Author's note: This story contains elements from the episode "The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori" written by Scott Smith Miller. The events of this story take place after this episode's timeline. Others own the rights to the Kindred: The Embraced and White Wolf characters. All other characters are my creations. Please do not use them without my permission.

The Investigation – Part 1

By Diane Maher

Julian Luna quietly came up the steps into his library and found his friend Cash holding a body close to him and muttering about how he should have protected him. When the Gangrel placed the body back on the floor and bowed his head in grief, Julian watched as the appearance of the prone figure changed to reveal that of a woman. He recognized her as the Assamite who had tried to kill him a couple of days ago. Whoever wanted him dead, had failed now that Eddie Fiori had killed their hired assassin.

"Cash," Julian began.

The Gangrel looked over his shoulder. His eyes widened in disbelief as he saw Julian standing there. Julian continued, "The Assamite knew she had to get rid of you to get close to me. Eddie's impatience to kill me will cost him his head. I showed him mercy once. This kind of betrayal is unforgivable."

Cash nodded and stood next to Julian. "What's next?" asked Cash.

"Eddie will call a meeting of the primogen to announce my death and take control of the city as the new prince," Julian said. He held up his hand to forestall Cash's reaction until he finished speaking. "When you go, do not let Eddie know that I am still alive," Julian finished.

"What will you do?" Cash asked.

"I will bring the Ventrue and dispute Eddie's claim to this city. Go prepared for anything. One way or another, Fiori will be punished. When you are notified of the meeting, tell me when and where it is to be held and we shall go our separate ways."

"Yes Julian," Cash replied and left the room to give the orders to his Gangrel.

Julian covered the Assamite's body with a sheet from the closet down the hall and phoned Sonny. Once they knew the details of the meeting, he would have his childe bring the Ventrue to the location where Eddie would most likely try to take control of the city.

Although Alan wasn't anxious to reveal his presence, Shahin's second failure to kill the prince forced his hand. From the little information he had gathered prior to arriving in San Francisco, Alan knew where the prince lived, but not what he looked like.

A short while later, upon his arrival at the Luna mansion gate, Alan stopped his Harley and said, "I'm here to see the prince."

"Just a moment," one of the youths on duty at the gate replied. He snapped his fingers at his friend who called inside.

After a lengthy discussion, he nodded and then hung up, his friend said, "Follow us."

The first youth started towards the mansion. Alan followed although he was amazed at how easily he was being allowed inside this place considering the recent assassination attempt on the prince. Perhaps they wanted to keep the illusion of things being normal, as though nothing had happened.

Alan considered his mission as they walked up the steps leading into the mansion. Al-Ashrad wanted Alan to try and get this prince to accept some of the Assamites in his city. Ashrad had also told Alan that something big was likely to happen to the clan and soon. Alan wondered about that as he followed the youth through the door, down a long hall and up a curved flight of steps. He had been instructed to reveal himself to the prince according to the ways of the Camarilla as this prince was known for his interpretation and enforcement of Kindred law.

When they reached the top of the steps, there was another door. The youth rapped lightly on it and someone inside replied, "Come in."

Opening the door, Alan walked into a plush room, and the youth left to return to his post. At first glance, it appeared to be a conference room. He saw a gray-haired man sitting in a chair and staring into the fire in the fireplace.

"Are you the prince?" Alan asked.

The man stood and regarded him coolly for a moment before replying, "No, I'm not the prince. I am Archon Raine of the Ventrue. I assume that you are new to the city?"

Alan nodded and replied, "My name is Alan Ash. Where is the prince?"

There was a long pause before Archon replied, "He is...elsewhere."

Frowning, Alan asked, "Are you certain that nothing else is wrong? I've heard a rumor that the prince is dead."

From behind him, someone said, "If you are here on behalf of the Brujah, then yes, the prince is dead."

Alan cocked his head to the left and his brow rose in curiosity as he turned to face the door. "All I'm here for right now is to introduce myself to the prince. I understand that is customary when one is new to a city," replied Alan.

The black man nodded once in acknowledgement and said, "I'm Sonny Toussaint."

The other man wearing the elegant suit frowned, stepped forward and asked, "Who are you? What clan are you?"

Alan turned to this man and replied calmly, "My name is Alan Ash. I'm an Assamite."

