Friday, 13 September 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Forty Five - Anathema (Part Two)

I'm currently running a Vampire the Masquerade chronicle using the 5th Edition rule-set for a small group of fellow role-players. These are the chronicles of their adventures.
Our campaign is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to search for ways to once again bring the Ivory Tower to dominance under the pretence of being disillusioned neonates looking for the freedom of the Anarch way of life. Now with a barony of their own it's time to consolidate their position and then plan their next move.
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The now obligatory warning bit - Unlike my other RPG write-ups this one will contain swearing, sexual references and other references that might offend. If you can't tell the difference between real peoples opinions and grown-ups role-playing predators who crave blood then this probably won't be for you. I've also used actual photographs to represent some characters which I'll give acknowledgements to at the end if I've any idea who they are.
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The introduction to this campaign, the first story and all the other parts can be found at the following links and are in chronological order. If you'd prefer a summary of each session rather than read everything then there's a more detailed link page HERE as well as links to the first episode of each story in the blog sidebar.
'Infiltrate LA' Chronicle
Welcome to L.A. - Introductory Session
Story One - 'Three Murders' - Part OneTwo, ThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - One
Story Two - 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part OneTwoThree, and Four
Solo Session - 'The Neillson Library'
Story Two Continued- 'The Pasadena Problem' - Part FiveSixSeven and Eight
Story Three - 'Becoming Baron' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Gather'
Story Three Continued - 'Becoming Baron' - Part SixSeven and Eight
'Foothold LA' Chronicle
Solo Session - 'Hostile Takeover'
Story Four - 'Countdown' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Five - 'The Missing Chantry' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Solo Session - 'The Anaheim Assassination'
Story Six - 'A Meeting of Barons' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seven - 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eight - 'The Blount Sisters' - Part One and Two
Story Nine - 'Blood Money' - Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, Baron of Pasadena
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, Sheriff
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, Scourge
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, Mob Accountant
The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian, Seneschal
Marie - House Carna, Occult Advisor

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested. There's also some minor 'house-rules' HERE that have occurred as we went along.

As I have written out introductions and dialogue for certain NPC's and some location descriptions I'll post these more or less as I wrote them so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style and they'll also be in blue so you can tell them apart from the more traditional write-up sections and occasionally an obscure Malkavian premonition will turn up in purple. If I think something needs a bit of out of character explanation then those will get a storytellers note that will helpfully be in red. Anything covered via player handouts will also be in blue as they're written in the same style as introductions and the like. Where particular NPC's have a mention in a faction profile you will be able to reach it by clicking on their name beneath their picture.

Introduction
Michael's Hollywood ally, Velvet Velour has arranged a party at her club in order for him to talk with Karen Anatos, the de-facto baron of Burbank. She has arranged for it to appear to be a chance meeting, merely saying that a "fan with resources" will be there. This simple matter has been made complicated by the fact that the coterie and several locations significant to the kindred of Los Angeles seem to be under observation by unknown forces.

Storytellers Note - This session was quite long as the players really wanted to deal with all their enemies. So you might want to fetch your self a refreshing beverage before you begin.

Scene Five - The Party
'Vin', Brujah - Looking for Answers
Michael seduced a couple of gallery customers the next evening as he hadn't fed for several nights and he didn't wish to go to an important occasion with the beast gnawing at him. He was however somewhat relieved to discover that none of his people had spotted any sign of the mysterious vans or the pursuit vehicles they had encountered yesterday so at least the gallery seemed to be a safe location.

Not quite as reassured as his baron, Vin had deployed the small army of homeless people that he still used as his eyes and ears in return for his protection throughout the area and some of these had taken the role of runners to relay information on any strangers to Vin directly.

He had also circulated the description around the street girls just in case. Meanwhile, some of his own security team members had been stationed on the buildings roofs with binoculars and instructions to relay the location of any suspicious vehicles to the Brujah personally. It was obvious to all concerned that any threat to the barony was going to be dealt with directly by the coteries enforcer.

Keith Chang's Pipe Bombs
Michael had two of his security people accompany them to Vesuvius along with Dion and Daniel as driver and bodyguard respectively. Hope was instructed to watch from the air in raven form and search for any pursuit that might occur.

Unable to absorb much more than her clothes into her metamorphosised form she gave her axe and shotgun to Daniel to put in his car. Daniel had his usual compliment of weapons as well as a selection of pipe-bombs built by his ghoul Keith Chang. He figured he might need something that made a bigger bang than his handgun should he need to kill a car rather than a person. Dion was also instructed to take a different route there than he had last time, though he did say that this had been his intention anyway.

Dion - Ghoul of Fiorenza Savona
Current Assignment - Michael Tomassio
Vesuvius had a sign up that stated it was closed for a private party and there was valet parking gradually filling the parking area with a selection of expensive cars of a variety of makes. Dion waved away the valet parking person though he tipped him anyway and parked the car himself. He selected a space from which he could make a quick escape should his baron require it and loosened his pistol in it's holster just in case.

The Yakuza security men on the door had been given expensive suits to wear for the event but it was obvious that they were her usual people 'brushed up' As they approached the entrance, Daniel dropped into place in his role as Michael's bodyguard and asked the guards to inform him if they saw any-one they didn't recognise loitering about. It became obvious to Daniel that the doormen were indeed paying attention as just behind him, a guest unable to persuade them to their satisfaction of his identity was turned away. 'Turned away' so vigorously in fact that he hit the ground several metres from where he had started arguing with them. Satisfied that basic precautions were being taken, Daniel caught up with Michael.

Velvet Velour - Toreador
Exotic Dancer and Club Owner
A number of minor celebrities, officials not concerned about being connected with a party at a strip club and a selection of toadying sycophants and wannabes filled the room along with the expected selection of beautiful women in their underwear employed by Miss Velour. Daniel noted that the majority of the minor celebs had their own security people and bodyguards but none impressed him in any way. As Michael entered and navigated the few who recognised him from his work as an artist, Velvet separated herself from a horde of admirers and greeted him. "Michael, so glad you could make it. I have someone you just have to meet..."

As VV approached Karen, those she wished to stay in her presence did so and those who she would rather went away inexplicably felt the need to obey some compulsion they didn't understand as they began to feel uncomfortable hanging around. Michael was aware that kindred abilities were being used but they were so interwoven into Velvet Velour's persona that they seemed to happen automatically and without conscious effort on her part.

Michael found himself becoming a little bit jealous at her effortless mastery of their clans signature abilities. Within moments and without a word spoken the group consisted of exactly those Miss Velour wished to be there. "Karen dearest, this is Michael, he's a big fan of yours, well, when he's not busy running his gallery or helping charitable causes that is." She gave Michael a conspiratorial wink. "You two chat while I go and mingle a little..."

