By: Azure Dragon Chapter one. Late night in Miami found Talisman Metternich making a discovery. There was nothing in the world that shocked her anymore. But as she had bitterly learned, not all things were as they seemed. University kids were out getting smashed and wasted before finals in two days. Tonight was no different then any other; save for the fact that the party found her kneeling in blood and wishing that she was the one who was dead. With her last reason for staying dead in her arms certain thoughts could no longer be denied. They were that she had spent far too long with her secrets. They had cost yet another life, another meaningless year, another nightmare. There was no justice in her world. No one to say what was right or wrong. It was all based on what an individual decided to do. Priceless choices that often brought ruin and despair to others. Keller was now a part of that price. Releasing her dead friend she sat back on her heels, staring at the blood on her hands. Would there ever be a soap strong enough to make them clean? Sadly she realized there was no such thing. How had she done this to herself? Gone was the reserved German school girl who had dreamed of being an artist, to this...whatever it was. She was sick to discover just how far she had fallen from grace. Staring at the body another thought came to the surface: How many was that now? A dozen? Two dozen, three? She had lost count in the last little while. Not counting was the only way to stay sane about the whole thing. Staring into Keller's bloodless face, she found nothing but cold inside herself. Much like what now showed in the once vibrant eyes of the man. Heaving a sigh she pulled Keller into her arms and lifted the body off the ground. There was a slight squish to the soaked grass that was only in part because of the rain. Carrying the cold object in her arms she left the park and crossed the vacant grounds to her waiting Lexus. Music pushed out of the clubs and bars, hailing to her peers to stop in. She took a moment to watch the smiling and happy faces. The girls in their skintight pants and tops. The boys in their shorts and silk shirts. Cars that were the crème Del a crème rolled back and forth. There was a sense of life and vitality like a promise of chaos. That was what she like about this part of Miami, the contained destruction that vibrated from everything. Shaking her head she stared down the car she had bought two years ago. A midnight blue Lexus. Specially tinted black windows reflected back the Miami nightline and showed a world weary woman. Talisman stopped and stared at herself very closely in those windows. People had often described her as beautiful, stunning, perfect. Skin that was unstained by make-up and milk white in color Hair that was described as ashen; was longer then she had ever remembered it being. Going past her shoulders in front and nearly to her hips in back. A black wool coat that was damp in the tropic air sat too big on her thin body. A few months ago it had fit perfectly. Were things really that bad? As she asked herself as her eyes fixed on themselves. Black glass showed her the moonlight-silver irises that had cursed her from birth. Frowning at her face she opened the door and stuffed the body in the backseat. Reaching into the pocket of the coat she pulled out blue Rayban sunglasses. Even though it was night she could seem perfectly in the dim lighting. Sliding behind the wheel she saw that someone had paged her while she was out. Bringing up the computer screen set in her dash board, she typed in the password. The machine worked and brought up the message. "Lend Bowen a hand. Details to follow, Scythe." "Damn." She whispered turning the key, the luxury car purred to life under her. " Damn, damn, damn." Bowen Delray operated in San Francisco. The one was place she had avoided by every means possible short of flying to the moon, for over five years. Do in part to Bowen hand his group, and do in part to the fact that the city was never good to her. Every time she had been their someone had died, some building had been destroyed and she had come close to dying several times. Contrary to what was said she hadn't enjoy the experience. Five years had come and gone and had done nothing make her unease fade. As Talisman entered the traffic around the main strip she saw the face on the screen. Details, Scythe had promised details. He was one of the few men she knew that kept his promises. Too bad it always involved someone dying. Talisman adjusted her speed as she came up behind a limousine. She stared at the screen and watched as the target materialized. It was always the details that took the fun out of her life. She stared at the slender face, the dark waves of hair and electric blue eyes. The name was typed at the bottom followed by a list of addresses and contact numbers. In brackets at the very far corner of the screen was a single word: Toreador. " While is always the creative people who get the axe?" Talisman muttered to the dead man in the back seat. She shook her head and drove one handed as she pulled out the keyboard and typed in her call-sign. Scythe would know