Friday, 21 June 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Thirty Three - The Carmelita Situation (Part One)

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

The PC's
Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador Baron of Pasadena
and Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian Seneschal
and Marie - Clan Carna Occult Advisor
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah Sheriff
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim 'Fixer'

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

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

Session Handouts

Introduction
Having reported back to the barons surrounding Downtown with the agreement he has reached with the blood mages of the new Tremere Chantry, Michael is once more free to return to his personal schemes.

Storytellers Note - This session will make more sense if you've read this solo session HERE. But it's not essential.

Scene One - The Carmelita Situation
Victoria Anne - Ghoul of Marius
Personal Assistant
Michael, you receive a call from the number you have logged as 'Aegis Acquisitions' which more often than not means it's either Marius or Victoria ringing. On this occasion it's Victoria and as usual she's straight to the point. "Baron..." "...Two things, firstly did the slut wrangler Leanna ring you about Heather?"

The fact that Leanna referred to herself as a 'Shepherdess' and Victoria used a variety of less complimentary things spoke volumes about how each considered the importance of her role in the grand scheme of things.

Michael confirmed that Leanna had informed him that she had gotten herself into a little trouble and wouldn't be at work for a few days. Figuring that Victoria would be the one dealing with any problems he decided to see if she'd let him know what had happened to Heather, purely out of curiosity.

"It isn't something that can be traced back to her employment but if you really wish to know, She got into an altercation with several would-be muggers. Apparently Yukio's training combined with a lack of understanding of the potential of Marius's blood within her made her response more effective than was strictly necessary" Michael who was already convinced that Marius was a lot older than he claimed could see how the vitae might effect a ghoul differently if they were fed more potent blood.

Storytellers Note - The rules for ghouls in V5 are a bit basic at the moment so I use some from previous editions to supplement them. To summarise I allow ghouls the dot specified in the V5 rules (highest discipline possessed by their master) and one dot in either Potence or a different physical discipline if their master possesses one (so Fortitude or Celerity). Some SPC/NPC ghouls of lower generation regnant's also have additional benefits.

Heather Taylor - Ghoul of Marius
Blood Doll
"They're quite dead which is fine but there are other complications to deal with based on the methods, location, etc. Trying to explain how a girl who weighs about eighty five pounds soaking wet managed to punch one man's head off and turn another's one hundred and eighty degrees the wrong way is bad enough but she utilised another 'gift' that's much harder to explain so the whole scene needed to be sanitised." There was an audible sigh before Victoria continued "It's a fairly standard clean-up but I could have done without the extra work.

"Secondly, we have had an unexpected communication from Carmelita." "She is returning to LA in a day or so and has specifically requested you act as liaison for her as you did previously. I have explained to her that given your new position as Baron of Pasadena and our arrangements with one another being complete that it wasn't a 'demand' we could make" "She was however quite insistent and as she's on Marius's list of kindred I'm not permitted to tell to fuck off I thought a conversation on the subject might be in order." "Thoughts?"

Michael had been impressed with Carmelita the last time they'd met and had been in communication with her about matters relating to his lineage so was quite keen to meet her again. Of course he was also aware that despite it being something he actually desired it was still possible to make it seem like he was the one doing Victoria the favour.

Carmelita Neillson - Toreador
Archaeologist and Archivist
He could however pick up the irritation in her voice along with a hint of menace, she definitely didn't like being in a position where another person was calling the shots. He could also sense that her ire was not aimed at him. "I'm more than happy to assist you by acting as a liaison." stated Michael emphasising the fact that he was doing her a favour and figuring that it was going to be worth a minor boon at the very least. "Do you have any details yet?"

"Irritatingly she's yet to provide me with the specifics, though you will need to provide your own security as I can't spare Yukio or...the other one..." As one thing Michael wasn't short of was kindred who could act as security this wasn't going to be an issue for him at all and he said so."Thank-you Baron..." Michael couldn't help but notice that she didn't sound quite so sarcastic when using the title this time "As soon as Miss Neillson deigns to pass on the details to me I'll let you know but you should have a few days to prepare at the very least." After exchanging the usual some-what one-sided goodbyes, Michael began his preparations.

Of his three primary options for bodyguards he was concerned that Carmelita might find Vin a little unsophisticated and Hope somewhat unsubtle which left Daniel. He was definitely the best conversationalist, most presentable and had only caused one incident that needed cleaning up whereas both Vin and Hope were prone to creating bloody messes with worrying frequency.

Scene Two - Uninvited Company
'In Case of Emergencies'
Michael contacted Daniel about his requirements and explained briefly about Carmelita and her job as an archaeologist and archivist for the Camarilla. Though he didn't anticipate trouble there was always the possibility that a renowned kindred such as Carmelita might be a target for an Anarch with a problem with the Camarilla should they learn of her presence within the city.

Michael knew that she extended access to her libraries and museums sometimes even to Anarchs and Autarkis kindred if they proved to be responsible individuals but it was still possible that some-one may take offence to her sect allegiances.

Daniel equipped himself with the preferred weaponry he carried when the business was subtlety which in this case were his 10mm Colts and his Karambit knives. As they were utilising Michael's covertly armoured car he stashed a few more choice items in the secret compartment within the boot, just in case, before dressing himself in a style somewhere between his own and the expected appearance of a bodyguard.

Van Nuys Airport at Night
A few days pass by before the details are forthcoming. It seems that Carmelita is returning with the items you acquired from the museum all those months ago and wishes to place them within the Neillson Library below Hollywood Cemetery which is the closest such facility to the area to which they hold significance. You are to meet Miss Neillson at the private airport Van Nuys which has been chosen for it's proximity to Hollywood being located just North of the Hollywood Hills. This particular airport has a number of Fixed Base Operators there, one of which is ran by a 'friendly' kindred happy to allow their services to be used.

Storytellers Note - A fixed-base operator (FBO) is an organisation granted the right by an airport to operate at the airport and provide aeronautical services such as fuelling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, and similar services. I figured that kindred wanting access to airport facilities but wishing to avoid the main terminals would be likely to utilise such places.

Isaac Abrams - Toreador
Baron of Hollywood
Daniel did some research on the airport layout, location within the facility of this particular FBO and gained as much general information as he could on potential routes in and out should a quick getaway be necessary. Meanwhile Michael informed the Baron of Hollywood, Isaac Abrams that he would be in the area briefly knowing that he was a stickler for correct protocol and that the airport fell within his domain.

