Mountainside Planetarium - Clutch Only 
Following Dissociation

They arrived some short time after he and Beauregard had agreed to meet. Some time after the New Moon had passed was what was agreed upon, so that it was official that the boy was a vampire. Edvin had offered to meet at his home and drive together, but the Samuel had opted to go in his own car, and thus Edvin had driven slowly for the boy to follow. His arms remained at his back as he lead Samuel through the Planetarium, and then down to the lower levels, only moving to prize the key card from his pocket to grant them access. He could feel the signature of the Dominus long before he could hear or see him, but he knew that Samuel would be able to as well. When they reached where Beauregard was waiting, Edvin fixed the man with a pleasant smile. "Thank you for meeting with us." He said.

@"Beauregard Bertrand" @"Samuel Valdez"

Beauregard had considered letting Edvin handle all of this. But there was something essential in a direct meeting with some new member of the clutch. Hardly any information about the man had travelled to Beauregard. He was an accidental turning and had some variety of psychological issue.

These were not especially compelling traits.

Still, he offered a practiced smile as the pair appeared.

"Certainly," he answered simply. This was not an interaction Beauregard sought to lead yet. He glanced to the youngest man here, waving them both toward his office and taking a seat.

"What do you know of clutches, Samuel?"

There was some enjoyment haunting the planetarium in her bat form. She was small; could fit into little spaces. She could sneak on thoughts, though likely not before other vampires caught on. But that was fine. She was enjoying herself.

Still hopped up on her advancement and the added the improvement of her relationship with the Dominus, Raziyya had not been sleeping enough. He'd suggested it, certainly, but when the sun no longer forced dead sleep on her, how could she not wake and busy herself patrolling and zipping all along everywhere? Vampires couldn't tire. They could, perhaps, go mad. But not tire.

Raziyya had decided to come to the planetarium and, as she'd done before, set herself as a bat. And it would be just about then that she picked up the scent of newness. That is — a new scent.

Curious, she, well.

She hopped down the stairs on her ridiculously small bat feet, trying to figure out just how close she could get to the office before someone called her out. Close enough to pick up all their dissonant thoughts?

Samuel knew this meeting was of great importance, that the first impression he made here would stick for an awful long time. During their nightly visits, Dr. Beck had done his best to prepare him with enough information to fill a volume of vampire history, but he'd spoken only briefly of the Dominus. The doctor had even smiled at Samuel's comparison to a vampire king, although he gave no other indication of what exactly had been funny.

Now faced with the man in question, Samuel wondered if he had built the man up too much in his head. Before them stood the same man from that night, dressed sharply, but comfortably. The pictured crown and flowing cape absent. He looked far more approachable than imagined. However, Samuel was coming to learn that appearances could be deceiving and for a vampire such a notion would be even more vital.

The question was not one he hadn't properly prepared for and his words fumbled at first in consequence. "Clutches are groups for vampires...for protection." It wasn't everything he could say, but it would have to do.

Beauregard got right into the meat of it, and Edvin was inclined to step back and allow the Dominus and his fledgling to speak. He had explained to Samuel what a Clutch was, in theory. Told him of the magic and the benefits it granted him. Samuel stumbled over simplifying that into an answer, and Edvin smiled some as he tucked his hands behind his back to observe in silence.

Beauregard leaned back some, comfortable. But the two other vampires stood like children called to the principal's office, and it distracted him some from the lackluster but not incorrect answer.

Before his own response, he waved a hand toward the seats across from him, hoping they didn't need some handwritten invitation.

"That is part of it. It's also an opportunity to socialize with and learn from others."

This was no thrilling speech for Beauregard. He knew very little about Samuel, and Edvin hadn't offered much either

"Tell me more about yourself. What you do, how you've adjusted to this new lifestyle."

If there had been any bloodlust incident, certainly Edvin had been very quiet.

So far, it seemed no one seemed to notice her, or call her out. At least not vocally.

Raziyya continued to toddle in a creep along the ground, an unnatural place for a bat to be, but she felt like a sneaking child and so being small only helped that giddy thieflike feeling.

