by Timothy Toner (17 Jun 92)

The Journal of Gerald Cole

When Maxim asked me to keep a written record of the journeys I took in his service, I thought him mad. "A hand voice recorder, at least," I asked. "No, he replied, smiling with those angelic teeth, "call me a purist."

Now I know the reason for keeping a journal. Such a work allows me to organize my thoughts long after the passion has subsided. Hindsight is indeed 20/20.

Onto the mission. My mentor, Maximillian, a Ventrue of great power in New York, is forever trying to outwit the diabolical Sabbat. It has become neccessary over time to look out at the future, and interrupt their evil machinations long before a serious threat is posed. Thus, almost every rumor must be checked for the silver glint of truth in the shadowy world in which we dwell.

I have been sent to Miami, Florida to check on such a rumor. In this city of death, the Camarilla wage a losing battle against the Sabbat. Violence amongst kindred often spills out into the kine, killing hundreds each year in "drug related" crimes.

Perhaps the best way to describe Miami is as a city of addiction. With the kine amusing themselves with their little power plays involving drugs and power, and we kindred caught in the triple threat of the Camarilla, Sabbat, and Anarchs, over our addictions of blood and immortal power, I am surprised the city was not levelled long ago.

The rumor has to do with the latest designer drug, something known as "Wheat." Apparently, according to the rumor, it has the capabilities of PCP with little of the addiction. From the start, I can see that this is far too good to be true. However, it has worried Maxim in the extreme, so here I am.

The source of his concern has to do with the alleged effect on Kindred. As you already know, mortal drugs has little effect on kindred, unless present in the blood of a victim. I must take care in this city where drugs are so widely used to choose my prey, lest it drive me into frenzy. This drug, Wheat, accoriding to the rumors, actually diminished the Hunger in those who took it. Of all the things, this is the hardest to believe. However, I must explore every option. Maxim would expect no less.

Success! I have discovered a distributor of Wheat. On my first night, I entered a trendy club by the name of Circus Xtreme. Without using my second sight, it was appa rent who was kindred and who was kine. The heat is so great, no mortal could help from sweating profusely. As I was sizing up a potential prospect, an elegant man descended upon me, and spoke, "Unleashing the Beast, are we?" He looked deeply in my eyes, and beckoned me to a private room in the back.

"You seem more moral than the rest of the lick scum that frequent this place. Perhaps I can interest you in something that will permanatly leash the Beast within." He smiled broadly. I asked him to clarify.

"From out of town, are we? Positively everybody in Miami knows about Wheat." I told him I was unfamiliar. "Angelic bliss," he assured me. "One draught, and you'll KNOW..."

"Know _what_?"

"Peace and contentment for once in your damned life." He used no powers on me, and yet I was drawn to him, to the Wheat. "What do I have to give you to get some of this...stuff?" All he said was, "Your trust." He swirled his cloak, and apparently obfuscated. I did not see him again that night.

Everywhere I go, I find Kindred, normally in a seperate universe from the kine, mingling tightly. I have been chasing the distributor for two days now, with no luck. However, from the kindred wandering aimlessly, the need for the hunt strangely lanced, I have learned the full name of the drug is "Wheat-Eye." It comes in a red powder, which may be inhaled, imbibed, or mixed with a solution, and injected. Only through injection, however, can the drug be given to kindred, if any positive effect is expected.

It is so strange, kindred and kine walking amongst one another, the kindred seeming to have lost that predatory glint, the kine no longer silently trembling for no reason, as a demon passes. It is truly the lion laying with the lamb. If this is so, and the Son's words have come to pass, can the End be far behind?

None of the users of the drug know who the strange vampire was who met me two days ago. All know him, and all buy the drug from him, but other than his seemingly impossible omnipresence, he is wholly a creature of mystery. I am told that when I am ready to take the Wheat, he will deliver.

He came for me last night. With a flourish, he politely bowed and introduced himself as Astrus. Without volition, all caution was thrown to the winds. I began to blurt out questions: "Whom do you serve? Are you Sabbat or Camarilla?"

