I look at him as he enters the room, carrying himself with a regal bearing – Jonathan Doe, the self-proclaimed Prince of Angels. Mist flows out around his feet, caressing him with ether tendrils. He is not unnaturally beautiful, as powerful vampires tend to be, nor is he exceptionally old; I believe myself to be a score of years his senior. His black hair is tied into a ponytail, bound by a ribbon of black silk, and though he wears a tailored suit, he looks as if he would be more at home in black leather.
He moves with the grace of a dancer, his gestures polished, his quiet manner of speech bears a disdain that you are you are not his equal, and a quiet joy that he does not hold that against you, and even enjoys your company. His voice, like that of all accomplished actors, holds no accent, and, certainly unnatural, is exceptionally beautiful.
A part of me finds him particularly loathsome, arrogantly sauntering his way into LA with his posse, our new Council of Angels, and declaring himself a Prince of the Camarilla, upsetting the fragile power-structure that makes this city unique from the puppetteering of elders centuries too old. A greater part is filled with respect, awe at the greatness of this man, and a strong need to attend to his desires. My reason, objective in its surgical logic, tells me that this is due solely to the power of his vampiric gift, the preternatural shifting of one’s emotions to his favour.
He sits upon his throne, and lights a cigarette before even turning to face me. His eyes are hidden behind dark glasses, but I doubt they would hold any meaning, even were I able to see them. I shift my sight into the supernatural spectrum, and watches as his aura makes itself plain. I am shocked to see dark tendrils recoiling about him, moving with a life of their own, the black taint of diabolism. His aura shows him to be calm, bored even, and the colours swirl slowly, a sign of madness kept under check.
“I understand you have a matter of some import ?” His tone is dismissive, and I feel a sense of ire grow inside myself.
I inform him of a rival attempting a coup in these times of strife, explaining to him that boundaries set and agreed upon decades ago should be respected and given proper due. Before I am done, he raises an eyebrow and speaks, cutting me off, “You want *me* to settle your petty disputes ?” He looks at me as if I had just proclaimed myself his sire and ordered him to go fetch the evening papers.
“Oh, remove that shocked look from your face. What do you fancy me now, a drooling old Ventrue with nothing better to do with these long nights than to listen to your Brujah whining ?” He pauses, then cuts me off again as I begin to stammer a reply, “If this rival of yours is so confident in his abilities in ruling a larger barony, then so be it, I decree your baronies merge, you shall henceforth serve as his right hand.” He gets up and turns to leave, muttering to himself, “Important matter indeed…”
Something inside me snaps, almost audibly, and I feel the Beast Within awaken, that vampiric ‘soul’ inside us that is hunger and hatred. My vision clouds into a red mist and I hear a low growling. As what remains of my humanity subsides, I see him for what he truly is, a young fledgling, fallen into hubris, confusing the adoration gleaned from his stolen blood as real adoration for his self, soft and weak, roadkill according to Darwin.
Involuntarily, I feel my hands turn to claws, and I harness the power of the blood, making myself stronger, faster. I hear a howl of rage, and I find myself leaping toward him.
“Down, boy.” He gestures as one would a dog, telling it to sit.
Like a switch has been flicked, the red anger, all consuming before, is replaced with incredible self-loathing. I crash to the floor at his feet, and I remember, more vividly than ever before, of my years as a mortal, too long ago. I see again the face of my pleading wife, through the eyes of the drunk I used to be, as I hit her, again and again and again. I hear her apologise, between sobs, for letting my dinner get cold, saying the baby has been crying. I remember the look on her face, as she realises she had just said something she should not have, and her sobbing pleas as I kick her aside. I know she’s not my child, no one in my family has hair that colour, and no baby of mine cries when I want to play with her. No baby of mine cries after a long day at work, picked on and bullied by my so-called superiors. I tell myself that as I slam the door open, and when she starts to wail again I decide to shut her up once and for all. No child of mine cries that much.
I see him through bloodied eyes, crimson tears streaking down my face, and I realise that I had told him that she was my child after all, that medical proof found its way into my hands years later, in an unmarked envelope.
He nods at me, yes. “Calm down, enough.”
Again, like one would a remote control, I feel my misery evaporate. My thoughts return further backward, to the first time I saw my wife, at a political rally, shouting her lungs out, during those college days of idealism. I remember the first time we made love, and the sensuous pleasure of living flesh, now forever denied. I remember our honeymoon, and the feel of her lips, that light ghost touch around me, surrounding me, fulfilling me.
I feel my self, the self in the here and now, fill up with pleasure, responding to my memories with ecstasy, as if the me-now and the me-then were one and the same, together nearing euphoria.
Then the memory fades, and I cannot bring it back, I cannot again remember how it felt. My mind connects, and I look up to see him, sitting again on his throne, watching me. Could he be so powerful that he can return us to mortal pleasure, that sublime orgasm now replaced solely by the joy provided only by murder ?
He nods, as if, and quite likely, he were reading my thoughts.
A sudden chill ran through me, fear for my life, or, worse, that he would subject me to the blood bond, binding me in a jail far more cruel than any mortal cage, because we have no death to give us hope. I no longer knew if what I felt was of my own volition, and I was afraid because of that too.
I could not bring myself to disrespect him by running out. It took all of my strength to simply look away, but having done so, I found also the strength to run out. Out of the building, out of his presence.
And as I left, I heard him say, “When I need you, you cannot run.”
“You mess with me, you mess with the ’Jills!”
– ‘Steel’ Malone, after trashing six HIT Marks in as many seconds.
– The rest of the ’Jills, crippled and near torpor.
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