For a lot of people, Adam Thurston’s election as mayor meant the unemployment line. Many of his staffers and volunteers now had to find other things to do, since Adam was loathe to fill his administrative and advisory positions with people who helped him win the campaign. Fortunately, Spencer Matthews was an exception; he relished knowing he would likely become the mayor’s most trusted adviser.
All those months of hard work, all those missed classes at Northwestern, paid off. Spencer was now footsteps from the city’s most powerful position; he had more access to the mayor than anyone else in Chicago--even his wife Nicole.
Such access had its advantages...particularly when one had designs on bringing down the mayor. Spencer had nothing against Adam on a personal level--he agreed with the mayor’s staunch anti-vampire message, and Adam seemed like a decent enough guy. But that decency would be his downfall, because being mayor meant having power--and Spencer wanted that power.
And he didn’t have the decency to keep himself in check. Nor did he have a family to keep him in line. Whatever Spencer wanted, Spencer got...because he wouldn’t have it any other way.
( Going out or staying in? )
"So, what do you think? Bang Fangers tonight?"
Diana blinked, her eyes still on her Sidekick. She looked up, squinting in the bright autumn sun. "Huh? Banging what?" She rooted through her purse and pulled out her D&G sunglasses. Her eyes still hadn't adjusted, the consequence of being stuck in flourescent high school hell for eight hours.
Amanda rolled her own eyes and plucked the cell phone from her friend's hands. "The vampire bar, duh. Remember at lunch, when I told you I was tired of all these stupid clubs and dances...how they're all the same? And that I wanted to try something new, and exciting?" The brunette looked down at Diana's phone, reading the text that was still on the screen.
"You didn't tell me that your parents were still fighting."
( Eye of the Storm )
|Whatever You Say
The restaurant had been rented out so that it was closed to the general public. There were only two members of the wait-staff present, and no need for any cooks. A simple table was in the middle of the dining room, set with two bottles of Tru Blood. Finn Howard was nursing his, his eyes scanning the door. Members of his nest acted as guards, two inside the restaurant and two stationed outside.
This meeting had been a long time coming. Being relatively new as acting sheriff, Finn had decided to wait before meeting the other half of the city’s head authority. Rumor had it their goals and manners of operating were not quite on the same level. The vampire hoped they could discuss these issues reasonably.
Maxwell Clarke never went anywhere without his human companion, a 18-year-old redhead named Emily. She proved useful in tight spots, given her background in Tae Kwon Do and thrice-weekly diet of the sheriff’s blood. Her disturbing devotion to all things undead also served its purpose, though Maxwell wished she would leave him be from time to time.
When one of the vampire guards outside the restaurant stopped Maxwell and Emily, the sheriff bore his fangs. Watching the guard recoil, Maxwell glanced over his shoulder at his companion, motioning for her to join him. The sheriff crossed the threshold, dreadlocks flowing to the middle of his back, draped over his black leather coat.
( It's Not My Birthday )
[NPC Emily written by Jeff]
She was beginning to get a headache from the flash photography. Nicole turned her back, cupped a hand over her eyes briefly, and turned back, her photogenic smile renewed, for now. The pregnant woman put a hand on her husband’s shoulder, and could immediately feel how tense it was, despite the huge victory they had just experienced two hours earlier. It was the post-election party now, and the captive audience of campaign affiliates, press and close friends were calling for Adam to speak.
Taking a quick sip of seltzer water, her green eyes scanned the packed banquet room. She was standing behind a long white-clothed table with the newly-elected mayor of Chicago. A moment they had both been dreaming of for a very long time. What Nicole wanted the most, though, was to go back home, get into bed and watch something mindless and fluffy on their wall-mounted television. However, none of that was allowed to show on her face.
Sensing that his wife was feeling less than her usual chipper self, Adam Thurston gave Nicole’s temple a soft peck of the lips, smiling and waving at the cameras and the horde of supporters behind them. The flashbulbs no longer affected the mayor-elect’s eyes, which wore purple bags from lack of sleep. A few days’ worth of stubble littered his face, long campaign hours winning the battle over the need to shave.
Red tie hung loose around his neck, Adam removed his gray blazer. Folding it over his arm, Adam handed the garment to his wife, placing a hand on her stomach and giving her a warm kiss.
( We did it. )
[NPCs Nicole Thurston and Edward Reichs written by Jessica.]
Warren was poetry in motion with a sword in his hands. Decades of training, both in America and in Japan, made him one of the most dangerous men to ever wield a katana. The fact that he had this blade custom-made with a durable brand of silver made the vampire hunter even more dangerous.