He cocked his head to the side, taken aback apparently by the fury of my queries. Realizing the nature of my questions, he smiled, and began to laugh hideously. "Why would you assume I could follow such a restrictive society? The fools are draining themselves dry!"

"Anarch, then?"

"Fool," he whispered, "You are not ready..." He turned to go.

"Wait...I want..." I stopped, not knowing quite what to say.

"This?" He reached elegantly into his overcoat, and removed a small plastic bag, filled with the red powder I knew was Wheat. I stared at my shoes. He was trying a power play, and I was losing...

"Here...I'll not leave you hanging." He tossed me the bag.

"What...what do I owe you?"

"If I was the normal pusher, your first "hit" would be free..." He smiled again. I hated that smile. "But I am no pusher. You must _want_ the Wheat. A nominal sacrifice. One hundred dollars."

What is money to a Vampire? I paid the fee readily.

He smiled faintly, and handed over the bag, the crimson dust sitting, waiting to be tasted...savored...I checked myself. _Analyzed_. I turned to leave.

"Hold," he called out. "You DO know how to use it, correct?" I waffled momentarily. He reached into his coat, and retrieved a slip of paper, a printout of some sort. He handed this to me, as well as a syringe. "A clean needle...we must be cautious about spreading AIDS in this day and age." He smiled broadly at his private joke, and then faded away into the crowd. The exchange had taken three minutes, but it seemed like three days. I was exhausted.

I shoved the powder and needle into my pocket, and turned to go. It was then I recalled that I had no means of contacting him again. How was I to obtain more...for research? A quick glance at my surroundings told me the answer. He would find me.

I should feel intense shame for what I have done, but I cannot.

I have used the Wheat.

It was a feeling far beyond the meagre ecstasy of the Kiss. The rush of the liquid through empty veins was equal to the sensual pleasure of crimson life flowing from a vessel within, but with one critical difference. No guilt.

A burden has been removed from my soul that I cannot describe. No kindred could, without feeling the pain of the Final Death. I now feel no guilt from taking life, no matter how small an amount, from another being. I now feel free.

That night I returned to the Circus, to seek more Wheat from my benefactor. While I waited, a woman approached me. I talked to her for nearly an hour. Never once did the urge to take cross my mind. I still cannot believe I actually _talked_ to her.

I tried to obtain twice the amount of Wheat, to send a sample to my Mentor, but he deffered. Although I did not tell the stranger my purposes, he knew. "Will your master use the Wheat? I doubt it."

When I returned to my haven, I tried to cut the amount, to save some for Maxim. However, as I fed it into my arm, I knew it was not enough. Somehow he knew the exact dosage required, and only gave me so much as I required.

The Hunger diminishes by leaps and bounds. The everpresent nagging, gnawing, craving is all but gone, as if the unquenchable fire was diminished by a palmful of red dust. Make no mistake, I still sense it, like a painful memotry of time lost. Ironic. An immortal creature, concerned about lost time How very...mortal.

It has just occured to me, after taking my third dose of Wheat, that I am addicted. I will not return to the taking of blood...ever. How different am I then, to one who is addicted to crack, or heroin. Except I know the drug will not kill me. It will keep me, and all my potential victims, all the more alive.

For the first time since my mission began, I have noticed that mortals also take Wheat. They tell me (those who talk, that is) that it is a rush unlike no other. I have even encountered one who was addicted to "horse" and felt no compulsion to take it again, once he had sampled Wheat. WHeat-freaks (as they are being called) are distinctive in that unless they take it intravenously, it is obvious they are using the drug.

The first clue is the eyes. No matter how a mortal takes it, her eyes invariably become a shade of red beyond "pink-eye" or bloodshot. It reminds me of the Gangrel ability to see in the dark, with the side effect of eyes that glow a hellish red. Although far from luminous, those mortals who use Wheat seldom stagger like normal addicts, their minds clouded. Instead, regardlessof light intensity, they can see clearly.

Another clue is whether they take the drug orally or nasally. If oral, the teeth are stained a mild red, as some vampires do, after a particularly intense feeding. If nasally ingested, the area below the nose becomes crimson. Whether this is blood, or merely spilled Wheat, I am not sure. I have not ventured to ask.

