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The Shadows "When the Saints Go Marching"

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Dan looked over to Karen with a "thanks you made this even more awkward glare" and then turned to Marko.  "It is as has been said, A young woman from a local family was abducted by a witch, slain by her kinsman who was a werewolf, and the Vampires arrived on the Scene.   With some intervention, no further blood has been shed, and the young woman is currently residing under Lilith's watch.   Now, one of my Packmates is there as well, Keeping everyone honest so to say, while the young woman is safe and sound.  We agreed to come here with Lilith to get to the bottom of this situation and resolve it to everyone's satisfaction.  To my knowledge she needs no help, and is only there until we're certain there will be no aftereffects of whatever was done, or nearly done to her."  

He looked back to the Regent, and nodded.  "That's where we are, i believe the ball's in your court, Ma'am."

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Marguerite took the phone and flicked back and forth throught the pictures, stopping she held up the phone so everyone could see the body of the male witch lying on the concrete floor of a warehouse, his throat ripped open. "This the witch," she asked?

Lilith looked up from the ground she had been staring at while all of this buzzed through her head. "That's the one."

"I don't know him, he isn't one of the nines. I don't recognize the symbols either at least not in those configurations." The Regent handed the phone back to Dan. Lilith shook her head . "He isn't one of yours?"  Then she looked over at Marco for the first time since the attack. "And you what do mean when you keep saying you attacked and killed my men? None of our people are missing. For fucks sake I didn't even know you were back in the city until I walked in this door." For a second she looked like she was going to say something else but didn't instead she stepped close to Dan and took the phone.

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"Three of your goons, last night, got rowdy with me outside one of the bars a few blocks from here,"  Marko addressed Lilith.  "Mentioned you by name.  So if all your mooks are accounted for, someone's playing you guys, all of you guys, against each other."  He whistled.  "Not even a week and I'm balls deep in 'Leans drama.  And that also means that all that rage a moment was all for me?  Like, spur of the moment, that's the first thing you wanna do when you see?  Holy shit, that's a lot of fucking hostility," he raised his hands defensively.  "And I'm not saying I don't deserve it, but fuck, I. Am. Honored.  I don't think I've ever driven somebody that batshit crazy before... hold on to that, please.  Don't loose that spark of hate... it's gonna make the sex later so much kinkier.  Ugh, it's gonna be fucking fantastic..."

"Holy shit," Lilith just glared at him with nothing but confusion (and unbridled contempt).  "You've lost your fucking mind."

"That said," he pulled a towel off the bar and wiped the viscera from his forearm.  Movies exaggerated a lot.  There was blood in the body, sure, but not the gallons and gallons and in sprays like Hollywood would lead you to believe.  His arm was red and smeared, but there was very little blood.  "I want all of you fucking weirdos to understand something: I don't give a fuck about your problems.  So don't go bringing them to my doorstep, because Cara and I have better things to do than deal with your shit."  He approached the Regent.  "And you.  You have two sun sets to find me and give me what I want,"  he glared at her and she showed no signs of backing down or shirking his gaze.  It was all theatrics, she knew, to keep Lilith out of whatever loop the Regen was forming.  "If I have to find you, it'll be messy."

"Now, about the girl, glad she's okay," he clapped his hands together.  "If she's hot, then why don't I take her for the time being.  I'm a neutral party."

"Didn't you just say you didn't want to be in our drama?"  One of Marguerite's body guards chimed up, a tall, bald, angry looking black guy whose thick English accent made Marko double take.

Marko raised a silencing finger.  "I know what I said LeBron Thames... believe me..." he spun his hand around his head.  "But whatever is in here, doesn't like the idea of that girl shacking up with Wednesday Addams over there.  Someone please tell my sister and I who this girl is and why is she so important.  Seriously, though, she hot?  Anyone?"

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 Lilith glare's at Marco then glances at Cara, "Don't you have a muzzle for him or something? Look Marco, your supposed to be so brilliant and all. I didn't know you had come back to New Orleans, and frankly don't know why you would unless you have a suicide wish. But none of my people even know who you ar much less would drop my name if they were being asshole to some unknown vampire in the city. We live by the treaty, all of us including me that's how the peace has been kept for seventy five years.