You meet the landed aircraft at a large warehouse belonging to one of the fixed base operators with facilities at the airport. The Aegis Acquisitions logo is discreetly paced in the corner of the sign declaring the building to be the property of 'Desmodus Aviation'. Carmelita is waiting for you at the bottom of the planes steps holding a medium sized metal case. "Michael, so glad you could spare the time to indulge my need for an escort. Who is your companion?"

Michael introduced Daniel as his driver and security as well as his clan as being Brujah rather than Banu Haqim. "You're surprisingly well turned out for an LA Brujah" commented Carmelita in a way that led them both to believe she had her doubts about the information. "Not all of us fit the stereotype of leather clad thugs." countered Daniel though he did so politely. "May I take your case?" He asked, gesturing to the metal suitcase she was carrying. Daniel put the case in the cars boot before returning and opening the doors for the Baron and his guest.

The San Fernando Valley At Night
"Unfortunately my plans have changed slightly. I have need to speak to several members of a group who refer to themselves as the 'Brujah Idealists' based in Laurel Canyon in the San Fernando Valley in reference to these artefacts before I deposit them in Hollywood. If you have no objections of course?" Michael of course had no objections and indicated she should give the address to Daniel and he'd take them there directly. "So, Michael, what's been going on in the 'Free States'? Anything worthy of note?"

Michael spoke to her of the Crypt's Sons rebuilding of their domain which had turned the Barony of the Angels into such a tinderbox, a few relatively minor events around the city and of course the reemergence of the chantry of Maximilian Strauss and it's new inhabitants. This latter subject was of much interest to her especially once Michael mentioned it's museum and libraries. Knowing that Carmelita usually dealt with Marius while she was in the city he also mentioned that he had made his own offer to the chantry and that this and his exclusion from a meeting of local kindred had made the situation between Louis and Marius quite tense of late.

Fiorenza Savona - Ventrue
Power Broker
With the local news covered, the conversation turned to Fiorenza's involvement in their business in Los Angeles. Michael hoped to gauge their 'sponsor' a little and hoped that Carmelita would have some useful insight. She was, in fact surprisingly candid on the subject.

"Fiorenza has took an interest in this project to take Los Angeles mainly as a potential for additional sources of revenue and political power. She's moving her way up the Ivory Tower at a rate that is worrying some of her...competitors. She'll keep just enough involvement to take the credit for some of the success but not enough to get the blame should you fail. She's very good at walking that line." She then asked a pertinent question. "Have you got a babysitter?" Correctly presuming she meant Dion he confirmed that they'd been given a 'liaison' who seemed to be little more than a spy to report on their activities to Fiorenza. Her reply was somewhat reassuring.

"That's standard procedure, everyone she has her eye on gets one, how they're treated tends to be reflected in how she deals with you. Where her predecessors focused on vampire politics, Fiorenza believes the key to Kindred longevity lies in the manipulation of the living." Michael mentally filed this away as a useful insight "Not sure why she bothered bestowing one on Marius though, his pet psychopath has a talent for neutralising such inconveniences and Fiorenza is well aware of the Fixer's available resources. He's been avoiding an interview with me for as long as I can remember." Michael couldn't help but wonder what dealings the Ventrue and the Gangrel had had in the past. Before he could make further enquiries he was interrupted by his bodyguard.

Bulletproof Cadillac Escalade - Interior
Michael's Vehicle
Daniel who was constantly on the lookout for anything unusual or a potential threat had become aware of a pair of cars that had been following them since the airport. As one dropped back the other moved forward and they were always within sight of one or the other. One car contained four individuals, the other five and he was reasonably sure they were armed.

Not wishing to unduly alarm his passengers he first began to utilise some subtle evasion techniques in order to confirm his assessment. Once he was sure he did indeed have a tail he let the pair of Toreadors know. "We appear to have some unwanted followers. What do you want me to do about it?" Michael knew that Daniel was more than proficient enough to deal with multiple mortal attackers and even other kindred when necessary but given the stated number of adversaries decided that evasion was better than confrontation but referred to Carmelita as she was the interested party in the matter.

"Several ancestors of the Brujah the items originally belonged to have been making enquiries about them since the announcement at the museum. This would normally be no issue...however these particular Brujah are Autarkis and have developed something of an ancestor worship fixation on them." "I had hoped there liberation from the museum would have ended their search but apparently they're more resourceful and determined than I thought" "Can your driver lose them or alternatively dissuade them from their pursuit? I have no wish to have a 'conversation' with them here"


Michael passed this onto Daniel who confirmed he'd do what he could.

The pair of cars behind them had some skill at pursuit and given his desire to avoid the attention of the authorities, Daniel's options were limited so he instead decided to lure them somewhere a little less public in order to open up his options somewhat.

Luring them in the opposite direction from his intended destination he diverted to a less busy part of town and then swerved down a narrow alleyway with the lead car closing the gap behind as it realised they'd been made. Daniel let his passengers know that things might be about to escalate and drew one of his 10mm Colt handguns from it's custom holster and laid it to one side as he bought down the drivers side window. Michael quickly texted his location to his Gangrel scourge Hope in case they needed reinforcements though he doubted she'd reach them in time.

The narrowness of the alleyway removed any room for the pursuer to manoeuvre as Daniel carefully gauged the relative distance between the two vehicles, mentally calculating the shot he was about to make. With an almost casual economy of movement the assassin leaned out of the window and put a single shot into the front tyre of the vehicle behind without any seeming effort.

The high calibre round combined with the speed of travel and uneven road surface caused the tyre to explode as the driver wrestled to keep control and failed. The rearmost vehicle ploughed into the incapacitated car in front of it as it skidded sideways wedging itself across the narrow street they had been lured down. Daniel closed the window and replaced his weapon in it's holster before addressing his kindred cargo. "Pursuit neutralised. Destination still the same?"

Storytellers Note - Best dice roll the player has ever made...

"That will be fine." replied Carmelita while Michael gave their destination address to Hope just in case. She then spoke to Michael. "Your driver has many talents it seems?" Michael was as impressed as Carmelita was by the uncannily accurate shot from a moving vehicle but attempted to sound as casual as possible when he replied. "He has a variety of skills I thought might come in useful..."