Sonny whipped a phosphorus gun from his holster and pointed the gun towards Alan.

Alan raised his hands and said, "Take it easy, I'm not here to kill your prince. If I was here under that pretense, I would hardly announce myself." Sonny's gun didn't waver. Archon opened a long box and pulled out a shotgun. The other man frowned and also pulled out a gun and pointed it at him. Alan sighed, shook his head and slowly lowered his hands. "I am here to find out who hired my clanmate and whether that person or persons gave her bad information which resulted in her death."

"Keep them up, assassin," Archon said. Alan kept his hands up. "Sonny, check him for weapons."

Sonny went over and frisked Alan, removing his gun and Kukri knife. "Satisfied?" Alan asked sarcastically.

"For the moment," replied Archon as he kept the shotgun leveled at Alan.

Alan watched as the man standing next to Sonny wearing the suit crossed the room and placed his hand on the back of the chair that the one called Archon had vacated. Alan noticed that the other Kindred present seemed to defer to this one.

"Where will you start your investigation?" asked the man.

Alan stared into the fire for a minute before replying, "With the Brujah named Eddie Fiori."

He smiled as he considered Alan's proposal to investigate the Brujah primogen. "Interesting choice. By the way, I am Julian Luna of clan Ventrue."

Alan nodded, lowered his hands and said, "Ah, you are the prince."

Julian nodded once and asked, "Why are you starting your investigation with Eddie?"

Alan continued, "Fiori is the obvious choice because of his ambition to be prince of this city."

Julian asked, "You expect me to believe that you're not here to finish the job on Eddie's behalf?"

Alan looked frankly at Julian and replied, "Yes."

Julian said in a menacing tone, "Give me one good reason I shouldn't order your death now, Assamite."

Alan thought for a minute before replying, "You don't believe in condemning someone just because of their clan affiliation."

Julian smiled grimly before inquiring, "And what happens then?"

"Depending on what I find, those responsible will either live or die," replied Alan grimly.

"That's a foregone conclusion. Tell me how you know about Eddie's ambition to be prince," said Julian.

Alan replied, "I have been looking into this matter since before arriving in the city. I have gathered information about Eddie through various sources."

"It's not like Eddie goes around and says that he wants to be prince," Julian said, a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

Alan's lips curved into a devious smile. He said, "Eddie has believed himself to be virtually invincible and the logical successor for the princedom of this city for some time now."

Cash entered the room and said, "I just got a call from Mario, one of Eddie's Brujah bodyguards. He said that the meeting will be at the Dock Workers' Union office in two hours."

"Thank you, Cash," acknowledged Julian. "I'll arrive promptly."

Julian walked towards the window apparently contemplating something. When Julian turned around after a minute, he said, "Alan, I'll allow you to investigate as long as you tell me who hired the assassin. Beyond that, I'll see to the offender's punishment." Alan opened his mouth to protest, and Julian held up his hand and continued, "My word is the law in this city." Alan briefly considered the offer and with a shrug and a nod, agreed.

Julian turned away, stared out the window, and considered his situation. Right now, he was dead and the Brujah primogen was making his bid for power in two hours. He was considering making a deal with an assassin and by falling in love with Caitlin, now shared his house with a very jealous ex-girlfriend.

Julian said, "Please excuse me. I wish to speak with Cash. Archon, wait with Alan in the office down the hall. Sonny, you know what I want done." Alan, Archon and Sonny left the room. Julian turned towards the Gangrel and asked, "Cash, what is the guard situation at the Dock Workers' Union office?"

"From what I know of our past encounters, Fiori keeps most of the guards near him. He does have one or two inside the building and at least one on the roof. I would expect him to beef up his security around himself now that he thinks he's prince," replied Cash.

Julian nodded in agreement and then said, "I need to arrive unannounced to that meeting."

"How will you do that?" asked Cash. "Won't Eddie be expecting some kind of retaliation from either of our clans?"

"Probably," agreed Julian. "That's why I need to immobilize the guards so they don't alert Eddie to my presence."

Cash thought for a moment before a frown crossed his face and he replied, "Julian, you're not going to have Alan kill the guards?"

