Sunday, 18 September 2022

Vampire the Masquerade - V5 - Session One Hundred and Nineteen - 'Methuselah' (Part Eight)

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 two North-Eastern Baronies and a large part of a third. 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. There are however a list of potential triggers listed before the introduction. 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, and Epilogue
Story Twenty Two - 'The Unbound' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Story Twenty Three - 'The War Council' - Part OneTwoThree and Four
Interlude Session - Recon
Story Twenty Four - 'Resistance' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Interlude Session - Damage Limitation
Interlude Session - The Killing Spree
Story Twenty Five - 'Personal Agendas' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Twenty Six - 'Strange Bedfellows' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive and Six
Story Twenty Seven - 'The Fiorenza Sanction' - Part OneTwo and Three
Story Twenty Eight - 'Hunters Hunted' - Part OneTwoThreeFour and Five
Story Twenty Eight - 'Hunters Hunted' - Epilogue
Solo Session - 'The Salubri Tome'
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Part OneTwoThreeFourFive
Story Twenty Nine - 'Methuselah' - Part Six and Seven
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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, 'Accountant'
Sofia Rivera - Toreador, 'Hollywood Scourge'

The Storyteller
Garreth - Everyone else...

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.

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. Introductory pieces that I read to the group are in Blue. 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.

Trigger Warnings for This Session: Blood (Obviously)

Introduction
Michael's meeting with his 'sister of the blood' Sofia has been interrupted by an attack by unknown kindred and well equipped mercenary allies. Now the coterie needs to unravel the mystery of how the location was discovered and what to do with Sofia now their enemies are aware that she has revealed Isaac Abram's and Sir Matthew Lubbock's secrets to them.

Sofia Rivera: Toreador, Childe of St├ęphanie Mayoux

Scene Forty Five - Bloodstone
Michael first decided to deal with matters for which he had actual solutions and so phoned Mr Hertz. "I need your contacts to retrieve some abandoned vehicles..." began Michael. "...their previous owners no longer have any need of them..."

Mr Hertz discerned his Barons meaning instantly.

"I'll have them towed away and disposed of appropriately. Do you require any other assistance? I can have appropriately skilled employees put on standby if you so desire?"

Michael agreed that this would be a good idea, then hung up. Now he needed to piece together recent events with Hope, Vin and Daniel.

Pisha - Nagaraja
Necromancer and Occultist
"Where's Pisha?" was his first query. Daniel was the first to reply.

"She walked into those shadows..." he replied, gesturing vaguely at a shadowy alleyway. "...and never came out the other side. She at least did us the courtesy of cleaning up the mess before she left.

The coterie was still coming to terms with the way the Nagaraja had casually turned the city block into a scene from a horror movie and then reduced the corpses to little more than dust. This also raised another concern which Daniel decided to vocalise.

"We should be knee deep in Marius's sweepers by now. The Circle, The Swarm, Ennoia's Hunters, The Coyotes...I could go on, but I don't think I need to labour the point. The only help we got was from a kindred who was already here and would likely have defended herself in the same manner whether given permission to or not. She didn't exactly stick around long once the danger was gone either and you could argue that the clean-up was as much to prevent questions being asked about her, as about us..."

"You think Marius threw us to the wolves?" asked Hope.

"I think..." interjected Vin. "...that if Marius wanted us dead he'd just have sent that list of Sweepers that Daniel just reeled off and that would be that. We're fucking good, but there's fucking limits..."

'Rose' - Caitiff
Zipper's Sire and 'Handler'
Daniel had to agree with Vin's assessment. Marius's lack of assistance meant that he might not have given a shit if they'd all met their final deaths, but that was far from an assassination attempt.

While they contemplated this, Michael made another call. This time to 'Zipper' who monitored the 'MacNeil System' on their behalf. This was an updated version of the computer system that Jeremy MacNeil used to monitor all information held on, or added to, police database's around Los Angeles. Michael mainly used it to gain advance warning of masquerade breaches but it had other uses too.

"Rose? Get Zipper, it's urgent.

