The next morning, Blade, (after some meditation,) headed back to the restaurant. He was not sure if he would be blocked again, but he gave it atry. When he arrived, he could see the building. Before going in, he tried something. He managed to get adjacent to that building to find another way, and the building seemed to vanish again. When he went back to the restaurant, it was there. He shook his head in frustration, knowing that there had never been a situation where he had not been able to get into anywhere. He went into the restaurant, hoping to find...well...something.
He entered to some bright but calming music, and Yuriya was back behind the coffee bistro. She smiled brightly when he saw Blade, and she said, "So good you couldn't stay away, huh?"
"Might as well catch some breakfast," he said.
It was then that she noticed that he was wearing his normal garb, and she said,"So, work with the SWAT team?"
Blade thought for a moment, and then he said, "I do a manner of law enforcement."
"I can see that!" she said, "Yet, I never saw a cop with a sword before."
"It's a special detail," responded Blade, "I work in the inner city. Some of the Goth kids dig it, and it helps me get in with them."
"I should say so!" she said, and then handed him a menu, saying, "I can take your order. Any kind of drink you want today?"
"Just give me the drip, and make it black," he answered.
"How about our Sumatran?"
As he was going over the menu, Donovan's Catch the Wind came over the system, and Yuriya began to grin and get a dreamy look on her face as it played. She was swaying and humming to the tune as she got his coffee. Blade, although expressionless, was nonetheless amused and interested. "Does the song have meaning with you?"
Yuriya laughed like a little girl, and she said, "That was the first dance that I and my husband ever had when we were wed."
"Who is that?" he asked.
As if an answer, out of nowhere-seemingly right out of the wall-emerged Jean-Claude, Hondo, and all the kids. Yuriya smiled and waved to him, saying,"That's him."
He was wearing clothes more akin to athletics, as the two eldest wore dance clothes, and the three youngest their Sunday best for school. Jean-Claude was singing the song to his wife as he kissed her, saying, "That song will never get old for me!"
"Nor will it for me," Yuriya said in return. Blade was amazed at his gentle demeanor despite his size. However, all the kids were looking at Blade, expressionless, but with great interest. Jean-Claude was getting his breakfast to go, and his favorite coffee, and did not seem to notice the keen interest of the kids. Blade, however, was shaken by this. He turned in the stool and gave them a "yeah, what?" look. However, Sophia looked at Blade, walked up to him, and said, "You are the missing key to open up a great door of prosperity. May the Lord's blessing be upon you."
With that, he gathered up the troops as Hondo held his daughter and guided Franklin, and they were out the door. Blade looked at her and said, "And you said your husband was a tight end for the Jets?"
She laughed at that, genuinely amused, and she said, "Actually, he teaches Phys Ed, and he also coaches hockey. He also plays on one of the local Rugby teams, and they are about to start their spring season. He finds it funny that he has more or less kept his size from high school, and moved from wing forward, to inside forward, to the tight head prop. However, he has found he likes the front row, because they never expect a prop to be that fast, or tail the ball like that!"
Blade, having no real knowledge of the game, just pumped his head up and down, acting like he was engaged with the conversation. One thing he noticed that was interesting was the Ray-Bans that he wore, and the transition lenses that she wore. He was going to ask about that, but then he recalled the sunglasses on his own face, and realized that it might be better to leave that one alone.
Blade sat and ate his breakfast, scanning the back wall closely, wondering just from where everyone emerged. He did not see a door, the hint of a secret panel, he only saw a wall. He then turned his interest to the children. He then asked Yuriya, "Were any of those yours?"
"The twins, and the youngest boy," she said as she tended to her tasks.
"I've heard a lot about the head chef here," said Blade "Is she here right now?"
"She works the night shift," said Yuriya, "You could catch her tonight, if you wanted."
That perked his interest. If he suspected her of being a vampire, that was abig indicator. However good the information was, though, he wanted more. He knew that this was an apartment complex, so he had to find the entrance to that. He paid, tipped well, and went around the corner to 61st St.