she had accepted the target and was on her way. Chapter Two. ** Sasha Luna was never known for being a peaceful soul. Not when she was child and not now that she was a vampire. A star filled sky watched over her Uncles estate as she hung out on the balcony. Cash was in the house for a Conclave meeting. Down below were a couple of his friends. She watched them and felt the familiar burn of longing in her chest. Her heart ached to be with him, but her blood snarled was totally against it. She was Brujah, he was Grangrel, they didn't mix unless it was for war. Which was never the time to say the things she longed to say. In the past few nights her clan had come very close to war, not just with Cash, but everyone. Cameron had always stepped in at the last minute and everything would cool off. But tonight was still early, so anything could happen. Somewhere in the house the leaders of the City of San Francisco were trying to decide how to handle the recent rash of deaths. Everyone was claming innocence to the matter. So they were having a meeting. It was annoying as hell to be stuck here. There was an eerie calm to the entire place as if they were all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Pushing away from the banister she stormed back into her room. Eyes sweeping over the hand carved bed, silk curtains, hand tooled wall paper and other luxuries. On the surface life was good, but underneath...that was another thing. Although she had been a Brujah less then a year it was the most boring life she had ever imagined. There was nothing to do except wait for the others to act and then follow them and pretend she was having a great time. Uncle Julian had tried to make her feel welcome, to explain what had happened to her. But he was Prince of the City, he didn't have a lot of time to talk to her. Besides she refused to hear it from him. There was only one she wanted answers from. Cash. But he wasn't even here most of the time. Ever since she had fooled around with Zane, he had been giving her the cold shoulder. And now with Cameron showing up in town, there were new and old problems to be sorted out. It was Cash's job to deal with it. He didn't have time for her anymore. It seemed that no one did. Flopping onto her bed she stared at the canopied ceiling and wondered. She had spent hours wondering. What if she had never come here? What if she had never gone to the funeral? What if...what if...what if... That was all she could fill her time with now. Wondering. Occasionally she would find the strength to actually think about it. Like tonight. Only it was just the same old thoughts, tonight there were new things on her mind. New faces that had once filled her wondering hours. Two people actually. They had been the closest thing to friends she'd ever had. Tallis and Jamie Metternich had been among the only people to ever understand her. It had been Tallis that had really sat down and attempted to understand. Sasha wondered if Tallis had been as lonely as she had. If in finding each other they had found some kind of refuge. Both of them came from a small town in the Rhine area of Germany. They had come here with sad stories and strong dreams. Tallis had wanted to be a singer or painter, she was good too. Really good. Sasha laughed as she thought of Lilly and how the woman loved 'cultivating new talent'. She would have liked Tallis. Then there was Jamieson. He didn't dream, he took something and squeezed every thing out of it. Tallis was no exception. He had been a very odd and cold guy. Treating his cousin with a strict hand that was more like a domineering father then kin by marriage. He had refused to let her go anywhere without him or talk to people. One night after drinking too much Sasha had very loudly made her opinion of him clear. Tallis had been the one to explain things to her. To tell her what the truth behind their coming here was. Revealing to her the reality of what Tallis went through everyday. Now that Sasha found her a vampire, she also found that the German school girl had been right. Sometimes it was better to suffer a lot now then to be free and suffer later. Sasha sure as hell was suffering now. Tallis had been right about a lot of things, once Sasha really thought about it. There had been a lot of foreboding wisdom in the words she had spoken all those years ago. It actually chilled her to think about how accurate Tallis had been in saying what would happen. Sasha had always thought she would end up a totally free spirit without a care in the world. Instead she found herself a damn vampire and a prisoner in her uncles home and city. Closing her eyes she found that she could almost make out Tallis' features. She had had ashen hair that was short and neat. Her eyes had been an startling silver, like moonlight. Letting herself drift away on dreams of the past, Sasha curled up and wondered what if she had listened to the strange German school girl. Chapter Three. ** There was a student population of five thousand at the University and all of them were busy writing final exams. Today was the last days for some of them. One of which was Talisman. She sat in her usual desk and