Profit Over Everything


 In a lot of ways she did stupid shit on a near daily basis. A lot of things that equated to a lot of different ways of self-sabotage. The need to be right, the need to do the burning instead of being burned. But one thing she did not do, was play with fate when it made a clear cut threat to her life. Night Vision had been a dumb one, even by her standards - and while the distance of a new home and weeks gone by made her a little less frazzled from it, she still wanted to wash her hands of Cordova as quickly as possible.

 Work took more time, securing a new temporary location - a hub to house goods for the days to weeks needed to match a buyer with the right product. And then moving it all was a hassle, a task best done under the relative cover of night. But night meant Vampires, so ... Night Vision had been a colossal blunder on her end.

 But there was a light at the end of the tunnel, a final inconspicuous van sent off into the night to their temporary home in Larkspur and - done. For now though she wondered back into the warehouse and did a final walk through, made sure nothing incriminating had been left behind (because really, wasn't that just her luck). Tried not to think about the fact that it was now an hour and a half past sundown and she was still stuck in Cordova tying up lose ends.

 Leaving the doors open she wondered to her once office, opened up drawers and cabinets and made sure everything was gutted down to as much as a bent paperclip. The less Cordova had of her after all this, the better.



 Margaux had made it very clear that their furry supernatural friends were not welcome in downtown Cordova. Greta had made it clear in turn that she understood, and that she would do as she was told - but at the end of the day, Weres did not bother her. Perhaps it helped that she hadn't been around for the local crash of species, the particularly bloody butting of heads between Margaux and her less-than-friendly neighbors. In any case, Greta's idea of "taking care of it" differed from her Domina's idea of it. Still, she smelled it, something akin to dog, just over the hot blood of the meal in her clutches. Perhaps it was lucky for her furry friend that she had found a meal before their encounter.

 "How tired you must be. Go home and get to sleep," she whispered to the young man she had just drank from, stepping back as he bobbed his head in a compliant nod and turned away. She watched him go, wiping gingerly at her mouth with a handkerchief to get rid of any remaining blood. When he was further down the road, Greta began to follow the scent trail, her gait rhythmic and purposeful, confident as she stepped along the back alleyways.

 Ah, here she was. Greta could hear the telltale heartbeat, could smell the strong canine scent with much more clarity as she came into the warehouse strip. Her gait slowed, more calm though no less confident, so that her heels didn't click as loudly as she walked into the open office. Her eyes settled on the young blonde, a tiny smile touching her lips. "Hello, darling," she purred, just loud enough to be heard.

 Like it had a tendency to do, the smell hit well before she turned round to matched the gentle greeting with a face. And it was like - someone's Nonna ... someone's sweet-faced, soft spoken, kindly grandmother. Only she was a Vampire, and this was Cordova, and this was offense number two and she wasn't exactly sure how well these folks tended to network with one another. Was there a watch list, was her face on it? Her name?

 Comforted and nervous at once about the solitude of this encounter versus the run-in with Wilhelm, she felt her body tense and her eyes glow as she stood her ground. "Can I help you?" Blunt but not venomous - she looked about the gutted space and wondered what the odds were of her shifting into anything close to a threat before present company could get all terrifying and disjointed. Slim, that's what they were.

 The woman's subtle reaction reinforced Greta's notion that inter-species relations had not been that great around here. There was a palpable tension to her, though her voice was even as she spoke. The vampire's expression remained soft, hands clasping in front of her as she glanced around the great, empty room, following the canine's gaze here and there.

 "Mm, I don't think so," she said gently. "I'm just being nosy. But I must say... I don't think it's safe for you to be here, especially in the evening." Her eyebrows rose just enough to be noticeable, putting a few wrinkles in her forehead as she fixed the woman with a gaze of a warning mother. If the blonde was oblivious, it could just be another way of saying that women should be careful when alone in the night - or, she would have had the experience to know exactly what Greta meant.

 She shuffled to her right, laid her hand on the scraped up metal of the desk she eagerly was leaving behind. Hopefully along with Greta and Wilhelm, along with Deputy Big-Dick, the nightmare vampire Wilhelm had alluded to, as well as her now defunct credit card - hopefully with her life.