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema
'Mistress Black'
Michael began by expressing his admiration for the work of Miss Anatos "Please, call me Karen..." and began to chat knowledgeably about her various film and television exploits, name-dropping Leanna but not mentioning the particular movie just in case it looked like he was being insincere.

Karen enquired about his charity work and Michael spoke briefly about his efforts to improve the culture of Pasadena. He then neatly turned the discussion to her own works and mentioned both his desire to make a donation and a young actress of his acquaintance who would benefit from some time with "A fine teacher such as yourself." Seeing that Michael was going to be occupied for a while, the Banu Haqim slipped outside to check with Miss Velour's own security people. Once outside he became somewhat suspicious of a couple observing the club.

A young girl and an older man are chatting innocuously at the roadside while the gentlemen is filming the local area. Normally this wouldn't draw any attention but you notice that the camera is slightly unusual. It seems to be equipped with an extra lens, an unusually large flip down LCD on one side and reminds you strangely of cameras used in medical procedures, though larger in scale.


Possible 'Second Inquisition' Recon Team
Now they've drawn your attention you notice that the bag that the girl has slung over one shoulder seems unusually heavy and is certainly long enough to hold a rifle or similar sized weapon and though she is talking to the man at her side, you note that her eyes are constantly in motion, scanning cars, nearby rooftops and other areas from which a threat may emerge.

From her aerial view, hope could see Daniel paying attention to the couple so focused on them particularly while waiting to see how the Banu Haqim dealt with the issue. Daniel's expert eye soon noted the couples use of trade-craft techniques such as following reflections rather than looking at people directly amongst other signs of their professional status. Not wanting to create a scene he informed the Yakuza that he thought they might be paparazzi and that the should be moved on. As they moved towards his designated targets Daniel watched to see if he could learn anything from their reactions.

Hope - In Raven Form
The pair visibly tensed as the guards moved and then relaxed as they drew closer. The girl stepped back slightly and Daniel realised she was giving herself enough space to draw a weapon should she need to. It was also obvious now that he was looking closely that the 'girl' was older than her dress and appearance seemed to indicate. She was very petite and could easily pass for a young teenager but something about her spoke of age and confidence. The 'father and daughter' image was merely part of their cover though Daniel imagined it would fool most.

The Banu Haqim had been correct in his assumption that the pair wouldn't start any trouble in such a public area and they left as requested. As they reached the road a dark SUV pulled up, they both got in and it swiftly drove away. Hope left her rooftop perch and flew after it. Daniel then phoned Yukio once more to appraise her of the new developments. As Daniel described the incident and the unusual camera he could sense that Yukio knew exactly what it was .

Yukio Hayashi - Ghoul of Marius
Assassin and Enforcer
"I'm going to send you a picture which I'll need you to delete once you've had a look at..." said Yukio with unusual seriousness. "...and tell me if it's what you saw." The picture was of a partially disassembled device on a workbench of some kind but it was undoubtedly the same as the intact one he'd seen the man using. "That's it, should I be concerned?" replied Daniel. "Yes you should..." was the disconcerting reply "Are you still using an encrypted phone?"

Daniel confirmed that he had one provided by his ghoul Andrew and that he always used either that or a disposable burner phone. "Good, that device is called an X-Scope and it's what the Second Inquisition use to determine if someone is living or dead by looking for heartbeat, respiration, and body heat. If you're blushed then they aren't as reliable...most of the time so I hope you were if you had one pointed at you" Daniel began to mentally list all the weapons he had with him as Yukio spoke once more. "You also may have another problem..."

Back in Pasadena, 'Vin' had utilised every resource at his disposal and was convinced that whatever had been observing the locations his coterie had visited and followed them the previous night had not continued their investigations into their own domain. Their home base seemed to be safe, for now at least.

Artur Harrison - Ventrue
Former Archon
Not sure what could be deemed as important as being told he'd just had a Second Inquisition reconnaissance team 'shooed' away, Daniel braced himself for the next revelation. "A former Camarilla Archon named Artur Harrison has been seen entering Los Angeles. Our sources inform us that he is attempting to rebuild a currently damaged reputation by bagging himself some-one from the Red List. It seems that he thinks Karen Anatos will be a 'soft' target. I thought I should let you know as your baron is currently hobnobbing with her."

Unaware of the complications emerging outside, Michael had gotten Karen alone and discovered that Velvet had already made her aware that they had more in common than merely an interest in charities and supporting budding actors and actresses. Though Miss Anatos had some basic knowledge of what she was and the fundamentals of vampire culture she was quite keen to discuss it further with another of her kind. She admitted to Michael that she was quite looking forward to the after party organised by Velvet so they could have an open discussion without scaring all the mortals that were currently about.

Daniel let Dion know to be extra alert and arranged with security to get Michael and Karen to leave by the rear entrance "To avoid any more photographers." As Miss Anatos and her entourage got ready to leave, Daniel dismissed the two mortal members of Michael's security team who were unaware of their bosses true nature. He then got ready to let Michael know that his worse fear had found it's way to LA. Even with the Blush of Life giving him the semblance of a normal appearance, the colour drained from the Baron's face as the Second Inquisition was mentioned.

Scene Six - The After Party
Daniel's 'Just in Case' Armoury
"As soon as this meeting with Karen is complete we inform everyone of this Second Inquisition team." Michael of course got no arguments. His next question however threw everyone present. "Daniel, Tell me you have bought guns with you?" The Banu Haqim had to do a double-take as normally Michael was insisting they all bought less weapons, not more. "Yes, I have weapons..." "Good..." was the unexpected reply.

Storytellers Note - The role-playing in that bit was exceptional. It really was.

As Dion drove to the house that Velvet had hired for the so-called after party, Daniel phoned Alonzo to see if the knowledgeable Nosferatu knew anything. On the subject of the Second Inquisition he admitted that he knew much of them historically but little that would help them in a straight fight other than what was common knowledge amongst all vampires. However he knew much about the disgraced Archon named Artur.

London by Night
"Artur was given a task by the Camarilla to assassinate a particular member of the Society of Leopold who they believed was organising something in London. Artur insisted that the man they were after was nowhere near the capitol as if he was he would have found him." Those listening had a suspicion where this was going.

"A week later, the man that Artur insisted wasn't a threat or even near the city organised the purge of London's kindred, needless to say his career prospects plummeted severely after that. He apparently had to use every boon he'd ever accumulated and acquired a fair few more just to keep his head on his shoulders." The normally reasonable Michael immediately decided that he hated Artur and of those there he had the most reason to do so. He was one of the lucky ones who managed to escape London before the tragic event. The thought that one kindred's failure to do his job may well have caused the massacre filled him with a hatred that was impossible to quantify.