worked on the examination. Her professor sat at his desk with a book in hand was busy off in JRR Tolkein's world of Hobbits. As she glanced up at the clock, the door to the room opened. In her black and white world of vision she could tell he was pale skinned and wearing light colored clothing. From the distance she was at there was no way to tell who it was by the face. But she didn't need a face to let her know who had just walked in. He stood at just under six eight and was broad enough to barely fit through the door. Pale hair that was white to her and blonde to others, sat close to his neck. It was braided this morning. Under his arm he carried a black case and walked with a confidant stride. There was only one man in the world who could do that. Jamieson " Scythe" Matternich. Her cousin by marriage and boss by birth. She stared at the half completed test and frowned just as her professor waved her to his desk. She stood up and gathered her coat and bag, moving as silently as possible she descended to the floor. Careful not to look at Scythe as she handed in her test. "Don't worry about finishing it today Ms. Metternich. I'll put an extension on it for you." The Professor said quietly as she turned to leave with Scythe. " Hope your mother feels better soon." Over her shoulder she gave a gentle, "Thanks Mr. Harris." Once they were in the hall she took off the tinted glasses and stuffed them in her pocket. Her vision instantly went from blurry gray to solid white. It gave her a sense of peace to be lost in the oblivion of her freakiness. A birth defect had left her with black and white eyesight. She had what her brother had jokingly called extreme colorblindness. He wasn't joking anymore. Tearing at the elastic in her hair she shook out her mane and sighed. Scythe wisely said nothing as they walked down the old narrow space. Sunlight fell in bright and blinding rays to the floor. During daylight hours her eyes were useless to her. The doctors had said it would take surgery and a genetic breakthrough to fix her eyes. She was content enough to suffer with wearing sunglasses during the daytime. Rather then have a laser in her eyes. "You were supposed to be in San Francisco this morning." He used their native language out of habit more then necessity. "Bowen called me in a rage cause you weren't there." Scythe said as they stepped outside. "I can't bail on four years of schooling just to kill some vampire." She snapped as they moved across the school yard. Her eyes showing her nothing but bright white light. It didn't bother her and she made no move to replace the glasses. ' Scythe grabbed her arm, "You can. Don't forget Talisman, don't ever forget." He shook her roughly," You will do what I tell you, when I tell you." He released her with a slight shove and shook his head in annoyance. "There is a plane leaving for the city in three hours, you're booked on it. Bowen will meet you tonight at a place called the Haven." She stared in his general direction before grinning at him. "Of course, Jamie. How silly of me to ever think that I could be more knowing then you." She turned away, making her way across the tree dotted quad. Talisman moved easily to avoid the tables and trees that littered the huge grounds. Her 'second' eyes guiding her as they often did in daylight. There came a sharp wave of pain from the occipital lobe to her eyes. The white flared pure and clean before falling into a gray and black set of images. "One night he'll say too much." She whispered as the vision played across the white of her eyes. " One night that's all it takes." Chapter 4 ** Sasha let the heavy wooden door close behind her as she headed down into the Haven. Deep tones of a male singer filled the posh club with a mournful song. Pausing as she stepped down she saw Lilly in her usual booth with Julian and Cash. Tearing her eyes off her former lover and former uncle she saw her clanmates in the opposite booth. They grinned at her and she could only frown. She didn't want to be with them. Looking around at the faces of the Kindred she realized that she didn't want to be with any of them. Turning sharply she was about to leave when there was a loud explosion. It rocked her back and into someone. Looking up she found Cash has caught her from falling to the mosaic floor. Her attention was taken from his face as the sound of people yelling filled the club. Men in dark clothes came spilling like a wave down into the club. Instantly drawing the kindred into a circle to defend their Prince. Orders were given and the stairs were blocked off by a wall of men with guns. One stepped from them and toward Sasha and family. He stopped a few paces back and lowered the mask on his face. "Sasha Luna?" He asked in a gruff voice. His eyes intense on her face as he stared into her own eyes. Julian answered for her. " Who's asking?" "Be still Prince." His gaze flickered to the man and then back to her. " Stand away from the Enforcer Ms. Luna." "Why?" She tossed a look over to Cameron who was looking just as confused as everyone else. The sharp click of a gun made her look back to the strange man. He leveled Dragon's Breath at her