Please send all comments to Jane Vandermeer

Disclaimer: The following story is based on the world of "Kindred: The Embraced" created and owned by Spelling Entertainment and White Wolf. No copyright infringement is intended, and as I'm making absolutely no profit from this, I hope their lawyers will forgive me. As I want to get this out quickly I'm not ploughing back through the credits of my tapes to see what the name of the other Kindred cop, the one with Sonny at the children's hospital, is. I've called him Max. He looks like a Max. Rianna, for those of you who haven't studied the credits, is the name of the other girl Zane embraced.

Big Night Out

Chapter 1

It had been a pretty enjoyable night, thought Frank. Good music, a few imported beers and the company of a succession of Sonny's friends, including both Lillie and Julian. The Haven was now closed, and the Primogens had joined Julian upstairs for a Conclave meeting. On the whole, he reflected, he was glad he'd accepted Sonny's invitation. Sonny left the Haven with him. They were both off duty, and not due on until the following evening. Sonny too had enjoyed the evening. "Hey Frank." "Ye?" "Seems like you've been one of the crowd for years." Frank laughed, "I'm not sure I know how to take that remark. Shall we share a cab?" "Sure. I was heading home for a bit anyhow." Frank stepped off the path, and gazed to their right, looking for a cab in the flow of traffic. From the other direction, a non-descript dark sedan rounded the corner, its tyres screaming. It swerved towards the footpath. "Frank, look out," called Sonny, but he was too late. The car slowed, and a hail of bullets erupted from the rear window. One hit Frank in the leg, then another in the chest. He fell to the ground, as the assailants fled the scene. Sonny ran to Frank's side. Frank was struggling to breathe, and Sonny held him up. Blood oozed from a jagged wound in his chest. "Frank," shouted Sonny, trying to grab his attention. Frank was pale, barely conscious, and his breathing laboured. Suddenly, several of Cash's lieutenants were on the scene. "We've called an ambulance," said one, "should be here in about five minutes". "Hear that Frank," said Sonny, "help's coming". Sonny sought to stop the flow of blood from Frank's chest wound. Someone passed him a handful of bar cloths, and he held them against the wound. In the distance, the wail of an ambulance siren rose and fell as the streets first obscured then projected its noise. "What's happened?" It was Julian, his face registering concern. Behind him Lillie gasped as she saw Frank on the ground. She eased passed Julian, and helped Sonny to support Frank. Julian crouched in front of them. `It was a car I didn't recognise," said Sonny. "I didn't get a view of any of the people in it. At least two of them though." "It could be a coincidence, or someone looking for payback?" "It could be. Difficult to tell," Sonny looked about, and added softly, "They weren't using phosphorous guns though." "That doesn't mean they weren't Kindred. If Frank was their only target, they might not have bothered." Cash spoke up from behind Julian. "My people aren't allowing Cameron to leave. I thought Julian that you may wish to speak to him." "Thank you, I'll wait for the ambulance then I shall. How is he Lillie?" "He's lost consciousness. And he feels too cold." At that moment, the ambulance pulled in. The paramedics lifted him onto a trolley and loaded it into the back. Sonny climbed in after Frank, and they headed off to the county hospital. ***** "Did your Clan have anything to do with this attack?" demanded Julian of Cameron. "No. We did not." "Any of your people freelancing? Perhaps you don't have them quite under your control?" Cameron jumped to his feet, Cash took a step closer, his gun steadied on Cameron. "How dare you. I have not given you a single cause to doubt my loyalty to you. Do you think I would do so over such a small issue? "You do not need to act overtly for me to have doubts about your loyalty. I ask again, could this be members of your Clan acting without your knowledge?" "No. They are loyal to me. They would not. I may not want you as Prince, but I'm not so stupid as to think I can become Prince by allowing such actions as this." With no evidence and no admission of guilt, Julian had no choce but to allow Cameron to leave. The Brujah Primogen ran a gauntlet of Gangrels on his way to the door. ***** Julian returned home, and met with Lillie, Daedalus and Cash in the library. "It