Friday, 19 July 2019

Vampire the Masquerade V5 - Session Thirty Seven - The Blount Sisters (Part Two)

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

The PC's
Player controlled characters
Michael Tomassio - Toreador, Baron of Pasadena
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast - Brujah, Sheriff
Hope Romero - Gangrel, Scourge
Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim, 'Fixer'

The SPC's
Storyteller controlled player allies
Johnny 'Roach' West - Malkavian, Seneschal
Marie - Clan Carna, Occult Advisor

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

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

Introduction
The coterie are endeavouring to limit the depredations of the Blount Sisters by hunting down the rival that they claim is forcing them from their more acceptable feeding grounds.

The sisters have guided them to a recent crime-scene for them to use to further the investigation but the real possibility that they are being manipulated has increased the groups paranoia considerably especially as they were never one hundred percent sure to which of the sisters they were speaking.

Their own Malkavian seer 'Roach' has exasperated the situation by attempting to start a smear campaign against the sisters upon his discovery that they were serial killers of both kindred and kine. Unfortunately the one thing he lacked was actual proof other than his powers of premonition and the black veins he could see within their auras. However the Blounts were skilled liars and had managed to convince their peers that even these signs of diablerie were merely the result of two poor old ladies defending themselves from those who sought to take advantage of them. This has left the coterie with no choice but to assist the pair in spite of their own wishes.

Scene Five - Trails of Blood
Daniel first tasked his ghouls with doing some reconnaissance of the areas in which this alleged new predator had been sighted. He cautioned them both to be careful which inspired Andrew to suggest that it might be safer to overview the wilderness areas with something like a drone which Daniel agreed might be a good option especially to overview some of the larger areas they needed to check out.

With that underway Daniel informed Michael that he was heading to the most recent suspected attack site and asked Hope to accompany him as back-up.

As was his habit, Daniel parked some distance from the place he was to visit but this time placed his vehicle closer than he would do normally so Hope could have a clear view of the house he was about to break into.

As expected the former meth lab was still sealed with police tape so before he approached too closely he used his supernatural abilities of stealth to assume the guise of a generic individual who could conceivably be expected to be in the area. Deciding to leave the door seal intact he instead looked around for a way to gain access to the loft entrance.

Dr Daniel Matthews - Banu Haqim
Reconnaissance
As he circled the building he noted that there was blood on the outside wall and that the grass alongside the crime scene had been crushed as if something had been dragged along the ground. Briefly looking around to gain his bearings it looked as if the drag marks went in the direction of the mountains though he realised of course that a change of direction could occur at any time. Hope then watched somewhat impressed as Daniel effortlessly jumped three metres straight up to a second floor window ledge before effortlessly scaling the second floor and slipping into the house via the unlocked loft.

Storytellers Note - Daniel's player has the Potence ability 'Soaring Leap', The Celerity ability 'Cat's Grace' and an Athletics skill speciality in Parkour. For stuff like this I don't even make him roll dice anymore...

The inside of the loft was a mess. A bloody smear went from the loft entrance, down the wall and across the floor to the entrance to the second floor. This struck Daniel as odd as there was nothing to indicate that a body had been removed this way and certainly none of the victims had been discovered here, rather this seemed to him to have been the point of ingress which made the blood trail seem incongruous.

The bloody smear continued into the upper floor and as he descended the ladder he could see the blood splattered bathroom where one of the victims had been dumped. This struck Daniel as a good way for an attacker to conceal the fact that they'd taken a lot of blood from the victim which immediately made him think that another vampire was involved. This of course meant that the Blounts could actually have been involved though sneaking in through a loft didn't seem like there style in his opinion.

Making his way downstairs he could see more signs of the gun battle mentioned in the police report as blasts from shotguns, handgun rounds and the zig-zag of sub-machine gun fire could all be seen on both floors as well as in the destroyed meth lab within the homes garage.

Recreating the scene from what he observed and the police information it seemed to him that the victim in the living room had been taken first, probably with very little chance for them to respond. This matched the autopsy details putting the killing wound as being in the back of the neck. It then looked like the attacker had moved into the meth lab where the second victim had been dispatched and where the first shots had been fired.

Tracking the direction of bloody footprints he theorised that the woman had made a break for it while shooting wildly and the predator had caught her on the second floor and left her in the bathroom after more or less tearing her to pieces.

