<Cade> meanders through the park, humming along with the Combichrist song playing in his headphones. His head was swimming with arcane formulae and various principles of magic. He’d been studying in his hotel room for six straight hours and was definitely feeling a bit burnt out, so he’d decided to go for a walk. There were quite a few more people out than Cade had expected, so he’d

cut through the park to avoid the crowd and give him a better chance of clearing his head. He makes a few motions with his hands that would seem random and odd to an onlooker as he opens up a GPS program on his augmented reality visor and sets it off to the corner of the dispaly. No point in letting himself get lost.

<Alice> walks up behind Cade as he is headed home, her footfalls light despite the heavy steel-toed goth boots she is wearing beneath her long black dress.

<Cade> remains oblivious to his tag-along, unable to hear her light footsteps over his music. After a minute or two the hairs on his neck begin to stand up and he gets that creeping feeling of being watched. Knowing better than to ignore his instincts, Cade stops and sticks his hands inside his coat, resting one on the pistol he carries. He winces slightly at the feeling of cold

steel in his hand, still not quite used to the more violent aspects of Awakened life. He turns and, to his surpise, sees a girl in goth garb following behind him. “Oh, uh, hi! Sorry, you startled me a bit. Thought I was the only one out here.”

<Alice> smiles a little bit and looks down, her curly hair obscuring her face. “You are never really alone. It took me a bit to find you. You moved after your message.”

<Cade> cocks his eyebrow at her for a second, confused, then a text scrawl pops up on his view feed. ‘The Rabbit-Hole message most likely.’ An animated emoji with rolling eyes follows the message, which he reaches up with a gloved hand and pokes the air to dismiss. “Oh! Right! Yeah I had a little cabin fever sorry.” He eyes the girl up and down, muttering some Latin under his breath

and poking the air again, running a program that completes the other part of the spell to allow him to see her aura. He frowns, unable to get a good read, but shrugs it off, sometimes that was just the way it went. “So that was you huh? Gotta say, interesting choice of communication.”

<Alice> shakes her head a bit. “Not me. But I get the messages too. And I know the network better than most.”

<Alice> “Oh. You are a …”, looks around briefly. “Awakened one. I know some of you.”

<Cade> nods slowly. “Yeah, that’s what they tell me.” He smiles and chuckles a little. “So…I take it that means you’re not?” His hand grips the pistol a little tighter. He’d been expecting another Mage. Just because she wasn’t didn’t mean she was hostile, but his experiences with the Night-Folk were limited to what he’d read in books.

<Alice> looks up. “No. If you shoot me I am gonna get annoyed. And hungry. In that order. So what brought you here?”

<Cade> raises an eyebrow at her. “You do see how NOT reassuring that is right?” He laughs, a little nervously, but takes his hand off the gun. Hecatrix sends him a series of urgent messages about this girl possibly being a vampire and all the bad things that could happen to him if she was, but he presses his fingers at the air a couple times to acknowledge her advice and ask her to

pause for a moment. “Needed to clear my head. Only so many hours you can study before smoke starts coming out of your ears. Sometimes literally depending on the topic.” He smiles, loosening up just a little. “Or…did you mean New Orleans?” Cade sighs and shrugs his shoulders. “It wasn’t safe to be Awakened, or one of the Night-Folk either for that matter, back home. The Union had too

much of a foothold.”

<Alice> tilts her head. “It is okay to talk to that. I understand. And I do suppose my nature in general could be seen as a bit threatening. But if I wanted to hurt you I could have before you ever noticed me.”

<Alice> thinks for a moment and then perks up after looking around. “Union… Is that what… You call the Watchers? The ones that try to control everything?”

<Cade> gives Alice a curious look. “Can you sense Hecatrix somehow? I’ve never heard of Night-Folk with tech powers.” His look of curiosity turns to concern as she continues. “Hmm…never heard them called the Watchers I don’t think. But controlling everything? That definitely sounds like the Technocracy.”

<Alice> shrugs her shoulders a little. “I am good with computers. Just patterns. All of it makes sense. Technocracy… That is what Dan called them I think. I don’t like them. But you and Dan and the others see things differently. Like it really is.”

<Cade> smiles and nods enthusiastically. “Exactly! Just patterns. And it’s good that you don’t like the Technocrats. They’re…not exactly friendly.” He cocks his head to the side, a look of admiration crossing his face. “That is a very insightful way of describing Mages. A lot of what we do does just come from the fact that we see more than the Sleepers. So…this Dan and the

others…they are Mages like me?”

<Alice> nods her head, making her curls bounce. “Yeah. Dan is… Uhm… Virtual Adept. And Zoelie is too I think. Both of them are on the network too. There are others too. Ramirez is nice and talks to ghosts.”