 "Look ... I already got this speach from Wilhelm - you know him?" She didn't wait for a response one way or the other, cleared her throat and motioned for the other woman to look around. "I know we're supposed to fight to the death and all that - but in case you missed the Facebook post, I'm moving out. I lost track of time. " She nearly apologized for the inconvienence, but her pride had it's limitations. She waited, braced for the worst but hoped for the best - thought about her phone burning a hole in her back pocket but made no move for it.

 Wilhelm? The older woman arched a brow, betraying her unfamiliarity with the name. She did like to think she knew everyone in the clutch, at least by name - but that one was unfamiliar. Of course, it would be hardly surprising to find that someone had used an alias to protect himself from the dangers of their hairy neighbors. Before she could say yes or no, the younger lady was continuing, and Greta didn't stifle the quiet laugh of amusement that escaped her.

 She lifted a hand and waved it dismissively, smiling enough to show teeth. "I have no interest in fighting you, my dear. My leader would prefer I end your life as of moments ago, but... I have seen too many wars to condone pointless violence." She lowered her hand again, fingers interlacing in front of her again. That didn't mean she wouldn't kill the canine lady if she had to - but she would leave that bit out. Keeping up appearances and all that, "You would, however, be most wise to make this your last trip to Cordova."

 "Yeah well you're not the first Vampire to tell me that. So pardon me but your leader sounds like a -" How had she survived this many years? What sort of stars had to align to allow her to stand there and tempt fate for what had to be the billionth time? Whatever it was, she caught herself and grunted - bowed her head a bit and knocked on the desk. The sound was less hard, more a rumble as the metal quaked, enough so that she looked back up and huffed.

 "This was the last day of the lease - scouts honor. " She'd never even been a girl scout, Nonna didn't need to know that. "Is there a watch list? Is this all Were's or? " Why did she get the distinct feeling both times they were kind but far from opposed to tearing her to shreds if she pushed her luck too far?

 There was the slightest flex in Greta's expression, a hint of curiosity as the girl cut herself off, not finishing the would-be insult towards her Domina. While Greta wouldn't have taken such a thing personally, she figured it was a smart move for her to not complete the sentence, even if she was a little late in catching herself. She wouldn't be wrong to say that Margaux was a little... harsh. Especially in the face of these shifter types. The vampire let it go, chuckling quietly.

 A soft hum of acknowledgment and a slight dip of her head at the mention of this being the end of her lease. The questions that followed were good ones, in spite of the amusement that Greta got out of them. "No watch list that I know of," she confessed, her brain sticking to the use of the word "Weres." "I believe it is all of them. She doesn't want anyone like you on our turf. If this is not your first offense, I'm afraid she would consider my response here far too lenient." Her expression hardened ever so slightly. "Again, I do not wish to harm you. But for the sake of politics and staying in the good graces of my kind... I'm not asking. I'm telling you to leave. Now."

 Nonna laughed and she supposed that was a good sign for the whole not pissing off the Vampire's argument. And in return she was rewarded with a couple scraps of information - no watch list. Awesome, so then they wouldn't have any further knowledge of her beside a couple of isolated incidences that couldn't be connected to one another. "I've never met her - I don't want to." A quick correction as she tugged on her shirt - her, slowly little bits of information were compiling to make something remotely tangible.

 But she had no intention of toppling some sort of Vampire empire so - that could be tucked away in a file for a rainy day. "Look, I won't tell her if you don't ... can I go?" She took a careful step forward - less than interested in brushing too close past the older woman. "You can even keep the desk."

 Greta smiled softly, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "No. You don't," she confirmed quietly, without any malice or threat to her voice. It was simply a fact - this girl did not want to mean Margaux, especially not in Cordova. It would likely be the last mistake she ever made.

 "Oh, honey. She already knows you're here," Greta warned gently. "She doesn't know it's you, per se - she doesn't know what you look or smell like, but she can feel your presence on her territory." She took a few steps aside, movements slow and graceful and she held her hand up towards the door through which she had come. "Go."

Beauregard thought he'd caught a familiar scent.

It was luck, truly. Perhaps a roll of the dice within the world of Alexandra's karma. But the moment he caught it, his mood surged to near delight, a predatory brand of interest driving him closer.

Some time was spent finding a good parking spot, out of the way in the event of some sort of scene, but close enough... well, in the event of some sort of scene.

