The evening after the Grand Elysium, the coterie members awake to the sound of rain. A massive storm is coming in off the Atlantic, and the city will be drenched for the next two days. Orion spends his first few minutes checking in with Cassandra, and makes an appointment for the coterie to visit her laboratory at 2:00AM. He is eager to get her away from her research, and any other ties to Pentex.
Christophe awakes to Jessica’s concerned face. It seems that Eleven slipped out sometime the night before, probably due to the problems that she and Brian had been having. Brian is at first unwilling to seek his sire out, but Christophe shares a few choice words with him, convincing him otherwise. A quick call to Leon ensures that the two Roses now have an experienced tracker, and the trio races off to Brian’s old hometown.
Meanwhile, Diego and Kurt decide to check out Kitty’s Place, the mob hangout they learned of from the men at the laundromat. They determine that it is an especially public place to stage a raid, and that even without witnesses, there would be a lot of armed and experienced mobsters on the premises. Still, they file away their discoveries for later. As they are leaving, Professor Tori has a brief run-in with one of his students, one of the dancers.
Out in the ‘Burbs, Brian, Christophe, and Orion are having little luck finding Eleven, despite visiting all the key locations from her early dates with Brian. It is only at a movie theater that the Gangrel catches a whiff of Eleven’s scent, but the heavy rain makes it impossible to follow beyond the front doors. The two men realize their young charge is not with them, and find Brian, completely enraptured by a showing of Avatar. Christophe recognizes the look in the boy’s eyes, and regrets being a Toreador. It is nearing time for the meeting with Cassandra, so the trio reluctantly heads back towards New York.
Christophe swings by his penthouse to drop off Brian and pick up Diego. The three vampires arrive at Cassandra’s office, fifteen minutes late, and find it locked. The interior of the building is completely dark, yet there are still a fair number of cars in the parking lot. After being unable to reach Cassandra, Leon hurriedly picks the door lock.
All the building’s power seems to be out, so the coterie pulls out cell-phones and flashlights. The security guard is found behind the front desk, his body face-down, his head face-up, a look of mild surprise as his last expression. In panic, Leon shouts a curse and dashes for the stairwell. Racing directly to the fourth floor, he finds mutilated bodies strewn about the hallway, and claw marks in the walls. Blood pools beneath white labcoats, cooling and congealing.
The bodies belong to Cassandra’s friends and co-workers, but she is not among them. A desperate search of the offices turns up nothing, but a call to her phone leads the Gangrel into one of the labs. The Assamite and Toreador slide in beside him. At the far back of the room, Cassandra sits with her back against a cabinet. Her side is torn open, both hands pressed against the wound in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding. Leon drops instantly to her side, checking her pulse and examining the wound. She is dying of blood loss, and has perhaps a minute to live.
It is a terrible choice. Do you let go of the last vestige of life, or do you cling to it beyond death? Are you saving a loved one’s life, or damning their immortal soul? Leon O’Ryan knows that there is only one feasible way to save Cassandra, but from the amount of blood on the floor, he also knows that it might come at a terrible price. To him, though, it is no decision at all.
The Toreador Primogen sees the look in Leon’s eyes, and is moved. He calls the Syndicate, requesting emergency permission to expand the Camarilla, and swears that the new childe is not another Rose. Permission is granted, though Christophe suspects there will be a price to pay, and Leon begins the Embrace.
A long time seems to pass, during which the coterie are completely motionless, standing around the tiny beam of a key-chain LED. Cassandra moves, emitting a cry of pain and hunger, and Leon feels that special mix of shame and relief, that cocktail of emotions that he will never forget. So happy that she is still with him, so sad that she is now like him, so pained that he has brought her to this point. He cuts his arm and lets her feed from him, being careful not to let her gorge. Momentarily satisfied, the researcher regains a little composure, and begins to ask questions. Recognizing that this is a matter for Orion alone, Christophe and Diego start their search for clues.
Cassandra never saw the person, or thing, that attacked her. However, by gazing backwards in time, Christophe witnesses the event. The power had gone off, causing the employees to stumble out into the hallway in search of flashlights. In the dim light from the windows, he can just make out a humanoid shape emerging from the stairwell door, but cannot distinguish anything further. Cassandra is on her feet now, and Christophe insists that they get her down to the Syndicate immediately, in order to get her accounted for. Diego stays behind to continue the search, and calls Panzermayer to come assist him.
After the Brujah’s arrival, the building is searched floor by floor. On each level, more bodies are found, as well as smashed computers, broken optical media, and waste-bins full of burned paper. There are no other survivors, but the searchers discover two important treasures. In one bin, a lone dossier had not been incinerated, only singed. It seems to contain the project overview for some sort of scanning device, and Diego notices a slot that is perfectly shaped for an ampoule of Culture Shock. Then, in the purse of an intern, a netbook is found. It seems Tiffany took her work home with her from time to time, though the password on her “Work” folder will require someone with hacking expertise.
Cassandra is brought before the Syndicate, who give their approval of this capable new Kindred. When informed of the attack on D.N.A., they promise to send a cleanup crew, and to use their resources to determine who might have struck at the research firm. Upon leaving, Christophe calls up “Grunge Girl,” as the coterie has two main suspects: Deacon, or the Werewolves. However, their furry friend does not pick up, and the Toreador is forced to leave a message. Not sure of who to trust, Leon takes Cassandra to stay with Victor, hoping that the Brujah can help explain unlife to her better than he could.
Kurt heads to his new apartment, pausing to drop Diego off. The professor checks his mail, and becomes instantly alert when he finds a blank envelope, sealed with a dab of wax. Taking it inside and briefly searching the room, he pops the seal and draws forth an ornate letter. It is from Hasim long-string-of-names-that-end-in-Haqim, a fellow Assamite who wishes to educate Diego about his true heritage, and offer the friendship of Alamut. The letter specifies a meeting place, at 10:00 on the next night.
Back at the penthouse, Christophe checks in on Brian, finding him writing a poem for Eleven. He has a heart-to-heart chat with the young man, encouraging him to try to work things out with Eleven, to find what made them fall in love in the first place. An odd bit of advice from a hitman, but Brian seems invigorated. Jessica is waiting outside Brian’s door with a message. A Mr. Abdel-Rahman had called earlier, saying that he would like to meet with Christophe and his “friends” at midnight tomorrow night. As if that news wasn’t bad enough, another call comes in, this time from Eleven. When told that Brian still loves her and wants to work things out, she is elated, but becomes distraught when told of his fear of being replaced. Christophe feels a sinking feeling, but manages to control himself enough to learn her location, at a Hilton in Saratoga Springs. He packs his shotgun, grabs his car, and roars off across the rain-slick streets.