Satine had a vague suspicion that she was a bit naïve. It was hard to tell given how new she was to vampire society – sorry, kindred society and the Camarilla – but her lack of experience just made the probability of being naïve higher.
She knew that while she hadn't really met any kindred who didn't happen to be in Los Angeles (and she certainly hadn't met all the ones living there), the ones she had met had all shared certain characteristics. If they weren't Toreadors they weren't all that interested in humanity. Well, technically she'd never bothered asking if people like 'Vivi' and Isaac Abrams were Toreadors but it was kind of obvious.
Except she wasn't. She was a Ventrue and her experience with LaCroix had given her an interesting idea of what that meant. But it didn't mean concern with the humans. The 'kine' as they called it. Did that make her naïve? Was it just something that was perfectly natural and perhaps even common after death and that would fade in time?
The serial killer had defended his actions, despite insisting he didn't care what she thought, by demanding to know what other vampire had used their powers to help others. Well she didn't know about most (maybe Toreadors if they weren't too busy having real jobs) but she at least was going out there every night and trying in some small way to make this world of darkness a little less bleak. He was trying, too, but he was clearly unstable and pretty new if he was still tracking down his family's killers and his way involved lots of horribly killed people.
Would that be something she'd just get over as time passed? Unfortunately she'd have no way to know if her basic drive to help people and to view people as people would go away until more time had passed. At least she understood that others didn't share her view.
Jack, for instance. She loved Jack and she always would. He had been the only one to offer her any sort of help when LaCroix had told her she was a vampire and sent her off to be Mercurio's problem. He had saved her life from the Sabbat then and later, despite his having no idea where her loyalties lie, he had rescued her from the blood hunt out on her and gave her what she needed to come back from that.
But. But he had been clear from the beginning that he viewed humans as little more than cattle. That might have been his exact word for them. He simply did not care about them but he had also not advocated indiscriminately killing them. And yes, most of that seemed to stem from the need to preserve the masquerade and the need to not lose control to the beast inside but at least he wasn't out there terrorizing humans.
She had often heard the supposedly deep question 'is it better to do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason?' She was pretty sure it was supposed to be a difficult question and a rhetorical one at that but she hadn't understood why. Obviously it was better to do the right thing no matter why that was.
So she was cool with Jack and his disregard for humanity. If she refused to associate with people who didn't care about humans she'd do nothing but hang out with Toreadors all the time and she thought that that might honestly kill her.
But now she had found out something unsettling and she didn't know what to do. But it seemed like talking to the person involved was the logical starting place and so to the Last Round and Jack she went.
"Hey, kid," Jack greeted her when she approached him. "Have a drink."
As it happened, Satine wasn't sure what would happen if she tried to drink alcohol. She had thrown up the blood she tried to ingest from a homeless man at Jack's instigation and she was sure he'd find it just as funny the second time. And even if normal vampires could, she was a Ventrue so she had to be more careful.
"No thanks," she said politely.
"So what's going on?" Jack asked.
"What makes you think there's something going on?"
"You never come here unless something is," Jack said reasonably.
Satine automatically opened her mouth to dispute that and then stopped when she realized that he was right. "That's just because I'm really busy and things are always going on. And given that you remember that I was constantly over here telling you everything that LaCroix was up to, I still can't believe that you didn't think I picked a side!"
"Well you didn't tell anybody you wanted to be an Anarch."
Satine shrugged. "I thought it would seem disingenuous given that I was actively working for LaCroix at the time and certainly not very practical."
"It doesn't matter now because you're official," Jack told her. "So what's going on?"
"I heard a-a rumor," Satine said quietly. "It's kind of a big deal, I think, and it's probably private. Well it's definitely private but I'm not sure how many people here know about it so I'm not sure of the degree of privacy or-"
"Calm down, Satine, you're ranting," Jack said, holding up a hand. "Just spit it out. There's nothing you could say that the people here would betray me for. But for the record, no I'm not Jack the Ripper."
Satine paused. "I actually wasn't going to say that. Why? Does that come up a lot?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," Jack replied. "You might also be interested to know that I am not Jack Sparrow nor, to the best of my knowledge, was he based on me. No promises about anyone else, though."
Satine nodded. "I'll…keep that in mind."
"So what were you going to say?"
Satine lowered her voice further. "I heard that sometimes you and others go to a Camarilla-controlled city and sire a dozen or so random people without letting anyone know and just abandon them so that they'll cause problems for the prince in the city and try to stir up Anarch sentiment by exposing Camarilla weakness."
Jack's expression didn't change. "Is that so?"
"Is it true?"
"What would you do if it was?" Jack countered.
Well she hadn't expected a straight answer since even doing that once had gotten the man who murdered her killed and Jack had done it repeatedly. The Anarchs might not believe themselves to be subject to Camarilla law but Nines had still had to flee the blood hunt LaCroix had called down on his head.
"I would…not understand," Satine said finally.
"What's not to understand? You spelled out exactly what you think I'm doing and why," Jack pointed out.
Satine shook her head. "That's not what I mean. I don't understand because…I was told a few times that I was so very close to being Caitiff. I don't know what the other man was planning to do with me but if LaCroix hadn't found me and tried to kill me, ironically enough, I might never have learned anything about what I am now. When I met the thin bloods in Santa Monica they seemed barely even aware that they were vampires and had no idea what clan they were from. That could have been me, albeit with more powers."