Every time the blade sliced into undead flesh, primal screams echoed into the night. Warren couldn’t even see the carnage he was dishing out, the sword and his body a blur as he spun and ducked, side-stepped and twirled. Warren would’ve been horribly overmatched against two vampires 10 years ago; now, it was just another night at the office.
He felt the blood splatter onto his face, caught sight of a female arm reaching out for him. Warren sucked, glaring at the redhead baring her fangs before sinking his blade into her gut. The monster screamed and doubled over, slashing her long fingernails across Warren’s face. The vampire hunter grunted at the pain, twisting the blade in the vampire’s stomach before yanking the sword free.
The scream grew so loud, it pierced Warren’s ears. The echo bouncing off the walls of the damp alley would surely be noticed. He’d have to hurry this along.
( So much easier on TV )
Usually Julianna worked out at the facilities that the Fellowship provided for their soldiers, but tonight she had wanted the privacy that being around her peers didn't afford her. The after-work hours made the gym incredibly busy, but she knew none of the people there, so it was fine for her needs. The brunette exited the fitness center, her post-shower damp hair pulled into a messy ponytail and bag slung over her shoulder. She took in a deep breath of the cold air, her arms crossing over her chest as she leaned against a wall and watched people streaming past her, catching cabs and heading to the nearby train station. She scratched her leg with a sneakered foot and sighed.
In truth, she was delaying the inevitable. Her brother had left a note before he had headed out to school in the morning -- unlike her, he was determined to finish high school -- saying he needed to talk to Julianna later that night. Well, it was later now, and her feet felt like concrete. She knew Drake would be disappointed in her if she didn't show, but she couldn't bring herself to get on the Red Line and head home. Mostly because she had an inkling of what he wanted to talk about.
Theresa had actually just come off of the Red, and she pulled her red hoodie tighter around herself as she finished climbing the stairs to the street. She felt like she was never going to get used to how this place smelled. Inside her pocket, her hand closed around the thick leather wallet she was now carrying. There had to be a good three hundred dollars in the billfold, the light-green bills tucked safely out of sight. Her last customer the night before had taken forever to get off, so she'd lifted his wallet out of his expensive jacket before she left. If nothing else, the money would come in handy, and who was he going to tell?
( Lessons )
Julianna felt numb, but along with that numbness came a certain type of clarity. She could see the path laid out before her, and while it terrified her, she knew it was what she must do. The brunette stood outside their small house -- it was more like a cabin, really -- that was nestled on the 'campus' of the Soldiers of the Sun. The cold metal of keys were between her shaking fingers. There a was a lone light shining in the darkness; it came from Drake's tiny bedroom. The brunette took a deep breath, choking slightly on the cold November air. Sliding the key into the lock, she entered what was supposed to be her home.
Hanging her jacket on the hook beside the front door, it was with tentative steps that she climbed up the small set of stairs. The second floor was an addition to the dwelling, and it never really fit right. But that was where their bedrooms were. Downstairs was a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a living room that was just big enough for a sofa and a television.
"Drake?," she called out. "Did you fall asleep with the light on again?" Julianna checked her watch. 5:07 AM. The sun would be rising soon, and her younger brother would begin his daily routine. Bathroom, shower, breakfast, ride his bike to school. The same routine he had when their mother was still their mother, before they knew what real monsters looked like.
A door to her right cracked open, and a teenage boy peered out, disheveled hair hanging in his tired-looking eyes. "Juli," he said, using the family-bestowed name that still awoke a pang of longing inside her. "You said you'd be home by eight. I didn't think that meant in the AM." He stepped out into the small hallway, dressed in a rumpled band t-shirt and sweatpants.
( On Your Own )
( I want )
[Submitted by Jeff.]
"Get the car," Adam said, handing his keys to Spencer and loosening his yellow tie, "and bring it around front."
Standing on the sidewalk of 57th Street, Adam gave a self-satisfied smile as his top aide disappeared around the corner. His speech to a group of donors throughout the state -- and a few special guests from Washington who were keeping an interested eye on the race -- had practically filled the staff area of the Regenstein Library on the campus of the University of Chicago. The content of the speech had revealed nothing new; Adam liked to keep his message as consistent as possible, only changing as current events dictated. Still, the point of the evening wasn't the words spoken ... it was how much money could be raised and how much support could be drummed up.
All the attendees were already supporters -- wealthy ones, at that -- but the speech served as a message for those supporters to take back to their constituents in the hopes of getting them to pledge their support as well. Though Adam was running for mayor of Chicago, he wasn't about to turn down support from elsewhere in the state of Illinois and other parts of the country. In American politics, support often equaled money.
Money also equaled influence, particularly when the press had been locked out and the message remained pure.
