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World of Darkness: Attrition - Lost to the Night - Part 4: Stockholm Syndrome (complete)

Sam Spaid

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August 23rd

The morning was already warm, indicating that the way would be another hot one. Sam knew she would be driving around for a while so she dressed light, shorts, a tank top, and sandals, with her hair pulled into a ponytail to keep it up off her neck. A light shirt would complete the outfit and hide her weapon while she was out and about, but was slung over a chair at the moment. She stood before the mirror and wished that the shorts weren't so tight, mostly because that would mean that she'd have lost some more weight since she last wore them. She turned, and looked at her rear, "It could be worse." She sighed, "Could be better too." The gardener liked what he saw. Sam, alone in her room, blushed. "Damnit, maybe I do need to get laid." She frowned and then kicked off the sandals and pulls some ankle socks on and laced up her Chuck Taylors. They were better by far for walking, or running, than the slip on sandals were.

She padded out of her room, and found the TV on in the living room, colorful cartoons spraying out a prismatic gout of colors that would have given any mortal man a seizure. They were fine for kids though. Timmy sat cross legged on the floor, plastic superhero figures clutched in his hands, his pajamas still twisted around his body from sleep. "Hi mom!" he said without looking from the TV.

Sam smiled and walked over to him, "Morning sweetie, what do you want for breakfast?" She kissed him on the top of his bed-head tousled hair.

"Chocolate frosted sugar bombs!"

"Timmy," Sam said moving to the kitchen, ignoring the request for the sugar laden cereal his father let him eat. "Do you want Cheerios or Frosted Flakes?" She rephrased her inquery, to avoid argument.

"They're GRRREAT!!" Timmy piped from the living room floor.

"Frosted flakes it is," Sam pulled out the Cheerios too, she didn't care for the flakes. A couple of bowls came out of the dishwasher, followed by spoons and shortly she called, "OK, come on, you don't want them to get soggy."

"EEWW!" Tim came barreling in from the other room and leaped into his chair.

A horrifying array of sounds soon followed that had Sam shaking her head, "Tim, slow down, chew with your mouth closed. Sheesh."

"OK!" he replied around a mouthful of cereal.

Sam hung her head, defeated. At seven years old manners were no match for the power of a hungry young boy. "Close enough." A little while later the sound of a key in the lock was followed by the nanny. "Morning Sally, care for some cereal?"

"Morning Sam, no thanks I grabbed a bagel." Sally was twenty five, and while she could be called cute, few would call her beautiful, but that made little difference because she was a fantastic nanny.

"Hi Sally!" Timmy said, a little milk dribbling down his chin as he did.

"Good morning Timmy. Don't talk with your mouth full please."

Tim swallowed, "OK, sorry."

Sam suppressed a slight scowl, sometimes she was worried Sally was more a mother to Tim than she was. She finished her breakfast over idle chatter with Sally and then prepared to go. "I don't expect to be late today, but if that changes I'll call," she told the other woman. "OK, Timmy come and give me a hug before I go." Sam crouched down and Timmy came running at her nearly bowling her over as he threw his arms around her. "Love you, honey, be good for Sally."

"Love you mommy ... Can we get pizza tonight?" Timmy was shameless when it came to pizza.

"Sure, but only if you're good. I'll see you tonight." She kissed him again, in the cheek, which he tolerated with only a little squirming before racing off to play.

Sam went down to her car and readied for her morning. Lots of driving, probably covering ground more than once, and with a little luck she would find the subject of her search by lunchtime. She propped Brad's photo on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel, removed the locket from her neck, and started off into traffic.

Delving for Brad

Spending a WP 4/6

[jameson] 7:39 pm: Wits 3 + Occult 2 + 1 psychic powers specialty = 6 dice

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 1+3+9+6+6+6: 31

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 4+4+1+1+7+1: 18

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 10+9+10+1+10+9: 49

jameson *rolls* 3d10: 6+4+3: 13

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 7+5+5+1+2+3: 23

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 4+10+5+8+2+5: 34

jameson *rolls* 1d10: 10: 10

jameson *rolls* 1d10: 9: 9

[jameson] 7:40 pm: that's 10

[jameson] 7:40 pm: 2.5 hours

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Far away from sweet Timmy and Sam's day life, Brad Tolliver sat in a dark room and shivered. It wasn’t that he was cold; he was afraid. He didn’t understand what had happened to him. He didn’t know why the frightening man who talked like a Nazi extra in a World War Two movie scared Brad so. The man came in and spoke to him; Brad couldn’t remember what was said, only the way his brown eyes had stared at him. No, they had bored into him, digging into Brad’s soul like a rat burrowing through concrete.