Rose was Zipper's sire, lover and to some extent 'handler'. When concentrating on a project, Zipper often forgot to cater to his own most basic needs. Without Rose he would forget to feed for weeks and had been near to torpor on several occasions.

After a brief pause, Zipper picked up the phone. "What do you need, boss?"

"There's been an incident in Downtown and yet there isn't a cop in sight, not even a distant siren. I need you to find out if those calls to the authorities have been diverted, suppressed or just never happened for some reason. This takes priority, understand?"

'Zipper' - Caitiff
Expert Hacker, Childe of 'Rose'
Zipper indicated that he understood perfectly.

Daniel was mentally admonishing himself for the lack of security precautions he'd taken in relation to this meeting as well as his flippancy during the early stages of the assault. Perhaps in his attempt to regain his humanity he'd began to overcompensate in the opposite direction. He was momentarily distracted from this chain of thought as a choker around Sofia's neck caught his eye. 

"How long have you had that?" asked Daniel, pointing at the blood-red stone at her throat.

Sofia thought for a moment, and the distress on her face was plain to see. "I have absolutely no idea...."

Amongst the coterie only Daniel and Vin had any knowledge of Blood Sorcery, and Vin's was specific to a single ritual that he used to communicate with his sire. Fortunately, Daniel's knowledge was wider in scope.

"I think that's a bloodstone..." announced Daniel. "...and if I'm correct then I know exactly how we were discovered so quickly. The creator can unerringly sense the direction and distance to the stone which would have made following Sofia childsplay. They also only last a week so she should remember who gave it to her. The fact that she doesn't means they've probably messed with her memories too..."

As usual, Vin got straight to the point. "Can they be destroyed?"

Bloodstone Choker
"It's basically a pebble of iron or a small magnet fuelled by blood, so yes it can be easily destroyed. The only downside is that whoever made it will know of it's destruction pretty much instantly."

Michael decided to force a premonition. Though the results were often vague, he was becoming better at deciphering them and in this case he had something to focus upon. He held out his hand and Sofia handed the choker to him.

He saw a handsome man with boyish features, blonde of course, holding a choker identical to the one that Michael himself now held. He then saw his 'sister', standing like a statue, her eyes vacant. The pretty man removed another piece of jewellery from her neck and tossed it aside, replacing it with one he'd seemingly recently created. "Wear this always..." he stated, and even through a vision of the past, Michael could sense the words penetrating Sofia's mind. 

Inexplicably the figure turned to face him, and it seemed to Michael that this kindred knew that he was being observed. Then the vision abruptly ended. Shaking his head to clear it, the mental image of this unknown kindred stayed with him and he was convinced that this was Sir Matthew Lubbock's childe. Barely a neonate in age, but with the potency gifted by the embrace of a Methuselah.

Michael threw the offending item into a nearby drain.

"That stays here..." he stated, matter of factly. "...and Sofia comes with us." He then turned to Sofia, his voice was firm but his desire to protect his sister was apparent. "You can't return to Isaac and I won't put you back in the hands of Lubbock's childe. I'll find you a safe haven while we decide how to end this threat once and for all."

Interlude - An Unexpected Lack of Consequence
Victoria - Ancient Ghoul
Marius's Personal Assistant
The recent battle in Downtown has resulted in no consequences whatsoever. 

No follow-up from Marius, no admonishments, no threats, not even a follow-up call from Victoria. To all intents and purposes it never happened. Pisha's necromantic ritual destroyed both the corpses she summoned and those that you and she created leaving little evidence and Mr Hertz has retrieved and disposed of all the vehicles involved.

Other than a few miscellaneous shell casings from unregistered firearms, the scene is as clean as is possible. 

Also suspicious is the complete lack of police involvement. It is common knowledge that Marius has near complete control of the emergency services and utilities of Downtown and it's surrounding area, yet implementing such a cover-up without demanding payment is out of character in the extreme.

Daniel is sure that Marius could have interfered directly had he wished to do so, and in normal circumstances would have done exactly that. Pisha, a plausibly deniable asset already on the scene, was the only aid offered and she too disappeared the moment the incident was over.