Dion had taken a roundabout route to the venue so it took slightly longer to get there. As they neared the house, Daniel offered Michael one of his handguns. As he did, Dion asked him if he would prefer a revolver as he knew that was the only weapon that the Toreador occasionally carried. Preferring a familiar firearm given the circumstances, Michael accepted Dion's .357 magnum which was apparently his own back-up piece. "Don't worry, I have my primary still." Said Dion revealing what looked to Daniel like a Casull Edition, Super Redhawk 454. Evidently Dion was a fan of stopping power rather than ammo capacity. Given their circular approach, Karen had arrived before them and her own blood-bound security were already in place. Daniel noted that the building had adequate domestic security but nothing that would do much good against an armed assault.

The Second Inquisition
Not sure if Anatos's people had any clue what the Second Inquisition was and positive they wouldn't have heard the term 'Archon', Daniel instead informed them 'professional vampire hunters' were in the area and that their boss could be in danger. He then prepped all his weapons, checked Dion was ready to get them out if necessary and then waited nearby in case the shit hit the fan.

Hope had watched the parked vehicle of the recon team for nearly an hour now and it showed no sign of going anywhere. Reasonably sure that Michael and Karen must have left by now and as it was clear that these people weren't going anywhere she returned to human form and reported in to see what Daniel had planned next. He gave her his current location and told her that they might need back-up. Having decided that flying was by far the most fun way of getting anywhere she transformed once more and headed to the specified location.

Victoria - Ghoul of Marius
Michael meanwhile was trying to learn what Miss Anatos knew of their kind before making his pitch in regards to managing her territory for her. "Well, you're not the first of our kind to approach me but you're definitely the prettiest." was her reply. Curious he asked who the others were. Her answers were remarkably candid.

"A Marius Walker spoke to me briefly about our kind, that their were different clans and that we had to keep our existence a secret as organisations now existed that hunt us. His company invested in my new streaming service but he's made no demands of me, just told me to be careful, more or less. Sometimes I speak to his creepy PA but not often, just when I'm curious about something" Hearing Victoria described as creepy was amusing considering what she actually was could better be said to be 'a complete psychopathic' but he chose not to break her flow of conversation as Karen spoke of her other interactions with kindred.

"It was the Hollywood producer fellow, Isaac that had the most to say for himself. We spoke about barons and baronies, clans and sects and the rules he claims we all follow. To be honest the way he spoke about it it was like being immortal was no fun at all but he did introduce me to some of our kind I could party with so It wasn't a terrible encounter when all was said and done." Michael knew of at least one kindred she enjoyed the company of but he was anxious to discover if Mr Hertz'z other conclusions had been correct.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
"The dancer, Velvet Velour she's always fun, there was the guru Dawn Cavanagh, but I didn't like her she had trouble taking no for an answer so I don't go there anymore. The Asp Hole is kinda cool, they let me have the upper floor when I visit but for a crazy time I like the Asylum. That Jeanette is a lunatic but in a good way, her I said yes to, I stopped in her day room."

Michael was reassured that the intelligence he had been given was correct. He also noted that Isaac may have inadvertently done some groundwork for him by making vampire politics seem like it got in the way of enjoying oneself. Michael began to pursue this line of conversation and could see that it was his best way of getting her agreement to his terms as she continued. "The whole 'barony' thing seems really tedious though. I'm far too busy to care about some imaginary border and meeting every vagabond that wanders through. I suppose if there's people hunting us though that I'll have to do something about it eventually."

Michael then began to lay it on thickly, accentuating the many problems of kindred politics including maintaining the traditions, having to attend rants and so on. He then made his offer that as he was already stuck with doing so for his own barony that he could also manage hers. This would give her all the benefits of being baroness of her domain but leave the terribly boring politics in Michael's hands. He could see that she was close to agreement but he was going to need a little more time with her to convince her fully.

Scene Seven - Uninvited Guests
Hope found a concealed location to land and then re-assumed her humanoid form before checking in with Daniel and reacquiring her weaponry. This proved to be just in the nick of time as the houses closed gate was destroyed as a car drove through it killing the guard stationed there instantly.

A second vehicle entered a moment later sending the second guard bouncing over the roof to land in a broken heap on the ground. A heavy set man quickly vacated the rear drivers side with a full auto shotgun in each hand and mowed down the rest of the exterior guards who had ran to protect their mistress. Another man had emerged from the passenger side and had an assault rifle in hand.

Using the vehicle as cover he added his firepower to that of the first as the rest of the occupants of both cars began to make their moves. As the second vehicles doors opened, Daniel lit a fuse on a hastily retrieved pipe bomb and hurled it under the second car. One of the assassins inside was a little too slow in their escape and was torn apart by shrapnel as the car exploded and a second was knocked to the ground.

The floored attacker never got a chance to act as Hope leapt on him and tore out his throat and drank deeply. The shotgun wielder realised that there was a more immediate threat and turned his attention to the feeding Gangrel, shouting at his own people to move aside. Daniel took careful aim at the man using the car as cover and shot him in the head with his own assault weapon only to be disappointed as supernatural levels of resilience protected them from instant death.

One of those who were blocking the shotgun wielders aim suddenly found Hope's teeth in their throat. Apparently deciding that they were done for anyway or just expendable, Hope's latest target was torn to pieces by full auto shotgun blasts. A number of shells continued through them into Hope but her clans natural resilience served her well once more. Not giving them a second chance, Hope dropped the mangled remains of her second meal and covered the distance to them in moments. More buckshot hit her on the way but it was nowhere near enough to stop her momentum.

The kindred who Daniel had shot in the head disappeared from behind the car and reappeared by the door to the house and using the same ability the Banu Haqim followed, lashing out with his sword as he arrived, catching the kindred he presumed was Artur across the back. Once again his resilience saved him and the blow was only superficial.

Two of the remaining members of the assault team had reached the door a moment after the pair, one of which was armed with a heavy sword that they attempted to use to remove Daniel's head. As the Banu Haqim ducked below the attack he countered, thrusting his own weapon through their heart only to be floored as his kneecap was blown out by a high calibre handgun. With no-one left to prevent his progress, Artur entered the house where Michael and Karen were waiting.

Michael watched a gentleman in an expensively tailored suit enter the room and then address him personally "Please step aside, I'm on a tight schedule and in order to gain the credit for removing the Anathema I need to do it before the Inquisition kill her first...given the real reason that you're in LA I presume you'll have no wish to impede my mission?"

Attempting to stall for time, the Toreador pleaded ignorance, claiming to be unaware of anything of which Artur was speaking. Without saying another word, Artur aimed his rifle at Karen and pulled the trigger. The burst hit Michael in the chest as he moved to place himself between the disgraced Archon and Miss Anatos. From the entrance-way where he currently knelt crippled Daniel ignored his own attacker and emptied one of his handguns into Artur's back, tearing holes in undead flesh but as before the damage was far less than it should have been.

He felt something wet splatter across his face and turned to see the ghoul who had kneecapped him a moment ago fall to the ground almost decapitated as Dion unloaded .454 rounds into their skull. Taking the opportunity he used his vitae to heal his shattered leg and ran inside to help Michael.