Interlude - The Beckoning
Stéphanie Mayoux - Toreador
Infamous Harpy and Descendent of Helena
Storytellers Note - The note I refer to in the next paragraph is probably vaguely mentioned somewhere in the last thirty or so write-ups or I forgot completely to mention it because it was a 'between sessions' conversation...

As they resumed their journey, Michael enquired about the message he'd sent to Carmelita some time ago in relation to his feeling of a vague mental pull that seemed to sometimes give him the urge to travel as if it was pulling him to another place. This along with doubts about what he'd been told by his sire about his lineage had been distracting him from his goals for quite some time and he'd hoped that the renowned historian Carmelita might know something that would help him. Apparently his conduct during her last visit to Los Angeles had been impressive enough for her to put some effort into the task on his behalf.

"I found your choice of cipher for the message particularly amusing and based on that and your assistance last time I looked into the issues you mentioned. Am I okay to discuss the issues mentioned in the presence of your colleague? I'm sure his senses are acute enough to hear us even from where he currently sits." Michael's curiosity outweighed his caution on this occasion and he asked her to continue.

Madame Guil - Toreador
Former Justicar, Fate Unknown
"The feeling you've described is very similar to the 'beckoning' experienced by some elders though typically such urges begin at ninth generation at the outside, of course based on the name you gave me to look into in conjunction with your own lineage then it's entirely possible that that's exactly what you're feeling." Michael had paid very little attention to thoughts of generation as it was something his sire never discussed. "How much do you know of your kindred ancestry?"

This was also a matter his sire discussed with him very little and despite his curiosity about the reverence she had been held by those they'd encountered he had been discouraged from making his own enquiries. This discouragement had been compounded by the blood bond his sire held over him before their separation.

Stéphanie Mayoux, your sire is a childe of the Countess d'Adhemarhe, herself a childe of Madame Guil who can trace their own history back to Helena...yes...THAT Helena, currently active again in Chicago, if you believe such rumours that is. It's possible that your sires connection to the former Justicar Guil and the rumours of Guil's defection to the Sabbat may have made her wary of sharing her lineage during the Sabbat's activities at the time." She paused to let those revelations sink in for a moment.

Helena - Toreador Methuselah
Childe of Minos
"She is no longer so shy however, if she ever was that is. Stéphanie is once again making a name for herself in one Elysium after another across the cities held by the Camarilla." Michael found himself uncharacteristically at a loss for words so simply let Carmelita continue without interruption. "If my research is correct, which of course it is, your sire is of the eight generation, making you ninth and unfortunately close enough to the ancient ones to feel the call, if only barely."

"What makes this all the more interesting..."concluded the Toreador historian "...is that I'm reasonably sure that the recommendation to Fiorenza that you be part of this enterprise to re-take Los Angeles in the Camarilla's name came from a kindred indebted to your sire. It's almost as if she had personal reasons for wanting you to be based in Los Angeles for some time..."

Storytellers Note - Yes I've made him more powerful but generation is less a factor in V5 and there are considerable downsides too such as distractions from the Beckoning and a much higher chance of him becoming a target for diablerie should it become common knowledge. Also I have long-term plot related reasons...it wasn't done on a whim I can assure you.

Scene Three - The Brujah 'Idealists'
'The Brujah Idealists' Compound
Laurel Canyon, San Fernando Valley
You arrive at the address given you by Carmelita. It is a large but fairly normal looking mansion house though it does appear to be part of a compound like structure. To Daniel's more security conscious eye a number of precautions can be seen including an alarm system, some security cameras and a few inconspicuous security guards.

Compared to most kindred havens you've observed recently however it is quite lightly protected though as you hadn't heard of them until now it's possible they just don't have any real enemies to warrant sophisticated defences.

Keeping his keen senses at full alert, Daniel left the vehicle first and opened the door for his passengers. Once they had safely exited the vehicle without anything untoward occurring or any apparent dangers rearing their heads, he opened the trunk and retrieved Carmelita's case.

You are allowed access to the compound through a fairly normal but sturdy gate protected merely by an intercom with which to request entry, opened by a fairly ordinary looking gentleman in the standard jacket and trouser uniform of a security guard. 


Countess Andrea Visconti - Brujah
The guard is armed with a handgun but the shoulder holster is buttoned down as if trouble is not expected. You are escorted by him into the main house through a set of double doors into a reception room.

As Daniel entered the reception he informed their security guard escort that they had been followed and that he would need to keep a look out for anything unusual. He also asked him to check in with any other guards to see if anything was going on now or could be seen around the perimeter that might arouse suspicion. As the guard did as he was asked, Daniel kept count of the amount of responses and put the security complement at ten men, two of which seemed to be senior based on the manner of their confirmations.

After a while one of the doors opens and a stunningly attractive woman leans around the doorway "Sorry to keep you waiting, Sir Ralph had an absolutely preposterous theory on class systems which Dr Shiraiwa was debunking in the most halfhearted way imaginable, I swear if I wasn't here to point out the flaws in both of their arguments it would have gone on forever, please, come in" With that she disappeared back into the room. Carmelita shrugs "They're always like this but they do have considerable knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. I'll do the introductions, it'll save time"


Sir Ralph Hamilton - Brujah
Sir Ralph Hamilton is tall, slim and aristocratic looking, with greying hair which he brushes straight back. He has piercing eyes and pale skin is dressed conservatively, in the most current European style of suit. His piercing gaze is however somewhat disconcerting. Professor Gregory Habersohn in contrast is the perfect picture of an elderly professor, he seems thoughtful and speaks slowly and deliberately. Dr. Takuya Shiraiwa is of Japanese appearance, average height, is slightly overweight and has black hair which is scraped back. He is dressed all in black.

The final one of the group, the lady who greeted you at the door is Countess Andrea Visconti. To call Andrea a great beauty is an understatement of the highest order, she has accentuated her figure and classic features with stylish, expensive designer clothing and skilfully applied makeup. As you have already observed she speaks loudly and vivaciously with a directness that you imagine could easily catch an unprepared debater off-guard.

"So Carmelita, what can a Professor, a Doctor, a Countess and myself do for you?" Asked Sir Ralph. In response Carmelita retrieved the case from Daniel and placed it upon the table and opened it up to reveal a number of stone icons held in place by moulded inserts. "Any idea why any-one would be willing to kill over these?" Both the doctor and the professor showed considerable interest as Carmelita listened intently to their conclusions.