Julian said nothing as he motioned for Cash to follow him. "No. The primogen would wonder whether their clan was safe and when they were next. I would lose their trust--such as it is--and the peace between the clans would be shattered. Remember, as far as Eddie is concerned, I'm dead. You must act as though I am until I arrive. I'll drive myself, so no one else knows of the situation."

Cash nodded in agreement and then left. Julian considered his decision to use Alan to keep the Brujah unaware of Eddie's failure to kill him until the moment was right.

Alan observed Archon as the Ventrue paced nervously across the room to the window. Alan focused his will briefly upon the older Ventrue before asking, "Is there a reason that you have such bitterness within you?"

Archon slowly turned to face him. His face was a studied mask of calmness. "What do you know of such things?" asked Archon.

Alan calmly folded his arms across his chest and replied, "Enough to know that since I'm an Assamite, you despise me, but your hatred of the Brujah runs much deeper."

A sardonic smile crossed Archon's face and he replied, "It's personal and none of your or anyone else's business."

Alan closed his eyes, sighed and shook his head in amazement before replying, "It usually is personal."

"You've got nerve trying to psychoanalyze me Assamite," Archon commented.

Alan shrugged. "Not really."

"You should stay out of your elders' business," Archon muttered.

"Ha! My elders' business? I'm not a neonate, Ventrue," Alan replied disdainfully.

"By my standards, I believe you are. When were you embraced?" asked Archon.

"In the summer of 1943," replied Alan.

"You are but a child among us. I've been Kindred since before people started arriving in the New World," said Archon.

"I suppose that was arrogant on my part," Alan admitted with a hint of a wry grin. He was about to continue, but heard approaching footsteps and fell silent.

Julian walked down the hall to the office and entered. He found Archon and Alan silently waiting for him. The atmosphere of the room was thick with tension, Julian noticed. Looking at Alan, Julian wondered how far he could rely on the Assamite's word. His instincts told him to not trust Alan, but the circumstances dictated otherwise. Turning to Archon, Julian said, "Archon, you will go to Eddie's meeting and act as the Ventrue primogen."

Archon nodded and added, "I will conduct myself as though you are dead."

Julian nodded in satisfaction. To Alan, he then said, "I need your help to arrive at the meeting of the primogen in secret."

Alan cocked his head to one side, looked inquisitively at Julian who nodded. "Are you saying that you trust me?" asked Alan, skeptical.

"No," replied Julian. "But for the moment, I need your help."

Alan said, "And in return for my help, I hope you will consider my request to remain in San Francisco."

Archon warned, "Julian, don't trust him."

Julian noticed that Alan shifted his dark gaze to Archon but remained silent.

"I expect you to disable the guards at the meeting place. I don't want a bloodbath. Is that clear?" asked Julian.

"Perfectly. I will do as you ask," replied Alan. "What is the guard situation like at the meeting place?"

"A few guards posted inside the building and a few more on the roof. Eddie tends to keep most of his guards around him," said Julian.

Alan nodded. "How many floors are there in the building?"

"Three, including the roof," replied Julian. Alan nodded again before sitting down in a chair and closing his eyes.

"What are you doing?" asked Julian.

Without opening his eyes, Alan replied, "I'm meditating. I try to do so before going on a mission."

"This isn't a mission, consider it a favor for me," Julian said. Alan said nothing.

Archon pulled Julian across the room away from Alan. "Do you think he'll go through with it?" inquired Archon in a whisper.

Julian shrugged and whispered in reply, "I hope so, Archon."

Across the room, Sonny shook his head and exclaimed in disbelief, "I can't believe you're allowing this...this assassin to be this close to you! You've even asked him to do something for you!"

Julian whirled towards Sonny. When Sonny saw the furious expression on Julian's face, he cringed away from his sire's wrath. "I'm asking Alan to go where you and the other Ventrue can't go. He will be in great danger if he's discovered by the Brujah," replied Julian.

"Can't you send Cash?" asked Sonny.

"I could accompany him, Julian," Cash said from behind them.

"Since when do the Gangrel associate with an Assamite?" demanded Sonny angrily.

Ignoring Sonny's comment, Cash said, "From what little I know about the Assamites, he can become invisible and can shapeshift into a human-like appearance. I can't do either of those things. Besides, as my clan's primogen, I have to attend the meeting. I can't spy on it at the same time." The Gangrel came and stood next to Julian.

