Disclaimer: The characters in the following story, with the exception of "Loral Williams" and a few other auxiliary characters

Disclaimer: The characters in the following story, with the exception of "Loral Williams" and a few other auxiliary characters, are owned by Spelling Television Inc. [A subsidiary of Spelling Entertainment Group Inc.]. Vampire: The Masquerade is owned by Mark Rein*Hagan/White Wolf Publishing. My use is in no way a challenge to their copyrights.

Note to the Reader: The vampire legend is not the creation of anyone person, and no one set of rules or myths interprets what a vampire is. Every storyteller redefines what is logical and permissible in his or her story's universe. If I stray from the World of Darkness interpretation, it is only because I am endeavoring to write a fuller and richer tale.

A Double Edge

Part I

The busy life of the mortal city drifted by the windows of Julian Luna's limousine as it glided through the river of living traffic. Inside the car two weary men looked forward to a few hours of rest before the night set upon them. Since 3am Julian had been doing what he did best, mainly keeping the human financial world in accord with Kindred wishes. A job he found much easier with Cash at his side. Not only did the young ruffian tend to make a rather intimidating impression on the less than obedient investor or C.E.O., but he gave Julian the confidence that no matter what was lucking in the shadows he wasn't going to face it alone. Right then though Cash looked like a walking corpse. The golden rays of late summer afternoon were adequately shut out by the dark tinted limousine windows, but none of them had fed in the last twenty-four hours, and needed to get back to the shelter of the Luna mansion.

The skyscrapers gave way to the apartments, and suburbs, which in turn were replaced by the rolling hills, scrub brush and forests of the Californian wilderness. The black vehicle traveled up a private avenue several miles from town. The trees on either side hid the light of the sun. Cash and Julian both sighed with relief; almost home. The limo came to a halt at the compound's huge iron gates. A guard came out, and exchanged a few quick words with his boss. Cash let out another sign, and turned around to face his employer and friend, a grimace on his face.

"No rest for the weary. You have a visitor."

When Loral had decided to visit Julian Luna she knew that appearances would be important. She bought a suit for the occasion, and had thought about renting a more presentable ride, but she figured there was no need to be that pretentious, and had driven herself, uninvited to the Luna mansion in her old pick-up that still had most of her stuff in the truck-bed. As she sat in the massive drawing room, she regretted her decision.

To say that the name Luna reeked of power and money was an understatement. She could handle the rich, she had before at least, but nothing prepared her for what she found when she actually got to the mansion. Truth be told, "mansion" didn't seem to be the right word. "Manor" seemed more fitting, with this all-powerful Luna character playing at Lordship. The medieval forest on the drive up had been enough to impress her, but what had really given her the feeling of a storybook castle were the people.

Getting past the gate had been easy enough. She just told the guards that she was an associate of Miss Luna, and they had waved her through. The housekeeper, Jeffery, had presented a bit more resistance, telling her politely enough that Mr. Luna was very busy and that she ought to get the hell off the property or he would call security. In her best attempt at maintaining her temper she informed him that she was not here to see Mr. Luna, but to inquire into the whereabouts of Miss Sasha Luna, his niece, and that if he wanted he could call security, but that she was not going to leave the premises until she had spoken to Sasha.

Then something strange had happened, Jeffery told her in a calm, almost monotone voice to leave, and for some reason, she agreed to go. She was almost in her car when her forearm started to throb, painfully, and she couldn't for the life of her remember why she had agreed to go. She had run back into the house almost crashing back into Jeffery. Who in exasperation had led her to the drawing room and left her. She thought she heard him lock the door behind him, but figured it was just her imagination.

The room itself was a testament to prestige. It swam before her eyes in shades of brown and maroon. The walls were lined with old books on mahogany shelves. A massive bay window was draped in deep red curtains, and a large fire crackled behind a stately marble mantle. Two plush chairs and a velvety sofa were pulled up to the heat of the flames, but her sense of apprehension was rising so she choose to stand next to the mantle instead. Her arm was still hurting and she rubbed it sympathetically, her fingertips grazing the almost nonexistent scar. From somewhere in the recess of the building she heard the rhythm of footsteps.

This is it she thought. Time to put on my game face. Instinctively she felt for the long knife she held under blazer. Even though she had no use of it here, it made her feel better just having it with her. Her eyes fixed themselves on the mantle, she hadn't notice before, but there was some sort of inscription on it. The door behind her opened and two men walked in. She did not turn around but kept staring at the mantel.

From his vantage point at the back of the room Cash could keep an eye on the intruder without being in the way. His mind still set in bodyguard mode began to evaluate Julian's visitor. She was well built, if not on the short side, looked like she had a lot of fight in her, but not much strength. Blond nearly white shoulder length hair was pulled back in a severe no-monkey-business ponytail. A tailored black suit held well to her body. Her heart was beating fast in anticipation he guess, but there was an air of professionalism about her. There was something else, an inappropriate lump under her left arm. Cash eyed her suspiciously.

She didn't turn around when they came in but kept her eyes on the mantle. Julian walked towards her, and waited incredulously for her to explain why she was here.

"Tis' better to be feared than loved" her voice rang out in the silent room as she read the inscription. She turned around to face Julian, and both men did a double take.

She was young, very young, probably not over twenty.

"Tis better to be feared than loved, if one can not have both……" Julian retorted. "The former owner, did not feel it was necessary to complete the quote. I've endeavored to have the full inscription made, but haven't found the time."

The "girl" as he now thought of her seemed to contemplate this, and then to his astonishment before he sat down or offered her a chair she claimed the couch and in a rather hum-drum casual tone said "Well, I've never really been one for Machiavelli. Every mean has it's own end, and every end it's own means, if that fact is not respected then, both the prince and the proletariat will suffer."

"Who are you?" Julian asked coldly, not in any mood to trade political philosophy with a child.

Seeing that she wasn't going to get anywhere fast with pleasantries, Loral stood back up, wishing her arm would stop hurting.

"I am……I am a friend of Sasha's from school. I have reason to believe that she is living here with you, and that she is not…..well." Damn her arm hurt.

"I am her uncle and I assure you she is fine. Unfortunately she is not here right now, she has gone to visit a friend if you come back la…..are you bleeding? Julian's eyes flashed in hunger as he smelled the sent of young blood.

Loral didn't miss the slight change that had over come her reluctant host and his friend in the shadows. She felt the warm liquid running down her arm and absorbing in her jacket. It felt like the fear creeping at the back of her mind.

She opened her moth to respond, but just then a loud crash follow by a cry of surprise and pain came form the hall. Cash, Julian and Loral ran out of the room. They had all recognized the voice. Sasha.