No Vampire that lives in this city," She looks at Marguerite and her witches and the two werewolves that came with her, "and no Witch or werewolf is going to violate that treaty, not after so long. So if anyone is being played It looks like it was you." She crosses her arms and stands looking smug.

49 minutes ago, Marko Cain said:

"I wouldn't go so far as to say 'brilliant, but I get by," Marko mused.  "After all, 'my Queen', someone's dropping your name and starting fights with me.  All that shows in the long run, to everyone paying attention, is that Lilith's people are being slaughtered.  Rumor mill's a bitch and before long all it'll look like is that you don't have control of your city.  You know what happens next, right?  Others will move in and try to take it from you and your treaty will be worth nothing.  You'll have a power struggle on your hands,"  he shrugged.  "But what do I know?  I'm barely getting by on getting played... me... who has no throne, or city to lose... might wanna work on being a Queen, darling.  You have way more problems than me living rent free your head." 

Marguerite stands, "It could be we are all being played. Send me copies of those pictures I'll see what I can find out. In the meantime the girl is probably better off with you , Lilith, than running around free. I think it's hardly a coincidence that a member of a werewolf family was just snatched at random off the street."

 

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"It sounds to me like someone, or something, is trying to upset the balance of power," Cara says. "Hoping for a little vampire war between Marco and Lilith, and trying to start trouble between witches and werewolves."

She looks at Lilith. "Who's your second in command?"

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Dan shook his head.   "With respect"  which probably would have gotten a snigger or two were it not for the company in the room, "I really don't think that's going to work.  While the young woman has not had her first change, She is as you say a member of a werewolf family.  Her family wants her back.  She should go back to them.  That would absolve anyone of responsibility for her, save her kin, and hopefully let us avoid another incident like what happened.   She'll be watched over from now on, until we're all sure there's no lingering effects."

He hoped to remove her from the board as hostage or bargaining chip, so that with any luck she could go back to her normal life.  Barring that, he knew the Crescents would want her watched, and due to his involvement, it could be done as a joint demi pack of members from both packs.

"If nobody knows what's going on, then let her return home. It becomes a bigger issue the longer we hold her."

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"He has a point." Darrik added finally. "We may not know who is behind this, but if someone is trying to cause a conflict between the factions, the longer you keep her, the longer this risks playing into their hands, Lilith. I doubt the person or people are going to act twice with the same move."

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"And what...sigh....Alright have it y'all's way, you can have the girl." said an exasperated Lilith. She looks at Marguerite, "Find out what all of this was about, Reet," she cuts her glance to Marco, "I don't need any trouble, any more trouble, first Colby Walker, now Marco and Cara. This ain't old home week and none of you want this treaty to go away, cause there are worse monsters out there than the the ones in here." She walks towards the door pausing by Dan "I'll have the girl and Irish brought here, y'all might want to make sure she ain't go no spelly traps on her before sending her home. ANd make sure y'all out of the city before the moon comes out. Come along Joe."

Lilith pushes past Dan and looks at Karen again then goes outside. Joe follows her and gives Marco a nod of silent respect when he passes him on the way out.

"Well Darrik dear, I think we can all use a drink now." says the Regent as she sits back down.

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Karen watches the vampires walkout into the morning sunlight and not for the first time wonders what in the wold she has gotten herself into. She turns back to look at the bar where Darrik is pouring drinks as the witch regent suggested. Her eyes are drawn to the large mirror behind the bar. She can see everyone reflected, the two vampires still there, another myth busted, all of the witches, and Dan nearby as well as herself.

But what widens her eyes and causes her mouth to open in a short gasp of shock is her father standing right beside her!

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He was just... standing there. Looking at her. As fresh and alive and warmly handsome as he appeared in the much loved picture in her wallet. And no one had reacted to him yet. A reflexive turn of her head away from the mirror to check the room for other danger brought another indrawn breath as she caught sight of him not just in the reflection, but actually standing next to her in the room. What the actual hell?!?

The striking brunette nearly jumped backwards in her retreat towards Dan, hands coming up in a defensive gesture and dark eyes shifting to gold as her mind and her heart raced one another towards the cliff edge of exploding, trying and failing to make sense of what she was seeing. Her father was dead. Had been for almost 30 years. Dead of a car accident if her mother wasn't lying through her teeth. But then again... Closed casket funeral in a world with vampires and wizards and a curse that turned her into a god-damn wolf once a month and someone who could kill an entire room full of people the other 25 days. She gritted her teeth against the cocktail of fear and confusion and frustration, and entertained the notion for a heartbeat that she was seeing things.

