Morgan pulled from a deep reserve of his own and ventured, "What precisely are you proposing that we do, Harry?"
"Ah, Morgan, we need to figure out how many creatures were sent by the Council. Less we get distracted, don't forget that others will use the ensuing upheavals and chaos to further their own agendas. Bethany, you want to chime in yet?" Harry sat down and addressed part of what I'd begun to put together. I shook my head while thinking about what distractions do allow in. During slaughterings historically there were always grabs for power. Less resources needed by leaders of the bad actors, rogue elements, who loved to piggyback on hostile takeovers. Sweet coup d'état or 'blow of state' -- all about removing existing power structures violently and decisively which often created gaps in the ebb and flow in the scenery. Rogues took advantage of others because as hard core science rings in with the fact that nature abhors a vacuum. Unrecognized Masters stepped up their own clans and like hyenas they culled the outsiders in the clans who were being attacked.
In Europe, the pincher moves were commonplace -- pretty much to be expected in wars and battles. As sanctioned and approved vampires of the reigning Council, my Master and Harry often put lesser vampires into the fray as pawns to sacrifice or as pawns to be crowned. The ultimate vampire long games with deep rewards or painful losses. Here in the States most of the coups were mere ripples in the waters. The Council hadn't seemed to care about what happened here in the past. But now we were on notice all of that was about to change on a larger scale than ever before amongst vampires and supers.
Jasmine finally stopped stuffing her face. Hell, the plates were damn near licked clean, the bones stripped nude, cracked and sucked dry of their marrow. She was licking her fingertips with a feline grace. Once she saw that we were all looking to her she'd hummed beneath her breath a bit then said, "And like who is watching Kenyon Huston?"
Jasmine wasn't just a pretty face after all. She hit the nail on its head rather directly I thought. Her mind had been paralleling mine when it came to hyenas picking off the weak while the battle was being fought. Harry looked disturbed. I didn't play with the locals but even I had heard Kenyon was a mesmerizing self-appointed Master who ran a club in the downtown area called Dark Whispers.
I wasn't at all interested in random hook-up sex that his club was well known for -- hell, they damn near put it on the door from what I'd been told. Clubgoers went there to offer themselves as delectable treats for assorted vampires and supernatural patrons -- on purpose at times, not so at other times. I was personally way too old and independent to wander into such sordid establishments.
Kenyon was big into self-promotion and was pleased to have patrons who were vampires drop into his club. I'd heard from Jason who directed me to the Dark Web to the postings in a vampire-run site that Kenyon encouraged vampires to visit and damn near kiss his ring or some such Old World ostentatious ceremony he held after hours to vamps from other clans. Again, a hard pass for me, I saw that Harry was still mulling over how to answer Jasmine. I was mildly intrigued that Harry had failed to snap out some clever reply to such an innocent sounding question from his witch.
Jasmine stopped licking her fingers and Morgan handed her a paper towel that had been stuffed underneath one of the plates on the tray that Eddie had provided. Shrugging, she dabbed at her spit and licked hands and wiped off anything possibly stuck on her fingers. She tossed the used towel onto the tray and sat back on the sofa while she half-turned towards Harry.
"Kenyon Huston went underground. His club is sporadically open but mostly closed for quite a while now. Nobody is confessing to having seen or heard from him. Most of his close clan, fledglings and suspected minions are gone, dead or simply missing. The club is in rough shape but what looks like unofficial raves are being held in the structure -- what's sort of inhabitable. I've had it under observation for quite a while -- he is possibly going to be an issue -- that's true." Harry looked remote as he was obviously reliving some of the past with the vampire.
I knew that this Kenyon character had probably been part of the reason why his house in La Jolla was destroyed. Kenyon had demonstrated that he had some low life connections and from what I had read he had a flair for the dramatic. The Dark Web had more than a few postings about the vampire and his minions. He had true fans among low level fledglings with access to the sites. I'd seen some seriously crazy fangirl type blog entries -- including artwork with sketches of Kenyon's flashy style of dramatic dressing. He looked like a wanna-be douche to me. From the look on both Jasmine and Morgan's faces I gathered that they probably had crossed paths with Kenyon. And with what I'd been reading about Kenyon it probably hadn't been just one meeting. He seemed to stalk and stake anyone who resisted his questionable charms. Kenyon played for keeps and Jasmine and Morgan didn't strike me as playmates for Kenyon's kind of vampire world.
Caleb spoke up, "Wait -- you are talking about that goth club downtown?"
Harry looked at him, "Why? Do you know something about Dark Whispers?"
