Chapter 1

This is to acknowledge that I have indeed received your notification of interest in our activities here in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. I apologize for the delay in my response, but there have been difficulties here of late; we recently uncovered a Sabbat pack which was attempting to open an avenue by which their brethren could stage an incursion upon our nascent Free State, thereby undoing all the work we have put into creating this new system which has already made considerable progress in allowing us to live completely autonomously from the Ivory Tower. Also, I would be a liar if I did not admit that I was, at first, wary when a Primogen expressed an interest in our way of unlife; even if that Primogen is of the Brujah Clan...

Tyler DeFaulte, Primogen of the Brujah Clan of Los Angeles, was beginning to think he would never live down his choice to support the Camarilla. True, his intention was to place himself in a position to affect change from within, but it was quickly becoming clear that was unlikely to happen; not while that Lunatic Therese Vooreman was in Praxis. How he managed to talk so many of his Clan to go along, he had no idea. What he did know was that lately that support was waning, and waning fast. There was a rapidly growing divide within his Clan, and more and more it seemed he was powerless to do anything about it.

About three months ago, Xavier Vega came up to him after a meeting of the Council. X was in a similar boat as he was; though the divide in his Clan was not as overt as his own. In some ways, Tyler figured the situation X had on his hands was worse; at least Tyler was able to pinpoint who he had to contend with. In the Toreador Clan, everything was always so subtle; everything was done with innuendo and spoken from two sides of the mouth. When Xavier came to him, he handed him a thumbdrive.

"Take a look at this, Tye," Xavier had said, "I think it might be worth checking out."

When he asked what it was, X just advised it was best he see for himself.

Tyler took the drive and had a look. The contents on the drive were from some dude who called himself 'Architect Russell Norton' from some place in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia. It looked to Tyler like some kind of revision of the Camarilla, except modelled after a Republic system; one where each State was independent to run things as they each saw fit, but were networked together for the benefit of all. This Norton dude called it the 'Libertarian Republic' or alternately, the 'Marble Hall.' Out of curiosity or desperation or maybe a bit of both, Tyler sent an inquiry for more information. Three months later, which was now, the letter he was now reading, came to his drop box a block away from the Hollowbrook Hotel.

...and I was all the more wary when I noticed that I had two inquiries from the same city, both from Primogen. I'm quite certain you will understand my caution, and see why I had to make sure this wasn't some kind of set up. As it would happen, we all have a common friend in your Clansman 'Smiling' Jack. He vouched for both Primogen Xavier Vega and you; explaining that in your youth and idealistic thinking you were under the impression that the Ivory tower could be changed from within its ranks. Trust me, this mistake is nothing to be ashamed of; I made it once myself. When I saw the error of that thinking for what it was, I began to rethink my options. That you are showing interest in our work here, I feel it safe to presume that both you and Mr. Vega have come to a similar conclusion as I had decades ago. That is why I am sending the both of you a copy of this short letter in an effort to answer your questions to you satisfaction. I ask you to please be patient with the means of correspondence I have chosen; part of that Sabbat incursion involved a digital attack, and we are yet to fully recover from it.

First, let me express how thrilled I am that our little Forum has captured your attention! I was aware that the Libertarian Republic was slowly gaining ground in smaller communities across Canada, but yours is the first American inquiry we have received, and most certainly the first major Metropolis –other than maybe a small, secret faction in Vancouver – to express any interest...

"Hey, whatchya got there, Tye?"

Tyler quickly folded the letter and stuffed it into the inner pocket of his jacket. Before he shared this information with anyone, even – or especially – Damsel, he wanted to read it all the way through, review it, and maybe compare notes with Xavier. It wasn't that he didn't trust her. He did; with his life. It actually felt downright weird not sharing everything with her, but she was Sheriff and that meant she had some specific duties, so keeping this out of her sight was currently an evil necessity. Before pursuing anything, he and X would have to determine if this Russ Norton guy was on the level, and if what he was selling was legit. Until then, if this kind of information got out, it could place both of them in some serious danger on grounds of conflict of interest. Tyler was barely able to convince himself he was protecting her.

"Oh, it's nothing." He replied, "Just some stupid Primogen crap."

Damsel laughed. "Hey, it's your own fault you have to deal with that; you started the whole effort to change the Tower from within." She said. "Now it's on you play the Cammie game."

"Yeah, I know," Tyler muttered, satisfied that she bought his line. It wasn't exactly a lie; or at least he kept telling himself that it wasn't.

The absolute truth of the matter was that he didn't really blame those in the Clan that objected to his effort. Each night it was becoming more and more evident that the idea changing or renovating the Ivory Tower was a delusion; the problem was he was stuck in a rut now. Both he and Xavier were realizing that now. The aggravating part was that it wasn't even Prince Therese that was the problem. Sure, she was completely out of her mind and just as likely to burn the entire city to a cinder as she was to keep it stable, but forcing her to abdicate wouldn't solve a damn thing. For one thing, that Ventrue son of a bitch Cameron Hastings would stand a good chance at seizing Praxis, and that would be just like LaCroix all over again, or worse. But even that wasn't the real problem.

The real problem, as Nines used to say, was the entire Pyramid scheme that was the Camarilla system; nobody but those at the very top of the pyramid had any real power, and it was designed to remain that way.

"Well, we better get moving if we're going to make it the garden in time for the little party that Cammie is throwing for his little stripper girl-toy." Damsel commented.

"Oh, right," Tyler replied trying to sound as if he forgot that was the point of tonight's gathering. "Kaila's embrace date party." It was instantly evident that Damsel didn't buy it, but was willing to let it go.

"God, I hate that skank." She spat. "I'd vomit all over her pretty little red slippers if I could."

Tyler let out a burst of laughter. Same old Damsel; always had some colorful way to express her attitude and intentions towards others.

"Okay, tough girl," he said, "Let's get a move on." Letting her lead, the pair soon found themselves outside the Hollowbrook. "Oh, hey; have heard anything about that recon on that new Fed building yet?" He asked on route to his car in the parking garage. It wasn't actually a new building, exactly; it was a rebuilding of what was left of the Venture tower. It was, apparently being turned into a government headquarters of some kind, though nobody had a clear answer yet as to what it was going to be for.

As if on cue; like something right out of a cheesy pulp fiction series, Archie caught up to them. Archie was one of the more frequently called upon among the Brujah Clan to the duty of Deputy; he was one of the ones that a few of the other Kindred referred to as the 'Task Force'. The Task Force did their job, albeit at times begrudgingly. It was well known it was not for love of the Camarilla, but for love of the city itself that they remained true. It was no secret they were not fans of the Primogen; Archie in particular was wary of him. He was, however, unrelenting in his loyalty to Damsel as Den Mother – Sheriff or not.

"Sheriff, I have an update regarding the feds in the old tower." Archie reported dutifully. One thing to be said for the guy; unless you knew him, his sarcastic take on doing things like this all proper like that would totally escape your notice.

"Well, that's good news," Damsel replied. "So what are you waiting for? You want me to give you permission to speak? Spit it out, Archie."

Looking over his shoulder at Tyler, Archie balked.

"Whatever you have to say is going to get to him anyway. Besides, it's probably something he'll need to take to the Primogen Council anyway."

"Right" Archie said reluctantly. He joined then for the rest of the walk to Tyler's car, filling them in on what the Task Force had uncovered.