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World of Darkness: Attrition - In the Shadow of the Valley of the Wolf [FIN]

Adrian Moss

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September 23, 2010

Adrian's Rule #13

-Never leave a victim out to the elements, or in a place where they can be taken advantage of. It's cruel, leads to curious cases of anemia, and tends to get your face remembered when the cops come asking "and who was she last seen with?"

Gail felt great. She also felt wobbly and drunk, and a bit pissed with herself. Here some cute, quiet guy had singled her out at the party, but they had really been hitting it off. She had talked, he had listened, and they had walked out into the night for what she hoped would be some magic time to take her mind off of graduate student woes. She had even remembered to bring some rubbers in case she got really lucky (and the guy wasn't a total dud - or worse, gay!) Instead, they had kissed (he tasted minty) and necked ... and then = AWESOME!

Now Gail was going through the after-effects of blood loss and the nothing but vapors remained of the Kiss. She was leaning heavily on her date and he was trying to talk to her. He was ... asking her were her car was?

"No car," she slurred. "I'm over at ... Maramount ... the High School."

Her 'date' tensed.

"I'm not ... in ... (burp) ... high school, silly." Sigh. "Near ... right next to ... (giggle) ... the school."

Giggling felt good, so she giggled some more until some of that beer attempted a comeback. She bumped heavily against this guy and he staggered under the impact. He really was as lightweight. Gail wondered how drunk he was and if they would continue once he got her back to her place. Part of her wondered what it would be like. The greater part of her was far more interested in sleep.

'Across God-damned Campus!' Adrian thought. 'That is the God-damned Valley of Death, and none shall go there and live ... or so the other kindred whispered to Adrian before he headed off on this latest round of Frat-Party hopping.

He felt weak in the knees, but steeled himself. He couldn't just leave her, now could he and getting back would be a whole lot easier (he hoped). For now, it was all he could do to keep steering Gail (that was her name, right?).

"Okay, Gail. I'll take you home. I suggest you take a day or two off." Thankfully it was Friday so she wouldn't be feeling too bad come Monday. "Work with me, sweets."

Gail giggled. "Let's go do it by the fountain," she slurred.

'This is going to be a long walk', Adrian predicted. 'A freaking long walk. Just keep to the lighted paths and we should both be okay. Okay, I should be okay.'

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Fuckin' bloodsuckers don't damn learn, Owns-The-Night growled silently to himself as he stalked the latest intruder onto his newly-claimed range. He'd have thought after dusting those last three that they wouldn't have come back, but here one was, arm around a drunk-silly, giggling girl, walking down the path without a care in the fucking world. He was probably going to drain her dizzy, then dump her on a bench for some fuckin' dickhead to find and molest.

Perversely, Adrian solicitous arm around the drunk girl, who was also trying to fondle him between staggers, was prolonging his existence. The Vargr drifting along like unseen death 15 yards to the right was biding his time, waiting for the girl to pass out or something before attempting to get his jaws around the slim vampire's scrawny throat. Silver eyes watched as Gail wrapped both arms around Adrian's neck and nuzzled his shoulder.

"Look, there's the fountain!" she giggled. Adrian wasn't in a giggling mood right now. Whether it was imagination, paranoia, or instinct he was sure that eyes were watching him, and they weren't at all friendly. What was worse, the fountain area wasn't well lit at all, and the girl was trying to tug him off the path towards the ornamental garden. For a crazy moment he considered just shoving her to the ground and taking off, but even if he had been the kind of douchebag to do such a thing, sense dictated that he was probably safer in company than solo.

Like those Bel-Air Daeva that said they'd figure out what was behind the disappearances... All three of them haven't been quite so loud lately. his treacherous brain supplied (un)helpfully.

"C'mon, I'm supposed to be taking you home." he said, trying not to look around nervously. Was that something lurking over there in the shadow of some trees, off to his left? He peered in that direction, not seeing the faint flicker of silver as Owns-The-Night settled into some bushes on his right.

"Spoilsport!" Gail pouted. "Okay, but you're definitely tucking me in!" she added with a rude giggle. They resumed walking along the well-lit main path, much to Adrian's relief. Even better, another cluster of partygoers had come up behind them and were walking along with the couple, adding to his feeling of security for awhile. All too soon, they peeled off to go to their dorms, and he was alone again, Gail being uncharacteristically quiet.