The short, squat kindred who had shot Hope had been a more worthy foe than the others but had eventually succumb to the onslaught of her razor sharp claws. She heard gunfire from the house and looked up in time to see the ghoul Dion calmly shoot Daniel's attacker in the back of the head. The final two members of Artur's team had entered through a side door and she moved towards the house to help her coterie. Daniel had healed his injuries just as she arrived and they both entered together and hurled themselves at the assaulting forces leader. The former Archon was no slouch in combat either as he grabbed Daniel's sword before kicking Hope clear across the room.

His two ghouls entered the lounge room from a side entrance and ran straight into Miss Anatos who hoisted one from the ground one handed and snapped their neck before hurling their corpse into their compatriot. As they pushed aside their dead friend, Anatos fell upon them and tore out their throat with her fangs. It seemed that when the need arose she was very much of clan Gangrel.

As Hope reentered the combat, she and Daniel attacked as a team from both sides with relentless attacks. It was clear that Artur had skill but that he relied upon surprise, a team to implement his will and firepower to accomplish his goals rather than his own hands. Both Hope and Daniel were now wounded but so was their foe and the combat had degenerated into an untidy mess as blows were exchanged as openings were seen. Daniel drove his sword into Artur's side and grabbed his arm to prevent him from attacking in return. At the same time Hope sliced deeply into his throat with a claw and held him in place ready for a killing blow as soon a she was able.

Michael Tomassio - Toreador
Survivor of the Purge of London
Michael forced his chest wounds closed as his potent blood knitted together undead flesh far faster than the less potent Vitae of his younger associates was capable of. Drawing the .357 Magnum that Dion had given him he strode purposefully towards the floored Ventrue assassin, placed the barrel of the pistol against his temple and emptied the cylinder into their skull. Neither Hope nor Daniel had ever seen such hatred on Michael's face or such glee in the act of killing. Evidently his experiences in London had left an impression on him that overrode his usual desire for a peaceful outcome.

A quick headcount between them indicated that one of the assault team was missing. A mystery that was soon solved as Dion dragged a bruised and bloody ghoul into the lounge with him and threw their handcuffed body to the ground. "This one still breathes. Do you have answers or shall I dispose of her?"

Marius Walker - 'Boardroom' Gangrel and Fixer
The blood-lust within Michael had apparently faded but he was till uncharacteristically angry. "Throw her in the trunk. we'll talk to her at the gallery after we decide how to clean up this mess." Daniel suggested a phone call to Marius's people might be in order. However for the first time in some weeks he got straight through to the man himself. "You're lucky to catch me. What can I do for you Daniel?" The Banu Haqim explained that they had been meeting with Miss Anatos and that they had been hit by a team led by a former Archon and that the place was a mess. "Define 'a mess'?" was the response.

"An exploded car, a bullet-ridden one, two dead kindred, five dead ghouls about fifteen dead mortals and a bullet-hole filled, blood splattered house and drive." Listed Daniel, deciding that Marius probably needed specifics. "Well that is 'a mess', you're sure it was an Archon?" Daniel couldn't help but notice that Marius put particular venom into the word Archon.

Alonzo Guillen - Autarkis Nosferatu
Hollywood Warrens
"Yes..." Daniel confirmed. "...His name was Artur Harrison, apparently he was somewhat notorious." Marius's laughter was genuine and full of malicious humour. "Another waste of space given a title he didn't deserve. Who gave the fucker his final death then. You, Hope or Vin?"

"Well...actually, Michael blew his brains out..." For the second time during the conversation Marius laughed out loud. "Oh, that's priceless. Mr 'Let's all exist in harmony' whacked an ex-Archon..." He then became serious as if considering the situation. "He knew the part he played in the London debacle then? Don't answer that, of course he did, I imagine your new friend Alonzo relayed that little titbit to one of you."

"Fine. Get Karen and your lot out and take anything of yours you want to keep with you as it'll be a thorough clean-up. There will be no popping back later if you've forgot your wallet." Marius making a joke, even if it wasn't a great one was another new experience for Daniel. Taking advantage of the good mood he thought this was the best time to ask about price.

"I'll start the job then tell Isaac that a shit-storm happened in his domain and it needed acting on quickly. Velvet made the arrangements?" Daniel confirmed this was the case. "Fine. Abrams won't quibble about the bill if VV is involved and he's trying to keep Anatos sweet as he uses several of her studios so that should seal the deal."

With that agreed, Daniel made sure everyone was ready to leave. As he approached Karen and Michael they seemed to have reached the agreement they had merely been close to before the assault. "Well Michael, that's the first time outside of a movie the hero has took a bullet for me so I suppose I'm obliged to let you have your way." She smiled coyly. "In the area of borders and politics of course..."

With a car filled with salvaged guns and a boot with a ghoul in it the coterie left as Miss Anatos's own people collected her and they drove off in opposite directions.

Scene Eight - Interrogation
On their way to the gallery Vin was contacted to meet them there to both appraise him of what had happened and for his assistance in the upcoming interrogation of the prisoner they had acquired. With the gallery still in lock-down it was a simple matter to smuggle the ghoul in through the loading bay and secure them in the secure basement area. At the same time, Daniel emptied his car of it's newly acquired stock of seized weapons and transferred them to the postern armoury to sort through later.

Remembering that he'd promised to keep Yukio informed, Daniel gave her a call though it took a while for her to answer. "I'm well aware of the events in question, thank-you very much..." the tone was somewhat exasperated. "...mainly because I'm currently loading bodies into the back of a garbage truck, next to a vehicle salvage rig, outside a house that now stinks of cleaning chemicals, by a cordoned off street with signs at both ends saying 'Warning - Gas Leak'...". Daniel wisely decided to make his apologies and hung up.

Abbigail Huff - Ghoul Prisoner
Member of Artur Harrison's Team
Dion had asked to be excused from the interrogation as after the threats to his family via Marius's ghoul Victoria he had found himself without any taste for such things. Before he left he had a question. "Do you have any preference on how these events are reported to Miss Savona?" "Tell her..." replied Michael "...that a trouble-making, incompetent, former Archon has been forcibly retired. Maybe she can also tell her friends in the Camarilla to stay out of our way while were trying to do our jobs." Dion nodded that he understood and then left.

Their prisoner was secured in the basement with the chains they'd recently acquired when investigating the embezzled funds on behalf of Mr Hertz. Merely being behind bars felt insufficient for someone from an Archons entourage. Vin was also on guard which was more than enough deterrent for anyone with a fraction of common sense. Before Michael could even begin, the prisoner made their feelings towards the group quite clear. "Fuck you, traitors..."