Sonny was beside himself with frustration. "For cryin' out loud! You can't trust an Assamite!"

Alan opened his eyes then and glared at Sonny with silver glowing eyes. Julian saw the fury in Alan's expression. The Assamite didn't hide his anger at Sonny's biased comment. Alan wished that he could suck this man dry, but the curse on those of his blood prevented that. Such insubordination wouldn't be tolerated in his clan. Pushing down his anger, Alan closed his eyes again and focused his energy towards his mission.

Julian said, "Sonny, you know where we're to meet. You will say nothing about Alan to the other Ventrue, is that understood? And put Alan's weapons on the table next to him."

Sonny's expression was grim when he grudgingly replied, "Yes, my prince."

Alan pulled up in front of the Dock Workers' union offices and parked his Harley. He looked up and saw a guard look down from the roof. There was no one stationed outside the front door, though Alan assumed there were guards inside.

Alan walked to the door, tried to open it, found it locked and knocked. Moments later, the door was opened by a youth with long, dark hair and a cocky expression and he asked, "Who are you?"

Alan replied, "I'm new to the city and am here to see the prince. I've heard in the streets that the prince can be found here."

Nodding once, the youth said, "Follow me." He then turned and started towards the steps on the far side of the room.

Alan took two steps, grabbed the youth by his shoulders, spun him around, and clasped his hand over the Brujah's mouth. He struggled but Alan held him firmly and dragged him into an empty office.

"Who are you?" demanded Alan with a scowl.

The youth's eyes bulged with fear and he stuttered, "M-m-my name is J-Jason."

Alan leaned closer and whispered, "Tell me exactly what the guard situation is like in this building."

Jason's voice trembled with fear as he replied, "Don't hurt me!"

"Give me the information I want, and you will have nothing to fear," Alan whispered. "If you lie to me, I will kill you." To emphasize his meaning, Alan pulled out his Kukri knife and held it to Jason's neck right at his jugular vein.

Jason was on the verge of panic as the blade touched his neck. He said, "There's one other guard on this floor, one on the roof and the rest are with the prince."

Alan considered Jason's reply for a moment. If Jason lied to him, he would kill him without a second thought. With a sly grin, Alan punched Jason hard in the face.

Jason's body slumped in Alan's arms. He bound and gagged the young Brujah before he resheathed his knife. "Fool," Alan muttered under his breath. Alan's face began to distort as his appearance shifted. Fortunately, Jason was of similar build to himself. It made his appearance as Jason that much more believable.

Alan quietly closed the door and left the office in search of his next target. He listened to the silence around him. He heard a step behind him and then turned around. Another young man stood behind him.

"Everything ok, Jason?" the newcomer asked.

"Yeah," Alan replied with a sly grin. "This area is secure."

When the other Brujah turned to leave and continue his sweep of the area, Alan quietly subdued him from behind in the same way he'd taken care of Jason. After securing this second Brujah in the office, Alan glanced quickly at his watch. Julian would be here soon.

Alan headed up the steps to the roof. If he was challenged as to his presence, he was going to say that he was on his way to relieve the guard on the roof by the prince's order.

Thus far, he had been lucky that the two guards he had encountered were relatively inexperienced and easily subdued. As he got closer to the prince, Alan knew that wouldn't continue to be the case.

As Alan climbed the ladder to the roof, he focused once more on his mission. When he reached the door which led to the roof, Alan gently pushed upwards on it and eased himself through the opening. When Alan closed the door, he stood, turned around and found himself face to face with a burly man who reminded him of some of the older biker gang members he had seen, leather jacket, beer gut and all.

"Jason, what the hell are you doing up here?" the man demanded.

"I needed some fresh air," replied Alan.

The man turned away before a harsh bark came from his lips. "Ha!" he barked. "You're not the outdoors type."

Rolling his eyes upward, Alan shrugged as he followed the portly Brujah as he walked to the edge of the roof. He wanted to strike this one from behind as he had the other two guards, but was aware that the man was keeping an eye on him over his shoulder – as though he suspected something was wrong. The logical thing for Alan to do at this point was to kill the Brujah. Alan realized that he would have to choose his moment to subdue this Brujah just right or else he would be the one dying tonight.

