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Ships Meeting in the Night

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Betty saw the pale ghost waiting on the quay as she steered her boat in for docking a little after midnight. She didn’t usually transport people, or Kindred for that matter; goods were generally much safer to move. But she could not ignore this opportunity, her Haven now had the best wards the waiting Tremere could produce, and all it had cost her was this trip to LA.

This time of year she had about 12 hours of darkness, increasing a little as they went further south. With her boat cruising at an easy 20 knots, the near 1300 nautical miles to LA would take them a bit more than five days of travel.

She had stocked up on bloodbags, and had light-proofed one of the cabins. The lock of her own cabin had been replaced with something a bit more sturdy, she would not risk resting where another Kindred could easily get at her.

The ship thudded softly against the quayside, the buoys giving only a bit, easily protecting the hull. She quickly jumped off, a line in her hand, which she rapidly wrapped around a convenient anchor point.

“All set?” She asked the pale almost colorless woman. She nodded. “Well, come aboard then.” She gestured at the single suitcase the other woman was holding, “That all of your luggage?” The woman simply nodded again, still not speaking. “You need the gangplank or can you manage?”

The woman easily jumped aboard. It was no great achievement, even a mortal would have managed it. With a gesture and a “come along,” Betty showed the other Kindred to her designated cabin. “We’re leaving in half an hour.” Betty said, “if you need anything ashore, now’s the time. Otherwise, we’ll be in LA in about five days if everything goes well.”

“I am fine, thank you.” The Tremere said. Betty left the cabin, the door was closed behind her, and she heard the clank of the locking mechanism. Shrugging, she left to make the last few arrangements before casting off.

A few discrete inquiries and some money changing hands at the port office later, and Betty was back at her boat. She untied the mooring line and lithely jumped back on the deck. The door on her passenger’s cabin was still closed when she checked while heading for the wheelhouse. Well, at least she wouldn’t be bothered she thought as she moved on.

She easily maneuvered away from the dockside, and steered her boat out of the port. The night was clear and there only was a mild breeze when she hit open water. The weather report for the coming nights promised no trouble, and Betty whistled while the motor purred happily.

Hours later, not long before sunrise, Betty steered into one of the bays off the Washington coast she had marked for stopping for the day. She dropped anchor a quarter mile of the coast, and made a round of the boat to make sure everything was in order.

As she walked to her cabin, sunrise being imminent, she banged on her passenger’s door, letting her know they had anchored, and that she would be locked in her cabin for the day, so if she needed bloodbags she better let her know now. The Tremere answered in the negative, not opening the door, so Betty moved on to her own rest.

The next night began mildly cloudy, with a continuing northern wind, easing the journey. Betty had a bloodbag before making her way to the wheelhouse again, to start the next leg of the journey. The Tremere still did not seem to have emerged, but that was hardly her problem.

They made good time, and while the weather didn’t worsen, the wind did pick up a little. By the time sunrise was imminent, her ship was anchored in a cove on the Oregon coast, one she had marked for day three in case they encountered delays. This time Betty didn’t bother to warn the Tremere, she figured she got the idea by now, and could manage her own rest.

On the evening of day three, after Betty had a morning snack, she found her passenger’s door still stubbornly shut. She didn’t seem to have left the cabin at all during the journey. After a moment’s thought, Betty banged on the door, “Hey, do you have blood in there? You’ll do nobody any good if you’ll end up feral by the time we reach LA. If you make me wrangle you because you didn’t bother to eat, I’m going to charge extra!”

“I am fine.” Came back, somewhat hesitantly, after a long silence.

“Sure, but are you eating?” Betty responded, she had seen Kindred before who hesitated to feed, sometimes intentionally starving themselves. It never ended well, and she had witnessed more than one messy bloodbath by Kindred who didn’t manage their needs properly.

There was no answer from the cabin, and Betty sighed. “Look, I’m just going to leave a couple of bloodbags outside your door, it should see you through to LA and I’ve packed plenty. After you’re off my boat you can do whatever you want, but while you’re stuck with me you’d better eat!”