"We are not traitors despite what Artur may have told you." Countered Michael. The ghouls response was somewhat predictable. "You were protecting a fucking Anathema..." All those present had to admit that from an outside perspective she did have a point. "It's somewhat more complicated than that but I don't have time to debate it with you." Interrupted Michael. "So consider your position carefully before I'm forced to use distasteful methods to find out what I wish to know." The ghoul had no doubt witnessed the deaths of her team at Hope and Daniel's hands so was well aware of what he meant. Vin meanwhile was sitting on a box in the corner sharpening his machete though it was debatable whether this was an intimidation technique or if he simply thought it needed the attention.

Michael could see that the prisoner was wavering in her loyalty to the kindred who had gotten her entire team killed so the Toreador switched briefly to 'good cop'. "Tell us what you know and I'll get you something to eat and drink. I also won't leave this room long enough for my people to torture then kill you for the information they know I require. Either way I'll find out what I need to know."

There was a pause as the woman looked around and realised the hopelessness of her situation. She had no back-up, no-one knew where she was, she was a prisoner and surrounded by kindred who had no reason to let her live. "Fine, I suppose I'll have to take you at your word. What do you want to know?" she asked. "Let's start with your name..." replied Michael.

The Second Inquisition
Abbigail introduced herself  and then began to speak "Artur wanted Anatos staked and taken back to the Justicars so he could claim the position of Alastor. He was passed over for another term as an Archon after the London thing and he had something to prove. He figured Anatos was the softest target as the politics meant no-one else would be after the daft bitch." She realised what she had said and backtracked slightly not knowing how close her captors where to the Anathema. "His words, not mine..." She continued. "Then he lost his tracker, so he followed you lot instead..." She was then asked to elaborate on what exactly was meant by 'lost'.

"There was a van watching the starlet, he sent Priya to follow it, she was meant to track it then keep on eye on wherever they went while I reported back. She must have got a little too close cuz a whole crew of armed military types jumped out with a couple of what looked like priests..." Michael exchanged a look with each of the others in turn. They were all aware of his paranoia about the Second Inquisition and it appeared that this time it was entirely justified. "...one of the priests, a girl, waved a cross at Priya, it was weird because as far as I know the gangrel didn't have a religious bone in her body but she stopped in her tracks then there was a crack from a couple of their rifles and next thing I knew she had two fucking stakes sticking out of her back. So I did a runner..."

As their previous observations had indicated that Artur was quite happy to sacrifice his people if necessary, they enquired about what was so important about the missing Gangrel other than her being a tracker. The answer worried them all. "Artur recruited Priya cuz she used to live in LA so knew the turf and the kindred. After we hit you lot we were going to get her back, fuck knows how, I guess we'll never know now..." It turned out that Priya had been in Los Angeles during the brief time that the Camarilla had declared Praxis there. This meant she had current knowledge of much of the kindred culture in the city. Knowledge that would be invaluable to the Inquisitors should they be able to break her.

Abbigail Huff - Ghoul
Temporary Ally of the Coterie
"You're a ghoul, yes?" asked Michael, a fact she confirmed. "When were you last fed Vitae?" Abbigail admitted that it had been several weeks. "How severe are the consequences to you should you miss that measure of blood?" was the next pertinent question. "Chronologically speaking I'm ninety years old, so what do you think..." Michael had food and water bought to her but left her in chains as they left her in the cell while they discussed what she had said.

Of course they had little choice but to attempt to locate this missing kindred before the Inquisition extracted from her all she knew of LA and it's vampire populace. They'd also need Abbigail to show them where the kidnap had occurred. All were aware of the dangerous nature of what they were now contemplating but the alternative was a Second Inquisition with detailed intelligence that could well do to their city what had once been done to London.

Storytellers Note - This was somewhat of a dick-move on my part as their options were take on the Second Inquisition or be directly responsible for LA getting wiped out by...the Second Inquisition...

On their return to the cell to enlist the aid of their prisoner they found her sitting on a crate eating the food and drink they had provided. The chains she had been wearing were in a neat pile nearby. "So, are we pals now or what?" Vin arbitrarily decided that he liked her, the rest were not so sure.

Scene Nine - Nobody Expects...
Figuring that the first thing they would be attempting to get out of the Gangrel prisoner would be the location of her base of operations and that of her allies. Hope and Daniel decided to check there first. Though it would be empty now, the prisoner would have no idea that the rest of her team were dead and so they would likely reveal that place if broken. On investigation they found the cabin in the woods they had been using to have not been interfered with. This at least meant that the captured kindred was still keeping her secrets. The question was, for how much longer?

Storytellers Note - I've skimmed over that last bit in the write-up as most of it was the players searching stuff only to be told there was bugger all there.

With at least some sign that they still had time to act they then went to the location of the kidnap on the outskirts of Hollywood. Daniel and Hope accompanied their temporary ally Abbigail as they were the two best investigators. The area though relatively remote wasn't completely clear of people and traffic so the kidnappers had taken a big risk by deploying and taking a kindred from there.

It occurred to Daniel that perhaps their base or something of importance to them might be nearby. Hope who was investigating the area in wolf form noted that there was a distinct chemical smell in the air and skid marks on the ground indicating a vehicle leaving at high speed. It looked like the Inquisitors had used some form of acid to remove evidence from the area where they had taken their prisoner. Hope could still detect traces of the pungent chemical upon the air and it had given her a reasonable idea of the direction the van had headed. Shifting from wolf to raven she headed in the possible direction to see if there were any obvious locations for the Inquisition to have set up a base. What she found gave them a whole new set of problems to overcome.

The trail leads you to a remote building complex on the outskirts of Hollywood only a few miles from the kidnap location. It seems whoever owned it before it's current inhabitants were paranoid or privacy obsessed as the walls are high and camera's are mounted on each corner. The razor wire atop the walls seems to be a recent addition however and on closer inspection the camera's also seem to have been altered for some exotic version.

The guards patrolling the outside are armed and armoured and making no attempt whatsoever to hide their military credentials. The main gate has had a security post swiftly erected containing a pair of armed guards. You can hear radio check-ins to a central location, presumably a command centre within. The approach road has been cordoned off but seems to be unguarded, merely placed to prevent casual drivers from approaching.

Project FIRSTLIGHT
Seeing the forces they potentially had to face, it was decided to call Vin. Though this left the barony somewhat undefended they would need him if things went badly.

The guards were patrolling in pairs and were equipped with M4 Assault Rifles and night-vision gear. One of the two men at the gate carried some kind of large video camera with which he occasionally scanned the perimeter. It looked like a larger version of the one he'd observed with the recon team, possibly it was a more advanced or sophisticated version. While the others watched the gate, Daniel circled the area and found a higher vantage point from where he could see some of the interior of the complex.

The interior is also being patrolled by pairs of guards though there appears to be only two lots, the rest of the security are stationed at the buildings corners. None of the others you see have any equipment you'd class as none standard. There are also two snipers on balconies, it's difficult to tell at this range but you imagine they're armed with something high calibre possibly your own preferred weapon the .50 cal Barrett.