Professor Gregory Habersohn - Brujah
The other two only gave them a cursory glance before returning to their seats. Daniel meanwhile slipped into a corner from where he could observe everyone in the room and the entrance as well as listen to what was said.

Several of the stones had flecks of red on them which appeared to be paint though considering the vampiric connection could easily have been congealed blood. On closer examination it was confirmed that it was a paint pigment which between them they identified as being commonly used a mere two centuries ago, give or take a decade or two.

The language seemed to be Spanish but it was an antiquated form and given the wide use of the language didn't narrow it down as precisely as they would have liked. As they discussed geographical areas associated with the Brujah, Daniel chipped in with several pertinent observations of his own based on his extensive research into the clan history. Though not of the clan himself he had decided that he needed considerable knowledge on the history of Clan Brujah and it's significant events and notable kindred in order to maintain his cover story as being one of them rather than the Banu Haqim he actually was. Sir Ralph's response to the intrusion by 'the help' was sarcastic in the extreme but the others seemed more intrigued by his input than in any way offended.

Dr. Takuya Shiraiwa - Brujah
The two 'Brujah Idealists' who are discussing the artefacts with Carmelita seem to have come to some conclusions that apparently match the archaeologists own theories that the items are far older than the museum suspected and that rather than being individual pieces are part of a larger stone tablet albeit with many pieces missing. The existing pieces seem to be part of a set of instructions for locating a tomb of some description but where it is is impossible to determine without the rest of the stone pieces. Given the sudden desire of this other group to obtain these sections it's entirely possible that they possess some of them themselves.

Storytellers Note - It's worth mentioning that when Daniel's player asked for the first dot of the Ruins of Carthage loresheet I told him he'd need to do a bit of research to cover it. He actually had about a dozen pages of notes which in session led to a long debate between him and me (mainly as Sir Ralph) which though a fine bit of roleplaying will be summarised in this write-up rather than detailed explicitly.

Daniel a moment later interjected once again, this time voicing the possibility that the tablet had been taken as a trophy rather than actually created by the Brujah themselves. In his opinion the few pieces of language that had been deciphered were in a flowery and poetic style rather than the more philosophical style one would expert from 'their' clan, that and the decoration bought the Toreador to mind rather than the Brujah.

Dr. Shiraiwa agreed as he surmised that just because the Brujah that this cult worshipped had it, didn't mean it was his, merely that he possessed it. Daniel added that there were many examples of cultures where the Brujah had coexisted with other clans which Shiraiwa confirmed. Many of which, Shiraiwa pointed out had not ended amicably.

On a roll, Daniel began to list many examples in order to further illustrate his point as well as to annoy Sir Ralph who he had decided was a patronising prick. The Countess also began to warm to this particular argument and on closer inspection of the pieces they possessed added her doubts that they were associated with their own clan. In fact Daniel's enthusiastic input had drawn both the Countess and Sir Ralph into the debate (though for very different reasons) which had taken them further than would have been accomplished with merely half of them involved. As the debate became somewhat circular in nature Michael summarised the conclusions they'd made and seemed to gain a consensus.

Firstly, the tablet despite being possessed by followers of a Brujah elder might have been created by another clan despite what the aforementioned followers believed. Secondly, if it was a map to a kindred tomb of some description then it could easily be of a different clan. Thirdly they were missing a significant number of pieces whose location was unknown but were necessary to complete the 'map'. Fourth and perhaps most critical at the moment was the fact that they would not be the only ones searching for the missing pieces and these others seemed quite determined. Carmelita added that her own research into the pieces they currently possessed indicated that they had been discovered by a mortal treasure hunter and it was only luck that there significance had been discovered so there was no trail to follow there as the site from which they'd been taken had been thoroughly investigated already.

As Michael was still attempting to work out just who might be amicable to the Camarilla taking back Los Angeles he decided to gauge the mood of the four Brujah present by bringing up the subject of the 'Anarch Free States'. The Professor had the same viewpoint as Daniel that there were good and bad amongst the Anarchs and that they could go either way depending on who gained power and who was removed.

The Countess was clearly the advocate for the Anarchs amongst the idealists but Michael suspected that she may have taken this view purely as it directly opposed that of Sir Ralph who was clearly pro Camarilla in every sense. Dr. Takuya Shiraiwa was guardedly in favour of the Anarchs but Daniel could see that his heart wasn't in the more violent aspects of Anarch culture despite his support. The Banu Haqim doubted he would harm another kindred unless perhaps his very existence depended upon it.

Though Sir Ralph pointed to the clear superiority of an organised structure like the Camarilla it was pointed out that many great cultures had been exterminated by outside interference due to having too great of an inward focus. Daniel pointed to Carthage as a perfect example of a system that had created great kindred and kine due to their symbiotic relationship yet had fallen to another force due to it's belief in it's own superiority. Daniel found himself enjoying the debate and could see the appeal in victories on an intellectual field of combat rather than a physical one but had to admit he'd be happier stabbing Ralph in the heart about now than arguing further.

Having learned all they could Carmelita indicated that they should be leaving now to continue with their quest and Michael agreed. Daniel made time for one parting barb at the Idealist's leader Ralph before dropping in behind the two Toreadors. Liaising with the watchman that he'd spoken to earlier he was informed that a dark SUV had passed the front of the compound twice and was now parked nearby. It was of course possible it belonged in the area but as he'd been asked to keep a look out he had done so. Daniel gave his thanks to the guard and loosened his jacket to enable easy access to his guns

As you leave you spot one of the tailing cars occupants observing you from across the street from within a different vehicle. It appears your enemies have found you once more...

To be Continued in 'The Carmelita Situation' - Part Two

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

This was in all honesty originally written as a solo session due to only one player being available for a couple of weeks and then when it became apparent I had two I broadened the scope slightly. I did warn Daniel's player that it was a Michael heavy concept initially but that he'd have more to do in the second half.

I in fact turned out to be completely wrong as I had no idea just how much effort he'd put into learning the history of the Brujah clan so the 'Brujah Idealists' scene ended up with a much higher level of 'Daniel' involvement that I ever expected. Considering most of his interaction with strangers is usually stabbing them it caught me a little by surprise. But it's these unexpected twists that make being a storyteller so much fun...well...imo at least, lol.