"No it wasn't and you were a big part of that. You found me and explained what powers I had and how to use them. You taught me how to feed and warned me about the beast and even explained the political situation later on. You and LaCroix were the ones who really made sure I didn't become a Caitiff and he only did that because Nines challenged him. You didn't have any real reason to help me," Satine said.
"Are you so sure about that?" Jack asked. "You've heard the rumors about the sarcophagus."
"When I told you I didn't want to help LaCroix diablerize an elder you told me it might as well be me because if it wasn't he'd just find somebody else," Satine countered. "And don't say you wanted that person to be sympathetic because the only difference between me and someone else doing the job is that maybe if they were a different kind of person they would have died with LaCroix and if they were that kind of person I don't think you'd shed any proverbial tears."
"So I helped you. So I didn't have any ulterior motives," Jack agreed. "Why is this confusing you? You're out there playing saint, kid."
"I don't understand it because I'm very aware of just how close I came to being one of them. I've seen people who have had their whole world turned upside down without anyone even having the decency to explain and I've tried to elucidate things where I could but I don't know everything myself," Satine said. "You saved me from that fate and now I find out that you're forcing it on others. I don't know how often but you take a whole group of them and you drag them into this hell and you don't even tell them why."
"It would rather defeat the purpose to tell them why, wouldn't you say?" Jack asked rhetorically. "If the point is to cause chaos and weaken the Camarilla then explaining to them what they are and the rules would prevent that and they'd be no more likely to wreak havoc than anybody else."
She didn't expect him to care about the humans these new vampires were bound to kill but she had rather thought he would show more concern to vampires.
"What can the fate of these poor people be?" Satine wondered. "Like me, they weren't given any choice about this and they were probably chosen at random. And I almost met my true end before my body had a chance to even cool. Once they're determined to be a threat to the Masquerade they'll be executed. You're killing them and then setting them up to be killed again. At least when they're properly sired they have a chance to keep going on this Earth."
Jack was quiet for a long moment. "You're over-identifying, kid. These people are not you and you will not share their fate."
"It could have been so easily."
"But it wasn't and it never will be," Jack said firmly. "Try and keep a little perspective."
"Fine let's leave me out of it," Satine replied. "Don't you even care that you're bringing a childe into this world just to have them be shortly disposed of in the Anarchs war with the Camarilla?"
"I've admitted to nothing and I won't," Jack clarified. "But if that were the case then I'd have to tell you that of course it's not an ideal situation and I don't think that anybody is happy about it. But it does work to breed resistance and in a war sacrifices must be made."
Satine nodded vaguely. "Sure, sacrifices. Myself I might have died going after the Kuei-Jin alone or I might have ignored everyone and their mother's telling me not to open the sarcophagus and just peeked inside. Sacrifices happen. I get it. But acknowledging that that's true doesn't mean that you can just do whatever unspeakable thing you want and casually brush it all off with a 'sacrifices must be made.'"
"You really think it's such a casual decision? If I had anything to do with it then I'd be aware that I was risking my life every time I did it. There's a bond between sire and childe, a bond I know that you don't understand, and it would be difficult for me to leave them to that. I'm not one of them Sabbat assholes. I don't like seeing innocent kindred killed and that's why I helped you out. But I also know that we've held Los Angeles nonstop since the forties, the past with LaCroix excluded, and yet we've already been deemed a failed experiment by most of our kind," Jack said heatedly. "I know that within the heart of every Brujah beats an Anarch and they just need to believe in something. These little sacrifices are all the encouragement that they need."
"If that's all it takes to convince them maybe they could try fighting for what they clearly believe in," Satine said icily.
Jack laughed harshly. "In an ideal world, kid. You're young and so you can't possibly understand but most of the newer vampires go through an Anarch phase at least once during their life. Nines can tell you all about the friends he's had that have joined the Camarilla. Hell, even just since you've been around the Baron of Santa Monica has become the Prince of Santa Monica. Toreadors all join up when it's in vogue but Damsel's the only one I know that's lasted. It's not enough to just hold Los Angeles and to leave it at that. If nothing else it would make the Camarilla consider taking us on. We need to make more progress and for that we need to inspire people. We need to show that weakness and nothing shows more weakness than an out of control fledgling or ten set loose on an unsuspecting city. Do you understand that?"
Satine said nothing, gazing up at the ceiling. "I wish I didn't."
"But you still don't like it."
Satine smiled sadly. "Do you?"
"If I had anything to do with that I might hate it," Jack said.
"But you think it's worth it," Satine said.
"Like I said, you're very young. You managed to win us back Los Angeles with the careful application of behind the scenes maneuvering, Nines' miraculous ability to free a werewolf's head from its body, and you single-handedly taking down every Kuei-Jin in your way and I think that's colored your perspective. They may not like us running LA but they'll accept it. We can't just kill every prince we don't like and if LaCroix weren't so unpopular and his death such a mystery we wouldn't have even gotten away with that. We need others to rise up and sometimes the ends really do justify the means."
"And it's really helping?" Satine said in a small voice.
"I wouldn't be defending it in a hypothetical situation to you if I wasn't sure of it," Jack said.
Satine nodded. "I've got to go."
"I thought you might."
Satine stood a little shakily and headed for the door. She hadn't done anything. She hadn't hurt anybody. She would never do anything like that herself and not just because she refused to sire somebody.
So why did she suddenly feel like she was losing a piece of her soul?