The level of violence in this city is shocking, and I am afraid the Wheat is not helping any. Two Wheat freaks fought it out in the bar. I am reminded of a vicious fight I saw back in New York, between two ghouls lusting with their master's blood. Both gouged into each other with fingers and teeth, untill blood flowed in scarlet ribbons from every part of their body. The fight was broken up by the police, but not before one of the combattants managed to wrest an arm off of his opponent. Officers on the scene blamed it on PCP, and the Sabbat members who sponsored this latter day cock fight collected their bets. I recall now never being more repulsed by what I saw that night, until now.

Here, two members of the same gang, one man and one woman, went at each other. As usual, the kine were highly excited by the waves of passion flowing from both, the bloodlust appealing to their darker half. The kindred for the most part, remained sedate. None seemed to be combatting the Inner Beast, struggling against the desire to lick the blood from the flowing wounds. THe use of Wheat here is greater than I originally imagined. The fight was ended, once again, by the arrival of the police. However, right before this, the woman managed to claw one of her opponents eyes out with her nails. When the police arrived, a strange thing occurred. My supplier appeared from out of the crowd, drew close to the male, and slipped something on his forearm. He then whispered something into the fighter's ear. I wanted to see what the stranger had done, so headed outside, before the police could exit with the prisoners. The thing on his arm resembled a nicotine patch, used to combat another kind of addiction. However, this patch seemed to have a slightly more dramatic effect. By the time the male had reached the car, five minutes and 90 feet, his eye had completely healed.

Maxim knows I am not one to engage in idle speculation, but I find the evidence too compelling. What a fool I have been! All the signs have been there, and yet I chose to ignore them. A red powder, with the ability to stave off the Hunger. Dried vitae! Of course! I am repulased by my find. Perhaps in some dark warehouse somewhere, the Sabbat have created new lick, fed them mortal blood, and allowed the change into vitae, before removing and condensing it into Wheat. How long has such a practice gone on? How much suffering is contained in every drop of this blood? I feel the urge to cut my wrists, and let the contaminants flow out. I will cut today's sample into two parts. One I will send to Maxim, and the other I will give to a Tremere loyal to my master, who specializes in the path of blood. Perhaps he can give me more immediate answers as to the source of this poison.

As for me: I have given my vow. I will NOT feed again. I only pray my speculations are unfound, for if this drug contains the taint of the Sabbat, I do no know what I shall do, before the Hunger gets too great, and the Beast seizes me.

After waiting for three hours in a moldering alchemical lab, Gustaf returned with a puzzled expression on his face.

"Is it...vitae?"

"No..." he answered slowly, as if still puzzing over an imponderable. "I have studied mortal blood, as well as all known types of clan blood. THis..." he held up a test tube of crimson fluid, "THis is new. Remarkably close to Ventrue, if anything, but definitly synthetic. Someone apparently has made an artificial supply of vitae!"

He questioned me to no end on where I had obtained the sample. I rebuffed his questions, explaining that I knew little about the supplier. He reminded me of the great boon such a discovery would mean to kindred around the world, and urged me to find out as much as I could, as quickly as possible. I promised him that I would do my best.

As I walked out the door, he stopped me. "Something else...something strange. A goodly portion of this powder is laced with heroin. I thought nothing of it, since such an amount would do little to kindred, unless mixed with the blood of a vessel, and the passion of the hunt. I tried to filter the drug out, but as soon as I did, the solution coagulated and turned foul. It should have no effect on us, but I shudder to think what the solution would do to a mortal."

I know what it can do to a mortal, for I have seen it first-hand. It gives them the Beast, but one they are ill-able to control.

I have decided for my own good, to resume taking Wheat. Gustaf almost staked me after a particularly uncharacteristic fit of temper on my part. I am forced to recall those poor mortal souls who, shackled to their drug, will do anything to get it. Even murder. Being kindred, means being already addicted in such a way. Before these modern times, many vampires did not care who they harmed or killed in their quest to quench the Hunger one more night. ALthough I am cautious that my supplier may try blackmail, once I am entirely reliant on Wheat, I can see no other way, A solution has been given to me that will harm none but myself. If a time comes in the future where my addiction to Wheat, will force me to hurt again...then I will deal with that when the time comes.

