This place was so much different than home. The night here was impersonal, threatening. The apartment was always quiet and cold when she opened the door. So much different than the street where her folks lived, where she lived just three months ago.
But she was independant here. The apartment and everything in it was hers. No one cast disapproving looks on Sunday morning after a late weekend of parties and downtown reveling. It wasn't the greatest neighborhood in San Francisco, but everyone has to start somewhere. It was called "positive thinking", and Catherine used it to keep her mind off the encroaching dark.
Catherine's mind was still on her independance when the monsters came for her.
Judas' eyes opened with a nearly-audible *snap*, and he sat bolt-upright from the matress. The girl still seemed so real, so vital... but he dismissed the notion. She was dead, the dreams were only afterimages of his contact with her freshly-dead corpse.
Judas dressed himself, and recounted the facts he gathered from Catherine's body.
FACT: Catherine was exsanguinated, and no blood remained at the scene. Vampiric feeding habit.
Not even a drop left for us, such a pity. Waste not, want not. Eh, Jude?
FACT: Multiple bites over Catherines body point to multiple attackers. A gang or pack of Vampires.
Oooooooooh... Smorgasbord or gangbang? Either way, it sounds like we missed all the fun.
FACT: Eyes and tongue are missing, presumed to have been collected by attackers.
So many uses for tongues... maybe they just wanted a memento of the evening, or something to play with.
Judas shut his eyes tight and focused his concentration. Like a flashbulb, Catherine's sightless, dead face appeared before him.
Awwwww. You don't really like her do you? She's dead Jude. Deader than you are...
"God Dammit! Just get back in your hole! I have work to do!", Judas didn't realize he was speaking out loud.
Somewhere in the recess of his mind, a voice chuckled to itself with great satisfaction.
Judas opened his suitcase, reached for the neatly folded maroon turtleneck, then with a resigned sigh, left the shirt untouched. Instead he shrugged into the same green turtleneck he's worn for months. He was pulling his grey jacket on when the phone pulled him out of his solitude.
"Mr. Templar, I'm afraid there is a matter which demands your attention. How quickly can you get to 1614 Francis Way, off of South Third street?", the voice was calm, measured, feminine. Judas recognized her as Willow, the Keeper of San Francisco's Elysium.
More importantly, she was Tremere, like Judas. "I'll be there in ten minutes." Judas hung up the phone and made for his car.
Francis Way was dark, like most of this area of town. Duplex housing crowded against each other, and in all cases drawn curtains witheld any light which could brighten the street. Dim streetlamps did little beyond deepening the shadows around them. It wasn't the sort of neighborhood where one chatted over their fence about the day's gossip.
Judas pulled his car into the driveway. The duplex at 1614 did not seem much different from the rest of the buildings. At least from the outside. As he stepped out of the car, Judas was met by a bald man wearing a tailored suit. He had a politician's smile, and a conspirator's shifty gaze. This was Louis Mason, at one time, he was the Deputy Coroner for East Baton Rouge Parrish. At one time, Louis Mason had a full head of hair too. These days, Louis worked for Prince Aristotle cleaning up messes left behind by others. A rotten job whether you were living or dead.
"Dis happen' mebee last night. We learnt 'bout it almost by accident. One o' de clanless stopped by for a bite first t'ing dis evenin' and... well you 'bout to see what he seen. He still bein' interviewed by the Sherrif." Louis and Judas entered the house from the back door.
The inside of the duplex was a disaster. Furniture lay broken almost into splinters everywhere. Fist and head-sized holes were scattered all over the interior walls. Broken knives lay on the floor along with a crushed aluminum baseball bat. Louis was the tour guide.
"Over here you see where de attackers got hol' of dey firs' victim...."
"...she got away though, pro'lly cause someone hit de attacker wit dis golf club..."
"...dey kep' fallin' back to de bedroom."
"Where they had no where else to run." Judas finished Louis' monologue. Six chalk-white bodies lay among the rubble of the bedroom furniture. One man, one woman, three teenage boys, and one girl, all mangled and broken. All missing their eyes and, following closer inspection, tongues.
"Dey's Russians. Just arrived two months ago. No local family. A near t'ing, far as de Masquerade is concern'. It look like Sabbat to me. Dey played wit' dem, let dem punch an' hit till de family was all played out."
Judas spent the next hour collecting evidence. A scrap of leather here, a silver stud there. Hair from the woman's fist. A broken knife-handle, anything that could help him discover the identity of this pack. When he was done, Judas left Louis to finish, "cleaning up". A house fire would protect the Masquerade.
Judas headed back towards Downtown. He needed to "interview" this clanless witness himself.