The large piercing wounds within the victims and the apparent massive blood loss made him think inexplicably of something like a large mosquito though that did nothing to explain the bloody smears unless it was something bloated or snake-like. Having gained more questions than answers he swiftly evacuated the house and returned to ask Hope just what animal forms she knew of Gangrel taking...

Hope explained to Daniel that broadly speaking most Gangrel preferred a fight and a flight form though there was some cross-over between the two. Something large like a wolf or dog was usually complimented by something like a bird, bat, rat or similar. She did also point out that hers was not the only clan that had similar abilities and that the followers of set who had now apparently re-branded themselves as 'The Ministry' had the power to assume creature forms also. It was also common knowledge that though the image had fallen out of favour that many of the elder members of the ministry had a preference for snake forms in emulation of the imagery allegedly favoured by their antediluvian founder.

Taking Hope back to where he had discovered the crushed grass they both attempted to follow the trail but were foiled as it reached a roadway and disappeared without trace. With this avenue exhausted they then decided to see if they could gain an audience with the feared Gangrel of The Wilds where the Blounts alleged the creature had been driven from.

Interlude - Common Courtesies
Yukio Hayashi - Ghoul of Marius
Assassin and Head of Security
Michael decided that if they were going to be asking advice from a group who had explicitly stated that any kindred entering their domain without permission would experience final death with no warning given, it might be an idea to be one hundred percent sure they were expected. Of their contacts, Marius had the best relationship with the pack for two reasons.

Firstly it was he who coordinated the various Gangrel who patrolled the many baronies of Los Angeles for the purposes of sharing information on potential threats to Los Angeles as a whole such as the Sabbat and secondly their pack leader of sorts was his grandechilde. With this in mind he dispatched his own Gangrel 'Census Taker' Hope Romero to Marius's base of operations to see if such a meeting could be safely arranged.

Hope was somewhat surprised upon her arrival at Hallowbrook Apartments that after making her way through the usual extensive security precautions she was met by neither Marius nor his PA Victoria but instead his ghoul enforcer Yukio. "No Victoria today?"

Yukio confirmed that both the Gangrel 'Fixer' Marius and his psychotic ghoul Victoria were dealing with "some other business..." and that at risk of being rude she needed Hope to get to the point as she was currently buried under tasks allocated to her by the absent Victoria. "She's not off practising her stand-up routine is she?" asked Hope with all the sarcasm you would imagine and was rewarded with a wry smile from Yukio.

Hsi Lai Temple - 'The Wilds' Elysium
"I'm afraid not. She's off doing something with Marius that 'can't wait' and I'm left with more tasks to accomplish than I have time to do. Victoria seems to think that just because she never sleeps that no-one else does either..." As Hope had been in Marius's employ for some time before going to work for Michael she had a slightly less informal relationship with his operatives than others had so felt safe being a little bit flippant.

Yukio bought the conversation back to the subject in hand. "So, your baron Michael and a few others of his entourage want to meet the Wilds Pack to discuss some urgent issue and you'd like to reach it without being torn to pieces?" Hope confirmed that this was the case and Yukio continued. "The Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple, Located in Hacienda Heights has been declared a sort of Elysium due to the recent Sabbat situation meaning that we actually need to talk to Myranda and her pack periodically. As long as you take a direct route from their borders direct to the temple you wont be harmed, though I'll let them know your coming anyway, just in case." Hope then gave Yukio a brief overview of what exactly they were doing and why the meeting was necessary as a courtesy though she was reasonably sure that Yukio's boss would get a report on the situation from Myranda anyway. She then left to inform Michael of the arrangements.

Scene Six - The Wilds
Samael - Gangrel of the Wilds Pack
Michael's first problem was persuading Vin that he was needed to defend the barony from possible incursions rather than accompanying them to meet the Wilds Pack. Some months ago Vin had attempted to assert his dominance over one of the pack named Samael and had for the first time blinked first. This loss of face had niggled at the Brujah ever since and Michael was concerned that the rivalry could cause tempers to flare during what was already likely to be a difficult meeting with the territorial Gangrel.

Once Vin had been placated after being informed by Michael that he was the only one "That could be trusted with ensuring the safety of the barony as a whole." he sent Hope and Daniel to the scheduled meeting.

