Que Sera Sera

Priory House - Sitting Room

Walnut bookshelves line three of the four walls in the sitting room, with the fourth wall being the central focus of the room thanks to its eye-catching large fireplace. Mid-room, across from the fireplace, is a plush, cream colored Victorian couch and matching armchairs. A chaise lounge is set below a large picture window, allowing a wonderful view of Central Park across the way.


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Donald Ashcroft Bryn Blackwell Kayla Martin

It is not quite evening yet, and good as his word, Callum has e-mailed all of the pertinent information to him. Bryn has said information printed out and spread all over the sitting room. Several images of the victims beside those from other cases that had similarities, the height, eye color, and hair color of all the victims listed on colored Post-Its(tm) beside the pictures.

Sheafs of paper are held in his hand as he paces back and forth across the length of the room. It does appear more and more that this is a fledgling vampire causing the damage. The injuries were almost tentative at first, cautious. The latter victims are a great deal more damaged. If it is a fledgling, finding their Maker would be the most important thing, to see if this was done intentionally to make Kostas look bad. Chances are though, the will not locate the Maker until they locate the Child, and as he seems to be skilled enough at making himself disappear, he (or she) seems to have help from someone.

But who?.

That is the question that weighs heavily on Bryn's mind at the moment. He's not certain who would be doing this and frankly the who is quite a great deal more important than the why. The why is simple — whomever it is, is quite obviously a vampire, and this is what vampires do.


Blackwell is resourceful, Ashcroft will give the man that. Resourceful, intense and dedicated. Maybe a little too much of both of the latter. Burning the candle at both ends only means you're going to burn out, and a burned out agent is a useless agent.

"I can see that the first standing order I'm going to have leave is to make sure you eat, sleep and recreate." Beat. "You do play over there, don't you?" The words are said deadpan, but there is a faint twinkle in Ashcroft's eyes.

"Speaking of eating, I thought we'd order in. Plenty of places deliver, just pick your poison."


"Jet lag," Bryn explains. "I am still on London time, and will likely crash and burn in a few hours." In essence, he will grab a nap and then wake up to do it all again. It happens to be what he does best.

"They do. Research is play for me. I quite enjoy it." Bryn stops pacing though, and sets the sheaf of papers down an a nearby table. "I am afraid I will have to have you choose. I am hardly well versed in what food is available here, beyond those burger places." He highly doubts that there is a great curry place nearby. No one makes curry as well as the places in London, with the exception, perhaps, of India.

"What was on the coroner's report?"


"I'll let Kayla pick. I know for certain that she doesn't think that the height of great cuisine is a greasy pizza with plenty of pepperoni." Ashcroft does know his team well.

That being said, he crosses to the intercom and presses a room number and a button. It's old fashioned, but it works. They have a top of the line security system and the computer tech is state of the art. They can keep the bits that are quaint. "Kayla, why don't you order in for us tonight? Then have dinner and go home."

Turning back to Bryn, Ashcroft bites his cheek to stop from laughing. The man really doesn't seem to have any intention of stopping. He wanders the room, looking at the photographs, the post it notes, and admires Blackwell's approach. "The same as the rest. Unofficially, blood loss through the open, violent neck wound. Officially, it was an 'animal attack.'

Reaching down to his belt, Ashcroft frees his cell phone. He taps the screen and hands it to Blackwell. "The coroner emailed the official report. Kevin personally picked up the unofficial one." Beat. "Then apparently, the technicians on duty completely forgot that the unofficial one ever existed."


"Bloody hell, she is good," Bryn mutters under his breath. He has no intentions of stopping until he's able to figure things out beyond the basic information, and really the only way to do that is getting in touch with the vampire again. He doubts that the Priory here keeps lists on who's recently created a Child anymore than the Priory back home does.

"It may be beneficial to convince the police to cordon off the primary location of the attacks for now. People will tend to avoid it if they hear of animal attacks anyhow, likely believing it to be…" He would suggest wolves, but he doubts there are many of those of the non-supernatural kind running through Central Park. "… Coyotes? I do think that those frequent the park on occasion."


"That she is," Ashcroft agrees. He sweeps his hand toward the ceiling. "Old house acoustics. You figure them out after a while."