"Dan," she gasped, hands tightening into fists, fully aware how crazy she'd look if the answer to her next question was 'no' but unable to quite bury the edge in her voice, "Can you see him?" 

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"Come now, love, you haven't even started drinking yet," Cara sighs theatrically as she goes to the bar. "Pace yourself."

Inside her mind was twirling all these things she'd learned around like a cotton candy machine. Her brother cursed and seeking remedy; the curse seemed to be restraining him from exercising his worst impulses though. She wasn't sure how to feel about that, but at least it didn't seem to be killing him. Vampire politics hadn't changed much either...the hamfisted attempt to implicate Lilith on an attack on Marko, for example. Almost certainly an opportunistic ploy from an underling, hoping to use Marko as a weapon against the Queen. Cara wasn't sure Lilith had quite seen that nuance, but...well, it wasn't any of her business now was it?

Even so, this business with werewolves and witches being seeming turned on each other was interesting in light of its timing if nothing else. More opportunism? Or was it something larger?

"Marko," she asked back over her shoulder, "What makes you think this curse of yours originates in New Orleans?"

Did you show up on your own, or were you lured here?

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Marko shrugged.  "The Nine are the most powerful covens anywhere in America.  Coming to 'Leans seemed logical.  If anyone can shatter a curse, regardless of its origin, it'd be them."

"I mean, we know a thing or two about magic.  All curses can be broken and none of them are permanent," he smirked.  "But they've been... resistant and I can't just go around killing their families and dropping their children in lakes until they comply.  So, yeah... that's been a drag.  Especially with my being a vampire..."

"You're essentially immortal," Cara replied.  The was a thinker and already followed his line of thought.  "A curse might last a few generations on a mortal, upset their life, but the balance would dictate that the punishment must end.  Being immortal, the balance could dictate that as a few months or centuries in your case.  Or never, because you're outside the balance."

"Exactly, and I'm not cool with that.  I could just cover the clause for the curse to lift itself, but she didn't say what it was.  Hope it's not good deeds... I have so much karma to burn off."  The ancient vampire looked on in the distance upon fond memories of rampage and wonton slaughter.  "I'm not capable of being a decent guy, is that even a fair curse?  There a handbook we can refer to?  I will totally call foul."

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Dan shook his head slightly  "I don't see anyone aside those who are here."  he answered softly.  He showed her to a seat, and smiled, asking simply for water for the two of them, unless Karen wanted something stronger.  He made his way by the Regent, and asked politely.  "Do you mind giving Melody a once over once she arrives?  He does have a point, and I'd like to make sure there's nothing actually wrong with her before bringing her back home."   He had ways of doing it himself, but all the same having a master do it was much more reassuring.  Beyond that, her certifying the young woman was clean as it were would ease the minds of the Pack, which would help alleviate some of the concerns and tension.   

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"I wouldn't mind giving her a once over," Marko raised his eyebrows with salacious intent.  "Twice over and thrice over too... you know five times an evening is not uncommon for me.  Years of practice."

"Mmm... Melody.  Now she sounds delightfully delish,"  his grin was nothing but instigating.  "Had a gaggle of Britneys not long ago, but it's been an age since I've had a proper Melody on my lips.  Promise to take good care of her," he held three fingers up.  "Scout's honor."

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"So no one put the idea in your head," Cara mused, "You just showed up because you didn't know where else to go. That would seem to rule out manipulation, at least for the moment."

She shook her head.

"Marko, are you finished here? We should talk somewhere private."

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Marko inhaled and looked around the place.  "Yup." He said suddenly.  "I think I'm done.  Keep the hundo, Dennis, and burn that towel, it'll start to smell something awful.  Thanks for opening the place up and uh, if you have any tables that're on their way out, lemme know.  Joe and I didn't finish our talk."

"It's Derrik." The obviously annoyed proprietor replied.

Marko laughed.  "Whatever, dude, your name's not important, you're not important," he thumbed toward the Regent.  "In the end, you're just her bitch.  Well.  You guys have been great, but we really must be leaving.  Lives to ruin, misery to spread, sins to indulge in, all that."