She'd make it to the door of the Dominus' office and peek one eye around the corner. All their thoughts came to her in a flood, and she felt that deadening of her voice with it. Oh well. She wondered if any of them would notice her presence but most especially if the new boy would notice, given he was surrounded by those with heavier power signatures.

He wasn't able to decipher anything from the Dominus' tone, not that Samuel was particularly good at reading people, but he dearly wished for something to keep his clumsy words in check.

Thankfully, the Dominus asked a question he could answer reasonably well. "I'm a property manager. My work hours are flexible and I didn't sleep much before anyway." It was a minor adjustment on his part, but he'd long since perfected his job, so not to interact too much with others. You could get a lot done with emails.

He took the seat that was offered, and allowed himself to recline comfortably as the men spoke. This back seat position allowed his focus to wander some, and it was with that attention to their surroundings that he noticed that he and Beauregard were not the only ones here with significant power signatures. He was familiar with this one, as well as the sensation of the two abilities that reared their heads as he extended his reach for them. Raziyya was nearby. He grasped for the newest of the woman's abilities.

Might as well show yourself, I'd like for the two of you to meet anyway. Edvin thought clearly, his gaze flickering to the doorway. No one there. And they would have heard her footsteps in the hallway. His eyes flickered about the doorframe. Ah, there. A tiny, furry face. He smiled.

That was a boring answer, if he was truthful. Property management was something Beauregard had managed for many years, but it was all presented blandly.

Thankfully, shortly after, some tiny hint of movement caught his eye. He withheld a smile, deciding this could be some sort of game.

But Edvin turned and ruined any sense of surprise. If a fall to the floor could have been lethal, Beauregard would have thrown himself from the chair in despair. And now everyone involved save for the fledgling could sense his boredom.

He made an attempt to negate it, but found himself unable to grasp the miserable ability. So instead he would need to present a cheerful disposition in mind and thought. How lovely!

"You'll be sleeping plenty now, though it's less in the winter," he said, deciding to ignore second and bat. There was some temptation to force Raziyya into laughter, but if he somehow failed, surely he would bloodlust. "It seems Edvin has given you the very short version of how our clutch works. There are a few simple rules you'll need to follow. They'll also work well to keep you out of trouble, something very easy to stumble into as a vampire. Sound reasonable?"

The tragedy of timing. She received not only excitement from Beauregard but notice by Edvin and then frustration from Beauregard immediately as well all so much to follow, and this new boy besides. What a popular little thing she was.

Deciding against revealing herself in full when it left her communication that much more difficult, Raziyya decided to simply walk her way into the office.

And then, a choice — the Dominus or the Second.

Nothing against the crocodile. She toddled to their leader and beseechingly looked up at him from the ground for a hand, though the thought would not escape her even with the aid of her animal form. It was regretfully harder and messier as a bat to take off from solid ground, much less indoors with so many things in the way.

Samuel took the offered seat, well aware he'd need as much help as possible in these upcoming months. Without Dr. Beck's generous supply of blood, he'd surely have wasted away or gone into some hunger craze. That thought did strike him with the sudden clarity of recent news in the area. Was possible there were other young vampires (vampire-lings?) living nearby, and were some part of this clutch? He must ask the Dominus before leaving, a little reassurance would go a long way.

The Dominus' question prompted an immediate response. "Yes. Sir, I-" His words halted at the most peculiar site of a bat wobbling in, heading straight for the desk.

His eyes whipped over to Dr. Beck and then to the Dominus. Surely they were seeing this too.

And so she did, hopping in in her tiny form along the floor. Edvin chuckled at the sight, and watched her as she waddled in. Such a strange woman. He did look toward Samuel when the boy startled, and at the sight of his confusion, and Edvin straightened some. "This is Raziyya, Beauregard's guardian. She is not always a bat." He said with an amused smile.

"When you become more powerful, you are granted an animal shape. I will show you mine later." Best not to distract for too much longer.

Beauregard recognized his own capacity for meanness here, and uncertain if Edvin was also reading his thoughts, he made some second attempt at negation.