and inclined his head. Sasha moved to follow and felt Cash squeeze her arms. She stopped. "Bowen!" The warning was seconds too late as he staggered and went to one knee. Even against the dark of his clothes one could see blood. His men were looking around in confusion as another fell and then third. Seconds passed as the wall around the stairs broke and the men were lost to panic. Cash grabbed Sasha and pulled her behind a grouping of Gangrel. Cameron maneuvered his forces and the Torredor closed in from around the club. Julian's people drew up and the men in black were out numbered two to one. "I am ashamed of you Bowen." A female voice snapped through the club like a whip. Followed by the owner who was in a flowing black coat and solid looking boots. Silvery hair was plaited down her back and accented her moonlight eyes. " How dare you bring an assault out like this." The man was on his feet but not looking so sure of himself. " You're late Talisman." "I am never late." She answered, coming to a stop a few feet from him. Her eerie eyes never wavering from his face. The effect was profound for the man looked away and couldn't meet her gaze. "What of her?" He muttered and glanced at Sasha. "I will decide her fate," Talisman's tone was cold and harsh, " You are dismissed Bowen." He jerked his head up and stared at her for moment. " I am command leader here!" "You are nothing to me." She said moving forward slightly. He backed up and kept her from touching him. " Now leave!" Tension rose between them for a full five minutes before Bowen stepped wide of her and left. Those of his men that could do so followed quickly, the rest lay on the floor of the Haven. Talisman made no move save from turning to look at the assembled Kindred. Her gaze settled firmly Sasha. "Tallis?" A slight smile came to the assassins face as she heard the disbelief. " Still causing trouble are you?" Heaving a sigh the Brujah grinned and laughed slightly. " You know me." "I do." Talisman glanced around at the people, " We will talk later I think." Sasha reached to stop her, Talisman stepped back from her. " I would like you to meet my uncle." Her hand hovered inches from the girl, gently she took her sleeve and pulled the girl up to Julian. " Uncle Julian this is Tallis Metternich, she and I grew up together." The Prince nodded his head, " I am grateful you could disperse the trouble." Talisman stared at him before speaking and gave a graceful shrug. " He forgets his bounds on occasion." "Indeed." Cameron glided up beside the Prince and eyed her. " You are not Kindred." A dark smile came over Talisman's pale face. " That has yet to be seen." "I would know if you were." Lilly answered. " You are human." Sasha caught the flicker in her friends eyes. " Tallis, what, ah, how about a tour of the city?" "That would be great." Talisman followed the young vampire up the stairs and into the night. ** Rain was falling in a light mist as the two walked silently away from the Haven. Sasha kept glancing over and wondering just what had happened. It was clear that Tallis Metternich was not the same German school girl she had known. The silence was tangible and Sasha felt jumpy. "So they call you Talisman now do they?" "Only a few." Came the cool reply. " How long have you been here?" Sasha glanced up at the skyline, " Long enough." Talisman smiled a little, " Candid reply coming from you." "People change." Sasha hunched her shoulders under her leather coat, feeling the material stretch. "That they do." Talisman paused and cocked her head to one side. Her silvery-white eyes shifted through the shadows and street lights. " Something is wrong." Sasha hesitated before looking over both shoulders. "It's just my clan." "Not them, something....else." Talisman slowly turned her head and stared up at one of the closed office buildings. Moving almost faster then the eye could follow she raised a hand and fired. The flare of her gun was bright white to her eyes and for a moment she was blind. The moment passed and she could see perfectly. Her eyes picked up the finest detail. No shadow remained in darkness to her. She watched as the snipers body hit the ground with a thick wet smack. His blood and bodily fluids spilled across the damp cement. She crossed purposely to him and rolled the body over with a toe of her boot. His face was white with his blood being nothing but a dark river. His clothing was dark and glittered where she had shot him. Crouching down she took out his wallet and flipped open the leather case. His picture and name were both foreign to her. She knew nothing of him or why he would shoot her. Unless...She glanced over at the pale vampire and back at the wallet. Ideas clicked through her mind as she considered all the reasons. "Do you have a police station nearby?" Talisman asked lightly as she stood up. "Yeah, " Sasha reached for her phone. " Why? He's dead." "It's not for him," Talisman glanced up the top of the building. " I'd like to report a theft." ** Frank Kohanek had thought nothing could surprise him anymore. But when he arrived on the scene of an apparent robbery gone bad, he was surprised. At first he had thought the woman was older because of the gray hair. But as she turned her head to look at him he stopped dead. Her face was young, no more then twenty or so. With eyes like moonlight and silver hair, not gray, with smooth skin and sharp features. She was pretty in an exotic, strange way. As though she had stepped from an alien world. His partner had arrived on his own presumably from home. Sonny paused when he saw her as well. A shrug rolled off him as he approached. That's when Frank saw Luna's niece and felt himself cringe inside. More vampires. 