Vampire Meeting Results: Iris/Derrick
So. That went entirely not as I expected.

We shared our findings about the Orchid with Derrick (that would be the vampire who we met at the Orchid that just wanted to get us out of there). He was pretty wary, but wanted to meet, so I did go to meet him. (In a nice public place, with Ian there, and with Grace monitoring.)

We spoke for a few moments and then he took me to meet an associate of his named Iris. (But, seriously, I assume that as with Hermetics, their names are largely assumed Names. Which doesn't make them inaccurate. Just perhaps not legal, trackable names.) I'm not going to lie, Iris is pretty much mysterious. I don't have any particular reason to expect her to be lying, but I got a much better feel for Derrick and Wesley. Iris...what she says matches up with all the facts as I know them, but I can't really speak to what I sense as her intentions or motivations.

This conversation condensed down to these basic facts (assuming they are true):
1. Iris, Derrick, and some of their associates (that number unknown) are trying to get Lilean Holdings the fuck out of Denver. [That I absolutely believe]
2. Denver is the newest location for Lilean, so they will be less compelled to spend resources keeping it. [This matches up neatly with all the information Grace found about the corporation.]
3. They want Lilean out because they say that no one is safe if they stay. [I agree with that - but please note I'm not promising we'll be safer with these vampires. Just that I agree with the assessment that we aren't terribly safe with them here.] Iris says that she does not want innocent people or her friends getting hurt. [I have no idea. But most of everything else she said seems true. She did not seem to be lying, but, again, I couldn't get a good read on her. She may have been.]
4. Derrick is going to make an offer to buy the club, which he says he intends to use as a safe space for his people to congregate.
5. According to Iris, Lilean will sell if they feel that that it is the best choice as far as risk/reward. She says if we make our opening move good enough, we may not even have to fight. [Well. This makes total tactical sense with everything we know.]
6. So, Iris proposes that in order to intimidate the fuck out of Lilean we present a united front. [Yeah. I think this is weird as Hell too, but I also think she's as backed into a corner trying to figure out how to take out an international crime organisation as we are.]

Now, I realise that this sounds a little crazy. But I did mention that while I assumed she would be displeased if we went on a vampire murder spree, there was one associate of Addario's that we wanted to be sure was handled [she says any of his associates are fair game so far as she's concerned]. Also, I asked nicely, and we can make arrangements to go to the Orchid and try to help the spirits trapped there (assuming Derrick ends up with the club). He requests that we not leave any lingering hidden magic. [Which I think should be easy enough to agree to because we can just use new magic and mundane methods to watch that club. Hidden magic actually sounds like like it just wouldn't be the most efficient way to go here.]

Iris wants to meet with Grayson. She pointed out that is a risk for everyone, not just us. There are plenty of stories she knows about vampires being lured into traps by us [and I don't know which stories she means specifically but I can confirm that that happens]. I do believe her proposal is serious. My only concerns, really, are what her motivations might be. I'm going to try to find out what I can, but there is only so much there as far as options for me. Still, I hope to have something soon.

Obviously, this decision is way bigger than just mine. Honestly, I have no idea what that should be, but I'm going to try to get at least a little more information.

I will try to be around the House this weekend if anyone wants to talk in more detail (this is obviously rather condensed even though it is long), but I am planning to check out a new church on Sunday. (Daylight hours and public - and probably non-eventful. Mostly I'm going to see if I see flyers for any youth programs and try to get a feel for whether the congregation feels like a cult. I'm not expecting much to come of this. If anyone is interested in coming also, or feels like I shouldn't be alone, that's fine. I will even try not to freak out about no one trusting me. Promise.)


[[And a bit edited now, because of a clarified a thing. -ix]]
It did not go as expected. I made sure they didn't try to pull anything and didn't bring unannounced friends, and they didn't.

But I do have further questions. They mentioned that the emails retrieved from the Black Lotus' secret site suggested something utterly dire, like perhaps citywide (or larger?) death and destruction? But didn't elaborate.

If true, that *would* make some sense as to why even a vampire would be willing to stick their neck out to stop it. They seem to be non-living and frozen in time, so they continue to exist for a long time. Seems they would be pretty concerned with keeping things quiet so they can keep that going. Which kind of paint the Black Lotus types as just as fucking illogical as their emails initially suggested.

"We're going to sacrifice on our holy night, bluh bluh bluah. We're going to act in ways most supervillians are too intelligent to fall for."

They suck, pun intended.