A near riot broke out on the main club strip last night. The male in the middle of the fray looked very much like an Anarch, or a Brujah. Indeed, his ability to deal out damage, and take bone crushing hits compelled me to stare into his soul, to see if he really was kindred.

The flickering paleness manifest in his aura, coupled with the shades of rage and pain, convinced me he was Kindred. I was momentarily distracted by another pale aura in the crowd of fighters. And another. And another. I honestly thought that I had been made acquainted with most of the kindred in this area of town. Yet in this fight, 10 out of the approximately 40 rioters were kindred. Had they not taken Wheat? Were they kindred, addicted to Wheat, but still feeling the psychological compulsion to hurt others? Or worse yet: were they poor souls who the supplier had decided to cut off, and left to fend for themselves? Would this be _my_ fate? I had to ask the Brujah.

I used my gifts to glide through the crowd unchallenged. Just as I reached the brute, a flash of steel echoed throughout the mob. A young tough drew out an automatic, and cut into the brujah. He fell, and I moved out of instinct, to catch him. The blood poured through my fingers, its warmth jolting me. He...it was ALIVE! His aura was that of a kindred, but he was kine.

The wailing of police sirens shook me from my trance. As I slipped into the night, I checked again. The auras were skewed. Many in the crowd, red of cheek, and full of life, faintly glowed their true emotions. Somehow wheat made kindred more kine, and kine more kindred. Aand there seemed to be no healthy intermediary. With the rage and the strength of one of my kind, but none of the supernatural endurance, the mortals were ripping themselves apart.

I have returned to my Haven after a night of pain and confusion similar only to the night I was embraced. Miami is boiling over in pain and anxiety. THe media is blaming this freneticism on a combination of troubles, from the trial of noriega, to the refusal of the boat people, to the impending death of Castro. Only I, it seems, knows the truth. It is the Wheat.

I came upon the stranger while crossing the park in front of Circus Xtreme. He smiled a sly grin, and reached into his pocket, reaching for more of the blissful powder. Summing up the last of my reserves, I asked him to stop. I knew in my mind that I was now completely under his control, hopelessly addicted to Wheat, but for a time, he did not know this.

"What's wrong, Cole?"

I ignored the fact that I had never given him my name. "Who are you. The truth, this time."

"Who would you like me to be?"

I grew angry, a hot passion echoing in my veins. "ENOUGH OF THE GAMES!" I paused, containing mysef, "Please..."

He sighed in frustration. "I am a reflection, a dismal memory of a darker time, a handful of shattered mirrors you must clench tightly, lest you recall anew. I give vampires the taste of humanity, and mortals the taste of immortality. Most importantly, regardless of effect, I am needed. By you, and by them." He politely gestured to the mortals, slowly moving away from the combat zone. "Just the _taste_ of forever makes their lives all the more meaningful, regardless of 'costs.' It's something you licks never quite understood. Some see the Embrace as a horrid curse, and your existence damned for all time. Others see it as a blessing, and covet the secret like a shiny bauble. And all for the same reason: Vitae."

There was something wrong with the way he said it...something old, ancient. It escaped me for the moment. He continued

"The good are repuled by the fact that they must take warm sticky blood from an innocent and unsuspecting human populace. Kine, you call them? Cattle? Are you that far above them, that far seperate? Do they have noting to offer you other than a snack? The toreadors take their art as their own, but if one is truly gifted, he will be taken from the populace and "elevated" into true talent. As if his gifts were so mediocre before." Sarcasm dripped from his mouth, as if he had recently fed.

"The evil amongst you wish only to keep the herd alive. They do not deny their nature, but they foolishly think that they were never one of these "kine." Truly, the higher they get, the more distant, the more tragic the fall, as the wooden spear descends into the only part of them still in touch with life.

"Humans are oh so much more than any of you would guess. You are lobotomized in the Embrace! They Hunger, just the same, except their passions can create, and not destroy. The only thing they lack, the only thing they require, is the taste of forever, running down their lips, coursing in their veins.

