It Is Always Three O'Clock in the Morning

Episode 2: Terror Couple Kill Colonel

A man sits on the stoop of a rowhouse where plywood sheets cover the holes where windows should go. It is early evening. A pale figure and another person obviously deferent to the pale individual are walking down the street toward the man. The pale woman greets the sitting man, “What the fuck, man?” They argue. The man sells drugs for the woman, but he can’t pay for the product because his supply has been ripped off, and he doesn’t know by who or even really how. Shouting follows, as the man tries to convince the woman he’ll get the money back (somehow) and that he’s still truthworthy. The woman has had enough of this, and orders her companion to beat the shit out of the man. As the woman and her companion leave, the now bloody and broken man crawls painfully back into the rowhouse, hoping to sleep off his possibly broken nose on the bare floor. It is only too late that he realizes something else is in the rowhouse with him, and as the door closes on the dark room he mumbles, “Who the hell are you?” These are the last words the man ever says.

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A couple of weeks after Angel and Anthony’s botched introduction to the society of pretentious monsters calling themselves Camarilla, they sit in a downtown diner with new acquaintance Penny Scholtz. Penny is a fellow “Kindred,” but unlike the others she was recently turned, just like Angel and Anthony, and frankly she seems less batshit than the others they’ve met. As a result, they’ve struck up a kind of friendship, and now they sit chatting in a diner while moving forks around plates of food they don’t intend to eat. Penny’s dish positively reeks of garlic, and she is making more of a show of pretending to eat it while looking over at other diner patrons. They are making conversation quietly about the other underground group, the “Sabbat,” or more specifically about how little they know about them other than their supposed brutality, when the bell above the door rings and Marcel walks in.

Marcel calls over to Angel, telling him he’s been looking for him all over. He also says hello to Anthony, and then smarts off Penny, questioning her on whether “Edith knows her poodle is playing outside the yard?” “Fuck you, Marcel,” she replies. Marcel explains that Viktor has a job for Angel and “the strays you hang out with.” Apparently, a couple of anarch firebrands have been intruding on Viktor’s territory in the slummier parts of town, and Viktor needs that taken care of. “Specifically,” Marcel says, “Viktor wants the problem solved, so this is a good thing. He sees you as a problem solver. Good news.” Angel confirms he’ll receive his usual payment, and then agrees. Marcel turns to Anthony and Penny, “How about it? You guys in too?” Anthony demands information on Arianne, who he suspects is his sire, and when Marcel agrees he is in. Penny on the other hand feels she could use a friend in Viktor – anyone but Edith, really – and goes along with it too. “Fantastic,” Marcel grins. “Here’s the address – their names are Jo and Tiff and they play in some shitty Marxist punk band at this place on the southeast side, The Slopbucket.” He laughs. “Good luck.”

The trio do a bit of background digging, looking up The Slopbucket’s ugly Myspace page and seeing that Jo and Tiff would be performing tomorrow night. They decide to go down and check out the place tonight, though, hoping to scope the place out or even just find them hanging out. An hour later, they find themselves standing in a scummy bar, with blaring punk noise coming from stereos on the walls. Penny excuses herself and walks out the door, while Angel and Anthony move to the bar to try and get some questions answered. Anthony calls over to the bartender and asks if he knows Jo and Tiff, that he and his friend are buddies of theirs and want to find them. The bartender responses incredulously and asks aloud if Anthony is a narc. He’s in fact generally unhelpful.

While this is going on, a bleary-eyed woman, swaying with obvious intoxication, approaches Angel. “Did you say you’re looking for Jo and Tiff?” she yells over the music. When Angel nods, the woman leans in close and shouts, “Are you guys, like, with them?” Angel looks at her with a confused look and responds, “With them? What does that mean?” The woman tries to fix him with a conspiratorial look and goes, “With them! You know, like, I don’t know, are you guys like them? Do you, uh, you know?” Angel looks her over for a second, before leaning in himself and saying with an edge of menace, “Why, do you want it?” At this, the woman stammers and tries to evade, saying she didn’t mean anything by it, as she begins backing away, quickly moving away from the bar.