Again, all this is to say that I do not trust our supposed new "allies" to not be just as bad. Iris showed up looking like someone putting on a show. She was totally concerned with her appearance, which suggests she was trying to show us their best side. Their worst side could be just as horrible as that shadowy asshole.
If there really are spirits trapped at the club that need help, I can try and connect with them, call them to us and see what the options are. Depending on how long they've been there, that may be easier said than done but I'd be willing to try. Nobody deserves to be stuck in a place like that for all time.

Grace, I'd say they absolutely were putting on a show of good manners, whether it was simply to help with negotiations is another matter but public relations probably extends even to their kind.

Kalen, when you say Iris wants to meet, is she suggesting we attend with them to present this unified front? -K.
There is, at some point, a response from Dan:

1. I don't think this is a good idea. That's just me. Anyone here ever lived in the mid-Atlantic area? North Carolina, Virginia, even the suburbs of DC are overrun with deer. Why? Things are out of balance: they lack for predators. Maybe it's best to let the vampires fight amongst themselves because it keeps them from doing worse shit to the rest of us: which is probably what is going to happen when one group or another consolidates power and has a chance to turn its focus on the rest of us.

2. The vampires at the club are ALSO careful about not murdering people. For both groups it is a matter of survival: if there are witchhunters there are no doubt vampire hunters, and the vampires cannot hide in plain sight if they are leaving dead bodies laying around.

3. Grace: I am very, very sorry that you were terrorized by that vampire at the park, but killing it will not change that, nor will it make anyone safer. It did not attack you intentionally. When you say "We" want to "do something" about her, that "We" does not include Sera and she is the one it knows and the one it will target. Please be clear about that. Right now, that vampire has not come after Sera, and Sera has not tracked her down and murdered her. Thus: we have established one of those uneasy truces where two predators have a brief fight because one thought the other was prey and was wrong. Now it knows that error and knows to avoid the thing that hurt it in the future. That vampire clearly communicated with her cabal about the witch who injured her. Turn the moment around. If she is murdered, or destroyed, within close proximity to that encounter - especially by magic - her cabal would reasonably assume that the murder was effected by the witch who injured her: and then Sera, and probably her human friends, of which there are many would be in greater danger than they are now because the rest of the beasts would be inflamed and seeking to eliminate the threat to their existence. Sera can take care of herself. I'm more vulnerable. Dee and Rick and Emily and all the rest are even more vulnerable than that. So please: make your choices, but also take care to consider Sera's choices and Sera's agency in this specific matter especially because she is the most likely to face the consequences of any choices, whatever they are.

5. Kalen: I don't know if the trust comments were directed toward Sera but: Sera questioned you because she was confused and concerned and worried and she cares about you, not because she doesn't trust you. I think that people who care about you should ask you uncomfortable questions. BTW: I didn't pass the bits about no one trusting you on to her: it would just hurt her feelings, which I don't think you intended.

6. I don't think you should make alliances with vampires by yourselves. At the very least, this kind of decision should demand a plurality opinion of the locals. What you are considering is dangerous and has implications for everyone.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
The best course of action very well may be not to go.

Look. I don't know what Wesley knows, but I know he thought us jumping in and unbalancing things we didn't understand was a terrible idea. I trust him, which is weird, but true. When he told me he didn't want to see any of us hurt for a fight that wasn't ours, and that there were worse thing in Denver we might stir up if we unbalanced the fuck out of everything, I absolutely believe he was telling the truth. I trust Serafine, and she is saying much the same thing. I am absolutely willing to stand down on this one.

I haven't made any alliances with anyone. I felt out where some vampires were and tried to get more information on this whole situation. And I told everyone. I made it very clear to Iris that I would take her information back to everyone and then we would see what happened. I promised her only that you would take her proposal as seriously as I did. And I did take it seriously.

I'm checking out that church to see what is happening to people there. Yes, I might be motivated to intervene by some answers I might find. But my place has been and will be between monsters and those they make suffer. I used to say between monsters and people, but that dividing line has become far less sharp than it once was.

Iris wants us to go with her to meet Grayson. Show all of our teeth at once so to speak.

As concerns the ghosts, talk to Alexander. I know they are there, but I cannot interact with them, or see them, or really tell you much beyond that they are there. If you can call their souls from that place, and we do not need access, that is, honestly, one less reason to do this thing.
I definitely think getting mixed up in this means a lot more than us simply backing up one play, it means they know we're here and it puts all of us in a position of potential danger. Hypothetically speaking, say we did agree to this meeting, we're showing our hand not just to the vampires we want out of Denver, but the ones that right now, have a use for us. We're exposing numbers to them, that above everything else strikes me as a very risky move if things go south.