With a slap on the bar, a sarcastic grin to Derrik, a roll of the eyes at Dan and a salacious wink at Karen the ancient vampire met his sister at the foyer of the establishment where the two left with out further incident.

The streets of New Orleans were as busy as ever and the siblings blended with it easily enough.  Everything from street performers to window shoppers congested the walkways but instead of being inconvenienced, it only added to the city's charm.  While food and drink did nothing to nourish him anymore, Marko was an avid eater.  While blood was and forever would be his ultimate high, he could never seem get enough of all the other flavors the world had to offer.  They hit the nearby Starbucks (because there was one every ten feet in every city) where he ordered him and his sister some sobering coffee.  She could tell he was still half drunk from something or other from the previous evening.

"So," they waded trough a mess of people as they moved towards a table out on the open patio.  "Welcome back to New Orleans.  Smell hasn't changed, despite this era of affordable deodorants.  Thanks for coming, I was really hoping we could do this together.  Cara offered him a look as she took a sip and raised an eyebrow.  "You know, this... killing all the witches, burning their quarter to the ground.  Last time it was plague, and lemme tll you, I was being generous, but this time, oh no.  Curse me.  Yeah, try it and we'll strip away everything they hold dear and watch their precious ancestors go up in flames.  Ugh, this is gonna be so much fun.  Like family night... but with lots of screaming and fire."

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"...and you know perfectly well that screaming, and fire, aren't my hobby so that has me wondering why you really wanted me to be here?" Cara pointed out, swirling her mocha around in a little circle to make sure all the chocolate syrup that was collecting at the bottom got re-dissolved again.

"Ah, because of this curse. Tell me what happened, Marko. How were you cursed, and how exactly does it work?"

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Yeah, he knew.  He knew it wasn't her style, but hey, people change right?  Maybe she had spiraled to his level depreavity since the last time he'd seen her after seening some twisted video on the dark web or something... but nope.

"Buzzkill."  He said flatly.  "C'mon, Cara.  Are you seriously gonna make us do this the looooong way?"

The curve of her lips from behind her cup was almost flirtatious were they not siblings.  No, her lovely smile was a taunt.  Some would think that immortal siblings would get over their games and rivalries, but oh no.  She knew he got into this mess and it was only her love for him that was keeping her from laughing out loud.  "Curse.  Talk."  She tapped her painted nail into the table top, indicating for him to spill.

He sighed and took a drink from his coffee.  He still had the regent on his mind to is was hot and black.  "I was in L.A.-"

"An Angelo in the City of Angels," she shook her head and laughed.  "That is so cheesy, even for you."

"You wanna hear this or not?" He retorted, barely holding in the smirk of his own and trying not to laugh.  "And fuck you by the way," Cara only raised a hand to indicate she was done and he could continue, but she didn't stop chuckling.  "I was in L.A. and my humanity was off.  It had been off for a very long time and I saw no reason to turn it back on, then... she crossed paths me."

"This Walters lady?"

"Yeah."  Marko nodded and stared into his coffee.  "Outside a club she approached me and just like that... I couldn't do anything.  Before I knew it we were in a sublevel of a parking garage, I was kneeling and she uttered a few words and she flipped my switch.  She turned on my humanity by force."

Cara seemed very interested now.  She leaned in.  "I didn't even know that was possible."

"Me either," Marko swallowed.  She'd never seen her brother frightened of something, ever, but she could see that this woman troubled his nerves deeply.  "Over a century.  That's how long it was off... and in a few moments, without warning or time to prepare for it... I was put through over a century of guilt, remorse, anguish... Cara it... it was like a waking nightmare."  Even other supernaturals didn't really understand how Vampires worked.  They experienced everything, everything, with a heightened intensity.  Anger became rage, pity became guilt, fear became terror.  Everything about them was always cranked to an eleven on the emotional and sensual scale.  They were, by their very nature, intense creatures, which was why so many got lost in excess.

"Anyway, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but basically... I have my humanity now, so anything I do I get to live with the emotional backlash of it.  Not to big of a deal because my moral compass was about as screwed as it could be even before my humanity was off, so I think I got her there.  However, comma, anytime I try and do bad things it hurts.  Like a migraine.  The worse the deed, the greater the pain.  I can still feed and even kill when I do so-"

"Because denying you that would upset the balance of the creature that you are, force you to defy your nature," Cara nodded.  She was a smart cookie.

