After recovering from the attack the previous night, the Black Doves try to decide what to do next. The memories of the mortals who attacked the Falcon Perch indicate they were “hired” by Olivetti and Papa Lacroix. The Carthian Armory robbers have cleared out and Deep Throat’s examination of their thoughts suggest they had been manipulated by Daniel Gagnier. All three of these individuals were current or former members of Ambroise’s Marble House. Deep Throat decides to enter Twilight Projection and spy on the main suspects.
He is unable to locate Daniel Gagnier. Ambroise is at his estate, discussing mundane business. Two hairless, albino children with milky white eyes play with a toy racetrack. When Deep Throat’s ghost body ventures near them they say to Ambroise, “Papa — the shadows are here again.” Ambroise hits the alarm as Deep Throat flees the estate.
Deep Throat finds Lacroix at his haven in the hood, dressed in purple boxers, a zebra skin bathrobe and gold chain. Rap music blares from an oversized stereo. Lacroix is discussing with his homies about some “cats” who claimed that Lacroix hired them to “steal some shit” from the Carthian Armory. Lacroix didn’t know why these muthafuckas were making “false claims” and he didn’t want them badmouthing him on the street, so he had them “taken out.”
Why would Lacroix deny his involvement in the robbery when he was alone with his homies? As the coterie contemplates this, Edee Graden calls them. She says Lindra Benadari’s financial records have been hacked and there is a strange code which keeps popping up in the records — “LEMP HE.” Deep Throat realizes that it is an anagram for “Help me.” Is someone being forced to commit these acts against their will?
The coterie begins to suspect the culprit may be their former coterie mate Olivetti. His accounting background and mastery of Dominate (but weak resistance to being dominated himself) would make him the perfect person to engineer the trail of robbery and mental manipulation they have found. But at last report Olivetti was in Europe. And if the “Help me” message was to be believed, who was the shadow controlling Olivetti?
The Water Tower
The coterie learns that Olivetti’s Bentley was taken out of storage a month ago. Edee’s surveillance of traffic cameras throughout the city is able to pinpoint the general neighborhood where the Bentley had been. After searching the neighborhood in Twilight Projection, Deep Throat comes across a water tower which his ghost body is unable to penetrate.
The coterie prepares for an assault on the water tower. They quickly dispatch the mortal guard and enter the tower, Deep Throat’s Auspex powers making short work of the security system. They break through the final trap door leading to the top of the water tower and there they find Olivetti, a female kindred with short dark hair and two ghoul bodyguards. The ghouls move to attack as the female kindred flees down the ladder.
To the coterie’s dismay, Olivetti unleashes his Dominate powers against them, although they suspect he is not in full control of his actions. He dominates Grant into fleeing the water tower, but the female kindred is conveniently doing that as well so Grant “flees” after her. She gets as far as her car, but Grant jumps on the the hood and punches through the windshield with his claws. The woman raises her arms in surrender.
Back at the tower, Deep Throat, Rowana and Tyler have subdued the ghouls and Olivetti. Olivetti apologizes, saying he had been controlled into attacking them. He had been tricked into returning to America through a combination of falsified correspondence and the summoning power of the Majesty discipline. Once he was back, Sebastian Goulet, the leader of the Sabbat, quickly got his mental hooks into Olivetti again. “I’m so sorry for the trouble I caused,” he said.
The captured female vampire identifies herself as Celeste. She is a member of the Sabbat. Celeste confesses that she had been working with Goulet to “condition” Olivetti into doing their bidding. Goulet was well aware of the political tensions between Ambroise’s Marble House Barony and the Anarch Collective. He had planted a trail of false evidence which suggested the Marble House was responsible for the robbery at the Carthian Armory and the attack on the Falcon Perch, hoping that this would lead to an outbreak of violence between the factions, weakening the city and priming it for a takeover by Goulet. And Olivetti, with his mastery of Dominate and memory alteration, was the perfect tool who could execute the plan without Goulet having to dirty his own hands.
The Black Doves counted themselves fortunate they did not attack Ambroise directly as they had been considering. That would have played right into Goulet’s hands. The question was what to do with Olivetti. They could hardly leave him alone with Goulet pulling his strings like a puppet. But they didn’t have the heart to destroy their former friend simply to expedite their security concerns. Deep Throat, Grant, Rowana and Tyler exchanged uneasy glances. They had solved one problem only to walk right into another.