Log:What Happens Next
It's the Marchant's home theater, great for meeting due to its size and comfort. The atmosphere isn't as pleasant as in past times, but the comfy chairs are there, and Jade would never host an event without catering. It's a fajita bar tonight, in honor of all the times Jade and Spear went out for fajitas. The parents aren't here, so there's tequila, too.
Jade is looking kind of rough. He's pale, with dark circles under his eyes, dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt, not even any eyeliner to make his eyes pop. His hair looks fantastic, though. It always does. "Come in," he tells people as they arrive. "Please, help yourselves to food and whatever else. I'm glad you came."
George has been itching to just DO something already. She's flunked out of school, has no future plans, and sadly, this is really the only thing she has going for her right now. Drugs, booze and vampires make for a nice distraction from thinking about the future. Well, not nice, but... a distraction, at least. She gives Jade a little nod of acknowledgement as he lets her in, heading straight for the tequila and tossing back a quick shot with a little hiss. "Okay, so. How are we doing this?" she asks, as she plops down on the arm of a chair, looking around expectantly.
Felicity has several notebooks and a stack of print-outs and copies of things, along with a bunch of sticky tabs in different colors. She's wearing jeans and purple t-shirt with a fractal printed on it. She finds somewhere to settle and starts playing with the leather and onyx bracelet on her wrist.
Amy's just a mixture of fear and fury and really something of a mess. She's dressed in a hoody, jeans and her stomping boots, looking like she's ready to just punch anyone for the slightest little thing. She makes her mind almost every day to just go out to the motel and save the students that were taken, but thinks better of doing such things alone by the light of day. She never was one for making plans, and now she's just sitting in the room when the call came out. Brooding. "I say again, should've just fuckin' burned down the motel before hand." She grumbles. "Gotta figure out where they're actually keeping Ashley and Spear and Arthur."
Cash has been unraveling. It's been a slow, subtle teardown. If he's not out driving, in an effort to 'clear his head', he's with Felicity or Hector or both but his mind isn't with them. Two days ago, he stopped talking. Not totally but he's not conversational at all. One or two words and back he goes into his head. He sits beside Felicity in ripped jeans and a t-shirt he's probably been wearing for a few days. His eyes are down on one of the holes in his jeans, he picks at the threads intensely.
Jade nods to George, then to Cash and Felicity. To Amy, he says, "You're not wrong." There's an air of brittle arrogance about him. Jade was sick a lot, growing up, in and out of the hospital a lot. Since middle school he's been pretty well, but tonight? Tonight he looks frail. Breakable. His movements are delicate and deliberate as he paces lightly. "I've got one stupid idea," he says. "It's a Hail Mary, last chance, do or die scenario. The night of the full moon, we go with the drinkers to where Fran leads them, and we throw everything we've got at her. No bravado, no big words. We kill the bitch and end this." He sighs softly, bowing his head. "If anyone else has a better plan, please take the floor and lay it out for us."
George listens to the others, nodding fervently at Amy's comment about burning down the motel. "Fuckin' A, cuz," she agrees. "Next time, we don't wait." Next time? Let's hope there's not a next time! Furrowing her brow, she hears Jade out. "Only trouble there is, how do we get the hostages back? I mean, I'm all for offing the bitch, don't get me wrong. But then what?" She's never been known for thinking ahead, but this one, she's actually been giving some thought to. Unfortunately, every plan just runs into the same sort of logistical problems. "I still say if I try to lure Fran out, so you guys can try to maybe talk some sense into her fuckin' followers... We can divide and conquer this shit, maybe."
Felicity looks up. "Okay. I'm totally for offing Fran, though, yeah, making sure that the hostages are at the motel and, if not, figuring out where they are is kinda crucial. I thought we were going to try to lure her somewhere we could get set-up ahead of time, though. Like Cash's house or... somewhere else we can prep. Like put up the fishing line and maybe set some other traps." There's a small pause. "Also, I've been doing old newspaper dives. Thus far, I've confirmed that Chan showed up when he said he did, not earlier, and that he seems to age over time. So... I think he's probably not Swindon. I want opinions on who I should be looking at next. Hector was suggesting maybe people who've married in to the families, but I'm open to other ideas."
