The chapter starts with Pavel waking up an hour before the schedule. He feels Alexei approaching Moscow. Pavel quickly gets to the clan residence to inform Maharnen of it. On the way he thinks about how it could be the Malkavian leader’s work to bring the hunter back in order to kill Pavel. I highly doubt it, but at least he shows some healthy paranoia here. He also thinks about how nice it would be to be a clan leader, and that he would certainly do a better job of managing the clan than the current one.
Dude, so far you demonstrated exactly zero administrative or leadership qualities. You were forced to run from your family because they turned against you. You couldn’t manipulate three mortals, one of whom tried to kill you and got a drop on you. If you were to become a clan leader, even with vampires as dumb as they are shown here, you’d be dead within a week, tops.
Oh, and he also blames the Malkavian leader for Ira nearly dying, which is an unhealthy paranoia. Or rather an excuse to “never forgive him” and get a justification for staging a coup. I approve of Pavel doing something, anything rather than training and dicking around, but seriously.
Anyway, he arrives to the residence. In search of Maharnen he runs into some unknown to him vampire, whom he judges to be on “fifth mastery rank.” They briefly chat, with Pavel first asking where he could find Maharnen and then rather casually mentioning an approaching hunter to the vampire’s surprise. Then Maharnen arrives behind Pavel making the whole scene pointless.
I should have probably mentioned it earlier, but vampires here are divided into mastery ranks. The tests are actually to graduate from one rank to another, and Pavel currently holds third rank. They function suspiciously similar to ROG levels, especially since apparently there is a lot of them, as later it’s revealed that the vampire Pavel spoke to is actually around twentieth rank. I didn’t mention them before because, well, they don’t actually serve any visible purpose. Apparently, the rank determines your opportunities in Camarilla, with jobs being open only for rank three an higher, but you can easily replace them with, you know, normal qualifications for the job with little to no change. All in all, they feel like an arbitrary number here for Pavel to increase so we’ll have an illusion of progress.
Anyway, Maharnen explains that he basically imprinted on Alexei (err… no relation to Twilight, it’s just the best term to describe it, honestly) and will now always feel his presence. We are also treated to a bit of Pavel-wank as Maharnen makes a call to inform exterminators of the approaching hunter, and the vampire he called knows about Pavel. Pavel is apparently a celebrity in Camarilla now.
Also, that twentieth level vampire from earlier is in charge of hunter exterminators. Even with Pavel aiming to join them, that still doesn’t justify the scene. because seriously, nothing of consequence happened. It was so brief, Pavel didn’t even have much time to be a dick or anything.
We cut to Alexei. He, the priest and the blacksmith are traveling by train to Moscow. We are informed that after the last incident, in which Maxim died, Alexei “for some reason” came to hate them. That would mean something if they were given any kind of characterization. As it is, hating them is about as meaningful as hating trees.
They get out from the train by jumping, with the priest mindfucking people into not paying attention to them. There is no mention of the train slowing down, so I’m assuming it was running at full speed. No mention of the group drinking vampire blood or the priest healing them afterwards, either, despite Alexei specifically mentioning he hit some rocks during his fall.
Pretty sure they are dead and just don’t know it. The whole book being set in hell with no one realizing it would actually be pretty appropriate, come to think of it.
They go to a safe house located in a hidden room right next to a boiler room. Well, it is currently winter, if I am keeping tracks of the time skips right.
There they are greeted by Alexei’s Teacher and a few other hunters. Alexei is excited and says they should do another raid against vampires, despite the heavy failure of the previous one, because with him by their side they can’t possibly lose. He shows them all a bottle of vampire’s blood he carries with him (and mentions that the bottle is indestructible because such complications are not for Mary Sues). Teacher and the priest look at it weirdly.
Then the Teacher says that nope, no raid anytime soon because we can’t have nice things. He also says that Alexei should leave Moscow and go around the country, killing vampires and learning how to use the Elder blood to its full potential by taking it before fights with exterminators. How much blood is there, anyway? Pretty sure that plan runs a risk of Alexei just drinking all of the blood, all of it, and leaving none for the raid, none of it. Would be pretty ironic, considering his Chosen One status.
Before Alexei leaves, Teacher* shows him their super-weapon delivered from Romania which they intend to use as a distraction to allow the hunters to scatter unnoticed by vampires. The super-weapon is some kind of creature that “hates vampires more even than hunters do.” We aren’t shown the creature, but my bet is on werewolves. probably corebook ones.
*Damn, now I am associating him with a character from Worm going under the same moniker, and it fits so well.
The scene ends with Alexei asking if Teacher isn’t afraid that the creature would become even more dangerous and evil than vampires. Forty people each, not counting the regular hunts. The creature has a long way to go before it can compete with an average vampire. Though granted, I don’t doubt author’s ability to make me hate it all the same.