He stops and looks at another photo, shaking his head sadly at the senseless tragedy, then looks to Bryn again. "Aside from being one of the few vampires that anyone is comfortable being around, that little talent of hers has come in handy. She hasn't used it, to the best of my knowledge, on anyone here at Priory House, so don't worry about that."

"Just in case," Ashcroft trails off and pulls his dog tags out of his shirt. There are three, instead of two, and there's magic on the third one. "It's anti-glamour. I might be an old man, and she might be a pretty face, but I'm not so stupid as to deal with a vampire without protecting myself." Spelling the damn thing cost a bit, but Ashford thinks it was worth the price.

"Coyotes. Good idea. We've debated it, hoping that we'd flush the killer out, but I think we're beyond that now."


"I have no reason to worry about it," Bryn replies simply. Rolling up his shirt sleeve he points out the tattoo and shrugs. "Anti-glamour. She is hardly the first vampire I have run into in my line of work, and I doubt she will be the last. I figured this was safer after the first run-in. I tend to like to recall what is said and what I am doing."

Looking over the magic on the tag, he nods. He didn't figure Ashcroft for a stupid man, and he's glad to see that he was correct. "How many on the team have them? If we are dealing with a fledgling, that is likely the first thing they will attempt. I can get a few more spelled, I will simply need to call a few contacts." Anti-glamour, while used by most Dynasties, is primarily witch magic.

"I do believe we are beyond it. It would seem that the killer is escalating things, and chances are that with his or her preferences it happens to be a Melambra. Sooner or later they will stop going for the women that no one cares about and take a jogger, or a woman with a child that fits the description."


"Just Kevin. Kayla and Doris don't get much field contact. Kevin only wears his half the time. I've made it an order to no avail." He's not sure that Kevin does it to be rebellious, or because he likes to feel that edge of danger; some people do.

Ashcroft ceases his wander of the sitting room and settles onto the couch, comfortably relaxed. "We need to know what the vampires know about all this, if we're going to stop it. Kosta's word is that he'll take care of it, but …" Trailing off, Ashcroft indicates the pictures with a wave of his hand.

He'd love to get a sit down with the Master, but that's only happened twice in the twenty years that he's been with the Priory. Once was with his mentor, and only once has Ashcroft ever seen the elusive Alexandros Kostas face-to-face.

"If we know it's Melambra, they probably do too. That narrows the field but also gives us another problem." Beat. "Kostas, as far as I know, is Melambra."


"I will see that they have them, on the off chance they need to be out in the field." Bryn may just call Callum over yet, though he's well aware that the Priory is larger than a team of four. He'll ensure he's got a few extra that can be given out to those heading out on the field as well.

"The issue with that is that they will refuse to share anything, preferring to attempt to find the killer on their own. They will not want to be indebted to us, and it would be an embarrassment for them to admit that one of their own is beyond perfection to a mere human." Rather than sit on the couch or a chair, he perches himself on the edge of the table.

"How likely would it be that Kostas is having one of his own Children do this?"


"You're the missing piece of the puzzle, the one connection we don't have. RINC doesn't play well with others outside of the Dynasty, and our last witch was . . well, she flaked."

Ashcroft gives a slow nod, but the Chesire cat smile says otherwise. "Things are little different over here, probably different in the City than other places. We have a vampire who talks to us, don't discount that. Sometimes Sera requires a little bit of special handling, and sometimes you have to read between the lines to really hear what she's saying." Ashcroft has been working with the vampiress for four and a half years, and he has something of a read on her now.

"I've got good timing," Kayla says from the doorway. "You're talking vamps, I'm talking vamps." She breezes in the room, hands Ashcroft a folder, and after a quick glance at the photographs, turns her attention between the two men. "Enjoy Vampires 101." With a wave, she's gone.

Ashcroft flips through the folder and nods. "I should have gone over this last night, but we had bigger fish."

Opening the folder, Ashcroft pulls out a picture, an old style WWII black and white. "The major players in the City, vamp wise. This is Alexandros Kostas. Master of the City. Been in power for over a hundred years. Like I said, he doesn't appear much, and this picture is probably the best one we have of him." Beat. "Trust me, he hasn't changed much." There's the dry sense of humor again.

The Colonel isn't ignoring Bryn's other question, but he'll get back around to it, eventually.


"RINC is…" Bryn raises his shoulders up. His father had work with them in the past, and was very happy to be brought out of 'exile' and able to return home. There were other issues there, of course, but not ones that were ever discussed with him. "Difficult at the best of times."