Amy just sort of hunches down into the chair she's occupying, as if she could sink into it and just listen to anyone. "We could be sacrificing the others to do that though Jade." She says quietly, shaking her head. "I dunno what to do that doesn't get Spear and Ashley killed." She peers at Felicity, considering. "Does it matter who Swindon is? I was thinking of talking to Mister Chen because ... guys, I'm not the planner, okay?"
"Has anyone looked into Principal Ruth?" Cash says, just loud enough to be heard. His eyes stay down, picking at his jeans. "At graduation, I heard someone say she'd been the principal for almost twenty years. I wonder...I mean...does anyone have an old yearbook? Their parents?" Cash sighs. "I couldn't find my parent's and I didn't want to ask." He snaps a thread off his jeans and finds a new one to pick.
Jade nods slowly and says, "Those are all good points. I think, maybe, that when the fighters are fighting, the Bloomquists and Marchants work on the lackeys. Convince them that there's no winning this fight, and that their best bet is to return the hostages and leave us alone. Watching their leader get pummeled to a thin paste won't hurt the negotiations any. As for figuring out where they are..." He bites his lip, then says, "I know the Thistles can contact ghosts." It still sounds weird to him to say it with a straight face. "Maybe those ghosts could be convinced to run messages to Spear and back again. The Lesters are the best fighters among us, the Freelands are the strongest willed. We all have a part to play."
He nods then to Felicity and George. "Talking to Chen might help. Same with Bubba if we can find him. As for who to check out next... I don't know, if I was a powerful master vampire, would I want to be a principal of a high school? We could check her, though. I'll be honest, as long as Swindon minds his business and leaves us alone, I don't care to mess with him. Fran's the threat."
"Why do we care who Swindon is?" asks Star from a quiet corner in the back. She's been there the whole time, but this is the first thing she's said.
"I think we need to figure this out before the full moon. But okay, Jade, let's call that Plan B. Follow the drinkers to Fran, punch the shit out of her, and hope for the best." She doesn't really say that in a denigrating way, either. If it comes to it, that's the plan. "Fran wants someone from each of the families. If she kills the hostages, she's not going to get that either. So... maybe we can find some way to make her think that she's winning, to, yeah, lure her out or something." She blinks and looks over at Star, just noticing her presences. "Fuck, I dunno. Enemy of my enemy or something?" She shrugs.
Felicity shrugs. "We cared most that Chen wasn't Swindon, because if Chen was Swindon, then everything he tells us is suspect and we have to ask what his angle in telling us is. Also, all his advice about the stone and what we should or shouldn't do with it would become super questionable. Which was why we checked him first. Otherwise, well, because knowing who all the players are could be important. And all knowledge is useful." She gives Cash a nod and reaches over to take one of his hands. "I can look at that. The principal. And it might be someone's idea of a good stable position." She considers a moment. "Okay... now... follow drinkers or try to lure Fran somewhere we can control and prepare ahead of time? Following is mroe certain, but... the other is a stronger position, if we can manage it. And if so, where do we try to lure them?"
"Somewhere that it's harder to get away from. Less exits. Someplace covered so she can't just fly off. I mean, if shit goes bad it'll be harder for us to get away too, but." She shrugs. "We need something more. I can't just take her, you guys. I dunno if a bunch of us trying is going to make much difference. I mean, sure, I've stood up to her twice, and if the moon's shining maybe I can spook her a bit more but at the end of the day she's strong and faster than me. I'm good, but one mistake could be all it takes for her to break me." A pause and she glances down. "I don't know if I can be absolutely perfect for long enough to actually beat her. Even with Morrison and whoever else. We need more of an edge. Do we know what like, works against vamps for real? The holy water and shit?"
"Swindon could be an ally." Cash muses. "But if they aren't involved now...like Felicity said, information is useful." His shoulders slump. "We don't have enough of it. We can't win under these conditions. We'll lose. We'll die or worse." A long pause. "I filed missing persons reports for Ash, Art and Spear. And before anyone yells and calls me stupid, it was simple. I saw them at the Grad event. Haven't seen them since. That's all. I lie by omission but I can't keep making shit up. So. I did that."
"I'm happy to have that be our plan B," Jade says. "Like I said, it's our Hail Mary. If Chen's useful, cool. If not..." He shrugs. "I couldn't get an answer out of him about how to kill vampires, but I have a feeling fire will, at the very least, distract her. So let's talk Molotov cocktails, flare guns, hell flaming crossbow bolts. Light her up, put her out with holy water."