had to be Brujah," Cash stated. "Who else would wish to do this?" "Any one Frank has ever arrested", replied Julian. "And many Kindred", added Daedalus. "Many Brujah", snapped Lillie. "No, not only Brujah." The others looked at Daedalus. "Julian, you must be aware that not all Kindred accept or agree with your protection of this mortal. The Brujah are open about their opposition because whether Eddie or Cameron their Primogen has always opposed you. But there are those even amongst your own Clan that oppose your actions." "I take your point, Daedalus. But, at this time we have no way of knowing who the assailants may have been. The police will conduct their own investigation, they may turn something up from the ballistics tests." "Would we be able to identify whether any names or sources they come up with have Kindred links," asked Lillie. "In many instances, yes, particularly if we can pursuade the Brujah to cooperate," replied Julian. " Sonny and Max of course will know more." "What can we do now? Just wait," asked Cash. "It seems that way. Cameron seemed genuinely surprised by the shooting. I can't, won't, take action until I have proof," answered Julian. The meeting broke up. Cash going out to hunt, Daedalus returning to his basement. Lillie left the library, but did not return to her room.

Chapter 2

Julian tried to work. But his concern for the young detective distracted him. When the phone rang, he flung his pen down in relief and answered it. "Julian, it's Sonny." "How is he?" "He'll be all right. He was in shock, and lost a lot of blood, but no major arteries were damaged. There was a small tear in the wall of his heart, but the surgeon repaired it. One of his lungs was damaged too, but the bullet missed his spine. He's still not conscious from the operation, and they're keeping him out for a while." "Have you heard anything from the police investigation?" "Not much. Max is working on the team. We know the slugs were 22s. They don't seem to have any notable features. It'll be nearly impossible to make anything of it. The car has been found. Forensics are going over it now." "Thanks for ringing. Are you ok?" "I, I don't know, I don't seem to have had any time to think about it." "We seem to have three possibilites. It's either a disgruntled mortal seeking payback, the Brujah behaving as we'd expect, or other Kindred who disagree with my protection of him." "Other Kindred? The other Clans are loyal to you!" "Daedalus raised the issue. I have to accept it as a possibility." "Somehow, 22s out a car window seems very Brujah-ish. I guess any Kindred wanting to get rid of Frank without annoying you would try to make it look as such. It's also possible that it is simply a revenge shooting for a previous arrest. What the hell do we do now?" "We wait. And keep an eye on Frank. If it is Kindred, they may try again, and neither the Police nor the hospital staff would be able to adequately protect him. Stay with him Sonny, I'll see you're relieved before dawn, then, would you come here?" "Yes Julian, of course." "Good bye." And Julian hung up the phone. ***** "It failed. He's still alive!" "Calm down, Tomas, we shall have another chance." "Is he being guarded at the hospital?" "Yes, but even that should not be a problem if we use someone that they can trust to get close to him." "Your first attempt was too rushed. You should have planned it more carefully, chosen a better location. And why the method you chose?" A third conspirator rose to his feet. "Tomas, we intended it to look like a gangland style slaying. Such an occurence would remove any suspicion from us, place it firmly on the crime lords of the city. If that was the case, no-one would ever expect the culprits to be identified. I can get close to Kohanek, so can the girl, she'd never be suspected." "You will try again." "Of course. Before he leaves the hospital. Every moment he's on the streets he's dangerous." ***** A few days later, Rianna wandered into Lillie's rooms at the Haven. "So," said Lillie, turning to her, "are you coming with us?" "Ye, sure, I guess so." Another figure appeared behind her. "Grace! We're ready now." Grace scowled at Rianna, "I wouldn't have thought visiting a sick police officer was quite your scene, Ri?" she said to the other girl "What?" "We're stopping briefly for me to look in on Frank Kohanek," said Lillie firmly. "He'a a friend, and I want to see how he is." "Oh come on," said Grace, "we won't stay long, he's only just been allowed visitors." Rianna