It would work this time, albeit painfully. Certainly he didn't need his vision to list off the standard rules of the clutch. But still, alas, Beauregard's plans to say that he'd found a bat in a cave and simply kept it were stomped cruelly by Edvin's desire to cut him off.

With a soft sigh, he reached an arm down to allow Raziyya to clamber onto his hand, though his intention was to deposit her onto the desk rather than allow her to climb to his shoulder. (Whether or not she would obey was another story entirely.)

"One of many benefits of life after death," he said with a small smile, though it was likely a bit more restrained than was typical considering the growing pain behind his eyes. "Our simple rules are as follows: do not seek confrontation with any species, including shifters. If trouble does find you, reach out for help and don't attempt to engage by yourself. Don't harm meals needlessly, and make a habit of wiping memories." A quick glance to the second. "Edvin can give you more guidance on hunting. In general, communicate well with the group when you are struggling and you will find success far more frequently. Any questions?"

There were matters of rogues and specific shifter species, but Samuel was unlikely to be able to pick out any of those details from strangers in the near future.

Raziyya drank in the discordant symphony of their thoughts. The surprise of the boy, who she had yet to try to speak to. The amusement of Edvin. The —


Well, at least within in her head. She blinked up at Beauregard as she felt life to her voice return, and at Edvin's introduction of her, she managed a small batty squeak as she was lifted up. Oh, she could talk, but this was more fun.

His hand turned to the desk in a way that suggested she would have to let go, but she very much didn't want to. But. She was a distraction, she supposed. Important things were being discussed! A new vampire in the fold. Samuel, was it? Edvin had mentioned him before.

Reluctantly and with many looks between his hand and his face, the little bat guardian let go and made a show of spreading her wings. As if to silently go "tada!"

Trying not to be a distraction.

"Ask questions. You don't know enough not to," she counseled the fledgling, amusement present in her tone even if not on her small batty face.

Hallucinations had been uncommon even when Samuel had been human, which was the only thing keeping his mind intact as the bat proceeded to talk. That, and the relaxed manner that both Dr. Beck and the Dominus were handling this bizarre situation.

Regardless, it was a very wise little bat and he'd heed its advice.

Nothing the Dominus outlined warranted any major arguments. The rules seemed structured to protect the individual and the group. He could very well understand that mentality. The part about wiping minds was still startling to hear, Dr. Beck had mentioned some of the mechanics before, but the very thought of having the ability would take time for Samuel to accept. He didn't feel in control of his own mind half the time.

Having nothing to ask was out of the question, as he didn't want to appear complacent or worse, unintelligent. The first question that danced on his tongue was the number of current clutch members, but a simple number wouldn't actually tell him anything. "Who are the other members, and are there other clutches nearby?" He settled on those two, continuing to watch the bat from the corner of his eye. It might disappear if he looked away.

Raziyya obediently moved to the desk, and he found himself easing away from negation. The pain remained unpleasant, and the first tiny splotch of darkness in the vision of his left eye was enough to inspire him to back off.

"Don't get fleas on my desk," he thought pointedly to the bat, mean but playfully enough. If she was going to make a scene of being here, he would need to punish her for it to some degree.

"Their names, though I don't expect you to remember them, are..."

He leaned back slightly, counting them off on his fingers.

"Osvald. Greta. Safiya. Sayed. Ophelia. Josephine. Tikanni. Marybeth. Dax. Persephone. And..." Who was he forgetting?

"Forrest. And Lazarus. I believe that's everyone."

There were some notable absences he was less than happy with. But he could feel the bonds having severed, and they were not of relevance to this conversation any longer. Beauregard took a moment to recall the other question, then answered.

"There was another clutch some short while ago, but it fell following the permanent death of their rather loathed leader."

Thoughts came back in a flood, and she received some pointed jab besides. Raziyya gave a single furious flap of her wings in retaliation for the Dominus' rude thoughts since she could now neither speaking nor think her frustration.

Rude. She did not have fleas. At least the boy asked a question somewhat. But Raziyya could not qualify their names with commentary, or comment on the other clutch's demise.