There's a main entrance, a side entrance and a garage section of too one side that may have an internal connection to the house. Two men guard the entrance, one guards the side door but the garage appears to be currently unprotected though it can be seen by the roving patrols most of the time.

Vin's Usual 'Problem Resolution' Method
Daniel doubted that he could snipe even a quarter of the guards before his location was spotted and military trained guards seemed unlikely to fall for basic distraction ploys. Vin however had one of his trademark simple but effective ideas. "How about I just walk up to the gate and kill the guards there and then run off. Some are bound to come after me." All present had to admit that it wasn't a bad plan but if the guards were well trained then they might not deploy enough of their people in pursuit to make it worth the risk. "Fair enough..." said Vin, apparently with another idea ready. "...How about if I kill the gate guards in a really brutal way while one of the patrols is nearby and then murder them in an obviously inhuman 'he's definitely a vampire' manner and then run away. That should get their attention." With no better ideas forthcoming they decided to go with Vin's basic plan with a few minor alterations.

Hope found the nearest bit of cover to the entrance so as to either back-up Vin or move in to support Daniel based on circumstance. Daniel had meanwhile moved back to the high vantage point he'd used for recon. He had his suppressed rifle in hand ready to eliminate any remaining guards that were left between the walls and the side entrance he planned on using to get inside. He set himself up, weapon aimed at his first target and waited for Vin to do his thing. The Brujah had loaded two of the twenty round drums for his full-auto USAS-12 shotguns with steel slugs as at the range he was planning on firing they'd make a mess of even those protected by body armour. He then strolled casually towards the check-point with the weapon hidden beneath a long coat carefully timing his pace so he'd arrive at the same time as a passing patrol.

The guard got as far as raising his hand to stop the approaching figure before Vin slid the shotgun from beneath his coat and put two rounds through the chests of him and the soldier standing next to him from effectively point-blank range, killing them both instantly.

Before the nearby patrol could even raise their weapons they found themselves staring down the barrel of his shotgun, the eyes of the creature wielding it filled them both with utter dread, freezing them in position. Unable to move they saw Vin switch to full-auto and then he emptied the rest of the drum into the paralysed pair, shredding them to pieces before he stepped back into the cover of the security station and calmly reloaded. Assault rifle fire began impacting off his cover only stopping as the next nearest patrol reached the position.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
"Come and get me you fuckers..."
Swinging the gun behind him on it's shoulder strap, The Brujah stepped outside and channelled every iota of his natural and supernatural strength into a single punch. The raw power made a mockery of body armour and the flesh and bone beneath as the unfortunate victim landed in a heap some ten metres away, their chest a gaping crater. Grabbing the other by the throat he lifted them into the air putting them between himself and the soldiers on the wall. He then waited a few seconds so others on the walls were focused upon him and then once enough were watching he used his other hand to pull both of their arms off. Even the hardened soldiers were momentarily stunned as he dropped the dismembered body to the ground, turned and suddenly appeared fifty metres away before running down the cordoned off road.

While the attention was on the commotion at the gate Daniel put a round through each of the snipers on the balconies with casual ease, deeming them the greatest initial threat to any attempt to enter the main building. Following the plan to allow Vin to lead off as many of the soldiers as he could he allowed two of their surveillance vans that were near to the gate to be driven in pursuit. Deciding that three was too much for even Vin to deal with he took out a man running towards the garage, presuming he was in mind to fetch another vehicle. Taking advantage of the chaos the sniper took out several others in the compound who were in locations where their deaths wouldn't be immediately observed by others in order to even the odds a little.

Storytellers Note - He couldn't miss during this bit which I wasn't that bothered about as it was his first good run of dice rolls for a few sessions. Basically, law of averages meant he was due this at some point, lol.

Hope decided to intercept the second pursuit vehicle to keep some of the pressure off Vin and a soaring leap of twenty metres enabled her to reach the side of the van and rip open the side door. The two men inside turned in surprise as the Gangrel punched the one in the head hard enough to kill them instantly. The second reached for his gun a moment too late as she broke his arm then drove his head into the closest monitor.

Hope Romero - Gangrel
A Taste for Blood
As the bloody spray filled the air she once again succumbed to the whispers of the beast, drew their head back once more and destroyed the second screen, then a third. By the forth monitor there was little left but the rear of their skull remaining and she merely smeared a layer of blood and brain matter across it before dropping the near decapitated body to the vehicle's floor.

The driver bought the vehicle to a screeching halt, ran round to the side and sprayed the inside with assault rifle rounds, staring in shock as Hope weathered the onslaught as near as dammit unharmed. She grabbed the rifle with one hand and their throat with the other and dragged them inside the blood-stained interior of the now stationary van. A moment later she stepped from the vehicle with her hunger abated and a third corpse left within straight into a three man team who had been stealthily approaching from the same cover she herself had occupied moments before. Daniel panned his rifle across towards Hope's location to see what she was up to in time to see her emerge from the scene of devastation she had created with the second surveillance van.

Seeing the ambushers approaching, Daniel put a round through the temple of their leader to give Hope time to react. He then regretted watching to see that she was okay as the two remaining men had their heads smashed together like a child playing conkers until one side 'won'. Technically the winner was the one on the right as the left's head disintegrated first. Both were quite dead, long before that though.

Hope then headed towards an unguarded section of wall as Daniel worked his way down from his position. Daniel cleared the wall with a single bounding leap as Hope did the same along a different section of the perimeter and navigating their way through the few guards who were left at their stations rendezvoused at the garage. Along the way they retrieved the van keys from the soldier Daniel had neutralised when sniping earlier.

Scene Ten - ...The Second Inquisition
Daniel had designated this as their internal entry point as in his experience most garages had entrances to the main building but were generally less heavily guarded. Of course the last time he'd entered a building this way he'd almost been disintegrated by a claymore mine. This time however he intended to check more thoroughly. This turned out to be a very good idea indeed.

Already at full alert he was ready for the guard in the corridor and easily evaded the projectile fired from the modified grenade launcher beneath their assault rifle. A figure of eight burst from his own suppressed assault weapon cut down the soldier where they stood before he ducked back into the cover of the garage. Gesturing to Hope to stay quiet he focused his preternatural senses on the area ahead, straining to detect any sign of threats ahead. Hope looked to see what had been launched at them and saw the shattered remains of a wooden stake embedded deep in the wall opposite. If there had been any doubt before about the inquisitions involvement then it was now gone.

Second Inquisition Assault Team
As the pursuing vehicle caught up at with Vin at the barrier blocking off the road he rolled underneath it and came up in firing position, shotgun at the ready. Suspecting that the van might well be armoured he aimed at the driver through the windscreen and opened fire. Whatever the glass was made of it wasn't proof against solid steel slugs at five metres and the driver was killed almost instantly, the vehicle skidding to a halt inches from the barrier. This particular transport wasn't a surveillance vehicle but rather designed to carry troops and in moments a half a dozen men and another from the passenger seat disembarked armed and ready for action. Covering the distance in a blink, Vin was among them, his face split with an unnerving smile. The Brujah enjoyed his job a lot...