What surprised him most, as he approached, was the sound of a familiar voice that was not the animal woman's.

Beauregard made no attempt to hide his nearness, and in fact hummed cheerfully as he neared the open doorway.

He tucked his hand into his pocket to pluck free his wallet and a certain credit card within.

 It was a fight she neither wanted nor needed, but the forthcoming information was equal parts surprising and discomforting. The idea that there was some sort of supernatural force, a boogeyman lurking just outside of view that could sniff her out like some sort of scent hound straight from hell. Message received loud and clear, stay the fuck out - it's not worth the risk.

 Then again maybe it was the yeti of Cordova, a collective story told to scare Were's straight and back into the sticks of Mountainside. Suspicious, but she wasn't going to be the one to call that bluff - not today at least, not without a hell of a lot of back-up. "You have a good night." It was then she realized that there had been no name exchange - that was okay. She kept her head down, gave the Vampire a wide birth as she moved from the office and made a straight line for the bay doors, towards her car waiting not far from th- fuck.

 The humming had her looking up from her sneakers, eyes amber and body tense as coyote went from a solid six to a skyrocketing eight. One behind her, one in front - no side exits. "I'm leaving. I was closing up shop today." She motioned vaguely at the barren surroundings by way of evidence, avoided eye contact after the last time.

Seriously, Cordova - no thank you.

 Greta would have been content to let the girl run along, never to be seen around this neck of the woods again. She turned her body slowly, so that she could watch the canine leave; she might not have noticed the humming, if it hadn't come from the familiar figure lingering in the doorway. Curious, she tilted her head at him, watching him pull his wallet out and fish something from among its folds. The Were girl spoke to him as if she had had this discussion with him already. Wordlessly, motionlessly, Greta stayed where she was, hands clasped before her as she waited for Beau - or was it Wilhelm? - to make his next move.

How disappointing that she avoided his eyes this time. Beauregard was in the mood for a slight show if he could have provoked it. She seemed tense, but now was an unfortunate time for her to realize her own foolishness. Greta fell quiet, and it only encouraged him. He offered her a nod of hello but knew better than to speak her name.

There was a more interesting name to say, regardless.

"Alexandra Davidson," he greeted cheerfully, ignoring her words. "I wanted to offer this back to you. I did cover your tab at Night Vision for you."

Standing near the doorway, but not blocking it directly, he held the card out with a near full arm's length. Perhaps she would flee back toward Greta. He could not decide which option he liked more.

Jo felt more than a little creepy, cruising aimlessly in the general area of Alex's warehouse, but it was the only compromise she could come up with—unwilling to demand Alex stay out of Cordova and sympathetic to her need to close up shop, while also uncomfortably anxious over the idea of the woman (underground crime lord or not) lurking in vampire territory alone but realizing two coyotes in the same location would just make them even more obvious. So she settled on driving around nearby with a nose on high alert for any undead, crossing her fingers that nothing would come up and force her to explain why she was more or less stalking her not-quite-bandmate.

But of course the night took a turn for the worse. She smelled a vampire—maybe, just the idea of a scent as she paused at a stop sign, but that alone was enough for her to head directly to the warehouse and park a block down. And unfortunately, her nose had been right. Jo exited her truck quickly but took an extra half second to quietly ease the door shut. And then immediately eschewed stealth by jogging directly toward the warehouse.

Wait, were there two of them? Fuck.

She approached without ceremony, stepped through the doorway that some man stood a little too close to, very deliberately gave either vampire only a passing glance before focusing on Alex. "Ready to head out?" she asked, casual and unhurried even as her beast pressed forward. Like she had totally anticipated this and was supposed to be here.

 She cringed at the sound of her own name, as if he had said something particularly obscene or unwarranted. She had more or less known he knew it by then - but it still wasn't good to hear. None of this was good, really - and it was her own stupid fault this time around more so than ever before. "Thanks Wilhelm, you're a bro." Sarcastic but faulty, the gratitude fell flat as she stared at his feet and glanced up just enough to catch sight of the useless card, "I cancelled it the next day ... thanks though." inching forward at any rate and dreading the idea of reaching out for i-

 Jo Wilsey could ask her to become a nun and swear off men and women for the rest of her natural born life, and she would proudly proclaim the only thing that was getting inside of her was the holy spirit. Because, literally, as much as she balked at the idea of being followed or fretted over - tonight it was ace. Looking up and locking eyes with her, she nodded eagerly and made a beeline for the other coyote, resisted the impulse to kiss her on the cheek and tell her they could call the goddamn club Green Day if she really wanted.