He walks over to the tequila and pours himself a shot. There's slices of lime and salt, which he employs before knocking the shot back. "Let's see if we can get some intel from ghosts. Star, what are your thoughts on that? Is it possible? Feasible? The more we know about where they're at, the better."
Star shakes her head. "Ghosts don't work like that," she says. "The dead don't just chill, waiting for people to ask them to run errands. They're generally tied to a place or thing."
George frowns as she looks at Amy. "Yeah, we're not letting you get yourself killed, if I can help it. Which I probably can't, but hey," she replies with a shrug, poorly feigning indifference. "What about somewhere like the school gym or something? We could secure the doors, so there's only one way in and out. And on the plus side, maybe it will destroy the school, which I'd call a real win." She heaves a sigh and shakes her head. "This motherfucker Chen is starting to piss me off with all this secrecy. Why is he so fuckin' cagey?"
Hector peels himself off the wall he was leaning on and comes to squeeze Cash's shoulder, "The bridge gosts didn't know anything. Like she says, knowing our inel is good matters. I feel better knowing Chen isn't one of them. I'd feel even better if we can work out who Swindon actually is, but.... Anyway, Bubba knows about Fran. Kowing who Swindon is oopens up options. Swindon verses Fran or taking out Swindon become options. I like options." He shrugs. He takes a breath, "Burning them up sounds very good to me right now. So does beheading crispy fucking vamp corpses. I like luring better than following, but best to plan for both. We making any progress on vampre nets?" He studies Amy, "Two of you on a non full moon were enough to unnerve her. Maybe when the moon is bright, if there are enough of us fighting, enough distracting... She's faster and stronger, but I think it was close enough to singe her a little. I still have hope. We haven't tried garlic or holy water, so that's just hope, not knowledge." He nods agreement with George, "Gym has too high a ceiling, but I was thinking something like that. An enclosed place with lots of floor space, no thresh hold protection, but low ceilings so they can't use flight to advantage.
Felicity nods slowly. "I suspect it will be difficult to lure them inside, but we can try. I think if we send them a note, they'll suspect a trap unless we're really careful with it. So... we need to figure out what could lure them without them expecting a trap and then pick our location based on our lure options." Apparently, she is the planner. "Though if you all think we can get them inside, even the gym is possible because that gives us lots of tie off points for creating a fishingline or wire web."
"Unnerve? Nah." Amy shakes her head. "I know how to read an opponent and yeah, she was surprised at what I managed, but she'll be ready next time. I know my limits, Hector, and I got no shame at them. I can dance with Fran for a time. The only thing that unnerved her was underestimating me. I don't think she's the kind to do that again. And the moon honestly just pisses me off. Maybe I'm a little more intimidating, I don't know, but I don't think it's something to bank on." She sits up straighter. "Don't get me wrong, I'll do whatever. Fight her to the death, whatever." She says in a kind of distant, resigned sort of tone, shaking her head. There's a glance at George. "I dunno. Probably trying to stop us from getting involved. Remember he told us to forget all about this, graduate, and move away. That was his best advice." She shrugs.
"This is going to get us killed." Cash repeats. Hector's closeness does nothing to improve his mood or demeanor. "Or get them killed. We can't do this." He closes his eyes, thinking. "I'm handy. I don't fear heights. You tell me what to do, I'll do it. String nets or...whatever." He pauses. "What about a basement? Low ceilings and an empty one may have floor space. Getting ourselves out could be a problem unless we plan ahead. Maybe my dad has a project or knows of one we can use." He doesn't look up still but his jeans are out of threads to pick. He reaches up and pulls out a few short strands of hair.
Jade nods to Star. "Then we have no intel on where they are," he says. "We're going to be going into this blind unless Chen decides to dish out some good stuff, like how to kill her. The problem I see is luring her out. We have nothing she wants til the full moon. What does she stand to gain confronting us before then on turf we've chosen?" Glancing around, he adds, "I don't think all of us are going to survive this, but she needs to die. Not just for us, for the town."
Hector looks down at Cash, "I hate to say it, because none of us are expendable, but Cash was right the other day about his potential to get them out after him like wasps after you hit the nest with a stick. I'm hoping we find a better idea." He nods, "A basement might be good, if we pick the right one." He catches Cash's hand as he's plucking hairs and catches it between his.