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Adrian wanted to say something to break this maddening quiet, but nothing came to his stumbling tongue. Paranoia crept in and made itself at home. The lights seem to flicker toward darkness way to often. The hairs on his neck stood up. He knew he was being followed. Not that he had a shred of evidence, but he just knew. Of course, when he stole a glance one way, it was the wrong way. He tried to look directly behind him, but Gail chose that m moment to stick him in the ribs.

The young vampire yelped, temporarily weakening his grip on the college coed. She tripped over her feet, her mouth open in an exaggerated "O". Adrian was on her in a flash, but he just wasn't strong enough. The best he could do was roll under her as they tumbled to the ground.

"Umph," they said in unison.

Gailed giggled again and then started snoring there on his chest.

"No, no, no," Adrian said desperately. He wiggled up from under Gail, he got the upper half of her body up into his arms. It would have looked romantic if she hadn't been so blitzed, and snoring. He patted her on her cheek softly, and repeatedly.

"Come on Gail," he whispered, looking around with wide, fearful eyes.

"Come on now," he said louder. With a great effort, Adrian got her to her feet. Gail spun as if to drag them both down into the sidewalk again, but at the last moment righted herself.

"Hee hee," she giggled, awake once more. "You fell down."

"Yeah ... yes I did. Come on now, let's get you home."

She was quiet again, and right now Adrian could have really used some conversation. The Fear hadn't left him. I was a growing thing inside his mind. Tougher kindred than he had come here, or so it was thought, and vanished - most likely no more now that ash in the wind.

And then their was the boulevard. Adrian had to suppress the desire to fall down and kiss the asphalt. The fear ebbed in the bright lights. No cars were coming, so he hurried across as best he could.

"Hey, that's my house!" Gail exclaimed. Giggle. She looked up into his eyes, now seeming so innocent and trusting.

"Are you taking me to bed now?"

Adrian chuckled slightly. "I would be a disappointment, believe me."

Gail snuggled up against his chest, making Adrian feel like such a total heel for preying upon her earlier tonight. High on alcohol and weak on blood wasn't a good combination. In Adrian's eyes, starving until the Beast consumed you was worse. He had to keep thinking of things that way, or ... what?

He got them to the door of her apartment. They had a buzzer thankfully. Trying to figure out which key on her key ring would have been an added nightmare (Pity poor Adrian. It was in her pocket labeled "Home".) He rang the buzzer then rang it again. A girl's voice answered.

"Hello? Who is this," came a sleepy and pretty pissed response.

"Hey ... um ... I'm Adrian ... and"

"I don't know any Adrian so go the fuck away."

"Wait, I've got Gail with me and she's pretty smashed," came back his hasty appeal.

"Okay," the voice responded skeptically. "Prove it. Put her on. Gail?"

"I told you, she's pretty ..."

Giggle. "He's going to take me to bed," responded Gail, so thankfully awake though semi-conscious.

"Gail? Oh ... crap. Ummm ... sorry ... guy. I'll be right down."

"Names Adri ...," and the line went dead.

Adrian waited for close to a minute, standing under that lone entry way light.

'Nope. No worries here. Getting back to the car now ... bet not think about that.'

A vivacious young(ish) woman with red hair, freckles, and ... braces (?) came to the door.

"God, I'm so sorry. Normally the losers she picks up just leave her on some bed or sofa ... you know, where ever they ... whoa ... way TMI, right?"

"Sure," Adrian grinned back a tad weary and shy in equal measure.

"OH! Not that your lame, or a loser. This is really nice of you."

'Yeah, really nice. I drain her a pint or two and your telling me what a nice guy I am. If only you knew.'

"No problem," Adrian came back. "She was drunk and we were, umm, kissing, and ummm (awkward pause) ... she needed to come home. So here we are."

Veronica gave this guy a second look. He was not Gail's usual type. He was, well, something was just different about him. Something about the way he looked at her marked him as different, almost predatory. At least he was making eye contact. There had been no time to put on a bra before coming down.