The terrible power that rolled through his muscles also terrified him. He wasn’t sure what had been done to him, but he knew he’d been drugged. Or maybe he was sick. The man with the terrible eyes had made him drink his blood, or something, from his arm. It should have been blood, but it was thick and black and cold. And though it had tasted terrible, it had also been better than anything else he had had in his life. He wanted more; he wanted to wrap his lips around the cut in the weird man’s arm and never let go. He wanted that thick black stuff more than he wanted food or sex.

Alone and frightened, Brad waited, lost in the throes of blood addiction.

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Pinpoint accuracy, Sam mused, is a term that is highly overused. Most of the morning was gone, spent driving all over the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. From Anaheim to Beverly Hills, from there to Long Beach, then to Pasadena, back to Anaheim again, on to Thousand Oaks, etc. etc. Twice she was certain she had somehow lost the target only to gain it back shortly thereafter. Finally she started a series of same-hand turns, narrowing the search area down in a spiral that finally revealed an unassuming home on an unassuming street. "Wow, I feel cheated."

Sam drove by a few more times, verifying the home for certain, it was nearly noon by the time she decided to park the car at the end of the street. Sam grabbed the PB&J she had brought along and sat down to wait. By the time one came around Sam was starting to really consider trading her car in for one with working air conditioning. She was sticky and uncomfortable and there was no end in sight if her quarry didn't step out of the house. Sam decided that if she'd need to take a look inside, somehow, to verify Brad's condition. She had a couple of options in her mind and was mulling them over. On the one hand she could try to pull some kind of bullshit con-job; the direct approach, and hope she didn't see the bad end of it. She could play it safe and tiring and use her psychic powers. Not something she was feeling especially good about doing since it would leave her body "unattended" for the duration. She resolved to wait till the evening, and hope for the best.

An hour later Sam's patience was rewarded as the front door to the house opened a man stumbled out, throwing a had up against the sun despite the sunglasses and hat. Sam grabbed her binoculars and the man jumped toward her ten times life size. With the glasses and hat it was hard to tell if it was Brad or not, possibly the very reason why he wearing them. Sam decided to tail him for a bit, and get him out and away from his home, or whomever's home it was.

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Brad was excited. It wasn't getting to go outside as much as it was the possibility that doing well might get him more of that terrible liquid. The sun was warm and bright, even if it hurt after being in the dark so long. He had a list of groceries to get from the store, just down the street. Bonita had given him the list and the order in which he had to put things in the basket. She would know if he did it in the wrong order. Brad wasn't sure how she'd know, but he didn't want to take the chance that she might. If he did it wrong, she wouldn't talk to the scary man about giving Brad more of the liquid.

Deep inside, he knew that he wasn't this person. He knew that somewhere or somehow, he'd gotten something taken from him. Brad knew this; knew this was why everything was getting broken down into the simplest possible terms in his mind. It was easier to approach the world as simply as possible, because anything beyond that would break him.

He walked to the store, found a cart and started pushing it around. Doritos first. Brad put them carefully into the card, glancing around, half expecting to see Bonita in the aisle, watching him. He didn't see her but he didn't dare stop. She might know, somehow.

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Sam followed him easily. Shadowing was a technique she had learned while she was still part of the LAPD and Brad was an untrained civilian, he never stood a chance. That he was alone was a little surprising, she had expected him to be kidnapped, or dead, not ... going to the grocery store. She shook her head and followed him in, keeping her distance, watching him from over displays, or while examining food to stuff into her own cart. Every other time she stopped one of the things that was in her basket came out, ensuring that she wouldn't end up with a basket full of groceries to deal with.

Doritos, then salsa, bologna, bread, some tomatoes, mustard. What the hell? Kid's been completely off the map for over two weeks and he just jaunts out to the grocery to pick up ... Lunch? Finally Sam had had enough and made her way to him. She was certain he wasn't carrying anything more menacing than a can of peas, Ugh, canned peas, that's plenty dangerous enough.

"Umm, excuse me," Sam said, tapping Brad on the shoulder, "Is your name Brad? I think I know somebody who has been looking for you." Oh, god, I hope this doesn't turn out to be a stupid move. Please don't run, please don't run.