Hopefully the boy would ask about it. It was good to show interest early on.

The desk was very comfortable to sprawl on, so she did that.

Whatever answer he'd anticipated, it wasn't the Dominus actually naming each person. Many were unusual names, old fashioned or foreign. He recalled Dr. Beck's given name and the Dominus' being of the same cloth. The bat also possessing a rather uncommon one too, but as they were a literal bat, he'd thought nothing of it at the time.

But now it seemed an important clue to another question. As none of names would have appeared on a top baby names of this century, he must easily be the youngest among them.

He had no time to dwell on it, as the Dominus spoke of a previous clutch. Seemed a fragile organization if the death of the leader lead to a quick downfall. "Are there provisions in place to insure that doesn't happen here?" Samuel spoke evenly. The Dominus looked perfectly healthy, if showing some age, but the life of a vampire king had to be fraught with challenges.

Raziyya's animal form was such a strange little creature. That was not something negative. In fact, he was intrigued. With the knowledge that she would know as much, he did not hide his idle study of her as the Dominus covered the rules they had in place, and Raziyya encouraged questions. Samuel asked of the other members, the names of which the Dominus offered without much of an issue. He would admit he would have had to think a bit longer about each name. Some members, he had yet to properly meet. Perhaps something to focus on making a point of doing.

Samuel's next question drew his full attention back. There was temptation to answer for the Dominus, but truthfully he was more interested in what Beauregard had in answer to that. Perhaps he would explain how Margaux had died, at the hands of shifters. Paws, would be a term more befitting. Or perhaps he would keep it vague. Edvin would tell Samuel later, he supposed. It was best for him to know that whilst they did not actively seek confrontation with them, shifters were incredibly dangerous. It had only taken two to destroy a powerful vampire.

Oooh, a dangerous little flap, sending one pen rolling a few centimeters away for her efforts. Beauregard withheld a smirk for the most part, though perhaps it reached the edges of his lips.

Samuel's question was an interesting one. He supposed he'd opened himself up for it, as much as the inquiry felt a bit above the youngest vampire's status.

Still, he would answer for the sake of fairness. It was thankfully not difficult.

"I assure you no one is as reluctant to see the death of our dominus as I am," he said, a bit teasing. "Margaux and her vampires earned a reputation for violence against shifters. She cast out those who didn't agree with her increasingly mad policies, which ended up being a majority of the clutch. To top it off, she made a habit of wandering out of territories to engage in altercations with the beasts, which ultimately ended in her untimely demise."

There was little way of sympathy or regret in Beauregard's voice. He reached a hand forward to pet Raziyya's ratty head with a single finger.

"We are quite the opposite. Clear values. A disinterest in showy violence. An understanding of the danger of shifters and even positive relationships with some of them. And, of course, a leader less inclined toward brawling in the streets."

He smiled, looking to Samuel with a tilt of his head.

"Does that feel a sufficient answer?"

She was neither strange nor ratty, but she would squint her eyes at the petting and enjoy the focus from the Second nonetheless.

Looking between Edvin and his offspring and inclining her head back towards the petting of the Dominus, she was quiet for the talk otherwise, enjoying all of this somewhat shamelessly.

Such an answer did satisfy his curiosity and told him a bit more about the vampire before him. He had faith he could easily come to hold this man in high regard, especially considering the affectionate way his treated his small friend.

"Yes sir." He confirmed. "I would like to join the clutch when possible." Samuel, had not previously thought to ask how such an event happened. A large mistake on his part. He shifted his weight and flexed his fingertips, feeling the urge to go looking around for a pencil, as if the Dominus was about to administer a written test.

The answer was, as he suspected it would be, well delivered. Edvin smiled somewhat fondly as Samuel made his final decision. He looked rather nervous, and Edvin was glad that there was not much in the way of ritual to joining the Clutch.

Yes, sir. How polite!

Beauregard found his mood bettered by his own talking.

"Wonderful," he said with greater cheer. "Raziyya will fly you to the sacrifice room, and you'll be nearly done."

