Friday, 15 January 2021

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Eighty One - Veni, Vidi, Victor (Epilogue)

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 chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of the three North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a fourth. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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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.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
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
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Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
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 OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
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Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
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Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part Six
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The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 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 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 or faction beneath their picture.

Storytellers Note - Due to a Covid related local lockdown in the area in which I live, our group is currently unable to meet up in person. We have therefore done this session via 
messengers video 'room' app.

Introduction
Victor Girard - Toreador
Destroyed
Los Angeles Anarch's are still recovering from yet another upheaval within the Free States.

A civil war within El Hermandad was crushed by an unprecedented alliance of old friends, older enemies and many others who had become convinced that Victor Girard was about to become dangerously close to a Prince in all but name. An El Hermandad under Baron Martinez was perceived to be a far better option than a Los Angeles under a puppet of Victor.

Rightly blaming the coterie of Baron Tomassio for the failure of his plan, Victor sent agents to attack Michael's presumed haven and base of operations, The Galerie Sanguine. Though this assault cost Baron Tomassio many of his mortal agents and resulted in the grievous wounding of one of his most trusted ghouls, it was ultimately repulsed by defences put in place against just such an eventuality.

It seems that the coterie's retaliation was more effective than Girard's provocation and on this occasion he was unable to do his usual trick of disappearing into the background and waiting for another opportunity. Victor it seems has paid the ultimate price for his failure, namely Final Death.

The coterie were being somewhat vague about how exactly they accomplished this destruction as to be specific would require them to reveal the assistance given to them by the Toreador Elder, Christopher Houghton and his bloodthirsty childe and bodyguard, Joaquin Murietta, who was possibly the most prolific mass murderer in California's history.

Toreador Elder Christopher Houghton and his Childe Joaquin Murietta

It seems that the notoriously fickle Christopher has become fascinated with Michael Tomassio, though the coterie is currently unsure about whether the benefits of this obsession will outweigh the potential disadvantages that his interferences might create.

Heather - Ghoul of Marius
As far as the Anarch's of L.A. are concerned, the coterie took revenge for an assault on their barony and in doing so eliminated a threat to the Free States. However matters have been further complicated by some collateral damage. Heather, a favoured blood doll and ghoul of Marius was also nearly killed during Victors attack. 

Apparently the destruction of Victor was not enough to satisfy the Gangrel's desire for vengeance and he has struck against what remained of the Toreador media magnates remaining followers.

Half a dozen of Victors kindred who thought they had escaped the alliance of kindred set against him were proven wrong as Marius and his childer located each one and put them to Final Death in a variety of unpleasant ways. Some claim that he diablerised each and every one, though this seems unlikely it is not impossible. 

Two who attempted to escape via Harvey Caplan's docks were destroyed by Harvey's own enforcers after they violently objected to being refused passage. It seems that the good will of Baron's Martinez, Maller, Walker, Boyd and Tomassio was more important than the profit, on this occasion at least. Their fangs were sent to Marius by Harvey, a gesture that was, apparently, well received. For a gangster, Harvey has a surprising talent for diplomacy.

Harvey Caplan - Ventrue
De facto Baron of the Docks
In fact it was Mr Hertz who informed Harvey to expect some refugees from Victor's forces. He also warned him of the political situation and the number of potential enemies that granting them passage was likely to gain him. Harvey understood perfectly that allowing Victor's kindred to escape the wrath of the cities kindred population could easily be construed as him picking a side. As that side had already lost, Harvey wisely demonstrated that he wasn't, nor had ever been, one of Victor's stooges. Mr Hertz himself suggested that sending their fangs to Marius would add extra weight to that fact. Harvey appreciated the updating of the old 'fish in a bulletproof vest' trope and did as suggested.

Eboni, Dante and the thin-bloods who supported Victor's ally Ralph Harwood have been hunted down and destroyed. Only Bartosz has been spared after his intention to leave Harwoods organisation had been confirmed by several independent sources. These included Isaac 'Ike' Griffith of the Brujah Fight Club, The enforcer Vin from the North-East Baronies of Baron Tomassio and 'The Blossoms, from Marius's own Barony.

Bartosz has now gained employment with 'Ike', who has made it clear that he now considers the matter of Bartosz's former connection to Victor to be closed. Vin had discovered that the majority of the Brujah 'Fight Clubs' in both Anarch and Camarilla cities were effectively franchises under the influence of 'Ike' himself.

Brujah Fight Club

This effectively meant that the Fight Club founder was more than likely owed favours by a considerable number of combat hardened Brujah and therefore more than capable of enforcing his decisions. Those few kindred who had seen him fight had also confirmed that he quite able to enforce his point of view on a personal level, should he so desire.

Isaac Abrams and Karen Anatos - Marius's Competitors

Aegis Acquisitions has acquired the remainder of the legitimate mortal enterprises under Victors influence, stripped them of assets and then closed them for good. They are not the only kindred ran organisation to take advantage however and several others such as Thorne Multi-Media, ran by the Gangrel anathema Karen Anatos and Baron Isaac Abrams Golden Age Productions have also picked at the corpse of Woodland Media. These latter two organisations have been somewhat less destructive with their purchases, their primary motivation being profit, not vengeance.

Steve Booth - Brujah
Baron of the South Coast
Somewhat more controversial are other violent events surrounding Victor's supporters in other Baronies. Two of Steve Booth's Brujah who had been vocal supporters of Victor were found in their havens, staked and dismembered, with their fangs removed.

Retaliation seems unlikely as Baron Booth was no fonder of Victor than any of the other Barons and the removal of those attempting to recruit his people to the cause of another was possibly a blessing in disguise. It is however a trespass into the domain of another Baron, made without permission, and Baron Booth has every right to seek reparations.

As well as purging the city of any trace of Victor, Marius has also had meetings with three of the cities Barons. After meeting with Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller, Aegis clean-up teams sanitised their baronies of any trace of the kindred battles that had occurred across them. Then after a meeting with Hank Boyd, The Crypts Sons Baron promptly personally executed one of his own gang, his most trusted advisor Twain Martinez. His reasons are unknown though the prevailing theory is that they were revealed to be a traitor in Victors employ.

One of the main talking points of the kindred across the city is why exactly Marius is yet to meet with Baron Tomassio. Surely this would have been one of his first priorities?

Scene Thirty Seven - Upgrades
Dillan Fitzgerald - Malkavian
Aegis Construction
Michael's phone rings, it's the number given to him by Aegis's architect Dillan.

"Evening Baron. Marius told me that you've agreed payment for the upgrades to your bunker, night-club and some security upgrades to your gallery so I'm sending over the final plans with a messenger in an hour or so. They shouldn't need any alterations or additions, they're quite comprehensive but if there's anything I overlooked then let me know. You can let Marius know when he visits you later..."

Michael knew that he had had no such conversation with Marius about payment despite Dillon seemingly being convinced that the go-ahead had been given. Michael kept this to himself, though mention of a visit was something he needed to clarify. "I wasn't aware that I was expecting a visit from Marius..." queried Michael.

"Oh?" replied Dillan, seemingly surprised. "Rosa mentioned it so I presumed it had been arranged. "Anyway, I need to go now, Miss Pisha needs an extension to her laboratory for some reason..." he then hangs up.

Michael quickly messaged the rest of the coterie to inform them that they were receiving a visitor. As he hadn't spoken to Marius since the incident with Heather he decided that he'd want as much back-up available as possible should things go badly. Firstly though he arranged for Daniel and Vin to be there to look over the practical features of these new designs he was apparently about to receive.

Ewan Blake - Mortal
Partial Blood Bond to Dillan
A well dressed young-man with the air of a student of the arts delivers several plans and designs to you. He seems to be very interested in the design and works of the gallery though does comment that the art section seems a little sparse before leaving.

Subsequent research identified them as Ewen Blake, a partially blood-bound mortal who works for Dillan. He is apparently one of many but is Dillan's current 'favourite'. It also seems that Dillan believes that a full blood bond stifles creativity so only ever partially bonds his proteges.

Successful candidates find themselves with lucrative jobs within the Aegis group whereas unsatisfactory 'employees' end up testing Dillan's less pleasant creations and are never seen again. 

For the protection of MacNeils recently rediscovered computer system Dillan had gone with a variation of the last set of drawings he had shown them. The maze was a counterintuitive mass of dead ends, blind corners and bottlenecks where a defender could hold off a force five times their size. 

Several cleverly hidden passages would also allow someone in the know to bypass a dug-in enemy should it become necessary. Areas could be sealed off, effectively becoming prisons or tombs depending on the whims of whether the one who activated the trap ever decided to release them. Daniel approved of the strategic properties and even Vin seemed impressed.

Kindred Nightclub
Of more interest to Michael was the designs for his own succubus Club. Dillan had combined many of Michael's ideas with his own unique sense of design and created an establishment with myriad nooks and crannies, separate yet connected, across multiple levels.

This was mirrored below ground by a kindred equivalent with day-rooms and a separate meeting room connected into the sewer system below Hollywood. It also had several escape routes should an enemy come calling or one simply wished to avoid unwanted attention. Michael noted that the sewer access was similar in design to the one below Marius's Hollywood club 'The Asp Hole' but more elaborate and with a bigger focus upon the aesthetics. The sewer access within the Asp Hole had been added much later of course, whereas in the case of Michael's club Dillan had the benefit of working with a blank slate.

Though only mentioned to him in passing, Dillan had drawn up plans to upgrade the security of galerie sanguine to an incredible degree. Each section could be separated with armoured doors, three panic rooms had been cleverly designed into the existing structure and monitoring systems that were beyond state of the art had been created to eliminate any blind spots either approaching or inside the building.