"Exactly."  He motioned towards hers in agreement.  "I can defend myself and it's no holds barred there too.  I can't turn my humanity back off to escape this, when I try my eyeballs explode and blood pours from my nose and ears.  Very painful."  His sister looked at him with a sense of 'why would you even consider that'.  "Well of course I tried it.  Shit, you know me, I'm all about the easy road.  Oh, and it, uh... forces me to do and say things."

"I noticed," she smirked again.  "Do what sort of things?"

"Well, good things.  Like get involved in peoples lives... try and help them..." he shuddered with revulsion.  "Like some couple got in a fight at a bar the other night, right?  Not.  My. Business.  Still before I know it I'm walking over and right as dude goes to slap his girl I grab his wrist.  Then I start spouting this bullshit about not hitting a lady, he needs to be a better man, all kinds of dumb shit.  Things I would never say."  He trailed off and took a drink his coffee.

"So..." Cara shrugged waiting for the rest.  "What happened?"

"Oh," he swallowed and moved on.  "Jack-off took a swing, I beat his ass took his girlfriend home and we had amazing sex."

Cara sighed and shook her head.  "Seriously, Marko?"

"Well, yeah, I mean, this girls reverse cowgirl game was on-"

"Yeah, thanks, I got it," she sipped her drink looking disgusted in her brother."

"Like, on point..." He smiled wide and nodded while reminiscing.

"Please stop talking."

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When Marko finally shut up, Cara sat back a little on her stool and tallied the information up. She needn't have bothered though. Nothing fit.

She was no expert on witch magic or curses, but you couldn't live as long as she had without picking up some basics. The power of a curse that could incapacitate a vampire of Marko's age, twist his own powers against him, and carry such horrific punishments defied reason. Magic always had a cost as well. What had this witch paid to get that kind of power? And what eldritch source of energy had supplied it?

Other elements of the curse seemed easier to understand. She suspected it wasn't so much a case of the witch enforcing her morality on Marko...it was instead forcing Marko to do what he himself believed was right. Down deep, under all the perversity, Marko HAD a moral compass. He just delighted in offending it. This curse seemed to strike at that weak point in his mind...turning his own nature against himself.

A revenge, perhaps, the witch had thought to be worse than death? Or was there a deeper game afoot here?

She downed the rest of her coffee.

"I'll help you get to the bottom of the curse, and even end it," Cara decided. "I will not, however, become your personal assassin. The implications of this curse are...troubling to say the least, above and beyond what your own personal issues are."

Marko's sister sighed. "And of course, reform means nothing without volition. You're not acting of your own will, so in a real sense it isn't you acting. I'm not satisfied with that, even a little."

"So, aside from throwing your weight around against the head witch of New Orleans, do you have any leads?"

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"Nope," he spun his cup around in his fingers on the table.  "Like I said, usually I'd just dunk someone's preschooler into a water barrel until they spilled what I wanted to know.  That's sort of how I get things done.  I don't ask for help, I don't apologize, I don't need people, Cara."  He could feel her judgemental eyes on him.  "Don't give me that look.  I know you love these these little blood sacks of yours, why I have no idea.  They're food and fun to me, that's it.  Who cares if one or a hundred die, Christ, they'll make more."

"That's why I called you," he gestured towards her.  "If there is an angel in the family, it's you.  I fell long ago.  I'm not good with this sort of thing, I have no patience for... stuff."

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Cara rolled her eyes.

"Wonderful, now I'm the angel. Carnivorous angel feasting on blood, what an image. All right. I will talk with the...witches..." Her face pinched at the word; she was no fonder of witches than Marko was, if for different reasons. "...you keep your head down for the moment. We'll try the good cop first, then you can be the bad cop if we need to apply pressure. What do you remember about the witch that cursed you?"

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"About five-seven, curly dark hair, shoulder length.  She black, or mixed, caramel colored skin smelled like the ocean, so she might have a beach house.  She was about fifty-one to fifty three.  Said her name was 'Momma Walters', spoke with a think accent.  Haitian if I to guess."  He took another drink.  "And why do you get to play 'good cop', I'm the good one."

"Oh, please," she mused with soft, fun grin.  I'm an Angel."