scowled, but followed the other two as they trooped down the stairs, with Lillie waving to Summer as they left. ***** Caitlin wondered for a while just why she had taken Frank Kohanek flowers. But, when all was said and done they both respected the professionalism of the other. And working on the story as she had been, Caitlin was unable to pretend she didn't care what had happened. Leaving the ward, Caitlin waited for the lift down. It arrived, and the doors opened. Caitlin gasped. "Grace! With you?", to Lillie. Lillie stepped back from the lift door, and Caitlin automatically stepped in. Lillie gently took Caitlin's arm, and turned her so she faced her directly. The lift reached the gound floor, and Lilllie gently pushed Caitlin from it. Then, Lillie and the girls returned to Frank's floor. "It's dangerous for the Prince to be so ,nvolved with a mortal." spat Rianna. "Yes, it can be," replied Lillie softly. "Should we wait outside for you?" asked Grace. "We don't want Frank talking to Caitlin about how the three of us visited him." "Frank won't mention seeing you to Caitlin," reassured Lillie. "We're here now," said Rianna, "let's visit him." ***** The Homicide team was still heavily involved in the investigation of the attempted murder of one of their own. Sonny was sick and tired of being questioned about what he had, or more to the point had not, seen, and about every case he and Frank had ever worked together. Finally, he freed himself from the latest round of questions and headed back to his desk. "Sonny, what's the story about the 711 Homicide?" "What? Oh, sorry Max, didn't hear you coming." "Pull it together Sonny, you can't afford to wander around unawares. I know he's your partner, but you're Kindred first. If some crim wants to off Frank, well he'll be out of our hair, and out of Julian's. Sonny sprang to his feet, his eyes for a moment ablaze. He hissed, "Human or not, Frank is my friend, and you'd do well to remember that. " Quietly, "Calm down, do you want to draw everyones attention?" "Why not. All anyone else would see is one cop who doesn't give a damn about a colleague, and one who does!" "I'm here because the Prince wishes me to be. What motivates you, concern for humans?" "Among other things, yes." Their Lieutenant strode to the door of his glassed in office. "Sonny, Max, keep it under control. We're all of us upset, but the last thing I need is dissention between members of my team." Max glared for a few more moments at Sonny, turned to his desk grabbing his jacket, then strode out of the office. Chapter 3 The following evening. Sonny debated with himself whether to check on Frank first, or head off to interview witnesses in the 711 case. In the end, friendship won out, and he pulled into the hospital about 8.20 ***** The police guard was young and inexperienced, so when Detective Sergeant Max Harbourne showed up unexpectedly that evening just after visiting hours, he was happy to talk. Unseen, Julian's Kindred guard listened from the shadows. "Hi ya Sarge, I didn't expect any company at this time of night." "Well it was pretty slow, so the Lieutenant suggested I should drop in on you, make sure you weren't having it off with a nurse on a gurney somewhere." "I could be so lucky. Have you seen the redhead with..." "OK Officer, that wasn't intended to start you off on your fave fantasises. I know it's been three days, but Kohanek's not out of danger until we solve the case. Stay alert." "Yes sir." Max strolled back down the corridor, past where he sensed the Kindred guard hiding, hoping she would approach him. She did, and she was Ventrue, even better. "Max. Why are you here?" "Stuck my hand up when the Lietenant asked. Is everything quiet?" "Yes." They parted company. The Ventrue woman returning to her shadow, and Max slipping around a corner and into a stairwell which he then blocked open with a piece of paper in the lock. It was 8.20pm. ***** The girl caught the lift up, following her path of the previous day. She sprang jauntily out of the lift when the doors opened, and headed purposefully towards Frank's room, past the nurses' station. "Look like you've got the right to be here," she told herself. "Excuse me, miss, I'm afraid you've just missed visiting hours," stated a nurse firmly as she drew level with the counter. Rianna looked her squarely in the eyes. "I was unable to make it in earlier. I'm certain there won't be a problem, you remember me visiting yesterday, don't you? Why don't you come with me to the door?" The nurse