"Let's get her upstairs," they said starting together. Veronica blushed. She hooked an arm around Gail's waist, letting Adrian take most of the weight, and they headed up. The door made an ominous 'thoom' as it closed. They got her up to the apartment the two girl's shared. Veronica had turned on the lights right before coming down, and now they gave off a cool, yellow glow. Girl and Vampire got Gail to her bed. Veronica took of Gail's shoes and tossed her legs up under the comforter. Gail was gone for the night alright. Now Veronica was alone with him.

The yellow light gave Adrian an unhealthy shallow pallor, she noted. His eyes seemed to glow with an internal fire, or hellish glow. At least it looked that way.

'Great thinking girl,' she admonished herself. 'You just let Mr. "I-don't-know-who-the-fuck-you are" into my home. My luck he's some some sicked, demented psycho who is about to carve me up into some bloody Picasso.'

"Well," Adrian blurted out, "I gotta be going. Nice-ta-meet-ya-Bye!" and he was racing for the door.

Veronica blinked and he was at the door. He turned the handle and stepped out the dimly lit hallway.

'What a spaz," she thought then, Adrian turned and looked like a totally different person. He looked like someone who gave a damn about her, as if their was something Terrible Bad in the world and he was trying to warn her to bar her door against it.

"Nice to meet you ... ah ..."


"Yeah, Veronica. Take care now and tell Gail ... well tell her maybe we'll meet again."

"Oh, okay."

The door shut and he was gone. She couldn't hear his footsteps going down. Was he even gone? She stood for a moment, half expecting him to walk back in. Beating back the temptation, she swung open the door. No one was there, but a she heard the door to the building open up.

"Wait!" she cried.

'What the hell am I doing?' she asked herself. Veronica ran down the stairs and up to Adrian.



"Do you have a pen?"

Clearly confused, Adrian reached inside his coat and pulled out a pen. Veronica took it from him, took to offering hand and turned it palm up. She scrawled her digits on the meat of his palm. That act of total madness out of the way, she fled upstairs. Adrian looked dumbstruck. When her door slammed shut, Adrian finally grabbed hold of himself. He turned, walked outside, and made sure the door was shut, and locked, behind him. Now for the second part of this fucked up play.

'All I've got to do is make it across the street, find a dark shadow to hide in, and then draw the darkness around me. After that, it was just a matter of shadow-gliding ALL the way across campus and back to my car. No problem ... right?

The Wolf saw him make it to what must have been one of their homes (not likely the leeches). Sure enough, the leech had trouble getting inside and some skirt had to come to his date's rescue. Now the clock was ticking. Leeches being leeches, the skin-job was probably going for a double dip. It made sense for those sick fucks. They didn't feed, they leeched. They were parasites. The Wolf moved to the most advantageous point to observe the room (the only one with a light on) and wait for ...

The leech came down quickly and alone. Right when he was about to leave, the 'other' girl came down and began talking to him. The Wolf could hardly believe what she was asking, knowing what she was doing. How could people be so stupid? Actually, it was pretty easy. Most people didn't like to see the Ugly.

Now the leech was moving. He moved across the street, flowing as much as stepping. This one was more graceful than most, maybe, but that hardly mattered when teeth met flesh. Now he was aiming for a spot diagonally across from head, seeking the darkness that held the doom for him and his kind.

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This vamp seemed different... for one thing, he wasn't swaggering around like he owned the joint. (Declan considered that to be his job, and didn't tolerate demarcation.) For another, he hadn't stayed in the dorm room, hadn't fed on the roomie, and hadn't dumped the drunken girl on a bench somewhere. The unseen Vargr's lips pulled back from his teeth. This bloodsucker was strange, but that didn't give him a free pass. That Nigel leech already had one of those, being as he was a professor here and dusting him might cause comment. Plus, of course, he helped smooth things over now and then with a word in the right ear... a favor for a favor. This kid (well, he looked like a kid) didn't have a bargaining chip from where Owns-The-Night was standing. And yet... Maybe a warning, rather than outright death, might serve better. Changing his mind about waiting in the patch of shadow Adrian was heading for, the large wolf turned and slipped away into the darkness, heading for one of his caches of clothing.