Scene Forty Six - Bonds
After some consideration, a better plan for the bloodstone was conceived. 

Fortunately, nothing discarded in an L.A. sewer is truly lost and it was a small matter for one of Mr Hertz's vermin companions to retrieve the item. The stone was then transported by various creatures under the Nosferatu's control to locations that Sofia might reasonably frequent. 

Mr Hertz's Vermin Companions - Unliving Hive

Hopefully this would create the illusion that the item was still with it's original owner and that she was anywhere but where she actually was. Any time they could gain to plan couldn't help but be of use.

They also discussed the necessity in removing the bonds that Isaac, or this mysterious childe of Lubbocks, might have over Sofia. It was little use in keeping her safe if she could be summoned from their protection with a mere word. 

Marius Walker - Gangrel
'Fixer' and Baron of Downtown
The coterie also had no idea how to break a blood bond and their primary sources of occult support unfortunately involved dealing with Marius, who was likely cooperating with the very kindred whose controls they were attempting to circumvent.

Michael then had an idea. If anyone else in the city would have looked into subverting the bonds of elder kindred, it would be Nines or his associates. Michael and Damsel were on very good terms so he decided it was worth at least asking the question.

Vin and Hope were tasked with protecting Sofia while Daniel accompanied Michael to The Last Round, the base of operations of Nines crew.

Daniel retrieved his newly repaired vehicle from Mr Hertz's car dealership, one of many businesses he used as a front for money laundering, as it was both armoured and contained several locations in which weapons could be concealed. Considering their recent experiences Daniel no longer considered Downtown to be safe to travel through and wanted to take every precaution possible.

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The Last Round has apparently resisted any attempt to upgrade it along with the area that it stands at the centre of. Though the street outside is marginally cleaner, The Last Round itself still has an image guaranteed to put off the casual passer by.

Damsel - Brujah
'Den Mother' of Nines Crew
Damsel is sitting at a table adjacent to the stairs to the upstairs rooms that are typically the domain of Nines, Skelter and any kindred who have decided to speak with them. As she sees you enter, Damsel ushers away those in her company with a scowl and a wave of the hand.

"...and what exactly can I do for you this evening?"

"I'm afraid it's business, not pleasure..." began Michael. "...I need to speak to someone I trust on a matter that's somewhat personal. An Elder of my clan has someone I care about a great deal blood bound to them and is using them to further their own ends without any concern for the consequences to their thrall."

Michael noticed Damsel grimace at the word 'Elder', Daniel's attention however was on the patrons of the bar. Given the power over others that their enemy potentially had, Daniel now trusted no-one, and was on the lookout for any sign of betrayal. He had taken the ease with which they had been located and ambushed the previous evening quite personally.

He recognised all present, but several of those seemed unusually tense. He decided to broach the subject with Damsel after Michael had fully explored the question of his 'sisters' blood bond.

As expected, Damsel had much to say on the subject.

Carna, the Princess Witch
House Carna
"Shattering blood bonds is a subject that Nines has a great deal of interest in. The Tremere have rituals that can do stuff like that but for the most part you need vitae from the asshole in control as well as the idiot who agreed to it in the first fucking place. We did make some progress in the matter but then we hit a dead end..."

"One option is to try one of the factions at the Chantry. I hear that some of the Carna lot are okay and they don't like blood bonds any better than most normal kindred, but from what we could discover, they're more about prevention that cure. The Anarch House, you know, the ones with the name with too many fucking vowels in don't seem to have access to any useful rituals in that area. At least not any of the ones we've managed to speak to. Sorry I don't have any more information than that about them..."

"There's a second option but I'm not sure it's any more useful than the first."
 
"There was a Malk, called Vasantasena, or something equally unpronounceable. She and her brood joined the Sabbat, then left when they discovered their policy on blood bonds was actually even shittier than the Camarilla's. Some joined the Camarilla, others the Anarchs. All possess the zeal and charm she apparently wielded like a knife. All fight for something which is good, but they're rare as fuck, which is bad. No idea where you' even start asking about one of them. Don't have any Malkavian friends do you?"