was suddenly unable to think of any reason why Rianna should not go in, and walked with her down the corridor towards the corner beyond which Frank's room lay. ***** Frank lay in his hospital bed, staring at the ceiling, in fact, counting the ceiling tiles, just to see whether they numbered any differently from that morning. And in preparation for the possibility that they'd number differently the next. In the late evening, the only company he had was occasional visits from a nurse, and the ever present company of a police guard just outside his door. The next flurry of activity occurred around 9.00pm when the evening rounds began. Suddenly he heard the sound of his guard's voice outside the door. "It's outside of visiting hours, miss. What are you doing here?" "It's ok, isn't it nurse. I visited Frank yesterday." Frank strove to place the voice. "Yes officer, that's right, this young lady visited Mr Kohanek yesterday evening, also." "Officer!" All turned towards the new voice. Max. "Would you please check the stairwell beyond the nurses' station, I've just found the door to the one behind me ajar." The young officer hurried to obey his superior, the nurse following him, and Max stood outside Frank's door. Rianna slipped inside. ***** Sonny came into the ward at the same time as the young officer returned from checking the stairwell. "You checking up on me too, Sarge?" "Nope, just visiting. Who else is here?" "Sergeant Harbourne. He said the Lieutenant sent him down here." "He what...? Oh shit," swore Sonny, and headed to Frank's room at a run. Max saw him round the corner, and fired two shots from a phosphorous gun, then ran. Both shots missed. The Ventrue woman stepped from the shadows. "Sonny?" "Get after him, Glynis." Sonny hauled her off Frank. The door opened, it was Glynis. She shook her head, and Sonny flung Rianna at her. "Take her to Julian. He'll hold her in the prison of light. I'll see Frank's ok, then I'll contact Julian myself." Sonny burst into Frank's room. Someone held a pillow to Frank's face, Rianna! Sonny hauled her off Frank. The door opened, it was Glynis. She shook her head, and Sonny flung Rianna at her. "Take her to Julian. He'll hold her in the prison of light. I'll see Frank's ok, then I'll contact Julian myself." ***** "Daedalus, I have an excuse to call a blood hunt against Max, he endeavoured to kill Sonny." "I agree, but be careful that it is seen to be about Sonny not about Frank Kohanek." "Lillie? Cash?" "Call the hunt Julian," said Lillie. "I agree," said Cash. "Cameron?" "It is a matter of complete indifference to me. One Ventrue less either way." "I'll take it that you have no objection then." A pause. "Right then, the hunt is called. Let all Kindred hunt Max Harbourne to his final death." ***** In the grey hours before dawn, Julian and Lillie sat together in her rooms at the Haven. Lillie considered carefully what she was about to say. "Julian, have you considered whether you are still able to continue your protection of Frank?" "I don't believe I am any less able to protect him now than I was six months ago. The chance of an attack such as this has always been high. I first agreed to it simply because it was the one thing Alexandra asked of me. Now, I am willing to do it because I like and respect him." "I too want him protected, but six months ago, the Brujah posed the greatest threat. Now the assault has come from within our Clans. How do we guard against that? Shall we continue to protect him if it is against the wishes of our Clans?" "I hadn't thought to hear you questioning this, Lillie. I thought you were fond of him?" "I am. But I am concerned that my clan may be viewing this as placing a mortal's wellbeing above theirs. It's ironic that this whole episode started with him joining Sonny, and us, for an evening." "What are you getting at?" Lillie stood and poured another glass of wine. "Are you, would you, consider embracing him?" "It was the one thing I promised Alexandra that I would prevent." "Surely you promised to protect him from being either killed or forcibly embraced. What if he were truly willing?" "I don't know under what circumstances he would agree. I would not embrace him against his will." "Can you see a time when he might agree?" "He is so very human. So much of what defines him are qualities which are not those of Kindred." "I see many of the same qualities in you both. Think about it Julian. I believe he is capable of choosing to be Kindred. And I believe he would be happy as Ventrue."