"Yeah, this is probably going to get us killed," George agrees with a shrug. "But if we don't do something, then the hostages are as good as dead, and probably those who already drank twice too. I mean, are vampires dead?" She considers this a moment and then shakes her head. "Whatever. She said she wanted them before the next full moon, right? So... we need to make her think that she's getting them, maybe. Like... what if we pretend we have her drinkers tied up in someone's basement, but let it get out, so she can try to rescue them or something. Make it a place she can get to, but pretend that we think she can't. I don't know. We have to make her think she's the one tricking us, if you ask me."
Felicity keeps ahold of Cash's other hand. Poor Cash. She nods. "That could work. Or Cash's house if he starts broadcasting about them again, though... if we go that route, then we need to make sure they don't go after Ms. Hellenbrand or anyone else instead of going where we want them. And I'm not sure how we do that."
"It's revival season. Church revivals. Tents sometimes. Buildings others. She's in and out of town holy rolling and will be until August, at least." Cash says, "But it's not a guarantee. Next best idea is getting someone to lure her out of town. I can't lie to her so..." He doesn't fight when his hands are held. He chews his lip. "I worry about a lot of our friends and family. We can't clear the town. We have to just do the best we can." He sniffs. "I think...if you kill the head vamp, elder? It changes the underlings back to humans...or something. Maybe? Did I dream that?"
"She has hostages," Jade says, "and that has us by the shorthairs. If Cash mouths off, she's as likely to kill a hostage as she is to show up for a confrontation. That's why I worry the only chance we'll see her out is on the full moon." He steeples his fingers and presses them to his lips. "Okay, so how about this? Felicity, if you can, try to figure out where she's keeping them. That's the intel we need. George, and whoever else, let's talk to Chen. We can try talking to Bubba, too. Then we meet again and figure out what to do with the information we gather. We continue to scope areas, but understand we have zero to barter with."
At the mention of not everyone being likely to survive, Amy's expression darkens and she just shifts on the spot, glancing around as people make further discussions, but she doesn't offer her thoughts on anything else for the moment.
Hector looks impressed by George's suggestion. To Cash he says, "Which is why knowing who Swindon is gives us the option of trying to permanently end this. You didn't dream, it, Cash." He deflates at Jade's points, "Bubba knows. I don't know if it will do any good. I do think whatever we do, we should decide together." He says firnly, "No one's expendable, but I think whatever we do there's an unnervingly large chance ofus losing people."
"Fine, whatever. Whatever we're going to do, let's do it," George agrees, getting antsy. "But you realize you're gonna have to invite her into your house for that to work, right, Cash?" She arches her brows to him, and then shrugs. She rolls her shoulders and glances around. "I'm down to talk to Chen though. But I'm not gonna be so nice about it this time. And what about those other vamps? Anyone gonna try talking to them, if we can get Fran away long enough?" Without waiting for an answer, she stands up to get herself another drink.
Felicity nods. "I'll see what I can figure out with public records searches. And we can send some people out to the motel to see if they can see anything, like them bringing in food or whatever." She glaces to George. "Want others with you when you talk to Chen? I could come." Pause. "Yeah, Okay. Maybe not Cash's house. And... I think she needs her current hostages. I hope she needs her current hostages, but... okay."
"She needs..." Cash thinks. "Art. Only because he's ready for the third drink. Ash never drank. Nor did Spear. They are expendable and are only of use as far as getting us to give them what they want. We refuse. They kill and probably take anyway." Cash's voice is a drained monotone. "Me and my house are bait. It's just a way to draw them out. They don't have to come into the house." He thinks for a moment. "What happens if we give them what they want? Let Fran have who she wants. Do what she wants. And then...we kill her. We lose our friends to vampirism for a while but we gain this leverage of /knowing/ our target. Unlike going over her head." He shrugs. "I don't like it, no. But it moves the goalpost."
Hector says, “I thought we were talking about the basement of a construction project?" He shakes his head, "She wants members of the five families for a reason. I'm pretty sure we will not like the result. Also? No one is expendable. My Sister is not expendable anymore than my Brother Spear is. I'm not trading the one for the other.”