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene,Victoria is Lilith May, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious, Carmelita Neillson is Salma Hayek, Isaac Abrams is Gary Oldman, Stephanie Mayoux is Emily Beecham, Countess Visconti is Elizabeth Hurley, Sir Ralph Hamilton is Pierce Brosnan, Professor Gregory Habersohn is John Hurt and Dr. Takuya Shiraiwa is Masi Oka. 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...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Thirty Two - A Meeting of Barons (Part Three)

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

The PC's
Phil as Michael Tomassio - Toreador Baron of Pasadena
and Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
Tom as Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian Seneschal
and Marie - Clan Carna Occult Advisor
Dave as Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah Sheriff
Matt as Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim 'Fixer'

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

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

Introduction
Michael Tomassio, the Baron of Pasadena had been nominated at a meeting of the barons neighbouring Downtown to meet with the members of the rediscovered chantry of Maximillion Strauss and ensure they were not a threat to the Free States. Though he has been assured by their new Regent that the seven members of the chantry will keep their politics within he has also discovered that the Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius Walker has already offered them significant benefits that seriously undermine any leverage the barons have against them. He now needs to decide just what he's going to tell the other barons.

Scene Seven - The Countess
Marius's Roof Garden Temple
With a few hours of night left Michael decided to make his way to the Neillson library to which he had access and do a little research on the Tremere Houses, their chantries and to see if he could glean any insights into Marius's allegiances based on the temple he had within his roof garden.

He hoped that a little more information on Marius might enable him to predict his aims with a bit more accuracy. Daniel meanwhile visited the library within the gallery and began to read up on the history of the Brujah and other clans at Carthage in order to help with his cover identity.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's player wanted the first dot in the Ruins of Carthage Loresheet, 'Clan Historian' to help when pretending to be a Brujah. He figured that waffling on about Carthage was pretty much all you needed to blend in with other Brujah...I mean, well, he's not far wrong to be fair...

The Neillson Library
Beneath Hollywood Cemetery
Michael contacted Hope to accompany him to the concealed horde of information beneath Hollywood Cemetery. He noted that for some reason that when he had first been introduced to the hidden facility that Victoria had taken Marius's pet ghoul killing machine Yukio with her so presumably the Cemetery held some dangers that he wasn't aware of. He also sent one of Vin's 'girls' to keep the caretaker company while he was there as that seemed to be standard procedure. The location was within the domain of the Baron of Hollywood, Isaac Abrams so he also did him the courtesy of informing him he was going to be briefly in his territory. Mentally noting how even the simplest of tasks become complicated due to kindred politics, he headed to the Library. The trip was uneventful as expected, the caretaker Romero was already occupied with his guest and the cemetery was as quiet as you'd expect in the very early hours of the morning.

The Library Crypt Key
Leaving his scourge Hope to secure the entrance he made his way beneath the crypt and into the lobby area before the portcullis that sealed off the library area. His occult adviser Marie had assured him that the wards protecting this place would pretty much liquefy any unauthorised attempt at entry so he carefully placed his hand in the recess along the wall and felt the familiar sting as the blood lock sampled his Vitae. The haze that always obscured the view within faded and the heavy gate raised silently into a gap in the archway above. He was somewhat surprised to find that the library had another guest already doing some research within. Though he presumed that others had access this was the first time he'd encountered another within.

An attractive, well dressed woman was sitting at a desk with a selection of dusty leather bound tomes piled up around her and an ancient manuscript spread open between them. She looked up as Michael entered, nodded in acknowledgement of his presence and then carried on with her reading. Not wishing to disturb her, Michael gathered a number of volumes on ancient temples and religions and attempted to discover the relevance (if any) of Marius's private temple above his haven. After a futile search through references to mortal religions his curiosity got the better of him and he introduced himself to the other occupant.

Countess Visconti - Brujah
Brujah Idealist
"Good evening, allow me to introduce myself, I'm am Michael Tomassio of the clan of the Rose, Baron of Pasadena." The woman turned in her chair and made her own introduction. "...and I am Countess Visconti, If such titles mean anything amongst our kind, of Clan Brujah..." Michael whose main experience of clan Brujah representatives was Vin and a selection of leather jacketed thugs managed to hide his surprise. "...I'm doing some research on the differences between early Brujah philosophies and how they've adapted due to modern sensibilities." Michael couldn't help but notice that she was very beautiful indeed though had to admit that the snob in him had also been impressed by the title "To be quite honest I'm attempting to find documented evidence to prove my point in a debate with an acquaintance of mine. I'm correct of course, but it never hurts to have a transcript of an ancient Brujah's written word to agree with you." "and what brings you here?"

Not wishing to explain in too much detail his real reasons for his own research he stated that he was merely taking advantage of a few spare hours to get some reading in on subjects that interested him. He also noted that she didn't seem to have bothered with either occupying Romero or bringing a bodyguard. "Well its been nice meeting you Michael, but dawn approaches and I need to get back to my haven." He bid the countess, good evening and with that she left, leaving Michael alone in the library. He was also aware that he himself needed to get a move on so he put back his research and retrieved Hope before making his way back to the gallery.

Scene Eight - The Baron of Santa Monica
Therese Voerman - Malkavian
Baron of Santa Monica
Conscious of how the smallest detail had political implications the first issue that Michael had to deal with was who he informed of the results of his meeting with the blood mages of the chantry and in what order.

Currently the most politically dangerous to offend were Therese Voerman and Louis Fortier so his first visit would need to be one of the two. Deciding that Louis Fortier would probably be the easiest to talk to due to their past relationship he concluded that he could get away with visiting Therese first. He also had to admit that the Baron of Santa Monica was the one he was most keen on avoiding the wrath of.

Usually Roach dealt with her though the last time he'd been sent to negotiate with her in reference to the 'Daniel' issue the deal he'd gotten was seriously one-sided. It was more than likely that his fear of Therese was enabling her to make demands rather than make deals. Besides which, Roach was busy establishing their Elysium and integrating the resources of the many gangs they'd absorbed throughout Pasadena into their own 'Apostles'. As this provided much of their income currently Michael deemed this a far better use of his time.

Deciding that he didn't want his driver Dion reporting his every movement to Fiorenza he instead took Daniel with him to act as chauffeur. He also had the added benefit of routinely planning entry points and security weak spots in any location he entered. This of course meant that as well as ways in, he generally also knew ways to get out, quickly.