"You asked me what I was...very well. I will tell you the truth. I am the Great Equalizer, the Grand Reaver. My actions are as beyond your scope as the machinations of the Kindred are beyond the kine they lord over. I only seem horrific when compared with the likes of the rest of your kind."

He left me then, alone, on the cooling streets of Miami.

After three days, I have returned to my senses. I sit, writing this page, with once warm blood caked on my cheeks, gore coating my fingers. Any emotion I could express in written form would be hollow and paltry compared to the hell I dwell in now.

After my conversation, I returned to my Haven, desiring time to think, to be alone with my thoughts. Much have I done over the past ten days, when I first tasted Wheat, that I have not told you, simply because I felt it inconsequential or non of your business. I grew greatly disturbed when I realized the amount of times I had openly praised the drug to every kindred I met. So concerned was I about the effect on mortals, I did not imagine how threatening it could be to vampires. I also never mentioned Vivian, a woman I had met in the clubs.

All I really recall was the faintest of pains in my abdomen, a throwback to my mortality, when I hadn't eaten enough. After our talk, the wheat I filled myself with seemed less satisfying, less filling. I slowly sank into my bed, filled not with the exhaustion of knowing the oppressive effects of the sun weighing on everything around me, somewhere, beyond my sight, but rather an emotional weariness I had not felt in a terribly long time.

The dream I had that night was vividly read. I sailed through the streets, determined to feed until every pore in my body expunged crimson life. I came first ot a club, where a gang was just getting kicked out by the bouncer. They approached me as if in slow motion, and one reached into his pocket, drawing something out. My hand flashed, as I briskly grabbed his throat, and whipped him into a wall. Seeing the look in my eyes, none dared challenge me. All the while, I saw threats everywhere and everywhen I looked. Threats that needed to be put down in the service of my master, my god Maximillian.

I entered the club, unchallenged by the bouncer. Vivian was there, and smiled uneasily at my approach. There were three men with her, and I ordered them to leave. Gone was the spinless worm who had refused her advances. I told her I wanted her...I wanted to take her. She began to struggle, but reaching from deep within myself, I snapped off her self control, like a light switch, with a flash of my eyes..

At that point she faded into the dream stuff, and I saw myself as a reaver, cutting through the chaff of mortal society. I killed many times, relishing in the death, in the final gurgle, as I let just enough blood escape to flood the windpipe, and sound a death rattle. I imagined myself a toreador, making beautiful, final music.

All the while, the dream was no nightmare. Never once did regret enter my soul, never once did I even consider my actions. I awoke to find my foot afire, as the sun slowly rose in the east. I was sitting in the doorway of my haven, with an incredible sense of wellbeing. I stood, and moved quickly to avoid the sun's rays. Entering the cool depths of my haven, I slipped on something on the floor.

Snapping on the lights, I saw it was Vivian. All over the room. Covering the walls, bed, table. It really should have been impossible to tell it was Vivian, but I knew. The air smelled of her, and the blood on my fingers tasted of her.

I sat in a corner of the room, and waited for the dream to end. It did not. Instead, a heavy knocking came to the door. "Get away..." a voice called out, "I'm coming in."

As the noonday sun washed in, Astrus crossed thr threshold. "You've redecorated...how nice. I like your...taste." He bent low, as the door closed behind him. He ran a finger through the blood on the floor, and scooped it into his mouth. "I like hers, too."

I had not the strength to move. I could not fight him. His will blazed more powerful than any sun ever could, and I could not lash back. At that point, I did not want to.

"So how did you enjoy your final lesson in addiction? So few of you righteous minded bastards pay me a visit, I sometimes forget how fun it can be to twist your soul until it breaks." He smiled. "Impressed by my...product? I aim to please."

He paced the room, found a reasonably clean chair, and sat. "I am not one of you. I am much...older. And not quite. A delicious conundrum. I do want to see you destroyed. All of you. One by one, you will all fall down. And my vengeance on your kind will be complete."

Somehow, a voice came from my lips. "Not everyone will take the Wheat. The Sabbat..."