Senses on full alert as they entered the Wilds in Hope's rugged jeep both the Gangrel and the Banu Haqim could see that an unusual amount of wolves seemed to have emerged from the woodland to observe them at every significant junction and that flocks of predatory birds were following their route precisely. Though the pair had a number of weapons with them in the jeep they were sensible enough to make no threatening moves. It was well known that the last group who entered the Wilds uninvited were a number of thin-blood and caitiff poachers whose fangs were returned to their leader Jenna Cross in a small jar the very next evening. The kindred themselves were never seen again.

Lezabel
Gangrel of the Wilds Pack
The temple itself was closed at this late hour but the gate to the car-park area had been left open in an obvious invitation. Moments after they had parked, a young woman appeared from the shadows who Hope recognised from the Gangrel 'Gather' as Lezabel. Hope was aware of how protective the rest of the pack were of her and subtly indicated as much to Daniel. "Please follow me and I'll take you to where the rest are gathered." Daniel politely pointed out that they had been informed that the Temple was the only place that was exempt from the 'kill on sight' proclamation to which Lezabel informed him that they just used that as a well known landmark for people to be met at and that they were quite safe as long as they didn't do anything 'silly'.

The actual place of meeting was a large but apparently abandoned house nearby. They were escorted within and led to a cellar entrance. "Do you need the lights on?" asked Lezabel of Daniel as she seemed to presume that as a fellow Gangrel, Hope needed no such help. "It's up to you..." replied Daniel. "...I can see perfectly well either way...". Lezabel smiled briefly as if it had been some kind of test before turning the lights on anyway.

The stairs led to a cellar, constructed out of the rock beneath the house which had been expanded considerably. Heavy supports kept the ceiling above in place and several dark alcoves within the outer areas presumably contained other entrances and exits as Daniel doubted whether the creature standing opposite could have fitted through the stairway they had just used.

Lola
Gangrel of the Wilds Pack
The four members of the Wilds Pack where joined by their guide and stood in a rough semi-circle on the opposite side of the cavern. A tattooed woman with bone jewellery and glasses known to Hope as 'Lola' was licking blood disconcertingly off her fingers over to the left while nearby a slim man with the dead eyes of a shark wearing a tatty coat stared at them both intently. Daniel presumed this was The 'Samael' whose very existence so riled Vin. The leader Myranda was wearing a dress that was dangerously close to being underwear but of the five seemed to be the only one who had taken any care over their appearance. She smiled almost maternally as she was joined by their guide Lezabel.

Though each of these was intimidating in their own way the real monstrosity was the one known as Nicodemus. Standing some eight feet tall even leaning over, with long arms with vicious talons dripping some foul green ichor and other spiked limbs emerging from the back of his chitinous armoured shell visible even through the vast tarpaulin he used as a makeshift cloak. One side of his face was a mass of arachnid eyes while the other held a single human looking orb that was somehow more disturbing for it's normality compared to the face in which it sat. Fangs that no doubt meant death for any on which he fed dripped the same poison that coated his talons. Hope had watched the creature and Marius fight for dominance at the Gangrel gather and had to admit that she was still surprised that the fixer had emerged victorious. Seeing him once more her suspicions once more turned to the idea that he had chosen second place for some purpose of his own.

Nicodemus - Gangrel of the Wilds Pack
The visitors explained the purpose of their visit and the mission they were undertaking on the Blounts behalf before asking if the creature or anything like it had indeed been driven from their territory. Myranda turned to Nicodemus as if seeking his approval before answering some of the questions asked of them.

She explained that when the five members of the group calling themselves the Wilds Pack first united they rid the area of all competitors within the feeding ground. The last to be dealt with made their haven within an area that seemed to be inherently corrupt. This housed three vampires, two Brujah and a Caitiff who seemingly drew power from the location. Investigation led them to believe that the location itself had once been some kind of sacred ground for the Lupines but for some reason had been abandoned. Myranda then asked for a detailed description of what they were hunting and Hope and Daniel passed onto them the descriptions given to the Blounts by the few early survivors and the added information from the last crime scene. An unpleasant chuckle emerged from the maw of the arachnid Nicodemus. "I told you there was one more..."

Myranda
Gangrel of the Wilds Pack
Myranda explained that they had entered this Caern and discovered that the energies within had turned the kindred within into limbless bloated worm-like creatures, deep red skin coated with a bloody lubricant, pupils grown to take up almost the entirety of their eyes. Muscular, rasp-like bands lined the underside of the torso of each, allowing the once vampire to move with terrifying speed through muscular contraction, they had even shown the ability to ooze up walls and across ceilings. Though now without fangs their tongues had been re-purposed into a far more effective blood-drinking tool in the form of a three-foot long, jointed siphon ending in a deadly sharp needle. The pack had destroyed the two bloody worms they'd found and had presumed the third had been consumed by the others before they arrived.