"Let's go - please."

 Greta met Beau's gaze from across the space, returning his silent nod of greeting before her eyes shifted back to the young woman - Alexandra Davidson. There was something to say about knowing someone's name who did not know her own. She glanced at the credit card briefly, before looking up to the man's face again as Alexandra called him Wilhelm. It didn't dampen her respect for him any - it wasn't unusual for vampires to change their names over the years, and it wasn't unwise to do so. But it was interesting for this curious little puzzle to come together so nicely.

 Another woman joined their company, quite suddenly, and she quickly realized that Alex would no longer find herself outnumbered. Her heroine came in with a casual air of confidence, as if they weren't in the presence of two unknown, potentially dangerous and ancient creatures of the night. What a tricky situation. Still, she made no move, hands unclasping to travel to the pockets of her trench coat, eyes traveling between the three of them.

Alexandra, Alexandra, what an insult that you were not happy to see him. Thankfully, he was left with little time to reflect on it.

Beauregard, you see, was not deaf.

It was not hard to hear the slapping of feet as someone quite literally jogged toward them. Was there some dead rat left in a corner somewhere she was excited to roll on?

He turned to watch her approach and was struck by how deeply, truly unpleasant she looked. Why did women cut their hair like men? Perhaps flea prevention.

Unlike the catty woman at the abandoned mansion, Beauregard felt little desire for tacky, flashy violence. There was no need for it. The short haired woman appeared to be giving every effort to seem casual, but Beauregard had greater senses than she likely anticipated.

He stepped back away from the entrance a tad to offer them space to leave, and considering that Alex appeared to have lost interest in the card with the appearance of her unpleasant friend, he tucked it back into his pocket.

For good measure, he tapped into his death-given abilities to send, to the greatest strength of his capacity, a sense of intense fear into the shorter haired dog. It was never any fun when someone appeared too cool in a tense situation.

"Stay safe," he said with as little malice as he could manage, making no effort to block the doorway.

Jo stepped back to stand just outside the door, waiting for Alex to join her and lead the way. Neither vampire made a motion to stop them, didn't even offer any cutting words. Apparently they'd lucked out and met the only two vampires who didn't want to wring their necks. Well, as lucky as meeting two vampires could be.

She turned to follow close behind the other coyote, and then fear slammed into her, so sudden and powerful that she gave a half second pause, a barely noticeable stutter in her gait before she made after Alex. Her beast surged forward and strained against its metaphorical (metaphysical?) bonds, convinced that their life was in immediate danger and it could protect them best, and she almost let it. She didn't know the last time she had been scared—didn't even know why she was scared now except that it was a feeling she did not like or want.

Her eyes silvered for several long beats and her skin itched feverishly, like she'd had one vodka shot too many, but then the cool night air hit her and she sucked in a long breath and shoved it all down, fear and beast both; and when she exhaled, the silver ebbed (mostly) out of her eyes. Still fucking terrified but at least in control.

"Did you drive here?" she asked Alex in a low, tense voice.

 A part of her wanted to say screw it to the idea of her car - to just keep hip to hip with the other coyote and let the rest fall into place later. Except she wasn't going to leave her car here forever and it seemed highly unlikely that a follow-up visit the next morning was a good idea. Like a precarious line of dominoes, her beast pushed against her hold when she noted Jo's unease. Enough so that her body ached and she shivered at the ripping of muscle that made her raise her shoulders and hiss.

 "There." She nodded up ahead to the inconspicuous black compact and resisted the nagging urge to engage Nonna or Wilhelm - to so much as glance back at them. Instead she brushed her hand over the back of Jo's arm and walked briskly ahead, keys already out and doors unlocked by the time she crossed the street. Don't look back. "Text me when you're home." She called out, kept her head down - to Jo, thank you very much.