"The Sabbat only follow the masquerade when and if it suits their purpose. The onlt thing that keeps it going is you...the Camarilla. All the righteous ones who see unlife as a curse. You will take Wheat, and it will make you one of them. ANd then you will not care about the pathetic MAsquerade. When that happens, the wrath of the kine will be on your heads. Proof will instill faith, as ironic as that sounds, and you horrid creatures will be driven back into the blackness from whence Cain dragged you.

"I have come here now to discuss options. You may continue to take Wheat. Within a few days, it will numb your mind and soul, and you will forget you unleashed the Beast...until it comes for you again. You may go your own way, which is possible, but I doubt it. The weight on your soul is too great, the enormity of your sins too foul. Indeed, as I see it, there is but one option. Extinguish yourself. Release yourself from the stranglehold the Beast has on you, that _I_ have on you. End the torment. You'll thank yourself." He gazed on the ground. "Vivian will thank you, too."

"Farewell, Cole. I shall not pass this way again."

Throwing a heavy blanket over me, he opened the door, and passed out into the day. I remained there, until I made a decision. It took all of two minutes.

I write this as my last act, mortal and immortal. I curse you, Maxim, for extending my life, for cheating me of the peaceful death I deserved. When I am done, I will remove the shades, kiss Vivian one last time, and behold the sun in all of its regal, cleansing glory one last time. ANd perhaps then, I will forget. Although I doubt it.

Consummatum Est.

Maxim slammed the book shut heavily. Brian came to his side, and waited for the Elder to speak. "Is this all you found?"

"That...the room as he described it..and a pile of ashes. He is gone from us. I searched the room thorougly. Nothing else was found. I then hired a gang to firebomb the place. The owner has been well compensated."

"What of this...Astrus?"

"An enigma, to be certain. A few know his name, but nothing else. He has great power. Perhaps a Demon, or a magi."

"Poor, poor Gerald...I sent you into the lion's den. Will the Prince of Miami talk? "

"He claims there's no problem. Decidedly laisse faire. Brujah, remember?"

"What of the Wheat? Anything new?"

"Not much. Our chemists agree with Gustaf. A synthetic form of Ventrue vitae, with heroin added in, apparently as a stabilizer. Our agents have seen it introduced as west as Dallas, as north as Pittsburg. They're using the same supply lines as the normal drug trade. The DEA thinks it's a designer form of PCP. Only Astrus controls distribution in Miami, however."

"See if he cannot be followed. We must bring him down first, find out what he is, and why he hates us. I feel he fuels this enterprise. Bring him down, and it crumbles."

"We have tried confrontation...he merely whips our men into submission, and injects them with Wheat. They report back once, and then fade away. He's too potent."

"Damn you, Brian! Did you read this thing? He's after ALL of us, and not just Miami. This is no inconvenience like the Sabbat. He mans to destroy us all, and he has the tools to do it. He MUST be stopped."

Brian accepted the fury. He deserved it. He did not know the importance until it was too late. Until Gerald, his brother, was dead. "I will get right on it."

"Do so. Or this will make Gehenna seem to be an acceptable alternative."

Gamenotes: It began with Diego Hernandez, a member of the Medellin cartel. He was being primed for a top position in that organization, and subsequently had to learn how it worked. While touring operations stateside, he fell in love with a club, and decided to use it as his base of operations. He was politely informed it was not for sale. Perhaps, with a little redecorating, he thought, the owner might reconsider, perhaps even bring the price down.

He sent a few of his boys in to shoot up the place. One returned, sans teeth. The others were never seen again. Diego took matters into his own hands. He entered there himself, with fifteen of his men, all packing guns. The owner asked to see Diego personally. Diego went in with three of his men. The moment they passed through the door, Diego's grunts from the first raid, a weird look in their eyes, took out his present bodyguards. The owner made his presence known. He was a 7th generation Ventrue called Haldecott, himself being primped for Prince of Miami. He called Diego a revolting slug, and drained him of all but enough blood to keep him alive, vomiting it back into his face. THen he told his ghouls to escort Diego out.

DIego was raised a good Catholic in the mountains of Columbia. He recovered, and knew how to combat this menace. He armed his men with stakes, and descended on Haldecott's Haven, capturing him unawares. Diego recaptured the ghouls, and questioned them about their new found resilience. All they recalled was being fed Haldecott's blood. He knew that if he could get his chemists, the best in the world, to make more of this stuff, his men would be unbeatable. He shipped Haldecott home.