'Roach' - Malkavian
Presumed Destroyed
Despite it not being her intention, this latter comment struck Daniel deeply. He still blamed himself for the date of Roach, one of the original coterie members. He had been lost, presumed destroyed, during their battle with the Blount sisters.

Storytellers Note - If you're interested in that story it can be found HERE.

Michael decided to, partially at least, reveal some of their current suspicions to Damsel, knowing that she would share them with Nines.

"There's...something...in L.A. something very old and very dangerous. If everything doesn't go to plan then I would appreciate you, Nines and Skelter being there to fight along side us. Amongst the kindred of this city there are few I trust completely, and I number you and your crew amongst that number."

Damsel could see how serious Michael was, and how tense Daniel had become so knew that this was something of the upmost importance.

"You have other allies..." said Damsel, clearly concerned. "...do you have reason to doubt their commitment to the Anarch Free States?"

Michael was reticent to use the names of those he was hinting about a sit had been implied to him that to an ancient as powerful as Sir Matthew Lubbock that might be enough to draw his attention.

Sir Matthew Lubbock - Toreador
4th Generation Methuselah
"I'm not very good at jokes..." began Michael. "...but this one might explain my problem. Three men walk into a bar. An ancient English aristocrat, A Hollywood Mogul and a Downtown 'Fixer'. The fellow from Downtown has all his children with him...I forget the punchline but by the end of it all three own the bar and everyone else is fucked...."

Damsel nodded in recognition. "That makes our own problems seem relatively minor."

Daniel took this as an opportunity to query why the patrons of the bar were so tense.

"Nines and Skelter are hunting a poacher, which is something they don't normally have to concern themselves with. Marius or one of his trained killers are usually on top of that shit, but at the moment it looks like they don't give a fuck. Technically, I guess it's our problem now we've got this as our feeding ground, but it's just odd..."

This news was a concern to Daniel. "Tell them to be careful. Last time we had a poacher around here we nearly lost you..."

The memory of how close she came to final death was clear on her face. "I'll remind them to take appropriate precautions." she replied.

Storytellers Note - That particular event occurred in this story HERE.

Michael had one final thing to say on the subject. "Daniel is correct. You and Nines, whether you like it or not, are figureheads for the Anarch cause. Should anything happen to either of you then the Free States would lose their heart and their spirit. Please be careful..."

After some small talk, the pair left the bar to consider what they had learned.

Scene Forty Seven - Lunatics
Daniel only knew of only three Malkavians with whom he could reasonably make contact. 'The Cabbie', L.A.'s transporter for hire, wasn't known for being talkative so was unlikely to be much help. 


They had dealt with Dillan Fitzgerald, the Malkavian designer of havens and other kindred related building products, on several occasions and he might be useful. The only other member of that clan that sprung to mind was Hamish Moody of Therese Voerman's commando coterie but they'd never as much as spoke to him. Perhaps they could contact him through Daniels acquaintance, the Banu Haqim 'Chick'.

Dillan Fitzgerald - Malkavian
Architect
A quick call to Dillan was incredibly informative as he revealed that Hamish Moody had often spoke of Vasantasena and so it was possible that if not a descendent of hers, then at least he might know of one. Now they just needed to persuade him to help.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott agreed to facilitate the meeting but had some minor reservations.

"I can arrange a meeting, but it'll have to be near to the border. Hamish doesn't like to travel, well, except when he suddenly decides he does. Malks aren't exactly the most predictable of kindred."

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It seems that Hamish wishes to meet you at the Santa Monica Pier, a place that none of you have visited since the circumstances that led up to the so-called 'Cross Rebellion'. 

Daniel kept a careful lookout for anyone who might be following them but saw no sign that they were being tailed.

Storytellers Note - The player rolled only a single success so he had no idea one way or the other.

The Pier is fairly busy but not packed. The weather is unusually dreary for this time of year which may have put off some potential visitors. A casually dressed, 'Chick' meets you at the pier entrance.

