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Ventrue: The Silent Art of the Monitor

by: Cassius Augustan A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

First off, I am not a Monitor. Let me make that perfectly clear from the outset. These writings are merely my own observations on the subject, based on my experiences.

However, as Ventrue, we all understand the importance of knowing when to sit, shut up and pay attention. If you don't, well, I hate to say it but I'm afraid you're just not going to last much longer. Don't get me wrong. There are times when you have to stand up and assert yourself. Be that as it may, you know by now that, as Sun Tzu once said, it is the mark of the wise man who knows when to fight and when not to fight; more often than not, it is better to stay the hand and keep one's dignitas.

To understand one's enemy, you must learn about one's enemy. This means careful study, not abject, meaningless loathing. Sure, she made a wormfeast our of your VP-Finance just before the merger went through. Sure, she must pay. But instead of blowing everything you have fought for with hasty retribution, bite your ego, knock up a blood doll or two and get a grip on the situation. The time has come for patience.

That's the first rule of surveillance, and quite frankly, it's a no-brainer. If you don't have any patience, well, might as well go for a walk in the woods now and get it over with. Careful surveillance requires concentration, focus, and above all, patience.

Now that we understand that, the question becomes: how do we go about our surveillance? We can watch her, to be sure. However there are plenty of ways to watch someone or something; simply keeping her in line-of-sight is important, but only the grossest amateurs stop there. Besides, it becomes moot if the individual you are watching is a mortal. And further, the rules change again if that which you are watching is a corporation, a political entity or a variety of media. This essay restricts itself to kine and Kindred, mainly because the rules governing surveillance of other entities are wholly different and are probably worth their own essay altogether.
Mortals

The Unknowing are the easiest to surveil... and of course, the most difficult. Mortals live under the veil of ignorance, and that renders them unable to watch for the eye of the Kindred, for they do not even consider it to be possible. They cannot know to beware the shadows, so confident in their sciences are they. They do not understand their nightmares, so they disregard them and cast them aside as irrelevant. They dismiss their notions of being watched; they do not wish to seem paranoid to their peers.

However, they are protected for most of their waking lives by that which is the bane of Kindred existence. They transact their business in the light of the sun, making them near impossible to study by conventional means. However you, being the resourceful and crafty Ventrue that you are, are certainly not left powerless.

First you must track their movements. The first step is to find something that they always carry with them: a wallet, a purse, a cellphone... something that never leaves their side. It can be something as simple as a ring of keys. A wristwatch. A pendant. Wedding band. Even a set of dentures. With today's technology, anything is possible.

Once you've located such an object, bug it. Install a transponder that can transmit position information over a coded frequency to a GPS satellite. It may be necessary to bug several such items; the more the merrier, however make sure that two bugged items are not traveling in different directions at the same time. Don't bug a set of keys if the keys are regularly turned over to a spouse, for instance.

If you can't find such an object, bug her vehicles. Twice. That's two bugs, and make them both near-impossible to find. If you are forced to resort to this, keep in mind that anyone can drive a car or fly a helicopter, and take all your findings with a grain of salt.

That's the first step. Next, get familiar with their credit history and reports. Stay on top of their money. Always follow the money. You will learn ninety percent of what makes someone tick by simply watching her spending habits. Where does she like to shop? Does she shop at WalMart or Sears? Does she buy clothes at Target or Lerner New York? Does she buy a lot of music? Does she like lots of bath oils and fragrances? Does she work out? Does she have exorbitant bar tabs? All of this information can be had simply by getting online and finding the right information, and it is the simplest way to learn as much as possible about a mortal's daytime activities in the shortest amount of time.

That's money going out. While you are online, visit the IRS and track her tax records. Find out how much money she has coming in, and where it comes from. Find out how many homes and vehicles she owns. Find out where her investments are and who handles her portfolio. If you really want to find out what possessions she considers valuable, find out what she has insured, and for a measure of that value to her, get the policy amounts. You'd be surprised how many trinkets and irrelevant toys mortals will insure. These are valuable to you. These are things you can bargain with.

Next, tap her phones, and that means every one of them. Home, business, mobile, pager, the works. If she has dedicated lines for fax and data, tap those too. Track every phone call she makes and look at the patterns. This does not mean look at the numbers, nod your head and say, "Okay." It means look at them... and think. Cross-reference the phone records with everything else you know about her. Why would she be calling Paris at one-thirty in the morning, the night before she's meeting with her biggest client? Why would she have spent four hours talking with her husband and then, two hours later, spend fifteen dollars on hard liquor at the bar? Why does she only call certain people from the cellphone, but never at home or work? You have all the time in the world to find the answers my friend, and the more you know, the more powerful an adversary you make yourself.

Finally, assemble a manifest of the people she surrounds herself with. Bosses, clients, friends, family, lovers, employees, gardeners, parole officers. This list can never be too short, but organize it well, and make sure you know where the gamuts overlap. The same person can be both client, friend and lover. This information is gold to you. Find out whom she trusts, whom she confides in, whom she sleeps with, whom she despises. When you are confident you have found someone who is significant to her, you might try Dominating him into spilling his guts. (Figuratively.) This is how some of the most important little factoids about a person can become yours. Pay attention to those she doesn't trust, too. These people have dirt on her. Much of it may be embellished bullshit, but there are always pearls of truth to be found. No mortal has fewer than one skeleton in the closet.

And now we return to patience. Amass your knowledge base. Cross-reference and compare. Think. Now she is yours.
Kindred

Much of the above can be applicable here, but keep in mind that Kindred are just as resourceful as you are, so what was easy for the Unknowing can be exceedingly difficult to accomplish for a Cainite. At minimum, you should at least try. Getting a bug on their person will be extraordinarily more difficult, so I do not recommend the risk, but you can at least bug her vehicles and if you're lucky, find her haven and bug her clothes. Kindred as a rule are much more perceptive and paranoid, so be prepared to get in there and bug her again and again, in different places each time. Get creative. Arrange to have a transponder made to be the thickness of a hair, and stash it in her scrunci. Or put one in the cap of the pen she keeps in her suit pocket.

Kindred of course are bound by the same handicaps; you can follow her. That means follow her everywhere. If she stays at the office all night, you are there all night and you'd better pay attention. Get a good set of binoculars or a telescope. You may think at first that infrared will not do you much good; that is true of course, unless she has just fed. Get the setup anyway and use it. Further, install listening devices in her office, vehicles and residence, if you can find such a place. (Keep in mind that listening devices are worthless unless you actually listen to the tapes, and again, that means all of them. I never said this wouldn't be boring. But do you want to own this person, or don't you?)

Use all of the same techniques above for obtaining cash flow data, but keep in mind that most Kindred have very keen senses and are aware when someone is checking on them. Be prepared to follow their goose chase to reestablish their passwords and other means of access. And be on the lookout all the time to see if you've been duped with someone else's records.

As before, a Kindred's coterie is a goldmine of valuable information for you. Keep tabs on whom she socializes with, whom she trusts and doesn't trust, whom she spends her evenings with and who handles her finances. Chart who among them knows whom and whether the ties are amiable or antagonistic. Follow up these leads. Find out what you can with one-on-one sitdowns and make deadly sure they forget they ever met you.

One final note about Kindred. If they get a whiff of you on their tail, you might as well kiss them goodbye. Be very very careful about keeping your surveillance eclipsed, and be ready with a battery of coverups and alibis in case the lid is blown. I'll say it again; the Kindred are among the most paranoid beings on the planet, if they see you or even feel you coming, they will either turn on you with all they've got (what have they to lose?) or disappear without a trace, and all your hard work, effort and time will be for zilch.

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