He smiled handsomely, indicating with a waved hand out of the door to wherever such a place might be. But he would pause only long enough for the boy to experience some degree of alarm (or none, perhaps even more interesting) before an actual sort of magic would take place. A bond created, something that everyone but perhaps Samuel himself would feel. It took no magic word, merely an effort of his will, and how delightful to be so powerful.

"I tease, of course. Welcome to Eventide, Samuel. You'll find ready guidance here, if you're willing to learn."

It was good to have been helpful to color the boy's opinion based on Beauregard petting her. Raziyya would have slipped that to his mind, but found her luck waning still.

But all was well. He made a joke, to which she picked herself up and then spread her wings slowly and fearsomely — her bit of being able to take part in the joke even if she couldn't exactly speak.

She'd linger on the desk, waiting to report to Beauregard on the boy's thoughts once the other two left.

How cruel! He thought as much with something fondness as his lips pulled into a knowing smile. A soft chuckle after Beauregard granted Samuel the mercy of explanation. It was a notable feeling, with the words that Beauregard spoke. With the utterance of words, his fledgling belonged to the Clutch. It was a feeling of both pride and shame, though he was willing to let the former take precedence. If there was nothing else, he would make to rise with Samuel, and reach to press a somewhat congratulatory hand to the top of the boy's shoulder. "Thank you, Dominus." He glanced to the small bat. "Raziyya." With that, he would lead Samuel from the office to offer him a full tour of the Planetarium.

The flicker of panic at a 'sacrifice room' was extinguished quickly, although Samuel couldn't bring himself to join in the other's amusement. The coiling of his stomach slowly unwound as it came to light that the Dominus really did not intend to test him further.

A stillness entered the room. There was nothing at first, then a vague, intangible sense of something blanketing him. A blink-and-you-miss-it type of feeling that Samuel couldn't be sure actually happened. He shook himself and frowned ever so slightly. Was that truly it?

He looked between the three before Dr. Beck directed his attention with a thank you for the Dominus and a motion towards Samuel to take their leave. It reminded him of those parent-teacher conferences, he regressing back to the confused child wondering what the adults found so entertaining. Like a awkward duckling, Samuel would follow after Edvin, waiting until they entered the hallway to ask for clarification. He'd get his answers then.

Not even a thanks from the fledgling! How dreadfully rude.

Beauregard let the pair go, leaning back and rolling the chair far enough from the desk to cross one ankle over the knee of his opposite leg.

"Thoughts?" he said once the other vampires had wandered off a bit.

This was what she enjoyed. Being asked to report on what she could, being useful. She turned to look up at him, toying with the idea of switching back, but this was comfortable.

"I think he shows promise," she started optimistically, and then... "He thinks highly of you for several reasons, but especially because you were so gentle and affectionate with me. Your small friend."

The humor in her voice was audible, and she sat up and reached her thumb hooks out to him, desiring to be held.

So gentle, this Dominus that had torn out her earring and slapped her.

It was good to be thought highly of. That certainly had his interest. But she explained her reasoning and he huffed, rolling his eyes.

"A lying little bat," he scolded promptly, playful as he frowned at her. "And his other reasons? The fact that I'd chosen you as guardian? My rodent accessible desk?"

He held out a hand near her, but would keep it just out of grasp of her strange leathery wings. (At least, unless she hopped.)

She was not lying!

"I'm being truthful!" Raziyya insisted. "I found it such a nice thought that I decided I liked him as well. I'm going to have to send Safiya to terrorize him."

She stretched towards the outreached hand and finding it kept just out of her grasp. There was the idea of hopping into it, but instead she just crawled closer and stretched out for him again, round bat eyes looking at his.

It was pathetically cute, she thought of herself. Have a heart, Dominus.

Ah, yes. The social weapon, Safiya.

"When she worries the boy into bloodlust, I will send you to calm them both."

Whatever her expression, he would hardly reward a pet that refused to perform tricks. Beauregard pulled his hand away entirely, folding his arms at his chest.

"Cruel to send me alone when you could dead sleep them both." She would pester him for his help nonetheless. And she was not a pet! But he was denying her his hand completely, which was a sorrowful thing.