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Brad felt the touch and turned before he realized he didn't know the voice. He was surprised it wasn't Bonita checking up on him. It was a strange woman, pretty and smiling a little. She was a lot prettier than Bonita and so he smiled at her. Her question wasn't exactly safe but Bonita hadn't forbid him from talking to strangers, only someone he knew. "My name is Brad," he told her, giving her a simple smile. He didn't realize it, but he was being incredibly creepy. "People might be looking for me. I have friends."

He glanced at her cart and smiled more widely. "Oreos. They're on my list too. They're after..." he peered at the list. "Steaks." Brad beamed as he glanced at Sam again. "What's your name?"

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Sam wanted to step back, but she held her ground in the face of Brad's odd behavior. Drugs. Gotta be on something to be acting like that. "S- Sarah. I'm Sarah, your friend August asked me to look for you. She and your other friends miss you, they are concerned for you." She stole a glance at the list his was holding, it was arranged willy nilly and he was following it item by item, which explained his bizarre criss-crossing path around the store. He must be high as a kite. Sam noted that he seemed unabashedly mellow and happy. Hoping she could get him to cooperate she said again, "August and your other friends want to see you again. It's been weeks. Can you come right now? I can take you to them." She laid a gentle hand on his arm hoping she could pull him along peacefully.

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"No, I can't come," Brad said, his smile slipping away. The problem was, he wanted to come with the Sarah woman so much. He wanted to find his friends, to have that date he'd been promised with August. He wanted it like a physical push on his soul - but no amount of pushing could undo the chains that bound his mind. He was thoroughly addicted to the strange man and the terrible liquid he made. "I have to finish shopping, so I can..." He trailed off, remembering that he wasn't supposed to talk about the Master. The Master. The name terrified him and pleased him; just the thought of the Master made him a little hard. "Get what I need."

So he could get Bonita's things, and she could talk to the Master about getting him what he needed. What he wanted. His erection grew a little more and his tongue darted out to lick his lips. Cold and bitter and soooo good; that was what he needed. That and the bliss that came with the drinking, the way he'd come as he'd swallowed, again and again until he'd nearly passed out.

With a start, he realized the woman was touching him. "You're pretty," he told her. "Take your hand off my arm, because I'm getting excited. I don't want to frighten you." His expression was oddly gentle; he didn't seem to be aware that his statement was sure to scare Sam.

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Shit. Sam recoiled from Brad, wondering what the hell kind of whammy he'd had put on him. Involuntarily her eyes darted to his pants and saw that he was indeed showing a tell-tale bulge. She felt sick, gagging on her lunch; hot and burning in her throat. "You're sick," she said, without malice, but instead with pity. "Please, we can get you help, get you away from the person or people doing this to you." Oh, god, what else has been done to him? Sam was familiar with the victims of drugs, and what their pushers did to them, used them for, as "compensation" and "payment" for a hit. "We can get you help, Brad. If you come with me we can ..." Sam risked a gamble, "we can get you away from the people hurting you. Don't you want that? Don't you want to see your girlfriend and your other friends again?"

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Brad wanted it, he really did. But he wanted the bitter, cold liquid more. He wanted to drink it down all day, to curl around the source of the liquid, press it to his lips and never stop swallowing. He wanted it more than friends, more than August, more than even Angelina Jolie - he would risk death for it. The only reason he wouldn't die for it was that if he were dead, he couldn't enjoy it anymore.

"I can't," he told her gently, smiling again. "Thank you for your concern, but I need to be here."


He nodded. "I need to be here. I'm sorry that my friends are worried, but this is my place." He tilted his head, looking a little confused despite the smile. "Besides, I don't have a girlfriend."

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"Then who is August to you?" Sam demanded, appalled that he cared more for the next fix of whatever he was hooked on than his old life.

He shrugged and almost absently mumbled, "A friend."

Men! They don't ever know the score on anything unless its a damned baseball game! "Who is doing this to you?" she pressed urgently, wanting to grab him and shake him, or even simply drag him along behind her. "We can help you Brad."

"No, I don't need your help. I don't want your help. I need to be here, want to be here. Now I need to be at the meat department, to get steaks."

Brad moved down the aisle and Sam cursed beneath her breath. She dropped the basket with Oreos and nothing else within, to the floor and run after him, swinging out in from of him and cutting him off from the meats. "Damnit, this is your life kid, and you are throwing it away!"

