October 21st, 1985.
The only piece of 20th century technology that she truly enjoyed was the car. Driving, or being driven, was a meditative experience. The monotone drone of the engine, the winking of street lights you passed at speed, the elegant zipping of other vehicles in their assigned lanes, the rhythmic opening and closing of intersections, all of it represented a familiar background of mental white noise. She sat in the backseat, with Kirke at the wheel, her eyes peeled on the side window, staring into nothingness. Her consciousness, as is so often, was fragmented into dozens or sometimes hundreds of little pieces that jostled with the lelekbrood of Helsinki. The out-of-body experience was at the same time soothing and intoxicating – the jumping from one semi-sentient spirit to another, taking in their perspective, their smells and primitive little feelings they attached to their surroundings, but then the integration of all of that in her mind, the leidification of the disconnected chaos, that was like a drug. It was like she acted as a conduit for life around her. For a creature that was dead for centuries, that was truly a marvel.
Earlier that night, her vision of the other place struck again. That was a true counterpoint to the coasting on leleks - it was abrupt, completely solidified into one pair of eyes and feelings and perspective. It was her vision – her curse – that she did not share with the spirit world. It might have come from it, but it was hers to experience. For a medium of the lelek throngs, that was disconcerting in itself. She did not dwell on it. She tried not to think about it for the most part. If it was some entity trying to reach her, she could not stop it or help it. If it was an omen the world has branded her with, she would suffer it stoically. The only thing that scared her was the possibility that it was just a figment of her mind – a fracture in her will that was getting wider and wider, and would shatter her from within.
They arrived to the warehouse in Ruoholahti and she had to leave the car. If you watched her from the outside, out of context, she would make for a peculiar sight. A petite teenage girl in a long coat, handled and directed with peculiar reverence by a confident-looking albino woman, at the Helsinki waterfront, amid of all those warehouses, in the middle of the night. The large hangar door slid open, a spindly young man handling it from the inside and Leida spoke for the first time in an hour: "Good evening. I am here to meet Alton."
There was something about this vampire that nagged at her. Both of the Ventrue patricians of Helsinki were complicated beasts. She didn't need to use her craftiness or blood powers to divine that much. The Prince was tortured and followed by omens of danger, while the sheriff was like a contained storm. There was something in the man that lay under the surface, that he let out in a disturbingly calculated way. Like when he probed her about her powers and it took her a long few sentences to realize she was telling him more about koldunic views on the spirit world than she ever shared with a friend like Papa Baptiste. As they sat down and exchanged words during this meeting, what unnerved her about the Brit was that he had been a predator she did not consider threatening. Who knows how her defenses had already slipped within this short hour?
"What surprises me, Alton, is that I have spent a turbulent week within this besieged praxis of yours, but I have neither seen nor felt a single intimation of a besieger." Her words were careful and articulate, the young voice producing thoughts that should not find a home in a throat that juvenile, yet still in the uncanny Cainite way they did. "Where is your Sabbat, lord?" She affectated despite him clearly communicating no such title was needed, and even more so, that a Camarilla lordling had no Sabbat to call his. "I commune with the…"
The sentence was abruptly halted and she gasped for air, despite no need for her lungs to fill up. Her eyes widened without blinking, her mouth a large 'O'.
A guard gurgling for breath as two Cainites sunk their teeth in him. The scream was swallowed by the blood that gushed into the man's mouth. Four more crowded around the poor victim, hungry for blood. They did not linger though and started running away.
She was the wind and then the few water vapors in the cold night. She was looking at it up close, the chitinous skin twittering like some humongous insect. It was a huge winged beast, more an insect or a crab than a man, the leathery wings almost lazily cutting into the air and sending her point of view swirling away. With every swirl, she could see the roof of the warehouse in which Alton and she sat and exchanged their Camarilla thinly veiled lies and agreements. The beast was coming for them.
The same six, from above. They carried cleavers and ran from the waterfront towards the warehouses. There was murderous intent in their sprint that would converge with the leathery beast from above.
Leida and Alton were being attacked, she realized. The Sabbat came.
Even his composed demeanor couldn't mask the surprise with her abrupt pause. She jumped to her feet and half-screamed. "They are coming, Alton. They will murder us. One flying from above, a huge beast. Another five or six running from the sea. They are here now." His reaction was much faster than hers. He jumped to his feet and both of them started shouting at their two retainers in front of the building.
They hadn't passed through even half of the large warehouse when he realized how slow she was – with the flashing of the spirits before her eyes, her body was almost like a forgotten appendix of her mind, that she barely made jog after the sheriff. Without a word, he grabbed her and started carrying her toward the streets as the spirits enveloped her body. In the Ventrue's embrace, she was gathering what lelekbrood would come to her, to prepare her for the battle to come. As they burst out of the building, they were a sight to behold: her hands clasped around his neck, his eyes jotting left and right to catch the sight of the creatures she had seen, while her face deformed and scintillated with the spirits drawn to her blood and call.
She was lying on the concrete warehouse floor in a steaming pool of crimson. Both her arms had long gashes from hand to elbow that trickled more blood into the hot pool around her. As she weakly blinked back into her body, she croaked to Alton who kneeled above her: "He is running. More blood, I need more blood." The other vampire didn't hesitate for long and offered her his wrist. In all that gore, the red steam in the dark and cold concrete warehouse, she smiled and bit in, drinking on the Avalonian vitae of old. She did not stay for a moment longer than to drink, her eyes violently turning and showing whites right after he had fed her. The Englishman jumped to his feet and ran from the warehouse, to the neighboring one were Kirke and Lars still awaited for the approach of their land-bound attackers. She saw glimpses of him making short work of them – with otherworldly speed, a few shots of the revolver and cutting of the blade the sheriff murdered them in a dance that looked more like a choreography than battle.
In the meantime, Leida soared with the spirits above once more. Now, the beast was very different than in her first vision – his frontal ridges and plates burned and charred, she could smell the black ichor coursing through its body and tainting the air as it pumped the wings to fly faster. She riled the spirits of smoke and charcoal and oil in the polluted skies of the city to combust around his extremities and wings. She had done so since the first moments when Alton was still carrying her. There was a sick beauty to the whirlwind of spirits and fire that she stirred around him, fueled by her blood in the warehouse below. It was meditative, almost like the car ride.