The man turned to face Alan and commented, "You seem quiet tonight Jason. That's not normal for you. Usually, you're talking my ears off about this woman or that woman or something."

"Can't I just relax and take in the sights for an instant?" asked Alan, irritated. He was weary of this verbal cat and mouse game the Brujah was engaging in with him.

The man turned and replied, "No. You have to go back inside and return to your post. The prince will begin his meeting soon. I'll keep to my post here. We don't want any unexpected surprises."

Alan replied, "No, of course not." He turned and walked back towards the door in the roof. A quick glance over his shoulder showed that the Brujah was looking down at the parking lot. From this vantage point, he would be able to see Julian's arrival. Alan paused briefly to consider his next move.

Suddenly, Alan felt a hand on his shoulder. The Brujah had used his discipline of celeritous speed and crossed the distance between them in an instant. Alan turned and the Brujah's punch slammed into his face. Stunned, he stepped back and shook his head.

"Damn!" Alan muttered as he licked the blood from his split lip.

The Brujah came at him again and landed a second punch in his stomach and another in his face. As Alan stumbled to one knee, the Brujah demanded through clenched teeth, "Who the hell are you?" Alan's leg swung out and swept the Brujah off his feet.

"Jason," Alan replied with a slight frown. The situation was deteriorating too rapidly.

Shaking his head as struck the ground, the man said, "Jason can't move like that. I know; I'm his sire."

"I've learned my lessons well, sire," Alan said, his tone mocking the Brujah.

"You bastard! What have you done with Jason?" the man demanded.

Alan chuckled. "He lives. What difference does it make to you?" He lunged towards the Brujah and landed a punch in his face and his stomach before the other man could defend himself. The Brujah fell to his knees gasping for breath.

"Why are you doing this?" the man demanded. His eyes widened in fear and he asked, "What are you?"

Alan was silent as he reached inside his pocket and withdrew a vial filled with blood.

"How could you make yourself look like Jason? Unless you're one of those filthy assassins!" the man sputtered.

Alan kicked the Brujah in the stomach and the man rolled onto his back moaning in pain. Slowly, Alan unscrewed the vial's cap and muttered a brief incantation. Alan sat on the Brujah's chest, pinning his arms beneath his legs, forcibly opened the Brujah's mouth, poured the blood into his throat, and then held his jaw firmly closed to make sure that it was swallowed and not spit out.

"Oh Christ, you're a blasted Tremere warlock!" the Brujah cried out when Alan released his jaw.

Alan whispered, "You will remember nothing of this incident." The blood magic caused the Brujah to stare numbly into space. Satisfied, Alan punched the man in the face a couple of times to ensure that he was unconscious, and then stood and crossed to the edge of the building.

Looking down, Alan saw Julian and several others approaching the building. With a wry grin, Alan went back inside the building. It was time for him to go and play the part of the loyal Brujah bodyguard for a short while.

Alan went down to the office and stood just inside the door. Eddie acknowledged his presence with a silent nod. The first primogen arrived for the meeting. She was a beautiful, statuesque woman with shoulder length dark hair.

Alan watched as Eddie stood, came around the desk, and put his arms around her. She had a sad expression on her face and made no attempt to move away from him.

"Lillie, it's all for the best. You know that your clan will prosper now that the Brujah are in power," Eddie said.

Lillie was sad when she replied, "Sure Eddie. Once it gets out that I helped you, I'm dead for sure."

"It won't get out," Eddie said in a reassuring tone.

"You're wrong. Lillie told me what she did," a voice said from the door.

Alan saw who he assumed was the Nosferatu primogen entering the room. Inwardly, he shuddered with revulsion. Outwardly, he remained calm and turned his attention back to the primogen.

Eddie glared at Lillie and released her with a slight shove. He turned and strode angrily behind his desk. She straightened her shoulders, turned and sat in one of the chairs arranged in front of Eddie's desk. The Gangrel and Ventrue primogen arrived then and nothing further was said between Eddie and Lillie.

Once everyone was settled, Alan stood at the doorway to watch as events unfolded.

"Jason, will you take a post outside the door?" asked Eddie.