At this point a sound something like a cough emerged from Nicodemus's throat. Myranda turned and glared at the interruption before back-tracking slightly. "Or should I say, It was I who presumed that this was the case there being no sign of a third creature..." she then paused a moment. "...it seems I was mistaken..."

Both Hope and Daniel took some consolation from the fact that this monster was at least possible to kill. Daniel took the opportunity to learn more "You say it was once kindred?" Myranda nodded in agreement. "So when you destroyed them did it seem that they still had our kinds weaknesses and strengths?" "As we hunted them at night..." replied Myranda "...we have no way of knowing if they still shared our aversion to sunlight but it seems likely as they always hunted during the hours of darkness." She continued. "They were strong, fast and quite resilient to damage but how much of that was the result of disciplines they already possessed is unknown to us."

The Blounts - Toreador
She then offered to help them with the tracking of the creature as she admitted to feeling at least partially responsible for the devastation it was now causing if it was indeed the third monstrosity they had missed. She did however point out that this was unlikely to be the only such area of corruption within Los Angeles and that if this one could create such a monster from a kindred then perhaps this was an entirely different problem created somewhere else.

Hope and Daniel excepted the offer of help but asked that their observations be subtle and that they passed on the information to themselves rather than taking matters into their own hands. After all, they had permission to operate within the Blounts domain, the Wilds Pack did not. The two groups agreed to meet here once more tomorrow evening to discuss their relative findings and then the visitors were escorted back to their vehicle by Lezabel. "I can see why other kindred try to avoid pissing them off..." said Daniel as they left. "The one doing all the talking was Marius's grandechilde..." stated Hope "...there was some tension at the Rant when she dropped that bombshell so fuck knows what's gone on between them..."

With the dawn rapidly approaching the pair reported their findings to Michael and Vin. Daniel's attempt at humour "Hey Vin! Samael says Hi!" fell as flat as expected. Hopefully they would make some more progress the following evening.

Scene Seven - The Usual Suspects
The Consolidated Chantry of Los Angeles
As their second meeting with the Gangrel of the area known as 'The Wilds' wasn't until later that evening it was decided to spend some time seeing what their other sources might know. Michael used the opportunity to visit Marie at the Tremere Chantry in Downtown, Daniel went to see his friend Alonzo beneath Hollywood while Vin coordinated the security forces under their control to make sure the barony stayed secure until this creature was found and destroyed. Hope meanwhile had taken the opportunity to hunt as she was growing dangerously hungry.

As Marie and Michael sat in one of the three meeting rooms within the chantry, Marie explained that she had little experience with the corrupted creatures of which he spoke but was happy to do some research on his behalf using the chantries records.

Michael enquired about the chantry itself and was informed that after a shaky start the three houses within had began to cooperate on certain projects and exchange some of their knowledge with one another though it was of course early days, or early nights in this case.

Three Houses of Clan Tremere
Alannah it seemed was as fiery as ever but the familiar atmosphere of the chantry had appeared to calm her a little and she was now almost tolerable to be around if you caught her on the right night. This reassured Michael as it was the head of the House Tremere faction that he believed was most likely to create problems. Marie had herself settled in well but still assured Michael that she was happy to offer advise and help if he ever needed it and would keep him informed if anything radical occurred between the Houses.

Daniel decided to ignore the protocol of informing Baron Abrams of his visit and just headed straight into Hollywood and down into the warrens beneath it. Those rats who were obviously acting as observers each got a small piece of cheese from the pile that Daniel had put in his one pocket. As he made his way deeper into the warrens he noticed that yet more security cameras had been installed at strategic points and wired into the existing power systems. Though newly installed they looked salvaged and were definitely not new in of themselves but between these and the vermin it would be almost impossible for any-one to approach unnoticed. Hearing the now familiar clicks and clunks of traps deactivating ahead of him he made his way into Alonzo's laboratory and home.