Daniel could hear breathing from a side room on the left of the corridor but the rest of the area seemed suspiciously quiet. Perhaps the actual Inquisitorial representatives kept their business private from the legitimate security forces. Moving in complete silence, the Banu Haqim made his way from cover to a mere metre from the doorway where the second ambusher awaited before rolling in and shooting from a position on the ground.

At such close range even the metal plate enhancing their body armour was no protection and rifle rounds tore through the protection. Reloading he turned to find the impatient Hope had already entered the room behind him to examine the contents.

The office has been converted to a logistical centre of sorts. Maps of Los Angeles and Hollywood are on the walls, a laptop is on a desk surrounded by notes and several pictures adorn a pin-board. The various offices of Karen Anatos are marked on the map as well as some of her hangouts such as the Asp Hole, Velvet's club and Karen's own studio.

There are both both surveillance and publicity pictures of Anatos as well as a few of Artur's team including a circled figure which you can only presume is the missing Gangrel as all the others you know. There are however no pictures of Hallowbrook where you first saw the suspicious vehicle, possibly they were following Artur's team rather than observing the building itself.

Second Inquisition - Engraved Stakes
The dead guard had an assault rifle modified to fire a stake using a compressed gas cylinder from an under-slung launcher. The armour plate which had failed to protect him had an elaborate cross engraved upon it as did that of the dead man in the corridor. It seemed that their were two distinct forces at work here, a legitimate military force albeit one that was aware of the undead and the inner circle which consisted of the truly faithful and fanatical. Concerned that those outside may soon turn their attention away from the perimeter and begin to look inward they continued their search of the area after first gathering all the evidence from the room that they could carry. The only other noises they could hear came from a staircase heading downwards. Carefully they moved on to investigate.

Seven to one would seem to be uneven odds even for the Brujah when the opponents were military men used to working as a team. However each of their successful attacks did only the most superficial of wounds whereas each blow of Vin's killed or crippled an enemy. Realising that they had no chance this close, two of the remaining three soldiers fell back, the third sacrificing himself to give the others time to gain positions.

However none of the three lived long enough to implement their plan as all fell to precisely aimed blades which seemed to appear almost by magic in the throat of each. Vin looked around to see the source of the projectiles but could see no-one, taking the weapon from the throat of the nearest of the dead he turned and ran back towards the Second Inquisition base to see how the rest of the scheme was going.

Daniel faded from sight and peered around the corner at the bottom of the stairs. He observed two guards each with the decorated armour plate and stake launcher that the other pair he'd killed had as equipment. Withdrawing back to Hope they considered their options and came up with a plan to separate the guards from whatever they were protecting.

Though obviously with their own organisation the inner circle of soldiers still had some military trappings including a uniform with a name tag on it. Reaching for the radio, Daniel spoke in as generic a manner as he could manage, hoping that the content of the message would gain more attention than any chance that he sounded nothing like the soldier he was about to mimic. "Anderson here, I need help on the ground floor...now..." Daniel then turned off the radio and used his supernatural abilities to fade from view. Hope lacked such skills so instead took cover in the office with the corpse of the actual and very deceased 'Anderson'.

They knew the ruse had succeeded as the two remaining inquisitorial guards ran upstairs calling their colleagues name. Hope stepped out of the room, smiled then snapped the first mans neck as the second was shot through the heart from behind by the Banu Haqim. With the coast now clear they made their way downstairs with Daniel in the lead as he was the most stealthy of the pair by a significant margin. Daniel moved to the door and listened intently.

From behind the door you can hear raised voices, intersected with the occasional scream somewhere between pain and anger. One woman seems to be doing most of the talking, a mans voice is mainly shouting. "This improvised interrogation is gaining us little information of use, Hilda. I suggest we arrange for the transportation of this blank-body to a proper black-site and proceed with our task of investigating this Anatos woman we identified." The woman replies "Give me another hour Oscar and then if I gain nothing I'll accept you recommendation on how to proceed."


There is then another scream of pain. You can't help but notice that no question was asked, the torture seemingly being enacted simply for the pleasure of the act.

Retrieving the assault rifles from the dead men and ensuring they were fully loaded, Hope waited as Daniel checked the lock on the door before picking it with expert precision without making a single noise. Counting down with his fingers he prepared for them to make their agreed upon coordinated attack. He would take the woman, Hope would take the man.

3, 2, 1...

A female figure has been chained, spread-eagle across a table, her naked body is riddled with burns, many of which are are cross shaped. A woman in civilian clothes is interrogating her about the kindred of Los Angeles while brandishing a cross threateningly from which the restrained figure is flinching from the sight of. Another figure has a bandoleer of stakes across their chest, a sword across their back and a cross has been elaborately engraved on a metal plate that forms part of an elaborate suit of body armour.

Daniel's superior training with a ranged weapon showed as his burst hit the female inquisitor in the centre of the forehead killing her before she had a chance to move, the cross in her hands falling to the ground along with her body.

Hope's rounds bounced off the plate armour of the male, his armour seemingly of a higher standard than the rest of the soldiers. Drawing a sword from a scabbard on his back he stepped forward and swung at the pair. Daniel dodged aside and Hope stepped back, both avoiding the attack. Hope stepped forward blocking his sword arm with her forearm and pushing him back into the room.

The angle was difficult but nonetheless the Banu Haqim drew his 10mm colt and unloaded the clip at the swordsman hitting him in the neck and chest, the armour stopping most of the shells. As he dropped the sword and clutched at his neck Hope grabbed one of his own stakes from the bandoleer across his chest, hoisted him up by the throat and with all her might drove the wooden spike through the armour plate, his chest and left him impaled against a supporting pillar.

Storytellers Note - Admittedly that's an unlikely way to kill someone but it was cinematic and cool so I had a "What the fuck, why not..." moment and let it happen.

Hope ripped the chains from the table as Daniel handed the victim a cloak that had been thrown over a nearby chair, presumably belonging to the female inquisitor. "Priya?" he asked. "Yeah, thanks for the rescue...who the hell are you by the way?" As a detailed explanation would take too long they merely told her that Abbigail had sent them and that they needed to get moving. Making their way out via the garage, they decided to steal one of the surveillance vans as they would no doubt need to fight their way out as well. What they discovered as they attempted to leave was therefore both a relief and a shock.

Scene Eleven - Mistress of the Swarm
Mistress of the Swarm - Gangrel
The entrance to the complex was guarded by a ragtag horde that gave of an aura of menace that was difficult to quantify yet was quite tangible.