Experiment after experiment failed. THe compound was just too complex, just too unstable. Most of the time, it disintegrated in contact with air, not to mention the sun. Finally, one scientist fasiled to clean up after a previous experiment, and got some cocaine in the mixture. It remained! Another drug, then was needed to stabilize the mixture. Of all the ones found, the best was a mixture of heroin and cocaine with the compound. Only a timy amount of the narcotics were necessary to effect the stabilization, and Diego was in business.

However, he noticed the guards he gave it to became much more violent, much more feral. They seldom used guns, preferring to do the damage with fists and teeth. When word got on the streets that a new drug was needed, Diego realized that this was the one. The underworld would tear itself apart, and he would be there to pick up the pieces, and rule. He was all ready to move, when he met Astarus.

The man was waiting for him to land the boat when he arrived. He had no past, and looked little better than a bum. A mere flash of the eyes, however, and they were talking business. Astarus would handle distribution in Miami, selling the drug, and taking all the heat. DIego would reap in the profits, and plan expansion. His advisors found this funny, since Diego previously stated that the drug wouldn't leave Miami.

Astarus gave it the name as well. Wheat-Eye, which one of DIego's men shortened to wheat. Another asked "Why that funny name?" Astarus replied, "Ah, Church Latin, what have you done to the language!"

The drug is incredibly popular, as it can be administered orally, intravenously, nasally, and through a slap patch.

Game Effects: For all intents and purposes, one dose of wheat counts as one point of vitae. Kindred must inject the drug, or else it has no effect. This can be used to raise stats, fuel spells, heal self, trigger celerity, or anything else vitae is used for. However, it cannot be fed to a drained mortal to make him kindred.

In reality, Wheat does nothing. It gives the user the illusion that one point of blood has been regained, but in fact, that person is slowly starving. When her Blood Pool reaches zero, it triggers a horrible frenzy. The vampire must drain victims until her pool is full, at which point, the frenzy can be subsided, though at a difficulty of 3 + the amount of times the Wheat was taken.

Wheat also is very addictive. Every time someone tries to resist taking Wheat, the base difficulty is 6, but for every time wheat is taken, one less Willpower die is rolled. Expending three points of willpower will free you from the Wheat addiction. To break the addicition without expending willpower, only "cold turkey" will work. Every day, the vampire must make a willpower roll with a difficulty starting at 3 + the amount of times Wheat was taken. Every day that goes by, one difficulty is subtracted, until the difficulty is zero. A botch means that the vampire is back to the starting point, and must get Wheat within the hour to avoid frenzy (diff 3 + Wheat taken).

After the "Final Frenzy," as Astarus calls it, a vampire awakening fully recalls the horror of his actions. He must then make a Humanity check with a diff. equal to 3 + amount of times Wheat was taken. A botch shows that _2_ points of humanity was lost. When the Final Frenzy occurs, the lick is free from wheat addiction, but some, believing it an unfortunate one time side effect, try again to achieve Golconda through a needle.

Mortals fare little better. One dose of Wheat turns them into a Ghoul. They gain Potence 1 and Fortitude 1. Every time they take more than one a day, they can store up the wheat as kindred do blood, to heal or push stats up. A strange quality allows Wheat to work correctly in humans, giving them many vampiric abilities.

After four doses are taken, a Wheatghoul's aura turns pale, like a kindred's. They can Frenzy, and when they do, their eyes glow a soft red. Their appearence grows gaunt, much like a vampire. However, none of the penalties are applied, although while in frenzy, they will go for blood.

Resisting the addiction is as kindred. Mortals have a version of the "Final Frenzy" where a person rolls his willpower daily, with a difficulty equal to the amount of times wheat is taken. When a roll is failed, or after the tenth time, the final frenzy occurs. The mortal will pick a target, living or not, and proceed to demolish it. If the object is taken away from her sight, the freak will pick another target. THis will continue until the object is destroyed. The moment final frenzy occurs, the addiction is over. Alas, the ride is all too incredible to pass on, and many mortals try again.