I'm not saying Wesley and co have plans to immediately betray us, but I wouldn't stake my life on their loyalty, either.

I'm not saying there's not potential there with a truce, treaty, temporary union for numbers either, I know there is, but the long term risk of vampires being aware of our numbers, even partially, could be an added pressure we just don't need. If they decide they don't want us in town, them knowing names or faces becomes a hazard for us beyond what they already do know. If the meeting did happen, I'd caution against anyone they don't know already being there. My gut instinct on this is to stay as far out of their politics as we can.

If there's a way to help these trapped souls in the club, maybe we can at least do that much minus any vampire involvement. I'll talk to Alex, see what he knows about the situation. -Kiara.
I'm not entirely sure that Wesley is with Iris and Derrick. He seems to want us not involved, where they seem to want to involve us in their plan. Clearly we don't all agree all the time, so that doesn't mean they aren't working together. But I've seen no evidence of connection between them.

Honestly, I don't know how many factions we have in play here. I'm relatively sure that Wesley was serious about not wanting to see anyone hurt in a fight that wasn't theirs, but if we jump in the wrong way (for him) I don't think he'd necessarily spare us.

I don't think Iris and Derrick have any particular desire to harm us. I don't think they would be thrilled to see us hurt. But I absolutely have no reason to expect, that if this goes badly, they'll put themselves at risk to save us. I don't necessarily think they're terrible or evil, but I do think they're not terribly concerned about our fate beyond the abstract.

(And yes. For the three of you or so who remember me when I got here, that was pretty much where I stood on most of the population. I'm not making a moral judgement on being able to dispassionately send people to die. Sometimes you have to make those choices. Hell, drop the dispassionate and I sent people to their deaths only a few months ago. And yes, it was awful. But I would make the same choice, were I to have it again.)
Dan, I had considered that. I had also considered what happens to people who are not our friends if we have a person running around the city with the ability to kill, the desire to kill, and absolutely no brakes on that killdozer.

We would be able to ignore it with more ease if I don't take her out. Does that make it the better path?

Maybe I'm being too sentimental here, thinking of Sera and Sera's friends a little too much, like they are far more important than some random people who we don't know who are most certainly going to die screaming. But you're right, and it makes me literally sick. I'll let the asshole go, if it means no reprisals. You happy?

Should have killed her when I had the chance.
In fact, I think that what happened in the park is a little microcosm of the big picture. Who deserves to take the risk? We know for a fact that this supernatural human trafficking ring is going on IF NOT IN DENVER. Okay, I get that. It's going on in Miami and Santa Fe. Do we just care about the people in Denver? Okay, let's go with that.

We only care about the people in Denver. The Denver vampires are being cautious. The Black Orchid is a new endeavor here, and they're just not shipping people off to Mexico. So who cares? But you have to ask the question: if all of those other clubs under the same head organization are doing these horrible things, why did they set up in Denver? What's the ultimate purpose behind that? That's what I keep trying to figure out. Everybody else? They're telling me: "Oh, they're not running a trafficking ring through Denver, we should just leave it."

That's the saying of someone who only cares about the people of Denver. The trouble with that sentiment should be pretty obvious, though, even if you only care about what's going on in your back yard. Lillean Holdings has money. They don't need to be running a club in Denver to get more. They use language like they're a cult, and they run a very hierarchical, top-down organization. I could put together a leadership tree for you, and orders do flow. It's not like the Black Orchid is some separate entity. It has a purpose for being here. They wouldn't have set it up in the exact same configuration as in other areas of the country if it didn't.

So, if we only care about the people of Denver? That's still not enough apathy.

The next question we have to ask ourselves is: Do we only care about ourselves and our friends, then? Which, by the way, is obviously not an easy question to answer. If all we care about is saving our own skins versus a very powerful, nebulous enemy? Then we obviously turn around and pretend we never saw this going on. And I'm not even going to lie -- this might be the best, most moral option to take. We could be wiped out from the city. And then, who will be there the next time something like Thakky knocks on the door? Who will be jumping into another universe to keep it from eating this one? We are not normal people, and we have a duty to the rest of the world to safeguard ourselves, and not be suicidal just because it's fun.

Do we, as Mages, have to overlook the little evils on the path? Do we only stop to destroy the things that will destroy us? Do we let the Sleepers take the fall for things we could prevent, if doing so would keep us from acting against larger threats?

I think the reason why we can't seem to make up our minds is that those questions are so fucking hard to answer.

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