<Cade> regards Alice for a moment, surprised that she knows the name of one of the Traditions. ‘It seems increasingly likely that this vampire is telling the truth. She seems to have befriended a coven.’ Cade nods in response to the text scrawl. “I think you’re right Hecatrix.” He holds his hand out towards Alice. “My name is Cade by the way. I’m a Hermetic myself, just a lot more

tech friendly than most of my order.”

<Alice> shakes his hand with a light grip and smiles. “It is nice to meet you. I’m Alice. I don’t know that one but will check the network. Anyway, to be fair I guess I am a Malkavian. We… See things differently too.”

<Deveraux> is wandering the park, analyzing the area with a discerning eye as well as studying anyone he happens to notice out and about. He’s wearing his usual Victorian attire and walking with his simple black stick.

<Cade> returns the shake and thinks for a moment. ‘Malkavian is a clan of vampire.’ Appears on his view screen, and the prompt is enough to jog Cade’s memory about a few passages he’d read in a bestiary. “Ah yes. Your clan has a proclivity for psychic abilities right? Makes sense that you’d see things differently.” He decides it would probably be polite to leave off the part about

them largely being considered insane. “It’s pleasure to meet you Alice! Maybe at some point you can introduce me to your friends as well. Speaking of which, how did you meet them?”

<Deveraux> heightens his senses as he wanders to take in more of the environment for study. Doing so he notices a conversation on the wind and heads toward it, eager to observe the participants.

<Alice> nods and pulls back to a little more than arm’s length again. “The ones like you? Well, I found Dan and Zoelie on the network.”, she pauses and takes note of Deveraux, her senses heightening so she can observe him from a safe distance.

<Cade> raises an eyebrow as Alice seems to hesitate. “Is something wrong?” He looks around but lacking the benefit of vampiric senses, cannot yet see or hear what is coming.

<Alice> nods her head a bit. “And yeah, most of us are psychic.”, she says and lightly smooths her long gothic skirt.

<Alice> steps cautiously in that direction, curiousity getting the better of her. “Hello?”, she calls out where she thought she saw the figure moving.

<Deveraux> steps into the open to regard Alice and let her see him. He takes off his tophat to bow at her as he says, “Good evening, miss. My name is Deveraux. May I have the pleasure of yours?”

<Alice> studies him as he comes fully into view and turns slightly, causing her dress to brush at the ground. “I am Alice.”, the longer she studies him, the slightly more concerned she looks. But her posture doesn’t faulter. “Twas there when not, but now not gone. Not before or after.”

<Cade> startles a bit as the newcomer speaks and turns to face him. His hand instinctively goes back to the pistol, but he watches Alice, looking to her for cues on how to react. She, after all, was a native here, and more likely to know how to handle the situation than he was. Just in case though, he begins punching a few buttons on his augmented reality view field to have Hectarix

begin running a program in the background that would help calculate probable outcomes, both through math and mystic formulae.

<Deveraux> “It is nice to make your acquaintance, Alice.” He looks over to Cade, “Might I have your name, good sir?”

<Alice> leans over to lightly elbow Cade when he reaches behind him. “Less of a good idea than earlier.”, she whispers. She then looks back to Deveraux. “Nice to meet you. You are well dressed for a simple stroll, something on your mind?”

<Cade> relaxes a bit and takes his hand off of the pistol and sticks in in his pants pocket, where he takes hold of a wand instead. “My name is Cade. Nice to meet you Deveraux.” His smile is a bit nervous, and he mutters some Latin and twitches his fingers, again having Hecatrix help him with an aura scan.

<Deveraux> nods, “There is always a multitude of things on my mind, miss Alice. Much to process.” He looks at Cade and says in Latin, “Some shine brighter than others. Did you view mine just now?”

<Cade> seems unsure of what to do with himself and fidgets a bit. “Just a precaution. Can’t be too careful when meeting strangers.” His smile goes from nervous to sly. “Especially at night.”

<Deveraux> nods and switches back to English since he has no way of knowing Alice understand Latin at present, “By what means did you accomplish this task?” He seems very inquisitive, but shows absolutely no emotion about his inquiry.

<Alice> nods and looks between them, curious herself but letting Cade choose whether or not to tell the other.

<Cade> hesitates and stares at Deveraux for a moment. ‘The probability that Technocratic agents would willingly collaborate with a vampire is essentially 0. That does not mean this one is not dangerous, but it is something to consider.’ Cade nods in acknowledgment of the message as it appears on his view field, hoping that this Deveraux cannot sense it the way Alice seemed to. “A

simple spell. There’s more to it than the incantation of course but that part is handled already. Expanding perceptions is one of the first things we learn and it’s easy enough to outsource most of it. I usually don’t even bother with the incantation but…well I have a little debugging to do.”

<Deveraux> “So you are a student of magic, yes? Do you follow any particular traditions or do you walk your own path?”