So it was when Adrian emerged from the campus on the other side, after a nerve-wracking half hour of stalking through the shadows, he found a burly, silver-eyed man leaning up against his car, watching him as he stepped out onto the sidewalk. Dressed in jeans and a white tee, the man was most notably barefoot... in addition to maybe outweighing Adrian by 50lbs. Shaggy dark hair framed a face that the girls probably went gaga for, but of more import to Adrian was the way the man was looking at him. Steadily, levelly, without any fidgeting or shifting of weight.

"We need to talk." the big guy said, in a voice that contained a rumbling, growling bass note.

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"Hey man, I didn't know she came to the party with you," he said somewhat startled. By the look on the stranger's face, that wasn't the answer he was looking for.

Time to re-examine the situation. This guy wasn't a college kid. Too rough to be stylish, but not so rough it was cool - a working class guy then. Good looking, but needed to carry a comb (which he didn't). Bare feet meant ... what exactly? Did he need contact with the ground for some reason?

Wooooo ... that look had a home, and it was on someone that really didn't like his 'kind'. Sarah had that look, that essence that screamed out a oneness with the world as it once was. The uninitiated would call that Nature, but that wasn't how Sarah said it. That would mean ...

No, that didn't make any sense. For Frak's Sake this was the middle of civilization and from the tiny bit of knowledge (always a dangerous thing) that Adrian had, this kind of thing didn't come close to civilization unless they had a powerfully strong urge.

Adrian's brain was a hamster wheel powered by a nuclear reactor. He could pour the facts in, but he couldn't make them all fit.

"Aaaahhh ... I'm Adrian. What's wrong?"

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"You're trespassin', Adrian." Declan told him bluntly, not bothering to give his own name. "This campus, and about four blocks to the west of it, ain't for people who don't need suntan lotion. Ever." He moved then, away from the car, pacing in a loose, but closing circular path around Adrian. His voice contained quiet menace as he paced, watching Adrian with his head low on his broad shoulders. "I've been dusting you people for about six months now, and you don't seem to get it. So I thought I'd try talkin', see if we have a common language other than fang 'n claw."

"Wait." Adrian said, putting two and two together as he turned in place, keeping the dangerous-looking man in view. He had no weapons... But if Adrian was right, he wouldn't need weapons, and if a certain Mekhet were to draw a gun right now, then he'd need more than just that gun. On the plus side, the werewolf(?) wasn't attacking. Yet. A werewolf claiming the UCLA as territory? That would put a bug in the ass of every vampire in L.A. Though most would likely seek easier grounds if they knew, some might consider it a challenge.

"I am waitin'." Declan told him, lips parting from his teeth in what only an idiot would call a grin. "Waitin' for you to get gone. Consider it karma for you walkin' yer dinner date safely home."

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'Okay. Run away and save yourself, Dumbass.'

"Can I ask ... (gulp) ... something first? Umm ... before I get gone, that is?"

The wolf looked ... hell, he looked like someone had pissed on his kitten with gasoline and set it on fire.

"Really," Adrian held up his hand in a warding motion, "you gotta" and the wolf's look said WRONG WORD, (gulp) ... "Okay, give me a sec. Hear me out. I think you might .... ah ... be ... ah ... missing something."

A look of concern for something other than himself came out.

"I mean, if you like killing us," what what were the words, "those in need of suntan lotion, you may, ya know, be ... ah ... going about this a bit wrong. I guess if you like killing us - and having us kill on your turf - then I guess I'm screwed. But," Adrian took a step sideways to keep himself close to some kind of cover, "it not, then maybe we might find a way ... to ... ya know ... find another way."

'Now I just need to think of a way.'

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"I don't like not killing vamps." Declan said, his brow furrowing in a glare. "But I'm willin' to give one vamp a warnin'. Is that a mistake?" As he answered, the werewolf paced with Adrian, keeping the same amount of distance between them and the friendly patch of shadow. How fast are werewolves? Adrian wondered. Fast enough to have vampires older than me scared of them, is the answer.

"I was just thinking we could be, uh, of use to each other. That is-" he hastily corrected "-I could be useful to you! In exchange for, say, being able to come here to pass through and... attend night classes? Maybe hunt at the Frat Row parties- Which you've already seen I'm good about, right?! I don't kill or anything." He watched the big man's face, saw the eyes narrow calculatingly.