He knew that this had been the location of the old Mayflower on the Park hotel, but by this point, it would have been falling apart from age. He knew that the rich entrepreneur that owned the building next door had bought it and tore it down to build the 50 story complex to compliment his own hotel, but he never was able to get it done. He had to assume that was when it had been bought by this mysterious Clan and remodeled for their purposes. It had to be their headquarters. He looked in through the glass doors, saw the elevators in the marble walls, and he knew that it had to be the way up to the apartments. However, when he entered, he did not see the bats in the crevices watching things, and when he tried to approach the elevators, he found himself heading for the doors out. He stopped, turned around saw the elevators, and then found himself looking out to the building next door on 61st. "It has to be a mind trick," he thought to himself, and he had to try to tap into his vampire abilities. He took two minutes to concentrate and focus his mind, and then he looked at where the elevators should have been, and saw the outline of the system in infrared. He kept his focus and moved slowly towards them, and eventually found the door, pushed the button, and entered. It was a mental struggle, but he made it in. Once he was in, everything was as it should have been. He then looked at the elevator board and noticed that there were only 46 floors marked, whereas the building had 50 stories. He pressed "46" and up it went.
When he stepped out, the hallways teed out from a central point, and each one led to a large picture window with dark red carpeted floors. Blade walked to one that overlooked Central Park West and the park itself. Indeed, though the rising sun was beaming through it, he felt no heat, nor could his enhanced eyesight detect anything in the UV scale. In short, if some undead lived here, he could enjoy the sunlight without issue, despite the view being slightly tinted. He then used his glasses to try to find an unoccupied apartment through which he could cut through the roof and then go higher. However, he found it odd that only one apartment was occupied. Yet, when he was about to break into one of the apartments, a door was opened, followed by a monotone,"May I ask what you are doing?"
Blade stiffened; shocked that anyone had snuck up on him. That had never happened before. Wearing a black kimono robe, and her hair prepped for sleep was Anjou. He slowly turned, and said, "I heard that these were excellent apartments, and I wanted to get a look around."
"That's surprising," she responded, "considering that those tours are normally scheduled, guided, and the potential renter has a key to the apartment in hand, with a large paddle on it."
"I didn't know I needed all that," said Blade, trying to talk his way out of the situation that was forming.
Anjou was not careful in approaching him, stating, "I also find the choice of your outfit interesting, especially how you carry a sword in your jacket. Who are you?"
Anjou well knew who he was. She could not lie, considering her commitments, but that did not mean she had to let on how much she knew. Blade wasn't sure what to do. Normally, he would be taking advantage of the situation if this were a vampire, but she had a 98.6 degree body temperature, though everything about her said, "Vampire." He therefore could not just take her, fight her, or kill her. He was caught and he had to admit it. Yet, he took a chance, and he said, "You tell whoever this Clan is that they had better lay their cards on the table and let me know what is going on before its open season on them. As far as I am concerned, the only good vampire is a dead vampire."
She just stared at him with her characteristic stoic stare and just shook her head, saying, "You poor dhampir; you hate what you are so much that you have to take it out on everyone that represents that, even if they are not evil. Have you ever tried to embrace what you are?"
He started to approach with some anger in his voice, not liking how she was reading him like a book. "To do that, I have to give into the Thirst. I would rather have my head taken off than to lose respect to humans."
She then grinned at him, and said, "If you would only trust us, you could have so much more."
He was taken aback by that, and he was not sure how to answer, when she returned to serious and said, "I'll give you three minutes to leave before this gets messy."
Before he could react to that, the door shut, and he was alone. He took the elevator down, and he was now more confused than he had been before he had come up. He had to figure that this could wait, because he had some work to do that night.