Chapter 4

Early the next morning, Julian had Cash bring Rianna to he and Daedalus in the library. "Rianna, who else is involved in the plot against Frank Kohanek's life?" "I don't know", she snapped, her eyes flashing. "There were others?" "I don't know who they were, I never met them. I only ever was contacted by Max." "But you know something about them? The girl remained silent, her chin defiantly high, but not meeting Julian's gaze. "Rianna." Caught by surprise she turned to face Daedalus, and he caught her eyes, compelling her to answer his question, finding no resistance from her in her youth and lack of power. "Who else was involved?" "I don't know names, or details, but Max said he'd never work with Brujah, but that he'd work with all the other Clans." "What did he mean by this?", from Julian. "I think that there were both Nosferatu and Gangrel involved. I think one from each Clan as he talked as though there were two others." Julian continued to question her, "Do you know who planned this?" "Not Max, someone he seemed almost afraid of." "What motivated your involvement?" "Max told me all the reasons I have to fear Frank Kohanek. That he would hunt us. That he endangered all of us. I feared him anyway, he tried to question me about Zane soon after I was embraced." "Thank you Rianna. Cash, return her to the basement." "Julian, I doubt that Max would fear a Gangrel. The leader of this plot is most likely Nosferatu." "I agree. I think also that the girl's motivation was purely fear. Max played on this, manipulated her while she is still vulnerable." "What shall you do with her?" "I think send her away. Lillie has suggested Philadelphia where she has a brood brother who is willing to take on a problematical Childe." "And the others?" "I have to assume they will try again. If their actions are motivated genuinely by fear, or even if the leader is playing on the fear of others, they will have to act soon." ***** It was a pretty good day reflected Frank. Not too cold, nor too damp, and he was being discharged from hospital. The only bad thing about that was a week of enforced inactivity before he was allowed back to work on light duties. He was however surprised that it was Lillie who arrived at 3.00pm to take him home. "So, what are you doing up at this hour?" "And miss giving you a ride home?" "Huh. I could have caught a taxi, though I half expected Sonny to collect me." "Well, I did have to fight him for the honour." "Did he live?" "Frank, men do escape me unharmed, you know." "Do I?" "Do you want to?" "This is going to be a long ride. I suppose you'll want to come in?" "Of course! You should offer me a drink." "I am not going to ask you what you want." They glanced at each other, and shared a laugh. Frank continued, "Lillie, I am not looking for involvement with anyone at the moment, not even a brief and harmless flirtation. Even if I thought that was possible with you." "I understand. I enjoy your company and I would value your friendship." "Good. That's what I want at the moment, what I need." "Julian begun protecting you for Alexandra's sake, but I know he now protects you because he likes you. He would be a powerful friend if you wished." "What would that friendship cost, Lillie? I won't run his errands or dance to his tune. But if he wished simply to be a friend, that I would like." They arrived at Frank's apartment, and Lillie carried his bag to the door. "Coming in?" "No Frank. I don't think so. Goodbye." "Goodbye." Frank watched Lillie climb into her car and drive off. Wondering what friendship with her might cost.

