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World of Darkness: Attrition - Top of the Class (The Order III) [FIN]

Adrian Moss

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January 26th

Adrian was gathered together with the other two applicants to the Order Master. He really wasn’t a Master, he was Thomas, Initiate of the Untamed Void, but he was head and shoulders above the lowly slaves. He had a new mission and it didn’t take a genius to figure out what it was. The Shattering Cry had been only two nights earlier. Adrian suspected the two others of being here for the Order when it needed them and not out and about with a bunch of friends (who were really doing something).

What Adrian quickly learned that no one had come up with anything, not even Thomas. Thomas didn’t seem over concerned about it; he took the long term approach. Knowledge was a long and winding road where success went to the persistent, or so he proclaimed. The students were without comment. What could they say?

“Now, I want the three of you to expand on your earlier searches,” he continued. “Well, Ulysses and Victoria; Adrian wasn’t here for our preliminary investigations.” He eyed Adrian pointedly.

“But this will be a new set off efforts. I want all of you to outline what you are going to do and let me know what it is going to be … before you leave … in five minutes.”

Thomas went back to working at his desk as if the three of them were not there. Victoria began ringing her hands and pacing back and forth. Ulysses walked over to a small table, pulled out a pad, and began writing on it.

Adrian had a bigger problem. All he had to do was tell Thomas what he had learned and reap the rewards. He knew. Damn it, he knew what caused it, who caused it, and the possibility of a why … and he was bound by his oath. More importantly, he was bound by his friendship to those who had put their trust in him to not abuse the secrets they had offered. He could never face Declan again. Sarah would kill him, as would Amber. What Lucien, or Morgan, or Graham could do … well, it might be worse than letting Sarah skin him alive. Hell, he barely knew No Moss and Oneca, but he liked them. The Order would want to know more. There was no way of telling and not have it ruin his unlife. Hell, if he did this, he wouldn’t want to live.

Then it came to him.

“I know what I will do Thomas. I’ll …”

Thomas held up his hand.

“Good enough, Adrian. Go out and do it. You have two days, but I expect to have a good report then.”

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Two Days Later

“Now, I have reviewed, briefly, your reports,” Tomas began after an interminable wait. Adrian was still hungry. He had been hungry when he got there and he was still hungry four hours later while they all stood there and waited. Tomas seemed to be thorough and amused in equal measure with their efforts. At least he hoped he hadn’t provided all the laughs.

“I think this will have been your final tests. Tonight I will decide who stays and who goes to seek another master.”

“First off, Victoria. Your efforts were flawless and your information from multiple sources was first rate. I doubt you have slept since the time of the Event. Congratulations.”

“Ulysses,” he turned on the elegant bespectacled kindred. “Your efforts were only second compared to Victoria’s. You did a great deal of work, something I can be proud of to report to another member of the Ordo. Splendid.”

Ulysses gave a small grin of confidence. He knew how good he was. He was confident he would be the one chosen. After all, his contacts within the Ordo were impeccable. He already knew what was required by the Ordo and how to meet that need while the others were still figuring it out. Well, one of them anyway. Victoria could grow into trouble one day. This Adrian was hopeless. Ulysses didn’t understand him to be anything more than a failed legacy of a barely adequate member.

“Adrian … you didn’t give me what I requested, you went out on your own, again. Even then, I expected your effort to be barely adequate,” Tomas said with a distant voice full of disappointment.

“Instead, you gave me,” and his fangs showed through his grin and his eyes shown, “something totally unexpected. If you are accurate, this is priceless information. Listen, you two,” he motioned to Victoria and Ulysses.

“Here is one entry.”

"Gangrel Acquaintance – I was in Sonoma.”

“Adrian – Did you feel anything? No is a good answer.”

“GA - *sigh* Yeah. I did. That it? We done?”

“Adrian – Well, how did if feel?

“GA - Sorrow. 'Nuff said.”

“Adrian - What were you doing in Sonoma?

“GA - *silence*

“End of interview.”

“Well, can you believe that – in Sonoma! He found someone who had been in Sonoma.”

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“Oh, here is another one, this one from Mage 69 – a Magi!”

“Mage 69 – Well, orgasmic is a good work. Mixed with pain. As the howl happened I was in the middle of sexual relations with Genna Shuminenko, that Ukrainian fetish model? No, of course you have no idea who I’m talking about … anyway, as I was nearing climax the Howl tore through my mind. At first I thought it was possibly the calamari we had at dinner but no, this was more intense than bad sea food. Although it hurt like hell it was possibly the best orgasm I’ve ever had. Why do you ask?”