Charlie 'Chick' Abbott - Banu Haqim
"I thought a personal introduction might be in order. You never really know whether your going to get the serious version of Hamish or the playful variant. The playful version is the worst to be honest. You've heard the expression 'plays with his food'? That's Hamish in a nutshell I'm afraid..."

Hamish is waiting for you in the office that once belonged to Jenna Cross. A young man and what you presume is his girlfriend are leaving as you arrive. Both look confused and nervous in equal measure and ignore you as they re-join the crowd.

Daniel's medical training revealed to him that both were slightly anaemic as well as being on some form of 'high'. He also concluded that their nervousness was merely adrenaline as they showed no signs of being under the influence of any narcotic.

Hamish himself is an imposing figure, close to six and a half feet tall and well built. He has red hair, and a closely cropped red beard and despite obviously being 'blushed' his skin is still quite pale. He grins broadly as you approach.

"So what does the Arbiter of L.A. want with one of the lunatics?"

Michael detected a hint of smugness from Hamish, as if he was pleased with the situation, though Michael was often unsure of the accuracy of his deductions when it came to Malkavian's. Their madness's manifested themselves in many different ways and they were anything but predictable.

Vasantasena - Malkavian
6th Generation
Michael decided to get straight to the point.

"Vasantasena?"

Interlude - Vasantasena
Vasantasena and her Malkavian sire Unmada travelled the world throughout the Middle Ages, preaching against the Blood Bond. 

They rejected the vinculum, traditional Kindred hierarchy, and all loss of free will. Ultimately, they condemned the Antediluvians for their cruel tyranny through Jyhad, joining the Sabbat during its formation. 

As the Camarilla had, the Sabbat rejected her cause, instituting both hierarchy and ritual enslavement through vitae. 

She eventually rejected them in turn, assembling a faction of Malkavians to embrace freedom from the Sabbat. Vasantasena’s descendants are many and varied, and all of them followed her from the Sabbat before the sect’s recent, bestial devolution. 

Some joined the Camarilla, others the Anarchs. All possess the zeal and charm she wields like a knife. All fight for something.

Scene Forty Eight  - Descendent
"I thank you for the history lesson..." said Michael, diplomatically. "...but what we really need is a descendent of Vasantasena's who is aware of the methods she used to break the bonds of blood between regnant and thrall..."

Hamish Moody - Malkavian
Descendent of Vasantasena
Hamish looked serious for a moment before smiling. "That, I can help you with. in fact I can fetch you one right now..." Hamish rose from his chair and left the office. A moment later there was a knock on the door.

Chick rolled her eyes and answered the door as Hamish strolled back into the room. "I hear your looking for a descendent of Vasantasena’s..." he said as he strode back towards the chair he'd vacated only moments before. "...well I've found you one. So what exactly do you require of me?"

Daniel and Michael exchanged a look. Michael's dealings with Roach had convinced him that most Malkavian's played the role of fool to distract from the fact that they were no such thing. He had no intention of underestimating this one.

"Someone I know is subject to a blood bond that I wish to remove. They have been tormented enough and I wish it to end. A true leader should be followed without the need for such artificial methods of control. We Anarchs should be working for our mutual benefit, not the petty needs of the one..."

Michael could tell that Hamish found this last statement amusing and made no attempt to hide it. Michael continued as if he had noticed nothing, despite his irritation.

"...but whether you believe that or not, it is possible that you are in a position to help me and as Arbiter of the Council I'm certainly in a position to repay you suitably for that help..."

The Odious Chalice
Hamish's 'Price'
Hamish made no comment and the silence stretched out uncomfortably. A moment before Michael was about to prompt the Malkavian, Hamish began to speak.

"It's simple but dangerous nonetheless. Not for me necessarily, but potentially for anyone nearby. You see, I'll need to drink some of the thrall's vitae and then ride out a frenzy. The connection between my own vitae and that which I consume will enable me to...actually...I haven't a fucking clue how it works, I just know it does...of course there will also be a cost...if you have a talent then providing it for free seems...crazy..."