( All well and good )
The firestorm over Adam's confrontation with reporter Eugene Mauk didn't get nearly the coverage he expected -- probably because of a well-timed gaffe on the part of his campaign opponent, something involving use of an ethnic slur -- which suited him just fine. Particularly as he sat in the black leather chair in his personal office at his estate, thumb and index finger resting against his left cheek.
The security tape was grainy and black and white. That made getting a solid look at the woman who somehow weaseled her way into the house and stole Nicole's fertility drugs a bit difficult. Even as he paused the video, and leaned forward with a concentrated squint, Adam couldn't make anything out other than the woman's jet-black hair and her figure-hugging business suit.
No camera angle gave a good, close-up view of the woman's face. Even the police admitted getting an I.D. from the video feed would be nearly impossible, despite the high-tech equipment at the department's disposal. Adam shook his head, pausing the video and leaning in even closer.
Still, details were elusive. Long black hair, tight suit. A female. Nothing unique to help establish identity.
( What's the occasion? )
[NPC Nicole Thurston was written by Jessica.]
One of the problems with running for office? Just about everything that happens to you becomes fodder for public discourse, no matter how trivial and inconsequential. Adam came to Navy Pier expecting a breakfast/pep rally, where he would speak to a large group of supporters and look good for the cameras.
These things were ultimately inconsequential -- the people who attended these get-togethers were likely already supporters -- but it did make for nice video and softball articles that had the potential to make undecided voters a little more likely to jump on board. Adam figured there were more important ways to be using his time in the waning weeks of the campaign, but if his advisors said he needed to attend a breakfast like this, he'd put on his best blazer and do the whole smiling/hand-shaking/kissing-babies thing.
He should've known things would get bad when he saw the familiar face in the front row. Eugene Mauk, a reporter with the Tribune, had been a thorn in the side of Adam and his campaign, taking every opportunity to undercut the campaign's message; it wouldn't surprise Adam if Eugene was secretly on the opponent Fred Rabini's payroll.
A massive conflict of interest, but since when were people upstanding and sincere anymore?
( Not Quite a Teddy Bear )
Julianna had to admit, the chapel on the grounds of the Soldiers of the Sun compound -- housed away from the Fellowship church for numerous reasons -- was pretty. During midday, she could sit in the empty pews and watch the glinting autumn sun play through the stained glass windows. It wasn't big, and it wasn't as ornate as some places of worship, like the Fellowship's main number, a cathedral-type place with sparkling clear skylights, a state of the art sound system and other features designed to get the word out as far as possible.
Vampires are bad, God is good, all rejoice.
It was quiet, and when she was out late and came home in the early hours of the morning, she crept into the building and rode out the last waves of her V high. It was getting cold out, and she could see her own breath in the form of mini puffs of white. Her brother used to call it 'making clouds' when he was little.
What civilians didn't know was that the chapel had a dual purpose. There was a lone skylight up above that opened up like the sun-roof on a car. Directly beneath it was a raised platform with restraints in the form of silver chains. It was for a special ceremony the Fellowship liked to call 'Meet the Dawn.' The idea was to capture a vampire, strap him into it and unveil him to God and the righteous sun, burning him to cinders. Julianna approached it, running her hand over the cold concrete. Using her palms for leverage, she boosted herself up onto it and swung her legs around. She laid back, her dark hair forming a halo around her head, and looked up at the square patch of light.
( Infected )
Julianna was feeling good. She had gone home, changed clothes and taken double her usual dose of V in a fit of reckless abandon and elation at having gotten away with stealing the vials. She had justified the murder of the dealer as the right thing to do, in her mind. She was just doing her part in cleaning up the streets, and while the Fellowship may not know about it, they would probably thank her if they did. Of course, she would leave out the part about pocketing the vamp blood and the cash.
The brunette had decided maybe a night out would complement the buzz nicely, and she had settled on this club. She navigated the dance floor, holding her drink aloft. Most of the music the DJ was spinning had come out before she was born, but she barely even noticed. Everything was brighter, faster, louder and sharper. The people who started V and thought their lives wouldn't change were fooling themselves. Everything changed.
It's hot here at night, lonely, black and quiet
On a hot summer night
Don't be afraid of the world we made
On a hot summer night...
Well, summer was long over until next year, but Billy Idol's voice snaking out of the sound system made it seem like it was going to be August forever. Theresa had stripped out of her jacket and was dancing by herself, the pale flesh of her shoulders accentuated by the narrow sleeves of her black tank top, and she was so zoned out that she might as well have been alone instead of in the middle of a crowd. She got like like that sometimes, especially when she was burning off the last of her latest feed, so unaware of the world around her that she was in danger of walking out into traffic. The perils of eternal teenager-hood.