It also seemed from the upgraded security room, that Dillan expected two, seven man security teams from Mercury security to be based within the building. There were also several areas with runes marked upon them, presumably supernatural defences to replace those triggered by the gallery's recent uninvited guests. Michael presumed that Marius already had someone in mind to create such wards as they were surely a requirement in the havens of other kindred.

Both Vin and Daniel began to look more closely at the security measures that had been put in place and neither could detect any exploitable weaknesses. It seemed that Dillan was very, very good at his job.

Scene Thirty Eight - An Unlife for a Life
Marius Walker - Gangrel
Baron of Downtown and 'Fixer'
Marius is dressed much as he was when you first met him, expensive clothes and accessories though with little care taken of them. He seems to be favouring his left side as if he has suffered an injury too severe to heal from quickly. There is also something about the look in his eyes that is dangerously predatory even by his usual standards. Whatever he has been up to has evidently changed him in more ways than a mere physical injury.

"Do you mind if I take a seat? I still have a large hole where my floating ribs were and I'm not entirely sure that all my other bones are where they're meant to be..."

Daniel could tell that Marius's skeletal structure seemed to have been misaligned and twisted. The Banu Haqim had once had to regenerate a mere severed finger and it had taken considerable levels of concentration and quantities of vitae to do so. He could only imagine the effort required to repair an entire body. 

On closer inspection it looked to Daniel by virtue of his medical expertise that Marius's ribcage had been collapsed inwards towards his heart as if some enemy had attempted to skewer his heart with his own bones. Noticing Daniel observing him, Marius began to explain.

The Blount Sisters - Toreador
Destroyed
"The surviving Blount Sister has been destroyed, Call it a gift. I owed you a life, though I imagined an unlife would be preferable, especially this one. She was quite intent on your destruction and had quite a shrine dedicated to even the most vague piece of information connected to you. She planned to eliminate your ghouls, then touchstones and finally yourselves. I could taste the hate when I drained her soul. Stupid bitch."

Marius then tosses a couple of polaroid pictures of the aforementioned shrine onto the table along with a bloody knitting needle. "A souvenir." he says.

Storytellers Note - This will make more sense if you read this story HERE.

The pictures indicated that the surviving Blount sister had been gathering information on the coterie for quite some time and had clearly established the identities and locations of those individuals who were most precious to them. All the coterie had experienced the death-trap and slaughterhouse that the Blounts had called home and could easily imagine the fate of those they cared for if they had fell into the clutches of the surviving sister.

"We had a visit from Dillan earlier." said Michael, changing the subject. "He seemed to be under the impression that we had arranged terms for his services..." Marius, as before, had an explanation.

"To be frank, the security upgrades to the gallery are to protect Heather who inexplicably wished to return to working for you. Protecting the system is as useful to me as to you and Dillan's ideas for your bar were intriguing but somewhat out of your price range, I wanted to see what he could achieve given free reign so I made up the difference myself."

The bit about the gallery security rang true, the rest was quite obviously bollocks. It was clear that Marius was grateful for Heather being saved but wouldn't come out and say so. Most suspected that she was a rare chink in his armour, but admitting it openly was something that 'The Fixer' was unlikely to do. "On the subject of Heather..." interrupted Vin. "...I hear you've been busy yourself..."

Marius smiled grimly and the look in his eyes became dangerous once more.

Bartosz Harrison - Brujah
Employee of 'Ike'
"All of Victor's allies, both obvious and concealed, are now destroyed. Only one associated kindred has been spared, namely Bartosz, who had a number of kindred of influence ready to vouch for him. He now has found employment with Ike which puts him out of my reach even if I felt like destroying him. Though I suppose the occasional show of mercy is necessary..." It was clear that he had considered Bartosz's destruction and that the show of mercy had been forced upon him. 

The mention of Ike's name had intrigued both Vin and Daniel. Vin was a regular attendee of the Brujah Fight Club and Daniel had fought there himself on occasion. In fact it was at that club that Daniel had killed the Baron of San Diego's emissary and made it look like an accident. Something in Marius's tone seemed to indicate that he had a less than positive opinion of 'Ike'. Vin asked him as much. "Ike? We had a disagreement three, no, four hundred years or so ago."

"And he's still around?" asked Daniel, somewhat incredulously. Marius's enemies usually had extremely short unlives. Marius's smile was slightly more genuine this time.

"Yes, and I've no wish to fight him again." continued Marius "Of course my blood was far less potent so that gave him the advantage despite the fact that, in my opinion at least, we were equal in skill."

Isaac 'Ike' Griffith - Brujah
'Brujah Fight Club' Founder
This caught the attention of them all. Marius's defeats were few and far between and he almost never discussed them with anyone.

"He had the edge in experience as well of course. Now I have the edge in raw power, but I doubt he's got worse at combat, quite the opposite in fact, so it's possible that his improved skills could counter that. It's a battle the result of which gains me nothing, so it's pure conjecture." His expression cast some doubt on this final statement and it was obvious to the more martial members of the coterie that Marius would quite like a chance to prove himself Ike's better. "He moves around a lot anyway, he has operations all over the world you see so he's not in the city enough for him to become a threat to the status quo." concluded Marius, apparently deciding to end this topic of conversation.

"How did your visit with Garcia's childer go?" asked Michael. His tone was casual but the question was serious. He wished to make himself the advisor to Gloria Martinez and Allison Maller in Victor's place and was suspicious that Marius had had the same idea.

"Baron's Maller and Martinez? They had considerable clean-up requirements after their campaigns against Victor and his followers. To be honest It's possible I undercharged them, but as they were acting against Victor I may have taken that into account. The other barons who helped out weren't exactly careful about leaving a mess either so there was a lot to do. They were quite talkative in fact, particularly on the subject of their reticent to allow a second opinion to influence their activities in future, especially after they mistakenly let Victor into their camp..."

Gloria Martinez - El Hermandad Baron, Allison Maller - Baron of Anaheim

Michael was curious about what advice, if any, that Marius had given them.

"I told them that seeking a second opinion wasn't a bad idea. I myself have many individuals against which I bounce ideas. I don't always take their advice, but I do listen to it. I gave them my opinion that the seneschal or advisor role was a good idea, they had just picked a piss-poor one in that self-centred, two-faced prick, Victor..." The coterie's attention was then piqued as Marius mentioned that he had given them three names of kindred that would make good advisors or Mawla's. Michael was particularly interested in who his three rivals were about to be. It was therefore a big surprise that one of the names given was his own.

Baron Abrams of Hollywood, Toreador - Baron Fortier of West L.A., Ventrue

"I told them to pick someone with experience at leadership, with their own established and stable power bases whose advice could be relied on to be impartial as they were already secure. I gave them a short-list of names consisting of Isaac Abram's, Louis Fortier and yourself." he concluded, addressing Michael directly.

Karen Anatos - Gangrel Anathema
'Having a Tantrum'
"I'm honoured that you considered me..." relied Michael. "...it's certainly puts me in illustrious company." Michael was also reasonably sure that neither Isaac or Louis would be particularly interested in the role which left the path open for him to continue with his own plan. He was surprised that Marius had no desire to influence them himself but kept that opinion to himself. "Have you been in touch with Karen Anatos?" asked Michael, changing the subject once more. "She has closed her borders and has been reluctant to speak to any of her neighbours." It was Marius's opinion that she was having a bit of a tantrum after losing a valued ghoul and that it would be a good idea to stay out of her way until she calmed down.

"I spoke to my sire..." interjected Vin. "...she mentioned that a lot of your childer are heading to the city." Both Michael and Daniel noted that Marius had tensed slightly as Vin had began to spoke and then relaxed when the subject raised was his childer. Evidently he had been expecting something different.

"It become necessary to ensure I had adequate cannon fodder. Vannevar is sure to make a move on San Jose whether he has Camarilla support or not. It may seem somewhat impetuous given that they've repelled him before, but this time he's prepared. He has the area thoroughly mapped and has been training forces specifically for the task. When he makes his move he'll roll over them without even feeling the bumps. I'll attempt to extract a couple of their more useful kindred if I can but I'm not risking any of my own assets to do it."

Vannevar Thomas - Prince of San Francisco
The explanation was plausible, though his assessment of Vannevar's aims and capabilities was somewhat alarming. Michael stated that he would not allow the Prince of San Francisco to also become the Prince of Los Angeles. The rest of the coterie confirmed that they too would be opposed to such a change within the city. Only Vin paused before replying. Possibly as their stated mission in the Free States was to take it for the Camarilla.

Mr Hertz's considerations usually boiled down to numbers in some form or another so it was he who asked just how much 'cannon-fodder' the city was likely to see. If anything, Marius's reply was less reassuring than his assessment of Vannevar.

"I'm not sure how many have survived the journey. Talon almost certainly will make it, Rebecca too. Maybe Vein if he makes it through Mexico without The Butchers Pack eating him. They never got on. The pack I had in the Sabbat, the Hunters of Ennoia...they'll need a name change now I think about it...should arrive within the week, they'd retrieved all the intelligence that they were going to. A few of the other packs under my influence have been given more specific tasks. If they succeed they'll be rewarded, if not then fuck 'em."

Desdemona Moore - Brujah
Camarilla Praetor, Sire of Vin
It seemed that Marius's somewhat haphazard method of parenting hadn't changed.

Vin made a mental note to see if his sire had any other information on these potential disruptive childer of Marius's. Daniel also made note of the names though he intended to ask his sources within the city instead.