This time it was Michael who decided to remain silent. He was sure that the Malkavian had a price already in mind. No matter how unpredictable other kindred thought they were, Michael had negotiated with some of the most dangerous kindred in Los Angeles and prevailed. He also knew a stacked deck when he saw one. The price would be mentioned soon enough. Of that he was certain.

He didn't have to wait long.

"You once had a Malkavian amongst your group. One Johnny West, known to you as 'Roach'." It was a statement not a question so Michael continued to wait. For the second time this evening, Daniel winced at the name of one he believed he had failed to save from the Blount Sisters.

Maximillian Strauss - Tremere
House Tremere - Former Regent
"He took from the former chantry of Maximillian Strauss, a Tzimisce creation of flesh known as the Odious Chalice. I will exchange access to my gifts, in return for this artefact."

"That..." replied Michael. "...is an agreement that I'm happy to make. How soon can you perform your part of the arrangement?"

Hamish turned to Chick. "We'll need access to your murder basement. I'll need restraining of course, and we need a place in which we'll be undisturbed." He turned back to Michael and Daniel "Shall we say, tomorrow evening? If you can acquire my payment by then of course."

As Daniel left with his Baron he could have sworn that he heard Hamish whisper something but Michael didn't appear to have heard anything.

Daniel wasn't looking forward to sorting through Roach's belongings but was sure that it wasn't going to be Michael doing the searching.  "You couldn't have saved him..." was what he thought Hamish had said. Perhaps he had simply imagined it.

As they left, Michael got a call from Lisa about a 'special' guest wandering around the gallery, accompanied by a number of armed guards.

"What does this 'special' visitor look like?" asked Michael, already reasonably sure that he knew the answer.

Lisa hesitated before replying, clearly unnerved by this mysterious guest. "He's blonde, pretty, and acting as if he owns the place..." It seemed that Michael's fears were confirmed. "As soon as we arrive, get out and take the staff with you. Heather too if she's there."

Michael turned to Daniel.

"Get Vin and Hope to meet us at the gallery. I have a feeling that we're going to need all the backup we can get..."

Scene Forty Nine - Childe
Childe of Sir Matthew Lubbock
5th Generation Toreador
A blonde kindred, handsome and youthful, though possessed of an arrogance that tarnishes his beauty, is perusing some of the darker works within the gallery. Two men are waiting by the Gallery entrance, their eyes constantly on the move watching both their charge and any other movement within the room. Both are handsome, though neither are blonde. Apparently they are yet to be moulded in the image preferred by their master.

Vin recognised one of the two guardians. "William. Taking a break from your duties as an Archon or have you found a new job, what with Justinian's demotion?"

The athletically built kindred looked at Vin like something he'd like to scrape off his boot. Nonetheless he replied, though with a less than friendly tone. "Just because the Gangrel no longer have a Justicar, doesn't mean that all of us abandoned our sect and went running to the Anarchs. Anyway, I hear that your sire is still trying to regain a reputation dented by having not one but two traitors as childer..."

The others were surprised that Vin made no reaction to this slur, and simply smiled grimly and walked back to the rest of the coterie. He was still smiling when he made his next statement to the rest of the coterie. "If this becomes violent, then that cunt is mine..." Vin casually undid his jacket and loosened his revolver in it's shoulder holster, he then slid his right hand behind his back and rested it on the hilt of his cleaver. Daniel walked over to Vin and removed one of the stakes he'd inherited from Marius from within his coat and subtly tucked it into Vin's belt. Vin tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement of the gesture.

Hope meanwhile called upon the powers of her bloodline, increasing both her resilience and those disciplines she possessed that were solely focussed on destruction. If things did "...become violent..." as Vin had hinted they might, then she wanted to be ready.

Heather Taylor - Ghoul of Marius
Galerie Sanguine Employee
Daniel watched Lisa and the other staff head out via the loading bay entrance. Despite this area being observed by their uninvited guests, no move was made to prevent their evacuation. It was then that he noticed that Heather was till behind the counter.

"You need to leave too..." Daniel reminded her. "I'm in no danger..." she replied.

Daniel felt that there was something different about her but had no time to work out exactly what. He'd tried his best to get her to safety, now he had other problems to deal with.