"I'm listenin'." Declan said shortly. "What can you do for me?"

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'Okay, I'm not instantly down the gullet, so to speak.'

"Dude ... I mean, Mr. Wolf ... uh ... there's a greater city out there. I travel through much of it all time. I hear things. I might hear things that involve you ... the campus I mean. Maybe you need something not in the phone book ... I could help with that."

"I could," he continued nervously, "maybe ..."

'Maybe saying - spread the warning about you being here - wouldn't be the smartest thing. Take a different tack.'

It was clear Adrian was shifting gears. His brows furrowed and he worried his lower lip.

"Listen," he said with a little more confidence, "I don't betray my friends,"

'Woops, we aren't friends,'

"Not saying that we are buddies or anything ... but ... I keep my word. You need help and I will do what I can. You need something I ain't got, but I know someone else who can, ya know, help. I can put you both in touch."

He gave a shrug.

"Believe it or not, I keep my word. It only makes sense in my book. If you can't be trusted, how much is your life worth?"

Something else came unbidden to Adrian's mind and it blurted out.

"Besides, it makes sense for me to need you. You keep my hunting ground free of idiots out for a quick bite with not a care for what it does to the person, and the campus as a whole. That's bad for me. If I can help you keep this place free and clear, why wouldn't I, ya know, work my ass of to help you?"

"You may not have much of a use for me today - tonight - but you've been working at this for some time. You know there might be ... I'm just say'n, might be some use you can find for me later. If you weren't thinking ahead to the next time something freaky cross's into what's yours, I doubt I would be (gulp) having this talking-to right now."

Adrian looked around, as if for some sylph of an idea.

"I'm a PI by the way. Been in the city all my life, which includes four this side of the Shadows. I got some know-how of the streets and I'm pretty good with my eyes."

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Declan pondered the offer, keeping one eye on the vampire, seeing if he'd sweat (okay, so the undead don't sweat, but the emotional reaction is the same). Finally, he spoke.


"Okay?" Adrian echoed as a question. Declan nodded.

"Yeah, okay. You keep an ear out for your fellow suckers. If they plan on coming down here in force, you let me know about it. You tell nobody nothing about who or what makes this place off limits. There's another vamp called Nigel who has the same deal with me, some professor here. If you play me a fool, I'll rip yer damned head off so fast you'll be able to watch your body turn to dust. Otherwise, you can come here, hunt here carefully, and have free passage through my range... Except one part." He stepped close, pointing up the street. "Cornstock Avenue, big long road there. You don't go down there, at all, clear?" Adrian nodded, and Declan nodded with him. "Good, cause I'll smell if you do, and if I smell you there, even if it's in a car, I won't give a fuck. The deal will be off, and there'll be no further talk." The silver eyes were hard as metal blades as they bored into Adrian's. "Anything about what I just said you think you have a problem with?"

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'Alright! I get to live!'

'Cornstock ... what the hell is up Cornstock Avenue?'

Not asking seemed the better part of valor, so ...

"Got it. Don't go there unless you tell me to, and then assume it's a gone-to-hell kind of thing. Got it in spades."

Adrian looked around just incase the other shoe was about to drop. When it didn't,

"Gotchya. Leaving now. Off to my car-like. I'm gone."

Adrian started to move off then turned back quickly pulling something from out of his jacket. In retrospect, not the brightest of moves, but damn, Adrian was fast.

"Here's my ... " and Adrian saw that the Vagr was less than pleased" ... aaahhhh ... my card," he finished with a squeak.

Adrian Moss

Confidential Investigations

(504) 555 - 1979

As the Wolf took it from his slightly quivering fingers, Adrian withdrew his hand and retreated once more.

'Saying anything else right now would be wwwwaaayyyy past my limit.'

The vampire walked down the street to his vintage Mustang (black) with it's top down. He jumped into the seat, put the key in the engine,

'Still alive.'

started it up, put it in gear, and looked behind him. Neither the Wolf, or any traffic was visible. He pulled off and headed down the road. Adrian stifled the urge to floor it and flee the scene. He didn't want to show panic to the one who was surely still watching him, but he also didn't want to wreck. So, he prayed to some Unseen God and steered for home.

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