She'd only just arrived back in Cordova. Shiny new scars finally healing over her face and full of extra irritation in the face of Weres. Now that she knew what they smelled like, tasted like, looked like in their full forms, she didn't want them on Bone Hollow land. She didn't want them on her territory. And sure, it might not be her territory anymore, since Margaux was the head bitch in control, but since she was Second, she still felt possession over it. Besides, how could you be a member of a Clutch and not feel protective over it?

Margaux had given her the rundown of what had happened in recent weeks, told her about the newbies in town and then sent her out on her first order of business, check on the two Vampire signatures that were just chilling. Scut to be sure, but Sera had only just gotten back so she didn't have a problem with it. She'd get back into the swing of Cordova life soon enough.

She'd driven there, stepped out of the vehicle and just leaned against the car quietly to wait and see what exactly was happening since she could smell Animal. When the door to the warehouse opened, Serafina quickly turned on her Invisibility and squinted as the two dogs (??? Wolves maybe?) got into a car and drove away leaving the two Vampires inside. She wondered why they'd been left to just leave. Especially since one of them held... something more.

She rematerialized and continued to stand there against her car, waiting for the two to come out. A small chat was in order.

That was that, then.

He watched them go with little fanfare. He waited for a distance to appear in their footsteps before glancing to Greta, plucking his phone from his pocket.

"Man's best friend, but not very bright," he lamented, perhaps cruelly, and his smile indicated he knew it to be an unkind comment. Beauregard could watch this place in the coming days, to ensure they did not return.

Oblivious to the company outside, he walked the empty space with interest. What precisely had been their business here? It appeared they'd been quite diligent in their cleaning it out.

 Greta may as well have been a statue, her face expressionless, mouth drawn down in its relaxed state. Only her eyes moved, following the two women out until they were beyond her field of vision - which, of course, didn't take very long.

 Her attention turned to Beau as he spoke. For all her curiosity, she would hardly shame him for his silvered words. If this had been Alexandra's second encounter on clutch territory, she was damn lucky. But definitely stupid. "Apparently not," she agreed evenly, eyes roaming the empty warehouse, moving to run her fingers along the desk that had been left behind. "Your timing was impeccable," she added with a hint of amusement, recalling all the little signals of distress the woman had been emanating before her fortunate escape.

 There was a sort of tingling sensation along the edge of her mind, a familiar suggestion that a quite powerful entity was nearby. Greta paused, inhaling quietly - the scent was unfamiliar, and where she had been expecting Margaux, her nose was met with something unfamiliar. Perhaps it was the former Domina Margaux had informed them of. The woman settled her weight against the desk, glancing to Beau. "I think we have company."

The space was so grandly empty, so blandly cleaned of interest. Beauregard felt undeniable disappointment in that.

"I pride myself on punctuality," he said, audibly aware that it was primarily a matter of luck.

He took only a few steps through the abandoned area before he sensed precisely what Greta did, pausing mid-stride as she spoke.

Not Margaux, whose presence was utterly unmistakable. His lips pursed together in an expression of borderline displeasure, and he spoke very softly.

"Let us hope we aren’t added to the naughty list."

The domina’s instructions had been very clear on how to handle shifters, but regrettably he had little interest in following them.

Fixing his expression to curious, he would lead the way out the door to see who lingered near. He would be rewarded with a dreadful and yet predictable sight.

Female, tackily tattooed, though... even from a distance, he could see the marks on her. Battle scars, so dramatically displayed. He knew better than to allow his eyes to linger on them for long, instead crinkling them at the edges with a faint but practiced smile, apologetic in nature here.

"Apologies for not addressing you sooner, madam," he said, dipping his head to accompany the sentiment. "You must be our former domina. It is a pleasure."

He was mindful to step out of the doorway so that Greta could accompany him in greeting.

 Beau mentioned something about the naughty list, and Greta had a particular feeling that they may have found themselves in such a predicament if this powerful entity had seen the women leave. She wouldn't doubt that a former domina that was on apparently good terms with Margaux would share her darker view on the Were people.

 The Swede didn't let her mind worry over it. Instead, she remained open, but not particularly optimistic, her expression neutral as she followed the man out into the open. Her dark eyes crossed over the woman leaned against the car - long, dark hair, skin like a full canvas, scars clearly displayed across her face. Greta's suspicion that this woman had a distaste for animals grew. Her outfit was fantastic, though; a detail Greta decided not to bring up.