The blonde man makes a show of finally noticing you and walks in your direction. As he does so you notice several gallery patrons cease pretending to be interested in the artwork and move into strategic positions within the room. The two doorway guardians drop into place behind him and are replaced by other 'pretend' patrons.

"Michael Tomassio, I presume?"

Michael had seen this kindred before, not in person, but from his recent premonition. This is the individual who had Sofia on a leash. His tone was dripping with arrogance and Michael found himself in the unusual position of hating another kindred on sight.

"You have something of mine. I would like you to return it, so as to avoid the unpleasantness that will occur should I be forced to take it by force. It's name is Sofia Rivera..."

"Sofia is a 'she', not an 'it'..." replied Michael, ignoring his usual attempts at diplomacy. 

St├ęphanie Mayoux - Toreador
Sire of Sofia and Michael
This bastard had invaded his domain and Michael was uncharacteristically angered by the insult. "...and I'm not about to hand over my sire's most favoured childe to you. In fact if you were smart you'd be concerned about that. Sofia is more dangerous than I, and my Sire is more dangerous than us both combined. You therefore might want to think twice before attracting her attention."

The arrogant childe of Sir Matthew Lubbock seemed unconcerned by the threat.

"Your weakling sire is of no concern to one who has the favour of mine. Matthew could destroy you all with a thought. The two most powerful kindred in this city already answer to him, what could you possibly do against such a force?"

Without any knowledge of the age and abilities of the kindred facing them, Daniel was having trouble working out their chance of success should a fight break out. He needed more information before taking on a force of this size but he doubted he'd have a chance to acquire it. Both Vin and Hope were on hair triggers. 

It seemed that Michael had managed to control his anger enough to make a vague attempt at diplomacy. Daniel hoped it would buy them some time. He was growing tired of being constantly on the defensive.

"You have us at somewhat of a disadvantage..." began Michael. "...but it's debatable whether that advantage is great enough to guarantee your victory should bloodshed occur. You should also consider that our primary target will not be chaff."

At their Barons implied command, the coterie all turned to the childe before Michael, and prepared themselves to act. Vin's hand gripped the handle of the weapon granted to him by his sire and was ready to use it to butcher all who threatened his Baron.

Vin's Cleaver - A 'Gift' from his sire

For a moment Michael was unsure whether his threat would be effective. He had no idea how old this childe was, or how far they had developed their vampiric talents. After a moment, he took a step back and the patrons under his control turned to leave.

"You have one more night to comply with my request. After that I will be far less reasonable." stated the childe, apparently trying to give the impression that leaving was his idea and not an act of cowardice.

As they were alone once more, Daniel noted that Heather was finally leaving. There was definitely something 'off' about her this evening but he was too tired and angry to bother to investigate further.

"I really want to see that prick die.." said Vin, vocalising what they were all thinking.

"I have a few ideas about how to do it too." replied Daniel, now fully focussed on the task in hand.

It seemed that they now had very little time to come up with a definitive plan as their deadline was now only a night away...

To be Continued in 'Methuselah' (Part Nine)

Storytellers Conclusions
I sometimes 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....

Things are beginning to get tense and the coterie has now more or less been forced to act immediately. The players role-played the situation excellently and it's encouraging to see them still so immersed in the scenarios after three years of playing the same characters.

The next session should be very interesting indeed...

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, Vincent Ghast is Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope Romero is Deborah Ann Woll, Mr Hertz is Charles Dance, Sofia Rivera is Eliza Dushku, Pisha is Ambre Vourvahis, Rose is Thylane Blondeau, Zipper is Johnny Galecki, Victoria is Lilith May, Marius Walker is Tony Curran, Damsel is Irina Delnova, 'Roach' is Kurt Cobain, Sir Matthew Lubbock is Michael Douglas, Dillan Fitzgerald is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlie 'Chick' Abbott is Lena Headey, Hamish Moody is Pablo Schreiber, The Childe of Sir Matthew Lubbock is Lucas Till, Heather Taylor is Liz Vicious and Stephanie Mayoux is Emily Beecham.

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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