The coterie was also concerned about what would happen to the populace of San Jose in the event of an invasion by the Camarilla. Michael then offered his own barony as a fall-back position should any of them wish to withdraw from a potential conflict. "To live to fight another day." so to speak. It was the opinion of Marius that the Brujah of San Jose would fight until their destruction though a couple of the more pragmatic Gangrel might withdraw if given the opportunity. "Their de-facto leader, Elspeth might be persuaded to abandon the area if she believed that she was withdrawing to a staging point from which she could counter-attack." theorised Marius.

Tara Kearney - Brujah
Baron of San Diego
The more combat orientated coterie members were somewhat surprised to find that this was exactly what Michael was offering. It seemed that he was beginning to accept that sometimes an aggressive response was the only option available.

"If there's nothing else..." said Marius, as he began to rise. "..I have other business to take care of before the end of the night." Daniel offered to escort the Baron of Downtown to his vehicle. Michael could tell that he wanted to have a private discussion so allowed Daniel to do as he had suggested.

Daniel laid out his idea that if San Jose was a lost cause anyway then perhaps they could use Vannevar's incursion to their advantage. If they left evidence at the incursion locations that made Vannevar believe that the recent assassination of one of his scouting forces was by another of the coteries enemies then perhaps both his and their forces could be weakened.

Specifically, Daniel wished to point him towards Baron Tara of San Diego who he was sure still had designs on Los Angeles. Marius said that he'd give the plan some consideration.

His new chauffeur was waiting outside and opened the back door for Marius who paused briefly to let his large Famulus pet enter first. The large wolf-like dog had been waiting patiently outside the gallery during the meeting

Scene Thirty Nine - Back to Business
The Last Round
Daniel headed to the Last Round to see what rumours he could pick up from the regulars there. The construction work to renovate Skid Row was well underway. Unfortunately this increase in mortal activity in the area and the amount of official looking personnel in the area had put off a lot of the kindred who normally visited the Last Round. This meant that Daniel picked up very little information of consequence. 

He learned that the two kindred who had left the Crypts Sons were now acting as sweepers for the Gangrel pseudo baronies of Santa Clarita and Simi Valley, that the Brujah Fight Club allowed Caitiff to fight as long as they had a Brujah sire and that the main topic of conversation currently was which of their coterie had destroyed Victor and how. None of this was particularly useful but Daniel filed it away, just in case.

The Blossoms - Toreador
Vin checked to make sure that his ghoul Sarah had no issues and then went to visit Karla of the Blossoms. The three Toreador who ran Downtown's sex trade for Marius had been surprisingly willing to pass on their knowledge to him and his own business was thriving like never before. 

In return he had performed a few minor enforcement tasks for them that had enabled them to minimise the amount of times they needed to bother Marius. This had, in turn, increased their own status within Downtown as Marius now left them alone as long as his percentage arrived promptly. 

Sarah's increased competence as an assistant had also freed up more of Vin's own nights. This was useful as his Sire had tasked him with locating his sister of the blood, Georgiana Landry who hadn't reported in for some time. Her last movements were towards the city undertaking some tasks to further her cover as an agent of the Sabbat. as this was a personal matter he was yet to bother the coterie with it.

Reuben Hart - Ghoul
'Boss' of 'The Apostles'
Mr Hertz's working relationship with Harvey Caplan, the gangster who ran the South Coastal ports and docks of Los Angeles, had turned his gang 'The Apostles' operations into one of the smoothest running criminal operations in the city. With his criminal operations more or less running themselves, Hertz had sought out new challenges to occupy himself. The investigations, both real and imagined, of his predecessor Roach, had been put into storage in one of the coteries secure areas in case the Malkavian seer ever returned. Mr Hertz had discovered them and was attempting to decode what he could. There was a surprising amount of useful information within. It was just like breaking a code and that was a challenge that the Nosferatu enjoyed.

Michael reached for his substantial list of contacts and arranged meetings and calls with them all, one by one. The political landscape of the city had changed once more and it was up to him to see what he and the coterie could gain from the chaos.

Hope returned to her patrols. With an effective force of five sweepers now at her disposal and with a smaller area to patrol, she was free to pursue her own quest to perfect her skills as a warrior. Of course this required seeking out more and more dangerous prey... 

To Be Continued in 'The Unbound' (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...

The players characters are beginning to have their own agendas and goals that could potentially split the coterie. 

Only one of them is still following the mission for which they were sent to the city with any degree of accuracy. The rest are creatively interpreting their instructions or have effectively 'gone native'. It will be interesting to see whether they reach a balance or implode. Well...interesting for me at least.

For now I need to go and make a shitload of handouts as the players hit up every single one of their contacts...see you next week I hope.

Acknowledgements
Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

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 Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Joaquín Murietta is Danny Trejo, Heather is Liz Vicious, Harvey Caplan is Harvey Keitel, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Karen Anatos is Christina Hendricks, Dillan Fitzgerald is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ewan Blake is Tom Sturridge, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Bartosz Harrison is Quinton Jackson, Isaac 'Ike' Griffith is Jason Statham, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verástegui, Prince Vannevar Thomas is Bryan Dechart, Desdemona Moore is Amanda Donohoe, Tara Kearney is Melissa Rauch, The Blossoms are (Tayla Quintana is Alyssa Milano, Karla Bray is Rose McGowan and Lottie Noble is Holly Marie Combs) and Reuben Hart is ray Liotta.

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.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Eighty - Veni, Vidi, Victor (Part Six)

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 chronicle is set in Los Angeles and features a small group of Camarilla agents sent into the 'Free States' to bring them back under Camarilla control. Over a year of plotting allowed the coterie to gain control of the three North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a fourth. Now they are moving on to the final stage of their campaign and have their eyes on taking over the entire city, either directly or by proxy.
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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.
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Chronicle One - 'Infiltrate L.A.' 
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
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Chronicle Two - 'Foothold L.A.' 
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 OneTwoThreeFour, Five and Six
Story Ten - 'Anathema' - Part One and Two
Story Eleven - 'Predators and Prey' aka 'The Blount Sisters' - Part Three
Story Twelve - 'Aftermath' - Part One and Two
Story Thirteen - 'The Messiah Complex' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
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Chronicle Three - 'Incursion L.A.'
Story Fourteen - 'The Rant'
Story Fifteen - 'Ties of Blood' - Part One and Two
Solo Session - 'A Gathering of Roses'
Story Sixteen - 'The Southern Solution' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Seventeen - 'The Baker Disappearance' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Eighteen - 'Inevitable Betrayals' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Nineteen - 'The Marius Contracts' - Part One and Two
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty - 'The MacNeil Protocols' - Part SixSevenEightNine and Ten
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Interlude Session One - After Griffith Park
Interlude Session Two - Divide and Conquer
Interlude Session Three - On the Brink of War
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Chronicle Four - 'Conquest L.A.'
Story Twenty One - 'Veni, Vidi, Victor' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
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The PC's
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, 'Baron of the North East'
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, 'Constable'
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'
Hope Romero - Gangrel, 'Census Taker'
Mr Hertz - Nosferatu, 'Seneschal'

The player characters stats and backgrounds can be found HERE should any-one be interested, but be warned that the page is usually several stories ahead of the most recent write-up and may contain some spoilers. 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 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 or faction beneath their picture.

Storytellers Note - Due to a Covid related local lockdown in the area in which I live, our group is currently unable to meet up in person. We have therefore done this session via 
messengers video 'room' app. 

Introduction
With both Victor Girard's information network and resources now in a state of chaos it is left to Michael to sort out any political fallout that the coterie may experience.
 

Now the coterie must see if their months of back-room deals, misinformation and manipulation have turned enough of the Barons against Victor to prevent him usurping and replacing Gloria as leader of El Hermandad.

Scene Twenty Eight - Opportunities
Woodland Media's Newspapers
Multiple scandals across the Woodland newspaper, magazine and multi-media empire has crippled the organisation financially and it is now rumoured to be on the verge of collapse. 

Over twenty-five years of blackmail and extortion have been revealed to be at the core of the L.A. Click's success. Henry Vaughn, their Editor in Chief, has been directly connected to these criminal activities and both criminal and private legal actions are expected to be launched against the publication. An unnamed witness is currently under police protection after also making allegations of violence, carried out on Mr Vaughn's orders.

Daniel was reasonably sure that this witness was Daryl Baxter who he had freed after discovering him to be a prisoner in his own home. It was also from him that Daniel had obtained the files that had spelt disaster for the L.A. Click. Though him being in police custody was a minor concern, Daniel had seen both the gratitude and fear in his eyes when released. Daniel doubted that his own name would be mentioned in conjunction with the five murders surrounding the case. If he was, then a sixth murder might become necessary.

Shane Hooper, legal advisor to the L.A. Vanguard has been found dead at a motel complex in Rowland Heights along with a drug dealer, Zac Stamp, and a prostitute named Mariella, both of which were known to the police. He was thought to have been caught up in a firefight between rival criminal gangs. The case has been complicated by evidence at the scene that Shane had also violently assaulted several of the young women there, one of whom has been revealed to be underage. Detailed accounts of Zac's activities have, according to police sources, also connected these activities to Anwen Derrick, L.A. Vanguards Editor in chief. Miss Derrick is currently helping police with their enquiries.

This has seriously undermined the newspapers litigation battle with actress Izabel Lopez and a ruling in her favour is expected within a few days. This is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars and is another blow to Woodland Media's financial stability.

Izabel Lopez - Actress
Once Mr Hertz took his two percent commission he believed that the coterie should make a tad under three million dollars from his arrangement with Lopez's legal and investigative teams to assist them. They had asked no questions about how the L.A. Vanguard had been so thoroughly discredited which is unsurprising as Hertz estimates that the lawsuit is worth somewhere in the region of sixty million. This makes the coteries cut of the profits a drop in the ocean compared to the nothing that Izabel was likely to have gotten previously.