( Let's Dance )
|Talk to the Dead
"This...is your work space?" The woman looked around the small apartment which was heavily lit with flickering candles, and clutched her purse. "It's a fourth floor walk-up. You didn't tell me that on the telephone." Her name was 'just Laura', as she didn't want Jamie to know her last name. "I'm quite well-known in certain social circles," she had explained, "And while I'm sure you wouldn't be familiar with these circles, one can never be too sure." Just Laura patted down her hair that was damp from the autumn drizzle outside and crossed her arms.
"This is it," Jamie confirmed, gesturing to a small, round wooden table at the center of the main living area. The surface was blank except for a long, skinny black candle at the center. Usually, she wouldn't put up with some wannabe upper-class twit talking down to her, but Laura was paying double the usual rate. "Sit across from me...please."
The older woman did as she was asked, crossing her legs nervously and staring at Jamie expectantly. "I need to know his secrets. He was very tight-lipped in life, my husband, and he left no clues behind. Just pages and pages of financial documents, and those hardly paint the picture that I need. I just...need to know."
Leaning forward, Jamie lit the black candle. "Well, Laura, I have to warn you: your husband will only share what he's willing to. He could still be clinging to vestiges of his life. Usually, it takes more than one session to get men in particular to open up; that's why I generously offer a second session, free of charge. However, any sessions after that, and I charge full price again." She looked at the woman across from her. "Are you ready? It isn't too late to back out."
( Presence )
The last thing Theresa had expected to find in Chicago was an eighties club. The city hadn't seemed retro enough for it at first, but the second she opened the doors and heard the blast of old school hair metal coming through the speakers she believed she might have found a decent place to hang out. The vampire squeezed through the crowd and found a table near the back, where she asked for and received a Coke. She'd already eaten that night, and the cash in her pocket was practically bellowing to be spent. The song changed just as she sat down, and one shoe tapped a rhythm on the floor as she poked at the ice cubes in her glass.
Maybe this place wouldn't be worse than the final death after all.
Finn didn't like being surrounded by people he didn't know. When he was at his nest, there were always a dozen vampires or more, ready to defend him and his home. It was the privilege that being sheriff of Area Two afforded him. But here, in a new, strange place, there were none such benefits to be had. And so he had to fit in, keep a low profile, and all of those things that he detested. While he was quite certain he could take out the beefed up bouncers who were one step below rent-a-cops, that wouldn't look very good for his kind.
That didn't mean, however, that he had to hide being a vampire. Thanks to Chicago's more liberal nature, it was one of the cities that was slowly getting on board with the Vampire Rights Amendment, and harassing a vampire was already illegal. Finn ordered a bottle of Tru Blood from the bar, B negative, and took a seat on a stool in an area that provided him with a nearly 360 degree view of the club.
( Very New Age )
|On The Stroll
|Tina Toledo's Street Walkin' Blues - Ryan Adams|
Even without a mirror, Theresa knows what she looks like.
Tonight its a demure skirt and white button-up blouse, plain white socks and brand new tennis shoes. Preppy without being too Catholic-schoolgirl. The last thing she needs tonight is to attract some do-gooder who just wants to save her soul. One ankle crossed over the other, she drinks her second Coke in between pauses to fiddle with the plastic straw. She looks young and fresh-faced, like she just got off the bus. Innocent.
Chicago is a dirty city. Dirtier even than Hollywood, but maybe that's just the cold. Early October now and the wind pealing off the lake has a definite bite to it. Not that Theresa cares. She'd seen worse when she was still living in California, and at least the place where she sleeps during the day is private and she can draw the curtains against the day. The ice cubes rattle in her nearly empty glass. She abandons the straw. There's a guy in the booth near the door, and he's been watching her. Outwardly he's twice her age or even more, and the way he keeps pulling his eyes away from her when she glances his way would have been enough to make her snicker if she wasn't keeping up the act. Hookers come in here all the time to pick up guys, it isn't like she's the first to try it. She's just a little....different than the average girl. If he knew the truth, it'd probably just make him harder.
It's one in the morning. Dawn comes later now that it's fall, which means she won't have to rush home. There have been three clients already, but all of them were pretty quick on the trigger. Theresa doesn't care about that either. If time is money, the quicker the job gets done, the faster she gets paid. Money or blood. As the old saying used to go, 'grass. gas, or ass, no one rides for free.' That goes double for her now.
There's a newspaper on the counter next to her. Theresa looks at the headline. Something about the Fellowship of the Sun, she doesn't read the whole thing. Pious fuckers, worse than any Jimmy Swaggart wanna-be. It used to be easier to be a vampire. Zealots ruin everything.