Chapter 5

A few nights later Frank once again found himself at a table in a corner of The Haven nursing a drink and chatting with Sonny. Early on a Monday night, the place was mostly empty and the canned music sounded raucous amidst the relative hush. Across the room he could see Caitlyn Byrne sitting alone at a table, waiting for Julian, he thought. There was no-one else that he recognised, even Lillie had not appeared. "Hey Frank, you listening to me or not?" "Huh? Oh, sorry Sonny, what were you saying?" "About Hwang, the guy's getting less and less realistic. Our cleanup rate's about as good as it'll get." "Oh yeah? There's always the hotbed of criminal intent down at the Dock Workers Union." "Yeah sure. Mind if I leave that one to you?" "I'll cause `em serious damage one day." "You'd better make it a knockout blow because they won't allow you a second chance. I still think you should leave it." "Julian's behind the investigation being dropped, isn't he?" "Julian has nothing to fear from the investigation, he's mainly concerned with the fallout, both for the other Clans and for the humans involved. That means you, Frank." But Frank had risen, and was walking towards Caitlyn. Cameron was already there, leaning over her one hand on her shoulder, the other placing a drink on the table. A drink Caitlyn plainly did not want. "Leave the lady be. She doesn't want the drink, and she doesn't want your hand on her." "And I don't need or want your opinion, Detective." Frank grabbed Cameron's wrist, he threw it off angrily. "Frank, it's ok, really," said Caitlyn, "Julian will be here any moment". Lillie appeared behind Cameron. "Cameron, stop this immediately. The Haven is neutral." "That applies only to us," hissed Cameron in reply. Caitlyn looked confused, then as she caught site of Julian, she relaxed and smiled, confident that her lover would make things right. Cameron saw her change of expression, and drifted away, then so did Lillie. Frank paused to assure himself she was unhurt before also slipping away. ***** It was pretty soon after that that Frank became aware of being followed between home and work. Then small, unexplained things began happening. Washing missing from the line. His garbage strewn across the footpath one morning. A tyre flat that evening when he went to leave for work. Frank didn't tell anyone about it. Although Sonny commented on how quiet he seemed. The nuisances didn't get any more provocative. He was never threatened directly, and after a few days he started to ignore the people in the shadows, and the small nuisances, and started to believe that was all it amounted to. Until his return home one morning. Opening his apartment door, he didn't at first notice anything unusual. The place hadn't been trashed. But, he caught site of an object on the floor, and bending to pick it up realised it was a broken photo frame. The wedding photo in it had been pulled from the remains of the frame and torn in two. As he looked around, he realised that every one of his photos had had their frames broken and the photos torn. He sank despondently down on the sofa, still clutching the remains of his wedding photo. He was still there some time later when his door bell rang. ***** It was Julian. "Frank, may I come in?" "What are you doing here?" "I need to speak with you." Frank hesitated a moment, then led Julian inside. Indicating that he should take a chair, while Frank sank down again onto the sofa." "Curious?" "Yes, of course. You've never been here before, I've never invited you." "Asking whether you're curious is probably redundant. Curiosity may be your downfall." "A good cop is curious, especially a detective." "Even when that curiosity leads you into danger?" "Yes, of course. Why are you so interested?" "Your continued interest in Clan Brujah's affairs does not make my protection of you easy." "I never asked for your protection. No matter what strings you pull in the Department, you won't prevent me from doing my job." "I can't make you stop. But I suggest you consider the facts. Balance your chance of success against the chance of winding up dead, or forcibly embraced. I can protect you only so far. I'm not guarding you night and day." "Being threatened with violence is not..." These threats are unlike others you may have received. Who else can shape shift into a bird of prey and fly in through your bedroom window? Who else can bend your will so that you harm yourself? Who else might hold you while another drained your blood then sat back and considered whether to kill or embrace you?" He leaned forward and took the remains of the photo Frank still held. "Who else could get in and do this without you having any idea how they entered?" Frank sat back and swallowed nervously as Julian stared across at him. "A few torn photos are nothing, whatever they meant to you. Frank, my protection amounts to a bluff. They don't kill you because they fear the consequences. But, every time I fail to respond to their provocation, they grow more bold. And not only the Brujah. War may be inevitable. But it would almost certainly be preceded by an assault on you." "What are you saying?" "I may not be able to prevent your death or your embrace. Pick which you would prefer, if you continue with your investigations you'll be faced with that choice eventually?" Frank sat and thought for a few moments. "Julian, if I were willing to be embraced only to avoid death, then I would not truly be willing to be embraced." It was Julian's turn to be taken aback. "What are you saying?" "That it's not a choice to be made with a gun to my head." "Then think about it now."