Edmund Metcalfe, current project leader at Woodlands new media subsidiary has been found dead in what appears to have been a suicide. Sonia Craft, his psychiatrist, who had been missing for six months was taken to a nearby hospital by an unidentified good Samaritan several hours before his discovery and evidence has linked Edmund to her imprisonment, torture and psychological abuse. In light of this, authorities have reopened over a dozen missing persons and violent death cases involving individuals close to Mr Metcalfe. It is believed that on discovering that his latest victim had been freed that he took his own life rather than face arrest. So called 'Supercop' Captain Frank Atkins located Metcalfe and has released a statement saying that he had doubts about the death by overdose of Tayah Witt, former project director, of Woodland Media and had been undertaking an investigation in his own time that ultimately revealed this deranged serial killer's activities.

Captain Frank Atkins - Ghoul
Frank was suitably grateful for the tip-off as he had a rival for his next promotion and this new boost to his reputation should ensure that he got it. He also has a location for Karl Poole who both Michael and Daniel were looking for. He wants to know how the coterie would like to proceed.

The Thin-blooded, day-drinker, was currently living in a hotel in San Fernando, always paid cash. He also had an occasional female visitor but never the same one twice. These were probably prostitutes on which he fed. Frank Atkins has a man from a local precinct keeping an eye on him. Vin suggested exchanging one of the expected prostitutes for his own ghoul Sarah and having her "Deal with Karl". He was more than confident that Karl would provide little challenge for her. This confidence was also due to Vin's ability to endow his vitae with a fraction of his own physical abilities and then pass them onto another. With this advantage in her favour, Mr Poole wouldn't stand a chance.

The rest of the coterie agreed that this would be a simple and effective solution. Daniel briefly toyed with the idea of capturing Karl and then abandoned it. They had other concerns at the moment and Karl's removal from the playing field would be good enough.

In financial news, and in what may be the final nail in Woodlands coffin, their hundred and twenty million dollar investment in Advanced Innovations in Engineering, made three hours before the companies collapse into bankruptcy was mostly obtained through borrowing on the assets of other Woodlands subsidiaries. With share prices plummeting across all aspects of these businesses it is unlikely that they can repay even a fraction of these loans. It now seems likely that Woodlands will follow Advanced Innovations in Engineering into bankruptcy.

Don Maximillian Alonzo
Glass Walker Tribal Leader
Mr Hertz had immediately used a significant amount of the money gained from short selling Woodlands media stock into revitalizing the supply chain, warehousing and distribution businesses that were integral to the business deal with Don Alonzo Maximillian. This also effectively gave the coterie a way of transporting items and individuals around their barony without raising suspicion. 

With some of what was remaining he has accelerated building projects such as the security for the MacNeil system and completion of The Succubus Club. The galleries charitable 'SiP' foundation had also received a considerable cash boost, mainly because it's an easy way to give out untraceable bribes and looks good on the tax returns.

Word has also spread via the Gangrel information network known as 'The Oratory', that Karen Anatos has closed Burbank's borders and is no longer allowing any kindred feeding rights within her domain. She has stated her intention to "Manage her own affairs..." and has made it clear that she is the only kindred welcome in her feeding grounds. The rumours state that one of her favourite ghouls has been killed and that this has also bought considerable unwanted law enforcement attention to Burbank. She has made no specific accusations but it is clear that her domain is a place to be avoided for the foreseeable future as her impulsive nature makes it highly unlikely that she will issue warnings before acting against trespassers.

Michael has made it known that he thoroughly approved of Karen Anatos's decision to manage her own affairs as he had never intended his responsibility for the area to be a permanent situation. He has also stated that he is sure that Karen, now Baron, Anatos would prove to be a capable leader. Of course this was mostly hyperbole but he figured that supporting the move was likely to cause him less political embarrassment than objecting to it and looking like he had 'lost' the territory.

The coteries planning session was interrupted by Michael's ghoul, Lisa. Apparently a messenger had arrived to speak with Baron Tomassio.

Scene Twenty Nine - An Invitation
Mariel St, John - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Fortier
A well dressed and handsome young man approaches you and hands you a letter in a expensive envelope, it has your name on it in precise but elaborate script. "Miss St John says I am to await a reply."
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Baron Tomassio,

Baron Fortier would like to request your attendance at a matter for which he would like an independent observer. Should you be available he would require your attendance at his home at fifteen minutes to midnight this evening. You may bring any reasonable entourage you deem necessary.

Yours Sincerely,

Mariel St. John
--------------------

"Tell Miss St. John that I would be more than happy to assist in any way I can." The messenger nodded and returned to his car. Both Daniel and Vin noticed that the messenger had arrived with a driver and two additional guards. This was a lot of security just to deliver a letter.

Michael decided to take Daniel, Vin and Mr Hertz with him and leave Hope to manage the coteries sweepers. All of the coterie were concerned that they might be the victims of retaliatory action and Hope was an ideal deterrent. Michael ensured that all the coterie were well dressed. If they were to be guests of an important Baron like Louis Fortier then turning up dressing like hobo's would create entirely the wrong impression.

Sarah - Ghoul of Vin
Personal Assistant and Enforcer
Vin had taken to dressing much better over the last year, his ghoul Sarah being a positive influence in that area as well as others. He was large and he had a heavily muscled frame so he had had to have a few suits made. Quite how the tailor felt about having to compensate for a scabbarded two-handed machete being concealed at the Brujah's back had never been revealed. This being L.A. anything was possible if you had enough money.

Daniel already had a selection of expensive clothes from his legitimate job as a surgeon and Mr Hertz was always in a suit and hat, though they were decades out of date. Again, this being L.A. it was unlikely that anyone would notice or care.

Michael's chauffeur Dion, who also was reporting on the coteries activities to Fiorenza Savona, was to drive them in Michael's personal vehicle. After several unfortunate incidents, Michael had purchased a similar vehicle to that used by Marius. It was heavily armoured but still powerful enough for a quick getaway. Dion was the best driver they had and had demonstrated his ability to make quick getaways when required. He doubted that Louis would issue a formal invitation if he meant them harm, but Michael was taking no chances. 

Vin as usual had his machete and also had a Sig Sauer P220, chambered for 10mm in a shoulder holster, Daniel had his usual vast armoury of obvious and also cleverly concealed weapons while Mr Hertz was unarmed apart from a flick-knife he habitually carried in his pocket. Michael had chosen not to carry any weaponry at all. After all, he had people to deal with things like that on his behalf.

Scene Thirty - Dignitas
The Fortier's Mansion - Beverly Hills
Security at the Fortier mansion is as tight as ever and its worth noting that the guard patrols seem to be more regular and several more cameras and sensors have been installed. The gate also has been exchanged for a far sturdier version. It looks like several of the guards near to the gates are wearing much heavier and conspicuous body armour than before and the weaponry on display seems to be higher calibre and less subtle than previously.

Mariel St.John is waiting for you at the main entrance. She seems to be unusually serious. "I'd advise you all to be careful this evening with any statements that might be interpreted as questioning Baron Fortiers decisions. He is in a vindictive frame of mind this night."

Michael picked up that it was not them that Fortier was upset with but it was also obvious that Mariel was concerned that his wrath may become diverted towards them should they say the wrong thing at the wrong time. They weren't asked to relinquish their weapons though the fact that they had them had certainly been noticed, This indicated to both Vin and Daniel that the increased security wasn't for their benefit.

Horatio Ballard - Ventrue
Childe of Lodin, Chicago
Mr Hertz felt very comfortable indeed. The mansion reminded him of the homes of many of the powerful gangsters he'd associated with when mortal and later after his embrace. He could easily imagine Horatio Ballard basing himself in such a place.

You are escorted to a large meeting or dining room though it is now mostly empty of furniture. Louis Fortier is seated at the far end of the room, Catherine Du Bois is at his right hand, an empty seat is at his left, presumably Mariel's next to where Elena is seated. Guards armed with sub machine guns line the walls and others with assault weapons are positioned on the balcony above. Kneeling in one corner with shotgun armed guards just behind them are Ralph Harwood and his childe Theodor. A table next to them contains a selection of swords, from a variety of sources and countries of origin.

Michael noticed the quality of the weapons but was only familiar with swordplay at it's most basic level. Vin also had, on occasion, used a sword but his technique was more akin to a berserk barbarian. He was effective, but his technique was somewhat unsophisticated. Daniel however was a true connoisseur of sword combat. All the weapons were high quality examples of their types in both decoration and functionality.

There were longswords, short swords, sabres, a couple of rapiers, and a single katana amongst others. Anyone familiar with swordplay should be able to find a weapon that suits their own particular style. The coterie were also surprised to see Baron Abrams present, standing behind Louis, leaning casually against his chair as if this sort of thing happened every night.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West L.A.
Mariel introduces you all as you enter, then adds another honorific "The arbiter you selected is here, Baron Fortier." She bows formally and then gestures towards a row of chairs that have been provided for you. Fortier rises and you notice he has a sabre sheathed at his side. It is most definitely not there merely for decoration.

Michael acknowledged both Baron Fortier and Baron Isaac with a nod of the head and then sat in the indicated location. The others followed their Barons example except for Vin who remained standing. He casually loosened his suit jacket so he had easy access to his own blade. One of the guards noted the gesture with a sideways glance but took no action.

"Ralph Harwood and his childe have chosen to reject my hospitality, question my leadership and insult my choice of allies and confidants. They are here to be given a chance to prove themselves in honourable combat. Baron Isaac Abrams is here to witness the fairness of this trial, though as my ally his impartiality could be questioned. I have therefore asked Baron Tomassio and his inner circle to act as additional witnesses."