She slips off of the stool, looks at her watch. The overhead lights reflect off of Booth Guy's eyeglasses. If she squints, he looks a little like her dad used to look. Kinky. Adopting a faintly nervous expression, Theresa sidles towards the door, stopping only because he half-rises from his seat to get her attention. He beckons her over hesitantly, and she lets a puzzled frown crease her brow before taking that first step nearer. Like she couldn't possibly know what he wants.
This one's going to pay with blood, she's just decided it for him.
She had to pull the car over to throw up. Having borrowed it from her friend Mina, the only other female in the Chicago branch of the Soldiers of the Sun, Julianna didn't want to pay her back by getting puke all over the seats. So she pulled over to the side of the road, opened the door and leaned over, heaving onto the curb. After a few moments of this, the brunette sat up straight again and wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her black hooded sweatshirt. She grabbed a bottle of warm Coca-Cola that was sitting in the cup holder, took a swig of the soda and spit it out onto the sidewalk to rid her mouth of the vile, acidic taste.
She checked her face in the vanity mirror and frowned. This was no way to meet a dealer, when one was a young female and had very little cash. Julianna let her hair out of her ponytail, shook it out and unzipped her sweatshirt. She was wearing a red athletic tank top underneath. That would have to do. She wasn't going to slut herself out, no matter how desperate she was. And she was desperate. The Fellowship wouldn't give her another dose of V until her next patrol, and that wouldn't be for awhile. She had to have two more bullshit counseling sessions, a prayer circle and 'self-reflection' time before she was let back out on the street again. That fuckwit Craig had to go die on her.
No matter. She was resourceful, and she had found another way. She clicked the mirror back into place and pulled out the slip of crinkled paper from her pocket with the dealer's name and address. He called himself Fox, and he lived about three houses away from where she had pulled over, so she decided to get out there and walk. Julianna was never unarmed, and she had her trusty revolver tucked into the waistband of her jeans and a knife strapped under her tank top. Once she reached the dealer's door, she knocked twice quickly, then once more, the way she had been instructed to.
( How Bad Do You Want It )
[NPC Fox written by Jeff]
"Where the hell is he?" Julianna checked her watch for the fortieth time, pacing back and forth in the empty gravel lot. It was night, and she was in an area where the only residents within a two-mile radius were a mechanic shop and a closed-down diner. She was supposed to have back-up, but there was no sight of him. She unzipped her black jacket, revealing a long, looping silver chain around her neck, a white tank top and a belt equipped with a holster. From the holster, she withdrew a revolver, checking the clip inside. Silver bullets. Julianna would have rather had wooden ones, but those really only worked if she had a direct kill-shot. A wooden bullet in the arm of a vampire was useless; a silver bullet would at least distract him and hopefully cause him a whole hell of a lot of pain.
The soldier took a few deep breaths. A half-hour previously, she had downed two tabs of V and it was hitting her system. Thankfully, she had been doing it long enough so that she no longer had the hallucinations. That would have gotten in the way of the main purpose.
Things were a lot easier before the Great Revelation.
Earl had been a vampire for just over 11 years, and up until three years ago, he had things pretty good. He'd stalk around at night, nab himself a nice meal or two, and nobody was ever the wiser. He could pretty much come and go as he pleased once the sun set, but now that the proverbial undead cat was out of the bag, he had to be responsible and careful.
( Bullets and Stakes )
[NPC Earl written by Jeff]
Thurston campaign headquarters, nestled in the center of downtown Chicago, in the heart of all the action, was usually dead silent at 11:30 p.m. Even though a political campaign was usually a 24-hour operation -- particularly in a position as high-profile as mayor of Chicago -- much of what went on after-hours took place outside of campaign headquarters and in the realm of 24-hour cable news and the Internet.
Simply put, Spencer had no qualms with bringing Jamie to headquarters for an after-hours romp. No one was around to catch them, so why not spice things up a little and give her a larger taste of the power Spencer himself was but inches away from? If she found that sort of thing sexy, it would prove advantageous to him.
Flipping on the lights, Spence glanced over his right shoulder with a grin. "Here it is," he said, turning to face Jamie and spread his arms. "Ground zero. Where roughly 84 percent of the action happens."
A red tie hung loosely from Spencer's white shirt. He hadn't yet changed out of his suit; Spencer spent so much time in it of late, he felt odd wearing anything else. Naturally, though, the Georgetown grad had no such qualms when wearing nothing at all.
( Home Away From Home Away From Home )
[NPC Spencer was written by Jeff.]