One hour after sunset, the Hand knelt in the throne room of the royalty. It took up the entire top floor, with fine columns and a marble floor, a red carpet up to the throne area that was backed by beautiful Japanese tapestries, palm plants and four gold thrones. On the left was Empress Sophia in the largest and most elegant throne, with Grand Duchess Kannon to her right. On atier lower were the twins. Duke Michael was to the left of Sophia, as Duchess Sheila was to the right of Kannon. They were then told to rise, and it was then that Mickey spoke and said, "Anjou, I understand that we had a visitor today."
"Yes, your grace," she said, "It was Blade."
Kannon, though acting in a royal capacity at that point, was a bit more nonchalant, and she said, "How did he get past your wards? That was a neat trick!"
"Please do remember, your Highness," responded Anjou, "Though it was undead that created his state, he still has certain abilities that he can bring to bear to aid him past certain things."
"The four of us were talking before you came," said Sheila, "And we think it best that you split up into two squads. Karin, Kenta, father, and Anjou need to go and find out what they can on Amayah: where they are headquartered, how deep their roots go, how many of their so-called pure bloods are in New York, and then come back and start to figure out a game plan on how to shut them down. The rest of you, find out where Blade is holding court, and try to win over his friends."
Sophia then said, "You both may see Blade as you go. Be kind. If he is rough, then do what you must, but we want to win him. He is the missing key for us."
The Hand bowed and asked permission to go forth. It was granted, but as they left, Jean-Claude turned around and said, "Make sure you finish your homework, and help your mother with the coffee bar when you're done."
The kids laughed, knowing the deal that had been set: when it is royal matters, they call the shots. When it is family, then things are as normal until they became adults. Mickey then suddenly put his thumb on his nose. Sophia noticed it and did the same followed by Kannon. Sheila noticed too late, and said,"Aw, come on!" but the others were not having it. "Your turn to get the study drinks and snacks going!" teased Mickey.
She groaned as the others laughed and went down to meet in Jean-Claude's place for study.
Karin, Anjou, and Jean-Claude prepared, as they all got on their hunting outfits. Jean-Claude had an Uzi with silver bullets in addition to his sword, while the others concealed .45 caliber automatics with silver bullets and with silver throwing stars, in addition to their blades. They knew that, where they were going, the police would not say much about the blades, but they had to be careful about the fire arms. They decided to go into Queens to look around. Jean-Claude learned about the safe houses that the different households had set up that, if they were ever far from their havens, and the sun was coming up, they could go there for shelter. "One of those safe houses would be a good place to start, because we can tear it up, send a message, come away with anything they may have in information, and save some lives. Sometimes, humans are led in there as if it was a safe house for the poor or addicts, and they then get feasted upon."
He then handed the two of them a card that had the glyph for House Amayah, and he said, "They paint on the wall in a paint that can only be seen under high UV light, or by vampires that can see in that scale."
"What do we do when we find one?" asked Karin, "Do we just kick in the door?"
"Precisely!" said Jean-Claude.
Karin looked at him oddly, but Anjou said, "By the time the police arrive, we'll be long gone, and the only bodies they will find are the familiars. I am so glad they do not make them g'huls. They have no trust for humans to the point of not empowering them so that they can protect their undead bosses. They have much to learn."
Jean-Claude laughed and said, "Who cares if they learn? I do not intend to let them live long enough to apply the lesson."
As they walked the street together, a few of the foolhardy came up and tried to challenge, but a sharp stare from them backed them off. One man thought Jean-Claude was some kind of a pimp, and made an offer for the both of them. Jean-Claude then said, "Girls, show him your answer."
They moved in swiftly, Karin coming in with a clothesline, and Anjou with aforearm to the crotch. He hit the pavement hard and lay there in excruciating pain. They turned a corner, and the markings clearly showed that they were on some gang turf. Someone approached Jean-Claude and said, "Hey, man, looks like you came here for business! Well, I've got it all, all the highs that won't hook you or OD you man! Just let me know your poison! Hey, I figure that, if I kill my clientele, I can't make money."