Alonzo - Nosferatu
Ancient Warrens
The monstrous guardian within the central pit that Alonzo had named Eula reached out a tentacle almost affectionately towards Daniel as he circumvented it's watery home. "I thinks she's beginning to like you..." called out the Nosferatu as Daniel approached. Daniel noticed that what he had taken for spawning pits or tanks on his last visit were now filled with liquid that had a reddish tinge to it though were otherwise unoccupied. One wall had also been removed and wiring from the existing system had been spliced into by new cables and led off into the darkness. "More redecorating?" enquired Daniel. "I need somewhere for a new project." replied Alonzo, somewhat vaguely before changing the subject. "In what way can I educate you today, my young friend?"

Daniel laid out what he'd learned initially from the Blounts and then later from the Wilds Pack and asked if Alonzo had any experience with such a creature. Alonzo however had some other warnings to issue first. "Be careful when dealing with the Blounts. They ate their own father so that gives you some idea of their value system. They do however weed out the weak and stupid so they have their place in the order of things I suppose." Daniel wasn't sure he agreed with the assessment but kept his opinion to himself as Alonzo shared more of his opinions.

Marius Walker - 'Boardroom' Gangrel
"The Wilds Pack as they now call themselves aren't a lot better to be fair. As individuals they spent as much time getting in each others way as they did dealing with their own affairs but now Marius's grandechilde has united them they could be very dangerous should she infect them with her own ambition."

Daniel suspected that Marius was keeping them onside for exactly that reason and said so to Alonzo though the Nosferatu continued as if he hadn't interrupted. "Of course in terms of age Nicodemus predates Los Angeles by about four centuries and has spent a worrying amount of time near those Caern's that the werewolves are so keen on protecting since he's lived here it's not surprising he's so...different..." Daniel queried this last statement as he'd heard that older Gangrel or those with potent blood sometimes kept the animal features they gained from frenzies and presumed that this was the case with Nicodemus. "True enough..." agreed Alonzo "...but those are usually completely random. It's not out of the bounds of possibility for them to fit a theme but it would be the exception not the rule." With his opinions on the mentioned groups apparently done with, Alonzo moved onto the subject of the Caern and the creature it had allegedly spawned.

Black Spiral Dancers Tribe - Caern
"Caerns are very holy sites to the werewolves and other changing breeds, and they will work to their utmost to claim them and protect them so it's unusual that these rogue vampires found one unattended. Caerns also have a very thin...well...it's hard to explain...they allow easier travel between the physical world and...other places..." As it didn't sound like Alonzo was going to elaborate he filed away the information for later assimilation as the Nosferatu once more changed subject. "...these Caern's, not all of them are for want of a better term 'good'. Some are inherently corrupt and allow things to pass from these 'other' places I mentioned to this world. On rare occasions they can inhabit a host and...change it to suit their nature...what this one was or now is I have no idea but killing it should be no different from killing any creature with a physical form."

Storytellers Note - To any werewolf players reading this...it's what the vampires in question believe, not necessarily how any of this shit actually works...so please don't send me any angry messages about the Lore, lol.

Hope Romero - Gangrel Scourge
The Beast in Control
As Daniel made his way back out of the Warrens, Hope was having a frustrating evening looking for a suitable meal and eventually decided that the next person she saw walking down an alleyway alone would have to do. Unfortunately for both them and her, she had left it just a little to late and the first taste of blood enabled the beast to gain control and she lost control. As the blood filled her body she noticed that the death of the mortal had completely quietened the beast within.

As the revelation passed she realised she was in the middle of the barony she was meant to be protecting, standing over an exsanguinated corpse. Panicking she rang Daniel for help, explaining the situation as quickly as she could. "I'll be there in ten minutes..."

Fortunately for Hope the area of town she'd selected was fairly quiet so Daniel could park fairly close to the area in question. Using all his abilities of stealth both trained and supernatural he moved the corpse to the boot of his car and urged Hope to get in the passenger seat. "Look Hope..." he said, the seriousness in his voice made the Gangrel pay attention. "...I know a place where I can dispose of this body and it'll never be found but...and here's the problem...It's not something I'm ever meant to speak of and you can't either. Understood?" Hope nodded her agreement.

Daniel drove to the postern that led into the abandoned hospital that was supposedly the prison of the Nagaraja Pisha and dumped the body in what he had taken to referring to privately as the 'food hatch'.

Pisha's residence in Los Angeles was based around Marius's assurances that she was kept safe and sound within the hospital building and that there was no chance of her getting out. Daniel on the other hand was well aware that this was complete bullshit and if she wanted to she could leave whenever she damn well pleased.