To the others, Louis seemed to be approaching the situation with a coolness and formality that was admirable given the serious nature of the encounter. To Michael it was clear that he was raging within.

One of the shotgun armed guards, unlocks the chains restraining Ralph's childe and then steps back. "Choose your weapon..." says Louis, seemingly calm. Ralph's childe reaches for a katana and without saying a word lunges at Louis without waiting for a signal to begin. His attempt at a surprise attack gains him nothing as Baron Fortier draws his sword in one motion and drives a powerful stop thrust straight through their heart. Before they can attempt to heal this grievous wound, Louis twists his weapon free and lops of their head with a flick of the wrist. "This one has been found guilty." He says, but it's obvious that Theodor's destruction is not the object of this exercise.

Ralph Harwood - Ventrue
Baron of San Fernando
As the body is dragged away, Ralph is then released from his manacles. "Let's hope your skills more closely match your ambitions, Baron Harwood of San Fernando." The honorific is dripping with sarcasm. Ralph then reaches for a sword but before stepping forward, addresses Michael. "You have a reputation as a fair and merciful man, do you think that this farce is in any way 'just'?" Fortier pauses and also turns to you, he seems to be giving you the opportunity to speak. You see Mariel tense, this seems to be what she was concerned about.

Michael rose from his chair. The rest of the coterie who were used to their Barons high moral standards braced themselves in case his reply caused any negative reactions. Not that there was much they could do against the overwhelming resources that Louis possessed here at the centre of his empire.

"This situation is entirely one of your own making..." began Michael. "...as it was you who chose to abandon the hospitality of your host and the generous protections that he had provided. You who conspired to take the barony of another, consorted with others behind Louis's back and then insulted Baron after Baron, kindred after kindred, alienating one ally after another." he paused briefly, possibly for dramatic effect. "Trial by combat has always been a tool to solve problems between kindred, especially noble clans such as the Ventrue..." He chose to omit the fact that the Sabbat also used the method as that would undermine his argument somewhat. "...you have been given the opportunity to prove yourself and Baron Fortier has every right to judge your actions in this manner.

He then returned to his seat as both Mariel and his coterie members relaxed once more.

Harwood is far less impetuous than his childe and seems to be familiar with the sword as a weapon. He has several exchanges with Louis who parries each attack almost dismissively, following each with a wounding attack that Ralph is powerless to defend against. Growing frustrated he oversteps with a lunge and Louis lops his hand off at the wrist. As Ralph looks at his severed limb in shock, Fortier removes his other hand then steps to the side and slices through Ralph's stomach almost to the spine as he rips the blade free, he steps behind his now kneeling and eviscerated opponent, driving his sword through their heart from the back.

He leans forward and whispers something into Ralph's ear before grabbing Harwoods head in both hands and twisting it the wrong way round. One hand slides under his vanquished foes chin and another rests lightly on their shoulder as Baron Fortier rips their now backward facing head from their shoulders one-handed.

"What did he say?" asked Vin, well aware of the acuteness of Daniel's senses. "He told him that he was unworthy of a noble death." relayed Daniel. "No arguing with that." replied Vin.

The Barony of the Angels - Divided
Now the Barony of Downtown
Baron Fortier then turns to Michael. "I think you'll agree I gave him every chance to prove his case. I'd also appreciate you being more careful with the agreements you force upon others. Even if your intentions are honourable there are always those willing to subvert your aims. I trust you will not forget this lesson in the future..."

Michael picked up that this was not a threat as such, though there was a certain measure of frustration in Louis's voice. The implication was that it was the Barony of the Angels agreement negotiated by Michael that had complicated the situation. Michael inclined his head in acknowledgement of the statement. To a certain extent Louis was correct and arguing the point would gain him nothing.

Daniel's interest had been fully on the combat. The chance to witness first-hand the sword techniques of someone with three centuries of combat experience was rare indeed. Though their styles were very different, Daniel theorised that his own skills with a sword were broadly equivalent to Louis's. The Baron was, however, noticeably faster and more precise. Fortier's blood was undoubtedly more potent than his own giving him greater reserves of power on which to draw and this would certainly give Louis the edge should they ever fight blade to blade. 

It was also clear to Daniel that in any contest where physical strength became a factor, Louis would surpass him quite easily. He was also aware that this had more or less been a fair fight. In a less formal battle, Baron Fortier could just tell him to jump out of the window and he'd probably do it, and believe it was his own idea. Daniel had been an admirer of Louis before this event and nothing he had witnessed had changed his assessment.

A moment late there is a knock at the door and a guard appears. "Apologises for the interruption Baron, but we've just received a...delivery...that you need to see..." A moment later two more men appear, each carrying a case that looks very similar to those used for carrying organs for transplant. Mariel opens each case as the first guard to enter hands her an expensive but plain envelope that seemingly arrived with the 'parcels'. It was clear that each contained a partially decayed head.

Mariel opens the envelope and takes the letter to Louis though is clearly reading it as she walks, he peruses it, hands it to Issacs who also reads it and smiles before returning it to Mariel. "Michael may find this eventuality interesting." Mariel then hands the passed around letter to you.

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Dear Baron Fortier,

These two kindred came to our Barony seeking sanctuary. Though you and Baron Walker have had your disagreements he still holds you in considerable esteem. Therefore in his temporary absence I have acted in the manner I believe that he himself would have done so under the same circumstances. 

I therefore present you with the heads of Ralph's misguided followers Bobbie Franco and Kurtis Bryan who were attempting to escape your judgement,

Yours's Sincerely,

Victoria Anne.
--------------------

Bartosz Harrison - Brujah
Former Blue Bloods Gang Member
Michael noted that Vin seemed relieved after hearing the two names as if he was concerned about which followers of Ralph had been executed. Vin was indeed relieved. He actually liked Bartosz Harrison and had spoken to him in private at one of the Brujah fight Club events about the wisdom in disassociating himself from Ralph as soon as possible. 

He had even considered recruiting him himself but given the situation that could have had political consequences. Vin had been forced to settle for asking some of his kindred business acquaintances to consider taking him in. Hopefully one had done so. When the dust settled he might well approach him again.

Daniel mentally crossed the two destroyed Brujah off his list of potential targets. Judging from the necrotic rot at the neck of each decapitated head, Daniel suspected that Victoria had destroyed them both herself. He had seen such damage before when she had killed a number of Caitiff and thin-bloods who made up Jenna Cross's ill-fated revolution.

Isaac coughs unnecessarily and Louis turns around. "The other matter? well, as Baron Tomassio is here it would save us the bother of scheduling a second meeting. Michael, can you spare us another hour of your time? Catherine will arrange some refreshments for your companions while they wait."

Michael, of course, agreed.

Scene Thirty One - San Fernando
Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Michael, Louis and Abrams are escorted by a mere two guards to a meeting room that unlike the trial area is sumptuously and expensively furnished. Three bottles of blood wine have been placed on an oak table between a square of comfortable sofa's. There are three glasses, inlaid with gold, laid out on the table. Fortier offers Michael a seat, then addresses him. "I and Isaac have come to a decision about San Fernando and as part of the domain is under your protection, Isaac deemed it polite to inform you of our plans. Isaac, if you will?"

Meanwhile, the others were taken to a much different part of the mansion.

You are escorted to a spacious room with curtained alcoves surrounding three sides, the fourth is the wall from which you entered. each alcove contains either a bed, sofa, chaise lounge, table and chairs or some similar area in which one can relax. 

Tables and sofa's are also spaced around the centre of the room, presumably allowing those using the private areas to mingle in-between their activities within the alcoves. "Do you have any particular preferences?" asks Catherine. "Gender, race, age, size, hair and eye colour? I can cater to most mundane tastes, anything particularly obscure requires advanced notice I'm afraid..."

Catherine Du Bois - Ventrue
Mistress and Childe of Louis Fortier
Neither Vin or Mr Hertz had any particular preferences and said as much to Catherine. "I have some issues with feeding from military personnel or those with a medial background." Said Daniel. Catherine smiled. "I'm sure that can be catered for." she said, before leaving to see to their requirements. Daniel was sure that infinitely more bizarre requests than his had been made within this room.

All the vessels selected for you are beautiful and quite obviously blood-bound, brainwashed or drugged into being little more than blood dolls, or obedient participants in whatever other activities you have in mind. "I'd join you but I ate very recently." says Catherine. She then leaves you with your companions.

None of the coterie were particularly hungry so took a small taste just to be polite. In the room containing the three Barons, other matters of import were being discussed.

Isaac was laying out the plan decided upon by him and Louis. As all three shared the same rank, they had dispensed with the tedious formality of referring to each other by Baron and instead used each others first names.

"I am taking control of San Fernando, effectively it will become part of Hollywood. Should Jeremy MacNeil return then I will deal with any consequences that occur. I will grant you the area you currently protect as feeding ground. Functionally it will make no difference to your activities. the only difference will be that any trespassers or other issues will be my responsibility to deal with. Hopefully that is satisfactory to you?"

"So effectively I govern the area as I please, but you deal with any major issues that effect the area as a whole?" clarified Michael. "Because if so, then that is more than satisfactory." This almost seemed too good to be true. His use of the territory was unaffected but any kindred who interfered with the domain would have Baron Abrams to deal with as well as any response from his own people.

This also made it unlikely that any other kindred would attempt what Harwood had tried. Isaac was not an enemy you wanted to have. "While we are all together I would like to raise something that I was speaking of with Isaac Abrams." Began Michael. "If Isaac has no objection?"