"No, man, I've never been there -- it is so totally not my scene. Chicks that get off on all that kind of death crap rarely want to go surf, go to the beach or even be like outside in the sun. Oh, damn -- no offense," he looked mortified at the possibility he'd offended Harry and me with his death comment. I tried not to laugh but ended up letting a slight giggle escape from me.
"Caleb, vampires aren't all into goth sorts. That's all on Hollywood and pulp fiction," I finally choked out. Even Harry looked bemused by Caleb.
"Explain what you mean then, please," I asked. Harry nodded his agreement. I could hear Caleb's blood pumping as fear raced through him, he was starting to freak out a bit.
"First, Caleb, take a deep breath and calm down. You need to stop acting like prey." I felt obligated to say. We were all predators with a hunter's nature. Well, except for Zach. I doubted the man hunted -- he was more likely to hard stop hunters. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him move a bit uneasily in his chair. Instantly I shifted my awareness to include him -- yep, I could definitely hear the pitter patter of his heart racing.
Thankfully, Caleb was a good Zen surfer, so he consciously breathed out and calmed down. Just that ratchetted the energy in the crowd from pounce on Caleb to let's hear what he's fucking talking about it could be important! Valerie was still upset with my companion, but I could see that she was also curious.
"Okay, Bethany, so like a few weeks ago I was out surfing the break in Ocean Beach. The waves were totally crowded, too many clowns so I headed back into the shore to grab some meat and carbs at Hodad's. There was a half dozen or so people ahead of me in line with massive orders. Two dudes right in front of me were bitching about their evening. They had met hard core goth chicks at a fraternity keg party off campus near SDSU. That's the local state college kinda known for massive parties. After sweet-talking them for almost an hour of trying to hook-up, one of the two gals gets a message on her cell phone. All of a sudden, they got all excited about an exclusive invite to an after hours party being held at this place called Dark Whispers. One gal promised to contact them once they got inside with invites to them.
"From what the two guys said, one of them had given up her cell number but then they flew out of the house quickly. Here's where it got weird. The guy claimed at first his possible hook-up kept texting him messages for about an hour after they'd left. Suddenly around three am the messages stopped and he said he was ghosted. He was whining all about it as we kept moving up in the line for burgers." Caleb stopped and looked at us for a reaction.
My immediate reaction was utter confusion. My ability to catch nuances was great in person but an overheard conversation from two hungover strangers in line for burgers wasn't making too much sense to me. I threw a look over to Harry -- he interacted with humans far more than I did.
Valerie jumped in with her question for Caleb, "Why did you think of this?"
"Oh, the guys talked about how they took off from the frat party to go find if they get into the club about a half hour after the texting stopped. Even hammered they eventually located the neighborhood where Dark Whispers was. Turned out the street the club was located on had uniformed cops on both ends blocking and diverting traffic. They weren't allowing anyone to enter and had strung yellow caution tape roping off something next to dudes in suits. Before they bailed an ambulance took off from the front of the club without running their sirens or lights. After hearing all this it stuck in my brain and I checked the paper and the local newscasts for the next few days. Not much was printed but that there were bad drugs on the local streets that were causing overdoses around clubs and at the beach. Really suspicious to me."
Harry made a sound and returned to rapidly keying on the laptop in front of him. He now had some information to chase down and either disprove or verify. That reminded me.
"Harry, can I use this laptop or do I need to log in as myself?" The whole internet situation was always open to spying. Harry's connections with his government job gave him a layer of protection not available to the average computer user. I had a healthy respect for computers and some knowledge -- I had been around long enough to adapt and learn. Mostly I learned that there were more vulnerabilities than humans ever realized. Harry had logged into both computers in the library with his name and password. But if I started searching I didn't know if I would trigger the Vampire Council's attention with my queries.
Letting Harry handle the geek squad duties seemed like the best way to handle this issue. Looking up from his keying Harry held up an index finger while finishing his own query. He nodded.
"Sure thing, Bethany, let me fix that." He hit enter on his laptop before swinging the second laptop, the one that had been running the loop of the Council's extermination message, towards him. With a quick set of flying fingers Harry did some magic before turning the computer to me with a small flourish. I nodded my thanks and flexed my hands together, crackling my fingers.
"Key safely. I have you routed through a couple dozen secure sites and locked in routers with encryptions not easily cracked or spoofed. I used credentials that aren't traceable back to us. Avoid the common search engines like Google and such -- those are toys to any decent hacker." Harry returned to his quest while I looked down to see that he'd returned me to the basic Dark Web start screen -- nothing specifically linked to the Council.
"Thanks, Harry. I can find what I need from here." My mind spun with all the questions I had and then I saw everyone simply watching Harry and me.
Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-08-02
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.