Alan nodded once and went outside the door. He listened as Eddie started the meeting. He heard the sound of footsteps below. When he went to the top of the steps to investigate, he looked down and saw Sonny, Julian and several others. The Ventrue had arrived. He motioned for them to be quiet as they came upstairs. Sonny stared at him as he reached the top of the steps.

Alan preceded the Ventrue into the office and took up a post just inside the door. He listened as he waited for Julian to enter and put an end to Eddie's hopes of ruling the city.

As Julian drove to the Dock Workers' offices, he wondered how far he could trust Alan. He considered the situation he faced at Eddie's meeting tonight. Because of Alan's clan affiliation, I shouldn't trust him, but I know that an Assamite will get the job done, Julian thought.

Shaking his head, Julian knew that it was a moot point to be second guessing his judgment now. Alan had agreed to do what he asked in return for his consideration to allow the Assamite to remain in the city. Julian couldn't discuss the situation with anyone as Archon and Cash had already left for the meeting. Sonny and the other Ventrue would meet him outside the building. He would evaluate this situation later, after Eddie was punished for his actions.

The Ventrue who met Julian at the union offices were mostly police and law enforcement types. As Julian stepped from the car, he noticed how few of his clan there were present. He would have to take stock of their numbers in the city later.

When they entered the building, there were no guards in sight. A youth appeared at the top of the steps and motioned for them to come up the stairs quietly.

As they arrived just outside the door to Eddie's office, Julian listened as Eddie made his bid to take over the city as prince. Julian looked at the youth who stood in front of him.

Nodding once, the youth walked back into the room and stood just inside the door.

Julian smiled inwardly as he realized that the youth must be Alan in disguise. The Assamite had done what he asked. Whether it was done without bloodshed, Julian had no way of knowing until the next time he spoke with Alan.

In the form of Jason, Alan watched as Eddie arrogantly announced that the Brujah now ruled the city with him as the new prince. Alan thought that the lack of reaction from the primogen present at the meeting suggested that they were unlikely to challenge the Brujah's claim to the princedom.

Eddie came around to the front of the desk and sat on the edge. He began, "Julian is dead."

Before Eddie continued, he looked at each of the primogen seated before him. Shaking his head, he said, "You all know how awful Julian treated the Brujah. You knew it was wrong, but were too afraid of Julian to protest. However, the clans will prosper under my rule."

The primogen were silent. Alan watched in amazement how easily Eddie believed that the other primogen capitulated to him. What a load of bullshit Eddie was giving to them. Did he seriously think that taking over the princedom of the city was this easy?

"Now that Julian's gone," Eddie finished, "the Brujah will rule this city with me as prince. Is there anyone here who will challenge my right to rule?" None of the primogen said anything.

Julian entered the room then and said, "I will."

The Brujah enforcers present whirled around, cocked their guns and pointed them towards the source of the voice. The Ventrue came up behind Julian and did likewise. Eddie moved around the desk to confront Julian.

The bald-headed primogen turned towards the door and screamed in shock at seeing Julian alive. Lillie now stood next to Eddie and stuttered incoherently because she was shocked at Julian's presence. Both the Gangrel and Ventrue primogen already knew Julian was still alive and their expressions were smug and satisfied. Alan saw the realization of defeat dawn upon the Brujah's face.

Alan watched as Eddie made a last effort to regain his lost power. Eddie was acting like a child throwing a temper tantrum. He didn't see Lillie pick up the samurai sword from the stand behind his desk.

"I think a little bloodshed is a good thing," Lillie said.

Eddie turned to face her and saw the sword as she raised it to decapitate him. A quick stroke of the sword by Lillie ended Eddie's life. Those Brujah present in the room drifted away from Eddie and headed towards another suit-clad man. To be consistent with his current role as Jason, Alan followed suit.

As Julian entered the room, he noticed Lillie's close proximity to Eddie and felt a brief stab of betrayal as he began to understand Lillie's part in the Brujah's conspiracy.

Where Eddie's motivations were based on a lust for power, Lillie's motivations were quite different as Julian suspected they were based in jealousy over his relationship with Caitlin. That she had hired the private investigator to take pictures of him with Caitlin proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Eddie was determined to wrestle power from Julian, but Julian said, "Without the primogen behind you, you are powerless."

Furious, Eddie tried to save face in front of his clan. "No! I am the prince!" Eddie shouted.