'Just what this city needs." He muttered and joined Sonny as they walked up to them. Sasha glanced up at the Ventrue detective then away, looking cold and miserable. She hunched up next to the odd girl and stared hard at the ground. Frank knew guilt when he saw it. Looking from one to the other he was sure Sasha knew something. "Girls, can you tell us what happened?" Sonny asked as he produced a pen and pad from his coat pocket. "We were leaving that club down there." The odd girl waved in the Haven's general direction. Her words were heavily accented with something European. " And out of no where this guy jumps us." She waved to the man on the ground. There was nothing in her expression as she talked. " He damn near robbed us." Frank looked down at the body. "Looks like someone shot him before he had a chance." "Thank god for that." The odd girl said, " I always heard that American cities were dangerous." Sonny glanced up at her. " Where are you from Ms....?" "Metternich, Tallis Metternich." She said and produced her German drivers license and student visa. While Sonny wrote down the numbers, Frank watched her. Impassive, empty. Cold. " What are you studying?" "Forensic Science," Talisman turned her steady gaze to Frank. He shivered under those silver-white eyes, "Is that your natural color?" "Yes." "Odd." He said and she smiled a little. "I am that." Her tone was softer as she spoke, almost sad. Her eyes moved to the man on the ground and Frank saw the icy wall that slid around her. "If there is nothing else, I would like to return to my hotel." Sonny glanced at his partner. " Sure thing one of the officers can drive you." "Where do you study Ms. Metternich?" Frank asked as she moved to stand. "Miami State." He met those eyes and didn't flinch, " A little far from home aren't you?" She blinked and smiled, " Yes, Germany is very far from here." Turning she allowed one of the officers to guide her to his car and they left. Chapter 5: ** Talisman tapped her pen against the white sheet of paper on her desk. Her eyes fixed outside the window at the falling rain. Black shadows hugged around her like a skin as she drummed out a steady beat. In her other hand she held the man's identification. In her mind however she was working. Images cut and wove a tattered jungle of black and white through her mind. She sat in peace as the horrific scenes fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle. Slowly the man's last few hours of life took shape behind her eyes. On the paper her hand drew in a frenzied pace to copy out the scenes that whirled around and around. Outside the rain fell and tapped lightly against the glass of her hotel window. ** It was after two in the morning and Frank still couldn't get to sleep. Sitting up he threw back his covers and put his feet on the cold floor. Glaring at the red numbers of his clock he scratched his head and yawned. Standing he shuffled to the washroom and snapped on the light. He grumbled at the harsh flare and quickly splashed his face with water. Taking a moment he stared at the reflection and was dismayed to find how he had aged. It had only been two years since Alexandria died and he met Luna. But you couldn't tell my looking at him. One would have thought it was a decade or even a century by the lines around his eyes and mouth. Had life really become that hard? He turned away from the mirror and left the question hanging in the air as he staggered back to bed. "Detective?" Frank froze before he even registered the voice. He reached for the bathroom light and felt only mildly better with it on. With no weapon in hand he searched his room and found the outline against shadow. " Come out into the light." He said as he quickly searched for his gun, it was resting against his bedside table. The bathroom lamps illuminated a large square of his bathroom. The figure stopped just short of the square and raised a large gun to his chest. "I suggest you not go for the gun." The voice laughed slightly. " Now, tell me what she told you." "Who?" Frank asked as he tried to think of a plan. "I know she spoke to you Detective Kohanek, tell me what she said." There was a note of urgency to his words this time. "Maybe if I knew who 'she' was I could." Frank saw the reflection in his mirror as the man frowned at him. "Talisman." The gunman snapped. Frank shook his head. " Sorry don't know anyone by that name." The man stepped forward a little as a sharp click came from the gun. " I grow tired of you." The shot was loud and Frank struggled to understand why he was suddenly on his back. He lay blinked up at his bathroom ceiling and