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There was a flicker of unease in his expression, and that brief spark gave Sam hope. The struggle was clear; something about her plea about his life had spoken to him. But dark whispers rose in his mind, coaxing him to stay the course. The Master needed him, and he needed what the Master could give. Brad shook his head as if recovering from a daydream. He moved to step past her, only to stop again as Sam blocked him.

"I know you're trying to help," he told her, "but you're not. Go away. I need to get steaks and I don't want to have to hurt you to get them. Please."

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People were starting to stare. Sam noted with dismay that by the way they looked at her, she was coming off as the person who needed help here; mental help. "Fine. Fine. It's your life, throw it away if you want," she said, unable to hide the disgusted frustration in her voice." She hurriedly moved away, down the aisle, her basket forgotten, abandoned. At the end of the aisle she hesitated and turned to look over her shoulder at Brad. She gasped. For just a second she thought she saw a nimbus of light around his body. It wasn't the first time that Sam had caught a glimpse of the phenomenon. She'd put a little time into some research online, half serious internet searches on auras that confirmed, in her mind anyways, that her psychic sensitivity was starting to develop toward something new.

Despite the momentary glimpse, there and gone like a flash of light being cast out from behind the troubled young man, Sam felt that there was something wrong. It had seemed frayed, and shot through with black veins that almost seemed to be feeding on him. Whatever he was into it wasn't a good thing, that much had already been obvious, but now Sam worried that something more was at work on Brad.

Sam flinched as somebody nearby called her a nutcase, bringing her out of her thoughts. She hurried out of the store and to her car where despite the sun-baked heat of it she shivered for the memory of the experience. She pulled out her rumpled and wrinkled print of the photograph that August had given her. Brad, standing between two friends, smiling, a drink in his hand; a healthy young man who's life was ahead of him and probably seemed as limitless as life had once seemed to Sam. The detective could leave the case here. She could call August, tell her where to find Brad, collect her fees, and put this behind her. Sam could do that, technically, but in truth she couldn't, she needed to know that doing so wouldn't cause August to fall to the same trap that she believed held Brad.


Sam had options, she just needed to decide how far she wanted to take this. Beyond this she wasn't going to charge the poor girl, her bill was going to be pretty bad as it was, even charging at reduced rates, but at this point Sam was going beyond what the client had asked for, and while August might want her to continue she'd have to risk telling the girl where to find Brad, and she wasn't sure how that would turn out. Sam took a breathe and tried to relax. Confronting Brad again wasn't going to help, even if she brought August along as emotional artillery, she wasn't convinced that Brad wasn't so strung up on whatever it was he was taking, or being given, that the girl's presence would help.

Sam sighed, she knew what she needed to do.

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She waited, that was first, and hardest in a way, until Brad came out of the grocery store. It was getting on toward dark and she called home, let the nanny know she'd be late, and talking to Timmy for a few minutes. It was literally the least she could do as a mother. Brad finally came out and looked as if nothing at all had happened earlier; if he made a point to look for her she didn't see it. He trundled out of the parking lot, bags danging from his hands as he walked home, with Sam following behind him as easy as you please. She barely had to try, which would have worried her except he went straight back to the house she'd seen him come out of, and after parking the car went in with his groceries. She shook her head, it was nearing full dark as he went inside, and Brad appeared to have forgotten everything that happened in the store.

Sam wasn't sure how long she should wait, she could scry into the house, watch what happened but only for so long, and only to see what was happening currently. Better now than never, Sam thought as she prepared herself and started to concentrate on his image. It would be easier having met him, and knowing exactly where he was would also help. A sympathetic link, a personalized business car like she used most often, would have helped more, but this shouldn't be difficult, it was less than a hundred yards, and she could all but see the location. She calmed herself, breathing slowly, her eyes closed. In through her nose, out through her mouth, she did her best to get comfortable in the car, but there was little to do about that. She felt only marginally less silly than when she did this at home, in the nude sitting lotus position on her yoga mat with her bedroom door locked. Most of her psychic gifts made her feel somewhat silly as she did them, but they got results that she could use, and a little silliness, waving lockets around, meditating naked, weird glimpses of "auras", was worth the end result.

In her mind the blackness gave way to a face, Brad's face. Details around it began to come into the light, come into focus. A woman. Another man. Sam was with them, in the same room, floating unseen, onheard, unobserved, like the proverbial fly on the wall ...