Outside, Penny is on her cell phone down a secluded grimy alley. She’s speaking to Tyrone, one of the two Kindred in charge of the anarchs in Cathedral City. He can’t help with Jo and Tiff, he says, but he gives her the number of the other influential anarch, a man named Roman, and tells her to call him. She dials the number, and it rings an interminable number of times before a sleazy, slimy voice comes on the line, “Hello?” stretching the word into about four syllables. Penny explains that there is a situation with Jo and Tiff, and that she’d like to find a way to fix it. Roman, too friendly, is amenable and explains that if Penny is willing to do him a little favor, he’ll take care of it right away. Penny asks what the favor is, and learns that Roman wants her to rob the blood bank at Cathedral City Central Hospital, on the edge of The Park. “Not their whole supply, just 10 or 12 cases, they should easily have three times that on hand. Is it a deal?” Penny agrees tenuously, and hurries off the phone to deliver the news to the other two.

The three discuss the situation, and agree that robbing the blood is the best option, in that it might allow them to play both sides by making everyone happy and still getting Jo and Tiff off Viktor’s territory peacefully. They scope out CCCH and decide the front entrances are too closely watched, and they settle on a plan for stealing EMT uniforms and going in a back entrance for delivery of non-patient objects by ambulance or freight truck. Hanging out outside the front ER entrance, they notice an ambulance has been left alone by the EMTs who have gone inside. Anthony casually walks over and leans into the back of the ambulance, hoping to look around and at best nab some spare uniforms. He’s stopped, though, when an EMT comes back and catches him. Anthony plays up the stupid frat guy routine, saying, “Hey, man, I just wanted to see what the inside of an ambulance looks like! Wait a second… have you ever seen a dead body?”

Anthony draws the angry, yelling EMT away from the ambulance with this act, and Angel tries to dig around the back of the ambulance himself. But he’s noticed by the EMT, who is starting to freak out at this weird ass collection of college students climbing in his ambulance. The EMT charges over, and surprisingly is able to fling Angel out of the truck bodily. After this, the group backs off, seeing that the strangely capable EMT is not going to let them get their way right now.

Still skulking around the CCCH grounds, the three find a vehicle maintenance building across a rear parking lot, with a couple of ambulances parked outside under a bright streetlamp. The immediate area is deserted, but there are enough people around that the trio is cautious about just attempting to break into this ambulance. Anthony tells the other two to wait, and he reaches within himself, summoning the blood – not his blood – that he is constantly aware pumping in his veins. The shadows of the scene and warp and contort, and fold in on the lamp, making the entire area full of layered darkness. Able to approach the ambulance under cover of this localized dark, Angel climbs in the back and locates uniforms while Penny is able to hot-wire the vehicle. They quickly drive the truck out of the parking lot and away from the hospital, having achieved their aim.

The next night (Anthony having convincing a drug-addicted friend of his to watch the ambulance during the day), the group dons the EMT uniforms and boards the ambulance again, intending to approach the freight entrance and present themselves as a blood supply transfer to a less well-stocked smaller city hospital. But when they are actually at the underground entrance, and Anthony is face to face with a middle-aged security guard, he finds himself stumped by their demands to see his identification. For a few very long moments, the scene is tensed on the edge of things going wrong, but Anthony reacts once again with his predatory powers, and his able to amplify his personal magnetism to make the guards believe his story of lost ID. Having passed the first obstacle Anthony, Angel, and Penny proceed to locate the blood supply rooms on the basement level of the hospital.

The blood bank is a set of two rooms, an entry office with a bookish-seeming secretary sitting at a front desk with a computer and shelves of records, with the storage space through a door behind her. After buzzing in the three, the secretary asks how she can help them. After they explain their story, the blonde woman looks puzzled, she wasn’t expecting any supply transfer tonight? The characters attempt to bluff her, but she is not having any of it, and her hand moves to the phone to try and check all this.