He was also reasonably sure that should this fact be revealed the next meal fed to the cannibal would probably be him so it was important that Hope kept his confidence. "I don't plan on making a habit of this..." was Hope's reply. She didn't sound terribly confident about it though.

Interlude - The Wilds Pack
Vincent 'Vin' Ghast
'Staredown'
After cleaning up Hope with cleaning supplies from his medical kit and discovering that helpfully she apparently kept several changes of clothing in her jeep he swung by the gallery to pick up Vin who had insisted on being there for their return visit as Michael had run out of meaningless tasks to keep him occupied.

Daniel suggested that Vin stay in the car but he steadfastly refused to do so and joined Hope and Daniel as they followed Lezabel and her wolf to the same basement they'd met in the previous night. As Vin made eye contact with Samael the contest of wills was engaged for the second time. In his defence, the Brujah held the gaze longer this time but eventually he found himself looking away on this occasion as well.

Myranda chose to ignore this particular exchange and spoke directly to Daniel. "Based on the location of the attacks and other sources we have discovered the lair of the creature with aerial reconnaissance..." Lola smiled and gave a theatrical bow "...and confirmed it with a perimeter sweep on foot..well...feet..." the pack leader glanced at Lezabel as she spoke "...we have marked the location on a detailed map of the area provided by a contact of Samael in one of the local forestry commissions."

Samael reached behind him for a cylindrical tube leaning against the wall but gave no sign of handing it over. "Perhaps you'd like our assistance?" Daniel couldn't help but feel that it didn't sound like a question.

"Though we would of course value your help..." said Daniel, thinking quickly. "...it might look like weakness to the Blounts if we didn't complete this task ourselves. I'm sure you understand the need to show strength in a situation like this?"

With a nod from Myranda, Samael tossed the map case to Vin who stared straight at him as he spoke. "If you ask nicely we'll sort it out for you when...i mean IF you fail..." Vin turned and left, muttering to himself as he did.

Scene Eight - Final Hunt
The Lair of the Bloodworm
Though he would have liked to double-check all the information they'd received, time was of an essence as the creature was due another attack any time soon so Daniel had to settle for a very brief reconnaissance.

The cave was in a treacherous part of the mountains though it was probably less so if you were basically a giant, blood lubricated snake. The discussion on strategy was fairly brief as their options were broadly speaking, wait for it to come out or go in and get it. Waiting was of course an issue as they still had no idea if it could travel during the day and they certainly couldn't. Eventually it was decided that Hope and Vin would set up a crossfire across the entrance and Daniel would attempt to lure the creature out. It wasn't the most sophisticated plan Daniel had ever come up with but sometimes a simple idea was all you needed.

USAS-12 - Vin's Ranged 'Weapon of Choice'
Vin was wielding his full auto shotgun with the twenty round drum attached and Hope was using her more conventional Mossberg 500. Both figured that an area of effect would be more useful than precision fire in these circumstances. Daniel let them know that he'd let them know if it was coming and to make sure they shot it, not him. With the plan (such as it was) confirmed, Daniel entered the darkness and faded from sight.

Storytellers Note - It's refreshing for me when the players idea is something I've actually planned for.

The cave tunnel twisted and turned but seemed to have no side passages he could discern. Slowing as he approached an open area he edged forwards, senses at full alert. Unfortunately he'd failed to check the ceiling and a gigantic distended torso of what was once a kindred but was now something quite different, dropped down on him and attempted to drive it's spiked tongue through his throat. Moving his head at the last minute by pure reflex he dodged the bloody spike, pushed the mass of flesh from his body and staggered to his feet.

As it attempted a second strike Daniel moved so quickly that he disappeared from view and having travelled fifty metres in mere seconds ran the last stretch to the cave entrance and yelled that the thing was "Right behind him..."

Completely forgetting about the 'crossfire' part of the plan, Vin stepped forward and emptied the drum of shotgun rounds into the cave entrance as Daniel leapt aside. The monsters reflexes were as swift as Daniels and the Brujah's torrent of shotgun rounds hit nothing. A moment later the bloodworm emerged from the cave at incredible speed as Hope peppered it's side with her own shotgun but doing little but leaving superficial wounds along the bloody sac that made up it's upper body.

