checking his phone, Jack complied, stumbling in a circle before sitting down cross-legged on the floor.
He was still too big for them. The fear intensified, overwhelming the tinge of hunger, and Olivia swore under her breath as the pair turned to flee. She followed as Jack scrambled to his feet.
Jed, you see these guys?
There was a delay before the reply, Jed’s voice crackling in her earpiece. “Yes. I see them. Following. They’re heading west, into the industrial estate.”
“I’ll bring the van round.” Shen’s transmission was clearer. It didn’t take much co-ordination to round them up, Jed running them down from above, the air from his wings on their backs, and Shen waiting calmly with two large dogs at the end of a narrow alleyway. They screamed and cowered as Jed landed behind them, sword drawn.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” said Shen. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but this is a Camarilla city, and we don’t just kill the kine and leave their bodies lying around in a Camarilla city.”
“Cama-what?” The blond raised his hands, his companion mouthing a silent prayer. “Please, we didn’t do anything. They just- they just died.”
Shen narrowed his eyes. “Speaking as both a physician and a vampire, I find that unlikely.”
Olivia broke her veil. “Glass says they’re new kids, Shen.”

The pair said nothing, but stared at Shen, stepping back against the wall as he approached, and Olivia saw their auras spike with fear.
Shen’s voice was gentle, and he raised his free hand. “I’m not going to hurt you. Can you tell me who you are?”
“I’m Tony, and this is Clive.” The blond indicated his companion.
Shen nodded. “Ok then. Do you know your sire? The masquerade? Has no-one taught you how to feed without killing?”
Clive’s eyes widened. “No! How do you- how do you feed without-?” His question trailed off.
“When you take just enough,” said Shen. “No more.”
“We do. We do take just enough, but they just… die.” Clive spread his hands.
“Interesting.” Shen pursed his lips, eyes alight with the thrill of a medical mystery. “How often do you need to feed?”
The pair exchanged a glance. “Every night,” said Clive.
“We’re always hungry,” added Tony quietly. “It’s like there’s something inside of me, clawing at my belly.”
“You’re hungry now?” asked Shen.
Mutely, they nodded.
Shen reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of coins. “Take these,” he said. “Put them under your tongues. They’ll make you feel better.”
They took the gift and their expressions shifted to something akin to bliss as the blood filled their mouths. Shen’s blood.
Shen smiled. “See? Much better.”

The story they told of their lives post Embrace was a dark one, their narrative fractured. They had met their sire, the man who would Embrace them, on a night out, had debauched with him, had been Embraced and discarded.
Once aware of their condition, they had found others like them, had grouped with them for safety in a nest thirty strong. They had thought they were safe, until the scourge’s men had come for them. The killers had trapped them in their nest, had staked those that begged for their lives, decapitated the rest. Their testimony was halting here, as the pair stumbled over the descriptions of the deaths of their friends, the horror of it still fresh on their faces. Olivia closed her eyes, feeling sick. Surely amiable, fatherly Dante wasn’t capable of orchestrating the slaughter they described? They had escaped with the use of their illusion magic, had decided that their best chances of surviving lay with working together.
And they had hunted. Physically weak, they had picked easy targets; the old, the weak, the drunk. They had seen more than one victim die.
Shen shook his head sadly. “Anemia clusters,” he said. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Watching the alleyway behind them, Olivia caught a flicker of movement. She frowned, focusing, and she felt a shivering rush as her perception broke the opposing veil. A tall, white-haired malkavian stood in the yellow light of the streetlamp, smirking slightly.
Olivia looked between the malk and the thinbloods, panic rising. “You’re not-”
“Relax,” the malk shook his head. “Dante doesn’t give a shit if two little rats get away.” He reached inside his coat and pulled out a small envelope. “This is for you.”
“Um, thanks.” Olivia blinked, taking it.
“No probs.” The malk sauntered away, shaking his head, and Olivia caught him muttering to himself. -crazy fuck Dante. How the fuck did you know she’d be there.

Shen looked up from his captives. “What was that?”
Olivia shrugged, digging about in her bag for her letter-opener. “Some kind of message from Dante.”

The letter was written on expensive cream paper, in Dante’s sloping doctor’s script, and Olivia’s heart sank as she read.

Olivia,
I find my presence required as both scourge and primogen tonight. As I lack the capability to be in two places at once, I must ask you to act in my stead for one of these.
Go to Grimouth beach at midnight.
Dante.

 

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