"If you mean my troublesome ancestor then Louis is well aware of a powerful kindred who has been behind the scenes in the city. He has known of this individual for some time." Said Louis. "Actually..." said Michael. "...I was referring to our discussion on a better future for the Anarch Free States." Intrigued, Louis asked Michael to continue.

Michael spoke of his belief that the Free States were descending into chaos and this is was at least in part due to inherent failures in the system. "I hold Jeremy MacNeil in high regard." clarified Michael. "But times have changed and the Free States have not. I believe it is time to try something new. Something that allows us to keep acting as independent Barons yet act together against threats that can only now be defeated if we are united. The Second Inquisition, the Sabbat, an increasingly militarised Camarilla, all these institutions would be able to take advantage of the fractured Free States that we currently inhabit."

'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
The Last Round, Downtown
"Your solution?" interjected Louis.

"A council. Each Barony has a representative, elected in some manner by the kindred populace of that Barony. All decisions encompassing the Anarch Free States as a whole are decided by the new Anarch Council. In situations that would also require us to work together we would need to nominate a temporary enforcer for L.A. A Constable if you will, but not like a Sherriff, we are not looking to recreate the Ivory Tower, merely nominating a temporary war leader to guide our forces. In such circumstances we'll probably need a Sweeper with equivalent authority but that is a more difficult proposition."

"I believe we were discussing the role of Nines Rodriguez in such a system." Stated Isaac, when Michael paused.

"He is potentially a great leader." explained Michael. "But refrains from taking such a role due to his own opinions on one kindred ruling another. However he would be a tremendous asset in a temporary role driven by necessity. After all, he has fought against both the Sabbat and the Camarilla in the past."

Neither Isaac nor Louis had commented much which had led Michael to believe that they thought the idea had some merit. It was Louis who raised the main issue and it was something that had also occurred to Michael himself. "For this idea to work you'd need every Baron in the city to agree. If even one was against the idea the system would fall apart and that dissent would spread."

A New Anarch Council - A Good Idea In Theory

Michael decided to take a risk and asked both of the other Barons present if they would be in favour of such a plan. Both agreed that they would but still had their doubts about the practicality of any scheme that needed multiple Barons to agree on something. The three engaged in a little more small talk, drank some wine and then Michael thanked them for listening to his theories and indicated that it was time for him to leave. He stopped briefly to take advantage of Catherine's offer of a vessel from which to feed. Daniel used the opportunity to thank Isaac for the blades he'd given him as a gift. Then the coterie left the Fortier's fortress mansion.

Any discussion of what had occurred was put on hold as Daniel received a worrying message.

Scene Thirty Two - A Civil War
Leo Frost - Brujah
El Hermandad, Daniel's Friend
Daniel receives a text message from Leo Frost. It says. "It's happening, Victor is making his move. Allison hasn't picked a side, it's going to be close. If we don't speak again, It was nice knowing you."

Each coterie member immediately began to pull in any favours they could to gather information on what exactly had occurred. Firstly though, Michael phoned Hank of the Crypts Sons to warn him that the eventuality he'd described was coming to pass. If he wished an El Hermandad ruled by Victor's puppet then ne need do nothing. If however he preferred his rivals to remain under the leadership of Gloria Martinez then he would need to support her side in any civil war.

Hank revealed that Priss of the so-called 'Border Barony' had been mapping out the Havens of El Hermandad members who had shown to be loyal to Victor rather than Gloria and who were in striking distance of the border.

Michael also then warned Gloria that Hank and Priss were temporarily at least on her side and to ensure that her own people bear that in mind.

Mr Hertz disappeared into the sewers so as to liaise with his Nosferatu Mawla's and contacts. Vin immediately hit the streets and ensured his street level contacts had their ears to the ground for any useful information. Daniel had his own Nosferatu information source but also had his own investigation teams and useful ghouls. 

'Max' - Gangrel
De facto Sweeper - North East L.A
While this was going on, Michael got in touch with Hope and told her to check in with their own Baronies sweepers. It was then that he discovered that 'Max' who had previously encountered two trespassers had been ambushed near the border with El Hermandad, possibly as retaliation for her previous interference. Either way it had gone badly for the interloper as Max had apparently shot them full of holes then tore them to pieces.

As they began to combine the information from their various sources they discovered that their campaign against Victor had gone far better than they could have hoped. Virtually every kindred they had warned about Victor was taking advantage of his lack of resources and focus upon Gloria to strike at him, his followers and his organisation.

Hank had indeed taken a significant portion of forces across the border and had destroyed several of Victors followers. Priss had also ambushed several kindred as they had moved from their bases to join Victors attack on Gloria's own followers.

The Caitiff gang knows as the 'The Liberated' had surprised everyone by joining Gloria. The normally neutral gang had decided to aid her out of gratitude for been granted a home by her. Even though she made no demands of them for support, they felt like they owed it to her.

Caitiff, Thin-bloods and Outcasts - Joining Forces Against Victor

They had been largely ignored by Victor but the coterie had found out that Girard had more or less threatened them to stay out of any upcoming conflict. This had seemingly inspired them to do exactly the opposite. 

Observers had noted that The Liberated were uniformly and heavily armed with assault rifles, body armour and high calibre handguns. Either they had been preparing for a while or they had been equipped by a kindred leader with resources to spare. Daniel suspected Marius, but had no evidence to support his theory.

Storytellers Note - Daniel suspects Marius of pretty much everything vagally unexplained that occurs in the city. Mainly because many of their activities have centred on Downtown and so they're most familiar with his activities, hence the amount of Faction Profiles I've had to do centred on that area. Louis Fortier, Isaac Abrams, Therese Voerman and a few others have equivalent networks and resources as well.

The Wilds Pack on El Hermandad's Eastern border had acted in a similar manner to Priss and Hank and had wiped out a number of vulnerable targets. However, unlike Hanks contingent had immediately withdrew rather than push forward looking for targets deeper into the Barony.


It was then that Vin received some additional information from a Brujah he knew, who was one of Allison's followers. It seemed that Victor had sent a messenger to Allison forces asking them to move against Gloria on his behalf. Victor had underestimated their loyalty as they had promptly informed Allison who had had the messenger executed then moved into El Hermandad's Barony to support a fellow childe of Salvador Garcia, her 'sister' of the blood Gloria Martinez.

"Let's go see if Gloria needs some help." Said Michael, to the others surprise. "Have the Sweepers be ready to support us should we need them, the rest of us will head to Gloria's base. I imagine if anything's going on it'll be happening there."

Scene Thirty Three - A Last Stand
Gloria Martinez - Brujah
Baron of El Hermandad
As they moved through El Hermandad the news stations were full of reports of gang clashes across the city. Apparently those kindred with media connections were already attempting to ensure that there were no masquerade breaches due to the civil war. With close to a third of the cities kindred population mobilised in one way or another this could go very wrong should the Second Inquisition become suspicious.

Daniel phoned his friend Leo to try to get some clarity from the chaotic and haphazard information they were receiving. He also wanted to ensure that their arrival was expected. Leo informed him that Gloria was safe. The coteries warnings had been heeded and so the Baron of El Hermandad was more than ready for the first assassination attempt. They had then braced for attacks against her people across their domain and rival baronies taking advantage. It therefore came as somewhat of a shock to find that all the assaults were being perpetrated against Victor's assets rather than by Victors assets. "You had something to do with that I imagine?" surmised Leo.

"We've been expecting it for a while." admitted Daniel. "Michael has been making agreements and gaining promises of aid from baronies across the city. Apparently the majority view is that Gloria as Baron is preferable to Victor as de facto Baron..."

When they arrived at the club and bar that served as Gloria's base of operations it was clear that this had been the location for at least one gun battle. Leo was waiting outside for them to arrive. He nodded to Daniel, then spoke to Michael. "Gloria is inside if you want to speak to her. She's got guards but they know your coming up." Michael accepted the invite and made his way to where Gloria was held up.

'The Liberated' - Leaderless Gang
"Anything I can do to help?" asked Daniel, Leaving Vin and Hope to see to Michael's safety. "We've got the last few of the bastards held up in a warehouse near here." revealed Leo. "We think it was their staging point. Now it's their fall-back position. We've got it surrounded but as their staging area we imagine they've got a lot of firepower in there. Care to have a look yourself?" asked Leo. Daniel was, of course, more than happy to assist.

A few of Gloria's people were there as well as a significant group of Caitiff, thin bloods and what may have been at least one Nosferatu. These were apparently the gang known as 'The Liberated' to whom Gloria had given a home nearly a year ago. They seemed to have no leader yet acted as unit with a surprising degree of organisation. Daniel and seen such things before. Groups of military personnel, mercenaries or freedom fighters who had been together so long that they instinctively knew each others roles and acted accordingly.

Allison Maller - Brujah
Baron of Anaheim
Daniel also changed his mind about Marius being the source of their weapons. Their rifles and other gear was very similar to that used by the Brujah of Allison Maller, Baron of Anaheim. Daniel surmised that Allison has armed them from her own stockpiles so as not to alert Victor.

Daniel had decided that any victory here needed to be attributable to Gloria's own people so as to keep them united and to not appear too weak to other Baronies, especially those who had given their aid to El Hermandad but might be tempted to take a little too much advantage of the situation.

"I'm not sure I'd have picked so flammable a base of operations." prompted Daniel, pointing at the piles of pallets and other wooden materials stacked around the warehouse and gesturing towards the roof which was similarly vulnerable. He also gave Leo some guidance about good places for his own people to take cover while still giving them good angles of fire against any kindred trying to escape the upcoming inferno.