feeling a burning pain in his chest. Lifting a hand to face he saw the gleam of red and knew he was shot. His ears were ringing as he stared at his blood and couldn't understand any of it. Absently he heard someone scream and thought it was him until he saw her. Hair that was spun moonlight fell around him as he lay there dying. Cold hands touched the burning pain and he felt it ease a little. Her face was creased with concentration as she knelt by his side. Dark lashes made perfect half moons against her white skin. The dark of her clothing made her seem so very young and yet alluring. He reached a hand for her and was surprised by the coolness of her skin under his bloody hand. She opened her eyes and he smiled softly. "My angel of death." He whispered and felt himself growing light. "No such luck Detective." She said gently. Frank felt the sudden rush of heat under his hand and her eyes became drowning pools of silver incandescent light. Even her hair shimmered with a silver brilliance that only convinced Frank of her ethereal existence. His eyes fluttered shut and he followed the glowing white of warm light. Chapter 6: ** Julian Luna had enough to deal with as it was, he didn't need what Cash was telling him. Leaning back in his leather chair he closed his eyes and sighed inwardly. The sounds of a fire crackling in the hearth did little to ease his tensions. Opening his eyes he cast a look up at he portrait of his late departed Sire. Archon would know how to deal with this. "Julian?" Cash leaned forward in his chair. " My Prince?" Julian blinked and shook his head focusing on the matter at hand. "Sorry Cash, go on." "It turns out that Bowen and his posse are part of a 'unofficial' government. They were established back in the 1980's to deal with the influx of vampires. There was no way to find out who paid their bills just that they are very well funded." "It's probably the Sabbat." Julian muttered as he stared at his piled paperwork. Cash glanced down at his notes. "I thought that too, but it doesn't fit. They don't hire humans to do their own dirty work. No, it has to be someone else." Cash looked up and smiled. " This is where it gets interesting. Remember the odd looking girl who interrupted Bowen?" "Yes, what of her?" The Gangrel leader handed his Prince an eight and half by a eleven black and white photo. Underneath it was a color copy and three pages of typed information. "Her name is Tallis Maria Metternich. She came to America in the late 1990's and set up a life with her step brother Jamieson. Turns out that their parents were part of some German underground. When they were killed their children came here to escape. So far I haven't been able to find anything on Jamieson." Julian regarded the two photos side by side. He had to admit she was beautiful in an exotic way. It was the color photo that held him captive as he studied her face. In the harsh lights of the camera her eyes appeared to be white. He glanced at the black and white photo, here they appeared to be silver. Then there was the hair. One was shock white and the other was a muted gray. Flipping over the first sheet of information he scanned the page and stopped at one section. MEDICAL: -Subject's retinal scan has found that both eyes are 90% lacking in cones and hyper sensitive to light. Testing has shown that subject has highly- acute night vision but minimal daytime vision. -After a series of test subject has shown abnormal proficiency in tertiary skills. Supervision is highly recommended. "What does this medical report mean?" Julian glanced at his bodyguard. "Apparently the girl was born with absolutely no color vision. But her nigh vision is unparalleled. She has better sight then we do." Cash smiled slightly and laughed. " Seems funny that a human would be so gifted." The Prince sat back and read over the report again. " What of this 'tertiary skills' section?" "I don't know what they mean on that one. But all of had it mentioned." "All of whom?" Cash handed over the rest of his papers. " Bowen and his twenty odd members all had 'tertiary skills' listed in the Medical section. I have someone working on it now." "What brings them to my city Cash?" Julian asked as he put the information down. His hands folded themselves over his stomach and he sighed. " Does it have anything to do with those killings?" "I-" Cash was cut off as the door to the Prince's office flew open. It was one of Julian's servants. "Sire you are needed." Julian moved quickly from the room and down the stairs to the gathering of people. Daedlus was kneeling beside Frank as the man lay dying on the floor. The Prince of the City rushed up beside his human ward and glanced over at the Nostferatu. "He is weak but there is a chance." Deadlus said grimly as he pulled away the bloodstained shirt. Revealing an angry red wound that was closed but in danger of opening under pressure. " I can't understand how he healed." Julian gazed at the dark red flesh and shook his head. " Do what you can." Rising he watched Daedlus and two his clan members carried the cop to the basement. "Who brought him here?" "She did." One of the men motioned to the hunched form