Storytellers Note - I now routinely decide on the security systems, physical defences and watchmen of anywhere Daniel's player takes his character as I know he's going to ask...

Playing the role of chauffeur and bodyguard Daniel parked the Baron's covertly armoured car in the private car-park of the night-club and opened the door for Michael to get out. He then dropped into position slightly behind him and began to observe the surroundings for any potential threats but could see nothing other than the occasional wannabe mortal hard-man that would be no threat to either of them.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
Baron Voerman's Scourge
As they entered the club Daniel noticed the other member of the Banu Haqim within the city leaning against the bar and nodded at her in acknowledgement. The leader of Therese's commando coterie, Lee arrived and indicated to Michael that Therese was ready to see him and also made it clear to Daniel that his presence was not required. Not wanting to make too big an issue of the situation Michael told Daniel to wait downstairs while he had his meeting. This suited Daniel just fine as he wished to speak to his counterpart within Therese's organisation anyway.

Charlie Abbott, or 'Chick' to her friends guided Daniel to a relatively quiet corner of the club though it was still an area from which both could observe the elevator to Baron Voerman's private office. Daniel was curious about where the rumour about another Banu Haqim being in LA that had drawn him to the attention of his sire had originated from but disappointingly Chick had no idea. The rumour had simply filtered back to her through her own information network and she had investigated herself based on it. Of course the reward had also interested her.

She offered to make enquiries on the issue if he wished but pointed out that it might threaten the cover story of him being Brujah that she'd established for him if she suddenly started asking about a rumour that she herself had only recently debunked. This potential problem had already occurred to the doctor and he agreed with Chick that at the moment maintaining his cover was more important. They then continued to make small talk as their respective Barons spoke upstairs.

Ellie-May 'Lee' Li - Toreador
Commando Coterie Leader
Lee accompanied Michael to the lobby in front of Baron Voerman's office but she waited outside rather than accompany him within. Therese of course got straight to the point. "Any progress?" Michael relayed the agreement that he'd obtained pertaining to their neutrality as well as the concession that within the chantry they could do as they pleased. As he had no way of enforcing such a demand to the contrary it seemed unwise to labour the point and anyway almost all of them had seemed to be in favour of a mutually beneficial deal. As Therese was already aware that the coterie had Camarilla sympathies Michael felt no need to hide the fact that in his opinion the majority of those within the chantry would be open to Camarilla rule within Los Angeles.

"Well that should quieten Mr Rodriguez's desire to do something drastic or at the very least smooth over his concerns. However, I believe you said 'almost all'? That implies some dissenting voices?" Michael admitted that the leader of the House Tremere faction was quite ready to aggressively defend the chantry from any attack and from what he'd learned of her that would be quite messy for all concerned.

An aggressor within the faction was definitely a factor to be monitored but Michael was quick to add that she had gone with the majority decision eventually. Baron Voerman was of the opinion that any mention of Alannah and her temper might be best left out of the briefing he gave to the other interested parties and Michael concurred.

Marius Walker - Autarkis Gangrel
After a moment's consideration he decided it would be best to inform her of Marius's interference rather than have her find out about the omission at a later date. "I feel I should also inform you that my own visit was preempted by one from Marius Walker. He talked as if the area granted him by Fortier was in fact his own domain and that the chantry therefore fell within his influence."

If Therese was in any way surprised by this revelation it didn't show. "He offered them considerable motivation to see him as the dominant power in the area. Enough in fact that they may rather quickly find themselves owing him a significant number of boons."

Therese smiled rather unnervingly before replying. "Their relationship has been souring since he delegated the problem with his childe's missing portrait to yourselves rather than dealing with it personally. Fortier thinks he's getting too powerful and sees ulterior motives in everything he does."

The smile continued as if she was privy to some joke that he wasn't a part of. "What you choose to tell the Baron of West LA is of course your own concern. As far as I'm concerned everything within the chantry is as satisfactory as we could hope for." The smile abruptly disappeared. "If that is all, you may leave." As it didn't sound like a request Michael left the office where the awaiting Lee guided him back to Daniel.

With the fist meeting having gone fairly well, Michael decided that next on his list would be Baron Louis Fortier.

Scene Nine - The Baron of West Los Angeles
Mariel St John - Ventrue
Mistress of Baron Fortier
Knowing Baron Fortier's fondness for correct etiquette Michael contacted him via what was effectively his Seneschal, Mariel St John to arrange a meeting. As his coterie was in many ways responsible for her elevated position in Fortier's hierarchy of mistresses she obliged. She was also aware that this was news that her Baron would want sooner rather than later.

As Mariel now organised the Baron's social schedule in the same way that Catherine Du Bois ran his household it was a simple matter for her to move a few appointment's around and get Michael in to see the Baron almost immediately. After extending his gratitude, Michael informed Daniel that his skills as driver and security would be needed once more.

Despite having examined the mansions security precautions on his previous visit the Banu Haqim acting as driver went over them again as they were escorted through the gate and into the house. Once again he had to acknowledge that Catherine certainly knew how to keep her Baron and herself safe from harm. The only point he noted was that the security guards seemed to be rotated between internal and external posts. This annoyingly meant that complacence wasn't a factor he could exploit.

The meeting it seemed was going to be with Baron Fortier and the head of his household security, Catherine Du Bois. Catherine was well known as the kindred who 'keeps the home fires burning' for Louis and had effective control over his army of ghouls and his herd of blood dolls.

Catherine Du Bois - Ventrue
Mistress and Childe of Baron Fortier
She was also infamous for running a very special out-call service for a select clientele who appreciate, and pay well for, unique experiences. Her stable of stunning debauched beauties of both sexes provided entertainment on a level of excitement that only the very wealthy and very bizarre can appreciate. The favour this had accorded her within both mortal and kindred spheres of influence had in many ways cemented Fortier's position as one of the most powerful barons in Los Angeles.

As Michael began his report on the success of his meeting with the new occupiers of the Tremere chantry within Downtown, Daniel perused the area as surreptitiously as possible. The confidence both Louis and Catherine had was palpable and even despite the hint of arrogance, in Daniel's experience kindred with that level of self assurance usually had good reason for it.