Pausing while Kayla makes her appearance, the Brit nods to the young woman and smiles. "Thank you, Miss Martin." He starts to invite her into the conversation, but she's gone in the blink of an eye.

"I did figure that last evening. She was alluding to the fact that the vampire was Melambra. I am positive that they know a great deal more than they are willing to share right now."

He takes a look at the picture of Kostas and nods. "So our best bet would be to get in to see Kostas, and you want me to handle Miss Roche."


"She's in a tough spot. Kostas feels as though he has to work with us, and it's good for everyone involved if the channels of communication are kept open, but the vampires do like to keep to their own and take care of their own. Sera's unique, she walks a line and she does it as well as she can." It's clear that while Ashcroft might not trust the vampire one hundred percent, he does respect her.

He laughs, then, at Bryn's next words. "First, you're getting ahead of me. You should identify all the predators before going into the lion's den." He gives a shake of his head, "And as for handling Miss Roche… yes, why don't you do that? I wasn't going to set you to that task, but my hat will be your hat soon enough."

Ashcroft is truly amused by the man's confidence. Handling Serafine Roche is not like dealing with other vampires.


"I do understand Miss Roche's position, considering that to the best of my knowledge she is not actually a part of Kostas' Court, which makes him infallible if something should go wrong." Tapping the papers that rest beside him on the table, he notes, "I do have her history here, including things that I am certain that Priory has not bothered to seek out for you. My man in London is very good at finding information when it is necessary."

A slight grin reaches Bryn's lips and he chuckles. "I am not trying to get ahead of you, Colonel. I am simply trying to deal with things as they come up, and this seems to be an issue that needs dealing with. I am the uncertainty, which may give me more insight as to how to get under her skin and get her to reveal things."


"No, she's not, but her Maker is." Any other time, Ashcroft would stop there and let the new recruit make their way on their own. Blackwell, however, isn't the typical recruit, and as the inheriter of the mantle of leadership, he can't afford to go in blind.

Indicating the folder, Ashcroft holds out his hand, "May I?" He's certain that they have all the pertinent information regarding Serafine, but it never hurts to know everything.

While waiting, another picture is pulled from the folder, a lovely Middle Eastern woman, though it's hard to place her heritage beyond that. "Samira Bastet. Kostas' right hand. As close as anyone gets to the man himself. Stories conflict, some say she's his Child, others say she isn't."

He pauses and gives the Brit a once over and then manages an amused smile. "So very right you are on that. You are an unknown and she did seem to have more than a passing interest in you. We could use that." Ashcroft might not have commented on it or drawn attention, but he did notice the way the vampiress kept her attention on the sorcerer.


Bryn easily hands over the folder, he doesn't mind sharing what information he's gathered with the Priory. He is going to create a few folders with information on European vampires as well, on the off chance some find themselves in the city and they have to do a clean up for them.

"Serafine Roque's Maker is Kieran Collins. He owns a few businesses in the area. Restaurants, nightclubs. Karneros. I have run into his Maker on occasion. Before I joined with the Priory, she was a client." At least that much he is well aware of. "He has a brother, James, who also happens to have been turned by the same Maker."

He takes a look at the picture of the woman, and memorizes the information. "I will have that looked into. See if we cannot lockdown the truth, no matter which way the story goes." If there is above ground information on the woman, Cal will find it, or most of it at any rate.

"She was intrigued by a newcomer, nothing more."


Flipping through the folder, Ashcroft notes the things that they do know about Sera. She's a writer (now), and an art broker. Twenty years ago she ran an 'escort' service, under an entirely different alias. "Spent a brief time 'attached' to the Prince of Miami," Ashcroft notes quietly. He didn't know about that, though given what he knows of the vampire, it's not all that surprising.

"He's also next on our list of Vampire Who's Who. Kieran Collins. Kosta's Sheriff." Ashcroft waits and lets that settle in for Bryn before moving on. "He's the reason that Sera is in New York. He's been here for fifteen years, he was our point of contact when I came onboard."


"We didn't exactly click." Flipping another page in Sera's folder, Ashcroft makes another mental note and continues. "Collins brought Sera here five years ago. Put her up in her apartment, gave her a car, fronted the money for her gallery." For all intents and purposes, Sera came to New York as a well kept woman. Collins wanted his Child in the city very badly, apparently.