Jean-Claude just looked at him as he passed and said, "Not interested."
The man became indignant, and said, "Hey! What makes you think you can just walk into this hood...hey, are you trying to deal? You ain't gonna deal..."
Jean-Claude heard the sound of something being drawn out, and he knew that it was not going to be something nice. Thus, he wheeled around and knocked out of his hand what turned out to be a Derringer, which would not even faze him if it had hit him. Just as quickly he snatched him up and flung him hard into a wall, after which he fell in a heap. That caught the attention of about six gang bangers across the street, because that man had on their gang colors, and they were not just going to accept that from anyone on their turf, especially some strangers that just had to be 5-0. Karin saw them coming and nudged Jean-Claude, who in turn nudged Anjou. Knowing what was going to follow, they approached the six as they came up. Jean-Claude then thought, "Good, we get awarm-up!"
"Yo," he snapped, "We saw what you did, and..."
That was all he got out, because Jean-Claude wasn't there to have conversations. He was there to trash a safe house and get some information. Jean-Claude, with lightning speed, grabbed him by the shirt and threw him back to the curb, to which Karin said, "And he just did it again!"
At that, the remaining five were pulling pieces out, but Karin spotted this and had them disarmed before they could react. All her training in Bangor with the A-team was paying off over the years, and she had only gotten better. She never foresaw herself going from being the happy homemaker to vampire warrior, but her story had never been a normal one since the day of her birth. At this point, she had gone to wearing heeled boots for this, knowing that they could also be a weapon. They were designed with rubber souls to keep her footing, and thus, she was very nimble in them. Once they were disarmed, she spun around and put a heel into one man's gut, and then pivoted around on the other foot and straddled the other man's arm as he was pulling a knife, and she used her hands and thigh to break the man's arm at the elbow. She let him drop, and gave a good field goal kick to the first man's chin just as he was regaining himself. Because of their added strength, she shattered his jaw in the process.
The two before Anjou tried to get a bead on her, but she had leapt behind them before they knew what had happened. She then bashed their heads together, and they fell in a heap. By that point, Jean-Claude grabbed the remaining man and walked him to a wall on a nearby apartment complex. He pinned the man there and put his saber to the man's throat. He braced the man there with his leg, and with his free hand pulled out a card with a glyph on it. He showed it to him and said, "Ever seen this?"
"Yo, man, I've seen all kinds of tags, and I don't remember that one," the now terrified punk choked out.
"That's because it isn't a gang symbol," said Karin in a frank manner, "You wouldn't see it, or be able to see it, on a wall. How about tattoos or marks on clothes."
"Yeah," the man now said, "Come to think of it, I have seen it on someone's wrist."
"Listen to me," said Anjou in her normal tone, despite the situation, "If you have had friends or family mysteriously disappearing, and you want it to stop-if you want to save your own hide, then you listen well. Tell us where this person is, and we not only let you live, we do your neighborhood a favor."
"Are...whoever they are...like you?" said the now very cooperative man.
"Yes and no," said Karin, "But they are powerful. Imagine about 25 or 30 coming into this neighborhood. Would you want this?"
"No, man," he quickly responded, "I'll tell you where he is...I'll take you to him!"
"Bright boy," said Jean-Claude, and he lowered his saber saying, "Remember: try something funny, and, well, you saw how quick your friends fell."
While this was going on, Anjou was erasing the memories of the men so that they would not recall what had hit them. Because they did not do it to the others, there would be conflicting reports, and that would be just fine in covering tracks. With that, the punk led the way, shaking in his boots, because he had heard rumors about this place, and he was not sure he wanted to go there. Detecting this, Anjou stroked his face and said, "Fear not: as quickly as we dispatched your bad choice of friends, we can protect you."
He just gulped hard, not knowing her intentions. Considering the rumors that he had heard about what had been causing the problems, he was not sure what they were going to do, or of whom to be afraid-them, or the place to where they went.