of a girl. She sat with her back against the wall and one of the Toreador were looking after her. " Shortly after bringing him she fell to the floor. There was no sign of injury or illness of any kind." Julian walked over and found it was girl from the photos and the club. " Ms. Metternich?" Her head lifted, there was blood on it making her look more ghostly then human. The interior lights of the house made her eyes white as she stared up at him. With one shaking hand she took out a pair of sunglasses and slid them on. Some of the blood flaked off as she stood up slowly. The Toreador left them with a quick glance over her shoulder. "Sire," her words were light and tired. "Would you care to speak in private?" Julian motioned to his office on the main floor. She shrugged and he lead them to the soundproof room. Cash closed the door and leaned against it while she sank into one of the arm chairs. There was only a fire in her so she removed her glasses with slow movements. Exhaustion rolled off her in tangible waves. "I understand you brought Detective Kohanek here." She looked at him as he moved to sit behind the desk. " I thought it was better then a hospital." "Did you see what happened?" A ghost of a smile touched her lips, "In a matter of speaking. I arrived on the scene after he had been...shot." "So it was you that healed him?" The Prince asked. In the back of his mind thoughts clicked into place. Tertiary skills. "I only did what I could." It was a deliberately vague answer that caused Julian to give her a hard look. " Don't play with me young lady. He is under my protection and as such this attack on him is an attack on me. I will not sit by and waste my time with you when he might die." "Then don't." Talisman said weakly. " I have done nothing but bring him here. If you have any quarrel with me it doesn't involve the detective." Julian paused a moment. " What are you hinting at?" She sighed heavily and closed her eyes for a moment. "I know that you are trying to understand why I am in town. You are perhaps even trying to tie me to the rash of killings? But I assure you Mr. Luna I am not the cause of your trouble." "No?" Julian leaned close. " Since you have appeared in my city, my niece was nearly shot, a man under my protection was shot and things are getting worse." "That has nothing to do with me." Talisman said darkly, her tone firm and leaving no room for argument. "Yes I admit to your niece's near harm and the present condition of Detective Kohanek. But that is all I admit to. I am here to try and keep Bowen and group from killing the wrong people. Any damage or death that follow from that is not my concern." Julian sat back and regarded her intently before speaking. "What people?" She sat in silence for a long time. " Your niece." "Someone has put a hit on Sasha?" Cash spoke up from the door, his voice carrying his concern. " Why?" Talisman shrugged again. " I don't know." "You are lying I think." Julian stood up and crossed to stand in front of her. She turned her face up and watched him with empty eyes. He stared into them as he lowered his voice. " You know why she is targeted." Talisman blinked once then twice. " Yes." "Tell me." The Prince whispered, " Tell me everything." "Three weeks ago a message was sent that all of those in support of you were to be removed. A team was sent here to kill the leaders of the clans and anyone else deemed important. Five days ago a message was sent that the mission had failed and the team had only been able to cause concern in the city." Cash stood upright, " The killings?" Julian glanced at him as Talisman blinked again. " What are they doing now?" "They are waiting for me to report back to them about the status." "What are you going to tell them?" Talisman shuddered suddenly and her eyes flared bright white. She moved sharply causing the chair to clatter backwards and crash to the floor. Julian motioned for Cash to remain where he was, as Talisman walked to the fire. She knelt down and reached for the flames. Her fingers stopped just short of the heat and hovered. Seconds later her back arched and she fell to ground. Laying unconscious on the Persian carpet. Her hair fanned out around her head as she lay motionless on the floor. On either side of her body her hands lay limp at her side, there was an object in her palm. Cash approached with caution as he looked at the fire and then the girl. Putting his gun away he knelt down and removed the black stone from her. He held it up for his Prince to examine. The fire gleamed off the smooth surface reflecting back a perfect image of the flames. "I think she is dead." Cash whispered as he searched for a pulse on her neck. " Sire, I think that she really is dead." He stared up at the other man, "What now?" Julian gazed at the stone." Let's find this Jamieson person and go from there." Turning back to his desk the vampire sat down and dialed a long distance number. " It's Julian in San Francisco I am ordering a search for Jamieson Metternich." Putting down the phone he stared at he black stone and wondered what it could mean. There was only one way to find out. " Cash, bring her to the basement."