“While this is full of obvious falsehoods and obfuscations, there are kernels of real truth in there. This is a goldmine of information to the psyche and physiology of our Arcane cohabitants.”

“It goes on,” he says as he flips through the pages. Adrian is in something akin to shock. “Here we have Werewolf No. 7.”

“Werewolf No.7 - Adrian - Sure. Is my name going to be in this? Details?”

“A - No names. You will be ... Unnamed Werewolf No.7. Just the experience, so maybe some smarter people can make sense of it.”

Ulysses chuckles at that. He finds the anecdotes amusing.

“W7 - Adrian – Hrrrm. Okay, I'll share what it felt like. So, I was patrolling my turf when this howl hits me. It was agonizing, pain and heartache and sadness and rage all mixed together into a shotgun blast to the back of the head. It knocked me over, clutchin' and whimperin'.

“Can you believe it? This is fantastic!” Tomas gushed.

“A - Can we say what area you were patrolling?

“W7 - Hmm. UCLA campus. That's no big secret. I figure I was half-unconscious for about ten minutes before I got up and managed to stagger someplace safe. Headache lasted a day or two.”

“A - Did you sense any emotional context to the Event?”

“W7 - Despair, soul-crushing despair. And rage and pain, too.

“A - Thank you."

“W7 - No problem”

“A - I'm looking at getting a mages perspective. Should I ask Magi 58 or Magi 31? Magi 69 scares me.”

“W7 – See Magi 69 anyway. He will surprise you.”

“One more,” he says as he flips through the pages. “Ha, this one – Werewolf 8.”

“A – I have a project I’m working on for other vampires. I want you to describe what happened to you on the night of the Big Event. What happened to you? How did you feel?”

“W8 – I heard it, like an incredibly loud Howl, full of pain and anguish, and loneliness that seemed to reverberate across both the night and the Shadow World. It felt like it was ripping at both my body and my spirit. Indeed it felt like I’d been in a fight and unusually it took a number of hours to recover, something I hadn’t encountered since I Changed. Is that the sort of thing you needed?”

“A – Yes, thank you. Where were you, if I may know?”

“And it goes on in the same vein.”

“Adrian, this is your best work by far. Sadly, it really is your best work. You are hardly the kind of student I was looking for.”

Adrian seemed to shrink down as the pronouncement was handed down. He had failed his sire, and more importantly he had failed himself in something that had really started to matter to him.

“Ulysses and Victoria, Victoria and Ulysses – both of you are the kind of kindred that will fit in well with the Ordo. You are meticulous and intelligent. You both provide the kind of work that would hope to find in my supplicants.”

He held them both in his eyes. He was the Initiate – the one in charge, the one with the power over their fates.

“I choose Victoria,” he declared with vigor. Ulysses looked like he was pole-axed. Adrian had already accepted he had lost, so it was no big surprise.

“How,” managed Ulysses finally. “How can you choose her over me?”

Shouting at an Initiate of the Dragon was not wise. The room felt decidedly chilled and power seemed to flow like a deceptively vicious current from Tomas. Victoria lowered her head. Adrian took a step back. Ulysses, the focus of that attention stumbled back too.

“I’ll report your attitude to the next member you approach to serve, have no doubt. You may end up with your sire after all. I’m sure his level of pleasure in this development will be shared with you.”

Ulysses stumbled and fled the room. Adrian made ready to follow him.

“Hold a moment, Adrian.” The chill left the room with Ulysses departure. “You are an asset in the rough and unorthodox in how we approach our pursuit of knowledge and advancement. You go places I would not think to go and … I don’t know how to mine that properly. I am not sure I can be the right master for you, but …”

Adrian nearly stumbled again. Had he said ‘master’?

“I am offering you a place under my tutelage as my second – and secondary student. You will have to work harder, and you will get the least pleasant chores. In fact, I am putting under Victoria’s direction as well. You will get the chores she doesn’t see the need to do too.”

Adrian smiled. Being at the bottom rung was a familiar place to him. He would be okay. He would get better. He had to believe that now.

“You two are dismissed,” Tomas said in an off-handed manner. The Initiate of the Void went back to his work.

Adrian headed out then caught himself. He held the door for Victoria who all but bounced out of the room. She was definitely in a jaunty mood. Adrian shut the door and followed her toward the exit. Victoria stopped and waited for him.

‘Well, the shit starts now,’ the young Mekhet thought.

As he got close to her, eyes expectant, the female vampire with he severe hair style leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. Without a word, she turned around and left the floored Kindred behind.

‘What the hell was that all about,’ was the thought foremost in his mind.

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