He snorted and smiled.  "Not a bad call though, I'll lay low, head back to the estate and get the sheets off stuff.  See how old man Thatch is doing."

"Is he still the caretaker?" Cara asked, a but amazed.

"Yup, nearly eighty years old now, if I had to guess,"  Marko smiled and nodded.  Old man Thatch was one of few men Marko had ever truly respected, even with his humanity off.  "I'll meet you there later."

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On ‎1‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 12:11 PM, Dan Hawkins said:

Dan shook his head slightly  "I don't see anyone aside those who are here."  he answered softly.  He showed her to a seat, and smiled, asking simply for water for the two of them, unless Karen wanted something stronger.  He made his way by the Regent, and asked politely.  "Do you mind giving Melody a once over once she arrives?  He does have a point, and I'd like to make sure there's nothing actually wrong with her before bringing her back home."   He had ways of doing it himself, but all the same having a master do it was much more reassuring.  Beyond that, her certifying the young woman was clean as it were would ease the minds of the Pack, which would help alleviate some of the concerns and tension.   

The 'ghost' remained where it had first appeared, following Karen with it's eyes, otherwise unresponsive to her defensive gestures. She let herself be lead to the seat while she thought, eyes only darkening from their temporary golden hue as Dan left and addressed the Regent with hopes of a solution to see if Melody had been magically boobytrapped. Seriously? That was a thing? Great. Wonderful. Perfect. She couldn't wait to get back to the swamp and wash the metaphorical stink of 'vampire' from her skin, put this successful rescue behind them until the full moon passed and she had time to learn the local hearts and minds.

Karen continued to sit, gaze not deviating from Jack's just in case he *did* decide to do something, threatening or otherwise, fingers drumming on the table top. Soon as a few more minutes passed, she'd head outside to make sure the two women saw a friendly face first.

But that would be in a few minutes. Just in case the ghost no one else could apparently see was waiting to do more than screw with her emotionally. If this was a trick, she'd personally kick the ass of the person responsible. If it wasn't..? She didn't know.

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Margarete watched the two vampires leave the establishment and in so doing caught, at least visually, the exchange between Karen and Dan. She kept watching Karen even as Dan walked close to her, her eyes following the female werewolf's gaze to the spot of empty air beside her. Hmmm.

"Well that didn't go very well, now did it? Of course we will check out the girl among other things," Margarete looks at the bar and Darrik. "Darrik, since y'all are neutral you mind handling that?" without waiting for an answer she looks back at Karen.

"Honey? Is there something bothering you," she asks?

**************************************

Mark and Cara both noticed the young teen aged girl walking purposefully toward them. She was very blond, dressed casual and looked like a tourist. She smiled broadly as she noticed that she had been noticed. She stopped a few feet from the table and grinned at the two vampires.

"Marko Angelo, Cara," she said as she pulled out a chair and sat down. "You have three choices, and I sincerely hope you make the right one. One, you can flee New Orleans and never return. Two, you can do exactly as I instruct, and not only will you  live but you will thrive, have all of your wishes granted, and may rule here in this city for eternity. Or three, you can die."

Spoiler

neither of you have ever seen this girl before and as far as you can tell she is a simple human.

 

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Cara burst into a radiant smile.

"Finally we're getting somewhere," she exclaimed. "All this time back in the city and not even one decent ultimatum. I was starting to think I'd be spinning my wheels forever."

"So, don't stop there. Whom do you represent, and what exactly would they 'instruct' that we do? You know, aside from fleeing or dying."

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"Rule for eternity?" Marko asked as his face scrunched in distain.  "My sister has far to busy of a life to play Queen of the Damned in the armpit of the south and me?  Do you smell this place?  New Orleans is a garbage fire after it's been hosed to embers.  Damp, muggy, soggy and it smells like an unwashed vagina fisted full of haggis."

"But, I won't lie, I'm intrigued.  So, go on... what's the pitch?  My sister asked you a question, and since you threatened her, your life is already forfeit.  The only thing ensuring that you survive the next few days is how amused and or happy she is with your answers."  Marko smiled warmly and motioned to the empty chair next to them.  "Please, have a seat.  Would you like a latte or something?"

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The blond sits still smiling. "I'll let you know in a day or two after you have had time to mull over the decision. A latte please."