One of Gloria's kindred needed a little encouragement as the fear of holding a flammable projectile temporarily overwhelmed their desire for revenge. Leo took the Molotov cocktail from them and instead guided them to a position to give covering fire. Those of Victors people who tried to escape were cut down by overwhelming firepower. The rest were destroyed by the inferno. Victory for Gloria's side had been secured.

Michael, Vin and Hope found Gloria in her base of operations along with one of her sweepers, Velme and the Tremere of  House Ipsissimus. Several kindred bodies had been piled in one corner for future disposal, no doubt from the failed initial assassination. Vin noted with some curiosity that one of them appeared to have been struck by lightning.

'Velme' - Daughter of Cacophony, Alessandro Kaye - House Ipsissimus

"It seems I am in your debt." said Gloria. "Though on the downside I also owe Hank and Priss a boon or two which is going to be painful I'm sure." Michael explained the actions he'd been taken behind the scenes and Gloria listened intently. "You have a rare talent for persuasion." admitted Gloria. "Though on a serious note, there's been no sign of Victor and I doubt he's very fond of you right now."

Gloria's statement had apparently tempted fate as each member of the coterie received an automated message. Someone had hit the panic alarm in Michael's gallery. "We need to go." said Michael. as soon as they reached the car Michael told Dion to get them back to Pasadena as fast as possible and damn any consequences. They all feared the worst.

Scene Thirty Four - Victor's Revenge
Lisa Irving - Ghoul of Michael
As they neared the gallery, Michael received a phone call from his ghoul Lisa. She called his name, screamed, then the line went dead. 

Three of your security team are in the lobby area of the gallery, dead. One has been almost torn in two, another has been shot at close range, another has a slit throat. Apparently from behind.

The coterie drew their weapons and then entered the gallery.

Two more dead guards are in the entrance area. Lisa is slumped against the counter, and is barely breathing, in a pool of blood resulting from a deep stomach wound. A mobile phone is next to her hand, apparently crushed by a booted foot. 

Heather, your sales assistant and also a ghoul of Marius, is lying face down in a pool of unusually dark blood, her throat, like the guard in the entranceway has been sliced deeply from behind. Two bodies are either side of her, one mortal, one kindred. The mortal has been shot through the face with a high calibre hand gun, presumably the snub nose .44 clutched in Heather's left hand. 

Half of the kindred's head is missing which may explain the bits of skull embedded in the knuckles of Heather's right hand, which also clutches a phone.

Heather - Favoured Ghoul of Marius
Victoria's number had been dialled. Victoria's voice can be heard from the other side. "Heather? I swear if I've sent Yukio all that way and you've just phoned me with your arse again, I'll be very upset..." Evidently Yukio, Marius's ghoul enforcer is on her way. Michael attracted Vin's attention and then pointed at the phone. He could deal with the Marius's psychotic P.A. as his own attention was entirely focussed on his own ghoul, Lisa.

Daniel's medical training had kicked in instantly and he analysed the situation swiftly. Heather needed immediate treatment or would be dead in minutes, Lisa could be stabilised quickly and this would still leave enough time to save Heather unless she had other injuries he hadn't noticed.

Then Vin's ghoul Sarah arrived with Vin's auto shotgun in it's usual bag, Sarah had a 10mm Glock in each hand. Five men, oddly similar looking to Vin had arrived with her. All are also armed.

You hear machine-gun fire from the rear of the building. It is Sarah, not Vin who gives their people their orders. "You three secure the perimeter, no-one but our people come in. You two check the back, if you see a weird looking man in an old suit and a hat, he's one of ours so don't fuck with him. Any-one else kill."

Part of Mr Hertz's Armoury
Mr Hertz appeared with the two guards, he was clutching his old Thompson submachine gun with a hundred round drum. "Three dubious looking individuals were running out of the loading bay door. Two were mortal and are therefore no longer an issue." he said matter of factly.

He then patted his submachine gun, presumably indicating that was the method he'd used. He then continued to speak. "The third was kindred, probably Brujah from the speed he was moving, something upstairs scared the shit out of him, I'm afraid I missed..." Hertz was a better than average shot and was familiar with his trusty old 'Tommy Gun' but had been unable to hit the final enemy. There supernatural movement speed had been just enough of an edge to save them.

Marius Walker - Gangrel Baron of Downtown
'Very Protective of Heather'
Michael had followed Daniel's instructions and this, along with a measure of Michael's own vitae had stabilised Lisa. Heather was now also stable though it had required a significant infusion of Daniel's own blood as well as some of the most precise medical work he'd ever utilised to accomplish. Marius's reaction should Heather have been killed on their premises wasn't something one wanted to consider for too long.

Mr Hertz switched the half-empty drum magazine on his Thompson submachine gun for a full one and moved to the rear entrance, just in case the fleeing kindred decided to return. With the ghouls temporarily out of danger, Michael, Daniel and Vin then went upstairs to investigate what had spooked the fleeing enemy. Hope began to contacted the Baronies sweepers to inform them to get to the gallery as fast as possible. 

Victoria - Ghoul of Marius
Psychotic P.A.
As they climbed the stairs, Vin revealed the result of his conversation with Victoria. "She's on her way and she's pissed. I also think she's concerned about Marius's reaction." This was perfectly understandable. They were all worried about that eventuality.

The barely human looking body of an intruder lies mangled outside Michael's office, obliterated by one of the wards set by Marie over a year ago. The door to Michael's occult library, barely used now in favour of the Neillson repository has a pool of blood spreading out from beneath it. It would require several bodies to make such a puddle.

Michael recalled with some concern that when he'd been given the occult books and their spiritual guardians he'd been warned that to a certain extent it's ghostly occupants fed on the interaction between those who used the reading material and the material itself. He'd stopped utilising the room when he gained access to the Neillson Library of Carmelita Neillson. One of their initial three coterie members, the Malkavian Roach had continued to use the room as he found the ghost within amusing. It then occurred to him that since Roach's disappearance the room hadn't been used for a year.

It had been some time since Daniel had fed his addiction to kindred vitae and he knew instinctively that the puddle of blood contained a significant quantity. Unable to resist, he dipped his hand in it and licked it clean. "Just attempting to gain what information I can from the blood." explained Daniel, lying through his teeth. 

The rest had witnessed him using this ability before but had never seen him need a handful of blood to make it work before. Fortunately for Daniel there were more important things on the others minds and the unusual act was quickly forgotten.

Daniel then gingerly opened the door.

For a moment what you are looking at is not the room that should be there, It is like staring into an abyss. You begin to feel sick as something is looking back at you from the void. Something made of Tentacles, teeth and little else. Then you are looking at a small room packed with books once more. The spirits within, occasionally witnessed are manifested. A beautiful but pale young woman, is holding the hand of a child with eyes of pure blackness. The child's other hand is holding four severed heads by what is left of their spines which she casually tosses at your feet, of their bodies there is no sign. 

The woman speaks. "Your wards prevented us from venturing from this area." she then points at the pile of heads. "These came too close, and my daughter was very hungry after so long trapped in this tiny cupboard. We would wish to return to Marius's own library if our books are no longer of use to you. Next time her hunger might be sated less appropriately.

The Ghost in the Library
The door then slams shut and you find yourself standing in a bloody puddle next to four skulls and spinal columns. Two are mortal and judging from the decay, two were kindred.

Storytellers Note - They're lucky this happened really, or they'd have got a nasty surprise when they next went into that room.

As the group returned downstairs, Yukio is being escorted in by two of Vin's guards, apparently they have been given some training in individuals to avoid engaging in conflict with. "Messy..." she says, though you are unsure whether it's an aesthetic or professional assessment. "Did Heather survive this?" The fear is evident in her voice, she is certainly weighing the consequences should Heather be dead.

"I managed to save her." said Daniel reassuringly

"Thank fuck for that." said Yukio obviously relieved. "Victoria will be her with a clean-up team here within twenty minutes, excuse me please, I have to report in to her."

Victoria arrived exactly on schedule, together with an Aegis clean-up team and a private ambulance. She went straight over to Michael. "I can have my people look after your own ghoul as well as Heather if you wish. Our surgeon is top-notch. Daniel's met her and I'm sure can vouch for her credentials." Daniel confirmed that Dr Melissa Russell was extremely talented and could be trusted to give the two ghouls the absolute best treatment. 

Dr Melissa Russell - Ghoul
Aegis Medical - In-House Surgeon
Michael gave his consent and the medical staff took Lisa and Heather away. Victoria then surveyed the scene. "Victor?"

"Some of these were definitely Victors people." agreed Daniel. Vin confirmed that the kindred Heather had caved the skull in of was one of Victor's Brujah he'd spoken to when they'd visited El Hermandad's base a week or so ago. Mr Hertz's description of the one who had escaped the wrath of the libraries spirits also matched that of one of Mr Girard's misguided followers. Victoria seemed to be unusually on edge. It soon became apparent why as she spoke to Michael.

"Marius will be back in two nights. By then Victor needs to have been found and destroyed. It will be far simpler if Marius can be presented with such a 'fait accompli' or he is likely to react badly...and by badly I mean, he'll roll into El Hermandad with every resource at his disposal and indiscriminately torture to death any kindred he can find till someone points him at Victor. If they don't he'll move to the next likely area and do the same. Killing a city is perhaps beyond him, perhaps not. Let's avoid finding out shall we?"

The coterie had now gathered around their Baron to await his decision though given his attachment to Lisa, they were reasonably sure he'd want to go after Victor. They weren't disappointed. Victoria seemed sympathetic to the coteries desire to extract their revenge themselves without outside interference. "I understand if you wish to resolve this matter personally considering the nature of the attack. You may have the rest of the evening to do so, after that I'll have to deal with the matter myself. Is that acceptable?"