We cut back to Pavel. He and other Malkavians are fighting Gangrels in a training match. Pavel pretty easily defeats his opponent with zero wounds to himself. Ira is next. Her opponent is a girlfriend of the vampire Pavel just knocked out. Apparently, she now has a grudge on Pavel and plans to take it out on Ira, since she figured out they are close. Pavel thinks it’s funny. Ira defeats her opponent in the end, but not before receiving some serious hits. She is happy with her victory, though.
The training match is over, and everyone goes home. You know, I am not sure how the editorial process is arranged. I am pretty sure however that this book can be cut by two thirds at least with losing none of the important bits. There is scene upon scene that will never matter, doesn’t move the plot forward and doesn’t reveal anything new about the character. Pretty sure removing those scenes is Writing 101.
Anyway, when Pavel arrives to his apartment, he finds Sergei waiting for him. Sergei is relaxed, smokes a cigarette and listens to some music in the dark. They chit-chat, and in the most roundabout way possible Sergei gets to the reason why he’s here, jerking Pavel around a few times by refusing to tell him outright. I am normally all in favor of vampires not prostrating themselves before Pavel to give him all of their secrets, all of them, but that means the reader is jerking around too, and it feels pointless and annoying. Long story short, Sergei is hunted by a werewolf. What a surprise. Right then the werewolf arrives under Pavel’s window and tries to jump to it. It’s eights floor, though, so no luck.
Pavel and Sergei decide to run for it anyway and call for reinforcements. They jump out of the window and over the werewolf. Pavel gives Sergei his guns while calling Maharnen. Technically, it’s forbidden to give your personal weapons to a third party, which you’d think was a setup to get Pavel in trouble later, what with the clan leader wanting him dead and all.
I would also point out that no real reason is given as to why Sergei didn’t get to the Camarilla directly. He should know how to contact them, what with “fighting for the rights of caitiffs” and all. Supposedly he wanted to warn Pavel, but the werewolf was on his tail, so he basically just led it to Pavel. In a better book, I would suspect Sergei wanted to involve Pavel because Camarilla fighters wouldn’t be in a hurry to save some caitiff, while Pavel, to Sergei’s knowledge, is in good standing with his superiors. Here, though, it passes without a comment.
So, they run from werewolf at super-speed, but werewolf is slightly faster. It also shrugs off all of the bullets, which makes me heavily suspect it’s Bloodlines werewolf, who can be killed only by luring it into a trap. The book disagrees, saying that werewolves are distantly related to vampires, which makes zero sense. Later we are also told they are technically dead, and holy power works against them the same as against vampires, which makes negative sense. No, corebook werewolves are just ungodly killing machines. Werewolves from their own splat are… hard to describe in two words, but basically they are closely tied with natural forces and are very opposed to vampires, who are considered servants of Wyrm, a force of corruption, corrosion and destruction. Making them the undead is really weird. I mean, yeah, there is actually a mythological connection between the two. In some tales, improperly buried werewolves become vampires. Even there they were very much alive, however. The evolution of media placed werewolves and vampires far apart from one another, and I honestly didn’t expect the book to go there.
But back to the characters. Pavel manages to make his whip really hard and penetrate the werewolf right into the heart. He’s still alive somehow, but paralyzed. Yeah, no. Vampires are paralyzed when their hearts are pierced. Werewolves just die. The problem is that they are tough and fast enough that you probably won’t be able to pull of something like that without incredibly lucky rolls and a supportive GM.
Pavel holds werewolf in place, but he feels his powers leaving him. Sergei drags some random bystanders to him to drink. They hold the position until the reinforcements arrive, quickly killing the werewolf. Maharnen tells Pavel to grab his guns before someone sees them in the hands of a caitiff, killing my hope for any meaningful consequences to ever appear in this book.
We cut to the hunters leaving their sanctuary. Teacher notes that the blood Alexei had is not the same blood they were supposed to give him. It’s much more potent. They consider it weird, but agree it’s for the best that someone replaced the blood. Yeah, if I were surrounded y ancient monsters scheming against each other, I, too, wouldn’t think twice about such convenient strokes of luck. I do hope it’s not the Malkavian leader’s doing, as that would break the timeline.
We cut back to Pavel lying in bed in a hospital wing of the clan residence and whining. He thinks to himself about how he just wants to be a normal vampire, a normal hunter exterminator, but constantly gets into various unusual and dangerous situations. I, too, lament the fact Pavel is a coincidental protagonist who doesn’t strive towards his own goals and just lets the plot to drag him around.
Then he thinks about how the Malkavian leader must have orchestrated his meeting with the werewolf because the werewolf is connected to Alexei, and Alexei or something connected to him can kill Pavel. Yes, because werewolves and hunters are known to be such good friends, and also werewolves are easy to manipulate.
Then he reaffirms his decision to kill the Malkavian leader. Isn’t it nice when your paranoia gives you reasons for staging a coup and usurping power?
With that, the chapter ends.