<Alice> watches and waits, almost fading into the background as she just listens.

<Cade> nods to Deveraux. “Yes, as I was telling Alice a moment ago, I belong to the Order of Hermes, though I’m somewhat of an outlier due to my integration of technology into our practices. I’m not the only one to do so, from what I’ve heard, but the idea does meet with a fair amount of resistance.” Cade visibly hesitates, unsure of just how much he should reveal, and looks over at

Alice with a questioning gaze. His experience with vampires was limited to some books, and this meeting, and so he felt it best to defer to her judgment.

<Alice> looks over at Cade and smooths her skirt. “He is very old so he has probably seen others like you before.”

<Deveraux> “I see. You are not the first member of that Tradition I have encountered.” He now looks at Alice, “What makes you believe that I am very old?”

<Alice> looks back at Deveraux. “He is not the only one that can view souls. And yours betrays your age.”

<Cade> frowns, not at all comforted by the turn the conversation has taken. Everything he’d read cautioned that vampires tended to grow much more potent with age, as well as more clever and devious.

<Deveraux> he nods to her, “I am sure you are not the first to notice, but you are the first to say so. I commend your directness about the matter of observing a simple fact and reporting it thusly when questioned.” He looks back to Cade, “You have nothing to fear from me, though I expect you will not believe that statement and be cautious regardless of it.”

<Alice> “Well it does also reveal that you do not seem prone to violence. So therefore I believe you intend no harm.”, she says and nods toward Cade letting him know she feels okay about it.

<Cade> looks at Deveraux with a critical eye for a long moment and finally shrugs, releasing some of the tension in his body and pulling his hand out of his pocket, without the wand. “Well, you’ve done nothing to make me believe otherwise so far, so it’s only fair of me to give you the benefit of the doubt.” Several warning messages involving probabilities and accounts of vampiric

activity pop up in his view feed, but he waves a hand in the air, and presses at buttons only he can see, queueing them for review later. “Though I can’t speak for Hecatrix. She’s a suspicious one.”

<Cade> smiles and nods his thanks to Alice as well.

<Deveraux> blinks as he asks, “Hecatrix. An interesting name. Is it a reference in some way to Hecate?”

<Alison Spektor> smiles faintly and taps along the side of her leg as she thinks, humming lightly.

<Cade> beams at him Deveraux and snaps his fingers.”Yes! Hecate Matrix! She helped me pick the name herself. It was better than ‘Hermetic Casting Aid v4.3.2′” he laughs and nods his head.

<Alison Spektor> chuckles faintly. “Certainly more efficient to say.”

<Deveraux> “Ah, matrix. This makes sense. I was initially wondering why one would add the Celtic suffix of -rix which denotes the feminine to an already feminine name.”

<Cade> “Huh. Hadn’t thought of it that way. Of course I also just know English and Latin.” He shrugs and taps his visor. “Working on making it so she can translate for me in real time.” He seems distracted for a moment then rolls his eyes. “Yes, I know, I need to fix your speech functionality first.”

<Alison Spektor> tilts her head and looks to Deveraux, “Do you know Hittite by chance?”

<Deveraux> looks to Alison, “I chose not to study that language. I am fluent in several that are considered by a great many to be dead, however.” He takes out his old pocket watch and clicks it up for a few seconds to glance at. With a nod to it he closes it, replaces it within his vest and then bows to the both of them, again removing his tophat, “I am afraid I must bid you both a good evening. My instincts tell me that something interesting

is happening elsewhere and I should observe it. I look forward to speaking to you both again soon,” He looks to Alison as he continues, “especially about languages.” He then backs away from them back toward the bushes he stepped out from and will Obfuscate away.

<Alison Spektor> nods in agreement. “Yes. One should never be late. Good night.”

<Cade> waves as Deveraux leaves, intrigued by the strange exit. He turns to face Alice and shrugs. “Well that was interesting. So, where were we?”

<Alison Spektor> looks over. “Here. And now.”, she says and tilts her head. “Oh… the other Mages. I do not wish to disturb them at their magic house. So we can ask them to meet us somewhere else.”

<Cade> smiles, finding Alice’s mannerisms quite endearing. “There’s always my hotel room. Or that bar…what’s it called…Devil’s something? I ran into another Mage there a couple nights ago.”

<Alison Spektor> nods in agreement. “Trill. The song. A lot of them go there.”, she looks off where Deveraux disappeared. “Hatter…”, she says to herself before shaking it off. “I will let them know you are looking to meet them. But i should go too.”

<Cade> nods to Alice. “I appreciate it! And you can feel free to drop by my hotel room anytime you want to hang out. I’m a bit of a night owl myself. I’ll see you later, try not drink anything without checking the label, Alice.” He gives her a big smile and waves. Before turning and heading back to the hotel, having had enough excitement for the time being.