Jade says gently, "We talk to Chen. We research everything we can about where they may be, who's who, what's what. We bank on her needing at least one hostage alive, and pray she keeps them all safe. Let's put out there what we want to ask Chen, so in the meeting, we're not just talking over one another with our individual questions. I want to know one thing: how do we kill the bitch?"
"How do we kill her, yeah," George agrees. "I say we refuse to leave until he tells us that one. I'm done playing nice." In case she hadn't made that clear. "I guess... I also want to know how much, like, humanity do her vampires keep? Can we even talk sense into her followers?" She heaves a sigh. "And sure, anyone who wants to come along can come, I guess. Maybe Chen will realize we mean business."
Felicity takes a deep breath. "One: How can she be killed. Two: Why does she want family members in particular. Three: Other than not inviting them in are there things which can make a place safe from vampires - garlic, crosses, whatever. I mean, running water clearly isn't a problem, but... other things might be. Four: Are there any metals to which they're vulnerable? Silver or whatever. Five: Would finding Swindon be useful. Any other questions anyone can think of?"
"Running water?" Amy notes thoughtfully. "The stone is apparently in the middle of a bridge, maybe it does matter." Then she goes back to being quiet and grumpy.
"No one is expendable." Cash echoes. "No one will be expended, if my idea works perfectly. Nothing is perfect though." He pulls his hands away and folds them in his lap. "We need the information. Without it, we are blind." He shakes his head. "I wish...I knew how to find them. Like...like super twin power. And I could save her." Cash laments before chewing his lip again.
Jade nods to Felicity. "Good. Good questions. If anyone else comes up with questions, get them to George before she talks to Chen. We can show up in numbers, but let's stick to the agenda we make beforehand." He then looks to Hector. "What does Bubba know? How does he know it?"
Hector's lips thin, "Same. How do we kill her. Maybe also, where else do they hang out besides the obvious." He cocks his head at Amy, "That's an interesting thought. I haven't tried the seed thing yet either. I carry them, but I forgot in all the... With everything that happened at the hedge maze." He kisses the top of Cash's head, "This isn't your fault. We'll get the information. We'll work out a plan. We'll get her back." He says quietly, "I informed him. Quietly, via coputer printed note. It was the best I could manage."
Felicity glances towards Cash as he pulls his hand away, her own sort of hanging there for a moment before she pulls it back and tries resting it against her leg, though after just a moment she starts touching her thumb to her fingertips sequentially back and forth. "Running water is supposed to stop or weaken them in some legends. And yeah, we should try the seed thing, as well. They're supposed to have to stop and count them. Again, in some legends. Actually, also we should find out if there are any kinds of wood they're more vulnerable to - rowan or ash or oak or whatever."
Cash shakes his head. "It's no one's /fault/. There was nothing we could do. Nothing to change it. Once Fran made up her mind, she was going to do what she wanted. I...maybe if I want it bad enough...I will find her. I don't know how but...fuck..." He wrings his hands. "We get the answers, we revise the plan."
"Write it up," Jade says. "The questions. Give them to George. We show up to Chen's if we can, but we let her take point on this. It was her idea." He nods then to Hector. "Well, he knows, then. We'll see what happens. Felicity, I'll get you a corkboard to keep track of this stuff and put it in your room. If you need supplies, I have money. It's no issue. Cash, keep wanting it. Want it more than you've ever wanted anything. And yeah. We get the answers, and we revise the plan." He nods to himself. "I think we have a direction to take now."
Hector eyes the red heads, "I wonder if bloomquist Luck and freeland Stubborn can work together." He nods to Jade, somthing of gratitude in his face.
Felicity nods to Jade. "I'll write them up. And a corkboard would be lovely. Sometimes it's nice to be able to see things laid out in large format." She glances up at Hector and gives him a slightly tired smile. "Let us hope."
"We gotta do more than hope." Cash gets up, in search of that tequila. "We need to pray. Only god can help us now. We need a motherfucking miracle." He finds a bottle of tequila and after a deep breath takes the bottle to the head. There is a reason Cash doesn't really drink. And chugging tequila is a hint.
Jade eyes Cash with some concern. "Dude, if you're going to puke, do it in the trash, okay? My parents aren't going to let me keep having people over if we have to steam clean the carpet in here." With that said, he grabs the remote and takes a seat in one of the comfy chairs. "Now that we've worked that out, let's just relax a little, okay? With some cartoons or whatever."