A tall dread-locked figure seemed to be keeping some semblance of order amongst them but it was obvious that a young woman in a tattered and archaic looking red blouse and a matching skirt was the leader. Her eyes glowed red and she moved oddly, alternating between motionlessness and swift, precise movements forward, quickly followed by the crowd of creatures around her.

More of the horde could be seen on the perimeter walls, dragging soldiers to their deaths while others were feeding upon those killed by the coterie or victims they had claimed themselves. Turning his sense up to their most acute Daniel could tell that many including the leader and the tall one were kindred, others judging from wounds taken were ghouls, the rest mortals with the distinct glazed eyes of the blood bound or mentally enslaved.

Quinn - Gangrel
Childe of the Mistress of the Swarm
Some of the weaker amongst the zombie-like group had fallen to the soldiers, yet were seemingly treated just like the enemy fallen, as meals.

As the dread-locked figure separated himself from those around him it was apparent that his hair was in fact made up of sinewy tentacles that moved with a life of his own. The strange animalistic mutation perhaps a sign of a Gangrel who had frenzied one time to many.

His voice however was almost melodic and the face handsome in an odd way as if as a mortal he had significant charisma, not all of which his unlife had erased. "My mistress has been tasked with clearing this area of it's unwelcome guests. If you are still here in three minutes time, that will include yourselves." It didn't take an empathy expert like Michael to detect that this wasn't a threat, merely a statement of what he was sure was about to occur. "Leave the vehicle here also, it will be disposed of along with the other two. You have..two and a half minutes left I believe..."

'The Pale Lady' - Kindred Assassin
Though neither Daniel nor Hope particularly liked the idea of been effectively told to "fuck off or die" there was something about this group that made them believe that 'fuck off' was going to be their best option. They also had no idea of Vin's fate, so they left as 'requested'.

As they walked along the access road they noticed several dead soldiers killed by bladed weapons still embedded in their throats. The perfect blades were in no way in keeping with the monsters they'd encountered themselves. Daniel turned back as the swarm of creatures entered the Second Inquisitions base to finish off 'cleaning up'.

As he did so he saw a tall woman all in black with long white hair sitting on top of the wall by the gatehouse watching the activity below. The swarm seemingly oblivious to her. Once back at their own vehicle they found Vin leaning against it playing with a familiar looking blade. "Where did you get that?" enquired Daniel knowing full well that Vin never normally handled any bladed weapon that wasn't sizeable enough to chop off a head. "Someone killed the last three of my pursuers with them." He replied almost conversationally.

Daniel fucking hated loose ends...

Interlude - The Tables Turned
Todd opened his eyes and looked around the room, briefly wandering how he'd got there. They had been heading back to HQ after looking at the place in Downtown that he was sure of. He remembered the car tyre blowing, them getting out to change it, Charlie had gone to get the spare, Rachael was covering them, suspicious as ever that girl. Something had hit him, a bullet he thought then nothing. Probably a tranquilliser dart now he considered it.

Chains at wrist and ankle held him upright, disappearing into floor and ceiling pulling him spread-eagle fashion but suspended in the air. There was a drainage ditch below him covered in a fine mesh in a floor of surgical cleanliness. Rachael was facing him, held in the same fashion, Charlie was next to him but the chains opposite him were hanging loose, those in the floor fully retracted. Apparently the room was designed for as many as six but only three were needed for his team. He imagined the design was so one prisoner could be forced to watch the interrogation of another.

Victoria - Ghoul
Sadist and Torturer
A table to his left had an array of tools, most were medical in nature but others looked like dedicated instruments of torture. Three freezers with clear glass fronts contained a bewildering array of chemicals, some labelled, some not.

Opposite it was a desk with three files on it, the open one had a picture of himself within, taken from his military record. Records that were meant to have been expunged when he became part of Firstlight.

Security cameras were positioned above each station, presumably so the interrogators would miss nothing. The one door into the room was heavy, probably armoured and had no visible way of opening it from this side. He was apparently the last to wake. Rachael summed up the situation remarkably succinctly when she saw his eyes were open. "We're fucked then..."

The door opened and a slim woman dressed in a black dress of some shiny material entered. She had incredible beauty, instantly forgotten once you saw the cruelty in the eyes. "Hello, Firstlight recon team..." she flipped over a page in the file "...fourteen. My name is Victoria and I'm here to torture you until I'm satisfied you have nothing left to tell." She ran a hand across a selection of bladed instruments before selecting one with a large cutting edge. "Unfortunately for you all I'm notoriously difficult to satisfy..."

Epilogue - New Recruits
After providing sufficient vitae for the worse of her wounds to heal, Michael sat down with the two surviving members of Artur's team.

Priya Haynes - Gangrel Hound, Abbigail Huff - Ghoul of Priya
The ghoul Abbigail had already appraised the Gangrel Priya of the events that had occurred while she was held prisoner and so Michael got straight to the point. "If you wish to leave you can, as far as I'm concerned the matter is closed. However I feel I should warn you that several very important people in the Camarilla are now extremely upset with the potential consequences of Artur's plan. They may even feel like passing the blame onto surviving members of his team. Some-one needs to be blamed you see?"

"Well that's great..." replied Priya sarcastically. "...I told him it was a stupid plan from the start and now I'm in the shit because of it." "There is an alternative..." continued Michael "...as I now find myself with an increased border to patrol. I understand Abbigail here is your own ghoul?" Priya confirmed that was so. "Then if you need employment and are willing to attend to the needs of your own entourage I have a vacancy in the role of 'Hound', under Hope who is my Scourge, or 'Census Taker' as the Anarchs call them." He gestured to Abbigail. "I am told by Abbigail it is a role you have undertaken before albeit with the Camarilla?" He could see that given her limited options that the offer he was making was extremely enticing. "Yes, I've done it before...I accept your generous offer."

To be Continued in 'Predators and Prey' - Part One

In Conclusion
I like to do a round-up of how the session went in these features but if you couldn't give a shit what I think then feel free to skip this bit...

This session was long and I was pretty sure at least one of the characters wouldn't make it. They actually came up with some good plans so I gave them a fair chance and they actually survived...go them, I suppose, lol. It also gave me a chance to introduce several other new problems that may or may not be appearing in the future.

To be honest I wasn't expecting them to recruit the surviving Gangrel and her ghoul but now they have I'll have to integrate them into the plots. It's not a big deal but I definitely didn't plan for it...

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Dion is Clark Gregg, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, 'The Recon Team' is a sceen from Leon, Artur Harrison is Janis Ancens, Victoria is Lilith May, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Abbigail Huff is Jessica Alba, The Pale Lady is Anydeath, the Mistress of the Swarm is Anna Paquin, Quinn is Oliver Parker and Priya Haynes is Gabrielle Union . Everything else is from vampire related folders and searches and is as far as I know is all of the 'fair use' variety. If there's something that you feel should be attributed to some-one then feel free to let me know and I'll happily add an acknowledgement...
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