Spending 1 WP (4/6)

Wits 3 + Composure 3

jameson] 8:51 pm: rolling for clairvoyance

jameson *rolls* 6d10: 7+10+9+10+9+10: 55

jameson *rolls* 3d10: 9+2+10: 21

[Carver] 8:52 pm: Dyam!

jameson *rolls* 1d10: 6: 6

[jameson] 8:52 pm: booooo YA!!!!!

[jameson] 8:52 pm: 7 sux on 6 duce

[jameson] 8:52 pm: *dice

[Carver] 8:52 pm: you should roll drunk more often.

[jameson] 8:52 pm: thaz good by any yard stick

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"-go out?" The German accent was thick, noticeably so.

"You said to obey Bonita, and she told me to go." Brad was shivering; he was both afraid of and needed the man before him. There was fear and abject worship in his eyes.

"I told you that if you went, I'd put in a good word with the Master," Bonita said, smiling. It wasn't a pretty smile and her face wasn't pretty at all. "But his orders were not to go out. My order shouldn't have been obeyed over his."

"I thought... I was just trying-"

"Trying to ingrate yourself for vitae," the strange man said. "That is unforgivable." His accent made his voice seem even harsher.

"I'm sorry," Brad whined.

"Though I loathe doing this, I need to feed you tonight so that I might be full tomorrow," the man said. He rose from the chair with easy grace. Sam watched as the 'Master' curled his fingers into Brad's hair. The young man dropped to his knees; he looked torn between pulling away and nuzzling into the Master's hand. The Master released Brad and pulled out a small knife. The smile was gone from Bonita's face; she watched intently. Her bearing reminded Sam of a child watching a sibling get a cookie she'd been denied.

The knife flicked once and blood welled thickly on the Master's arm. Brad whined like a hungry dog; Bonita licked her lips repeatedly. The blood didn't drip; it oozed from the cut. Sam was already disgusted, but it got worse: Brad pressed his lips to the open cut and drank.

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"Ewww," Sam murmured, alone in her car. The strange man, pale and still, allowed Brad to suckle at the slice in his arm. Sam's stomach churned, but thankfully while it was disturbing there wasn't anything else happening to push her over the edge. She watched, transfixed in horrified fascination, as Brad lapped and sucked up the black ichor that flowed from the other man's arm. Sam was pretty sure the other man was a vampire. She knew Brad wasn't, walking around in daylight told her that much, even if it was near to dusk at the time.

Sam hadn't been around a vampire in a long time. Adrian had disappeared a many months back, but not before reluctantly, and certainly unintentionally, pulling the curtain back a little for Sam. Because of him, she knew that there were things out there that were clearly not-human, and that had helped her recover herself somewhat. Her powers had made her wonder what she was, now she knew she was just a little more special that the rest of humanity. The herd. He called us the Herd, and said others did so as well.

Sam wanted to know what was important about tomorrow night, what was it that the vampire wanted his full power for? It was an almost off hand mention from the man, but given how he seemed to treat Brad as little more than a dog, Sam suspected that it was important. She'd learned to trust her hunches a long time ago. She watched a little longer, forcing herself to do so despite feeling uncomfortable. The woman, Bonita, apparently cued into a minor gesture from the older man, and literally kicked Brad away like a mongrel dog before taking her place at the block wound.

Finally the man shoved her away as well. "Enough, you have both had your fill, for now. Perhaps tomorrow, after we have completed the task."

Brad nodded, licking his lips, anticipation evenident on his face, "Yes master. You'll see, the business building is full of computers and-"

He was cut of by an almost casual backhand from the woman, "He knows all of this!"

"Enough Bonita, he was only trying to please."

Sam let go of the vision, her senses returning to her own eyes and ears. She couldn't call the police about a crime that hadn't happened without proof, and her proof would get her laughed at. I guess I'm working tomorrow night. Sam started the car and headed home.

[jameson] 8:45 am: and good, you are here I need to make a roll

[jameson] 8:45 am:

[Asarasa] 8:45 am: Okie

[jameson] 8:45 am: Int 2 + Occult 2

jameson *rolls* 4d10: 9+6+6+1: 22

[jameson] 8:45 am: 1 sux

[Asarasa] 8:46 am: Correct

[jameson] 8:46 am: enough to identify mr kreepy as a vamp

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