She returned to her own cabin to pick up the bags, and dropped them just to the side of the outward opening cabin door so they were the first things the Tremere would see when she came out. With an inward curse she returned up to the wheelhouse, to a clear sky. After a moment to admire the stars, she raised the anchor and started on the third day of their journey.

After another good night of sailing, they had reached California. Though because of their good time, it took a bit longer to find a good spot to anchor, as she hadn’t expected to stop along this part of the coast. Nevertheless, she managed to find a decent location, and made her way below, while the eastern sky was already pinking. Hurrying to her cabin, she did notice that the bloodbags had been removed from where she had put them, and sighed in relief. At least her passenger could be reasoned with.

The next night started uneventfully, the sky was clear and the wind was mild and her boat puttered on. But after a few hours her guest glided into the wheelhouse and approached Betty awkwardly.

“I apologize for my behavior for the past days and would like to thank you for the blood.”

Betty gave her a searching look, she seemed genuine even if she was almost as unreadable as most Kindred. She shrugged and answered, “that’s what they were there for, don’t worry about it.”

“Nevertheless...” her fellow Kindred took an unneeded breath and, “do you mind if I stay here for a while? The stars are beautiful tonight.” After a moment she added, “I will not distract you.”

Betty considered it for a moment, it wasn’t like she would mind the company. “Sure, if you want.”

They stood together in silence for a while. After an hour or so, Betty carefully opened a conversation. “So LA, huh?” That should be innocuous enough, right?

The Tremere twitched slightly. “Yes.” She hesitated for a moment. “It seemed like a good place to start a new life.”

Oh dear, maybe not such an innocuous question after all. “Or unlife, for that matter.” Betty tried to joke.

She smiled slightly. “Or unlife, yes.”

Betty wondered if she should dig any more. Sect affiliation could be a sensitive matter, she would know. And since LA was the heart of the Anarch Free State, while the Tremere generally marched strictly to the same Camarilla beat… Well, odds were it wasn’t a good situation for the other Kindred. She should have thought a little harder before she started this particular conversation.

The Tremere gave Betty a long thoughtful look and then took a deep unneeded breath.

“I have some issues with clan leadership, so to speak. I thought it better to remove myself from the situation and I thought LA would be a good place to do so.”

Betty nodded, “good for you for getting out.”

She shot Betty a surprised glance, “that’s not what I would generally expect to hear.”

Betty waved a hand. “Hey, it’s not like I’m Camarilla myself. And anyway, I have my own issues with my clan.” She waved her hand, and a shadow on the wall moved somewhat unnaturally.

The Tremere nodded in understanding and they subsided into silence again.

Not long before they would have to stop for daybreak, Betty spoke again. “We’ll reach LA early tomorrow night, we’ve made excellent time.”

The Tremere nodded thoughtfully. “I appreciate your care on the journey.” She said while flickering her eyes at Betty, before looking at the stars again. “If there is, at some point, anything you will need in LA, I will try to help.”

That small matter for Kindred. Usually it would be a matter of favors owed, to offer help without anything in return, well… “I will remember.” Betty answered.

The Tremere smiled slightly. “Good. Look for Eva, and I am sure word will come to me,” before returning to silence, staring out over the sea. They stayed that way in silence together, until time came to anchor again. Eva smiled when she went below as Betty was steering the boat to their stopping point for the day.

The next evening Eva joined her again for the last leg of their journey. She looked better than she had at the start of the trip, less haunted, less like she was one bad day away from walking into the sun. Betty grinned at her, but kept quiet, the silence comfortable.

They docked a few hours later, but still well before midnight, at a small private marina, where she had booked a spot before leaving Seattle. Eva went to her cabin to get her suitcase and Betty saw her off the boat. “Remember what I said.” Eva said, and jumped off the boat. She turned around briefly, smiled, waved and disappeared into the LA night.

“I will.” Betty whispered to herself.