If they were to fulfil Michael's mission to take Los Angeles for the Camarilla they might well have to remove Fortier permanently and that was a prospect that the Banu Haqim didn't see happening without a lot of planning.

As Michael was carefully avoiding mentioning Alannah of House Tremere's outburst at the meeting he'd had, Daniel noticed Catherine lean in and whisper something into Baron Fortier's ear. Daniel was capable of enhancing his senses to supernatural levels and clearly heard her say "Ask if they mentioned Marius's visit..." Unfortunately without Roach to relay telepathic messages between them he had no way of pre-warning Michael that the question was incoming.

Louis Fortier - Ventrue
Baron of West Los Angeles
"I've been informed that the chantry was paid a visit by our mutual friend Marius. Did the mages mention this at all?" "I'm sure..." replied Michael "...that they've had a number of visitors." The impression on Fortier's face clearly indicated that he wasn't satisfied with the answer and Michael immediately realised that it could have been interpreted as overly flippant. "I meant no offence..." Said Michael, swiftly backtracking. "...I merely meant that it may have been purely curiosity on his part. I'm sure many within Los Angeles are as concerned about this new chantry as we ourselves are." Fortier then addressed Daniel directly "You were once in the employ of the Gangrel. Do you think it was a casual visit to say hello?" It was clear from the tone that Baron Fortier believed nothing of the sort. "I couldn't speak to his intentions, Baron..." replied the doctor "...I wasn't part of his inner circle. I was as you said merely an employee."

"It's possible..." Interjected Michael "...that he was involving himself directly due to him being left out of the meeting. I understand that he isn't a Baron but then neither is 'Nines' and he got an invitation." It had become clear to Michael that there was no argument that would persuade the Baron that Marius's intentions were anything but sinister so he tried a different approach."I haven't been Baron for long but I am aware that his personal code precludes him attacking Barons directly and I'm sure he doesn't want a war with some-one as powerful as you regardless."

Tara - Brujah (Deceased)
Former Baron and Prince of San Diego
Fortier was however still not convinced "The last person of influence to start to covertly gather allies and accumulate power in the Free States was Tara of San Diego, she then declared herself Prince, I would not see another usurper take power here." Marius had never struck Michael as a kindred who had his eye on the position of Prince but saying so at this point might easily be construed as him taking sides so he kept the opinion to himself. Instead he selected a middle path. "The situation can be monitored and perhaps his ambitions can be checked?" Michael could tell that the prospect of a war was something that Fortier had no desire for despite certainly having the resources for one, though worryingly he didn't get the same impression from Catherine.

"As you say, the situation can indeed be monitored. We appreciate you taking on this task on behalf of myself and the other baronies. Is it your intention to inform all the other interested parties personally?" The Toreador confirmed that he believed it was a matter of courtesy to let those from who he had been given the task know the results. He was then informed by Louis that he was due to meet Jesus Ramirez of El Hermandad this very evening and that he would pass on the information to him personally saving Michael a journey. Being politically savvy enough to know that the offer was going to be difficult to refuse he accepted as gratefully as he could manage and then having nothing more to discuss left to make the next visit he had planned.

Scene Ten - 'Nines' Rodriguez
The Last Round, Downtown
Nines Haven
Daniel had decided that as they were going to be driving through a somewhat less prosperous area of that they needed to make some attempt to blend in. Michael might have been less swift to agree to the plan if he'd realised that it involved playing Hip Hop through their cars stereo with the bass turned up full. The bar was, from the outside, exactly as Michael had been expecting for the area through which they'd travelled. Daniel pointed out the possibility that it was nicer on the inside but as Michael countered "I wouldn't get your hopes up..."

The bar was a dive. As far as Daniel could tell the barman was mortal as were a couple of the patrons but the majority of those lounging around were in his opinion kindred. The Brujah that Michael knew as 'Damsel' was engaged in an impassioned debate which seemed to mainly consist of her shouting loudly and threatening violence. As Michael approached he got what appeared to be a genuine smile and was reminded of Roach's childish taunts implying that she'd become a little enamoured of him. "He'll tell you..." Michael found himself the centre of attention as Damsel involved him in her debate "...This fucking idiot thinks that the Camarilla 'has merit' as a concept. He should be ashamed to call himself an Anarch..."

Damsel - Brujah
Nines Crew
Other than a security camera pointed roughly in the direction of the entrance, Daniel could see nothing that counted as a security precaution. Of course the fact that the building had a large quantity of armed Brujah within was probably adequate enough of a defence during the hours of darkness at least. The relatively cramped interior would also make any form of combat relying on speed and manoeuvrability difficult but would definitely favour the hard-hitting bar-room brawling style preferred by many Anarch's of the Brujah clan.

As he completed his assessment of Nines bar he noticed that Michael had successfully dismantled Damsel's verbal sparring partner with a combination of skilled debate, superior knowledge of the subject matter and the other kindred realising he was in very real danger of having the shit kicked out of him by Damsel herself. "Well that told him, 'bout time we had an Anarch baron who actually talks like an Anarch...not that I needed the help of course." Michael confirmed in his least patronising tone that he was sure she'd have won the debate without his assistance but that he couldn't talk any more right now as he had to go and see Nines. As he made his way up the stairs indicated he noticed that Damsel appeared to be going for round two of the argument but this time she didn't involve him.

Skelter - Gangrel
Nines Crew
Skelter was waiting inside the upstairs bar area just inside the door. He had a shotgun and a handgun in an unusual shoulder rig barely concealed beneath a military style jacket but seemed in no hurry to obstruct Michael's passage to Nines himself who was leaning casually against a wall in one corner. Daniel found himself a corner from where he could see the whole area and the door and if anything was even less impressed with the security on this floor.

"They've agreed to abide by the Anarch rules when outside the chantry and not to bring any of their problems from inside, with them when they do." Michael summarised "They have no plans to upset the status quo and effectively are Autarkis Kindred obeying Anarch rules when out and about." Nines was satisfied with the explanation though Skelter wanted to know if there was "Anything to worry about?" Michael decided not to mention about Alannah as that would just cause the exact trouble that he'd spent so much effort to avoid so merely repeated what he'd already told Nines.