Blood Worm - Tongue
Rolling athletically back to his feet and bringing his own shotgun to bear, the Banu Haqim opened fire into the rear of the snakelike body causing more damage yet showing no signs of slowing it down. Dropping his USAS-12 Shotgun to the ground with one hand and drawing his two handed kukri with the other, Vin aimed a mighty blow at what he presumed was it's neck but the deeply penetrating blow seemed to merely enrage the creature. Moments later the needle sharp drinking tool that made up it's tongue drove through the Brujah's side penetrating nearly twelve inches into his body and began to drain the vitae from him.

Dropping his own shotgun, Daniel drew his own blade and aiming directly for the middle section sliced through the proboscis joining Vin to the bloody horror. An almost human scream emerged from the mouth as the remaining half of the tongue was drawn back into it's throat and it reared up as if to crush the one who had maimed it.

As it's torso became visible Hope noted that the plates protecting it's under-body met in the middle and separated as it moved. Extending her claws she gripped at the meeting point and drove her claws into the bloody sac that made up the bulk of it's form. Once she had a secure grip she used all her strength and ripped the two halves in opposite directions.

The bloodworm expired messily as the blood that it had drained from so many victims exploded outwards covering the three kindred and a good portion of the surrounding area in blood and viscera. Covered in blood for the second time in as many hours, Hope dumped her ruined clothes in a pile and walked naked to a stream they'd passed on their way to the cave and cleaned herself up before putting on her one remaining spare outfit. Neither Daniel or Vin had taken such precautions so merely removed as much clothing as they could and then doused the items and area in petrol before setting it alight from a nice safe distance. "Michael? It's done. Inform the Blounts that their competition wont be causing them any more trouble..."

Scene Nine - Behind the Mask
The North East Baronies
Michael found himself once again seated in the Blounts front room along with the now cleaned up trio of kindred who had solved the Blounts problem for them. Only one of the two sisters had chosen to appear this time and sat casually knitting the same scarf she had been working on last time.

"As agreed we have removed the third predator from Glendale and you can go back to feeding on only those that you stated were your previous prey." Said Michael, though he doubted he'd actually made Glendale much safer as long as the sisters still ruled it. "I trust you'll therefore keep to your word and allow us to speak for barony along with my own in areas of kindred politics?"

"As you wish deary..." chirped the silver haired of the two, sounding quite pleased with herself. "...just ensure that your Malkavian friend 'Roach' stays out of Glendale and stops spreading nasty rumours about me and Enid or we'll have to teach him a little lesson in manners..." Both Michael and Daniel who paid attention to such things were sure that the silver-haired of the two had introduced herself as Enid last time. Deciding it wasn't worth raising under the circumstances the four kindred turned to leave as the other sister glided into the room and took the other single seat next to Edith...or possibly Enid.

A moment before they left, they turned back as the two sisters both said "Goodbye deary..." at the same time and with eerily similar voices. Both had dropped the careful facade of innocence that they had carefully crafted and for the first time Michael and the coterie saw the pure evil and limitless malice that the pair felt no need to conceal in front of those who had done their bidding and were now dismissed. Michael was most shaken as he had never seen one of his clan fallen so low, let alone two together. All four left as quickly as they could and even Vin was happy to get out of Glendale and back to their own barony.

On the drive back Daniel voiced what they were all thinking. "They don't respect or fear us at all. We're right there in the weak and foolish category as far as they're concerned. They didn't even feel like they had to hide their true nature from us. If we don't do something about them, they'll come after us before long..."

To be Continued in 'Blood Money' - 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...

Arch enemies are a bit of a trope but in a vampire chronicle I think they keep a coterie on their toes...

Well there's no doubt now that the Blounts are very evil, manipulative and will be looking for any opportunity to make the coteries unlives miserable, so there's that. In all honesty they were getting a bit comfortable in their victories and as they're now a bit more visible and going after bigger fish I figured it was time they learnt that even winning has it's nasty consequences.

That said if they find a clever enough way to rid themselves of this new problem I'll let them run with it as I disapprove of railroading...even when I'm doing it...

Acknowledgements
I've used pictures of real people to represent some of the characters and art for others so in no particular order Michael Tomassio is represented by the actor Matt Bomer, Johnny 'Roach' West is quite obviously Kurt Cobain, 'Vin' is the actor Scott Adkins, Dr Matthews is Mads Mikkelsen, Hope is Deborah Ann Woll, Marie is Eva Greene, Myranda is Shannyn Visceral and Marius Walker is Tony Curran. 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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