Yukio - Ghoul of Marius
Assassin and Enforcer
Michael immediately set Daniel and Mr Hertz to identifying any likely bolt-holes where Victor may go to ground, told Vin to ensure he had his usual firepower and tasked Hope with gathering two of the sweepers to accompany them. Hope chose Orla and Carla who had worked together as a team on previous occasions. Before Yukio left, Daniel asked her if she had any 'special' equipment with her. Given the situation she had bought everything. The Banu Haqim helped himself to a selection of armour-piercing and incendiary rounds. They were taking no prisoners on this mission.

With Mr Hertz using his computer expertise to back-up Daniel's suspicions and hunches they set themselves to the task given to them. Thinking about the movements of San Fernando's people and various snippets of information Daniel had picked up while undermining Victor's business, he became reasonably sure that Victors final base was in the Woodland Hills in San Fernando. Hertz cross-referencing the information given to him by Daniel with data he had gathered on Victor's various businesses narrowed it further.

Michael used this time to phone Isaac Abrams. "I'm going to need to talk to Christopher..." he explained. "If you're sure, I'll let him know." agreed Isaac. "But I hope you know what you're doing..."

There were only a few hours of night remaining when Daniel entered the meeting room where his coterie was waiting. "Victors final hideaway is on Queen Florence Lane, near Corbin Canyon Park. It is an expensive but understated property within it's own land, far enough away from the other homes to give it more than adequate privacy. I have an exact address."

Scene Thirty Five - Woodland Hills
Woodland Hills - San Fernando Valley
The property is surrounded by a seven foot high wall. Security cameras mounted on poles inside the walls, observe the perimeter. Two guards are inside the front gate, though any weapons the are equipped with are concealed given that this is a residential area. You are reasonably sure that they are kindred.

"If you can disable the cameras pointing at the gate, I can deal with the guards." Said Vin, with a definite edge to his voice. He saw the attack on the gallery as a personal failure and wished to make amends. Preferably in the most brutal fashion possible. Orla and Carla were told to destroy any enemies who slipped past them or attempted to escape. They then let Vin make his move. As the enraged Brujah approached the house, Daniel put a bullet into each of the observing cameras.

Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah
The Coterie's Enforcer
Vin walked up to the gate which appeared to open and close via some mechanism within the walls to either side. The Brujah grabbed the two halves of the gate, grunted then pushed them back into their housings with a shower of sparks and a hideous grinding sound. 

The two guards ran towards the commotion. Vin saved them the trouble as he covered the distance to the guards in a blur, driving his fist through the chest of the first, turning their heart to pulp within their torso. The kindred's attempt to stop the blow being ultimately futile.

Before they've even hit the ground, the second guard had been decapitated by a back-handed strike. The blood he expended was swiftly replaced as he took his fill from the second, headless victim. The first dead kindred's head was unnecessarily crushed by a downward stomping boot as Vin walked past the corpses and advanced on the house.. 

An Anticipated Ambush Attempt
The front door opens suddenly and just over half a dozen guards spill out. Their weapons are suppressed, it's difficult to tell whether they are kindred or not at this range as they take aim.

Difficult but not impossible. Daniel's medical training made such identifications far simpler for him than for others. He identified three kindred and five mortals, either ghouls or blood-bound servants. Taking aim, he destroyed one and maimed another. Hope tore into the maimed kindred and finished the job with razor sharp claws. Vin drove the third kindreds head into a nearby wall with such force that it disintegrated in his grip, before casually killing two more of the mortal guards. Several of the survivors had attempted to fire upon Michael as he moved towards the chaos but none could bring themselves to open fire, such was the power of Michael's supernatural presence. Then they too were killed. Everything was now quiet as they entered Victor's haven and began to search.

You eventually discover a bookcase that slides aside, revealing an armoured door. Judging from the dimensions it must lead to a stairway as there isn't sufficient room for a full panic room.

"No lock, no keypad, no key-hole..." observed Daniel. "...so it must lock either remotely or from the other side." Vin punched the door with all his might and was rewarded by a slight dent. "This might take a while." he admitted. "I have another idea." said Michael, reaching for his phone and ringing Victoria.

Dillan Fitzgerald - Malkavian
Architect for Aegis Construction
Michael was disappointed to find that Aegis had taken no part in the construction of this facility so could offer no insights. Victoria did however have an idea of her own and arranged for them to receive a call from Aegis's Malkavian architect, Dillan. It took him mere seconds to identify a flaw in the security. "It's a solid enough door..."said the architect. "...but is the wall also reinforced?" A single punch from Vin proved that it wasn't. Michael's thanks to Dillon were somewhat drowned out by the sound of Vin demolishing a wall with his bare hands.

A staircase beyond leads downwards. A camera opposite the door would no doubt alert the occupant to any intruder though you imagine the removal of the wall was somewhat of a giveaway. Victor is waiting for you in the entrance lobby to a spacious underground haven. Fridges, certainly for blood storage are plentiful, and a large monitor on one wall, is relaying a financial news channel. No doubt Victor is looking at just how badly you've crippled his empire. All the comforts you could ever need are here and you all wonder if this is where Victor spent his previous exiles.

"I'm going to enjoy making you all destroy yourselves in spectacularly inventive ways." said Victor, as the coterie found themselves unable to either attack or retreat. "Or shall I have you destroy each other instead?" He asked, apparently enjoying himself. Despite monumental mental efforts, Victor's abilities of mind control and force of will were impossible to break free from.

Storytellers Note - I let them struggle hopelessly for a minute...for dramatic effect...

Joaquín Murietta - Toreador
Christopher Houghton's Bodyguard
Victor seems to be distracted momentarily and then freezes, though you yourselves are still powerless. Joaquín Murietta, Christophers bodyguard, assassin and childe enters your field of view followed by an angel in human form. His hair is a gold unlike anything you've seen, his skin his pale yet perfect, he glides rather than walks and you are surprised that such an angel is wingless. When he speaks you find yourself entranced by every syllable.

"Victor, Victor, you always were such a sore loser. You were outclassed by Michael here and his followers and now you're sulking. I'm afraid your no longer amusing and I'm bored of looking after you every time your schemes fail. Joaquin? Be a dear and put an end to this inconvenience. I'd do it myself but I'd hate to ruin this wonderful shirt..."

As Victors head leaves it's shoulders his body begins to rapidly age as one hundred and twenty years catch up to it in moments. You all feel a weight lifted from you and are once again in control of yourselves. You feel honoured that the perfect boy before you, deigns to address such unworthy creatures as yourselves. "I'll sort out this unfortunate business for you. Now go back to your gallery and I may grace you with my presence in the future. Until then I'll be keeping an eye on you all."

You leave as requested. When you arrive back at the Galerie Sanguine you find the scene has been cleared as if nothing had happened, the library is also quite empty of both books and spirits. 

As dawn is approaching you'll need to sleep here today. Fortunately the gallery still has plenty of space.

Scene Thirty Six - Veni, Vidi, Perdita
You are informed that Lisa and Heather will make full physical recoveries and that Victoria will remove any physical signs of damage. She also offers Leanna's assistance should you wish Lisa's recollections of the events to be altered or removed altogether.

Gloria and Allison have allied formally though have kept their own territories. As a gesture to the Caitiff and thin-bloods who aided her, Gloria has granted them a feeding ground of their own. Though this is still considered her domain, they have free reign to govern it how they wish. 

Hank has informed you that Gloria now owes him a major boon and she has agreed to respect her borders with The Crypts Sons. Hank also lets you know that Marius has moved his borders marginally into El Hermandad with Gloria's agreement so 'The Border' boundaries no longer adjoin those of El Hermandad. This effectively makes Marius, Gloria's neighbour not Priss, which Gloria considers to be a safer bet and well worth the loss of a few miles of border she never used anyway.

Word has also spread throughout the Baronies that Baron Abrams has taken San Fernando as part of Hollywood, though has granted Baron Tomassio the area formally under his protection as feeding ground.

It only remains to see if Victors destruction is enough to satisfy Marius...


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...

The coterie had put in a lot of groundwork which meant I had to change a lot of my plans for the grand finale of this story. I had originally intended to end with a massive battle across El Hermandad's domain but as the players had done such a good job of turning everyone against Victor I just let it play out in a fairly logical fashion.

Unfortunately this meant that much of the death and destruction happened in the background or behind the scenes. On the bright side though, that's a very 'vampire' way of getting shit done I suppose.

Now they just have to deal with the aftermath...of the aftermath...

Acknowledgements
Portions of the materials are the copyrights and trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment AB, and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

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 Matt Bomer, 'Vin' is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Victor Girard is Bob Hoskins, Izabel Lopez is Lindsey Lohan, Captain Frank Atkins is Michael Chiklis, Don Maximillian Alonzo is Stacy Keach, Mariel St. John is Kate Moss, Sarah is Natalie Martinez, Louis Fortier is Eduardo Verástegui, Ralph Harwood is D.B. Woodside, Bartosz Harrison is Quinton Jackson, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Catherine Du Bois is Margot Robbie, Leo Frost is Danny John-Jules, 'Max' is Milla Jovovich, Hank Boyd is Michael Clarke Duncan, 'Priss' is Sofia Boutella, Gloria Martinez is Ariadne Artiles, Allison Maller is Chloe Grace Moretz, 'Velme' is Annie Henley, Lisa Irving is Amanda Righetti, Heather is Liz Vicious, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Victoria is Lilith May, The Ghost in the Library is Genevieve Riker, Dr Melissa Russell is Hayley Atwell, Yukio is Jamie Chung, Dillan Fitzgerald is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Joaquín Murietta is Danny Trejo.

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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