The halls of Frost Industries were far quieter now than they had been while La Magra was in residence, and not only because the god himself was gone. Adrien missed, by mere chance, the massacre that killed so many of the vampires of the city. And when he returned to Los Angeles, it was to find a small group of vampires hiding together with several captive humans, taking turns drawing blood from them with a needle to keep them alive as long as possible. When questioned, they spoke of a sickness that began before Adrien left and of a massacre in the heart of the city.
At first, it had been mere habit that led to him giving orders to those terrified survivors. Ever out for himself and always on the lookout for a way to profit from others, he ensured these handfuls of survivors continued to live to give himself time to decide whether they would be more useful to him dead or alive. It wasn't until one night, when he was supervising a group of human contractors cleaning up the Afterdark that it came to him, as his hand drifted into a jacket pocket and he found the old-fashioned necklace that smelled vaguely of Pepper. Of course.
Now, Adrien had a purpose for them all. His first calls had been to several mob acquaintances. One, to a man in Las Vegas that ran the local blood bank. Enough units of blood to feed Frost's remaining vampires were written off as aid to plague-stricken Los Angeles. They would be flown in regularly since the local blood could not be trusted. When asked by the Chicago Boss, he pointed out how much Frost Industries owned in Los Angeles. A tidy sum of money, waiting for someone to hold the reins. The Boss was pleased.
His next few calls were to various people needed to bring the company back to full strength. Many of them were contractors that Frost Industries had hired in the past for work. The clubs were to be put back together and restocked. The people or vampires who balked at taking orders from Adrien learned quickly not to bring their concerns to Adrien himself, or to even think about them in his presence.
The first group to do so were treated to a sweet smile from the white-haired vampire, a reminder that Deacon Frost and Pepper were still missing, and one of their number gutted in front of them. The second man to question him openly disappeared, and except for rumors of screams coming from the old holding cells, was not heard from again, until a few weeks later when a security tape was left playing in an employee lounge. Other vampires wisely decided that, at least to his face, Adrien was in charge. Still, he had a way of looking at them and deciding which ones were reliable and which weren't, and the unreliable ones were slowly weeded out. One got a bad batch of blood, the last that was still on hand from the blood farms, and died a horrible death while Adrien looked on curiously.
Another had been spreading rumors about their new boss. Rumors about his sanity, about his feeding habits, even about Deacon Frost and Pepper's continued absence, which could only mean they'd been betrayed! For this vampire, Adrien saved his most graphic and most effective demonstration. For a group used to swift, violent, and obvious retribution for misdeeds, Adrien's far more subtle warnings had gone unheeded by some. Not anymore. He invited them all to the roof of the Afterdark, where the one who had been spreading the rumors was tied up. The vampire had been flayed alive. When he opened his mouth, it was obvious that his tongue and fangs had been cut out. As the horrified spectators looked on, a bloody Adrien grinned and cut away a strip of skin that had begun to heal and grow back.
“I trust that I have your attention now. Until Mr. Frost shows up, I am in charge. I will tolerate no questions and no doubts. I want all of my orders obeyed to the letter, or your suffering will be far greater than this piece of shit's. And I may not let you die.” Then he turned and motioned for them all to go back inside. The other vampires watched in horror as a security camera caught those first deadly rays of the morning...and the violent, screaming fireball that erupted on the roof of the Afterdark.
For the rest of the vampires, then, life went somewhat back to normal as Adrien oversaw the rebuilding of the empire. His mood was mercurial, and it took little more than a thought or even boredom to earn his wrath, but Adrien did manage to get Deacon Frost's company back in shape, even bigger than it had been. Adrien ruthlessly acquired clubs and bars that had belonged to victims of the “plague”. And finally, when most of the clubs were nearly ready to reopen, he arranged for an inspector to come from Las Vegas to check the security systems.
His recommendations were ignored, however. The file was tossed to his desk and Adrien said, “Thank you for your work, but Silver Security Services still holds a contract with Frost Industries. I will contact Ms. Silver and let her know the company's needs.”
“Of course, sir.” He was waved away, and left the building hurriedly, glad to be away from the white-haired vampire.
Adrien turned to the laptop on his desk and put the CD that had been provided by the inspector into the drive. For some things, Adrien loathed this technology, but for this, he allowed himself a small shiver of wicked glee. There would be no searching for Pepper. This message would find her, letting her know his needs...the company's needs. And she would respond.
Subject: Security Needs as of January 28, 2010
As acting CEO of Frost Industries, I have had the unenviable task of rebuilding what was left after that horrible plague. I believe Frost Industries still has a contract with your company. As such, I would appreciate it if you could take a look at the enclosed report and arrange for the problem areas to be fixed as soon as possible. I understand the...circumstances...that have led to your sudden departure from Los Angeles, but I trust they will not affect your work.
You will find that none of your security systems have been tampered with. I will trust them to your expert care, Pepper, ma chere.
Acting CEO – Frost Industries