Hostile Negotiations

Flynn wasn’t sure how it wound up just being him alone versus the other gang, or so he would later tell the Band. The Skulls used to be on good terms with the rest of the Free State, if a little uncouth, but word on the street was they’d had a change of leadership and now they’d already killed three other gangs in the name of “expanding their turf”. Lately, they had their eyes set on what The Band had claimed.

The Skulls were bigger, far tougher, than what he thought the Band could beat. The new gang would be hard-pressed to hold onto this small, worthless block of suburban California. But Flynn had told them. Promised them. No more losses. No more would the Band wait for someone to take what they wanted. He promised them he’d carve out a home, so he went to speak with The Skulls– reason with them. It wasn’t a bad plan. Or so he had just enough time to think before ducking beneath the younger Brujah’s punch. A punk-ass kid, no sophistication to his brawling, but Flynn saw enough of the vampiric power within to make him worry for the integrity of his skeleton.

But all battles can be won with a more elegant solution, if you’re clever. He remembered his sire telling him that as he turned into the dodge, grabbing the kid’s wrist and flipping him into contestant number two, a Gangrel by the looks of him. The Anarchs, Flynn knew, were an endless sea of strength and speed and wolf claws, but Gangrel were more and more rare. He’d all but forgotten how much the sharp claws hurt as this particular motherfucker took a chunk out of his shoulder. Sliding into the attack, Flynn barreled into the Gangrel, slamming him into the brick walls of the alley until he heard teeth shatter. Not particularly elegant, he thought, but these fuckers were fast. Obviously the little Brujah shit had shared some of the clan’s speed. But Flynn was no stranger to the powers shared through the blood.

Liquid steel melded into razor blades that ripped through his fingertips. It hurt, but Jessi had told him it always would. Letting the beast out- even for a second- would hurt more than anything he’d ever know. He slid effortlessly into the form she’d taught him, slashing in a series of intricate strokes designed to put a greater opponent off guard. He’d underestimated his own strength, though, and the gangrel fell to the ground, his blood racing to deal with the vicious tears in his side. Eyes gleaming with the mark of a predator, Flynn turned to the Brujah- and saw he’d brought company. Six more, at least one of them familiar with proper fighting.

This is how I die. Carving a home out of some shitty little neighborhood in No-Fucking-Where, California.

They stared at each other for what seemed forever, Flynn’s thoughts racing as they always did. He thought to himself how, in the movies, time always seemed to slow down during times like this, and how wrong that was. Flynn always thought fast. Think fast. Act fast. I wish Mercy was here, he had plenty of time to think before the leader, a burly man of unknown clanship he knew to be called Dre, stepped forward and eyed the Brujah.

“Hell, even the Rattler would do right about now.” Flynn muttered, blood dripping from his lip. Later, he would vaguely remember wondering when he’d broken a fang, before Dre took to him like a punching bag.

Dre was fast. Faster than the others, and faster than Flynn. Stronger, too. Flynn felt the flurry of blows like a chaingun of cement blocks to the face and chest. There was no time to defend himself, only time to feel the hot stream of pain as his rib broke, followed by a second, a third.

Dre’s crew cheered in the background as Flynn slowly fell apart. His carefully won ground, lost as he stepped back just to keep the blow from crushing his skull. His carefully thought out plans lost in the face of a clearly superior foe. There was only pain, only regret: had he chosen not to come out and try to fix everything himself, the Band wouldn’t need a new leader; he could only hope Mercy Bell would pick up the mantle.

In a flash of lightning, he saw her smug face- her stupid smarmy grin- and heard her voice. ‘I have been known, on occasion, to indulge in the stupid and crazy.‘ He smiled, and a ham-sized fist unhinged his jaw. Blood streamed out of his lips.

His blood.

And in that instant, he found a footing. He would not let that sanctimonious, forest-dwelling, wild woman stand over his dead body and sneer condescendingly. And he sure as hell wouldn’t let Roy pick out his funeral music.

He laughed.

Dre stopped his pummeling, looking confused at the half-beaten Kindred who stood, bloody and laughing on the verge of FInal Death.

“What? What’s so funny?!” The gang leader demanded.

“Dre’s a stupid name.”

Flynn lashed out. Claws tore into flesh, lightning laced with fire. Fueled by rage and reinforced with fear, Flynn tore into Dre’s face, grabbing hold of his head with a claw on either side. What Flynn did next, he would never admit to: it was brutal, bloody, and awful. When he was done, Flynn stood thumbs covered in gore as Dre staggered back with a pair of open, gushing, wounds where his eyes used to be. Flynn lashed out with the last of his strength, kicking the rival gang’s leader into a nearby wall. As he fell, he spied a strange black mark on the gang leader’s wrist; before he could get a better look, the vampire disintegrated from his wounds, leaving only ash behind.

Flynn turned to the gang. If they teamed up on him, he knew, he would lose. He couldn’t fight them all at full strength, and he was more tired than he could ever remember being. Still he laughed; laughed like a madman with nothing left to lose. And in that moment, the members of the Skulls looked upon the one man who had crippled and destroyed their leader; the lone, insane, vampire who fought like a beast wielding a sword of rage and laughed in the face of his own defeat. They looked, and they knew fear.

As they ran, Flynn knew he had to get home to his books; he needed to identify that mark. If it meant what he thought it meant, he might have to do more than just defend his territory. He might have eliminate the Skulls entirely.

That wouldn’t sit well with the Movement….

But he had a plan.

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