No Veiled Threats – Part I
Quinn landed on the roof of the Sears Tower skyscraper in Chicago, the tallest building in the city. Freezing rain and sleet blew at him in a powerful gale. Barely a prickle on his naked skin, the vampire felt no discomfort despite his white tank top and worn jeans being soaking wet. Like this, a mortal would freeze to death in a few minutes. The wind roared and howled in a furious pitch as it slid through and along the stone and steel of the angular architecture. This night the visibility was next to nothing through the heavy downpour and roiling low hanging clouds. Even Quinn’s supernatural senses were of limited use in the storm. He liked being up here alone with his thoughts. It was at the same time a silent mockery and protest to the unofficial Ventrue establishment which resided on the top floors below his feet, Wilson Brokerage & Insurance the front for it. Quinn strolled along on the slick and slippery marble tiles staring at the impenetrable weather and pondering the previous events of the night.
“Mr. Quinntero, I do not want to tell you how to do your job. Our blood is involved in this mess. Someone is being disingenuous.” Critias said this to Quinn in the same one would use with a slow child. Quinn raised an eyebrow in obvious skepticism. The Brujah representative of the primogen had been hounding him about his shortcomings for the past ten minutes or so. He knew the ancient vampire expected and wanted a debate. Quinn wouldn’t win of course, which was the whole point.
“Sir, please tell me you’re not serious…” Quinn gestured with both hands indicating all of his surroundings. The two of them were standing on the roof of a parking structure on the edge of Quinn’s domain. “All of our kind are disingenuous. Honest vampire in an inherent contradiction.” It was Critias’ turn to smile this time.
“It really is – is it not” Critias turned and walked to the railing of the six storey building peering at the skyline of downtown Chicago, The Loop. A long minute went by in silence. Finally Quinn walked up next to the older vampire. “Mr. Quinntero, it is ironic – in my mortal days I considered this ‘persona’…”. Critias gestured a hand up and down at the gangster. “…to be the embodiment of civilized decline.” The elder vampire’s voice was suddenly cold; as if conveying some ancient hatred along with the words.
“That’s harsh – coming from a politician.” Quinn replied. He didn’t seem fazed by the swing in the mood.
“Please – that word is not applicable to people in office today. It has been perverted beyond recognizing. They are bureaucrats – nothing more.” Critias turned to look up at the much larger man. The two were in a lot of ways a study in contrasts. Critias short, slender and quite pale with a well-trimmed white beard. He wore a black tailored two thousand dollar suit with a silk tie the color of blood. Quinn stood a head taller. He had the build and posture of a warrior, bronze skin and several scars of battle visible on his bare arms. He probably outweighed the shorter man by fifty kilos. Both were striking figures and imposing in their own ways. “The turn of the thirteenth century lord of Culhuacan was not a politician I am sure. The great Kukulkan was a king, a ruler and a leader. That name survived the disappearance of the Mayans. I wonder how you ended up with that name so many centuries later?” Quinn couldn’t hide his reaction of surprise – he took an involuntary step back from the older vampire.
“No one knows that anymore.” Quinn replied uncertainty obvious in his voice. Critias shook his head and Quinn knew the debate was over now and he was being thrown off balance to pave way for the real reason of Critias’ precence.
“Do not be naive, Mr. Quinntero. Your ‘generation’ does not express interest in history. Of course it is known.” In reality Quinn was torn between the traditionalists and the new era. He couldn’t find comfort with either mindset. So he was really lost in the middle and in many ways didn’t know which foot to stand on.
“But you’ve never brought it up before – why now?” Quinn asked. Critias turned his attention to the view of the city once again. A mass of blinking red and blue lights, speared by the cone of a helicopter search light were racing along horizontally on the streets a couple of kilometers ahead.
“Well, there are several reasons. First – I wanted to give my condolences about your daughter; from your life that is. A terrible tragedy – my sympathies. We bear the spiritual scars of mortality forever I am afraid. Your youngest progeny – they are much alike, yes?” Critias didn’t look Quinn’s way as he spoke but Quinn could tell that there was genuine compassion in the words. He felt a slight tremble beginning at his core; some distant echo of a physical human emotional response. Quinn steeled his resolve immediately and suddenly became still like a statue. A single tear of blood ran down his cheek.
“El mismo espíritu.” He whispered.
“Of the same spirit, I see. In many ways I feel the same way about my progeny.” Critias looked at Quinn with the slightest hint of a smile. Then he pointed at the police approaching Quinn’s domain. “You have company, Mr. Quinntero. We will talk another night.” Quinn’s phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He knew what it was about. It was not important right now. He reluctantly tore his sight from the heat approaching his domain. A growl bubbled forth in his throat which should have no place there. It was too deep and could be felt as much as heard.
“What do you want with Sam?”
“Nothing sinister – I assure you…” Steel entered Critias’ voice. “…and don’t bristle at me.” He pointed at the police in the distance. “Now, go and vent your frustrations somewhere else before you do something we both will regret!” –And with those words the ancient vampire turned on his heels and stalked in the opposite direction. A sudden hard northern wind came in from Lake Michigan as if in answer to the boiling anger in the air. Quinn vaulted the railing in blinding speed. Now a massive panther, black as midnight raced with supernatural speed and grace along the rooftops of Gary. As it ran the winds picked up and the sleet and rain flew.