"You look like one of those Egyptian sarcophagi."

She leapt for his lap, aiming to curl up and settle there, if he allowed it.

Cruelty was the point, of course. He prepared to pout at her, but she made some comment it took longer for him to parse than was useful before she leapt at his lap.

There was some unspoken rule within Beauregard that bats didn't belong anywhere below the belt line. His face wrinkled some and he moved a hand quickly to scoop her up right at the middle, hoping to leave her wings flappily at the sides.

"You look like something prone to spreading terrible plague."

How cruel that he wouldn't let her in his lap. Perhaps it was "too inappropriate."

She flopped her wings over as he seemed to want, looking at him being rude. "I don't have plague fleas, but if I did, I would give them all to you," she promised, a threat wrapped in a tone of devotion.

One day, she would bite him, but he would likely break her bones if she did.

Her wings flopped as he'd hoped, and her comment was worthy of the eye roll Beauregard would offer her.

"You know, he didn't thank me, at the end. Just shuffled out of the room. I thought that was rather rude."

Speaking of rudeness, he moved his hand up and down a bit, having some mental image of her wings rising and falling like that of a toy's, as if there would be enough effect of gravity or air resistance to do so.


She was cut off by his actions, and her wings raised as she thought to grapple to his hand. Instead she received a different idea from him.

This child.

She knew enough about how air resistance worked to know how to make it look natural, to the helpless flapping of her wings that he hoped for. She did it for him, the ever faithful Guardian of his entertainment.

"Who knew the easiest way to fly was by Dominus," she commented in dry humor. "Would you like him punished for his rudeness?"

What delight, a little toy bat. He smiled faintly, but the amusement was brightest in his eyes. Her comment went ignored, focused as he was on the other topic of conversation and wanting little acknowledgment of the action happening in the moment

"Punishment enough will be the cold bags of blood Edvin feeds him," he said, then chuckled. How dreadful, honestly. "Is there anything else I should know?"

Flap. Flap. Flap.

"He is eager to impress, as you saw in his questions. Fresh and unaware of everything. And," she paused thoughtfully, "he thinks all of us are older than at least a century, because all of our names are so beyond his scope."

His interest faded in the flapping after a few more exercises, and eventually he reached his hand out toward the desk, intending to deposit her onto it.

"How human," he said, but that was all the commentary he found he had for it. Edvin's turning of the fledgling was so utterly, utterly bizarre that Beauregard consistently had to mind his temper over it.

A shake of his head. At least there was some pleasure in knowing information he would not otherwise have had, even if that information was very boring.

"Feel free to send Safiya after him, then. He could use some livening up."

No sir. She clung to his hand, wanting to remain this time. There was no scene now that she was interrupting by being choosing to be obstinate.

"She will be so happy to have someone new to play with," Raziyya decided. And clung.

His expression wrinkled a tad, but it would be some unspoken struggle, unacknowledged as he waved his hand slightly along the desk. Too feeble a move to shake her loose unless she decided to let go, but perhaps a warning.

"Anything else?"

A slightly greater waving of his hand.

"I am comfortable here."

She clung tighter through the waving, pressing her head forcibly to his fingertips.

"Or you can put me on your shoulder."

Waving would not deter.

And so, he would begin to turn his hand over, near enough to the desk that she would not have space to properly hang upside down.

"Why would I do that, precisely?"

She could continue to hold on with her thumb hooks, even upside down. So she did.

"Because according to Samuel, you are an affectionate, kind, powerful Dominus who adores your little bat friend."

Cautiously, she attempted to clamber backwards towards his sleeve.

Little bat lies. He grimaced as she crawled up his arm, then made the decision to rise from his desk. It was unlikely she would fall off, but certainly he would make no effort to accommodate her.

"Such a shock he'll be in for one day," Beauregard grumbled, but in the end, he was not winning this particular battle. Certainly he could, but it was not worth the inevitable pouting.

To dinner it would be, then, whether she would accompany him or not.

For the sake of dispelling the mystery: she would be accompanying him to dinner. As shoulder bat!

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