Skelter put it to Nines that they still needed to keep an eye on the chantry so they could see who if any-one the kindred within chose to visit. Nines okayed the plan but warned Skelter to be careful when operating in Marius's territory as he was already "On the offensive for some reason..." Skelter was well aware of what his fellow Gangrel was capable of as he had attended the clan 'Gather' that had occurred earlier in the year. Though he didn't mention what he'd learned about Marius's visit to the chantry Michael also counselled caution.

'Nines' Rodriguez - Brujah
De-facto Anarch Baron
"So Michael, did you speak to Damsel?" enquired Skelter with a big grin on his face. The Toreador confirmed that he'd been dragged into a debate with her and another kindred in the bar. Skelter then did a passable impression of Damsel talking about Michael before referring to her as his 'Fan Club'. "Very impressive.."countered Michael "...have you thought of going on stage as an impersonator?"

Both Nines and Skelter were clearly amused by the situation and Michael played along but secretly he was somewhat concerned about what might happen if Damsel discovered that his dedication to the Anarch cause was less genuine than she thought. 'A woman scorned' would no doubt be an inadequate description for her ire in those circumstances.

With Nines crew now kept in the loop it only remained to inform the Crypt Sons leader 'Hank'. Having never dealt with him before other than his brief conversation at the meeting he had no mutual contacts to arrange a suitable rendezvous and mentioned this to Nines.

Fortunately Nines himself offered to set one up for him and made a phone call while Skelter wrote down the address on the back of a slightly soiled beer mat. Michael handed the beer mat to Daniel, thanked all there and left. Damsel was fortunately too occupied in yet another debate to waylay him as he departed.

Scene Eleven - The Crypt's Sons Baron
The address was of a house in a neighbourhood deep within the Crypt's Sons domain. This particular home was at the far end of a wide street that ended in a large open area with houses on all sides. Many of the side roads were blocked with parked vehicles and alleyways and side entrances to houses were blocked by fences, gates or debris. This meant that any approach via vehicle had only one way in and one way out.

As Daniel drove to the address they'd been given he observed that because of the haphazard lay-out there were a number of ways for an individual to sneak in. He could also see men with assault rifles and SMG's on a number of roofs and at various look-out points along the street who had a good view of the road and a number of other potential approaches. Bypassing the mortals amongst these watchmen would be fairly simple though it was likely that many would be kindred which opened the possibility of some possessing supernatural senses.

The specified house had it's driveway blocked by two cars parked across the frontage. As they approached the two cars pulled back enabling them to park on the drive which Daniel did. As he pulled in front of the house the two cars pulled in behind them effectively blocking them in. Committed now, Daniel opened the car door for Michael and followed him through the front door past two gang members openly carrying weapons. Once inside another hulking figure carrying a blackened shotgun directed them through the house to a kitchen area at the rear.

Seated at a dining room table was Henrique 'Hank' Boyd, Baron of the Crypt's Sons and de-facto gang-leader of the mortal criminal network that shared their name. Half a dozen armed gang members were in the room with him who Daniel presumed must all be kindred. Michael took the seat offered him while his Banu Haqim bodyguard and driver stood by the kitchen entrance where he could see both the way in and keep his eye on the room. "Well?"

Henrique 'Hank' Boyd - Brujah
Crypt's Sons Baron
Michael gave Hank the same version of the events at the chantry that he'd given Nines in that he omitted both Alannah's outburst and Marius's visit. "I'm surprised you came personally..." said Hank "...I expected to get the news third hand or via some expendable messenger." Michael pointed out that he considered omitting Hank when he'd informed all the others in person would have been disrespectful in the extreme. He had as much right to know the results of a meeting he'd been present at as any other baron there. Hank leaned back in his chair and seemed to relax somewhat, Daniel noticed that the guards seemed to become more at ease as soon as their leader had done so.

"I'm used to Ventrue, Toreador and the fake philosophers of my own clan looking down on me like I'm some kind of Caitiff..." stated Hank in a tone that clearly indicated to Michael that he was sick of it "...So the fact that you came down here to my domain and told me one to one what went down took me by surprise a bit." He laughed in a seemingly genuine manner and a moment later several of the others present followed suit. "So one Baron to another I appreciate the show of respect." The sentiment seemed genuine and Michael began to realise that despite the brutal reputation of Hank and his gang that their leader did seem to have a code of his own that he would stick to. Not wishing to overstay his welcome and reasonably happy that he'd managed to generate at least a modicum of good will, Michael and Daniel left they way they had came and headed back to the gallery.

Epilogue
Victoria Anne - Ghoul
Personal Assistant to Marius
As far as Michael was concerned the work and the danger had paid off with dividends. He had once again cemented his reputation as not only a kindred with a talent for diplomacy but as an individual who could get things done. The blood mages within the chantry were potential allies in his long-term plan to take Los Angeles for the Camarilla and he's managed to deal with some of the most powerful of Los Angels Barons without making an enemy or having to pick a side. They'd also managed to accomplish all of this with no-one any the wiser that Daniel was in fact Banu Haqim not Brujah.

With the mission complete, Daniel's thoughts returned once more to the issue of who exactly had betrayed his presence in Los Angeles. He decided to see if Marius had made any progress in the investigation on his behalf but manage once again to get Victoria instead. Presuming that Marius's ghoul knew pretty much everything that he was involved in he enquired if she knew if he'd had any success.

"I'm afraid he's dealing with that matter personally as it involves pulling in favours from those who wont deal with a mere ghoul." Daniel was reasonably sure that no-one in LA considered her a 'mere' anything so it looked like the enquiries were being made further afield. "As soon as he's back from San Diego I'll give him a prod for you." Knowing not to push his luck, Daniel thanked her a moment before she hung up on him.


To be Continued in 'The Carmelita Situation' - 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...

I was planning on 'hand-waving' a lot of the reporting in to the Barons but one of the players wanted to roleplay approaching the different barons in different ways as he planned on not telling them all entirely the same story, lol.

Another wanted to tactically assess all their havens to look for weaknesses in case he had to deal with them at a later date. This meant an extra two PC session occurred...it actually turned out far more interesting than I expected and I'm always happy to indulge reasonable player requests for roleplaying opportunities.

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Countess Visconti is Elizabeth Hurley, 'Chick' is Lena Headey, 'Lee' is Bai Ling, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Damsel is a cosplayer called Irina Delnova, Skelter is Vin Diesel, Hank is Michael Clarke Duncan and Victoria is Lilith May. 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...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.
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