 She mimicked Beau's nod of greeting. "I am Greta. This is Beau," she offered, glancing at the man before turning her eyes onto the powerful woman once again.

Serafina was fine to wait outside until they came to her, eyes glancing between the road that the dogs had taken and the doorway where her vampires beyond were just chilling. She let them collect themselves and as she came out, she only dropped her arms and straightened up, shoulders back.

The came out and Sera took them both in. They were older humans, however that didn't mean anything about their Vampire ages. They could have been turned a few years previous for all their power signatures told her and absently she wished she could know more just by seeing them. Sadly this was not the case though.

"Greta, Beau. I am Serafina." She introduced in return, reaching to shake both of their hands firmly. "Pleasure to meet you." She wasn't lying. She legitimately liked meeting new members of the Clutch. She wouldn't dally in her questions though.

"Would either of you like to tell me what just went on here?" She wasn't stern. Curiosity filled her head and her voice. Margaux had just told her that Weres weren't welcome in Cordova and they were to be killed and/or reported, so... why had those ones been let go?

Graced with handshakes, Beauregard was left uncertain precisely how this encounter would go.

Truth was often an irrelevant matter, but he recognized what sort of question this could be. One where the answer was known and simply being tested for.

"We came across a shifter making a clear exit from Cordova. After some light threatening, we allowed her to leave and she was joined by the sudden arrival of a second shifter who also encouraged her departure."

A faintly sweeping gesture with one hand toward where the pair had fled.

"They left with understanding that they were not welcome here and without further incident."

What Greta was doing in Alexandra’s presence before his arrival could remain a mystery if she would allow it.

 Greta observed the woman. Based on her fierce beauty and what Greta herself had experienced across a variety of clutch leaders, she was expecting the dark-haired vampire to be cross, sharp tongued even, perhaps ready to show a card from her deck of power. She was none of these things just yet - the older woman masked her surprise with the same soft expression, returning the handshake with a small, pleasant smile.

 Her eyes flicked from Serafina to Beauregard as the man spoke. He was not being entirely dishonest - in fact, it was not far from the truth at all. Still, Greta recognized the twist of reality in an instant, but would hardly be the one to shatter it. Instead, she looked to the former Domina, lifting her hand in a light gesture towards her own face as she looked at Sera's scars. "I hope you'll forgive me for being so rude, but... you've encountered them in worse lights, yes?"

So this was the first time they'd all met. She supposed there was something to be said about a clear warning in place, however, that wasn't the rule. They'd done work of spreading the word around Mountainside that Cordova was Vampires only, so how could they just have not known that they weren't allowed here?

She'd let this slide. This time. After making sure they knew the rules of the Clutch of course. "If you see either of them again, it's death on sight. We're not babysitters."

Greta spoke up and Sera turned toward her. She had indeed found herself in a fight with one of those... things. "I have, yes. Why?" Gretas curiosity had her curious. Did that matter? How did it matter in this particular situation? Or was it simply a question because of her appearance?

 Death on sight. Greta made the wise choice of not voicing her aversion to such directions, instead nodding her head. It wasn't that she was too soft to kill - but without good reason, it seemed to be... wasteful. Sera, unless the claw marks on her face were from a vampire, likely had every reason to feel the way she did. Greta could understand that much.

 "Your wounds. I was simply curious," she confessed. "This was my first encounter with one since their... reveal. Perhaps you could educate me on them some time."

The scolding was less than he expected, though he still found the idea of being commanded to tangle with a shifter nearly comical. Clearly it had gone with mixed results for the former domina, and Greta's question nearly hinted as much.

But in the end, Serafina did not seem irrational. He could appreciate as much. Nods were offered to the scolding, slightly raised brows to the questions and answers, and little else.

"If the dogs return, they will be put down. It was a pleasure to meet you, Serafina."

Sera raised an eyebrow at Greta's query but ultimately even gave a smile. She could definitely do that. "I'd be happy to sit down with you and describe what I saw." She said with a firm nod. "I'll give you my number and we'll set something up."

She nodded at Beau as well and moved to open the car door for either of them. "Pleasure was mine. I'm headed back to Night Vision, would either of you like a ride?" When she had their answers, she headed off whether or not she had passengers, driving back to the Clutch hub so that she could catch a nap before really getting down to business and catch up on paperwork.

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