Reacting instinctively to the fear of this situation going to hell, Angel suddenly lunges forward across the desk, grabbing her hand before she can reach the phone. They struggle for a moment, and before she can scream out further, Angel attempts to drag her across the desk to subdue her. He is successful in hauling her over, but in her panic she is astonishingly strong and manages to scrabble to the floor and escape his clutches. Anthony instead pounces on her, grabbing her and holding her to floor with his hand over her mouth. Feeling the pounding blood in the struggling woman, and not knowing how to stop her from fighting back, Anthony’s reflexes kick in as he lowers his exposed fangs over her neck, draining her blood. As they have learned is the natural response of normal people to their feeding, she quickly calms and is subdued. Watching this, Penny shouts at Anthony: “What the fuck? What in the hell are you doing? Have you heard of this little thing we have, called the masquerade?” Anthony responds hotly, “Jesus, no it will be fine! I’ll lick her, and the bite will go away,” though little can help the small blood stains already dotting the woman’s clothing.

As Penny and Anthony argue, Angel just wants to get the hell out of here. He goes through the door into the actual blood storage room, looking at the cases of blood bags sitting on the shelves. He counts them, and then counts them again. Shit. He walks outside, “Guys, we have a problem.” The others look up. “There are only 14 cases in there. If we take what Roman wants, this hospital will have no blood to use.” Penny and Anthony’s faces fall. “Did someone rob this place before us?” Anthony asks. “Have we been set up?” Penny walks over to the computer, “Well, let’s see.” After a few moments of searching through records, Penny can see that no, the hospital has just been hit by a recent series of events in the city that have put their supply perilously low. If they take that blood, people will die, and not just a few. She stares at the screen with a fixed expression while Angel and Anthony wait. She makes a decision. “No, their supplies are low, but they’ll be getting a new delivery in the morning,” she lies to the others. “They’ll be just fine if we take this.” Angel and Anthony, wanting to believe this is the truth, accept it. The three escape into the hours of the early morning with the blood they came to take.

With just a few hours until dawn, the trio decides not to risk the truck (and the blood) sitting out another day. Penny makes the call to Roman, to tell him they have his blood. He is extremely pleased, although Penny is not, because Roman says two very disconcerting things. One, “Ohh, yes, Annette and Nathan will be pissed.” She reflexively grimaces at this, not especially wanting to be on the Prince and Sheriff’s shit lists. Two, “Yeah, your problem? No worries. Jo and Tiff are stakebait tomorrow.” Penny relays these two comments to the Anthony and Angel, and everyone shares a profound silence for a few moments. Angel leans back in his seat in the front of the ambulance, and just laughs. “Fuck me,” he says. All this to keep the Camarilla and the anarchs both happy, and to get Jo and Tiff out there peacefully, and this is the result. After a few moments, Anthony brightens up, “Wait, no, I’ve got a plan. Let’s keep the blood in reserve, and bargain with Roman. Tell him we want Jo and Tiff to live. We could even take them into our place, this abandoned house Angel and I have been living in. That way they’re out of Roman’s and Viktor’s shit. That’s at least a little better right?” Penny replies, “Honestly, I don’t want to touch any of this with a 10 foot pole, but fine, whatever, let’s try it.”

In the early hours of the morning, Penny, Anthony, and Angel are waiting outside of the local art installation/club space Missing Sun, in a parking lot where they can see junkies shooting up and drunk party-goers stumbling away. They were meant to make their rendezvous with Roman and his crew in the club, but Penny refused to enter, saying she was just “not up” to withstanding the huge lifelike sun illusion in the club. So here they sit, with their ambulance full of literal blood money, as a group of 3 approaches them from the club entrance. Flanked on either side, obviously in charge, is a short, thin man with sunken features who oozes grease, Roman. Angel glances at Roman, and the recognition is immediate. Roman is the monster who bit Angel, the man who turned Angel into what he is now, and the man who Angel promised to make pay for what he did.

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