Marko takes an annoyed breath and then turns partway in his chair to raises his arm to call the waitress over. The blond moves unhurriedly as he turns and draws a small pistol from her waist band where is was tucked under her t-shirt. Cara gasps as the girl puts the gun under her chin and pulls the trigger sending  the .38 caliber bullet into her head and out the back of her skull.

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Dan shook his head.  "It went better than it could have.  We still have a Truce, and none of us are permanently injured from it."  He answered her, then nodded as she made arrangements with Darrik.  "Thank you."  He was being so polite it almost hurt.  As her attention shifted to Karen he was intrigued and thought back to what Karen had asked.   There could be several "him" off the top of his head, and he doubted that Colby could hide his presence in so small a place.  That left her Father at the top of the list, probably the only one who could cause her mask to break so much, but he was dead...

Then again, this was New Orleans, and the Dead were long rumored for not staying that way.

Dan moved back over to Karen, smiling.  "Karen, are you alright?"

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Karen permitted herself to break eye contact with the ghost or whatever the hell it was, plastering her 5th best smile in place. Being thrown off her game was exactly what she needed. Figures she wouldn't even get a useful haunting that explained exactly what it was after. Sure, Othello or whatever ended poorly, but at least he had a clue.

"Thank you for your concern, but so far it's nothing that some fresh air or an exorcism couldn't cure," she breezily replied, freezing as she realized exactly what she just said, "Damn it. Just a new brand of crazy that can wait until we get Melody back home curse free. Thank you for checking that, by the way. Greatly appreciated."

She tried to preemptively wave away any potential concern, "It's fine. Really. If it does anything other than pissing me off standing there, I now know the place to go to track down a witch who might lend a hand."

 

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Cara cursed and was up out of her seat. "Oh for pity's sake," she muttered. "Come on."

Without further comment she hurried from the scene, moving fast enough to be a blur until she was outside and well away from the coffee shop in a secluded alleyway away from prying eyes. There she waited for Marko to catch up.

Callous and cowardly. It was the kind of thing Marko might have done once upon a time, if he'd gotten good enough at compulsion. Pushing a command to suicide wasn't impossible, but it wasn't something an amateur could do. At least not reliably.

This didn't rule out witchcraft though, Cara reflected. That muddied the water quite a bit.

Most troublingly though...who thought they were so in control they could simply hand out New Orleans to be 'ruled'? The vampire faction at least was kept marginally in check by the knowledge that Lilith, in addition to being strong, had been put in power by Originals. Any coup would certainly have to deal with them eventually.

That really left no good options on the table, did it?

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Killing a mortal in front of Marko and Cara was not a very effective tactic, at least not front Marko's point of view.  He saw humans as nothing more than food he could play and sleep with.  Her being young didn't really strike a chord with him either... hell, over the centuries he'd killed so many of all ages that eating a younger meal was like eating buffalo wings... you just lost count at twenty or so and finished the basket anyway.

He sighed, shaking his head.  It was hard for him to remember that with his humanity restored, he couldn't help but feel some pang of sorrow for the girl.  Hell, she looked about eighteen, that was a waste of a snogging.  "Guess she doesn't want that latte..."  He looked and saw Cara was gone.

He'd just flagged over a waitress and the girl he was talking too blew her friggin' head off.  The gunshot startled the crowd of people and there was Marko... all eyes on his him and his now dead hottie-he-couldn't-snog-later.  Vampiric speed was not a good idea, especially with a crowd of witnesses.  He saw Cara across the way, his vampiric eyesight narrowing at distances humans couldn't hope to manage.  He gave her a subtle nod, telling her to go and that he'd catch up.

There were enough CCTV cameras in New Orleans and enough witnesses to know that he'd done nothing wrong.  He'd committed no crime and with the practiced ease of a professional sociopath, he switched from psycho to citizen in the span of a heartbeat.  "Call 911!" he shouted at the waitress he was flagging down.  Already people were beginning to crowd around the scene.  "Everyone get back!  God damnit!  Someone call 911!"

People asked questions, there was a flood of panic.  He knelt beside her and checked for a pulse (in case the bullet didn't do its job).  She was barely there, her heart was fading and her brain, what was left of it, was slowly winding down as her nervous system shut down.  Such a waste... he'd been here three days already and could have really used that snogging.

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