3: THIS IS OUR CITY
Jones makes the call.
“Another one?” Elena asks.
“Technically two, for now, but one isn’t staying.”
“Well, if you have time, there’s a bar near the Rack... Just if you have time.”
He gets the message.
Valia’s bar is near Stanford, popular with students, a retro hippy style marked out by the heavy wooden shutters that could keep the sun out during the day.
Valia looks up from her seat as Arthur looks in.
“Not seen you around before.”
“Someone recommended it.”
“The family room’s in the back.”
“Been here a while?”
“All my life, give or take.”
“Anyone else here now?”
“Who are you looking for in particular?”
“I know some. I can make a call.”
Pavel parks his car outside the Mission Dolores, looks up and shivers... looks over at a more modest church in the old building’s shadow.
As he steps in, eight of the thirty or so at the service notice without looking up. One of them, a small and stooped old Mediterranean man in a canon’s robes, sits behind the younger priest conducting the service in Latin, who does not seem to notice Pavel as he enters.
Arthur waits, an imported beer untouched in front of him.
“So you know the locals. Do you know a big guy, short cropped dark hair... on the main street, not very neighbourly?”
“Walker. Yeah... he doesn’t come in here. I mean, if it’s him. If there’s another one like that I’m sure we’ll hear about it.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s been around longer than I have.”
Pavel sits quietly at the back until the end of the service, when the canon approaches, flanked by a thin man with mixed native and Spanish heritage.
“Good evening, my son. Welcome to our parish.”
“I’m, ah, quite new to town. The publisher mentioned I could find my people here.”
“And I hope he has been proven correct.”
The canon is a small, unassuming man. Except to a vampire’s senses.
“What brings you to our Mission?”
Pavel takes the question literally.
“Something attacked the elders in my city. Some of us escaped. And... some left the night before.”
“I see. Troubling. Have you informed our mutual friend?”
“One of my fellow travellers said that he would.”
“And you seek aid in finding them?”
“I would like to know more, if you can offer aid. Speak to your congregation?”
“I can do this. This is our city. Little eludes us.”
The thin man steps back, letting Pavel pass unchallenged. The canon watches him leave, his expression thoughtful.
Arthur looks up as what appears to be a trust fund rebel with auburn dreadlocks and a small number of piercings enters. Valia nods to her and she steps over to meet Arthur.
“Secret.” She smirks. “So, what brings you to town?” She makes a point of picking up Arthur’s untouched beer and sipping it, makes a face as she swallows.
“Heard anything about Carson City?”
“Is that where Johnny Carson comes from?”
“Then I guess not.”
“It... went dark.”
C considers this for a moment, and hands him a card for a bookshop.
“Corner of Page Street and Masonic Avenue.”
“I know, right? How could we not?” She smiles for a moment. “Mother Surnow might know something. She’s seen this place turn upside down. But if she doesn’t, there aren’t many of us. We’re one officially tolerated cult among many but this is the other team’s town. They were here first. As in before the town was a town.”
Jones looks for somewhere to stay, thinks for a moment, then starts looking at recent rents and purchases. He calls Pavel, on the way out of the church.
“Might be our friends from back home.”
“Watch for a while. I can find someone to keep an eye on it during the day...”
Pavel stops as he finds a flyer on the windshield of his car.
REJECT THE LIE. LOOK UP AND KNOW THE TRUTH.
A photocopy of words and letters assembled from a newspaper, and a mockingbird from a book cover under it.
He looks around. None of the other cars in the church’s parking lot have been flyered.
He looks under his car for bombs before getting in, throwing the crumpled flyer onto the passenger seat before driving off.
A short session, down a couple players and bringing a new character up to speed. Valia is a local rather than a refugee, and created to be willing to help the new arrivals and have an investment in the city.
Weird trivia: I used Canadian actor Laurence Leboeuf as a visual reference for C after seeing her in various guises in Being Erica, which I was watching because co-star Tyron Leitso was likewise cast as London in Never Let Go. (And this includes an appearance in the Vampire LARP episode, although sadly not in vampire costume.)