"His Maker. Now that sounds like an interesting story. I'd love to meet the vampire who created Collins." Beat. "The thought that there are two Collinses, however, that alarms me."


"Kieran Collins has been in and out of the city for quite a while. He has only become more public in the last few years." Bryn did ensure that Callum gave him any information he could find, regardless of how trivial. "I cannot imagine many would click with him, if he is his Maker's child." Ysabel is hardly the most easy woman to get along with, even with her charms, simply because it is difficult to stay ahead of all her manipulations and plans.

"If she passes through the city, I will be certain to let you know. I will have a dossier ready for you after I get some rest later this evening. That way, should you run into her, no matter where you are, you are prepared." And quite thankful for that tag that happens to be charmed with the anti-glamour spell.

"James is a rather interesting specimen. I can give you my files on him as well."


"Something tells me that those words, 'interesting specimen,' are a classic understatement."

Closing Sera's file, Ashcroft sets it aside and turns back to the conversation. "I wouldn't put anything past Kostas to keep power and control over the City. He has had this throne for quite sometime."

Settling back again, Ashcroft looks toward the ceiling and nods his head. "I think our next step is Sera. She might warm up to you as an unknown, but she's not stupid. She can't suspect it's a fishing expedition."


"I am hardly going to manipulate her. That is not exactly the way to keep a liaison in good standing. Though I do think that talking to her outside of the Priory would not be a bad thing. You respect each other, and I need to forge the same sort of relationship with her or it is simply going to make things worse when you move on to your promotion."

Bryn ruffles his hand through his hair and stands up, glancing back at the board. "If Kostas is intending to keep power and control over the City, then he had best let us in on what he knows, or move more swiftly to take care of it. The fact that this has been going on for weeks, and the one responsible has yet to be found shows a weakness in his power. It tells me that if this is not simply a fledgling that has lost its way, someone is trying to purposefully make Kostas, and those in his Court appear weak to the rest of the vampires in the city. A strong leader would have killed the rogue already."

Tilting his head, he frowns at the pictures still trying to find the correlation in the women.

"I will give it a day or two. See if we cannot find something else, and then formally introduce myself to Miss Roque. Invite her for coffee." Though he vastly prefers tea.


Ashcroft likes Bryn's steadiness, honesty and straight-forward application. It's a different approach than most, but it's what will work best on the team here. He just hopes that the man isn't so straight-forward that he can't afford a little flexibility.

"I am not even going to try to imagine what's going in the Master's head. There are certain places I just don't wish to go."

Reaching for his cell phone again, he opens to his contacts and fires off an email. "That will be Sera's contact information coming to your email. It's her public, business contact information. We'll keep it professional. You'll have to get the personal one from her." Ashcroft has no doubts that the man can do it. "If there's an emergency before that happens, and we need to contact her, I'll get it to you, though." Crisis trumps etiquette.


Bryn dislikes being dishonest. It really never gets anything done, and more to the point, is generally a hindrance rather than a boon.

"I rarely try to imagine what goes on in the mind of any vampire, as those are generally places I do not like going." He'll do it if necessary and only if necessary. Trying to psychoanalyze or determine what is going on in the head of someone who has centuries on him is never generally fun, and he can often determine who they are after a few meetings anyhow.

"I do appreciate that. I will keep it professional." Beat. "I do hope that we have little need for her personal one, as I am certain she is busy with her work and life."


"Amen to that," Ashcroft chuckles. Then he exhales a sigh and gives the man a look. The woman is not a workaholic, and without her personal contacts, she wouldn't have been on site last night. The Colonel says nothing of that however; there are some things Bryn will just have to figure out on his own.

The buzzer rings, and Ashcroft looks up expectantly, "If we're lucky, that's dinner."


Not all of Bryn's contacts are workaholics, but the way he figures it is that if the woman has plans he really shouldn't be interrupting them unless it could be classified as a crisis. She was clearly uncomfortable the previous evening, which he finds both amusing and odd for a vampire, and rather than put her in that situation again, the Priory can handle the body and she can be called in later.

"Thank goodness. My stomach has only just realized that it has had nothing since I ate breakfast this morning." For a man that is used to breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner, he's surprised his stomach didn't rebel before now. "Shall we?"

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