Lillie grabbed one of Eddie's samurai swords from the stand behind his desk and pulled the blade from its sheath. As she lifted the blade, she said, "I think a little bloodshed is a good thing."

Eddie looked at her in amazement for a moment before she brought the blade down and severed Eddie's head from his body.

When Lillie looked up at Julian, her expression was one of justice. He was almost satisfied that she had seen the error of her ways. The taste of betrayal, however brief, was still there and tainted her.

Julian stepped forward and said, "Eddie belongs to you, Cyrus." To the other Brujah, he continued, "Your primogen is dead. You must choose another. I will honor any choice you make. But choose wisely."

The Brujah named Cyrus looked at Julian. Alan didn't know Cyrus' position in the clan so he remained where he was for the moment. Once Julian, the Ventrue, and the other primogen left, Alan waited to see what the Brujah did next.

After the door slammed, Cyrus indicated Eddie's remains on the floor with a sweep of his hand and said, "Get rid of that, Jason."

Alan, still disguised as Jason, took Eddie's decapitated corpse to the incinerator in the basement, he searched the body, removed Eddie's wallet and found a scrap of paper inside that had the phone number of the Assamite clan's current contract lawyer in Los Angeles written in blue ink on it.

Alan pocketed Eddie's wallet, folded the scrap of paper into a small size and slid it inside his sock for the moment. Then, he incinerated Eddie's body.

As Alan climbed the steps, he considered what he had found.

"Jason!" Mario exclaimed.

"What?" asked Alan.

"Come back up here. Cyrus wants to talk to us before he returns to L.A.," Mario replied.

Alan climbed the stairs. When he entered the room, Cyrus-the one wearing the expensive gray suit-sat at the desk belonging to the late Fiori, looked expectantly at him. "The remains have been disposed of in the incinerator and are burning as we speak," Alan reported.

Cyrus nodded and said to those assembled, "You need to choose a new primogen. Julian has already indicated that he will accept whoever is chosen. I expect there will be much strife within the Brujah clan of San Francisco until a new primogen is chosen."

Mario asked, "Will you assist us in choosing a primogen?"

Shaking his head, Cyrus replied, "That must be the choice of the Brujah of this city as a whole." He stood to leave. "When there is a new primogen chosen, I expect to be notified of who it is. If there are no further questions, then I'll be returning to L.A."

Cyrus looked around the room at the assembled Brujah. They were all looking to him for help. "You know what you have to do. I expect to be notified when there is a new primogen. If the new primogen is not among those currently present in this room, I leave it to you to see that he or she is told to contact me."

Cyrus then stood and said, "Choose your primogen well."

The Brujah present gaped at him. Mario was the first to recover his wits and speak. "Can't you just appoint someone to the position? After all, you're a prince."

Cyrus shook his head. "It doesn't work that way. The new primogen for your clan must be chosen by all the Brujah in San Francisco. I have no authority here and Julian has already told you that he will accept whomever you choose."

The Brujah began dispersing. This was Alan's cue to follow them as the clan members went their separate ways. He followed the younger Brujah as they went downstairs. Mario followed Cyrus down the steps and Alan followed them. As they headed for the door, Mario asked, "My prince, what about Julian Luna?"

Cyrus turned towards Mario and asked, "What about him?"

Mario seemed less confident as he continued, "I...I suppose my question revolves on the recent assassination attempts against Luna. Were they part of Eddie's failed coup attempt? Or did you hire the Assamite for Eddie?"

Alan was behind Mario and heard this exchange. Cyrus frowned and continued, "That is something that Eddie took with him to the grave, Mario. Besides, both Eddie and the Assamite are dead and Luna still lives. Eddie's plan was laid out perfectly, until he screwed it up by killing the Assamite. You heard what Julian said. There's no way that Eddie could have known that he had shot the Assamite unless she gave herself away and I don't believe that she did."

Mario nodded and said, "It doesn't make losing a good friend any easier." He then left and Cyrus walked out the door. Alan followed Cyrus outside and climbed on his Harley. Alan made a mental note of Cyrus' license plate number before the limousine pulled away.

Alan considered what he heard as he started his Harley and drove back to the Haven. He would have to investigate this matter further in Los Angeles. However, right now, he was tired and hungry. He would hunt his meal from there tonight.